Jem has disappeared and Maus lay dying. How is Roc to continue without his friend or his love. Follow the continuing story of the three souls who have the fate of their world in their young hands.
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Jem stood in stark comparison to her companions. She was small and petite by most standards. At home she was the smallest in he class, not just by height, but by build as well. No matter how much sun she got her complexion always remained pale, her long blond hair emphasizing this fact, even though there was the slightest green hue to her hair. It wasn’t green enough to look like she had been swimming in a chlorinated pool, but it was still there. Her constant companion and best friend Roc was her exact opposite. He was the tallest in their senior class standing almost eight foot tall. He was built big, not heavy, but muscular with broad shoulders. His dark bronze skin made Jem look even paler if possible. Even their personalities were opposite. Roc would analyze everything before deciding on his actions. Jem jumped into action without giving it a second thought. Because of the drastic differences in both looks and character they became known as salt and pepper, nicknames they neither liked nor disliked, they just accepted. Each preferred the nicknames they had given each other. Jem whose full name was Jocelyn Eve Man, and Roc, named Richard Oliver Case were the only ones allowed to use the nicknames that came from their initials. They were constantly together, reinforcing the “Salt and Pepper” nicknames.
Hanging out together that day in October, which both said had a strange feeling in the air, is what landed them together in this very different land. Jem described it as a different reality – a “sister reality.” It didn’t take them long to figure out just how different this reality was. Here Elves, Giants, Dwarfs, Faeries, Dragons and some really evil souls live. The longer Roc and Jem were here the more they understood they belonged here.
Maus, the first new friend they met, was a tall light skinned elf with long, straight blond hair that had the slightest green hew to it. The front of his hair was pulled back into braids that kept the hair out of his eyes. As time passed Jem, Roc and Maus discovered they were the ones prophecy spoke of as being the ones to save the land from an evil soul called Harvester who stole or ‘harvested’ souls and imprisoned them in the dark keep for his own dark purposes. An ancient hidden note refers to them as the ones to save the souls. Phoenix the red dragon, kept hidden an ancient wizard’s staff that only an heir and rightful wizard could wield. Jem is the heir the staff had waited for. It had been hidden from Harvester and his minions who wished to destroy it and the last known wizard in the land. The more Jem held the staff the more magic it ‘taught’ her. Jem knows in her heart that she is the only one who can heal the Northern Forest. Ari, a faerie, was using dark magic for her own purposes tried to blend different species by twisting magic. In using dark magic she accomplished making very destructive beings as well as destroying the Northern Forest and all that dwelled within it. The worst of what she did was to create a portal that allowed Harvester back into the land. Now it was up to Jem, Roc and Maus to heal the damage Ari caused and to find a way to vanquish Harvester for good.
Roc had never felt so alone. He could not do this on his own. Why was everyone leaving him? The pain of loosing his love and his best friend was almost too much to take. Right there in mid stride Roc planted himself on the ground as if he was one of the herbs, sitting with a big sigh.
Roc sat with his legs crossed under him, his elbows resting on his legs and his head in his hands. His big blue eyes shut and he stared at the blank inside of his eyelids. Staring at his soul, spread open for him to see it. It felt like a cloud was settling into his mind. Nothing seemed to make sense anymore. Jem was gone and Maus was drifting away from him. He was alone in a strange world. What business was it of his what happened to these people? Why should he care? He owed them nothing. No one was helping him, why should he do anything for them? This was more than he was prepared to handle. He should just walk away now and leave everyone alone. After all, everyone had left him, why should he not do the same?
Roc remained on the ground in thought. A visible cloud-like mist had settled on him. It was gray, damp, and musty. The longer he sat in thought the more he felt isolated. Everything and everybody he cared for was being taken from him. He could feel things slipping away. He could not remember ever feeling such despair. All Roc wanted to do was lie down and sleep. He wanted to get away from this awful feeling of being alone. Every time the thought of sleep came into his mind, something pushed it away. It felt like he was being kept away from it. A nap, that is all he wanted, just a nap. Was that too much to ask for? Why was he being denied what he needed? This was not right. What was it that was keeping him from his desire? A noise. Something sounded terrified. What was it? Roc had to stop the noise so he could sleep.
It took all the effort he could muster, but Roc opened his eyes, just a slit at first, to see if he could locate the noise. Slowly his eyes became full open. It was Luna. She was making the noise. She reared up on her hind legs pounding the ground with the front ones. Her nostrils were flared and she was covered in sweat. She was letting out a shrill cry. She was frightened of something. What was it? What on Earth could upset her so? Roc gawked at her for a time trying to understand her urgency. She came close to Roc pounding the ground then backed away as if in pain. The big horse did this repeatedly. Roc was confused by her actions. Why was she acting like this? There was nothing here to scare her so.
Roc moved his head from side to side trying to locate the reason for her fear. It was an agonizingly slow process. He felt like he was moving his head against a strong current. There was something desperately trying to keep him from moving. That was absurd. Why would anything want him not to move? The harder he tried moving his head the more force was applied to keeping his head still. Something was absolutely trying to keep him still. He was certain of it now. This was wrong. With the little movement he had made with his head, he could see nothing amiss. With all his strength, Roc picked up his head from his hands. His hands fell with a thump to the ground next to him. Feeling the dirt and leaves that were all around him startled him. That was funny. Roc did not remember sitting on the ground. Yet here he was, on the ground with Luna going crazy just ahead of him. Luna! Something was wrong with Luna. Roc had to help her. He needed to move. There was a force keeping him where he sat. What was going on? He had to recall what he was doing.
Soul searching. That is what he had been doing. It was still there spread out before him. His soul lay bare for him to see. He had been giving up. That is what was going on. How could he give up? His friends depended on him. They needed him. He stared in disbelief. No he was not giving up, rather something else was giving up for him. Something had crept into his soul while he was not watching, something black, and ugly. He could see it sitting in the middle of his soul, laughing at him.
Roc had to stop it. The more the thing laughed at him the angrier he got. Using all his mental strength, he stretched out his arms towards the thing. It was so busy laughing at him it failed to see Roc growing in strength. He reached in with his bare hands, wrapping them around the thing surprising it. He had it by the throat. As Roc stood, the thing was yanked up off its feet. Roc dangled it in front of him. There was a familiarity to it, like Roc had seen it before. They began to wrestle. The black creature in Roc’s hands placed one of its’ hands over Roc’s heart. He fell to his knees almost loosing his grip on the creature in his grasp. It felt like an icy cold blade had pierced his heart. Roc fell to the side taking the creature with him. They rolled toward Luna. The horse shrieked in distress. Roc dropped one of his hands from the creature grabbing for the knife he kept on his belt. Freeing it from its sheath, he brought the knife down slamming it into the creature’s shoulder just missing the neck. The black, monstrous, thing let out a scream so loud the leaves from near by trees shed. Again, they rolled on the ground each trying to gain control over the knife. This time the creature slammed into a large tree. It shuddered. Once more Roc had his knife in his hand and brought it down with such force that it became impaled in the creature’s leg hitting the bone. The creature howled in pain. It tried to pull the knife out but it stuck. Green blood oozed out of the creature’s wounds. The ground was slick with it, an awful stench rose from where ever it lay. Roc had all he could do to keep his stomach still.