Matt Meneghello

  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

Their hearts.


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

Bad memories.


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

And still. 


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;

Her King.


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.

2020 A Chance to Write publications.