Ombra

‘Youth is easily deceived because it is quick to hope.’

-Aristotle.

Existing in the same time and place as both Kali and Lucius, and becoming pals with the latter, this young male was sociable, sly, and manipulative. Yet he behaved as though he was out of touch with the modern world, and he had an air of mystery to him which many took for danger. He was called Jude Overlander. As it was, during his brief tenure in the English kingdom, Jude had taken the lovestruck Lucius under his wing, acting as a sounding board, often giving advice, which tended to be unrewarding and mostly unsound. Jude’s motives for this, were clearly opaque and as obscure as the nose on his face.  

Although unannounced, he invited the tragic young man into his residence, ready to give much needed consultation in regards to his crush.

“What happened today?”

“It was awful,” moaned Lucius.

“That much I had discerned for myself, thank you,” noted Jude, on account of  his friend’s dismay.

Lucius made himself comfortable by collapsing into the nearest armchair in the parlour, and continued to express his frustration with his own inaction.

“I was this close to kissing Kali,” Lucius complained, but adding no reference for Jude, leading him to jest and speculate. “I didn’t see the hand gesture to go with that, so can I assume you were really far away from her?”

“No, Jude. We were dancing arm in arm, hand in hand, and we each had stepped in close, so that we were noses apart...”

“Did she not reciprocate?”

“I could have sworn I saw a glint in her eye, however instantaneous it may have been, and that she and I shared a deep moment of passion.”

Had Lucius looked up, he would have noticed Jude was waiting for a monologue; that his mind was far away. When silence filled the room, however Jude’s consultive brain returned to fray. “What happened then?”

“My spine withered away!” Lucius declared as though Jude should have known.

“So what do you want from me?”

After a short pause, Lucius turned to his friend, “I could use your advice?”

Jude grinned a knowing grin, as if Lucius’ most recent comment was his cue; was what he had been waiting for since the moment he arrived, but he treated such words as though they had little importance or emphasis to him, so with cunning he replied, “Oh not again, Lucius!”

“No please, I need your help, Jude. What should I do?” Lucius begged.

“Well, what have you offered her father in exchange?”

“What?” Lucius gasped.

“It’s a simple question.”

“Of course I have not! We don’t live in the past anymore!”

“Right! Of course!” Jude laughed, as though he were only joking, “so if buying her love is out of the question, then perhaps you should instead buy some courage?”

“Who on earth could sell me purpose? This idea of yours, does not encourage"”

“My friend,” interrupted Jude, “don’t look like that, I never meant to be rude, but I know a place; I know of one, who might help you.”

“Where is this place?” Lucius asked intrigued.

With a mysterious leer, Jude replied, “Follow me.”

***

The light of the sun was fading fast, and Jude had brought Lucius to a wood temperate, and while he accompanied, he left him umbecast, and by a cool breeze beset. Lucius asked, “How much further?”

Unlike the day, the night was coarse, the eve was hallowed and it was cold, around the trees, there’d be unsettlement, something paramount would soon unfold.

Jude looked back as he led them through, waving Lucius over. Then he looked about his location, round the forest floor, up to the heavens, for all Lucius knew, he was measuring and navigating with the moon and constellations.

Whatever starsigns Jude was reading, Lucius couldn’t tell, and as he waited in silence, Jude began to chuckle; some revelation had presented itself.

“Here it is?”

“Where is what?” Lucius cried, throwing his arms into the air.

“A bunker. Beneath our feet.”

Now Lucius’ curiosity began to extend to caution, and he had to ask, “What is going on here, Jude?”

With a long face of solemnity, Jude whispered, “Now Lucius… I must swear you to secrecy.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You’re about to, but first you must give me your word of honour, to never tell a soul, and remain prudent and quiet as ever, in regards to what I am about to tell.”

“Fine.”

“You must promise, Lucius. Swear it.”

“I vow, that nothing confidential shall pass my lips.”

Satisfied by Lucius’ answer, Jude knelt to the ground, brushing away a thick layer of leaves, more wet and moldy, under every ply, but instead of solid forest floor, he exposed a large rusted metal door. Lucius had a look of surprise, and then the door disclosed, seemingly of its own accord. Beneath their feet, extended hundreds of lost tunnels in every direction for miles, and it all began with the vertical shaft descending into darkness.

“What’s down there?” queried Lucius, taking a step back from the hole.

“Your backbone, Lucius. Your courage.”

“And you expect me to wander around down there until I find it?”

Now Jude stepped forward, until he was abreast, gripping Lucius tightly by his collar. Lucius nearly lost his balance, and flailed back, so as not to fall in. For the first time, Lucius tried to deduce, to what end Jude may have to justify the means of befriending him, while simultaneously, he entertained a thought, however badly it sat in his stomach, and however briefly it did, that Jude lured him to this place in order to throw him deep into this well. But then Jude said into his ear, as if someone was listening, “At the bottom of this staircase is the atrium, an antechamber. In that room there is a pentacle. Under no circumstances are you to cross it. Understand?”

“What’s down there, Jude?”

In agitation, Jude vented his angry breath, but he resisted shouting, “I already told you!” He calmed down, and returned to his whisper, while keeping a grip of Jude’s shirt, “You said you love Kali?”

“I do!”

“I remember you telling me. But your time is running out, Lucius. If you cannot rise above your fear of jeopardizing your friendship, then it will never be more than that.”

Although he was terrified, Lucius was inclined to agree with his ‘friend.’ He acquiesced that what he said was truth, and although he had known so for a long time, it only seemed to be enlightening now. He had a suspicion that he would indeed find his courage down there, whether or not he was worthy of taking it. “Something is down there?”

Jude nodded in agreement.

“Do I look for it?”

“It will come to you.”

Lucius brought an eye to the ladder, yet still with misgivings. “Who are you?

He refused to answer, but he told him the coy remark Lucius expected him to say, “You know who I am. I’m Jude Overlander.”

Before Lucius braved the well, Jude gave him one last piece of advice, “When you get to the bottom, you will be alone mostly, unless you say the proper invocation. Listen closely.”

The End

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