Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas with the Oracles - Day Three!

Day Three

Scroll to the bottom of the page for the giveaway!

The Guardians of Souls
The Soul Quest Trilogy, Book Two

Chapter One
Liv Time - July 3, 2015
Place - Liv's house
Queens, New York

"Forgiveness is a virtue of the brave."

- Indira Gandhi

    It’s been almost one month since I spoke to Jedd. The last four months of school were not easy to say the least. It had been awkward for everyone knowing that Jedd knew about the spirit world. Brayan was fine with it but Meena was furious and Laith was worried.
    "How could you do this, Liv?" Meena demanded. "It isn't logical to let him be a part of our world. It increases the danger for both him and us. Do I have to remind you about what happened to Melissa?" she scolded.
    Laith looked at the floor.
    "I'm sorry, Laith... but it's true" she apologized to Laith.
    "That isn't fair. Shy told Melissa about the spirit world, not us. Besides, Laith said Jedd had already clued in on his own for the most part." Brayan defended me.
    "They aren't supposed to know about us. It is too much for them." Meena insisted.
    "I agree, it is too much for the average human but Jedd is different. He has a special gift and he wants to help." I said. "... and I think we should allow him to, within reason." I argued further.
    "He will become a liability." Meena disagreed. "I can't believe you are backing her up on this." she accused Brayan.
    "As long as Jedd is only functioning in the observatory sense and he isn't directly in the line of fire... well, an extra spiriter is an asset we can't take for granted. It's been over four months since Shy disappeared and no one here or in Arcadia is any closer to locating him." Brayan reasoned.
    "Liv? I think you should tell Jedd to stay out of this." Laith said.
    He looked so sad. Losing Melissa changed him. He had lost some of his bravery and macho. He wasn't Laith anymore.
    "Finally, someone with some sense." Meena snapped at me.
    "Don't be mean, Meena!" Laith complained. He was quiet for a moment before he finally lifted his head to look me in the eyes.
    "I mean it, Liv. I think it's a mistake. I think it's not safe for Jedd or us. Please, will you just think about it some more?" Laith's eyes were pleading.
    I felt my head nodding in agreement. "I promise Laith. I will think about it." I finally surrendered. I hated to cause him any more pain.

    So it went like that for the four of us for a while. Brayan and I defended Jedd's knowledge and involvement in our world while Meena and Laith refused to accept it. We never spoke about our differences in front of Jedd but I knew he sensed it. He can see auras and feel allures. He sensed Meena and Laith's anxiety about him as much as he sensed mine and Brayan's trust in him. Meena and Laith were not alone in their anxiety toward Jedd. Beau and Naomi were fiercely against the idea of involving a human in our matters. Kevin and Belinda remained neutral. In the end Hala sided with Brayan and I. For now, at least, Jedd was in the loop. Not that it mattered.
    Jedd isn't even speaking to me right now. At the end of the school year we had another one of our big blow outs. It was the same scenario. He wants to fight on the front lines and I want him stay in the background.
    "Why can't I go with you?" Jedd had demanded on the last day of school.
    Me and my companions had conveniently provided ourselves with an alibi for the summer. We told Amber, Ray, Jedd and Drue that we were going to summer camp and we would be gone sporadically as a result. Jedd knew what was up. He knew Hala had plans for us to search for Shy this summer, where ever that may lead us.
    "Jedd, you can't even go to Arcadia. Only Spirits can go to the Spirit world. Duh!" I said frustrated.
    "I can still be a part of your search party when you're here on Earth." he argued.
    "No... you... can't." I said emphasizing each word. We had been over this one million times. "We made a deal, Jedd." I said. "You are supposed to stay behind the scenes where it is safe." I reiterated.
    "No, you made a deal... not me. I never agreed to those terms." he said.
    "It is more than just a deal between you and me, Jedd. It is a deal between you, me and Arcadia." I clarified.
    He didn't know about the concession that had been made about his knowledge of the spirit world.
    "What?" he wondered.
    He was clueless. I sighed. I had not wanted to get into this with him. I knew the conversation would end badly.
    "Jedd, the Spirit world is OK with your knowledge of its existence as long as you stay out of harms way. That means you stay in the background." I explained. The look on his face was incredulous. As the meaning of my words began to register so did his heart break. "Jedd, please understand. Please don't be upset. We just want you to be safe." I tried to ease his pain but my words only seemed to inflict more.
    "We... I used to be included in there somewhere, but not anymore." he said looking away from me.
    I knew what he meant. I was breaking my promise to him. I had promised him that nothing would ever come between us. Now, I realized it was a promise I was not of authority to make.
    "I'm sorry, Jedd. Please forgive me." I had begged him.
    That was the last time we spoke. He has since refused to return my phone calls, emails and text messages. I am not forgiven.

Chapter Two
Time - July 3, 2015
Place - Silver City Research and Technology

"Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life."

- Buddha

    "Any luck today, Brayan?" Hala asked as he stepped into the laboratory.
    I still couldn't get over his appearance. He was every bit like Beau had described him. He smiled up at me with his cherub like face. His wide emerald green eyes peered between golden ringlets.
    "Absolutely, Hala. I've already finished the Vanishing Ring and I am now working on the other project you requested." I answered.
    "How wonderful my boy. May I see how the ring works?" he asked excitedly.
    The enthusiasm sparked in his eyes and made him look that much more child like.
    "Of course." I said. I was so excited I nearly couldn't stand it. I had been waiting longingly for someone to ask me to show off my new creation. I walked to the cabinet where I had stowed the ring. "It won't cloak our auras and allures, but we will be completely undetectable from humans." I clarified before I began.
    "Yes, Brayan. That was my main concern. It had bothered me last winter when you and your companions were forced to separate because you were afraid the humans might see you in your shape shifted forms. Hopefully this new tool will prevent such dangerous measures from being necessary again." he said.
    I nodded. I placed the ring on my finger. The thick gold band encased a round carat sized carved piece of crystallized star dust. The stone emanated the Light from within. It had the appearance of an ordinary solitaire style ring only the set of prongs the crystal was embedded in was fastened to a rotation device. If the crystal was turned all the way to the left the power of the ring was inactive. If the crystal was turned all the way to the right the power of the ring was activated. I reached down and placed my right thumb and forefinger on the solitaire and turned the crystal stone to the right.
    "Oh, that is splendid!" laughed Hala as he clapped. I had completely vanished. "... and it works instantaneously. You vanished entirely from my sight immediately after you rotated the crystal." he complimented.
    "I'm glad you like it, sir. I think it will come in handy for us and it shouldn't be too difficult to make personal adjustments." I said.
    He nodded, pleased with my work.
    "No doubt, Brayan. Keep up the good job!" he cheered. "I wish I could stay longer but I have to meet with some of the Oracles at the court house now, Brayan." Hala said as he headed toward the door. "I'll check back in with you again later." he promised.
    I smiled at the idea. I had come to really like and respect Hala since he invited me to Arcadia a little over a month ago. He had some projects he wished for me to invest some time in. My companions had yet to see this incredible place. I remember the day Belinda came to see me to relay Hala's wishes.
    "Hi, Brayan. Are you busy?" she had asked.
    "Nope. What's up?" I wondered.
    "Well, Hala wants to speak with you." she said to my surprise.
    I had never seen Hala in person before. None of my companions had either.
    "Really? Do you know what he wants?" I wondered.
    "Yes, but it would be better for you to discuss it with him." she said.
    "OK. Where?" I asked.
    "Arcadia." she said with a huge grin.
    "Really? I get to go to Arcadia?" I breathed.
    "Yeah, isn't it great? I can't wait to take you." she babbled excitedly.
    This was major. "First, you are going to need to shape shift so we can get to the Heavens." she continued.
    "The Heavens? Isn't that far?" I asked incredulously.
    "Not as far as you think." she laughed.
    I discovered she was right after I had shape shifted and we were on our way. The Heavens are at about the same altitude you would find an airborne plane. As the idea registered a plane flew over our heads. Not far off in the distance I could see what appeared to be a hub for a railway system. The platforms were literally floating in the clouds. We landed on the platforms to find a ticket counter and signs pointing to various gates. I read the signs:
Canada, South America, Europe 1, Europe 2... The list continued in this fashion.
    "What is this?" I asked Belinda.
    "This is the Arcadian Orbit Terminal in the Heavens. It can take you to any Earthly destination or Arcadia within minutes." she explained.
    Another plane flew by.
    "Can't they see this?" I wondered as I watched the plane round the gate to Australia. There was a man sitting in coach reading the morning paper while he sipped his coffee.
    "No, humans can't see spirits." she began but quickly seemed to remember something. "...but you should try to stay behind me when they pass by again. They can see you. You're half human." she realized.
    Wouldn't it be something to look outside of your airplane window and take in the sight of a centaur seemingly standing in the middle of the clouds?
    As if Belinda could here my thoughts she said, "Shape shift back to your human form, Brayan."
    We walked to the ticket counter and purchased our tickets to Arcadia. We quickly found the Arcadia bound gate and boarded the train. Once the train began moving I could only assume we were traveling impossibly fast. It felt normal inside of the train but everything outside of the window sped passed in a blur.
    "How fast are we going Belinda?" I asked.
    "The speed of light." she said simply.
I only nodded. My assumptions had been correct. We were only on the train for a short time before we reached Arcadia. When the train slowed enough to make out the shapes and figures on the outside of the train my eyes fell upon a sign that read, 'Welcome to Arcadia!' We were greeted by more platforms and ticket counters inside of what appeared to be a building carved from some type of white stone. The floor of the terminal looked to be made of something similar only the surface was smoother like it had been polished. My mind wasn't blown away until we stepped outside onto the shimmering pavement of Silver City. It was the most beautiful place I had ever seen.
    "Welcome to Silver City, Brayan!" Belinda said warmly as we stepped outside.
    The same white stone that held up the walls of the Terminal appeared everywhere only outside in the sunlight it sparkled silver and cast prisms of light every which way. The pavement was a rainbow of brilliant color stretched out in front of us. It was lined with various shops and businesses. Across the rainbow path stood a post office and next to it was a small coffee house. The rainbow road paved its way between a clothing store, a hair salon, a jewelry store and a bank. Everything you could ask of a metropolitan city was glistening in front of me. The colored path served as both street and sidewalk. There were no cars, trucks or vehicles of any kind. The only form of transportation appeared to be a glass - like slab that hovered a few inches above the ground. It looked like a magical skateboard.
    "Cool! What is that?" I asked Belinda.
    "It's called a Trans - Sport Board. It's how we get around in Silver City." she said as she pulled two boards out of her bag. The boards looked as if she should have never have been able fit one inside of her bag much less two. "Here." she said as she handed me a board. She placed her board near the pavement and it instantaneously began to hover. She stepped onto her board and gestured for me to follow her lead.
    "Uhm... Belinda... You know I'm not very athletic." I hesitated.
    She chuckled. "Believe me, I know... just trust me." she continued. I placed my board near the pavement and as I did an energy seemed to grab it and float it above the ground. That was interesting. "Did you feel the pull of energy?" Belinda asked. I nodded. "That's the Light. It will hold you up once you step on it." she explained.
    Maybe she was right. I stepped on to the board and was instantly planted to its surface. The energy that had floated the board was now holding me in balance on top of it. I could feel my center of gravity adjust with each move I made. I felt entirely secured on the board.
    "How is it doing that?" I wondered.
    "It's the Light." she shrugged. "It centrifugally does the work for you." she finished. "Like I said, this is how we get around Silver City. If you want to go to another region you have to use a Trans - Portal." she said as she gestured toward a blue phone booth a few yards in front of us.
    "You have to call for a cab?" I wondered.
    She laughed again. "It's not a phone booth, silly. It's a portal. Come here, I'll show you." she said as we picked up our Trans - Sport Boards and stepped inside of the portal.
    The inside of the portal held a device that looked like a phone with out its receiver. Belinda deposited several coins in its slots and punched in a code. As soon as she did this the portal flashed and we were standing in the same portal in a different location. The Trans - Portal was surrounded by fields of flowing lavender that swayed side to side in the wind. Outside the portal another rainbow path led to what appeared to be a housing development. There were houses, apartments and town homes. I could see a play ground, tennis and basketball courts, a swimming pool and a large community building of sorts.
    "This is Lavender Valley, Brayan. This is where all of the Guardians and their families live. I live in that apartment building over there." she said as she gestured toward a tall white stone apartment building behind the tennis courts.
    Belinda gave me a quick tour of Arcadia before we went to see Hala. She took me to all of the regions using the Trans - Portal. After we left Lavender Valley she took me to a place called the Land of the Shadowless. It looked like nothing I'd ever seen. Structurally it was similar to Lavender Valley but the structures lacked substance. It was literally a ghost town. The people and buildings appeared to float in the sunshine. Where you could see shadows created by the outlines of my body and Belinda's the sunlight continued to spill around the Shadowless. Everything and everyone was transparent.
    "This is where human souls reside when they begin their second life. We call them the Shadowless because they are now void of their human Shadow remains." Belinda had said.
    Their name was entirely fitting.
    Next we traveled to Paradise Mountain. It was a mountainous land with individual homes scattered around. The homes were all very different. Some appeared cottage like while others where mansions. There was a large estate at the top of the mountain that was painted in gold. Metallic columns lined the front of the home and stained glass windows filled the window panes. The front yard was vast and filled with many fruit bearing trees.
    "That's Hala's home. All of the Oracles live here." Belinda said as she noticed where my gaze was focused. At first I thought we were headed up the mountain to his house. "Hala is waiting for us at the Temple of Humanity in Silver City. Come on, we have one more stop on your tour." she smiled.
    When the portal flashed again I could hardly believe what I was seeing. It looked like a volcano made out of glass or ice.
    "This is the Maze of Mirrors. It houses the Light and its walls are windows into the past, present and future. This is where Hala keeps an eye on the human world." she explained.
    I remembered learning about the Maze of Mirrors in my inductions and of course Belinda and my companion's Guardians had mentioned it a thousand times before now. Still, I was speechless to be standing in front of the massive magical home of the Light.
    "So, this is where it all started?" I pondered.
   Belinda nodded. When we returned to Silver City the Trans - Portal spit us out in a new location.
   "We're on the east end of the city now. We're headed there." she said pointing at a sort of government complex in the distance.
    There were six structures with in the complex. The Arcadia Court House was located in the center. The building itself was Roman in architectural style. Long steps as wide as the structure led up to the thick columns lining the front of the building. The top of the building raised up into a point. Across from the court house beyond a small courtyard was The Wishing Well. Water seemed to spill out of the top of white stone wall and rippled its way into a small placid pond. There were several gardens and statuesque sculptures lining the pond.
    'What is that for?" I wondered.
    "The Wishing Well is where Spirits go to pray for the souls of humankind." Belinda said.
    Her answers were very short and to the point. To the right of the Arcadia Court House stood a school house. A parallel set of repeating archways supported a rooftop that covered another rainbow pathway which led up to the school. Silver City University was carved in the stone above the entry way to the school.
    "That's where Guardians receive their Guardianship training." Belinda said as she gestured toward the school. Beside the school was another large building. It was plain and square and lacked the Roman influence of the court house and University. Upon looking at the building more closely I realized the building had no windows. Belinda found what I was looking at and said, "That's Silver City Research and Technology. You're going to be spending a lot of your time there very soon."
    "Cool." I breathed. It sounded like my kind of place.
    On the other side of the research facility was a huge skyscraper style building. The walls of the building were tall and angular clear glass but inside of the structure were splashes of bright color and intricate shapes. The sign outside of this building read, The Gallery.
    "This is our center for the Arts. You can take any type of art related class imaginable here, performing or visual. You may participate in the performances, or just watch them." Belinda said. On the opposite side of the complex facing the University, research facility and Arts center was a huge dome like structure. Staircases and entrances circled this facility every thirty to forty feet. At the top of the dome topper was a gold sign which read, The Coliseum. "This is where all of Arcadia's athletic events and competitions are held." Belinda continued.
    "Wow. I know a certain human Oracle who will love this place." I smiled.
    "Laith." Belinda nodded. "I bet Liv will go crazy over The Gallery too." she added.
    "Definitely!" I agreed. "Why are we meeting Hala, here? Wouldn't he prefer to meet us at the Maze of Mirrors?" I asked Belinda as we walked up the long shining steps that led to the Arcadia Court House.
    "All of Arcadia's business matters are conducted here at the court house." Belinda answered.
    "Why?" I wondered.
    "Well, it is true that a lot can be learned at the Maze of Mirrors but in Arcadia it is thought of primarily as a place of respect. I suppose humans would call it, sacred ground. Anyway, it is not the sort of place for everyday business matters." she explained.
    "Makes sense." I nodded in understanding.
    As we entered the large roman style building we were greeted with more signs and a flood of people. Guardians, Oracles and the Shadowless were at the court house today. Some were here for their own personal business matters and others for a regular day of employment.
    "Hi, Sara. Can you let Hala know we are on our way up?" Belinda asked the smiling Shadowless receptionist seated at the front desk.
    "Sure thing." winked Sara.
    Other than her translucence she appeared exactly as you would expect a receptionist to appear. She wore a button up blouse, knee length skirt, and two inch pumps. Her hair was neatly twisted into bun at the base of her neck.
    "Good day, Sara. Are the Oracles still in session in Humanity Hall?" asked an elderly bearded man.
    He was wearing mint green sandals with an emerald green business suit.
    "Sorry Kaiea. The meeting just let out." Sara said in a friendly tone.
    "Well drat. I thought I might make this one. Oh well, the tide is out now. Maybe I'll go grab some coffee at Stardust's Cafe." Kaiea sighed.
    "You have a great day now!" Sara smiled at him.
    "That's Kaiea, the Oracle of Tides." Belinda explained as we made our way through the large commons area of the court house.
    Belinda led us to a staircase in the far east corner of the room. The smooth blue rectangular sign read Humanity Hall with an arrow positioned below the words that pointed up. On our way up the staircase we passed other signs that said things like Newborn Human/Guardian Assignment, The Shadowless Registry, The Department of Aging, and Guardianship Licensing and Evaluation. Finally, we reached a large conference room. The floor was carpeted in a deep blue while the walls remained the same crushed white rock. The ornate Georgian style furniture was finished in gold and beautifully reflected the light streaming into the room through huge arch style windows. In the far corner I could see two people talking. One was a balded athletic looking man. The other I recognized instantly as Hala. I had never seen him before but he looked exactly as Beau described him.
    "Welcome, Brayan and Belinda." he smiled. His chubby cheeks were bubble gum pink and his eyes sparkled like emeralds between long thick eyelashes. He had blond hair that hung in ringlets to his shoulders. Both Hala and the bodyguard type looking man wore long flowing white robes with matching sandals.
    "Hello Brayan. My name is Hala and this is Paul, the Oracle of Guardianship." said Hala.
    Paul, of course. I should have known he would be the one to be with Hala. Then again, Paul did not really look the way I had anticipated him to look either. I pictured him to look much like Mr. Stein, my ninth grade English teacher. You know, the scholarly type. An average sized man with a receding hair line and a well trimmed beard wearing a button up shirt covered in a dark sweater vest over corduroy slacks. Not this guy. He looked like the type you might find on a Saturday afternoon sporting blue jeans, a black leather jacket and a Harley.
    "Brayan, I am so glad you came." Hala continued. "I need a favor from you." he said.
    "Of course, but what could I possibly do for you?" I wondered.
    Hala giggled. "You are my high tech guy, aren't you?" Hala asked.
    "Uhm... yes, sir." I answered nervously. I hoped I was up to the task.
    "Well, I have some projects I would like you to start working on. The first will probably be a breeze for you. I would like you to make a tool that can make you and your companion's invisible. The other project is well.. a little bit more complex." he said uncomfortably.
    Hala went on to explain his idea for the second project. He wanted me to create a weapon that could kill Daevas and Aengels. To date the only weapon available is our blazes and they wouldn't be very effective in the event Oracles are up against large numbers of Daevas and Aengels. He wants me to create a portal that can lock onto the Daeva's and Aengel's cold dark allures and act as a vacuum to transport them underground. Once they are transported underground the mother Earth will suffocate and kill them.
    After Hala left I replaced the Vanishing Ring in the cabinet and returned to my work. The Vanishing ring had been a breeze just as Hala predicted. I completed the ring in less than a week. The most complex part of the job was configuring the three dimensional digitization of the body. Once I had that in place it was just a matter of programming the Light infused configuration to reflect its surroundings. You see, the ring doesn't really make you invisible. It's an illusion. What really happens is the Light acts as a mirror and reflects everything surrounding you, making you appear to have disappeared.
    The Vanquishing Portal is another story. I am approaching week five on this project. The vacuum and the portal destination were easy enough to set up, but locking onto masks and allures is very complicated. It is difficult to program a computer to recognize something that you do not have in your possession. Not that I'm complaining, I'm glad that Arcadia is Daeva and Aengel free. They can't survive in the spirit world because the Light originates here. Its intensity is too strong and destroys them. Anyway, I knew I couldn't replicate masks and dark allures so I reversed my approach. I am trying to teach the computer to identify anything that is the opposite of an aura or a Light allure.
    Testing the efficiency of the Vanquishing Portal has been a challenge because, once again, I do not have a real target to test it on. To test its effectiveness I had to use another reversed logic strategy. I tested it on subjects that it should not lock onto. Unfortunately, I didn't think about disabling the vacuum and portal destination features before I'd done this. It worked like a charm on the Guardian and Oracle volunteers. Sadly, however, the Shadowless volunteer didn't share the same luck. It locked onto the Shadowless person and proceeded to vacuum and bury him underground. It hadn't harmed him any way. Still, he was extremely pissed off. It took him ten minutes to rise and pass through the surface of the lab floor. After that little mishap I couldn't get another Shadowless person to volunteer for my testing. I programmed the computer to identify the Shadowless as persons it should not lock onto, but was never able to test it. I'm still not sure why it locked onto him. Maybe the effervescence of the Shadowless man confused the system. I suppose if the system couldn't process a body that was truly tangible it might lock on by default.
    So, here I am now with a Vanquishing Portal and no way to know if it will actually lock onto the Daevas and Aengels it is intended to destroy. The good news is, I know it will not lock onto Guardians, Oracles and Human Oracles. Naturally, I tested it on myself to make sure I wouldn't accidentally vacuum up myself or one of my companions. I feel fairly confident that it will not lock onto the Shadowless now, but I can't be sure since I was not able to test it again. The bad news is, I won't know for sure if it will lock onto Daevas and Aengels until my companions and I are in the presence of one. This reality is very unsettling to me.

Now for the Giveaway!!!

Books available in the Soulless Giveaway:

Amy Maurer Jones - The Guardians of Souls
Amy Miles – Forbidden 
Anne M. Hargrove - Survival, Resurrection, and DeterminantAmy Harmon Slow Dance in Purgatory and Prom Night in Purgatory
KA Tucker Asylum and AllegianceJill Cooper - The Dream SlayerKaren Hooper - Tangled Tides and Grasping at Eternity

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What are you waiting for? 
Tell your friends and enter to win!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment