The Light Wand and the Ice Blade Chapter 6
The Dark World
Seth growled in disgust as he entered the small town of Court Seim. His eyes
scanned the backwater town. He heard the stream flowing its course within
the town. A few people were scattered among the streets. "Not a very lively
town," he muttered doubting that he would find valuable information about
the Photosphere in this isolated place.
The town was surrounded by forests on three sides. To the north and south, they were surrounded by water and to the northwest, by mountains. The nearest town was a good three day sail east to Milama Village. Seth was beginning to harbor strong doubts of milking information from the inhabitants.
It took him a day to fly the distance from the crater to this isolated town as he had predicted. Though he detested humans, he could not escape the fact that he was drained of his energy. Flying through the air at top speed is draining. He had foolishly expended his energy, thinking that the town would not have any clue to what he was searching for. He growled as he walked the short distance from the entrance of the town to the inn which was straight ahead of him.
Farther down the street, children from the orphanage gazed at the stranger in wonder. One of them pointed at the axe that was slung across his back and whispered, "Dream Chaser." This stirred up more excitement as they began to echo the title among themselves. They began to walk towards the stranger to satisfy their curiousity.
Seth turned as he heard the children shouting to him. "Hey mister!" a scrawny boy called. "Can we see your axe? Please?" He stared at him with pleading eyes. His friends around him echoed the plea as they began to surround Seth.
Seth glared at them but they seemed more determined. He had an urge to kill the little brats, his hand inching towards the handle but he stopped before his bloodlust would overcome him. His mission was to search for the Photosphere and to not harm the inhabitants of Filgaia.
The children jumped in glee as they saw his hand inch t! owards the handle. His hand then stopped and fell limp at his side. They cried in disappointment and were about to insist the stranger to show them his axe when they heard a shout from behind. "Children, leave that poor man alone!" A middle-aged nun came running towards them.
"But Sister Bridgett," the same scrawny boy whined as the nun reached them.
"No 'buts'," the nun replied firmly. "Now all of you go back to the orphanage.
You've wasted this man's time long enough." The children whined as they went
back to the building at the far end of the dirt street, some stealing glances
at the stranger.
"Sorry for the trouble the children have caused," Sister Bridgett apologized. "You see, hardly any Dream Chasers visit this small town and well, children can become very curious at times." She offered a smile to Seth.
Seth politely nodded even though he detested doing it to a human. "There was no harm done," he said as he took a glance at the inn. "If you will excuse me, sister. I am tired from my journey and I wish to rest."
"Oh, of course!" exclaimed the nun. "I hope you enjoy your stay here in Court Seim. Good day, Dream Chaser." She then walked off to the orphanage to attend to the still whining children.
Seth watched her go before walking towards the inn. He looked at the small building before entering it altogether. He scanned the room, glaring at the innkeeper and at another man standing to the side. The inn was simple enough with only three beds on the side. "Pathetic," Seth whispered. He expected to have his own room but it seemed that he had to share the entire first floor with two other strangers, that is if there were any being lodged in.
He stepped in front of the counter and glared at the innkeeper. "Welcome," the innkeeper greeted nervously as he wrung his hands in anxiety. The way the stranger glared at him made him feel uneasy. "The charge to stay at this establishment is ten gella. . . Would you like to stay this evening?"
Seth fished in his pockets for ten gella. He came out with thirty gella and tossed it on the counter. "Three nights," Seth stated, "and some information."
"I-Information?" the innkeeper queried as he took the gella and stash it into his pockets. "Of what may I ask?"
"Do you know the whereabouts of the Photosphere?" the disguised demon asked both the innkeeper and th! e other who stood next to the doorway.
Both shook their heads. "Never heard of the place," the other man replied. "You should try the pub. The bartender there knows a lot about the outside world, second to the bounty hunter that lives at the northern part of town. You shouldn't try your luck with her though. My best bet is the pub. Eliza, the bartender, usually picks up information that Dream Chasers often leave behind."
"Where is this pub?" Seth asked as he went by the door.
"Down the street, to your right." The man pointed to Seth's right. "It has a sign that says 'pub'. You can't miss it."
Seth exited the building and walked towards the direction of the pub without showing any gratitude to the man. He took a closer look at the town as he walked the dirt path. He passed an abandoned house as he continued to traverse the street. Its windows were dusty and lined with cobwebs. Seth muttered in repulsion as he took a glimpse. "This is a very pathetic excuse for a town," he uttered as he saw the pub ahead of him.
He slowly entered the building, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the darkness of the room. He could see a lone table in the corner of the room where a wiry man sat drinking a bottle of ale.
The man placed his bottle down and belched. He then looked over at Seth and gave a wide grin. "Welcome stranger!" he greeted loudly before taking a swig from his bottle again.
Seth ignored the poor drunken fool as he made his way to the bar. He took a seat at the far edge of the counter as he studied the barkeep. She was about the same age as the nun he met outside. Her thin hands easily wiped down glasses and placed them in cabinets beneath the counter. She had a crooked grin as she worked, taking pleasure in her little chore. She looked up when she saw Seth settled into a chair. "What'll it be?" the bartender asked roughly.
"Nothing," Seth answered as he gazed at her from beneath his hood. "I just want some information. I've been told that you know a lot a! bout Filgaia's ruins."
"Yes," the lady nodded as she started wiping another glass. "Dream Chasers use to flood this tavern a long time ago and they've always told their adventures in exchange for food and drink. What, may I ask, are you searching for?"
"The Photosphere," Seth replied. "I know that it's strange for a lone Dream Chaser to look for the Metal Demons' lair after so many years after the war," he added quickly when he saw her eyes grow wide and her mouth open slightly in surprise.
The beautiful bartender placed the glass away and went over to Seth. She then took a seat across from him and looked at him. "This is serious business," she said gravely as she leaned forward. "It's true that the Photosphere was the lair of the Metal Demons but to actually seek it, that is very unusual. I know of only six people that went there and came back alive."
Seth snickered. "Are you saying that I won't make it out alive if I do find it?" The bartender nodded. Seth threw his head back and bellowed aloud. "I assure you that I am capable of taking care of myself." He pointed at his weapon slung across his back.
"I'm sure you are," the bartender agreed as she sat back. "But the Photosphere is highly inaccessible." Seth raised an inquisitive brow. "It's somewhere beneath the Inner Sea," she answered his look. "Maybe near the town of Ship Graveyard. Debris from that thing has been washing up on the beach of that town for the last twenty years. The Photosphere must be too heavy to be washed ashore in one piece by the currents."
"So it's beneath the sea," mused Seth as he crossed his arms in front of his chest and leaned back. "Interesting."
The woman stood up from her chair. "I believe you found the information you are looking for. Good luck in exploring it, that is if you can breathe underwater." She smirked at him as she went back to her chore of cleaning wine glasses. She heard a chink as gella dropping onto the counter. She looked up and saw the stranger tossing a f! ew gella her way. She picked one up and gazed at him questioningly.
"As a sign of gratitude," Seth responded. He hated showing kindness to humans but he had to remain inconspicuous. He then walked out of the pub, giving a brief stare at the drunken fool that wasn't so drunk anymore. Seth didn't notice the man's soberness as he quickly exited the building, excited about the information he just received.
The wiry man detached himself from the table and slowly made his way to the
counter. "Who was that, Eliza?" he asked as he took a seat.
Eliza sighed as she stopped wiping her glass for the second time. "Your guess is as good as mine." She stared at him realizing that his drunken stupor was gone, which was surprisingly quick to her seeing that he was in an uproar a moment ago. His expression was very calm and grave. "Is something the matter, McDullen?"
"As a matter of fact, yes," McDullen answered as he folded his hands upon the counter and leaned forward. "I overheard your conversation with him even though you were whispering. Voices due tend to carry in the wind in a quiet town like this. Why was he asking about the Photosphere?"
"Why do you want to know?" Eliza countered. McDullen just stared at her. "Oh, right!" Eliza exclaimed as recognition dawned. "You were one of the six that went into the Photosphere." She shook her head as she smiled at her own foolishness. "Frankly, I don't know," she answered McDullen's question.
"I see," whispered the wiry man. He took out a couple of gella and placed them on the counter. "Here's your payment. I must be going. You'll never know when Madam Maxwell might need me." He nodded to Eliza before quickly leaving the pub and heading towards Nicholi's house to tell Jane the news that someone is trying to find the Photosphere.
The people of Adlehyde were celebrating within the recently completed plaza.
It took six days to rebuild the damaged plaza, most of it being done by Cecil
and Rudy. The people were rejoicing and dancing, laughing and crying. Food
was brought from the castle's storage and they feasted. The feasting lasted
from the day through the night.
Cecil and Jill smiled as they ambled through the crowd to get to the statue memorial where Rudy was waiting for them. "A toast!" a man blurted out as he waved his mug towards the royal children. "To the Adlehyde Royal Family!" His toast was echoed around the plaza.
The twins were compelled to stop. Cecil motioned for a mug and when he had received it, he grinned and shouted, "Many thanks for the cheer! Let's drink to good health and to many days of prosperity!" He held his goblet high before gulping the liquid.
"Hear, hear!" many cried as they too raised their goblets and drank.
Cecil finished draining the contents of the vessel and gave it to one of the many attendants that were making passes among the crowd to gather up the mugs. Cecil looked around the rowdy crowd before turning to Jill. "Shall we continue?" he asked as he pushed her gently through the crowd.
"That was a good toast," she complimented him softly. "I hope that we will have many days of prosperity and that father's and mother's health do return."
Cecil only nodded. They eventually made it through the sea of bodies and saw the statue a little ways before them. Rudy stood in front of it, looking up at the figures, his hand upon the inscription. His gaze shifted from the statue to the twins as he saw them approach. "Here we are, Rudy," Jill said as they reached him. "Why have you called us to meet you here?"
It was true that the captain called them to meet him. It was a serious matter for Rudy as he stared at the statue one more time as if seeking strength from it. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly as he fixed his gaze on the twins. "This may sound h! arsh," he began, "but we must leave soon on our journey. We must not dawdle because these demons may be making their moves already."
"But, mother has not awaken yet," Cecil objected. "I would think more clearly on our journey knowing that mother and father are all right. Besides, Jill and I have decided that when she wakes up, we will leave on our journey, if that's all right with you."
Rudy nodded. "It took Cecilia a week to mourn her father's death before moving on. I guess we could do the same but if she does not awaken before the week is over, we must go."
"I know she will awake soon," Jill whispered as she clutched the Tear Drop to her heart. She looked up at the castle and the half moon that shone behind the walls of the ancient building. "I know she will."
The doctor could hear the sound of celebration from the royal chambers located
towards the back of the castle. He stood over Cecilia's body, cleansing her
wounds with a wet rag. He turned to a basin of warm water situated on the
table near the bed and wrung the wet cloth. Bandages were next to the basin
which he took next and began wrapping them around her wounds. It was when
he was nearly finished with his task that he saw signs of stirring.
Cecilia began to moan and her fingers moved a bit. The doctor finished his task and set on calling to her majesty to see if she would respond. "Your majesty?" he whispered softly.
Cecilia moaned again and slowly opened her eyes beneath the bandage. She saw nothing but darkness. "What happened?" she asked in a daze. "Where am I?"
The doctor smiled in relief. "Everything will be all right," he replied as he placed a hand on Cecilia's forehead to check for a fever. He then checked her pulse and nodded to himself in relief. "I'll get his majesty," he offered, "just don't move too much. I don't want you to reinjure yourself."
He turned to the basin and lifted it in his hands. He was about to exit when the queen stopped him with a question. "Who are you?"
"I'm sorry," the doctor apologized as he turned towards her. "I am Doctor Bedwin. You've been under my care since the attack. I'll let his majesty explain what happened for the details are a bit sketchy to me. If you would excuse me, your majesty, I will retrieve his highness so that you may know the answers you are seeking." Cecilia heard the door open and shut as the doctor exited the room. All she could do was wait in total darkness.
Jack watched the festivities from the battlements of the castle. He wished
that he was among his people but his leg would ache by the time he would
reach the entrance to the plaza. His hand automatically went to his wounded
leg as he rubbed it, wincing slightly. Even standing for long periods of
time began to tire him. He turned as he heard someone approaching from
"Sorry to have disturbed you, sire," the doctor bowed, his robe rustling with the movement. "I have brought good news this night which suits the celebration of the newly build plaza. Her majesty, the queen, has finally awaken!"
Jack beamed at the news. "Truly?" The doctor nodded with a smile. "Then this is good news indeed!" Jack exclaimed as he hobbled towards the doctor. "Will you go and find my children and the captain for me please? And tell them to meet me in my chamber. I would greatly appreciate it."
"As your majesty wishes," the doctor replied, "but there are some things I must tell you first before leaving. Her majesty is a bit confused right now and, I believe, a bit afraid. I ask that you be patient with her for a while. A lot has happened and she needs time to adjust, if you know what I mean."
The king nodded understanding fully that the doctor was referring to Cecilia's blindness. "Thank you for everything," he said gratefully. "I will heed your advice."
"You do that," nodded Bedwin as he left to find Rudy and the royal children.
Jack stared at his retreating form before deciding to follow him into the castle. He slowly made his way north in the hallway as he saw the doctor descend to the first floor of the castle. The king had to pause at the stairwell, his leg aching with the effort of walking. He took a few breaths before ascending to the last floor of the castle. He leaned heavily on his cane as he slowly crept up the steps. With effort, he made it to the landing and had to pause again for the throbbing in his leg to subside. "At this rate, I won't be able to w! alk at all," he muttered under his breath as he resumed his walking.
It was a short distance from the stairwell to his room but it seemed to be a mile to Jack as he turned the corner and saw the door before him. He had to pause again before inching his way towards the knob. He slowly turned the handle and entered the room, silently shutting the door behind. "Who's there?" Cecilia's voice called as Jack made his way into the room. "Jack?"
He was relieved to find that the doctor was kind enough to leave a chair by the bed as he slowly sat down. He growled softly as he bent down and rub his throbbing leg. He then sat up as the throbbing subsided a bit and took a hold of Cecilia's hand. "Yes, it's me," he answered her gently. "How do you feel? Are you in any pain?"
Cecilia tried shaking her head in answer but grimaced as she felt waves of nausea overcome her. "I guess I'm still a bit sore from that blast," she answered softly as the waves of nausea slowly drifted away.
"And alive," Jack added softly. "In that one moment, I thought I had lost you." He clutched her hand in both of his to make sure that this moment was truly real and not a dream. To see that she was truly alive, that she was flesh and blood.
Cecilia squeezed his hand to make sure that he was real, that this wasn't the afterlife. "I am alive but how?"
"Jill managed to close your wound in time," he explained to her. "If she waited any longer, you would have bled to death. Her magic is very powerful to have closed that mortal wound."
"According to the text Anje found, she and Cecil are very powerful; powerful enough to defeat this new threat that we could not," whispered Cecilia.
"Yes," agreed Jack. He turned when he heard footsteps approaching from the doorway. Rudy, Jill, and Cecil quietly filed into the room.
"Who came in?" Cecilia questioned when she heard the footsteps. "Damn my eyes! Why is this bandage covering them?"
Jack turned to regard the others, his face drawn with ! worry and sympathy. Rudy looked at the twins with the same look and they just shrugged their shoulders, unsure of how to break the news to their mother. Jack then decided to answer her first question before explaining the delicate subject. "Rudy and our children have joined us. As for your eyes. . ." His voice trailed off, unsure of how to explain it to her.
Seeing her father at a lost for words, Jill decided to take the responsibility from him. She walked to her father and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Don't worry, father," she assured him as he looked up at her. "I'll do it."
Jack sighed and nodded, relieved that his daughter wished to take the responsibility from him. The truth is he was tired from everything. From ruling, fighting, responsibility: everything. He had wished to live in a peaceful world but he knew that could not be for Filgaia was a magnet for danger. After these Metal Demons will be defeated, who's next? Who would come and try to destroy Filgaia or rule it for that matter? Now he has the duty of caring for his wife, a duty that was bestowed upon him on their wedding day. He had made a vow and he planned on fulfilling it.
Jill smiled at him despite the tension she felt around the room. She then took a deep breath and removed her hand from her father's shoulder before moving closer to Cecilia. "Do you remember anything from the battle, mother?" she asked softly.
"I remember. . ." Cecilia began. "I remember the arrow that pierced your father's leg, the fiery missile that blew the platform asunder."
"After that?" Jill queried. She felt the tension mounting as she gazed at the others gathered in the room. Cecil was staring straight ahead at the window as if there was something fascinating out there, Rudy looked sullen as he paced back and forth, and her father continued to stroke Cecilia's hand as if to calm her. She knew that the critical moment will arrive with her mother's answer.
Cecilia couldn't see their expressions but she could feel th! e tension in the air. She tried to recall the rest of the battle for she knew that the answer was near. "Bow fired a fake shot and that's when. . ." She finally figured it out. She was afraid to ask what was the result of the burning in her eyes but she must know. "That wasn't a fake shot was it?"
Cecil stopped gazing out at the window and looked towards his mother as did Rudy when he stopped pacing. Jack clutched Cecilia's hand as if to lend her strength. There was an eerie silence in the room as Jill tried to gather her thoughts. "Yes, that wasn't a fake shot," she finally answered after a moment's pause. "It was an arrow. An arrow that blinded you." There. The truth was finally out. Again, the tension was palpable as they waited on Cecilia's reaction.
So that was it, Cecilia thought to herself. That's what everyone was feeling uneasy about. "So I am blind," she said, "condemned to live in darkness forever. Will I ever see your smiling faces again? The warmth of our sun? The bright azure sky?" Her mood became melancholy as she reminisced of the world she saw through her eyes. She turned her head towards Jack and moved her hand up to his face. "Will I be able to see your handsome face with your radiant eyes and lopsided grin?" Her hand dropped to the bed as she answered her own questions, "I think not."
"Cecilia, what are you trying to say?" Jack asked, alarmed by her mood. "You sound as if you have given up all hope."
"Hope?" Cecilia replied acidly. "Hope lies in the world of light. There's only despair in the world of darkness."
"Mother," Cecil whispered sadly to himself. He didn't want to see his mother so forlorn and angry. He silently cursed, blaming himself for her pain. If only I had the strength and will to see that arrow, I would have been able to stop its flight.
Cecilia's biting words grieved Rudy's heart. The power of hope resided within him. He still remembers how Zephyr, the Guardian of Hope, had been released. From the light of ! hope that had shone in his heart. To lose hope and go into despair hurts him more than death itself. "There is always hope," he said. "Hope lies within the heart. Cecilia, open your heart and let hope shine in you once again."
"Hope," Cecilia repeated the word softly. "Hope for what? Hope for this war to end? Hope for the best? Hope seems to be an empty word full of empty promises."
"But it gives us a reason to go on," Jill countered. "It drives us to make the impossible possible."
Another eerie silence ensued. The celebration in the plaza had long ceased. Only the roaring of the torches' flames could be heard as Cecilia reflected upon the things that were spoken.
"Think on it during the night, Cecilia," Jack said as he caressed her cheek. "A lot has happened and I don't want you to be burdened from it. We'll take this one day at a time. I promise to be by your side as always." He bent over and kissed her softly on the cheek. "Sleep now. You need your rest." He stood up and motioned Jill to douse the flames with the vase that was situated in the northwest corner of the room.
Jill looked at her father skeptically. She knew for a fact that the vase was empty, she even saw it herself. Jack saw the look of doubt on her face and couldn't help but smile. "Go ahead," he urged her.
She did her father's bidding, doubt still shown clearly on her face. The vase was ordinary looking to her as she gazed at it from its stand. It was a brown earthenware pot that she took into her hands. It felt very light to her and she gazed inside of it. Nothing resided within. "Father, are you sure about this?" she asked uncertainly as she studied the pot.
"Yes, I'm sure," replied her father. "Tip the vase over as if you're pouring something. Water will flow out and douse the flames. Why are you full of doubt?"
"Because there's nothing in here," Jill answered as she moved to one of the torches. "But if you say there is water, I believe you." She tipped the vase over and gasped in! surprise as water flowed easily out to extinguish the flame. "But . . . how?" She was at a lost for words as she stared at the pot. There was still nothing inside.
Rudy smirked at Jack, playing along with his joke. Jack returned the grin. Rudy then turned to Jill. "The vase you hold pours out an endless supply of water," he explained. "We found it at the Dragon Shrine during our adventures. It was a useful tool in putting out fires and it's still is."
"Well, you could have told me that sooner than standing there laughing at me," Jill replied a little angrily as she extinguished the last torch. The room was suddenly bathed in silver and Jill had to carefully make her way back to the stand to return the vase.
"Come," Jack beckoned them as he saw Jill return the vase to its stand. "There are some things I want to talk about and the night isn't getting any younger." He led them out of the room. They gathered quietly in the hallway as Rudy shut the door behind him. Jack gazed at them as he collected his thoughts. He took a deep breath before speaking. "I never saw Cecilia so deptressed before. To tell you the truth, I don't know what to do. But, I have a request to ask of you."
"What is it father?" Jill asked.
"I want you to search for a cure while on your journey. I believe there is a cure since her blindness was done by magic."
Jack's theory was sound as they all nodded in agreement. "We will try father," Cecil agreed, "but we cannot promise anything."
"As long as you try," Jack said. "There's no harm in hoping for a cure but I truly feel that there is one." He yawned, suddenly feeling tired. "That's all I wanted to say. We all must be tired. Let's all retire to our rooms and get some rest."
Jill and Cecil said their good-nights before going to their own separate rooms. Jack turned to Rudy who remained behind. "Any advice you can give, my friend? Anything is better than nothing."
Rudy smiled gravely. "Stay close to her, Jack," he advised. "She h! as lost her spirit. I know it. I feel it. She's not the same as she used to be. Always be by her side, not as a king, but as a loving husband. This may be the best medicine for her right now."
"Thank you for the advice,"Jack said gratefully. "I will always be by her side. I intended it to be that way. In sickness and in health. That was one of the vows I made in marriage and I intend to keep it." Rudy nodded sadly and bowed before going to his own quarters.
Jack watched his friend leave before turning to the door of his chamber. "Justine," he prayed to the Guardian of Courage as he turned the knob and entered the room, "help me overcome this. Please lend me your strength to guide me through this difficult time." He felt strength well in him as he moved further into the room and sat on the chair. He closed his eyes and the last thing he heard was a lion's roar before drifting away on the sea of dreams.
The word seemed to echo all around Cecilia as she blindly walked in darkness. "Hope," she whispered as she continued to walk through the darkness. She stopped as a blare of light flashed before her, blocking her path. A scene presented itself within the light as her eyes adjusted to the intense glare.
As she studied the scene closely, she recognized it as the time when her father was lying on his deathbed. "But my passion to save Filgaia is no lie. How can I convince you?" she had asked Jack, determined to get the best of him. She wouldn't have given up, no matter how many times he would have refused her. "Your sword . . . May I please use your sword?" Jack had reluctantly handed her his sword and she cut her hair with it. "Your sword has severed my past . . . I plead again, please join me in reclaiming peace." Jack had agreed and thus won her first battle by never giving up.
The pillar of light vanished and she continued on the dark path, reflecting on the things she had seen in the pillar's light. "I was so determined," she said, "but that was twenty years ago. Things are different now." Another pillar of light flashed before her and yet another scene showed itself.
This scene was of Rudy's haven dream. This was when she fought the dream-eating demon, Elizabeth. She watched herself watching Rudy's dream unfold. "That child is . . . Rudy? So this is his childhood," she had said to herself as all the children shunned Rudy for his uncanny strength as he easily lifted a crate over his head. The scene then shifted to her desparately trying to reach Rudy's heart. "I know being with the old man Zepet is comfortable for you, but that's an ancient memory! This is an illusion. . . The old man is dead!" Zepet then became annoyed by Cecilia's cries and turned into the dream-eating demon. "If you want him, you'll have to beat me first," the demon threatened. "I wonder if a noisy brat like you could do that?" Then the scene shifted a! gain to her holding Rudy in her arms and crying out to him. "Be strong, Rudy! You're not alone . . ."
You're not alone . . .
The scene faded with those words echoing in Cecilia's heart. She continued on the path, again reflecting on the past. "He wasn't alone. I am not alone," she spoke to herself. "Yet why do I shun them? Have I lost trust in them? Or is it because I'm afraid?" For the third time, another pillar of light presented itself in front of Cecilia.
This time it showed her and Rudy and Jack standing atop the pyramid in Baskar Village. Rudy was trying to call out to Zephyr, the Guardian of Hope. The runes of Courage and Love glowed as they too tried to call to Zephyr. "Are you trying to open the path to the future with the light from your heart?" the lion of courage asked. "You are an artificial being. An artificial heart cannot bring a bright future. You cannot call the future wind. Why do you still seek the future of Filgaia? How can you do that?"
"You're all alone in this world," the goddess of love scoffed. "You are a stranger that does not belong anywhere. . . How can you try to open the future to this world? Can you believe in dreams?"
Rudy turned back, discouraged by the Guardians' biting words. Jack and Cecilia saw the hopelessness in his face. "You never gave up. . ." Jack encouraged him. "As long as you have that spirit, you'll always be right for this world."
"It is because of you, Rudy, that we were able to believe in the future," Cecilia had added. "Please don't think that you don't belong to this world. . . We need you in this world. . ." Rudy then turned back to the light and the Guardian of Hope made himself known to them and lended them his power.
The scene vanished and again Cecilia was bathed in darkness. "What's the point with all these visions?" she cried out into the darkness.
"Hope," the darkness whispered. "Have hope and the darkness shall disappear. You alone are prolon! ging your suffering. What you have seen in these visions lies the meaning of hope. Look within yourself for the answer you are seeking."
"Hope," Cecilia repeated the word. "That word again. Why does everyone insist that I should have hope? Hope is for those who can see their own futures."
"Just because you can't see doesn't mean you should lose hope," the darkness replied. "Hope resides in the heart. It's the power to believe. Come now. I challenge you to banish this darkness with the hope that shines in your heart."
Cecilia again reflected on the things she had seen. The first scene had shown her determination to conquer all odds. The second had shown her to have trust in her friends. The third had put these two feelings together and that had created hope. Hope comes from determination and trust. It's true that it would be difficult for her to trust others when she could not even see but she would be determined to overcome her blindness.
"Now you understand," acknowledged the darkness as it faded away into light. "Awaken to the world of light in your heart!" The darkness slowly disappeared as the light that shone from Cecilia's heart overcame it. She smiled as the light engulfed her and she welcomed it.
Birds chirped and flew about outside in the dawn air as the sun's rays peaked
over the horizon and steadily rose into the morning sky. Few clouds filled
the air as the blue sky overcame the darkness of the night sky. A new day
A breeze blew through the trees surrounding the castle and into the royal couple's chamber, rippling the white curtains that surrounded the lone window. Cecilia felt the cool breeze on her skin as she woke up from her sleep. She tried to sit up but gasped when she felt her torso flare up in pain from the movement. Her gasp must have been too loud for she heard someone stirring at her bedside.
Jack's eyes snapped open when he heard a gasp. He quickly moved to Cecilia's side as she slowly lowered herself within the sheets. "Cecilia," he cried in alarm, "are you all right?!"
"Yes, I'm all right," she replied as the waves of pain vanished. "I was moving too fast."
Jack smiled. "You're always moving too fast. But don't try it again unless the doctor sees you fit to leave the bed." He slowly stood up with the help of his cane and stretched. "It's morning. Are you hungry? I will have breakfast brought up."
"I am a bit hungry," Cecilia answered. "When was the last time I ate?"
"Since the festival," her husband replied. He then turned when he heard someone enter the room.
The doctor came in bearing a food tray and a huge smile on his face. "How are my patients this fine morning?" he inquired as he set the tray down on the dresser near the bed. "I believe her majesty is hungry this morning, am I correct?"
"Of course," answered the queen. "The last time I ate was during the festival. How long was that?"
"One week, I believe," Bedwin responded. "It's time for you to be on the road to recovery, your highness." He bowed. "If you would excuse me, I have other matters to attend to. Good day to you both, your majesties."
As he left the room, Rudy and the twins came in. "What was he doing here?" Cecil inquired as ! he looked at the doctor's retreating form.
"It seemed the kind doctor brought us both breakfast," responded Jack as he slowly moved his chair closer to the dresser. "Have you eaten breakfast yet?"
Rudy shook his head. "No, we haven't. We planned on checking up on both of you first before heading to the dining hall. It seems everything is in order. There are some matters that need to be discussed after, though."
"Of course," Jack agreed. "Just return here when you're done." Rudy bowed and left with Jill and Cecil in tow after the twins said their good mornings. Jack and Cecilia returned their greetings before they left with Rudy.
Jack then turned to Cecilia. "Let's eat," he announced, "but first you have to sit up." He wrapped his arms around her for support as she pushed herself up to a sitting position. Cecilia grimaced as she slowly pushed herself up, her torso feeling as if it was on fire. She settled down in her new position as the flaring in her torso relented. "Comfortable?" her husband asked and she nodded wearily. Jack settled back in his chair and took up a fork as he gazed over the tray. "There's egg, bread, chicken soup, and orange juice as the drink. What do you want to start with first?" he said. Cecilia asked for the bread first and Jack handed her a roll of bread. Cecilia murmured a thanks before consuming the bread.
Seeing that she was fine with the bread, Jack took a roll and started eating as well. Midway through the roll, he stopped for a moment. "So how do you feel?" he asked softly before continuing to eat.
"Feel about what?" asked the queen as she finished the roll of bread.
"Feel about everything," her husband replied. "Thirsty?" he added, seeing that she was done with the bread. Cecilia nodded and he poured her a cup of juice. He then carefully handed it to her. "Well?" he asked again as she took a long drink.
Cecilia carefully lowered her cup and looked down at it as if she could see it as she collected her thoughts. She cou! ld feel an imprint on the cup. She cocked her head to the side as she heard birds chirping outside the window and she felt the cool wind entering the chamber. She could tell that though she had lost her eyesight, her other senses were beginning to compensate for that. "I feel more alert," she responded after observing everything with her other senses. "I can imagine how the day is just by feeling the things around me and by smelling the air. By the chirping of the birds and the cool breeze that just blew in, I can tell that it's a beautiful day outside. Am I correct, Jack?"
Jack placed his cup down and answered, "Of course. The day is lovely as you are. Are you done with your drink?" Cecilia nodded and she felt Jack take the cup from her hands. "Still hungry?" her husband inquired. "There's still soup and egg. You need to eat to regain your strength. Here. Try some soup." He took a spoonful of soup and held it in front of Cecilia's mouth. His other hand was beneath the spoon as to be careful of not spilling the liquid onto the sheets. "Open wide." Cecilia sighed as she opened her mouth. Jack fed her the soup and she swallowed it. He continued to feed her in the same manner as she tried to finish the soup.
"I feel like a baby," she muttered as she again opened her mouth to Jack's feeding. "A grown woman that can't feed herself. How pitiful is that?"
"Not pitiful at all," responded Jack as he placed the spoon back in the bowl of soup. He handed her a napkin and she gladly took it. "Once you have the strength to move about, you'll feed yourself, I promise you but for now you must take it slowly."
Cecilia sighed. "You're right, Jack. Can you pour me another glass of juice please?" Jack refilled Cecilia's cup and carefully handed it to her. She murmured a thank you before taking in the drink. Jack then went back to his own breakfast. He finished his bread and poured himself a cup of juice.
There came a knock on the door and Jack bid entry. Rudy and the twins came in looking re! freshed. "I take it that breakfast went well?" Jack questioned seeing that they were smiling.
"More than you know, father," Jill replied happily. She cheerfully skipped to the table and made herself comfortable. Cecil decided to follow his sister's example, taking a seat across from her.
Rudy did not share their happiness as there were important matters to discuss. He strolled over to the other side of the bed, across from where Jack was sitting. Cecilia felt someone move towards her other side by the way the air moved. She could also hear the footsteps approaching. She turned her head as if to regard the stranger. "Rudy," the Knight Captain answered her silent question.
Cecilia lifted a hand towards the knight captain and Rudy took it. She could feel Rudy's gauntleted hand as she moved her hand around. "So it is you," she nodded as she finished her observation. "What is it that you wish to speak to us about?"
Jill and Cecil's cheerful mood soon soured as they heard their mother's question. Rudy looked at their direction and the twins nodded. He then looked at the royal couple. "Your majesties," he said formally, "it is imperative that we leave on our quest. The demons are on the move and we should be as well. With your blessing, we shall depart at once."
"Depart for where?" Jack asked. "You certainly are not going straight to Arctica Castle. You need strategy to defeat these demons, not brute strength even though they are the weapons that prophecy has told us."
"That's what we need to discuss about," Rudy agreed to his majesty's reasoning. "I did not plan on going straight to Arctica Castle. I was thinking of going to Curan Abbey to learn more about this prophecy. It might give us a clue of where to go from there."
Both king and queen nodded in approval to Rudy's plan. "There is merit to this plan," Cecilia said. "The prophecy is the key to all of this. I suggest that you make a copy of it once you are there so that you may be guided by it without going ba! ck to the abbey every so often."
"I never thought of that," Rudy assented. "I will make sure I do just that." He thought for a moment. "I guess that's all I have to say." He looked at the twins. "Do you want to add anything?"
Jill looked at her brother then stood up from her chair followed by Cecil. "We just wanted to say good-bye before we leave. This is the first time we'll ever be outside these walls exploring the wilderness." She smiled. "We might get a little homesick." She laughed and Cecil joined in but their laughter had an uncertain feeling to it.
Cecilia felt their uneasiness and offered them a smile. "If you are devoted to the task at hand, then you will not feel homesick. Besides, there's a certain treasure hunter whose blood runs in your veins. Once you're outside these walls, I bet you'll be running rampant in the wilderness willing to explore your surroundings."
"Cecilia," Jack complained embarrassed as he rubbed his head, "you don't have to rub it in. That's all in the past now. My adventuring days are over." He then gazed at his children. "And yours is just beginning." He turned to Rudy and added, "And yours is ever continuing."
The king slowly stood up and took out a medallion that hung hidden around his neck. "Your mother is not the only one with an heirloom," he answered Rudy's and his children's puzzled looks. "Cecil, come." Cecil walked the few steps to his father and stood before him.
"Cecil," the king said as he placed the medallion around the prince's neck, "this medallion was given to me by my father before I joined to become a Fenril Knight. Now I give it to you. This has been handed down in my family, from father to son, for generations. May it give you strength on the journey ahead as it had given me strength on mine."
Cecil studied the medallion as he held it in his hand. He noticed some strange writing around the edges of the circular disc surrounding a symbol of a snowflake and a sword in the middle of it. "What does this me! an, father?" Cecil questioned as he ran his fingers over the symbol. "And what does the symbol represent?"
"The meaning of that medallion has been lost during the course of time," Jack answered as he slowly sat down. "Not even my father knew the meaning. We may never know."
Cecil let go of it and let it hung loosely around his neck. "Thank you, father. Maybe we'll find the meaning of it during our journey."
"Maybe you shall," nodded the king. He looked out the window and saw that the sun had risen halfway in the eastern sky. It was mid-morning already. "I think it's time for you to begin. I wish you luck on your quest."
"I as well," Cecilia added.
"Then it's time for us to go," Rudy agreed. He bowed to the couple. "I pray for your recovery, your majesties." He turned to the twins. "I need to make some preparations. Meet me in the throne room when you are ready." He bowed again and left the room. `
"Why is he being so formal all of a sudden?" Jill asked, puzzled by her friend's behavior. She went up and stood at the foot of the bed.
"Because Rudy takes this quest seriously and you should too," her mother replied. "Filgaia is being threatened once again. Rudy fought alongside us because he loves this world as much as we. Humans are the real Guardians of Filgaia. Once you travel around the world, you will see how beautiful it truly is."
"It may seem overwhelming at first," Jack added, "but once you get to explore the world, you will see how small and precious it really is. That's why it's our duty to protect our home when danger looms over the horizon."
Jill and Cecil listened to their parents' counsel and planted them in their hearts. "We will take your words to heart," Cecil said. "True power is the power of protection."
Jack nodded. "We have taught you everything we learned during our quest in preparation for your quest. Heed the advice we gave you and I know that you will be victorious."
"Father. Mother. We shall never forget you! r parting words," Jill said, "and the things you have taught us. We shall remember them and apply them in our quest." Cecil nodded in concordance.
Their father then stood up. "So this is where we say good-bye though I hardly think of it that way," he smiled. "You may return here to resupply or to rest when you are in need of it. We wish you well on your quest, my children."
The twins nodded in unison and hugged their parents before leaving the room. This was the twins' first step on a grand journey that would decide Filgaia's fate.
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