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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3. Home Sweet Home

Jamie

 

            "You're late" Stefan stated, flatly.

            His blue eyes narrowed as he gazed up at Jamie from his leather sofa. The Guardian in question could not look at the prince without feeling disgusted. They had plans to use him, him and the queen. They were still at Yolanda’s palace, but the prince had decided to meet him in the privacy of his study. The room had an emptiness to it, as if no one had lived in here for a long time. There was a simple desk at one corner and a bookshelf stood at one end of the wall, reaching the ceiling. The only thing missing were the books. The room was well lit by hovering balls of light. Stefan wore an expensive suit, no doubt made by only the best fashion forward faeries. His white hair was left untamed. It wasn’t short but it was not very long either. James looked scruffy in comparison with his faded AC DC top and skinny jeans. His hair was a shaggy blonde mess with a black trilby hat on top. He refused to remove it, despite what the queen had said about manners.  
            "Honestly I'd prefer not to be here at all," He replied. "So you can spare me the lecture."
The prince's expression softened just for a moment, and then as if remembering himself, he tensed his jaw.

            "You may be able to get away with speaking that way to me but I would be more respectful towards the queen.”

            Jamie rolled his eyes. Then he remembered what she and the prince were capable of. "You seem rather headstrong around her. That or otherwise stupid. Still, I admire that about you."

            'Headstrong' was not exactly the adjective Jamie would use to describe himself. No one had been able to manipulate him the way they could. Terrahgonia had once been a haven for him. When he had problems, he ran from them and came here. He tried to avoid dangerous places the best he could, but it seemed that danger was never far when he was near. This time however, he just had not been cautious enough. Still, despite his fears, he kept his impertinent manner.

            "My mother will not be pleased, however." Stefan continued.
            "Ooh... I'm quivering in my high tops."

            He did not need a lecture. He knew the queen was trouble. She had a cold beauty to her and her attempts at kindness had made Jamie wary. He knew that joining the duo of his own accord would have been the easier option but making things easy would not have been any interesting. To Jamie, the whole ‘join me’ scenario had looked like a scene straight out of ‘Star Wars’. No, he would stay true to himself, even if it did mean a horrific fate beyond his imagination. “You should get a pair, by the way. I bet you only wear those to see your own reflection.” He said, light-heartedly.

            “Are you always this infuriating?” Stefan asked quirking up an eyebrow.

            “Infuriating? You wound me.” Jamie was anything but. 

            “If you do not mind, I would like to get on to business.”

            “Fire away, Princey.”

             Stefan gave him such a threatening look that he feared that he would actually set him on fire. It would not be the worst he had faced in Terrahgonia. Jamie shivered at the thought of those cannibal giants.

            He waved his hand and a chair appeared. With his lopsided grin in check, he took a seat opposite the prince.

            “I hope you are aware of the implications of your situation, James.” Stefan addressed him with such seriousness that he might have mistaken it for actual concern. But why would Prince Stefan care about him? Ever since that dreaded night, when the two royals had united to find a way to control their new pawn, Jamie had become increasingly aware of a sinister presence lurking inside of him. He didn’t know how to explain it; he just knew. He didn’t like and he continued to try and believe that it wasn’t truly there.

            “You and the queen wish to control me to do your bidding. What’s not to get?” Sometimes people treated him as if he were thick. Stefan seemed to flinch at Jamie’s bluntness. ‘So he can dish it out, but he can’t take it’, Jamie thought to himself. “Don’t bad guys ever get tired of trying to take over the world?” Stefan merely blinked at him.

            “What makes you think that I am the enemy?” Jamie was taken aback.

            “Seriously? Everything about you screams bad guy!”

            “My mother seeks a world where Terrahgonia and Nisyros can unite as one nation.” Stefan argued.

            “Newsflash, Princey: Nisyros wants to remain an independent nation. They will die fighting to keep it that way.”

            “Then their soldiers will perish in vain.”

            “Spoken like a true villain.”

            “I do not believe I brought you here to discuss my morals. Your queen has assigned you an important task and she has asked-”

            “She is not my queen” Jamie snapped.

            The prince sat upright like he meant business. A jewelled dagger materialised in his hand. Jamie’s heart rate accelerated. He wondered what Stefan would do with it. The prince looked placid as he brushed the tips of his fingers along the gem encrusted flat of the blade. Jamie sat still, never drifting his eyes from the prince as he removed something from a pocket inside his blazer. Jamie pictured the worst: the dagger being thrown at him; the dagger transforming to a full sized sword. At last Stefan brought something out. A cloth. He cleaned the dagger with it momentarily, his pale eyes never wavering from it.

            “She has charged me with the responsibility of making sure you do it.”

            Jamie imagined kidnapping people in the name of the queen, or worst still, killing. He knew he did not have it in him to commit such cruelties, but here, Yolanda’s word was law. If she truly did have control over him, he would not have choice anyway.

            “What does she want me do?” He asked at last, taking the plunge. Stefan finally looked at him, his eyes showing pain he would not tell.

            “You rejected our previous offer and you have shown obvious lack of respect towards us. It is for these reasons that you will not need to know of your plans, or at least, consciously.” Jamie did not know what that meant and he was not sure he wanted to.

            “What does she want me to do?” H repeated. He was serious now. There was nothing funny about being forced to cause harm to others.

            “Just know that I promise that everything will work out in Terrahgonia’s favour.” Then Jamie was plunged into darkness.  

***

            Jamie Cooper woke up gasping for air. His lungs burned, in dire need of oxygen. His hangs flailed out in search of something, for anything that could save him. At last, he gripped on to something solid. He dared to open his eyes for a moment but they immediately began to sting. The water was foul and it tasted vile. It was all the most horrible tastes he could imagine, wrapped into one. He tasted blood, and then it was the metallic taste of spinach, then prune juice. Jamie hoped it was all just a nightmare but it felt far too real. He felt a hand pull him away, and then an arm wrap around him. Just when he thought it was all over, he was propelled upwards. Then everything was gone.

            Jamie coughed out a horrid liquid. He could feel someone pressing sown on his lungs. He felt someone pressing down on his lungs. He felt disorientated but at last things seemed to come into perspective. Looming over him was a tall, cloaked man.

            “Guardian, can you hear me?” He asked.

            “Yeah. I can smell you too.”

This was perhaps not the best response to someone who had just saved his life, he realised. The man moved away. Jamie sat up, on a beach. It was unlike any other he had seen before. The grey ocean seemed to have a life all its own. The grey ocean seemed to have a life all its own. The tide came in at irregular intervals, and when it did come in, it took a person in with it. Well, Jamie wasn’t sure if ‘people’ was the right word for what they were. They were empty shells that had been merely reanimated. They were ghosts of creatures that may have once lived. They lurked the shores in drudgery, but often lingered to one secure place. Their eyes were hollow and lifeless; their bodies were frail and thin. Coldness engulfed the entire place, with a breeze that Jamie could do without. His clothes were still wet and his teeth chattered so hard he thought they would shatter. The sky was a perpetual twilight. It was neither truly night, nor day. The whispers and incomprehensible chatter of the shades- for that is what Jamie knew them to be- sent shivers down his spine. They seemed wary of him, frightened even.

            “Where am I?” He finally asked the man.

            “Niflheim. Nastrond, to be exact. Welcome to my humble abode.” He seemed to be prideful. Jamie couldn’t help wonder what kind of weirdo would like this place.

            “You live here?”

            “That is a difficult question.”

            “I believe it is a straightforward ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.” Jamie replied.

            “I come and go as I please.” ‘The man came and went’, Jamie wondered who would want to stay in a place like this, even for a moment. A shadow was cast over the man’s face. It made the Guardian wary, even if he had saved him.

            “How do I get out of here then?” Jamie asked. The man laughed a humourless laugh.

            “I think you will find that you shall be here for a while.”

            “Surely if you can find a way out, then so can I.”

            “Perhaps” He purred.

            “May I ask you a question?”

            “You already have.” Jamie rolled his eyes.

            “I’ll ask another. Who are you and how do you know me?”

            “That is two questions.”

            Jamie was getting rather irritable. He was in unknown territories and the only person- or perhaps creature- that could help him was being difficult. He had never particularly enjoyed his life in the mortal realm but it suddenly looked like heaven, compared to this place.

            “If you must know, I do not know my name. I am nameless. It was lost to me long ago. As for my knowledge of you, I have my sources.”

            Jamie could not fathom how one could lose their own name. The man- or creature- must have been very ancient. “I cannot stay, but know that things are not what they appear to be. You may find friends in the unlikeliest of people. The shades that wonder this beach are banished creatures from Terrahgonia, and her neighbouring country, Nisyros. They are too cowardly to face the terrors that exist outside this area, for there are further dangers than the merciless tide, and myself, of course.”

            It was only then that the Guardian realised that the other shades stayed clear from them. Could it be because the creature that stood before him was more dangerous than everything that dwelt on this damnable beach?

            “And what is beyond this beach?”

            “Shadows. They are the negative essence of every sentient being that resides in Terrahgonia. They are creatures with no mercy and no fear. You would do well to stay within the reasonable safety of Nastrond.” Jamie didn’t like being told what to do but he knew it would be wiser to do as he was told, for once.  

            “I must be on my way now. We will meet again, Guardian.” Jamie panicked. There was so much he was yet to know.

            “Wait! I still don’t understand how I got here and how to get home.”

            “Once you cage the creature, you will regain control.” He answered. It made no sense to Jamie. The creature started to dematerialise, in a mist of blackness.

            “Please! Help me.”

            He was hysterical now, trying to keep a hold onto the creature. But his hand went through him, and soon he was left alone. The man’s words lingered in his head. ‘Once you cage the creature, you will regain control’. What creature could he be speaking of? Jamie knelt on the sand, in defeat. He hunched his back and held his hands to his face. All he ever wanted was a life with a purpose. What could he do inside this hell hole? This was no way of living. He thought of home and all the trouble he had there, once his mother remarried. Still, this would never compare to it. At home, he often wondered if he was truly loved, but here there was no one here but shades. Some were angry, some confused. All were miserable.

Jamie scooped up fine sand in his hands. It felt very real. He wished he could at least cling on to the belief that this was some sort of delusion. It was not. He finally decided to lie on the sand. He brought his knees to his chest, in a foetal position. He closed his eyes tightly and counted to himself. Ten, nine, eight. He had to believe he could find a way out. Seven, six, five. Perhaps this was all but at elaborate illusion. Four...three. Maybe this was their way of teaching him a lesson- Prince Stefan and Queen Yolanda. Two... one. Once he opened his eyes, this would all be gone. It would never have even happened. He opened his eyes. He was disappointed. Everything was as it was ten seconds ago. Deep down, he had expected no less. Why would he have? This was no fantasy, or indeed television. He just had to face that he could end up staying there for a while. Nastrond, his new home. ‘Home sweet home, he thought bitterly.  

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