The Five Wanderers

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Chapter 5

[Three hundred years later]

Jeriah sat quietly on the edge of a hill as he watched the landscape before him. It was a soothing sight as green grass rustled with the wind and the clouds moved across the sky that was slowly lightening. He still hadn’t gotten over the sight of the sun rising since for so many years Ari and Azi, the Immortals of the Sun, had abandoned humanity because of their jealousy towards the Monarchs. It had been hundreds of years of darkness, and seeing the sun again as it brought its own level of beauty still had him in awe. It had been four months of sunrises and sunsets and he felt certain that Ari and Azi weren’t going to stop doing their duty.

But he also knew this meant something big had happened. He’d heard rumors when passing through a small town that the Monarchs had been spotted in the city where the Descendants of the moon worshipers lived, but he hadn’t been able to find out more information. But he knew they must be back and he could only imagine they would be back at their castle.

Who had saved the Monarchs, though? Maybe Ari had just grown weak over time, but it seemed strange. Surely they couldn’t have defied all the hatred from the Descendants and the Immortals on their own.

But Jeriah was disappointed in himself, too. He had wanted to be the one to save Jakob, but he couldn’t be that person. Of course he wasn't going to wallow in self pity about not being his brother's rescuer, but he was nervous about going to find him.

He knew he wanted to see his brother again soon, but he knew it would be a risk for Jakob to be around him since he had done some things to survive the ages that weren’t exactly...good things to do. But he hadn’t known what else to do back then, and he still didn’t know what to do now.

He was living a nomads life along with his companions and they remained very quiet and away from most human towns and cities because they didn’t seem to take kindly to guardians these days. Humans had lost their trust in their guardians and Immortals, and it was understandable after all the chaos that had happened between Ari and the Monarchs. Guardians around the world had been used and exploited and eventually exiled or destroyed because of the events that had conspired three hundred years ago.

It seemed that guardians weren’t able to protect themselves very well.

“Wow,” a voice said behind him. Jeriah looked over his shoulder and saw Verity standing there and looking at the sunrise in awe. “It’s so good to see the sun every morning, huh? I’m still excited about it.” She paused for a moment and tilted her head, her hair falling across her shoulder with the motion. “Do you think the Monarchs are behind this?”

“Probably,” Jeriah nodded. “I don’t know how, but they were the ones who always had run ins with Ari.”

“Well, I’m grateful to them, then,” Verity said with a smile as she sat next to Jeriah. She was wearing a full skirt with warm leggings beneath which allowed her to kick her legs out dramatically as she stretched. “Do you want to go and find them? I know you want to see Jakob again.”

Jeriah nodded a little. “I do,” he said softly. “But I don’t think Jakob will be very proud of me after all these years.”

“Because of the Life Stone?” Verity asked, and Jeriah nodded. Verity sighed and looked up at the sky. “What else were we supposed to do? We wouldn’t have lived this long without it.”

“I know,” Jeriah muttered. “But we couldn’t even save the Monarchs for all those years. I feel like he’ll be disappointed that I took such measures to save him and couldn’t even do that.”

“Well, we got caught pretty quickly,” Verity smiled a little. “And we’ve been pursued ever since. Our life hasn’t been easy, and I’m sure Jakob could relate. Of course we did contribute to our problems, but the Monarchs would understand that, too. It’s said that the pride of the Monarchs towards Ari is what caused their conflicts to begin.”

“Being prideful is not nearly as wicked as stealing something, don’t you think?” Jeriah asked with a confused expression. “And we stole something from Prudentius. Well, I did. I’m not going to put the blame on any of you. This is entirely my fault.”

“But again, we wouldn’t be here without it. Yes, it might not have been the most ethical idea, but now we can reunite with the Monarchs,” Verity said with a small shrug. “Prudentius hasn’t sent assassins after us in five years, I think we’re safe to begin moving back towards the Monarchs castle and more civilization.”

“You really think so?” Jeriah asked. “I would like to, honestly. I want to find him. I want him to know how proud I am of him.” He smiled a little as tears welled in his eyes. “I’ve missed him a lot.”

Verity saw his emotional response and put an arm around his shoulders, hugging him into her side. “Aww, calm down,” she said. “I’m sure he’s missed you, too. Come on, let’s wake the others up and we can start traveling back towards the castle. Geez, we haven’t been there in over three hundred years...I bet it’s really overgrown and looks so different.” She slowly rose to her feet and began walking back towards the tents where they slept, and had been sleeping for weeks.

Jeriah nodded and wiped away any tears as he rose to his feet and followed Verity back to the tent. He placed a hand to his chest where a smooth stone that was held by a silver ribbon rested under his shirt. This stone was the Life Stone, an artifact that Jeriah and his companions had stolen from the Underworld a few months after witnessing the Monarchs in their cursed sleep. All of them wore the same type of stone, and it gave them extended life, but he always wondered what would happen if one day the Life Stones were taken from them.

He knew they hadn’t been hunted in a very long time, but that didn’t mean Prudentius was done with them. They were immortal as long as they had these Life Stones, and Prudentius was a patient Immortal that had many servants. Undoubtedly, Prudentius was just waiting for the right person to sucker into a contract that he could use to send after him and his friends.

Jeriah was worried about that since he felt Prudentius was waiting for someone truly powerful to send as an assassin, and he didn’t want his friends to get hurt.

But Jeriah also knew he was the main target since he had been the one to actually do the stealing. That was fine and all, he wasn’t really worried about himself, but he knew his association with his friends also kept them in danger. He was risking his companions, and anyone else he interacted with, because of the actions he committed in the past.

He was just going to have to live with that, though. He was just going to have to keep everyone safe, as he had for all these years. Together they had fought off many enemies sent by Prudentius, and they would continue to do that for as long as they had the Life Stones in their possession, but Jeriah was starting to believe that time was coming to an end.

This couldn’t last forever. Prudentius wouldn’t be patient forever. So, now his mind was plagued with thoughts on what was going to happen to him and his friends. However, he knew one thing he wanted to do before whatever end finally came to them; he wanted to see Jakob. That was all. And he knew his friends would support that goal, as they had supported him for so many years.

“I’m sorry,” Jeriah suddenly said as he stopped walking and just looked at Verity’s back.

Verity stopped and looked back over her shoulder. “Huh?”

“I’ve been so selfish all these years,” Jeriah muttered softly. “I’m sorry...I was just thinking about we’ve been living so desperately for so long simply because I wanted to survive all these years to see Jakob again. I never even asked all of you if this was what you wanted or if you wanted to live this long. I’m so sorry.”

Verity tsked and then walked over to him again. “Don’t be like this,” she said as she put a hand on his shoulder. “Why are you having regrets now? You know we have willingly supported you all of these years, and we also contributed to the theft of these Life Stones. It wasn’t just you. Jeriah, come on. I’m happy that I’ve lived to see this day, too.”

Jeriah smiled, even if there was a hint of sadness in his eyes. He hugged Verity because he couldn’t help it, and then he sniffled and rubbed his nose. “I still feel like I need to apologize to everyone, though. I want to give all of you the option of moving on, you know? If you want to,” he said. “I know you must be tired of following my manic movements all the time.”

“We’re guardians,” Verity said with a shrug. “Our lives weren’t going to be easy, even if we never stole the Life Stones. I’m never going to leave you, and I can assure you the others won’t either. So, let’s just focus on waking them up and beginning our move back to the castle so we can see the Monarchs again. That’s all we need to do right now.”

Jeriah smiled. Verity had a very calming and reassuring energy about her, and he felt confident that she was right, too. The others would react the same; they’d be excited to walk in the sunlight and excited to go and find the Monarchs. They had been lone guardians for so long, it’d be nice to see others again.

“You’re right. That’s all we need to do,” Jeriah said as he became determined again. Their journey wasn’t over. In fact, a new journey was just about to begin.

A pilgrimage back to the old places they used to know.

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