His stride is slow, but before Kori realizes it, he is at the cliff's crest. Silently he nears a set of stones that had formed a natural bench for the perfect panoramic seascape. The Tauplu trees here were in full bloom, their gossamer petals drifting through the air on soft, fragrant breezes. Their soothing perfume weaving their influence of peace. It is the perfect spot for a romantic meeting ... or whatever.
She would have loved it, smiling in that way that made his heart skip a beat. He was going to bring her here when ... when they were ...
Kori finally sits upon the natural bench, his body registering the ache of his long walk with Aloyce's body. His arms have gone numb, his back aches and his lungs demanded time to catch his breath. He frees one arm from beneath her and stretches it carefully before he re-situates Aloyce in order to stretch the other. In doing so her face turns toward him. He whimpers and caresses it, smiling softly as she looks to only be sleeping. He takes a hitching breath and then another before softly speaking.
"I'm sorry, Al. I'm so sorry for dragging you into this. It's all my fault that this has happened to you. You didn't even..." Another hitching sigh and his eyes get blurry. Kori wipes his face. "But," He smiles at her, "I'm not sorry for running into you that day ... for meeting you ... for falling in love with you without even knowing it." He caresses her face again hoping that something will 'magically' happen and suddenly remembers the amulet.
He reaches down into his shirt and pulls up the amulet that started it all. As he frees it, the once fused pieces fall apart with a soft clink. He laughs bitterly as the troublesome artifact dangles before him in two pieces. "I think it's trying to say something." He says to no one in particular.
Carefully Kori removes the half of the amulet that had belonged to her; the yang. He puts it around her neck and makes sure it’s centered before he touches her face again.
"They weren't meant to be separated.…" he fondles the yin piece about his neck. "The amulet was supposed to be one piece, but last minute the creator decided to make it into a courting gift for his daughter.”
Kori takes a deep breath as the story of the amulet comes to mind. “She was said to be very beautiful," He fingers one of Aloyce's braids. The tears begin to slide down his face when he continues, "He took the 'male' half and told his daughter that he had imbued it with only the purest wish for her to find a good husband. The father then took the 'female' and tossed it into the nearest river. A year later a fisherman arrived to their village, claiming to have been drawn by the stories of a great white salmon or something like that," Kori laughs, "He had the amulet tucked away in his belongings. The two met and fell deeply in love and then it was revealed that they shared the same amulet. They were married the next year," he pauses sadly, "...she was killed by a band of bandits and he being so in love with her ..." Kori looks out at the sea beyond the cliff before continuing, "... he took his own life soon after her death," He whispers quietly.
Ryin watched his son rock with Aloyce in his arms in silence. His hiding place not far from Kori. The soft grass muffling his movements. Ryin is tense and ready to run to prevent his son from making a grave choice. The edge of the cliff is no more than ten or so feet from where Kori is sitting. Yes, he was sorry that this had happened. But Ryin had just been reunited with his time-lost son and he didn’t want to lose him again. Ryin looked at Aloyce’s relaxed face. Her markings faded and her caget features now more human. The way things worked in this time, Aloyce could always come back ... somehow ...in his experience. Stranger things have happened.
"You didn't know that...I'm sure you felt ...or dreamed up something that probably came close though. You were a bit of a romantic." Kori smiles as he continues, "I remember the look on your face when we first met. I remember the look on your face when we were running from my uncle...you..." He sighs. "That was almost two years ago ... or is it hundreds ... I never did find out exactly how far into the future this thing sent us."
Kori pulls the neck of his shirt down to look at the mark above his sternum. It was an almost perfect replicated brand of his amulet. He remembered that night clearly. The night he first joined their amulets together and it brought them here.
The Beginning ...
“Aaugh!” Kori Ito yelled out in pain before he released Aloyce Campbell’s wrist. He fell against a tree, frantically trying to get at whatever was hurting him.
“What’s wrong with you?” Aloyce panted while she watched her so-called boyfriend fight with his shirt. They had been dating for maybe over a month, happily or so she thought. The last few days she was forced to realize just how much more interested in her amulet he was rather than in her. An antique amulet her deceased father had given to her about two years ago; one that strangely matched his exactly. She somehow doubted that it was a coincidence.
Kori pulled his half of the amulet out and held it away from his skin.
“How … it burned me!” He exclaimed not realizing how quiet his company had become. He stared at the yin symbol as it dangled before him. Was it glowing slightly? Kori was fighting it, but little by little he was beginning to believe in his uncle’s so called 'magical' abilities.
Aloyce looked about her surroundings; sadly wishing she had never met Kori now. They had run far from the rinky-dink carnival they had been enjoying. The cheerful sounds of the crowd and carnival games was barely audible at this distance. The carnival was one that came to town every year and traditionally she would come with her dad. She thought it could be a new tradition to start with Kori. He had been against it at first, but she cajoled him into it. She should have known something was wrong when he kept searching about nervously. Aloyce watched disappointed as he blew down his shirt. He still hadn’t explained why his uncle was following them.
“Can you tell me why your uncle wants my amulet?” Aloyce looked at him. “Our amulet?”
Kori looked at her slightly offended that she wasn’t concerned with why his half of the amulet was burning him and hers wasn’t doing the same. He shrugged it off.
“He claims that he has spent five years ‘casting’ a temporal spell on it.” Kori explained. “My uncle believes himself to be a sorcerer of some sort.”
Aloyce covered her face, “So we’re running from a nut who thinks he knows magic.” She stared at him irritated, “You knew what you were doing from the beginning, didn’t you?”
Kori sighed. Her eyes were his favorite thing about her. They were a warm whiskey-brown when she smiled and laughed. Right now they were cold and dull. He simply nodded.
“You weren’t interested in me at all,” Aloyce whispered to herself.
“What?” He asked, knowing exactly what she said, but not wanting to have to answer.
“What was the…,” she started and watched as Kori’s eyes widened before he grabbed her wrist again. She groaned as they were on the run again.
“Kori! Just give me the amulet! Nothing will happen to you or Aloyce!” Uncle Yeoh called after them.
Kori shook his head as he dragged Aloyce behind him. “You've been tearing the house apart looking for this thing since Dad disappeared. He didn't want you to have it either when he was alive!” He called back.
Kori recalled how his uncle would spend every day locked in his room with the amulet. How uncle Yeoh would barely eat or sleep. Finally Ryin’s, Kori’s father, concern for his younger brother’s health had to take drastic measures. Ryin broke into uncle’s ‘laboratory’ and took the bauble, hiding it from him. Uncle Yeoh had been beside himself with anger at first and then grief. For a year he begged, pleaded, and then threatened Ryin for the return of the amulet. But it remained hidden until three years ago.
On a return trip from a business meeting, Ryin’s plane crashed in the forests somewhere near Washington. The oddest thing about the crash was that everyone on board had disappeared. The pilots, the stewardesses and the passengers, including Ryin Ito, were missing. Kori remembered that day clearly. The day the police came to the door handing him only the yin half of the amulet. Uncle Yeoh had been distraught when he saw that the amulet was incomplete, mumbling something about there being only two charges in the bauble.
Insistent tugging from Aloyce snapped Kori out of his reverie, “Aloyce … what are you…?”
“Let me go! I don’t want anything to do with this!” She screamed. “He can have my half!” she said trying to snatch her arm from him. “I don’t want anything to do with any of this … or you!”
Kori looked at her in disbelief. His speed slowed for a few moments before it picked up again. For weeks they had gotten to know each other. Of course he originally sought Aloyce out because he noticed her wearing the yang symbol when he and his uncle ate at the restaurant she happened to be working at. He followed her around for two weeks before deciding to introduce himself to her. Kori couldn’t help but feel a little hurt… he thought-
“No.” Kori shook his head.
Aloyce dug her feet into the ground causing them to stumble.
“I’m not asking your permission!” She snapped.
Kori pushed her off of him, “I promised my father that I would not give my uncle the amulet…”
“I made no such promise!” She snatched her arm from him. “I have nothing to do with this crap!”
Kori glared at her, “Technically your half belongs to me as well so that means…” He watched as she quickly removed the necklace from around her neck and threw it at him.
“Have it!” She started to run away from him only to have him grab her again. This time she was pissed, “Let me go!”
“Kori,” Uncle Yeoh panted as he and two strange men finally caught up with them.
Kori and Aloyce froze as they were surrounded. She elbowed him.
“Stupid jerk! I could’ve gotten away!” She glared at the ground. “I would’ve come back with the police…” she mumbled.
“Not likely,” Kori whispered, “You know too much.”
Uncle Yeoh shook his head as he started towards them, “Don’t scare her like that, Kori.”
Kori glared at him, “Scare her? Me? I’m not the one hunting her down!” He held Aloyce close as he brought both pieces up to show his uncle.
“Kori, don’t,” Yeoh said nervously watching his nephew hold the pieces inches apart.
“I’m just going to show you that the story behind this piece of jewelry is just a story, Uncle.”
“You can do that without me!” Aloyce shouted while she struggled to get his arm from around her when he started to bring the pieces together.
Uncle Yeoh ran at him, “No! Kori don't-!”
There was a sudden feeling of disorientation as everything began to spin.
The Amulet - Book one of the Regions Series