Echoes of Power
Parts 26 – 30
Alexandre woke up the next morning with the sounds of someone preparing breakfast in the kitchen, a loud metallic crash sound had startled the teenager out of his comfortable sleeping state. He chuckled lightly in a sleepy voice when he heard a few curses coming from downstairs, his father must have dropped a pan while he was washing the dishes. He looked at the clock, five minutes past seven. He still had a few minutes of sleep left before the alarm rang but the light-haired teenager decided to get up anyways, it wouldn’t be worth it to try to go back to sleep.
He rolled on his back and stayed like that, silent and unmoving, for a couple of minutes, simply staring at the ceiling before sitting up with a grunt. He jumped in the bathroom for a quick wash and then got dressed before climbing down the stairs and entering the kitchen.
“Good morning Alexandre, did you sleep well?” Asked David as he cooked friend eggs in a large frying pan.
“Hey dad!” Replied Alexandre with a small smile. “Already up?” He added, unable to hide his surprise.
“Yeah, I thought I was going to sleep in too this morning but I woke up half an hour ago feeling strangely refreshed so I just got up.” Replied his father with a smile, adding some spices to the eggs which were almost ready.
“Do you want some?” Asked the older man before his son had time to reply.
“Yes please.” Nodded Alexandre, sitting down in his usual spot around the table. “That’s strange, I was already sleeping when you came back so I thought you’d be more tired than that…”
“Yeah, me too. I guess it’ll get to me later during the day…” Shrugged David as he sat down at the table after serving both of them.
“Oh, by the way.” Started the man in his late forties. “I’m starting at eight today, weekly meeting with the boss, do you want me to drop you off at school on the way?” He asked as energetically he gobbled up the contents of his plate.
“Well why not, I’d get there before Bryan for once.” Agreed the young man with a small smirk.
He ate his breakfast while listening to his father talking about the intervention of the previous night. The teenager caught the words server, defective memory and crash so he deduced his father must have had spent the evening and part of the night repairing a database for a local company. In return Alexandre told him about his second day of school before cleaning his plate int he sink and rushing upstairs to brush his teeth and clean his face again. He had already been waiting for a couple of minutes in front of the car when his father finally walked out of the house and locked the door.
They arrived at the school less than five minutes later and Alexandre got out of the car after wishing a good day to his father. The teenager then proceeded to wait for his best friend to arrive just to see the look on his face, leaning against the wall near the school gates.
“You here, and so early?!” Exclaimed Bryan with a surprised look when he finally arrived, riding his bike as usual.
“Yup, dad drove me here today, he dropped me off five minutes ago. Impressed I gather?”
“Completely astonished even!” Exclaimed Bryan with a mocking smile as he locked his bike to the nearby bike rack before following his friend towards the school buildings.
The day passed quickly, in similar fashion to the previous ones, the beginning of the year always was an excuse for the teachers to slowly get into the heart of the program and for the students to laze around and have fun during the last days of summer. The two teenagers passed by the manga store in the commercial zone to order the new tome of the series they had been reading for a few years now. Soul King had started five years before and when they had discovered they were both avid readers and since then they had bought each new book together. The tradition was to read it over the course of the week-end and to discuss their impressions and thoughts on the story the next week.
This small habit at first had lingered and slowly turned into a weekly ritual. Of course they had to slow their reading pace down as they advanced through the books because of the slow rhythm of publication but sill, they had kept reading it together. Most of their Mondays following them buying a new tome consisted in them discussing their thoughts and not paying attention to anything else. That day they had just come to make sure they would get a copy once it came out at the end of the next week. Once they made sure they would get a copy each the two teenagers walked out of the store and each went their own way after wishing a good evening to each other.
During the next few days things went by without any interesting incident to report, as normal as could be. Bryan completely crushed his best friend during the sport classes, leaving him far behind during the 100 meters runs but the light-haired teenager managed to get his revenge on DtR by completely destroying the other teenager’s avatar in a matter of seconds. David had late calls almost each night and so he and Alexandre had even less time than usual to spend together, the classes became more difficult as the teachers finally began to really delve into the courses. And then, without the teenager even realizing it, it was already Friday, he and Alexandre had to retrieve their books that evening.
The two best friends both walked out of the store barely ten minutes after the end of classes, they had both rushed to retrieve the sixty-fourth tome of Soul King before each going their own way once more, both of them excited to read it as fast as possible. Alexandre was surprised but glad to see his father’s car in front of the garage as he reached the house, he opened the door with a large smile.
“Yeah, I finished earlier than I thought tonight, no emergency for once and the boss said he’d take care of the rest. So I’m here until tomorrow morning unless there’s a big problem.” Explained David Parson as his wondered about him being home so early.
“Awesome!” Exclaimed Alexandre, his large smile still plastered on his face.
“What do you think about a double or triple feature night tonight?” Asked the older man with a smile as he started preparing grilled chicken with some corn.
“Yes, that’s great, I’m going to look at what we could watch tonight!” Replied the teenager as he rushed to his room to put his stuff away for the evening.
Twenty minutes later they were sitting in front of the large screen and watching The Throne, an old movie that Bryan had praised a few times and which Alexandre had been planning to watch for a while now. The teenager had been immediately convinced after looking at the trailer only once. As usual he was so focused on the movie that when the end credits finally rolled he realized he hadn’t even finished his plate and had to heat it again in the microwave before finishing it. Bryan doesn’t have such bad tastes after all… He smirked at the thought.
He put down his plate in the sink and rejoined his father on the couch, the older man seemed to have enjoyed the movie a lot too as they talked about it for a full half hour, exchanging their impressions, which was rare for both of them. The light-haired teen then wished a good night to his father before climbing the stairs to his room, he changed into his pyjamas and sat down on his bed to read a bit. Unfortunately he realized he couldn’t quite get the film out of his mind and couldn’t concentrate on the story of the book. After ten minutes of re-reading the same page Alexandre finally gave up and decided to sleep.
It took him some time to fall asleep, his brain refused to calm down and kept coming back to that epic ending that had completely amazed him. Finally, without realizing it, he felt his eyes close and his mind drift off to the lands of the beautiful Morpheus. When Alexandre entered the kitchen the following morning he found a note left by his father telling him he had gone off to work early and that he wouldn’t be back until late in the evening. There were also a few ideas of things he could prepare for lunch and as always his old man was telling him he loved him.
Alexandre couldn’t help smiling as he put the small piece of paper back on the counter. He picked up the latest tome of Soul King and started devouring it as he ate his breakfast, a bowl full of cereals and chocolate milk. He held the book in his left hand, eating with his right. Years of experience in eating while reading had helped him develop this useful coordination and he was able to put food from his spoon to his mouth without ever looking away from the book.
He finally gulped down the last spoonful of cereals and decided to close the sixty fourth tome of Soul King for now, prefering to keep some of it for later, he still had the whole week-end to read it after all. He booted up the computer and logged on toDefend the Ruins, ready to give the assault on the kreglin fortress as soon as one of his friends came online. He only had to wait a few minutes before the party was large enough to begin the quest, they managed to clear the first steps in a breeze, coordinating precisely thank to the built-in vocal chat system of the game. The teenager only stopped when he felt his stomach rumble and realized it was already past noon.
“Damn it!” He swore as he said farewell to his companions and logged out of the game.
The teenager hesitated a few seconds before finally deciding not to turn it off, preferring to boost up the volume and launch his favorite playlist, which he had perfected over the years, as he started to prepare his meal. Alexandre started singing loudly as the speakers blasted the music loudly, he took out one of the largest cooking pans he found to have enough space to cook while at the same time to try not to dirty the cooktop too much. He then got out a large saucepan and prepared the frying oil to cook some french fries. He had the freedom to prepare anything he wished and he wasn’t about to let it got to waste!
He looked at the carrots for a second, hesitant to prepare them too, but finally decided to do it. As he proceeded with the mildly repetitive task his mind drifted off to the voice he heard sometimes in his head and that’s when it happened. It happened so quickly he couldn’t tell if this was a simple coincidence or if the voice had simply appeared in his mind at that exact moment because he had unconsciously wanted it. He heard the words boom in his mind, echoing loudly. He took a quick step back in surprise and almost tripped, only managing to get his balance back by grabbing the counter near him.
This, however, forced him to swing his arm wildly. He hit a glass that had been lying nearby with his elbow and saw as it ever slowly tipped over the wooden edge before falling towards the ground. Time almost froze at that moment, it took the teenager a moment that seemed like an eternity to realize that he had to grab it before it hit the hard ground and shattered in hundreds of pieces. He stopped thinking and willed himself to move, his mind completely focused on the fact that he had to catch it. In that instant it had become the only goal in his life, the only thing he knew he had to do, his mind and body both straining to their maximum to reach their goal.
At the same time he could hear the thundering voice booming in his head, louder and louder. Not now! Not the moment for that! He groaned angrily as he felt the headache grow in his temples. Alexandre could see his open fingers slowly reach for the glass but he knew he wouldn’t be fast enough to catch it, no matter how hard he wished for it, the glass would shatter without leaving him any chance of catching it. That’s when he heard it, more clearly than ever, silencing any other thought in his head and making him focus completely on it. Nestros. The voice had just pronounced one of the rare words he had been able to understand in all those years it had plagued him.
He was about to swear again, unnerved by the mysterious entity that had chosen this moment to reveal this to him, but he was cut short. Nestros. It pronounced the same word a second time, as clearly and as loudly as the first time, imposing it as an evidence, as the only evidence in the whole universe to him for a brief moment. What the-? His mind wasn’t fast enough to process what was going on and he felt as if he was missing on something important, as if it was trying to tell him something. This had never happened before but he couldn’t fathom why it was happening at that precise moment.
The meaning of all this was completely escaping him as he was still trying to catch the empty glass in time before it hit the ground. he would have voiced this once more, or at least tried to, had the mysterious voice not spoken a third time. Nestros. This time his mind went completely blank as the sounds echoed in his head, he felt himself slip in a semi-conscious state as his eyes suddenly focused on the glass and it appeared as clear as day in his mind.
Suddenly it came to him, as a wave of warmth spread all across his body, Alexandre instantly knew with absolute certainty that the voice somehow wanted him to repeat the word out loud. He contemplated the idea for a fraction of a fraction of a second, hesitating about the reason for such a certainty to dawn on him, but the falling glass, less than twenty centimeters away from the ground, steeled his resolve. Whatever he was thinking didn’t matter, whatever his doubts may have been did not matter, this was the only way that had been offered to him and he had to take it. And so he did.
“Nestros!” He heard himself shout as quickly and as loudly as he could.
Time seemed to freeze for an infinitely short moment before suddenly coming back crashing into him, like a dam had just broken, freeing the immense amount of water it held back and letting it flow out into a raging flood. He felt himself fall again as his breath was completely sucked out of his chest. The teenager fell on his knees, barely managing to slow his fall by raising his hands in front of him to lessen the impact.
His vision started to blur and he felt himself falling to the right, hitting the ground on his side with a thud. His body was drained of all its strength, he couldn’t move, struggling to barely managing to stay conscious. His lungs were on fire, unable to renew their much-needed dose of oxygen, his head felt like it was getting smashed into a million pieces. But, as everything around him faded into darkness and he felt his mind slip away into an unconscious state, he saw the glass on the ground. Standing straight, still in once piece. If he wasn’t in such a state of exhaustion he would’ve sworn that he had seen it slow down in the middle of its fall and delicately touch down on the hard and cold ground.
Then everything went black.