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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Write your own dream

Have you ever had a dream?

I mean something that you really HAD to do? That was how The Lost Relics began with me.

I'm so grateful to have readers, like you who have downloaded Rise of a Guardian. I hope you are finding it enjoyable.

I remember the day I decided to write a book. It had been something I'd always wanted to do, but kept using the curse word "someday". Do you ever find yourself doing that? Well, I remember sitting down in my big overstuffed brown recliner and I began writing my bestseller. It was about the Fountain of Youth. And guess what happened...nothing. I couldn't even write the first chapter, because it wasn't the right story.

I learned something after I'd spent about a month trying to force myself to write a story that just wasn't there. Sometimes you have to approach your dreams from a different direction, but you NEVER quit.

I was driving home one day from work, I was tired, discouraged and desperate to fulfill my goal. Then an image came to my mind. It was a person, a woman. She had silver eyes. Almost immediately a story began to form in my mind. A story about long forgotten realms, each with a different race of human. Each race had special talents that make up different characteristics of our minds--each using a different area of the brain.

The Lost Relics was born. Did I write it in a month--2--3--a year? No, the story took 3 1/2 years to smooth out and develop. I can't tell you how many drafts I went through, and how many beta readers saying it wasn't there yet.

The point is, what is your dream? What are you willing to do to achieve it? Would you work at it for 3 1/2 years? Five? A decade?

I hope so, because you never know what will become of it or how it will shape your life. I promise from experience fulfilling a goal you've always dreamed of is the most rewarding experience and journey, that's how I feel anyway.

People like you are making mine come true, you're like a dream master! So just some food for thought; even if writing a book isn't on your to-do list, I challenge you to stop swearing with the word "someday" and start working toward that thing, that golden nugget, you've always wanted!

I can't wait to hear about it! What is something you've always wanted to do? I love hearing the amazing things people set out do to. It just takes getting started!

All the Best,

LJ Andrews

Thursday, September 1, 2016

My week Book Launch Stats

(This image was taken at 9:30 am Sept. 1st. 113 sales by that time, and still climbing)

Well my books have been live for over a week now. I thought I would share some information on my book launch and what I've been doing to get the word out.

First off, download amounts. As of this morning around 9:30 I have a total of 443 downloads of my free book for the last 8 days. Rise of a Guardian is #2 in one of it's categories and #3 in the other. I'm very pleased with these numbers as I haven't done a ton of paid promotions. 

Steps I took to spread the word on the launch:

-Before I announced to the world I announced to my family. The night before I officially launched on the internet and social media my books were live and I sent emails to my ENTIRE family (this means cousins and aunts/uncles) I asked for their help in sharing my emails to their lists, but also my social media posts that would be occurring the following day. 

I am very blessed with supportive family and many of them responded and sent it to all their contacts. 

-Launch day: 
I announced on my blog, Facebook author page, twitter, and my personal Facebook page. I supplied every single link and I saw a lot of print books sold quickly (surprisingly) then slowly the eBooks on the various retailers (kobo, nook, iTunes) began to creep in. 

I also emailed my small but growing mailing list, specifically for my writing. I asked these people as many of them have read the book to please leave a review. I didn't get much of a response on that honestly, but I do have a great review up there that makes me smile. My family, who has purchased the books, tried to leave a review, but Amazon has found they had a connection with  me and would not allow their reviews. This is bummer, but at the same time I understand why Amazon has to monitor reviews (no one likes fake reviews)

-Today I participated in a huge mailing list promotion with other authors and my numbers are increasing by the hour. It cost $20 USD to participate and my book gets in front of hundreds of other author's mailing lists for a a period of time. I am only promoting Rise of a Guardian in this mailer. It is the free book. I am using this to hopefully get people interested in my books, not because I don't think it's worth money, but I wanted people to read the series. Trinity Rises is currently listed at $3.99.

Paid sales: They have been very little, but I have made $20.00 USD in royalties at this point and have sold about 10 of my paid books. I hope to see an increase in sales as the hundreds of free downloads have time to read Rise of a Guardian, and the hope of any author is they want to continue the series and move on to the other books. 

Tomorrow I am running a promotion with BKnights on Fiverr. I've heard excellent things about them and many of my author friends get a surge of downloads on their promotion day. This promotion cost me $10. 

I am loving this so far, although I am not an overnight millionaire, it has been so satisfying to see people actually downloading my books and finding it interesting. I hope to gather more reviews as people finish the book because reviews help authors so much to be visible. 

Here's to hoping the downloads continue and more and more people get lost in the adventure of the Lost Relics.

Happy Writing

LJ Andrews

Monday, August 22, 2016


Can you believe this day is finally here? I can't either, because it has been YEARS of work. There were many days I felt like it would never happen. It takes a lot to put your book out there. What I mean by a lot is, a lot of overcoming self doubt. This is my heart on my sleeve for other people to either LOVE (that is what I foresee) or hate...hopefully not the latter. 

I can't just sit on these books though, they need to be read by amazing readers. And now they can be!

Below I've listed every link where you can find the eBOOK links as well as a print book link for Rise of a Guardian. Trinity Rises is still in the proof stage for the print book, but it too will be available hopefully by next week in print form. 

Enjoy Rise of a Guardian for Free! Yes, I said free (eBook version).  I think you'll be happy to find a little surprise inside too with a little bit extra for you loyal readers.

All I can ask of you is to download the books and SPREAD THE WORD! That is how the best of books are found through reviews and word of mouth. I will always believe that. 

Love you all! 

Enjoy the debut release of 

The Lost Relics: Rise of a Guardian:

Friday, July 29, 2016

COVER REVEAL- Book 2 Trinity Rises

I am counting the weeks until I release Rise of a Guardian, but did you know I am also releasing BOOK 2! 

The Title is The Lost Relics: Trinity Rises and it continues the wild adventure throughout the realms with Killian and the Ponderi. The only trouble is the danger of the Trinity society is peaking. People are being attacked, deadly secrets are being unveiled and enemies must become allies!

I am so excited to not only share my first full length novel with you in August, but also it's sequel! 

So, the moment I (and hopefully you) have been waiting for the cover reveal for:


Can I just say...squee!!! I love it! My friend Debbie Cassidy is my designer and I feel she has captured the dark elements that are in the book, but also the fight for the light to push through! Rise of a Guardian is sure to get you hooked, but Trinity Rises is going to keep your heart pumping!

A few more weeks and they can both be yours!!!

Thank you for the support everyone, I hope you like the cover as much as I do.

Keep writing!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Rise of a Guardian- Chapter 5

Hello! I wanted to let you enjoy chapter 5 on this wonderful Friday evening. This will be the final chapter posting I will do on my blog. Sad? Don't be because....
August is PUBLISHING MONTH! That's right. I've been working my tail off tweaking, editing, formatting, designing...everything to get Rise of a Guardian, AND book 2, Trinity Rises ready to publish together.
I hope you have enjoyed these chapters on the blog, there are 12 more in Rise of a Guardian, so I hope you will snag a copy when it is available. I plan to offer the book free of charge (if Amazon will listen to me:) But it will be available in several different formats for every device (nook, kobo, iPad, PDF). So don't be sad the chapters are ending, because you can get the entire book soon, as well as book 2 because what's worse than waiting for a sequel?

Thank you for reading...and now here is Chapter 5:

Chapter 5

 Realm School
Lavender sunlight filtered through the thin cream colored shades and warmed Killian's face. Stretching, he couldn't remember the last time he had slept so sound. He sauntered into the bathroom and soaked for much too long in the multi faucet shower. He peered at his tattered clothing from the day before. There were still deep, burgundy stains from where the wolves mauled him and the smell was rank. Sighing, although he knew the drawers were empty, he pulled one open.
To his surprise, there were several fresh gray T-shirts, with matching gray sweat pants. Opening the enormous closet door, he found an array of tan, gray and white shirts in various lengths with similar pants. There were even three different pairs of shoes: tall, thin black boots that reminded him of riding boots, thin black sneaker looking shoes that looked so light he wondered how they would protect his feet, and a pair of comfortable looking black sandals. Jumping into the slip-on sandals, he dressed, inspecting his faded scars from the day before. He was amazed; it was almost as if mucous coated fangs had never torn his skin.
Killian looked at the large stone clock on his wall. It was late morning and he needed to speak with Nathaniel and Miller about his decision. Just as he was about to step out his door, a pounding knock caused him to jump back.
Timidly, Killian opened the door. A large young man, about his age, stood in front of him. He was dressed in similar gray clothing, but everything else on him was eccentric and colorful, just like Fia had dressed. He had bright red hair with blue tips, gold earrings in both ears, and a blue jeweled ring in his brow. But his eyes were what stopped Killian, for just as Fia, he had deep brown eyes with bright, jubilant orange flames behind the color.
"Killian Thomas?" he asked in a deep voice, hinted with a strange accent, much like Fia from the day before. The burly young man crossed his fist along his chest. It appeared to be a greeting. Killian would rather have the odd salute compared to the soft kisses Fia gave.
"Please come with me." The young visitor turned on his heel and began to walk away.
"Where? I'm not sure I should go with someone apart from Connor or the Director. Who are you and then maybe I'll come with you."
"My name is Dax. And I don't appreciate your tone, Thomas. Ponderi recruits show respect, and you seem to have little of that." The man's tan face literally appeared to let off steam.
"Excuse me? I don't know who you are and why you want me to follow you. Maybe it's just me being new here, but most people give others a little more information to go on."
The tan young man huffed and tensed his shoulders, causing the muscles in his neck to bulge. "That's what I'm here to do; I was given orders to escort you to the upper floor. I follow my orders and I expect you to follow yours."
Killian felt angry. He could feel his face scrunching up in annoyance. "What orders? I just woke up buddy, so don't come here all soldier-like telling me what to do." Dax's expression changed slightly, he seemed to believe Killian truly didn't know who he was. After a small awkward pause, a cheery ding sounded from Killian's room. Dax darted into the room with Killian shuffling behind. On the bedside table, the wooden top had lit up into a blue screen. Dax gulped and tapped the screen revealing a message. Stepping back sheepishly, Dax nodded for Killian to read the odd tabletop message.
One of our head recruits, Dax, will be coming to escort you to my office so you can inform us of your decision. Please follow him to the upper floors. Hope you slept well.
Killian turned around smugly. "So, want to try asking me to come with you again...Dax was it?"
Dax pursed his lips before turning on his heel and marching out of the room. Killian chuckled, pleased he'd brought the haughty recruit down a little bit.
The ride to the upper floor with Dax was awkward, they didn't speak. The only words Dax said to him was a reminder of which door was the office before he whizzed away in the hidden elevator.
Killian knocked hard on the thick door and was quickly met by Miller, who ushered him into the room.
“Good morning, my boy," Nathaniel bellowed in a cheerful voice. "Would you care for a hot drink? There is tea, coffee, even hot cocoa over near the window there," he said pointing to a small coffee cart. It was covered in small baskets that held various assortments of garnishes for the drinks. Killian waved a hand in refusal and sat in the same chair he had used the night before.
He shifted nervously in his seat as Nathaniel peered at him over his drink.
"I trust you slept well?" Killian nodded as the two older men sipped from their mugs.
"Are there any questions you have for us after our conversation last night?" Miller asked with a kind smile.
He wanted to ask him about the possibility of his parents being alive, but he didn't want to let on Connor had told him. Suddenly he remembered another person. "Mercedes...have you heard anything else about her. I...just want to make sure she's okay."
"Mercedes Forino is safe at home and one of our scientists has seen to it that she believes the events of yesterday were all a dream."
"What? She won't remember it was real? How?” Killian didn’t know if this was a bad thing or good thing.
“Another serum. It was given to her as she left yesterday. It’s better this way. Imagine how Miss Forino would live her life, knowing there are horrific creatures roaming the Hemisphere. She will go to her summer classes on Terrene this morning, thinking she had a horrible nightmare. Of course, as a precaution, we have two recruits keeping watch over her at a distance. It’s standard precaution since the Malumians picked up her scent as well during the attack. We are certain they won’t bother her again, however, since it seemed they were programmed to attack you.” Killian nodded, but still felt a twinge of sadness in his heart. He was grateful she was being protected, but Mercedes had touched him somehow. She had saved him from the wolf. She was the first person in a long while he felt could be trusted. Now he would simply be a memory from a nightmare to her.
Killian breathed out loudly, allowing his body to relax into the metal chair.
"Well, I suppose we should cut to the chase. Are you going to stay with us here in the Praetorium?" Nathaniel gazed over his silver mug at him.
Killian processed Connor's advice once more; he wouldn't be safe at home, there is a small chance his parents were alive, and he had to learn if Merlin's Talisman had affected him in some way by the odd power Connor's instructor had mentioned.
"I have decided to stay."
Nathaniel clapped his hands together and Miller beamed. He couldn't tell who was more pleased with his decision. "Marvelous, I cannot begin to tell you what a relief this is. You will be most valuable in the search for the Talisman, and possibly other relics." Nathaniel exclaimed.
"I don't know about that, but I'll try."
"No you don't understand Killian, you are connected with the Talisman. It will be far easier for you to find it than one of us."
"Okay, I'll go with that for now. What do I need to do?"
 "I want to enroll you in Recruit training."
"What does that mean?"
"Oh, my, you will be trained on everything. You'll learn weaponry, hand to hand combat, proper realm etiquette, oh, and of course survival skills. The different realms each house their own dangers. I want you to head down to the fifth floor, it's the training center floor. You need to go through realm school first."
"What's realm school?"
"It's just a small class covering each realm. It will explain what makes individual realms special—it’s only a few days, but beneficial. Remember how we mentioned our young members become Potentials?" Killian nodded. "You are going straight to realm school and skipping the potential period altogether. In order to find your relic you will need to be trained as a recruit."
Nathaniel sat back in his chair, noticeably tired. He held a small roll of papers in his hand that he'd pulled from his drawer. "I wish I could give you the opportunity to visit all the different departments, but you will need skills as a recruit to find your relic. So, my boy, take these orders down to the fifth floor. Forgive the paper, some things I still like to do 'old-school'. A least that's what the young people say.” Nathaniel chuckled. “I will send them your file; the information of your background. When you arrive, don't head into the recruit training door, go to the classroom next to it. Your instructors will meet you there. They will direct you on what to do after you complete the class." Nathaniel powered up his computer built into the fine marble top of his desk. The older man moved in such haste Killian knew the conversation was over, but he wanted to make them aware of one thing more.
"Sir?" Nathaniel looked up from his desk. "I...uh...well sometimes odd things happen with me. I'm wondering if it could be affects from wearing such a powerful relic for so long?" As he spoke, he had also caught Miller's undivided attention.
"What kinds of things Killian?" Miller asked.
He shifted his eyes between the two older men. "Well, sometimes I feel too much. I know it sounds strange, but it's like at times I can feel what everyone else around me is can be overwhelming and make me feel physically sick." The two men stole a quick glance to one another. Nathaniel appeared calm, but Miller looked worried. "And...and I also have had a lot of strange dreams before.  Maybe I'm over thinking it, but it's been almost like I physically go somewhere, like it's not just a dream. From what you've described of me being separated from my grandmother as a kid, I'm pretty sure I've dreamed of her and witnessed the moment I was taken." He didn't expound that he believed he had also seen her the day he was attacked. "Does she have red hair?" Miller's eyes widened and nodded slowly.
"It's been years, but yes Rhetta had cinnamon colored hair."
Nathaniel cleared his throat, almost appearing reluctant to speak further about a strange ability. "Killian, I'd like you to monitor and inform me if you experience anything strange from here on out, but don't think too much on it. These things are most likely coincidences and effects from emotional stress in your life. But I assure you if anything continues, we will follow through with neurological testing and mental simulations. Now don't worry, and please enjoy your time today with the instructors. We are so glad to have you with us, my boy."
He bristled at the rushed conversation, but nodded and stood, making his way out the brilliant doors to catch the elevator to the fifth floor.
The training floor was much colder, with none of the charm from the upper floors. The walls and floor were made of shining steel similar to the exterior of the building. Small, square windows high on the walls were the only source of light along the cool hallway. Walking on the smooth steel, Killian saw an unmanned desk nestled against the back wall in front of a large double door. Approaching the two doors, Killian could make out the black, bold lettering "Recruit Training" directly over the doorframe. Off to the side he noted the classroom. Opening the door, he saw the room filled with three people huddled in a circle speaking to one another. When the door creaked open, they all turned to face him.
One woman had long black hair and glowing silver eyes. She smiled at Killian revealing faint lines in the corners of her lips. She must smile a lot. Another woman with bluish-purple hair tipped red gazed at him. Her eyebrows were completely made up of gold piercings, along with both nostrils. All the eccentric piercings were shadowed by her flame-red lipstick that accentuated her lips. The third was a pink-cheeked man. He wore a blue bandana on his head that held his long white hair out of his face. It was easy to figure he had one instructor from each of the main realms. Although each instructor was dressed in bland, gray or brown uniforms, each one had added something to differentiate themselves from the others. The Cimmerian woman had a dark ebony necklace filled with sparkling stones around her neck. The Ignisian woman had a colorful, yet attractive, scarf tied fashionably around her neck, and, of course, the Glacien had a similar sash around his waist just as ancient Cornelis had worn.
"Hello, Killian. Nathaniel said you would be attending realm school this afternoon. We're so pleased to have you join us," the Cimmerian said. Her voice was whimsical and enchanting, like a whispered song.
"You guys get messages quick here," Killian chuckled.
The woman nodded. "My name is Sasha, as you can see, I am from Cimmerian. This is Serefina, she is from Ignisia.” The bright haired woman smiled excitedly at him and waved as she took a few short steps toward him, planting a soft kiss on his cheek. "And finally, this gentleman is Janus. He comes to us from Glaciem." The kind faced man smiled at Killian and bent low at the waist. The customs of the Ponderi were strange, though perhaps each realm had their own cultural greetings.
"Please have a seat," Sasha said, ushering him with her hand. Killian followed her direction and found a soft chair in the center of the room.
"I suppose I will begin the lesson. This class is to simply give you an idea of each distinguishing factor in the three main realms. It will help you if you are a Custodis to understand what is important and special about each culture, does that make sense?"
Killian shook his head. “What’s a Custodis?”
The teachers glanced at one another before Sasha spoke. “Nathaniel didn’t tell you what a Custodis was?” Killian shook his head. “Strange. Your father was a Custodis. Killian we assume you were told our society is full of different talents and jobs right?”
“Yes, Nathaniel briefly mentioned something about young kids being Potentials in different departments.”
“True,” Janus said taking over dialogue. His voice was soft and calm, yet carried a brash Scandinavian accent. “Ve have many areas of employment. To name a few ve have engineers, medical staff, chefs, analysts and scientists, Bestians, recruits and finally Custodis recruits. I’m sure you can figure out vat most of zose departments control, but since you’ll be joining the recruits ve’ll discuss zat department.”
“The recruits are in charge of realm defense, and defense of the Praetorium. If there were ever an unlikely combat situation our recruits would lead us. They are skilled in many different areas,” Serefina explained.
“Nathaniel told me about weapons and combat training. It seems like a soldier.”
“In a way they are. But Custodis recruits, those are the realm jumpers.”
Killian scrunched his face and got lost in Serefina’s gold facial jewelry.
Sasha cleared her throat. “Custodis are the only recruits that travel through the track systems to other realms. In your forms here,” she said looking at the rolled paper, “it seems Nathaniel suspects you may be a Custodis too.”
“They want me to travel to the other realms?” Killian was flabbergasted.
“If you are able, not everyone can be a Custodis. Only certain blood types can link with the track system. If everyone could jump the tracks would eventually use too much energy and collapse.” Janus said simply. “Does our explanation answer your question?” Killian nodded slowly, unsure if he understood anything that had happened in the last twenty-four hours.
"Alright, let's begin." Sasha opened a case and pulled out what looked like a fluorescent light tube. She pressed a small silver button and immediately the walls in the room burst into enormous holographic screens. It was as if the room had formed a bubble around him and every direction was allowing him to experience a new realm. Killian gawked in awe as he saw two magnificent moons above him as the ceiling transformed into a brilliant night sky. One burst in ghostly pink light, while the second, smaller moon was a peaceful blue. An earthy smell filled his nose, the smell of twilight mixed with a fresh breeze.
 "Cimmerian—or the magic realm—is the last Monarchy," Sasha began, waving her arms around the impressive screens. "The Queen's name is Maurelle, and she leads the Cimmerian people today. She comes from a grand line of wonderful leaders." Killian saw a stunning woman walk the surrounding, black stone streets. He could hear the bustle of the busy shops and the queen's steps. She had flowing ebony hair and floated amongst her people with a regal grace. Every sparkling diamond sewn into her impressive purple gown glimmered in the moonlight and reflecting off her pale, flawless skin. She seemed so real, as if she were in the room with him. Killian locked onto her silver eyes that swirled like brilliant stars. She was truly one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen.
"Of course it's not necessary for you to know her lineage, only that her father was Claec."
Killian tore his gaze away from the beautiful queen. "Wait, Claec? The ancient ruler...he lived like hundreds of years ago, how can his daughter still be alive?"
Sasha smiled. "Killian not every realm ages the same. Cimmerian's have the longest lifespan, and we count our years in seasons, three seasons make up one of your years. We can live for thousands of seasons. Queen Maurelle has been alive for nearly seven centuries according to Terrenian time." Killian didn't know how to react; he didn't know if this was even possible. The Queen looked close to his age, but she was seven-hundred- years-old! Sasha didn't wait for him to process the astronomical age difference, she continued with her lesson. "Each realm has their own language, but since the Ponderi's birth most have learned James Thomas's common language."
"English?" Killian verified, understanding why everyone had unique accents. Sasha nodded, smiling.
"You were told Claec lost his position as Grand Master and the Ponderi was formed under his rule, correct?" Killian nodded. Sasha smiled and continued. "Cimmerian's are a proud people and treasure their magic. I admit personally it's been hard for me not to summon my abilities. It is ingrained within us, but it's for the better good we don't. There is danger with magic. Remember these terms—Summoning, Binding, Extracting."
The images surrounding him altered to nothing more than the beautiful Cimmerian sky, glittered with pink, purple, blue, and white stars.
 "These are the three spells Cimmerian's are experts at. Let me first explain summoning. A Cimmerian has the ability to summon unprotected artifacts or objects. It is very helpful if you need to find something and of course, it can make a person rather lazy." Sasha chuckled as if she were referring to herself. Killian smiled along with the other instructors.
“What do you mean unprotected?” He asked.
“Well, if something is hidden by a spell or highly guarded in multiple ways, summoning would not be able to access the object,” Sasha explained.  Killian thought of the relics. It would make it much easier if a Cimmerian could simply summon one of the artifacts, but he was certain they all were heavily guarded. "Now for this class I've been given permission to provide an example. I may be a little rusty, so bear with me."
Sasha focused hard at one of the desks in the back of the room, with a loud crack the desk evaporated and reappeared in front of the room on its side. Sasha's lips turned down into a frown.
"Wow!" Killian was astounded. "That was amazing. Miller and Nathaniel said there was magic, but I...I never could imagine something like that." Sasha waved a hand in front of her, blushing at his praise.
"If I was practicing regularly, the spell would be silent, I could summon from a different room, and it wouldn't land in an atrocious way—you get the idea, though." She quickly corrected the desk and continued her lesson. "Do you have any questions so far about Cimmerian?" Killian shook his head. "Right. The other two charms are more dangerous and can unintentionally cause harm, so I won't be demonstrating. Binding," An image of a Cimmerian appeared in front of him. The person crouched over another laying on a black tabletop, "is connecting another ability with your own.  This is often used to keep unique traits within families. For example, as a family member begins to pass away, the living relative may bind the dying's power with their own. It adds upon one another. The Royal family is one of the longest in our history, so Maurelle, in theory, would be the most powerful person in the Hemisphere if she had bound powers to herself from her family. Binding is not public knowledge, we can only speculate whether she has bound her loved one's powers to her or not. A person may also bind their energy and power to someone who is ill, or requires healing. It can greatly help someone in a dire state of health. This form of binding takes great skill, and I would wager Maurelle may be one of the few skilled enough to successfully do it. Our queen is powerful. We are blessed to have her—she generously uses her abilities to better Cimmerian and other realms." The other two instructors nodded their agreement.
"She is generous," Janus said quietly.
"The last spell is Extracting," Sasha said as two more Cimmerians seemed to appear in the room. "This is tricky and caused a lot of problems during the Terrene Venture. The basic principle is: a Cimmerian may forcibly extract another's powers, memories, illnesses, or even their life. It can be performed on any race. During the Terrene Venture this power is what others experimented with creating harmful, fatal mutations." Killian saw one of the projected Cimmerians place their hand upon the chest of the other. A brilliant, white light pierced the screen until the second collapsed at the feet of the extractor. As the images faded, he imagined the silver-eyed warriors stepping onto the battlefield. While the opponent raised their sword, the Cimmerian simply sucked their life away.
"But of course," Sasha continued, interrupting his thoughts, "many of these spells were corrupted during the venture. They are rarely used now." Sasha seemed sad her beloved abilities had to be so closely guarded. Killian felt sad for her.  She seemed like she would be someone who would use them for the benefit of others.
"A few last Cimmerian points I'll explain. To most, Cimmerian is also named the dark realm. You see my gorgeous eyes," she teased. Killian smiled, "they are accustomed to see in dim lighting. Anything brighter than this room I would have to wear protective glasses. It would feel as if my eyes were being burned."
"Why is it so dark?" Killian asked.
"Cimmerian doesn't have a sun. We have two moons instead, as you see above you." Sasha beckoned to the ceiling as the unique moons appeared again on the invisible screen. "We grow many plants that would shrivel under sunlight. Emerald Fruit is our most valued crop. It has healing properties.  In fact, Connor's salve he put on your cuts when you arrived has Emerald Fruit extract," she said proudly. "Our largest moon is nicknamed the Pink Giant, or as Cimmerian's call it, the sharing moon. As I said, Cimmerian is divided into three seasons: light season, harvest, and the dark season. In Terrene measurements, I've been told you would say each season was four moths."
"Do you mean months?" Killian chuckled.
"Oh, I always miss that word." Sasha grimaced. "Anyway, during the dark season the Pink Giant disappears from the Cimmerian sky and naturally offers more light to the other two main realms. This happens to fall during their growing seasons. The extra light from our moon creates healthy crops for Glaciem and Ignisia. Everything is balanced." She finished.
"If it's so balanced why did the ancient leaders want to create the Earth...I mean Terrene?" The three instructors shifted slightly, thinking of how to answer. Janus spoke, his voice barely above a whisper.
"There is an ancient balance of the realms. However, there were many difficulties negotiating with the realm people. Many needs were left unaddressed simply because of the distance of the realms. So the idea was to create a place where everyone could live. That is why the Ponderi, in today’s world, have provided an added balance. They have provided the solution to ancient problems without joining Terrene. It is almost like a train system you would have on Terrene. The Praetorium is the station. Anything that needs addressing is brought to the Praetorium, and sent to the needy realm by way of the ‘track’, or portals Custodis pass through.” He said making quotations with his fingers.
“I guess that makes sense,” Killian concluded.
Well, I suppose I may begin the Glaciem lesson, of course unless you have further questions for Sasha?” Janus said motioning to the Cimmerian. Killian shook his head. “Perfect. Killian, you may liken Glaciem’s environment to your territory of Alaska, I’m told it is called, but in some parts it may feel like the territory of  your arctic circle.” The holographic room shifted in a cold blast of air. The earthy smell was replaced with the fresh, salty smell of an ocean. Killian’s skin prickled against the breeze and he noticed how Serefina closed her eyes, obviously uncomfortable in the cold. 
“The glaciers,” Janus continued, “bring forth fierce winds that are violent and well below freezing temperatures. If a Terrenian were to step into our coldest canyons wearing their thickest protective gear, they would freeze to death in moments.”
“How could anyone survive living there if it gets so cold?” Killian asked staring at Janus’s wind burned cheeks.
“Our bodies have adapted over time. Our greatest evolutionary aspect is our hot-blood.”
“You mean warm-blood?”
Janus shook his head slowly. “No, Glaciens are hot-blooded. It helps us maintain regular body temperatures that other races cannot tolerate.” Killian's eyebrows scrunched together in disbelief. Janus gave a soft laugh at his expression. “I understand it is strange to you, but it's true. Even Terrenians have some remnant of hot-blood. That is why some people on Terrene prefer the colder climates.”
Now, Glaciens can adapt to any other realm too, except Ignisia,” He said giving Serefina a quick nod. “Ignisia’s sun is too much for us. We could survive in Cimmerian though we would be blind as bats in their dark areas, and Terrene, we would find comfortable.” Janus pressed the button on the tube changing the holograph to an image of a beautiful glacier dotted forest; Killian could feel the drip of freezing water rolling from the trees. It was amazing, and so real—but so impossible all at once. There were bright icy mountains, but they were littered with tall pines. Below Killian recognized the green sea he’d seen in the painting in the upper hallway.
“I will describe two points about Glacien culture. We have certain abilities that make us beneficial during unrest.” As he spoke, Killian felt himself slouching in his chair. His muscles seemed to relax—this chair is so comfortable, he thought to himself.
His mind drifted away from Janus’s soothing voice. Instinctively, he wanted to think about what made him happy—what brought him peace. The green Glaciem sea filled his mind. It was calm and the sound of small waves made him feel such serenity. A pair of emerald eyes were next to him—Mercedes. In his mind, she sat next to him, laughing and throwing small shells into the peaceful water.
"Killian—Mr. Thomas," Janus's voice broke through his daydream. "How do you feel at this moment?"
Killian sat up straight, he could feel the heat rising in his cheeks. He was mortified to have dozed off, dreaming about Mercedes, whom he would most likely never see again.
"I am so sorry, sir. I don't know why I dozed so quickly, I—"
Janus interrupted Killian with a surprisingly loud laugh. The man's face was red when he finally caught his breath. "Forgive me, Mr. Thomas, I haven't put someone into such a relaxed state in such a long while. I wasn't sure if the demonstration would work. It appears I still have my touch."
"Demonstration? What are you talking about?" Killian asked feeling more embarrassed.
"Glaciens, Mr. Thomas, are experts in meditation, relaxation and focus. In stressful moments, we can actually place people in a relaxed state of mind. Of course, it takes particular skills to reach that level of mental control. Glaciens who choose this route, choose it as a profession. They must attend rigorous training to reach their mastered calm state of mind. Not every personality is suited for it. I went through the training as a young adult—it filled five rotations, or years as you call them, of my life. So that is the equivalent of fifteen years on Terrene." Killian's mouth dropped at the length of study the man had accomplished.
"You're like a Zen Master," he said.
"I'm afraid I'm not familiar with that term, but if it means peace and focus, then Zen Master it is." Janus smiled as the room shifted to the salty waters of the green sea. Killian felt the spray of waves on his face, each restful swell added to his yearning to travel to this realm as soon as possible. Janus's voice broke through his relaxation once more.
"Now, the other point I'd like to focus on is the Glaciem contribution. Glaciem has the purest resources available in the Hemisphere. We provide healthy nutrition for all varieties of plants; we work with all manner of animal life as well. In simple terms, Glaciens provide the seeds for all realms. Even Emerald Fruit seedlings are washed and tended in Glaciem before being transported to Cimmerian. Our blue pebbles are sent to each realm to place into their bodies of water. The pebbles provide a cleansing reaction ensuring all water is fresh and pure for other races to drink." Janus scooped his hand into the green water and scooped up several holographic translucent blue stones. Though Killian knew they weren’t really in his hand, they glimmered like sapphires against the water.
"But how can your realm be compatible with the other realms?" Killian asked. Janus appeared confused by the question. "I mean, wouldn't Emerald Fruit only grow in Cimmerian? Wouldn't your pebble things melt in Ignisia if it's so hot?"
"We don't grow the plants, we prepare the seedlings. Glaciens have a way with plants, we focus the seedlings on their purpose so they provide suitable crops. We cleanse and protect the new seeds from infection or poisons in the soils. And yes, actually our blue pebbles do melt in Ignisia. But when they dissolve they release the minerals needed to cleanse the dust and sand from the water. It also gives Ignisia's water the most stunning blue color you've ever seen." Janus finished proudly. "Any other questions before I turn the time over to Serefina? Main take away points: Glaciem is the soul behind life in the realms, and we are Zen Creatures." Killian laughed as Janus finished.
"Zen Masters." Janus shrugged and chuckled before moving aside for Serefina to step forward.
“Killian Thomas!” she shouted excitedly, “I am thrilled to teach you about my realm!" The cold was instantly replaced by a dry, dessert heat. Killian began feeling uncomfortable as each minute passed.
"I gather that," Killian said as Serefina brought her nose to almost touching his. She beamed at him.
"Ignisia is a powerful, proud realm. We have provided light and heat since the Hemisphere’s beginning. Though Ignisian’s can’t calm or practice magic, we are skilled fighters." The walls filled with lines of eccentric, colorful people shooting metal bows, clashing swords, and throwing spears. "Our strength has made us masters of battle for millennia.” Serefina pulled out two shimmering gold daggers from a thin leather belt around her waist. Killian hadn’t even noticed the weapons during the entire class. Serefina suddenly spun in a furious circle, spinning several times, before releasing the brilliant weapons with a ferocious cry. The daggers sliced through the air at an amazing speed, before slamming with such force into two leather squares tacked on the wall, Killian heard the ding of the gold hitting the steel behind the patches. He let out a long whistle at the impressive marksmanship.
“As I said, Ignisians are a proud people Killian,” she continued. “We pride ourselves on our ancient tribal bonds. We have one tribal leader for the entire realm. Young Ignisians are schooled on battle strategies and fighting techniques before they utter their first word.” Serefina smiled at Killian’s stunned expression.
“Yes, Killian it’s true. We are fierce warriors.  Neighboring realms avoid conflict with Ignisians at all cost.”
“Ignisians are also very humble if you can’t tell,” Sasha teased. Serefina laughed.
“Ah, Sasha you only tease because I have conquered you on the training field for ninety seasons—three decades in Terrenian time Killian.” Serefina smiled while Sasha scoffed in the corner.
“One main point to remember about Ignisia is: the realm becomes uncomfortably warm to most other races." The images shifted on the holographic walls to a beautiful dessert dotted with brilliant blue ponds as Janus had promised. Killian could smell fabulous scents from dessert flowers and watched as a small blue lizard -like creature with two heads and large black eyes, padded near his face on the wall.
 "The realm is made from fine ruby sands with beautiful oasis’, but it is a vast desert. Ignisian’s have adapted and live quite comfortably. We are masters of heat and are responsible for the development of each realm’s sun, or moons in Cimmerian’s case. We’ve helped shape the light so their realms flourish. If there is ever a problem with their fires, suns or any light or heat source, Ignisians can tolerate the extreme temperatures to repair the issues."
Light is our life, Killian. We dress brightly to honor our source of existence— fire, light and heat are beautiful and sacred to Ignisians. Without our expertise and services the other realms would fall into cold and darkness—the hemisphere would ultimately die.” Serefina finished with such fervor Killian pulled back from her intense flaming eyes.
“Well, I suppose that’s a good reason to have some pride,” Killian teased.
“I wholeheartedly agree,” Serefina said. Her bright smile caused all her piercings to glimmer in the overhead lighting—the gold jewelry cast a gilded hue over her tan skin. Killian stared at each instructor. They were all so different, yet he could see how they each made such valuable contributions. The more he observed the different races, the more he saw traces of evidence on Earth that each realm had once been a part of its creation. It felt like, for the first time, things were beginning to make sense.
"So just so I'm on the same page," he began, "Cimmerian is magic, dark, shares their moon, and grows healing plants?" Sasha smiled and nodded. "Glaciem is full of peace and Zen, and they purify all the plant and water sources so things can grow and people have fresh water?"
"Correct," Janus answered.
"Ignisia is a dessert, that has an awesome control over light and heat. You guys build suns and are unbeatable fighters." Serfina bobbed her head up and down, causing her jewelry to clang together. Her excitement was bubbling over making Killian chuckle.
“Killian, the purpose of this course is to teach that each realm is crucial to the balance of the Hemisphere. We contribute in our own unique ways and for centuries, with the Ponderi’s help, have found peace with our roles,” Sasha said, repackaging the light bar and the walls instantly faded from the beautiful dessert to the boring steel walls.
“What about the issue with Earth…I mean Terrene? What will happen to the realms if Terrene is destroyed by the relics?” Killian asked softly.
The instructors glanced at each other for a moment before Janus spoke. “It is a real problem—that is true. Since Terrene is still a part of the Hemisphere, if the worst should happen, we don't know how it would affect the rest of us. You will learn more in training, but our Custodis recruits, realm jumpers, are valuable in assisting us to resolve that issue. Killian, if you are anything like your relatives I believe you will be a valuable recruit.” Sasha and Serefina nodded in agreement with Janus.
“I wish I could learn more about my relatives,” he said sarcastically.
“All in good time Killian. You will have many of your questions answered here in the Praetorium.”
“That’s what they keep telling me.”
Serefina stepped to the steel door leading out of the classroom. “Killian, it’s time for our midday meal.” She informed him as she headed toward the door. "If you are hungry take the elevator to the third floor. The entire floor is the dining area, we’re sure you’ll find something you enjoy eating.” She smiled.
Killian nodded, suddenly focusing on his wrenching stomach. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d eaten. Because of oversleeping that morning, he’d missed breakfast, and last night after he’d arrived he hadn’t even thought to eat. He thanked each instructor. He was surprised to find how fascinated he was during each brief lesson. The realms were mysterious and, in his opinion, each one was magical in their own way. After the first realm school lesson he admitted traveling to the realms sounded thrilling. He mentally stored a reminder to ask the instructors how you learned if you were one of the Custodis recruits; the realm jumpers. He left the cool classroom with the strange hope that soon he’d be visiting each one of the mystic realms.
“Killian! Finally, I found you!” A familiar voice shook him from his thoughts.  Blake was running toward him waving. His dirty blond hair was shorter, revealing the two-moon tattoo even more on his neck. Killian’s eyes widened. Blake was wearing two gold rings in each ear. He’d never seen earrings on him before. Forgetting about the added accessories he smiled widely at his friend.
“Blake! Man, I feel like I haven’t seen you in forever, where have you been? You bring me to this crazy place then disappear,” Killian teased, but also had a hint of seriousness.
“Sorry. I was told to leave you to Miller and Nathaniel for a few days. I wanted to be there the whole time, thinking that seeing a familiar face would help, but they said they needed to help orient you.”
“Well you were right, it would’ve been nice.”
 “I know, I'm sorry.  I've been dying to see how you've been adjusting, but your here now. I'm starving and I'm ready to hear everything you've been told. So, I’m heading up for the midday meal, let’s go. You’re going to freak when you see the dining hall. No more prison food for you my friend.”
Blake pressed his hand against the steel wall to signal the elevator. He was obviously brimming with excitement at what Killian was going to experience.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Chapter 4- The Lost Relics

It has been a crazy little while, so I apologize for the delay on Chapter 4. I hope you enjoy it and are finding the story entertaining! 


      Chapter 4

The Two Master's Tale

"Killian Thomas! I cannot express how thrilled, just thrilled we are to see you here...and safely I might add." The man chuckled cheerfully. "We've been looking forward to speaking with you for so long. My how you have grown." The man seemed so excited he could scarcely contain himself as he fussed over Killian.
He helped Killian sit in a small wooden chair. He swiftly clamored to an enormous wooden desk, the top of which was covered in the same beautiful marble as the hallway. He propped one thin knobby hip onto the corner of the remarkable desk, then simply beamed across the room at Killian from atop the perch.
Killian met his gaze for a moment. The man was incredibly dressed in an expensive- looking burgundy vest, perfectly tailored for his shape. He wore a crisp white button down shirt that boasted a pair of cufflinks neatly shaped in the form of two stars. His black shoes were polished and reflected the bright sunlight that had filled the magnificent room as it lowered into the greenish-purple sky. 
Behind the desk and the enthusiastic man, an enormous glass window allowed the incredible sunset to pour in across the carpeted floor. As Killian marveled at the room, a large red office chair that was placed behind the desk, swiveled around toward him. A man with a short, perfectly trimmed black beard smiled at him. He looked familiar to Killian, but he knew he had never met someone before who dressed so fine. He had dressed in a similar style to his counterpart, albeit his vest and shirt were a smooth black, matching his beard. The few streaks of gray in his short, dark hair stood out against the darkness of his attire and added to his sophistication. He looked younger than the first man, but his face showed signs of age and stress.
"Killian! Welcome, we are sure you have many questions for us," the man said in a formal tone. Killian slowly nodded, glancing back and forth between the two men. "Perhaps we should begin by telling you who we are, and I think you will be most interested in learning how important you are to...well all of us."
"Killian, you don't recognize us, but we have known you since your infancy. We have kept you under watchful eye. I am Miller and this is Nathaniel." The man with the mustache pointed, first to himself than to the second dark-haired man. "Nathaniel is the Director, I am the Regent, or second in command here. We knew we would see you once again, but we had no idea when. We're sorry for the unfortunate circumstances that brought you here." Miller finished, rubbing his fingers over his mustache.
Killian shifted his eyes between the two men. He was unnerved that people had been somehow watching him his entire life. Shifting his thoughts, he had many questions for these strange men. Nothing made any sense to him.
"First, we'd like to let you know your prison sentence has been eradicated," Miller said.
"What?" Killian choked out. "What do you mean eradicated?"
"It's done.  You're not a fugitive. In fact, the prisons have no record of you ever being there. Weren't you concerned there may be a warrant from your abrupt escape from your work crew?" Miller raised his eyebrows. Killian's face blushed.  So much had happened and Brooks' work crew was the furthest thing from his mind.
"Honestly, I hadn't even thought about it. I'm not sure how you could dissolve my charges and sentence, though."
"Ah, well perhaps over time we may show you many unique aspects we house here in the Praetorium," dark-haired Nathaniel said. "Now, do you have any pressing questions you need answered?" He smiled kindly at Killian from his handsome chair.
“Where are we?” he asked with a sigh. Exhaustion from the stressful experience was beginning to seep through his body. All he wanted was truthful, straight answers and a place to sleep.
Nathaniel stood and held a small silver rod toward the grand window. Immediately the brilliant glass dimmed to a tinted black. “Killian, your earth, or Terrene as we call it is not alone in the universe." Nathaniel began tracing the rod in the air. As he moved his hand shapes and symbols formed on the tinted window. He pointed to one large circle in the center. "The Praetorium is nestled directly in the center of all realms. It’s not part of any realm, but forms the balance between them. It is a neutral ground, so basically we are in a limbo,” he explained. “In fact you can liken it to the Sun you see on Terrene, just like your planets, the four realms orbit around the Praetorium.” Nathaniel drew four lines from the Praetorium circle to four smaller circles. He labeled them strange names before pocketing the small rod and turning toward Killian.  
“Who are you?” he finally asked.
"The Ponderi is an organization that maintains order, upholds the laws of Cimmerian, Glaciem, Ignisia and Terrene. The realms. We defend the safety, cultures and freedoms of all the races. There are millions of people throughout the Hemisphere you don't know about."
"You keep saying Hemisphere? I thought this was called the Praetorium."
"The Hemisphere is the grand universe each realm, including the Praetorium limbo, is in. Each realm has their own small solar system, but the Hemisphere encompasses everything."
Killian didn't respond. His head was spinning.
"Our society is very similar to what you were raised in. People who live in the Praetorium with us have employment according to their different skills. Our children attend school much like the ones you attended until they are eight, from then on they become Potentials in departments throughout the Praetorium. Potentials will be trained and taught in various talents." Nathaniel smiled kindly at him, bringing Killian to the realization he was subconsciously shaking his head in disbelief.  "Killian, you will find that things you once thought fantasy are in fact real." Nathaniel looked at him, his eyes blazing with truth.
Killian stared at the greenish orb through the magnificent window that had lost the tinted color. He wondered to himself why the sun was so strange, if it even was a sun. After several silent moments he pushed the irrelevant thought aside and mustered up the nerve to ask the question plaguing his mind.
"You said you've known me since I was young, so you must know my family. Who are they...where are they?" Killian asked, looking away from Miller and back to Nathaniel. Nathaniel leaned back into the padded red chair and crossed his leg over his knee.
"Killian, I wonder if our tale may be better received if you could see what we are about to tell you." He said it in a way that hinted he knew something Killian didn't. He promptly stood from the chair and made three long strides to a small end table placed cozily next to an overstuffed sofa. From the drawer, Nathaniel retrieved a small, brown vile with a thick, clear liquid swirling inside.
 "What do you mean see?" Killian questioned as Nathaniel brought the small vile toward him.
"Killian, the Ponderi have always been masters of design," Nathaniel said proudly. "We have many amazing, and useful tools available to us. This is one of them." Holding the vile out for Killian to see, he sat on a small stool Miller had pulled next to Killian's chair. "This particular tool is called Supraserum. It is a serum designed to share information across realms and councils. You can imagine that passing information across such distances can, at times, blur the message. This beautiful serum allows the message receiver to see the tale that is being recited to them. This way nothing is left out."
"This will allow you to see the events that we have seen, people we have encountered, and tales we have been told. It's lovely and so advanced in its technology. With the serum you may look upon events that you may not have been able to remember otherwise." Miller chimed in, giving Killian a melancholy glance.
"I don't understand how that's possible. I can see things from the past?" Killian asked.
"Yes. The serum connects with the neurotransmitters of the story teller," Nathaniel said pointing to himself, "then it connects to the one listening. The information will play out right before your eyes like a video. There is a great history before our time that is valuable to helping you understand our world."
"Would you like to give it a go?" Miller asked, excitedly. Killian shrugged, then giving a nod of consent, he turned to speak to Nathaniel.
"Is this like time travel?"
"Oh my dear boy, not at all," Nathaniel chuckled, a light European accent coming through his voice. "You will not leave this room. Perhaps you will understand as we begin." Nathaniel silenced any further questions from Killian.
 He watched as Nathaniel unscrewed the top of the vile. The lid revealed a dropper that was coated in the liquid. First, Nathaniel tilted his own head back, holding the dropper over his eye. He gave it a slight shake causing several drops of the serum to fall. He blinked several times while the thick serum spread over the surface of his eye. Satisfied the serum was adequately coated, he turned toward Killian.
 Nathaniel tilted Killian's forehead back and held the sticky tube over his eye. He shook the small dropper causing a cascade of falling drops to gush in. He repeated the same steps in the other eye before twisting the top back onto the vile.
 The serum was not a pleasant feeling. It crept from uncomfortable warmth to a frigid frost coating his eyes. His brain hurt from the chilly temperature and it seemed to be seeping into the crevices of his mind. After several moments, the thick potion absorbed into his eyes and the discomfort subsided.
"You will know that what we say is true," Nathaniel stated. "This serum was designed with a defense mechanism to distinguish liars and traitors among us. If the images dim and fade, you can be certain the tale being told is untrue. Are you ready?" Killian nodded, looking at the faces of the two men.
"First I would like to tell you of the four realms and the beginning days of the Ponderi." Killian saw Nathaniel in front of him, but was astonished to see in the corner of the room other images coming into focus. Before him he saw a group of men, dressed in old fashioned clothing—some were dressed in very strange clothing—standing in line in front of a pale man. The man had long black hair, with shimmering silver streaks throughout. His hair was pulled back tightly in a low ponytail. His eyes were like nothing Killian had ever seen. They gleamed in a shocking silver color, almost glowing in their paleness.
The walls of the office seemed to fade into the background, and Killian found himself completely immersed in the scene where the mysterious people were. The group of men stood on bright green grass, fresh after a rainstorm. The atmosphere was cloudy and damp and Killian could feel the chill in the air as if he were with the men. The circle of huddled men was surrounded with large structural stones placed strategically in a circle. The stones were thick and rectangular; some were bridged together by other large stones. Sitting on a pile of throne-like boulders, the silver-eyed man glared out among the crowd.
"Wait...isn't that...what is it England?"
Nathaniel nodded. "You'll learn the Stonehenge structure served a great purpose for the realms— watch." He directed Killian's attention back to the ghostly images in the room. The unique silver eyes glared at the men in front of him menacingly as one man stepped forward to address him.
"Terrene is the youngest realm. This story takes place when the other three realms were under the rule of a Grand Master named Claec. He was from Cimmerian, a mystical land full of magic. They live in shadows and darkness, but it is a land of beauty and is very valuable to the balance of our world. You’ll learn the specifics of each realm at a later date. The man with silver eyes is Claec." Nathaniel explained obviously connecting to Killian's visual experience. "Thousands of years ago, the realm people desired to create one realm where they could live in a united group. Ancient leaders in Cimmerian developed the idea of  a realm with all different climates for each unique person to live."
The people called it the Terrene Venture. They wanted a unified community where resources were available to all, without traveling through three different solar systems to address problems. Cimmerian was placed at the helm of the project.  It was their leader's suggestion, but also they were the only ones with the magical abilities to begin the world formation."
"Magic, different realms? Seriously, it sounds like I've stepped into the Twilight Zone," Killian said.
Nathaniel chuckled. "In a way you have, my boy. At this moment you are seeing, the Terrene Venture was almost complete, the only step that remained was to merge Terrene into the Hemisphere. For several years prior to this setting, however, there had been corruption."
 As we've explained, Cimmerians are magical. They are strong in their spells so naturally they were the leaders. But it went to the extreme.  Claec had placed Cimmerians above everyone and kept valuable resources from the other people. Other races besides Cimmerians lived in squalor during the final years of the venture."
The people were afraid to question Cimmerian authority, though there had been challengers. A rumor had formed—a man from the realm of Glaciem had developed a formula to create a power that could rival the magic of Cimmerians. He used science to battle magic."
"Well, what happened?" Killian asked after Nathaniel paused.
"From what we know, the formula was successful...for a while. The man disappeared, but the damage was done. His successful formula convinced people from other realms that magic had become a means to enslave the people to the will of the Cimmerians. They also had been given a way to combat the rule of Cimmerian magic—by using science and their own designs. So of course, there were contentions that were quickly becoming violent.” Killian watched as the projected images ignited into vicious altercations, each unique race against another. The smell of the room had a dingy metallic smell of fresh blood. “James Thomas, founder of the Ponderi, introduced the idea that the realms were designed to govern themselves and their own people, and together the realms would work to bring balance to the Hemisphere. They would each add value through their own governments," Miller said smiling at Killian's furrowed brow. "Due to the uprisings, Thomas was suggesting returning the realms to their original systems, but also to create a society to be the mediator between the realms. He hoped the mediating society would extinguish previous problems with distribution and help meet the needs of all the people." 
 “Wait, James Thomas?” Killian asked. Miller smiled and nodded confirming the relation of their last names. “Connor mentioned the Thomas family founded the Ponderi.”
“It’s true. Now, at this great council meeting with the people on the Terrene Venture, James Thomas provided testimony from realm leaders from Ignisia, Glaciem, even Cimmerian.” Killian observed as the three projections floated mysteriously in front of him. One was a burly, tanned man with vibrant orange hair and a matching beard. He was bare chested and looked angry. A peaceful looking man stood next to him with billowing white hair, but a young face. His long white robes looked angelic with a brilliant blue and gold sash fastening them around his body. The third man had long black hair and fascinating silver eyes, just like the leader, Claec.
“Killian the man you see with the orange hair was chief of Ignisia. The man in the white robe is Emperor of Glaciem. Both testified of Claec’s greed. They explained no resources were being sent to the people remaining on Glaciem and Ignisia preparing to move to Terrene. Their people were dying because Claec was sending all resources to Cimmerian. Claec was turning into a dictator; he was going against everything the Terrene Venture stood for, unity and peace.”
“What about the silver-eyed man, he looks like Claec.”
“Ah, yes. He is most important to our story. You may recognize his name, Merlin of Cimmerian.
"Merlin? You don't expect me to believe he's the wizard from the King Arthur legends do you?" he asked.
"The one and the same! After this council meeting, he fled the Venture for his life for betraying Claec." Nathaniel smiled.  “The legends of Merlin come from reports of his oddities during the venture. He was a powerful Cimmerian. He performed works people on Terrene had never witnessed before. He is the foundation for all Terrene's ideas and legends of magic.”
Killian rolled his eyes. This was beginning to drift between absurd and delusional. He watched Merlin square his shoulders and face Claec. Behind the image of Claec, a dark man seethed.
“You see Claec’s brother now, Rowan. He is the one behind him,” Nathaniel continued. “Merlin was the master of distributions on the venture. He was in charge of seeing that all the resources were distributed to the distant realms for all the people." The image of Merlin bowed low to the two Cimmerian leaders. Killian could see his pleading eyes as he silently spoke to the men. He wished the Serum allowed him to actually hear what was said.  "His testimony sealed the destruction of the venture. He told the people how Rowan and Claec had altered the amount of resources, especially materials to build weapons and food, to the different realms, and how everything was sent to Cimmerian.”
Around him, Killian saw the images of the crowd huddled in the boulders of Stonehenge rise into an uproar. It seemed to be an impressive conflict, with no one knowing what to do.
“The testimony of Merlin was a great betrayal to Rowan and Claec. He was threatened and had to go into hiding from the brothers,” Nathaniel said. “The Terrene Venture was abolished after this council; Claec was overthrown.” As he finished the tale, the projected images disappeared as well as the film over his eyes from the serum.
“What happened then? How do people still live on Earth…or Terrene…or whatever?”
“Stonehenge was the gateway. As I said, the landmark is more than meets the eye. The gateway was where people from the distant realms traveled to help build the new realm, as well as passing resources back to the other three main realms. When the Venture was abandoned, the gateway sealed itself, trapping the remaining people on unfinished Terrene. These people lived and populated the realm, forming their own histories to the formation of their world. As time passed the truth blurred, since Terrene is not fully joined into the Hemisphere, knowledge of other realms faded from their memories. Limited amounts of people on Terrene truly know of the other realms existence. Earth is diverse because of the different races mixing together.”
“Killian,” Miller chimed in, “three groups evolved from the end of the venture, the Ponderi, the Deshuits, and the Trinity. You know we are the Ponderi, the creation of your ancestor. Deshuits are rebels, people who run wild throughout the Hemisphere believing no one should belong to any realm. They fight against us with extreme violence.”
“Why do they fight you?”
“They believe we rule the realms and force the different races to never be truly free, when in reality we are simply a mediation group. We help realms work through issues as well as provide the track system for resources to pass fairly to the realms. We also protect people from threats. I suppose you could name us the guardians of the realms.” Miller smiled.
“Well, if that is true, why haven’t you tried to form a truce with them and explain your reasons?” Killian asked skeptically. He didn't know these two men. For all he knew the Deshuit group could be right, maybe the Ponderi did try to rule the realms.
“We have tried for centuries. The Deshuits aren’t easy to speak with. Many Ponderi recruits have been lost to their violence. For the sake of our members now, we try to avoid them,” Nathaniel answered.
“Okay, well what about the third group?”
“Yes, the Trinity. This is why you are of great importance my boy,” Nathaniel said. “The Trinity is a brotherhood that despises what the venture did to the realms. They feel the venture divided a people that wished to be unified, and they hate Terrene still. They are hunters of certain artifacts that will be able to once and for all destroy Terrene. Killian, they want to obliterate the entire realm. Billions of people will fall from existence if they have their way.”
“How could they even have the power to do this and what does it have to do with me?”
“Merlin has much to do with this. The Venture created unbalanced power. People had learned it was possible to create abnormal abilities like the rogue Glacien man. This created awful conflicts and power struggles.  Merlin, being highly skilled in his magic, created a relic individual to each realm so the races would each be able to have a weapon with equal power. They were to be used as defense against those seeking to dominate the Hemisphere. Each relic is infused with unique, strong forces specialized to every realm. But the downside to having such powerful relics is if they are ever joined together, they could obliterate worlds, races...anything! The owner of all four relics would be unstoppable." 
"So I'm assuming this Trinity society is after these relics then they will used them against Ear...I mean Terrene, right?" Nathaniel nodded.
"Which is why we brought you here...your family was tasked with guarding the Cimmerian relic."
Killian's eyes widened. "What? I don't know what that means?"
"Your parents, Killian, were appointed relic guardians." Nathaniel bit his lip as he paused and Miller looked at the ground. Killian's heart beat in his chest. He wasn't sure he was ready to hear what Nathaniel was going to tell him.
"You parents surprised us by asking for permission to bequeath the relic to you temporarily. They assured us it was temporary. The relic could only have been passed to you from your father. The relics can only be passed down a line, never up or to a different family. Even for temporary guardianship. You were the only choice. Temporary guardianship can be awarded and returned back to the original guardian if there is an emergency."
 We felt assured your parents had good reason or they wouldn't have asked, so we authorized the temporary guardianship—you were only two-years-old." Nathaniel paused allowing Killian time to absorb the information. "Killian, a week later...your...parents were killed. It appeared to be an accident, but we aren't sure since they had passed on the guardianship. It seemed strange after the guardianship transfer, they were killed so quickly. Your mother was a brilliant analyst and scientist, and one of the electrical lines in her lab caught fire and both your parents..." He looked away from Killian's disappointed eyes. "Anyway, I'm sorry to tell you this story, but you have to know about the relic. It was stolen from you recently."
Killian gasped and instinctively grabbed his neck. "My necklace...with...with the gold charm on it?"
Miller nodded and picked up where Nathaniel left off. "Yes, that charm was the Cimmerian relic. It was bonded to you, which is why you never wanted to part with I right?" Killian gave a quick nod. "When it was stolen, it gave us reason to believe the Trinity had found you and taken the relic. The attack from the wolves sealed this in our minds. They want you out of the picture, most likely to destroy the Thomas bloodline."
"You say I have grandparents, then where are they. And if the relic was so important, why did you send me away? Wouldn't I have been safer here?" Killian frantically replied.
Miller and Nathaniel glanced carefully at one another. "Killian, several weeks after your parents died, your grandfather passed as well,” Miller explained in a somber whisper. “You have a grandmother, your father's mother, named Rhetta. Rhetta panicked and fled with you. She believed it would keep you safer. It took us nearly three years to find you both, but with such a valuable relic, we couldn't let you be lost to us in the Hemisphere. Rhetta spoke with us. She believed her identity had been compromised. She also made valid points about not knowing who to trust at the Praetorium, so we all decided you would be safer on Terrene without her, under watchful eyes. When we learned from Blake the relic was stolen, we were preparing to extract you anyway. Then you were attacked; you were no longer safe there either."
Killian closed his eyes and dropped his head in his hands. "So you sent me away as a little boy from the only family I had left." Slowly he lifted his head and glared at the two men.
"Killian, please. The Trinity is a secret society. It was difficult to determine who to trust at the time. We promised Rhetta we would never lose sight of you—"
"You watched how I grew up then," he interrupted, his voice dripping with bitterness. "You saw how miserable I was, but when it benefits you, that is when you bring me here." Killian felt the same pin-pricks along the back of his neck and scalp. “Everyone here seems to have an ulterior motive. That’s why you brought me here isn’t it? You need help finding the charm?"
"Yes, my boy," Nathaniel answered in a firm, truthful declaration. "We hated learning you were mistreated, and perhaps we should have handled things differently looking back, but we can't go back. And now there is a greater cause. We must find the relic—Terrene depends on it."
"Killian, try to understand. We thought you would be safer on Terrene, but we were wrong," Miller said with emotion. "Now, you may be the most qualified to help us retrieve the relic since, as its guardian, it is bonded with you. You may be able to sense it along the way."
A long silence ensued—Killian felt awkward as Nathaniel and Miller gazed at him, waiting for his answer. Finally after several minutes he spoke.
"I will have to think about it. Everything I know is back home. I have to be honest, I don't know if I care to involve myself in this fight. I don't mean to add to your guilt, but if I'd been aware of the significance of the charm, maybe I would have cared for it more. I was the one who was in the dark, it's not on my shoulders."
The two men both dropped their heads. Nathaniel nodded slightly.
"We understand my boy. Take the night and think it over.  You can come to us tomorrow with your decision." He turned to his desk and pressed a small white button. "Connor will take you to the room we've arranged for you." He sat down and pulled out a small blue tablet and began working on it. Killian gave a curt nod and turned toward the door. He could see the severe disappointment in the men’s countenances, but he didn't believe he could help them find these relics. Killian opened the grand door and made his way to the hall. Instantly, the elevator doors slid open with Connor smiling at him.
"Ready to head to your room?" he asked cheerily.
The ride down was silent for only a moment before Connor began jabbering to Killian. "You are really going to fit in great here, Killian, I have a feeling. The food is to die for and there are so many things to learn and me it isn't all work, work, work. We have an entire outer arena dedicated to amusement—”
"I don't think I'm staying," Killian said abruptly. Connor stopped mid breath and scrunched his eyebrows.
"What do you mean? Did they explain to you the significance of your charm?" Connor stepped out into a magnificent carpeted hallway, keeping his bewildered expression on his face. Killian followed and stayed shoulder to shoulder with Connor.
"They explained everything — how my parents were the guardians, how they died, how I was thrown into a world with no family! I know you think I can help, but I can't. There isn't really enough reason to stay. You guys have dealt with the realms for a long time now. I'm sure you'll manage just fine without me." They both stopped at a fine, ornately carved door.
"Killian, would you mind placing your hand on the door? Please hold it for about ten seconds or so." Connor directed in a flat voice, ignoring his excuse. As Killian held his hand against the wood, Connor typed something into a small tablet he carried in his pocket. The screen was a deep blue translucent color that flashed red fingerprint shapes every few seconds. Finally, the device beeped. "Thank you. That should do it," Connor said as Killian lowered his hand."No one will have access to your room but you. Just make sure you place your hand against the door and it will open. Well, I hope you will enjoy your room. We pride ourselves in making sure all members are provided the highest quality comforts." Killian nodded his understanding. Killian felt at ease with Connor, though he knew by his expression he was disappointed. Connor stepped back as Killian opened his door. He didn't turn to leave, he just stood looking thoughtful.
"Well thanks, Connor, for everything," he said, slowly closing the door.
"Wait Killian." Connor shuffled his feet a bit before stepping to the doorway. "You have to stay. There are a few things I think you should can't tell anyone I told you though, understand?" Killian was taken aback by the sharp tone in his voice.
"I understand."
"Your parents...I was a certified potential, or an intern as you would say on Terrene, in the labs when they were here...I remember them, especially your mother. I...well, I don't think a fire would have taken them out. They were special recruits. They went on the most dangerous missions you can imagine trying to bring down the Trinity."
"What are you saying?"Killian asked, feeling his blood pressure rise.
"I don't want to give you false hope. They may be gone, but we never saw their bodies. I just find it odd they passed ownership to you right before they died, almost as if they knew they were going to leave." Killian held his breath remembering Nathaniel’s insinuation the timing of their death seemed strange too.
"Killian," Connor continued, "if you help us find Merlin's talisman, your relic, we might be able to find out what happened to your parents. I have a feeling the people who stole the relic are involved in the disappearance of your mom and dad."
"Why do you think that? They died here, right? The accident was here. So how could the Trinity be involved."
Connor continued to gnaw on his lip. "That's why we need your help. No one, I mean no one except some Ponderi members and your grandmother knew where you were on Terrene, no one but the Ponderi knew about your relic before it was stolen and you were almost killed." Connor hesitated and shifted his eyes up and down the empty hall.
"Connor," Killian whispered, "are you thinking there is a member of the Trinity in the Ponderi?"
Connor shrugged. "How else would they know where to send the wolves and what the relic looked like? I think since your parent’s accident was here, if there is still a spy; if you help us find the relic, you'll get answers to what happened to your family. There's more Killian. Your mother was working on something...something big. When you were given the talisman, my instructor had the opportunity to assist in the transfer of guardianship. He said there was something different about the charm, something more powerful. He even brought in a second opinion from Cimmerian. The woman was a supposed expert on the relics and she agreed with my instructor." Connor paused, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose.
“You've had strange dreams and have experienced anomalies in your emotions, true?" Killian was breathless but nodded. "Well, if something was odd about the charm and it affected you, I'd say there is another mystery that needs to be solved too."  Killian leaned against the wall, his mind was whirling.
"Can I still take tonight and process this?"
"Of course, just think hard Killian. If you go back to Terrene without Ponderi protection, how long do you think it'll be before the Trinity finds you? The way they go about stealing relics is destroying the bloodline of every guardian family. You're the last Thomas, so even if there is a spy, you are probably safer here where you can learn to defend yourself." Connor turned and began walking away. "Sleep well Killian, I promise you'll be safe in the room." He smiled and headed for the wall, leaving Killian alone to his thoughts.
After a long while, Killian turned into the grand room he'd been assigned. It was immaculate, with a towering cherry-wood dresser with at least a dozen empty drawers. The closet next to the bed was as big as his dingy cell had been. It had more space to hang clothing than a department store. Killian didn't know what they expected. He had about two shirts and two pairs of pants to his name and they weren’t even with him.
He saw a bathroom next to the massive closet. Inside was a beautiful old-fashioned tub that looked like a small swimming pool to him. The shower was magnificent with glamorous hand cut tile mosaics covering the floor and walls. Killian turned the bronze handle and watched as sprays of warm water flowed from every direction as well as waterfall spouts pouring in along the bottom, making sure his feet would constantly be covered in water.
Killian smiled thinking he could definitely get used to this way of living. Before leaving the bathroom, he glanced at his reflection in a gilded mirror. His tanned skin was scratched and torn from his fall down the ravine. The reddish-brown whiskers looked thick on his chin, and irritated his face. The brown color in his short, military style haircut looked darker from the dirt and debris coating his scalp. Warden Brooks had insisted on clean cuts, so his once thick head of hair was cut down to the bare minimum.
After criticizing his gaunt face for several moments, the mirror fogged from the steamy shower. Turning off the water, he left the bathroom and sat down on the cloud-like bed. He lay back on the mattress planning to just relax for a moment before getting ready for bed. His thoughts drifted to Mercedes, he hoped she was all right. Part of him wished she could've stayed, he would have liked to get to know her more. But he knew her place was at home. He assumed she had a loving family waiting for her. He wanted to go home and find her again, but inside Connor's theory was haunting him. He knew if he left he would wonder for the rest of his life what had truly happened to his family. If he wanted answers, this was the place he would find them.