by AB

Chapter 5

Old Fears and New Pleasures

"You are sure of this?"

"Indeed, I had to go through so much bureaucracy in the order to get the journals required but I am sure. None."

"Since when? Shouldn't be a steady number anyways."

They talked in darkness, illuminated only by the street lights, speaking in hushed whispers.

"None, not a few. None."

"In how long?"

"At least half a decade, none."

"He said he could feel it coming…could he be right?"

"You are the Immortal here, not I."

"You and your order watch us, observe us. Don't act ignorant."

"I do not know if the gathering is near, the…we have observed nothing, truly, significant or different in any of the Immortals we watch."

"Which is everyone, right?"

"Well…I thought so but if Andreas has managed to evade us for…well since the creation of our order then it stands to reason others may have as well. We watch all those we know of, or we learn of. Most of them are stationary, like you. Nomads are tougher to track down. We even have lapses in our journals of you from your periods of heavy traveling."

"I see…any strange Behaviours? From Immortals or Watchers alike?"

"There's always erratic or strange behaviour when dealing with beings who have lived for centuries…" He thought for a moment. "We have noticed an increasing amount of Immortal deaths the last six months, I cannot be sure, yet, but I think your boy may the one doing the killing."

"But…why would so many be going after him? I have lived for nearly five hundred and sixty-three years and I count the Immortals who have come for my head in the fingers of one hand."

"You've killed more than that, surely."

"I have, but most were random encounters. Only three to four people have challenged me for my head. A few challengers per week for six months…"

"That's not a life for a teenager to live."

"He is not a teenager, I do not know how old he really is, but he has not been a teenager for a long time. Still…it is not a life for anyone, yet some beings in this world have to live by it until the gathering happens."

"Has it ever?"

"Happened? Not to my knowledge."

"Why would it now be getting close to happening?" He paused for a moment, a sound from outside catching his attention. "What did your journals say?"

"Not much regarding this subject. Only sure thing is that Immortal population is declining steadily for at least ten years now and there has not been a new Immortal for at least half that."

"When will you listen to me and stay behind?" Andreas hid the swords back in their bag sheath. "It's not safe…fuck, every bone hurts, I feel nausea and an increased feeling of wanting to die…yep just a normal quickening…fuck." He groaned trying to wobble up to his feet. Triton appeared behind one of the bridge's columns and rushed to help him.

"When will you learn this is all too exciting and interesting for me not to follow you." Triton tried to chuckle hauling Andreas up with a hand around each of their shoulders.

"I don't remember you so tired last time when I found out about it all."

"The older the Immortal, the more the fatigue." Andreas whispered.

Triton walked them to the closest place they could sit for Andreas to catch his breath.

"Come on, my home's closer." Triton stood up.

"How did you know he'd be here earlier? It's not even remotely close to midnight." Asked Triton as they walked back to his house.

"I knew him well enough to suspect he would try and arrive earlier and plot some kind of trap to weaken me down. With that foiled by my earlier arrival he resorted to firing a gun at me, again. Predictable."

"So, the two bullets missed you?"

"Oh, no they got me all right but twisting as I did they failed to hit anything major that would have temporarily killed me, allowing him to take my head with ease."

"Fight your enemy where he's not?" Triton quoted from the art of war.

"No, sacrifice knowing you'll gain more from deceiving a prideful foe as to the extent of the damage caused."

"That's not from the art of war."

"I just made it up from knowing chess. Come let's go, I'm starving."

"You just ate! I mean all that stuff at the cinema." Triton exclaimed.

"Quickenings…make you feel as if you've run a marathon. And I'm trapped in perpetual puberty." Andreas shrugged.

"Mum! I'm home!" Triton yelled closing the door behind them.

"Come in the dining room, we've here." A male voice yelled back.

"Mum, dad. This is Andreas. Andreas these are my parents, well you already know my father and that little rascal over there is my brother, Sophocles." Andreas said hello.

"I have this feeling I know you from somewhere?" Asked Andreas, looking at Paul.

"We did meet the other day, when I picked Triton up from school." Replied Paul.

"I mean from somewhere else, I feel like we've met before?" Andreas inquired further.

"I'm afraid you must be mistaken."

"That's a wicked bag!" Sophocles commented, his legs swinging under the chair. "Can I.."

"I don't think that's a good idea." Triton cut him off, gently.

"Uhm…okay, Soooo…Triton, what do you find in him? I mean surely you can do better for a friend?" Sophocles quipped, teasing his brother making him eyeroll.

"Well…I'm not sure, to be honest. I think he sort of has taken me captive or something. I can't seem to get rid of him." Andreas remarked back, trying his best to remain serious.

"I know what you mean!" Sophocles reacted, giggling. "He's like a tick or something, isn't he? Barging in the room witho…"

"Sopho! Stop harassing my friend." Triton interrupted the younger boy.

"Whaaaa? It sure sounds like y…" A cough from his mother stopped the younger boy.

"What do your parents do, Andreas dear?" Asked Ellen, changing the subject.

"Oh, my parents…eh…they were merchants, but they died…some time ago. George is my legal guardian, for now. He has an antiques shop in Plaka, under the acropolis."

"I see. It is a nice place, Plaka."

"Antiques shop? Does he have swords?" Asked Sophocles, energetic and grinning with apparent interest.

"Sure, he has swords and weapons from the 1800s all the way to late antiquity. I think he has a sword for sale now that dates to Roman times. New acquisition I believe." Triton noticed him being cheery yet reserved.

"I bet." Triton remarked unable to stop himself.

"Woooaahhhh, really? So, your bag looks really nice." He changed the subject like a supercharged machine.

"It was a gift from a…friend. It is custom made, originally from Renaissance Italy, 1560 AD from Firenze, I believe. But I made some modifications to it and the fabric."

"Which century swords do you like the more?" Asked Andreas.

"Medieval greatswords!" Sophocles beamed.

"You play way too many video games." Triton teased him.

"Indeed," Andreas chuckled. "Greatswords were a thing during the medieval ages in northern Europe but then they were mostly ceremonial after. Modern day video games are greatly misinformed."

"It's not misinformation," Triton corrected him. "It's that A one hundred kilos armoured guy looks better killing monsters with a gigantic sword than he does with a small one. And video games are not about historical accuracy, they are about profit." Triton shrugged seeing the surprised looks on his parents' faces. "What? I read a lot."

"Mum, can we go to Andreas' father's shop? Pleaseeee!!" The younger boy begged in a high-pitched voice.

"No." His father's reply came resolute.

"We'll see, honey. We'll think about it." His mother's diplomatic reply came in second.

"Have you travelled? I'd love to go to see the Pyramids in Egypt or the great wall in China!" Sophocles beamed, proceeding to describe to them each and every place he'd love to visit, one day.

Andreas smiled at the young boy's cheery disposition. "I have travelled. Did you know the Pyramids were once completely white? Covered in white limestone, and the Parthenon was dyed in colours that modern day man would consider…kitsch." Andreas saw Triton's eye brow raised, his lips puckered in question. "Or so I've read." He shrugged his shoulders.

Shortly after some more conversation Triton's parents and Sophocles finished their dinner with Sophocles dragging Andreas to the living room where the older boy indulged him, playing some video games with the younger boy. Andreas having no experience with video games lost badly, several times over with Sophocles becoming increasingly cocky until, now with Triton sitting next to his brother, they mock-wrestled the younger boy to the floor, tickling him. His playful screams echoing all across the flat.

"Sttahp!! Imma gonna pee, stop!" Sophocles pleaded amidst laughter and wigging about as if he was being slaughtered.

An hour and much video gaming later his mother called the younger boy to go to sleep, their father had left shortly after dinner, work.

Sophocles hugged his brother giving him a peck on the lips, all brotherly like, before hugging Andreas and surprising him with a lip-peck of his own.

"You must be tired." Triton lay back on the sofa, looking at him. "We should probably turn in ourselves, today was...interesting to say the least." Andreas nodded standing up.

Getting ready for sleep, Andreas noticed Triton having lost his shyness for nudity as the boy stripped naked in front of him, before putting his PJs. Night clothes on, teeth brushed and bodies cleaned Triton lay on his bed, under the sheets. Andreas lay next to him with Triton placing a hand around his waist, hesitantly.

A moment later Andreas turned side facing his friend in the dark filled room, illumination provided only from external sources. The street lamps, light from the rest of the house, outside their closed door, leaking in from the small void underneath.

For a moment Triton thought Andreas was asleep then in a whisper his blood drained away. "You don't like girls, do you?"

"I know that look, an Immortal is near?" Asked his friend and watcher, with a worried look.

He nodded. "I have never felt anything like this before. The sensation is so intense it's painful."

"There's mortals in the next room, the kids."

"They are asleep, Maria should be back in a bit. We are not in holy ground."

"Perhaps he will avoid doing battle with mortals nearby."

"Perhaps, but you must leave now. You have kids of your own."

"I am your watcher."

"You are, but you must not interfere."

"I never understood that stupid rule of my order."

"Me either, but it is a rule of my kind as well."

"I cannot leave as I must observe, but I will not get in your way." He opened the door, exiting.

George removed the sword from its hiding place. "Come out, come out where I can see you. I know you are inside, whoever you are."

"Who I am…matters not. You are an obstacle. He must get ready for what is ahead, not play mortal and normal life." A peculiar, scratchy voice came from behind.

"There are mortals present. If you are here to challenge me, call your name, challenge me and let us arrange time and place."

The unknown man gave off a chuckle-like sound in a whisper. It made the hair on the back of George's neck stand erect.

"Mortals…you know what is the two things they are good for? Worshipping and they are far easier to kill than our kind." The man retrieved a sword from within his coat.

"The kids are innocent and asleep, you have no reason to harm them. Their swords met mid-air.

"Except I have a reason." The man was agile and fast for his size. "I am going to kill you for disrupting my plans with the third Adam, my first. I will kill them simply because it will give me pleasure to."

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