by Alicia Ranea
Evil has taken over, it's up to Naris and Shadow to save the kingdom. Will they be enough?
Once upon a time there lived a young girl known as Naris. She lived in a kingdom that had fallen into darkness. But the time had come for the prophesy to be fulfilled; the time had come for shadow and light to save the kingdom. The adventure that she was about to begin all started in a small town.
The small town was silent. So silent that it was a wonder that no one heard the man dressed in black sneaking from shadow to shadow. He went past the small shops and quaint cottages, past the wishing well and brothel. He went to the edge of the town and yet he continued. On and on he went –until he reached the small stream a couple miles outside of town. There he pulled out a short sword and crossed the stream into the dreaded Black Forest. He continued, fighting for each step, for miles and miles –until he saw the old cobble stone forest cottage. There he stopped for he was at his destination.
The evil king had sent the man known as Shadow to kill Naris because she was the true heir to the throne but no one knew except the gods, the king, and Lady Anja. The king was a cruel and selfish man who killed his own brother and sister-in-law with greed in cold blood. It is but by a miracle that Naris’s life was spared. All because the witch Anja had foreseen two futures. One in the hands of the evil king that brought despair, death, and damnation to their small kingdom; the other with Princess Naris ruling bringing peace, hope, love, and caring to her dying country nursing it back to life. Using her magic, Lady Anja stole into the castle and whisked Naris away to a safe haven. Anja took Naris to her home town where she was the protector witch guarding the town from evil.
No one questioned how Naris came to live with Anja, or why she had the baring of a noblewoman. Naris grew up safe and inconspicuous. Unfortunately it did not matter because Naris was found anyway.
Almost no one knew that Naris’s mother, Queen Aeress, was a born witch. Though she was an unrealized witch she was a witch of prophesy. It was foreseen that Aeress would give birth to a pure witch, a witch with an old soul that had never been touched by evil. This pure witch would come when she was needed most to save the kingdom. It was because of this that Naris was found.
On the hour of her birth on her sixteenth year Naris came of age. At first no one realized that she had attained her powers but soon it was unmistakable.
In the beginning all that happened was that nature bloomed in her presence, but soon she could communicate with animals. Before long she grew empathic and intuitive. She held so much pure good power that everyone in the kingdom knew the pure witch had come of age, and would save them all. Those with a good heart could follow the tug of her love for all of her kingdom. And so Shadow was sent to go kill this maiden who had the power to save or end their world.
As Shadow stood outside the cottage he grew hesitant, because he could not understand how the person living within its walls could be evil. Everywhere else had been bleak and barren. Yet around the cottage it looked like the first bloom of spring not as though winter were just about upon the whole kingdom.
How could something so beautiful come from someone he was told was the ultimate evil? But it was not his place to question the king’s orders, even though Shadow did not trust the king.
Shadow heard a twig snap and spun around. He tried to find where the sound had come from.
Deep in the shadows of the forest Naris stood transfixed with the man in front of the cottage she called home. When he spun around she saw him in all his glory. He had hair the color of a raven's feathers, eyes the gold green of a lions, laughter shined in his face, he had a small almost smile on a face almost set in stone, and he had the tone and build of someone with the love of nature and being in it. But that is not why he made her stand frozen in place. He was her shining knight that frequented her dreams and whispered sweet nothings in her ear.
“What are you doing here?” she asked as she stepped into the light to confront him.
He turned to face her and his jaw dropped as he instantly recognized her. “You’re real?!? B-b-but you can’t be! You’re just a person in a dream!”
“I am as real as my garden, as my cottage, as you. You are a person from a dream, too.” She tried to read his emotions but she came up blank. “Nothing! How can that be?”
“What are you talking about?”
“I cannot feel any of your feelings!” she exclaimed as she edged closer to him intent on touching his cheek.
“You can’t feel what I don’t have,” he said backing away from her until he was backed up and cornered against the cottage.
“Oh, you have feelings, you have plenty of feelings. I just cannot seem to tap into them,” she softly whispered as she came in reach of touching him. When she finally cradled his cheek she felt a jolt shoot up her arm and straight to her heart.
They both gasped and jerked away from each other. In their efforts to get away their eyes locked together. In the other’s eyes they saw the others past and their shared future.
She shrieked, “You are here to kill me!” at the same time he exclaimed, “You’re the true heir to the throne?”
For a moment they were silent.
Finally Naris demanded, “What? I do not know who my parents are. I have lived with Lady Anja for as long as I can remember. So why would you ask someone like me if I am the true heir the throne?”
“But I saw the former King’s and queen’s deaths through your eyes as a baby! The present King Dormic killed them! That’s why he ordered me to kill you. Now it all makes sense,” he explained.
“What? None of that makes any sense!”
“Dormic has always been jealous of King Peter. They were born twins but Peter got everything. The throne. The love of their parents. Of the people. Your mother Aeress. Then you. Peter was the prodigy that everyone loved while Dormic was the black sheep son, the son everyone was wary of. Dormic is a very corrupt man… I’m sorry,” he said as he saw the tears start to gather in her eyes.
“It is not your fault. I just wish I knew what my parents were like. I always envisioned them dying peacefully, but you just said that they were murdered by their own family. We could have been a real, happy family!” she wailed as she started crying in earnest.
At the castle King Dormic paced back and forth in the grand throne room.
“Why hasn’t he killed her yet!?! How hard is it to kill one little girl?” he ranted as a servant came in.
“My liege, he has come,” the man whimpered at the look of outrage on the king’s face at the interruption, then quickly fled from the room.
“Send him to me.”
“Y-yes, m' lord,” a lowly serving wench stammered at his command. She kept her eyes on the ground as she curtsied and fled from the room.
Not but a minute later Sorcerer Zirk walked in.
“You wished to see me?” Zirk inquired with an evil knowing look in his eyes.
It took quite a while but Shadow finally got Naris to calm down. He had so many questions he wanted to ask but he didn’t dare.
Instead he asked, “Are you going to be alright?”
“Yes,” she looked up at him and it’s then that she realized just how close they were and jerked back.
“Do you want me to leave?” he asked with a hurt look. “I’d understand if you did.”
“No!” she cried out as she grabbed his arm.
“You want me to stay? Even though you know I was sent to kill you?”
“Yes. I know you are honorable and will not kill me. I also know I can trust you.”
“Because you would not have been able to find me if you did not have a good heart.”
“You do not know who I am, do you?”
“You’re the princess?” he asked more confused than ever.
“I am the pure witch the kingdom has been waiting for.”
“The pure witch?”
“You do not know the prophesy do you?” she asked bewildered.
“No. King Dormic outlawed any and all talk of the magic casting world almost sixteen years ago. I was still just a baby.”
“The prophesy goes something like this:
'When death is imminent.”
And all hope is lost
When a kingdom cries out for help
She will come
The most powerful witch
A soul so old and pure
When darkness rules
Shadow and Light will unite
Helping each other
And saving their beloved kingdom'
His eyes went wide with shock.
“What is wrong?”
“Is the prophesy in the old language?” he asked, looking as though he had seen a ghost.
“Yes, why do you ask?” Naris asked with a look of complete confusion.
“It is possible that when it mentions shadow and light it might actually be mentioning people. Their names could be Shadow and Light,” Shadow answered.
“Who would name their child shadow or light? That is just silly!”
He did not answer. Instead he just stared down at the ground.
“What? Is something wrong?” Naris asked, concerned that she had said something wrong.
“My name is Eerion, which is an old language name that means shadow. It is why I go by Shadow,” he replied afraid she would laugh at his name.
“Oh… how do you say light?”
He just stood there and went through his mind searching for the correct word. Then it hit him. “The old language word for light is Naris.”
All the blood left her face leaving her extremely pale, her eyes went as big as carriage wheels, and her jaw dropped to the ground.
“Is everything alright?” he worriedly asked.
“That is my name,” she whispered as she stumbled back to sit on the bench on the edge of her garden.
“Your name is Naris? But when you were born Queen Aeress gave you the name Eesarah!”
“My full name is Naris Eesarah Rosedale. I always thought it was coincidence that I have the same surname as the dead queen,” she replied with a look of immense sadness in her eyes as she shook her head in denial.
“Many women have Rosedale as their surname because in the old language it means magic caster. Which is quite peculiar since Queen Aeress was not known as a witch. But even more unusual is what you were named.”
“What is so remarkable about my name?”
“If you were to translate your name from the old language it would be Light, Savior, Magic Caster,” Shadow answered with a perplexed look.
“If my name is so outlandish then what is your full name?”
“Eerion Henary Wulsee. Which roughly translates into Shadow Protector God Child,” Shadow refused to look at her as he said this.
“That is a beautiful name. How did your family get the surname Wulsee?” Naris asked with genuine curiosity.
“To be honest I don’t know. I grew up as an orphan with the king’s army.”
Up in the clouds there lived a family of gods who often gathered around a portal to the mortal world in their palace courtyard. As every other day the gods watched over the mortals, but unlike every other day they watched a young man. A young man who was born from a mortal woman and the head of the family of gods.
“It looks like one of your children has finally made something of himself,” Ishnee, the goddess of peace and betrayal, said.
“Only time will tell,” Harasha, the god of love and war, replied.
“Time is short for them. Nevertheless they do have a couple of advantages,” Sartra, the goddess of fortune and soul mates, said as she walked into the palace courtyard.
“No more than the rest of my children,” Harasha said.
“That is where you are wrong, my brother,” Mondel, the goddess of magic and music, said as she came out with the original scroll of the Great Prophesy.
“What is that in your hands?” Ishnee asked.
“It is the prophesy involving those two,” she said as she pointed to the portal where the picture of Shadow and Naris in her garden was frozen.
“What does the prophesy say? So everyone can understand,” Sartra said.
“The last descendant of the first witch Rosedale and the first child of Harasha who is born of a witch will be soul mates. One will be Light and one will be Shadow. They will be the most powerful beings the mortal world has ever seen. It is them who will depose the false and evil king. They will save the mortals, magic castors, and gods alike. They have the power to save us all or end the world as we know it.”
“The great prophesy is coming to pass?” Harasha asked. “But I have not been with a witch!”
“Do you truly have such poor memory, my brother,” said Calort, the god of fertility and wisdom. “You most certainly have. She was the black haired, green eyed beauty you obsessed over almost seventeen years ago. You went to her several times over the course of several months.”
“But she never said she was a witch! She never even hinted at it!”
“Brother, have you learned nothing?” Mondel scolded.
“Sister, do not be so harsh on him. It is not his fault that he does not think around beautiful women,” Calort said as he rolled his eyes.
“You would think he would have learned from the last time!” Ishnee exclaimed. “Now I’m not saying that I don’t love a good betrayal, but that was too low. Lower than any Wulsee has ever gone before.”
“You can’t still hold that against me! I am not responsible for the actions of my wayward children,” Harasha exclaimed as he glared at his brother and sisters.
“Seriously! If it were not for you and that… child… I would not have had to cast ill fortune on the mortals. Nor would we be in this danger,” Sartra pointed out.
“Alright! I understand! This is all to be my fault. However now it seems I have a son that will correct his brother’s mistakes. Now let’s watch as it comes together.”
“Come in to my cottage. I will make us tea,” Naris beckoned.
“Are you sure? It could tarnish your reputation to be alone with me,” Shadow reminded her, needlessly so.
“Oh, but no harm can befall me in my cottage. I have enchanted my cottage and furnishings so that they will prevent anyone from physically harming me,” she replied walking into her cottage. “Are you coming?”
He looked around almost as though he were waiting for someone to see them and catch him going into a maiden’s house unchaperoned. “Uh… Yes, I’m coming.”
“Good.” She put the kettle over the fireplace. When she turned back to him it felt as though his presence filled the room. Realizing that he was uneasy she gestured for him to sit in one of the light blue overstuffed chairs. Then she went to her cupboards where she pulled out two saucers with matching tea cups.
“How long have you lived here?” Shadow asked trying to be more at ease as he watched her flit around her small cottage kitchen.
‘She looks like a graceful swan,’ he thought.
When she caught him watching, he blushed a dark red.
“I have lived here since I was fourteen. Before that I lived with Lady Anja in town. She taught me everything I might need.” She paused and looked at him, wondering what it was like for him to grow up. “If this is where I call home, then where do you call home?”
“I don’t have a home. I stay in the barracks when I’m in Kingston and under the stars when I’m not. I’ve never had anyone care enough about me to have a home. But it doesn’t matter, because I have everything I’ll ever need,” he surely replied.
Looking into his eyes Naris saw a different story. Even though Shadow was a soldier he longed for something more. For someone to look at him and see that he was worthy of their love.
“What a terrible way to grow up! It must be hard to not have a family,” Naris said hoping he would confide in her.
“You don’t miss what you never had. In many ways I am lucky not to have had a family. I’ve never had to worry about someone back home worrying about my fate or worrying if I’d earn enough to support my family. All my life all I’ve needed to do was look after myself,” Shadow said with a look of longing in his sorrowful eyes.
“That does not make you lucky. That makes you lonely. Never having someone to lean onto when it gets tough, never having someone to confide in when you are confused? That is like living in limbo! That is not actually living life!” she exclaimed.
“Sorry, princess, but not everyone gets everything they want!” he shouted as he jumped up and started to angrily pace, even though he wanted to hit something.
“You think I have everything I want? You think I want to live all alone in the middle of the forest? You think I chose to not have any friends? That I like the fact that for as long as I can remember I have been isolated because of it? Do you think I like being an orphan who has no idea who I am besides a weapon against evil? Do you even want to know the last time I was treated like a normal person?” Naris yelled.
Shadow stood frozen in place and just watched as she ranted. He hadn’t even thought of the consequences of what Naris was.
“I was eight! It has been over eight years since I have been treated like everyone else! Do you know what that can do to someone?”
Tears had started to gather in Naris’s eyes and Shadow felt terrible for being the cause of them. He never wanted to be the cause of a woman’s tears. Yet he was the cause of hers and it just about tore him apart.
“I’m sorry. I never even considered what you have gone through. You must think I am an inconsiderate lout,” Shadow said hoping to take the tears out of her eyes.
“You are not a lout. You just did not think before you opened your big mouth. I am sorry for yelling at you, it was not very lady like,” she replied, trying to wipe the tears from her eyes.
“Who would blame you? I would have done the same thing in your place. I was unfair and inconsiderably rude especially considering I’m a guest.”
“Could we please just pretend that this never happened and just have a nice cup of tea?” Naris asked with a shy little smile.
“Yes, that’d be great,” Shadow replied with an answering grin and chuckle.
“It looks like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” Ishnee commented.
“What does that mean?” Harasha demanded, looking up from the portal where he had just watched his son almost get blown to pieces.
“Calm down, brother. She was just pointing out that your son, much like you, knows exactly how to anger powerful women and then calm them,” Calort said.
“Yes, which in this case is good since he was just moments from becoming a pile of dust to be swept away,” Mondel remarked.
“How do you know?” Harasha asked.
“Because I felt it. That is the most power I have ever felt from any one mortal. Nevertheless I have the feeling that she has not yet shown us how powerful she truly is.”
“Why do you say that?”
“She was able to control it, to reel it back in without hurting anyone. No one can do that when using the full capacity of their magic, not even us.”
“So how powerful is she exactly?” Sartra asked watching Naris with amazement through the portal.
“That I doubt we will find out till she uses the full capacity of her power.”
“Then I hope my son has the sense not to cause too much of her wrath, just as I hope the task put in their hands in not too insurmountable,” Harasha quietly noted.
Shadow and Naris quietly drank their tea. All through the tea time they kept sneaking glances at each other when they thought the other wasn’t looking.
“Why did you agree to come and kill me?” Naris asked needing to know what motivated him to follow orders so blindly.
“I really didn’t have a choice. When the king orders a soldier to do something we have to obey, even if we do not agree. As a soldier my life is not my own, it is my duty to do whatever the king commands. Even if it goes against everything that I believe,” Shadow said with shame at so blindly following orders.
“Why did the king choose you?”
“I’m the best soldier he has. I can out fight any and all of his other soldiers. I’m also the most loyal of all the soldiers. It was obvious that the king truly wanted you dead, mainly because I was chosen to do a job that any of the other lesser soldiers could have easily done.”
“Why would the king want me dead so desperately?”
“In a kingdom as vast as ours there’s only one person who can right his wrong, only one person who can take back the kingdom and make it into the brilliant empire that it has the potential to become,” Shadow replied with great conviction and a gentle smile.
“I never knew what I was… how could he have thought I would want to hurt anyone?”
“He didn’t think. All he could see was that you were a threat against him having all the power.”
“He is pure evil. I have to stop him. How can I stop him when I am just one person?”
“I don’t know, I just don’t know,” he said with a sorrowful look.
“It is almost time,” Anja anxiously said.
“They will do as they are destined to. Do not worry so, the gods’ wills will be done,” Formaggio, a very powerful wizard, stated.
‘We have prepared them as best as we could,’ Kat, the shape shifting witch, projected into their minds.
They all just stared at Kat. She was the newest to the coven, being only eighteen. They often forgot that she could shape shift into any animal and that she often favored the form of a cat. This time she was a white cat with gray spots and a gray and black striped tail, she also had one green eye and one milky blue eye that looked blind. Kat had one of the rarest abilities, one that surpassed her age, and the rest of the coven often forgot what she could do.
“You are right,” Anja declared. “The rest is up to them, I just hope that they will succeed and save us all.”
“From what I have seen and heard they will. It is as much the gods’ wish as it is ours, for if Naris and Eerion do not succeed then the kingdom along with the gods will perish. And no one would survive that,” Katareena, the goddess of spells and the wind, said.
Since the beginning of the coven Katareena had been showing up to give the magic castors news of the future that she foresaw and news from the gods. However none of the members of the coven knew who or what Katareena really was which was exactly what she wanted. Now she was giving them the most important message they had ever received, and the most hope inspiring message.
“How are you supposed to go back when you refuse to do as you were ordered?” Naris asked as she got up to make more tea.
“There is no way I can lie and say I killed you is there?” Shadow worriedly replied.
“No. If I were to die everyone in the kingdom would feel it. It would be as though a huge light had gone out that you didn’t even know you needed but suddenly when it goes out you know you need it and you will never get it back…”
Shadow just sat there, silently, and starred at her. Just pondering what she had said.
“That did not make any sense did it?” she asked. “I never make any sense! If I cannot explain anything to you how am I supposed to explain it to other people?”
“I completely understood you. It’s just that, in my life, I’ve never been around a woman who can so gracefully say what is on her mind and state it with such a style that it makes you sit and think on it. It’s very refreshing,” he replied with a chuckle and smile. “You will definitely be able to explain anything you need to anyone and they’ll understand you perfectly. Not to mention you’ll fully charm everyone you meet.”
“If you say so. How are we going—” she started but was interrupted by a knocking on her door.
“Are you expecting someone?” Shadow asked.
“No. I almost never have any visitors,” Naris replied as she went to open the front door.
When she opened her door she was stunned. At her front door was a beautiful olive skinned young woman. She had eyes that seemed to change colors from violet to sea blue to emerald green. But what was the most striking thing was how much she resembled Shadow, except where Shadow had hair like a ravens feathers she had hair was like spun gold that glittered in the sun light.
“May I help you?” Naris asked finally getting over her shock.
“Not so much as I can help you and Eerion,” the young woman replied.
“How do you know my given name?” Shadow exclaimed.
“I know much about a great deal of things. Knowing of you both is just a little bit of what I know.”
“How can you help us?” Naris asked becoming suspicious.
“I am Katareena. I know more about your situation than any mortal, and that knowledge can help you immensely in your quest.”
“Who are you?” Shadow demanded.
“For starters I am your cousin and another Wulsee. Though I was raised in a different kind of… world,” Katareena carefully replied.
“You know who my parents are!?!”
“Yes. Your mother was a very beautiful and caring woman; it was no surprise that she caught the eye of your father. In truth you mother was like Naris’s mother in many ways.”
“You know who my mother was!?!” Naris demanded as she went into her house and sat down.
“Yes, I was one of her most trusted advisers,” Katareena said walking into Naris’s small cottage.
“How were our mothers similar?” Shadow asked.
“They were both women of power. Aeress was the queen of the kingdom but Hope, Eerion’s mother, was the head witch of one of the biggest covens in our history. They were both the most powerful magic castors anyone had ever seen, that was until you two were born.”
“I’m not a magic castor!”
“Oh, but you are. You just have not realized that you are using magic when you use it. How else do you think that you have survived so long? Or why you are the best at everything you do without even trying?”
“I just assumed that I was lucky and had natural talent. But don’t you have to say a spell to do magic?”
“In most cases you do. But you were blessed by your father, Mondel and me. So even if you were a normal man you would have been able to do extraordinary things, but since you were already a magic castor by birth it enhanced your powers. It is what makes the two of you such formidable opponents.”
Shadow and Naris just sat there and starred at Katareena with dumbfounded looks on their faces. They were struggling with all the information they were being given.
The tea kettle chose that moment to start whistling. Naris quickly got up and grabbed the kettle and sat it on the top of her stove. She got down another tea cup with its saucer and sat it on the table in front of the empty chair for Katareena.
“How are we formidable opponents?” Naris asked picking up the conversation as she poured the tea.
“You truly don’t know?” Katareena incredulously asked.
“No,” Shadow replied looking over at Naris. “We didn’t even know what I was. Actually we didn’t even know of each other before this morning.”
“From what Sartra said you two met over three months ago, and Sartra is never wrong when it comes to soul mates. As for how you are the most formidable opponents it is quite simple. Eerion is the child born of an extremely powerful witch and the head of the gods, and Naris is the prophesied pure witch. Alone you are both the most powerful beings the mortal world has ever seen, but together you are just as powerful, if not more so, than any god. Not to mention as the prophesy says the two of you will determine if the kingdom and the gods end for all time or if they will go on and be prosperous,” Katareena answered as she put sugar in her tea.
Shadow just starred at her, still trying to wrap his mind around the fact that his father was a god. On one hand it made sense to him but on the other hand he couldn’t quite wrap his mind around it.
“Are you alright?” Naris whispered to Shadow.
Shadow just nodded, unable to speak.
“You keep hinting at whom Shadow’s father is, but I still don’t know who he is. Who is he?” Naris asked feeling like this was very important.
“Harasha, who else?” Katareena replied.
“The god of love and war? But I thought he didn’t take excursions into the mortal world.”
“He does. He has a weakness for beautiful women. From what Calort says he cannot think around them, and never has been able to, which angers my mother and her two sisters a lot.”
“Who is your mother?” Shadow asked.
“Mondel. But there are more important matters to speak of than our family,” Katareena replied as she got up and started to walk to the front door. “Are you coming?”
“Where are you going?” Naris asked.
“It’s time that you met your family Eerion and Naris should meet the gods, so she knows exactly who she will be helping to save. So are you coming?”
“Yes,” Shadow and Naris eagerly said in unison.
“What is your daughter up to? Why is she bringing them here?” Harasha demanded of Mondel.
“How am I supposed to know?” Mondel asked.
“She talked to me and we discussed what was the best way to get them to fulfill the prophesy. It’s why I am running late to get here,” Ravyn, the god of prophesies and storms, said as he walked in.
“And you told her to bring them up here! Do you know how bad this could go?”
“Yes I do. But it is the only way that they will succeed. They need to know everything.”
“No mortal has been up here since you!” Harasha exclaimed.
“I know and it has been nearly five thousand years! It is about time we fix that,” Ravyn said as he reached the portal. “They should be arriving any minute now.”
“You should have asked everyone first before telling Katareena to bring them up here!”
“Well, it’s too late now so just deal with it and be courteous when they arrive,” Calort said.
“This should never have happened! They are just mortals; they have not showed their worthiness!”
“Oh, Uncle! Just give it up! They will be up here in just a couple of moments,” Katareena commented as she walked in. “Oh and they are not ‘just mortals.’ After all they have gods blood running through their veins.”
“No, daughter, only one of them has gods blood running in them,” Mondel scolded.
“That is where you are wrong. I felt it in her, especially when her powers spiked.”
“But that can’t be!” exclaimed Calort.
“What can’t be?” Naris asked as she and Shadow walked into the garden holding hands.
Naris and Shadow stopped just a few feet in front of the gods. No one said anything. The gods could not believe their eyes. The two young mortals in front of them started to glow the purest shade of gold. The gods could feel power pulsating from the mortals, the power was greater than anything that they had come against in all their lives. In the eyes of Shadow and Naris the eternal flame could be seen, it had never been seen before. The gods kept staring; they could not fathom what was going on. All they knew was that what was happening was excruciatingly important.
Several very long moments passed.
“Did we do something wrong?” Naris whispered to Shadow.
“I don’t know. I just wish one of them would say something,” Shadow replied.
“What is happening?” Harasha asked the other gods with a bewildered expression.
“I don’t know! This has never happened before, what is causing it?” Calort asked.
“I wish I knew. All I know is that this is important,” Ishnee whispered with wide eyes.
“Maybe we should consult Devereaux. He may know what is happening.”
“Who is Devereaux and what is happening?” Naris asked.
“Devereaux is the keeper of all written and oral histories and works of arts. Can you not tell what is going on?” Katareena answered.
Shaking their heads, Naris and Shadow finally looked at each other. When they saw that they were glowing they jumped apart. As soon as they were no longer touching they stopped glowing, but you could still see the eternal flame.
“What is going on?” Naris demanded.
“I want to see something… Can you two hold hands again?” Harasha commanded more than asked.
“Just do it.”
As soon as they touched they started to glow again, but when they dropped their hands they stopped glowing.
“Oh my gods! Why do we do that?” Naris exclaimed in a high pitched voice.
“I have absolutely no explanations for why that happens… but I have got to say that it is awesome!” Ishnee replied.
“I think it is time to go talk to Devereaux. He might be able to help us figure out whatever— this is,” Katareena said as she gestured towards Naris and Shadow.
"Oh, can you tell us what this is?" Ishnee asked Devereaux.
"I can tell you much, and much you already know, but is this known or is this your mystery," Devereaux replied.
"We have not the time for your riddles, just give us the answer to our question!" Harasha demanded.
"I can only tell you that which is already foretold. I can only read you the truth that was said as you were born." Devereaux went to a book shelf where he picked up a stone tablet, but when he showed it to the gods they could not read it because it was in the language of the gods long passed, the parents of Harasha and his 'siblings.'
"What does it say?" Mondel asked with a forceful authority in her voice.
In response all Devereaux did was show the tablet to Shadow and Naris, and as he had hoped recognition sparked in their eyes. It was with that recognition that he knew that the two in front of him were not the subject of just one but two prophesies. The time had come for the old ways, the present ways, and that which would be the future to combine into the ultimate power that would end only when all the worlds' injustices had been righted.
"I thought the gods knew everything, can they really not read?" Naris quietly asked Shadow.
"How dare you say such a thing!" Harasha bellowed as he went to lung at her.
Shadow quickly stepped in front of Naris to protect her if it was needed, falling into his fighting stance with a look of warning in his eyes as he glared at the gods.
"Wait, brother!" Calort exclaimed as he held Harasha back. Then turning to Shadow and Naris he asked, "You can read that which is inscribed on the tablet?"
"Yes. Why does that come as a surprise? We were taught how to read, even as an orphan in the king's army I was allowed that one luxury," Shadow replied with a scowl as he straightened up and protectively put his arm around Naris and tucked her into his side.
"Why it comes as a surprise is because there is no way anyone in the mortal world could have taught you to read that writing," Ishnee explained.
"How do you know that we could not have been taught it?" Naris demanded raising her chin in defiance.
"Because what is written on that tablet is in the language of the old gods, a language even we do not know how to read," Ravyn said with awe in his voice.
It was now clear to all that Shadow and Naris were even greater than what was previously thought and the gods were even more confused than ever as to what was to come and why it was as it was.
"But how can that be? Did your parents never teach you to talk or read or write?" an unbelieving Shadow asked.
The gods remained silent, refusing to give breath of what had happened so long ago.
"Did we do something wrong?" Naris murmured.
"I do not know," Shadow whispered back.
It was then that Naris decided she would see if she could use her powers on the gods and reached out to them with her empathy. What she felt made her stagger back and sink to the floor.
"What is it? Are you all right?" Shadow anxiously asked as he caught her.
"So much pain-- hurt-- anger. It is too much! Why did I try to feel it? Please make it stop! Oh, please. Please!" Naris sobbed, her body wracked with the anguish as she reluctantly let each sob escape.
"It is all right. Everything will be alright. Just take deep even breaths. Come on, honey. You can do it," a gentle voice whispered.
Slowly Naris calmed down and started to take deep breaths. With each breath she breathed out the pain lessened more and more.
"That is it. Just keep breathing and everything will be all right."
In front of Naris a form started to appear in a shimmering white light. The light was gentle and gave off a feeling of love and safety. It was a feeling those in the room had not felt since they came into the world and it was one they wanted to keep. The lightly slowly faded and in its place was a woman. She wore a white Grecian dress with gold arm bands and a thin banded crown on her head nestled on silky curls. Her hair was a golden red, like that of the sunsets, and flowed gracefully past her knees. She had a tanned complexion and was barefoot. Her eyes were a swirling silver-white and her lips as red as though she had just eaten bowls full of pomegranate seeds.
"Who are you?" Naris gasped.
"I am Mitera."
"It cannot be," Devereaux exclaimed in a choked whisper.
"Hello, Devereaux. Hello, my children."
"W-who are you? What are you? Why are you here? How are you here?" Harasha, Calort, Ravyn, and Shadow asked in wobbling voices with fear in their eyes.
"I am mother of all more ancient than anything you have seen. I am here for my daughter cried out her need for me," Mitera replied.
"Is it just me or is she speaking in a different language?" Shadow asked the others.
"She is speaking in the language older than my parents," Harasha whispered back.
"But how is that possible? No one has spoke and understood that language in several millennium!" Calort quietly exclaimed, suspiciously casting glances at the women who had gathered around Mitera and were fawning over her.
"I do not know how she speaks it, all I do know is that whatever is happening this is only just the start. I fear there is yet much to come," Ravyn solemnly said.
"She knew Devereaux's name and he obviously knew who she was," Shadow commented. The three gods just looked at him. "What? I am right. Did you see how he reacted when she said who she was? He was in such disbelief that she was here."
"That is true. It was almost as though he had seen a ghost, someone he thought was lost to him for the rest of time."
Calort looked around for Devereaux but didn't see him anywhere. "Where in Tartarus did he go?" Calort demanded.
"I don't know but I believe that the answers lie with him," Shadow said.
Shadow walked away in search of Devereaux with the gods just watching him. He walked away as though he were about to go take the weight of the world onto his own shoulders, yet at the same time he held his head high with pride and defiance and he walked with an attitude of someone that knew that nothing could touch him.
"I do not understand that kid," Harasha muttered.
"He is a lot like you as a young one. Full of pride and defiance, just waiting for someone to come along and challenge you," Calort said as he clapped his brother on the back.
"I do not see how he is a son of yours," Ravyn said with a shake of his head. "He is nothing like any other child of a god. It is as though he thinks he has to always be the hero to atone for mistakes that are not his... I have never seen anything quite like it before."
"None of us have. Maybe he will be our salvation after all. But before we can even start to contemplate on that we have to find Devereaux and make him tell us who she is and what is going on with your son and that girl."
"I have a feeling that this day is just going to keep getting worse... this is not what I was anticipating this morning when Katareena and I set this plan in motion."
"Well, us standing around here talking is not going to give us the answers. Plus I do not feel that comfortable with my son walking around up here-- who knows what sort of trouble he can get into. And let us hope that he does not cross paths with Sparalinna, that is one thing that would make death by torture look like a picnic in the park," Harasha quickly growled as he rushed after Shadow.
After a shared look of pure terror at the thought of Sparalinna being provoked and taking it out on them, Ravyn and Calort quickly ran after Harasha and Shadow.
"Now if I were an immortal historian, where would I hide?" Shadow asked himself not knowing he did so out loud.
'Who is this halfling that dares wander my halls?" Sparalinna, the goddess of torment and pain, thought.
'He may be here to see the other gods,' Jaren, her pet lioness, replied.
"I know! I'd be in the library or a study or my room or... well, actually I could be just about anywhere. So I am back to square one. I guess I will just have to start with one section at a time..." Shadow answered. "That will only take... who knows how long-- maybe twenty years!"
'He is an odd one, is he not?' Jaren asked, leaning her golden head to the side.
'That he is my sweet. But I still demand an answer, why is he here?' Sparalinna asked.
"I will never find him in time! How are we supposed to save everyone? We are only yet children ourselves! And why are all these people coming to us now? Why can we understand her? Why did no one tell me that I was such an abomination-- that I was part witch and part god!?"
'Well, he just answered your question... but now I have a question-- are all humans like this?' Jaren asked.
'I do not know. But I think we will help him," Sparalinna replied as she looked down at Jaren.
'Because he is my kind of human," Sparalinna said as she steped out of the shadows right in front of Shadow.
"Whoa! Who are you? Where did you come from? Why do you have a lion? Is the lion going to eat me?" Shadow asked as he warily eyed Jaren.