The house was empty when I awoke the next afternoon. My head felt hazy as memories from my childhood continued to flow through my mind uncontrollably. I sat on the edge of my bed with a groan and realized that I could sense the house around me, and I could also sense the neighbors moving about their house next door. My legs felt weak as I tried to stand, and the room shifted around me as I braced myself against the nightstand.
"Mom!" I called out, even though I knew it was useless.
Suddenly, she was standing in front of me with a gentle smile on her face. She quickly slipped her hand under my elbow to hold me steady.
"You shouldn't be awake, yet, Elijah." My mother told me as she pushed me to sit back down on my bed. She promptly sat down next to me. "Are you okay?"
"I don't know," I admitted as she started rubbing my back. "I feel like all that's happened is that more questions were created that need answers."
She smiled and hugged me.
"Once all of your memories have settled, you'll be able to understand everything better."
"I hope so," I said softly.
"I promise, Eli." My mother said softly. "Would you like something to eat?"
"Yes, ma'am." I said with a blush.
"Take a shower and I'll have some food ready for you when you come downstairs," my mother instructed before she motioned towards the stairs. "Don't take too long."
"I won't, mom." I told her before I went back upstairs.
I had to stop multiple times along the way to brace myself as another memory caught me off guard, but I managed to do it without falling over. Once I was in my room, I promptly sat down on my bed and rubbed the palm of my hands against my face for a moment. My mind was still racing, and I wasn't able to grasp a single thought so I could process what was going on. It was pointless to try to concentrate on anything, so I did as my mother suggested and went to take a shower. I gathered my clothes for the day while I waited for the water to heat up to where I liked it. I thought about texting Brayden since I hadn't saw him since we each drank the weird potion my Aunt Mattie had given us, but I decided that if I was feeling like shit, then he probably was too.
Instead of standing in the shower like normal, I decided to just sit and let the water wash over me. It was like getting a small massage while I let the worries of the past few days wash down the drain. More had happened to me than I wanted to admit, and every piece of it confused me to my core. The only good thing was that my nightmares seemed to have stopped for the time being. I had managed to jump through space to save Brayden from falling to his death, and it apparently wasn't the first time that I had used that method to save his life. The memories that were still flowing into my mind were revealing more and more times that Brayden and I had managed to get ourselves into trouble. I grimaced slightly as one memory began to stick out more than the others.
Brayden and I were climbing a tree in the backyard when we were only eight. Our moms were sitting on the deck, talking about whatever it was that moms talked about while we kept trying to see who could get higher into the tree. Brayden was on the other side of the trunk from me, and we were up in the thin parts of the tree enjoying ourselves when the wind picked up suddenly and the branch I was standing on cracked beneath my feet. Brayden's brown eyes went wide in fear before the branch snapped completely. I felt every branch I encountered on the way down before I slammed into the ground with a cry of pain. My mother was there in an instant with Natalie right by her side. Both women looked petrified as they stared at me.
"Elijah?" I heard Brayden ask in shaky voice as he finally made it down the trunk of the tree.
"Step back, Salena." Natalie instructed my mother as Brayden knelt beside me. "I think this is one of 'those' things that only Brayden and Eli can handle."
"It hurts, mom." I said as tears of pain slid from the corners of my eyes.
"I know, baby boy." My mother said as tears stained her own blue eyes. "Brayden is going to help you, though."
"Me?" Brayden asked in a small voice.
"Yes, Brayden." Natalie said as she patted her son on the shoulder. "Just focus on Elijah, and your mind will take care of the rest."
"Okay," he said nervously.
Brayden looked down at me with fear evident on his face as he reached out and touched his hands to my chest. His eyes went wide for a moment before I felt a tingling sensation rush through my body. Brayden's face went pale and he slumped to the side, Natalie catching him just before he hit the ground.
"That went better than I expected," my mom said as she quickly began checking me over for any wounds.
"I don't hurt anymore, mom." I told her.
My mother smiled at me.
"That's excellent news, Eli." My mother told me. "I'll make sure Brayden knows how well he did at healing you."
I gasped as my mind returned to the present. When I opened my eyes, I noticed a strange bluish glow emanating from around me and my chest felt like it was beginning to grow warmer. I glanced down to see that the blue light was coming from my own chest - directly in the center of my ribcage. I touched the strange light and felt the heat coming from behind it. I had a vague recollection of the strange stone sinking into my chest during my dreams, but I had thought that was all it was - just a dream. The more I concentrated on the strange stone, the more it started to glow and pulse with every beat of my heart.
"Mom!" I yelled out in a panic.
"Eli? Are you okay?" My mom asked from outside of the shower a moment after I yelled for her.
"There's something wrong, mom." I said as I began to lose control over my emotions.
'Relax, Chosen One.' A female voice said in my head.
"Who said that?" I asked.
"Just do what she tells you to do, Elijah." My mother said calmly. "Take a few deep breaths and everything will be fine."
I forced myself to do as my mom said, and once the light started to fade, I was able to breathe normally again.
"What was that, mom?"
"It's nothing to worry about, Elijah." She told me. "It's the source of some of your powers."
"Oh, I said absently as the water continued to cascade over my body. "Does it always happen?"
"No," my mother replied with a gentle laugh. "Once you are finished with your shower, Elijah, we'll discuss it further. I may not be able to answer all of your questions, but I'll try my best."
"Okay," I replied meekly before I heard her step out of the bathroom and close the door behind her.
I frowned and glanced at the skin of my chest to see that it was still faintly glowing, but I could barely make it out beneath my own tan skin tone which helped me breathe a sigh of relief. I hurriedly finished with my shower and dressed in shorts and a t-shirt before I joined my mother in the kitchen.
"Do you feel better?" She asked as I made myself comfortable on one of the stools.
"Somewhat," I replied with a shrug. "I still feel weird, though."
"How so?" My mother asked as she set a plate of pancakes and eggs in front of me.
"It feels like my entire body is buzzing," I replied with a shrug. "My chest is still glowing, too. How do I explain that to people, mom?"
"Well," she said as she sat next to me. "You won't have to worry about people at school seeing the glow, though."
"Why?" I asked curiously.
Instead of answering me, my mother slid the newspaper over to me. I glanced at the top headline and my jaw dropped.
'Crater Lake High School Collapses into Sink Hole'
"What the fuck?" I asked absently as the nightmare of the man standing outside of the school with his arms up flashed through my mind. I turned and looked at my mother in disbelief. "Is this what caused the earthquake?"
My mother nodded gravely.
"The world is in danger, Elijah."
"What about the girl?" I asked. "The one that keeps appearing in my dreams. She was even there last night, mom."
My mother frowned.
"You'll meet your Mentor when the time is right, Elijah." She replied.
"Should I be worried about the buzzing sensation?"
"Absolutely not, son." My mother said. "That's just your body getting used to your powers all over again."
The blonde-haired woman reached out and patted the back of my hand.
"It will probably be the last memory that you get back, Elijah." My mother told me. "You have no idea what you are going to be capable of doing once you learn how to use all of your powers."
I jumped slightly when the backdoor suddenly opened and Elliott came running into the kitchen with Aunt Madison right behind him. Elliott's smile broadened the moment he saw I was awake, and he practically leapt into my arms.
"Happy Birthday, Eli!" Elliott exclaimed happily before he kissed my cheek and slipped away from me to hug our mom. As she picked him up, Elliott proceeded to tell her everything he had saw at on the way to the store with our aunt.
"Happy Birthday, Elijah." Aunt Madison said softly as she stopped behind me and kissed my cheek.
"Thanks, Aunt Mattie." I said shyly. "Sorry for being such an ass."
"You're forgiven for now, little one." She replied as she ruffled my hair with a smile. "Let's not make it a habit, though."
"Yes, ma'am." I said meekly.
"Put on some shoes and grab a jacket when you're done eating, Eli." My mother instructed. "There are some people that I would like you to meet."
"It's the beginning of summer, mom." I pointed out. "There's no where around here that could even remotely be cold enough for a jacket."
"I never said it was someplace around here, did I?"
I frowned at her words.
"No, I guess you didn't." I replied with a giggle before I went and did as she said.
When I got back downstairs, Brayden was standing in the kitchen with a jacket across his arms and his mother was standing over by the sink talking to my mother and aunt.
"Hey," I said shyly as Brayden smiled at me.
"You were gone when I woke up," I said.
"I know," he replied. "I was in my own bed when I woke up. I don't even know how I got home, Eli."
"I missed you," I told him quietly.
Brayden took a step towards me and slipped his hand into my own.
"I missed you, too, Eli."
I felt myself blush as Brayden squeezed my hand in his own, and I glanced over to see my aunt smiling at us.
"Are you coming with us, Natalie?"
"Not this time, Salena." Natalie replied with a shrug. "The hospital is running short staffed today, so I am going to pick up a few more hours in the ER. We've started sending casualties from the earthquake to other hospitals due to the overload."
I frowned as the memory of Brayden falling from the rollercoaster flashed through my mind again.
"Hey," Brayden said softly as he pulled me into his arms. "It wasn't your fault, Eli. You saved my life."
I glanced up to see the worry filling his golden-brown eyes. Instead of saying anything else, Brayden suddenly pressed his lips against mine, and I felt everything disappear around us. The sound of Elliott giggling madly brought me back to the present, and I pulled away from Brayden long enough to see everybody looking at us with dopey smiles on their faces.
"I wish I didn't have to work today," Natalie offered with a sigh before she hugged my mother and aunt. "I'll stop by tonight to see how everything went. Behave, Brayden!"
"I will, mom." Brayden said with a small smile.
"Are you going to be okay watching Elliott?" I heard my mom ask Aunt Mattie as I turned my attention back to Brayden. He was smiling at me, and I couldn't stop myself from smiling back at him. I felt the buzzing sensation increase throughout my body, and I could see a blue glow starting to show on Brayden's face.
"Mom?" I said in a worried tone as the buzzing continued to increase along with the blue light.
"Relax, Eli." My mother said from across the room. "You're letting your emotions get out of control."
I closed my eyes and took several deep breaths as I forced myself to relax. Once I felt like I was in control again, I opened my eyes to find my mother and Brayden both watching me with worry in their eyes.
"Better?" Brayden asked curiously.
"Much," I replied.
"Good," my mother said with a grin. "Let's get going."
She took my free hand and held out her other hand to Brayden.
"Now," my mother began with a short smile. "When we get there, you're both going to be full of questions. All I ask is that you wait until we get back before you begin asking them. Okay?"
Brayden and I glanced at each other before we nodded in acknowledgement to my mother.
"Whatever you say, Salena." Brayden said with a nervous tremor to his voice.
"Relax, boys." I felt my mother squeeze my hand reassuringly. "There's nothing even remotely dangerous about where we are going. . . "
Without any warning, the world suddenly pulled in around us in a flash of bright color before I found myself standing in the center of an ivory colored hall. My stomach immediately twisted, and I fell to my knees as I tried to keep myself from vomiting.
"You're much better at it than Eli is, Salena." I heard Brayden compliment my mother.
"I've had more practice, Brayden." My mother said with a chuckle before I felt Brayden start rubbing my back gently.
"Just breathe through it, Elijah." Brayden whispered softly. "It was a lot worse for me the first time you did it."
"I was a little kid then," I gasped out between clinched teeth. "I've only ever reacted to something and teleported myself. I've never planned it out before."
I took a few more breaths before I finally managed to rise to my feet with the help of Brayden. I glanced at him with a look of betrayal on my face.
"Why don't you feel like shit?" I demanded.
"I close my eyes," he said with a shrug.
Brayden nodded in response. I frowned and turned to face my mother. Behind her there was a massive statue of a man in robes holding a large staff. The statue was made of solid marble, but the minute details made the rock look like the figure it represented was actually alive. My mother smiled when she saw the look of awe upon my face. There was nothing but a star-filled night sky above us in every direction, and it was almost as if I was close enough to reach out and touch the individual stars. Lining the stone walkway that we were standing on were large columns of white stone that looked as though they used to hold up a massive ceiling before it simply vanished one day. The other end of the pathway had a set of gray doors that opened slowly when I looked at them. The next thing I knew, I was standing directly in front of the open doors bathed in an eerie white light. I turned to see my mother and Brayden still standing at the other end of the hallway in front of the statue that continued to watch me. I turned and walked through the doors and found myself in a large room with stone pews leading up to a dais that had six stone chairs sitting on it. Four of the chairs had people sitting in them. One of the men was the one from my visions. The same young man that had sacrificed himself to stop the demons from destroying the world. If only he could have stopped them for good. One man with jet black hair sat in the chair far to the left with a space between him and the others. As soon as he saw me, he rose with disbelief evident in his expression.
"Elijah?" His voice quivered with a hint of excitement as he walked down the four steps from the dais to the floor of the hall. The man's pace picked up as he approached me before he stopped directly in front of me. His blue eyes were filled with happiness, but it hadn't been there long. I could see the sadness hidden behind the happiness. The man touched his hand to my cheek. "I never thought I would see you again."
"Elijah?" I turned to see my mother standing behind me.
"Mom?" I asked in confusion. "What's going on?"
"Elijah, this is your father Nikolas." My mother told me gently. "The Guardian of Destiny."
I turned back to the man to see him smiling at me with tears in his eyes. Then, he pulled me into a tight embrace that I couldn't bring myself to return.
"I was forbidden from seeing you, Eli." He said in a soft voice. "I'm so sorry, son. I never would have left you alone, otherwise."
"Forbidden by whom?" I demanded angrily. I felt abandoned in that short moment. My mother had always told me that she would tell me what happened to my father when the time was right. I had always assumed that he had abandoned us or died and left it at that. I never pressed the issue with my mother to give me true answers. She always found a way to sidestep giving me any other answers when I asked questions. "Who kept you from visiting your son?"
"Destiny, Elijah." My father said sadly. "It would have sentenced you to death long ago if I would have broken the rules of Destiny. I only did what I had to do to protect you, son. I swear on my life."
I nodded hesitantly before I let myself relax in the man's arms. I wasn't ready to call him 'dad', but I was willing to let him into my life if he was willing.
"Come on, there's some people that want to meet you." My father said as he turned and motioned towards the dais. I glanced back to my mother and she nodded her head towards my father with a gentle smile. I hesitated only briefly before I walked beside Nikolas towards the dais. "You have nothing to fear here, Elijah. Now," my father stopped in front of the dais. "Elijah, I'd like you to meet the Summit of Light."
I watched as the three other men stood from their seats and took a step to the front of the dais. Each of them smiled at me as my father introduced them to me.
"The man on the right is Lukas Baker," Nikolas explained. "He was the first Guardian to face the Elementals."
"I've dreamed about him," I said absently as I nodded at the black-haired man.
"I've been waiting a century for this day, Elijah." Lukas said with a slight smile.
The man to his left scoffed and rolled his eyes.
"So, we're leaving the saving of the world to a teenager?" The gray-haired man asked. "Didn't we learn our lesson the first time?"
"Calm yourself, Thomas." The other gray-haired man scolded him. "It's not up to you."
"Elijah," my father continued. "This is the current Leader of the Summit Josiah."
Josiah stepped down from the dais with a smile on his face. His blue eyes were sparkling in the strange light that permeated the air around us. Josiah held out his hand towards me and I nervously accepted it.
"It's an honor, Elijah." Josiah greeted me in a deep voice.
"Thank you, sir."
Thomas scoffed again and shook his head. Josiah's eyes narrowed for a moment as he turned to glare at the other Summit member.
"Thomas, you forget your place." He said shortly. I felt chills on my skin with the subtle warning hidden in his words. Then, the man turned back to me and smiled. "Now, where were we?"
I smiled back at the man.
"I don't even know where I am," I said with a chuckle.
Josiah grinned and clasped me on my shoulder. Then, he gently placed the palms of his hands against the side of my head.
"Relax, Elijah." The Leader of the Summit said calmly. "It's time for me to show you a few things."
"Yes, sir." I replied before I closed my eyes.
The next thing I knew, I was standing in the middle of a desert as two young men dressed in cotton robes stood over two glowing objects.
"What's going on?" I asked the man that was now standing beside me – watching the scene unfold before us. "Where are we?"
"You are about to witness the birth of magic, Elijah." Josiah told me softly as he gazed at his younger self. "This is the beginning of our history. . . "