The Eleventh Tome - Chapter II by Tim Law at Spillwords.com

The Eleventh Tome – Chapter II

The Prophecies of Andrapaal

The Eleventh Tome

Chapter II

written by: Tim Law

 

Year 513 of the Kingdom of Thuraen

Fredrickson the Third is King

Vladimir the Young is Chief Sage

 

The Kingdom of Thuraen officially followed the Path of Truth. It began from Andrapaal at its heart and then stretched like two long arms, eleven days east and eleven days west. Cities like Eaglehaven and Secondtun existed where the Stream of Knowingness passed nearby, and the port town of Hundred-Rainbow stood proudly upon the cliffs of Ravenest where the coast cut sharply inland, the large town named after the schools of coloured fish that gathered in the waters below each spring to give birth to the next generation. Where cities or largely populated townships did not exist, there were smaller villages and farming communities. The sages had advised the ruling kings as the kingdom took shape that between each day’s traveling there needed to be a Tower of Knowledge. This was a branch of the Knowledge Tree, erected to make certain that the kingdom’s history, and more importantly all truth could be recorded and passed along the branches to spread across the kingdom. Regularly the red-robed sages traveled long distances to transfer scrolls of holy knowledge from one tower to the next to transcribe the kingdom’s official present. It was strongly believed that all things of the present helped to paint the complete and entire picture of the past. The influence of the kingdom’s past on it inevitable future made it utterly necessary that every word of the present was transcribed, shared, and then embraced.

Beyond the official boundaries of the Kingdom of Thuraen, was the land where humans had explored and then settled. Here, where the land was more fertile, the fish and other sources of food more plentiful, a large number of the population migrated. The sages refused to expand the boundaries of the kingdom beyond the officially recorded east and west travel emanating from the holy city Andrapaal. So these new pockets of human civilization grew without guidance from the sages, without officially recorded communication from their kindred, and without protection from the Truth Keepers.
For those who traveled due north and due south of Andrapaal these things were of little consequence. There was little to threaten their expansion as these ex-citizens settled from coast to coast perpendicular to the Kingdom of Thuraen. Wild animals more at risk from the explorers than an actual threat themselves learnt soon to keep away from the warrior men that lead these expeditions. As quickly as these communities formed they flourished. Regularly they sent merchants, citizens carrying foods and goods superior to anything produced by those tied to the Path of Truth. Merchants that sold superior goods were always welcomed, but were not always liked. Any gossip gleamed from the market place was then passed back to the people. These were the exotic merchants who graced Andrapaal with their ‘fresh’ fish and sweet fruits.

Those who braved the lands further west, beyond the tiny township of Fey-friend, were eventually met by the strange sylva communities. The influence of the fey folk upon the humans was a boon of sorts. These people became truly exotic, forced to adapt to the sylva way merely to understand such a dissimilar society. Quite quickly these people discovered they could no longer successfully interact with their kindred, and isolated themselves from the other humans to become a commune that lived upon the land, interacted freely with the Sylva race and embraced the Mother Spirit of the land as their new brothers and sisters did. Pairings between the two races were rare and were always childless.

Those who traveled further east to live and work were not quite so lucky. The desert was somewhere only a fool would claim as their own land. Beyond the flimsy line of farms that unofficially was classed as the border, the bloody battle between Vorsurk and human waged. The Truth Keepers were so caught up in the fighting they had no soldiers, nor time to spare in protecting individual settlements. These soldiers of truth appreciated any and all fresh food that the brave and patriotic souls could will the sandy land to give, for the rations sent from along the Path of Truth were rarely edible when they arrived, never able to be stored for long when they did arrive in decent condition. Anything grown from the desert was a culinary delight. Such treasures though were often raided by small parties of the Vorsurk horde, the humans were often captured and the farm always put to the torch. There was none spare to aid these farmers who vanished by the day, and yet such a harsh and dangerous place to live must have still been seen as attractive. The brave and foolish continued to arrive, in the name of the current king and Chief of the Sages to explore beyond the lands that were official protected, and to live out their cruel fate for a chance of fame and great rewards.

***

Echoing through the halls of the grand palace, two voices fought for supremacy. The battle of words began in the throne room, but the volume of the two combatants sent the heated argument beyond the closed, thick, oaken doors. Down the corridor, the two voices floated into the grand kitchen of the palace, where the fireplace sat idle with only a multitude of hot coals to give clue to its use.
“Make yerself look busy boy…” Martha the head kitchen hand said, with a mother duck like scowl, for Jim the newest apprentice. He, a stringy boy of little muscle, compared with her large frame and heavy hand, gave her little reason to ask him again. Taking up a rag, Jim began to prepare the silver for the royal midday meal. It was still a few hours away, but at this moment neither Jim nor Martha wanted to be away from their chores. Both wanting the other scarce, but accepting that this time such wondrous gossip would have to be shared. Although not rare, these arguments between the keepers of truth, the sages and the keeper of the kingdom, the king, were often missed by the palace staff due to the noisiness and busy nature of their day. The two figures, working quickly and quietly on their jobs, counted their blessings that for once a truth unwritten would be theirs to spread.

Oblivious to all this, in what he assumed was a private place, the ruler of the city of knowledge and all Common lands, was quietly discussing the finer points of ruling with one of Andrapaal’s many sages.
“Your Wisdom. I implore you! Hear me out,” King Fredrickson the Third pleaded. He was young for a ruler, just married with no heir yet and not one greyed whisker in his thick moustache and goatee. His gloved hands ran through his curly, short cropped black locks, in a clear sign of exasperation that seemed never the less, to be lost on his guest.
“Your Majesty, it is not I but you who are not listening. The Word speaks volumes. If only you would hear the examples it gives.” The sage Moosuf responded with cool calm, where the king seemed otherwise. The red robes of the sage hung loosely upon his thin frame. Blonde strands hung desperately at the sage’s temples but faded to nothing over the rest of his scalp. The sage gave the impression that he was too young to be old, but not young enough to completely escape the tile of middle aged. A thin smile accompanied his thin frame. Watery blue eyes looked pleadingly into the deep green, lively eyes of the king.
“But it is not you, not The Word, but I, who heard not once but thrice the same complaint in the Grand Hall today, not only today, but seemingly everyday. Hearing the peoples’ grievances are an important part of my role as leader of this fine city, but how often can one ask for a solution and receive nothing! A merchant was dealing in coins depicting the face of a so called god, yes, but does not the value of the coin be counted from the metals it is created from?”
The remarks of the young king hit home for a moment as his eyes met that of the sage’s in a cold stare. The moment the sage gave in though only lasted just that, a moment before the shields were up again and the battle continued.
“Yes your highness. A brother sage captured every word for me to read. The merchant has been dealt with. All faith in anything other than the Words of Truth is forbidden within our great city,” Moosuf replied, reciting from memory from one of the many tomes in the library.
Fredrickson’s hands fell from his head to the sides of his court finery.
“I am well aware of our laws,” replied the king. “Any person who signs into one of our many tomes, has their business recorded by one of the sages becomes a citizen of the kingdom of Thuraen.”
“Such words are truth spoken truly,” the sage replied solemnly. “This law was recorded by sage Williams of Oakenleaf in the early days of our kingdom. It was then declared by your own father, King Gregory the Red that any who record in the tomes their intention to travel beyond the borders of the kingdom cease to be citizens until their officially recorded return. Those who do not record their intention to leave the Kingdom of Thuraen, or those who leave against their will… Well it is then for the king to decide if they are a citizen or not.”
The king’s hands quietly clenched. Why did speaking with the sages always infuriate him so?
“Your highness this merchant demonstrated a faith in an outlawed deity… Wilhelm the Wise, Damon of the Southern Shore, many other men of the blue robes of wisdom have written of the punishments handed down by gallant kings for such a crime. I tell you without meaning for disrespect, that if you are contemplating going against the decisions of your ancestors and allowing this foreign coinage to flood our market places, Your Highness, you are out of your mind.” Moosuf added, the sage firm.
“Many occasions in the tomes of the past is it written that such a strategy has caused disruption in the markets of not just Andrapaal, but the whole of the kingdom,” the sage hastily added before Fredrickson could heatedly reply.
“I will speak with Vladimir. Call him in. I will remain impatiently awaiting his arrival…” King Fredrickson of Andrapaal said coolly as he exhaled the deep breath he had hoped would stall his temper.
“As you wish, Your Highness.” The red-robed sage finished, bowing from his shoulders before swiveling on the spot and swiftly leaving the room.

As the sage Moosuf raced past the kitchen, the fireplace blazed brightly and loudly, and the silver shone. Rushing by, the Knowledge Speaker did not see that the strangely clean kitchen, was also unusually empty.

“Is it left here?” Raven enquired of his companion as they came to the end of another of the similarly looking streets of mercantile Andrapaal.
“I think so,” Paechra responded with more certainty than her statement suggested. She took the lead and initiative as she, without hesitation took her own advice. It had been the first thing the girl had said since the sage had spoken with them, causing Raven slight concern. Unsure how to deal with this silence he had never received from his traveling companion, Raven had tried to coax Paechra into speaking and then tried being silent himself. Now out of the blue the sylva girl had become her normal sprightly self again. Shaking his head in disbelief the Truth Keeper had to hurry in order to keep pace. A soft far off “ding” of a hammer on metal, told the two that they were following the directions given them by the master Truth Keeper perfectly.
“See?” Paechra murmured with a sweet smile.
Raven responded with a tight lipped nod.
With the sound of a busy forge to guide them, the two travelers hustled along the cobbled streets between that junction and the door of their host.

The sweat drenched smith, bursting from his leathers, dropped his mallet and left to cool the half completed work, when Paechra and Raven paused with curiosity before his forge.
“Here at last!” he cried out with joy and, ignoring Raven’s offered hand, clasped the Truth Keeper in a bear’s embrace, that despite Raven’s armored torso was still able to knock the wind from him.
“You must be Gregory the blacksmith,” the Truth Keeper groaned. “The sage Vladimir has spoken highly of you,” He added weakly as the giant released him and attacked the two new arrivals with another beaming smile, this one accompanied with cheeks growing rosy.
“No! Seriously? The sage Vladimir? He said that? Are you repeating him word for word?” Gregory beamed with simple pride. “But where are my manners? You have traveled far and braved the maze of our fine city streets and, as the tomes of the past teach us, a good host knows when silence is a treasure worth more than gold and a bed like the finest summer day. Welcome to my home,” he continued, throwing his beefy tree trunk arms towards the back of the forge in a gesture of greeting. With that, he strode on leaving Paechra and Raven in his wake. Paechra raised both slender eyebrows and followed without a word. Seemingly without a choice, Raven followed suit, noticing with a touch of surprise the beginnings of a long blade forming upon the forge’s anvil.
“Not much to see, but I happily call it home,” Gregory explained as his two guests looked over the area at the back of the forge that they were to call home.
“It will be perfect,” Paechra kindly stated.
“The place will truly be perfect, Gregory,” Raven echoed.
“Thank you for understanding, gracious lady, Truth Keeper Raven.” replied Gregory the blacksmith, giving the pair a bow.

Without knocking, the blue-robed Chief Sage slipped into the throne room unannounced catching king Fredrickson unawares.
“You wanted to speak with me, Your Highness?” Vladimir asked graciously.
Without showing his surprise, the young king looked up at the new arrival and smiled.
“Shall we resume to our usual battle ground, my friend?” King Fredrickson asked of the silver-sashed Chief Sage, motioning towards the single door that led to his personal chambers. Both recent arrivals to their important positions in the Kingdom of Thuraen, King Fredrickson felt he had a close connection to the chief sage. Even if they had not had this link to share, the time they spent together in what the young king liked to think of as debate, was more than sufficient for him to consider Vladimir his friend, in a place where almost everyone were his servant and almost no one his equal.
“Of course Fredrickson, I am amazed you thought you needed to offer. I take it your young wife is well?” Vladimir asked as he gracefully moved across the throne room to the suggested doorway. A servant manning the door already had it partially ajar, as king and chief sage reached the portal about the same time. As the two important men entered, the servant closed the door behind them and remained waiting in the throne-room, a servant’s second sense warning him when his services were next required.
Beyond the simple single door, identical to the other polished oaken doors of the palace and library, were the living quarters of the royal family. It was unlike the quarters of the sages, which were simple and office-like, designed to be lived in and to assist the sage that was busy keeping pace with the history that was being made each and every moment. The chambers of King Fredrickson and his wife were furnished in a far richer style.
In the middle of this first room, a two-seater couch proudly displayed fabric in the rich velvet dark green color of the royal family, reflective of the oak leaves in summer that stood guard over the Valley of History. The arms were carved to resemble a hand holding a quill, and all along the varnished oak frame ran runes from an age beyond the knowledge of even the chief sage, let alone the illiterate king. On one side of the couch there was a short but lovingly carved stand of the same varnished oak, shaped like a vine climbing from the floor to a small diamond-shaped platform, upon which reared a statue of a dragon carved from a large ruby. This couch was where the young king would entertain individuals, usually his vassals that had come to speak with him on matters of economics and trade, or to the king’s annoyance, on matters of war and the skirmishes between the common kind and the Vorsurk beasts upon the kingdom’s border. Beyond this was a simple oval oak table about which stood six chairs cushioned in the same deep green.
“Shall we, Your Wisdom..?” the young king suggested with a friendly smile and a host’s sweeping hand that indicated the table and its six chairs.
“If you insist… your highness.” murmured Vladimir, his elder frame moving still quite freely to one of the six.
Eagerly the young king took the seat opposite, so he was able to face his visitor with the table between them.
With a crisp clap, the young king summoned a page, the fawn headed boy appearing from a simplistic arch cut in the room’s wall leading from the fore chamber to a small meals area and then on to the lavish bedroom and sewing room.
“Please supply us with two goblets from the gift Lord Alexander gave us…” the young king began.
“That will not be necessary Your Highness. Simple water from a goblet will suit me fine,” the sage pleaded.
“Nonsense my friend… I will accept naught less than fine wine, fine company and a game. Our business can wait. Friends should spend more time at peace and less time at war. I say perhaps you should write that down as a historic quote,” the young king replied with a laugh, brushing away with his tone, the distraught look on Vladimir’s face.
As the page silently brought in a laded tray, the chief sage quietly groaned.
“We shall play the game of Kingdom of Thuraen, of course?” the young king asked, leaving the question hanging, as he smiled boyishly towards the old sage and offered a very full silver goblet of fine red wine.
“Of course, Your Highness…” Vladimir just had the time to say, as the young king began dealing the first of eleven cards. Beautifully crafted and intricately detailed, the sage noted as he always did when the young king’s pack of cards emerged that although the pictures were so breathtaking, they lacked the beauty of the words that graced these same cards in packs owned and played with by him and his brother sages.
As he drew up his hand, Vladimir noticed the fool card. It sat between the blacksmith card and that of the king card.
‘If I can manipulate one with such great ease, what in the name of truth is preventing my having the other on a string?…’ Vladimir thought to himself, his mind upon things other than the game at hand.
“See if you can beat me…” the young king urged, bringing Vladimir back to the room.
The sage looked at the Truth Keeper card placed in the middle of the table in front of King Fredrickson and smiled a forced but pleasant smile.
“With great pleasure, Your Majesty…” Vladimir murmured as his fingers hovered over the blacksmith card and then selected the fool. Life was rarely like the card game it was meant to be reflected by but occasionally, just occasionally there was an ironic moment.
‘This fool of the royal family cannot be befriended…’ Vladimir thought as he threw his king card down and watched with great satisfaction as Fredrickson’s sage card claimed it. ‘He will have to be claimed…’
The sage sipped his wine as he threw down another and another of the picture cards. Half the sage’s mind noted the facial expressions of the ruler opposite him, as both players challenged each other; the sage’s remaining thoughts however were far from the game at hand. The twisted mind that remained was focused upon the morrow and a little forge he would have to visit.

Paechra sat cross-legged near the fire beside Raven, who was staring into the flickering flames, deep in thought. She waited a moment for him to see her before she started to speak.
“So for how long were you away from Andrapaal? I was under the impression from my father, that Truth Keepers always accompanied a sage on Truth or the Word business unless they were sent to war.”
The crackling fire in the hearth filled the silence, as Raven turned away from his companion. Near by at the front of the blacksmith’s simple residency, the two guests could hear their host begin to pound once more upon his current work.
“Well…” Paechra added, pushing just a little harder.
“I’d rather not speak about it.” Raven answered moodily.
Paechra frowned and asked again, “A time frame will not force you to reveal that dark secret you so obviously are trying to hide… How long has it been since you have been apart from the happiness you obviously get from being within these strange walls?”
“These walls are not strange!” Raven snapped, twisting furiously to face Paechra again. The look in his eyes caused the young Sylva to step back and a look of fear to cross over her beautiful sculptured features. Instantly the Truth Keeper’s frightful look softened to one of misery.
“These walls are not strange. They just no longer feel like home,” Raven tried to explain. Still a little fearful Paechra did her best to listen and understand. “And anyway…” Raven continued, suddenly using an accusing tone, “Why should I tell you my story when you kept a secret from me! Something so important, something that could have been and should have been so pivotal to our relationship…”
“Hi I’m Paechra. I am the daughter of Therdous Lightheart, the only sylva sage of the city of Andrapaal. If I had begun our first meeting with that, just how may have you reacted?! Just how would have you treated me?” Paechra asked, rising up from her seat by the fire to look down upon the Truth Keeper and stare him straight in the eye.
“Like a princess.” Raven answered honestly and with great reverence.
“Exactly!” the Sylva maiden shot back, sitting down again with a dramatic huff.
Raven sat then in surprised silence, unsure what it was he had so incorrectly said and even more unsure of what it was he should be saying next.
Listening to every word between hammer blows, Gregory the blacksmith smiled at the frosty silence. It seemed that the girl with the strange ears was not going to be staying long. She had family in the city it seemed and her attachment to the Truth Keeper called Raven, was going to break any day now.
‘Maybe a tour of the city would show Raven he still belonged to Andrapaal.’ Gregory thought as he raised his hammer again. Vladimir the chief of all the sages had made it his quest and his alone to bring back Raven to the path of truth. Not that the Truth Keeper had strayed far. He just needed a reminder that a Truth Keeper’s role was to guard the sages and that way to preserve the holy truth. It seemed to the blacksmith; both his blades and his quest were coming along nicely.

High above all this, sharing the same night, two sages stood together in Vladimir’s office surrounded by half-written scrolls, tomes marked with silk ribbons of blue, grey and green and a small burning fire that gave gentle but effective heat to the small room, that even in summer was still too cool by night for the elder sage to sleep. The Chief Sage himself had been joined by the poor red-robed sage with whom King Fredrickson had spoken that morning, an argument that by now had graced the ears of nearly all the citizens of Andrapaal’s markets and slums.
“That, Moosuf, is how royalty is dealt with,” Vladimir, chief sage said with well-rehearsed arrogance. “In the war of words it is best to carry the sharpest tongue.” He added for good measure.
“Of course, Your Wisdom. I am sorry that I required your services in such a simple task,” the red-robed sage replied with his head bowed.
“Next time clear your head of anything but thoughts of the great tomes. Use the knowledge of the past, known truths to state your case. Think the truth, speak the truth. Only true thoughts can produce true words. What truer thoughts can there be but those written by your brother sages. You can read. It is your birthright, such power as this. The young king cannot read. He is only of royal blood. You Moosuf, on the other hand are of royal mind,” Vladimir added feverishly, his elderly hands rising up to emphasize the importance of his point.
“You are right as always master,” the sage dressed in red replied, like a scolded child.
Vladimir, certain that none of what he was saying was actually taking effect, dismissed the knowledge speaker, sending him off to one of the branches of the tree of knowledge to learn some of the wisdom of history, before he next spoke with the young king.
As the sage bowed and left his presence, Vladimir reflected upon the fact that none of it really mattered. In a few days it would all change. The sages would change, the people would change. The whole system would change for the better. He would rule totally the Kingdom of Thuraen. What could be better than that?
Subconsciously Vladimir reached out towards the small shelf upon which a multitude of tomes were housed. An instant before he clasped the black-bound leather book, Vladimir realized just where it was he was reaching. His hand, controlled again by him slapped suddenly back to his side. It occurred to the sage then that perhaps the nameless book would come in handy. This time of his own will, Vladimir reached towards the bookshelf again.

Before he knew it, the nameless tome felt heavy in Vladimir’s hands. It was a large leather-bound book of probably as many years as the few thousand pages it consisted of. The most high of the sages of Andrapaal thought momentarily of how little his fellow sages knew of the true power of words.
‘Speak them!’ the tome willed. “Speak the words!’ it continued with urgency.
Vladimir the sage opened the heavy volume and, he thought, by luck the pages revealed the very magic he sought. Running one bony finger along the contours of his doorway as the book instructed Vladimir mumbled in order and tune, the runes that the tome listed, as vital if the magic was to work.
‘Lim, ash, tot, far. Lim, ash, tot, far.’ The black-bound volume willed. Vladimir sang in quiet repetition the words aloud, servant to the power the pages held. The sage’s eyes flashed silver like running mercury and then Vladimir’s finger burned with a dark, cold blue flame. Where the finger drew flame about the locks that had been humanly secured, the blue tongues remained dancing as if in a light breeze. Once the old sage completed his tracing of the pentacle of mechanisms, the flames spread hungrily firstly from lock to lock and then across from corner to corner, in a single blink covering the oak portal completely. Vladimir’s usually clear wizened eyes flashed with the same blue flame that burned without consuming across his doorway. In that exact instant the old man fell to one knee, his robe bunching as his hands felt for his heart. The black-bound volume dropped from his arms as he fell. It landed with a muffled lifeless thud, unattended on the floor as the magic cast by Vladimir sucked hungrily at its caster. Through clenched teeth, the flame orbed sage sang the incantation through for the eleventh time. The pages of the tome fluttered in the draftless room and the book snapped shut. Vladimir shook his head to clear it and breathing heavily used the remainder of his strength to rise to his feet. Shuffling like the older man that the magic had made him, Vladimir crossed the room to leave the closed book exactly where it lay. Sitting for a moment at his desk, the old sage breathed deep breaths. He would need all his strength returned before he attempted to open the book again. Addicted and relying completely upon the power contained between the leather-bound cover, the old sage hoped that his heart steadied soon. He had a captive to see to and the hold on his door would not last all night, lately it seemed he was lucky if it saw out the next hour.

With the dark-covered tome in his ancient hands once more Vladimir eased open the hefty book and selected the second, and last, arcane verse he was to perform that night.

As the last sound left the sage’s lips, he felt the tingle begin in his toes again and work its way up through his body. Bathed in the same eerie blue flame that guarded his portal, the sage began to sink into the stone floor.

Under the cover of a moonless night, Thurzuk the Vorsurk warrior watched for the return of his scouts. He had felt the power of the tome again, and he shivered gleefully with the knowledge that his master’s plan was still working well. It had been a great risk of Jaerakon to entrust his powerful book of spells to a worthless human named Morthos for seemingly little gain. For so many years the wise Vorsurk wizard had suffered at the hands of his peers for what seemed to be a foolish mistake. For so many years Thurzuk had seen the powerful Jaerakon fade; his physical strength whittled away by curses and worry, his mental prowess degraded to pitiful madness. In the barbaric society of Thurzuk’s people you had to have unwavering confidence and complete belief in what you chose to become. Otherwise, you fell foul to the treachery of those above you, below you, beside you. In such a competitive society your peers were your rivals. That was why so many Vorsurk became a warrior. It was what the Vorsurk were born to become. Muscle of the body was a gift given freely to all Vorsurk. It was those Vorsurk, like Jaerkon, who chose to flex the muscle of their mind that were under the greatest of pressure, gained the greatest rewards, but suffered the worst of punishments. Not the greatest of warriors, Thurzuk had risked everything by joining Jaerkon as an apprentice to the arts of sorcery, had risked even more when he was the only one of the students to remain at his teacher’s side as all the other casters turned against Jaerakon. When the human had finally gathered up enough courage and had foolishly dared to open the Eleventh Tome, Thurzuk was the only witness to the cleverness of his master. Jaerkon sent his loyal follower to gather enough warriors to make up the number which had always been known as the holiest of holy. One hundred and twenty one warriors were Jaerkon’s to command when the sly and stealthy blade of Thurzuk claimed his life. Thurzuk thought of himself as ready to inherit his master’s work. Now the Vorsurk listened grimly as the scouts returned. The bleating of lambs proclaimed much needed food, but also that his men still felt no fear for their enemy.
‘Foolish!’ Thurzuk thought to himself as he spat savagely and pondered.
Four of his great warrior kin had already starved to death, and the small army was still deep in their own lands. There was a long journey ahead, but Thurzuk was confident that the tome desired to be reclaimed. As Thurzuk slept at night it spoke to him in his dreams of Jaekon’s power, syllables for spells, scenes of violence, imagery of Thurzuk and his band conquering the weak willed humans and returning the prideful spirit back to the Vorsurk people. Already Thurzuk could feel the leather-bound tome inspiring him to triumphant greatness. Now the four lost soldiers had caused Thurzuk to doubt. This sign of live-stock made him smile grimly. The true border was close, and it was going to take a quick but bloody battle to get his men beyond that line and into the humans’ territory. Once there though, it would be another battle to convince what soldiers he had left that the humans would make no easy victory. The more this Morthos used the tome, the greater an insight into his mind the apprentice sorcerer Thurzuk gained. The tome granted Thurzuk a window through which he saw just how great a challenge his task would be. As the smell of fresh meat interrupted Thurzuk’s thoughts, he felt the tingle of the tome’s call once more. It would lead his men to lands worth claiming. The Vorsurk would be a powerful force once again.

Out on the hot and dusty border, the elder Truth Keepers gathered around the large oak table, muttering quietly amongst themselves in small groups.
“The absence of Martin the Merciless is sorely missed,” one declared loudly enough for all others in the large canvass tent to overhear. At this simple statement the muttering ceased for a moment.
“Martin was a fool,” one of these elder men spat in reply.
“If the sages were here to record his words they would smirk and laugh at his poor suggestions for strategy,” another voice added, almost instantaneously.
“Truly a fool, but true to us missing him. Another body to throw upon the barbarian’s sword in a quest to further claim territory in the name of King Fredrickson,” a third added with a dry and sarcastic laugh. This one, Edmund of the North, had merely days left in his campaign before he could return to the safety of society, his homeland or the glorious position of Truth Keeper of Andrapaal. He had but three or four more skirmishes to survive.
As each and every one of the soldiers of truth reached their eleventh year on the border they returned home to serve as guardians there, or moved to the great city of Andrapaal and took up station as one of the protectors of this holy place. As each Truth Keeper reached their tenth anniversary of service fighting the Vorsurk, they were elevated to the important position of Battle Advisor. These strategists planned the advances against the barbarians, and then took the lead positions as the imagined plans became reality. Not all Truth Keepers reached that tenth anniversary. Even less of the human warriors returned from the border to take that honorary position of guardian. As the new weapons, clumsy swords with a wide blade began to arrive from the holy city with Vladimir’s praises, less and less Truth Keepers reached that tenth anniversary. Of those that did, fewer still lived to see their eleventh. It was written that these new swords would bring an end to the war. It was written and so the Truth Keepers took up the clumsy weapons. It was written, recorded in the great tomes of the city of Andrapaal and so it had to be obeyed.

***

The sun had finally set and been set many an hour when Raven found himself able to settle into the straw mattress he had been given by Gregory their host. The blacksmith had vacated his own sleeping quarters for the Truth Keeper, retiring himself to the hard packed dirt floor of his forge. Paechra decided for herself that she would once more reside close by the forge, but somewhere she could see the stars. Gregory made to argue against this, Raven however cut him short.
“Do not trouble yourself, blacksmith,” Raven began. “The Sylvi have a special connection it seems with the outside world that we of the kingdom will never understand.”
More comfortable than the last few weeks spent upon the roadside, Raven discovered that sleep still refused to claim him straight away. Although he felt he was in dire need of slumber he was annoyed at how the day had unraveled and annoyed further by how his sour mood was keeping him awake.
‘Firstly, there was no sign of my father,’ thought Raven as he lay upon his back with his hands folded beneath his head and stared up at nothing.
‘Surely the master Truth Keeper said so himself that I was expected. Why did not my father, lord of our house come meet me? I should be introducing my family and friends to Paechra right now. It seems so wrong that instead I am buried in straw in some sooty blacksmith’s.’
A thin dark brow furrowed as the Truth Keeper pondered this injustice to his pride.
‘Then there is this Master Anton, living in my father’s house, parading about the city as master to the Truth Keepers. Never have I heard anything so…’
“Preposterous!!” Raven blurted out loudly. Hearing his own voice so loud in the silence of the night, Raven became suddenly silent, listening for if Paechra or Gregory had been woken by the noise. Absolute peace was all that Raven could hear. The occasional sound of the city’s nightlife reminded him that in fact he really was back in Andrapaal, even if none of his family knew it.
“Preposterous…” he added again, just to fill the nothingness in the blacksmith’s home. Paechra had not yet begun her rhythmic breathing and faint murmuring that Raven had learnt to recognize as sylva sleep. Even the forge was silent, Gregory the blacksmith finally putting down his tools.
Thoughts floated back into Raven’s mind.
‘The Truth Keepers have never had a master before. It was a matter of respect the knowledge of your elders, mateship amongst those others whom had sworn the oath with you. Follow the sages and retain your honor. Believe in the sages, protect the citizens and watch the back of the brothers beside you. This was the code. It was simple and it worked. There was no room for hierarchy. If you were wealthy you shared your wealth. If you were born with brains you used them to help yourself and the others.’
The Truth Keeper sat up. Obvious to him there would be no sleep that night. His time away had seen changes affect his beloved city; his return had not been the triumph he had hoped, not even the dull continuation of his previous life. There was now a new master and seemingly a new chief of the sages. Raven decided first thing the next morning he would request that Gregory take both him and Paechra to see Anton and then on to a branch of the Knowledge Tree to discover if he could not discover somewhat about this Vladimir whom had a great interest in Raven. With this decision made the Truth Keeper slipped back amongst the straw again and slept the very instant he closed his eyes.

Raven found the air hot and dry. As he opened his eyes again he found himself back in the desert walking the border.
‘This dream again.’ Raven thought to himself.
The hot desert sun beamed down without mercy from the clear blue sky. Raven was Johannas again and he marched, sweating heavily in his chainmail across the desert sand. The white surcoat he wore, with the symbol of a white dove perched within the branches of The Tree of Knowledge, did little to reflect the striking rays of heat striking down from overhead. Five other Truth Keepers, his brothers in faith marched too, like the disciplined soldiers that they were. All six of the Truth Keepers had long swords drawn, the weapon of preference of these upholders of truth. Riding amongst the soldiers were two sages, one yellow-robed and the other blue. The yellow-robed sage had traveled with the small force of soldiers at his own request. Their task had been to escort to safety the sage Vladimir. Few of the Truth Keepers thought the task would be easy.

Vladimir was renowned for his wisdom and his strong voice, constantly preaching the words of truth. It was also whispered that he had refused on two previous occasions to leave the field of battle, stating plainly that his words had far greater use in such harsh lands than in the comforts of the kingdom. He was thought to be high on the list of potential replacements for Edward Bear-Heart, but all knew that such a decision was years away from the making. It was whispered that for now, the council of blue robed sages just wanted to keep Vladimir close, close enough to mold, to form into a perfect chief sage.

“Master…” panted the yellow-robed sage. His horse had foam flecking its flanks and its head hung low. Like the mount, the sage also seemed dangerously heat affected. His yellow robes clung to him and his full head of dark hair lay disheveled and limp against his sun burnt scalp.
“Yes Morthos?” questioned the other, elder of the two.
“Master Vladimir? In your wisdom, might you suggest that instead of suffering any longer in this heat we might make for a place to camp and change our steeds?”
“I have lived many a year here upon the border, faithfully receiving the sacred truth and passing on what knowledge I have learnt. Many a farmer does dwell not far from here. Order the Truth Keepers westward. We shall see just what the poor farm of Wolfheart may offer us. Do not expect your city finery, Morthos, the farms here are working poor soil, poor beasts, and poorer people. It is truly these citizens of our kingdom that believe strongest in the Faith of the Word.”
“As you request, Your Wisdom,” Morthos gracefully replied, bowing to the more senior sage.
“Truth Keepers! Westward! Drink and food await us, as does some shelter from this heat,” the yellow-robed sage then cried out, turning away from the blue-robed sage to face the marching Truth Keepers.
As young as he was, Johannas stole a quick glimpse over his shoulder at the young sage, not even a year older than he was, who gave orders from the old man in blue robes that had the real power.
Sage Vladimir had grey hair cut youthfully spiky. His blue robe bellowed in the hot breeze, fitting him loosely as his wrinkled and sun spotted skin did little these days to fill it. The horse he straddled, like a born rider, was barrel-chested and stood a few hands higher than Morthos’ steed. Although his upper body had given in to his age, the muscular thighs of one often found on horse back, remained. As a combined picture, the elder sage seemed to young Johannas, a contrast of ideas.
“Face front boy!” hissed Ryan, a Truth Keeper who wore the image of both wolf and boar upon his chest. This brother had a decade or two on the younger Truth Keeper, putting him somewhere in his late twenties or early thirties. The eldest of the six Truth Keepers, he had become the speaker for the soldiers. Obediently, Johannas faced ahead as suggested. Not once had Ryan moved his head or even hinted he was looking the young boy’s way.
‘I suppose it be a trick that I too will learn out upon the border,’ Johannas thought to himself.

Johannas spent the few hours of marching reciting the oath of the Truth Keepers. Each rhythmic footfall caused another word to float into his mind. The oath was an ancient codex that had been penned by the first of the sages in the midst of the first warriors sworn in as Truth Keepers.
In his sleep Raven mumbled one after the other, the rules that he and his brothers lived by daily.

‘First… you… are… a… guar… di… an.’ Johannas thought as his boots trod one in front of the other with a soft crunch into the desert sand.
‘Sworn… you… are…now… to… pro… tect. Pro… tect… you… will… all… sa… ges. Pro… tect… you… will… your… bro… thers. Pro… tect… you… must… the… king… dom. Pro… tect… all… who… wor… ship… truth. Your… sword… is… a… sign… to… all… Friend… and… foe… of… this… you… swear.’
Before he could begin the second of the four pledges, the defender of truth, Johannas was awakened by a call from behind him.
“Ho! You there! Of the Dove house…” cried out the blue-robed sage.
“Johannas, boy. That be you He speak of,” hissed Ryan, bringing Johannas out of his rhythmic chant.
“Yes, Your Wisdom?” Johannas reverently asked.
Vladimir the Knowledge Keeper smiled.
“Take Morthos here by the reigns and lead him up to that farmhouse there over yonder. The two of you go see if the clan of the Wolf is willing and able to host an old friend a little while.

As Johannas did as he was bid, Raven stirred with a great moan.

Sheathing his long sword, Johannas took the reigns offered by Morthos of the yellow robes, and gently began to walk the horse towards the small cluster of buildings that Vladimir had pointed out. If it were not Vladimir’s cry, Johannas would perhaps have marched straight passed this farm. The desert had been harsh and there was little about the land to show that it was worked. With some land mark to aim for the Truth Keeper took his charge and moved at a pace that would suit the tired mount and its equally tiring rider towards a squat, square shaped building with a thatched roof.
“That there be the house, boy!” Vladimir cried out as encouragement. The remaining Truth Keepers stayed silent.
“I will wave from the house if all is well,” Morthos suggested with a weak smile.
“As you see fit,” replied Vladimir, “Of course, maybe you had best send the boy to wave instead, seeing that you lack the energy and all.” Vladimir guffawed; around him the Truth Keepers remained respectfully quiet.
“Quicken this pace. I order it,” Morthos murmured so as only Johannas could hear. As suggested, Johannas tugged gently upon the reigns and brought the steed in his hands to a faster trot. To keep ahead, the Truth Keeper began a jog, the fastest pace he could manage in his chain suit.

Beyond Raven and his troubled dream, crossed legged upon her straw mat, was Paechra. She chanted the ancient sounds under her breath that would cast her spell and join her thoughts to those of her sister druids far away. Her back was resting against the wall of the passageway. A strange sky blue glow enveloped her. Around the sylva girl, two shadows sat similarly cross-legged, though such features as limbs could not be clearly made out. Paechra turned to each of the shadows, looking upon them with unfocused eyes.
Sister, the high prince asks of you, one of the shades began.
He is concerned for your safety amongst the humankind, another chimed in with.
‘I care not if he does worry so,’ Paechra thought.
Young one! You cannot dismiss this as so trivial, one shadow urged, the words appearing in Paechra’s mind.
‘Tell him I do still seek my father and his approval of such an arrangement. King or no he cannot refuse me that…’
Xarra. The girl is right. The other shade said. Both featureless figures turned to each other, emanating frustration.
True spoken, Astrallanna. Of course when Paechra-allanna does realize running from life will leave her exhausted, it will be a wondrous day for the three of us. For now let us turn our minds to this Commoner… The shade named Xarra replied.
Paechra brought herself out of her dream-state and listened for Raven. The blue light evaporated as she rose up and padded barefoot to the open doorway of where Raven rested. The two shades hovered where they sat. The Truth Keeper cried out, a sound of obvious shock and surprise. The blue light flared up again for a moment as Paechra sent a thought towards the two waiting women.
‘He seems troubled. I will speak to you again as time, and my father, permits. I wish only I could send some of this summer heat to you both.’
Fear not, sister. Your kindred already know a few tricks to living out the cool of winter, one shade said.
Is it not true that we have survived it centuries already? added the other.
‘Of one heart and one mind,’ Paechra sent to her sisters, a traditional farewell of her people.
As the spirits guide us, the other Sylva gave as a reply and with that said, both shadowy figures vanished.
As the sun set upon Paechra and night settled over the Kingdom of Thuraen, the grey twilight of pre-dawn began in her homeland. The three druids allowed the magic that surrounded them to slip back to the waiting giant oaks of their forest. Sisters to Paechra, not in blood but in the task they all shared of tending and protecting their forest home, these druids worried for their friend.
“By the sounds of our young one all alone, there has been no sign of the rogue prince,” stated one of the druids, straight to the point, the two others that were with her nodded sagely together.
From beyond the ring of ancient giants that stood about these druids like sentries, there came a cackling laugh.
“Is that your laughter mother? Or do the blessed spirits mock us lovingly?” the three Sylva sang together.
“It is I indeed, listening to your conclusions you already are leapt to, it is hard for one of my age and experiences not to find jollity,” replied the head druid, the mother figure of this group of forest keepers.
“Come and sit with us then mother and enjoy the dawn display the spirits provide. Join our breaking fast with the bounty the forest does supply for us,” one of the trio offered with a hopeful smile.
The elder Sylva held out her hand, grateful for the support.
“How can one even attempt to refuse such an offer? What is more, it seems I have much gossip to catch up concerning our sister Paechra…”
Although her smile was true, the mother druid’s fear was greater than that of Paechra’s sister druids. The mother druid had heard the parting vow of the sylva low prince Athun, and his anger towards Paechra had in no way simmered.

As Johannas drew the horse and rider nearer the farm, Raven moaned again.
The student Truth Keeper Johannas found that as he left his brother soldiers behind and led the yellow-robed sage towards the silent farm he became so aware of his surroundings. He could see the individual age rings from the oaks that had been carted from afar to build the stout and strong structures that were so vital for a working farm. The hayshed, a barn and living quarters all looked identical to any farm in the entire kingdom, except that out here in such harsh conditions the barn and hayshed had less signs of use and the land less signs of success than that of a farm nearer to the kingdom’s capital and the Vale of History. The horse whinnied in discomfort as Johannas led it closer to the farmhouse. Already by then though, the Truth Keeper had detected that something was very wrong. There were dried specks of something resembling blood about the door frame and pathway that led into the house. To a boy that had been raised with a sword and praise, like Johannas, instead of plow shears and a great deal of cursing, dried blood in a shed where animals had been hung once slaughtered could not be classed as unusual. The sheep or ox hides that covered the windows keeping light and heat out also seemed not out of place. What did cause the Truth Keeper to pause however was the horrid smell. It was like the field of battle that no one spoke of. A smell of fresh death, and nothing clean.
“Your Wisdom. I think we had best turn back to the others. I do not like the smell of this at all,” Johannas urged, staring over his shoulder towards the yellow-robed sage. Morthos had a robed arm draped about his mouth and nose. Cradled in the other arm was a great black leather-bound tome. The sage was busy focusing upon the words written across the pages he had open. His lips moved wordlessly as his eyes floated slowly down each page.
Johannas drew his blade, a sound that brought the eyes of Morthos away from his tome.
“For what reason have we chosen to stop here?!” Morthos demanded.
“We’ve stopped because of the horrid stench, sir. Can’t you smell it?” Johannas explained.
“That is surely mere farm smells! It must be all the animals. Go tie this beast up and then tend to me. I shall wave the others forward,” Morthos ordered and then awkwardly dismounted.
“Not meaning to question you wise one. Which animals do you speak of?” Johannas reverently asked.
“This is a farm, youth! Find some!” Morthos bit back, not even turning to face Johannas as he replied.
As the sage strode back towards the road, Johannas did as he was bid. The horse struggled without a rider now and wrenched itself free from Johannas’ grasp. With a single kick the mount had pummeled the Truth Keeper through the open doorway. Outside the smell was horrid. Within the front room of the farmhouse and the unnatural darkness, the smell was twice as potent. The sound of a horse fleeing caused Johannas to try and rise quickly. He threw down one of the covers to give him a view of the yard. Before he could scan for the horse however, light flooded into the room.

“They’re dead!” cried Raven, rising quickly from his state of slumber, to sit up and bury his face into his hands.
“You are home now,” Paechra said soothingly, moving quickly from the room’s doorway to sit beside her friend and rub his back.
Raven looked up in shock to find the Sylva maiden there.
“How much did you hear?”
“Nothing I swear. You were restless so I came to check. That is what friends do, you know.”
“Nothing more than that?” questioned Raven, his eyes narrowing.
“Only when you woke, then you said something ghastly! You cried out something that sounded like death or dead. Your dream must have been terrible.”
“Terrible yes, but only a dream,” Raven stated.
Paechra waited a moment for her companion to say more. Instead, he returned to the mattress of straw and turned his back to her. Concerned she rose quietly and left the room, headed for her own bed and sleep.

The harsh lifeless stone of the palace felt strange still to Chief Sage Vladimir as he glided through it like a haunt. The lonely darkness of the stone slabs did drive the sage close to madness, but he did not dare step forth from its safety. The first time he had attempted such a spell, he stepped out in front of a servant of the king and had caused them both to topple over. The gossip resultant from that had been disastrous and taken a full two weeks for Vladimir to dissolve. If he had not been head of the sages and grudgingly the king’s friend, it would perhaps have never gone away. Instead Vladimir passed way too far down below the city’s foundations and found as the spell wore off, that again he needed to trudge his way up through the worming holes of a city beneath his, before he could find his prisoner again.
“Lor tha… Tat!” Vladimir sung under his breath causing a small ball of greenish light to appear where his thrusting hands had beckoned. Like a puppeteer he moved the ball of light, so that it rose a few feet before him illuminating the darkness. He was getting better at this magic. The more he used it, the easier simple tasks such as creating the light seemed to be. Without the book though, the task of climbing through the tunnels was going to be tough. Vladimir warmed himself with the thought that soon he would control the minds and thoughts of others. Then it would be Anton, or any one of his chosen eleven, who would be struggling with such a tiring task. Before him scuttled small creatures, those tiny beasts that called the darkness home. Little eyes snapped open for a brief moment before, suddenly, a nest of bats leapt to life and screeched about Vladimir causing him to curse and splutter. Throwing his robed arms about him, the elderly sage fought them off, looking like a puppeteer had taken control of him. The magic light winked out as he lost his concentration. In the pitch darkness, the bats took off further down the tunnel to settle there and wait for the intruder to move on.
“Lor tha… Tat!” Vladimir sung, louder and with greater force this time. The ball of light refused to form.
“Lor tha… Tat!!!” Vladimir shouted, frustration, mixed with an element of urgency.
The ball of light blazed, blinding the sage and making him cry out. As he shielded his eyes the light eased, dimming as Vladimir’s rage dimmed. Finally, breathing rhythmically and with the ball of light before him again Vladimir continued his trudging journey.

It surprised Vladimir to find that the dim red circle still preserved, imprisoning his captive even better than the maze of tunnels could. It had been a few long hours of walking lost through the passages that existed beneath Andrapaal, before Vladimir had stumbled across where he had left the Sylva sage Therdous Lightheart. To Vladimir’s surprise it took him another few minutes to gather enough strength to face this Sylva who he had imprisoned to decipher the prophecy.
“You come at last, pretender. That light drains you. Makes you tired, feel older than me,” the Sylva chuckled. He seemed too relaxed, too cheerful for Vladimir’s liking.
“Your daughter is here,” Vladimir sneered.
“Such news does not surprise me,” Therdous replied with ease.
“Never mind, you’ll never see her anyway!” Vladimir snapped back, feeling his elderly muscles clench with his building fury.
“If you can wean yourself free from that Vorsurk muck, you may just be right,” the Sylva replied, all laughter absent from his voice.
“Old man, that Vorsurk muck you speak of, has made you my prisoner. I am surprised that someone in your position can jest at such power,” the chief of sages boldly stated.
“You believe that in my position, I jest with you as I witness your use of corruptive Vorsurk magicks? True my current position is not the wondrous kingdom of nature I am used to living amongst, but it was my own choice to come stay with your kind. You were quite welcoming at first, if I recall correctly. It seems sad now that word of your famous prophecy did by chance touch both my ear and curiosity. It is truly saddening for the both of us,” replied Therdous, the sylva’s face showing deep sadness and regret.
Vladimir felt the anger grow within him. He breathed deeply and sent the magic light to float above the Sylva. Even in the dim light his magic shed, Vladimir could see the soiled blue robe that hung tattered about the old Sylva’s boney frame. Behind the Sylva, beyond the circle, were the scrawled words of the prophecy, a continuation of what was written in the Hall of Records.

It was by luck that Vladimir had stumbled upon these words. Floating through the palace stone work for the first time, the sage had wandered the tunnels armed with a torch and his bare wits. As they did in the Hall of Records above, some of the scratched letters that scrawled randomly throughout the tunnels made sense to him. Frustrating Vladimir though, was the fact that none of these words flowed together. To a sage this truly was a crime. Then, as if the strange Vorsurk words from the black tome had summoned him, the sylva scholar had arrived pledging himself to the kingdom. Pledging his skills and knowledge to whatever task Vladimir had need of him to do. The arrival of this Sylva had been such a blessing and yet such a curse for Vladimir. At first the four walls of the palace hall began to unscramble. Random dribbling of a phantom from the past, the Sylva Lightheart had found meaning where sages of red and blue had found naught. Instantly Vladimir had elevated Therdous to chief linguist, a blue-robed position. A position once held only by those of the Kingdom of Thuraen. As the sages of blue had bickered amongst themselves like children, Vladimir watched surprised as the Sylva’s talent for languages revealed more and more of the strange prophecy.

Then, just as suddenly as the answers had come, the flow of secrets that were revealed just stopped.
“I am sorry Your Wisdom,” Therdous had said in his aristocratic tone. “The words you ask me to… translate… They are becoming personal. Strange, I know…”
Vladimir was at a loss. He could not give this up. The kingdom would not give this up. So many more secrets still to reveal. The strange dark tome had held the answers. Dark magics, powers that Vladimir had not thought to use.
‘Say the words…’ the tome had urged for the first time. Vladimir had obeyed. The pain that twisted Therdous’ face that day…

Now he chose to do it again.
“Two days! Tell me, now! What does it all say…?”
“Pretender, puppet of the one book you are forbidden to read. I’ll be telling you naught…”
“Wrong!”
As Vladimir murmured the words he remembered, he felt his anger and frustration turn into power. The red ring stung as Vladimir stepped through it. It recognized the Vorsurk magic in him and remained dormant. The sage of the silver sash extended his hands and the ball of light followed its master’s beckoning. Thus as Vladimir rested his fingertips upon the temples of Therdous the Sylva, he saw the almond eyes that widened in terror and heard the sound of shock that emanated from the old sylva’s lips, before a flood of images filled his mind leaving room for naught else.

Awakening five feet from the red circle Vladimir tentatively rose to his feet. He looked down at the weeping Sylva.
“Many thanks as always…” Vladimir smirked.
“They will betray you… old man,” Therdous growled with his eyes rimmed red.
“Like you have? I know now your daughter plays a part. Perhaps I will leave you here two days more. Since Paechra has arrived perhaps it is best I learn the most I can about your little girl.”

As Vladimir exited the dark murky tunnels, he hoped that the grey light of dawn was only young. He had a great walk before him and it had been a restless night. In a panic he rushed back towards the palace.
If the red ring still held, keeping his prisoner secure, what of the locks upon his door? Would they remain keeping him, Vladimir out in the passageway, leaving him just beyond the safety of his chambers?

Below the city the sylva sage Therdous quietly wept, his eyes tightly closed as he tried to focus solely upon his daughter.
“Daughter, Paechra you must leave! Leave this place! The danger is true! Hear my plea. Leave, quickly and soon. You are not safe,” the sage murmured, over and over again. Therdous hoped with every fiber of his being that his daughter would be able to interpret the passage of the prophecy he had recently uncovered:
The Lioness shall be as the lamb, offered to the baying hounds.
The cry for blood shall not cease.
By the will of the proud and the actions of the brave shall the beast’s desire for blood grow, ever greater, never to cease.
The Sylva felt a growing dread that the time of the prophecy was far too near. He cursed the day that he had chosen the name Paechra, a word that described the spirited nature of a proud lioness in the tongue of the Sylva.
“Paechra, you are my foolish and yet wonderful daughter. Why did you follow me here?” Therdous Lightheart cried out in despair. Through his tears the Sylva found a smile as immediately he had an answer. “You are but your father’s daughter. You are my lioness that shall never be a lamb. There must be even more to this prophecy, more to be translated and interpreted and unraveled.”
With that thought in his mind the Sylva sage found his tears fading and his smile growing.

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This publication is part 3 of 5 in the series The Eleventh Tome