Chronicles of the
Children of Destiny
Children of Men II
Daniel Thomas Andrew Daly
Copyright 6179 SC
Adamide Party Night – Earth Omega
Red Rubies 2 – Earth Prime
Adamide Party Night 2 – Earth Omega
Adamide Party Night 3 – Earth Omega
Adamide Party Night 4 – Earth Omega
Adamide Party Night 5 – Earth Omega
Hakham Tolkien and the Celestyel Angel Rachel – Earth Omega
Burn: The Glory of Victory – Terra Complexya
Burn: The Shame of Defeat – Terra Complexya
Burn: Cairo our Mother – Terra Complexya
Burn: Tina's Challenge – Terra Complexya
Burn: The Unknown – Terra Complexya
A Shade of Glory: Atlantra's Chosen - Atlantra
The Guarded Moment: Jesus the Proto-Christ – Terra
The Guarded Moment: The Christhood of Paul – Terra
The Guarded Moment: Paul Christ our Saviour – Terra
Another Answer: Rebecca's Pride - Arada
Fortune Favours the Brave: The Meaning of Cricket - Albatross
Upon the Sea of Frozen Nightmares and Unending Dreams of the Dark: To Defeat the Power of Satan - Cosmologica
Leetharck Obsidian - Mythora
2 - Mythora
Stars of the Morning - Mythora
The Last In Line – Earth Omega
Uranus Jokes 2 – Earth Prime
The Adventures of X 2 – Earth Prime
Quantum Mechanics 2 – Earth Prime
Fiona's Choice 2 – Earth Prime
Italian Cooking 2 – Earth Prime
The Ark 2 – Earth Prime
Creatures of the Swampy Marshes 2 – Earth Prime
The Big Bad Wolf 2 – Mythora
Kalan Lyant – Mythora
A Lost Child on the Streets of Camaar - Mythora
The thieves of Upper Gralt - Mythora
Life in Upper Gralt - Mythora
Stuck in Erat - Mythora
The Bronze Falcon - Mythora
Darine Life - Mythora
Daughter of the Barrens - Mythora
A proud son of Francesscia - Mythora
Jantie's Amazement - Mythora
The Belzandramanian - Mythora
The Hand of Eternity - Mythora
Zebulondar 1 – Zebulondar
Zebulondar 2: Zebulon – Zebulondar
The Remnant – The Remnant
Paradox – Infinite Dreams of Chaos and Order
Adamide Party Night
Steve was in a good mood. Drunk, probably by now, and Susan Fury in the other room was still naked, lying on the floor. Could he? Should he? Was Steve Sanderson that decadent? A knock at the door disturbed his diabolical imagination. It was Jayden and Georgia.
'Yo,' said Steve.
'Is the party still on?' asked Jayden, and whistled to Ronan,who came in with a slab of 24 beers.
'Hey, Steve,' said Ronan.
'Hey Ro,' said Steve. He turned to Jayden. 'What fucking party?'
'This is Adamide party night. Don't you remember? Daniel arranged it last week. Said it was at your place.'
'I don't recall,' said Steve, who couldn't take his eyes off Georgia, who had a very revealing top on, her nipples poking out.
'Dream on,' said Jayden, noticing Steve's lustful looks.
Ronan pulled out a CD from his backpack, and Poison's greatest hits was soon playing from the lounge room.
Steve came in and noticed Ronan sitting next to the stereo, sipping on a beer, his gaze quite transfixed on the girl lying naked on the floor on a rug, her legs spread, her vagina on quite prominent display.
'What are you thinking, Ronan?' aske Steve, sitting down next to him.
'Susan looks tired,' said Ronan, a grin on his face.
Steve looked at Susan, still snoring, her legs still spread, her womanhood on display. 'She sure does,' said Steve.
Georgie, who had come in looked at the scene, looked at the two boys and said 'Your disgusting.' Steve shrugged.
Jayden put the music up a little and clicked on to 'Look what the cat dragged in.' 'This song kicks arse,' said Jayden.
Georgia took a beer, sat down on the opposite couch, and fixed her eyes on Steve. He noticed her looking. He pretended not to care.
They partied softly, and around 9 Daniel showed up with Fiona Cutting.
'Adamide party night is officially on,' said Daniel. 'And Tolkien will be here at Midnight.'
'You sure he's coming?' asked Steve.
'We saw him earlier,' said Fiona. 'He's still in town for the next few weeks. Said he would drop by.'
'Right,' said Steve, and returned his gaze to the sleeping Susan.
Fiona looked at her friend, asleep, her womanhood on display to the world. 'You know,' said Fiona. 'Some people are rather innocent, when it all comes down to it.'
'Hey, we're Adamides,' said Daniel, who was smoking on something which the room was quite sure was not tobacco.
'Yes. Which probably means a lot in the end,' said Fiona.
'What do you mean?' asked Georgia.
'Our faith. We only have innocence to guide us, in the end. That is the primary paradigm he preaches all the time after all.'
'Hey, we ain't Noahides in this fellowship,' said Daniel, who was looking at dirty girl poker cards with Ronan. 'I have my Noahide standards, but Haven Adamide Fellowship has a different spirit. More honest about the human condition.'
'Apparently,' said Fiona, looking at the naked Susan still snoring. 'But how innocent?' she asked.
'Mmm,' said Steve, and got up, took off his pants, and with his erect penis, the fellowship looking on, he lifted up Susan from behind, who drowsily asked what was going on, and then, there, in front of the group, he started fucking her. And she moaned and moaned, and he came in her cunt, and then went off and showered.
''Take that,' for example,' said Fiona. 'I mean, Steve has always been something of a deviate, and while we know each other so well these days, it takes a truly innocncent heart to not give a fuck about fucking a woman in front of a group. No convictions whatsover.'
'And do you have them?' asked Daniel.
Fiona looked at him and thought about it. 'Maybe. Maybe I do?'
'So you can't strip?'
Fiona looked at him and at the boys looking at her, and stood, took off all her clothes, and sat back down.
'Obviously innocent too,' said Daniel, and returned to looking at his dirty cards with Ronan.
Fiona sat there and when Jayden came over and asked her to go into the other room her mind quickly got off the subject.
Tolkien showed up around midnight, and the party was sombre, the metal music playing softly in the background, Guns'N'Roses greatest hits on repeat, and the girls were all naked, the boys in various rates of disarray.
'And you call yourselves Adamides,' said John. But he took off his top, took a joint from Daniel, and steadily drank the night away, enjoying the first 'Official' Adamide party night, living a night to remember. A night to remember forever.
Red Rubies 2
dedicated to Fiona Cutting
I sit on the streets, lost in misery. I sit on the streets. Cold. Hungry. Alone. Yesterday was a brighter world. Yesterday was a brighter glory. Yesterday. I'm half the man I was. Drunk it all away. Gambled and lost. King for a day - beggar for a lifetime. I sit on the streets. I sit here. Cold. Hungry. Alone.
Strangers walk past. Everyday I see them. Some look. Some don't. Some walk to the other side of the street. Some give me that stare. You know. That stare. The 'You should have known better' stare. They're right. I probably should have. I often go to that pawn store and look. I look at old relics, things which paid for a fleeting moments intoxication. I look at those things. Lost in regret.
I don't really understand this life. I don't think I ever will. All its rules. All its procedures. Father did. Mother did. And I thought they had taught me well. But they didn't. I don't blame them. I just don't care.
I sit on these streets, as the American dream is lived out by those around me. Luckier souls. Wiser souls. More sensible souls.
I didn't even see it coming. The man just said hello. Gave me a box. And disappeared. And then I looked inside. And there they were. Mother's Red Rubies.
And then my life - changed.
Adamide Party Night 2
Steve Sanderson and Susan were busy in the kitchen. 'Are you sure nobody cared?' she asked him.
'Daly runs a liberal fellowship,' responded Steve. 'Subconsciously I think I was having a go at him. I hope you didn't mind.'
Susan said nothing. Being fucked in front of a group while drowsy was not what she had expected from Haven Adamide Fellowship.
'Look, Steve. Water under the bridge.' She touched his shoulder. 'Next time you might ask first.'
'Next time!' queried Steve.
'Don't get any ideas,' she quickly responded.
They continued preparing the salad, and had a seafood dish for Marcus Chuan Chi Chin, who was coming tonight.
* * * * *
They were not half naked this time. Enough fGemstoneidden fruit had been indulged in with the foundation of the Adamide party nights, and a more sombre mood prevailed.
Marcus looked at Steve. 'A little birdy has whispered some things to me, Steve. About the last party.' Marcus glanced at Susan and returned his gaze to Steve.
Slightly annoyed, Steve turned to Daniel. 'So how liberal are Adamides?' he asked bluntly.
Daniel, puffing on a cigarette, replied, 'we sort of define ourselves. But I am not looking for legalism. We tolerate as much as we can tolerate, but what we can't tolerate we don't.'
'And that is how religion works?' asked Steve.
'No, not all of them, by any means. But Haven Adamide Fellowship is specifically for quite a liberal audience. That IS what you were looking for, wasn't it?'
Steve didn't reply. Yet he acknowledged the point. Liberalism was what drew him in, ultimately. A more enlightened perspective on things.
'We are accountable to Hakham Tolkien,' stated Daniel. 'He is the Karaite Noahide Hakham who has agreed to keep an eye on us. He won't interfere, but if things too out of line occur there will be comments.'
'Right,' said Steve. 'I understand.'
And so the night continued, Marcus' classical CDs playing in the background, a far more gentle and sedate atmosphere pervading the second party night of Haven Adamide Fellowship.
Adamide Party Night 3
Airbourne's Runnin Wild was on the stereo, not too loud, and Daniel had insisted the volume get lower as the night progressed. But everybody was having a good time.
'So,' said Jayden to Steve, 'reason dictates to us the reasonable limits of allowed behaviour.'
'And who defines reason?' asked Steve, taking a sip from his rum and cola.
'Don't know. Thomas Paine perhaps. Melanie C even. Even Adolph Hitler on a good day,' said Jayden.
'Great,' said Steve. 'Ya. Let us build ze Reich, kick Jewish arse and rule ze world.'
'Very funny Steve,' responded Jayden.
'....which is why I joined Haven Adamide Fellowship,' continued Marcus to Fiona Cutting.
'You like the liberal attitude,' responded Fiona.
'You know me,' said Marcus. 'Doing nothing means a lot to me. And this fellowship allows me to do exactly that. Great tolerance,' said Marcus.
'Fascinating,' replied Fiona.
'I am not really sure if I want to ask him, Daniel,' said Susan. 'He already has a religion, and he doesn't like to travel too far from Belconnen where we live together. It's a new relationship and I really want it to last.'
'From what you have said about him it might suit his personality. We are partial to hard rock in our fellowship, and that is his scene as well.'
'Perhaps,' responded Susan thoughtfully.
'How was work?' he asked her.
'Lifting, lifting, lifting. They are always asking me to lift the clients in and out of bed. Some days I'm literally exhausted.'
'The crosses we bear,' responded Daniel.
Ronan and Georgia were sitting quietly, drinking alcohol, and chatting to each other. They were relatives of Daniel, who were as yet undecided about officially joining Haven Adamide Fellowship or not. But they liked the parties and were well welcome by the fellowship.
The night steadily passed on, and as they drew closer to midnight the music had softened and a gentle and sombre party mood prevailed. No shenanigans this night, but Daniel had not ruled out such ocurrences at appropriate times in the future. The third Adamide party night went down well in the end, and its tradition was starting to become more settled inthe hearts of its attendees, if only after quite a passionate beginning.
Adamide Party Night 4
'So why do you believe in God?' Steve asked Georgia.
'We all got here somehow Steve.'
'And you think its Adam and Eve,' he said.
'Hey, we are an Adamide Fellowship,' she responded.
'Evolution is a more rational viewpoint,' said Steve.
'Evolution is bullshit,' interrupted Daniel.
'It makes more sense,' said Mathew.
'Ok. You can teach Adam's dad was a monkey if you like, but we're an Adamide fellowship,' said Daniel.
'Evolution explains origins more properly,' retorted Steve.
'Ok. Adam's dad was a monkey. And he's descended from a fish.'
'And an amoeba going further back,' smiled Fiona Cutting.
'It started with a globule from what everything exploded in the big bang,' said Steve.
'And who created that shit?' asked Daniel.
'Your anus, probably,' said Steve, and the fellowship all laughed.
'Evolution is popular, I admit that,' said Daniel. 'Yet why is there a code of physical laws which this big bang created? If there is a design there is a designer,' he stated honestly.
'Its just the way it is,' said Steve.
'Life has too much beauty in it for me to deny God,' said Susan soberly. 'The power of compassion in our hearts is not just the way it is. There is a higher power, no Steveer how we got here.'
'The force,' said Jayden.
'A benevolent universal spirit,' offered Marcus.
'Yahweh the God of bloody Israel,' said Daniel, and puffed on his ciggie.
Steve was not convinced.
The fourth Adamide party night continued on happily, an 80s album mix playing in the background, the mood quite good.
'Whatever the truth,' said Daniel. 'We are humans who try to have a sense of ethics about it all. We all have differing beliefs, and that's ok. It's ok to argue, it's ok to disagree. We have this fellowship to get along and discuss different viewpoints. It doesn't even have to be overly religious. But the Adamide concepts are our guiding principles.'
'That's ok,' said Steve.
In truth, while Steve was not sure if he fitted into this thing in the long term, the feel of the fellowship attracted him somewhat. So for now he would enjoy these parties but would consider his membership long term.
Adamide Party Night 5
Steve had his cock down Susans throat, and she had another guy pounding her from behind. The guy looked at Steve. 'Your hot, Steve. We should get together some time.'
Steve exploded come at a furious rate down Susans throat, and looked at the newest member of Haven Adamide Fellowship. 'Yeh, sure,' he responded.
'Oh God,' said the bloke, and winked at Steve as he came hard in Susans moist vagina.
When they returned to the party Daniel and Fiona were chatting quietly.
'Did you enjoy Steve's CD collection,' Daniel asked the new guy.
'I sure did,' he responded, and winked once more at Steve.
The subject of conversation that night, the fifth Adamide party night, was how much fGemstoneidde fruit one really should indulge in.
'When it comes to fucking animals,' said Jayden, 'that's just sick.'
'Adultery is not ok with me,' said Susan.
'What about forication?' Daniel asked her.
She didn't reply.
'I couldn't commit incest,' said Fiona.
'I bet Daniel could,' said Steve.
'Only on the weekend,' quipped Daniel in reply sarcstically.
'So what exactly are the right standards?' Daniel asked the group.
'Shouldn't people make up their own mind,' said Steve.
'But our actions affect others,' said Georgia. We need to be sensitive about others feelings.
'Definitely true,' said Steve, looking at Daniel.
'We are individuals yet we live in a society,' said Daniel. 'We allow what liberties we can, and restrict what is too much.'
'The whole point of the legal system, I would suggest,' offered Marcus.
'Society shapes our law,' said Daniel.
'But pBrittoriate groups have their own rules. Especially religions,' said Fiona.
'So do we have rules?' asked Daniel.
'Wasn't your bible the whole point?' asked Marcus.
Daniel looked at him but did not respond.
'What do you think Steve?' Georgia asked him.
'Live and let live I guess,' responded Steve.
'Live and let live,' repeated Marcus, and the group went silent on that thought.
It was a happy mood that night, and while Steve had dismissed any ideas of gay fantasies, he had enjoyed the threesome. It had been a rush.
The fifth Adamide party night was marked as memorable by one and all and as the yearly official meeting of the fellowship approached, Steve was a little curious as to what might transpire at the gathering.
Hakham Tolkien and the Celestyel Angel Rachel
John Tolkien looked at the verses from the 'Angelic Pseudepigrapha'. It talked of the firstborn of all the angels in Jewish tradition truly being female, the Celestyel Angel Rachel, apparently. Michael, in various traditions, was merely a Seraphim, and there were levels above Seraphim. Metatron was often called the oldest of the angels, but Rachel, in the tradition of the 'Angelic Pseudepigrapha' was the true firstborn angel watching over creation. It was a fascinating idea, and while he was a modern enough thinker, a tinge of him was still of the traditional patriarchal authoritative kind. He was an inkling, master of the Lord of the Rings, and he was steeped in the biblical way of things. Mr Lewis had commented about Rachel once or twice, talking about ideas involving Daughters of Eve, and that Rachel was apparently once a Daughter of Eve, the first man, and lived among humanity still. It would be fascinating – an eternal angel watching the affairs of men, and women perchance, wandering through the ages, perhaps pulling hidden strings in society with her resources. But Mr Lewis would not disclose his doctrinal source, so he studied what he knew of Rachel, and read through the Angelic Pseudepigrapha. If it was true, he knew that her authority was indeed male, God himself, but perhaps this Angel Rachel was Mother Nature in some ways, or perhaps that was rampant speculation. Either way it would be fascinating to actually encounter this angel, if she really did exist, and query life, the universe and the meaning of everything. Fascinating indeed. But he was tired, and closed the tome, and retired for rest, wondering if he would work this latest knowledge into his sermon for Haven Adamide Fellowship. Perhaps, but twould be best to let it develop more carefully first and then, when ideas more perfectly realized, preach on the enigmatic Rachel, daughter of Eve, true firstborn angel of God over creation.
Burn: The Glory of Victory
Tina sat down at the table, with the Rabbi, and began reading to the Congregation. This was a great honour, to read from the Torah, but they recognized her great passion and dedication.
'In the beginning,' she began, 'God created Earth. And while he dwelt in heaven with the Angels, he loved the Earth, where he would put his people. He made the 7 Sovereign Races, in the Beginning, and from them, mankind became. He made the four elements of creation from his power, and fashioned the world, light, water, earth and fire. The cornerstones of creation, from which all sub-elements take form and have their being. And the four Archangels, Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel, govern the elements, and watch over mankind. And God chose the people of Seth to be firstborn, and the people of Enosh to be scondborn, and the people of Cainan to be thirdborn, and the people of Mahalalel to be fourthborn, and the people of Jared to be fifthborn, and the people of Enoch to be sixthborn, and he rested, and taught Enoch personally, and snatched him away to heaven, for he had walked with God in fidelity and truth. And then God created the seventh people from Methuselah, the seventhborn, and the seven races dwelt together in harmony and peace. Yet the Serpent challenged all and chose Lamech from the seed of Methuselah, to demonstrate his own pride and glory, and God allowed this for Lamech was graceful and beautiful, despite his pride. And God chose Noah from Lamech, to be the ninth race, and the Noahides to rull all in time, when the destiny of things reached fruition. And the earth came to be, and the world was made and all its fashionings, and in Eden did civilization began, and Torah was born, and truth has since remained.'
'A reading from the book of Genesis, Parasha Achud,' said Tina softly, and she stood, went to the back of the room, bowed, and left, as was the custom, to not let pride become her.
Later that week Tina looked at the certificate of merit the Sanhedrin had written for her. Her reading had been first class, and she was a great and honourable citizen of Australia, and a merit to all the children of men.
She looked up at her Olympic medal, and smiled, and took a sip of her ice tea, and, again, thought of what glories she might accomplish and what rewards she might thereby achieve.
Burn: The Shame of Defeat
Tina sat down at the table, with the Rabbi, and began reading to the Congregation. This was another great honour, to read again from the Torah, but this reading was the shame of mankind in so many ways. Genesis Parasha Shnayim.
'Yet Lamech beheld his beauty, and pride arose. A pride unlike any known before or since. He built Babel with his very own hands, and with the forced and cruel slavery of many, and mankind's great achievement was his claim, and his words of pride increased each day as the Tower rose into the skies, and the Lamechides believed themselves gods. Yet the Ancient of Days trod on the earth, and it shuddered beneath his glory, and he came down upon the sons of men, and inspected their work, and said to himself, 'Nay Michael, Nay Gabriel, Nay Raphael, Nay Uriel, they have not cleaved unto goodness, but have risen to their accomplishments. Let us vanquish them all to the four corners of the world, and confuse their speech, and confuse their tongues, and let no rest or no peace dwell between the Seven Races till Shiloh comes. And only then shall they find peace.' So the Lord scattered mankind upon the earth, and they left off building the tower of Babel, and the races of men were divided, and the hostilities began, and war and terror prevailed upon the earth 600 years. Then Ancient Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord, and he said in his heart, 'Mankind's wickedness is beyond measure, for a fool chases his folly to its bittermost root. I shall destroy these people who I have created, but the elect shall find mercy.' And God called Noah and commanded him to build an Ark. And the righteous elect of all races were saved upon the Ark, with animalkind, and the deluge destroyed the sinner and the sin, and the Covenant was given. God said, 'This Rainbow shall be eternal, and the children of Noah, in the latter days, shall remember the covenant, and restore paradise to the earth, and the New Earth shall be made, and I will rest my glory thereupon.'
She left off reading, and sat down. This second reading did not require the act of humility in leaving the room.
They sat in silence for several moments, and the Rabbi spoke. 'May we all remember the cost of our salvation, and never again let the children of men find war as the solution to our problems.'
And Tina said, 'Amen.'
Burn: Cairo our Mother
Tina sat down and began reading. Parasha three of Genesis.
'The beginning of Sorrows fell upon mankind, thereafter, for Shiloh had not arisen, and Noah brought but temporary peace. Yet God was a God of compassion and concern, and in his immortal wisdom he began the work of salvation for man in earnest, through the choosing of the holy seed within the Noahide community, the chosen family of Togarmah. Togarmah was brave and fearles, and in battle it was said he shone the glory of God from his battle armour, and displayed his valour in the blood of those slain, those who had gone astray from the Hand of the Lord, and followed the treacheries of the serpent, and cast forth their hand in the seeking of ill-gotten gain, and in robbery and strife. From Togarmah the Lord chose Abstan, and Abstan begat Alfred, and Alfred begat Uther, and Uther begat Arthur. And in Arthur did God claim his chosen King. Arthur founded the holy land of 'Britanny' and in 'Camelot' he brought together the bravest Knights of the Land, and the Cleric Merlin, and it was Merlin who began the scribing of the Holy Word, and through his priestly tradition the Word was preserved amongst the Children of men, till this very day, with the 7 Bibles of God resonating the eternal wisdom of the Divine. Yet our work is not finished yet (sayeth I the scribe), for this is the Eighth Word, a new beginning, and herein we have prayed and called upon the Spirit Eternal for his guidance and anointing over this very text, in the same manner the ancient histories of men were recorded in the 7 Divine Words of God.
And history came, and history went, and Shiloh was born, from the line of Arthur, and Shiloh reigned in Britannya, and united the Tribes of Men, and the Counsel of the Holy was formed, and mankind was united in the Year of Creation 4580.
And Shiloh struggled with God and sought his will, and the Holy Temple of London was birthed, and mankind beheld the Glories of God. And then also in Rome was the second Temple built, and then in Cairo was the final Temple built, and the Counsel of the Holy has ruled through the Word ever since.'
The Rabbi smiled at her, and she sat.
'Cairo, our mother,' began the Rabbi,'was where the tribe of Joseph was born, son of Abraham. And through his 4 daughters, Joseph redeemed the 3 tribes of Abraham through struggle and service. For Joseph reigns supreme to this day in Egypt, and the tribe of Judah reigns in Canaan, and the tribe of Reuben reigns in Assyria. And from Cairo comes our guidance, the Seat of Joseph still Sovereign over Egypt till this very day. Let us remember, keep the faith my fellows. Keep it till time immemorial. For in deepest darkest Afryka, were the Sorrowful Ones still war against us, the Cosmic Gate they guard glows bright orange, as it has done this last century. We know, all of us, a time is coming when it will awaken, for such were the prophets of the Word certain, and we shall awaken the dead, and enter the gates, and surely it is heaven itself to where our destiny will be led. Surely it is heaven itself.'
And the Rabbi left off speaking, and the Congregation considered all that had been said.
Burn: Tina's Challenge
She looked at the track. 100 metres. The gun burst, and she ran. She ran, like the wind, and won. And then she woke.
She got up, went to the toilet, and came into the kitchen, poured some orange juice, grabbed a breakfast bar, and went out onto the porch, and looked out over Sydney City.
Broken Tarvar was still inside, in the bed, her lover. Her comforter. The Muslim man she had chosen as her own, the one who had been loyal to her since childhood. A good witness for Islam, despite some of the questionable tendencies that religion preached as of late. Almost as if they should be at war with the other monotheisms, a slight, almost, against the unity the Cousel of the Holy preached to the children of men. Strange - a passion in him, almost a zeal, she was not quite familiar with. But he loved her, and was passionate in bed. They probably should marry, and she felt somewhat guilty about their fornication, but usually brushed that aside. Hey, she was a modern woman, wasn't she? And the guidelines from the Counsel of the Holy were not always right, were they?
The city seemed alive, the traffic, the nearby gulls singing, the morning sun shining brightly through a sunshower. It sang to her of the glories of God and the beauty of creation, something she often revelled in. She felt good.
But something was on her mind. Something strange.
Broken had brought in an artefact, for he worked for the International Assocation of Myths and Wonders, as they were called, an unofficial sort of institution, which often believed very strange things about the world, this despite Broken's own proclaimed Muslim faith. The artefact was a globular piece of metal, with a dial, and what looked like symbols behind each dial, almost like an older telephone. And it looked like it was supposed to connect to something, but who knows what. She'd wondered where he had got it. It looked old - mysterious, and she had dreamed last night, in an earlier dream, about holding the artefact and, suddenly, she was on a green plain, and in a new world, almost, with strange cities and foreign peoples.
It was all very mysterious.
But she wouldn't dwell on the issue, for she had a challenge at hand at the moment. Training was to begin, now, for the next olympics, and her country needed her. To win again, to taste glory twice, was worth any sacrifice so, finishing her juice, she put on her trainers, kissed the sleeping Broken, and headed off, to run a few miles or so, and rise to the challenge, to rise to the glory.
A Shade of Glory: Atlantra's Chosen
Jason sat at the table.
'You should take your meds,' said the Nurse.
'I don't need them,' said Jason.
'Of course you need them. You still suffer hallucinations.'
'I DON'T suffer hallucinations, bitch. They are visions. I see the other side, ok. Angels. all sorts of things.'
'I suppose you think you are one of Atlantra's chosen. A biblical elect one, huh? All the Churches think that. All the Messianics. That they are the chosen ones to rule the universe. Nonsense and poppycott to me, Jason Stavros. Atlantra was not created by Elohim.'
'Then how did we get here?'
'God, I don't know. We must have always been, like they say. Just life, Jason. Just the living spirit which inhabits us all and everything. The evolution theory, perhaps. Or one of the other cosmologies. But God? Come on. God is for children. We live in an age of reason. Not fairytales.'
'No. I don't believe you. Give me my meds.'
The nurse handed Jason his meds, watched him take them, and went off to her other wards in the Mental ward.
Paul came up. 'Tell me about your visions, again.'
'Look, Saberton. I'm sick to death of your stories. About how your church are the chosen Message. Catholics retain the truth of the origin of Atlantra. I have always been and always will be faithful to Jesus. It is just the way it is, and your recent movements can not usurp our glory.'
'We don't try to, really. Ok. We move with the times. We progress into greater understandings of life. Believe me, we believe in Elohim as well, and his foremost teacher of love. I to claim descent from Adam and Eve, and that Atlantra did not evolve from the primal chaos. I mean, something must have begun our world.'
'Not according to the Science Council. Only reason may prevail. Sure, they argue deistic creationism is perhaps plausible, but they have no real faith in God. And they give us our meds, and expect us to conform to a life of reason and rationality, devoid of real spiritual faith.'
'I hear you brother. But I have visions also. I see angels, in my sleep, at night. Look, don't let that nurse get you down. She's only 21. Full of the wisdom of the young, and their liberalities. They don't like the rules of the Katara. The 700 Divine principles has long been abandoned by most universities. But the Message is faithful, just like the Catholics. We're trying even harder, though, to keep the faith in the ancient clerics of the Way. We even have some of the tablets of Moses, you know. They cost us dearly, seven centuries ago, but we purchased many dozen of them. We nearly have a full catalogue of the Divine Principles on them.'
'We have them all in Catholicism,' repsonded Jason proudly. 'But it is good the Message are faithful. I just don't like the bloody zealotry you guys go on with. It pisses the Science Council off, and we have a hard enough time keeping the faith without you guys bugging everyone.'
Paul shrugged. 'We're only human. Remember, Jesus taught that. We are only human. We shouldn't judge each other so harshly. Just live and let live.'
'If only the Science Council would,' said Jason, and put on his CD Walkman, put it to track 5 of the Album 'This Way' by Jewel, and zoned out, sitting in the dining room of the med ward, somewhere in America, in Atlantra, the heart of Creation.
The Guarded Moment: Jesus the Proto-Christ
being born in a manger, the son of Mary and Joseph, Jesus grew up and
was well known as a godfearing child of a holy Jewish family. Jesus
was strong in the Lord and loved his father Joseph and his mother
Mary with all his heart. He worked with his father as a Carpenter and
carefully learned all the ways of the trade. He was quick to pay
attention to even the most minor of details and would listen
faithfully as Joseph instructed him in the ways of Jewish living and
being holy towards God.
Jesus cried greatly when Joseph died, and when they were at the grave his mother Mary said 'Fear not, dear Jesus. For your father has gone to heaven to be with his heavenly father, the father of us all. Remember that dear son. God is your father, and he loves you greatly.'
'I will remember,' responded the boy Jesus.
As Jesus grew, he grew strong in the faith, and was full of courage. The Holy Spirit of God watched over him, instructing his mind and teaching him the proper ways of godly conduct and how to teach men the way of the Gospel of God. The Holy Spirit blazed in the young man Jesus' heart, and as he worked and grew everyone in Nazareth thought of him as a most special and gifted child of God. But there was something different about him. Something different his mother Mary noticed. He was special, was Jesus, as the Angel Gabriel had told her. He was special and had a gift - a gift for all men in Israel and, one day, to the ends of the world. And as he continued to grow in learning, wisdom and understanding, Mary knew she must share her son's message to be a Holy Mother to the world, to spread the message of God's beloved peacemakers, children of God, children of peace, bound together in bonds of love, and unity.
As he grew Jesus shared with his mother his dreams from what he had seen in the sacred scriptures. Dreams of forming a special community - a chosen community - one which would live forever, a sacred ecclesia of God - which throughout eternity would serve God in love and fidelity, knowing God loved them dearly and would forever be faithful to them. And Mary knew her son was wise and would share him in this vision, as she knew Joseph her husband would have, had he lived longer.
Jesus grew and soon, one day, he spoke with his mother.
'It is time, mother. The Day of the Lord is upon us and I must preach the Gospel. For God my father wishes this of me.'
And Mary nodded solemnly, gave her son her blessing, and sent him on his way.
And then she prayed this holy prayer.
'God of my fathers, God of my ancestors, I sing praise to your name. My dear son Jesus, descended from our champion King David, is truly a Son of David, a man after God's own heart. I thank you King of Eternity for the passion you have placed in my son's heart, and I ask you to keep your hand upon him all his days, until he has completed his sacred mission. Praise to you Lord God Almighty. I rejoice in your ways with quiet humility and grateful service. Alleluia.
And Jesus went off, and came to John. And was baptized. And the Holy Spirit of God alighted upon him and a voice from the heavenlies said 'This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.'
And immediately Jesus went to the desert, were the dark lord tested him, but Jesus came through this testing in his faith and the Gospel was preached.
One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them.
'God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs
God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted
God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied
God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy
God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God
God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs
God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted the same way.
And you must pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don't let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from all evil. For thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory, world without end, Amen.'
Jesus continued his teaching. 'Judge not, less you are likewise judged. For the standard you use in your judgement may very well be applied to yourself in the way God decides to judge you. So what if there is a problem with your brother, like a little speck in his eye. You probably have a log in your own eye, so at least remove the log before you try getting the speck out of your brother's eye.
Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.'
One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, 'Of all the commandments, which is the most important?'
Jesus replied, 'The most important commandment is this: 'Shema Israel, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Achud.' And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Secondly, you shall love your neighbour as yourself. These are the prime commandments.'
The teacher replied 'Well said Jesus of Nazareth. To love God with all of your being is the summation of our faith, so much more than just the sacrificial aspects.'
'You are not far from heaven,' Jesus responded to the teacher.
Jesus spoke to his disciples. 'There was a man, walking along a road, and he saw a man who had apparently been robbed, lying on the road, bleeding. He was a Pharisee this man, and looked at the bleeding man, but was too busy to help him so walked on. Later on a scribe came by, but was also just a little too busy to get involved, and passed on as well. Later that day, when it was starting to get cold and dark, a Samaritan came along, who the Pharisees and Scribes really don't approve of, looked at the man, and despite it being late and cold, troubled himself to put the man carefully on his donkey, take him to an inn, and pay for his healing. Now tell me, was it the Pharisee, scribe or Samaritan who did the right thing?'
Jesus spoke to his disciples. 'The younger son of a farmer wanted the good life, sick to death of work. He'd had enough, demanded his inheritance right there and then, and because the farmer loved his son, he gave him his share. The son went off, partied for quite a while, but ended up broke. He was working for a man, feeding the pigs, and eating very poorly, when he came to his senses. 'At home I'll get a better feed. I will ask for forgiveness. I have been an idiot, but hopefully dad will forgive me.' The son went home, and his father killed the fatted lamb in his son's honour. But the older brother, who had worked hard and not left, remaining faithful, complained. And then the father said to the older brother, 'I would have done so much for you as well, and more besides. But rejoice, for your brother was lost to the family, but is now found again.'
Jesus was chatting with Nicodemus one day.
'Why do your disciples call you the Son of God,' he asked Joseph's son.
Jesus replied 'Did not the prophet Malachi teach that we all have one God, the Father of us all?'
'Yes, yes he did,' responded Nicodemus.
'And did not Moses write in Exodus that Israel, as a people, are God's firstborn son?'
'Exodus 4:22 I believe,' responded the knowledgeable Nicodemus.
'So wherefore are the Pharisees so uppity in their defiance of a son of Israel who righteously claims his God-given inheritance? They and their holy Hashem. Does not scripture even degree God prefers to be called by his real name? Nay, the Pharisees distance the people from God and put him on a pedestal when he is all of ours loving heavenly father.'
'True,' responded Nicodemus.
'Yet I will say more than this. Are not the gentiles children of Noah, our father also, and is not the God of the Rainbow covenant also their God? For he is the heavenly father of all the children of men who seek his name and his glory. For a nation which does not know God shall drink new spiritual wine and likewise call upon the presence of the Almighty.'
And Nicodemus was amazed.
'Why do they call you Messiah?' Nicodemus asked Jesus.
'Have you read Jeremiah chapter 33?' asked Jesus in response.
'In younger years,' responded the member of the Sanhedrin.
'It is clear,' continued Jesus, that not just one King of Judah fulfilled the Messianic role. For after the prophet declares Zedekiah the Messiah, the one whose name means 'The LORD our righteousness', he reminds us that David shall never lack a man upon the throne. For their are many Messiahs, and the Governor of Judah, my ancestor Zerubbabel, likewise fulfilled the role of Isaiah 11. For did not God grant Zerubbabel his signet ring as Haggai reminds us. And did not the prophet Zechariah teach that Zerubbabel would prosper by the Spirit of the LORD? For God's anointing was verily upon him.'
'But why do they call you Messiah?' asked Nicodemus.
'Psalm 89 teaches us that David's house fell. For such was the warning from God to Solomon. And Zerubbabel could only aspire so high for his generation. Why should the son of Joseph think more highly of himself? For those who abase themselves shall be exalted and those who exalt themselves shall be abased. A son of David knows his own heart, and my Christhood is of love, for what more Glory can I seek than that?'
And Nicodemus considered his words.
'So, you know all things do you?' Peter asked Jesus cautiously.
'The Son of God is a revelation in and of himself. One day you may know what that means.'
'Why do you speak with Nicodemus in pBrittoriate, Rabbi?'
'A gentle heart has Nicodemus. And of the Sanhedrin he is. He is accustomed to special treatment.'
'Yet God respects no man?' queried Peter.
'And a wise heart knows when to go both with the grain...'
'And against it,' finished Peter.
'There will come a time my friend when the Sanhedrin will not always be so accommodating to the likes of us. Meekness is not unwise at the moment. A dark day approaches.'
'You say that. But what do you mean?'
'I have made it clear,' responded Jesus.
They continued on the road and they reached Emmaus. 'A place of retreat,' said Jesus softly, though Peter heard him.
Jesus turned to Peter. 'The church throughout the ages is special to me. Francis the First, who father speaks of, is the end of an era in many ways. The end of Christian zeal for the holy. By then the church has become what it will remain, and the liberties it allows it will allow and continue so and the strictness it maintains it will maintain and continue so. A prophet will teach an end of these High Priests with Francis.'
'Yet the line will go on?' asked Peter.
'Till the end of the age,' responded Jesus of Nazareth.
'How long will the church age last?' asked Peter.
'How long is a piece of string?' responded Jesus, a soft smile on his face.
'Very funny, master,' responded Peter.
'You are my first high priest in a very long line, Cephas. Upon your shoulders you must bear a nation.'
'Yet how will I carry them all?' asked Peter perplexed.
'You need not worry, for I will be carrying you.'
'Feed my lambs.'
And they spake not again that afternoon.
'Worship the Son of Man if ye must, for I know ye will,' and his disciples took that as approval. Later Peter spoke with Jesus in pBrittoriate. 'What did you mean? Who then should we worship?'
'The Son of Man came to worship God, not himself.'
'But who then should we worship?' asked Peter.
'Is it not Jehovah the Father of Glory,' said Jesus coldly, yet he fGemstoneade Peter to speak of the matter with the other disciples.
A little later Jesus shared a parable with his disciples. 'The Son of a grand and glorious king was sent by his father on a mission to spread his message of a kingdom of love far and wide. Yet the Son was so successful they received him as their Glory rather than the heart of love which had commisioned him. Tell me, who deserves the glory?'
And they talked among themselves and, as one, praised the son for his great success. Yet Jesus looked at Peter, who nodded softly in response.
'And you really believe yourself the Christ?' asked Nicodemus.
'Do you know better than I?' responded Jesus.
'We know who our Christ is. God shows him to us.'
'Then you are mistaken,' said Jesus.
'And for that we will likely suffer, I suppose,' responded Nicodemus.
Jesus said nothing.
In a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
'He knows. He has been told,' said one.
'Deep down, perhaps,' said Nicodemus.
'He has authorized his own death,' said another. 'His claims of Sonship climb in his followers every day. To divine ideas. He must be rebuked.'
Nicodemus remained silent.
The High Priest spoke, 'This Jesus of Nazareth is also a child of Israel. Yet none of us, Nicodemus, is exempt from our proper respect for the holy one upon high. Not even this Jesus of Nazareth.
And Nicodemus silently agreed.
After that Jesus preached many, many things for a while until the day came - the day he feared, but the day which would bring life to countless people. And, as he walked the stations of the cross, bearing the sins of the world, he remembered in his heart the love he had for those he had chosen and the price that needed to be paid for their salvation. And with courage and the last of his passion he reached the cross and was raised so that men might be forgiven.
3 days later something special happened. Jesus rose from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. And he was seen by men, and seen by his disciples, and seen by doubting Thomas, and taken into heaven at the ascension.
A while later, after Jesus had been taken up to heaven, Saul converted and became Paul. And writing to the Corinthian Church, he wrote:
'If I spoke with the tongues of an Angel, in all his glory, and thought myself splendid, what would it matter if I didn't really love people very much. If I was the ultimate prophetical voice, and expounded the word of God with so much wisdom that people were amazed at me, but didn't practice love towards my friends and fellows, what kind of person am I really? If I had 7 university degrees, with PhD's, but lacked intelligence in how I showed love to people, perhaps not even loving them at all, is my life really worth living? Love suffers long and is kind and patient. It is not arrogant or rude or unforgiving. And it does not think highly of itself, puffing itself up in pride. Love is the true voice of prophecy, it is the true word of God. And love, knowledge of love itself, is what is eternal. You see, prophetical preachers come and go, but love will last forever. All that knowledge was part of our learning, but love is the completion of our journey, giving us a fulfilment in life which makes it all worthwhile. When I was younger I behaved in childish ways, but growing up and growing in love I have learned to put these ways behind me. While I am young and naïve what I know is not complete, but when I love completely my knowledge will be perfect. Faith will last forever, and is a great virtue. Hope will endure for all time, and is a wonderful truth. But love is special, greater than even faith and hope, yes love is the greatest of all.'
Later still Mary had been faithfully teaching many, many souls about the salvation of Jesus. And God looked upon his faithful servant, his dear child who he loved with all his heart. And he spoke unto Mary saying 'Daughter of God. As Enoch and Elijah were brought unto heaven for their great faithfulness and service, you need not see death, for you are pure in my eyes, and have walked in great faith and service.' And so Mary was assumed to heaven in a blessed assumption, and the angels and saints rejoiced at her company.
The Guarded Moment: The Christhood of Paul
'Paul. Whyfore speak these words? Is not Jesus the Christ of our hearts and souls?'
'James. You know and I know him as your dear brother in the faith, but one Christ is not the veracity of the faith of Torah. I am of the tribe of Benjamin, and Benjamin also seeks the glory of the Everlasting Kingdom. For all the Saints of God are a Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation. So I beseech thee, as you have seen in my faultless conduct, and my authority and influence among all the Church, let us separate and build another New Beginning. Let the Christian Church of Paul, the Messiah of Benjamin be born, and we will grow bigger and stronger than the flock of Jesus of Nazareth, for I am a man of greater passion and greater commitment. And greater scholarly truth.'
'Yet you still fail with the philosophers of Grecia to gain one of their doctorates.'
'Bah, if I had 7 Phd's of all knowledge, and had not love, it gaineth me nothing. I will be love to you James. James my apostle.'
James made a decision, for he loved Paul even more than his very own flesh and blood brother Jesus. He bowed down to him. 'We will build Christianity anew, Paul Christ my saviour.'
'In the name of the Father, and I his son, and through the power of his Holy Spirit,' said Paul.
'Amen,' said James, as the Church, and soon 5 Apostles of Paul Christ was born, to change the world forever.
The Guarded Moment: Paul Christ our Saviour
David can go to hell. He kissed Amy again. I saw him. He did it in plain sight of all. Bastard. But I have to forgive him. I must, so the church says to me. Every day my pastor comes up to me and preaches the message of Paul Christ, the father of the Christian Church, our saviour, and quotes him and says to me:
'Love. It is beyond all mysteries of knowledge and understanding. With love we embrace all in its power of mercy and forgiveness. Love. It fills our universe, and God is this purest love, and we, his children, the church of his glory, show forth this love to all mankind, as we must, for so we where chosen.'
Remember, Rebecca, he tells me. We are an Apostolic Church of James the Apostle, and the 5 Apostles of Christ Paul are all in agreement in how we interpret and understand the message of our saviour, who died for us, decapitated in Rome, where his blood was spilled, almost as a sacrificial offering, to redeem us from Rome and Babylon, and preach the Gospel of Love, and redemption from sin.
And so I forgive David, and act like Apostle Peter, who spoke harsh words against Paul, but later repented, and acknowledged the truth of the words of the man who had taken him from Capernaum, and brought him to Shiloh, and made him High Priest of the Christian Church, head of the Apostles, and dedicated his life to his saviour, the teacher of the Gospel of Love.
Yes, I forgive David.
I don't want to, and he says he can't really be very faithful, but will love me forever.
It's just that I'm a jealous bitch, even though Paul's words rebuke me and remind me that love knows no envies or jealousies, and that in all the world of 'Terra', that each human must forgive.
For what kind of world would we have without the power of the greatest of the 7 virtues? What indeed.
Another Answer: Rebecca's Pride
'Jesus bar Jonah. Son of Jonah, the prophet of Israel and Jezebel, his wife of great virtue. Jesus, who stood in the heart of Nineveh, when the Medians invaded, and prayed for 7 days, with fasting and weeping, to the Lord God Almighty, that he would forgive Nineveh and once more show favour to Assyria, his chosen bride. Jesus, our Christ, our anointed one, who is the saviour of Assyria, and the blessed loved one of God Most High. And no matter what Judas Maccabeus, of scoundrel Israel may say, no matter what challenge that seed of the Serpent threw at our Lord and Saviour, Assyria remained the true seed of Adah the glorious Mother of Humanity, husband to Nimrod, the first man of the Earth. Jesus stood faithful, and interceded for God's chosen people, and God relented, and pardoned our people, and vanquished Judas and his hordes, when they came to invade and plunder, in the name of Baal, their Lord Supreme. And even Ashterah, that Jewish goddess who is no goddess, could not save them on that dismal day I tell you.'
Rebecca sat in the First Christian Church of Assyrian Pride, the South Canberra Chapter, and felt pride. Felt pride in her racial purity and glory, not sullied and corrupt like that devil seed Israel.
And she looked at Jacob, her son, who was 14. A proud Assyrian man of God, and her father, who had now forgiven her, and looked upon her with his former grace.
Robert stood by her side, and they were family. A family of God, a family of love, and they continued to preach the Katara Gospel of Salvation, the 777 Divine Decrees of Jesus bar Jonah, which their Church swore as the words of the Living God, and she would find her destiny in the hope of God on planet Arada.
Yet the Cosmic Gate of Creation glowed in bright orange these days, and they knew the time was short. An Avatar would soon appear, and summon them all to the great battle of 'Armadorius', where Jesus would appear, and vanquish the Antichrist of Israel, on the fields of Armadorius, for all knew the time was at hand.
'I love you Robert,' she said, her hand in his. And he comforted her, and they stood, listening to Pastor Johnson's sermon, and took pride, and took glory.
Fortune Favours the Brave: The Meaning of Cricket
Cricketalia was the nation, boldest of the 17 nations of Cricketing Power, on the planet 'Albatross'. Yet Douglas Jenkins worried about the minors. The 83 other nations, yet to qualify to the Major League of Cricketing Nations. For the 100 nations of Albatross were fashioned on the religion of Cricket, and in playing this game they paid homage and respect to the Grand old Lord of Cricket, Sir Douglas Jardine of 'Britannya', believed by many to be the son of the Living God. Even the great Challenger, Bradman the Atrocius, paid him this courtesy, for how could an average of 87 ever equal the majesty of 666, a batting average beyond the comprehension of mortal men, which Sir Douglas maintained and finished with at the triumph of his lengthy career.
Frenchbrook claimed Douglas often, but he had been born in Indiastan, and really felt part of the Brittanic Empire because of it. But Oztralia had hosted Douglas during many of his First Class matches for Frenchbrook, and idolized him practically as one of their own.
Douglas believed, these days, that at the end of the First Cricketing Age, a new sport would arise, as had been prophesied, supposedly called 'Rugby', but that was not important. For now he would continue his rise up the cricketing charts, and relish each day his nobility in the house of Jenkins for being given the grace to play 'The Game they Play in Heaven.'
Upon the Sea of Frozen Nightmares and Unending Dreams of the Dark: To defeat the Power of Satan
'In Gildara, it is said, that a man lives forever who knows the truths of our world, and how it came to be. That the living God Jehovah fashioned all things, but then wrapped himself up in an entirely unfathomable mystery, and let loose his son Satan to lordship over the world, and to rule 'Cosmologica' in power and authority. Yet Satan rebelled and turned to the darkness, and Cosmologica fell upon hard times. Satan died in time, and we teach he rules in hell, as all know, yet Asmodeus succeeded his rule and Carkassion succeeded Asmodeus. They were the Triumvirate of Darkness, which held sway over the imaginations of the ancient world, from which hope had long perished, and only cruel materialism and cold economy could hope to triumph. Yet Gandel of Gildara spoke the words of his ministry, and life slowly found restoration in Cosmologica, and the unending seed of humanity, the trillions first and then the quadrillions, gradually found its peace, and gradually, holding to the text of the Bagvadius Gitra Gildara, the inspired words of Gandel, overcame the ancient terrors the Triumvirate had held over the children of men. Yet God has remained hidden, and while what we know of today in the writings never claims divine inspiration, it is believed, in Gildara, that a man who has lived forever holds the Hidden Text of Creation, which Gandel supposedly received in his last year, at the hands of God Most High. Ye must seek this text, my son, for as I enter my final years I know of rumblings and rumours from many sources, which say Cosmologica is heading towards an encounter, at the end of this universe, where destinies of worlds shall intertwine, and a grand war shall take place, the Culmination of things, all here on Cosmologica, where final ultimate salvation shall surely be seen. Yet we shall never be prepared, and we shall never know the invocations of truth required to call upon the hidden name of God, to prepare for the ultimate day of the Lord, in which all universes and all realities shall merge, and find the ultimate meaning of everything, lest ye my child, child of my own flesh, suceed in your quest, and gain the knowledge all of the Clerics of Cosmologica must possess for the final, fateful, days.'
'What is the Leetharck Obsidian?' queried Journtil the Brave.
'Don't speak that name,' said the Black Witch. 'You risk not its wrath.'
'But what is it?' insisted Journtil.
'For every Ying there is a Yang. For every truth there is a lie. For every good there is a bad. The Leetharck is wise beyond fathoming, but his opposite is to be dreaded. Seek not its counsel, for it will be your undoing.'
'Where does it dwell?' queried Journtil.
The Black Witch glared at him, and put some frogs legs into her cauldron. 'Journtil. You have always been brave. That I question not. But are ye wise or foolish?'
'Bah, hag. I know no fear.'
'Gloryandeas bravest, are ye? The Dark Ones are kept at bay by the Leetharck. This I know to be true. Yet the Obsidian beast which rules them waits. It waits every aeon, and sends its host, and the Leetharck defeats them, and Gloryandea remains saved. Yet this information cost me greatly, to retain such knowledge the Leetharck does not allow, for he knows we fear. It cost me - much,' she said, misty eyed, glaring out beyond her cave, out into the Perilous Mountains. 'Speak not of the Obsidian one, for ye risk his awareness. When he is contemplated greatly, Gloryandea suffers, and the attacks come again.'
'We never suffer,' spoke Journtil bravely.
'We have known wars and famines before, foolish knight of Sha'Dar. The Dark Spirit enters at will and, should you ever become its servant, I do not know what will become of it.'
'Bah. The Leetharck protects us.'
'He is old. And I fear his days are numbered,' said the witch, stirring the potion. 'And his egg in his belly is not yet ready to be born.'
'A male giving birth. It is the story of fantasy.'
'He is only male in our attributions. He is neither, really. Male or female. He is a being of eternity, and there have been others before him. This I know.'
'One day we shall challenge the Dark Ones. We already have knowledge of the cosmic gates. They are at the edge - the Rim of the World. In each of the 4 corners. I have heard them spoken of, and it must be true. There are worlds beyond ours - a multiverse of them. And the Cosmic gates are our way of travelling beyond.'
'You speak as a child,' said the witch.
'You are old, Mildred,' said Journtil. 'You live in a fantasy were only the Leetharck is our saviour. One day we shall grow beyond the myths of fairey. One day Gloryandea shall know all.'
'And you shall Champion them, I take it,' said the witch, a grin on her face.
'And I shall defeat this Leetharck Obsidian,' said the brave Journtil.
'Humph,' said the witch, and stirred her potion.
There were 2 of them. Not 3, that would have been confusing. The cop was sure there was only 2 of them. But it was said there were 3. He consulted the photograph, and looked again. Yep. He had 2 testicles. Why did they say he had 3?
His sergeant explained. 'Your a tough cop. You've got a lot of balls.'
That seemed to sum it up.
“Stars of the Morning”
Deep and strange. Almost weird, but, perhaps not. But deep and strange was working for him. Elohim was puzzling. What to do, what to do. A child – that was what he desired. The word he had formulated many times, and now desired to see it see fruition – to see it be realized in a most real sense. And he had a name. A name for the one who would be his firstborn child and son – the one who would shepherd his flock to come, the children of Israel. And that name was Gabriel.
But Michael was his firstborn as well. He had decided on that quite firmly. And in that decision, he saw possibilities. Possibilities of realms – yet again alternative realms – in which his dreams, desires and ambitions could be realized.
* * * * *
And much time passed, and histories of realms came and went. And God thought on what had come to pass:…….
The Realm of Infinity had not worked out quite as he had wanted it. So many of his children within that realm were stubborn, defiant almost, not easily malleable and so proud of their status as children of God. But the children of the Realm of Eternity had proven far more decent and faithful in relation to holiness and love. It would seem his fourth work, which had been the first planned, had come to represent the best of his works.
But God knew what his heart was and had to be impartial. He needed to show each of his children that he cared deeply for all of them and, although he perhaps in his heart did favour some more than others, he would treat them with equality and show each of them his grace, kindness and love. They were all special to him, all dear to him. His first created flock – the children of heaven – were the most eccentric, for want of a better word, than the later offspring. They were unusual and different which, although seeing the beauty in simplicity of his latter children of the third realm, did in their way stand out and appeal to his heart. The children of Infinity were far more harmonious than the children of heaven, and the children of Eternity were so polished and perfect and he adored being with them because of it. But his own special children – the last planned but the firstbegotten – they were so, in a way, alive in a way the others weren’t. They were expressive, passionate, fantastically good (some of them), and the epitome of evil at their darkest.
However, the children of Eternity – the third flock - were to be given a blessing. Each of the Seraphim in turn would gain a realm in which their spirit would manifest in a new angelic form, were each in turn would be firstborn. In that realm they would have the position of authority and their own influence would decide the administration of their realm. Firstly the 70 male Seraphim would have the position of authority. But, after that, the 70 female Seraphim would have the ascendancy. The male, after his characteristics, had been his first planned, but he had always realized that a companion – a twin – of sorts would be a very appropriate idea. However, because the males were planned first, they would receive the glory first. But he wanted his daughters to know that they were in deed special to him and that he wanted them to likewise express their views and hearts.
And so, as he had done previously, God continued to plan.
Chapter the Firste
Deep and – well, whatever else, not quite strange – was how Gabriel felt. He sat there on the white floor of marble (not actually knowing what a white floor of marble was, not yet anyway, but, as one could assume, he eventually would come to know as) thinking very deeply. He knew his name – it was Gabriel. He did not (as with the prior notion relating to marble floors) quite yet know what a name was, but he sensed in his thoughts that Gabriel was what he was – was who he was.
He sat there, in those beginning and formative moments of his life, thinking on his name. He looked around. The marble floor extended, as it did appear to, in every direction, seemingly endlessly so. Where was he? Why was he here? How had he come to be? He puzzled on these thoughts, thinking deeply, quite and oh so deeply.
‘Gabriel, isn’t it?’ Gabriel reacted, shocked at the voice which appeared to come from behind him. He had been sitting there (one hour in our time, but young Gabriel did not yet know how to measure time) for he knew not how long. But for some time. And then the voice. He turned to look.
Before him stood a being which looked quite similar to himself. The being spoke, ‘Well, Gabriel. I am Raphael. I am the firstborn of the Seraphim. You are the firstborn, though, of God’s children. You preceded me by 21 minutes, according to God’s time, of which he informed me. At 40 minutes, my younger brother, the second of the Seraphim, young Uriel was born. Uriel lies about 5 minutes walk from here. It is in that direction. Raphael pointed back in the direction he had apparently come from, Gabriel following his gaze. He could not see any other being, though. Raphael spoke. God asked me to come and get you to bring you to Uriel. In 10 minutes from now, at the 70th minute, we will be gaining another Seraphim, our newest brother, who will be called ‘Saruviel’. A thought came to Gabriel, and he spoke his first words. ‘How many Seraphim will there be?’. Raphael smiled. ‘Father said there would be 70 male Seraphim, followed then by your younger brother. His name is to be Michael. And after him, our first sister, Aquariel, is to be born. Following her, 70 female Seraphim, and then our second sister, Elenniel is to be born.
Gabriel nodded at those words. ‘Aquariel?’ he asked. ‘When will she be born?’ ‘Not for a while, Gabriel. Not for a while. Come, Uriel is waiting for us.’ Gabriel got to his feet and followed Raphael as he led the way off.
5 minutes later (although time being still not knowable in measurement to our friend Gabriel) they passed through a white cloud and came to a large, lush meadow of green, which went off well into the distance. All around were trees, shrubs, animals of various kinds, ponds, a river in the distance and various rocks jutting out from the ground. Raphael led the way just around a bend ahead of them, and sitting on a rock eating an apple was (so Gabriel presumed) his younger brother Uriel.
Gabriel smiled at him. ‘Hello Uriel. Are you feeling good?’ ‘Very interesting question, Gabriel,’ Uriel replied. ‘This fruit is very tasty. My body is reacting to it in a most positive and delightful manner. I am most grateful to our Father for allowing me to partake of and experience this fruit. ‘What is it called?’ asked Gabriel.
‘‘It is an apple,’ replied Uriel. Uriel pointed to the landscape around them. ‘All of this, Gabriel, is Paradise. Very shortly, at the 70th minute, our new brother Saruviel will be born. Father has shared briefly with me that he, of all our brethren to come, has a most special and unique destiny with God most high. He is the Father’s favourite child of whom he will bring forth. You Gabriel, he loves the most, as he will always do so, and will do anything for you. But Saruviel is his heart’s delight – the one he favours. It is love – but in a different way, a unique way. For Saruviel God will do great things, and bless this child of his with eternal grace, peace, mercy and love. For Saruviel is his favoured one. The horn of his glory. The bright child of darkness and power – the doomsayer, the devil himself, and all things preposterous and what perhaps, just perhaps, should not be. Saruviel is the chosen one. The child of destiny. The one to whom Glory shall come.’
Gabriel nodded. ‘But I, well I am his firstborn. That is the truth, isn’t it?’ Uriel looked at him and gave the tiniest of chuckles. ‘Well, apparently that is the case. Apparently that is the case,’ he repeated with a strange, oh so strange, emphasis. Raphael looked at Uriel and said, ‘Uriel – do not torment the lad. You know such things are just not right to put upon him at such a young age.’ Uriel nodded obediently to his older brother’s comment, but responded with his own thoughts. ‘Better sooner than later, Raphael. Better sooner than later.’ Gabriel looked at both of them, totally bewildered at such cryptic language.
‘Well thanks a bloody lot for the welcome you guys gave me, ya schmucks.’ Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel turned to the voice that had just spoken. Standing before them was a being (what we will term an Angel, specifically a Seraphim) dressed in long black robes, wings extended. Uriel spoke, ‘Saruviel, I presume?’ ‘Yes Uriel. As you should have known.’ Saruviel turned to Gabriel. ‘So you are Gabriel, huh?’ Gabriel politely nodded. ‘Yeah, I remember you,’ replied Saruviel. Gabriel was not quite sure what to make of such a comment. Raphael looked sternly at Saruviel. ‘Not appropriate, Saruviel. Most definitely not appropriate. Leave that alone. It is not to be discussed until the latter times, as you should well know.’ ‘Fine, Raph. Have it your way, then.’ Gabriel again was totally bewildered at all the cryptic conversations going on between his younger brothers. It was as if they knew something to which he simply was not a party too.
‘Hey, Daraqel’s next, isn’t he?’
Uriel looked at Saruviel and sighed. ‘Yes, Saruviel,’ he groaned. ‘Daraqel is next.’
‘Yeah, here I am.’ The angels looked upwards, towards a branch of the tree near them. Sitting on the branch was another of the Seraphim, presumably the Daraqel which Saruviel mentioned. Gabriel smiled at him and spoke, ‘Are you Daraqel?’
‘That’s right Gab, well spotted. Bright as ever, I see.’
Raphael looked at Uriel and sighed. ‘All of that flock will do this won’t they. They’ll all have a go at him. It’s just not nice. They should have learned their lessons by now, for sure.’
‘Diehards, they are, dear brother. Some angels just don’t change.’ Raphael nodded, knowingly.
Gabriel decided to take charge. He spoke, ‘Raphael, Uriel, Saruviel and Daraqel. You are the 4 firstborn of the Seraphim. Who are the next three? The number seven is the one I favour. The next three are fundamental to that.’ The four angels looked at him and then at each other. Uriel eventually spoke. ‘Well, if you must know, tomorrow those three will be born. Their names are Jerahmeel, Phanuel and Raguel, in that order of birth.’ Gabriel nodded. ‘Alright. The 7 Sovereign angels are Raphael, Uriel, Saruviel, Daraqel, Jerahmeel, Phanuel and Raguel.’
‘Sovereign Angels?’ queried Saruviel? ‘What do you mean by that?’
‘A title for now, Saruviel. Each grouping of seven angels will have a title for their group. The 10 groups are, the Sovereign Angels, the Celestial Angels, The Guardian Angels, The Angels of Triumph, The Angels of Power, The Angels of Law, The Primary Angels, The Secondary Angels, The Tertiary Angels and, finally, the United Angels.’
‘What about the women?’ asked Saruviel? ‘Yes, they will be The Angels of Mercy, The Angels of Kindness, The Angels of Compassion, The Angels of Faith, The Angels of Hope, The Angels of Love, The Angels of God, The Angels of the Covenant, The Eternal Angels and, finally, the Divided Angels.’
Saruviel looked at him. Eventually he spoke. ‘Yes, I see. That should prove interesting. Most interesting.’
Gabriel looked at him – quite directly – yes, it should, dear Saruviel. Indeed it should.’
* * * * *
The Saruvim of Infinity were the seventh group of six angels created in Infinity. They were the ‘Coloured’ angels.
In birth order they were Azazel the purple Angel, Urakiba the blue Angel, Ramiel the Green Angel, Semyaza the Yellow angel, Armaros the Orange angel and, finally, Satan the Red Angel.
There were 10 groups of 6 angels created in the Second Realm of Infinity. In order of birth the groups came the Onaphim first of all, followed then by the Oraphim, the Ozraphim, the Seraphim, the Cherubim, the Ketravim, the Saruvim, the Abraphim, the Noahphim and, finally, the Cimbrphim. The Onaphim were male, the Oraphim female, the Ozraphim male, the Seraphim female, the Cherubim male, the Ketravim female, the Saruvim male, the Abraphim female, the Noahphim male and, finally, the Cimbrphim were female. All in all 60 angels, 30 male and 30 female, all living together in Azion the Golden City of the Realm of Infinity.
The names of all the angels were in rank of birth:
Onaphim: 1) Samael 2) Dolphyel 3) Garanel 4) Abriel 5) Jandonel 6) Kuriel
Oraphim: 1) Aphrayel 2) Elendayel 3) Shandalel 4) Shantriel 5) Elsabel 6) Kwintakel
Ozraphim: 1) Sandalphon 2) Romnaraphon 3) Aclyophenes 4) Dramdonduriel 5) Hazdragius 6) Mallintor
Seraphim: 1) Michelle 2) Gabrielle 3) Raphaella 4) Urielle 5) Raguella 6) Phanuella
Cherubim: 1) Totambimberiel 2) Dramdonduriel 3) Xaddadaxx 4) Atros 5) Diznak 6) Kodrium
Ketravim: 1) Shirlie 2) Beyonce 3) Veronica 4) Lucy 5) Janet 6) Esthelle
Saruvim: 1) Azazel 2) Urakiba 3) Ramiel 4) Semyaza 5) Armaros 6) Satan
Abraphim: 1) Eve 2) Adah 3) Leah 4) Nammah 5) Titea 6) Milcah
Noaphim: 1) Noah 2) Shem 3)Ham 4)Japeth 5)Canaan 6)Elihu
Cimbrphim: 1)Shemrael 2)Janelle 3) Oshanel 4)Meludiel 5)Aquariel 6)Nimorel
They were the names of all the Angels of the Second Realm of Infinity.
Samael generally ran the show, teaching each of the angels of Infinity responsibility and lawfulness as it taught in the Angelic Torah of Commands – the Holy Torah with 20 specific commandments for the Angels to live by. In the first command, which ran for three paragraphs, Samael was given the responsibility for watching over all the Realm of Infinity and the holy angels who lived there. But his greatest worry, what kept him up at night, were the coloured angels. The Angels, or devils as he often called them, who were steadily becoming increasingly rebellious.
Satan, who was lastborn of the 6 Saruvim, gradually became head of the coloured angels. And over the millennia the term ‘Bad Boy’s’ came to be attributed to this particular group of angels.
But all in all, the angels were happy enough with their lot in life until one fateful day someone appeared in the Realm of Infinity. Someone who said he came from the heavens and called himself ‘Jesus the Christ’. Samael inquired in the throneroom of Azion to God as to were this particular ‘Christ’ had come from, to which God had replied ‘HE IS THE CHOSEN ONE, IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED. LISTEN TO HIM’. And that was all he said.
From then on Jesus Christ generally ruled in the Realm of Infinity until the creation of the lower realm of Nadrazon with the founding of the Silver City. And then came the creation of the Legions of the Angels of Heaven, with a grand and great hierarchy designed by Jesus the Christ. And into this new world the Coloured Angels, led by Satan, began his most ambitious work of all: Conquest of the universe;
* * * * *
Metatron sat in home, looking at the portal, in conversation with Logos. Logos had been instructing him that Jesus the Christ was under his authority and power, and was working in the Realm of Infinity to bring Glory to God. Memra, Logos twin, backed up Logos confidently, although Metatron had questions as to wether Jesus had truly taken the feelings of all the angels of Infinity into account when he had started ordering them around. All Logos would say was that ‘Whatever would be would be’ and that in time all things would be understood. So Metatron simply trusted him, assuming he knew what he was doing.
* * * * *
Gabriel of the Second Realm of Eternity sat, lost in thought. He was contemplating the future and the plans and designs of God. God had been in his heart and mind when he had named all the groups of angels, the last of which, young Peladiel, Penoniel’s twin, seventhborn of the 7 divided angels had just been born. It had been the spirit of the Almighty – the eternal wisdom of the creator of all realities – which had been upon him, in his heart, in his spirit, uttering what would be. And Gabriel had sensed that while he himself seemed to be thinking upon and uttering those words he somehow knew they were not completely his own. But no matter. Those words had come to pass and now, the Angels living in the Garden, they awaited the final two – the two secondborn children of God – Michael and Elenniel.
Gabriel had already begun making plans. He had spoken to Raphael, Uriel, Saruviel and Daraqel about the need for a home. While resting in eternity’s twilight embrace was always soothing and calming, he felt what he instinctively called a ‘Building’ would be the best of things for them to get to and build. But they would await Michael and Elenniel before beginning their task.
God had spoken to Gabriel’s heart letting him know Michael would soon be born, coming from heaven above as a flaming fire to the centre of the Garden, shortly followed by Elenniel. It was a few days away yet, and Gabriel was impatient. But, in the meantime he sat contemplating God, life and all the things of life of the Realm of Eternity, his blessed home.
The Angels had all flown around the realm by now and it was roughly circular in shape, going out to what they called ‘The Rim’. The realm was a wonderful place to live the angels all testified to Gabriel about and they were all so thankful God had created them to live in this wonderful paradise. Gabriel, too, silently thanked God for his wonderful new home and had himself explored a great deal of it.
There were wonderful mountains and hills, valleys and ravines, trees and bushes of all sorts, beautiful flowers and a vast array of animal life. There were also beautiful rivers and lakes, snow on top of some of the mountains, and even a few glaciers. It amazed all the angels that they somehow, instinctively, had words for all of these creations of God and they each of them marvelled at each new creation they encountered. And now they awaited Michael and Elenniel for their fellowship to be complete.
* * * * *
Time passed in the Realm of Infinity and, as the years came and went, Satan continued his work. His ambition was to rule the universe and slowly and gradually, through his persuasive charisma of offering each angel who swore allegiance to him absolute freedom should their cause be successful, Satan gradually won angels to his cause. And, in the 1000th year of the Second Realm of Infinity, Satan had tempted approximately 3500 angels to his cause of the 10,000 angels of Infinity, but had great difficulty in trying to win any more than that.
Jesus the Christ was not worried. Not worried in any way. He had faith in God and spoke to those who remained faithful on the nature of faith and destiny and that, in time, the purposes of God would reveal all things. The faithful took him at his word.
And then came the rebellion: The fateful day in which Satan lead the coloured Devil’s and the host of darkness against the power of Jesus the Christ, and the war was furious. Yet, Satan lost, and the angels of darkness were cast to the netherworld, were they wept in bitterness over their defeat. And Satan brooded. Long and hard did Satan brood, in his heart swearing vengeance on Jesus the Christ and God his eternal father.
* * * * *
Matthew and Dorothy of the children of Heaven of the spiritual universe of the second realms were sitting in Azaphon keep, playing chess, talking about the Angels of the Realm of Infinity and the Angels of the Realm of Eternity. Matthew and Dorothy were twins, equal in birth rank amongst the 70 children of heaven.
‘I like Samael, you know,’ began Dorothy. ‘He is really interesting. I have prayed for him a lot and asked Father to bless him. He is really a nice angel, these days.’
‘I know what you are saying,’ responded Matthew. ‘I think Jesus sudden appearance in Infinity must have confused him a lot, probably thinking he had all the answers worked out in life. But, really. When do we ever have all the answers, hey sister.’
‘It is a mystery, bro. A great mystery. God works in mysterious ways, often beyond our own fathoming and understanding. He is an eternal being, is father, and contemplates things simply beyond us which we will never understand as we can never reach the end of infinity or eternity.’
‘Too true, sis. Too true.’ Matthew made a move.
‘That is check.’
Dorothy studied Matthew’s move and smiled. Her twin was definitely improving at this game.
‘I also really love Gabriel of Eternity. He is wonderful. A truly wonderful angel.’
‘How do you think he will react to Michael tomorrow,’ Matthew asked.
‘I am not sure,’ responded Dorothy. She did remember, like Matthew did, of Michael from the loins or heart of God. He was a wonderful holy child of God who loved tremendously and when the children of God came forth from the heart of God to Heaven she found herself instinctively missing that lovely child of God.
‘I am sure Gabriel will love him. He might even remember him.’
‘Perhaps. I have only vague memories of Gabriel from our time in God’s heart. But, like Michael, he was a very holy and loving child of God. They should get along like a house on fire sis.’
‘Let’s hope so.’
Chapter the Seconde
‘Michael. It is a great and most distinct pleasure to meet my younger brother. How fare you?’
Michael, secondborn of the children of God of the Second Realm of Eternity smiled warmly at his older brother Gabriel’s words of welcome. He remembered Gabriel from the heart of God and was happy to meet him again. ‘I am very well dear brother. And this is Elenniel.’
Just then Michael’s twin sister came from behind Michael and smiled warmly at Gabriel. ‘We now await Aquariel, your twin, who should be with us shortly,’ said Elenniel.
Later on that afternoon, sitting by the Terravon river watching the other angels at play, Gabriel was relaxing in the company of Michael and Elenniel, the secondborn children of God. Just then a voice hailed them.
‘Fair children. Greetings in the name of God the eternal Father.’
Gabriel turned to see a blonde child of God approaching, robed in garments of light yellow and white, truly beautiful to behold.
‘Aquariel?’ queried Elenniel.
‘Yes, it is I.’ Aquariel came up to Gabriel, stood in front of him, and gently leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek.
‘Greetings, fair brother Gabriel.’
‘Greetings sister Aquariel,’ replied Gabriel.
The four of them and the other angels frolicked for the whole afternoon, enjoying the pleasures of Zaphora, the Realm of Eternity. Gabriel smiled a lot that day, especially at his beautiful sister Aquariel, ever so glad God had brought such a delightful child into existence. His father was truly wise, he felt. Truly wise.
* * * * *
‘Yes, Satan. We will always remain loyal. You should know that,’ replied Ramiel to Satan’s current line of questioning.
‘Well you better. If any of you coloured devil’s ever bloody betray the faith…. Well all I can say is watch out. You will be sorry you were born.’
The other coloured devil’s nodded, used to such threats from their leader.
The six-pack was in a bar in Nadrazon, having been released from the Netherworld just a few years earlier, steadily consuming beer and discussing future plans. They were, in some ways, at an impasse. The congregation of the Angels of Infinity were divided, now, but as Jesus Christ and his lackey Samael held the upper hand, Satan and the coloured devil’s were carefully considering their next move. Satan had been toying with the idea of attempting to subtley and carefully win Samael to their agenda. With the firstborn of Angelicdom in their league they could gradually and more confidently win the rest of the angelic community. But Samael was stubborn, and winning him so far had proved impossible. It seemed to Satan that while Samael did not totally agree with Jesus Christ, he did not agree wholeheartedly with Satan’s position either. Almost a central line did their oldest brother chart out for himself, to keep the peace with both sides.
Jesus, though, did not really worry himself about Satan anymore. He had the upper hand, with the numbers, and he knew it. Satan would never be any more problematic than that. If it came to conflict, Jesus knew he would emerge victorious. Of that he had little doubts.
And Satan knew that reality as well. And so persuasion and even deception and delusion were thus acceptable tactics to achieve his overall goal of world dominion.
He polished of his beer and turned to Ramiel. ‘I know how Jesus thinks, you know. He is into tradition. Long traditions. I have noticed that for a while now. And he likes fidelity to a task. He admires that, you know. So this is the plan. We take more seriously the new council which is developing and ensure our positions on that council. I don’t think he will deny us that.’
‘And then what?’ queried Ramiel.
‘And then we sit pretty and wait. Perhaps a few thousand years if necessary. But we strike one day. One day, when he doesn’t expect it, we make our move and take control of the Realm.’
‘How?’ asked Ramiel.
‘You will see,’ responded Satan. ‘You will see.’
Ramiel nodded. He expected something devious from Satan but, of course, he would have to patient to find out just what exactly his younger devil of a brother had in mind. But knowing Satan it would be malicious. You could almost certainly guarantee that.
* * * * *
Metatron sat looking at the latest move God his father, who appeared from time to time in Home as an old man, had made in the game of Chess going on between them. The game had been progressing for a few months now, but God had the upper hand, which was not really surprising. Still Metatron felt that if he pushed himself to the limit he could challenge the old man. Apparently, so God told him in his manifestation, he was playing fair with Metatron and had great skills but Metatron, if he pushed, should be able to challenge himself. In his theophany he was limited, so he told his son Metatron from time to time. And so, because of this, Metatron was pushing at this game of chess, hopeful to achieve his first victory over his eternal father.
He took a sip of beer and looked at the oven. 15 minutes to go until the chicken pie was cooked. Memra had put it on for lunch and Metatron, as usual, was starving. Home had chickens and other animals which wandered around here and there, never straying to far from the old barnhouse of home. Home itself was the superior realm, or the topmost realm of the Second Universal Realm. Below Home was Heaven, were the children of Heaven resided and below them was the Realm of Infinity. Below that was the Realm of Eternity and below that was planned the Realm of Paradise.
God, so he told Metatron, had planned out these realms long ago and they were to be the home for all his children and angelic children. But of course, human beings would come later on ‘Terra’ and that is were his children would all meet up in their eternal destiny of life.
The bottom realm, Paradise, was where Angela, ruler of Paradise, and Metatron’s twin would be born. Metatron looked forward to one day meeting his twin, anxious to express the love of his heart on a female form in the same way Logos and Memra interacted. But God told him he would have to be patient, which Metatron did his best to achieve.
Memra walked in and checked the oven, noting the time. ‘Well, if you are hungry Met, it should be about ready. I put the timer on for extra time just to tease you.’
‘It’s ready is it,’ yelled Logos from the living room, his head soon appearing. Shortly after God walked in and sat down at the table.
They enjoyed their meal, the chicken pie cut into four even pieces, with orange juice and a salad on the side. Metatron was thankful each and every day for his daily bread, and at night praised God for his generosity and kindness. Life was quite good Metatron often thought to himself and living at home was a special experience. But it would be good to meet his consort he silently thought to himself.
* * * * *
‘So what is the role of the Sovereign Angels,’ Michael asked his brother Gabriel.
‘They are the rulers, as you should have surmised. For all the host of heavenly angels which I sense God will bring forth one day, they are to be the Sovereign Angels of rulership. For Raphael, Uriel, Saruviel, Daraqel, Jerahmeel, Phanuel and Raguel, rulership has been delivered to them. They are the chosen ones, in this sense, to maintain absolute order in the Realm of Eternity.’
‘As you wish,’ responded Michael. ‘And the roles for the Celestial Angels and so on?’ he further queried.
‘All the roles will become apparent in time. For now that issue is not important for we have a task to get to, dear brother Michael. A most important and pressing task.’
‘And what is that exactly?’ asked Michael.
‘The building of our home. The building of Zaphon.’
Michael nodded. He sensed this was coming from what Gabriel had spoken of before. They were to have a home, and it was up to Gabriel to bring forth the wisdom of God in how that home was to be constructed.
‘How do we build it?’ asked Michael.
‘I have already asked Father about that to give his advice and he has told me that he has endowed the Angel’s of the community with special instinctive knowledge, much akin to the way we speak, to be able to work together and build our home. Once we begin, it will unfold naturally. We simply need to trust God and have faith.’
‘I am sure you are right,’ responded Michael. ‘The question is, when do we begin?’
‘Well,’ said Gabriel, looking at the angels spread about in the Garden in front of him. ‘No time like the present.’
Gabriel, with Michael’s assistance, gathered all the angels of the second realm of eternity to his presence, and talked to them of the plan to now build Zaphon. And then they all began sharing ideas of tools they could build and things they could make to go into the home, all of this instinctively as if it were some sort of deep pattern within their makeup as angels. Gabriel smiled, pleased with all the ideas and suggestions that came forth.
‘This is wonderful, brethren. Truly wonderful. We will have a new home in no time and our lives will be all the more enriched. Praise God for his goodness. Praise God.’ And all the angels rejoiced.
* * * * *
Matthew and Dorothy were sitting in the lounge of Azaphon keep, when Samael their brother came up to say hello.
‘How fare ye, Dot?’
‘Well enough, Sammy.’
‘And you, Mat?
‘Oh, you know. Same as always.’
‘Tis Good.’ Samael stared at the two of them for a few moments and then decided to speak his thoughts.
‘Do you want to go down then? Visit them? I mean we have silently observed for ages now. Why don’t we go down and have a sticky beak at these Realms of wonder for ourselves.’
‘Oh gosh. We can’t do that Samael. Father would never permit. He allows us children of Heaven to watch the Angels of Infinity and Eternity, but ghosts. We can’t go and visit them,’ said Dorothy.
‘But why not,’ persisted Samael. ‘Besides, we don’t always have to do what father wants, do we.’
‘You sound just like Satan of Infinity. And you have seen for yourself just how much trouble he is,’ responded Dorothy
‘Yes, I know dear sister. But let us go down anyway. It will be fun.’
He pushed them solidly for an hour until, finally giving up, Matthew and Dorothy agreed to accompany Satan for their first visit to the Realm of Infinity.
‘We will leave in the morning, ok. It should be a wonderful day.’
‘And how exactly do you plan on getting us there?’
‘You will see,’ responded Samael. ‘You will see.’
‘Mmm,’ responded Dorothy, most anxious to see her brother’s plan.
* * * * *
Jesus sat in his room in the temple of Azion in Golden City, of the upper Realm of Infinity. Recently the fallen angels had been returned to life in the Realm of Infinity, redeemed from the Netherworld, and Jesus was contemplating just how he would now handle them. Hopefully, which his father had assured him was true to a degree, they had repented of their past misdirections. Satan worried him – he was a headstrong and determined angel, always wanting his way. And while that was not necessarily a bad things when intentions were good, Jesus worried that Satan’s intentions were, in fact, not exactly that. In fact, although he felt often judgemental in saying as much, he felt Satan’s motivations were almost evil in some ways. But, never the less, he would continue to show angelicdom the mercy of God and in his patience towards Satan he would try to set a good example for this particular Saruvim angel.
‘Yo, Jesus. Are you busy?’
Jesus turned his head to see Samael enter his room.
‘Not too busy Samael. What do you want?’
‘We have visitors. Newbies. I don’t know were the hell they are from but they mutter something about coming from heaven.’
‘Heaven? Ooh. That must be some of the children. They have decided to visit us after all this time. Come, let us go see what they want.’
Jesus accompanied Samael outside were Matthew and Dorothy and Samael of heaven were all standing. Jesus greeted them. ‘Hail children of heaven. How was your journey?’
‘We came down on Lucy’s spare broomsticks,’ muttered Matthew. ‘Our witch sister has made them able to fly.’
‘Fascinating,’ responded the Christ. ‘And why have you chosen to visit us this particular day?’
‘Oh, it was Samael’s idea,’ responded Dorothy, indicating her brother Samael.
‘Another Samael?’ queried Samael of Infinity. ‘How extraordinary.’
‘Such is life, dear friend,’ responded Samael of Heaven.
‘Well, we must show you around then,’ responded Jesus. ‘It is good to meet you again. Not that I really met you in the first place, that is. But I do remember the heart of God, as so many of us in this realm do. I remember each of you in some ways, you know. And by the love of God here we are all together. Well, will you accompany us around the Realm? We will give you a tour.’
‘Lead on,’ responded Dorothy.
They spent hours touring the upper realm of Infinity and then spent the night with Logos in his abode, a number of the older angels of Infinity joining them. They were all happy with each other, Jesus showing them the friendliness and the love of God of the angels of Infinity, and they sung this song for a while.
‘A Song of love, a song of joy
Our father’s heart, for girl and boy
A heart of love, with grace so true
For boy and girl, for me and you
Infinity, our lovely home
Subject of story, song and poem
A graceful realm, were love abounds
A place were joyful song doth sound
We are the children Infinite
From the heart of God, we’re heaven sent
Our God has known as all along
And with this joy we sing this song
A Song of love, a song of joy
Our father’s heart for girl and boy
A heart so true, a love untethered
In fathers love, we live forever.’
It was a simple song, but the group of them sang it many times, Matthew Dorothy and Samael happily joining in as children of the Infinite.
Dorothy slept well that night, sleeping on a mattress which had been placed not far from Jesus’ bed, right next to Matthew and Samael. And she dreamed that night of pleasant songs for the children of heaven, composed from her heart of joy.
* * * * *
Jesus eyed Satan yet, as cautious as he knew he needed to be, assented to Satan’s request to become part of the new council of Infinity.
‘You are of the older angels, Satan. I admit that. But your rebellion has not been yet forgotten. However, unless I the Son of God showed grace, how could I, in truth, deserve my most exalted position of glory. And so I will allow you to take your place on the council. But heed my words: I will be watching. And if you again transgress in an attempt to bring rebellion to the realm of Infinity, my wrath will be great indeed.’
‘Fear not, oh Christ of Glory. Fear not. I will be most sensitive to your desires in the future.’ But oh, how the father of lies was lying.
A few months later, as Satan had retired for the day from one of the council’s sessions, he was in conversation with the other coloured devil’s. ‘Now – now that we are established – we wait.’
‘We wait?’ queried Ramiel.
‘We wait,’ responded the dark lord.
* * * * *
Matthew and Deborah and Samael, after leaving the Realm of Infinity on their wonderful broomsticks, of all creations, began the flight further downwards to the Realm of Eternity. And, landing near the garden, they spied angels busy at work, building the new home of Zaphon that they had observed them building from the viewing portals in heaven.
Gabriel himself spied them and, immensely curious, came to see who they were.
‘We are the children of Heaven,’ responded Dorothy to Gabriel’s query. ‘We are, like yourself, from the loins of God, yet we reside in a realm far above this one.’
Gabriel looked upwards. ‘Up there? In the heavens?’
‘Aye, in the heavens Gabriel,’ responded Samael.
‘Then we must talk,’ replied Gabriel. ‘For I have many questions.’
Gabriel did indeed have many questions, keeping Dorothy, Matthew and Samael awake into the wee hours of the morning with inquiry into how the spiritual universe functioned. It was all new and fascinating information, especially in regards to the Realm of Infinity directly above them.
Later, when the trio arrived home, Adam and Eve came to see them, two of the other children of Heaven. And Adam spoke to the trio, saying, ‘Well you have done it now. Father has sent down Metatron to give us this news. We are to be united now – it is now Unity hour. God had wanted to wait for a while, but you have done the job for him. So the Realms are free to interact. It is the way things are now to be.’
Dorothy and Matthew were very pleased at the news and Samael boasted somewhat that it was because of his idea. But, whoever brought the unity hour on, the new United Realm soon became the focus for all the children and Angels of God.
The Last in Line
Enoch gazed through the portal.
'Genidweller. That is her name,' said Wolfric.
'She's quite stunning,' replied Enoch.
'She's clean as well. Spiritually. They maintain 4 billion souls on Venus, and she alone is spiritually clean. The last bastion of faith, for should she die without seed, our work ends with this planet and I shall draw but a tithe of men for salvation thenceforth. Are you willing to struggle on yet?' asked the Theophany of God.
'She's so – pure. So elegant,' commented Enoch.
'I know,' said God.
Enoch composed himself and looked at God.
'No. I am done.'
God gazed for what was an eternity in many ways at his chosen prophet.
'Very well. I make of thee one last charge. Watch over the last in line, and she will be received in grace to our Paradise.'
'As you wish heavenly father,' replied Enoch.
And Enoch's gaze was again upon Genidweller, the final child of Destiny.
Uranus Jokes 2
(Children of Men)
Fiona McKee looked at the professor. 'What? You think I'm crazy, right?'
Professor Parkinson looked at her with that stonefaced look everyone in the asylum knew. 'I don't think you're crazy, Fiona. Tell me a joke. One of your Uranus jokes.'
Fiona looked at him. 'Ok. Which planet has the shittiest reputation?'
'Which?' asked the professor.
'Uranus,' she replied.
The professor nodded, knowingly. Everyone in the Asylum, staff included, knew Fiona's very crude Uranus jokes.
'Your sister. Jessica Murdoch. When she visits you. You come out of yourself. You seem - together,' said the Professor. 'Does family mean a lot to you?'
'She's Jessica Daly now,' replied Fiona. 'And she's only my half sister.'
'Forgive me,' replied the professor.
'It's ok,' said Fiona. 'You can't help being stupid.'
The professor scribbled down a note. 'You like insulting people. Don' you.'
Fiona looked around the office. She knew it pretty well, now. Same books. Same stuffy atmosphere. Same boring professor. 'So what of it?' she replied.
'You don't think that's a problem?' he asked her.
'Life is a fucking problem,' she replied. 'Whatever I can get my kicks out of, I'll take it, thanks.'
'Perhaps life has more to it than cheap shots. Like respecting your fellow man,' said the prof.
'I've met too many dickheads in my time,' replied the Aussie girl from the school of hard knocks. 'They don't deserve respect.'
'Do your parents deserve respect?' the professor asked her.
'Leave them out of this,' said Fiona.
'You torched your stepfathers care. Ran it into a ditch. Obviously you don't respect him.'
'Another dickhead,' she replied casually.
'I've met him. John Murdoch seems a respectable member of society.
Fiona looked at him incredulously. 'The shit you don't know,' she replied.
'Try me,' he said.
'He masturbates,' said Fiona.
'A normal enough human thing to do,' replied the professor.
'In front of child porn,' said Fiona.
The professor looked at her, and scribbled down another note.
'Anyway, I'm sick of this. Are we finished?' asked Fiona.
The professor looked at the clock, and smiled a rare smile at her. 'If that is all you want to say today, fine. But I will see you again same time next week.'
And so Fiona McKee returned to her ward, and returned to her room, and said 'What a jerk' about the professor. But she thought about something he said. And thought it might of, crazily, made sense. Might have.
The Adventures of X 2
(Children of Men)
X was hanging in the park. Centennial park in Cooma where they all lived. The Alphabet gang, as they prided in calling themselves.
'Hey X,' said a voice. X turned. It was Y, as usual. Y always digged X. Never left him be.
'So. Wassup?' asked X.
'Oh, just been hanging around O. But he buggered off to K as usual. He really digs her. She didn't hang around, though. Back to her usual gang.'
'Oh, you mean F, U & C?' asked X
'Pretty much,' replied Y. 'A, B & C have been thinking about starting a pirate Cooma TV station.'
'The ABC Network. Could work,' remarked X.
'Maybe,' said Y. 'Anyway, I've been busy. E & S always are asking me to show up.'
'Yeh, they dig you,' said X.
'I is upset,' said Y.
'Why is that?' asked X.
'E, V & L are always playing tricks on him.'
'Such is life,' replied X, and lit another ciggie, hanging around Cooma Centennial Park, as another day passed in the life of the Alphabet Gang of Cooma, New South Wales, Australia.
Quantum Mechanics 2
(Children of Men)
'Dorfus. Do you hear voices?' asked his sister, Margaret Humbleheart.
'The devil speaks to me. I serve him,' said Dorfus, grinning madly.
'What do you expect? Read all those satanic websites all the time and hell will probably take an interest. But your a man of science. And, recently, you've been panned by a lot of the scientific community for some rather outlandish thinking. E equals M C cubed. You do realize that isn't true.'
'So what,' said Dorfus. 'Delusion is the name of the game, sis.'
Margaret put down her issue of New Scientist, for it was a family of scientific minds, and looked soberly at her brother. 'We are Catholics, Dorfus. Roman Catholics. We explore ideas as Catholics, about science, about the mysteries of creation. But when those mysteries have been revealed, we stick to them. We don't try and delude the world.'
Dorfus ignored her.
'What? Do you think the devil will save your soul or something?'
'He has promised me glory in hell,' replied Dorfus, a little nervously.
'Jesus didn't approve of the devil. Condemned him to hell. I agree with the rabbi that the devil is probably just an old son of God with a grudge or something, but he probably does get a kick out of leading people astray from the truth.' She picked up her magazine, and opened it up to the page she was reading. 'Maybe he is having a good old time at your expense,' she said, and resumed reading the article she had been concentrating on.
Dorfus played around with his scrambled eggs for a while and hated his sister for a while, but got up and went off to the living room to play Nintendo. But, sitting there, he thought on that. He had been promised glory. He was sure he would get it. But was he being fooled all along? Had he been taken for a ride? As he controlled the Mario avatar around the screen he considered that for a while, then got lost in the game as the end of level monster appeared.
Fiona's Choice 2
(Children of Men)
'Tell me about your husband. James,' said Professor Parkinson.
'Ex-Husband,' said Fiona. 'He cheated on me. Another dickhead.'
'Your still married from what your parents tell me?'
'Can't afford a divorce,' she said glibly. 'But I don't go by his name anymore. He's dead to me.'
'He says he still loves you,' said the Professor.
'Guys a creep,' said Fiona. 'He'd say anything.'
'Does he watch child pornography as well?' asked the professor.
'Ok, I was bulshitting you about John. I admit it. James? Child porn? Not his style. Try the brothels of Fyshwick.'
'Where he cheated on you. Just the once, he told me.'
'Once is enough,' she said. 'Do you mind if I smoke?' she asked. The professor indicated the no smoking sign.
'Forgiveness sometimes works wonders. I have been told you are of the Catholic faith. Jesus taught you to forgive, didn't he?'
'What? You a religious freak?' she asked.
'You were in your church choir. Going to be a nun at one stage.'
'I wised up. God doesn't exist, you know. Haven't you heard the news.'
'Do you really believe that?' asked the Professor.
Fiona shrugged. 'Don't know if I care really? God's a male, too. What do you expect.'
The professor made some notes and smiled at her. 'Your brother. Andrew.'
'A,' said Fiona.
'A?' queried the professor.
'A,' she replied. 'He's in the Alphabet gang. Calls himself A.'
'The Alphabet Gang?' queried the professor.
'Down in Cooma. A bunch of folk wear jumpers with a letter on them. There's one for each letter of the alphabet. Even double and triple letters now, I hear.'
'Ok,' said the professor.
'Well, your brother. Apparently the two of you get along very well. He is male.'
'Andrew should be a woman. He's cool. But I get the point.'
'So think that over, perhaps, Fiona. Maybe not all men are as bad as you think.'
She shrugged again. 'Gotcha doc,' she replied.
'You can go,' he said. 'But I will see you again next week.'
And she returned to her ward, and got out her photo album, and looked at the picture of Andrew, the Alphabet Gang member 'A', standing next to Alphabet Gang members R, S & E. She always liked this photo. Made her smile. Looking out the barred windows, out out the green surrounds, she wished she was out of this place. But she was a misfit. Good girl gone bad. And they'd committed her to an asylum until her mental health improved. She supposed she wanted to get better. Probably. But did she care? Did she give a damn? She looked at the picture, chuckled a little, and then put it away, and went off to find her bestie, and talk some shit for the rest of the day.
Italian Cooking 2
(Children of Men)
Peter Marconi, known to his family as Petro, married to Debbie, an Australian lady, now living in Canberra, looked at the cooking directions.
'Are you sure you can handle Canneloni?' asked Debbie. 'Your mother says your hopeless at cooking.'
'If I can't cook Canneloni what kind of Italian am I?' replied Peter.
Debbie smiled. 'Oh, your friend from the Bridge club rang. Says he will be up in Canberra again on the weekend. Quentin, or whatever his name is. Says he will drop by.'
'Q,' said Peter.
'Q?' asked Debbie.
'Oh, a gang thing he is in. The Alphabet gang. They wear a different letter of the alphabet each. There was a documentary on it on ABC not long ago actually.'
'Fascinating,' replied Debbie.
Peter continued preparing the meal, checking his instructions carefully, as Debbie hovered around the kitchen, checking what he was doing.
'I can handle it,' said Peter.
'Sure you can,' said Debbie. 'I don't think it needs icing sugar though.'
Peter looked at the packet he was holding. 'A mistake,' he said. 'I grabbed the wrong packet.'
'Sure,' she replied.
'Margaret rang again,' said Debbie. 'From America. They've settled in well over the last few years. Says Dorfus is improving a lot. Got to terms with some of his weird thinking apparently.'
'He was always the weird kid at St Joey's,' said Peter. 'But he was a mate. We got along.'
'It was all those weird books he read, I think,' said Debbie. 'Gave him ideas.'
'Hopefully he's turned the corner,' said Peter. 'Now go on, get. I've cooking to do.'
Debbie laughed, and left her husband in the kitchen, but kept her eye on him from time to time as he plodded along through his Italian cooking, doing his best to be a man of his own culture. She felt that even old Dorfus Humbleheart, with his finnicky nature for precision, would do a better job than Peter, but at least he was trying. It was just that she was in two minds of actually attempting to eat the result. But she would. And if he failed at Italian cooking, then such was life. It would at least give her something to chat with her girlfriends about. An Italian man who couldn't cook Canneloni. Indeed.
The Ark 2
'I've lived a long time, Jan Matook. I've seen the stars and, yeh, they are great. But life still goes on, and I want to rest here at home. Here on Earth. I'm not up for another trip.'
Jan sighed, and sat down. 'You know, Ian. I think on Dorfus. Dorfus Humbleheart. He wanted his seed, in his own words, to be brave. Bold. To challenge conceptions of normality, and reach for the stars. I read his autobiography many times in my university years, and I see you in him all the time. You even look like him. Is there not yet another adventure in the heart of Ian Humbleheart?'
'By the black balls of Bartimaeus, you ask a lot,' said Ian Humbleheart. 'I think, in the end, you know, I won't live forever. I see it these days. In my face, in my hair even. A grey hair. Every now and again. Comes in for a while, but goes. But my face, its weathered now.'
'It's seen a lot of life,' said Jan.
'It's probably seen too much life,' replied Ian. 'And I'm getting old. There, I said it. I'm finally getting old.'
'There is so much more out there. We're sure of it. Civilizations. Alien civilizations. They are real. They just are. I feel it in my heart. I feel it in my bones. We want to go off, again. And find them. Find whatever is out there. And prove it one way or another.'
Ian picked up the magazine in front of him, and flicked through some pages. He looked at Jan. 'One last great adventure, huh?'
'The greatest of them all,' said Jan. 'And I can't live it without the illustrious Ian Humbleheart.'
'Fine. Send me a taxi when you need me. I'll have a suitcase ready.'
Jan smiled. 'I knew I could count on you buddy.'
'Where are we going, then? We've seen most of it now. What else is there?'
'We've settled this Milky Way, sure,' said Jan. 'But its not the Milky Way I'm talking about.'
'Then what?' asked Ian.
'Mythora,' said Jan.
'Mythora?' asked Ian.
Ian smiled at life's ironies. He'd lived forever, it seemed. He travelled to the stars, and lived among the stars, settling New Terra, and was now home, where his heart wanted to be. But if it was one, great, last, adventure. If there was some grand revelation of the universe still waiting for Ian Humbleheart then, in the end, sure. Why not. It would be something to write home about at the very least.
Creatures of the Swampy Marshes 2
Alanis Morissette. Pop singer. Celebrity. Buddhist. But she was brought up Catholic, and questions lingered. She had come into the badlands swamp, on a test of personal strength, just like Man against the wild, to see if she could make it. To see if she could survive. She took only a small knapsack, with a single bottle of water, and one sandwich. That was it. And she had to venture in far enough, stay long enough, and then make it out alive, to prove to herself that what her faith in her heart was, was true. And that she was true.
She parked alongside the swamplands, and looked at a small grave marker. 'Here lies Jackie Ronaldson. Struck down in her prime.' 'Poor lady,' thought Alanis to herself. She looked at the swamp and said 'Here goes', and entered into the murky and mucky wasteland. She ate her sandwich within two hours. She was hungry that night, and the water was half gone. She was beginning to have doubts. The following morning, after having shivered a lot during the night, she found a pool of somewhat clear water, despite the tadpoles, drank a little, and ate from a large hanging leaf, which looked moderately edible. Half an hour later she had minor stomach pains, but that passed. She knew she was only a few miles in, so continued on. It hadn't been tough enough yet. She spotted the Lizgonod pack. She avoided them. They were not to be messed with. The Karanaal spider, native to this region, crawled all over in her way ahead at a certain point, so she pushed through the thicket, avoided them, and moved on. But the Racpoil snake seemed bothered when she walked past were it was sleeping, and it hissed at her. She jumped from the fright of her life, and backed off as the creature continued hissing. Yet still she ventured further in. It was a week later, and she'd found water from time to time, and their were wild berries a lot of the time which were edible enough, and then she found the blackberry patch, and had a great time. And then, sitting in the middle of the swamp one evening, still looking to a moderately cold early Autumn night, she looked up at the full moon and howled. She was tough enough. It couldn't kill her. She was too tough for this mama. And so, step by step, she worked her way back out, as best as her memory could guide her, and was amazed as she left the swamp, coming out just 100 yards down the road from her car. She paid the grave a visit, and looked at the name. Some are lucky, some are not, thought Alanis, thinking on Jackie. That's life, isn't it. Ironic I guess. And then she found her car and, driving home, was queen of the world in her heart.
The Big Bad Wolf 2
The Big Bad Wolf was dead. Long live the wolf. But he had a son, and he inherited his father's taste for pigs. The Big Bad Wolf lived in 'Scarabella'. Scarabella, a happy province, was part of the Commonwealth of Independent Provinces of the 'Blendorra' empire. And Blendora, the biggest of the Empires of the world they all called 'Home', was a happy place also. Fantastic creatures lived in Home, a small planet, of the universe. It was in the galaxy known as 'Mythora', far away from the Milky Way Galaxy, were humans dwelt, and it was one of the Universes of the Multiverse which Saruviel the Archangel took delight in. Strange creatures lived in it. Squirrels who were space farers, travelling in their spaceships. The Realm of Gloryandea was also fascinating to him, were the Leetharck kept the Leetharck Obsidian at bay. And Nebezandria. A people of great technology, and kind hospitality. There were 7 core Universes in the Multiverse, and Saruviel had been getting to know them, one after another. For they arose in time, one after another. And the great conclusion of things, when the Children of Destiny had lived through 7 lives, with great rests between them? Saruviel did not yet know that answer, but would watch on with anticipation. This universe, were Mythora dwelt, was known as 'Imagination' by Almighty God. It was civil, humane, decent, but of extraordinary diversity, and true amazement. Today Saruviel was watching the son of the Big Bad Wolf, and judging him, albeit softly, for he had inherited his father's bad habits.
'What? Are you going to chase down pigs forever?' Saruviel whispered at the Big Bad Wolf?'
'What? Who's that? Who's speaking asked the wolf.'
'Even a Big Bad Wolf needs to grow up eventually,' whispered Saruviel to the wolf. But the Wolf just looked around, scratched his head, and said 'I must be going crazy. Hearing voices.' Saruviel smiled, as the Wolf got on with his thing that day, but soon drifted on in his surveillance of 'Home' that day, another busy day for the Archangel of God, another busy day for God's beloved son.
...what has gone before
Kalan Lyant, warrior, slew a hobgoblin. He is a brave warrior. He is a prince of Kaluvia, and Kaluvia is facing the threat of a dark wizard from the continent to the north, Ky-Keria. Yalth is the seat of the Dark Wizard's power, and a council was formed to address the threat of this dark wizard and his powers.
Gabriel sat with the Theopany in a corner of heaven.
'It is in a distant place, a planet far from Earth. And its origin is ancient. And I would have you travel there with me.'
'You speak of this Kalan, as if he is indeed ancient. An angel, or something, you said. And that he is like a firstborn child to yourself.'
'In a heart of the eternal, perhaps he is, dear Gabriel.'
'Then we shall go.'
Gabriel stood, and looked at the portal, and the old man following, stepped through to another world.
Kalan Lyant rested.
It had been a busy time, learning about Yalth. Learning about the dark wizard, as they now called him, and the dangers he presented to the world. And Kalan had been summoned, to Ejin Palace, sister city of Eijin. For the Earl of Ejin wanted to discuss things about the dangers of Yalth with him. For Kaluvia and Karadarak were to be at war with Ky-Keria, now. And, from latest reports, the house of Rhyan wanted nothing to do with the conflict. They had rejected them, the Kaluvians. They had rejected them.
Mallintor sat with Kalan, polishing Kalan's sword, watching over his resting charge.
'He has changed his name to 'Necronomicon'. The dark wizard.' said Mallintor.
'Why?' asked Kalan.
'Because it is the very name of death itself. And his forces have tasted the power of the ancient Necronomica, and have, for creatures of the night, become even more undead, if such a thing verily possible.'
Kalan shuddered. Hobgoblin's were bad enough. An undead hobgoblin would be bloody horrible.
'We must find Auar. And the Aurii,' said Kalan. 'Only their power will defeat Necronomicon.'
'And for that a questing party must form. A fellowship,' stated Mallintor boldly.
'There is a girl I know. In Lameth.'
'Yes,' said Mallintor, looking curiously at Kalan.
'She knows of the Aurii. Marni Bonniker, a bartender's daughter. She hears tales. Lots of them. She spoke to me once, after we bedded, of a strange creature. A creature with pointed ears who took refuge one night, and said, in humour about his ears, 'Why I am Auarii.'
'Surely she was jesting,' said Mallintor.
'But can we take the risk?' asked Kalan.
'Nay. For proud Kaluvia rests on such information.
'Then to Rhyan we must go. And to Lameth. For Necronomicon will be defeated. As surely as I am of the bloodline of Lyant.'
'Caution,' said Mallintor. 'We must travel to Haven first.'
'And why Haven?' asked Kalan. 'The whirlpool is practically impenetrable. And no man climbs the Iridian Jid mountains and survives.'
'I know a passageway. Under the mountains,' said Mallintor. 'It is.' he left off speaking.
'What old man?' asked Kalan.
'It is safe,' said Mallintor, but would not engage a look with his young counterpart.
'Then tell me, what is at Haven?'
'The dawn of creation,' said Mallintor mysteriously, but would speak no more on the subject.
'I have been speaking with Earl Koldar. Of Ejin. His son wishes to accompany us, on this quest. Roldak. Good with a bow and arrow, and the finest swordsman in the land, so the claim is made. And Xaddadaxx and Beltaran have promised to accompany us. Those archers will be indispensable. They are the finest shots in all of Kaluvia.'
'We need a dwarf,' said Kalan. 'For they are experts in caves and the underground worlds. The finest of miners.'
'It is their specialty,' responded Mallintor. 'It is what makes them dwarves in many ways. Lamgam will accompany us. I have already considered that.'
'And thus the fellowship is borne,' said Kalan.
'The Fellowship of Kaluvia,' said Mallintor in bold words.
'The Fellowship of Kaluvia,' responded Kalan.
Koldar was an interesting man to Kalan, long moustache and beard, a fading gray from his bright brown days of youth. But his son Roldak was full of spunk and energy, and Lamgam was a hearty dwarf, full of sarcasm from just minutes in his presence. Xaddadaxx and Beltaran he knew as his own brothers, the twins, full of polished behaviours, perhaps very akin to the Auarii themselves, for it was rumoured, in the close circles Kalan travelled in, that they were descended from the hidden ones.
Mallintor looked at the gathered fellowship. 'Sons of Kaluvia. Proud and true,' he said to them. 'The fate of our world is on troubled times. And those brown-robed fools who now preach in the streets, those 'Doomsayers' as they like to call themselves, will not be proven true. Their portents of destruction will fail and this God they glorify, well. Well he shalt not judge us, for we are children of the Dawn of Creation, the force of power which rules all, and is in all. And a god of creation, as they speak of, shalt surely not rule our hearts.'
'Aye aye,' said Lamgam, with his stiff dwarven voice.
'I would not be so quick to speak against this god,' said Xaddadaxx. 'For these doomsayers come from we know not were, and it is never a good thing to annoy a deity.'
'Deity worship is for old wives and fools,' said Mallintor, yet he marked Xaddadaxx's words.
'God is known to us,' said Beltaran. Our grandfather Goldrun speaks of him, at night, in tales to us. He speaks of him as the source of the Dawn of Creation. That the power at Haven was created by a being of Sovereign power over the universe. Goldrun has never lied to us. He served your grandfather faithfully, as we serve you Prince of Kalvay. And while the world of Lameth has long ruled our hearts, in their progressive ways and thoughts, Lameth is foolish. The continent of 'XXXXX' has long been serving a new agenda as we see it, and while they take the name Lameth now, in honour of that city of scribes and philosophers, who abandon the old ways, the right ways of living in this life, we remember the old ways. We Kaluvians are of the old world, prince Kalan. And knowledge of the Dawn of Creation is not just known to the power of the Wizards of Haven. It is known even in Kaluvia.'
'I remember him,' said Kalan. 'Goldrun. From younger years. Yet he serves the court no longer.'
'He still lives,' said Xaddadaxx. 'Your father James granted him a great retirement benefit. And he lives in the highlands, not far from Kalvay.'
'Then we will visit him first,' said Kalan. 'I am sorry Mallintor, Haven will have to wait. I would learn of this god Goldrun speaks of. And the power he can grant us against the Darkwater. The Necronomicon.'
'Yes, he is known as Darkwater,' responded Mallintor. 'It is an approriate label to the dark wizard, our histories most feared foe. Darkwater, and his name, has inhabited many a fowl beast to leave ruin upon our fair world. For the enemy of the dawn of creation has opposed life and liberty for countless aeons gone before us. It does not surpirse me you think of the dark one as the latest embodiment.'
'Our father is sure the Darkwater lives in the Dark Wizard,' said Beltaran. 'He is certain of that fact.'
'Then it will be a time like no other,' said Kalan.
Kalan looked at Mallintor. 'We will go to Haven, in time. That is certain. And first we will speak with Goldrun, for this knowledge of God might prove useful to us at Haven. For if the doomsayers are correct, then we must call upon the highest of powers in our time of needs. And if the legacy of Xaddadaxx's and Beltaran's ancestry is as they claim,' said Kalan, looking at the supposed descendants of the Aurii, 'then we will need all the help we can get. Yet not right away. For first we must prepare Ejin and Eijin and the northern cities. We must prepare them for the hordes which will come from the north, creeping their way through the Iridian Jid's, for their kind can conquer the treachourous passageways.'
'And they likely know the mines,' said Mallintor. 'It is where the raiding parties have always come from.'
'Then as this darkwater grows in power we must respond. We must strengthen those here in the north, for one day they will come further, down to Kalvay itself, and we must needs be ready. We must needs be prepared.'
'Then I shall travel to Haven first alone,' said Mallintor. 'For I shall consult with my order, and seek the power of the dawn of creation.'
'And we shall travel with you, in time,' said Kalan. 'But for now we must prepare against the darkness, and agaisnt whatever threat this Darkwater poses.
'It will be as you say,' said Mallintor.
And the fellowship all agreed as one.
Koldar was a hospitable host, and in his time in Ejin Kalan was in a good mood. For a little while anyway. It didn't take long, though. Not long at all till the heart of this Prince of Kalvay in the south of Kaluvia grew more and more concerned with the tribes of the north, who had often been in a disparate relationship with their southern cousins, especially of recent times with the fracturing of the tribal confederacies of old. For it was the northern tribes of Kaluvia who first suffered from the growing unrest of the populace as the raids, which had been minor, started in earnest. The Necronomicon had begun his fowl agenda of conquest as the council feared he soon would, and the north of Kaluvia were the first to suffer. Yalth was at the heart of Ky-Keria, the northern continent, so it was believed: yet this was never quite proven as fact, for no foolhardy soul had ever really returned in one piece from the northern wastelands, were no city prospered except the diabolical capital of the shadow of doom, right in the heart of the fGemstoneidden land. Orcs and Goblins and Hobgoblins lived in waste places, eating coneys and hares and rabbits and lizards, and other wild feral beasts which ran through the land. Yet they especially enjoyed feasting on manblood, and long had been the history of Kaluvia enriched, if enriching was indeed the word for it, by the grim fairy tales of maneaters from the north, kidnapping virgins and stealing away, in the middle of the night, with the children of the village, gone forever, to the feasting hallws of Yalth, and the abominable appetites of those dark, wretched beasts. And now, confronted in his young life for the first time with the evil of the dark firsthand, Kalan learned that quality which would become so necessary in the years ahead of this pawn of prophecy. He learned empathy.
The raids were brutal, and the dark ones were better armed than ever, even found in leather armour, which was rare in the north, so it was believed, were cattle were said to have been devoured aeons ago. But, nay, they were even armed with leather, and had cruel swords, which cut to the very heart of the northern cities, killing their youths, killing their farming families, killing their prosperity, killing their very life. They were grim times indeed.
And then Mallintor spoke with the fellowship and declared enough was enough.
'If you will not go with me, I shall travel now alone. Fear not, I will be back within two turns of summer harvest, and will give what news I can from our order, and from the dawn of creation. The council, here in Ejin, does not represent the full views of the higher orders of wizardry. They never could. They are a later force of power, only representative of the affairs of men, and not of the cardinals of nature.'
'And what are those cardinals of nature?' Kalan asked Mallintor.
'The greater power,' said Xaddadaxx, polishing his bow. 'Mallintor is one of the elite of the world of magic. We have long known this. He represents the oldest order of the wizards. In many ways he is of the Hidden Ones also, going back indeed to the dawn of creation. He is not one of our kind, Kalan. I fear, he is not even human. Is that not correct, Mallintor? You are not even of human blood.'
Mallintor was silent, gazing at Xaddadaxx, wondering what secret knowledge his family guarded. What knowledge of this supposed divine power, this 'God', they supposedly guarded.
'I am human in enough ways, master Xaddadaxx. You need not fear on that issue. For I have known your kind for millennia now. I am one with you. And my heart is indeed with you.'
'Yet you betray yourself by your very age,' responded Xaddadaxx. 'For what human,' said Xaddadaxx, looking at Kalan, 'lives beyond a hundred years. Or at best 120. It is not normal, I say. He is not of your kind. OUR kind, Kalan.'
'Yet, should we lose respect for how he has served our kind faithfully for so long?' queried Kalan. 'Or is there some other hidden agenda in your heart, Xaddadaxx?'
Xaddadaxx remained silent. He would not speak of it, the ancient fued between Auarii and Haven. He would not bring it up at this time, when, perhaps in soon time, both would rely on the resources of the other for the salvation of their world.
'Nay, Ye have nothing to say. Mallintor is greatly respected by the council, and we need fear no betrayal. In this most perilous of times we need all the friends fate will grace us with.'
'Aye. Well spoken Kalan. And the dwarves will stand firm with mankind at this time. For our northern villages also suffer from this scourge of evil, and all brave hearts must be called upon in this dark hour of need,' said Lamgam.
Xaddadaxx nodded softly at those words. Even those of Haven, at this dark time, if needs be.
'Then we are in agreement,' said Mallintor. 'I will go to Haven and henceforth return in two summers.'
'And we shall now travel to speak with Goldrun,' said Kalan. 'And thereupon return. For I would learn more of this 'God', he said, eyeing Xaddadaxx and Beltaran. 'And then to Haven we shall all go, and consult with the dawn of creation.'
'Aye, Kalan,' said Lamgam, and the fellowship agreed thereon.
Mallintor had departed, and the north were as prepared as possible. So they bid farewell to the earl of Ejin and the Council, and ventured south, to Kalvay, Kalan's home city, and then to the home of Goldrun, near the city, in a small village, to consult on this strange power, this strange God, who could perhaps provide the key to victory that Kalan Lyant and the peoples of Kaluvia so very much needed at this, their most desperate of times.
And so, coming forth to the home of Goldrun, Kalan and the fellowship found themselves greeted by the ancient servant of his father and grand-father before him. It had been a treachous year, and they had been careful on the roads, for Necronomicon's raiding parties had gained even access to the south as the darkness had grown, and nowhere was safe in Kaluvia it seemed. Nowhere.
Kalan was taken aside and Goldrun sat before him, on an old rocking chair, the ancient grey hairs of an old man of years beyond counting comforting Kalan's worried heart. The prince of Kalvay, a young and strong warrior, with the fears and hopes of a nation on his shoulders.
Goldrun looked at him and sighed. 'Let me speak to you, Kalan Lyant. Let me speak to you of the dark power. Of the Darkwater, which surely inhabits this Necronomicon as you call him. The dark power which has long haunted us proud Kaluvians. It was in the time before the shadow. Before Darkwater ruled Kykeria. A time, almost forgotten, when children were happy, lovers caroused, singers sang and adventures took place. It was the time of your life in the land of Kaluvia. I remember your great-grandfather, Kalan. Old Regus Lyant. And royal he was. He united the tribes of Kaluvia and made himself king. And what a king. Pomp and circumstance. The whole affair. As if he was God himself – the universes gift to the children of Kaluvia. Your grandfather, though, Maximus Lyant – well he was made of different stuff. An adventurer and man of steel like his father, but oh so bold and daring. We warred with Kykeria in the north in those days. When Darkwater first established his reign Kykeria. It was your grandfather who led the final battle of Kaluvia against the dark power of Kykeria yet, woe unto us, to no grand and glorious conclusion. Yes, the evil one, the malevolent one himself, Darkwater triumphed over your grandfather – slew him in battle and, so legend goes, paraded his head in triumph over the orcs and goblins of Kykeria. Yet, Kalan, you know all this dare I say it. Yet, what ye may not know, for the house has not deemed fit to tell you until today, in your 21st year, is that the prophet spoke in those days. In those days of fair life and glory. He spoke of a child of Maximus. One who would rid the world of the darkness that would come to earth. We knew of the Darkwater, then, but his latest incarnation had only just begun his quest for power with the inception of Maximus’ reign. Yet, over a score of years, Darkwater united Kykeria, like Regus had united us Kaluvians. And then the raids began. For a long time we assumed your father, James, would be the one – the child of the prophecy. That he would defeat Darkwater and reunite the scattered tribes of Kaluvia in vengeance against him. That he would travel to Karadar and gain the support of those barbarian warriors, and also seek the help of the Pontifex himself in Rhyan on Lameth. Lamethians, Kalan, are fools. In their might and power they disdain and think nothing of Darkwater. That he is not a threat to them. That their mighty continent need not fear the power of Ky-keria. Yet they are fools, Kalan. Fools I tell you. They have been breeding. Breeding and multiplying savagely. Every day we hear reports of goblins and orcs pushing further in their territory over the Iridian Jid mountains. In truth, if they desired to conquer and take Kaluvia this very day I fear we could not stop them. Yet Darkwater is a cautious soul. For a fallen one, he is most cautious indeed. Some say the power of evil itself is in Darkwater’s heart, and that is true, for it is what the Darkwater verily represents. That he is a child of the heavens – a child of the gods. Yet, in my mind, he is a fallen child. He attacks us innocent Kaluvians with his raids unceasingly. His orcs and goblins ravage our lands, pillage our fields, kill our women and children and take all our precious goods. We are a scattered and divided people, we Kaluvians, in these dismal times. Although this is not uncommon in our history. Before Regus, life was like this, in some ways. The tribes not united. Each doing their own thing. Yet then, without the constant evil from the North. Without the evil of the Darkwater to confront. Yet we must unite, again. Again, for our lives, we must unite. The doomsayers – these so-called priests who preach the end of the world – they are spreading, Kalan. Every day their cult grows and teaches that Darkwater will rule the world one day. That he will put down the power of the Pontifex of Lameth and rule our whole planet. And that this is the judgement of God. And the people live in fear, child of James. The people live in fear. These prophecies they utter, they are lies I tell you, lies. They are never accurate in what they speak of as happening, yet people are simple and believing. Sometimes they are right. Sometimes these damn doomsayers speak and, as if magically, the event comes to be. And because of this the people now fear the end. For all doomsayers, as one, speak of the triumph of Darkwater and the end of our world as we know it. A world in which man will be enslaved under the power of the fallen ones and their orc and goblin hordes. Enslaved to suit their purposes and serve their fowl empire as slaves. Young men kill themselves these days, Kalan. Do you hear me child of James? They kill themselves in despair at the world that is coming. As if the doomsayers words are final and irrevocable. As if the inevitability of the Darkwaters power will triumph. Yet listen to me, child of James, child of Maximus, child of Regus. Listen to me in truth. You Kalan Lyant can rid the world of the evil of Darkwater. You, with your notoriety and charm – with the nobility of birth you possess – you can unite Kaluvia and gain the help of both Karadarak and Lameth to defeat the scourge of Darkwater. You can do this, Kalan. You can. It is your destiny, child. It is your destiny.’
Kalan Lyant, one of noble birth, and trained warrior of the Lyant tribe of Kaluvia listened to old Goldrun. He listened to the old servant of his grandfather and the words of encouragement he spoke to him. Goldrun had not long to live. He lay on his bed in his hut in this village just outside of Kalvay, whic was home of the Lyant tribe and a number of other smaller minor tribes of the south, nearing the appointed hour of his meeting with the heavenly spirits of the afterworld. To go home to the dawn of creation. He listened, intently, and understood then, so clearly, the truths that for so long he had been trying to escape. The truths of the inevitable threat of the evil lord Darkwater.
'What did he speak of?' asked Roldak.
Kalan sighed, as he regained the fellowship in the main hall, and sat down.
'Troubled times. And a destiny, for myself. As if I am a child of prophecy. A child to unite Kaluvia.'
'You have united the north, somewhat,' Roldak stated. 'It is not beyond your powers, Kalan. And Ejin stands with you. In this threat we will unite. We MUST unite.'
Kalan put his hand on the warrior's shoulder. 'That is good to hear, and I appreciate it. In these dark times we all need all the help and unity we must afford. But I have heard his words, and I understand a little now, of the history of this threat before us. I will speak with Goldrun in the morning, when he has rested. And then....'
'And then?' queried Lamgam.
'We will spend a little time in Kalvay. For they would accept me as King in my 21st year. And that passed this week just gone.'
Xaddadaxx and Beltaran knelt. 'Hail King Kalan.'
'Aye. Hail King Kalan,' said Lamgam.
And Roldak put his hand on the worried King's shoulder, for the fate of a nation rested upon his wisdom.
The council were deliberating. 'Yalth's agenda has changed,' said the sovereign seat on the council. 'I foresee it, in the powers of clairvoyancy, that their agenda has changed. They are not pursuing the evil that they had planned. Things have changed, and the older plans are no longer valid, it would seem. They have, instead, a deadlier pursuit. For we feared, amongst great terrors, the enslaving of our world to the power of the dark creatures. But this is no longer their agenda, I fear. No longer.'
One of the wizards spoke. 'Yalth rarely changes from her evil, and likely never will. But they no longer fear us as they once used to. They no longer even crave us as slaves, as the recent spate of raids have made clear. They KILL now. They simply kill us. They don't care for our lives, wether we will live or die and, in fact, that is simply what they want of us. Dead. All dead. We gain the insight from our seeing portals, and looking into the portal of history I fear that, should current trends continue, and not be acted upon. I am afraid my brothers, Yalth has only one agenda in achieving her goal of world dominion - genocide of all mankind, and other races of our world.'
The council stirred somewhat, and they nattered amongst themselves.
A wizard spoke. 'Then our mission is more urgent than ever. For, perhaps in time, we could ward off these harrassments of Yalth, yet if their agenda is certain. If it is resolute. And if their is no persuading evil from its course, then we must make that decision we have long since, since the earliest of ages, long since feared to make. For we are not of evil, and even if it must hate us and rape and pillage us and kill us, we do not respond in such manner. Yet, if there cause is resolute, if they are set, as it seems, on our total destruction. If they will tolerate none but their own wicked kind. Then the cause is just, and the response measured and valid, and it behoves us to carry out this inevitable justice, until.....' he left off speaking, and another wizard said, 'finish your claim.'
'Until we have verily hunted down and destroyed all that remain of the dark forces of Yalth.'
And the council of wizards debated and the council of wizards concurred and the council of wizards agreed. Kill or be killed. They had no other option.
Kalmandar, a wizard on the council, slithered away, back to his abode, closed and locked the door, and ensuring nobody was hidden in his alchemy chambers, brought forth his tub of water, cast the essence of nature into it, and prepared his thoughts for the spell, a mirror of the portals of power. And concentrating he soon brought forth the face of the dark wizard himself.
'Master,' said Kalmandar. 'The council have reached a decision. They will show no quarter, I fear. They are now set on Yalth's utter destruction.'
The dark wizard glowered at Kalmandar, obviously less than impressed with this pawn of a wizard who had sold himself to the power of the Darkwater.
'It matters not,' said the Necronomicon. 'One way or another they would oppose us regardless. Yet the power of mankind, which has ruled us for so long, and claimed a planet rightfully belong to our own kind, is at an end. Observe them. See if they have any last trick to use in their defense. Any last slight of hand of the charlatan's they are. And if so, report what you observe.'
'I live to do your bidding, dark lord.'
'And your reward will be great,' he muttered, continuing in the same disinterested tone, 'and such and such maidens, and so forth.' The face disappeared, and Kalmandar threw the opposing reagents into the tub of water, to neutralize the effect of the spell, and went about his normal business, a wizard employed on the council of power, homed in Ejin, respected by many, yet a traitor in their midst.
Kalan and the fellowship rode forth, Kalan mounted on his steed 'Brightfire', a pure white stallion with a mane of brightest gold, hence his name, the group riding in accross the drawbridge of Kalvay castle, the guards saluting Prince Kalan.
In an upper tower, Marianne, a lady-in-waiting, noticed the trumpeters signal of a returned noble of the house and, looking down to the courtyard noticed her Prince Kalan had returned. She spoke to Lady Miriamele.
'My Lady. He has returned. Prince Kalan.'
Miriamele shrugged. 'The comings and goings of a bufoon like Lord Kalan Lyant are a triviality to one as myself.'
'But Lady Talbourne. Your house and his own are an agreed arrangement for betrothal. And he is such a handsome fellow.'
Miriamele Talbourne looked strictly at her Lady-in-waiting. 'Then perhaps you should marry him.'
'Oh, my Lady. You surely flatter me. Prine Kalan is far too esteemed for one such as myself.'
'Don't despise your standing, Marianne Talbourne. You may be but a lowly Lady-in-waiting in the tribe of Talbourne, yet you are a Talbourne. The most noble of the southern tribes.'
Marianne smiled at that comment.
'Shall we go meet him,' she asked her Lady. Miriamele, in all her stately gaze, nodded somberly.
In the throneroom of Kalvay castle, the Arch-Regent was in talk with Kalan and the fellowship, when a page announced the presence of Lady Miriamele.
She came forward, her lady-in-waiting following on her heels, and curtsied to Lord Kalan.
'Prince Lyant,' she saluted formally.
'My Lady,' responded Kalan.
Lady Miriamele looked at the gathered fellowship. 'You have company,'she stated with her austere casuality, as if the subject were almost beneath her conversation.
'Let me introduce you,' said Kalan. And one by one the fellowship were introduced, ending with Roldak. And Miriameles eyes lit up instantly at his greeting, something not lost on Prince Kalan.
The lady turned back to Kalan. 'May I ask your plans, my Lord?'
'He is to be crowned King,' spoke the Arch-Regent. 'For he is now in his 21st year.'
Lady Miriamele returned her gaze to Prince Kalan. 'Then I would presume we delay our wedding no longer.'
'Our wedding can wait,' siad Kalan. 'There are more urgent pressing matters.'
'As you will it,' said Lady Miriamele. 'Marianne,' she said, summonong her Lady-in-waiting to follow her, yet as Miriamele turned and walked away, Marianne simply gawked at Prince Lyant, who warmly smiled and winked at her.
'Marianne,' stated Miriamele again, in a tone showing she did not like being kept waiting, and Marianne blushed at the Prince, and returned to her lady.
When the ladies had departed Roldak turned to Kalan. 'Who was that?' he asked, looking after the ladies.
'My betrothed,' said Kalan. 'I don't love her. She is too starchy for one as myself, yet it is my father's arrangement with the house of Talbourne. To keep the peace and strengthen our tribe. I doubt I could escape the arrangement.'
'Indeed,' said Roldak, looking again towards were the ladies had departed the throneroom from.
'Can a fighting dwarf get a hearty meal around here.'
'Forgive me Lamgam. I will arrange for your quarters.'
The hustle and bustle of Kalvay castle once more was brought to life with their returned Prince, and it did not take long for the announced coronation to spread to all and sundry in the city. A time of activity for Kalvay, and another great day for the noble house of Lyant.
Kalan didn 't like Hobgoblins. Slaying them was rewarding, in a way, as it vindicated Kaluvia against the struggle against Yalth, yet they were hideous looking creatures, and thinking back about the Hobgoblin he recently slew, all he could really think is that it was better off dead. Or, at least, mankind was better off without them. But, what would it be like, really, if the creatures of evil were gone forever? Respite. Rest. Freedom. To live in peace, without worrying for flocks, or children, or fair maidens, who always seemed to be the most prized of targets.
He had slain a number of the dark creatures in his young years, being trained for such possibilities in the training grounds of Kalvay castle, mainly by his old master of arms, Fordak, who seemed expert in every art of war known to men. Or, at least, he presented himself in such a manner, an air of all-knowing combat mastery.
The Hobgoblins were fowl, and offensive creatures, and gazing at the one the warriors of Kalvay had brought in, one captured from a daring raiding party even this far south, locked in a cage, Kalan was of two minds to simply have it killed instantly. But, no, he needed information. Information on the plans of Yalth.
'Speak, fowl creature. Why do you attack us so? Have you despised us for so long you know no other evil?'
The creature hissed at him, and stuck out its tongue in defiance. And then it turned its backside to Kalan and farted. The smell was disgusting.
'By Grimgam's beard,' said Lamgam. 'That stench is fowler than a dwarven harlots pBrittoriates.'
Roldak grinned at that comment.
'And it is as ugly as one, I would imagine,' said Xaddadaxx smartly, which brought no small amount of laughter from those assembled.
'Enough,' said Kalan, yet he too was smiling. 'Creature. Speak to me of Yalth and I will free you.'
The creature hissed at him again, but seemed to be considering it. It spoke. 'Yalth will crush you, human. We seek dominion over Kaluvia. We will not hide that from you.'
'Why?' asked Kalan.
'For it is our time,' said the creature. 'For ours were the first races of earth, and the hideous corruptions of Altar are despised yet still. We will tolerate your kind no longer.'
'Mmmm,' said Kalan. 'Who is this Altar.'
'Your father,' said the creature, and hissed once more.
Xaddadaxx spoke. 'In the legends, Altar was the first of men. These dark creatures claim him as one of their own kind. A miracle birth of unspeakable beauty. Resented because of it by the dark ones. Yet we are told Altar came forth from the Dawn of creation, and lived first in the garden. And the divine one fashioned from his rib a woman, and mankind was born.'
'Fascinating,' said Kalan, staring at the creature. 'Take it outside the city,' he said to a guard. 'And let it go.'
The guard responded, and soon a team of workers were hauling away the fowl beast.
'It is also said,' continued Beltaran, 'that Darkwater was present, there at the beginning, a fallen god, and that to match the Divine one he fathered his own fowl seed, the fowl creatures of the dark. And when the dwarves and the other races were created, Darkwater matched the divine one in making other fowl creations.'
'A fallen god,' said Kalan. 'Who has plagued us all for so long.'
'Yet his day of reckoning is at hand,' said Xaddadaxx. 'We shall surely not fail.'
'Nay, we shall not,' said Kalan,' but his own words were beset with doubts, for the final hour was at hand.
Kalan looked at the group. 'My coronation is tomorrow, but we shall not delay. I have spoken with the Arch-Regent and Kalvay will be as ready to defend herself with or without my presence. So we shall return to Ejin immediately following tomorrow's celebration, and wait upon Mallintor's return. So eat well and enjoy the night's festivities, for I will dine alone tonight, as I have much on my mind. If you will excuse me.' And as Kalan departed, the fellowship looked forward to the nights celebration, trying, at least for the moment, to put thoughts of hobgoblins and Yalth and dark lords to the back of their minds, to have happiness for a short time. At least for a little while.
Mallintor looked into the dawn of creation. In the heart of Haven, down in its deepest catacombs, the hidden place, guarded by his order for untold millennia, the crystalline golden gates of the phenomenon guarding all around the circumference of its glory, a constant reminder of the miracle of creation. You could just stand upon the outskirts of the gates, for some force of nature, akin to the scientific notion of gravity, popular amongst the scribes of Lameth, resisted all attempts for anyone or anything to enter itself. Long had the order known this to be true, and long had the monument, as it were, been revered because of it. And, while the would not, nay could not, share the secret that its presence gave longer life, the order knew its healing powers also, to defeat even the gravest of ills, and the calm sedation of anxiety it brought, being in its very presence. It had long been the dawn of creation, were they all had come from, yet its origin remained locked in mystery, eternal as the ages gone by, as eternal as the sun and moon which had long guarded the comings and goings of the children of men and all creatures great and small of the world they knew of as home.
'Power of Creation. Speak to me!'
Nothing. There was no response, nor had there ever been, with any title they had ever tried. Only the constant glow of the golden hazy aurora within the heart of the phenomenon, crowned by its crystalline exterior, which remained, as always, impenetrable.
'Bah,' he said to himself. And then, thinking it over for the final time, he dared. He dared to try the word.
'God,' he said to it.
It had been a constant factor of their lives, taken as much for granted as the rising and the setting of the sun, yet, when the eternal glow of the dawn of creation, which had remained a constant golden whitey yellowy colour for aeons untold, throughout all of their known observations, turned from, for the first time in Mallintor's living memory, upon the utterance of the word 'God', its royal and stately gold, for a brief period, to a bright and happy purple, with a few sparks emanating from its presence, Mallintor, perhaps the most undisturbable of calm, steady, souls, with a patience a midwife would envy him for, for once lost his calm exterior.
'Fuck!' he swore. And that was quite enough language, coming from a wizard of his respected order.
'We were just discussing,' said Lamgam, 'the sexual orientation of your Arch-Regent. He's not a bum bandit, is he lad? He dusn't take it up the arse, dus he lad?'
Kalan, who had been leading the group on Brightfire, turned to Lamgam who had just rode up to join him. 'I hardly think the sexual desires of the Arch-Regent of Kalvay should be our concerns at this time.'
'Aye. Then's he's a poof, alright.'
Kalan smiled to himself as Lamgam dropped back to the rest of the pack, the dwarves sarcasm even stronger, now that he had settled into the group moreso.
They had started out from Kalvay that afternoon, Kalan being coronated at mid-day, with the Arch-Regent, in his nasal voice, and effete mannerisms crowning him King Kalan of Kalvay and the tribal lands of the region of Kalarya, which brought quite a cheer from those gathered on the foresteps of Kalvay Castle, in front of the whole city, the busy marketplace below them alive with loyal citizens. And then the celebrations and festitivies begun, with joy for a new king after the death of King James, and the square rolled with laughter, frivolity and the drinking of beer.
Yet the fellowship only stayed briefly, and Kalan left his lady, Miriamele, with a solemn promise of his return within 3 summer harvests. She hardly seemed concerned, yet her lady-in-waiting, Marianne, worshipped him practically, and her devotion to his person he had noticed on more than one occasion. She was also, in truth, a tad prettier in the face, and a tad slimmer in the figure. Almost, in truth, a better catch. If not for her standing in the tribe of Talbourne.
They gained the crest of the trail, suddenly confronted with the rear of travelling raiders, 200 yards down the track. About a dozen of them surrounding a cart with the driver dead on the road by the looks of it, surrounded by other bodies.
'Raiders!' yelled Lamgam.
'Hold your guard,' shouted Kalan. But it was too late - they had been spotted. The fellowship watched for a moment, readying their weapons, as the raiders shouted at each other about their unexpected guests.
'Will they flee?' asked Roldak.
'Our numbers are about even. And they look as if they are in leather. They will fight hard,' responded Kalan.
'Bah. Let us not lose this opportunity,' said Lamgam, brandishing his double edged axe.
'Patience,' said Kalan. He looked around, at the valley below them, searching the horizon.
'I sense they are alone,' said Xaddadaxx.
'In the end, we must defend our people,' said Beltaran. 'We must confront them.'
'Aye,' said Lamgam.
Kalan turned to Xaddadaxx. 'Do you sense any magic?'
Xaddadaxx shook his head. 'They are the common kind, most likely. Not skilled in the arts. It will simply be a matter of steel against steel.'
'And bow,' said Beltaran, lifting his longbow.
Kalan surveyed the valley one last time, and signalled for them to ride forwards. 'Slowly,' said Kalan. 'But be ready.'
Gradually they rode forwards, the creatures hiding behind the cart, when an arrow just flew past Kalan's ear.
'Take them!' yelled Kalan in response, and the group charged their steeds, crashing into the fowl creatues, Lamgam's blade swinging wildly, and Roldak and Kalan dismounting to confront an opponent each. As the swordplay grew fierce the twins had filled half a dozen or so of the creatures with arrows, Lamgam beheading his adversary, and Roldak having just defeated his foe, coming to watch Kalan in fight with the leader of the pack, a fierce goblin dressed in chainmail.
The Goblin hissed at Kalan when Xaddadaxx yelled, 'say the word, Kalan, and we'll fill him full of arrows.'
'Nay, it's Kalan's fight,' said Roldak.
Kalan turned his blade over in his hands and glared at the creature. The goblin yelled at him and charged, yet Kalan nimbly dodged the attac to the side and, as the goblin turned again to face him, Kalan thrust his blade deep into the heart of the beast.
As it died Roldak came forward and patted Kalan on the shoulder.
'Well fought, laddy o,' boasted Lamgam. 'You'll make a fine dwarf yet.'
'The bodies. The farmer and his family. We should bury them. And even these fowl beasts I suppose,' said Xaddadaxx.
Kalan nodded. 'And may they rest in peace,'said Kalan.
Later, when they had set up camp for the night, Xaddadaxx sat with Kalan around the fireplace. 'It is unpleasant business. Killing creatures. Even these fowl goblin's. But the darkness is coming Lord Kalan, and much killing must be done.'
'I fear you are right. It is not my first kill, and no doubt will not be the last. Yet, as you say, it is never pleasant.'
Xaddadaxx massaged Kalan's shoulder. 'Just don't go soft on us. For I fear much such killing is ahead of us, and Kaluvia needs as many brave souls as we can muster.' Kalan nodded, and as Xaddadaxx turned and pulled up his leather sleeping gown over him, Kalan first on watch, he wondered to himself just how much killing lay ahead of him. How many goblins and orcs would taste his blade before their adventures were done. Grim times indeed for Kalan Lyant, son of James, King of Kalarya.
And two travellers, from a distant place, arrived in Kaluvia, in the Iridian Jid mountains, and made camp, and settled down for a while.
'Your name is?' asked the old man.
'Garaphar will do. Been thinking about it, and it should suffice.'
'I shall be Wolfric,' said the Old Man.
'Very suitable,' said Garaphar. 'Where do we travel next?'
'A place called Haven,' said Wolfric. 'A wizard has inquiries. And a war is looming.'
'War. Wonderful,' said Garaphar. 'The end of the world I suppose.'
'Something like that,' replied Wolfric. 'So get some sleep. You'll need it.'
They stayed in a hidden valley of the Iridian Jid mountains for a number of weeks, Garaphar finding a small stream, where he washed and drank and found fish. It was a simple time in his life, a very natural time, and he enjoyed Wolfric's company. They decided to stay that winter out, instead of going straight to Haven, and Wolfric suggested they build a log cabin to keep from the cold. Garaphar managed to make an axe with a cutting stone to work through the logs, and it took some time, and effort, but they had it built soon enough. Food was eggs, and wild honey, and Garaphar did most of the hunting from a bow he had put together, and they even ate venison from time to time. It was cold, the winter, and Garaphar sensed the spirit turning as the season changed.
'How it works, here,' said Wolfric. 'Ancient prayers from the dim past focused on seasons. It was an early religious circle, druid like, and the natural order was a big thing. Their traditions still endure somewhat, but the wizards are guardians of most of the Halakah of this world now. The most respected of the clerical orders.'
'It's – older,' said Garaphar. 'The spirit. I can just tell. It's older than I've felt before. How old is this world?'
Wolfric looked at him and his eyes glazed. 'It's old enough my son. Don't worry about it.'
Time passed, and snow was heavy around the cabin one morning, and Garaphar had built up enough of a supply of food, and used the snow to keep it cold.
'We'll be leaving soon enough,' said Wolfric. 'And remember the story – we are vagrant wizards, from Karadarak. We've come to Haven to learn the ways of knowledge.'
'Gotcha,' said Garaphar.
'And whatever you do, leave out our origin, for I don't want this world corrupted by knowledge of our own. Not yet, anyway. Not for a time to come, when the Integration occurs.'
'Integration?' asked Garaphar.
'There are – a few other worlds, I have not spoken of,' said Wolfric. 'One day the universe will be one, and my civilizations integrated into the galactic culture I plan.'
'Fascinating,' said Garaphar. 'Oh, do they have an afterworld?'
Wolfric looked at Garaphar amused. 'Now that would be telling. 'Now remember. Vagrant wizards from Karadarak, come to learn from the master's of Haven.'
'I won't forget,' said Garaphar.
'Then as soon as Spring is sprung, we leave. It's not too far, but will be a number of days travel. And beware – we may encounter some fowl beasts along the way.'
'Wonderful,' said Garaphar. 'You sure know how to give a guy an adventure.'
'Without a little adventure,' finished Garaphar.
So they stayed in their log cabin that winter, and amused each other with tales of their past deeds, and soon enough spring came, and they were off, and Garaphar wondered just what he was getting himself into.
* * * * *
The mountain's were challenging, but Wolfric led the way, almost instinctively, and Garaphar followed. Wild beasts, unlike any Garaphar had ever seen, crossed their paths from time to time, but the looked at the travellers momentarily, and wondered off. There was a charm on them. Garaphar knew what that charm was. And then one afternoon, reaching the top of a climb, they looked down beneath them. The ocean. The vast ocean of this world, and Garapar, who had already been noticing the salty air, took in the magnificent view.
'We're going there,' said Wolfric, pointing down below at the base of the mountain. 'Haven. A community of wizards.'
'Lead on,' replied Garaphar.
So they descended and, as the Twilight hour came upon them, they approached the gates of the community, and guards challenged them.
'Halt, who goes there?' said one of the guards.
'Just two lonely travellers,' replied Wolfric. 'Seeking a haven after our weary journey. Might you put us up for the evening.'
The guards talked among themselves, and then came and checked Wolfric and Garaphar for weapons, before indicating they may enter.
'That was easy enough,' said Garaphar. Wolfric nodded.
They approached the main building, a large complex of strange design, and pushed in through the doors. Coming into a large hall there were figures, dressed in colourful and long flowing robes, gathered about in groups, chatting.
'The Wizards of Haven,' said Wolfric.
A wizard spied them, and came up to them.
'What? Vagrants?' he asked them.
'Lonely travellers. Come to seek wisdom from the enlightened ones,' said Wolfric. 'I am Wolfric the Blue. A dabbler in the fine arts, should I fancy myself a mage at best, but I seek knowledge of the greatest council of wizards of our world. This is Garaphar, my young apprentice, and he too seeks enlightenment.'
The wizard looked at them closely. 'Who is the guardian of the secret flame?' he asked them.
'The power of the spirit within,' replied Wolfric. The wizard nodded.
'The Will and the Word? Which is more powerful?' asked the wizard.
'They work in harmony, for one without the other is the sound of one hand clapping,' said Wolfric. The wizard nodded again, this time smiling.
'And what is the cardinal law of magic?' asked the Wizard.
Wolfric smiled. 'If it harms nobody, do as ye will,' said Wolfric.
'Welcome, guests,' said the Wizard. 'I am Alfandar. I am sure we can find you a room.'
The wizard departed, and Garaphar whispered to Wolfric. 'How did you know all that?'
Wolfric just tapped his nose.
Soon the wizard returned, and they were shown to a room, with bunk beds, and told to make themselves at home. A little while later a maidservant appeared, with colourful cloaks, and hot broth.
'Leave them in the basket by the door when you wish them washed,' said the Maiden. 'It will be taken care of.'
Wolfric thanked her, and the maiden smiled and left.
'Well, here we are,' said Wolfric.
'What next?' asked Garaphar.
'A seeker,' said Wolfric. Garaphar looked at him, a puzzled look on his face, but Wolfric said nothing, and as they turned in for the night, the wind blowing up a storm outside, Garaphar was relieved to come into a more secure environment, and, truth to tell, was enjoying his time with the old man. What would happen next, though? Well he would have to wait and see.
'Ejin. A proud city,' said the dwarf Lamgam.
'A haunted city,' replied Kalan, as the party pushed on with their horses toward the citadel.
'Aye, lad,' replied the dwarf more softly, looking at the surrounds. The knew they were there. The creatures of Yalth. All throughout the Iridian Jid ranges, and in the lowlands even. Everywhere, now. Grabbing helpless victims. Devouring daughters. Killing sons. The wrath of the Necronomicon.
'Father will want us to leave. To the continent straight away. For we must travel to Karador and see this girl of Lameth. Without the power of the Auarii, I fear, we will all end in doom,' said Roldak.
'They are truly elven, aren't they,' said Kalan, looking at Xaddadaxx.
Xaddadaxx did not speak. But then Beltaran spoke up. 'They are estranged from us. By their own choice and markings. It is a twin band around their arm, the marking. Not a single. It is what we have always known to distinguish them. It is the legend.'
'Their numbers?' asked Kalan.
'Could not be too great. For where in the world could they be? They disappeared from the world long ago, and unless in the heart of Yalth, I fear they may be just legend,' said Beltaran.
'They are not legend,' said Xaddadaxx.
Kalan looked at him, intently. 'You know of them? Don't you?'
Xaddadaxx looked directly into the eyes of Kalan. 'Even now I fear they do not care. Yalth will rise, but Yalth will fall, will be their philosophy. And their world will go on, unchanged, regardless.'
'Their world is at peril. They can't be that foolish,' said Kalan. 'They must know the threat we all face.'
'They think their magic stronger,' replied Xaddadaxx.
'Magic? I knew you were a magical folk. It is this power we will need of them.'
Xaddadaxx nodded. 'They might - assist. Yet I do not know if they will.'
'Nothing can be certain,' said Lamgam. 'Even if they are not distant history.'
The group continued on, and reached Ejin. And soon were in the presence of Earl Koldar.
'We could use you,' said the Earl. 'Your name will encourage the men. But you must go to Karador and find this bartender. She may be our only hope in the end.'
'It is another cold winter coming,' said Kalan. 'And we would not risk leaving till it is passed.'
'Then you are welcome,' said the Earl.
They gazed out at the surrounds of Ejin Citadel, and Kalan, briefly, turned north, and looked at the Iridian Jid Mountains in the distance. Death itself, now, those mountains. Surely no salvation resided there anymore. Surely none at all.
A Lost Child on the Streets of Camaar
Dulliam was 7. 7, alone, hungry and thirsty, living by the canals of the city of Camaar in the Kingdom of Francesscia, coping as well as he could. He was a bright young child, so his parent’s had told him many times. They had died, recently, in the house fire which had left him stranded. Nobody had been willing to take him in, and he had no relatives, so he ended up down by the canals near the wharves of the city, fishing with the rod he’d had to steal, and getting by as best he could.
His best friend, street rat, was 12 and had lived on the wharves as long as he could remember. He had been looked after for a while in his younger years by the old man Druknar, who had been a vagrant wandering around through Francesscia most of his days. But Druknar had died and since then street rat, who had no other name, had lived on the dirty streets of Camaar.
And now they were forming a team – a thieving team – and becoming quite adroit at their work.
* * *
‘Now, as soon as he goes to the back of the store, sneak in and grab the money bag. He is working alone today, and I am sure he won’t suspect anything. He always goes out for a drink near the end of the day. I have watched him for weeks now.’
Dulliam took in all these words of advice from Street Rat and, watching the fishmonger, was ready for his latest act of thievery. True to Street Rat’s words, the fishmonger soon wandered out the back of his store, apparently to indulge in his favourite beverage. Dulliam looked to the left and right and quietly stole into the store and climbed over the counter. He reached under the counter, pulled out the money bag, and peered inside. Full of coins – they would be rich. He looked out at Street Rat, raised the bag to show him, and Street Rat yelled ‘Now hurry, get out of there.’ Yet, as Dulliam began climbing again over the counter, the strong hands of the fishmonger grabbed him, called him a little larrikin, and took him to the back room. ‘You will be in the gaol for a while, my young thief. Whatever came into you to steal my money? Haven’t your parent’s taught you anything?’ But Dulliam remained silent. The fishmonger, not really wanting to report the lad, but not knowing what else to do, collected his coat, and closed the store, dragging the lad to the local magistrate’s office. He would let the authorities deal with this little thief, it was their job after all.
* * *
‘So, lord Radric, as you can see Francesscian Justice has become ever more effective since my reforms.’
Radric, looking through the report that King Bladrach had given him to briefly examine, nodded slowly. ‘Yes, I can see that Bladrach. Crime is down in many sectors. You have done well, it seems.’
‘It is all about having a strong hand of justice. It is what is required to run a kingdom.’
‘Yet mercy must not be lacking.’
‘It is as you say,’ responded Bladrach. ‘Well, shall we visit the magistrate then? Since we have come to Camaar we may as well sit in on a judgement, and you can see for yourself how effective Francesscian Justice has become.
‘Very well,’ responded Radric, eager to see Bladrach’s reforms at work firsthand.
* * *
Dulliam looked up at the impressive figure of the magistrate, awaiting his judgement.
‘Your crime is great, child. Yet you are still quite young. My judgement is that you will spend the rest of your youth, until adulthood, in the juvenile detention centre of Camaar. There you will learn the right way.’ Dulliam just nodded, and as the guard took him away he made no protest. At least he would be fed and have a home.
In the gallery, looking on, Radric motioned to Bladrach. ‘Can I speak with that lad? I want to ask him some questions.’
‘As you wish,’ responded the King
Coming into a pBrittoriate chamber, Dulliam was puzzled. The chamber was very expensive looking, and he wondered why he should be brought to such a place. Suddenly the door opened and an impressive looking man dressed in fine clothes entered the room, coming to sit down next to him.
‘Tell me, young Dulliam, where have you come from? They have been unable to locate your parent’s, apparently.’
Dulliam, though, remained silent. He had not spoken yet of his parents, and refused all questioning. Radric, sensing the child might be an orphan, softened his voice. ‘Are your parent’s gone from you? Gone to the grave? You can tell me Dulliam. I am only here to help you.’
Dulliam, looking up at the kind figure, finally nodded.
Radric looked at the child, a spirit of pity and compassion suddenly coming over him, and just then he knew exactly what request he wanted to make of Bladrach.
* * *
As the chariot sped along the Great Northern Road, Dulliam looked out excitedly at the scenery. He was now off on a new adventure, a new life, rescued by the man called Radric. He did not know what the future held, or where he would be this time next week, but it was better than living on the canals of Camaar, or stuck in a juvenile detention centre. And looking up at the man Radric seated next to him Dulliam sensed he had just begun a new destiny, a new life, and things would never be quite the same again.
The Thieves of Upper Gralt
and Justogo were incompetent thieves on a good day. They had
been the bane of the baron of Upper Gralt’s Marshall for many a
year, but today, so they told each other, the plot couldn’t
fail. They would steal pies – pies from Fendak the baker
– and feed themselves on them for a solid month.
Fendak had gained a reputation as Upper Gralt’s finest baker, one in a long family line of traditional bakers, and their store had been in business for centuries. But when Fendak returned from a lunch break just over the road at the local tavern to find that morning’s assortment of pies no longer staying warm on top of the oven, he suspected foul play. Who had stolen his pies?
Ringtack the local Marshall had a number of likely suspects, and Blindrak and Justogo’s names were mentioned amongst them, but proving the case would be difficult.
It was then an old fellow, who had visited Fendak from time to time, arrived on the scene, gravely disappointed to not find any more pies for an afternoon snack. When Fendak had declared the pies had been stolen, the old wizard Baltakon, beside himself with desire for yet another of those delicious Graltian pies, tried his own trade to find the culprits – magic.
He took out a wand, waved it at the top of the oven and, the Marshall and the Baker following, they left the bakery and trudged half way across town to a second rate doss house, were, upon the marshal bursting through one of the room doors on the first level, they found two sleeping thieves, and a cupboard full of pies.
Well, Baltakon was most pleased, was rewarded with a number of the pies for his diligent service, and Blindrak and Justogo found themselves, yet again, in the custody of the Marshall of Upper Gralt.
Later on, reflecting on their briefly lived good fortune, Justogo could only say to Blindrak, well at least we won’t need to eat for a week or so, to which Blindrak glumly nodded, before burping on the recently digested meal of chicken and vegetable pies.
Life in Upper Gralt
was a simple Francesscian. A life of remarkable normalcy,
really, apart from the grand day he, as a youth in his father’s
service, had been presented to King Bladrach who had been touring the
kingdom. But while the King had remarked that the pastries of
the finest baker of Upper Gralt were truly tasty, and had wondered
who had made such delicacies, he had not taken a great deal of
interest when Fendak himself was presented. But it had been a
big deal for Fendak, and he had informed all and sundry for many
years since of his marvellous meeting with the noble monarch.
These days, instead, he delighted in his tasty pastries, as his substantial girth truly testified to. But Fendak didn’t care.
Upper Gralt was in the heart of Francesscia, not far from Erat. Not a great deal happened in this village. But it didn’t need to as far as Fendak was concerned. He liked the simple, basic life, and the things of glory which the Overlord of the West, Lord Radric, had pursued in his life – well such things were for Pawns of Prophecy, not for the likes of simple old Fendak.
One morning, rising early for the baking, an old man appeared at the front of the store, eager to be let in. Fendak always took a sale when he could, as his father had trained him for many long years to make as much money as he could, so answered the request of the old man for admittance into the store.
The old man inspected the pastries, and suddenly another one appeared, seeming similar in many ways, but a hunchback.
‘Well, Baltakon. What shall it be? This bakery has made fine food for centuries, a well established family tradition I believe.’
‘Yes sir,’ interrupted Fendak. ‘Our family has run this bakery for well over 500 years. We are proud of our tradition.’
‘Then the food must be good,’ commented the hunchbacked Baltakon. ‘I will take you at your word Baltazaar. Anything will do.’
The man, apparently named Baltazaar, chose two pies, paid for them, and the two of them, sitting out on the front of the store, consumed their pies hastily.
Fendak, getting back to work, thought on his life. It really was a simple life, really. Feeding hungry old men. It would be something, though, if some grand figure of the West, someone like old King Bladrach, came and dined at his bakery some time. It would indeed be something. But Upper Gralt was not exactly on the hit list for the finery of the West after all, was it? No, of course not, thought Fendak to himself, and got back to his work, the two men out the front of the bakery finishing off their tasty pies.
Stuck in Erat
was a regular type of young lady. Full of dreams about boys,
fantasies of being the bell of the Erat society scene, hopes of
marrying prince charming but, despite her best wishes, still stuck in
the most lowly of occupations as being a washer woman to bring home
finances for her often hungry family. She had 3 brothers, 3
sisters, an ancient and sick father who could no longer work, and a
mother who was always beside herself with her worries. It
seemed for young Jennavere that she was stuck – stuck here in
Erat in the nation of Francesscia – destined to live out her
life as a washer woman, loved by none, providing for her siblings
And then one day something changed.
And old and ancient man, wrinkled beyond belief, showed up at the laundry were she slaved away, muttering something about the frustrations of being alive again. She asked him his name and wether he had washing to do. He replied that he was the wizard Belsambar and, yes, he did have some washing for her to take care of.
As she sat there the old man began muttering on about his once past life as a wizard of glory from the Valley of Legroot, and she just smiled at his senility. A wizard indeed.
She continued washing away, doing her work, when he said something she never forgot. ‘And what do you want, dear Jennavere? Of all the things you could wish in life, what do you wish for the most?’
She looked at him, sighed, and responded. ‘Oh, I don’t know. In the end I guess I am content with my lot in life. Certainly, it’s not an easy life, but I know I am doing the right thing sticking by my family and caring for my elderly father. Really, I couldn’t wish for anything apart from his good health and the family’s prosperity.’
The wizard nodded knowingly. He understood human dilemma.
‘Very well. I shall consult with Legroot, and you shall have your wishes come true.’
She handed him his briefs and coat, smiled. ‘Be sure to say hello from me.’
He nodded, got to his feet, and meandered away.
‘What a strange old man,’ she thought to herself.
The thing is, it didn’t happen suddenly, but gradually over the next few months and year’s things began to improve in the life of Jennavere. Against all hope her father simply got better and went back to work at his old firm. His mother’s attitude improved, and her two eldest brothers found very good employment with a local merchant. And all of a sudden they had good finances and were even considering moving to a better part of town.
In fact, they did so, and her dreams started coming true. She met prince charming at an uptown boutique store, who invited her to the Earl of Erat’s next ball. He gave her a lump sum for a pretty dress and her mother fussed over her no end the night before the ball.
She became the toast of the town, and married her prince charming. And the life of the washer woman was forgotten forever.
Then, later, an old man wandered into a familiar laundry, looked at a desperate washerwoman, and said ‘Share me your woes, dear lady.’ And the rest, as they say, is history.
From the Life of Radric
(From the ‘Beloreon’ era - between the ‘Belgariad’ and the ‘Malloreon’)
surveyed the forest. He knew there were rabbits in large
quantity and, suddenly, spying one, he released his Falcon
‘Bronzeclaw’ and it flew swiftly, cornered the frightened
creature, and nabbed it, returning to Radric.
He petted Bronzeclaw, making that familiar noise with his throat which seemed to make the bird happy. He fed it some meat, small enough chunks to pass the ring around its throat, and returned to his party. He’d had enough hunting for the day.
As Overlord of the West, slayer of Deathroot, Radric had a fearsome reputation amongst the people of the Isle of the Winds. This week he was inland, staying at a lodge of respectable elder of the land, enjoying his Kingship. They had been out hunting for a while and ‘Durant’, the elder, had provided a Falcon for Radric, sharing the noise which the Falcon responded to well. And he had taken an instant liking to ‘Bronzeclaw’, for she was magnificent.
These were quiet days, now, in the time of the west. It seems as if a climax of millennia of expectations had been reached, and now a quite aftermath followed. But, still, there was something in Radric’s heart which told him his adventures were not quite finished with yet. Not just yet.
As they returned to the lodge he petted his bird. Hunting with a bird was, of course, a traditional role of the King. And he tried his best to live up to his Kingly expectations. The people needed a King of the people, so his grandfather Baltazaar reminded him. Someone after their own heart. And Radric tried his best to live up to his grandfather’s expectations, even if at times he felt himself lacking.
Ce’Nedra was always a handful, and had been ever more unfathomable of late, moaning about this and that. But such were a woman’s ways, and perhaps especially a Spannian woman’s.
He looked at his falcon. Perhaps the Falcon had concerns, as all creatures likely did. Worrying about its meals, its mates. Perhaps they were its concerns. But, for Radric, he wondered could the life of a Bronze Falcon truly be as complicated as King of the West? He truly wondered that indeed.
Karnik was a citizen of Francesscia, living in the city of Darine on the gulf of Sharkroot. He was a simple man, a fisherman. And he lived a simple life and had simple ways. He worked in the afternoons bringing in the fish from the gulf, because his permit only permitted him afternoon fishing, not the morning allotment, which was reserved for those of the Darine Fishing Guild, which he had been barred entrance to for grave violations of procedures in younger years. As such, his harvest was not always as good as those of the morning, but his family got by none the less. Karnik had two daughters, strong daughters, who were nearly ready to come out fishing with him, and a lame son, whose legs didn't work properly. Dunkar was the pride of Karnik's life, regardless, as the lad showed competency in scholarly pursuits, and in the chair with wheels the engineering school of Darine had provided for Dunkar, upon the lad's own design, he managed to get around somwhat. He wanted to work on the Darine council, so he maintained. Even a cripple can have a future, Karnik thought to himself, if he didn't give up hope.
Karnik's two daughters were Estla and Jandy. They were the pride of his life, but his wife loved them with all her heart. His wife maintained the family home, a pretty lady, with a good figure still, despite her three children, and Karnik thanked the gods of the Alorns for providing him with such a good wife.
One morning, Karnik was scrubbing off barnacles from the bottom of his fishing boat, which had been raised up on land, and his daughter Estla was busy working with him.
'Father. One day, when I am working with you, will I be able to register with the guild? Perhaps they might accept me.'
'Only if you are married to another registered man,' replied Karnik. 'What, have you met someone in those outings you and your sister go to?'
Estla remained silent.
'You know, father, I have never minded this work. Since 12 when you brought me in, I have worked faithfully with you.'
'And I have appreciated it,' he responded. 'Would be lost without you both, especially as Dunkar can not involve himself, may the gods have mercy on him.'
'Yes,' she replied. 'But, if I were to ever, you know, find someone. And was led elsewhere, you would cope wouldn't you?'
He looked at her, and softened. 'Francesscia is a busy nation, with lots of growing enterprises. If you find a man with a prospering trade, you have my blessing.'
'Thank you father,' she said, and continued on with their hard work.
'Father. Do you ever wonder if King Radric will visit Darine? We have been promised a visit for many years now.'
'I am sure the king is busy enough,' responded Karnik. 'Don't go losing yourself in fantasies of royalty, daughter. Ours is a simple life.'
'Yes,' she replied. 'But wouldn't it be wonderful. To live in Brittoria and dine with Kings and Queens. All the world at your disposal, and everything you could ever want.'
'And mad god's called Deathroot ready to slay you at a moment's notice,' chided Karnik.
'Yes father,' she responded, and returned to her work.
After a while she began speaking again.
'Imagine being a wizard. Like Baltazaar. With all that power, and all those spells. It would be amazing. Doing magic. Amazing.'
'And you would live alone in an ivory tower in Joyland, and the birds would be your only company,' responded Karnik. 'Now stop this daydreaming, and get back to work.'
'Yes father,' she replied sombrely.
After a while though, yet again.
'Imagine being the serpent Queen of Gibraltaria. Everyone would fear you and you could have all that power and fame.'
Karnik had had enough.
'Imagine beink Karnik fisherman of Darine. With the most airy fairy daughters in all the world, who can NEVER keep their minds on their job.'
Estla giggled. 'Sorry father. I'll get to work.'
But after a while.
But as soon as she spoke, her father bellowed 'ESSTTLAAA!'
Not a peep she made the rest of the morning, and looked softly at her father all the time because of it.
And so life passed on in Darine, and none of the citizens of Francesscia were wiser to the imaginations of Estla, daughter of Karnik. None at all.
Daughter of the Barrens
Zebna Sheldath lived in the Barrens in north-west Asia, away from civilization, in desolate world of frugal living and isolationism. But that is how her father liked it. He was in exile from Francesscia, and had crossed the land bridge 20 years ago with his young family, but gone north, and not south, and found a somewhat less barren part of the barrens, with a small stream, and some wild goats. They had gathered the goats, and had regular milk, and with the seed he had brought, sowed potatoes and pumpkins and other vegetables, and, as time passed, lived on goat's milk, cheese, meat and whatever vegetables grew in their harsh climate. It was cold in winter, very cold, but Zebna didn't mind. She was used to that now. There was not a boy to marry in all the world, of course, and at 25 she was a young maiden with no prospects. Bur father had promised, one day, one day he would venture down south to Asia proper and find a husband for his daughter, one who didn't mind the barrens, and the extremes of life.
Zebna made string from goats hide, and one of her jobs was to use that string and sow goat's hides together to make clothing and bedding and footwear. She was good at it after many years, and while, in many ways she felt angry at her father, she kept that anger in check, and prayed to Ul, which the family called their own god, and asked him to forgive her for her abrupt attitude towards her dad. She was sure he did.
And then, one day, they walked in. Two vagrant sort of looking fellas, one younger, and one older, and they said they had come to judge Zebna, for they were judges of Ul.
'My daughter is innocent. She has not known a man,' said Zebna's father.
The old man looked at the man, and nodded. 'But it is her soul we want to look at. Let her speak.'
Zebna was cautious. 'I. I am 25. I have not known a man. But I have not known anything in this forsaken place we call home. I never have. I am bitter. In my heart I am bitter at my parents, but I have finally come to accept that this is life. That this is my lot in it all. And that dad will find my husband from Asia, but even then, I will never leave this place.'
The old man looked at her, but it was the younger who spoke.
'You have spoken your heart. Are you angry at your father?'
'But can you forgive him?' asked the young man.
Zebna looked at her father and softened. 'I love my father. You must know that. With all my heart. And while this life is too much, one might think for any girl from Francesscia, I accept the fate the gods have given us, and will endure it to the end.'
The two doomsayers consulted.
'You are a worthy daughter of your father,' said the old man. 'He is rightly proud of you, as I can tell he is.'
'Thank you,' said Zebna.
They left then, and as the year passed, and her father returned from the south with a competent man of working abilities, but a little thick, she did not complain. He was attractive enough, and pledged his undying love.
And, as the years passed, and Zebna had her own family, she remembered her judgement, and remembered that, in an impossible world of gods and strange destinies, even Zebna Sheldath must walk the pathway given to her.
A Proud Son of Francesscia
you, Jacon. What do you think of Francesscia’s role in
Jacon was an intelligent young 18 year old Francesscian, hailing from Erat, but now studying at Camaar.
‘I think Francesscia has much to offer the world, Hemlyn. Our wines are universally acknowledged as the best the west has to offer. We have fruit and vegetables found nowhere else, and our bakers are amongst the finest there is. But, I feel, our destiny is in ‘Palagon’. I feel if we promote our premiere sport to the world, as we have been gradually doing, Francesscian fame will last forever. Rumour has it that even King Radric in his youth at Frederick’s farm played a variant of Palagon while it was in its younger years of developments.’
‘I am not sure if Palagon stretches back that many centuries, Jacon, but possibly. Never the less, you have answered well.’
Jacon sat there in his university class, pleased at himself. He had answered well, and thought he had made a positive contribution.
Later on, after class, he sat in the library doing his studies and opposite him sat down a girl, about 19, with a book on ancient legends. It had a picture of King Radric in his prime on it, and Jacon was instantly interested.
‘What are you looking up,’ he asked the girl.
‘Oh, nothing in particular. Just taking a break from my regular studies.’
‘I like the picture of King Radric on the cover.’
She turned to it. Yes. Yes, it is a good one. But I am one of those who wonder, you know, if he will ever return from the far reaches of Zhadora.’
‘Eventually, I think,’ responded Jacon. ‘But the west is prospering these days under the Royal Family of Brittoria, and while the ancient patriarchs are gone from us yet to return, we are sufficing. We are doing well.’
‘Yes. Yes we are,’ she responded. My name is Jantie. What is your name?’
‘Oh, really. That is my brother’s name as well.’
‘Small world,’ he responded.
They continued chatting about this and that and Jacon found himself making a new friend. Always a good thing, he thought to himself.
Outside the world of Camaar and Francesscia continued on, as it had done so for many ages, going through its life and progress in both cultural and technological advances. It was a new world Francesscia was embracing, a world of continuing advances in science, and great advances in economics and industry. It was a brave new world in many ways, and a world of great hope and opportunity for a proud young Francesscian such as Jacon, son of Jaldo.
'What is it?' asked Jantie.
'It's an ancient artefact,' said Jacon, about the Gemstone which he was holding.
'It's like the Gemstone,' she said. 'King Radric's Gemstone.'
'It's not the same,' said Jacon. 'I was given it. By an old man. A man with an ancient looking face in many ways, but he was only about 60. Said his name was Baltakon, and I had been entrusted to be the 'Gatherer'.'
'Gatherer? Of what?'
'I don't know, Jantie. But he also said that this was one of 70 brothers and sisters. That's what he called them. And that many were supposedly good, and some evil, and some neither good nor bad. They were special stones, so he said. And the future of the world is found in them.'
'Amazing,' said Jandie. 'What are you going to do with it?'
'I don't know. But I will keep it. Baltakon said he would return to visit me again in a while, and would give me further information on what I am supposed to do with this. It could be fantastic whatever it is.'
Jantie touched his shoulder. 'You don't think you could be getting into something you can't get out of. Look at all the perils King Radric went through. He had to fight wars and, after all was done, still kill a god to find peace. With something like that in your life, Jacon, you will never find any rest.'
'But how can we escape our destiny?' asked the youth.
'I don't know,' she repsonded.
'Nor do I,' he said fearfully.
Jacon looked at the Gemstone all that week as he went about his last year's studies at Camaar University. He anxiously waited for Baltakon, who did not yet show, and as he studied the Gemstone, and grew familiar with it, he felt this strange sense of comfort in its presence. Like, somewhere inside his head, it was talking to him, making friends with him, letting him know he was trusted and valued. But how could that be? How could something as impossible as that ever really happen? He studied the Gemstone, and continued on his studies, and, as he finished his year, and gained his degree, he made his farewells to Jantie, and promised to visit her soon enough, as he made his way back to his home of Erat.
Yet the Gemstone was always on his mind, and as he found suitable work in Erat, his parents being rightly proud of him, he could sense, in his heart, there was a destiny at work. Some strange new destiny, which involved his own special Gemstone, and a fight between the powers which be which would shape Francesscia and the world for all time to come.
Excerpt from the sacred, holy and hidden text ‘The Heart of Creation’, revealed to the High Priest of the Ulchemites, from the face of Ulche, after the smiting of ‘Savagar’.
…Before the beginning of things, Ul was alone. He existed in solitude, in perfect peace, in harmony with himself. And then new life and creation entered the heart and mind of Ul, and he foresaw what would be.
The Seven ‘Gods’ were to be the heart of Creation, yet rivalry and war were inevitable….. A sacred stone divided them, and Ul split the stone asunder for purposes he would not speak of. Yet, in the fullness of time, such stones would see their destiny, and the fate of life would be chosen one way or another. The Seven gods were part of the making of many worlds, yet on one world they settled their hearts, and it became the centre of their attention and the heart of their desires.
Deathroot strove with Legroot, yet ‘Yavagar’ smote him in its judgement, as Ul knew it would, for such had been his forethoughts. Yet ‘Savagar’ lusted after Deathroot’s purposes, and fell to earth in Klamid to achieve his aims. For ‘Savagar’ had long striven with ‘Yavagar’, and in them the embodiment of goodness found home in ‘Yavagar’ and the embodiment of evil found home in ‘Savagar’. And these were the two primal and opposing forces of the ‘One Stone’. Yet they were not alone, for 70 divisions of the stone had come forth, even if the power of the other 68 could not rival the fame and grandeur of ‘Savagar’ and ‘Yavagar’. Yet these ‘Starstones’ as Ul had called them were to be instrumental in the future and destiny of the world.
With the defeat and smiting of ‘Savagar’ by ‘Yavagar’, peace prevailed at last. But in the nature of life conflict does not simply cease, for life is a turmoil of emotion and vibrancy, and destiny always answers in the most unexpected ways. And, soon, Yavagar shall be alive in flesh, as she has long desired, but ‘Savagar’ will be born anew, retreating to its prior host before the fateful choice was made, and seeking her will, in time, to be born alive into the future of the world. But such a reawakening is for a time to come.
Yet, before the ‘One Stone’ was formed, there were two principles established from which the ‘One Stone’ found its balance. ‘Light’ and ‘Dark’. Yet they were not a ‘Light’ and ‘Dark’ of moral nature, but ones of the natural order, preceding such morals, by which life was undertaken. And the ‘Sunstone’ of light was chosen to guard a particular people, and the ‘Moonstone’ was chosen to guard yet others. And these greater and lesser lights would serve man and be the way in which he would see and live his life.
Yet the Doomsayers would one day seek their destiny, coming from the earlier worlds of Ul’s creation, and they would come to the world, and seek its judgement after the fateful battle between Yavagar and Savagar had taken place. For they would judge the world for the good and evil it had done.
Only the guardian of the Moonstone, ‘The Oracle of Justice’, could speak in the worlds defense, yet he would only do so should ‘Savagar’ choice show signs of remorse. And, nay, only if Savagar prior choice likewise soften in heart. And then, in such repentance and sorrow, Savagar would be forgiven and reborn, and he would know the heart of Yavagar, and the world divided would be again as one.
And if such came to pass, the guardian of the Sunstone would consent to dwell with the children of men, for such would be the fate of the ‘Oracle of Love’.
And then, in time, the destiny of the other 68 ‘Starstones’ would manifest, throughout the ages of men, and chart their eternal destiny in the plans of Ul, the one who is…
Deathroot Brooded. Ul had chided him again and again, yet the god of destruction paid no heed. He cared not. His slaying had been the ultimate act of humiliation, unable to escape the prophecy of destiny that Ul had been mastermind behind. And now he brooded, caught up in a deathly afterlife, tormented by his father, unable to see any of his brethren.
And then, the gods took council, and forgave Deathroot, deeming he had learned his lesson. But Ul knew more wisely.
Sitting in the abode of darkness, beyond all light, Deathroot looked at the helpless figure, caught up in her wickedness. And an idea permeated his mind, and idea of revenge, wrath and delusion. And the Mad God Deathroot looked upon this figure and the name ‘Belzandretta’ entered his head. And then he chuckled with a most evil chuckle, and a new prophecy began forming in the mind of Ul, the eternal God.
* * * * *
Radric studied the Tora Codex. Sapphira, in the background, was busily at work, as had become her manner, preparing the nightly meal. It was simple now, Belgarian thought to himself. Very simple. Here he was, living on Frederick’s farm, away from the limelight of Brittoria and Kingship, which had been turned over to BelJames. For he had, in a way, abdicated to choose the simple life. The life he had been brought up with, when things were innocent and new. When, perhaps, he had been a more naïve lad, unaware of prophecies and Gemstones and Mad god’s called Deathroot.
He had craved this for so long, living in Brittoria, with all his responsibilities. And, while for so long it had seemed as if the glory of Kingship would be a glory to last forever, something had seemed lacking. And so, Sapphira in tow, he had returned to Francesscia, purchased the land and farm, and reclaimed his lost youth. And he had never, really, been happier.
In fact, he was Radric again. He had made a decision, a simple decision, that Radric was who he was, and that the power of Bel did not need to claim his heart. Radric was his name, and that would suffice.
He looked over at the Gemstone, sitting on the mantelpiece, glowing calmly and happily. It was like that these days, radiating warmth and friendliness. Teaching him, in his dreams and waking hour’s simpler things of life. Simpler things which took over from the grand epics of glory. And he was content in these simpler things, happily residing with Sapphira, occasionally partaking of visitors of his old friends.
Mr Wolf came every now and again, and Aunt Penidwael. They came, chatting about this and that, often in heated disputation. But that was the charming life he knew in those two and, seemingly, things would never change.
He left off his studies and walked to the window, looking out at the farm. He remembered those days long ago, of bokking chickens and mooing cows. And how simple and easy life had been under Frederick’s guidance and Shamannaki’s steady walk. And thinking how good those simpler things were, a knock came to the door, and destiny intruded once more on the life of Radric, son of James.
Taking the message from the deliverer, Radric re-entered the house, and sat down to read it.
‘Things of life are never seen to eyes in shadowy realm,
By this it seems I truly mean the dark is where I dwell.
Your life is forfeit, deathly foe, my vengeance will be sure,
When death’s dark blade of purest might comes knocking on your door.’
An excerpt from the ‘Chronicle of Deathroot’
And that was all the message read.
‘Who was at the door, Radric?’
‘Uh, just a message Sapphira.’
‘I don’t think so.’
He looked at the message again and considered its origin. It was a prank, surely. Surely a prank. He had never heard of the Chronicle of Deathroot and believed it some fraud, the product of a grudge from an old enemy of the king. Surely that was all it was. But he would show it to Baltazaar when he next visited and ask his grandfathers opinion. He would not be too hasty to throw out this message – life had taught him caution, and ignoring threats was not always the best and wisest course of action.
He put it away, in a drawer, and went off to dinner. But it was on his mind all that night – most definitely on his mind.
* * * * *
Unreal. Unalive. Unbeing. Unknown. Undead. But now, suddenly, aware. Aware of herself and a name – a name which, somehow, was not quite what it had been, but was now something new. Born again, as it where, from a spirit of unbeing to a spirit of power, madness and wrath. Most definitely a spirit of wrath.
Belzandretta surveyed her surroundings. They looked familiar yet not. A mountain, a large mountain, covered with grass and trees. Yet, looking down to the base, ice everywhere. Nothing but ice as far as she could see. And then, turning her head, she surveyed the entire circumference of the mountain – a neverending parade of ice, in all directions. She was stranded. Yet, quickly, the instincts came to the fore. Finely tuned survival instincts, from a spirit of life carefully guided to the fulfilment of darkness, as she knew so truly. And then, a thought. A boy. A Man. A King. Radric, yes, that was his name. And another, a seeress. A seeress who had made a dreadful choice and vanquished her as a result. And then, peering into her own heart, she found the secret. The dreadful, wicked secret, some being had placed there.
‘Don’t be so obvious’, it had said. ‘Don’t be so obvious.’ And then she delighted in the dark, amazing evil in her soul. And vengeance seemed so pleasant. So deliciously pleasant.
* * * * *
‘How far you have fallen, Goldrun. How far you have fallen.’
‘Don’t call me that. It’s Charm, okay. Like the old days.’
Samson nodded. ‘So, what’s next for the prince of thieves? What next?’
‘I have business in Asia. Up north. There is a merchantman who has an item, a particular item, which is of interest to myself.’
‘A Scroll. A scroll, just emerged. Baltakon mentioned it. Said it is a new one, but an old one. Gave me some confusing explanation. Wants me to obtain it – said he’d make it worth my while.’
‘Then to Asia it is. Oh, and can we avoid going through Arabbia like the last time. I don’t want to run into Jandok. His threats were not nice, Charm. Not nice.’
‘The prettiness of Arabbiaian maidens if often hard to resist, dear Samson, especially for one as smooth as myself. And now that I am alone again, well, she was willing and wanting and I could not say no.’
‘As befits a prince of your kind,’ said Samson, a grin on his face.
‘Oh, shut up.’
‘Where in Asia?’
‘Just across from the land bridge, up near the coast. A small village, Lameth. This merchantmen trades in pearls and gold and silver, but has interest in things religious and prophetical. Apparently he acquired the scroll from a mad priest, dressed in brown robes, muttering something about the end of the world. A ‘Doomsayer’ he called him.’
‘Doomsayer? What is all that about?’
‘No idea Samson,’ responded Charm. ‘But I surmise we will find out soon enough.’
‘Then to Asia it is. Are you paying for the ale?’
Charm gave him a look, was about to suggest something rather rude as to Samson’s current lack of funds, but went and paid for the ale. Exiting the inn from somewhere in southern Arendia they returned to their horses, and got under way. Looking at the sun, which was late in sky, Charm thought over his life. He was ageing, now. Much older. But adventure was still in the heart of Goldrun and he sensed with this scroll something new in the air. Something that was fundamental to all Alorns and Wildersons as well. Something quite fundamental.
* * * * *
Penidwael sat on the donkey as her father led it carefully through the dark, enchanted forest. ‘I don’t think I have been to this part of Karanda before. Are you sure this is the right place?’
‘You keep asking, Pol. Have a little faith. Baltakon insisted that the monastery, as they call it, was around here somewhere. Deep into the forest.’
‘Alright, I’ll trust you. I don’t like it, but for once old fool I will give you a break.’
They travelled on through the dark twilight. Somehow, despite it being bright and sunny outside the forest, they seemed to have entered a twilight realm. A realm beyond Asia, almost otherlike. Yet, presumably, always having been there. He remembered what Baltakon said.
‘When you cross beyond the edge of nothing, remember you will find darkness there. A darkness which Deathroot himself feared. So beware.’
Baltazaar laughed to himself. High drama was not always the way of Baltakon, but something had happened to him just recently. An encounter with Ul which had changed him. A dark, dramatic encounter, in which the Father God had given him portents of destruction to chill the bones.
As they walked along, the leaves rustling in the wind, both of them feeling as if dark eyes were watching them, eyes set on malevolence, eyes foreboding trouble, eyes with no good will. But perhaps they were just whispers of darkness, and perhaps that is all they were. Baltazaar was old, now, ancient in many ways. But here, beyond the edge of nothing, he sensed something he had never quite encountered. A spirit, an aura, which could perhaps be only called evil. Or haunting at the very least.
He thought back to younger years, years encountering dark wizards and evil sorcerers. Years in which his knowledge, skill and talents had been put to the test. Yet somehow, in this dark place, his faith in his abilities had vanished, and it was with tender treading of foot that this warrior wizard walked onwards, carefully guiding the donkey, hoping not to disturb those dark whispers who wanted no disturbance.
And then, a clearing, and safety. For there, rising up in front of them, apparently what could only be the monastery and a lake beside it, with the most beautiful garden of trees.
‘Thank the Gemstone,’ said Penidwael, as they came out of the dark into the light.
‘This, then, looks like the place,’ said Baltazaar.’
‘I would surmise as much myself, father.’
They continued to walk on, coming to the monastery itself, with large wooden doors. Baltazaar looked around. ‘We knock I suppose.’
‘I would consider that a good idea,’ said Penidwael sarcastically.
Baltazaar knocked and they waited. After 5 minutes of patience, no response forthcoming, he knocked again, but still no answer. Frustrated he came to sit down next to Penidwael who had just returned with 2 pieces of fruit from the garden, and handing one to her father, began eating.
‘Perhaps they are busy, or absent at the moment.’
‘Should we enter?’ inquired Penidwael.
‘I’m not sure. They might consider that rude. Karandan’s are always difficult to understand.’
‘If they are Karandan’s. We don’t know were these doomsayers come from – they are so different, so other, to anything I have ever encountered.’
‘They come from Karadarak, and speak of ‘Auarii’,’ responded Baltazaar. I have conversed with one in some detail. This is the next chosen ‘Realm’ as they call it to suffer the ‘Testing’.
‘What are you speaking of old man?’
‘They are now Karandan’s by choice, so they claim. But they are other in origin. An origin not of our world. The place, ‘Karadarak’ is on another world, another planet, were a testing took place. A testing in which the inhabitants came through on their faith. They passed the testing and the ‘Doomsayers’ have now come here. For we are the next world on their agenda.’
‘Why have you not shared this with me before?’
‘The time is right now, daughter. You did not need to know previously.’
She looked at him, thought of arguing, but then thought better of it. ‘So, what was it that Baltakon asked of Charm?’
‘He is acquiring a scroll for us. Part of a new Chronicle. A new Chronicle which is part of an ancient Chronicle. Something beyond time and space.’
‘You speak in riddles. Become clear to me father.’
‘Baltakon speaks of words Ul shared with him, but will say nothing more than that which I have said. Nothing much more, that is.’
She looked at him, just shook her head, and took another bite of her fruit.
‘Besides, you are still young daughter. Not ready, I think, for such things as I would speak of. For I fear your impetuosity in confronting that which you are not ready for.’
‘I am near as old as you, old man. Do not speak to me like a child.’
He came over, held her by the shoulders, and spoke softly. ‘But you are my child, Penidwael. You have always been as such, and I love you dearly. And I would not lose you for your headstrong attitudes. I would not lose you.’
Penidwael softened, and looked at him. ‘Yes, I understand.’
They sat there, after a while taking a drink from the well, and having a look around. The building was quite large, like Baltazaar’s own tower, and similar in spirit in some ways. But after they gently tried opening the front doors, which appeared to be the only way in, and finding them locked, they were becoming quite frustrated. And then Baltazaar noticed a button of sorts, a metallic button near the door. Coming over to it he pushed it, and with some effort it went in and immediately a bell inside the door began ringing.
‘We should have known that,’ said Penidwael.
‘Perhaps we are just getting old,’ responded Baltazaar.
Within a few moments they heard footfalls on the other side of the door, and a window opened with a man looking at them. He gazed at them, said nothing though, and then closed the window. Shortly though the door opened and he came out to greet them, dressed in long brown robes.
‘I am Napier. Are you the wizard? Are you Baltakon?’
‘Close,’ responded Baltazaar. ‘I am Baltazaar, his associate.’
Napier nodded. ‘Good, good. Then please come in. We would have words with you, Baltazaar. We would have words with you.’ With those words said Napier turned and entered the monastery, and Baltazaar, giving Penidwael a cautious look, followed Penidwael into the unknown.
* * * * *
Charm looked at the ship. ‘Are you sure it’s safe?’
‘It might be old, but I am sure it will get us there. Don’t worry Charm. Don’t worry.’
‘Yes, don’t worry.’ They boarded the ‘Old Warrior’, as the ship was called, and Juntarr the captain gave them a nod, happy to have paying customers. The ship set sail a few hours later, and as they made their way towards Asia, the sea air in his lungs, Charm considered the future. Dark times lay ahead, it seemed, for the world. Dark times in which many would fear and worry. Common souls, not given over to concerns of prophecies and mad gods. Common souls, caught up in a frenzy of fear. This is what Baltakon spoke of, what the doomsayers spoke of. A time of testing, a time of worry. As they sailed along, Samson handing him a leg of chicken and a mug of apple cider, Charm gave quiet thought to his own view on what Baltakon had raised. Ul was approaching a new time in the realm of the gods, and choices were being made. Choices of life and death. There was a place prepared for the Alorns and the Wildersons and the Asians. And a place prepared for those of the other continents, Yulenthea and Junissa. But a testing was to come – a testing from these dread doomsayers. And to gain that place in the life hereafter, only those whose faith was sure would see the testing through. And this testing of faith, which Baltakon spoke of, coming from the eldest god, was to sort them out. To make men of them. To bring forth a new world, unlike the old one, the one passing away, the one to be gone forever. Charm trusted Ul, though he knew him not, but the new world dawning. What that spoke of? Well, time would tell.
He sat down, drinking his mug of ale, smiling to himself. Life was good again, now. He was old, but felt young. Felt young in his spirit, alive to life. A quiet joy was in his heart, and things were good again. The vigour of youth was still in his bones, and Samson, as always, a brave companion through which he saw the struggles of life. Yes life was good, but the testing was at hand. And a quiet prayer to Ul was upon him later that night as he prepared for the trials of the heart.
* * * * *
Belzandretta found the cave after a week of eating berries and drinking snow. It led for a lengthy mile, illuminated by glowing rock. In the heart of the mountain she found the well. A pool, crystal clear, with liquid bluey green in colour. It wasn’t water. It wasn’t something she was at all familiar with. But it seemed to be all that this mountain had to offer and so, not thinking any thing could possibly go wrong, put her hand in the pool and stirred the water, almost instinct-like. And then something happened. Voices began speaking, quickly, many of them, mostly female, but the occasional male. And then, suddenly, springing up out of the pool little boxes of light, boxes in which faces were seen. And then, after a while, these faces were the voices speaking. They danced through the cave, some chasing each other, some having fun and laughing, some buzzing around over Belzandretta’ head. And then, seemingly satisfied, they came and hovered over Belzandretta, and looked at her. A male spoke. ‘Bellie, bellie, bellie. You do look pretty, don’t you.’ Belzandretta remained silent. ‘Well, no matter. No matter.’
A female spoke. ‘So, what next Belzandretta? Do you know?’
Belzandretta spoke. ‘Vengeance.’
‘And why?’ asked the male.
Belzandretta was about to answer, but softened, and sat on the floor to think about that. After a few moments of contemplation she began to sense something changing in her mind, something from a new choice she had made. A wiser choice. ‘Power, then. Ruling all, being goddess of glory?’
‘Why?’ asked a female.
Again, she thought on the answer, the most obvious one, but then considered it.
‘Well, it would be mine to decide the fate of all who are. They could be crushed by my merest whim.’
‘Sounds good,’ said a voice, and flew away to look over the cave.
‘So that is what you want then?’ asked the woman again.
Belzandretta looked at her, softened again, and thought of something new.
‘Then what do you suggest I seek, spirits of wisdom?’
‘That really is up to you. But some things are better than others. Some things are wiser than others. Some things last longer than others. And a matter of the heart always rules over a matter of the head, dear Zandramas. Always.’
Zandramas looked through cold eyes, but softened again. ‘My name is Belzandretta. That is my new name. The old one is gone now, gone forever.’
‘As you see fit,’ said the woman. ‘As you see fit. Well, we do have a task for you. Complete this task and you will gain a reward. A reward we are sure you will enjoy.’
‘And the task?’
‘What you wanted anyway. Deathroot needs a consort, and we have chosen yourself. There is a destiny now, and 3 nations are part of that destiny. Deathroot desires to rule each, but your task is this. Betrothe him, wed him, marry him, and help him to accomplish all he desires. Yet prevent him, if you can, from his goals. Prevent him from ruling these 3 nations, and let not your heart betray yourself, or be given away. For if you can lead him down the destiny we have chosen, those 3 nations will belong to you. But if you fail, and he gains one, you will not have your reward. But there are certain terms. You must tell him to conquer these nations, encourage him to rule, to raise up Asia and conquer the west. To be king and god and ruler of all. For war is in his heart, in his blood, and you must aid him to conquer each Kingdom. But if he does, if you can not through your charms and cunning ways prevent him from doing so, by whatever means you so choose, then he will reign, and you shall not have your reward. But if you succeed, if he fails, then the reward will be great. Indeed eternal, Belzandretta. Indeed eternal.’
And then they all smiled at her, played around one last time, and disappeared back into the pool. And Belzandretta knew then her mission, and was away, headed out of the cave, headed for Asia, and her meeting with destiny.
* * * * *
Radric sat in front of the fire. Sapphira was lying against him, drifting off to sleep, seemingly not concerned about things. And then he heard the crowd. Rising to his feet he went to the window to see many people gathered outside, holding torches. He went to the door, opened it, and a group of fifty or so local villagers stood there, looking at him menacingly. And then a figure dressed in brown robes came forth from them, looked at him and yelled ‘Heretic. The wrath of Ul is on you. You are an abomination in his eyes.’ And the villagers, all fearing the man, just glared at Radric.
He looked a little nervous, thought of fetching the Gemstone, but told himself to remain calm. Words of Baltazaar echoed through his mind.
‘Under pressure, stay calm. Think carefully.’ He surveyed the man who continued to glare at him, dressed in the brown robes with a rope around the waist. His head was shaved in a circular fashion at the top, a deliberate bald spot, and he held a black, leather-bound book. Radric spoke slowly ‘Friend. I am no heretic, I assure you. I am King of the west, King Radric. I simply dwell here now and my son rules in my stead at Brittoria. What concerns you?’
The man glared at him, turned to the crowd, and opened his book. And then he began speaking. ‘Thus saith Ul, the god of god’s. Beware the power of the king, for in his pride he shall exalt his heart above menfolk, believing himself superior, believing himself the one. He lives only to rule you, not to care for you, not to heal you, not to bring you wealth or goodness. He lives for himself and his own glory. So tear down these pillars, and be as one. The word of Ul has spoken.’
The crowd nodded. ‘Yes brother,’ one of the villagers spoke. ‘We believe that Ul has spoken, and we will follow Ul our God.’
‘Aye, we will,’ responded the crowd. The brother turned to Radric, a mad look of zeal on his face, seemingly satisfied with the victory of faith he had achieved. ‘You will come with us, now. And we will take you to judgement. You will taste fear, oh king. You will taste fear.’
Radric, looking at the villagers, knew they were serious. But he would have faith. ‘Let me kiss my wife, and I will come.’ The brother nodded, and Radric hastened inside. He grabbed the Tora Codex, the Gemstone, kissed Sapphira without waking her, and hastened outside. They took him then, brought him to a cart and placed him there, in chains, to lead him off. As they drove along Radric stayed calm. They would see reason, he knew as much in the end. The Gemstone softly whispered as such to him. But for now he was concerned. Something was wrong in Francesscia, something was wrong. And he sensed, in the air, a new spirit had come forth. A new spirit which might, just might, not be for the good of everyone.
* * * * *
Servant was dead, gone. Gone to were he could not return. But another child had been born, born not far from Frederick’s farm, to an innocent Francesscian family, full of simple things and quiet joys. She was Gemma, a pleasant girl, now 12, full of life and love, friendly to all, with no enemies. And when she saw Radric being led away, she followed at a distance, hopeful to try and free him somehow, for she believed in her king, and new him to be a good man. They were wrong, the villagers, and the ‘Brother’ should not be listened to. There was something not right about him. Something in his eyes, in his manner, in the way he spoke to people. A sneering attitude. A pride which felt itself better than others, as if he was the special chosen one of Ul, which so he claimed. She didn’t believe him – she didn’t believe him at all. And if she had not known that her King had slain Deathroot, she would have believed the mad god risen from death.
As she followed along, the villagers began singing and praising Ul, and the brother seemed to grow in mad delight. Things were not good, now. Darkness was here, and it was not going away. But she had hope – she had hope. And with that hope she would persevere until the truth came forth, and the darkness left, left her land and left the west forever.
* * * * *
And then an hour of darkness befell the west, and the sun was dim for a while, and people fell to fear, and the doomsayers spread even more so, speaking of the final end of time, and the end of what was to be, and the final day of judgement.
The three provinces long had a custom of infighting. But, hey, Yulenthean’s had never really given a damn about keeping peaceful ways, stuck down on the southern part of the world, away from the larger continents, in the cold extremes of the planet. Kmran, which never ceased to claim the founding of ‘Yulen’, always bragged of being the oldest of the three provinces, and suggested to the other two, quite often, they should show them the respect they deserved. Millennia of warfare, and occasional tribute, still had not brought such respect, but nobody cared that much in the end anyway. That was a Yulenthean spirit – not caring that much. The southern province, ‘Shrar’, liked to think itself superior due to its greater wealth. They had much gold and precious gems, and felt itself the true province of desire. Yet Braed, the eastern province, was the largest, and made its own boast based usually on this and other such arguments. They fought, it was Yulenthean civil war every century or so, but somehow, someway, in Yulen peace treaties eventually came forth and disputes were inevitably settled.
The city of Yulen lay at the crossroads, as it were, of the three provinces. Right in the heart of Yulenthea, on the coast of the main inlet of the continent, the provincial borders went northwards and eastwards, dividing the continent into three neat and even chunks. Yulen, for most Yulentheans, was usually were the action was, and home to over 20 million souls, divided evenly amongst each province as the provincial borders ran through the heart of the city. Right on the coast itself, right were the borders all lined up, sat the Palace of Yulenthea, the place of the Yulenthean Monarchy. As you may expect, it was a fractured monarchy much of the time, an endless parade of royal houses all usurping one another for a time period in traditional rules of combat and glory, claiming the throne, and ruling their world. Many a house had ruled more than once, some even three or four times. But that was the game, as it was called. The game of rulership, the monarchy of power, and no house really was given to quitting on that particular agenda.
The current house of glory were the Dalkindo’s, a traditional Braedan house. They had not ruled before, and had been in the seat of power for quite some time now. In fact, four centuries, and they still saw no sign of being taken. The current monarch, Jezabel Dalkindo, spoke of a more sensible spirit having pervaded Yulenthea, one of an apathy in which peace seemed suitable for a time, for a while. And most Yulentheans did not object that much, going about the regular humdrum of everyday life, pursuing their own pBrittoriate agendas, goals and dreams of glory. But there was one Yulenthean, one in particular, which had ambition. Definite ambition. Jek Barder saw himself fit to be king of the Yulentheans, and while he was gifted with intelligence and good looks, his lack of fighting ability spoke of a dream of kingship which, while hoped for dearly, remained just that – a dream. You see, the challenge was about the only way, in the end, to take the throne for any length of time. It was an unwritten custom, or perhaps expectation, in Yulenthea, that to take the throne a duel must ultimately take place. And Jek Barder could not fight. But he was smart, cunning and wise, successful in business, and with an aptitude to increase in knowledge. What he lacked in physical prowess he made up for with his wit, and with that particular wit he planned, every few weeks, about how he might just achieve the glory he sought. It would happen one day, of that he was certain. But for now, while he planned valiantly, it was business as usual, and their were customers to see to.
The bell rang and coming to the front of the shop, a figure stood before him, dressed in long brown robes, a rope tied around his waist, and his hair cut in a fashion which made a bald spot in the centre. And he was carrying a black leather book.
‘Yes,’ said Jek. ‘Would you like some fish? We have a fine catch today.’
‘I have not come for fish, brother. Not to catch fish at all. For I am a fisher of men, and he who is has called you into his kingdom.’
Jek looked at the man, and laughed to himself. ‘Well, if you don’t want any fish, how about an umbrella. We have a good stock in, all the way from Junissa. Sturdy, reliable ones. They work well.’
‘I fear not the rain, brother. For the latter rain is a blessing and it is now raining from heaven upon the kingdom of men. And you are chosen from this latter rain, brother. You are chosen for glory.’
Jek looked at him, now a little curious. ‘And what is this glory you speak of?’
‘You crave the rulership of Yulenthea, do you not? He who is knows all the desires of the heart.’
Now Jek took him a little more seriously. ‘I don’t know how you knew that, but yes. Yes I crave the fair kingship. But how can a man dressed as you are possibly offer me such a prize?’
‘He who is can offer you such a prize, Mr Barder. He has never failed.’
Jek nodded to himself. He was not a religious man, but knew of Ul. Perhaps there would be something in this madman’s hazy eyes which could grant him the glory he sought. Perhaps, for now he would listen. Perhaps, for now, he would consider this most tempting offer.
‘I am listening. Speak on.’
‘As I knew you would, child of he who is. As I knew you would.’
* * * * *
‘What is the charge?’ asked Radric, sitting in the local village hall, the villagers all looking in intently, the chief of the village looking reluctant about Radric being arrested, but fearing the man of God more. The ‘Doomsayer’, as the villagers had called him, responded. ‘Has not he who is granted you power, authority and wealth?’
Radric considered the question and assented. ‘Yes, I guess he has. What is your point?’
‘And what has thou done with this esteemed position?’
‘Ruled for a time being. My son is now responsible in my stead.’
The Doomsayer looked at the villagers. ‘You have heard his confession.’ He turned back to look at Radric, his eyes blazing furious flames. ‘You admit it then. You have ‘ruled’ he said, sneeringly.
‘And what is your objection to that?’ asked Radric. Yet the Doomsayer ignored him. He spoke again.
‘And, have you become wealthy? Wealthy beyond all mortal men?’
Radric nodded. ‘Yes. Yes the kingship is the wealthiest in the realm. The Arch Regent of Asia Brittorials me, but I am wealthier it is said.’
‘Again, another confession,’ said the Doomsayer. He is clearly guilty. What more need be said.
‘Guilty of what?’ asked Radric, now confused. The villagers looked at the Doomsayer, eager for him to speak. The Doomsayer glared at Radric and, finally, opened his leather-bound book. ‘Thus says the Gospel of the Lord Almighty. ‘Seek ye riches? Nay, I tell you, seek poverty. For the rich are beset with pride and seek to dominate and manipulate others with the power they achieve, to destroy livelihoods and make their fellow man, likewise made in the image of Ul, their slaves and servants eternal. Riches are for fools, dear disciples. Heed my words and take note.’ The man closed the book, looked at Radric, again with a sneer, and looked at the villagers. ‘The lord has spoken, let his name be praised.’ And all the villagers yelled ‘Praise the Lord.’ Radric looked worried. An angry mob was always difficult to calm down. He would have to speak with wisdom. He looked at the Tora Codex but, just then, a little voice in his heart said ‘Let your own words suffice.’ And so he spoke truly.
‘It was prophecy which chose me for kingship. I was a simple lad, living at Frederick’s farm, not dreaming of such things. But such things chose me, as perhaps they have done for others in other times and other places. Could I truly refuse such a calling? For this Gospel of the Lord you speak of I have not heard of. I know of Ul and the other gods, but not this gospel, so feel perplexed in being judged by its words. I have never sought ill will towards another man, never sought to prevent his desires of wealth or his own dominion. I have never sought to manipulate or abuse my responsibilities. I deny such a charge, and while we may differ over the need for Kingship and authority, I understand your perspective and see your point. But I do not hold my self guilty of wrongdoing, and my conscience thusly bears witness.’ The Doomsayer glared at him for a moment, glaring madly, and looked at the crowd who had softened, and were looking at him. And then he came forward, held out his hand to Radric, who reluctantly shook it. And then he spoke in a new voice, a different voice, a calmer, more sedate, more humane voice. ‘Well spoken King of the West. It would seem they have chosen wisely to have your gracious decency rule for them. You are a good King, and the Lord Almighty is pleased with you. Your testing has come, and you have spoken words of honesty and truth. Go in the name of the Lord, and may he bless you with life everlasting.’ Radric looked at the ‘Doomsayer’, not really sure what to say, but stepped down from his seat, watched as the villagers gradually dispersed, and slowly, carefully, made his way out of the hall. The chief of the village came up to him, shook his hand, and apologized for the difficulties. And then he encouraged Radric to return to Brittoria saying the Lord’s will was for the King to return, now, for difficult times lay ahead. So the Doomsayer claimed. And, thus, Radric returned home to Sapphira, who was still asleep, placed the Gemstone back on the mantelpiece, and once again considered just what was going on in the world.
* * * * *
The ship landed at Lameth late on a sunny afternoon, and Charm and Samson exited, thanked the captain and the crew, and made their way to a local inn. ‘So where is this place?’ asked Samson.
‘On the northern edge of the village. The merchantman’s name is Davros. We shouldn’t have too much trouble tracking him down. The villagers are bound to know where he is.’
‘Let’s hope so,’ responded Samson. They came to the inn ‘The Golden Eagle’ and booked a room for the night. Drinking ale and eating supper they noticed the eyes of the inn upon them, and hushed and whispered voices exclaiming they were strangers and something about the Doomsayer needing to see them to judge them.
‘What are they whispering about,’ asked Samson.
‘The new cult. The Doomsayers. It looks as if they have reached Lameth. We will have to have our wits about us.’ They continued to drink their ale and eat their supper when the innkeeper came over to speak with them.
‘Look, we don’t want any trouble here, so when the father gets here, go along quietly, okay. It will just be trouble otherwise.’
‘What father?’ asked Charm.
‘The Doomsayer. Dressed in brown robes with a black book. You will know him when he arrives. Just go quietly – don’t mess with him. You will see. You will trust in the Lord then. You will trust in the Lord.’
The innkeeper left and Samson whispered to Charm, ‘Trust in the Lord, hey. Do they speak of Ul.’
‘I am not completely sure, Samson my friend. But we will find out soon enough.’ They finished off their meal, thanked the innkeeper and retired to their room. The coals in the fireplace were still burning, so Charm added a log, washed with the basin, and took to his bed.
They were sleeping soundly, and the night was passing by, when they were suddenly roused by a racket. Charm rose and Samson got up in his bed, yawning, and asked ‘By Belar’s beard, what is all this commotion?’
Charm went to the window and saw outside burning torches. Suddenly a man dressed in long brown robes appeared, looked up to them with a gleeful look, and entered the inn. Charm turned to Samson – ‘The Doomsayer is here. We had best get dressed.’ Samson reluctantly agreed, and they started dressing.
When they were just pulling on their boots there was a knock at the door and the innkeeper spoke up. ‘Guests, there is someone here to see you. I am afraid you must come out, or there will be trouble.’
‘We will be with you in just a second,’ responded Charm. He looked at Samson, nervously, but ready. Whatever was to come now, he would speak truthfully. Baltakon had given him a hint at what was coming, so it was time. Time to face down his demon’s and speak true words. Prince Goldrun may have been a thief and a rogue, but he had a good heart, and surely that was what mattered the most in the end. Surely that was what mattered most.
They exited the room and came down to the heart of the inn. The Doomsayer was there, surrounded by a dozen villagers, and he glared at Charm and Samson. He spoke – ‘Samson, son of Sharkroot, you have justified this Prince Goldrun in your heart as worthy of your friendship and companionship.’ Samson looked at the Doomsayer stunned, not really knowing how he knew who he was, and amazed because of it. The Doomsayer continued. ‘And thus, Samson son of Sharkroot, because you have justified this rogue, we will judge you upon his judgement. If we deem him innocent, we will deem you likewise as such. But if he is guilty, you will suffer his fate.’ Samson nodded. He understood such judgement.
The Doomsayer turned to Goldrun, glaring at him wildly. ‘We will hold the judgement here – there is no need to go elsewhere. You may sit,’ said the Doomsayer, and Charm sat down calmly. Samson stood back and watched his own judgement as well.’ The Doomsayer stalked around the room, looking mighty and powerful in his robes, holding his book of judgement with pride, ready to accuse Charm for all his lifes wrongdoings.
‘Goldrun. You are a Prince of Blessingland,’ are you not?’
‘Yes, that is true,’ responded Charm.
‘Yet you forsake your divine responsibilities and run off on foolish childish adventures.’
‘That is not how I see it.’
‘Silence,’ yelled the Doomsayer, a mad look in his eyes. ‘I did not say you could speak.’ He continued to stalk the room and eventually continued.
‘You have been known to be prince of thieves. To deny others their hard earned rewards of work and glory in their wealth. Do you deny this charge?’
Charm hung his head, shamefully. ‘No. No, I don’t deny that. I have had a lifetime of roguish ways, I admit that.’
The Doomsayer nodded. ‘So it would seem, Goldrun. So it would seem.’ And then he opened up his book and read. ‘Thus says the Gospel of the Lord. My disciples, do not run with men of wickedness, who steal other’s belongings, and glory in their prowess of such an art. For they deny the work of those who pursued their rewards with an honest heart. Such men are wicked, do not consort with them.’ Thus says the Gospel of the Lord,’ and the Doomsayer closed the book. He looked around, again with a wild glare in his eyes, and gazed at the villagers. ‘He is guilty – who would disagree?’ And all the villagers assented as one.
Charm felt downtrodden. It was as if a lifetime of his roguish ways had finally caught up with him and now judgement had come. He was guilty and could give no defense. The Doomsayer glared at him, his eyes wildly alive. ‘Do you not have anything to say in your defense, Prince Goldrun, Prince of Thieves.’
Goldrun looked up, and spoke all that he really could say.
‘Tis true, Doomsayer. I am a rogue. I am not proud of that, and have beforetimes regretted my ways. But it almost seems as if it is a life I had no choice in living. As if it was a destiny inescapable and the thrill of the adventure was a drug I simply could not avoid. I will say this, though. I have only robbed the rich, and never left a poor man hungry. I have not really been a violent man, and have had adventures which have changed this world for the better. I believe I have a good heart, despite my many flaws, and more than that, well I can not say. It is just the way I am, I guess. Just the way I am.’ The Doomsayer looked at him sternly, and then spoke in a strict voice, but a voice which hinted at a previously unknown sense of compassion. ‘And that is your defence, child of he who is? Those are your own words?’
‘Yes,’ nodded Goldrun.
And the Doomsayer softened. ‘Then you have judged yourself, Prince Goldrun. And before these villagers as witness I declare that the Lord Almighty favours you and will give you a blessing. For you have, in truth, not been a burden to others and have given joy and friendship to those who, at times, have needed it the most. Go in peace Goldrun. The Lord’s blessing be upon you.’ Charm, uneasily, rose from his chair and looked at Samson. The Doomsayer spoke with the innkeeper and giving Charm one last look left the inn. The judgement had come and Charm knew, in his heart, just what that judgement had been.
* * * * *
‘The Doomsayers are necessary to every planet, Baltazaar. Throughout all the worlds of life we bring the testing to each world, to each realm the judgements of he who is. For the eternal Gospel of the Lord Almighty is to be preached unto all worlds until the very end of time. It is our task, our sacred task, and each and every one of us has been chosen specially to bring the good news to all the children of men.’
‘And this Lord you speak of? He is Ul, so you claim?’
‘He has many names, and Ul is just one of them. He is the force of life, the superior God, the universal spirit. And we serve him faithfully in the duties he has called us to.’
Baltazaar nodded. Baltakon had voiced similar words. ‘So the testing has come to our world then. The testing of faith, as you call it.’
‘More than faith, Baltazaar. More than simple faith. It is the testing of the very soul, and the future of your world is at stake. For should you ultimately fail the final testing the result would be very dire – very dire indeed.’
Baltazaar stroked his long beard, contemplating those words. Penidwael spoke up.
‘How exactly are we to prepare for this testing? And what exactly will the final testing be.’
‘That we will not speak of daughter of Baltazaar. For should you know of your destiny you would undoubtedly seek to change the will of the Almighty. And that we will not allow. What we will say is this, prepare your heart, prepare your soul. Seek within those things you know you should be about and seek them with all your heart. For the testing will come, perhaps, when you want it least of all. So watch your heart and be ready, child of Baltazaar. Be ready. Now, your time here is finished. The scroll your compatriot seeks will begin the quest outlined for you. If you fail this quest, then the testing may well be too much for your very soul. So be diligent and faithful, for the reward is great. And now we are finished. The brother will show you out.’ The chief father finished off speaking, left the room, and shortly the brother who had let them in came into the room and they followed him back to the entrance.
Once outside Penidwael looked at Baltazaar. ‘Not quite what you expected?’
‘I am not sure. They did not offer too much more than what we had known. But it seems a quest awaits us and, perhaps, the final quest of Baltazaar. For I am feeling my age, daughter. Suddenly I am feeling my age.’
‘You have aeons left, father. Fret not,’ she said, comforting him.
‘Alas I fear not. I fear that the time of Baltazaar the sorcerer is approaching and something else awaits. I don’t know why I feel this, but I just do.’
‘Then whatever will be will be.’
‘It is as you say.’
They returned to their donkey and as Baltazaar led his daughter back through the forest he thought on the words of the father and of the final testing. It would be the culmination to his life, this much he knew, but whatever would be would be. Whatever would be would be.
* * * * *
Gemma looked in through the window. There he was, her king, and he was safe again. She had prayed to Ul that he would watch over her lord and protect him from the darkness to come, and it seemed he had done so. This pleased her and just then, noticing the glowing Gemstone on the mantelpiece, seemingly glowing, somehow she knew, because of her presence, she felt a sudden burning in her chest. And suddenly she came alive and started glowing, burning white golden light, a light of pure energy and love, radiating the purest warmth, almost as if of a very god of glory.
Radric had quickly come outside and looked at the angelic being hovering before his eyes. Not knowing what else to do he kneeled down and payed homage, speaking. ‘Mighty angel. I am your servant. Speak your will.’
All Gemma could say, despite so much now in her mind, so much new knowledge, knowledge she had suddenly acquired, as if she had been prepared since birth to receive such knowledge, was ‘I am just Gemma.’ But then another voice spoke within her, a new voice which had found, finally, its chosen vessel, and found its new eternal chosen home.
‘You know who I am, Radric. For I have been with you for so very long now. You are a chosen child of mine, and my spirit will be with you always.’ And then the being who was Gemma started to glow a little less and hovered back down to earth, returning to a semblance of her previous form. Radric looked at her, perplexed, and as she came to herself, queried. ‘Gemma. Who, who are you?’ But then he suddenly knew, suddenly knew exactly who she was. And, racing inside, he looked at the mantelpiece. It was gone, of course. Gone, in one way, never to return. But returning outside, looking at the new and living Gemstone before him, Radric placed his arm around his ‘Glorious Lady’ and brought her inside.
He took her to a pBrittoriate room, gave her bread and wine, and waited on her. She puzzled about all the fuss, but Radric knew, somehow instinctively, what the fashioning and purpose of Legroot, all those long years ago, had been about. And the ‘Glorious Lady’ whom he knew he would serve forever had come to be. When she begged him finally to let her rest, he retired, and not waking Sapphira, laid down on his bed. A chosen vessel had been found, and an ancient plan of the God Legroot had come to pass. And Radric found peace in his heart, and rested, in a way, from a struggle which had been part of his entire life.
After the ultimate choice of life by the Seeress of Kell, gradual reforms began happening through the continent of Asia. Fundamentally, the major shift was in a new direction of rulership. The old empire was to be replaced by a new Arch-Regency, one of lesser power, as it was deemed that too much power led to too much corruption, and such had been a lesson the Asians had gradually, through so much strife, come to learn. The Seeress of Kell, her job presumably finished, had disappeared from contact with civilization, a worry to some, but to most life simply went on.
The new Arch-Regent was a descendant of ‘Zakary, a former Emporer of Asia, but one of far more hospitable disposition. His family, while ancient worshippers of Deathroot, were now progressive in their thinking, with ideas of a new world, a new Asia, and presumably a new destiny for the Asian people. Arch-Regent ‘Zakandra was a mellow man in many ways, given over to travel throughout Asia to ensure he was seen doing his job and, in his intention, winning the hearts of the people. He sensed revolution in many ways as an undercurrent throughout Asia, as if the people desired a change, but were perhaps unwilling to go all the way to enforce such a change. And, as such, ‘Zakandra felt he was living on borrowed time in a way, King over a people who perhaps didn’t even respect him.
‘Zakandra had met the King of the West, Lord Radric, once. He had intended his visit to the lands of the Wildersons to be mostly about diplomacy, but upon hearing the news that the Arch Regent was to cross the ocean of the east, and tread on land not distant from Aloria, Radric forwarded a request for a meeting, and two nations sat down, once sworn enemies, now finding peace in a new world, and a world which had a new word of power running through it - ‘The Economy’. Trade – trade throughout Asia, the realm of the Wildersons, Alorns and other kingdoms of the West, was essential to a healthy and functioning society, so ‘Zakandra spoke in his wisdom with Radric. And while Radric thought marvellous the stuff of such conversation, he sensed in a way that his own son, in this new world emerging, might be the better choice to handle such responsibilities. And so, imposing James on the throne of Brittoria at the Isle of the Winds, Radric returned to Frederick’s farm, to live a life of simplicity, leaving such things as the ‘Economy’ in the hands of those better able to manage such responsibilities.
For ‘Zakandra, hearing from his various advisors the ways of the west, James, a younger man, nearer his own age, seemed a better choice to have dealings with. In fact, could they forge an alliance and form treaties of trade and peace, well, the future looked good for everyone. And a burgeoning economy would see the blessing of all the children of men. The furthest thing from his mind was war – a great and grand war with the west – but there were stirrings from these doomsayers, voices which spoke of an epic final conflict, the last of an old age, an old era, before the birthing of the new world. A time in which a woman was to go into the travail of birth to bring forth the desired child of her hopes and dreams. So ‘Zakandra, hoping against hope that such madness would not come to be, inevitably began plans for preparing his troops throughout Asia and carefully, so as not to be too obvious, enlarging his forces. They would not lose again, that much he was sure of. And even if the Mad God himself came back from death ‘Zakandra would have his new world and, most of all, his beloved economy.
* * * * *
Rtachek was a man on a mission – a mission in service of a Mad God who he believed, through the power of sacrifice available to himself, he could literally raise from the clutches of death itself. And so, the new High Priest of the western Grinders, in a new temple on the shores of the ocean in south-east Mar Afrikkia, counted off one of an endless number of sacrificial virgins they had sacrificed to their beloved deity. They had scoured Mar Afrikkia for virgins, and even taken a fair number from Arabbia and Persistia, much to various protestations. But Rtachek was a man of great influence, if not direct power, and reviving the Mad God Deathroot was deemed in the best interests of the Wildersons.
Yet Rtachek was not alone in his sacrificial libations. For the pouring of virginal blood had been going on in the citadel of Night, Mar Mishrak, by Brazadar, younger brother of the dead Kalphir, Grinder priest of much power and influence in Asia. And while they were aware of the constant sacrifices of the western Grinders, they paid them no heed, determined to show they were the true servants of Deathroot, and that a worthy enmity should exist towards the western Grinders, ones which Asians had long disdained.
Yet, it seemed, the answer to their sacrificial madness did come one day, or night as it were, for in the twilight of the west, the moon did glow dark red, and the sign of a snake covered the moon in black and scarlet, a sign to many that Deathroot had been reborn. It lasted 3 hours, and afterwards many swore truly to no avail to the unbelievers that they had witnessed such a sign. Naturally, it seemed, the doomsayers took this as one of the portents they had spoken of, and a new wave of zeal for the doomsayer cult and its teachings emerged, more passionate then ever.
And then, the darkness of blackness emerged in the citadel of the night and Deathroot, awaking from the hell of his ordeal, came alive in a high tower of the citadel, Brazadar instantly notified at the God’s presence. And, with Deathroot reborn, war was coming. War with the west and the destruction of the Mad God’s most hated enemy, the western King Radric.
* * * * *
Brazadar carefully made his way down the spiral steps, downwards, into the hell of earth below him, treading a million steps it seemed, one endless parade, until finally, almost not believing he had reached the bottom, but the light from the torch telling him such was true, came to the thick wooden door. Beyond lay his God, Deathroot, in slumber. He could not, it seemed, yet bear the light of life, the light of the sun, nor the dread heat of the day, for in his slumber he had grown accustomed to the cold of nothingness, and the heat of life was foreign to him. And so he come to this deserted place, far beneath the citadel, were he rested and were Brazadar brought him occasional food and news of the affairs of men.
He knocked, carefully, fearing the rebuke of his lord lest he be too noisy. Deathroot could kill on whim, yet, in a strange way, the mad Grinder priest only revered him more because of it. After a moment a voice from within said ‘Enter’, and Brazadar placed the torch near the doorway, fearing to take it inside with him, and opened the door coming into his master.
‘Close the door quickly, fool,’ yelled Deathroot. ‘The light is too great.’
Instantly Brazadar closed the door and waited. After a while the very dim light from the torch streaming through the cracks of the door gave just enough light for him to see his master, laid out on a long bed, the scarring of his face as painful looking as it had always looked.
‘What news?’ queried Deathroot.
Brazadar came forward, kneeled and payed homage to his lord, and presented him with a scroll. Deathroot took it, and unrolled it. Seemingly, despite the darkness, he had no trouble reading it. When he had finished he threw the scroll on the floor and Brazadar retrieved it. Eventually, summoning the courage, Brazadar spoke.
‘I am afraid ‘Zakandra is an unbeliever, master. He denies the proof we have sent him of your new life and claims none shall take the throne of Asia from him.’
Deathroot remained silent, perhaps considering those words, yet who could really tell the thoughts of a God.
‘It is no matter,’ Deathroot finally replied. ‘He shall learn his place in the fullness of time. Now tell me, has the woman come yet? Has Belzandretta finally appeared? For my plans rest upon this child.’
‘Not yet my master. But as soon as we have word you will know within an instant.’
Deathroot remained silent.
As Brazadar stood there, anxiously waiting upon his master, a dripping sound of cold water echoed throughout the caverns. They were in the underheart of Mar Mishrak, the waters of earth dripping through the stone ceilings, betraying their location. It was dark, cold and away from all life but, it was here, in the utter dark, were Brazadar felt the most alive. Serving his dark lord, serving his dark agendas.
Eventually Deathroot spoke. ‘I will know as soon as the woman is sighted. You will ensure this. Now go, leave me. I will eat in three days. Bother me not till that time.’
Brazadar nodded, took the scroll, and left, quickly closing the door behind him.
As he trudged the million steps upwards he thought on the woman Belzandretta and his master’s desires to have her found. Whatever role she was to take in the plan’s of her masters, it was imperative that she be found as soon as possible. For the glory Brazadar sought was in his master’s power to give, and thus his master’s needs came before all else. All for the glory of the mad God Deathroot.
* * * * *
Sapphira, all things considered for a Spannian queen who had become queen of the west took her husband’s constant labelling of a young lady, barely a teen, if that, ‘His Glorious Lady’ quite well. Spannia had long thought of itself as something of a cultured and refined society, and while marrying the Brittorian King was certainly a marriage of honour, a lady of the Spannian court was not quite used to being treated in second place. But, if one thing that a life being lived with Radric, with acquaintances such as Charm and Samson and Baltazaar had taught Sapphira, it was that humility was a much needed and desired virtue in a life which was often, fraught with prophecies and God’s and the like, a life of very hard testing. But she loved Radric and would allow him this grace of calling another maiden his ‘Glorious Lady’.
After a lengthy explanation that, in some strange way, Gemma, as she was known by her personal name, was the new living embodiment of the Gemstone, Sapphira, although having her doubts, inquired into the most obvious of questions. Who were the child’s parents? Radric, seeming to have neglected this careful, yet fundamental point, wished to avoid the issue, but upon Sapphira’s insisting and Gemma’s own desire to return home, they recruited one of the worker’s on the farm to drive them the few leagues to a nearby farm which Gemma claimed she was from.
Her parent’s, Ilk and Jandy were overwhelmed at a visit from the King and, while Radric tried to be subtle in his new desires to have a close proximation to their daughter, Sapphira was more forthcoming.
‘The child has merged with the Gemstone, Ilk. She is special, now. She appears to be chosen of Legroot himself. I am afraid she is now important, and Radric is calling her is ‘Glorious Lady.’ I know you will be missing a child, but if it is possible can she remain with us for the time being. It is an important issue, and we wish to travel to the Valley of Legroot for the matter to be looked into.’
Radric picked up the conversation, having been kneeling before Gemma, practically involved in worship. ‘Yes, Yes Sir Ilk. We will need to travel to the Valley and bring your daughter. This needs to be discussed, and we must see Legroot himself.’
Jandy looked at Ilk, who looked at her with a tear in his eye. ‘We will miss her. Be sure you keep her safe. But we trust you, Lord Radric.’ Radric nodded and signalled for the driver to give Ilk a bag of gold he had promised him. ‘This is for your troubles. We can not say how long we will be away, but it may be some time. But we will return her. She is in good hands. You need not fear.’
Ilk took the bag of gold, peered inside, and weighed it. He seemed pleased for the gold, but also had a look of concern for his daughter.
‘We’ll miss you Gem,’ said Jandy. Instantly Gemma came forward, hugged her parent’s, and spoke up.
‘I have changed, mother, father. There is something different in me now. Some new presence. And it is as Radric and Sapphira say. I must go find this Legroot. For the name means something to me now. There is a connection. A connection I can not really speak of, but so personal. So intimate.’
‘She is in good hands,’ said Radric, as they made their farewells.
As the cart drove off, Gemma turned and waved farewell to her parent’s. It was a new world she was heading for, and a new destiny. She wondered in her heart if she would ever see her parent’s again. So much had happened in the world recently, so much turmoil. But family could never be forgotten, no matter what destiny had to say on the issue. She smiled, waved one last wave, and turned to look at Radric. He lovingly placed his arm around her, again called her ‘his Glorious Lady’, and started humming a tune. A tune, at once new to her, but at once familiar as well. As if she had known it for a long, long time.
* * * * *
Belzandretta knew not the three nations which the spirits had spoken of, and had left hastily. But finding herself, having crossed the ice northwards, in land she felt sure was on the southern Antarctic continental region of Yulenthea, Belzandretta instantly reached a conclusion. Surely the three nations were ‘Shrar’, ‘Kmran’ and ‘Braed’, the long warring three provinces of Yulenthea. Surely these were such three nations as the spirits spoke of. She had not often visited Yulenthea, nor Junissa. This was for various reasons, but of course the cold weather was chief amongst them. The solid ice just to the south of these continents which marked the southern pole was extremely cold, and no life could live there. It was surprising, considering that, that brave souls had once decided to make Yulenthea and Junissa there homes, but indeed they had. Near the northern pole was the continent of ‘Ardannya’, smaller still than either ‘Yulenthea’ or ‘Junissa’, a place she had also visited infrequently. And, of course, the continent of ‘Zhadora’ in between the West and Asia beyond the Great Western Sea on the other side of the world. There were other islands scattered around the world, of course, but no other continents.
Deathroot was likely to be brought to life somewere in Asia, likely in Mar Mishrak she guessed. So if she were to prove successful in her ambitions she would need to begin here, in Yulenthea, before times. She would need, to begin her agenda, gain power and influence, and see to it that these nations never surrender to the power of Deathroot. Certainly, it would be challenging and difficult. They were minor powers in comparison to the might of Asia. But her glory beckoned, and with a will which could make the impossible possible Belzandretta was determined to prevent the one she would marry from ruling these lands. By her power she would corrupt him, turn him to their conquest, yet betray him without his knowledge. For such had been the task set her, and such would be the reality.
Yet, in that cold and dark heart of Belzandretta, a little fire had been lit and, while she was bent on her mission, that little voice spoke soft words to her, encouraging her towards the day in which a choice would be made. A fateful choice, one made for her previously, but one which would inevitably come down to Belzandretta herself.
* * * * *
‘I know you must feel like the ultimate hypocrite, Charm, but it can’t be helped. The merchantman is unlikely to simply hand over the scroll.’
Charm had been conversing with Samson over the ethics of theft, and had been questioning wether, since his encounter with the Doomsayer, he should really resort to theft. ‘Perhaps a price can be reached,’ concluded Goldrun. ‘It is the most preferable option for me currently.’
Samson drained his ale, swore softly to himself, and nodded. It would be for the best. Judgement had come, and his own words had spoken against him. Time to change the ways of a prince of Blessingland, it seemed.
They came to the merchantman’s abode and, simply, knocked on the front door. Shortly a servant answered, inquired as to their business, and stating it, ushered them inside. ‘You are not the first to seek the scroll,’ said the servant. ‘We have had numerous inquiries. My master is awake, now, in the library. Just in here.’ He led them into a large room, full of bookcases and many splendid items on display, the walls littered with elaborate artworks of all cultures Charm knew of. The servant made for a long chair by a fireplace which was turned from them, and spoke to a man hidden from them. Soon the man stood, a balding man, and came to introduce himself. ‘I am Draznak. You come to see the scroll, I take it?’
‘To purchase it, master Draznak, if such a thing is possible.’
Draznak considered that. ‘Nay. I think not. The scroll is to valuable to me now. But, if you are willing, we can negotiate on the price for a copy of the scroll.’
Charm grinned to himself. The merchantman was not stupid. He suddenly knew what all the seekers of the scroll would have come to – a merchantman who knew its value, and would sell copies for the right price.
‘Yes, we will pay for a copy.’
‘Then come, let us do business,’ said Draznak, indicating the table near the fireplace with luxurious wooden chairs.
Not much later, a copy of the scroll in his knapsack, which was empty a fair portion of gold, Charm was encouraged. It may have cost him money, but somehow he felt better for simply doing the right thing. Perhaps it was a turn in the life of Prince Goldrun, a turn which had long been put of, but coming, finally, at the right time.
Returning to the inn they were up late that night, studying the scroll, and in the morning, once again boarding the ‘Old Warrior’, heading for home and the Valley of Legroot, Charm knew a war was coming. The war which the ‘Doomsayer’s’ also apparently spoke of was coming to the world, along with the final judgement. And the ‘Chronicle of Deathroot’, should its prophecies come to pass, spoke doom for the world. Unless the west, with Radric championing them, could somehow prevent the perhaps inevitable, they would fail the ultimate testing. They were portents of destruction, and while Charm had passed his own little test of judgement, and felt the better man because of it, he feared for his world, and the darkness which approached. But it was always darkest before the dawn he reminded himself. And the new world dawning, well, hopefully that would put to rest all the fears of the past. And a new life could begin again for all, the wrath of a mad god called Deathroot finally and utterly having been laid to rest.
* * * * *
Sailing across the sea of the east, headed for Rak Goska in north-eastern Mar Afrikkia, Baltazaar had been silent for days. Penidwael, noting this, had at first tried to persuade him to speak and resume their life long banter, but Baltazaar, while occasionally encouraged, usually remained silent. Something weighed heavily on his mind.
They were heading home, now. Bound for Joyland and the Valley of Legroot. Hopefully Charm would be waiting for them upon their return, having acquired a copy of the scroll they sought. And then they would need to seek out Radric to speak with him. For the west would need prepare again, and its chief most guardian had a destiny awaiting him, a prophecy they had not known of to fulfil, and a dark road before them.
Sitting on a stool on the starboard side of the rig, Penidwael considered her father who was standing, looking out at the ocean, seemingly weighing up his life circumstances. This quiet, this silence, was not like Baltazaar. He was a boisterous and happy old man, still full of frivolity, still known to chase the maidens and acquire wealth by sometimes dubious means. But that was part of his charm, part of what made Baltazaar Baltazaar. But lately he had withdrawn from this behavior. In fact, since leaving the monastery he had totally withdrawn into himself, keeping away from his daughter, as if mulling over the long life he had lived, and reflecting over the many choices he had made. She feared for him, as for herself in some ways. This ‘Judgement’ which the father had spoken of was to come to all the children of the west it seemed, as if it was some way inescapable. And perhaps this was what weighed heavily on the heart of her father. All his lifes choices. All his mistakes. All his wrongdoings. Perhaps they had finally caught up on the heart of Mr Wolf and, right now, perhaps his heart was going through a phase. A phase of regret, which a Gorim priest of Ul might call a phase of repentance in their language.
Yet she feared that he may be taking such repentance too seriously. He could not help who he was. It was how the gods had made him. He was Baltazaar, sorcerer and rogue, and she loved him dearly because of it. For him to be anything less than he was, well it would not be the same Baltazaar. That was what she could honestly say, it would not be the same old man of charm she had come to know and love.
She looked at him, looked at his wrinkled brow, and out of the course of normality for her, prayed a silent prayer to Ul, the Father of the God’s, that Baltazaar would make the right choices in front of him, and that the judgement would find him standing strong and proud.
She turned her thoughts to other matters. Shamannaki awaited her at him, back in the Valley. He had asked many times to accompany them, yet Baltazaar had insisted he remain in the Valley to be a friendly face for Goldrun should he return before the two of them. Shamannaki had reluctantly agreed, but Penidwael missed her husband. He was becoming stronger in the ways of magic now, having learned much over the past number of years since that fateful choice of the seeress had been made. And while he was by no means a masterclass magician, he would prove a handful for any soul risking taking him on in a dark alley. She missed him and suddenly yearned to be with him, to feel the touch of the soul which had longingly looked at her at Frederick’s farm but been too shy, perhaps, to have ever made his feelings known. But that was Shamannaki. A gentle and kind soul, full of good things, and good words. And in her heart she knew she could have married none other.
She gathered her cloak to her as the wind blew drops of ocean-water into her face. The spray was salty and crisp, and the sea air brought a liveliness to the soul. If this was the place her grandfather was to find repentance, in the hustle and bustle of nature at its fiercest, then perhaps that was a good thing. For it would be a repentance of the soul not soon forgotten, one as fierce and powerful as the fury of the sea of the east.
Travelling along the Great North Road into the mountains, having just left the town of Muros behind them, Radric reflected on his travels through this part of the world. Francesscia, in so many ways, was his true home, the home of his youth and upbringing. Naturally it was expected the Overlord of the West be a responsible and forthright descendant of Brittoria-Sword-Grip, ruling from the Isle of the Winds, and showing himself a proper and noble monarch. Especially amongst Spannian upper society there was a seeming expectation that Radric carry himself with an air of dignity that a King warranted. Suffice to say, the very fact he was married to a Spannian Queen, assumed in the mind of Radric that such expectations were not just for Radric himself and the dignity of the Kingship, but the respect towards Sapphira, the Queen Spannia adored. But while he was King over Aloria, King of the West, Francesscia was a separate Kingdom under Kalrach, child of the deceased Bladrach, and he a guest here in a sense, but feeling as if it was in many ways his true home, the home of his upbringing and, perhaps, fondest memories.
Every day since returning to Francesscia, living at Frederick’s farm, going through the same way of life Frederick himself had run the farm with, taking crops to market, although he had plenty of wealth and needed not to, yet doing that and the myriad of other things associated with the farming life, Radric had returned to his youth and felt, now, like he had been living a life he perhaps, had fate not interfered, he would have lived all along. He was a simple man in his heart, a farmer, with a beautiful wife. It was just that destiny had demanded more of him, and Kingship had almost been thrust upon him at a young age, slaying a God and becoming Overlord of a people.
Still, you did not always choose the destiny life made for you, seemingly at the hands of the God’s, and while Radric was enjoying his time at Frederick’s farm, he could not deny the way destiny had chosen and moulded him and made him the man he was today.
He thought on his friend, Servant, now gone from them. He was believed dead, but nobody knew for sure. His disappearance had been mysterious, and while he was presumed burned in the blazing fire which apparently claimed his final moments, they never found a body, and some thought he himself had perhaps arranged his own disappearance. Whatever the case may be, Servant was a child, like Radric in some ways, who’d had a life of adventure thrust upon him. The lad had reflected to Radric, upon coming to live in the Cottage in the Valley of Legroot, that he felt like he had gained a ‘Family’ with Penidwael, Shamannaki and Old Wolf. Certainly, they were Radric’s own family, his own flesh and blood two of them, but he felt for Servant who had never known who his own parent’s were, abandoned in a foreign city, the tool and victim of the machinations of the sorcerer Kalphir. But destiny had likewise chosen Servant for greater things and, wherever his soul may be, Radric wished well for him.
Of course, Servant was a child of innocence, touching the Gemstone. And while he missed him, saddened by his death, new life had perhaps been chosen instead. Perhaps a different choice in the wisdom of the god’s had bypassed Servant and settled on the girl Gemma instead. Indeed, his Glorious Lady, the living embodiment of the Gemstone, was someone, Radric knew in his heart, who represented all the purity and best of ideals which Legroot spoke of, and in the shaping of the Gemstone he knew now that the Gemstone had long sought out one in which it could share its heart, its identity. They had been guardians of the Gemstone – Radric knew that now. Brittoria-Iron-Grip, and his descendants, down to his father, and to himself, had been champions, protecting the Gemstone. But they were only to protect it until the day of its choosing. Until a day in which a chosen vessel would become one with the Gemstone, and the Gemstone become that which it, in its heart, it had long yearned to be.
Radric looked at his hand. It was funny. The mark which the Gemstone had made from youth had now, finally, faded away. As if no longer needed. For it was not an object of stone anymore, no longer a pearl of beauty, but in his Glorious Lady to which the Gemstone found new form. And Radric knew, in his heart he knew, that he would protect this lady at all costs, nay even with his very life if such a thing were demanded of him.
‘What are you thinking of?’ queried Sapphira, who seemingly had just awoken.
‘Oh, you’re awake. Is Gemma?’
Sapphira looked at the figure sleeping beside her, gave her a gentle nudge, but soft snoring continued.
‘Then don’t wake her. Let her get her sleep. It must be a momentous thing which has happened to the child, and it will take some getting used to for her.’
They chatted for a while, and soon Gemma, who must have heard them talking, came to life and raised herself from the back of the cart, yawned and scratched scuff from her eyes, and looked at the two of them. She looked around, wide-eyed at being so far from home, and spoke up. ‘Where are we, Lord Radric?’
‘We are on the Great Northern Road, my lady. Headed for Joyland and down to the Valley of Legroot.’ She nodded, taking that information in soberly.
‘Do you have anything to eat? And can we stop? I need to, you know.’ She looked at Sapphira who instantly understood the girl’s need for a pBrittoriate place, and asked Radric to stop the cart.
‘It looks like a good spot. And there is a brook just yonder,’ said Radric. ‘We will have breakfast here and then get under way in an hour or so. A good time to stretch the legs.’
Gemma disappeared behind some bushes to take care of her business, and Radric started to get a fire going, using the Will and the Word to start the fire with the sticks he had gathered. Sapphira began frying the bacon and eggs she had taken from the stores they had brought along with them for the trip, and when Gemma returned she looked hungrily at the mornings fare. ‘Mmm. I love bacon,’ she said. ‘Please make it extra crispy.’
‘As you wish,’ responded Sapphira.
After eating Radric allowed Gemma to explore a little and, as she wondered from this tree to that tree, her delicate feet easily finding footing in unfamiliar territory, a gift of her adventurous youth, Radric looked on at the child with an affection that was starting to grow, almost like the affection he had for his own beloved James.
‘You think fondly of her, don’t you?’ said Sapphira, almost gazing into Radric’s own thoughts.
He came to his wife, put his arm around her, and kissed her on the cheek. ‘She is special to me, Sapphira. I feel…. I feel as if there is suddenly a connection, an important and vital connection, between the two of us. Servant and I shared a bond, almost, because of the Gemstone. But this is so much deeper. She IS the Gemstone, now. And she is someone I am sworn to defend with my life if necessary. I don’t really know why I am saying that, so suddenly, but it is just what I must say. It is the sense of honour within me towards young Gemma. She is a special child, Sapphira. And somehow, in these dark days of judgement ahead of us, her innocence just might be the saving grace which redeems us all.’
Sapphira nodded, gazing at young Gemma as she danced around the clearing, sipping from the brook, and looking like any adventurous young youth.
‘I can only pray, Radric, that she suffer not half the things both of us have been through. Whatever life throws at us I can only hope for that.’
Radric nodded. He too wished for good days upon this bright and cheerful young lady.
They got to again after a while and, as they continued along the road, drawing nearer and nearer to Joyland, Radric thought on the days ahead. The Chronicle of Deathroot was on his mind, as was the Doomsayer Cult. Things were afoot in the West and, seemingly, all over the world. He would speak with Baltazaar as soon as possible, and while he hoped to find him at the Valley of Legroot, alongside his Aunt Penidwael and Shamannaki, he would wait for them there if they were elsewhere, for he needed words with his grandfather. In the new pathways of destiny before them, and in someway a new challenge which Radric felt he would be facing, it would be his grandfather’s ancient wisdom which Radric felt he would need to rely upon, perhaps at the most difficult and challenging of times.
Riding along Radric looked up at the vast mountains of Eastern Francesscia which ran northwards up to the Gulf of Sharkroot and southwards down through Ulgoland, Spannia and into the heart of Mar Afrikkia. Much of the Kingdoms of the West and the Wildersons was mountain land, perhaps habitable by only brave souls and daring mountain goats. Most of the western Kingdoms of Francesscia, Arendia and Spannia had ample grasslands, as did Joyland and Blessingland, these being the common farming lands were the majority of the people of the west lived out their simple lives. In many ways it had been a simple life which had gone on, unchanged, for 7,000 years, amidst the wars of god’s and men. Even in the climax of such struggles simple things remained: cows were milked, eggs were gathered and sheep were shorn. Yes, the simple life pervaded the heart of Radric’s world, and it was such a life he had been drawn back to in Francesscia, living out his memories of youth. But now destiny intervened once more, and a new fate awaited him.
Soon they would be nearing Joyland. There were a number of less used roads travelling down the edge of Joyland, alongside Ulgoland, and while he had felt of visiting the Stronghold briefly, he really wanted to return home. They would make for the Cottage, home, and once settled he would look for Baltakon and Baltazaar. And of course, if he was available, Legroot himself.
Right then, right at that moment in time, caught up in the beginnings of another, perhaps lengthy, quest of epic proportions, Radric was suddenly happy. Suddenly, as if he was in control of his life and control of the situation, this time heading out to meet destiny head first, Radric was suddenly quite happy with all the things which had ever happened to him in life. He started whistling a tune, a new tune he had whistled for the first time just recently, when he had encountered Gemma. And whistling it softly to himself he noticed Gemma staring at him, and then, slowly, joining him. Almost like she had known the tune herself, almost as if it had long been a part of her ways of life. It was an ancient tune, unbeknownst to Radric, and a certain God had whistled it himself, living in the Valley, expecting and hoping one day for his grand work of the Gemstone to find the fulfilment it desired.
As he whistled, Gemma joining him, birds overhead began flocking around them, some landing on the cart, seemingly not afraid, and happily chirping away while Radric whistled. Sapphira gazed at them, alarmed that they could be so unafraid, totally unlike such creatures. But the more Radric whistled the more the birds chirped and it was truly a sight to behold, a humble cart carrying precious cargo, making its way along the Great Northern Road, headed for Joyland, with a whistling King and a merry chirping accompaniment. Truly, it was a sight not to be soon forgotten.
* * * * *
Rtachek had heard. Of course he had heard. He was not stupid, and saw to it that he was well informed, that his eyes were everywhere, acquiring all the knowledge his Lord Deathroot could possibly desire. But, no. Deathroot had rejected him. Had rejected the glory of the new temple ‘Mar Deathroot’, built on the south eastern coast of Mar Afrikkia, dedicated to the glory of the God of the Wildersons. Yes, the Mad God had rejected him and his countless sacrifices, spurned the adoration the Afrikkia had devoted to him and chosen, instead, the Asian Grinders and the Citadel of Night – Mar Mishrak. And, suddenly, in a moment of madness, standing atop the sacrificial altar over the ocean, were the fresh blood of virgins still dripped downwards, into the place of their resting, Rtachek understood his destiny. It was alive in his mind, the sudden and most dreadful choice, the sudden and most dreadful work. He, Rtachek, would be God. He, Rtachek, would be the new God of the Wildersons. And he knew, in the fowl power of spirit, wrested from the life force of innocent virgins, just how he would achieve such glories. The sacrifices would, now, continue. Inevitably so. But it would be Rtachek himself who would now receive the power. And all would bow to him. And all would fear him. And all would call him a God. And that is what Rtachek would be – a God – the God of the Wildersons.
* * * * *
Gemma looked up at the god. There was something about him, something instantly connecting to the very centre of her being, and she knew immediately she had found a home, perhaps an eternal home, were she would never be forsaken or alone ever again.
‘Let me tell you of Servant,’ said Legroot, and she sat down on his lap, listening to the god’s tale.
Out in the other room, looking on at the two of them, Radric smiled to himself. He could not really say for sure wether Legroot had known about his lady’s coming or not, but he seemed to have been ready for them as soon as they reached the bottom of his tower in the Valley. But that was like Legroot, like he who was of the 7 gods.
Radric took a seat next to Baltakon, the old hunchbacked wizard, who was steadily working his way through a bottle of Legroot’s finest ale. ‘It is not every day he shares his own supply with us wizards,’ Baltakon had commented, and was enjoying his drink greatly. Radric smiled at that comment, remembering some of his own earlier years amazements at the wonders Legroot performed for him.
Sapphira was by a window of the tower, looking outwards, softer in a way since reaching the Valley. It was like that, the Valley of Legroot, in the heart of Joyland and the West. It was a spiritual recluse from the hustle and bustle of every day life, away from it all, a true sanctuary in many ways. Radric had once commented to her that not everyone could come and visit this sacred place, not at whim anyway. There seemed to be protective spells or charms which warded off unwelcome visitors. It was mainly a home for Legroot himself and his chosen wizards. It was, though, very rare that a new wizard came along. And while Radric had been called Radric for a while, and possessed the power of the Will and the Word, he had gone away from magic in some ways, back to the older ways of his youth, and his original name. It was not that he was against using magic but, perhaps, more in the mould of some Shamannaki’s attitudes, who still often preferred doing things the old ways, with his hands. Some people really didn’t change, and Shamannaki was one of them.
Shamannaki himself was at the Cottage presently, waiting on the return of Penidwael and Baltazaar, and the thief Charm who was expected with an important document. He kept himself busy most days, doing some farming and preparing of various foods which he and Penidwael relied upon for sustenance. And he had slowly been learning more and more in the ways of wizardry. Recently, so he had shared with Radric upon their return to the Valley, one of the twins, ‘Balsandrak’, had called him Balshamannaki without apparently thinking any better. Shamannaki had queried the name, but all Balsandrak would say was ‘Silly me.’ But Radric guessed to himself that such a title was appropriate in many ways. The old smith was a wizard now, and that was the usual prefix given to those who possessed the gift.
Baltakon turned to Radric and again spoke on the subject which was currently the flavour of the day – the Doomsayers. ‘Ul is a mysterious god, Radric. Those at Prolgu don’t always readily divulge their knowledge and secrets of the father of the god’s, and Legroot doesn’t give us too many clues either. But he says of Ul from time to time that the Father of the God’s has powers and ways beyond their knowledge, as if he is aware of things and places and powers we have only heard mention of in legend. Stories of other worlds, supposedly places were these Doomsayers have themselves come from.’
‘So Legroot has told you that specifically. That the Doomsayers come from other worlds?’
‘He mentioned it once. Wouldn’t divulge anything more than that, but says they have been around for many ages.’
‘And these other worlds – did they likewise suffer the judgement of the Doomsayers?’
‘That we will learn of from Baltazaar when he returns. And he should be back in the next few weeks, by my reckoning of his travelling ways.’
The old hunchback took another swig of the ale, and stroked his beard. He looked at Radric, his brow wrinkled at what he wanted to speak of.
‘This judgement you say the Doomsayer placed upon you. This they intend for all, do they? To suffer the judgement of their gospel.’
‘I assume as such, Baltakon. If it is the will of Ul then, perhaps, we are all meant to suffer the testing. Fear not, Baltakon, for you have lived a good life.’
But the old wizard seemed to have a look of fear in his eyes, as if the coming judgement would find his soul perhaps lacking, as if he was not worthy of the life he enjoyed in the Valley of Legroot.
‘I am an old wizard now, Radric. I have lived many a life of the average citizen, and in that time I have done many questionable things. Many things I truly regret.’
‘Which we have all done, old friend. Which we have all done.’
Sapphira spoke up. ‘Baltakon, you should not fear. Whatever the purpose of these doomsayers, I don’t think they intend evil will upon people. They are probably, from what I have gathered, simply showing people for what they are. Showing people’s true selves. And we love you Baltakon, dearly. Legroot chose wisely letting you live in the Valley.’
The old man took another swig of Ale, nodded, somewhat consoled at Sapphira’s words, but still the wrinkled brow remained.
Radric looked at Baltakon and could well understand the fears and reservations of one who had lived so long as Baltakon had lived. In fact, he did not know the exact age of the ancient wizard, but could imagine that, like his grandfather Baltazaar, he had done deeds over the many years of his life that he now regretted.
In the other room Legroot had been telling stories to Gemma about his beloved Servant, and Gemma had been staring, wide eyed, up at her new master and friend. Legroot had told him of Servant’s first visit to the Valley and the story of him and the sled. And he had spoken of a choice Servant had made, to stay true to the sled’s journey, despite the crash he knew would come. And then he had asked Gemma if she would make the same choice, and Gemma had said she would like to think herself that brave, but admitted she would have jumped out of the sled for safety’s sake. And then Legroot had scruffed her head and smiled at the child’s wisdom.
Baltakon spoke again. ‘There is something I fear happening, Radric. And I fear it has already begun, from what you say of the zeal these Doomsayers are gaining. I fear this spirit, this spirit of judgement, as if it will say things and make demands on all of us, demands differing to the way of life we have enjoyed for so long.’
Radric nodded. He too sensed something in the air with the coming of the Doomsayers. As if a change was coming on their world, and an older age and way of life was leaving them forever.
‘Whatever the future holds, Baltakon, I believe it will end up for the good of us all. When Kelly made her fateful choice that day, our destiny had been chosen for us. And perhaps this judgement which has come upon us is a result of that fateful choice, leading all of us to a new dawn, a new day in our world, in which the darkness will be vanquished. And I fear, because of that choice of life, we must make amends for our past choices of darkness. And this may well be what the Doomsayers represent.’
Baltakon nodded. That much did in fact make sense to him.
They remained there at Legroot’s tower well into the afternoon, enjoying time with the Lord of the Valley. And Gemma seemed to be changing as a person from the brief time Radric had gotten to know her. A new confidence was suddenly upon her, having met Legroot, and a strength, a strength in his lady he felt even beyond his own powers in many ways.
* * * * *
In the heart of the citadel of Mar Deathroot, Rtachek dreamed. A figure approached him in his dream and said to him, ‘The power to thwart Deathroot himself is in your grasp. For if you seek dominion over the Wildersons, you will need to defy this fallen god. And the power of darkness will serve you and do all your bidding, giving you the strength and might you will need to conquer all and do all your will. Yet, I say as an afterthought, there is a price to pay. But you will gladly pay this price, will you not, Oh Lord of the Wildersons?’ And Rtachek, in his dream self, assented that he would indeed pay that price.
* * * * *
Belzandretta, having acquired a stallion from a small village without purchase, taking it in the dead of night, looked upon the city of Yulen as she approached it from the south. It was indeed a remarkable sight, and she knew it home to over 20 million souls, stretching for leagues from the coastline inland, the heart of the continent of Yulenthea. She knew something of the game of power of the Yulentheans, the games of the court and the monarchies which had ruled her. And to such a game, with a wisely chosen vessel as her servant, she could achieve the glories she sought for herself.
She knew what she needed – a figure, probably a male, with ambition. Someone who was willing to serve for the glory she would promise him. And, in a way, she sensed that a power had already chosen this vessel for her. As if the spirits which had spoken to her in the Cave had already known of this person, and had prepared the way for her. And that had made her silently question their power and wether she herself was just another pawn of prophecy in the hands of those powers which ruled all. Yet, that mattered not in the end. She was certain enough that the victory and power she sought would be of her own making, and if those powers which be wanted to assist her in any way, then she would simply allow them. It just made it easier for her own goals.
As she kicked the stallion onwards, approaching the city, she thought again on those powers. To have the glory she desired, that was offered to her, would mean that she would one day be pulling the strings of fate and destiny that now manipulated her. And if she were to be the one doing that, well, what fates would Belzandretta choose for the souls which entrusted themselves to her? What strange destiny would she map out for her chosen few? For the choice of darkness had been taken from her, and Kelly had given into the light. But now Belzandretta, reborn, was a child of prophecy with no role. And if she could not live in the power of darkness, in the glory she had once delighted in, what other possible future could await her? Whatever possible choice could there really be? Riding on towards the city she felt, in her inmost being, she would find that answer in the goodness of time. And, perhaps, not a choice she would once have made. Perhaps, in no way, such a choice at all.
The Hand of Eternity
‘Father of Time’
Galvanark awoke. Hardfart had fallen. He sensed it in his blood – his spirit. He sensed it, and knew it to be true. Magronoth would not be pleased. In his tenure in the pit below, dark creatures who had been chained near him from time to time had spoken of Hardfart, Blastickle and the final battle. Yet they had not known its fate. Yet, now he knew. Now he sensed in the air, in the realm of spirit, the fate of Hardfart and Blastickle.
At the top of the crag, overlooking the pit of torment, Galvanark stared downwards into the pit of the netherworld – the place he had just finally escaped from, after being cast down by the Angelkind. Magronoth, still, dwelt there – his final resting place according to the judgement of the Angelkind. Magronoth, greeting Galvanark after having just shattered the Door of the Night and being judged by the Angelkind and condemned to the netherword, still lay somewere in the pit below, searching for escape. Yet, when they had parted just the evening before, each taking a diffeamulet direction to what was believed would be sanctuary, Galvanark knew – the dragon of darkness knew – that Magronoth would soon escape as well.
He sat there, staring downwards. He sat there, and as days passed to weeks, feeding occasionally, he stared down into the pit, carefully awaiting the lord of the dark he knew would arise. Time passed slowly. Carrion surveyed him from time to time, assessing wether he was actually alive and available food. Occasionally he threatened them, and they soon departed. Other birdlife hovered around the edge of the pit. Eagles, hawks, sparrows, owls and various others. It seemed each of them had come to witness for themselves the emergence of Galvanark and, perhaps, the soon emergence of the dread Magronoth from the pit of despair. He thought on the Angelkind who, having passed judgement, had cast them into the pit, never to return. In his dark heart, Galvanark would have vengeance upon them, and all in league with them. They would be punished, nay, destroyed. And he would feast on their very souls. Yes, the Angelkind would feel his wrath, and, of course, so would any of the other seed of Exeter who yet lived. Exeter had slain him with the dreaded sword Excallevere above the ravine Caldarrek of the river Talilfrost. The scar from that wounding still ran across his belly, even in the netheworld were their Angelkind judges had sent them.
As time passed with no sight of his dark lord, Galvanark thought on the tale Magronoth had shared with him in the pit below. For too long – for far too long – Magronoth had been cast to the outer void. Yet Magronoth had finally escaped that place, defeating the barrier of impenetrability. In the void, Magronoth had brooded and the darkness – the power of the dark – had grown within him. Yah, the creator, had been there, talking to Magronoth from time to time. Talking to his son and sharing destiny and prophecy. Warfist Warfistath awaited, Yah told him often. The final battle. The final defeat of the shadow of doom. And in that battle, so Yah chided him, Magronoth would taste final and bitter defeat at the hands of Exeter and the sword Excallevere. And to fulfil that prophecy Yah gave Kamrad dark power. Power of evil and hatred beyond what he had known in earlier days. And, when his power had grown sufficient, Kamrad had spoken the word ‘Nothingness’ to the barrier of impenetrability, and through the power of infinite dark, the nothing placed within Kamrad by Yah, the barrier had ceased to be, the only way that it could be overcome. And, now, destiny awaited. Magronoth hated Yah, yet knew he was powerless against him. He suffered the fate Yah planned for him, regardless of his own choice. His fate beckoned him onwards each moment – it beckoned him onwards for, in his mind and heart, he sensed that beyond the realm of death, should it occur at the hands of Exeter, there awaited something. Something which Yah had only whispered and hinted at. Something which Yah had only placed subtley into his evil mind and heart. Yet Magronoth knew – at one point in the whisperings of Yah he knew – that beyond his service to the fate of death, something awaited. Something new, something different awaited. And on that, despising the very word, yet on that hope Magronoth placed his faith.
When the barrier had been shattered, and Magronoth had re-entered the world, the Angelkind had been there. They had caught Magronoth, naming him Kamrad, and Gabbedar had condemned him to the fate of the pit of the netherworld, were the dead spirits of darkness lay. He had been cast down by the Angelkind, down into the deepest, darkest and most hate-filled pit. He had been cast down to were Galvanark lay chained, having now grown wings. He had been chained next to Galvanark, with the impenetrable chains of Agrammalech forged by the Angelkind Assunri. He had been chained there and, left with little else to do, spoke with Galvanark and shared his story. And he had plotted. He had plotted and told Galvanark, once they were free, what he would plan on doing, of the vengeance that would belong to him.
And the darkness within Kamrad – the darkness had continued to grow. And, in time, the chains had been shattered. He then shattered Galvanark’s own chains, and they began their journey upwards – a journey of a million steps. And then they had parted, sensing they were near the surface, to see if either could find the quickest way out and tell the other. Galvanark had found freedom first, and now waited his dark lord, his dark master. He knew it was inevitable, that Kamrad would find freedom. He knew that. And as he sat and waited, Galvanark thought on the vengeance that would soon be his.
Sleeping in the early cold of the morning, Galvanark was wakened by a noise. He looked down into the pit in the early dawn light, and there, accompanied by three Blag-goblin’s, Kamrad was climbing up to him. He watched him, and after the half of an hour had passed, his master stood before him. Kamrad motioned to the three Blag-goblin’s. ‘They are former servants, Galvanark. They will come in useful.’
‘Yes master. And now?’ Magronoth climbed up onto the back of Galvanark and bid him take to the skies. As Galvanark began his flight upwards, Kamrad finally responded to his query. ‘And now destiny awaits.’
‘The Fellowship Anew’
In truth, new life – new beginnings – are sometimes not that easy to adjust to. Leithwynn, sitting next to Glimmerthroat, observing Adenfartfist Gammidge in conversation with Fungellios, contemplated what had become their new life and new beginning.
They had been a fellowship once, all those years ago in Abranda, and then they had each gone to the far west of the Bronze havens, and then beyond.
And now, in their new home of Tarador, Tarador on what had become known as the ‘Emerald Isle’ of ‘Eire’, they had tasted the water of life, the elixir of the Angelkind, which kept them everlasting like the sun. They had been granted this for their service in the war of the amulet at the end of the third age. Terragon had granted them the elixir, from the pool of eternity in Tarador, and they had drunk deeply.
And now, four centuries later, they were again in the prime of life, the elixir having fully restored them.
‘And this quest of yours Glimmerthroat, to see home again. When shall you be departing?’
‘Dwarves are unpredictable creatures, my elven friend. Who can say when a Dwarf will make up his mind for certain on a matter.’
‘Unpredictable you say. How so, valiant dwarf?’
‘Yes valiant dwarf, how so?’ Glimmerthroat and Leithwynn turned to the familiar voice that had spoken, finding it to be indeed the one they had hoped for.
‘Gladfist,’ said Leithwynn. ‘You have returned.’
‘Apparently like the unpredictable dwarves, the return of one of the Estrogenica can never be quite fathomed. But yes, Leithwynn, to answer your question, I have returned. And is that Fungellios and Adenfartfist Gammidge I see approaching.’
Fungellios and Adenfartfist, who had noticed the appearance of the ancient Spellcaster, had wandered up from the fountain they had been sitting by, and greeted their old friend.
‘Hail Gladfist,’ said Fungellios.
‘You’ve returned then,’ said Adenfartfist.
‘Yes, I have returned master Gammidge. And it is good to see you all looking so well, and in fine spirits as well. This past century must have been good to you.’
‘It has been that long, hasn’t it,’ said Fungellios. ‘A hundred years since you left us.’
‘Yes indeed Fungellios. As I told you all on my departure, there were still things that needed to be looked to in Abranda. And I have much news of that to share with you over these next few weeks. But first, were is Blatherthroat? Is he nearby?’
Fungellios looked at Adenfartfist, a little hesitant to speak of Blatherthroat. ‘Blatherthroat is with Eldrongo, Gladfist. He left near a quarter of a century ago.’
Gladfist had a look of concern on his ancient demeanour. ‘With Eldrongo? Why has he left his home?’
Adenfartfist blurted it out. ‘He wants to be Spellcaster. Like you, master Gladfist.’
Gladfist looked at Adenfartfist and Fungellios. He turned to Leithwynn. ‘Is this true? Blatherthroat is attempting to learn the ways of magic?’
Leithwynn nodded. ‘I am afraid so, Gladfist. It started when your Estrogenica brother, Gladfire, returned. Blatherthroat grew fascinated with the stories Gladfire shared of his time in Abranda, and when Gladfire and Eldrongo departed for Angelkeep with Morwengerger, Blatherthroat had convinced Gladfire to let him accompany him and to teach him the ways of magic.’
Gladfist nodded. ‘That is a tale. The funny thing is I was with Gladfire early this year in eastern Hardfart and he made no mention of such a thing. Perhaps it slipped his notice.’
‘I dare say it did,’ commented Fungellios.
‘What were you doing in eastern Hardfart?’ asked Adenfartfist. ‘I would have thought you would have tried to forget that forsaken land.’
‘Adenfartfist Gammidge! How good it is too see you,’ said Gladfist, sitting down on the stone steps of one of the gardens of Tarador. ‘I was in Hardfart discussing things with two very close friends of mine, Adenfartfist. The Blue Spellcasters they are known as. Fellow Estrogenica. They go by the name of Gladstar and GladValley.’
‘Blue Spellcasters?’ queried Sam. ‘How many of the Estrogenica are they’re anyway, master Gladfist.’
‘That is an interesting question Adenfartfist,’ said Fungellios. ‘I don’t think Gladfist has ever answered that question.’
‘The ways of Yah Shaddai are often beyond knowing, Fungellios. And, likewise, we of the Estrogenica, who are of the Spellkind, servants of the Angelkind, have ways also beyond the knowing of mere mortals.’
‘Yet, now we are no longer mere mortals, Gladfist,’ said Fungellios softly.
‘Aye lad,’ said Glimmerthroat. ‘That we are no longer.’
‘Indeed,’ said Gladfist, placing his hand of affection on Glimmerthroat’s shoulder. ‘And, I suppose as you now partake of immortality through the elixir of life, that you should now be privy to the ways of eternity?’
‘Perhaps such knowledge is now appropriate, Gladfist,’ said Leithwynn. ‘They are no longer youths – no longer children. Perhaps, as such, they should likewise share in some of the mysteries of the world.’
‘A fair comment, Leithwynn,’ said Gladfist. ‘Very well, then. I will speak of things ancient. You know me as Gladfist, yet that is a name given to me by men. It means Wand Elf, of all things.’
‘Elf?’ queried Adenfartfist.
‘I was once mistaken as such. Yet I am not Elf, nor human. This form you see before you was chosen. It was chosen for the task we of the Estrogenica were given – the nurturing of the children of Yah Shaddai. The Estrogenica are five in number. Gladstone was the head of our order, dressed in white. I myself was Gladfist the Bronze, now in white. Gladfire, who you have met, is Gladfire the brown, third in seniority. And, finally, Gladstar and GladValley, the blue Spellcasters. Those two are equal in rank in our order of the White Council.’
‘You said five in number, master Gladfist. Don’t you mean four, now that Gladstone is dead?’ said Adenfartfist.
‘No, Adenfartfist. There were, and still are, five of the Estrogenica. While Gladstone did die a mortal death, from there he returned to the Timeless Halls of Heaven, and saw once more the face of Yah Shaddai.’
‘And how do you know this? Asked Fungellios.
‘Because I told him,’ said a familiar voice, just then making itself known.
The fellowship turned to see a Spellcaster, dressed in Bronze, with an all to familiar face.
‘Gladstone!’ exclaimed Leithwynn, reaching for his sword.
‘Be at peace, Leithwynn,’ said Gladfist, calming him. ‘While this is indeed Gladstone, he is no longer what – no longer who - he was. He is redeemed and he is once again among the Estrogenica. And now he is Gladstone the Bronze.’
‘Gladstone the Bronze!’ exclaimed Fungellios to himself.
‘And you trust him!’, exclaimed Adenfartfist.
‘Master Adenfartfist,’ began Gladstone. ‘When one has been lectured to by Yah Shaddai himself, one begins to remember the purpose his life serves. I am no longer who I was. No longer of the power of darkness.’
Adenfartfist looked at Gladstone. ‘God lectured you?’
‘Yes, God,’ Gladstone said to himself. ‘The western word they now use about Yah. But to answer your question, yes master Adenfartfist, God lectured me. He makes himself known to all the Angelkind and Spellkind. It is from him we have come to be. It is from Yah Shaddai that life begins. And, so, when I received a correction to my former thinking, a new life, as it were, began. I once again rekindled my love for and passion for Abranda and its people, and Yah entrusted to me once more my position amongst the Estrogenica, now as Gladstone the Bronze, under Master Gladfist.’
‘Why would Yah trust him, Gladfist. After all he did?’
‘Adenfartfist, I know you are not the most trusting of souls.’
‘With good reason,’ said Adenfartfist, eyeing Gladstone.
‘Yet all of us – from the greatest to the least – deserve a second chance. Would you not agree.’
‘Come on Adenfartfist. Gladstone is now our friend.’ said Fungellios, nodding in the direction of Gladstone, who nodded likewise in response.
‘Your friend, Fungellios. I will never trust him.’
‘Be that as it may, master Gammidge, Gladstone is now a friend of ours. Isn’t that right Gladfist?’ said Glimmerthroat.
‘Indeed that is true,’ responded Gladfist.
‘Tell us. How fairs Liv at Raverfirestork?’ asked Leithwynn.
‘I am afraid, since Andrewsius’s passing, she is still in mourning. She promises me that, in the course of due time, she will rejoin the land of the living, as she has so elegantly stated. Yet, for now, she dresses in black and mourns her lost love. Yet, I sense, her mourning is near complete. She has finally accepted that Andrewsius was a man, and she an immortal elf. And that the life of love between them, which indeed was true love, was and could only be fleeting, as the snows of winter likewise melting with the onset of spring.’
Gladstone spoke up. ‘The affairs of the heart, as my brother would put it, are dark and hidden at times, often never showing their true selves. Liv’s love for Andrewsius, though, was plain to all. Even I at Isotope knew of this love. Her heart though, as all do, will mend. It will heal and come, one day, to the brightness of a new day dawning and realize that new life inevitably draws one onwards, as dawn moves onwards to a brand new day. She may never forget Andrewsius, yet her spirit will move inevitably and inexorably forwards. She is elven. She is of the blood of immortality.’
‘Well said, Gladstone,’ said Gladfist.
Adenfartfist looked at Gladstone and, somewhat consoled, nodded softly.
Fungellios spoke up. ‘What news of the the County? How fares life in Grobblebomon?’
Gladfist smiled. ‘My dear Fungellios, as much as life in the past age had its comings and goings, rarely familiar with the ways of Grobbleboms and the County, Grobblebomon stands much the same. And upon my last visit, Blugerobe was again being occupied. By one certain young female Grobblebom by the name of ‘Jando Cartfire’.
‘Jando Cartfire!’ exclaimed Fungellios. ‘Blugerobe is still in Cartfire ownership?’
‘Indeed it is, Fungellios my friend. I spoke with her of you and Blatherthroat. I did not mention your being still alive, but did not quite deny that either, and I feel with some of the things I had said and some of her queries, she may have gained suspicion. We had a wonderful evening with her father, tracing Cartfire ancestry and finding yourself and Blatherthroat amongst their ancestry. She is something of a niece of yours it would seem. A fiery, redheaded Cartfire. A handful even on a good day.’
Fungellios smiled, ever so pleased to learn Blugerobe was still in Cartfire ownership, and curious about his new ‘niece’ Jando.
‘Yes, I see Jando in you,’ said Gladstone. ‘Really, quite a strong resemblance. And the same passion for life, it would seem.’
Fungellios smiled, ever so pleased at news of new blood in the Cartfire clan.
‘And the Gammidge’s?’ asked Adenfartfist. Gladfist turned to Aden and placed his ancient hands upon Aden’s shoulders. ‘I believe, Adenfartfist, if I have it correct, you are now a great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather.’
‘How many greats was that Gladfist? I lost count,’ bemoaned Adenfartfist.
‘Too many, it would seem, for you dear Adenfartfist. Suffice to say you are a father yet again. Madremmlech Gammidge was the latest addition to your household upon my parting from the County. A young wee lad, barely eighteen.’
‘Madremmlech?’ queried Fungellios.
‘Yes Madremmlech,’ replied Gladfist. ‘I can only hope that the foolishness of ‘Madremmelech Bragenbrag’ does not run in his veins. But no, forgive me. Madremmelech was dear to me, as to all of us, and his passing his missed.’
The fellowship paused for a moment, reflecting on one now gone from them, along with the beloved Pertwelthird Toolington.
‘Really, my friends,’ began Gladfist, ‘life in Abranda comes and goes much as you have always known it too. The kingdoms of men are currently at peace, a much needed peace, and little it seems would disturb our pleasant slumber. Little yet, perhaps, not nothing.’
‘You would speak of the rumblings,’ queried Gladstone to Gladfist. ‘Are you sure they should yet know.’
‘It is best, often, to air things when hearts are affected, Gladstone. And I think that this fellowship of ours, having grown strong from past battles and adventures, can warrant news such as we have.’
‘What news?’ asked Fungellios, whose curiosity had been aroused.
‘Yes, tell us Gladfist,’ said Leithwynn, a comment echoed by the others present.
Gladfist stood and walked over to the fountain, looking down into the pool were goldfish were swimming around. He turned, looked at Gladstone, and looked up at the heavens. The news he had was rumour – and perhaps just that; nothing but rumour. Yet, if true – if indeed true – then the lives of the fellowship would soon be set on a course of action. An inevitable and unalterable course of action. He took an apple out of his vast cloak, from a hidden pocket, and took a bite. He savoured the freshness, just picked in a garden of Tarador, and looked at the fellowship. He would now speak of things he himself feared.
‘Rumour has it, friends, of an ancient enemy having returned to the world. An ancient enemy, surpassing the might of even Blastickle.’
Fungellios and Adenfartfist looked at Gladfist, a look of concern on their faces, yet neither spoke. Eventually Leithwynn spoke up.
‘There is, Gladfist, only one greater in might than Blastickle. And he is gone, lost in the great void. He can not return.’
‘Leithwynn, I can only wish that that were true. Yet, it would seem in the mysteries of prophecy, that the ancient oracle of Karatan, once known as Namorius of the Angelkind, judge of the dead, the oracle of ‘Warfist Warfistath’ may now, in the eternal wisdom of Yah Shaddai, be, dare I say it, coming to pass.
Leithwynn looked at Gladfist, and turned away. He remembered, then, that prophecy taught him in youth, knowing the fate of the world and the final great battle.
‘What is Warfist Warfistath, Gladfist?’ asked Fungellios.
‘Perhaps I can answer that,’ began Gladstone.
Karatan, or Namorius as he was once known as, is of the Angelkind. Yet he does not reside here in Tarador, choosing to remain in Angelkeep. He uttered, and never by his own cognition, the oracle of Warfist Warfistath.
According to the prophecy our ancient enemy, Magronoth will discover how to break the Door of Night, and will destroy the Sun and the Moon. Out of love for the sun and moon, Exeter will return from the sky and shall meet Talibar, Fiondel, and Tadrick Belambar on the plains of Angelkeep. Supposedly, all the Free Peoples of the world will participate in this final battle, Elves, Men and Dwarves alike.
There the forces of the Angelkind shall fight against Magronoth, or Kamrad as he is known, who will have resurrected many of his old followers, including our dread enemy Blastickle. Talibar will wrestle with him, but it will be by the hand of Exeter that finally death and destruction will be dealt to Kamrad. Exeter will run his black sword Excallevere through Kamrad's heart, thus avenging the Children of Shem. Then thePelodian Mountains will be levelled, the three triangles of Blastickle will be recovered from the Earth, sea, and sky, and Felleners spirit shall be released from the halls of Karatan to give them to Yeslek, who will break them and rekindle the light of Sanctuary. The battle will end and renew the world's existence: all the Elves shall awake and the Powers will be young again. Also, according to Dwarven legends, they will help their maker Yah recreate the world in all its glory again.
Following this, there will be the song of legend. This song will sing into being a new world. Men, chosen men, the songmages, will sing it with the Angelkind. It is unknown what the fate of the old races, or of the old world, will be in the new one, as Karatan did not say. Even the Angelkind do not know anything of the second world or the song of legend. All the Angeldkind know is that the Second Music, the Song of Legend, will be greater than the First Music, the Song of Creation.
Strangely, two of such prophecies exist, each with slightly differing detail, which suggests numerous possibilities. In the original prophecy it was written that none of the dooms he had declared showed whether the world would ever be repaired. Whereas the Second Prophecy explicitly states that the Elves and Angelkind shall be renewed after Warfist Warfistath and that the fate of Men is unknown.’
The fellowship, thinking on the words of Gladstone, contemplated the great day of Warfist Warfistath.
Fungellios, having made the connection in his mind about the rumours of an ancient evil having returned, spoke up.
‘Magronoth has returned. They are the rumours, aren’t they.’
‘I am afraid so, Fungellios,’ responded Gladfist.
‘Did I hear correctly that Blastickle will be resurrected? I thought we were rid of him for good,’ said Sam.
‘Yes, that is the prophecy. Blastickle, and many other servants of Magronoth, will re-awaken, to partake in the final battle. To show the final wrath of the Hand of Doom,’ responded Gladstone.
‘Again with a war to end an age.’ Stated Glimmerthroat, a slight tone of sarcasm apparent to all.
‘Yes, Glimmerthroat. It would appear this battle is to end the fourth age. I dare say little else could.’
‘And beyond that,’ asked Fungellios.
‘A time, perhaps, my Grobblebom friend, in which the ways of the Estrogenica may gradually be less and less called after. There are other tales, traditions as it were, connected to Karatan's prophesy, which speak of a new emerging world. A world much less like this current one and dominated, in the main, by the children of men. A world in which Grobbleboms, dwarves and elves are spoken of in myth and legend. A world in which the children of men have emerged as the final great victors.’
Adenfartfist looked concerned. ‘If that happens Gladfist, what will happen to the Grobbleboms?’
‘I feel, master Adenfartfist, that perhaps only Yah Shaddai himself could answer you that question. But, in speculation, they will have withdrawn from the world, in the main. Withdrawn into lost and hidden cities, away from the new world of men. Alongside them the elves and dwarves will remain hidden as, supposedly in the most ancient prophecy shared with the Estrogenica, the children of Men and their great King, the chosen one, rule Abranda.’
‘Great King?’ queried Leithwynn?
‘The anointed one, Leithwynn. The one upon which Yah Shaddai will place his spirit – his essence. The one hidden from us for the ages, to be revealed in the last days – in the times of the last things.’
‘We elves know nothing of such a prophecy.’ Stated Leithwynn flatly.
‘Nor would you, began Gladstone. It is of the domain of the Angelkind and Spellkind, and of them alone. It is shared rarely at that, and with only the chosen few who will show responsibility with such information. And, from Gladfist’s judgement, it appears you are among the chosen.’
‘And this age of men. Will it last forever? Will elves return to Abranda?’ asked Leithwynn earnestly.
Gladfist looked at him, understanding his natural concerns. ‘There is much in the ancient prophecy, yet much not remembered, as it was fGemstoneidden to be recorded, but to live on only in memory. Yet, there is a figure. A figure in opposition to the anointed one. An opponent – an adversary. A power, greater in darkness and might than even Magronoth himself.’
‘And who is this power? asked Fungellios.
Gladfist looked at Gladstone. ‘That power is the power that tempts us to evil, even still to this day as we are tempted. It goes by many names. Ha Satan. The Devil. The fallen one. It comes from the realm of the anointed one, hidden from us – a realm created, it would seem, parallel to our abode in the timeless halls. Yet, its spirit lurks even here, and would one day conquer and destroy us also, if it were to prevail. It is at the end of the age of men that the fallen one will take part in the final battle with the anointed one. And, if the elves are to return to Abranda, it is perhaps beyond then, a time we know nothing of, that Abranda will call them home once again.’
Leithwynn nodded, seemingly satisfied at that answer.
Adenfartfist stroked his head, his head full of news. ‘So much to take in, Gladfist. This Magronoth, who you named Kamrad. I have heard the Angelkind speak of him from time to time. Who is he exactly?’ asked Adenfartfist, turning to Gladstone.
‘It is best you sit Adenfartfist, for I shall speak at length. Magronoth, originally known as Kamrad was the most powerful of the Angelkind, but turning to darkness, became Magronoth, the "Adversary", the ultimateantagonist of the world, from whom all evil in the world ultimately stems. Blastickle, one of the Spellkind, switched his allegiance and became the principal lieutenant of Magronoth. Before the creation of the world, Kamrad was the most powerful of the Angelkind. He contended with Yah, via the Music of the Angelkind. Kamrad was jealous of Yah, and wanted to create and rule other wills himself. He spent a long time looking for the Secret Fire, the “Flame Imperishable”. Unlike his fellow Angelkind, Kamrad was too proud to admit that his creations were simply discoveries wholly made possible by, and therefore belonging to, Yah. Instead, Kamrad aspired to the level of Yah, the true Creator of all possibilities. Kamrad attempted to alter the Music and introduced what he believed to be elements purely of his own design. As part of these efforts, he drew many weaker-willed Angelkind to him — creating a counter to Yah’s main theme. Ironically, these attempts did not truly subvert the Music, but only elaborated Yah’s original intentions, the Music of Yah, on depth and beauty precisely because of the strife and sadness Kamrad’s disharmonies, and their rectification, introduced. Magronoth, once the most powerful being in the world, spent his will on his vast armies and followers, so that in the War of Wrath, as his armies were swept away before the host of Exeter, he was captured by Exeter and cast off his throne. And as we know, Magronoth's spirit was cast out beyond the Walls of Night.’
Adenfartfist spoke up. ‘And it is from there he has returned then? He has broken the walls of night?
‘That we do not yet know for sure, Adenfartfist,’ said Gladfist. ‘Our information comes from Gladfire, who in turned learned this news from the Blue Spellcasters. They have a Vision Mirror, and they claim they have seen something. A vision, as it were. A vision of a figure riding a dragon who they were certain was ‘Galvanark’, yet strangely now with wings. And they sensed within the vision a voice of evil, one which spoke these words, ‘I see you.’ And then nothing more.
Leithwynn grimaced. ‘Those words sound all too familiar, Gladfist. Words of evil, once spoken to those we have once known.’ Gladfist nodded, recalling the event in Randarak all those years ago.
‘Then he has returned then. It is certain?’ began Adenfartfist.
‘Nothing, truly, can be certain, Adenfartfist. It was once deemed certain that the Sun will always shine, yet perhaps that, soon, may not be. In this life we live so much happens that is, in some ways, as unpredictable as our dwarven friend Glimmerthroat.’
Glimmerthroat nodded, a little embarrassed in response.
‘Yet, if I were to say whether I believed Magronoth had returned, I fear I could not now deny this proposition. And, it is because of this reality, amongst many, that I have returned to you. For now we have work – again work – and a quest to undertake. If, indeed, Warfist Warfistath approaches, then there is much to prepare for and much to be concerned with. A battle approaches. A final, dark and bitter battle. A battle which will resolve much in Abranda and prepare the way for the new age dawning. It is a battle, my dear friends, that we need to be prepared for. A battle which will change us, once and for all.’
Heads nodded at Gladfist’s words. Faces which had seen evil and bitterness before, nodded, understanding the war which lay ahead. Understanding, yet not knowing, that the fate of their world was to again be put to the ultimate test.
‘Yet, let us retire to the palace. I wish to speak with Terragon, as I have not seen him since returning. There is still so much to speak of. So much to be readied and prepared for. So much, yet again, ahead of us my dear friends.’ Upon those words, Gladfist turned and made his way up the stone steps towards the palace of Terragon, at the heart of Tarador on the Emerald Isle. The fellowship fell in line behind him and each of them contemplated the future. A future that was, as inexorably as the hand of Magronoth himself, now moving towards them. A future most uncertain indeed.
‘An Unexpected Return’
‘Well, all things considered Gladfire, I have had the time of my life. And now, so many years gone, but now, to see the County once more. To see home again. And to see if Blugerobe is still there, as I left it.’
Gladfire smiled at his companion of a quarter of a century, one whom he had now taught much of the ways of Spellcasterry. ‘I will, of course, visit you from time to time Blatherthroat. Yet my brothers in Hardfart and I have still much to do in Abranda. And while I have accompanied you thus far, I yearn to return to them.’
‘As soon as we get to Blugerobe and I am settled, I will let you go then. As we agreed Gladfire.’
‘As we agreed then.’
Gladfire the Brown of the Estrogenica, and his travelling companion, Blatherthroat Cartfire, had left Raverfirestork three nights prior and were approaching the County. For 25 long years Gladfire had taught Blatherthroat many lessons of Spellcasterry, first in Angelkeep, and then in his journeys in Abranda. Gladfire had been disappointed when Blatherthroat had missed seeing Gladfist in Hardfart, Blatherthroat having been holed up in restored Isotope, studying various texts of Spellcasterry that Gladfire had devised in his early years upon Abranda. At first, Gladfire had been somewhat reluctant to teach Blatherthroat things. At Angelkeep, Gladfire had given Blatherthroat a small gem. A small, firey gem, in the form of an amulet to wear around his neck. He had not explained to Blatherthroat the origin of the Amulet, which he knew he mustn’t for fear of what it could do in evil hands. Yet he had explained the basic notion that Blatherthroat’s newfound powers of Spellcasterry drew their strength from the gem. And then he had taught him much in the way of the code of ethics of those who stood on the white council in their service to Yah Shaddai and the Angelkind. And, perhaps foolishly, yet in a spirit of patience, Gladfire had allowed Blatherthroat to discover the ways of the Estrogenica and tutored him on the responsibilities that followed.
His new apprentice had studied carefully, attentively listening to Gladfire’s every word. He had studied, and carefully applied his art under Gladfire’s careful eye.
In the end, Gladfire understood that, as befitted his mandate amongst the children of Yah Shaddai, that Blatherthroat be allowed to learn those things which his heart desired. To grow in knowledge and skill, as a child now chosen for immortality, was rightfully due. And while he suspected that he may not have the complete approval of the new head of order of the Estrogenica, Gladfist the white, Gladfire had been willing to take any rebuke upon himself to guide his new steward.
‘Tell me a tale, Gladfire. Tell me another tale. A tale of days long ago,’ asked Blatherthroat of his teacher.
‘Another tale, Blatherthroat. You seem never to get sick of them. Yet, as you wish.’ Gladfire looked up at the trees along their road and thought on the many ancient tales he could share. And then one, in particular, came to him.
‘I will share with you, Blatherthroat, a tale which tells of the time before Time. Yah Shaddai, as his names imply, existed before and independently of all else. He could take a particular concept, thesis or theme, and ‘give a secret fire to it’, will it into being, so it existed as a distinct object or entity. Such existence itself is a representation and concretization of divine conceptualizations: there is first the idea, then the concrete, or ‘objective’, manifestation commensurate with that idea. The ‘Angelkind’, meaning ‘Holy Ones’, were the first such concepts-embodied or themes-realized; they were and are the children ‘of Yah Shaddai's thought.’ Upon their creation, when nothing else existed, Yah Shaddai taught the Angelkind the art of ‘Music’, which became their life and work. So Heaven became filled with the making of Music. With each Angelkind comprehending at first only those secondary ideas and themes most closely related to that primary idea of Yah Shaddai's which pre-figured itself, these creative musical elaborations only gradually, through exposure to each other, become collaborative. But it is that whole - that communal collaboration - which Yah Shaddai delighted in, and charted out life and the creation thereupon. It was joy, and it was sadness, drama and passion, and these are the things of our lives, as they have always been so. So the life of Blatherthroat began long ago, long before his own imagination rose up to challenge the wisdom of all. And that, my dear Grobblebom friend, ends my tale.
Blatherthroat smiled, ever so pleased at the tale. ‘Another marvelous legend, Gladfire. Another marvelous legend.’
Gladfire nodded, happy to bring pleasure to his steward.
‘How goes your chronicle, Blatherthroat. Now that you have spoken with Liv, the last voice you desired to learn from, is it in fact now complete?’
Blatherthroat smiled, ever so pleased to be able to share the mountain of his lifes work since the end of the third age. His first chronicle, ‘There and back again,’ which the Angelkind had kindly dubbed ‘The Heroes Tale’, had proven lovingly adored by all whom he shared it with. And elves amongst the Angelkind in Angelkeep had faithfully transribed the text onto 150 of their sacred scrolls – to be kept for the ‘Ages’, so they had said. Yet, he had since its completion, begun a new work – a second greater and mightier work – of the times of the Fellowship of the One amulet until their departing to the Bronze Havens. A history of the War of the One amulet.
‘It is now, in content, complete Gladfire. Only editing and rearranging of the material into the final form need be done.’
‘And do you have a title for this master’s work,’ Gladfire inquired.
‘It is to be a work in three parts – a trilogy, as it were. And the saga is to be known as, if my elven friends again faithfully transribe it, as ‘The Lord of the amulets’, with each volume of their own title, as yet unformulated.'
‘The Lord of the amulets,’ echoed Gladfire. ‘A grand title if I do say so. And, dare I ask, just who was the ‘Lord of the amulets’, master Blatherthroat.
‘Who indeed,’ Blatherthroat said quietly to himself.
They traveled along the road and Blatherthroat’s thoughts turned to Liv, whom they had just 3 days earlier left behind them at Raverfirestork. He thought on the death she had gone to, after Andrewsius' passing. She had gone to the grave, having given up immortal life. Yet, such a choice was, ultimately, not her own to make. And while she had rested many years, her body had never decayed and in time, her mourning in death for Andrewsius' own death had been completed and her body returned to the immortal life of the Elven kind. Yet still she had mourned. Still she had, from Raverfirestork to which she returned, shown sorrow for her lost one. Sorrow of a heart that could not mend. But, as there is a season and a time to all things, her heart had, finally, healed. And that, in fact, seemingly around the time of Blatherthroat and Gladfire’s arBrittorial at Raverfirestork. They had seen her in black the first day, other elves telling him she had dressed always as such since her rebirth, yet utteamulets of surprise when the next day she appeared in all the splendour she was once known for. It would seem an old friendly face, Blatherthroat’s own, had finally cheered her up. And she had returned, once more, and finally so, to the land of the living.
Blatherthroat spoke much to her and queried much of the history of the time of the War of the amulet, her having shared much information. She spoke to him, though, of other details, details that were relevant to his work of chronicling the events of the war of the amulet. He had, from Isotope, studied the manuscripts surviving from the black book, to which he had contributed much of the material before leaving Abranda. Yet, later, he had again in his new youth rewritten down the accounts afresh, with the best of the memories of the fellowship also at his disposal. And then Liv had mentioned that amongst the Toolingtons in the County existed, likely, the most complete stories of the war extant on Abranda. And so, although he felt his work likely now complete and suitable for the attentive eyes of the elven scribes of Angelkeep, he would finalise once and for all in Grobblebomon with the Toolington families, the legend of ‘The Lord of the amulets.’
* * * * *
Gothmog, lord of the Blag-goblins, having been freed from the pit of despair by his lord Kamrad, stood at the base of Algar restored, the fortress of his former captaincy under Kamrad’s authority. Kamrad, having arrived with the three Blag-goblins upon the back of the now flying Galvanark, having been brought back to life from the pit of despair, had departed him with Galvanark and the two other Blag-goblins for other affairs, not shared with Gothmog. His duty was simple, though – the restoration of Algar, which the Angelkind had destroyed. And as the months had passed, he had worked tirelessly in the rebuilding of the keep, a solitary worker beneath a barren sky. He had worked, sweated, and grown many callouses. Yet he had not tired. He had not tired until that very morning, when the final stones had been put in place, and the upper level completed, now towering high into the sky, almost as a tower touching the heavens. And now, for the moment, he would rest.
His duty now, until the return of Magronoth, was the gathering of orc-kind to Algar. He would, to accomplish this task, travel to the land of the east, Abranda, the Centreworld. It would be a long journey swimming the ancient ocean to Abranda, but his dread form was capable of it. And from there he would travel to Hardfart to seek beneath the mount of darkness and its region, those ancient dead orcs, who would be restored to Magronoth's service. He felt Hardfart the best of the places to seek the beginnings of the dread army of darkness, although other choices remained. Perhaps he would think of some other, yet for now Hardfart, as Kamrad had given him no directive on the issue, would suffice to bring the armies of dark to the life of the blood and death of their ancient enemies before them. They would, inevitably, bow the knee to Gothmog, and later Magronoth, and until his return would populate Algar and restore it to its former glories.
Perhaps, now so more than ever, Gothmog feared Magronoth. The power, now, within his dark lord was immense. As immense as the dark of night surrounding the world. For in that dark power, he had raised Algar from the depths of the watery graves. He had raised, a score of leagues long and wide, the island of Thanagar, home to Algar. He had stood on the back of Galvanark, above the ocean, and had spoken ancient words. And from his body came forth darkness – a great, enormous and powerful darkness – the shadow of doom itself, which, in its evil omnipotence had sundered the waters surface, diving down, deep down below, to grab hold of the very foundations of the world, to raise forth, once more to the world above, the dread peaks of Thanagar.
Magronoth feared that hand, that shadow of the dark, having been so near to its presence, sensing a spirit of hatred and despair within it, ancient and devastating in its malevolent intent. He feared that hand and swore to himself that no matter what task Magronoth set him, he would faithfully undertake it, for otherwise the power he had felt – the power of absolute evil – could one dark and fateful day claim him to its malicious might.
And so, when rested, he would make final decisions of were to start his work, and await the returned of his beloved, yet feared, dreaded dark lord.
* * * * *
Magronoth stood in the heart of darkness, upon the bridge overlooking the firey pit of lava below. Having left Gothmog at Algar to rebuild the fortress, and then Ludrin and Groddle, the other two Blag-goblins, at Shamino to see to its restoration also, Kamrad had flown on Galvanark to Central Hardfart to the Mountain of Darkness. Like what he had gifted Galvanark with in the pit of torment, Kamrad could intimately sense the realm of spirit and history – as if the two were fused as one in a pattern of the great music – and in the heart of the Mountain of Darkness he knew that such was the place were he would bring forth to new death in life, his former servant Blastickle. And, yet, also another. A minor figure – a figure of no consequence – yet one who, perhaps, may one day come in useful.
The hand of doom reached down from Kamrad, into the lava. It reached down and sought out spiritual particles, gathering them together, uniting them in a form – a form born of fire. And it undertook, also, the work on the minor form, far easier to complete. And, finally, a solitary small object.
The darkness knit blood and bone together – flesh and spirit – and then, work completed, it raised the two forms and the object up from the firey pit, to stand them before him. He Toolington the object into his hand, and then, he touched one, and then the other of the figures, on the mouth, and spoke a single ancient word.
And then life came to be within the two figures.
The larger figure, Blastickle, opened his eyes, and stared at Kamrad. He stared with a hatred having, it seemed, grown even more malevolent. And Blastickle spoke, saying one brutal word, ‘Vengeance.’
‘Come,’ said Kamrad. ‘We have much to do.’ Blastickle began following as he strode along the bridge outwards. Yet, he turned to see the other, small, miserable figure. And, looking at the object in his hand, an amulet with elvish markings made visible from the heat, he tossed it to the small pathetic figure. ‘Here, cretin. Take this,’ spoke the dark lord. The figure took the amulet and, with a glee as if rising from the dead, held it to the air and said two soulless words – ‘My Treasure.’
* * * * *
The music sparkled throughout Blugerobe, melodious trill after melodious trill and suddenly, without warning, Jando’s young cousin, Merridae, began singing with the voice of a Angelkind under inspiration, and Blugerobe came alive with Song. Jando played on the keyboard passionately as her cousin sang with all her heart and soul and the joyful melody played along in the hearts of nearby neighbours, used to such musical delight from the Cartfire of Blugerobe.
Eventually, though, the song came to an end and Jando spoke joyously, ‘Oh well done, Merridae. So beautiful your voice has become.’
‘Why thank you, dear cousin. But how could I ever sing such joy without your masterly accompaniment.’
‘You are so sweet. Well, time is getting on, Merridae. Methinks the day has gotten the better of us and here we are, still not dressed for this evening’s revelries.’
‘Oh, we have time enough,’ responded Merridae. ‘There is still much sand in the hourglass by my reckoning.’
‘Yet have you given no thought to Master Toolington’s desires to dance with thee this evening?’ queried Jando to her young cousin. ‘I would have thought you would have liked to be early to wait upon his desires, for I know he likes thee.’
‘Like all gentlemanly Grobbleboms, he can wait upon his lady. If his intentions are honourable and good he will gain the pleasure of my company soon enough.’
‘Ooo. The fair company of Maid Merridae. I am sure he is beside himself with anticipation,’ responded Jando, the tone of her loving sarcasm quite obvious to Merridae.
‘Well he had better be,’ responded Merridae quite dramatically, but with a subtle smile on her face, leading to both of them bursting out in laughter.
‘Well, enough with song. We had better get ourselves ready, for tonight we celebrate old one-eye Toolingtons birthday. Eleventy Seven, a grand old age if there ever was one,’ said Jando, to which the two of them made to their rooms.
Jando was in her room in Blugerobe, in her undergarments, holding her nights dress to her front, looking in the mirror when suddenly, without warning, a face appeared in her window – a rather ancient looking Grobblebom. She screamed, ‘Peeping tom, peeping tom,’ and slammed the window in his face, closing the blinds. Merridae came running in to see what all the fuss was about, Jando explaining they had an unwelcome visitor. Just then the front door of Blugerobe resounded with a solid sharp series of knocks and Jando put on a cloak and Merridae accompanying her, went to see what all the fuss was about.
She opened the door and, standing in front of her, the peeping tom of a Grobblebom and an old looking human. The Grobblebom smiled warmly at her, came forward and gave her a hug, and bustled his way into Blugerobe, coming into the main living room. Jando just looked on, completely and utterly amazed, a look of bewilderment upon her face. She followed the Grobblebom into the living room, and the elderly human with the pointed hat came in following them.
‘Home. Blugerobe. Home at last. Thank the maker.’ Blatherthroat spoke those words, looking adoamuletly and affectionately at his home, and turned to look at Jando. ‘And are you a Cartfire?’ he asked her.
Jando looked at him, and suddenly became furious at the intrusion. Just who was this stranger to come bustling and charging in as if he owned the place.
‘Yes, of course I am a Cartfire. Blugerobe has long been in Cartfire hands.’
‘Oh, that is good news.’
Gladfire spoke up. ‘I think, Blatherthroat, a little introduction might put the ladies worries to rest.’
‘Oh, yes of course. I was forgetting myself.’ He turned to Jando. ‘I, dear lady Cartfire, am Blatherthroat Cartfire. I once resided here many long years ago.’
Jando looked at him, instantly puzzled and turned her head, looking at Merridae. She returned her gaze to Blatherthroat. ‘The only Blatherthroat Cartfire who ever lived here, a great uncle of mine, left for the Bronze havens to live with the elves centuries ago. And unless you are claiming to be him, then I know of no other Blatherthroat Cartfire who has resided here.’
‘One in the same,’ responded Blatherthroat. ‘Oh my. Is that my grandfather clock,’ he said, walking over to the clock against the wall. Jando looked at him, quietly puzzled over his claim to be her great uncle Blatherthroat. Perhaps the old Grobblebom was just turning senile, but he looked harmless enough.
‘Look, Blatherthroat. If that is your name. I am the housemaster of Blugerobe now. It was left to me in the will of my parents who are unfortunately gone from us, so if you are trying to claim ownership, well you would need to be quite persuasive.’
‘Oh, I am not trying to cheat you out of your inheritance, dear niece. I have come for a visit. To touch bases with home.’
Merridae spoke up, amused somewhat by this bustling character. ‘If you really are Blatherthroat Cartfire, you should know this. What is the inscription on the inner lid of the stove. The inscription of the maker. The stove has been in the family for generations, so you should know that.’
Jando turned from looking at Merridae to Blatherthroat. ‘Yes, dear uncle. What is the inscription.’
Blatherthroat smiled. ‘Why BC, for Baladon Cartfire. Who else.’
Jando turned to look at Merridae, who raised her eyebrows in amusement. ‘Well he got that right,’ said Jando to Merridae.
‘Of course I am Blatherthroat Cartfire,’ responded Blatherthroat. I have been with the elves for many a long year, drinking from the elixir of life. And time has come for me to see home at last. To see what has become of Grobblebomon and the County.’
‘Yes, I know of the ancient stories. I have read them myself,’ responded Jando.
‘Which is the reason for my visit,’ responded Blatherthroat, opening his sack and bringing out his manuscript for ‘The Lord of the amulet’s’. I have come to complete my work. To finalise once and for all the saga of the ‘Lord of the amulets.’ He handed the text to Jando, saying, come. Take a look. You will soon see the truthfulness of my claim. Jando looked at the old Grobblebom and, silently wondeamulet to herself if he was indeed her ancient uncle, took the leather-bound manuscript and opened it up.
‘Do you speak the elven tongue,’ Blatherthroat asked Jando.
‘A little,’ she replied.
‘Then read on.’
Jando again looked at Blatherthroat, a soft look of affection towards this old Grobblebom, and sat down. Merridae spoke up.
‘Well, dear Blatherthroat. And you,’ she said turning to Gladfire. ‘Would you like some tea?’
Gladfire nodded, taking a seat. ‘That would be wonderful dear Grobblebom. And what may I ask are your names?’
‘I am Merridae. And this is my cousin Jando. We live here in Blugerobe. Cartfire, the both of us.’
Gladfire nodded, smiling happily at his new acquaintances. ‘I am Gladfire. Gladfire the Brown. It is a pleasure to meet you miss Merridae.’
‘The pleasure is all mine,’ responded Merridae. ‘Well I will get that tea,’ she said and made her way to the kitchen.
Jando was seated next to Blatherthroat, who was warming himself at the fire, turning page after page in the fascinating text. Eventually she spoke. ‘Yes, these are the old legends, Blatherthroat. I read them in my youth.’
‘Your youth,’ queried Blatherthroat, noting she seemed not older than 30.
‘Well, in my teens.’
She looked at him and the Gladfire fellow. ‘Well, if you really are Blatherthroat Cartfire, welcome home. I am sure many in the County will want to meet and talk with you.’
‘That is the idea,’ responded Blatherthroat. ‘You know, there are others who still live. My dear young nephew Fungellios, the hero of this chronicle. He himself has also partaken of the elixir, amongst others.’
Jando nodded, turning again to the text. ‘It is a most unexpected homecoming, dear Blatherthroat.’
‘But a long awaited one, Jando,’ said Blatherthroat, placing his hand affectionately on her knee. ‘A long awaited one.’
The four of them talked much longer, into the deep of the evening, the Cartfire ladies foregoing that nights celebrations. And as Jando drifted to sleep that night, her guests staying in the guest quarters, she wondered to herself just what the next few days would hold for herself and young Merridae.
* * * * *
‘The reason,’ began Terragon, after much thought as to the words he should speak with his friend Gladfist. ‘The reason the Angelkind have removed themselves to the realm of the sky, is that they await the final confrontations and wish to leave the transpiring of the events on Abranda in the hands of its earthborn inhabitants until the time is necessary for their intervention. I am afraid, Gladfist, that Magronoth and his legions will be our responsibility to combat and defeat in the meantime.’
‘And this is Karatan's decision on behalf of the Angelkind, is it? To remain impartial and let the affairs of elves, dwarves and men no longer concern them?’
‘You should know well dear Gladfist that the ways of the Angelkind are often difficult to discern at the best of times. They are often very ‘other’ to us Elves, strange and reclusive in their behaviour. Almost as if they are aware of things to do with the mystical in life, things divine and of Yah’s unknowable ways. Things beyond the revelations we elves have yet encountered.’
Gladfist sat down on a marble chair inside an upper room of one of the higher towers of the Palace Exeter, contemplating Terragon's words. Terragon had just returned from Angelkeep, accompanied by a small group of elder Elves, servants of Terragon's. War was coming, as Terragon knew it, and forces were marshalling. For Terragon, Angelkeep's last remaining Angelkind resident, the rest of the angelkind having retired to the Realm of the Sky to await Warfist Warfistath, the assistance of Gladfist the White was of dire necessity to face the oncoming darkness and, gazing at his old and dear friend, he too felt the worries and concerns shown on that ancient wrinkled brow.
‘Then we shall do what we shall do,’ stated Gladfist resolutely. ‘Abranda has beforetimes struggled without the help of the Angelkind, and come through in triumph. We will succeed again.’
‘About Blatherthroat,’ began Terragon. ‘Please, don’t be too hard on our Grobblebom friend. He is dear to us and learning the ways of your arts can not be too great an imposition can it?’
‘The magical arts are not for the likes of Blatherthroat Cartfire,’ said Gladfist gruffly. ‘Gladfire has always had a rebellious streak. Why he is third in the order. I will sort that out.’
‘Dare I say it, master Gladfist, that Blatherthroat might become the unlikeliest of heroes just when we need it most. Things like that have an uncanny sense of happening in Abranda.’
Gladfist looked at Gladfire with firm eyes, but softened. ‘Yes, yes they do. But woe is me if it comes down to the magical abilities of Blatherthroat Cartfire.’
Gladfire smiled. That would be quite ironic, indeed.
‘So when is the leave-taking, and who travels?’
‘The fellowship, as it once was. We are to Grobblebomon, were I feel we will find Gladfire and Blatherthroat. And then to Randarak and Erdenforce and Glondobolin. The kingdoms of men must be prepared now, sooner than later. And then to the dwarves, who Glimmerthroat will speak to on our behalf. This dread war, a war I fear will end our age, will call on all of us yet again. Yet, I sense something. A calmer time coming beyond the darkness. A new age yet again, yet a calmer age. An age of grace.’
‘Let us hope that such it will be, Gladfist. Let us hope.’
Gladfist gathered up his hat and staff, and came over to Terragon, putting his hands on his shoulders. ‘We will be back before we have even gone, Terragon. And I know you will be ready. And should the Angelkind by that time have roused themselves, well destiny can only be good to us. Good day to thee.’
‘Fare well Gladfist. Till we see once more.’
The Spellcaster tipped his hat and left off to rejoin the fellowship. And Terragon, taking a seat by the window, gazed out into the forest, thinking of dark things, dark lords, and dark choices which yet lay ahead. Very dark choices.
* * * * *
Merridae awoke to the morning sun streaming gentle rays through her window, enshrouding her with glory. She laid there, looking at the light, thinking over her new visitors, wondered whether or not they really, in truth, were what they claimed. Indeed, it seemed quite strange to really believe it was her lost ancient uncle. But she too knew the legends and such things with the elves were always possible she guessed to herself. It would be wonderful, she thought to herself, to have been living all that time, lost in the world of the elves, singing beautifully, living so gracefully, walking in harmony with nature and all that is. It would be so wonderful. She thought on her passed mother who had taught her all of the elves and their magical ways and remembered back to those tales of youth of splendid Raverfirestork and other cities and places belonging to the elder people. It would really be so wonderful.
She looked at the old clock against the wall. Time to rise, to prepare the morning meal, and feed her guests.
Coming into the main room she found Blatherthroat curled up in front of the fireplace, his writings clutched to his chest, snoring peacefully. Looking at the old Grobblebom she felt she did indeed notice a resemblance. If he was Blatherthroat Cartfire then she really must make him welcome. And if he wanted to reside here in Blugerobe, something he had so far denied, but if he really did then perhaps she should make way for her old uncle. She let him be and went to the kitchen to stoke the fire. Perhaps much fried bacon and eggs and some Lamas bread for breakfast. And some fresh apple juice. That should be a perfect breakfast.
Half an hour later, a pile of bacon in cut strips on the table, some buttered lamas bread, 2 large pitchers of fresh apple juice and a dozen fried eggs, Gladfire came into the room, still yawning and wiping his eyes.
‘Good morning to you fair maiden. It appears as if we have a splendid breakfast before us. You are so gracious.’
‘You can go raise Blatherthroat if you like. I am sure he is famished after your long journey.’
Gladfire stood staring at the food, his mouth watering, and then nodded, ‘Oh, of course, and left to get Blatherthroat. No sooner had Gladfire left than Jando entered, smiling at her cousin. ‘Uncle Blatherthroat is yawning madly, Meri.’
‘No surprise at his great age,’ responded Merridae. No sooner had she spoken then Blatherthroat came into the room, Gladfire following. Blatherthroat came to the table, looked at the bacon and said, ‘Yum, bacon,’ pinching a piece. Merridae made as to swipe at him, but he pinched it before she could refuse him. ‘Shall we sit?’ asked Merridae. In response the four of them took seats at the table and began their morning breakfast.
Taking a drink of juice, Merridae looked at Blatherthroat. ‘So, uncle, what exactly have you been doing all these long years? You must have quite a tale to tell.’
Blatherthroat finished off a mouthful and began, ‘Why, busily about the affairs of an elderly Grobblebom. What else?’ he said, with a tone of humour she was beginning to get used to. ‘What is it like? In Angelkeep, I mean,’ asked Jando.
‘Much like Raverfirestork. Have you been?’ asked Blatherthroat.
‘Not yet,’ said Jando. ‘But I would like to.’
‘Then we must take you,’ said Blatherthroat. ‘We must certainly do that young niece.’
Gladfire spoke up. ‘Your uncle has been learning the arts of magic, under my tutelage. He persisted in such an endeavour in asking it of me, so I finally succumbed. He has talent, if not great wisdom.’
‘Very funny,’ said Blatherthroat, and Gladfire smiled at him.
‘So you’re a Spellcaster, uncle Blatherthroat.’
‘Perhaps. One day, perhaps. Suffice to say I am learning and we will leave it at that.’
‘Very good,’ said Jando.
‘So, are there still Toolingtons in Grobblebomon?’
Jando looked at Merridae. ‘He asks of the Toolingtons. Fancy that.’
Merridae would not bite. ‘Yes, there are still Toolingtons in Grobblebomon, uncle,’ responded Merridae.’
‘Then we must visit them shortly. For such is a large reason for my visit. Oh, for yourself of course. And the rest of the Cartfires.’
Jando began slowly. ‘Unfortunately there are not a great deal of us Cartfires left. Oh, the County has a certain number, but we have dwindled. I know not why, but it as if some power has caused us to leave of in our children in a significant way. It is quite a concern to the family at the moment.’
Blatherthroat looked concerned. ‘Well, young neice. You must soon marry and rectify such a situation. We Cartfires must continue, it is a high priority.’
‘Marry another Cartfire? A little unusual.’
‘Not without precedent, dear niece. The family name is important. We have a strong reputation in the County, and it would be best for it to continue.’
‘I will take that into account,’ responded Jando. ‘And I am sure Merridae will do her best to bamulet forth the children you desire.’ Merridae looked embarrassed, but nodded.
After they had finished their meal Jando asked if they would like to hear some music, and Blatherthroat smiled at them.
That morning the music came forth merrily from Blugerobe, and Grobblebomon sensed something different was in the air. As if an old face had returned, and was about to announce its presence. A long unexpected presence.
‘Uncle Blatherthroat’s Machinations’
Dobbie was a Grobblebom, of sorts. An ancient Grobblebom of preternaturally long life. Reborn, anew, from the fires of destruction, from the fires of Mt Darkness, his coveted prize of glory was once more in his possession. Poor old Dobbie. Grobblebomdom’s rejected child, cast asunder from his world for the murder of dear old Dabble. He didn’t reject Grobbleboms because of that. Despite the hate which had been there for so long, cast aside, into the nether regions of the world, a lost and lonely, tortured soul, the bane of dwarves and men, the ridicule of his own kind. No, he didn’t hate them. But how could he really ever love them again. For all his struggles, how could he ever forgive them. But, sleeping in the heart of Fordok rebuilt, down in the underworld basements, were Goblins gave him food, and looked to his needs, and the dark one, Blastickle, visiting him once each evening to speak of horrible things, things once more of doom to plague Abranda’s desired salvation, Dobbie, a wretched creature, looked into his heart, and looked daily at the one amulet which he cradled in his palms, and a soft voice, a gentle voice, the voice of the father of time spoke to him. In the evenings, when an elf, chained in the cell opposite him, sang laments, heartaches of a free spirit longing for his beloved, Dobbie, a creature devoid of compassion, a creature devoid of joy, a creature devoid of love, for all things but his blessed ‘Treasure’, took pity. He listened to the elven song, and thought. Long and hard he thought, and as the dark lord of evil spoke his diabolical will upon the children of Abranda, speaking of his plans, speaking of his glory, Dobbie looked deep into the heart of the one amulet and now, finally, his precious eternally his, the heart of Yah Shaddai, the Father of time, changed Dobbie’s heart. And he took pity, and he resonated with the laments of the elf, and he saw anew just what fate, just what destiny, just what glory should behold the heart of a murderer like him. And the One amulet sang in his palms, and glowed brightly, and Dobbie was anew.
* * * * *
Merridae had not known a Grobblebom, in the intimate way. A virgin child, sure and true, she’d dared not even kiss a child of the County, for her raising had been strict. Uncle Blatherthroat, though, seemed a character of extraordinary eccentricities in many ways, from his ramblings of his adventures, he penchant for magic, and his gentle wit and calm demeanour, yet, one thing became also quite apparent in this relic of the County. He was a family man, of no great uncertainty to herself now, for the quiet hints of heirs and lineage had been made clear to Merridae and the finding of a man for the family name, at this present moment, something of a priority. She looked into the mirror that morning, gazing at the somewhat attractive face, the somewhat attractive figure, the somewhat congenial personality she knew in truth to possess and wondered to herself why it had to take the persuasions of a long forgotten Grobblebom uncle to finally get her motivated.
Jando came in momentarily, yawning, her hair a mess, and gawked at her. ‘You are up early, dear cousin. Why such, may I ask, a concerned look?’
‘Jando. Are we, you know. Getting too old? Are we becoming, dare I fearfully say, old maids?’
‘Hardly,’ she said, and went to the sink. She seemed, though, to be thinking on that idea. ‘I suppose I know what you are saying. Here we are, pretty Grobbleboms, but past 30 and still no mates. It has been a concern, since my coming of age, naturally. But things some times take time, Merri. Life works in mysterious ways. Like uncle Blatherthroat suddenly appearing. I don’t know how to say it, but it is like a new lease of life has come over Blugerobe. Like an unexpected presence has finally returned.’
Merridae looked at her cousin, and turned to look into the mirror. ‘I have noticed that. Like Blugerobe has an old friend restored to her. Like she is happy once more.’
‘At peace, perhaps,’ responded Jando.
‘Perhaps,’ finished Merridae.
The two of them went about their lady business, and when Blatherthroat greeted them that morning, ready for a proper introduction to the community of Grobblebomon that evening after some surprising introductions at the Toolingtons the prior night, all seemed suddenly well in the world. All seemed suddenly good. And once more bringing bacon, Blatherthroat smiled at them, and winked, and the two Cartfire cousins eyed each other, for something was quite apparently on the old foxes mind.
* * * * *
Gothmog stood on the top of Isotope restored, and looked down at the mad and wild orc slavery going on below. The dead – resurrected – brought to life, fowl and decrepit life, once more. He felt it, even now, the dark power in his body, raising them through Magronoth's strength endowed into himself and his own dark evil.
He raised his hands again and again, urging them on, and they cheered vile cheers up at their new dark lord as they went about their task.
'Wormlord,' spoke Gothmog. 'Your dead carcass still reeks, albeit quite pleasantly. I take it you perfume your foul wretchedness.'
'Only to please my lords,' said Grief Wormlord, watching the activity. 'Shall the Lord Kamrad be arriving soon?'
'He is in Hardfart,' said the dark Lord. 'Gathering the forces. We battle in Erdenforce, on the shores, where we shall marshall three months hence. We have committed an act of honour and sent note to the powers of Abranda who are indeed now aware of our presence. They shall fall into slavery beneath us should we prove victorious in Erdenforce by their own oath, or we shall wreak havoc upon havoc upon their innocents.'
'They would agree to such a covenant?' inquired Wormlord.
'Elves are weak. Men more so. They will not risk their loved ones to the fate we should rightly bestow.'
'Then your wisdom is supreme,' said Wormlord.
'Kamrad's wisdom is supreme,' commented Gothmog and raised his arms once more.
'Yes. Kamrad is supreme,' said Wormlord, gazing down upon the madness.
'And Abranda shall feel our wrath,' finished Gothmog, as the bowels of Isotope turned again, unleashing even more of the pitisome and loathsome creatures.
* * * * *
'Here we are,' said Adenfartfist. 'The Bronze Havens.'
'Has it been so long,' said Fungellios, looking over the once familiar landscape. 'And the County, just a little further.'
A misty look came over Adenfartfist Gammidge's eyes. 'Now to see her one last time.'
'One last time?' queried Fungellios. 'The elixir has not failed us yet.'
'Nor shall it,' stated Leithwynn. 'It is of the Angelkind. It will work eternal its beneficience.'
'I am not sure it is the Elixir which worries me,' said Sam. 'I fear darker things may claim our fellowship in this final hour.'
Fungellios put his hand on Adenfartfist's shoulder. 'Good friend. Loyal Aden. We have been through dark things before. Fret not. I fear even Yah Shaddai would not wish more evil upon us.'
Adenfartfist looked at his friend. 'If you believe in such a being.'
'I do,' said Fungellios. 'We are from somewhere, ultimately. Not from chaos. Not from nothing.'
'Yah Shaddai crafted all Adenfartfist Gammidge,' said Leithwynn. 'It is from where we elves were born, and we have deep memories.'
Yet Adenfartfist said nought.
Gladstone spoke up. 'Is it to the County, then, that we travel? Perhaps we should be seeing ourselves to Glondobolin in a time as this.'
'And why would you suggest that?' asked Adenfartfist accusingly.
'Master Adenfartfist. The Gladstone you see now is not what he was. Even one who has known the presence of Yah Shaddai and turned his back can, ultimately, redeem himself. I am not who I was.'
Adenfartfist softened. He had seen something of that Gladstone in the past few weeks. A different Spellcaster. An older Spellcaster, in many ways. Not so forlorn in hope of good things, for which Adenfartfist trusted his heart to act upon and swear by.
'We shall go to the County,' said Glimmerthroat. 'To reclaim the affections of Blatherthroat. And then to Raverfirestork as we planned. For they will have the knowledge we need for this impending encounter we are surely headed for.
'They are gathering,' said Adenfartfist to Gladstone. 'In Isotope. The elders here made that apparent.'
'I dwell there only in memory,' said Gladstone.
'Yet it is your home,' said Adenfartfist.
'And it shall be once more. But not for the purposes of Kamrad.'
The group went silent and looked at Gladstone. That seemed enough said of that particular name.
'How are the forces of Abranda?' Fungellios asked Gladstone. 'Is their strength still in them.'
'They are not what they were. But neither is our enemy. This final battle is the testing. The final testing, I perchance suspect.'
But Leithwynn looked grimly forward, for he knew that not true.
'To the County,' said Fungellios.
'To the County,' responded the Fellowship.
* * * * *
'Yet Garadorn had become infertile,' continued Gladfire. 'It is not known to the common man, and rarely a courtisan of Glondobolin is privileged to such news, yet he was in truth unable to bear.'
'Yet Garaborn was raised,' said Blatherthroat. 'Who fathered him?' queried the Grobblebom in the front room of Blugerobe, smoke rife in the air, Gladfire enjoying his roast chicken, Jando and Merridae happily knitting by the fireplace, listening intently.
'Garaborn is a consequence of history, in the most unlikely of ways, rectifying itself, would seem to me,' replied Gladfire. 'The love of Lendra to Andrewsius, son of Garadorn, was well known, yet of course Liv claimed the heart of Andrewsius.
Blattherthroat's ears were attentive as Gladfire continued his story.
'She sired Andrewsius a child, who was taken into my own steadfast protection, and who strode the northlands many years, alike his father, yet never knowing him.'
'Liv and Andrewsius had a child? By the maker,' said Blatherthroat in amazement, but of course, then, that would make King Garaborn of Andrewsius, not his half-brother, but his father!' stated Blatherthroat in certain terms.
'Indeed the child is,' responded Gladfire. And he looked at Blatherthroat. 'And more besides, Blatherthroat Cartfire. But you will see that in time to come I am sure.'
Blatherthroat looked quizzically at Gladfire, but did not query further.
'They will be here soon,' said Gladfire.
'Again,' who will be here soon,' interjected Jando. 'You keep speaking of these special guests yet you name them not. What, are we to be apprehended with yet more famed Cartfire of days past?'
And Blatherthroat looked at Gladfire, who smiled, and bowed softly to Jando. 'In the fullness of time, Jando Cartfire.'
'Do you have any more raisin cakes?' asked Blatherthroat. 'I've eaten the lot.'
'You eat well for an ancient,' said Merridae, eyeing her indeed ancient uncle. 'Are you sure you really are as old as you say?'
'I would profer,' said Gladfire. 'It is Blatherthroat's admiration of fine Cartfire cuisine which inspires him to his acts of digestion.'
'Better than any Toolingtons,' said Blatherthroat, from the corner of his mouth, and Gladfire chuckled at the comment.
'Tea would also be pleasing,' said Gladfire politely,' and Jando and Merridae rose and hastened to the kitchen.
Blatherthroat sipped on his tea and Gladfire had laid back in his armchair, happily digesting the chicken. Blatherthroat, though, was smirking to himself softly, something the Spellcaster had noted this last day and a half. 'Blatherthroat Cartfire. Sometimes I feel I know you better than I know myself. What is that mischievous look in your eye. You are planning something, I sense. Something you are not shaamulet with us.' 'The machinations of Blatherthroat Cartfire,' stated Blatherthroat,' are not always known to the wisdom of Master Gladfire. Indeed he may be of the Spellkind and gifted with powers and abilities I have yet to even dream of, but you can't read my mind yet you old duffer.'
'Blatherthroat Cartfire,' reacted Gladfire.
'Oh, sorry,' said Blatherthroat, and produced a raisin cake magically from his sleeve and continued munching away.
* * * * *
Blatherthroat was at the front window of Blugerobe all the following morning, looking out from time to time, waiting on his friends. Gladfire was firmly entrenched in an armchair, reading through various tomes he had brought with him, snoozing happily, the two female Grobbleboms sitting in the kitchen, slowly tending the cooking of lunch. Jando and Merridae were not workers in Grobblebomon, by any occupation, and as inheritors of Blugerobe they'd been fortunately left with a sizeable income apart from the property itself. Yet both taught music to many of the Grobbleboms of the County, from which an adequate income was gained, and they were considered perhaps the County's finest pianists, known for the concerts held from time to time in Grobblebomon Town Hall.
And then, just before noon, he spied them. Coming along up the road, headed direct for Blugerobe. The fellowship.
'Merridae, Jando!' yelled Blatherthroat immediately. 'Come here you two.' The fair ladies soon presented themselves, concerned for the sudden outburst of their uncle. Gladfist looked on with amusement.
'Now, straight down to the mill, and return hastily with some flour.'
'We have ample,' said Jando puzzled.
Blatherthroat took out some coinage, pressed it into the ladies hands, and repeated himself. 'Go – now. That is your uncles order.'
'As you wish,' said Merridae and the girls,' puzzled, took their coats, and exited Blugerobe.
Blatherthroat made it straight for the door.
Just the moment earlier Fungellios and Adenfartfist headed the fellowship and they came up to the front of Blugerobe.
'It's hardly changed,' said Fungellios.
'Grobblebomon has hardly changed,' said Adenfartfist.
'Then we are most fortunate,' responded Fungellios, and put his hand affectionately on Adenfartfist's shoulder.
Just then the two lady Grobbleboms came out of Blugerobe, looked briefly at their guests, but seeing Blatherthroat shooing them on, curtsied and continued on their way.
Yet Fungellios had noticed Jando immediately. Very much noticed her.
And Adenfartfist had not been shy in his observation of the person of Merridae Cartfire.
'Who where they?' asked Adenfartfist.
'Guests, I guess,' responded Fungellios, but his eyes wandered after them.
They turned, and noticed Blatherthroat in the window, gawking at the two of them.
'Its Blatherthroat,' said Fungellios, full of joy.
'Come, let us find rest, for we are home,' said Fungellios to the fellowship trailing and, Blatherthroat at the door suddenly, opening it wide, he hugged Fungellios and nodded to Leithwynn and the remainder, and the fellowship, once more, found itself in Blugerobe, a suspicious looking Bronze Spellcaster very carefully eyeing of a guilty looking Blatherthroat Cartfire.
* * * * *
'The Father of Time,' began Gladfist slowly, to his audience in Blugerobe, the gathered fellowship and Jando and Merridae, 'is the father of all that came before and all that comes afterwards. But, most of all, he is the father of all that happens right here and now. In this time we have, in this short time, so fleeting, in which we live our lives and make our proud boasts of adventure and daring, we strive to live a life, for most honest citizens of Abranda, in a way of merit. In a way of goodness and kindness, which it would seem is so inherent in the way we live. The gentle kiss of a mother to her child, the hand of a father on his son, the kiss of wife to husband. All of this is love and all of it is expressed in our living and our being alive, here in time. Here and now. Every decision we make is here and now. Yet the father of time watches over all our past choices and he remembers them all, and in the future ahead he is there,in his benevolence, shaping it for us, surely and only for our good. There are those, those who challenged the might of Yah, who did not understand him, in rightness. In his glory, as one might say. The creator of things, the creator of life, surely we Spellcasters say, knew all things in most ways. All knowledge. All understanding. And in the life he gave us he gave us goodness and kindness to guide us. But not without challenge. For in the making of our lives, and in treading down this time before us, he has challenged us, like in the past, for reasons of his wisdom.'
'And what is that wisdom?' asked Adenfartfist. 'Play things for his entertainment?'
'Who can rightly say,' interjected Gladfire. 'Perhaps even for our own. Perhaps all this evil before us is only there to strengthen us in the end. To teach us those good things. Those right things against those wrong things.'
'As Gladfire must rightly say. It is the making of us, Adenfartfist. Blatherthroat's book. Those adventures. Those tales of bravery and foolishness, of wisdom and honour. In such books we find meaning yet, while life has its beautiful pleasantness, perhaps....'
'Go on,' said Fungellios.
'Perhaps without adversary there is no testing of us. No challenge to our life to make us what we may need to be. To make us what we have to be,' finished Gladfist.
'I don't think I need to destroy a amulet for it to be the making of me,' said Adenfartfist.
'But perhaps I did,' said Fungellios softly.
'Kamrad serves his own evil,' said Gladfist. 'But even in that evil, goodness contrasts and is shown so much more clearly and beautifully for the virtue it truly is. And the Father of Time, who goes before each and everyone of us, surely does not put us to a testing beyond our abilities to cope with. It is for goodness that evil comes forth, as wrong and as utterly ridiculous as that might sound.'
'What's life without a little bit of adventure,' said Blatherthroat comically, and the fellowship laughed in response.
'Whatever trials may come,' continued Gladfist,'we can know this. Yah already knows, and this destiny, this fate, we follow to the end, written in legends and prophecies in days gone from us, is for our ultimate good. And because of that we can be confident we will prevail.'
'If he even exists at all,' said Adenfartfist, and stood and left the room.
Merridae looked after Adenfartfist as he left and Gladfist nodded to her that she should go after him.
'I do believe in God,' said Fungellios.
'Aye. I think, in the end,' said Glimmerthroat. 'Only God could have made female dwarves. For no accident of nature could be responsible for such abominations.' And the group burst out laughing on Glimmerthroat's joke.
'Yah watches over us and guides us and we may intercede to him for assistance,' said Leithwynn. 'Yet we choose our words carefully, for he is a great being, and worthy of our respect.'
'And our love,' said Jando suddenly, and the eyes of the fellowship fell upon her.
'In a time like this, in this greatest of challenges, we may indeed need to call on the benevolence of Yah Shaddai dear Leithwynn, for I fear this evil will be greater than that gone before. Perhaps never the like to be seen again,' said Gladfist.
'Then we shall pray,' said Fungellios solemnly, and the fellowship fell quietly upon his words.
In the kitchen Merridae had seated herself next to Adenfartfist who was sipping on an ale he had poured himself, sitting their quietly, waiting upon him.
'Do you not believe?' she asked him softly.
'It's not that,' said Adenfartfist. 'It's wether I trust. That he even cares. That being, that spirit. Probably there, I guess. But it is above these things. These mundane matters. They don't bother him. We are like little bugs, which entertain him. Nothing more.'
'But surely God loves us,' responded Merridae.
And Adenfartfist turned and looked into the eyes of the fair maiden Cartfire, and nodded softly despite himself.
'I guess so. If you say so Merridae. If you say so.'
And she put her hand on his shoulder, and she pursed her lips and said, 'Be brave master Gammidge. Be brave.'
And he touched her hand lightly, and nodded softly in reply.
* * * * *
'I do believe,' said Merridae to Jando, at the party to end all parties, the great and grand celebration of the Return of the Illustrious Blatherthroat Cartfire of Blugerobe, the presence of the greater community of Grobblebomon present, 'that that Fungellios Cartfire fancies you, Jando.'
Jando eyed Fungellios, who was seated on a bench next to Adenfartfist, drinking beer, as the celebrations went on all around.
'Do you really think so?' asked Jando. 'But, go on. We're practically related.'
'Oh, I'm sure he's distant enough,' said Merridae. 'And besides, its probably about your time, isn't it?'
'Our time, I would think. And I have likewise noticed you noticing the master Gammidge.'
Merridae slapped her lightly on the wrist. 'Oh, shut up,' she said, and they both burst out laughing.
'Adenfartfist, whatever final adventure the future holds for us, let us enjoy this night,' said Fungellios, looking at the girls.
'Aye,' said Adenfartfist, who then stood, made his way over to Merridae, and asked her to dance. Merridae graciously accepted, leaving a Fungellios staring at Jando.
He stood and nervously walked over to her. 'Would Miss enjoy a Jig?'
'I thought you'd never ask,' said Jando, and grabbed his hands as they whirled into the merriment amongst the other dancing Grobbleboms.
Blatherthroat, sitting next to Gladfist at the head table, puffed on his pipe and turned to his ancient mentor. 'I suppose, Gladfist, when all is said and done, and regardless of what lies ahead of us, what dangers and intrigues, whatever the dark in its final might can throw at us, there in front of us, in truth, are the real mysteries of the Hand of Eternity. When Grobbleboms finally fall in love.'
Gladfist smiled. 'There are many mysteries in this Abranda, Grobbleboms being but one, but yes, Blatherthroat. Such are the mysteries of the Hand of Eternity.'
And a final unexpected party carried on through the night and, in time, the fellowship met its final last days of challenge, and then, when the world turned, disappeared, as was their wont, as a new age dawned, and mankind emerged, a new mankind, not so used to the ways of faerie and magic, a new mankind, waiting a final day, and a final, most majestic, happenstance.
* * * * *
'Astoria. Come down daughter. Don't be so proud.'
Astoria continued gazing up at the stars. 'Father. I am 16 years of age on God's good earth. And I shall gaze upon heaven if I shall choose. Damn your Patriarchal views.'
'I don't know what has gotten into the girl as of late,' said Nebuloth, father of Astoria, a female of the clan Gemino, of the Windgliders of the Eastern Winds.
'She is a self determined lady. Much of that generation is,' said the old Cleric Dardan. 'The schoolings of the teachers guilds these days is so much new thinking. That females can choose their own way in the world, and that they can be the equal of males.'
'It wasn't like this in my day,' said Nebuloth. 'A woman knew her placed and served her father and served her husband. I don't know what has gotten into her being so defiant. At night, can you believe, she goes out flying the torrid winds, as she likes the hot summer air, and glides for hours. And refuses all calls to come down and act like a lady. Her mother has never been like that. She serves in quiet grace of true femininity. But this Astoria? She says she will work, and have her own job as a herbalist, and all sorts of plans that a 'Woman' can do these days.'
'God made male, and he made female,' said the cleric. 'And the male shall rule the female, as our sacred words of heaven teach. I do know, though, Nebuloth. In Centreworld there is even now amongst the children of men women who wear men's armour and go off to battle. It is rare, I have been told, but they do it.'
'It's not like it used to be,' replied Nebuloth, gazing up at his daughter at the top of the tree, watching the stars.
The blue-skinned Astoria looked out at the constellation. Damn her father's bigotry. But what did you expect. The windgliders had always been ruled by men, and it would never be different she had believed growing up. But teachers, now, who taught the lore and knowledge, said new ways were coming on the world, and a woman could speak her mind. That in Centreworld female humans spoke freely in conversation with men, and did not have to mind their speak, and could say as they would. She longed for that freedom. To speak her mind at will. She gathered her leathery brown wings around her, and looked up at the night. She wouldn't fly tonight, for there was a slight chill, and Summer was drawing to a close. But she longed to be up there, in the heavenlies, flying, and doing what a windglider did naturally. And she would again, soon enough. And Nebuloth her father be damned if he complained. Damn the old man.
Jennifer Isotope looked out at the ocean. Here she was, living in Hardstonethroatlock, bored out of her mind. No action. No life. Bored. And her parent's wouldn't even let her practice magic. It all went back, so dad said, to a Angelkind gone astray, apparently by the name of Gladstone, although she had done research into his name, and the last 10 ages of Abranda bore no trace of mention of him. But this was the 17th age, after all. The early years always remained in mystery - the mystery of history - before far more accurate records began being kept. Still,father claimed that Gladstone was far from divine, and any good Shaddaiian worth his or her salt wouldn't have wanted to get involved with a troubler like old Sar.
But while she had searched, all father had said was Gladstone dwelt in fabled lost Moria, somewhere hidden beneath the Misty Mountains.
Jennifer lived at 26 Finkle Street, Cottingforth. Cottingforth dwelt on the seashore, had a population of 17 Million souls, a modest city by most standards, but had a charming, seafaamulet spirit to it. The people were quite patriotic Hardstonethroatlockans, keen on sports, especially soccer, which had originated in the 7th age, so the legends went. Cricket was also popular, and Marchington Football League also quite popular, alongside golf and the other competitive athleticisms. Northwards, in Erdenforce, in Old Grobblebomon, the home of Cricket, they still played the traditional form of Cricket, dressed in white, playing games which lasted 4 or 5 days, instead of the 20 overs per side games which dominated the leagues of Abranda. October was the favourite month for Cricket, as the Abranda Cup was played in this month, and various Hardstonethroatlock teams always competed strongly. Last year she had attended her first match, which was where she had met 'Ragman', who had given her the amulet she now wore religiously around her neck, and who had taught her the first lesson on magic, a charm of protection from evil. She had met him again, early this year in January, in the park down the road, and he had spoken of how the world had changed so much, as if he had seen so much of life. Of course he had - he looked 80 or so, with his big, long Bronzefirth beard and bushy eyebrows, and the Bronzefirth raggedy cloak he wore. How old was he really? Was he ancient, a lost relic of a bygone era, still living, fending for himself, not settled anywhere in life. Something in her heart told her that - that 'Ragman' was someone special. Or perhaps she was just fantasizing - wanting to believe in impossible things. But if he really was a genuine Spellcaster, how old did they live? Who knows.
Her family ran a seafood restaurant, unsurprisingly, and her two older brothers, Viktor and Arthur, worked with her father each morning, to bamulet in the catch for the day for the lunchtime and evening trade. She was only 15, not yet finished with her schooling, and it had been presumed by one and all she would follow in the family trade. But something within her told her no. That life had other plans for Jennifer Isotope, and that before her days were through something special, something magnificent, would happen in her life, perhaps changing the world forever.
She looked out at the ocean, but finally returned her focus to the textbook, and tried her best to work out to out what it was saying into her own words, part of her current history essay assignment. But she couldn't concentrate, and the essay could wait till Sunday, so she put on her shoes, let her mother she would be at the park, and left 26 Finkle street, for the short walk to the park overlooking the beach.
She found her usual bench, sat down, and gazed at the ocean. Sitting there it was a quiet friday afternoon, schoolchildren gone home now, the night sky starting to darken. She sat there, thinking on how she could write her essay, wondeamulet if that boy from school would soon ask her out, lost in her thoughts, oblivious to the presence which had crept up on her.
'Jennifer Isotope. I trust you are faamulet well.'
Jennifer was startled, and turned to see her guest. It was Ragman.
'Oh. It's you.'
'Is your seat welcome to an old man such as myself?'
'Sure,' she said, and moved over so Ragman could sit.
They sat in silence for a few moments, when Jennifer spoke. 'How have you been? I mean, what do you do? Do you live here now, or something? You sorta look homeless. I mean, sorry, but you do.'
'That is a perfectly understandable assumption, Miss Isotope. I have often been mistaken for a vagrant in my many journeys in Abranda. Yet this garb of mine is an old friend. I have dressed in such clothing many of these past ages.'
'Very funny,' she replied, but she decided to take issue on that point.
'So are you really a Spellcaster then?'
'A Angelkind is often called a Spellcaster. Yet our gifts come from a higher power, the Father of Time, and a crude word such as Spellcaster often fails to honour those gifts we are privelige to. I am not merely a Spellcaster, Miss Isotope.'
'Yeh right. A Angelkind? Who do you think you are kidding. I suppose you know Gladfist himself then?'
Ragman smiled. 'I am familiar with that personage.'
She looked at him, his ancient wrinkles, his long flowing beard, and for a moment she felt he may just be telling the truth, but she quickly rejected such thoughts.
'Whoever you are, why me? What does Jenny Isotope have to do with you?'
'Life is old to me now, Jenny, and I have seen heroes made from creatures half your size, so nothing really surprises me anymore. It is not the size of the hero that counts, but the size of the heart. And life has chosen you, so it seems, for the vital issue of last things. For a final obstacle remains before Abranda can rest in peace etenally.'
She looked at him, at the quite honest sincerity in which he spoke, and in the warm smile and kind look. Whoever he was, even if just a crazy old man, his heart was in the right place.
'What obstacle?' she asked, turning to look out once more at the ocean.
'An old obstcle. A servant of one who has repented, but who has not chosen such courage himself. A dark lord. An evil lord. An adversary who has been defeated a number of times before, but whose final ultimat fate now awaits. And I fear, in this new age, so very different now, with its machines of war and seats of power so very wrathful, that the greatest darkness of all will face us before we, in Yah's grace, triumph at last.'
'You believe in God?' she asked him. 'Our family are old Shaddaiians, but the faith is not what it once was. I go to temple each week with mother, but it is smaller now, the numbers who go, then when I was a girl. People just want money now. Just money and things. They have forgotten the sacred.'
'Strong words from someone so young,' replied Ragman.
'I am serious in my faith,' she replied. 'God dwells in my heart. I feel him there. And his love is fierce for me, and his grace divine.'
Ragman nodded. 'Yes, I see why life has chosen you. Why you are what we must rely on in our darkest hour.'
Jenny looked at him once more, but wouldn't speak. If he was really a Angelkind, then his words would prove true in time, she assumed. If he was really a Angelkind.
Ragman spoke. 'Your attic.'
'Yes. Yes we have an attic.'
'And you would have an old chest in that attic. It would be locked.'
'How did you know that?' she asked, surprised.
'Open it. Here is the key,'and he handed her a key which looked as if it might just open such a chest.
'But do not put the item in the little box on. Not yet at least. Yet look at it. Sense it, for I feel you will know its power. It is a difficult thing to kill, this item. For it was destoyed once, yet was reborn, and its final wrath could be darkness indeed, should it not be finally vanquished.'
'What is the item?' asked Jennifer Isotope.
'A amulet,' replied Gladfist the Bronzefirth. 'A simple amulet.'
* * * * *
School on Monday was a drag. She handed in her essay, which had only been a half hearted attempt, but didn't care so much. Her mind had been filled with the words of Ragman. A Angelkind. He claimed to be a Angelkind. In the Shaddaiian religion it was taught that in the beginning, when mankind awoke, there had been other races who had also been created. Fantastic faerie folk, who lived alongside the children of men, and shaped the life of Abranda. And amongst these had been the Angelkind, of whom Gladfist and Gladstone were part of. Apparently there had been millions of Spellcasters, so the traditions went, but in the sacred texts only five were mentioned, and these had been called legendary figures, and probaly not genuinely historical, for there were no records of their deeds, no mention in the official histories, no affirmation from modern man that they had even existed at all. But had they? Was Ragman really one of the five Angelkind. Really, she doubted it, but found his words and his person so dramatic, so much like the voice of the distant part, that part of her was starting to think he might actually even be telling the truth to her. Probably, though, he was some ancient uncle, some distant relative, come to visit the family, fond of her, and telling her fantasies and faerie tales to encourage her in life. Probably that was all it was. But still she questioned.
She hadn't used the key yet. She wouldn't for a while. If his words were actually true she wanted to be well prepared for the shock. But, thinking about it, a relative of the family may know anyway about the chest, and know its contents. Yes that was probably it. Old uncle Ragman. Maybe dad even knew him. But she would look in the chest anyway. Not straight away, but she would soon enough.
She worked in the restaurant that evening, a shift she occasionally underToolington, and as she worked she noticed Ragman wandeamulet around out on the sidewalk opposite side of the street.
'Dad. Do you know that man?'
Her father, interrupted from serving a customer, looked at the old raggedy man.
'He's just a vagrant, Jenny. Don't worry about him. I'll get Viktor to see him off lately.'
'Oh, no. Don't do that. He's ok.'
Her father looked at his daughter, looked at the old man a little closer, and shrugged. 'Whatever you say sweetheart.'
The night passed on, and she completed her shift, and excused herself. She ventured out, onto the street, and crossed over, looking for Rafgman. She found himdown on the beach, sitting quietly by himself.
'Hello Jennifer Isotope,' responded Gladfist.
'Which Angelkind are you then? Gladstone? Gladfist? Gladfire maybe?'
Gladfist pulled himself up to his full stature. 'I am Gladfist the Bronzefirth, and it is a great pleasure to meet you, Jennifer Isotope.'
'Gladfist, huh? Are you sure you are not just an old Priest lost in a psychotic fantasy.'
'I can assure you I am not as such. I am in possession of my full faculties and know well who I am.'
'Mmm. Well. Fair enough. So you are Gladfist the Bronzefirth. A Angelkind.'
'And I have come forth to prepare Abranda for it last, final struggle.'
'Yes. You said,' she responded, and sat down on the beach next him.
'What have I got to do with it, though? Why does Abranda need to rely upon me.'
'The machinations of the mind of Yah Shaddai are often beyond the best of my contemplations, but suffice enough to say that the heir of my compatriot Gladstone is crucial at the last hour to what lies ahead.'
'Gladstone? Your kidding right?'
'You are Jennifer Isotope, are you not?'
'Then you are the seed of Gladstone. All Isotope's are so. For the city to the north of us was founded by Gladstone himself, and his progeny was found in the children of men by his own choice.'
She looked at him, aware she was probably derived from Old Isotope, up north in Randarak. Yet she did not know Gladstone had founded the city. Yet, suddenly she was reminded that the family legend indeed went that they were descended from Gladstone. How would the old man know that?
'Your not a distant uncle, are you.'
Gladfist Toolington out a pipe, placed some tobacco in it, lit it, and puffed away for a few moments. And then he spoke.
'It could be said that Gladstone and I are brothers of sorts. I have never really thought of it as a familial relationship, though. But yes, you could say I am your uncle.'
'Mmmm. Well whatever. Sure, your uncle Gladfist. It is very nice to meet you.'
'And you also, dear Jenny. And you also.'
They chatted on for a while, and she spoke on his life, and she noticed he listened intently, and smiled warmly at her anecdotes. Whoever he was, he was a charming old soul, and she could not say she didn't wish him to be the actaul Gladfist. She could not say that at all.
When she laid down for sleep that night, her thoughts were on Gladfist constantly. Was he really the old Spellcaster. And how would her life change now? She drifted off in those thoughts, and all night long her dreams were of Goblins and monsters and all sorts of faerie folk, and she was in peril, only to be rescued by Gladfist, riding a magnificent white steed, and taking her away to a mythical and magical castle, where her life would change forever.
* * * * *
All week at school Jenny tried to get back into her regular routine, despite thoughts of Gladfist insisting upon themselves from time to time. At night she now did more shifts at the restaurant, and Viktor often asked her to cover for him in the kitchen, going off to snog his girlfriend.
'Yes, Jen. Tonight again. I'll be back at 11 to clean up.'
Jenny watched Viktor go, and the extra three hours of her shift would involve the final customers till 10, when they closed, and an hour of washing up before Viktor returned. Fortunately they had a fantastic new washing machine, which ran on cogs and wheels, and when you pulled down the weighted chains to turn the cogs over, they squirted water constantly as the crockery, fitted into holders, turned over and rotated on their stands connected to the cogs, and if you added soap they usually came out spotless. It was a fantastical device, and her father claimed to never cease to be amazed at the inventiveness of the enlightened ones as they churned out more and more of these 'machines' as they were often called. And the steam powered locomotive was transforming the world, now. Amazing how hot water could make a big metal train run. Totally amazing. 'We live in an era of advanced industrialisation,' her father told her often. 'Inventions like the typewriter we now own, and the cog-based washing machine are all signs of progress. It is a wonderful time to live, sweetie. A wonderful time to live.' Jenny wholeheartedly agreed.
She worked steadily through the night, and when Viktor returned she grabbed her lantern, lit it, and headed for home. Yet she spied Gladfist on the beach opposite, sitting there in silence, so decided to speak to him.
'Hello Jennifer Isotope.'
'Ok. Tell me the truth. Why me, Ok? Why me?'
Gladfist nodded at the question. He knew she wanted answers. He pulled out his pipe, lit it, and puffed away. And then he spoke. 'Sometimes, Jenny Isotope, the most ordinary of people are called upon to do the most extraordinary of things. It is something which has been said before, and no doubt will be again. In that heart of yours lies a mystery, a mystery of life, that us, all of us, need to know and understand for Abranda to see the final glory she has served for. It is a magic, a strange and powerful magic, lost on the likes of this mere Angelkind, which must overcome the power of the dark one.'
'What magic,' she asked, eyes wide open.
'If I knew that,' he said, sighing. 'If I really knew that, long ago I would have overcome the power of the dark. But I am a simple fool, wise to some, I admit. But so much of what I have thought to be true, about the heart of man, or elf, or dwarve, or mere halfling for that matter, I have found false, time and time again. Hope remains, so it seems. When fowl times overshadow us, and we fear the worst, it is hope that gives us the ability to march on, to believe, perhaps to trust, and to live again. But what is in you is so much more than hope. More than even a confident faith. It is a strong power, a confident power, and Yah's words to me remain believed, for even now I see in one such as yourself a life force so unlike a mere common Angelkind. You are special, Jenny Isotope. Very special.'
'Thank you, Gladfist,' and she touched his hand softly, and he enjoyed that warmth, and knew that all would be well in the end.
'Tell me about Gladstone?' she asked him.
Gladfist looked at her, and noticed the chin. Gladstone's chin. 'Gladstone, well. Well, what can I say. Like each of the Angelkind he is gifted with his own particuar talents, his own gifts of ministration in the kingdoms of this worlds, sometimes administered with the divine wisdom which he always should pursue. Yet sometimes not. Gladstone fell, once, Jenny Isotope. He saw in a dark lord the power he sought over men and others, a power not part of his commission. Yet, at that time, his thinking was not dwelling upon the nobler themes. Yet, in a surprising way, a softer heart did not elude him later, and Yahs grace knows no limits. Gladstone has lived a long life, now, Jenny Isotope, living in Moria, living in a community which know each other with a great intimacy now. And he has softened, repented, as it were, more focused once more on his calling in life. He is Gladstone the white once more, and the head of the order of Spellcasters, for his redemption has been genuine. He is not what he had been. The human love which had claimed him, fair Izabella, your great grandmother of several generations, is on his thoughts often, and at the conclusion of the commission of the Angelkind, which I sense is not as far off as it once was, he does hopeto be reunited with his great love. Gladstone is a good man, now, Jenny Isotope. His calming words have been a tonic to me for countless generations in Moria now, and he is a friend I cherish. And I see himin you, Jennifer Isotope. All his good qualities,' he said, putting his hand on her shoulder. 'All his best qualities.'
'I mean. What was it all about? All thise early years? Why did your kind disappear from Abranda?'
Gladfist looked at her, memories flooding back. 'A war had been fought. Ending the third age. And then Magronoth had returned, and an even darker hour, the power of Doom's shadow, all but destroyed the world. Yet Magronoth was brought to repentance by the heart of the gentlest and purest Grobblebom, again, of all things, and Merridae's wisdom and talent saved Abranda, much akin to an ancient relative of her's, whose courage had been strong in the darkest hour. Yet Blastickle, now, remains. For while Kamrad acknowledged the power of Merridae's grace, Blastickle remains yet bitter still. I fear no pwer can conquer a heart such as his.' And Gladfist looked down into Jenny's eyes, yet only saw that power which he knew victorious in the end.
'We Toolington leave, our kind, and the others, from Abranda then, for men and their spirit were advancing, and times began their march to the beat of progress. It is only now, when their strength has climaxed, do we feel comfortable in re-emerging. For one final battle awaits, and mankind must choose, forever, the destiny it will follow.' And he looked down into her eyes. 'The destiny it will forever follow!'
She looked up at him, into those deep eyes, and looked out at the ocean. 'It will work out in the end, Gladfist. I am sure of it.'
'And in those words we place our hope,' replied Gladfist, gazing likewise to the crashing waves of Cottingforth surf.
* * * * *
Jenny was busy, again, all that week. But she was growing up, now – becoming a woman – and more and more was expected of her. She was a tallish sort of 15 year old girl, red hair, freckles, quite good looking, now, and the promise of womanhood held, potentially, amazing things. Not many boys had noticed her, though, somehow always with an excuse, or something better to do; as if she had been singled out, especially, for ignoamulet. One boy, Brad, talked to her. But he was reserved at best, and showed no particularly great interest in establishing a friendship with her. Life was frustrating because of it. Still, she did her studies at school, read the old textbooks, learned the way of the various trades and guilds of Hardstonethroatlock, the key to success in society, and did her best to be a proud daughter of Vagrid and Janine Isotope, owners of 'Vagrid's by the Bay,' the finest seafood restaurant in all of Cottingforth. Cottingforth lay on the Hardstonethroatlockan coast, just north of the Havens of Umbar and the City of the Corsairs, and just south of South Glondobolin, separated by a river running down from the Ephel Duath mountain ranges of Hardfart. They did a lot of trade with Harondor, also known as South Glondobolin, as a Hardstonethroatlockan society, and the ancient deserts had been gradually cultivated till life could prosper there. Of course, the Corsairs were the ancient power of Hardstonethroatlockan society, but the guilds ran everything in Abranda now. You didn't get anywhere, hardly, in life, without some good guild connections. Her own family's guild, the Association of Mariners, Fishermen, and Seafood traders, or AMFAST as it was also known as, was her father's biggest concern each year, and he always ensured his dues were paid. Living outside of the guild, well. Well you could do it, but life had endless problems in loss of contracts and refusal to trade. You joined a guild, now, to have a proper business life in Abranda. Or you failed miserably. One or the other.
Eventually, the week having had its fill of adventure, Jenny found Ragman across the road, and came and sat next to him.
'You know, Gladfist, I am young. And I have a life ahead of me. And I found, in my heart, this great and grand adventure. One which changed the world itself. One in which I was a triumphant queen of majesty, and was beheld as glorious by all. I was everything. And it was my destiny. And it was true.'
'Yet?' queried the ancient Spellcaster.
'Yet a fateful face appeared to me, and said to me, but is there another choice? Another simpler choice. A humbler choice.'
Gladfist nodded, and they sat there.
And, finally, she spoke. 'I chose humility.'
'You are a maiden of great perceptions, dear child,' he said looking at her, warmly smiling.'
She turned to him. 'Thank you,' and suddenly leaned over, and kissed him on the cheek, which brought a pleasant smile to Gladfist the Bronzefirth.
And time turned, and Jenny grew, and Gladfist remained, close by, a friend. And then she was 21.......................
'The amulet' said Gladfist, looking at it in the hand of Jenny.
'It's lovely, isn't it,' said Jenny.
Gladfist looked at her.
'But I have a better one,' and she turned, and ran to the beach, and threw with all her strengh the One amulet in the deepest part of the ocean. She came back to him.
'It's not a ladies way. But you are too much of an old fart to ever get the damn point these last half a dozen years.' She brought out a amulet. 'Marry me idiot,' she said to her Lord.
Gladfist looked at the amulet, and at Jennifer Isotope.
But what he said..........................
'Well that's another story.'
In Zebulondar, you needed to be careful. The Lord Saruviel didn't like people complaining against his authority. He ruled the world 'Terra Eterna' which he had always seemingly done. He was the first angel, and the hardest angel, but some said Daniel was born before him. Daniel, though, was just a legendary angel. Did he really even exist? If he did he, and his sidekick, Ambriel the Just, could redeem Terra Eterna from the tyranny Saruviel ran on it. All throughout the continent of Zebulondar, where Saruviel's authority was strongest, you heard it in the ghettos and the work camps and the and indentures slavery fields – redemption. It was coming. Everyone believed it. Except the Lord Saruviel. He wielded his luxuries without any fear, and his henchman, the other 6 Archangels of God, Phanuel, Raguel, Uriel, Raphael, Gabriel and the nastiest of them all, number 7, Michael, all lives in lavish lasicviousness and adored their pleasures and hedonisms and banquets and lustings. But redemption was coming. Everyone knew it. You saw it, occasionally. The sign. The Z, surrounded by a circle, and that circle surrounded by 7 D's. It was Daniel's sign, and it was everywhere. And he was coming. The forsaken believed that. They believed it everyday, as the work got harder, the tyranny got greater, and the lasciviousness got ruder and ruder. Daniel was coming to redeem them all. To redeem humanity. To redeem Zebulondar. Daniel was coming.
Zebulondar 2: Zebulon
Zebulon founded the continent of Zebulondar in Zeba City. He was the firstborn of the 7 tribes of Israel. And the 8 continent of Terra Eterna had 7 of them named after the 7 sons of Israel, 'The Worker'. But the oldest continent, were life began, was 'Danarva', named after Daniel, Noah's favourite grandson. And it had always been believed that Daniel was the Archangel of God, the firstborn, of the 8 Archangels. And it had also long been believed that Daniel was hidden on Danarva, the northern most cold continent of Terra Eterna, beyond the 'Uncrossable Oceans', were the ancient world still presumably lived unperturbed by the triumphs of the travel's of the 7 Sons of the Worker. For each son founded one of the 7 continents, and each began the holy Karaite faith of each son in each continent, and this was held to as the faith of mankind, and the rule of law. And then the 7 Archangels came, and things turned to rot. For they did not preach love, but terror, and they did not preach unity, but division, and they did not preach peace, but war. And while Zebulon may have triumphed as the only surviving religion of the holy Karaite faith, still taught in hushed tones of the slaves in the work camps and the hidden conversations of the indentured servants, it was only a religion of hope these days, for no saviour was known in the land of Zebulondar any more. But Daniel would come, and would redeem, and save. It was promised, it was true, it was prophecy, it was certain. But the harshness continued none the less, until, weary of their groaning, the sons of Israel cried out for a saviour, and the cry came up to the throne of God.
'JACOB! You are an obtuse son of mine,' said Isaac. 'The world is upon your shoulders from Mighty Hashem, and you sneak of with Edom to visit prostitutes.'
'Hey, I like the ladies old man,' said Jacob.
'You and your grandfather. Exotic Studios – to try Sarah's patience – regularly as well. He's a scoundrel. And he claims to have a covenant of his own. 44% of the world faithful to the Rainbow Covenant of ancient Noah, and old Abraham believes he has a special calling.'
'He is the father of the remnant, isn't he? Of the last of the Hebrews,' said Jacob. 'We were a special people once. Called by God to serve at Temple Noah in Londinnium, and we served many a millennia.'
'And now I have a whoremonger for a son.'
'Heh. Rachel doesn't mind. I should marry that girl.'
'And ruin the family's good reputation? She's hardly faithful anyway. Samson flirts with her all Sunday night at the club, and Goliath has been in her pants more times than I care to mention this century. And she's only 187 – barely out of school.'
'Aye, she's a young un. No match for you 1500 years old fart.'
'Watch your language, scallywag. No no more whoremongering for a while. Keep it calm. Pastor East is concerned that the whole Canberra community will lose some of its esteem if a member of the Noahide community really is known as a whoremonger. And make sure that letch of yours, Judah, repents every day. 17 pregnant harlots in the last 50 years. He is no more a saint than Callodyn the Just.'
'Hey, don't knock Callodyn,' said Jacob. 'He's awesome.'
'Canberra's residing saint, and well known for all sorts of tom foolery. Just because his father rules on the Australian Council of Parliament. It's a joke.'
'Well don't worry. Messiah will come one day and redeem us all from our fallen ways.'
'Ambriel is a myth,' responded Jacob. 'He is an invention of the Noahide priesthood, nothing more. You should know better than to believe in fairy tales.'
'Hey, I believe. And I reckon he'll be a Hebrew as well. Of the remnant.'
Isaac gazed at his son Jacob. 'Now, that would be interesting. The Messiah a Hebrew. Whatever will they think of next?'
'I'll curb my ways for a while, father,' replied Jacob. 'But you know me. Have debit card, will Taxi to Fyshwick.'
'Don't I know it,' replied the worrisome Isaac the Hebrew, father of the faithful remnant of Eber.
Infinite Dreams of Chaos and Order
By Daniel Daly
The dream was one. It was always one, usually, often, no, not really. It was never one. It never had been one.
No, it was one, certainly this time. Nebulox knew it was one. It was always one, usually. Wasn't it?
He woke. The dream surrendered to the scoundrels of covetousness, who devoured his thoughts, those spirits who fed on the wake of dreams, those little demons and angels who hung around Paradox to devour the fruits of a nights slumber. They loved the stuff. Nebulox knew that.
He knew not, as he showered first, and then toileted and then showered again, forgetting he always washed after dirty business – he knew not wether he had even dreamed that morning. He knew not, because it was different that morning He could not see it in his head, and he puzzled. He always saw the dreams in his head, each morning, and sat at breakfast, with Lady Harmony, and discussed them. And she would feign amusement, and sit happily, drinking tea, and being the perfect wife. She was always that, the perfect wife, dressed in white lace, sipping on her tea. Why he loved her. Why she bored him so. Oh, but never complain, lest mother in law come a visiting, and bring her list of current complaints at Nebulox's lack of attention to detail around the realm.
He looked into his mind's eye. The dream would not return. It was stubborn. He summoned his strength, and willed it to come forth, even invoking a fond demon of his recent encounter, one with truly a sadistic sarcastic trait, which always enlivened the feasting hall of Paradox. They were ancient, after all, and explicit erotica barely got them going anymore. A sharp sarcasm from one of hell's best and brightest often got the party started, though. Nebulox liked to think so. Lady Harmony, his beloved, sat there, nonplussed. She ignored such foolishness. She was 'Above' such foolishness. So she sold to the world, anyway, with her casual demeanour and imperious superiority. Bah, to hell with the woman. Just like her mother in law anyway.
He willed it forth yet again, and defeated, sat down on the edge of his bed, and looked glumly out the window. 'Bugger' he said to himself. Not the will to even consult the fond bliss of dreamscape he lived for, practically, now, each night. He always knew that he could, cept the dream being one, of course. But that never happened. Heaven above, once, by Angel Celeste, spoke of the One Dream. The One dream would start something new for Paradox. A new beginning, were ancient practices would die a death, and a new life would emerge, that life not knowable, for Celeste would not speak of it. But some strange new life would emerge, and the ancient decay of babble at the table of feasting would part from them, a meaning newly imparted.
Strange nonsense to Nebulox, but sometimes he wondered.
Was the dream One, then? This morning.
Bah, foolishness. He was getting old. He would not dream of the One Dream for an Eternity. He would not be so lucky to as dream such a dream until rightly eternity had filled itself up with amusement and finally bothered to get around to his old soul on its eternal list of things to do.
He finished drying off, and put on robes. Today he would dress in yellow. Perhaps for no good reason, but simply as it had been many months since the golden garbs of Pelladius had garbed his frame, he took them forth from the royal cabinet, and dressed in fine gold, he paraded himself front the mirror. He looked splendid. Least Lady Harmony would coldly suggest, but losy interest at an instant, and sip on her tea, and gaze into infinity. Blasted woman. He'd his fill of such nonsense.
Just like her mother in law.
He glanced one last look, and stole downwards, past his wife's room, down to the dining room, and waited upon the servants.
Harmony strolled in, sat down at the end of the long table, smiled at him, and poured tea. He watched her, and looked at her top. White, as usual, with a loveheart piece cut out showing her ample bosoms.
'Are ye randy?' he asked her.
'Why does thou inquire as such? I have not been giving off signals I doth protest.'
'Cods wallop. You are looking for a piece of Nebulox, I tell thee.'
She smirked softly. 'A piece of Nebulox? I haven't had a piece of Nebulox since you proposed 18 years ago.'
'Royal mother disagrees with that statement. Architects beloved daughter claims to me, when she visits, 'My daughter sleeps with you far too much, I dare say, with all the lustings I perceive you wont for her. You are a dastard Lord Nebulox,' she says to me. That I can't keep my bloody hands off of ya.'
'Royal Mother In Law is Architects finest creation, as she attests to each morning in front of her servants. But even she is not endowed with the wisdom of Eternity. I am NOT randy, Lord Nebulox, my liege. Besides, fucking is no fun anymore. There is no point. There never was, really....' she said, trailing off and gazing away at eternity.
'Aye,' responded Lord Nebulox. 'I still get a kick, for it satisfies me urges, but nothing much more. And each time, I tell ye, it is as if a part of me dies when I cum on ye, maiden. As if my life is in that cum, which I donnna understand, for it is nothing but a strange mixture of sexual ambrosia. Nobody ever says much else about the stuff.'
She turned her gaze to him. 'Perhaps it has a grand purpose. Perhaps it does something, in the end?'
'What?' he asked.
'I don't know. Beyond me. A mystery of the Grand Architect and nothing more. I do like the stuff, though. It tastes funny, but,' and she giggled,' it is sooo arousing. When you blow in my mouth, oh joy. The rush. Like nothing else.'
'So ye are in the mood,' he said, in an excited tone.
'Behave yourself,' she replied. 'My lord,' she said again, softly.
'Bah. Humbug,' he replied.
They sat there, the two of them for a while, and he glanced at her on occasion, but, finally, he looked at the breakfast the servants had prepared.
'Eggs,' he said. 'Scrambled. Aye, well it will do.'
Lady Harmony gazed at the table. 'Fine fare enough for this morning's sustenance. It shall do quite fine. If my lord will begin,' she said, looking at him.
He spooned a plate full of eggs onto some toast he had selected and began his morning meal, Lady Harmony soon following.
'A gypsy once spoke to me. She said it created life.'
Lord Nebulox was enjoying his meal, but looked up at his wife. 'Life? What do ye mean by that? And what exactly?'
'The cum,' she said. 'Your cream,' she said again, giggling.
'Life? What life, exactly?'
'She didn't say,' replied Lady Harmony, distantly. 'She stank, though, the gypsy. Fowl as anything in all the Realm of Architects creation. But she seemed, I don't know. Somehow disingenuine. About what she claimed to be. A pretend gypsy. No, maybe I am second guessing, but I don't know.'
Lord Nebulox finished off his toast and eggs and looked crosse the table. 'It creates life, ye say? What kind of life?'
'She never said. Ok. Do not persist in bothering me with that question. I don't bloody know.'
He glared at her, and looked down at the table, and decided to pour some tea for himself also.
Sipping away, he looked at his wife. 'Life like us, maybe?'
'Nonsense,' replied Lady Harmony, but looked at him cautiously. 'I mean, how could it? What, a person just appears, or something?'
'Maybe like a plant, or something,' responded Lord Nebulox.
'Then cum in a flower pot and have done with it,' she replied tartly.
'Mmm,' he said in response, and sipped on his tea.
She took issue. 'How could it create a person? We are fashioned by the will of the Grand Architect of Heaven and Earth, placed here in the Kingdom of Life, and here we reside, the creation of the One. All in heaven and earth are made the same way. Hell as well, I'd imagine. No, cum does not make life. It is a play thing for your pleasures.'
'You said yours too,' he said, winking at her, which elicited a small smile.
'I have had my fill of tea,' she said. 'I will away to the Hectorets this morning with the kitchen servants, and we'll fill our pantry for a month.'
'Aye,' replied Lord Nebulox, who had no aversion to filled Pantries, especially when the Lady purchased those 'Chocolate Drops' in great number he was so fond of.
'Be off with ye then,' he finished.
She walked past him, and said softly as she strode, 'Ye just like it when I suck your dick, my lord, so the Architect gave ye an outlet. Cum is for nothing more.'
He glanced sideways after her as she left, but said nothing, and turned back to the table. True – he liked his phallus sucked greatly by his wife, and the eruption of cum gave him great pleasure. Naturally, that was all it was for. Naturally.
Bah. Humbug. Enough with talk of cum. Off to the stables, and a morning on the course.
Nebulox was singing with the lads, the party going wild, and Lady Harmony over in the corner, sitting with the maidens, watched on, somewhat amused. She was dressed with a white head covering, which went down her back, and underneath was a rare scarlet dress she wore on infrequent occasions. The one he liked most.
'Lady,' he said, approaching his wife. 'Are ye enjoying the singing?'
'You sound like the morning cockerel,' she replied, giggling, which made the other ladies giggle also.
'I'm not that bad. Blasted woman. Come. Sing with me,' and he took her hand, and they sang away much of the evening.
Later, she looked truly ravishing, and as she undressed, he was already nekked and touched her belly.
'Aye. Ye always have been an extraordinary woman.'
She batted her eyelids and, as he laid down, she took to his manhood.
Shortly he erupted, and she was doing what he liked, when she froze.
'What's the matter? Finish the job.'
'Um. My lord. Um.'
'Out with it, woman.'
'My what?' he demanded.
'What about it?' he asked.
'Its gone and turned stark bloody white. Not a trace of yellow in it.'
He gawked at her, and put his hand down to bring up some of the stuff.
'Cod's wallop!' he swore, looking at the change in colour. 'This I've never heard spoken. What in flaming hell is going on. Are you playing some funny business with me?'
'My Lord,' exclaimed Lady Harmony, as if the question was an affront.
All that week Lord Nebulox wanked in pBrittoriate, and looked at the new colour. He couldn't explain it. Something had – changed.
They were at breakfast and Lady Harmony looked upset.
'What's the matter?' he asked her.
She was distraught. 'I feared an injury, but my maid can find none. None at all, and there is no explanation.'
'What are ye harking on about?'
'I bled. Yesterday morning. From my womanhood. Cept there is no bloody injury.'
'Cod's wallop,' he swore, but said nothing more, and treated her with care all week.
One month later she was distraught again and said it'd happened again.
Things were not as they had been in Castle Paradox.
Six months passed.
'Why are ye getting so bloody fat? Have ye changed yer bloody diet or something.'
'Leave me alone,' and she was almost weeping.
'My belly,' she said, tears in her eyes. 'It kicks.'
'It kicks?' he asked, incredulously.
'It kicks,' she said softly.
Lord Nebulox was beside himself.
A few months later, not a soul in paradox could deny the might screams of Lady Harmony. She was on her bed, wailing, and had pushed off her underwear, and her maid was with her.
And the maid reported that she was thrusting and thrusting and pushing and pushing, and did not know what the hell was going on.
Then from her vagina, out it came. And the maid took it, and washed off the covering and cleaned it up, and said 'Fuck me!'
'What is it?' Lady Harmony hissed.
The maid handed the thing to Lady Harmony, who took it and looked at it. It was a person. A tiny little person.
She softened. She took it, and put it on her chest, and its mouth found her nipple, and started suckling.
Lord Nebulox was admitted. 'What is it?' he asked.
'Our – Son – I guess,' said Lady Harmony. 'It is a man, very small, and he has his genitalia.'
'What's he doing?' asked Lord Nebulox in a very soft and hushed voice.
'What all men want to do?' she said sarcastically. 'Sucking on my bloody tits.'
And lord Nebulox grinned.
The man thing grew. It grew and started talking after a while, and they gave it a name. Paradox, after the castle.
He was their son. They had made a son, somehow. And they were some sort of family, in a new strange way.
Celeste, the angel, showed up. Initially dressed as a familiar looking gypsy. Then she showed her true form.
'A child is a blessing from the Grand Architect,' said Celeste. 'You will have many of them now. Raise them with care and love, for your kingdom will ever grow with their happy company.'
And the Kingdom of Life grew. And all the realm was amazed at the blessing of Heaven above.