Protector of the Zuries – 1/4
Ayron shut his eyes tightly and prayed in his heart. My God, please help me. Please take me to my mother’s people. His body felt light against the cold air pushing against it, and the loud swooshing sound of the wind brushed against his ears. After a few seconds of eternity, his body started to move in a different direction, held up by something warm and soft.
What’s happening? Did I hit the ocean already? But it’s not wet and cold. Ayron nuzzled his face against the warm and soft surface. This must be my bed at home! I just had a bad dream. He rolled around and hugged his warm soft bed. My blanket must have fallen off. It happens often when I have nightmares. Mother and father looked so sad! I don’t want to get up yet. I want to sleep a little longer and have a nice dream.
“Jimmy, could you please close the window? It’s a bit chilly in here.” A chilly breeze brushed against Ayron’s face. He was afraid to open his eyes, so he pictured his room in his mind. It must be close to midday by now, judging by the brightness of the sun. Why has no one come to get me yet? Perhaps Jimmy didn’t hear me. He raised his voice and called again, “Jimmy, are you there? Could you please close the window?”
“My name is not Jimmy!” A voice thundered beneath him, “I am the legendary Phoenix, the protector of the Zuries.”
Ayron jolted out of his warm bed. “What?” He opened his eyes abruptly and saw the world moving below him, surrounded by a red orange fire. What’s going on? I’m sitting on top of a huge burning flame in mid-air. Is this another dream? “Did you say you are the Phoenix? I’ve only read about you in story books!”
“Hahahahaha!” The Phoenix let out a laugh that sounded like a rumbling thunder. “I am glad people haven’t completely lost their imagination!”
“You can’t be real. I’m only dreaming.”
“This is certainly not a dream!” The Phoenix explained, “You fell from a great height and I was summoned to save you.”
“You heard my prayer?” Ayron could hardly believe it.
“No, the Firestone on your dagger called out to me.”
“The Firestone?” Ayron glanced at the dagger sitting in its leather sheath. “But stones can’t speak.”
“Hahaha!” The Phoenix chuckled. “Of course they can! All the stones in the mountains sing praises to God all day! This one is special though, because it’s made from the same piece of sun dust as me.”
“What? What’s sun dust?”
“Look, she is trying to speak to you!”
“I don’t hear anything!”
“Put your hand over it.”
“It’s warm like a gentle fire.” Ayron placed his hands over the hilt of the dagger.
“The first king of the Zuries chiselled it in the Valley of Tears when it was still hot like burning fire! His descendants have since tamed it to obey its master.”
“Is it possible to tame a stone?”
“Oh, very much so! She knows her rightful masters well and would never obey a stranger.”
“I still can’t hear it.” Ayron pressed the dagger against his ear.
“Haha, that’s because you must listen with your heart, Prince Ayron.”
“Listen with my heart?” Ayron thought about it for a moment. “How do you know my name?”
“I have been the Protector of the Zuries people for as long as they have been around! I know the name of every Prince when he is born.” The Phoenix answered proudly.
“But I’m a Prince of Orr.” Ayron was puzzled. “The Zuries are my mother’s people.”
“She was a Princess of the Zuries, which makes a Prince of the Zuries.”
“But isn’t the crown Prince the eldest son of the king? Wouldn’t that be my mother’s elder brother?”
“That is usually the case, but the situation with your grandfather is rather unique. You will understand when you see him.” The Phoenix continued. “Do you see the Valley below us? That’s the Valley of Gor, and the Cliff of Death is to our right.”
“Wow! I didn’t know the Cliff of Death was so beautiful! I had never seen it from my father’s kingdom.” Ayron marvelled at the deep red sedimentary structure that descended all the way down to the marshland below. The white fluffy clouds hurried along next to him like flocks of sheep.
“God made all things beautiful, but men have misused them. The marshland below us is called the Field of Ecstasy, because the waters in its ponds are thought to grant people eternal life. Many valiant men have lost their lives there in search of eternal life.”
“Can people really live forever?” Ayron was starting to believe the impossible.
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