Chapter 21

Ralf:

Ralf lay on his bed looking at the sky through the window. The night sky is different at Empyrean. One can see the three moons in close proximity throwing a bluish glow on the land. They never needed the lights here as are required back on earth, as the light from moons was sufficient. For many centuries Ralf never had time to experience an amazing night such as this, but now he wanted to slow down and learn and enjoy the joys of nature. And more importantly he wanted to enjoy all this with his mate Solange. His grandfather’s advice was running through his mind since he returned to the room for the night. Tomorrow would be the day he would let go of his fears and ask Solange and hope she will accept him, all of him.

Solange:

For the first time in her life Angel knew how her parents looked. Every night she wondered how her mom would be when she went to sleep, but now she heard so much about her and seen her photos her dreams were wonderful under the amazing moons of Empyrean. Caity had told her that the three moons represented the three strengths of the guardians.

Spirituality’ represents the guardians’ faith in higher purpose and their belief in meaning of life and universe. ‘Perceptiveness’ represents their ability to provide wise counsel to others and the final strength ‘Bravery’ represents their valor to not shrink from threat to their brothers and to their  home. These three strengths made guardians tough combatants. Learning about guardians I was able to understand Ralf’s character and why he behaved the way he did. His ferociousness when he had killed the black-one and his gentle behavior when he took care of her. She hoped to learn more of him and get to know him better before her time at Empyrean came to an end. She had just understood what a family means and wanted to be a part of.

 

The next morning

As instructed by Cearul, I was up and ready early in morning and waiting in the foyer of the house.  Cearul came down dressed in what looked like ancient warrior attire. He wore a tunic in white with a symbol in front paired with comfortable tight fitting pants. The intricate design of a lion head in its full glory was mesmerizing. The lion’s golden mane was hypnotic. I do not know how I knew but I knew that this symbol represented the fierceness of the guardian who stood in front of me and it gave the strength he needed in the battlefield.

“Something on your mind dear?” asked Cearul amazed to find her ready for the day.

“The symbol on your tunic does it give you strength?”

Cearul observed me for few seconds before he answered “Angel you have some amazing ability to understand things. You are correct. The symbol was presented to me by my tribe as a mark of their respect to their leader when I was chosen and it is the strength of my tribe which fuels me in battle. It is not just a symbol but represents their love and respect. In battle just our physical strength is not sufficient but one also needs blessings for their loved ones and that is what this symbol is to me.”

“It is the most beautiful gift I have ever seen.” 

We walked out towards the grounds behind the house or palace in my opinion. Reaching an open field Cearul explained the need to understand my physical capabilities before we could start training. Agreeing I asked what will I be required to do? To my amazement he said “Stand still in the place you are.”

I stood in the spot and noticed the surroundings. On one side were the house and the city behind it and on the other were the woods. The trees were huge and very tall reaching the sky. The day light seemed to be from one of the moons I had seen at night. It made me wonder how a moon can provide light like sun.

“Cearul, what provides day light to Empyrean?”

“The bright star named Ra across the moon Luna.”

“Oh yes the second moon which rises in the evening.”

Smiling Cearul said “I see you have been learning few things about Empyrean.”

“I wish to learn more. Caity told me about the moons and the strengths of guardians they represent.”  

Cearul nodded and stood silent looking at nothing in particular, but he appeared to be in meditation. Not sure what to do next I decided to sit down on the ground when Cearul said “The first thing a warrior learns about being on a battlefield is the art of remaining still and patience. One sudden move in battle can get a warrior killed.”

I stood still and listened to Cearul. He walked towards the woods and looked back. Assuming he expected me to follow, I walked behind him to the edge of woods. Just then a white light lit up from inside the trees. I squealed at such sudden outburst of light, hearing someone laugh I opened eyes to find Cearul and Conall laughing and trying their best not to do so to my face. Embarrassed I rolled my shoulders and said “It is childish to sneak up on people like that Conall.”

“Bo hoo. It is fun. Come now child I am centuries older than you. You can call me grandpa too like Ralf. After all we are related.”

“Related? How?”

“Not now, but will be soon.” Saying Conall walked into the woods.

Completely curious what he meant I followed them both. As we walked further in I noticed Conall and Cearul becoming silent and their postures changed from relaxed to guarded. Having seen that same look on Ralf’s face I kept silent and followed. After an hour walk we reached a wooden door built along the walls made of wood. We walked through the door, to amazement I stood at the top stairs of what was the most magnificent arena I had ever seen. The arena was very similar to coliseum in Rome except this arena was made of pure gold and every row was spaced at a distance of four feet. Walking down around 100 steps we reached the main entrance to the arena and I was dreading with excitement I felt at the prospect of doing something in life which was out of my comfort zone. I always preferred a dormant and silent life but from the time Ralf came into my life it had been anything but dormant. Life was exciting and mystery which attracted me to do things I never would have ever agreed to.  

We took our places in the observation deck and Conall suggested that I should observe the guardians who would be on the field soon. Just as he was explaining that guardians practice in the arena every day, I saw few men walk in to the center of the arena all in one neat file. About ten guardians stood in their white combat outfits and their faces were covered with intricate masks, but one person stood out. In my heart I knew it was Ralf.

As I watched, the guardian wearing a tiger mask was summoned to fight the one wearing a lion mask. The guardian wearing the lion mask looked at me; I could feel his intense heat directed towards me before he turned to bow to his opponent. My heart skipped a beat before beating fast. As the referee flagged of the match, it was a sight to behold. Both guardians unfurled their wings. The guardian in lion’s mask had wings of pure white with a hint of blue feathers across the edges of his wings. As the light fell on him, his wings glowed just like the moons I had seen in night. Slowly he unfurled them to their full length spanning to more than eight feet on each side. Just like that both the guardians took flight at lightning speed to the top of the arena before returning mid way and summoned their weapons.

Both guardians’ weapons crashed each other and it felt as if lightning had struck. Every stroke of the weapons emitted white light, the energy in its pure form as Cearul explained to me. I was awed with the grace both guardians danced the warrior fight in the mid air. Wanting to get better view I stood from my seat and walked closer to the arena center and looked right up. It felt like two big eagles were fighting mid air and one of them was very accomplished as he countered every attack from his opponent. After about twenty minutes, both warriors descended and fought on ground and before one could blink, the guardian in lion’s mask threw his opponent down and pinned him under his sword. Having been disarmed, the opponent accepted his defeat and the guardian in lion mask offered his hand to the other warrior and both stood together clapping each others’ shoulders smiling.

I couldn’t take my eyes off the guardians during and after the mock battle. Guardian in lion mask walked towards us removing his mask and his sword disappeared into thin air. He reached us and smiled down at me and winked. As I knew in my heart, it was indeed Ralf.

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