Knights of Iyatula

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


Sometimes strength is found in the strangest places, Liam would kearn this lesson well.

Chapter 3 (v.1) - Liam's Journey

Submitted: January 16, 2018

Reads: 66

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Submitted: January 16, 2018

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His only warning was a faint squeak on the polished floor behind him, and he didn’t take it for much until he felt himself being hurled end over end. Coming to an abrupt halt under his bed as he hit the wall, he jumped up and rolled out the opposite side and ran, not once looking back. He saw the open closet door and headed straight for it; he dove in, turned and closed the door, but somehow he was too slow.
The tall, skinny boy was standing with his back pressed up against the cupboard wall holding onto the door as hard as he was able to. He was trying to get away from the groping hands that had somehow snaked their way into a crack in the door before he had had a chance to fully close it. He knew those hands, had suffered unspeakable pain from them, but today he would fight to stay away from the hands of John James and his cronies. 
“Get him John-o,” he heard Steve Mathews shout from beyond the door. There were at least five of them, he had kept count every time one of them jeered or egged John onto, ‘get him,’ ‘or get Anadfonos the Greek orphan.’ He had been living with this humiliation for the past one and a half years, ever since the orphanage had sent him to St. Augustus’ Private School for Boys. Apparently an anonymous donation had been made with instructions to send him here.
He felt as the strength left his arms, and moments later he lost his grip on the door. John’s hands shot into the cupboard like lightning and latched onto his strawberry blonde hair. Tears started welling up in his dark green eyes and started rolling down his cheeks just as John pulled him out. Liam’s tormentor was two years his senior and was built like a bulldozer, with a personality to match. John pushed his pimple covered face into Liam’s and his spit flew into his eyes as John shouted, 
“Got you now, you cry baby.”
Liam frantically looked to break the grasp John had on him. He hated this place and this had become his daily routine, he just wished that somewhere in him he had the strength to fight back. John dragged him kicking and screaming down the main corridor and into the boys bathroom.
The bigger boys encircled them leaving him and John in the middle of a circle of blood lust and insanity, making escape impossible. 
“Well, are you a girlie girl, or a little boy?” John asked sticking his face up to Liam’s again. 
“Well answer, I’m asking you a question, are you a little girlie girl or a baby boy?” John sent a fresh wave of spit washing over Liam’s face. 
“I’m a man,” Steve shouted somewhere in the circle just as John poked Liam in the chest. “See my boy Stevie’s a man, I’m a man, and so what are you?” 
“Please, just leave me alone,” Liam stammered and started crying. His crying set of the other boys and they got excited and started chanting, fight, fight, fight. The chanting got John excited and he pushed Liam so hard that he fell over onto the floor.
He had hardly hit the floor when the first kick aimed at his ribs found its mark. Liam started crying louder and this just inflamed John even more. The kicks started raining down on him from every direction, and the only thing he could do was to curl up into a ball to try and protect himself, while John kicked away.
Abruptly the beating stopped and he heard as the boys ran down the corridor, he moved his arm slightly and peered through the gap to make sure that they had left. A boy came tearing down the corridor at the opposite end shouting, 
“You’d better run, you cowardly dogs!” Looking down at Liam David Dlamini asked if he was okay. Liam nodded and let David help him to his feet. 
“I told you to stay with me Liam, you know those boys will not come near you when I am around,” the big black boy said, sitting Liam down on a nearby bed. 
The boarding house that Liam and David were in had twenty two rooms to a floor with two occupants per room. David and Liam had shared room twelve since his arrival at school, and David had been his guardian angel since day one. David was a keen rugby player and was destined to play for the provincial under twenty-one team when he left school the following year. 
“I will not be around forever my friend. What will you do next year when I have gone?” David said turning Liam’s head this way and that looking for injuries. 
“I just left my fork in the room and ran down to get it, how was I supposed to know that oaf was waiting for me? I hate that guy, and worse, I hate what he does to me,” Liam said, feeling the tears welling up in his eyes again. He hated crying, it seemed as though that was all he was good at. How does a fourteen year old boy turn to a blubbering idiot every time he has a confrontation? 
“Maybe, I am just a girlie, girl baby.” Liam said jumping off the bed, heading toward the mess hall, leaving David behind so that he would not see the tears that were rolling freely over his cheeks again.
2
The bright afternoon sun streaked through the classroom window, directly onto Liam’s face. It made him feel warm and comfortable, and he was not really listening to Mrs. Johnson talking. He was lost in a world of day dreams, a world where he was the knight that saved the castle from the evil villain, the knight that got to live happily ever after. “Liam!” Mrs. Johnson shouted a third time before he was lifted from his daze. “I know that you are my best student, but that is no need to sit and sleep in my classroom,” she said walking toward his desk menacingly. 
“Sorry miss, I, I was just…” he tried to think of an excuse but could not. Instead he dropped his head and mumbled another apology. 
“Good, now you can come help me, you can be my assistant for today’s class.” Liam heard as the other children giggled at him and went bright red. None of the children wanted to be her assistant as she had a knack for humiliating them. This privilege was usually reserved for the worst behaved student and Liam had never been.
Liam stepped around behind her work bench and watched as she bent down, opened a door on the cupboard and removed a coffee flask. 
“Right boys and girls, today I have a treat for you. My friend Professor Smith was kind enough to give us some liquid nitrogen. So today we’ll be placing things inside the liquid nitrogen to see how they react.” Liam loved science and had been exceptionally well at it for as long as he could remember, it was as though he and the elements understood one another. His teacher, Mrs. Johnson, had once been a professor at the university herself, but had decided to teach high school after her divorce. This suited Liam as she always gave him extra homework at university level, due to his understanding. 
“Liquid nitrogen is nitrogen in a liquid state at a very low temperature. It is produced industrially by fractional distillation of liquid air. Liquid nitrogen is a colourless clear liquid with a density of zero point eight zero seven grams per millilitre at its boiling point and a dielectric constant of one point four. Liquid nitrogen is often referred to by the abbreviations,” she said, turned to the blackboard and scribbled the abbreviations, ‘LN2 or LIN or LN,’ onto it in her scratchy fashion. Liam knew exactly what she was talking about, but could see that the other children were just eager to freeze things.
“Nitrogen was first liquified at the Jagiellonian University on the fifteenth of April, eighteen eighty three by Polish physicists, Zygmunt Wróblewski and Karol Olszewski. Remember those names as they will be on the test next week. And for goodness sake try and spell them correctly,” she said pointing a ruler at the class, before turning to scribble the names onto the blackboard.
Peter Jenkins who sat in the front row stuck up his hand and Mrs. Johnson asked him what he wanted. 
“Miss, if I were handcuffed by the police would that stuff break through the cuffs?” he asked. The whole class burst out in laughter. 
“Settle down, settle down. Liam can you answer Peter,” she said turning toward him. The classroom went quiet and looked at Liam waiting for his answer. 
“Yes, all substances break at cold enough temperatures, because at lower temperatures it slows down the atoms from vibrating so much that they practically become non-moving crystal lattices. Handcuffs are usually made from stainless steel. Stainless steel is an alloy, meaning that it contains chemical components of a couple different metals; usually the coldest you can get, without access to large machinery, is about minus two hundred, because you lose some to the consistency of the metal. Liquid nitrogen usually will work; pour some on the metal, let it cool down when it reaches anywhere near two hundred degrees below, then apply a blunt force, hammer, or just a large force. It should break or shatter!” Liam watched as the class sat in stunned silence. They had never heard him speak so much before and worst of all, he made it sound as if he knew what he was talking about.
“But as they will be tied to your hands, you’ll probably lose those as well,” Mrs. Johnson said and this set the class off again. Liam was thankful that the attention had been taken off him. The rest of the period was spent freezing and breaking everything from flowers to erasers and Liam was sorry to hear the bell ring.
As usual he was the last to leave and was just about to step out of the door when Mrs. Johnson called him over. 
“I got this for you,” she said handing him a book. He read the title ‘Bose-Einstein Correlations in Particle and Nuclear Physics, by Richard M. Weiner.’ “I thought you might like it. I set up a meeting with Professor Smith for next Friday so that you two can discuss the book, I hope that’s okay,” she said. 
“Okay, it’s better than okay, thanks Miss,” Liam said, excited at the thought of discussing the things he knew with someone else, someone who would know what he was saying. “Liam, I don’t mean to pry, but where do you go when you space out like you did today? I mean I know that this is the last class for the day, but it’s not as though you’re tired it’s more like you’re lost,” Liam could see the concern in her face and went bright red from embarrassment. 
“I’m sorry, it wasn’t my intention to make you feel uncomfortable,” she said, seeing his embarrassment.
Liam liked her, and he knew that he would have to confide in someone at some point, so he opened his mouth and everything just poured out. 
“I am sure you’ve read my file. I am an orphan whose parents did not want him. Some jerk got it into his head to pay for me to come to this school and be bullied and kicked around by other boys. I am a loser with no hope, no future, and to add insult to injury I cry like a baby at the drop of a hat,” Liam finally took a breath and continued. 
“The only thing I am really good at is maths and science. It’s as though the universe speaks to me, guides me if you will. So when I space out, I’m really just seeing if the universe won’t guide me to a place where I am the hero, you know where I get to live happily ever after.”
Both teacher and student were silent after this and just sat staring at one another. For the first time in her life, Sarah Johnson did not have an answer, so she patted him on the shoulder and motioned him toward the door. Liam bade her farewell and left. She felt ashamed of herself and knew that she was supposed to have said something more; after all she was his teacher. She shook off the feeling and started packing her things into her handbag to leave. But the things Liam had told her would haunt her dreams for many nights; it was as though the universe was now trying to tell her something.
3
With the school holidays only days away, Liam was quite impressed with the way he had avoided the tobacco gang, as he had started referring to them when he learnt that they had started smoking behind the boys’ bathroom. It helped, of course, that he had never been far from David at any given moment in the day. His visits with Professor Smith, or Prescott, as he had insisted Liam call him by his first name, had become a weekly event. Liam didn’t mind calling him Prescott, Prescott was just another name after all.
Today would be his last visit with Prescott, and he had written down fifty questions in his notebook with which he wanted Prescott’s help. As he turned the corner and walked in under the shade of the large Jacaranda trees that lined this side of the street, the tobacco gang leapt from behind one of them. He noticed that John was missing and instinctively knew that he was already behind him. Something told him that today he would pay for all the days that they had been unable to get at him. 
John grabbed him from behind and the rest of the tobacco gang laid into him with their fists. For the first time Liam did not cry while they beat him and noticed that this made it worse, it was as though the tobacco gang needed him to cry. They beat him until he was unconscious, then let him fall to the ground, John kicked him twice more with two well aimed kicks at his chest. When they saw that he wasn’t moving they ran down the street, trying to get away from what they had just done.
Two blocks away they ran into an old abandoned house that they had made their secret hideout, and didn’t stop until they were well inside. 
“I think we killed him, John,” Steve said out of breath as he was standing with his hands on his knees next to John. 
“I know, I think we should just head back to the dormitory and pretend as though nothing had happened. We will be each other’s alibis.” With that, he bolted through the back door to where their bicycles were standing. Each of them grabbed a bike and headed back toward school.
Liam slowly opened his eyes and saw that everything was white; his first thought was that he had died. But then the pain came and he knew that it was too much to ask for. He blinked twice and then saw Mrs. Johnson’s face appear from his blurred vision. He cracked his lips to say something, but Mrs. Johnson placed a finger over his mouth and told him to be quiet. Another face appeared next to hers, it was Prescott, 
“Hey buddy, how you feeling? Lousy from the looks of you,” Prescott Smith forced a smile. A man in a white coat entered the room, and Liam supposed that he was the doctor. He whispered something to Mrs. Johnson, who then stood up and followed him out into the hallway.
The hallway was brightly lit by the overhead fluorescent lights and the look it highlighted on the doctor’s face sent her into an immediate panic. The doctor noticed the worry and said, 
“It’s not what you think. Sorry if I scared you. This boy, is he family?” Mrs. Johnson shook her head, unconvinced by the doctor’s soothing tone. 
“Does he have family?” Again she shook her head and said, 
“I am his teacher. He is an orphan, so it will be okay to speak to me. Is he going to be okay?” the doctor peered past her into the room and started whispering, 
“The boy is remarkable, when he was brought into the emergency room his injuries were dire and we let him be. You see in cases where there is little one can do. We usually inject the patient with morphine and let them…,” he trailed off and lifted his head skyward. 
“You mean he was dying?” Mrs. Johnson asked shocked. The doctor nodded and opened the file he had been holding. 
“According to this, he had a ruptured spleen, a collapsed lung, no brain response and was bleeding internally. There was nothing we could have done for him. An hour later though, he was still alive when one of the ER nurses went to check on him. What she found was astonishing, his breathing was normal; his lung was no longer collapsed. We have been running tests since then and, well the thing is, at the rate he’s recovering, he will be back to normal by tonight. We’re running more tests and would like to keep him for forty eight hours, just for observation.” She agreed and watched as the doctor rushed off down the passage again.
She could not believe her ears, but some of what the doctor had told her seemed possible. When Prescott had first called her, he had told her that Liam looked really bad, but when she had reached the hospital, Liam looked no worse than someone that had taken a nasty spill off of his bicycle. And when he had just opened his eyes, he actually seemed better. By the time she re-entered the room, Liam and Prescott were actually having a lively debate. The boy had had a miraculous recovery in front of their eyes. She walked over to Prescott and told him that she needed to talk to him. Liam watched with puzzlement as they left his room.
Back in the bright passage, it was Prescott’s turn to look astonished as she relayed the doctor’s tale. But he too knew that it was true, the boy had been comatose not more than half an hour ago. 
Meanwhile back in the room Liam felt no more pain and figured that it probably had something to do with the drip they had put into his left arm. He hoped that they would keep him doped up; he did not want to feel that initial pain again. The truth, however, was far from what he thought. The truth was that Liam was practically healed.
David popped in to see Liam every day after school. He knew who had done this to him, even though Liam refused to say. Every day before leaving David would produce a half melted Lunch Bar from his pants pocket and give it to his friend. The chocolate was the highlight of his day, as he did not like hospital food. 
Liam was released two days later, fully recovered from his ordeal. As it was the last day of school, Mrs. Harris, his social worker was there to pick him up from the hospital. Mrs. Johnson and Prescott were also there to say their goodbyes. 
“I guess those boys don’t hit as hard as I always imagined. I suppose it helped that I didn’t cry,” he whispered into Mrs. Johnson’s ear as he hugged her. She just smiled and said, 
“Good thing too, we need more scientists.” The words felt awkward, but she did not know what else to say. 
“Well so long Liam, see you after the school holidays,” Prescott said taking Liam by the hand and shaking it. “Oh, one more thing, you mentioned that you had lost your copy in the attack, so here’s another one,” Prescott said, handing him another copy of Richard M. Weiner’s book. He had not told anybody exactly who the attackers had been, except for Mrs. Johnson, who had sworn to keep his secret and for some strange reason she felt compelled to keep the promise she had made him. The other secret, she and Prescott would keep together, only talking about the remarkable boy between themselves. 
4
They drove through the city in her beat up Ford Sierra, which was ancient, but Liam liked the car. It reminded him of a shark gliding through the deepest, ocean with its belly on the seabed. He was glad to be going back to the orphanage as he would have the whole winter holiday away from school. There would be just enough time to catch up on his reading. He watched as the trees and buildings glided by, they hypnotised him and, before they had gone four blocks Liam was sound asleep in the passenger seat of Mrs. Harris’s beat up Sierra.
The Shining Sun Orphanage lay between Brits and Rustenburg in the shadows of the Magaliesberg mountains. It was more than an hour’s drive to get there from Pretoria and Liam was well rested when they pulled up through the gates, guarded by the four giant eucalyptus trees. They pulled up to the main house which was built in the fashion of the early Cape Dutch architecture. They neared the H-shaped house and Liam felt a pang of despair as he saw that the high round ornately rounded gables and fading grey walls, were but a shadow of its former glory. The thatched roof had long since given way to a mixture of zinc and plastic corrugated sheeting. The large wooden door that used to be a welcoming site to all returning orphans, was also in need of repair. The Shining Sun Orphanage had lost its government grants fifteen years ago and was now dependant on the good graces of the public, so it seemed there was just never enough money to go around.
Liam opened the door and stepped out of the car and entered the house through the big door. He immediately heard the little children playing and laughing outside, shrieking with delight. The air was brisk and cool and he could feel the winter creeping into the house from all corners. He wondered if they would be able to keep warm this year. Considering all this, Liam was glad to be home. He walked along the western passage to the room he had occupied for the last fourteen years. Many couples had been down to see him but none had ever adopted him. He was too old now; he knew that to be true and had resigned himself to the fact that he would be a ward of the state for the next four years.
The door creaked on its hinges as Liam pushed it open and entered his tiny room. Everything was just as he had left it, the bed standing in the middle of the room with a single bedside table holding a lamp for reading. Opposite the bed next to the window was a chest of drawers in which he kept his clothes, which reminded him that he would still have to retrieve his battered suitcases from the car and unpack. He looked up at the only picture he had on his wall. It was the famous picture of Albert Einstein, sticking out his tongue at the paparazzi that he had torn out of a magazine he had once picked up at a bus stop.
He was just about to lie down on his bed when there was a loud knock at his door. “Probably Mrs. Harris, wanting me to fetch my suitcases,” he said to the empty room while walking toward the door. He opened the door and was surprised to see, not Mrs. Harris, but a freakishly big man with a scar running down the left side of his face. He was taken aback and at a loss for words, but then the man spoke up; 
“I am Cronos, son of Jiel,” the man held out his massive hand. Liam took it and felt as though his hand was being crushed under a bus. When Cronos left his hand, Liam felt a throbbing pain and was sure that every bone in his hand had been broken. 
“Can I help you?” Liam asked still shaking his hand up and down. 
“May I come in? I have come on an urgent matter that is for your ears only.” Liam stepped aside and let the stranger enter his room. There was something oddly familiar about this man, yet he was unable to put his finger on it.
Cronos bent his massive frame to fit in through the door. Once inside he closed the door behind him, and cleared his throat. Liam could see that this man was nervous and could not imagine what a man of his size would have to be nervous about. 
“That was a strange introduction, is your surname Sonofjiel? It’s quite strange, not as strange as mine, but strange nonetheless,” Liam said trying to lighten the mood. 
“Ah, no, my mother is Jiel. You see I am her son,” Cronos said, hardly getting a word out. “I must apologise, I am not accustomed to addressing one such as you in such a straightforward manner, but this situation demands it,” he continued. Cronos was trying to find words, any words that would help him explain to Liam who he truly was.
The chest of drawers shook as Cronos walked around the room, pretending to look around, Liam watching in agitated anticipation. Finally Cronos spoke up, 
“I knew your mother, Liam. You were my last promise to her.” 
“Are you my father?” Liam half screamed at him, surprised at his sudden outburst and maybe a glimmer of hope. Liam was stunned to see that this man was actually startled at his raised voice and he could feel the panic rise up in him like a snake readying to attack. 
“Oh no, no, heavens no, my Lord… I mean Liam. No, I am but a guide of sorts and a protector of sorts. You see, you have a long journey to travel and I promised your dear mother that I would help you.” Liam noticed how cramped the room had become with the two of them inside; Cronos’ large presence filled the room like an unwelcome hornet inside a bee’s nest. 
“I think we should go outside. Perhaps you’ll feel more comfortable there,” Liam said opening the door and leading Cronos out the back door into the yard outside.
The last leaves had finally fallen from the trees and the little children were throwing the leaves at each other, Liam felt as the universe whispered in his ear. The wind blew through them as they walked to the back of the garden, and Liam heard the wind say, “just as the seasons change, so today your life will change.” 
“Hey, did you hear that? It sounded like the wind was talking,” Liam said jerking his head from side to side to see if he could hear it again. 
“The wind is our messenger, she’s our cellular network to use a term you might understand and what she had to say was for your ears only. So no, I didn’t hear anything.”
They came to stop under the leafless thorn tree that had been there for as long as Liam could remember. Cronos sat down with his back resting against the trunk. 
“Why did you say ‘my Lord’ to me?” Liam asked the question that had been nagging at him since Cronos had said it. 
“There will be time for stories later young Liam. For now what you need to know is that you and I embark on a great journey today. So please, no more questions for now. Sit beside me I must meditate now. I have not done this in a long time and will have to concentrate quite hard.” Liam was puzzled and a little angry, but did as the stranger had asked. Liam would humour this man just long enough to find out about his parents. He sat down next to him and closed his eyes. 
“This is ridiculous,” he thought and opened his eyes he was shocked to see that the morning had turned to night. Cronos was still next to him, eyes closed. He was about to speak up when Cronos’ eyes flew open and the massive man leapt to his feet.
“Come we must leave now,” Cronos bellowed and walked toward the house. 
“Hey mister, I don’t know which mad house you escaped from, but I’m sure they’re looking for you,” he was running to catch up now. The night had really crept up on them. Liam felt as though he had just blinked, yet it seemed as though they had been asleep for hours. 
“No, seriously, you need permission to take me from this place; you know official permission from the government.” 
“There will be no need for such things. As far as these people are concerned, you have never been here. Now come, we must hurry,” Cronos said over his shoulder leaving through the back, door bent over like before.
Liam ran in after him and saw Mrs. Harris and the other children sitting at the tables having supper. He ran over to her, and before he could say anything she looked up and he could see in her eyes that she did not recognise him. 
“Are you lost, boy?” Mrs. Harris asked.
“Mrs. Harris, it’s me Liam Anadfonos. I live here; I have been living here for fourteen years,” Liam tried to explain, baffled at her reaction. 
“You’re mistaken boy, either you leave now or I will call the police.” Mrs. Harris stood up from her chair and took a threatening step toward Liam.  Liam could see that the other children were getting agitated and that they really did not recognise him. 
“Uh, yes, I think I must be lost, sorry,” he said and raced after Cronos, out of the front door and followed him into the darkness. 
“Strange young man, imagine being lost out here?” The other children nodded and they all returned to their supper, not giving Liam another thought.
Racing into the night, Liam’s mind was ablaze. He always understood and could explain everything, but not this. He saw Cronos’s bulky outline in the darkness and ran a little harder to catch up.
“Hey, what have you done to them?” Liam shouted as he got closer.
“They’ll be fine, now follow me,” Cronos shouted back at him. Cronos had cast an omit spell on them, a spell that Liam would come to use more and more often once he had learnt how to.
5
The air whooshed from Liam’s lungs at the sight of the sun’s first rays of gold and orange peeking over the mountain top. He had never seen such a beautiful sight in his life. Cronos had led him into the mountains in the darkness and they had been walking for what seemed to be an eternity. In all this time he and Cronos had not said more than ten words to one another. His tired body felt as though it was running on autopilot and he needed to rest badly, but as long as Cronos was moving he had to keep up. He didn’t want to be lost in this wilderness alone. 
He wondered where they were going and opened his mouth to ask, but closed it again. To him, a more appropriate question would be why he was following a man he did not know. Wasn’t this how killers abducted and killed their victims? He shook his head vigorously and decided that he was just tired and that his imagination was probably playing tricks on him.
Upon crossing a crest about three hundred yards from the summit, Liam was astonished to see a baobab tree. He knew that these trees were not indigenous to this area. The baobab stood majestically against a vertical wall that led to the summit. The tree looked as though it were at least a thousand years old.
 Cronos led him to the tree and walked around to the side closest to the wall face. Liam followed and saw that the trunk was hollowed out on this side. There was enough room for Cronos himself to walk in and stand upright inside. The two of them entered the tree and Cronos removed a satchel that he had been carrying from his shoulder. From within he removed two blankets, handing one to Liam. 
“We need to rest now, when we awaken I will tell you some stories, my Lord,” Cronos said. There it was again, but Liam was too tired to ask and took the blanket from Cronos. He unfolded the blanket near the entrance to the tree and was asleep the moment he lay down.
Liam awoke to see that it had become night again. He looked over at the empty blanket and wondered where Cronos had gone to, when he heard voices coming from outside. He stood up and walked outside to find Cronos perched on a rock talking to himself as there was no-one else he could see. 
“Ah, the young King is awake,” a voice said from behind Liam. He let out a cry and reached the rock where Cronos was seated in a single bound. 
“Who said that?” Liam asked looking from side to side. Cronos started laughing and before long the voice was laughing with him. Liam was still frantically looking around to find the source of the voice, when Cronos came to stand next to him. 
“My Lord meet Tree,” Cronos said wiping tears from his eyes. Liam slowly turned around and looked up at the tree; he was startled to see two big eyes staring right back at him. He let out another cry and barely stopped himself from running back down the mountain.
“What is that?” Liam asked Cronos, not taking his eyes off of the tree. 
“That is Tree; I can’t pronounce his real name so I call him Tree.” 
“Pleased to meet you your Majesty, I have been waiting for your arrival ever since your departure,” the tree said. Liam now saw that the opening in the trunk was actually its mouth. He shuddered, realising that they had probably slept in its mouth. Cronos had built a fire and the full moon overhead illuminated the area, so that Liam could see the tree clearly. 
“I have built us a campfire, my Lord. Please sit, it is time for stories,” Cronos said, sitting back down on the rock on which he had been perched before.
Liam sat down next to the fire, not once taking his eyes off the talking baobab.
 “Tree will tell the tale of the two brothers and then I will tell the tale of the lost King. You must first listen to these stories my Lord and then you may ask questions,” Cronos said. 
“Yes, but…,” Liam began, but Cronos stopped him with a raised hand and put his forefinger to his lips. 
“You may begin Tree,” Cronos said.

6
“Ah, how do these stories begin? I believe it should go something like this; Once upon a time, there were two brothers, sons of a King, identical twins. Princes of the all they surveyed. Yet they disliked each other and neither could stand the other. Each day they would do great deeds to impress their father, the King; for they knew that their father could not decide which one should be King when he died. As they had been born but mere moments apart and due to a twist in fate the midwife could not remember which had been first,” Tree paused and looked to see if Liam was still listening. Seeing that the boy was enthralled by his tale, he then continued. 

“He watched his sons closely and saw that his son, William, was strong and clever and that he helped the people of the land with his strength, cunning and ingenuity. He also saw that his son Henry was wise and where he lacked in strength he had learnt to master magic and the elements to help the people of the land. One day, while watching William build a waterwheel from wood to drive the milling wheel for the grain, he saw that Henry was using a magic staff to make a grinding wheel work on its own. Now in this time each son had achieved a massive following, each of the followers believing their prince’s way to be best.” Tree paused again and took a breath.
“Well go on,” Liam commanded, completely immersed in the story. 
“Well that is when the King came upon an idea. The great King summoned his grand wizard and told him to create another world, identical to this one and to take all the magical creatures and all the magical rocks and plants and all that believed in this way of doing things to that Realm. The wizard laboured for years and was finally done just before the King’s death.” 
“On his death bed the King summoned his sons and the wizard to his bedside. He then gave the Realm of magic to his son Henry and the Realm of technology, this world, to his son William. To the old wizard he awarded riches beyond his wildest dreams, but also tasked him to look after and be the protector of the magic Realm, his son and his descendants. The King’s sons were happy with their father’s wisdom and upon his death, each son ruled his Kingdom. 
After entering through the door in to the magic Realm the wizard sealed the door. He became the first Glandauan Protector. Then just before his death, he handed down the secret of the door, by word of mouth, to his successor.”
“So you see, no one was ever to go through the door again. I was the only magical being left behind. I am the protector of the door in this Realm. My job has been easy until now, for you see the technological Realm’s people have forgotten that magic truly exists as it has been hidden from them. And, as such, the magical Realm does not know that science exists as it has been hidden from them. That is why you were able to hide here from the Shadow King in this Realm. The door does not only guard the barrier between the two Realms, but also protects each world from the other. So as you can see your highness, I cannot help you go through the door, but I can show you the way,” and with that Tree moved its massive bulk away from the wall to reveal an opening to a cave. 
“On the other side of this cave here is another, the duplicate world your ancestors lived in and ruled,” the tree finished.
“Now, my turn, my Lord, my tale begins on the night that the shadow King entered the gates to your palace. It had been a fierce battle, but the shadow King had found a way to increase his powers tenfold. Once they had breached the gates, I was summoned to the royal chamber where your mother, my queen, was waiting. She told me that she had placed you on a ship with my old comrade in arms, Mythos. I was to retrieve you at Cabbey’s Cove and take you to the great wizard Motlock…” Cronos continued his story and told Liam how he had come to this Realm. 
“I then placed you in the care of Mrs. Harris and watched over you from that day. I cast a spell over you so that no one would adopt you and that you could be returned when the time came. However your intelligence was drawing plenty of attention, so I had to have you placed in that horrible school, so that no one would see how special you were. And now, my King, we must go back and free your people,” Cronos finished and took a deep breath.
7
All three were silent for a time before Liam asked in a low whisper, 
“Who am I?” 
“You my Lord are Liam, son of Dana. You see I had to give you a surname, as it is expected in this Realm, so I turned your bloodline name around and came to Anadfonos,” Cronos smiled quite pleased with himself for his ingenuity. 
“You put me in an orphanage, gave me a Greek sounding surname, put me in a school where I nearly got killed and kidnapped me from all I thought to be real. Now you sit there, smirking like the village idiot. I should have Tree here stomp all over you,” Liam blurted. He had never known that he would ever stand up to anyone, let alone a giant like Cronos, but he was confused and couldn’t fathom the depths he had just been cast into. The massive man looked hurt at Liam’s outburst and mumbled something incoherent. “Oh, speak up Cronos, how did you think I would act,” Liam shouted at him again, unsure of where his sudden bravery had come from. 
“I said that I was sorry. I am a soldier not a babysitter. How was I to know that the son of Kings would grow up to be a cry baby,” Cronos was sorry the moment the words had crossed his lips. He tried to say something, but Liam just turned his back on them and sauntered into the darkness of the night.
“Oh, well done,” he heard Tree say to Cronos as he left
Upon his return the fire had burnt down to its last embers and Cronos was still sitting on his rock, head down. 
“Cronos I …,” Liam began, but the big man interrupted him. 
“My Lord, I am eternally sorry. When we return to Iyatula, I will fall upon my own blade to wash away my disrespect of you.” He had stood up from the rock and had fallen to his knees, bowing to the boy who would be King. 
“Stand up Cronos, I am the one that should be sorry, you only protected me according to my mother’s wish. The thing is, I am not the King, I am not the saviour of your Realm,” Liam said, plunking down into the dust next to the fire. Both man and boy stayed like that until dawn once again broke over the mountains.
Finally Tree broke the silence, 
“Both of you have much to learn. You must cross over and become what your destiny has planned. There are no accidents, only fate and your destinies have been intertwined since long before you were born. Now get up and go.” Both Cronos and Liam looked up at Tree and then at each other. 
“You are right, Tree. If all of this is true, then I have a purpose, no a duty,” Liam said, turning to Cronos before continuing, “I have always wanted to be a knight. Cronos, my protector, join me and we will be knights of Iyatula together, and together we will save our people.” Cronos’s face cracked into a smile, 
“My King it will be my greatest honour. Now, how do we get through this door?” He asked turning to Tree. 
“Therein lies the conundrum, son of Jiel. What did Motlock say?” 
“He said to use the boy, but he did not say how,” Cronos answered.
“Wait,” tree said, lifting two of his main branches into the air and looking like a man trying to show off his muscles. A thunderous crack sounded from one of his branches. From inside the branch a bright blue light shone, brighter than the emerging sun. Tree shook the branch and a staff fell to the ground. It was made out of a dark, almost black wood and at its tip was a blue gem, the source of the bright light. 
“This must be the key, it came out after you, and I have kept it hidden ever since.” Liam bent down and picked up the staff. He knew that he had to hit the wall inside the cave and that there was an incantation that went with this. For the strangest reason, he knew these things and stranger still, he knew the incantation. He would later learn that the great wizard had used a forget-me-not spell on him, so that he would remember what to do when the time came.
 Liam stepped forward, chanting and struck the wall. At first a small crack appeared where the staff had hit the wall, just as it had with Motlock, but unlike the great wizard, Liam was still strong and it was less of a strain to him. Then the vortex grew bigger and bigger until a fire rimmed doorway appeared. Inside the orange glowing doorway was a vortex that spun and gave off blue electric sparks that jumped out of the door and frizzled to extinction on the cave floor. All of this was very familiar to Cronos. He took Liam by the hand and they entered the vortex.
Tree moved his bulky body back and covered the cave once more before closing his eyes to await the return of the boy who would be King.


© Copyright 2019 PJL Dawson. All rights reserved.

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