This is my NaNoWriMo 2008 novel. In preparation of NaNoWriMo 2014 I've added it to my website.
I’m sure everyone remembers the day, the day the world went crazy. I know I remember that day like it was yesterday, even though it has been ten years since then though to be fair I haven’t forgotten much since that day.
I was six then and I had just gotten out of school. My parents were driving me home and I was wondering what i would bring for show and tell tomorrow. I remember the sky lighting up like someone had released thousands of fireworks into the air. The world seemed like it was covered with a giant rainbow which flickered and danced. The colors grew brighter and brighter until I couldn’t see anything. It felt like I was drifting in space, though then I wouldn’t know to make that comparison later.
When the light dimmed I first thought I was dreaming, and maybe I still am. The sky had returned to normal, but the rest of the world had gone crazy. I don’t know how to explain my first impressions of what happened. I remember the smell of sulfur, the flashes of red. How does one explain their mother turning into a demon? How does a mother explain turning into a demon? Pointed horns poking out of her black hair, a black tail snaking its way across the floor of the car, large bat-like wings carefully folded up. Her shirt even had neat incisions on them to allow her wings through.
I suppose the strangest part was that my mother didn’t seem to notice her own change, she was gaping at my father. My father had abruptly stopped the car and was staring out into the street. My father had always been bushy man who was quite proud of his beard. At first I wondered if his beard had grown to cover most of his body. Almost all of his skill had grown brown hair, his face was now a muzzle and a bristly tail now stuck through a hole in his pants. A wolf-man and a demon, what a strange couple.
I suppose you now want to know what happened to me. I’m sorry to disappoint you but I didn’t change. Well, that isn’t exactly correct, I didn’t outwardly change. I still looked the same but I was different then before. My memory is much better then it used to be, I hardly ever forget anything anymore. I’m smarter and more popular then I used to be, though how much of that is because of the change or if it was just chance.
My family wasn’t the only ones that changed, everybody and everything changed. Now there are Vampires, Fairies, Cat-people, Werewolves, Demons, Magical Girls, Wizards, Superheroes, and anything else you can imagine and quite a bit you probably can’t.
Those first few weeks were crazy, everyone was understandably freaked out. Yet, strangely, almost everyone accepted what they had become also as if they had always been that. I remember meeting with a my best friend a couple of days after the incident, like everyone else she had changed. You know how I mentioned Cat-people earlier, that is what she had become. Sharpened nails, an enhanced sense of hearing, and a funny looking tail suited her wild outgoing personality to a T. I’ve always been more prim and proper myself, but I have always been attracted to her carefree lifestyle.
She later expressed to me how she was disappointed that I didn’t change outwardly. Apparently she had hoped that I had become a Mouse-person so that she would be able to chase me around and pull my tail. I had hoped that she would be more of the “sleep on my lap and purr” instead of the “ruin my couches” type of cat, but neither of our hopes were granted.
Eventually life returned to a certain amount of normalcy, however that would soon change. A mere six weeks after the Change rumors began spreading, they spoke of a strange new world that was hidden just beyond ours. Something that would have been dismissed as impossible six weeks ago now seemed quite plausible. The rumors continued to spread as more an more people claimed to have entered this ‘New World’. It wasn’t to long after that that the first World Gate was discovered. World Gates allow unlimited access to the New World and soon the United Nations formed an expedition visit the New World and discover what was really there.
This expedition became know as the Unknown Expedition and it was the first official account of the New World and what it revealed made everything we had experienced so far not seem so strange.
However I’m not going to explain what the Unknown Expedition discovered, you can find that out yourself if you want to look though old news records. What this book is about is my own experiences and what I found in the New World and Beyond. It wasn’t until ten years after the Change that I first entered the New World. It was just after a new year of high school had started. It started when me and my best friend (You know, the Cat Girl) were walking home from school and it ended new friends, new enemies, and a prophecy which would change how I thought about the world (Again).
Chapter 1, The Upside-down Waterfall
It was in the afternoon after school and I was walking home with my best Eglantina who I usually call Tina or “The Damn Cat”. She, in turn, calls me Ema or “Ms Normal”. We bare each other’s cutting remarks well, maybe that is why we get along so well.
As I was saying we were walking home after school when we saw it. There was a fish swimming through the air. Now that soft of unusual even for people who see strange things every day, however normally the strange things we see are in the form of people. I flying fish is something you only hear about in the New World.
It flipped and flopped in the breeze it’s scales shinning in the sun. Of course this was just enough to cause Tina to lose control and give into her feral cat instincts. She jumped and pawed at the fish which flitted away into the air. It swam off into the bushed and Tina jumped after it. All I could do was follow her after the fish and into the bushes. It was all I could do to keep up with Tina and the fish as they dashed too backyards and down alleyways. My teachers say I’m in prime physical condition, despite my skinny build, but nobody in my class is faster then Tina. It didn’t help that she could easily jump over fences or squeeze through small holes. I’m usually quite proud of myself when I manage to keep up with her.
You can probably tell but this sort of thing happen quite often and if I let Tina go alone she undoubtable gets lost and isn’t able to find her way home until I come and find her. And so the chase continued until we arrived at a small park. The fish dived into a pool and Tina jumped right in after it. I stopped for a moment and took off my shoes before going in after Tina. She really didn’t think very much before she did things, if she did then she would remember that she hates water and swims like a brick.
Only as I dived in to save her did I realize that the pool looked strange. It was a strange green color and you couldn’t see the bottom. After I entered the water swirled around me dragging me deeper and deeper into the pool like an undertow.
When I finally came to the surface I was in what looked to be a cave. Light seemed to come up from the water refracting on the cave walls and casting a strange green tint on everything. Tina sat in the water with the fish flapping vainly in her mouth. She had a half contented look on her face though you could tell that she wasn’t pleased to be up to her waist in water.
“Ema! Look! I caught the fish!” She shouted excitedly at me. I really hoped that she wasn’t planning on eating that thing raw, though it wouldn’t be the first time she had tried something like that.
“Tina, what have you gotten us into this time and where the hell are we?” I responded, though the questions were more directed at the world and not Tina. I didn’t expect her to actually be able to answer that. “And don’t eat that fish, you don’t know what it has been.” I grabbed the fish out of her mouth an threw it back into the water. Tina looked a bit disappointed but reluctantly let the fish go.
We pulled ourselves out of the water and onto the slightly dryer cave floor. The ground was slightly slimy with some kind of moss. As I tried to wring out my shirt I asked Tina, “I don’t suppose you have any idea about where we are?”
Tina shook her head as she scratched at her wet ears, “Nope, no idea. But I do know that there are other people nearby. I can hear things off in the distance.” She turned her head slightly and twitched her nose. “And I smell food, I think someone is cooking something.”
Tina’s amazing sense of hearing and smell always amazed me. I guess having cat ears is beneficial. After we had finished trying to dry ourselves be scrambled up and went deeper into the cave following Tina’s keen sense of smell. It wasn’t very long until the tunnel opened up into a larger cavern. My mouth hung open a little as I stared. “Tina, Is that a church mostly surrounded by waterfalls that are flowing from the ground into the ceiling?”
Tina paused a second before responding, “That is what it looks like to me Ema, however that is where the smell is coming from so why not check it out.” I could only nod mutely and stare in amazement.
Tina took the initiative, like she usually does, and marched up building that looked like a church through the a small gap in the upside down waterfalls. I followed her and waited as she knocked at the door. There was a clatter from inside and some shuffling before a voice answered, “I’ll be there in a minute.” It was a man’s voice, he sounded younger maybe in his twenties.
A few minutes later show that my suspicions were correct. A tall man wearing glasses opened the door and indeed it looked like he was in his twenties. He also had faint lines running across parts of his face and hands (The only parts of him visible) that almost looked like scars. This was made more noticeable because his skin looked like it was different colors on different sides of his scars. His hair was short cropped but the color changed at different points like his skill color. He wore a simple well-kept green long-sleeve shirt with purple pants which made his clothing look as mismatched at his skin and hair.
He paused puzzled for a minute, though I’m not surprised, finding two wet high-school girls on his doorstep was probably the last thing he expected... well probably not the last thing. There are plenty of things that would be much stranger to find on your doorstep.
I smiled the best that I could given the situation. “Excuse me, but could you please tell me where I am?” I asked in my politest voice.
“How should I know where you are?” He responded in a voice that made it feel like he genially didn’t know how to answer my question. I stood there for a second almost waiting for him to say it was a joke or to reveal in his manner that he was being bothered by us and wanted us to leave.
After a few seconds I began to realize that it wasn’t going to happen. I really wasn’t sure how to respond, even given how everything changed I still expect people to act normally, maybe because most people still do.
As I was pondering what to say Tina broke the awkward silence by blurting out “That smell, is it chicken you are cooking?” She began smiling her giddy smile which I knew would invariably result in her doing something stupid, Tina likes bird almost as much as she likes fish.
The patchwork man had barely started to respond when Tina pushed her way through the door and bounded off to where I only assumed the kitchen was. The man stared blankly after her with a confused look on his face. I began to wonder if he was a free pieces of furniture short of a dollhouse.
“I’m sorry about my friend, she gets a little excited at times and then she doesn’t control herself. I suggest that if you don’t want all your chicken eaten then you should go after her and stop her, though it might not do much good.” I tried sounding apologetic though what Tina does isn’t really my fault.
The man shrugged slowly, “I don’t really mind. I rarely get any visitors out here and it looks like there wouldn’t be anything I could do to stop her. If you want to you can come in, you’ll catch a cold if you stay out there with your wet clothes.” He motioned me in and I was amount to wipe my shoes on the mat when I realized I had taken them off before I had jumped into the pool. I sighed and instead took off my socks so that at least I wouldn’t tramp water across the floor like Tina had.
The patchwork man closed the door after man and began walking toward the kitchen which I was hearing several sounds that I could only assume was Tina eating the chicken. While the outside of the building had looked like a church the inside looked more like a library. Books were hazardously piled all over the floor. The books were in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Their titles seemed to mostly be in languages I didn’t recognize which isn’t surprising because I never cared much about learning other languages.
I was wondering why the patchwork man, who seemed kind of slow, would have so many foreign books. Then a though occurred to me, maybe this man was foreign and he only sounded slow because English was a second language. I absently listened to the commotion that was coming from the kitchen will picking through several of the books. Most of the books seemed fairly new if ill-cared for. Was he the only person he lived here, it looked like it but I couldn’t tell for sure. Either way the entire place was a wreck with things scattered everywhere.
As I picked my way across the floor Tina came out of the kitchen carrying a drumstick. “Hey Ema, that guy said we could eat here tonight and if we want stay the night too.” She took a bite of the chicken and chewed for a second. The man followed her out of the kitchen carrying a couple of plates filled with chicken.
“Why are you doing this for us? I mean, we don’t even know each others names.” I was understandably suspicious that a strange guy would offer to let us eat and stay over. “Also we need to get home, my mom can be a demon when I stay out too late.”
Tina burst out laughing, “Ema, your mom is always a demon, you coming home late has nothing to do with it.”
I shot Tina a level stare, “That isn’t what I meant and you know it.”
The patchwork man laughed softly, “If it is names you are worried about then don’t worry. You cat friend told me your names and my name is Bix. However if your problem is your demonic mother then I don’t think I can help.”
“Well it would be better if me and Tina headed home, however I would really need to know where we are before I can do that. I mean the current in the pool is way to strong to swim back.”
Bix looked confused, “Didn’t I already say that I don’t know where you are. You’ll have to figure out how to get home by yourself. However I recommend that stay inside tonight, the caverns will start flooding in only a couple of hours. When you came knocking on my door I assumed that you would know that.”
I was stunned, the cavern was going to flood? “You mean we are going to have to stay here until the water lowers? Are we going to be safe in here? Isn’t there any way for us to get out of here before then?” I blathered out a constant stream of questions confused by the sudden turn of events.
“Would I be so calm if it wasn’t safe here?” Began Bix before Tina interrupted with a “Would you?” Bix looked over at her and responded, “Yes, the waterfalls outside will protect us. In a couple of hours I’ll be able to show you. “However I doubt you will be able to escape before the cavern floods, however that really depends on where you are. I know I wouldn’t be able to escape in time and I know where I am.”
I blinked slowly trying to digest his statement. All in a moment the truth struck me, there was only one place where location was subjective. “Wait... this is the New World?” I stood shocked at the realization, that suddenly explain how we reach a strange place and why there was something like an upside-down waterfall.
Bix nodded, “You didn’t know? Most people don’t accidentally wonder into the New World so I assumed you knew. Though I am rather surprised you found your way into the New World, most people don’t find their way here accidentally, well at least the first time.”
“Well we did follow a flying fish,” Tina grinned as I spoke, “ into a far too deep pool of water.”
“Since it wasn’t a well known portal it must have been a random gate, in a way you are lucky. Those types of portals don’t stay open very long, it could have easily closed after Tina win though and the she would have been stuck here without her.
And now I’m stuck here with her, not that I dislike her company after all I am her best friend. It’s just that, well, life is never boring when Tina is around and sometimes I just like to lean back and rest.
What should I say now, the two of us had to stay there with Bix until after the flooding. First we got to eat what was left of the chicken Bix had cooked, even after Tina had eaten her share there was still enough for me and Bix. It turned out Bix was a pretty good chief and the chicken was better then I thought it would be. It wasn’t until later that I wondered why Bix just happened to cook enough for the three of us, especially given how much Tina ate. Maybe he had been expecting visitors all along and when I later learned more about Bix the more I thought that was correct.
However at the time I had more important matters on my mind, like what sorts of hellish punishment my mom was thinking up for me. I wouldn’t say that she is cruel or mean, just that she likes taking certain things to an extreme much like Tina. It seems to be a fairly common personality trait.
Many of those who changed fall into a category I like to call Zoomorphism. These are the people who take on the appearance and characteristics of animals. This isn’t limited solely to animals, it applies equally to mythological monsters such as demons. Zoomorphs are the most common type of changed numbering more then fifty percent of the population. Granted, Zoomorphs are a very broad group and it might be a little unfair to lump them all into one group yet they all have certain features in common.
Like my mother and Tina they tend to act much in the nature of what they became, it should be noted that all those who changed already were very similar to the Zoomorphs that they became. Tina tends to be catlike, my Mother acts like a demon, and my father likes howling at the moon. I don’t usually understand their reasons for doing so but it must be part of their nature.
That aside I questioned Bix more about the New World, mainly to find a way home and found out some interesting things. First, after finding the right question to ask, I found that the area in the New World that we were in was called Buried Sea and that for him the closest city was Atlantis. I’m sure you have heard about Atlantis, ancient myths say it was a city that sunk beneath the ways. Well some settler thought it would be a bright idea to name the underwater city he founded after the sunken mythical city of Atlantis. And that is the story about where the name of the Atlantis I’m sure everyone knows about came from.
While I was prying his for information there was a large whooshing sound from outside. “Ah, its time!” Exclaimed Bix. He stood up and motioned us toward the door. We followed him hesitantly, would it be a good idea to open the door if the cavern was starting to flood.
When he opened the door I understood his belief. There was a wall of water surrounding the building where the upside-down waterfall used to be. The small break in the waterfall that I had passed through was no longer there. The cavern must have flooded almost instantly because I couldn’t see anything through wall of water. I slight shiver ran down my spine, what would have happened if we had been out there during that. I didn’t want to imagine.
The lights coming from the building refracted strangely off the wall of water and everything was cast in an emerald green color. I thought I could see fish swimming through the water, their scales shimmered in many colors and it looked like a rainbow was swimming past us. It was a very beautiful sight, like nothing I had ever seen before.
I looked over at Bix and asked, “Is this why you live here?” Bix didn’t respond, he only grinned in a way that made him look like a child.
Tina stared up at the wall of water with a look of amazement on her face, “Look Ema, look! There are rainbow fish swimming inside the water!”
Despite everything I couldn’t stop myself from smiling at everything.
How many times has my life been changed. I have lost track of the times. The first was the Great Change, but everyone was changed then. However I think the second time was when I stood before that emerald green wall of water and watched a rainbow swim by. I think it was then that I fell in love with the New World. Something had happened to me that I thought never would. It was something I had only heard about in television but something I wasn’t sure I even believed in until that moment.
It wasn’t until much later that I learned that the flooding of the Buried Sea was something that only happened every four years. While I try not to believe in Fate or Destiny I now think it might be more then simple coincidence that lead me and Tina there that day.
We watched the wall of water for what I think was hours, the three of us with silly grins slapped upon our faces. We eventually decided to return to the church turned library where to talked about what we saw for a long time. Bix made us some hot chocolate and he told us more about the New World.
While Atlantis was the closest for him he didn’t know if we would be able to find it, he spoke some about the subjective direction in the New World and that since the Buried Sea wasn’t Atlantis it was possible that we would arrive somewhere else when we left. However he did tell us the best way to leave the Buried Sea for when the water level dropped back down.
Eventually me and Tina fell asleep, I had thought I would be able to stay up all night talking about what I had seen and about the New World but before I knew it I had fallen asleep. The last thing I remember was Bix draping a blanket over Tina who had fallen asleep on one of the couches.
It was warm when I woke up. It seemed Bix had put a blanket on me too. I leaned up and wiped my eyes, I still felt a little groggy. When my mind finally cleared I stopped in shock. The church, which had been filled to the brim with books and mess, was now almost empty. Other then the couches me and Tina were sleeping on everything was gone. The books, Bix, all gone. I shook my head and pinched myself to check if I was dreaming but instead it just hurt.
I stood up and looked around. Tina still slept soundly, but that wasn’t surprising she usually slept longer then me. I doubt Tina would be able to get up for school in the morning if her mother didn’t wake her up... School! We were missing school, how was I going to explain this to my mother?
Chapter 2, Bugs and Boy
After what might be considered a revelation yesterday, I was confused as for what to do today. Bix was gone and my mother was certainly both angry and worried. Tina eventually woke up and managed to find some left over chicken in the kitchen, it seemed that not everything had disappeared with Bix. At least that was some proof that yesterday really happen and that Bix was actually real.
Even if he wasn’t me and Tina still needed to find a way home. I joined Tina for what remained of the chicken and thought. The only real clue we had was the path Bix had explained last night. It wasn’t much to go on, but it was better then any other choice we had.
All I could really do was put on my socks, which had dried during the night, and search for a way home. I was only glad that Tina was along for the trip even if everything was her fault because I don’t know if I would have been able to do it alone. Tina was her usual wild self. She pestered me endlessly about what I was going to do about the school we were missing, of course she didn’t care if she missed school but she found it entertaining that I did. I bore it for a while before I finally changed the topic by pulling on Tina’s tail. She hates it when I do that.
The outside of the building was the same was when we found it last night. It still looked like a church surrounded by upside down waterfalls. Though somehow Bix’s absence seem to make the entire place less lively. Maybe Bix had become my friend in that short night and I didn’t realize it.
We followed Bix’s directions, maybe through some stroke of luck we would find ourselves home instead of some stranger place like Atlantis. Though to tell the truth last night’s experience had made me want to explore more and to see new horizons in this New World. I had only heard stories about here and now I wanted to see more. Maybe we would see the shining jewels of Paradise or find love at Endless Beach.
Maybe my secret desires created the relative geography of the New World for me or maybe it was like that before I had seen the wall of rainbow fish but my secret wish was granted. However the place we arrive in definitely wasn’t Atlantis.
The air got warmer as the followed the tunnel up. The tunnel was barely lit by a small glow from the moss clinging to the floor and walls. I wondered if my socks would glow after walking on it. Soon we saw a brighter light up, farther along the path. The light nearly blinded us as we escaped from the Buried Sea and found ourselves in a forest of giant mushrooms.
The mushrooms were an uproarious riot of colors and sizes which made me wonder if any of them would be safe to eat. Would the purple spotted mushroom be safer to eat then the red and pink striped one. I heard the loud squawk of what must have been a bird. It made me realize how damp and musky everything had been under the ground.
“Ema, Look!”, that must have become Tina’s new catchphrase, “Those yellow birds are eating the mushrooms. I wonder what they taste like?”
“The mushrooms or the birds?” I asked, though I had a feeling I knew what the answer would be.
“The birds silly, who cares what the mushrooms taste like.”
“What if they taste like birds?”
Tina seemed to ponder that question as if I had truly brought into question her beliefs for the first time. I took advantage of her silence to head off into the forest of mushrooms. Now that we had exited the Buried Sea the directions that Bix had given us was no longer useful. We would have to find someone else to guide us from here. Since I didn’t have any clues as to where to go from here any direction was better then just standing still. Tina followed me still pondering the stumper I had given her. Seriously, was it that difficult of a question for her?
I was still living in an idealistic dream. I knew that the New World was strange, different, and beautiful. Even after the Great Change I had lived most of my life in relative comfort, never having faced any great difficulties before. While my journey to the New World had currently been exciting it had never really been dangerous. That was about to change.
Our first warning was when the bird that Tina had stalking turned it’s head, squawked, and took off. It was immediately followed by dozens of other birds of different species which all took off without notice. The whole cloud of them whirled and sped away. Tina’s eyes twitched, “Ema, I hear something, it sounds like a buzzing of some sort.”
We exchanged uncertain looks, finally I managed to ask “If the birds flew away then you think we should leave too. Maybe it is something else like the Buried Sea flooding?” What do you think are the chances of use running into two possibly dangerous encounters back to back. Well, that chances are quite good actually.
Our second warning came in the form of the ground and mushrooms shaking. Now it wasn’t just Tina who could hear the buzzing, I could hear it too. We barely had time to react before insects began flying out of the mushroom forest. They were small pesky things that one usually don’t worry to much about, however this time there were hundreds of them.
However everything went from bad to worse when the ground shook again and mushrooms fell to the ground as the largest beetle I had ever seen burst through the trees. It was at least as big as a horse and probably bigger. The smaller bugs swarmed around tiny whirlwind. Through the whizzing bugs I could see its thick black carapace. It had large pincers coming off of its mouth that were larger then my arms and probably sharper then a knife. I think I was more scared at that moment then I had even previously been in my life.
I mention that I couldn’t remember the number of times my life had changed. Well, this was another point. However it wasn’t the horror of the giant beetle that changed my life. Had it just been that then I doubt I would have changed, if I had run away and escaped I probably would have stayed the same. I would have thought that there was nothing I could do. If that had happened I would have stayed a coward. No, it was what happened next that changed me.
Tina hissed at the giant beetle though I could see that her arms and legs were shaking uncontrollably, mine probably would have been too if I hadn’t sunk down onto my knees. The beetle advanced on us and just as it got too close for comfort I saw a flash of light. Something human sized leapt from one of the larger nearby mushroom trees. Everything then happened so fast that I could barely register what happened. The form was carrying some long metal weapon... a sword? It crashed down on the beetle, the blade of the sword pointing down. It sunk into the carapace of the beetle almost up to the hilt. A moment later the sword had been pulled clean, slicing through the thick armor like it was butter. The person landed next to the beetle and in a single motion wiped and sheathed the sword.
The buzzing subsided as the bug, bereft of their leader, flew began flying away. The figure turned toward us and was finally able to get a clear look at him. He was young, maybe about my age. He was short, just a couple inches larger then me. His blond hair was shoulder length which give him an almost delicate look. However his eyes were a deeply piercing shade of red almost like you could feel energy coming from him. His movement were smooth and fluid which made him look like he was almost dancing. His clothing was as flowing as he was. The dark silver of his clothing was as distinct as its cut. His shirt was little more then a tunic, leaving his, too thin for his arms, bare. His pants were loose around his legs to allow easy movement.
I hated him. The moment I caught a glimpse of his piercing red eyes I knew I hated him. He may have saved me but he had seen my moment of weakness and he was standing there cool and calm as if his actions had been nothing important. I hated him, but I hated myself more. This boy, who couldn’t be older then me, had just done something I had been too afraid to even try. In front of this calm figure my weakness was even more pronounced. I never wanted that to happen again.
All of this however seemed to be lost on Tina. She seemed to recover almost as soon as the boy had defeated the giant beetle. I even her ability to bounce back like that and not dwell on matters like I do. Instead she seemed to have fixed her attention on the boy. Meeting new people always interested her and was usually enough to bring her out of any cloud of depression. (No that that happened to her frequently)
While I was still recovering from my shock and embarrassment, Tina decided to size up the boy. I felt it was unnecessary, we had just seem him kill that beetle in only a few seconds. However even she stopped when the silver clothed boy shot her with a violent stare.
“Leave this place, Now.” The boy’s voice was soft but threatening, or maybe what we had just seen made it sound threatening. He turned and without another word leapt up onto one of the larger mushrooms.
Who was this boy who could make such a fantastic leap. He didn’t look like a Zoomorph which might have explained his physical prowess. Maybe he was a metahuman, that could certainly explain what he could do. However, for some reason, that didn’t sit right with me. Somehow I felt that this boy wasn’t so different then me, maybe that was part of what made me hate him.
I couldn’t do much more then stand up and brush off my clothing as the boy whose name I didn’t know ran away from tree to tree. He was as fast as Tina and I knew I would have trouble catching him if I followed, I didn’t even know if I wanted to follow. We had met someone who might give us direction and he turn out to be a kid that I hated. The world is funny like that.
The only thing left to do know was decide what to do. We could follow the boy despite his warning to leave or... Or we could what? We didn’t know where to go even if we wanted to leave. We could return to the Buried Sea but how would we get home from there? We could try searching somewhere else in the mushroom forest, but who knew if we would encounter another giant beetle. Did we really have any other choice but to follow the boy. I consulted with Tina and she seemed to be in agreement with me, there did seem to be anything else we could do. I also just couldn’t let things stand with him, how could I after what happened.
So we followed the silver clothed boy who name we still didn’t know into the forest, though in hind-sight it might have been better to heed his advice and try another way of going home. To bad hindsight to useless when you are actually living life. I told you have have lost track of how many times my life had changed didn’t I?
Tina may be wild and ditzy some times but she can be really reliable. Her senses of smell and hearing are far better then mine. It would have been hard to follow the silver clothed boy with her senses, sometimes I wonder if she is more dog then cat. She’ll be angry if she ever reads this, she hates being called a dog.
We followed the boy’s trail through the mushroom forest, following small clues and smells that only Tina was able to notice. It reminded me of trying to play hide-and-seek with her when we were children, I always lost.
We finally exited the trees to find ourselves in front of a walled town. I could see the roofs of houses above the stone wall surrounding the town. High above all the houses I could see a castle rising out of the town. It felt like the entire thing had come out of a fantasy novel.
“Ema, these walls, they look new.” Tina pointed at the walled and I got closer to take a better look. Tina was right, the none of the stones in the wall seemed very weathered like the wall was only a couple of years old.
“Your right, it does look new. I wonder who would have made a medieval style city way out here.” It this is where the silver clothed boy went to maybe this was his home, but if that was the reason then why would he tell us to stay away. The whole thing seemed a bit queer to me. I really should trust my instincts like Tina does.
After we were done examining the wall we walked around the side looking for an entrance, after all there must be people inside this town. I was wrong. We found the gate, which was also in medieval fashion, portcullis and everything. However is was open as if left open for visitors. Even stranger still I couldn’t see anyone in the town.
“Nobody is here Ema. I can’t hear anybody.” Whispered Tina to me, I guess she really was worried after the beetle attack because she normally didn’t act like this. I guess wonders in the New World really don’t cease. But Tina was probably right, if she couldn’t hear anyone here then there probably wasn’t anyone here.
However it probably hadn’t been very long since people had been here. Things were left out on the street as if people had just dropped them and left. Everything seemed as if it had been untouched since then. As we walked through the streets in hopes of finding someone I noticed a few things. While the style of everything was Medieval they were bunches of modern conveniences. All of the buildings seemed to have been wired for electricity, though where the wires were or where the power was coming from was a mystery to me. Unfortunately for me and Tina there didn’t seem to be any phones of any kind. Maybe phones weren’t able to connect from the New World to Earth anyway.
“This place in lonely” Said Tina as she peered through the windows of the houses. “Its like these houses are waiting for people.” She actually sounded serious, “I wonder where everyone went.”
“I don’t know but it doesn’t look like they just went to the store. Maybe something scared them way. Do you think it might have been that giant beetle?”
“Hmmm, I don’t think so Ema. That beetle wouldn’t have been able to get through those walls.” She looked up at the castle, “Maybe we can find some answers there. I have a feeling we might see that boy with the sword there.
I followed her gaze up to the castle, “I think your right. We will probably find both the answers as to what happened here and the boy up there. But the castle might be where the boy was warning up away from. But we don’t really have much choice do we, I mean do you have a better way of going home?”
Tina shook her head, “Nope, going to the castle seems like the best idea to me too.” We were in agreement then, our only choice was to see what was happening in the castle.
We wound our ways through the empty streets up to the castle. Without people in the city surrounding it the castle seemed proud and mournful. The castle seemed larger the closer we got to it, almost like it was waiting for us to get closer to show us its true size. Like the walls outside the stones on the castle seemed new, who would have made such an enormous building way out here and why would they have done it?
As we got closer to the castle gates, which were also open as if inviting us in, Tina sniffed and said, “He is here, the sword boy. There are also some other people, I can hear them talking.” I nodded, slightly worried. What might it be that the silver clothed boy was warning us about, I guess we were about to find out.
We tried to move quietly as we moved through the castle following Tina’s sharp senses. I did the best I could at staying quiet, though Tina was definitely better at it then me. You path lead though the castle and to a set of stairs leading down, “Are you sure this is the right place Tina?” I asked, it wasn’t that I doubted Tina but I was starting to get worried.
Tina only nodded before leading the way down the stairs. As we walked down the stairs I began hearing people talk, this must be what Tina was hearing.
“Why won’t you stop this.” Came a voice from down the stairs. I stopped because I instantly recognized the voice as the silver-clothed boy. Who was he talking to.
“The entire town is gone, most of the were driven away by your madness. But there were still others when I left, what did you do with them?” The boy continued. There was a long pause, I held my breath as I waited not wanting to miss what was said next.
“Answer me sister, what have you done!” The boy was yelling now. His sister? I motioned Tina and we took a few more steps down the stairs.
“SILENCE!” The high ringing tones came up the stairs. This loud frozen voice was definitely not the boy’s. Was this his sister’s voice?
“Sister, can’t you see what you have become. Look at yourself, your not even remotely human anymore.” What was happening down there, I really wanted to see for myself. I continued to creep down the stairs trying not to make any sounds. I assumed Tina was following me.
“FOOLISH BROTHER, I HAVE’T BEEN HUMAN FOR TEN YEARS NOW. WHY SHOULD I PRETEND TO BE HUMAN NOW.” That voice, it seemed to freeze my blood. What sort of person could sound like that? It was like nothing I had ever heard before. However I was soon able to see what sort of person could make those sounds. I had reached the bottom the the stairs and judging from the voice I was very close, I only had to peek around the corner.
It was all I could do to avoid screaming. Across the room I could see the silver-clothed boy. Yet behind him was a monster, that was all I could describe it as. It was tall, bordering on eight feet, and icy blue. It still almost looked human, I mean it had two legs and two arms... yet it was wrong. The legs were no longer shaped right, it was light the broke into a thousand little pieces at it approached the floor. It looked more like dress made out of spider webbing then it did like legs. The arms were more recognizable, yet they were long, skinny, and clawed. However even the arms were long, they looked as if they had no joints looking more like clawed tentacles then arms.
But I think the scariest thing was that the face seemed normal. It was a woman’s face that stared out with pure blue eyes. She would have been quiet beautiful if it wasn’t for everything else. But her hair broke the illusion, it spread out behind her and seemed frozen in place and yet it moved. It seemed to flow together and looked like flowing frozen water. The silver-haired boy was right, his sister was not even remotely human.
“Why sister, why have you done this? Why did you abandon your duty to the kingdom that father left to us? Why did you stop being the kind sister that I loved?” The boy’s voice sounded desperate. As I watched I almost felt that seeing him like this was part of my revenge against him. It was as if seeming him so out of control dulled my anger at letting him see my weakness... and yet seeing after seeing his sister I still felt my weakness clearly. Was there nothing I could do?
“THE KINGDOM BETRAYED ME! NOBODY CARED ABOUT ME, AS SOON AS YOU LEFT THEY ABANDONED ME! THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SO KIND TO ME WHEN YOU WERE AROUND THREW ME ASIDE AS SOON AS YOU LEFT. THOSE FOOLS WHO PRETENDED TO BE HUMAN DESERVED EVERYTHING I DID TO THEM.”
It was hard to tell from where I stood but it seemed like the silver-clothed boy looked very very sad. Finally he spoke, “Sister... no I really have no right to call you that anymore. Jamel, even if the entire world abandoned you I would have protected you... but for the same reason I can’t stand back and let you turn into a monster.”
“MONSTER!” The monster, Jamel, began laughing. It almost felt like icicles would appear around me the voice sounded so cold. “MONSTER, WE ARE ALL MONSTERS. CAN’T YOU SEE! YOU ARE NO DIFFERENT FROM ME BROTHER, YOU JUST HIDE IT BETTER. BUT NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU PRETEND, I CAN SEE THAT YOU ARE JUST AS MUCH OF A MONSTER AS ME.”
I guess I really should have been paying more attention, I hadn’t noticed Tina sneak up behind me and grab onto my arm. It didn’t notice her eyes grow wide or her fur prickle up. It didn’t notice her tighten her grip on my arm as she watched more and more intently. I did however notice when her claws begin to dig through my shirt and into my skin.
It was only a small sound that I released, but in this tense silence it was enough. Jamel and the silver-clothed boy both instantly turned. There was one long moment when Jamel and I met gazes.
The silver-clothes boy began to yell, “Run!” before being interrupted by a loud piercing scream from Jamel. We barely had time to see Jamel lounge toward us and the boy draw his sword before Tina grabbed me and began bounding up the stairs. I heard a load crash from down below as Tina and I bolted up the stairs, away from the monster Jamel and toward safety, at least for now.
Hi, I’m Tina! Wow, thinking back that was really exciting. Seeing that giant beetle, watching that boy fight, and then running away from Jamel. What comes next is almost as exciting too, but Ema said that I’m not allowed to talk about that yet. So instead I’m going to tell you a little bit more about me, Tina!
Ema wrote about what happened to her parents but you probably don’t know what happened to mine do you. Well I can really only tell you about my mom, dad divorced her soon after I was born and I have never met him so I don’t know what happened to him after the change. Maybe he turned into some kind of ugly monster like Jamel, wouldn’t that be funny. My mom on the other hand is a teacher, she teaches at the school that Ema and I go to although it is a different class then mine. However I go home with Ema, who lives a couple of houses down from us, instead of with her because she usually has to spend time at school after we get out doing teacher things like grading and stuff.
She is a nice mom and I love her a lot, though she does get on my case about my grades a lot. I guess it has to do with her being a teacher. It is also hard to argue with her because her stare petrifies you, literally. This is because after the change my mom became a Medusa. While she doesn’t actually turn people to stone I have let to see someone stare her in the eyes without freezing.
Ema likes using big words and calls our moms Mythmorphs, people who have taken on the aspects of, previously, mythical beings. I don’t really understand it all but my mom does. Mom really likes Ema because Ema always does so good in school. I on the other had only do as well in school as I do because my mom forces me to study.
Hmm, I see to have rambled on for a bit. I was supposed to be talking about me, not Ema or mom. Then let me tell you about some of the things l like. My favorite foods are fish and bird, though I think Ema already mentioned that. I also enjoy long naps but Ema says that is normal for cats. I like playing hide and go seek and tag but I have recently gotten into soccer. I like running around and like trying to keep the ball from the enemy team.
Well, I’ve run out of space. I hope you have enjoyed learning about me. Now you get to find out what happened next in me and Ema’s fantastic adventures. Have Fun!
Chapter 3: The Destiny Clock and The Invisible Tower
We didn’t stop running until we had left the castle and town far behind. I kept fearing that the monster Jamel was right behind me at every step. It wasn’t until it seemed impossible to take another step that I stopped running and realized that Jamel wasn’t there. Maybe the silver clothed boy had protected us again and stop his sister from following us. Tina was right beside me panting, though not as heavily as me.
Now that we had escaped what should we do now. We couldn’t just head back to the castle and the jaws of Jamel even if we wanted to. We had run far enough that I didn’t think I would be able to find way back even if I wanted to. Now I had no idea where to go because I was totally lost. I didn’t think I could even find my way back to the Buried Sea. While I knew I might be able to rely on Tina to guide me I was sick of having to rely on someone else to save me.
So instead I decided to forge my way through the mushroom forest at random, anything might be better then returning to the castle where the monster was. I beckoned to Tina and set off into the forest. I hadn’t taken more then a half a dozen steps when I began hearing a ringing sound. It was loud and close. It sounded similar to the alarm at my clock at home. I looked around vainly for the source of the sound before I saw Tina pointing at me.
It was then that I realized that the ringing was coming from me. Armed with that knowledge I began rifling through my pockets. It quickly found the source of the ringing. It was a small pocket watch that I never remembered having before. Almost as soon as I had pulled the watch out of my pocket it stopped ringing. Confused I opened up the watch. However the inside of the watch was even stranger. The watch had seven different hands, each of which was a different size and color and moving at a different speed. Where had I acquired this unusual watch. As much as I tried I couldn’t remember where I had found it.
“Ema, there is something else in that pocket.” said Tina as I was staring confused at the watch. I looked down at my pocket and realized that Tina was right. There was something else in my pocket. It looked like a small piece of paper. I pulled it out of my pocket and read it.
Ema, now that you are reading this you will have found the watch I have left in your care. I’m sure you will find it more useful then I will.
That watch is called a Destiny Watch. They tell you when the future happens. I can’t really explain it any better then that, but I am use you will figure out how to use it correctly in time. I can however tell you that one of the hands shows the time of your Destiny, however I will leave it up to you to figure out which one. Maybe you will never need to use the watch but I have never put much stock in luck which is why I am leaving it with you.
I read the name written on the bottom of the letter again, Bix had given this to me. However I couldn’t figure out why. The letter was so cryptic that I though I understood less after reading it then I did before. A Destiny Watch? What sort of thing was that, did Bix really expect me to believe this? But then, I had just run through a mushroom forest away from a strange monster. I wasn’t sure what I believed now. I looked at the watch again, the letter said that one of the hands represented me, but I didn’t have any idea about how to figure out what hand it was.
I showed the letter and the watch to Tina but she didn’t have any more of an idea about what the watch could be used for then I did. I only thing I could really do was put the watch back into my pocket. Maybe it would come in use something, after all Bix apparently thought it would be. All I could do was trust in Bix’s judgement and continue on into the forest, no more wiser then I was before I found the watch.
That was the first time I had saw the Destiny Watch, it seems so long ago. I didn’t yet realize the importance of the Destiny Watch or why Bix had given it to me. However since then it has proved to be important in ways I could never have expected then. Yet at the time I was unaware of what the Destiny Watch really meant. Instead I blundered further into the dark future without knowing I had a candle to lit, after all that is how I lived my life before then.
So I continued into the mushroom forest, away from the danger I knew and toward the danger I didn’t know. I’m not certain how many hours me and Tina walked after we left the empty city but it must have been at least four or five because the sun was almost setting when you finally found our way out of the mushroom forest. We found ourselves at the edge of a cliff. Well it was more of an enormous hole in the ground. It looked more then a mile across and about half that in either direction and it was so deep that I could only see darkness in the bottom.
Yet mysteriously floating in the center of the giant pit was a tower. It was starting just feet above eye-level and stretched into the sky, almost taller then I could imagine. Staring at it I thought it was impossible for me to have not seen it before now. Yet here it was floating in the center of the large hole in the ground. Looking at it closely I noticed that it was tethered to the side of the hole by a single rope bridge not to far from us.
Given our previous experiences I was understandably hesitant to want to enter this floating tower. Yet it seemed to draw me in and how else were we to find our way home. So I walked to toward the rope bridge and was about to step on when Tina grabbed my arm and yelled, “Ema stop! What are you doing!”
I turned back and looked into Tina’s eyes. They were worried and desperate. Confused I said, “What are you saying? I know we have had some bad experiences but there might be someone in that tower who knows how to get use home.”
Now it was Tina’s time to look confused. “Tower? What tower?”
I blinked a couple of times before pointing toward the tower that I thought was impossible to miss. “That tower. Is there any other tower I could be talking about?”
“Ema, I don’t see any tower. All I see in a giant hole in the ground.”
I didn’t really know how to respond. Was it possible that Tina couldn’t see the tower or was it I who was seeing something that wasn’t there. Could it be possible that the tower wasn’t actually there? I wasn’t sure what to think anymore.
“But... I can see a tower, it is right there floating in the air.” I stopped and realized how silly that sounded... but I wasn’t about to dismiss something just because it sounded impossible. After all a upside down waterfall and an enormous monster might have sounded impossible to me only a couple of days ago.
I thought about what was happening before eventually saying, “I see a bridge from right here to a floating tower. It is possible that the tower is real and if so we might be able to find a way home.” Tina looked skeptical as I spoke, which is unfair I’m supposed to be the skeptical one. “If the bridge is real I’ll be able to safely stand on it, so I want to to grab me and make sure I don’t fall if it turns out that the bridge isn’t real.”
“Are you sure Ema, that sounds really dangerous. If the bridge isn’t real then what it I’m not strong enough to pull you back.”
For some reason I wasn’t really worried, thinking back I still aren’t certain where my confidence at that time came from maybe it was from the tower itself. “Don’t worry Tina, I trust you. You’ll be able to pull me back if I fall.”
Tina grabbed my hand tightly and I took a hesitant step onto the first plank of the bridge. I was relieved when my foot stopped where the bridge was supposed to be. However the moment of truth was when I lifted my second leg and set it down on bridge. Tina stared flabbergasted at me, “Your floating Ema.”
“Tina, how about you stay there while I check out the tower. It might be to dangerous to walk up a bridge you can’t see.”
Tina nodded, “I think I would be to frightened to walk up a bridge I can’t see. I’ll wait her until you get back. Just be careful in there.”
“You be careful too.” I responded before turned back toward the tower and walking up the bridge. The bridge was long, very long. It wasn’t easy walking across it. Every time I looked down I felt a shiver tingle through my spine. Who knew how far I would fall if I fell of the bridge. However I eventually reached the end of the bridge. There was a door in front of me that had a wrought iron door knocker but didn’t seem to have any way of opening the door.
So I, standing over a who knows how drop and on an apparently invisible bridge, reached up and used the knocker. The door almost immediately opened. A person covered from head to two in a brown robe stood on the other side. I couldn’t see the persons face or even it the person was male or female. “Scion of Truth, Anchor of Freedom, The Destiny of Destiny. The Hour of Eternity Awaits. Your Third Question shall be answered in the Tower of Nothing.”
What could I say, I didn’t even understand the words that were coming out of this person’s mouth. Scion of Truth? Anchor of Freedom? What was that supposed to mean? My third question would be answer here, assuming this was the tower of nothing. But what was my third question? Or my first and second question for that matter. However from all of that I think I was being invited inside, so stepped off the bridge and into the floating tower.
Inside was dark and I could barely see anything. I could almost make out the robed form of the person who opened the door and I thought I could see some more people moving around in the darkness.
The figure who greeted me shut the door plunging the room into even more darkness. Somebody spoke while my eyes began to adjust to the darkness, I think it was the person who greeting me at the door. “Scion of Truth, travel with me until time parts us.”
This person has a strange way of talking. And why did he call me the Scion of Truth again, I didn’t really understand. My eyes had finally began to adjust to the darkness when I saw the robed from start moving away. I tried to follow it and shambled through the darkness after it. We walked up fights of stairs, seemingly endlessly climbing to the top of the tower. I wondered how long it had been since I had left Tina at the edge of the cliff. Eventually the person stopped in front of a door. I could see light flowing out along the edges of the door and when the person opened the door I was blinded by the light.
It was a small room. There was one large window on the wall that had light streaming in through it which made it hard to make out the rest of the room. I could tell that there was a person knelling on the floor. The knelling person looked elderly, maybe an old woman.
“I have been waiting, Scion of Truth. I knew that you would arrive before time prevented us from ever meeting.” The voice was croaked and elderly, like the person speaking was almost on their deathbed. I saw the arm of the elder lift and motion more me to sit. I walked into the door and knelled in front of the elder. Now I could tell that the entire room was bare except for the window and the two of us. The person who had lead me here shut the door behind me.
“I am glad you are here, The Beast of Ruin shakes in its sleep and you arrive before us clean, uncertain, innocent. I have waited for you here for ten years knowing that you would come before me. You have taken your first precious steps to the Seat of Eternity yet you know nothing of your journey or its meaning. That is why your are here so that you might understand yourself, the Destiny of Destiny.”
It seemed that everything the old woman was saying was a riddle, one which I couldn’t decipher. “What are you saying, I don’t understand? Are you saying that I am special and that you foresaw my arrival here? That is impossible, everything that has happened in a coincidence.”
It was hard to make out the woman’s features through the bright light streaming through the window but I think she was smiling. “Coincidence is but a stepping stone for you, Destiny of Destiny. Whatever coincidences might have brought you here are irrelevant, you are here. Yet despite your pleas you have already met four of you hands, Scion of Truth, Anchor of Freedom, Destiny of Destiny. Only three more hands until you are complete, only then will you fully realize who you are.”
“Four of my hands? What are you trying to say, speak clearly so that I can understand you.” I was starting to get frustrated, there is only so much ambiguity that I can stand before it starts getting on my nerves. I also dislike the term destiny, I like to think of myself as in control of my own future. However this brazen old woman kept calling me Destiny of Destiny and spoke as if everything was foresawn. It ground at my nerves. “Listen old woman, how about you drop the mumbo jumbo speech and tell my how I can get home.”
“So hasty and so young. Yet you will grow to become your future. When you can clearly see all your hands then you should seek me out again. Then you will accept my words and accept the true gift I have for you. But until that day I will give you what you desire. The path you desire has already been past. It is in two of your hands, those which are bound closest together, yet those hands are the most different. In those two hands is your way home but you must bring them together for that to happen.”
“Two hands, what are you speaking about? Which hands are these and how do I find them?” I felt like all I could do was ask questions, nothing this old woman said was making sense.”
“Your Clock, take it out.”
Wow, that actually seemed to make sense. But I didn’t have a clock... oh! Did she mean the pocket watch that Bix had given me? How could she have know about that. But now that I thought about it Bix had called it the Destiny Watch in his letter, was it possible that he was in contact with this old woman and told her that he had given me the clock... but how could they have know I would come here. Was it really true that the old woman had predicted my arrive here.
I drew the watch out of the pocket and popped it open. It still had those seven hands.. wait seven. The old woman had said I had met four of my hands and there were three to go. It couldn’t be a coincidence that those two numbers were the same. I just hoped this wasn’t some elaborate hoax that Bix and the old woman dreamed up together just to tease me, though that seemed really unlikely.
“The Silver Hand of Duty and The Red Hand of Beauty, they are the ones that will guide you. Yet the Hand of Beauty if blocked, it must be freed before you can get your desire.” Said the old woman as I looked down at my Destiny Clock.
It looked at the clock and saw them, the perfectly straight silver hand and the red hand which was ornately carved with images of roses. However the red hand was crooked and bent at several points. Those two hands two almost overlapping and moving at the same rate.
Silver, that hand bugged me in a way that I didn’t understand. Then it struck me, “The silver-clothed boy, he is the silver hand. He is the one who can help me get back home.” The old woman nodded and smiled as if she was glad that I managed to crack one of her opaque clues.
“Go to him, free the Red Hand, only then can you find your way home. Once you have accepted your seven hands and truly become the Scion of Truth then you will find me again.” Also as if on cue, the door behind me opened and a robed figure said, “Time is escaping.” The old woman only nodded and said “Time is parting us, you must leave and return to your hands.”
“Wait, who is the Red Hand? What is your name and why is this happening?”
“Dear child, you will find the Red Hand with the Silver one for they are inexplicable bound together. This is all happening because you are you, the Scion of Truth, Anchor of Freedom, Destiny of Destiny. The Hour of Eternity Awaits. Your Third Question shall be answered in the Tower of Nothing. Now time is escaping, you must leave but I will give you my name. I am Zero, the Hand that is not a Hand. No go.”
The robed figure grabbed my arm and pulled me out of the room. The person shut the door blocking the line of sight between me and Zero. I was quickly guided down the stairs and before I knew it had reached the bottom floor, the journey down seemed unusually quicker then the journey up. When the door outside was opened I was surprised to find it almost dark outside. I remembered seeing the sun through the window in the room with Zero in it. “Goodbye Scion of Truth” said the robed figure as I stepped outside. The door shut behind me and I was left on the bridge hanging over a enormous hole in front of a floating tower. I didn’t really have any other choice but to start walking across the bridge and back toward Tina. I hoped she wasn’t too worried about me taking so much time in a tower that she couldn’t see.
The sun just began to dip below the horizon as I reached the edge of the bridge and reached firm ground again. “EMA!” came a shout from nearby and I was tackled by Tina. I was thrown to the ground by the blow. “Ema, you made it back ok. I was worried when you just vanished in the middle of the giant hole.” I smiled and placed my hand on her head, just between her cat ears.
“I’m glad to be back as long as you don’t start speaking in riddles.” I knew I could count to Tina to be easy to understand. She always did what she felt and didn’t hide what she was thinking behind veiled words. The whole experience in the tower seemed a lot like a dream but I knew it was real.
I eventually managed to get Tina off me and stood up. I looked back at the tower and was startled to not see it anymore. No longer was there a giant tower floating above a hole in the ground. I wondered brief if there tower was still there but I could no longer see it or if the tower was really gone. Eventually I decided it didn’t really matter.
I pulled out the Destiny Clock and looked at it again. I stared at the Silver Hand and the Red Hand. I at least had a clue as to what to do next but I had no idea about how to go through with it. During my walk down the tower and across the bridge I came to the conclusion that Jamel, the silver-clothed boy’s sister, was the Red Hand. How she was the Hand of Beauty I didn’t know but that hypothesis was consistent with some of the things Zero had said. It the Red Hand was near the silver-clothed boy then it must be Jamel but how I was supposed to straighten her was beyond me. I wasn’t even sure how I was supposed to get closer.
I took a look as several of the other hands, Zero had said that I had meet four of them so maybe I would be able to figure out the identities of the other two. Eventually my eye caught on the Orange Hand. It was the fastest of any of the hands, making a revolution around the clock every thirty seconds or so. It was curved as if pointing in the direction it was moving. I glanced up at Tina and instantly knew that this hand was her. I was somewhat glad that Tina was one of the hands, it the destiny that Zero talked about was real then I was reveled that Tina was a part of it too. It made everything feel a little be more comfortable.
Now I just had to do the impossible. I had to return to the city and find the silver-clothed boy and Jamel. Then I had to fix everything so that me and Tina would be able to go home. Yet to do that I would have to face a monster and return it to normal. I didn’t even know where to begin. I didn’t know if I had the courage to go through with it, but Destiny is a strange thing. It has a way of forcing you along while giving you no choice and making you think that you are in control. But I, the Destiny of Destiny, doesn’t believe in Destiny. I forge my own way through life and force Destiny to follow the best it can.
Chapter 4: Rejected Village of Stories
So there we were, somewhere in the forest of mushrooms. The sun had set and everything was started to get really dark. To make matters worse we hadn’t eaten since the left over chicken that Bix had cook which must have been more then twelve hours ago. From that point we were planning to return to a city whose location from where we currently were was unknown and face a monster and return it to being normal. All in all a very bad way to start an evening.
Lucky for me I had the ever reliable Tina. She might get me into more trouble then I care to deal with but even that part of her is reliable. However this time I was trusting in her unerring ability to find something to eat. It wasn’t long after I had returned from the tower that she starting complaining about being hungry. She returns to normal so easily that sometimes I am envious.
So I wasn’t surprised when Tina suddenly stopped and yelled, “Smoke! I smell smoke.” And began dashing off into what I assumed must have been the direction the smoke was coming from. Like usual I chased after her doing my best to catch up. However it wasn’t very long before before I could also smell the smoke and see the lights of fires. There were more fires then I had initially thought, no wonder Tina had been able to smell it. There were a whole host of tents and impromptu dwelling scattered among the mushrooms. It was like a whole village was living here.
I head shouts coming from the camp as Tina rushed in, not really surprising. The shouts seemed to mostly consist of “Stop!”, “Come back here!”, and “What are you doing!” But it is no small feat to step between Tina and a meal. So I decided to rush in and try and stop Tina, or at least calm everybody else. I found Tina crouched on the ground holding a half-cooked ham in one hand. Her back was arched and she was hissing at a dozen people who had surrounded her, not the worse situation I had pulled Tina out of but it was getting up there.
“Tina, give that back right now.” I shouted, mainly so that everyone was able to hear me. The men surrounding Tina turned to look at me. Most of them were Zoomorphs of some sort but that wasn’t very surprising. Even in the Old World a good fifty percent or more of people were Zoomorphs. They were probably more surprised that I was normal then I was that they weren’t... though I suppose it has been ten years since you could call what I am normal.
“But Ema, I’m hungry.” Whined Tina in a pitiful sounding voice. However I wasn’t just going to let her get away with this again.
“Tina that is no excuse to steal, give them that back and then try and ask nicely. If they are nice they might give you some bread, even after all you have done.” I approached Tina and snatched the ham out of her hands. I then quickly handed it off to one of the men nearby before Tina could take it back from me. I then turned back to the men and apologized, “I’m sorry about my friend’s behavior. She tends to act first and think later, especially when her stomach is involved.”
The men looked back and forth at each other before one of the stepped forward and approached me and Tina. He was older, maybe in his fourties and he was tall with green hair and dark brown skin. I thought I saw buds growing in his hair. As he got nearer he spread his hands and smiled at use. “Welcome to our camp travelers. Don’t worry about what happened. We were just surprised when your friend burst in on us, that’s all. We didn’t expect to encounter someone way out here.”
Relieved I broke into a smile too, “Us too, we weren’t expecting to meet people out here either. Though I am I glad that you were here. I don’t know what we would have done if we hadn’t found you.” I glanced at Tina who had stood up and was now looking eagerly at the ham which had been put back over the fire. “Even if she might look it, my friend and me don’t have any experience surviving in the woods, or whatever you call a forest of mushrooms, alone. We can only beg to share your meal tonight.”
The man continued smiling, “Of course, how could we turn away two young girls to fend for themselves in the middle of the night. But...” The man paused for a second as if for effect, “You owe us a story about what brought you to us here in the middle of nowhere at night.”
I had worried for that one second but now I was certain this camp was a safe place, “Well, if that is all you are asking for then I will tell all the stories you desire. But I first think that my friend should be fed, if not she will likely cause another racket.”
The man laughed before motioning us farther into the camp, “Then come, eat with me. I was about to side down and eat with my wife before you interrupted us. I’m sure she would be happy to have some company during dinner. Heavens knows we haven’t had any younglings eat with us since our son moved out.”
I followed the man through the camp and saw it was larger then I had first thought. There must have been at least a hundred people camping here, though I was at a loss as to why. However I could tell that the camp had been here for a while because it was starting to look more like a village then a camp. I saw a string of electric lights on polls which were connected to a small generator. There were a couple huts that seemed to have been made out of large dried mushrooms. However it seemed like everyone was content to live here. Most of them were eating, smiling, and talking with each-other. However I did find it strange that almost everyone seemed to be older. Most of the men and women seemed to be about the man’s ago maybe in their forties or fifties. I wondered why that was.
Eventually the man lead us to a small fire which had a smiling woman at it. “Oh, you brought guests dear. Where did these two come from. Dear me, it seems like forever since we have had guests. I just hope we have enough for them.” She seemed truly worried that there wouldn’t be enough, though with Tina here it wasn’t a groundless worry. However I did find the woman a little unusual. She had the same green hair and brown skin as her husband. It was strange to have two people change into the same type of being after the Great Change. However my doubts were dispelled when the man sat down beside her. They looked like two trees which had grown together, it would have been inappropriate if they had become different types of people.
It felt nice to sit down and truly take a break from everything that had happened. While it had only been a day since we had left the church surrounded by the upside down waterfall it had felt like an eternity. Would I really be able to do something like that again tomorrow, I was uncertain. Yet tonight at least we got to enjoy some peace and comfort provided by this friendly camp and the nice couple. At that moment I didn’t think I could ask for anything else except for a way home.
We were quickly served some stew by the couple, which was a good thing because I wasn’t certain if Tina could have held out much longer. I tried pondering what had happened today as I ate but I kept getting distracted. I eventually put those thoughts to rest, at least for now, and decided to ask a question that had been in my mind since I had arrived at this camp. “Why are all of you out here? It seems unusual to find this many people camping out in a forest.”
“I suppose it does look kind of strange doesn’t it. It seems that you aren’t the only ones with a story to tell.” The man scratched his head for a second before continuing, “Well we didn’t always live out here in the mushroom forest. Up until a couple of months ago we had a place that we could call home. You see, ten years ago during the Great Change most of us lost our homes. Not literally, but after everything happened the places we used to call home no longer felt like home. While the whole story is different for everyone here we eventually all ended up in the same place.” The man paused to take a sip of what seemed to be tea.
“Well we all ended up with a guy named Malcolm Fillmore. He was a great speaker and through him many of us realized that we needed to find a new place to call our home. He too had lost his home, though more literally then many of us. Before the Change he used to live happily in a small town with his two children. However after the Change, well he was forced to leave, driven out of the town by those he used to call neighbor. Have you heard of the Abandoned Ones?”
I shook my head, I couldn’t remember hearing about the Abandoned Ones before.
“No surprising, most people don’t like talking about them. When the Change happened the Abandoned Ones are whose who drew the short end of the straw. They are like the genetic defects of the Change. They are... deformed.” He grimaced as he spoke as if remembering painful things.
“Well Malcolm Fillmore’s daughter was an Abandoned One. So his town drove him out, claiming the child was a bad omen. You’d think it was a very backward way a thinking after everything that happened but... Well that doesn’t change what happened.”
“Malcolm suggested that we all move to the New World an make a life for ourselves there. He said it would be hard but that we would find a place for ourselves there. He was right, on both counts. It was a hard journey into mostly unexplored territory. But eventually we had found the perfect place to call our home. Not only was it a place that we had found ourselves but it was a town that we had built with our own hands. I must say at that time we were quite proud of ourselves. It was an accomplishment I had never thought was possible. That place, more then any place before had become our home.... Still is our home. Even now we can’t completely abandon it, even though we can no longer live there.”
As I was listening I began to realize the truth as all the pieces slowly fell into place. These were the villagers of the abandoned town. No wonder that place had seemed new, these people had created it with their own hands. But if that was true then that must mean that the two children of Malcolm Fillmore where the two who were still in the town. Jamel and the silver-clothed boy. It must have been Jamel that was the Abandoned One.
But one thing still felt strange. Jamel had said that the people of the village had betrayed her but I didn’t feel like these people would be the kind of people who would do something like that. Something as still missing from the story and I was going to find out what that was. I felt it was the key to following the instructions that Zero had left with me.
“What happen?” I asked in the most innocent tone possible. I didn’t yet want to reveal what I knew about the story in case I missed something important.
“Well, it was about a year ago that Malcolm Fillmore died. It wasn’t very unexpected, his health had been declining for years. I think he kept pressing himself too hard, never leaving a moment to rest. His body just wasn’t able to last. It was a very sad day when he died, after all he had been are leader for nearly ten years and it was hard to see him go. However, his children took it much harder then we did, understandably so. His son managed all right, but he seemed to take everything onto himself trying to fill his father’s shoes without help. He did a wonderful job but he always blamed himself whenever anything went wrong.”
“His sister had it worse. It was like her father’s death caused her to become even more withdrawn then she already was. We tried to help her, comfort her, but she never accepted us. The only one she allowed to get close to her was her brother. Goodness knows were tried to get close to her but she shunned us, maybe she was too self-conscious, but eventually we stopped trying.”
The man sighed as if in regret, “Maybe if we had kept trying to help those two this tragedy never would have happened. But the son was too proud and the daughter too sad, it was a tragedy waiting to happen. However the tragedy that did happen was not the one that we had expected. The daughter began to change... I don’t quite no how to describe it. It was like her sadness was building up inside her and causing her body to change. She had always an Abandoned One, but now she was becoming something different. She seemed to be lashing out at people, it caused a lot of people to become upset. A lot of people began leaving our home. It was a sad time. As the months passed it got worse. Not only did she become more unpredictable every day but her became more of a... monster. It pains me to say that.”
“It became worse when the son suddenly said he was leaving. He said it was to go find a cure for his sister, to return her to how she used to be... but he never came back.” Tears were in the man’s eyes, “I don’t even know if he is alright, he is probably still out there searching for a cure. However after he left it got worse. We tried to help the daughter as best as we could but she wouldn’t accepted it. Finally most of the rest of us just left, we couldn’t deal with it anymore. Yet... we didn’t have anywhere to go. So we have been staying here, waiting for the son’s return, hoping to one day return to our homes.”
The man finally ended his sad story and whipped the tears from his eyes. He sat in silence for a couple of minutes before saying, “But, that is enough about our plight. Tell us your story, I want to know what brought you here to us at these strange times.”
“Well, after hearing your story I find it a strange coincidence that we have met like this. For our story coincides some with your own and you helped explain much of what I felt was strange. Maybe my story will help enlighten you too.” I cleared my throat and began, “It was in the afternoon after school and I was walking home with my best Eglantina...”
When I finally stopped it felt like I had been talking for hours. I told them most of the story, I had left out the parts about the Destiny Clock and what really happened inside the floating tower but I said the rest of it as it happened. From my meeting with Bix in the Buried Sea to my meeting with the silver-clothed boy and what happened in the town they had lived it. It was a long story, longer then I expected given that it had only be yesterday that I had left school with Tina. When it was over I felt exhausted, my tiredness had begun to catch up with me and I noticed that Tina had already fallen asleep.
The couple however had listened intently as if hanging on every word I said. After I had finished they sat there as if contemplating everything I had said. I was expecting them to ask me more about my meeting the Jamel and her brother but when they finally spoke they caught me off-guard. “So, you met Bix did you.” It was really one of the last things I was expecting them to say.
“How do you know Bix?” I questioned. It seemed strange that these two knew about Bix. Maybe he used to be one of the people who lived in the city, but somehow that seemed unlikely.
“I haven’t met him personally but I have heard a lot about him. If you met him then your journey has a lot more importance then either you or I know.” The man spoke softly almost as if trying not to be heard.
I gripped the Destiny Clock in my pocket before responding, “What do you mean? Who is Bix?”
“I’m not really sure myself, but I can tell you what I have heard. They say that Bix is a wizard but others say that he is a Dragon in human form however nobody really knows the truth. But that isn’t all it is said that Bix was the first one to discover the New World or maybe it was Bix that caused the Great Change. I somehow doubt the last one but I am certain that Bix is someone important who knows much more then I do about this world. It might have been chance that let you meet Bix but I doubt he is the kind of person who listens to chance. I’m sure you will eventually find out the reason that you met him.”
“But enough about Bix, your other parts of your story interest me too. You said that the silver-clothed person you met was probably Malcolm’s son and that you met his sister in the city we used to live in. It is good news that you have seen him, I was beginning to wonder if he would ever return. But it sounds as if he hasn’t found the cure for his sister that he sought when the left, it that why he hasn’t come to see us. Even if we still can’t return it is good to here that the two of them are all right.”
“The boy,” I spoke, there was a question that had been bugging me for a long time, “What is his name?”
The man raised an eyebrow before smiling, “Oh, his name, you want to know his name do you?” I shot the man a piercing look to show him that what he was thinking was absolutely wrong.
“Of course not, the very thought of him makes me angry. I hope I never see him again.” I shot my nose into the air in defiance.
The man laughed, “Don’t worry, I’m only teasing you. Don’t take it so seriously. His name is Arlan, Arlan Fillmore.”
I relaxed somewhat. The man had just been teasing me, but why did I get so upset. I disliked Arlan for what happened with the beetle. It must be because of what Zero had told me that Arlan was the Silver Hand, someone whose destiny was bound to mine. Maybe I was uncomfortable with that fact. I gripped the Destiny Watch in my pocket, I guess if I didn’t like the future I would just have to change it myself.
“Thank you for your story, for listening to mine, and for answering some of the questions I had.” I spoke, now that everything was over I was feeling really sleepy. “But it is getting really late and it feels like it has been ages since I last slept.”
The couple nodded understandably and brought out a blanket and a mat for me, “We are sorry that this is all we can offer you, but it is better then sleeping on the ground.”
I thanked the two and before I knew it I was fast asleep. Now I usually don’t remember my dreams, I guess I don’t put much stock in them. But that night was an exception. Maybe it was everything that had happened recently, maybe it was my meeting with Zero and Bix but that night I dreamed. I heard clicking sounds exactly like those that the Destiny Watch made. I could see the seven hands of the watch as if they were glued to my eyes, as if all I could see where those seven hands.
However there was something wrong with this one. It seemed that all of the hands were stopped, all but one. The Red Hand was still moving... no it was the Red Hand that had stopped and all the other hands were moving. All I could do was stare at that Red Hand, crooked and carved with roses. As I stared I began to realize something, it was that the Red Hand wasn’t a hand at all it was simply a stained glass window which the other hands were moving around. I could make things out beyond the glass of the Red Hand. It was a room, a small room without windows or doors and there was someone kneeling on the floor inside. It was a young girl stuck inside the room. She looked strikingly beautify through the red glass, yet she was all alone inside that room.
I could hear something. It was coming from inside the room. It was a very soft sound that I had almost missed. It was the sobs of the girl who was stuck inside that room and couldn’t escape. Then she lifted her head and stared out through the glass of the hand and whispered something so soft that I almost missed it, “Save Me.”
I woke with tears in my eyes. At that moment I knew exactly what I wanted to do. To hell with Destiny and Dreams. To hell with Fate, at that moment I didn’t care about any of that. The only thing I wanted to do was save that poor crying girl who couldn’t do anything but beg for help.
Chapter 5: The Ugly Truth about Beauty
The morning was quiet, as if waiting for what was to come. Most of the camp was still asleep and the sun was barely peeking above the horizon. It didn’t take me long to get ready. The couple who I had eaten with last night were still sleeping and it was better that way. I hadn’t told them what I was going to do next and they would probably have tried to stop me if they knew.
I pulled the Destiny Clock out of my pocket and flipped it open. I still didn’t know how to tell time with it, if indeed you could tell time with it, but just holding it reaffirmed what I was planning to do next. I tip toed toward the edge of camp trying not to wake Tina as I left. I just couldn’t take her with me, what I was planning to do was to dangerous for that and I didn’t even know if I had a chance of succeeding. However as I reached the edge of the camp,
“Where are you trying to go without me.” Came a familiar voice from behind me. I turned around to see Tina standing behind me smiling annoyingly. “Don’t think you can get away from me. If your going someplace then I’m coming with you.” She looked strangely serous this morning. I stared into her eyes and saw the same sort of determination that I felt. It made me wonder how much of last nights stories she had only pretended to sleep through.
Eventually I turned and started walking. “I guess I can’t stop you from following. At least I could use the company.” I tried to say if offhandedly. I didn’t want to show that I was glad that she would be coming with me. It was something that I couldn’t say though for the same reason that I didn’t try and wake her to come with me. It felt like something that you had to decide for yourself if you were going or not.
I could hear the birds waking up as we walked through the mushroom forest toward the empty town. Tina and I usually joke and make small talk when we are walking but today we talked in silence. Eventually the city began to appear before us and I could see the large castle above the walls. I stopped just as we reached the the gates and turned to Tina, “Tina, If someone told you what your destiny was what would you do?”
Tina looked at me and smiled, “You know me Ema, I would still just do what I wanted to do.” I returned Tina’s smile. That was exactly the feeling that I was having. I wasn’t here because it was what Zero said me destiny was, I was here because it was something I wanted to do, even if it was the most dangerous thing I have ever tried to do.
The city was still as empty and desolate as it was when I had left it but somehow my experiences had changed the way I looked at it. After the couple’s story I had a newfound appreciation for what went into the creation of this city. This place was built by the people we had met yesterday, it was a truly stunning achievement.
We passed through the city streets like ghost as we approached the castle. However when we were almost there I heard a voice call out to us, “Why did you come back here to this forsaken city?” It turned to see the silver-clothed boy, Arlan Fillmore, sitting at the steps of one of the houses. His silver clothes, once so neat, were now tattered. His sword was at his feet broken in two. To me it felt like his pride had been broken just like the sword. His gaze no longer seemed to hold the piercing look that it did the first time that we had meet.
I turned my noes up at him, “Is this what you have become. The once mighty swordsman, now broken by his own sister. If there was a story more shameful then I have yet to hear it.” Seeing him there had caused my anger to dull slightly, I didn’t think he could sink any lower then he already had which gave me some sense of revenge. But, it wasn’t the revenge that I had wanted against him. I wanted to show the strong Arlan that I could do better then him not gloat over this broken one.
“If that is all you can do for your sister then you don’t deserve to call her that.” I was puffing myself up a little, I didn’t know if I would have been able to do what he had for his sister. But I couldn’t just leave him like this, maybe if I mad him angry he would regain a little bit of his old self.
“What do you know.” He didn’t sound angry, only sad and regretful. “I looked everywhere for a cure to my sister’s madness but it doesn’t exist. There is nothing that I can do to save her, everything I have done in pointless.”
I looked down at him realize how much he really didn’t know, “Cure? Did you really thing that life was that easy? Did you really think that you could find something like that and solve all your problems?” I could also shake my head, I didn’t have the same strength that he had but I did know a few things more about people then he did. However it was only after the dream that I truly understood how I could save Jamel. “What your sister needs isn’t a magical cure, it is something else entirely. Your sword can not save her.”
He looked up at me. He looked so pitiful sitting there without hope. “Then what can save her, I have tried everything I could.”
“If you can’t figure it out for yourself then you will never be able to save her. Simply following instructions that I might give you won’t work.” What could I say to him? Should I say that he never should have left his sister, that his leaving only made his sister’s madness worse? I didn’t have the heart to tell him, he was already broken enough. Instead I could only give him a tiny sliver of hope, “I’m going up there to the castle to save your sister. Give up if you want but that will never solve anything.”
I turned my back on Arlan and with Tina following me continued up to the castle. I didn’t then know what effect my words had on him because I didn’t turn back as I walked into the castle to save a girl who had become a monster. It might not have been the sanest thing to do but most of us lost most of our sanity ten years ago so I didn’t worry to much about it.
It was cold inside, as if the heat had fled in free of what lived below the castle. What courage drove me to the depths. Maybe it was the feeling of Destiny but I don’t think it was that, I still tremble when faced with great fears. I don’t really trust Destiny so I doubt it would allay my fears. It was probably my memories of the dream that cause me to brave each step down into the basement. The thought of her being alone in the small room was terrifying but even more then that fear I felt that if I was stuck in that room then I would want someone to brave each step down into the basement. Is that feeling so hard to understand? I still didn’t know if I would be able to save her, but not even trying would be far worse then what I would face down in the basement.
Tina followed behind me keeping quiet, which was unusual for Tina. I couldn’t tell what she was thinking, but it might have been the same things I was thinking. I wondered what had made Tina make up her mind, maybe she had a strange dream last night too but if she did she never said anything about it and I didn’t question her. It didn’t really matter why she had decided to following me, just that she did.
The bottom of the stairs were dark, lit only by small electric lights, and I wasn’t able to make out much. I wasn’t able to locate Jamel in the darkness by sight however I could hear her breathing. Did she know we were here, I didn’t know. However if she didn’t then it wouldn’t be to long before she did because I strode out into the middle of the room and said in my loudest bravest voice, “Jamel Fillmore, we are here to save you.”
I heard that ice cold laughter that seemed to freeze the breath in my lungs and the blood in my veins. Jamel moved out of the darkness and I gasped despite having seen her before. Her strange web-like legs, rubbery arms, and liquid ice hair were still one of the creepiest sights I have ever seen. Yet her human face gave me hope.
You see after Zero had told me something about the Destiny Clock I had wondered something. Why was Jamel, the Abandoned One, the Red Hand of Beauty. It seemed strange and illogical that someone who looked so hideous would be the Hand of Beauty. However staring at her a second time made me finally realize why it was. The entire point was that a hideous creature was the Hand of Beauty. It clearly put into relief what really mattered. It wasn’t beauty that really mattered, the real beauty was in those deep eyes of Jamel’s. Deep inside those eyes was a lonely girl who didn’t know how to deal with the world. It was then I finally started to believe that my crazy plan to save Jamel was really going to work.
Yet Jamel still laughed that cold laugh, “SAVE ME. I DONT NEED SAVING, YOU ARE THE ONE THAT WILL NEED SAVING.” The drew perilously close to me, slinking up until I could feel her cold breath on my face.
I stared deep into Jamel’s eyes. “Jamel, You can’t hide. Your eyes, they reveal the truth that you are trying so hard to hide. You drive people away before you are too afraid to let them get close. Yet, I won’t let you force me away. I am going to break into you cold dark room and save you.”
“YOU’LL WHAT?” She sounded confused and I heard a hint of worry in her voice. But more importantly I heard a shred of desperate hope. Yet I know that the battle was not yet over. “YOU WILL SAVE A MONSTER, WHAT RIDICULOUSNESS. A MONSTER CANN’T AND DOES NOT WANT TO BE SAVED. YOU ARE THE ONE HIDING FROM YOURSELF, YOU ARE NOTHING BUT A MONSTER TOO.”
I grinned slightly, there was a crack in her armor that side didn’t yet realize was there. “I’m a monster?” She pressed closer to me sensing a victory, “If I’m a monster then we are the same aren’t we?” I raised out my hand toward her, “If we are both monsters why don’t we be friends.”
She reeled back socked, I wasn’t trying to deny that she was a monster. With my raised hand I was saying that it didn’t matter. I had stolen her hiding place, the key to her locked room. She could no longer hide behind the word monster, she had called me a monster and I had accepted it. We were standing face to face and she had nowhere to run. I stood there, may hand extended waiting.
“NOOO!” She screamed. “MONSTERS CANN’T HAVE FRIENDS!” I could hear desperation, now was the crucial moment. The moment where I wasn’t sure what Jamel was going to do. Then it a moment everything became horribly dangerous, Jamel raised one of her long clawed arms and brought it down toward me. I couldn’t think, it was over, I had failed.
Then I heard another yell and felt force press against my shoulder. “Ema, Watch Out!” It was Tina who pushed me out of the way at the last second. The claws came down on Tina’s back and I heard her scream. I saw blood seep through her clothing as she collapsed to the floor.
“SEE, THIS IS WHAT A MONSTER IS. MONSTERS HAVE NO FRIENDS.” I could hear resolve flow back into her voice. She was closing the cracks I had made in her mental armor. After all, who could still accept her after what she had just done. Tina writhed on the grounded and I wanted desperately to help her but I knew that I couldn’t. If I did that our resolve would have been for nothing.
Instead I stood back up and walked right up to Jamel.This time it was me who move too close to her. She would probably feel my warm breath. She seemed smaller then before and I was less afraid. I raised my hand again and said once again, “Won’t you be my friend.”
Her eyes widened, “NOO, NOO! STAY AWAY! DON’T GET CLOSE TO ME! A MONSTER LIKE ME DOESN’T DESERVE FRIENDS! GO AWAY!” She raised her arm again to strike me, but I knew I had won. Her arm wavered. “NOOOOO!” She brought down her arm but it stopped only a breath away from my face. She trembled again. I moved my arm and grabbed her clawed hand with my own.
“There, we’re friends now.” I smiled at her.
“WHY... WHy... Why... why...” Her voice, the icy one that froze bones was warming. She didn’t have anywhere to escape. I had unlocked the door to her room and flung open the door. She could no longer hide in the darkness alone. I wouldn’t let her.
It was then that every changed, I heard a ringing in my ears. Jamel as if completely giving up collapsed into my arms. I couldn’t support the weight of her large body and began to collapse as well. The ringing in my ears grew louder and louder but just before I fainted I heard a crystal clear whisper from Jamel, “thank you.”
I regained consciousness slowly. The first thing I realized was that it was bright, the second thing that I realized was that it was the sun that was shining on my face. I blicked a few times as I began to sort out what just happened. Then I shot up and looked around, Tina, Jamel, where were they.
“Your a hero, you know that.” My attention immediately turned on the speaker. It Arlan, his clothes were still ripped and torn but the look on his face had changed since I had seen it last. Arlan was smiling, it was the first time I had seen him smile. It suited him.
When I managed to sort through my thoughts I managed to ask, “Is Tina alright? What about Jamel?” I was desperately worried about Tina and all I could do was hope that she was alright. I also wanted to know what had happened to Jamel. It seemed that I was laying on a bench outside a house with Arlan sitting nearby but I couldn’t see either Tina or Jamel.
“Your friend will be fine. She is inside sleeping. The cuts weren’t very deep so there won’t be any lasting harm, though she will probably sport the scars for years. Jamel...” He paused for a second, “My Sister, I don’t really know what you did but she has returned to normal. I had lost hope but your words to me... They made me wonder. So I decided to find out what happened to you. I can’t express my surprise when I found all three of you unconscious and my sister returned to normal. I don’t know how to express my thanks.”
“I don’t need your thanks. I didn’t do it to help you, I did it to help her.” I responded coldly. Even after what happened it seems like he still didn’t understand.
“I don’t care about your reason, I’m just happy my sister is normal.” It was that word again, “How did you do it? Can you tell me what I did wrong? How did you save her from herself” I felt like beating his head against a wall, I really did hate this dense moron.
So I decided to tell him the truth, because nothing is more painful that that. “I didn’t save her from herself. I saved her from you.” His look of confusion was priceless. “It is your fault. You are the one who locked her alone in the dark room with words. You then stood guard at the door to make sure nobody ever entered. Then you sealed the door completely when you left in search of a ‘cure’. She cared about you more then anyone else but you were the one who abandoned her. Everything is your fault.”
He began to look angry, I could tell I was pushing his buttons but he needed to hear what I was telling him. Even all these years he didn’t understand his sister at all. “What are you saying? I would never abandon my sister. I didn’t care what kind of monster she became. I loved her despite that. I just wanted her to be normal again.”
“That... That is exactly why she became like that. Those words are so annoying. You can keep your delusions. The truth that you will never accept is that your sister IS a monster.” His face seemed to crack before turning red with rage.
“My Sister is not a monster, how can you say that. You were the own to save her, to turned her back to normal....” He didn’t continue because I had slapped him across the face.
“Normal, normal, normal, is that all you ever case about. I’m disgusted with you. I’m not surprised your sister was angry with you. I’M angry with you.” I stood up and walked over to the door and flung it open. I turned back to Arlan, “You don’t understand your sister at all, maybe you should think about what you did to her. Then maybe you’ll understand better.” I slammed the door behind me. Arlan didn’t follow me.
It wasn’t hard to find Tina and Jamel, they were sleeping on a pair of nearby couches. Arlan was right at one point, Jamel had changed. She was much smaller now, where once she was several feet larger then me she was now slightly shorter. Her legs were more normal, they almost looked like legs now. The claws on her fingers were now nothing more then long nails, though her arms still had the rubbery bendy look. Her hair looked less frozen causing it to look like the couch she was sleeping on was covered in water.
Sleeping there she looked beautiful, though her beauty wasn’t despite her monstrous look, it was because of her monstrous look. That is was Arlan didn’t understand. It was probably the hardest thing in the world for her to hear the words ‘You are not a monster’ from her own brother. It must have been like trying to deny part of who she was, no wonder she went crazy. That was the true meaning of the Red Hand of Beauty.
By now you must be thinking that the story should be over right? The good guys won, we save the damsel in distress and everyone is happy. Or a least you would be thinking that if there wasn’t another half a book to read. You must be wondering what happens next.
Well what you have already read is just the start of everything. Without what happened before I doubt I would be where I am now. I have told you about my first journey to the New World and what happened there, but what I haven’t told you yet is what happened once I got home and how everything that happened to me changed how I thought about the world and my future.
I have told you about how I was reunited with Bix or how I meet my true enemy or how I discovered how to truly use the Destiny Clock. All this is yet to come in my story.
Chapter 6: Homecoming and Godfather
I waited in room while Tina and Jamel slept. Arlen stayed outside, there was a gulf between us that I didn’t think would shrink anytime soon. I drew out the Destiny Clock and opened it. I smiled as the Red Hand moved slowly around the dial, it had broken free of the Silver Hand and was now moving at its own speed. The Red Hand carved with roses was still crooked but that was how it should be, after all Jamel is a monster and beautiful because of that.
I continued to stare down at the clock as time passed. Eventually I heard movement from one of the couches and looked over. It seemed Tina was waking up. I rushed to her side, “Hey Tina, how are you feeling?”
I heard her groan and then she opened one eye, “My back hurts.” Leave it to Tina to state the obvious. “Did you manage to save her?” Questioned Tina.
I nodded, tears in my eyes. I was very glad Tina was alright. She had been my friend for years, even if we did argue a lot, and I cared about her safety.
“Good, nobody likes being caged.” Tina responded slightly groggily. It seemed like she was still mostly out of it but I as surprised at how much she understood the situation. Has she just been pretending to be carefree all these years or was it her instincts that told her everything she needed to know, I’m not sure. She grinned before laying her head back down and falling asleep again.
I reached up and stroked her hair softly. “Thanks Tina.” I managed to whisper, I didn’t know if I would have been able to do everything without her.
It was a little while later that Jamel also began to wake up. She shook her head, caused the couch to looked like it was drenched in a waterfall. As she sat up I walked over and said, “Good morning hideous, I hope you slept well.”
I smile broke across her face. I guess today was just a day for first smiles, though I cared about her smile more then Arlen’s. “Good Morning.” She said in a hushed voice, “I never thought I would say that again.” She looked over at Tina before speaking again, “I looked like your friend is going to make it, that’s good.”
“Actually it looks like both of my friends are going to make it.” Jamel looked startled again. I guess she just wasn’t used to having people call her friend.
“It seems I have gotten smaller again. It looks like I’ll have to get used to this size again.”
“That’s fine, there are plenty of things that you can only do at that size. However if you don’t mind getting bigger again there is a silver-clothed jerk staring at us through the window that you could get rid of.” I pointed over my shoulder and Arlen who had been standing outside staring at us since Jamel started to wake up.
Jamel looked nervous as stared at her bother through the window. “But I couldn’t, he is my brother. Even when I was big I couldn’t hurt him. I couldn’t even break away from his grip.”
“Is that so, I guess you still have a ways to go as a monster.” She laughed, a warm friendly laugh so unlike the cold voice she used to speak in. I was glad to see her laughing an smiling, so I asked her the question I had been wanting to ask her. I lowered my voice to make sure Arlen couldn’t hear me, “Then how about you run away with me? Me and Tina are going back to our homes, how about you come with us?”
The look of shock appeared again on her face, “But I couldn’t....” She looked out the window at Arlen and stared at him for a second. Then she turned back to me and a smile appeared on her face. It was the naughty smile of a child who was about to do something bad, I thought it suited her. “Do you have a plan of escape?”
I ginned back at her before whispering across the room, “Did you hear that Tina, it seems I’ve convinced our monstrous princess to let us kidnap her.”
One of Tina’s eyes peeked open. She might have been able to fool other people into thinking she was still asleep but I knew her too well. “Is that so? Well, don’t worry, escapes are my speciality. On the count of three I want both of you to escape through the back door. I’ll distract him and then catch up with you later. “One... Two... Three...”
Tina sprang into a sitting position before I could even blink. Then a slit second later she yowled and jumped through the window at Arlen. Why did she only think up crazy plans? When Arlen was distracted I grabbed Jamel’s hand and pulled her up off the couch. Then together we rushed out the back down and down the ally. I tried to avoid giggling as that might have given our location away to Arlen.
“So where are we going?” Jamel asked we as we ran down the street.
“Well, I was hoping that you’d be able to help us with that. Me and Tina have been trying to find our way back to the old world for some time now, do you know a way there?”
“The Old World, but don’t they hate monsters there? What if they make fun of me?” She looked a bit nervous at the prospect.
“Then hit them a few times, that’s what monsters do right? And don’t worry if that isn’t enough I’ll come rescue you from then too. Isn’t that what friends do for each other?” I tightened by grip on her hand as we leapt over a small ditch.
“Right, Friends. Turn left here.” The followed her directions and turned down a small alleyway. “There is a small permanent gate that the city used to use to get supplies. I don’t really remember where it goes but I do know it leads to the Old World.”
“Thats good enough for now. Which way is it from here?” I continued to follow her directs as we raced down the city streets. Eventually we reached a small empty plaza.
“This is it. Father and some of the city people knew how to open it, I think Arlen does too, but I’m afraid I don’t know what to do from here. I’m sorry...”
I shook my head and looked around the plaza, “What sort of monster apologizes when they haven’t done anything wrong?” I looked around the plaza trying to figure out how to open the gate. I closed my eyes and thought. Tina would be back soon and Arlen would probably be following her. I didn’t have much time. I stuck my hands in my pockets as I thought. Then feeling it I brought out the Destiny Watch and flicked it open. Bix or Zero would probably know what to do in this situation. What had Zero said about how to leave. She had said that the Silver and Red hands would guide me. I smiled, I didn’t think I would be able to find a way to open the gate... but I didn’t need. Now I just needed to wait for Tina and Arlen to get here.
When Arlen arrived at the plaza it was empty. The looked around looking for Tina whom he had been following. It didn’t take him to long to find scape of clothing on that ground that used to be part of Tina’s clothing. It must have accentually have fallen off when Tina had been here. Arlen said something under his breath, he must have been cursing our escape. However it didn’t look like her would just let us escape. It seemed like he must have come to the conclusion that we had escaped through the gate. He moved over to on of the large pillars on the side of the plaza. He placed his hand on it and said a few words, then suddenly the air began to swirl in the center of the plaza. The gate was opening. Soon a simmering portal appeared before him.
“See I told you he would fall for it.” I said as I stepped out from behind a nearby tree.
“Your so clever Ema, I never would have thought of that.” Said Tina as she followed behind me with Jamel.
“You... you tricked me.” Said Arlen as he glared at us past the shimmering portal.
“Don’t worry, you’ll have a chance to chase us in the Old World, I mean you were planning on doing that anyway weren’t you? Now!” I shouted and Tina and Jamel followed me as I rushed toward the portal.
I heard Arlen yell, “Come back here!” as he chased in after us. As we stepped into the gate I heard the sound again. The sound of ticking. The clicking that I heard in my dreams. The sound the hands on the Destiny Clock make where they move. Why I heard that sound as I passed through the gate I didn’t know.
When the light from the gate had faded I found myself standing the center of a street. I heard the loud horn of a car honking at me. It took me a second to realize I was standing in the middle of a sidewalk and that the light had just turned green. Tina and Jamel were standing right next to me looking as confused as I felt. We quickly vacated the street and moved onto the sidewalk which was crowded with people. I was trying to figure out where we were.
Jamel seemed to stand there agape looking at everything with a look of wonder on her face. I realize that it must have been years since she had been in the Old World and the Old World this definitely was. Jamel did look a little younger then me and Tina, she looked like she was 14 or 15 so she probably didn’t remember much about the Old World is what the old couple said was true. This was probably all very new to her.
“Hey, Ema. This is Traz.”
I looked over at Tina and replied, “Really?” I was quite surprised, what were the chances that the gate would have taken us only a couple of hours walk away from our home. It seemed too unlikely. I had a sinking suspicion that the Destiny Clock was somehow responsible for bring us this close. The fact that I didn’t see Arlen anywhere helped cement that suspicion.
“Jamel, my house is this way. It will probably be ok for you to stay at my house for now. My Mom is a demon, but she can be quite understanding at times.” I shuttered a little, while it was probably true that mm would accept Jamel’s presence without to many question it was also true that she would probably be frightfully angry that I had been missing for two days.
I let the way toward my house, however each footstep was more hesitant then the next. I wasn’t certain but I might have been more scared now then when I had faced the beetle in the mushroom forest.
Tina patted me on the shoulder and said, “Good luck.” She then took off down the street toward her house.
“Traitor!” I yelled after her as she fled. Tina’s mother was much more forgiving then mine, Tina probably also be punished but it wouldn’t be as scary as dealing with my mom.
“Are you sure I’m going to be alright?” Jamel said nervously. It seemed me and Tina had been scaring her with our antics.
“It will be fine... for you. It isn’t your fault we have been missing for two days after all.” I let out a fake little laugh.
All two soon I was standing outside my house with Jamel at my side. There was a strange car parked outside and I wondered whose it was. The license plate showed that the car was from out of state but that really didn’t give me any clues.
I took a deep breath and walked up to the door and knocked. I was preparing for the worse and truly hoping that it would be my dad who opened the door. He would have given me a knowing smile and snuck me in without my mom knowing... but alas fate is cruel.
“Where have you been young lady.” I cringed, my mom was standing there holding the door open. I knew she was upset, she only ever called me ‘young lady’ when I was in trouble. “Vanishing with Eglantina for two days without telling anyone, what where you thinking.” She wasn’t asking questions, she was lecturing. “I’m going to make you regret worrying me.”
She grabbed my by the collar and pulled me inside. Mom glanced at Jamel and said, “What are you waiting for, come in.” Jamel made a sound that was like a mouse squeaking and stepped inside.
My mom basically dragged me up the stairs. “Rollin has guest over so your going to get cleaned up and then go say greet him.” Rollin is my dad’s name.
“What? Why do I have to meet him?” I had been forced into the bathroom by my mom and was getting ready to take a shower, it was no use trying to avoid following my mom’s order.
“He is an old collage friend of Rollin’s and he is your godfather, even though you haven’t seen him in ages. So get clean now. And what did you do with your clothes!”
Godfather? I didn’t know that I had a godfather, but wasn’t it a bit strange for him to be visiting now. But my mom had told me to get clean and meet him so get clean I did. Once my shower was over I found my mom had laid out some clean clothes for me and to my dismay it included a skirt. I really disliked wearing skirts, but now wasn’t the time for trying to oppose my mom so I put it on anyway.
“Now get downstairs. Rollin is in the living room with his friend. You have already kept them waiting long enough.” My mom pointing me toward the stairs. She then put a hand on Jamel’s shoulder. Jamel looked like she had been standing there wondering what to do the whole time I was in the shower. “You’re getting clean too missy. Now get in there.” She pushed Jamel into the bathroom. I didn’t get to see what happened next because I had finished walking down the stairs and into the living room.
I stopped suddenly, my jaw hanging open. “Ah, Ema! Welcome home, I thought you were back. Mom was being quite loud.” My dad stood and picked me up in a big hug. For some reason he always called mom Mom. “This is my friend from collage, and your godfather. You haven’t seen him in what? Ten years?”
“Eleven actually.” The man replied. Yah right I thought, lier. What the hell was he doing here.
“What a coincidence. I wasn’t expecting to meet my Godfather just after I arrived home.”
“I was surprised too!” Said dad loudly. “To think he would call me out of the blue like that saying he was in town and wanted to drop by.
Happened to be in town, my foot. If this was just a coincidence then I would eat my socks, the ones I had tromped around in for the last to days and that my mom would probably be burning because they were so awful.
While my dad was talking loudly I said to the man in a nasty voice. “It is a pleasure to meet you Mr. Wizard Dragon, I didn’t expect that the discoverer of the New World and the person who caused the Great Change was my Godfather.”
I stared at the man with patchwork skin sitting at the living room table who was calmly sipping tea. Bix smiled in a knowing way, “I don’t know how those rumors got started. It is clearly a lie that I’m a dragon and that I caused the Great Change.”
What and you are a wizard and the person who discovered the New World? My father, still not really paying attention to us, said, “You probably don’t remember, but his name Bixuman Falldreck. You probably didn’t remember that he was your godfather but you might have heard of him before. He was one of the leaders of the Unknown Expedition so he has been in the news a few times.”
“I’m glad to see that you have grown up well. You are turning out to be quite a beauty. I’m sure all the boys leave love letters for you.” Said Bix, I couldn’t tell but I was almost certain that he was teasing me.
“Love letters are a bit old fashion don’t you think. However there are some strange boys out there, I mean just a couple of days ago this strange man gave me a weird watch. I’m not sure what sort of gift that is supposed to be.” I stared at Bix, if he was my Godfather why did he hide that when I met him two days ago. It was possible that he didn’t recognize me, but after all that had happened I didn’t buy that. It would have been too much of a coincidence if that was true.
“A watch? What a strange gift indeed. You will have to show it to me sometime.” Bix laughed. He then turned to my father and began asking trivial questions, catching up I suppose. It seems Bix wasn’t going to say anything, maybe because my dad was still here. I listened to them talk for a few minutes before Mom interrupted. She was leading Jamel, who was now clean and wearing one of my sets of clothes which were slightly large on her. Her crystal blue water like hair now sparkled in the light. I hadn’t realize she had been so dirty, I suppose that in her time in the castle basement she hadn’t been keeping herself clean.
Father and Bix turned to looked at her, “Oh, is this a new friend of yours Ema?” My dad looked down at her. He stroked the fur on his chin, it looked really strange seeing a wolf-man do that but I was used to his oddities. “A strange looking girl isn’t she.” He looked down at her and smiled, “Well make sure to take care of my daughter will you. She always needs more friends.”
Jamel smiled back and nodded, “Sure, monsters always stick together.” My father burst out laughing before patting her on the back which knocked the wind out of her. He probably thought she was joking, though I knew she was serious. She was probably relieved that my family fit all seemed to fit the monster description. I supposed I was sort of the odd person out. I didn’t really look like a monster, maybe I was just an honorary one.
It felt nice to be home once again, even if I had to deal with my mother’s punishments. (I was sure I was going to be grounded for a week, at least) While I had enjoyed a lot of my time in the New World it was good to finally regain some of my old routine. Even if the routine wasn’t the same as it was before it still felt good.
I didn’t think that Bix had just stopped in to pay a visit to an old friend. I’m sure he was here to send me around for some harebrained reason. It made to annoyed that he had sent me off from the church with the upside down waterfall when I could have just gone with him and arrived at my home safely. Of course then I wouldn’t have met, or save, Jamel so it was probably for the better. Though even that might have been part of his plan.
It seemed Bix wasn’t ready to tell me anything yet, so after talking with my Dad for a couple of hours bid us goodbye. However he did say he was staying in the area for a while longer so he would drop by occasionally. I knew I would get a chance to talk with him eventually.
After Bix left I needed to soft out the details of what to do with Jamel. I was still formulating a long term plan but for now I managed to convince my mom to let Jamel stay here for a couple of days at least. I lied and made up a story about how her guardians were forced to leave town on business and she needed a place to stay while they were gone. I’m not sure my mom completely bought it, especially after my tall tale about what I had been doing the last couple of days. Yet, she eventually agreed to let Jamel stay with us for a while.
It seemed like everything had been dealt with, at least for now, and that I would be returned to my regular old life once again. Little did I know how wrong I had been. I had forgotten that Zero had said that I had already met four of the Hands, I guess when she told me I must have assumed that Bix had been the fourth. It hadn’t crossed my mind that the fourth hand could have been someone I had known in the Old World.
Chapter 7: Science Teachers and Stormy Skies
It seemed we had arrived home just in time for the weekend. My mother was angry that I had missed two days of school but there wasn’t anything I could do about that anymore. After everything that happened during my journey to the New World the weekend was impossibly quiet, it probably had something to do with my mom refusing to let me leave the house. I felt I was to old to still be grounded, but that didn’t stop my mom. Tina decided to visit on Sunday, it seemed her mother had been sobbing when Tina had returned. Her mother was much more lenient then mine, a medusa couldn’t beat a demon in evil mothering power it seemed.
My only consolation was that Jamel was staying at my house so I didn’t feel that much like being grounded. I took the time to tell her everything that had happened before we had met and she told me a little about what happened to her too. It wasn’t much different then the old couple had told me or what I had suspected all along. However it was nice to hear the story from her, it gave a new perspective on the events. I won’t repeat it here though because most of it is stuff I have already told you.
Monday rolled around soon enough and it was time to go to school once again. I keep having unusual experiences so returning to school felt odd compared to everything I have been through. My big problem was what to do with Jamel while I went to school. It would have been too unusual for her to not have school so I couldn’t leave her at home while I went off to school.
I’m just glad I had left my phone in my bag when I had dived into the pool after Tina. It seems someone had found my bag and shoes and had returned them to my house. While my mom had confiscated my phone over the weekend I had gotten it back before I left for school. I had left early with Jamel, telling my mom that I needed the time to get all the homework that I hadn’t gotten and to catch up from my two missed days.
As I walked slowly toward school I made the phone call that I had been desperately needing to make. The phone rang several times and I almost though it wasn’t going to be answered when I heard a voice on the other end, “Eh, Ema... why are you calling me so early in the morning?” The voice sounded groggy, like the speaker hadn’t gotten much sleep. That was probably likely, she had some strange hobbies and usually stayed up late at night during the weekend.
“What are you saying? You should be awake by now. School starts in an hour and a half. Did you stay up all night bothering helpless people again?” My question was light and teasing. She always liked it when I pretended to be interested in her hobbies.
She giggled for a second and there was a pause on the other end of the line, I’m sure that she was checking her clock. “Oh? Your right, it is almost time for school to start.” She didn’t sound very worried. I heard some shuffling on the other side of the phone, she must have started getting ready. There was a yawn, “Thanks for the wake-up call, I don’t know what I would do without you Ema.”
“You’d probably miss class, it wouldn’t be the first time it would happen. The principle gets angry then that happens you know. But I actually called you because I had a favor to ask you. There is a friend I need you to keep at your house for a while. I can explain everything later but I need to keep her at your house during school today.”
That elicited a, “Oh really?” I could hear her getting interested. “Your going to have to tell me everything after school, I really want to know what happened.” I could hear what sounded like glee in her voice. I knew she was probably going to press me for details for hours tonight, she could get a little obsessive at times. “Well then, I’m assuming your almost here. I’ll be down in a moment, I can’t wait to see who your friend is.” I wasn’t sure what she was thinking as I hung up my phone.
Jamel looked at me questioningly, I gave her a reassuring smile. “Don’t worry, my friend my be a little strange but she will be able to keep you are her house for a long as you want. It will better then trying to explain everything to my Mother.”
It didn’t that long to arrive at my other friend’s house. She didn’t live to far from school, which is a good thing because she would constantly miss class if that wasn’t the case. It was a short squat building with dull colored paint. I went up and knocked on the door, it wasn’t too long before the door was flung open by a tall woman wearing a blood-stained lab coat. She began laughing maniacally and I heard what sounded like lightning and the splattering of rain even though it was a completely cloudless day.
I gave her a level stare before asking, “Don’t you think adding the audio track was a bit much?”
The woman swept her long red hair up before responding, “If something is worth doing, it is worth overdoing.” This loud woman was Miss. Krien Brain. She was my friend and the science teacher at my school. She was also a Freak so she still looked like a human. Freak is a rude way to refer the Gifted humans whose change during the Great Change was acquiring unusual powers. I usually don’t use the word Freak except for Miss Krien Brain for whom it always seems appropriate. As for her name, I still think that she changed her last name to Brain.
She stalked over toe Jamel. Krien stared over Jamel with a kind of scientific precision before reaching out and grabbing her hair, “Your hair, is fascinating.” There was a creepy tone in her voice. “Your arms and legs too.” Krien turned to me and smiled her too creepy smile, “Your letting such an interesting specimen stay with me. You’re too kind. Now you absolutely must tell my your story.”
Jamel didn’t even twitch when Krien ran her fingers through her hair. Maybe such a creepy person brought out Jamel’s inner monster more. “I’ll tell you the story after school but now we need to get going or we will be late.”
Krien let go of Jamel sort of regretfully. “Very well, you can stay at my place. Be a good girl and don’t leave until I get back, I haven’t had a chance to examine you yet. You can make yourself home anyway you want and there is probably food in the fridge if you want it, I don’t think there is anything poisonous in there. Just don’t let anything out of cages while I’m gone and you shouldn’t have much to worry about.”
Jamel nodded some before responding, “Don’t worry. I’m a monster so I can take care of my self.” She sounded sort of proud of herself.
I waved goodbye to Jamel as Krien and I headed to school. As we walked toward school I asked Krien for another favor. She thought for a minute on it before nodding and replying, “Should be fun.” I was relieved, that would help deal with a lot of my problems. Plus if she thought it was interesting then she would get it done and no force on earth would stop her. Krien is a little, ok a lot, crazy and when she got into something she didn’t stop.
I told you Krien was a Freak right. Well, Gifted humans have unusual powers and Krien’s was being hard to stop. I mean that in a shot several times and still coming way. Krien made a crazy science teacher because she didn’t care for safety gear and did things like stick her bare hand directly in the beaker of acid. As far as I could tell it was impossible for Krien to die from anything that wasn’t instantly fatal. She liked experiments where she could show the danger of something by exposing the danger directly to herself. The cleaning duty for the science classroom had long since learned effective ways of cleaning up blood.
Of course she only managed to keep her teaching license because she made sure that the students didn’t mimic her potentially dangerous actions. That and she was one of the most knowledgeable people in the world about human biology, mainly from experiments on herself.
There were a lot of students who were absolutely terrified of Krien. However some like me and Tina had learned that Krien was actually a really nice person... if a bit creepy and over the top. From what I learned apparently the reason she had become a teacher instead of a researcher was because she liked being with people even if a lot of people didn’t like being with her. When she had first started teaching at my school she kept inviting people into the science lab for tea, but nobody wanted to join her. She hadn’t done that recently, I guess now that she is mostly accepted at the school and has a few students and teachers she could call friends she was satisfied. She is rather a strange person, as I’m sure I mentioned.
Once we reached school she left me to go prepare for classes when I tried to figure out what I have missed when I was gone for a couple of days. Luckily Tina and her mom had already arrived and I was able to figure out what I had missed from them.
The rest of the day passed relatively peacefully, Krien had decided to have another science experiment during class but that wasn’t unusual for Krien. Thinking back I should have been glad for that one calm day before things started happening again. I spent some of the time during lunch catching up with some of my other friends, I told them what had happened to me and they laughed and told me it was a great yarn. I don’t think they were being rude, its just the tail was fairly improbably. I wasn’t surprised they didn’t believe me.
There were still a couple of my friend I wasn’t able to talk with. A couple of them I thought would believe me. Quell, who was a year older then me would probably believe me. He was local bookworm and loved hearing stories about the troubles Tina got in. I’m sure he would love to hear what had happened to me. But he was in a different class I was had plans for after school so I wasn’t able to meet with him. The second one was Mink, but she was missing from school as usual. Mink was usually very sickly and tended to miss a lot of school. However I was busy so I didn’t have a chance to see either of them today.
Indeed I decided to head back to Krien’s place to check on Jamel. When I was got there I was happy to see that she was doing well. I was worried at first when it seemed that she had ignored Krien’s orders and opened up one of the cages. However It seemed that shrinking hadn’t weakened her monster factor and the weird thing that had been in the cage now followed her around like a pet. I was coming to realize that Jamel was usually a timid girl that had to much power. She had probably grown up being afraid of being a monster. It then just got to much for her when her father died and she began letting everything out all at once.
I talked with Jamel for a few minutes while waiting for Krien to arrive back home. I wanted to make sure our plan was going smoothly before returning home myself. I didn’t have to wait very long before Krien entered with a flourish and a cackle of laughter. Among her various other talents Krien made very flashy entrances.
“Were you successful?” I asked Krien.
Krien swept out her hand and announced, “Of course!” Before pulling a piece of paper out from somewhere and brandishing it. “As of tomorrow Jamel Fillmore will be a student at your high school” There was a crackle of thunder from somewhere nearby. I wondered how she had managed to time that sound effect that perfectly.
“What?” Jamel only stared confused at the piece of paper. “Me, a student, but that’s... impossible.” She seemed very hesitant, which was understandable. She had probably never been to a public school before. There might have only been one school in the entire city she grew up in.
I grinned at her before saying, “Come on, it will be fun. You’ll be going to the same school at me and Tina. Krien is also a teacher there so you will know plenty of people there. Beside at your age it will be hard to make up excuses if you aren’t going to school.”
She seemed to hesitantly agree. I was going to try and encourage her more when I heard another crackle of thunder. I looked over at Krien, “What was that for? Is there something you wanted to say?”
Krien shook her head, “No, that wasn’t caused by me. It seemed to come from outside.” That was strange, the sky had been clear all day. I couldn’t tell what was happening outside because Krien’s house didn’t have windows. So I headed to the door and peeked outside.
The sky which had been crystal clear when I had entered Krien’s house was now completely clouded. There was a flash of lightning nearby and then a clap of thunder. I would have whispered impossible but I was getting used to impossible events. I looked back in, “It seemed the weather has changed instantly. I had better start heading home in case it starts raining. Sorry Krien my story will have to come later. Jamel do you want to stay here with Krien, it would be easier if I didn’t have to keep lying to my mom and Krien probably wants you to stay.”
Krien grinned that creepy grin of hers and per her arm around Jamel’s shoulder. “She will be fine with me tonight.” It seemed Krien was ignoring Jamel’s protests. “You go ahead, I’ll listen to your story later once I’m done with Jamel.”
I nodded and after saying goodbye heading out there door. I was only a couple of blocks away from Krien’s house when I noticed it. It was now dark outside so it wasn’t surprising that it took me a while to notice it. Looming over the city, tall and dark, was a tower. It looked almost like the one I had meet Zero in, but I knew it wasn’t the same tower. This one dark as pitch and seemed to sport parapets and outcroppings. The one I had met Zero in was smooth and straight, unlike this one. However they were both impossibly tall and I knew that the similarity couldn’t just be coincidence.
“The Tower of Nothing.” I almost jumped out of my shoes when someone just behind me spoke. I turned to see Bix standing right behind me. Either I had been distracted by the tower or he were completely silent in his approach. I turned back to the tower, at least this tower wasn’t invisible to everyone, Bix was able to see it too, though I wouldn’t be surprised if other people couldn’t see it.
“The Tower of Nothing? I thought that was the tower that Zero was in.” I said absently. However when I though about it I remembered that Zero had repeated the statement ‘Your Third Question shall be answered in the Tower of Nothing’ when I left the invisible tower. It would have been strange to say that if I had already been to the Tower of Nothing and asked my Third Question.
“Zero?” For a second Bix sounded like he didn’t understand. Then he continued as if everything had made sense, “I see, is that what happened.” It was almost as if he was speaking to himself. “So Zero mentioned The Tower of Nothing. It has arrived sooner then I had hoped but later then I feared. The plan will still proceed on schedule.”
I looked at him wondering how much he really knew. “This isn’t just a coincidence that the tower appeared in the same city as I live in. Ever since I entered the New World everything seems to be happening like it was a someone’s plan. Bix tell my why I’m mixed up in every thing.”
“Instead of wondering why The Tower of Nothing appeared in city you live in instead wonder why you just happen to live in the city that the Tower of Nothing appeared in. That is where you will find the answers. I can't tell you all the answer to the questions you have, that is why I gave you the Destiny Watch to guide you.” He was still staring at the Tower of Nothing as if I wasn’t really there.
“What questions of mine can you answer then? I’m tired of not understanding what is happening around me.” He finally turned and meet my gaze. For a glimmering of a second I thought I saw fear in his eyes.
“The Tower of Nothing is neither good nor evil. Only you have the key to open it, though you have not found it yet. There are those who fear the Tower of Nothing and will stop at nothing to prevent you from open the doors. Be wary of them and gather your seven hands. I am doing my best to protect you but there is only so much I can do. I only other advice I can give you is that the Tower of Nothing is only seem by those you are involved in Destiny, be they friends or foes do not ignore someone who can see it.”
Bix turned at left, I wanted to follow him but I knew he was not the type of person to tell me more if he didn’t want to. Why though, why was I important? Even given that I was important what was inside the Tower of Nothing and why would someone want to stop me from entering it. It seemed that the only thing that I knew about it was that my third question would be answered inside it. Yet what was my third question? It seemed that every-time I discovered something I knew less and less about what was actually happening.
Before I knew it my feet had brought be back to my neighborhood. Even after the walk I still haven’t thought of any answers to my questions. I was passing Tina’s house when I looked up and saw Tina on the room. Seeing her there wasn’t unusual but what was unusual was that she was staring out at the tower. So Tina could see it too. It seemed that Tina noticed me and she looked down and said, “Ema, that tower. What is it? My mom, she can’t see it.” She looked back at the tower, “Somehow I get this bad feeling from it.”
I looked at the Tower again. I got a bad feeling too whenever I looked at it, though I don’t think it was because of the tower itself. I felt that its arrival foretold a darker future for me and that life wouldn’t be quiet from now on. There was something else too, something that I felt I was missing, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. I could only respond to Tina, “I don’t know. Only Ruin dwells within the Tower of Nothing.” I was surprised at myself. Why had I said that, that ruin dwells in the tower. Maybe that was just the feeling that the tower had given me, but maybe it was more then that. I didn’t know.
When I arrived home I heard my parents comment about the strange weather but not a word about the tower. Maybe they couldn’t see it so I didn’t say anything. After dinner I watched the TV with mom and dad. I mainly stuck around to listen to the news. There was a report but all it talked about was how unusual the storm was and how it appeared almost out of nowhere. There wasn’t any mention of the tower. I guess most people really couldn’t see it.
I laid down to sleep but tossed and turned. I didn’t seem to be able to sleep. Maybe I feared I would have nightmares about the tower outside. I could see it through my window as lay in bed. What are the chances that it would appear just in a place I could always see from from room.
Bix’s question then came to mind. He had said that I should wonder what I happened to be in the city where the tower was and not the other way around. Then why was I living in a house that just happened to have a clear view of the tower. It seemed that even thinking about it that way didn’t help. I still had no answers but lots of questions.
I tried ranking my question to figure out which was the third one, but that also didn’t help. I was never able to make up my mind about what should be the Third Question. I don’t know when but I eventually fell asleep.
Chapter 8: Old Friends
“Hello little one, what are you doing?”
“Oh, Hi. You were the one talking with daddy right?”
“Yes, he is a good friend of mine. You might not know me but I’m your Godfather. My full name is a little hard to pronounce but you can call me Bix.”
“Nice to meet you Bix. I’m drawing pictures. Do you want to join me?”
“Let me see. Oh, these pictures are quiet interesting. Hmmm, a pocket watch with seven different colored hands, how unique. And this, its looks like a large black tower coming out of a lake, there seems like the reflection is of a completely different tower. Your good at drawing but you have quiet the imagination don’t you.”
“Thanks Bix. Mom just told me that they were strange so I stopped showing them to her. Do you want to see what I am drawing now?”
“Sure little one, hand it to me and I’ll look at it... ...”
“What is it Bix? You look funny. Did I do something wrong in the picture.”
“Oh, there is nothing wrong. I just... It’s nothing. However I think this is the best picture out of all of them. Do you think I could have it?”
“Ok, I’m glad you like it. You can take any of the others if you want too. Mom would just throw them away if I keep them.”
“Well... maybe I should. It would be a waste if they were just thrown away. I’ll give them back to you when you are all grown up, then your mom won’t be able to throw them away. Do you have any other picture that you want me to make sure are safe.”
“Yeah, I have one more that I am hiding from mom. If you promise to keep it safe then I will give it to you.”
“I’ll be sure to keep it safe... ... Is this it? This.. this is... this is it... How? How did you?”
“Is something wrong? Wait, Bix! Where are you going? Come back.... Don’t leave... Bix!”
“Ema! Ema! Wake-up! I’ll miss school if you keep sleeping.” I was startled awake by my mother shaking me awake. I was usually good at waking up at the right time in the morning. I rubbed my eyes and sat up. That dream, I could still remember it though it wasn’t very clear. Was it something I was remembering or just a figment of my imagination. Did I really meet Bix when I child. I strained my mind as I tried to remember the dream, Bix’s face it looked the say but without the patchwork. However that didn’t didn’t tell me if it was a real memory or a imagined one.
I do remember that I used to like to draw when I was a child... but were my drawing really what I remembered in the dream. That would be too improbable because it would have been before the Great Change, wouldn’t it?
What was it in those two pictures, the ones Bix had been surprised at seeing, I couldn’t remember from the dream. As I got up and got dress I tried hard to remember but to no avail. Nothing in my real memory suggested showed that the dream was true. I looked out my window into the raising sun. But there was the dark tower visible from outside my window contrasted by the raising sun. Did my dream have anything to do with the Tower of Nothing’s appearance.
As I grabbed breakfast I asked my mom if she remembered what kind of drawing I made when I was a kind. However she shrugged her shoulders and said that she really didn’t remember, it was a long time ago after all. I supposed that made sense, I didn’t really remember what happened back then either, I was really young at the time. It was only after the Great Change that my memory had become really accurate.
I felt home to find Tina waiting for me outside. That was unusual, I was usually the one waiting for her in the morning. We talked about everyday things I we made our way to Krien’s house. However be both occasionally glanced at the Tower, even if we didn’t speak about it it worried both of us.
I tried telling Tina that Jamel was going to be transferring to out school today but it seemed that she had already found out about it. I guess that is one of the advantages of having a teacher as a mother.
We arrived to Krien’s house to find Jamel almost ready. Krien had already gotten ready and headed to school before us. Jamel on the other hand didn’t seem in very good health. She probably didn’t get much sleep last night, Krien probably kept her up with questions and tests all through the night. Krien didn’t worry about sleep in the same way as most people, she could stay up many days in a row before it finally started to show effects on her.
As we stepped back outside I asked Jamel I question which I thought I already knew the answer to, “You can see it, the Tower?” Jamel only nodded, eventually I managed to find out that she had spotted it only a few minutes after I had left and one of the reasons it she was so tried was that Krien has also pressed her for every detail about the tower. Krien apparently wasn’t able to see the tower but that didn’t stop her from believing it was there or trying to figure out why Jamel could see it and not her.
We managed to arrive at school on time and got Jamel to the teacher’s office to finish up her transfer before heading to class. It seemed Mink wasn’t here today either, I should probably pay her a visit after school to make sure she is alright.
However it was to our surprise when the teacher announced that we were getting a transfer student into our class today. It was unexpected because I had assumed that since Jamel was younger then me and Tina that Krien would be enrolling her in a different class. In fact I could have sworn I remembered seeing that she as in a different class on the transfer notice I had seen Krien give her yesterday.
However my memories and assumptions were correct. The girl who entered the class was definitely wasn’t Jamel. She was taller with pitch black eyes. Her hair and nails were the same color. She was also very beautiful, to beautiful if you ask me like she was a perfectly carved mannequin. What are the chances that there would be two transfers in one day, pretty good once you stop believing in coincidence. I knew without a doubt that this girl transfered here for a reason and she had deliberately found a way to transfer into the same class that I was in.
I was also absolutely certain what she was also able to see the Tower of Nothing. Though as for the why, I didn’t know. I somehow didn’t think that she was one of the Seven Hand, however that might mean that she was one of the people that Bix had spoken about, those who would stop at nothing to prevent me from opening the Tower of Nothing.
“Class this is Etern Void, everyone be nice and give her a warm welcome.” I could only stare, what sort of person calls themselves Etern Void. It was obviously a made up name what that sounded like Eternal Void... Was she trying to be smart or was she just and idiot.
Etern didn’t respond to our teacher’s introduction and instead just began walking toward her chair which was just behind mine. Somehow I didn’t think that was a coincidence either. She stopped just as she was about to pass me, no that isn’t right. It was more like everybody else had stopped. It was like time was paused, was that just the feeling as we looked at each other or had time really stopped.
“Your crime, it will never be forgiven.” Her voice seemed as dark as her eyes.
I didn’t know what crime she was talking about but I responded, “That isn’t very frightening coming from someone with such a ridiculous name.”
It seemed I had hit a nerve because her face twisted in what I thought was anger. However the expression passed and I hear the teacher say, “Is something wrong Ms. Void?”
Etern didn’t respond and instead simply moved to her seat behind me. Throughout the rest of the class I could almost feel her eyes boring into me. It made it very hard to concentrate.
As soon as lunch arrived I quickly left to escape from her and to see how Jamel was doing. I didn’t take me long to find her. It seemed she had become infamous the moment she had entered class. Apparent she introduced herself as “The Monster Jamel” which seemed to catch the attention of the entire class. It had yet to be seen if that was a good thing or a bad thing but at least she wasn’t pretending to be normal.
I wondered how much see was going to tell everyone about what happened but I doubted they would believe everything anymore then my other friends did. Speaking of friends I decided to try and find Quell during lunch. I could probably convince him to come with me to visit Mink after school and that would help cut down my explanation about what happened.
I found Quell in the library as usual. He seems to spend all his free time in the library while at school. He was even eating his lunch in the library. He saw me and motioned me over, pulling out a chair. It was sometimes hard to notice Quell in the library because he almost looked like a book himself. His skin was a papery color and it felt like paper too. His skin was covered in writing and pictures which made him look like he was a book as well. However the writing on him had a habit of changing every so often.
“Hey Quell, have I got a story for you” I pulled out a chair and sat next to him.
“Really well I would love to here it.” Quell looked up and me. He there glanced around, “I don’t see Tina with you, I hope nothing happened to her.” While he expressed real concern I knew he was usually totally oblivious. He probably didn’t even know that me and Tina had been missing from school for two days.
“Yah, she’s fine. Actually I was planning on paying Mink a visit after school because she was missing yesterday and I was hoping you would come along. I wanted to tell her the story too so it would be better if I told you together. I promise that the story won’t disappoint you.” Quell seemed nervous, he was always uncomfortable in unfamiliar places even if it had been someplace he had been numerous times.
Eventually he nodded. “Great” I said, “I’ll meet you after school at the gates.” I stood up and pushed the chair back in. “I’ve got to get going now, lunch is almost over and I still have things to do.”
I exited the library and began heading to the science lab. I wanted to pay a visit to Krien because I had a few questions I wanted to ask. Krien was in the lab and was apparently using the burners to cook something in a beaker. I don’t know how she was able to call something like that lunch, but I guess it was one of the least of her oddities.
“Krien, could I speak with you for a moment. I wanted to ask you about the student Etern who mysteriously transferred into my class today.”
A puff of black smoke came from the beaker as Krien turned to me. She flashed me her creepy smile, “Now that’s an interesting question. Yesterday when I was applying for Jamel’s transfer I heard nothing about it but this morning all the paperwork was completed. It seems the principle did her transfer request personally. However everything about it oozes of secrecy.”
“I see, well keep me notified if you find out anything else.” I left the lab just as Krien’s lunch began billowing black smoke and emitting a noxious oder.
I returned to the class room with just enough time to finish my own lunch before class started again. The rest of class went relatively smoothly despite Etern sitting behind me.
When class ended I grabbed Tina and headed out of class. I stopped by Jamel’s classroom and picked her up before heading out from school. We meet Quell just outside school and began heading toward Mink’s house. She lived a ways from school so it took us a while to reach her house.
Her house was quite large, bigger then mine or Tina’s. Both of Mink’s parents were doctors, so they had a lot of money. Her parents were also the reason that she was able to get such excellent care whenever she was sick, which was quite often.
I knocked on the door. Mink’s parents probably weren’t home because they usually have to stay late at work. However to take care of Mink when she was in bad condition they had hired a servant who acted as Mink’s personal caregiver and her parent’s secretary.
The door creaked open however there did appear to be anyone on the other side. Shin, the servant was always like this. You almost never saw him and he usually operated without anyone ever knowing he was there. I don’t know if he was just secretive or what else.
“Thanks Shin.” I said as I stepped inside. Everybody followed me inside. Jamel was the only person who hadn’t been here before. Quell still looked nervous despite having come here many times in the past. I headed up the stairs to Minks room and knocked on the door.
“Hello, who’s there?” Came a joyful and excited voice from inside. Mink was sick a lot so you was probably lonely. She also loved having visitors so she would probably be happy to see all of us. In fact she enjoyed being with people so much that it wasn’t uncommon for her to go to school even when she wasn’t feeling well, unfortunately this always tended to aggravate her problems.
I flung open the door. The room was white. The walls, floor, ceiling, even the furniture was white. The only thing that broke the effect was the window which let in a rainbow of colors. However through the window marring this sight was a tall pitch black tower. I didn’t feel that this was a coincidence either.
Mink was looking at some papers on her bed when we came in. She set them aside as we entered. Mink fit the rest of the room perfectly. Her skin was pure white, one might think she was an albino but she lacked the characteristic red eyes. Instead her eyes were as white as her skin.
Looking at her now caused me to draw comparisons with Etern who seemed so similar to Mink. While they didn’t look alike and seemed complete opposites, their seemed strangely similar
“Hello Mink, I hope your doing all right. You weren’t at school yesterday so you had a worried.” She smiled at me as I spoke.
Tina butted in and said, “Yes, and I’m sure that she was sick with worry because we missed class for two days.”
Mink smiled a warm smile, it was if she was filling the room with kindness, “Yes, it was unusual having to worry about other people missing when it is usually other people worrying about me. I hope you plan to apologize to me for how much you have worried me.” Mink looked at all of us, “It seems everyone has come to see me.” She noticed Jamel, “Oh and what new friend have you brought with you today.”
I motioned Jamel forward. It seemed that Jamel was uncomfortable. That was understandable because it might seem to Jamel that Mink was a very bright person and Jamel was just a stain on that brightness. I know however that Jamel was wrong in this case. “Mink, this in the monster Jamel. Jamel, this is Mink. I hope you can both get along.”
Mink beamed at Jamel, “Wow, I’ve never had a monster as a friend before. I hope that we will have lots of fun together. Please take care of me.” Jamel seemed to melt in Mink’s warmed. All Jamel could do was nod and respond, “I’ll do my best.”
“Well, since you brought Quell with you I assume that you have an interesting story to tell me about why you missed several days of school.”
“Yet, and quite a interesting story it is too. I brought Tina and Jamel because they both experienced it with me. However before I tell my story I have a question I want to ask you and Quell.”
“Oh ho, I question is is,” Said Mink is a light hearted voice, “Somehow I had a feeling that you would ask us a question. I also think I know what the question is, but I will let you ask it and see if I got it correct.”
Given that I already thought I knew the answer to the question I was about to ask I wasn’t really surprised that she could guess what the question was. I raised my hand and pointed out the window. “That tower, can you see it.” I stated the question as simply as I could.
Mink only continued to smile at me, though she now looked slightly smug. Quell seemed to shiver in nervousness. It seemed I had my answer. I wasn’t surprised that both of them could see the tower. However what I still didn’t know is why so many of the people I knew were wrapped up in everything. I decided to add that to my extending list of questions I wanted answered.
“Well, that makes it easier. My story will make a lot more sense if you can see the tower.” I then began the lengthy process of telling the story about what happened since I left school last week. It was starting to get late when the story was finally over. It had taken longer then I had expected. Tina kept interrupting and adding little useless facts. Jamel on the other-hand told her side of the story, some of which I hadn’t known until she told us.
When it was finally over everyone sat still for a couple minute. Quell seemed to be deep in thought. He usually took a lot of time when thinking something through but he usually and deep insight into things that I would never have thought of.
Mink on the other hand had a strange look on her face. While she was usually joyful she now looked very thoughtful, not a look she usually has. “Ema, do you remember when we first met.”
I didn’t really understand how that was relevant but I answered anyway. “Let’s see... If I recall correctly it was around five years, just after the Great Change.”
“Actually we met before the Great Change. You might not have remembered me because I looked different then. I was sicker then then I am now so I was staying at the hospital that my parents work at. You were there for some reason, I believe that your father had been in an accident and you were coming to visit him.”
I was surprised, however my memories from before the Great Change aren’t as good as those after so it was possible. I tried remembering and only got hazy memories about the accident that father was in, which did confirm that I was in the hospital at around the time she was suggesting.
“You were worried about me when you learned I had been in the hospital for a long time. When you weren’t visiting your father you used to sit on the bed with me and draw pictures for me.” Continued Mink, “I had forgotten most of that myself until recently, however when I first saw that black tower I suddenly remembered. I had Shin search for the pictures that you drew for me back then.”
Mink reached to her bedside table and pulled out the papers she had been looking at when we had first entered her room. “There are the drawing that he found. You should look at them, I think you will be surprised.”
I grabbed the papers, suddenly worried. I was remembering the dream I had this morning. What had a drawn back then when I was a kid and why did it seem so important now. However when I saw the pictures I understood why.
Chapter 9: Pictures of the Past
The top picture was drawn mostly in white. It looked like a snowy day, however the landscape was marred by a large black tower raising from a frozen lake. The landscape around the pool make it looked like a park, I thought I recognized it but I couldn’t place it. Yet, the thing I noticed before even those was a figure standing in front of the tower. It was a young girl in a white dress, however the rest of the figure was completely white as well.
I looked up from the picture and stared and Mink. Just by looking at this picture we both knew that the person in the picture was Mink, however it wasn’t possible for me to have drawn this before the Great Change... was it? I pulled out another picture from the pile and looked at it.
It has snowed in this picture as well. However this picture had more in it then just Mink. There were eight people depicted in this picture, seven of them were standing in a circle around the eighth figure. The seven figures were facing outward from the center one and I couldn’t make out the features on five of them because they were facing away from the picture.
The one standing in the center of the ring of people was me, it was a younger version of me certainly but it was definitely me. I also recognized the two other people who’s features were visible. One was clothed all in white and it had to be Mink. The other visible one was in an orange dress, I recognized the cat ears and tail instantly, that one must be Tina. I looked at the other five figures, the two just next to Tina were in Red and Silver.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out the Destiny Clock. I flipped it open and sure enough there was a White Hand. This picture was definitely showing the people who were the Hands. The other three Hands, who were they. I pulled out another picture and looked at it.
This picture seemed to be indoors, however there was a window revealing a winter landscape outside. The room appeared to be a lab of some sort, it contained all sort of complex technical equipment that I didn’t recognize, they might have just been made-up. There were two people with lab-coats working on something, a man and a women. I couldn’t make out the woman’s features because she was turned away, but the man... I could tell that the man was Bix, however it was probably the younger Bix before the great change.
There were still two pictures that I hadn’t seen so I pulled the next one out. It initially thought that this one was easy to recognize. It was a clock with seven hands, I was able to move to the last picture when I realized that something was different. This clock wasn’t of the Destiny Clock that I had it my pocket. The hands were of different colors and shaped differently. In their place were a bunch of different hand which I didn’t recognize.
The last picture was also in white but not because of the wintery landscape. It was because most of the picture was not completed. There was the back of someone that I wasn’t able to recognize because the drawing wasn’t complete. The person were facing away into what looked like a mirror. However the reflection in the mirror was my own. The one looking into the mirror definitely wasn’t me though, although the drawing was incomplete I could make out that much.
Finally I set down the papers and looked at Mink. Tina quickly snatched up the drawings and began paging through them. “Mink, do you understand these pictures any better then I do?” Since see had found them I hoped she was able to enlighten me, even a little.
“I can tell you that these were all drawn before the Great Change but you probably already knew that.” Mink smiled a knowing smile, “I believe that either there is a link between you and the Great Change or that something is wrong with people’s memories before the Great Change.”
I furrowed my brow, “What do you mean?”
“Maybe the Great Change never happened, what if the world was always like this and what happened during the Great Change modified everyone’s memories to become like it is now.”
“That isn’t possible. I mean there are pictures, videos, and all sorts of records that verify that the world changed drastically then.”
“I think that the world changing from that to what it is now is far more unlikely, don’t you think? It would also explain why everything worked out very well, because that was how it always was. Of course this is only wild speculation, there are many other possibilities that I could think of.”
I considered her argument and I had to admit that there was some validity in her thought process. However I still didn’t think that was what happened, that theory had as much validity as one where the world was first created during the Great Change. I wanted to believe that my memories were correct.
“Your other idea suggests that I am somehow involved in the Great Change. Are you trying to saw that my pictures resemble you current reality because it is possible that I caused reality to become like that.” I felt that idea was just as far-fetched as the one about how the world had never changed.
“That is defiantly possible.” This time it was Quell that spoke. He seemed to have finished thinking and begun to reveal his wisdom. “However the probably is more about what changed the world, whether it was the world itself that changed or just everyone’s memories you, Ema, are mixed up in everything. There are two that you spoke of are also people who were directly involved. Bix, and Zero both know enough that I think they had something to do with it, that is why they can predict your future because they helped craft the past which somehow involves you.”
I thought about what Quell had suggested. It certainly seemed that Bix and Zero knew more then they should. If we assumed that I had something to do with the Great Change then it wasn’t to far of a leap to guess that they were also involved. However there was one big problem that I was dealing with, “If I am somehow mixed up in the Great Change how come I’m not able to remember anything about causing it. I think that would be something that I would remember.”
“Not if you were only indirectly involved or if they changed your memories.” Chimed in Tina. It seemed that she had finished looked at the pictures and had returned them to Mink.
“Even if that is true,” I began protesting, “Then what am I supposed to do? I can’t just sit by if people begin to come after me like Bix said they would. Yet everything that I learn just makes me understand less.”
“Then maybe you should visit the source of our troubles. If you go to the black tower, the Tower of Nothing, then maybe you will be able to find something out.” It was Jamel who was making the suggestion. “You might find some answers to your questions, after all if you keep finding questions then eventually the won’t be any more questions and then there must be answers.”
I wasn’t really certain if I liked thought. However, the plan to visit the Tower of Nothing was better then any other that I had. “Alright then, tomorrow after school I’ll pay a visit to the tower and see if I can learn anything. Anyone who wants to come with me can, though I have no idea if anything strange will happen or not. However, I suspect that something will happen.”
Having a plan made me feel a little better even if it wouldn’t actually solve anything. It did make me feel like I was in more control of the situation that just seemed to spiral out of control. “Mink, you can keep those pictures, after all I drew them for you.” Mink smiled at me and nodded in thanks.
“However it is getting late and we should probably all head home.” I got agreement from everyone. Mink however seemed a little sad that everyone was leaving, though she did a good job at hiding that. We bid goodbye to her as we left and began heading back. Eventually we slip up, Jamel went to Krien’s house while Quell went to his own.
Me and Tina continued walking together for a while, after all we lived close to each other. As we stopped outside my house Tina turned to me, “Ema, I have a strange feeling. It is like a storm is coming. Be careful, something big is going to happen, something that will make our adventures in the New World seem small. At least that is what I think.” Tina looked unusually solemn as she spoke. She the laughed lightly, “Or maybe not.” With that Tina left for her house.
“Thanks Tina.” I whispered after her as she left. I didn’t know if she heard me, but she might have because her hearing was so good. I went inside and got ready for bed. I could still see the black tower out my window, it was indeed a dark owen. As I tried to sleep I was worried about having bad dreams or at least more dreams I couldn’t make sense of. I guess I didn’t need to have worried. I didn’t dream about the dark tower, in fact I didn’t have any dreams.
The next morning was a dark overcast day like the world was predicting a fore-coming disaster. However like any normal day I had to prepare for school. I was able to get up on time today so after I was done preparing I headed over to Tina’s house to make sure she was ready. When I arrived I found a groggy Tina being ordered to get ready by her mother.
It didn’t take long for Tina to finish getting ready. Tina’s mother left while I was helping Tina finish up, teachers needed to get to school earlier then students do. At least responsible teachers like Tina’s mother do, Krien was an exception.
We were running a little late when we finally left. We had to hurry up and heading to school at a quick pace. However all those fearful warning we were feeling we able to start coming to fruition. As we approached the school our path became blocked by a dark shadow. Inside the shadows was a form I remembered. Etern Void was staring at us through a cloud of darkness.
“Your crimes will not continue unpunished. Surrender now and I will show a proper amount of mercy.” Etern’s voice sounded as dark and dangerous as her eyes. I really didn’t want to know what her version of mercy would be. However I wanted to figure out as much as I could so I tried to play along with her story.
“What crimes, please tell me because I honestly don’t know what crimes you are talking about.” It seemed like a ligament question to ask her because I truly didn’t know what crimes she was accusing me of, after all I had been through so much that it could really have been anything.
She moved closer to me, her engulfing shadow moving along with her, “What crime? Don’t play dumb, your entire existence is a crime, without you none of this would ever have happened and everyone would have been happy.” Like that helped answer my questions.
“Thank you, your ambiguous answers have helped clarify nothing. Without you I might have actually learned something so thanks for preventing that, I wouldn’t want to actually know what is going on.” I couldn’t help but left the sarcasm drip out of my voice. It seemed that Etern wouldn’t be giving me any good information either.
Etern however seemed taken back, she probably wanted this to be a dramatic threatening scene where she would punish me for my crimes, whatever they were. Instead I wasn’t even budging. Maybe staring down Jamel had given me better nerves then I had before or maybe Tina’s hissing form reassured me. Despite her dark and menacing shadow Etern was not the scariest thing I had encountered.
“If your not going to tell me why you want to arrest me then I am going to school. After all it is against the law to arrest someone without charges, and I bet even with charges you wouldn’t be allowed to arrest me. However school is about to start so we had better go or we will be late.” I passed Etern and began walking down the street toward school when she spoke.
“Stop! No matter what you say I am stopping you right here and now.” She looked dark and resolute. The voice told me that I wouldn’t be able to convince Etern to back down and I would have to force it upon her. However I doubted I would able to stop her, the darkness surrounding her seemed a potent force which way beyond me or Tina. If only Arlen or Jamel were here then we might have to able to do something against her.
All I could do as she approached was back up slowly and plead with her to tell me the reason that she wanted to stop me so bad. I didn’t think that I could stand this girl down in the same way that I did Jamel, after all I didn’t understand why this girl was doing what she was doing so I didn’t know what to tell her to get her to stop.
“It’s about the tower isn’t it. You don’t want me to enter the tower.” That I could say safely, however I didn’t know what the reasons for wanting to stop me were, “However I currently have no reason to want to open the tower except to find out what is inside it. If you want to tell me what it is then I won’t open it ok.” My words seemed to fall on deaf ears.
I didn’t know what she would do to me if she managed to get a hold of me and I didn’t want to know. However just before she reached me Tina moved between us, “I won’t let you hurt Ema.” Etern raised her hand and wisps of darkness surrounded Tina and bound her arms and legs together. She collapsed to the ground while struggling to break free from the darkness.
“Stupid cat, you can’t stop me.” She kicked Tina once while she was on the ground. “You must be one of her lousy hands, what a sham. You don’t even have enough power to protect yourself, how can you possibly be able to protect her.” Etern had a dark grin on her face, she was enjoying picking on the defenseless Tina.
“Stop!’ I shouted at her, I was regaining my courage. “Don’t hurt her, after all I’m the one that you want aren’t I.” I waited for Etern’s attention to stop being focus on Tina before I continue, “However if you want to capture me then you will first have to capture me.” I turned and before Etern could even respond I began dashing away, glancing back only enough to ensure that Etern didn’t stay to bully Tina.
I had thought I would be able to escape her, I was always able to keep up with Tina and I hadn’t met many other people who were also able to do that. However as I ran down the streets and alleyways I could also see Etern when I looked over my shoulder. I was beginning to get tired when I finally realized something was very wrong, I should have reached school long ago, yet I though I still recognized the streets I was running down. It felt like I had been running in circles. My second realization was that I hadn’t seen anyone else since I had ran from Etern. It had been empty street after empty street.
I knew something unusual was happening, probably caused by Etern herself. Yet if I stopped running to try and figure it out then Etern was catch me. I knew though that I wouldn’t be able to keep up running forever and that if nothing changed then Etern would be able to catch me. Maybe I would be able to get Etern to collapse from tiredness before I did, but looking back at her made me abandon that idea. Etern didn’t seem to have a hint of tiredness in her face, not a single drop of sweat.
That was strange, not even Tina was that good at running. There must be some way that she was doing it. During my short glances back at her I tried to figure out what she was doing. Then it finally struck me, she didn’t have a shadow. Then everything clicked into place and I understood what was happening. I turned as quickly as I could as rushed at the shadowless Etern. Her form dissolved as soon as I touched it breaking into wavering bits of formless shadow. I dropped to my knees panting.
I wanted to desperately take a break but I didn’t know if I had time. I didn’t even know if not taking a break would make any difference. Where ever I was was somehow under the control of Etern and she was keeping me from escaping. I didn’t think I could run anymore or at least much longer, I had wasted all my energy running from an Etern that didn’t really exist. I guess I’m still very foolish.
I really didn’t think I would be able to escape from Etern here and if I tried I would probably only get tired which might be exactly what she wanted me to do. So instead I sat down in to take a breather and waited. I didn’t really have to wait very long.
Etern rounded a nearby corner and approached me. I wasn’t sure if this was really her or another shadow, however this one had a shadow so I assumed it was her. I gathered myself and stood up, I didn’t have anywhere to run so I had to face her. “What are you trying to gain by doing this?”
Etern stared at my with her black eyes, “You wouldn’t understand. Look at you, completely unchanged by the Great Change. You should count yourself lucky that you got to live the past five years in peace.” She held her gaze, I could make out nothing from her pitch black eyes.
A smile edged my mouth, I was finally beginning to understand Etern and with that I had some ammunition to use against her. “I see, so you are a monster.” Etern’s eyes narrowed as I spoke, I could tell that I was on track. She was like Jamel in a way, both beyond what most people began during the Great Change. However unlike Jamel whose friends and family pretended that she wasn’t a monster, Etern was probably ostracized because of it.
“Your hiding yourself aren’t you. That form, it isn’t who you really are, is it?” I reached into my pocket and grabbed onto the Destiny Clock to give myself bravery. “Show me who you really are.” Her nervous reaction told me that I was hitting the nail on the head.
Etern attempted to scoff my comments, “I don’t need to show you who I really am to stop you. I could take out your friend as I am now, even you can’t stop me.”
I laughed at her, “You don’t understand. Because you aren’t yourself I will be able to escape. It means that you don’t have the resolve to stop me, how can someone who is afraid of themselves do anything.” I pulled the Destiny Clock out of my pocket and held onto it from the chain. “You see this clock says I have a destiny. However I believe that destiny can be changed, but it can’t be changed by someone who isn’t willing to go through with what it will entail. Right now it is impossible for you to change Destiny.”
“A bluff, that is all.” Responded Etern but I could hear a quiver in her voice. She could see my resolve and was beginning to believe me. Was I right, I don’t know but I was willing to bet on my hypothesis and that gave me the resolve I needed to face Etern down. Would my resolve be strong enough to face her, I was going to find that out.
“Then let us see if my destiny can cut through your resolve.” I began spinning the Destiny Clock around in a circle. I had doubts about its usefulness as a weapon but enough had happened recently that I was willing to place my trust in it.
Etern tried to look confident and motioned at me. Shadows tendrils reached out from her toward me to capture me in the same way that she did to Tina. I swung the Destiny Clock at the tendrils and it sliced through them like... well shadows. The bits of shadows cuts by the Destiny Clock fell to the ground and dissipated. It seemed my belief in the clock had been right, it could be used to stop Etern.
Etern frowned looking worried and upset. She motioned again and the remaining shadows shot toward me. The swung the clock in the circle making it look like a shield. When the shadows rushed into the path of the chain they dissolved as if they weren’t even there. I began walking closer to Etern while I continued to swing the clock. “See, your resolve can’t break through my Destiny. Now if you want to do what you set out to do then show me your resolve, show me your true self.”
“NOOO!” Etern shouted. She seemed to be disturbed. She raised both hands and before I could react two clusters of shadows were shooting at me from different directions. I tried to stop both of them, I whipped the clock around and sliced one group but by the time that had happened the second hand gotten to me and wrapped around my hands. The Destiny Clock spun uselessly as the shadows grabbed at me and pulled me to the ground.
Etern stood over me, her worry dissipating as she watched me bound and helpless. “Ha, Destiny! Your precious destiny was beaten by me without me ever having to change. It seems that you were wrong after all.” As she stood over me and gloated I saw something down the street behind her that cause me to smile.
“Is that so? Just because you bound me you think that you have beaten me.” With my hands I pulled the Destiny Clock closer and clicked open the top. With the watch open the clicking of the seven hands on the clock could be heard. “There is no black hand on this clock,” I paused for a second, “But this isn’t the only Destiny Clock is it? There is a second one though isn’t there, that is the clock that has the Black Hand on it.” I could remember seeing a black hand on picture at Mink’s house, the one of the Seven Handed clock which wasn’t mine. “That is why you are trying to fight against your Destiny... but you still don’t have enough resolve to change it.”
I could tell that my words were hitting the mark. Etern who had regained her composure then she had captured me was now shaking in anger. “What do you know! You are just a pawn of Fate too! What could you possibly know about changing Destiny.” Etern shouted at me as she stood over me. There seemed to be miniscule black lines covering her skin.
“That’s right” I looked up at Etern, “Show me who you are, show my why you are willing to do this.” Etern saw the black lines on her hand and stepped back aghast. I saw the lines vanish as she tried to gain control of herself.
“Enough, I won’t listen to your lies any more. You are coming with me.” She raised her hand and darkness materialize in the form of what looked like a weapon. “It would be better if you came while asleep, I don’t want to listen to you anymore.” She raised her hand about to strike me.
All I did was smile. Since I had seen something on the street behind her all I had been doing was delaying her and it had pain off. When Etern was about to bring her hand down it was stopped by another hand grabbing her wrist.
“YOU WILL NOT HURT HER.” Came a familiar icy cold voice. This time however I wasn’t the target of the voice. Behind Etern was the person I had seen down the street. Jamel was there, taller then usual. Her clawed hand was wrapped about Etern’s wrist. Jamel indeed looked like the monster she was. Her legs were criss-crossed with slits as her spiderweb like legs were beginning to breaking apart. Her hair was beginning to look frosty and her smile was giving me chills. She seemed much scarier then when she had been in the depths of the castle, maybe because now her reason was more then just wanting to be free.
The Destiny Clock ticked loudly as I spoke, “It looks like Destiny has saved me, what are you going to do about it now Etern. Your not the only monster here now.”
Etern struggled against Jamel’s grip for a few seconds. While Jamel’s rubbery arms didn’t look very strong there was little Etern could do to break free from them. Using her grip Jamel drew back and seemed to effortlessly throw Etern across the street and into the wall of one of houses nearby.
Etern staggered to her feet. The cracks had once again appeared on her skin. Her hands seemed to try and wipe them off her skin. She looked back at me and Jamel, “Don’t think you have won just because your friend showed up. Next time I will get you and I will deny Destiny.” She turned and ran down the street. As she left the shadows binding me vanished.
Jamel reached out a hand to help me up, she was shrinking before my eyes. “Are you alright Ema.” Her voice and returned to her normal fluid voice and her hair seemed to be thawing.
“Yes, thank you.” I grabbed her hand and used it to help pull myself up. “We need to go find Tina. She was hurt by that girl too.” I tried to remember where Tina hand gotten hurt.
Jamel grabbed my hand as I attempted to rush away. “It’s Ok Ema. Tina was alright, she managed to get to school and when you weren’t there began to make a ruckus. Tina only agreed to go to the nurse’s office when I offered to go find you.” I sighed in relief. It seemed that everything had worked out well. Tina was alright and I had managed to escape from Etern, at least for now.
“Thanks Jamel, you saved me. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t seen you there.” Even I knew that I had done a lot of posturing when I was dealing with Etern. I had pretended I knew what I was doing and it turned out to be correct. Maybe this is just how Destiny worked but it could be a very powerful thing. I shut the Destiny Clock and put it back in my pocket. Before today I would have never expected to use it as a weapon to fend off a foe and I was pleasantly surprised to find out how good it actually worked for that.
“Lets get to school then shall we Jamel. Tina is probably worried and the teachers will probably be annoyed that I’m late and you skipped out to find me.”
“It will be fine, Krien said she would try and explain everything and that we shouldn’t get in trouble. After all it wasn’t your fault that you are late for school.” I walked with Jamel back toward school. Whatever Etern had used to cause me to become lost and alone seemed to have disappeared. It wasn’t very far from school and we began seeing more people almost instantly.
We reached school in only a couple of minutes and were greeting by an ecstatic Tina who was very glad to see that everything was alright with me. It took me a while to extract myself from Tina’s grip and then get my way to class. As I entered class I saw Etern already seated in the chair behind mine. Had she somehow managed to fool everyone into thinking that she had been here all of the time.
I took my seat in front of her and when class began again I leaned back and whispered to her. “You know your mask doesn’t suit you, I’m sure your real form would look far better. Beauty never exists despite something, it only exists because of something. I find masks to be quite ugly myself.” I could hear Etern’s nails scratch at the desk.
“Next time, next time.” I could hear her whispering to herself. I wasn’t as worried as I had been earlier. I had a potent weapon in the work of the Destiny Clock which could be used against her and friends that would come to my assistance if something went wrong.
However today was turning out to be exciting, in the morning I dealt with Etern and after school I was planning to pay a visit to the Tower of Nothing to hopefully discover something about why everything was happening.
Tina and Jamel Corner
Hi, It’s me Tina again. How has everyone been doing since I last spoke with you. I hope you have all been doing well because I have. The story is getting interesting right? I can’t believe that I was beaten by that shadow girl so easily. I plan on training more by playing some sports so that next time she won’t be able to do that again. Next time it will be BANG WHACK with Tina as the winner, then I will be able to gloat at her. However this time is was Jamel who saved the day and brought peace to the world so lets get a word from her.
Hello Readers, This is the monster Jamel writing. As much as Tina might like the attention I think having my story read is sort of embarrassing. While I was able to save Ema from Etern this time it was largely due to Tina’s warning. Because of that I was able to find Ema and rescue her. I will say that however getting through Etern’s strange barrier was not all my doing. I believe that Ema was the one able to lead me into the barrier. When following Tina’s directions I starting hearing a ticking sound. I decided to follow it and it lead me down many empty streets before I finally found Ema bound on the ground next to Etern. The rest of what happened you should already know.
Yes, yes, yes Jamel, enough about that. We wouldn’t want to bore the readers with too much detail, I’m sure they want to get back to the main story soon, or at least hear more about me. However there is still one question that needs to be answering. After Ema had finished telling her story to Quell and Mink, Jamel got a chance to explain her side of the story. However, what the was is never explained. Jamel, how about you take some time now to explain your side of the story.
Um, alright. First I’ll say that I am fifteen, one year younger then everybody else. I was ten when the Great Change happened. Back then I didn’t really have control over my size or how much monstrosity I showed. I lived in a small town then with my dad an my brother. Many people changed but I was the least accepted, maybe I was just a scapegoat for everything that happened. I remember people who no longer looked human throwing rocks at me and calling me a monster.
My dad protected me and stood up for me but eventually it became to much. My dad decided to try and move to the new world as a way of protecting me. After he left our town he managed to gather a bunch of people who all no longer found the old world to be our home. Together we managed to find our way to the New World and begin a new life there.
For a while I was happy. With my dad and brother there I though I had found peace. The rest of the people in the town treated me with more kindness then those in the town we left. However as the years past I got increasing discontent. When I spoke with the townsfolk they were nice to me and the always tried to treat me like a human... That was the problem, they treated me as a human denying and pretending I wasn’t what I was. However every-time I looked into a mirror I could see my inhuman features and knew that none of us were human anymore.
It all got a lot worse when my dad died. The townsfolk offered to take care of me, they said that it didn’t matter what I looked like or who I was. But I wanted it to matter, I wanted them to care about me because of who I was, what I was. It was worse when my brother did the same behavior. I tried showing more of my monstrous self but they just told me that I should return to normal... normal, I am not normal so how I could return to it.
I finally cracked when my brother set off on a journey to find a ‘cure’ for my ‘problem’. It left like he had completely abandoned me. When I tried to get the village to accept me they too denied to real me... I guess I overreacted and forced them out of the village at that point. I felt that it would be better to be alone then to be with people who didn’t understand me or worse deliberately misunderstood me because they thoughts that was the right thing to do.
Lucky for me that all changed when I met Ema. She was scared when she first met me, but even that was refreshing. Someone who saw me as a monster, was afraid of me, and would admit that fear was something I hadn’t experienced in a long time. It made me feel... like I was real. I still never expected that Ema would later come to me and offer to be my friend and that the monstrous part of me was part of what she wanted to make friends with.
I suppose the rest you know already, Ema already told that story. I could tell you minor details but those aren’t really important. I hope you enjoyed reading my part of the story, or at least I hope it wasn’t too boring.
And Thank You Jamel. This is Tina again. I hope you have learned something today from our lovely and monstrous Jamel. Now you get to returned to your regularly scheduled broadcast... I mean story. Tune in next time for the next episode of “Tina and Jamel Corner”!
Chapter 10: Self Reflection
When class was over I gathered my friends together. Tina was easy because we were in the same class. Mink was also easy because she was in our class to. Luckily she was feeling better today, or at least pretended she was, so she had come to school. Because of that I was able to eat lunch with her today, something I hadn’t done in a long time.
Once I had gotten Tina and Mink the next stop was Jamel’s classroom. Jamel seemed to have acquired a couple of followers who seemed to have been quite taken with the idea of her being a monster and now gave her load introductions whenever she entered a room, something about the “Great and Dangerous Monster Jamel”. I couldn’t help from giggling the first time I heard it.
Once I had extracted Jamel from her devoted monster fans we stopped by the library for Quell. He seemed to be totally engaged in his current booked and I almost had to shake him out of it. It seemed to have slipped his mind that we were going to visit the dark tower today. Seriously, sometimes I wondered how someone who looked like like a human book could be so air-headed.
Finally together we all headed out, whatever dark secrets we would find at the tower we would find together. At least with everyone with me I didn’t think Etern would try to attack me again.
From what I could tell the tower was quite a ways a way on foot so we decided to take the bus to save on time. Even so it took us around half and hour in the bus before the tower began to get really close, because of it’s size it had looked closer then it really was. I had initially assumed that the tower was inside the city, but it turned out to be farther way then I had though. Instead of inside the city it was maybe a mile outside the city. We had to get off the bus and walk the last mile.
As we got nearer we saw a sign, it said, ‘Garian Memorial Park’. I squinted at the sign to make sure that I had read it correctly. Was the Tower of Nothing really in a park near the suburbs at the edge of town. It seemed... well anticlimactic. I was expecting something a little more dreadful, like maybe a graveyard or something.
“Ema look, the sign says the park was founded five years ago. It says that it was made in October, so it was made not very long after the Great Change.” I knelt down beside the sign and looked at the label. Tina was right, the park was created just after the Great Change. I couldn’t help but wonder what was here before this park was built, I couldn’t help but think that it was built to hide something.
The park was almost completely empty, which was good because I had a feeling something weird was going to happen at it was probably better for nobody to witness it. It was just a little ways left until the Tower of Nothing so we headed through the trees in the park. It wasn’t very long before we finally escaped the trees and saw it. It rose deadly high into the sky, black as night, the Tower of Nothing.
In front of us was a large pool of water, actually it would be more accurate to call it a lake. The lake was quite large and in the center of it emerged the Tower of Nothing. Seeing it there, I couldn’t help but compare it to the invisible tower I had seen in the New World. The hole it had been rising out of was about the same size as this lake and other then the colors the towers were very similar, I didn’t even bother thinking this was a coincidence.
“So that is the Tower of Nothing.” Said Mink in a bit of awe. I would agree that it was very impressive but that was partially because it was too large to have ever been built by human hands. If fact I doubted it would have been able to stand on its own if a human had built it, it probably used some strange magic to stand without toppling over.
“I must admit, it looks a lot bigger in person, sort of make you feel insignificant.” This time it was Quell that spoke. He was staring thoughtfully at the tower. “However truthfully I was expecting more to happen when we arrived here. I supposed there is still time for something to happen.”
“You’re right,” I responded, “There is still time for something to happen so we should still keep our guard up, who knows what might happen.” Together be began moving closer to the edge of the lake and closer to the tower. It wasn’t long before we stood at the bank of the lake.
“Umm, Ema, look at the lake, the reflection of the tower isn’t the same as the tower. It isn’t as dark, and it looks safer.” I followed Jamel’s pointing finger and looked down into the lake. She was right and the tower that was reflected was one I remembered very well.
“That is the tower I saw in the New World, the one that was invisible and floating above a giant hole in the ground.” I guess it was right to think that these two towers were connected. Yet, why they were connected I didn’t know yet.
“So that is what the formerly invisible tower looks like,” Tina leaned out over the lake and stared intensely at the tower. “This lake, it is almost the same size as that hole we saw isn’t it.” It seemed that Tina had noticed that fact too.
“Yes, it does.” I began walking around the rim of the lake, “And if this tower is similar to the the one I saw there then there might be a bridge to the tower somewhere around here.”
Everybody followed me around the lake but it was in vain. We had completed an entire revolution around the lake and there was no bridge. I guess that must have been too easy. Bix had said that only I had the keys to opening the Tower of Nothing. However I hadn’t fulfilled the objective that Zero has set forward, that is to find all seven of the Hands. I looked at my group, I had the Red, White, and Orange hands with me and I knew that the Silver hand was Arlan. That still left three hands that I hadn’t found yet.
I also didn’t know what role Quell played. Bix had told me that anyone who could see the tower would be important to Destiny but I didn’t know what role Quell played. There wasn’t a hand on the Destiny Clock that reminded me of him and that would contradict what Zero had told me, that I had met four of the seven hands and I already counted four.
“We are here... now what should we do.” I commented aimlessly. I tried consulting with everyone else but after several minutes of discussion I still didn’t have a better idea about what to do. I sighed a little, was this how it worked, when I finally tried to find out some of the answers by myself I didn’t find anything. It was a little depressing to think about.
Eventually I pulled out the Destiny Clock from my pocket and opened it. If personal effort didn’t pay off in the way I wanted then I would ask fate for some assistance in finding what I desired. Destiny probably would like wasted time after I had bothered to come all the way out here, or at least that is what I hoped.
The hands of the Destiny Clock ticked softly. I stared down at the watch. The Red, White, Orange, and Silver hands still ticked away like they had always done. However I noticed something strange with the fifth hand. That hand was Green, similar to the Red hand it too was carved, however it looked like leaves and trees instead of the roses carved on the Red Hand. The green hand was moving back and forth instead of spinning around. It didn’t seem to be completing a single arc, just as it almost did it turned around and began moving the other direction. Had that hand always been like that or was it a recent development, I didn’t really know.
“Look at this.” I pointed down at the watch, “Doesn’t that look strange.” Everyone gathered around me and looked at the watch with me. “What do you suppose it means, do you think whoever that is is lost or something.”
“Does it always point toward the same cardinal direction or is it relative to the clock?” It was Quell that asked the question, and probably a good thing to I might have never thought to check that.
“I don’t know... let me check.” I leveled the clock and then slowly turned it in a circle. Sure enough the hand continued to point in more or less the same direction no matter which way I held the clock. “Strange, I wonder why the other hands aren’t doing that.” I didn’t recall the other hands ever moving like this one, I really had a lot to learn about how to use the Destiny Clock.
I checked which way the clock was pointing. It seemed to be pointing past the Tower of Nothing and further away from town and into the wilderness, maybe it was proximity to the tower that had cause the watch to start behaving like this. “What does everyone say, do you want to check it out?”
I got a round of nods from everyone, we had all come out here for a reason so we might as well continue seeing it through. We began moving away from the tower and the town and into the forest. I asked Tina to try and remember our path for when we wanted to go back.
We had been walking for maybe fifteen minutes when I noticed a change on the clock. The hand was moving back and forth more erratically as if getting closer made it harder to pinpoint the position. The second thing I noticed was the background of the clock seemed to be changing... It looked like the background was spinning. I was going to point this out but everything seemed to be slowing down. I could feel my consciousness slipping I felt almost sleepy.
When I regain consciousness I was laying in a field of flowers. I sat up and shook my head, where was I. Where was Tina, Jamel, Mink, and Quell. I was about look for them when I head a different voice.
“I see your awake. Are you doing alright.” I looked to see a girl knelling next to me offering a hand. I took it and she helped pull me up. The girl was taller then me but she couldn’t be much older then me. Her hair was a light brown, like mine but hers was longer. Mine only reached to around my shoulder-blades but hers went a fair ways down her back. Her eyes were a light clear blue while mine were a darker shade of green. However as I stared at her I realized that she looked completely human, just like me. Of course Krien looked human too so this girl might be a Gifted too.
“Thank you.” I managed to say when I stood up. The meadow was quite large, it just seemed to stretch on and on, maybe it didn’t have an end. Wherever I was it wasn’t near where my friends were. I felt the weight of the Destiny Clock in my hand and quickly slipped it into my pocket, it didn’t look like this other girl had noticed it yet but I felt it would be better to hide it. “Do you know where we are?”
The other girl shook her head, “No, I was going to ask you the same thing but it seems that you don’t know either. Last thing I remember was hanging out with my friends and then I seemed to have fallen unconscious and when I woke up I was here and you were sleeping right next to me.”
“I see, that was about what happened to me too.” I tried to examine the other girl seeing what I could figure out about her and it looked like she was trying to do the same with me. Was this the Green Hand, somehow I didn’t really think so. This girl didn’t give the same feel to me as the green hand did.
I didn’t really want to continue to be rude so I offered my hand to the unknown girl and said, “My name is Ema, I wish I could have met you in more a usual situation but it is nice to meet you.” She reached out her hand too and shook mine.
“It is a pleasure to meet you Ema. My name is Dawn. While it might be an unusual situation I somehow doubt we would have meet in a usual situation.” As I shook Dawn’s hand I got a strange feeling. It was like a heavy weight had dropped onto my shoulders, it felt very foreboding.
It looked out over the endless seeming meadow, scanning it for anything that might be be a sign as for what to do. “I didn’t notice anything when I looked, but maybe you will have better luck.” Said Dawn from next to me. “I didn’t really want to wander around aimlessly looking for something, at least not until you woke up.” Dawn giggled slightly, “You looked like Sleeping Beauty when you were laying there, like you were waiting for your prince to come. I was almost sad when you woke up on your own.”
“Well, if I’m Sleeping Beauty then maybe you would be Cinderella,” I retorted, “You must wait pining endlessly, waiting for your fairy godmother to come and bring you a pumpkin carriage. Just remember to leave the ball by midnight.” We both laughed lightly, releasing some of our stress at being lost in a strange place with only each other for company.
“Since you are awake now, do you want to go searching for anything. I would probably be better then waiting around here.” Dawn suggested. I didn’t have any better plans and would probably have suggested something like that too so I agreed and we began walking aimlessly.
After a minute I spoke up, “Do you think this is just a dream and that we will just wake up to find our friends worried about us?” I didn’t really believe what I was saying but I wanted to find something to talk about.
Dawn put her hands in her skirt pocket and after a second’s though responded, “Assuming that was true and the two of us are sharing this dream then how is that any different then the waking world. Even that world might be nothing more then the shared dream of everyone in it. I think that even if that was true it wouldn’t be any less real because everybody is still experiencing it. That is real enough for me.” It sounded like a response that she had previously given some thought too. It sounded a lot like the argument that Mink had made at her house.
“I suppose you are right. Even if the world we came from was the dream that won’t make it any less real to me. I guess that reality is what you make of it.” The watch in my pocket reassured me that the world I had come from was actually real.
We continued to walk for a long ways in silence. I wasn’t sure how long it was we walked, it was hard to keep track of time in this place. The sun in the sky didn’t seem to move at all and there were no clouds in the sky. We could have been here an eternity and I probably wouldn’t have noticed the difference.
Eventually I stopped and turned toward Dawn. I stared deep into her eyes. I had been thinking for a while as we walked and I had finally come to a conclusion about her. “Your her aren’t you?” I asked, “You’re the girl in the mirror.” I remembered the picture of mine that Mink had shown me at her house. It was the picture of someone staring into a mirror and I was the one who was being reflected.
I reached down into my pocket and pulled out the Destiny Clock. I held it in my hand so that she could see it. “You have one of these too.” It wasn’t a question, I had already figured that out by myself.
Dawn nodded slowly and pulled what appeared to be an exact replica of my Destiny Clock out of her pocket. “Yes, I am. I wasn’t going to mention it but it is probably better this way.” When she slipped her clock back into her pocket I did the same. I turned and began walking again, Dawn followed me and we continued our seemingly endless walk.
“What is supposed to happen now?” I asked, “Are we supposed to fight or something. I don’t really want to be enemies but to be honest I don’t really understand everything that has been happening to me.” I hoped that Dawn would somehow have more answers then I did and might help me understand what has been happening.
“Us and our Hands are destined to come into conflict. Already my hands are going into motion to stop you from bringing about the second great change. However my hands are tied strongly by the chains of fate, I can’t stop you.” She sounded slightly sad or maybe resined.
“What do you mean, do you know why the world changed and what is going to happen in the future?” I asked. Now that I could have some of my questions answered I was begin to become afraid of what those answers might be.
“I don’t know everything about why the world changed. There are probably only a couple of people who actually do and probably the only one who completely understands it is Bix.” Replied Dawn. I wasn’t suprised that she knew Bix but I wanted to know how she knew him. “I do know that when the Great Change happened that Bix placed the fate of the world in our hands, maybe because we are young and he probably trusted the two of us the most.”
“I can understand why Bix choose me, he is my Godfather after all but why did Bix choose you.”
“Bix isn’t my Godfather, he has my actual father.” I was shocked to hear that. Dawn was Bix’s daughter. That made everything make sense even if there was the question of why I had never heard of her. However I didn’t know that much about Bix so it just could have never been mentioned.
Dawn continued speaking, “I can tell that you have already met Zero, well I did too probably several years before you did. She told me my entire destiny, all that the future would hold for me.”
“Then you know what is going to happen and what my Destiny is. Tell me why am I the Scion of Truth, Anchor of Freedom, Destiny of Destiny, and all that. What does all of that mean.” I could feel all the questions spill out of me all at once. Now that I had someone who knew the answers I wanted to learn everything.
However Dawn only shook her head, “I can’t tell you. You might think it is cruel but the chains of destiny that bind me are wound tighter then you imagine. If I told you then everything would change. My tragic fate entails that I cannot tell you much of what you wish to know.”
“Why not, can’t the future be changed. Aren’t I right that a strong enough resolve can break free from destiny and bring about a different future.”
“I don’t know. The future might indeed be able to change but destiny is indeed cruel. I willing go down the dark path of destiny because that path is the lightest of all the paths that I can see. Any other route would lead us into certain destruction. And that makes it all the more important that I can’t tell you because your knowledge of the future would invariably change it.”
We continued to walk for a time. How could I respond to such a doomed acceptance. Should I tell her she was wrong and that she should struggle for a brighter path, but what if I was wrong. Maybe the path destiny had chosen for her was the best path, how would I know if it wasn’t.
“I’m sorry if I’m only making it more confusing for you.” Dawn broke the silence. “I know you probably just have questions but no answers. If there was another way then I would suggest it.”
“I suppose I can understand.” I replied. “However is there anything you can tell me? Maybe you can tell me what I should do next.”
“I can tell you that you need to gather all seven of your hands, only then will you be able to enter the Tower of Nothing. That is where we will have our final confrontation. I’m sorry it had to be this way, in a different world maybe we could have been friends. As it is my hands will do almost anything to try and stop you and you won’t even know why.” Dawn looked up at the sky, “I’ve not even telling them the whole truth.” She looked at me and smiled faintly, “Maybe when our destinies are over we can try and be friends again.”
Something about that sad smile made me feel that we would never get the chance. Whatever her sad fate was I didn’t like it. But how could I change something for the better when I didn’t even know what it was I wanted to stop. I couldn’t really say anything that I thought would be good so instead I walked in silence.
Eventually Dawn spoke again, “I wonder how long this meadow is going to go on for. I can imagine that one of the purposes of bringing us here was for the two of us to meet. Since we are both here I imagine that there is some other reason.”
Regaining myself I looked around, I couldn’t tell how far we had traveled but it was probably a long ways. However, despite how far we have traveled almost everything looked exactly the same. “It times like this isn’t is best to consult with our Destiny.” I pulled out the Destiny Clock out of my pocket and flipped it open. Everything was the same as last time I looked at it, including the Green Hand which was still wasn’t spinning correctly. It did the same experiment that Quell had suggested and here too the Clock pointed in a specific direction.
“I see. So that is the way we need to go.” Dawn was looking over my shoulder at my Destiny Clock. “It seems that this place it where you will find another one of your Hands.” She stared down at the watch for a few seconds before continuing, “This one with be your fifth. Only too more after this...”
“You can tell that by looking at the clock?” I asked as we began to walk in the direction that the Green hand was pointing in.
“Three of your hands were more erratic then the other four, that is a sign that you haven’t met them yet. Once you have met them your connection with them stabilizes and that makes the Hand’s movement less erratic.” Explained Dawn. That made sense, at least as much as anything else I knew about the clock.
“Does that mean that you have found all seven of your hands.” I asked, “Etern is one of them. She has already tried to attack me.” It was hard to tell her that, if Etern was one of her hands then she must been friends with her.
“Yes, Etern Void is the Black Hand. However when she discovered what I had been hiding from her she left. She is determined to change my destiny, all by herself if she needs to, yet she too is uncertain as to whether that is the correct course of action or not. I was surprised when she suddenly transfered to your school, I guess that is her way of showing her resolve. She is the type who has trouble showing her feelings, she can only seem to show me her friendship in ways she regrets later. However that is just her own uncertainty showing, I can understand her meaning well enough.” Dawn showed me a lonely smile.
“What does she looked like beneath her mask?”
Dawn cocked her head a little and her smile grew, “She is much more truthful, I always thought that her real looks are much more beautiful then those she tries to hide behind. However I’m one of the few that think so, so she keeps it hidden from everyone else, which makes it hard for her to get along with other people.”
I too smiled, Etern was indeed a lot like Jamel. Yet they both thought very different about who they were. Jamel wanted people to accept her because of what she was while Etern wanted people to accept her despite what she was. While I subscribed to Jamel’s ideals I could understand why Etern would believe like she did.
“At least Etern has someone like you at her side.” I responded. “It would be worse for her if you didn’t believe in her.”
“Thanks, but she feels, rightly, upset that I had been hiding things from her. For the longest time I couldn’t tell her just like I can’t tell you. The chains of destiny are too strong for me.”
“Dawn, it is all right if you can’t tell me. I will do what I think is the best for me, you, and everyone else.” I tried to look as confidant as I could, but I will admit that I could have looked the part of a savior better.
Dawn nodded, “Thank you, that is more then I can ask. I wish I could tell you more I really do, but...” Dawn looked off into the distance. “No, just Thank You, I hope everything you desire will come to pass.”
I could really tell that Dawn wanted to say something to me but couldn’t. She looked like she knew if my boasting was true or not but couldn’t tell me. I was impossible for me to completely understand why because I didn’t know what see knew. Instead I just walked with her. I could do that at least.
Chapter 11: Garian Laboratory
Me and Dawn had stopped walking. It had seemed like we had been walking for hours, though exactly how like it had been I didn’t know. There had been an uncomfortable silence growing between us. It was the unspoken secret that Dawn was keeping from me. Whatever her destiny was it seemed to be driving us apart.
Now we had come to a stop and were raising our heads. “It looks like we are where you are supposed to go.” Dawn was looking at the same thing that I was. The meadow still stretched on in all directions around us for as we could see but right in front of us was an enormous tree.
I checked with the Destiny Clock and sure enough, this tree was where the Green hand was pointing. I even tried walking around the tree but the hand still pointed unerringly at the tree. “But... This is just a tree, isn’t it.” I asked nobody in particular. Maybe the universe thought it would be a great cosmic joke to make a tree one of my hands, yah that would be funny.
“Well, it does look like one, but Appearances can be deceiving. I think more unusual is that this tree is the only different thing in this entire meadow. The tree must be more then it seems.” Dawn was giving me the advice that I was already thinking but it was good to have my logic confirmed by another person.
“It is still sort of surprising that one of my hands is a tree, or at least looks like one.” I got closer to the tree and looked up into it’s branches. It was a big tree maybe an Oak, but I wasn’t very good with tree types so I could have been wrong. The branches seemed unusually still but I still thought I heard a rustling sound.
Eventually I reached out and placed my hand on the rough bark of the tree. The tree was warm, much warmer then a tree should be. As I held my hand on the trunk of the tree I felt a strange feeling come over me.
You are here, I have been waiting.
Those thoughts rose out of my mind. It was like I could feel the thoughts of this tree and it was speaking to me through them. “You’ve been waiting... why?” Why was this tree waiting for me in this dreamlike like land.
There was a rustle of leaves an branches almost like the tree was laughing. ‘I guess you are too young to remember.’ The thoughts rose from my mind one again, ‘Come around the side and look at my trunk.’ I followed the tree’s directions and walked around the side of the tree and looked. There seemed to be something scratched into the bark of the tree.
Scratched there is faintly squiggly letters was written, ‘Ema’s Tree’. I rubbed my fingers over the scratches before saying, “This, when did I write this.”
‘It was many seasons ago, I think it was five winters ago. You came and played in my branches. You came here off an on for half a moon before finally giving me your autograph and then leaving.’
I looked at the scribble on the bark, “This is an autograph... Don’t have have too be like famous or something to give autographs. Besides can you give trees autographs? Are you even a tree.”
‘Trees don’t normally think do they. However I used to be just a normal tree until only a few moons after you felt. That is why I feel you are famous, because of you everything changed the way it did and I became like I am now. That is why I call it an autograph. I’m proud of it but I always feel that the grass is jealous of me.’
“What, can the grass think too? And that do you know about my part in the Great Change, I don’t even know how much I’m involved in it.” It was getting progressively weird talking to a tree and getting answers back from it.
‘Oh Dear No, grass doesn’t think, that would be very strange indeed’ I tried giving the talking tree a level stare, it was the last thing to talk about being strange. ‘It was a joke, I thought humans like them. Hmm, I thought about that one for so long too, I guess I just don’t understand human humor very well.’ There was a pause in the thoughts, ‘You wanted to know how I knew you are involved, I have been here thinking for a long time and I have heard a lot of things while waiting. Given that much time it wasn’t hard to me to figure things out. It wasn’t like I have a lot of other things to do.’
Great, not only was I talking with a tree, I was talking with a tree that thought it has a sense of humor. I turned to Dawn and asked her, “I don’t suppose you’re hearing any of this, it would make me feel a whole lot saner.”
“No, but that is mainly because it isn’t using sound to communicate. However if you are asking if I can make-out what it is trying to tell you then yes, however I don’t think that it is as clear for me as it is for you. I am really struggling to make out what it is trying to say.”
‘Oh, so the other one can hear me too. She must be the other one like you.’ The tree seemed to creak in thought. ‘That must be why she was able to come here with you, I thought it was unusual for there to be someone else here.’
“Since you seem to know, where are we. We both remember falling unconscious and then waking up here, however we have no idea where here is.”
‘That is easy to answer. I can’t tell you exactly where this place is because I don’t know. However I first came here no long after I awakened. They were going to demolish the lab and I was in the way so they would have had to chop me down. I didn’t like that idea so I escaped to here. Then I have been waiting here all these years. Recently I felt your presence nearby so I called out to you and brought you here. I must have accidentally brought the other one here too.’
That explanation wasn’t very helpful. An immovable tree somehow managed to escape to here before it got cut down and also somehow managed to bring me and Dawn here when it felt me... “Wait, Lab? What lab are you talking about?” That little fact had almost slipped past me but now that I had noticed it I was sure it was important.
‘You don’t remember? I used to grow near Garian Laboratory, wasn’t the reason you came to visit me the fact that you were at Garian Laboratory for some human reason. If you don’t remember Garian Laboratory then...’ The tree stopped and then remained silent. I looked at it questioningly, I remembered that Garian Memorial Park was the name of the park that the Tower of Nothing had been in. If there used to be a Garian Laboratory then it must have been destroyed to make way for Garian Memorial Park around five years ago. The fact that the Tower of Nothing now stood nearby where the Garian Laboratory once stood did not escape my notice. Eventually the tree continued, ‘It would be better if you remember for yourself. My explaination wouldn’t be adequate.’
I looked over my shoulder and Dawn and asked her, “Do you know about Garian Laboratory?” Dawn only nodded slightly and then turned her head away from mine. I guess it was just another thing that she couldn’t tell me. However that confirmed my suspicions that it was related to the Tower of Nothing and own Destiny.
“So Tree, since you have now found me and brought me here what are you planning to do now. I hope you have some way of sending me back from where you brought me because I can’t really say here forever.” There as also the question that if this tree as the Green Hand then how would I bring it back with me... or be at all useful. Maybe I could use the Tree as a spy, nobody would suspect it.
‘No need to call me Tree, you can call me Lobatae. Now you don’t need to worry about getting back, now that you are here I can easily bring you back from I brought you. However it would be inconvenient to come with you as I now am. To do that I need you to bring out that watch I saw you carrying and place it on my trunk.’
I started to grumble about how it was impossible for Lobatae to see because it didn’t have any eyes but decided it wasn’t worth it to argue with a tree. I drew the Destiny Clock out of my pocket and gently placed it on the trunk of the tree. “Like this?”
Light began to glow around the watch and my hand and began to envelop the entire tree. Soon the entire tree was glowing a soft white color. Then I could see the upper branches beginning to retreat, pulling back into the trunk. The entire tree began to shrink, getting smaller and smaller. Once the form was about the same size as me it stopped shrinking and the roots began to pull themselves out of the ground. Two of the remaining branches began lowering and taking the form of arms. The roots began wrapping together into feet.
When the glow finally began to fade I was finally able to see what Lobatae had become. Lobatae was now just a little bit taller then me and now in the form of a young man. His hair was green and looked a lot like leaves. He seemed to wearing clothes that had the same reddish brown cloth that his bark had. His skin was very similar but was a slightly lighter color. His eyes were also a leaf-green and hands were tinted slightly green too.
Dawn let out a little twitter of laughter, “Wow, that was quite cool, I usually try to avoid large changes like that. On the plus side he is like your own personal frog prince Ema.” I shot her an annoyed glare which just made her giggle a bit more. I decided that Dawn acted a lot like the older sister I never had.
Lobatae however teetered a little bit trying to stabilize but eventually collapsed onto the ground. He opened his mouth to speak and no sound came out. His face formed some weird expression and his arms move in some strange ways before he eventually managed to touch me, his thoughts began to come to the surface of my mind again, ‘This is a lot harder then it looks. I don’t know how you human manage.’ This time I joined Dawn in her giggling. Somehow seeing the mighty tree being unable to walk or speak was very amusing.
“So why is it that you look like such a young person when you were such a big and imposing tree.” I asked. Even if Lobatae only pretended to understand humor didn’t make his current humorous situation any less funny, perhaps is was funnier because he didn’t really understand why he was funny.
He spoke again in my mind because he still seemed unable to use his voice,’But I am young. Trees tends to live longer then humans so when that age is converted into human time I would look fairly young.’ That made sense, it was like the opposite of converting years to cat years, which was something like seven cat years per human year. Tina always hated it when I made jokes about her age in cat years.
“It looks like you two are getting along fairly well, I’m glad.” Dawn was smiling at us however the smile looked different then most of her others. It was the smile of someone saying goodbye forever to somebody else. She pulled her own Destiny Clock and flipped it open. She glanced at it in the same way one looks at a normal clock to tell the time. She then shut the lid of the Destiny Clock and looked back at us. “It looks like it is about time for me to go, I’d wish you all the luck in the world but the next time we see each other it will be as enemies.”
I could only look at Dawn, I didn’t know how she was planning on leaving but since she said it I was certain she had a way. When I saw her face I wanted desperately to stop her from leaving and that if she left something horrible would begin to happen. However I wasn’t certain what I could do even if I tried to stop her, if she was determined to go through with her fate would I be able to stop her.
“Ema, I want you to carefully watch what I am about to do because it will be useful to you in the future. I also have a a couple of things to tell you before I leave. The first is that just like you I have a title, I am the Scion of Time, Anchor of Life, Destiny of Doom. The second is to beware the Beast of Ruin and it’s children.” She grasped her Destiny Clock tightly in her hand. “I’m Sorry, Goodbye Ema”
Dawn’s hand began to glow in the same white light that my Destiny Clock had glowed when I had pressed it against Lobatae’s trunk. I could hear the clicking sound that was characteristic of the Destiny Clock, however hers sounded different then mine. I hadn’t realized I could recognize the sound of my Destiny Clock until I heard the distinctly different sound of hers.
The glow spread around Dawn until her entire body was covered in white. The light grew brighter and then brighter. Then the light was gone and with it Dawn. I was now alone in the Meadow with Lobatae. Dawn was now gone, and I missed her somewhat, partially because I knew we would probably never be able to be friendly like that again. It was a lonely feeling knowing that.
“Lobatae, it is probably time for us to go too. I’ve probably been here long enough and my other friends are probably worried about me. Do you have a way to leave or do you suggest I try to do what Dawn just did?” Because he probably still wasn’t able to speak correctly I reached out my hand for him to touch.
‘No, I have a way back. Just grab onto me.’ I nodded and grabbed onto his hand. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen but I waited with held breath. I almost thought that nothing was going to happen when the horizon began to rise. It seemed like we were being engulfed by the landscape. The entire meadow seemed to be surrounding us. The everything began to twist like it was in a wringer. It felt like I was on one of those spinning rides at a theme park.
It was somewhere along the ride that I fainted again. At least I think I did, I remember that same white light completely surrounding me. There was the familiar ticking, the ticking of the Destiny Clock. I thought I heard a voice.... “I’m sorry Ema.” That voice, it was Dawn’s voice. The light seemed to be clearing, in front of me was a building. It was really big, bigger then it should be. In fact everything looked smaller then it should be.
However what was really strange was that in front of me I saw myself, except it was a younger me, maybe six years younger. The other me was holding a broken doll and was staring to cry. There was another little girl near the other me, it was a younger version of Dawn. I had no memories of meeting Dawn in my past so was this another memory I didn’t remember or if this was just a creation of my own mind.
The younger Dawn was comforting the younger me. Eventually I stopped crying, and sniffed, “Dawn, its alright, I don’t really need that doll. You being my friend is more important then this doll.” The two of them seemed to be getting along, even if the doll was broke. I looked around, there was a large building nearby and a sign that said, “ Garian Laboratory”. It looked nice and clean, not as scary as I might have imagined.
Farther away there was a large tree that I could tell was Lobatae. So this really was Garian Laboratory, or at least my imagination of it. I still had no way to tell if this was a real memory or not, though the fact that it felt like I was a disembodied person watching the scene made it likely that it wasn’t really.
“It is real, as real as anything can be. This is our memory after all, even if it didn’t happen it is still real to us and that is all that matters.” I turned my head, realizing that I did so that I wasn’t as disembodied as I thought. My body however was much smaller then I was used to, maybe I too was in a younger body. I looked at the speaker and my suspicion that this was just my own delusion increase. There was another younger me standing there. I turned to my side and there was still the younger me being comforted by Dawn.
“Younger Me, when things like this happen your argument seems less sound.”
“Is that really what you believe?” Asked the younger version of me. “If that is true then this is just a delusion of yours. It would be better to describe this scene as a dramatization of the past. While it might not be exactly what happens this scene was created from my memories.”
“What do you mean your memories, aren’t you me. Wouldn’t that mean that this is my memory too.”
“In a way, it is something that happened to us but you don’t remember it and I do. You see, I’m the you that remembers everything. Because it was for the best you don’t remember everything that happened. If you did it would pollute our judgement of what is to come.”
“You mean I deliberately agreed to have my memories changed. Why would I do that?” That did I mean when I spoke about polluting my judgement. It must be like how Dawn felt, that knowing the future bound you by the chains of fate because you couldn’t find a better future, “Did I have my memory changed so that I would be able to choose a better future?”
The younger me nodded, “Yes, to avoid the darkest future we had to remove our own memory.” The younger me paused, “I don’t have much time to speak with you. You need to look back at the scene, there is something that you should see. I am showing this to you because there is something you need to know.”
I looked back at the scene. There seemed to be a couple of people coming out of the Laboratory. The first was easily recognizable as Bix. He didn’t have the patchwork look that he did in the present. This was the Bix before the Great Change. As he came out the younger Dawn stood up and waved at Bix, “Dad, we are over here.” Bix and the other person began to come over.
I was finally able to see the face of the woman walking with Bix. She was wearing a lab coat too which made her easily recognizable. It was Krien who was walking with Bix. She looked almost the same as she did when I saw her earlier today. She looked a little bit less crazy then she did in the present. “Come on you two, its time for another experiment.”
The younger me with Dawn looked sad and said, “I don’t want to, it is boring and I’d rather be playing with Dawn.”
Krien smiled at the younger me and lifted me up gently. “Its for the betterment of the of the entire world. Don’t you want to help everyone. I’ll also tried to make it more interesting this time, would that be better.” Krien looked down and saw the broken doll. She smiled a knowing smile and continued, “If you do it then I’ll get you a new doll too, wouldn’t you like that.”
The younger me smiled back at Krien and wiped her tears away, “Really, you’ll get me a new doll.” Krien patted the younger me on my head and lead me back into the lab. Dawn came with us with Bix. When the doors of the lab finally closed the other younger me finally started to speak again. “ Garian Laboratory, the start of everything and the end of everything. To save the world they were forced to create something which should never have existed.”
The entire scene began fading out. Everything began to become white. The other me began to speak once again, “I don’t have much time left because the connection between our memories is limited. There is something I still need to tell you. You and Dawn are here to protect everything even if you are destined come into conflict. The utmost darkness, the Beast of Chaos has begun to appear. It won’t be long now until you will be forced into action. The only way to stop the Beast of Chaos is to enter the Tower of Nothing.”
Everything was now completely white. Even the other me was now beginning to fade. “Wait, is there anything else you can tell me. If Krien was there why is she not telling me anything and why doesn’t she see the Tower of Nothing or is she just lying to me.” The whitening form of my younger self seemed to mouth something at me but I wasn’t able to hear it. “Wait, don’t leave, tell me more.” I tried reaching out to grab the vanishing form. It reached out toward me too and for a second our hands were connected. Then...
“Ema, Ema, Wake Up.” A voice, that was Tina’s voice. I began to feeling things around me. While everything seemed bright I could tell that my eyes were closed. I also felt cold and wet. I slowly opened my eyes and found I was laying on the grass by the side of the lake where the Tower of Nothing stood, dark and looming.
Chapter 12: Stirring of Shadows
I saw Tina’s worried face appear over mine. “Ema, your awake, are you alright. I’ve been so worried about you.” I leaned up and was able to see everyone surrounding me. I could feel that my clothes were sopping wet like I had just been dragged out of the lake.
“I feel fine. But what happened, how long have I been out for?” I was still trying to sort through my memories. There was that strange vision about the younger me’s and Dawn... Yes and there was that time in the meadow with Dawn and Lobatae. Was what happened real? I sat up and looked around. I was sitting on the edge of the lake that the Tower of Nothing was raising up out of.
Tina, Mink, Jamel, and Quell were standing around me looking worried. However I felt relieved when I saw Lobatae standing in the lake with his arms stretched out. I wasn’t sure what he was doing there but his presence reassured me that everything that had happened was real.
Quell decided to answer my question. “We aren’t exactly sure what happened. One second you were walking with us and were collapsing. The next second you were gone in a flash of bright light. We tried searching everywhere for you but we weren’t able to find you until we saw another flash of light coming from the direction of the Tower of Nothing. We all rushed over here and found you laying in the lake with that guy standing next to you.” Quell pointed toward Lobatae. “It must have been a couple of hours from when you vanished to when you appeared. Mink and Tina were getting very upset that you were missing and all of us were worried.”
“Who is that guy anyway. He had just been standing there since we found you. I don’t think he even budged an inch when we pulled you out of the lake and tried to wake you up.” Jamel shrugged her shoulders, “We tried asking him some questions but he hasn’t said anything.”
“He is alright.” I responded. I reached into my pocket and pulled out the Destiny Clock out of my pocket. “He was the person I was looking for after all.” I motioned randomly toward him, “He is Lobatae, the Green Hand, just ignore him if he makes any lame jokes. He used to be a tree in his last life... or this one depending on how you do the math.” My comment left a bunch of confused looks of my friends, which is understandable because one doesn’t often hear that someone was a tree.
Eventually it was Mink who spoke up, I assumed it was going to be to ask me to clarify what I said but instead she asked a different question, “What kind of tree is he?” I just mouthed the question for a couple of seconds before responding.
“He is an Oak I believe. I’m not exactly sure because I don’t know trees very well but I could ask him if you really what to know.” I staggered to my feet, helped by Jamel who was much stronger then her body suggested which was a product of her monstrous nature, I’m sure. “I probably will need some help carrying him to shore because he isn’t very good at walking, he isn’t very used to a human body.”
Jamel followed me into the lake. I went up and grabbed Lobatae’s arms. “Are you alright Lobatae, are you sleeping or something. Do trees even need to sleep?” I shook him a little bit and he toppled over into the water. Jamel and I grabbed his arms and began dragging him to the shore through the water.
I felt Lobatae’s thoughts raise to the surface of my mind again. ‘Sorry about that. It just that the fresh water and clean air was very nostalgic. It has been many seasons since I have last been to this land. I have been in that meadow so long that I had forgotten what this air tasted like. Thank you for bringing me back here and I apologize for being such a hinderance.’
“Well there is the trouble of trying to find a place for you to stay. I already had to find a place for Jamel here and I haven’t yet figured out what I am going to do with you. Maybe it would be easier if you turned back into a tree, then you could just stay in the back yard.” Jamel and me managed to pull Lobatae out of the lake and onto the shore.
I laid on the bank next to Lobatae, I had managed to get most of my clothes completely wet again. Mink offered my a handkerchief, but it wasn’t enough to actually dry myself off, though it was a nice offering. I nodded in thanks and took the handkerchief. I used to dry my hands before handing it back.
Jamel turned to me and asked me a question, “You were talking to him when we were walking back, do you have some way of understanding him even if he isn’t talking.” I scratched my head getting my hand wet again, Dawn had been able to hear Lobatae’s thoughts too so I didn’t really know how to explain it to someone else.
However I managed to try an explanation, “He isn’t really able to use his mouth to talk yet because he isn’t used to that form. However when I touch him I am to hear his thoughts like they are rising from an ocean into my own thoughts. I is hard to explain it.” My friends exchanged looks and nodded. They accepted my explanation, it wasn’t the strangest thing I had tried to tell them.
I looked up at the sky and realized that the sun was starting to set, it was starting to get late. I needed to think of a place to leave Lobatae, maybe I should really take my own advice and keep him as a tree. “We should getting late, since it takes us a long time to get home we should probably get going soon. I can explain everything on the way back.” Everybody nodded and we began the long journey back. We had to carry Lobatae most of the way and we got some strange looks from other people. At least on the bus we were able to pretend that he was sleeping.
The journey home started mostly uneventful. I explained what happened the best as I could. People seemed surprised when I started speak about, it explained a lot but made everything more confusing. Most of the rest of the journey was spent discussing what had happened and making speculations about what everything meant. However even together we weren’t able to figure out any more then I had been able to alone.
As we finally got off the bus nearer to our homes Tina turned her nose up into the air and twitched her ears. “Ema, something seems wrong. It feels like a storm is coming. It feels a lot like the night when the Tower of Nothing appeared.”
I looked up as well but didn’t notice anything unusual. However I felt some thoughts rise to the surface. “Lobatae says that he agrees with you. He says the air feels different then it did before. If both Tina and Lobatae say that something is strange then something but what should be do about it. Even if something is happening, until we know what it is wouldn’t it be better if we all returned home. If something happens then you can call me and we will all met up.”
We all headed home after we were in agreement about the plan. I walked with Tina so that she would help me bring Lobatae. When we got to my house we set Lobatae down and Tina asked, “What are you planning on doing with him? You can’t just bring him home, your mom is less likely to accept a strange boy then she was to accept Jamel.”
“Don’t worry Tina, I have a plan.” I gave her a grin and pulled the Destiny Clock out of my pocket. “I’m going to try something that I hope will work.” I placed the clock in the palm of my hand and pressed it against Lobatae’s bark like clothing, My thought about turning him back into a tree now actually felt like a good idea. “Don’t worry Lobatae, I’m going to try and make it so that you can turn back on your own but this is my first try at this so I hope it all works out.”
I could feel Lobatae’s worried thoughts as the clock slowly began to glow. I tried to visualize clearly what I wanted. Instead of the larger tree form I wanted a smaller compact version that could be kept easily. The glow once again surrounded Lobatae and then after a minute when then light receded, he had become a small potted tree.
“Wow, that’s really cool Ema! I want to see you do it again. Maybe you can change him into a flower or maybe catnip. I want to see what else you can do.”
I could only shake my head and sink to my knees. I felt exhausted, it was like all my energy had been taken by the transformation. “No, I think I should go home and take a nap now.” I waved at Tina as she walked home. I picked up Lobatae and heard his thoughts and how he didn’t like being such a small tree.
Like I had expected it was fairly easy to explain a plant to my Mother and she agreed to let me keep it in my room. I set him near the window and quickly laid down my bed. I only managed to get a short break before being called down to eat dinner. It was only after dinner that I was able to finally collapse on my bed and fall asleep. I’m not certain when it happened but I was hearing something in my sleep. However it wasn’t the same as the other dreams I had previously had. This time everything was dark, I could hear something move in the darkness. Despite the fact that everything was pitch black I could see the outline of something even darker still. It was large, or at least seem extremely large. It raised its head into the sky and let out a large piercing sound.
I woke up sweating, still hearing the piercing sound. It took me a couple of seconds to realize that the sound was real and not part of the dream I was happening. I looked out my window to see that Tina and Lobatae had been right, the night was dark and stormy but without the rain. Even through the darkness I could still see the Tower of Nothing off in the distance.
Sitting beside the window was Lobatae... wait, sitting? Somehow Lobatae had returned to his human form and he was sitting next to the window staring out into the sky. He noticed me and turned to me and then spoke, not in his mental voice but in a real human voice, “You’re awake, you can hear the beast awakening too.” Somehow Lobatae had managed to gain control of both his body and his voice while I was sleeping.
Over the piercing sound I managed to ask him, “Then you know what is causing it, is it the Beast of Chaos?” Then as an afterthought I added, “And how did you manage to return to the human form and gain control over it.”
“It is only a guess of mine but I believe you are right, tonight is probably going to be a long night. You should be glad I managed to turn myself back so you wouldn’t have to spend energy restoring my form. It seemed that whatever you did to me earlier had several side-effect which were probably caused by your subconscious desires. You probably wanted me to be able to turn back to this form by myself and you wanted me to be able to control this form so I wouldn’t burden you. For whatever reason, when you changed me last it give me control over this body and the ability to change back from that silly potted tree.”
“I see.” I responded, that explanation made as much explanation as any. I suddenly realized that the piercing sound was becoming slowly softer and then a couple of seconds later the sound stopped completely. I then heard the ring of my cell phone. I checked the number, it was Mink calling me.
I answer the phone and said, “So you heard that sound too.” That could be the only explanation of calling me at that moment. “Something bad is probably brewing Mink, we had better get ready.”
“You are right Ema, I have already gotten Shin to agree to help us. I’m going to have him drive and pick us all up, that will be much faster then relying on walking to get us to whatever it happening.” Mink’s voice sounded like her usual happy self but there was a hint of stress in her voice. “I’ll let you call everyone else and I will probably be there in maybe ten minutes.”
I agreed and the hung up. Then I started the process of calling everyone else. Tina was easy to get ahold of and she agreed to come over right way and that she would be at my house in a couple of minutes. Jamal was easy to contact too, it seemed that Krien had fallen asleep easily but Jamel hadn’t been able to sleep so she was wake and managed to answer when I called.
However when I called Quell I got no repose and was forced to leave a message. Why was he not answering his phone at a time like this I didn’t know but I had a hard time believing that is just an ordinary reason. I was worried that something had happened to Quell that prevented him from calling us or answering his phone. I really hoped that he was alright.
I called Mink back to tell her that Quell wasn’t answering and that once she had picked the rest of us up we should first find out what he wasn’t answering. However when I tried calling Mink back she didn’t answer her phone either. It seemed everything was going from bad to worse. However I breathed a sigh of at least partial relief when I heard my phone ring and it was Tina’s number calling.
I answered the phone and found that Tina had already arrived at my house. I grabbed a couple of things, including the Destiny Clock and my cell phone, and began heading sneakily down the stairs with Lobatae. We tried to be very quiet and avoid waking my mom up and apparently we were successful because we managed to escape the house without seeing anyone. I locked the door when we finally exited the house.
“Tina, it seems there is a problem. After Mink called me earlier telling me she would pick us all up with Shin I haven’t been able to contact her. Also Quell isn’t answering his phone either. I’m worried about both of them, we should probably stop at their houses before looking the source of that sound.” As I spoke I realized that I even if we found Mink and Quell safe and sound I wasn’t sure where to head to find the source of that piercing screech.
“That is a problem, then do you suggest trying checking Quell or Mink first. If it is those two you are worried about I think we should go after Quell, Mink has Shin to guard her so she shouldn’t be in too much danger but Quell doesn’t have any protection.” I nodded in agreement with Tina’s suggestion. Going after Quell would probably be the best solution at this moment.
“First, I’m going to try and call Jamel and see where she is. I was able to contact her earlier.” I tried calling Jamel again but this time when the phone was picked up it wasn’t Jamel on the other side but Krien.
“Ema, that is you right? I need you to come over here quickly. Things are getting fairly back over hear and I need you to get here as fast as possible.” I thought I heard some crashing from the other side of the phone. “Sorry, I can’t talk, I have something to tell you when you get here but you need to hurry.” Before I could open my mouth to respond Krien hung up.
“Tina, Lobatae, it seems bad things are happening everywhere tonight. Krien answered when I called her house and she says we need to get over there as soon as possible.” I motioned and set off running toward Krien’s house, “I hope you have managed to control you body well enough to run Lobatae because me and Tina are fairly good at it.”
Even though I got agreement from Lobatae about his ability to run we wasn’t as good at it as me and Tina so we had to slow down a bit for him to keep up. Since he used to be a tree I guess being able to run fast wasn’t something he learned.
Even at the reduced pace we were able to reach Krien’s house in a fairly short time. It was much closer then Mink or Quell’s houses. As we arrived I knew something was wrong here. While it was night the area around Krien’s house was completely dark. The streetlights had all gone out for about a block radius. I could barely see into the inky blackness because the sky was overcast and there was no light from the stars or moon to guide me.
Thinking quickly I drew the Destiny Clock out of my pocket and it quickly began to give off a soft glow. I was getting the hang of using the clock to make things happen. The glow wasn’t very much but it was enough to see by. So lit by only the glow of the Destiny clock we continued closer to Krien’s house. Tina probably didn’t need the soft light to make her way though the darkness but I, and probably Lobatae, did.
I crept through the darkness, however I didn’t make a big effort to stay quiet. The light from my clock was bright enough that anyone would be able to see us coming. I move slowly so that I would be able to react to anything and so that I could see where I was going.
We reached the front door of Krien’s house without meeting any resistance. However the door to the house was open. Inside the house was also completely dark. The fact that the door was swung open like that had me worried and I wondered what horrible thing was in the darkness down there, well besides Jamel I mean. I took another step into the house, I couldn’t leave either Krien or Jamel inside there. Some people might call what I did heroic or maybe crazy but I like to think of it as friendship.
As I entered the living room I found the monster that was responsible for what had happened there. In the living room sitting on a bloodstained couch, cloaked in an even darker darkness that the light from my clock was barely able to penetrate, was Etern Void. Her black hair and eyes seemed to vanish into the darkness surrounding her and even her body almost seemed like it wasn’t there. Those black lines I had seem on her body before were easily prominent.
“I’ve been waiting for you. Even though you arrived quicker then I anticipated it is too late.” Her voice was soft and deeply threatening. “Your friends managed to escape downstairs but it is probably too late, one of them is almost certainly dead by now.” Etern smirked a little as if relishing in the pain she was bringing to me. “She was stupid enough to jump in front of your friend who saved you last time to protect her. It’s her blood here on this couch. To think she would sacrifice her life to protect someone else, how laughable.” However she didn’t laugh when she said it.
If it was Krien who got hurt by Etern the I didn’t need to worry to much. If Bloodlose could kill Krien then she would have died years ago. However knowing that didn’t make me any less angry at Etern for doing what she did. I looked over my shoulder at Tina and Lobarae and said, “Thanks for coming with me here you too, I will be find on my own. Instead I want both of you to go find Quell and Mink. I’ll be fine here on my own.”
Lobarae began protesting, “But Ema, you might need our help agienst her and what about your injured friend downstairs.” However Tina grabbed him by the arm and begin dragging him outside.
“Alright Ema, We will see you later. Don’t go overboard.” Tina reassured my as she pulled Lobarae outside. It put me at ease to see that Tina trusted me enough to leave now. After they were gone I turned back to Etern who was still sitting on the couch.
Etern stood up once the door was shut behind Tina. “I don’t know why you do something as stupid as sent them off but it makes me job easier. You really must want to die here with your friends downstairs. I will destroy you for winning earlier and for all of your crimes.” Etern seems very annoyed and angry at me, Jamel must have really hurt her pride when she was defeated days ago.
I let go of the Destiny Clock and caught it by the chain. “You are mistaken Etern. I don’t plan on dying and my friends certainly won’t die either.” I began swinging the clock around in a circle, “You see I now know a great deal more about you then I did the last time that we met. Earlier when you said that it was stupid to sacrifice your life to protect someone else, you don’t really believe that. I know that because even right now you are risking your life to protect someone you care about. Isn’t that right?” As I spoke the light at the end of the chain grew brighter and brighter until the entire room could be seen from it. However it didn’t dissipate the darkness surrounding Etern.
“Ha, like you know anything about me. Your just guessing.” Said Etern, still confident that I didn’t know what I was doing. Like before she motioned and tendrils of darkness shot out from her to entrap me. Also like before the Destiny Clock cut through them like they weren’t even there. Expecting that Etern sent more darkness at me, this time from multiple directions. Last time I hadn’t been able to react in time but this time I was expecting it and all of the tendrils were broken before they could reach me.
“I know Etern, I know because I met her. I met Dawn.” It was one of my weapons against her. Because of that meeting with Dawn, Etern wouldn’t be able to deny that I knew nothing about her. I was right too because Etern’s face quickly showed a looked of surprise and her attack halted for a second.
“That’s impossible. She would never meet with you. Your enemies after all, and your destined to... to...” Etern seemed to realize what she was saying and stopped before she revealed what I was destined to do to Dawn. Etern’s mental armer was cracking, even if she denied it it was possible that I had met with Dawn and found out about her.”
“I don’t know what I’m destined to do to her, but I do understand why you want to protect her. She accepts you for what you really are, doesn’t she? You hide what you truly are from everyone but she knows and she cares for you because of it. She did what other people hadn’t. That is why you want to stop me all by yourself instead of relying on her.” I was walking closer and closer to Etern as I spoke. I could see what each line that I spoke was doing to her. “Show me Etern, show me the resolve that makes you want to change the future. The resolve that makes you want to forge your way though an uncertain future rather then see the Destiny of Doom that Dawn had.”
As I stood before Etern she was trembling. I was pressing her hard and she was on the breaking point. Now she had to make a choice, would she do everything in her power to defeat me even if she had to reveal the form she hated or would her resolve break and she would meekly travel down the future that she didn’t desire. One of her hands gripped into a fist,
“Your right,” she admited, “Dawn was the only person to ever accept who I really am. Because of that I can never abandon her.” Etern’s trembling slowly began to stop. “You are also right I am willing to risk my life to protect her, even if that is a very stupid thing to do.” The cracks on her skin began creeping into the rest of her flesh, “You are also right that I haven’t been doing everything I can to defeat you... but even if you are right about everything, even if the destiny Dawn has is the best there is, I will do everything I possibly can to stop it from happening.”
The looked me clean in the eyes. I was a piercing determined looked and I knew she had made her decision. The were cracks around the edges of her eyes, like her skin was breaking apart and chipping off. “I will stop you, no matter what. No matter what sort of monster I will become, I will stop you.” Then in an instant the rest of her skin chipped way like a puzzle falling apart. Now before me was a living pool of darkness. It felt an inhuman form what is difficult to describe. It looked almost like a shadow of a person and felt much like a mirror. It was like a perfectly black mirror which only reflected what you believed it did. I felt it was so much like me that I could see my own weaknesses and flaws all too clearly.
“Beautiful.” I said in awe. Maybe I am a bit crazy but Etern as that black mirror like form was one of the most striking things I had ever seen. I realized I was laughing to myself softly, I guess I really am crazy, “Amazing Etern, you really did it. You are really amazing.” Even as I spoke and staring into the darkness I wasn’t afraid. Maybe somewhere along my journey I lost my fear or maybe it was something about facing down a person I understood and felt I know that wasn’t scary. “Now Etern, I have my own determination, my own resolve. I too want to prevent Dawn’s Destiny of Doom but I will do it myself. I don’t want to have to sacrifice anyone to accomplish it, that included you.”
I couldn’t tell if Etern heard me or not but she rushed toward me. Her darkness seeming to completely encompass everything. It was everything I could do to fend her off with the Destiny Clock. It sliced through her as well as it did her dark tendrils but it didn’t seem to slow her down at all. Every cut seemed to be only a momentary hindrance which fix itself almost immediately. I was pressed up against the wall by Etern’s advances. It gave me the advantage of having less angles to be attacked by but I couldn’t maneuver as well.
There there was an explosion from across the room as the door to the downstairs blew off it’s hinges. A red roaring light came from down the stairs. When Etern turned to discover what was happening I used that opportunity to escape from her grasp and move farther away from her and away from the wall.
Then from put the stairs came Krien and Jamel. Krien had several bloody rips and tears in her lab-coat, yet even if they might have been mortal on a normal person they didn’t seem to slow her down at all. She was carrying what looked like a portable cannon which was fueled by a flamethrower, that was the best what I could explain it. The light from the burning flame lit the room better then the glow from my block did.
Jamel on the other hand was looming larger then Krien. It looked like she was floating across the ground of small tendrils, thousands of small tendrils. Her air seemed almost completely frozen, yet still flowing around her. Her claws were longer then I remembered having seen them before. She looked even more monstrous then I remember seeing under the castle.
“you again” came the whispering voice of Etern, I also didn’t hear it because of how soft it was. “i thought i killed you. you too risk your life for what you care about.” It seemed that her determination hadn’t changed even with Krien and Jamel coming to my assistance.
What happened next was very fast. Etern rushed at me once more, caring about defeating me more then stopping my friends. During the time Etern have been distracted I had brought my clock up into my hand. When she rushed at me I pressed the clock directly into what I guessed was the chest part of her body.
I closed my eyes and pushed forward with the clock. I hear a sound, almost like the light flapping of bird wings. When I finally opened my eyes the room was light again. I was laying face up on the floor, I must have passed out at some point but I didn’t remember that point. I managed to get to my feet and looked to see that Etern had returned to her human look. She too was laying on the floor but unlike me she didn’t show any sign of waking, though her chest was raising and falling so she was still alive.
I turned to see Krien and Jamel leaning agienst each other panting. Krien was smiling at me, “You’re awake, oh good. Whatever you did before you feel was effective. She let out this strange sound and then began to move around wildly. It was almost like she wasn’t able to see anything. After that the two of us were able to safely constrain her and eventually she must have lost consciousness and turned back to that form.
Chapter 13: Chaos
“How long have I been out for?” I asked, I had sent Tina and Lobatae off before I tried dealing with Etern and if I still had time I wanted to go after them to help Mink and Quell.
“Maybe five or ten minutes,” Responded Krien who had collapsed on the couch that was soaked with her blood. Even if her wounds couldn’t kill her, I could tell that they were taking a toll on her. It would probably be several days before she was in top form again. She healed much quicker then normal humans but it still took time for her to recover.
The large cannon light weapon she had been holding was set down at her feet. The roaring flame what had been on it had gone out. Now that I wasn’t too worried about being late to help my friends I wanted to quickly ask Krien a couple questions.“Krien, you said that you had something to say when I talked with you on the phone. There are a couple of questions I wanted you to answer too, having to do with Garian Laboratory.”
Krien nodded, “I see, so you have remembered something about Garian Laboratory. I’m not surprised, everything has been started in motion so you would have found out sooner or later.” She wiped some blood off her chest with a rag while she spoke, “I will tell you anything you want to know, I really don’t have any reason to hide it anymore. However I don’t know everything and there isn’t time to tell the whole story now.”
Krien looked apologetic, “You see, my part in everything is over. Unlike you I can’t see the Tower of Nothing even though I know it is there. When I was at Garian Laboratory it wasn’t as anyone important, I was just Bixuman Falldreck’s assistant. Only he knows the entire story. But all of that can come later, you need to go after your friends quickly. The Beast of Ruin is stirring in it’s sleep and one of it’s brood has awakened. The other, Dawn, she is already going there. You must stop her, if she comes in contact with the Beast of Ruin then it will be the first step on the road into darkness.”
“Do you mean that her Dark Fate will come about, isn’t that what Etern was trying to stop?” I didn’t know, if Dawn meeting the Beast of Chaos was her Destiny of Doom then why would Etern have attacked me.
Krien shook her head, “I don’t know. What I do know is that something terrible will start to happen if they come into contact. From Bix’s hypothesis is the start of the Imaskin Doom that he was trying to prevent but he only managed to delay it five years.” She motioned toward the door, “No go, you don’t have much time, you must find the Beast of Chaos before Dawn does.”
“But where is it?” I asked but the response from Krien was only, “You must find the Beast of Chaos by yourself, you are one of the two people who has any control over it.” Then Dawn must be the other one with control over it.
“I’m coming with you.” Said Jamel. She had also returned to her normal height, though her hair was still like crystalline ice. I nodded in agreement and the two of us left Krien’s house. Before we leave Krien agreed to manage Etern, though the look in Krien’s eyes when she said that suggested more then just watching over her. Krien would get her type of revenge on Etern after all, and all in the name of the defunct discipline called Science.
The streetlights outside of Krien’s house were working again, whatever power Etern had over them was gone now. However even with the street lit I didn’t know where to step, I had to figure out where the Beast of Chaos was and quickly. I pulled out my cellphone and tried calling Mink again. However I didn’t get any better a response then I did before. The same was true when I tried to call Quell and Tina. “Where would I be if I was a monster which was out to get me…” I asked absently as if saying the question aloud would help, you’d be surprised how well it works.
“School.” I head a Jamel’s voice from behind me say, “If I were out to get you then I would look for you at your school. It is a place you go regularly but it isn’t a safe place for you like your home would be. I would probably go the during the day because you would be more likely to be there, but that is where I would find and get you.”
I smiled at Jamel, “Thanks, I guess having a monster on my side is useful for many reasons. However I hadn’t realized that the insight into monster psychology would be one of them. It isn’t very far from here so we can get there quickly, we might even be able to find the others there.” I set off toward school with Jamel following close on my heals.
It wasn’t long before we reached the school and discovered that Jamel’s hypothesis was correct. The gates of the school had been torn into pieces. Was it the Beast of Chaos that had done that, I couldn’t imagine a human, even a Zoomorph, being able to do something to the gates like that.
However we weren’t able to enter the school and discover what had caused the destruction of the gate peacefully. Sitting on a chair where the gates of the school used to be was a man. He was an older man, maybe in his thirties, and he was wearing a dark black suit. It was impossible to discover what his features were because he wore a plain white mask over his face, though his hands, which were visible, were crisscrossed in numerous scars. Sticking out of the ground next to him was a large sword, it was overly big and seemed like it would be to heavy to actually use.
When we got closer to him he stood up and placed one hand on the sword before saying, “The Mistress wishes to be alone. I can’t let you enter this place. Should you refused to agree then I will be forced to violently eject you.” He sounded and looked like he was entire serious and he felt entirely capable to carry out his threat.
I took out my Destiny Watch out of my pocket and flipped it open. “Your one of Dawn’s hands, aren’t you. I’m afraid that I’m here to stop her from meeting with the Beast of Chaos and I can’t let you stop me. But I have no plans of fighting you either.”
I heard the clack of Jamel’s claws hitting against each other. “Do you want me to fight him Ema, I’m not afraid of his sword.”
I shook my head, “No, I want you to stay with me for when we enter. I have a different idea about how to deal with him.” I smiled a little bit and Jamel, “You remember don’t you, Dawn isn’t the only one with a swordsman who is one of their hands. I have one too.”
Jamel looked a bit confused for a second and then it finally dawned on her face. “You don’t mean him do you?” She too smiled a little bit and laughed, “You’re right. Not so long ago I was always thinking about him but now I feel like I can see him again.”
“Alright then.” I reached down to the Destiny Clock and put my hand over the Silver Hand. Arlan, Jamel’s brother. The last time I had seen him was just before we hand reentered the Old World. He had followed us through the portal, but we never saw him on the other side. I concentrated and the Destiny Clock began to glow white. I could hear the ticking of the hands, in particular I could hear the precise crisp sound of the Silver Hand of Duty. “Come Arlan, I call you.” I spoke is a soft sound like I was whispering to the clock.
There was a nearby flash of silver and like he had been waiting all of this time, Arlan arrived as if I hadn’t called him but like he was always supposed to arrive. His silver clothes fluttered in the light breeze. He looked a bit frazzled, like he had spent several nights out, though even this only showed in his hair and body language. His clothes were different then the ones he had worn in the New World even if they were the same color.
He seemed to be slightly out of breath like he had been running for a while. “Jamel, its you!” He cried and rushed at us. He grabbed Jamel’s hands and there was a glisten of tears in his eyes, “You’re all right, I’ve been so worried about you. I’m so glad that your all right.” He seemed really sincere for a person who left his sister along for a long time to find a cure for her.
“Sorry to but in on your happy reunion but that guy over there,” I pointed at the man with the big sword who was kindly waiting for us, “is threatening to hurt your precious sister.” It wasn’t really a lie because without Arlan here Jamel and I would have had to fight him and he certainly would have tried to hurt us.
Arlan however turned on me, “You! You’re the cause of all of this. Because of you me and Jamel were forced to leave our home and come to this strange place. Do you know how much I have been through here to try and find her again, I can only imagine what horrors she has been through while I wasn’t there.”
“Quit deluding yourself. She has been quiet happy since she left your.” I stressed the word, the place they had left was more Arlan’s home then Jamel’s, “home. In fact she even has a bunch of new friends here, people she never had back at your home.” I turned back to Jamel, “I guess it was a bad idea after all. It appears we will have to deal with that man ourselves.”
However I stopped when I saw a strange glint in Jamel’s eye, “Oh brother, please don’t bother Ema. She was only trying to do the best thing she thought she could for me. However this man was being mean to me, please help me brother.” It was a pleading voice that I had never heard Jamel speak in before.
Arlan rounding on the man, a look of anger in his eyes. It gave Jamel a questioning look and then barely heard her whisper to me, “Monsters have no problems manipulating people.” I smiled back at her, it truely was useful to have a monster on my side, and a lot of fun. Alran drew his sword, which was small compared to the sword the masked man used, with a flash of silver. Alran’s sword was much better maintained then the Masked Man, his was perfectly polished and gleaming even in the darkness. The masked man’s sword was chipped and stained, but it had more weight and force then Alran’s blade so it didn’t need by be as sharp.
The masked man grasped the hilt of his sword and lifted it out of the ground with one hand. “It is rude for two swordsman to cross blades without first giving their names.” The masked swordsman said, “I am Kimlar, knight of the Scion of Time. Those who cross her path will perish by my blade.” His words were eloquent if outdated. This masked knight Kimlar, in his black suit, kicked the chair he had been standing on out of the way and stood ready for Alran’s advance.
“I am Alran Fillmore.” He said as he solemnly approached Kimlar, however Jamel broke the mood when she yelled at him, “He is the Knight of the Scion of Truth.” Alran might have been surprised by being called that title but he hide it behind discipline and training. In a battle like this large reactions could be deadly and fatal.
However Kimlar noticed and looked back at me, “I see, so the knights will fight each other. Such a destiny cannot be avoided.” He looked back at Alran. “Then come and we will test our blades against each other. Only the victor will be allowed to continue their path.” With that he sung his blade and Alran. Rather the block the heavy blade, Alran slide it out of the way with his own. He wouldn’t be able to defeat Kimlar in a battle of strength but that was hardly the only factor here.
I motioned to Jamel and whispered to her over the clashing of the swords, "Let's go now, while they are both distracted. That will kill two birds with one stone." I saw Jamel nod and then the two of us began sneaking toward the gate. We crept around the side while trying to keep out of the way of the two fighting swordsmen.
Kimlar was locked in combat with Alran pushing him back, but Alran just danced back easily and moved toward the side. Arlan wasn't letting Kimlar use his strength which was a good move on his part. From watching the two of them I could tell that both were experienced fighters, much more then I was. Even when I had fought Etern, this was on an entirely different level. I wondered how both of them had managed to get the experience fighting like they had now.
We edged through the gate and managed to escape notice from both of them. They were probably so intent on fighting each other that no only did they no see us it probably would have been fatal for either for them to do anything about it if they did. I moved farther toward the school and when we got out of sight of the two of them we both got to breath a sigh of relief. However I still didn't see anyone around, and though I knew Dawn was here about of Kimlar, I didn't know where she would be "How about we go up to the room?" I asked Jamel, "That way we will be able to see them where ever they are and if we are lucky that will be where they actually are.
The two of us then entered the school. However the doors were locked, which we should have expected, but I managed to get around that by pressing the Destiny Clock up against the door and willing it open. There was a short glow and then the door was open and we were inside the school. It was then easy to make our way up the stairs and onto the roof, though I had to open another door onto the roof in the same way. Students aren't normally allowed onto the roof that that door was locked too.
We moved onto the roof and looked around. I didn't initially see anyone up there so I was able to move safely over to the side and look off into the grounds. I could see Kimlar and Alran still fighting over next to the gate but I did see anyone else. I know I already asked the question before but this time I was asking Jamel because of of her useful advice last time, "Jamel, where would a monster be waiting for me in my school if it wanted to stop me."
There was a second as Jamel thought about the answer but eventually she said, "Well, wouldn't your classroom be the best bet. If there is anyplace in there school that you would eventually be it would be your classroom. If it isn't there then maybe the lunchroom would be a good second bet. At least there you would be able to find snacks to keep yourself busy while you waited." I nodded at the advice. It was better then I had thought of, though the lunch room suggestion might just mean that Jamel was feeling a little snackish. Not that that was a bad thing, given everything that had already happened and would probably happen tonight grabbing a bite to eat might not be a bad idea.
However we didn't have time for that so the two of us headed off toward my classroom.It wasn't very far from the stairs so me snuck quietly toward it to hopefully arrive unnoticed. My plan was disrupted when there was a loud crash from the classroom, it was an enormous rending sound like brick and mortar being broken apart. Then there was that sound again. That loud piercing sound that had woken up up earlier that night. It might be the sound of the Beast of Chaos or one of its spawn. Without wasting a moment I burst into my class room to find out what had just happened.
There was a gapping whole in the wall, like the classroom had been split from end to end. Through the wall was an enormous black form. It looked like a large dog, but no dog had teeth like that or was that size. It had thick matted fur and I wasn't sure if it was flesh and blood or pure darkness like Etern had been. However standing there in front of the enormous animal was the, relatively, small form of Dawn. She was wearing much different clothes then I had seen her in the meadow. While perviously she had looked casual, this time she was wearing formal attire, for some reason.
It took me a second standing agape at the doorway looking in at them to finally realize everything. Dawn was standing there with her hand outstretched, like she was about to pet the enormous beast on the nose. She turned as she heard the door I slammed open. She was looking back at me with a dark smile on her face, it was like nothing I had seen her wear in the Meadow. In the meadow she had seemed resigned but now she looked enraptured, like that is the best thing that could be happening to her. The smile on her face looked so dark and so foreboding that I didn't know what to do.
"You're too late Ema, you can't stop me now." Said Dawn, she had acted teasing to me in the meadow but now she was deadly serious. Her entire feeling was completely different, perviously it had been like the big sister that I had never had. Now it felt more like something much much worse, like an unstoppable evil. Even though she said I couldn't stop her I still tried. I rushed toward her and the beast, which much have been the Beast of Chaos. However I was too slow and just as I was about to reach them Dawn placed her hand on the Beast's snout.
There was a blast of wind and the lights in the room cracked and shattered. I fell back from the force and I could hear Jamel fall back as well. When I looked back at Dawn and the Beast of Chaos, one of them was gone. Only Dawn stood there, however she was glowing, but it wasn't the soft light glow of the power of the Destiny Watch. It was a red sickening glow. Dawn turned around slowly, meniously, and looked streight into my eyes. Her eyes which were once a conforting ___ were now a deep dark crimson. She reached out her hand toward me and spoke.
"You see, it is too late.” As she spoke the walls around her began crumbling falling into bits like they were quickly being eroded. Even the ground beneath her was breaking apart. There seemed to be a miasma surrounding her which ate at everything nearby. I scooted back away from it, though I still didn’t know exactly what had happened to dawn I know that it was very bad and that I had failed at stopping what I was here to stop.
However I wasn’t fast enough. Dawn seemed to move at lighting speed in a way that looked like she was moving completely normally. The ground around me cracked and began breaking apart as Dawn leaned over me and grabbed my chin with her hand. “You see, I will never let you open the Tower of Nothing. It is something I absolutely can’t allow.” She lifted up her head while still holding onto my chin and laughed. It was the loud piercing laugh that I attributed to the Beast of Chaos. “Even if it means following the will of the Beast of Chaos, you will never open the Tower.”
From next to me I hear the cracking of flooring, “LET GO OF HER.” Came the chilly voice of Jamel. Her claws whipped out at Dawn but only caught air. Dawn had released me and moved back with that same graceful speed which boggled the mind. Jamel was growing before my eyes, her already icy hair now completely frozen. However she wasn’t able to do anything. Dawn simply lifted her hand and pointed it toward Jamel and Jamel was flung against the wall by a black and crimson wave of energy. The wall cracked against the pressure and when the energy faded Jamel collapsed to the ground, apparently unconscious.
I barely had time to scream out to Jamel before Dawn had turned her attention back to me. Looking at her now, I didn’t know what type of person she really was, was she the older sister type who I had met in the meadow or was this who she truly was. Did the beast of ruin do this too her and if so why had she seemed to have so willingly accepted it. She had said that we would be opposing each other the next time we had met but I never thought it would be like this.
Dawn lifted me up by my collar with one hand and stared at me with her now crimson eyes. I felt betrayed, both by Dawn and myself. I had always been a good judge of character, being able to tell who people really were despite what they pretended it me. That had served me well with Jamel and many others but it failed completely when turned on Dawn. Both aspects of her that I had seen seemed real. Even before she touched the beast of Chaos she had felt much different then she had been in the meadow. Had she been lying to me since I had meet her, or had something changed to make her a different person. I didn’t know, and now as I stared into her Crimson eyes I didn’t know if I would ever find out.
Dawn placed a hand over my heart and leaned over to whisper in my ear, “Goodbye Ema.” Then her hand began glowing a dark red.
‘Do you want to live?’ Everything seemed stained dark red. I couldn’t see anything other red. ‘Do you want to live?’ I heard repeated. It was a soft voice, though I couldn’t make out who was saying it. I felt like I was falling. ‘Do you want to live?’ The voice repeated for a third time.
“Who are you?” I barely managed to whisper. I think I hit the ground, but I could barely feel anything. Was I dying and this was just some pointless hallucination of mine, wasn’t my life supposed to flash before my eyes.
‘The Second of One am I, Creation and Destruction. Destined One, I have watched you long. Do you want to live?’ The question came the fourth time. I was feeling cold, far colder then I had felt before.
“Yes.” Was the only thing I could whisper. I don’t even no if the sound managed to actually escape my lips. However the red began to clear from my vision and I was beginning to be able to see again. I could see Dawn standing above me laughing, though I couldn’t hear her, but beyond her, beyond the gapping hole in the wall I saw something large. What did it look like, it wasn’t human but seemed like everything else that I could imagine, but the eyes were something that struck me. They were deep and dark, yet sparkling. It looked like I was staring into the universe and it was staring back.
‘Destined One, I will lend you my power. When all is over, seek me out. I will be waiting for you.’ With that it turned and was gone, maybe bounding away. I could now feel my surroundings again, but the whole world felt different. I staggered to my feet and my whole body felt lighter then again.
Dawn stopped her cold laughing as I stood up, however a wide grin had spread across her face. “You’re still alive Ema. I’m so glad, I know that you wouldn’t disappoint me Ema.” She reached out, her movements still almost lighting fast. However this time I managed to react, stepping quickly out of her reach. I felt faster then I have been before, was it the because of that universe-eye creature.
Dawn lifted up her head and laughed again, “Good, good, Ema, you are reborn again, like me.” She stepped backword and stopped in front of the hole in the wall. She spun in a small circle, “Come Ema join me as we dance at the end of the world.” She face was covered with a mad grin, like nothing else in the world mattered to her. She lifted a watch out of her pocket and opened it. After a second she clicked it closed again, “Soon Ema Soon. When the end comes, join me at the Tower of Nothing.”
With that see stepped backward out of the room. The room was on the second floor so she fell but when I rushed to the window I saw her below on the ground in the arms of the swordsman who have been fighting with Alran. The man’s sword was stained with blood. Dawn waved at me, “Goodbye for now Ema, we will see each other again soon enough.” With that there was a red glow that surrounded them and then they were gone.
It was over… for now. Dawn was gone, though I knew I would see her again. Jamel and Arlen were hurt but neither had fatal injures. I later found Tina and Mink who had met with resistance from the other of Dawn’s hands. However Quell was nowhere to be found. I didn’t know what Dawn or her servents had done to him but he was gone just as much as Dawn was.
Whatever power that universe eyed creature had given me was gone, at least for now. I had only its words to go by to find it again. However I had a sinking feeling that everything that happened wasn’t the end, but the beginning and I didn’t want to know where it ended.