Forums » Pantheon Fan Fiction

Amensol's Shadow: In The Shadow Of The Sun (Part One)

    • 50 posts
    May 10, 2020 8:52 PM PDT

    Amensol’s Shadow: In the Shadow of the Sun

    The 9th Tale of the Unseen Pillar of the House of Amensol, by Benonai

     

                “There comes a time in every man’s life when he looks back on the things that he has done and wonders.  Did he do it right?  Does he have regrets?  If he had done things different, could he have changed his fate, his lot in life? Or, like some believe, it doesn’t matter what you do, your fate has already been written. I’ll tell you, lad… they’re all fools.”

                The older gentleman sat back in his chair, and, in doing so, the hood of his cloak slid forward on his head, further masking his already dark features.  The lighting in the tavern was already limited at this late hour, but the young man had a feeling that he’d be draped in darkness standing in high sun.

                “I don’t know how that answers my question, old man,” the young man cut him off.  He brought his arms up onto the table and interlocked his fingers, trying to make up the ground the old man gave up.  “The questions was: why now?”

                The older man brought a hand up to the table, playing with a coin, so not to be thought weak.  He still leaned back in his chair.

                “You see, boy, your lot in life has been cast from the moment you left your mother’s womb.  Your circumstances, ultimately your place in this world was set for you.  Call it fate, bad luck, happy chance, what have you…” the old man brought his hand up and signaled for the barkeep to bring another round. Even in the midst of a philosophical discussion, he held a place in his heart for the aromatic elven ale served at this tavern on the outskirts of the human capitol of Thronefast.  And they served it warm, just like the elves like it.

                He continued, “The point is, whatever your lot, like it or not, you have no say.  But… that is not to say that your actions are not in your control, or that your actions can not rise above your status. No, both parties are wrong because they are both shortsighted.  A rat can be swallowed by a lion.  That’s two beasts fulfilling their lots in life.  Ah, but the lion chokes on this particular rat who latches onto his gullet.  The lion is killed.  A rat killed a lion; a pretty amazing feat for such a lowly station.

                The young man looked around the room, seeming to be bored by the ramblings of an old man. Leaning forward, his frame appeared huge, the stocky physique of one who works in shipyards.  It made him appear large, when in fact, he was somewhat short for a human, barely taller than his petite mother.

                “Look, whatever you said your name was, I realize you invited me here tonight, and frankly, I do have some questions.  But, I don’t have time to hear endless yarns about the bad old days or your opinions on dwarven women. Kind of hot, if you ask me, but, well, I need you to hurry this along.”

                A very faint smile escaped from the older man.  He was slightly encouraged by his tenacity and wit.  Just not enough to merit a pass.  His hand bolted forward, grabbed the pepper container on the table and flicked it at the younger gentleman, hitting him directly in the throat causing him to choke.

                “It’s a lot easier to listen if you’re not speaking,” he said as the young man coughed, trying to regain his breath.  Luckily, the tavern was still busy enough that their ruckus went unnoticed.  “Now, just be patient and your questions will be answered.  I need to start over 40 years ago.  It was the year 475 IH…”

     

                Narian Castigue was a young and ambitious scribe. He was still a young boy when the Collision occurred, the unexplainable event that caused his old world to be translocated to this new world of Terminus.  This event early on in his life had left a thirst for answers as to why this had happened.  He studied the history of Terminus from the elves who had arrived many years before humans had come.  He had later made acquaintances with the dwarves, who had shed additional light on the history of this new world and the mysterious event known as the Dragon Accord.  So significant was the impact of this enigmatic event that the Tholen people of Itholis had begun a new epoch of the world of Terminus based upon it by creating a new calendar coinciding with the signing of the Dragon Accord, year 0 of the Ithosbrun Hjilen, or IH, calendar.

                Narian shuffled parchments back and forth looking for his test pages where he had written the characters from the Dragon King Rok’Nhilthamos’ higher dragon tongue. The papers in his rented room at the inn were high and deep on the desk, a product of a year’s worth of work.  Narian’s heart raced as minutes ticked by with no success.  He began throwing entire stacks off of the desk and onto the floor as he eliminated them.  Narian cursed under his breath.

                The innkeep knocked on the door to Narian's room and slid the week’s bill underneath the door and into the room, immediately lost in the slurry of papers freshly residing on the floor.

                “Scribe Castigue, I have brought your bill should you find the time to balance your account today,” the elderly elf said, standing out in the hallway.

                Narian, in his panic, snapped back, “I’ll pay up when I can finally have a moment’s peace from these interruptions to get my research done!”

                He turned back to the desk in front of him and slid an entire pile of papers onto the floor with a grunt.  He began throwing one paper at a time behind him as his stress level increased until he exhausted every paper on the desk.  He turned around, wild eyed.

                “What have you done with it?!” he yelled, mostly to himself.  He had grown more and more paranoid of enemies stealing his research as this last year had worn on.  His panic made it hard to focus, but out of the corner of his eye, he spotted the darker toned sheepskin document he had been searching for folded up by his bedside table.  He sighed deeply, trying to catch his breath and slow his heart.  He walked over and unfolded the parchment.  This was it.  A single character was written in the center of the page. No other markings were visible on either the front or back.  He looked around, folded it back up, and tucked it into his inside coat pocket.  He’d have his assistant come back for the rest of this.  He didn’t trust Kaolyen with any of his important research, but he was useful nevertheless.  One could not be too careful in these uncertain times, and his trust in Kaolyen and in his allegiance to the cause had waned over the last year.  He did not grasp the ultimate gravity and importance of this work, so how could Narian trust him to take the research serious enough. But, he knew that he did not have the time to manage every aspect of the work, so he kept up the charade of platitudes to keep Kaolyen around for such times as these. 

    He gathered a handful of additional parchments he had set aside and stuffed them in his knapsack.  Downstairs, he threw a bag of coin on the counter along with a letter addressed to Kaolyen.  The innkeep was at the counter and spoke up as Narian darted for the door.

    “Shall I hold your room for you, Scribe?” he asked.

    “I doubt you’ll be alive in a week, let alone open.  Be sure to give the letter to Kaolyen when he returns. It’s of utmost importance,” Narian replied and blew through the door to the shaded outdoors of Old Wood.

     

    Night fell on the tavern in the woods as a lone rider trotted up to its entry.  The rider, a tall and dark featured elf dismounted and tied his horse to the hitching post, wasting no time, and entered the inn.

    “Ah, brother Kaolyen, I hope all is well with you,” the innkeep said upon his entry.

    “Aye, brother, and with you,” Kaolyen Greyborne responded.  “Has Mr. Castigue left and do you know when he will be returning?”

    “The Scribe has taken his leave and mentioned, in his human way, that he will not be returning.  But, he did leave a post for you in his absence.”  He handed the letter over the counter with both hands and a nod, as was their custom.

    “I am grateful,” Kaolyen said, taking the letter and bowing back.  He took the letter and retired to Narian’s old room.

    The room appeared ransacked. He tried to think of the most valuable items in their research and began looking.  In the span of an half hour, he had gone through the whole room and had a pretty good idea of the missing documents, and they were very important to the work he and Narian were doing.  The real question was did Narian take them or was it someone else.  All of a sudden, he remember the note from Narian in his pocket.  He took out the hastily scribble note and laid it down on the table and cracked the shutters for a little more light.

    KG,

    My closest confidant.

    I hope this letter finds you quickly as time is pressing.  Word has arrived of the outcome of the meeting on the isle of Vesu you attended.  The armies of the fallen Ginto deity are pressing across the continent and are due to meet the forces of the elves at any moment.  There was even an attempt on the lives of the leaders of the six races? It is fortunate there was but one casualty of little importance.  I must get these most important documents out of harm’s way before a war breaks out.  You will be able to find me in the cottage I described to you in the mountain pass north of Faerthale.  I should be able to find solitude and safety isolated high in the Roan Mountains.  There is much still to compile from the research we have gathered; and tests to run on you know what. I have taken the most valuable of the research with me.

    I hate to place the burden on you, but if you are able, please bring the rest of the documents with you when you come.  I do not wish to impose upon you the sacrifice of this solitude when your people are at such great risk.  I will continue to work as you tend to your responsibilities on the Council. Hopefully, this will be over soon.

    Destroy the additional test materials when it is possible.  I fear a watchful eye on our progress and what would happen if our work was happened upon by an enemy.

    Be safe and I hope to see you soon

    Your friend,

    NC, 475 I.H.

                Kaolyen had no idea word of their trip had traveled so fast.  He had landed back on the banks of the sea west of Faerthale just 3 short days ago.  The speedy travel of rumor had been worrying him as he and Narian found out more about the power of the written word of Dragon Tongue, and they were just beginning to find out how deep the rabbit hole went.  His place on the council of the elves made it that much more difficult to conduct their research in secret.  He needed separation from Narian anyway.  The timing was fortuitous.

                Kaolyen grabbed some sacks to begin loading research and a pack horse had been brought at his request.  As he began loading the horse with the goods, a diplomatic party rode into view on its way to Faerthale, the elven capital.  Kaolyen recognized the young man leading the party.  He was an emissary for the king of the humans, and a good man.

                “Allistan! It is good to see you. I trust you have been well and productive without your king these few weeks,” Kaolyen said, smiling and shaking hands warmly with his counterpart.

                Allistan jumped off  his horse after the greeting and strolled into the inn with Kaolyen.

                “Elder,” Allistan said, “first I would like to thank you for the incantation you taught me during our last meeting.  It has helped with the sickness the horses were getting.  The news from the King’s return will be much worse for our head husbandman, however. Her husband was the one who was killed protecting the King’s son.  I’ve know him my whole life here on Terminus.  He was the most sincere person and valiant fighter I have ever know, and he was only 20 years old.”

                “But, this is not the main reason I needed to speak with you. I know you have an intuition about things, and, pardon me sounding boastful, but I seem to have a similar intuition when something bad is coming.  Some are downplaying the effects of the Ginto’s war with their own deity.  I’m glad the council on Vesu Isle ended with contingency plans for us, but I can’t help but shake a feeling that this is only half the problem to come.”

                Kaolyen looked around and pulled Allistan into the room that Narian had been using.  “I know exactly how you feel and no, it’s not just you.”

                “I knew it,” Allistan said.  “I need to tell you about something I have learned.  There was a man who came in to visit the King months ago.   He was looking for funding for a research project.  King Amensol didn’t care too much about the topic, but I felt like I needed to know more.  This project was to collect all the sources we could find with dragon language written on them.  The man wanted to translate the dragon tongue to find out what the Dragon Accord said, if he could find more of it.  He believed it to contain the answers for our races' most pressing question: how have we come to be here and for what purpose? Now, I have no reservations about the seriousness of the current crisis involving the Gintos. But this… Councilman.  This is power beyond worldly dominion; this is power of celestial bodies.  I’m afraid of where it may lead.”

                Kaolyen looked at him, amazed at the irony of the current situation.  He broke his glance with Allistan and just looked around the room, trying to give Allistan a hint.

                “What? You don’t…,” Allistan followed Kaolyen’s eyes around the room.  It was like a library where someone had left the window open during a storm.  Books and papers were scattered all over the floor and across the desk by the window.  He looked down at his feet and picked up a small parchment.  Its title read, On the Effects of High Dragon Tongue Carved Into Stone.  Allistan’s eyes scanned the room a second time.  This was all related to research on Dragon Tongue.

                “Where… what…”, Allistan couldn’t formulate thought with his mind racing so fast, trying to catch up with his eyes.

                “The man who came to you, Mr. Castigue, has been busy of late.  And he has had some assistance from elves and dwarves.  The major peoples of Terminus are waking to the possibility of learning of their origins on Terminus; but not just that,” Kaolyen said as he leaned closer to Allistan and quieted his voice.  “They are also awakening to what power may come with this knowledge.”

                Allistan broke from him and walked slowly around the room, reading titles of random parchments.  Tense Changes from Dragon Tongue to High Dragon Tongue, The Magical Properties of Verbs and Nouns, Experiment XXIV: Carving of High Dragon into Mouse Flesh.  Allistan stopped and picked that one up and glanced through the two pages of notes.  He looked up and stared back at Kaolyen.

                “Oh my,” Allistan said with a shocked face. “Oh my…”

     

                The young man pushed away from the table, folding his arms and staring at the older one rambling on through tales of the past.  He had to admit, the stories were interesting, like tales from their bygone homeworld, Vas Demith.  Interesting? Yes.  Relevant? Older people rarely tell relevant tales, he thought.

                “Look,” the young man said, “I am sure you and your war buddies just love regaling over the past, but you’re boring me to death.  You came to me with some pretty heavy information.  I responded, not by asking if it were true, which I still doubt, but why you would wait until now to share this information.  I’ve sat here through two pints worth of your story and you haven’t come close to answering anything.  So, thanks for the wasted evening and don’t follow me.”

                The young man started to push his chair away when he heard a thump on the floor under the table.  He tried to push back to see what it was but his right leg was stuck.  He looked under the table to see a long dagger, half a cubit at least, stuck into the floor and the bow from his boot lace around the blade, pulled tight against the hilt.  It had been thrown through the bow from under the table without looking.

                “I have no problem with arrogance,” the older man said, “as long as you can back it up.”  He put his hand up, signaling the barkeep to bring another round.  “How about you stay just a little longer and let me finish answering your questions.

                The young man was still processing how he had thrown the knife like that, then recovered quickly enough to flash a bored face and bent down and removed the knife from the wooden floor.  He tossed it up on the table and pulled his chair back close.

                “I guess as long as you’re buying,” the young man said.

                “Very well, if you insist,” the older man retorted.  “Where was I?  Ah, yes.  So the deicide war came and went with its own set of problems for everyone, and for a little while, most that knew of the secret research gave it little thought, caught up in the humdrum affairs of ensuring the survival of the world.  Most, boy, but not all.”

                The older rogue slammed his arm down on the table, palm up, and pulled back the sleeve of his shirt.  A large scar on his forearm made the pattern of some type of symbol, unknown to the young man.  The rogue spoke a single word from a foreign tongue and clenched his fist.  The scar on his arm slowly brought forth a red glow, like blowing on a dying coal. Then, just as it slowly came to life, it slowly faded back.

                The older man smirked at the man across the table from him, “Now that I have your attention, my name, as I said before, is Kole.”


    This post was edited by benonal at May 11, 2020 6:44 AM PDT
    • 280 posts
    May 14, 2020 5:53 AM PDT

    Excellent! The relationship between Narian and Kaolyen is really intriguing. Great tie in with your other characters! Hungry for more as always.