“Legends are ubiquitous. They represent ages past, lost civilisations, heavenly battles, religious culture and lie at the heart of morality.” Jeremiah Delalande, Lecture on Philosophy of Lore.
There was more, but it was fading like some echo lost in the wind. Soft lights were drawing the darkness back. Not so bright her eyes couldn’t adapt. More gentle, akin to a dimmer switch starting low then moving toward full illumination.
It took time before Rose could make out she was standing in a circular room with a towering ceiling and a spiral stair that wrapped round the walls until it disappeared into another unseen level. Where the lights were she couldn’t tell. There were no bulbs, or fixtures. Simply dark then not so dark heading toward full sun.
Still staring upwards, she drew breath. Not quite so scary outside the nothing where doors slammed and demented screams lay beneath a box covered in dirt. Dreams being dreams even that was fading now. Belonged to another vision that has moved on. In the centre of the room a solitary figure emerged from the receding darkness.
“Rebecca?” A half question. Why it was the obvious choice Rose had no idea.
The girl turned. Not the mighty dragon rider here thank you very much. This was just a teenager with eyes that looked ancient and drawn; exhausted.
“What took you so long?” There was a tired sadness in her words and a face that stared straight into Roses eyes.
“I’m not certain I know what you mean.”
“Three decades I’ve waited here for you, locked in this dreamscape. Unable to escape. Where the hell have you been?”
Rose dropped her gaze. Three decades? But you don’t look a day over 15. “But you are the dragon rider I’ve known since childhood. This is just a dream. I don’t understand.”
She watched Rebecca clench her fists before swinging her arms and pointing to the walls. “Out there yes. Out there I don’t remember. Out there I am The Dragon Rider. Out there I see many worlds and belong to none.”
Extract from “Letters of The Amanuensis – Ancient lore.”
“Lores, myths, legends or whatever races decide to call them all have origins somewhere. Whispers in time alter these continuously. As a fisherman enlarges the one that got away, so too does each chronicler handing down a tale.
Before writing this was handed down in fireside tales. Heroism and fables to entertain and teach. Early manuscripts bastardised to create further myths and Gods. Beware teachings with no provenance.”
So went the introduction to Prophets and Foresight. Delalande had a way of cutting to the chase, a profound scepticism of myths as they appeared to him and a firm belief most were based on hyperbolic fact. Earth Lore fascinated him. Not least because Dökkálfar and Ljósálfar existed in other worlds, but so too did many of their mythical legends.
Jeremiah Delalande. The name rotated around the Amanuensis. He stared once more at the candles. It fascinated him because many were real, taken from other places and turned into fantasy, myths or Gods because that world worked differently. The unexplained become figments of some story-teller or monk. Embellished then time moves it ever into the psyche of culture. His favourite…
Ziu or Tyr, the divine jurist and the binding of Fenrir, the fen hound, father of wolves and son of Loki destined to kill Odin in Ragnarök, but undone by the offspring of that God.
“The Gods feared the wolf cub grown to fast and large. Prophecy told he would consume them. In response they tried to bind the hound in fetters by deceit. Upon seeing the mighty chain that was to be used the beast grew wary. It claimed consent would be given if one of the Gods placed an arm into its maw. Of those present only Ziu or Tyr was brave. Once chained the wolf bit his arm off after realising he was deceived.
What does this old Earth myth mean?”
The Amanuensis remembered Delalande pacing back and forth in front of a lectern. Behind that was a tapestry depicting the Sorcerers Hill at Ang Nafud. From it fire spewed from Magi surrounded by orc hordes. It represented the end of olde ways and the birth of The Keep.
At the time of this lecture, one he’d heard many times, he stood by Yish on a balcony overlooking the neophytes. A longing dipped into his mind. She was holding his hand. Why had he forgotten this?
A young elf raised her hand. “That is the story of The Grey Wolf and the Sorcerer Tyrthian Ziumenore. It was about the taming of a beast that hunted children. Rather than destroy the Wolf Tythian used charms to bring it to him. The story says they talked for twenty days until the wolf agreed to be chained and brought through the Realm. This was to show that he now knew better and wasn’t inherently evil. By return the sorceror walked through the forests to wolf packs with his arm in the jaws of the Grey Wolf. Thereafter, elf and forest dwellers lived in harmony.”
Yish had squeezed his hand tighter. She knew this elf child and had instructed her recruitment. Foresight and visions had been gifted there. History of mythology was her strong point.
Delalande had paused his pacing and turned to face her.
“Very good. And what became of the sorcerer?”
“He live deep in the forest for half a century and thereafter was never heard of again.”
“Do you not suppose the wolf ate him?”
“Never, they were inseparable, or so the story goes,”
“And nothing curious about the name?”
The Amanuensis knew this patter well. Eleven years it had drawn the opener to a series of lectures on philosophy of lore. He had listened as the child spoke what rested in his mind.
“The first three letters from his names are the same as the old Earth myth about Fenrir.”
“Rather coincidental don’t you think?”
And so it went on. The crossing of worlds where strange deeds were taken as legend by those not understanding the elemental powers. Held in social memory and elaborated at each retelling. It was only later that each student would learn that crossing worlds was potentially destroying them. The tale of The Necromancer was left until last.
“Have you discovered the amulet?”
No, I just wanted to hear you once more.
“I know. Parting was not on good terms and I regret much.”
I need to know. Did I turn toward darker lore?
“You has an unhealthy fascination about its history.”
Was it leading somewhere that caused this chaos?
“I cannot believe that.”
“Don’t you know?”
My memories are uncertain. I feel things were close.
“More than close.”
Then why did we part?
“Remember the young Elf girl?”
“She had the gift. It told of the fall of The Keep.”
So you left?
“I had to, you refused to understand that.”
“I was with child. If I stayed both of us would have perished.”
With child? Did I know that?
“I couldn’t tell you then.”
“You would have come too, I know you would.”
And that would have been wrong why?
“The Elf girl saw you in a prophecy. Surviving in an ice prison. The one to turn chaos into order. Restore the Keep.”
Existing in an ice prison was true. The reason why unclear. But restoring order and The Keep? From a Library he couldn’t even leave. Two possibilities that, despite Yish, he still felt unclear about. What caused the fall? Him falling to necromancy and thereby imprisoned under sentence or him being cast into a protection field because all else was failing.
“In front of you. The amulets can be anything. There will be two. One unlocks and the other destroys.”
And which is which?
“Trust your heart.”
He sat in the chair before his desk of scrolls and parchments.
Trust in your heart.
The candles continued to illuminate all in front of him. Unending light in his desk of everything and nothing. With child and he never knew.
Back to time again. Was he speaking to those long dead? Had his child birthed, grown old and passed on? Was Yish still alive somewhere? He knew Elves had longevity in years, but if he was now in the distant future what was left outside? Anything or total ghost worlds full of sand and dust. Ashes and chaos.
He looked up. Two candles, two amulets…
His eyes widened. In front of him the candles glowed. A scroll unfurled and be watched as words formed.
“Amanuensis, two burn. One unlocks, the other does not. If you have found the keys then you are reading this. The corridor leads to the moment all fell. How many waking cycles you have had matters not. Time in the bubble distorts. It is suspended.
If you have used it well then one will flicker each time the enemy drew close. That is not the choice. Cut below the true flame and time for you will start once more. Fail and you will wake at the start with all this turns memories erased.”
Arch Mage Eldred Mortain.”
He closed his eyes. That the candles flickered each time The Necromancer communed was in no doubt. Noticing it was only one had not registered. Which was it? Left or right?
A small blade now rested on top of the Arch Mage’s scroll.
Time would restart, he would pass back in time to the point he was removed. What did he know now that nobody had back then?
The Vault. That was where he needed to be. The prison told him failure was outside now. Trust your heart we’re the words of Yish. He closed his eyes and took his mind back to the candles.
When he re-opened them he already had the blade in hand. Without pausing he reached forwards, decision made…
Rose remembered screaming as the brightness engulfed her. The point of no return. Too late to change your mind, made another mistake, actually I don’t want to die like this.
The pain was not so bad, although her head really ached like someone was hammering her temples and sticking a hot needle up through the base of her skull.
Not so bad is relative she decided. Josh had been worse. Although if some states of mind were to be believed he was having a bad time of his own right now. The sort of bad thing where time actually had caught him up and said “Now my boy, time for us to kick your ass for a change.”
That was a pretty good thought as it happened. As was having two kids and finding out somebody actually thought she was pretty. Not that terrible really after all.
Shame she’d taken the door her imaginary, or maybe real, friend had said was death. The one she knew folk went through and never came back. Or, maybe they went through to some place else and couldn’t come back?
Rebecca wouldn’t know that would she? All she would know is being abandoned and left behind with the fear that this way was bad, very, very bad. Somewhere to be shunned. Then she found the middle door and that was that. Tower cracked and broken as her mind slowly moved into another place leaving the real world behind.
Except for a few odd moments when she had called out for help. Rose clung to that. Maybe it’s not a bad place this one. Then the darkness began taking hold and her mind slipped away.
“Not so bad after all, really….quite…restful…”
And that was that.
A good place to end Rose with. And that was that… the end of the A to Z challenge.
For me a fascinating troll back through my manuscripts via the eyes of a new character that grew from nothing as “A” started. Maybe that should have begun with Amanuensis rather than Ade.
I have to admit I had reservations beginning this due to time. As the Scribe grew so did the amount spent creating the posts. If nothing else it has been a public version of character creation and pantsing as something evolves.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.
Edgar Allan Poe
As always, feel free to pass judgement in the comments section. All words are welcome.