Justin opened his eyes and saw the ceiling of his room. He was flat on his back in his own bed and he lay there wondering if he had dreamt the events of the night. He remembered being told by Mandara to go home and rest and all would be explained to him the following night. Justin tried to pry more about the girl out of the magician, but Mandara had turned and headed off into the darkness of the cavern. Pectin was unable to provide any more information than what had already transpired, so Justin quietly followed him back to the edge of the city where they parted as friends. Justin slipped quietly into his home, careful not to awaken Cheek, who surely would have interrogated him till dawn. The last thing he recalled was lying on his bed, his head filled with visions of the mystery girl. It was the last image he had before he fell asleep.
It was also the first image he saw as he awoke that morning. He sat up and looked around for the room seemed unusually quiet. Cheek was normally scurrying around preparing to get Justin off to his agriculture classes, but he was no where to be seen. Justin went to Cheek's shelf but the mouse was not there and he started to worry a little, for his tiny friend would never go out without letting him know.
Justin opened the front door and stepped out into the sunshine. A cold breeze mussed his hair and sent him back in for his coat. Just as he reached the coat rack he heard a noise at the door, and hoping it to be Cheek, flung it open only to find no one there, but as he turned to re-enter, he noticed a note stuck into the cracks of the door. He pulled the paper out and took it to a candle on the table to read.
It was from Edan requesting Justin to come meet him in the garden. Edan was the wisest of the Myrah clan and Justin was sure that he would have some answers to his questions.
As Justin made his way down the narrow roadway toward the garden, he felt a strange eeriness in the now unusually deserted town. A sort of strange silence smothered the air and made the skin on Justin's neck tingle.
As he approached the entrance to the garden, he wish that he didn't have to go in alone. He wished he knew where Cheek was since he could have used some words of wisdom right now. He had never been afraid of Edan, but had a great deal of respect for the man and since Edan was very reclusive, he usually communicated only through notes and letters, so very few people had ever came in direct contact with him, and now Justin was going to meet him in the garden of all places.
The sun was almost directly overhead as Justin wrestled with his feelings about all the commotion that had entered his life since the last evening. He wondered why he was becoming involved in the great mystery of the crimson moon amd the beautiful girl, so he figured that he may as well face Edan and hopefully get some answers.
Justin took in a breath and entered the garden and since he had no idea as to where he would find Edan, he figured if he walked around long enough he'd find him, and as Justin turned a corner by a tall hedge, he just about had heart failure for there was Edan standing there on front of him.
"Welcome Justin, I'm glad you're prompt. Come, we have much to discuss." With that he turned toward the center of the garden and hurried away leaving Justin paces behind.
By the time Justin caught up with him, Edan was already seated on a bench by the pond. Justin stood for a few moments befor Edan motioned to him to sit.
"Justin, right now you know nothing of what is happening to you and unfortunately I can not tell you more."
Justin's heart sunk and Edan could see this. "I'm sorry Justin, I am bound by oath not to say anything about the land of Kyr and what awaits you there. I can say that I have been there and have gone through the samething that you will experience."
Justin looked to the old man in surprise, "Edan, you know what is going on with the moon and the girl and yet you can't tell me about it?"
"It seems to me Justin, that I just said that. Please pay closer attention to me, I have a lot of nothing to say before you go to see Mandara."
Embarrassed by his comment, Justin sat in silence as the Elder continued, "I was a young man like yourself when the moon went red and Mandara summoned me to his cavern and issued to me the challenge of Kyr. You are not obligated to accept the challendge, but I told Mandara that I felt you were the one person who could carry out the task."
Now Justin knew why he was involved in the mystery and felt a sense of honor that the Elder had recommended him.
"I have to warn you Justin, this is a very dangerous task and you will be faced with death often. I don't want anything to happen to you because I like you, but if someone doesn't go to Kyr, the rest of the world will surely die, all humans, animals and plants."
Justin felt a chill run through his body thinking that the fate of everything would depend on him. He never really had a lot of confidence in himself when it came to everyday decisions, so this would really put him to the test.
Edan could see the anxiety in the youg man's face and put his arm around his shoulders and said gently, "Justin, I have been there and while it is dangerous, I have every confidence that you will return safely and unharmed so please set your mind to the task ahead of you."
Justin felt a fatherly warmth in the elder's voice and it helped to relieve the tenseness in his body.
"Edan, what is happening?"
"Well Justin, I am allowed to tell you a few details about the origin of the land of Kyr." Edan paused and looked wistfully into the reflecting pond. "It was nine centuries ago when the last two of the great magicians locked in battle over good and evil. The unusual thing about it all was that it was only one magician battling his alter-ego. It was Mandara."
Justin looked in shock at Edan, as he couldn't believe that Mandara was over nine hundred years old.
"Yes Justin, Mandara is now just short of 1200 years old. At one time there were about a hundred or so legitimate magicians an this planet. Most of them discovered that with power comes corruption. Mandara was the leader of a small group that advocated using magic for good purposes throughout the universe. He felt that magicians should be sent out to the backward planets and help the inhabitants there to develop into worthwile civilizations. The corrupt factions wanted to rule these planets and enslave the life forms for their own enjoyment. Mandara tried to stop them from carrying out their plan but he was out voted by the evil faction. So Mandara and a small group of fourteen followers decided to meet in secret and plot to stop them. Unknown to Mandara, one of his followers turned the small group in and on the night they met, the evil group raided the gathering and a battle of magic powers ensued and lasted for hours until only Mandara and the leader of the evil group were left standing. The evil one was named Kyr and he, unfortunately, was Mandara's twin brother. When they were born they were joined together at the head, and after they were separated it seemed that Kyr had retained the evil part of the mind and Mandara the good. Mandara and Kyr had equal magic powers and they could not magically outdo each other. Mandara could not out of goodness kill his brother, so he tricked him and managed to imprison Kyr in a solid block of ice preventing him from moving and sent it to the north land, which at one time was a beautiful forest area. In order to prevent anyone from freeing Kyr, Mandara froze the land and booby trapped the surrounding area with all forms of death and terror." Edan looked out over the pond as though he were recalling something that bothered him.
He continued, "Unknown to Mandara, when the entire group of magicians had been killed, the power that they thought they individually had was diminished. It turned out that they fed off of each other and without the group, Mandara and Kyr had only a small portion of the power left. With Kyr imprisioned Mandara was almost, but not entirely, powerless. Every one hundred years or so Mandara's powers go into a sort of recharging and he can not maintain his hold over Kyr. When the moon glows red it is a sign that Kyr's powers are growing over Mandara's."
Edan paused a moment giving Justin time to ask "If Mandara's powers are weak now, what about Kyr's?"
"Good question Justin, and I'm afraid that no one is really sure whether Kyr's powers are stronger being as he hasn't been able to use them for centuries. The main concern is that he will soon have the opportunity to free himself and possibly wreck havoc on the world."
"But Edan, I thought that without the other magicians around to strenghten him, wouldn't his powers be minor?"
"As a group they were invincible, all powerful. They could move planets and darken suns, so even one of them in proportion would have enough power to make life miserable for everyone and everything on our world. Mandara's powers over the ages have been devoted to holding the land of Kyr in it's frozen state, which is why he hides in the great cavern focusing his attentions to his evil half. Now that Mandara is temporarily weakening, Kyr will have enough time to escape and overpower Mandara which is where you will come in."
Panic tightened in Justin's chest as he realized that he was being asked to prevent a powerful evil from destroying everything he loved.
"Isn't there any to destroy Kyr so he won't be a menace to our world?" inquired Justin hoping to find a way out of a situation that he felt unable to handle.
"Sorry Justin, but the only way a magician can be destroyed is by another magician. Mandara is the last and he will never do bodily harm to his brother. Mandara has agonized over the problem and since no harm can come to Mandara, this situation may go on forever. I've noticed a great strain on him in the last few years." Edan's face became sullen.
Justin was feeling a slight strain on himself but did not want Edan to notice. He was getting very anxious to know what his fate was to be and since Edan was not going to yield any of the gory details, he couldn't wait to visit Mandara again.
Edan returned from his deep thoughts and looked to the noticeably worried boy and smiled. Edan thought back to what seemed lifetimes ago when Doran, the Elder of his youth, tried to comfort him prior to his journey to Kyr. Edan knew what was ahead for Justin but was bound by his oath not to say anything. He knew that only one human, who was unspoiled by evil or corruption and with no knowledge of the deadly dangers ahead would stand a far better chance of getting through safely to Kyr. Mandara had safeguarded Kyr's imprisionment by casting an irreversable spell in which any human having any knowledge of the traps would automatically fail to get through and this included Mandara.
"Justin, I have complete faith in you that you will be able to handle the task given to you. I wish I could say more but I don't want to jeopardize your chances of returning. I won't say that it will be easy because it's not, but I would not have recommended you if I didn't feel that you were the one to succeed." Edan knew that no further words would ease the tension and anxiety in the boy and could think of nothing more to say.
Justin comforted the elder man by replying, "Edan, it is a great honor that you have given me. I will not disappoint you by backing down. I will take this one step at a time and try to think with a clear head. You won't regret your decision to recommend me to Mandara."
The old man felt a new closeness to the boy and put his arm again around Justin's shoulders. The two of them sat there not knowing what more to say, so they spoke to each other with their silence.
After a while Edan announced that it was time that he returned to his duties and wished Justin well. He told Justin to remain a while in the garden and left as quickly and quietly as he had came leaving Justin feeling more alone than he had ever felt before. He sat there sorting the events in his mind when he heard a noise from behind him. Turning, he found the noise to be Pectin. The small boy looked serious and spoke, "Mandara will see you now."
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