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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! 

Enjoy




      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 called...in 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 it...am 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.
"Sure."
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 do...trust 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 know...you 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.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Chapter 3- The Lost Relics



The adventure continues in chapter 3! Enjoy.





Chapter 3

The Ponderi
Blake stood at the top of the hill, unraveling a spool of thin wire. Thrusting a three pronged hook deep into the ground, he heaved the wire over the side of the hill, making sure it landed just above Killian's head. Killian eyed the thin piece of metal that was connected to the wire, it formed a makeshift seat that he wagered he would be asked to sit on
 Killian turned around his body trembling. “That’s Blake,” he said more to himself than Mercedes. “He has a crossbow. Why does he have a cross bow?” Shaking the questions from his he acted. Killian urged Mercedes to position herself on the metal seat through panicked protests.
"No, no you have to stay with me, I can't go up that hill—what if they are up there!" Mercedes ranted hysterically, grappling for Killian's hand. He sensed her body was going into a state of shock.
"Mercedes, I'm going to be right behind you okay! I promise. You have to hang on tight with your good arm, I know that guy up there, trust him," he tried to softly reassure her. Her emerald eyes glistened with tears, but she nodded her head. She clamored onto the thin metal rod attached to the wire, never breaking eye contact with him. The rope began to ascend slow and, oddly smooth up the ravine, carrying Mercedes to the top where Killian saw Blake help her over the ledge.
"Blake! There's no way you can lift me out. My leg is torn up, I can't use it to help climb up! You have to go and get help!" Killian shouted up the side of the ravine as the rope came back down to him. Blake was not a large guy, he knew there was no way he could get him to the top alone.
"Don't worry about it Killian! Now get on as best you can and hang on tight!" Blake shouted back to him. Hesitating for a moment, Killian finally maneuvered himself onto the uncomfortable rod. He clutched the wire rope with all his strength, while his leg throbbed as it hung lifeless beneath him. He clenched his eyes shut anticipating the moment when Blake could no longer hold onto him and he plummeted back down the ravine.
Killian was surprised at how quickly he found himself at the top of the ravine after a jerky ride from the wire rope. Blake was bending over the edge of the ravine holding his hand out. Grasping it tight, Blake pulled Killian safely onto the forest floor. The remaining creatures that had pursued them lay bleeding from their bald heads, dead.
Killian's mouth hung open in disbelief as he glanced down at the wire rope. Blake had not pulled it at all, a soft motor hummed as it reeled in the remaining wire. The motor was so small, buried within the three-pronged hook, Killian would hardly know it was there had it not been for the noise. Killian turned to look at Blake, opening his mouth to inquire about the situation, but Blake put a hand up to silence him.
"There isn't any time to explain," he said. "I need you to trust me Killian. You need to come with me now. These animals attacked for a reason and there could be more coming." Glancing over at Mercedes, Blake went on, "she needs to come to—the shock of the attack will be too much for her. We can get her into the clinic to help her process all this."
"Clinic? What is happening..." His voice drifted away. Blake had already moved toward a large tree growing near the steep cliff. Opening a small device, he pressed a button; the device emitted small barbs similar to the fence that had maimed Mercedes. Amazingly the device unfolded into a small square with a translucent screen. As Blake secured the barbs into the trunk of the tree, a number pad powered up on the screen—almost as if the tree was its energy source.
As Blake typed in a numerical code, Killian made his way over to Mercedes, who was sitting on a jagged rock holding her arm. He wrapped an arm around her. She instantly hid her face against his chest and let out the emotion she kept bottled inside her.
"It's okay...hey look—" Killian started, but was interrupted by Blake calling to them.
"Get ready Killian, get the girl...tell her to get it together... this will only stay open for ten seconds!" As he finished shouting at them the core of the tree began to glow a brilliant red, a slight windy force emanated from the ruby-colored trunk. The color slowly changed to a fiery orange, with an ever increasing force pulling them toward the tree as the power magnified. Suddenly the trunk of the tree burst open in furious power, knocking Killian and Mercedes from the jagged boulder. Killian felt the pull of the powerful force tugging him toward the trunk of the tree.
 The tree pulsed in an electrifying white color. They both looked up from the ground, dumbfounded, at the gaping opening in the center of the tree. The tree itself seemed untouched. It didn't sway, the leaves didn't even rustle from the powerful wind that came from its core. It seemed as if only the three of them were in on the secret of the unknown portal that lit up their small area of the forest.
"COME ON! WE HAVE ONE SHOT! WE HAVE TO GO NOW!" Blake shouted back to them against the noise of the windy portal. Killian reacted, wrapping his arm around Mercedes' shoulder once again, the two of them limped and staggered as quickly as they could, taking the leap of faith into the mysterious hole that challenged any law of physics he had ever understood.
Instantly, as they passed through the opening, the air around them felt thick and humid. Killian could feel Mercedes' body move closer into his as the matter around them seemed to threaten their air supply.  The unpleasant feeling was coming to a point that was hard to bear. Coming from behind them they heard the powerful force of the portal suctioning them back toward the opening.
Suddenly the world around them fell silent. The powerful suction ceased and calm surrounded them. Killian and Mercedes seemed to stay airborne for a small moment before falling; their feet crunching onto a steel walkway. Killian groaned as his leg seared in pain. Mercedes cried out when the shining steel splattered with her blood from landing on her injured arm. The fall was only two feet at most, but Killian had been sure he was plummeting to his death. Releasing the breath he had held in the entire time through the portal, he looked around, trying to take in their surroundings.
The sky was different. It was full of brilliant blues, dazzling reds, and radiant greens. All the colors swirled together against a back drop of an ebony universe littered with stars. In the center of the magnificent sky was a glowing orb. It shone brightly and warmed their faces. The same hues of the sky swirled in beautiful patterns in the large, gaseous sun emitting a soft lavender hue. All around them were plants and bright foliage. The flowers that stood out amongst the green plants were tall and brilliant with rainbow patterns along their petals. The plants didn't seem to fit any botanical design he had ever imagined; they seemed to be a cross between tropical and woodland shrubs.
The colorful sky reflected off an enormous building directly in front of them. Killian marveled at the unbelievable structure towering in the center of the magnificent garden. It was one of the strangest buildings he had ever seen, made of glass and beautiful, smooth steel. Huge beams jutted out at unique angles with enormous glass windows randomly scattered between the steel. The building reminded Killian of a block game he had played as a child with the objective to leave the tower standing as long as possible while removing blocks and re-stacking them on top. The large windows created translucent openings between the steel beams causing some concern inside whether the building would topple as the blocks had.  
Blake had landed softly behind them, a content smile painted on his face. "You guys okay? It's pretty intense the first time through." Blake smiled, ignoring the contemptuous glares from the other two. "Come on inside. You both should get to the clinic. I'll make sure you get there. We can take care of those nasty cuts for you." He stated the words simply.  
"We...who is we, Blake?" asked Killian fiercely, as he pushed himself off the ground with difficulty.
Stopping, Blake slowly turned and looked Killian in the eye. "Killian, I know you have no idea what is happening right now, but I really need you to trust me. Everything is going to be explained to you." He smiled and punched his arm like he used to do. "Have I ever given you cause to mistrust me?"
 Killian just stared back at him. “What about your grandparents, do they know about any of this?”
 Blake gave him a sympathetic look. “Kill, I’ll tell you about them later, I promise.” He then turned around. He opened a numbered key pad that was next to a set of giant wooden doors with steel bars covering them. After the code had been entered the huge steel hinges groaned as the doors swung open letting them enter.
"There better be some explaining," Mercedes' shaky voice broke with frustrated emotion, "you expect us just to follow you when we...we just...jumped through a tree!" Killian glanced over at her, the pitch of her voice increased as well as the color of her cheeks.
Blake turned around again, a flash of annoyance was present in his eyes. "I promise, before you know it you'll be home and comfortable; this will all be a bad memory." He turned briskly, leading them into the odd building, silencing further protests.
The room inside the door resembled a typical office entryway, with potted plants and a desk in the center of the room.  A woman sat behind the desk. Killian stared at her; she was not the typical secretary he was used to seeing. Her hair was fire red, with the tips burning in bright orange. Her hair hung over her shoulders, blending in with the brilliant orange and fitted blue dress that revealed much of her legs. Her tan skin was covered in intricate, orange tattoos of fire. Both eyebrows had piercings that were connected by a gold chain, the glass charm from the chain dangled so it set in the center of her forehead. Her red lips curled into a big smile when she saw Blake make his way in.
"Blake! Oh my, I wondered when I would ever see you again," She said in an airy voice and a slight hint of an accent Killian couldn't place. The woman placed a gentle kiss on Blake's sweat covered forehead. The sweet sign of affection was strange to see between Blake, who typically viewed women as a prize.
"Fia! My love! It has been so long since I've seen your beautiful face," Blake teased, stroking a strand of her bright hair. Killian almost smiled, that was the Blake he knew. Even in this strange place Blake still was a relentless flirt. The woman slapped him playfully, releasing all the sweet, soft affection she'd given earlier. "Fia, these friends of mine need to be taken to the clinic, would you mind calling Connor or Shannon to come and get them." He said pointing at Killian and Mercedes before bending in and nibbling her ear.
Giving a squeal of delight, Fia pushed Blake back away from her. Turning her attention to Killian, her eyes widened. Killian couldn't help but stare into them. Her brown eyes were beautiful yes, but he could have sworn that he saw a faint flicker of flames moving behind her pupils.
"Blake...oh my I can't believe he's here." Her eyes looked worried as she kept staring at Killian, speaking as if he wasn't there, "times can't be good if he has come home." Blake shook his head when her gaze shifted back to him. She picked up a phone on the desk, typing in an extension, she asked for someone named Shannon. Killian raised his eyebrows. Home? What was this woman talking about?
"Shannon—file two, eight, zero, eight.  Yes...yes Shannon he's here. He was brought in with a young woman. They will both need some medical attention." That was all she said before she hung up the phone. Killian felt overwhelmed, this strange, eccentric woman seemed to know him. Killian was unnerved that she implied she knew something dangerous was happening that involved him, something he didn't know.
Fia walked toward Killian, staring at him with her glowing fire eyes; the flames grew brighter as she stared deep into his blue eyes. Biting her lip, she took his free hand, that wasn't around Mercedes' shoulders, and clasped it in her ring covered fingers, holding it close against her chest. Killian could hear Mercedes clear her throat loudly from the side of him. Fia ignored her, squeezing his hand tighter against her tan skin.
"You are what we have been waiting for. We're so thankful you've come to help us with the search." She leaned in and kissed his cheek with the same softness she'd bestowed to Blake.  Holding his face between her hands, she looked like she was about to kiss his lips when Blake interrupted.
"Okay Fia, take it easy. Killian's been through a rough day.  Why don't we let him unwind a bit?" Blake winked at Killian, as he grabbed Fia's hand and played with her hair again. Losing the intensity she had had moments before, she began teasing and flirting with Blake.
Taking a deep breath, Killian glanced at Mercedes, whose eyes looked directly into his. She was looking at him with suspicious eyes. "What is this?" she whispered sounding flustered.  
"Mercedes, I have no idea. I promise." He shrugged and whispered back, exasperated. He wasn't sure if she was upset for being drug into a new world, or that Fia had kissed him.
"Well, they seem to know you pretty well." She nodded toward Fia, obviously she didn't believe him.
"Mercedes, I promise I don’t know what is going on. You act like I've been here before—I haven't.” He stated firmly. The hurt from Laura crept into his heart. How long would the pain and anger at her betrayal stay? How often would it rear its ugly head whenever he opened his heart up to someone else?
Mercedes bit her bottom lip as her face softened. Her eyes scanned the blood stained shirt wrapped around her injured arm; she seemed to accept the answer and actually believe him. Silently she moved closer to his body, squeezing his hand that she held around her shoulders. The familiar twist in his stomach came as he squeezed her fingers tight and gave her a small smile.
 A woman with strawberry blonde hair arrived shortly after, wearing large outdated glasses. She stepped out of an elevator they hadn't noticed had been there. The doors closed and the wall looked the same as it had before. The woman's hair bobbed up and down as she walked briskly toward them pushing a sleek silver wheelchair. The lab coat she wore was billowing behind her; it was much too big for her small frame.
"Hello, I'm Shannon. I'm going to take you to the clinic downstairs and make sure you both are cleared medically." She said, shaking both of their hands. "Please, Killian you really shouldn’t be walking on that leg,” she said gesturing to the chair. Killian glanced back and forth between Mercedes and Shannon, his leg was throbbing with each breath now that adrenaline was fleeing his body. Reluctantly he listened to her and plopped down into the surprisingly comfortable chair. “Right, now young lady if you would follow me." Shannon began to wheel Killian toward the empty wall.
“Wait,” Mercedes’ voice trembled. “I…I don’t feel good going…anywhere away… from him.” She pointed at Blake, who couldn’t help but smile boldly. Mercedes’ anxiety fed into Killian, like everything she felt he experienced in sync with her.
Blake stepped toward her and placed his hand on the small of her back, gently urging her forward. “Shannon is going to help you. You can trust her, but you need her to check you out okay.” Mercedes’ emerald eyes glazed with fresh tears but she nodded feebly before joining Shannon and Killian by the wall. Killian didn’t want to admit it, but he needed Mercedes to stay by him. She was helping calm his nerves, and feeling much like an invalid he needed her to help him just as much as she needed support.
Fia ran ahead of them and stepped between them and the steel wall. He couldn't see what she did, but moments later the elevator doors dinged open once again.
 They witnessed the entry of the building fade as the doors closed on them. Shannon typed a six-digit number onto a translucent numbered touch screen. The interior of the elevator was not like typical elevators, the list of floor numbers was absent on the wall and the walls and floor were completely made of glass. After she had typed in the number the elevator lurched and sped downward, much faster than a normal elevator. Killian's stomach rose into his throat as the car plummeted downward. Shannon stood still, obviously she had made the trip several times before and was quite accustomed to the sensation.
“Just for your information so you can move freely around, since we have no staircases, to summon the elevator you simply put your hand on the wall. The elevators run on a neuro-sensor system. A keypad should open up shortly after your touch. Each area has its own six digit number; we will provide a list for you soon so you can use the elevator at will, but even if you forget the floor number the car usually understands where you want to go.” The woman said without a hint of jest in her tone. Killian stared at her incredulously. She spoke about the elevator car like it was a living thing.
"What is this place?” Mercedes asked quietly to Shannon.
"This is the Praetorium." She said, assuming they should just know what that meant. Mercedes looked at Killian, her face scrunched in confusion. Catching the exchange out of the corner of her eye, Shannon turned her face toward them.
"This is our headquarters," she said.
"Whose headquarters? Who are you people?" Mercedes asked louder than before. The pitch in her voice gave way to the anxiety she was feeling. Killian felt his pulse pound in his neck as his pressure rose as the small car plummeted downward, seeming to increase speed each moment they were trapped inside.
"We are all members of the Ponderi." Seeing that this cleared nothing up for the two younger people, Shannon sighed and continued, "Look, I'm not the one who should or can explain it all to you. I'm in charge of making sure you are fine physically and mentally. Someone will answer your questions after we're done, I promise." She said facing the doors again as the elevator dinged to a stop.
Killian and Mercedes both seemed to accept this vague, partial answer. Killian calmed his breathing from the impending panic attack and reached out bravely to give Mercedes' hand a reassuring squeeze.  
Shannon wheeled Killian out of the elevator when the car suddenly stopped. Mercedes hobbled behind them as they found themselves in a room with glass walls and steel floors. There were hospital beds that lined three separate treatment rooms. It was a typical clinic. In the corner, typing on a computer, a man with thinning brown hair stood up. He wore similar glasses like Shannon, although his were significantly thicker.
"This is Connor, my colleague," Shannon said.
"Colleague? Pfft...Try amazing, attractive husband!" Connor teased, giving Shannon a friendly swat on her behind. She glared at him, but the sparkle in her eye gave her true feelings away.
"Excuse me, meet Connor, my husband and very unprofessional colleague." He nodded toward her, accepting her new introduction of him. "Killian, Connor will be checking you, we need to do a full physical so I assumed this young lady might feel more comfortable with a woman." Mercedes' eyes opened wide as Shannon wheeled Killian toward Connor, then led her to a separate room and pulled the curtain over the glass wall.
“Wait can’t I stay with him?” he heard Mercedes frantically ask. Shannon closed the glass door to their room before he could make out her mumbled assurances.
Connor turned toward Killian.  Smiling he slapped some rubber exam gloves on his hand.
"Well... let's begin." Connor helped Killian up to a paper lined exam table and proceeded to poke and prod his body. He checked joints and bones, looking for possible fractures from the fall. Connor cleaned and disinfected the gashes in Killian's leg and stuffed a small piece of gauze inside his bottom lip. The gashes on his leg were enormous gaping wounds that made Killian's stomach queasy, the smell of necrotic tissue didn't help. Connor opened up an aluminum tube and applied a white sticky salve across his entire lower leg. The salve soothed the aching and throbbing he had felt earlier.
After a moment his skin was numb where the white paste was, then Connor laid across each open wound a thin strip of bristled, scratchy material. He held a long fluorescent bulb. Grabbing onto a metal end of the bulb, Connor brought the light toward Killian's leg. The bulb radiated uncomfortable heat, almost steaming as it inched closer to his skin. Killian quickly jerked it away.
"What are you doing?" he shouted.
"Hold still, trust me it doesn't hurt. It looks strange, but I promise these will be the quickest set of sutures you've ever gotten!" Connor smiled and pulled Killian's leg toward him again.
Sweeping the hot light just above the ugly material, the uncomfortable heat ceased and a warm sensation flowed up and down his leg. He watched as Connor moved the light back and forth along the material until it shriveled and sputtered against the heat. As the material crackled, Killian could feel his skin tugging and pulling together. Connor lifted the light away from his leg after a moment or two; tiny charred pieces of material were left that quickly fell to the ground. The long, ugly gashes were now long thin lines of shiny skin; they were the only indication there had even been a gaping, bleeding cut.
Once he had impressively closed the gashes in his leg, Connor proceeded to apply a small piece of the scratchy, burlap type material to his lower lip. Connor's face looked disgusted as he inspected the gash his teeth had cut. Within a minute, the heated light had sutured the cut in his lip. He then checked Killian's blood pressure explaining that the type of stress he had just been under could cause his body to go into a period of shock. Killian scoffed. "I think I'm coming out of the shock period, my mind is clearing up a bit." Connor took his glasses off and rubbed his nose where they had rested.
"Well, now I just want to ask you a few questions, then I'll send you up to Miller and Nathaniel."
"I'm not answering any questions until I get some answers first!" Killian blurted out. "I'm not going to be sent to two different people after we're done, have them examine me in some way, avoid all my questions, and send me to someone else promising I'll get answers very soon." He finished sarcastically. Connor curled his lip up into a half smile while he grabbed a thin, translucent tablet and laid it on his lap.
"Those two will be the ones to answer your questions." Killian closed his mouth, feeling a little sheepish for getting so short with Connor. "But I would be happy to try and answer any question you have first."
Killian pondered for a moment. His mind was swimming with questions, but he blurted out the first thing that came to the forefront, “What kind of doctor are you exactly? Medical or a mental kind of doctor? How is it that I've never seen any of this equipment before? "
Connor chuckled. “Okay, I'll answer more than one. The answer to your first question, I am neither actually. I'm a Bioengineer to be exact, but Shannon is an M.D. with a secondary degree in Psychology. She taught me a thing or two," Connor answered simply. Killian was sure he was joking, but he didn't smile. "And the reason you haven't seen these things in other doctor's offices is because I invented them. Anything I have invented I have given to the Ponderi for the use of helping its members. So do you have any other questions?"
"Yes. I have tons of questions, but I'm pretty sure you're not the guy who's going to answer them right?" Connor nodded his head, giving Killian a sympathetic smile that he was getting quite tired of.
"Okay, are you ready to get started?" Killian just shrugged. Connor opened a screen on his device and quickly scanned through an open file.
"So, Killian Thomas, Blake has entered his report from earlier today. I'm aware you don't understand what has happened to you or your young lady friend," Connor smiled kindly, "I want to explain what the creatures are that you, unfortunately, met this afternoon."
Killian leaned forward in his chair anxious to hear what Connor had to say. He knew the creatures were not of his world.
"They are called Malumian Wolves.  They roam independently throughout the four realms. They are very vicious and attack in an almost obsessive manner until they get their assigned prey." Connor's eyebrows furrowed. "The strange thing about your attack though is...well Malumian Wolves don't just attack by themselves. It's almost like they are animal versions of assassins. Do you know what I mean?" Killian stared back at him with his mouth slightly open. How could he possibly know what he had meant? His blood pressure pulsed again. He fought against the frustration that came so easily since he'd been sent to prison.
Connor seemed to grasp the ridiculousness of his question and waving his hand to erase his last statement he continued. "No, of course you wouldn't. The wolves...they have to be sent by someone. Someone programs the creatures to kill another and they do it with no reward it's just their nature. The wolves are placed onto another's scent and they won't stop until they are found, almost robotic. That's the problem we have, you see. We have no idea who would have sought out the wolves and sent them after you. You haven't been in the Praetorium since you were five-years-old." Connor sat back in his chair, tapping a pencil against his knee.
"What? I have never been here before. I was in the foster system since I was five. You are wrong. I have no idea where I am." He shifted nervously in the chair. "The only people I know are Blake, the work crew, and some CPS workers. Not counting my foster families."
“Killian, what do you remember about your life as a young child? Where were you before you went to your first family, before the Petersons, it was the Tubbs' right?" Killian nodded, confused how Connor would know that, and quickly answered.
"Well..." He began, trying to think back before the plump Tubbs family, "I guess I was with another family, or a home, or something. I was so little it's hard to remember. Why? What does that have to do with anything?"
"I think you'd be interested to know that there is more to your very young years than you may have thought." Connor glanced back down to his glowing screen and scanned the document in front of him again. “You have a greater connection to the Praetorium than you know.  In fact, you were born here.”
“What? How…how do you know that?”
“Killian Thomas…the Thomas family is the founder of the Ponderi, but as I said you will hear more—”
“Upstairs,” Killian interrupted, “I know, that’s what everyone keeps telling me.”
“I know it’s frustrating for you, but it’s true.” Connor smiled sympathetically. “I will tell you this attack from the wolves has me worried Killian. We have to get to the bottom of it, and we must assume you were attacked because of your connection to the Ponderi. Can you think of anyone that may wish you dead, or has connections to this place?”
His blue eyes widened as he looked back at Connor, registering what he'd suggested. "You think someone really wants me dead?” Connor shrugged. “I never knew this place existed so how would I know if anyone had a connection here?”
“It’s worth asking,” Connor said, a light tinge of frustration in his voice.
Killian thought for a moment. “The only person I know who hates me that much is Richard...and Laura it would seem," he said bitterly, "but the person who has any connection to this place is Blake. You aren't suggesting Blake could be a part of this are you? Because he saved us."
"No Blake was assigned to you by Nathaniel and Miller. He has been checked and rechecked for his loyalty and commitment to the Ponderi. Richard and Laura are out of the picture, they have no connection to anything.  We checked," he eyed Killian warily, deciphering how he would handle the information. "We'll have to check on others throughout your history," Connor said quickly. Killian nodded.
"You said something about the wolves roaming the realms. What do you mean, like outer space or something?"
"No. There are three main realms in our Celestial Hemisphere. I'm sure Nathaniel and Miller will explain it more. Ignisia, you met Fia, that's where she is from, Glaciem and Cimmerian. Earth is a half realm, we call it Terrene. It’s a half realm since it never fully joined into our Hemisphere. Each realm has a specific atmosphere and climate and each has their own specific duties to help keep our Hemisphere in balance."
Killian couldn't wrap his head around what was happening.  His jaw clenched. He rubbed a hand over his face, scraping along prickly whiskers of his unshaved chin. He glanced down at the shiny, thin scars on his leg, the only evidence that disgusting creatures had attacked him! Standing up from the chair he was sitting on, and surprised by the lack of pain in his leg, he began to pace back and forth.
“Killian, I know this is so much to process, but I really need to ask you a few more questions, okay.”
“How do I know that I can trust you?” Killian shouted. “What does any of this have to DO WITH ME?”
Connor stood up next to a pacing Killian. He put both hands on his arms, trying to stop him from moving.
“Killian, please sit down,” he said softly. “I am going to try and help you understand. I promise after I get some answers I will take you to Nathaniel and Miller myself, where you can ask all the questions you want. I know since...your incident—"
"You mean since the only mother I knew sent me to prison...you can say it," he retorted.
Connor nodded nervously. "I comprehend it must be difficult to trust people. I can't imagine how unbelievable this is to you, but may we continue?” Reluctantly Killian obliged and plopped down into the steel chair. His heart was pounding. He believed there was more that Connor knew, and he wanted to see the report Blake had written. His patience was wearing thin with the secrecy and lack of explanation he had received since arriving at this strange place.
"Whew...okay, that got a little intense didn't it?" Connor smiled trying to lighten the mood. Killian gave him a quick smirk as he sat again in his chair."Killian, I think you are medically fine. How are you feeling otherwise, I mean emotionally?"
"I don't know how to answer that. How would you feel if you had all this laid on you?" Killian bit; he took a deep breath trying to bury the frustration inside.
Connor's smile faded. He nodded, then stood and placed his tablet on the desk next to his chair.
"Well, I think considering the circumstances, I can say you're ready to move on. I'll take you up and I promise I won't pester you with silly questions." Killian stood as Connor pushed his chair back under his desk. They headed out into the cold hallway outside the clinic doors.
“I think maybe I should wait for Mercedes,” he told Connor looking back into the clinic hoping to catch a glimpse of her.
“She’s going to be just fine. It’s not just my biased because Shannon is my wife; she really is the most brilliant physician I’ve ever seen. Please, Miller and Nathaniel are very anxious to meet you.”
Killian had a weight in the pit of his stomach, but he couldn’t muster the energy go argue though he wanted to. Connor placed a hand quickly on the wall, then just stood, staring at the empty steel. Suddenly Killian saw a small screen appear on the wall. The screen showed a series of numbers which Connor quickly typed in the six-digit number to open the doors. Connor stepped inside the doors.  Killian slowly followed staring at the elevator car in bewilderment.
  Inside the glass box, Connor typed in the tenth floor code and the doors closed. They rode the fast moving elevator in silence.
The elevator accelerated upward. Killian could feel them traveling up to a high floor when suddenly the doors dinged open. Connor stepped out of the elevator with him. The hallway they entered was exquisite, with marble floors and pillars lining the hall. Killian saw flecks of gold leaf shimmering in the marble. It was so masterfully polished that he could see his reflection almost perfectly in the shining floor. Hanging on the walls there were huge portraits that had different landscapes framed in what appeared to be solid gold.
"The office is down the hall, second door on your left. They'll be waiting for you." Connor gave Killian a big smile and held out his hand. "I hope you get the answers you’re searching for." He stepped back into the open elevator after a brief handshake and typed in his floor number. Killian nodded, then suddenly turned around back toward Connor.
"Wait! Where is Mercedes?"
"Don't worry, Shannon will take good care of her. She'll make sure she gets home safely," was all Connor had time to say before the elevator closed, completely disappearing behind the wall. The only hint that it was even behind the wall was the whoosh behind the painting that had split in half when the doors opened.
Alone, Killian began to make his way down the majestic hallway, feeling a little unnerved by the silence. He found it strange that the enormous building was filled with the constant eerie quiet. For a building so large, there certainly weren't a lot of people in the hallways.
 He examined the paintings as he walked. One painting showed a beautiful land full of snow covered mountains that lined a great green lake. Another looked like a desert, a very lovely desert. It had large flowering cacti, and beautiful red-rock mountains, with rolling sand hills along the base of the rocks. The last painting that rested next to the second door on the left was a painting of a scene at night. Killian could see shadows of a forest and rolling hills. It could have been a painting of anywhere had it not been for the two moons painted in the sky, which guaranteed it was an exotic unearthly location. 

Turning away from the impressive paintings he knocked rapidly on the door, wringing his hands as he nervously waited to meet the mysterious men. After several moments, the brilliant gold knob creaked as someone turned it from the inside. As the door swung open, Killian was met by a man with a thick ashen mustache and twinkling gray eyes.