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In the world of The World of Acuthan

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Chapter 2

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His body was virtually numb. He had been chasing them for ages and could not continue much longer, but he kept running. The freezing temperature in the ice caves was taking its toll. Again he heard his mother's cry, now so weak with the imminence of death. She is close, just a little further. He rounded a turn and there she was, running away from him. Mother, STOP please! It's me.

You will never stop me. My son will live and make you pay. Kailin Kai looked back and saw Joziah, turned her head away again and found the strength to speed around the next corner.

Having seen her look directly at him a dumbfounded Joziah pushed on. Mother, please! He carried on running and after several more minutes heard cracking sounds followed by a deep rumble. It was coming from just beyond a bend further along the tunnel.

As he rounded the turn, he came face to face with his mother at last. She was leaning against a huge, solid wall of ice, both palms pressed against this dead end, as she looked over her shoulder at him in fear. Her clothes were ripped and her usual flawless hair was knotted and loaded with ice crystals.

Suddenly he saw the rest of his family. His young sister and brother were huddled together in the middle of this roughly circular cave. The not yet four year old Mythra clung to her brother Folen, her tears freezing on her snow-white face before they could find their way to her delicate chin. Her green eyes were so pure and reminded Joziah of Shel, only making the scene harder to bear. Just three years older, Folen could do nothing but hold his sister in fearful silence. Even at their tender age they knew the outcome that was upon them. So young they had been taught of the persecution faced by those of their faith. Thousands of Koushan Mai were murdered before they reached their teens; there was simply no time to allow children to be children. And then Folen gently took his sister's head in his violently shaking hands, placed it against his, and turned both their faces away from this scene as their parents had earlier instructed him to. As best they could, they began to gently recite the words of a song Joziah recognised instantly. Their voices croaked through it until it was barely a whisper.

And there stood his father, tall and strong, protectively in front of his children. No tears, but his firm jaw was clenched, its muscles forming valleys and peaks not unlike the surrounding terrain they had earlier crossed on the last leg of their journey, before reaching the base of The Teeth. At his side he carried a small but razor sharp sword, a light weapon only, clearly intended for use as a last resort should their flight not succeed.

Father, I love you. Please explain to me what is going on. But those words were not what Joziah heard leave his mouth.

Jandar, resigned to his next unthinkable action, spat out the last words he would ever utter. Your hand will not violate the beauty of my children Caillan. With that he swiftly spun round, his sword a blur as he expertly cleaved the heads of both his most beloved children in one sweep. They died instantly. No pain. No more suffering.

With Joziah standing in utter shock, Jander turned back to face him, knowingly at the end now with tears unstoppable pouring through those valleys with the force of rivers.

With his attention on the horror he had just witnessed, Joziah only caught sight of his mother at the last moment as she near silently pounced, thrusting a dagger towards his neck. Reflexively he blocked her with his curved, shining katana. With movement he had never learned, he struck back.

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Joziah snapped out of his unconsciousness with a piercing scream. Tears fell from his reddened face, tears not unlike those he had just seen on his father's hard lined face. The faces of his brother and sister haunted him.

"Joziah!" Fillian ran into the bedchamber in a panic. "What in the blood-lands just happened?"

"The vision uncle. The strongest ever. I finally reached them. But I ki..." Joziah's voice trembled off to the imperceptible as his torrent of tears physically prevented him from speaking any further.

"Ease yourself nephew. Be calm. Remember what I taught you". Fillian walked to Joziah's side, took both his hands and pushed them together as if in prayer. "Breathe. Focus solely on your breath. Slowly, slowly now". He looked intently at Joziah as he softly gave instructions that gradually brought Joziah to a more peaceful state, at least one where he could breathe without choking and his body was more relaxed.

"Now, and slowly, tell me what you saw and heard". Satisfied that Joziah was in a good enough frame of mind, Fillian pressed on with the technique he had used after many of Joziah's dreams or visions; attempting to place him into a mental state where he could recapture the images.

Joziah began to relate the occurrence to his uncle. But at the moment of the death of his siblings he could not carry on to relay those final few moments. He thought of his parents. What happened to them? Frustrated but understanding, Fillian bade Joziah return to sleep so he was ready for their long journey at dawn.

With final help from his uncle's calming touch and soothing words, Joziah floated away, not to awaken until dawn and with no further visions penetrating his mind.

For a good while Fillian sat on the edge of the old wooden and straw stuffed bed to make sure that Joziah was comfortable and breathing easily. There was a new moon again last night, Fillian thought. His visions continue to match the cycle. He then quietly slipped away to think on what he had been told.

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