Chapter Six: Blood
“Ma, you’re embarrassing me,” Lukas complained as his mother proudly snapped picture after picture of her son.
“You graduated high school!” Sookie protested, still snapping away with her phone. “Your father couldn’t come to commencement, and I want to make sure he gets to see everything!”
Rolling his eyes, Lukas told her, “It’s not a big deal. People graduate every year.” Sookie frowned and put her camera away, and Lukas heard her thinking about how she had never gone to school. “Ma,” Lukas stopped her, “let’s take one more picture.”
Taking off his graduation cap, he placed it on his mother’s head, and then held his own phone out to take a picture of him and Sookie. His mother beamed at him happily, giving her son a strong hug. “I’m so proud of you, Lukas.”
“Thanks, Ma,” He smiled, happy that he could bring a smile to her face.
On their drive home, Sookie could not resist the proud glances she gave her son. Her face was cracked into a wide grin all the way to the house. However, when she pulled into the driveway, her grin faded as a strange aura enveloped her.
“Lukas! Stay in the car!” Sookie told her son as she threw the vehicle into park and jumped out the door. Standing on her lawn was a young man, not much older than her son. “Who are you?” Sookie demanded, quickly realizing she could not hear the intruder’s thoughts.
“Sookie!” Eric came storming out of the front door, and she saw him fumble as he, too, was encased in the unnerving atmosphere. He looked about quickly, finding his wife, and then looking at their unwelcome guest. “Endymion,” he whispered.
“Who?” Sookie demanded.
“Sookie,” Eric ran to his wife, “that is Endymion, the Voice of the Pantheon.”
“What does that mean?” Sookie whispered worriedly.
“He is the embodiment of Divine Intervention,” Eric explained quickly.
“You have a boy in your care,” Endymion declared. His dark, brown curls hung loosely around his chin, his blue eyes sharp as glacial ice. “I have come to retrieve him.”
“The hell you are!” Sookie snarled. She heard the car door opening, and she thrust out with her telekinesis to slam the door shut once more. “You stay away from my son!”
“I could say the same thing,” Endymion claimed. “The boy is mine and I am taking him home.”
“Seventeen years too late, Endymion,” Sookie told him irately. “He is my son, and you are not taking him anywhere!”
“You cannot stop Divine Intervention,” Endymion told her intolerantly.
“And you cannot overrule free will!” Eric snapped, finally finding it in him to join the fight. “It is our son’s choice to go with you.”
“Not in this instance. He is a direct descendent of my bloodline. As his blood father, I may take him at my will,” Endymion stated. “Free will has no power here.”
“Over my dead body,” Sookie growled, and reached into her purse for her sword. As it came forth, it grew to its full length, and the Gatekeeper wielded it menacingly. “Just try and take him, and I’ll take your head!”
“Sookie!” Eric tried to pull her back, but Endymion was already charging for the car.
His wife swung with lightning speed, and gasped when the Voice merely deflected the cut with his bare forearm. The strength with which he deflected the blow sent Sookie stumbling backward, so she pushed out with her telekinesis once more, intent on blowing Endymion apart.
“Fairy weapons and witch magic are nothing!” Endymion roared, flinging his arms outward and dispelling her magic, sending Sookie sailing into the front of the house, through a window.
Frozen by the knowledge that there was nothing he could do to stop the Voice, Eric’s body finally snapped into action when his wife screamed, “STOP HIM!” Paternal instinct outweighed common sense. Love for his son erased any preconceived notion that Endymion was invincible.
Snarling under his breath, Eric lunged for Endymion, only to be thrown into the stone fence, causing it to crumble.
“Vampire strength? You know better than that, Northman!” Endymion sneered while he was now reaching for the door.
“YOU CAN’T HAVE HIM!” Sookie screamed and she propelled herself from the window, wielding her sword once more. Endymion turned, and Sookie was suddenly suspended. She found her arms twisting inward against her will, the point of her saber pressed into her chest. She was frozen in midair, her chest blossoming with blood, a warning to pull away.
“Retreat now or impale your heart,” Endymion told her in a firm, low voice.
“I’LL GO!” Lukas cried, pushing open his door. “Take me! Don’t hurt them!”
“Lukas!” Eric cried, attempting one last rush, and finding himself caught at the neck by his worst enemy.
“No, stop!” Lukas pleaded. “I’ll go with him! Don’t die! I’ll go, Endymion! Please, I’ll be the new Voice like you want. Just don’t hurt them!”
“Place your hand on my shoulder, Boy,” Endymion commanded.
“And then you’ll let them go?” Lukas asked desperately.
“And then we will disappear, and all that has happened will be undone,” Endymion assured.
Sniffling, Lukas reached out and placed his hand on Endymion’s shoulder. He looked to his parents beseechingly while he yelled, “It’s not your fault!”
“NO!” his parents cried in unison, but it was a fading, desperate plea, one that echoed in his ears long after they had vanished from Lukas’ sight.
The next thing Lukas saw was a graveyard, and soon, a swirling mist his mother had only ever shown him, once, when he was thirteen-years-old. “That’s Elfyria,” Lukas whispered, “but you didn’t raise any Empyrodite to open it?”
“Divine Intervention does not need Empyrodite to open the Gate,” Endymion explained shortly.
He practically dragged the young man through the Gate, and Lukas did not have time to marvel the beauty and foliage of Elfyria as he was soon teleported into a deep, dark forest. Before him was a wall that became a massive, double door, and several creatures he could not have imagined stood nearby, gazing at him dispassionately, humanoid fawn with furry, caramel hides, and long, narrow faces.
“The Cervine clan,” Endymion told him while he knocked on the large, imposing door that seemed to go nowhere. “Their duty is to protect this Door to Time and Space, and make certain the unworthy never enter.”
Slowly, the door creaked open. Despite its sheer size, taller than his parents’ house and just as wide, the door only opened far enough for them to squeeze through before echoing closed once more. A cold, dark mist swirled at Lukas’ feet, and the young man could hear a sound far into the shadows, the sound of an angry battle cry. Lukas cringed from the noise.
“The Titan Chronus dwells in this sacred space,” Endymion told him, his eyes harsh and uncompromising, “banished to its darkness and oblivion for manipulating Time and Space for his own enjoyment.”
Lukas looked up in confusion as Endymion nodded to a creature that looked identical to the Cervine, except her coat was an inky black. He had seen such a creature… In a dream… Long ago.
“Oceanus,” Endymion nodded. “To my Lookout.”
Oceanus raised a long staff in the shape of a key and tapped it against the closed door through which they had just entered. When it inched open once more, Lukas did not know where he was. The Cervine were there, but the world itself seemed bleak, nothing like the Elfyria from where they had entered the Door.
Before Lukas could figure out where he was, Endymion teleported them again, and they were in a world where everything was white, the floors, the buildings, even the sky. It was as if he was standing in the middle of a cloud.
“This is where I leave you, Boy,” Endymion told him.
“You will learn quickly. Your guide will train you,” Endymion told him.
“Where are you going?”
To die, Endymion thought, but he said nothing as he vanished for the final time.
“Endymion?” a sweet voice called.
“Uh, Lukas,” the young man introduced, turning to find a young, beautiful woman standing before him. Her hair was waist length and blonde. Her eyes were a luminescent blue, and her ears pointed toward her crown. Large, white wings framed her slight body, and she seemed like a warm, beautiful angel, “A-are you the guide?”
“Yes,” She smiled sadly. “I will be the one who takes you to the Chamber of Worlds. It is how all new Endymions discover the origins of all things. It is where you will learn about all the worlds you govern, where their timelines currently lie, what event horizons are destined to befall them, and how to take action when needed.”
“Will I ever see my mom and dad again?” he asked sadly.
“Not for a very long time, Endymion, but your father gave you a very precious gift,” the woman offered. “He brought you to be trained in a dimension apart from your home world. That means, when you are allowed to return, you can do so without much time having elapsed for your parents. You will be able to comfort them and let them know that you are well and happy.”
“Will I be happy?” Lukas asked sadly.
“Oh, yes, Endymion!” she assured. “You will know a love like no other! Every living and unliving creature will be child to you! Their pain is yours, their success is yours… You will take pride in all that they achieve!”
“I want my ma,” Lukas whispered.
“I know, sweet boy,” she soothed.
“I wish my dad was here, too,” he went on.
“Your father tried to give you as much time with them as he could, Endymion,” she told him. “However, another of his dimensions is about to be devoured by the Beasts of Despair.”
“Garm and Fenrir?” Lukas asked, having heard those names in Endymion’s head while they had traveled to the Door. The woman nodded. “What are you?”
“I am an Angel,” she told him sweetly.
“What do I call you?”
Smiling sweetly, she answered, “Adairia.”