For many hours the forn and I traveled through the rugged terrain. Regret followed me the entire time, since I could have guessed why the he had arrived. I did not want to continue, so, at last I turned to the forn and objected.
“I’m not going.”
I stopped as the forn turned to me. “I know why you’re here, and I can’t go.”
The forn looked at me with a gaze I couldn’t quite discern. I felt so selfish and ignorant, but I truly couldn’t finish.
“Why do you think I came?” it asked me with a soothing and epicene voice.
“To finish it, finish this thing.“ I replied, sitting down on the mossy rock.
“Now, why would you not finish it?”
Its companionate voice was persuading, but I wasn’t conceding.
“It’s too much, too much to bear…“ I hesitated to answer. “I’m afraid.”
“Of what?” The form inquired.
Bowing my head, I carefully took out the dagger from my coat and showed it to him.
“This,” I said as I threw the dagger on the ground. “This is a thing of death.”
A snake with a ghostly presence slowly started to creep up on the dagger. The forn was quick to trample the snake, killing it instantly.
Turning to me it uttered, “You cannot let fear rule you, Augustine.“
The forn slid the dagger toward my feet, and uttered. “Pick it up.”
Hesitantly I grasped the dagger in my hand and stood up as he came closer.
“I’m not here to force you into anything. I’m here to give you a choice. It is up to you to make the proper one. Now follow me, we have long ways to travel.”---
--- I awoke to the sounds of vomiting and gaging. My head hurt as if a swarm of bees were buzzing inside and my body greatly ached. I could barely stand, leaning on the dark wood walls of the professor’s house, trying to get to the porch.
Rahil was leaning on the porch’s rails, vomiting down into the mist. I watched as I sat down on a chair. Greatly relieved, I realized that we were at last, back at the Athenaeum.
Rahil turned his gaze to me. Angry and irritated, he kept his gaze on me until he wiped his mouth and entered the house.
“Seems as though your friend’s symptoms have mysteriously faded.” Rahil remarked sarcastically to the professor who was, at the time, fixing the levitating motor.
“Where is he?” The professor asked.
“Out on the porch.”
The professor quickly laid down his instruments and came to get me. He was wearing a black apron and peculiar goggles. When he emerged from the house, the professor sighed in relief and called me inside.
“Come on in, I will need your assistance.” I hastily followed the professor inside.
As we were walking down the hallway, I noticed Rahil in one of the rooms staring at me with eyes of mischief
The professor pointed to the contraption that controlled the levitation of the house.
“You see that gear down there? “ The professor pointed out.
“The one with the wood stuck in it?” I speculated.
“Yes, just put your hand through and take the splinter out.” When I did, I noticed that his countenance revealed a sense of worry.
His sarcastic wit and malignancy that I had become so accustomed to had dissipated. I could not ascertain the reason for this change, so when I removed the splinter from the gear, I asked him.
“What is it, professor?”
He stared down at me, contemplating how to answer this simple, but complex, inquiry.
“We got out.” The professor answered in monotone.
“Obviously, yes, but-“
I stopped and thought for a second.
“Where are Bartholomew and Amalia? “ I asked somewhat worried.
“Bartholomew has left, Amalia is dead.”
The professor rose from the floor and returned to the porch, removing his peculiar goggles and dirty apron.
I was shocked by this revelation and did not know if I should further question the matter.
“How?” I finally asked, following the professor to the porch.
“You really are targeting the perfect moment to ask questions, young Augustine.” The professor sarcastically remarked as he summoned a bookcase.
I did not answer, since I was still quite saddened and bewildered. I had not expected such an answer.
As the professor stepped onto the hovering bookcase, he looked back at me. He slouched his shoulders then said with a sigh. “Are you a dog that must be whistled to?”
A warm and safe feeling washed over me as we soared through the grand Athenaeum, then the professor broke the silence.
“You must leave tonight.” My ears heard the words, but my mind did not comprehend.
“What?” I asked, perplexed.
“It has become too dangerous for you, and the dagger, so, you must leave tonight.”
I was desperately trying to understand this new development, but it was too much for me to comprehend.
“I don’t understand, professor.”
“Listen to me, young Augustine. Listen to me with caution. You must take the dagger to the isle of Akon and throw it into the Abyss.” The professor uttered in a serious tone. “You must not, and I repeat, you must never touch the dagger with your bare hands!“
The professor came closer to me as he uttered the words. ”The power that you fuel it with will attract the anomalies. I believe you can assume the rest.”
This was a great deal for me to fathom, and I did not want the task to be in my fragile hands, so, I persisted to counter it.
“Can it just stay here, somewhere in the Athenaeum?” I nervously questioned.
“I do not trust the sentinels. Neither do I trust you, but if I were to choose, I’d rather put it in your hands.“ I felt a sense of honor, but fear engulfed it.
“I can’t, professor. It’s too grave a task for me. I don’t even know where to begin!”
“You begin with the peregrination crystal. You must rid yourself of all emotion when handling it. If you don’t, it will crack, and I believe your experience in the maul handling of peregrination crystal was quite acceptable, don’t you say?“
I still was quite nervous, but the professor’s persistence provided me a sense of confidence.
As we arrived in the section of the Athenaeum where the professor resided, he landed on the floating island of bookcases, where the last time, I had taken the dagger. The professor slowly approached the glass casing where the dagger used to reside. Slowly putting on his gloves and resting the dagger on the podium, he covered it with the glass case.
“That should suffice.” The professor remarked as he chucked his gloves across the room.
“So, I just come here, put the gloves on and take it?” I asked for reassurance.
“At last! You have ears.” The professor answered sarcastically.
Out of nowhere Rahil soared above us as he exited out to the terrace of the floating island. The professor was quite displeased with this act, and stared up at him with annoyance clearly written on his face
“Now, where were you two sneaky birds running of too?” Rahil asked with an air of smugness.
“Get off that thing before you crash like a fool!” The professor shouted as he stepped onto the bookcase.
“Don’t you worry, sir keeper. I’ve been here many times.” Rahil said as he soared around us like an eagle. “Where did you put it?” Rahil arrogantly asked as the professor continued to guide us toward the study.
“Somewhere safe.” The professor replied as we halted in front of the study.
“Where safe?” Rahil persisted.
“Safe, Rahil.” The professor turned to him with an antagonizing glare.
“You know I’m in charge now!“ Rahil shouted as the professor turned his back to him.
“I am the keeper.” The professor countered.
“And I am now the leader of this crew, since Bartholomew left.”
“Oh, please, he left to get the guards! “ The professor raised his voice.
“He still left, so that leaves me in charge! Now, I ask again, where is the dagger?” The professor halted and humbled himself.
“In the thirty-second study, right wall. It’s incased in a wooden box.”
I looked at the professor and acted as if though he had spoken the truth. Rahil looked at the both of us, attempting to discern any doubt on our faces.
“Is this the truth, boy?“ Rahil turned to me and asked.
“Yes, it is.” I answered hesitantly. Rahil snickered in a sense pride, as if he had gained some sort of power over us.
“Well, I’ll keep an eye on you both. You stay in this study, until the guards arrive. Is that understood?” As the professor and I, made eye contact, I could sense worry in his eyes, but that quickly dissipated as he turned to Rahil, sat on his stack of books, and malignantly replied, “Anything you say my Lord.”