The following morning, I awoke to footsteps creeping in the hallway. Hastily I took the pistol, (which had no ammunition), in my hand, and cautiously peered through the door to see who or what was in the hallway.
I noticed the professor making some tea in the makeshift kitchen. The sight calmed my stressed state. Putting the pistol away I went to greet him.
“Good morning, professor.”
“Well, you sure are an optimistic soul, young Augustine,“ the professor smugly uttered.
“How’s the masked man? “ I asked.
“Masked man? Oh, you mean the man whom you invited into my home without my immediate consent?”
“You let him in too? “ I perplexedly inquired.
“I let him in for a reason.”
“That reason being?“ I slyly inserted the question.
The professor completely ignored my inquiry and uttered. “You just stay clear of him. Understood? “
I hadn’t answered the professor, since I did not want to lie.
The professor then sighed and headed to the visitor’s room with two cups of British tea. I followed behind him, masking my presence. I had known that it was probably a bit intrusive, but I, nevertheless continued, since my curiosity had the tighter hold on me.
“I’ve brought you some tea,“ the professor uttered as he set the cup on the table that was beside the bed. The nameless man ignored the tea as he was in a state of dismay.
“You sure do love tea.“ The professor jested.
The man kept silent, not in a cowardly way, but sullen and angry.
“First things first. How did you come across my house?“ The professor leaned back into his chair as he began to question the man.
“I followed you for two nights.”
“You were the first humans I had seen in a long time.”
“And that gave you a valid reason to just barge in?” The man remained silent. “And that mark, on your forehead...”
As soon as the professor uttered these words. The man slowly caressed the mark with his fingers and replied. “I don’t know.”
“Do you remember anything?” The professor asked.
“My memory has slowly depleted through the seasons.“ The man uttered with a sense of shame.
“What about your arrival?”
“I do not know a thing! I cannot remember anything, not even my own name! Is that enough for you?” the man was quick to answer. He looked out of the window as the sun illuminated his somber face.
“Come forward.” The professor commanded.
The man gazed at the professor in confusion. “I don’t have all day, sit here, right here.”
The professor removed his long black coat and walked towards a drawer which was behind him.
He opened the drawer removing a petite glass bottle. Pouring the liquid substance into his eyes he returned to sit in front of the mystery man.
The professor once more leaned forward, mere centimeters from the mysterious man’s face.
He conveyed an odd expression as he looked into the eyes of the man. The professor’s eyes began to blaze a fiery luminescence color, and a similar symbol to which the masked man had borne, now appeared on the professor’s forehead.
The outline of the symbol illuminated, as did the eyes and the symbol of the nameless man.
The room darkened, and a sense of grave power bewildered me as I stared in awe at the sight. The man seemed to be in a trance-like state as the professor gazed into his eyes.
After moments had passed, the glow ceased and the professor finally broke the gaze. “Sleep.” He commanded.
The professor put his finger between the eyes of the innominate man, causing him to fall back onto the bed and into a deep sleep. Apparently disturbed, as though he had witnessed something he wished he had not, the professor stood up from his chair.
“It’s quite rude to intrude.” The professor uttered as he donned his long black coat.
“What was that?” I asked the professor, bewildered.
“Didn’t your mother ever teach you manners, young Augustine?” The professor sarcastically quipped as he exited the room.
“My mother passed away” I answered, following the professor down the hallway.
“Oh, yes. Of course. I forgot.” Jested the professor as he stepped onto the porch.
Gazing out at the massive dunes he commented, “The weather seems quite odd. Does it not?”
“Who is he? “ I persisted.
“I told you to stay clear of the man. Did I not?”
“Yes, professor but…”
“There is no but, young Augustine” The professor interrupted me. “You keep pushing where there is no need to push.”
“What happened to him? Why did he lose his memory?”
I knew I was not going to get the man’s identity. So, I inquired, instead of his predicament.
“This realm wasn’t created for mortal bodies. The longer one remains, the more the soul detaches from your physical self. It seems as though our guest is suffering a mild case of soul detachment.“ The professor smugly replied.
As we headed into one of the dining areas, Bartholomew joined in and also inquired about the mystery man.
“How is our nameless guest doing?”
“His name is Samuel, and he seems to be detaching.” The professor uttered.
“Already?” Bartholomew asked, worry edging his voice.
“He has been in the realm for many seasons, so, I believe we have little to worry about.“ The professor reassured.
“We have been in the realm for two nights already.” Bartholomew argued.
“Well, I’m not the one who got us here, am I?” The professor countered.
Just then Amalia descended from her room, and exclaimed.
“Griffin, are you aware that a roof has been growing in my room?”
“You still haven’t fixed it?” Bartholomew turned to the professor.
“I invited you into my precious home, just for you to complain about its insignificant issues?“ The professor mockingly uttered.
“I believe that a roof, growing above my head is a bit significant.“ Amalia stated.
“For all I care, you can go walk down on the sand, and Bartholomew dear friend, shouldn’t you be steering this blasted house?” The professor inquired with a sneer.
As Bartholomew exited the dining room, Amalia sat next to the professor and attempted to initiate a conversation.
“How’s the new guest? Amalia inquired.
“Do I have to answer that question individually, every single time? He is fine, just a bit detached. That is all.”
The professor rose from his chair and made for the exit.
“I saw the emblem.” Amalia replied.
The professor halted his exit and turned around.
“What emblem?” The professor hesitantly inquired.
“Don’t play the fool with me Griffin.” Amalia raised her voice in pride.
“Aha, and what do you suppose I do with the information you have just provided me? Are you to assure me that your eyes work fine?”
“I am to assure you that I know you took him in for a reason.” Amalia noted.
“Perfect! You can prove to me that you use your reason. How about we celebrate with a feast?” The professor jested.
Amalia remained calm, as she grew accustomed to the professor’s harsh articulation.
“Is he what I think he is?” Amalia inquired, just as the man whom the professor called Samuel, came into the dining room.
He was a bit under the weather, and quite weary. As Amalia, the professor and I stared at his dazed state, the man commenced to collapse.
Hurriedly, Amalia and the professor came to his aid, as I brought a chair on which he could sit.
“Amalia, bring him some water and bread.” The professor demanded.
“No!” Samuel exclaimed. “No water! No food!”
“Why not?” Amalia asked, as Samuel hesitated to answer. He began scratching at his hands and gulping his saliva.
“I cannot feel it, nor can I taste it. The only thing I can feel is the deficit, never the fulfillment.”
Amalia and the professor looked at one another with a hint of worry in their eyes.
“How did you stay alive through all of those seasons?” Amalia questioned.
“Oh, I longed for death. Believe me I did, but however hard I tried. It didn’t let me die.” He bleakly replied.
“What didn’t let you die” Amalia inquired.
“The land.” Hastily the professor responded, gazing into the eyes of Samuel. As if he was trying to fathom a conundrum of some sort. “In two nights, we move.”
The professor announced, as he exited the dining room to inform Bartholomew. Soon after Amalia left also, leaving me alone with Samuel.
“What is that mask you wore… last night?” I hesitantly asked Samuel.
Instead of answering, he remained silent, not moving a single muscle.
I approached Samuel, drawing near in order to take a closer look at his peculiar symbol, knowing that he couldn’t see me. I came within a few centimeters of his face, and then he abruptly grabbed me by the neck and thrust me onto the wooden table.
Suffocating, I called out desperately for help, but no one came to my aid. As Samuel was suffocating me, he kept reciting the same words, over and over again.
“The exiled must fall! The exiled must fall!”
I was in a state of shock, and I did not know how to respond to such behavior. I was beginning to lose consciousness, and my arms and feet grew heavy and burdened.
Just as I was about to lose consciousness, Rahil and the professor came in to inspect the commotion.
The professor hastily tackled Samuel throwing him from me and pinning him down.
“Did I tell you not to speak to him!?” The professor angrily shouted, as I was gasping for air and franticly trying to comprehend what had just happened.
“Sleep!” The professor rested his finger in between the eyes of Samuel and finally put him to rest. “Do you ever open your ears and listen?”
I could not contradict the words of the professor, since every counter argument which had come to me would do me no justice.
Rahil was confused and rattled by the sight, but there was also something in his eyes... doubt, and curiosity. Rahil’s gaze petrified me, to a certain extent, more because I couldn’t discern what it meant.
I felt embarrassed, ashamed and humiliated. I had brought all of this upon myself, but it was the words which Samuel uttered, “The exiled must fall”, that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I attempted to understand them. What could it mean?
Millions of inquiries flooded my mind as in frustration I withdrew to the porch. Dunes as high as mountains ranged before me and blocked the horizon. I leaned against one of the many doors and gazed out at the dunes, continuously running those eerie words through my mind.