Excerpt for Twelve Arks for The Apocalypse by , available in its entirety at Smashwords





Twelve Arks for The Apocalypse


Vincent Gilvarry


Book Three

of

Tales of a Yumi Master


Published by the author

in association with

www.smashwords.com




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AUTHOR’S COMMENT


Please note that the continent of Lemuria was located primarily in the Pacific Ocean and not just in the Indian Ocean as I have stated.

Lemuria was not the first civilisation on this planet. Unfortunately, it disappeared about 50,000 years ago at a time of geological upheaval and is now buried beneath the floor of the ocean.

Apparently, the ancient Lemurians were an advanced race of beings, and according to Kryon, (The Magnetic Master) they harnessed the power of crystals for scientific purposes in the Temple of Rejuvenation.

I consulted the all-knowing internet on a variety of topics and adapted relevant information to suit my needs, one of which is that crystals have the ability to absorb and store energy.

If you would like more information on Lemuria or if you get a little confused as to who’s who and what’s what, refer to the back of the book.























INTRODUCTION

JATOO


A young woman called Seraphina wakes with a start and doubles up in pain. She knows that her time has come and a baby is on the way. With blood dribbling down her legs, she stumbles down the stairs of the derelict building in which she has lived for the last six months.

At four o’clock in the morning, the streets of the Temple City of Lemuria is not a place for a young girl, especially one who is about to give birth to her first child. Seraphina would be happy to see anyone at all, but there is not a soul in sight, not even one of the beggar boys who have come to her rescue so many times before.

She gave up a life of luxury for a man she barely knew, only to be abandoned five months later. Her father, Versooth, would have welcomed her home with open arms, but it’s far too late now. She is about to perish on a dark and lonely street and there is nothing she can do about it.

With her last ounce of strength rapidly draining away, she hobbles along, dragging one leg after the other. Her contractions are coming quick and fast, but a darting pain in the abdomen stops her in her stride and she collapses in a pool of blood.

If it had not been for a passing stranger, a woman in a blue dress, Seraphina may have slipped away un-noticed. She drapes a shawl over her body, drags her into an alleyway and disappears into the night.

Twenty minutes later, a two-person transport vehicle pulls up at the kerb. A physician in a long black cloak disembarks and rushes to her side.

“The girl is close to death,” the woman says.

Jolariel doesn’t even have to look; he has seen cases like this a hundred times before.

“I have no choice but to remove the child from her womb or they will both surely die.”

“Do what you must,” the woman says, “but the child must live.”

He removes a long slender blade from his bag and makes an incision along the lower part of Seraphina’s abdomen. Jolariel works with the certainty of many years of experience, carefully removes the infant from the womb, checks to see that the boy is breathing, and cuts the cord.

“Is she your daughter?” he says.

“No, she’s not, but what will you do with her body?”

“I will see that she gets a decent burial.”

“Thank you for your time and effort,” the woman says as she places three gold coins in his hand.

She wraps the child in a shawl and heads for nearest square. She lays it carefully on the edge of a fountain and washes its little body with a damp cloth. A beggar boy who has been hiding away in the shadows wanders over to take a closer look.

“Another one without a mother,” he says.

“Yes, but he does have a family. Unfortunately, he won’t get to meet them for a while.’

“Would you like to do me a favour,” she says.

“You want me to leave him at the gates of the temple.”

“Yes, then come back and I’ll give you a gold coin for your efforts.”

“His mother was wearing this locket around her neck.”

“Give it to the priest on duty as it will pay for his education for many years to come.”

“Does he have a name,” the boy says.

“Yes he does, it’s Zhatoo.”


PRIMANSA


The most distinctive feature of the Temple City of Lemuria is not just the Temple of Creation, but the enormous blue crystal at its very apex. It is the lifeblood of the nation, a power station that not only illuminates the sky but everything in Lemuria.

Legend has it that the first inhabitants were highly advanced beings from another world. The legacy they left behind was a wealth of knowledge, but the symbol of their power was the Temple of Creation.

Over time, the temple complex was transformed into an armed fortress, but today it is surrounded by a heavily fortified wall. These have not been peaceful times, and over the last three hundred years, the temple has endured countless assaults by the marauding rebel army.

And the priests especially have learnt to be wary of anyone who knocks on the gate in the early hours of the morning. The desperate and the dying are not the only ones who wander the streets after dark. The rebel forces have been waging an ongoing campaign for independence and they are often hiding in the shadows.

The only priest on duty that morning is a young man with dark brown eyes and a dark brown complexion. Primansa has the eyes of a hawk and the ears of a fox, and over the years he has learnt to recognise the sounds of the night.

From the sentry box in the guard tower high above the front gate, he has an unrestricted view in every direction. To admit anyone other than the sick and injured is a felony. The word of the High Priest is law and no one is to be admitted unless it’s an emergency.

Primansa keeps a close eye on the early morning merchants who travel along the road. They usually appear at sunrise, their wagons loaded with fresh produce for the local markets, but the contents of the wagons are not always fruit and vegetables.

His attention is diverted by the sound of someone calling to him from the street below. He peers over the battlements, only to see one of the many urchins who roam the streets. As Primansa knows, they are not always to be trusted.

“What is it that you want?”

“To give you this child,” the boy says. “His mother died in labour only a few minutes ago.”

Primansa knows exactly what this means, and he is in no position to argue. Fate has selected him to be the father of a motherless child.

“Leave him at the gate and I will come and get him,” he says.

The boy does so and then slips around the corner to collect his reward from the woman in the blue dress.

THE NURSERY


The rebel army has become a force to contend with over the last three hundred years, a state of affairs that the High Priest, Hyperion, will not tolerate. He rules Lemuria with an iron fist, and the most ruthless weapon in his arsenal is an army of black robed priests. As everyone knows, their methods of dealing with insurrection are nothing if not brutal.

Like many of his brothers, Primansa was left at the temple gates as an infant. As of this day, he will be responsible for Jatoo’s welfare until he is sixteen years of age. It’s an ancient tradition and one that has never changed.

From the very moment that he takes Jatoo into his arms, Primansa will be his primary carer, his brother and master. The nursery will look after him for the first two years, but Primansa will have to feed and clothe Jatoo, and educate him in the ways of the priesthood.

Jatoo is just one of many infants in the nursery, all of whom are fed by wet nurses for the first year. The nursery is a beautiful old building and just one of many in the temple complex. The walls and floors have been scrubbed and polished over the years, but it could never disguise the ever-present aroma of a dozen newborn children.

Primansa is just one of the many faces that Jatoo sees when he looks up from his crib. And if time permits, his will be the last face he sees before he drifts off to sleep at night. The nursery is a busy place at any time of the day, and to see that beautiful little face staring back at him is an experience that softens Primansa’s resolve.

On an impulse, he decides to hang Jatoo’s swaddling cloth above his crib. It’s a blue silk veil with a gold embroidered edge, and the very moment he does so, the nursery is illuminated by the glow of pale blue light.

Jatoo’s wet nurse, Sonoma, appears like clockwork several times a day. She’s the mother of three children and has little time for trivialities, but even she is intrigued.

The light filtering through the veil is a source of interest to everyone who passes by, but for Jatoo, it’s a window through which only he can see. Sometimes it’s the face of his mother and sometimes it’s a passing glimpse of a young man with deep blue eyes.











CHAPTER 1

A GATHERING OF FRIENDS


Addric is just one of many people who have gathered under the Great Hall of the Dome. He has arranged to meet his brother Dheago at exactly one o’clock, and it is from here they will take a portal to the Yumi city of Yunara.

A Krugwah portal can be a somewhat daunting experience for first timers. The doorway is an alluring blue flame, and like all vehicles of an energetic nature, they have their secrets. But if you are planning to take one for a joy ride, just forget it as most portals have a mind of their own one.

The Hall is the heart centre of the Imperial Palace. And it is here that matters of great importance have been discussed by the Supreme Council since the beginning of time. But today it’s buzzing with activity for a very different reason. Today, it’s the gathering place for some of the most important people in the realm. They are to be guests of honour at a gala event, one such as the people of Vela-Rishan have never experienced before.

Addric is dressed in a dark blue tunic, dark blue tights and a pair of new leather boots. For a young man who has just turned seventeen, he has an interesting face, fair hair and alert but visible blue eyes. After ten years of training to be a gymnast, he is no longer the scrawny little kid he once was. Today he is lean and supple, with the physique of a man in his early twenties.

Just about everyone that Addric knows has been invited to this event, his mother and father, his elderly grandparents, and even his old boss Hector Balinsaya, the Commander of the Jhalian League. Hector’s partner for this occasion is his senior Science Officer, Romana. She is a glamorous young woman with a statuesque figure, and she looks resplendent in a blue and gold diaphanous sari.

“Romana, I didn’t recognise you,” Addric says, “you look absolutely wonderful.”

“Why thank you Addric, one has to look one’s best. After all, this is an opportunity of a lifetime.”

Romana and Hector are just a few of the people who have been invited to attend a unique ceremony in which the status of four young men will be elevated to that of a Yumi Master of the Third Order. Addric and his brother Dheago, are about to reclaim their long lost heritage, whereas two of their friends, Sabu, and Reuben Ali Shah have proved themselves to be worthy of such an honour.

“This is about as good as it gets,” Romana says, “except for the occasional coronation, but people like me are rarely on the guest list.”


DELFINA


Addric just happens to notice two women he hasn’t seen for some time. Allegra was one of many in a long line of women who ruled over Vela-Rishan for an extended period of time. She was more than happy to disappear off the radar as soon as she relinquished her role a sovereign of the realm. But today she is accompanied by a woman who is a legend in her own right.

Delfina is the sort of woman who comes in a solid, but self-contained, economic package, and in her time, she could be a force to contend with. As one of the twelve members of the Supreme Council, she had a reputation as a firebrand. Delfina was a warrior in long flowing robes who was could gobble up a troublemaker and give them the verbal thrashing they so justly deserved.

The very moment she sees Addric making his way through the crowd, she grabs him by the shoulders and plasters him with sloppy kisses.

“Addric, my boy, how I have missed you.”

Addric does his best to extract himself from her balmy embrace, but Delfina takes him aside, and in her usual straightforward manner, she scrutinises him closely.

“You are looking remarkably handsome,” she says.

Addric is surprised to hear that Delfina is now the proprietor of a little inn in the foothills of the Aregno Mountains.

‘It’s a popular establishment renowned for its rich and frothy beer,’ she says. ‘And even though it’s not exactly the truth, I love to tell everyone that it is riddled with medicinal properties.”

But the last thing that Addric expected to hear Delfina say is that is now a happily married woman.

“Congratulations,” he says. ”Anyone I know perhaps.”

“I don’t think so Addric, but Hermongos is a giant of a man who wooed me relentlessly, and I finally gave in.”

“Now he is the love of my life.”

“That’s so wonderful,” Addric says.

Delfina glances around furtively, quietly pats her bulging stomach and then breaks into a great big smile. Addric is hardly an innocent, but that was not the last thing he was expecting her to say. Then again, Delfina has always been one for surprises.

“Delfina, you are not pregnant, are you?”

“Shush Addric, not so loud,” she says.

“Who would ever have imagined such a thing?”

Delfina is aglow with excitement and Addric has no idea what to say next. But as luck would have it, he just happens to see Dheago making his way through the crowd. Under normal circumstances, he’s a good-looking young man with deep brown eyes, but not today. It’s apparent that he hasn’t slept for days. His eyes are a vivid blood red, his hair is a mess and he hasn’t even bothered to shave.


HESTA TO THE RESCUE


“Been out on the town again?” Delfina says curiously.

“Sort of,” he groans.

A bear hug from Delfina, a kiss on the cheek from Allegra and a poke in the ribs from Addric is about as much as Dheago can take without wincing.

“Me be thinking you be needing something extra special,” Addric says somewhat cryptically.

Dheago doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about, not until he sees an old woman called Hesta heading his way.

“Ah, I get it,” he says.

In other worlds, Hesta would be feared or revered, and depending on your point of view, she is either a great wizard or an old witch. Hesta has successfully managed to slip under the radar for a very long time, but she is known to a few close friends.

Her usual outfit is the sort of thing that a farmer’s wife would wear, a rough old bag of a dress, with shoes that are in desperate need of retirement, but not on this occasion. Hesta looks resplendent in an elegant broad brimmed picture hat and a fetching green dress that looks like a gown for a special occasion.

She saunters up to Dheago, shakes her head, ruffles around in her bag, and removes a vial of liquid with a deep yellow tinge.

“Here, swallow this,” she says, “it will get you back in shape in no time.”

Dheago removes the cork and recoils from the stench.

“Yuck, that smells horrible.”

“Don’t be worrying about that,” she says, “just drink it.”

“It won’t make me sick, will it?”

“You already sick, this will make you better?”

“What’s in it?” he says.

“Don’t ask, just drink.”

Dheago has no choice and they won’t be going anywhere, not until he does so. He closes his eyes, takes a long deep breath and almost regurgitates the lot. But Hesta gives him a big whack on the back, just to help it along. One of her unpalatable concoctions saved his life once before and Dheago knows it. A few seconds later the colour returns to his bloodshot eyes.

“Feeling a little better now,” she says.

“Was there something wrong with me before?”

“Not much, just a touch of alcohol poisoning, if I not be mistaken.”

“So now, that deserves a hug from one of my favourite young men.”

“It definitely does,” he says.


EENAH


A few moments later, the first of many Krugwah portals makes an appearance, and Addric is delighted to see that one of his favourite nature spirits is in charge of the one o’clock portal.

“Hello strange persons,” Eenah says, as she pops her head around the glowing blue door.

Like all members of her species, Eenah has short stumpy legs, big green eyes and a rather interesting hair style that just happens to feature the infamous Krugwah curl.

“You be wanting a lift, perhaps,” she says in the crackly voice common to all Krugwah. “If so, please step this way.”

Addric is relieved to see that she is in an unusually cheery mood. This is not like Eenah at all.

“Ladies first, if you don’t mind,” she snaps at one unfortunate passenger.

Eenah can be as gentle as she is vicious, but beneath that piercing gaze is a heart of gold. If she gives you the evil eye, it’s advisable to make a fast getaway. Eenah is not in the habit of taking prisoners. If you break her unwritten rules, she turns on you like a viper. But she does have her favourites, and Addric is relieved to be one of them.

“Kisses,” she says before he has permission to enter.

It’s a small price to pay and Addric is only too happy to oblige.

As a mode of transport, Krugwah portals can accommodate any number of passengers, but they can be a little temperamental. Eenah just happens to be an expert, which means that they will arrive at their destination in one piece. The transference process is instantaneous, and only seconds after they leave the Great Hall behind, they arrive at their destination, the Yumi city of Yunara.


OLD FRIENDS


Yunara is one of the many inter-dimensional realms in Vela-Rishan, and as a few people know, it is also the home of the legendary Yumi nation. But there is so much more to Yunara than monumental buildings, palatial villas and ancient temples. Behind many closed doors are treasures that have never seen the light of day and secrets as old as time itself.

Addric steps out of the portal and is delighted to see a few old friends he hasn’t seen in ages.

Adartha, Prince of the Angelic Realm of Ra-Silonay is a man whose respect for life is known far and wide. And today he is accompanied by his eldest son, Argon, and one of his many officers, Starion, the Commander of the 5th Regiment.

It was Starion’s task to protect the little town of Ditafarago from the ever-present danger known as the Volkori. The Dark Riders, as they were known, were a scourge they battled on a nightly basis. But the Volkori threat is no longer an issue, and for the first time in eight hundred years, they are finally at peace.

Adartha is accompanied by two of the most respected residents of Ditafarago. The Countess Demetra and her half-sister, Lady Felicity Originalis are masters of the arcane arts and powerful sorcerers in their own right. And if it had not been for Demetra’s intervention, Ditafarago’s future may have been very different in every way.

Addric is delighted to see that another old friend has been invited as well. The irrepressible Slinkfoot Sam, also known as Slinky, aka Samuel Greenleaf, gardener extraordinaire, is dressed in a button-up waistcoat, knee-length pants, green leggings, and a pair of overly large shoes with polished brass buckles.

Slinky has beady but intelligent eyes, and eyebrows that curl into a stylish twist. And on this occasion, he is accompanied by the love of his life, the unflappable Gretel Greenleaf, and all seven of their beautiful children. But one of their children, a little boy called Barclay holds a special place in Addric’s heart.

Barclay he has so much to tell Addric about all of the things he is learning at school. To see that little face glowing with such pride in his achievements is a reminder to Addric that if he ever has a son, he wants him to be just like Barclay.

If it hadn’t been for a journey they took deep into the heart centre of their world, Addric would never have met them at all. But now, they are all gathered together in the same place. Only this time, they will not be venturing into unknown territory, this time, they have been invited to attend a very special function.

“This is definitely going to be a party to remember,” Addric says.























CHAPTER 2

THE UPS AND DOWNS OF LOVE AND LIFE


Addric and Dheago are delighted to see that they have been allocated a luxurious suite in the Palazzo del Yumi. And it has every mod con you can imagine. For a young man with an interest in the age-old pastime of self-beautification, the bathroom is definitely the star attraction. And to Addric’s delight, it not only has a pool, it also has an interesting range of beauty products.

Addric takes a quick whiff of just about every life-enhancing fragrance in the cabinet and he is seriously impressed. But the most diverting thing of all is the sensor that controls the bathroom door.

With the slightest wave of his hand, the door sweeps open and closes again just as swiftly. And for the next few minutes, a surge of steam, infused with a blend of adolescent beauty products engulfs the palatial suite that he will call home for the next few days.

Now that he has milked that little item of as much amusement as he can possibly get, he pokes his head around the door, searching for his next tasty adventure. To his surprise, Dheago is curled up on the couch, and he is obviously not a happy boy.

Addric recognises the problem immediately. Dheago is suffering from a problem as old as time itself. He has been abandoned on the scrapheap by some floozy who stole his heart for a few passing moments. Addric desperately wants to explore the details of Dheago’s love life, but they have to be at the Temple of Divinity in an hour. If he opens the floodgates of his dodgy love life, they will be very late for a very important date.

This situation requires desperate measures, and not knowing what else to do, Addric rips off his towel and flicks it around Dheago’s head. It’s the perfect solution to a thorny problem and it works.

“Now, you’re in for it,” Dheago says as he leaps to his feet and chases him from one end of the apartment to the other.

Addric takes a detour into one of the side rooms, and then takes refuge behind a chair. It isn’t much of a hiding place and Dheago works it out immediately.

“You know, don’t you Addric?”

“Yep D, I do.”

Romance is a battlefield strewn with the corpses of the trusting and the innocent, as Addric knows from personal experience. He has been there once or twice over the last few years, and he’s in no hurry to make a return visit, not for some time at any rate.

Addric does his best to soothe Dheago’s troubled soul, but there is nothing that can mend a broken heart. And there’s not much you can do when the love of your life runs off with some other dazzling conquest.

“But we have to get ready Dheago, you can tell me about this some other time.”

Addric hands him a towel and escorts him to the bathroom. A cold shower works miracles in situations like this. As to whether it’s true or not, Addric doesn’t really know, but it’s enough to divert Dheago from his personal crisis, at least for a while.

The clock is ticking and Addric has an emergency of his own to deal with. His hair has always had a natural perversity to curl up all by itself. And over the last few years, he has done everything in his power to keep it as straight as possible it, but it’s been to no avail.

The bathroom cabinet has an interesting range of gadgets, one of which is an elongated device that looks like a hair straightener. A hollow tube at one end and a control switch at the other are clues as to what it could be, but a few instructions would have been useful.

“Okay, let’s see what this thing does,” he says.

Addric is doing his best to eradicate one curl after another, when Dheago just happens to poke his head around the door. This is an opportunity to good to resist, so he creeps up from behind and tickles Addric in all the wrong places.

“Dheago,” he cries, ‘now look what you’ve done.”

If looks could kill, Dheago would be dead by now. Addric has a defunct wand in one hand and a handful of singed hair in the other, and he is not happy in the least.

“I can fix that in a jiffy,” Dheago says.

He obviously knows a few things about the fine art of being a teenage glamour boy, and by the time he has finished, Addric is impressed.

“Not bad,” he says.

“You look so much sexier with curly hair Addric.”

“Do you think so?”

“Just ask Delfina, she will soon enough tell you.”

“Not a chance.”

They are about to attend an official function, and have no choice but to wear the formal attire of a regal diplomat, an outfit they have worn only once before.

“By anyone’s standards,” Addric says as he contemplates his reflection in the mirror, “I think we look very handsome indeed.”

“But we’ll have to leave the compliments to someone else because we’ve gotta go.”

They sprint out the door and head for the courtyard, only to be overwhelmed by an eye-catching display of sartorial elegance and high class fashion. The women look positively beautiful, adorned in long flowing gowns and the sort of jewelry you would only see in an exclusive shop.

Addric’s old boss, Hector Balinsaya, saunters up and gives his considered opinion.

“Very nice boys,” he says, “you’re not looking too bad at all.”

“You’re looking pretty good yourself,” Addric says.

It’s customary for men to wear a silk shirt and jacket with a stand-up collar, and for formal occasions, a cloak attached at the neck by a golden clasp. Every able-bodied man within a ten kilometer radius will be wearing the regulation Rishani blockbuster. It’s an outfit of distinction, black trousers edged with black satin piping and black leather boots, and one of which they are justifiably proud.

It is not the custom to attach an ornamental dagger to your belt, but for this occasion, Addric and Dheago have no choice but to do so. They have been given strict instructions by the Yumi Master, Lezula, the mastermind behind this spectacular event.

After the oohing and aahing has settled down, they chat away with old friends and new while they await the arrival of the barge that will transport them to the Temple of Divinity.












CHAPTER 3

THE TEMPLE OF DIVINITY


They have already been briefed by Lezula on what to expect, but have not had an opportunity to rehearse. A ceremony of this caliber is rare but it does happen. Under normal circumstances, it is restricted to members of the Yumi community, but not this time. As ninety percent of the audience will be Yumi Masters, a rehearsal would have been impossible. Even so, Lezula is confident that the ceremony will proceed without any problems at all.

A flotilla of lavishly decorated barges finally arrives and everyone is suitably impressed. The figureheads are fire-breathing dragons with wings that sweep around to the side and meet at the top to form an impressive fan-shaped roof. If the weather just happens to turn nasty, the roof should, in theory, offer protection to a few lucky passengers, but unfortunately, everyone else would be saturated.

For the people of Vela-Rishan, this is a rare opportunity to see the Yumi city of Yunara, but this is no ordinary city. Yunara is a city that floats in the clouds, an airborne metropolis of parks and gardens, sprawling palaces and open-aired plazas. But their destination is the Temple of Divinity, a magnificent structure of solid gold surrounded by acres of colonnaded porticos.

The crowning glory is a spectacular dome of blue tinted glass, the centerpiece of a complex that soars high into the air. A viewing tower sits at the apex, and directly beneath that is the inner sanctum. And it is here that hundreds of guests will assemble for the upcoming ceremony.

A young man called, Salaman, dressed in the distinctive robes of a Yumi Master is their guide for the day. He heads off in one direction to conduct a tour of a few of the Temple’s attractions, while Addric and Dheago head for the doors that lead to the sanctuary.

It’s a long trek to the other end, but Lezula is waiting patiently with the two young men who will also be elevated to the level of Yumi Masters of the Third Order. Lezula and Reuben are dressed in their finest clothes and she looks radiant in an elegant silken gown and veil, but Sabu really does look like a prince of the realm.

Up until three months ago, he was a simple shepherd boy who roamed the high mountain plains looking after a flock of sheep. But his life changed when he was offered the task of taking a group of travellers deep into the heart centre of their world.

With dark brown skin and piercing black eyes, he looks resplendent in a deep red, long-sleeved jacket. A magnificent jeweled sabre hangs from his waist, and on his feet, he is wearing a pair of red leather shoes that curl up at the toes.

“You look amazing,’ Addric says, “but those shoes are the coolest things I have ever seen.”

Reuben Ali Shah on the other hand once lived a very different life. A job as a low paid private investigator was a career without prospects, but Reuben’s last assignment really did change his life. For a few unbelievable months, he had a taste of what it means to have the power of a Yumi Master, and he was not about to give that up for anything.

Addric and Dheago had been accused of a crime they did not commit, and it was Reuben’s task to monitor their every move. But if it had not been for Lezula, their paths would never have crossed and they would never have become friends.

Now, almost two years later to the day, Reuben is to be inducted as a Yumi Master of the Third Order, a-once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fast-track his way up the evolutionary ladder.

Now that they are well and truly satisfied that they look their stunning best, Lezula runs through the routine one last time. This is an event she has been organising for months, but the last thing she does is give them the seal of approval.

“You look very handsome indeed, my friends, and you will definitely be the star attraction of the evening.”

“But it’s time to go.”

As the boys head for the gold paneled doors of the inner sanctum, Lezula wipes a few stray tears from her eyes. She will never forget the day that she first saw Addric and Dheago, the day that two little infants appeared under the Great Hall of the Dome. It was her task to raise and educate them, she was there at their side when they took their first tentative steps, and now, she is here with them on the day that they take their first step towards immortality.








CHAPTER 4

A YUMI INITIATION CEREMONY


The inner sanctuary of the Temple of Divinity is a masterful creation, illuminated by a symphony of reflected lights. Every visible surface is embellished by subtle but graceful patterns, but if you look closely, you will notice that the subject matter is none other than their ancestors, the legendary Gods of Space and Time.

Columns of crystal soar up to the ceiling, and above that is the beautiful glass dome, a tour-de-force of engineering that resembles long strands of liquid sugar. The dome appears to float on a cushion of air, a creation so exquisite that it is said to rival the dome of heaven. And it is in this sacred space that Addric and Dheago and their friends will be inducted as Third Level Yumi Masters.

Lezula just happened to mention that a very special guest would be performing this evening, but she did not reveal their identity. Not long after everyone is seated, the lights are dimmed and the sound of a subtle but powerful voice reverberates through the air. This is not the sound of celestial music or the music of the spheres; this is the voice of a unique performer called Jala Aleu.

Thousands of people were in attendance at her farewell concert in the Serinada Gardens. And from the moment that Jala appeared on stage, she drifted about like a disembodied spirit. As to whether or not she is human, no one really knows, but Jala is renowned for a voice that has no equal.

Addric is not the only one eagerly awaiting that definitive moment when Jala does the one thing for which she is universally famous. Everyone in the audience is transported for a few elusive moments as Jala holds onto one tantalising note. And when it finally reaches a crescendo, the sound of her voice reverberates through the sanctuary like a choir of crystal bells.

The applause that follows is spirited and enthusiastic, but it pales into insignificance compared to the sight of an energetic doorway appearing out of thin air. The fabled Stargate is the grand-daddy of all portals, renowned for its spectacular jewel-like appearance. A standard Yumi portal is not nearly as impressive, but when one does appear, the atmosphere shimmers like liquid gold.

Lezula steps out of the portal, bows respectfully and welcomes the many visitors who have come from far and wide for this spectacular event.

“These four young men have been selected to receive this honour,” she says. “To be elevated to the rank of a third level Yumi Master is a privilege in every way.”

“But in the case of Addric and Dheago, they are simply resuming the rights to their ancient heritage.”

“Reuben and Sabu, on the other hand, are the first of their kind to be offered this privilege, but they will not be the last. In the near future, many more will join our illustrious ranks.”

“But what you are about to witness is an event that can only be orchestrated by the power of universal energy. And for that to happen, I will now call upon the assistance of my Yumi Elders, and one person with whom you are all very familiar.”

With a simple wave of her hands, the portal opens once again and the goddess Emphora steps through. She’s a striking figure in her own right with eyes that sparkle like crystal. Dressed in her customary silken gown and veils, Emphora bows respectfully and steps aside so that several hundred Yumi Masters can make their first ever public appearance. This is an historic moment for many reasons, but it is the first time that the people of Vela-Rishan have ever seen their Yumi forebears in the flesh.

Followed by Reuben and Sabu, Addric and Dheago make their way through a guard of honour, a delegation of Yumi Masters dressed in distinctive black robes. Not long after they have taken their place on the central podium, they are surrounded by the illustrious brotherhood known as The Council of Yumi Elders.

What follows is a ritual lost in the mist of time, one that starts as a haunting refrain, a reverberating sound that has no other purpose than to call upon the assistance of the most powerful of all universal energies.

It appears at first as a sphere of luminescent light, and a few moments later, a barely visible cosmic being makes a rare public appearance. She opens her arms and spreads her wings, and as she does so, she reveals the energy fields of the four young men who have been chosen to receive this honour.

An energy field is a vibrational construct, a sacred vessel of glistening threads and fibers that extends up to eight meters beyond the human body. Under normal circumstances, they would not be visible to the naked eye, but for a few fleeting moments, they appear in all of their glory.

As of this moment, the status of these four young men will change forevermore. From this day, until such time as they choose another path in life, they will be human beings with a divine soul.

But they will also be Yumi Masters of the Third Order, a unique community of highly advanced beings with vastly enhanced powers. And as they are about to find out, this is not just a lifestyle, it is also a job, and one that will offer a host of opportunities such as they could never have imagined.

































CHAPTER 5

RULES OF CONDUCT FOR A YUMI MASTER


Addric’s energy system has just been given a turbo boost to the next level, and for the next few hours, he wanders around as if he is floating on air. At the celebration which follows, he has an opportunity to speak to many interesting people, but there is a lot more to come.

They will be required to stay in Yunara for the next few days so that their progress can be monitored. The primary purpose is to attend a series of meetings with three Yumi Elders who hold offices of distinction. Their task is to brief them on what to expect as a Yumi Master, and instruct them on the advanced capabilities they have at their disposal.

“With power comes responsibility,” Lezula once told them, “and it is essential that you understand what you can and cannot do.”

Their first meeting is with the Divine Portia, a woman of some insight for whom a magnificent temple was erected in the precincts of the Imperial City.

“My task is to instruct you in ethics and responsibility,” she says, “and in particular on issues of conscience.”

“This is a necessity, especially if you were ever to make a mistake of judgment in any situation.”

They spend a long and interesting day exploring these ideas and listen closely to what Portia has to say.

“Rule Number One for a Yumi Master is known as the Prime Directive. It states, first and foremost, that you are not permitted to take the life of another living being. If a Yumi Master was to ever disrespect their vows, the punishment would be immediate and severe.’

“So, what would happen?” Addric says.

“You would be judged and if found guilty, you would spend the remainder of your days in the Phantom Zone.”

That would be enough to put the fear of God into anyone, but Portia is not finished yet. There are rules as to how they should act, especially if they were to find themselves in an awkward situation.

“You will visit many different places, and sometimes you may even become involved in situations of historical significance.”

Portia is keen to point out that they have to use their discretion. “Your actions could have an effect on the future of the people in question, or it could change the course of their history.”

The phrase, issues of conscience, is one that she uses repeatedly until it is embedded in their hearts and minds.

“You will encounter many people throughout the course of your life, and as such, your actions must not be arbitrary, they must be considered and responsible.”

“Sometimes you will offer them a helping hand, but as to whether or not you reveal the truth of what and who you are is up to you.”

It turns out to be an interesting meeting and one that leaves them with a lot to think about. But before they take their leave, Portia makes sure that they have a clear idea of the correct code of conduct for a Yumi Master in any situation.

“My final words are these,” she says, “just trust your instincts. For a Yumi Master, that is your safeguard.”


LORD RAGULE


Their next meeting is to be with Lord Ragule, the head of the Yumi Military Academy, a man of some distinction with silvery grey hair and a stylish grey beard. The first thing they notice on entering his office is four black robes suspended in mid-air.

“This is the robe presented to a Yumi Master following their initiation ceremony,” he says. “But they are only to be visible on specific occasions.”

“You will wear them for the rest of your lives. It is a uniform that will define who and what you are.”

“To be a Yumi Masters means that you have a position of some importance.”

“A Yumi Master is an official member of an elite group of people who have been designated as Peacekeepers of the Universe.”

“All Yumi Masters have been certified by the Intergalactic Alliance, the celestial body which oversees life in all sectors of the universe.”

“It is also a profession, and there will be times when you may have to resolve a crisis or intervene in a situation for one reason or another.”

“But you may also be called upon by the Alliance to resolve other problems. And in a situation like that, you will wear your robes as a soldier wears a uniform.”

“Has that ever happened,” Reuben says.

“It has, but you may also be required to assist your Yumi colleagues when they have a problem to deal with.”

“It has only been necessary to call on the services of Yumi Masters twice in the recent past, and in both cases it involved Yuriaten.”

“The first time was when he threatened to destroy the entire Yumi Council. That was only moments before Vela-Rishan was almost destroyed.”

“And the second time,” Dheago said.

‘We came to his assistance when he was about to have a confrontation with Morpheus on the smoldering remains of the Fire-Dragon.”

The Fire-Dragon was once an island in the Khavala, but its future changed after a ruthless criminal called Morpheus transformed it into a loaded missile. If it had not been for a concerted effort by many different people, Vela-Rishan may have had a very different future.

Yuriaten spent an eternity as a prisoner of Morpheus deep in the bowels of the Fire-Dragon, and after an experience of that nature, all he wanted was revenge. Not long after he was liberated, he returned to the Fire-Dragon with every intention of destroying Morpheus once and for all.

“But he did what every Yumi Master can do,” Lord Ragule says, “he called upon the assistance of the Yumi brotherhood.

“That is one of your options in a life-threatening situation, but only if you cannot handle it yourself.”

“If that happens, you can use a secret word, one that is telepathically transmitted to all Yumi Masters at once, a word which I will share with you in a few moments.”

“If you use this word, it will send out a distress signal and a cohort of Yumi warriors will be at your side immediately.”

“It is an ancient word of power and one that I will now imprint on your mind,” he says.

He places his hand on their heads and transfers the word into their memory banks. And once he has completed this routine, he questions them privately to ensure that they can pronounce it correctly.

“When expressed, it will telepathically relay an instant message for assistance, but it must never be used lightly, not unless it’s for a life-threatening situation, but wherever you are, we will respond.”

“Even if we’re in another galaxy or in a different part of the universe,” Addric says.

“Of course, Addric, you are now a member of a unique organisation, and it is not limited to this galaxy alone.”

Addric considers that to be useful information, as they have no idea where they will end up or what difficulties they may encounter.

“Now, this is the moment for which you have been waiting,” Lord Ragule says, “I am about to present you with your robes.”

He deactivates the energy field around each robe and ceremoniously places it on their shoulders.

“A robe has its own energetic signature, but once you put it on, you will never be able to take it off.”

“It will appear and disappear at your command, and apart from the fact that it never has to be laundered, it is also indestructible.”

“And you will be pleased to know that it has one particularly useful quality.

“And what is that?” Addric says.

“It offers the option of being invisible, but it must never be used to invade someone’s privacy, unless of course, it’s for strategic reasons.”

“To put it another way, that means you are not to stalk people or do anything unacceptable.”

“However, before you receive the clasp known as a Quadron, you must first pass a test, one that will be conducted by another Yumi Master, Sentirion.”

“And if you are successful, he will present you with a Quadron of your own and explain what it is and what it offers in terms of power.”

They thank Lord Ragule for a most interesting and instructive meeting and head back to the apartment. Addric and Dheago are familiar with the Quadron and know exactly what it is capable of.

They spend the remainder of the day drinking fine wines and pecking away at a delicious banquet. Lezula knew that they had several big days ahead and arranged for a trolley laden with a selection of delicious treats to be delivered to their apartment at an appointed time.

But this is all new territory to Sabu and he has questions.

“You have done so many different things,” he says, “and I haven’t done anything.”

He has every reason to feel as he does. Not all that long ago he was a simple shepherd boy who lived on a remote mountain, with nothing but a flock of sheep for company. But if it hadn’t been for a life-changing experience, Sabu would never have been offered the opportunity to become a Yumi Master.

“Sabu, this is something that everyone dreams of,” Addric says.

“I have no experience of anything at all,” he says.

“You have a long life ahead, and you will no doubt have many adventures of your own.”

Sabu is surprisingly well versed for someone who has never had an education before. He has learnt much about the world in the last three months, but they are just ideas and not the real thing.

“We have one more meeting to attend,” Addric says, “and after that we will be heading back to Vela-Rishan to continue your education.”

“And then Sabu, we will be planning the adventure of a lifetime.

‘’To where,” he says.

“Our first ever trip to Planet Earth.”


SENTIRION


When they arrive at his office the following morning, the Yumi Master, Sentirion is waiting at the door. He has striking features, jet black hair and almond shaped eyes, a physiological feature common to many people of Planet Earth. And even though he appears to be in his late thirties, he is no doubt, substantially older.

“My task is not to discuss your responsibilities, ethics or the intricacies of being the proud owner of a Yumi robe. It is to discuss the golden clasp which will be attached to your robe.”

“The Quadron is not just a decoration; it is an object of power.”

“Is it dangerous?” Sabu says.

“No it’s not Sabu, but it is powerful and it is essential that you understand what it can and cannot do.”

“Once it has been attached to your robe, you will never be able to remove it, but you won’t want to, once you know why.”

“It will calibrate itself to your energy system and become one of your most valuable possessions.”

“But it will allow you do many useful things. For one thing, it will give you enhanced strength and power whenever you need it.”

“It will allow you to appear and disappear at will, and travel from one destination to another by simply using thought power.”

“But there are provisos, conditions which apply.”

“Allow me to remind you what you have been told by the Divine Portia and Lord Ragule,” he said. “The privilege of being a Yumi Master is a God given gift and one you must use wisely.”

“You must never abuse your power, or use it for nefarious reasons, that means for evil or immoral purposes. If you did, you would soon find out why you should not have bothered.”

“What would happen?” Reuben says.

“You would return back here immediately and be judged by your Yumi Elders. And if you were found wanting, your life from that moment on would be a living nightmare.”

“You know to what I am referring, don’t you?”

They have already been warned about the Phantom Zone and understand exactly what he means.

“If that ever happens, you would never be able to remove the clasp and the robe would become your jailer and your worst enemy.”

“Has that ever happened to any Yumi Master before?” Addric says.

“It certainly has, to a few,” Sentirion says, but he doesn’t say any more than that.

“Before I attach the Quadron to your robe, you must make a solemn and sacred vow, one which will be locked into its memory banks.”

“To disrespect that vow is equivalent to a long and lingering death and one that will never end, a fate you would not wish on your worst enemy. Now would you?”

“I would, on Morpheus,” Addric says.

“Yes, I agree, Addric, but he was one of a kind and is now suffering a fate that no one would ever want to experience, a fate that will never end.”

“But I must ask you to think carefully about what you are about to do. If it’s not to your liking, you are not obliged to accept this offer.”

“If you have concerns, then do not even think about doing so.”

“I will allow you to have a short break and ask each of you to look within and make a decision.”

“After that, you must step through one of those doors over there and spend a few reflective minutes by yourself.”

On Sentirion’s command, they step out onto a balcony and into a world of mist and vapors. For all they know, it could be the Twilight Zone, but it does have the required effect. And if there is something that they are not aware of, it will rise to the surface immediately.

Addric waits with baited breath, curious as to what this experience will reveal. Thoughts and feelings flash through his mind, glimpses of a possible future, but that is not what this is about. This is a trial, and his heart and soul is under scrutiny. It lasts less than a few seconds and when it is over, something has changed.

“I passed the test,” he says, “I am now a Yumi Master and a human being with a divine soul.”

You are also the son of the Ocean of Infinity Mystery,” says a gentle voice in his head. “And from this day on, I will always be with you. Go now Addric, for you have a task to complete.”

Addric’s moment of introspection is over before he realises it. The door to Sentirion’s office opens automatically and he steps across the threshold.

“This is good news indeed, my friends, if you had not passed the test, if that door had not opened, there would be no point in continuing any further.”

“You would no longer be considered Yumi Masters and would not have the rights and privileges to this unique lifestyle.”

“What would have happened?” Reuben says.

“You would have returned back to a point in your life before any of this ever happened and have no memory of it at all.”

“Now, it is time to assume ownership of your Yumi robe and wear it with honour.”

Sentirion attaches the clasp to their robes, after which they are required to recite the vow.

“The Quadron is now active,” he says. “Congratulations my friends, you are now officially Yumi Masters of the Third Order.”

For the remainder of the afternoon, he instructs them in the fine art of conjuring.

“Conjuring is the act of creating whatever you want from thin air, but it does not happen automatically. The two primary requirements are an ordered mind and an imagination.”

“It would be to your advantage to develop your imagination. Take time out once a day and practice until you are perfect.”

“You can conjure up anything you can possibly imagine. Food and wealth are typical examples.”

“Your robes can be re-engineered to become a very different form of clothing altogether, but that will require a specific instruction of your own making.”

The most interesting skills are those of a somewhat more lethal nature, just in case they have to protect themselves in a life and death situation.

“From now on, you have the ability to create, but you also have the ability to destroy,” Sentirion says. “So we will spend some time looking at those options.”

“When it comes to the issue of self-defense, when your life or that of others is at risk, and you know instinctively that you must act, you don’t have to think about Yumi law, you must do what you have to.”

“All you have to do is raise your left or right hand, and a blast of light that glows like white hot metal will stream from your fingertips, and your designated target will be neutralised within seconds.”

“It would be best to practice on an isolated island in the Khavala so that you have some idea of the formidable power you now possess.”

“This is a divine gift and it is in your best interests to use your power wisely, but there is nothing to stop you from using your power generously.”

“So, we can give someone a present for one reason or another,” Addric says.

“Of course, Addric, and I hope you would do so from time to time.”

Before the meeting is over, Sentirion wishes them a long and eventful life, but he also tells them that Yunara will be their home until the end of time.

“You will come and go for different reasons, sometimes to regenerate your spirit, or to spend time with friends and family.”

“And occasionally, you will also be required to attend special events such as the one you have just experienced.”

“I am a good judge of character and I feel certain that you will do everything we have suggested.”
































CHAPTER 6

EMPHORA'S SHIP


Life as a shepherd did little to prepare Sabu for a bustling metropolis on such a grand scale. A big city is something he has never experienced before. He’s a stranger in a strange world, but it could have been different, if not for his newfound friends.

“Just do your best,” Addric says, “and when all else fails, remember Sabu, that you are a Yumi Master now.”

Addric’s long held dream to visit Planet Earth is the next item on the agenda, and as a consequence, preparations are underway. Addric has invited a few close friends, but on an impulse he makes a last minute decision to invite Felicity Originalis and the Countess Demetra along as well.

“They’re interesting women and this will be a great opportunity to get to know them,” he said.

As to which mode of transport they will use, they have not yet decided. Hector generously offers the Impirialis, the most advanced ship in the Jhalian League, but according to Addric it has one major drawback.

“It looks like a big black helmet with evil red eyes and that would not be an advantage.

“Why don’t we take my ship,” Emphora says.

“That’s an excellent idea.”

“And it event has a cloaking device.”

They could end up anywhere at all, and the last thing they want is to materialise in the middle of a warzone. Emphora’s ship has the unique ability to blend in with the environment. A tree in a forest is just a tree in a forest. And if her ship looks like any other tree, a passerby would not even give it a second glance.

The control panel is not as up to date as it could be, and as a consequence, Hector arranges for a complete refit. A team of technicians not only relocate the command centre to the middle of the main deck, they install several state-of-the-art video monitors as well. But before they go anywhere at all, a training session is essential.

“This is a voice-operated system which now has a built-in failsafe mechanism,” Hector says, “one it has never had before.”

“Once a command has been given, it appears as a line of text on the screen, but the ship won’t go anywhere, not until that command has been verified.’

“That’s a bonus as far as I’m concerned,” Addric says.


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