Brother Alexander, 1869
Alexander Lyonhart’s sharp knife sliced through the middle of the thick salmon’s body, splitting it into two pieces. It was beautifully marbled with a good amount of fat. His stomach grumbled as he continued to cut it into smaller pieces.
There were only a couple of hours of sunlight left. Alex wanted to prepare dinner before total darkness. He and his friends, all apprentice mapmakers, were tasked to survey the mountain area to find acacia trees. So far, they had no luck.
“Alex, hurry up with that thing, will you?” Connor Goldsmith growled. “I’m about to die of famine here!”
"Don't be a drama queen." Alex shot a half-angry look at Connor. “This is art, my friend. You can’t rush it.”
“I reckon that I can.”
“Oh really? Is that a challenge?”
Alex stuck his knife on his cutting board and grinned at Connor. “All right then. I want you to remove its guts.”
The shorter man let out a nervous laugh. “Let me see how you do it so I can evaluate.”
“I thought so, wimp,” Alex chuckled. He knew that Connor wasn’t the kind of guy who could handle seeing blood.
The crisp mountain air felt good on Alex’s face as he tossed salmon pieces onto the makeshift grill. The sizzling sound was like a food choir singing their praises.
A firm hand suddenly gripped Alex’s shoulder. Turning around, Alex saw that it was Jonathon Enduren, one of his classmates. They just called him Jon for short.
The burly Asian guy rubbed his hands together hungrily. “That looks good. I’m so hungry, man.”
Alex heard a scoff from behind Jonathon. It came from Brian De Chronos, the fourth man on their area scouting trip.
Brian had long red hair that went down to his shoulders. He wore a black cowboy hat and a black jacket.
“Fish again, Alex?” Brian sighed. “Three days straight. I’m getting sick of the taste.”
“Wait a minute. You were the one who forgot to pack guns for hunting. Luckily, I know to catch these things, even without a fishing rod.”
Earlier in the day, Alex went to a river by himself. Through the river’s reflection, he fixed his short brown hair.
Unpacking his leather bag, Brian pulled out a jar of dried beef jerky. “Luckily, I brought some real food.”
Jon grabbed the jar and gobbled up some jerky. “Hold on. You had this the whole time and didn’t let us know? Jesus.”
Brian reached for the jar, but Jon was just too quick. Much to Brian’s annoyance, he ate another strip of jerky before giving the jar back.
Laughing, Alex went back to the grill and divided the salmon among the four friends.
“Listen, guys,” Alex said. “I know that we’ve been tracking down the acacia trees for almost a week now and that you’re all exhausted. But I think we’re close.”
Everyone else became quiet. Alex could only hear the chewing of fish in their mouths.
Brian sighed. “I doubt that there are any around here. Let’s just head back and tell Robert we couldn’t find any. It’s all just oak trees.”
Jon nodded in disapproval. “I don’t think the old man would appreciate hearing that.”
Brian snapped at Jon. “Well, whatever. If we don’t find those trees tomorrow, I’m heading back to town to see my wife. I’m sure that one of the other teams will find it.”
Alex got in between Brian and Jon and poured himself a glass of water. “Guys, calm down. I’m pretty sure that we’ll find those trees soon.” He climbed up on a rock and raised his glass. “You hear that, acacia trees! We’ll find you!”
Connor laughed. “Yeah, sure.”
The four friends finished their dinner. As the sun disappeared from the horizon, they started to set up their tents. The full moon shone brightly in the sky, almost smiling at them.
As Alex unpacked his tent, he thought he heard a rustling sound in the forest. Almost like footsteps.
Connor, Jon, and Brian all stopped setting up. They must have heard it as well.
Alex reached into his pocket for his knife. The others did the same.
The rustling sound was heard again. Louder this time.
Then, to Alex’s surprise, a trail of light appeared in front of him. It lead to the forest. Not knowing why Alex felt a warm magnetic pull toward the trail. As if he needed to follow it.
As Alex walked the trail, the other three followed him. The trail’s light became brighter and brighter. It almost seemed like Alex was walking on a trail of gold.
The four friends stopped when they reached the end of the trail. It was on a Boulder that was glowing with gold and silver light.
All around him, Alex saw that he was surrounded by acacia trees, blooming with glowing white roses.
Connor’s jaw dropped as he took in the sight. “My God. Am I dreaming?”
Alex thought the same question. He wondered if he was in a vivid dream. Then he heard a man’s voice coming from the Boulder. “I see that you’ve been led to the right place.”
Gold and silver dust collected into the shape of a person, an old silver-haired man who was wearing a white suit and a golden tie. He reached into his jacket for a pocket watch and smiled. “Ah, yes, I’m right on time. I’ve been looking forward to our meeting.”
Brian shielded his eyes from the light. Alex stepped forward and shook the man’s hand. “My name is Alex. These are my classmates Connor, Jon, and Brian.”
The old man smiled. “Yes, I am aware.” He placed a hand on the Boulder and closed his eyes. “You may call me the Architect. You four have been chosen.”
“Chosen for what?” Alex asked.
“To be the keepers of a wonderful gift.”
“What kind of gift?”
“The power of light.”