Outline for an Adventure 4

Part 1

1.       What even are the Parallels? {Pages of time stuck in place.} Ok? {The books that hold the Schools of Magic in them. They were made from the Trees of Life by the light elves to allow those who are fallen a way to use magic.} But I thought the book you found on New Cirt, the one we have fallen into was one of a kind? {It is the first book made and gifted to men who sought for help against the War of Lurks. These men became the first and most powerful.}

2.       The Wards. Why don’t the Light Elves come down and defeat evil themselves? {Some did. Light Elves cannot kill, lest they become fallen. But they can gift this ability to the fallen for the sake of protection.} How do you know this? {I’m reading it. Can’t you see the pages before us?}

3.       I only see you alone in a beautiful field. {That’s because we are near the tree whose wood made this book. If we were to venture beyond the tree’s borders.}

4.       Let me guess… it would be the desert you spoke of and I dreamt of. {An empty wasteland of magic. When you traveled there in your dreams, you were able to move back through the frozen pages of time to when Xixis was just beginning.} Then let’s do that now! We can stop Xixis from ever being created. {That’s not how the Parallels work.}

5.       {You can only escape time in them, but you must return to the time frame you first entered. You can see things from the past but they are forever frozen in place. Only the Warp can help you actually travel back in time.} Ok, then we must find Gladius and reunite him to his wife. But where do we begin?

6.       {We are not alone here.} What do you mean? {Something is coming.} Don’t you mean someone?

7.       {Oh!} Who is that?

8.       {You saw it too?} He or it doesn’t look like a very nice guy. [He’s not.] Who said that?

9.       {Nynombir. You aren’t going to believe this.} That voice… could it be? {Yes! It’s Flodnag!}

10.   [No. I am not.]

Part 2

11.   [What you see before you is a projection of the last correct person to have entered the Book of Wards. It is my practice to take on their likeness of sight and sound. It is my job to direct you to the proper place within the book… should you prove yourself at the testings of course.]

12.   That sounds ominous. [Yes, it does because it is. Flodnag is the last proper person to use this book. everyone else is just a bunch of thieves.]

13.   {How many “thieves” have entered this book.} [Besides yourselves? Three.]

14.   Perhaps you can help us then. Is Gladius here and can you bring us to him? He is a soldier scholar, oh, and an immortal. I have no idea what he looks like. [Yes and no.] {So he might be here, but he might not?} [No. Yes, he is here and no I cannot take you to him.] Why not?

15.   [Only a proper person who has passed through the testings can use my directory functions.]

16.   {Well, give us the tests then.} [You wish to become a Ward?] If that’s what it takes.

17.   [You could simply look around. I mean besides the garden you have the whole of the deserted regions which encompass all of the world. Oh, and 5,000 pages of time to peruse through, each page signifying roughly a hundred years outside of the Parallels.] That sounds impossible. [Well, you don’t age here so, it is actually very possible and it is much safer.] {Safer than what?}

18.   [The testings of course.] Yew and I looked at each other. {Well, I suppose we have no choice.} [You do have a choice.] We choose the testings. [Very well.]

19.   [New parameters set. Locating target for defeat. Thief number three is showing up near the tree. Defeat this thief and you will be a Ward.]

20.   {That’s it?} I figured it would be multiple tests on magic usage. [It was. Thief three passed all the tests I had.] {Why isn’t he a Ward then?} [He would not take the oath and seems bent on destroying this book in search of power. eliminating him will prove your knowledge of magic and it will protect the Book of Wards.] Show who this thief is. {I have a bad feeling about this.}

21.   [Projecting thief three. Good luck, and may Yevnwen guide your hand.]

Part 3

22.   {The apparition of Flodnag left us with our own devices.} We must defeat this evil if we are to find Galdius. {We could take our time searching through the pages.} All the while being hunted and haunted by this evil, and allowing him to grow more powerful… and possibly destroying this book in the process. {Yes, you’ve made your point. But how do we defeat someone who is powerful enough to pass as a Ward?}

23.   [He is not as powerful as a Ward. He is less so. He only passed the testings which allows him access to the lower libraries.] {Flodnag’s apparition isn’t here, and yet I hear him.} As do I. It seems he can hear us writing with the mind quill. [Where did you get the mind quill?] Flodnag. [Why didn’t you say this at the beginning? Do you have the warp rings?]

24.   {I always hide it for fear of losing it.} Same here. [That is both wise and foolish. If you would have worn them to begin with, I would have known.] Know what? [You are servants of Flodnag and can therefore have access to the schools.]

25.   [This was his last request of me before leaving to destroy the Kingdom of Ronalee. Tell me, how did he do?] Um… he was successful.

26.   [It must not be completely so for, otherwise he would not have sent you. I must do a final check before allowing you to access the schools.] A large protrusion erupted from the earth. It had a single doorway. [Please step in for a full analysis of your birthright.] {I was about to step in when Nyn held me back.} What is your birthright… your family?

27.   {Well.} Don’t write it out loud. Just think about it. What is your last name and what was Flodnag’s task to that name? {We can’t know for sure what this apparition means by birthright.} That’s why I’ll step in first.

28.   As I stepped into the protrusion my body began to glow with my Paladin powers. [You are a high-level, naturally gifted Paladin who was once a Living Element. There are no birth parents and no family background. You have no birthright that would interfere with Flodnag’s goals.] Is there a particular family name that he would not allow to enter here? [Only those with traces of the Crescentium family of which he has made an oath to eliminate.]

29.   {Well that doesn’t sound very promising, but I have an idea. Apparition. What would Flodnag say about his own kin?} [Flodnag had no children.] {But if he did?} [They would have access to all things.] What are you thinking Yew? {I’m thinking that I should step in and find out my birthright.}

30.   What will happen if he learns of your family name? {I have a hunch that it won’t matter all that much.} That’s a lot to risk your life on, just for a hunch. {If things go wrong, I’m sure you can save me.} [Please step in and let me check your birthright.] Don’t do it! {I already have.} I’ll come and get you. {No, put the sword away. I seem to be going deeper than you.} [That is because you have a much larger family to process through.]

31.   Tell me what you are seeing! {I see a very large tree with houses on them. There are people inside the houses.} [This is a representation of your family. It extends all the way back to the first human and elven couple.] {Then you see that I am Crescentium?} [You are much more than that.] {It’s as I suspected.} So you aren’t going to lock her out? [I am commanded to do so, and yet, I cannot.] I demand an explanation! [Processing.]

Part 4

32.   [Who is Yewna Blossom-Belle Crescentium?] Yewna is your full name? {Shut up!} I love it! {It’s ugly.} It’s beautiful and non-confusing. I’m using it from here on out. {Do you really like it all that much?} Yewna, I like every little thing I can learn about you.

33.   [Yewna was born of two half-elves named Guindila and Todywin. They were murdered by Yewna’s great grandfather who goes by the name of Thanius Puren Flodnag.] {I knew it!} How is that even possible?

34.   [Her great grandmother, Kanoa, met Flodnag in the crowd. They had a night together.] {I always thought it was funny how Kanoa left so abruptly.}

35.   [She married as fast as she could to cover up the daughter she and Flodnag had born.] And you only just found this out? [Flodnag always refused to be tested for birthright. He was deemed a Ward upon entering and needed no testing. Now, things have improved a little more since.]

36.   [Kanoa’s grandmother married an elf. Their daughter was a half elf who had many adventures, lasting hundreds of years before settling down with Yewna’s father, whose lineage as a half-elf also connects with a distant line of Crescentium family.]

37.   [You are the great granddaughter of the last living Ward and the rightful new master of this book.] Yewna? Are you okay? [She is rightfully in shock.]

38.   {Did Flodnag know?} [That I am not sure of. Perhaps, Kanoa kept it from him.] {I wish I could have asked him… I had a dream that it might be so, but after hearing his story… and then his sweet sleeping after.} [Then he is dead. No wonder you are here. You must finish his mission.] {What do you mean?}

39.   [You must kill any who bear the Cresentium crest as their namesake.] Yewna gave me a hard look then… not to say, or write anything else.

40.   She smiled at the apparition and replied: {Of course. But I need to destroy the Third thief first.} I knew then what Yewna had in mind. It reminded me of how she dealt with the Golem King at Snowcrest. [What happened at Snowcrest?]

41.   Yew saved millions of lives.

42.   {Direct me to the Third Thief.} [He is hard to track. But there is another who is chasing him and he is not as powerful.] Is he the second thief? [He stays in the shadows so that I cannot see if he is a thief or not. He entered the book right before you two did.]

Part 5

43.   {The Apparition took us to the last place that he had detected the shadowy one.} I had forgotten how beautiful Xixis looked from a distance. {It felt wrong though.} Did Flodnag’s ghost lead us astray? {No, the place was fine. It was the wrong time. Here let me flip back a few pages.} Pages?

44.   What just happened? {Still wrong. Maybe if I go further back.}

45.   {There we are. I believe we will find the shadowy one here.} Where are we? {Don’t you remember? Look around.}

46.   The fingers of the giant! We are back in time… when Xixis was first being built. What does the shadowy one look like? <Like this.> {Dwindl!}

47.   <I am he who entered the book as it was opening.> Why did you come? <I sensed a presence of my kin.> {Your kin?} <Malgad.> Who is that?

48.   <A fellow dissenter of the Children of Draco. It seems that he has sought after the most powerful of magics.> I thought that magic was a forbidden thing to your kind. <It is. This is why he left us. It was a lie to take the honor of searching for Eggolas. He only wanted power… and he has found it in this book.> {The Wards were the first and most powerful wizards. We must stop him.}

49.   <No, only I can face him. I will Mimic his powers and use it against him.> That sounds too simple. <It is simple, simple and clean.> No, I mean that such a powerful force should not be faced alone. <I, cannot stop you from coming.>

50.   {Don’t mind me. I’ll protect you both.} <You will not be following!> {Oh, then try to stop me.} <I don’t have time for this. Yew is not ready for such a battle. Tell her Sir Nyn.> She’s kind of inherited these pages. <What do you mean?> {Flodnag was my great grandfather. I am his next and only of kin.} <Then you can control this book!> How do you think we found you? <This is wonderful! Take us to the index! Just think of it.> {Ok?}

51.   <I can’t believe it! You have inherited the rights to rule this book.> How do you know so much about Living Books? <How do you think the elves mesmerized our dragons? They trained them in Living Books made from the Trees of Life. Now, think real hard Yew.> It’s Yewna now. <Yewna?> {Long story… What do you wish for me to find?} <Search for the character list. Once you are there, you can simply think Malgad out of the book.>

52.   ~NOT SO FAST!~ Yewna! You must move! Malgad is here! {But I must protect you!} <Protect yourself girl!> {I will return!} ~PITY. SHE LOOKED RATHER FUN. I SUPPOSE YOU TWO WILL HAVE TO DO!~ 

Part 6

53.   With Yewna gone Dwindl and I could focus on attacking Malgad. So, I took on my Paladin form.

54.   <The plan was to have Nynombir attack Malgad while I hid in the shadows and prepared my mimicry.>

55.   Basically, I was the tank, willing to take him head on. Malgad was only too willing to abide by that.

56.   As our attacks began, it felt like time slowed down. I was able to see every small quiver of muscle in anticipation of the next move. I’d always had a dexterity for battle, it had never been this acute. It was like I had reached a new level of fighting.

57.   And then I noticed, Malgad also saw my moves way before I made them. Could he be just as adept at fighting, if not more? <It wasn’t just you two. Everything seemed to be moving slower.> We were playing chess in the air anticipating our moves minutes before they happened.

58.   And then, Malgad faked an attack towards my head. <At this point, minutes felt like hours, and soon after… they felt like days.> Imagine how frightful it was to see his weapon thrusting towards me, day by day inching closer and knowing there was nothing I could do about it.

59.   <I was already making my move. But we all knew it would be too late. Nyn was going to have to take the thrust and hopefully not die.>

60.   I can remember every detail of Malgad’s sword as it began to slowly pierce me. It took months to watch the slow stab happening. The horror of pain slowly building month by month. I felt a scream crawling out of my throat. I saw the eternal glee in Malgad’s eyes.

61.   <At last I made contact, pushing the sword out of Malgad’s grasp.> My long scream was beginning to erupt when the pain was at its peak. And then slowly, every, excruciatingly slowly, the pain of the sword left, though the pain of the wound had only just begun.

62.   <It felt like years watching us fall after my counter. I had no idea if the blow was lethal. I only focused on my Mimicry, and at this speed I could take my time in forming the most awesome one that I could. By the time I had landed, I felt a mockery of Malgad’s dark powers coursing through my bones. I was a perfect match. And he, well, it took years to tell, but he was laughing at it all.>

63.   <I turned to face him, always laughing, forever laughing in low, slowed-down pitch. When facing him I saw that he had changed forms. He even had a different type of magic coursing through him.>

64.   <My instincts took over, I attacked as soon as I could, for only surprise could win the day. But in this case there would be no surprise, for he would have years to anticipate. As the decades rolled on and our bodies slowly began to clash, well I had much time to think about it. Malgad must have learned many magic forms. There was no doubt in my mind that he had reformed into a style of magic that would easily counter the first form. I was going to die.>

65.   <He even dropped his sword giving me the false satisfaction of hope. His body began to glow. I had committed too soon and there was no turning back.>

66.   <And then a strange thing occurred. Thousands of white shards appeared from nowhere, attacking in real time, the Malgad beast.> A thrill entered my chest as I turned to see who was dancing amidst them, but I didn’t need to turn for long. A blurring form appeared before me, standing over me in defiant protection.

67.   It was Yewna! She had returned and, somehow, she had learned the magic of bending water. {What can I say, even a brave white knight needs a little saving every now and again.}

Part 7

68.   Malgad was being attacked with all the water magic that Yewna could conjure up. She was moving at normal speed and we were almost like statues. Time began to speed up in a normal way as Malgad fell to the floor. It was over. Yewna had saved us, and somehow, she had become… magical. Other things happened after this, things that I will get into soon, but first I asked Yewna for an explanation, something that she promised she would give. {And I will give it now.}

69.   {But first let us explain our reunion. It had been so long.} Yes, I have learned much patience. {Just to hold you, to be with you at last!} The pain from my wound disappeared at your touch. {That is because I healed it.} Your love has healed a great many things. I felt alive and renewed with every kiss you gave. {You gave a few your own.} Yes, I was very happy to see you.

70.   Time slowed down here in Yewna. It slowed down to a crawl. It was like it would never end. And, watching my doomed self, feeling the gnawing pain as that monster’s sword pierced through me. {I saw it all in real time, and it pained me greatly that I could do nothing to help and heal you, not until the time was right.} It must have been agony watching me almost dying in slow-motion.

71.   {I knew you wouldn’t die, but I also knew it was necessary to learn all that I could before showing up. Oh Nynombir, you have to believe me. I could see the future in this book. Malgard was too powerful for us. Slowing time was the only way.} You, slowed down time? {Nearly a hundred years have passed, but we do not age in the Parallels. Perhaps an hour or two has passed in the real world.} Each minute felt agonizingly longer and longer. Only thoughts of you kept me going.

72.   {I saw the inevitable sword moving towards you. I tried to move in and save you from that sword. You wouldn’t have been able to see me. But I couldn’t move anything, and so I brushed my lips against yours, they felt like marble for, time is still so strong that even when you slow it down, nothing can be changed. I kissed your marble lips and left.}

73.   Where did you go? {I left these pages in search of a way to beat Malgard, and I found it, a deepwell of magic once used by the Wards.} Where was such a place? {I flipped the pages backwards, back across the Endless Desert.}

74.   {I maneuvered through the woodlands between the desert and Shattered Kingdom.}

75.   {Then, I flipped back a thousand years and found… all that we had lost.}

76.   Ronalee! You found Ronalee! What could you possibly have found there? I mean, you said yourself that things can be seen in the Parallels but not changed. {Yes. But seeing was all that I needed to do.}

77.   {I traveled to the Keep of Wards and I observed their training.} And this is how you learned to cast magic? Couldn’t they see you?

78.   {Some of them might have caught glimpses of me. I was no more than a haunting dream.} I’m so jealous. {What for?} That even in your hauntings those Wards could catch fleeting glimpses of your beauty. {You have me know, forevermore.} I would have waited another hundred years if that’s what it took. {Nyn. I saw my great grandfather!}

79.   Flodnag! {He was very different as a younger gentleman, very driven, even kind at times. There was a moment where it appeared like he saw right at me. His eyes lit up… but then he shook his head doubting what was in fact right before him.} I’m sure he had known. {That is why we must find Gladius and leave this place. So we can go back for real and tell him. We must warn him of the evil witch that he loved.}

80.   {For years I haunted the place, reading over student’s shoulders… writing as much as I could on my private journal that I always kept with me.} I never knew that you kept a journal. I must read it sometime. {Not in your life! In any case, the journal was used for note taking. I must learn of a way to defeat Malgard.}

81.   {I practiced magic of all types. From water to that of flame. But I knew that I couldn’t keep this going forever. I could only use the book to slow down time. It could never be stopped.}

82.   {I had set a clock to tell me when it was time for me to return. I was in mid thought, learning the magical properties of healing when the clock chimed thrice.}

83.   {I wasn’t even sure if I’d learned enough. I saw he was in the form of a fire. Ice was all I could think to do.}

84.   It was enough Yewna. It was enough. You will always be enough for me. Don’t be sad dearest one. Rest now. I will always hold you. {Oh Nyn! Yevnwen be praised! All this waiting… all this work. Will it be worth it?} Every second we spend together tells me that it will.

Part 8

85.   That explanation means a lot to me. I’m so blessed to be so loved… that you would literally stop time just to save my life. {I only slowed it down. I was going to tell you all of this at the time but…} <Malgad wasn’t quite dead.>

86.   His form grew into this grotesque monster. {I remember learning about this when taking the testings, something about a form rebirth.} <Morph reborn.> {That’s it!} You took the testings? {How else was I to know if I had learned enough to save you?} Did you pass? {Um… I did great on elemental and healing, but failed the darkening spells section.} <You mean, reckoning spells vexing.> {Yes, something Malgad seems to excel at.}

87.   <My Mimicry was wearing off, little by little. It would not have helped much anyways.> I was still healing from the wound.

88.   {And so, it was up to me.} You seemed so calm at that moment. {I knew that we weren’t going to die.} Why was that? {Oh, I can’t believe I forgot to tell you! There was one single person back in Ronalee who recognized me!} Who else did you know back then? {I’ll give you a hint… he watched over the sheep.} You saw Him!

89.   {I saw the Shepherd! He was speaking near the Keep of Wards. At one point in his sermon he looked right into my eyes and said a single phrase, “Stand still and know that I am Yevnwen.”}

90.   Did you witness the hanging? {I wasn’t there, but I heard the others talking about it. Flodnag was not very kind to him. He actually kicked him while the Shepherd was being led to the tree.}

91.   {Malgad was growing into this giant of a monster now. All I could think about was standing firm as the Shepherd had said.} I wish I had known. I would have stood beside. {The Shepherd had not given you the words. He had not given you the strength of heart… to have faith.} Even when that monster drew up a ball of lightning you stood still. {I had a strange acceptance about it. Whatever the All God wanted, I would do as He told me.}

92.   {It was a flicker of time as the lightning came.} Why didn’t you slow down the time again? {Honestly, it just slipped my mind, and in any case, slowing down time was not what Yevnwen told me to do.} The flicker came and I saw her, just a glimpse.

93.   {It was a sprightly young lady. She appeared from nowhere, right before the bolt was to strike me. She took the bolt head on.}

94.   She lit up the sky with her own presence. {She was unscorched. Her skin was pristine. There was no denying it.} She was a Light Elf.

Part 9

95.   Malgad seemed to grow in size at the sight of the Light Elf. He sent torrents of raining fire at her and at us. Nothing so much as singed us.

96.   At one point, Malgad seemed to give up. The elf looked perplexed and said, “So, this is sin?” This made the monstrous beast even angrier!

97.   {He transformed into another form and charged into the Light Elf.}

98.   Not a single strike would move her. There was no barrier of protection surrounding her, no deflective magic or anything… she just seemed to be made of sterner stuff. {There was a flower bed being trampled upon as Malgad attacked her again and again. She picked up one of the flowers and placed it in her hari. I could have sworn the monster’s sword hit the flower as he tried a third time to cleave her head. Not a single petal moved.}

99.   And then, in a blink, we were all teleported before the magical tree. Someone was singing the most beautiful tune.

100.                       The apparition of Flodnag appeared in a panic. “There is a new thief here! A new thief. He is NOT a Ward and won’t even consider my tests!”

101.                       The singing stopped. Oh how my heart ached to hear that song. {A very tall man elf appeared from around the tree. With a flick of the wrist the Apparition was gone. The girl Light Elf danced up to the man elf, “Brother! I fetched them. Just as you requested!”}

102.                       Malgad was transforming into another form when…

103.                       {The male Light Elf didn’t even face the monster. He just gave his sister a hug and flicked his wrist at Malgad.}

104.                       The beast was engulfed in a blue flame. His agony of screams went on for some time. The Light Elf spoke, a commanding voice over the scream, “Such are the end result to those whose pursue power for power’s sake.”

105.                       At the end, a white cloak was all that remained. The female elf walked tentatively towards it. She frowned at her brother, “You didn’t…” Her brother scoffed at her, “I would never.” “But,” She replied, “You caused him suffering.” “The only suffering he felt was in the draining of his powers.” “Brother, you are stepping dangerously close to a fall.” He shrugged his shoulders. “Yevnwen asked me to bring an order to this book.”

106.                       The white cloth moved. A Child of Draco arose. <It was Malgad as he once was, as I remember him before his lust for power took hold.>

Part 10

107.                       Dwindl walked up to the Child of Draco. “Malgad? You have been set free.”

108.                       There was only malice in the draco’s eyes. “Mmmmagic wasssss freedommm.” The draco began to walk away from the tree. Dwindl was about to follow when the male Light Elf said, “Let him go. He can do no more harm. “But,” Dwindl said, “I can make sure.” He pulled out a blade.” The Elf gave the Purrian a piercing look. “You think that killing him will help with things? Oh sinful world!”

109.                       The female began to tear up. “How long will these sinful creatures abide in their sickness? How long oh Lord must we watch them suffer and cause it?” The Light Elves wept silently. We all felt a heaviness. I thought of every person and creature that I had killed. It weighed heavily upon me… the sin in their hearts that forced me to defend my kin. The sin in my heart that caused me to respond with wrath.

110.                       {I too thought of my part in killing. Golem-master Visron would have murdered thousands more had I not destroyed him. But, there was an old vagabond when I had first joined in with Flodnag. He wanted to steal the crest around my neck. ‘Ol Hax the Flea they called him. We got into a tussle. He was really just a foolish old thief and I easily overpowered him. I… I threw him overboard the airship. His scream still haunts me.}

111.                       The male Light Elf walked towards the tree, “But we knew this didn’t we sister. We knew such power would be used for good and evil when we handed it to the humans as a gift against the War of Lurks. The Wards were a season of powerful magicians. With this power they saved all sentient beings.”

112.                       “And what of the dragons?” The female responded. “They were meant to tame them with our spells… not enslave them!”

113.                       “Yes.” He responded. We have given a sick people incredible powers so that they might defeat a sicker people.” {He looked right through me. “Perhaps, others of that family will change this.” I bowed my head in shame for my family’s misuse of such power. “Do not bow in shame to me, daughter of the crescent. It wasn’t I you sinned against. Bow to the Shepherd forced to die because of your sickness.”}

114.                       {When I looked up, I saw him smiling kindly at me. “There was a time when we Light Elves sought to reform you from your ways. Many a moonlit night I sang to your people of the lost light you’d had after the fall. I sang the first couple’s entrance into the Warp. How the Purrian race grew proud in staying out of the Warp and in that pride over the All God had a fall of their own.” He gave his sister a knowing look.}

115.                       She held her head low, “Are they really prepared then? Must I leave this book?” Her brother nodded, “You have kept Malgad and Gladiolus hidden in here long enough. Yevnwen’s desire is for us to free them. Gladius must aid these travelers.” “But the warp!” “It is not for us to direct them… and God can use even the fallen things to right a wrong. Sister. Yevnwen has chosen these three. It is not for us to ask why.”

116.                       It appeared like the lady elf was ripping a page. From a hidden tear in the book… an unassuming man came through. He stared at us for a long time. “I present to you.” The male elf said, “Gladius the Paradox.”

Part 11

117.                       We didn’t really have time to make our acquaintance with Gladius before the Light Elf sent us out of the book. Even Malgad wasn’t spared. He seemed a bit surprised trying to cover his face with his cloak. We let him sneak away with what little dignity he had left.

118.                       We were back in the normal world standing before the normal version of the Tree of Life which gave magic to the book. {I could already feel the magic I had learned dampening a bit. It was suddenly lonesome.} I noticed the few tears in your eyes and pulled you in. {Thanks for that!} I will always pull you in. {I know.}

119.                       Gladius’ wife sat on her throne expectantly. “It’s about time!” She complained. “You have been gone for nearly an hour’s time!” She didn’t even glance at the Light Elves. {That’s how long 100 years have passed in the book vs the world.} She gave her husband a sweet smile. “And it seems that you’ve found my coward of a husband.”

120.                       “No thanks to you!” Gladius retorted. “The deal was for me to stay in the book… hidden in New Cirt. It was to stay that way for all eternity. Your safety depended on it. Now that I am free…”

121.                       “We took the deal to buy us time. Now that you have spent thousands of years in the Book of the Wards, you surely have found a spell or something to defeat Anubis.”

122.                       The sulking Gladius folded his shoulders. “I wasn’t allowed to open a single book of magic! There was a very annoying apparition there who kept attempting to test me as a Ward. I fought along the Wards during the War of Lurks but in all of my studies I have never been able to use magic. It was a foolish plan, doomed from the beginning.”

123.                       The female elf said, “Should we tell them brother?” The brother stepped in and said, “You were not sent into the book to find a solution. You were sent in to buy us some time.” “Until when?” Gladius asked. “Until the granddaughter of Flodnag was granted access to all the Book of Wards has to offer.”

124.                       He handed Yewna the Book of Wards. “You were the key all along Yewna. Only you had the fortitude and patience to learn what was needed to defeat Anubis.” “Why was Malgad allowed to enter?” “My sister kept Malgad from leaving the book, but he was to give you an incentive to learn what you needed.”

125.                       “So, you used us.” I asked. The elf was surprised. “Are you not human made in the image of Yevnwen?” I nodded uncomfortably. “He uses us all to his ends and for his glory. Great hardships are a must when learning the deeper things of the All God. The Shephard knew that Yewna would do anything to save you.” I was taken aback by this. The elf almost laughed. “Are you really that blind!” “Blind to what?”

126.                       “Can’t you see it in her eyes, even and, especially in the ways she doesn’t look at you? She loves you boy! She loves you with a fire we Light Elves have rarely seen among mortals. She spent a hundred years learning spells just to save your life and be with you. And now, this great and very true love is going to open a way to defeat one the greatest foes of our time…”

127.                       “And to write the wrongful paradox that began with this fool… wherever he has gone off to.” Gladius returned with a new set of clothes. We were all staring at him. “What do you expect. I’ve been wearing rags for thousands of years.”

128.                       “Some things are coming.” Dwindl said. “I can smell it.”

129.                       We heard footsteps running up the stairs. It was Retgard the Servantless who was panting after a jog, something he didn’t seem dressed or suitable for. After gathering himself up he said as calmly as he could. “Anubis armies have arrived.”

Part 12

130.                       A shadowy darkness fell over the throne of the magical tree. Retgard looked nervous, “That’s interesting.” He said. “What?” I asked. “Well, in the upper tiers of Xixis the weather is profoundly controlled. I haven’t seen dark clouds since I entered this place well over 5,000 years ago.” Dwindl sniffed the wind and then grunted. “Those aren’t clouds.” He said with finality.

131.                       Shrill winds entered through those below us. The noblemen were in panic. They’d only heard tales of the armies of Anubis, but he had always been on their side. They were his chosen ones.

132.                       The winds flowed through everyone sending chills. {I fell into your arms.} Usually such a thing would be a happy accident. {Oh, it was a genuine fall, but I also sort of nudged myself a bit.} Does nothing faze you? {Watching you almost die in the book…} I’m so glad the wait is over. {Even if we had ended at that point with those chilly winds?}

133.                       Even so, it was worth it. Feeling the chills of death did put a fire in the bosom. {A fire for what?} Well, my mother’s ring on your finger wasn’t put there for nothing! {Oh no? What ever shall we do?} I’ll think of something; I’m sure. {That’s what did it.}

134.                       {That was enough for me to prepare for battle and see another day!} Yes, a day when all this fighting and waiting will be over and we can finally begin the greatest adventure of all. {What would that be?} Creating a family.

135.                       The deadly mists formed into a dark wolf in the clouds. Golden streams fell out of the eyes. It was death himself. {Anubis.}

136.                       His misty muzzle opened. His voice was a haunting whisper loudly heard by all. Every word was a dread. “YOU HAVE DESTROYED MY KULLING AND BROKEN THE DEAL. NOW YOU WILL FACE MY ARMIES. I WILL BE WAITING AT THE PEAK OF XIXIS WHEN THEY ARE THROUGH WITH YOU.”

137.                       Then we heard the shrill screams of a thousand thousand tongues. {I held on for dear life.} Now you are frightened? {Frightened of losing you.} We will make it. {I know that know, but then, well there were so many!}

138.                       Retgard the Servantless said, “For thousands of years the Doctor has worked for Anubis… stealing souls and building his armies.” {I was a bit frustrated at this. It seemed so pointless. “Why!” I asked.} Retgard bowed his head, “It is always the same thing with beings who search to be as powerful as the All God. Conquest.” “Of our world?” I asked. “No, the Universe. Anubis, like Draco, wants it all.”

139.                       {The male elf looked towards me. “It is time to show them what you’ve learned.” I shook my head, “I couldn’t even pass all of the tests.” The elf’s laughter was like a beam of light cutting into a darkened wood. “And what magics did you fail?” “Those of the dark arts.” The elf pointed to the tree and bid me to look.}

140.                       {I saw it as it was in the book, bright and luminous. “Do you see any darkness there?” The elf asked. “No, but the testings from the apparition of Flodnag.” “The first Wards were given this tree as a gift. They went astray in search of darker things. It was never Yevnwen’s plan for them. You are the last Ward and the purest form of it. Now tell me, what sorts of magic did you master?”}

141.                       {“I learned how to harness the elements, and-” I held out my wand and conjured streams of light. “I also learned how to heal sickness of the body and even the sickness of despair found in the heart.”} Now I understand it. {Understand what?} Ever since your return… my heart has grown fuller. {You mean to tell me that you’ve been living in despair all of this time?} It comes in waves, stressful anxious waves. All God has chosen you to help me heal.

142.                       {The Light Elf gave me a knowing look. “That is precisely what you need to know in order to be a Ward. May the All God grant you and yours victory in this battle.”} And without another word, the two Light Elves simply vanished.

143.                       Which caused quite a stir, I can tell you that! Everyone was shouting at once. We were all in a panic. I saw Yewna though, she had this knowing look in her eyes, so I quieted the crowd and told them to listen. {I gathered the healing magic into a ball and said, “Fear not. I know what I need to do now.”} Thus were the words of the Last Ward spoken. {So dramatic!} I was proud of you in that moment, for you seem to have found your calling. {Yes, I have.}

Part 13

144.                       The armies were a strange array of mummy creatures.

145.                       You the sand sifters, slithering monsters made from the corpses of swindling merchants.

146.                       Hulking golem stomps. These were men focused on strength above all else. The Doctor used surprisingly similar techniques as the golem master to make them.

147.                       Then there were the Vanities, women whose focus was too much on their appearance. Now transformed into pristinely bandaged mummies of decay.

148.                       Snake charmer mummies also made an appearance.

149.                       Wizard mummies… whose deals with Anubis had gone terribly wrong.

150.                       And at the front of it all, dark Paladins with way more power then the one I had barely defeated.

151.                       {Anubis had almost 50,000 years to prepare for this. These armies were but a scratch of the pain and anguish he could cause. The only way was to go back and set things right.} Yes! We must return for Ronalee as well as Xixis. {And the world.} Yes… the world. What do you need from us? {Hold them back as long as you can!}

152.                       Done.

153.                       Dwindl shot with the power of a hundred arrow-men.

154.                       Gladius drew in swords from the warp to impale the zombie hoards. {I thought he couldn’t use magic?} The warp isn’t magic… remember? {How could I have forgotten! Flodnag and his kind said it all the time back at the Keep!}

155.                       His wife bent water, sending floods upon floods.

156.                       No matter how many we killed or flooded… they just got right back up running strait towards us.

157.                       {It was my turn!}

158.                       Yewna gathered all of her healing magic together. She seemed to tap into the magical tree. Magical beings appeared like white doves and butterflies. They formed into cloud-sized swarms and upon her command… rushed through the zombies. {There is only one cure for undeath… that of abundant life.}

Part 14

159.                       The abundant life spell rushed through the hordes of zombies, severing the connection of animated limbs. Without a soul attached, the empty husks would simply fall to the floor.

160.                       Abundant life also put order back to the servants whose souls were stuck in an eternal limbo attached to their nobles. The servants were freed to pass on into the warp.

161.                       A great silence was felt across the golden city. The air was sandy and smelt a bit stale. A soft moaning drew up from the people who had lost their spirit slaves. This grew to a deep and utterly loud sort of wailing.

162.                       Retgard the Servantless said, “And so those who used other souls as slaves must weep deeply, for the severing and loss of them must be painful indeed.”

163.                       The one thing about war is that it is so very draining which makes us suddenly very hungry. The local marketplace seemed almost untouched by the zombies. Somewhere handing out food for free. We made it a point to pay for ours.

164.                       Yewna gave the last of the money she had to a poor beggar girl. Retgard told me as an aside. “That young lady is the daughter of one of the most powerful families in the golden city. How depressed she looks. I remember her as a very wicked little brat, especially cruel to the souls attached to her. If Yewna only knew.” “I think Yewna would still reach out and help the girl. It is her way and I believe she is beginning to understand… her calling.”

165.                       Yewna bumped into me. {I was ready to fix the airship and move on.} You told me something of the sort.

166.                       Not long after um, a few words of my own. {Kisses, they were kisses.} Which is worth a thousand words. {Tell me, what sort of practical things did your kisses tell me?} That I was very proud of what you did with your new magic sense and that I was lucky to be your man. {Fair enough.} Well, after this wordless dialog of smacking lips, an amazing thing appeared in the sky.

167.                       {Grandon flew over us with Dwindl, Grimton, Retgard, Gladius, his wife, and the crew already inside. “There you are!” Grimton shouted from the deck, “Smacking your lips when we’ve got us a wolf to go hunting.” Nyn asked how they had repaired the ship as we boarded. Grimton huffed, “Don’t be daft now. Do you think we were doing nothing while you were off having another adventure?”}

168.                       The dwarf was stroking his beard as we flew high above the city. His eyes twinkled with a hidden smile, “There was something I was meaning to tell you now, something big has happened.” Before Yewna could ask I noticed something strange swarming below us.

169.                       It was the worms. Without the zombie guards keeping them at bay, they would overcome the golden city. “Let them.” Retgard said in distain. “Slave-holders deserve such an end.” I did not think so, in fact we have all failed the All God in our own way. I gave Yewna a look which she returned. I was a dragon slayer after all, why not add worms to my kill-score. I was about to jump down when Grimton took my shoulder. “Oh yes! Now I remember!”

170.                       The dwarf pointed to a great white dragon hanging over the cliffs. {It was my dragon fully grown!} But how? {I am her master which means that she is always connected to me. Perhaps while I was in the book.} Grimton grinned, “I can’t explain it. In about an hour’s time your wee little dragon exploded into this. She was a great help at finding spare parts for Grandon, and for protecting us from the worms.”

171.                       {I connected to her mentally. I didn’t even have to say what was on my mind for she knew me well… There was a fresh sense of wisdom from her, something she must have gained from me when I was in the book studying magic for a hundred years. She leapt off of the cliff and attacked the charging worms until they were all burnt into cinders.}

172.                       She then came to us on our airship. {I could tell that Grandon and her had grown incredibly close over these last few days. She hovered nearby, changing from white to gray.} So, she still retained her ability to shift colors! Brilliant! {I pet her snout as the airship moved higher up.} Grimton was boring me with the specifics of finding a fallen airship that had the capacity to fly to the tip of Xixis. Ours was retrofitted for the final journey to Anubis.

Part 15

173.                       Yewna asked Grimton what sorts of modifications were made to Grandon while he was away. “Oh a little bit of warp-crust plating and some bubble domes we lifted from a sub.”

174.                       “Can you believe that? They had a giant sub near the water lakes. The lakes did look very deep, but I had no time to explore!” {I had no idea what he was talking about.} Subs are a type of sandwich… I think. Grimton continued saying, “Yeah, we don’t know what stresses the warp will put on the domes, but we’ll find out soon enough huh?” “Well,” I countered, “First we have to defeat Anubis.”

175.                       “Anubis?” Gladius said in disdain. “How can you kill death? Even a paladin such as yourself would meet a very evil fate.”

176.                       “Yes,” I assured him. “I almost met that fate when killing a dark Paladin.” “How did you escape?” “All God knows. Yewna was there… and with Yevnwen’s help she sort of talked me out of it.”

177.                       “Talked you out of a curse of death?” Gladius saw Yewna in a new light, “Perhaps, there is hope in her.” “Hope in the Shephard,” I corrected, “Doesn’t matter how you shape the words; the Shepherd’s power resides in her. He has chosen her. Or, she’s just a natural wizard being half-elf and all.” I smiled, “Not much of a believer, are you?” Gladius shrugged, “When your companion has been Death… there is no other.”

178.                       “How did you meet him, Death I mean?” Gladius gave me a dry look, “I’m sure you’ve heard my Chronicles. How does it go Beggar of Cirt the Xixis Fool?” “Oh, I’ve heard that, and the journal that Flodnag acquired.” Gladius smiles crassly, “Yeah, those are pretty much accurate. But have you ever heard what happened next? I’m talking of course about how the wolf and I developed Xixis to begin with.”

179.                       Yewna folded into my arms as Gladius began his tale. “Almost 50,000 years ago I entered into these parts through a Lurk. I had one book and a strange star creature to keep me company. Little did I know that the powerful Book of Wards would be useless away from its Tree of Life. But the book was how she tracked me down.” He gave Yewna an appraising look. “You have your great grandmother’s look, just a bit more kind around the eyes.”

180.                       “When Flodnag visited me a few hundred years ago, he described her to me. Beautiful Kanoa with fire in her eyes. And oh, what is more! What Konoa actually did.”

181.                       “Only she could tame the giants and turn them against Ronalee.” “Yes,” I said, “And that is precisely what we aim to correct.”

Part 16

182.                       Gladius continued his story. “I remember entering this place so long ago. There was nothing here. I told the star wolf that we would need an eternity to make something of this place. He bowed his head my way and simply said, ‘done’.” From that point on I haven’t aged, and neither has anyone entering Xixis. It can be a type of paradise to exist forever, and that is what we aimed to create.”

183.                       “It began with a seed. The star wolf had called it a living stone taken from somewhere in the Warp. As we were cultivating the seed well, that’s when the first paradox giants immerged.”

184.                       “Messengers from the All God who didn’t like us messing with the timing of things. They destroyed everything… even the seed. But, it grew back.”

185.                       “The wolf, fascinated with all things of the moon, which translated to all things pertaining to death, used the brilliant mind of a Doctor to create an army of undead.”

186.                       “It wasn’t enough.”

187.                       “Still, our paradise would not be stopped. Our seed grew again.”

188.                       “Then she came with fire in her eyes. Kanoa changed everything. I even thought that I had loved her at one point. She had that type of effect.” Of course, I don’t think I need to remind you that I go for women of a nicer sort… and prettier of course. Like Grimton but much more. Where are you going? {I just realized that I had left my shoes in my bedroom.}

189.                       {While Nyn the Daft goes to clean his head wound, I’ll finish writing down what Gladius said.} That really hurt! {Gladius continued with his story, “Just like Nynombir saw in his dream, Kanoa defeated the head giant.”

190.                       “She took the others back with her to Ronalee. It’s my fault the kingdom shattered. Without the giants the war would have gone a different way and millions of lives would not have been destroyed.”

191.                       “At the time, I thought nothing of it. The giants were gone and we could create our paradise where no one would ever die and we would rule forever. Our seed grew into a frame.”

192.                       “Our frame filled out into a spire worthy of its name, Xixis, which means pleasant tower in the local language.”

193.                       “Now it has grown for tens of thousands of years to encompass a country, reaching even into the Warp. There is a saying that you can see the All God’s mansion at the tip of Xixis, and you will find it slightly lower. Such was the greed of man and all the great ones who entered lived forever. The local peoples were used as our slaves, and I was the center of it all.”

194.                       “When Flodnag appeared a few hundred years ago, with his fleet of ships… I had thought he was about to cause a war. It was then that I learned how Kanoa had used the giants. I was enraged. I sent them back into the Draco Valley to meet their end… I was a fool. But 50,000 years does give you time to think.”

195.                       “I did everything under the sun… and found that nothing satisfied. All my desires were met, I worked hard in labor, in books, in pleasure. I had thousands of slaves. Nothing mattered, until one of them dared to defy me.”

196.                       {“Ezaran showed me that I could be a better man. I married her in defiance of the wolf. We refused slaves. Ours was a peaceful protest of sorts. The wolf took most of my possessions. I didn’t care. A good woman can do that you know… she can change the very fabric of a man’s passions and desires. She can turn his heart from bitterness and draw it into light.”} Yes, this is very true. I’ve learned from you Yewna, I’ve learned how to feel and breathe again.

197.                       {“Anubis was less than happy about our disruption to his paradise. He almost killed us all, but a strange thing took place. A magical tree began to form in my villa, and the Book of Wards that I had stolen was active again. Somehow the tree had emerged.”}

198.                       Seeds from this tree created many other schools of magic, most of which reside in New Cirt. But none are as powerful as Yewna’s book. Anubis, who had become Death itself, could not come near a Tree of Life. So, we made a compromise. I was to be banished in the book, which was to be lost in New Cirt. In return my little rebellious few could live near the Tree of Life on some forgotten corner of the least of Anubis’ famed Golden Cities.”

199.                       Yewna’s dragon let out a soft moan as she glided through the clouds like an ethereal spirit. “What is it now?” Grimton asked. Yewna grabbed my arm and said…

200.                       “We are here!” Indeed… we had arrived at the very tip of Xixis. “How will we defeat him?” Yeana asked me. I suggested she use the Abundant Life spell. {Nyn has left now. I didn’t have the heart to tell him. Ever since we left the Tree, my powers have been growing less and less. I just can’t see how we will prevail without the Tree of Life to draw from.”}

Part 17

201.                       It was another world at Xixis’ peak. The pointy stones of the living stone seed were as large as mountains. Everything was desolate as the grave. “This place used to thrive with cities and commerce.” Gladius said. “Anubis never was one for creating things… I guess it suits his palace. After I left, nothing but ruins.”

202.                       We traveled for miles… and at last stumbled upon some sort of civilization.

203.                       The people were rich, noble, and gaunt as if they hadn’t eaten in days. They gawked at the airship as if it were something new. “I don’t suppose these worshipers of death have left this place in thousands of years.” Gladius surmised.

204.                       “Before we land.” Yewna said. “Let me empower your weapons. She took my sword and added a hollowed sort of glow to it. {I gave it a plant life spell. Anything it touched would sprout with flowers and vines.} Yes, I figured this out while using it. Why that spell? {I sensed so much death here. Didn’t you realize how the place was lacking in plant and tree life?} How did it work against Death’s followers? {Life is the only poison against death.}

205.                       Yewna also enchanted Dwindl’s bow. “And what of you my lady?” The Purrian asked.

206.                       “I have my book.” Yewna said.

207.                       Yewna’s dragon gave a snort. “Oh yes! And of course I have you!” Yewna corrected.

208.                       The people of this place were strange. They moved like ghosts, seemingly floating above as they walked. But they weren’t the spirits we had seen before. Nearby street lights showed them to be a solid folk, if not overly pale. Gladius was also pale but for a different reason, “I can’t believe he did it?” He would say to himself.

209.                       We passed a man who played a unique instrument. Whatever he played came to life, this included Yewna’s dragon. The real dragon gazed at the mirage. She puffed a blast of hot air. The fake dragon dissipated into butterflies.

210.                       Then we turned a corner and saw an unnerving scene. A lone female with skin as white as the moon. “Nice dragon.” She said as her eyes turned red. The painting behind her came to life. What was once a pleasant landscape became a gruesome scene of a dark, bird-like monster attacking a white dragon until it tore the limbs off the beast and pinned it to the frame. And then it fell out of the frame.

211.                       Yewna’s dragon was suddenly pinned to the ground, captured by a strange, ropy mist. “Use your sword!” Yewna commanded me. I’ll see to freeing the dragon. “It’s just as I thought.” Gladius said as the pale woman opened her mouth and hissed at us. “Anubis had been testing with undead things for so long he finally made ones that were sentient.”

212.                       “We called them vampires.”

Part 18

213.                       They surrounded us then, never hearing of the monsters. Gladius didn’t have time to brief us. All I could hear was him mumbling about the sun. I asked what he meant. “The clouds,” He said, “Covering the sun on purpose no doubt. Our early experiments couldn’t stand the day.” {I took note of that.}

214.                       One of them stepped out. {And I was nudging you to use your sword.} I had no foe close enough without being mobbed myself. I knew these creatures were fast, I could feel it. {I just meant to hit the ground.} Well I know that now don’t I. Gladius faced the leader. “What happened to the cities? Millions used to live at the peak of Xixis. The leadr flashed us his sharp teeth and said, “Anubis gave them to us for food.”

215.                       I felt a whisper… so soft and obvious. It was a female voice. She told me to stab my sword into the ground. {Like I was just telling you to do! The forest spell needs a conduit. I didn’t have the Tree of Life to feed off of.} So you wanted to use my Living Elemental powers, brilliant. The moment my sword’s tip hit the ground… life began to sprout in this dying land.

216.                       {I cast what magic I could into the sky.}

217.                       The clouds began to disperse.

218.                       The sun began to burn. {As did the vampires.}

219.                       Plant life spread every which way. {Even some of the buildings began to sprout.} I bet it has to do with the spell’s effect upon the living stone of Xixis. {The hoard of vampires were dead in seconds.}

220.                       The sky was clean and sunny again.

221.                       {The city was bright and vibrant, full of life!} And love. {Yes… it was so lovely that we almost forgot why we had come.} Almost.

222.                       The ominous cry of a beast swept the land. Our world was swallowed into darkness. {Two golden waterfalls appeared in the sky.}

223.                       {These became the golden tears of the wolf who came from the stars and became Anubis and Death itself.} “What have you done?” The wolf asked with an annoying whisper in every ear. “My children of the moon! My noble inheritors of my Death March across the cosmos.” He seemed very perturbed, sad even. {Gladius mentioned that he’d never seen Anubis so worked up. “I guess,“ he told me, “I guess he really did love those vampires as his own.”}

224.                       Anubis filled the sky with his massive face. {He could have eaten us in one gulp.} He almost did but something grand happened!

225.                       “A magical Tree of Life appeared in the sky between us and our foe!”

226.                       {It was the very same Tree of Life used to make the Book of Wards… I could feel it!} Two bright beings stepped from outside of the tree.

227.                       {It was the Light Elves! I thought they had abandoned us!} “What did you think we were doing?” They asked, “Running away?”

228.                       The male looked at Yewna and told her, “You know what to do, for though we cannot be affected by death, we also cannot directly affect it ourselves.”

229.                       {And so, I cast the Abundant Life spell.} And Death was… dead? {You cannot destroy something the All God himself ordained. For, only through death can a final redemption of his saints be met.}

230.                       {Anubis was merely banished back into the Warp… put in his place. He cannot enter our world again, unless invited back.} That seems pretty easily done. {Well, the All God also made him mute.} That might help keep him with the darker things, which is where he truly belongs.

231.                       {The female Light Elf leapt and danced about as the sun radiated across the tip of Xixis. I ran up to her and we danced together in the field. “Isn’t this exciting?” She asked me. I nodded me head in glee, unable to speak at such joy of overcoming all of this Death! “I’m not talking about overcoming Death, though that was pretty cool as well.” She could read my mind? I thought about this now.}

232.                       {“Yes, I can read minds!” She said, “And I see in them thoughts upon thoughts of your Nynombir.”}

233.                       {She was incredibly right about that! I had dropped my book in all this grittiness. The elf picked it up and handed it to me. “Go to him!” she said. And I went.}

234.                       The male elf and I had a different sort of conversation. {What did he tell you so quietly?} Oh nothing much just how important Yevnwen thought of marriage. Which reminds me…

235.                       Would you {Yes!} like to {Yes!} get {YES!} Mar…

Part 19

236.                       <The wedding was simple and amazing to behold. The bride and groom met under the night sky. The only light produced was our candles held. Twinkling flames danced beneath the starry sky.>

237.                       <Sir Nynombir called me best man. He wore a dashing uniform borrowed by the male elf. It changed according to his mood. At the moment he seemed confident and deeply in love, like a long-waited hope at last realized and gushing out of his bosom like spring of life. He met me before the altar.>

238.                       <The female Light Elf was at that altar singing a song drenched with powerful yearnings. My soul ached at the sonorous tune as her melody lilted and dipped into the divine. My heart broke a thousand times. I thought for joy of Yewna and Nyn’s happiness when they finally met. Whatever trials we would face in the Warp, at least we had this moment of true love felt and met.>

239.                       <My wild thoughts went unbidden towards my own beloved Ardona, a love I had given up for this cause. It amazed me how much grief I felt then… it had been locked and hidden away. I even began to cry. Nyn pretended not to notice. Oh, Ardona… where are you?>

240.                       <Gladius stood there stoic-like, heart hardened by pain unimaginable and costly. He appeared to be impatient and longing for us to enter the Warp and right his many wrongs. He had even considered canceling the wedding to do this. The elves insisted on the wedding. It held a meaning beyond the mission at hand.>

241.                       <“Two hearts becoming one is the very reason we are fighting to change the past.” The male elf said, “How could we falter now at seeing this true love met?” “It won’t matter!” Gladius shouted. “Once we change the past… these two might not even met.” There was a fire seen in the light Elf’s Eyes. “Marriage vows matter to Yevnwen. What He places together, let no man or thing separate. This includes the confines of time.”>

242.                       <Gladius dutiful wife, Ezaran, had reprimanded her husband until she was blue in the face. Luckily Yewna and Nyn were not in the room for that discussion. She stood beside Gladius wearing a curiously joyful grin.>

243.                       <Suddenly, the mood of joy seemed to diminish a bit. It took me a few seconds to realize that it had to do with the female Elf’s song. She had stopped singing. The spell of her lulling tune left an aching in my heart. The blood in my veins pulsed in anxious longings. The lady elf gave us her back and gazed at the stars. We followed our gaze and heard a tinkering like little bells which swelled into a thousand harmonious voices.>

244.                       <Even the stoic noblemen and swashbuckling airship crew could not hold back the tears.>

245.                       <Light Elves appeared in the sky and sang a glorious tune until it arose into a grand crescendo as…>

246.                       <…Yewna stepped out into the aisle. Nynombir dropped his jaw a bit at the sight of her. She wore a Light Elf’s dress that showed purity beyond. Even stars and sun could not match her brilliance! She walked down the aisle, such an incredible reminder of the All God’s profound beauty and joy. I have never seen any better icon of this then Yewna’s graceful dance towards her beloved Nynombir.>

247.                       <Grimton acted as Yewna’s father in giving her away. He was barely noticed before Yewna’s sunlit glory. It shimmered off the Dwarf’s armor like the moon’s reflection of fair sol. When he released her hand, Yewna nearly leapt towards her man.>

248.                       <Sir Nyn’s face softened as he beheld this lovely creature. I could tell that he was so unbelieving that this could happen. He was in shock over the joy of it. His uniform changed then, less confident and more of an awe-struck sort of blue.>

249.                       <Yewna returned Nyn’s look with one of demure determination. A thousand thoughts flew across her mind, each one aimed towards loving her man.>

250.                       <The male elf beheld a white rose. He placed it on the altar. “This rose signifies the immortal love of the All God towards all creation. This love is wild and untaimed. As the Great Shepherd once said, “I would leave my 99 sheep… just to chase the 1 that was left behind.” You are all the fallen sheep left behind. And we are the 99 left in awe at our Father’s great compassion over you. Marriage is symbol and a type of this love.”>

251.                       <”As is the custom of the Light Elves, I commanded that Yewna seek out a single white rose for her marriage.” The elf looked deeply into the eyes of Nyn. “I see now that she has chosen her rose wisely. Love her Nyn as the Shepherd loves his body of followers. And you dear Yewna… love this man and respect him as the Shephard’s followers respect Him.”>

252.                       <Yewna and Nyn said their vows quietly to each other. This was a private thing, something that only the lovers and the All God should hear. Her Elven dress was of the same style as Nyn’s uniform. It also changed to an awe-struck shade of blue.>

253.                       <The Light Elf’s hands and eyes began to glow then. His voice rose over the congregation as he proclaimed, “What the All God has put together, let no man or thing separate.” I sensed it then, he had cast a powerful spell, one that would cut through the very fabric of time and space. All of creation heard the words, and not a single person moved.>

254.                       <His eyes softened and a genuine warmth of the All God caressed our sense. “Yevnwen be praised! For a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife, and the two shall become one.” He grinned suddenly as he proclaimed at last, “At Sir Nyn’s request, because he was born without parents, he has taken on Yewna’s last name. And so, I present to you Lady Yewna and Sir Nynombir Crescentium. Long may they love!”>

255.                       <He was didn’t need to remind Nyn what to do next, for in one fell swoop, he gathered his beloved up into his arms and gave her a very long kiss.>

Part 20

256.                       After the kiss Lady Elf sang another song for us, this time accompanied with her harp. Yewna jabbed me in the ribs. {It was the song!} Yes, the song that Yewna had sang to me during our strange date through the Warp Storm. This time we understood the words. {My dragon flew down, beguiled by the enchanting tune.}

257.                       She sang of a warrior who traveled far across a forbidden desert, searching for a land to rest his feet.

258.                       After many moons, his eyes at last saw a brilliant white kingdom from afar. Every step towards it seemed to push it away. He gave chase to what he hoped wasn’t a mirage. After ten days of this he shouted to the fleeting vision of home. To his surprise, a woman’s forlorn voice responded. “Don’t come this way.” She said, But this only caused him to give chase even more. “This is not an easy path, but I see that there is no persuading you.” At last the kingdom stood still.

259.                       As he stepped closer, ghosts whispered in his ear to go back. He ignored them and continued on until something strange took place. The kingdom was enchanted to look beautiful. But as he drew in close, a horrible image of a flaming city took sight. It was like a painting though, for the flames were frozen in time.

260.                       An evil dragon slithered out of the frozen smoke. It was a trap, but the warrior was prepared for he had fought evil dragons before, none, however as gigantic as this one.

261.                       Yewna’s dragon gathered herself into a pouncing position aimed at me. {She was being playful of course.} I could sense it for I owned a cat once that took that very stance. I picked up a stick and pretended to attack as Lady Elf sang her tune.

262.                       Lady Elf moved behind Yewna’s dragon as she sang of a beautiful woman of raven hair behind the evil dragon. “It told you not to come.” She said. “Now you are trapped like so many others.” It was the voice of the kingdom.

263.                       {Hmm. The raven-haired woman? She sounds like a representation of your princess of dragons you were so fond of long ago.} Very very long ago I might have. {Was she prettier than me?} Really? You could have the ugliest wart on your cute little nose and she wouldn’t even hold a candle. {That seems unrealistic.} It’s true! You could have a sagging eye and a drooping chin and I would see you as prettier, because she is lacking the main ingredient.

264.                       {And what is that, pray tell?} What? The main ingredient of beauty? {I’m waiting!} Why isn’t it obvious? The main ingredient of achieving the most ideal beauty of all is simply… being you.

265.                       And so, the warrior from Lady Elf’s story charged the dragon and fought him with all of his might. They fought for many days, not one had marked the other. The warrior saw that no matter how much he exhausted himself, he never grew tired. All the while the damsel in distress was dancing. There was something to that dance though, for in a sudden turn of events the dragon turned invisible.

266.                       Yewna’s dragon hid in a nearby cave and I swatted at the air pretending to fight the invisible dragon. All the while, Lady Elf danced and sang the tune playing her part as the raven-haired princess.

267.                       The warrior was almost burnt into a crisp before he realized how the dance was meant to be an instruction to him. Whenever the lady moved left and the warrior followed suit, he felt the air beside him swoosh from the invisible claw of a dragon. The lady could see the dragon!

268.                       In this strange dance the warrior fought and dodged until the raven-haired lady motioned for him to strike up. His sword hit true, revealing the dragon at last. The dragon was about blow a flame upon him… but its heart gave out and it tumbled to the floor.

269.                       He walked towards the lady and was about to ask if she was alright. “We don’t have much time.” She said, “You must find the dark jewel within the dragon’s heart and destroy it.” He wanted to talk to her more but she read it in his eyes, “We are not meant to be.” She explained flatly.

270.                       Before the warrior could speak, the dragon arose again and swallowed him whole.

271.                       Yewna’s dragon leapt playfully out of the cave and curled around me. {The airship crew had a great laugh over this!}

272.                       Lady Elf’s song continued, speaking of how the warrior’s enchanted sword cut through the dragon in search of the dark jewel. He found it gleaming deep within.

273.                       A woman of extreme beauty emerged beside the jewel. She had the most beautiful red hair that could be imagined. Everyone looked at Yewna. Even the Lady Elf stopped her playing to get your attention. {I was enjoying the show so much I never even considered being in it.}

274.                       We all called your name so that you joined me in the center with your dragon wrapped around us. Shouts of kissing were heard from the nobles and the crew. {We did not disappoint them!}

275.                       The lady in the dragon spoke of how her father had once stolen a wizard’s dark jewel, which allowed for the bending of time. When the wizard asked for it back, the king took his daughter captive.

276.                       And so, the wizard turned into a dragon and laid waste to his kingdom. The king finally met the wizard with his daughter in trade for the wizard to leave what was left of his kingdom. He also brought the jewel and asked the wizard dragon to choose. This was very foolish for in the dragon’s wrath he saw the king’s daughter playing nearby. He swallowed her whole and the dark time jewel.

277.                       The dark time jewel was cracked which created a bubble around the kingdom. Anything caught in the bubble was frozen into the present. And so, the wizard was forever trapped to be a dragon. He did as best he could and protected his raven-haired daughter from any who would dare destroy him. The warrior took his sword and without a second thought, shattered the dark jewel to pieces.

278.                       The dragon disintegrated around them. The raven-haired woman was gone. An old lady walked up to the warrior. “Thank you,” She said, “Thank you for freeing my father and restoring this kingdom. We are both tied to the magic of the dark jewel. Its destruction has aged us a bit. Even though this meant my father’s death I know that it was what he wanted, for being trapped as a dragon is a horrible thing.

279.                       And so the warrior and the beautiful princess with fiery red hair married and restored the kingdom to its former glory… where he had at last found a home.

280.                       After the cheers had died away for such a grand, adventurous story, Gladius came out in a most ridiculous outfit. The airship crew were clambering Lady Elf for more stories. Gladius shouted above them in a shrilly pitched plea, “I have endured thousands upon thousands of years. It is time to bring my paradoxical sins to a close!” The crew and nobles booed calling out for a honeymoon (which would, no doubt, give them more time to party.)

281.                       The male Elf held up his hands for silence. “Gladius is right, unfortunately, for we have been timing things in preparation for the portal that will send your airship deep into the Warp. It will be open in five minutes.” The elf handed Yewna the Book of Wards. “You have five minutes.” He told us.

282.                       The dragon flew us to the floating Tree of Life.

283.                       {We entered the book then and had an 8-year honeymoon!} You might think such a long time would be enough. {It was hardly enough!} We had plenty of books to read in the libraries of the Wards. {We visited old Ronalee.} We had so many grand adventures of our own. {Yes… so many grand adventures.} Before we knew it, the 8-years had passed and we were asked to return. {It was bittersweet.} Mostly bitter, for, we had no idea what changing the past would do to our present.

Part 21

284.                       At the end of our honeymoon the male Elf retrieved the Book of Wards. {It wasn’t a pleasant thing to give away.} He said it was necessary. “There are rules when time traveling.” Surprisingly he turned to Gladius, “Would you care to feel them in?”

285.                       Gladius pulled his pipe and puffed out a few rings. “There’s a reason I did not go back in time and re-enter in Ronalee. You cannot in anyway make affect the places you’ve been to before. This is what will create paradoxes, which are, things that should happen. For example,” He indicated Yewna.

286.                       “Try going back in time to kill your great grandmother. What would happen?” “I don’t know if I would do that.” “Well, if you even could do it… how would your dead great grandmother…”

287.                       “…give birth to your grandmother…”

288.                       “…and she, your mother and she you who then went back in time to kill your great grandmother? This loop is what we call a paradox or an impossibility.”

289.                       “Which is why the All God fashioned the giants. Their job is to destroy any time paradoxes. Unfortunately, they have been used by Kanoa to destroy Ronalee. Our number one priority is to keep Kanoa from stealing the giants.”

290.                       Yewna nodded her head, “Right, so don’t kill Kanoa or I stop existing.” “Well,” Gladious gave pause, “You could kill her after she has conceived your grandmother.” “We are not going to kill Kanoa!” I shouted a little bit too loud.

291.                       “Fair enough,” Gladius said, “Now, rule number two sort of only applies to me. If you see yourself, stay away. We don’t honestly know what would happen then. But changing things about yourself and even how people around you act could very well make huge changes to your present person… and we don’t know what those things could be so, stay away from yourself or people closest to you.”

292.                       “It is time.” The male light elf said. I took the warp key and headed towards the Tree of Life.

293.                       When I came in close proximity, a portal began to form beneath its roots.

294.                       {As I sat there watching, Lady Elf extended her hand. “Something on your mind?” she asked. “Yes,” I replied, taking her hand. Her skin felt both soft and hard at once. Light Elves really are made of sterner stuff.  “What will happen to Nyn And me?” “What do you mean?” “Well, after we stop Kanoa from stealing the giants… after we stop the war from even happening… Sir Nyn and I met through Flodnag. He won’t live long enough to find us.”

295.                       {“All these adventures, everything we’ve lived through… our marriage… Was it all for nothing?” The Light Elf laughed then, not in a malicious way, just as if I had told her a silly joke. “You humans have so little faith in the All God! What do you think forgiveness is all about? Forgetting what wrongs were done. You are all embarking on a great forgiveness which will set all things right.”}

296.                       {“I don’t mean to sound selfish but Sir Nyn and I want to know… will we ever meet in this newly forgiven world?” The Light Elf held a finger to her lips in thought. “That I cannot say, but know this. Paradox or no, Yevnwen does not take wedding vows very lightly.” For the first time since the honeymoon, I felt like I could breathe again. Hope is like that, a breath of fresh air in a stale and lonely heart.}

297.                       The warp key, coupled with the Tree of Life had opened the portal. It was time. {Gladly I entered Grandon. For I knew that the All God was for us and no one could stand a chance against his ways.} In one giant push of the engines, Grandon entered the Warp. Yewna’s dragon entered behind them.

Part 22

298.                       Traveling through the Warp with Grandon made for an interesting ride. At first, we tried to steer him right, but things were too chaotic, so we left him to steer himself.

299.                       Gladius used the gyro and his knowledge of the Warp to guide us towards the wall of time. He told Grandon where to go, it was strange because as long as I had lived within the Warp, I had never thought to go in this one direction. In fact, we all had a strong desire to go in any other way. But the Gyro pointed us towards the wall of time and Gladius said this was the only way.

300.                       We passed by many different types of creatures. I assumed them to be Living Elements in various stages of development. They flew about the place in an aimless fashion, but it was a meandering path away from our destination. All were affected by this deep need to stay away. Gladius said, “The Star Wolf told me of this Wall of Time, how it was the only way to move back and forth within this universe, back and forth through time I mean.”

301.                       “His own rebellious nature is what pushed him this way. When others turned back, by the sheer force of his will, he continued on towards the wall. I remember screaming to be away from this place myself. Only his jaw around my throat kept me from escaping. There was also his great fascination with the moon.”

302.                       The moment the moon entered our view, we all felt a sudden unease. “As the wolf forced me towards the moon, he told me what in fact the Warp really was. It is a place for discarded ideas, a place where paradoxes can reside in safety, for, there must be purity among the practical planes. The Warp is for impractical ideas that can never be.”

303.                       The moon grew brighter, hovering just above the ocean of endless possibilities. “So,” Yewna asked, “The Warp is All God’s dump site? That doesn’t sound like the loving Yevnwen I serve.” “This place, this universe was not made by Yewnwen.” Gladius responded. “One of his servants created it, created us. The Warp is this sub-creator’s… junk pile, as you put it.”

304.                       Gladius’ wife simply laughed… there was an edge beneath it. “You have got to be kidding me! Are you going on again about that theory?” “I’m telling the truth!” “A truth that was told to you by a lying Star Wolf.” “No, it wasn’t just his speech dear. It’s what I saw.” “You have been spinning this crazy story for thousands of years. I won’t accept it!” “It doesn’t matter what you choose to do, for you are about to see it all yourself.”

305.                       As we drew in close to the moon, everyone began to go a little crazy. We all wanted to turn back, but Gladius wouldn’t let us. Even when Grandon attempted to do a U-turn Gladius held the steering wheel with a vice-like grip. It all felt so wrong… even I was tempted to draw my sword. Instead I screamed at him.

306.                       “Liar! You said we would be going to the Wall of Time! Anubis has poisoned your mind against us!” Gladius looked at me in all seriousness as the crew attempted to pull him away from the steering wheel. “I have not lied to you… I’ve just waited too long for this. I can resist the desire to pull away. The Wall of Time is the moon.” I was acting irrationally.

307.                       {We were all under a spell of sorts, all of us except Gladius.} Yes, he seemed so calm. I pulled out my sword, but it was too late. The moon was pulling us in, {into the Wall of Time.}

308.                       A sort of pop happened and then silence. Storms of broken debris all about. Were these the discarded ideas of a sub-creator? And then I saw it… we all did. A giant book appeared from nowhere, at least this is what my mind first told me. But I knew the truth then, just as Galdius and the wolf had said… we had fallen out of the giant book. Gladius steered us backwards across many pages until we began to fall back in. He mouthed to us two words, “Hold on!”

309.                       Before I knew it there was sound again. The feeling of deep uneasiness had subsided greatly. Gladius had let go of the steering wheel. When I asked where we were, he pointed behind us. I saw then that we were flying away from the moon… the Wall of Time. “The correct question is not where?” He said, “But when?”

310.                       The world at last was before us… but a dark shape stood in the way. {It was Draco!}

311.                       {Before I could even think of it… my dragon lunged at the old father of dragons. This gave us enough time to escape and enter back into the world.}

312.                       {And there, we saw something beautiful.} At last… Ronalee!

Part 23

313.                       ^How does one explain a Paradox? It was by happy chance that I retrieved the four books before time was re-written. I am writing the final entry to close this account. It will be added to the many other paradoxes that came before in this strange world of fluid time. But first, an explanation. ^

314.                       ^Ronalee is a floating continent that resides in a world written in a book… much like the Parallels except this book encompasses all the books in all the libraries in all the world. It holds this world and the Warp and the moon. This book is our universe. It is the grand book of them all! And the writer is a servant of Yevnwen, writing about Yevnwen with the intent of expressing the All God’s love shown in his own world. He is a sub-creator to the Creator of all things.^

315.                       ^We, the Light Elves, are charged with chronicling any paradoxes and how they were resolved. This is why we created mind quills and forged the living books. The one with the Shattered Kingdom is the strangest case I’ve come across.^

316.                       ^Glancing over these four books I find a very different world. Instead of peace I find it in turmoil, for a war broke out between giants and dragons that shattered the Kingdom of Ronalee. This caused a dark age lasting a thousand years.^

317.                       ^This paradox was corrected by a ward named Flodnag, a married couple named Yewna and Nynombir, Yewna’s dragon, a star owl named Athena, a star raven named Edgar, a Purrian named Dwindl, a Dwarf named Grimton, a scholar/immortal named Gladius, his wife, and the crew of a living airship named Grandon. Each person or animal had a role to play in correcting the paradox which caused the war and much suffering in all of the land.^

318.                       ^The only person who is present in the book but absent from this present plane of existence is Gladius. This can only mean one thing… Gladius has interacted with himself in a way that caused him to stop existing. This means that the story plays out in a way as if he was never there.^

319.                       ^This means that, unlike the story of these books… Gladius didn’t enter the Lurk. He wasn’t tempted by the Star Wolf to obtain immortality. He didn’t go back in time to create Xixis. Kanoa did not chase him and steal the giants. The war never happened. Ronalee is still intact.^

320.                       ^So, where does this leave the other characters?^

321.                       ^I will spend some time tracking them all down but I had to find out, at least, how Yewna and Nynombir are faring.^

322.                       ^It was a surprise for me to see them happily married and with kids. My only conclusion is how important Yevnwen takes wedding vows. This promise made is stronger than anything else in this world. The sub-creator of our grand book thinks very highly of this and so made it a very prominent world idea.^

323.                       ^To the sub-creator, who follows the ways of Yevnwen, though He is called by different names in the sub-creator’s world, marriage and true love are beautiful and sacred things. There is nothing in his own sub-created world that could stand in the way of this, not even a paradox.^

324.                       ^This is my only understanding of how Yewna could still meet with Nynombir, even though Flodnag didn’t live for a thousand years to bring them together. This is how the Yewna an Nyn met in the new timeline.^

325.                       ^She was a princess of Ronalee on a journey for her kingdom. This eventually led her to they snowy mountains. Her airship ran out of fuel and she was rescued by a bearded man named Nynombir. Unlike the paradoxical stories, this Nynombir was not a knight. The peace of Ronalee caused him to learn a different trade.^

326.                       ^He was, however, still very unlucky with love. That is, until he met his beloved Yewna.^

327.                       ^The bonds they made, and the vows said, even in a paradox, held a powerful weight over them.^

328.                       ^Simply put, nothing can stop true love and by Yevnwen’s swift sure hand… they were always meant to be together.^

329.                       **End of Book 4 and the series itself. I hope you all enjoyed this little series I wrote. True love will always overcome any struggles. It begins with Jesus true love over you and continues when a man leaves his parents to become one with his wife. That high concept of this ideal (and yet very possible) love is what I dedicate this book to. By Yevnwen’s hand… by Jesus’ hand all things are possible.**

Notes and Old Ideas

 “My parents were half-elves, or so I’m told. I didn’t inherit the pointy ears. Their human side came from distant relatives of the Crescentium family. This made me a strong match.  The house servant, Old May, found the brutal scene and me crying in the nearby crib. She took me as her own and raised me as best she could.”

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