Eldnium, p.7
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       Eldnium, p.7

           Enoch Pyle, Jr
 
At the top of the hill, Landon could see down the slope on the opposite side, and the cobbled path continued downward into a circular valley bordered by large and ancient trees. At the center, a round area was paved with cobblestones in the shape of a circle, and around its circumference, seven massive stone fountains trickled water down their fronts, where a small stream formed and flowed toward the center of the circle, where they joined together before dripping into a hole in the ground.

  “This is a respected and ancient place,” Li’an explained, “so please conduct yourself accordingly.”

  Landon wasn’t sure what Li’an meant by this. Did she think he was going to climb around on the fountains or splash through the streams? Her assumptions, whatever they were, certainly put him off a bit, but he responded through his teeth, “Sure. Best behavior,” and crossed his heart with his index finger.

  She led the way down the cobbled path, and as they neared The Fountains, Landon could truly grasp the size and scope of the entire place.

  Each fountain was a giant, rectangular slab of stone like marble, white with swirls of glistening minerals passing through it. At the top of each slab sat a small hole, where water trickled out and down the face of the slab, winding its way through some sort of symbol etched in the surface before finally leaking into a channel that led away from the slab. The channels were formed out of cobblestones and slithered toward the center of the area like giant serpents, where each met a manhole-sized pit. The water rushed from the channels and down into the pit with a sound like a waterfall. It was difficult for Landon to imagine how such a small trickle from each fountain could become such a rush of water at the center of the fountains.

  “What do those symbols mean?” he asked Li’an, pointing out the carvings on each giant slab of stone.

  “It’s the one true Prophecy, inscribed here by the water itself in Arahmian, the universe’s oldest language.”

  “What does it say?”

  “It says, ‘Among many there is one to whom time itself bows down. Save this hero and use its strength to burn the Kingdom’s Crown.’”

  “The Kingdom’s Crown?”

  “The Control.” Li’an gently placed her hand against Landon’s, intertwining their fingers together, which caught him off guard. “Some say this is the most powerful place in the universe. Can you feel it?”

  Landon did feel power, but not from The Fountains. Li’an’s hand filled his body with warmth.

  With magic.

  She drew closer to him. “When Isaac comes, you’ll drink from the fountain, and the Oracle will speak to you.”

  “The what?” Landon dropped Li’an’s hand and backed away.

  “The Oracle.”

  “Like…something that can tell the future?”

  “No,” Li’an smiled. “The Oracle is the future. And the present. And the past.” Li’an raised her eyebrows. “She knows all things. She’ll see in you who you are and what purpose you’ll serve. She’ll set you on your path.”

  “She decides my mission?”

  “No. Just your path.”

  “I don’t understand.”

  “You won’t understand until she speaks to you,” Li’an explained.

  “Well, what did she say to you?”

  Li’an was silent, her eyes falling to the ground. “She doesn’t speak to me.”

  “Why?”

  “I’m not a hero,” Li’an said.

  “That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try,” Landon argued. “Maybe she could help you discover your power.”

  “I have tried,” Li’an said, her voice a mix of sadness and frustration. “I have come to this fountain and drank from its waters every day since I first laid my eyes on it. I told you. She doesn’t speak to me.”

  At that moment, there was a flash of light, and from the sky, Isaac fell to the ground in his usual, heroic fashion, the impact of which left a small depression in the terra.

  “Hello, Isaac,” Li’an said.

  “Hello,” Isaac answered. “Landon, how are you?”

  “I feel okay. A little nervous,” he admitted.

  “Iclovar says you’ve adapted well to your new surroundings…better than most. He also tells me that you have an interesting ability.”

  “I haven’t quite figured that out, yet,” Landon answered.

  “Hmmm,” Isaac scratched his scruffy chin. “All is known in time. Come.” Isaac led the pair to the nearest channel and then turned and faced them both. “Welcome to The Fountains, Landon. I trust Li’an has filled you in on what happens here?”

  Landon nodded.

  “The prophecy inscribed on these stones was given to me long, long ago. You’ll see how closely it resembles the Prophecy of Nau, which says, ‘A hero cometh, one each from where all forms of life the ground can bare. But only one can tear through space and with sheer will the war erase. And while all fall, they do not fail, for they lift The One above the veil.’”

  Landon stood speechless. No one had ever spoken the prophecy aloud in all the time he had been in this place. They regarded it too highly. None felt worthy of letting it leave their lips. But Isaac spoke it freely. As if its words were made for him.

  “You can see, then, Landon, that the Oracle has set me on a path to find the one true hero, yes?”

  “Yeah, of course,” Landon said, his voice little more than a whisper, his head clouded with awe. He had never realized words could be so powerful.

  “Li’an, please step back.” She did. “Landon, in a moment I will ask you to cup your hands and drink from this fountain. From the well in the center of The Fountains, the Oracle will rise. Only you will see her. Only you will hear her voice. It is crucial that you remember her words precisely as they are spoken. Do you understand?”

  “Sure,” Landon answered, now feeling a rush of responsibility for which he hadn’t exactly prepared himself.

  “Wait until we’re out of the…”

  “ISAAC!” A shout came from atop the hill. It was Iclovar running down the cobbled path toward The Fountains.

  “Iclovar, what is it?” Isaac sounded worried, a tone Landon didn’t recognize from the great leader.

  The trainer reached the edge of the circumplex and said, “Jackson’s mother is dead.”

  Landon watched Isaac’s eyes catch fire, igniting with determination, and without a word, there was another flash of light, and Isaac shot into the sky, disappearing in an instant.

  Iclovar looked to Li’an and Landon, panting. “You two head back to the village. The Oracle will have to wait.” And he turned and darted away on the cobbled path.

  “Who’s Jackson?” Landon asked.

  “I’m not sure,” Li’an answered, “but I’ve heard his name before. He’s another Isaac had marked for rescue. He’s important, but Isaac hasn’t told me anything about him.”

  “If he’s important, then why is it so disastrous that his mother has died?”

  “As long as at least one parent is alive, The Control can’t find heroes. The parents’ love masks them. They have spies on planets, however, who trick the planet’s inhabitants into thinking heroes are enemies. In most cases, the heroes are discovered and killed by their own people. Usually, at birth.”

  “Is that what happened to your family?”

  “Yes.”

  “But Isaac rescued you in time?”

  “Just in time.”

  “Wow.” Landon saw Li’an shift uncomfortably and decided to change topics. “How about that shoreside walk?” he offered.

  Li’an smiled, “With Isaac gone and the Oracle on hold, we could take the long route back.”

  “Long route?”

  “It’ll take two or three days, but you’ll get to see everything this little planet has to offer. You up for it?”

  Landon’s eyes lit. Three days with a beautiful young lady sounded like it might not be all bad. “Yeah…definitely.”

  They flashed each other a smile and then set off climbing the nearest grassy hill.

&nb
sp; Part Two

  Option 3-5-9

  Day One

 
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