Jacob and his family had recently celebrated the beginning of his twelfth year. He was tall for his age and very slender of build. His hair was light blonde and curly, and his eyes were the color of caramel. As occasionally happens, young Jacob looked nothing like his mother or father. His mother always told him that he looked most like her father – Jacob’s grandfather.
Up until this time, he had enjoyed a mostly carefree life in the Southern Region of Mescalahem. His father was a successful merchant who traded goods of all kinds. He often travelled long distances, even going as far as the Northern Region on rare occasions. Jacob was allowed to go with his father on local trading journeys, but not on the longer trips. Even his father had cut back on traveling to the Eastern Regions, since the Master had begun his war of dominion over the people of Mescalahem.
In the early years of the Master’s war, the Southern Region had mostly remained unaffected. The war effort had been focused on eliminating the still powerful royal families, who primarily resided in the Northern and Eastern Regions of the land. But recently, the Master’s troops had been seen in several of the far south villages. They seemed to be searching for anyone with powers or abilities, especially those with the gift to translate. They also were interested in those with Clairescent powers – the gift to control or move objects with the mind. It was a long and difficult search, since those with supernatural powers or gifts were very rare and comprised less than five percent of Mescalahem’s total population.
Some families thought of it as a privilege to be chosen for the Master’s training program and happily sent their children to his headquarters. But most of the villages in the far south feared their loved ones would be forced to fight in the Master’s war effort. They didn’t like the idea of waging war on the other regions of Mescalahem. Jacob’s family was part of the latter group and didn’t want anything to do with the war effort.
A few days after his birth celebration, Jacob had developed a high fever for several days and eventually slipped into a coma. The healers in their village could find no physical reason for his symptoms and were at a loss on how to help him. A week later, his raging fever suddenly disappeared and he regained consciousness, clamoring for something to eat. Over the next few weeks, he ate like a starving man and actually added a few pounds to his slender frame. To the great relief of his mother and father, Jacob had miraculously recovered from his strange illness.
Once Jacob had regained his strength, he resumed traveling on local trading journeys with his father. On one such trip, they were riding in their wagon, moving toward the villages in the far south. The covered wagon was heavily laden with trade goods, but the two powerfully built plow horses pulled it along at a steady pace.
Jacob was dozing, as he sat on the wagon seat alongside his father. Suddenly, he was awakened by his father’s shout and he turned to see the shaft of an arrow protruding from his father’s shoulder. He was grimacing in pain and looking at the road ahead. When Jacob turned to follow his father’s gaze, he saw five horsemen riding toward them at a full gallop. Two of them pulled up and readied to shoot more arrows at them.
Jacob’s dad pulled up on the reins, bringing the wagon to a sudden stop. “Jump down and get under the wagon,” he shouted at Jacob, as he snapped off the arrow lodged in his shoulder.
Jacob watched his father reach into the back of the wagon and pull out his long bow. His dad jumped off the seat and used the wagon as cover while he notched an arrow and let it fly at the approaching riders. An arrow lodged in the wagon seat, inches from where Jacob sat. At the same time, he heard his father curse as an arrow grazed his leg. Jacob leapt from the wagon’s seat, hoping to find cover before he too was hit.
He’d expected to land on the ground alongside the wagon and work his way to the back of the wagon where his own bow and quiver of arrows were stored. Instead of dropping to the ground alongside the wagon, something completely unexpected occurred. Jacob’s legs suddenly compressed like a coiled spring when he’d jumped. Seconds later, he catapulted at least twenty feet into the air. He landed on his back about thirty feet from the wagon, knocking the air from his lungs in the process.
Jacob had landed on the side of the wagon where his father stood, and his dad stared at him with a furrowed brow. The men attacking them had suddenly pulled up and they too were staring at Jacob, while he struggled to his feet. When Jacob turned to run to his father’s side, he was bounding several feet off the ground with each running step. Neither his father, nor their attackers, had ever seen anything like it.
Finally, one of the outlaws let loose an arrow as Jacob bounded along. The first arrow missed, but a follow-up arrow, from one of his companions, struck Jacob low on his left side. The arrow went clean through without hitting any vital organs, but the pain was overwhelming. He fell to the ground only a few feet from where his father stood. His dad jumped forward and grasped Jacob, anxious to see if the wound was life threatening.
While his dad checked the wound in his side, Jacob could see that his dad’s leg wound wasn’t too serious. But the arrow that had struck his shoulder had done some real damage. Jacob’s father was bleeding badly and needed help right away. He could hear the thieves spurring their horses forward and Jacob knew they only had a few moments before they were surrounded by armed killers.
A sudden rage surged within Jacob, and a strange sensation of raw power seemed to fill his body from head to toe. Without thinking about it, he jumped to his feet and glared at the approaching riders. Instinct seemed to take control of his mind and body, and he let it guide him. He felt an overwhelming urge to leap at the lead rider and so he did.
Jacob’s father watched with grim resignation as the band of thieves approached. His arm was so badly injured, he could no longer pull his long bow well enough to launch an arrow. The loss of blood was making his weak and dizzy; leaving them defenseless against their attackers. Without warning, Jacob jumped to his feet and glared at the approaching riders. He watched as his son leapt toward the thieves. He thought he was hallucinating when he saw his son’s legs compress and his muscles bulge. Suddenly, his son launched high into the air and completely disappeared. Before he could react to this bizarre sight, his son reappeared just as his feet connected with the lead rider’s chest. There was an ugly cracking sound, as the rider was thrown violently backward. He landed in a heap and didn’t move at all.
The other thieves were as stunned as Jacob’s father after seeing what Jacob had done to their leader. Before they could react, Jacob leapt at another rider, striking him from the side with both feet. The thief’s left arm snapped, and he cried out in pain before he slammed into the ground fifteen feet away. The remaining three riders were wise enough to turn their horses around and ride quickly away. It wasn’t fast enough for the trailing rider. Jacob jumped in a high arc and moments later his feet struck the thief in the back with tremendous force. Jacob and the thief landed about twenty feet in front of the thief’s horse; Jacob got up quickly but the thief did not.
Once he’d leapt back to where his father sat, he could easily understand the stunned expression on his dad’s face. Jacob could hardly believe what he’d just done either. “How did you…what was…” was all his father managed to say before he passed out from loss of blood.
“No, Dad!” Jacob shouted, as he wrapped his arms around his slightly built father. Continuing to operate on survival instinct, he didn’t stop to think about what he had to do – he just did it.
He managed to get his wounded father into the wagon and did his best to slow the blood loss from the shoulder wound. He knew they were much closer to the next village on their route than the one they’d left the day before. Jacob drove the horses hard for the next hour before he finally saw the outskirts of the village. They had visited the village several times before and he knew them well. Jacob brought the wagon to a sudden halt in front of the healer’s home and called out for help. The villagers hurried to assist him in getting his father inside where the healer went to work on him immediately. After tending to his wounds, the healer assured Jacob that his father was going to be fine. She then went to work on the wound in Jacob’s side and was surprised that there was so little blood. The wound hadn’t hit any major arteries but was still deep and should have caused significant blood loss.
While she examined the wound, she noticed that the skin seemed tough and almost rubbery in nature. When she looked at him curiously, she noticed that tears were welling in the young boy’s eyes. The young healer smiled at him sympathetically and said, “Would you like to talk about it?”
Jacob was surprised to realize that he did feel like talking and before he knew it, the words began to tumble out in a rush. After he’d told her about the attack by the five thieves, he quickly explained the strange new abilities he’d used to defeat them. The healer maintained a kind, sympathetic attitude, but her mind was racing with the possibilities. When he’d finished his story, she gave him a sleeping potion and encouraged him to rest. With the strength of the potion she’d just given him, he had little choice in the matter. In a few short minutes, Jacob was sleeping peacefully.
Before she began to work on his wound, the young healer hurried from the house and found her assistant. “I want you to prepare for a journey to the Master’s headquarters,” she said quickly. “I have found a young boy who may have the kind of powers our Master is searching for.”
“But it will take 20 days to get there,” her assistant said. “Won’t the young boy be gone long before I return?”
“Of course he will be back home in his village by then,” the healer said impatiently. “I know the boy and his father well, and I know where their home village is located. The Master’s troops will collect him there. All of this will be in the note I will send with you.”
“Will our reward be great for finding this one?” the assistant asked eagerly.
“He may be better than any we have found so far. But we don’t do this work simply for the reward. We are helping our Master take his rightful place as the ruler of all of Mescalahem,” the healer explained. Of course, if he chooses to reward his faithful subjects well, so much the better,” she added, with a smile.
“Indeed so,” the assistant said, smiling greedily. “I will ride like the wind and this young boy will be in the Master’s training program before the next full moon. What happens to him after that will be the boy’s problem.”
TO BE CONTINUED…
To read more about Jacob’s amazing adventures on Earth’s twin world, Mescalahem, along with Wendel and our other heroes, you can download book one of the Wendel Wright Chronicles: Portal to Mescalahem for just $2.99.