The Five Wanderers

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Chapter 15

Minhee watched as Jakob paced like an angry tiger. They had hit a dead end and he had completely lost sight of the trail. Minhee knew he couldn’t sense any sign of his twin anymore, either, and now he was just left with feelings of frustration and uncertainty.

“Jakob, come and sit down,” Minhee suggested as he sat down on the ground and began digging through his bag for something to eat.

“No!” Jakob snapped. Minhee looked up at him and just sighed. He knew Jakob’s anxiety was heightened, which was another reason for his unusually ill temper. “We have to find them!”

“We can’t find them like this,” Minhee said calmly as he patted the hardened ground again. “Sit down. We have to eat something.”

Jakob kicked a stone down the hillside before finally turning and sitting down next to Minhee. He was obviously exhausted as well, since they hadn’t properly rested since traveling up into the mountains. He had every right to be anxious, but Minhee really felt like he had to find a way to ground him before he totally lost his mind.

“We’ll find them, Jakob,” he said gently as he handed him a bag of dried fruit. “They’ve just been very good at hiding from people all this time so it’s proving to be difficult.”

“Why would he hide from me? He should be able to sense my energy,” Jakob put a hand to his chest. “I could almost feel his flame, you know? He should have been able to feel mine.”

Minhee popped a dried blueberry into his mouth and then hummed. “Tell me what it’s like to be a Twin Soul,” he asked. “It must be very unique.” This was also a distraction method to hopefully get Jakob to think about something else for a minute and lower his anxiety.

Jakob closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “I don’t know,” he said softly. “I’ve only ever been a Twin Soul. How could I know how it feels to be anything else?”

“It must have been hard for you, then,” Minhee said. “To be separated from him. I wonder why Fate would do that to the two of you.”

Jakob shook his head a bit and looked down at the dried berries and ate one slowly. “When Jeriah is nearby it feels like my flame gets brighter and stronger. I mean, I’m strong even without him at my side as I’ve proven all this time, but when he’s nearby I’m even stronger. Maybe that’s why Fate kept us apart. Maybe Fate feared what we could be capable of.”

Minhee nodded a bit. “Maybe so,” he agreed. “You do seem different now that you realized he’s alive. You must know how impossible that is, though. Whatever they have done to still be here in this day and age is unnatural.”

“I don’t care,” Jakob said as he glanced at Minhee. “Do you? Don’t you want to see the Wanderers again? We could relive old times.”

“We can’t do that,” Minhee said. “The past is past, Jakob. We can only make new memories, and of course I care about the Wanderers, but I just wonder what kind of trouble they might be bringing with them.”

“Whatever it is, we’ll support them,” Jakob said firmly.

Minhee wasn’t so sure about that, but he just nodded. He knew it was better to be agreeable with Jakob right now than to argue. “Do you remember how the Wanderers would come and stay with us during the winters? Because they didn’t have a home of their own? I really enjoyed those times.”

Jakob smiled as he seemed to also remember this. There would be so much laughter in their castle halls during those months. They were a big guardian family, but life and terrible events had separated them all this time. It was impossible that they all lived to see each other again, but it seemed that Fate indeed had other plans for them. He couldn’t even imagine what those plans might be.

“I remember we’d all sit around the fireplace and tell stories of our adventures,” Jakob said softly. “Kiyah was always so fun to listen to. He would get so excited when he talked.”

“I really enjoyed Verity’s company, too,” Minhee said with a nod. “She was always really peaceful. Tough as nails, but peaceful.”

Jakob looked down. “Jeriah loved them so much. He’d do anything to protect them,” he said. “We have to try to save them all, Minhee. I know Jeriah is most in danger, but the rest of them are in danger by their association to him.”

Minhee looked up at the sky, which was slowly lightening now that dawn was coming. “I wonder how Emersyn is holding up. Being the leader of that group would be difficult,” he said. “Whatever is going on with them, whatever they’ve done to survive all these ages, it must be quite a burden.”

“Right,” Jakob nodded. “We need to find out what they’ve done so we can save them all.”

Minhee glanced at Jakob. “And what if we can’t? What then?”

Jakob looked like he was ready to lose his temper again for a moment, but then his shoulders slumped forward and he shook his head. “We just have to, Minhee.”

Minhee shook his head. That wasn’t much of an answer. There was a large possibility that they would not be able to get the Wanderers out of the mess they were currently in, but he knew he had to try to remain positive. Jakob likely would not do well if he felt Jeriah couldn’t be saved.

“We’ll do what he can,” he agreed gently as he reached over and put a hand on Jakob’s arm. “But let’s try to remain realistic, okay?”

Jakob nodded a little, but Minhee could tell his anxiety was still pretty heightened. Maybe being a Twin Soul was triggering an extra level of stress because he was so afraid that he might lose his other half. Minhee still didn’t fully understand what it meant to be a Twin Soul, of course, but he had a feeling it was making him far less reasonable than his normal self.

Maybe being a Twin Soul wasn’t always a benefit. It made him stronger than an average guardian when he was with his twin, perhaps, but knowing that his twin was in some sort of danger changed him too much. It made him wild and Minhee couldn’t comprehend what he might do next.

“Well,” Minhee said after a moment. “The dawn is coming, so we might as well start heading back towards home, hm?”

“Home?” Jakob asked.

“We can’t just stay in the mountains,” Minhee yawned and slowly stood to his feet. “You said Jeriah isn’t here anymore, and I don’t sense any guardian energy here at all. I say we just move back towards home.”

Jakob frowned, but he stood up and began to follow Minhee as he started walking down the path again. “I’m not going home until I find him, but I guess you’re right,” he muttered. “We can travel down this path for now.”

Minhee looked at Jakob and smiled a little. “Alright,” he said. “Do you think you’ll feel more relaxed when you finally find Jeriah?”

Jakob tilted his head a little. “I don’t...know,” he admitted. “I think if I know I can keep him safe, then I’ll be able to rest.”

Minhee wasn’t sure that was even going to be an option. The Wanderers had clearly meddled in something that had to do with Prudentius, and that wasn’t going to be easy to resolve. Especially since the Royals were apparently hot on the trail and they were not weaklings. Minhee was worried that Jakob might not return to his normal self for a long time.

“You know,” Minhee started. “You never acted like this before, but the Wanderers were battling evil back in the Ancient Days. Why weren’t you worried about Jeriah then?”

“I was, but things were different back then,” Jakob said. “I didn’t realize how cruel the world was until we came up against Ari, and at that point I could do nothing but try to survive and fight alongside all of you. I knew Jeriah was safer than I was. He was probably the one acting all stressed and panicked back then because he knew how much danger I was in.”

“Oh, I see,” Minhee nodded. “I’m sorry, Jakob, but I’m just trying to understand you more. I’m...trying to understand how I can help you.”

“You just need to follow me,” Jakob said. “And let me do what I have to do.”

Minhee watched him, but he wasn’t sure he could totally agree with that. He liked the Royals too, and they deserved to complete the contract they had made with Prudentius, didn’t they? Besides, guardians were intended to protect humanity and the Royals were humans. But if the Wanderers were in danger, then it felt awful to not be able to help fellow guardians.

Yes, it was a massive conundrum. But Minhee wasn’t going to be careless, he was going to be careful and try to understand as much as he could before deciding what to do. He had a feeling they would soon be faced with the Wanderers and the Royals and a side would have to be he was really going to have to think about what to do.

Perhaps he’d just follow his gut. That usually worked in the past, but he wasn’t sure if it would in this case. Jakob was very important to him, the Royals were good people that had helped them get rid of their curse and humans that deserve to be protected, and the Wanderers were ancient friends.

Life certainly wasn’t getting any easier, Minhee noted. But perhaps that was just the Fate of being a guardian. Too many difficult decisions.

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