What will happen? Kale asked himself as he stood over the Falls. The water raced down the sheer drop, roaring viciously as the black water cascaded down in glimmers of silver. Kale had no answer. He did not know what was going to happen or what was happening. Things seemed to move so fast now, his old life thrown away as if it had never been. He sometimes thought back on his old life, seeing Caza’s face before his. Even sometimes his parents, but he tried not to. He could not let his emotions grab hold of him. He could not become weak, because those who are weak in the Dark die. Kale had discovered that the hard way.
He watched the shards of broken light glint off the running water, dashing to its end as it leaped off the precipice. Kale thought of his life like the water, running faster and faster with no halt. The constant roars of chaos or confusion consuming him. Though the water had an end, a final drop, an inevitable decent. The end was brutal and sudden, a great explosion of what was and what is. Would he fall like the water? He did not know. All he could do was hope he didn’t. Or could he…
He turned his back on the Falls, the hissing water fading to a feeble whisper. Before him, standing over the Falls, a great silver hall shone through the dark night like a dying star, its ornate stained windows burning with a sapphire glow. Great marble stairs led up to the open arch, massive and gaping. The arch was curved and elegant in shape, carving through the silver hall with an outline of blue. Etched into the silver above the arch, ancient symbols of a lost and forgotten language blazed with blue light.
Kale clicked up the high mountain of stairs, his white and silver tunic fluttering and flapping in the cool, misty winds. His pale white face glowed like a ghost’s through the darkness. After passing through the archway, its mouth consuming him, the inner hall expanded before him, vast and massive. Intricately carven silver pillars twirled gracefully down from the high tapered ceiling. Long thin banners of blue silk draped down the walls, a silver symbol emblazoned onto the front.
The Hall of Aeou, as called by the Zeian was a colossal structure, built almost for giants. All glowed with white and gold light, with stairs on either end wrapping around the hall and rising off into the upper levels. Shelves of marble fell down on either side, a silvery blue liquid rolling down the shelves, glassy and still. Kale had never seen anything of this make. Not even the great capital of Vaelon compared. This was a kind of its own, glowing with radiance and grace. It was the last great hall of the Zeian.
At the center of the grand floor, there was another ancient symbol etched into the marble, glowing from deep within. With magic. It had to be magic. Along the sides, between each of the pillars of silver, statues of sapphire glinted and burned with blue light from their hearts, shaped in the likenesses of great kings of the Zeian from the elder days in Aesairia. Their faces were sharp and keen with long flowing hair that raced down to their shoulders. Each were clad in scaled armor, elegant and intricately carven into the sapphire. They held mightily great elaborate blades and spears in their arms, piercing and elegant. Such time and skill had gone into their tools and armor, such a graceful and peaceful people could only make such creations. Why had they been
Kale continued clicking down the main hall, the figures and allure of the majestic artwork stunning to behold. Other beings walked through the hall, all draped in white robes and a gilded sash and a silver hood flung over their face. Beneath the shrouding fabric, they all were bald with a bluish teal skin and a deep navy tattoo inked at their forehead. Some prayed, some read, some simply stood. Though never did they speak, for their mouths were sealed, never to open.
They were neither Alduri nor Zeian, but Mier, a silent race of people from the west the Zeian brought over with them when they fled their homeland. The Mier never spoke and only talked with their hands and movements. They have vowed never to speak in prayer to their gods, the Elder Six.
Their eyes and ears were keen, and they never took part in war or battle. Most of the Mier gathered at the back of the hall, where on a grand dais a pool of green water lay still and glassy, as though it wasn’t even liquid, but a solid. Tiny orbs of white light buzzed against the flat surface, where standing out of the water, a sapphire statue of a women danced with a harp in hand.
She was the goddess of knowledge and song, the one who had saved the few Zeian from the wroth of their beloved realm. Her name was Eariea, and was greatly worshipped by both the Mier and Zeian. He elegant body was carved with flowing robes and a beautiful face. Kale could not take his eyes off the goddess. There was a subtle spell, indeed, he could feel the power.
Behind Eariea, painted against the vast back wall, a mural of the destruction of Aesairia was depicted. The art was stunning, the colors faded, but grand. The mural consumed Kale’s vision and he then saw what had become of their realm. The painting was drawn from a perspective high in the grey maze of rocks that were the Mountains of Elendiav. Down below in the valleys of green, the massive trees and hills and lakes were being assailed by giant meteors, wreathed in lurid red and orange flame. The meteors crashed into the earth, enveloping everything in a cloak of red and chaos. Massive waves of churning blue water besieged the land from afar, their frothy white hands blanketing the realm.
There were scarce cities still standing, but all would eventually come to their fiery ruin. It was an artwork that haunted the dreams of every living Zeian that still walks this vast world. The balls of flame ate the peaceful land and now they say all that is left is blackness and a grey waste with ash still drifting through the skies and the entire earth lost under sea.
Kale walked away, turning his back on the dismal mural. He laid his hand on a curving handrail, and started walking up the many steps to the second level. As he grew higher and higher, winding through the air, the hall faded and the white and blue light was all there was. At the end of the stairs, a pair of shivering blue torches were bolstered to the wall where beneath there was a door.
It was faint, almost a projection. Kale inched forward, glancing around. There was no one. The door was small, and was of gold, gleaming green in the blue torchlight. Kale placed his hand of the licking emerald flames of the gilded door and shoved it open. Behind, there was nothing but darkness, a black void. Though a small glint of white dotted the veil. Kale stepped under the threshold toward the light, curious. The door shut behind him softly, and the light brightened.
Ekin gnawed at his lower lip.
“He is strong.” He said. “Too strong, I fear.”
Eaon pursed his thin lips, his hair like liquid silver. The Zeian was troubled. “Indeed, Ekin, his power is unfathomable. He is a god, you must remember.”
“Yes,” Said Ekin. “But even gods can be killed.”
“They can yes, but not easily.” Said Eaon. “You do not kill a god you would with a mortal. There are ways, yes to do it, but it has never been successful. It has never happened before. The only way is knowledge, you must outsmart them. To fight them in combat would mean certain death, but with a plan, your chances are better. There are flaws to a god, like any other person. But in gods, their flaws are bigger than most, I have found.”
“Then we use that against him.” Ekin said.
“You can.” Said Eaon. “But first you must discover that flaw. The gods tend to hide their flaws extremely well, some would say too well.”
“And what do you say?” Ekin asked.
“I think that the Oppressive One’s flaws are hidden well enough, but can be undone rather simply.” Eaon weaved his lithe fingers around one another. It was a habit.
“And do you know such flaw?” Asked Ekin.
“I’m afraid I do not.” Said Eaon. “Though I have seen a gods fall before. Long ago, when I was among my kin in Aesairia. No, it was not a death of one of the Elder Six, but still a god. It is not the same as any death of a mere mortal man, or even immortal being. There is no blood spilt, no wound made. Only a great explosion of light.”
“Though how do we kill him if he is a god?” Asked Ekin. “Yes he has his flaws, but he is still a god. He is immortal. In the legends, it says that no god can be slain by a mortal hand, only a godly hand.”
“I remember the legends.” Eaon said. “And they are true. No mortal can slay such being. It is fact.”
“Then we cannot defeat him.” Ekin said sullenly. “We are no gods, Eaon.”
“Yes, you are no god, Ekin, but I think there is another way.” Eaon assured him.
Eaon ran his thin finger along the ribbed bookshelves behind him, finding one and sliding it off the wood. He set it down on the small glass table, dusting off the fine film of grey. The volume was large and thick, with tattered pages and worn leather covers. A ancient language laced across the top, reading, The High Elari.
Eaon grabbed a chunk of the book and swung it open to a ratty sheet of parchment, the ink smeared and fine. He navigated with his finger, “It says in the old tongue of Vellaie that there is a weapon that can be used to destroy a god. It says it has been lost, a myth for millions of years.” He skimmed further. “It says it was of the gods creation, developed from their magic, both dark and light. They wanted to make such thing so that if ever they were unjust or became too powerful, they could kill themselves and save their children, their greatest creations.”
Ekin tightened his fist, “But if such a thing did exist, where would it be? The chances that it would lye in Runir are very slim.”
“I think you are correct.” Eaon said. “We cannot tell where this weapon is or even how to use it. We cannot dwell on this though, I think It would be prudent for us to abandon these legends.”
“I agree.” Ekin said. “Legends will not defeat the Oppressive One. I must, along with the rest of our Order. That is our only hope.”
“It has been long since your Order have taken up their Blades together as one.” Said Eaon.
“And since, our power has diminished.” Said Ekin. “Even during the beginning of the Ascension we saw our power fail us. His power is far greater than even us Knights. During the war, we lost thirteen men in a year and after that we lost more either to desertion or death.”
“Indeed.” Said Eaon. “Your power is great, but against the Oppressive One, it is not as it once was.”
“Indeed,” Ekin said. “I could feel it in my Blade, in my armor. There is something wrong. Their radiance, their power has withered away. They do no shine as bright as they once did and feel heavy when used, as if a burden. The edges are not as sharp and their magic seep out like mist. What will happen to them, Eaon? Will they fail us as everything else has?”
“I am not sure.” Said Eaon. “But, I think, that these objects are not simply loosing their energy meaninglessly. There is a reason. It may be the Darkness, the Mist, the ash. But also, I think, it could be hope. There is little hope in the world in these dark days we live in now. When your Order was at the height of its power there was much hope and as the war dragged on, the hope, as well as your magic were lost.
“When the remaining Blades are lifted once again, I think, that their power shall return, or at least begin to return to the ancient Blades. I think I hope will return to the world once they see their protectors rise again in their defense.”
“What worries me, Eaon is when we do find them, my brothers, they will not fight.” Said Ekin. “Or even that they have all died. I am not sure if they will take up their Blades once again or done their armor. These long years may have corrupted their minds, made them a prisoner of the mist.”
“I think, Ekin, that they will respond.” Eaon reassured him. “Once they see that there is hope and once they see their leader return.”
“How very little hope we have though.” Ekin said. “Each day, it grows thinner as I see what is happening in the world. All the death, the darkness, the mist. I rips at me, tearing at my flesh with iron talons. It must to them as well. The only thing that gives me hope is Kale, the boy.”
“What do you think of this boy?” Asked Eaon. “It is unusual for you to act as you are. To carry a companion.”
“If not for him, I would still be living in my stone house.” Ekin said. “He has given me life again, life that I lost in that mountain. He has given me hope, the thing everybody longs for n these grave days. Kale is the reason that I do not give up and believe as I do now. I want to do what is right for the land, but also for Kale.”
“I think you are a good person, Ekin, inside.” Eaon said.
“I owe my life to that boy, for he has saved me many times on this journey.” Ekin said. “He might not know this, but I am doing this all for him. He had no family before, a street urchin from Vaelon was all he was, living with his brother Caza who is most likely dead. I must be his father, the one he looks up to. I must do it because I know how he feels, to be alone. I want to be better than my father and give strength to the boy, for I feel he has a part to play in this war that is fast approaching.”
“As do I.” Said Eaon. “The boy has a rare gift, the magic of Arkency. He is strong as well. I can feel it when I am near him, pulsing like heartbeats. He is different…”
“Though I am also scared for the boy.” Ekin said. “He is just a kid, really. The dangers will not hesitate to kill anyone and I am afraid I cannot protect him from what we will face further on.”
“He will learn his powers when you arrive in Vorr.” Said Eaon. “Szen will be a good teacher for him. They are very similar and he is a master Arkentite with skill beyond any normal Arkentite I have ever seen. They are both… different.”
“Though he also is the head of the Black Hand, a thieving crew.” Said Ekin, weary. “They are all thieves, all of them and thieves are not to be trusted. I have made the mistake once, I do not want it to happen to Kale. I do not want to see him crushed as I was.”
“You must let the past go, Ekin.” Said Eaon. “The lad is not you. Neither is Szen.”
“And you know this how?” Asked Ekin.
Eaon laid his hand onto Ekin’s shoulder, “Sometimes, I think, your worst enemy is yourself, Ekin, a thing you must change.”
The room was dim. The grey stone floor was thrown with dancing white light and the ceiling disappeared in a white veil, cloudy and thin. The stone met a pool of silver liquid near the center of the room and the glassy water rippled softly into a dark void at the back. Kale took a rigid step forward, the room… unusual.
He walked to the edge of the stone floor and glanced down into the mirrored water, his swirling face looking back up at him. The water began to ripple and brush against the stone, until at last the water writhed wildly, shifting like shattered glass. From the center of the silvery pool, there burst out a white-blue figure, translucent and glowing. The figure twirled through the air, silver shards of glass cascading down her body and back into the pool with a sparkle.
The white-blue figure landed softly, feet hardly touching the water. Her face was majestic, a pure and true beauty. Her hair rolled down her sides in bouncing tumbles, long and flowing. In the women’s motherly arms, she delicately held a sphere of blue light, a great white symbol stark against the blue. The white symbol pulsed with light and power.
Kale found nothing but air as he tried to speak. All that came out was a grunt.
The glowing figure spoke in an angelic and alluring voice, “Welcome, traveler to my secret Hall.” He words caressed Kale’s ears. “I am Iura, Goddess of Light and Good.”
Kale did not speak, but the goddess continued soothingly, “I have watched over you, Kale Arrendias, all your life. I have saved you and given you your powers. Some of them you do net yet know of, but given time, you will.”
She said my surname. “Why have you watched over me?” Asked Kale.
“Iura does not shed her secrets so easily, Kale.” Iura said. “That much is not for me to tell…yet. Though I can tell you your Arkency is no normal gift. It is different from the others. You possess a power far greater than you know.”
“And what will I do with this power?” Asked Kale, “Since you know this?”
“That much is not for me to say, for it has not happened yet.” Said Iura. “Those decisions are left up to you. Whether you chose the light or the dark is completely your choice. I can only help you get to those points of choice.”
Kale looked down at his hands, then back at Iura, “You are Iura the Great. You’re the Goddess who destroyed Aesairia.”
“Indeed, young one, I did.” Iura said.
“But why?” Kale asked. “What had they done?”
“It was not the matter of what they had done.” Iura said. “It was what they would have done.”
There was silence.
“The Zeian were an advanced race of beings that we Six created.” Said Iura. “They were our greatest achievements, following the building of this universe. They were powerful and eager for knowledge…to eager…and too advanced. These beings were dangerous, both to us and the other races that inhabited these lands. They would have destroyed even us, for they had discovered our sacred secrets and our powers and flaws.”
“So you killed them all.”
“We tried.” Said Iura, “Though there were some who escaped and fled.” Kale thought of Eaon. “That was the work of my sister, Eariea, who was light hearted and weak. She could not stand to see her beloved race destroyed completely, so she divulged our secrets to them and they left Aesairia before it was destroyed.”
“Eariea is your sister?” Asked Kale, wondrous.
Iura nodded, “As well as Nierah. We are all sisters, daughters of the One God Aue. We are the Three Sisters of Light and Good, our brothers are of Aue as we are, though are referred to as the Three Brothers of Shadow and Darkness. There is only one brother now though. You Alduri call him the Oppressive One, the one who conquered your lands of Runir, though his true name is Rrea.”
“He is your brother?” Asked Kale.
Iura nodded. “Indeed, as was his brothers Meroa and Untore. Though, as I recall, Ekin has already told you about their fates…” She glided through the air closer to Kale. “It is now only Rrea, his power multiplied by two with the deaths of his brothers. The deaths he made.”
“But is there anyway to stop him?” Asked Kale. “Is there a way to kill him?”
“There is a way to kill anyone.” Iura said calmly. “Rrea is no exception. He can be killed.”
“How?” Asked Kale.
“I cannot tell you plainly, young one, but I can help you.” Iura said. “There is an object, a weapon some might say that will help you defeat Rrea. It lies deep in the Mountains of Varrin, hidden away, concealed by my power. I can show you the way, but I cannot help you retrieve it.”
“Where in the mountains?” Asked Kale.
“That much is for you to find out on your own.” Said Iura. “I bid you farewell, Kale Arrendias. Until our next meeting.” And she twirled into the sky and dove back into the silver water without a splash or ripple.
Kale was alone, silence consuming the hall. He looked back into the water to find nothing. There was a pound that came from outside. Then another, vibrating the entire hall. The water still did not stir. There was a louder beat, and a louder one, playing against each previous thud. Kale walked back to the door and twisted it open. On the opposite side, there was chaos.
"This extract remains the exclusive property of the author who retains all copyright and other intellectual property rights in the work. It may not be stored, displayed, published, reproduced or used by any person or entity for any purpose without the author's express permission and authority."