The New Adventures of Jamie

by Jamie Mac

Chapter 9

Brothers

Jamie woke with the sound of the voice, while his brothers looked around the room trying to puzzle out where it had come from. He sat up slowly, still feeling rather lightheaded, and wore an impish grin that said he knew what had just taken place. All of the boys looked at him as he continued to smile.

"Hey there Little One, don't scare me like that," said Kyle, wrapping him in a hug.

"Yeah really, I thought you'd died!" Eric exclaimed.

"So, this friend of yours," Swift began, while tapping the side of his head, "How long have you been hearing him?"

"Well, the first time was down in the armoury," Jamie started. "Then on the range I think? Wait a second, how did I get here? The last thing I remember was shooting my bow …"

"You passed out, scared us all. Gwinis came down and said you'd be fine after a while, and then I carried you up here," said Kyle, the concern still in his voice.

"The mysteries keep piling up on you, Little Brother. Or do you like 'Little One' better?" Swift asked, certain of the answer that was coming.

Jamie cocked his head slightly, thinking for a moment, then said, "'Little One' is cool."

Eric had finally figured something else out while they had sat talking, "Hey, I think I know what Jamie is saying, but I think I should wait 'til we all meet later. That voice of Jamie's seems to be hinting that at me."

Swift, Kyle, and Jamie all looked at him, Swift saying, "You may be right. Let's save this for later. Jamie, I put your bow in the cabinet, you can hang the rest of your gear there as well, and before dark we'll walk down to the range. I want to show you what you did." Holding a hand up to calm Jamie, he continued, "It's nothing bad. You'll be smiling when you see it."

"I think we should go get something to eat I'm starved and my friend said I would need food," Jamie said while tapping his head. He then stood up and wobbled on his feet.

"Woah!" he exclaimed as Kyle reached out quickly to grab him.

"Easy, Little One. Let's take it slow. We still don't have all the answers, but I think your friend will give us some after dinner. Give me your stuff, sit, and I'll put it away. Then later, I'll give you a ride downstairs," said Kyle, holding up a hand to forestall any arguments.

Kyle hung Jamie's gear in the cabinet and closed the door. Jamie reached around his neck and pulled a gold chain off and handed over the key. Kyle turned the lock and returned the key back to Jamie who slipped it over his head and tucked it underneath his camouflage-patterned shirt.

"Mom said dinner will be about an hour from now," added Eric.

"Well what can we do for now?" Jamie asked.

"Why don't you tell us more about Brownies? You seem to have acquired a good knowledge of them," Swift suggested, wanting to see what Jamie knew. If what he had figured out at the practice pitch was accurate, Jamie should know more about them than even his new grandfather.

Lying back on the bed Jamie looked out the window and began, "Brownies are a type of Faerie, or what is known as a Fey Being. They live underground in isolated communities. Their magic is very much their own, they do not let anyone know about it. Some of their gifts include: making food, mending clothing, and fixing broken items. In a way, if something is broken when they repair it, afterwards it's usually better than before."

He paused for a moment when he suddenly noticed that his teddy bear looked brand new. It was the only toy he had managed to ever have and keep, and he cherished it with all his heart. He picked it up giving it a hug as it soaked up a couple of tears that ran down his cheek.

"They also fix worn out teddy bears and make them look brand new," Jamie added softly. He then took a breath and continued from where he had left off, "Brownies are also famous because they invented the dessert that they are named for: Brownies. The biggest difference between them and us, is they're only like five inches tall. Otherwise they look just like most folk, other than having ears like yours Swift - which I notice Faeries have as well.

"I think it seems to be a trait of all whimsical beings, from the pictures I have seen they all appear to have larger ears, other than Gnomes; Gnomes look more like fat midget dwarves. I didn't get very far into the dragons but I saw Fáfnir and Nidhogg, and I read about them as well.

"It seems besides having several breath weapons, like you had said Swift, they are one hundred percent magic right down to the core. Only other dragons can dispose of a dragon when it dies, their bones and other parts do not decay. They can take on any form that suits them, although they rarely do. They find humans that can talk quite fascinating. Most people, like those bullies in the alley, freeze when a dragon is radiating its fear. I could feel it but I could move, I think I was just too scared to say anything.

"I noticed even Eric could move. I think when they're using their rage or are in hunt mode it tends to freeze any living thing that is in the area. I also think that explains why Kyle and Swift are dragon tamers. The book said 'dragon tamers are rare, and only one in a million are capable of speaking with a dragon.'

"Considering me and Eric could hold hands and move about I think we can be like you guys as well and not be afraid when the dragons are around. I think that is about all I know. I could read much more and get lots of details … but I get a feeling you're just testing me Swift. Seeing just what I've read and what I know beyond the books," Jamie said as he winked at Swift.

Swift now looked at Jamie with a whole new respect. The young boy sitting in front of him had taken the time and effort to learn about the new world he was in. Even though he knew the book did not contain everything that Jamie had spoken of, Swift also somehow knew that the voice they had all heard was partially behind it. He also knew that Jamie's love of sitting in the library was a factor in the young boy's knowledge as well.

Eric looked at Jamie and said, "You mean when I looked at you in the alley and we watched the dragons it was because we have a power over them?"

Jamie sat there for a moment deep in thought, then looking at Swift he replied, "I think it's not a power so much as it's we can control our feelings around them. Swift, can you maybe fill in some more? I'm really not sure."

"Jamie you're right on everything you've said. I was curious about how much you'd read and I'm shocked with what you've learned so quickly," Swift replied. "Eric yes, Jamie is right. It's not so much a power as it's control of feelings. I really don't know what more I can add, Jamie pretty much filled that part all in."

"Well I think I can help here," Kyle began. "As a dragon tamer there is more that you learn. Dragons are much more powerful than most books claim. People even think that the monster manuals are all correct but they aren't. We're all scratching the surface of just how intelligent they are, as well as knowing all of the abilities they possess. In the study downstairs there are five books on dragons, and it's not even a dent in the history behind them. I've read all five, and I still only know maybe one percent of Dragonology," finished Kyle. There was a clarity in his words, as well as a quality in his voice that made it clear that he knew quite a bit about dragons.

"So is the test over? Any more questions? If not, let's go eat. My tummy can't take this anymore," Jamie said with enthusiasm.

"Hop on, Little One," Kyle said turning and squatting down by the bed so that Jamie could climb on his back.

Jamie climbed into position and Kyle stood up, Jamie gently hugging him. He asked in a low voice next to Kyle's ear, "I'm not to heavy am I?"

"Far from it. I think my sword weighs more than you do!" Kyle responded, thinking about the fact it actually felt that way. Jamie felt like a feather to him; he would have to ask someone about it. That would have to wait a while however, right now his precious cargo was hungry and he could feel Jamie's stomach rumbling as it pressed against his back.

They all headed out from Jamie's room and walked towards the stairs leading down. As they got to the bottom of the first flight of steps, a door across the hallway opened. They all turned to look, and Swift's aunt stepped out from the room that she shared with her husband.

Swift greeted her, "Mae govannen, Aunt Faervel. It has been a long time, how have you been?"

"Mae govannen, Swift. I am fine. How are you and your new brothers getting on?" Faervel asked with a wink.

Eric looked on and saw the exchange commenting, "Someone told!" He then smiled and started to giggle.

"It's a change, I think I am liking it," Swift replied, giving his Aunt a wink back.

Jamie not wanting to be left out added, "Aunty, can we go eat? I'm really hungry."

This set everyone laughing whereupon Kyle added in, "Yeah, and while Jamie is as light as a feather, the longer I hold him the more I can feel it!"

"I can walk Kyle …" Jamie began, but before he could say anything else Kyle shushed him as they started down the main staircase.

The table had been expanded to seat them all: a leaf was added and more chairs had been placed around to accommodate everyone. Already sitting at the table talking were Thondir, Brúndaer, and Lornen. Moments later Gwinis came into the room from the kitchen where she had been tending the stove. They all watched as Kyle pulled a chair out and set Jamie down in it. At the same time Swift pulled a chair out for his aunt, as she sat down. Eric and Kyle sat on either side of Jamie, and Swift sat next to Eric.

The sideboard had already been laid out with a spread fit for a king. The aromas drifting his way assaulted Jamie's nose, almost making him drool as he eyed the fresh corn on the cob, green beans, mixed vegetables, assorted dinner rolls, salads, and Jell-O.

Gwinis asked Eric and Jamie, "How do you like your steaks? I already know how Kyle and Swift like theirs."

Eric and Jamie exchanged puzzled looks, earning a chuckle from those sitting around the table. Not sure why or what to say they both shrugged their shoulders, still looking rather lost.

Thondir said, "From your expressions, I think I could hazard a safe guess: neither of you have ever had steak before?"

Both boy's shook their heads and Thondir continued, "There are five ways to cook steaks which differ from how other foods are done. You have a choice of how well cooked it is: 'rare', being the fast cook; 'medium rare', which is a little longer; 'medium', yet again longer; 'medium well'; and last 'well done' which means it's cooked through."

Kyle added to that, seeing the boys were still puzzled, "Think of it this way, 'rare' is bloody but real tender, and 'well done' is close to burnt but cooked all the way through. I like mine 'medium' which is half way. It's tender, yet not quite looking like it just came off the side of a cow."

Jamie scrunched his face up sticking his tongue out, "Eww, bloody? I'll try it medium, but I would love to try it the other ways as well someday. I've never had anything as good as here before."

Eric added, "I think I'll go with Jamie on that, I'm not sure I want my steak mooing at me."

Everyone begun to laugh after Eric's comment and Gwinis started to plate the steaks that she had had in the broiler. She walked around the table placing a cut of meat on everyone's plate. She then set the serving platter down, hung her apron up, and joined them at the table.

"Ladies first," she announced, picking her plate up and heading to the sideboard. Aunt Faervel stood and joined her, then Kyle stood up and grabbed Jamie's plate before he could protest.

"I'll get you what you want," he said, still worrying about his little brother.

Jamie blushed a bit, he was not used to being treated special. While he thought it was great, he was afraid of getting too used to it for fear that it would all go away. Time would change that, for now he decided to simply enjoy the moment at hand.

"Hey, what about me?" Eric joked. "I'm worn out as well, you really showed me a lot today."

Kyle laughed, "Yeah you're fast on your feet, well balanced, and a fine swordsman, but you didn't collapse on the ground and scare us all."

"I'll fill your plate Eric," said Swift standing up. "Say Mom, got any Brussels sprouts and boiled spinach?"

"Oh gross!" Eric said making a funny face at the idea of spinach. "I'll just help myself."

Soon they all were sitting around the table enjoying a great meal. True to his word, Jamie tried a little bit of meat with each piece cooked a different amount. He eventually found that he enjoyed the medium version the best, but without snubbing the others. Everyone enjoyed the meal, and made small talk about some of the earlier events in the day, saving the heavy topics for after dinner.

Gwinis started clearing the table whereupon Jamie got up and started to carry his dishes to the sink. Gwinis looked at him and smiled. Noting that he was still a bit wobbly on his feet, he nevertheless seemed to be feeling better after a big dinner. Jamie then walked back to the table to grab another handful of dishes. The rest of the boys seeing him help stood, and started to gather dishes as well. With all the assistance it did not take long to clear the dining room, clean the kitchen, and have everything tidied up and put away. They all headed for the study.

Thondir slid the doors open to the study, which was by the main entrance to the house. To the left of that, alongside the main staircase, was another set of doors that led to the drawing room. Taking a seat behind the desk he motioned for the others to sit. They all took seats, sitting on the antique lounge and the old fashioned high back chairs that circled the room. Jamie felt tiny in the giant chair he sat in, then noticing that they were a chair short he decided to get up and sat on the floor in front of the desk and looked around the room.

The room was opulent, yet not overly so. There were trophies in a case on the left side of the room for sports from bowling to archery, as well as ribbons and certificates. Behind the desk a window looked out towards a fountain sitting high on a flower-covered raised mound. Faeries flitted about it and admired their reflections in the still water in the pond below which surrounded it. Above the window hung what looked to be tribal spears along with several masks on the walls around the window. The room was much larger than a normal study, with one wall covered in books and several book cases placed about the room filled with large bound volumes, complete with various knick-knacks scattered about on the tops of most of them.

Thondir started, "Kyle, thank you your report on the mornings events, it was very helpful. I spoke with some of the protectors while picking up Brúndaer, Lornen, and Faervel from the airport. They are very happy and send their thanks to you and Swift for giving the gang a good thrashing. We all spoke while you were down at the range and have come up with some of the answers that we have all been looking for."

"I have some more to tell you father," Swift said, his father looking at him now. "We were up in Jamie's room just before dinner, and Jamie was still asleep. We sat talking for a bit and Kyle asked me 'how it felt to have three brothers'. I replied, 'I am proud to have you as my brothers, you do honour to our family name. Welcome to your new family.' After I said it we all heard a voice saying the same thing: 'Done.'"

Eric added to that, "We did, and that was when I realized something as well. The voice seemed to nudge at me, that I should wait before I said anything, but I think it's time now. I realized that somehow we've been brothers before. I don't know if that's quite right, but it feels right. I think this has happened before; I guess what I'm trying to say is, I feel like we've all been here before. Almost like this is all a big T.V. rerun."

Thondir looked at his brother and father, a bit of puzzlement showing on his face, "It sounds impossible, but it's possible we may be experiencing events that have been recurring for many millennia. Father if I may impose, can you fill them in, you know that history better than I."

Brúndaer looked at everyone, and then his eyes settled on Eric, "Eric you have said something I do need to think on. Please let me know if you feel like you have been someplace or an event feels the same to you. There is a theory, long ago before even I came into this world: that things tend to repeat or get stuck like the needle on a record player. Some wars even have similar qualities, the people may have changed, but the reasons remain essentially the same."

"Now we know throughout history that there are two possibilities, one light and the other dark. Some would instead say, depending on beliefs, one good and one evil. Each is struggling for domination; their struggles are what hold the fabric of the universe together.

"If they suddenly stopped we think that the universe would be destroyed, although that is mostly based on speculation. We do not know much about them, but periodically they seem to pick a fight with each other, and it seems to coincide with certain events. If I see the signs right, and the written prophecies are correct, it now seems we are destined to have that battle here."

Jamie sat listening, taking it all in, when a question popped into his head. Raising his hand like a child at school he sat and waited. Brúndaer looked at Jamie and said, "Go ahead Little One."

"I think I understand. So this voice, is it the voice of one of the two possibilities? Like does this mean I am the light's choice? And that means there's someone else on the other side. Who is the other person?" asked Jamie, panic rapidly beginning to rise in his voice. "And ... does this mean I could die?"

"I am not going to lie to you, son, it is possible," said Brúndaer holding up a hand pausing Jamie from interjecting another question. "First, we do not know if it is you. It may be someone else and you only lead them, or you may be the one …" Brúndaer then paused himself when a voice suddenly interrupted him.

"Little One, you are the one whom I have chosen to perform the task that lies ahead of you. I have been guiding you from before the time of your birth. Your name has been written amongst the stars. The people who are gathered with you have also been chosen for this task. I may not tell you much as I am only allowed to reveal certain things. If I speak too much my counterpart can share information on their side as well," spoke the voice, which appeared to be coming from Eric.

Lornen asked, "What can you share with us, if anything?"

"I can only say at this time that this will be the final battle. With either darkness or myself winning out. If my counterpart wins then all will be thrown into chaos. It is why I strive to win. Brúndaer is correct; wars are a part of our battles. While I have won many my counterpart has won as well," continued the voice, everyone staring in wonder watching Eric speak and yet it was not his voice.

Jamie interrupted, "What did you do to Eric?" There was some fear in his voice over this almost macabre usage of his newfound brother.

"Your brother is still here. It was easier for me to use his body for this than yours. Your energy was spent earlier on the archery range. Your friend is still in control; I have just borrowed his voice. He is right here, and is asking me many tough questions," the voice replied, and Eric waved and gave a thumbs-up so that everyone knew he was fine.

"My time is short and I have many tasks to accomplish before the moment of the final battle arrives. I will be nearby, but for now know that you all are following the correct path. Continue as you are. Eric, in answer to your question: yes, you are correct these events have happened before. You are also correct to watch for signs of things repeating; keep track of them, tell the others as well. When the time comes you will see the signs. I will be joining you from time to time when needed," the Voice added.

Thondir asked, "Are there any specific signs we should look for?"

"No Thondir, while we control much of everything, you must find and learn this information on your own. If I tell you then my counterpart can do the same with the one whom he has chosen. Much is coming to pass, but I can say this: you will have enough time before the final event will come to pass."

"Brúndaer, you are following the right path as well. Consult with those whom you already have, and consult also with those whom you have not yet made contact; they will come to you. Boys, continue training and keep ever watchful. The events in the alley were not mere chance. My counterpart tried to take the prime player out of the picture, hoping to throw all into chaos before we could prepare.

"I used Swift and Kyle to my advantage when I saw the numbers. I added Fáfnir and Nidhogg to the mix as well; to ensure the safety of all. I say unto you, look to the other preserves as well. Things are coming to be that have not been seen in the last age. There will be much ahead; times will be tough; troubles will follow; some may fall while others rise. This will be the final event and only one shall overcome and be triumphant," finished the Voice.

Lornen asked, "Is there a name, or a way that we can contact you?"

"Since I am preparing for the final battle, I am everywhere. Simply ask Jamie, he knows how to contact me. He has spoken with me many times before the events of today. He is only just realizing this now, but in fact I have always been with him," said the Voice and then was gone.

Brúndaer spoke, "If I am right, does that mean you and your counterpart are controlling events now?"

Eric looked at him, "He's gone. Not much of a goodbye."

Thondir looked at the others and said, "I imagine this is all we will have to go on. Jamie, you have a power. You can draw on energy within you as well as all around you. You must learn to control this; it has been a long time since we have taught anyone how to channel this energy. So I ask you before you try any more hundred-yard shots to ask for help."

"Speaking of that power Father, Xenops said something to me earlier," Swift started. "I only just remembered it now, with all that's just happened."

"Go ahead Swift," Thondir replied.

"She said that Jamie had a light about him, I guess she would have thought of it as an aura. I also remember that when Jamie had passed out, she mentioned that as the arrow flew it appeared to glow. I don't know if it means anything, I think she was certain it did. I was a bit more concerned with Jamie and didn't pursue it. I'm sorry," Swift finished.

"It's fine son, with the extraordinary events of today I am not surprised it was pushed aside. Your concern for your newfound brother is showing, and is more important than a lapse of passing along information," Thondir said, making sure to let Swift know it was fine to be concerned of other's welfare first and foremost.

Thondir paused for a moment before continuing, "Swift what you have just said has some meaning. I think we do need to delve into this. Earlier we knew there was much more to Jamie than appeared to the eyes, now I know there is much more we have yet to uncover."

Swift continued after his father finished, "Father there's much more; I'm thinking this all ties in with Jamie's friend. This morning both Eric and Jamie figured it all out about the preserves and dragons. I'm sure everything fell into place, and the storm we had this morning was not natural. It didn't make sense to me at first, but I think the street gang somehow fit into this plan of battle. Jamie's friend seemed to confirm the fight with the bullies in the alley, which makes me think this is important was well."

Brúndaer commented, "Swift, you say both Eric and Jamie figured it out today? Are you sure the times were exact? If so, this would fit a pattern of light and dark, and events leading up to today's meeting between the gang and yourselves."

"Yes grandfather. I can't confirm the exact minute but I do think the timing wasn't a coincidence," Swift continued. "It's the same with the storm, it seemed to reach its worst when the gang entered the alley. Afterwards when we met at the bus shelter it had turned into a normal spring shower. If I had to guess, I would say someone had been trying to control the outcome of that meeting with the gang."

"I agree with you Swift, this was not a mere coincidence. I think Jamie's voice has given us the clues to that as well. The times are most likely down to the exact second. I believe the fight was also a part of the great struggle, a small battle, in which Kyle and you had to defeat the dark entity. Following the lines of fate until they merge into one," Brúndaer said, looking at Lornen and Thondir for confirmation.

Lornen spoke, "I think we are all on a path, and Jamie is the key to the final event as well. It fits with the prophecies that I have read, and the legends that I have heard as well, over many years in my travels to other preserves and other places. Thondir related how you, Jamie, had stacked the arrows at one hundred yards. This says that he is the wellspring of the power of light. Jamie, do not fear, for we shall teach you to control this power. I will get you started; we all have the power in us … although I think now that you might be the strongest amongst us all. I think even if we combined our powers, Jamie would still outshine us once he learns more on how it is done."

Lornen finished by lifting his hand; holding it in the air he looked at a large quartz crystal that was sitting on the desk. It rose slowly to float in the air even though nothing touched it. Jamie looked on in fascination, as the crystal rose off the desk and slowly spun in the air. Eric cocked an eyebrow, looking on amazed as well. Eric raised his hand as the crystal was set back onto the desk in the same place it had been originally.

"Yes Eric?" Thondir said.

"Do I have the power like that as well?" Eric asked. "I mean can I do that too? I feel something in me but I can't explain what it is."

Lornen spoke, "Now would be a good time to find out. Eric, I want you to look at the crystal on the desk. Now follow my instructions closely, or you could wind up doing some serious damage."

"Okay, Uncle Lornen," Eric replied, once again without realizing what he had said.

Lornen smiled and continued, "Now think about the crystal until it is the only thing in your mind. Reach out with your mind and feel the crystal as well. Once you feel it, slowly exert your will and try to lift the crystal. Be careful with how much you focus. Jamie, I want you to pay attention to this as well. You drew on everything around you when you shot that arrow earlier; all you needed to do however was give it a little push. Precise control is the key. Now Eric, once you feel the energy inside you go ahead and release it slowly."

"I feel all tingly all over, like a soda can about ready to explode. Should I do it right now?" Eric asked.

"Yes go ahead," Lornen advised.

Eric released the energy he felt, and the crystal leapt up from the desk. It hit the ceiling, then came crashing back down, and just before it hit the desk it froze and hovered above it as Eric reopened his eyes that he had shut to see what was going on.

"Woah! Sorry about that Uncle!" Eric said, again not realizing what he had said.

"It's fine son, that was not bad for a first time," Lornen replied, impressed by what he had seen.

Jamie spoke, "Can I try to do that?"

"It would be a good idea, I think all of you should try," said Lornen. "Although Jamie, I think with what you did at the range, perhaps you should wait. You could hurt yourself more if you tried again so soon after expending so much energy earlier. Fear not Little One, you will have plenty of time to practice."

From the air the voice suddenly spoke, "I think it would be a good idea. He will be fine with all of you in the room with him."

"I guess that answers that question. Okay Jamie, since your friend says it is fine, I want you do like I told Eric, but remember what you did at the range. Use less energy, much less - for the sake of the ceiling," said Lornen, with a slight grin.

This time Jamie focused on the crystal, feeling it with his mind. He did not know why, but as he looked at the crystal he raised his hand and spoke a single word.

"Lift," Jamie said, as crystal quivered for a second then began to hover over the desk.

"Down," Jamie spoke again, and the crystal laid itself back on the desk exactly from where it had just lifted.

"Very good Jamie. You did not have to speak for it to move, but it worked," Brúndaer said with a smile.

"Thanks Grandpa," Jamie said, meaning it completely. He relished the fact that he had received more compliments in this one single day than he had ever received before in his whole short life.

Faervel then said, "You all can do this, as well as many other things. The big thing to remember is to never unmake anything. If you do that, your energy will turn on you and you will be destroyed." Aunt Faervel's voice had a musical quality to it, yet at this moment she spoke with deep meaning as this warning could mean the difference between life and death.

Kyle asked, "But if I kill someone wouldn't that be the same thing? Would I not kill myself as well?"

"No this is much different. When you kill something or someone even though it is dead, it still exists. However, if you try to unmake something, your energy will rebel, and you will be destroyed. Everything has a place in the universe. If I smash the crystal on the desk, I only changed it. While it is still there, even though it may be a pile of dust, it exists. Does that make sense?" Faervel asked.

"Yes it does, but it's complicated," Kyle replied. "Can I give it a try now?"

"Go ahead son. Remember, you only need to nudge it a little bit," said Thondir, who had been sitting quietly watching.

Kyle focused his mind on the crystal, and tried to mimic what Jamie had done - trying to release the tingles he felt running through his body slowly. He felt the same sensations that Eric had, like a can of soda ready to explode from being shaken too much.

Repeated just as Jamie had, Kyle said, "Lift."

The crystal then lifted itself up from the table and promptly hit the ceiling. It was not quite as hard a blow as when Eric had tried, but it was still enough to add an extra chip in the paint overhead. Kyle then slowly set the crystal back onto the desk, opened his eyes, and took a deep breath.

"Wow! Now I know why Jamie passed out," Kyle said, feeling like he had just run a marathon.

"Yes, whenever you focus your will and release the energy it takes energy from you. Like Jamie earlier, he used his plus drew from everything around, including all of you, to make that shot. You can do that, but you must learn to draw from everything around you other than people," explained Aunt Faervel.

"A lot of practice is what it will take. Swift can already do this, he will be able to help you learn to focus and draw from the things around you," Aunt Faervel continued. "If you use too much of your own energy you can actually die. So try not to use so much, Little One; I would hate to lose a nephew. Also remember the rules on killing and attacking whimsical beings and others on the preserve, they apply to magic as well," she finished, again with a serious tone.

"I'll try not to. I don't really even know how I did it. I stood looking at the target from forty feet, and I just wanted the arrow to hit the red spot on the target. When I got back to one hundred feet, I just thought 'hit the other arrow' and fired. I don't remember much else other than my friend saying I did way too much," Jamie replied, enjoying the new sensation of someone calling him nephew.

"Well, I think we have figured out and painted a pretty good picture of the events up to this point. There are things I need to speak on with new family, so you boys are free to go. I think Swift wants to show you your arrow, Little One," said Thondir, as he winked at Jamie.

Kyle spoke before they got up, "I have one more question … Will we win?"

Everyone sat looking at each other for a moment before Brúndaer finally spoke, "I cannot say 'yes' or 'no' to that. I do think we stand a better chance than darkness has. Light has a way of being stronger than the dark, yet it can be hard to judge. I sense there is more that has yet to be revealed to us and that it will be over time. But how much time is there between now and the final event? No one can know exactly."

"I think I get it, and I think I also know my part as well," Kyle said, with a small smile on his face as he looked at Jamie.

"You have very good intuition Son, keep a close eye on him," Thondir winked, as everyone then stood up to head out.

As they walked out of the study, Swift asked his brothers, "Would you like to just wander, or shall we bring our gear and see what sort of trouble we can all get into?"

Kyle, Eric, and Jamie looked at Swift and all together as one, they said "Trouble!"

Jamie took off running, "Last one on the back porch carries me!" The young boy then laughed as he raced up the steps not far ahead of the others.

The adults looked on and chuckled as the rest of the boys took off in pursuit of Jamie. Looking back at one another they knew that the time for play was now, as soon enough real work would intrude once again. They all walked through the kitchen and went to sit on the back porch curious to see who would win, as well as to sit and talk in the nice early evening air.

Jamie made it to his room, flung the door open, and quickly removed the key from his neck, opened the cabinet, and put his gear on. He then replaced the key around his neck and ran back out the door heading for the stairs. He was down the steps and out on the back porch sitting on the steps in short order, having beaten the others much to his surprise. Jamie and the adults chuckled as they heard the others shouting back and forth inside the house as to who would be last as they each hurried.

As Jamie sat there waiting, he asked his new family a question, "I've never had a real family before. Is it okay if I call you family names?"

Thondir on behalf of everyone replied, "We would be honoured, Little One. You bring laughter and joy to our home, I think even Swift has missed that."

It seemed that the other boys hit the back door all about at the same time, however Kyle made sure that he was last one out. They all laughed together and the smiles showed these boys fit together not merely as a family, but even as brothers. Kyle knew he could have easily beaten Eric if he had wanted to, but he felt he needed to be Jamie's protector – besides, Jamie was light enough that he could carry him for days if need be, Kyle thought to himself.

Now that everyone was on the back porch, Jamie said with a grin on his face, "Looks like you're the winner Kyle."

"I think the contest was rigged," Kyle said with a faux air of complaint. "I should have been the first one out the door!" However, in spite of the pretended outrage Kyle laughed, knowing that if it had been the other way around he still would have won somehow.

"We're a family now, Pop says so! I now have three brothers, a Mom and Dad, an Aunt, an Uncle, and a Grandpa. And best of all, now I won't get beat up for saying I saw a hermit troll," Jamie announced, proud of his newfound family.

As soon as he said it a bell rung, just a single tone, and the Voice spoke once again to everyone: "Done."

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