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J Hart F

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Changed Earth (Part 15)

Ethan stood shivering in the fog, unwilling to warm himself despite his obvious ability. This night wasn't the night for comfort. Winter was due to settle in; and even with the persistent clouds the temperature was getting noticeably cooler. The change was invigorating! Gaia and Her seasons signified life, rebirth; and though the nuclear winter grew ominously chill in everyone's hearts, the cold of true winter made Ethan hope the signs he saw everywhere were true. With the presence of Gaia permanently imbued in his body, Ethan understood the vast history of improbability experienced on Earth.

However, Ethan's discomfort wasn't worry over the survival of his home. this night, soaked in silent reverie, was a rare celestial alignment, the same one present at Ethan's birth. He may not be able to see it, but he felt it coming. A different power radiated from the stars beyond the gray barrier outside the protective sphere, and the combination of the planets in this cadence harmonized with Ethan and his bloodline. This caused the unease and rather than enjoy the secure warmth of the village between the mountains, looking out over hills of green grass and jubilant trees, he needed a quiet, cold place to keep him on his guard. Familial ties ran deeper than the inherent differences between the Sun and Earth. With these ties Ethan understood what Charles felt in the cosmos since his power so undifferentiated itself with that of the Sun. Every major fluctuation in gravitation due to spatial anomalies and coincidences, such as the celestial alignment which was already imprinted in his blood, would flare as signals of power and possibility.

Ethan feared Charles would use this night to his own benefit.

The fog danced and swirled mystically just beyond Ethan's reach. Its subtle sting wisped across his cheek and neck. Every exhalation blended into the gray mists and disappeared into a unity only the air provided with itself. Ethan stood at the boundary between protected atmosphere and toxic fumes. It was hard for him to believe, on a scientific level, how such a malleable structure could transform impurity into amicable substances. Yet, his very existence and survival depended on that magical shield, a magical shield he felt and understood on a more explicit manner than any scientific reasoning could derive. There, at the boundary between the two worlds, Ethan stood in the midst of beautiful fog transform into deadly fog and back again.

Charles' face appeared in the fog for a split second. His blond hair shimmered red and his eyes were black as coal with lines of red magma radiating from the iris. His skin shown beautifully, as radiant as the pure brightness of the sun. The image sparked for a second, revealing the self-assured smile before it vanished behind another billowing of fog.

It took but a mere second to protect himself. Ethan's charms were whispered in his mindscape faster than his body could ever hope to manifest the same conjurations. And in that second, Charles appeared within the protective shield, mere meters away from Ethan.

Neither spoke. There eyes said enough.

Ethan waited for a long while, his body on the verge of battle while his mind reached out silently into the air. His breathing had nearly stopped, slowing to a smooth, trancelike rhythm.

Charles broke the silence. His voice had transformed since their battle. It sounded more pure, powerful, and warm. Ethan knew better. "I've found you, my brother."

"I'm sure it has taken much of your time."

"Indeed. Happy Birthday, Diodoros."

Ethan's spine shivered. "It is not my Birthday."

His smile made the air feel like morning. "Ah, but on such grand cosmic terms, a year is but a second; while the transition and movements of the universe take much longer to replicate the same patterns on wide scales. Why should today not be your Birthday?"

"What is it you came here for, Charles."

"Is it too much to simply desire wishing you a pleasant celebration of such a rare event as your third Birthday?" His laugh felt dry and cracked. Charles looked down at the ground where his feet were starting to char the earth. "Hmm... A hazard of my essence, unfortunately. You'll have to fix this once I've gone."

"Why are you here?"

All of Charles' agreeability disappeared in an instant. "To let you know this isn't over. It may have taken me this long to find you, but next time... I may not be alone. You see... I've learned a lot in the past months. There has always been so much more than what dad taught us. There's so much more that you still need to learn." His foot moved, shoulders relaxed, hands clasped themselves behind his back.

Ethan remained watchful, patient, silent.

"Since it's your Birthday and all... I'd like to give you one more chance to come join me. You don't even have to bring me a sacrifice to prove your... loyalty..." Charles paused as he paced the silence. "I think... Yes, I think I will be sad once I've killed you. I don't want to have to deal with that..."

"What an imposition."

Charles smiled wryly. "Yes. It would seem to be so. Well... I shall leave you, peaceably this time. The offer stands until I find you guys again, at which time..."

He didn't even turn to offer his face. No smile, nor eye contact, gave warning of his departure. A flash of light so brilliant shot through the air, ripping apart the shield near Ethan. Noxious fumes began to fall, no longer held back by the near-invisible barrier. With quick reflexes, even without the use of his eyes, Ethan felt out with his energy and reconstructed the forcefield before too much of the invasive toxins could pass into the delicate atmosphere. What did find its way through went straight for Ethan.

He couldn't see the burning air, but he felt it enter his lungs. He coughed for a short while, unaware of the running footsteps rushing across the hills.

"Elder Adair!" Nick yelled out. "Are you alright? Elder Adair?"

Between coughs, "I'm fine. Thank you."

"What happened?" Alexis asked a little too impatiently.

As Ethan recovered, he managed to sit down and relax slightly while probing his chest to make sure the fumes hadn't permanently damaged his old body. "Charles Sadhin has found us. We need to be ready to leave by nightfall. He may not even give us that long so we must be ready to defend ourselves."

"Well... that took him long enough. He must have had a stroke of luck finding us after all this time." Alexis stood up and made to go back.

Ethan shook his head. "It was no stroke of luck. I knew he would take advantage of tonight."

"What's tonight?" Nick asked.

Alexis losed her eyes and turned around. "It's the alignment of all the planets. You told me about this the last time it happened. You were able to locate Charles back then and discovered he was living in South America at the time... I should have remembered."

Nick looked between them. "Is that how he found you?"

Ethan nodded. "And I fear the alignment's power isn't even at its fullest yet. I will have to remain here until it is completely over." He looked directly at Alexis even though she wasn't looking anywhere on the corporeal realm. "You will need to protect everyone, lead them in my stead. Antoni should go, but I'll understand if he wishes to stay and fight. I have a feeling he'll do no less than work to protect me."

"I'm staying too."

"I can't make you leave, after all. You are trained now. There is little else I can teach you that isn't best learned through experience."

Alexis opened her eyes. "Antoni and the others are waking the village. We'll be ready before sunset and well on our way to the next location. I trust you'll be able to find us."

"Of course. Gaia will guide me."

((To Chad. Thank you.))

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