The Boy With Dragon Wings
By: Joshua David
Book 1: The Boy With Dragon Wings
Chapter 1: A Brief History of Perigon
Once upon a time, in a world far away from here, there was a land in the sky known as Apeirogon. Apeirogon was a majestic and noble land that floated magically above the wild earth below. The earth below was called Perigon. Apeirogon was ruled by a mighty and just king named Rupert. King Rupert was known as the Sky King.
On the edge of Apeirogon, which was known as the horizon, there was a village called Terra. Terra was a village of farmers and carpenters. Past Terra and closer to the horizon there was a dense forest known as Derk Wood Forest. In the middle of Apeirogon rose the Holy Spire. The Holy Spire was the home of the Sky King. From the spire, the Sky King could rule over all of Apeirogon and keep all it’s people safe.
Safety was once something that the people of Apeirogon had at all times. For there was not the presence of evil in all the land. That all changed on one fateful day known simple as the Day of Cosmos. Far to the east on the edge of the eastern horizon just before the great drop-off to Perigon, there was a mountain known as Balaag. Balaag was a fiery mountain which smoked and stewed and boiled with glowing lava. No one in all the land would approach the mountain known as Balaag for fear that even the tremor of a footfall could cause the mountain to erupt in a ghastly rage.
What the people of Apeirogon didn’t know is that deep inside the mountain Balaag, there dwelt a creature known as a Wizard. This wizard was not quite a man, yet he was no animal either. He was something of the old days before men dwelt upon the earth, in the age of beasts once thought higher than men. The only other creature such as this wizard was the Sky King himself for they were both creatures of the old days before men. The Wizard was a magical creature which chose to occupy the shape of a man simply to not stand out as something old and wicked.
The Wizard went by the name Cosmos, but it was only what he called himself in this world. When one such as he is as ancient as the days are old, a name loses such value as a man would have it hold. Cosmos, however, was the name that suited him best in this land, for he had energy like a star in the night sky, he had power like the raging seas, and could see visions like a thousand hawks in flight upon the land. The people knew not of Cosmos, nor did they know that Cosmos thought himself so powerful as to challenge the greatness of the Sky King Rupert.
Long ago, in his pursuit of power, Cosmos had lost something that many of the world treasure. He had lost the beating of his heart. You see, mortal creatures such as man and woman, mammal and bird, need every beat of their heart just to survive. Higher creatures such as the Holy Guardians who protect Rupert, and even Rupert himself, while they need not a beating heart to survive, they maintain a heart of flesh that beats so that those they rule over might know that they are of like flesh. The people of Apeirogon are not slaves and did not serve their king in slavery, but rather they served him because he was a righteous ruler with a heart full of warmth and love toward the kingdom.
The Foul One, Cosmos, had not a heart of flesh, but a heart so cold and lifeless that it had turned to stone. It was out of his power and energy and shear unruly anger that Cosmos’ stone filled heart still granted him function. He was no longer a creature of life like the other creatures in Apeirogon, but rather by his own supernatural power he continued on, living out his days in the boiling mountain, preparing for the day that he would erupt into the land of Apeirogon and dethrone the one of the Sky.
Then one dark day when Cosmos’ anger and wretchedness could be contained no longer, the mountain erupted, spewing ash and foul gases into the sunlit sky. The air in all the land grew heavy and dark. The lip of the mountain drooled with molten lava that spilled forth into the land burning all it touched. Cosmos crept forth from his molten chamber and began his quest to topple the Holy Spire and all it stood for.
King Rupert ordered the Guardians of the Sky forward to defend the land from this new vileness. The noxious gases that clouded around the boiling mountain infected those creatures dwelling in the nearby forests, changing them into nightmarish monsters, twisted deformities not yet witnessed by the eyes of mortals. The humans living in the land fled for their lives toward the great Spire seeking sanctuary. Even the Guardians who flew past them ready to wage war against the evil from the mountain, when touched by the foul air, had their hearts stilled. There was an evil magic in the air, something wicked that caught hold of the Guardians, stilled their hearts and transformed even these Holy Beasts into Monstrosities so vile and devilish, that what few Guardians remained, shuddered in fear for the first time in their noble lives.
King Rupert saw all of this. He saw the creatures of the land falling to the plague like fog, only to rise again as evil combatants for the Wizard. He saw those people of his kingdom closest to the horizon being blanketed in the blackness and ash never to return. He even witnessed his own Guardians now fighting to hold back the onslaught of what was once their brethren and losing ground by the second.
Suddenly he saw Cosmos, the One from the boiling mountain Balaag, the Great Deceiver, the Wretched Wizard, coming toward the gates of the spire. Rupert drew forth his sword and quickly wove a protection spell upon it. He then threw it as hard as he could toward the direction of the Wizard’s advance. It struck into the earth and the protection spell splintered the ground. Suddenly a great earthquake upheaved and rumbled across the land. Apeirogon began to fracture from its core. Sadly, the people of Terra were split off with the portion seized by the evil wizard.
Without the magic of the great Spire running through it, the fractured half of Apeirogon fell to the earth below. The wizard was greatly pleased with this outcome, for the land below was wild and untamed. It was considered by all to be a dark land.
The people of Terra cried out in fear as they fell to the wild earth below. They watched as a magical seal enveloped the remaining portion of Apeirogon. The seal was made of pure light, as bright as the Star that shines in heaven. It was perhaps the last blessing that the Sky King gave to these poor souls who had been caught up in the fall, for the light of the great seal shone down on the wretched earth below, granting some relief and safety from the dangers and wilds of the wild world.
Also, Cosmos, the Foul Corrupter, hated the light from the seal and although he reveled in what Chaos he had created he and all the deviants created from his foul magic, retreated into the darkness on the other side of the world below. Using his magic, he took the great mountain Balaag with him. The tragic ones who had fallen, prayed to the Sky King to thank him for giving them this final shroud of safety. On the far side of the world known as Perigon, Cosmos, sat on a throne of bones of the holy ones, unchallenged in this new land. He built for himself a darkened keep that jutted out of the boiling mountain like a festering boil. To this day his keep is guarded by the unnatural creatures that he created during the day of the fall, The Day of Cosmos. The unholy being known as a Wizard waits for the day that he can once again strike at the Holy Spire that still stands within the protection of the great seal.
The people of the fall have lived many generations since that day. They carry on the traditions of the old days as best they can. Terra, being the only city left standing from before the fall, is the capital of these fallen people, the people of Perigon. There is a network of other small villages and farms along the rivers and valleys, that fall within the light of the seal. They await a day that the Sky King returns and strikes out the evil that brews on the dark side of Perigon. They are in desperate need of a hero such as the Sky King, for the days of this world grow dark, despite the light of the great seal. The wizard’s power grows with each passing day. The people know that one day, the mountain will erupt again and the dark air will once again consume them. Without a hero, the people of the fall will not stand.
And thus begins the tale of the one called Noah…could he be such a hero?
Chapter 2: A Boy and His Village
“Get up you lazy bones!!” Juni shouted as she threw the covers off of Noah and then walked across the room and drew open the shutters so the light of the seal flooded into the room. “Mamma says we have to fetch water from the mountain stream today and Orcy needs to be bathed. He smells like he got into Mr. Tome’s compost again. But first, you promised to cook me breakfast.”
“Stop your whining Juni!” Noah spat as he pulled his pillow down over his head to block out the light. “He’s your dog too. You bath him.”
“He’s more your dog, especially when he stinks. He’s my dog when he’s clean and fluffy like a prince!” She smiled and said.
“What do you want for breakfast again, crispy cave bat with a side of scrambled mush snake eggs was it???”
“You better not, Noah!” She screamed, then she stuck out her tongue and ran away down the hall. He heard her shortly after, “Mamma! Noah’s being gross!”
He got up, just as Orcy hobbled in. The old dog had to be over a hundred in dog years. He was old, fat and he snorted as he walked. His long brown fur was thinning a bit in his old age.
Orcy waddled in snorting. He did stink rather horribly. Something like burnt cabbage and old mushrooms.
Noah got up and got dressed, then he went into the kitchen and started on breakfast. He prepared a breakfast of toasted sweet loaf, some chopped ham that he had traded eggs for the day before, and some scrambled eggs that their chickens Nugget and Red had laid. Juni had been the one to name the chickens even though Noah had argued that Red was a name better suited for a rooster.
“Pretty Girl Red is her full name!” Juni had argued, always following up with a raspberry. Noah had settled for Red.
The two siblings typically spent the day running about doing their chores, but also taking time to have fun and be children. Juni was seven and her world revolved around her older brother. Noah was now sixteen and had grown to be a sturdy young man. His looks and charm had the eye of more than one of the young ladies of the village, but since his father’s death, when Juni was only an infant, Noah cared for the household and found little time for courtship. Although he had taken notice, a boy of sixteen can’t help but notice attention from the other gender.
Juni helped in her own special ways, but Noah typically performed the brunt of the work when it came to chores.
After breakfast they set out to bath Orcy. If he was to accompany them for the day then he would have to be clean, he really did smell awful. Noah had prepared some smelling oil from crushing together some fruit peels and mint leaves. He soaked them in a bucket of hot water while they ate.
Noah packed some of the leftover toast in his belt pouch. He hung the empty water buckets on his staff, along with the bucket of smelling oils. Then they set off up the trail toward the upper part of the river. Orcy followed close behind.
Part way up to the river, Orcy slowed and then stopped and sat down.
“Well Boy, I guess its time.” Noah set down his buckets and pulled out a length of rope from his belt.
“Time! But you said you wouldn’t!” Juni cried.
She jumped in between her brother and the dog waving her arms in protest as if protecting Orcy from something horrible.
“We have to Juni, we’ll never get him up there otherwise. Look at him, he’s already figured it out.” He started toward Orcy with the rope.
Suddenly Orcy got up and trotted backwards some ten feet or so and then with a snort he sat down once more, his tongue hanging out comically.
“Orcy! You get over here. I mean it, don’t make me chase you.” He reached into his pouch and broke a piece of toast off. He offered it to Orcy. “I’ll give you a snack…”
Orcy leaned forward and sniffed the air curiously toward Noah’s out stretched hand. Then as if realizing it was only toast, the dog sighed and laid down.
“Juni distract him so I can get a leash around him.”
“Oh…Alright…” Juni agreed reluctantly.
She walked around the dog to give Noah the blind spot.
“Here Orcy! Who’s a good dog?” She said in her most playful, babying voice.
Orcy perked up and started walking toward her wagging his tail. As soon as Orcy had his back turned toward Noah, Noah sprang out with the leash. Despite his age, Orcy still had excellent hearing. He sensed Noah’s advance and dodged just as Noah dove forward. Noah went face first into the dirt. Orcy ran down to the village and disappeared under their house.
“Orcy!!! Bad dog!” Juni yelled in dismay.
Noah stood back up, spitting leaves from his mouth and dusting himself off.
“Where’d he go?” Noah asked.
“He ran to his hideout…”
“Yea, Orcy has a hideout under the house. I’ll show you.”
He followed her back down to the village and to their house. Juni crawled under the house and waved him in.
“Come on, you can fit through this part.”
“How long have you known about this?”
“It’s been a secret between me and Orcy for a long time.”
Noah crawled down between the uprights of the house. He maneuvered through a smaller opening past the structure of the porch and into the tangled framework under the house.
“I don’t know if you can fit all the way back here.” Her voice came from some dark spot in the center of the foundation. “Orcy it’s time to go, come on, you fat dog.”
He reached a point where the pylons and joists were so close together that he couldn’t get any farther into the understructure.
“What’s it like in there?” Noah asked, somewhat disappointed that he could not continue. He found himself intensely curious about this new part of Orcy’s life that he had been unaware of.
“Well, It’s pretty dark, but your eyes eventually adjust. I made him a bed out of pine needles. He has some trinkets that he collects from around the town.”
“Well like one of Mr. Green’s work gloves, little Robert’s widget ball, Igna’s old teddy that her mom threw out…”
“Does anyone else know about it?”
“Nope, just me and Orcy. It’s our spot. Whenever he runs away, I can usually find him under here. I typically return his trinkets every couple of weeks.”
“Well if I throw you the rope, do you think you can get him outta there so that we can finish our chores.” He tossed the rope to her in the darkness.
“I think so…” He heard her crawling around somewhere in front of him. Then after a brief moment of silence, he heard her coaxing Orcy. “Come on boy, its ok. You need a bath…”
He started crawling backwards out from under the house.
“You’ll smell like a prince and you’ll get a special treat.” He heard her say.
“Don’t tell him that, all I have is toast.”
“I’ll think of something… won’t I boy, I always do. Don’t listen to big ole’ mean ole’ Noah… He’s just mad because he can’t catch you down here.”
Noah worked his way out and back to the side of the house. He waited for several minutes, but eventually Juni came out pulling the rope and he could only assume that Orcy was connected to the other end.
“Good, now lets get a move on. We’ll be doing chores all day at this rate.”
They went back up the trail toward where the river let out just below the falls. It was a climb, but it was the cleanest, freshest water around. Once the leash was around him, Orcy typically followed without further struggle.
They reached the place that they had been when Orcy ran off and Noah grabbed the staff with all the buckets and put it back up onto his shoulder.
“Do you think I’ll ever meet the Old Hermit?” Juni asked as they made their way toward the top of the trail. The Hermit’s house was at the upper falls, quite a walk further.
“I don’t think so. I think he’s forbidden to speak with us because we come from the village.”
“Why would he not be able to talk to us?”
“He was banished a long time ago, when you were a baby. When you’re banished you can’t ever enter the village again. You can’t even talk to people from your old village. Most people just move off to one of the outlying farms and work the rest of their lives somewhere else. The Old Sage moved up here, Mamma says to watch over the village. She says he’s our protector even though he’s banished.”
“Do you remember ever talking to him?”
“No but I remember that Dad did on occasion. He would sometimes be at the Sage’s house till late in the evening. He would always return and tell me fantastic stories about the past and the way the world used to be.”
“Why do you call him the Old Sage? Everyone else just calls him a hermit.”
“I remember that’s what Dad called him.”
“Oh…” she couldn’t help but look up at the great seal, even though it was said that staring at it could hurt your eyes. She stopped but for only a moment, but Noah felt it. He turned back and saw her. Then he looked up at the Seal as well. “Do you think we’ll ever see Dad again?”
“I think maybe… but I don’t know for sure.” He said and then he started up the trail again.
“Do you still remember what he looked like?” She asked as she started following him once more. Orcy sighed and started following loyally.
“Yes…” Noah said as he hoisted himself up to a high step and then turned to help Juni up. The buckets clacked together as he stooped and he caught the faint scent of herbs and fruit oils.
She grabbed his outstretched hand and squinted a bit as she stepped up and onto the highest foothold that she could reach with her short legs and tiny feet. “I think I remember what he sounded like… I… I know that sounds silly, I know I was just a baby, but I feel in my heart that I still remember his voice.”
“It’s ok Juni, I believe you, I don’t think you’re silly.”
He suddenly found it strange that they had never had this conversation. It had been almost seven years since his father had died, and they had never had the ‘What did father look like? What did father sound like? ‘ conversation.
She smiled, and he could tell that she was comforted. “He had a deep voice, I remember…” She kicked at some gravel as she walked. “The kind of voice I imagine you having in a year or two… It was a kind voice, and I never remember him being angry or yelling. I remember that he hummed or sang a tune to me at night when it was time to sleep, but I can’t remember what song he sang.”
Noah paused and thought to himself for a moment. Then he smiled as he remembered the general flow of it.
“I wish you the best, the best of sleep my Dear, fall fast asleep, deep deep sleep as mo..orn…ning draws near. I’ll keep you safe and warm tonight, in this humble house of mine, and you will wake, when the morn is here…”
“To the bright sunshine!”
He smiled and his eyes glassed over. It had been the same song that his father had sang to him when he went to bed. Noah remembered his kind deep voice. They continued on toward the falls, Noah humming the tune that he remembered and Juni singing the words.
When they got below the falls, Noah tied Orcy to a nearby tree. He pitched the buckets full of water and secured the lids down tightly. He bathed Orcy quickly under the falls so the dog would get clean, and then he scrubbed him down with the smelling water from his last bucket. He filled it with fresh clean water and then tied Orcy back up so that he wouldn’t run off and get dirty again. Lastly he and Juni swam around a bit which was a form of bathing he supposed.
“Golden Rows!” Juni yelled as she sprang out of the water on the far bank leading toward the Hermit’s house. “The Golden Rows are blooming! We have to pick some and take them home to Mamma!”
“Ok.” Noah said as he got out of the water to go look for himself. They really were beautiful to see.
Suddenly Juni screamed and he saw her run back behind a tree. He ran up to see what was the matter. A crazed cliff hogg was stomping toward her from a rocky ledge above. Cliff hog’s were known to inhabit this area, but they were very seldom seen and almost never aggressive. This one was clearly crazed, having been touched by the evil mist. The territorial stomping was a precursor to attack. It had its eyes locked squarely on Juni who was curled up behind the tree.
“Hey!” Noah shouted as he ran toward the beast. “Hey you!” he picked up a rock and threw it at the pig.
It squealed wildly and turned to face him. For a moment it forgot about Juni and started advancing toward Noah.
“Juni, you just be quiet over there and it won’t hurt you. If it comes at me, I want you to run back to the village as fast as you can and tell Mamma, go get Old Man Dover.”
“But I won’t leave you!” She screamed.
The pig turned its head wildly, loose snot oozed from its nose and streams of drool streamed from its mouth.
“You look at me!” Noah yelled and kicked rocks at the pig.
It turned back to him and started stomping toward him again. It moved and behaved as if possessed, it was as if some larger and more horrible creature could burst from the pig at any moment. The pigs eyes were swollen and bloodshot as if pressurized with madness. Noah felt a cold chill creep down his back as he realized that the pig would charge within seconds.
Noah took a deep breath and then bolted toward the rocks at the base of the cliff. The pig let out a screechy sound that sounded half like the squeal of a mountain hogg, and half like the roar of a lion. Then he heard the fast paced hoof beats as it gave chase. Surely, in the depth of its madness, the pig was looking to end him.
He ran quickly up the river and toward the large boulders that lined the falls. He had to find something that he could wedge himself upwards and climb high up to where the pig could not climb. Even though they lived up in the mountains so that they could breath the lighter air, the wild pigs had nobby weak knees that prevented them from climbing fast. If Noah could shimmy up the side of a rock quickly, he could gain a small amount of time to escape the pig before it caught up with him.
Somewhere back in the distance he heard the sound of Orcy barking and he heard splashes in the river. He knew that Juni was safe. He found brief seconds of comfort knowing that he had saved his sister from immanent death. He could only hope now that he could get himself out of this mess and get home safely.
He came up to the first of three large boulders, and without slowing, he sprang upwards, grabbing at the rock and pulling himself toward safety. He had made it about four feet up the rock before the hog reached the base of it. He could feel it ram into the base of the rock, and he heard the creature’s sharp tusks scraping against the rigid surface. The pig wasted no time at the bottom and soon began its upward chase, hopping from one small ledge to the next, it’s short legs scurrying over moss and stone. Noah heard pebbles and debris falling as they both climbed wildly up the rock face. Sadly, despite his head start, the pig was catching up to Noah and he knew that there would be no time for Juni to get Mr. Dover.
He made it to the top of the first rock and all he could think about was how dry his mouth was and how much his wet clothes were slowing him down. He panted loudly from exertion. Then without waiting he kept to the face of the next rock, trying to grab at the moss and vines that grew in its cracks. He slid for a bit and scraped his chest on some small rocks, but he quickly caught hold and started climbing upwards once more. He was hopeful now because he knew the second rock was mostly a solid face with almost no footholds large enough for the pig to occupy.
He even thought to himself that it might give up the chase right hear and now, knowing that it had been out climbed by the creature with opposable thumbs.
He looked back briefly and saw the pig come over the edge of the first rock. All the while it was stomping and squealing and drooling wildly. Parts of its face were scraped and bleeding from ramming itself into the rock. Noah knew that if he didn’t get away, the pig would rip him to shreds before anyone was within earshot of his screams.
The pig reached the face of the second rock and began to gore it just as before. The sound of boney tusks scraping rock resounded in Noah’s mind. He was happy though that the pig hadn’t started climbing and Noah thought for a moment that the animal was losing momentum and he would perhaps be safe soon. He hoped so, because his arms were burning like they were on fire both inside and out. On the outside his forearms were all scraped and battered from climbing for his life, and on the inside the muscles were so rattled from being thrown unknowingly into this life and death struggle that they felt like they might burst and give out at any second.
Suddenly Noah caught a glimpse of movement in the corner of his eye. He turned and to his horror, he saw a second pig come out of the brush on the bank above him. There was suddenly no purpose to climbing higher, the second pig would catch him before he could even gather his footing completely. The first pig started to make the long way around and up to where the second pig now was. Somehow it found a quicker route to the top and soon they were both at the top of the rock, squealing and drooling down at him.
Noah clung desperately to the rock face, knowing that to go either way was now sudden death. The pigs had a direct route to the base of this rock if he decided to go back down, and the sound of death was already above him. He knew that he couldn’t possibly cling to the rock face until help arrived. Now what seemed just seconds earlier to be a plan that may have worked, was a sprung trap that he was caught in.
Just as all seemed at a loss, Noah heard the aggressive shout of a man’s attack at the top of the ledge and he looked up just in time to see the larger of the two pigs go tumbling off the top of the high rock, its stout body crashing open on the rocks at the bottom of the falls. Then, after the sounds of a brief scuffle, the second pig flew off even more wildly as the first as if being literally thrown by some hulk of a man.
The pig squealed briefly as it fell, but in it’s crazed state it could not have been fully aware of what was happening and that its life would be over in the next brief seconds. It most likely had seen Noah again as it fell and Noah could almost believe that the pig expected to give chase again.
It crashed down next to the other and the squealing suddenly stopped. Noah could only hear the sound of his own panting lungs. He feared for a moment that it might not be a man at all at the top of the cliff, but perhaps it was an Orc. The legendary creature that gave Orcy his namesake.
The Orc were considered by many to be simply a myth designed to keep small children from wandering into the outskirts of the forest. They were big footed creatures, said to have furry green bodies and huge distended guts from eating all sorts of wild animals and the occasional unfortunate traveler. Noah never really believed the stories and considered them to be superstition like ghosts and faeries. Now he feared that he was soon to encounter one face to face.
He could not hang here forever dwelling on what his fate would be, or else his arms would give way and he would fall like the pigs. He debated trying to manage his way all the way back down, but he knew that he didn’t poses the strength. This was a one way trip from the beginning, that way was up and he had to continue no matter what was waiting for him at the top.
Suddenly a voice called out. “It’s safe now boy, you can climb up…”
Noah knew in an instant that it must be the voice of the Old Sage.
With what little strength he had left, Noah climbed up and over the summit of the rock face to where the pigs had been. He saw the tracks that they had left while the waited and circled. In their place, an old man now sat.
He was tall and muscular for a man of his age. The other kids in the village had said that he was decrepit and at the verge of death, but this man looked rather lively and well cared. He wore a robe like the men of the church wore, and he carried a fighting staff that had a blunt end with weights attached to it. The staff was made of some green wood that Noah had never seen before. The old man had a full head of greyish hair, with some dark brown still showing through. He had what looked like week old stubble on his chin and cheeks, with a long white mustache that encircled his large lips and mouth. He had a rounded nose like a noble person, though he clearly was not, and even though his eyes were set deep in their sockets, they shown brightly and kindly toward Noah.
Noah sat there panting and taking in the fact that he was still among the living, when the old man spoke.
“I had to… you understand? I know it is forbidden, but I had to…”
Noah simply nodded in understanding.
“I am in your debt. I should have known they would have caught me.”
“Your little sister is safe as well. She’s at my cabin.”
“Juni! You saved Juni.”
“Yes, your sister is absolutely safe.”
Noah hit the dirt beside where he sat. “I should have known there would be two.”
“You could not have known, you did good and you risked your life to save your sister. God must have a plan for you yet, considering he sent me along your path to help you. I almost never travel this way, but today I thought I heard the sound of children playing.”
“Juni and I were swimming, and then Juni went to pick some flowers, Golden Rows for our Mother. The pig came from out of nowhere, it was about to attack Juni, so I distracted it and told her to run.”
“That’s the trouble with Rock Pigs, they never lose a scent. They would have killed you and then chased down your sister before she got near to the village.” From a hidden pocket in the breast of his robe, the old man pulled a pipe. He stuffed it full of tobacco from a tobacco pouch attached to his belt. Then he lit a match on the rock upon which he sat and stoked his pipe until it smoked.
“You’re the old Sage, are you not?”
The old man did not answer, he merely sat there smoking his pipe and staring off in the distance as if day dreaming of some long ago fondness.
“Do you know of the ancient days boy?” The old man finally asked. “The days from before all this struggle, before the… the fall?”
Noah gave a small nod. “Some,” he said.
“The world used to be a very fantastic and beautiful place to be. Death was not something one had to grow up fearing.”
“How do you know of the old world before the fall and the great Seal?”
“Well, they don’t call me the old Sage for nothing my boy!” He said chuckling and slapping his knee.
“Well actually, they don’t call you the Old Sage. Everyone seems to call you the Old Hermit or the Crazy Old man who lives by the Falls.” Noah said solemnly.
The Sage pursed his lips around his pipe and fell into pondering.
“Well that’s not the best of news…I’m not the least bit crazy… well maybe eccentric or I’d even accept cooky, but certainly not crazy” he said mumbling. “That’s not right at all…I never thought…But you called me the Old Sage, why do you call me this when others believe me to be crazy.”
“It is what my father called you.”
“I see…” the old man gave Noah a peculiar glance and then stared vacantly out at the trees once more. He stroked his beard and thought.
Noah sat up and brushed the rubble and sand from his arms. He felt weak now that the adrenaline was leaving his body. He was still in shock from almost dying.
“Well I suppose we should go meet up with your little sister so she shan’t worry any longer than she must.” The Old Sage suddenly said. He put his hands on his knees and pushed himself to a standing position. A cloud of smoke encircled him.
He walked over and helped Noah to his feet. They walked down the trail and doubled back to get Noah’s buckets. Then they started up to the Old Sage’s Cabin. Noah was excited about seeing Juni safe and sound.
The cabin was larger than Noah had expected. From the outside it looked to be two stories and it had a crooked stone chimney that snaked up the entire side that they approached from. The house was what Noah could only describe as narrow, or rather it was taller than it was wide, with perhaps on room below and one room above. There was a little balcony up top, something like the observation deck of a tower with some sort of ocular device mounted to the railing. The device appeared to be pointed toward the Seal.
The house was encircled by a makeshift fence of sticks and stones and there appeared to be a small garden in the front yard, although Noah didn’t recognize the crops that grew there. The whole structure was built in such a way that it backed up to the face of the higher parts of the mountain. Noah imagined the possibility of there even being a wall inside made entirely of stone with three other walls coming out forming the house.
They stopped and the old man spread his arms wide toward the house.
“Welcome to my mansion in the mountain.” The old sage said.
Noah smiled, but then looked at the Sage seriously, “Have you lived here ever since…”
“I guess you know about that do you?” the old man was suddenly curious.
“I know when it happened, but my mother never told me exactly why. Did you build this all by yourself?”
The Old Sage nodded. “Yes, once you’re cast out, you have to do everything yourself. You cannot interact with anyone from your village. Well, except for under extreme conditions such as these.” He puffed again on his pipe.
“Why didn’t you move off like the others? You could find work and not have to be alone.”
“I was meant to stay here.”
“How do you know that?”
The sage pulled his pipe from his teeth. “Well, I can feel it of course. I can feel it in my heart and in my head. Just as I felt the need to walk a different trail today, different from the one I’m used to taking. I am meant to stay here and keep watch over the village. And, well, and keep a watch over you and your sister. Something important is going to happen soon, I can feel it.” He put his pipe back in his mouth and puffed several times to stoke it back to life.
To Noah the smoke smelled sweet, but also bitter. It smelled like the forest, or perhaps parts of the forest smelled like the sage’s smoke. Perhap’s the sage had been watching over them, and the smell of his smoke was now something familiar in Noah’s mind.
The sage suddenly shot the peculiar glance at Noah again. It was something of a squint, mixed with puzzling curiosity, “What did she tell you about that day?” The sage asked.
Noah hesitated, “She never really said anything about it, and I never wanted to ask…”
“Why didn’t you ask?”
“Because I knew in my heart… that it would make her cry.” Noah said lowering his head.
“Its good that you can sense that. It means that you have a heart that feels. And it is perhaps good that you never asked, for our behavior in the here and now may be drastically different had you done so.” He paused for a moment as if choosing his words carefully, “I guess you know then, that my banishment has something to do with your father’s death.”
“But you don’t seem as though you hate me, so you must know enough of what truly happened to know not to listen to the village gossip.”
Noah nodded again.
The sage put his arm around the boy and ushered him into the house.
“I believe we have a very many things to discuss dear Noah. You boy, are deserving of the truth. You must know three things first though. The first thing is that you may call me Rupert. The second is that I am your ally, you mustn’t fear the likes of me, I believe that I have found some of the last good people of this village. The third thing to know is that I’m not crazy.”
“Ok…” Noah said. Knowing that the people who have to continually make verbal affirmation of their sanity, usually end up being the craziest ones.
Chapter 3: The Evil Wizard
The inside of the house was an elaborate array of untidy charm mixed with curious junk. It was as if ten different men lived in the tiny cottage and each had vanished in their act as soon as the door was opened.
Rupert walked in first and hung his hat on the coat rack. He then waved Noah through.
“Young Juni, I have someone who wishes to see you.” He said with a smirk on his face.
Orcy came around the corner first, snorting and wagging his tail. He had a brown powdery substance on his nose and he smelled of old onion peels.
“Oh blazes, I think he’s been rooting through my pantry!” Rupert said. “I’ll go clean up and put on some tea so we can talk in a bit.” He walked off cursing Orcy under his breath. When he rounded the corner, he threw out his hands as if mortified at the state of the kitchen. Then he disappeared around the corner.
“Juni came charging around the corner next. She had taken her boots off and was in socks, so she slid on the floor a bit rounding the corner.
“Noah!!! You’re alive!”
Noah ran up and gave her a bear hug. He wanted to cry, he was so happy to see her again.
“I’m glad you’re ok.” he said.
“I’m more glad! I thought those pigs were going to get you!” She smiled and then gave him a bear hug back. Then she stepped back and began bouncing up and down excitedly. “Guess what! Guess what! Guess what!” She exclaimed.
“What…?” Noah asked with a smile.
“I met him, and you met him too! Can you believe that we were just talking about it this morning and now we know him and have visited his house.”
She looked down at Noah’s arms and saw the damages of the chase. “Are you alright?”
“Yea, I’m fine,” Noah said, trying to cover some of the more serious scratches. “These will heal up in no time, nothing major damaged.”
He spoke with a confident smile although in the back of his mind he knew how close to death he had to have been. He managed to leave out the fact that his whole torso felt battered and his arms still stung internally from the stress. It was enough to convince Juni that his condition was ok so that she wouldn’t worry.
“Ok… I’m so glad you’re ok. Come on, you should see this place. The old crazy guy has a lot of crazy stuff.”
“His name is Rupert, Jun and he’s the reason I’m alive right now, we should…” She was already running off excited to show him the new wonders. He followed her into the main part of the house. It had an open ceiling in the great room. The entire room was a mixture of different woodgrains from the assorted lumber and scraps Rupert had used to construct the place. From the lower level, Noah could see that the upstairs was nothing but a tiny bedroom with the essentials of a bed and small dresser, then there was a large room full of books. There were rows and rows of them lining floor to ceiling shelves on both sides of the room. There was a shorter set of shelves that made a sort of table top in the middle of the room. Both sides of the table were lined with books also. Some were large books, far too big to sit vertical in the shelves, so they sat flat, stacked on each other at the far ends of the shelves.
Although he had never become a gifted reader, Noah was struck with fascination toward that small room full of books. He could only imagine with creative wonder, what treasures of knowledge the old Sage kept. He was certain they must contain the history of the old times. Noah was certain that he must read them. In the back of the room there was an old wooden ladder climbing up the wall to a trap door on the ceiling. Noah assumed that it led to the balcony he had seen from the outside.
The downstairs was more roomy and appeared to contain the Sage’s active reading and writing projects. There was a lounge chair at the side of the room with an ottoman that matched. The cushion of the lounge was made of a worn tan leather and was concave as if old and well used. The ottoman served no function except for being stacked high with books of all sorts. Next to the chair there was a small table with several candle stands on it. The candles were burned down low and in need of replacement.
There was one large behemoth of a book sitting on the table. It had the appearance as being something of a holy book. It was bound in leather that had been dyed blue. The pages were not coarsely cut like most of the books Noah had ever seen, but rather they were even and precise. They were foiled with gold along their outer edges which gave the book the appearance of prominence compared to the other books of the room. Noah saw that the book was bulging unnaturally at its center, and he quickly realized that there was a tiny book much more insignificant in appearance stuffed into the middle of the book as a page keeper. He had to know what these were. He was suddenly overwhelmed by a need to know. His world felt much smaller than before and he needed to know what truths the past held, what dangers lurked in the present and what wonders were to behold in the future.
“Would you look at this!” Juni yelled.
In his trance like fascination with the Sage’s library of rare books, Noah had forgotten about his original purpose for walking into the room. Juni lay on the ground in front of the stone fireplace on a massive white fur rug. She was pretending to make snow angels in the thick fur.
“Isn’t it lovely! It feels so warm!”
Suddenly she popped up and ran over to the corner of the room.
“Look at this!” she squealed, she was standing next to a large suit of armor.
“How do you do kind Sir…” She said while pretending to be some princess or fair maiden. She curtsied and then took to hollow metal glove by the hand.
“Oh of course, I would love to.” She said as she placed her hand in front of her mouth as if she couldn’t believe what the inanimate prince had asked her. Then she began twirling around armor her arms held upward as if guided by her prince. She giggled, then grabbing the glove, she dipped herself.
“Oh brother…” Noah said sarcastically. He was intrigued, however by the massive suit of armor that Juni was waltzing with. It was far too large to be worn by a man. It looked like no other armor Noah had ever seen.
It stood about twice as tall as Noah which would make it over ten feet. At it’s core, it was constructed of a metal that Noah had never seen. It was highlighted with gold and bronze inlays. The metal did not look stitched together with ligaments like the hide armor Noah had seen, nor did it look tempered as if crafted by the pounding of a worksmith’s hammer. No, to Noah it looked as if the whole suit had been cast all at once with the intent to precisely fit the one who bore it. This someone had to be a goliath. It was not the armor of a troll because trolls wore skins and fur, nor could it be the armor of an orc, for it was far too elegant.
Noah determined that it must have come from the old world, before the fall, a time which Noah now realized he knew nothing of, but now yearned to know more than ever before.
Suddenly, Noah heard a whistling from the kitchen. “Tea’s ready!” Rupert called out.
“Come on Jun, let’s go.” Noah waved her toward the kitchen, not taking his eyes off the monolith of uncanny metal.
She stopped her waltzing and zoomed into the kitchen, apparently just as eager to explore the wonders of that room.
“What is that?” He heard her ask. “Oh wow! What does that do?”
Noah turned to go relieve the sage from his curious sibling’s assault, but first stopped to check the cover of the large blue book.
It had an unreadable title in gold lettering. He turned a few pages, they all were written in a fine printed gold text of some ancient language that Noah had never seen. There were no pictures, so Noah knew nothing of what the book might be about except that it looked old and important.
He flipped to the page that was kept, it looked the same as any of the others. The small book bore a hand written title in Noah’s own language. It read “Apeirogon’s Return”, but when Noah flipped it open, it was blank on every page. He thought that strange and decided that it must somehow fit into the rest of the strangeness of the old Sage’s house. He tried his best to put the books back exactly as he had found them, and then rushed into the kitchen.
When he entered he expected to see Juni wreaking havoc on the small kitchen, but instead she was seated calmly at the table drinking what smelled like honey tea. Rupert was standing by two other mugs that steamed with fresh tea.
“How do you drink your tea, Noah my boy?” Rupert gave him a look that revealed the man knew what had delayed Noah’s entry.
“Uh… just as it comes,” Noah said. He knew that was how many of the men of the village drank it and he didn’t want to admit that he and Juni drank theirs the same way.
“Have you ever had Jago root tea?” Rupert asked. Noah shook his head no. “You’ll want a little honey in there to take the grassy taste out. I’ll fix it up for you and then you can tell me how I do. OK?”
Noah nodded and then sat down by Juni who was licking the rim of her mug at that point. Rupert spun around toward them, the two mugs on a tray, and sat down across from Noah.
“Well now, what do you suppose we talk about over our tea?” Neither of the youths said anything at first. “I know one thing that we probably should talk about, straight away, you know as a formality. It’s always best, you see, to get the formalities taken care of first and then we may move on to livelier conversation. The first item of business is that we must make a deal, you two and I…”
He took the first sip of his tea, and Noah did the same, realizing that he had been waiting for Rupert to sip first, without knowing.
“Noah,” he continued. “I want you to stop me if you think I may be wrong here, but a deal is what I think is necessary to start things off.”
He sipped again. “I love hot tea, I don’t know that there is anything better except early morning coffee. Have you ever had coffee Noah?”
Noah shook his head no.
“Ahhh, one day…” he pondered this for a moment as if reminiscing over fond memories of the two beverages. “Ok, back to business. I think you both are old enough to realize that I have been banished. One of the expectations of my banishment is that I’m never supposed to speak with anyone from my village again.” He was speaking very business like which somehow comforted Noah. He knew that the command to never speak again to someone from your past was far more than an expectation. He also knew that the punishment for disregarding the commandments of banishment were severe along with the punishment for a member of the village who was caught having contact with someone who is banished. Neither outcome was one that he wanted to imagine, so he appreciated the unemotional, business like tone of what Rupert was saying.
“Now then, we could get in a great deal of trouble, you two and I, for even discussing this, especially casually over tea like we are.” Rupert sipped from his tea once more. “Ahh that’s good…” he said with a smile. “But the circumstances that we find ourselves in are cause for such radical action.”
“I don’t understand what you’re saying…” Juni stated in her most obvious childlike tone. Noah was glad that she had spoken up, he too had been at the verge of getting lost in imagining their fate if caught.
“What present circumstances?” Noah asked. “Are you talking about today with the pigs, or something else?”
“The danger and the darkness.” Rupert said mysteriously. “You see, these crazed animals that have been running amuck as of late are not a natural occurrence. They are a sign of dark days coming. Up until a few months ago the last crazed animal to wander into the light of the seal and so close to the village did so years ago when… Well when your father was…killed.”
Noah couldn’t help but look down at his feet. Juni frowned slightly, but had never truly known her father like Noah had. To Juni, ‘Dad’ was someone who had always been gone, except for the fleeting memories like the bedtime song and his smell.
“Recently I had seen some nocturnal animals in a crazed state, like badgers and sprite horns, but now the rock pigs are turning.”
“Noah killed a bear last week! It was crazed.”
“Is that true, Noah?” Rupert asked alarmed.
“Yes, its not quite how it sounds though…”
“Yes, it is!” Juni interrupted. “Every one is talking about it. Noah is a town hero right now.”
“A bear you say… that is impressive.”
“It was a little bear. A two year old male. He was crazed and severely dehydrated. It wasn’t much.”
“It appears that it was to those close to you.” He said as he motioned his hands toward Juni. “The point is that the darkness is advancing. We must be ready for it.”
“How do we do that?” Juni asked.
“We must strengthen the light of this village. You see, I used to be the wise man, the Sage of the village and I could lead the village during dark and uncertain times. Now however, the village has no voice, no authority on the ways of God and the light.”
“Noah’s a warrior though, he’s not a Sage.” Juni said.
“Noah’s a warrior, only because the village made him into a warrior. A lost people might think they need a warrior, when in fact they need the light and a Sage is the person who can spread that light. I can see from your eyes though Noah, that you are much more than a warrior. The village is stumbling in this dark time and knows not what it needs. It carves out warriors from the fold of children, when it desperately needs a sayer of truth. It needs one who walks in the light, a Harbinger of Light.”
“A Sage?” Juni asked.
Rupert nodded at her and then looked back at Noah. Noah was scrambling for any words to say. His eyes became wide and glassy. There was a part of him that so desperately wanted to be the light bringer that Rupert described, but he knew that the light was foreign even to him. He knew almost nothing of it, nor did he know of God. To Noah, the light had always been something out of reach and God, as a stranger to him.
“Are you asking us to be Sages?” Noah finally asked.
“Yes, I am.”
“But the village won’t listen to us. We’re just kids, no one follows kids. When you were Sage, the village listened. They won’t do that for us.”
“Everything that is light, starts with but a spark. The odds of someone seeing a spark are small, but if that spark is kindled, it will grow into a flame, and when the darkness comes, those with a kindled flame will be the leaders no matter who they are. A flame can light even the darkest days.”
He took a hard swallow of his tea as if the conversation was now more serious.
“What I ask of you is a difficult thing I know, but I believe that our paths have crossed for a very important reason. Our village is running out of time. Darkness is closing down on us and no one is noticing because they have not the light.”
“What should we do?”
“Return here as often as you can. Undetected of course. I will meet you at the falls too when necessary, but you can fetch water from my pump and so I think it would be best for us to meet here.”
“What do we come here for, besides water?”
“For a kindling of the flame that burns inside of you, a preparation for dark days that are surely ahead.”
Noah thought about this for a long time, while Rupert finished off his tea.
“What’s the book in your great room about?” Noah finally asked.
“The big one, the one with gold lettering?”
“That is the Book of the King…” Rupert said. Suddenly Noah thought he heard a voice from the great room. It spoke in a language that Noah had never heard.
“What was that?” Juni asked.
“The voice? You both heard it?” Rupert sounded excited. They both nodded in unison. “That was the book. It speaks, to those who are receptive.”
“Creepy old book!” Juni yelled excitedly. She ran into the great room, Noah and Rupert followed her.
“What language is it in, I can’t read it and when it speaks, I can’t understand it.”
“Not yet, but you will. The hardest point is believing that the book has a voice at all, and then being receptive enough to hear it when it speaks. It is written, but not meant to merely be read. Instead it must be experienced to fully be understood. It can never be understood by one who stands outside the light, that’s the reason you can’t understand it now. That is also the reason why I pray we can make a deal with each other here today.”
Noah and Juni looked at each other briefly. Noah knew the risks involved, but he knew he needed to find answers to these things he did not understand. Either way, he knew that Juni would follow his lead no matter what.
He turned back toward Rupert. “I guess we have a deal then.”
“I’m glad to hear that.” Rupert said smiling. “So the deal is that I will accompany you outside the village when you go to do your chores. I will help protect you from the wild and crazed animals of this world. Then we will train ourselves in the truth. Together we will learn about the light and also the approaching darkness. In return for this safety and instruction, I need you two to be my voices in the village. The Harbingers who will keep the village from being lost to the darkness.”
Noah shifted in his seat unsteadily. Sudden thoughts of his father’s death and the future of his village hit him all at once. Then there was but one thought, or rather a question. One that he could not avoid asking even for but a day. Something that needed to be asked, addressed and answered today.
“Rupert…?” Noah asked with shaky voice.
“Yes, my boy?”
“How did my father die?”
Rupert got very quiet for a moment and Noah thought that maybe he had greatly upset the Sage. Then Rupert downed the last of his tea.
“I’ll put some more tea on.” He said and then got up. He held the kettle up to some metal mechanism and then began lifting and lowering a handle that was attached at the mechanism’s top. Soon Noah heard the slurping sound of water, like the sound at the center of a river whirlpool. Suddenly water came pouring out of the hole and into Rupert’s kettle.
“What is that?!” Juni asked in amazement.
“Oh this, this is a pump. I can draw water from the falls with a couple of pumping cycles on this handle. An old man has to save himself from what troubles he can.”
He put the tea onto his small black iron cooking stove and fumbled under the counter for something else for a moment. He emerged back over the table holding a large watering can.
“Juni, my dear girl. You saw my lovely garden when you came in right?” He turned to Juni and Juni nodded. “I was wondering if you and Orcy wouldn’t mind weeding and watering my garden for me. I’d make sure that there was some honey wax waiting here for you when you finished.”
Juni looked as if she would squeal with excitement at any second.
“Yea huh! I can definitely do that!” She loved taking care of all things. Especially flowers and plants which she thought couldn’t take care of themselves. She hastily took the big watering can from Rupert and put it by the pump. She grabbed a chair and slid it over to the counter. She climbed up and pumped water into it until it was full. She had to hoist it from the counter to the chair with all her strength, and then from the chair down to the floor.
She grunted and gruffed as she held it with both hands lifting it only inches from the ground. Noah laughed because she was like some angry bullfrog the way she stood and the noises she was making.
“Now make sure you get the weeds, and don’t pick the flowers, because they keep the bad bugs out.” Rupert said.
She nodded and then wobbled out, grunting like Orcy. Water sloshed out of the top of the can and onto the floor in spots, but eventually she made her way outside.
Rupert and Noah watched her exit, then Rupert turned back to Noah.
“No bother about the water. I’ll clean it up later.”
He checked and the tea smelled ready even though it hadn’t whistled yet. He took it off the fire and poured them some, preparing it just as before. Then he sat back down across from Noah and handed him his tea.
Several times he acted as though he might speak, but then he would stop and adjust in his seat as if uneasy. He eventually leaned forward. Perhaps it was a cloud passing between the seal and the Sage’s house, but to Noah it all of a sudden grew darker in the room.
“You must first understand that it is difficult for me to speak about this. It involves my friend whom I miss dearly, and it involves the Wizard. Once we speak of this you will never again be the same. It is like knowing the darkness first hand. Are you sure you want to know about the Wizard?” He finally said, more serious than Noah had ever seen a man.
With an unsteady hand, Noah took his mug and sipped his tea. He swallowed hard and then with glassy eyes and shakey voice he nodded and said, “I need to know.”
The old Sage’s garden was ginormous to Juni. She had no idea where to even start. He was definitely behind on maintenance, there were weeds and wild grasses growing everywhere.
She figured that weeding might be a good place to start. She certainly didn’t want to waste her time watering the weeds. Orcy started running after some flies that were buzzing around the garden. Juni thought the Sage might use compost and that was probably cause for a fly or two. Orcy was good at chomping flies and Juni knew that if they stuck around the garden, Orcy would probably get them.
She had trained him not to go after bugs like butterflies, dragonflies and bumblebees, but he knew that flies were fair game. He ran through a section of tall grass jumping and chomping at a big black buzzing fly.
She set to the task of weeding, starting at the part of the garden closest to the house and began working her way out toward the fence made of rocks and sticks. The ground had been tilled and was dark and fertile, so all the weeds came up easily at least. The tall grasses were a bit tougher to uproot, but Juni did her best to get rid of them.
Hours seemed to pass and the afternoon got hot and muggy. Juni kept picking weeds until she had cleared the whole garden. Orcy had eaten what few flies he could catch and was napping on the front porch.
She wiped sweat from her forehead and went back toward the watering can. Suddenly she heard voices. She walked around the corner of the house to see who it was and realized that the voices were coming from an open window. It must have been Noah and Rupert talking inside. She started to walk back, but suddenly heard Noah’s voice distinctly and it sounded shaky, almost threatened.
The hair on her neck tingled. She quickly ran to get the watering can to use it as a step ladder so she could get closer to the window. It was still full of water so she walked hastily around the garden dumping generous amounts of water onto the plants and flowers that appeared most in need of it.
Finally, she ran around once more to the side of the house, this time dragging the watering can behind her. Her hurriedness sparked Orcy’s concern and the dog decided to tag along to see what was the matter.
She put the watering can down to the ground and stepped up onto it. She could still hear them debating and turned her head so her ear was closest to the window. It was Rupert’s voice she heard next.
“Dark mist…survive in the…dragon comes.”
“Dragon!” Noah’s voice said louder than his.
“…quiet…around…closer each day.” Juni found Rupert hard to understand even when face to face. At this distance, through a window, keeping balance on a watering can it was almost impossible.
She heard Noah’s voice again, much quieter than before.
“… believe you, I can’t…” he said. “…, my mother, the whole village!”
Now there was movement and Juni knew her time was short, she hopped off the watering can and bolted around the side of the house. She quickly pretended to be pouring water over some gumberry bushes, and started humming a tune out loud.
Noah came storming out of the front door, grabbing his buckets along the way. He set Juni’s bucket down near her and started walking away down the trail.
“Juni its time to go.” He said solemnly.
“Oh, ok… Just finishing up.” She stopped pouring her imaginary water and skipped over toward the front porch.
Rupert stood at the door.
“Just think on it a bit and let me know what you decide.” Rupert said without stepping out of the house.
Juni set the can on the porch. “Thanks a bunch for letting me water your flowers.”
“No thank you dear. Perhaps we’ll see each other again soon and I’ll get you that honey wax I promised.”
She nodded. “And thanks for saving our lives because I know you did.”
Juni turned back toward Noah who was facing them as if to protest the notion of being saved by the Sage, but he just stared at Rupert for a moment and then waved bye. He started walking towards the trail without saying anything.
“Come on Orcy!” She shouted back at the dog as she ran to catch up. “It’s time to go home.”
With eager enthusiasm the dog ran after them grunting and snorting like a piglet.
They made their way down the mountain. The Sage had cut out a small trail that led quickly back to the village and bypassed the falls entirely.
“Wait!” Juni said finally as the village gate came into view.
Noah slowed a bit, then hesitated and kept walking forward.
“I said wait…I twisted my ankle, I think its bad.”
“What…how?” Noah spun back toward her with alarm. The smile on her face let him know that it was a farce just to get him to stop. “You’re rotten!”
“No, I need you to stop. What is wrong, I can tell that something’s wrong.”
“I want to get back before dark. Let’s go.”
Juni looked up at the sky, of course it got a little darker in the evening, but the light of the Seal glowed brightly even on the darkest of nights. Noah started walking once more toward the gate.
“I know!” Juni exclaimed as she ran up ahead of him.
As Noah walked forward towards her, she began making clucking sounds and moving around like a chicken. Her arms she folded up like wings and she bobbed her neck as she walked around clucking and scratching the ground with her feet like one of the hens. It was a game that they had played their whole childhood. They imitated animals and people from the village trying to get the other to laugh.
Noah smiled, but he did not laugh. “Nugget” he said sharply.
“Ok.” she said as her stance regained it’s human qualities. “Ah, I got another one…”
She started doing cartwheels in a circle around Noah. He was perplexed.
“Hey Noah!” She shouted as she rounded another cartwheel in front of him. He thought, but didn’t see a connection to anyone or anything in the village.
“Hey Noah!” She shouted as she came about again. “Give up?”
“That’s not anything.”
“Yes it is…” She said from behind. “Hey Noah!” She shouted again as she wheeled round in front of him, her face turning red from all the spinning.
“No that’s nothing.”
“It’s me! I’m pretending to be me!” She continued to turn cartwheels around him.
“Uhhh, you don’t do that.” he said in protest.
“Yes I do, I’m doing it right now.”
“That’s not fair.”
“Ok…ok” She stopped a moment to catch her breath. “Ok, I got one. Just hold on a second let me rest.”
Noah stood there holding his buckets. He also picked up Juni’s and attached it to the rest. “Ok, but I want to get back. I have to think”
“About what? What is it Noah…You have to tell me. I’m your sister.”
“No, I have to get it straight in my mind first.”
She stood there, and for a moment Noah thought that she might carry the conflict further, but instead she sunk down to the ground and curled into a little ball. She sighed heavily and Noah thought for a second that she was sad and deeply affected by the fact that Noah was keeping something from her.
Suddenly she sprang up on all fours and started crawling around wildly. Noah realized that it was the next impression. He loved her childish lighthearted nature. She snorted like a pig and Noah knew who or what she was impersonating.
He tried his hardest not to laugh, it really wasn’t the time to do so. He really had to get his thoughts in order as to what to do next. There was a new fear inside of him, some haunting darkness that wasn’t there that morning, and from his soul it demanded to be dealt with.
As he stood there, however, watching his little sister clamor about snorting and grunting, pretending to be Orcy, he could not help but laugh. For a second, everything that Rupert had told him, faded away and he belted out with laughter. After all, she really did look ridiculous.
“Ha!!! I got you!” she yelled as she crawled around as a dog. Orcy just sat there staring at the two of them, his head tilted slightly to the side in confusion. “Now you have to go.”
“No, I’m not going to. We need to get back to the house. I don’t want to be too late to where they ask questions.”
She stood up. Suddenly she puffed her chest out and began walking towards Noah. He realized that she had already slipped into another impersonation.
“We have to get back now, we don’t have time for more goofs.” He said.
She tried to keep a straight face as she approached him very statuesque. She jutted her lower jaw out and kept her head up. When she got close to him she could tell that he was still unsure whether to protest or play along.
“Always serious, that’s what I like about you kid!” she said in the deepest voice she could muster. Despite her jutting jaw, the edges of her mouth formed a smile as she struggled to keep a straight face.
“Hahuh… You’re gonna be captain of the guard some day you know!” She punched him in the arm. “And I’ll be the old fart in charge of the village!” her smile was uncontainable, and she broke from character impressed with her mimicking skills.
Noah’s face contorted as he realized who she was jesting. She watched as a coldness swept across his face. She could see the ripples of muscles in his cheeks as he clenched his jaw down tight. His eyes glazed as his gazed went from her smiling face to the village gate that stood but fifty yards from them.
“We’re done here. Let’s get back.”
They walked in silence the rest of the way.
When they entered the village, Noah looked about as if suddenly worried for their safety, but the village guard on duty said nothing and stood there stoically as they passed. They were used to the siblings returning somewhat late from a day getting distracted with adventures and play.
That evening, Noah prepared a couple of eggs, and their ration of leafy greens from the village garden. At dinner, Juni noticed that the coldness had not left Noah’s eyes. He had more than just a silence about him. His mind must have been scrambling for answers to hundreds of new questions. She knew that there was probably only one person who could answer his questions, but didn’t get the impression that Noah would want to go back to the Sage.
She decided that it was best to leave her older brother alone for the time being. She finished her dinner, scraped the rest to Orcy and went to her room. What ever the two of them had spoken of, it had clearly effected Noah’s demeanor considerably. She knew that her brother would eventually tell her everything and this would be no exception, so waiting was best.
When she got into bed that night, she had trouble sleeping for the first time that she could remember. Somehow she felt as if everything was going to change now. One word kept repeating in her head over and over again…Dragon.