Aretherra Volume One | Finding Aero Part 1

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Aretherra Volume One – Finding Aero Part 1
Created On: 08.02.2016
Last Updated: 11.02.2016
Total Words : 6253
Acarnian Islands – Vyst


Aerosus had been away most of the days during the past three cycles of Lhunoz. The days were growing longer, pushing away the cold part of the year with more pleasant, warmer, sunnier days, signaling the change of seasons. Imagining what these beautiful days would look like in a more exotic, foreign place, made Aero exultant about seeing other parts of the world as soon he was able. Most of these absent days, Aero’s friends believed him to be at the deep space vectorscope, where the technicians allow him stare off into the heavens for hours at a time. When he wasn’t there, he was always off conducting his mysterious research at one the capital libraries or government buildings. They knew he spent countless hours pouring over dusty books, historical accounts, and family genealogies, as he searched through a thousand years of Aretherran history. Anyone that knew Aerosus never asked what subject matter could occupy so much of his time, requiring such in depth research. Everyone that knew Aerosus knew that he has always been well read, almost studious to a fault. The fact was clear: when he became enamored with a subject matter – that subject became his one sole focus, until he found, read, learned and consumed all that there was to know.

There was a good reason why Aerosus did not tell anyone that he wanted to travel around the world and for this very same reason, he could not explain his ongoing research, when his friends asked this of him. This reason was born from a side of himself that he preferred to keep hidden from the world, at least for now. Like the dark side of Lhunoz and her little sisters, perpetually living in shadow, turned away from the light; that was the dark and hidden side of Aero, where his innermost secrets were hidden. But like anything hidden in the dark, secrets are revealed when they are exposed to the light.

As news of Aero’s travel’s came to light, it became obvious that his friends had no idea that he had even left to travel such great distances. Aero’s friends were amazed that he was able to travel all over the world in such a short span of time. Many of them knew that he had even left.

That was the miracle of the network of portals Aero discovered three Lhunoz cycles ago. Aero found that the portals were a means to transport himself anywhere across the world of Aretherra, instantly and then back again, once his mission was completed. His mission: seeking and finding the man who killed his parents when he was a boy. Aero remembered his parents’ wisdom, about the nature of right and wrong, about forgiveness and vengeance, about the good and evil forces that are very real, forever at war for the heart and minds of everyone. Were they still alive, Aero knew his parents would disapprove this hunt, of his relentless need to find their killer. During his travels, his accommodations were severely lacking as he scoured the countryside for this elusive man. In these small hours of the morning, when the stars are their brightest and the coming sun is still a rumor, often he can not sleep. Aero’s mind was just as uncomfortable as his body, which often was forced to lay in dry, crunchy grass, where he used a smooth rock as a pillow. Fighting off all manner of discomfort, it was in these spare and fleeting moments that Aero was honest with himself, admitting that he should not be searching for his parents’ killer.

By sunrise on most days, Aero jumped to his feet, stretched and did not remember anything from the night before. Instead, Aero remembered his mission. His parents were dead and so far as he knew, their killer was not. This unbalanced equation drove Aero to keep going, no matter the odds, and how difficult his travels may become. His parents deserved justice, he wanted their afterlife’s existence be at peace and find balance in the universe. By settling the score, Aero would strike a major chord against the emotional dissonance he has suffered since the night of their murders. For

It hasn’t been an easy road, Aero’s search for his parents’ killer has lead to many detours by way of bad leads, false starts from bad intel, which lead him to the wrong people or the wrong location or both and the inevitable dead ends along the way. Aero hoped that preparation and planning would help make his search easier. He had been researching and reading for months in advance. He knew that he was preparing for travel of some kind, that some day he would venture out and apply everything he had learned. Never could he imagine that he would discover something as amazing as the portals.

At first, Aero discovered a single portal, which was his cornerstone and starting point of what would become a great endeavor. The cornerstone portal, which he called site one, transported him to the second location, which he called site two. This destination portal was the first branch of a theorized network of portals that Aero hoped existed beyond the reach of site one. Soon after, he discovered others and after several months of searching, testing and traveling, he found that there was an entire global network of portals on Aretherra. Aero took quick trips to test which portals were operational and then drew maps of each launch site and every destination site. Someday, with the entire network mapped out, Aero hoped that his search could then be expanded exponentially. Through all of his hard work and discovery, Aero could not help but wonder if there was another way to approach this endeavor of his.

All of the portals had carvings, a language etched into the face of the stone which was indicative of a language similar to one used by the ancient inhabitants of Aretherra. These ancients were known to most as The Elder Race. These forefathers lived on the planet over a thousand years ago during the golden age, when the planet was called Areth. Aero learned about the ancient language of The Elder Race when he was a boy in the book, The History of Areth: Volume One. Aero received the entire set as a gift from his parents on his tenth birthday. The History of Areth was a seven book set that covered all aspects of The Golden Age, The Elder Race, The Great Event, Apophydon, and an entire spectrum of in depth descriptions of important people, places and events before and after the fall of this great society. After he studied the characters on many portals, he found the same set of books in the King’s personal library. This set of history books did not provide a perfect, word for word, translation of the language used by The Elder Race. However, The History of Areth: Volumes One through Four did help Aero decipher enough of the carvings to make an educated guess pertaining to the overall message the ancients inscribed on the face of each portal.

Unfortunately for Aero, translating the ancient text did not lead him to any original maps and drawings of the network of portals. Aero hoped that his research would lead to another book or ancient manuscript that visually depicted the layout and extent, with locations and coordinates, for the system of portals. But in all of his research, no further clues presented themselves and he was left with the sinking feeling that he would have to rely on his own attempt at creating a map.

Over the course of three months since he discovered the portals, while he used his rudimentary portal map, Aero traveled to five different countries in search for his parent’s murderer; but this time something went very wrong. In the past several years Aero has searched for his parents’ killer throughout the kingdoms of the U.R.O.A. The United Republic of Aretherra (U.R.O.A.) was created from four separate kingdom states, who shared a unified landmass and the belief that their laws and governments should protect the rights and freedoms of their citizens above all else.

During his several years traveling in the U.R.O.A., Aero was accompanied by his close friends, the prince brothers of the royal family Alcyone of the Vysuvian Kingdom. By the grace of their father, King Svainn Alcyone of Vysuvia, Aero lived with the Alcyone Royal Family for the past several years. During this time he grew close to Prince Svainnus and Prince Sirann and Aero learned that in the royal family of Alcyone, the “S” letter in front of a first name is silent and not meant to be pronounced or spoken. Beyond adhering to the correct pronunciation of their names, Aero was treated like family and did not have to observe the formal behavior that was normally expected in the presence of the Alcyone family.

These formalities were overlooked and then formally excused a long time ago, many citizens of the Kingdom of Vysuvia misunderstood this informality, and thought that Aerosus was a prince, third in line to the royal throne of Alcyone. This of course was far from the truth, Aero was found on the streets, with nothing to his name. Aero was suffering, homeless, deathly ill, and living on the streets of the capital city when Prince Sirran found and rescued him from a devastating storm ice storm late one night. Sirran brought him to the royal palace, gave him warm food and drink, a soft bed and had him seen by his father’s best healers. Sirran and Aero hoped that he could stay in their palace long enough to ride out the storm, before returning to live on the streets. Or even better, possibly stay until he was healed of his illness. But in the end, it was the King’s decision and Sirran had to defer to his father’s wishes on the matter allowing this street kid to stay in their home longer than one night.

Immediately upon hearing that his brother brought home a homeless boy from the streets, Svainnus’s heart was filled with hatred for who he thought Aero was. All through the night the healers fought against the advanced stages and symptoms of a wasting disease. The high fever alone threatened to take Aero’s life, or short of this, may cause long term brain damage. While this battle for the life of Aerosus was being waged in one of the palace guest rooms, Svainnus continued to became jealous of what Aero might become. Svainnus whispered in every ear he could find, to the palace staff, security, and even to his brother, attempting to spread lies about Aero, in hope of swaying his father’s judgment. Having the mind and emotional maturity of his then, fourteen years of age, Svainnus truly believed that he would be able to sway his father’s decision by spreading these hurtful rumors. To his surprise, like the lies he told about Aero, nothing would be further from the truth. Just before dawn, Aero’s fever broke and he was said to be past the worst part of his illness. The healers called it a miracle, saying that no one should be alive after what his boy went through. Seeing as their job was completed, they left so that Aero could get some sleep.

After a couple hours of solid sleep, Aerosus awoke at sunrise to find King Svainn standing near the end of the large bed, a couple feet away. With the shutters open, a cascade of light from the rising sun covered everything in its wake with rich orange and deep yellow hues. Standing in the midst of this glorious sunrise, King Svainn introduced himself, which was made ominous by the very large shadow that he cast across half of the room. With a twinkle in his blue eyes, the King stared at Aero with a stern look of compassion and wonder. He asked about and confirmed that Aero was who he said he was. King Svainn inquired about Aero’s parents and offered his condolences on behalf of their deaths. He then told Aero that it was an honor to meet him. After which, the king turned his head, nodded and proceeded to walk out of the room, closing the door behind him. A couple minutes later, the door bursts open and a very excited Sirann hurtled through the air onto the bed next to Aero, where he bounced up and down with excitement. Sirann then told Aero that his father, reminding Aero that he is the King of Vysuvia, said that Aero can come live with them from now on if he wants to be part of their family!

To this day, Aero and Sirann have shared a special bond that has transcended friendship to a level of true brotherhood. Their friendship has been forged by a series of shared experiences and trials that they’ve enjoyed and endured throughout the years, since they met as boys, the night of the ice storm. Following the events of that night, Svainnus remained jealous of Aero for most of the following year. He was especially envious of the special relationship that formed between Aero and his younger brother Sirann. Svainnus will always wear his emotions on his sleeve, selfishly acting in his self interest at the expense of others. But over time, Svainnus confessed to like and he even said that he respected Aero. He also told Sirann that he no longer was jealous of Aero’s place among their family. When Aero ran into trouble on his latest trip through portal to a distant part of Aretherra, it was the brothers who heard his call and ran headfirst into danger to help him.

All Vysu are Materiokinetic, which gives them the power to manipulate and control most forms of matter. This includes the ability to make themselves invisible and the power of phase shifting themselves through forms of matter, such as solid objects. When the Vysu manifest their Materiokinetic powers at the age of emergence, a small percent also develop psychic powers at the same time. Like their father, both Svainnus and Sirann learned to use their psychic abilities soon after powers emerged at the ages of twelve and thirteen. As they grew knowledge and strength, learning to master all the various facets of their powers, their psychic connection to Aero became as strong as well.

Although he was able to communicate telepathically with both brothers, Aerosus did not manifest his own psychic powers during his twelve year. For reasons unknown to him, Aero’s psychic and telepathic powers could only be used to communicate with the Alcyone Royal Family. Svainnus, Sirann, King Svainn and especially Queen Qjenaphir, who was a very powerful Vysu and psychic in her own right; have all been able to speak to Aero telepathically and he to them. Nearly every Aretherran child, manifest their expected ability and begin to use their powers at the age of emergence, which typically begins in their twelve year. Several years after his age of emergence, Aero remained without a real power or ability to call his own.

However, ever since the night when he lost his parents, when Aero flew like a Xuvi and cast energy bolts like a Phyrros; he continued to randomly manifest powers for the next several years. In each of these singular events, his special ability lasted only for a short time, after which, he was unable to cast or create the power again. To date, Aero was sure that he had manifested almost every primary power known to exist on Aretherra. There was no name, no classification for what he was, or better, what he wasn’t. There was a name for people who never manifest a power and there was a name for those who were blessed with multiple abilities. But there was not a name for someone who has no primary power, but somehow has manifest all of them at one time or another. The psychic connection that Aero shared with the Alcyone family was the one and only ability that he could claim.

Aero was thankful for this fact as he called out to his friends, hoping that either Sirann or Svainnus would hear his subliminal cry for help. Aero wasn’t sure if his thoughts would reach the brothers’ minds from such a great distance, but he knew that he had to try. Aero was unable to decipher the portal’s markings and primary icon before he traveled through to the other side. Other than the room where he was held prisoner, which was so dark that he could not see his own hand held before his eyes; Aero knew not where he was. Wherever he was, it was also very quiet, which made him think that he was underground, possibly in a basement of some kind. He decided to use the darkness and quiet to his advantage, knowing that the only way out of his situation may only come from successfully using telepathy to contact Sirann and Svainnus.

Aero’s hands were tightly bound together with a wire of some kind. His constraints were so tight that they were cutting into his flesh and a wet, sticky sensation on his wrists meant that he was bleeding. Aero tried to ignore the pain and discomfort of the wire, as he knelt on the floor with his eyes closed, trying to relax his mind enough to form a psychic link with Sirann. After a couple minutes Aero was about to reach out, when a BANG sound crashed above him, then seemed to echo nearby. It took several more minutes before Aero was ready again and his heart slowed down enough to a resting rate.

“Sirann. Sirann. It’s Aero, I need your help. Sirann, Svainnus, Please help me. I need your help.” Aero spoke these words into the darkness, barely loud enough to hear more no more than a few feet away, if someone was in the room with him. “Sirann, Svainnus, help me, please, I need your help.” Aero continued speaking and repeating this same sentence over and over, calling out to no one nearby and continuing this message for another seventeen minutes.

Aero continued on, calling out into the darkenss, “Sirann, Svainnus, I need your help,” but he was suddenly cut off by another voice, that rang clear and present in his ears, as if the voice was kneeling right next to Aero in this same room. It was the voice of Sirann.

“Aero! Where are you? Are you hurt? We’re coming for you. All of us want to come, even my parents, but we need to know where you are, so we can find you, come to rescue you.” Aero smiled. Sirann’s welcome voice brought tears to his eyes. He rejoiced, knowing that his friend heard him. They were coming, Aero was relieved that it worked, that he made contact. “Uhh, Aero? Can you hear me?” Sirann interrupted, he was now wondering if he had made contact, he had yet to hear a reply.

Aero shook his head in an attempt to regain his composure. “Sirann! Wow! This is amazing! I can’t believe it worked. It feels like forever since we’ve even tried to use our telepathic powers…” Aero replied with enthusiasm.

“I agree, but focus, where are you? Are you really in trouble?” This important question stuck in Aero’s mind, was he in trouble? Actually, he wasn’t sure whether or not he was in trouble and if he was, he wasn’t even sure what kind. Aero was smart enough to know that the blood-drawing wire constraints did spell trouble in all capital letters, not to mention possibly being locked in this room? Underground? The one thing Aero was sure of, was that he was completely unsure of everything.

Aero rose to his feet, carefully he stepped forward, his hands groping into the void, as he desperately felt for something real. He hoped in vain for an illusion, something conjured from an act of sorcery to trick his eyes into believing the unreal. His fears were exacerbated when his fingertips traced the smooth texture of a wall before his next step touched the floor. His reality was as he feared and the voice that called out in his mind, only heightened the fear he felt being trapped in this cold, dark room. Not even Sirann’s voice, the voice of his would-be savior, did anything to mitigate how unnerving this place had become to Aero. Sirann continued to call Aero’s name, asking for his whereabouts, over and over.

“Sirann, yes, I’m here,” Aero began finally, “sorry I’m, I was trying, hoping that…” Aero stopped mid-thought, adrift in his own introspection, unable to verbally complete his response. “Okay, I’m here. Obviously. But the problem facing me, well, us, is that I am not sure where I am. Somehow, I ended up being trapped in this place. My hands are tied together too, like I’m a prisoner. I can’t imagine what is going on!” Aero paused and was relieved that he when he finally spoke, his words flowed like they always did. Sirann took the pause in Aero’s thoughts a window to ask what was on his mind.

“So you have no idea where you are? Let me get this straight. You don’t know the place, or even the part of the world you might be in right now? Do you at least know what portal you took? Even if you don’t know where it traveled to. That would be helpful to narrow down your location.” Sirann stopped sending his thoughts for a moment, to allow Aero a chance to answer.

“Yes, I do not know where I am. I think I know what portal I took to get here though. I used the portal under the old church in the north side of town. You know the one with the secret spiral staircase, under the baptistry at the front of the auditorium?”

“Doesn’t that one lead to the castle that overlooks the ocean on the southern coast? Are you there?” Sirann asked.

“No.” Aero replied, then hesitated, not wanting to share what he had to tell Sirann next. “The castle has a room with three other portals, beside the one that you know about. I had not had a chance to tell you about these, because I only found them recently. One of these three portals leads to where I am.”

“Okay, that’s fine, but which one should we look for when we get there?” Sirann asked, wondering why Aero didn’t tell him right away.

“Well, that’s the thing. I wish I could remember. Honestly, I don’t know why I can’t remember.” Aero was worried. How could he not remember what portal he took from the castle?

“Aero, you’re freaking me out? It’s not like you to forget, anything. What, do, you remember?” Sirann slowly asked. Aero could tell, even though what he heard his head was his friend’s voice through their telepathic link, the concern, especially the worry in his voice was unmistakable.

“It’s just that. I don’t remember. Something must have happened, obviously, I’m a prisoner! Will that be enough?” Aero finally asked the question that bothered him the most.

“We’ll see. I mean, yeah, it will be. It’ll be enough and before you know it, I’ll be breaking you out of that place.” Sirann replied while doing his best to sound optimistic, but his words and thoughts betrayed him. At this point, he was transparent and with every attempt at misdirection, Aero knew how he really exactly how Sirann really felt about the situation. Aero knew that Sirann felt this situation seemed grave and that his life is in real danger.

Truly knowing someone comes at a price. The cost is often paid by the person receiving the falsehood, the one who perceives the honesty masking the deception, and in the end, if truth above all prevails, in the end, the path will lead always to love and forgiveness. Aero never forgot how important his friends were to him and how they have changed his life for the better. Sirann had saved his life more than once, since the first night that they met, when he as brought in from the cold. Once again, Sirann was there for him, this time he was only a thought away, ready to run to his aid, across half of Aretherra if needed.

“Aero, I’m going to talk with Svainnus and my parents. If you’re not able to read us and hear our conversation as it happens, I’ll be in touch as soon as we knew how to handle this. I promise that it will not be too long.” With these words, Sirann left Aero’s thoughts and he did not hear his friend again for the better part of an hour.

“Okay, I’ll be right here, waiting. Sirann? Hurry. Please.” Aero humbly pleaded to his friend.

During the next hour, not much changed for Aero in the dark and quiet room. He sat against the wall, staring into nothingness, letting his mind wander back through the memories of his life. He liked this exercise of mental dexterity, because it allowed him to challenge his capacity for recall and many of his memories were enjoyable to relive in his mind’s eye. However, he would always run headlong into the mental wall he constructed to block himself from going back too far. The grisly and palpable images of his parents’ death still lurk on the other side of this blockade he constructed. Never would he forget that night and the face of the man who killed them. It took only minutes for the evil stranger to take two lives. It may take an entire lifetime for Aero to finally get justice for his mother and father. Aero’s life has been changed forever, as a completely different boy ran away into the night, from the one that awoke to a sunny day, two loving parents and a world of possibilities. Aero felt a wave of relief when he heard a faint whisper in his mind that sounded like his best friend Sirann. He knew this meant that he was trying to reach out and he hoped that Sirann would respond with a viable plan to find and save him from this horrific place.

“Aero, Aerosus, can you hear me?” Sirann’s voice, finally loud enough for Aero to make out his words, called to him telepathically once again.

Aero smiled, “Yes, I can hear you.”

“We’re coming for you Aero. Stay strong, keep the faith bud.” Said Sirann, once again feigning assurance for Aero’s needs, the non-believer, that all would end well for them. But that was Sirann, forever believing with his infinite confidence, with his ever persistent optimism, that everything would work out alright, if you had faith. Once upon a time, Aero believed as Sirann did. He was raised that way, his parents were prime examples of optimistic people. As living examples, Aero’s parents taught him and demonstrated how to always strive to be a better version of the person that others expect you to be. They taught Aero that he must always give his best, show his best and do his best in every aspect of his life.

But with their passing, at the moment they died, so did Aero’s faith in the positive possibilities of life. Gone was the spark of optimism he once held in his soul. Over many years, Aero has forgotten most of what his parents tried to hard to impart before their deaths. More than forgetting, Aero doesn’t care. He gave up living as his parents taught him a long time ago, save for the one thing that drives him most. He does strive for greatness and gives himself wholly to his quest of finding his parent’s killer. For this, he is motivated, for this he cares and gives all of himself to, without hesitation. If it wasn’t for King Svainn’s fatherly guidance and love throughout the years, Aero would have lost himself completely in his quest for vengeance.

The king and Sirann have done everything in their power to hold Aero back from accepting more of his self-destructive side with each passing year. They attempted to provide a voice of reason and a healthy example for him to look to. They’ve watched as Aero became progressively captivated by finding the man who killed his parents. It saddened the king to watch Aero’s evolution, because with each passing year, he became more enthralled with hunt for the murderous man.

The incremental process grew innocently from a flippant comment Aero made on his thirteenth year celebration party; his first such party since their deaths. After he blew out his candles, he told his party guests what he wished for in that moment. Aero said that he wished his parents could be there to celebrate with him, since they could not, then a proper substitute would be to have their killer in attendance, so he could play ‘pin the tail on the murderer’ with his friends. After the night of the party, Aero began to mention his parent’s killer on an ever increasing basis.

It didn’t take long before his casual mentioning of the man grew into strong fascination and near constant obsession. His friends feared that Aero was using his obsession as a substitute for mourning and this was the case. Aero’s anger, a stage of his process for dealing with his parent’s deaths, first was focused on his hatred for the man and then morphed into his need to act on his aggressive feelings. A couple years later, when he was finally old enough to act out his anger, Aero became solely focused on finding the person responsible for his sadness. Eventually his trips throughout the U.R.O.A. were not enough to satiate his needs, which so happened to occur just after he found the portals. Finally with the power of the portals, allowing him to instantly travel all around Aretherra, he had moved on to needing to hunt for his parents’ murderer.

As Aero sat in the dark room, he wondered what he would do, should his hunt for this mystery man end with his capture. Would he detain him and keep him as a prisoner? Would he torture this man, who enjoyed the process of torturing and killing his mother and father? Or would he be able to go the entire distance, to the very end of the line and kill this murderous, evil person? These questions, these nagging, life altering questions, kept Aero awake at night. These disquieting, distressing, and disturbing, questions made him anxious and left him feeling utterly unhinged. The headache in Aero’s temples started with a minor pinching and then festered into pain over the course of a couple minutes time. With this pain, he knew that someone was trying to reach him via a psychic link again. A few seconds later, the pain subsided and Aero heard the telepathic voice of Sirann in his head again.

“Aero, it’s me Sirann. I’m sorry it took so long to get back to you. But I think we’re onto something big. I think we’re going to find you! Well, my mom is finding you right now.” Sirann told Aero, his excitement was clear and evident, as if he spoke these words verbally in person.

“Tell me something,” Aero interjected, “do you get headaches in your temples when communicating telepathically?” Aero asked.

“Headaches? No. I’ve never heard of such a thing. Do you get headaches when we speak like this?” Sirann queried in response.

“Yes. It’s why I asked. Nevermind, it’s gone now. Okay, tell me, you said your mother is going to find me? How?” Asking Sirann how she would do this was almost a rhetorical question , because the queen was the most gifted and powerful psychic that Aero knew. Her abilities were lauded and sought by other psychics all over the U.R.O.A., the entire Aretherra for that matter. This gave Aero the first glint of hope since he found himself to be trapped in this place.

“You won’t believe this! She is going to track your location using your psychic profile as a homing beacon. And then she will…” Sirann fades off when Aero cuts in.

“Psychic profile?” Aero asked.

“Oh. Right. As my mom describes it, a psychic profile is an individual’s unique personal psychic signature. Like how you have your own fingerprints, retinas in your eyes, or a person’s DNA, so too are psychic profiles, each are unique and special to the individual. We’re already at the castle right now and she is using our conversation to hone in on your location to determine which door to take of the three portals. She says that the same energy making it possible for us to communicate telepathically, empowers the portals as well. I hope I got that right, it’s something like that.” Said Sirann with his usual level of enthusiasm.

“Yes, I got it. How long will it take?” Asked Aero.

“She says that she has it, we know where you are.” Answered Sirann.

“Good. Where am I?” Aero asked, feeling strange for having to ask such a question.

“Wow! My mom says that you’re on the one of the Acarnian Islands! Don’t the…” Sirann was cut short by Aero, who couldn’t help what came to mind.

“The Vyst. The Vyst live on the Acarnian Islands.” Aero nervously completed Sirann’s sentence. It was silent for a minute, both Sirann and Aero contemplated what this meant for everyone involved and they knew how grave this situation may become before it’s all over. Especially if the Vyst were the ones who captured and detained Aero, if that was the case, this could be the end of them all.

“Aero, we’re coming, just know that we’re coming.” Sirann pleaded, hoping to alleviate the coming storm of worry and doubt that he knew Aero was heading toward at that very moment. “No one has come to the room right? That’s a good thing because in that situation, being alone, even though it’s a creepy dark room, is better than the alternative.” Aero couldn’t hear it, but Sirann sighed with frustration, carrying his own worry and doubt. “Just stay strong, we’ll be there to rescue you as soon as we’re able.”

“Okay. Just hurry. You know where I’ll be, just don’t get lost.” Aero replied, trying to succumb the tension with a little humor. As the note of poorly conceived humor lingered, Aero heard some whispering in his mind for a minute and then it was gone. In the portal room, Sirann, Svainnus, king Svainn and queen Qjenaphir stepped over the threshold of the second door into a grass hut that sat at the edge of a beach on the largest of the Acarnian Islands. Unknown to Aero and the royal family, he was not on the largest of the Acarnian Islands.

Alone with his own thoughts again, moments after his friends passed through the second portal, Aero heard footsteps coming toward him from outside the dark room. What he couldn’t see in the dark was the door, standing in the wall across from where he sat. The footsteps stopped outside the door and then he heard the jingling of keys, followed by the unlocking of two bolts, and the door flew open to reveal a dimly lit hallway just beyond. To Aero, this dim hallway was like seeing the sun at noon for the first time. He shielded his eyes from the bright light and the silhouette of a single man standing in the doorway.

Although his eyes adjusted quickly to the change in lighting, it wasn’t quick enough to notice the man cross the room to where he sat. The man put a cloth sack over Aero’s head, grabbed him under his right armpit and pulled him into standing position. The man then pulled Aero across the room and they made their way through several corridors, up two flights of stairs and finally outside into the hot glare of the midday sun.

After several steps being marched over a hard, stone-like surface, Aero stepped onto soft ground. The sound of grass whooshing by, let him know that he was walking across grass. The scent of a fresh floral bouquet brought back childhood memories of his mother planting flowers in their front garden. Aero’s heightened senses furnished him with a mixed message of peril and safety when he observed his surroundings. But the man guiding him across the garden was a complete unknown, Aero sensed nothing, felt nothing, it was as if he did not exist. But there was something intangible about his voice made Aero want to give this person the benefit of the doubt, not that he would afford him the smallest amount of trust, but Aero would listen to what he had to say. But as far as Aero knew, this was the very person who kept him locked away for numerous hours, so why go through a song and dance, pretending to care? A shiver of fear told Aero there was no running away, not yet, he had to wait for the right time before any attempted escape

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