It was not the feeling of flying through the air or the thought of falling that terrified Kamber so much. It was not what lay ahead either, but what was far behind. Kamber was frozen in fear at the thought of confronting his family and his past, as he knew he would have to if he continued on his current course. Even more than that, he was frozen in place by the thought of telling everyone who his father really was.
Shivering, Kamber leaned into Larkin, his dragon, and buried his face in the creature’s thick plumage. He felt the beast’s steady breathing and remembered the first time he taken his feet from solid ground for more than a minute. The first time he had felt the sky and the last time he had been innocent.
His parents had told Kamber that, as a hatchling, Larkin had looked ridiculous, with little tufts of feathers and downy coming off of him in every direction. Larkin’s head had been much too big, his wings hung behind him when he waddled around the castle, and his tail had been little more than a stump. Still, only a few months after the day he crawled from his egg, the little dragon was a regal creature, who caused the eight-year-old Kamber to stand in awe as his father had confidently placed a saddle on Larkin’s back for the very first time. Thinking back, Kamber wondered, with some bitterness filling his thoughts, if his father had really been wise when he set his young son on the back of an untrained dragon and sent them both, alone, into the night sky.
Perhaps he had known everything would turn out alright, but Kamber found it hard to forgive his father for a mistake in the past when his many mistakes had been causing people their lives. Still, that ride with Larkin had proved to be wonderful, and it was an evening that Kamber would not soon forget. The moons had been beautiful, twirling through the sky as he had clung to the saddle for his life, fighting Larkin’s frantic attempt to throw the young rider. When he had finally given in to the control of his rider, the dragon had looked back at the child on his back and smiled, happy to finally have a friend.
Now, Larkin was a neglected beast who roamed the sky, demanding the attention of the other dragons, and longing for the attention of his former human friends. His appearance was a glorious reminder of an even glorious creator, but he was sadly neglected. Kamber sighed, whispered directions into Larkin’s ear, and released the straps that held him to the saddle. Pulling his bag up behind him, Kamber leaned back and propped his feet up on the front of the saddle. Glancing up at the darkening sky, Kamber wondered what would lie ahead, and what his past would do to him, when he finally let it catch up.
The first signs of the deep darkness showed on in the middle of the sky. The pink began to steadily turn to red, purple, and finally black that filled the sky with a feeling of emptiness. The moons steadily rose, removing some of the pain from the encroaching darkness and the enveloping sadness. As Kassandar and Bakgav joined, and then became one, their light intensified. It reminded Kamber of him and Kaisten. They had worked together well, been best friends, and had promised to be together for all eternity. What had happened?
As Jovlin slowly drifted into view, separated from the others and lonely, it made Kamber wonder about the girl he had met that day. His copy of the Phantom of the Opera had been sadly lacking in many important pages. Still, he had read enough to understand that the phantom was extremely lonely and had just needed a friend and a Savior. It made him wonder if that might have been the true reason behind Jovlin using the Phantom’s title as her own, whether she realized it or not.
Closing his eyes, Kamber breathed in and remembered the first time he had realized his need for a Savior. Jovlin deserved to know as well, and Kamber planned on telling her as soon as he returned, if he returned. If he lived, he would do anything possible to return to his home and the family he hadn’t spoken to in years.
But would he? Kamber was not sure how his mission would turn out, but saving Kaisten’s life could easily cost him his own. It could cost many people their lives. The prophesy could never come true, but it could also be coming true right at that moment. Why he was going along with a man-made prophecy that might not come true, Kamber did not know. All he knew was that he would never forgive himself if Kaisten was not saved.
As his final destination drew within sight, Kamber urged Larkin to use caution and stealth as they approached the train. If they had timed it right, they would easily be able to make it onto the luggage cart without being seen. If they had not, Kamber had a friend who was, literally, on the inside. He would clear them before anyone knew they were there.
The desert below them had not changed in the entire time they had been travelling above it, but the sky ahead of them held something new. A sleek silver train that stretched for miles across the horizon marked the end of life as Kamber and Larkin knew it. There were few windows to be seen along the great expanse of metal floating in the air. It was bare of any decoration and covered with rust, indicating a lack of care from the King. Resembling a prison cell, this train travelled only through space, only to one destination, and only twice every year. Both departures occurred during the same month. The second was in a few hours, but the first was two days ago. No one knew better than Kamber that the only place to hide a person of royalty was on earth.
As they neared the back end of the train, Kamber stroked Larkin’s feathers and directed him to the front of the train. It was risky to attempt an unnoticed boarding of the cargo train bound for earth, but it was possible. To accomplish this feat, all that Kamber had to do was guess the current position of the guards who checked each section one at a time, and then swiftly fly past them and into a section of the train that had already been checked. Unfortunately, it was nearly impossible to guess the location of the guards without detection since one had to be close enough to be seen to see everything. Still, Kamber had been aboard this train many times before as an official passenger, so he would probably be able to make it alive.
Closing his eyes, Kamber calculated the time until departure, the maximum possible amount of cargo per section, the possible amount of guards, and Larkin’s flying speed. Guessing that the guards would be nearly halfway through the train by now, having started at the back and worked their way towards the front, Kamber made his move. Hanging tightly to Larkin’s neck and pressing himself against Larkin’s back, Kamber pointed towards the second section from the last and gripped Larkin’s sides tightly with his knees. Taking off suddenly and quickly, the dragon leapt into action and carried them like a bullet through the air. It was a matter of moments before they had ripped open the door and flung themselves into the train, closing the door quickly behind them.
Kamber winced at the bag of the closing door and the sound of a dragon’s claws scraping against the floor. Hiding behind a box he held his breath and prayed that no guards would investigate. Either his timing had been perfect or his friend on the inside had helped him out, because no one came. Whichever it was, it had all been because of the grace of God, and Kamber said a quick prayer of thanks as he relaxed and slid to the floor. Against all odds, they had made it.
But it was not yet over. Kamber knew that he still had much to accomplish if he ever hoped to see his home again. Questions filled his mind. Thoughts of abandoning his mission came forward, but were dismissed. He was scared, and he was not afraid to admit it. Still, he knew that he needed to put his fear aside. A life was at stake.
Why was he so afraid to go home? Kamber wondered if it was his father that scared him so much. He also wondered if it was something else. Something or someone else could be behind everything. But who or what could do so much damage to the city. Who could do so much damage to earth?
Suddenly, Kamber remembered the letter. He climbed back onto Larkin and reached into his pack for the journal that he kept with him. The very first entry read “Father gave me this journal today, he told me it holds great secrets and never to lose it.” He had not understood what his father had meant at the time, but over the years Kamber had discovered one of the books many secrets. It was magic. Not the kind of magic where the fairy waves her wand, says “bipity-bopity-boo” and makes things disappear, but the kind that holds secrets for the owner and tells them to the seeker. It came with three rules.
1.Never use for personal gain
2.Always use to help others
3.Think well before using
These rules did not teach Kamber to use it however, his mentor had. Jake was a kind old man who had helped hide Kamber when he had first run away. He had taught Kamber many things about life, and many things about the power of words. In his special journal, Kamber found that his words had the power to make things within the journal disappear, and only appear when they were written out again. It was when he was experimenting with this gift for the first time that Kamber had found the letter.
Now, Kamber lifted his pencil and wrote on the inside cover of the book “Let all who seek, find” and waited. After a short time, the words disappeared and the book gained weight as a thick envelope appeared on top of the journal. Putting the pencil aside, Kamber took the yellowed package in his hands and read again the note under the seal.
If you are reading this, I must offer you congratulations. You have managed to unlock the secrets of your journal with a few simple words. Now I must warn you. You have no doubt already learned of the power of words, and you must know that these words could be some of the most powerful words in the land. There are many secrets in Arandrei, but this is perhaps the greatest. As such, I must ask that you not open this letter until a great danger threatens the royal family. If this should be so, it is up to you to save the day. I hope it never comes. I fear that my time is drawing near, and I do not believe that I will live to see you open this, which is probably for the best. Please, understand that the stories told inside this letter were hidden because we were afraid of the panic that they might cause. Do not be afraid, my son, God will protect you. He has forgiven me, and I hope that one day you might forgive me as well.”