Thunder rolled, heavy and abrupt, shaking the windowpanes of Aidan’s room. Aidan put down the scrolls he had been reading and got up to look out at the approaching storm. He could smell the rain in the air, but it hadn’t actually started to fall. Aidan stood at the open window. A chill breeze swept in across his face and forearms. His skin tingled. The tiny hairs on his arms stood up.
The neighborhood lay in darkness. Few lights were on. That’s strange, Aidan thought. It’s just nine o’clock.
The whispering breeze swayed the pines in the front yard, but little else moved. The sky, thick with storm clouds, swelled and seemed to press down upon the shadowy houses.
Lightning flickered. In the brief blue flash, Aidan had seen eyes. He knew those eyes. Aidan blinked, and the eyes were gone. Thunder growled. The wind picked up. Aidan could not will himself to leave the window. Something is wrong, he thought.
Another flash bathed the neighborhood in intense blue light. For a moment a pale being appeared, just outside the window.
“Captain Valithor?” Aidan mouthed. Thunder cracked sharply and rolled away.
The next time the lightning came, the image of the Glimpse Captain appeared in more detail. He seemed to be standing by a smooth wall of stone. And, wait! There was another knight standing near . . . a very familiar knight.
Another bright flash, and the image grew wider still, a spectral window opening so that Aidan could see another time in another world. And this time, the vision did not fade. Aidan knew the scene. He had lived it—just weeks earlier in The Realm where the Glimpse twins of all humanity dwell.
Aidan had been dubbed a knight in the service of King Eliam, noble ruler of Alleble. The scene had taken place before dawn. Aidan had found the Captain alone, staring out over the seventh fountain in the courtyard before the castle. That fountain was dry and had ceased to flow since it had been used to fulfill Paragor’s traitorous plan.
It was then that Captain Valithor had shown Aidan how Paragor’s rebellion failed—how he and his horde of traitors had been cast out of the kingdom in disgrace.
Lightning split the sky. The neighborhood faded, and suddenly, Aidan was there in The Realm again.
“Captain, I’ve seen Paragor.”
“What?” The Sentinel looked up, his eyes narrowed, posture tensed. “Where?”
“It was in a dream I had before I entered The Realm.”
Tension melted from Captain Valithor. He sighed with relief. “That is natural, Aidan. When you read the scrolls—it is bound to influence your dreams.”
“But it was a dream I had before I found the scrolls.”
Captain Valithor’s eyes widened.
Aidan continued, “I had the same horrible dream over and over again. I was in the ruins of a kingdom. I was captured, and Paragor told me to deny my King. I refused, and . . . and he killed me.”
Captain Valithor staggered backward and steadied himself on the wall of the fountain. “Aidan, I . . .”
“What is it?” Aidan was alarmed.
The Captain swallowed. Then he mastered himself. “Aidan, no matter what, tell no one else of this dream.”
“No one! Do you understand? I must seek the King’s wisdom, for my own is found wanting in this. Remember, no one!”
Aidan’s gut churned, and the hair stood up on the nape of his neck. “I won’t tell anyone, Captain,” he whispered. “I promise.”
Thunder crashed. Aidan blinked until the disorientation passed. He was back in his room. The wind howled through the open window, and the rain began to fall in sheets. Aidan slammed the window shut and pulled the curtains. He looked at the scrolls on his bed and wondered: Why did Captain Valithor become so disturbed when he heard about my dream? Why didn’t he want me to tell anyone else about it? Aidan went to his parents’ bedroom. He knocked once.
“Come on in, Aidan,” his mom said, and he entered. “All ready for your first day at your new school?” she asked, but then she stared at him. “Aidan, are you all right? You look pale.”
“Yeah, I’m okay,” he replied. “Where’s Dad?”
“He’s downstairs somewhere, I think,” she said. She got out of bed and put her hand on his forehead.
“Mom, I’m fine.”
She mussed the waves of his dark brown hair and smiled. “I can’t believe you’re getting so much older. Getting tall. You’ve lost those chubby cheeks you used to have. You look like your father when I met him—what with those bushy eyebrows and big ol’ puppy-dog brown eyes.”
“Oh, Mom,” Aidan said, but he laughed and was pleased he was looking older. “So Dad’s in the kitchen?”
“I’m not sure, honey. He went down about an hour ago. Haven’t seen him since.”
“Thanks,” Aidan replied. Quickly Aidan went downstairs to look for his dad. Aidan spied him through the French doors of what was now the study. It had been Grampin’s room. Aidan felt a tug at the pit of his stomach. Grampin had died the very day Aidan returned from The Realm, and Aidan still missed him terribly. Grampin had, after all, helped Aidan understand the message and answer the invitation in the mysterious scrolls Aidan had discovered in the basement.
Aidan’s father sat on the floor with an old photo album in his lap and stared at it so intensely that he didn’t even notice his son standing there. Aidan sighed. He’d talk to his dad later.
He went to the kitchen, poured himself a soda, and looked around as if to say, “Now what?” Thunder rolled softly in the distance. Aidan glanced at the clock. He didn’t feel a bit sleepy. After this latest vision, he doubted very much that he could sleep anyway.
“I know!” Aidan stood up; he grabbed his drink and headed to the basement.