Raven noticed the sudden flash of pain in Javelin’s eyes and took a step forward, catching him before he hit the ground. Even without sending her spirit essence into him, Raven could tell what was going on by simply looking within herself; Javelin’s soul prism was strengthening at a staggering rate, noticeably paling from its previously vibrant orange to a cold yellow.
‘He’s remembering a lot this time. . . .’ she mused as she felt the changes within him.
The pain was most likely caused by the several spirit connections that were being formed rapidly as Javelin’s soul advanced. It wasn’t comparable to what Raven had experienced as a newborn – both because Javelin’s leap wasn’t anywhere near as large as Raven’s had been and because there simply wasn’t enough spirit essence around to help form the connections – but still. . . .
Raven looked at the unresponsive yet profusely sweating boy in her arms for a few heartbeats before making up her mind. Unceremoniously, she hoisted Javelin over her shoulder and silently darted out of his room.
Outside, Raven swiftly stepped over a black-robed corpse, not bothering to even glance at it. The dead man had coughed up a lot of blood and his now grey-green skin made him look almost alien. He was one of five would-be-assassins, or perhaps kidnappers, who had come for either herself or Javelin.
Unfortunately for them, Raven had been using her spare time to experiment a bit with some of this worlds herbs and had been most happy to finally have someone to try her . . . remedies on; despite being low champions, only the man in front of the door had survived more than five steps after being dosed.
Raven had intended to dispose of the bodies, more out of courtesy to the headmaster than anything else – it wasn’t like she had any actual connection to these people – but now, she couldn’t be bothered. She headed straight for the center of the large Water Dome, where a huge fountain spurted thousands of gallons of water every day. Raven could only think of one place that might have enough spirit essence to help Javelin make the best out of his soul’s leap in strength – the Sea Academy’s secret chamber. The only problem was getting there since it was located right underneath the fountain. . . .
In a seemingly endless darkness Javelin stood in front a dimly lit mirror, watching his own reflection. He wasn’t really sure how he had gotten there since the last thing he remembered was that stabbing pain in his head, but somehow it didn’t seem so important right now.
What was important was the reflection on the mirror in front of him. There was something off about it. Frowning, Javelin tilted his head to the side as he mover in for a closer look, but to his astonishment the mirror image refused to comply. It simply stared back at him with a disengaged and aloof look.
Still shocked, Javelin looked closer only to find his reflection’s features altering, becoming older but less refined.
“Eric?” Javelin wondered, not expecting a reply, but getting one anyway.
“Well deduced, kiddo!” the mirror image replied sarcastically, adding a slow clap for effect. “I guess we can make a rocket scientist out of you yet!”
Javelin closed his eyes and then opened them again, but when he did, Eric had disappeared from within the mirror. Javelin sighed in relief, but it turned out he had taken out the victory in advance.
“What’s with you?” Eric’s voice spoke out right behind Javelin and the latter spun around on the spot, only to find the roughly thirty-year-old man standing behind him. “We haven’t got all day, you know.”
“But . . . but aren’t you dead!?” Javelin retorted, feeling incredibly confused.
“Well, depending on which philosopher you ask, one might argue that I was never alive in the first place,” Eric offered with an inquisitive look, but he then sighed when he saw that Javelin’s confusion was only growing. “You really have a long way to go, kiddo. . . . Yes, I am dead – very much so. What you see before you is only your mind’s psychosomatic reaction to a sudden influx in memories. Basically, I’m here to make sure you don’t go bonkers from all this.”
Javelin didn’t look like he believed the man. “How is that going for you?” he asked, feeling not only a little crazy.
“Fairly good, thank you,” Eric replied, ignoring the sarcasm in Javelin’s voice. “I am going to show you something.”
Eric raised his right hand and snapped his fingers, instantly the darkness around them was lifted and a clinically white and endlessly long hallway appeared around them. Looking both ways, Javelin quickly realized that he recognized the place.
“Welcome to my research facility” said Eric, finally showing some short-lived passion. “Well a version of it anyway. . . .”
“Why. . . ?” Javelin wasn’t sure what question he should start with, but it didn’t matter because Eric cut him off.
“No questions, kiddo – seeing is believing. Come, let me show you around.” Without waiting for Javelin’s reply, Eric started down the corridor. Every now and then he would stop and try the handle of one of the passing doors, only to find it locked.
Javelin slowly followed, feeling apprehensive in so many ways. He carefully inspected the man in front of him. Eric was taller than he had expected – no doubt approaching two meters – which was made even more apparent by his tawny build. His hair was a dull brown and a bit glossy, clearly in need of some attention, and his clothes were neat – fashionable even – yet a bit disheveled.
Looking at him, Javelin couldn’t help but wonder if his instincts about Raven and Eric being romantically involved was perhaps wrong after all.
Suddenly, one of the handles Eric grabbed hold of didn’t resist him and the door actually clicked open.
“Ah, here we go,” he said, managing to sound both pleased and uninterested at the same time. He leaned slightly to the side, taking a look at the label next to the door. “Oh, May 12th, 2079 – good one.” Eric then turned to face Javelin. “Take a look inside, will you,” he said and pushed the door inwards a bit, creating a small opening.
At last, Javelin’s curiosity outdid his apprehension and he stepped forward to peak inside the narrow opening. As soon as he did, the door swung open without aid, giving Javelin a clear view of what was inside. It was nothing like what he had expected.
Instead of a small office, Javelin saw nothing but snow and ice as far as his eyes could see. A cold sun was shining high in the sky, but for some reason, Javelin was certain that it was far from daytime at the moment. In a daze, he watched the frozen landscape for a while and just as he was about to ask what was going on, a red jeep zoomed into view, seemingly coming from behind him.
As the red car flew forward on the hard-packed layer of snow and ice, the view from the door followed along with it. Suddenly, Javelin found himself seated in one of the rear seats of the car. In front of him sat Eric and bodyguard Raven, the latter behind the steering wheel. Javelin’s emotions started to resonate with Eric’s and right away the awkward mood in the car became apparent.
“Miss Night,” Eric said eventually, “are you not going to ask why I wished to go to the northern site in the middle of the night?”
Raven looked over at Eric long enough for the latter to become concerned about her lack of attention to where she was driving the car. “I’m your bodyguard, Professor Solar. No matter where you go, it is my job to follow.” Raven finally shifted her gaze forward again and lightly twisted the steering wheel to avoid a large clump of ice they had been headed straight at. “I don’t ask questions I don’t need the answer to.”
Eric was silent for a while. “But aren’t you curious?”
In the rear-view mirror, Javelin could see a slight smile creeping across Raven’s lips. “Again, Professor Solar, I’m a bodyguard; I leave the curiosity to the researchers, where it does some good.”
“. . . Miss Night, if I didn’t know better, I’d say you’re actually a cat.”
“Oh? How so?”
Once again, Raven took her eyes of the road of ice ahead and Eric kind of regretted saying anything at all.
“Please, miss Night,” he pleaded, “look where you are driving!”
“I will,” she replied, “as soon as you explain your reasoning.”
Without looking forward, Raven veered around another lump of ice, smiling mischievously as she did it. Eric paled.
“You said it yourself, didn’t you?” he blurted out. “Curiosity! It is great for the scientist, not so much for the cat. . . .”
Raven stared, unblinking, at Eric for what felt like aeons before she suddenly burst out laughing.
“Haha, you’re on to something there, Eric – I like it!”
Both Eric and Javelin sat in a daze, mesmerized by the beautiful sound of Raven’s laughter. Both felt like they could listen to it forever, but a firm hand suddenly grabbed Javelin’s shoulder, yanking him backwards. In the next moment, he found himself tumbling out into the unwelcoming white corridor, barely managing to regain control before he would have slammed into the opposite door.
“Hey!” Javelin yelled at the Eric who had pulled him out. “What was that for!?”
“The memory was coming to an end?” Eric said with a shrug, clearly not believing his own words. “Besides, that was a very private memory – it was the first time miss Night called me by my first name. . . . I don’t what you getting too chummy within my memories!”
“I thought they were my memories. . . .”
Eric snorted. “That might be the case eventually, kiddo, but take a look around you. There are thousands of doors here and you don’t have access to even half of them.”
“There are more memories behind the other doors?”
“Of course there are – what do you think the point of this place is?” Eric shook his head as he gestured down the corridor. “Kiddo, there is a lot you need to remember about me, and about Raven Night. Until you’ve unlocked every single door in here you’re only Javelin Hake – the snotty teenage boy who might have some decent skills, but who uses them to put the love of our lives in constant danger!”
The sudden outburst caused Javelin to freeze in his tracks. There was nothing he could say against that.
“What do I do to open more doors?” he asked solemnly.
“Place your hand on the handle, twist downwards and push,” replied Eric sarcastically, clearly unwilling to help. Before Javelin could berate him for it though, Eric continued on his own; “Look, plenty of them are already unlocked, simply waiting for you to accept them. The rest . . . well you will have to wait for those.”
“Why do I have to wait?” Javelin asked, feeling frustrated. “Can’t you just open them up, or something?” He had finally found a way to regain the memories of his past life and didn’t like the notion of have to wait any more.
“Why?” Eric repeated, looking at Javelin as if the latter was an idiot. “Well because even I don’t remember it of course! I’m just a figment of your imagination, remember? I can only work with what you’ve actually recalled, but then repressed again to cope with your situation.”
Javelin clenched and then relaxed his fists a few times, steadying his temper. ‘No point getting mad at yourself,’ he repeated in his mind as he came to terms with the situation.
“Although,” Eric continued, “I must admit that there are a few doors that I’m keeping locked too. . .”
“What!?” With his patience officially gone, Javelin sprung forward to grab Eric but the latter disappeared in a puff of white smoke before he had the chance.
“It’s for your own good,” Eric’s voice echoed through the hall. “Some things are better left forgotten.”
Javelin wanted to yell at him that it wasn’t for Eric to decide what Javelin did, or didn’t remember, but he realized the folly of it all and restrained himself in the end.
“There you go, kiddo.” Javelin couldn’t help but feel that Eric’s voice sounded awfully smug. “Now, start searching for unlocked doors! Who knows how long you’ll manage to stay here. . .”