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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.
"Uh...yes."
"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.
Killian,
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.
Nathaniel
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 feeling...it 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.



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