19. Savior

I was very nervous as we reached the front door and Melnor carefully opened it. The guards jumped to attention and stared into the candlelit anteroom, looking right through us. Melnor tugged at my sleeve and somehow we slipped past them as they peered right through us.

The crocodiles were not so easily fooled as we crossed the bridge over the moat. They smiled and waved and finished the tap dance they hadn't been able to perform when the Duke was watching. I wanted to clap for joy as they disappeared under a bridge, but Melnor, thankfully placed his hands on mine, and without a word told me we had to hurry.

We scaled the outer wall and leaped right over the guards that were standing watch. They didn't even blink. Melnor broke out into a trot and I obediently followed. Several hundred yards away, hidden in the brush, two horses waited patiently for us. Then we sailed like the wind, roaring into the night.

We didn't slow down at all until we turned a bend in the road and I saw within the woods, a flicker of light. We left the road and headed through the brush and the brambles, and the lights grew thicker and brighter. We stopped in a clearing where a hundred sat in a circle with torches in their hands, listening carefully as their leader stood on a stump in the middle, filling their hearts with courage and purpose. "We must rescue our Queen and defend the kingdom against the Beast. Together we shall bring her Highness victory. Righteousness shall prevail!"

The crowd cheered. The air was filled with electricity and excitement. My own heart was pounding as the leader's voice drifted quietly in the night. Instantly I recognized that wondrous voice.

Then they sensed us watching in the night. The assemblage suddenly grew quiet and my pounding heart was deafening in my ears. They turned towards us as we approached, and they all jumped to their feet, and their hands wavered on their swords. But I suddenly realized, the way they stared at the trees around us, that they couldn't see us at all.

I watched Melnor pull back his hood as he dismounted, and the fear and fire dimmed in their eyes and welcoming warmth washed over them.

The circle opened up and their leader laughed a greeting, "Welcome, Melnor."

My heart was pounding so hard they all heard it and stared at the invisible space where I stood. I pulled back my own hood, and unable to control my joy I leaped from my horse and ran into the light with my arms outstretched towards their leader, laughing, "Maya...Maya..."

Immediately a hundred swords were drawn, and the circle closed. They raised their swords to stop me, but I would let nothing keep me from Maya. Nothing! Those that tried to stop me were tossed aside like leaves in the wind, and I stood before Maya.

"Captain Rogetto, my lord," she gasped, and bowed low before me, refusing to look at my face.

"Maya, look at me," I gasped, reaching down to touch her cheek, unable to ignore the silence of the hundred others who bowed down around me. "It's me, Ward...What's going on, Maya?" I sighed as her eyes stared up at me with fear and uncertainty, and her body trembled at my touch.

She opened her mouth to speak, but she never got the chance. An icy blue light fell down upon us all, and before the moment was frozen in time, I saw a tear fall down Maya's cheek. "Oh father," she moaned as she turned and looked over her shoulder. "Leave them be."

My body was frozen in space. My heart had stopped. My brain was no longer functioning. But part of me was able to see that everyone, except for Maya, stood frozen in the blue light that hovered over the clearing. She stood up on the tree stump and yelled at the light, "Why, father!" she demanded.

I watched as the Wizard appeared, fading into view. "Go home, daughter!" he commanded.

"But they wanted the courage to face the Beast. I gave it to them. They could have..."

"Could have what? Given up their lives for nothing? They cannot stop the Beast. You and I could not stop the Beast. I'm not certain that even Captain Rogetto could. But Ward can. Now, go home. I'll take care of this."

Maya looked at me quizzically. Slowly the spell that had kept her from seeing who I was began to fade. Her eyes filled with tears and she began to run to me. "Ward," she cried.

But the Wizard waved his hand. "Go home, daughter!" he roared, and she faded into blue. He walked closer to me, and watched me watching him.

"Well, Ward, how nice it is to see you again," he said slowly, cautiously. "Come now, surely you are not bound by time, the simplest of spells?"

I could not answer.

"Cast it off, Ward!" he commanded, and like a clap of thunder his words shook my body and soul.

I started laughing. "Hi, Wizard," I giggled, although I wasn't really sure what I found so amusing.

"That a boy," he laughed back.

"Where's all your flowery language," I sighed as he put his arm around me and we sat down, staring at the expressionless circle of inanimate bodies that surrounded us.

"Oh, that was just to help you Understand there in that timeless, spaceless place we lived once upon a time. A tool to sharpen your wits and prepare you for reality."

"Hmm," I mused. "And Maya is your daughter?"

"In a sense," he conceded, but he would say no more.

"Now, Ward, we must concentrate on the situation here at hand. He lay back on the ground and stared up into the starry sky. I did the same and marveled once again at the beauty of forever, while I listened to the silence.

"How can I help you to stop the Beast?" I blurted suddenly. "I remember that you tried to teach me, in that other place where I had been with Maya. That place of dreams and possibilities. Now that I remember you and then, I understand why I seem to have a Power. But I surely am not trained enough to be able to save the Kingdom."

The Wizard laughed, uncontrollably. I sat up and stared at him. "Oh, Ward, Ward. You still don't know, do you?"

"Know what?"

"I did not teach you anything," the Wizard whispered. "You taught me Power. You Ward, you are the Power!"

I stared at him. He held my gaze for a moment, but then he had to look away. I opened my mouth to protest, but I didn't know what to say. I lay back in the grass and stared up at the twinkling sky and tried to feel what it felt to be Power.



©: 1992-2015 Robert Alan Silverstein

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