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Of Flaming Youth

                             by Jonathon Pierce

Iffley stared in amazement as the message faded. His face a torrent of emotions, each expression mixing with the others. His mouth agape, he uttered no sound. Finally, after a few seconds, he forced the words to his lips: "Meric, prepare the Scimitar for immediate departure."

A beat passed while Meric contacted the Scimitar. Suddenly, Campuria, once again noteworthy of Iffley's dispair, whispered something in his ear. Iffley nodded and transported the couple into the Atrium. In private, Campuria would reveal her secret to her love. She reached down and touched the bracelet that surrounded her aged wrist.

"Suralio, it is time I told you of my past... Once, long ago, a beautiful young woman had everything going for her. She had money and friends and power. Her friends were very powerful also. Adena Ludit was one such friend, as you may have guessed. We became closer than sisters. And then..." She stopped her confession as the tears trickled down her cheeks. She slowly unfastened her bracelet and let it fall to the floor. The hologram surrounding Campuria's body flickered and then dissapated.

Her aged, stooped body was replaced with the firm youthfulness of womanhood. Her clouded eyes cleared, allowing their piercing gray irises to sparkle. Her gray hair turned back into the bouncy, brunette locks she once knew. With renewed vitality, she continued her story, "Kirk Jameson, yes, the one and only, was once a trusted friend of the Ludit family. One night, after a party, he got drunk and...and...he...attacked me. After that he said he was going to kill me. I managed to escape, but he followed me to the palace. I told Adena and she quickly helped me pack. She gave me her prized Danae, Casablanca. On its flaming red back, I escaped to Azzev.

"Adena had Kirk thrown off of Furanose, but I knew that I was not safe. The months passed and I gave birth to a son. Kirk, however, arrived not long after his birth and took my son away from me. In fear I fled to Aldery, where I knew of a great necromancer. I consulted Avalon, a sorcerer in his own right, and he helped me with my problem. He constructed the bracelet and gave me the Book to ensure my safety. I remained on Aldery in seclusion until you contacted me. My name was Dion Cameo Puriantio. I never want to be called Campuria again!"

She took a deep breath and then accepted Iffley's inviting arms. He held her until her sobbing stopped. He wiped away her tears with the back of his hand. "Now," he said, "it is my turn to surprise you." He stepped back and set the Sceptre on the tiled floor. Next, he spun the Sceptre counter-clockwise. The Sceptre spun faster and faster, a high pitched whine accompanying it. As it revolved, Iffley became younger, the Sceptre turning back the Years. Then he reached down and stopped its carrousel effect.

Iffley, now almost eight years younger, smiled at Dion. His hazel eyes sparkled at her apparent approval of his appearance. At twenty-seven, he was now only two years Dion's senior. The couple embraced, enjoying the other's newfound youth.

After a long, tender moment, Iffley teleported them back into the Sardonyx room. Meric, seeing the unfamiliar couple, arose and drew his weapon. "Who are you? Speak before I call the Sentry!"

"I am Suralio Iffley, Ruler of the Alarian Territories." Iffley stated calmly.

"If you are Iffley, then you will know the Alarian Code." Meric spoke quickly and indecisively. "Queen takes black pawn."

"King takes white knight." As Iffley finished the Code, Meric's disbelief vanished. "Yes, Meric, it is me. Are you prepared to leave for Earth?" Meric nodded, his eyes moving to the beautiful woman by Iffley's side. "Forgive my lack of manners. Meric Tartre, this is Dion Cameo Puriantio, formerly known as Campuria." Having completed the formal introductions, the group entered the shuttle and flew off toward the Scimitar.

* * * * *

Several hours later, the Earth appeared on the Scimitar's viewscreen. Its swirling clouds revealed only minute samples of the land beneath it. The moon orbited the Earth, like a single, battle-worn Sentry guarding a great treasure.

The Scimitar pulled smoothly into orbit. One small shuttle, bearing Iffley, Dion, and Meric, glided swiftly toward Taft's Domain. It landed smoothly near the Taft Complex, one of several large bases in the Domain. Meric activated the portable scanner, tracking the unusual energy patterns produced by the Amulet.

"The Amulet is located in a crowded room. Teleportation would be very hazardous. There is, however, a cell block located beneath the room, perfect for our purpose." He gave the scanner to Iffley, who perused its diagrams. He concentrated and waved the Sceptre.

The vast plain outside melted into the steel walls of the jail. Upon the arrival of the intruders, a guard pressed an alarm. After this act, he found himself to be a newt, and hopped down the hall. Iffley raised the Sceptre closing the entrance of a long corridor.

The corridor behind them, however, was now quickly filling with guards. The floor beneath the guards, suddenly liquified, another accomplishment of the Sceptre. The guards sank in the goo and disappeared. Iffley next blocked the hallway, preventing further hindrance from the guards.

"Very good, Iffley!" T. G. Taft the younger remarked. "I don't suppose you'd like to let me out?"

Iffley turned around to meet the voice. "What are you doing here? I thought you took over your father's kingdom."

"It's rather a long story. Blue Ledic is back...and ruler of the Domain. He somehow has turned quite evil."

Iffley stared at Taft II. Neither Taft nor his son had ever blatantly attacked Alarius. With Blue in charge of the Domain, he would never be safe--even out on Titan. If he helped Taft II to escape, then his security would be ensured. "If I help you, what would I receive in return?"

"When I regain the throne, you can be certain that I will never attack you. The time for me to regain the throne is not right: I have no forces at my disposal. I would need to seek refuge on Titan, would you agree to that?'

Iffley response was by shutting off the forcefields. A couple of the braver prisoners looked out of their doorways. "Where is Adena?" Iffley asked.

"I had no idea that she was even here. But as valuable as she is, she is probably being held in maximum security, 10 levels down. I wouldn't try to rescue her, any breach into the 10 level would gas the entire floor. You would never get her out alive." He sensed Iffley's indecision and continued. "One very valuable prisoner, however, would be Mij Slochin, he is being held in that small cubical."

Iffley, with a flick of the Sceptre, dissolved the forward wall of the cell. Mij, huddled in the corner, cowered at the menacing figures. Iffley motion Mij to follow, but he only shook his head.

"I must warn the people! Let me warn the people!" He screamed. Meric bodily picked him up and carried him into the hal1way.

Meric scanned the floor above. "Iffley, a forcefield has been constructed around the complex. Teleporting out would be disasterous with this many people. Twenty meters ahead, however, is an unoccupied room, from which we can escape to the surface. The entrance to the complex is not covered by the field."

Iffley walked the twenty meters and then created a hole in the ceiling. Seconds later, a spiral staircase appeared, leading to the floor above. The group climbed the stairs--with the exception of Mij, who was pulled--unaware of the prisoner following them. He had recognized one of the inturders, and was determined to discover their destination.

* * * * *

The staircase led them into the prisoner entrance area. Meric informed Iffley of a powerful energy in one of the file cabinets. Iffley pointed the Sceptre, dissolving the locks. He opened the middle drawer, revealing the personal belongings of the prisoners. The Tiara, taken as evidence of Taft II guilt, lay in a folder marked with his name. Iffley took the Tiara and presented it to T. G. "This is yours, I presume." Iffley blasted a hole through the wall and the entire entourage ran toward the entrance.

The prisoner crept up the steps, and entered the room. He searched through the file and extracted a folder with 'John Jemason' scrawled on the top. He chased after the group, not wanting to lose them. He ran passed the entrance, guards lying unconscious on the demolished gate. He noticed the shuttle and awaited for the proper moment to stow away.

Iffley approached the shuttle, a very familiar figure standing by it. He recognized the figure and ran up to it. "Jonathon!" He called out, as he met the man. Jonathon, at first, could not place Iffley's face, but even his decline in age could not halt Jonathon's remembrance. The two greeted one another with a hug, the friendship not hindered by the obvious generation gap. During the commotion, John Jemason stalked into the ship.

"I noticed your shuttle, and I thought you might need some help."

"I thought you were dead...But now is not the time to discuss these matters. We must leave...and hurry." With everyone aboard, the shuttle sped off toward the heavens.

* * * * *

En route to Titan, Jonathon was told of the recent happenings. After this, he explained his mysterious reapperance. "Soon after the death of Kirk, a mysterious figure entered my bedroom and knocked me out. I later found myself tied up in a closet somewhere near Aldery. Avalon, I believe that you know him, Camp...1 mean Dion, freed me. The Ring picked up Adena s signal to you, and I came to help."

"But that does not answer our question." Iffley said, "I personally saw the Titan kill you. I retrieved the Sceptre, but could not find the Ring. Then I dug up Dion's body."

"Suralio, I'd love to help, but I've told you all I know..."

* * * * *

In the shuttle, John opened his folder. It contained various objects. He sorted through these and removed a holographic projector. He read the inscription: John's birth. The projector had a date scratched on it, dated two years ago.

He activated the projector. It hummed to life showing the picture of a tiny baby. The view broadened out, showing the happy mother of the baby. Her brunette hair, fixed for the hologram, accentuated her piercing gray eyes.

John had been right. The woman in the cell was his mother. He stepped quietly out of the shuttle and walked toward the lift. His mother would certainly be glad to see him; if not, his father had taught him well...


 © 1984, 

K. Blaire, L. Charles, D. Conrad, Enad the Great, J. Pierce, B. C. Randolf, and T. G. Taft

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