She could only stare helplessly as it began. Nothing more. Nothing less. Helpless. That’s what she was. Unable to do anything but watch with the agonizing pain of knowing. Knowing as the events unfolded before her eyes in slow motion of what was happening. She knew what it meant. Time moved in an achingly lethargic manner and only for her. And she, she was there, frozen in horror, yet couldn’t avert her eyes in the slightest. History repeated itself just for her. It was the same as the last time, when she had known nothing. This was worse, this time she knew her limits. This time she knew what was happening, wasn’t confused, like before. No, she knew, and she could do nothing. She knew and was powerless. She knew and it killed her.
Her already panicking, already erratic, already unfocused mind sped up as her surroundings seemed to have slowed. Images, feelings, memories, all rushed back to Tawny, reminded Tawny of the not so distant past occurring in her currently chaotic present…
“Here, I want you to have this.” A friend of hers had said softly.
Despite the fact it hadn’t been long ago, it was a different time then. A time before shadows had come to claim most of the lands. Before death, decay, darkness had become a daily occurrence in their beautiful home lands of Fylgiar. A threat definitely loomed beyond an innocent horizon, she sensed it long before, had been preparing with her companions. But for the moment, she enjoyed the peace before the inevitable shattering of it was to come.
She stared up at him; his hands beheld a small box, gesturing for her to take it. A gift for her. Tawny let a small smile emerge upon her too youthful face.
“You’re too sweet.”
“So accept it.”
“But you shouldn’t have.”
“Come on, please, just open it.”
The smile she held only grew as she nodded. Her hands grasped the box gently, and removed the lid as her gaze shifted to what was within. Jewelry. She beamed as she removed the necklace from the box. It was a simple design, a simple gift. Yet, it fit her own taste so perfectly. A simple ball chain of silver, and hanging from it was a lovely and delicately carved amulet. The amulet upon the necklace was shaped like that of the crescent moon with a small star at the very tip of it. She always loved the moons of nightfall, the crescent one the most. She saw them as the only light in an otherwise serene darkness. Tawny stared up at him as he wrapped her within a sweet embrace.
“Thank you…I…I love it.” She whispered softly against him, unable to express much more. She knew he got the gist of her meaning, how much the small gift had meant to her.
“I charmed it, a powerful incantation; most of my energy was put into it, for a spell of protection to always encircle the amulet. It’ll keep you safe Tawny…”
She was stunned, the man before her needed all his spiritual energy that he could gather. Yet he wasted some just for her. Why? “I’m the last one to need of any protection” Was what she said, even though the gesture itself truly touched her, despite how foolish it was. She pulled away from him slowly.
“It’s that thinking of yours that inspired it.”
“It’s the truth.”
“And now you are reminding me just how much you do need it Tawny.”
“You are so stubborn.”
He reached out towards her, and a hand soon met her face with a gentle touch. His thumb ran smoothly along her forehead, tucked away a couple of stray auburn curls. His eyes stared deeply into her own. “No, just correct.”
“I’m the one who is a protector, not to be protected. I-”
That was when it begun. The winds, the noise. It was all the same…
… As it was now. The noise only grew, made her eardrums pop in a painful attempt to adjust. Nick’s screeching voice soon joined in to blend within into as mockingly haunting melody. Her attention was finally refocused upon the current time rather than the past. The past couldn’t be changed, at least not within her realm of power. The present however might. His screams only became louder, and far more shrill. The pain was crystal clear within his fear drenched wails. The light that was consuming him, an impure, dark tinged, shadow-aura filled light, is what she sensed to be the link to it all. It was blinding if she looked upon it directly as it danced upon him, the most concentrated spot being from the mark he bore. Destined for him. Searing hot flashes traveled over Nick’s body. Blazed with pain. He reached for her, grabbed the young woman’s hands instinctually.
Tawny’s grip grew tighter as the events happened so quickly. Such a change from when it felt so slow before. Her other hand gripped her necklace, her mind crying for a prayer as she focused all of her own spiritual energy upon him. She tapped into the wells of her power, trying to keep him safe within her world. Safe with her, where she knew he was meant to be now. She gathered her energy and kept feeding it to him to fight against something she knew deep down she couldn’t possibly stop. Yet, she refused to stop struggling. She had only stared helplessly before. This time, she could know she tried to at least do something. She wished to save him.
The surroundings meshed together in a confusing and troubling blur about him. A pulling sensation attacked his body as the burning feelings from before only became enhanced. It was a tug a war upon him. Both ends seemed to be rooted upon opposite ends, fighting for him in ways unseen to his own eyes. He feared eventually his body would no longer would take it and he would be pulled in tow. As this only enlarged, grew, consumed, Nick was possessed by this. He could no longer see, no longer feel, no longer think about anything but the agony that stabbed him with every essence of his being, every part of his soul.
“Tawny…” He managed to whisper into her range of hearing, above all the noise, despite all the chaos. His blue eyes pleaded for her to rescue him from his current hell state. She felt the energy around him, the consumption. His grip only grew tighter. It was within that moment where she stared into his gaze, and their souls connected. It was within that moment that the light exploded before her. Suddenly she no longer felt his hand within her own. Suddenly the cot he had laid upon was now unoccupied. His body dissolved into nothing but speckles of light before her. They surrounded her, as if an embrace before fading as quickly as they came.
Nickolas Gene Carter had left her life once more.
“Nick…” She murmured. A solitary tear was all she allowed to fall upon her cheek. “Nick…why?”
The four had been standing around Nick’s bed at that time. Now was the time for them to return. To exit the vessels they had entered years before. Time for them to become their true selves again. They had to rejoin the young one and finish what had begun. All the struggles, the fights, the losses it was time to go back to that, to save their home. Now was the moment to bring a pure light, a pure life back to the land of Fylgiar. The door to the hospital room was bound shut by a simple spell to avoid interruptions from anyone. This had to be precise, they lacked one and the power as a result was lesser than it had been when they had first done this ritual.
That was when it caught their attention. The mark, the tattoo that truly was much more, the one of the blazing sun as a sun of life, purity, and hope, was suddenly emanating a midnight blue-black glow that soon covered his entire body. Such a thing was of black magic, tainted, and should not be upon him.
AJ, as such was his personality, was the first to react. “Shit!”
The eldest of them moved to enchant a spell, something against the light spreading. Howie immediately shifted to do the same. The two began chanting in low voices. Each doing a spell unique to them, to protect the youngest of them. Brian however was almost panicking. Wrong. This was wrong. Impossible. Nick had crossed over, and once done, this event should’ve been impossible. He heard AJ’s voice join the others. This was happening and it was wrong. The five, they were supposed to know all. They were supposed to be gifted, and to see. Yet one was missing, which had been out of their vision. Nothing was going as it should have. Brian realized the truth of it all then.
They knew nothing.
The machines hooked into Nick began to react madly. One was recording the leaps and bounds in brain activity that only showed to Brian, Nick’s struggle against it all. His prayers soon entered the groups’ yet he felt that they couldn’t change fate if something was truly meant to be. If Nick was meant to die, he would, no matter how they fought it again and again. All were bound to fate.
One could change destiny, who they were meant to be; one could not change fate, what they were meant to do.
Banging upon the still sealed doors followed the machine’s alarms as doctors tried to get in. But they couldn’t. Not yet. No one could be allowed to witness this outside of those already in the room. The shadowy light burst into a firework explosion of lights before them, before fading out of existence. And there was Nick, who looked unharmed. Who was still alive. For that, all four of the guardians gave their prayers of thanks to those beyond.
He sat up in a jolt. A pair of impish sapphire eyes snapped open in shock as he desperate gasped for air. He coughed violently as his lungs took in oxygen eagerly, hungrily. If they hadn’t known better, they would have believed Nick was drowning by the way he kept gasping for the air he so blatantly needed.
Kevin embraced him first. He couldn’t be more thankful to see him survive that ordeal. He wished he knew what truly caused it. He had a hunch however, and feared to tell the others. To anyone else it would look like an embrace of joy for Nick finally being conscious once more. But Brian, he knew it was relief Nick was still alive. No one had seen that coming. That was what frightened him.
Nick’s breathing began to even out finally and Kevin ruffled his air like he would normally. He had no clue what Nick knew. So for the moment he had to act like he always did, an overprotective brother figure that was in a boy band with him.
Brian forced a smile, wanting to calm him. He felt the fear radiating from Nick as Howie finally released the seal on the door. The doctors rushed in as Brian hugged the young one.
“Welcome back Nick.”
The doctors had left. They didn’t have a clue. That didn’t surprise him. No one would. Everything felt different. He could hear energy, crackle, pop, and dance in the air around him. He could feel something different rushing through him, stronger than the “gifts” he had always hidden from the world. The doctors told him he had been in a coma for a bit over two weeks. That made no sense. He had been gone for two days, maybe three. He wasn’t sure, but it wasn’t two weeks.
He knew if he told anyone, he would sound crazy. They would say it was a dream caused by his supposed coma. Nick only wondered what had happened. Why had he come back? It didn’t feel like before, this felt forced, dragged, forcefully bound to the place he always called home. His family had rushed to him once hearing the news of him having been awake for several hours. It felt at odds; he saw into his family, saw the lies within everything. The only comfort, the only peace he was getting was from Kevin, AJ, Howie, and Brian. Everything else had a falseness to it he could no longer stand. His eyes had been opened and he could no longer close them.
Nick knew then he no longer belonged.