“The X marks the spot, Lucci!” Master NaDo trudged out onto the sandy beach. His arms were wide open, expression proud at knowing exactly where to find the place they were looking for.
As nervous as Lucci was, he couldn’t help but smile, “The what… marks what spot?”
“It’s a saying,” the winged man clarified, clapping the youth on the shoulder.
“Oh,” Lucci responded with a furrowed brow as his feet struggled to push through the gripping sands.
Sayings were really confusing sometimes. He wondered how such cryptic things got to be sayings to begin with. He also wondered how he was going to make the dark shadow under the ocean’s surface rise up, as he saw in his vision.
The easiest part was finding the bay. They packed a day’s lunch onto the Current Skipper – that was the name of Master NaDo’s flying ship – and took a nice, leisurely flight. Watching the land below turn from tropic forest to a bay beach helped the youth take his mind off of the approaching unknown. Of course, Master NaDo always had a million and one stories to entertain him about the smallest things.
But now, they were at the bay. As he stared out at the looming shadow just off the shore, Lucci honestly had no idea how to move forward.
Master NaDo must have read the expression on his face, because he asked, “Are we a little stuck?”
“Yes,” Lucci admitted with a sheepish frown, “I know that the shadow in the water is supposed to rise up. But, I don’t know exactly what it is or how I’m supposed to get it to move.”
“Ah, yes, such is the way of these visions,” the winged man leaned back with a look of concentration. “Why don’t you tell me again what you saw when you touched the Vision Stone.”
“I saw myself on this beach. And I saw the shadow in the water rise up,” the youth began to detail.
“Hold on. So you were just standing out on the beach at the beginning of the vision?”
Lucci paused, something clicking in his head. “No, actually, I was walking up the beach, towards the water.”
The youth began to demonstrate, walking forward through the sticky sands, “Then, I… oh yes! I remember. I saw myself lean down. I was looking at something in the sand. I couldn’t see what it was or what I was doing. After I finished that, that’s when the shadow in the water came up!”
“Ah! Good job, Lucci. I knew you could do it,” Master NaDo grinned, walking forward, too. His eyes were fixed on the ground with a furrowed brow. Then he began to walk around the area, his hands folded behind his back as he studied everything in a deep silence.
Lucci wasn’t sure what the winged man was doing, but he didn’t interrupt him. If anyone was smart enough to figure out the puzzles of the Vision Stone, the youth was sure it was Master NaDo. So, he waited and watched, trailing along behind the scientist, trying to make out the mutters that the man gave as he wandered.
“Lucci, do you see that?” Unexpectedly, Master NaDo stopped. He turned and motioned to a strange, sand-colored stone pillar that stood not far away. It looked very worn by time and the ocean winds, parts of it crumbled and broken.
The youth nodded, brow furrowed as he tried to make sense of the importance of such a thing. Try as he might, it completely escaped him. “Yes. I see it.”
“Well, it’s not a naturally occurring object. It’s something that was built here. As were they,” the winged man motioned around.
Huddled under trees, half hidden by dunes and overturned in the sands, Lucci could make out other identical stone structures. They almost blended into the rest of the beach, as if they belonged there far longer than anything else.
“And notice!” Master NaDo walked forward, arms wide. “The area between them has no trees or deep rooting plants.”
“Yes?” Lucci was suddenly confused again. It was one thing to take notice of objects that were there. It was another to take notice of things that were not.
“Which means one thing,” the winged man grinned brilliantly. He paused a moment for effect. “There’s something solid under this sand. So solid that the trees could not grow here. It’s located between these old pillars, and very likely to be the key to what the vision was showing you.”
The youth took in a long breath, mouth open in utter amazement.
“Now,” Master NaDo frowned in thought. “The real question is, if there’s something under this sand, how do we get to it?”
“Dig?” Lucci suggested innocently.
“We could. But it’s an awful big spot to go digging when we don’t know exactly what we’re looking for,” came the reply.
“Oh?” the youth tilted his head. “Well, wind could blow away the sand if it’s loose, right? Maybe if you flapped your wings a lot?”
Now Master NaDo was laughing openly, a gentle and amused sound. “I think it would take a little more wind than what my wings could make to blow away this much sand.”
“Really?” Lucci answered. Then he paused as thoughts came to him. “But you do think wind could clear away the sand?”
“Yes. It’s possible. If it was strong enough. Why?”
Silver eyes narrowed, the youth turned towards him, “Master NaDo, can you go and stand back by the ship? I’m going to try something.”
“I think I can do that,” there was a question to his voice. Still, the scientist simply gave a nod and headed back to where they left the Current Skipper. His green eyes watched with curiosity, head tilted to one side.
Lucci stood in the middle of the sand clearing, palms outwards. It was a while since he really tapped into his magic. Though Lord Zemi taught him a lot of tricks and neat things to do, he wasn’t fully trained in using his power in any serious manner. Everything he did with magic was the result of experimentation, and that didn’t always turn out well.
Please… please… I need to move this sand. That’s all I need.
The youth’s silver eyes closed as he reached, finding that quiet spot within his mind, a place that was missing for so long. Within that spot, he sensed something waiting there – he couldn’t call the sense sight or sound or smell or touch. It was a sense beyond the normal. When he reached out, nearly always something he didn’t understand happened.
Wind… I need wind.
Lucci concentrated hard. It was difficult for him to take the curious power and mold it into something he could use. This time, his will was focused. His thoughts were locked in on the memory of the vision. His desperation seemed to overpower even the wild magics of an untrained boy-Sygnus.
Suddenly, a gale burst from his outstretched palms, almost knocking him back with the impact of near hurricane-force winds. Lucci gave a wild shout as he struggled to control the maelstrom, only to find his mouth filled with flying grit and sea-tasting sand. He closed his eyes as the sand flew everywhere, scattered by the impact of the slicing winds.
He didn’t know how long the gale howled. It was hard to make out anything in the roar and flow of power rushing out of him. When he heard Master NaDo’s distant shout, Lucci came to his senses and fought to bring it under his control. Once the power escaped from the silent place, it was always hard to put it back.
His vision was still blurry from the sting of the wind, so he couldn’t see if he cleared the sand as he wanted. As the last of the energy faded from his form, the silent spot in his mind once again silent, Lucci slumped against one of the stone pillars with exhaustion.
He heard his name called again and again. After a time, he could make out Master NaDo standing over him, shaking him gently by the shoulder. “Lucci? Do you hear me? Talk to me.”
“Master… Master NaDo,” the youth croaked. He breathed in far more sand than he realized.
Master NaDo was ready, however, and was lifting a water pouch up for Lucci to drink from. Once the youth had a few long drinks and a lot of coughing, he was finally able to splutter real words.
The winged man leaned over him with concern, his own form encrusted with dust and sand. Even as far back as the ship didn’t given enough cover. “Lucci… that was… something I’ve never quite seen before.”
For a moment, the youth looked up, worried that Master NaDo was angry. Or worse, that he changed his mind on how he felt about helping. But there wasn’t a trace of anger in the winged man’s eyes. Simply wonderment and worry.
“I’m sorry,” Lucci apologized.
“It’s okay. Just, next time, warn me before you call down a natural disaster. Okay?” there was a hint of mirth in the words. Followed by a reassuring quip.
The youth nodded slowly before asking, “Did it work?”
“See for yourself.”
Lucci had to rub the grit out of his eyes before he could focus on his surroundings. He took in a rasping gasp as he stared. That which was submerged in sand was now clean, for the world to see. It was eerie… alien … and frighteningly beautiful.
Multicolor stones wove across the ground in a mosaic of shimmering patterns and designs. The shapes were impossible to the mind, as if some great knowledge beyond space and dimension placed its mark there. The stones were covered with tiny etchings of delicate runes, much like the ones that were along the walls in the Cynosure.
Strangely, though it was obvious that this structure had been here for a very long time, the etchings were in perfect, crisp shape, without a sign of weathering. In the very center of the structure was a slightly upraised plate with flowing words carved into the surface. Something about it glittered in the shifting light, drawing Lucci’s attention.
As his eyes traced over the script, soft whispers echoed through his mind, words in a language he didn’t know. Symbols that might have been letters, or something much more than that. There was a distant familiar feeling about it all, though he was certain that he had never seen script like this before.
“Careful, Lucci,” Master NaDo’s soft voice warned. The sound was drowned out by the haunting whispers that came from every direction.
Lucci could feel it. This was once a place of massive power in a time long, long ago. Maybe even during the Time Before. Something happened that twisted the power, which was once used to protect the civilization, to instead lash back at it. Destroy it.
With that destruction, so many people died. Their whispers stung his ears, and left his limbs cold. A shiver rushed through him as he felt compelled, his silver eyes lifting to peer out at the ocean. A haunting vision met him, ghostly images wavering, superimposed on the sunlit bay.
A short distance away, a tall and proud obelisk rose from the ocean, connected to the mainland by a long, slender bridge made of the ornate sand-colored rock. The water surrounding it was unnaturally calm, a large crescent of waveless ocean.
The structure seemed to be resting upon the surface, its reflection stretched out in four directions over the bay. An eerie blue shaft of light streamed up from the peak of the obelisk. It matched the stream of light that rose from the point of the Vision Stone. The lights spread over the bottom of the clouds, coming together at a point within the sky, stretching a wondrous dome of magic and light over all who lived there.
The youth heard a voice speaking, talking in the unknown language that was so painfully familiar. It took him a moment to realize the voice was his own, though what he spoke, he didn’t understand. The words came from somewhere else, from the whispers in his mind. As they fell heavy in the air, something began to change. The images began to shift.
Everything turned dark. Both water and sky burned and bled, crimson streaks falling through the clouds. It rained down upon the blue light, until finally the light could hold back no more. The ground shook under his feet as time and again, the earth took the blows from above. The obelisk was struck, shattering in half. The top part teetered then toppled, falling into the bay with an impact that threw huge waves that crashed against the shore, ripping apart the bridge, rushing towards the scripted courtyard.
Lucci’s breath quickened, rasping in his ears as he saw the great, ghostly wave rising up over him. He gave a panicked shout, clamping his eyes shut and bracing himself for the blow, just as a set of hands grabbed him, shaking him. Calling his name.
“Lucci! Are you okay?” Master NaDo’s voice was panicked and hoarse, too.
Gasping, the youth opened his eyes. He was on his knees, crouched and shivering over the scripted platform. Master NaDo gripped both of his shoulders, staring down into his face. Lucci gave a cry and grabbed for the winged man, clinging to him for comfort and protection against the ghostly vision.
Master NaDo seemed stunned at the reaction, but held Lucci’s head against his chest, fatherly without realizing it. He stroked back the youth’s silver hair and spoke in shakey, but reassuring tones. “It’s alright. It’s over now, Lucci. Light… please, just warn me before you do something like this again. Please…”
Lucci remained holding fast to Master NaDo for a while longer, slowly regaining his senses. The ghostly voices were gone. The pressing feeling of destruction faded. The sky no longer bled above him, and the sea did not crush him under a wave of death.
However, when he chanced to look back up, out over the ocean, he saw it. Standing upon the surface of the ocean was a dark, cracked shadow. The bottom half of the obelisk had risen from the ocean floor, looming. Waiting for him.