The Boy with Silence in his Soul lay on his back at the top of a hill of sand, gazing at the stars far off in the sky. There was peace around him, but not a benign peace. It was almost as if silence stilled everything around him, forcefully quieting it all.
‘This peace that surrounds me,’ he thought, ‘I love it. It is part of me, and I am part of it.’
He closed his eyes and rested on the sand, still warm from the sun of the day though the air around it was chilling, getting colder by the minute.
When he opened his eyes, darkness was completely around him, an all-encompassing shadow. The only light visible came from the small points of light up high in the sky, throwing their light down to him from millions of leagues away.
He stood up, the sound of the sand rustling silenced by he, The Boy with Silence in his Soul. The silence put out by him seemed to still everything around him, wherever he went.
He walked silently through the desert, on a path he knew very well. He closed his eyes and was completely at peace, walking through the sand, leaving small footprints behind him.
“Where do we go now?” asked Light. “This is very inconvenient.”
Whereas the other eight had ceased using their powers, Time continued using his and looked around, light streaming out of his eyes.
“This way,” he said to them, walking off up a dune.
They followed him up the windblown hill of sand.
They walked up and over the dune, across another stretch of untouched sand, and up another dune. From that standpoint they were able to see the walls of what looked like a city in the midst of the desert. A few lonesome tracks of footprints went to and form the the opening of the walls. The gate was open, available for anyone to go into. The nine of them, already exhaused, trudged through the sand until they reached the wall. A man stood out front, in sand-cloloured clothing and a similarly coloured turban wrapped around his head.
He nodded at them, and they walked through. After they passed, though, he turned and squinted at them, having noticed the hair of Wind tossing back and forth and Time’s still glowing eyes.
The nine of them walked through the gates and into a small city, two and three story buildings made of sandstone on either side of them. Windows were cut into the houses, and a few people looked out at them with curiousity.
“What will we do now?” said Steam. “We don’t know where any of the Knowers are. We don’t even know that htere are any knowers here in this village.”
Time and Memory looked at each otehr, then the light began to glow at Memory’s temples.
‘I’m seeing a few things,’ said Memory psychically. ‘I think we can go that way.’
‘We do. We go that way, and we meet up with somone,’ responded Time. ‘But who? I’m not sure. And I’m not sure if it is a friend or foe, Knower of Chosen. But for some reason, I doubt it. But I think that is still the way we need to go if we are to progress.’
“This way,” said Time, leading them through the city. They passed a few people in the street. Eventually, they came to a market, with people standing behind stands filled with fruits and vegetables, jewels, gold, and spices.
The merchants cried out at them, beckoning them closer, and calling for them to buy their wares.
But one man, a man wearing black and behind a booth filled with small black boxes, looked at them from under his hood of black.
One hand emerged fromt he folds of his cloack and beckoned them over.
The nine, warily, went over to him. He motioned them closer and spoke under his breath.
“I know who and what you are. Come with me, and we can discuss things further,” he said.
They were unable to see his eyes from where they hid uner his hood, but at a nod from Time, they followed the man, who got out from behind the stand and walked away through the streets.
“What about your wares?” asked Memory.
“Do not worry about them,” said the man.
They followed him through the streets, taking a few turns, and stopping in front of yet another house made of sansdstone. He opened the door and motioned them through.
Whereas it was hot outside, the house was pleasantly cool. Even inside, through, the man did not take off his hood. There was a large couch made of richly coloured cloth that the man told them to sit on.
He pulled up a chair and faced them.
“I am a Knower, of a sort. But not of a sort that you know of, or…well, I wont go into that too much.”
“What makes you different?” asked Sound.
“I am of a type that doesn’t count as one of the twelve knowers. But you. You should not be here, The Boy with Sound in his Fingers. You are our enemy.”
“And you are mine, but yet I am here. There is a greater struggle going on here than just The Great War. Something that we are trying to figure out, and , eventually, stop.”
The whole while that they had been with him, Memory and Time both had been trying to figure out more about this man, his history, who he was, and who he would be. But, as happened when they did so with Steam, they came up against a wall of shadow protecting all information about the man.
‘I’m not sure who he is,’ said Memory telpathically to Steam and Time.
‘Nor am I,” said time. ‘We should be careful.’
“Now, please, tell me about your quest, what you have done so far, and what you are hoping to accomplish,” said the man in black.
“First, can you tell us your name?” prooposed Mmeory.
“Yes, yes, of course. How could I have forgotten. I am Kalehp Truferen. Now about your quest.”
“I started in Falx,” said Steam, “and eventually gathered up these nine Chosen from their respective Soudulir. We were attacked on Gemini, and also fought on Falx, after The Girl with Light on her Hands joined us.”
“Good, good. Yes, I had assumed as much.”
“About the battles?” asked Memory.
“Ah…yes,” answered the man,.
“”how could you have known about them?” Memory questioned.
The man hesitated. “Because…because of course, if you are on such an important journey, someone must want to stop you!” He laughed, awkwardly.
“But now I must go,” he said. “I have…a meeting to attend to. If you want to meet The Chosen from this Soudulir, yiou mmay ask one of the townsfolk for the house of Bartholomew Zeremai. The Chosen lives there, and Bartholomew attends to himn.”
He stood up and walked out the door. None of the ten heard of The Chosen and The Forskaken heard it,, but, as he passed out the door,, he spoke quietly. “Yes, join him. And you all may die together.”
A moment after the man called Kalehp exited the room through the door, the nine Chosen and the one Forsaken also went out through the door, out of the shade and cool into the hot desert air.
The man, even though he had left only a few seconds before, was nowhere to be seen.
Time shielded his eyes from the sudden brightness, then, after his eyes adjusted, put his hand back down.
The group looked around for anyone to ask about where James Leramn lived. Eventually, a young woman passed by. Light walked up to her.
“Where may we find James Leramn,” Light asked her.
The woman looked surprised for a moment, then recovered and pointed down the street.
“Walk down that way, then turn right when you reach the end of the street, where it forks. Three houses down is where he lives. No one ever visits him, though,” she said.
“Thank you,” responded Light.
The woman walked away down the street the way she had been walking, and The Chosen and The Forsaken walked down the street, the way she had pointed.
As they walked, they looked closer at the houses on either side of them. They were still made of the sandstone, like the other houses they had seen were, and they seemed almost to come straight out of the ground, sloping slightly towards their bases.
Some of the houses were large, some were small and rounded, looking like a small lump in the ground.
They continued down the street until they came to the place that the woman had spoken of, where the street ended against a row of houses but split off to the left and right.
They turned down the right side, counting the houses.
They reached the third one down and knocked at the door. At first, there was no response. But a moment later, a middle aged man opened the door. His clothes were worn, his hair tangled and bedraggled.
“How may I help you?” asked the man, his voice very quiet.
They introduced themselves then Sound spoke. “We are here to meet The Chosen of this Soudulir. We have heard that he lives here with you.”
“Yes, he does.” the man responded, his voice still close to a whisper. “But I am afraid that you,” he said to Sound, “will have to wait outside the house, at least until I ask The Boy with Silence in his Soul if you may come in.”
“Which is acceptable, I suppose,” responded Sound, coldly.
“You may call me Bartholomew. My name is Bartholomew Zeremai. And welcome to Sagittarius, all of you.” the man said, leading all into the house except for The Boy with Sound in his Fingers.
He waited outside, sitting down onto the sandy ground and leaning against the outer wall of the house.
Inside the house was cluttered, stacks of things piled high both against the walls and around the floor. Dirty dishes were piled high in the sink. The inside of the house was also made of the sandstone, and itwas pleasantly cool inside. The floor was sandstone, but was worn smooth by many year’s use.
“Sorry for the mess,” the man said, stepping around a basket holding oddly shaped pieces of wood.
He led them through the littered house to a door, completely smooth, and made of an off white coloured wood, very pure with no knots. The handle was made of solid glass, with no cracks or blemishes.
The man knocked at the door. The door opened.
The door was opened by a young boy, dressed in sand coloured clothing, wrapped tight around him. Around his neck and shoulders, going partway down his arm, was a seperate piece of cloth. The room was very different than the rest of the rooms in the house. It was perfectly square, and completely empty. The walls, still made of sandstone, were very smooth, without feeling like sandpaper.
But what struck them most about it was how silent it was. It was not only a silence as though there was nothing to make sound in there, but a silence almost as if no sound could be in there, as if the silence ate any noise. Even the breaths they took went by without making a sound.
“These are The Chosen and The Forsaken that we have been waiting so many years for, Silence,” said the man. He turned to the others. “I call him Silence.”
The boy nodded at them without speaking. He then turned back to Bartholomew, his eyes pleading.
“Ah yes. I probably should have told you. It’s just so normal for me, I didn’t think to. The Boy with Silence in his Soul, The Chosen of Sagittarius, cannot speak. He has never been able to talk, ever since his birth. I have managed to take care of him, nonetheless, though. And I am sure you will have no problem…communicating with him, either.”
Memory stepped forward. “Time, Steam and I have psychic abilities. If he allows us, we can have access to his thoughts, at least, the ones that he would like to speak. Would you mind that?” he asked Silence.
The boy nodded.
Memory put his hands on Silence’s temples and closed his eyes. A light glowed at Memory’s temples shortly, Memory searching for the boy. Then the boy unlocked his mind to that of Memory’s, and Memory pulled his hands away. Time did the same, followed by Steam.
‘Thank you very much,’ said Silence. ‘This will make things easier. But there is one missing of your number. Who is it?’
‘It is The Boy with Sound in his Fingers,’ responded Time.
At the name, Silence shuddered. ‘Good for him to stay out there. Opposites, for him and I, will prove to not be a good combination. Sound and silence do not go together,’ he said through his mind.
‘But you must remain allies, in any case. For we cannot be divided any more than possible in our journey,’ said Steam.
“I trust it worked?” said Bartholomew questioningly.
“Yes,” responded Memory.
‘Tell him that I am very thankful for all he has done for me,’ said Silence.
“He says that he is very thankful for everything you have done for him,” said Memory.
“I have been very honored to be able to do so,” said Bartholomew in response. “I hope you journey goes well. Should I make you the tea now?” he asked the group.
As soon as he had asked the question, a scream was heard outside, in the city of sand.
Bartholomew looked up in concern.
“What was that?” asked Fire.
Steam, Memory, and Time closed their eyes. They used their powers, the light coming to Time’s eyes and Memory and Steam’s temples.
After a moment, the light stopped and their eyes snapped open.
“There is another attack,” said Memory and Steam in unison.
“We have to go. We have to fight,” said Time.
“I will stay here and make the tea. When you get back, it will be ready,” said Bartholomew.
“But first,” broke in Steam. “I have a request to make. Before we go, I am going to try to complete my collection of powers, or at least add the ones that I don’t have yet. I have those of Wind, Memory, Sound, and Fire. But will you all help me gain the rest? I feel…I feel that in this battle I will need them all. Life, Light, Water, Time, and Silence, even though I don’t know your power, will you assist me?”
“Sure,” said Time.
The others nodded as well.
Life stepped forward. “I can be first, if that is all right,” he said softly.
“Thank you,” said Steam.
“When I use my power, I feel a…welling up inside. A welling up of energy, a live energy. And I merely direct it to my hands, and the light comes into them, and I can use the power.”
Steam took a deep breath and readied himself. He lifted up his hand, and felt an energy run through him, an energy like he had never felt before. It flooded his entire body, yet he directed it towards his hand. His hand started to glow. He looked around the house for a second, unsure of what to do.
“Touch something,” said Life.
Steam walked over to the basket of oddly shaped pieces of wood. He reached down and touched one of the pieces.
He pulled his hand away, and a moment later, a sprout grew up from where he had touched the wood, a small sapling.
He looked at Life. The Boy with Life in his Hands smiled at Steam.
“Very good,” Life said.
Light stepped forward, cutting him off. “So you want to learn how to use my power, do you? Well, I’ll tell you. Actually, it is somewhat like what Life said, yet this power manifests itself into light, light which I am able to control. Try doing what you did for life again, but try to…use it as light, or something.”
Steam took another deep breath, and lifted up his hand again. A glowing came into it again, this time stronger, almost blinding. In a second, the light seemed to pour out of his hand in a stream, which he turned and moved, testing his control over it.
“Good, for someone who just learned anyway. I’m able to do different things with it, more powerful things,” said Light.
“Thank you,” said Steam. “I will try to get better at using this power of yours.”
Water, then, stepped forward.
“I can show you how to use my power, on one condition. Do not use it mercifully. This power is not a peaceful one.”
The entire time he had been speaking, his face was hard. Suddenly, it softened slightly.
“Well, don’t forget the difference between the power of The Boy with Life in his Hands and the power of mine. Anyway, as you have seen, water flows in my veins, and if I want to use it, I only have to slit my wrists, if there is no water elsewhere. But I do not need the water that is in me, I can use any water. And this is what you will do. Reach out with the power. Try to grasp control over the water. And…use it. But it is not how the others have said, for this power. It is not a welling up of power inside youself, but a feeling of control over things outside yourself.”
Steam closed his eyes and took a deep breath, but stopped when Water put a hand on his shoulder.
“And don’t do that. Just relax. It isn’t very hard,” said Water.
Steam, eyes open, held out his arms loosely, fingers spread. There was a glass of water on a table, bubbles on the inside indicating that it had been stagnant there for a while.
Steam focused on the water, trying to gain control over it.
Again he tried, straining for power over the liquid. In a moment, it moved slightly, small waves lapping against the edge of the glass. Seeing that he had gained some control over it, he strained harder. A small stream of water lifted up out of the glass, waving around.
Then suddenly, it became easy for him. He lifted the contents of the glass in its entirety out of the glass, stretching it out and moving it around through the air.
Water nodded. “Very good. More power will come in time.”
He stepped back to the others, and Time came forward, Memory following slightly.
“Now you want to learn of my power, I suppose. Very well. As you know, it is a psychic power, and you must be unlocked to have it. But we need not do that again, as I see Memory has already done that for you,” he said. Memory nodded slightly.
“Try to close your eyes without actually closing them, and try to sense what the future might and will be. Your vision will haze. But then you will see possible scenarios, all playing out before you,” Time said,
“What do you mean ‘close my eyes without actually closing them’?” asked Steam.
“Just…relax your eyes. Let blurryness fall over them. And you will see what I mean,” answered Time.
Steam, keeping his eyes closed, felt the blurryness fall over his eyes and a sudden surge of energy go through his mind. A glow came to his eyes, and he saw, before him, dozens upon dozens of possible timelines that could happen. And there was one in particular that he felt a draw towards, one that he felt was the one that would happen. As he tried to look further down the timeline, a few minutes later than where they now were, he came up against a wall of shadow, hiding everything beyond it.
Then he focused his eyes, going back to the present.
“There is something…hidden in the future. Our future. Have you seen this?” asked Steam.
“Yes. I know no more about it than you, though,” responded Time.
‘I would like to tell you about my power,’ said Silence in his mind.
Steam turned to him. ‘What is your power?’ he asked.
‘I create stillness wherever I am, silence and peace. It comes from deep within me, from my soul. It devours any sound around me. But I do not know how you can have this power. I do not seem to have much control over it. Only a few times have I been able to control it. It feels like an emptiness pouring out of me. But that is all I know.’
‘I will try,’ said Steam.
He took a deep breath, then exhaled completely, getting every last scrap of air out of his lungs. He tried to sense the emptiness, the still, the peace, the silence.
And the silence came, filling him and pouring out, quieting the house even more than it already was.
‘Yes. That is it. But I still do not know of what it can do, or what it will do,’ said Silence in his mind.
The silence was broken by another scream from outside, followed shortly by a crash.
“Go now,” said Bartholomew. “I will have the tea ready when you return.”
The nine of them hurried out of the house, to where Sound now stood, looking around, trying to find the source of the sound.
When he saw Silence, he nodded curtly. “I see you’ve joined us now. It took you all long enough.” He seemed sour, possibly from waiting so long outside while the others were in the house.
“We were helping Steam get the rest of our powers,” said Memory.
“Oh. Well in that case…” Sound trailed off apologetically.
Another crash was heard, a sound of stone being smashed through. They looked to each other, then, without another word, rushed off in the direction of the sound.
Smoke rose from a house, its roof partly caved in. A legion of warriors in black, led by one man, streamed from between the houses into the street. The man in front wore a black cloth wrapped around his head, obscuring his features.
He pointed at the ten Chosen and The Forsaken. The warriors streamed past him, rushing towards the group. When they got closer, they realized with a shock that they were the skeleton warriors that they had battled before, but this time more heavily armored and wearing black clothing suitable to the desert.
They fought how they had before. Silence stood in the centre of the warriors, his head down. He took a deep breath, summoning more power than he had ever tried to before. Around him, silence loomed, removing all sound of the warriors and the battle he was in the midst of. The warriors closest to him slowed slightly. Their flow had been broken by him. One turned on him, attempting to get close. He swung his sword down at Silence. It stopped a hair’s breadth from him, the blade turning away. The blade snapped, the metal corroding.
An arm of water coming from The Boy with Water in his Veins crushed the warriors around Silence, grinding their bones to powder and their armor to useless crumples of metal.
Silence nodded gratefully to Water.
Steam had been using his sword in conjunction with his other powers, the white flame burning at his chest, his temples, eyes, and hands glowing, water hovering above him, striking down any warriors coming towards his back, which he saw with the powers of Memory and Time. The area around him was silent, except for a few times he used the power of Sound to create sinkholes which the seemingly endless warriors fell into. His hair blew about in the wind he created, spinning about him and creating a miniature hurricane.
Elements flew about him, destroying the warriors. None could get close to him. None but the leader of the warriors, who slowly approached Steam, warding off any attacks Steam flung towards him. Another wave of the skeletal warriors closed in around Steam, and he turned to face them. The man lunged forward, drawing his sword.
He ran his sword through Steam’s back.
Steam’s eyes widened with the sudden and unexpected pain. He coughed, blood spurting out onto the sand. He stared at it in disbelief.
The man pulled the sword out, blood sliding off of it and dripping onto the sand. He flicked the blood off, out of the blood groove cut into the sword, splattering the sand with red.
Steam cried out at the sudden pain, then looked down. He was still wearing the scarlet clothes that he had put on in Aries, but a darker red was bleeding into them.
He collapsed, the light fading from his eyes, temples, and hands, and the water under his control falling onto the sand and the wind drifting away, calm.
The final thing to fade was the flame at his chest. The man kicked over his body so that Steam was facing upwards vacantly.
The man sneered, then let out a triumphant shout. “He is dead! Allies of Kzek may rejoice!”
The warriors paused in their fighting for a moment, then turned back, to find the Chosen they had been fighting was gone. The Chosen rushed forward to Steam’s still body.
Fire, the flame still burning at his chest, stood up and punched the man in the jaw, sending him sprawling. The man smiled, a trail of blood running out of his mount and dripping onto the sand.
Fire, Water, and Sound rushed forward and grabbed the man. Fire struck him again and again, bones cracking and teeth breaking.
When he stopped, the man, while battered, was still smiling. “I do not care what you do to me now,” he said.
Memory pulled off the black cloth around the man, revealing that it was the man that they had talked to earlier, Kalehp Truferen.
“You!” yelled Fire, punching the man again. Wind walked up to them and put his hand on Fire’s shoulder.
“Why? Why did you do this? Who are you, really?” he demanded.
“Now that I have succeeded, I may tell you. I am not one of the twelve Knowers, as I said earlier. But I have been sent here by God, by the most holy Kzek, to kill Steam, as he was the most…powerful of the ten of you. Now your quest is impossible.”
Wordlessly, Fire created the sword of flame in his hand and sliced off the head of Kalehp. The other two let go of his body and it fell to the sand with a thud.
He dropped the body, but almost before it hit the sand, it dissipated into a black mist.
“Kzek,” whispered Water. “It is his doing.”
They turned back to the body of Steam. The others had been digging a grave in the sand for him, but Wind stopped them.
“No,” said Wind, “I do not think that is how it should be.”
There was a large sandstone monolith towering above them a short ways away, and Wind, using his power, lifted the corpse up to it, resting it on the top.
Stifling sorrow, the nine of them went back to the house of Bartholomew. As soon as they returned, he saw their solemn faces and noticed that The Boy with Steam on his Breath was with them no more.
He turned his face downwards. “I did not know him for long, but I know he was good. And all men die, whether good or bad. I have prepared the tea for you, to go on to the next Soudulir. I know things will be hard from now. But you must bear on through the hardship.”
He handed them each a glass, some of which had hairline cracks running down the sides.
“I wish you well on your journey,” said Bartholomew.
‘Tell him that I will miss him,’ thought Silence.
“He says that he will miss you,” said Memory.
“I will miss you, as well,” responded Bartholomew.
The tea inside was very light in colour, tinted only very slightly green. They drank of the tea, tasting the light flavour, somewhat copper-like, warm, and having almost no smell.
The area around them blurred, as it had done so many times before, all around them fading into black. The nine of them stood on the black plain for a moment before the area brightened and sharpened.
The area around them was cold. Snow blew down around them, covering the ground and trees. Before them was a tombstone.