High Lord RiaMal Menorial, First Historian and Supreme Magister, prowled around the perimeters of his tower room. The soft emerald glow in his eyes pulsed in rhythm with his sotto-voce mutterings. He passed a cage where his Fehroa sat perched, a small, bird-like creature seeming to be made entirely of light the exact same hue as his eyes; it pulsed in time with his voice. His pacing took him past an open window, and for the hundredth time that night, he glanced out. The rest of the Academy was still, a monolith of stone bathed in the lurid red light of the second moon. He started forward again, his mumbling taking on a deeper tone as his eyes seemed to burn with a greater intensity.
His desk was littered with communication from a multitude of people: fellow academics, aspiring students, people seeking his professional help. All of it ignored. He marched back to his desk, determined. In all of the Unified Kingdoms there wasn't anyone that came close to his ability with languages; he had a gift. No wonder they asked him. He sat, and pulled a piece of aged parchment toward him, focussing himself like he rarely had a reason to do anymore.
A knock sounded at his door, and he stopped mid-sentence, one hand holding his ink-pen while the other held down the page of a book. He glanced at the clock on his wall and noticed that no more than an hour had passed. With a flick of his hand, the door slammed open, revealing an errand-boy holding a sealed letter.
“I gave very strict instructions.” RiaMal said, mentally aligning the Harmonic resonators placed around his office to his voice. “No disturbances.” As his temper grew, his eyes shone with a greater intensity and his voice seemed to come from multiple directions at once. “How dare you knock? Can you even begin to understand the work I'm doing?”
“Please sir.” The boy said, his voice high-pitched with fear. He thrust forward his hand. “anamm said you'd want to see this.”
“anamm? The Belishi girl?” RiaMal took the proffered letter and ripped it open, quickly scanning the words inside.
Professor, my uncle’s ship has been delayed, so I had some spare time this evening. I've been looking over the translation you showed us, and I've included a rough draft.
RiaMal stopped reading, his brows furrowed. What was she talking about? Surely the girl didn't mean the text he'd brought out in today's lecture. He'd mentioned it in passing, more as a teaching point about the absurd complexity of the Silver Chant. It took months for a studied academic to translate even a single page: the language was littered with contextual nuances, the phrasing meant different things depending on the time of year it was written, and there wasn't a definitive grammatical guide anywhere. In fact, he was the definitive guide. This girl was either out of her mind, or playing some kind of childish prank. Either way, he read on.
It's not a perfect translation - the poetry of the Silver Chant can be a bit tricky - but it makes sense. Please let me know what you think.
RiaMal pushed aside a few paper on his desk and placed the girl’s translation next to his own work in progress and started reading. He stopped, sat down heavily, and rubbed his eyes. After taking a deep breath, he slowly opened them, covering the writing in a gentle green glow, and read.
Allow your eyes to rove across the vast
Unending sea of grass. Approach the shore;
Observe the waves that break against the brave
Chalk cliffs. See there! The gurgling mouth agape.
Against the current fight and head in-land
And find a place of peace and sanctu’ry;
Abundant life can prosper in this bay.
Look there to sea, and see a growing sail.
A name that's lost to history; a man
Whose choice to sail the seas in search of a
New life brought Man onto these bount’ous shores.
Now watch as this great hull approaches fast,
Upon the crest of a fortu’tous wave.
Now hear it crash with a resounding boom
To end its voyage on this fateful beach.
Now listen to the roar of this great man,
And all his crew who’ve come to journey’s end,
To start a life anew in this green land,
And write the first few words of our grand tale.
Allow your eye to draw back from this scene,
And see how time - that fickle thing - can jump
And speed ahead to show your questing gaze
A village nestled safely in that self-
Same bay, now full of life and busyness.
The morning sun then poured its golden glow
On burge’ning life and great prosperity.
Fly low, and hear the screams that broke the peace,
As hordes of monstrous creatures stormed the walls.
These hulking brutes straight from the flames of hell,
Stood twice as tall as our brave warriors.
Their filthy tongues made sounds the likes of which,
I’ll not defile my pages to record.
With massive strength and speed to match,
They tore through flesh and steel and all
Our brave defenders threw their way. The day
Looked lost; a fledgling nation crushed beneath
The cloven hoofs of monstrously horned beasts.
Stand firm! You know our tale cannot end there.
Retreat behind the walls and let your gaze
Pass over mounted men, whose nervous breath
Caused clinging clouds, and stop. To see a child
Of twelve; a child of tears; a child of faith!
Now feel the anger of her faith rise up!
It caused this frail girl to raise herself
And face the beasts rampaging through the streets,
Her eyes aglow, and full of faith she spoke:
“Burning fire and cleansing flame, I
Call you now to dance before me!”
Now watch with me: She raised her hands and closed
Her eyes as fire danced along her palms,
And spreading out it caught the beasts. Not one
Escaped her fiery wrath. Not one escaped
Her righteous flames. Their speed and strength availed
Them not; they died that day in holy flames.
This frail girl, this girl of faith, brought back
Into this waiting land a brand of faith -
A burning brand whose fire and heat and firm
Resolve called down into the earthly realm
The heav’nly host: The Pantheon!
Again we draw our eyes back for a while,
And watch as words dance nimbly through the years.
And that dear seed, which birthed the flames, birthed more
Throughout the foll'wing years, as deities
Came forth in pow’r with chosen champions,
Whose deeds and tasks made legends of them all.
The decades passed as progress helped to turn,
This town into a large and sprawling mass.
As cent’ries passed the land slowly succumbed,
To farming; building; all the things of man.
The walls climbed high; the city grew, until
There stood a gleaming jewel: Oh what a sight!
Observe the walls which reared up from the sea,
Their heights protecting all that lay within
With great encircling arms of stone. Drop low!
And see that peaceful bay is now transformed.
A thousand ships at anchor lie that plied
Their wares from coast to coast. From silk to salt
They trade and bring great wealth from o’er the seas.
Now disembark! But ware you don't inhale
That choking scent of fish! Move on! But quick,
Move faster still: beside the piscine stalls
The tanners work, immune to the unique
Assault on senses that their works produce.
Step next into a fiery land, awash
With sparks and industry, where metal's bruised
And forced to yield its secrets under blows,
And shaped into a vast array: from swords
And shields to toys for children's hands.
And come now to a gentler heat, as bread
Is baked and wafts its scent, enticing all
Who pass. No time! Or story which gave just
Three lines to tell the tale of centuries
Now hastens to its crowning scene: a King
Awaits! So pass on through these verdant parks;
Don't stop to see what merchants sell; fly past
The cooling ales and waiting beds of these
Fine inns. Approach the castle sat up on
The hill: come closer still and at its heart,
You'll find, in splendour and in majesty,
A golden throne; the seat of pow’r. Upon
This seat there sat our king: Menorious!
This famous man whose name lives on in our
Fair land, began his reign a tender youth.
A fairer head could never sit below
That golden round; his name was peace for all.
It's time to draw our focus back once more.
But no more than the width of one short pace:
Beside the kingly throne there sat, its match
In grace and majesty, our Lady's seat.
And on this throne there sat a queen who met
Her king in all the aspects of his reign:
Lanaé! A maiden learned in arcane arts,
A master of unequal pow’r. She worked
The will of Mar’Saflem, the Lord of Storms.
This graceful pair who ruled their state were loved
By all. For many years the country grew
And all who lived within this realm knew peace
In life: prosperity!
Oh joyous times!
Oh wondrous news! A child was born to King
And Queen; a prince was brought into this world;
A heav’nly sight with curls of gold and eyes
Of blue: a promise for this royal line;
An heir to seal their future hope: a Prince.
The gentle hearts of our great King and Queen
Inspired them both to spread the joy and peace
Their country knew, and to this end they planned
To overthrow the neighb’ring thrones who ruled
Their lands through fear.
The forges fired, the blacksmiths worked: a sword
Was born amid the glow of fiery light
And pulsing heat. The spells that went into
That blade imbued it with a constant strength:
To never break; be always sharp. Lanaé
Then placed her hands upon the sword and prayed:
Mar’Saflem come give this blade the
Pow’r to dance as lightnings dance and
To this sword impart your favour;
Let my king be as your Champion!
Thus Storm was made; a curious thing. Not once
Before had two gods joined to bless one man.
A triple blessing! Not just two, but three
Gods bent their eyes and hearts toward our king.
The steel which Forge-Priests used to make his shield
And breastplate; helmet; greaves was Tosar-blessed
With strength divine. Mellandra, goddess of
All life, infused the plate with powers to
Restore the wearer to full health; to heal
And mend this thrice-blessed king: Menorious!
So thus equipped with sword and board, our King
And Queen stepped forth to bring to all the land
The peace in which their state had lived for years.
The leaders and the monarchies that ruled
Through fear and iron fists, soon felt
The pain their people knew, as from great heights
They fell in droves as nation states and towns
And thrones succumbed unto the martial might
Led by our king in justice’s name. For ten
Long years they crossed the land, ‘til people from
The Eastern Seas to Western Range; and North,
From frozen heights to blasted plains – all men
Now knew the Royal Peace: A chance to thrive
For all who came with good intentions in
How many years just sailed past without
A chance to tell the tales of this great time.
Alas; the contents of these years, so full
Of war and noble deeds, must be retold
As separate yarns. No time to tell of Old
Krandor, the greying man who stood with axe,
And steadfast pride; he bought his friends – with such
A price – the time they needed to retreat.
Bold Urlag smiled upon this man, who held
The pass for two whole moons. But how can I,
With conscience clear, recount this tale and fail
To talk of Tiny-Tel, the chosen Priest
Of Kalia, whose arts and charms and tricks,
Helped open up the gates of Korth without
The need to shed dear blood: A thousand lives
Were saved that day. Now stop and think of these
Great names; allow their noble deeds and minds
So full of honour; justice; righteousness,
To lift your heart. For joyous hearts will soon
Be but a vague and distant memory.
I must confess: my arm grows weak; my hand
Would rather set aflame the many words
I’ve laid in ink. If only it could change
The past, or alter in some fateful way
The words I know I must commit to write.
I’ve tarried long enough. Among the throng
That battled with our king were numerous priests:
From Ulan-Rei’s great Shamans: peace and calm,
To Urlag’s mighty champions’ Battle-Lust.
But Necromancers found their way into
The ranks. The doers of unholy deeds;
The spoilers of the Mortal Rest; they raise
The dead – who should stay dead! – to do
Their will. ‘Twas such a fiend there on that day
Before the gates of Mighty Worhl; when all
Looked lost; for three long weeks they’d thrown themselves
At walls too high to fall. The dead piled up.
The mounds of corpses soon began to grow
So vast that mundane means no longer could
Prevail to reach the walls. Then Uhl, with dark
And wretched soul, commanded all the dead
To raise themselves. They stormed the walls, these gross
Foul imitations of the noble dead.
With strength divine and not a-one regard
For mortal wounds, they topped the walls and did
That day what mortal men for twenty days
Had failed to do. Had it stopped there it may
Have been recorded as a victory.
But these undead that scaled the walls, instead
Of op’ning up the gates, they sated the
Unholy thirst of their dark god; they killed
The people in their homes; they flayed the poor
And innocent. Before too long not one
Soul lived inside those walls. The dead lay down
In mockery of peaceful rest among
The blood and devastation they had wrought.
The spell wore off. Inside the still-barred gate
No sound escaped to reach the ears of all
Who stood in horror and in disbelief.
The gates stayed shut, and to this day all that
Remains of mighty Worhl is horror and
A thriving city full of life, reduced
In minutes to a tomb.
The Royal Rage that followed this – both King
And Queen had gentle hearts – consumed them both
And led the pair in justice to decree
The banishment of all who called the god
Of death their patron deity. The graves
Which called these ministers refused to yield
To mortal kings. Their great High-Priest spoke thus:
Feeble King of mortal matters,
Meddle not in causes holy.
Bend your mind toward things earthly,
Leave alone these lofty aspects.
If you banish all my priests, then
Ware the wrath of He who holds the
Keys of death and knows the time when
All shall pass into his kingdom.
Unshaken still, he made his call, and from
His kingdom sent away the evil and
Unholy ones who practised arts profane.
Again we'll jump a few more years, as peace
Just like a mantle lay, across the whole
Of this fair realm. The King and Queen, with Prince
In tow, spent time ensuring all who lived
Inside the borders – now so vast – enjoyed
A life of plenty; peace and calm. But peace
And calm – these gentle words – would turn to ash
In one fell swoop as actions so malign
Would sow a seed of pain and grief. And like
All seeds would grow to fill its promise in
Allotted time. The god of death stretched out
His hand, and pointed – full of ill intent –
His dark and deathly finger at the one
In whom the Royal couple had their hope:
The boy grew ill; his count’nance fell; before
The passing of one moon his body lay
In fun’ral shrouds entombed in marble, cold
The Queen, in grief, retreated back into
A time of privacy. Be he, our King
Of gentle heart was broken on that day.
In anger and in righteous rage, he stood,
And called a challenge out to that foul god:
“Dielim! You've played your hand. You've made your move. Now, see me make mine. I call you. Come to me. Come and face me. You've taken my legacy - let me take yours. You've robbed me of what was rightfully mine; you've ripped a hole in me. Hear my voice. You now face the wrath of a king without a line, a father without a son, a man without a reason to go on. Show yourself. I am come.”
He stood awaiting a reply; he stood
It seemed in vain. No answering voice called back
To him. But as he stood with Storm in hand
And tear-filled eyes, the very sun appeared
To hide; it stopped it crawl across the skies,
As light – which had that day been flooding all
Beneath the fiery orb – began to dim,
As dark, black clouds which hung with dread obscured
Its glow and blotted all its hopeful rays.
Then dropping low it coalesced into
A form akin to man made up of dark
And deadly things. With rasping voice it called:
Feeble King of mortal matters,
Mortal man of feeble heart, you
Challenge me? Oh simple creature!
As you call, so I will listen.
Feel my touch, as now you carry
All that’s mine inside that mortal
Cage you call a body. You are
Mine now; heart. And Soul. And all.
Then as the words - which rang so clear – began
To fade, the cloud, which floated near the King,
Flew forward and enveloped him. Before
Too long the cloud grew thin, then with a gust
Of Eastern wind, it left, revealing there
A kneeling man; a shadow of the King
Who’d stood in holy strength; a broken man.
This hollow shell, who'd once
Stood tall beside his queen, still reigned but now
His rule was marked with fear and hate and pain.
The kingdom fell to disrepair: a once
Fine jewel for all who lived inside the realm
Was now once more a disparate group of towns
And nations: unity was gone. As all
Who dwell under the light, the Queen
Stood firm to virtue, honour, all the things
That marked their reign before the Royal Fall
From grace. With heavy heart and firm resolve,
Lanaé went forth to save her realm before
Her King, Menorious, could bring
All that they'd fought to build to ruin.
She found the King, and bade him stop; his reign
Was not a happy one. And people from
The North and South all knew his Royal Rage.
Menorious was bound in grief and pain,
So he knew not the face of his dear wife!
With blinding speed and furious strength he lashed
His twice-blessed Storm toward his wife. But she,
Who had for many years, been master of
The Arcane Arts, could not be stopped by swords
Or spears or any weapon held by hands
Of man. Her powers rose and she fought back
Against the King; her aim to try and stop
The man who'd once been one of noble heart,
And righteous stance, but now resembled one
Against whom he had waged a fateful war.
For three long days their battle raged around
The place they'd a called their home. He fought to kill
And end all life that loomed in jest of his
Dear son. She fought to quell his rage-filled heart.
The powers that the Queen employed to bring
And end to her once King were magics of
Such stagg’ring strength that by the time his life
Gave out, the City which had once stood proud;
The City which they'd both called home;
The City where it all began, now lay
In ruins all around. She'd brought an end
To all his pain. Then falling to her knees
She wept for all she'd lost: her son; her home;
Then from her grief Lanaé was roused by one
Who came all dressed in grey. It spoke these words:
Gracious Queen with noble heart, you've
Carried more than one should carry.
Humble Queen with broken heart, you've
Sacrificed all that you love. Now
Listen close to my foretelling:
Your great King, before he fell to
Powers dark, inside your womb he
Left a seed that will burst forth. A
Child you'll have; a precious daughter.
Thrones and realms this girl won’t have, she'll
Live her life a common person.
Through this line your blood to will flow, 'til
All you see will be but dust, and
Your fair name which has, no doubt, done
More than most to be writ large, will
Be no more than faded letters.
When the will of the Divines will
Be profaned by mundane hands, and
Minds will pry in matters holy,
Magic will be there for all who
Focus all their intellect, and
Leave aside their Holy Masters.
Then a threat will raise its head and
From your line will come a champion:
One whose hands have delved into the
Holy things that should be hallowed.
He, a boy of simple means,
Apprenticed to a learnéd man, will
Realise his strength is equal
To the might of you my Queen. Then
He will raise a mighty host, and
Through his faith - not pow’r of mind will
Rebuild all you've laid to waste and
Bring about a Golden Age.