"Can you remember what happened after you jumped towards the lightening ball?" a bald general asked, standing over me with concern on his face.
How daft could he possibly be?
I had told them everything I could remember but they would not believe me. General Kol had been asking the same question over and over again for almost an hour. Ang had given her testament to the Generals and magicians, but her story was not matching up with mine. She had said crazy things which did not make any sense like me flying, freezing the ocean and facing off against Meridius.
How crazy was that?
The stares being sent my way were that of fear and terror, however it was mixed with a bit of hope. They looked at me like I was some saviour but they were about to be disappointed.
"For the hundredth time General," I sighed with exasperation. "I remember jumping towards a lightening ball and waking up on Ang, that's it. Now I don't know how I got on the ice or have any knowledge of Angs story happening," I was frustrated.
What were they looking for?
Did something unexpected happen?
"Tsk," the Xaj hissed. She was getting impatient. Her face flustered with anger as well as disappointment on how the interrogation was going. "You're wasting your time," she gave off sparingly.
"What?" the general questioned in anger.
"I said you're wasting your time. He doesn't know anything," her cold voice and stare made the general shiver in fear.
"And how would you know that?" the tired general retorted wiping the sweat off his forehead with the crowds murmur becoming loud.
"Because General," she answered, getting up from her chair, making her way to the middle of the room.
"He isn't the same soul that fought the mad magician. If he was we would not be having this useless gathering right now, would we?" That shut everyone up making them feel the weight of her voice.
"So what do you suggest we do?" General Obsidian asked from the crowd. "According to the reports we gathered from Ang and the other survivors of the attack, that boy performed strange feats that even some gods cannot perform. The ocean is still frozen and may I remind you that it cannot be melted with ordinary magic. So I ask, if he did not do it, then who did?" Everyone muttered in agreement with what he had said.
He was a sly devil when it came to battlefield plans and torturing people for information, he was the only one I feared most amongst the Generals in the camp. I was lucky it was Kol interrogating me and not him.
Keeping one hand behind her and the other holding up her chin, she wandered towards me with an intense look that could pierce through steel if need be.
"I never said it was not the kid, I only said that his soul was not the one that performed those feats. We would need to use the old ways, the methods of our fathers and our fathers before that to find out the truth," her arms spread with excitement as she spoke.
The court became unruly with random words being thrown about.
"Old ways?! It has not been used in over a hundred years!"
"Isn't it just a myth!?"
"Necromancy! It shall not happen!"
I had no clue on what they were talking about, but from the tension wavering in the court, I knew it was not a joke.
"Oh well, suit yourselves," she went on. "I on the other hand will not let my father's death be a waste."
The uproar in the court had died down making her voice echo in the tent.
"The great magician, Pontius my father, died for the peace of this nation. They say he died of some unknown cause, but we all know that he was murdered by the mad magician."
My head had been down all through her speech as I pushed myself to remember what had happened on the ocean. I could see fuzzy images but they held no meaning. Her voice got distant as I saw Meridius on the ocean smiling at me with murderous intents. His hands moved about creating a lightening ball which he tossed to me making me cower in fear. I was breaking into a cold sweat at the hallucination I had gotten. What was that all about? Breathing in then out, I steadied myself as the images disappeared and her voice got louder.
"I will do whatever it takes to win this war, even if it kills me, I will do it. He has killed men, women, children, brought down prosperous towns to their knees while revelling in the destruction of his own people!" her voice raged with pain.
"I have a question for you. Yes, you. Why do you fight?" she asked the crowd.
It was too silent for a court and I understood what she was doing. The Xaj had her way of motivating the people and making them do what she wanted. Call it whatever you like, but it did not matter the cost, so long as she got what she was after. It was what made her the perfect leader and what made her the perfect threat to the King.
"Do you fight because you see men and women running into battle blindly knowing they will die or do you fight to avenge your broken families and take back your nation from the hands of the tyrant King? Do you fight for the blood of the innocent being killed or do you fight for your coming generation? No matter, whatever you fight for does not matter anymore if you continue to fight as a righteous slave. The King does not play by those rules, by your rules. And that is why the gods has blessed us with a weapon far stronger than anything we have ever seen. Even the gods are tired of his shenanigans and they have placed this young warrior in our care. Like I said earlier, I will win this war and I will do it with whatever means I see fit, even if it were to cost me my life."
Petra never gave empty words, with the look in her eyes and her fists all clenched up, it was sure that she had already died before making that statement. Nobody agreed with her methods but if it wasn't for her fearsome leadership we would not have come this far. She was a tyrant and that was what we needed, for only a tyrant could defeat another tyrant.
Her words still lingered in the air when one foot stomped on the ground, followed by another and then another. It was not long before everyone had their feet stomping while they cheered her on with cries of war.
Her lips curved into a devious smile at her plans being set in motion. I was astonished at how good her words were when I caught something wearing a cloak moving past the crowd as it made it's way out of the tent. It made me wonder if it was the real thing or maybe I was having more hallucinations.
"Are you sure you cannot remember anything else? I can read minds but for some odd reason you have a strong block against my ability."
We were alone in the court, everyone had been excused leaving the Xaj and I.
"I have no memory of the alleged fight between Meridius and I. I'm sorry, I wish I could help you further..."
"But you can. You see... I had a vision three years before you came into the camp, yes I was a little girl then and when I told my father about it he put it off as nonsense and tried to reassure me that he was going to quell the incoming war as the King's loyal Magician. Unfortunately he was wrong, he was killed before he got the chance to see the rest of the vision with me."
Wow, that was a sad story, everyone really had some bad experience with the war. If what they were saying was true, it meant that there was only one thing to do.
"I know you don't believe our story and would not want to fight..."
"How about a memory jog?", I suggested. It was a long shot, but it could help.
Her back straightened, I could see a glint of hope in her eyes.
"Yes, yes that could work," she said glaring into space.
"If you were an enemy and you wanted your brain fried!"
Oh, I had forgotten about that. The memory jog was used in war to extract information against the individuals will. Due to the extreme force and magic being used, the brain would melt killing the individual instantly.
"Don't look so worried. I would never use that on you. After all, you are special. You are the trump card we have to winning this war," she said laying back into her chair. "You might not know it but your aura is not that of a human or a demigod or magician or old warrior, but that of a very old and mysterious god that was awakened by the cries of the innocent as their blood spilled into the water and sunk beneath the earth."
Everything she said still puzzled me but as she lectured me on the different gods and different ways my memory could be restored I started to relax and feel better about the event which had taken place. I might not have any recollection of what had happened on the ocean but I was happy that I got to give my people hope. Hope, that word had not been said or thought of in a very long time. We had all been fighting a hopeless war with no intention of winning because we could not win, no intention of losing because it would mean certain death and no intention of surrendering, but now the story had changed. Her voice slowly withered as my mind wandered again, thinking of our incoming victory. I looked at my hands, these hands which had carried so many dead bodies, they were the same hands that was going to save the nation. Mother, Father, Queen, Mina, Hawk, Lan, Bridget, Gop, Ferdinand and Isabel, I wish you were here. I wish you were all here to see me start my journey.
"Xerxes? Are you alright?" she asked in concern.
My head felt heavy as I looked at her, her face filled with worry. I blinked to get rid of the tears which had begun to form and block out my vision. Damn it, I had been thinking about the loss I've had that I did not put a thought to the powers I had gained. I was different now, I could feel it, but she need not worry, I was going to make the same vow she had made, I was going to end this war even if it were to cost me my life.
"I've never felt better," I reassured her with a smile. "When do we start training?"
"NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" I screamed.
I woke with a start.
What was that?
Why were these nightmares getting worse?
It had been three days since the ship incident and every night gave me horror. The dreams all started the same way, I would find myself standing in the middle of the ocean and feel the forces of nature against me. I would turn to see where the energy was highest and in a ball of lightening, a glowing humanoid creature would be in the middle of a spinning vortex. The aura being put out is so much that I would fall on my knees and look down in fear. When I would try to look at the creature despite the glow, I would find out that it was me. The creature that had a dangerous and godly aura was me in godly form! Before I would exclaim or say anything, the creature would dry the water beneath me, sending me to my death, to which I would scream and wake up.
How could I possess such fearsome powers?
My eyes glowed brighter than the rest of my body and my face did not look the same. I looked like a monster and not a saviour. It was a dream, but it felt real.
How can I help anyone when I am afraid of the powers that live inside of me?
What if I lost control and killed people in that state?
What if I ended the war but destroyed everything in the process?
I had to stop living in fear. I cannot save anyone if I have to live my whole life afraid of doing something. I have had enough. I rose from the bed, wore a robe and headed straight for the little library. I was going to find out what my dreams meant, I was going to read about the old gods and know their histories and powers.
"Hey, are you okay?" a familiar voice asked in concern.
Ang. I had not seen her after the court session, I gathered that maybe she was too busy to come see me.
"Yes, I am. Thank you so much for everything you've done for me" I said appreciatively.
She smiled, it's been awhile since I had seen her that happy. The smiles were not fake or anything. They were genuine.
"I'm the one who should be thanking you," she said with a coaxing voice. "If you had not jumped in front of the lightening ball and discovered who you were I would have been dead with my brother."
'Discovered who I was', I still had no idea who I'm supposed to be or which god I was supposed to have in me. You might even call me a lost cause and you would be right. I sighed, this was not what I wanted, I never asked for this.
I mean, I'm just a nobody. It could have been Olly because he was strong and brave, or maybe Mina and Gop if they were alive because they were magicians with strong powers or it might as well be one of the generals, but not me. I was weak, I was scared. I had no skill as a fighter. I only knew how to read maps, that was it. A thin young man ran past us with a cheerful look on his face as my eyes followed him. The camp was lively today. After the court session, I had been inside and not set foot outside my tent. She saw me looking around and started to explain what had happened during my self isolation. From what I could gather, the news of my impossible feats had spread like wild fire and the entire nation had rallied behind me pledging loyalty. Some towns had changed their names from the Kings name to mine, I even had my own army! A tear slid down my cheek making me shiver from it's cold track. Clenching my fist, I looked up and seeing the dragons and birds fly in harmony gave me hope once again.
No, I was not going to be afraid anymore, instead I would accept this new power and responsibility and look into the future with hope.
The camp became rowdy as more men joined in from their hunt that morning. It did not look like a war field, but a field where everyone was celebrating the little victory they had garnered.
Hope you enjoyed this chapter the way I did! Tell me your thoughts on my book in the comments below. I would love to hear from you^^