“The Knight of Xeo” – part 56: “More Mysteries”

by Brianna G. Harte

Lytos?

A few moments passed before anyone responded, and doubt crawled into my mind. But why would the dwarf lie about a name? I saw no motivation for such a deception, though I wasn’t sure anymore what any knowledge or deception thereof could do.

You know my name. . . young lady?

A sigh of relief rang free. Ad’juk told me your name.

Peculiar. Then what is it. . . young lady?

I want you to tell me what really happened when you got hurt, if that’s alright. I need. . . I need to check something. I glared at Ad’juk. Something doesn’t feel right. You said that you tried to escape and found yourself in the state you are in.

Of course . . . young lady. But I must. . . wait. Some are. . . watching closely. My apologies. . . young lady.

“Perhaps one day, you’ll realize that what I say is true.” As his footsteps echoed on the stone floor, I sighed.

My eyes closed. Each second that passed, I allowed my mind to expand further and further out into the void. Slowly, presences such as Ad’juk’s appeared, along with the sensations that came along with them. The more I reached out, the more feelings of hopelessness or loneliness seemed to appear. There were several things I found strange. Ad’juk. . . It’s hard to describe. I think he was ambitious or confident. It seemed powerful, strong. While depressed feelings seemed sluggish and weak, the waves that came off from him were entirely the opposite. It was like a tidal wave was crashing out with him at the center. Was he confident of deceiving me or of his work on me and the others that were in the underground hospital? A second aspect I found strange was that, unlike before, I could somewhat tell slight differences between the energies that figures gave off. In concentrating on what I released, it seemed very different, but I wasn’t sure what it meant. I couldn’t recall being able to do this before. Perhaps it was some new development in my abilities. Then again. . . I looked at the bracelet getting warmer on my skin. Could it be aiding me?

Lytos, do you know how to read energies between different people?

No answer came immediately. Seeing as he was being observed, it made sense it he never responded at all. I can.

What does it mean? What people give off?

Several moments passed.

Sorry, you said you needed time. I just want to figure everything out, and it’s. . . frustrating.

I understand, young lady. Please, just a little. . . longer. Only jittery feelings emanated from his being. I think I could sense those around him, if I was focusing correctly. I was unfamiliar with them. No waves coming off of them seemed to be hostile, but they’d been studying Lytos. Could they possibly know what to mask to deceive? It seemed that Ad’juk was able to read me fairly well, know what to say.

Once those around him no longer surrounded him, Lytos seemed far more relaxed. Expressions and thoughts they have.

What?

What people give off.

No. It’s something different. Almost like it’s. . . I don’t know how to describe it. It’s mostly constant for each person, unlike thoughts and feelings.

I am. . . unfamiliar with this.

Great.

Please understand. I am not . . . advanced in nature speak, Lytos explained. What you sense . . . it is beyond me.

Who can I ask to help me?

Waves of regret radiated. There is no one. Only the royal family. . . could understand such things.

Copyright © 2018 Brianna G. Harte. All rights reserved.

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“The Knight of Xeo” – part 55: “A Mystery of Truth”

by Brianna G. Harte

As Ad’juk flipped through pages on his clipboard, I tried to take a closer look at the bracelet. At least it wasn’t the ugliest thing to have stuck to me. Whoever made it had an eye for aesthetics. In a word, it was elegant. Simple curves and curls that reminded me of vines branched off as though to welcome leaves. It didn’t add up, though. Why would something that made me think of nature be of any interest to someone comfortable with dimly lit, underground buildings?

“You didn’t make this, did you?” I asked.

“Why do you ask that?” he asked in return without looking up from the papers.

“It’s too nice to belong in a place like this. It’s like. . .”

Ad’juk looked up and seemed slightly interested. “Like what?”

“Nature. This isn’t actually yours, is it?”

He smiled. “You don’t think that my kind like the outdoors? We used to enjoy being outside, but that was a time long past. That was when times were much kinder.”

“But it isn’t yours, right?”

“Not mine.”

“Then who made it?”

Ad’juk locked his writing utensil on his clipboard. “In short, those who understood the souls of others far better than most of any living being. Since you are a xeonia or xeonian, as some may call your people, it would work best with your kind. We are simply attempting to understand it more, and who better than the princess of them?”

“So you’re not trying to hurt me.”

“I have yet to attempt to hurt you in any way since bringing you here.”

“Being strapped to a table and being held captive isn’t treating me well,” I asserted. I held back telling him about my heart and brain aching when I traveled between the two worlds and how I thought it had something to do with the large stone.

“But it isn’t hurting you,” Ad’juk returned. “As I said before, my goal is to learn.”

But what will he do with what he learns? “What about that other person? The one who seemed to be in a lot of pain?”

“Oh, Lytos? It seems that he had a much more adverse reaction to electric charge than we anticipated. We shall see how he fairs, but not much progress has been made.”

I couldn’t tell if he was lying. In a way, I wanted Ad’juk to be telling the truth, but I couldn’t trust him. I wanted to trust others, but I tried to trust Atikana, who wouldn’t even try to help me. I hoped that Lytos, if that was really his name, had not told me lies. But how could I tell? I wanted to be told the truth, but too many pieces were missing.

Copyright © 2017 Brianna G. Harte. All rights reserved.

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“The Knight of Xeo” – part 54: “A Gift I Can’t Remove”

by Brianna G. Harte

I couldn’t figure out how to respond. Was it really that no one tried to rescue anyone or was there something preventing anyone from coming? What was out there? Was there any hope for me to ever escape? I stopped myself before the thoughts destroyed me. I couldn’t rely on Atikana to come, that was true. However, that didn’t mean that I couldn’t escape.

Ad’juk released the clipboard he held onto, placing it on the pedestal. “Since you’ve been such a good child, I’ll give you a little gift.” As he reached into his pocket, I strained my eyes to try to figure out what he was even recording. To my dismay, I had no idea what it said. His writing was composed of various symbols connected through dots it seemed. It could have been an art form as it seemed rather interesting to look at, honestly, but the thought of what it could be about put a darker tone to it.

The dwarf pulled out a canister that fit nicely in the palm of his hand. When he opened it, gas curled out slowly and carried with it an unnerving chill that caused the hairs on my arms to rise. He placed a thick glove on one of his hands prior to reaching in with only two fingers. What came out seemed to be a bracelet or something similar to it, made mostly of a green-tinted metal that curled around and away from a stone that looked exactly like the glowing stone beside me. As beautiful as it looked, I wanted no part of it.

“What is that?”

“A gift. A beautiful accessory created from a special metal called gnaittikrough that will better connect with your soul.” Ad’juk seemed rather interested in the bracelet, which probably was making me feel even more repulsed by it. He placed the canister on the floor, and a clanging on the floor reverberated through the room. From one of his pockets, he produced a tool a little bigger than his hand, though much thinner. Once he flipped a switch, the tip caught fire. “Now, when gnaittikrough interacts with fire, especially after being kept in very cold conditions, it expands and becomes quite malleable. However, it will retain the heat without burning its holder, a nice feature that most metals don’t possess.” As he spoke, he brought the bracelet in contact with the fire. He slowly turned it so that eventually, the blaze licked each part of it. Ad’juk turned off the flame with another flick of the switch. Quickly after, he pulled the beautiful bracelet apart as though it was a claw and then immediately pushed it on my forearm. He was right; it didn’t burn. I could still feel the heat inside it, somehow. He continued to press it on my forearm until it essentially wound around my arm.

Something felt very wrong about it. My heart began to ache as though needles were shooting toward it. “Stop it!”

“It shouldn’t be too painful,” Ad’juk said calmly. “Almost done.” With that, he brought the canister back up and pulled my arm toward it. His strength was unbelievable. There was no way to pull back my arm, despite all my efforts. I had no idea what he was trying to do, but that just made it worse.

He waved the canister and its freezing cold air below my arm until he seemed satisfied. Chills ran up my arm.

“What did you do?”

“Why does it matter, Kasha?”

“Because you’ve never told me anything, and I’m sick of it! I want to know what you’re doing to me!” My frustration was probably greater than what he was probably expecting because he seemed taken aback.

Ad’juk smiled, though. “If you insist, I heated up the metal to expand it, then I molded it to your arm so that it would be fit well and not jingle around. The cold essentially removed any left over heat. The accessory will no longer change shape without heat being applied to it, which you won’t find anywhere nearby.”

“You meant it’s stuck to me? Why?”

“I think you’ll see why soon enough. I can’t give you all the information you want,” he declared as though I was a very young child. “Perhaps you’ll find out on your own.”

Great.

Copyright © 2017 Brianna G. Harte. All rights reserved.

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“The Knight of Xeo” – part 53: “Leaked Information”

by Brianna G. Harte

The moment I started to blink, I sighed. The only bright lighting in the room was the stone still propped onto a pedestal very close to the table I was strapped to. I had to turn away from it. There had to be some connection between that stone, whatever it was, and me continuing to get these headaches. I was tempted to break it and see if that would make an impact, except I would have to get out from the buckles. They seemed to be tighter than before.

I tried to recall the last time I was even in this dark hospital. There was. . . a smell? No. Something about the air vent. I peered up at it. It didn’t seem that it was on at all, but they could be trying to trick me.

The door creaked open to reveal Ad’juk walking in casually with a clipboard in hand. “Quite a persistent pair, they are.”

My eyes narrowed. “What do you mean?”

“That other world, Kasha. The one you keep on returning to,” he said with a knowing smile. “And don’t try to deny it. Our technology is far more advanced than you could imagine. Well, you might not be able to imagine too much without your memories.”

“You’ve been. . . watching me?” Horror crawled its way into my heart.

“I told you last time you were awake that we’d be gathering information in different ways. If you weren’t so stubborn, things could have been a bit different.”

“Why do you think I know anything anyway?”

Ad’juk took down notes as he examined the stone. “It’s not just what you think you know. Oh, it’s so much more than that.”

“You’re never going to get anything from me. Your people attacked mine. I won’t let you do that again.”

“So you think you know the story?” he mused. “Ah, but either side will forever make the adversary to be the evil ones. It always seems to be the case. My goal is rather defensive rather than offensive, not that it makes much of a difference to you. We are making wonderful progress with you, Kasha. It is and shall be thanks to you that we shall be well equipped in the coming times.”

I shook my head. “You’re not making weapons from what I know. How could you?”

“Such an ignorant child.”

Knowledge. That was what Atikana and Torret had said was like a weapon, I think. But what do I know that can help them?

If I may. It seemed to be a very familiar essence. If I could remember right, he had spoken to me before. I hoped that he wasn’t still in pain.

Yes?

I believe. . . they’re trying to collect. . . bits and pieces from all of us.

Us? Is everyone here xeona or. . . xeonia or whatever we’re called?

Many.

Someone told me that some people tried to flee some kingdom of the xeonia.

Yes. Some of us. . . we ended up here. Ever since that day. No one has rescued anyone. . . at least. . . I have not sensed an attempt.

Copyright © 2017 Brianna G. Harte. All rights reserved.

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“The Knight of Xeo” – part 52: “The Headaches Return”

by Brianna G. Harte

“Fine,” I huffed. “It doesn’t matter to me whether or not I am her. Would you help me regardless, though? If the gryphon’s right, I’m your kind, right?”

Torret watched Atikana almost as intensely as I. “I am not in a position to help you at this moment. Not in that world.”

The sunlight seemed to dim. “Why is that?”

“That is not of your concern.”

“Of course it is! I’m the one held captive in the other world, not you,” I huffed. “People should try to protect and help each other, and I’m not just talking about those who are related. I would try to rescue you if you were in trouble, and it’s not because I found out that we’re the same kind of people. It’s because that’s the right thing to do.”

“You are not me. You have not been through the same experiences as I. If you had, you would know why I am unable to provide assistance.”

“Maybe if you tried to help me understand.”

Atikana held up her hand. I wasn’t sure if she meant for me to notice it, but a scar encircled her forearm, something I could not see beneath the long sleeves of her dress before.

“But you were willing to help me in this world when you believed that I was Kasha. Each time I came to this world in that light hospital, you wanted to help me. You also seemed pretty open when I was trying to climb that tree. It’s like your personality flipped once you had doubts in my identity. If I was Kasha, would you try to rescue me in the other world?”

“Stop.”

It didn’t look like I was going to get any more information from her, and it didn’t seem that she was willing to let Torret speak.

“Fine.”

Only moments later, headaches began to burst forth. My vision began to blink in and out of darkness, slowly at first but steadily worsening. My heart began to feel as though it was being torn. I tried to stay upright on the boulder. Pain welled in my chest and head. I began seeing the stone that was on the pedestal flash in and out of sight.

“Not again. . .”

What is happening?

My concentration diminished. It’s. It was hard for me to form a sentence. What if the gryphon could help somehow? What if someone could help? I had to get a word out somehow. Stone.

The world around me began to whirl. My head hit the boulder, and everything went black.

Copyright © 2017 Brianna G. Harte. All rights reserved.

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“The Knight of Xeo” – part 51: “A Little Clarity, A Little Doubt”

by Brianna G. Harte

“I don’t get what the dwarves think they can get from me then,” I sighed. “It’s not like I even know how I’m going back and forth between these two worlds. I’m just doing it.”

That ability likely is not the only information they seek. In fact – Torret stopped short.

“What?”

The gryphon lowered his gaze. Although I didn’t see the woman looking in his direction, I suspected that she had a role in this.

“Is there anything more that you can tell me?” I asked more than a little annoyed.

She amused herself with the question. “Possibly.”

“Who are you?”

Each thought seemed to be analyzed, carefully sorted, and formed into words very carefully. “I am simply a xeonian who seeks to recover Kasha, wherever she may be, and the one who may save our people. You may call me Atikana.”

“What do you mean by save your people?” I began to search the few memories I had. “I think there were a lot of people in that dark hospital back in the other world. Someone who was also kept there helped me figure out how to sense others, but it’s hard to explain. It was hard for him to with the state he was in. Do you mean save them?”

Completely dodging my question, Atikana asked her own. “Did you meet this person? I wonder if he was captured during the destruction.”

“No, I didn’t. Well, actually, I guess I saw him, but I don’t know if that counts as meeting him. Now can you tell me what you mean by saving your people and the destruction?”

Atikana would not speak.

If she will not tell you, I will. Since you are clearly xeonian, this does pertain to you, memoryless as you may be, Torret began. Not too long ago, the kingdom of Xeo was under siege. I had been flying over the forest when I had noticed a large plume of smoke rising from just over the land. It’s a sight that you don’t see often in our world.

“Stop Torret.”

I could not see much as the smoke would have blinded me if I went in closer. However, as my sight is sharper than most creatures, I could see some people attempting to escape the kingdom.

“That’s enough, Torret!” Atikana had come off the boulder and stared intensely into the gryphon’s eyes. The ground began to tremble as her hands clenched. It couldn’t be a coincidence, but what did I know? “I wanted to believe that she is the young lady. However, I see now that she is a bit different from her. There could be some factors that play into why, but we cannot risk information falling into the dwarves’ hands because of wavering hope.”

Copyright © 2017 Brianna G. Harte. All rights reserved.

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“The Knight of Xeo” – part 50: “A Secret of Another World”

by Brianna G. Harte

I couldn’t take her hand. I tried one more time to pull myself over, wanting to be able to take care of myself. However, my fingers just couldn’t grip anything anymore. They slipped, and a terrifying realization dawned on me in an instant. I was at least fifty feet up. I’d either feel the landing very clearly, or I’d be dead on impact. A jolt of fear rattled my brain as my hair flew sky high, and wind rushed by me.

Five feet, ten feet, twenty feet. Every single moment I screamed at the top of my lungs. Every moment felt like an hour. In the back of my mind, I hoped that I would wake up in the dark hospital, though the prospect there only seemed slightly better.

A hard, fuzzy surface met my body, and yet it still felt like I was falling, only slower. Eventually, I wasn’t moving anymore. I wasn’t sure I wanted to open my eyes. Wind lightly brushed my face while birds chirped in every direction. Was I still in the woods?

“You can open your eyes now.”

Am I dead?

Open your eyes and find out.

Reluctantly, I willed my eyes to open. At first, the light blinded me. I had to take several seconds for my eyes to readjust. Black and brown feathers lay beneath my face and hands.

Torret? You caught me?

The gryphon nodded. I was hoping I didn’t have to.

“Sometimes, he’s a bit impulsive,” the lady sighed. “Though I cannot say what he did was wrong.”

“Thank you?” I faced the woman clad in green now on the ground. Her expression was less than joyful.

“I was hoping to figure out if you truly are Kasha.”

I dismounted Torret carefully and quickly realized all of the aches throughout my body. I walked like a robot to a boulder by the woman. “Do you think you can tell me who this Kasha is? The dwarves mentioned her name, thinking I was her. I can’t really tell them that I was or wasn’t.”

“I wonder what happened to you to make you forget who you are,” the woman mused. “Kasha is the princess of a land in another world. This world is home to many different peoples, including the dwarves. From what I have gathered, I imagine that you may have been going in between both worlds connected through your spirit.”

My eyebrows narrowed. “What do you mean?”

“A specific kind of person my world can go in between this world and my world by planting a bit of their soul in the other world in another’s body.” She stopped upon noticing my eyes growing wide. “Over time, they have figured out a way to create a body without harming another.”

“And you think I’m one of those kinds of people?”

She shrugged. “It is possible. It could be why the dwarves have taken such an interest in you. The secret to this power lies only in these few and must be guarded heavily. Should the dwarves learn how to manipulate it, well, I dare not say.”

Rusty gears turned inside my head. “If they are watching me because they think I’m this Kasha, I’m guessing she is also one of these special people?”

The woman withdrew a deep breath. “In a way.”

“You could give a straight answer,” I said, huffing.

“Knowledge can be a source of great power, whether or not it is used in a positive manner,” she explained.

“Torret said something similar.”

“We all know it well. When one faces adversity, this lesson unlearned will be the downfall of the victims.”

Copyright © 2017 Brianna G. Harte. All rights reserved.

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