The Master’s Chronicles: Chapter 3 – Infiltrating Saris Castle

Without further ado,  I give you Chapter 3 of The Master’s Chronicles.  This is the last chapter that you will see.  As for the rest of the story, you will just have to wait until it’s published.

Just sit back and enjoy!

After they closed in prayer, Nicolas grabbed his shoulder belt and guided it around his waist.  The pants that Darlene gave him felt a little big on him, so he tightened the belt a few more notches.  With the sword securely resting in the scabbard, Nicolas was ready for action.

Nicolas thought about the prayer that they just said.  There was something about the prayer that gave him sudden doubts.  He wondered if the prayer that they said will even reach The Master.  With the events of his recent revival fresh in his mind, he knew that the prayers would reach Him, but a nagging doubt still lingered in his mind.  The Master told him to leave Tulin and he knew very well what happened next.  Prison.  Interrogation.  Death.  What would guarantee that their infiltration would be “safe”?  This puzzled Nicolas, and made him feel all the more uneasy.

Darlene gently nudged Nicolas in the side.  “What’s wrong, Nicolas?”

Nicolas, looking incredulous, shook his head and feigned a smile.  “Nothing.”

Darlene stared at him firmly and frowned.  “Nicolas.”

Nicolas shrugged his shoulders.  “I don’t know if this plan is going to work.”

Darlene and Donna exchanged glances.  Darlene sighed and took a step forward.  “Nicolas.  The Master is on our side.  Why else would He revive you?”

“I know, and I’m eternally grateful for Him doing that.  I just don’t understand the way He works.”

“We are not supposed to.  No Copian, not even the most learned, has ever begun to understand how He works.  All we can do is trust Him and follow Him.”

“He told me to leave Tulin.  I did just what He told me and I was captured and then imprisoned.  And….”  Nicolas gulped.  “You know the rest.”

“Maybe He wanted to bring you here.  Did you ever think about that?”

Nicolas scratched his head.  “Well, I guess that makes sense.”

Donna nudged Darlene’s arm.  “Darlene.  We really need to get going with the plan.”

Darlene nodded, and turned to Nicolas.  “I agree.  Are we going, Nicolas?”

Nicolas faced everyone and nodded back.  “Yes.  Let’s go rescue a princess.”

And so it was settled.  Darlene carried a satchel filled with provisions and supplies.  It contained a couple sweetspice rolls and a small wool sack filled with gold coins.  Nicolas added the Copian Scriptures to Darlene’s satchel and they were on their way.

Upon leaving Darlene’s house, a sudden rush of wind blew in their faces.  Torrents of rain accompanied the moderately strong gales.  Several puddles formed on the stone-covered streets.  Lightning came in a series of flashes, followed by the peals of thunder.

Darlene led, since she was well familiar with the streets of Saris.  They followed her, trudging their way down the streets, past houses that looked very much like Darlene’s.  They made occasional turns and passed a few trade houses every now and then.

Finally, Nicolas spoke up.  “Where are we going?  I thought we were going to the castle.”

Darlene nodded, and gave him a furtive glance.  “We are,” she whispered.  “We first need to meet with Ruby.  She knows where all the castle passageways are, remember?  She will guide us there and then we’re on our own after that.”

Nicolas gave a nod of approval and motioned Darlene to continue.  They continued on, clutching their arms to their sides, in a futile attempt to stay warm from the rain.  They passed a couple markets, when a beggar began following them.  He held out his hands, earnestly pleading for a gold coin.

Darlene sighed with empathy and gave him a small handful of gold coins.  The beggar gleefully leaped and ran off.

After trudging past a few more houses and making a couple more turns, they finally reached an alleyway, which consisted of two adjoining trade houses.  Both houses were dilapidated, and appeared to be abandoned.  At the end of the alley stood Ruby, who looked like a drowned rat.

Ruby merrily skipped around in the rain.  She was singing a song, using nonsensical words.  Most of them were “la”s, with the occasional “tra”.  Her singing changed to humming.  She hummed for while, and it took Darlene’s voice to snap her out of her trance.

“Ruby! We’re ready!” Darlene shouted.

Ruby, out of her trance, now noticed Darlene and the rest of the party.  “Oh. So you are?  Let me get out of this rain and put some dry clothes on first.”

Nicolas, staring at Ruby, was unable to restrain his laughter.  “What was the singing all about?” he chuckled.

Ruby’s face blushed and she stared at Nicolas.  It was the kind of stare that could look directly into your soul.  “Can’t a girl take a shower in peace?” she snapped. “It’s really none of your business.  And you best stop laughing, or I will smack that smile off your face!”

Nicolas regained his composure.  “I’m sorry.  I just haven’t ever seen that side of you before. I usually see you…”

Ruby interrupted.  “And you won’t see that side again. Let’s get out of this rain already. I’m showered enough.”

Ruby led Nicolas, Darlene, and Donna into the abandoned trade house.  The place was in ruins.  There were broken tables, scraps of iron and metal tools scattered everywhere.  The rain came in from the holes in the ceiling.  A large pile of rags sat in one corner, while another pile of stitched up rags sat in the corner opposite to it. A small pile of bulging satchels sat in the middle of the room.

“Welcome to my humble abode,” Ruby said with a smile.

Nicolas looked at the satchels sitting in the center of the room.  “Is that where you keep your money?”

Ruby stared at Nicolas and sighed.  She then let out a tiny chuckle.  “Nuh-ah!  Do you really think that I would store my money out here in the open?  My money is in a secret place, and I’m not telling!”

“Then what’s in all those bags?”

“Those?  They’re my magic stones.  I’ll let you touch those.  They’re actually pretty useful!  You should….”

“I know what they are.” Nicolas interrupted.  “I’ve seen them before.  I never use them because they’re too expensive.”

“And you should never use them either.”  Darlene said sternly.  “I try to encourage Ruby not to use them.  But alas, she uses them anyway.  I can only tell her not to use them, but I can’t make her do what I say.”

“That’s right!”  Ruby grinned.  “And I’m sorry to say that you’re really missing out. They’re so fun to use!  What’s the harm in using them anyway?”

Nicolas glanced over at Darlene.  “She’s right.  What’s wrong with these stones?”

Darlene’s scowl turned to a frown.   She then turned, facing Ruby.  “Ruby, you have already heard this several times before, so I am not going to tell you again.  Do you mind if I have a couple minutes alone with Nicolas?”

Ruby nodded.  “Sure.  Just go into the other room.  I can change while you’re talking anyway.”

“Thanks, Ruby.”

Darlene led Nicolas into the adjoining trade house.  It looked just like Ruby’s, only without the rags and stones.

“Now Nicolas,” Darlene began.  “Do you know why I have a problem with those magic stones?”

Nicolas shrugged his shoulders in confusion.  “No.  All I know is that they’re expensive.  That is why I never use them.”

Darlene took a step closer toward Nicolas.  “Fine.  I’ll tell you.  Those magic stones that you see everywhere are the work of the Cobra.”

“Cobra?”

“Yes!  Cobra!  If you read your Copian Scriptures more, you would know what I’m talking about.”

Nicolas thought about this for a moment. Where did I see this cobra mentioned before? After a while, his face lit up.  “Oh yeah!  I just read about it!  There was a cobra that that tricked the woman into eating the golden apple.”

“Yes.  And that cobra is another name for Ivion, the ultimate deceiver and master of lies.  Do you have any idea how those magic stones are made?”

“How?”

“Here’s how.  The followers of Ivion practice dark magic.  They chant incantations and practice witchcraft.  For those who don’t, they take the essence of their spells and store them in stones.  They originally did this for their own personal use but began selling them when they realized that other people could use the stones.”

“I thought that it was just another way for the king and the nobles to make more money.”

“That’s only part of it.  Most people today don’t know how dangerous they are.  And that’s exactly what Ivion wants.  He doesn’t want anyone to think that they’re dangerous.”

“Are we in danger of them now?”

“No.  But if you touch the stone, you will absorb the magic contained inside it.  About five years ago, I touched one by mistake.  It was a fire stone, and I felt sick to my stomach the whole time I had the spell inside me.”

“Why doesn’t Ruby feel sick?”

“Nicolas, Ruby doesn’t really know the Master personally.  In my case, I felt sick to my stomach when I had that spell.  I believe that the Master was doing this to protect me from becoming addicted to them.  I used that fire spell as fast as I could on the ground, and I immediately felt better.  To this day, I have never touched another magic stone, and I try to keep away from them at all costs.”

Donna heard a noise in the distance, and glanced in the other trade house.  “Darlene….”

Darlene turned around.  “What is it, Donna?  I was talking to Nicolas….”  She then glanced at the other trade house.  “Oh.  Ruby’s done changing?  Thanks.  Let’s come back in, Nicolas.”

Nicolas followed Darlene back to the other trade house, with Donna trailing behind.

In the corner of the trade house sat Ruby, who had a smirk on her face.

Ruby approached Darlene and frowned.  “You had a bad experience.”

Nicolas looked at Ruby and gasped.  “Did she….”

Ruby nodded.  “I heard the whole thing.  How else do you think I get paid so well?  I have really good ears.”

Darlene sternly pointed her finger at Ruby.  “We discussed this before.  No amount of convincing….”

“….is going to make you use another magic stone.”  Ruby said in a worn out tone.  “And having discussed that before, I’m fine with that.  I still say that you’re missing out on all the fun.”

Nicolas’s stomach growled.  “Do we have any food around here?”

Ruby’s face lit up.  “That too is hidden.  I’ll let you have some, but it’s going to cost ya….”

Darlene motioned her hand over to Ruby.  “That’s okay, Ruby.  We brought our own food.”  She then opened her satchel and tore off a rather large piece of a sweetspice roll.  “Here.  Have this.”

Nicolas quickly grabbed the piece and ate it.  It was gone in seconds.  After that, Nicolas licked the crumbs and sweetspice off his fingers.  “That’ll do for now.”  He then looked at Ruby again, noticing that she was in the same rags as before.  “With all the money you have, can’t you afford decent clothes?”

Ruby shook her head.  “Why would I buy clothes?  I’m a streetear.  Streetears don’t make money by wearing nice clothes.  They wear rags, like this!  And for your information, this is a new set of rags.  I like my rags and I don’t want to wear anything else!  I have dressed like this since I was four, when my parents couldn’t find any decent clothes for me anymore.  I don’t tell you how to live your life, so don’t tell me how to live mine!”

Nicolas backed away from Ruby.  “Whoa….All I asked was a question….”

“And all I gave you was an answer.  Now, do you want to sneak into Saris castle or what?”

Darlene looked around the room and frowned.  “How do we get in?  I don’t see where the entrance would be, even if it was hidden.”

Ruby nodded.  “Exactly,” she whispered.  “We don’t want anyone finding these secret entrances, or the soldiers would seal them off.”

Nicolas looked around the room and shrugged.  “How are we getting to this room?”

“With a little fun.” Ruby said, giving her widest grin.

And with that, Ruby led them over to the center of the room.  She crouched down and grabbed two different satchels.  “Follow me…oh!  My rain shield is wearing out.  One second, everyone!”

Ruby reached into the satchel in her right hand scooped out a handful of magic stones.  The stones dissolved as each spell was absorbed into her body.

With each spell that was absorbed, a small magical shield grew over her head.  It was big enough for anyone who was nearby her to remain dry from the rain.

Donna and Nicolas stood underneath the shield, but Darlene backed away.

Ruby frowned.  “What’s wrong?”

Darlene scowled.  “I’m not standing underneath that shield.  I’d rather stay soaking wet then under that….that work of the cobra.”

Ruby shook her head and shrugged.  “Very well.  I’m not forcing you to remain dry but we need to hurry.  The rain shield spell doesn’t last long.”

Darlene shrugged and followed Ruby.  Nicolas and Donna stayed closely by her while Darlene followed at a distance.  Ruby led them a short distance into the other trade house.

Once there, Ruby stopped moving.  “Now this is the fun part,” she tittered.

Ruby reached into the other satchel and scooped out a heaping handful of magic stones.  The stones dissolved and her body began to glow as each spell was absorbed into her.  An aura then began to radiate from her body.  Tee hee hee hee hee….

The ground beneath Nicolas, Darlene and Donna began to lightly rumble.  The aura surrounding Ruby began to expand.  “This is so fun!” She giggled.  “I can’t believe you guys don’t like these things!”

Nicolas gasped, and began to look worried.  “Is what you’re doing safe?”

The glowing Ruby turned to face Nicolas.  “Of course it is!  I do this all the time!  How else can I lift these enormous slabs?  Tee hee!  Watch and learn!”

Darlene closed her eyes.  “Stop it!  Just stop it already!”

Ruby sighed.  “Do you want to get into the castle, or not? Just be quiet and stop ruining the fun!

Ruby stared at the ground and concentrated.  As she concentrated, a powerful shock wave lifted all the stones off the ground to reveal a small hole.

Darlene squinted her eyes open for a split second and screamed.  “Stop it, Ruby!”

Suddenly, a clank was made in the distance.  “Who’s that?!”

Ruby scowled.  “Great.  A soldier just heard us.  Hurry everyone!  Through the hole!”

Nicolas approached the hole.  “Will I even fit?”

“Yes!  Just go!  This psychic spell can only last so long!  Just hurry!”

Nicolas jumped through the hole.  It was a little wider than he thought it was.  Darlene and Donna quickly followed.

“Hey!” A voice shouted.  “Get back here! No! Stop!  Aaaaahhhhh!!!”

Ruby jumped down last.  “The stone slabs crushed him.  I was going to give you all directions, but Darlene had to ruin all the fun.”

Darlene stared at her and began to explode.  “Fun?  We almost got captured by a Saris soldier!”

“He would’ve heard us if you didn’t scream.   Now I don’t understand why you think these stones are so bad.”

Darlene sighed.  “That’s the problem, Ruby.  You don’t understand.”

“Let’s stop arguing and get to the castle.  After that, you’re all on your own.”

“Fair enough. Let’s go.”

Nicolas, Darlene and Donna all followed Darlene through the underground cavern.  As they were walking, a plague of numerous questions began filling Nicolas’s mind.  How were these caverns dug?  How long ago? Are these caverns used as sewers? The questions went on and on.

Darlene stared at Ruby and sighed.  She didn’t mean to argue or yell at her.  If only she knew the danger of those stones!  Then very quietly, she began to weep.  She knew it was okay to, since the cavern was dark enough, and no one could see her. Master, please open her eyes….

Donna quietly kept her pace with the others.  As she walked, a sudden sense of urgency overcame her.  Surely, the princess is still safe!  She quietly cupped her hands together and sighed.  I hope we’re not too late….

Suddenly, a noise was heard in the distance, followed by a voice.  “I think I hear them!”

“Where?” Another voice said.  “I don’t hear anything.”

“Just keep going.  We’ll find them.  They can’t get away!”

“Great….” Ruby sighed.  “They found us.  And we were almost to the castle, too!

“But don’t worry.  I know of a safe exit we can take, and it doesn’t require any magic stones.  We can reenter the cavern when the coast is clear.  Hurry!”

“There they are!” The voice shouted.  “I can almost see them!”

Ruby moved a stone tile and jumped up through the hole.  “Up here! Hurry!”

Nicolas, Darlene and Donna began proceeding forward, but were stopped by two Saris soldiers, that began to surround them.

“Don’t move any further, or we’ll cut you into pieces.” The Saris soldier said, brandishing his sword just inches from Nicholas.

Nicolas stared directly at the Saris soldier.  “Try me.”

Before the soldier could even react, Nicolas quickly grabbed his sword and knocked him back.

“I wouldn’t do that,” the other soldier warned.

“And why is that?”  Darlene said, as she raised her voice.

“There are more of us on the way.” The first soldier sneered.  “And if any of you move again or even speak, you’re all losing your limbs.”

Nicolas returned the sword to its sheath and nobody else even dared to say a word.

“Good.” The Saris soldier smiled.  “Now your sneaky little friend killed one of our ranks.  Fortunately, we were nearby.  I found your fox hole and entered it.”

“I went and summoned more soldiers.” the other soldier added.  “I then caught up with my comrade and led them on a hunt.

“And we caught ourselves a peasant and two adorable women!” The first one said with glee.

After exchanging glances, both soldiers roared with laughter.

Shortly after they laughed, more soldiers started entering through the cavern.

“We caught ourselves three runts!” The first Saris soldier shouted. “What should we do with them?”

“We should let our boss decide!” another one said.  “Let’s throw them in the dungeon!”

One of the soldiers that just arrived walked up to Nicolas and sneered at him.  “Nighty night!”

The soldier whacked Nicolas over the head with the hilt of his sword.  After that, everything went black.

______

©2012  K. L. Walker

The Master’s Chronicles: Chapter 2 – Suspicions (Part 6)

With Ruby gone, they continued their discussion.  Donna sat down, and continued to listen to them.  At this time, Nicolas still was not ready to talk about his father.  He was, however, interested in learning more about Darlene’s parents.  With that, he sat his tea cup down.  “Where are your parents?” he frowned.  I would love to meet them.”

Darlene walked over to a table and grabbed a book.  “You should be able to some day.”  she said, with a small smile.  “They’re up in the heavens with The Master.”

Nicolas quietly sighed.  It bothered him how Darlene wasn’t sad about the loss of her parents at all.  Not one bit.  “They are?” he gasped.  “And you’re not sad or anything?”

Darlene gave Nicolas what he considered to be a look of acceptance.  She followed with a nod.  “I used to be sad, but only for a short time.  I stopped crying when I realized where they have gone.  I realized that they are not really dead at all.  They just migrated up to the heavens.”

Nicolas took another sip of tea.  “How can you be sad for a short time? Nobody deals with loss like this.  Tell me, Darlene.  How long did you cry?  When did this happen?”

Darlene threw her hands out at Nicolas and shook her head.  “It was a short time!  Why are you so fixated on sorrow?  It doesn’t really matter how long I cried.  I only cried for, I guess, a couple hours.  All this happened six years ago.

“How about you?  You already told me that they raided Tulin.  Did you lose your parents too?”

“What would it matter to you anyway?  For all you know, she could’ve escaped.”

“Who escaped?  Darlene frowned.  “Your mother?  I am sorry, but I have no idea who you’re talking about.”

Nicolas shook his head.  “Why do you need to know?” he scowled.

Darlene stared Nicolas directly in the eye.  “Nicolas,” she sighed.  “I know how painful it is to lose a loved one.  Yes, it hurts.  But refusing to share your loss will make the pain you carry inside even greater.”

Nicolas broke down.  “How do you even know they’re gone?  They could very well be safe.”

“For one thing, you refuse to share with me anything regarding your parents.  If they were fine, wouldn’t you feel better about sharing them with me?  I know that you want them to be safe, but denial is not going to make you feel any better.  Tell me, Nicolas.  What happened to your parents?”

“Fine,” Nicolas sobbed.  “I’ll tell you if it will make you stop bugging me about it.  I lost my mother.  Some Saris soldiers stabbed her to death while I was hiding in the closet.  My father died four years ago in the Tulin/Saris war.  What else is there to know?  They’re gone, okay?”

Darlene’s face became somber.  “Thank you.  Now I’ll tell you how my parents died.  But first, their backgrounds.  My parents were ambassadors.  Six years ago, they were given an order from King Saris to kill King Tulin.  They refused to carry out this order and the king ordered them executed.  I found this strange for the king to be acting like this.  Before that, he never behaved this way.

“This made me sad when I heard what the king did.  I quickly got over it since I knew that my parents both believed in The Master and obeyed the teachings of the Copian scriptures.

“Looking back at this, I have plenty to be thankful for.  My parents both began teaching me the Copian scriptures when I was 2.  They also inherited the wealth from my grandfather’s fief of inn properties.  In addition to that, they generously shared their wealth with the peasants.”

Nicolas shook his head.  “So you’re wealthy and rich, huh?  What’s a rich girl like you doing even wasting time on a peasant like me?”

“Wealth is a burden,” Darlene sighed.  “Fortunately one that I handle well.  Being wealthy doesn’t make me better than you.  In fact, I try to help those who are less fortunate.”

“Like your friend Ruby, right?  Do you have an unlimited supply of wealth?”

“Of course not.  When they killed my parents, most of the money went to the Saris treasury.  I hid all the rest around the house.  Fortunately, they let me stay in my parent’s house and allowed me to live here as long as I give my allegiance to the king of Saris.  In a way, I do have some allegiance to him.  I am concerned with his corrupt behavior and selfish motives, though.”

Nicolas scratched his head.  “How long has that Ruby been helping you?”

Darlene’s eyes lit up.  “Ruby?  She’s been helping me since she first became a streetear.  I was one of her first customers, and thank goodness for her!  I mean, how else would I be able to know what’s really going on in Saris?  They don’t tell us anything at all.  The only things they tell us are the things they want us to hear.  Ruby has told me everything.  Before the Saris/Tulin war, they told us that they were going to have ‘peace negotiations’ with Tulin.  That never happened.  They went to war with Tulin to gather the Seed Relic.”

“Wait a second!” Nicolas frowned.  “Ruby became a streetear after the Tulin/Saris war.  Where did she get this information?”

“She heard this from several informed people in Saris.  Ruby’s not the only streetear, you know.”

“But wouldn’t the people here be suspicious of Saris going against their word?”

“Like I said, they told us what they wanted us to hear.  Saris told us that Tulin responded with hostility when they made their ‘peace negotiations’ with them.  We were told that they were ‘forced’ to go to war with them.  Saris knows that they must keep the trust of their people.  That makes them easier to manipulate.  Thank goodness for Ruby, or I would’ve never known anything about this.”

This greatly angered Nicolas.  Finally, he couldn’t take it anymore. He stood up and slammed his fist on the table.  “I hate this land!!!”

“Don’t blame the people.” Darlene said.  “They aren’t the ones responsible for killing innocent lives.”

“How could I not blame them?”  Nicolas argued.  “They killed my father and my mother!! Saris is responsible for their deaths and I can never forgive them for it.  I hate Saris!”

“Who killed them?”

“Saris soldiers.”

“You’re accusing the wrong people.  The people of Saris, even the nobles, are naïve to the kingdom’s sinister plots.  Only a select few who get their news from streetears are aware of what’s going on.  The cavalry, dragoons, chivalry, and the Saris monarchy are the ones to blame.”

“Fine then! I hate all the rulers and soldiers of Saris!”

“I too, despise them.  They have committed treacherous lies and have deceived most of the people of Saris.”

Nicolas finally opened up to Darlene and the discussion continued.  He decided to share with her how his father was quite the fighter.  Nicolas choked, recalling the stories his father told about his service in the Tulin cavalry.  But he didn’t stop there.  He mentioned how his father became the leader of Diamondheart.

“After fighting in the cavalry, he joined Diamondheart,” he said.  “He quickly advanced to the highest rank in a fairly short period of time.  He traveled all around Copia, slaying beasts and protecting countless towns from numerous monsters.  With that, he made a considerable amount of money.”

“Doesn’t that make you wealthy then?”

“Not really.  He said that he tried it before I was born.  He preferred the simple life.  He said that money only complicates things.  With that, he sold the mansion, moved into a smaller house, and traveled around – giving all of his earnings to the peasants he met in various towns.  The books were the only items that he didn’t sell.  One book opened his eyes and he used that book and others to educate my mother.”

“So the Copian scriptures changed his mind about wealth?”

“Actually, he had those views on wealth before he read the Copian scriptures.  He did tell me that the book made things clearer for him and he became even more humble as a result of it.  He told me that The Master is more important than any gold piece.

“After he spent a few years in Diamondheart, he was asked to join Tulin’s chivalry.  That was around the time I was born.  With that, our family moved into the castle and he served for about three years.  He then retired and moved back to the same smaller house that they lived in before.”

“Does that mean that he was forced out of retirement?”

“Exactly.  My father was ordered to fight in the Saris/Tulin war.  My father was thrilled at the idea of fighting for Tulin once again.  With that, he went off to war on a pegasus and I never saw him again.”

Darlene stood up and walked over to her bed.  She grabbed a book on the nearby night stand.  She opened up her book.  “You should join me.”

And Nicolas did.  Donna, however, didn’t want to participate since she wanted to start preparing dinner.  As she began preparing, they talked about the Copian scriptures for a while.  One topic that they discussed in particular was the Copian prophesy.  Nicolas didn’t understand the Copian scriptures as well as Darlene, but she was patient and clarified anything that he didn’t have a good understanding of.  They looked at Temler’s prophesy, who was one of several prophets that predicted the coming of the Master’s son: the MacMaster.  Darlene stressed that the MacMaster’s coming was soon, and expressed her excitement.

Darlene went into more detail regarding Temler’s prophesy.  She gave references to other scriptures, explaining that the MacMaster will be born from ‘one that has never lain with a husband’.  This confused Nicolas, and sounded impossible to him.  She continued with the passage from Origins I, which gave account of the creation of Copia and the temptation of Axis.  Using this passage, she explained how the MacMaster will undo the damage that Axis caused.  Nicolas, having recently read the beginning of Origins I, found this explanation new and interesting.

“He will be the perfect sacrifice to The Master.” she continued.  “As it says in the Copian scriptures, he will be ‘the shabbit’”

“What would he have to do with shabbits?”

“In our time, we have to make annual sacrifices to appease The Master for the wrongs that we have committed.  With MacMaster, he will die as the perfect sacrifice for all of our wrongs.”

“Man! You know everything!  How do you know all this?”

“I have studied this book for a long time.”

“But how do we know when this MacMaster is coming?  People have said that the son of The Master will be coming for years now!”

“You mean to tell me that you already know of the MacMaster?”

“I’ve never heard him called MacMaster before.  I only knew His name as the son of The Master.  I also can’t remember a lot of what I read.”

“You can’t remember because you don’t really apply what you read.”

Nicolas scratched his head and thought about what she told him.  “I guess you’re right.”

Darlene stared back down at the Copian scriptures.  “Do you want me to continue?”  she asked him.  “I can continue for as long as you wish.”

“I don’t know.  A lot of the stuff that I’m learning is kind of interesting.  How about as long as you wish?”

“Are you sure about that?  That could take hours.  Is that fine with you?”

“I don’t know if I want to study for that long.  You can teach me more later.”

Darlene closed her book.  “Very well then.  We can discuss more later.”

As Nicolas and Darlene were about to continue with their discussion, Donna came into the room.  “It’s done,” she said.  “Dinner is ready.  I’m sure you’ll both enjoy it.  Hurry now! You don’t want to eat it cold!”

Nicolas and Darlene followed Donna into the dining room.  The table was neatly set with all the food in its proper place.  The aroma of grilled flizard filled the room.  There was also a dish consisting of tomato, carrot, pickled radish, onion, potato, and cabbage with a hint of a rather strong spice.  There were two bowls of berries that were prepared: brambleberries and goldberries.  Sitting next to the berries was a plate full of sweetspice rolls.  A glass pitcher was filled with pachyow milk (a pachyow is an elephant-like cow), which sat at the center of the table.  The food was exceptional, and was something that a peasant could never afford to eat.  Nicolas was surprised, as he surveyed the display of culinary excellence.  “It all looks so good,” he finally said.  “Thank you, Donna.”

Donna nodded with a smile, and motioned him toward his seat.  “You’re welcome,” she said.

“Grilled flizard pockets?” Darlene gasped.  “You’ve really outdone yourself this time, Donna.”

She nodded at Darlene.  “We do have a guest, right?  And you do know the proper etiquette when handling a guest.”

“Of course I do.  Thank you very much, Donna.”

Nicolas rubbed his stomach and scowled.  “What are we waiting for? I’m hungry!”

Darlene laughed in response to this, and they all began eating.  Before they began, Darlene said a blessing that she made years ago, around the time she lost her parents.  They then dug in, passing the food around the table, until everyone got their fill.  The flizard pocket was stuffed with a spicy sauce, which tasted strongly of dragon pepper, honey, and ginger.  As they were eating, they began to discuss what they heard from Ruby earlier.  Darlene especially wanted to talk about Princess Saris’s capture, considering this greatly concerned her.

“We have to do something,” she said as she reached for a sweetspice roll.  “Princess Saris gets executed tonight.  We should try to rescue her.”

Nicolas sighed, as he scooped another spoonful of goldberries.  “R…rescue her?  Are you out of your mind?  How do you expect to sneak into the castle?  There are guards everywhere.  I’ve been in there, and I’m NOT going back!”

“We have to, Nicolas.” she insisted.  “They are going to kill her!  If they captured her, she can’t be all that bad, right?”

Nicolas finished the rest of his brambleberries.  “Yes, but how do we get inside?  It would take a miracle to get inside there.”

“We have one.  Ruby knows the castle inside and out.  She could guide us to the underground passageways she uses to sneak around the castle.  Please Nicolas.  I need you to help me save her.”

Nicolas thought about it for a while.  An idea suddenly surfaced, which totally changed his attitude.  Revenge.  Those Saris idiots will pay for killing me.  “I’ll help.” he finally said, after finishing his pachyow milk.  “Those idiots have already killed me.  I won’t let them do the same to her.”

Donna, after finishing her vegetable dish cleared her throat.  “I’ll help too.” she said.  “I just think it’s crazy for a king to order their own daughter killed.  We can’t have her die.”

Nicolas moved his dishes forward.  “There’s one problem.”

Darlene frowned.  “What is it?”
“I understand how we are going to get into the castle,” he explained.  “But how are we going to escape with the princess?  We’ll be caught for sure!”

“I’ve haven’t really thought about the escape.  I guess that’s where things get a little dicey.  We might have to fight our way out, or something like that.”

“Fight our way out against a whole army of Saris soldiers?  Good luck with that!”

“There’s no other way that I can think of to escape with her.  I guess we get her into the underground passageways and try to escape from there.”

“I guess that would work.”

Nicolas and Darlene continued discussing the plan to rescue Princess Saris.  There were, however, still a couple of problems with the plan.  Nicolas didn’t know where they would escape with the princess.  Darlene suggested that they take her back to the house.  Nicolas didn’t like the idea, since everyone knew the princess and they would quickly be found out.  It was then decided that they would escape somewhere away from Saris, which would be discussed later.  In the middle of the discussion, Donna washed all the dishes from the dinner and put them away.  She then continued listening to the discussion of the plan, which Nicolas and Darlene were wrapping up.

When the plan was finally finished, Nicolas spoke up, getting Darlene and Donna’s attention.  “The time has come!” he announced.  “Let’s put this plan into action! What are we waiting for?”

Darlene frowned, and held up her hand.  “I think that we should pray first.”

Nicolas nodded.  “Okay.  We’ll do that first.”

So the three of them all joined hands and began praying for The Master to aid them in their plan to infiltrate Saris Castle and rescue Princess Saris.

______

©2011  K. L. Walker

The Master’s Chronicles: Chapter 2 – Suspicions (Part 5)

The person knocking on the door appeared to be a girl, wearing nothing but stitched up rags in various colors.  Her orangish brown hair was unkempt, and it went down to her neck.  She also smelled horrible, like a person who has not bathed in weeks.  Donna was well familiar with this girl, and invited her in.  Donna then shouted at Darlene, who was still conversing with Nicolas upstairs.  “Darlene! Ruby’s here!”

Back upstairs in Darlene’s bedroom, Donna caught her attention.  “Okay! Just bring her upstairs!”  She then turned to Nicolas.  “We’ll have to continue this conversation later.”

Nicolas frowned, and gave Darlene a look of bewilderment.  “Who is Ruby?”

Darlene couldn’t help but smile.  “Ruby is a real nice girl.  One whom I get all my information from.”

“Information about what?”

Darlene brought her face close to Nicolas.  “She’s a streetear.”

“A really good streetear,” a voice responded from behind them, which shocked both Nicolas and Darlene.

They both turned to see a girl standing there, with Donna.

Nicolas then took a careful look at the girl.  She was a grungy little street urchin that Nicolas figured to be slightly younger than Ruth, his lifelong friend that he talked to back in Tulin Square.  If he were to pinpoint an age, he would guess that she would be about ten.  Now this girl was odd to Nicolas, as he had never seen a streetear that was a female.  He has seen his share of male streetears running around the streets of Tulin, but this streetear was another story.  Looking down at her in disbelief, he blurted out, “You’re a girl streetear?”

The streetear stared Nicolas straight in the eye. “What’s wrong with a girl streetear, huh?” she shouted.  “Do you have a problem with that?”  Ruby gave Nicolas a shove, which sent him to the ground.  At the sight of this, she playfully giggled.

Nicolas stared up at Ruby from the ground, gasping.  The girl has a lot of spunk!  He found her no-nonsense attitude and tomboyish behavior surprising.  “I’m sorry, Ruby.  I’ve just never seen one before.”

Ruby walked up to Nicolas and stared down at him.  “You have now.  Get used to it.”  She then turned to Darlene.  “I have some news for you.”  The streetear sat down and held out her hand, expecting money.

Darlene went to her wardrobe and grabbed a small bag that was loaded with gold coins.  She walked over to Ruby and sat down.  “And I have some more gold coins for you.  Tell away, Ruby.”  She placed a few gold coins in Ruby’s hand.

“The more you give, the more I tell.” Ruby grinned, placing the gold coins in her bag.  “What you have given me has earned you the news that I am about to tell you.

“Last night, near Saris Castle, some Saris soldiers brought in a prisoner from Tulin.  This Tulinite was a boy, and was placed in the dungeon until they were ready to interrogate him.  He was stripped down to his underwear and was violently thrown into a cell.  In spite of this, he was still unconscious during this time.”

Nicolas held his hand out at Ruby and shook his head in disbelief.  “Wait a second,” he scowled.  “How are you getting all this information?”

Ruby smirked, in response to this question.  “There are several hidden passageways in that castle.  Passageways that only I know the whereabouts of.  And let’s just say that I happened to be in the right place at the right time.  Now do you wanna hear the rest of the story?”

Everyone nodded.  Ruby however, just sat there and shook her head.  “Na-ah.”  She held out her hand again.  “Give me some more coins, and I’ll tell you.”  The streetear said.

An important thing one should know about Ruby, or any good streetear for that matter, is how they give you their information.  When you pay them, they will surely give you news.  The problem however, is that they will, at any time they wish, ask for additional money in order for them to tell you more of the news, until the whole story is told.  This shrewd practice has resulted in a few streetears becoming wealthy.  And it is because of this practice that streetears are considered unpopular among the poor and less fortunate.

Darlene, who was very well familiar with the way Ruby worked, plopped a few more gold coins into her hand.

Ruby stared at the small pile of gold coins in her hands, making sure it was enough.  “Thank you.”  She placed the coins into her bag and continued.  “The Tulinite was taken away to be interrogated.  To put the story short, he knew nothing and was stabbed to death.  The body was thrown out of the castle, and remained within the castle gates to be disposed of in the bone yard later.”

Darlene frowned when Ruby suddenly stopped speaking.  “And?”

Ruby shook her head and sighed.  “And what? That’s all I know! In my hiding place, I fell asleep.  When I woke up, the body was gone!”

Nicolas could stay silent no longer.  He tapped Ruby on the shoulder and cleared his throat.  “That’s not the whole story.  For one thing, I’m the ‘body’ that those Saris idiots left in the castle for dead! To finish the st-“

“Wait!” shouted Ruby, who was now shocked and terrified.  “How were you brought back to life?  Now that you mentioned it, you do look familiar.  But I have no idea how you could’ve been brought back to life.  Are you some kind of ghost, or something?”

Nicolas frowned.  “Can ghosts do this?”  He touched one of her rags, and Ruby shook her head.  “Okay.  Now let me finish my story.  From what I can recall, the next thing I remembered was waking up in this bedroom.  Now according to what Darlene has told me, somebody carried my body out of the castle walls.  They left me near this house and Donna found me.  Both Donna and Darlene carried me to this bedroom.  And.…”

“….I prayed.” Darlene interrupted, continuing the story.  “And with the hand of The Master, he was brought back to life.”

Ruby marveled at hearing the story.  She was especially moved when she heard that The Master revived Nicolas.  “Amazing story.  That reminds me….”  And from behind her rags, she pulled out a book.  “I found a copy of the Copian scriptures when I was inside the castle gates.  I only know about this book ‘cause my parents used to have a book that looked like this.  I can’t read so I don’t really have any use for this.”

At the sight of seeing that book, Nicolas gasped.  “That’s mine.” he said.  “That was one of the things I took with me when I fled from home.”

When Ruby heard this, she smiled and held out her hand in front of Nicolas.  “That’ll be 500 gold coins.”

Nicolas lunged at the streetear, who tried to keep the book away from him. “Give me that book!  I shouldn’t have to pay to get my book back!”

After playing keep-away for a short while, Ruby held out the book.  “I’m only joking.”  she giggled.  “Can’t you take a joke?  Here’s your book.”  And with that, she handed the Copian scriptures back to Nicolas, who then placed it on the table, near his empty cup.  Ruby then directed her attention back at Darlene.  “I still have some more news for you.  Would you like to hear it?”

Darlene nodded, which prompted Ruby to hold her hand out again.  Darlene dropped another handful of gold coins into her hand.  Ruby frowned, waving her other hand down at the hand filled with coins.  With this hand, she sharply pointed at the coins.  It wasn’t enough.  Politely nodding, Darlene placed another small handful of gold coins in Ruby’s hand.  Ruby gleefully smiled, and placed the coins in her bag, which was now full.

Noticing this, Ruby bunched the end of the bag and tied it shut.  She then took the bag, and lifting one of several patches of her stitched garments, placed the bag inside, like a pocket.  Ruby reached into another one of her patch-pockets and pulled out an empty bag.  “Now this bit of news cost a little bit more, but trust me.  It will be worth every bit you gave me, as this will really shock you….”

“Wait!”  Nicolas interrupted, gazing at the all the colored patches of Ruby’s stitched garments.  “Are all those patches pockets?”

Ruby, in response to this, sighed.  It wasn’t the question that Nicolas asked.  It was the very fact that she wanted to get on with her story.  Darlene understood this frustration, for she knew how valuable time was for a streetear.  And if it was anything that Ruby hated, it was having her time wasted by someone who lacked the knowledge of how a streetear conducts business.  “Every one of them is, okay?”  The streetear scowled.  “How do you expect us to carry around what we make, huh?  Now let me get back to my story already!

“Here’s the shocker.  Just a few hours ago, in the morning, some Saris soldiers have captured Princess Saris.  The reason for her capture was that she was caught spying on her father, King Saris.  They threw her into the dungeon, where she remains now.  She will be executed tonight.”

When Darlene heard this news, her mouth dropped wide open.  “Tonight?” she gasped.  “I’ve always known from your news that the king was corrupt.  But why would he do this to his own daughter?”

Ruby shook her head and frowned.  “I could not tell you.  If I knew, you would have been paying me a whole lot of gold coins to find out.  Since I first started as a streetear, the king has always been like this.”

Darlene placed her hand on Ruby’s shoulder.  “Well, it’s nothing that is within our control.  The Master is in control, though.  Now I understand the importance of you time.  Do you have any other news?”

Ruby nodded, and gave her a rather bright smile.  “I have one more story for ya.  And this one’s expensive.  I’ll even tell you what it’s about, for free.”

“Let’s hear it,” Darlene said.

“Okay.  I know where the Seed Relic is.  That’s all you’re gonna get for free.  Do you still want to hear it?”

Darlene nodded.  “Tell away.”

This time, Ruby held out both her hands together, with a rather large smirk on her face.  “Let’s see it.”

Darlene poured the rest of her bag of gold coins into Ruby’s outstretched palms.  Ruby cleared her throat impatiently, as Darlene ran and fetched another bag of gold coins out of her wardrobe.  She poured the bag of coins until they spilled out of Ruby’s hand and onto the floor.  Quite pleased now, Ruby scooped up all the coins, filling her empty bag, and gathered all the coins that spilled on the floor.  She placed these coins into her bag and tied the bag shut.  She placed the loaded bag into another one of her patch-pockets.

Thank you.” Ruby said.  “Now I heard last night from King Saris and General Tarmis where this Seed Relic is that they keep talking about.

“The Seed Relic is far north in Tulin.  Some Saris soldiers got this information out of some Tulin nobles.  King Tulin has the other half of the relic, and is nowhere to be found in Tulin Castle.”

“There’s two halves to this relic?” Nicolas asked.

“Of course.” Ruby said, as she continued.  “I know that the Power Relic here in Saris is made up of two parts.  The scepter and the plaque.  The plaque looks like a tiny shield and displays a picture representing the emblem of power: a lightning bolt.”

“All the relics have two parts.” Darlene said.  “This, I knew from studying the Copian Scriptures.  “What I didn’t know was that Saris is looking for the Seed Relic.  Do you have any other information on the Seed Relic?”

“That’s all I have,” Ruby said.  “You paid for everything that I knew about the Seed Relic.  That’s it.”

Darlene nodded and placed her hand on Ruby’s shoulder.  “As always, thank you for updating me with the news.  How has business been today?”

“Good as usual,” Ruby proudly boasted.  “All my other usual customers are paying me pretty well.  And so are you.  You have just bought me a nice dinner.  A real nice dinner.  As always, thank you for the gold coins!  I’ll catch ya later!”

And with that, the streetear merrily skipped out of the room and down the stairs.  Darlene returned the partially full bag to her wardrobe.

Nicolas was appalled at Ruby’s behavior.  She was certainly a surprise from the start, but her greed and arrogance really got to him.  For her, it was all about money, and how often she could hose people.  When she received the money, she made sure that she rubbed it right in their face. That snotty brat! Finally, Nicolas spoke up.  “How could you let her get away with so much of your money?”

“Nicolas,” Darlene said, with a sigh.  “That’s just the way Ruby is.  I know that she can act arrogant at times, but that’s just her.  She has lived on the street for quite a while, and that’s just how streetears conduct their business.”

“By being greedy and arrogant?” Nicolas retorted.  “How can you call such behavior ‘business-like’?  Why, her parents would be outraged!  They should hold her down, and give her a good spanking!”

“Her parents are dead.”  Darlene argued.  “They both died from catching disease on the streets.  Ruby told me the whole story.

“When Ruby was two, her parents ran out of money.  This forced them to sell their house and live on the streets.  They lost everything but the clothes on their backs.  They only had a little money left to buy food, but that was it.

“Near the food markets, they used Ruby to beg for food.  At the sight of seeing a such a poor baby, many people took pity on the child and gave them some food.  On a couple instances, some vendors felt so awful that they bought some of the food they sold and gave it to the family.  Using Ruby worked for a while, but it wouldn’t work much longer.

“When Ruby was three, her father taught her how to beg.  He also taught her how to steal, which was done every now and then.  He knew that the time would come when begging wouldn’t work anymore.  As time passed, Ruby got better at stealing, which was good for them, since begging was becoming less and less effective.

“Suddenly, a horrible disease swept the city.  Ruby’s parents became sick and eventually died.  At age five, Ruby had to learn to make it on her own.  She stole food to survive and did this for a year.

At age six-and-a-half, Ruby was still stealing food.  While sitting next to the wall of a house, she overheard some people talking.  While she didn’t understand the information that was being said, she listened carefully.  On her way to steal some more food, she repeated everything she heard from the conversation that she heard earlier.  She didn’t know what she was saying, but she thought that it was funny.  A person nearby told her that she had some valuable information, and that they would pay her for it.  With that, she started listening to everyone.  Being careful on who she talked to, she approached people and they paid her for her information.

“And the rest is history.  At ten, Ruby is making a real good living for herself.  You owe me a good apology for everything you said about her.  I would hardly call her greedy and arrogant. It’s who she is and how she was raised.  She’s actually pretty nice once you get to know her.”

Nicolas was overwhelmed and heartbroken.  And being at a loss for words, he didn’t know what to say.  He had no idea what Ruby had to go through.  He took the entire story in and pondered it.  The more he pondered, the worse he felt about what he said.  His eyes began to mist and he sniffed.  Now was the time to apologize.  “I….” he gulped, choking back a sob.  “I had no idea at all that she was raised like this!  I’m sorry, and I take back everything that I said!”

Darlene smiled, and she embraced Nicolas.  “Apology accepted.”

______

©2011  K. L. Walker

The Master’s Chronicles: Chapter 2 – Suspicions (Part 4)

Nicolas swallowed his tea and began choking.  After a few coughs, his mouth became agape.  “I was?  Wait a second! Am I still in Saris?”

Darlene was losing it, fast.  Noticing that she was crying, Donna quickly broke out a handkerchief and handed it to her.  Darlene grabbed the handkerchief and wiped the tears from her eyes.  “Thanks Donna….”  She then turned to Nicolas and nodded.  “Yes, you are still in Saris.

“Now listen.  Here is what happened.  It all started this morning, when I was woken up by Donna.  Now I knew something strange was going on, because Donna normally wakes me up to give me tea, with a warm honey biscuit for breakfast.  However, when she woke me this time, she sounded worried.  She mentioned that there was….a dead corpse lying outside of the house.”

Donna gestured her hand toward Darlene and jumped in.  “When I found you lying there, I was confused and terrified.”  she choked.  “This was a young man that was in just his undergarments and mostly covered in blood.  I asked Darlene if we should bury him or find someone else to help bury him.”

Darlene regained her composure and continued.  “When I saw you, I was overcome with this feeling that suddenly came to me.  I strongly felt that your time came too early.  Perhaps you were not supposed to die yet.  As I thought about this, the feeling became stronger and continued to burden me.  I now knew that you were not supposed to die.  I couldn’t explain it, but I just knew.

“Then I heard a small voice.  It was almost quiet, and it told me to bring the body inside.  When I heard this voice, I knew that it was The Master talking to me.  Knowing that, I obeyed and got you inside.  Donna helped me.  She thought that I was crazy, but after telling her about the voice I heard, she agreed to help.

“After bringing you upstairs to my room with Donna, I cleaned off the blood and put new clothes on you….I heard The Master again.  He told me to place my hands on you.  I did this and prayed, asking The Master to bring you back.  Nothing happened.  With Donna’s help, I put you in my bed….I ran to another room across the hall and cried.  This room was the room that I always prayed in.  I cried and began to pray.  I prayed again and again that you would come back to life.

“Hours passed as I continued praying.  Suddenly, I heard Donna from the other room.  She told me that you were alive.” Darlene sat on the bed next to Nicolas and hugged him, bawling with joy.  “And I’m so glad you’re alive.” she cried.

Nicolas was shocked.  He sat there for a moment and thought about the story that Darlene told him.  After a while, everything he heard started to make sense.  He wrapped his arms around Darlene and hugged her tight. “Thank you, Darlene.”

Darlene shook her head and broke away from Nicolas’s grip.  “No.” she refused.  “Don’t thank me.  Thank The Master for reviving you.  I am powerless by myself.  The only power I have is the power that The Master works through me.”

Nicolas got to his knees, closed his eyes, and prayed.  “Thank you, Master!”  After doing this, there was one thing that still puzzled him.  He turned to Darlene.  “How did I end up right outside your house?”

Darlene frowned.  “I’m sorry, but I honestly don’t know how you ended up there.  Oh, how I wish I could tell you!  All I know is that you were not placed there by mistake.  Someone put you there and we found you.”

“Okay.”  Nicolas sighed.  “I hope I find this nice person.  I would like to thank them.”

Darlene handed the handkerchief back to Donna.  “I hope so, too.”

Nicolas sipped the last of his tea, and set the cup on the chestnut oak table.  That stuff was quite strong, and it brought back some fond memories.  He understood the strength of wildflower tea, for he knew where wildflowers came from.  These wildflowers grew deep in the green meadows of the Chronos continent.  These meadows were at the base of the Shifting Mountains on the Hour Peninsula.  Nicolas knew the area well, but only from the tales that his father used to tell him.  One of his favorite tales was when his father explained to him what his favorite drink was.  “It wasn’t the beer,” his father said.  “It wasn’t the wine.  It was the tea.  Wildflower tea.”  But that was only the beginning of the story, and Nicolas spent several moments thinking about the story from beginning to end.

Finally, Darlene said something that snapped Nicolas out of his reverie.  “Nicolas!  Are you going to answer me?”

Nicolas suddenly saw Darlene again.  “I’m sorry.  What did you say?”

Darlene scowled, and shot him a double take.  “I was just wondering if you were going to say anything.  Please tell me.  Where were you?  In your little world?”

Nicolas smiled and nodded.  Then he looked at his empty cup.  “It was the tea.  Wildflower tea.  It brought back memories of my father.  He loved this tea.  It was his favorite drink in all of Copia, and he made sure you knew it.”

This quickly changed Darlene’s countenance, and she smiled.  “Oh….Your father?  I am sorry that I shouted at you.  Was he killed?  You sound like you really miss him.”

Nicolas let out a deep sigh.  “Let’s not talk about my father right now,” he snapped.  “He is gone. No more!  We’ll talk about it later!”

This greatly upset Donna.  She stood up abruptly and defended Darlene.  “All she asked was a simple question.” the maidservant frowned.  You didn’t need to lash out at her like that.”

Darlene held out her hand, motioning Donna to sit back down.  “It’s okay, Donna.  It’s very painful for him, and I understand what he’s going through.”

Nicolas shook his head.  “You wouldn’t.  Let’s just move on, and talk about something else.”

“What would you like to talk about?  If you have nothing, then I would suggest that we just learn more about each other.  What is your last name?”

“Gillings,” Nicolas replied tersely.  “Now that you mentioned it, there is something that I have been wondering about for awhile.  In my head, I have been trying to guess your age.”

Darlene’s eyes lit up and she grinned.  “Really?  How old do you think I am?”

“Sixteen,” Nicolas guessed.

Darlene shook her head.  “Close.  I’m fifteen years and eleven months.  You must be sixteen, then.”

Nicolas shook his head, smiling.  “Close.  I’m fifteen years and eight months.”

“Oh, you are?  We’re only three months apart!”

The conversation between Nicolas and Darlene continued.  They asked more questions and learned more about each other.  Donna was content with just sitting beside them and listening to their whole conversation, which took quite a while.

For those of you who are wondering, the very next thing they talked about was their birthdays.  Nicolas mentioned his birthday, which was on the 61st day of Spring during the second month.  As you see, some Copians don’t use an official calendar.  This varied depending on region.  Being from Tulin, Nicolas didn’t use a calendar, but he, like most Tulinites, consistently kept track of each sunrise and sunset during the year.  The only ones in Tulin to use a calendar were Tulin royalty and a few nobles.  Darlene, living in Saris, used the calendar that was mandated for all the people of Saris to use. She mentioned her birthday to Nicolas, which was on the 1st of August.  Despite the differences in the Saris calendar and the Tulinites method of dating, their birthdays were roughly 3 months apart.

Besides birthdays, Nicolas and Darlene talked about various other things.  Every now and then, Donna got up from listening and offered them some wildflower tea. Nicolas told her that he was from Tulin, and they talked about their favorite foods, their favorite drinks, and several other topics.

In the middle of their conversation, there was a sudden knock on the door.  Being so absorbed in their discussion, neither Nicolas nor Darlene heard the knock.  Donna did, and rushed downstairs to see who it was.

______

©2011  K. L. Walker

The Master’s Chronicles: Chapter 2 – Suspicions (Part 3)

Nicolas stood up.  He felt around his face for blood, but there wasn’t any.  Not a single drop on his body.  He felt around his back for the lashes, but instead felt a soft silky fabric.  Nicolas was fully clothed, and was surrounded by darkness.  Am I dead now?

Nicolas walked around the darkness.  “What is this place?” he wondered.  Where are the heavens?  Is this the end?

Nicolas looked up to the darkness above him. “Helloooooooooooooo!” His voice echoed.  Gusts of wind started to blow and it howled.  He ran in the darkness.  “Hellooooooooooooooooo!” He kept running and running until he couldn’t run any more.  Gasping for air, he sat down, wondering where he was and where he was going.

Suddenly, a pillar of light shined directly on Nicolas.  It came from some place high in the air.  He could not see where the source of light was coming from.  It was beyond what Nicolas could see. The pillar of light intensified, and he began to hear a chorus of chants.  But as he heard this more and more, he realized that this wasn’t chanting.

It was a series of whispers, in a mysterious language Nicolas could not understand.  The collective, perpetuating sound of several whispers combined into a beautiful symphony.  The whispers became more and more, reaching a crescendo.  Each voice was different.  Each varied in pitch and tone.  All the voices shared the same common request.  One whisper, however, stood out from all the rest.  This one was crying.

Amongst the melodious whispers, the pillar of light lifted Nicolas upward.  “What is going on?”

The pillar of light lifted Nicolas higher and higher.  Finally, it shot Nicolas down into the darkness.  “Where am I g…ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!”

Nicolas opened his eyes.  To his surprise, there was no blood on him at all.  He was lying in a fairly spacious bed, with pink covers.  It was a girl’s bed, Nicolas guessed, but he didn’t care.  The only thing that mattered to him right now was where in Copia he was and what happened to him.  He then noticed a young woman wearing a maid outfit.  It was the kind of clothes a servant girl would wear.  Who is this girl, and where am I?  This left Nicolas shocked and confused.

“Darlene!” the young woman shouted.  “He’s alive!”

“He is?” a young woman’s voice shouted from another room.

Nicolas pulled back the pink covers.  There was not a scratch to be found anywhere.  He felt around his back for the wounds that would have been left by all the lashes he received.  There were none.  This did not make sense at all.  How was this so? He felt brand new and was now in the room of a complete stranger.  Was it all a bad dream?  The capture? The dungeon? Being stabbed to death?  Nicolas shook his head in confusion.  What is going on here?

Another young woman ran into the room to see Nicolas sitting on the bed.  She waved her hands and jumped for joy.  “He is, Donna! Thank you, Master! Thank you!”

Nicolas’s sight adjusted, and he began to take stock of the various surroundings.  He saw a lavishly decorated room, filled with all kinds of luxuries a person would have if they could buy whatever they wanted.  There was a chestnut oak table in the corner and a wardrobe lined with bronze in the other corner.  Atop the table sat the Copian Scriptures, all aged and worn.  It, however, looked different from Nicolas’s copy.  His copy looked brand new, which clearly indicated how little he studied it.  Next to the Copian Scriptures was a diary, with a quill pen sitting in a jar of ink.  A candelabrum with three lit candles sat in the center of the table.  With all the colors and decorations, this, Nicolas knew, was a girl’s room.  A rich girl’s room.  Then it hit him.  How could a peasant like him even compare to her?

The girl stared at Nicolas and smiled.  She figured he was still shocked from what happened to him, which would be revealed soon enough.  “It’s okay.”  She then turned to Donna.  “Donna, can you please get him some wildflower tea?  He still looks shaken.”

The girl was right.  Nicolas was shaken.  Normally, Nicolas would have been able to gather his wits by now.  But this situation was over his head, and left him dumbfounded, not being as sharp and full of wit as he was.  He stared at this girl with confusion, and began pondering various things concerning him.  Who was this girl?  Where was he, and how did he end up in this house?  Was I really dead, or was I dreaming?

Nicolas looked at the girl again.  She was, he guessed, about his age and looked beautiful.  He glanced at her clothes head to toe.  She wore an azure dress, with a white petticoat and white stockings.  Her black hair was like silk, and flowed halfway down her back.  Her eyes were blue.  Her complexion, smooth and fair.  Two small golden earrings adorned her lobes.  It was at this moment that Nicolas fell under her spell.  At least it felt that way to Nicolas, considering that the girl has never practiced magic before in her life.  The love spell had worked its full effect on Nicolas, and he was now deeply in love with her.  Looking at her face again, he noticed that it was moist with tears.  Who did she say she was again? Nicolas was determined to find out.

Nicolas then redirected the attention to himself and noticed that he was wearing strange new clothes.  It was an old red shirt with tan pants to match.  This he knew, was not the same clothes he wore before his capture.  His undergarments were the only clothes he remembered wearing.  Touching the shirt and pants, which he didn’t like, puzzled him.  Who dressed me?

The girl saw Nicolas staring at his clothes.  He must still be in shock, she figured.  Maybe the tea will help.  She then pointed at the clothes that Nicolas was wearing.  “Oh, those?” She said.  “I dressed you in father’s old clothes.  You were only in your undergarments when I found you.”

Nicolas took another stare at the girl.  Finally regaining his wits, he was trying to think of what to say.  It had to impress her.  Nothing stupid, he figured, or she would laugh, and this would embarrass him.  I can’t say anything dumb or I’ll blow it.  Finally, after mustering all the courage he had in himself, he said, “I’m Nicolas.”

The girl kneeled down near the bed Nicolas was sitting on.  “Nicolas? That’s a nice name.  I’m Darlene.  Actually, my full name is Darlene Heartsworth.  I’m so happy that you’re alive!”

Nicolas frowned, and shook his head in disbelief.  “Alive?  The last thing that I can remember is being stabbed to death….”  That was all it took for Nicolas to burst into tears.  Brushing the tears off his eyes, his face reddened with embarrassment.  He blew it.  “Sorry,” he replied sheepishly.

On the bed, Darlene kneeled down near Nicolas and placed her hand on his shoulder.  “It’s okay,” she said.  “Let it out.”

Another woman entered the room, holding a cup filled with tea.  Nicolas still didn’t get the name of this woman in servant’s clothes.  Another feature that he noticed was that her hair was pulled back in a ponytail.  He also noticed the robes she wore and the sandals that covered her feet.  “Here’s your tea, sir.  It’s wildflower tea.  I hope you enjoy it.”

Nicolas wiped off the remaining tears and grabbed the cup from the woman.  “I surely will.  And, who are you?”

Darlene’s face blushed, and she turned back to Nicolas.  “I’m sorry!  I haven’t introduced her to you!  This is Donna, my maid and best friend.”

Donna curtsied, and gave a smile of approval.  “It’s a pleasure to meet you….”

“Nicolas.” he replied tersely.  “And Darlene, can you tell me what is going on?  Where am I, and how did I end up here?”

As Darlene was beginning to speak, Donna sat to the left of her, and listened in to the discussion.

Darlene began to speak, but no words came out.  And it was quite hard for her to get them out. Tears began to run down Darlene’s cheeks, as the memory flashed back into her mind. “You….” she finally said, gulping.  “You….were dead!”

______

©2011  K. L. Walker

The Master’s Chronicles: Chapter 2 – Suspicions (Part 2)

Nicolas was sitting on the cold floor of the Saris Castle dungeon, shivering.  It was the best thing that he could do to get warm.  He tried standing and lying on his back and stomach.  No matter what he tried, he still felt cold.  He finally tried sitting on the icy cold rock floor.  It felt like needles stabbing every area of his legs.  It was a sharp, numbing pain that worsened by the second.

Nicolas just sat there, still wondering why The Master put him here in this dungeon.  Maybe The Master is done with me.  But why?  Maybe he found someone else that would be more useful?  Someone that wouldn’t just go and screw things up?  I’m a failure. This, he knew.  A failure destined to rot in the Saris dungeon forever.

He thought of the words that The Master told him.  I am of great use to him?  Forget it.  “The only use I am to him is to be disposed of….” he muttered.  “I was chosen to get captured and then die in this accursed dungeon….Yeah, that’s useful.”

Nicolas then heard a faint sound in the distance.  It sounded like someone screaming.  Judging on the faintness of the sound, he figured that it was coming from the castle above.

He then heard the sound of quick footsteps, click-clacking against the stone floor.  The footsteps got louder and louder with each step.  He then began to hear the jangling of armor and the formation of dark shadows.

The shadows appeared to be two Saris soldiers, one of them holding a ring of keys.

The one with the keys opened up the door to Nicolas’s cell.  He lunged forward and yanked Nicolas back.  “The general says it’s time to talk.”

“Yeah!” the other one said.  “And you better talk.  You’re coming with us.”

Nicolas shuddered.  “Where are you taking me?”

The one with the keys sneered.  “That’s not important. All you need to know is that you’re going to be interrogated and you better cooperate with us.”

“Yeah Will!” the other one shouted.  “You tell him!”

Will turned back and scowled. “Shut up, Bill!”

The two soldiers took Nicolas up some stairs and down a few hallways.  They finally entered a small room with a table and a couple of chairs.  A couple of Saris soldiers were summoned to stand in front of the door, to make sure that Nicolas wouldn’t escape.  A third soldier was summoned, and was given a whip. Will sat down in one of the chairs, and motioned the third soldier to stand behind Nicolas.  The interrogation was ready to begin.

Right as Will was about to ask Nicolas a question, another soldier, with different armor and a cape entered the room.  “I sent some other soldiers to apprehend the princess,” he told them.  “You two, see if that Tulinite peasant knows anything.  I then want you both to report back to me, understand?”

“Yes, General Tarmis!” Will and Bill shouted.

“Good.  Begin the interrogation!”

The general left the room.

Will stood up and walked forward.  “Okay.  Let me handle this.  It only takes one person to do this job.”

Bill frowned.  “But the general says that….”

“I don’t care what the general says.  I’ll interrogate him and I’ll call you back when I need you, okay?”

“Fine! Have it your way.”

Bill stormed out of the room.

Nicolas faced the nearby door, which was guarded by two Saris soldiers. He turned back and faced Will, who grinned victoriously.

“There’s no way out.”  Will grinned, as he pulled out his sword.  “Don’t even think of escaping, or this blade is going through your neck.”

Nicolas stood firmly, and remained motionless.

Will returned the sword to its sheath.  “Good.  Now here are the rules.  I’m going to ask you some questions and you’re going to answer them, okay?”

“Alright,” Nicolas choked.

Will brought his face close to Nicolas.  “Where is the Seed Relic?  King Saris wants to know.”

“I have no idea where the Seed Relic is,” Nicolas’s voice quavered.

Will motioned the whipper, which struck Nicolas directly in the back.

“OW!” Nicolas quivered in pain.

“Wrong answer!”  Will growled.  “You live in Tulin.  My troops found you there.  Since you live there, you should know something about the relic!”

“Only the king knows anything about the relic….”

Again, the whipper struck Nicolas in the back.  Nicolas cringed, and began to whine.

“Incorrect.” Will responded, becoming more furious.  “Some Tulin nobles talked.  If they talked, then you must be hiding something.  Where is the relic?”

“I already told you!  Only the king knows where the relic is!”

Nicolas was struck again, and Will continued asking him questions.  They were more detailed, and were aimed at Nicolas’s ignorance of the relic.  Will even asked the same question repeatedly, hoping to get a response out of him. Following each answer, Nicolas was whipped once again.  Nicolas wanted this interrogation to end, as his back was extremely sore, and beginning to bleed in certain areas.  It was a horrible sight to behold, and the interrogation was beginning to be tiresome.

Finally, Will raised his fists in the air.  He raised his right hand and slapped Nicolas in the face.  “Don’t you Tulin peasants know anything?  Fine! Okay then!  What do you know about the king?”

“OW! I only know that he’s the ruler of Tulin!  I know nothing else!”

“So what you’re telling me is that you know nothing.”

“I am not telling you that.”

“What I mean is that you don’t know anything about the relic.”

“YEOOOOOOW!!! What else could I tell you?  I don’t seem to have the answers that you’re looking for!”

“In that case, we’ll just kill you.”

“Don’t do that!!”

“You’re useless and you know nothing!  Why would we keep you?”

“I’m a skilled swordsman.”

Will and the three soldiers exploded with laughter.  “Every Saris soldier is very proficient with a sword.  We have more than enough soldiers that are skilled with using a sword.”

Nicolas bluffed.  “I may have some information that is of use to you.”

“You already told me that you know nothing.  You’re lying!”

“I have some really valuable information!”  Nicolas pleaded.

Will shook his head and scowled.  “Forget it!  You’re useless!  Bill!”

Bill came running into the room.  “Is it time, Will?”

“Yes, it’s time.  Let’s kill him!  He doesn’t know anything.”

“Yeah! Let’s kill him, Will!”

Will and Bill raised their swords.

“Normally, we would use the guillotine….” Will grinned.  “But the guillotine is too far to take you.  The general wants it done quickly.  Say goodbye, dirty peasant!”

“DON’T KILL MEEEEEEE!!!!”  Nicolas screamed.

The two soldiers began stabbing Nicolas everywhere.  Blood gushed out everywhere, and a series of screams drowned the room.  Nicolas tried wiggling free, but was stopped immediately by Will, who squeezed the arm firmly with his other hand.

The stabbing continued.  “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!”

Blood began to trickle out of Nicolas.  They stabbed his temples, his chest, and his arms.  “STOP IIIIIIIIIT!!!!”

Will took his sword and thrust it into Nicolas’s chest.  Blood continued gushing out of the wound, forming a puddle on the ground.

Nicolas closed his eyes, gasping in tears.  If he was going to die, he didn’t want to see his mutilated body.  He didn’t want to remember how he died if he did reach the heavens.

Nicolas gasped again, and coughed up blood.  “STOP iiiiiiiiiiiit…..”  his voice faded.

And that was it.  Nicolas swooned forward, and hit the ground. All movement ceased in his body.  His eyes were open, with his mouth agape.

“Yeah, Will! I think he’s dead!”

“Think?  He is dead!”

“What should we do with his body?”

“Let’s throw it outside the castle.  We’ll take it to the bone yard later.  We have to report to the general!”

Will and Bill carried Nicolas’s body outside the castle and threw it on the ground.

______

©2011  K. L. Walker

The Master’s Chronicles: Chapter 2 – Suspicions (Part 1)

Nicolas opened his eyes.  He sat up and coughed.  A dim, flickering light filled the room.  It was cold and damp.  Where am I?

Nicolas tilted his face, his eyes darting everywhere.  Three of the four walls were solid rock.  The floor was solid rock, with a carved out hole in the corner for a bathroom.  There was no bed.  The fourth wall was lined with steel bars, with a keyhole in the center.

Nicolas shook his head and shivered.  He bent down and glanced at his undergarments.  So they captured me, and took all my clothes…He shook his head in disbelief.  Why did this happen?  What about leaving Tulin, like the Master said?

Staring up at the ceiling, Nicolas shook his fist.  “So much for your plan,” he said under his breath.  “How am I going to get out of here?”

_______________

          King Saris sat in the throne room of Saris Castle, drumming his fingers on the shoulder rests of his decorated throne.  “Where is General Tarmis?” he growled.

A Saris guard scrambled up the steps and approached the throne, beads of sweat dripping from his face.  “He’s on his way,” he choked.

The king grabbed his scepter and tapped it against the floor.  A bright flash began to form on the tip of the scepter, and grew brighter and brighter by the second.  He then lifted up the scepter and pointed it at the guard. “Tarmis has five more seconds to show up, or I’m killing you.”

“Gracious king, don’t kill me!”

“Five!”

“He’ll be here any second!”

“Four! Three!”

“No, don’t!!”

“Two!”

“TARMIS! SHOW UP!!!”

“One!!! Goodbye.”

King Saris waved the scepter, flinging the bright ball of energy directly at the guard.

“Noooo!!!”

General Tarmis burst into the room, and leapt forward, shoving the guard out of the way.  He held up his shield against the bright orb.  The shield absorbed all of the energy.  “Let’s not be wasteful, your majesty,” he said.  “You have already killed three this week.”

King Saris set down his scepter.  “Very well, guard.  You may live.”

The guard sighed with relief and grinned.  Cowering at the king, he fidgeted back, and then ran out of the throne room.

The king then waved his fist at the general.  “What took you so long?”

“So long? I got here as fast as I could, your majesty.”

The king scowled and swore.  “You’re usually a lot faster than this.  What held you up?”

“We have a new prisoner.”  The general answered.  “He’s a Tulinite kid that looked suspicious.”

King Saris pounded his fists on the armrests.  “Tarmis!”  he growled.  “I gave you direct orders to take no prisoners.  You were supposed to interrogate them, find out what you can about the Seed Relic, and then kill them.  That includes children too!”

General Tarmis jerked back, shaking his head.  “I didn’t apprehend the prisoner, your majesty.  A couple of my lower ranks did.”

“Find those soldiers and kill them.  They must both understand the price of not following my orders.”

General Tarmis began pacing towards the exit of the throne room.

King Saris held up his hand, motioning the general.  “Wait!  Let them interrogate and kill the prisoner first.  After they do that, kill them.”

The general briskly walked back to the center of the room, towards the throne. “Very well, your majesty.”

A gasp suddenly came out of nowhere.

The king’s eyes darted back and forth, trying to detect where the sound was coming from.  “What was that?”

“What was what?”  The general frowned.

“I thought I heard something.  It sounded like a gasp.”
“A gasp?”
“Oh, never mind.  Moving on, I would like to hear your report.  What did you find out about the Seed Relic?  Did you find it?”

“No we didn’t, your majesty.  But we do have a lead.  We searched all the houses of the Tulin peasants and none of them were of any help.  We then searched Tulin castle to find the king.  The king wasn’t anywhere to be found.  My guess is that he’s probably hiding somewhere in the Tulin continent.”

The king scowled.  “And the lead, Tarmis! The lead!”

The general grinned.  “I was just getting to that.  Since we couldn’t find anything, I gave my ranks orders to burn down Tulin.  Right after this, one of my ranks bursts into the castle.  It appeared that he got a couple of Tulin nobles to talk.”

“And?”

“And they both said that the relic was north.  One of them said it was far north.  I ordered a team of scouts to begin heading northward, towards the Tulin highlands.”

“Good.  But that’s only half of the relic.  The king still has the other half.”

“Don’t worry.  These scouts are experts.  They are all seasoned veterans in the Saris army and they should be able to find the king, no problem.”

The king grabbed his golden chalice, filled with purple passion wine, and sipped it. “How are things going on the secret project?”

The general held up his hand, motioning it in front of the king.  “The project is moving along just fine.  That is all that I can tell you.”

“Is that so?  I can’t wait until it’s done.”

“You will like it, your majesty.”

The king scratched his head.  “Where is my Tatiana?”

The general sat down his shield and shrugged.  “Princess Saris?  I haven’t seen her today.”

“Get someone to find her.  I would like to have a nice conversation with her – father to daughter.  Oh, and you are dismissed, Tarmis.”

“Thank you, your majesty.  I’ll get someone to find her right away.”

A sneeze suddenly came out of nowhere, stopping General Tarmis in mid-step.

“ACHOO!”

King Saris sat down his chalice on a small table near his throne.  “Wait! I heard that sneeze.  Now don’t tell me you didn’t hear it!”

The general nodded in agreement.  “I heard that sneeze too!  It was kind of high-pitched, and sounded like it came from nearby me.”  The general darted around, searching all over the vicinity of where he was standing.  He looked behind a nearby statue.  “Well, what have we here?  It’s the princess!”

King Saris pounded his fists on the armrests in a fit of rage..  “TATIANA!  How dare you listen in on a private conversation!”

The princess shuddered and her face reddened.  “S-s-s-sorry dad….”

“Oh, you will be sorry, my dear.  You do understand the crime for listening in on private matters….”

“Y-yes dad….”

“Tarmis, throw her in the dungeon.  She will be executed tomorrow at sundown.”

The princess shook her head, her face filling up with tears.  “No!”

With that, the general grabbed the princess.  She then kicked the general, making him lose his grip.  The princess immediately ran out of the room, with the general in close pursuit.

“Tomorrow at sundown, Tatiana!”  The king barked from the throne.  “Better say your goodbyes, my dear….”

The cries and screams became louder and began to flood the hallways of Saris Castle.

______

©2011  K. L. Walker

The Master’s Chronicles: Chapter 1 – Tulin (Part 4)

Nicolas sat down and took it all in.  The field within the valley was covered in grass that went as far out as Nicolas could see.  In the grass were swarms of wild flowers of various colors and kinds.

“Where does this valley end?” Nicolas pondered.

Suddenly, a swarm of flying creatures approached Nicolas.  Eight of these creatures surrounded him.  They were green and repulsive; all scaly and slimy.  Venom dripped from their fangs and the creatures sharply hissed.  Their wings rapidly vibrated, all of them prepared to strike.  They looked like fierce lizards with the wings of insects, and were slightly taller than Nicolas.

“Flizards!” Nicolas shouted.  “It’s time for me to practice!”

Nicolas tumbled backward and reached for his sword.  He hoisted it from his scabbard with both hands and began his assault on the flizards.  He brandished his sword and lunged at the beasts.  He sliced one in half and beheaded another.

Six flizards remained.  All of them in sync, they surrounded Nicolas and dove at him.  They bared their fangs and hissed loudly.

“I’ve had enough of this!” Nicolas shouted.

Nicolas flailed backward and grasped his sword with both hands.  He raised his sword and spun, swinging the sword in a circle.

Around and around.  Another flizard was minced in half.  Around and around.  Two more flizard heads hit the ground.

Three flizards were left.  These ones were defeated quickly. The first one was beheaded.  The second was pieced in the heart.  The last one was crushed into the ground.

Nicolas pushed the impaled flizard off his sword.  He sat down to catch his breath.  When he recovered, he stood up.

“That’s enough training for today,” Nicolas yawned.

As he began to leave Tulin Valley, a pack of tiny dog-like creatures ran toward Nicolas.  They each had three menacing heads and glowing eyes. Their bodies were black and lined with scales.  All the heads growled and barked ferociously.

“I guess I spoke too soon….” Nicolas sighed.  “Die, cerberans!”

The pack of cerberans charged at him, and sprinted toward his face.  He swiftly swung his sword, knocking them all back.  Two of them were tossed to the ground, while the rest got to their feet.  The two that remained on the ground howled as they bled on the ground.  Because cerberans have such tough scales, they are harder to mince or decapitate.  Instead of breaking, their scales just crack.

The four remaining cerberans circled around Nicolas.  After they circled him a few times, they surrounded him and attacked.

Nicolas swung his sword hard.  The blow knocked three of the cerberans to the ground, cracking their scales.  He spun around and thrust his sword downward into the cerberan’s back with all his might.  The last one fell to the ground with a howl.

Nicolas gasped for air, and sat down.  After catching his breath, he lifted his sword and fumbled it back into its scabbard.

“Time to head back,” Nicolas decided.

Nicolas stood up and wearily began walking back.  He briefly stopped and looked up at the sky.  The sun was now beginning to set over the valley.  What he saw was an orange sky, with a few small traces of clouds.

“That was some good training,” Nicolas told himself.  “I can’t wait to tell my mother about this.”

Nicolas already knew what he wanted to tell her.  He slaughtered a swarm of flizards and put a pack of cerberans to rest.  His mother always loved to hear these kinds of stories.

His mother also loved seeing him come back from a good day of training.  She loved everything about it.  She loved the smile on his face, the blood on the sword, and the beads of sweat dripping off his face.  She loved hearing about his achievements, his struggles, his wounds, and his training goals. She liked seeing his smile because she says it really adds to the story and his bloody sword completes it.

“My mother told me that I will eventually be able to join Diamondheart someday at the rate that I am going,” Nicolas thought.

Nicolas kept walking, watching the sun set to the west.

Suddenly, Nicolas heard some footsteps, and some voices.  There were an arranged group of silhouettes further north down the valley.  He stared carefully at the silhouettes and he made out the shape of wings.  A whinny echoed in the distance.  He then heard what sounded like a series of wings beating the wind.  “Pegasuses,” he whispered.  “And a whole battalion….”

Each winged pegasus had a soldier riding it.  They all traveled single file, with their hands held firmly on the reins.  Who were these riders and what are they doing here in Tulin?  Nicolas figured that it was either a scouting team or a battalion of Tulin’s elite mercenaries.  Maybe they have come to bring news of a new discovery. Or maybe they are going to warn the town of another war with Saris.  Whatever it was, it had to be something important.

But there was something weird about this battalion.  They don’t usually travel at night.  If any group would travel at all at this hour, it would be a lot smaller and they wouldn’t use as many pegasuses.  Nicolas shook his head and had a sinking feeling.  Something just didn’t feel right.

Nicolas squinted at the silhouettes and hoped for them to change direction.  These might be new soldiers in training, and they are learning the lay of the land.  But at night?  The mounted soldiers, still single file, moved north, towards Tulin, which lay at the end of the valley.

Nicolas inched forward, feeling the sudden chill of the cool air.  He needed a closer look.  With a group of soldiers that large, it can’t be a scouting team.  He crept up closer, trying to make as little sound as possible.

Closer and closer still, Nicolas crept until he was a short distance away from them.  The grass was deep here, so he ducked down, out of their sight.  The sound of flapping wings could be heard in the distance.  Nicolas stared up from the grass and saw sheaths, each with a sword, on the belt of every soldier that flew by.  The armor was arranged in a pattern that was totally unlike Tulin.  He then saw the coat of arms.  This did not look like Tulin at all.

Nicolas shook his head.  Saris…This can’t be happening!  Not now.  Why now?  He looked at whole battalion and began to count it.  There were at least thirty soldiers with one general leading them.  With this many soldiers, Nicolas figured, they were planning a raid.

All of the pegasuses touched down and galloped into Tulin.  Nicolas followed close by, past the south gate.  A series of screams were heard in the distance.  The Tulinites that saw the invading soldiers ran out of their houses with their children.

The grass became the stone road again as Nicolas entered the town.  He kept moving forward until he was stopped by a loud shout.  It sounded like someone in pain, crying for help.  “Help me!”  the voice cried.

Nicolas turned to see a Tulin soldier lying on the ground in a puddle of blood.  He moved his body in a labored motion, trying to stand up.

“Help me….” he choked.

Nicolas sighed as began to lose it.  Tears began to drip from his eyes.  “I’m sorry.  I can’t help you.”

“Then tell them….” The soldier choked.  “Tell them that….that Saris is invading….Tell them for me….please….”

“I will.  I’ll do what I can.”

With that, the soldier then coughed up blood and died.

Nicolas wiped the tears off his eyes and looked back at the soldier.  “I’ll tell them!” he sniffed.

Nicolas then ran north, to Tulin Square.  On his way to the square, he heard screaming, crying, and people crying for help.  Numerous citizens ran in panic, warning everyone in Tulin that Saris was invading, and to get out as quickly as possible.  He couldn’t bear to see the sight.  He saw the bloody corpses of numerous Tulinites, and a few being tortured by Saris soldiers.  The rest of them escaped the square as fast as they could.

Nicolas gasped in horror as he saw one of the Tulinites being tortured.  It was a young man, who looked a little older than him.

The Saris Soldier held a sword near his face.  “Where is the Seed Relic?!”

“Seed Relic?” he cried.  “I already told you! I’ve never heard of such a thing! Just leave me alone!”

The Saris Soldier lowered his sword and struck the young man in the chest.  He then held the sword near the young man’s throat.  “Okay.  I’ll ask again.  WHERE IS the Seed Relic?!!”

“I’m telling you!  I don’t know!”

“Not going to talk? Die then!”

The Saris Soldier slit the young man’s throat, and he fell to the ground.

Nicolas shook his head.  What was this Seed Relic they were looking for?  What were they going to do if they found it?  Nicolas never heard of the Seed Relic before.  Whatever it was, it must be important.

He turned to the center of Tulin Square to see the statue of King Tulin VIII.  The base was a pile of rubble and the body was cracked.  The head lied just to the left of the rubble.  Tulin’s famous landmark is now gone.

Nicolas headed eastward and heard more crying and screaming.  More people crying for help.  More warnings and people running in panic.

Nicolas then saw a terrible sight that made him cry again.  A Saris Soldier was torturing a little girl in the distance.  Tears filled his eyes.  “Poor girl,” he quietly wept.

The Saris Soldier loomed over the child, pointing a sword at her.  The girl, now crying, sat down and quivered in fear.  “Where is the Seed Relic?”

The girl shook, and began to wet herself.  “I don’t…know, big…scary…man…” she wailed.

The Saris Soldier held the sword up to her face.  “I’ll ask again, you little brat!  Where is THE SEED RELIC?!!!”

The girl’s eyes filled with tears.  “I want my mommy!!!”

A sudden rush of anger filled Nicolas.  He almost shouted “Leave her alone!” but remained quiet instead.  He sat down and closed his eyes.  He didn’t want to see this.  Not a poor innocent child…

The Saris Soldier stabbed his sword through her little chest.  The girl screamed, and then fell over on the cold, bloody ground.

Nicolas waited for the Saris Soldier to leave before he made his move.  When he left, he continued eastward, toward his house.  More weeping.  More screaming.  Just two more blocks…

Nicolas finally reached his house.  From the inside, he heard an ear-piercing scream.

“NICOLAS!!!!”

Nicolas barged though the door and entered the house.  Nicolas’s mother was not there.  He heard another scream, which sounded like it came from his mother’s room.  He ran in the closet and hid.

“So, you’re telling me that you don’t know where the Seed Relic is!?”  The Saris soldier shouted.

“unnhnn….” Nicolas’s mother shuddered.

“What was that?!”

“Yes!” Nicolas’s mother gasped.

“Then you can die!”

Nicolas heard the sound coming from the Saris soldier’s sword.  It sounded like he was stabbing her in the heart.

“Ahhnnnnnnnnnn….” Nicolas’s mother groaned.

Nicolas heard the sound of grunting from the Saris soldier.  He then heard the cling of a sword.  Next, a plop on the ground.

“There.” The soldier said.  “Didn’t know anything.”

Nicolas heard the soldier’s footsteps, the flinging open of a door, and the whinny of a pegasus.  When he was sure that the soldier was gone, he ran out of the closet and into his mother’s bedroom.

His mother lied there motionless in a puddle of blood.  He undid his shoulder belt and set the sword on the floor.

Nicolas lost it.  “MOTHER!!!” he sobbed.  “Why did they have to do this to you?!!

Nicolas glanced at the table in her room and noticed the Copian scriptures lying there.  This was the very book she wanted him to read.  Nicolas felt stupid now, and regret began to flood him.  Why didn’t I just do what I was told?

“Mother….” he wept.  “I’m….I’m sorry for my behavior towards you.”

Nicolas then looked at his mother again.  Why did she have to go?  He sat there, bawling and covered his face with his hands.  Streams of tears ran down his face.

A light suddenly appeared in the room and shined on Nicolas.  The light was mysterious, and was brighter than any light Nicolas has ever seen.

“Why are you crying?” A voice boomed from the light.  “Your mother is not dead.”

“She most certainly is!” Nicolas sniffed.  “She is lying there motionless, without life.”

“That is true, but she isn’t truly dead.” The voice told him.  “She is in a much better place now.  She is up here, with me.”

Nicolas shuddered.  The light, as bright as it was, did not blind him.  A gale filled the room as the voice boomed from the light.  Could it be? “Are you….the Master?” he shivered.

“Yes I am.” The Master affirmed.  “I have some very important work for you to do for me.”

“Work?” Nicolas gasped.  “What can I do?  I don’t really know the Copian scriptures very well.”

“I absolutely know that you don’t know the Copian scriptures very well.” The Master replied.  “If you read those annals of Copian history and studied well, you would know more about me and you would have also known that your mother is here with me.  You will be of great use to me.”

“Me, useful?” Nicolas pondered.  “I’m not that good of a soldier yet….”

“Who is responsible for your creation?” The Master boomed.  “I have chosen you for my plan and that choice has been made before you were even born!

          “Since you are a chosen one, you will have no need to worry about your skills and abilities as a soldier.  I have endowed you and all the others that I have chosen with my spirit.  With me in you, you have been given some unique gifts.  These gifts come in many forms and I have given different ones to the different people that I have chosen.

          “Now, I want you to take the Copian scriptures with you and leave the town.”

“You want me to leave?”  Nicolas gasped.  “Where will I go from here?”

“You will find the other ones that I have chosen.” The Master ordered.  “Now leave.”

The light from the sky disappeared and the gale was gone.

Nicolas picked up his shoulder belt and put it back on, sword in tow.  He ran in his room and grabbed a satchel.  He hung the satchel over his shoulders and placed the Copian scriptures in it.

Before Nicolas left the house, he saw another battalion of soldiers running into the town from the window.  These soldiers filled the streets, each one carrying a torch.

A mounted Saris soldier leaped off his pegasus and ran up to a soldier that was yielding a torch.

“Burn it!” The soldier told him.  “If the king won’t tell where the relic is, we’ll burn down his town!”

Nicolas ran out the house and started to head west.  Before he could go any further, a hand firmly gripped his arm, and began squeezing it.  “Where do you think you’re going?”

Nicolas jerked and wiggled, kicking at the soldier’s chain mail.  With his other hand, he whipped out his sword and stabbed the soldier in the arm.

The soldier flinched in pain, and let go of Nicolas.  Nicolas then ran away as fast as he could.

“Yeow!” The soldier cried.  “Come back here, you stupid kid!”

The town started to blaze up in flames.  Nicolas ran west, to Tulin Square, and then south.  He stayed southward, heading toward the outside of the town.  He saw Tulin Valley in the distance, but he couldn’t get that far in time.  As he jogged, the smoke got heavier.

Nicolas started to gasp for air.  He coughed and got down on his knees.

With all his might, Nicolas stood up and tried running out of the town, but the only thing he could do was walk.

His walking changed to crawling.  His crawling changed to twitching.  Finally, Nicolas gave his last breath, and passed out on the ground.

______

©2011  K. L. Walker

The Master’s Chronicles: Chapter 1 – Tulin (Part 3)

As Nicolas left the center of Tulin Square, he noticed a group of delivery wagons headed north, toward the castle.  From the wagons came the pleasant odor of spices, wines, cheeses, and expensive meat.  It must be the king’s latest shipment of food.

Another group of wagons followed the ones carrying the food.  These wagons were enclosed, and each had a couple of heavily armored soldiers riding beside them on both sides.  “Another shipment of gold for the royal treasury.” Nicolas quietly sighed.

Nicolas followed the delivery wagons, but headed west at the next intersection.  Down this road, he saw rows of three story houses.  These houses were larger than the standard houses.  This, Nicolas knew, were the trade houses.

The trade houses sat in what is known in Tulin as the trade district.  Some call this set of buildings “The training center of Tulin”.  A variety of trades are learned here, shaping a large portion of Tulin’s commerce.  The age of admission to a trade in Tulin was ten years of age, marking the end of childhood.

The tradespeople were in a hierarchy of their own of sorts.  The tradespeople, too, were considered peasants, but one notch above the peasants.  They were still, however, one notch below the nobles.

Nicolas continued walking down the road, passing boys and tradesmen.  He heard numerous voices, tinks, and clanks coming from the trade houses.  The noisiest of the sounds came from the blacksmith trade house.  Hammers clanged every second, along with the noisy chatter of the blacksmiths.  Still holding the notice, Nicolas covered his ears and scuttled, weaving through the throng of tradespeople.  As he approached the end of the road, the tradespeople became crowds of girls and tradeswomen, many of which were seamstresses.

Nicolas uncovered his ears and walked to the end of the road.  From there, the road went north and south along the inner gate that surrounded Tulin.  He turned and headed north, to a four story building that sat in a small field just south of the castle gates.

Nicolas headed east into the field, and then north toward the building.

The building was well adorned, with two marble statues standing on either side of the entrance.  The building consisted of white bricks and the windowpanes displayed a stained glass motif of a merchant wheeling a cart.  The furthest one down displayed a merchant in fine clothes, standing behind a large building.  This was the Merchant’s Guild.

Nicolas entered the guild and walked through the opulently decorated lobby to the front desk. An older burly man sat there, holding a feathered pen.  He was dressed in fine clothes and his girth was enormous. He dipped the pen in ink and wrote something on the parchment.

Nicolas slapped the job posting on the front desk.  “I came here for the merchant’s apprentice job.”

The man sat his pen in the jar of ink and looked up at Nicolas.  “So you did, eh?  What’s your name, boy?”

“Nicolas Gillings, sir.”  Nicolas politely addressed.

“How old are you?”

“I’m fifteen years and 8 months of age.  Almost sixteen…sir.”

“What brought you here to learn this trade?”

“I’m trying to find what I like to do, sir.”

“What do you want to get out of this trade?”

“I want to learn as much as I can from this trade, sir.”

“What trade are you coming from?”

“No trade, sir.  This is my first trade.”

The burly man scratched his thin flaky hair and looked at Nicolas sternly.  “You don’t need to call me sir.  I’m not the king of Tulin.  Call me by my name.”

Nicolas gulped.  “What…What is your name?”

The burly man stared at him closely.  “Call me Wes.”

“Wesley?”

“No! Wes!”

“O-okay. Wes it is.”

“What are you afraid of, son? We’re just having a little interview.  Make yourself at home here.  There’s nothing to be nervous about.”

“Okay, Wes.”

Wes scratched his clump of balding hair. “Almost sixteen years old, eh?  And you never worked in a trade before? You’re a little late, son.  Why didn’t you come six years ago?”

Nicolas shook his head and balled one of his hands into a fist.  “I was going to join some guild when I was twelve,” Nicolas sighed.

Nicolas shook his fist and stomped the floor.  “But then the stupid war happened!” he shouted.  “Those stupid soldiers from Saris killed my father!  What difference does it make to earn a living?  I want to kill those stupid maggots and avenge my father’s death!”

The burly man patted Nicolas on the back a few times.  “Take it easy, son…” he said.

Nicolas stomped the floor again and swore.  “Don’t touch me! No amount of consoling is going to bring my father back.  So stop trying to make me feel better!”

“Hey son!”

“And I’m not your son! Stop calling me son!”

Wes stood up. “Boy then!  Sorry about that.  It’s just the way I talk. Now boy, do you think you’re the only one who’s lost something?  Tell me, do ya?”

Nicolas swung his fist to his side.  “No Wes, no.”

Wes pointed his finger firmly at Nicolas.  “Well let me tell you boy, I lost someone very close and dear to me.  Her name was Cecilia, and she was the catch of the sea!

“I saw it all, boy.  When those Saris soldiers came bursting in, I looked for the closest place I could hide.  There was an empty delivery wagon so I went in there and hid.  Cecilia was in the other room sleeping so I couldn’t warn her or I’d give myself away.”

Nicolas shook his head.  “But Saris never invaded Tulin in the war…”

Wes gestured his hand toward Nicolas.  “Lies.  Didn’t anybody tell you?  Saris was going to invade Tulin and they started by invading from the west.  They hit all the merchant shops first.  Now let me continue with my story.  One of the Saris soldiers came into the room where I was.  They then barged into the room Cecilia was in.  The pleading and the crying was all that I could bear.

“I then hear another soldier enter the room.  He alerted the other one and gave him some news.  It was an order from their general to withdraw.  They both left the room and I emerged from my hiding place.  I ran into the other room to find my dear Cecilia naked, all covered in blood on the bed. It was just as I feared.  They raped her and they killed her.  That filthy cur!”           Nicolas was blown away.  His balled fist was now opened up and all he could do was gasp. “I’m very sorry to hear that, Wes.  If you knew of the invasion, why didn’t you escape with Cecilia?”

Wes sat back down and scratched his hair clump.  “I didn’t know.  I found out about it after it happened.  My other friends told me everything. They said that the invasion was stopped before they reached Tulin Square or the castle.  Half of Tulin was affected.  You were lucky.”

“I live east of the square.”

“Then you weren’t affected.  Now listen, son….”

“Stop calling me that.”

“I can call you son if I want!  Now son, I know that you lost your father.  Anger and revenge isn’t going to solve anything.  I lost Cecilia.  We both lost something.  The only thing you can do is move on.  Be strong for him.  He’s a part of you and he’ll always be there.  I’m strong for my Cecilia.  You be strong for your father, you hear?”

“I’ll be strong, sir.”

Wes cracked a smile.  “Now let me finish.  You may be a little late…but you’re never too late to learn a trade.  Welcome aboard, son.”

Nicolas shook his head in disbelief.  “Just like that?”

Wes nodded.  “Just like that.  Give me a firm one!”

Wes held out his hand and Nicolas firmly shook it.  He then got out a new piece of parchment.  It had some writing on it and looked like some form of contract.  “You’re going to be learning from Stephen Penzington: the master merchant of this guild.  All I need you to do is sign your name here.”

“What am I signing?”

“Just some legal stuff.  You’re basically agreeing that our guild will not be liable for any accident leading to injury or death.  You’re also agreeing to serve a full term of apprenticeship with us and all other terms outlined in the contract.”

“Other terms?”

“Don’t worry about it, son.  This isn’t a deal with the devil. You have my word.”

“Okay.  I’ll sign.”

Nicolas took the pen, dunked it in the ink jar, and signed his name.

Wes took the pen back and sat it in the ink jar.  “You will be staying in Master Penzington’s master suite on the top floor.  Oh, and one other thing.”

“What is it, sir?”  Nicolas asked.

“Do you know how to drive a delivery wagon?”

“I’ve done it a couple of times a few years ago.  My uncle was a merchant and he let me steer the wagon.  Other than that, I’ve had no real experience.”

“Don’t worry about it, son.  We have a journeyman for you that’s very skilled at driving a delivery wagon.  He’ll guide you and will be supervising you tomorrow.  You’re going to be delivering fresh produce from the farms we’re buying from in the farming district.  You’ll be delivering that fresh produce to our vendor in Tulin Square.  Am I clear, son?”

“Crystal, sir.”

“Penzington does this with all the ones starting fresh.  You’ll be starting tomorrow.  Get some good rest, son.  You’re gonna need it.”

“I will.”

Nicolas said good-bye to Wes and left the Merchant’s Guild.  It was time to go home.  He took the east road through the trade district and remained eastward until he passed the king’s road, the one that went north to the castle and to the far south out of Tulin.  He proceeded eastward until the road ended.  From there, the road went north and south.  To the north, the road bordered the farm district.  To the south, the road went through a dense neighborhood of houses and ran through more farms further south.

Nicolas headed south on this road, toward his house.  He kept heading southward until he reached the northeastern edge of Tulin Square.

When Nicolas reached Tulin Square, he had to stop walking because his feet were getting sore.  With that, he sat down and took a short break from walking.  Nearby, he saw a couple of young girls sitting outside the house. They were wearing nice dresses with bonnets over their heads.  The girls just sat there, clapping their hands back and forth.  While they played their game, they said their chant:

Pat one, pat two,

Now I pat one back to you!

Pat three, pat four,

Now I pat you even more!

Pat five, pat six,

Now I pat you with some tricks!

Pat seven, pat eight,

Now your patting’s getting great!

Pat nine, pat ten,

Now we pat and start again!

As the girls clapped away, Nicolas smiled and then sighed.  Nicolas never played that game as a kid, as that game was only played by little girls. The boys always played the rougher games.  With childhood being a distant memory, he knew of the far more important things in life.  There were chores to be done and a job to find.  The Copian scriptures had to be read.  In the distant future, he would need to court with a Copian woman, buy a house, and start a family.

The girls, on the other hand, were deep in their childhood.  Totally carefree and blissfully unaware of the world.  The only thing they worried about was nap time and playtime.  They would play their games all day without having to worry about adulthood.  It would be a few more years before they enter the adult world.

With his feet feeling better, Nicolas stood up and continued his way home. He continued south and passed through two intersections.  At the next intersection, he turned east and walked past two more intersections.

His house was right ahead.  Nicolas approached the door and knocked.  No answer.  Nicolas shrugged and entered.

Nicolas walked through all the rooms of the house.  His mother wasn’t there.  She must be shopping in Tulin Square or something…

Nicolas entered his room and his face lit up.  The sheathed sword lay on the table, waiting for him.  He grabbed it.  I’m sure she won’t mind me training when she knows I found a job.

Time to train.  Nicolas put on his shoulder belt and fed the loop from the scabbard around the belt so it hung down his back.

Nicolas left his house and headed westward, all the way to Tulin Square.  He then went south, down the king’s road.  After a while, the stone road became a grassy field.  He looked back and saw a castle in the far distance, surrounded by a gate.  He looked up at the sky.  The sun was past its zenith, but the sky was still bright.

Nicolas looked back at the castle gate.  That walled area is what separates me from the rich, he thought.  King Tulin gets to have it all.  So do the nobles…

Nicolas didn’t let that bother him all that much.  At least he could read and write.  Most Tulinites aren’t fortunate enough to have this privilege.  Of course Tulinites could farm well.  But their low-income status makes it difficult to buy the books the nobles read.  Most of these books would cost them a year’s wages.  With that, Nicolas considered himself lucky to be able to even read at all.

Nicolas finally stopped walking to find himself surrounded by a vast valley.  Facing south, the valley seemed to go on forever.

“Finally here…” Nicolas pleasantly sighed.  “Tulin valley.”

______

©2011  K. L. Walker

The Master’s Chronicles: Chapter 1 – Tulin (Part 2)

Nicolas left the house and walked down the stone road.The road was lined with rows of houses on either side.Each house had a large garden, as this was not uncommon to this class in Tulin.

Nicolas kept walking down the road.In the distance, he saw some children playing tag.The young boy with ruffled hazelnut hair and a round cap ran after the young girl, who had her gold locks tied in a flowery wreath.The young girl’s bonnet wafted in the breeze, as she kept her distance from the young boy.

“You can’t catch me!” the girl tattled.

The girl ran past Nicolas, with the boy in close pursuit.

“Yes I can…” the boy huffed.

Nicolas kept walking, and suddenly noticed a mounted soldier that about to hit him.

The Tulin soldier grabbed the reins and abruptly changed the direction of his horse, missing Nicolas by just inches.“Out of my way, peasant!” the soldier shouted.

Nicolas kept walking.He began to smell fresh bread, spices, and several cooked dishes.He saw the sign prominently displayed in the center: Tulin Square.

Tulin Square was a bustling marketplace.Residents from all over the town sold the fruits of their labor.Many Tulinites saw this place as a land of opportunity.“It’s the only way to prosper”, some say.

Nicolas understood the hierarchy in Tulin Square.In Tulin, you’re either a noble, a merchant, or a peasant.In regarding the hierarchy, each Tulinite kept their distance, and didn’t associate with the other hierarchy.Merchants were the exception to the rule and associated with both nobles and peasants together.They benefited from both hierarchies so it didn’t matter to them.

Nicolas walked toward the center of Tulin Square, which displayed various bulletin boards for the Tulinites to view.There were bulletin boards that displayed announcements, bounties, job offerings, and listed miscellaneous items for sale.The common Tulin peasant shrugs when they pass the bulletins.It doesn’t make much sense to them. When they see the bulletins, they often look away to avoid ridicule from the Tulin nobles.

As Nicolas approached the bulletin boards, he heard a shout.It came from a nearby bread vendor.

“Stop, thief!” The vendor shouted.

A fairly tall boy ran, holding a couple loaves of bread.

“Stop that thief!” The vendor shouted.

A nearby fruit vendor saw the boy and tripped him, sending him and the two loaves to the ground.The fruit vendor grabbed the boy by the wrist.The boy kicked and shook his wrists but was unable to get free.He almost shook free from the vendor when a vegetable vendor grabbed his other wrist.

“We got him,” the vegetable vendor said.

The bread vendor walked right up to the boy and stood over him.“That will be two gold coins,” he demanded.

The boy shook his head and trembled. “I don’t have two gold coins…”

“You don’t, huh?I oughta fetch the Tulin cavalry on you.Soldier!”

A nearby mounted soldier came over to the vendor.“What seems to be the problem?”

“This peasant stole two loaves of bread and he will not pay for them!”

The soldier shook his head and sighed.He reached in his pouch and flung two gold coins at the merchant.“Let that peasant go.I have much more important matters to deal with.”

The vendor gathered his coins and stared at the boy.“Lucky you,” he scowled, releasing his grip.“You got off lucky this time.Don’t steal from my stand again!”

“I-I won’t…” he gasped.

The boy grabbed the two loaves and ran out of the town square.

Nicolas shook his head and turned to the bulletin board.There were scads of jobs listed.He glanced though the listings…

Tulin Square Job Listings

Blacksmith apprentice wanted!

Learn the trade of a blacksmith!

Assist him in forging metal to

create a vast array of swords,

armor and other objects! No

experience is required. Pay is

10 gold coins a day. Take this

listing to the Blacksmith’s

Guild if you’re interested.

Innkeeper apprentice wanted!

Are you a hospitable person?

Then learn the trade of an

Innkeeper! Treat and pamper

wearied guests at Tulin Inn and

learn a valuable and rewarding

trade. No experience is required.

Pay is 15 gold coins a day. Take

this listing to the Innkeeper’s

Guild if this trade is for you.

Barkeep apprentice wanted!

Tulin Tavern is looking for

fun and outgoing individuals

for this trade. Blend different

drinks and learn to make the

finest wines in Tulin! Mix

beers and spirits and work

in a lively atmosphere. The

applicant must be 18 years of

age or older. No experience

is required. Pay is 5 gold

coins a day plus tips. Take

this listing to the Tulin

Tavern if you want to make

fine drinks for the bar patrons.

Merchant apprentice wanted!

Interested in setting up your

own shop? Do you want to be

a vendor of goods? Learn the

trade of a lifetime! Become a

merchant’s apprentice! Learn

all the skills of establishing

and managing a shop to

become a successful merchant!

Experience is not required. Pay

is 10 gold coins a day.Take this

listing to the Merchant’s Guild if

you want this exciting trade.

Seamstress apprentice wanted!

Calling all fair maidens! Learn

a valuable trade and make clothing

for the fine people of Tulin! Make

clothing, trimming, and linens!

This trade is high in demand and

all maidens are eligible. Experience

is not required. Pay is 1 gold coin a

day. Take this listing to the

Seamstress’s Guild if you want a

valuable trade.

Nicolas skipped the last job and carefully glanced at the rest of the bulletin board.A voice made him look up from the bulletin board.

“Hey you!”The voice shouted.“D’ ya think ya kin tell me wot th’ sign says?I con’ read th’ sign an’ ya look like th’ kind o’ person h’knows how t’ read.Can ya please read th’ sign fer me?”

Nicolas looked up at the vulgar and sighed. “I’m sorry. I can’t help you.”

Nicolas then ignored the vulgar and went back to the bulletin board. The vulgar kept carrying on, first pleading Nicolas to read the “sign” to him. He then complained about not having any place to work and not being able to read.Still ignoring him, Nicolas noticed several listings for seamstress apprentice and just a few more for blacksmith’s apprentice.There were several more listings for other jobs, but they didn’t interest Nicolas that much.

A finely dressed nobleman passed Nicolas to look at the announcements.“Oh.A peasant that can read?That is priceless!”

He then turned to the vulgar. “Ah.The typical Tulin vulgar! Of course you cannot read!You are not supposed to!”

The vulgar just smiled and looked at the noble.“Yer dressed up all nicely. Ya surlay look like th’ kind o’ person that can read th’ sign t’ me.Can ya d’ that fer me?”

Nicolas looked up at the vulgar and sighed. “I’m sorry. I can’t help you.”

Nicolas then ignored the vulgar and went back to the bulletin board. The vulgar kept carrying on, first pleading Nicolas to read the “sign” to him. He then complained about not having any place to work and not being able to read.  Still ignoring him, Nicolas noticed several listings for seamstress apprentice and just a few more for blacksmith’s apprentice.  There were several more listings for other jobs, but they didn’t interest Nicolas that much.

A finely dressed nobleman passed Nicolas to look at the announcements.  “Oh.  A peasant that can read?  That is priceless!”

He then turned to the vulgar. “Ah.  The typical Tulin vulgar! Of course you cannot read!  You are not supposed to!”

The vulgar just smiled and looked at the noble.  “Yer dressed up all nicely. Ya surlay look like th’ kind o’ person that can read th’ sign t’ me.  Can ya d’ that fer me?”

The nobleman arrogantly grinned.  “Sure.  I can tell you what that sign says.  It says that you are an incompetent ignoramus and that you will never amount to anything!”

“Incomp’tant? Iggerrainis?  Y’know big words. Wot d’ they mean?”

“It means you are an complete idiot and you will never amount to anything!”

“It does?  That’s t’ bad.  My mama always tode me that I wood amount t’ someting someday.”

Nicolas shook his head and sighed.  He couldn’t help but feel sorry for the vulgar.  The poor vulgars always get ridiculed like that.  He ignored the nobleman and continued glancing at the bulletin board.  He finally tore off the listing for merchant’s apprentice.  It was the only remaining listing for that job, as other jobs had at least a couple of listings or more.

He glanced at the posting that he tore off, when he noticed a tap on his back.

“Nicolas!”

He turned to notice a girl a little younger than he was.  The girl’s flowing chestnut hair was adorned with wreath of primroses.  She was dressed in a white robe, with the end folding up over her hair.  This clothing was fairly common for seamstresses.

Standing next to the girl was a boy who looked about her age.  The boy’s chestnut hair was moist with sweat. His white shirt was faded and his brown coat was blackened.

Nicolas leaped back in surprise. “Ruth!  You kind of surprised me there.”

Ruth covered her mouth as she giggled. “I didn’t mean to, Nicolas!  We just wanted to see what you were up to.  What brings you to Tulin Square?”

Nicolas looked at Bradley and Ruth.  “What else? I’m just out looking for a job.  I know that I need to find one.  My mother kind of forced me to go out and look.”

Bradley shook his head.  “Forced you?  Don’t you want to work?  I hate to tell you this.  Working is not an option.  It’s an obligation that we all must fulfill.  Why haven’t you started already like you promised?  We’re both younger than you and we have already put in three years!”

Nicolas let out a sigh.  “You don’t need to rub it in.  I just haven’t really found a job that I would enjoy doing yet.”

“Enjoy…” Bradley grinned.  “You’re not really supposed enjoy work. You just pick a pick a job and go with it.  After a while, it kind of grows on you and you begin to accept it.  I guess what I do is kind of fun.”

“Working all day as a junior blacksmith, tempering and forging weapons with a hammer and anvil? How can that be fun?”

“Well, I don’t really do that exactly yet.  I just assist the blacksmith, put the steel into the fire, and take it out.  What do you call fun?”

“Training and fighting beasts.  I would love to fight in Tulin’s army but I am too young to enlist.  I’m stuck in this square, holding a listing to a job that I’m not that interested in.”

Ruth shot a double take.  “Not interested?  What listing did you get?”

Nicolas firmed his grip on the notice and brought it toward his chest.  “Why do you need to see it?  It’s really none of your business.”

Ruth’s eyes flared.  “None of my business, huh?  Give me that notice!”

Ruth lunged at Nicolas when the vulgar approached them.

“E’scuse me!” The vulgar shouted.  “Y’ three look like th’ type o’ people who cud read th’ sign t’ me.”

Bradley sighed and shook his head.  “Ignore him.  He’s a vulgar.”

Ruth turned away from Nicolas and faced Bradley.  “Bradley! You’re mean!”

With that, Ruth ran up to Bradley and gave him a shove.  It knocked Bradley backward, but Bradley regained his footing.  Bradley blocked all of Ruth’s strikes.  Ruth then quickly yanked Bradley’s right foot back, causing him to fall flat on the ground.

“That’s what you get for teasing that vulgar!” Ruth shouted.

Ruth then turned to the vulgar.  “What sign do you need help reading, kind fellow?”

The vulgar scratched his head and thought for a moment.  Finally, he said “Th’ sign that I want t’ read is th’ kind o’ sign that th’ otha person is hoding.  Y’ know, th’ sign that y’ tried t’ take from him?”

“You mean those job listings on the bulletin board?”

“Uh huh.”

“I’ll read this one for you.  It is for a priest aide at the Tulin Chapel.  I strongly recommend this job since it will help you learn to read.  It says, ‘Are you lost?  Do you need help finding way through life? Serve as a priest aide.  Assist the priest in his duties and learn the Copian Scriptures.  If you can’t read this, get someone to help you.  Then take this notice to the Tulin Chapel and experience a new life today!’  Here is the notice.  You know where the chapel is, right?”

“Uh huh.  It’s th’ big bilding wit’ th’ point on th’ top.  Tank ya fer giving me th’ sign.  I will go t’ th’ chapul now.”

The vulgar smiled and skipped away, holding the notice over his head.

Bradley stood up and wiped the dirt off his coat.  “That was rather stupid of me to say and I apologize.”

Ruth stared forward to see the vulgar in the distance.  “Don’t apologize to me.  Apologize to him.  He’s of the same Copian blood as you and I.  Just be careful what you say next time.”

Ruth then stared at the notice that Nicolas was still holding.  “Can I see the notice?”

Nicolas shrugged and gave her the notice.  “Whatever.  Just take it.  It’s not like I want that job anyway.”

Ruth read the job description, with Bradley looking over her shoulder. “Merchant apprentice? What’s wrong with that? It makes way more than I make as a seamstress aide!”

“That’s true,” Nicolas said.  “But it isn’t really anything that I am interested in.  Aren’t we supposed to find what we like to do?   I mean, why are you a seamstress aide?”

Ruth touched her robe and smiled.  “Why?  Well, it’s the only job us ladies can really do.  I actually really like being a seamstress.  I enjoy making clothes, bedding, and tapestry for different people.  Don’t you think it’s good to help people?”

“Yes.  But I would rather help people by fighting to protect Tulin.  I want my duty to be to protect the people from Tulin.”

“I know what you really want to do.”

“Here we go again.” Bradley sighed. “Don’t get him started.  He’ll never shut up.”

“What?!” Nicolas frowned.  “What is it?”

“You should know.” Bradley said.  “You talk about it all the time.”

Nicolas scratched his head.  “…You mean fight as an elite soldier in Diamondheart?  Yeah.  I would just love that.  Did I ever tell you my dad was in Diamondheart?”

Bradley rolled his eyes.  “You only told us a million times.”

“And he got the highest rank in Diamondheart….” Nicolas continued.

“Diamondheart,” Bradley interrupted.  “We know.  Can you please stop carrying on about Diamondheart?”

Nicolas frowned.  “Okay, okay.  The only problem with that bulletin board is that there are no job postings for Diamondheart.”

“A guild like Diamondheart would never post a job anywhere.” Bradley frowned.

“I know.  Their guild is invitation only.  I know that.  I have a lot of training to do if I ever want to be even close to getting in to Diamondheart.  I want to get in like my father did…”

Ruth gave Nicolas the posting back. “You’re not your father. You’re Nicolas, and that’s all you will be.”

“I know.  But I am like my father.  I want to get into Diamondheart somehow.  I know how tough it is to join but it doesn’t hurt to try.”

Bradley stared at Nicolas and shook his head.  “You should just focus on getting a job for now.  I mean, you’re older than us and you haven’t worked yet!”

“You need to get working,” Ruth said.  “You’re almost old enough to drink!”

“Okay.  I’ll get working.  Before I go, I would like to know something. What are you doing down here in Tulin Square?”

Bradley and Ruth exchanged glances.  “We’re both on break,” Bradley said.  “We came down here to spend some of our money.”

“Well, I’ll see you two later.”

Bradley faced Nicolas and gave him a pat on the back.  “Me and Ruth both need to be getting back to work anyway.  Good luck, Nicolas!”

          “Hope you get that job!” Ruth shouted.

______

©2011  K. L. Walker

The Master’s Chronicles: Chapter 1 – Tulin (Part 1)

Having been introduced to the world that is Copia,  we can now proceed with the story. In the first chapter,  the story opens up and the quest begins.  I hope you enjoy it.

Nicolas closed the book.

“That’s enough of Origins I for today,” he sighed with accomplishment.

He took the book and laid it on the table that sat across from his bed. The pages were barely torn and the cover still looked brand new.  A ray of light from his window reflected off the cover of the book.  There were no scratches – Just the flood of light that saturated the cover.

Nicolas stared at the book.  It was the kind of stare that reflected a sense of duty or obligation.  So many pages.  So many books.  A tapestry of Copia’s rich history. But why learn it?  What is the point to learning the past when all that matters is the future? Nicolas turned away from the book and stared at the doorway.  He plopped himself on the bed and sighed.

Nicolas then heard footsteps, each one getting progressively louder. Nicolas cupped his hands to his ears and closed his eyes.

“Open up, Nicolas!” A voice shouted.

Nicolas tried to drown out the sound in whatever way he could.  Still, the knocking continued.  The shouting continued.  A catnap was out of the question now.

“Nicolas Gillings, open up the door right now or I’ll…”

“Okay, mother!” Nicolas interrupted.

Nicolas got up on his feet and stamped over to the door.  Here we go again, Nicolas thought.  No rest from sun up to sun down. When will there be time to relax?

Nicolas gripped the knob and shoved the door open, almost hitting his mother in the face.

His mother caught the door in mid-swing.  “You better change that attitude right away or I’ll have you working on the garden until dusk.  I work real hard around here and I expect you to do the same.”

Nicolas stared at his mother, who was holding a bucket of water and a rag.  She wore a white tattered dress and sandals.  Her golden hair was wound in a bun and covered with a white cap.  Her face was red, and looked like she was ready to explode.

His mother continued shouting. “Do you think you’re some kind of king?  And I’m your servant, waiting on you hand and foot?  That attitude will not work here at all.  I need you to stop that behavior.  I am not g…”

“Stop yelling!” Nicolas shouted.  “Just stop already! What did you come in here for?”

His mother sat down the bucket and dropped the rag in.  “I would not have to yell if you behaved like a gentleman.  Now, I was just wondering….”

“…if I read my daily readings of the Copian scriptures.” Nicolas interrupted, rolling his eyes.  “Yes, I have! Okay?!”

“Nicolas, don’t use that tone with me!” she snapped.  “There are several passages in that book about rudeness.  I want you to take a look at that.”

“Maybe later. Can’t I go out and train today?”

His mother scratched her head.  “Nicolas.  I haven’t seen you do enough around here.   I give you chores, but that is not enough to earn your keep here.  You are not going to train today.  I want you to go out and look for a job.  There are plenty of listings in the town square, so don’t tell me that you can’t find one.

“First, read in those scriptures about rudeness and tend to the garden.  Then, I want you to go into town and look for work.  Do I make myself clear?”

Nicolas grabbed the book from the table and plopped it on the ground.  “Why do I have to read any of this?  There’s nothing important about the past, anyway.”

His mother swiped the bucket, which caused a small splash of water to spill out and hit the floor. “You’re right.  You don’t have to read any part of that book at all.  You’re almost sixteen and you don’t have to listen to me anymore.  But I want you to read that and do as I say because I love you, and you’re the only one I have left.”

Nicolas looked at his mother and shook his head.  He waved his right fist and scowled.  “Yeah. I know.  Things would be a whole lot better if he was still alive.  Right?”

His mother dropped the bucket and it spilled all over the floor.  She buried her face in her hands and started bawling.  “Yes! It would be a whole lot better!  But he’s not alive anymore! He’s gone!”

Nicolas stamped his feet on the floorboards.  “You know what? I didn’t want him to go.  I wanted him to stay here, with us!  But noooo!  He had to go and fight.  And he died.  What kind of deity is that?  This “Master” we serve has only abandoned us and dealt us with the worst possible hand! That’s why I don’t want to read this stupid book!”

Nicolas grabbed the book and threw it against the wall.  The pages flew open as it roughly landed on his bed, face down and wide open.  Tears began to form on his face, but he wiped them off.  Men do not cry.

He wiped more tears away from his face.  Pretty soon, he was not able to hold them back anymore.  The tears came rushing out, and he ran his fingers down the sides of his face in repeated motions.

His mother placed her hands on Nicolas’s shoulder.  “Things happen for a reason, Nicolas.  The Master has not abandoned us.  He loves us and he would never leave us.  He doesn’t always explain the why right away but take my word: he has a reason for everything that he does.  It’s okay to cry sometimes.”

“It’s not okay!” Nicolas sobbed.  “Men are not supposed to cry!  Men are tough, and are not supposed act like a baby!”

“But men also have a heart, and they can’t deny their true feelings that come flowing out of it.  I miss him just as much as you do.  No.  I miss him much more than that.  It’s been a long four years but we can make it.”

Nicolas wiped the tears off his face and sighed.  “I know we can.  I’m just upset about his death.  Why did he have to die?”

“Only The Master knows,” she told him.  “He did not die in vain.  He fought for us and he fought for Tulin.  He fought to the bitter end, I just know it.”

Nicolas placed his hand on his mother’s shoulder.  “It will be okay.”

He then saw his sword in its scabbard, lying against the wall next to the table.  “I’m going to go train now.”

His mother shook her head and frowned.  “You are not training.  Have you already forgotten?  I want you to read about rudeness and tend to the garden!  I then want you to find a job!  Do I make myself clear?”

“I already told you! I don’t want to read that stupid book!”

“You don’t want to “read” it?  You should be fortunate that you’re able to read at all!  Most people with our status in Tulin can not read or write. Count that as a blessing.  I don’t want to start this again so I’m just going to leave this room and you’re going to do as you’re told.”

His mother grabbed the empty bucket and left the room.

“Yes mother,” Nicolas sighed, as he gently closed the door.

Nicolas plopped himself on the bed again and sighed.  He closed the book and laid it beside him.

Nicolas closed his eyes.  He could see his father standing right next to him.

“I have no choice,” his father told him.  “It’s Tulin’s orders.  I have to help defend our nation against Saris.  It will be a tough battle, but I will be back.  I promise!”

“Don’t go!” Nicolas shouted.

His father bent down and hugged him.  “I’m sorry son, but I can’t go against their edict.  To do so would be treason against the kingdom of Tulin. I must follow their orders.  I promise you that I will return.”

“Promise?” Nicolas asked him.

“You have my word, son!”  his father replied.  “Goodbye, Nicolas!”

“Bye dad….” Nicolas sighed.

His father embraced Nicolas and left the house.

Nicolas ran outside, where he saw his father boarding a pegasus.  Before Nicolas could even reach his father, the pegasus already took off.

“He…” Nicolas gulped. “He promised!”

Nicolas tried to picture how his father died.  The only thing that he could envision was three soldiers, all yielding swords, pointing them directly in his face.  He could almost hear the cry of his father.  A rat slain by a pack of wolves.

“Those idiots!” Nicholas sobbed, wiping away the tears.  “Saris will pay for killing my father!”

His mother opened up the door and handed him a dry rag. “Use this to sop up all the water that I spilled.  And please start reading!”

The door closed and Nicolas picked up the book.  He opened it to Words of Copian Wisdom and found the passages on rudeness.  “Rudeness is a virus that affects a man and harms everyone around him,” Nicolas read.  “Politeness is the cure for the man and makes everyone around him better.”

Nicolas sat the book down on his bed and glanced at his sword, which was lying next to the table across from his bed.  It was in its scabbard, just sitting there, begging to be used.  Not now.  Still have some work to do.

Nicolas lied on his bed for a moment, staring at his sword.  Training was out of the question today, but oh, how he wanted to train!  He wanted to train to be the very best.  “I better train hard if I ever want to be in Diamondheart,” Nicolas murmured.  Yeah…he thought.  That would just be great. I would just love to be part of them.

Nicholas then remembered what his mother said. I better listen to her. He finished reading the passages on rudeness and sat the book down.  He sopped up all the spilled water and walked outside to tend to the garden.

The garden outside was enormous.  There were flowers of many kinds, with a row for each one.  There was a row of roses, violets, tulips, lilies and many others.  The flowers were only the beginning.   Several different crops grew in the other rows.  Most of the crops were sold to the marketplace, and the remaining crops were used to feed him and his mother.  This practice was typical in each Tulinite house of that class.

As Nicolas was watering the flowers, he began to think about what he said to his mother.  Was that behavior really called for in there?  Why was I so destructive?  As he thought about this, he wondered if he should go apologize to her.  She wasn’t really asking for much.  She just wanted her son to be obedient to her.  He was the only one that she had left to love and care for.

I’ll do this later, he thought.  I at least want to find a job first. It can’t be a rushed apology.  I want it to be sincere.

After he finished watering the last row of flowers, he went back inside the house and approached his mother.  “I read, sopped up the water, and watered the garden,” he assured her.

“Okay,” she nodded.  “Now go out there and get a job.”

“I will,” he told her. “Don’t worry.”

______

©2011  K. L. Walker

The Master’s Chronicles: Prologue

Without further ado, I give you one of my largest projects that I have been working on.  The name of the project is “The Master’s Chronicles”.  I have spent years working on the plot, setting and characters.  Even to this day, it is a work in progress. But since this story is too big to post in one entry, I will be posting parts of it every couple of days. The story begins with the prologue.  The prologue is a detailed account of how Copia (the world of this story) was made.  In starting this series, I found it only fitting to explain how everything came to be in this story-world.  You may have heard this story before, but it’s a little different, and parts of it are unique to this story’s world.  I hope you enjoy it.

Nothing. It all started with nothing.

Then, the darkness took form.  A seemingly endless array of stars began appearing, one by one throughout the dark and wide expanse of space. They all appeared in various sizes.  Some were gargantuan in size while others were quite minute.  Each had a characteristic of its own, along with its own degree of luminosity.

Multiple spheres of various sizes began to appear throughout space. Each sphere was formless and empty, without a source of light.  The spheres only consisted of water.  They were merely dark orbs suspended in space, with no gravity to propel them. Though the stars were plentiful, their light was too faint for any of the formless spheres of water.

Of the many dark hydrospheres that hovered in space, there was one in particular that had a faint glow of light.  This light glistened, and danced along the surface of the water.

This light was The Master in all his splendor, observing the formless sphere.  “A clean canvas,” The Master said.  “The galaxies are starting to take form.  This sphere will not be formless for long.  A new life will be breathed upon it. This will be a planet that is copious with life.  It shall be called Copia.”

And it was so.  The Master began creating and what he mentioned came into existence.

The Master then said, “Time, come forth! You will be the law that effects change on Copia and in the vast reaches of space beyond Copia.  Let there also be physical laws that will govern everything that exists.”

And it was so.  The stars began to move and the dark spheres began rotating.

The light and darkness split from each other and each went to its own place.

The first day happened.  Then The Master said, “Sky, come forth!”

And it was so.  The sky split the two layers of water apart.

The Master continued creating.  Each day brought new things to Copia.

The land burst out of the water. First, it was all dirt and rock.  Then, grass covered it and flooded the land everywhere.  Flowers of different colors and sizes sprang up throughout the new grass. Trees emerged from the ground, each baring a different fruit. Many different plants grew and began to fill the land.

A bright star appeared some distance away from Copia.  The dark sphere with land and vegetation was dark no longer.  This bright star is called the sun, and lights each Copian day.

A dim sphere appeared much closer to Copia.  This dim sphere is called the moon, and lights each Copian night.

With that, the third and fourth day happened.

The Master still continued creating new things on Copia.

The oceans of Copia were filled with different beasts.  There were many different kinds of beasts in the water, each with their own distinct personality.

Then suddenly, as if from nowhere, a myriad of winged beasts flew in the sky. There were many kinds and colors of these beasts and each personality was unique.

And The Master said, “Swimming beasts, fill the waters and winged beasts, fill the skies of Copia!  Be copious, all of you.”

With that, the fifth day happened.

The Master continued creating new things on Copia.

Many different kinds of beasts began roaming on the land.  They ranged greatly in size and shape. Some beasts were tame while others were wild. They each let out their own distinct sound.  It was a cacophony of sounds that ranged in volume, tone, and pitch.

“This canvas is coming together nicely,” The Master said.  “Everything on Copia looks so beautiful.  Every corner of it is teeming with life.  However, something is missing.”

The Master looked at every beast that was made.  He then made something unique.  Something that stood out from all the rest of the creatures on Copia. “Let us make something that is a reflection of us,” The Master said.  “It will be an image of us and will look similar to us.”

The Master gathered some soft clay and formed this image.  The clay on this image turned into flesh and a body was made.  “He shall be called man,” The Master said.  “And he shall be named Axis, since he will be the center of all other men that are made after him.”

The Master made a garden for the man and had all kinds of different plants grow.  There were flowers of different colors and all the plants were beautiful.  He also placed some trees in the garden that provided food for Axis.

In the center of the garden, the Master built a ledge.  This ledge had a flat top with stairs leading up to it on all four sides.  He made a short pedestal at the top of this ledge.

A pillar of light appeared on top of the pedestal.  The light became a round golden mass, which looked like a ball.  The ball-shaped mass began to transform.  The two sides at the bottom moved inward and a depression formed at the top.  A black stem emerged from the depression.  It was a golden apple, enveloped in a cone of light shining from above.

The Master observed the man and the garden he just created.  “This garden will be called Paradise,” The Master said.  “And this is where you will live.”

The Master placed the man into the garden.  He then said, “Watch over this garden and take good care of it.  Feel free to eat anything from the trees that I have given you for food.”

The Master then observed the golden apple.  “There is, however, one fruit that you are forbidden to eat.  In the center of the garden is a golden apple.  This apple did not come from any tree.  It was made by my own two hands.  And you must not eat of it at all.  If you eat this apple, you will surely perish.  Do you understand?”
“I understand,” the man said.  “I will not eat that forbidden apple.”

The Master then told the man, “I have given you authority over all the creatures that are on Copia.  I will bring all the creatures to you and you can tell me what each of them are.”

And so the Master did just that.  He brought every single creature that he has ever made on Copia to the man and the creatures’ names were whatever the man decided to call them.

After the man had named every single creature, he looked at them and frowned.  “I am so alone,” the man said.  “There is no other creature that is like me.”

The Master looked at the man and all the other creatures.  “Man can not be alone,” The Master said.  “Man needs someone to help him and accompany him.  I will create man’s equal.  Another piece of him that will complete him.”

The Master then put the man to sleep and took a rib from his body. He covered that area with flesh and created a new image from the rib.  “This helper will complete him,” The Master said.

The Master awakened the man and called the helper over to him.

“I am not alone now,” the man said.  “This was the rib taken out of me.  I will call her woman.

This clearly explains why marriage is necessary and that a Copian man is to wed a Copian woman.

The Master then said to the man and the woman, “Populate all parts of Copia.  I have given you both authority over all the creatures of Copia.

Then The Master said, “I have given you the seeds of life.  Wherever you plant these seeds, you will have plenty of fruit to eat.  You will also have plenty of plants that all the beasts of Copia will be able to eat.”

And it was so.  The Master looked at Axis, the woman, the creatures, and all that was made on Copia.

With that, the sixth day happened.

The Master observed Copia, now filled with life.  He then observed the vast reaches of space beyond Copia.  All the formless spheres of water were now planets of various sizes.  There were galaxies, shooting stars, comets, asteroids, and many other celestial bodies that lined the seemingly endless panorama.

The Master was now finished creating things.  With that, he rested from all the work that he did.  ”The canvas is complete,” The Master said.  “Everything is finished.  Let us rest now from all that we have made.”

The Master rested, observing the almost limitless stars and galaxies that were made.

“This day will be forever blessed,” The Master declared.  “For I have spent six days creating the vast reaches of space and Copia.”

Meanwhile, a dark silhouette approached the garden.  There was light coming from the silhouette, but it was a faded light.  A light that dimmed more and more by the second.  The silhouette had the appearance of a winged figure.  The figure paced around aimlessly in a circle.  It was as if it were looking for something, but it couldn’t find it.

The dark silhouette revealed a figure that looked like a man.  It was a handsome man in white robes.  The white robes shimmered and sparkled like a diamond.  He wore a frown on his face and his eyes were wide.  It looked like he was lost.  An angel that has lost his way.

The angel stood up quickly.  His frown became a scowl.  “Rejected,” Ivion uttered in a guttural tone.  “How dare he!  Doesn’t he know who’s in charge?  It is clear that I am superior to him.”

Ivion clenched his right fist and stamped his right foot on the ground. He tore a branch off one of the trees and broke it in two.  “I will destroy all that he has created.  I will be a god that is superior to the Master.  I will then destroy him and all men will serve me forever.”

Ivion cackled, as he walked closer and closer to the garden of Paradise.

Meanwhile, the man and the woman were tending to the garden.

“What is that thing in the center of the garden?” The woman asked.

“That is food that the Master said that we can never touch,” the man explained to her.  “Over there is the golden apple.  If you touch and eat that fruit, you will perish.”

The woman looked at the man and frowned. “Perish? What does it mean to perish?”

“To perish is an end to all life,” the man explained.  “All of us are alive. We can talk, move, breathe, and feel.  This is what you’re able to do when you’re alive.  Perishing is the opposite of this.  You can’t talk. You can’t move. You can’t breathe. All movement in your body would cease.  If we eat that apple, we will stop living.  All perfection in Copia will be destroyed if we eat that forbidden fruit.”

“I do not want to perish,” The woman gasped.  “It does not sound like a good thing.”

“It isn’t,” Axis told her.  “I’m now going to tend to the creatures in the garden.”

Meanwhile, a cobra slithered over to the woman, who was looking at the golden apple in the center of the garden.  “So lusciousssss,” The cobra hissed. “Bright, shiny, delectable.  Doesn’t it look good?”

“It does,” The woman said.  “But I can not eat it, or I will perish.”

“Perish?” The cobra snickered.  “Who told you that?”

“The man told me this,” The woman answered.

The cobra looked at the woman and hissed.        “Ssssss! Liessss!  He lies to you. Did he really tell you that you can not eat any fruit that’s in this garden?”

“No,” The woman said.  “We can eat every fruit, but we can not eat that golden apple.”

“Oh come on!” The cobra grinned.  “He knows just how delicious that apple is.  He doesn’t want you to have any of it because he wants it all for himself.  You wouldn’t want him to eat it all, would you?”

“I can’t…do that,” The woman hesitated.

The cobra slithered closer to the woman.  He began to speak in a slow and soft voice. “Trust me.  You won’t die if you eat that apple.  When you eat that, you will be just like The Master, knowing both good and evil.  Wouldn’t you want that?  It is full of wisdom and it’s the most delicious apple in the garden.”

The woman stared at the golden apple.  She looked more puzzled now.

“Doesn’t it look good?” The cobra persisted.  “How about just one bite?”

“I guess one bite wouldn’t hurt,” the woman agreed.

“Yessssss,” The cobra said.  “Go for it!”

The woman walked over to the pyramid shaped ledge and walked up the stairs.  She took the golden apple off the pedestal and took a small bite.

“Mmm….” The woman said.  “This is so good!”

The woman took another bite, and another.

The cobra then slithered over to the woman.       “See? I told you I was right.  It’s quite a delicious apple, isn’t it? Don’t have it all to yourself.  How about you share that with the man?  He would be most pleased.”

“I will!” The woman joyfully declared.

The man came over to the woman.

“What have you done?” The man gasped.

“Try some of this golden apple,” The woman told him.

“I can’t do that!” The man refused.

“Have just one bite,” The woman grinned.  “It’s delicious!”

“I guess one bite wouldn’t be too bad,” The man agreed.

The man took some of the golden apple from the woman and ate it.

Suddenly, a bolt of lightning flashed in the air, followed by the crack of thunder.

The man and the woman looked at each other.

“Oh no!” The man gasped.  “I’m naked! Let’s run!”

They both ran and hid in some bushes in the garden.

The Master observed the garden and called out to the man.  “Where are you?”

“I did it,” The man admitted.  “I ate the fruit that you told me not to eat.  It scared me to see that I was naked.  When I heard you, I ran and hid in these bushes.”

“Who said that you were naked?” The Master asked him.  “Did you really eat that golden apple?”

“Yes,” The man choked out.  “The woman that you made for me gave me that apple and I ate it.”

The Master then went to the woman.

“What did you do?” He asked the woman.

“That cobra told me to eat that apple, so I ate it.”  The woman admitted.

The Master went over to the cobra.  “Cobra!  Since you have tricked the woman into eating that fruit, I will place a curse on you.  You will be cursed above all the other creatures that I have made.  The woman and her offspring will despise you and your offspring and you will despise her.  You will no longer have legs and you will crawl on your belly. He will tear your head and you will attack his foot.”

The Master then said to the woman, “I will make it painful for you to bear children.  You will desire to be with your husband, and will be under his authority.”

He then said to Axis,

“Since you ate the golden apple, you can not eat from any other tree in the garden.  The ground that you walk upon is cursed from your wrongdoing. The ground will not be as copious as I have made it in the garden.  You will work and will feel the pain of your labor.  You will toil and will eat the food that are able to produce from the ground.  You will eat from it for the rest of your life.  There will be thorns that will come from the land that you work and you will eat from all of the plants.  With sweat from your face, you will eat the food until you die.  I have made you from clay and you will return to the ground as clay.”

Axis then faced the woman.  “I will name you Isis,” Axis told her.  “For you will have authority over all the women of Copia.”

The Master banished Axis and Isis from the garden of Paradise.  “Man now knows good and evil like us,” The Master said.  “He can not eat from the fruit of this garden and live forever.”

The Master then placed a barrier around the garden of Paradise so that Axis and Isis could not enter it again.

The Master then created four relics.

“I will send them to the four corners of Copia and bury them in the ground,” The Master said.  “Whoever finds one of the relics will rule over that part of Copia.  With these relics, there will be four rulers on Copia.”

The Master then put clothing on Axis and Isis and put skin garments on them.

______

©2011  K. L. Walker