Whether I really intended to go and listen to Ethan tell faerie tales that night or not, he’d definitely gotten my attention. I knew so little about myself it was embarrassing – I don’t even know my proper name. Gray is just what everyone calls me on account of my eyes. “I’ve never seen eyes quite like yours!” they marveled. Come to think of it, neither had I – until just now, that is.
What the hell was going on here? I had seen Ethan every day for what I guessed to be about ten years and I could swear his eyes were brown.
My eyes quickly shot back to Ethan’s and they were…they were brown. Not a trace of the pale gray shimmer I had just witnessed remained. Am I going crazy?
Let’s see: hearing voices in my head that no one else can hear, check. Imagining things that aren’t really there, check.
Krista’s voice suddenly broke through, “Gray, is everything alright?”
“Ahhhh!!!” I jumped back about a foot, startled by her interruption.
“Sorry, Krista! I just thought I saw something strange, but…” I paused momentarily to convince myself. “…it’s nothing.”
Pull it together, Gray.
I steadied myself and looked back over at Ethan. His expression was mixed, seeming both unsurprised and genuinely amused at my little episode.
Well, I’m glad SOMEONE finds this entertaining!
Whatever was going on, it wasn’t normal, but I shrugged it off as best I could and returned to the present.
I scanned around the cavern anxiously, being, in my present state, even more wary of the strange behavior exhibited by the Guard. More than once since we’d arrived, I’d seen them hurry back and forth, speaking in hushed voices and glancing in my direction.
The atmosphere seemed to gradually thicken around me, and just then, back at the entrance, I observed two Guardsmen running headlong toward Jonas. They looked out of breath and rather unnerved as they relayed what I could only assume was very urgent news.
Jonas’ eyes widened as he listened to the report, his face draining of what little color it had left. His gaze shot hastily over to me, his mouth hanging wide with a look of dawning comprehension, and then turned back toward the cavern entrance, his manner suddenly somber, resigned. He closed his eyes just as a willowy cloaked figure emerged.
The figure strode across the room with unsettling grace. His robes, black as the deepest recess of the mines, billowed behind him ominously as he made a line directly for Jonas. As he swept past, I caught a peculiar emblem emblazoned across his chest – a large black flame outlined in purple. The shape seemed vaguely familiar to me, but its hue was unmistakable – Darkstone.
The figure cast a deliberate glance in my direction and I saw his face: cold black eyes set into a chiseled mask of pale stone. His ashen skin glowed with a dull purple aura.
My body cringed instinctively like a wild animal sensing a nearby predator, and in seconds, I was writhing. Thoughts of bitter hatred flooded my mind. My body was rigid, eager to commence with revenge my conscious persona had long since forgotten. I felt that, at any moment, my restraint would finally fail, plunging me down a path from which there was no return.
I felt the touch of Krista’s hands on my own and in an instant, my anger had passed. I was amazed at how much peace her simple touch afforded – like she was somehow able to lend a portion of her grace through her exquisite fingertips.
A wave of powerful emotion washed over me. I took her delicate hands in mine and looked down at them in awe, considering the value of what I now held – how little I deserved her.
I struggled to suppress the tears welling up in my pale gray eyes, but one escaped. It rolled down my rough cheek, hurrying in its course to betray me until it fell from my chin onto her wrist.
She flushed a brilliant crimson and her head rose gently to meet my unworthy gaze. Her eyes were emerald fire, glittering with flecks of teal in the lamplight. Her expression was fathomless.
The edges of the world blurred all around and I saw only her. Her dark brown hair shone amidst the cavern’s glow, gently cascading down her shoulders. Her skin was the softest pale pink, accented with deeper red below her elegant cheekbones. Her brow was wrinkled just slightly, full of concern and adoration. I followed its line down the curve of her perfect nose to her lips, supple and inviting, full of color – my gaze lingered too long there. Then, they parted with painful delicacy as if to speak…
The sound of my name was intoxicating in her sweetest whisper.
“He won’t harm you – I’ve seen it.”
My eyes widened in astonishment. How could she know what the future held for me? I tried to speak, but I was powerless, lost in her eyes.
“Every night for the last week, I’ve dreamt of you. I see you surrounded in a brilliant white light, rising out of the mines into the world above…Gray, I think you’re going to free us from this place!”
Now I had to speak up. “Krista! Do you realize what you’re saying?! This is crazy!”
“No! Listen to me!” she pleaded. “When I first had the dream, I thought it was just because of the way I see you – you’re my protector. Ever since we first met, you’ve tried to protect me no matter what it cost you, but earlier in the corridor, when Jonas came at me, you actually stopped him – no one has ever been able to stop him! Gray, he must be twice your size, and you’re bigger than everyone else here!”
“I can’t explain it but, when he reached for me, I saw your eyes flash with light, and then you threw him – it must have been six feet back – to the far wall! The Guard are running around in a panic, staying as far away from you, and even me, as they can. Jonas looking like he’s seen a ghost, and now this hooded guy shows up – Jonas is scared of you! They all are!”
I was stunned speechless. There were a million things I wanted to say but all I could do was marvel at her.
“I think we should talk to Ethan tonight, Gray. He knows lots of things, and the way he looked at you a few minutes ago, I think he may know something about you too.”
“Oh, and your eyes are still glowing. I noticed that it seems to happen when you get really emotional, so you might want to calm down.” She flashed a playful smirk and set my hands at my sides.
I was frozen, my mouth wide with an incredulous look on my face. As far-fetched as Krista’s theory sounded, it actually made sense – well, except for the bit about me saving everyone: that was a little hard to swallow, but when did my eyes start glowing anyway? What did it mean? I needed answers and I felt confident that, tonight, I would have them.
I tore my gaze from her face just in time to see the hooded figure leading Jonas, shackled and bound, away from the dig site, across the bridge and into the shadows.