Read The Eternal Darkness Online

Authors: Steven A. Tolle

Tags: #Teen & Young Adult, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Sword & Sorcery

The Eternal Darkness (9 page)

BOOK: The Eternal Darkness
5.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“I am being rude,” he said.  “We must talk about that in more detail later, Jake, but please finish your story first.”

Once they reached the end of their account, the old man told them to finish eating as he leaned back against his chair, thinking.  Jake and Hailyn finished their meal and waited for Tomaris to say something.  Finally, he straightened in his chair.

“That is a remarkable tale,” he said, a gentle smile on his face.  “You both showed strength and courage beyond your years.  You have accomplished something that I had feared was beyond us.”  He reached out towards Hailyn.  “If you would, child, please let me see the sword.”

She unwrapped the blanket from around the sword, the blade’s light glowing softly as it was uncovered.  She held it hilt first to Tomaris.  Jake watched as he slowly reached out to grasp the hilt, the light reflecting off of his eyes, an unreadable look on his lined face.

As soon as Tomaris’ hand touched it, the blade flared brilliantly.  He carefully lifted it off the blanket, the white light of the blade illuminating the room.  He closed his eyes in concentration.  As he did, the light blazed brighter.

Jake heard Hailyn gasp softly.  Jake glanced at her and saw her looking at her wrist.  The runes on the bracelet were shining in response to the sword.

“Remarkable,” Tomaris said quietly as he gently brought the sword down.  He opened his eyes and looked towards them.  “The sword contains much power, more than I had hoped.”  His face was kind and sympathetic as he studied them.  “I believe that it will give me the strength to send Jake back to his own world.”

Jake sat in his chair on the patio of his room, looking at the sky, the stars shining brightly in the crisp night air.  The moon had not yet risen, so the stars seemed closer and more numerous than he remembered.  He could hear the faint sounds of the courtyard below, people talking and laughing, and the muffled playing of music coming from some of the buildings.  He wrapped his blanket closer as he sat there thinking, his mind and soul troubled.

Tomaris seemed confident that he could send Jake back home, but had told them that he needed that night to prepare.  He would study the sword tonight and make the attempt in the morning.

After leaving Tomaris’ study, Jake had led Hailyn to his room.  Learthe had given her the connecting room and their belongings were stacked neatly inside the door.  They had talked for a while, sitting on the bed and holding each other close.  They both were overcome with emotion as they realized that tomorrow might be the last day they had together.  Amid the tears, Hailyn had pleaded a headache and gone to her room.

His emotions roiling inside him, Jake had sought the familiar comfort of his patio, craving the solitude of his chair and the chilly night air.  He was torn by his conflicting loves, knowing that he would have to forsake one to safeguard the other.  He could stay here with Hailyn, but that would mean losing his family.  He was still distressed by the thought of his parents never knowing his fate, the lifelong agony that would cause them.  But to spare them that, he would have to lose Hailyn forever.  The only thing he knew for certain was that either choice would break his heart.

With the solitude bringing no comfort and the chill of the night beginning to become uncomfortable, he retired to his room.  Extinguishing his lamps, he crawled into the bed, pulling the blankets close.  His troubled mind would not allow him to sleep, so he stared up at the shadowy ceiling, wrestling with his choices.

In the darkness, he heard the door between the rooms open just before Hailyn softly called his name.  “I’m awake,” he said gently.  He heard her cross the room and climb into the bed.  She slid over to him and clasped him tight.  He held her in his arms, taking comfort in her presence.  They lay there silently for a time, simply holding one another.

“Jake,” she whispered.  “For myself, I don’t want you to leave.  I love you and want to spend my life with you.”  She trailed off and Jake felt her take a deep breath.  “However, I don’t want you to come to resent me for keeping you from your family.”

“I would never do that, Hailyn,” Jake said, trying to comfort her.  “Whatever happens is because I choose to do it.”

“You say that now, Jake, when everything is still new,” she replied.  “But what about in a year or two or ten?  As the years go by, will you still be comfortable with your decision?  You will miss all of those life events of your family – marriage, children, and eventually the passing of your parents.  I know that you are concerned for your mother and father regarding what has happened to you.”

“Are you saying you want me to leave?” Jake asked, holding his breath for the answer.

“No,” she said quickly.  “I just want you to know that I will understand if you choose to leave.  I have my family and I do not know how I would react if faced with parting from them for all time.  I will love you, no matter your decision.”

“I know that,” Jake said gently, pulling her closer and kissing her softly.  He felt the tears on her face and soothingly wiped them away.  “I love you and always will.”

They fell silent as both simply relished the closeness they had now.  After a time, Jake felt Hailyn breath fall into the regular rhythm of sleep.  However, sleep did not come for him.  When the sun rose and daylight brightened the room, Jake was still staring at the ceiling, tears staining his cheeks, holding Hailyn close.

When the servants brought some food, they ate breakfast in silence, neither particularly hungry, simply staring into each other’s eyes.  After the meal, Jake neatly stacked his armor and weapons in the room, knowing that he would not need them back on Earth and they would raise questions he could not answer.  He held the sword that Norlan had made for him one last time.

“Tell Norlan, Madalin and Cherise thank you and good-bye for me,” Jake said to Hailyn.  He felt the tears well up in his eyes as he spoke.  “They gave me so much.  I wish I could-” he cut off as the emotion got the better of him.

“I will, Jake,” she said soothingly, coming over to hug him despite the tears in her own eyes.  “I will tell them everything.”

Kissing her, he broke their embrace and put the sword down with a regretful sigh.  He went through the rest of his things, digging through his saddlebags.  As he reached down deep in his bags, he felt a familiar object and pulled it out.

It was his phone.  It had been so long since he last held it, he had forgotten it was there.  He tried the power, but the battery was dead.  He shoved it into one of his pockets and continued to sort through his things.

Once he had gone through everything, he slowly turned around and took a last look at his room.  Taking a deep breath and releasing it slowly, he offered his hand to Hailyn.  Once she held it, he took that first, and hardest, step and headed for the door.

As they walked slowly towards Tomaris’ study, not trusting his voice to stay steady, Jake whispered hoarsely, “Thank Jonas and Dominic for me.  I cannot thank them enough, but tell them anyway.”

“I will,” she told him.  “They know, but I will tell them.”

They reached the door of the study and the finality of it hit them.  They embraced again, holding each other tight, not wanting to let go.  Knowing that they had to continue, they parted and entered the study, foreboding and sadness dragging at their steps.  Tomaris was standing near the window, looking over the Keep.  The passing clouds outside muted the light in the study, giving the room a strange sense of loss that mirrored their own.  The sword was resting against the shelves near Tomaris.

He turned to face them.  Sympathy and compassion were on his face when he addressed them.  “I know that you have come to love one another and this is a difficult day,” he said, voice gentle.  He looked at Jake.  “The choice is yours, child.  You do not have to leave.  You can stay here and live out your life, if you wish.”

“We talked about it, Tomaris,” Jake replied, trying to stay strong.  “If you can send me home, then I have to go.  I cannot leave my family not knowing whether I am alive.”  He felt his heart rending in two as he said it, tightening his grip on Hailyn’s hand.

“If that is your decision, Jake, then we should start,” Tomaris stated.  “The pain of separation will not be relieved by waiting.”

Jake turned to Hailyn and pulled her close.  He buried his face in her hair as they embraced.  They clung to each other for a time, and then pulled back slightly.

“I love you, Hailyn,” he said brokenly.  “I will never forget you. You will always be in my heart.”

“I love you, Jake,” she replied, tears streaming down her face.  “I will always love you,” she whispered and tightened her arms around him.

He leaned down and kissed her gently, the agony of leaving her a physical pain.  His resolve faded as he held her close, the warmth of her body next to his, her soft hands on his face.  He was prepared to tell Tomaris that he was changed his mind when the image of his mother crying and his father lost intruded into his mind. 
How can I leave them like that
? he thought bitterly.

“Come, children,” Tomaris said gently.  Jake looked up to see him with the sword in his hand, the blade pulsing brightly.  “If we are to do this, then let us begin.”

Reluctantly, Jake forced himself to let Hailyn go.  One last kiss, one last squeeze of her hand and they separated.  She tried to give him a brave smile amidst the tears, but it faded into a sob as he stepped towards Tomaris.

“You have done this world a great service, Jake.  Your efforts may bring an end to the demons,” Tomaris said as he came over to Jake.  “Never forget that when you are home.”

He reached up to touch Jake’s forehead.  “I want you to think of your world, Jake.  Focus on where you were when you came here.”  Jake closed his eyes and pictured the pond in the Black Hole Woods.  He felt Tomaris’ power flow into his body.

Then Tomaris stepped back and Jake opened his eyes.  Tomaris’ eyes were closed, his face full of concentration, the sword blazing almost blindingly in his hand.  Jake felt a warmth surround him as a swirling band of golden-white light spun around his body.  He looked over to Hailyn, wanting his last sight of this world to be her.  The golden light reflected off of the tears on her face as their eyes met.

The light swirled faster and faster, the warmth increasing as the light tightened around him.  He felt a slight shifting, as if the floor moved under his feet.  He waited, anticipating that surge of movement that would take him back to Earth.  His eyes drank in Hailyn’s face through the spinning light, his ability to focus on her fading as the light flared.

Unable to bear seeing her cry, he closed his eyes, pushing the tears down his face.  He stood there for what seemed an eternity, waiting for the transition to begin.  He felt a shudder as he stood in that pillar of light, but that was all.  Opening his eyes, he saw through the whirling light that he was still in Tomaris’ study, Tomaris only a few feet away.

The old man’s face, covered in a fine sheen of sweat and his eyes squeezed shut, was twisted with strain.  The sword shone intensely in his hand as he strove to send Jake home.  As Jake watched, a trickle of blood began to flow from Tomaris’ nose.  The flow of blood increased, running down across his lips and falling to the floor.

Suddenly, Tomaris shuddered and the sword fell from his hand, the light winking out.  The old man fell back and tumbled to the floor.  Hailyn raced over to him, her body shining with power, and knelt next to him.

Jake stumbled forward as the swirling light suddenly vanished and he was free to move.  He ran over to Tomaris, dropping to a knee next to Hailyn.  Tomaris’ eyes were open and the flow of blood stopped as Hailyn healed him.

“Thank you, child,” he said weakly to Hailyn when she pulled back.  “Please help me to a chair.”  Together, they lifted and assisted him into one of the chairs.  Hailyn pulled a cloth from her robe and handed it to him for the blood.

Tomaris saw the worried looks on their faces as he wiped the blood away.  “Be not troubled,” he told them soothingly.  “I am fine.  I am just old and my body could not take the strain of attempting something beyond my power.”

He looked at Jake.  “I am sorry, Jake, but I cannot send you home,” he stated simply.  “It is not simply because of a lack of power.  When I attempted to bridge the gap between worlds, I was blocked.  I did not have the strength to break through that resistance.”

Those purple eyes lost focus for a moment, and then were sharp again.  “It was the one who leads the demons that stopped me.  I fought with the dark power that challenged me and, in our struggle, I knew him as he now knows me.”

He straightened in his chair, his face determined as he faced them.  “Unless the demons’ leader is destroyed, you will never leave this world, Jake.”

“How can we do that?” Jake asked.

“The demon knows that I have the sword,” Tomaris replied.  He paused for a moment, thinking.  “That may be what gives us an advantage.”

“I don’t see how,” Jake stated.

“Always remember that the demons are driven by a need to rule and dominate,” the old man responded.  “It would never occur to them to give up an object of power that gave them an advantage.  They will assume that I plan to keep the sword.”  He glanced out the window for a moment.  “That makes me a serious threat.  I fear that they will move against the Keep.”

“So how does that help us?” Jake inquired, not understanding.

Tomaris was silent for a long time before he answered.  He reached out to pat Jake’s hand.  “If you have any hope of going home, you must fight for it.  With the demons’ attention focused here, you can take the sword and confront the demon lord.”

“Are you serious?” Jake asked, shocked.  He had faced enough demons as far as he was concerned.

“I am, Jake.”  Tomaris shifted in his chair and leaned forward.  “I cannot go.  If the demons come, I must be here to confront them.  The people here are under my protection and I must honor that trust.  Besides, my body cannot take the rigors of such travel.”

Jake stood there in stunned silence, unsure of what to say.  Hailyn came closer and reached over to take his hand.  That comforting act broke the grip of Jake’s indecision.

BOOK: The Eternal Darkness
5.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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