Reaching out with my mind, I search for any disturbances in the water, feeling around for any unnecessary ripplings in the current. Nothing disrupts the seas tonight. The crashing sound of the waves calms me slightly, but I'm still anxious to be back home.
"Are the fishies biting tonight, Andreas?"
Opening my eyes, I watch Sactles land softly on the ground to my left. The scrawniest of the four protectors, Sactles stands a solid two heads below me. His beady eyes sparkle at the cleverness of his own joke.
"Why don't you come in the water and find out?"
Never breaking eye contact with Sactles, I call forth four palarks - massive sea creatures with hundreds of teeth jutting out in every direction and razor sharp fins. They launch themselves out of the water at Sactles, jaws chomping, narrowly missing Sactles' pointed nose.
A slow smile spreads across my face as Sactles' eyes widen to the size of saucers. I shake my head. Poor Sactles. Not the bravest immortal.
"Play nice, Andreas."
I raise the current of the tide to pull back my beauties before turning to address our newest member. Instead of encountering a human face, I'm greeted by a beast four times the size of any human. The claws alone are twice the size of my face and could rip easily through human skin. Coarse knotted black fur coats the entire body. I raise my hand to the front of the beast's face in a show of friendship, palm facing upward. A moist nose touches my outstretched hand, leaving traces of cold liquid along my skin. Finding me lacking as a threat, the beast lowers his belly to the ground, laying on all fours. A mountain of a man jumps down from the back of the beast.
Wiping my forearm against my pant leg, I call out to him, "Elyaeus, always a pleasure."
He grunts in response. Elyaeus makes his way towards us, his curly blonde hair bouncing atop his shoulders with every step. His normally jovial eyes have narrowed as he speaks.
"Now where is Sebas? And why has he called this meeting?"
I shrug. "Your guess is as good as mine."
We remain standing in silence waiting for the fourth and final protector to arrive. Three minutes have passed before a lone figure arrives on the rocky path along the woods.
"Took you long enough, Sebas." As the words leave my lips, I can almost see the steam leave his ears.
"Sorry boys, fire doesn't exactly allow for the easiest of transportation methods like all of you. Took me four days to get here." Grumbling, he sits down on the log opposite from me.
Elyaeus chimes in, getting straight to the point, "I'd love to hear more complaints, but as you're the one who called this meeting, I'm not feeling too sympathetic at the moment."
Sactles and I nod our heads in agreement.
Looking Sebas up and down, I note the differences in his appearance since the last time we met. No longer is he the handsome, charismatic young man that stood three years ago. In his place stands an aged man, with weary hazel eyes and grey wisps sprouting from his once chestnut mane. Time has not been his friend. Brushing his hair aside, Sebas makes eye contact with all three of us before he begins.
"My oracle has news."
My palms begin to sweat at the mention of the oracle. I knew it was only a matter of time before my secret was found out. Pale mischievous blue eyes appear like a match inside my head. Quickly I douse the image in my mind and refocus my attention as Sebas continues to speak.
"The god Queles is still mad over the sacrifice of his protector, Zale. He wants equal retribution from all of the protectors. He's commanded his three generals of death to join the ranks of the living and eliminate all remaining protectors. They have the power to pick us off, one by one. Only the combined powers of all four protectors can defeat these generals."
I look around at all three men and voice my opinion, "Is this oracle to be trusted?"
Frustration creeps into Sebas's eyes as he tightly responds, "Yes."
I wave away his frustration away with my hand and respond, "So what do you propose we do?"
His shoulders relax, happy to answer this time. "I propose we protect our kingdoms the best we can for the time being. In one passing of the sun, we send our boys to this meeting spot. My men will have constructed an academy where the four of them can train together, honing their skills so they can defeat all three of these threats. I'll send along my sons' instructors, the finest in all the kingdoms."
I panic a little at this proposal, trying to think of any other logical plan of action. Sactles beats me to it.
"Why don't the four of us train together?"
Yes. I mentally applaud Sactles for not being a spineless twit for once.
"Because right now, we're stronger than they are. If they fail, we've protected our individual kingdoms and still stand a chance of defeating the generals. If we try first and fail, there is no second hope."
"Isn't that just sending our sons to die?" I pipe in.
Sebas solemnly nods. "If that's the way you want to look at it, then yes."
"They're our children, Sebas."
"We need to do whatever it takes to protect our kingdoms. My son is strong, I know he will succeed in this."
I shake my head. "None of us have ever dealt with this kind of evil."
"Who knows then? Maybe we'll be laughing one day how easy it was to defeat them."
I laugh with no humor. "The generals of death. Oh yeah, should be an easy one."
Sebas sighs, clearly not amused. "You need to take this serious, Andreas."
I frown. "I am. Sorry I'm not as eager to send my child off to die."
Elyaeus clears his throat, breaking the tension building between Sebas and myself.
"I agree with Sebas. My son will be here, exactly one passing of the sun from today."
I look up at Elyaeus, feeling oddly betrayed. Sactles is obediently nodding his head in agreement. Spineless little twit.
"Looks like it's three to one, Andreas. Your son will be here in one passing of the sun. Don't make us come looking for him."
He narrows his eyes, waiting for my acquiescence. I give a terse nod, clenching my jaw tightly. A smile of approval lights his face as he turns to leave.
Sebas calls back over his shoulder, "One turning of the sun" and with that he's disappeared back into the woods.
Elyaeus hops on the back of his beast, clenching tightly with both legs.
"Our boys are strong, Andreas. Have faith."
With those final words, he leaves me alone with Sactles.
Before I can turn on him and unleash some of my bottled up anger, he's shot off in the air. A cloud of dirt blows in the breeze where he once stood.
"ARGHHHHHHH" I bellow into the open space. This is not good. Drifting deeper into the depths of the ocean, I make my way back to the kingdom to tell Anwar and Lena the news.