Flame and Shadow

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Chapter 72

I wasn’t sure where I was. Well, I knew where the location was, but I wasn’t sure I was the one who was there. It was as though the world were divided in two, but the halves were not side by side. Instead, they were overlapped upon one another. There was one that I could see clearly. What appeared to be glowing, colorful people floating. They were their souls.

I was seeing souls? Was I dead? The other plane was somewhat faded, like I was looking through a thin curtain. Then, I looked at the souls. They all appeared to be asleep, even when it was obvious that the people they were attached to were alive and moving around. Then, I realized what that meant. They were asleep to the spirit world. The couldn’t see the spirit world at all. Normally, I couldn’t, either. What was going on?

Next, my eyes(?) were drawn to two more souls, in the center of the large room. These were also asleep looking. One belonged to a woman, the other to a baby still within her body. She lay in the center of some room, on a great stone table. It must have been some kind of ritual. A ritual that must not succeed. I didn’t know why, but I knew that I had to protect these people.

Suddenly, another soul appeared. This one was not attached to a physical body at all, and it was dark and maleficent. All the color I had seen appeared to be drained at the arrival of this presence. In response to the ritual, it traveled toward the mother and child. I wasn’t going to let that happen. I flew in, and attacked the dark form. Our spiritual battle raged on for some time, me trying desperately to keep these two helpless souls safe. Apparently our spiritual battle was having some effect on the physical world, because all of the people around were staring with great attention. Lights were extinguished, objects flew around the room, and there was the sound of a hurricane.

After a long and brutal fight, I drove away the dark spirit. Unfortunately, the helpless, sleeping soul of the mother was caught in our war, and… was damaged. It was separated from her body…which died. The baby, though, did not. With gentle, loving eyes, I looked at this innocent light, the life of mankind. I slowly, and carefully touched this spiritual form and descended into the mother’s womb and the baby’s physical form. It was about to be born. Then, I realized. The baby was me! I wasn’t seeing my own memory at all.

My vision-self joined with my real-self’s soul, and was born in the same body with me. What was that all about?

I came back into reality, but this time, there was no one sitting around, waiting for me to wake up. They were giving me my space.

I came to the conclusion that I had just seen a vision of the ritual my father performed on my mother when I was born. He was intending on inviting a demon into my body to make me more suitable for his purposes, but the demon was defeated, and now I have…what…an angel? A guardian angel? Inside of me? Is that where my force fields came from?

Not to waste any more time, I flipped open the book, and began to read. The entire thing had been completed. Words of eloquent writing covered every page, inscribed in dozens of languages. I quickly found a part written in English. To my surprise, the Book of Prophecy read like a storybook. It walked through our entire adventure, with astounding detail. But what was most shocking, was that it was so much about me. All this time, I thought that I was not a part of the prophecy, it was all about the Fiery One and the Shadowy One. But now that it was complete, and I read it for myself, it had them, but it also made many references to “The Marked One”.

I read through the entire book voraciously, actually learning things about our journey that I didn’t even know. Then, at the end, my heart dropped. I flipped over and over through the ancient tome, searching for an alternative. This was impossible! It couldn’t be!! The book concluded with the earth perishing in flames! That’s it? That’s how it ended? It was already written? No, that’s impossible! Right? Grrr…It can’t end like this. That’s the worst ending I’ve ever read! Why did real life have to have an ending worse than a Shakespeare story?! How could God allow such a thing?! WHY!?

Then it occurred to me, all of the pages we’d been tracking down through our travels had come from the back of the book. I quickly removed them from my pocket, and fitted them in the book where they went. The fronts of the pages were all maps…but what about the back?

Each of the five map pages had a little something written on them, but it made no sense. Then, I had a thought. Maybe the whole is more than the sum of its parts! I lay the pages out on the ground, backsides facing up. I shuffled them around for a while like a puzzle, laying different parts of each one over the other until I could figure out what it was supposed to say.

When I completed it, the words that appeared took my breath away.

“When flames envelop the earth, when the burning light leads to the deepest dark, when all hope is lost, the sacrifice of the Marked One will save all.”

In addition to the message, there was a map that had our current location, and a dotted line that pointed to another island. I gathered up the pages to show them to Milo and Sera, until I decided that they shouldn’t see it. If they knew what I was going to do, they may try to stop me. But I knew my destiny. This is what I was meant to do, and there was no other way.

So I placed the pages back in the correct order in the Book of Prophecy, and lay my hands on the front cover. Then, I channeled the energy from the book back into my body. The symbol beneath my feet lit up once more as the markings were stripped from the tome back onto my skin. It felt kinda good to have them back.

I left the book behind, and ran toward Milo and Sera.

“I know where we have to go!” I exclaimed. “Let’s head for the ship!”

They followed my lead as I ran down to the shore. I wasn’t too surprised to find the one that we had flown completely destroyed. Father must have had Geoffrey crush it when they arrived. Rachael had fought bravely, but he killed her. We didn’t have time to mourn. We climbed into the other ship, where Mara and Dorian already were.

“Alright, Hal. Where are we going?” Milo asked.

I had absorbed the map into my mind, and could see it when I closed my eyes. Mara was sitting in the pilot seat, so I addressed her.

“We need to go 10.4 miles north, and 3.75 miles east. There will be a really small island. That’s where I need to go.”

In a matter of minutes, we had arrived, and touched down in the water beside the tiny island. It was only around a half of a mile across, and almost perfectly round.

I began climbing out of the ship, and Milo and Sera tried to follow me.

“Ah, guys, I’m afraid you can’t come with me on this one.” I stopped them.

“What? Are you crazy?” Sera burst out, but Milo’s response was much more of what I was looking for.

“I get it. You’ve gotta do this on your own. I know you can handle it.” He stopped, then spoke again. “…I’ll see you again, won’t I?”

My heart twinged. Everything we had been through together: the adventures, the pain, the laughter…these two were my family. The brief few chapters that the story of my life intersected theirs was wonderful, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But… the final chapter was coming to a close. It was time for me to do what I had been born to do. It wasn’t easy, but I desperately attempted to suppress the lump in my throat. With tearfilled eyes, I glanced around my surroundings to avoid eye contact. Then, I nodded and smiled.


Turning to Sera, I waved. “See ya later, Sera!”

The girl gave me a salute.

“Goodbye Aaleilyah Jetta hal-Shomal Nouri! You’re awesome.”

My eyes widened.

“What did you…”

“What? That’s your name, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, but…”

“I’ve always been good with names.”

I laughed. We both knew that wasn’t true. But she remembered mine. That made me feel special. It was hard for me to even see due to the tears flooding my eyes. Both happy, and mournful. This was it…for this world.

“Guys, get as far from here as you can. It’s gonna be rough.”

“Rodger. I’ll see you later!”

“Oh! And I read the back of the book! We win!”

As the craft flew away, I waved my final goodbye, before turning to trek toward the center of the island. It wasn’t until then that I noticed how late it was getting; the sun was beginning to set over the ocean. However, the reason I couldn’t tell was on account of the second sun in the sky. It must be Mavethel. He had absorbed enough power from the sun to light up the sky, and he wasn’t even here yet. I hurried to the focal point of the small land mass. There, not to my surprise, was another glyph of the combined symbol like I had on my hand. Just to compare the two, I held out the back of my hand to look at it. When I moved my hand away to look at the ground again, I found that it was far below my feet, and shrinking fast.

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