Mnemosunero (Chapter One of Hippocampus)

Royal Palace – Atlantis
      Aerian woke with a gasping breath. Her face, drained of all color, contrasted her sweat matted black hair and gray robes. If her dream was true, something that had been predicted eleven thousand years ago was in progress. She listened to the world around her to figure out if she should believe the dream that woke her. But, being deep in the heart of the palace basement, she didn't hear anything at all.
Dark and dungeon-like, the room was special to her none-the-less. Trinkets and other artifacts, reminiscent of her ancestors, cluttered the room. Her family had served the Atlantean royals since the first record of Atlantean time and it just so happened that some of the artifacts in the very room she now occupied were sixty thousand years old.
      One particular artifact was of interest at that moment. The most important one passed down through the family of sorcerers. The one that could clarify the situation. But she wouldn’t find it in her room so she climbed out of bed and walked to the door.
      A sharp knife tore through her mind like it was flesh and she screamed in agony.
     Aerian. The word came to her like a whisper avoiding her ears and going directly to her brain. A feeling of urgency swept through her, probably transferring from the person trying to get her attention. She needed to find them and figure out what was going on.
     She closed her eyes and searched her thoughts, as she had been trained to do. A few seconds later, she made the connection and found herself lying on the floor under a bed, looking out at smoke. She saw boots; dark, navy blue boots. The silver symbol on the boots verified that the dream was true.
      Aerian forced herself out of the body and looked at the scared face of the blond boy. Dirt covered his smooth features, caked to his face by tears. The bloodshot ocean blue eyes belonged to Prince Maciek, the nine-year-old grandson of the ruling Prince and Princess.
      I'm coming, just stay there. She quickly slipped her boots on under her robes and ran out of the dungeon toward the steps that would lead her up to the palace. Her ancestors had predicted this day would come but none of the royals had listened. Now, at seventeen and with powers not fully developed, she had to save the royal family.
      She climbed the steps cautiously. Voices from above caused her to stop. Closing her eyes, she concentrated on the hallway at the top of the stairs. Three of them were in the hallway, dressed in navy blue outfits, only their eyes left exposed. The silver symbol of a wave on their headpiece represented the Knights of the Abyss, an underground organization determined to take control of Atlantis.
      Founded by individuals with a hatred for the Atlantean kings of the past, the Knights had made it their goal to overthrow a royal family and change the entire structure of the Atlantean government. They had waited for hundreds of years and strategically gained access to the palace and the royal families. The Knights that now threatened the lives of the royal family may have been their guards earlier that afternoon. All of this knowledge had been passed down through the Mnemosunero but, while the sorcerers took it seriously, the royals ignored it.
      The searing pain tore through her mind again. She muffled a scream with her hand. The Knights moved closer, their shadows on the steps in front of her. Thankfully, the curved wall kept her hidden from their view.
      Using her mind, she took control of the flame of a candle on the stone wall. Pulling her arms apart, she forced the flame into a large wave of fire and bolted up the steps, throwing the fire at the Knights. Orange engulfed navy; the Knights screamed in horror. Waving her hands over the air, she hid their screams until all three succumbed to the flames. The smell of burnt cloth and flesh all that remained.
      She breathed heavy, her heart raced, and her head pounded. Mentally and physically exhausted after battling only three Knights, she forced herself to continue.
      Her heart dropped. Maciek's mental waves could not be located. Sadness tore through her as she tried to connect with Maciek's older brother, Prince Sandro, but came up empty. The thoughts of their father, Evander, and their mother, Kyra, could not be located either.
       A crash downstairs interrupted her before she could focus on the last person with whom she wanted to connect. She headed down toward the crash, which sounded like it came from her room. As she approached the door to the room, she heard movement from inside. Two Knights searched through the artifacts on the shelves.
      “Looking for something?” she asked with vengeance as she stepped into the doorway.
      The Knights turned to her and each pulled the sword from the scabbard on their belt. “You don't have to be a sorceress to realize that,” one said in a deep, raspy voice.
      “But lucky for me,” she replied, “I am a sorceress. That would be most unfortunate for you though.”
      “We're interested in a particular member of the royal family,” the Knight with the raspy voice told her. “The one with dark blood. With him in place as King, we’ll control the island.”
      “You'll run our civilization into poverty and depression,” Aerian said.
      “No worse than these rich, selfish royals have done for the last eleven thousand years,” the Knight hissed.
      “Where’s the boy?” the other Knight grew impatient with her.
      “I'm not telling you,” Aerian answered.
      The Knight with the raspy voice ran forward, grabbed and turned her, and, with his back now to the door, placed the sword to her throat. “You will tell us where he is.”
      “If you kill me, you'll never find him.”
      “We'll take that chance,” the Knight standing in front of her said. He nodded his head, giving the one with the raspy voice the permission to kill her.
      Before he could slice her neck, he let out a gasping moan and fell to the floor. Aerian blasted a wave of energy at the one in front of her, forcing him into the wall. A young man ran toward the Knight that lay on the floor against the wall. He stabbed his sword into the Knight's chest, pulled it out, and turned to face her.
    “Jedrick,” she hugged him. “I thought you were dead. I was going to connect with you but was interrupted.”
      His handsome face stained with dirt and blood and his disheveled blond hair showed he had been in a fight. The ocean blue tunic left his upper arms uncovered, revealing a seahorse tattoo on his left arm. His ocean blue eyes stared into her and they kissed.
      “I came for you as soon as I could,” Jedrick told her. His eyes and voice saddened. “The rest of the family is dead. I searched just about every room. They killed my mom, dad and grandparents.”
      “Maciek and Sandro?” asked Aerian.
      His eyes watered. “My cousins are dead.”
      “No,” she cried. Her stomach twisted and her lungs burned.
      “So are all of the servants, who were in the princesses' room.”
      “And the princesses?”
      “All of them are dead,” Jedrick told her.
      Not knowing herself, she looked to him for guidance. “What do we do now?”
      “We get out of the palace and run as far as we can,” he said.
      “I have to get the....”
      “We don't have time. There will be more Knights down here in a matter of minutes. They already eliminated everyone upstairs so they're going to comb the tunnels under the palace to make sure no one escaped. We're next if we don't run now.”
       He grabbed her arm and pulled her out of the room. They ran as fast as they could.
       “Where are we going?”
       “The southeastern forest,” he said.
       Aerian stopped and Jedrick was pulled back as well. “That's too far away. And who knows if the Knights already infiltrated the base.”
       “Where else are we going to go? Now come on!” He pulled her again but she wouldn't move.
      “Jedrick, you're the new ruling Prince. You have to be near so you can run the city.”
      “They're going to kill me if they find me,” he reminded her. “The farther we get from this place, the better. Come on...”
      Before they took five steps, Jedrick fell to the ground and screamed in pain. He searched for the object in the back of his ankle and pulled out a throwing star. One of its points dripped with blood from his ankle.
      Five Knights approached them, swords in hand. “I'll take my star back,” said one of the Knights, reaching for it. Aerian swooped her hands forward and shot a gust of energy at them. It caused them to stumble backwards but didn't knock them over.
      “My body is weak,” she told Jedrick.
      Jedrick made it to his feet, putting all of the pressure on his left, healthy ankle. He pulled the sword from the scabbard on his belt.
      “That's the boy,” said the Knight who asked for the star.
       “Are you sure?” another asked.
      “What do you want?” Jedrick questioned.
      “All we're asking is that you come with us,” the first Knight told him. “We have a proposition for you.”
      “We'll never go with you,” Aerian replied.
       “Don't make this difficult,” the Knight said. “Our leader needs to speak with the Prince. We have no reason to kill you.”
       “You think we believe that?” Jedrick said, grating his teeth. “As long as I'm alive, I'm ruler of Atlantis. You want control of the island so you have to kill me.”
       “We're not trying to take your throne,” the Knight told him. “We're just trying to use it.”
       “Liar! You killed my entire family.” Jedrick attacked, the Knight caught Jedrick's sword with his own and the clanging metal echoed down the stone hall.
       “Don't kill him,” another Knight shouted.
       “Are you sure he's the right...” A bullet of energy hit the Knight square in the forehead and he collapsed to the floor with a thud. Aerian's body relaxed after the spell as the other three Knights turned their attention to her and charged. She ran, their footsteps echoing off the walls behind her.
      One of the Knights caught up to her and pushed her to the ground. She used a wave of energy to push him away and scrambled to her feet. A sword sliced her arm, she screamed with the tearing of flesh, and backed against the wall holding the bleeding wound.
      “Now tell you're boyfriend to come with us,” said the Knight holding the sword dripping with her blood.
      Jedrick hobbled towards them. The Knight he fought now lay on the floor. He stabbed one Knight before he could defend himself and the other two turned to the Prince. They both swiped their swords at Jedrick but he avoided them.
      “It's not him,” one of the Knights said as he blocked Jedrick's sword.
      Aerian ran over and grabbed the sword from the Knight laying on the stone floor. She stabbed one of the two Knights that battled Jedrick and then turned to the last Knight.
      Jedrick's face went blank and he let out a gasp of air. The remaining Knight turned his eyes to hers as he pulled the bloody sword from Jedrick's chest. “It wasn't him,” the Knight hissed evilly as he bore his eyes into Aerian.
      Pain, sorrow, and fear flowed through her as the Knight moved toward her. Clenching her teeth, she gathered up as much strength as she could and shot a bullet of energy at him. The barely visible bullet connected with the Knights' head and he fell.
      Aerian dropped to her knees next to Jedrick. She smiled slightly when he gasped for air, though she knew he wouldn't make it much longer without help. She tore the blue tunic, removing the cloth from his chest. The amount of blood that came from the wound turned her stomach ill.
      She tried to muster up the power to heal him. “Come on!” she cried. He was dying and she didn't even have the power to save him. “I'm sorry!” The last amount of energy had been used to take down the last Knight. “I'm sorry!” Tears poured from her eyes like teeming rain.
      “It's alright,” Jedrick comforted her through gasps of air and moans of pain. “You...have the save...” He struggled to take in enough air to talk. “...Use the plan.” He gasped a few more heavy breaths and his eyes turned lifeless.
      “No!” Aerian laid her head on Jedrick's stomach. The right side of her face soaked in the blood that had poured out of him. She heard his last statement in her head. Use the plan. The perfect idea. If she didn't do it, Jedrick and the rest of the royal family would have died in vain. She sat up. Use the plan.  She kissed Jedrick one last time and then pushed herself to her feet. Her stomach sick; she felt like she could vomit.
      She forced her aching, dirty body to walk down the hallway, only able to move slowly at first, but picking up speed as she went. She had to make it to the river that ran under the palace. It was the best way for her to make it to the destination needed to put the plan in play.
      By the time she approached the river, she jogged at a nice pace. She jumped in the river and let the currents carry her, saving her strength for what was going to have to take place. It took less than a minute to make it to the royal grounds just outside the palace. She caught the bank of the river and pulled herself out.
      The palace walls, like massive sand dunes, hid the murdered bodies of the people she knew and loved. Though not family, they were the closest thing to it she’d ever known. Jedrick's parents had loved her as their own and she loved Jedrick more than she thought she could ever love anyone.
      Her legs bent under her, her face nearly touched the ground, as tears, mixed with the little of Jedrick's blood that remained on her face, dropped to the soil. Not a single royal survived the vicious attack. Jedrick had made it clear that he was the last one alive but now he too was dead. More tears ran from her eyes. If only she hadn't used all her power, she could have saved him.
      Use the plan.
      She couldn't sit and dwell on the tragedy at this point. She had to put the plan in play. She climbed to her feet and walked cautiously toward the temple. The plan had to be activated at the pond right outside the large marble building. Smoke rose out of its roof as she searched the area for Knights.   There were none in sight.
      Aerian knelt in front of the pond and placed her hand in the water. A sensation of losing all memory took over. She stared in the water, which now glowed with a white light. The water reflected the image of the Knight pulling the sword from Jedrick's chest. The image of Jedrick's death faded to her lighting the Knights on fire. Maciek, under his bed, called for her help. The image faded again. She was a young child, stealing food to eat and sleeping on the streets. She met the young, handsome  Jedrick for the first time and he took her to meet his family. The smiles and embraces of acceptance.
       Her mind came back to life, giving her more control over what she saw in the water. She discovered the room with the ancient artifacts that she now occupied. That's when she figured out she was a sorceress and a descendant of a long line of sorcerers.
      She smiled as Jedrick kissed her for the first time. He had been so nervous and she had found herself equally nervous after the fact. She hadn't seen it coming and she didn't know how to respond. Three years later, kissing him like that was so easy but it also meant so much more.
      Now having complete control over the visions in the water, she searched for an ancient memory. One she did not have herself. A fragment of mind given to the Mnemosunero by her ancestor, Aruc. The memory appeared in the water. Aruc cast a silver pendant, diamond shaped with wings on the side and a blue gem on the top triangle, into the unknown.
      Focused on the pendant, she forced her mind to stay with it. She continued moving the memories faster through time until she reached the present. The necklace rested in a box that sat in a dark space. Focusing harder, she hoped the water would show her the person who would next receive the jewel.
      The new prince of Atlantis.