Novelist and more.
Having saved two women from kidnappers and worse, with Raquel utilizing her warrior powers at an extent far beyond her knowledge, defeating several demon riders, the trio returns to their room after notifying the police. Robert’s inquistive nature gets the best of him and he seeks answers.
“Okay now you want to explain how you knew that was happening?” Robert asked locking the door to their room as police sirens approached in the distance.
Raquel shrugged, “I don’t really know. Since we left New Orleans, remember I told you I’ve had the feeling we’ve been followed? When I lay down, I had a strong feeling I needed to help someone above us. Even my little beehive guardians were upset.”
“Yeah I’ve felt that stalking impulse. I had difficulty sleeping after speaking with Ezra.”
Robert nodded, concentrating, closing his eyes, holding his hand over the Curriculum. After a few moments, he opened his eyes shaking his head.
“I’m not feeling anything except what I normally feel going on in the world. Do either of you still have that impulse?”
“Is it as strong as it was before we went upstairs?”
“I don’t feel it as much,” Sam replied.
“I feel it but it’s getting further away. You can’t feel it at all?”
Robert shrugged, “I’m not feeling anything. I felt something similar several years ago before going in the asylum though . . . like I had a blind spot. There was this powerful self-proclaimed…Warlock… that found out about me and wanted to make a name for himself by killing me. My companions at the time felt it. If it hadn’t been for one of them; I’d be dead. I walked into a major possession situation but the possessed person was a trap by the Devils waiting for me. That day was a tough fight. I lost one of them, when we defeated the warlock. It can’t be the same guy because he is most definitely: dead.”
“Do you think something followed us out of the Nunnery?” Sam asked.
“Nah, we left through the time portal. Unless something jumped with us, which the sleepers would have prevented, it would have been the only way I think a Demon could’ve picked up our trail.”
Raquel walked to the window, peering out at the police lights reflected through the drapes, “I don’t feel it now; maybe it was just related to those two guys upstairs?”
“No you wouldn’t have felt them all the way from New Orleans. Ah well, just keep your senses open, I’m going to go take another shower, the Demon goop feels like it’s still on me.”
“Yeah, I feel like it’s still on me too. Oh, Sam I have to tell you what I did in there.”
While she replayed the battle events to Sam, Robert took a lengthy shower trying to sense anything out of the ordinary with his abilities aided by the Key, nothing came of it. When Raquel showered, Sam listened to his version of the story, and then, an hour later, the police drove away. Robert had masked the Explorer from their eyes; all three laid down to finally get some sleep before their next lengthy drive.
“They are doing well are they not?”
Robert faced a high waterfall in a forested setting, turning to Askonae sitting on horse.
“Well hello again,” he waved as Askonae leapt off the horse, coming toward the river edge, sitting on a rock motioning for him to sit nearby.
“Sam is transitioning well, slightly slowly then we would like, but Raquel is advancing in both powers and imagination quickly,” Askonae nodded.
He sat facing Askonae, “You’re telling me? Her armor and how she handled that Demon beyond her experience… she performed like a seasoned veteran.”
“Yes, the hosts are pleased with her, they had high hopes and we see those hopes were not in error,” he scratched in the dirt with a stick.
“Now there you go again, talking like she has some purpose more then what I sensed.” He crossed his arms in frustration, “Is that why I can’t completely read her with my Soul Eyes power, are you blocking me?”
He grinned, “You can not know everything. Where would the fun be in that? Yes, we are making her inner self: secretive. Not just for her protection but yours also. Not only can you not know everything, sometimes it is better you should not.”
“What about my buddy Sam? Anything I shouldn’t know about him?” he rolled his eyes.
“Oh, Samuel is as he seems; a budding Champion. His powers are as you deduced, he is of the Healer/Comforter variety. You never would have known from the first time you met him would you?” he laughed.
Robert chuckled, “No, you wouldn’t, I would’ve seen him more back then as the ‘scream like a little girl and run’ type. He’s held up well.”
“’Scream like a little girl’, oh you are harsh to your fellow Champions!”
“That was back then, but yeah, he’s coming along. I guess he’s going to be a sidekick for a bit?”
Askonae fell silent for a moment, “Yes, for a while, then he will have his own path to follow. Remember this; sometimes the strongest steel needs the hottest fire.”
He gave him a sideways glance, “My father once said that about me.”
“With good reason, I told him the same thing concerning you.”
“So how did I turn out?”
“Oh, we still have hopes you will amount to something one day.”
“Ouch! So what’s happening in Memphis? Why do we have to get there in such a hurry?”
Askonae peered at the waterfall, “Did you know a waterfall is the exact opposite of a tree? It starts out as a lake or pond, falls, then turns into streams or rivers which may become lakes or ponds themselves, where a tree starts as a seed then grows upwards into a trunk then branches out ending in leaves and seeds themselves?”
Confused he nodded, “Um, yeah, I guess so.”
“Do you know what I am saying?”
“Um, not really no,” he shrugged.
He laughed, “Sometimes they are exact opposites, one starts out big and becomes small and the other starts out small and becomes big. Some say they are the same, both small then big or both big then small. It is all about perception. Champions meet other Champions, Warriors meet Warriors, strong become weak, weak become strong. Just as rivers supply strength for the seeds to become mighty oaks; so do the oaks make the paths the rivers follows.”
“Okay, you’re getting existential on me here, going way over my head.”
He sat silently for a moment scratching patterns in the sand, “There is a great plan. Not all are meant to know, not even the hosts of Heaven. You see? Sometimes…sometimes things happen we are not meant to understand. You have been one of the favored. That is why at this point in your life; you and your family carry the Key Signorum. Something that seems small now may become greater in the future. Or something that was seemingly small in the past may become larger now. You have learned many things during your time and your father’s time as a Champion.”
He was confused, “So…what about Memphis? Is there something going to happen there? Something big I should know about?”
Gazing skyward in thought, he sighed, “Actually, Memphis is no longer your destination. Your destination is now Charlotte, North Carolina. Your purpose has changed. What you have to confront is making its way there.”
“So whatever we’re chasing is going to Charlotte? Is it some sort of greater Devil or Demon?”
“It has been decided you should not know until you reach your location.”
He held up his hands in exasperation, “Shouldn’t know? Decided by who?”
The Word regarded him silently.
He pointed upwards, “Oh. ‘Decided”. Right, gotcha, no problem. I shouldn’t know, and then I shouldn’t know. Sorry”
“You will need the help of your friends when you arrive, do not be afraid to let them do things their own way. Remember how your father let you help him in your own way as did his before him.”
“So could you narrow it down? Like a street address or something.”
He tilted his head back and laughed richly, “What kind of learning would you be getting if I did that? You will be able to track and sense where you will be going once you near Charlotte. But you will have some delays on the way to your final destination, I can tell you that. Just as you handled the Demons this night, you might have to confront others. Others may not be so easy.”
“I see what you mean by matter of perception, they weren’t all that easy.”
“Compared to others you have confronted in the past?”
He realized his memory had returned and various battles came to the forefront of his mind, “Okay you have me there.”
Askonae stood, “It is time for me to leave you to your rest now. Sleep well Robert Wilcox.”
He mounted his horse, turning into the woods as the dream world slowly slipped away into a deep sleep.
“Come forth, you who call yourself Raquel Monroe,” an authoritative voice commanded.
Raquel found herself in a Chinese palace floating on a vast expanse of clouds. The voice came from behind her. Leaning silent sentinels, sometimes winged, sometimes not, observed among high columns reaching into the vast topless clouded ceiling. Most of the sentinels appeared Asian in nature but not all. Some appeared as if from some other times, past, present, and future.
Completing her survey of the area, she faced the speaker, looking him up and down determining his strength. Of Asiatic descent, with a long beard and smoking a long pipe, his robes were early century design and holding in his right hand, its massive blade tipped to the floor, a Kwan Dao. All at once, she realized she recognized him.
She placed her right fist in her left flattened palm bowing deeply at the waist.
“General Guan Yu. Or should I call you The Word, Ezra, or Askonae?”
He chuckled, “General will do, and you remember your history well. You are also most perceptive to immediately recognize we are in a dream. Come forward, sit by me.”
She straightened as two small curved stools appeared at his feet. He took the left one motioning to his left for her. She couldn’t look into his eyes as she approached, but noticed the rustling of wings, armor, and quiet whispers nearby, sitting with her head bowed in respect.
The General sat his Kwan Dao down to his right on the floor studying her.
“You are a warrior, why can you not look at me?”
“I do so out of respect,” she hastily added, “Sir.”
He laughed with gusto.
“Look me in the eyes child! I only appear as General Guan Yu, I am not truly he. You have already shown, by a conversion, blood in battle, and perception you are worthy to carry the title of Champion. Now look me in the eyes.”
She did as he bid. His eyes held hers. She fell into the star filled darkness looking back at her from them.
“Do not fear. This is part of your training process. Champions do better when they sleep, their subconscious moments are easier for them to absorb. You are a warrior. Your way is one of strength and wonder. See these others?”
Following his sweeping hand, turning away from his gaze, millions if not an endless number of beings smiling back at her, some saluted in their own fashion, some nodded, and some merely appraised her.
“These are all warriors. All of them from Alpha to Omega, you are one of them child. You are among illustrious company. They each see me in their own fashion; know me in their own way. Each has come before me to train as they understand me. You see me as General Guan Yu because you once studied under a teacher who followed his teachings. You realize you are dreaming this, but also know this: a dream can last a lifetime when the waking world may go by in mere moments.”
She regained her sense of self, back on the stool, facing him.
“I will test you as I have in times past when you have dreamt of me but have only held it in your subconscious. I have taught you wisdom, the way of right and wrong, the yin and yang of the universe, the strategies of battle, the knowledge of discernment to know truth from lies. But tonight-“ he motioned toward his right as a tall being walked out from the throngs of beings, “- you will learn the ways of combat..”
With his left hand, he gently pushed her forward toward the being as it took on human form nearly eight feet tall. It was male, with fiery red hair, a white loincloth around its waist. Slowly the giant raised his hands into a Kendo stance; she blinked and suddenly he held a monolithic scimitar with both hands.
“You might as well don your battle gear; it will be a long night.”
Looking over her shoulder at the General, she willed her spiritual armor, shield and a Chinese Broadsword into being.
She raised the Dao into a battle stance.
“By the way, little warrior, you might as well start from the top. Let me introduce you to the Archangel commonly known as Michael.”
Her eyes widened in surprise, Michael moving forward for his first attack as she froze into immobility.
To be continued….