Dragon Stone: Key Master

The three Key Masters convened an hour before the summons of the Assassins Guild Master, Lord Cresswell.

“Jeremiah, have you learned anything about the crow prophecy?” The Amanuensis added flame to candles on a large table inside the Vault’s antechamber.

“The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends and where the other begins?”

Edgar Allan Poe

“Everything is determined by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.”

Albert Einstein

This is another short story for this months

BLOGBATTLE prompt word Unaware

Dragon Stone: Key Master

As Flynne descended deeper into the Vault, the air grew still. Illumination flared as she moved into the Hall of Records. Why, after centuries, these came on remained a mystery. Elder relics were now taboo ever since the release of the crow, and the ensuing war left the landscape derelict. She was searching for something. Notes, left by The Amanuensis. A rumoured historical record hidden by the then Arch Mage, Eldred Mortain.

So many names were listed in the historical archives depicting selfless bravery and sacrifice as they tried to prevent a necromage defiling time on all worlds. Even now, success defined by the victors did nothing to sate the enquiring mind of an elven thaumic archaeologist. Never had she seen written what happened. That he did not succeed was clear. They were here, and as far as the world knew, the mage was not. In her opinion, this did not mean he was dead.

All archives now existed in redacted status. All references were obliterated. History said this was dangerous. A fool’s errand to hide in the sand, not knowing whether the past would repeat itself.

This was why she searched the Keep’s vaults. If Mortain hid anything, it would be deep in the unexplored archives he was once a key master for. What she sought were the fabled ‘Letters of the Amanuensis.’

Written, so she believed, during his interment in a conjurer’s bubble, locked deep in the future. A record of each day, which wound in circles until the answers appeared, and another elf helped to unlock the prison of ice.

Six levels down, and three months of careful searching, finally revealed the manuscript. Not hidden, as expected, but reverently placed on a lectern, as if waiting to be read by an audience of ghosts. She suspected the literary purge was not Mortain’s idea and that this was his way of ensuring, if the darkness ever returned, something remained to guide those in the future.

As she approached, a spectral image appeared. From where was unclear. It was an elderly man, dressed in the robes of an Arch Mage. As she tried to walk around him, he turned to face her. It was unsettling. Her back was now turned against the lectern. Wary, she chose to approach the manuscript. To read it meant taking it to one of the marble tables lining the room. Each had stone benches. From where she stood, this must have once been a lecture theatre. This an indication that, in the times of the Elder Mages, access was, more or less, unrestricted and not dependent on Key Masters. It raised a curious question, when and why had the Guild Masters decided to keep it hidden?

Putting that aside, she took the book. Despite its age, there seemed to be little deterioration. Flynne moved to one of the tables, where candles illuminated as she approached. Elder magic is still functional after millennia. Did no Key Master ever wonder why? Sitting, she turned the first page. The ghost of the Arch Mage coughed before taking his place behind the lectern. Placing his hands onto the sides, he began to speak.

“If you have found this manuscript, then heed its content. The bravery of the Amanuensis knew no bounds. Never has it been the intention to comply with the stupidity of those wishing to hide the past. It was a taboo on the subject of necromancy and avarice for Elder relics by certain Guilds, which led to the release of a creature imprisoned before our blip in history even spawned. Upon the death of our most senior Keeper of the Time Library, these documents were discovered in a chest. They speak of his imprisonment in a conjurer’s bubble created by Key Masters knowing the prophecy of the crow. A deliberate act to try and save all worlds from darkness not seen since the vanishing of the Elder Mages themselves.

For those unaware of such magics, life in a bubble exists in a temporal loop, which can be physically reset, or occurs at the stroke of midnight. All knowledge learnt is erased, as is all that came before the sorcery was conjured. The one skill our chosen Key Master had was powerful. It enabled him to commune in space and time. Made stronger by another sorceress known by him as Yish of the High Elf Caucus.

It was our design that he would eventually solve the puzzle, which might alter events and prevent the fall of the Keep, and turn all worlds to darkness. That you are now here implies this was successful. If you live in a world of peace, then know the sacrifices lost in time made this possible. For this alone, I have lodged these manuscripts here until a like-minded acolyte seeks them out.

What you sit before is a collection of letters and extracts that he wrote at each turn of the wheel. Daily writings, he used to recall what was learnt the day before. How long this took, only the Amanuensis will ever know. Time in a bubble is suspended, existing deep in the future, and no longer part of any temporal continuum.

Some texts were unreadable or contained material deemed too graphic for an eventual public record. Those were redacted or skipped. These I have indicated on the parchment.

I feel these are an incomplete collection. No Key Master ever found out why. The reason was taken to the grave by our great friend, the Amanuensis.

Once you have completed your reading, place the manuscript back on this lectern, so future explorers can witness a moment in history that changed the past, making the future you now hold dear.

For now, I shall depart. For reference, my name is Eldred Mortain. I, along with the Scribe, Jeremiah Delalande, named the Amanuensis as High Sorcerer as a posthumous mark of respect—one whose name should never be forgotten.

Neither should the bravery of Lord Cresswell of the Assassins Guild. Without whom, the direction to follow would not have been found. May they all rest in peace.”

As Flynne watched, the former Arch Mage faded. His words lingered in her mind as she opened the manuscript.

Dragon Stone: The Vault

The Elder mages left many relics in their passing. The largest of which is the Vault
The three Key Masters convened an hour before the summons of the Assassins Guild Master, Lord Cresswell.

11 thoughts on “Dragon Stone: Key Master

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  1. What a magical place this seems to be. Browsing three-months-worth of books. Sounds heavenly but also very tedious. Flynn must have been sneezing a lot with all of that dust. Ooooor, if the lights still come on, maybe there is a custodian of sorts that keeps everything tip-top, ready for explorers to enter?

    The ‘ghost’ made me think of a hologram and made the tale a bit futuristic for me. A combination of fantasy and sci-fi, which I believe is your preferred style.

    Great intro to the diaries and future tales.

    1. Thanks, Sam. It’s a mere novelette this Letters one, but it produced a twist in this month’s post. Flynne is new, well was, but then it’s relative as DS now has a much bigger cast than first imagined. Which is up at 72K now and not too far from completion.

      The custodian aspect has actually been discussed among the Key Masters too. They seem to also be wondering why the Vault runs seamlessly.

      The ghost is a form of hologram yes. But wrt futuristic, not intended as sci-fi. This piece is a long way in the timeline. The original cast, as it were, are long expired. The Arch Mage set this up knowing the follies of the past would make the subject of Necromancy taboo again… but if you read the next one it might seem like more of a deliberate plot.

  2. Oooh I read this in the novelette, and was captivated by the whole landscape being laid out before me.
    There’s a very strong atmosphere setting the scene for a myriad of tales, the phrase “If you live in a world of peace, then know the sacrifices lost in time made this possible.” invokes the ideas of all manner of legends and tale.
    Is it accurate to say Flynne is part of the future following Yish or is Time not as the narrative suggests linear.
    This idea of naming a protagonist The Crow is another evocative piece, crows generally associated in our folk memories with ill-omen.
    Must get back to my beta-read.

    1. I see you have indeed read some or all of it, Roger. Those extracts came from either an A to Z challenge here or BB. Most from the former, where the world builds concept came into being. As did the Amanuensis, who originally was just a throw-in acting as an interviewer for my book characters. Strange thing this writing.

      Flynne is long in the future. Not sure if she’s related to Yish yet. Part-time is linear, so everyone in DS is long gone, although Yish and Naz could easily be around. She will feature in Return of the Crow once DS and Prison of Ice are wrapped up. The Crow thing again was accidental, and in DS where Cresswell (Assassin Guild Master) unearths what he called The Prophecy of the Crow. It stuck ever since then. But you’re right re the connections to folklore and ill omens. That part, I realised, post-event, as it were.

      You’ll have to email your thoughts on the novelette. I’m likely going to add a bit more to that to take her into a scene that approximates her book start.

      Thanks for another well thought out comment too 🙂

      1. I’m reading the novella slowly Gary as being still unfamiliar with the realm I don’t want to miss anything. Although some of the names and circumstances are striking chords.
        This is a fascinating, unsettling place, this collection of realms and folk where Time is certain nowhere linear.
        Keep on it.

        1. The best way, Roger, and no rush. When I review a document with all of it in one place, I find fast reading misses too much.

          The time thing I find fascinating. In the current WIP, Arch Mage, Amanuensis and Delalande have a few discussions about what constitutes a parody. If you ever want a heads up on DS, the Dragon Stone Originalis parts are integrated. It is where The Black first appears

  3. Woo-hoo! It worked this time! An ending like that seems to suggest a part two for next month? The appearance of the ‘ghost’ was certainly intriguing, and he did identify himself that way. I did wonder if this appearance was more of a reflection – a spell he arranged so that a specter of himself would be able to instruct explorers like Flynne. Your mention that she was an elven thaumic archaelologist immediately made me wonder if she had any association with Yish. And the comment about not knowing whether or not the past would repeat itself seemed ominous, considering it often does. Quite a new wrinkle!

    1. Odd you say that, as it’s the first part of a novelette called Letters of the Amanuensis. Set way in the future. In fact, I was looking for beta readers, and Roger has it.

      The ending there is set up to create The Return of the Crow. Once I’ve finished Dragon Stone, that is. I’m at 50K there, and I reckon it’s got maybe 4 more chapters. What you see here is the Arch Mage as a form of ghost, yes. Flynne is part of the Guild Yish, and her legacy inspired Flynne to learn more. The location requires a gifted sorceress to find as, once again, the subject is taboo. I’ve not got her genealogy yet, so maybe her ancestry could link to Yish.

      The “ghost” is pretty much what you said, but it’s also a twist set-up. A second prophecy begins to unfold when someone finds the Letters and book.

      The Letters novelette is basically a side-line with all the extracts from his Prison of Ice (Book 2 of DS) that have appeared in some BB stories.

      I may well try another follow up, but have to get a bat into it 😂

      1. Ah, with all the timey-wimey elements in Dragon Stone, I wasn’t sure what point in time Flynne was actually from. So is the Crow more of a sequel than a side story?

        1. The crow is a term used in the prophecy and refers to a necromage who is the main antagonist. As for the time bit even I get lost haha. The Return of the Crow implies the best outcome is to trap him again but I’ve not written that far yet so who knows! Remember most BB stuff is backstory world build so what’s inside the actual books is pretty new. That said with the back story in place it’s way easier to write, if I can remember what’s in it 🤔

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