Chapter 10

The next day, Belgrave and Naiya’Nal left Rayoj and headed north along the coast of the Bay of Anamnesis. Along the way, Naiya’Nal took the time to show Belgrave some of the many things in her world. She taught him the different types of plants, the different animals, and even about the sky and the weather. They bypassed Fonu and Gorraf and slept under the stars. In the afternoon of the third day, they arrived at Jun Joon’s hut along the Torudo River.

“Hello,” Belgrave called out as they neared the hut. There was no answer as they walked to the door. “Do you think he’s home?” Belgrave whispered to Naiya’Nal.

“I think he’s home, but I don’t recommend entering his home uninvited,” she replied, remembering the hostile welcome of her previous visit.

Suddenly they heard Jun Joon’s voice. “Belgrave Palafox and Naiya’Nal, you are always welcome in my home.”

They stepped into the shack and saw Jun Joon slouched in his chair. Jun Joon did not move from his chair or even turn his head to look at them. “When Naiya’Nal last stepped through my door, I knew this day would come,” he said. “Two people from two worlds are brought together by a single destiny; two dragons are allied to fight a common enemy. I know why you have come.”

Belgrave wondered how Jun Joon could know so much. “If you already know our questions, do you also have answers?” he asked.

“Today is the twenty-sixth day of the month of Jurdes, exactly one thousand years since the day of my birth,” Jun Joon said. “Before you arrived, an old acquaintance from the days of my youth visited to say farewell since my time in this world is coming to an end. I also learned a great many things from his extensive knowledge of both past and future events. Belgrave Palafox, your primary goal since the day you arrived in my world has been to find a way to return to your own. My acquaintance told me that there are only two beings capable of causing travel between worlds, the Creator of all things, and another known by some as Vygoth. I am sorry that I do not have a better answer for you. In the meantime, you are destined to fulfill three prophecies. You already know the first two of the three prophecies, but I did not tell you the third and you did not ask me about it.”

“What does the third prophecy have to do with me and Naiya’Nal?” Belgrave asked.

Naiya’Nal had been standing silent next to Belgrave, but now she spoke. “Love conquers hate, the end begins,” she muttered. “That is the third prophecy.”

Belgrave was suddenly upset. “I don’t want to love someone just because a prophecy predestines it,” he protested, “especially since it probably wouldn’t last after the prophecies were fulfilled!”

“Believe me, you both made your own decisions,” Jun Joon said. “Making your own choices and following a predestined path are actually nothing more than two perspectives of the same thing, one looking forward, and the other looking backward. I am sure you will understand this better by the time you fulfill the final prophecy.”

Naiya’Nal interrupted him. “If it wasn’t for prophecy, what other reasons would there be to bring us together?”

Jun Joon cleared his throat. “Naiya’Nal, you wonder if love can be real if it exists for the sole purpose of prophecy. Belgrave, you want to know if your love can continue when you leave our world. I believe there is hope for both of you. If love only fulfilled prophecy, it would not be love. If love were to be temporary, it would not be love. No, Belgrave Palafox and Naiya’Nal, true love is not restricted to purpose, but guaranteed to transcend beyond purpose and place.” He paused to catch his breath and then gave a light laugh. “Naiya’Nal, you never had to cheat.” He paused again and took a few gasping breaths. “Together you are one and stronger than all.”

“But how do you know?” Belgrave asked.

There was no answer except for a few wheezing breaths. They could tell Jun Joon was having difficulty breathing and knelt at his side. “He’s dying,” Naiya’Nal announced.

“A lesser to guide, but there is no more guidance to give,” Jun Joon choked between breaths. “My time of rest has come.” The ancient man closed his eyes as he sat in his chair. He took one more deep breath and uttered one final sentence. “Farewell, King Belgrave and Queen Naiya’Nal, saviors of my world.”

Belgrave and Naiya’Nal both had a few tears on their faces. The prophecy had kept Jun Joon, the survivor of Atalan, alive for the sole purpose of uniting them. Now that his purpose was complete, he was gone.

They wrapped the body and placed it outside the shack. Naiya’Nal rummaged through Jun Joon’s possessions. She found a few old manuscripts and placed them in her pack so she could read them at a later time. Belgrave did not take anything. “What do people in your world do with those who have passed away?” he asked.

Naiya’Nal had been digging through the contents of a chest. She dropped the trinkets she was holding back into the chest and looked at him. “Some bodies are burnt and some are buried. I am unable to find anything in here that states his intentions.”

“He deserves more than either of those options,” Belgrave replied. “He deserves to be home in Atalan.”

Naiya’Nal looked at Belgrave. “If he is burnt on that old ship stuck in the river, his ashes will eventually wash out to the Bay of Anamnesis.”

Belgrave remembered the ship that had brought him from the underground cavern and decided it was fitting to send the old man’s body to Atalan on the ship. They left the house and Belgrave waded over to the ship to see if it was still seaworthy.

Naiya’Nal found a sword in the shack and began to chop down a tree. Belgrave knew what she was trying to do. She wanted to create a plank that they could use as a ramp to board the ship. “Wouldn’t it be easier to just burn around the base of the tree until it fell on its own? I know you can make fire in your hands.” he suggested. “You could then burn the trunk until it is the right size and shape.”

Naiya’Nal smiled. “I guess I could try that,” she said. She set down her sword, curled her fingers, and created her magic fireball. The heat caused the wood to burn fast. “This is definitely quicker,” she exclaimed.

As Naiya’Nal worked on the tree, Belgrave dressed Jun Joon in the suit of armor that was against the wall inside the shack. Belgrave noticed that it was the same suit Naiya’Nal had worn the day she helped him defeat Narva. Wearing it, Jun Joon would float down the river with full honor. Belgrave and Naiya’Nal were finished about the same time and after putting the plank in place, they carried the body onto the ship. They laid Jun Joon on some skins in the center of the deck. They set his shield and sword beside him.

Naiya’Nal found an old flag of Tanarad in the hut and drew on it a thunderbolt striking through a circle surrounded by two crescents. “The circle and crescents symbol is on my sword,” Belgrave noted, watching as she attached the flag to the ship’s mast.

“He told me his story,” she explained as she walked over to the body and lifted his hand. Belgrave could see that Jun Joon wore a ring with the same symbol. “One day you will have a ring like this one,” Naiya’Nal said. “Three races separated, a lesser to guide. This is only a depiction of the ring worn by the great kings, the ring that they split into three smaller rings after the destruction of Atalan. This is Jun Joon’s legacy and will pass with him into what was once his home.” She hoisted the flag to the top of the mast.

They stood in silence for a moment to ponder the life of the ancient man. “The ship is still stuck here,” Belgrave suddenly realized.

Naiya’Nal laughed. “It is only stuck on a shallow part of the river. If we lighten the ship, it will be able to float in even shallower water.”

Belgrave agreed and they both entered the ship’s cabin to see what they could remove. Once inside, they took out various items the ship did not need and piled them on shore. Eventually the ship began to move. They hastily left the ship before the plank fell off the side of the ship. Naiya’Nal tossed one of her fireballs aboard and the rapidly growing flames spread across the deck as the smoking ship moved down the river. The white flag fluttered in the breeze as the ship disappeared down the river with only a trail of smoke to mark its passage.

That night they burned everything that they had removed from the ship. As they sat watching the blaze, Belgrave put his arm around Naiya’Nal. “I never thought that I would ever enter another world,” he said. “I have heard stories about such things, but they were nothing more than fantasy. Now that I am here, I find them more believable.”

“I am glad you are here, Belgrave,” Naiya’Nal replied. “This world has awaited your arrival for so long that I did not think it would happen during my lifetime. Now that you are here, I no longer know what to expect.”

“I never imagined I would suddenly find myself being the only hope for an entire world,” Belgrave said. “Now that I am, I don’t know what to do and can only hope my actions are good enough.”

“You give hope, and because of that, the world will follow you,” Naiya’Nal replied. “As long as the fulfillment of prophecy is your goal, you are doing what is right.”

“I never imagined I would find a woman and fall in love in such a short time,” Belgrave said, pulling her closer.

“There are some things that even I never would have thought possible,” Naiya’Nal replied. “Jun Joon may have manipulated us, prophecy may have predestined us, worret may have influenced us, some call it destiny, some call it fate, but I now believe that only the individual can decide to love.”

They sat there awhile longer before returning to the hut for the rest of the night. They stayed at Jun Joon’s hut a second day before leaving to go to Amehtana.