The Guardian: An Unfortunate Wish
And so, my training began. Gene did not like it at all and cried her eyes out when she found out about it. I was struggling to calm her down but fortunately, Jean-Luc came to my rescue. When I finally thought that Gene had calmed down, she started crying again after seeing me the next morning with shoulder-long hair. I thought that it would be more practical if I had shorter hair and so asked a maid to cut it for me. But it seemed like Gene did not agree with me. Even Jean-Luc was displeased with me cutting my hair shorter.
The first couple of weeks I was nervous and scared about my training but to my luck, Stefano was nothing like General Claw. He was the total opposite. Always laughing and socializing with the other soldiers. He did not make me feel out of place which I appreciated. My training regime consisted of jogging, running, sit-ups, squats, push-ups, triceps dips, and dorsal raises to boost my stamina and endurance. In between, I would get days off to rest my body, but I would mostly spend those days with Gene otherwise she would get upset with me. I was also worried about my shoulder. It did seem like it was fully healed but I was still careful with it. My shoulder not hurting should mean that everything was alright. That was my conclusion.
Stefano told me that today I would get a weapon of my choice. I was pretty excited even though I did not like the thought of actually using it against someone. I wondered if Daiyn and the others went under the same training as me and then received their weapons. If I could remember correctly, Daiyn had a broadsword. Stefano already taught me about the different types of swords mostly because I was curious about them. He also told me that guns were unusual and if you had one you were lucky. Apparently, some were brought over after the Silent War between the two worlds. It made me think about Edwin and Benjamin. I wondered where they got theirs from.
Stefano informed me that I had to wait until after training to get my weapon under the supervision of General Claw. I let out a disappointed sigh and started jogging around the track behind Stefano. My training for today was running. Just running. According to Stefano, my stamina was already pretty good, and I could easily keep up with him, but he wanted me to get better at sprinting. He explained to me that running at full speed over a short distance can be a good advantage in a battle. Advantage or not, I just followed his instructions as best as I could. Although I did realize that my physique got a lot better. My abs were more defined and the fat on my hips melted away. In the end, I was pretty happy with the results. The next time I would see Daiyn I could proudly say that I would not be a burden anymore and I could fight next to him.
The sun was hiding behind the heavy clouds and the strong wind was blowing sand particles into my eyes. It got colder in the last couple of days, but I did not wear heavier clothes because no matter how cold it got, you were still going to sweat and feel hot when you are training. After a couple of rounds of running, Stefano told me to have a break. I agreed and went to grab two bottles of water. One for me and one for him. I entered one of the storage sheds and grabbed some. As I walked out, I tripped and one of the water bottles fell to the ground. Before I could pick it up, someone else did. It was a woman in a purple dress and a black, knitted cardigan. She handed me the bottle and smiled at me. What was a woman doing here? She had short brown hair and some freckles on her cheeks. She was shorter than me and had one hand placed on her small, round belly. I wanted to ask her if she was pregnant, but I decided against it. It would be rude.
“Thank you for picking up the bottle,” I said to her.
“No need to thank me. This is the first time I’m seeing a female soldier. And such a pretty one too,” she said smiling.
“Thank you but I am not that pretty. It just seems this way because I am between all these male soldiers,” I said jokingly. She laughed and shook her head in disagreement.
“By any chance, do you know where General Claw is?” she asked.
“I am really sorry, but I don’t. I am actually waiting for him as well,” I explained to her.
“I see. Then shall we wait for him together?” she suggested.
“Sure. Please follow me,” I asked of her. She followed me quietly. I wondered what business she had with General Claw. It was certainly unusual for a pregnant woman to come to a training camp. I went with her back to Stefano. I threw the bottle of water towards him, and he caught it.
“What took you so long Ari?” he asked me. To answer his question, I stepped aside to show him the woman behind me. To my surprise, he was not surprised to see her.
“Mrs. Claw. Long time no see,” he greeted her. Did I hear right? Mrs. Claw? That meant she was the wife of General Claw. And she was pregnant, meaning that the general was going to be a father. Or maybe he was already a father? Maybe this was not his first child?
“It is nice seeing you, Stefano. How have you been?” she answered.
“I’m fine. Thanks. How is the baby?” he asked her while looking at her small, round belly.
“The baby is as healthy as always,” she said smiling.
I stood in between them dumbstruck. Stefano told Mrs. Claw that General Claw was not on the training site, and it would take some time until he returned.
My break was over, and I started running again. Mrs. Claw sat down on a bench and watched me and Stefano running around the track. I was still shocked about the fact that General Claw was married. As I kept thinking about it, I tripped over my own feet and fell on my knees. I stood up and continued running. Fortunately, my pants did not rip. Stefano came running towards me.
“Are you alright?” he asked me with a worried look on his face.
“Yeah, I am fine. Don’t worry. I’m just a bit embarrassed,” I told him.
“Are you this surprised by the fact that the general has a wife?” he asked me while laughing. He saw through me.
“Kind of. General Claw does not seem the family type,” I said.
“Well, the general is a man after all. And every man needs a woman. And marriage usually results in having a child,” he explained.
“I guess,” I said while looking at Mrs. Claw. She was still watching us.
After my training was over, Stefano and I walked over to her. There was still no trace of General Claw. I opened my water bottle and drank the rest of my water. A soldier approached Stefano and told him that General Claw had finally arrived, and he wanted to meet us in the weapon storage facility. After hearing that I threw the water bottle into a bin and started speed walking towards where the weapon storage facility was. Stefano and Mrs. Claw followed me. General Claw was standing in front of a table, showing us his back.
“Honey,” Mrs. Claw said out loud after seeing him. Stefano and I burst out laughing. We could not help it even though we knew we would get into trouble. It sounded too alien.
“How many times do I have to tell you, Isabelle, not to call me that in public? Please refer to me as the general or General Claw,” he calmly said to his wife, but you could clearly see he was annoyed. His wife was not pleased with his attitude and looked at him angrily.
“Why not? I am your wife! What else should I call you?” she yelled at him. The general was in trouble. Making a pregnant woman angry. He surprisingly gave in. The only person who could tame him was his wife. The thought made me giggle. After talking to him about various things, including buying a new house, Mrs. Claw left. A soldier escorted her out.
“Ari. Come over here,” General Claw instructed me. Finally, it was my time to choose a weapon. I walked over to him and saw a double-bladed scythe lying on the table.
“This is your weapon from today on,” he told me.
“But I thought I can choose my own weapon. That’s not fair,“ I said.
“I chose for you. No complaints,” he cut me off. He grabbed it and handed it over to me.
“Of course, you will need the training to be able to use it efficiently, but I think that it will suit you,” he explained.
“Fine. I’ll take it,” I ended up saying. I actually liked it. I was interested in swords, but a double-bladed scythe would work too. The handle was made from dark red crystal. The blades were black. It was nearly as long as my body. I felt alive holding it in my hands.
“Before you walk away with your scythe, I need to tell you something,” he said.
“Go ahead. I’m listening,” I told him, but I actually was not. I was too fascinated by my scythe.
“I know it’s a sore subject but how much do you know about your mother? Do you remember anything?” he asked me. I averted my eyes from my scythe and looked him into his eyes.
“Not much. I only know her name and the fact that she was my mother,” I answered.
“I see. Where do I start? I know that you know that your father was a scientist and that he led his team to create the Caedes,” he said.
“I don’t know if he really went insane, but people say so. Your father, as you know was from the other world. However, your mother was from this world. Your mother fell in love with your father and married him. They both were very young. The first time they met was in the village your mother lived in. The village’s name is Timedale. A strange name, isn’t it?” he stopped his explanation and asked me.
I nodded again. I just wanted to listen to him before saying anything.
“Not many people know about Timedale,” he continued. “Not many people lived in that village. It was small but it had still a school that was an elementary school, high school, and college altogether. Underneath that school was an entry to a laboratory. Your father’s first laboratory. It was provided by one of the kingdoms and it was as big as the entire village.”
“An underground laboratory?” I asked him perplexed.
“Yes,” he answered. “Your father was a genius and needed a place where he could express himself through different experimentations. One of the kingdoms agreed with him and thought that it would be a waste to constrict him. He continued his studies and experiments through the years and in between married your mother. But when you were six years old, a major incident happened that changed everything. The people of Timedale did not know what your father was doing underneath their village because they trusted him. Neither did your mother. Your father would always say that everything was classified, and he was not allowed to talk about it and therefore no one asked. But I wish someone did,” he paused. His face turned pale. His story felt very familiar. I knew he was telling the truth. Images flashed before my eyes. I remembered the reoccurring nightmares I kept having.
“Something happened at the school. People died,” I whispered to myself.
“Yes. One of the experiments went horribly wrong and thus an uncontrollable Caede was born. It managed to get out of the underground laboratory and caused havoc in the school. Many children lost their lives on that day. The villagers weren’t able to catch it or defend themselves from it. The scientists ran away and so did your father. Soldiers from all of the kingdoms were dispatched to kill that Caede but in the process, Timedale was wiped out. The village was in ruins and colored in red at the end of the day. The only survivor from that village was your mother and you. Everyone else died. No one knows until this day how and why it happened and how you and your mother survived. I don’t know much about what happened afterward. But it seems like you do,” he confessed. It was a lot to take in. It took me some time to respond.
“No, I don’t. I only know about it because of the reoccurring nightmares I am having. I still don’t remember anything clearly. My memories are foggy, and I am unable to differentiate between what is real and what is not,” I explained. He sat down on the table and looked outside. It had started raining. The cold wind was coming through the open door. He let out a big sigh.
“There is something else I need to tell you, Ari,” he said. I sat down next to him at the table.
“The village, Timedale was special. There is a reason why not many people knew about it and why its population was so small. Five thousand and sixteen years ago, a war separated your world and our world, called the Real and the Fake. Your world got greedy and tried to conquer our world. No one saw it coming and it ended as quickly and abruptly as it started. Not only was the peace between the two worlds broken but also between the three kingdoms. Various conspiracies surfaced and the three kingdoms started distrusting each other, starting a cold war. The balance was distorted. Everyone used to be allowed to travel between the worlds but after the Silent War, a nationwide rule was established. No one shall cross the border between the worlds and if someone broke that rule, the death sentence shall be their punishment,” he told me. It made sense to me now why I got the death penalty from the judges back at the court. However, if no one was allowed to pass the border between the worlds, how did my father end up being here? And how did my mother cross it with me?
“But how can you be sure that no one travels between the worlds? As you can see, I am here right now. On top of that my father and my mother crossed the border as well,” I asked him. And I knew that grandfather did as well.
“That I do not know. I only know that there are people called the Guardians who are responsible for that duty. They are the only ones that can actually open and close the gate between the two worlds. It is said that in the space beyond the gate, past, present, and future do not exist and that a guardian is chosen every century to be the successor who keeps the balance between the worlds. The guardians lived in a small village, away from the other populations. Only the three kingdom’s kings knew about it.”
“And that village was Timedale,” I interrupted him. He nodded his head to show me I was right. I bent over and put my head into my hands. This was ridiculous. Anyone who would hear this story would think that General Claw had gone crazy, but I knew in my heart that he was telling the truth. I felt a throbbing pain at the back of my head. My vision was getting blurry.
“I know it is a lot of information to take in, but it is important that you know about your past,” he said and gently placed his hand on my head.
“To be able to protect the border, the gate, and the world beyond, the guardian that was chosen to be the successor received powers unknown to everyone else. I went to the biggest library in all of the three kingdoms, called The Old Tree Library which is located at the back of Deonion to find out more about it. It was hard to find any books about the Guardians but in the end, I managed to find some reports that talked about one of the Guardians who lived centuries ago. It said that Guardians were capable of manipulating time, from accelerating, slowing, stopping, and rewinding time to being able to control and affect the entire space and time continuum. Be it a person or an object, the Guardian can manipulate the time of anything in its range of area,” he proceeded on with his explanation.
“What does it have to do with me? I get it that you want to tell me about my family and keep your promise, but this has nothing to do with me,” I murmured, still holding my head in between my hands. My headache was getting worse.
“It does. The next successor had to be someone from the Arterberry family. Your mother’s maiden name was Louise Arterberry. Meaning that ultimately her child would be the next Guardian,” he clarified.
“Does that mean I am supposed to be the next successor? The next so-called Guardian?” I asked him after raising my head abruptly, making me feel dizzy and nauseous.
After making him repeat himself over and over again, he told me to go back to the castle and rest. Suddenly being exposed to my past made me feel tired. General Claw noticed it and instructed Stefano to accompany me back. I still had so many questions to ask but General Claw rejected every one of them and told me in a firm voice to rest for today and that he would answer my questions tomorrow. I left the scythe with him. There was no need for me to carry it around and take it to the castle. Stefano asked me if I remembered anything when I was six years old, but I told him that I was too young and too many years had passed by without me remembering anything.
We arrived at the castle. Stefano wished me a good night and left. I found out from Jean-Luc that Gene was already sleeping. I went into my room and took off my training clothes. They were wet from the rain. I hung them up on the radiator in the bathroom to let them dry. I took a hot shower and put on my nightgown. Before going to bed I decided to think about everything that General Claw told me. I sat down on the sofa and let my head fall back. My hair was still wet. I stared at the ceiling. The light from the chandelier was blinding me. I rested one hand over my eyes to shield them from it. There was still a thumping feeling in the back of my head. The sound of the raindrops hitting against my window was breaking the silence.
“Let’s summarise everything,” I murmured to myself. My father was a scientist. He was trying to create the Caedes before I was even born. His laboratory was underneath Timedale. My mother fell in love with him and ended up marrying him. When I was six years old the first Caede went on a killing spree. Soldiers came and made the situation worse and wiped out the entire village. The only survivors: me and my mother. Now for the Guardian part. Two worlds peacefully coexisted with each other. The Real and the Fake. What kind of genius came up with those names? One world attacked the other. The Silent War happened. To avoid something like that happening again, the contact between the worlds was cut off and no one was allowed to travel between them. The Guardians made sure that no one crosses the border. Every century a new successor is chosen to be the Guardian. That successor has powers. Time manipulation powers. And supposedly the successor was me.
“That is too absurd!” I screamed while roughing up my hair with my hands. I stood up and walked over to my bed. There was no point in overthinking it. I laid down on my bed and closed my eyes. The light to my room was still on but I could not bring myself to turn it off.
Again, I stood in the middle of the street. The girl was standing next to me as always. I was having the same nightmare again but this time, I was conscious of the fact that it was a dream. My reoccurring nightmare. I ignored my surroundings and walked through the village to where the school was. It made sense to me now. I was in Timedale and the girl who was walking next to me was me when I was six years old. This time, I did not end up going to the school and just stood in front of the entrance gate.
“Let’s go back,” I said to the six-year-old me. There was still one thing that did not fit in this dream of mine. The street was empty. The people and vehicles disappeared as usual, and I was left alone. My younger self was holding my hand. She did not disappear this time. I turned around.
“You don’t fit in my dream. Who are you?” I asked the young boy who was standing on the opposite side of the street. His skin was as white as snow, making his black overalls, black shirt, and black shoes look even darker. He had two black holes for his eyes. His mouth was stitched up with a bloody thread. Next to him was the Caede that had killed my mother. Or so I thought. My mother’s body was not anymore in my dream. I felt more confident after knowing the history behind my mother’s village. My confusion was my weakness, and I was frightened because I did not know what was happening around me but not anymore.
“You don’t need to know who I am. More importantly, you should be wondering why Timedale was wiped out? Was it necessary to kill everyone? You can’t trust anyone. You yourself erased your memories after being betrayed by your loved one,” he finally answered me. The bloody thread stretched with every word he spoke. Did I really erase my memories? Was that even possible? The six-year-old me pulled my hand, indicating I should kneel down next to her. I did as she wanted me to. Her big round eyes were looking into mine.
“People worry about their past and their future. But you can’t change what already happened and you should not concern yourself about what has not happened yet. You can change your future by worrying about your present. People forget too often that their actions in the present time can lead to a bright or dark future. Decide on your own which path you would like to walk on and make that path your own,” she whispered into my ear. I stood up and looked at her astonished. Was I this smart when I was six years old? But her words hit me hard. She was right. No matter what happened in the past, I needed to walk on my own path. The boy and the Caede disappeared. Someone else was standing in their place. It was my mother, giving me a warm smile. I felt like she was telling me that everything will be fine. That it was okay to be afraid sometimes. My nightmare turned into a pleasant dream.
The next morning, I could not wait to meet General Claw. I had so many things to ask him, especially after the dream I had last night. The little boy was bothering me. I was so lost in my thoughts that I did not see Jean-Luc in front of me and bumped into him.
“Oh, sorry Jean-Luc. I didn’t see you,” I apologized in a hurry.
“Woah, how can you miss seeing a handsome man like me? And why are you in such a rush?” he asked me surprised. You could see that he was curious about why I was behaving like that.
“I need to talk to General Claw. Have you seen him?” I asked him back and totally ignored his first question.
“No, I have not. Is it about what he said to you yesterday?” he inquired. I took a step back and let out a sigh.
“I see and yes, it is,” I said, dissatisfied with his answer. He stepped closer and placed his hands on my shoulders.
“Well, it is good to see that you are doing fine. I thought that you might be in shock or saddened by your family’s past,” he said smiling.
“Don’t worry about me. I am actually glad that I have found out something about my past and it seems like I am recovering my memories bit by bit. But it seems like you knew about my past as well,” I assured him. He firmed his grip on my shoulders and pulled me in, resulting in him hugging me. I tried to push him away, but he would not move.
“I am sorry. I knew about it, but I promised General Claw that I would not say anything to you. He wanted to be the one telling you about your past. So, I obliged. And there is one other thing on my mind. It’s about when I was saying to you to get revenge for the death of your father. I only said it to get your attention and ultimately to get you to go with me,” he confessed.
“Okay, I get it. No need to say sorry. To be honest I don’t want to take revenge anymore. I am not mad at you, but I will if you won’t let me go,” I squealed. He did as I told him and let go of me. I immediately took a couple of steps back to increase the distance between us. I felt hot and my face was probably red as a tomato. It was odd to see him apologize and be this sincere.
After the conversation with Jean-Luc, I hurried to the training site to find General Claw. Jean-Luc came with me to see my scythe. I left him in the weapon storage facility with Stefano where he could find it and started looking around the training site to find General Claw. He was with some other soldiers, but I dragged him away from them to talk with him in private.
“You seem to be in pretty high spirits today,” he said to me. I was still holding his arm and walked with him behind a building.
“I have so many questions to ask. Like why did the soldiers wipe out the entire village? Why was everyone killed except my mother and me? Which kingdom was it that approved of my father’s experimentations? And did they know about the Caedes? And if I am the successor of the Guardian does that I mean I have those so-called powers? And how is it that my parents traveled between the worlds?” I asked him questions one after another. I talked so fast that my speech was unclear.
“Good gracious. So many questions. First, calm down,” he told me laughing.
“I can’t. Please answer all of my questions. I need to know,” I insisted.
“Fine. Like I previously mentioned no one knows how you and your mother survived. The kingdom that supported your father probably knew about your father’s intention or maybe they ordered him to carry out those experiments. For the part, which kingdom it was, I don’t know. Maybe the people from Timedale knew but unfortunately, that source is gone. And there is only one person that I know of that would know how your parents traveled between the worlds. That person is Nolan Dawson. Ask him the next time you’ll see him,” he answered every one of my questions.
“Daiyn’s grandfather? I wonder if he will tell me,” I wondered.
“He will, if you ask him, Ari. Now for your question if you have those so-called powers of a Guardian. I think you do. Maybe you haven’t realized it yourself yet but now that you know of them, you should try and figure them out. Try remembering a situation where you felt weird, or your surroundings felt odd and bizarre. You might have in the past used your powers unconsciously,” he explained.
“Unconsciously? When I felt weird, or my surroundings felt odd or bizarre?” I asked myself. I played with my necklace while thinking about it. And then I realized. The time when my mother died.
“From the look on your face it seems like you remember,” he said satisfied.
“What are you guys doing here?” Jean-Luc asked who was approaching us with Stefano. He was holding my scythe and looked excited.
“We are going to experiment with Ari. Let’s see who can bring her to use her powers first,” General Claw answered with a grin.