Chapter 3:

An Unexpected Encounter

Crimson: The New Wonder of the World

Dark. Everything was so dark. So dark, that it made your skin crawl. The endless void of darkness Dion found himself in was very quiet. Not in the peaceful way though, but in a creepy way. He was simply floating in the ocean of darkness, feeling paralyzed, unable to move even an inch. "Where am I? What am I doing here? What is this place?" These were the questions he kept asking himself. If he tried to speak, his voice would be silenced by the void, and his mouth would be just shut by it. Even if he could shout, no one would hear him. He was alone. After a few seconds, the boy thought: "Am I dead?", and suddenly he remembered what happened before the wave hit their boat.Bookmark here

"Right. Maybe I am dead. I believe this is the afterlife. But why is everything so dark? Am I going to the Netherworld?" he asked himself, somewhat nervous at the thought. "But wait... where is my brother... Elias! Where are you?" His questions were in vain. He couldn't even shed a sorrowful tear for his brother, who wasn't there next to him. "I am so sorry, Elias. I have failed you. I am a failure. I wasn't able to help mom, I wasn't able to help Mr. Theo, I wasn't able to help you, and our village... only the Gods know what our village is doing, and what it turned into. Mom... I hope you are alright." thought Dion, and with a gentle smile on his face, he slowly closed his eyes, which made no difference in the infinite darkness.Bookmark here

"Wake up!" shouted a wicked voice at Dion.Bookmark here

The boy suddenly opened his eyes and looked around in terror. What was that voice? Where did it come from? There was no one around him, yet someone had just spoken to him.Bookmark here

"Stay awake, or you will pass out. What do you think you're doing? I haven't brought you here just because I was bored, Dion. Stay awake!" said the wicked voice, as a silhouette started to shape right before Dion's eyes. The boy was afraid, and with his fearful eyes, he looked at the white deformed silhouette. It had a wide, dark smile, and its big, dark eyes were hollow. "Oh! There you are, my beloved Dion!" it continued, getting closer to the boy.Bookmark here

"Who is he?!" thought the boy, unease creeping deeper into his heart while he kept his eyes on the silhouette.Bookmark here

The entity suddenly pulled on a sad face and replied: "Why does everyone ask what I am, or who I am , but no one ever asks me how I am! This is such a shame... it makes me cry..." It suddenly started to wail uncontrollably, puzzling Dion even further. Bookmark here

"What?! He can read my thoughts?!" thought the boy, petrified, watching it hover nearer and nearer. "And how can he get close to me if he doesn't move his legs? This is absolute nonsense!"Bookmark here

"You've hurt my feelings, Dion... but I will give you another chance, because you are my special boy." said the entity, still unable to stop crying. Its tears were just like its mouth and eyes: they were one with the void. "I will give you a gift, to always know where you are..." while with its right hand, it opened the boys mouth widely, so its tears can fall right into his mouth. The entity's wails turned into a maniacal laughter, getting very excited by the boy's tears of pain. "Yes, yes Dion! Drink my gift Dion! DRINK!" it shouted out with bulging eyes, laughing like a madman as it watched Dion choke on his black tears.Bookmark here

"NO!" thought Dion, and then he shut his eyes. When he opened them again, he found himself on wet ground, his face looking up at the sky, chocking on the sea water washing over him and at times dripping into his mouth. He stood up quickly and started to cough, knowing he had to get out all the water he had swallowed. In the sky, the white clouds were rushing like some crazy horses, while the Sun was rising menacingly behind the boy's back.Bookmark here

"Where… where am I?" thought the boy, somewhat dizzy. He slowly stood up and looked around for his brother, pressing his hand to his head, absentmindedly trying to dim his headache. However, his brother was nowhere to be seen. The only things that were on the beach were some colorful shells spread along the shore, and the boys' shattered boat, which couldn't be repaired at all. Bookmark here

Dion started to shake in fear, desperately gasping for air. He was having a panic attack and struggled to level his breath, so he wouldn't pass out. "Try to breathe normally, try to breathe normally!" these were the words Dion kept repeating to himself in his mind. He eventually regained control, and later resumed to look after his younger brother on the shore.Bookmark here

"Where are you, Elias?!" Dion kept shouting hopelessly on the empty shore, frightening the birds with his loud voice. "Damn it! Maybe we have arrived on the enemies' territory, and I am shouting here like the damn idiot I am!" he chided himself.Bookmark here

Next to the beach, there was a wide forest, extending from the shore to the hills that could be seen in the far. There were some footprints on the hot sand, which lead into the deep forest. Dion had to no option but to venture into the forest, in an attempt to find his brother, and possibly other supplies. The boat was broken into many pieces, so the boy couldn't do anything about it. The farther Dion walked through the forest, the taller the trees became, just like some huge wardens of the forest. Dion was amazed by the tall and thick trees, and the sound of the birds was nothing but a pure blessing to the boys' ears. But the birds' songs were not as beautiful as their appearance. They were a bright red colour, and on the top of their wings and on their crest, they had black feathers. The boy noticed that the birds were not very big, compared to a normal sparrow. However, even though he was paying attention to the nature around him, his mind was entirely somewhere else.Bookmark here

"Where is Elias? Where could he go? What did he do after we crashed on the shore? Is he safe?" these were the questions which freely roamed around the older brother's turbulent mind. "But more importantly... what did our parents do? Did we lose the war? Did dad die in battle...?"Bookmark here

As he admired the beautiful birds and the elegant old trees, Dion soon discovered a stream which was pouring down from a small waterfall. He was astonished by the beautiful sight and he was struck by a sudden thirst. He noticed that next to the waterfall, there was a recipient with some strange symbols and writing on it. It was empty, so it must have been left by someone who had come to drink some water, but for some reason had to leave it there.Bookmark here

"Wow! This is amazing! I have never had water from a forest stream before! ... I wish Elias could enjoy it too..." said softly Dion to himself. "I don't know how big this land is. But... even if I will have to cross entire plains, survey the mountains, explore caves, I will find you, Elias. And this time, I will take care of you. I promise." He sipped the water from his hand. "What the... this water's got a weird taste in it..." thought Dion, and stopped drinking.Bookmark here

"Ahhhh! Finally! This whole journey got me so tired." said a distant voice of a man.Bookmark here

"Indeed. In my case though, I felt the need to release myself since we left the garrison! But you guys said not to stop until we reach this damn stream!" added another voice of a man, who was angry with the other.Bookmark here

Dion was trying to hide in the bushes when he heard the voices of the men, and after listening to their conversation, he realized he was actually drinking their urine. He was so disgusted, that he started to spit out frantically out of disgust, even ripping some leaves from the bush he was hiding behind to clean his tongue.Bookmark here

"On the Gods... who are these people?!" thought Dion angrily and disgusted because he had just tasted their urine. "It appears they speak the same language I do... maybe they are friendly soldiers. But what if they deserted the battlefield and are now fugitives?"Bookmark here

"Are you alright?" asked a warm male voice behind Dion.Bookmark here

The boy was stunned in fear when he heard the warm and manly voice behind him. Who could have known someone was behind him? He slowly turned around and looked up. Apparently, the man was a youngster, his dark medium-lengthed hair stretching from the left side to the back of his head. He had a handsome, kind face enhanced by a warm smile, and a pair of sweet eyes which regarded Dion with curiosity. The man was dressed in a brown leather suit, with a green leather cape on his left shoulder, a black symbol on it, in the shape of a trident. He carried an immense wooden bow on his back, together with a leather sack full of arrows. The man reached his hand to Dion, in order to help him get up from the bush, but Dion was so scared that he ran straight through the bush he was hiding behind, with his eyes closed. While dashing through the bush, the branches wounded his face and hands, ripping his clothes apart in places. He suddenly hit something, or better said, someone. When he opened his eyes, he noticed that it was the two men that had just urinated in the river. They still had their leather pants down, and were dressed in the same leather armor as the younger man who was behind Dion, except that theirs looked a bit heavier. All three of them screamed so loudly, that they startled the nearby birds into flying away.Bookmark here

"Oh my Gods!" shouted Dion, freezing in front of them. Whenever Dion was in an awkward situation, he always bit his lower lip very hard, to the point when even blood could come out.Bookmark here

"What are you doing here?! Why were you peeking on us?! You delinquent child!" said the man Dion had bumped into. His left hand had a blue aura on the fingertips. "So, you are an Elgyan spy, huh?! I will teach you a lesson, once and for all!" shouted the man, his fingers darting to the boy's forehead. Dion simply couldn't move, because of the other man who was staring at him. His eyes had a golden glow, and it seemed like Dion was stuck in place because of them.Bookmark here

"Guys, wait!" shouted the youngster who was behind Dion.Bookmark here

The man with the blue aura on his fingertips heard the youngster's voice only a moment too late. When he wanted to take away his hand from the boy's forehead, his pinky touched Dion's head, making him faint. Dion collapsed on the ground snoring, now prisoner to a deep sleep. Both men pulled up their pants and bowed before the youngster.Bookmark here

"We are so sorry, your Majesty!" said the two men in a choir. "What should we do with this brat?" asked the man who had used his eyes. "We should probably wake him up here and interrogate him," he mused.Bookmark here

"No!" exclaimed the youngster. "We have to take this kid to the garrison and interrogate him there. He might be an Elgyan spy, but he could also be just a lost child. We must take him to our garrison and see what was he doing in this forest on his own." He got on a white horse.Bookmark here

"His clothing looks rather... primitive." added one of the men. "What if he was captured by the barbarians-" said the other man who had put Dion to sleep, but was quickly interrupted by the young man.Bookmark here

"Luka! Ona! Behave yourselves! You are just paranoid." replied the youngster. "Put him in our cart, and let's head back to our garrison. We mustn't leave him here alone. Hurry up!" he, snapped at the two men.Bookmark here

The men bowed once more and quickly picked up Dion's body from the ground, setting him down gently in their steel cart. The three men in leather armor took off from the forest stream, and headed straight to their garrisons.Bookmark here

"I still believe it is a bad idea to take this boy to our garrison." said Luka, the man who had stunned Dion.Bookmark here

"Me too. But he is the Prince, afterall, and we must obey his orders." replied Ona, the man who had put Dion to sleep.Bookmark here

Later, the boy suddenly woke up. Dion found himself in a room with weapons and animal fur on the walls, but which also had different types of furniture, such as a leather armchair, a big comfy bed, a small chandelier with candles hanging from the ceiling, and also a closet full of different armors and clothes. Dion was on the bed, and next to him was a big map of an island, in the shape of a deformed pear, which at the north was divided by a great river called "Yuya". After admiring the map, Dion looked around the room, and noticed that the youngster whom he met back at the forest, was resting in the armchair right next to his bed, with his hands on the handles, leaning back in a relaxed manner.Bookmark here

"Hey! You are finally awake!" said the young man excitedly. "I am sorry for my rude introduction..." He seemed a bit embarrassed.Bookmark here

"Why... where… am I? Who... who are you?" asked Dion in a disoriented tone, carefully rubbing his eyes.Bookmark here

"Oh! Let me introduce myself. I am Doran, the elder son of King Tulga the Second. I am also the rightful successor of the throne of Atlantis. And about the other question... We took you to our garrisons." replied the prince with a smile. "I hope you don't mind that."Bookmark here

"Prince of... what? Wait... what about my brother?" asked Dion. "Have you seen a boy younger than me, with dark hair and blue eyes?" asked Dion, a bit agitated, but still dizzy from Ona's hit.Bookmark here

"I... I am sorry to say this, but... we haven't met any boy younger than you. In fact, you were the only person around the forest, besides us." replied the youngster. "That forest is a dangerous place! It is basically the border between us and the invading barbarians."Bookmark here

"What barbarians? Sorry?" asked Dion, very confused. "Hold on, so I was the only one in the forest?" asked Dion.Bookmark here

"Indeed, kid. I didn't know you had a brother..." he had a pitiful look in his eyes.Bookmark here

"It is alright, and I didn't know you are a prince... or about the barbarians, or this place at all." replied Dion, sitting up on the bed.Bookmark here

"Wait... you are not from around here?" asked Doran.Bookmark here

"No, there was this storm, and my brother and I were caught in it, and then... I woke up on the shore, then went deep inside the forest to find my brother." replied Dion, with a sad look on his face. "But I didn't stumble on a single trace of him."Bookmark here

"So... you are a foreigner?!" asked the prince, not bothering to hide his shock as he stood up from his armchair.Bookmark here

"Well... yes. Can you relate me more about this place, your Majesty?" asked Dion, giving Doran a very interested look.Bookmark here

"On the Gods... you are in big trouble, kid." replied the prince as he took a seat on his bed, next to the boy.Bookmark here

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