Weaving Moonlight

The first in the Tales of Terrahgonia series.
Lux Robertson has a destiny.
Prince Stefan wishes to shape his own.
Jamie Cooper just wants to belong.
What do these three teens have in common? They all have a legacy to uphold. But to do this means braving a war against the tyrannical false queen of Terrahgoina, a mystical land long ago forgotten by mortals. But with hidden secrets and traitors in their midst, they may not survive to save the kingdom.

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11. Hijacked

The last time Jamie had been this restless, it had been his tenth birthday. He had waited for his father’s annual visit; waited for a father who never came. This was a different sort of anxiousness, however. He was in his new ‘chamber’, as Taravati like to call it, avoiding the temptation of Morpheus. As far as he was concerned, it was just a vast, over the top room with the world’s most comfortable bed. Compared to the squalor he knew many poor citizens had to survive in, the luxury he was living in disgusted him. Part of him knew it was ridiculous to fear sleep, but with it came the risks of the entrapment of Nastrӧnd. Sooner of later, he knew he would have to give in. Give into sleep’s sweet embrace…

 

Even before Jamie opened his eyes, he knew that something was strange. The repetitive sound of rickety wood somehow managed to unnerve him. He lay on what appeared to be a gravelly floor with numerous rocks dispersed all around, and when he finally stood, he felt much lighter than usual. Jamie had dreamt of many strange things before, and whilst seeing the scattered stars across the night sky covering his dream space like a blanket was rather normal, staring out at planet Earth felt bizarre to say the least. The illuminated orb shone a bright sapphire because of the oceans, whilst swirling misty greys ruined its serenity due to various winds and storms. Unfortunately, the planet was too far to make out which countries were on display. If this was outer space, then Jamie was surprised he was still alive without any oxygen.

Bringing his attention back to the source of the sound, he turned around to see a woman at a strange contraption. She sat on a stool by a machine with a wooden wheel that rotated hypnotically. A glowing piece of string seemed to span the circumference of the wheel and was entangled in other part of the machine. The entire thing looked strange to him, yet oddly familiar. It was a spinning wheel, he realised, remembering the fairy tale. He couldn’t help thinking that he had better not prick his finder on a spindle if he wanted to avoid sleeping for all eternity. He realised that she should have been spinning some material like wool, but what the woman seemed to hold in her hand looked like moonlight. What else could that luminescence be?

 

For a long time he just stared at her from afar and she never looked up at him, too engrossed in her work. He knew that he was there for a reason, wherever ‘here’ was, and it seemed that she was the only one who might be able to answer his questions. Jamie was not sure whether it was her glowing white hair, her grand and sophisticated dress, or her ever-changing appearance that intimidated and unsettled him. As he leapt towards her, he realised that she was singing. Her tune was haunting, filled with her innermost sorrows. It was strange in which the way her words, laced with bitter grief, entered his ears and yet he found it impossible to keep them engraved in his memory. ‘Words came through one ear and left through the other’ he chuckled lightly to himself.

At last, when he had bridged the gap between them, she brought her eyes to meet his. They were a pale yellow, with flecks of silver. They seemed to wane like the moon as she blinked, full orbs one moment, the shape of a crest moon several blinks later. Before Jamie could open his mouth to ask his first question, the woman stopped singing and ceased spinning to address him.

“You ought to wonder why bringing you here is what I chose. Let me briefly tell you of unimaginable woes.”

With the bad poetry aside, he found himself taking this woman seriously. Maybe it was her gaunt features, as if the life within her was being drained away, or perhaps it was her lack of pupils. Either way, he suppressed the smile tugging on his lips.

“Here alone I keep my post

To save our worlds from self-destruction,

Here alone I am a ghost,

A ghost of what I used to be.”

When she did not elaborate, Jamie became rather confused.

“I’m sure that must be terrible, but why am I here?” he asked, becoming impatient now.

The woman looked up again and somehow she seemed to have aged. Her ivory skin was indented with many deep wrinkles, whilst her sunken eyes drilled into Jamie’s being.

“Light and darkness,

A world apart.

You alone can bridge the gap.

Guard you heart,

Guard your heart,

Break free from your trap.”

She repeated this mantra, again and again as her wheel spun around in an incessant rhythm until she faded into non-existence. Strangely enough, the spindle remained, endlessly rotating hypnotically. The earth beneath him began to shake, and crater began to widen. The spindle fell down a hole before his very eyes, the endless thread of yarn following it. Jamie barely had time to process what was happening, and he too began his descent down a dark abyss.

 

Jamie Cooper woke up screaming; still believing that he was plunging towards his doom. Hot and sweaty, he climbed out of his bed. For some unfathomable reason, he had left the curtains drawn before sleeping, allowing rays of moonlight to pour into his room. The moonlight explained a lot. On some subconscious level, he believed that it was possible that he had been aware the whole time, and had therefore conjured up his experience in outer space on the moon. ‘Pity it wasn’t Mars’, he thought to himself. ‘Seeing the Mars rover would have been interesting.’ Deciding sleep was no longer an option; he got dressed and decided to do some exploring.

The palace was so large that getting lost seemed to have become Jamie's new pastime. He realised that he must have taken a wrong turn at some point, because he found himself in a hallway filled with various portraitures. He did not consider them particularly remarkable in anyway, unless you count what appeared to be a dead rat on one of the men's face remarkable. In Jamie's opinion, it was a pathetic excuse for a moustache. Despite the ridiculous facial hair, the man had a stern expression, suggesting that he was not the type to be trifled with. Jamie sneered at his authoritative demeanour. At least it spares me the effort of drawing a silly moustache myself. Unlike the other portraits, this one was not labelled.

Despite himself, Jamie could not help but touch the painting. For once, no one was around to stop him, as they did in official galleries. He had not expected the canvas to be so thin, and he found that it tore beneath his finger. Rather than finding himself touching a wall, however, his finger pressed onto cold steel. 

"What the…" He exclaimed to himself. Decidedly, he tried to unhook the painting from the wall, with little success. Then he tried budging it left, and then right. Finally, it moved, surprisingly opening like a flap. He came face to face with what appeared to be the door to a lift. The only problem was that it seemed to require a handprint and a PIN number to open it.

 

With a sigh of defeat, he was just about to put the portrait back in its place when a black mist came through the closed doors. It swirled around his wrist, the coldness cutting into his flesh like a serrated knife. Scared he had been caught, Jamie tried to swat it aside, like a fly. The shadows became more tangible in that moment, not accepting refusal. It pulled him towards the handprint and consumed his entire hand before planting it on the scanner. An "Identity Confirmed" sign flashed on the LCD screen, shortly to be replaced by a picture of Prince Stefan and asked for the PIN number to be inputted. Before Jamie could do anything to stop it, the shadow that had possessed his hand forced him to enter four digits with his index finger. 1306. The LCD screen was filled with two of the unlikeliest words; "Access Granted". The steel doors opened, and whilst a part of him was interested, Jamie did not appreciate being led by unknown forces. 

Once again, his seemingly possessed hand thrust Jamie forward against his will. He tried to pull himself back, playing a dangerous game of Tug of War but unfortunately, he was pulled in far enough for the doors to close behind him. 

"Crap," he whispered to himself.

His hand tugged again, more fiercely this time. "Alright, alright!"

The fight in him had worn away, afraid that his hand could be pulled off his wrist. He was led up concrete staircases, rather than the spiral one that led down. After one flight, he decided he had endured enough and took a break to catch his breath. His demented possessor was not having it, though, and a tingly sensation throbbed in his feet, and before he knew it, he was climbing up the stairs again. 

 

When he reached the top, he could see that below him was Stefan, the Crown Prince, surrounded by reflections of himself in a hall of mirrors. He had a bird’s eye view of the prince, and whilst he could not see his face clearly, his stark white hair was unmistakable. Jamie was unsure of why he had been led here but he was intrigued, nonetheless. Stefan was either having a conversation with some invisible imaginary friend, or he had gone mad and was having an argument with himself.

“What happened between Taravati and I was a mistake, and you know it.” Stefan said sternly. He seemed to be directing his words and his finger at the mirror. “What makes you think I am in love?”

The prince took a step back, as if in fear. He stood there for a long time, simply staring at the mirror, before finally asking, “What do you know of love?” His laugh was mocking, and slightly maniacal. Jamie had decided quite some time ago that there was something very wrong with Stefan, but seeing him there arguing with himself was not what he had expected. The prince was worse off in the head than he had thought.

Jamie’s possessor must have decided that he had witnessed enough of Stefan’s oddities, as he forced the Guardian to walk away from the balcony, towards a door on his left. The door refused to open, giving Jamie a sense of relief. Maybe now the force controlling him would give up. Instead, a strange sensation filled his feet, easing up slowly. It was a prickly feeling, rather like pins and needles. When he looked down, Jamie saw that his feet were missing and that the rest of him was slowly dematerializing into the shadows. His first instinct was to panic, but he quickly realised that he was firmly held in place, with no one to help him. Calling out to the prince would be an unwise decision, but allowing himself to be overpowered by this enigmatic presence was just as likely a way to get him killed. For one of the first times in a long time, Jamie kept his silence, too afraid of what this force could do to him.

 

When Jamie reformed at the other side of the door, he felt the need to take inventory, to make sure there were no missing limbs. The lighting was dimer here, and his hand involuntarily reached out for something in the gloomy surrounding. He clicked a button, and was pleased when light emitted from the torch. His legs forced him to walk onwards as he shivered from the cold, and reared left, eventually descending down a stone staircase. He reached another door here, and the torch disappeared, perhaps being returned to its rightful place. When Jamie turned the latch and pulled the door in the pitch-blackness, it opened with no difficulty, as he had expected. After walking through, he found himself walking into strange garments made from many different materials. If he still had full control of his hands, he would have swatted them aside quickly in fear, but his possessor was far calmer, drawing them aside carefully. They were luxurious dresses of fine silks and satin. When he exited the closet, he half expected to find himself in Narnia. If only.

Stepping out of the closet, Jamie found himself in a bedroom much like his own, but with a darker colour scheme of purple and black. The king sized bed was furnished with amethyst velvet curtains. At the foot of the bed was an intricately shaped ‘Y’. Fear seeped its way into Jamie’s heart. This had to be Yolanda’s guest bedroom. Unwillingly, Jamie kneeled beside the bed and reached out underneath it. He placed the glass case on the drawer, mesmerised by the object inside it; a fiery, floating feather. Jamie had heard of Phoenix’s. He knew that their feathers had magical properties, but had never seen one for himself. It radiated heat as its form flickered like a candle. Realising that he was simply a pawn in someone else’s scheme, Jamie wished more than ever that head control over himself, but it was useless. He carefully lifted the glass case from the golden knob at the top and reached out for the feather. He expected it to scorch him but instead he seemed to absorb it into himself. He immediately felt warmer, and somehow uplifted. He was just glad that he had not spontaneously combusted.

Jamie’s hands were still wrapped in a black mist as he replaced the domed glass case on the base, this time placing his finger prints on the glass. He hoped his possessor would wipe the mark but it did not and instead continued to return it to its rightful place. Jamie heard footsteps and voices from behind the main door.

“Those mortals will not get the best of me,” Yolanda snapped. Her voice was unmistakable. “Do what you must General, but I must have my rest.” Jamie was already dematerialising before the queen began opening the handle.

 

Appearing in his room was the last thing he had expected. For some reason unknown to him, he had landed sprawled onto the floor, rather than safely on his new comfortable bed. Jamie sat up instinctively, relieved to find that he was in full control of himself again.

“You’re going to be okay, Jamie. You’re going to be okay.” He tried convincing himself as he sealed his eyes shut and breathed as steadily as possible.

“Yes, I’m sure everything will be just fine, James.” A voice called out, too close for comfort.

Jamie flung his eyes open and was greeted by a face void of any features, filled with nothing but blackness. Jamie found himself frozen in place by fear. The voice had sounded like the prince but this creature possessed an aura far more ancient that the young prince.

“Who or what are you?”

“Would it be clichéd if I told you I was your worst nightmare?” It asked. Jamie almost laughed, but settled for a cough. “Who I truly am remains a mystery, even to myself. What am I, you ask? I am an ancient creature made of Darkness itself. I prey on the fearful and weak, and I smell fear in you, boy.”

How could Jamie respond to something like that? There was nothing humorous about it, and without a joke to crack, he was unsure how to get through this situation. He mustered enough courage to stand up and look the creature in the eyes, or rather, where its eyes should have been.

“It was you forcing me to do all those things, wasn’t it?”

“Quite the detective you are.” The creature replied sarcastically, patting his head like a pet.

“What do you want with me?”

“I want you to help me regain what was taken from me. I want to be whole again. I want to remember.” Its voice was anguished and showed the determination it had.

This was a creature not to be reckoned with, and whatever it wanted, Jamie knew he would be forced submit to its will, whatever that entailed.

 

 

 

 

 

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