“Everything that follows is a fallacy. The people, the events, and the journeys are all a perverse creation of my imagination.”
These were the words that flared in young Thadius’ mind. Like a jester harking to the masses, a male’s voice repeated those words. It had been weeks since he had met sleep without the troubling dreams. At first, he had only barely recognized the importance of the dreams and the voice. Now, the voice was impossible to ignore and impossible to run from. Even when he screamed at the top of his lungs, he never woke and he had found that screaming only made the voice louder.
Now he resigned to listening, memorizing, and attempting to find clues to its meaning. So far, his attempts were met with failure. His dirty brown hair had collected grease and his skin turned pale. His hallow eyes stared into his soul through his tiny, square mirror. He had seen something, a sort of knowing in his twin illusion.
He was not completely mad, nor was he all together sane. Time and an ill-fated life had driven chaos into his past and present. No child should bear witness to butchered corpses, at least, not their parents. Their friends. Their neighbors. Thadius had come to realize that he no longer remembered what exactly had happened. Some images he saw vividly in his mind’s eye, while other swirled and jumbled together like clauses of color. He remembered a boy much like himself, but he was smaller and the image of this boy didn’t frighten Thadius.
The boy had shaggy red hair that playfully moved in the autumn breeze, while his fierce crimson eyes reflected the light coming from a bright, yet distant moon. That boy in Thadius’ mind, that reminded him so much of himself, was truly happy and blessed. The boy in his mind was a stranger, a stranger he no longer knew.
This night, that replayed an infinite amount of times in his mind, was the last time he saw his mother. Mother, he remembered his mother’s love, but the image was never the same. Her hair ever changing, a face that blurred and twisted with agony, and a sort of haunting calling. Almost as if the blurred image knew he was looking at her, knew that he had summoned what remaining memory he had of her. Behind her, always, was his house.
Thadius was sure that at some point in his life, he knew what his home looked like. Sometimes, when he felt safe, he would play out walking to the large, brown wooden door. He would reach out with his imaginary hand and grasp the wooden latch, pull it back, and watch as it opened. Yet every time he reached the point of looking inside, everything went black. All he knew about his home now was that it stood somewhere east of him, imbedded inside of a mountain.
At one point in time, he knew the mountains name and what the inside of his home looked like. All that remained in his mind’s eye now was that door and brief glimpses of rocky mountain sides. His father however was always in his mind. His ruggedly handsome face grizzled with a furry beard that matched his combed red hair, his muscular form met by a stance that shouted dominance, and his devotion to the child.
His mother and father had been inside tending to the nightly chores and activities, while Thadius stood alone outside. There had been a collective snapping of twigs in the distance, something that Thadius was unaccustomed to. Travelers rarely made their way to where his family lived and if there were any animals out at this time of night, they were not there to be friendly. After that all Thadius could recall was fear and screams. He awoke to blackened earth and ashen skies. A sweet, salty stench had collected in the air and a nightmare of blood and tears.
Thadius moved the mirrors angle, taking in his form in its entirety. He never liked what he saw, but he felt that knowing what he looked like was important.It wasn’t as if he expected to meet anyone new or have to present himself to someone who mattered, or didn’t matter. There was no one left, no one to talk to, and no one to see. Just a child’s broken and tattered face with matted hair, pale sick looking skin, and dark brown eyes with a tiny red…
There it was again! There was a light, a red flash in his left eye that exploded with a short, but true glow. The boy now stood, flinging his ripped and beaten leather bag to his left letting it land on the termite infested floor. He dared to let a whisper out, dared to test his sanity, “I know you are there.”As if to confirm his minds transition into an insane stupor, a board snapped under him causing his right leg to plummet through. Never once making a sound, the boy now stared at the tattered wooden door to his right.
His pack now to far from him and everything that he needed being out of reach, the child almost wanted to cry. Rain began tapping, slowly at first and then thunder boomed ominously above him. The distance being unmistakable, and the rain now making a symphony of taps, Thadius wept.
This was not a cry of a child who had been punished for wrong doings, not a child who had fallen out a tree, skinning his arms as he desperately tried to grasp something before hitting the ground with his back. This was a gasping sob of a human who had lost all hope.
The boy no longer looking at the door yanked and jerked his leg in a rage, as if everything that had happened up until this day was all the effect of his now trapped leg. Half an arm’s length in front of him sat a ragged and soiled cot that he had put together out of some lose wood he had found and thick, giant leaves that grew on trees in the surrounding hills. The leaves were larger than his body and he learned quickly that they made for good cover. Taking hold of its wooden frame, centering his left leg for leverage, and summoning every ounce of rage in his body, he pulled and pushed his way free.
In the back of his mind, very far from his thoughts, was a sharp pain. Tears blurring his vision, he screamed at the now empty floor. His bag was gone. Snap out of it!, his voice filled his mind and with a final sobbing gasp, he went silent.
Besides the uncontrollable swift inhales of the child, rain filled the cottage with noise. Thadius wiped his eyes with his woolen sleeves and watched for an agonizing five minutes as absolutely nothing happened. Chocking back renewed tears; he closed his eyes and screamed in the air with all the force he could muster. “Why do you wait, you’ve taken all that I have?”
His eyes clinched tighter, as he fully expected to die. In this moment, no single thought entered his mind. No replay of his life, no realization of what had happened, no answers. Not that he would have wanted it. That isn’t to say his entire thirteen years alive had been a tragedy, but what happy memories he still possessed sometimes felt like a cruel lie.
Perhaps someone or something placed them there. For what reason, he had no clue. It just seemed, now, impossible for him to be smiling or safe. He let his eyes open to find a man standing to his right, in front of the brick fire place he used for heat. Cold shot into his lungs as he sucked in a surprise full of air, and for a moment he fought to keep his eyes from closing.
The man turned slowly, no doubt allowing the boy to take his figure in. Thadius looked, but he cared not what form the thing wished to take. He had seen it many times before, as a farmer, a knight, a king, a beggar, and even once as his own mother. That time had almost been his downfall, but as long as he had the book he always made it through. That was also the last time he saw his mother, since then her image would no longer come to his mind.
This time was different, this time the thing had his bag and with it his book. Knowing his fate, the boy puffed his chest out and stood tall, imagining himself as strong and fierce, awaiting his doom.
The pale faced man smiled and Thadius felt silly attempting a show of courage with a tear and snot covered face. The man removed his hood and let his short, spiky black hair show in the now lit fireplace. Thadius did not remember ever setting wood in there to light, but it hardly seemed important now. A short, well kept beard outlined a man of beauty, but even the beggar had not been ugly. Then, before Thadius could memorize the man’s face, he slammed shut his eyes as tight as his eyelids would allow and thought of a flower.
He imagined it’s thin, fragile green stem bending and moving in a perfect spring breeze. He thought of blue petals, surrounding a red, fuzzy core like a mystic one of a kind sunflower. Then just before he could imagine the sweet, beautiful smell… a slam violently irrupted to his left.
Thadius was so surprised that he forgot to keep his eyes shut. “Thadius, my son.” The man’s voice sent chills up his spine. This man he knew. Shinning black hair brushed to one side, a silver sword that sat in its jewel embroiled sheath neatly at his waist, and fully armored in the Igian full plate uniform, his father’s black eyes smiled down at him.
His father turned to the cloaked man with spiky hair and in silence seemed to communicate. No movements were made and no noise was exchanged, but Thadius could tell that there was something in that look. The thing had never come to him as two people before, something didn’t fit.
The black haired man, as Thadius labeled him, was now moving his dainty hands in and out of hidden pockets. Thadius looked hard for a good, heart hammering moment and could find no cuts or slits for holding objects. Yet, every time his hands moved down, it would disappear into the cloak.
“Your words fall on deaf ears, shade.” The boys eyes went wide with shock, the black haired man’s mouth had moved with the voice. Thadius had heard audible voices from this thing before, but never had its mouth opened. What should have been something as simple as a man speaking to another man scared what little life Thadius had left out of him. He sank to the floor and curled into a ball, weeping. He heard the thing shrouded in his father’s image step closer to him.
“My son, I have come for you.” The hauntingly comforting voice filled the child’s mind. His father that loved him, who had once held him when he was frightened, who Thadius had seen dead four years ago was back for him. Of course he knew it to be a lie, but anything he could do to bring something besides terror was welcome. The footsteps almost directly in front of him, he remained still and shaking with his eyes covered by his knees.
“Ah Ha! Here it is.” The black haired man’s booming voice overpowered Thadius’ thoughts. “Asslerra Shade, ja den bashka!” A light so bright it lit the child’s eyelids up, flashed in the room and silence followed it. Footsteps walked towards the curled up boy and stopped in front of him. Knowing nothing in this world that could scare him further, he dared to open his eyes. Standing there before him was a now sweating, black haired man.
“You are safe now child, sleep.” The man’s hand swept in front his eyes. Feeling his eyes and mind drifting closed, the last thing young Thadius heard was his own voice screaming no.