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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Excerpt book 3

The warm light of the portal washed over her as they approached, melting some the anger that was simmering in her head. She stole a quick glance at James as he neared her side, moving along with her and Alice. The look he gave her was determined yet filled with regret; it was the closest they were going to get to some kind of momentary cease fire. He wasn’t sorry about what he said, just how he said it; asking her to forget about Thomas, as if that could ever happen. She knew they were talking amongst themselves now; Thomas had wasted what little strength he had left to argue with her and persuade James to continue with the bullying. He had retreated into the pagoda and refused to respond. It was all so stupid, she knew what she had to do and she wasn’t about to let them talk her out of it. Thomas was not going to walk out of her life like that and she wasn’t going to let James help him. They were three, connected so closely at one point it was hard to tell whose thought had originated in whose head. It had changed over the time she was gone, they had changed, but whatever made them as close as they were, was struggling to keep the connection strong, remodeling itself to accommodate the changes that time had inflicted on them. She still loved James in the same way she had before, it hadn’t changed for her, but it had for him, he had felt the bond between her and Thomas deepen and it bothered him. Despite the pain, he understood that they were joined forever in a way that only those like them could ever know and he was determined to keep her safe. He and Thomas were working against her, trying to stop the inevitable. What they both failed to realize however was that she understood that sometimes love required sacrifice and she was willing to sacrifice to make this right. That’s exactly what they did not want her to do. James, for his part was pushing at her just as hard to get his point across, wanting only to keep her safe and focused; trying to honor Thomas’ last request of him. He fought with his need to comfort her and the desire to get through to her, stubborn girl. In the past he would have found dealing with her like this to be a bit more intimidating, he knew she was stronger than him, her gifts were enhanced yet not operating at full capacity. But he was growing stronger too; he felt it the moment the shift had begun. When the Keepers had left, warmth had spread through him, like the presence of a thousand souls passing through his body. They were whispering to him, imparting wisdom as they left, telling him that the world was going crazy and that he was the voice of reason; capable of calming and controlling those left to deal with the insanity. His voice was all that was required to hold back the evil instincts that now resided in all those occupying the surface. There were still those that could resist, but he could get through to so many of them. Sara was the key to finding Braccus’ weak spot and it was now his job to make sure that she stayed safe, whether she liked it or not. Not, she shot back before turning to Alice and holding out her hand. Alice in turn took James’ hand and they moved slowly through the opening. We will not be afraid Alice heard Sara’s voice in her head, trying to convince her of this but knowing that they already were. Thankful for the effort, she squeezed her friend’s hand and walked through the opening in front of her. The narrow opening only allowed for them to enter single file, each grasping the hand of the person in front. Somehow Sara had managed to angle herself in front of Alice and had to listen to James giving her a good verbal thrashing for her efforts. He inserted herself into her head, looking at everything as she saw it, his powers of persuasion ready to go through her if necessary to protect her. She was angry with him, but grudgingly accepted his pushy behavior, sure that she could have ejected him any time she wanted, well almost sure. He was putting out a little bit more energy than she had felt from him before, causing a stir of protest from Thomas indicating he had noticed something too. She felt his anger for just an instant and then it was gone, as if he remembered that he wasn’t going to interact with her at all and retreated to the place he had been relegated to. He wasn’t supposed to be here, she should have let him go but James was going stronger, getting closer to her and even though he resented being here, he resented James being where he was more. Thomas paced restlessly across an ornate tile floor; the patterns embossed on the smooth surface were very beautiful. He knew she had something to do with that. The pictures were all of growing things, very realistically created to bring pleasurable memories of his youth and doing what he loved so much. Needing to connect to her somehow, despite his resolve not to, he looked through the window of the pagoda and froze. The landscape he was familiar with, the one he had created for her years ago, with the pleasant green grass and large trees had been replaced with a land stripped bare of all living things. Blackened earth was all he saw, littered throughout with large gaping holes and filled with black goo; the earth was bleeding from vicious wounds, inflicted upon it by someone filled with hate. Dead trees lined the ground, their bare limbs sticking up in the air like arms reaching for the sky seeking some sort of assistance from above, assistance that had not been granted. Where was this place? Thomas surveyed the scene, looking for a clue; reaching outward with his senses, trying to connect with the land, make it tell him what he was seeing. As if responding to his query, a hazy object shimmered into view and his gaze was drawn to a large structure looming in the distance. The building, an eerie three story monstrosity with a peaked roof bordered by some kind of fancy wooden trim, only this trim moved, making a tinkling sound in the wind. He squinted to get a better look at the house, and was surprised, well not really, to note that his vision adjusted quite quickly. It was like wearing glasses with some kind of super zoom lenses, he could now see clearly that the trim was constructed of bones. Human leg bones hung neatly next to a row of slender finger bones, arm and ankle bones. Among the grisly connection, a skull hung directly in the center of the top most peak of the roof; it hung there with a permanent grin, swinging in the breeze, empty sockets staring out at the desolate land. The hulking construction, painted a strange color of black and red, squatted in the center of a field. The lower level boasted a large covered porch on each side of the building facing north, south east and west with a bright red door sitting dead center of each of them. Each subsequent level had a row of windows that covered the entire side of the grotesque abode, each of which was filled with panes of dull red glass, glowing in the semi darkness like pools of old blood. His vision was astoundingly acute now, it was as if he were rotating above the house, taking in every detail in a three dimensional panorama, seeing each side of it and the land below. The house itself appeared to be resting on a mountainous pile of dead tree trunks, limbs, broken stone, and various other pieces of refuse from the land around it. A path of crushed black stone descended from each entrance and ran the length of the field, disappearing into darkness past piles of rubble and pacing forms of enemy soldiers. He noted with interest that each of the four roads descending from the structure was patrolled by small groups of Ornose; their fat bloated gray bodies shared space with one or two pale stick thin figures he knew to be Garren, all turned toward small pools of light just to the right of each path, staring at them fixedly as if waiting for something to emerge. Thomas shook his head as the vision changed and he was looking directly at Alice’s lovely face. He was glad to see her again; it was then that he realized he was seeing all this through Sara’s eyes. She turned her head and he was facing James, jealousy flared up, burning painfully through his stomach, making him a little bit sick. He turned from the window, took a deep breath and looked up again, facing the scene with tear filled eyes. At first the picture he was receiving was a little hazy and he felt a sudden jolt, as if she were just returning part of herself to her physical form. He had been part of the storm with her, watching what he knew to be the remnants of one of the worlds. He felt her sorrow at seeing the changes that had occurred to what had been a beautiful place. She had never been here but she knew it intimately through memories passed on to her from Shalsar. This was the Land of Sherin, one of the worlds next to the Land of the Keepers and it, like all the other worlds was suffering through the shift in power. Thomas had visited Sherin many times, he had a feel for places and even before he picked up Sara’s thoughts, he recognized what little was left of this one. It had been the home of wonderful creatures called the Surrens, little pale rose colored creations with light purple hair and soft cherubic features. Plump rosy cheeks and big pink eyes with long dark lashes gave them the appearance of innocent young children, an impression that was soon dispelled once they spoke. They were highly intelligent, acting swiftly and often ruthlessly to do their intended task. Adept at moving in and out of the different worlds, they were charged with watching, much like the Keepers did but with a slightly darker purpose. Their mission was to watch evil’s comings and goings and limit its access through the portals. A mission they accomplished by attacking their enemies with the wickedly sharp daggers carried at their sides, sending their bodies back into the abyss they had emerged from as Iam dictated, or if it was to be allowed, letting a few pass through to their intended destination. Evil was an understood companion to all that was good, its presence was acknowledged as part of the balance; it was to be tolerated only to a certain extent and then allowed to advance no further. Iam had charged the Surren with keeping the tide of evil from becoming too heavy in all the worlds. Sherin was in fact, the center point of entry between worlds and had served as a watch tower and major fortress against the shadowy figures that spread hatred and discontent by slipping through the portals to infiltrate the populations of various creations. Several tall ivory towers had stood in this spot overlooking the portals, joined by a wall of thick stone, where the deceptively mild looking inhabitants had tirelessly kept watch, going into action to remove a threat when the need arose. The buildings were gone now, as well as the lovely blue grass that used to carpet the countryside. The black barked trees with golden leaves were flattened; pieces of the glittery foliage visible beneath the ugly building now blocking the crossroads. He continued to observe this world through the window, feeling his friend’s nervousness as they stood cloaked by Alice’s bubble, not sure which direction to take, every movement fraught with uncertainty. James was sending out mental feelers into the heads of the guards that watched the roads at various points, standing just outside the shimmering portals of various colors hanging in the air just a few hundred feet from the huge building. They were watching for any signs of entry, just as the Sherin had before but their intent was to kill anyone that came through. Sara and her friend’s entrance had caused a slight ripple in the west portal but James had convinced them that it was just an energy fluctuation while Alice’s shield had hidden them from view. Alice had managed to warn them with her vision of what lay beyond the barriers, preparing them somewhat for what they were walking into, but it was still shocking to see the changes that had occurred because of the shift. Sara was using Shalsar’s memories to find out what they needed to do next, scared to make any sudden moves lest they be detected. They stood frozen on the path as enemy eyes turned toward the flickering doorway, the faint ripple and sparks that accompanied their entry had created a sudden interest in the area around it. Twelve red eyes glowed in the poor lighting as two Ornose moved toward them, trodding heavily on the ground, lips pulled back in grins of anticipation as they scanned the surrounding area looking for potential victims, only to stop short when James’ suggestion took effect. Three very relieved travelers sagged against each other, stifling sighs as James directed the watchers to turn and walk away, gazing intently on the ground for signs of movement. As they stood perfectly still trying to decide which way to proceed, Thomas looked toward the porch, his eyes drawn there by the movement of a door swinging outward. A tall dark haired figure moved slowly onto the porch and into the dim lighting that was standard for this new world. A shaft of sunlight so weak it barely penetrated the wall of clouds in front of it, shone down onto the figure illuminating the face clearly causing Thomas to catch his breath and turn away. He couldn’t stand to see his own face staring straight at the spot where his friends stood hidden, smiling as if he just won the lottery.

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