The Boy with Memory in his Mind sat at a table in a library, reading studiously and stopping now and then to write a note on a piece of paper.
He frowned. “I can’t find information on the Soudulir anywhere. I didn’t want to have to, but I guess I have no choice,” he said, closing and squinting his eyes. The area around his temples started glowing faintly.
He put his hand, with the pen still grasped in it, onto the paper, and began to write, starting slowly, but quickly speeding up. His hand flew across the page, leaving marks in a scrawl behind it.
His temples pounded, and he clenched his eyes shut as if in pain.
He stopped writing. He opened his eyes, his temples stopped pounding.
He laid down his pen and read what he had written, then smiled.
“Just what I needed,” he said. “But not enough. I need more.”
He repeated the process several times, closing his eyes and writing, then reading what he had written, several times until he has several pages.
The man stood up, started, and his book fell to the floor. He was fairly short, shorter than Wind.
“How did you get in here? Who are…you…” he said, then stopped suddenly and took a sharp intake of breath.
“You…” he said, pointing at Wind. “You’re… And you!” he said, turning to Steam. “I had known you would be coming, but this…”
He made a short bow. “I’m sorry. I am Stephen Lepton. Be welcome in my house, The Boy with Steam on His Breath, The Forsaken of Falx, and you, The Boy with Wind in his Hair, The Chosen of Aries. I feel so unprepared. Forgive me. Please, take a seat,” he said, gesturing to the empty chairs at the table.
They sat and and he spoke again. “I really didn’t actually think that you would come here, me being so…disorganized. I thought you would end up near one of the better or more suitable Knowers.”
His face was pained as he spoke again, “I have the Velekash leaf here, if you want to head on your way, and leave me. I would understand.”
Wind lifted an eyebrow. “I think we are supposed to be meeting someone here on…”
“Taurus. Yes, how could I have forgotten. I can take to to his house. He lives with another of my fellow Knowers, who has taken care of him since he was born, fourteen years ago. I will call them to let them know we are coming.”
He walked over to and picked up the reciever of a telephone, in a style that Steam noticed as similar to telephones from the early nineteenth century. He spun the rotary dial a few times, dialing the number to where, presumably, the other Knower and the next of The Chosen lived.
He spoke on the telephone. “They have arrived.”
He frowned, his forehead creasing. “The Chosen and The Forsaken.”
His forehead uncreased, “I’ll be over in a few minutes.”
He hung up the reciever and turned back to the boys. “Are you hungry at all?” he asked. “I could fix you something to eat, if you wish. I just had dinner, but still, I would be honored to make you something.”
“I’m fine. We had breakfast about an hour ago,” Steam said.
Steam nodded. “I’m okay also.”
“Then we should be on our way,” Stephen said. “I will just pick a few leaves of the Velekash plant before we leave. I think Eric will have some of them too, but, just to be sure…”
He went over to a small potted plant in his kitchen, which was open to the table and chairs they had been sitting at. He picked three leaves, then put them carefully in his shirt pocket.
“Follow me,” he said to the boys, walking through a door in the kitchen.
They followed him. The door lead to the outside of his house, where an old-looking car sat in a dirt driveway. He opened one door for Steam, then rushed around to the other side and opened the door there for Wind. He got in the driver side and started the engine.
“What is this?” Wind whispered to Steam as Stephen backed out the driveway and started driving on a road of hard-packed earth.
“It’s a car, a type of motorized vehicle,” answered Steam.
The windows were open, and Wind took a snif and wrinked his nose. “Burning some type of combustable liquid, I’m guessing by the smell.”
They drove on for close to an hour. The road they rode continued to be hard-packed earth for almost the entire time. They passed fields of grain, pastures with cows and sheep munching on the short grass. Eventually, though, the fields subsided and were replaced by occasional houses. They then came into a town, where the road was roughly paved with cobblestone. He took a few turns before stopping in front of a small house.
The three of them got out, and, led by Stephen, went to the house. He knocked on the door. It was opened by a young man.
“Stephen! How good of you to come! And I take it that this must be The Boy with Wind in his Hair, The Chosen from Aries! Very welcome you are in my house! And you! You! You are The Boy with Steam on His Breath, The Forsaken of Falx! I have waited a long time for you, a long time for you both! Come in, come in. I have someone here that is looking forward to meet you both! Will you come in too, Stephen?” the man asked.
“No, no, I should be getting back home. Do you have any Velekash?”
“Too bad. And yes, I have plenty, of course. Well, I hope your ride goes well!” He ushered the boys in, and shut the door after waving goodbye to Stephen.
“This way,” he said to the boys, walking into a room with several chairs and a low table inside. “I almost forgot to tell you my name! It is David Forshe, but you can just call me David.”
He went out of the room to some stairs and called up them. “Memory! The Chosen and The Forsaken are here!”
He came back into the room, and there was a sound of someone walking quickly down the stairs. A boy burst into the room, a book in his hand and a pencil behind his ear. He was about the same height as Steam, slightly taller than Wind, but they could tell by his looks that he was young. His hair was brown, as were his eyes, the two colours complimentary to each other in their tone. He set his book down and shook each of their hands eagerly.
“I’ve read so much about the both of you! I am The Boy with Memory in his Mind, by the way. You can just call me Memory, though. I’m guessing, based on your whirling hair, that you are The Boy with Wind in his Hair,” he said to Wind. “And that would make you The Boy with Steam on His Breath. I can’t wait to get on our way! I’ve read what I can about the other Soudulir and they sound amazing!”
Both Wind and Steam sighed slightly. “Could we hold on before moving on yet? I would like to, frankly, take a break for a few minutes. We just arrived here from Aries less than two hours ago,” Wind said.
“And I would like to learn more from your host Knower. I have been slowly learning about the Soudulir, Knowers, Chosen, and the Great War, and I think he has some knowledge to impart upon me,” Steam said.
“Yes, yes. I wouldn’t actually have let you move on yet before telling you,” David said. “I assume from what you just said that the previous Knower has told you some about The Great War. I will tell you more about it. Your previous Knower probably told you of the alliances we have created. One of the reasons and ways we created them was that we seem to have counterparts in the other alliance, Soudulir that are similar yet opposite of us. They seem to attack in similar ways that we do. Our counterpart is Scorpio. The counterpart of Aries is Libra, of Gemini it is Sagittarius, of Cancer, Capricorn, of Leo, Aquarius, and of Virgo, Pisces. Our roles in this Great War seem to be similar, and we have all had major conflicts with our conterparts. We do not know why this is, or what later significance it may serve. But it is something to keep in mind throughout your journey. Do you have any questions?”
Steam nodded. “Yes, though it isn’t about the Great War. How do we keep moving from place to place, planet to planet? And what do the leaves have to do with this?”
“Well,” answered David, “the leaves act quite literally as keys, unlocking the ability locked inside every one of us to move to other Soudulir. But you and The Chosen are the only ones permitted to do so. But as soon as this key unlocks the ability within you, the planet, the Soudulir, is aware of you, and begins pulling on you. Since your body is not used to this pull, it succums to the sway and is brought to the planet. That is as much as I know. And you will see, as you begin to travel around, the unlockings may change more than your ability to go to Soudulir. But I do not know very much about that. I do know, however, that, once you have been unlocked to go to the Soudulir, a way to get back to planets that you have the ability to go to is to focus your power to that end, getting there. Now I know how this works for The Chosen, but I am not sure about how it is for you, Forsaken of Falx. This will be revealed to you as you move on through your journey. And perhaps this is part of what the unlockings will do for you. I do not know.”
He got up. “But enough of these solemn things! I am honored to have you in my home, and be included in the story of your journey.”
Memory stood up as well. “Would you like to see my room?” he blurted out.
Wind looked at Steam, then turned back to Memory. “I…guess so.”
Before either of them could get out of their chairs, Memory had rushed out of the room. They quickly followed after him. He had gone up a flight of wooden stairs, and they followed. At the top of the stairs, there was a hallway that Memory had gone down and turned left into a room. Wind and Steam followed.
The room that they stepped into was filled with books and loose papers. There was a small bed tucked away into a corner, but the rest of the room was taken up by bookcases overflowing with books, and stacks of paper overtaking the floor. On one of the walls was a large picture showing the circle of the zodiac, with, instead of the earth the middle as Steam had seen before, another constellation. The picture in its whole was similar to one that Steam had seen looking in the book while he was with Ezekiel.
The constellation itself merely looked like an uneven line of stars, a bend, and then another, shorter, curving line of stars. But this picture also showed the items represented by the different constellations, a ram for Aries, a bull for Taurus, The Twins for Gemini, a crab for cancer, a lion for Leo, a virgin for Virgo, scales for libra, a scorpion for Scorpio, an archer for sagittarius, a goat for Capricorn, the water bearer for Aquarius, and a fish for pisces. But the object in the middle of the circle for Falx was a sickle.
Both Steam and Wind were looking at it when Memory spoke. “I made it with the help of my power.”
“What is your power?” Wind asked.
“Well, as The Boy with Memory in his Mind, I am able to know of things both past and present. This is useful for my study of the Soudulir. There really isn’t much written information about them, or The Great War. Probably because only we and the Knowers can know of such things.”
Steam was about to ask Memory about the significance of the objects the constellations represented when they heard a crash downstairs, followed quickly by another. The three of them rushed downstairs.
The door that Steam and Wind had come through was cracked, the window pane on it smashed into the house. Stephen came running into the room as well.
“Oh no,” he said in a gasp. “You three, get into the kitchen. I started preparing the tea. You need to get out of here as soon as you can!”
Something pounded against the door, and a black mist started drifting through the broken window.
“Go!” he yelled.
The three of them, stunned, started backing away from the spectacle. Memory tapped them both on the shoulder, then ran into another room. Steam and Wind followed, looking back at David a few times as they ran.
The crack in the door had widened, and some of the black mist was leaking in from there was well as the window. David had pulled a knife out from its sheath at his side, and then rammed it through the crack in the door. There was a roaring scream outside the door, and then whatever it was smashed against the door again.
Then they stopped running, because they were in the kitchen and there stood Memory, pouring hot water into a teapot, which he had already put the Velekash leaves in. After he had done so, he turned to Wind and Steam.
“Wait a moment. I need to check something,” he said. He closed his eyes tightly, his brow furrowed. The area around his temples began to glow faintly.
He was searching, searching for whatever this was that was attacking them. And why.
But for the first time in his life, he wasn’t able to. He couldn’t find anything about it whatsoever.
He opened his eyes, the glow around his temples decreasing and eventually fading away completely. But his brow remained furrowed.
“I don’t know. I don’t know what it is attacking the house. And I should be able to.” He took out four cups and poured the tea into them.
They each took a cup, Memory taking two, and rushed back to where David was, stabbing through the crack repeatedly.
“We are ready to go. Please, David, come with us,” Memory pleaded.
“I cannot. I am not allowed to. And I must protect this house from what is attacking. I do not know what it is, only that it is evil. And that it is coming not after me, but after you three. It has made no attempt to kill me, though I sense that it easily could. It is merely trying to get into the house. Now drink! Drink and be gone!”
The three of them, in one movement, drank the tea from their teacups.
This tea had almost no flavour at all for Steam and Wind, surprising both of them. Memory, though, could taste something different in the tea, a mystifying flavour. He wanted more of it, to try and get a better grasp on what it tasted of. He remembered the second teacup in his hand, and drank of it as well.
What had happened for both Steam and Wind, and was happening to them yet again, the blurring of the senses, to black, was happening to Memory as well, but much more quickly than for the others. It seemed that, instead of blurring, then turning to black, everything was instead darkening and directly going to black. Then it went just as quickly from black to another area.
Wind and Steam slowly came into focus, and joined Memory in what seemed to be an underground chamber. An eldery man was engraving something into the wall. He turned, feeling someone behind him, and was surprised to see the three of them.
A slow smile spread across his aged face as he realized who they were. “Greetings, Chosen from Aries and Taurus alike, and Forsaken from Falx. Welcome to Gemini.”