The New Adventures of Jamie

by Jamie Mac

Chapter 11

Learning About Druhull

As the sun broke through the trees a ray of light shone through the windows of the gatehouse and landed on Jamie's sleeping form, the brightness of it making him stir. He stretched a little and noticed that he was covered in a blanket. He thought about it and figured it must have been put there after he fell asleep. He also realized that tucked under his arm was his teddy bear; it was clean and no longer smelled. All the holes had been patched and it looked brand new. He remembered how the brownies had first repaired it, and smiled at the fact his bear was almost as good as new. He wondered just how it got there; his sharp mind coming to the answer quickly, realizing the Brownies must have paid a visit during the night. They seem to know exactly what people needed and then provided it for them.

Jamie was not aware that Kyle had held him when he fell asleep, and that they both must have slept that way all night. Feeling an arm over him Jamie slowly moved it to roll around and found himself looking at Kyle's face. He was close enough he could feel his friend's warm breath, he could also see that there was the start of manhood beginning to appear with a light fuzz on Kyle's upper lip. He smiled at his good friend who had protected him. Jamie wondered why anyone would want to protect him; why was he getting a warm feeling inside each time Kyle was near; why would someone like Kyle even care so much for another street kid; a throwaway, who had no choice but to do what he had done. These and other questions ran through Jamie's mind as he gazed at the sleeping form next to him.

Kyle slowly stirred, as the warmth of the same ray of sunshine fell on his neck. Slowly opening his eyes, he realized a pair of bright steel blue eyes were looking back at him. He smiled at Jamie, who rapidly returned his smile. Something told Kyle that there was more to the two of them than he understood, he also somehow knew that they would figure it out together. Kyle now was finally realizing just how deeply he cared for his little friend.

Speaking softly, Kyle smiled saying, "Good Morning, Sunshine."

Jamie smiled back certain now from Kyle's greeting that his friend was feeling some of the same things that he was, and replied, "Morning sleepy head."

Jamie stood up with just a pair of camouflaged briefs on, the towel that was around his shoulders having slid off sometime during the night, and he started to stretch. Kyle watching could see just how many scars the small boy had on his back; not to mention the scars he had in various other places along his body. Kyle could even tell from how deep some of the welts were that Jamie had been whipped hard and repeatedly in some of those selfsame spots. It was a wonder that Jamie was even alive with the amount of scars he had on his body. Yet through it all Jamie always seemed to smile, but was quick to turn inside himself when he felt danger was near; or he did something that he thought would gain him another brutal beating. Kyle knew this about Jamie; he had seen him act just like a snail coming out of its shell for short periods, but the second danger loomed the shell door would snap shut.

Kyle thought back to a time when a man had been hassling Jamie, trying to force him into a car. He would never forget the sheer look of terror on Jamie's face, not wanting to go due to knowing the man previously. Jamie had been with the man before and he had received a thorough beating from him and had then been left to bleed in an alley. That had in fact been the first time that Kyle had come to his rescue, and was how their fast friendship had begun. On the later occasion, Kyle had approached not realizing at first it was Jamie, and shouted out, 'What are you doing to my brother?' At that point the man released his grip, got into his car, and sped off. Jamie had fallen on the sidewalk: he laid there, still in shock, looking up at the boy who just saved him. Jamie realized then: here was someone who would help keep him safe. From those tragic beginnings they became fast friends, and helped each other with everything.

Kyle stood up next after reminiscing about the first time he had met Jamie. His T-shirt, which had ridden up during the night, slid back down his body, covering him up. He walked over to the dresser by the hot tub and pulled out a pair of underwear and put them on. Then he found a shirt he thought that Jamie would like to put on, and handed it to him.

"Here, I figured you might like this before the others wake up," Kyle said, while handing Jamie the shirt.

Jamie looked back at him, "Thanks, I guess the towel I had on came off while we were asleep." He held the camouflage patterned shirt up and smiled at Kyle. It seemed everyone knew he loved one colour: camouflage. Even if everyone could see him he somehow felt more hidden in the camouflage than anything else.

They looked over to find Swift and Eric curled up together, asleep. The blankets and towels were kicked to one side, as they lay in a tangle of arms and legs. Kyle picked up one of the soft pillows and grinning at Jamie, he tossed it at both the boys, waking them from their slumber. Jamie giggled as they both sat up looking around wondering what had happened.

Eric looked down at himself and suddenly felt embarrassed, but then seeing Swift was in the same state of dress he relaxed. Eric stretched; standing up he walked over to the dresser, then finding a shirt and a pair of briefs to wear he put them on and turned and faced the others. He then idly wondered what plans they had for today. Swift lay on his back stretching in the morning light, finally with a big yawn he sniffed the air, sat up, and looked around.

Looking over at the table, Swift saw a new basket sitting there; wrapped carefully with a heavy blanket. Its presence told him that someone had been there before they woke and had left them breakfast. He sat up and stretched some more before finally standing up.

Swift pointed over to the table, "I see breakfast has arrived."

He then walked over to the dresser that seemed to have an endless supply of everything one could ever want and pulled out a pair of briefs and put them on. After he finished he walked over to the carefully wrapped basket and started to open it up. Soon the varied scents of cooked bacon, French toast, maple syrup, eggs, and other breakfast goodies invaded their noses.

Eager and hungry the boys gathered around the basket and began to lay out the food on the small table behind the sofa. Each of them took a plate and Swift found two more thermoses in the basket, one full of milk, the other filled with orange juice. He poured glasses for everyone and they all loaded their plates with a good selection of the warm breakfast food. Kyle grabbed a jar of thimbleberry jam that he saw in the basket and took it with him to sit on the sofa.

"Hey save some of that for the rest of us! I know you love Mom's jam, but maybe Jamie and Eric would like a taste," Swift joked, knowing there was another jar in the basket.

"This one is mine. Mom even wrote my name on it," Kyle teased back, pointing at his name on the label while sticking his tongue out at Swift.

This sent the boys into a fit of laughter. Soon they all began eating, refilling their plates, and eating some more. Other than Kyle they all sat on the padded cushions on the floor around the coffee table, happily munching the nice warm breakfast that had been left for them in the early morning. Jamie watched as Kyle opened the jar of jam, and curiosity finally got the better of him.

"Kyle, what are thimbleberries?" Jamie asked. "I've never heard of them before."

"They only grow here in Druhull and a couple of other places," replied Kyle. "One of them was near where I came from originally. It was a place far away from here, near a lot of lakes. As a matter of fact we used to buy it at an old monastery run by a bunch of monks; only one spoke English. I'm not sure but I think they came from Russia or someplace like that. Their jam is second best: in my opinion Mom makes the best."

"What does it taste like?" Jamie asked.

"Come and join me," said Kyle tapping the couch next to him. "I think you'll really like this."

Jamie got up as Kyle began to spread some jam on a toast point. Jamie sat down and Kyle stretched out his hand holding the piece of toast in front of Jamie's mouth. Jamie smiled, opened his mouth, and Kyle popped it in. Chewing it up and relishing the burst of flavour that only thimbleberry jam can do, Jamie's eyes lit up.

"Mmmm, that is good! No wonder you like it so much," Jamie exclaimed, while licking traces of the gooey jam off his lips.

Jamie shifted position and before long had his head lying in Kyle's lap. Kyle prepared another sample and repeated the procedure, popping the bit of toast into Jamie's mouth which he happily accepted once again with a great deal of lip licking. Kyle continued to feed bits of toast to Jamie and each time the smile on Jamie's face grew and grew.

Almost immediately it was matched by a growing smile on Kyle's face. It did not take long before Eric and Swift noticed what was happening. Both of them sat watching the scene on the couch unfolding in front of them and quickly realized a lot more was taking place than just some jam being tasted.

"That jam must be awfully good," Swift finally quipped at Kyle and Jamie after a couple of minutes.

The two boys turned towards Swift at his remark, their cheeks going slightly red. Then when they faced each other again the blush deepened significantly. Finally, they tore their eyes away from each other and back towards Swift and Eric who were looking up at them with huge smiles on their faces.

Jamie was the first to respond, "I've never been fed breakfast before. It's kinda nice, and mom does make great thimbleberry jam."

Kyle then added, "I didn't want Jamie to get his fingers all sticky."

Eric then giggled, "No just his lips I guess."

That was all it took and the boys all burst into laughter. After the wonderful breakfast Eric and Jamie noticed that all their clothing had been hung on the rack by the hot tub. They all started to get dressed, and then gathered up their gear to head back out.

"Should we bring the dishes back to the house?" Eric asked, while picking his up.

Swift commented, "It's fine, the Brownies will get them. I'm sure Mom set breakfast out for them to prepare for us this morning. The Brownies are some of the best cooks next to Mom. They also make a good cleanup crew, that's why our clothes were hung up and everything other than our blankets all picked up."

"It is also why Kyle's room looks relatively clean instead of a disaster area in the mornings," Swift added with a laugh.

Kyle grinned, "I never claimed to be a neat freak."

Everyone laughed, gathered up the rest of their things, and started to head out of the gatehouse. They got on the road and started to walk away from the small building that they had all slept comfortably in the night before.

Swift was about to ask a question, when suddenly a noise caught his attention. Quickly drawing his sword, he turned on a dime to face whomever was coming towards them. Kyle drew his sword as well jumping in front of Jamie, as Eric turned and also drew out his sword. The boys stood there alert, poised, and ready for combat.

Approaching them, hands held high in a gesture showing they meant no harm, were two Satyrs, Taaggin and Dohgyn. They walked up slowly with smiles on their goat-like faces. Swift lowered and sheathed his sword along with Kyle; Jamie stood there motionless looking on in fascination.

Taaggin said, "Sorry guys, did not mean to startle you. Dohgyn and I came out to keep an eye on you. I thought we would come and introduce ourselves to your new friends Swift."

Swift smiled, "I bet Aunt Faervel put you up to this?"

"She suggested it. We decided to volunteer our services to you," said Dohgyn.

Kyle laughed and added, "How much is this going to cost us?" Knowing all too well that while the Satyr's meant well, they always seemed to need something. Kyle had met them when he first arrived several months ago on the preserve. He had found out that if they could they would help you, but they would want something in return. Kyle had supplied them a few times with some of the things they needed. So he was well aware of what they might ask.

"I'm hurt by that," Taaggin replied, with a slight grin. "You know us too well Kyle."

"Well since you asked, we would love it if you could get some items for us next time you venture to the city," Dohgyn added in.

"I knew it!" said Kyle. "Let me guess ... you're here to help, but if real trouble comes you'll be off in the other direction as well?"

Taaggin grinned, "You really do know us well young master Kyle. However, considering what we know we would not abandon you unless we start losing," winking as he said the last.

"Now speaking of introductions, I am Taaggin and this is Dohgyn, my best friend and comrade," Taaggin added, trying to change subjects.

Swift, pointing first at Eric, then Jamie, said, "This is Eric and Jamie. I am sure you know who they are."

Dohgyn said, "We have heard of Little One, and of Eric as well. Taaggin waved to you guys in the woods remember?"

"Oh I remember seeing you," Eric said. "Not sure where you were going, but I remember you now."

Swift looked at them, knowing they knew more, and with a serious tone asked, "What do you know?"

"Well," Dohgyn started, "We know that Little One is the key to the prophecy, and that he must be protected at all costs. I am sure there is much more, but since the preserve and the fate of the whole universe rests on such a small child, we owe it to ourselves to protect our interests – as well as our fine wine."

This got a laugh out of Swift and Kyle. Eric and Jamie just stood there, not quite sure what was going on. Eric still held his sword in his hand and finally deciding the threat was over put it back into its sheath across his back.

Eric relaxing said, "You guys seem really cool."

"Well Dohgyn, finally someone who knows we are cool!" said Taaggin with a smile.

Swift added in, "Yeah until the heat is on!"

"Ow, that hurt. We would never bail on you guys," said Taaggin feigning a hurt look.

Jamie finally said, "So what is this prophecy? And why I am the key?"

Both Taaggin and Dohgyn looked at Swift, who in turn looked back at Jamie along with everyone else. Swift stood there thinking, not quite sure what to say at that moment since he did not have the full answer. Finally, after a moment, he figured out what to say.

Swift explained, "Remember what the voice spoke of, and the conversation we had back in the house? Taaggin and Dohgyn know of this as well. The prophecy speaks of the one who will bring order, and right that which was wrong when the universe began."

"It speaks of an accident. What that was, we're not sure of, but something threw the universe out of sync and two possibilities came into being: one light and one dark. We are on the side of Light; thanks to your friend Jamie, we know that for sure. The rest is all visions and what others have seen in the stars, auguries, and other means that some of the whimsical beings who have abilities of gleaning information have divined."

"Taaggin, Dohgyn, can you add anything else?" Swift finished.

"You did a good job. Some of our brethren see that the stars are aligning for the final event to take place. We know that there will be others and that somehow all of us on the preserve will be involved. Those details are sketchy; after all we are talking about cryptic messages that some have lost the meaning to over the centuries," Dohgyn said.

"Also some areas of the preserve it is better to not speak of these things; it is safer in some places than others," Dohgyn added as an afterthought.

"This is true. Over the millennia a lot was lost as old ones died," Taaggin added. "We do know that the prophecies are all clear on one thing. That is 'A child shall be the one who will do battle until the end of the task. His name has been written in the stars since the dawn of time.' I think from what your Aunt and Mother said, that Little One is he of whom the prophecy speaks."

Swift said, "You're right, we are about to head up to the house to find out if they have any more information."

"Have you both been granted access?" Swift asked the Satyrs.

Both Satyrs looked at each other while speaking together, "Well you see … about that …"

"I'll take that as meaning you can only follow us to the bridge," Swift added with a grin.

Seeing the puzzled looks on Eric and Jamie's face, Swift thought he had better explain what he was talking about. He and Kyle had only roughly outlined some of the details for the two young boys when they first entered the preserve.

Swift spoke, "Remember how when we first got here we said the whimsical beings had boundaries, and while most can cross into other domains there are areas into which some cannot go?"

Both Eric and Jamie agreed they remembered that part so Swift continued, "One of those boundaries is the land the house and gardens dwell on, to cross onto the property you have to be invited. The Faeries and Brownies are the only beings who pretty much have free roam of the preserve. That includes the area surrounding the house, although only the Brownies can enter the house proper."

Eric said, "So someone knew we were coming and invited us to the house?"

Swift was about to reply when Jamie interrupted, "I know! That was why Pop said, 'Enter of your own free will,' when we walked up the steps! Sorry Swift, I did it again."

Swift laughed, "It is okay Jamie. I know you always got in trouble for that, but I won't ever yell at you. I don't mind and it's important that you know these things. You're also quite correct."

Jamie smiled in response, for once in his life he was not put down for saying something. It made him feel happy and just a little surer of himself. Soon enough he would need all the self-confidence he could get, but for the time being, it was a nice feeling not being hit for opening his mouth.

They set out walking towards the house with the Satyrs following behind. No one spoke along the way, everyone keeping their eyes out for the possibility of danger, which might or might not manifest itself. When they eventually got to the bridge, they parted company with the Satyrs and continued alone on the road towards the house.

Once they got out of sight and earshot, both Swift and Kyle started to chuckle. Eric and Jamie looked on wondering what was so funny.

"I am sorry about that," Swift explained. "Those two are great, always up to something; it always makes us laugh a bit."

"They sure are," said Kyle speaking next. "Protect their fine wine!"

"I do think they're serious about helping, but I still wouldn't trust them if my life was on the line," Swift continued. "And whatever you do, do not drink their wine. It's potent stuff and will leave you feeling really sick the next day."

'So when they say they'll protect me. They're really just looking out for themselves?" Jamie asked.

"Yes, somewhat. But a definite part of it will be to protect their fine wine," Swift started to giggle again as he said it.

Swift continued, "I guess a bit more explanation is needed. Think back to when we first saw Taaggin in the forest. Remember how I said they're frivolous? Well what you have just seen are two of the worst. Those two guys would rather drink their wine, and have you acquire the makings for the wine, than do any actual work. It's like I said, if a fight comes about you can count on Taaggin and Dohgyn to be running in the opposite direction. Although, considering the events to come, they may be a bit more reliable than we had thought.

"Jamie, also know this: there are others here who will protect you far better. You're safe; I know that's a tough thing for you to believe in. I really hope over time you'll learn that we really won't ever hurt you. And maybe, eventually, you'll begin to trust us as well. I know it'll take some time. You've had a short hard life, and have had to grow up fast. Sometimes I think I grew up way too fast as well. Maybe for now we can all just have some fun.

"As Kyle has said, the Satyrs are great friends: if you want to play lacrosse with them it is well worth the time. But be sure to wear plenty of padding, they play rough. There're a lot of beings you're going to start to meet on the preserve. Some will defend you 'til their last breath, others will flee for safety at the first sign of anything, and some feel they're above the affairs of mortals and all other beings.

"Once we check in back home, we can go out and I'll take you to meet some more of our friends and those whom we trust. We can even take the time to see some of the other natural beauty that exists on the preserve and nowhere else in the world. Of course it's not like we charge admission to visit here, everything is open at all times. I think we'll also want to find out what Mom and Aunt Faervel learned from Nyssa. We can also grab some stuff for the days outing," Swift concluded.

The boys arrived at the house a short time later. They found all of the adults sitting out on the patio, enjoying the morning air, chatting away as they came into sight.

"Did you all have a great time?" Gwinis asked, smiling at them. "You all looked so nice and cozy while you were sleeping."

The boys all looked at each other realizing that sometime during the night someone had come and checked on them. Eric and Jamie blushed a bit, while Swift and Kyle smiled, knowing full well that Gwinis and Thondir had probably been the two who come over.

"It was nice. Thank you Aunty, for bringing us the snacks," said Swift.

Kyle spoke next, "Jamie is now officially hooked on your thimbleberry jam, Mom. I had him eating right out of my hand."

Jamie turned three shades of red as he looked down at the ground and dug his foot in the gravel. Eric giggled at the comment, as did Swift. The adults looked on intrigued by what had just been said, looking at Kyle and Jamie, and noting that Jamie had begun to blush.

"And just how does one go about eating right out of your hand Kyle?" Thondir asked with a smile.

It was now Kyle's turn to blush at the question as he replied, "I was feeding him pieces of toast with jam on them. Jamie was enjoying them and even laid his head in my lap," he finished with a smile.

"It is fine Kyle and Jamie, there is nothing wrong with being fed breakfast in bed," Lornen stated. "I wish someone would remember to do that for this old guy sometimes."

Aunt Faervel elbowed Lornen and said, "This old goat always wants to be hand fed!"

Lornen replied feigning a hurt look, "Ouch, I was just trying to help the boys relax."

Jamie, still somewhat unsure, said, "It was actually fun. I've never been treated so nicely before."

"No one will ever treat you badly again. Not as long as I have anything to say about it," Kyle stated with finality in his voice.

Everyone looked at Kyle: the adults, and Swift could both clearly see what was going on, but Eric was not quite certain as to the underlying meaning of Kyle's statement. Jamie looked down, blushing again, still struggling with the idea that someone actually cared about him. He had never known anyone who would do or say something like that about him.

While glancing at Kyle, Jamie sheepishly replied, "Thank you Kyle, nobody has ever stood up for me before."

"I'm with Kyle on this," Eric added as understanding came to him. "Even though I still have some fears like you do Jamie, I really think that we're safe here. It's something else as well, I don't know why but somehow I just know this is a safe place."

Swift spoke next, "I think even though I know you both have your doubts and fears as time goes by you'll find we're all brothers, and we will always protect one another."

"Some a bit more so than others," Swift finished, winking at Kyle.

Even Eric caught the full meaning that time and just smiled, Jamie blushing a little once again. Jamie feeling a little embarrassed started to finally look around. He saw the garden was so full of life; faeries flitting about from flower to flower. Several of the faeries sat admiring themselves in the reflections of the bird bathes set about the property. Still others played music on the wind chimes that hung from the eaves of the patio. The boys all sat down on the steps leading up to the patio and relaxed. The adults then looked at each other and decided that it was time to have a long talk.

"Well boys, we have more information for you. Are you ready to hear what we have found out?" said Lornen.

"Yeah we are," Swift replied, and the rest of the boys turned and faced Lornen.

Lornen continued, "Based on what your Mother and Aunt Faervel found out yesterday, we know that everything will start coming into play, but exactly when we do not know. We do know from what they gleaned from Nyssa, that you are the four who have been chosen to complete the tasks at hand and hopefully set the universe right."

"How do we know we are doing everything right? What's to make sure we don't screw up?" Eric asked.

"We do not know, but I am sure that Jamie's friend will keep us all on the right path. I really do not think we can do anything wrong, the only way I think that could happen is if the other side forced us off course," said Thondir.

"I guess that makes sense. It's confusing, but I think I get it," Eric replied. "Sorry for interrupting, Uncle Lornen."

"I want you to know something, and this goes for all of you boys: please feel free to interrupt, it is a way to learn, and we will not punish you for it. This is not a schoolroom where you must raise your hand first. We understand that you may have questions, and we want you to ask them. The need for asking those questions is more important now than ever before. It is also much better to speak and ask now, than wait until later and possibly forget. Important and vital information could be missed in that instance," said Lornen. "Now one thing we do know, is that there is a magical object we need to find, somehow it ties into this. Exactly what it is or what it does we are not sure. We do know this: only one person can handle it. That person is Jamie. It will respond to his touch, once he touches it no others can. They will be destroyed if they do.

"For now it is unsafe to be handled by anyone. Most people would not even know what it was, other than some trinket to be looked at. The whereabouts of this item is not known, although we have an idea it is in the city someplace.

"There will be much to do, but also you need to enjoy yourselves as well. I really want to make this part clear: the tasks at hand will come when they do, for now learn your crafts; play, have fun, and be the boys that you are," finished Lornen.

Lornen then added, "Jamie, we are finding a special friend for you, and for you too, Eric. Aunt Faervel has been in touch with Fáfnir and Nidhogg, they are going to be back sometime in the near future with a couple of special friends."

"You mean we'll both have dragons? Like Kyle and Swift?" Eric asked excitedly.

"You are right: Eric is very perceptive just like Little One is," Brúndaer said, looking towards Swift.

Swift said, "He is. He just needed a bit of encouragement."

It was now Eric's turn to blush, although it did not last long as he thought about the idea of having his very own dragon. The resulting smile spread quickly on his face and his eyes lit up.

"Sweet!" said Eric although mainly to himself, remembering just how impressive the other dragons were. He wondered what his dragon would look like, and pictured it toasting certain people for him. Then he thought no, that is not what this is about, this is more serious than a little revenge; although it would be fitting.

Jamie sat there quietly, deep in thought, when Kyle spoke softly, "Are you okay Sunshine? You seem to be off somewhere else."

"No I'm fine … I think … I'm just not sure how to say what I need to," Jamie replied.

"Just take you time Little One, you can say or ask anything," Thondir replied.

"It's, well we're in danger right? I mean I think I have figured something out. I know that gang in the alley wanted me; they didn't really care about the others. They wanted me! And I know if they'd gotten me I would be dead. So I'm not safe for anyone to be near; I put you all in danger if you're close to me. So maybe I should just go, so then you won't be hurt. I'd feel bad if you got hurt because of me," Jamie said with a sadness in his voice.

"Little One, yes you are in danger, and from what we can tell we all are in danger as well. It is important that we protect you above all else. We need to keep you safe so you can complete the task. The way we understand it, is if this event does not happen, then everything, all the troubles in the universe, will keep repeating themselves. We will always be here to protect you, and you will remain safe with us," explained Lornen.

"There are some bad times ahead, but if we all can stick together in this, we can look for the clues that we need to help us win this battle. In times past Dark has won and held on for long periods of time. A good example in recent history is World War 2. Some say it was just the single men at the top of this or that country, but that is not true – it was also a lot of the people under them. Some even think that it was the ones underneath who were pulling a lot of the strings, but is also wrong – it was actually all of them working together. We also know that some groups were hunting for any ancient religious artifacts they could find thinking that this would strengthen their power. We also know that they had a strong and powerful cult which was controlled by one of the greater demons. It took years and years of battle and hardship, only some of which was visible to humanity. Most of mankind is not aware of the work we do in the background; that remains hidden from them.

"We have been present in all the great wars throughout history. This feels like the same events happening once again. Until we can finish this it will just continue and the chaos will go on. Right now we do not know who is on the other side," Lornen concluded.

"I have a question," Eric started, "What is the difference between Light and Dark or Good and Evil."

Thondir began, "That is a very good question, but it would take a long time to explain. The short version is we look at whimsical beings as innately Light or Dark. They do not have the morals of humans: you for example can choose to be good or evil. It cannot be forced upon you unless it is through brainwashing, which several religious cults do. Most mortals are inherently good, there are some however who choose to be evil, and then there are some who by no choice of their own were born evil."

Aunt Faervel added, "There is so much to it, we could explain it for hours. I think the points we need to make for now are simple. I also think Jamie is getting more nervous as we sit here not answering his question. Jamie, you will be safe with us and in the fact that you have three great protectors in your brothers. You will also not be alone if you happen to have to travel off the preserve. Someone will always be with you, and the protectors will be there as well."

Kyle, drawing his sword halfway out of its scabbard added in a menacing voice, "And they'd have to get through me first."

The way Kyle spoke those words made Jamie realize that Kyle would do anything for him, even as far as giving up his life for him. While Jamie did not fully understand everything that the elders were speaking of, he knew that he could never let Kyle do that. No matter the sacrifice required, Jamie knew that above all other things that he would never let Kyle be hurt. The germ of an idea was forming in his head. It scared him, but it seemed to the young boy that it might be the only way that Kyle could be kept safe. He would have to decide soon … before it was too late.

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