8 Unbreakable Bonds

When the bell rang, the boys descended, and William opened the door, welcoming Amy. She kissed Matt on the cheek, before giving Chase a little hug.

“Where can I put this?” she asked, holding up a little gift.

“There is a table in here, dear,” Sarah answered, walking into the room. “My, my! Don’t you boys look nice! I guess people will be coming soon?”

“Guess so,” Chase said, as the door rang again. This time it was Edward, Susan, Charles and Maria; Aiden and Xavier arrived a few minutes later. Everybody said their hellos and gifts were deposited on the table. Slowly, people, some old friends, some new, and some curious people too, began trickling in. Some of Sarah and Steve’s friends also came. There was a big crowd by seven when a group of guests arrived that made everyone stop and notice. Indeed, a sort of hush fell across the room.

Steve opened the door and ushered Rabbi Sam Roth inside; he was followed by a small, dark-haired boy of exquisite beauty holding hands with a tall, jockish boy. Sebastian and James had arrived. They were followed by Chris and Steve and Avery and Sarah.

“What’s going on?” Chase asked, curious about the hush that fell over the room.

“Sebastian’s here,” William whispered.

Chase smiled and indicated William should lead him to the group. “I’m glad you could make it,” he said, offering a big smile.

Sebastian smiled, which Chase could hear as he said, “We wouldn’t miss it!” Sebastian gave him a very cautious hug and stepped back. “Chase, William, this is my partner James! Chris and Steve are friends from school, and Avery and Sarah are friends from William’s … world!”

“Thank you all for coming,” Chase said welcoming them all and shaking hands with each one of them. Sebastian watched carefully as James shook hands with the boy, hearing him gasp and his eyes go wide; the same scene repeated itself when Avery shook his hand.

Everyone seemed to go back to talking, and Sam drew Avery and William aside, leaving Chase chatting with Sarah, Chris and Steve. “Master, this is William Jennings, Alex’s son!” William looked confused as the old rabbi referred to the young man as master. “This, young William, is Avery Salazar! He taught your father everything he knew about wizardry, as he did me before!” William’s confusion deepened and it showed. “Avery is the most powerful wizard I know, as I told you before…. He has mastered the flow of time, William. He’s around five hundred years old!” William’s eyes widened in realization as he shook the man’s hand.

“Sam, don’t call me master,” Avery laughed.

“Yes, master,” the older-looking man replied, winking at William.

“Since I heard about your situation, William, and I’ve been thinking…. I know you’ve got Xavier and Aiden, but I’d love to tutor you, if you’d allow me? I’m presently doing the same for Sebastian’s partner, James,” Avery offered.

“Thank you, sir! I do need to talk to my uncles, but how would it work?” William asked.

“Sam’s told me about your workshop…. We could open a two-way door there to Sebastian’s house. We could meet in your secret room and practice, the three of us…. Just a thought,” Avery offered.

“Sounds great!” William said.

“What does?” Xavier asked, walking around the corner. When he saw Avery, he lowered his head, “Excuse me, master, I didn’t realize!”

“Don’t be silly, Xavier,” the man said with a fond smile, putting a hand on his cheek before drawing him in for a hug. “How is my favorite pupil?”

“Better now,” Xavier said meaningfully, earning a squeeze from Avery.

“Your uncle Xavier was a very … precocious teenager, William! He tested my will in every way possible,” Avery said with a smile.

“Xavier, you never seemed like the kind to misbehave,” William responded, before he realized what Avery really meant, reddening at the thought of Xavier trying to tempt his sexy, young-looking teacher. They all laughed as he blushed. “Avery was just offering to tutor me, but I was saying I needed to talk to you first….”

“Well, thank you, but of course you must say yes,” Xavier responded immediately, squeezing William’s shoulder.

“Then it’s settled,” William said. They all talked for a few minutes, until Xavier noticed Aiden talking to Sebastian and James across the room and just walked off.

“Why does Xavier dislike Sebastian so much?” William asked when he was gone.

Avery put a hand on William’s should and said, “It’s complicated. Very complicated…. In part, Xavier blamed Sebastian for not keeping me out of prison…. I told Xavier that Sebastian would do whatever it took to get me back, only if he didn’t risk his position for me at the wrong time. But Xavier is very … committed!”

“Is that why he left the Council?” William asked. Sam nodded to confirm.

“The rest of it, I’d have to speculate…. Part of it probably has to do with Aiden’s friendship with Sebastian, and part of it might have something to do with Sebastian’s … well, let’s say that Sebastian wasn’t always as gentle in his attempts at dissuading Xavier’s attentions as I was….” William’s eyes went wide and he nodded. That made sense.

“It’s nice to meet you, Avery, and I hope we can talk soon about lessons, but I want to get back to Chase…. It’s his big day!” William said.

Avery nodded and smiled as William walked off. “Remind you of someone?” Sam asked.

“Remarkable!” Avery said.

William found Chase with Matt, talking to a tall, handsome young man and his girlfriend. “Hey, guys,” he said as he joined them.

“Hey, William, this is Carl and Heather…. Carl’s on the basketball team!” Chase blurted.

“Oh, yeah, I remember you mentioned him! It’s nice to meet you guys. I’m William!”

“Chase says you’re starting school with us next week,” Carl said, shaking his hand.

“Looks like it!” William said.

“I guess nobody’ll be picking on you guys anymore,” Carl laughed.

“Not if they want to graduate,” William said with a serious smile. While they stood talking, quite a few people stopped by to say hello. They did all the normal stuff, got everybody together and sang happy birthday to Chase, served cake and desert. Then Chase opened his presents while everyone watched. William stayed at his elbow to help him out as necessary. Sarah was, meanwhile, making tons of pictures. Slowly, the crowds began to disperse, and most everybody who came by to wish Chase a happy birthday got a big hug as they left.

By 10, only Sam Roth and Sebastian’s group, Xavier and Aiden, as well as Matt and Edward and their girlfriends remained. William spoke privately to Chase, who took Matt aside. After a while Matt nodded, and soon, Chase was hugging them all goodbye.

When the door closed, William nervously said, “Thank you all for staying…. I’m sure everyone noticed that I did not give Chase his gift tonight. It’s because the gift I prepared was very special, very private. Very rare…. And well, I don’t know what to say. Tonight, we are going to perform a ritual, and I’d like for you all to be witnesses to it.”

Sarah and Steve looked at each other, and Sarah was visibly uncomfortable. “What are we talking about here?”

Sam Roth stepped forward. “Think about it like a commitment ceremony for people like us. The relations between individuals are very strong, and this ritual gives magical form to this relation. Don’t worry, I’ll be assisting, it’s perfectly safe at this point. It seems that young William has already risked his hide preparing for tonight.” Avery, who had paled, stood unsteadily and whispered in Sam’s ear. Sam nodded. “The ritual creates what is called a Bond, a physical manifestation symbolizing that magical tie between Chase and William. The Bond’s sign is formed of angelic gold in the ritual location of the wizard’s choosing—sometimes they are rings, sometimes necklaces—very powerful magick….”

“Is this a common thing?” Sarah still looked concerned.

Sam hesitated. “No. Until a few minutes ago, I thought I’d never met anyone who had performed this ritual….”

“What?” William asked.

“I performed the ritual,” Avery announced loudly, inspiring shocked looks all around. “She was killed….” James put two and two together: the woman he killed for, the woman whose death drove him to the rampage that landed him in his prison, had been bound to him. No wonder he snapped.

“Who were your witnesses?” Sebastian asked, sounding a little jealous, revealing his deep attachment to the man again.

Avery looked long and hard at William, peering deep into his eyes. “Two of my former students, Alexander Jennings and Leah Montrose,” he said, tears in his eyes. “And since they cannot do this for you, I’d be honored if you’d allow me to assist you, if Sam doesn’t mind being a witness….” Sam nodded with a smile. William nearly ran into the man’s arms as they shared a few tearful moments.

“Sarah, Steve,” Avery said, “I understand your misgivings. But do you doubt that what’s developing between these boys is real? What William is offering Chase is the deepest sign of devotion one person can give to another. It binds one soul to another, so one supports the other no matter how far apart they may be.” Sarah and Steve looked at each other and shook their heads. No, they did not doubt it. “Then you are about to see something perhaps no non-magical human has ever seen. Have you chosen your ritual location, William?”

“I have…. The Temple,” William replied.

THE Temple?” Steve asked, and Sam laughed, patting him on the shoulder.

THE TEMPLE!” Sam said.

Chase, who had been silent all this time, took William’s hand and kissed it, placing it on his heart, reminding him of what he had said in a gesture of devotion they would share many times in the future. They all walked down to William’s building, which he opened, and lead the large crowd into the inner room. On the opposite wall, Sam drew an elaborate door in chalk and inscribed it quickly with elaborate symbols. Clearly he had been there often. Meanwhile, William gathered his equipment.

When the door opened into the courtyard of the Israelites, everyone but Sam gasped audibly and followed him into the spiritual reality represented in the ancient architecture of Solomon. In the middle of a large stone room stood a large stone slab altar. About ten feet beyond that, a huge embroidered curtain hung in front of a square room, entirely obscuring it.

“Make a semicircle around the altar,” Sam instructed. “Whatever happens, whatever you see or do, do not go behind the altar! Stay away! Stronger men than us have been drawn into it, and only one man is able to walk into and out of that room. Anyone else … would meet their end!”

“William, Chase, approach the altar,” Avery said, taking over. Avery stood at William’s left so he could instruct him on the words. “To kindle the fires of the altar, you must have elemental fire,” he announced loudly, part of the ritual that also served as narrative for the witnesses.

William drew out the vial and unstopped it. Repeating after Avery, he announced, “I draw near to you, O Lord, to kindle the fires of sacrifice, as you commanded our forefathers….” At those words, Sebastian’s heart caught in his throat as he thought of his cousin and what that command had taken from him. Sebastian tried to see beyond his ancient bitterness, tried to be open. William poured the vial onto the altar which burst into flame, though there was no fuel.

“Hand the sacrifice to Chase,” Avery said, to William’s surprise. William poured the little pebbles of dragon’s breath incense into the boy’s hand. “Chase, repeat after me and toss the incense into the fire….”

Everyone stood entranced as Chase’s beautiful voice filled the room as neither Avery’s nor William’s did, though he spoke ever so softly, “O Lord, we know that you do not desire sacrifices of blood or flesh. The sacrifice you desire is from the heart, and so we bring it. This incense is a sign of the love we consecrate before you this night. Blessed art thou, o Lord our God, master of the universe, who has created love and lover!” When he sprinkled the incense into the fire, the soft smell filled the room with a heady, intoxicating scent.

As they paused, Chase began to rock, ever so slightly. “What’s wrong?” William asked.

“Nothing, nothing at all,” he responded with a faraway smile. “Can’t you hear it, it’s so beautiful!”

“Hear what?” William asked.

“The Song! The Song from the box,” Chase said with a smile.

“What are you talking about?” William asked.

“Behind the curtain: it hides a Song, from the box!” he said, rocking and smiling. They could all hear him, but no one seemed to understand.

Sam warned, “Watch him closely…. And keep him away from the curtains!”

Avery interrupted. “Now is the time! Each of you, take part of the angelic gold and drop it into the fires….” William handed Chase a piece and they each did as they were told. The metal moved around the altar through the fires like quicksilver. “Say the blessing,” Avery said.

But before he could say the words for them to repeat, Chase began, “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it….” William, his eyes wide, looked to Avery, who simply nodded, and William repeated the words.

Avery placed William’s right hand on Chase’s and bound them together with a cord. With a smile, Avery added, “Now would be the appropriate time to kiss!” William leaned in and pressed his lips to Chase’s softly. A light burst from the Holy of Holies, ropes of vibrant blue light swirled around the room, wrapping the boys together as they continued to kiss, seemingly unaware of what was happening. Avery stepped back as the light engulfed the boys in transparent tendrils. Sarah grabbed Sam’s arms as the boys’ feet left the ground.

“Is that normal?” she asked.

Sam looked none-too-confident when he said, “I doubt it….”

Both of the boys looked rapt, in a state of bliss, as William’s tongue slipped between Chase’s lips, and the lights filling the room began to pulse. At last, Chase brought his free hand up to William’s cheek. When William opened his eyes and saw the light, he slowly broke the kiss and the boys slowly lowered to the ground as the light withdrew behind the curtain. The boys smiled sheepishly at their white-faced witnesses. Even Sebastian looked like he’d seen a ghost.

With a shaking voice, Avery approached the boys and untied their hands, saying, “Now is the time to quench the fires of the sacrifice, forging the Bonds….”

William took out the last vial, containing the deep waters potion and poured it over the fires. When the steam lifted, two rings laid on the surface of the altar. William placed the smaller of the two rings on Chase’s left ring finger. Chase reached for the altar and the bigger ring actually slid to his hand. Chase smiled as he slid the ring onto William’s finger. The floor beneath their feet rumbled again startling all present.

Avery stood by and at last spoke the final words, “The unbreakable Bond is forged, before God and before these witnesses. We vow to defend it until the end!” To some present, those words resounded ominously.

As the ritual was completed, Avery stepped forward and looked at Chase. “How did you know the words to say?”

Chase got that faraway look in his eyes and said, “I told you, the voices…. Those were the words they sang to me.” In that moment, Sebastian knew, without a doubt, why everything about Chase seemed so familiar, why the power was so familiar. He knew what Chase was. A shiver of recognition raced through him, along with a pang in his heart from an age so long ago it danced at the very edge of his memory, the memory of a human boy.

Chase suddenly was “looking” right at him, though Sebastian knew he could not see. But Chase was focused and smiled, reciting, “Mundus senescit…. Aethon awakens, Sekhmet will walk, and Resheph shall live again…. But the child of love shall ascend, the Crown shall speak, all is not lost….”

“It cannot be!” Sebastian whispered.

Chase’s smile widened, and he shook his head. “It was, and is, and will be always, silly boy!”

Everyone stood, deathly still and gape-mouthed, shocked not only by what was continuing to unfold before their eyes, but also at the way Chase spoke to Sebastian like a parent might to a petulant child, with mature amusement.

Just as, to the horror and wonder of everyone present, it looked as if Sebastian might actually bow or kneel before Chase, the mood was lightened by the sound of James’s uncontrollable giggle. “He told you!” the boy whispered to Sebastian with a snort, causing him to straighten up.

Sebastian just shook his head with a weak smile, never prying his eyes from Chase’s face. Chase smiled in the direction of James’s voice, “Sebastian’s feelings are understandable! Who would have guessed that one present at the beginning of the great journey from Ur would be present at its culmination?” Chase asked, again looking faraway, gesturing strangely at the veil.

Confidently Chase laid hands on Sebastian’s shoulders, leaning in and whispering something only he could hear. Sebastian’s eyes looked absolutely alive, and when Chase stepped back a little, everyone could see the tears in Sebastian’s eyes as he whispered, “Thank you!” putting his hand on Chase’s, feeling the boy’s power magnified. What he felt now was like a river compared to what before had been merely rivulets leading to a puddle after a storm. But it no longer disoriented Sebastian: it electrified him!

Taking Chase’s hand from his shoulder into his own, Sebastian noticed the ring of angelic gold up close for the first time. “Avery,” he said, excitedly, waving the man near. “Have a look!” On the ring were carved sigil after sigil in perfect clarity, but the central symbol was ancient and simple. It was a crown.

Avery took Chase’s hand and saw it too. “We have a lot to discuss, my friends,” Avery said to everyone and no one, all at once. He motioned for them all to follow him, and they milled through the portal until only William, Chase and Sam Roth remained.

“Come on, boys,” the rabbi urged. Chase quickly, briefly turned toward the veil, and both William and Sam could see the longing in his face. “Chase,” the man said a bit more urgently.

“I know, I know! Don’t go near it….” Chase said it with an easy and jovial spirit that set Sam ill at ease. “Just a moment more! I could stay here forever!”

“That’s why we don’t stay too long,” Sam said. “It would be too easy not to go back! But the world needs us, and we need the opportunity to rise to that challenge…. Here is quiet and peace; there is the opportunity to become worthy of it!” Chase’s smile would have lit the room, and he cheerfully led the way through the portal with a little guidance from William at his elbow.