Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Brothers Tuerl & The Staffs of Zeus - 19

Chapter 19-Helen
Six days had passed since the two brothers had found this strange world of magic, and yet Idus remained in his unconscious state.  At times his body made slight convulsions, whether from the enormous strain on his weary body, or from whatever lay in his thoughts, no one could tell.  How long he would lie in this comatose state, they could only guess.  His mother had hardly left his side the past few days.  Irgen and AndrĂ© would sit for long periods of time with her.  They often saw her holding her hand over his head as though wishing she could heal him, but he did not need to be healed.  He needed his energy to be restored within him.
Irgen too, had spent hours trying to access the link between them, in the hope he could give him his own energy, but try as he might, he could not.  It was as though he needed to be able to stare deep into those powerful eyes of his brother, to access such a strong link, but this too was impossible.  Idus’ eyes had remained solidly shut throughout his unconsciousness.  Trying to pry the lead eyelids open only resulted in fruitless failure.
Despite their many efforts, Idus’ seemed to fade deeper and deeper into the shadows.  Hope began to flutter away as his condition worsened.  His breathing became more ragged and uneven.  The convulsions on his body were getting worse and more frequent.  They could easily give him food through magic, but it seemed to do no good.  On the contrary, after every feeding it seemed he got worse and worse.  Despair overtook Jennifer.  Irgen and AndrĂ© had to spend many hours comforting the miserable mother.
Irgen’s only comfort was the fact that on the fourth morning Helen had awoken.  She had long been bereft of any friends her age in the order, and after being told of what Irgen had done for her, she had become comfortably (or so Irgen thought) attached to him.  At first Irgen had stayed away from her, because whenever he was around her he seemed to lose control of his senses, and he always found himself doing something stupid.  He found her to be even more beautiful now that she was awake.  Her light brown eyes lit up her stunning face.  Her graceful movements made Irgen feel even more out of place.  More than that, it did not help his confidence to note that she was only a couple of inches shorter than him.
She did not seem to care that Irgen was ungainly.  In fact, it seemed to make her happy that he was that way around her, and after quite some time of being around her, Irgen began to feel more at ease.  He slowly regained control of himself, and eventually was able to be his usual witty self.
As they talked together, Irgen found that Helen had been an orphan since the age of ten, when both of her parents were killed while fighting for the Knights.  Thomas had taken her under his wing and brought her to The White Citadel.  Here she had been trained in combat and magic, but it wasn’t until she turned sixteen a year ago that she found herself able to use magic.  Soon thereafter Thomas crafted a beautiful white, slender staff for her, and she had been admitted into the Knights at a very uncommonly young age.
Since that time she had done small tasks for the Knights trying to prove herself.  Her first real assignment had been to help get the brothers.  It was then that she and her companions had been ambushed and she had received the life threatening wound in her side. 
Irgen automatically assumed that this meant she was not very good with the sword, but when he asked Thomas about it he corrected him.  Thomas told him that she was the most terrifying woman he had ever seen bear a sword.  After all he had personally trained her since she was ten.  Irgen thought with a touch of sadness, that if Idus were awake he would have definitely got him to fight her, and after he lost, he would spend years making fun of him for losing to a girl.  But, as Irgen thought gloomily, right now the privilege of making sport of his brother was not offered him.
On this sixth day, Irgen awoke and went out on the grounds, trying to get away from the gloomy feeling which permeated the atmosphere in the castle.  He walked slowly but purposefully outside onto the short soft grass, a soft cool breeze caressed the depressed features on his face.  For a second it seemed as though he were back in normal life.  He felt like he had just left his cramped little cottage on a cold spring morning.  He peered thoughtfully at the high walls in front of him.  Seeing the stairs to the left of the wall he headed towards them.
As he mounted the steps he felt a tinge of agony in his stomach as he thought of mounting these steps with his brother only six days before.  He stood still there for a moment, like a tree which has lain motionless for hundreds of years on top of a windswept peak.  Finally he shook his head and took an agonizingly painful step forward.
He walked to the top of the steps and cast his gaze outward.  The castle had moved to a cliff overlooking the sea.  Waves beat against the large stubborn rocks below.  No one truly knew where they were.  Thomas had told Irgen that it normally took days to figure out where the castle had been moved to, because you couldn’t just teleport there, you had to hike and find a Spartan who could tell you where you were.  He said there was a time when the castle had been moved into the Sahara Desert, and it took years for them to find out where they were.
As Irgen stood there, he thought of how unforgiving the waves of time and fate truly were.  He thought with bitterness of how tomorrow would be his and his brother’s sixteenth birthday, but Idus would be robbed of it, and perhaps, Irgen thought with fear, he would be robbed of the rest of his life.  Perhaps he would never have the chance to tease his brother, to play with him, the chance to be there for each other.  Animosity began to flow into his heart, as he thought of the fleetingness of life.  He thought of how little he had truly come to appreciate his brother.  He closed his eyes and clenched his palms as hatred and sadness fought to overcome him.  A tear rolled down his cheek as he blinked up into the clear blue morning sky.
A voice behind him jolted his mind back into a sane state.  It was Helen, and her clear, soft harmonious voice rang out.  “Good morning Irgen.”  He turned, hastily wiping the tear from his face.
“Oh umm, hey Helen,” he cleared his throat trying to get rid of his newfound gruff voice. She walked onto the battlements until she was beside him, but instead of saying something, she merely turned and with a sigh looked out over the raging waters before them.  Irgen glanced longingly at her steadfast face.  “What is it that makes those eyes so firm?”  He thought to himself, “She lost both of her parents, and here I am losing my brother.  Where does she find her strength?”  Irgen tore his eyes away and closed them dejectedly.  When he opened them again he found Helen staring pointedly at him. 
“It is a shame that those we love cannot always enjoy such beautiful days as this…  I know it’s hard Irgen, love like that is something that we never want to throw away, but now it becomes us to love them now.  They can’t enjoy it, but we can, and in so doing we are happy and they are happy, and that deep love within us continues because we do it with a much greater purpose.”  Her voice trembled slightly.  “Days such as these are given to lighten the heart, and freshen the mind.  It is not our choice to decide who gets to enjoy these days with us.  All we have to decide is what our portion of the day will become.”  She sighed and once again looked out over the wall.
“Que sera, sera, whatever will be will be, eh?”  Irgen replied bitterly as he peered out over the cliff.  “Do you really think we have a choice in the matter?  Does our will really matter?”  He turned and looked back at her face.
“Of course it matters, Irgen.  It is not for us to resign ourselves to the fate which is ours to have.  Eventually every person will create their own long-foreseen doom, but it is always that person’s choice.  It is our decision what we will eventually become, and what will eventually happen to us.”
“Look-Irgen.  Idus and you made some difficult choices over the past few days, and both of you did marvelously.  Both of you did things which few mages, if any have done, and neither of you were sixteen.  I for one… am proud of you.”  She peered awkwardly back towards the sea as though too embarrassed to continue, but suddenly warmth flooded into Irgen’s heart.  It was something which had been mysteriously absent for the past few days.  He looked at Helen’s beautiful face as the wind blew back her sleek black hair revealing the striking features of her face.
“Helen…  Why is there such emphasis put on the fact that we can do magic before we are sixteen?  Why is that strange?”
“It is strange, because no one has ever done magic before their sixteenth birthday, not even the four brothers who began our order.  You see, a conjurer’s powers do not normally infuse themselves with a person’s blood until their sixteenth birthday.  There are only two times in a person’s life when an element manifests itself to its bearer.  The first time is at birth.  On a baby’s first night in the world a flash of light will take place at midnight, manifesting what element will enter that child, but after that it will disappear, and will not come back until the child turns sixteen at which time the elemental master will appear to make the child swear loyalty to his given order.”
“Swear loyalty?”  Irgen asked thoughtfully.  “What do you mean?”
“I mean that the leader of your element will come and make you swear that you will be loyal to your own element’s clan.  For example I was sworn in by your father who is the leader of the water clan---”
“What! My father???”
“Yes, the leader of the water clan has always been a direct descendent of Alecto, and you and your father are no different.”  Irgen bit his tongue thinking what else his father did not want to tell him.  “Anyway as I was saying Irgen, you and your brother are different.  You see it’s said when you were born your elements manifested themselves immediately, as though the elements themselves couldn’t wait until midnight.  And what’s more all conjurers cannot use their element until they are sworn in and they are GIVEN the power to use it, but you two already seem to have your own power without swearing loyalty to anyone.  You two are unique, Irgen, for you owe no loyalty to any of the vying clans.  You do not have to join in the useless bloodshed which has plagued our race for thousands of years.”
“It will all be your own choice; you have before you your own road, a road which has hitherto lain untraveled and barren.  Perhaps it will be a desolate road, fraught with trials and a lot of troubles, but always remember Irgen, the more difficult the road, the more rewarding the prize at the end.”  She paused before saying.
“I do not think that this will be Idus’ end.  I see before the two of you many afflictions.  You will not have it easy, but Irgen, if I am allowed, you will not face those trials alone.”  She stopped speaking, her bosom was heaving heavily from the emotionally draining speech.

Irgen smiled elatedly to himself as they both turned to leave.  He thought that there were few honors he would value more than having her as his constant companion.

Chapter 18                Chapter 20

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