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