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Chapter 14: Meeting up with Chimon

“No one knows which way to go?” Justin looked at all of them as they tried to choose which path to take. The whispering sounds grew louder and he covered his ears to drown out the noise.

“I have never been this deep in the forest before,” Kyrie stated as she held up a hand to try and sense the right direction. “Nabo’lan can be a few miles or a few hundred miles away from here.”

“We need to hurry and choose a path.” Lalana looked up into the sky as she said this. “Night is about to fall and we are all in danger when it does.”

“Can ye not use yer magicks to protect us all from what be coming?” Harmon asked as a lick of fear slid down his spine.

“The evilness of the forest is too strong. Gather your weapons to defend against whatever comes our way.” Kyrie sheathed her daggers as the others picked up their weapons from the ground. Vissa stared down at the forest floor and Justin walked over to her.

“Are you alright, Vissa?” After taking a deep breath, she looked up at him. The clear blue of her gaze blew through Justin and he gasped in shock. It was like being refreshed by a cool breeze on a hot summer’s day. She was beautiful; Justin didn’t believe there was a more beautiful person and his heart speeded up, making him a little breathless.

“I do not have any weapons to protect myself.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll protect you.” Vissa tilted her head to the side as she smiled. Justin flushed a bright scarlet as he looked away. “Since you don’t have anything to defend yourself with, I’ll protect you.”

“Thank you so much, Justin. I am glad that we can talk like this without going to our between. I always wanted to meet you.” She walked closer to him and searched his profile. Justin returned his gaze to hers.

“You did?”

“Yes, I just wanted to be able to…touch you.” She slowly reached out a hand to touch his. “I used to wonder, when I was trapped in that tower, if you were real or not. I am glad to know that you are and that my mind was not playing tricks on me.” Tears welled up and spilled down her cheeks. Justin wrapped his arms around her in a hug and she returned the embrace. Eyes bored into the back of his neck and he stiffened. Releasing Vissa, Justin turned and his eyes clashed with Lalana’s steady gaze. She looked at him a moment more before turning away.

“Justin, are you alright?” Vissa asked and Justin swallowed before turning back to smile weakly at her.

“I’m fine, don’t worry.” Vissa opened her mouth but closed it when Kyrie made her announcement.

“Everyone stick close together so no one gets left behind.” They all formed a tight circle as they chose the left path to take. They passed a gnarled tree with two broken limbs. It made the tree look like a hunched over old woman and Justin stared as he walked past it. He could’ve sworn the tree had a face and was watching their group avidly. Justin felt the whispering trying to enter into his head but he blocked it by thinking about Vissa’s luminous eyes. He smiled as he thought about them, when a flash of violet eyes entered into his brain and his mouth dropped open in surprise.

Justin sneaked a glance in Lalana’s direction, but saw that she was having a whispered conversation with her brother. He wondered why her eyes flashed into his mind. The forest began to get chilly and he wrapped his fur coat tighter about his body.

“We really need to hurry.” Everyone turned and looked at Justin and he realized he was the one who just spoke. “The whispering sounds are getting-“

“Louder,” Vissa finished and they looked at her. She blushed and looked down at the ground. “I…it is just that I heard it as well. If you all would keep quiet, you will hear it too.”

“That is exactly why we must not keep quiet, highness,” Kyrie stated as she motioned everyone to continue on. “They are able to enter our minds easily if we are all silent. Noise deflects them, but it will not forever.”

“I understand.” They all walked along the path that was thick with roots and branches. It made it difficult to see the trail, but they continued on anyway. They came upon a split in the path again. Kyrie chose the left path to take and they all followed her lead. They passed a gnarled tree with two broken limbs. Justin stared at it intensely. Where did I see that before? He looked around at the group traveling with him. Who are these people?

They are my friends. These people are my friends.
His mind replied and relief flooded through him before terror replaced it. It was hard to keep his concentration focused. Justin heard a low growl behind him and turned his head to spy Rendar watching him.

“Are you alright….Rendar?” Rendar’s stomach rumbled as he stared at Justin.

“I just have this powerful urge…” Rendar hissed as a growl escaped him again. He shook his head and sniffed in Justin’s direction. “I am sorry young warrior. For a moment there, I did not recognize you.”

“Yes.” Justin laughed weakly as he saw the shine in Rendar’s eyes. “Excuse me for a moment, please.” He rushed past the group to reach Kyrie at the head. He tapped her on the shoulder and she whirled with her hand raised to attack. The light of confusion was in her eyes before they cleared.

“Justin,” she said with relief. “I do apologize for my-“

“Later,” Justin whispered. “I have something urgent to tell you. Rendar-“

“Speak by minds; he will be unable to hear us this way.”
Kyrie looked at Justin urgently and he gave a small nod.

“Rendar almost attacked me. This forest is making him forget that we are his allies. He and his friends will start looking at us as food.”
Kyrie’s eyes grew wide as she stared at him for a short moment.

“Are you positive of this?”

“Kyrie, why would I make up something as dreadful as this?”
They both heard a low growl that was quickly silenced. “Look at what it almost did to you. You didn’t recognize me for a second.”

“It is just that I-“

“You did
not recognize me. We’re all in serious trouble when night falls.” Kyrie looked at Justin a second more before sighing.

“You are right. We must move with quick haste.”
She raised her hand high up in the sky. “Seno-encarta…..encarta……..” Kyrie lowered her hand as fear bloomed on her face.

“What is it?” Justin stared as she began to lightly shiver.

“I do not remember the words. Every spell within my possession has left me.” Justin groaned loudly and everyone halted.

“What be the problem, lad?” Harmon asked and Rendar answered with a low growl.

“I have a strong hunger.” Justin looked into Rendar’s light green eyes and saw no recognition there. Looking toward the other wolves, he realized none of them held any knowledge of being an ally. Terror curdled in his stomach. “I have a strong hunger to feed.”

“Run! Run for your lives!” he shouted to the group. They all screamed as they separated, the wolves giving chase. Justin grabbed Vissa’s hand and ran with her through a thorny bush. The little thorns nicked their skin with small cuts that had the scent of blood filling the air. A long, hungry howl sounded out and the hair on the back of Justin’s neck stood on end.

“They are going to get us,” Vissa wheezed and Justin knew that she was tiring quickly. He didn’t know what to do next as panic raced through his mind. It made forming a complete thought impossible as they skittered like mice in his brain.

Justin heard the soft pads of a wolf’s feet behind them and he turned, grasping the edge of his sword behind him and pulling it free. He saw the wolf lunge at them with his jaws opened wide. Justin slashed the air in front of him and the wolf leapt to the side. The orange colored wolf stared at the two of them, light blue eyes flared with savage intent.

“I can eat both of you, or I can eat just one,” the wolf spat. He growled softly in his throat as he licked his lips in hunger. “You choose.”

“I choose for you to remember that we are not your enemy.” Justin raised his sword in a fighter’s stance as he stared at the wolf. “We are not your prey either, but your allies.” His thoughts wanted to leave him, but he fiercely resisted the force that was trying to crowd his mind.

“My pack is my ally.” The wolf snapped his jaws at Justin but he swung out with his sword, cutting the wolf on the side of the face. He howled in pain as he circled Justin and Vissa.

“What is happening?” Vissa whispered behind Justin’s back. Justin wanted to turn and comfort her but he knew he’d be risking their lives.

“I will protect you from the wolf, Vissa.”

“Vissa, is that my name?” she asked softly as they heard many screams of pain that flowed through the darkness of the Forest of Forgetfulness. Justin chanced a quick look and saw the light of confusion in Vissa’s blue eyes. That small chance was what the wolf needed and he dove at the duo. Justin struck out quickly and nicked the wolf on the side as he slipped and fell, dragging Vissa with him.

They hit the forest floor and the wolf batted Justin’s sword away with his paw.

“Now I will make the choice and I choose you both.” The wolf growled low again as he bunched his muscles and sprang at them. Justin screamed along with Vissa and closed his eyes tight. He heard the pounding of hooves, then a yelp of surprise and pain before silence.

Justin slowly opened his eyes and saw four spindly legs in front of him. He tilted his head to the side and noticed the wolf that almost attacked them was lying on his side. Justin breathed a small sigh of relief that the terror had passed. At the sound of a sword being sheathed, Justin looked up at the legs and body of a horse but had the head, arms and torso of a man. Justin had heard about Centaurs before but never encountered one, until now. The Centaur had silver fur on his body, a mane of black hair and light silvery eyes. The eyes regarded Justin steadily as he leaned down to gather the two of them up. He deposited them onto his back and looked back at them.

“You two had best hold on tight. This is going to get bumpy.” With that, he raced off. Hooves beating against the ground, he swiftly ran past the fight the wolves were having with the group. Justin shouted at Vissa to grab onto his waist as he gripped the Centaur’s mane. They raced through the darkness, branches grasping at hair and clothing to try and slow them down. A couple of wolves ran after them to try and thwart their escape. The Centaur moved in twists and turns to escape capture from the two wolves that were giving chase.

Justin looked to the left and saw a wolf watching them hungrily as he kept pace with them. He struck out with his sword, slashing the wolf across the face and he howled in fury as he lost his balance. Quickly regaining his footing, he continued to chase them along with his brother wolf. The Centaur managed to dodge the duo as he reached a wooden fortress.

“Catch the princess and her savior,” he shouted this as he grabbed Justin and Vissa. He threw them over the pikes of the wooden wall and two Centaurs caught them. They lowered the duo to the forest floor.

“I am off to help the others.” Justin heard his rescuer thunder off as he felt Vissa grip his wrist tightly. Looking in her direction, he saw that her head was bent.

“Do you know who you are?” He asked. She didn’t answer and Justin pulled his wrist free to grasp her shoulders. “You are-“

“Vissa,” she whispered with her head still down. “My name is Vissa.” She lifted her head and stared at Justin with recognition. Confusion then clouded her face as she glanced at their surroundings. “How did we get here?”

“Our leader has brought you into our village. You are safe from the wickedness of the forest here.” A Centaur with white fur, light blue eyes and a blonde mane answered and they turned in his direction.

“Why are we safe? Why isn’t the forest attacking your thoughts as well? How is it that Vissa’s thoughts returned to her?” Justin fired these questions and a female Centaur with light brown fur, hazel eyes and a red mane approached.

“It is because we are neutral.” She was about to continue on when they heard a scream from above. Lalana, Brudan and Lyssa flew through the air and crashed softly onto the ground. They heard hoof beats fade away. Lalana stood upright with a gasp and a smile broke out on her face.

“I remember who I am. I remember.” She laughed as she grabbed up Brudan into a hug. “I remember you my brother. I remember our lives.”

“That is all well and good, Lalana,” Brudan replied as she turned them about in a dance. “Release me, for you are crushing my spine.” Lyssa laughed and the others joined in.

“Open the gates!” The Centauri leader yelled and they quickly complied. He raced in with Kyrie, Nik and Harmon on his back. Lyon and the other fairies flew on through with Chrysaurs hanging onto them. They slammed the gate shut with the wolves snarling on the other side. Immediately cheers rang out as memories were restored to all within the fortress. The fairies who’d forgotten how to fly now remembered that they’d had an easy way to escape the wolves. Justin watched as everyone hugged and danced with each other in joyous abundance.

The silver furred Centaur approached a laughing Kyrie and bowed his head.

“If you will return the memories of the majestic wolves, it will be greatly appreciated.”

“Oh! Of course I will. Forgive me.” Kyrie blushed as they heard the vicious growls from the other side of the wall. She walked to the fortress gates and shot out her magicks. “Seno-encarta-memoriam-returno.” A bright blue flash slipped through the cracks of the wood and brightened up their section of the forest. Silence fell on everyone as they waited.

“You may open the gates. Our minds have been restored.” No longer hearing the savageness in his voice, the gates opened to let Rendar and his pack inside. Looking shame faced, Rendar bowed first to Kyrie then to the Centauri leader. “I apologize deeply Chimon and wish to thank you for your quick actions.”

“There is no need to apologize, old friend. You cannot be held accountable for what has been done to Hytine. We all know who is to blame.”

“Justin, this is Chimon. He is the leader of the Centauri. He governs all of them during the times of strife and war,” Kyrie told Justin as he stared at the silver man-horse who watched him with wizened eyes. “Mostly, each Centauri village governs themselves.”

“It’s nice to meet you, sir. Thank you for rescuing us.”

“Thank you for rescuing the princess. Hytine has been led lost for ten years since Mikah no longer rules.”

“You mean since my father was murdered,” Vissa responded and Chimon glanced in her direction.

“Yes, murdered was the High King of Hytine. We are all saddened by the loss and we feel it keenly still.” Chimon bowed his head in Vissa’s direction before looking at Kyrie. “What brings you to my side of the forest?”

“We were transported here by Vissa’s awakening powers. The Omnicrone Crystal around her neck, do you not recognize it?” Chimon leaned his head forward to stare at the star shaped crystal Vissa wore with a gold chain around her neck.

“Why, that is the crystal I bestowed upon Mikah when he came into power.” Chimon stretched out his hand to lightly caress the jewel. “The magicks that he has graced upon you princess is tied to the Omnicrone. So long as you wear it, your powers are limitless.”

“Well her power and Agathane’s-“

“Ah yes, the dictator of these lands is a busy bee will you not agree?” Chimon turned in Kyrie’s direction again and saw Harmon frown in displeasure.

“She be dictator in her mind, no law has governed it so.” Chimon smiled as Harmon stated this.

“Her law is the law right now. Many follow what she has chosen to see fit for Hytine.” Chimon motioned for all of them to sit at his outside amphitheatre. They all sat on the wooden benches as Chimon headed for the dais in the center. “She has the Gorgons, the Slithines, the Minotaurs and the Cyclopes on her side. They have joined her in this revolution that you all see fit to fight.”

“So does this mean you will not be joining in the revolution?” Kyrie asked softly with her head bowed.
“Agathane has asked me that same question.” They all gasped when they heard this and looked at Chimon. “She wanted me to join up with her in this fight and I have refused. We Centauri are a neutral group and so shall we remain.” Everyone murmured among themselves. “This is the decision of our council. We remain neutral at all times.”

“Neutral,” Kyrie whispered and swiftly lifted her head. Her power began to brew underneath her calm façade and many surrounding gaped at her in fright. She stood slowly and Justin saw that her eyes were no longer the shade of violet. They glowed like onyx orbs as she approached the dais where Chimon was still standing.

“There is no such thing as neutral in a fight for our freedom. There are those who wish to enslave under malignant rule and there are those who choose to rise against that rule. Which do you stand for?” Kyrie turned and faced the crowd as she asked this. “We have one who wants to rule over this world with an iron fist. This fist that goes in accordance to her will and her will alone! No matter what she has promised those on her side, she plans to ruin this world that we all live in and make it her own. There will be no freedom in Hytine if we do not stop her now!” The crowd nodded in agreement and a few clapped but Kyrie glanced at them and they quieted.

Kyrie looked out over to the Centauri but they wouldn’t meet her eyes. She turned in Chimon’s direction and he stood tall as she faced him.

“You wish to remain neutral? You choose not to rise up against her? Well I call you a coward! Only those who are weak will let a tyrannical monster such as she roam free and do nothing to hinder her! I pity you Chimon and I pity your race. To take up this position of neutrality is to ignore what is being done in Hytine. May your children forgive you for this one day.”

“Be that as it may,” Chimon cleared his throat as he looked over the group. “We shall maintain our neutrality. I turn down your request to join.” Kyrie’s eyes cleared and her power began to simmer down as she stared at Chimon.

“I did not offer you one.”

“However, I will lead you out of the forest and head you on the right path.”

“Your kindness is most appreciated. Let us continue on everyone.” They all stood and headed for the gates. Two Centauri opened them and they all exited; following Chimon as he guided them.

The walk was silent as everyone’s thoughts were heavy with Kyrie’s speech. Justin couldn’t believe how someone can remain neutral when evil was roaming around. Didn’t they believe in heroism? Didn’t they want to right the wrongs of their world? He didn’t understand any of it but his thoughts were interrupted by the acrid smell of smoke.

Justin began to cough and wondered if he was imagining it all like last time. Until Lalana and the others began coughing, then he knew it was real.

“Where is it coming from?” Lyssa questioned and they all spied smoke billowing up to the sky a short distance away. They all raced toward it and saw a village that was completely annihilated. Chimon kept shaking his head negatively as they saw blood splatters everywhere. A keening sound broke out from him as he spied a young Centaur cleaved in two on the ground in front of him.

“Who would do such a thing?” he whispered as tears ran down his cheeks. They heard an agonized groan and Chimon raced to where a fallen building trapped another Centaur. They all rushed over to pull the horseman free and he blinked up at them. His light browneyes were glazed over in pain and Chimon brushed a hand down the side of his face.

“Who has done this to your village, young one?” The young horseman licked his lips as he gazed into Chimon’s eyes.

“The dictator, she came last night and attacked our village. Why did she do this?” Tears welled up and spilled over. “Does she not know that we are neutral?” The young Centaur closed his eyes and escaped to the blackness of his mind.

“This is her answer to your neutrality.” Kyrie glanced about her at the carnage. “This is her response to your being neutral.”

“Then she has made a terrible mistake. She has crossed me and now must pay for it.” Eyes bulged in anger; Chimon reached behind and grabbed a silver bugle. “The Centauri will join your revolution. We shall give her a war Hytine will never forget.” He blew his horn and it sounded out through the Forest of Forgetfulness. The pure notes reached all the Centauri of the forest and Justin pumped up a fist in triumph.

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