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Rooney didn’t mean to spot something from afar, but his observant eyes cannot be easily controlled.
He and his friends were on their usual bike rides through the river trail. That’s all it was. The town’s general rule to never gaze towards the river and to give in to the temptation of crossing the river to the other side was loud and clear. His four friends just laughed and joked with each other during their rest stop. Rooney, on the other hand, decided to soak up the sun and the river’s breeze, then look forward towards the other side of the river.
If only he kept his eyes closed and turned back around to see his friends, he wouldn’t have to be in this strange position that he was in right now. He would have been with his family and friends right now, enjoying the Four Founding Families Festival. But here he is, locked in a cave along with four other children his age, dressed in strange ceremonial garb.
Rooney took a closer look at the kids’ faces, and almost jumped back a distance. These are kids belonging from the town’s famous four founding families, but what are they doing here along with him? He had to ask with curiosity.
“Here?” One of them spoke after a few seconds of silence. “This is the Chamber of the Accompaniment. You should be lucky that you were chosen.”
“Chosen? I’m just a kid who lives at Outer Shadowbrooke! I thought the legend says that only those who are from the four founding families…”
“You were chosen because you are the missing link,” another one said. “You are… Rooney Frye, correct?”
The eleven-year-old confirmed with a nod. “How did you know my name?”
The only girl of the group, probably around the same age as Rooney, stepped forward and gazed right at him. “My sweet cousin, Blake Lockhart, has found a new love in that beautiful girl… Avaline, isn’t it?”
Rooney couldn’t answer but the girl continued on. “The Lockhart Family, in which I belong, has grown very fond of Avaline. That’s why… my family wants to get to know her family. And I— we— are glad that they did.”
“What’s your point in this? That still doesn’t answer my question!”
“The point is,” the fourth kid, a boy slightly older than Rooney, joined in. “We have found you. You are our missing link to truly completing the ritual with success.”
Rooney fell silent again and stood still. The open cave gave its chill, which made him shiver, slowly rubbing his arms to keep himself warm. Right then, they hear the rock door slowly sliding to the side. The chamber was opening.
The four children quickly bent on one knee and bowed their heads. Rooney turned his head to see a figure in black elaborate robes and donning an eerie- looking ceremonial mask, carrying a folded white garment in his arms. He slowly stepped back with nerves crawling all over his body.
The ritual master appeared before Rooney, and then handed him the garments. “I apologize for being late, but here are your ritual garments.”
He reluctantly took the garments from the ritual master. “What am I doing here? Someone just… dragged me out down here while I was watching the festival dance on stage… and why do I have to wear these?”
“Master, here it is.” Another voice came from the entrance, and another figure in a black and white robe appeared, carrying an elongated wooden box. The ritual master approached his servant and carried the wooden box from him and returned back to where Rooney was standing.
“The Lockharts see young Avaline as a potential bride for their young heir, Blake Lockhart, which means to us, her family is now part of the Lockhart Family. You are now considered a member of one of the four founding families, young Rooney.”
Rooney felt a twitch on the side of his mouth. “So… I’m here… because my sister and Blake are… er… dating?”
The master handed the wooden box to him. “This is for you, Rooney. Open it.”
Slowly, he opened the wooden box, and then revealed a very slim but carefully glazed wooden stick. He took the stick carefully, only to discover that the other side of the stick had holes from top to bottom. He turned it around to see the stick’s true identity.
“A wooden flute?” Immediately, that’s when he realized his purpose of being here. “Wait… how did you know that I play the flute?”
“You don’t just play the flute, Rooney. We have seen you perform in one of your school band’s concerts. You are indeed excellent with the flute, so much as if you and the flute are one. This wooden flute is—”
“Are you telling me… this is the legendary Shadowbrooke Flute? The one that is supposed to…” Everyone around him nodded. “You kidnapped me, dragged me down here, making me wear these… garments… so that I can play this flute… at this ritual?”
“The full moon is almost nearing its position. It is time to proceed.”
From out of the blue, a digitalized ringtone played out in the air.
An adult man lazily reached his hand for his smartphone ringing on the side table on his bed. Once his hand was able to grab a hold of the phone, he opened his eyes to gaze at the screen. Quickly, he pressed the green phone icon and answered.
“Detective Frye speaking…” He listened with patience to the caller, and then his eyes widened. “I’ll be there.”
He sat up, fear began to show on his widened eyes. He gave a deep sigh and gazed down. He placed his hands over his face and began to murmur to himself.
“A couple in white, sitting upright, back to back on a rowboat that sailed to this side. What I saw that got me kidnapped those years ago is happening again.”
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