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Author's note: I've always loved astrology, and that's basically what this book is based on.
The circular table was surrounded by a circle of exactly eleven people who were all wearing robes in a circular room. The ceiling was decorated with a circle divided into twelve, each one having a strange symbol. Each of the people sat on thrones, gilded with different kinds of stones. One throne stood empty and all the people were staring at it.
One of them leaned forward, clearing his throat. “It has been a long while since one of us has been lost.”
Another one, a girl, gave him an icy stare. “Aquarius, let us not forget Scorpio easily. He was a good man.”
Another man sighed at the girl. “Pisces, it is time to let go.” He stood up. “The signs have pointed that a young farm boy is to be the next Scorpio.”
Pisces snorted. “Aries, I will never let another man take Scorpio’s rightful place.”
A beautiful woman sighed. “I know what he meant to you.” She said, taking Pisces’s hand. “But Aries and Aquarius are right. Even though you have known him the longest, we all mourn him. But we have duties, and they cannot be hindered by our own personal feelings.”
Pisces nodded stiffly. “Very well, Virgo.” With that, she turned into water and flowed out of the room.
A man sighed. “She will have to teach this new boy.”
Elyon raked the ground for what it was worth. He shaded his eyes as Rhea came up to him. He looked over at her. She gave him a little water, then watched him drink it.
“It’s been a hot day.” She said.
“Yeah.” Elyon muttered as he drank deeply. He looked around. Mount Pyle rose up as normal, its top hidden by clouds. On top were the stargazer’s homes. No one had seen them, and you wouldn’t unless you were a stargazer.
“When will the farming season end?” Rhea asked. She didn’t farm the land, but looked after the planter’s family. Their planter was Namath, one of the richer ones. He was a good master, although a little quiet. He was Tarus though, so it was no surprise.
“In October. Then we have to take care of the livestock.” Elyon replied.
“I don’t get why you can’t take care of the cattle year-round.”
Elyon looked at her incredulously. “The cattle stink. It’s better to break your back over plants.”
“So pain is better than smell?”
Rhea sighed impatiently. “I still don’t get why you’re not in the household. You’d be perfect!”
“It’s ‘cause I have muscles. And I can’t leave Matte here.” Matte was Elyon’s adopted brother. He was an orphan, like Elyon. Since they were bought together, Matte was Elyon’s responsibility. Matte carried water and helped feed the farmers. All the while though, he was secretly trying to rise above and become a planter.
Elyon tried to talk him out of it. He even asked Rhea’s help. But Matte was still convinced he could become a planter. Elyon knew how it felt. He wanted to get out of the fields too. But they were farmers. There was nothing they could do. The only way to get out was to become a stargazer. But they picked randomly, and every other century. Stargazers lived forever until someone killed them.
Recently, there were rumors that the stargazers were looking for a new one. But it was usually just wishful thinking. The stargazers hadn’t chosen a new one since long ago. Legend was that it was a Pisces. Now they were looking for a Scorpio.
Even though Elyon knew it was ridiculous, he couldn’t help but get his hopes up. He was Scorpio. It would make sense for him to be chosen. But he decided if they ever asked him, he’d say no, because Matte needed him. And Rhea. Rhea was his friend. He couldn’t just leave them. Elyon sighed and went back to raking the ground.
Elyon woke up. He yawned and stretched. Everything was quiet. The barracks that he lived was silent. He scrambled out of bed, cursing when he realized that it was bright out. He scrambled around the room until a chuckle from the doorway turned him around. “Rhea, I can’t talk. I’m late.”
Then he realized that it wasn’t Rhea he had talked too. The girl looked similar to her, but it wasn’t her. The girl in the doorway had black hair that fell in waves, was tall, and carried herself the same way Rhea did. But this girl’s eyes were blue, and Rhea’s were black.
Then Elyon looked around. The room he was in was lavishly decorated, with the design of the scorpion everywhere. He looked at the bed. It was studded with topaz and a sign was on top of the canopy. It was the sign of the Scorpion. Then he looked down at his clothes. He was dressed in deep red robes, and as he looked around, he realized that the whole room was that color.
“Come.” The girl said. She had robes like Elyon’s, but they were sea-green instead. “The council wishes to meet you.” She turned into water and flowed from the room. Elyon stood still for a moment, wishing he had the same ability. Then he sighed and followed her.
Rhea was starting to get worried. Elyon wasn’t at the fields, and Matte couldn’t find him either.
“He’s gone.” Matte whispered to Rhea. “No one’s seen him since last night. He wasn’t in the barracks this morning, but he was there last night.” He hurried away with his water, and Rhea was determined to get to the bottom of this puzzling mystery.
Elyon self-consciously stood in the middle of the circular room. 11 people were surveying him, all sitting on thrones. He scratched on leg with the other, wondering if he was dreaming.
“You’re not dreaming.” The girl who had turned into water was talking to him.
A man in turquoise robes cleared his throat. “Perhaps we should introduce ourselves. I am Aquarius.”
A woman in pastel robes overrode him. “We will introduce ourselves later. Elyon, you have been chosen to be the next Scorpio stargazer. From now on your name will be Scorpio.”
Elyon opened his mouth, but no sound came out. Finally, he was able to say, “I am sorry but-”
The water girl interrupted him. “Yes, we know about Matte and Rhea. But the stars have chosen. You don’t have a choice. You will be the next Scorpio. However little we want it.” She muttered underneath her breath.
“Don’t worry.” A man in purple robes smiled at him. “It will be fun. It is serious, but it is wonderful.”
“Can I visit Rhea and Matte?”
A woman in brown robes gave him a sympathetic smile. “No. Stargazers live separate lives from the rest of the world. Our duties prevent us from having worldly relationships with others, excepting those in this room.”
A man in bright red robes cleared his throat. “She means we can’t have romantic relationships. It distracts us from what is important. And friendships with those outside of this room are often torn to pieces.”
A woman in pink robes that sat next to the man explained it a bit more. “We live on another level. They will not understand our life. It becomes difficult after a while to live in the mortal world. It is best to leave those friendships behind.”
A man in silver robes started reminiscing about a friend of his. “I had a friend. He was wonderful, passionate, caring, everything a person could want.”
“What happened?” Elyon asked him, half-scared of the answer.
“He didn’t understand my life. He couldn’t. It was impossible. You are semi-immortal. Mortals don’t comprehend things like we do. They don’t see the things we do.”
“Have you ever seen silver dust scattered across the sky?” A man in orange robes asked him.
“That is Stardust. When you are ready, you will go and absorb some. From then on, you will become exactly like us.” The man surveyed Elyon seriously. “Your actions will have serious consequences. You can do the water trick that Pisces is able to do. You can do many things after you absorb the Stardust. It will become your power, and you must protect it. Enjoy the time you have right now, and prepare for an endless fight.”
“An endless fight against what?”
“Chaos.” A man in yellow robes replied. “The essence of evil is what we fight. Otherwise it will overwhelm Mount Pyle, and from there, it can destroy the world. Our duty is to fight it, to make sure it is controlled, and the world is safe. That will be your duty. Once you absorb the Stardust, you will be able to see agents of Chaos. We have to defend the world from these people.”
Elyon nodded obediently. Secretly, he was planning on escaping to talk to Rhea and Matte, despite the warnings. Nothing will ever come between us. He thought confidently.
“What do you mean gone?” Rhea shrieked at Namath.
“The stargazers have left their sign.” He pulled out a beautiful circle split into twelve sections. Each section represented a sign of the zodiac. Rhea covered her mouth with her hands. On the Scorpio section, a name was carved. The name was Elyon. He had been taken to replace the old Scorpio, who had apparently died.
Rhea didn’t know what to fear more, the fact that she might not see Elyon again, or the fact that someone had been powerful enough to kill a stargazer, and that Elyon might be heading towards the same fate.
“Let’s start with the simplest of moves.” The water girl-Pisces-said. It turned out that she had been chosen to train Elyon. She concentrated and suddenly Elyon blacked out. When he awoke, he was staring up at her face. “Too hard?” Pisces smirked.
“Why do you hate me?” Elyon grumbled, rubbing his temples. He was starting to get a headache.
“Because you’re not Scorpio.” Pisces snarled.
“I am Scorpio.” Elyon was really confused right now.
“Not you! The old Scorpio.” Elyon paused, and Pisces smirked. “He was better than you in everything! He would say that this was nothing. You’re not half the man he is.”
“Not to me. No one else says it, but can’t believe a simple farm boy was chosen to take his place. He would sacrifice anything to save this Earth. And you won’t even try!”
“Well, maybe if you told me what you were doing and how to block it, I would’ve tried.”
Pisces glared at him. “Fair enough. In order to block me, you need to focus on one thing. The one thing that you’re fighting for.”
Elyon nodded, and concentrated on Matte and Rhea. He started to feel pressure building up in his head but he wouldn’t let his guard down. He ignored the pressure and continued to think of his friends.
Finally, the pressure went away. “Excellent!” A voice crowed from behind the arches that surrounded the courtyard that Elyon was currently in.
“Wonderful!” A man in yellow robes bowed down. “We didn’t get to speak yesterday. I am Gemini, the twins.” He sighed wistfully. “I remember my twin.”
“When did you last see him?” Elyon asked.
“Oh…must be 600 years. Maybe 900. Time is quicker here than in the mortal world.” Gemini scared Elyon slightly. Gemini saw the expression on Elyon’s face. “Go do whatever you do Pisces. I need to have a talk with Scorpio.”
Pisces shrugged and turned into water. “Everyone makes it sound so serious.” Gemini said, throwing his arm around Elyon’s shoulder.
“Make what sound so serious?” Elyon was mystified by Gemini. He sounded so positive, like a ray of sunshine. The yellow robes fit him, mused Elyon.
“The fight against Chaos. We’re gonna keep fighting it, for all eternity. Of course, we never get a thank you for our work, but that’s our life.”
“You sound so enthusiastic about it.” Elyon noted.
Gemini shrugged. “Hey, this is all I have. Might as well make it happy.”
“Fighting for all eternity?”
“You lose people. The only ones I lost were Pisces, and of course, Scorpio.”
“Pisces is a replacement?” Elyon was startled. He didn’t think the rumor was true.
“Yeah. Scorpio was her tutor. She loved him like a father.” During the time that they were talking, they were walking around the palace, which was more like a small city.
It was devoid of people though. There weren’t people running around. It was just how Elyon imagined Mohali, the big city, would be. Mohali wouldn’t be as grand though. It couldn’t have precious jewels lining every wall and every wall being made out of gold. The city seemed semi-alive. It had beautiful courtyards, paved streets, light shining down, and grand houses. But it was also dead, in that there was no one to enjoy them. Sometimes, Elyon would see a fellow stargazer, but they all seemed used to the silence.
Now he and Gemini were standing at the edge of the city. Beneath them were clouds, but they could still see the landscape. It was breath-taking. Elyon could just stare at it forever. The plantations were divided into farms that were large green pockets of land.
The mountain was ringed by an enormous city. The buildings were tall, but they never were close to half-way up the mountain. Or even a quarter way. Elyon used to think that Earth was a flat plain. He was proved wrong when he saw mountains in the distance. They ringed the entire Earth. Gemini saw where he was looking.
“That is where Chaos reigns.” He said.
“No. Beyond the mountains.”
“What does he look like?” Elyon asked curiously.
“He?” Repeated Gemini incredulously. “Chaos isn’t a he. It’s an it. That’s what gives Chaos its power. It’s an idea, not a thing, not a person. This is the last safe haven.”
“What happens if Chaos wins?”
“Then we all die.”
Elyon carefully climbed down the mountainside. He never really appreciated how high Mount Pyle was. Strangely, he didn’t feel tired. He didn’t feel anything at all. He ran past Mohali and into the plantation in which he was raised. He realized that this happened in a few seconds.
He ran up to Rhea’s cabin, pulling the dark red cloak that he had found in his closet tighter. He slipped in, like a red shadow, and found Rhea sleeping on the floor. He touched her and she stirred. Suddenly her eyes opened and her mouth began to form a scream.
Elyon put his hand against her mouth. “Quiet!” He hissed at her. Rhea’s eyes widened when she recognized his voice. Elyon took her hand and pulled her outside.
“Elyon!” Rhea exclaimed. She hugged him. “They told me I’d never see you again!”
“They were wrong.” He grinned. “But right.”
Confusion clouded Rhea’s features. “But you’re here.”
“I’m not supposed to be here.” Elyon informed her. “How’s Matte?”
“He’s fine, but he’s really lonely. There’s no one to talk too.”
“Yeah. It’s worse on Mount Pyle.”
“What’s going on?”
Elyon hesitated. He wondered if he should tell her about Chaos. He decided she didn’t need to know about it. “My trainer, Pisces, hates me. It’s because she was close with the last Scorpio, so now she thinks I’ve ‘replaced’ him.”
Rhea sighs. “It’s worse here. It’s very hot, and we’ve had 4 people faint from heatstroke already.” Rhea looked at Elyon. “When will I see you again?”
Elyon shrugged. “I don’t know. Just keep a lantern lit for me.” With that, he ran all the way back to Mount Pyle.
“So, were where you yesterday night?” Pisces asked Elyon. They were in the middle of a mind battle, Pisces pressing against Elyon’s consciousness. Elyon didn’t answer. “It must have been that girl. Rhea, isn’t it?” She taunted.
“I was asleep.” Elyon grunted.
The attack against his mind ceased. “You were visiting her.” When Elyon opened his mouth to protest, Pisces raised her hand. “Don’t lie to me. I was once a trainee too. Everyone sneaks away in the beginning.” She smiled, and it wasn’t a pretty one. “But by and by, you’ll realize you’re different, and you won’t talk to her anymore.” Pisces shrugged. “You’ll get used to the loneliness eventually.” She whirled around and left.
“Odd person, isn’t she?” A man in silver robes appeared. “Don’t worry, Pisceans always vary in mood. She must’ve been in a good one.” He smiled at Elyon. “I am Cancer.”
Elyon nodded respectfully. “Why was I chosen?”
“The stars said so. Once the stars make a decision, it is impossible to against it.”
Cancer looked at him in surprise. “Harm always befalls those who do not follow. It will come to pass even if you do not want it too.” He sighed. “A pity Pisces will not see that.”
“How close was she? With the old Scorpio?”
Cancer looked at him mournfully. Even though he looked quite young, his eyes showed how truly old he was. “Very close. If they weren’t stargazers…who knows? But that is the sacrifice we make.”
“But I didn’t choose too!” Elyon protested.
“None of us do. It is the hardest thing to understand, why you were chosen. But once you consume some of the stardust, you will understand why.”
“What is it like? The stardust.”
Cancer smiled at him. “It’s magical.” Then he turned around and walked off, leaving Elyon alone in the courtyard.
Elyon wandered around the meandering roads of the mini-city. It amazed him that this was made just for twelve people. It could hold the entire population of his old plantation. At the thought of it, he felt a pang in his chest. His old life was less complex than this one. He didn’t have to worry about evil forces chasing him around, trying to kill him.
He sighed as he gazed at the valley below. “It’s a wonderful sight.” A young man in red robes materialized next to him. “I’ve been everywhere there.”
“Really?” Elyon doubted it. The valley looked so huge.
“Yup. I’m Aries.”
“What where you? Before you became a stargazer.”
“I was a street kid from the city. When I found out I was a stargazer,” He smiled. “I was so happy that I had something to eat. I felt a little guilty that I’d left behind my little sister.” He grew serious. “She’s dead now. But I’d always slip down and give her food. I wanted to bring her up here, but that’s against the rules.”
“How did she die?” The question slipped out of Elyon’s mouth before he could stop it.
“I brought her up here. She’d been beaten the night before, and I had to get her out of Mohali. Once she got here,” Aries smiled grimly. “Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.” He looked at Elyon. “If you’re ever desperate to save someone, don’t bring them up here. Even if they’re going to die. It’s not an easy passing.”
Elyon shuddered. He was thinking about bringing Matte and Rhea up here, but Aries’s warning scared him. What could be that bad?
As Aries turned, Elyon continued to watch the sunset. He thought about Aries’s lost sister, and wondered who she could’ve been.
Elyon stared at the lantern. For a few months now, he’d been visiting Rhea. He’d remembered the warnings, but brushed them off. He’d thought them just as ramblings. Besides, tomorrow was his Stardust Ceremony. After that, he’d be battling Chaos full-time, and he couldn’t visit her anymore. He took a deep breath, and knocked.
A curtain opened, and he saw Rhea’s eyes peek out. She unlatched the door and came out. She threw herself into his arms and sobbed. “What happened?” Elyon was shocked. The only time he’d seen Rhea cry was when her brother had died. He was only a baby, and it was a fever.
“I’m getting married!” She cried. “I don’t want to. I can’t! It’s to some farmer! But I don’t like him! He’s awful!”
“Who is he?”
“Mayas.” Elyon remembered Mayas. He was proud and arrogant. He was the illegitimate son of some planter, and that had made him proud…too proud. “Can you take me away?” She asked him.
“No. I can’t. I can’t do anything.”
“You’re a stargazer!” Rhea protested. Elyon suddenly realized what the others meant. She didn’t understand what he did. She’d never understand what he did. They existed on two different planes. She thought he could do anything. But Elyon couldn’t do anything. He couldn’t stop her wedding. He couldn’t save her. He didn’t have any power on Earth.
“Rhea.” He began. “I can’t visit you anymore. I have other things to do. I can’t stay.”
“Because I’ll become a full stargazer tomorrow. And that means doing things. Things that you can’t be a part of.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I don’t want you to.” Elyon kissed her forehead. “Good-bye.” He ran, leaving in his wake a confused Rhea.
When he got to his palace-house, Pisces was waiting outside. She gave him a sympathetic look. “It’s best to leave it quickly. She’ll hurt for a while, but she’ll be fine. Mayor will tame his pride when Rhea comes into the picture.”
Elyon went inside and Pisces followed. “How do you know she will be happy?”
She smiled a mysterious smile. “It’s written in the stars. And the stars never lie.”
“Do they mislead?” There was a bite in the question. Elyon sat down on a comfy chair, and Pisces sat down on the opposite chair. Pisces flicked her wrist and instantly there was a fire in the fireplace.
When Elyon raised his eyebrows, all she said was, “There has to be a connection between my element and what I do.”
“So are you.” The statement was brief, acknowledging the connection between them.
Elyon sighed then rubbed his face with his hands. “Why are you being so nice to me?”
Pisces shrugged. “Perhaps I feel sorry for you. Either way, you have been through a trying night.”
Elyon nodded. “You could say that.” They were silent for a while. “What was your name?” Elyon asked suddenly. “Before you became Pisces.”
Pisces laughed. “It was such a long time ago. My name was Nadia.”
Elyon thought for a moment. “Nadia. That’s a pretty name.”
“Yes. My cousin loved it. He was always calling me, just so he could say my name.”
“He’s dead, isn’t he.” It was a statement, not a question.
Pisces shrugged. “You get used to it. Life is full of death.”
“Not yet. Not for me.”
“Eventually, you too.”
Elyon put on his best red robes. The eleven stargazers waited patiently for him, their hands clasped behind their backs, facing the stars. Pisces turned to him. “It is time.” She whispered softly. “You are the chosen one, and today, you will become one of us. You understand that you can never go back. You can never leave this place, except to fight the darkness.”
Elyon nodded. “I accept the calling of the stars, and now will I join my fellows in helping to defeat Chaos that reigns in darkness.” Pisces had taught him his lines the day before.
Elyon felt a tingling in his arm. He glanced down at it. Then he glanced at it again. It was turning red. He looked up. A rainbow of colors floated down on him. He felt his feet leave the ground. He rose higher and higher into the sky. He saw the stars, his constellation, Pisces’s. He saw visions of things he’d never dreamed about. He didn’t know what they meant.
Who are you? An ancient voice asked.
I am Scorpio. Elyon replied confidently.
No. You still think of yourself as Elyon. Elyon gulped. Pisces had said this wasn’t a good sign. I have chosen you for something Elyon. You know what it is. And you know what you have to do in order to become a stargazer.
I have to give up my past and embrace my future. Elyon replied automatically.
Pisces has taught you well. The voice paused. It is time. You will no longer be known as Elyon. From now on, you are Scorpio.
Scorpio felt himself falling. The stars turned into blurs as he fell. There was no wind, just darkness.
He opened his eyes. Pisces was leaning over him. “What did the stars say?” She asked urgently.
“They said my name was Scorpio.”