Authors: Christopher De Sousa
But she then felt the soft warmth of a furry paw and sturdy frame against her skin, for the gryphon crept up and rubbed her shoulder with his forehead. She looked into his golden eyes, the gryphon seeming to gaze back and analyse her every expression.
It is an odd feeling
, she mused,
but this creature appears to be hard-pressed in search of something, and that something is somewhere within me.
“What should I call you?” she questioned, although coming to think how ridiculous it must have sounded.
She didn't exactly have any desire to attract further attention from this organisation, and now they were bound to become more suspicious.
This isn't some pet cat or dog in need of a name,
Although, I can hardly be sure which species this creature belongs. Best I can tell this creature is a gryphon, the head of an eagle, the imposing wingspan, the fearsome body of a lion; all physical characteristics difficult to miss, and consistent to those of myth.
“His name is Anzu,” said Blake. “Can't you remember? You learned that in the library.”
Katherine had forgotten that he too was present in the same vehicle amidst their travel, and she immediately questioned whether ceasing the silence was indeed an improvement.
“Actually, I have gone by many names,” said the gryphon. “Anzu was only one name bestowed upon me by a former master. And if it pleases you Ms Munroe, then it will also suffice in the here and now.”
Katherine could instantly feel a sense of awe sweep over her, and she soon after recognised that she wasn't alone. As she scanned the cabin, each face presented a picture of bewilderment; each with its jaws hanging and eyes wide open.
“Of course, if that is what you want to be called,” she heard herself say, still in shock. “Why have you been following me?”
She thought the gryphon seemed anxious as he looked into her eyes and sought to respond. “The scent of your spiritual energy, it is of the same natureâ¦”
“You are a spirit of the wind if I'm not mistaken,” said Blake, his curiosity piqued. “Then you must have previously served under the sky god Anu.”
“That name sounds familiar,” she replied, examining the gryphon's wings.
Blake grunted, wriggling forward and appearing frustrated. “This is exactly why you should pay attention in class. He was one of the Naacal leaders at the very beginning.”
“The Naacal,” she questioned, confused and trying to think back upon Ms Hawthorne's many lectures.
“Blake, that's enough,” said Lance. “It is not our responsibility to explain such things.”
“We're related in some way to these Naacal, aren't we? I mean to say; wellâ¦I am able to conjure fireâ¦unintentionally of course, and without any real control. But I've never known how I could do so or why.”
Blake sighed, peering back at her as if she were stupid. “You know why. There's little point in pretending to be ignorant. You spoke of celestial energy when I provided you with a demonstration in the library.”
Remembering what befell her at the library, she thought further back to a time when she'd first set an old sketch pad alight, and at the very moment when her father had decided to train her in the arts of energy control. For so many hours had they toiled away in his makeshift training facility within the garage, pursuing the recognition of her celestial energy, and now she wanted to know more. She scanned the vehicle's interior; many of the operatives were staring back at her now with their brows raised and their eyes squinted.
Did I say something wrong?
She wondered, for none of them seemed entirely sure about how to respond.
She glanced down at her fingertips, those which had caused so many pencils to ignite over the years while sketching. Her father had often pleaded with her not to say anything about it, certainly not to share these experiences with others. But in the same breath he'd brushed off such behaviours as normal. And although she remembered how he'd frequently look to avoid any more in depth discussion on this topic, she was taken aback now with all these operatives looking at her as if she were some kind of witch. The longer they stared, the more apprehensive she became over something she'd never fathomed to be much of a big deal.
Now the hearing of voices and the sight of illusionary beasts
, she surmised,
those are things that really should make one feel anxious.
“If we are related to the Naacal, then I must be a descendant of Ra?” she questioned. “And Blake, since you have control over ice, which Naacal shares in your element?”
“Under your rationale, I'd be a descendant of the moon god Thoth,” he answered.
Lance glared at Blake, his teeth clenched. “Have you lost all sense? The director will address any and all further questions Katherine may have. It is not our place to answer them in his stead.”
Although she was aware that Lance's patience had run thin, she couldn't help herself from inquiring further. She wanted to know more about these guardians, of their place in the world, and why this one in particular had chosen her as his new master.
“If I recall correctly, Ra was the sun god of ancient Egypt,” she said.
Blake gave her a look of sarcasm. “Well done, and this means, assuming what you've said you are capable of is true; you are in a sense one of his descendants.”
“Blake,” Lance cried, showing an aggressive tone of voice Katherine had not heard before.
“Who is this director?”
“The director of
; a secret organisation of the government,” Lance muttered. “We were constructed to combat any and all alien spirits who threaten our earthen plane.”
Blake laughed, grinning from ear to ear. “Way to be a hypocrite. How about you make sure you practice what you preach.”
Without delay, Lance covered his mouth with open palms, trying to conceal his embarrassment for having disclosed such information.
“A secret organisation assigned the task to fight demons,” she said. “I had often felt that Dad was hiding something from me.”
They all fell silent. That was, until Katherine felt a heavy jerking of the vehicle which sent her sprawling forward.
“We've begun our descent,” Lance said, bracing himself against the interior wall.
She gasped, clutching at her side. “Our descent? What do you mean?”
“Now that the convoy has traversed the desert, we're heading down a winding ramp and into the depths by an underground tunnel.”
“An underground tunnel, but where will it lead us?” She questioned.
Blake frowned. “Where else do you think? This is the project's only entranceway.”
To Katherine, it seemed an hour had passed before the convoy reached the tunnels end. As she blindly stared out the back window of the truck, she noted a series of flickering lights hanging from high above, illuminating the wide spanning structure of a vehicle bay. Once they came to a halt, the back hatch of each vehicle opened, and the occupants disembarked prior to assembly before a large secure doorway. Thereafter, they heard a voice transmission echo up and about the garage delivering specific orders to each operative. One designated for Lance, and the only one she could fully understand, was for the young operative to show her to her room.
“We shall meet with her come the morning,” said a gruff, and yet articulate voice through the speaker.
She looked to Lance, whom cordially smiled back at her before guiding her and the gryphon over to the secure doorway. Before the door and to its right was a control panel. He strolled over to it, punching in a sequence of codes that registered a string of beeping and whistling noises. Once two large doors of solid steel had parted, he led both her and the gryphon along a plain corridor. Up ahead, she could see numerous officers disperse through an array of different passages. Notably, she also watched as Blake and Kulullu prepared to enter one toward its very end.
“Well I'm going to call it a night,” said Blake with a yawn. “It may be near the weeks end, but I suspect a more arduous training schedule is in store for me within the next couple of hours.”
“I think that is a very wise decision,” Lance replied.
Blake merely raised his nose up at him with displeasure and trudged inside with Kulullu following after him.
Lance continued to lead them, until he motioned toward an adjacent doorway. “Let me show you to your room.”
He had pressed another code into yet another control panel ingrained within the door's frame, before the door slid open. Inside, she found a bedroom that was both plain and spacious. She felt uneasy with this new setting; the sterile lighting, the drab furnishings, and the barren walls that were devoid of colour.
It is all too similar to an operating room
, she thought to herself, doing little to stifle her fears that experimentation would surely follow.
She could see it now as she glanced about the space: the countless scalpels, and numerous x-ray machines, a vast series of syringes, and a plethora of hidden camera's that would be undoubtedly concealed within the rooms' four walls. She slowly and cautiously made her way toward a single bed's end, with the gryphon in tow, and slinked down upon it from exhaustion.
Whatever they choose to do with me
, she decided,
I hope they do it quickly and not let me suffer.
But she soon noticed that the gryphon was the one who needed to worry; for the creature's wounds had not yet fully healed. The creature found it profoundly difficult to obtain any source of comfort as he wriggled and writhed about in vain against the bed sheet.
“Will you permit me to take Anzu with me,” asked Lance. “It would be best for him that we tend to his many injuries, and not allow them to fester.”
She remembered that Anzu was the name this creature had agreed to go by, and the more she thought on it, the more she believed it suited him.
“I may be injured,” said Anzu. “But I shall stay by my master's side so long as she needs me.”
“Anzu, you're still hurt,” she said, stroking her hand through his matted fur. “Anzu, I want you to go with him.”
The gryphon gazed back at her with judging eyes, but despite his reluctance, eventually he obeyed and headed for the door.
“Please try to get some sleep,” said Lance. “We shall both see you in the morning.”
Once Lance and Anzu had left, the door closed behind them and the lights finally dimmed. Regardless of how tired she felt, the strain and the ache of each limb, her mind was wide awake and she had little will to find sleep.
I don't think I'll ever again be able to sleep
, she thought to herself, her mind restless.
And it is probably for the best. Since if I were to somehow find sleep, it is more than likely that the nightmares would surely follow, and bring any sleep I might find to an unpleasant end.
With the wind ruffling the feathers of his impressive wingspan, Anzu soared overhead through the warm skies and toward a small house centred along Delphi Crescent. Once he reached the front yard, he descended and hovered before an open window upon this house's second floor.
Why am I here?
He wondered, as he peered inside to find Katherine snuggled beneath her duvet.
He watched as she arose from under her blankets and wandered toward the window. The air inside was both humid and stifling; he could see the sweat seeping from the young woman's forehead.
Is this a dream?
He thought to himself,
and if it is, whose dream is it?
He persisted in observing her movements and behaviour as she squinted back at him through the bedroom window. She moved to close her blind, only to hesitate, and look out beyond where he continued to hover.
Has she not seen me?
but how is that even possible?
He spun round, looking down toward the yard.
This must be a dream
, he decided,
and a dream that shall show to me the truth.
Before him, and towering high above from what had only moments earlier been the front yard, was a pyramid of ancient times. As he gazed down onto where the grass had once lain, he now found a moat of sand that appeared to burn with the gleam of an open brazier. He soon spotted Katherine pulling open her front door, the door having become wedged behind a wall of sand. Once she'd pressed free, and caused this wall of sand to collapse, she stood there silent before the pyramid, profusely rubbing at her eyes in disbelief.
It has been too long
, Anzu thought to himself, absorbed with each block that made up this regal monument, sharing Katherine's fascination.
I was right; I can now clearly see the essence of Ra in this young one
He hovered overhead observing Katherine as she traipsed through the coursing sand toward the pyramid's mouth, and climbed a long winding staircase until she'd reached its peak from where the sun's rays would be felt the strongest. Thereafter, he felt the energies of another atop the pyramid, one to whom he felt closely connected and rejuvenated. He who lingered was almost out of even Anzu's understanding, a god to which he swore everlasting fealty. Through the inviting smile on her face, and the bright flicker of her pupils, he too recognised that Katherine had become aware of this deity's presence, and was sharing in his warmth.
At last I can fulfil my promise and repay my debt
, realised Anzu, his golden eyes locked upon the deity who floated within mid-air and had extended his hand to Katherine.
Thus he had now become sure, for there was no mistaking it. Engulfed amidst a vortex of fire, the figure presented a finely sculpted physique; he had the rigid head of a falcon, his body was dressed ceremoniously in a white garb, and he held in his right hand a most majestic stave of gold.
But when he felt Katherine had reached out and touched the sun god's outstretched fingertips, the pyramid, the sand, and he to whom he'd sworn eternal loyalty, all had vanished from his sight. Both he and Katherine were now alone, returned to the confines of the Munroe's front yard, and enshrouded in darkness.