Chapter 10: Max

The trio rode for the remainder of the day, reaching a seemingly safe clearing where Reks thought it'd be best to make camp. The trailing edges of the sun's disk was already disappearing below the horizon. It was the most beautiful sunset Max had ever seen in his eighteen years of life, and for just a moment he had forgotten the fact that he was stuck in some strange world where there were wolfs as big as a man and a white tiger that had gotten into his mind god knows how. But that bliss lasted for just a second, for how could he forget the harsh reality: That he was running away from some supernaturally powerful man capable of immobilizing someone by just been looked upon? That Judge was no ordinary man, Max knew, but what was ordinary in Altia anyways?

After making camp, Val set out to hunt for some food into the nearby woods, while Reks stayed behind preparing the campfire with Max. "So the Judge," Max said, watching as Reks piled up kindling as firewood. "Whats his deal anyways? What does he do, protect the king or something?"

"No." Reks said, spinning the spindle rapidly between his hands. "The protection of our King falls to the Knight's Order. The Judges are a neutral party which-"

"Wait, so there's more than one!?"

Reks nodded. "Nine to be exact, including the Judgemaster himself." There was a small spark beneath the spindle and flame burst into life, already growing, feeding off of the dry leaves first and then spreading to the more thicker branches. "They are in compulsory by our Creators to preserve the balance."Reks continued. "To conserve Altia they defend the Altian people, and those brave enough to threaten or harm this world, will be forced to face their full judgement."

"They must be pretty damn strong then." Max guessed, remembering what had happened at Vahall. How his body had frozen in pure fear. Fear of what? He wondered, for he could not remember the exact feeling.

"They are formidable, yes." Reks said. The Judge thing had Max asking more questions: What were they like? What were they capable of? And many more questions, some of which Reks didn't know the answers to. Of course, Max had other questions not regarding the Judges. But Reks couldn't answer all of them. As far as Alan knew, Reks was just a mercenary.  "I know of someone who can help you remember, Max." Reks added. "A Seer."

"You're going to keep helping me?" Max obviously had no idea what a Seer was, but he didn't dare ask either way. The last thing he wanted was to bombard Reks with more questions. Besides, eventually he will learn what a Seer is, either on his own or when Reks decides to explain. Max had to be patient. Eventually he will have answers. He will learn about Altia and it's people. He had no other choice.

"Got nothing else to do anyway." Reks replied, smiling.


Val, who had heard the last bit of conversation, returned from the hunt with a dead rabbit on one hand and a fox on the other. She crouched beside the campfire. "We're going to see a Seer?" She asked Reks, after shooting a hateful gaze at Max. Reks nodded and added: "The one in Scintio, yes."

Val glared at Max, but said nothing. She simply started skinning the animals silently. Reks helped her while Max watched. When they finished, they cooked the meat and offered some to Max. He was against tasting it at first, but his stomach urged him otherwise. Surprisingly enough, the meat tasted good. It was either that or the fact that he was hungry as hell. Either way, he ate and drank and it felt great.

Hours later, Val extinguished the fire and prepared her bed. She glared at Max one last time before turning and closing her eyes. "Why does she hate me?" Max whispered to Reks a few minutes later.

"She doesn't hate you." Reks replied, and left it at that. Then he added: "Get some rest. Scintio is quite far from here and the road is not exactly safe."

Max didn't press the issue. He simply laid back and stared at the night's sky. The stars were bigger and brighter in Altia than they were on Earth. Maybe it was because of the lack of light. Maybe not. It didn't matter.

Max thought about home that night. He thought about his family. What were they doing now? He wondered. What must they be thinking of him now that he had vanish from the face of the Earth, much like his sister had wished many times when they were little? He thought about Mia then. Although she and him had their differences, he loved his big sister and he knew she loved him. He thought about all these things, meaningless now really since he probably wont see his family or friends again.

He fell asleep with one question in his mind. "What if?"

The End

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