Jan 2008

Chapter 118Of Pins and Needles

The girl kept her eyes closed as we carried her through the sky. I hadn't noticed it at first but it felt as if she gave us secrecy. She didn't want to know where we took her so she couldn't tell anyone about it. A thought occurred to me; With her gifts, she did not need to see. We carried her between us, like a wounded soldier from the front being carried home.

"Are you sure?" I asked Faith as we flew. Why did we take her to the castle, was there nothing else around?

"No, but we're left for choices. And time grows shorter for tonight." She spoke openly and clearly. Knowing it was not the best choice, but the only choice for now if we wished to uncover some truths.

With those words in my mind, echoing like a simple sound in a wide canyon, we continued and arrived back at the castle. Afentis had returned from his errand and waited patiently, a book in his hand as he sat on the sofa. His expression changed from surprise to wonder as he noticed we brought a visitor. But this was Faith's house, he didn't question her, instead he just asked us what had passed.

We told him of the ritual, the words, the fire... And finally the locket.

"Amy, show me?"

With a little hesitation I handed the locket to him and he looked at it, turning it over and over in his hands. His gaze was intense and I could feel his mind centered around the thing. He closed his eyes as he held it, stretching his arms. As he opened his eyes he handed the locket back to me.

"Look at the side."

I took more time to study the locket then I did last time and noticed two very slim buttons at the side as well. Simple, the locket would not open unless you held these buttons. Maneuvering the locket in my fingers, I moved to press it. Afentis grabbed my arm.

"No." The girl spoke just before he did.

Afentis smiled. "She's right." He looked at the girl. "What is your name?"

"Nuru, Lord."

"Ah, she knows me." Afentis smiled.

I was a bit surprised and still curious to the locket. "Why can't I open it."

"It's protected. Watch."

He took the locked and picked up a letter opener to press one of the side buttons gently. He showed it to me and enabled me to look closely. There was a needle embedded in the button. As soon as you would press it, you'd press your finger in a needle and hurt yourself. Poison?

"Yes, Poison." Afentis looked gravely. "It's a very old locket, a kind I have seen a few times before. Depending on the poison used, it can be a nasty end for people. Of course, for us it would mean a few days sleep. Still, it is not something to trifle with."

"How then?" I wanted to know what was inside. I knew it was important, it must be!

"Alone, it's nearly impossible to open, as you need at least three hands. But together, we can do it. Faith, hand us something, will you?"

The girl just watched at all of us as Faith nodded and handed Afentis a ballpoint. She handed me a small pen-knife and stood back, next to the girl.

Afentis gave the locket for me to hold and pressed both side buttons simultaneous. Holding it steady as well as I pressed the top button. It took a bit of fiddling to press the button the right way and it surprised me how easy it looked for him. But I did it, with a little 'click' the locket opened and gave way it's prize. A piece of folded paper fell out and drifted to the floor. Afentis bent and picked it up between the letter-opener and the pen. Never touching it.

"Someone who guards something like this with poison, wouldn't stop at the locket itself. Touching this paper would not be a good idea. Faith, have you got a copier somewhere?"

Faith nodded. "Yes, in the study room. A small one, but it will do."

They left, leaving me with the locket still in my hands, gazing at the picture within. They didn't look at it, preoccupied with what appeared to be the most important thing. But the locket had held more than just that piece of paper. It was not just used as a place for storage, but also to hold someone dear. A boy.

A black-and-white picture of a young boy, six or seven at most. Light skin and dark hair like the man. And light eyes, which surprised me.

The other side of the locket held words, just five simple words.

Keep him in your heart.

The voice of the girl, Nuru, interrupted my thoughts and added to them.

"His son, lost."