Champion of the light, p.20
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       Champion of the Light, p.20

           David Castleton
 
Chapter Nineteen

  Andrew and Greybeard climbed the rope ladder. At twenty-five feet above the misty path was a wooden deck. They could once again see the surrounding mountains.

  "There she is," said Greybeard. "The Kilon. Ain't she a beauty?"

  "Wow, look at those spinning eyes," said Andrew.

  Tethered to the railing was a very large, predominantly white bird. The feathers on the tips of its wings were a rainbow of colors, as were its tail feathers. Its eyes were also a swirl of color, which spun in the light, creating the illusion of spinning eyes. A colorful stripe on either side led from its eyes along its body to its tail. Andrew thought it to be breathtakingly beautiful.

  The great bird regarded them curiously with one large multicolored eye.

  "How do we do this, Greybeard? The saddle only has room for one." said Andrew.

  "I could turn back." Greybeard offered.

  "No, we're in this together. We came this far, and we are both going to see Teltibane. Besides, I may need you to help me take him in. And, I am not going to allow you to go back through the fire and ulthars again, alone."

  "Fine. One of us will sit in the saddle, the other in front. The one in the saddle will hold on to the other one and prevent him from falling off."

  "Okay. I don't think that I will be able to hold you, so you take the saddle."

  They mounted the bird and got as comfortable as possible. Andrew cut the tether, and the bird took off with a mighty flap of its great wings.

  They circled the valley, gaining altitude to climb over the towering mountains.

  "This is awesome!" Andrew let out a whoop of joy. It was quite a thrill, flying on the back of a bird, out in the open, with only Greybeard's grip to hold him in place. The wind whipped through his hair.

  He couldn't wait to tell his brother Phoenix about it. Thought he wasn't sure if he would believe him.

  The rhythmic flapping of the bird's wings created a rolling motion for its riders. It took a few minutes to get used to, but at length Andrew found it to be somewhat relaxing. It was kind of like the roll of a ship at sea, only faster.

  They passed over the forty-thousand foot tall Dumvarin mountains, now miles high in the air. The bird headed northwest.

  They flew for hours and hours, until Andrew got the feeling that they will never land. Like the President in Air Force One when America is under attack.

  They passed over the picturesque rolling countryside of the Realm of the Light; lakes, hills, rivers, valleys. Occasionally they spotted a town on the ground.

  Finally, hours later, when they were over a wooded, mountainous region, Andrew detected a slight shift in the angle of their flight. Then it became more and more pronounced. They were descending, at last.

  The bird circled low and landed in a clearing in the middle of a mountainside forest. There was a small, grey, wooden hut to one side of the clearing, and a simple well on the other.

  Greybeard smoothed out his worn clothing and combed his fingers through his tangled hair, in a vain effort to make himself look more presentable for his meeting with the old sorcerer.

  They walked to the hut.

  "'Suppose you should knock, Andrew."

  Andrew knocked. There was no answer. He knocked again, louder this time. Still no reply.

  "You don't suppose that maybe the Kilon came to the wrong place, do you?"

  "Let's hope not. Hullo!" boomed Greybeard. "Anyone home?"

  They walked around the hut, peeking into the windows. They can't have come all this way for nothing.

  "No sign of life," said Andrew.

  "Look!" said Greybeard. "There's a path that leads into the woods. Let's see where it leads."

  But then the Kilon flapped over to Andrew, and nudged him gently in the chest. Then it flew to the well, and waited there expectantly.

  "She's carried us far. She must be tired and thirsty," said Greybeard. "Why don't you give her a drink, Andrew."

  Andrew went to the well and drew a bucket of clear mountain water for the Kilon. He set it before the bird, and she drank from it greedily.

  Greybeard pet her head. "They're amazing creatures, these Kilons, and some other species of great birds that we have around here. They can fly very long distances with a rider, or with two as we've seen."

 

  They proceeded to walk into the woods.

  They arrived at another, smaller clearing. In its center sat a meditating, ancient man. He floated several feet in the air in the classic yoga position.

  The man's hair and beard were long and flowing, of purest white. He had a high brow, and a long pointed nose. His eyes were of deepest blue.

  There were small animals all around and on him. Furry squirrels poked their noses out of his wide sleeves, while small birds and colorful butterflies adorned his head and arms.

  He sensed their presence, and stood, his long pale green and white robe, embroidered with silver, unfolding to the floor.

  He held out his hand. "Welcome Andrew. Welcome to the Color Realms, and welcome to the Realm of the Light."

  So this is the man who is luring young children away from their homes to dangerous places. Andrew drew his katana. "Don't move. I know how to use this thing!"

  "Andrew, Andrew, come now. Do you really think that I meant you harm?" asked the old man.

  Andrew looked into his deep blue eyes. They looked so pure. "Yes."

  "Then this is going to take more time than I thought."

  "Because you want to kill me, right?" Andrew felt a surge of anger course through him.

  "Want to kill you?" His maddingly calm tone of voice was in sharp contrast to Andrew's angry, turbulent one.

  "Yes," said Andrew, a vein pulsing in his neck. "Want to kill me. And Katy. Isn't that why you brought us here? Isn't that why you stranded us in the middle of a rainforest, among glenvins, eaguars, and all kinds of beasts? Because you want to kill us."

  "No, to the contrary. Though I certainly could if I wanted."

  "Well, your time has come. Murderer." Andrew raised his sword, and prepared to charge the old man.

  The ancient man made a downward motion with his hand. Andrew felt a tremendous force push down on the sword. He struggled to hold it up, but it was too strong. Slowly, the blade inched downwards, until its tip made contact with the ground, and penetrated it. It continued, further and further, until the sword stuck deep into the forest floor.

  Andrew understood that this man was far more powerful than he had estimated. "Fine, so what are you waiting for? Kill me now! I survived the rainforest. You didn't kill me there. But now you have me anyway to do as you like."

  "You survived the forest?" the man asked.

  "Yes. I fought off the animals."

  "You fought off the animals? How, pray tell?"

  "With my sword and magical robe."

  "Your sword, and your magical robe," said the man slowly. "Did you fashion these items for yourself, young Andrew?"

  At last it hit Andrew like a ton of bricks.

  "N-no, they, it, they, they were given to me."

  "Indeed."

  "Y-you, you gave them to me. They came from the book. The book that you created. Why?"

  His mind struggled with all the info. It just didn't add up.

  "Andrew, we have much to talk about. I'm sure you're wondering why I brought you here to this world, since it is by now apparent that I meant you no harm. Here's what really happened. I sent out the summoning books to Earth. You were worthy of one. You were supposed to read it to find out how to get here. Seek out a rainbow, concentrate on where you need to go... but you met up with a rainbow prematurely. Am I correct?"

  "Yes." He had seen a rainbow right after he got the book, before he had time to read it.

  "Well, that was a most unfortunate coincidence. Since you were thinking of nowhere when you interacted with the rainbow, you ended up precisely in the middle of nowhere. The thick of the Great Ra
inforest, far from any civilization."

  Andrew struggled with the logic of that one for a moment. It seemed to make sense.

  "How can I trust you? Maybe you need a mortal boy for some twisted evil spell?"

  The man laughed. A clear, pleasant sound. "Andrew, I hope that in time you will truly come to trust me. I really do, for I want only the best for you. For now, it seems that we will have to suffice with a demonstration of force. I will demonstrate two spells. The first will prove that I can immobilize you with ease. The second will prove that I can kill you with ease. With your consent—"

  "What are you going to do?" Andrew asked.

  "Just immobilize you for a minute. Okay?"

  Andrew nodded.

  The old man closed his eyes, clasped his hands together and whispered something. A thin cord shot out from his hands and twisted itself around and around Andrew, until he couldn't move.

  The man waved his hands, and the cord vanished.

  "Now for the second spell. If I can snap a mature oak cleanly in half, surely I can snap your fragile human neck, yes?"

  Andrew nodded. He had to agree with that one.

  The man turned and faced a large oak. He held his hand flat, as if he was about to perform a karate chop. He drew it back, and made a swift chopping motion. The tree split in two. The top came crashing down to the floor, startling the birds.

  The man performed a series of spells, and the dead tree vanished, a young sapling taking its place.

  He turned, smiling. "Well?"

  "Impressive," said Greybeard. "We are forced to trust you for now. Though you still owe Andrew an apology for putting him and his friend in danger, even if it was only inadvertently."

  "You are right there. Andrew, I sincerely apologize for what you went through, and for your friend's capture. However, the experience must have improved your fighting and survival skills. You may come to need those."

  Andrew nodded stiffly. The man held out his hand to shake. Andrew took it. His grip was surprisingly strong, for such an old person. For some reason, it didn't strike Andrew as odd that the man knew his name before he told it to him.

  "Nice to meet you. And you are?" the old man turned towards Greybeard.

  Greybeard bowed. "Ganvian Greybeard. I accompanied Andrew here."

  Teltibane eyed the dwarf. "I assume you took the Nenwé mine route?"

  "Yes indeed, sir. We didn't know of any other passable routes through the Dumvarin mountains."

  "Oh, there are seven others, only known to those who know," said the man cryptically.

  "Excuse me sir," said Andrew. "But if you don't mind me asking, who are you exactly?"

  "A fair question. Let's go to the hut. I'll make us some tea. We have much to discuss. And we should be heading out sooner than later."

  "Heading out to where?"

  "To the Citadel."

  "The Citadel?"

  "All in due time, all in due time, my young friend. I like to come out here when I need a peaceful atmosphere, to think clearly. But we have much work to do, back at the Citadel. C'mon, we'll talk more in the hut."

  Andrew and Greybeard conferred quietly. "Can we trust him?"

  "Seems we have to. You saw what he did to that oak tree. I'll be on my guard, and so should you. If he tries any funny business, hopefully we can overpower him if we work together."

  "Okay. I'm scared of him."

  "So am I." Andrew was shocked that the valiant Greybeard would admit this. "We have to tread carefully here. I sense something very wrong about this character. You talk to him. Meanwhile I'll be thinking of a plan to escape. Maybe if we can make it back to the Kilon..."

  "Got it."

  Andrew turned to Teltibane. "Lead the way."

  They made their way through the forest and over to the grey hut that the adventurers had seen when they first arrived.

  "I see that you have watered Shamselle. Excellent. She only flies at my command by the way."

  Andrew and Greybeard exchanged looks. There goes their escape route.

  The hut was a simple, one person dwelling, consisting of one sparsely decorated room, furnished with a bed, a table, two chairs, and a small pot bellied stove. The man busied about, making tea.

  "Sit," he gestured to the chairs. He himself sat on the bed.

  "I'm sure that you have many questions for me, Andrew."

  "Yes."

  "Let's start with the first one you asked. Who am I? The answer to that is far from simple. I am very old. Much older than your friend Ganvian here. And I am known by many names and titles, which I have acquired throughout the ages. Amongst elves and Men, it is now the fashion to call me Teltibane, a flattering name as per its deeper meaning. The dwarves call me, 'en Garnvair Kune', or the Mighty One. That is for my name. As for what I am, in essence? Suffice it to say that the Maker of the Realms and Earth made me from His Luminance, to see to it that all life is protected, and that the Light endure."

  Greybeard raised his eyebrows at this. Teltibane paused to sip his tea.

  "But Andrew, what am I to you, personally? I am definitely the one who summoned you here, as you know by now. I even removed most of the obstacles from the path, to hasten your arrival".

  "That explains much," said Greybeard

  Andrew pretended that his suspicions about Teltibane were gone. "I suspected that it was Blue who lured us here, or another evil sorcerer."

  "I can certainly see why you may have thought that," said Teltibane, "as you didn't, and still don't know the reason why you are here. And then there is the perilous place you landed up in when you first got here. I will attempt to explain, shortly. But before we go on, I have a few questions for you of my own."

  "Ok."

  "It was you who first found the book, The Kingdom of the Light, and it wasn't given to you by another?"

  "Yes."

  "Did you feel drawn and attracted to it? An inexplicable urge to pick it up?"

  "Yes."

  "Good. Very good. What is your favorite color?"

  "I don't have one favorite. I love them all equally."

  "Excellent. A simply superb response. Are you intuitive with the katana sword?"

  "Uh huh."

  "That's a very good sign. Background in the martial arts?"

  "Yes, I have studied judo." Andrew was surprised that he would know this.

  "Judo you say. Such a fine art. Good. All excellent signs."

  "Signs that what?"

  "Why, signs that you are the true Champion."

 

  Andrew was nonplussed. "Champion?"

  "In times of unrest in the Color Realms. When the very Light, the very purpose itself may be in danger. A Champion may be summoned forth from the Mortal Realm, to do battle on behalf of the Light and the people. In times such as these, when a Color forgets that it is his duty to work in harmony with the rest to produce the Light. When one Color may turn on another, in perfidy. A Champion is called forth from the mortal world to set things right."

  "What is the peril?" Andrew asked.

  "I sense that King Blue may turn on Lord Green. Blue has been building up a mighty army for some time now, and he may attack very soon. You may well be the Champion that we are all waiting for, to save us from the domination and tyranny of King Vallidius Blue."

  He may even be speaking the truth. But Andrew felt all of the anxiety that had built up inside him over the past few weeks, all of the fear over what could happen to him and Katy, transform into nothing but anger towards this man. Towards this man, who had put his and Katy's lives in danger, so many times, again and again. Cooperate? Not in the cards.

  "You could've gotten Katy and I killed!" Andrew shouted. "And now I don't know if I will ever see her again. Just so that you could use me, to fix your own problems. I want no part in it. I demand to be sent home at once!"

  "Just leave, then? Leave the Color Realms. Go home to your warm safe house. And leave
Katy to suffer?"

  "That's your fault! You fix it!" Andrew pounded on the table.

  "Andrew, you are not thinking clearly. Please, focus. You are allowing your anger to get the better of you. I need your help to save Katy. And we all need your help, to save us from Blue. Like I explained, I never intended for you to land up in middle of the Great Rainforest. That was a terrible accident."

  "Accident?!" Andrew practically shouted.

  "Yes. An accident. If you would have only read the book, it would have told you how to get here. Seek out a rainbow, concentrate on where you want to go, reach for it...but you met up with a rainbow prematurely. A strange coincidence. But that's why all this happened. That's why your lives were risked. I am so sorry that this had to happen. I am truly sorry. The path of the hero is never a lucid one. But fate has his ways... Anyway, what happened, happened. It is over now."

  "Tell me why should I fight your war," Andrew demanded.

  "My boy, it is not my war. It is everyone's war. Blue is a tyrant, who cares nothing for life, sentient or otherwise. All he cares for is his own power. Here, come look at this mortal newspaper, from yesterday." Teltibane held out a paper.

  Andrew took it. The Nevay City Bugle. On the front page was a story of a hit and run. Blue Lamborghini. Nine p.m. Miss Catherine Wallen. Dead on arrival. What?! Andrew looked again. Catherine Wallen. Andrew's aunt, his mother's sister, who worked in the fashion industry.

  The article went on to say how the police had set up a blockade. The car crashed into the side of a building while doing in excess of one hundred and sixty miles per hour. Yet nothing was found. Not a trace of the wrecked car, or its inhabitants, could be found anywhere in the area. It had vanished, like a puddle of water on a hot summer day. The detectives were stumped.

  "It is clear that this is the work of Blue and his men," said Teltibane. "They were targeting the famed fashion designer Miss Edomal Blaize, who was dining at the diner that night with your aunt. They targeted her because of her campaign against the color blue, which starts this summer. The Colors of the Realms draw influence from the Mortal Realm. The more prevalent, the more popular a color is in the Mortal Realm, the more powerful the corresponding Color will be in the Realms."

  "So, what happened to the car?"

  "None of the pieces of the car were found, because it never crashed. The car they used was blue. The building that they went into is painted blue, as you can see in the picture. The assassins used it as a portal to the Realms."

  Andrew looked up in horror. "Blue killed my aunt."

 

 
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