I feel the dangerous commotion before I even open my eyes. Buildings tumble down and waves crash upon the crumbling marble. Am I really in the midst of all of this chaos? I open my eyes and realize that I am in danger. The marble roads all around me are sinking and being overtaken by water. What do I do? I look around me, sensing the panic in the people who rush past me, carrying as many of their belongings as they can. Animals stampede past me—and not just horses mind you, but elephants, tigers, and bears—trying desperately to find higher ground to avoid dying in this sinking city. I look to my right and see a young boy crying as the water pools around his feet. Immediately, I go over and pick the boy up, carrying him with me as I run. A woman comes by yelling at me in a foreign tongue, grasping the boy and ripping him from the safety of my arms. She cradles him as she runs with her other small children straight into an unstable hut which collapses seconds later. I gasp, but know there is nothing I can do if I want to live. I run, jumping stairs and climbing to a high courtyard of a large building. What place is this? I feel as if I have been here before. I run inside, sprinting down the stairs and through doorways as if my body is making decisions on location without my mind's opinion. I gasp as I enter through three metal doors right after each other and enter a room that shimmers like gold all around the air. In the center of the room on a pedestal sits a glowing orb, much like the one in Arkarian's chamber, though smaller. It's then I realize where I am and what I'm doing. And this makes me try to wake up. My dream continues though, making me grab the orb to the future. I scream as the bomb begins to count down to detonation. I call out Arkarian's name, but nothing happens. I call it out again, but still nothing. Eventually I crouch down on the floor and look into the orb. I see Arkarian standing in front of a giant house. The house is overtaken by darkness just as he runs through the doors. I let out a scream as the darkness overtakes the vision and I am pulled into nothingness, my ears shattered by the explosion.
Chapter 1: Isabel
Then I wake up, Matt staring at me with worry in his eyes. Neriah clings to his arm tightly, her worry also clearly apparent. Apparently she must have slept over tonight.
"Isabel, are you ok?" Matt asks quietly so as to not wake our mother. He knows she is to know nothing of the guard because she is not one of us.
"Yeah," I breathe, "I…I…" I get out of bed, pulling on a jacket and heading out the door.
"Where are you going?" Matt asks hurrying after me, though I am sure he already knows exactly where I am going.
"Arkarian," is all I say as I dart out the front door and up the mountain to Arkarian's secret entrance. I stand outside in the cold, shivering and projecting my thoughts into the mountainside. Arkarian, if you're there, I need you. Please!
The door opens and a disheveled Arkarian meets me right after the secret entrance. He catches me in an embrace.
"Slow down, what's the matter?" He asks as I shiver against his chest. I wrap my arms around him and try to comfort myself. His skill of comfort drives straight into my core, making me calmer. I step back, making sure to till have contact with his soothing touch.
"I had a vision, Arkarian," I tuck some of my flyway hairs behind my ears as my sleep disruption has taken quite a toll on my appearance. Arkarian himself has a mess of a head of hair and as I notice now, only pajama pants on. I woke him up entirely.
"It's all right," He says dismissing my thoughts, "Show me your vision. Recall every detail for me." I do so, my body shaking with the feeling of loss. Arkarian's arms wrap around me tighter. My vision has shaken even him.
"What do we do, Arkarian?" I ask in a small voice. He runs his hand up and down my back in an attempt to reassure me, or maybe himself, "What does it all mean?"
He pulls back a bit from our embrace so he can look into my eyes, "The orb part was the sinking of Atlantis. It was the mission where Ethan, Matt and Rochelle traveled back in time to the sinking of the great city to make sure the orb of the future went down with the rest of the city." He pauses and I gently squeeze his hand to encourage him to continue.
"My concern is that the orb may still exist somewhere. That perhaps it did not sink, and maybe it has fallen into the wrong hands. This would be a terrible disadvantage for the Guard." Again he pauses.
"But who could have it? Lathenia is dead and the Order has lost Marduke, their only other capable leader. Who else still exists to give them any power?" I ask, puzzled.
"There are others. Those still dedicated to the cause. They still exist, Isabel. They linger in the mortal world, growing more powerful by the day. It has been a year since the final battle. They would have regrouped by now. I had hoped that they would not find the cause worthwhile without their goddess, but it seems my hopes were incorrect. I have been waiting for some sign to tell us the truth." He runs his hand over his disheveled hair, self consciously. I smile, realizing how in love with him I am.
"Can I stay here, just for tonight?" I ask him with the most adorable look I can muster at this late hour. He rolls his eyes and sighs heavily, as if it would be a big burden for him. I go to whack his shoulder playfully, but with his awesome reflexes, he catches my hand and holds it in his, smiling. Then his face becomes slightly sobered, "Does Matt know you're staying?" I shrug.
"One way or another he is going to have to learn that I'm not a child anymore." I say, defiantly. Then I add with a bit of a smirk, "Besides, Neriah spent the night. I'm sure he will have no problem forgetting that I'm not at home." Arkarian smiles warmly and picks me up like a groom would pick up his bride. He carries me to a side room and sits me down on a fluffy white, though wrinkled, bed. I tug off my jacket and snuggle beneath the covers that smell of Arkarian. He has been living in these mountain chambers since the Citadel was destroyed. It always makes me sad to think of his home that he has lived in for 600 years being destroyed. But I love it that he lives here. It makes him much closer to me. Arkarian comes over to the other side and lies down, snuggling up against me. I smile. This is exactly where I want to be for the rest of my very long life.
Then I am reminded of my vision. Of the feeling of loss I had when Arkarian was overtaken by the darkness. As I look at Arkarian's peaceful sleeping face, I make a promise to myself that I will let no harm ever come to him while I have a means to change things. His eye opens a slit, the purple iris focusing straight onto my brown eyes and I know he has heard my silent pledge. His forehead creases with a sympathetic look.
A tear escapes my eye, dripping down my nose. He kisses is away, resting his forehead against mine.
"Nothing is going to happen, Isa. We can change things. We have done it before." I smile, a bit comforted and lay my head against Arkarian's chest, drifting off into a deep sleep.
Chapter 2: Arkarian
Hiding my worry from Isabel is becoming harder. The others look to me to be a calm guide, to give hope in the face of peril. But right now I am shaken to my core by Isabel's intense vision. She is getting ready for school now, tugging on her uniform as I go to a room resembling a kitchen and find two chocolate chip muffins and milk. I place them onto the table as she comes in. I look up, hearing her jumble of thoughts bouncing around her head. Her worries are difficult to hide from me when she's very worked up. She offers me a brave smile and sits, devouring the muffin and draining the cup of milk. I grin and chuckle lightly.
"I guess you like the muffin." I say, lightly. She smiles, though it falls again quickly.
"Maybe I should stay here. I could skip school easy—" she begins.
"You have to go. And I will be fine Isabel. I promise you." I say, taking a bite of muffin.
"Well what are you going to do all day?" she asks, focusing on her fingertips.
"I have to tell Dartemis about your vision. I also should discuss it with Matt and Neriah." I smile and grasp her hand, drawing her eyes back to mine, "I will come to meet you after school, outside of the gates. I will be alright." I place her hand on my cheek, covering it with my own, "Trust me."
Her eyes well up with tears, but she nods, smiling through them, "Of course I do."
I nod, "Go ahead. Besides, Matt would really kill me if I let you skip school."
She smirks and stands up, kissing my cheek and walking out. I open the secret door way, letting her pass and then seal it again. I sigh, rising from the table, waving away the cups with a flick of my hand. They dematerialize and I walk back into the bedroom, pulling new clothes out of the drawer. I change into a black T-shirt and faded blue jeans. I run a comb through my hair, which Isabel cut a few months ago. It's now a short shaggy length. And I like it.
Then I walk to the sphere room, dematerializing to the Temple. The Temple is a building being created in the place of the Citadel. It, too, floats above the earth, though invisible to mortal eyes. The construction on it has not yet been completed.
Matt and Neriah and Dartemis all greet me, as I have already informed them of this urgent meeting. Some of the Tribunal members are also here. We all sit at a long table, Dartemis and Matt at the head of the table.
"So what are we going to do?" I ask Dartemis, dodging death glances from Matt for letting Isabel sleep over.
"Well, the details of Isabel's dreams are sketchy. We do not know what all of these events will lead up to. It obviously deals with the Orb of the Future." His golden eyes flick to me, "And it also has something to do with Arkarian's future. We will have to wait to find out all the details. Perhaps Isabel will have another more clarified vision, but in the meantime, we will work to find out all the information we can. Matt and Neriah, I think it best if you spent some time with me, helping in the search."
The two of them nod, but I can't help feeling nervous. Why are we simply waiting? What if the vision is going to come about soon? I can't stop myself; I stand up, slamming my palms on the table in frustration
"So that's all we're going to do?" I can't help but yell.
Dartemis looks over at me with a calm face. I'm not intimidating to any immortal it seems. He lets out a sigh which only fuels my frustration.
"Arkarian I know how aggravated this whole ordeal must make you, but what do you want me to do? We do not have enough details to launch a mission and we know none of the remaining members of the Order.
"The only thing to do is to wait, nephew, for in waiting the message shall become clear." His eyes glint with his superior intelligence. I sigh, composing myself, for I find Matt and Neriah are looking at me as if I have grown two heads. They are used to my calm behavior and sometimes it is a tough image to own up to.
I give a tight nod, and then dematerialize back to the mountain. Matt follows me.
"Arkarian," he says as I start to walk back to a bathroom to change my appearance so I can pick Isabel up, "Arkarian!" he grabs my arm, and I whirl around to face him.
"What?" I say in an irritated voice I almost don't recognize as my own.
"We're going to figure it out, you know. We will." He says, "I've never seen you look as hopeless as you did in that meeting. Are you ok?"
I put back on my face of indifference, working hard at keeping an unemotional tone, "I just want to know who is behind this. That is all. I'm fine."
Matt stares at me unbelievingly, his brown eyes assessing me for any hint of weakness. I will not show it, however. For in my 600 years of training I have proven strong.
Then as if remembering something, his eyes go wide and then a frown forms between his brows, "Was Isabel here last night?" He asks, his voice taking on a crisp tone.
"Yes, Matt. She slept here. Her vision stirred her so I let her stay with me." I say, exasperated that he hasn't learned to trust in Isabel's relationship with me.
His eyes search my face for a long time, "All right." I all he says. The surprise is clear on my face, I can't hide it. Matt smirks, I know he still doesn't like it, but maybe he is finally starting to accept things as they are.
"Say 'hello' to Isabel for me, when you go pick her up. Tell her that Neriah and I will be gone for a while." He says. I nod and he dematerializes.
I look to the clock, 2:00 pm. School lets out at 2:30. I need to disguise myself yet. I pick up a bottle of jet black hair dye that Isabel got me, tugging my shirt off so I don't get any on it, then squirting the black jell into my blue hair. After a little while, it's all black. I wash out the rest and look into the mirror, putting in green contacts. I dry my hair with a towel, pulling my shirt back over my head. I walk out, all the way down the mountain, and into the town.
Chapter 3: Isabel
School today is like hell. When you lead a double life, school seems even more of a pain than to a regular kid. So I mosey on through calculus and language, and a multitude of other seemingly worthless classes right now. Final period is history, which has become my easiest class.
We are given a pop quiz. I glance down at the paper handed to me. It's on John Adams.
Name John Adam's wife.
Why of course, Abigail Adams was the girl I was sent on a mission to heal. We talked for hours about her passion for writing and her yearning to be counted part of politics, despite being a woman. I finish the quiz in the blink of an eye, being careful to get some historical inaccuracies just to be safe. I hand the test in to the teacher and sit back down. Finally the bell sounds, ending the school day.
I leap from my seat, bumping into Ethan on my way out.
"Sorry," I mumble, faking a smile.
"Where are you in such a rush to go? You'd think Arkarian were outside." He says, a smile playing on his lips.
"As a matter of fact…" I say, bursting out the door and into the arms of my awaiting boyfriend. His hair jet black and his eyes a soft green.
"Hello, Ethan." Arkarian says as he hugs me.
"Hey," Ethan says.
I run my hand through Arkarian's freshly died hair, "Black looks good." His newly contacted green eyes glance down at me, shimmering with a smile. How I've missed him.
"So, what are you guys going to do?" Ethan says, his arms crossed and the inquisitive parental look marring his face.
"We're just going out, Matt." I say, with a smirk.
"Now, now, no need to be sarcastic," Ethan says with a smile. It's good to see him smiling again. Arkarian agrees by gently squeezing my hand, "I'm going to go. Mum needs help repainting the living room. Talk to you guys later." We say bye and Ethan rushes off towards the parking lot. A group of giggling 9th graders laughs out loudly as I turn around and kiss Arkarian. I look over in their direction and they quickly make like they weren't even spying. I glare in their direction, grab Arkarian' hand, and start walking, mumbling something about immature little brats.
We walk into town, though I don't know exactly where too.
"Where are we going, Arkarian?" I ask, realizing I have been pulling him by the hand the entire way. He smiles.
"This is your world, not mine. I have no idea. What do you like to do when you aren't doing things for the guard?" Is his response.
"Oh, well I—of course I—" This is a trick question. Since when do I have time to do things? The spare time I can salvage is the time I spend with Arkarian, "We could…" I grin, an idea popping up at last, "Let's go for a bike ride!"
I grasp his hand and pull him in the other direction at a run. We zoom back to my house and into the back yard. I unlock my shed and pull out both my mountain bike and Matt's. I toss Arkarian a helmet which he studies, quite puzzled. I tug on my helmet, clipping it at the chin. He follows suite and we get ready to go.
"Hold on, we'll need water." I grab two water bottles and fill them up at the hose.
I place on my bike and one on his. He is still just staring at the bike.
"Isabel, one setback about being 600 years old, is that I don't know…certain things." He chuckles sheepishly.
"Like this," I say, smiling and hopping onto my bike, gliding twice around the yard effortlessly.
He hops on and does the same, "Quick learner." I say, laughing.
He smiles and nods his head, "It's what I am trained to do."
"Oh yeah?" I say, daringly, "Well train yourself to go on long bike ride with me." I speed off, through the gate and out onto the street. Arkarian comes up beside me, keeping pace with ease. Well what did I expect? My man's built. I laugh and keep riding.
Not really aware of where I'm going, I end up biking up through the mountain forests, weaving between trees and around boulders and over streams. Eventually, we come to a clearing. I am puzzled because we are in a deep thicket of the forest, and this clearing is out of place. Then up ahead, what I see freezes me in place. A house—the house—from my vision.
Arkarian comes up through the forest, seeing me stopped.
"What are you," he begins, cut off by the fear of our location. Snapping back into my senses, I grip his arm and pull him away. But he stays, violet eyes transfixed onto the house.
"Arkarian! We're leaving right now!" but he still stays. In fact, he takes a step towards the house.
"No!" I cling to his arm, begging like a little child, "Please! Let's go! This is exactly where—" I begin, but he still remains unmoving. I pull myself around to his front and hug him.
"Please, love, we're leaving! We'll not stay here." I'm crying by now at his sudden motionlessness.
His eyes finally come down to mine, staring at me vacantly.
"What?" he whispers.
"Let's go, Arkarian." He nods, glancing back at the house again.
"It's like something is drawing me towards it. There's a force, I feel it." He says, his voice sounding out in a spooky monotone. I pull him over towards his bike.
"Leaving," I grunt, pushing him over to his bike. This is hard mind you, for while I'm physically equipped, pushing around muscular 18 year old guys does not come easy.
Finally his gaze breaks again and he hops onto his bike, turning around to face the forest. Then, as if the scary trance had never happened, he looks over to me.
"Is everything all right?" His violet eyes are innocent and his voice, sweet.
Tears hit my eyes. This is more than I can handle. I hop onto my bike, managing a small grunt like 'yes'.
After that we make our way back to my house.
Chapter 4: Arkarian
Isabel is acting strange. We bike all the way back to the house. We must have done a good 20 mile bike ride through the mountains. Isabel never seems to slow down. I'm lucky I am in as good shape as I am; otherwise, this bike ride would have drained me completely.
When we return to the house and place the bikes in the shed, I turn to Isabel.
"What's the matter?" I ask her, holding my hand to her cheek, reddened from the wind. She takes my hand and nuzzles into it.
"You really don't remember it, do you?" she asks. I haven't the slightest idea what she's referring to so I shake my head. She opens up her thoughts and shows me a seen in a clearing with the house from her vision. She desperately tries to usher me away while I stare fixedly at the house. My thoughts are interrupted by a voice.
"Isabel?" a female voice sounds from the stares of her back porch. My thoughts are thrown into a jumble as I realize I need an explanation for my presence. Then I remember my disguise. I could simply be a friend of Isabel's from her school.
Much to my surprise, however, Isabel has already concocted an explanation much closer to the actual truth.
"Mom," she says, pulling me by the hand over to the porch, "This is A-Andy, he's a friend of Ethan's. Actually, Ethan introduced us and we hit it off from the start. We were just out for a bike ride." Her mom nods, suspiciously.
"Uh huh," she says, slowly. My heart flutters that she may not buy it, though I am astounded at Isabel's extraordinary lie, "And does Andy live around here?" she says.
"Actually, he lives in a house on the other side of town," Isabel says, cheerfully, convincingly.
She nods, this time a bit more convinced it seems, "Well if Andy likes, he can stay for dinner. We're having spaghetti." She smiles and walks back into the house.
Isabel beside me squeals and jumps onto me in celebration.
"She knows you! She knows you!" she kisses my cheek repeatedly. And I am excited too. These things I thought I would never have—a family, a home, a life—perhaps they are not too far away after all.