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My question begged for a response. Chak finally spoke.
“I think it means you’re ready to use that orb,” said Chak, seriously.
“What do you mean? I thought it was dangerous for a human to use an Agnoscian Orb,” I said.
“It’s a powerful thing, but none of us realized that this is your orb. Legends and myths float around the Syllogy about Agnoscian Orbs being linked with specific people, but I always thought it was a fairy tale. But here’s the proof, this is your orb! You have to use it! Use it to figure out where the garden is. Maybe something will happen!” Chak was getting more excited as he talked.
“But what if something bad happens?”
“It won’t! Trust me,” he said.
I glanced unconvinced at the sand again and reread the message. Then something struck me. It was written in Greek just for me. I looked at the Agnoscian Orb, then at Chak, then at Pathena, and knelt back down to write in the sand.
“Chak, What was it that the Higher-ups told you would be my greatest strength?”
“Your ignorance,” said Chak quickly, obviously perturbed that I hadn’t yet used the orb.
I reached forward and wrote the word ignorance in the sand, but I wrote it in the language I knew, the language I had grown up with, Greek.
Agnoia. One can’t help but see the similarities. Agnoscian Orb, or an orb of ignorance. My ignorance. My orb. The Higher-ups had told me from the beginning, but I simply couldn’t see it. This orb would be my greatest strength. It was the key to finding the garden and to planting this seed.
I nodded slowly, picked up the orb, lined my fingers up with the almost imperceptible circles along the edges and took a deep breath.
“My ignorance will light the way,” I whispered the words Chak had told me on my first day in the Syllogy, and then plunged my fingers into the sides of the Orb.
Suddenly the room was full of light. The cold feeling I had experienced at the contest of the Courageous Danes returned to my hands. It was exhilarating. I felt completely aware and in control of my surroundings. I could see in every direction, the floor was lit up, and everything was bright. Slowly it dawned on me that we were inside a crystal jungle.
There were beautiful jewels everywhere. Stunning gems were arranged around us in intricate and delicate plant-like patterns. The plants in this garden were made of crystals.
We had found Mendrax’s garden; we had been standing in the middle of it. We just needed the orb to light the way.
Pathena reached forward and tried to pull a little red crystal leaf off one of the plants. Just as she touched it, the actions all reversed themselves and she was suddenly two steps away just about to reach forward and touch the leaf again. Again she stepped forward and touched the leaf. Again she was back where she had started. Chak reached forward and grabbed her during the third cycle to break the chain.
“It’s best to keep your hands to yourself in a place like this,” he said seriously. Nothing more needed to be said on the subject.
I led the way through the jungle, dodging low-hanging crystal leaves and being careful to step over large jeweled roots that protruded from the ground.
Ahead and on the left there was what looked like a big yellow-gold crystalline willow tree. Long delicate vines hung to the ground. It had the most beautiful looking fruit on its branches, and I felt the urge to investigate.
I walked over to the golden tree; Chak and Pathena followed. I wanted with everything in me to taste the fruit hanging before me. My mouth watered, but as I extracted my hand from the Orb, the room went dark and the tree disappeared. Quickly I re-immersed my hand and the light returned.
“What do you think you’re doing Nick?” said Chak sternly.
“I want to taste this fruit,” I said seriously, almost in a trance.
“Well don’t. Who knows what will happen?” he said.
“Do you know?” I asked.
“No, I don’t. I don’t know why you’re so fixated either.”
“I can’t explain it. I just want to taste it.” I glanced at Pathena. She had the same longing look on her face as I did. She reached out her hand to grab the fruit. Suddenly, against my will, I pulled my own hand out of the orb, plunging us into darkness once again.
“Hey! Why’d you do that?” Pathena yelled into the black.
“I don’t know. I didn’t want to. I had to.”
I had experienced this in The Settlement. The same unconscious movements were controlling me, and I knew we would not be able to taste the fruit on that golden tree. It wouldn’t matter what we did, we would never be able to reach out and touch that beautiful fruit.
With that realization, I turned around and instructed Pathena to do the same. Once done, I put my hand back in the orb and the light returned. We left the tree there, but the longing to taste that golden fruit has never left me.
As we made our way through the garden we encountered other odd little plants, but none so distinct as that golden yellow tree. Then we found what we were looking for.
After fifteen minutes of wandering through the maze of gemstones we were finally standing in front of the object of our quest. Planted before us was a single, sickly, purple tree. It shimmered in the light, and its crystal leaves drooped. I didn’t know purple gemstones could look soft and wilted until I saw this tree. I was so mesmerized by it that I extracted my hands from the orb. The room went dark again, except for a single beam of light that illuminated the purple tree. This was it. This was where I needed to plant the seed. I looked at Chak in the light of the tree and in the soft glow that was coming from his body. He started to take off the backpack nodding at me knowingly.
Then, out of nowhere, a loud voice yelled, “Freeze!”
Chak stopped moving.
I looked around, but didn’t see anything. The voice spoke again.
“Nicholas Alexander. It’s nice to finally meet you. Welcome to my garden.”
Want to keep reading? Go to the next section! >>> “Chapter 27. Part 1.”