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
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.