Book 3 Chapter 33

As the darkness sifted away, things didn’t feel like Lucci expected them to. The last thing he remembered was the clash of steel and magic as Master TsuYa and KoGuRai met in the center of the Cynosure. The shouts of battle and the pressure of darkness closing in on them from the outside. The rush of fear as Lucci gave into the voices in his head – all who told him to run. To get away.

That’s what he did. One of the scripted tiles of the chamber lit up, a tall white portal. Seeing the opening, he leapt through. There was no thought of what he would find on the other side. No thought to whether the light was something safe to jump through. Simply a wild lunge into the unknown. Followed by silence. Darkness. And now waking.

A strange, lulling sound rose and fell in his ears, a distant woosh and swish of something vast and immeasurable. At first, Lucci wondered if it was a strange wind or a rising storm. As his senses became clearer, he realized it was the sound of moving water. A lot of water.

Lucci pushed himself up on his palms, squinting at the warm clear light that streamed through the windows. A soft breeze trickled through the parted curtains, sending them waving in welcome. Moist fingers of air stroked past his face and through his hair, carrying the smell of brine.

Where am I?

The youth’s silver eyes flitted back and forth, studying his surroundings, completely unknown to him. He was in a small room with smooth, curved walls of pinkish-white. Rainbows danced over the surface as he moved his head. Though it wasn’t the same as his room back in Ceiswyr, it was close enough to send a pang of homesickness through him.

For a moment, he simply sat there, hands gathering up the soft light blue bedcovers between his fingers. Sat there in a silence that he was unaccustomed to. That’s when he realized…

Where are They?

Once more, his head turned, looking for that which could not be seen, but only felt. The spirit voices. The eyes from the Mists. Even the comforting presence of Kaz. There was nothing.

For once, Lucci was alone. He had no idea why or whether this was good or bad. It felt really strange to him… strange and somewhat scary. It was the first time he was so far away from home, in a strange place, without the guidance of his friend.

“Kaz?” Lucci’s voice was creaky in his ears. “Kaz? Can you hear me? Where are you?”

The answer he got was not one he expected.

He heard the sound of shuffling from the other side of the curtain-door followed by low voices. For the first time, the youth realized that wherever he was, however he got there, he wasn’t alone. A tightness gripped his throat at the sound of footsteps drawing nearer causing Lucci to clutch the blankets in a childlike motion. His wide, silver eyes focused on the motion of the curtain as it drew back. He held his breath as not one, but two faces materialized from the other side.

There stood a man and a woman who, much to Lucci’s surprise, both bore the white hair and green eyes of the people of the Inner Realm. An arch of feathered wings rose from their shoulders, marking them as Lord Zemi’s people. Just for a moment, the youth wondered if he was somehow transported back to the Islands after all.

“Well, now, look who’s finally awake. Hello world!” the man said with a wide, welcoming smile.

He sidestepped to allow the woman to peer through the doorway beside him, where they both watched him with great interest and expectation. There was a kindly sound to the man’s voice and an honest, friendly expression on his face, despite the fact that he wore the strangest face-decoration that Lucci had ever seen.

When the youth glanced over at the woman, he realized that she, too, wore a similar face decoration. Round and flat, two circles of clear glass sat within wire frames, balanced on her small nose. It gave her the look of strong intelligence, even as she pushed the straying waves of blue-white hair out of her eyes to smile at him.

“You must have had a long trip?” her tone was also welcoming. Her voice resonated in his mind with a strange, tingling feeling, something that Lucci felt in few people before.

The youth nodded, fighting to reclaim his voice from the depths of uncertainty.

“Would you like something to eat? Or to drink?” the man followed up. “Don’t be shy. Whatever you need, just let us know.”

“Wat…er?” Lucci finally managed to croak.

“There you go. That wasn’t so hard, was it?” the woman smiled. She turned her words towards the man as she walked back out through the curtain to the other room. “I’ll fix him something. Just check him.”

“Of course… of course…” the man waved her away with a droll sigh. Then he turned his attention back to the youth, adjusting the face decoration’s position on his nose. Before Lucci knew what was happening, he pulled out a strange, slender object and stuck it near his ear. “Do you have any signs of dizziness?”

Lucci puzzled for a moment, knowing better than to shake his head with something poking his ear. “No?”


The youth didn’t know what that meant. Now the strange object was held up to his eye. He realized that the man was using it to inspect him, but he wasn’t sure why.

“Upset stomach?” the man clarified.


“Headache?” The object now was looking up his nose.

“No, sir… I’m okay. I just need water. Really?”

“Open your mouth and say ‘ahhh’ for me,” the man intoned.

“Ahhhhhhh?” Lucci did as he was instructed. Sure enough, the object was poked into there, too.

“Just like that. Good,” he nodded to himself, seeming to be pleased with what he saw. Then he pulled out another object, which was round, flat and made of some sort of silvery metal. This he placed against Lucci’s neck. “You can close your mouth now, son.”

Lucci did as he was told. Just before the device went down the front of his shirt, pressed against his chest. The youth squirmed and almost laughed – the metal was cool and surprisingly ticklish.

The man laughed with a cheerful quip and told him, “Hold still, now. I’m listening to your heartbeat.”

“My heartbeat? Why?” Lucci found his interest peaked.

“To make sure that you’re not hurt or sick,” the man answered.

“Oh?” Lucci paused, mulling over the thought. It was the first time that a stranger – especially one of the winged people – was so concerned with his health.

Maybe he doesn’t know that I’m the Bane. Maybe that’s a good thing.

“Everything looks good here,” the man finally said, putting away his strange device. “Did you get plenty of sleep?”

Lucci nodded. He found himself nodding a lot in response to the man’s somewhat eccentric, but friendly manner.

“Excellent. Now just relax. Maru will have that water for you shortly, and probably some good perth-broth, too,” the man winked over the rim of his face decoration. “That sounds good, doesn’t it?”

Lucci nodded again, even though he wasn’t sure what the man was talking about. There was just something in the way he spoke that put the youth at ease, something that was very genuine. After not seeing a friendly face for so long, Lucci found himself drawn to the room full of smiles, welcomes and good will.

“Your name is Lucci, right?” the man asked, obviously knowing the answer already. Before the youth could respond, the man continued on, talking to himself in a genial manner. “Lord Zemi told me that you’d be a boy, but you certainly don’t look like a boy to me. Unless they grow kids taller in Ceiswyr now a days. You can never tell anymore, I suppose, with all the hodgepodge going on up there.”

Though the last statement was spoken with a chuckling-quip, Lucci couldn’t help but cringe.

He knows who I am? He knows Lord Zemi, and he knows about Ceiswyr? Then for sure, he knows I’m the Bane.

The woman came back through the curtain with a tray balanced between her hands. She offered a coaxing smile. Before Lucci knew it, all thoughts of worry flew straight out of his head.

“He’s a scatter-brained lout, Lucci. Don’t let him fret you,” she said, as if knowing exactly what the youth was thinking. “He’s not even socially apt enough to introduce himself before presuming other people’s names.”

“Huh? Oh?” the man gave a startled look. Then a wide grin.

The woman placed the tray on the little night stand next to the bed. “Either that, or he just has this delusion of grandeur that everyone already knows his name.”

“Don’t they?” came the quip.

“Maybe in your own little world,” she teased and kissed him lightly on the cheek.

Lucci found himself flushing. But smiling, too, in a peculiar sort of way.

“You ARE in the presence of greatness, Lucci!” the man chortled and gave a low bow, spreading his arms as he did. “I am known as NaDoTu – Scientist… Inventor… Seeker of Higher Truths! And you have arrived at Shellab 1.0, the utmost important locale of the Vision Stone project!”


The youth’s face boggled. Though, again, he didn’t understand what it all meant, it sounded very big and important.

“And this is my beautiful wife,” the man reached over, hooked one arm around the woman’s waist and pulled her next to him, “KiMaRuTu.”

“Just Maru is fine,” she added quickly. “You’re going to overwhelm the boy, NaDo.”

He gave another laugh as she playfully pushed away, her palms braced on his chest. Maru then turned back to Lucci, putting a spoon and napkin on the tray and motioning for him to eat.

Despite being in strange company, when the smell of the broth reached his senses, Lucci realized he was very hungry. Any manners that were impressed upon him in his youth were erased during the long weeks of traveling out on his own. Added to the ravenous appetite, he soon finished off the small loaf of bread and the whole bowl of soup, face hopeful for more.

“Nothing wrong with his appetite, that’s for sure,” NaDo laughed.

“Not for his size. I wasn’t thinking about that. I suppose I miscalculated,” Maru rubbed her head, then gave Lucci a wink. “Just hold on and I’ll get you some more.”

“Yes, ma’am,” the youth replied, this time remember his manners.

As Maru shuffled back out of the room, NaDo was already filling in the void with cheerful chatter, most of which Lucci didn’t really understand. Still, the feeling of friendly company and conversation overrode his confusion. It was nice to be with people again, away from the pressing eyes of the spirits and the twisty world of the Mists.

I’ll have to remember to ask him why this place seems to block Them. Nowhere else, not even Lord Zemi’s Islands, has ever had that effect.

Just then, Lucci noticed another shape appear on the other side of the curtain. A much smaller shape, followed by a pair of curious, green eyes. The shape didn’t make a sound, nor did it attempt to come through the curtain. But, Lucci could sense it there, along with a strange tingling, like the feeling that Maru gave him.

The feeling… it’s a lot like… Master SoYa?

“Oh!” NaDo broke off in mid-word, seeming to notice the shape as well. With a flutter of wings, the man walked over to the doorway and pushed aside the curtain, peering down. “Someone’s gotten out again, hasn’t he?”

Lucci couldn’t see past the folds of the curtain, but he could hear the soft protests of a child’s voice as NaDo reached down and scooped up the smaller shape.

“You’re supposed to be taking a nap, little mister!” the man scolded gently, before poking his head back through the curtain to Lucci. “Excuse me a moment. I have to put my wandering child back to bed.”

And just like that, the Seeker of Higher Truths was gone, nothing more than a retreating shadow on the other side of the curtain.

Lucci’s mouth opened with a reply he never got to speak. Instead, he blinked around the now-quiet room, his mind sorting out the strange and interesting turn of events. Already there was a calm, warm feeling moving through his body as good food, warm blankets and a safe place began to work wonders. For the first time in a long time, he felt like he didn’t have to run. That he had arrived somewhere, even if it was a strange place with unusual people.

I think I like it here…