For ANYONE following ASCENSION…THIS WAS my writing style 20 years ago…
Watching the Citadel from Mortas’ arms, Glory Academy was a great fortress on the edge of the Iscarza built on a gargantuan jagged fang of rock, enclosed by the Grand Sandor Mountains backdrop and is the last bastion of the Old kingdom before King Larion’s Effieron was forged. Located in the wastes of the Stride Mines, the Citadel gleamed from the characteristic red, white and black marble. Thorin closed her eyes.
Mortas was silent moving over the forbidden zone with Thorin in his arms. She was still in shock from her ordeal, but had gradually begun to stop trembling; in her mind’s eye she replayed events in slow motion. Devron’s body being lifted and torn apart the pain and fear in his eyes, the sickeningly bone crunching rips and tears and the blood Oh god, there was so much blood. She sensed Mortas’ gentleness, but she knew that he had another side to his being even though she did not fear him, she understood and respected its existence.
She made a conscious decision to learn all that she could about the Diaks, no matter how horrific, she had begun to suspect that she could not escape and their fates were becoming increasingly intertwined . The question ringing in her ears was did she want to? Her thoughts were broken by Mortas’ query as to her well-being.
‘I’m fine , just a little overwrought’ This was an understatement.
‘I realised that my actions since I brought you here, has raised many questions and answered few, when we reach Kailan and you have refreshed and rested, then I will endeavour to answer all that you may broach in an effort to extend your knowledge on matters I know that are fearful to your mind.’
He answered her unasked question, for this she was grateful that she did not have to raise the subject.
They were crossing the shimmering pools again, and Thorin held her breath, the beauty of it always took her by surprise. ‘You think it beautiful?’ Mortas asked.
‘Yes, I think it’s the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life.’ She exclaimed with an unmistakable lilt in her voice.
‘I am glad it pleases you’ and more softly ‘Thorin’ her name rolled with a strange delicacy, it sounded unusual, special and familiar.
They arrived at Kailan a servant was waiting for them inside the great Hall, they could hear the voices of others, there was silence as Mortas entered with Thorin in his arms.
‘Brother, you were gone a long time, we were beginning to despair.’ Eon said
‘There was no need for concern, Lord Devron has passed.’
All fell silent and sombre-waiting expectantly. ‘It was inevitable his greed led influence had overtaken him, I saw him leave the silent tower and it was not difficult to guess the rest, when I found Gadzara, she revealed some of her arrangements with him.’ Mortas tone was full of regret, his lips tight; taking another’s life has never pleased him.
‘Where is Gadzara?’ Mortas darkened.
‘It seems a bargain with Devron, was less than pleasing to him and backfired, when he found out who the lady Thorin was, he came to exact his punishment for the deception as only Devron could. On my arrival she was too far gone to be saved .’ He said with pity.
Looking down at the woman in his arms he said ‘perhaps, you should leave us my lady while you are properly attired.’ He set her down and Thorin was escorted from the room.
Thorin was washed and carefully attire, despite her objections to be left alone the female servant Diak ignored her protests to bath in Private feigning confusion, so that the process was not to prove exhausting Thorin consented. The wound on her arm was cleaned and dressed. Wondering what Lila would think if she told her all these things and the others disbelief brought Thorin to the sum thought that she hadn’t considered her friend since she had arrived in Effieron. The thought was further expanded when she considered that the police must be looking for her, knowing her friend they may well be dragging lakes, rivers and any place else in pursuance to her whereabouts . But the need to know what was happening in her life was an ever forward force propelling her towards an inescapable truth about her destiny which was impossible to avoid. Her life with Jake had shown her that no matter how much you wish to avoid your fate in the end acceptance was the only respite, she had learnt the hard way, that a wise one knows their limitations.
She and Jake had met at Sam’s cafe one fresh spring morning, it had been unusually crowded and finding a place to sit was like an expert game of chess. she had finally allowed him to sit after making him promise never to speak to her for the duration of his intended visit but as always Jake had a way of using his charm to lethal effect and Thorin remembered how his devastating smile had made her heart skip several beats culminating in her involuntary response to his queries about general topics until the subject had wound its way round to her. They had been dating for several weeks, when he asked her about sharing his life, the first step was taking an apartment together and Thorin was elated. They had been settled in their new abode when Jake decided to ask for a trial period of being engaged and her heart had soared at the prospect. Then the nightmares began after Jake had suffered an attack while being assailed by thugs he could not recall, overnight the wonderful man and life she knew was rapidly crumbling to dust before her eyes and how she fought to make it better in any way she could, but in the end her most fervent efforts were to no avail, one day the man she loved left and never came home .
From this moment onward although she did not know it and it was not a conscious decision Thorin blocked all and any advance that might have the biggest romantic inclinations. Ryland Richards had been the latest to fall foul of the Parker charm and like others before him found the ever widening chasm impossible to cross or bridge. In the end he too had to cede to defeat and content himself with Platonic friendship .
Returning to the present-she surveyed her reflection in the mirror, her hair had been attended to and scented oil was added to her skin. She was amazed at how radiant she looked, despite her close encounter with Devron; she resolved to put the event from her mind for sanity’s sake. The question now was how to survive in Effieron, and the best methods to employ to ensure survival for it was certain that Mortas required something from her and she knew that she could not grant his wish, nor could she leave Effieron she was a prisoner there again feelings of repression began to surface.
Sophiles, a Diak considered to be the oldest and wisest among them, had made his appearance at the Citadel and Mortas understood the gravity associated with such a meeting for he would never attend unless there was discord in the ranks of royalty. Sophiles unlike Mirach was of a single mind and all actions formed the sum total of his belief-loyalty to his king alone. Eon and Mortas bowed.
‘You can be at no loss as to why I am here.’ Sophiles’ tone was flat. ‘Alarming news has reached me and I have been studying its meaning for several cycles and can only conclude that your enemies have began to mobilise, but towards what goal is as yet unclear.’
He spoke studying the wall chart behind his hosts, frowning suddenly ‘how long has the King been on his current course as envoy?’
‘Twenty four lunar cycles’ Eon answered
‘And your initiation my Prince’ He asked Mortas pointedly
‘Consciously, twenty three lunar cycles’ Mortas answered frowning
‘That is what I thought,’ Sophiles said ‘in direct conjunction with the first diminishing of the Iscarza’ Eon and Mortas looked at each other .
‘What is your thought?’ Eon was defensive.
‘nothing, merely this, many others have been initiated before through the ages, Melfeshos, Larion, Theagar and even the first Ataron, yet the world showed no change, but you as you came brought noticeable degrees as you arrived in Effieron, have you not wondered why?’ Mortas listened intently.
‘Clearly, you understand something of this that I did not,’ the cold logic in his tone had returned, making Eon wonder at the identity of the Diak before him, studying Mortas closely for some sign, that may confirm the uneasiness he felt.
‘Tell me all you recall of your initiation and I will tell you my suspicions .’ Sophiles tone had remained constant.
‘I was in great pain, I used the markings on the Citadel at the far end of the desert, it brought me to the shadows at the ruins I awoke there, how much time had passed was unclear, but it felt like I was always in Effieron.’ Mortas concluded.
‘When we found you, you had been poisoned your human body had died and you had manifested into the state you are in currently but you were weak, and it was necessary to turn you permanently.’ Sophiles let time passed for the meaning to sink in.
‘You were placed before the Tarin Urn in Rhomadar the Citadel of Kings for the pure essence selection to be made and your true nature to be formed, an essence of one of the King’s past had infused with yours of its own choosing.’ Mortas and Eon could not conceal their surprise Sophiles continued uninterrupted ‘only you know the real name of your (counterpart), it was your instinct that brought you to Effieron and your blood all Diak and one other have this ability, a human born of both worlds.’ Mortas whole dark eyes did little to conceal his shock at the revelation laid before him.
‘How else can you explain the lady Thorin presence here?’ Sophiles sat back surveying the disbelieving faces before him. ‘was it knowledge that drew you to her, certainly instinct was overruled or you would have chosen Gadzara .’ this statement served its purpose Mortas rocked as the memories converged and flooded his mind, rushed visions of events past solidified before his eyes only to evaporate to be replaced by others. Thought and vision colliding in an all knowing explosion.
Raising his head Mortas’ expression was inscrutable, ‘I remember .’
‘Yes, I imagine that time would come when you would ask these questions, I merely forced the issue as time is of the essence and you can no longer remain in ignorance of matters unfolding around you.’ Sophiles stared at Mortas directly-’you are that which you suspect, the child of both worlds. It is both your halves in equilibrium that hold Effieron stable, but now change has come and equality has ceased to be the norm of all constants, this is the reason for the diminishing.’ Sophiles concluded.
‘Why have such drastic changes occurred?’ Eon asked.
‘Ah now you are asking the optimum question, I believe the answer lies in the death of one half of your being and now its whole composition here in Effieron, by diminishing your being, Effieron is itself diminished.’
‘My query is who would attempt such an action, knowing the consequences of it?’ Mortas asked slowly.
‘I do not believe prior knowledge of the consequences – the resulting diminishing of Effieron – were known, and thus I conclude the attempt was to end your life, but instinct prevented the task from reaching its completion, why else should the desire to end your life be attempted in your weaker human element ?’ Sophiles questioned. ‘What interests me is who should attempt such a task, is the threat still existent and since you are King after your father what outcome will these conditions pose the Crown ?’ Sophiles was thoughtful as he spoke.
‘We must now be ever vigilant’ Eon stated, all nodded in agreement.
‘On another subject of unease , the Princess Gadzara revealed to me her dealings with Lord Devron, and I cannot conceal my thoughts but would ask you brother and Sophiles, who I hold in the same esteem as my father the King. Tell me what your observations are on the evidence I shall shortly lay before you.’ Mortas’ attitude had changed; clearly there was some connection on the preceding conversation that had combined with the discovery which now fired the imagination .’ The Princess was badly beaten her body was broken and torn, it was clear whoever was responsible had used notable force and it was also their intention to kill.’ Mortas paused. Eon and Sophiles attentions were rapt. ‘She was quite weak and a little delirious from her injuries but still lucid enough for me to catch some details-Lord Devron it seems had approached her some thirty moons before, requesting that she should consider an alliance of our two lands, citing the benefits of such a joining among which would be the strengthening of our forces against the Cayjuns .’
‘Ah’ Sophiles interrupted ‘this was the time when the attacks were spurious and did not seem to be centred against us but our chattel and properties’
Mortas nodded ‘yes, she was to inherit her father’s kingdom after his age was complete, but she would not rule without a suitor as Melfeshos had decided not to pass his crown as was tradition, but interestingly had considered the unification of the land in favour of sovereign rule.’
‘So the proposition from Devron was a tempting one-to rule all the land, it was the ultimate combination.’ Eon said nodding Mortas added
‘Why would they have planned such an alliance, before consulting with King Larion, it was he who needed to decide, whether he wanted such an alliance.’
Sophiles smiled ‘I do not believe the alliance was to be with King Larion, despite his virility, experience and power all of which would prove attractive to the female, the Princess has always had a serious failing for the young and beautiful among us.’
‘Then the curiousness of her attachment is explained, but not the matter of how she suddenly and untimely became the ruler of her kingdom only to abandon it to soldiers and generals, for she revealed to me that Lord Devron was placed in charge of the security of the Borders, since we were fighting a common foe. She confirmed that it was Devron and another who had persuaded her to leave the East, Melfeshos would never have allowed such an action had he been alive, the people came first, and as leader he would have stood his ground unflinchingly .’ Mortas concluded.
The smile had vanished from Sophiles lips he had a thoughtful frown. ‘it seems this goes deeper than I first suspected and now caution is necessary at every step-you cannot underestimate the magnitude of deception, so I would advise that none but us three should know the contents of Gadzara’s confession and in fact to all it should appear as a contest battle for the right of Lady Thorin’s favour and no more. Swear that I have your silence .’ Sophiles looked at each seriously and they consented to his wishes without further question. They were interrupted by the brisk arrival of another .
‘My Lord Sophiles, your Highnesses, your father King Larion calls for your presence at Rhomadar, he has returned and wishes that you should attend immediately.’ A messenger Diak had arrived and read the orders sealed by Larion just as Sophiles had finished speaking.
‘We will go on ahead, perhaps you may wish to inform the lady Thorin.’ Sophiles added to Mortas who acknowledged with a slight bow each thinking the single thought as they left, who was behind the facade and whether there was enough time to unmask the players, for surely they were clever and more dangerous than Devron .