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JLSpinner Story Project Elrond
In the waning years of life, our greatest memories become idle chatter to the world. Our days of heroism and bravery unfolded in another time, so separate now from this new age. Our friends are gone and our loved ones too. But what if you had a story so profound that it must be told? What if the lessons we learned have been forgotten?
I remember a time when the world was a much larger place. It was a time of castles and kings. Gods and wars. I remember when dragons ruled the skies, not man. It was so long ago now that the tales of my time are nothing more than stories for children and day dreamers. But for me, they are so much more.
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There was war in the lands when I was born. This war eventually claimed my parents. The King of Kellick made sure the orphans of war had a home. Some went to work homes to learn to farm and care for livestock. Others went on to squire or to serve on boats. I came to be the apprentice of a man named Tucker. He was the stable master at Lyon Fast. I was three years of age when I became his ward.
Tucker raised me like a son. He showed me how to calm the horses and how to care for them. I learned how to smith shoes for the horses and clasps for the saddles. By the time I was of age I was considered to be one of the most talented horsemen in the Citadel. I was very fortunate to have found such a wonderful home. This came to an end in the spring before my 16th birthday.
The Kings horse was acting frightened and threw a shoe. Tucker was leading her to the posts to tie her legs down. I ran to the small tool shed at the end of the stable to grab the hammer. Just as I turned back toward Tucker, he was thrown to the ground by a powerful kick. The blow dazed him and left him prone. The horse turned and reared to stomp him. I didn't intend what happened next. Nor could I have predicted it. I reached my hand out toward Tucker and screamed for him. His body hastily slid away to safety. It was as if I reached out over those ten Passus, that's just shy of 15 meters for you, and pushed him out of the way.
He lifted his head to look at me. Even with the distance between us, there was no mistaking the horror in his eyes. “W-was that you, Tyrium?” He managed to choke out.
“I don't know for sure...but I think so.” I answered him just as much as I was answering myself. By this point Tucker was on his feet and steadily approaching me. His voice was much quieter when he spoke again.
“Has anything like this happened before?”
“No. Nothing like this!” I almost shouted.
“Tyrium!” He said in a harsh and piercing whisper. “Keep your voice down. If anyone finds out about this-” He cut off as he struggled to say these next words. “They'll hang you.” A rush of warmth to your face. A quiet falling over your ears. Your vision fading into gray. This is what you remember last before you faint and hit your head.
I awoke several hours later on my cot. A wet cloth was draped on my forehead where I was experiencing some wonderful sensations. I could hear voices but between the pain and the dizziness I couldn't comprehend anything. I remember some shapes moving and a bright light. After the light dissipated I was cured. The pain was gone and my vision was restored.
“What just happened?” I asked trying to piece together something that resembled a reasonable explanation. I looked up and froze. Standing before me with Tucker was a bald man with piercing blue eyes. I had never seen eyes so bright before. Almost as if they were aglow.
“Hello Tyrium.” He spoke. His voice had a ring to it that reminded my of the wind chimes Tucker hung by the front door of our home. It was hard not to hang on them as they flowed through my ears.
“Er...Hello.” I replied fearfully. This did not go unnoticed.
“Don't fear. I am Malok. I am the High Priest of Kellick.” I had heard of him before. Rumors and whispers of gods and magic. Stories to scare children. Things seemed a tad more believable now. “Master Tucker here has explained to me your predicament. I have a couple of questions I'd like to ask, if you don't mind me doing so?” Panic spread over me. I distinctly remember the word hanged being used.
“You told someone?” I asked terrified. My eyes locked onto Tuckers.
“It's alright Tyrium. You can trust Malok. He's a good man.” He replied back to me. His calm tone helped bring my stress down. I nodded and stared down at the floor.
“You may ask.” I relented.
“This was your first time using magic?” Malok began.
“Yes.” I spit out through the stress.
“Have you ever had dreams that have came true?”
“No. I don't think so.”
“Have you ever had a bad feeling that if you did something you would get hurt?”
“Not that I can remember.” He nodded and didn't seem surprised. He reached inside of his satchel and pulled an ornate leather tome. The binding was laid in gold. On the front was an intricate rune. He opened the book up to a random page and displayed it before me.
“Can you understand any of these?” He asked. A hint of worry tickled his voice. I stared blankly at what looked like a bunch of chicken scratch.
“What is these?” I asked confused. Malok chuckled slightly, a weight clearly lifted.
“Nothing to worry about.” He closed the book and returned it to his bag. “Now Tyrium you're going to have to come with me. I'm taking you and another whom succumbed to accidental magic to Sol Drar.”
“I don't want to go to Sol Drar. I've heard stories about those savages. I'm not a bad person! I don't want this magic!” I spat out loudly. Malok touched my hand and I calmed down instantly.
“Not all magic users are bad, Tyrium. I've met more evil in this nation than I ever have elsewhere...except Free Hold of course. The war on magic was a terrible mistake orchestrated by one man. One man who destroyed our Nation with our own hands. One man who cost the lives of several hundred people. I will always serve the King with what the Celestial gods have tasked me to do. But I have seen true evil in my stead. You are not evil.” He told with a matter-of-fact tone. “Sol Drar is not filled with savages. It's filled with Elves.”
“Elves?” I asked quite shocked. “Elves are real?” I asked looking to Tucker.
“Yes Tyrium. I'm sorry for not telling you about this stuff...it's just...well...” He tried explaining but was lost for words.
“Your parents died in the war Tyrium. They were killed because they had magic.” Malok finished.
“You have magic.” I said wondering how someone so obviously magical could serve the King and not be noticed.
“My magic is divine. I'm the only one of my kind.” He explained. “The bringers of life made me this way. The King is wise to head them.”
“Where did my magic come from?”
“Tyrium, I know you have a lot of questions.”
“Which is why I asked!” I retorted. Malok gave me a look that said don't do that again. It was a very believable look. “I'm sorry.”
“You need to pack your things. We leave at dusk. I can answer more questions on the voyage.”
Tucker and I gathered up some of my clothes, a couple of books, and some jerked rabbit. We sat down and had our last meal together. He burnt the biscuits. Tucker was never very good with displaying emotions so we shook hands when Malok arrived with his carriage. It was quite luxurious. Inside of the carriage was Kara. She was a petite girl, a couple of years younger than I. Her hair was short cut and strawberry blonde. Her face was splashed with freckles. Her demeanor was of someone who had been recently broken.
“Tyrium this is Kara. Kara, this is Tyrium.” Malok gave introductions.
“Hello Kara. It is a pleasure to meet you.” I said with etiquette. A perk of working with the upper class. She didn't respond with words. She quickly made eye contact and gave a short nod. I nodded back and climbed up to take my seat by her. Malok and Tucker shared a few words and also shook hands. Once Malok was seated we were off.
For as far back as I remember I had hardly stepped foot outside of the Citadel. Lyon Fast was all I really knew. I was going to miss it. I was going to miss Tucker. Essentially, I was terrified. I spent the first hour or so of our trip in silence. Before I was spilling over with worries and questions. Now I was uncomfortably stoic. Kara had the same idea. I believe Malok was unsuccessfully trying to meditate. Every few minutes he would shift uncomfortably. I figured I had better show him some mercy so I broke the silence.
“Where does my magic come from?” I spoke making Kara jump a bit. Malok seemed pleased by the distraction. He adjusted his posture and closed his hands together.
“Essential it's the world around you. When the Primal gods created the world, that power lingered behind in the rocks. In the seas. In the air. This is where your magic comes from.” He explained.
“My magic comes from rocks?” I asked confused.
“More or less.” He smirked. Kara remained quiet.
“So why can't everyone use magic if it's in the rocks?”
“The first being of light that the Celestial gods brought to life was something more than human. When they saw that she had authority over that which the Primal gods built they dared not create more. So they came together and picked the best traits of each of them. With these traits they built humanity. However, the women they created before was out of their hands. The Celestial gods can't kill mortals. It is her bloodline that gives the Arcanus. Your powers.”
It's an interesting sensation to hear someone tell you that you've been given ancient powers from the bloodline of a monster woman. So naturally I plunged my head out the window and out came the burnt biscuits. I shamefully brought myself back to my seat when Kara spoke her first words to me.
“There's a second bout.” she said sounding disconnected. By the time I comprehended her words I was returning to the window post haste. I lingered for a moment to insure that I was quite done.
“My parents were like me?” I asked pretending that the last half a minute never occurred. Malok nodded and gave a solemn smile.
“Yes. They both studied in Sol Drar before moving back to Kellick. They were key members in the resistance after the Kings son was killed. Unfortunately the King was mad with rage and an intelligent opponent.” It was odd to hear the King described in such a dark manner. All my life he seemed like such a caring and noble leader. To know he lead the slaughter of unknown but vast numbers was overwhelming.
“Why did the King attack the magic...people?” I asked unable to connect the dots that made my King so monstrous.
“It was someone capable of terrible magic that killed the kings son. I have never seen such command of magic. I believe he was an agent of the betrayer.”
“The betrayer?” I asked lost at this vague yet frightening title.
“Yes. Nexus, the god of death. He betrayed the Celestial gods and made plans with the Primal gods to kill off every living thing in creation.”
“Why did he do that?” asked Kara, whom I had almost forgotten about entirely.
“Because he grows stronger from death. He himself cannot kill mortals. So he fed poison in the minds of the Primal gods and convinced them that these creatures were perverting their masterpiece. He wants us all dead. So his agent started the tumbling stones that lead to war and genocide.”
“So his powers are divine as well?” I asked as I stumbled upon a curiosity.
“That's enough for tonight. You two need to rest. The sea can sometimes be relentless with motion and sleep can be difficult.” Malok said almost in a fatherly tone. Although I doubted this man has ever had children. He then climbed up the ladder that lead to the driver.
“Thanks for the warning.” I half-joked after a few minutes of silence.
“Next time you should listen.” she said again sounding far away.
“Next time I will.” I said nodding. I could see her head shift in the corner of my vision. She looked at me for a while. I pretended not to notice.
Sleeping was no problem. The carriage itself was very well made. I awoke just as the sun began to kiss the horizon with red. Kara was giving off little snores here and there. I'm not sure if Malok was sleeping or not. He was sitting erect with closed eyes and was nearly as still as stone. Figuring I was the only one awake I watched the sunrise and thought about an old rhyme Tucker would say. “Red in the morning. Travelers take warning.”
“Wise words.” Malok spoke. I turned to find him within arms reach looking out the window next to mine. “Fret not. Rain can't touch us here.” He smirked.
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It rained for most of the day. However not a single drop hit the roof of the carriage. A couple hours before sunset the rain cleared out and the sun warmed the air a bit. The smell of salt began to tickle my nose. The scene began to rapidally change from hilled plains into farms, to villages and markets. Shortly after dark we arrived in Port Iholm. The city was still bustling away into the night. On the streets were bards and minstrels, entertainers and salesman. Life in the dock city was exploding everyhwere. After a quarter hour or so of traversing the city streets we stopped at a little tavern. The smell of salt was pungient and echoes of the ocean whispered in my ears after I stepped out of the carriage. The tavern was rather rustic in comparison to rest of the vicinity. And quite a bit older also.
The patronage was aglow with the glorious festival of ale and spirits being quaffed. I hadn't the slightest idea why Malok would have brought us to this den of gluttony. Clearly he sensed that as well. "Don't worry. I own this establishment. You'll be safe here while I find us a ship."
"Safe?" Kara asked doubtingly. A man approached us from the door. He was fairly tall and narrow with dark black hair hanging to his shoulders. He looked over Kara and I before turning to Malok.
"He's a bit older than the usual." the man said matter of factly. I suddenly felt worried at how the situation was going to unfold.
"Might be the oldest one I've seen." Malok replied and shook the mans hand. "How's the business?"
"The monks are keeping us wet and the sailors are keeping us busy." He joked. "Want me to take them to the library?"
"Yes. I shouldn't be long." Malok said looking off in the direction of the docks. He looked back to us and gave a cursory nod before departing down the street on foot.
"This place has a library?" I chorted. The man shot me a glance and smirked.
"I believe introductions are in order. My name is Warden. I am a Preist of Ostia." He extended his hand. I shook it tight and looked him in the eye like Tucker taught me.
"Tyrium is my name. This is Kara." I said tilting my head towards my laconic companion.
"Pleasure." He said with hyperbolic ettiqutte. "And to answer your previous question. We do, indeed, have a library. Now if you'll follow me I'll show you in." He turned and started toward the building before he stopped and turned back toward us. "Do try to not look anyone in the eye Tyrium. These men get fairly rowdy." I nodded in reply and we all headed inside. It wasn't difficult to avoid eye contact. The bar was clouded with pipe smoke. We crossed the floor and entered through a door beside the bar. The door lead to a set of descending steps that took us to the cellar below. At the rear of the cellar, hidden behind a shelf of wine, was a heavy metal door bearing the same ornate symbol from Maloks book. Warden inserted a key and gave a good turn. The door clanged and swung open. Inside couldn't qualify as a cellar. The walls and floor were built with finely chisled stone, pollished to perfection. On the ceilling was a beautiful mural of the night sky. There must have been a dozen shelves of books and scrolls.
"This qualifies as a library." I remarked with a tone of approval.
"I thought it might." Warden said walking into the room. He gestured toward a wooden table and chairs at the center of the room. "You can wait here. Feel free to browse, if you can read. I'll be upstairs." With that he gave us a nod and headed back into the cellar, closing the door behind him. I dropped my bag and walked over to the table and started flipping through a book that was open. It was more of those runes that Malok showed me.
"What language is this?" I asked Kara who had followed me to the table. She shrugged and opened another book on the table.
"This one is readable."
"What is it about?" I half-asked looking closer at the different symbols. I thought I had seen one of them before when Kara caught me off gaurd.
"I dunno. I can't read. I just recognize the letters." I stopped and looked at her. It was odd for me that a child could grow almost to adulthood and not learn how to read. It was even stranger to hear how normal it was for her.
"Let me see." I said extending my hand. She handed the book over to me. I turned it to see the front of the binding. "Exempla of Malok"
"Exempla?" Kara asked stepping closer to look.
"They're like short stories to teach morals." I said opening the book. "Would you like me to read one?" She smiled for a moment before it quickly disappeared again.
"Okay." Was her reply. We both sat down and I flipped through the book until I found a story that looked interesting.
"The Ride to Red Keep!" I said more excited than I should have. This story was a favorite of mine growing up. "It's funny that Malok wrote all of the stories I heard as a boy." I added more evenly. "Is this one alright?" Kara nodded. I must have read four of Maloks stories before he returned from finding a ship.
"Good choice of reading." He said motioning to his work. "I've found us a vessel. It's one of the Kings fleet."
"The Royal fleet? Isn't that risky?" I asked worried. The idea of being surrounded by armed men who want you dead sounded counterproductive to the plan.
"No. The Captain has helped me get others like you to Sol Drar before. His daughter was killed because of accidental magic many years ago. There is no worry." I nodded. "Now if you'll collect your things, please. The ship departs before dawn.
The docks smelled heavily of salt and fish. Bells clanging, whistles blowing, and men yelling filled the air as if it was the middle of the day in Lyon Fast. The ship we were boarding was one of the larger ships at dock. "K.R.F. DERVISH" was the name moulded on the port bow of the vessel. I must have counted a dozen ballistae and catapult on the deck of the ship. The crewmen were all wearing quality leather with blue and gold tunics. Spears, shields, and polearms were stached over the deck in racks. Above me, like a spiderweb, rops spun out between the sails, masts, and pulleys.
"Good Morning, Captain." Malok said to a man waiting for us at the top of the ramp. His uniform was more ornate than the others. He had a sword strapped to his waist and wore a golden diadem with a large saphire socketed on the front center.
"Good Morning, Malok. We're on a tight schedule, so let's get these kids tucked away." spoke the man before his eyes drifted to me. "You look to be of serving age."
"Just shy." Malok replied. "Tight schedule? Where are you being dispatched?"
"Free Hold. Our trade vessels are getting raiding like never before. We're hoping that some military presence might detur the pirates." As Malok and the Captain talked a couple of the crew grabbed our bags and lead us to our quarters below. It was a small room with two hammacks hanging from the ceiling. There was a small porthole just below the ceiling that would light up the room in the day.
"This is where you'll be sleeping. This is probably the safest room on the boat. If anything happens just lock yourselves in here and be quiet. Understood?" The mans skin was rough and leathery. His hair was gray and his voice was scratchy.
"Yes, sir. Thank you." I replied back.
"My name is Gill. If you need anything, just ask." he added before he went back to his duties. First thing Kara did was shuffle over a crate so that she could stand on it and look out the window. I laughed to myself.
"I've never been on a boat but couldn't you just go to the deck to see that?" I asked. She shook her head and didn't move. "Okay." I responded before hopping into one of the hammacks. The dawn was only a few hours off and sleeping sounded more enjoyable than staring out into the black through a small hole.
The next day and a half were spent watching the sailors work or having a one sided conversation with Kara. She would occasionally say a word or two. She'd nod or shake her head more than anything. A few times I wondered if I was an annoyance. Perhaps she remained so quiet because she didn't really want to speak to me. This of course didn't last long when I realize she follwed me around almost everywhere I went. If she didn't like me she must have been a masochist.
The morning of the third day came with a brilliant red sunrise. Brighter than any I had ever seen before. It was astonishing to watch, almost as if Ignia herself was climbing over the edge of the world.. The sailors however looked worried. The talking became whispers and the Captain was even staring into this enigma of a sunrise. "Sailors are prone to their superstitions." Malok told us brushing off the sunset as anything more than beautiful. He grew to regret those words.
It wasn't yet noon when we spotted three sails to the South West. The Captain gazed through his looking glass for what seemed like an hour before he spoke. "They're on an intercept bearing. ALL HANDS ON DECK!" As he screamed these last words he stomped his foot with tremendous volume. It took around a quarter minute or so for the whole crew to assemble. "We're going to have some unwanted guests in less than an hour. I want all the catapults torqued and loaded. I want a hundred bolts at every ballistae. Better pray to whatever god you pray to because we are going to be outnumbered." He said perhaps ending more solemnly than he intended. "Let's get it done!" He shouted breaking the haze of worry and turning it into a fury of action and determination. Malok lead Kara and myself down to our room and told us to lock the door and not to open it unless we hear the word carribou. I'd later find out that was his favorite food.
From below we could hear the events above us unfold. The haunting silence before the catapaults were in range. The creaks and cracks of the ship as the catapult fired. The cheers from the crew as they sank the first enemy ship. The screams of horror when the catapult erupted into a blazing pyre. The enemy was fighting back. Soon the sounds were too many for me to comprehend. Kara and I huddled close as the fighting continued to grow louder. Then there was a loud crash on our door. My heart stopped and my legs became useless.
My heart was beating again. Now it was too fast.
I could feel Kara squeezing my arm tighter. Her nails were cutting into my skin now. That's when I realized I had to fight. There was no other way out of this. I pulled my arm from Kara and took a step forward.
CRASH! This time the door gave and would have been tossed if the bottom hinge hadn't held. Inside walked a short and skinny man. His skin was dirty and he wore no shirt. There were tattoos everywhere. In his hand was a rather large knife. I felt that panic I had felt with Tucker. When I had used magic. The man started walking toward me with a smile. His eyes were on Kara. I focused on that moment and with all my strength and determination I reached out with my mind to throw this mad brigand across the room. I watched as he continued to step towards me. Again I strained with my whole being to push him, but my magic never came. I struggled up until the moment I felt the skin of my face rip as he sliced me with his knife.
I couldn't feel the pain right away. For this I am thankful. The pirate, in his arrogance, put on a show to either scare or impress Kara. He closed his eyes and took a deep exaggerated breath. That's when I saw it. His knife was loosely held and covered in my blood. With all I had left I grabbed that knife and stuck it in the bottom side of his jaw until it came out of his face. I could feel my senses dulling and the pain in my face was screaming. The last thing I remember was shuffling over and shutting the door.
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When you dream forever you live a whole other life in a world, in many ways, as real as this one. But nothing is ever new. Everything that occurs is a culmination of your memories. Your experiences. I don't know how long I was asleep but when I awoke I was in an unfamiliar place. I couldn't see or hear well at first but I could smell. I had never smelled something so beautiful in all my life. Citrus flirtations with lilac. I tried to talk but choked as the dry layers of my throat ripped apart. After I got myself under control I could hear footsteps growing louder. I turned my head and could make out a blurred figured walking closer.
"Tyrium?" came a womans voice. It was muffled and quiet. I tried to talk again but the woman quickly shooshed me. "No, no, don't talk. You're not ready yet. You're alive and safe in Sol Drar." Despite her words I had to know one thing.
"K-k-kar-a?" I managed to get out.
"She's fine. Now I mean it. No more talking or I'll put you back to sleep. Your sight and hearing will return over the next couple of hours. Don't try to sit up until they do." she said sternly before walking away. Laying on my back I stared blankly up at the ceiling. My thoughts were stifled as if a wall was obstructing my minds flow. Basic contemplation was my whole effort. As my vision cleared and the blur of browns, that was the ceiling, turned into a beautiful mural of the Primal god creation of the world carved in brownstone. My mind also became more capable. This was a blessing and a curse. I began to realize the pain my face was eminating. An intense burning sensation would flicker in and out like a candle in the breeze. I did my best to lay silently, embarassed by my wounded state.
I sat up after my senses had returned, not wishing to anger my caretaker again. I looked around the room hoping to find a mirror. While my search was in vain I was not disappointed. The architecture and designs of the room were so different from what I've known my whole life. The essence of nature could be seen throughout. My awe was only dwarfed by the pain in my face flaring again. This time I couldn't hide it as I hissed loudly. Once again I heard footsteps approaching, though they sounded different this time. To my relief it was Malok who entered the room.
"I'm glad to see you are awake. How are you feeling?" He asked as soon as he noticed my upright posture.
"I've been better." I managed to get out, albeit weakly. I could see the pitty all over his face and it made me angry. My face must have betrayed me because he took note of it.
"I'm sorry to make you angry. I've never had someone under my care injured before."
"Is it bad?" I asked even weaker than before.
"The Elves are wonderful healers but it takes time for a wound so large and on such a delicate surface." He replied.
"If you can give me a minute I can show you." I nodded in agreement. He quickly exited the room and returned a moment or two later with an ornate hand mirror. "Here, Tyrium." He said with a soft tone. I grabbed the mirror and slowly turned it so I could see my face. I was horrified at what was gazing back at me. This thing couldn't be me. I couldn't even recognize myself behind the carnage. The scar was spread from the outside of my left eye, across my nose, and ended out my right cheek next to my mouth. My left eye was solid red where it once was white. My nose was crooked in the direction of the cut. I could see tears running down my face before I even realized that I was crying.
"Don't tell anyone I cried." I said carefully wiping my tears.
"Everyone cries, Tyrium. But your secret is safe."
A few hours later Kara came to visit. I had bandages over my wounds now as to avoid the awkwardness it presented. I was glad to see no look of pity from her. Infact it was a very joyful look. I smiled back. "How are you?" She asked sitting in the chair next to my bed.
"Never better." I lied trying to sound as normal as possible.
"I doubt that." She replied. Then I realized that she was actually talking.
"So you remembered how to talk finally?" I joked. She laughed.
"You've been asleep for a while." Until this point I hadn't thought about how long I was sleeping.
"How long?" I asked, curiosity peeked.
"I don't know. Our ship floated aimlessly for days before they could repair it. It's been weeks Tyrium." Although I was surprised by the news it didn't bother me. I was glad to have skipped the worst of it.
"Yeah, I just needed to rest my eyes for a while." She gently punched my arm and I exagerated the pain. I was trying to be funny but she actually became quite concerned. Once I told her I was joking she hit me much harder. It actually did hurt this time. "What's it like here?" I asked changing the subject and indulging my curiosity.
"Come with me and you can see for yourself." She said standing and slowly walking out of the room. I hesitated for a moment not sure what to do. I didn't see any reason why I couldn't go for a walk. So I turned and placed my feet down on the floor. The stone beneath me was pulsing with warmth. It crept inside me and I could feel energy from the stone and the energy inside myself rush into eachother and find balance.
I gave a quiet cry, overwhelmed with sensation. It bordered on ecstacy. When I found myself capable I stood slowly. My legs seemed weaker, but had strength enough. The corridor outside had three more rooms similar to the one I was occupying. At the end was an archway of dark wood leading to a stairwell. Up the stairs and through another hall...this is getting tiresome already. The Spire of Sol Drar was a massive tower created entirely with magic. Emphasis on the word massive. Even today we have yet to build anything comparable.
After we reached the upper levels we stepped out onto a balcony that overlooked the island. I could see further than I could have possibly imagined. The island was almost entirely covered in forest. At the center of the island stood a volcano with smoke billowing out into the wind. Scattered through out the forest were several other structures sticking above the trees. Most weren't much taller than the trees. "I can feel it." I said looking out. I had realized the energy I could feel with every step was from this island. It wanted me here.
"We all can. Those with magic anyway." Kara replied. Something had changed in her. She seemed so confident and focused. I was amazed and frightened for what was to come.
"So what did I miss during my nap?" I asked hoping to gain some answers.
"It wasn't a nap."
"But what did I miss?"
"Well you missed a lot during your not nap." She started. "Should I start from the beginning?"
"I've got time." I said with a smile. My scar twinged with pain.
"Shortly after we arrived and they took you away they tested me."
"Tested you?" I asked with more than a hint of surprise.
"Nothing bad. It's like this ritual to see your magics shape and potential. Once you understand your magic you know how to grow it and train it. Myself for example. I have a very strong connection with Ignia and Caelum. So my teacher is keeping my focus on wind and fire." I nodded with understanding. Though I was still unsure if I did understand.
"So you have a teacher?"
"Yes. Her name is Tess. She is one the High Commanders of the Queen."
"High Commander? That sounds prestigious."
"She has command over the entire islands defenses." She said matter of factly. There was a few minutes of silence where I debated asking her for a demonstration. "You wanna see something I've learned?"
"I thought you'd never ask." I said happily.
"It's nothing special yet. I still think it's beautiful." She said before holding her hand out, palm facing up. She stared intently at it until a small flame ignited above her skin. It was was like a candles flame with no candle. I laughed and smiled.
"That's amazing." I managed to say while holding my smile. And it was amazing. I had never seen anything so awe inspiring in my life. This new life of mine was certainly an exciting one.
After a couple more days the Queen called the Council of Arcanus to test my magic. I was escorted to the throne room where there were four figures in brightly colored robes. A tall and narrow elf was in red and wore the symbol of Ignia. A human woman was in blue and wore the symbol of Maren. There was a dwarf in brown whom wore the symbol of Terrarum. The last was a pale man in white whom wore Caelums symbol. They were whispering something in unison as we approached them.
"Tyrium. The Council has gathered here today to read you. I must warn you that for some, this process isn't pleasant. For most, however, it is nonbothersome. Are you ready?" The Queen asked from her throne.
"Yes, your Grace." I said with a half bow.
"Very well." She replied shorty. "Commence." At her order the four robed figures closed the distance between us. They each stood around me at my sides, rear, and front. The chanting never stopped. Each of them took a hand and placed it on me. I could feel pulling inside of me at first. Then it turned to a rapid flutter that would thrash about. The chanting stopped and the hands were removed. "That was fast." The Queen spoke with hesitant surprise.
"We can't read him." The Council said again in unison. My heart skipped a beat and my stomach twisted.
"You can't read him?" The Queen asked confused. "He's not magical?"
"It is unknown."
"Unknown?" The Queen asked more to herself than the council. "Tyrium. You have used magic correct?"
"Yes your Grace." I replied nervously. My legs were starting to grow numb.
"Have you noticed anything odd about this island?" she asked again.
"Are you speaking about the warmth and vibrations rising in me from below, your Grace?" I asked fairly certain that was her point.
"Indeed, I am." She said with no emotion. "Tyrium, you cannot be trained at this time. Not until you can be read. There is no choice in the matter. However I think it's unwise to send you away. I sense that you have destiny here. I can't have you learning magic but we can teach you combat, survival, diplomacy, and crafting." There was a long moment between her words and mine.
"Yes, your grace." I said back disheartened.
"Let it be so." She commanded.
I was sent off that day after a quick good-bye. Kara and I decided that if we were ever at the Spire we would go to the balcony at midday so that we would know if we were both there. Kara eventually departed to the North and I to the East. We rode on horseback for two days before we arrived at what looked like a small village in the trees. Three young male Elves and a male Half-Elf had also arrived to be taught. I wondered if they also were unable to be taught magic. We were all instructed to wait by a particularly wide tree until further notice. We must have sat for twenty minutes in silence before I decided to introduce myself.
"My name is Tyrium, by the way."
"Naelo." Spoke the Half-Elf. The others simply glanced at me and returned to sitting in silence.
"Nice to meet you Naelo." I said unsure as to why the others were ignoring me. Naelo must have picked up on that somehow.
"I wouldn't worry too much. It's an oddity to see a Human being trained for the Gaurd. It doesn't happen often." He explained.
"It doesn't happen ever." Spoke one of the Elves with a heavy accent.
"It's happened once." Another Elf spoke up also with an accent. "Almost 30 years ago."
"The Gaurd?" I asked confused. Everyone stopped and stared.
"What are you doing here?" Asked The first Elf.
"The Queen sent me here to be taught. I dont recall anyone mentioning the Gaurd."
"The Queen?" asked Naelo.
"Yes." I said sensing that I wasn't helping the situation.
"You were at the Spire?" asked the last Elf. His accent was almost non-existant.
"Yes. I was there for a while a guess. I don't remember most of it. I was with the Healers." I said pointed to the bandages.
"What happened?" Nailo asked sounding extremely curious.
"Our ship was attacked by Pirates on our way here. I was at the unlucky end of a blade." Nailo turned his head awkwardly and unnaturally.
"You stabbed him through his face." He said after his neck straightend back up. Unsure of what to say or do I simply stared blankly. "I'm sorry. I can't control it sometimes." He explained almost humiliated.
"How did you know that?" I asked slowly.
"I...I'm kind of attuned to things like that. I see pictures and memories and can feel feelings." There was a couple moments worth of silence before I spoke.
"That sounds fascinating." I said genuinely. "I once pushed someone from being trampled by a Horse." I said hoping to relieve his embarassment.
"Why is that relevant?" asked one of the Elves.
"I was standing ten passus away." As I spoke this four Elves approached us, none of them hid the curiosity that I sparked in them. My curiosity was sparked as well. I had never seen such beautiful armor in all my life at Lyon Fast. They had a pattern that mirrored the beauty of Sol Drar.
One of them began to speak to us in Elvish. I couldn't understand a word. I sat quietly unsure of what to do. Wondering if I should speak up or wait for an opening. I elected to be patient and waited for him to finish. A few minutes passsed by before the Elf turned and looked at me.
"Hello Tyrium. It is rare that we teach humans so you will meet resistance. Our standards are high for Elves. In our Orders history only one human has ever successfully completed his training. This man was no ordinary man. However the Queen has commanded that you be taught. That I will oblige her. I will teach you like I teach every other student of mine. You will have no special treatment nor should you expect any. We will not slow down for you. It is up to you to keep up with us. We are the Guard. We protect this island as we have since the Elves were born. Never have we lost ground to an enemy. Never have we failed in our duties. There is no quitting. There is no failing. There is the life and there is death. Do you understand?" Although i was quite terrified as to what in the hell was going on, I was attracted to this concept. If I didn't have magic I could at least master my body. I could become something few have ever achieved. I could help people. Little did I know how much pain I would go through in the coming years.
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For a year I trained with the Guard. We ran. We climbed. We fought. We rode. The Elves were faster, smarter, and more agile. I was much stronger and, to my surprise, a better horseman. Never the less that was the hardest year of my life. For a year I cried and bleed. For a year I struggled not to fall behind and eventually I earned the respect of those Elves. Nailo, the Half-Elf, became a very close friend of mine. He tought me to speak Elvish, or as close as a human can get. I finally returned to the Spire after my year of training. For a week I waited on the balcony. For a week I was alone. Kara wasn't there. After that week we started off on our first patrol. One patrol for the Guard lasted for around two lunar cycles. It was a meandering course that covered a majority of the island. We slept at hidden outposts in the trees and ate what the island would provide for us. All the while we trained and learned together. After every patrol I would return to the Spire but Kara never came to the balcony at midday. Instead I filled my days with strolling through the art galleries and reading books from the library. I'd spend time trying to perform magic, but never could. Eventually I stopped attempting.
My patrols were always uneventful but we never relaxed our efforts. This payed off eventually. It was about a week into my eigth patrol when we saw the sails. Three of them on the horizon, off of the Southern shore. It wasn't uncommon. Ships often drifted off of the trade routes if the winds were potent enough. However the sails were a crimson red. Even I could feel that something wasn't right. We watched through our looking glass and waited until darkness fell to prepare. We set some traps on the beach in various points that favored ship landing. Nothing lethal incase they bore no ill will. We sent up a signal arrow to call on any of the nearby patrols that might notice it. To me the arrow was silent. To the Elves it would whistle loudly through the air
The sun was starting to rise when the ships anchored off shore. They were quite intimidating and some of the largest I had seen. Twice the size of the ship I took passage on from Kellick. Six smaller boats were lowered down by ropes from the sides. From my estimation there were more than 30 of them. 30 against our five. Almost as if fate were at the helm, those boats landed in the most dense area of traps. By this point I didn't question how things happened on the island. Too often did logic fail to discourage its self-imposing will. The smaller boats hit and nested into the sandy shore. The men began to slowly fan out toward our position in the tree line.
After a few moments there came the sound of several branches breaking followed by three cries and a loud crash. The first of our visitors had fallen into a sandpit. "Keep an eye our for anymore surprises. We've got a job to do!" screamed one of the men. He so happened to be wearing the fanciest hat of the bunch. I figured that meant he was in charge. Almost immediately after his warning two more fell into a pit. "I swear by the gods if one more of you falls in a hole I'll kill you myself!" Although his men feared his words another six would step in traps within a minute of his threat. Including himself.
"What is your business here?" Nailo yelled out from behind the trees. Everyone on the beach jumped with fright and drew their weapons. Nobody responded, but Nailo didn't need verbal response. "They're slavers. Looking for some girls." He spoke to us in Elvish.
"Death." We all said in unison. It was required that we be unified in our decision before we take a life. Part of the brotherhood of the Gaurd. We all picked up our bows and began firing. Simultaneously another Gaurd patrol rushed out from the tree line toward the visitors. The fight was over in a breaths length. Anyone left moaning was promptly put out of their misery. There was no mercy for slavers. The boats were tore to pieces and set ablaze. The anchored ships departed promptly after the fires were lit.
Our patrol had to report to a place called the Cave of Reflection. This Cave was used by the Elves to obtain the truth of an incident. Because in this cave, no lie could be told. This became useful for debriefings and interrogations alike. The caves rested at the feet of the islands volcano. At the entrance stood a tower about half as tall as the Spire. It too had a balcony to overlook the island. As we approached the cave I looked up at the tower and I noticed a female with red hair standing on the balcony. The sun was in the center of the sky too.
"Give me a minute if you would." I said to my brothers in Elvish before I took off running toward the tower. My heart was pounding as I rushed up the stairs and through the halls before bursting through the opening to the balcony. There infront of me was Kara. She was so different now. Her skin was fair and with only a few freckles remaining. Her hair was as red as the setting sun instead. She smiled at me and I sensed a strength in her that I had never seen before. She wasn't a scared girl now.
"I wondered if you would ever show up." She said through her smile.
"My apologies. This is the first I've ever been to the Caves." I said with a straight face. I did my best not to show any emotion to her. The men on Sol Drar are expected to rise above emotional behavior. Human or not I did my best to live up to their standards.
"I know. I've been here for a long time." She said losing the smile. "I can't leave until I'm ready for my trials." She walked over and leaned against the half-wall edge of the balcony. I followed suite.
"Trials?" I asked curiously. She nodded.
"I have to prove mastery over my magic and pass three tests."
"Who gives you the tests?" I asked already knowing the answer.
"Oh joy." I said in a fairly thick accent of sarcasm. She giggled. I smirked.
"I knew you were still human." I looked at her and her eyes flickered to my scar and back. My face tightened up and I turned my head back out toward the trees. "How many people have you killed?" She asked sadly.
"Four." I replied quickly. She placed a hand on my back.
"Is this what we are waiting for?" Nailo asked in Elvish. I turned quickly to see my patrol standing at the opening to the balcony. All of them wore smirks. I knew that I was probably going to throw punches before the day was out.
"Hello, I'm Kara." She replied back smiling. It was more than evident that she was enjoying this. This new woman was a mystery to me. "I'm training in the Arcanus." All of the smiles disappeared and the guys slowly turned around and walked away.
"What was that about?" I asked laughing. "You scared them?"
"The Elves view magic users as a blessing worthy of absolute respect. They hadn't addressed me properly." She was definitely enjoying this.
"Should I bow? I can bow." I said performing an exaggerated deep bow.
"Stand up." She said slapping my shoulder.
"I have to get going Kara. We have to see the Mirror." I said trying to keep my discipline.
"I know. Listen though. My trials are at the Spire at the next full moon. Please be there." She said grabbing my arm. I nodded once before I left. I wasn't sure if I could but I would certainly try. The rest of my patrol stood waiting at the foot of the tower. Once I exited we all silently headed into the cave. It was extremely dark inside. The only light came from crystals in the rock that shined brightly from magic. We decended deeper and deeper into the volcano until pools of lava become frequent decorations. Eventually we came to a large cavern filled with more crystals than the whole of the cave combined. In the middle of the room was a large calm pool of water. It was so calm that it looked like a reflective pane of glass.
"Stand before the Mirror." echoed a voice from somewhere in the room. It was still hard for my eyes to adjust. The others started toward the water, so I followed. We all lined up at the edge of the water and waited. Across the pool I saw movement. Someone was walking toward us dressed in dark robes. They stopped at the edge of the pool and stared down into the water. "I can see it." He said more to himself than to us. "I see the sails...and traps...slavers...you killed them all...I see..." He spoke as the water began to bubble and flashes of light came from deep beneath the waters "I see..." He raised his head and looked up to us. "You did well. Because of this victory I grant you two moons of rest at the Spire." I smiled. In my head I heard more words from the man. "I sense that you need to be there. Something important is going to happen. Be there human." I tried to speak back in my mind but recieved no response. The man turned away and walked back into the shadows. My heart pounded beneath my chest. Worry and fear. What did this stranger mean I need to be there?
Naturally I was distracted over the next couple of days. My brothers of the Gaurd assumed my heart belonged to Kara. I had decided it was better then telling them what the Mirror Sage had told me. I shook off my worries as we arrived at the Spire. I had never seen it so busy. I picked up amongst the chatter of the crowd that they had all gathered for the yearly Trials of Arcana. Apparently the three tests Kara had to face were going to be in front of a rather large crowd alongside another potential Sorceress.
Over the following days the population at the Spire continued to grow. I mostly hid in the library and gallery. Not because they were my favorite spots but because they were some of the only places to find quiet. In the gallery was a painting that I had always enjoyed. I once spent an hour just looking at it alone. Wondering at the events and the history it told. In the painting was a robed man standing in between two armies. His hands hold no weapons but are both extended outward to express the need for them to stop. The armies are scarred and their weapons bloody.
I found myself sitting at this painting on the eve of the Trials. My mind was lost in thought, so far from where I sat.
"Do you know the story?" Came a womans voice. I spun around to find the Queen. I shot up to my feet and bowed quickly. "Do you?" She asked again.
"No, your grace." I replied standing straight.
"Kellick and Sol Drar were making great steps toward a lasting alliance between our people. My daughter was to marry the Prince of Kellick." She began to speak.
"The Prince who died, your grace?" I asked curiously.
"Yes, Tyrium. The wedding was here. As the two were about to be wed a powerful Sorcerer arrived and slowed down time. None of us could react as we watched him murder the Prince and steal my daughter. Nobody had seen that kind of magic before. Fingers were pointed. When my daughter was found, naked and hung for display in Dhunvar, war broke loose. We fought Dhunvar. Kellick waged war on magic. It was a bloody time." Her tone was solemn and tired. "One man brought the war with Dhunvar to an end. The man in this painting. He helped us figure out who was responsible. He was on his way with the name of the one who brought so much destruction when he was killed in Kellick. They found out he had magic. His name was Titus."
"Malok mentioned that the war on magic was orchestrated by one man. Was this the same man?" I asked forgetting my ettiquete.
"He is the same." the Queen replied firmly. She looked at the painting and smiled. "Tomorrow night, during the ceremony, find this painting. When the moon is in position it will reveal the whole painting."
"The whole painting, your grace?" I asked confusedly.
"This painting was modified to hide something. The one who modified it failed to hide it completely. On the full moon, when the moons light shines down on the painting, it will show the true painting beneath." She started to walk away.
"Why is it hidden?" I asked as she walked away unsure if she would respond.
"It happened the same night Titus died and nobody knows who did it or why." she said before exiting the gallery. I could feel a pull toward the painting. Was it curiosity? Was it destiny? Was it simply the fact that it was an amazing piece of artistry? Only time would tell, and tell it did.
On the morning of the full moon Kara arrived at the Spire. I was quite glad to see her. She hugged me when we greeted. We walked around the Spire and the surrounding area for most of the day. She spoke about her training and I spoke about my time with the Gaurd. I didn't mention the Mirror Sage or my talk with the Queen.
"Are you ready for the Trials?" I asked curiously as we sat on a couple of rocks looking out at the sea. She smiled a bit but hesitated on her answer.
"My Master says I am...but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous." She replied honestly. She looked at me and her eyes caught the light perfectly. They were overwhelmingly green.
"I'm sure your Master is right." is what I meant to say. "You're beautiful." is what i actually said. She smiled from ear to ear and here cheeks turned red. I myself became embarassed and chuckled to myself, quickly looking away. "I'm sorry. That wasn't appropriate."
"Tyrium." she replied softly. I looked backto her and she kissed me. I kissed back.
The Trials began at sundown. The first trial tested Karas control of herself. I watched her walk calmy into a large fire and sit down. She sat in the fire for several minutes before she emerged unharmed. Her clothes weren't even discolored. The other Sorceress, Madaline, passed the test as well.
Karas second trial tested her ability to sense magic. She stood blindfolded in the middle of a room. The Council walked in a large circle around her. Silently they left small crystals on the floor in random spots as they walked. Sometimes they would pick one up and move it. When they finished there were 12 crystals. "Begin" Spoke the Council in unison. Kara stood still and silent for a moment before she pointed to a crystal and shot a spark of flame directly at it. And then again and again until all of the crystals were accounted for. She had passed the second test.
I looked out the window as Madaline was led to the same spot. The moon was almost mid sky. I didn't want to leave before Kara completed her third trial but I had to see the painting. Something inside of me was screaming to go see the painting. I silently left the crowd and began my way through the vacant corridors of the spire. Soon I reached the gallery and inside the painting. I arrived just in time to see the moons light creeping down the wall onto the painting. The image began to change form when everything went black.
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Something changed inside of me. Something new and strange. I could remember everything, all at once. Every memory I had was at my disposal. But there was something else too. Something divine and good. I could feel magic in me. It was cold at first, unbearably cold. I thought I was dying and in a sense I was. For what seemed like hours I screamed out in agony, locked in a frozen prison of my own mind. But then it was done. I opened my eyes and above me was the beautiful skylit ceiling of the gallery. My whole lives memories were settling on my mind. I could remember my childhood. I could see the faces of my parents. The man in the painting, Titus. He was my father. I could remember his eyes were bright blue like Maloks.
I could remember other things that became relevant. The book of chicken scratch runes and symbols that Malok had shown me. And the one I looked at in his library. The runes now had meaning. Each of them a piece of magic for me to use and I could see every last one of them. I could put them together in my mind in a million different ways and get a million different outcomes. I could...I could slow down time. Like the man who orchestrated the deaths of untold thousands. Like Malok. Like my father. Who was I?
I looked up the sky hoping for some sign from the gods as to what the hell just happened. I noticed the moon hadn't moved. It had hardly been a moment here. I could seek answers later. Right now I needed to be there for Kara. I ran through the spire, faster and more agile than ever. I was back in my place just in time to watch her start her last trial.
Her third and final test was the test of alteration. She had to display her ability to use the energy around her and change it into fire and wield it with mastery. I watched, impressed, as she manipulated her magic into a beautiful spiraling display of fire. It came and left in flashes or formed bands that lashed out or completely engulfed her. I measured the moves and slowed them down in my thoughts to examine them. After she finished Madaline came forward and put on an equally magnificent display of fire. Her moves were much less fluid and smooth. She acted instead with great precision and attention to detail.
I thought for a moment about the runes I had and pieced together how to perform both variations of fire sorcery I had just witnessed. After Madaline rejoined the audience the Council smoothly approached the center of the stage. In unison they spoke again. “It is by our judgement that we declare both Kara and Madaline as Adepts of Ignia. May they continue in the mastery of Arcana.” The audience applauded and both Kara and Madaline bowed. I had never seen people so genuinely happy as those two women. After a few moments of applause every one transitioned into idle chatter and small talk. They spoke of the performances and of past trials. It wasn't long before I noticed people staring at me. Soon everyone was staring.
“Tyrium?” asked Kara. Her face was covered in worry.
“Yes.” I replied. I knew that my eyes would cause an issue. I understood the implications and the assumptions.
“What happened to your eyes?” she asked approaching me.
“I honestly don't have an answer Kara. If I had to guess I would infer that I have a magical ability that lay dormant until awoken this evening.” I said more long winded that I had intended. She stared at me without speaking.
“Tyrium.” called out the Queen from her seat at the opposite side of the stage. “Come forward to the stage.” I did as she commanded without question. Something inside of me recognized a greater authority in her than ever before. “Council.” She called out after I reached the stage. The Council came forward and stood around me again like the first time I had stood before them. Chanting again the words that were first unknown to me. Now I recognized the meaning. As they reached forward and touched me I knew they were really touching my soul.
“Celestial blood. Tyrium, son of Titus. Third generation of Dimidei Adeen. Runemage.” They spoke in unison before removing their hands. The Queen erupted in laughter.
“The blood of Adeen shall never die.” She said while laughing. I looked around the room as I noticed almost everyone was smiling at me now. My emotions were different now. I could feel the want to be embarassed from my body. However I chose differently. “I know you are confused Tyrium, son of Titus. So let me tell you the tale of your history. Bellarus, God of war, and Amora, Goddess of love, had seven children. All of them were vain and cruel. All of them but one. Adeen was the perfect balance of love and war. He cared for everyone and would do anything he could to help them and protect them.” As she spoke her words a projection from her mind shone out beautifully above us, illustrating the tale. “He spent his whole life protecting the people of this world until he finally could feel his ending was coming. After 800 years he was dying. Before Nexus could take him, Adeen made love to a woman whom loved him also. Using the power of their mutual love Adeen gave his power into the child they conceived. That child was your father.”
“My grandfather was a Dimidei?” I asked curiously.
“Yes, Tyrium.” I smirked a little. She smirked back. “I hearby release you from the Gaurd. Adepts Kara and Madaline will join you in reporting to Iron Hill. There you will meet with Ulfgar Dankil. Each adept is gifted something from the King of the Hill. For you Tyrium, I feel he will have something as well. Enjoy the night and tomorrow you leave Sol Drar.” After she spoke she left with her gaurds. The room transitioned into loud chatter and many people wanting to shake my hand. It was an hour at least before I could escape the clutches of conversational ettiquete.
Looking for Kara I made my way up to the balcony. I found her there staring up at the moon. Her hair looked just as bright in the dark of night. Almost as if aglow with smoldering light. “Hello Kara.” I said causing her to turn toward me.
“Tyrium.” She said with a smile. “I wondered if you'd ever be able to leave.” I walked toward her slowly.
“I had to find the plan that involved the fewest casualties.” I joked. Her smile faded for a moment. “That was a joke.” I clarified. Even in the dark I could see her blush.
“I'm so sorry. I don't know why I thought that.” She tried to explain. I laughed.
“Don't fret. I imagine my appearance is a little odd.” I said cheerfully. “To be honest. I'm not sure how I feel about me either.”
“What do you mean?” she asked seeming a little more defensive.
“I can see every memory I have at any moment. I can see all the bad decisions I have made. All the mistakes. All the horrors and times of sadness. I'm not sure what I am.” she placed her hand on mine.
“The past can't be changed Tyrium. Don't focus on the past. The only thing left are the lessons you have learned. Focus on right here. Right now. Don't be so lost in worry and regret that you forget to live.” she said to me. I thought about her words and weighed them. They were all acurate and beneficial.
“Thank you.” I said back squeezing gently on her hand. We stood together on the balcony talking for an hour or so before she had to retire for the night. I hadn't yet learned that I don't sleep anymore. I returned my quarters to find the rest of my brothers on the Guard waiting for me. They all sat quietly as I entered and sat with them.
“Tyrium.” spoke Nailo, breaking the silence. “I think I speak for all of us when I say congratulations on your gift...and I mean no disrespect when I ask what in the name of Primus is going on?” he half-way smirked when he asked the question. The others looked uncomfortable.
“Relax everyone. I am no more than your brother. Speak to me as one. As for your question Nailo, I will tell you what I know.” I said leaning forward a bit. I told them the history of my family and how they were tied into the war. I told them about the Sage and I told them about the painting. I told them everything that I could find relevant. They understood for the most part. “That's everything.” I finished.
“There's one thing you are leaving out.” spoke up Reyhn, one of the Elves. I looked to him confused as I reviewed all the information I gave them. He smiled when he could see I was confused. “What's the story with the Arcane Redhead?” The others laughed and I smiled.
“To be honest. I'm not sure yet. I can say that I look forward to seeing how things unfold.” I replied back slyly. My brothers and I joked and laughed for a while before they too needed to rest. Myself, I read. While they dreamt I read an entire book on military tactics and strategy. That was after reading an entire book of Elvish poems. I merely had to scroll over a page for a moment to absorb all of its information.
My brothers said their goodbyes much like Tucker did. Though the Elvish handshake is a bit more personal than in our culture. Kara and Madaline had similar goodbyes with their former Masters. The Queen herself saw us away as well. The ship was nothing like the sailed ships I was used to. They called it Maris Patria. It was as long as a sailed ship but was almost fulley enclosed in a long roofed shelter, similar to some of the homes on Sol Drar. There were runes written along the side and on the back end of the ship. Runes that I recognized would allow someone to guide the ship with the power of the sea and wind.
It was a beautiful combination of dark wood, metals, and stone. From the moment I took my first step I realised the true extent of the magic this ship possessed. On this ship there was no bobbing of waves. It was as if I was still standing on solid ground. It was magnificent. It reminded me of Maloks Carriage. The memories came flooding back and I could remember seeing a possible rune, one I wasn't familiar with, enscribed above the door. Water repellant. I labeled it in my mind.
I was surprised at the speed of Maris Patria. I was even more surprised at how smooth and bearable the voyage was. I thought of a hundred ways I could use runes to help people back home in Kellick. It was a true shame that this gift was also my death sentence. Around half-way to Dhunvar our ship slowed considerably. I was sitting inside, reading the dozen or so books available. My senses were shocked when I exited from the cabin of the ship. The sea was littered with what had to be hundreds of destroyed ships. I knew immediately where I was. The bloody straights. The graveyard of a thousand souls, all wasted because of one man.
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Maris Patria sailed slowly and smoothly through the maze of obstacles and debris. It took well over an hour to clear the derelict graveyard. The whole time I gazed over the horizon, searching. I could feel someone, or many someones, watching me. I looked over my shoulders and scanned for movement or the shape of whomever was out there. "You'll not find them lad. The dead only show up when they want something." Spoke a man who helped navigate the ship.
"The dead?" I asked confused. "Why do they not pass to Primus?"
"That's the mystery. That's why nobody sails through here after dark." replied the man before he continued about his duties. I sat pondering the ghosts until Dhunvar could be seen in the distance. The boat resumed its hasty advance once clear of obstacles. A voyage that should have taken days was done within a days light. Truly wonderful the possibilities of magic.
The ship pulled into the docks of a shipping port on the only smooth shore nearby. The port sat between some rather large rocks. Rocks that screamed that they were of mystical origin. "Defenses from the war" I whispered to myself as the ship slowed to a stop. I looked down the shores and noted the rocks continued on in both directions. They also encircled the port-town from what I could tell.
"We should stay intown for the night." Madaline said as we began stepping from the ship down onto the dock. "The sun will be setting soon."
"I'm going to enjoy sleepin' in an actual bed." Kara chuckled. I could understand her excitement. Elves had a very different idea of comfort than we had in Kellick. As we started into the port town I was surprised to see such a heavy mix of races. Humans, Half-lings, a couple Dwarves, some Half-Elves. I saw magic in the streets and heard languages that I'd never heard before. It was all very exciting.
We found an inn located up against on of the large rocks. It was on the end of a busy street near a tavern, a theatre, and what seemed to be a magic shop. Even with the day growing dark, the street was busy. It reminded me of Port Ilholm. "Do you want to grab a meal at the Tavern?" asked Kara.
"Sure. I'm curious how the food is here." Madaline replied back trying to look into the window of the tavern as we walked by. My thoughts were fixed on the magic shop. I wondered what kind of knowledge I could find inside.
"Tyrium? Tyrium!" Kara said growing louder as she tried to capture my attention.
"Yeah, a meal sounds good." I replied as if I hadn't gotten lost.
"What's on your mind?" Kara asked.
"I want to visit that magic shop." I said nodding toward it. She looked where I nodded.
"Is that what that is?" asked Madaline.
"Yes. I believe so. Those markings by the door are Druid script from Trosdane." I informed them.
"What do they say?" Madaline asked curiously.
"No idea." I replied flatly. Kara laughed a bit. I liked it when she laughed. I could feel my body respond inside. "But that other symbol below the roof is a rune. It prevents violence inside."
"I see that rune on a couple of the buildings here." Madaline added.
"Yes you do." I said with a grin.
We checked in with the Inn Keeper and dropped off our effects in our room. The Tavern was busy with people eating and drinking. Luckily there was a free table for us. Kara and Madaline had fun trying a few different dishes and trying some local wine. I enjoyed the different scents of pipe weed and folk songs from abroad. I don't eat much food. Like in Sol Drar, some of the people took to stairing at my eyes so I combined some runes to make an illusion over them.
"Why did you do that?" Kara asked sounding frustrated.
"They draw a lot of attention." I replied back lowly. She looked around and found a few faces looking back.
"Oh." She said returning to her food.
"They do stand out." Madaline added with a tone of obviousness. I thought to when I had first seen Malok. His eyes were obviously not normal.
"Not anymore." I said with a smirk. At the end of our meal a Bard began to play a song that I had known from Kellick. It was about a horse that never stopped running because he was afraid of his shadow. It was quite comical. I also noticed that a couple of hooded men were watching us very intensely. After our meal we headed toward the magic shop. My hooded friends followed and stood outside, smoking pipes and pretending to talk.
Inside the shop was a sundry of odd looking devices, books, and vials of what had to be potions and elixers. I glanced around looking for things that made me interested. I settled on a few books and a few vials that didn't seem too risky to try. I placed my items on the table by the owner. He looked at the items and then looked up to me curiously.
"I haven't seen you before. Is it gold or barter?" He asked standing and going through the items more thouroughly. His thick gray mustache bounced around with every word. An idea popped into my head.
"Gold." I said calmly.
"That's about 5 pieces worth." He said nodding to himself.
"I'm not from here. Would you take it in weight?" I proposed. He nodded slowly for a moment, clearly in thought.
"That'd be about 2000 grains." He said smartly. I placed my hand in my pocket and created 2000 grains worth of pure gold. I pulled it out and handed it to him. He looked it over suspiciously. "For a moment there I thought you might be another Sorcerer from Sol Drar with more fake magic gold. But this is the real article. High quality too." He nodded with approval. "Feel free to visit again stranger."
"The names Tyrium. I will come again." I said before turning and heading for the door. I opened the door and held it open for Kara and Madaline, all the while scanning the street for the hooded men. They were no where to be found. By now the sky was completely dark. Lamps hung around the street were aglow lighting up the area. "Back to the Inn?" I asked starting off to cross the street diagonally.
"Sounds reasonable." Kara said looking at an amulet she had purchased. Her and Madaline followed behind me through the street. Out the doors of the inn came the two hooded men. I looked down and saw one of them was holding one of my daggers. They didn't notice me coming as I sped up and knocked them out with a couple of blows. "Tyrium!" Kara yelled running after me. I picked up my dagger and showed her.
"This is mine. They were in our room." I said looking them over for other possessions. "They've been watching us since we left earlier."
"Who are they?" Madaline asked. I pulled back their hoods to reveal a strange tattoo on their foreheads. It was a red symbol I wasn't familiar with. Some of the locals had gathered around because of the fighting.
"That's the mark of the Jurai Clan. Theives and Mercenaries they are." Spoke a young man from the crowd. "Don't feel bad about putting them out." I looked to him.
"Thank you for the information." I stood and helped the ladies over the prone bodies. "Good night." I said to the young man and entered the Inn. "I'm going to have a word with the Inn keeper." I said separating from the others. "Excuse me, sir." I said approaching him. He looked up to me with no sign of fear or regret.
"Yes?" He asked genuinely. At this point I was fairly certain he was ignorant of the situation.
"I just found a couple of men with this dagger out side." I said showing him the sheathed blade.
"Mhmm." He said as if expecting more.
"This is my blade. It was with my effects in my locked room." I added. His face grew into a face of concern.
"Oh, my apologies." He said walking briskly toward the stairs. "Let's go have a look." I followed him up to the second floor. The girls stood by our door which was laying in pieces. "How did nobody hear this?" He said looking over the door. He stepped into the room and looked around. I followed him. The room was wholey intact, apart from my bag. My bag was completely dumped out. "Anything else missing?"
I looked over my things briefely. "I don't believe so, no."
"Let's get you into a new room then. The one across the hall is empty. I'll fetch you a new set of keys." I ignored him as I noticed a small symbol on the door that now lay in pieces. It was another red Jurai symbol. The Keep ran down stairs and returned shortly with the keys. Kara thanked him and we moved into the new room.
"Maybe we should sleep in watches." Madaline asked as she sat down.
"I don't sleep so I'll keep watch." I said checking the view out the window. It looked out onto an alley way behind some buildings by the rocks. There was no sign of movement.
"You don't sleep?" Kara asked.
"No. Not anymore." I replied also sitting down.
"What do you do all night?" Madaline asked curiously.
"I read usually." I said pointing to the books I had purchased. She nodded. Kara looked slightly disturbed. I looked to her mimicking her expression.
"That must be lonely." Kara said softly.
"I keep busy." I replied back coldly. Her looked returned to normal but I could tell I was hard for her to understand. I was somehing foreign. I could map out the emotions exactly as they would unfold. She had a fear of me inside of her. "But yeah. It is lonely." I added. She smiled slightly.
Even though I knew I worked more efficiently without attachments, the attachments would keep me human. I wanted to be human. With the abilities I had, I couldn't bet on my honest integrity. I needed an anchor of morality. A compass to point North. I turned my focus to my dagger. This was the dagger I recieved when I entered the Gaurd. Why go through so much trouble for it?
We left for Iron Hill shortly after the sun rose on the next morning. We paid one of the stables for three horses and began West. We stayed South of the Dead Woods for nearly two days. We were warned to keep a safe distance, and we did. We could still hear the ghoulish screams and cackling laughter during the dark of night. The calls rolling out and echoing around us. I spent much of my time at night wondering why the fallen souls here didn't pass on from this world. A question I would seek answers to at Iron Hill.
After we cleared the Woods, it was another day before we came upon the town of Rambert. Here we rested and let the horses rest as well. The road to Iron Hill grew quite hilly past Rambert. Large rocks and stones littered the landscape and the vegetation grew scarce. In the distance the shape of a large mountain began to grow. We arrived at Iron Hill two days after leaving Rambert.
We left our steeds at the stable resting at the foot of the mountain and made our way up a large marble set of stairs. At the top of the stairs was a small landing that sat before massive stone doors. At least four times the height of a man. They were beautifully carved with an ornate design of perfectly straight lines and sharp angles. The doors opened as we approached and before us stood a strong looking dwarf with long straight red hair and beard. His armor was of the highest quality and laid in gold. On his chest was a lions head baring it's teeth. I let my illusion fall from my eyes.
"Hello friends." He spoke in a loud and authoritative voice. "I am Ulfgar Dankil."
"Hello, I'm Madaline and this is Kara. We are of the Arcanus Ignia." Madaline said with formality. Her and Kara both bowed. Ulfgar bowed his head in return.
"Lovely. We haven't seen any daughters of Ignia in years." He said with a genuine smile. I watched him closely, trying to understand him deeper. His eyes snapped to mine. "I know when a Runelord his studying someone. I have to say you remind me of an old friend." He turned to face me.
"My name is Tyrium, son of Titus." I said mimicking his level of authority. I bowed deeply. He returned again with a bow of his head. He wore a large smile.
"Son of Titus." He barked out laughingly. "I knew the child lived!" He stepped forward toward us and extended his arms out wide. "Welcome to Iron Hill. It seems today that the gods love us." He ushered us inside of his Kingdom in the Hill.
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