First Encounter
First Encounter (sketch is mine, please give due credit if used)

My previous posts can be found herePreviously

On the screen, in various sizes, over and over again was the number 24.

“I think we have our answer”, said Aurora shakily

Fate smiled as she watched the entire scene play out in front of her. Turning to the near comatose girl lying on a bed beside her, she whispered,

It begins


 

The five of them worked in relative silence in the dungeon as the man remained unconscious. Quesios and Maya were working on some sort of simulation to determine the effect on the body and mind during the second Immersion. Aurora was attempting to find any more anomalies in his chart by comparing it with hers.

Arderine and Amy were pouring over the courtyard plans to see if there was any particular reason he had materialised in that specific spot.

That’s why nobody noticed when their patient began to awaken.

Nick never opened his eyes instantly. He widened his reach to feel for other minds in the vicinity. 5, there were 5 other minds.

One was pulsing a brilliant Red and another an Azure Blue quite far behind him, 2 Electric Blue minds near his right and one Orange straight ahead.

He could easily subdue the 2 behind him, the Scientists on his right would never reach him in time. The only presence he could barely feel was the Orange.

Was it a child? The Immersion was obviously over, but maybe the Integration was remaining. He would have to avoid the child at all costs or else it might get hurt during his escape.

Time for action.


Wham!

The silence was shattered as the restraints that Quesios had bound the man in snapped open. As one, all 5 concentrated their attention on the man on the chair, wide awake as he stepped off.Turning around, he widened his eyes at the Queen and Amy, who instantly slumped to the floor.

Quesios lunged forward to catch his niece and that moment’s slip proved dangerous. He watched, dumbfounded, as his own equipment wove around Maya and him, binding their hands and feet, leaving them writhing on the ground. The restraints began to tighten before they suddenly went slack.

“Aurora!”

He heard Maya breathe her name and turned around in panic. His eyes widened as they took in the sword she was wielding. At the first look, the sword looked like it was aflame, the orange hue radiating an intense heat. The Pure white hilt held tightly in her hands as her sword was held at bay by his.

Aurora couldn’t have hesitated more than a second, yet this man seemed to be holding her at her position behind his back easily. His hand was turned at an odd angle but he stayed motionless, his arm holding his cyan Double Edged and Quesios’ heart sank as he realised what the man was doing.

Before long, Aurora’s muscles would tire from holding up the sword and her concentration would falter. He was biding his time, waiting to attack.

Barely a minute after he completed his thought, Aurora’s sword disappeared. He turned away from the fight, trying desperately to claw his way out of his chains. He was still trying when he felt the air shift.

Looking up, he watched the man freeze mid-strike, Aurora still standing defenseless before him. Slowly, the cyan sword disintegrated and the man lowered his hand, weaponless before his youngest niece.

“How old are you?”

The question startled everyone in the room, especially Aurora, who simply stared at him.

“Why do you want to know? Who are you?”

The man turned around with an amused look on his face and fought Quesios’ inquisition with a slight upturn of his lips.

“You intrigue me too”, He watched a confused look flit across Quesios’ face before gesturing at the writing, “Says ‘You Intrigue Me’ on your face. Thought I might return the compliment”, Nick said with a shrug.

“You can read it?”, Nick turned to  his right, where the Queen was standing up, swaying slightly.

Now, it was his turn to frown. “You have Integration marks you can’t read? What good is that?”

“Who are you?”, Nick turned again, this time towards Aurora.

“My name is Nicholas, I was the son of the King’s advisor.”, He glanced at the room , “I take it things have changed?”

“Why did you materialise in the Courtyard?”

“I was being hunted by the shadows.”. Something seemed to have clicked in his mind because the wires tying the two scientists suddenly fell loose and they wasted no time in setting themselves free.

“Something seems to be wrong with the sensors, they wouldn’t detect me until I fired a blast. That could be dangerous for any other survivors that show up in that vicinity. They might not have enough reserves to fire”, he spoke quickly, directing his report to Quesios, who looked at him blankly.

“Other survivors??”, Quesios flinched at the hope in his elder niece’s voice.

Nick nodded, looking expectantly at Quesios who sent a questioning look back to Nick.

After a full minute of silent staring, Nick seemed to realise that Quesios had no idea what to do.

“I need to see a Protector of the Light, he can tell you how to fix the sensors”, Nick said finally

Instantly everyone stiffened. Nick seemed to have caught up on this and looked at each of them questioningly. Beginning to lose his surety, he ventured, “I was aiming for either Luxsplendcastro or Mayalo Donum, which one of the two is this?”

There was a silence as he looked around, trying to determine his location, walking out through the door, he set off briskly towards the outside and froze once more.


 

Everything was silent for a minute after he left the room, then everyone jumped back into action, scurrying out of the doorway behind the odd man that had appeared in their courtyard. The man who was now speaking to thin air in said place.

As all five of them stood at a distance from his position, they heard him passionately arguing with someone. Quesios and Arderine exchanged a look and readied their weapons.

It was the first time Aurora had seen Quesios wield one. An electric blue staff materialised in his hand as Arderine unsheathed her multi Arrow Crossbow. And the world went white for an instant.

Arderine
Arderine (sketch is mine, please give due credit if used)

In that instant, Aurora swore she could see a pair of blue eyes flashing dangerously at her sister and uncle.
“Please don’t!”, she heard herself shout and the intensity of the blue eyes shifted to her. Belatedly, she realised that Nick was also facing her, the blue of his eyes no match for the ones of the lady beside him. Dressed in an Ice blue long sleeved shirt and darker blue leggings, she was terrifyingly beautiful.

“No-one hurts my brother”, came the ice cold voice which Aurora could associate with the woman’s icy demeanor.

“We won’t”, Aurora pleaded, unable to break eye contact, “We couldn’t see you, we thought he wasn’t able to cope with the changes”

“Time has passed since he entered the lake. Almost a millennium”, the woman spoke again

Nick’s intake of a sharp breath broke the spell and Aurora turned to see his face turn a shade of ash.

“There is a lot you need to familiarise yourself with”, she was now speaking to Nick and Aurora thought she saw those eyes soften in their intensity

As she watched Nick’s shoulders slump slightly, the white faded away. She turned to her sister and uncle only to see them gaping at their empty palms. Their weapons had disintegrated.

“How did you..”, Aurora started before turning around to see just Nick standing there.

“Where..?”, she tried again, but Nick beat her to it.

“She comes only when required”, he looked at the spot his sister was stood at a moment ago and shrugged slightly. “We have a lot of work to do, it seems”

As they both turned towards the other four, Maya timidly voiced the question on everyone’s minds, “Who?”

Aurora looked at her in surprise, “The intimidating lady with the ice blue eyes?”. Nick winced slightly at her description

“What are you on about?”, Quesios’ voice sounded.

Aurora looked at each one in confusion, they couldn’t have missed her, could they?

“She chooses who she wants to be seen by”, Nick answered quietly

The others shared a glance as Nick sighed once more.

“I think we started off on the wrong foot. My name is Nicholas and I went into my second Immersion around a millennium ago. And Fate just brought me back because Hope is weak and she needs to be healed”

“Fate and Hope?”

“My sisters”, Nick explained

“If your sisters are Fate and Hope, then what does that make you?”, Aurora asked with one raised eyebrow.

Having gotten back some of his confidence, he answered with a smile

“Victory. Now, how old are you?”


 

So I’ve opened up more questions than I’ve answered. Nicholas actually means ‘Victory of the People’ in Greek. Will be updating the stories sooner now.

©Sonali Mukherjee

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