The Story of Axilles And Astrogarde - Part 3 - The Locket And The Deception
It was winter and time for the yearly test of learning that all Summacum boys had to pass.
But Astrogarde,although great in heart,was not great in all those things that make a scholar and he fretted constantly to his friend Axilles. “I will fail the test. I know I will”, he said, “How can I be a prince and yet such a dolt. I have a fleas football for a brain. I know this test will not let me pass it”.
But Axilles showed Astrogarde the magical locket that his stepmother had given him.
“This good luck charm will help us both but it needs a drop of blood from both our hearts to work its magic”, explained Axilles
“Oh Axilles. I would be drained pale if it would help me pass this test. But is it right to cheat?”.
“There never was a greater fool than Pembert Appletrim. He would not bend or break a rule and so the rules broke him”, said Axilles, reciting a children's rhyme, “A prince cannot afford to fail and so you see,it is practically your duty to cheat and its not going to hurt anyone”.
So Astrogarde agreed and, taking a sewing needle, they pricked their thumbs and added their mixed blood to the golden amulet and,at its heart,a ruby started to glow.
And, when the day of the test came , it was as if the books of learning turned leaves within their heads because not one wrong answer was given by either but,because their results were both so good their teacher was greatly suspicious and would have accused Astrogarde of cheating if he were not a child of the king so instead took Axilles away to be punished.
“I cannot prove your guilt but my experience is deep and my intuition strong and if you are innocent then a beating will help you to stay innocent because,having known the whip once you will not be eager to seek its acquaintance again”.
Astrogarde trembled as he thought of his beloved friend Axilles suffering such punishment and so he turned to the locket and clutching it tight in his fingers, made a wish, “Oh powers,whoever or whatever,help me to save the friend that I love”.
And upon making the wish, Astrogarde's bare flesh and hair became invisible and,just as the teacher was about to raise the whip to beat Axilles, Astrogarde threw his arms around Axilles’s waist and so the beatings hit Astrogarde rather than Axilles but,though Astrogarde was invisible, Axilles heard Astrogardes tears and a whisper fell into Axilles ear, “I do this for you my perfect friend and the bright stripes upon my back will be my marks in the test of love”.
And the teacher,who had removed his eyeglasses so as not to get any speck of blood upon them, was so near sighted that he did not see that the blood did not flow directly from the back of Axilles and, upon hearing Astrogarde sob, Axilles cried and moaned for his poor friend so that their cries seemed to become one.
When the punishment was finished, Axilles tried to use the golden charm to heal the welts upon Astrogardes back but the charm would not heal them. “Whatever this charm is”, said Axilles, “It is not a healing charm”.
“Oh, let time and our love be the charm”, said Astrogarde.
“And a powerful charm my love shall be. It is a mountain upon my heart upon whose peak stands great Astrogarde”,added Axilles.
Then they slept but,as they slept, Axilles had a dream and,in his dream, he was a star among the stars and beside him a great moon glowed that had the face of his real mother, the one who had died when he had been just an infant.
“Axilles, Axilles”, she said, “Do not let your story end in tragedy. You have a choice.
You have a choice. Your young heart is between your ears and its beating deafens them to wisdom but you have a choice!”.
“What choice? What choice?”, asked Axilles.
“Between what you want and what you know is right. If you follow only the false arrow of your desires then you will destroy, not only yourself but also those whom you love. Every man plays a part in his own destiny, though he cannot control the world, he can control himself and that is enough”.
“You. Are you my mother?”, asked Axilles,feeling that the moons face seemed familiar.
“Yes and no”, said the moon, “Your father killed your mother,not deliberately but with neglect and anger but the part of your mother that was God did not die, the part of your mother that was love did not die!”.
“I love Astrogarde”, said Axilles.
“If that is true then you must do what is right for him”, said the mother moon.
Now Axilles woke and the face beside him was the face of Astrogarde.