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Authors: Jason Tesar

The Awakened: Book One (30 page)

BOOK: The Awakened: Book One
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The time went by at an agonizingly slow pace as the cloaked man made his way through more than half of the prisoners before coming to Saba.  Although the man stood almost a foot shorter than Saba, like all the other guards and prisoners, he was still intimidating.  Even at such close proximity, Saba was unable to see his face through the shadow cast by the thick hooded cloak.

Suddenly, the man’s hand snaked out and grabbed him by the chin.  Twisting Saba’s face from side to side with incredible strength, he stepped closer.  After a full minute of silence, he let go.  Saba exhaled his breath and lowered his gaze to the ground, apparently passing the inspection.  He began to feel dizzy and took a few deep breaths, but his vision was beginning to blur.  The ground started to spin around his feet
and Saba quickly shut his eyes to make it stop.

 

{Ahh…Sariel!}

 

A voice forced itself into Saba’s mind, pushing his own thoughts aside.

 

{I’ve found you at last}

 

Saba opened his eyes and looked at the cloaked figure who was still standing in front of him.

 

{Yes,}

{That’s right.}

{You didn’t think I would forget about you, did you?}

 

Though Saba couldn’t see his face, somehow he knew that the words were not coming from his mouth.  Saba looked around at the guards who were now taking the remainder of the prisoners away.  None of them were speaking.  Saba looked back to the shadow beneath the hood.  “How are you doing that?  Who is Sariel?”

 

{You don’t ask the questions here.}

{Not this time!}

 

The voice in Saba’s head exploded with fury.

 

{You had your chance and now it’s my time!}

 

Saba was confused.  He heard the man’s voice in his head, without hearing him speak.  It was as if he was hearing the man’s thoughts.

“Take him to the chamber and get rid of the rest of these,” the robed man
said audibly and in a completely different voice, waving a hand dismissively at the other old men.

Suddenly, Saba was being pushed across the courtyard toward one of the smaller buildings, in the opposite direction from the rest of the prisoners.  A guard ran ahead and produced a set of keys, unlocking the door into the small structure.  Just as Saba reached the doorway, he heard screams.  He only had time to glance over his shoulder before being shoved through the door, catching a glimpse of smoke pouring from the windows of the large stone building where the other prisoners had been taken.

Saba
stumbled to the ground just inside the doorway.  When he lifted his head, he saw a square room, twenty feet across, with stone walls and floor.  There were no windows or features of any kind, aside from a small hole in the floor at one corner.  The thick wooden beams that made up the ceiling were the only break in the visual monotony of the room.  Saba scrambled on his hands and knees to the other side of the room before turning around and sitting against the wall.

The cloaked man entered the room and held up his hand.  “Leave us,” he said to the guards, who promptly did as they were told, locking the door behind them.  “Now,” he turned his attention toward Saba, “I have someone who wants to speak with you.”

Saba
quickly looked around the room, wondering if they were alone.  The room was completely empty.  He looked back to the mysterious figure whose head was bowed and arms crossed.  His body seemed to shudder before he lifted his head and resumed a more normal body language.  Once again, Saba felt an overwhelming sense of dread that made him feel dizzy with nausea.

When the man spoke it was not with the inaudible thoughts as before, but his voice was also not his own.  “Sariel, you were a hard one to find, though I didn’t expect you to make it easy for me.  Nevertheless, I succeeded.”

“You must have me confused with someone else,” Saba replied, at once confused and terrified.

“Ha!” barked the man.  “Do you not recognize your old friend?  Surely the depth of your treachery cannot be so easily forgotten?  I admit the physical manifestation is a bit of a change,” he conceded, waving a hand in front of himself, “but you must be joking?”

“I’m afraid I don’t know what you are talking about,” Saba pleaded.

The man took a few steps closer and knelt down, pulling the hood of his cloak back away from his head.  Saba’s confusion fled, replaced with a feeling of disgust.  The man’s eyes were rolled back in their sockets and his facial features were contorted, as if struggling to resemble something they were never meant to.  When the man spoke again, Saba realized that he was not conversing with the man before him, but whatever had taken control of his body and mind.

“You honestly don’t know me anymore.”  The statement seemed to come as a complete shock to the man.

Suddenly, Saba’s vision blackened and he fell on the floor, unable to control himself.  Images flashed in his mind.  Maeryn, Kael, Adair, scenes from their time in
Bastul
flashed through his mind in a random succession.  Saba felt as if his head would explode from the pressure.  Places and people whirled by from a time when Saba was looking for
Bastul
.  Then, the images stopped.  For a few moments, there was only darkness.  The pain was the most excruciating thing Saba had ever experienced. 
He’s looking for something…in my mind.

A sharp pain exploded in the front of Saba’s head, and more images flashed through his mind, things that he had never seen before. 
Are they memories of the past?  Visions of the future?
  As soon as the question formed in his mind, Saba realized that these were old memories from a time before he lost his memory.  Then, the images stopped.  Saba could see again.  He was lying on the floor of the small building with his face on
the stone floor.  He tried to move, to sit up, but his body was limp with exhaustion.  Then the voice in his head spoke once more.  Calmly this time.

 

{I knew it was you.}

 

The words or thoughts disappeared from Saba’s mind and the man began to speak audibly once more.

“How fortunate that you should lose your memory after what you did to me.  I often wondered how you were able to live with yourself.
  In your mind, you are a different person.  But that doesn’t change what happened.  For thousands of years I have been alone with my thoughts, trapped in a prison of your making.  I have been waiting for an opportunity to return and take my revenge, and it has presented itself.  It is so close now that I can taste it.  For now, you will stay confined to this jail until I can come and deal with you myself.  My only regret is that your sentence won’t last as long as mine.  You will die much too soon.”

Saba
watched from the floor, still unable to move, as the hem of a black robe passed in front of his face and floated across the room.  The door opened and the man’s cloaked silhouette stood in the doorway.

“Enjoy your new home,” the man spoke, with his own voice this time.  Then the door was shut and locked and Saba heard only silence.

Chapter 18

 

The bright sunlight did little to warm Kael as he sat on a rock outcropping overlooking the ocean.  The air was cold and still, except for the occasional gust of wind.  There were hardly any clouds to be seen in the whole sky, though it would not have mattered to Kael anyway.  He sat, legs crossed, with his eyes closed.  He had found this spot shortly after arriving at the monastery; though, at that time, it wasn’t the hiding place that it had now become.  Seven years had passed, and with each year, Kael felt more and more distant from the people around him.  His heart had grown heavy and he couldn’t figure out why.  But it was always therapeutic to hear the ocean and feel the breeze on his face.  Some days, when he had free time, he would sit in this place for hours with his eyes closed and try to feel everything that was happening around him.  Today was no different.

Darkness filled his vision, but his memory, in combination with his imagination completed the picture.  Years of watching the waves below, the wind as it passed through the pale grasses in the field behind him, told his mind what should be happening when his eyes were closed.  The sound of his heart beating was loud in his head, even though he was not doing anything strenuous.  He had lost track of how long he had been in this position, but it didn’t matter.  It was soothing to his soul.

He tried to think back over the time he had spent in this place and the friends he had made.  Even though he knew almost everything there was to know about each of his brothers, as they called each other, he was sure that they all knew far less about him.  With the passing of time he found it harder to relate to those around him.  Even the things he was learning in class made less sense lately.  Sometimes Ukiru would be teaching a subject and it would remind Kael of a long time ago, when he and Saba would talk for hours.  It seemed like he was doing more listening than talking lately.

Kael tried to push the thoughts out of his head.  He had been dwelling on this matter for too long now and was tired of it consuming his mind.  He took a deep breath and replaced the negative imagery in his head with the soothing feeling of nature.  He could feel the air stir to his left and blow gently across his face.  He imagined all of his negative thoughts floating away on the breeze.  He imagined them tumbling and dancing like leaves off the cliff and out over the water.  Occasionally one of the leaves would fall from the group and swirl downward until it was too small to see.  The rest kept tumbling into each other as they moved farther away until they too were lost to sight.  Somewhere off to the right, just above the cliff face, he imagined the air stirring, driven by a lone seagull.  It flew in from the ocean and hovered for a second above the rocks before spreading its wings for the slow descent of its landing.  When it reached the ground, it let out a screech as it tucked its wings close to its body.

Kael suddenly felt silly to be imagining such things, even though it was fun to let his mind wander for a time.  He opened his eyes to the bright sun and blinked at its harshness, unable to stop himself from yawning.

A second screech sounded and Kael glanced to his right.  It took him a second to realize that the seagull perched on the rocks, only thirty feet away, was real.  He shook his head and looked back, but the bird was still there.  He slowly got to his feet and watched as the bird, previously unaware of his presence, leaped off the cliff and spread its wings to catch the air.  It glided for a while before it began to beat its wings, slowly descending to the beach below.

Did I watch the seagull come to a landing, or were my eyes really closed when it happened?
  Kael continued to watch the bird as it retreated. 
No.  I’m sure I had my eyes closed the whole time.
  But just as he came to that conclusion, he dismissed the idea as impossible. 
If I had my eyes closed, then I saw it in my mind before it even made a sound.  I’m definitely not feeling well.
  Turning around, Kael headed back to the monastery to get some sleep.

 

Kael slept from before sundown until the next morning.  He awoke feeling refreshed and realized that it had been quite some time since he had slept so well.  The morning’s activities passed in a blur, as they usually did, and Kael found himself in the arena, standing next to the other young men, awaiting the opportunity to act upon the instruction of Ukiru.  The instructor, who was now only taller than a few of his pupils, paced back and forth in front of the group.

“In combat, a warrior may easily find himself in a situation beyond his control.  Facing a number of adversaries at once may be such a situation.  Regardless of how much you train and practice the skills of fighting, there are times when you cannot control what is happening around you.  The only way to prepare for such a time is to be able to recognize a bad situation and avoid it before you become trapped.  Today we will split up and each of you will have a group of adversaries from whom you will have to retreat and defend yourself.  Offensive tactics are not allowed in today’s training.  The way to succeed today is to avoid being trapped by the enemies who outnumber you and to hold out for as long as possible.”

BOOK: The Awakened: Book One
13.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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