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Fireraven's Fiery Writewords . . . specifically one thing for now

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#1 Princess Floweraven

Princess Floweraven

    If every porkchop were perfect . . .

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Posted 17 June 2016 - 12:39 PM

The title, however nonsensical it may be, does, in fact, say it all. This is a topic where I post any writing I may do. But for now, specifically, as the title explains, I have one thing: The Drionus Realm, The War of Chaos, a fantasy book I am writing. This is my heart story. I've worked on this universe since I was eight, and recently started legitimately writing on it. I went to a young writer's conference in Minneapolis from Tuesday to Thursday this week, and the Prologue and Chapter One are what I brought in. I will post those now, and the few other chapters I have later. I'd love any critique and/or comments you have. So, without further ado, here it is: 


Spoiler'd for size, here is the book concept cover I drew up in PowerPoint:






             “Soon, soon, soon, you keep saying ‘soon!’” the King snapped at his brother. “I begin to wonder if you are right at all, as you have been saying ‘soon’ for the past sixty years!”

            “I mean what I say, Elader,” the other King, his brother, replied calmly. “When I say ‘soon,’ I mean ‘soon.’”

            “Then I fear your concept of time is but a little backwards, Argoth.” Elader sighed and slapped a large hand onto his brother’s shoulders. “It has been sixty years, Argoth. Sixty years since we started all of this. And yet still you say ‘soon.’ Knowing you, that either means it will be another ten years at the least before we are ready, at which point, might I remind you, we will be close to death by old age, or, the other option, the one I hope for but am disinclined to believe in, and that is that . . . soon,” he put an annoyed stress on that word, “you will start saying very soon.” Argoth laughed a little, and turned to face Elader.  

            “But I am right, brother.” He slapped his own wrinkled hand on Elader’s broad shoulders. “You know that.” Though his hands were ancient, his grip was firm and loving. 

            “Yes, I know that. And that irks me. How you are right, I do not understand. You are always right, brother, and yet you always speak in riddles when it comes to the how of it. Even with your own brother. Your own kin.” The balding king sighed.

            “I am gifted, Elader. That, you also knew.” Argoth turned away once more to stare out upon their city from the palace balcony.

            “Yes. ‘Gifted.’ I know it, but once more I do not understand it. Gifted with what, Argoth? Gifted by whom?”

            “With foresight, Elader. By the gods.”

            “You know the gods have not been with us for a long time, Argoth.” Elader looked angrily into the pink, evening clouds and saw, there, in the hues, his own emotions reflected. In the reds, the pinks.

            “Just because the gods have not blatantly shown signs in some physical manifestation of themselves does not mean they have abandoned us, Elader.” Elader began pacing. 

            “And yet they have not shown the barest hint of their existence, or their involvement in mortal affairs, for centuries, Argoth, not since the Divine Wars!” Elader stepped close to his bearded brother, eager to hear his retort for that, despite having heard it countless times before. 

            “And yet we have not been discovered.”

            “What?” Elader asked, confused as to what his brother meant. That was a sentence he had not anticipated. It dissented from the normality of their conversation; it wandered from the path of their usual discussion. 

            “This rebellion we have started. These alliances we have been making for these sixty long years. None of it has come to the eye of Sovereign Archen. I take that as a sign of good fortune from the gods.”

            “It is not from the gods, Argoth. It is common, earthly fortune. We call that ‘good luck.’” The argument was veering back towards its norm again. “It is commonplace here in Drionus.”  

            “If that is indeed true, then mighty, tremendous good luck we have had, these past sixty years, eh, Elader?” Argoth pushed on those last words, leaning close to Elader, staring daggers into his eyes with his own, wise, weary eyes of gray. The two kings looked out onto their city.

            “I see your point, brother. But luck of such magnitude can happen. It is possible. More possible than it being fortune from the gods, more possible than the idea that the gods still smile down on us from the heavens above. The gods have left us. We are alone in our earthly affairs.”

            “A theory I downright refuse to believe, brother, as you well know.”

            “Yes, yes, I grow weary of this conversation. It is one we have had too many times before.” 

            “On that, brother, we are agreed.”

Chapter One



                Swirling, bubbling darkness was all he saw. He drifted through the black, spots and blotches of patchy light bleeding through the inky blackness here and there, rays of sunshine leaking in, and then getting snuffed out by the tides of death. And then a voice cried, breaking through the shadows, shattering the façade of night, tearing a hole in the glossy, watery fabric of the black blanket, calling for him, calling by name . . . the words bounced about through the stars, he couldn’t grasp it . . . the voice wasn’t strong enough . . . he wasn’t strong enough . . . the darkness folded around him, the voice was shut out, he saw glimpses, glimpses of things to be, things that could come to pass, things that he should not have seen, and then- 

            . . . Darren . . . Darren . . . Darren . . .

Darren awoke with a start. He couldn’t remember what he dreamt for the life of him, but he just knew. It was this . . . feeling, deep in his gut, that something terrible had been happening and that he had just escaped it by returning to reality. By waking up.

That feeling plagued him after every nightmare. It was that nauseous pit in his stomach, his intestines churning about worriedly and his insides, his gut freezing over, stuck with an icy lance of pure, cold despair.

            That, coupled with the layers and layers of sweat, some of it long dried, some of it still wet, that had caked itself onto him and his bed, and was stinking up the room like a stable. Without the smell of manure, of course, that was obvious, but take away the smell of manure in a stable and you would get a smell rather like that which Darren was now grimacing at. His father always told him that he would get used to the way he smelled, eventually. That someday, when he was older, he would no longer smell himself. Somehow, he doubted that.

            Because every morning at nine o’clock, bang on the dot – Darren awoke with a start as his father opened his smithy with the toll of a bell and an abhorrently loud and obnoxious “we’re open,” being yelled from his father’s mouth and into the streets, and somehow carrying into Darren’s bedroom, despite there being first and foremost a window that was always closed and secondly the fact that Darren’s father was always turned facing the street, and not the house – Darren would awake to the horrid stench of boy.   

            The people of the village said that his father had a blacksmith’s voice: impossibly loud, sickeningly gravelly, and forever selling daggers for half off.

            Of course he’s got a blacksmith’s voice, Darren grumbled to himself in his thoughts, the way only a person who hates mornings could grumble to himself in his thoughts, he’s a blacksmith, and then he laid his face back down in the pillow and shut his eyes tight. 

            Of course he didn’t actually fall back to sleep. He never could. Once he woke up, he couldn’t for the life of him get back to sleep again until nightfall.

            But trying to go back to sleep somehow, despite its impossibility, felt worth it. It was a way of resting and procrastinating doing any actual work before his father clomped up the stairs to come and get him.

            And of course, his father did come to get him.

            But, today, Darren was one step ahead of him. Because today – or rather, during the night prior – Darren had had such a wretched nightmare that he had sweated so profusely even he could not bear his own stench. So, several minutes before his father came to get him, Darren had groggily stood up, stripped his clothes, deposited the golden medallion around his neck – an heirloom given to him by his father – gently onto his nightstand, poured himself a bath, and began bathing the stink off of himself after opening the window to let some more of it out, which, gods knowing, had to be done.

            The door blew open and a massive, brown-haired, hunching man stomped in on his tiptoes – that was a thing only his father was adept at, stomping on his tiptoes. The man took several hearty steps into the room, an eager smile on his face, a wicked shine in his eyes, and a strange jar in his hand. But then the man spotted Darren, frowned, straightened up, and sighed.

            “This better not become a new habit, Darren,” his father said, almost sadly.

            “What, bathing?” Darren joked.

            “No, getting up before I can . . . well, get you up, if you know what I mean,” his father laughed loudly.

            “What was the plan this time, Father?” Darren asked, a little halfheartedly. He was amused, yes, but he was preoccupied with scrubbing some less than clean parts of his naked body – which was to say, all of it. His father raised the arm holding the strange clay jar.

            “Spiders,” he explained, a mischievous joy in his voice. Darren gasped. He hated spiders. He really hated spiders. He was deathly afraid of spiders. “Bought them from Ms. Fig. Shoulda seen the look on her face when, after I bought it, I told her it was for dumping on my son’s head!” Darren’s father reared his head back and roared with laughter, then bent over and put his hands on his knees, seemingly unable to recover from the hilarity of it all.

            “I think spiders . . .” Darren gulped, scooting his way to the edge of his tub furthest from his father, “. . . were um . . . just a bit t-too f-far, Father,” he said through gritted teeth. He took a few short breaths, eyeing the jar suspiciously.

            “Well, you know, you have to get over your fear sometime, right? I thought . . . well, now might’ve been a good time, but oh well. Well, you better- oh by Krainein, it reeks in here!” Darren’s father nearly doubled over. The stink must’ve just reached his nostrils. “What, did you kill something in here?” he continued to groan, and he plugged his nose. Darren sighed.

            “Actually, if I know my nightmares, something probably killed me in here.” His father didn’t laugh. “You know,” Darren continued, “in m-my . . . my nightmare. Something probably killed me in my nightmare,” his ramblings came to a stuttering end. His father still wasn’t laughing. Pfft. I thought it was funny.

            “Well, son, you should get dressed and head out to the shop. You’re late, as usual.”

            “But I’m bathing, Father! And I’m tired; I only just woke up! Oh, and I need something to eat, too, first,” Darren complained, but seeing his father’s annoyance, the same look he received every morning when he gave the same exact list of excuses- excuse me, Darren stopped himself – reasons why he couldn’t come into the shop just this instant, when he got that look, he stopped. “. . . If that’s quite alright with you?” His father sighed and walked over slowly, turning the jar in his hand around.

            “You know . . . ‘tis a shame I bought this whole jar of spiders and never got to use it . . .” He clucked his tongue sadly, shaking his head with feigned resentment, and then, to Darren’s dismay, he twisted the jar open and emptied the contents of it – a dozen black, creepy-crawly spiders – onto Darren’s head. And all in the span of a nanosecond, a half of an instant, Darren realized how stupid he was, how he knew that was going to happen and how he had made a huge mistake, possibly the largest mistake of his life, by staying there and how he should’ve jumped up the moment his father walked over, and Darren’s senses registered the feelings of one hundred tiny, hairy arachnid legs crawling all over his shaggy hair and down his neck frantically, and finally, last but certainly not least, Darren let out an ear-piercing, glass-shattering, girlish shriek and jumped out of his bath, shook wildly and vigorously like someone who was having a seizure, flapping his arms about like a court jester, and then he landed on his feet, shaking, quivering, whimpering, in the middle of the room, stark naked, freezing cold, dripping wet, scared to death.

            Goosebumps broke out like wildfires all along Darren’s body and he still felt phantom imprints of the spiders all over him, causing him to have the overwhelming desire to itch – a desire which he fulfilled gratefully, scratching and clawing himself all over – and making him feel all the more cold and exposed.

            His father, of course, laughed.

            “Father!”  Darren screamed through barred teeth.

“Awake now, son? I think that takes care of your list. You’re done bathing, you’re clearly not tired anymore,” Darren shivered violently, “cause, kid, you’re shaking like the skirt of an Emisaran tavern dancer,” he laughed, “and finally, if I remember correctly, which I do, you once said even seeing spiders makes you lose your appetite. And I reckon that being covered in about a dozen, all of them actually touching you,” Darren scratched himself again, just to be sure, “well, you’re probably not gonna eat for the day.” His father chuckled heartily. “Get dressed, son, and then get to the shop.”

            Darren twitched uncontrollably. Thanks, Father. Thanks to you, now, I’m gonna be looking for and finding spiders in this room for the next week!

            The door slammed shut as Darren’s father left the room, his deep, contagious laughter still echoing through the house and ringing in Darren’s ears.

            Darren gulped. There were still spiders about. A dozen. Maybe more. Those creepy-crawly nightmares seemed invulnerable to all things of the mortal world. They were impossibly fast and evil as a dragon, with talons like . . . well, like . . . do spiders have talons?     

            Darren shook his head furiously. What do I care? The less he knew about spiders, the better, he figured, as even the thought of them made him shiver with fright. Darren was not a cowardly boy; no, he never shied from a task and consistently braved the dangers of being late to his father’s shop. Nor was he a squeamish boy: Of the wounds he had seen in his lifetime, none had made him turn away his gaze, and for a boy of 18 living in a small town on the outskirts of a petty kingdom independent of the Sovereignty’s rule, he had seen a surprising number of wounds. His father, when he used to hunt with the town guards, always seemed to return with unexplained wounds, which always worried his mother greatly. Darren’s older brother, Drake, would sometimes accompany their father on these hunts, and sometimes he had returned with wounds, himself.

            Never liked hunting. He had always thought it rather dull. But what his brother and father used to venture out into the woods for, armed to the teeth, was most assuredly not hunting. At least, not any common hunting involving game. Darren wasn’t blind to this – he was no idiot. But he had never gotten an answer as to what it was. He would ask, his father would reply with “hunting.” Hunting. Hunting deer in a forest doesn’t send you home with stab wounds.   

            He took a look around his room as he reached for the towel atop the trunk at the foot of his bed. The gaze around his room wasn’t idle, nor was it even to check for spiders. Instead, it was to check for more practical jokes. Sometimes, his father would mess with his room somehow – move things to different places just to make Darren’s morning all the more miserable. But it all seemed to be right. There was his mirror, set atop a small table, his bed in the corner, his trunk at the foot of that, a nightstand on one side of the small bed, a window on the far wall, his bath set in the middle of the room, and the door.

Nothing out of the ordinary.

He sighed, relieved, and opened his trunk, pulling from it an off-white pillow tunic, and a pair of brown sack-cloth pants. He dressed himself, picked up the shoes next to the trunk, put them on, and stepped towards the door, but stopped mid-step – an awkward maneuver that nearly caused him to double over – and turned his head to his nightstand. The medallion. Making sure to keep a watchful eye for spiders, he carefully moved towards his nightstand. Once he reached it, he snatched the medallion – a bronze-gold pendant with an ornate chain, silver engravings and a polished, shining ruby in the center – and then he rushed to his door, slipped out, slammed it behind him, and took a deep breath. He closed his eyes, his hand idly caressing the medallion around his neck.

He ran his thumb gently over the ruby in the center, felt its expertly carved shape, the perfect, round edges, the smooth, polished surface of the gem. He clenched it tightly, wrapping his whole fist around it, and took another deep breath. It was a comfort to him, a security item. It made him feel safe. His father had given it to him on his eighteenth birthday, said it had been a gift from the king of their land for loyalty to the kingdom. His father had served as a knight, once upon a time, but that had been long ago. No matter how much Darren insisted on it, his father would never tell any tales from his days as a soldier. Darren suddenly scoffed. That thought had brought another into his head. When his father gifted him the necklace, the chain attached to the pendant was not the only string attached: He had also forbidden him from wearing the medallion at night, while sleeping. When Darren questioned this, his reason was that “you could choke yourself.” Darren had thought that a rubbish reason, and so, in the wake of his horrible nightmares, as a source of comfort, and in part as an act of teenage rebellion, Darren chose to, secretly, always wear the medallion, every night.

No problem so far.

Darren leaned against the wall outside his room and clutched the medallion tighter. He still felt anxious. He shut his eyes tightly.

             . . . Darren . . .

Darren’s eyes shot open, barely saving him from slipping into another nightmare. He shook his head vigorously. He had nearly fallen asleep. That same blackness from before had almost engulfed him again. How little sleep did I get last night?

             “Darren!” came a voice. It was his mother, downstairs. “Your father’s giving me ‘the signal!’” Darren sighed. Ah, yes. The signal. “The signal” was what his mother called the look Darren’s father gave her when Darren took too long to come into the shop. His place of work was set just outside of their house, and so, if Darren was still late, his father would look up from the forge, gaze through their open window, catch his wife’s eyes, and lift his arms up questioningly, which provoked her to call Darren to come down, if he hadn’t already. Darren set one shaky foot onto the top step. He felt nauseous, lightheaded. Must be getting too little sleep. It’s the nightmares.     

             “Coming, mother!” Darren called down. He let go of the pendant and clasped the railing tightly with his now-free hand. He took another step, this one steadier. His nausea began to lift, and his head felt its proper weight again. He took another step, and another, and then was able to descend the stairs normally, albeit with the wall the stairs were directly against as a steadying device. Once he reached the ground floor, he turned to the right, the only direction available. His house was small: a two story building with three tiny rooms on the top floor, a living room to the right of the steps, a small kitchen past that with a dining table set in the center of it, and a door going outside. The house had sturdy stone foundations and was furnished cozily with cushioned chairs and some finely woven rugs. Three windows, shutters fully open, let light into the house, the beams illuminating pillars of dust drifting from the ceiling.

             Darren stepped into the kitchen and grabbed his canteen, which sat on the table. He filled it at the water keg, hugged his mother good morning, nearly getting a mouthful of curly red hair in the process, and then stepped outside into the cool, Sky’s Lament air. It was the fourth month of the year AA 261136, and it was the rainiest, and dreariest. But today was, in fact, a fairly bright day, with a cool breeze, a somewhat cloudy sky, and not a drop of water in the air or a rumble of thunder in the sky. Darren breathed in the smell of the town. All the good and the bad, the fresh fruits and baked goods, the cooked meats and the good-smelling herbs of Ms. Fig, and the manure and the bad-smelling herbs, the smoke from the forge. Darren stood in front of the smithy, and the heat from the forge blasted into him, tearing away the pleasant chill and replacing it with an unpleasant warmth.     

            “About time, Dar,” his father said.

            “What’re we forging today, Father?” Darren asked, though he dreaded the answer.

            “Swords,” he answered. Darren sighed. There it is. The answer he dreaded.

            “Again?” Darren asked, annoyance clear in his voice. “Swords again?” In response to this, his father gave him a look as hard as Elven steel.

            “Sorry, Father.” Darren lowered his head. His father sighed and turned back to the forge again, picking up the tongs.

            “Put on your gloves. We’ve work to do.”



That's it. Please forgive formatting errors, this forum has never liked Word. So again, comments and critique welcome, and that's all! Seeya later!

On May 9, 2011, HolyGhost said...



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no I'm not just advertising it because it's a spin-off of my own roleplay why would you think that

#2 Neyo Wargear

Neyo Wargear

    Gloria fortis miles

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Posted 17 June 2016 - 11:19 PM

I very much enjoy the detailed descriptions, always nice to have an image in my head. You also use great colorful words, I think you really showcase that in Darren freaking out over the spiders.

Omnius mille passus expeditio, omnis fossa bellum.

"The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war."

- General of the Army Douglas MacArthur

#3 Princess Floweraven

Princess Floweraven

    If every porkchop were perfect . . .

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 02:35 PM

I don't know if anyone will read this, but here's anew prologue for the very same book.






            “Malkoran, help me up these steps, will you?”

            A lean man with dark hair, old, though significantly younger than the hunched, aged fellow who had called his name, rushed over to assist his elder.

            “Here, master.” Malkoran put his master’s free arm over his shoulder and, his other side bolstered by an onyx walking stick, lifted him gently up the broken stones.   

            “Thank you, my dear boy,” his master coughed.

            “You must rest, master – at home, in your bed. You are not the spry Loremaster you once were,” Malkoran noted. He cautiously left his master to stand freely on the ancient cobbles, careful to be sure the elderly man kept his feet.

            His master scoffed heartily. “And miss progress? No, my dear boy, not for all the gems in Drionus would I give up these ventures.” Malkoran examined the path through the ruins ahead. The men were digging not far down the path. There was some commotion – they had found something, undoubtedly why the old wizard had come. And he was. Old, that is. The knots in his long, fraying white beard confirmed it – seven knots. 350 years, that meant. Malkoran had been twelve when he came into the Loremaster’s service.  49 years ago.

            That was the most knots he’d ever seen on a man – living or dead. He’d heard stories – the Eight Wisemen each may have had upwards of ten knots, assuming they practiced the Anvillian custom, but seven was still astonishing. After all, despite his magics, the wizard was still but a man, as Malkoran was. A mortal. Few men even lived to three knots.        

            To accommodate so many knots, the old wizard’s beard stretched down to his waist, where he looped it twice through his belt, with, of course, a comfortable amount of slack.

            “What about for your health?” Malkoran asked. He said it with the air of a jest, but that only hid his true concern. His master stopped, resting on his staff, the bright sapphire nested in the head catching the light of the suns beaming through the door at the entrance of the hall.   

            “What, would you have I, the great Kassius Tellebor, miss the discovery of a revolutionary magical artefact?” Kassius chortled – a dry, raspy chortle, his ancient throat barely able to make the sound. “No, Vertas, no, I wouldn’t, not for godhood. Lore is my profession. Was. It is yours now, too, Loremaster.” Vertas Malkoran smiled slightly. He was still having some difficulty adjusting to the new title. Loremaster. Owner, librarian of all knowledge in the civilized world, head of the pursuit of it, master of it. Vertas still thought of Kassius as Loremaster. The pair continued walking slowly down the decrepit hall, careful not to trip on stones, vines crunching underfoot.

            Massive statues of cracking gray marble, standing thrice as tall as a man, lined the hall. They were guards, dressed in beautiful, intricate armor, and yet, still, with the beauty of the sculpting and the magnificence of their size, they were nothing near to the the size nor majesty of the long-gone Overlords they were supposed to represent.

The ceiling of the chamber was well beyond the heads of the stone sentinels, shrouded in darkness – meant to accommodate the height of the real Overlords.

            That’s how old it was. The chamber. From when giants still walked Drionus.         

            “I wouldn’t have you miss it either, master, but for your health – don’t go dying on me.”

            “Vertas, dear boy, I’m a wizard – and I was a Loremaster – I know every spell, salve and tricksy trick to staying alive. Gods, if nothing else, I’m kept alive by sheer willpower – willpower to be a stuffy old chap with his nose buried in tomes somehow older than I am,” he laughed. Vertas smiled.

            “I can assure you those tomes would be more intriguing than today’s mundane discovery, Master Tellebor,” Vertas said. “You always come to every dig, master. As certainly as there was nothing of import uncovered yester-week, or the week before that, or before that, there will be nothing of import today.” Kassius clucked his tongue disappointedly.

            “Ever the apprentice, my good boy,” he smiled. “If mathematics has anything to say about it, then, in all likelihood, given that the past several weeks’ worth of digs have proven unfruitful, surely this will be the one that is intriguing. Probabilities, Vertas.”

            “A science taught by men even stuffier than you,” Vertas remarked, sarcastically. Kassius found that little joke so humorous that it made him stop walking and begin laughing so hard that he started coughing dryly.

            “And barring math, my good boy – I have a good feeling about it,” the wizard said after recovering from his painful laughing fit.  

            “You say that about every dig,” Vertas said.

            “Doesn’t make it any less true, my boy.” The pair continued walking, nearing the source of the commotion. Tellebor’s sandaled feet scraped roughly over the uneven cobbles, his onyx walking stick providing a rhythmic thud that resounded through the chamber. “I sometimes wish that magical fitness could translate to physical fitness,” he said. “I am . . . not fast,” he laughed.

            “A glide spell might be found likable, then, master,” Vertas suggested. Kassius waved his hand dismissingly.

            “I like the sensation of the earth beneath my feet, Malkoran. It keeps me – and my head – sometimes quite literally out of the clouds, as it were.” The wizard chuckled lightly at his own joke, then began coughing again.  

            Such wasted potential, Vertas thought. All that knowledge, that skill – and he walks places. The pair stopped, having arrived in the center of the room, a large chamber, with four hallways connected, one leading left, another forward, another right, and the fourth the one they had come from, behind. The whole area was lit from seemingly nowhere – the spells of the lore-mongers there, no doubt. Amateur sorcerers, most of them, but they could cast at least a basic illumination spell, so there was that.   

            On a raised, triangular platform sat a massive tomb, crafted of marble and stone, latched shut by Aetergold – or it had been. The latch had been broken, the lid slid off.

Inside laid the perfectly preserved remains of a man in dark brown robes, deathly pale, eyes sunken into his skull and a stiff black beard on his chin. A single knot was awkwardly tied on the short scruff. Fifty years. Vertas cocked his head. The dead man looked oddly like him, somehow. A little shave and the corpse might pass for Vertas – if a dead-looking Vertas. The closed eyes didn’t help the illusion. He reached into the tomb and lifted the lids. Green. Like Vertas’ most often were.

            “Who is he?” Vertas asked the scribes and scholars gathered around the tomb.

            “The text on the lid is ancient – at least seven quintamillenniums-”

            “But we can translate that, can we not?” Vertas asked, impatiently.

            “Barely, Loremaster. We believe this to be the tomb of the Heretic.”

            Malkoran stumbled backwards slightly – he didn’t know exactly why. He suddenly felt lightheaded. His knees had buckled, and his vision blurred slightly, images slithering past. Green mists, flashes of light, swirling blackness and a pale face – his own? He blinked several times.

           A cold, hard brace against his back jolted him back into Drionus. Kassius had held him up with his staff.

           “Malkoran?” he asked, worried.

           “I’m fine, master,” Malkoran replied.  

           “Seven knots, boy. You are not fine.” He held his staff there. Malkoran realized he was still steadying himself on it. He let go, his hands cold from the gemstone staff.

           “I’m fine, Tellebor,” he said again. The old Loremaster did not move. He was alert, his eyes, which were bright blue today, wide open. He seemed younger than he had on the walk there. Seven knots.

           “Malkoran, in all my centuries, I have learnt that nothing is as it seems. But that does not apply here. You seem ill – you clearly are. It’s the eyes.” Malkoran shoved Tellebor’s staff away.               

           “By Kranin almighty, I said I’m fine, Kassius!” Malkoran lifted into the air, well under a meter, but still gliding. His hands burned. Ached with a fiery stinging. Sparks danced on his fingertips, his skin glowed red-hot, arcana churning and boiling inside of him-

           Vertas dropped to the ground.

           He turned, and left the chamber swiftly, his hasty steps echoing through the tomb.




            Kassius sat, hovering in the very center of his study, surveying an ungodly amount of parchment scattered haphazardly on the ashwood floor beneath him. His room was large, but cozy – mostly due to the messy nature of the room. Multicolored stacks of books stood like pillars throughout the room, parchment littered the floor, tables sat nestled into corners, more books weighing them down. Odd contraptions, some spinning things, others with gears, others with lights or liquids or crystals inside their bronze or golden or silver frameworks. A potion here, sitting dormant, the potent mixture within perhaps staled. A candle there, more for incense than light.

            A large, red stained glass window on the right wall was opened, overlooking the ash forests stretching out in vast swathes over and under hill – and the rest of Fort Lore.

Rocks – large, bright blue, shining crystalline rocks, uncut, imperfect, rough-surfaced – bumped around on the ceiling, occasionally moved by a gust of wind blowing in from the window and tumbling around each other on the heavy marble ceiling. Atlas crystals, those magical stones what held the skylands of Hy-Effia in the air. These were from Atlea, the lost continent. Not lost like a child losing a toy, but lost, like a life. Godfall – an event that had destroyed the continent.

            Legends said that, once upon a time, the continent had been adrift in the skies, until some evil force had pulled it down and tethered it in the sea.

            Sources differed on the who.

            Kassius pored over the loose pages and open books on the ground below him. Wind blowing in from the window had no effect – he had a ward up around just him and his work. Gusts of air would glance off of the unseen shield and do their gusting somewhere else.

            For a lesser sorcerer, this would be taxing – a hover spell, a ward, maybe other things – but Kassius was a wizard, of seven knots. To him, such a performance was only as taxing as getting up in the morning.

           Though, to be fair, with his ancient, rattling bones and weak joints, getting up in the morning was surprisingly difficult.

           Still, no thought was given to his spells. All was given to the task laid out, literally, before him. Translate the tablet. In what was believed to be the Heretic’s tomb, a tablet had been found – a stone tablet, no larger than a piece of parchment, but several orders of magnitude thicker, with perfect, square dimensions, made of a dark, morphing stone. Morphing. A slow morph. Few substances did that, but he had seen it before. It usually didn’t bode well.

           The material seemed to wander back and forth between a rough stone, like the ceiling above, and a smooth crystal, like his onyx staff. The words, etched deep into the tablet, however, remained unchanged and untouched by the morphing. Not even the stone within the etchings seemed to morph with the rest of the tablet – it was like it wasn’t even an etching at all.

           It was like the words were shadows cast on the black. Black on black. It was difficult to even discern the shape of the characters in the first place, let alone translate it. It didn’t help that simply looking at the letters hurt his eyes – his vison blurred and his head began to ache. He had at first thought it may have been his age, but the other scribes had concurred with his reports, and even spoke of other texts they had found that produced a similar effect. And he had remembered, then, too. He had pondered over such items before.

           Bah, he thought. Seven knots. What good is age? Its supposed wonder is played up. But then again . . . wisdom is never in short supply. I suppose youth and age each have their drawbacks. Yes, yes, he remembered now. In his old age, his memory had been failing him, but he remembered now. Strange black tablets. Runes that hurt the eyes. Not many such items existed. It was more than likely that Fort Lore had the largest stockpile of the oddities in all the Realm.

          Of course, everyone told stories of the Emperor’s weapon, and how it hurt even to look upon it, let alone touch it, but there couldn’t be a relation there, could there?

Hmm. Seven quintamillenniums. That’s what the scribe back at the tomb had said. It made sense, too, if their guess about the identity of the corpse in the tomb was correct. The Heretic had lived that long ago – 35,000 years.

          Malkis. That had been the blasphemer’s name. Legend had it that Malkis never truly died, that he had cast a spell on himself that made his soul live on eternal, reincarnating itself in every person from then on named Malkis.

         What utter nonsense. For one thing, the notion of him having cast such a spell was ludicrous. He had been the first real sorcerer. No one since had discovered such a spell, so how could he have? For another, what power could a name have? Why should he only allow himself to reincarnate within a person named Malkis? What an idiotic limitation. Just . . . never name a man Malkis ever again. Problem solved. Heretic killed.

         But the public didn’t see it that way. The common man gave in to superstition, and spread the nonsense. Oh well. Ignorant commoners will be ignorant commoners. 

He’d tried shining light into the tablet to make out the etchings better. He’d tried torchlight, lamplight, Atlas light, mage light, candlelight, pure arcane light, sunlight. Nothing had worked. The light had simply . . . not affected it. The tablet had sat there, still blacker than the blackest night.

         Kassius lifted the tablet into the air with him and felt the etchings again. It stung his fingers, but he cast a pain ward and continued. Strange, strange characters. Odd letters he didn’t know. It was totally alien, only vaguely like other preserved and archived texts from the period.   

         God.  Not the sounds, nor the word in any language spoken today, but that was what he felt. His fingers recognized the shape. How did he know? He looked down at the texts on the floor below him. Solmar Yi’Cora, DO 4946, 2nd Quintamillennium. An essay on the Overlords of old. In the upper right, two strange letters had been sketched, the black characters intertwined. Beneath had been scribed “God.” All of that had been translated, of course, annotated in the margins. It was easy, just an older version of the language Kassius currently spoke. God.

         Solmar Yi’Cora. High Priest of Clan Sorga of old. What did he know of this tablet?

         A knock at the door.

         It swung open, obeying Kassius’ thoughts. He swiveled in midair, turning to see his visitor. He was unintentionally upside down. He righted himself, and squinted at the figure- no, figures- in the doorway.

        A scribe at the front, several at the back, all carrying wood cases wrapped in cloth and leather, all of various sizes, each tied shut with goldweave. The other texts.

        “Good, good. Enter. Set them here,” he commanded, his feet connecting with the floor. He was standing now, no longer hovering. Scribes sometimes got uneasy seeing Kassius, especially at his current age, floating for no good reason. The scribes entered and set the leather cases on the floor. They turned to leave, knowing better than to bother the old mage. He stopped them. “And one more thing, scribe. The entire known and archived works of Solmar Yi’Cora,” he said. The scribe’s eyes widened, but he nodded and left. With his thoughts, Kassius closed the door behind them, and returned to his hovering, unravelling the first case’s tie.

        A wand a smidge over two feet long, made of a beautiful, blue wood, long and fairly straight, smooth to the touch and as tough as metal. The wand came to a twisting, intricate end, with fingers of wood curling around a bright purple gem glowing brightly. It hummed faintly. Metal rungs were inlaid through the shaft, separating the objects of his interest: those etchings that hurt his head to look at, curling around and around the shaft.

        Aemortor. That was the wand’s name. All good weapons had a name. This one had been forged by the Light Elves in an age long past. But those runes . . .

Another case revealed, inside, a small, fraying burlap pouch, clearly very old. Within was a strange assortment of deeply black rocks, lightweight and jagged, perhaps two dozen, all jumbled close together. They seemed almost too black – like the tablet. There were no runes in these, though they gave Kassius a mild headache when he gazed too long.

Another black tablet. A patch of cloth, torn, a single, black, blurry character on it. He picked it up, cast a pain-numbing spell, localized on his eyes and forehead, and looked closely. From what he could make out, it looked as though the letter was carved, etched into the surface here, too. Like the stone tablets. But that was impossible – one couldn’t etch runes into cloth.

       So, he thought. A trick of the eyes. He turned the cloth around. The symbol was repeated on the other side – not mirrored, but exactly the same. He stared deep into what should have been the end of the etching, the deepest whatever tool had carved it had reached. He could not see the end. Only a black abyss, blacker than anything, staring back at him. The cloth morphed into a pristine silk, and then back into a sort of burlap – rough, fraying, ancient burlap.





            “I thought you liked the sensation of the earth beneath your feet,” Vertas jabbed. Kassius swiveled midair to face him, but didn’t bother righting his orientation for him, like he had for the scribes. He smiled slightly.

            “Not all the time. When thinking, I like to float. It . . . frees me a little, I think. I can focus more on the task at hand, and less on how cold the wood is, or how itchy my slippers are,” he replied. Now he righted himself.

            “I think you’re just failing to realize the gravity of the situation, master,” Vertas joked.

            Kassius smiled. “Hm. Clever, Vertas – or it would be, had I not heard it a dozen times before.” He smirked. “But come in, come in. I think I’ve translated something rather interesting.” Vertas strode into the room, his black hair swept by the wind blowing in, his coattails ruffled.

            “Good thing, too, master. The scribes were beginning to wonder if you were still alive – nine days and you were seen but once, only when you left to see the Emperor.”

            “Twice. I called scribes in to take back some things. Besides, an ordinary man is more than capable of fasting for nine days. I, however, am a wizard. I could fast for far longer than is usual, if necessary, but why fast or call for food, interrupting my own thoughts, when I could simply create my own?” He summoned a piece of bread. It materialized in his hand, and he took a bite. “Tastes better, too,” he laughed.  

            “Why devote time to eating when you could simply silence your stomach with a simple spell?” Vertas asked. Kassius understood it was likely a jest, but he felt an answer to that comment, however sarcastic, was necessary. 

            “Food is good for thought, my dear boy. Never underestimate the power of a good sandwich.” He smiled. “Now come.” He set down on the floor, still sitting, beckoning Vertas over. The tall man approached, his thick-heeled boots thudding against the wood. He knelt next to Kassius. “All these black texts – Solmar Yi’Cora translated bits of it, once upon a time. And I found his source – the writings on the Kingsblade. Aezi L’Vali.” Vertas raised an eyebrow.

            “The runes lining the blade, I presume?” Kassius nodded.

            “The Emperor was kind enough to let me have a look at it, though begrudgingly, and of course I didn’t touch the holy thing. Just looked. After, in his journals, I found a random scrawl of what seemed to be nonsense, as follows:” he cleared his throat and held up a dusty book with old, yellow pages and incomprehensible writing. “‘In the Dawn, Kranin our god brought into being our Realm of Drionus by his hammer and anvil alone, which he laid to rest in the Four Seas. From his dreams he crafted it, from the Void it came into light.’” Vertas frowned.

            “I fail to see the significance-”

            “Patience, my boy. It seemed to be simple jibber-jabber, perhaps a write-up of the beginning of a missive or a story he would tell children. It even seemed so to me when I first read it years ago. But it is nothing so mundane. I have discerned that is, in fact, a translation of the texts on the Kingsblade.” Vertas furrowed his brow.   

            “You are sure?”

            “Of course I’m sure, Malkoran. I’m certain. I wouldn’t have called you in if I was not certain.” Vertas stood.

            “Well. Splendid, you’ve solved the mystery of what the Kingsblade says. Now if you’ll excuse me, master-”

            “That is not all I’ve solved, boy. Here.” Kassius handed him a piece of parchment. “Read it, my boy.” Vertas raised an eyebrow in skepticism, took it, and read it, his eyes darting quickly across the parchment. He lowered it.


            “The whole thing, my boy.” Vertas rolled his eyes and kept reading. Slowly, his eyes grew wider.

            “But . . .”

            “That’s what it says. The tablet. Malkis’ tablet.” Vertas threw his arms in the air.

            “Well, there’s your answer. A Heretic’s lies, nothing more. Master, I’m afraid you’ve spent nine days translating falsehoods.”

            “I wish that were so, my dear boy,” Kassius said, “I truly wish that were so.” He picked up Solmar’s journal again, and turned to one of the last pages, rising into the air beside Vertas as he did so. He began reading the annotated translations. “‘Kranin’s son was felled in the battle. I comforted him – Praenan – as he succumbed to his wounds. I stood atop one of the Heretic’s siege engines, looking down on his head as he died. With his dying breath, the giant spoke to me. ‘The sword lies,’ he said, and his eyes went cold.’”

            “‘The sword lies?’” Vertas asked. “What does that mean?”

            “The sword. The sword. Aezi L’ Vali. Commonly known as the Kingsblade.” He lowered his feet to the ground. “The sword of Praenan, First Son of Kranin, and the blade that has chosen the Emperor for the last eon. It lies, Malkoran.” Vertas shook his head.        

            “The words on the blade . . . they lie?” Kassius nodded. Vertas scoffed. “The delirious words of a dying man.”

            “The dying words of a god. You really think Kranin’s son could fall prey to such mortal afflictions?” Vertas turned away. “The Emperor must know. The people must know.” Vertas turned back.


            “You would have them stay in the dark? Continue living a lie? Worshipping a-”

            A shockwave blossomed out from Vertas. Pillar after pillar of book was toppled, thrashed against the walls, throwing pieces of parchment. Kassius stumbled away, tripping to the floor.


          Another wave pulsed out of Vertas. The man lifted into the air, red and purple motes of light swirling like a swarm of fireflies in his skin. Lightning arced out of his body, a luminescent black mist pooling at his feet, streaming from his eyes. Light shone from his pupils, then was snuffed out by a rolling tide of black, replaced by a sickly green glow. Heat waves accompanied the pulses, hellish tongues of fire and dripping, blazing spheres of molten magma coming into being in the heated air.

The fire twirled dangerously around him as frost surged outwards, supercooling everything as it went. Bubbles of water formed in the air, suspended by unseen forces, then froze, fell, and shattered. The plants in the room grew rapidly, turning into vast jungles there in the study, and then withered and died, the wilted petals falling just to freeze on the icy wood. Another pulse. The whole room shook, and the Atlas rocks on the ceiling lost their lift, showering to the ashwood floor, some splitting when they hit, their light fading as blue energy leaked from the cracks.

          Kassius’ head stung as images flashed before him. A pair of green eyes, piercing his heart with their gaze. Horrible sights, things that had never happened, but were like memories recalled. His family burning in a fire, though they were all dead of old age long ago.

          His apprentice glided towards him, the elements dancing around him in an arcane display of pure power and destruction. Kassius’ staff, leaning in a corner, shattered, the splinters of it joining the typhoon around him. Wind swirled in a hurricane around Malkoran, lifting up bits and baubles, pages and books, things and other things, salves and potions, spinning them around the room at lethal speeds. Kassius gasped for breath – both for lack of oxygen and because he was stunned. This was an elemental display like none he’d ever seen before. The room was cold, the wood below him freezing. The air was thin, all of it joining the hurricane around his apprentice.  

Vertas’ skin was red-hot, like a fire burned beneath his skin, hotter than any fire in the hells. The dirt and dust in the room was lifted, some clouds of the stuff lingering still in the air, others joining the whirlwind in the room.

            “Malkoran-!” Kassius called to his dear boy. No answer came – no vocal one, at least. A bolt of sparkling ice shot from a suddenly outstretched arm towards Kassius. He held up a ward. The ice exploded against the invisible barrier and its lightning fizzled against it, dispersing across its length. “My boy, what-”

            A table lifted from the corner and shot towards him, splintering on impact, the two halves of the thing landing in a heap behind him. The Atlas gems in the room were lifted, and began swirling with the hurricane around Vertas.

            That hurricane turned on Kassius.

            The old wizard flew back into the wall, his ward shattered as the swarm of objects crashed into him and exploded into all corners of the room, ricocheting back with the same force they struck with. Desperate, Kassius groaned and threw a bolt of arcane light towards his beloved boy. Vertas swiped it away with a powerful ward.

            Kassius launched another. It raced toward his apprentice, impacted his ward-

-And then returned to him.

            The bolt of pure arcana came back with incredible speed and pierced Kassius through the sternum. The light burned through his beard, his cloak, his undergarments, his skin, his muscle, his bone, his organs, his spine, the wall, the rock and stone, the tall walls of Fort Lore, and out into the forests on the countryside.

            His skin boiled. Smoke and steam lifted from the hole in his chest, sparks of arcane residue dancing on the wound. Blood, already cool enough to run freely, began leaking through the gaps in the cauterization. Kassius coughed – a wet, heavy, immensely painful cough – blood spurting out onto his robes. He took in a shaky breath, losing most of the air, his lungs breached.

            “They . . . they must know, my boy . . .” he managed to rasp.

            “That is not His plan,”   Vertas replied, and then exploded in a ball of arcane flame, vaporizing the study and leveling the first of five spires in Fort Lore, sending debris, ash, and burnt bits of parchment crashing to the earth below. 



Thanks, and again, please excuse any and all formatting errors. The forums are notoriously unfriendly to pasting from Word.

On May 9, 2011, HolyGhost said...



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