Outline for an Adventure 3

Let’s Go on an Adventure 3

Part 1 the Beggar

1)      I am writing this on the eve of our venture into the unknown empire of Xixis. Yew and I have hit a rough patch. But such are the ways of love, and, if it be true it must be tested. I won’t burden the reader with the details. In short… I’m a jealous jerk. So, to move my mind away from such foolish things I’ll recount the foolish tale of “The Beggar of Cirt the Xixis Fool”.

2)      It might seem funny to begin the third journal in this way. You might even think that you’ve heard the story before. I will speak of it from its most original form. This was spoken of in greater detail to Yew who has recounted it to me. It was told to her by a man who had lived a thousand years, a man who was alive on that fateful day the Scholar entered the warp. To begin with… there was no beggar.

3)      Gladius was a retired soldier-turned-scholar who lived in the library town of Cirt, one of the first cities to crumble after the Shattering. The loss of knowledge is astounding, for it contained every book known to man. There were no copies of most of these texts which, no doubt, contributed to the dark times that followed.

4)      He was researching the campaign with the Lurks of which he was a veteran. According to lore my shape-shifting kin, the Living Elements, attacked the floating island of Ronalee. They entered through portals hidden in the shadows, portals that were called Lurks. I’m not sure if I was even conceived during that time. It is hard to say, for time is almost meaningless in the Warp. If I was there, I do not remember it.

5)      According to Flodnag, my kin entered in the form of mischievous spirits and monsters. The battles were brutal; loss of life was very high. It did one thing that was good though. It brought the warring clans and factions together.

6)      They formed under a new king who had dealings with the elves who brought about a new weapon from the Endless Deserts of the East.

7)      This king was kin to Yew. The great warrior King Leonidus of the Crescentium clan.

8)      And so, the first human dragon riders were born. This kept the monsters at a stalemate.

9)      It was battlemages who turned the tide of battle in Ronalee’s favor. They called themselves the Wards.

10)   Gladius had fought beside them and saw the raw power that they possessed firsthand. It was not a power yet known to man, for most magic at that time was limited to the frequencies of the warp. It was the old mages who accidentally unleashed the Lurks to begin with. Gladius was curious of the warp magic, and so he studied things forbidden after the war against the lurks.

11)   This eventually led him to find a lurk and enter the warp himself.

Part 2 Riddles in the Depths

12)   Gladius’ first encounter with the joker was one of senses. There were words yet to describe the feeling of things, yet he could feel them, and out of those feelings something spoke to him. Without words it said things about Gladius’ life that he had told no one.

13)   “Who said that?” He asked of the amorphous shapes and feelings around him. The feelings took great offence. He felt its rage and was suddenly very afraid.

14)   The rage pulled him deeper into the folds of the warp. Now, let me interrupt the true story to explain the fictional one spun together by so many minstrels. You must understand where the two stories diverge and where they in fact aline.

15)   “The Beggar of Cirt the Xixis Fool” is of a ragged man who is so drunk that he jumps at his own shadow. While attempting to outrun the shade attached to his feet like long spider legs, he stumbles and falls backwards into it. He comes to another world. Now the next part is quite comical especially if the minstrel can juggle well enough. There are plenty of statues of the juggling monkeys he beheld in the Warp.

16)   Next came the riddling bard dog, usually the minstrels’ own dog dressed in jester’s garb (I saw it on a bug once, very funny). A man from the crowd is usually brought in to play the beggar. If trained well enough the dog will open its mouth as if talking while the minstrel speaks to the side with a squeaky voice. He asks the beggar a riddle. “What is long or short, only moved by stars, yet in the Warp it falls apart?”

17)   Now, everyone knows the answer, for all have heard the story many times across the Shattered Kingdom. It is impolite to admit it though. One guy was beaten and thrown out of the tavern for saying the answer. For, according to the fictional account, the beggar did not know. The man playing said beggar is then playfully kicked back into the crowd.

18)   Now, the next part is by far the best moment, for the beggar was said to have encountered a donkey orchestra. Many a minstrel were either made or broken solely by this act.

19)   Let’s just say…

20)   …I’ve seen it done…

21)   …many…

22)   …MANT different ways.

23)   I’m sad to say that the donkey orchestra was merely a concoction and has no bearing on fact. The juggling monkeys were also made completely up; created, no doubt, by a juggling minstrel wishing to add a little spice to the tale. The only act that had anything to do with the real story would have been… Well, the nature of the rage pulled Gladius deeper and deeper into the shadowy depths of the Warp.

24)   This is where he first met the star wolf.

Part 3

25)   Gladius had made first contact with a star creature; he was the first person to do so from our dimension. He had heard of wolves but never up close. He felt that the wolf could tear him up at any moment.

26)   The creature seemed to know this. Its emotions were powerful and at that moment it radiated a primal rage. And then, it spoke.

27)   “What is long or short, only moved by stars, yet in the Warp it falls apart?” Gladius felt that if he did not answer correctly, he would be eaten.

28)   He gazed about the confusing brightness of the warp. Even though there was a darkness to contrast with it, he felt that none of it was a shadow. There were simply no shadows at all, just darkness and light. He thought of all the studies he had made of the place. And then it hit him. He gazed back at the star creature and said one word.

29)   “Time.” The wolf’s growl sounded more like an echoey hiss. But then, the rage dissipated so quickly it felt as if it had never been. The star wolf lowered its head and rested his muzzle under Gladius’ hand. “You are wise in study,” It said. “Time is not so fixed among the currents of the Warp.”

30)   “What are you?” Gladius asked. “Your kind call me wolf, but I am more than that. Star creatures are the guides and shepherds of the Warp. I have visited your dimension before. It would seem like yesterday though; the world was young and fertile. A pale orb drew me in.”

31)   “I was so transfixed by the moon of your planet that the very Creator of all seemed hidden from me. But then when his glory was revealed I realized that it was He who drew me in. He said that he would make others like me to shepherd the forests of this land. When I turned around I saw other star creatures. From us whom He made so long ago, copies of a lesser form were created. And so, the beasts of the sky, land, and sea were copied from our image.”

32)   “I would like to see the pale light again. It is fascinating to me.” Gladius was speechless for he did not know how to return to his dimension. The star wolf mistook this as holding out for a deal. “I will do something very precious for you if you would simply be my companion for your world.” “Why do you need me? Can’t you explore my world on your own?” The star wolf backed away, almost shyly. “I would have many questions.”

33)   After a time, Gladius nodded his consent to the deal. The wolf’s face panted into a grin. It took the scholar back to our dimension and our world. A lurk was opened in one of the many villages who were in celebration for the defeat over the monsters from the lurks. The retired soldier knew this place well, for he had been here several months ago. Had the celebrations lasted this long? And he saw something strange… a man just like him dancing around in glee.

34)   “Show me your world young scholar.” The star wolf said to the old Gladius. “Answer my questions, for I long to see how my children are faring. In return I will grant the ability to bend time.”

Part 4

35)   “The Beggar of Cirt the Xixis Fool” ended with the drunken man waking up and claiming to all that he was the immortal founder of Xixis. The minstrel would stagger about the crowd screaming to all. The crowd would laugh and lightly bully the minstrel. He would attempt to leave the tavern. The crowd would push him back to his stool forcing him to play one more song. Usually the song would begin in a drunken haze until it picked up speed and started a dance off from the onlookers. 

36)   In the true story, Gladius showed the wolf around our world until the star creature was satisfied. It left the man without an explanation or a promise to return. This put the scholar in a brooding fit.

37)   He returned to Cirt and lost himself in books. When he tried to tell a friend of the experience, the friend laughed at him. It spread around Cirt like wildfire. All the scholars laughed at him, for they could bring themselves to believe a human would even dare to enter a lurk. The broken man turned to drinking, which probably accounts for why his story is told as if he had always been drunkard. This explained his journey into the lurk to be an episode of his drunkenness.

38)   Then one day, on the day before the Shattering Wars took place, he walked through the area where the lurk had been. To his surprise it was suddenly active. A lone wolf proceeded out and asked if he was ready to bend time. It is said that he did not return once entering. A letter did appear in his friend’s hand many years during the fallout of the Shattering Wars. This is where Flodnog got his account.

39)   The book was from Gladius himself. Its final entry speaks of him going back in time thousands of years ago to begin a culture that would shine forever. His proof was that he had succeeded. He challenged his doubting friend to seek Xixis across the burning sands of the Endless Desert. No one had even heard of the place, and his friend was in no shape to travel there even if he did believe him.

40)   Over the next few hundred years, many expeditions were sent across the sands. One returned with proof at last of the Scholar’s story.

41)   But the masses didn’t want to recant their assessment of Gladius as a drunken fool, so they simply tacked on that he claimed to have been the immortal from Xixis. This is the story of the scholar and the lie that was made into a foolish fairytale. I guess the lesson is, lies and rumors spread faster than truth and they are often much easier to bear, yet they have destroyed many friendships.

Part 5 Deadly Docks

42)   {Well, as the secret captain here I have to say that Dwindl has been doing a great job ordering us around. We all pretty much know our parts. Oh, and I really wish Nyn would stop putting our business in the journal.} Noted.

43)   {Yes, to those who care I mean, we are about to pull the most amazing thing here, go back in time and rewrite history but for those who care… he and I have made up.} Tell them how we made it inside? {I’m getting to that part.}

44)   {We made it inside. Customs was a bit harsh and almost had Dwindl’s crew killed, meaning us… dead. But by some miracle, the black cat talked him out of it.} Dwindl can be very smooth when he wants to.

45)   {Did you check the dragon egg, or sorry, the eggula?} It was nice and snug in the belly of our airship. {yeah, speaking of the airship. Sometimes I feel like Dwindl can sense how the currents of the wind affect the ship. He even nods his head as if checking in with someone.} Strange, but you do remember how he once called the ship to him?

46)   {Now, it’s on to the throne and the Immortal. He has the only workable maps of the Warp and the only encounter with a star wolf to lead him back in time.} Xixis is a rather large empire. It was only as we drew in close that we realized how high the white spires actually were. Turns out, the extend over the whole country. Xixis is one, massive, country-sized city.

47)   {We decided to begin at the base.} This is how high our airship was allowed to travel in any case. We assumed finding the immortal would be easy, I mean we’re used to searching for a nearby castle for the throne room, but… {But what if the whole city is the castle?}

48)   Our airship wandered through the air currents of the foundational structures of Xixis. It was about this time that we realized something was off.

49)   {Well, the people I mean… where were they?}

50)   It wasn’t until the light changed that we saw them again.

51)   It wasn’t until we landed near the inner docks that we began to realize our predicament. {Xixis was full of ghosts.}

Part 6

52)   The four of us stepped off of the ship. The ghosts ignored us.  Some even walked through us as if we were the unseen apparitions.  All except for two men wearing very tall hats. One of them had strange glass coverings over his eyes.

53)   The one with glass coverings addressed Dwindl, “Welcome to the Limbo District. We are the spiritual servant’s services sector of Xixis. I see yours are still living which means you must be very attached to them. We could arrange for their spirits to by tied to your soul for all eternity. All we need in exchange are their bodies.”

54)   The silence was deadly. Dwindl managed to stutter a “Beg your pardon?” out before it began to rain. The man in the glass casually pulled out a weapon which caused us all to draw ours. He held the weapon above his head and released a trigger. A flimsy cloth shield flapped out. If Dwindl hadn’t held Yew’s bow back there would have been an arrow through his neck. “Oh, my,” The glassed one said, “primitives.”

55)   Doctor Ansloe took us into his study to explain things. “Spirits do not leave Xixis. We have set up a service of control that allows the Lords and Ladies dutiful servants without any hassle of talkback.” Dwindl feigned interest, I hope, and asked about the Immortal. The Doctor brushed the question aside. “We always get that question with newcomers, something about an ancient drunk man who pretended to be our founder. It’s all nonsense. The only immortal here is the God of Death.”

56)   Grimton sputtered out, “G-god of death?” The Doctor grinned at the Dwarf. “Yes, simpleton.” I sucked in a breath. To my surprise Grimton was not angry but rather frightened. “Anubis is our patron in these parts. Without his attendance to my work, we would have no spiritual servers for the lords and ladies. Come now, who will be ordered to undergo the dividing first?” Ansloe gestured towards a comfortable leather chair with torturous mechanical constructs around it. None of us moved.

57)   “What do you do with the bodies?” Yew asked. Doctor Ansloe grinned in a less-than humorous way. “They become servants of Xixis.” He then clapped his hands. A troop of cloth-clad warriors entered the study. They stood at attention very stiffly. Dwindl seemed to be looking out the window of all things. He was so focused on the window as if waiting for something to come rescue us.

58)   “Bodies are very useful once separated from the plague of a lowly soul don’t you think?” He tore off the clothes of the one in front. Underneath it all was something sinister that smelt of death. “Come now?” Ansloe said, “Only the virtuous deserve to keep their bodies. Customs sent you all this way for processing. No doubt your crew have already been sent to sleep in preparation for processing.”

59)   A jolly laugh crept out of his lips, “Perhaps one of them has already been turned into a soldier. He could even be in this room. They all look so alike.” Dwindl’s preoccupation with the window came to a close. He placed a hand on my shoulder to reassure me. I had begun to glow. “Thank you so kindly for your hospitality. There seems to be a mix up at customs. Where I come from, everyone is their own lord or lady and has no need for your processing antics.”

60)   The Doctor hissed, “A Free-loader! Well you can join them!” Dwindl cocked his head, “I think not.” At that point our airship burst through the window. We climbed aboard before the good Doctor was able to call for an attack. The crew on board the ship had indeed been put to sleep, yet the ship moved as if on its own. I questioned the Purrion about this. He looked back as if it were obvious. “I told you. Flodnag’s airship is alive.”

Part 7

61)   We flew out of some foggy cloud and left the Limbo District far behind. There didn’t seem to be an alarm raised which must mean, as clever as they seemed in some areas they had no way of tracking us… we hoped.

62)   Dwindl led Yew’s airship into a nearby dock. It was a bazaar of bohemian gypsies. Dwindl saw his first Purrion in real life beside himself. He gave the fat cat a nod. The cat returned it with a greedy grin. Our own cat person led us to a quit place and said, “I think it’s time for me to explain some things.” Grimton looked serious, “It’s about time you tell them.” Yew and I turned to the Dwarf who shrugged. “Yes I knew the whole time. If you’d have asked you would have known also.”

63)   Dwindl took a drink and began. “The ship told me his story. He’s the soul of a little boy. One of your ancestors in fact.” The Purrion nodded at Yew. “Flodnag killed the boy’s parents and just as he was doing the same to the boy… he had a change of heart and captured him to his ship, gave him a chance at new life.” The looks on our faces must have been pretty obvious. Dwindl sighed this is why I kept it from you all. It happened nearly 700 years ago.

64)   “Flodnag was not yet repentant of his ways. He was, however, curious about the fabled land of Xixis. So, he built a fleet of airships and took command. The boy’s ship was among the fleet, but it was not Flodnag’s flagship. That would have been Shattering.”

65)   “The ships barely made it across the Endless Desert, but what they encountered must have been the Immortal lands of Xixis. He did in fact meet with Gladious but the old scholar tricked him. He sent him back a different way. This way happened to cross over my lands. The fleet was beset by dragons. Flodnag alone escaped. The living ship saved his life.”

66)   “Flodnag asked the ship if there was anything that it wanted, anything. He even went so far as to grant the boy a golem body. The childish soul, was content. The boy had always wanted to fly. This touched Flodnag very deeply. The boy did have one request though, leave him be. And so Flodnag never named the ship for he could not say the boy’s name and wake him up. He also did no have the heart to name him anything else.”

67)   “I sensed the ship’s soul while I was meditating. Over time I was able to coax the boy out. His name is Grandon.” Yew said, “And to think, all this time, Flodnag kept this ship alive.” Dwindl nodded. “He used every magical technique that he could to keep the boy afloat. He did not order the ship around. He just allowed Grandon to fly.”

68)   “So,” I began, “according to Flodnag, the Immortal of Xixis was real.” “Something must have happened to him.” Yew said.

69)   “I wonder if this Doctor had anything to do with it.” Grimton asked.

70)   “I would think not.” Dwindl responded. “The Doctor seems pretty low on the picking order. I’d say this Anubis character.” Then a thought struck me. I spoke out, “If Gladius was real than whatever happened to his dog?”

Part 8

71)   Half our crew and ourselves were enjoying the local tavern when an important-looking man in shaggy clothes and bright red hair entered our midst. “welcome to the hidden district, home to free-loaders and gypsies. We hide in the clouds that surround the low to mid districts. What be your troubles lass?” He said, immediately zeroing in on Yew.

72)   Yew gave the boss man a bothersome stare and then shrugged her shoulders. Her eyes grew as wide as they could. “We’re trying to escape the Doctor!” The guy piped up at that, “You mean that creep Ansloe?” “Yes!” Yew said in quivering lips, “He wants to turn  us all into zombies!” “Don’t worry, pretty miss I’ll protect you.” The man said getting a bit too close. I would have gone for my sword but I saw the Yew already had her hand on a hidden dagger I’d given her once.

73)   “We need to find a way into the higher districts.” I said, placing my arm around Yew’s shoulder. The man looked at me as if for the first time. He sighed very deeply, “Yes I get it. Is there any sensitive cargo on board your vessel?” We all looked at each other no doubt thinking of the eggola. The man nodded. “Well, I’m afraid the air is not a place for any such items. There is a stream that reverses up the pass and into the Jungled District. It won’t be cheap.”

74)   Dwindl handed the man a bag of gold. “If you are lying to us.” “I know the game lad. You’ll slit my throat in the night. I just happen to be the best smuggler around these parts. Ask anyone.” The smuggler led us to the edge of the hidden district. The plan was simple. Dwindl and Grimton would take the crew through the airship while Yew and I took a packages-watership up stream. We would meet at the Jungled District.

75)   We said our goodbyes to Dwindl, Grimton, and the crew and watched as the airship sailed away from the clouds on their plotted course. I turned to the smuggler and decided to show him a little more than a threat. His eyes grew wide as I began to glow. “We are not your normal travelers friend. If you double cross us…”

76)   His eyes got really big then. He held up both his hands. “I know. I get it. I don’t look trustworthy at all. But heed me. This place would not shut the likes of you down. They love Paladins and elves, even if they are only half.” Yew was about to draw her knife. “How did I know you asks?” He pointed to his cockney eye. On closer inspection it was not made of flesh. “I can see the truth of it.”

77)   “Honestly don’t even understand what you’re smuggling a dragon egg for. The upper districts love a good dragon, aye!” He winked his artificial eye at me. “But I think you wanted a little more time alone with the misses! Sorry to disappoint. There are no private rooms aboard your water ship.” The smuggler walked his way whistling some sort of sea shanty. “Good luck to you both, and lad, a word of advice. I’d be marrying her soon. Lots of competition in those upper parts.”

78)   We made our way to the water ship. The upstream path to the Jungled District was more like an ocean with a very thin horizon. One of the seamen told us that we would fall right out of Xixis if we traveled too close. Yew sat on the box which held the eggola. The sun was just rising against the darkness. Yew and I watched the fiery orb paint the skies in oranges and pinks.

79)   The smuggler was right. I mean, I wasn’t sure about the eggola being acceptable in transit, but I did have a secondary plan. I got on one knee before my beloved and pulled out my mother’s old ring. “Yew?” I asked in a shaky voice. “Would you be mine and allow me to be yours forever?” “What?” she said in surprise. I coughed and began again. “Yew. Would you marry me?”

80)   She rushed into my arms so that I almost fell over. We gathered ourselves up. She whispered something as she rested her head against my chest. “What was that?” I asked. She looked up with the most beautiful smile. “Yes!” She finally said.

Part 9

81)   The rest of the trip was uneventful. Yew and I spoke of things close to the heart.

82)   The sun was setting as we continued to rise above the grand spires of Xixis.

83)   We took turns watching over the eggola through the night, out in the open and under the stars. We made it to the Jungled District on the following day.

84)   Dwindl met us at the docks. He looked very fitting in his element. “You two travel slowly. We’ve been waiting half a day.” Yew was grinning more than normal. The Purrion cocked his head, “Nice ring.” He said with a purr. “Follow me to the library town of New Cirt.”

85)   According to the locals, the Jungled District was used to make copies of books… all the books from all over the known world. Turns out, there is a lot more knowledge to gather then the first Cirt destroyed a thousand years ago during the shattering.

86)   Yew and I were perusing through some of the older cultural sections of the town when we ran into someone. Just hearing his voice sent chills down my spine.

87)   “Then Hedred was correct!” Doctor Ansloe said. “You are a Paladin Knight!” My blade was inches away from his face and I was glowing. He didn’t even flinch, “And you Miss Yew, you are half elf and a relative of Crescentium!” He glanced at her ring. “Oh, not a Miss Yew for long.” Dwindl did not seem surprised. “You all seem so surprised to see me?” How did he know about us? “And you are wondering how I know so much?”

88)   “Hedred is our double agent. I made his eye. He reported as much to me.” The Doctor gave a sickening laugh, “Oh, what a huge misunderstanding. We would never have been able to even touch the spirit of a Paladin. And what’s that in the box? No doubt a willing dragon egg is about to hatch and imprint upon Miss Yew. That’s a romantic thought isn’t it!”

89)   “Now the ‘Smuggler’ Hedred was going to turn you all in, but his faithful eye saw that you all would be such a great asset to the workings and dealings of Xixis. You see, nobility takes on many forms.” Yew drew in surprisingly close to the Doctor interrupting him. The blade I gave her was very close to his chest. “What about the crew?” The unphased doctor feigned confusion. “What are you going to do to the honest men who serve aboard the Grandon!”

90)   “Well, if I ruled this district I’d have their spirits divided in no time, but alas, such a pleasure is not in my control. I’m only here hunting books. Oh, and Anubis wishes me to welcome you to his Empire. He says you can stop hiding in the shadows. For he sees all. He would like to meet you at the top. You can make your way there at your leisure. Time is a bit slow here so, we’ll take your time and enjoy the hospitality our grand city can provide.”

91)   And then… the Doctor simply walked away. Grimton joined us later as we explored New Cirt. The moment we entered the library, I saw Yew’s face light up in the mountains of books… I knew we would be taking our time.

92)   Later that night Yew would show a letter written by the mind quill to the crew. This is what it says: {This is your true captain speaking. Only things written by the mind quill can be hidden from those of Xixis, for it was enchanted by Flodnag. Never forget our aim in changing the past. I also hope we destroy this wretched Empire as well. Pretend to be enjoying yourself and let no worries or talk of our plans slip. They have eyes everywhere.}

Part 10

93)   {We’ve been at the library for weeks now. You’d think it wouldn’t be hard for me to find a book, but Flodnag’s instructions were very specific. He wrote these in the first journal, of course, in a hidden ink that only my eyes could see. Sir Nyn has been frantic in finding me a book. He’s shown me history books about the Crescentium clan, before they united all the other clans of Ronalee during the War of Lurks.}

94)   {Dear man… I would love to take the time and read with you… but Flodnag was very insistent. All our plans rely on this book.} After reading this, I’m beginning to understand. {But you were also very understanding at the time.} Yes, it is hard to give you the space you need, but it is an essential thing that I trust you. {Nynombir… I found the book. I cannot read it aloud because many eyes are watching us. I will write about it here.}

95)   {The book had no title when I opened it.} How did you know it was the right one? {Because it was a very special type of book… the only one of its kind. When I opened it, I fell in. I was sitting near a ledge with a pen in my hand hovering over a blank book.} Wait… you fell into the book? {It is an ancient thing and the only one of its kind. Flodnag surmised that if Gladius were to steal a single book from ancient Cirt before entering the lurk… it would have been this book.}

96)   {The ledge was over a desert wasteland as far as my eye could see. Without my understanding, I began to write. What I wrote came to life in the desert.}

97)   Did you write of me, of us? {I wrote the memories of us. Do you remember the false forest in the Warp Storm?} I do. {Well, there we were holding each other when that meant that I had to let go of the pen. At that point my story began to have a mind of its own.}

98)   {A pair of black horses brought a stagecoach. We entered into the back. I could have sworn you were right behind me, but when I turned around, the trees were moving away for the horses had been restless.} The horses signify your dreams and yearnings for the future. {And how would you know?} Living Elements are well versed in dream-talk.

99)   {That feels right? But, why are my dreams leaving you behind?} What did you see next?” {I was in a meadow, very calm and poised. An orb of flame hovered above my palm. But that couldn’t be. I have never studied magic?} You may have an opportunity to study it soon. {I mean, I’ve always loved magic but… I never thought I could even conceive of studying it.}

100 The scholars speak of some fine schools of magic here. Perhaps, you will have the chance to try out. {But, wouldn’t that mean that I will be leaving you behind?} What else did you see?”

101) I was back in the carriage, but something was different. I went outside and it had become a boat. Along the coast I saw the bright lights of a cheery village nestled in some trees at night. I searched for your face.}

102) And in a flash you were there dancing to the tune I sang while not singing.} You mean in my hidden world when we had fallen deep into the warp? {It was such a tune! It’s on the tip of my tongue, and yet, it cannot be recalled!} I also hear it my dear. It is our song, a secret song even we cannot fully comprehend. {Such are the ways of Yevnwen.}

103 {The image of us dancing faded in a flash though. I was back in the boat… longing for you and yet, the current seemed to be taking me far away.} Where did it take you?

104  {It took me to an enchanted place. I felt an energy here that I had no idea was even inside me!} It was a school of magic. {It was! And I felt like I was pursuing something that Yevnwen had placed deep within me.} Why do you seek to learn magic? Is it for power over others? {You’re making fun. You know I don’t think that way, but I do remember your voice in the book asking me just that.} And, how did you respond?

105) I saw a wounded boy and hoped that I might heal him, but there was nothing I could say or do. So, I thought… If only I knew more, I could use this knowledge to help others heal. There are so many hurts and pains out there. This is why I want to go back and fix the past. Millions died in the Shattering. Flodnag’s loss was hard on us all. But, I fear for us Nyn.} What do you fear? {Would you go with me on this journey? What are your ambitions and hopes? What if they don’t aline with mine?}

106 What was my response in the book? {That’s just it. Next thing I know, I’m back at that scene on the water boat when you asked to marry me. But this time I’m the one kneeling down. I’m asking you to go where I go and help me pursue my dreams.} Yew. Hear this now. I have many dreams myself, many ambitions that have led me away from my father. But I see in them a crossing of paths with the ambitions of your heart, for we both long for the same thing; and that for Yevnwen to heal these lands.

107 {But that might mean you are standing by as I study magic. It might mean leaving the uncomfortable for some strange place.} I don’t care what it means. I love you, and with Yevnwen’s guidance, I will follow you anywhere.

Part 11

108)  didn’t seem to believe me… not that she felt I was lying, she just thought that it was an impossibility. The book had awoken her innermost desire. Flodnag had told her, this desire would be paramount for the journey ahead. Without it, we would surely fail. And so, Yew’s desire was to learn magic. She feared it would tear us apart. She feared that all of us would need to be left behind in order for her to obtain her studies.

109) If only I could speak to her, but there are too many eyes. {Tell me Nynombir. Speak to me through the mind quill.}

110)  knew of the strict requirements it takes to enter a School of Magic. There are many rules to follow and some so razor thin that one false move might end in expulsion. Some schools required complete silence just to learn how to bend sound. Others make a person blind so that light can be touched and heard. The library is full of stories. {I long to learn the art of healing others.}

111 This would mean that you must undergo a season of suffering, for you cannot heal others before the sickness of yourself. {How do you know so much about magic? Is it from the Warp?} The Warp is not magic. But I have lived many lifetimes as a Living Element. I have studied its properties. {I thought you had lost your memories during that time.} The mind quill is helping me… and the dreams. {Dreams?}

112) Do you remember the white stag from the Warp Storm? I dreamt that I was chasing it, and no matter how fast I ran, it always eluded me. At first I thought this was our hope of love together, but then I realized it was something more. {How did you know this?} Because last night, I captured it. When I did, images of thousands of lives I had seen as a Living Element flooded into my mind.

113)  My memories, at that moment, had returned. But when I awoke they remained elusive like a dream. Yet, at certain times, I remember the creature I once was. In short, Yew… I’ve lived a long time, and I’ve seen the healing mages of the past, even a magic before the War of Lurks. You will need my help with your studies. {What if I am forbidden a companion?}

114) There is no way made for us… then it would not have been Yevnwen’s will. If such is the case, I will not fight it. But have faith Yew. The Shepherd has often found ways where there may not have been before. {I do not doubt this Sir Nyn. If I enter a school it may last 5 minutes for you. But for me the enchanted place will slow down the timing into year-long seconds. I will emerge a different person.} If I cannot enter with you and you return… different, I will understand.

115) Will you? Will you really?} What do you want me to say? Should I release you from this vow we’ve made? {Hundreds of years may pass in the school and yet I will not age but 5 minutes. How can I promise my love will last that amount of time?} Then I say it now. If Yevnwen cannot find a way for both of us to enter the school… I will release you from your vows to me.

116)  {I made an appointment with an adviser. He wouldn’t even see me until I showed him a magical pet. “These are the ways we know of your propensity for magic, little girl.”}

117)  {I showed him my star owl. He scoffed at this. “Are we teaching the warp then? That is not magic!” I knew that, I just thought that the owl was, well, Athena was the only magical-like pet that I had. Perhaps, the book was wrong. If I had no innate magical abilities, I could simply stay with Nyn. Marriage would be easy then. I was oddly happy as I leapt aboard the airship. I had no magical pet. The deep feelings I had felt in the book were a fluke.}

118) {I searched all of the airship and asked all around. Where was Sir Nynombir? Where was the man I loved? Grimton told me he was below decks with Dwindl. They were looking after the eggola.}

Part 12

119) <Let me begin with this. In all I have learned of my fallen race, the Children of Draco… this does not mean that they are altogether evil. Humans, if I can recall, were said to have fallen far from Yevnwen when the first man crossed into the forbidden warp many years ago. And, as with all things of Yevnwen, there is always redemption. So it is the same with my people, contorted by the first dragon to be his children. Many within the fertile valley even worship Yevnwen, as do I.>

120) <I had told this to Sir Nyn just as Yew came rushing in. She had flushed cheeks and a wide grin. The aura of love was all over her when she saw Nynombir. The aura changed to dread when she noticed the eggola before us. Nyn was too deep in thought to notice. So, I continued, “Dragons also have a chance at redemption. This is what I believe the Living Elements who stole the eggolas was trying to do.>

121) <”What is said of this eggola?” Nyn asked. I began to recite the stanza taken from a very long poem dedicated to the prophesied eggolas. “She will be strong in magic deep, a vibrant magic ever changing, though dipped in the tragic by sinful souls of wanting, her Rider will come in a joyful sauntering. And in that saunter this mind will ponder better ways yonder through paths to meander, until her claws and jaws of war, pave and heal and bind, the shattered past of a brittle mind.”>

122)  <“That was beautiful!” Yew said. Nyn almost jumped in joy at her voice. But then it fell back into a brooding state. What had happened between these two? I turned to Yew. “You are the rider of this eggola. Your saunter is always that of joy and peace. This dragon will need your wisdom if she is to fulfill her destiny of healing the brittle mind of a shattered past.” Yew gazed at the eggola in fear. “She will be a magical dragon?” “Yes!” I said. Yew did not take this well.>

123)  <After a long pause Sir Nynombir broke the silence. “It was a long time ago.” He began, “When I was a squire of the Snowcrest Keep. Many stories were made of the vicious beast called dragon. I had taken those stories to heart. Something deeper warned me of this. Now I know it was my Living Element side. But back then, my inhuman skill with the sword was relegated to talent. I was fully human as far as anyone knew.”>

124) <”The stories of dragon slayers grew as I did. By the time I had almost graduated from knight school they were a creed. All dragons are evil, and it was the highest honor to kill one.” I knew of the dragons he spoke. Even across the Endless Desert we heard of our kin who had refused to migrate with us. Some felt an obligation to heal those hurt by the Shattering Wars. Others simply gave us a bad name.>

125) <”I was in love with the King’s daughter, as were many young men. She did seem to show a return of affection for me… it did not last. Though she sought no one else, and this gave me a sort of hope. My hope for her blossomed like a rose. After two long years, she opened up to me and we began a courtship of sorts. But, also like the rose, there were many thorns. It only took two days for those thorns to show.”>

126) <”She had gone hunting with her hawk. When she didn’t return a farmer claimed to have seen her entering the caverns. At that time, they had an infestation of dragons that we were barely able to keep at bay.”>

127) <”I entered the caves without thought. There were temples of our ancient gods but nothing else. Perhaps the peasant had been wrong?>

128) <”Still, I was warry. My imagination was infested with stories of these fiery beasts. Every shadow was a dragon’s profile waiting for the right opportunity to attack. I imagined the great glory I would receive in slaying a dragon and rescuing the princess. What I found inside the temple was a very different thing.”>

129) <”The princess was there, talking to the beast like a pet dog. I moved in, placing myself in front of the monster. The princess tried to warn me. She whispered something so quietly, I could only guess at its meaning. She was like that sometimes, so quiet and demure. This is one of the reasons I pursued her so wildly back then, but at this time it would have been better for her to speak up.”>

130) <”I can’t explain what happened next. My ‘talents’ for battle had taken over. The dragon was on the ground and my ‘princess’ had run away. She wouldn’t talk to me for days. The days turned into weeks and months. I thought that, in all I had done, she was still hiding from me. Our courtship had suddenly ended without a word or an understanding.”>

131) <”I slayed many more dragons during her silence. I thought that each trophy would win back her favor. Though I gained much honor I also received jealousies and spite. Most of my dragon slaying was kept from the people. It was told that they had moved on. This angered me further to kill them all the more. Perhaps one day my skills would be noticed!”>

132) <”But the Princess knew what I was doing. She knew it and never spoke up, just always wearing that spiteful and angry glare. I was allowed to approach her. I asked her why she had run away; why couldn’t I please her? She said that the dragons had been her friends. I was mortified and wondered why she had never told me. She replied that she had. It took me many years to understand this. I can only surmise that what she had whispered quietly was that I should not slay the dragon.”>

133) <”In all of my talents, the very thing I was good at was the very thing that tore the princess from me. Our relationship never recovered. She was married off to a baron and I was begrudgingly allowed into the fellowship of knights where I stayed until the giants came.” This was the sad story of Sir Nyn the dragon slayer. He who had lost a love by a simple misunderstanding. It’s almost comical how such a little thing as an unheard whisper could tear two noble hearts apart.>

Part 13

134) {I never knew much of Nynombir’s past… not of his courtship with a princess. It must have been hard for him, and for her… watching all of her friends killed by one she once loved.} If she had told me. {She did tell you; you just never listened.} I did listen… I always listened for anything that she could say. But she was timid.

135) {It’s all very foolish. How could true love be so brittle?} Yes, it is foolish. And love, like any relationship, takes work from both sides. It can break from an angry spat or from something even less, like words unheard. {I can’t believe you didn’t hear her. You chose not to hear her.} You can believe what you want, perhaps it was she who did not wish to be heard. Why didn’t she speak louder? {You killed the dragons, all of them!}

136) It is a sin I have changed from. I tried to approach her during this, but she would not see me. {She was angry with you. You were killing her friends.} I was doing it for her. If she only would have spoken to me further. {And what now? Will you kill this dragon once it hatches from the eggola?} I have already shown you what I would do. {No, you have not.}

137) Remember your charmed Basilisk back in the valley of dracos? {Yes.}

138) Do you remember what I did right before the killing blow? {You stood over its head and stopped at my command.} I would have done the same had the princess told me. {Even in your bloodlust?} My bloodlust was over her protection. It was also over yours when you stopped me that day.

139) {Oh, but Nynombir you don’t understand. This dragon is the key. It is my way into the school of magic. It could be our very undoing. I need a magical animal to enter and—} And at that point the eggola began to move. Dwindl hissed in surprise and excitement. All of us held our breath.

140) It took a while for the little lizard to poke her head out and another few minutes for the rest of her to show. We all gasped at her colorful scales.

141) Then something odd happened. She sort of grew horns very suddenly. She gave each of us this ponderous look. “She is a happy one!” Dwindl exclaimed. “The person she blinks to will be her chosen Rider. It means that she trusts you not to strike and that you can care for her. The dragonling rested her eyes on each of us without so much as a wink. {She did an odd thing then.} Yes, I must admit her jump into my arms was not expected.

142) {But she did not blink.} No, she turned her head in my arms, and blinked at you. {And in that blink I saw her future form.} Dwindl had no answer as to why the dragon jumped in my arms. {And blinked at me as her rider.} He had a thought though. “Dragons are very wise.” He had said, “Connected to the warp and able to foresee great things ahead. I cannot promise anything, but perhaps the dragon wants you both to know there is more to come.” {Did he mean between us?}  Purrions are very cryptic.

Part 14

143) There we were in some shabby bar. {They all look alike.} Yes! And we were all about to say our goodbyes to Yew. {I hadn’t even seen my adviser yet, you all really thought I would be accepted so easily?} Well, what can I say, we’re all rooting for you and your dreams. {Even if they mean that we would separate?} Yew, I’ve explained this before. I love you. This means holding on at times, but it also means letting go.

144) {Oh, I get it. I understand… I just love hearing you say it.} You would have done the same for me. {Yes, I would have.}

145) Well. Grimton wasn’t too worse for wear. In fact, he’d been looking more alive lately and emotional. {But not the emotion of anger.} Now that you say it, he has been looking rather chipper and well sad at times but otherwise, pretty normal. {You still haven’t figured out what has taken place to make it so?} Oh, you mean that the venom that made him a berserker is gone?

146) {Who told you?} I noticed it soon after the storm. Dwindl must have given him the second potion. {Well, I had thought you daft.} I was a Living Element once. I can notice the changes on the flick of an atom. {Who is Adam?} No A-T-O-M… never mind. {You seem to have a lot of talents, and it seems very convenient that they come and go as they please.} It wasn’t my talent though, not really. {What was it then?} I don’t know, Grimton was just nicer to me.

147) {Well, there we were sitting at our table, everyone was saying their goodbyes.} Grimton was blubbering like a sponge. {As were you!} I shed a few tears. {And on the inside?} Yes, I blubbered inwardly. Is that what you want to hear? {You can try and hide your true emotions, but I also have talents.} And what are those? {I know you Nyn, I know you through and through.} I will not argue with that. {I knew you’d say that!} No you didn’t? {And that!}

148) The next day, I escorted you to New Cirt’s Library of Magic. {We had been so sad!} I was more uncertain than sad. {Uncertain yet hopeful?} Yes, because we didn’t know if the school that accepted you would allow for a companion. {Most of them didn’t, and in order for our plan to succeed.} Yew, millions of lives were at stake, all of them lost to the Shattering. We needed you to learn magic to succeed in saving them. {For Yevnwen’s greater good.} For His good!

149) {The adviser seemed surprised to see me again. He said, “Have you found a magical beast worthy of my time little girl?”

150) {I lifted the curtain of the bird cage and showed him the dragon.}

151) {It was very satisfying to see the shock on his face! In fact, his very clothing changed to that of red which indicated fear.} Was he wearing change-cloth? {No doubt.} I read about that. Some magicians wear clothing that changes to their emotion. {Well he was very indignant sputtering out things like, “We don’t accept your kind here”, and other such nonsense.} Did he mean dragon-tamers or those of the Crescentium family? {I didn’t get the chance to ask.}

152) You no doubt heard me slashing my sword. {There was a commotion outside in the park near the trees. My adviser’s clothing turned redder still when he saw what you were fighting. He stuttered something to me like, “Um, not accepting applicants at this time until after the culling.” Then he jumped into a book and vanished.} Were you sad? {Disappointed, but a delay meant that we could spend more time together!}

153) Yes, we could spend some time together, romantically fighting zombies. {Beggars can’t be choosers!} Hey, I wasn’t complaining!

Part 15

154)  Well, what can I say? It was nice of you to join in with the fight. {There were a few zombies in the way.} But, you remembered to hit them in the head.

155) {Oh course! It’s the only way to be sure.}

156) At about the time we were going to be a little overwhelmed, Grimton showed up with a stick that shot fire out of its end. {It wasn’t magic. He described it later as Dwarf-craft, though he’d never seen it before from his kind.} He’d had a run in with some dwarven friends. It seems like they’d shown him how to aim it. Just point and click. {Didn’t Flodnag mention something about a weapon more powerful than my bow back in the Ronalee days?}

157) Dwindl showed up with the airship crew and we cleaned them out of the Libraries of Magic in no time.

158) {One of the crew found a sickly old man. “The culling has come!” He kept repeating over and over. We kept asking him what the culling was.} He was very distracted with your bow. {He said he hadn’t seen such a device in hundreds of years. Dwindl dribbled some water into his mouth.} He kept spitting it out asking for ale. {Once we found some, he opened up. This is what he said:}

159) “The culling began 500 years ago, after the Immortal was slain.” We all interrupted him at once. Somehow, he noticed each of our words. “I didn’t say he was killed forever, for all know that the Immortal cannot die. But he was slain and incapacitated by the star wolf he once called friend. This wolf claimed to have found the secrets of the moon. In poetry the moon was often used for the description of a beautiful woman… like you Ms. Red.”

160) {I don’t remember him saying that last part.} Well it’s true. {You can’t add things like that to the story!} But your face, it’s pure poetry and shimmers and dances in my mind like the moon. {But, he didn’t say that.} I can’t help it, Yew. Your beauty is very distracting at times. {I could wear a bag over my head.} Yes! That would help… wait! Put your shoe down. I only meant it as {Sorry about that. No more distractions now.}

161) {The old man continued. “The star wolf learned that the moon’s true power was death. And thus, he became the God of Death, the dark wolf Anubis. His first act was to introduce the culling.”}

162) {“Any people captured in the culling were taken to the machines down below and turned into zombies for his army of undead.” I asked him what a powerful being would need with such an army. The old man shrugged his shoulders and said, “It’s just a cover up for his experiments.”}

163) {At this point another band of zombies was coming our way. These zombies seemed a little more attuned to battle than the last. Well, the old man was playing with my dragon, which was odd because she was letting him. We tried to move the old man out of the way. When he scoffed at us Nyn showed him the oncoming army. The old man laughed and said, “Oh, no worries about that. Fire from the dragon can take care of it.”}

164) {The dragon perched in my arms choosing a green-tinted color for her scales. I was about to inform the old man that my dragon was very little when, in a flash, he fed the dragon some sort of potion and…}

165) {She grew into a full-grown dragon. “Careful now.” The old man said, oddly and suddenly assertive. “My growth-spurt potions only last a few minutes.” Well, what else did I expect from an old man found in the Libraries of Magic.”} That really hurt! {You deserved it.} I didn’t say I didn’t deserve it. {Would you like me to kiss it and make it feel better?} Well, in that case, my mouth kind of hurts as well.

Part 16

166) {I found it very exhausting to control my dragon as he burned through the army of zombies. Nynombir carried me to a nearby pub. He stood guard over the door to my bedroom as I fell into a deep sleep. Oh Nynombir, so caring and faithful… a little too faithful if you ask me. I awoke to a dream. I was my dragon and she was white.}

167) {I stood over the city of New Cirt, proudly protecting it from any monsters. A mysterious wood caught my eye. Something white seemed to emerge from the trees.}

168) {I ventured near the edge and found a woman hooded in red. She looked like myself, but she was not. “What do you want?” the lady said in a demanding way. I had the answer on the tip of my tongue, I suddenly knew, though I can’t think of what it was right now. I tried to explain the answer to her, but I was a dragon and could not speak as humans do and she was not the type to read dragon minds.}

169) {She glared at me and said, “What’s the matter? Dragons got your tongue?” She moved in very close. I could not shy away. “Do you understand how infuriating it is to know what you want and never say it is allowed? Wars have started this way.” The lady vanished then and it has come to me to know who she was. I had seen a vision of my late great grandmother who began the Shattering.}

170) {At this point in the dream, as I pondered the lady’s biting words, something white caught the corner of my eye. It was Sir Nyn’s white stag.}

171) {What had Nynombir said about catching the stag? It was his past life as a Living Element. A deep hunger and yearning came over me then, a desire to know my beloved. And so, I gave chase.}

172) {My small and humanlike feet (I guess I was no longer a dragon) could barely keep up. I felt as if the stag was playing with me, or leading me somewhere special. Nynombir can be such a nuisance at times, very hard to pin down and know. He has said much the same of me. We are both elusive beasts, used to being hunted but hardly able to hunt ourselves. This has put a strain on our relationship. It has also led to it being a bit unhealthy at times.}

173) {Love, though secretive at first, should eventually be an open thing. Nynombir told me of this once. But he holds secrets himself, secrets of his past that I dare not disturb. Who was he before he became my beloved? What sort of man have I fallen for? Why does he get so angry at times? He is an ancient being, and so his thoughts must lend themselves to ancient pathways that I have never gone to.}

174) {Sometimes I see the same hunger in his eyes that I have in mine. It is as if he wishes to tell me everything in one glorious moment. But then it fades and he returns to a brooding silence. We are much alike he and I, but I am still new to this world and have no heart for the deeper struggles of life Nynombir must have tread in order to reach me. But isn’t reaching me all that matters? Must I continue to chase the stag?}

175) {I came upon the stag in a deep river. He is drowning! Without a thought to my own well-being I enter the stream of water. His feet kick me as I reach for him. Why does he hurt me so? I forcibly carried him to shore. One of my arrows has pierced his heart. When did I send it? How many fleeting moments have I hurt him? Even without knowing it? Why does he persist in chasing me? And, why haven’t I pursued him as diligently? I won’t let him die, not by my hand.}

176) {We walk together in the woods. I wish to ask him a zillion questions… but I’d rather just walk silently beside him in the woods. He muzzles my feet. I look and find them as soft as a baby’s. His eyes glower at me accusingly. It appears as if I haven’t been chasing him all that hard. But I was jogging a bit. Yes, I could have chased him harder. “What about you?” I replied. “Why have you been so elusive?” He shows me the scar over his heart. Then I remember.}

177 {Long ago he had come to me, wanting to tell me everything. I don’t understand what went through my hand as I laced the bow with my arrow. Perhaps I had thought it a bit of fun, or well, my indecisive nature had just taken over. I wanted to see what my arrow could do. “Isn’t life test enough?” He’d implored as I shot him through the heart. I awoke from the dream in a cold sweat. Sir Nyn’s back was to me, forever faithful… forever guarding the door.}

Part 17

178) {I asked him if he remembered our tumultuous courtship at the hidden village Flodnag had built for the Crescentium family. He tensed and nodded. “Do you remember when you told me that ‘Life was test enough.’” I asked him further. “What did you mean by that?”}

179) {“I’ve had a hard time of it.” He replied, “My life I mean. Pursuing you, well I had been naïve in thinking that my troubles had ended. You were such a kind person and you had seemed to like me a lot.” “I still like you a lot.” I reminded him. “Yes,” He said with a hint of uncertainty. “It was very hard to understand your distance. Even after knowing that it is your way, I can’t help but feel a bit abandoned.}

180) {“When I was courting and you hid away… I had thought that you were testing me. My statement was out of anger for I had been tested many times by life itself. The statement still stands now, but I know that dealing with your seclusion wasn’t a manufactured test… it was simply life itself. Life is test enough. You were a test for me then, but not one of your own creation. Your personality of seclusion pierced through my already broken heart.”}

181) {“Why didn’t you tell me of this?” I asked. “It has taken me months to understand it myself.” He replied, “I struggle with abandonment Yew, best friends have stabbed me in the back. Women who seemed to love me… work-mates spoke in whispers when my back was turned. Everywhere I go, people are making up rumors about me, hateful spiteful and false as they are, they have done much damage in my ability to find true friendships.”}

182) {“Beneath my anger is a little boy who is frightened at being abandoned.” I did not completely understand Nynombir, such a thing would take years of questions and spaces alone to digest his heart. But, at least, I understood that the arrow I had sent to his heart was not entirely my own doing. How do you deal with a broken soul, one whose hope was differed so that it has sickened his heart?}

183) {I had to accept him for who he is, warts and all. In the same way he had to accept my secluded ways. Only through grace and acceptance could our true love stand. The teaching of Yevnwen put it this way. “Beloved men, love your wives as the Shephard loves his gathering. Show them intimacy and help them to feel cherished. In a different way, beloved women, love your husbands by showing respect and honor, for this is how Yevwnen made them, it is how men receive love.”}

Part 18 The Walk

184)                       Yew asked me about our strained courtship in the hidden village. A thousand scenarios rumbled through my head, all of them bad. I’m sure she noticed this about me… she notices everything. The talk was good though, the exact opposite of what I had imagined. My mind can be a destructive thing. The culling was almost over, Dwarves taking it to them. But we weren’t taking chances.

185)                       Because of her rest, she took first watch. I had a strange dream about a white dragon who turned into a beautiful lady and walked beside me. She had so many questions, and yet, she cared more about the walk, the silence… It was nice and sweet. In my dreamlike state I recognized the lady, but when I woke up I had no idea who it could possibly be. Then Yew’s hands came from behind. The sweet smell of her hair came over me and I knew.

186)                       I remembered the bittersweet moments of our courtship, how she would surprise me with her presence after a week apart. One time she was playing with a boy on the sidewalk. As I passed, she bumped into me, seemingly by accident… but I knew.

187)                       And then, of course, how could I forget the Warp Storm… She rescued me then. All those moments and many more besides are incomparable to the pain of my past. I have no metric of comparison for Yew. My mind doubts at times. I fall victim to a dark cloud, but Yew is unrelenting in her love. She just won’t give up on me.

188)                       And when I awake from such darkness, I find her silently there, walking beside. Something else came back to me from my dream. “What’s wrong?” Yew asked. I told her that I had seen us walking together in the woods. She asked if I was a white stag… which was odd because now that I think about it… but that wasn’t what had come back to me.

189)                       I looked her dead in the eyes. “I think I know what happened to the Immortal Scholar. It’s all connected with the culling. Anubis is searching for him.” I took her hands in mine and gazed deep upon such a lovely face. “You have to enter a School of Magic.” She frowned a bit, “But, what about our love? What if you cannot enter with me.” I batted the thought away. “Yevwen has guided us this far. He won’t fail us now. But you must enter one of the School of Magic books!”

190)                       I couldn’t tell her any more so I’ll write it here. Flodnag spoke to me once while in the Endless Desert. I had been concerned about the magic dampener and how the warp rings would help us. I’ll never forget his response, “The Warp is not magic.”

191)                       Living Elements cannot enter the Parallels. It is where magic breathes. Perhaps a certain star wolf of the Warp can also not enter. This must be where Gladius the Immortal Scholar hides. It also must be where the Schools of Magic hide.

Part 19

192)                       {So, Flodnag had planned for this. Somehow he knew that Anubis might turn on Gladius and that the Immortal Scholar would hide in the Parallels. What even are the Parallels?}

193)                       The Parallels are the realm that Wards discovered to draw in magic from. There are trees of living magic there… something connected to nature. Living Elements feel traces and hints of this realm while passing to here from the warp. We have never been able to actually reach it. {What did you see in your dream?}

194)                       Well, I was there Yew I had somehow reached it. It was… {And?} It was like the book you found. {You mean the empty desert of possibilities?} Yes, so, you must have reached it as well.

195)                       Yes, I was in the empty wasteland you described, but I did not have a pen to shape it.

196)                       A voice spoke to me as I traveled through this realm. “Now you see it.” It said, “See what?” I replied. “The boulders nearby were once not boulders. The rock formation over yonder where once not rocks.” I drew near to the boulder. It felt like a coarse and shriveled stone. And then I saw the rock formation. It had the appearance of a face. “The giants were built and designed to destroy the diseased frames of the past. Otherwise known as paradoxes.”

197)                       “The red-haired one followed me into the warp, but she somehow ended here. She stole the giants and used them for her own purposes.” {He must have been talking about my great grandmother Konoa. She must have found the giants in the Parallels!} You are not far off. It was Konoa who stole the giants in this place; and somehow she used the warp to reach it; but the giants were not in the same time of Parallels as the Schools of Magic are. {Not at the same time? So, a different place as well?}

198)                       It’s hard to explain… as I understood it the voice said that the Parallels are frames of frozen time. The giants are used to sort of clip off the time frames that do not match Yevnwen’s order of things. The voice spoke many things to me as I traveled the blank canvas of this wilderness. Some of them he said I would understand in time.

199)                       I was led to a strange city. A city full of statues. The people inside did not move. Not even the wind seemed to move. Only I moved within it. “You have entered the frozen frame of time in the past. The giants had tried to stop us for we were a paradox.” I asked who he was. “Find me in the frame and I will tell you.”

200)                       I ran into some sort of sentry. It stood guard over the palace. It reminded me of the zombies we fought. It stood guard but did not move. I snuck by anyway. This guard looked a little bit more menacing than the ones we had faced. {What sort of warrior would make the great Nynombir shiver?} I pray you never find out!

201)                       I searched endlessly across this desert city. Everyone was frozen in place but myself. It was so crowded in places, and yet, I felt so alone. Then some sort of movement caught my eye.

202)                       There was a black wolf, unmoving and silent, yet ready to pounce. And out of his eyes, golden tears flowed. These tears were moving. “Do not worry.” The voice said, “Even though his tears can move, he cannot.”

203)                       Next to the black wolf I saw an old man hovering over a book. When I moved in close his eyes suddenly shifted up. His lips moved slowly. He spoke in the same voice that had led me here. “Help me!” He trembled, “For I have done a horrible thing.” It was then that I understood where I was. Somehow, I had transported many thousands of years ago to what would eventually be known as Xixix. {You had found the Scholar?} I had found Gladius and his star wolf.

Part 20

204)                       Gladius’ movements were slow and ponderous. I glanced behind just to see if the dog could move. “I already told you,” Gladius said slowly, “Don’t worry about my star wolf.” This was not easy to do. The golden tears kept falling. I could have sworn its upper lip had lifted a bit, or was it always like that?

205)                       “I had traveled back 48,000 years and set up my dream city which became the metropolis of Xixis. The wolf and I had no problems with the local tribes for they worshiped us like gods. It was somewhere during this time that he began to call himself Anubis.”

206)                       “For thousands of years we prospered. It was the wolf’s idea to create armies from those of the fallen. Why not use the empty husks to defend?”

207)                       “But sometimes we ran out of dead bodies to transform into the mummy army. The wolf designed a plan for this as well, a great machine that could divide body from soul. A brilliant man was granted immortality to work on this. He goes by the name of Anslow. As long as Anslow worked the soul changer he was allowed to live. He has lived many lives as have I.”

208)                       “Why did we need such an undying army though? We had no enemies to speak of, but Anubis knew. He knew that we had broken the law.”

209)                       “The paradox giants came silently and almost ponderously as they pounded our city to the ground. Our army was no match for them. When nothing but rubble and a handful of survivors remained, well, that is when the lady in red entered.”

210)                       “She promised to take the giants off of our hands. What ensued was years of preparation. She began to change during those years. Anubis had offered him immortality as well. She declined and only asked for the hundred years it took to prepare.”

211)                       “This time, when the giants came… we were ready. The woman in red defeated the first giant using a dark orb that she had been nursing for all her time here. Anubis explained that it was her rage which fueled it, a rage and bitterness of will to take revenge on the kingdom that would turn its back on her child. How could she build up so much anger that it would defeat a giant?”

212)                       “The other giants seeing this, were charmed by her wrath. They were forged from pure wrath as well. For in this Yevnwen’s purpose would be fulfilled in destroying any sorts of paradoxes… like the paradox of Xixis. The woman in red subverted this with her own tenacity and strength of bitterness.”

213)                       “One by one she led them back to the time that I had left. This began the War of Shattering. And it is all my fault! Help me return to that time. I know the pathways through the Warp. Help me escape Anubis. If he turns on me you can find me hiding in the Schools of Magic.”

Part 21

214)                       At the end of my explanation, Yew gave me the hug of all hugs. {It wasn’t that long!} It was ages. And, well, neither of us were going to end it anytime soon. {What do you mean! You ended it!} After about an hour. {I’d say about 33 seconds.} You timed it? {I wasn’t counting, but you ended it by asking me what it was for.} You never explained that part. {Do I really need to spell it out for you?} Yes. {Nynombir, you trusted me.}

215)                       Well, I wasn’t the only one to ruin the moment. The old man… What was his name? {Professor Clodwert} Who gave him that name? I mean, what sort of crazy person names their child Clodwert? {Yes, and Nynombir isn’t strange at all.} Well Yew is confusing. I mean I sound like I’m saying things wrong. How is Yew doing? When is Yew coming? {That isn’t my full name, you know. Anyway… Clodwert barged in with a nervous laugh. He asked if we could be a sport and help him with another zombie army.}

216)                       We went outside to find Grimton waiting for us. {No, you thought he was Grimton but Grimton has white hair not black.} He was the same height as our dwarf. How could I have known? {You tall people think all us short folk look alike.} I don’t confuse you as much. {As much! Pray tell me why.} You aren’t going to like it. {Get it over with you.} Well, he’s prettier. {So, the Dwarf Hertzoglongo led us to where the fighting was meanest.}

217)                       Are you ignoring my joke? That was a good joke though! {The first set of zombies were the usual fair.} Laughing on the inside I know. {The Dwarves were handling them quite well. But behind was an ever-growing army.}

218)                       {Grimton came over looking a little grimmer than I’d seen him. “Excuse me Ms. Yew. You wouldn’t mind making that dragon grow again wouldn’t you?}

219)                       Clodwert did have some more growth potion, but he recommended Yew’s dragon rest before trying some more. Grimton only wished he still had his berserker rage. {I didn’t want to hear anything more about that! The Dwarf was much more agreeable without it.}

220)                       Well, we had to come with something because the second part of the army was full of those elite zombies that your dragon had destroyed.

221)                       {They were right on us when Dwindl decided to show us his mimicry.} He pounced at the army so that we could not see. {Zombie bodies were flying about until right in the middle his black form seemed to spin about with kicks and punches. I’ll let him explain it.}

222)                       <The greatest part of the mimicry power is not the absorption of your enemy’s abilities, but in absorbing them you find better ways to counter them.> Clodwert was quite impressed. He said he’d never had given the potion to the dragon had he known of this. {Apparently it could have killed her!}

223)                       It was then that a certain chill ran down my spin, for at the moment of Dwindl’s exhaustion, when all the zombies had seemingly been vanquished, the warrior from my nightmares stepped onto the field. Dwindl was about to face him alone when…

224)                       {When Nynombir stepped into the ring!}

Part 22

225)                       {I saw Dwindl hunched over as the sentry Sir Nyn had seen in his dream slowly walked over. Nynombir moved in front of his companion. He looked so stalwart and brave.} I was shaking in my boots. {How do you do it?} There is no formula for facing evil. You just have to be as prepared as you can and after that, take your stand placing fate in the Shephard’s hands.

226)                       {Dwindl and Nyn whispered something. I could not hear.} I knew he was too tired to fight, much less attempt to mimic the opponent before us. So, I told him to leave. He reluctantly yet swiftly agreed. {The Purrian placed his mask and cloak on and disappeared into the shadows.}

227)                       {Sir Nyn took his stance as a Paladin. His wings unfurled.} I was no longer shaking. {And then… they disappeared!}

228)                       It might appear that way to most who were watching. Perhaps, Dwindl caught the nuances of the beast’s attack. <I noticed a slight change of movement from the monster’s right foot. My steady eyes did catch its charge towards you, but only just so. You seemed to tense before the attack. In a flash, you had somehow countered it.> I didn’t even know that I could move so quickly myself. I was acting on instinct alone.

229)                       <It was fortunate that I had not faced it. Even with my mimicry, well, you cannot mimic such swiftness.> After the beast’s charge, we fought in the air leaving New Cirt far behind. I was doing alright until our fight took us deep into the jungle.

230)                       It took me some to realize I was swatting at trees for their darkness and form looked the same as the beast. And then I came upon some ruins.

231)                       Images of grand buildings came to mind. It was what the ruins had once been. The setting looked very familiar to my dream. Had I transported again, back into the beginning of Xixis? The beast’s blade told me otherwise. It came from nowhere brushing the mirage aside. If I hadn’t ducked just in time.

232)                       My helmet flew off and clattered on the ruinous stone. Yevnwen’s inner light pulsed out of me. It extended to the jungle trees and out to the crumbled buildings. Long shadows shot away from me like jabbing spears of darkness. One of the spears of darkness moved. I struck.

233)                       Horrific images of pain and anger flashed before my eyes. But I would not be fooled again. I brushed the images aside to find the beast wounded. Soon, you will understand why I call it that.

234)                       Snakes slithered out of the wound. Its mask had fallen to reveal a bandaged face. “What are you?” I asked.

235)                       Dark images of the warp flashed before my eyes. Out of that darkness, a moving shadow blighted out the stars. I blocked.

236)                       And, I struck down at the shadow beast wounding it further. Its screams were high and shrill. I saw no mirages of its pain this time. I must have given it a mortal blow… if such a thing were even mortal.

237)                       It rushed away into the ruins.

238)                       I followed and came upon a strange-looking tree. It spoke to me then, slow and methodical. “My tongue is loosed from its torture. Of that I have your blade to thank. My entrapment is nearly over. You are a worthy opponent. Soon I will return to my shapeless brothers, for only one of my kind could have the strength to free me.” It was then that I understood… I had been fighting a Living Element somehow entrapped to serve Anubis.

Part 23

239)                       “The trees are key” the fallen Living Element told me. “Here they may look normal but to the Parallels they are forges of magic. Gladius tried to free me from Anubis once. Now he resides, hidden in the Schools of Magic.”

240)                       I asked him which one of the 33 schools it was. The beast had no idea. “I would not doubt that he might hide in the largest and brightest school.”

241)                       “But he also might live in one of the lesser.” Very unhelpful advice. I wished to enquire further but it interrupted my questioning with an apology for what it was about to do.

242)                       And then it rose up and struck me. “My tongue may have been freed by your blade, but my body still serves the master.”

243)                       Our fight took us deeper and deeper into the jungle. It was then that I beheld a waterfall streaming down. It reflected the sun so that it was very white. This gave me an idea. I hid behind it and called fourth Yevnwen’s light so that it hid in the shimmers of the falls. If the beast could hide in darkness, could I not hide in a glint of light?

244)                        The thing was drawing near. Perhaps it could smell me. Would the falls cover my scent well enough? “I do not recommend that you kill me.” It said, “That could be very bad for you.” It was just in front of me. I waited for it to speak again. “Only a Paladin has the strength to defeat me. I was a Paladin once, until I was—”

245)                       I did not let the thing finish its sentence before attacking. On the ground it lay… unable to move, barely able to breath. It was then that it told me the ending to its sentence. “Cursed. I was cursed to be this thing. Only in death will it be released. But the curse will pass on to my foe.”

246)                       I felt an oppressive darkness begin to unfold about me. “I am sorry.” The beast said. “I only wish to be free.”

247)                       Its face was clearing into that of an old boy. “I will return to free you if I find a way.” Even in this I saw how empty the promise was. He was free from this world to join the shapeless beings of the Warp. I would be forever trapped as a warrior of Anubis. Who could save me from such a curse? {Only Yevnwen.}

248)                       It was about this time that the old man {Clodwert} appeared as if by magic. {It was magic. Something called teleportation. I was with him, though you couldn’t see me at the time.}

249)                       I wish I could have warned the old man before I lashed out. He dropped his wand.

250)                       {And I picked it up!}

Part 24

251)                       Well, where do we go from here? {What do you mean?} It’s obvious since I’m writing this that the curse was broken… but well, I don’t understand how it happened. I mean you’re not trained yet. {Yevnwen Knows.} How did he use you to heal me?

252)                       I mean, I was preparing to charge right towards you and well. What happened?

253)                       {You did charge towards me. A single word escaped my lips, a single whisper unbidden yet present from my spirit… Yevnwen. I knew then that even if your hatred consumed me, if that was the Shepherd’s will, all would be well.} It almost wasn’t. I remember things in flashes. My lips were already being bound by the curse. Every time I wanted to speak, I wanted to shout, instead I projected images.

254)                       {That is what confuses me. I remember seeing the images you sent me, and yet your charging blow did not connect.} It is a strange thing. {Yevnwen Knows what happened.} Perhaps the old man had something to do with it. {But Clodwert was out cold.} He seemed fine at the end. There is more to him than what he seems. {He does understand magic enough to teleport. And holding his wand… it felt very powerful.

255)                       Did you see the image I sent? {A beautiful woman with dark hair, standing at an elaborate gate. It was the princess.} Yes. {How long did she hold your love?} Three years. {How did you get over her?} It took another three years, but that was 13 years ago. {You were showing me your pain. It was personified by her rejection of you.} The curse was drawing me back to that time. It was whispering to me… telling me that nothing would change.

256)                       {I heard scraping noises.} I think that was my sword attempting to attack you. It had encountered some sort of barrier. {The image shattered and I saw past your rage. I saw a tree.}

257)                       I showed you how the tree really looked in the parallels. Did you see? {It was beautiful!} And you led me to the tree as I was thrashing about. {I walked to the tree alone.} But I felt you, I felt someone holding me from the back. {It was not I who held you.} Didn’t you whisper in my ear? {What did I say?} ”Peace,” You said, “Be still as peace.”

258)                       And then I saw your face. It was like peace to me. A new hope arose within me, and I felt the darkness fading. I was screaming in pain as it left. {It was not I who was at peace.} So many idols, I’ve carried so many. The princess was an idol to me all those years ago. Your peaceful face was an idol to me. {It was not I who held you.} But I saw you in front of me. {You were held up by someone else, someone from behind. For I am not at peace.}

259)                       Was it the old man? {You asked him already, once it was over.} Yes, he told me that he was faking being out cold. But it couldn’t have been him. {Don’t you know yet? Nynombir, only one could choose you, save you, and give you peace.} So many idols… {I am not your savior.} No, you are not the one. But Yevnwen… he used you. He chose you to help me. {It is not my strength, my kindness, my beauty that rescued you. Stop making me into that person.} So many… No it wasn’t you.

260)                       It wasn’t the old man. He said that he was faking being out to test you. He had put up a barrier over you. {Then Yevnwen must have used his skills to protect me.} That’s just it, He said his barrier had failed and yet, my blade… it would not touch you. The voice that whispered, it said something else to me. What?

261)                       I remember it now… his gentle face… There was a horrible scar around his neck. {It was the Shepherd who hung from the tree!} He told me that we are giants now, the ones made to correct a great Paradox. I think he was speaking of Xixis.

262)                       {And Anubis.}

Part 25

263)                       Back in New Cirt, things were beginning to settle down. As others put it, our presence rendered the culling as a failure. It would take a very long while before Dr. Anslow will find enough bodies to repopulate the mummified armies of Anubis.

264)                       “Precision was his name,” Clodwert was telling me. {don’t you mean “old man?”} “He was a powerful Paladin before Anubis placed the curse on him. Quite ingenious if you ask me. The curse was passed to the Paladin upon his defeat of Anubis.”

265)                       “Let me get this straight,” Yew butted in, “The Dark Paladin was cursed to be so upon defeating the star wolf? How can such a being be stopped?”

266)                       “The books are very clear of the affair. I only read them. The Paladin was sent to Xixis long ago. He entered alone, defeating anything sent his way.”

267)                       “He challenged the star wolf to mortal combat. The wolf agreed upon one condition, that he be allowed a single change of form.”

268)                       “The fight between Paladin and wolf lasted many days. At one point, the white knight’s helmet was bitten off. The stories tell of a mere boy’s face, a boy with eyes hardened and forged in wars. The star wolf would not be his equal in combat.”

269)                       “I saw that face,” Said I. “I saw it before his passing. He showed me images, countless images of his body forced to kill millions.”

270)                       Clodwert nodded his head, “Yes, the curse of a Dark Paladin is not something simple to break. It’s a pity your god did not intervene to save those millions.” “But he did intervene,” Yew Countered, “He saved Sir Nyn from a similar fate.” “Dear child,” Clodwert chuckled, “How will that save the millions caught in these macabre wars?” Yew gave me a knowing look. We had to go back and stop the Shattering, but we couldn’t trust this old man with our plan.

271)                       I countered with a common teaching: “Those who follow the Shepherd believe that He will judge both the quick and the dead at the end, for we are immortal beings who hold on too much to the things of this world. In the everafter all our deeds will be placed on the weights of judgment.” “That sounds pleasant.” Clodwert chided, “Who can pass such a weighing of souls?” “None but the Shepherd,” Yew chimed in, “It is only by his strength that we can make it.”

272)                       “Prove to me such power could even exist and I would gladly follow Him.” I said, “If I gave you proof, you would explain it away.” “Try me.” “Your barrier failed to protect Yew, and yet she remains untouched by my blade.” “Your rage made you sloppy in your attacks.” “I rest my case.”

273)                       “Are we here to debate about fairy tales or learn the truth of Precision?” It was a weak retort, but I gave it to him, otherwise we would be talking in circles for hours. “The Paladin defeated the star wolf and was immediately cursed with the silencing power.”

274)                       “In this he would always rage within, a rage so powerful and yet he would be doomed to never speak a word. And so, he projected his rage upon others in hideous visions. And so, he became the nightmare knight, the sword slaver, the dark Paladin.” There was much silence. After a time Clodwert spoke again, “You’re probably all wondering what happened to the defeated star wolf.”

275)                       “Precision had dealt the wolf a killing blow, not an easy thing for a star creature, even if you are a Living Element. But this stare creature was different from the others. He had gained power over death itself. It was at this time that he took on the form and name we know of today. He now switches between the two forms as he likes, but he had always been that evil sin known long before Xixis. Anubis is as old as time itself.”

276)                       “Your fairytales gave him a different name. Ever heard the story about the Dog of the Stars?” We had… it is said in the Shephard’s book that when humans were first made on this planet, they were forbidden entrance into the Warp. The Dog of Stars came and tempted mankind with a forbidden knowledge that would be obtained there. It was the first sin and the great fall of man.

Part 26

277)                       {It turns out that Dwarves can put up much of a ruckus when celebrating a win. Pour Nynombir was the star of the show. There wasn’t a Dwarf he could pass without being forced to drank a bit of mead. Of course, the drink had no effect on the Paladin.} I did get a sugar rush. Mead is made of honey after all. {Everyone in New Cirt was happy. And who could blame them? In the thousands of years that the Culling had been around, none could stand up to the zombie armies led by the dark paladin.}

278)                       Yew, in turn, was held by every professor of magic that couldn’t find a book to jump into. Clodwert sung her praises in freeing me from the curse. {I told them it was Yevnwen’s doing.} They brushed it aside as modesty. Needless to say, they were all very excited to show her their schools. {We both caught each other in passing.} What was it you voiced to me? {The same thing you voiced to me.} HELP!

279)                       When things had settled down, some of us sat near the Clodwert’s hearth for some tea and tall tales. One of the younger Dwarves asked Grimton to tell them a story from the old lands (this is what Dwarves called the Shattered Kingdom). In the discussion, Grimton’s age was brought up. It was joked that he should perhaps know the oldest story in the world.

280)                       Grimton took a pull of his pipe and with a glint in his eye began the Dwarven story of creation. “Yevnwen is not the puny Shepherd that you may have heard him be. No offence to you dear ones.” He said while indicated us. I took note that calling us “dear” was not a compliment coming from a Dwarf.

281)                       “The One True God Yevnwen was wise, jolly, and proud. I couldn’t call him old now, because he was beyond time.” “You mean like a powerful warp creature?” One of the young Dwarves asked. “Nah lad! Our God of gods was even beyond the warp. The only thing he hadn’t was a community of hearty Dwarves to share a pint with so… he made us!” Grimton sat down as if he were finished.

282)                       A Dwarf boy asked, “How?” Grimton raised his finger, “Now that there’s a good question! First, he had to make us a place. Otherwise we’d be kicking about in the air with nowhere to walk! So, he began as all good smithies do, by creating a forge. Most forges are known as powerfully hot, yet none compare to our All God’s, for his was made from the heart of a thousand stars.”

283)                       “As he sparked the star forge with his hammer he began to separate the darkness from the light. The light bent to the order of his introspective imaginings. He knew us all by name, even before we were conceived. It is not the common name you are given by your mum, but a secret that only he knows. When we meet him in the afterlife, he will whisper this name into our ear and it will feel very familiar!”

284)                       “The darkness arose into chaos against him. It became the first concept of evil. The Purrians know this evil by the name of Draco. This is the first dragon who arose in rebellion against our All God.”

285)                       “The fight seemed a thousand years to last. Yet in Yevnwen’s eyes it was but a blink. He fought for the secret names he had given us, names that he longed to bring into being. In the end the dragon was defeated. But the All God could not kill it, for he understood that in order to have a true communion, there must be a choice. After this the All God hammered our world into existence. All living creatures came to life from the sparks of his hammer.”

286)                       Dwindl did not seem to be satisfied, “What of the Draco I saw in the warp storm? He was subdued by the Living Elements.” Grimton brushed his hand aside, “The Draco rises every thousand or so years and has been withheld from destroying the world by those faithful to the All God. He will come again, of that you can be sure.”

287)                       {I nudged you in the ribs.} We were nudging each other. It had been a long day. {well, I nudged you the hardest so that you stood and faced the audience.} You forced my hand then. I said, “Let me tell you a different story that might answer that very thing. You see, in human understanding, the Draco is one of many forms this chaos can take.”

Part 27

288)                       “The Dwarves story of Creation is believed in part by us,” I began. “We too see the All God Yevnwen as wise, jolly, just, and proud. He indeed made this world with his very hands, wrought from a collection of stars. But, how the creatures came to be is a bit differently told. It began with the Trees of Life.”

289)                       “Such trees have been seen before! They burst with life and powers beyond. Everything near them grew pleasant and fully awake.”

290)                       “The animals were first made in the stars of the warp. These are the star creatures formed each in kind by the loving hands of our All God.”

291)                       “The wolf was made last and considered the most cunning of them all. Draco, alas, had its effect upon this wolf first. Some suppose Draco took over the wolf’s body and forced it to tempt the First Couples into sin. It doesn’t say in the Shephard Texts if this theory were true. All it says is the star wolf came down with the other star creatures, allowing Yevnwen to make copies of them for the animals of this world. He then tempted the first couples to enter the warp.”

292)                       “The Human and Dwarven couples entered gladly for they were promised much knowledge.”

293)                       “With the Elves it is a mixed bag. Some entered the forbidden warp a thousand years later. The rest have yet to be blemished by that first sin. So, they are divided into light and fallen. Yew’s parents were half elves of the fallen race. For those of light do not marry outside of their purity. Even in their fallen form, they live longer than humans, for they had remained faithful to the All God for a longer period of time.”

294)                       “An interesting history lesson my friend.” Dwindl purred, “The Children of Draco teach things differently. The star wolf that caused the fall was not another form of Draco. He was the only fallen form of a star creature. To him Draco gave the power over death. For, Yevnwen cannot have love from his creation if there isn’t a temptation to sin. This is why the wolf did not fall by Precision’s hand.”

295)                       “Death itself cannot be killed until the day of judgement, when all when all deeds are made clear.”

296)                       Grimton snorted, “Are you saying that this Anubis character is a form of death?” “No,” Dwindl corrected, “I’m saying that Anubis, by giving his soul to Draco, has become Death itself.”

Part 28

297)                       The next day, I escorted you to New Cirt’s Library of Magic. {Déjà vu.} We were more hopeful this time because you had a pile of letter recommendations from those who had heard Clodwert’s summation of the events which led to the Dark Paladin’s defeat. {I felt like a fraud. It had not been my magic that defeated the curse. It was our Lord’s. But these professors didn’t believe in the All God, so they thought I was some sort of natural.}

298)                       I reminded you of the time you stopped a dragon from destroying the airship. The crew spoke very highly of this. {Flodnag was testing me. He had hidden his true powers from me at the beginning.} And yet, you proved yourself to be a dragon tamer of the Crescentium family.

299)                        What about the way you handled golem master Visron? {He paid fealty to me because of my family name. There was no magic there. I just ordered him around.} Ordered him around? You had all the golems destroyed saving thousands of lives. My people were freed because of your bravery. {How does this help me with magic?}

300)                       What about the taming of the Basilisk near the Draco Valley? You kept me from killing it which allowed us to even enter that sacred place. {My hidden rage almost cost Flodnag his life.} Yes! But that rage was a powerful force of magic. {It was not magic. Remember, the Warp is not magic.} What does that even mean? Are you speaking of the Parallels? {Yes.}

301)                       {The Trees of Life at the beginning of creation once graced our world. But, after the fall of man and Dwarf, All God sent them to a parallel world that only the unfallen, light elves could reach. Somehow, these trees are being tapped into. The Wards were the first to do so. They used this new magic very effectively against your kind from the War of Lurks.}

302)                       I understand it may be different from the Warp, but it could still have similar properties in wielding it. Do you remember the warp storm, how we entered the warp for a time by gazing into the eyes of the star owl?

303)                       {How could I forget that infinite moment of dreams?}

304)                       {You made a world just for us to breathe in. It was magical.} Magical? {You know what I mean!}

305)                       But it was magical. How you played the lute and sang your song. {I wish I could remember the words.} I hear fragments of them now, on the tip of my tongue… but they cannot be spoken. {You danced with me then as I sang and played future verses, yet I was also in your arms dancing.} That is not typical in the warp. {What was it?} I think you were creating a parallel in my world. Perhaps you are a natural. {Perhaps.}

306)                       I’ll never forget how you held that wand against me. {It was held against your curse.} And the All Gods protection from my strikes. {It was his power.} Yew, it is all his power: this world, the warp, and the Parallels. I don’t think the protection would have worked on just anyone. He has put something in you that is just beginning to come about. Maybe this is what being a natural at magic means.

307)                       There is a reason that Flodnag directed you to that book.

308)                       When you fell in, your hidden self, it took control and showed your future.

309)                       And in that future, you were wielding magic. {Yes… but where were you?}

310)                       Were there any other dreams or happenings that spoke of a future for us? {There was something shown to me when we had fallen deep in love within the warp.} Oh, yes, you never told me about that dream. What was it about?

311)                       Why are you looking at me? Not that I mind the look! It feels like you plan to murder me. {Murder you?} Yes, murder me with a thousand kisses! You gave me that same look and it took us away deep into the warp. Have you forgotten what was shown to you there? Do you remember the dream that I have yet to hear about?

312)                       {I do!}

Part 29

313)                       So, we entered the Libraries of Magic once again. I waited patiently in the lobby, half expecting a troop of zombies to burst through the front door. {And I met with the same adviser I had the last time a baby dragon was in her cage.} You still haven’t come up with a name for your dragon? {I’m thinking it should be something like Royna or Tina.} Pick Royna it sounds a little more regal. {Royna it is.}

314)                       {My adviser stood up, a little bit in terror when he saw the baby dragon. “I told you Ms. Yew.” “That’s Lady Crescentium.” I corrected it. Learning of my last name didn’t seem to help the matter all that much. It was going horribly in fact.}

315)                       Not a fan of dragons. {It’s the only magical beast I have. Everyone knows how dragons and light elves have this connection.} Yes. It was they who first tamed them after all, passing this process to your family.

316)                       {I was about to shrug my shoulders and walk away when Clodwert suddenly entered with many apologies. “I hope I’m not too late!” My adviser seemed a bit perturbed but did nothing to stop the old man from sitting down at the empty chair. “Where were we now?” Clodwert said, “Oh, a magical baby dragon! How cute! This is very untypical wouldn’t you say Broman? I mean usually elves bring in such a find! She is a half elf you know. Be sure to mark that down on the form.”}

317)                       {“Elves are fairly magical it is said. Oh but what of the other half? Only a Crescentium human could tame a dragon. Aren’t they from far across the Endless Desert?”}

318)                       {”We haven’t had one of their kind before. This would mix in a new breed of magicians! We must put her on the top of the stack now.”}

319)                       {“You know the story of how she single-handedly defeated the curse of the Dark Paladin?” This got Broman’s interest.}

320)                       {They started bickering then, almost as if I wasn’t even there. “I know that she claims it was the magic of Yevnwen that did it.” “Oh, she’s just being modest.” “But such a vain faith shouldn’t be allowed in our books!” “I was there, Broman. I can attest to her natural abilities even if she doesn’t understand it. She has the gift!” “Then it can be duplicated, this defeating of a curse.” “I would give my third eye to this!” “then it is settled.”}

321)                       You came out looking a little despondent. {Am I that easy to read?} I thought that they had rejected you. {It was worse though it wasn’t.} Tests are a common way to prove one’s worth. {Mine will get us all killed.}

322)                       There has to be a way though. {To destroy the curse of Anubis? Only Yevnwen knows.} Yes, we must trust in the All God.

Part 30

323)                       We told the crew of our plans at the nearby pub. Of course, we kept the main stuff hidden in the journal. {They were basically told that we would be meeting with Anubis at the peak of Xixis.}

324)                       Xixis was a very large tower, some even supposed it dipped into the warp itself. Our airship would need to be refitted to fly that high, and the next port up was 10 stories above New Cirt.

325)                       {This meant a passage through the haunted garden levels.} The rich and powerful lived at Port Golden Ark and above. They would send their spiritual servants to the gardens to retrieve fresh foods. No one was allowed to set foot in that region. {As long as our airship flew true, we wouldn’t even need to touch it.}

326)                       The smuggler had given us this information. {For a fee of course.} He may not seem trustworthy, but he was the only one with maps and explanations. {You’d think a library city would have all the info you needed.} Speaking of libraries, did you ever return that book you found?

327)                       {It’s a funny thing, but every time I placed it back on its shelf, I found it in my bag?} You do realize that the books on New Cirt are enchanted. They will know if we had stolen it, especially a Falling Book. {I’m very well aware of this, otherwise the Wizarding Books which lead to the Parallels would be vulnerable.}

328)                       But I think this book is different. It was taken from the time of the Shattering. It wasn’t written at this time I mean. Gladius himself stole it, so perhaps a stolen book cannot be enchanted.}

329)                       Grandon seemed rather excited about the journey, always longing to fly higher and higher. The crew took better care of the airship after leaning of it being imbued by a living soul. Captain Dwindl no doubt, had some thing to do with it. He was seen often times talking and laughing to himself when roaming about the decks. {I spoke to Grandom much myself.}

330)                       The boyish airship did allow us to maneuver him, though he was always making slight corrections. We flew over the jungles of New Cirt gradually gaining altitude.

331)                       There were some floating islands between the levels. So, Grandon gave a tug that way. We were only happy to oblige. {They must have reminded him of home.}

332)                       Yes, it may have been a shattered continent, but seeing those floating islands, well it brought a few tears to our eyes. {It was another world up there. We even saw some ruins.} Dwindl pointed out that they were abandoned. He could sense the hauntings of ghosts.

333)                       {I was overwhelmed with emotions! What sort of adventures awaited us as we climbed higher into the sky?} I informed her that the sky wasn’t for sale. {I gave him a knowing look waiting for the devastating punch line.} well you were saying that we could climb up and hire the sky. She buried her face into my shoulders. {It was that bad.} It wasn’t that bad!

Part 31

334)                       Each ruin of the islands must have held some fascinating story. {If only we could have taken the time to explore them further.} But we were on a tight schedule. How much time did we have left?

335)                       {I believe the watching device they gave me said X which stood for 10 weeks left.}

336)                       It’s about this time when things began to take a turn for the worse. {A storm was brewing. We had to secure the deck.} Grandon took over as the windy tendrils overwhelmed us.

337)                       {But even those winds were too much for the boy. Instead of fighting the winds he went along with them. He used them to slingshot around the islands.} We were even beginning to lift up higher. We had gained two or three levels until our bulbous form caught a wind too strong. It flung us into an island. Grandon turned to land the vessel as best as it could.

338)                       {All had survived thanks to Grandon’s expert piloting. I awoke to a calm day along the cliff sides of a ruin. There was a small boy looking at the boat in wonder. I knew he had to be a ghost, but I wanted to be sure so I called out to him. The boy ran away. I followed.} Or course you did. How many times must we go over the dangers of following a stranger. {It was a boy though.} A possible ghost of a boy. {It turned out alright, and in fact, the little venture even helped us.} This time.

339)                       {The ruins were a swirl of designs and wondrous buildings that I had never seen before. The boy stood at the edge of a broken bridge. I called him. His eyes were almost a glowing green. “What happened here?” I asked. “Anubis,” they boy said in a fit of laughter. He then ran across the bridge, or rather floated across where the bridge wasn’t.}

340)                       And this is where things took a bitter turn. {So, I wandered off a bit.} I thought I’d lost you Yew. {Sush! You found me well, but what I found, well, it has changed everything. I wandered into a great big clearing and found it bustling with ghostly scavengers.}

341)                       {They looked more like shadows than anything. They were rather indifferent to my presence, each one having its own assigned task and moving in an extremely efficient way to get it done, a bit like ants if you understand my meaning.}

342)                       {I followed the ghostly crowds. They seemed to be forming lines which led to a golden castle of sorts in the back.} You should have used your warp ring to return to our ship. {I was in fact about to do that.} Well, what kept you?

343)                       {Another type of scavenger. These were not ghosts. They were giant worms.} Wyrms, as in the dragon kind? {No W-O-R-M-S, as in the creepy, crawly, yucky, earthy kind.}

Part 32

344)                       Giant creepy, crawly, yucky worms! I’m so glad I wasn’t there. {Why?} I hate worms! {So, if you had been there you would have left me to die?} No! I’m a valiant protector of any whom the All God places under my care. I would have lifted you up, sprouted some wings, and flown away. {Hmmm, me thinks there’s some fear in you.} Worms are the yuckiest things known to man, Dwarf, or Elven kind! {Well, I had a different thought.}

345)                       {Clodwert spoke to me privately before handing this impossible quest my way. “I’m not sure if you are the one to succeed or not. But things seem to be very off here in Xixis, like it was never meant to be.” I was a little agitated that he would be throwing me at death, literally, just because he hoped I would be the one to change things. “You have good companions.” He said, “Even if they aren’t as powerful as those they face.”}

346)                       {“And you yourself, well, there’s something natural about your magic. The ability to tame a dragon is not easily taught. Who was your magic teacher?” I told him I had never been trained in dragon taming. This shook him a bit. “Well, your family was very powerful, but never this powerful. Perhaps your Elven side is helping you with the taming, or…” “Or what?” “Well, we haven’t seen one in ages, but your natural abilities to tame a dragon might extend to any creature, even sentient ones.”}

347)                       Was he calling you a Mind Writer? {I couldn’t be sure. I was ushered out soon after.} No, I can’t believe it. You do have a natural way with everyone about you, very empathetic to people’s plights, but, to say that you are able to write your own thoughts into them… I can’t believe it. {Why? Because I’m a woman?}

348)                       Most Mind Writers were women. I just don’t want to imagine that our love… well if you can write thoughts in my brain, even without knowing, what of our relationship was real? {I assure you our love is real, even if I am a Mind Writer.} How can you be certain? {Because I love you, and, in that love, I’ve always been willing to let you go.} Aye, that would be true love all right.

349)                       {Well, I reached out to the worms and I felt their emotions. It was not pretty, for such creatures are cursed with a constant hunger and neediness. So, I reached into their mind and saw what they hungered for most was that of magic. They were drawn to it like flies to a fire, which is why they lunged towards me. I was calm though, as they came. For I sensed a stronger magic behind me, one that they usually were afraid. I replaced their hunger for me with the fear of that other place.}

350)                       {This means that their hunger would take them to the source of magic that they had once feared. They passed right by me and nearly flew towards the golden castle, careening through the ghosts who could care less about the material world.}

351)                       {Where they were met with an army of zombies. One had the look of a dark Paladin. It sliced the worms with ease because they were attracted to it.} Another Dark Paladin? {Yes, but this one has an extremely large amount of magic.}

Part 33

352)                       {It was about this time that you and Grimton caught up to me.} Dwindl was doing his thing in the shadows. Grandon had sustained some serious injuries. He would need repairs before we could take off. {Perhaps these scavenger ghosts could direct us to a broken airship?} It had been a good idea to ask them, but they seem rather preoccupied with their own tasks.

353)                       That is when we noticed the Dark Paladin marching our way. {We really didn’t have any alternative to flee ourselves. He was too close.} You mean she. {The voice did sound rather feminine in a sinister and evil way. “What are you doing outside of the golden palace?”}  She had seemed to be addressing the shadows.

354)                       Dwindl’s voice spoke outside of them. “Me and my friends were merely curious.” “That is not an excuse for danger.” It replied. “Please come back to safety.”

355)                       Other zombies, more ornately decorated than the ones we had faced before, came alongside us. Apparently, they thought we were of the higher crust of society and needed an escort.

356)                       {The army brought us inside the golden city. It was magnificent. But the Dark Paladin kept looking our way.} She was looking at me, perhaps she noticed my power. {She did ask if you would be causing any trouble.} With her sword half-unsheathed. {She warned you not to lie.} So, I didn’t and said that Anubis requested our presence at the top of Xixis. {She sheathed her sword, almost reluctantly. Could she tell if you were lying?} Apparently so.

357)                       The city seemed half in ruins and half inhabited. Ghostly servants flew about like wisps of shadowy smoke.

358)                       {Some places were enclosed but most of it was open to gardens like I had never seen. It was all so mesmerizing.}

359)                       In broad daylight, we saw slaves being sold in human form to be divided from body and eternally connected to a master. {Yes, mesmerizing and monstrous. Oh Nyn, we must find a way to stop Anubis and change the past. Then I can enter the Schools of Magic and search for Gladius.} He is the key to all of this.

360)                       We passed through the baths tempted to take one ourselves when…

361)                       {A nobleman with icy eyes approached us. He bowed low and introduced himself as Retgard the Servantless, “I noticed fair Purrian that you seem unattached to any ghosts. “It is not my way.” Dwindl said. Retgard raised an eyebrow and said, “It is also not our way. Join us at this address. And please bring your friends.” As he was turning away he held up a hand to his nose. “And, it wouldn’t be unwise to take advantage of our baths. They are the finest ones on this level of Xixis.”}

362)                       Where did you find such a radiant dress? {After my bath. One of the noblewomen discarded it. Her ghost was going to throw it away, so I asked for it. The ghost shrugged and said, “My master sees your type as trach so, throwing her dress towards you would be just as well.”} The ghost’s master must be blind. You looked positively radiant, like the sun itself rising in the morning. {Thanks!}

363)                       {You didn’t look too bad yourself!} Thankfully, I was in the middle of bathing when Retgard came by and dropped them off for me. He mumbled something about not being able to fit in them anymore. {Well, I was impressed!}

364)                       The address led us to a more wooded area of the city. There we met a strange lady named Ezaran. {She was really beautiful!} Not as pretty as Grimton. {He is a pretty Dwarf indeed.} Please keep your shoes on. I still have a bump from the last time. {Ezaran asked Retgard if I had the time.}

365)                       {The elder gentlemen apologized profusely as he produced the book I had taken from the library. “I had to be sure,” He pleaded. “I had to be sure that it was the correct book.” “And is it?” Ezaran asked. The thieving nobleman nodded.

366)                       “I apologize for the theatrics. Anubis is very sore to have kept us protected for this long. My husband made a deal with that devil, and part of that meant that we could stay in the Golden City even without those poor wretched ghost slaves. We have been fighting for hundreds of years to overthrow that wolf! And now hear you are, before us… our only chance at rescuing my husband and taking him out.”

367)                       “Who are you?” I asked. {The lady stepped off her throne. Out of the light she seemed less sinister. “I am the wife of Gladius. You must find my husband to defeat Anubis.” {“Yes,” I said, “And he is trapped within a School of Magic somewhere.” “That is almost correct.” Ezaran replied. “He is in a School of Magic, but it is not ‘somewhere.’” She pointed to the book. “It is there.”

368)                       {Before I knew it, I was cast into the pages.}

369)                       I too was cast within, though in a much more violent manner. {We entered the Parallels!}

370)                       I saw you next to the tree… the one that had grown behind Ezaran’s throne. It was a tree of magic! {It was THE tree that I had only seen in my dreams.} We had made it into a school at last! But this one seemed almost a forsaken thing. {It was the first school of magic stolen all those years ago from Cirt. Flodnag told me about the Living Books once, how the most ancient of them all had been taken. This book had been a school for Wards.}  


End Notes and Forgotten Ideas


Ship is alive with the ghost of a boy who was the shipmaker’s son (Shipmaker was Flodnag? No, make it a character of some sort, the father was a Crescentium that Flodnag killed).

They were led here by a ghost who recommends Dwindl kill his servants and make them ghosts. It is a common practice in Xixis. He refuses because he might need to leave Xixis. The ghost responds that none leave Xixis once they enter. He asks about the immortal. Ghost says, “What immortal?”

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