Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Brothers Tuerl & The Staffs of Zeus - 7

Chapter 7-Many Things Explained
As they entered, they felt as if they had been plunged into a bucket of cold water.  It seemed the midday heat from the outside could not penetrate the cold stone walls of the tower, and yet the cold did not seem to pierce their skin very deeply at all.  Irgen and Idus noticed it had all the affects of being cold and refreshing, but it did not cause them to shiver.  In fact it did not appear to cause any sort of discomfort at all.  To Irgen it felt like the direct opposite of the warmth he had felt flowing through him.  It seemed to him, the cold was meant to provide a relaxing and calming air, just as the warmth was meant to give him strength and hope.
After taking a moment to get used to this strange new environment, the brothers eagerly looked around to see what the inside of such an ancient tower could truly look like.
The tower emanated a light of its own, it seemed almost as bright as it had been outside although the brother’s could not tell where the light came from.
On first glance, they were amazed to see loud lavender carpeting covering the floor.  They looked at the walls to see enormous, beautifully woven tapestries draping the circular walls.  Unintelligible inscriptions and insignias lined the effulgent silk hangings.  In the middle of the room was a huge winding staircase, which as far was the brothers could tell wasn’t supported by anything, and yet it seemed to ascend infinitely upward, at least until it came into contact with the second floor, which was 50 feet in the air above them, and disappeared from sight.  The staircase was also built of quite anciently cut stone, but as they examined it, as well as they could examine something like that from such a distance, they could see no cracks or chips.  Indeed they could see nothing which had compromised the ancient stonework even in its advanced age. 
To the immediate left of the staircase stood a large rectangular table, but it was relatively unique in comparison to the stonework surrounding it.  Instead of being built out of some kind of ancient granite, the table seemed to be carved entirely out of a single large white stone.  Irgen and Idus could not tell whether it was pieced together out of a certain gem of some kind, or just a huge rock that had been magically stretched and cut into its rectangular shape.
Blackington noticed their quizzical looks on seeing it and said with pride, “This is where we knights sit in council.  Its real name is Ο πίνακας Αριστοτέλη, or the table Aristotle.”  His eyes flashed happily as he continued, “We who speak English would call it… Aristotle’s Table.”  This time the effect which he had hoped his words would produced, occurred.  Both Irgen and Idus looked at the stone with a kind of revered silence.  He smiled joyfully at finally producing an affect and continued, “And it is because of Aristotle that we have most of the tale you are about to hear.”
The group walked to the table and sat down in chairs which magically materialized beside them.  Irgen and Idus had grown so used to bizarre occurrences during the past few hours, that upon seeing the chairs, astonishment hardly even registered in their faces.  Instead they sat down and found to their not so great surprise that the table was almost right where their knees were. 
“Why isn’t the table taller?”  Irgen asked, amazed that in a world of magic they couldn’t make taller tables. 
“Well like I said it was once Aristotle’s table, and when he sat at it, he sat on the floor not on chairs such as we have… But fortunately we may change it a little.”  Suddenly his staff’s blue gem started to glow and the legs on the table extended upward creating a comfortable sitting table (Irgen noticed as well that it was perfect height for sleeping as well).  “There, that’s a little more comfortable.  Eh?”  He said with his kind, cheerfully deep voice.
Soon they were all seated around the table and Blackington looked pointedly at Jennifer before saying, “Jenny you’re their mother.  You have done wonderfully in keeping the secrets of our ways hidden from them until now…But now, it is time to tell them our tale, and since you are their mother I think you should be the one to do it.”  Jennifer looked at him with gratitude and nodded, and then her beautiful, clear Alto voice rang out into the silence.
“My sons, today you will hear the entire truth of things which have been withheld from you for your whole lives, perhaps merely because your father and I thought that it would offer you some protection from the world in which we live.
We wanted you to grow up and live without the dangers of magic.  We wanted you to be able to grow and become strong.  We wanted you to test your abilities and not feel the heavy pressures which were looming ever larger as you grew older.  This is why we have kept so much hidden from you…”  She stopped as if trying to grasp the right words for what had to be said and finally she continued.  “I say we… because your father is not dead…  In fact he is not only not dead, but you two have no idea how much of him is alive inside each of you.”  She halted again although this time she was unmistakably trying to choke back her tears. 
“It has almost killed him these 16 long years, the agony of not being able to talk to his sons.  To hold them in his arms, or to merely give them the knowledge that he exists, that he lives and breathes as they do.  He has always wanted you both to know of his love for you, but yet again we decided he was too much of a risk and that he was too traceable.  We decided the enemy would be on the watch for anywhere he went or anything he did, so he couldn’t visit you, not even in disguise.
You boys do not know the torment he went through.  You may think you understand, but you thought he had died before your birth.  You did not have to live with the knowledge that your sons, who were: alive, breathing, and excelling in everything they did, could never be seen by you until their sixteenth birthday.”  She stopped again breaking into sobs and giving her sons a look of motherly sadness they had never seen on her face until then.
Everyone was too absorbed with the tale Jennifer was telling to notice the change that had come on Blackington’s face.  He no longer wore that same cheery look which had illuminated his face at the sight of the castle.  The smile too that he had worn earlier was gone, and he now wore a slight grimace, and his face looked as though it were in some pain, but he could not bring himself to interject anything into the tender atmosphere around him.  Instead he just shifted uncomfortably in his seat.  However, he was saved from having to do so because it was Idus who broke the silence first.
It came after a long silence, broken only by Jennifer’s tears, Idus finally asked in a slow solemn and yet naively inquiring voice.
“Mom, you say that our father loves us very much… which may be the case, but I still have not seen him.  And I would think that after the recent course of events, it would be safe for him to show himself, but instead he sends the man he appointed as guardian of us…  Why did he not come himself?  And why is he not here, waiting for us, if this castle is so safe?”  Both Idus and Irgen sat staring attentively at their mother’s face, but not as though waiting for an answer.
For them, a father had never existed.  They had never had the opportunity to get to know such a man, and previous to last night they would not have believed such a man existed.  But now they knew their mother was telling the truth.  They had watched as their astonishingly tough mother had completely lost control of her emotions over someone they had never met.
Now they watched her face, at the tears that were flowing down her suddenly youthful face.  And they felt in their own eyes the same moisture, which sparkled on her face; begin to drip out of their gentle eyes.  The three of them looked at each other, each trying profoundly to control themselves enough to say something, but indeed nothing needed to be said.  For they all understood one another.  Indeed Idus had known before he had asked his question that his mother did not where his father was.  So instead of looking at his mother quizzically as though waiting for an answer, there was in his eyes the same picture of understanding that reflected in the eyes of his mother and brother.
However, there was someone there who did know the fate of their father, and now Blackington felt it was his time to break what seemed to him as a stifling silence.  He pensively cleared his throat and started his woeful tale, “My young friends.”  He stopped to clear his throat again, and it seemed his deep cheerful voice was becoming choked up as well.  “Your mother does not know what has happened to your father.  In fact, I am the only person here who does, and therefore it is left up to me to tell the unmistakably misfortunate, mournful tale.”
He looked at the faces around him to check how his audience was thinking of the bearer of the bad news.  What he saw did not encourage him.  All three of the Tuerls were staring at him with disbelief in their eyes, apprehensively awaiting the worst.  But not only were they surprised but so were the other four Knights listening around the table.
He continued pensively although this time he could not master the cracking in his voice, no matter how many times he tried to clear his throat, “I was with your father yesterday morning.  We were in Innsbruck for dinner, as we were prone to doing of late, and we had decided to take a walk to the outskirts of the city and enjoy the surrounding countryside.  Well, we began our little stroll, and just as we reached the countryside André turned to me and said “You know Thomas, in one week I’m finally going to get to meet my two boys.”  That was it… That was all he said, and yet I knew that we were now in danger.  You see, we never spoke of you two outside of the castle, for fear of being overheard, and I knew we had just been plunged into an extremely precarious position.  André was tracked everywhere he went by at least one if not more Tenebri.  You see they did not know, but they had always suspected he had a family.  They knew the time for the fulfillment of the prophecy was nigh, strange things were beginning to happen to their powers.  And they feared André had hidden his posterity, the very posterity that was supposed to change everything, so they were always watching, making sure that any secret he had they would know about.”  He paused again and this time he kind of hack coughed as he cleared his throat.
He took a deep breath before continuing, “I turned to look at him to warn him of his blunder, but I was too late.  All around me were flashes of light as Tenebri emerged into the twilight surrounding me.  I got out my staff and just as I was about to jump full into the battle I heard him yell “Thomas go… I named you protector, save them, I’ll be fine.”  For a moment I wasn’t quite sure what to do.  Frankly I wasn’t at all up to just leaving André to fight the Tenebri by himself, but then I felt a spell hit me and I felt myself being teleported through the air back to the castle.
When I landed a few seconds later, I could think of nothing but what my best friend André had told me.  I heard the words “save them” echoing over and over again in my mind.  But I could not.  All I could think of was André and what had happened to him.  After waiting for a while, in a vain hope that he would suddenly reappear.  I decided that now was the time to get you three out of Colorado.
Our plan was to get you next week on the day you turned sixteen and your powers manifested themselves, but now with André captured or worse… I knew it was time.  I summoned some Knights, and I teleported to you that very moment, it was then that I came out of the underbrush and found you, Idus.”  He paused again but this time he looked relieved at finally having told the doleful tale.
“Although-what I don’t understand is how they found us so quickly…”  He stopped lost in his own thoughts.  “However,” his voice boomed back, “while that may have seemed like a horrible thing at the time, it is a sign that can give us hope.”  His voice gained momentum as he spoke.
“For only if they captured him could they have found us so quickly because… Of course,” He said frantically slapping his forehead.  “André knew I was going to keep you safe, so what harm could come from telling the Tenebri where you HAD lived.   But that could only mean one thing…”  He paused and as a slight grin reappeared on his sad face.  “And that is that André, your father is alive.”  He stopped speaking and only then noticed he was standing up, breathing heavily, and had thrown his fist on the table.  He tenderly lifted it back to his side and gave a kind of embarrassed laugh before sitting down.
The room was silent for a time.  All of the Tuerls had stopped crying and now only a dazed expression covered their faces.  The other four looked shocked at this new news from Blackington.  They stared aghast at Tom’s now much cheerier face.
“Well, now I’m quite enthusiastic to continue the story.  Jennifer I know how hard it is…  But you are their mother and they would…”  He halted not knowing quite how to finish his phrase.  Instead he glanced at Jennifer and saw she was smiling again.
“Yes, yes.  It would be better if it came from me.”  And then she added in what Blackington, who was across the table, heard as a quiet whisper, but no one else even noticed her moving her lips, let alone heard what she said.  “Thank you.  I realize how hard it must have been to abandon your grief and save them.  Thank you.”
Then she started again.  “My sons, I told you about your father first for obvious reasons, but now I will tell you the story of the magic that runs through your veins.”  She took a quick breath as though preparing for a plunge into icy cold water.  “Our tale starts with what some have considered a legend, for there is still much debate among mages on whether Perseus was a demi-god.  Whether he was or not, is not important, because we have proof he existed.  And as you can tell legends among mages hold a lot of weight, because we ourselves are thought to be legends by Spartans.”  She gave a knowing smile, at their confused looks before saying “A Spartan is what we call non-magical humans.  Of course we once had many Spartan mages, but at a time of war an Athenian decided it would be a fitting derogatory name for our non-magical brothers.
You see Spartans scorned the way of ease in life.  They lived as hard and as brutal a life as they could.  Therefore those who do not have magic flowing through their veins have been bestowed with this name, for they are naïve of their position in a hard and ever brutal culture.  Therefore, I have come to think of Spartan not so much as a derogatory term, but as a symbol of strength and fortitude, for only Spartans could survive in what our world is becoming today.  I know, I have had to live for fifteen years as one.”  She smiled as though the years she had spent locked away in their tiny house brought fond memories to her mind.
“Anyway, as I was saying our tale starts with Perseus…  Well it actually starts with Perseus’ sons:  Alecto, Irgen, Idus, and Xenophon.”  She paused at the look of wonder which came over the two brothers’ faces.  “Yes, your father and I named you after two of them… and for good reason.  Although you’ll know why after you hear the tale.”
As she continued it seemed that her worries were cast away as she lived vicariously through the tale.  “Now the four brothers were always trying to impress their half-god father, but they were only quarter-gods so nothing that they did could really impress him.  You see if they tried to show immense strength by lifting something heavy, he could always go and lift something heavier.  And if they tried to show off their intellect by explaining some profound principle, Perseus could explain it even further, leaving no doubt about the truthfulness of what he was saying.
Now don’t get me wrong in thinking that Perseus was not proud of his sons, indeed a more compassionate and caring father could not be found in all the land, but his sons did not like being smothered by the giant shadow of dominance he cast.  They began to grow restless and grew out of touch with their father.
Then one day their mother, the beautiful Andromeda, passed away.  Her death came like a torrential downpour in an already bitterly cold night.  At first the brothers were aghast.  They were left alone in the world without their mother’s caring touch.  Wherever they went they could find no solace.  They tried just about everything, each trying to find something to lift the burden off of their shoulders.  But no matter where they looked the feeling of peace they sought eluded their grasp.
Finally in desperation the brothers decided to split into separate directions.  One would go North, South, East, and West.  They had each decided, under their father’s urging, to undertake their own quest.  Each was hoping that such a quest would release the feelings of despair which encompassed them.  They each decided they would return when they had something they could show their father, something which would make him proud and mend the gap between them, which had been steadily increasing over the recent weeks.
So they each went their separate ways Alecto the oldest went towards the islands to the east of Greece.  Irgen swam South towards the island of Crete and then on to Egypt.  Idus began a trek northward into the frozen lands of the north, and Xenophon swam west towards Sicily.  Each brother began his own master quest not knowing the dangers that lay before them, but they each undertook it with a blessing from their father.
For before they left, he took them each aside and gave them a word of warning about the dangers they would find in the world around them.  He himself did not know of the nature of the encounters they would face, but he decided to entrust each of them with one of his very own magical objects, which he had been given, years before, to aid him in slaying Medusa.  And although he did not know just what dangers would eventually befall his sons, he could guess what objects would be most beneficiary to each of them.
For as a father who has watched each of them grow up, he knew their strengths and weaknesses, and perhaps in his wise old age he knew them better than the brothers knew themselves.  And although he could not see an unchangeable course they would each follow, he knew the path each of them would eventually and infallibly take, due to their own weaknesses and shortcomings.

So being the loving father he was, he planned ahead.  Giving each son the object he believed would benefit them the most.  To Alecto he gave his blazingly bright crescent shaped sword, which he had used to cut off Medusa’s head.  To Irgen he gave his beautiful bronze reflective shield, which had been used to shield him from the disdainful eyes of Medusa.  To Idus he gave the winged shoes given to him by Hermes to aid him in his quest to find Medusa.  And finally to Xenophon he gave the cap of darkness, which some say Hades himself made, but which he received from the nymphs of the west.  And then with these gifts the four brothers departed each going there own way leaving a loving father gazing hopefully at their shrinking figures, as they loped with their godlike gaits away from Mycenae, into the light cast from the setting sun.”

Chapter 6                 Chapter 8

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