Chapter 3




andon heard someone singing in the distance, soft and sweet. That voice had drifted in and out of his dreams, but he was never sure if he was really hearing it. Now he was sure someone was singing.

            Slowly, he became aware of the present and the singing grew louder. He felt as though he had a brick in his head and his whole body ached. Was it just him or was it really hot in here? He tightened his grip experimentally and found that someone was holding his hand. The hand was soft and smaller than his, but his head hurt too much to wonder who it belonged to. Finally he concluded that the singer must be the owner. Her voice was pretty and soothing. Who could own such an angelic voice?

            Slowly, he opened his eyes.

            Chelsea looked startled when he awoke and immediately stopped singing. He wondered vaguely why she was here.

            "Your awake!" she exclaimed. "Ben! He's awake!" Landon's head pounded, and he tried to find his voice. "Don't yell," he croaked. "It hurts." She blushed and realized she was still holding his hand, which made her blush even harder. Quickly, she pulled her hand away, pretending to smooth her skirts. He wished she hadn't.

            Uncle Ben appeared in the doorway and smiled jovially. "Landon! Welcome back!" he said. Landon blinked as his wits came back to him. How long had he been out? He voiced his question and nearly choked at the answer.

            "Five days! You stayed here the whole time, Chelsea? I hardly even know you!" He rasped. He didn't know why, but he was glad she did.

            She nodded and said, "I couldn't just leave you alone with Ben, could I? Besides, I didn't have much of a choice. You could hardly even get on your horse."

            It was Landon's turn to blush.

            "Won't the circus leave without you?" he asked.

            She nodded and said, "I'll catch up with them later, besides, I was going to leave it sooner or later. How do you feel?" For a response he felt something emerge up his throat. Chelsea must have seen the look on his face because she quickly handed him a pot. He threw up more than he remembered eating, which was very embarrassing. When he was done, he was grateful to find Chelsea fiddling with her dress and pretending she didn't notice.

            "How do you feel?" she repeated. Landon thought for a moment and said, "Horrible, but the puking helped." She smiled and Landon couldn't help but stare. She was even more beautiful when she was happy.

            There was a silence and Uncle Ben said, "Well, if I've learned anything I think you should have lunch then get some rest. You must be starving." Landon was surprised to find that he was right. He was famished. He had only ever been this hungry before when Mark had gotten him sent to his room without supper—after they'd put the chickens back where they belonged.

            He nodded and saw the sunlight streaming through the window, calling to him. There had hardly been a time when he didn't long for the outdoors, but now that he felt his own lack of exercise he wanted to jump up and out the window. The only problem was he thought he might knock himself out if he tried to stand, much less jump. Abandoning the notion, he settled himself on the bed and watched Uncle Ben leave to get his meal. It was just him and Chelsea.

            There was another silence.

            He wanted to ask her so many questions, but he couldn't bring himself to speak. Why had she stayed? She had told him, but he sensed there was something else. Why had she been with the circus if she wasn't a performer? Why was she alone? Who was she? Why had she been singing? His mother had sung to him when he had gotten sick or hurt. Maybe Chelsea was doing the same?

            He was about to ask her when she said, "I was worried about you." Landon wondered why that might be. Then he remembered that she had a weakness for helping things. Blushing for reasons he couldn't begin to guess, she added, "I mean, it's only natural to be worried. I hardly know you anyway. I have no idea what kind of person you are. You could be a psycho maniac or something. Or maybe...." She stopped and flushed even redder. Landon thought she sounded as though she was trying to convince herself. "I'm still sane. At least, I hope I am," he joked. She seemed to relax a little. "As do I," she replied.


Landon recovered quickly, so by the next day he was able to go outside and sit down. By midday, he felt almost as good as ever.

            He spent most of his recovery time thinking about his fever dreams.

            He knew they weren't just dreams. They were memories that had not resurfaced since the day his parents died. He had pushed them down to the corner of his mind, but the fever had released them, and he saw things he had never remembered before.

            There had been a man there. He had lead the raiding party. But the people had been wearing black masks! He had always been told that the Saldians had killed them, but these people had been Adrian too. Was all he had been told a lie? Or was it all just a fever dream?

            And he had killed the man with something beyond his comprehension.

            Trying to divert himself from the hate and confusion he felt, Landon focused on his surroundings. It had rained last night and the dirt had turned to mud so he left muddy tracks as he trudged about. The sky was still gray, but traces of spring sunlight peeked through the clouds. The air smelled fresh and clean. It was beautiful.

            From the forest emerged Chelsea carrying a pail of water from a nearby stream. She saw him stop and came closer. Dropping the bucket, she turned to face him. "How are you feeling?" she asked. Landon was beginning to hate that question. She asked him the same thing every time she saw him. "Splendid," he retorted. "Absolutely wonderful."

            She pretended as though she didn't hear the sarcasm. "Good. Then I should be leaving tomorrow," she announced. His heart sank. He knew she would have to go, but so soon? He had been hoping to get to know her better. His sadness turned to the anger he had been retaining for so long. How could she just waltz in here, save his life—not once, but twice!— then leave without any explanation?

            "Fine," he snapped. He knew that she hadn't done anything wrong, but he couldn't hold it in any longer. "Leave, if you want. Your work here is done."

            Her chin lifted indignantly, and her expression turned from hurt to anger. "Fine, then I will! If you are going to be ungrateful, then I won't tolerate your company any longer than I must!" she said heatedly. Her words stung, but Landon knew that he deserved it. He didn't care.

            Anger that he had been holding so tightly came out all at once as he shouted, "No one asked you to! I could have coped by myself anyway."

            Her eyes seemed to light with fiery anger. "Coped? Without me you would be dead, you half-brained squirrel!" In spite of himself, he began laughing. "Squirrel? I guess you can't find anything stupider than that. But still, a squirrel?" His laughter was cut short when she hurled a thick glob of mud at him.

            Wiping mud from his face, he glared at Chelsea as she laughed hysterically at her own success. So that was how she wanted to play it? Scooping up a handful of mud, he aimed carefully and threw it. She gasped as mud splattered all down her dress and in her hair. "You!" she growled as she picked up a mud ball. "You insufferable little mule!" She slung it at him and grabbed more when he dodged and threw some back.

            The mud fight ended with the both of them laughing and completely caked in thick gooey mud.

            "I don't think I have ever been this dirty before," Chelsea chuckled as she wiped mud from her eyes. Both of them were brown from head to toe. "Really?" he snickered. "Mark has gotten me pretty dirty before. But you do look like a mud monster." Sitting down and laughing, they totally forgot that they were supposed to be angry.

            "We need to wash up," she observed. Landon agreed. "There is a lake a little ways out. You can wash there," he told her. "I'll take the creek. It would be too long to fill the tub." She nodded and stood. He watched her go and washed off, clothes and all. When he was done he returned home, thinking hard.

            Now left to his own devices, his thoughts drifted to his fever dreams. One thing stuck out especially in his mind. His parents had grown flowers and made water like it was nothing. He had only heard of that kind of thing in stories.....about Stormsingers. Could his parents have been Stormsingers? It seemed so impossible. Could it just have been a fever dream? It couldn't be. The memories had been so clear. Even now that he thought about it he remembered them doing all sorts of things like that. Goodness! David and Merilee Bren had been Stormsingers! There were very few Stormsingers at a time, usually only one or two of each type. And his parents had been two of those. Was that why the Blackmasks had killed them?

            Then he remembered how he'd killed their leader. Wind.

            Closing his eyes, he tried to the feel the wind around him and realized that he could. He could feel it swirl and flow just like he had in the tree, except this time he knew it wasn't his imagination. He opened his eyes and was pleased to find that he could still feel it. Trying to recall what he had done, Landon directed the wind at the pail Chelsea had left. He could control it. At first the wind was not strong enough, then it was too strong and the bucket toppled over and began to skip on the ground like a rock skipping on water. It felt good to twist the wind and flip the bucket around. It felt so natural that he wondered more if he had been doing this whole life than what he was doing.

            Without warning, a man all garbed in black leapt out in front of him and pulled out a knife, eyes gleaming maliciously behind a black mask. Landon jumped to his feet just as another man followed and blasted the first one with wind. In his moment of confusion, Landon kicked him between the legs and the man cried out in pain, dropping the knife. Landon kicked him in the head and the man fell, unconscious. The second one snarled and lunged at him. He grappled with him as best as he could, but the other man was stronger. He was losing.

            The large man was so close he could smell his nasty breath. No matter how hard Landon fought, the Blackmask—that must be what he was—bested him. He could feel his strength draining and knew he couldn't hold him off much longer.

            Suddenly, the man jerked and went limp. Pushing the unconscious man from on top of him, he looked up to see Uncle Ben standing there with a shovel raised in his hands. Gasping for breath, Landon gaped at his uncle who seemed to be inspecting the crime scene. "Are you okay?" Uncle Ben asked, looking troubled. Landon was in a little bit of a shock, but he told him he was okay.

            He stared down at the men who had just tried to kill him and shuttered. Why?

            When Uncle Ben finished with the thugs, he turned to him and said, "Come inside. We need to talk." Hoping to get some answers, Landon followed.

            Sitting down at the dinner table, he waited as Uncle Ben stroked Claudette, the feisty gray cat that didn't like him very much. He appeared to be thinking deeply, and whatever that was it was troubling him greatly.

             After a long moment Uncle Ben said, "How long have you been doing it?" Landon considered playing dumb and asking what he was talking about, but something told him Ben already knew. "I just discovered it today," he replied quietly. Ben nodded solemnly.

            "I was wondering when this day would come. Dreading it, actually. I have grown so attached to you, and now you have to go. I guess I knew the time would come eventually." Landon had to leave? What was he talking about? Uncle Ben must have sensed his confusion, because he sighed sadly and said, "I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner, Landon, I really am. I didn't want you to do anything rash."

            "Uncle Ben, what are you saying?" Landon pleaded. Ben looked so pained that he almost regretted asking.

            "Landon, I am not your uncle. I was your parent's most trusted friend. They asked me to be your godfather in case anything happened to them. They were so worried that Carlon would find them and he did. Your parents were David and Merilee Evers. You are Landon Evers, son of the greatest Stormsingers in history."

            It took a moment for Ben's words to sink in. He felt too stunned to speak. Part of him wanted to believe that Ben had rocks in his brain, but deep down inside he knew it was true. His parents had defeated the wicked King Carlon, and he had killed them. Then who had killed Carlon? Then he remembered the man he had killed.....Oh, goodness! I killed the legendary King Carlon!

            "That you did, boy," Ben affirmed. Landon had not realized he had spoken aloud. He was an Evers!

            Landon had so many questions, but he didn't know where to start. He couldn't have gotten a word out anyway. He could hardly breath. He thought he might sick up again when Ben said, "Landon? Are you okay? You look as white as a ghost."

            Struggling to keep his emotions in check, he croaked, "Fine. It's just..."

            "Overwhelming, I know. You have reason to hate me for not telling you before, but I hope someday you will forgive me," Ben said sadly. Landon did feel somewhat angry at him, but he couldn't bear seeing him so miserable. His whole life he had been kept from the truth and yet still he couldn't blame Ben.

            "You're still Uncle Ben to me," Landon reassured weakly. He meant it.

            Ben smiled feebly and he drew a long breath. "Your parents loved you very much. They retired from saving the world to protect you."

            "I know," was all Landon said.

            Suddenly, Ben stood and told him to follow. "Your father wanted you to have this when you were old enough, but I haven't seen the need for it until now. They must have found you, so you need all the help you can get." Landon stopped, confused, and asked, "Who has found me?"

            "The Blackmasks, of course."

            Eyes wide, Landon trotted to catch up. They were heading towards the shed. He wanted to ask why they were coming here at a time like this, but decided that he would find out soon enough.

            Ben pulled out a dusty old crate and pried the lid off to reveal a bundle of old moth-eaten cloth. He removed the wrappings as carefully as if he were handling a baby. Something long and dark began to reveal itself as he pulled off the last of the rags. Landon couldn't help but gape. Lifting the sheathed sword from the box, Ben laid it down delicately between them. All he could see was the hilt and even that was amazing. It was dark blue with hints of silver where wind was engraved in elaborate designs and a silver stone seemed to be swirling into eternity where the guard and the grip met. Marveling at the design, he pulled the sword out of its sheath and picked it up. It felt perfect in his hands. The blade was just as spectacular as the hilt. The silver blade shined like it was brand new and the edges looked so sharp Landon thought he might cut himself just looking at it. It was the most beautiful sword he had ever seen.

            "Your father had it made as soon as you showed signs of being a Windsinger," Ben's words seem to strike him anew. He was a Windsinger. "He called it Tempest. The finest storm-forged sword I have ever seen, if I do say so myself."

            "Tempest," Landon repeated. It fit.

            "Storm-forged?" he asked. Ben put on one of those I-remember-when-I-was-younger looks and replied, "A special way to make a sword. Only the finest swords are storm-forged. To make one, all of the Stormsingers come together and use their powers to form the sword with precision that no average blacksmith could accomplish. The sword is formed into perfection so it takes a great amount of determination to dent it. Storm-forged weapons are stronger and sharper and extremely rare."

            Taking one last look at his sword, he sheathed it and buckled it around his waist, just in case. Ben began to leave, then stopped in the doorway when Landon said, "I have to go to the Song Palace, don't I." It was hardly a question, but Ben responded, "Yes. You can't go through the mountains—too dangerous. The best way is to go through Aroth. I think Chelsea mentioned she was going there too. Maybe you can accompany her. Oh, and I'd advise you not to tell anyone who you are unless you must. You must not attract attention."

            He left Landon alone.

            Landon just sat there for a moment and tried to get his thoughts in line. Yesterday he had been a normal farm boy that had no experience with girls, and now he was Landon Evers who killed the man mothers tell their children about to scare them into being good. Not to mention he still had no experience with girls.  His world had been turned upside-down.

            Running a hand through his hair, he started walking. It was hardly a surprise when he found himself at the stables. Petting Wildfire's nose, he went over everything he had just learned to his horse. Wildfire whinnied and nipped him playfully, looking for a treat. He just laughed and continued talking as if the horse understood what he was saying. Wildfire was the only one he could tell everything to.

            When he finished confiding in his horse, he felt a little better. Saying it out loud seemed to help the information sink in. He sank down to the floor and sighed. It was all so unreal.

            Taking out Tempest, he ran his finger along the edge and gasped. His finger was bleeding at the slightest touch. Impressive. Mark would be so jealous, Landon thought ruefully. Then he realized he might never see Mark again. The notion cut Landon to the core. He might never see old Ben or get attacked by a flock of crazy girls ever again. He would even miss caring for the animals. Well, a little, anyway.

            His eyes brimmed with tears as he thought about the life he was leaving behind. But he wouldn't let them fall. Maybe this was the start of a new adventure.

            "Impressive sword," said a female voice. Landon nearly jumped out of his skin.

            "Sorry if I scared you," Chelsea apologized from the doorway. "Ben told me I would find you here."

            "No, no. You're fine." Landon was glad she had come. He contemplated telling her who he was, but decided not to. Ben had told him not to tell anyone, and she could be a spy for all he knew. He seriously doubted it though.

            Chelsea seemed to sense the mood. She said nothing as she sat down next to him. Leaning his head back against the wall, he stared straight ahead. He felt more relaxed with her here.

            A long moment of silence followed and he said, "My whole life I was just Landon Bren, the farm boy. Now I'm not so sure anymore."

            "What do you mean?"

            He wanted to tell her, but Ben's warning echoed in his head. Something else Ben had told him also reminded him of something. "Are you going to Aroth?" She blinked at the sudden change of subject, then nodded.

            "I need to come with you, if you will let me."

            His request must have caught her off guard, because she studied him before answering. "I guess. Are you sure you really want to? You don't sound too enthusiastic." He turned to look at her. Her deep blue eyes were filled with concern. She really cared about him, and Landon was grateful that he would make the journey with her and not alone. Had it been more than chance that brought them together?

            "I must," he said. He could hear the pain in his own voice. "I wish I could tell you why, Chelsea, I really do, but I have to go."

            He expected her to be suspicious and change her mind, but instead she brushed his hair out of his face and said, "I understand how you feel, and I trust you. I can't tell you why I'm going either, so that makes us even. I hope you can trust me too."

            "I do," he said, and he meant it.

            She squeezed his hand and smiled. "Good. Now we'd better get ready."


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