It was a beautiful fall day, the sun danced playfully through the changing leaves. A soft breeze lightly plucked leaves from their carefully placed location on a limb and carried them down to their final resting place upon the autumn ground. A young girl, early twenties, ran her fingers through the hair of the young man resting his head on her thighs. He barely held his eyes open as he watched the light flicker through the autumn foliage, the reddish fall sun reflected off the deep reds, oranges, vibrant yellows and greens and the subtle browns of the leaves; creating an earthy rainbow over his head. The girl stopped what she was doing and rested her arm upon his chest.
He glanced up at her, shielding his eyes from the sun, "Don't stop."
"I can't keep doing this forever." She smirked.
"Yes you can and you should continue." He playfully demanded.
"My fingers are tired dear." She was trying to resist.
He removed his hand and gave her the best puppy dog eyes he could muster and stuck out his lower lip in a pouty face.
"Pwease?!" He playfully begged.
"Ugh, you know I can't resist how adorably annoying you are." She smiled and leaned down to give him a kiss.
He arched his head back to meet her lips in a soft and delicate, yet intimate kiss. She brought her hand back up and continued to run her fingers through his hair, he laced his fingers together upon his stomach and closed his eyes to enjoy the sensation. She leaned her head back against the tree and rested in the warmth of the afternoon sun, the drone of students walking around the commons area and others playing games in the grass grew quiet in her ears as she fell off to sleep. Not long after a familiar voice dragged her from her peaceful nap.
"Aaron! Aaron?! Buddy you need to get up!" A young man expressed roughly as he approached the couple.
The one named Aaron rubbed the sleep from his eyes and sat up to gaze at the friend who had disturbed his slumber. "What do you want Paul?"
"You both need to get up and leave, head away from campus, now." Paul stated exasperated.
"What in the hell are you talking about?" Aaron stood up and dusted himself off, reaching down and helping his girlfriend up as well.
"Look I heard the Professor of Mythology, whats-his-name, talking to some people dressed in all black and they were asking about you." Paul rushed.
"Do you know what they were wanting to know?" The girl questioned.
"I didn't hear that part, just the part where they asked if he knew you."
"What do you think they could have wanted?" Aaron questioned.
"Hell if I know, but I didn't have a good feeling about them. Whatever it is they want, it can't be good." Paul ran his fingers through his shaggy hair.
"Aaron, lets get out of here, we can go to the cabin up in the hills and just ride it out for a few days." The girl pleaded with him, grabbing his hand.
"No, whatever they want they can ask. I have nothing to fear or hide." Aaron was prideful in his response.
"Aaron, I agree with Celeste. The two of you should hide for awhile, wait until they leave or this all blows over and then you can go back to normal." Paul urged with his friend.
"I am not going to hide. That is a cowards route and I am no damn coward Paul, you know that!" Aaron grumbled.
"Please Aaron, just listen to him. Just this once heed what your friend has to say and lets get out of here." Celeste grabbed Aaron's shoulders and looked him straight in the eyes, fear clearly on her face.
Aaron sighed and slumped his shoulders in defeat.
"Fine, just this once I will listen to your blabbering Paul and go hide out at the cabin for a few days." Aaron smirked at Paul and grabbed both of Celeste's hands in his.
"Thank you friend, now hurry and pack a few things before heading up." Paul pushed them both towards the dorms and away from the grassy courtyard.
Aaron and Celeste took into a full run and giving a quick kiss to one another headed up separate steps to go pack a few things. "Meet you back down here in 15 minutes!" Aaron shouted after her.
He saw a quick thumbs up shoot out of the girls dorm as he headed inside. Paul let out a deep sigh when he saw them disappear into the dorms and waited by the tree, looking out for the men dressed in black. A short time later, both Aaron and Celeste were leaving the dorms, each with a bag packed with clothes and supplies among other things for their time spent away from campus. Paul joined them both and they rushed into the hills away from the university and off into the woods, hopefully safe from the people looking for Aaron and a time of safety and rest from college life. After the campus disappeared completely from view and the only sounds now were those of the woods surrounding them, the three slowed down their pace to catch their breath. Every so often Paul would look back and check to see if anyone was following them, nothing caught his sight which gave him temporary relief until he got the feeling to check again.
"Quit worrying so much Paul, we are going to be fine." Aaron chided.
"I am glad one of us feels comfortable about all of this, cause I surely don't." Celeste replied.
"Sometimes I am amazed by your ease of response and your lackadaisical attitude towards everything." Paul added.
"Learn to roll with the punches Paul and just accept what comes your way. Whatever happens happens and we have no control over that."
"I completely disagree! There is a degree to what control we do have over our lives, now we may not have control over every little thing but there are quite a few details of our lives that the choice is entirely up to us." Paul rebutted.
"What classes to choose, what to eat for lunch, who to date, when to wake and sleep, whether or not to run from some mysterious guys looking for you."
"Alright, i concede, you win this round." Aaron through his hands up in defeat as he continued his trek through the woods.
"Will you two ever get along and have a normal conversation?"
"That was just simple banter between two brothers, no harm done there." Aaron glanced back and looked at Celeste, smiling.
"Whatever." She huffed.
The last bit of their trek was traveled in silence, soon they broke through the outer edge of trees protecting the cabin from view. The area was quiet and it appeared as though no one was here. "Good it doesn't look like anyone has been here in awhile." Paul declared as he approached one of the cabin windows.
"No one but us since the last time it would seem." Aaron stated, noticing a beer bottle laying at the edge of the front porch.
"That bodes well for us." Paul grinned.
Celeste pulled the key from under the front mat and unlocked the front door. The hinges creaked like normal as the door was opened wide. All three carefully entered in and looked around, looking for any signs that maybe someone was here. Finding the entire establishment empty, they unloaded their things. Paul got a fire started in the fireplace while the other two unpacked. Celeste came out into the front room first and began to clean up a bit, wiping off dirt and replacing chairs. Aaron checked the pipes and faucets to make sure they still had running water, which they did. He joined Paul in the living room and hunkered down with him by the fireplace. Aaron handed him a beer and proceeded to take a deep swing from his own opened bottle.
"Are you guys getting hungry?" Celeste asked from the sink where she was washing up dishes to use.
"You read my mind babe." Aaron looked over his shoulder and winked.
"Well then catch us something to eat." She replied smirking.
"Fine." Aaron pushed up from his seat and went outside to garner some grub.
"I think you will whip him into a decent member of society yet." Paul complemented.
"You are too kind Paul, I don't know if even I can calm that temper or wrangle him into an effective member of society." she shrugged.
"We shall see about that." He smiled.
Moments later Aaron came back in with some wild pheasant. "How did you manage to catch us dinner so quickly?" Paul was confused.
"I traveled into the woods on the other side of the cabin and startled these two into a couple of our traps we had set last time we were here." Aaron smiled proudly.
"Well I am not going to argue with that. Will you get them ready to cook?" Celeste asked.
"Anything for you m'lady." Aaron bowed low smirking.
"Your sarcasm is stifling." Celeste chided.
Aaron and Paul both laughed. Aaron set the birds on the counter and grabbed a knife to clean the birds before seasoning and cooking. Celeste placed a pot of water over the fire to heat it to a boil. Paul slowly settled off to sleep as Aaron and Celeste worked on dinner. In his dreams, terror and death was on the way, trials and temptations would emerge and the true image of friends hearts would be revealed. Paul awoke with shock and fear on his face as he gazed up into the eyes of his closest friend trying to rouse him from his slumber. "Paul, wake up dude!"
"Huh, what?" Confusion and fright in his voice.
"You were crying out and mumbling in your sleep, is everything alright?" Aaron was clearly concerned.
"Sorry I was in the midst of a nightmare." his shaken reply
"We noticed." Celeste commented from the kitchen, finishing up preparing the meal.
"What was it about?" Aaron asked.
"I can't really say, it was all a jumble of images and routes. Almost like I was watching a story flashing before my eyes, all these different possibilities coming before my mind. But they all were about death and tragedy, betrayal and heartbreak. It was horrible Aaron, truly terrifying." Paul grabbed his beer from the floor and downed the last few swigs.
"I am sorry man, that sounds terrifying." Aaron consoled.
"Anything we can do?" Celeste asked, setting the last few bits of dinner on the table.
"Thanks for the help but really I don't think there is anything that can be done. Just nightmares that is all." Paul eased their minds and forced a smile.
"Alright brother, well lets eat shall we?" Aaron offered a hand to help Paul.
Paul kindly took the outstretched hand and joined Celeste at the dinner table. Even through dinner's casual conversation, Paul could not shake the images that flashed before his mind in his sleep. Something terrible was about to happen and he didn't know what and it frustrated him. He needed to get back to campus and sort everything out. Paul wished his friends goodnight after the meal and told them he would be back in the morning to check on them. They wished him well and closed the door and fastened the several locks to the cabin.
Clearing up the rest of dinner the couple settled down in front of the fire and wrapped themselves in each others company. Aaron grabbed the metal rod used for stoking the fire and mindlessly doodled in the ash and dust on the floor. With his head resting on his hand, Aaron was lost to his scratches in the dirt. He stopped for a moment and with his foot wiped it all away and gave himself a clean canvas. He felt energy rising up in his spirit and several distinct designs filled his mind, he took the stoker and began to etch these images in the dirt. Celeste paid him no regard as she was engrossed in her romance novel. He finished drawing the symbols in his mind and leaned back looking at his work, the design made no sense to him but it felt satisfied with what he had just accomplished. Aaron leaned back forward and lightly exhaled over the drawing, in his vision and his alone the symbols flickered a bright blue and faded.
"Did you...did ya just see...see that?" He stuttered looking back and forth at Celeste and the design.
"See what Aaron?" Celeste lowered her book and gazed at him, partially annoyed.
"The design in the dirt glow..."
"You must be tired, lets go to sleep." She suggested.
"Yeah maybe you are right." He shook his head and rubbed his eyes in disbelief.
He helped Celeste up from her seat and followed her back to the bedroom, they left the fire to die down on its own to continue to provide warmth for the small cabin. Paul had just finished his shower and settled into bed, drifting off to sleep when another vision slammed to the front of his mind. Blood dripped from Aaron's clothes and screams could be heard in the background, he stood over Paul with a dagger that reflected off the fire surrounding them. Paul continued to toss and turn in the night, not getting a moments rest as his mind was plagued with paths, decisions yet to be made and actions about to come to pass.
In the middle of the night Aaron rolled over and the usual lump next to him was empty, it stirred him from his sleep and he looked over to find Celeste missing from her side of the bed. "Celeste?!" He called out to her as he sat up, a slight breeze bringing goosebumps to his naked torso.
"She has been taken." A voice interrupted him from the shadows.
His vision slowly adjusted to the low light from the moon outside, "Where is she?" He pushed off the covers and moved to stand.
"Stay where you are boy!" The stern command.
Aaron ceased his movement.
"What do you want?"
"I will be the one talking and you will only comply."
Aaron glowered at the shrouded figure.
"That's better. Now as I was saying, your darling Celeste has been taken and if you want to see her again you shall do as we say." The man switched his crossed legs in the chair.
"And what am I to do?" Aaron growled.
"Tsk, tsk I said I was the one to do the talking, I will get to that part, just be patient boy."
"Fine." He mumbled.
"The Order has great plans for you Aaron Traverse and you shall do great things for our cause to help further our reach and control. Now your first task, after we have fully awakened your abilities, is to kill the Prophet." Even in the darkness Aaron could see the wicked grin and the sharp, white, too perfect teeth.
"Who is this prophet?"
"You know who he is!"
"I have no idea who you are talking about." Aaron pleaded.
"You really don't do you? Then that means his gifts haven't fully awakened either and he hasn't been named! How perfect for us then!" He snickered and snapped his fingers.
To dark shadows reached out and wrapped claws around Aarons arms and forced him down to the bed. Aaron kicked and tried to wring himself from their grip but they had overpowered him, another shadow appeared and held down his legs. The man stood from his chair and wore all black, with a muted silver tie and a tie clip with an emerald set within, he drew a book from his breast pocket and thumbed through it. Finding what he was looking for he pulled out a slim dagger and moved towards the bed. The man tossed off the covers to reveal Aaron clad in nothing but black boxer briefs and squirming in his captors grasp.
The man took the dagger and pressed it to Aaron's thighs and drew blood as he dragged the tip through his flesh. Aaron screamed out in pain as his skin was ripped by the sharp dagger. The man continued to draw a symbol on one thigh and when satisfied with his work, he moved to the other. Aarons screams came in labored now, the pain slowly causing him to blackout, "Stop please, I am begging you to stop!" He cried, tears rolling freely down his face.
The man did not respond but smiled wickedly and continue to "draw", blood pour from the open wounds and stained and soaked the clean sheets. He finished design number two and moved to Aaron's hip and proceeded to draw the symbol of The Order in it. Lastly he pressed the dagger into the center of Aaron's chest and drew another glyph there, Aaron gasped as new pain, pain scraping against his rib cage brought him out of his blackout. The man set the dagger upon the bed and began to chant in a language Aaron couldn't understand. The air in the room grew cold and frost began to collect on the glass. From within himself He could feel something rising to the surface, an energy that bubbled to the top and shot throughout his body, that same energy was drawn from throughout the room and sucked into Aaron's body. He arched his back and gritted his teeth as his long dormant abilities were awaked, fully and unnaturally forced.
"Aaron, Aaron are you there?" A muffled call came from outside the cabin.
"Well it seems that your first task has made it easy for you!" The man grinned.
Aaron breathed hard and twitched and convulsed as his body grew accustomed to the power that was hidden. Slowly the movements ceased and Aaron laid still, his breathing labored and sweat mixed with blood from the wounds that were healing as he lay there. "Now Glyph-Weaver, it is time for you to complete your first task for us!" He ordered.
The creatures let go of Aaron and faded back into the shadows. Aaron's eyes shot up and they were encompassed in darkness, blue light began to flicker at the corner of his eyes and upon the edges of the healing wounds. The light grew in intensity and danced along his flesh, bringing to the surface a network of signs, glyphs and symbols that twisted and shifted around his body. Aaron rose from the bed in a smooth and slow motion, his gaze set firmly ahead with purpose and determination. He moved silently down the hallway and towards the front door, he could hear Paul on the other side. He lifted an arm and blue lightning shot from his fingers and blasted the door from its hinges and sent it tumbling across the porch and into the trees. Paul leaned back in time as he saw a flicker of blue light collect in the window and the door come flying away from the cabin.
Smoke began to collect in the trees and a faint orange glow sparked in his vision, the door had caught the surrounding brush on fire. Paul looked in the doorway and noticed Aaron with blue energy shimmering around him and this darkness in his eyes that made Paul take a few steps back. The fire continued to grow and a young woman stirred from her slumber, she shook her head and began to look around, seeing the fire and two men across the clearing, one in blue and the other silhouetted by the fire. "Aaron?!" she yelled, her voice dry.
"Aaron!" She screamed louder this time.
Both heads looked in her direction and they both moved towards her. The man in blue swatted the other with his right hand, sending him sailing across the clearing and crashing into the trees. As the man approached she could tell it was Aaron, but he didn't look like himself.
"Aaron, my sweet, help me would you?" She begged, her arms tied backwards around the trunk of a large tree and her feet tied together.
Aaron bared his teeth and growled at her, the energy cracking in the cool night air around his fingers. "Babe, it's me, you have got to see that. Come out of whatever is wrong with you and see me." She cried, tears collected in the corners of her eyes.
Aaron leaned back and recognition collected upon his face, the black subsided along with the blue until he was back to his normal self. He knelt down before her and grimaced as the wounds on his thighs, hip and chest cracked and oozed fresh blood. He untied her feet, ignoring the sharp pain from the wounds and then moved around the tree to untie her. Just then the man from his room appeared in the doorway and glanced around the area.
"I don't think so Aaron, your task isn't complete, I can still hear the heartbeat of the Prophet." He raised his hand and began to motioned drawing Aaron to him.
Aaron grabbed onto what he could of the tree and leaned in to whisper in Celeste's ears, as his grip failed and he was pulled back to the cabin he heard her say, "Of course, I love you Aaron Traverse. Always and Forever."
Two creatures came from behind the tree and dragged her away into the darkness, her screams echoing until they faded entirely. The man grabbed Aarons hair and pulled his head back and leaned down to whisper in his ear, "She is mine until we are done with you, now kill the Prophet."
He reached around and sunk his nails into Aaron's chest around the wound and drew the subsided power back to the surface to overtake him again. Paul had awoken and pushed himself off the ground, he shook his head and pushed back the throb. He reached up and felt the back of his head, it came back with a little bit of blood. He looked around the clearing at the growing fire and there stand just at the edge where several people in hooded robes. Prophet, Prophet, awaken for you have been Named! They all spoken unison and a power surged through him and brought him to his knees, gold energy radiated from around him and covered him in warmth and he felt supernatural clarity like he had never experience before.
The man shot a look in his direction and growled, his upper lip curling up. "Dammit, he has been named, kill him now Glyph-Weaver!"
Aaron stood and pivoted on a heel to face Paul, who still radiated the gold light. Aaron raised his hand and shot a beam of lightning at him. Paul anticipated the attack and dove and rolled to his right, coming up in a crouch. He blinked a few times, surprised at his reaction and speed. He raised his own arm and a dagger of light shot from his hand, Aaron swatted it away with his left hand, it shattered into an array of gold crystals before vanishing. The two men continued to dance around the circle, attacking one another with energy and light, slowly eliciting open wounds on one another.
A man had jumped through the trees and into the clearing, both men looked over at him and the young man's eyes widened in terror. Aaron only grinned and pointed his right arm at the man and gestured to the fire, the intruder flew off his feet and into the roaring flames, scream breached their ears as the man was burned alive. The action caught Paul off guard and gave Aaron the moment of weakness he needed. He raised both arms and shot a joined bolt of lightning straight at his friend's chest, sending him tumbling head over heels into a tree. Paul righted himself after the initial shock and collapsed with his back against the trunk. Aaron approached slowly, almost hovering over the ground and stood before Paul, his numerous open wounds and gashes bleeding freely and dripping onto the dirt and pine needles.
The fire danced in the colorless eyes of his best friend, he reached up and felt the gaping hole in his chest where Aaron had hit him, he pulled his fingers away grimacing at the touch that caused his nerve endings to flare up in excruciating pain. They came away covered in deep crimson, his dream flashed before his mind and noticed the subtle differences from the dream and what had actually played out in reality. Aaron stood above him and watched as the blood pumped out of his chest and ran his tattered shirt soaked it up until it dripped onto the ground. The color slowly faded from Pauls eyes as his life left him, Aaron's triumphant smile was wicked, slowly the color returned to his own eyes and realization registered at what he had just done. Panic flooded his face and fear invaded his body, "oh no no no no no no..." he stammered as he ran his hands through his hair.
Aaron stepped away and paced around, he glanced back to the cabin and the man was gone, he could feel his heart pounding in his chest and ears and anger rose to the surface. He could sense the heat from the angry flames and the heat from his own anger, his vision slowly clouded in red and he screamed, his vision twisted and red flashed in his eyes. Several people came bursting into the clearing, only finding a raging fire and a 'dead' man at the edge of the clearing.
At that exact moment two men several hundred miles apart both shot up wide awake. Aaron was covered in sweat and tossed the covers off of him, that night played again in his mind and he came to understand and remember things about that night he had suppressed all these years. Paul leaned forward in the carriage and gasped, he glanced around him and found his companions were all asleep. His dreams had returned to the day when he was "killed" and he saw things that he didn't know had happened and came to greater revelation of that night from over ten years ago.