Thieve: Chapter 15
Kamber sighed and ran his thick hand through his hair. Rubbing his face as if he had just awoken from a deep slumber, he tucked the letter back into the journal and gently shut the cover on the secrets within. He stroked the cover like a cat before securing it back in his pack and sliding off of Larkin.
He wondered if anyone would ever know what he now understood, or if anyone would understand what he now knew. Kamber toyed with the possibility of throwing the journal out into open space, but there was still the possibility that it could fall into the wrong hands, even in the middle of empty space. The only other possibility was to keep it hidden with him, but Kamber feared that it would not stay secret for long. It seemed as if the stories within these pages were repeating themselves, although he didn’t fully comprehend how much.
Briefly, Kamber wondered what had happened to Jovlin and if she had made it safely back to her home. He had never asked where home was. Of course, it hadn’t mattered then because he didn’t need to concern himself with her, but now Kamber wondered if that was simply the lame excuse he had told himself in his pride. Had he really been unconcerned, or just uncaring?
The view from the train’s window showed only black, pitch black, with only the occasional blur of a star whizzing past in the sky. It reminded Kamber of life, and its brevity. It often seemed as if a life of godliness only flashes momentarily in a world of darkness, before fading into death. However, Kamber knew that there was not one single life of godliness, but a whole host of godly people who shone like stars in the darkness. The darkness could not last for long, and God’s glory would ultimately destroy any remembrance of shadow.
After several minutes, Kamber felt the train begin to slow, shocking him back into awareness of his surroundings. Swiftly, he mounted Larkin, noting that the trip went by much faster than it had seemed when he was a kid. Of course, then he had been sitting in the front of the train, being entertained by the constant and steady clicking of the turning gears. He also had been much more vain, proud, and spoiled. Kamber had learned a lot of things since then, or at least he thought he had.
As he strapped himself to the saddle, Kamber suddenly grabbed Larkin’s neck as the clicking gears stopped without warning and the train began to plunge down through seemingly open space. Of course, it soon became clear that the space they were falling towards was not empty. In fact, it was an entire world. Through the flames that billowed around the free-falling space train, Kamber saw a world of green and blue, and unending land. It was hard to believe that anyone would ever want to leave Earth, especially when the alternative was Arandrei.
Please don’t misunderstand, Kamber loved Arandrei. It was his home, but it was also a world filled with bad memories that haunted him to the present moment. It was because of these memories that he had become The Mask in the first place. Yes, memories can have that effect on people.
Or perhaps it was not the memories of the events, but the events themselves that had scarred him. To go even deeper, Kamber might have even been more affected by the lies than the events that covered them up. His father had never been very open with him, but they had enjoyed some good times together before his father disappeared from everyone’s lives, just long enough for Kamber to find out the truth.
The truth was that Kamber and his family had not been as important to his father as power, and so he had been willing to kill people to keep gaining more. In the end, it worked out for him. Unfortunately, it didn’t earn him the love and respect he had expected. Instead, his family stopped even trying to speak with him, and Kamber had run away.
Nonetheless, Kamber still loved his father for the few lessons he had learned. It would take a little more time to forgive his father fully, but Kamber at least could remember the good times now. The good times when they had laughed together when Kamber had cheated at a game of chess. Or the time when he had put spiders in their room, not realizing they could climb out of the glass container. But the best time was when his father had taken him to visit the collapsed library beneath the castle.
He still remembered the first book he had picked up, The Three Musketeers, and the joy it gave him to read it. Kamber would sit for hours upon hours, curled up in his father’s lap, listening to the sound of his father’s deep voice and held still by the enthralling tale of mystery, adventure, and swordplay. It was his favorite story, and perhaps would have remained the same if he hadn’t grown up into the real world.
The real world which Kamber was now rushing towards, seemingly at the speed of light; and perhaps it was, because the sudden halt accompanied by the screeching of the brakes threw even Larkin from the ground and towards the wall. Fortunately for Kamber, Larkin was very intelligent and fast-thinking. He rolled in mid-air and hit the wall feet-first, so that Kamber’s only pain was that from the force of being thrown against a large dragon with the force of a moving land-train.
It was not until they came to a complete stop that Larkin let go of the wall and slid to the floor. Unfortunately, a large dragon falling to the metal floor after clinging to a wall for a quarter of an hour is not quiet. Also unfortunate was the fact that there happened to be a guard and his dragon marching their direction as soon as the train stopped, and heard the noise from ten cars forward. In fact, the only good thing about the situation was the fact that he was ten cars forward, giving Kamber and Larkin just enough time to make a hurried escape, but not without being noticed.
In a mere second, Larkin had ripped off the door, flown out, and whizzed past the guard-dragon that was about to roast them. Past the first guard, there were others. Larkin dodged up and above the largest one, rolling in the air to send himself back down and out of the next dragon’s way. Three flew straight at them and Larkin confidently lunged between them, ducking and dodging between dragons, while Kamber’s sword hacked at air and kept the guards from tearing into Larkin.
It seemed like a never-ending river of dragons and soldiers suddenly came pouring down on them, attempting to choke out any breath. Kamber wondered why so many guards were needed for one train of supplies on a deserted planet, but pushed the thought aside. He and Larkin ducked, dodged, and weaved throughout the clouds of smoke and dragons. Every now and then, one would manage to get in a bite or a claw at Larkin while the guards nicked and bruised Kamber.
Finally, they made it far enough out that Kamber could see the forest beneath them and a way out. Switching tactics, Larkin suddenly swerved down, under the guards, and into the trees. The trees came at them fast and without end, but Larkin managed to flip and swerve in a fantastical display of prowess, speed, and plain skill. He dodged under branches and through leaves, between trees and above the rocks that grew in the forest.
The speed of light came easily to Larkin, but the dodging was slightly more difficult. While he brilliantly managed to avoid most obstacles, a few occasional twigs bit into Kamber’s skin. However, none of the other dragons had the skill to traverse the forests with such speed and thus fell quickly behind. The ones flying above also lost the trail before long when they could no longer tell what direction Larkin was headed.
Still, they flew on. On and on they flew through the foliage of a distant and unfamiliar world; one which was known to their ancestors as home, freedom, happiness. Yet somehow that peace had ended without any warning. No one truly knew why it had ended, it simply had. Everyone left, everything died, and nothing grew. All hope seemed to be lost. Only a small patch of green lands remained, and it was cultivated by the few humans who had managed to survive on earth.
They were rumored to be retched creatures, these humans trapped on a dead planet. Of course, few had ever even seen them. Known only as the “Hogarths”, the savages who worked the land hid themselves deep in the wilderness, where they could not be found. A few Arandreians lived among the Hogarth people, serving as representatives of the King. These representatives delivered the yearly crops to the Arandreian guards who brought them back to the train to help the Arandreians survive the year.
Kamber and Larkin flew through the day and the forest as the world flew by. They flew onwards into the world of death and darkness. Yet, though the world of death began to engulf them, the death of a world long forsaken to plague and famine did not appear. The trees thinned and disappeared, but life did not. A thick fog began to engulf them, blocking out any life that still existed. If the world had turned to nothingness and they were flying through empty space at that moment, Kamber would not have known because he couldn’t see anything. But Larkin could see, and he saw what no man had laid eye on in many a year. Larkin saw clean, pure, and running water.