Wendell paused outside the doorway in the long, endless hallway, listening. He heard voices, which seemed calm and unhurried. He tried very hard to hear what they were saying.
“...hasn’t found him yet, of course.”
Another voice spoke up, this one darker and yet fiery.
“...is listening outside in the hallway right now. Aren’t you?”
Then they continued talking, as always. Wendell shook his head. He must have heard wrong. If they knew he was there, why didn’t they come capture him? He leaned a bit closer to the doorway.
“...would’ve known he would go looking for her, of all ones... isn’t that right, Wendell?”
Wendell tensed backwards, his heart pounding ferociously. Perhaps one of their names was Wendell also. Oh, that must be it! He turned slowly to walk back down the hallway. Nothing happened.
“Don’t be afraid, Wendell. We know you’re here. Come in, please.”
This time the voice was louder, more authoritative. Wendell froze and thought of running, but there was no point now. He slowly stepped to the open doorway.
There was a room, very well-lit compared to the rest of the castle, with a fireplace and some very ornate chairs around it. The walls had beautiful decorations on them, insignias and tapestries with interesting, lovely designs on them. There seemed to be a calm silence to the room.
“That’s it. Come in, the fire is warm! We’ve been expecting you, of course.”
Wendell slowly stepped into the room, and looked at the speaker. It was what looked like a very tall, tall man, resting in a large chair.
He had a very regal, pale face, and long, black locks flowed down past his ears. He was wearing a peculiar set of clothes, with lace at the edges, and the air around him seemed to seethe with a strange, wonderful beauty.
He turned his head a bit as Wendell entered, and fixed him with a dignified, respectful stare. The other one turned in his chair to look at Wendell also. This one Wendell wasn’t sure was human, but something close. He also was tall, and almost smoldered with hidden strength. The first one spoke again.
“You don’t have to be afraid of us, Wendell. We’re not trying to hurt you. See?”
He held up his hands in a gesture of helplessness, and then brought them back down unhurriedly onto the arms of the chair, all the while still resting in it. Wendell opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out.
“Poor child,” he said, laughing.
“He thinks we’re trying to stop him,” he muttered to the other.
“He doesn’t know, if he wanted to come here, all he had to do was stay in one place. We’ve been looking all over for him, haven’t we?”
The other one nodded, seriously.
“You see, we know you. Do you know who you are?”
Wendell looked at them, confusion swirling in his mind.
“You are the perfect one. The brave and true! So is Karen. We brought you here to be together, to fulfill your destiny. You are the rulers of the world.”
Wendell looked down and tried to think. What if it was true? What if they had been looking all over? A great sense of relief and happiness came over him. Karen was okay! These must have be the ones who left clues for him, and guided him through everything!!
He heard the first one speak again, smiling happily.
“We brought you here to teach you deep magic. To show you the secrets of the world!”
Wendell looked up at him, still feeling tremulous. The man smiled a small, joyful smile.
“All your dreams are about to come true, Wendell.”
Wendell’s heart was still racing a little, and he wasn’t sure exactly whether he should say something or do something. Slowly he started to put his dagger back, which he realized he was still holding.
Wendell looked to the side to see who was whispering, but no one was there. The first man looked at him puzzledly, and a flash of consternation went across his face, but then was gone.
“Do you hear anything?” the first one asked.
Wendell looked at the man’s eyes, which looked back, searching him, serious and full of concern. He was sure they could hear his heart racing, and he wondered why he didn’t just tell them something immediately.
Even so, he thought he recognized the voice from somewhere, but he couldn’t remember where, even though he tried so hard to. It wasn’t Garim, or anyone else... but it was so familiar, it made him hurt somehow to remember it again, as he stood hesitating, the two men watching him intently.
Finally, he said something.
“No, I thought I heard something, but I guess I didn’t.”
Why did I say that, Wendell thought.
“That’s good,” said the first one again. “No one but you should hear what we have to say. But first, I have something for you Wendell,” he said, smiling brightly.
The second one reached inside his jerkin and pulled out a small perfect stone, a brilliant blue. He held it with two fingers, as if he was afraid it might scorch him.
“Come, see for yourself. It’s very rare... in fact, there’s only one like it, but red... you know to whom that belongs...”
Wendell came a bit closer, his heart still pounding unmercifully. He reached out for the stone, and as he came closer to it, it seemed as if all his worries vanished away, and he felt happier than he ever had in his life.
But he felt also that if he touched it, he could never go back to... to what? What could be left behind?
“Don’t touch it!!”
A harsh whisper sounded in his ear, and he jerked his hand back, startled. The feeling of elation dissolved, and he felt again as if he recognized the one who spoke to him. Could it be... the wolf? No, the wolf had never spoken.
But as soon as he remembered its great, fierce eyes, the memory burned inside him. It did remind him of the wolf, but it wasn’t entirely the same.
Now he tried desperately to hide his confusion from the two men, who glanced at each other gravely. But didn’t they send the wolf to help him?
“What is wrong?” the first one asked, seriously. “Is something wrong?”
Wendell didn’t know what to say. He slowly reached his hand for the stone, and felt the happiness again... as if he could do anything in the world... he was the perfect one... nothing would be wrong again... but then the memory of the wolf’s eyes came, and he jerked his hand back again, defeated.
“I... I can’t. I don’t know why.”
The two men looked back at him calmly, sadly.
“This is more serious than I thought. Let us bring Karen in.”