The Boy with Time on his Eyes climbed through the catacombs that were his home. He and all the Knowers of his world were in danger, excommunicated by the ruler of their Soudulir. And so they had fled into sewers and catacombs. The others unlucky enough to be caught were put into prison.
But thankfully, they were able to find small entrances and exits to and from the prison to sewage lines, and were able to visit each other occasionally.
But The Boy with Time on his Eyes had worse things to think about now. An agent of the government had found him, and he was attempting to bring him to the Queen of Scorpio, whether he was dead or alive.
“But neither will happen,” The Boy with Time on his Eyes said quietly to himself. “I know it won’t. I’ve forseen it.” He grinned madly, an evil smile.
He stopped in his scrambling and started using his power. His eyes glowed, and he looked around.
He saw before him played out all the possibilities of what could happen.
He focused on one in particular, drawn to it because of the possibility of the guard’s death.
He followed along with what he saw himself doing in the future, which became the present as soon as he did it.
Still using his power, he turned around then touched the ground of the tunnel now in front of him, fast forwarding the time of it. It crumbed to dust from age in a few seconds. Now there was only a gaping hole, dropping down into a chasm deep below the surface. Then he continued scuttling along through the labyrinth of catacombs.
In a few moments, he heard a yell and falling rocks. A few seconds later, he heard final scream and a crash.
He smiled, then continued on his way through the tunnel.
The man before them scrambled back against the wall, then stood up, trembling.
“You eight. You are…The Chosen and The Forsaken.”
The chains pulling at his wrists, he fell to his knees. “Thank God. We have, I have, waited so long for you to come, to rescue us from our persecution.”
“Then, I take it that you are a Knower of this Soudulir?” questioned Memory.
“That indeed I am, The Boy with Memory in his Mind. I have been waiting, waiting, waiting for so very long. I only prayed that I would be alive to see you all arrive. Of course, he told me that I would still be alive to see you all, but did I believe him, no…no…” the elderly man groaned.
“Who told you?” asked Light.
“The Boy with Time on his Eyes. Our Chosen here on Scorpio. He can see through eternity… He is able to know many things, things that are happening and will happen, some day, some time, or perhaps not even in this dimension, but another.”
“Thank you, very much,” said Wind. “Do you know where we might find him?”
“Time, what we call him, and a suitable name for him, is probably in the catacombs. Or at least he will have been. Or perhaps he never was in them at all. But, in any case, he has probably foreseen your coming, and is already here.”
“Indeed I am, and have been, and will be,” said a voice coming from a shadowed corner of the prison cell.
A young man stepped out, tall and muscular, yet still slim. He wore a heavy, black trench coat, which was unbuttoned. Underneath that, he wore grey slacks and a tucked in brown shirt, suspenders clipped to his pants, going over his shoulders, and clipping back to his pants behind him.
His hair was a dark brown, and his eyes were a mellow shade of green.
‘Greetings to The Boy with Memory in his Mind,’ he said into the minds of Memory and Steam. ‘But wait. There is another psychic here.’ He turned to Steam. ‘You. How are you a psychic?”
The Boy with Time on his Eyes stepped forward. “I am The Boy with Time on his Eyes. I know of our quest, and the lives that are to be…” he grimaced. “Spared. Why we must help save lives instead of letting things continue how they are, with The Great War, I do not know.”
‘He is The Boy with Steam on His Breath, who we call Steam,” said Memory psychically. ‘He has been able to learn to be psychic.’
‘I see,’ responded Time. “Interesting. What have you to say on the matter, Steam?’
‘I don’t really know. I guess you are Memory’s counterpart?’ Steam asked.
‘Counterpart? I suppose you could say that. And yes, that I am. Another psychic. Yet different from Memory. Whereas he can look into the past and present, I am able to look into the present and future. Are you able to do any of those?’ Time asked.
‘Yes,’ Steam responded. “I can see past and present. Perhaps I will be able to see future, before long.’
‘Perhaps,’ said Time.
All the while that they had the conversation psychically, Time had continued talking to the others, giving no indication that he was holding two conversations parallel.
“I see no problem with death,” Time said. “But perhaps that is just because of my inclination to the black and dark side of things. Yet who must say that death is bad or dark? We cannot know of such things. Yet I know of how…important this journey is, and of your necessity to bring me. And for me to help. I have tried to look into the future, to see the outcome of the journey, but I see nothing. Utter shadow taking over the final destiny of our quest.”
‘I’m sure you have seen similar things,” said Time, psychically once again. ‘Perhaps in looking to the creation of the world, or, I may think, anything related to The Boy with Steam on His Breath.’
‘Yes,’ responded Memory.
“Our journey through this world will not be as easy as yours has been in the other Soudulir,” said Time, out loud. “We do not have any of the leaves of Urebn that we need to make tea to get to the next Soudulir. Back, eight years ago, we were chased out of the towns and villages of our world because the Queen feared and hated us, because we were different. We forgot our duty and left the leaves behind.”
He continued. “But all hope is not lost. The Queen took them and continued to grow and plant them, knowing that we wanted them, mocking us with them. She grows them at the top of her castle’s tower. And there we must go.”
“Why did she banish you all?” asked Memory.
“Well, when it was only the Knowers, passing their knowledge and memories down from father to oldest son or mother to oldest daughter, she didn’t mind. It was thought of by her, in those days, as some type of cult. And very secretive it was. All of the Knowers were sworn, on point of death, to never tell another about their knowledge except their heir to knowledge, on their deathbed. The secret was even kept from their other children and wives, loved ones. I know not how the Queen even knew of us, but that she did. Perhaps a Knower broke the oath and told her. It matters not. But in any case, as soon as I was born, and was obviously…different, she excommunicated us immediately.”
“So all twelve Knowers are in the prisons or catacombs?” asked Wind.
“Most. A few fled to the countryside and forests, but they know that we are here, and visit us occasionally. So far, eleven have been accounted for. We do not know anything of the twelfth Knower. Perhaps he was killed.”
The old man had been listening silently in the background.
“You have already met one of them,” said Time.
“Yes, yes, I have met them, I have done that indeed,” said the man. He stood up slightly and stuck out his arm for them to shake. As they did so, awkwardly, he spoke. “I am Jeremiah, Jeremiah Velre. I am pleased to be a part of your grand journey.”
“We should be going now,” said Time to the others. “It will be a long journey to get to the Urebn leaves, in the tower. You,” he said, turning to Water. “What is your name, what should I call you?”
“My name is The Boy with Water in his Veins, but you may simply call me Water.”
“Very well. Water, you are of the alliance of Black, are you not?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Good. I think I may need your help, especially, in setting to the top. Of course,” he added to the rest of them, “I will need all of your help. I trust you all have some degree of control over your power?”
They nodded in reply.
“Good. We may be off. Follow me. And be careful in doing so. The catacombs, tunnels, and sewers we will be going through are winding and you may very well get lost,” Time said.
‘I will be in the lead, of course. Steam, try to be somewhere in the middle, and, Memory, can you follow us in back? We will be able to converse with each other psychically. Let me know if anything…goes wrong,’ Time said, into the minds of Steam and Memory.
‘All right,’ said Memory.
‘I will do so,’ said Steam.
Time climbed up the rough rock wall of the prison, behind the prisoner, settling his feet into worn sections of the rock and grabbing onto a few brick-like rocks that jutted out slightly.
He climbed up them and into an open shaft near the ceiling. The other eight followed him, and in a moment they were all on their hands and knees, climbing through the tight shaft.
After a little while, the tunnel opened up slightly and they were able to stoop to crawl through them.
They walked on for close to an hour through the catacombs, passing several places where the shaft they walked through split off into another. They took several turns, and eventually the tunnel opened up into another opening in a wall, this cavern smelling bad. A few pipes opened up into it, slimy liquid pouring into a central pit. They climbed down the wall and dropped onto a small ledge around the pit, climbing around it.
Light sniffed and lifted her nose away from the pit. “Disgusting. Must we pass by here?” she asked presumptuously.
“If you want to get out without the guards catching you, yes. Of course, the guards will find us eventually. But this gives us a head start. Up here,” Time said, climbing up a roughly made ladder on the wall, and through a small passageway.
The nine of them crowded in there. Time lifted up his hands and pushed up part of the ceiling. It slid away with a grating noise. The nine of them climbed up out of it, then Time slid the metal disk back over the opening.
“This is one of the more out of the way places that we can get out. I usually go this way,” said Time. “Wait.” His eyes started glowing. “There’s a guard about to come over. Get into the shadows, over there,” he said, motioning to a hidden area behind them.
They went into the shadows and lurked there. A few seconds later, a guard passed by. He peered into the alleyway, but didn’t see them, and continued on the way he had been going.
“I suppose I should continue using my power the entire time we are here,” said Time. “It might be best for you all to do so too.”
Wind’s hair rusted faster, Memory’s temples glowed, Sound’s fingers lit up, the light spreading down his hands. The flame leapt alive at Fire’s chest and hands, the light of life came into the hands of Life, and Light’s hands glowed powerfully. Water slit open his wrists, the water pouring out of his veins. Before the streams of water had touched the ground, they froze suddenly, and jerked around as if alive, now under control of Water.
The white flame arose at Steam’s chest, and he laid a hand on the pommel of his sword.
“Good,” said Time. “Let’s go. Follow me. I’ll be going quickly, as should all of you. And if a guard sees us,” he said to Water in particular, but also included the others in the message, “don’t hesitate to kill him. Remember what they have done to our kind.”
After saying this, he rushed out of the alleyway, the other eight following behind him in suit.
They dashed across the street. It was something of an open square in the city, with a large well maintained garden and green in the centre. Across to the right there soared above them a marble tower of incredible height.
To this monolith they ran, diagonal across the garden and green.
Around the base of the tower ran a sturdy wrought iron gate. Posted outside the entrance of the gate were two guards.
The guards shouted; at a look from Time, he and Water charged at the guards. A look from Time aged one of the guards instantly, his body vanishing into a pile of dust.
Water had reached out with his water. The man tried to fend it off with his sword, but whenever he cut a strand of water, it merely re-formed back and branched off again. A hand of water grasped around the mans neck and lifted him up. He clawed at his throat where the water had a firm hold on it, trying to get free.
But in a moment his body went limp and Water threw the unconsious body down onto the ground with the hand of water.
Time beckoned the others onward, then took a ring of keys off the guard’s limp body and unlocked the gate.
The eight of them rushed through, done with the first of many encounters.
Standing before the opening to the tower were another two guards. Before either Water or Time had a chance to take them out, Fire and Memory dashed forward.
A flame spread across Fire’s entire body, branching out from his chest. The fire in his left had formed into a flickering sword of pure flame. He ran one of the guards through with the sword. There was a sudden searing sound, and smoke rose from the back of the man. He let out a cry of pain and tried to pull away from Fire, swinging at him with his sword. But Fire merely lifted up his right arm to block the sword. It melted to slag as soon as it touched his arm, the intense heat melting it immediately.
Fire, with the sword of flame still in the man, pulled the sword up and out, killing the man.
Memory, while Fire had been busy with the other guard, had dropped to a knee.
Time and Steam were surprised by the sudden influx of psychic messages sent at the man, messages that he would not be able to consiously interpret, but ones his body would react to. And it did.
He clutched his head, closing his eyes and screaming. Memory looked up at Fire, and, in response, Fire sliced off the head of the man with the sword of flame, which was still in his hand.
Memory walked forward and rifled through the clothes of one of the guards until he found a key. He put it in the lock of the heavy iron door and turned it. He pushed it open.
The other eight followed him through the doorway.
It was a large area, cleared out and with a rug in the centre. A stairway ascended to the left of them. But as soon as they had gotten into the room, it was flooded by five guards, two of which wore swords which they had drawn, as had the other guards they fought, two bore halberds, and one swung a flail.
Wind took on the one with the flail, reversing the flow of air around it and stilling the mace. Then his hair spun around faster and the man was sucked into a whirlwind, spinning around Wind, getting closer and closer. Then the air around Wind exploded, sending the man crashing into the wall near Wind. He didn’t stir.
Time had killed the two guards with swords in the way that he had killed the one outside the gate. Steam blocked attacks from one of the halberd wielding guards with his sword, and, using the power of sound, slowed the guard’s body’s composition until it froze, the man standing utterly still in the middle of the room.
Sound had done so with the other guard that used a halberd, and, after doing so, there were no more guards left mobile in the room.
Without another word, Time led the way up the stairs.
The stairs led back and forth, zigzagging up the tower. The walls of the tower gradually sloped inwards, getting smaller. But there were no more guards.
At the top of the stairs, though, there was a door. They tried to open it, but it was locked. Time reduced it to rotten slivers of wood in a moment, though, and they burst into the room.
Inside was a woman, sitting in a comfortable chair, surrounded by three servant girls who shrieked and started panicking. Two guards rushed towards the group, but the woman stopped them with a motion of her hand.
“Please leave us,” she said to the girls and the guards. They left through the doorway that the group of nine had gone through.
“You are the group of The Chosen and The Forsaken that I have heard of. And yes, I am the Queen you have heard so much about, in all my majesty,” she added sarcastically. “But also, in a way, I am the Queen that you have heard little about. True, I have ordered for the arrest of all your people, and you, in particular, The Boy with Time on his Eyes. But did none of you notice that there was one of the Knowers missing?”
‘What is she speaking of?’ asked Time, through the psychic channel, not wanting to believe what his view of the future told him would happen.
The light at Memory’s temples grew slightly, then decreased. ‘It is…her…’ he responded.
“I am the missing Knower,” said the Queen. “And I understand that you are confused by this fact. The simple truth of it is that I hate myself. I hate myself for being different. If I had it how I wanted, I wouldn’t even be the Queen. But at least the Queen is a normal person. But a Knower? I was the eldest daughter of my mother, and she told me of all the truth of The Great War and the Soudulir, and The Chosen, and The Forsaken, and the Knowers, and…and… I couldn’t stand it. And it was even worse after you were born, The Boy with Time on his Eyes, and were proof that all she had told me was true, absolutely true. I locked myself in this tower, and commanded all Knowers, and you be arrested if found within the city. Please forgive me. Let me make you the tea of the Urebn leaf. It is the absolute least that I could and can do.”
She got up from her seat and went over to a small potted plant on a column of stone in the centre of the room. She picked a few of the leaves, then went over to a small pot hanging over a fire, from which steam rose.
She dropped the leaves into it and stirred it with a wooden spoon nearby.
A minute later, she put out nine teacups, then put on thick leather gloves and poured the tea from the pot.
She gave them each a cup. Tears were in her eyes as she gave the final cup to Time.
“Please, please forgive me,” she said, then turned away.
They drank of the tea. It was a faint flavour, like that of lightly steeped green tea. It relaxed them, the warmth spreading through their bodies.
The Queen gave them a sad smile.
“I wish you the best on your journey,” she said, her appearance fading away, as did her voice.
Everything blurred away into the black that they were used to, then, after a few seconds, it came back into focus.
But it was a different place they were standing, a very different place.
Where they were was a desert, sand dunes rolling off into the distance as far as they could see.
And there was no one around.