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A. W. G. Coleman

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Legacy of War - Part 1 Chapter 2: Suburban Secrets - Part 1 Chapter 3: Legacy of War - Part 2 Chapter 4: Suburban Secrets - Part 2 Chapter 5: Legacy of War - Part 3 Chapter 6: Suburban Secrets - Part 3 Chapter 7: Suburban Secrets - Part 4 Chapter 8: Legacy of War - Part 4 Chapter 9: Destiny of the Descendants - Part 1 Chapter 10: Destiny of the Descendants - Part 2 Chapter 11: The Madman’s Ultimatum - Part 1 Chapter 12: The Madman’s Ultimatum - Part 2 Chapter 13: The Madman’s Ultimatum - Part 3 Chapter 14: The Madman’s Ultimatum - Part 4 Chapter 15: The Displacement - Part 1 Chapter 16: The Displacement - Part 2 Chapter 17: The Displacement - Part 3 Chapter 18: The Displacement - Part 4 Chapter 19: The Displacement - Part 5 Chapter 20: The Displacement - Part 6 Chapter 21: The Displacement - Part 7 Chapter 22: The Displacement - Part 8 Chapter 23: The Quickener Prodigy - Part 1 Chapter 24: A Mother’s Mission - Part 1 Chapter 25: Search for the Summoner - Part 1 Chapter 26: A Mother’s Mission - Part 2 Chapter 27: The Wildcard & The Melder - Part 1 Chapter 28: Into the Desert - Part 1 Chapter 29: Search for the Summoner - Part 2 Chapter 30: Search for the Summoner - Part 3 Chapter 31: The Wildcard & The Melder - Part 2 Chapter 32: Search for the Summoner – Part 4 Chapter 33: A Mother’s Mission – Part 3 Chapter 34: Into the Desert – Part 2 Chapter 35: The Quickener Prodigy – Part 2 Chapter 36: The Weather Master - Part 1 Chapter 37: Search for the Summoner – Part 5 Chapter 38: The Weather Master – Part 2 Chapter 39: Into the Desert - Part 3 Chapter 40: Into the Desert – Part 4 Chapter 41: Late Night Revelations – Part 1 Chapter 42: The Wildcard & The Melder - Part 3 Chapter 43: The Weather Master – Part 3 Chapter 44: Late Night Revelations - Part 2

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Chapter 3: Legacy of War - Part 2

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Chapter 3

 

* Fantasmal Mountain *

“All of the books, documents, and other relevant materials I have are in here,” Franklin said as he pushed open the double doors to one of the large research rooms located within the Fantasmal Libraries.

Honsmordin and Fantasma were right on his heels. “So, this is where you’ve been sequestered for the last few weeks,” Honsmordin said with a wry smile as he looked around the cluttered room. “Your absence from the weekly briefings have become somewhat of a sore spot for many of the other chiefs.”

“Priorities, my friend; bureaucracy ranks far lower than era-defining calamities.” Franklin chuckled, but his tone was still serious as he made his way to a large chest at the back of the room.

Honsmordin and Fantasma took seats at one of the many large tables in the research room just as Sharanel and Karmandrian entered through the double doors, both staring around in awe.

“Woah, this place is huge,” Sharanel said as she gazed at the bookcases that lined three of the four impressively tall walls.

“I never knew such places existed in the libraries,” Karmandrian added.

Both the quickener and the guardian had tagged along on the trip down to the Fantasmal Libraries, though for different reasons. Sharanel was inquisitive by nature and interested to see what the trio were trying to uncover. Karmandrian, for his part, was also curious, but his real goal was to have an excuse to stay in the mountain. His discovery of the destruction at Peedersburg had given him a reason to return, and he didn’t want to be dispatched back to the Gibano Mountains if he could help it.

“Elder Jorbedus,” Franklin called, snapping Karmandrian out of his musings, “would you mind moving this to the table for me.” He pointed to the heavy looking chest which was practically overflowing with books and scrolls.

“Please, just Karmandrian in such company,” Karmandrian said as he made his way through the myriad of tables and boxes to reach the chest in question. “I’m still new to the role. I haven’t really gotten used to the title,” he added, trying to sound humble.

Though guardians outranked all other staff in the mountain as far as their powers and abilities, they were still expected to be respectful to senior staff members. In addition, Karmandrian had a healthy admiration for the chief librarian who was world renowned for his vast knowledge and insight in a variety of fields.

The guardian easily used mentus to move the large chest full of books and rolled parchments. At his silent command, the trunk floated placidly behind him to the large table where Fantasma and Honsmordin were already seated. Of course, Franklin could use mentus too, but like most people, he could only employ his telekinetic skills to lift objects up to half his weight. The trunk, overladen as it was, far exceeded that.

Honsmordin, however, knew there was another reason behind the librarian’s request. “Franklin, you know that I could have easily moved that.” He tapped the crystal on his scepter for emphasis. “Why are you testing the young guardian?”

“Testing?” Karmandrian repeated, confused.

Franklin chuckled. “You know me too well. I just want to make sure that this newest crop of guardians doesn’t succumb to ego.” He smiled at Karmandrian. “Your willingness to do a menial task without complaint shows that you have the humility befitting your rank, young guardian.”

Karmandrian looked stunned but nodded all the same. “Uh, thank you.”

“How long have you been a guardian?” Sharanel asked as she leaned against one of the tall bookcases behind Honsmordin.

She’d been curious about the guardian ever since she noticed the gold hoop earring in his ear. Though not ornate or flashy, the jewelry still intrigued her. Guardians were usually highly formal and tended to look and dress the same. Karmandrian, with his earing and cavalier attitude seemed very different.

“A little over six months,” Karmandrian said as he joined her against the bookcase. “And what about you? I can’t believe you’re the new Fantasmal Quickener. You’re so young.”

“One could say the same of you,” Honsmordin chuckled as he pulled books and parchments from the large trunk. “Don’t let her age fool you. Though only seventeen, Sharanel is one of the most talented quickeners in the world.”

Sharanel blushed at the praise. “I was also appointed about six months ago.”

Karmandrian nodded. “Probably just after I was assigned to the Gibano Mountains. I’ve been out of touch since then.”

Honsmordin’s focus was now fully on the documents and books that he’d already piled on the table, and there were still much more in the large chest. “This is quite a lot to go through.” He turned to Fantasma. “Sir, are you sure you want to do this yourself? We could have the library assistants comb through all of these documents. It would be a lot faster.”

Fantasma shook his head as he took a rolled-up scroll from Honsmordin. “Absolutely not. Right now, the five of us are the only ones who know the truth of those monsters. I can still hardly believe it myself, but Franklin’s discovery and Karmandrian’s testimony are more than enough proof. As Franklin said, this has the potential to be an era-defining calamity. The fewer people who know, the better. Once we have the information we need, we’ll loop in Rockwall and Sorinson, but that’s all for now.”

Franklin returned to the table, carrying a large pile of parchments in his arms. “Don’t worry, it shouldn’t take long for us to find what we’re looking for. I’m certain one of these documents has what we need.”

“Um, what exactly are you looking for?” Sharanel asked hesitantly. She still felt completely uninformed about everything that was going on.

“The site of the final battle of the Great War,” Franklin said, his tone grave.

Sharanel scrunched her nose in confusion. “I don’t want to sound naive, but isn’t the Great War just a legend? It didn’t really happen, did it?”

Franklin gave her a reproving look. “What are they teaching kids in schools these days?”

“Perhaps they don’t teach any history before the current millennium,” Honsmordin said. “It wasn’t like that in my day.”

“Granted, that had to be some time ago. You’re getting old my friend.” Franklin chuckled as he poured over parchments, his green eyes scanning each document quickly before setting it aside.

“It’s all relative,” Honsmordin quipped. “Still, it troubles me that the Great War has already been reduced to legend.”

“The world wants to forget,” Fantasma said, “and for good reason. Though brief, it changed everything.”

“So, what happened then?” Sharanel asked, clearly frustrated that she was lacking in some shared knowledge. “Am I the only one here who doesn’t know?” She turned to Karmandrian.

Neither of them had joined the search since they had no idea of what they were looking for.

Karmandrian smiled. “Don’t worry, the only reason I learned about the Great War was because of my guardian training.”

“You know the real story then?” Sharanel asked curiously.

“Well, I know what I’ve been told.” Karmandrian shrugged. “Right at the end of the last era, almost thirteen hundred years ago, a man by the name of Multus managed to find an ancient artifact known as the Book of War, which gave him the power to summon creatures of all shapes and sizes from its pages. They were indestructible and obeyed Multus alone. He used the book to create an army and start the Great War.”

"Okay, well I know all that,” Sharanel said. “The part I don’t know is: where did the Book of War come from? How did Multus get it?”

“Well, that’s a little tricky. According to the writings of the epouranals,” he gave her a look that suggested even he didn’t quite believe what he was about to say, “the Book of War was used to trap a rogue spirit long ago. This spirit was rebellious against God and so it was defeated with a divine weapon and imprisoned in the book with a supernal seal. The book was then hidden deep within a mountain so it would never be found. Of course, the details are fuzzy, and the story obviously has holes. What was this spirit? What did it do that was so wrong? Who exactly defeated it?”

“You speak as if you don’t believe the divine writings of the epouranals, young guardian.” Franklin said, looking up from the map he was perusing.

Karmandrian shrugged. “It’s not that. I believe the Great War happened and that the Book of War is real. It’s just that some of the texts that refer to ancient times shouldn’t necessarily be taken literally. After all, it’s not unusual for the epouranals to speak in parables, and it’s not like they were there back then. Do you really believe that God actually sealed some spirit in a book? It just seems more likely that the book has a power that we have yet to fully understand, and the story was a warning to never use it. I think that’s the important point of the epouranal writings.”

“The epouranals are divine prophets,” Franklin said reverently. “You’d do well to heed their words more carefully. As a guardian, one of your roles is to uphold our spiritual teachings after all.”

Karmandrian sighed but nodded respectfully.

“So, if this book was sealed and hidden deep in some mountain, how did Multus get it?” Sharanel asked again.

Franklin rolled up the unhelpful scroll he’d been reading. “There are no exact records on how he found or unsealed the Book of War. However, we know this much: just before the Great War began, Multus kidnapped and killed the last known Daughter of the Sun.”

 “So, the death of the last Daughter of the Sun and the Great War are related? Wait, is the Great War the reason why there are no more Daughters of the Sun now?” Sharanel was clearly flummoxed.

 “Some people believe so.” Karmandrian nodded. “You see, the Daughter of the Sun at the time was a woman by the name of Jasmine Lowens. She’d only held her position for less than a year, I believe. Multus took her and the Sun Stone which, as you know, is linked to the Daughter of the Sun’s power. Some believe that he took it so that it could not be used against him. When Jasmine died, her power should have been passed to her daughter, Ruth Lowens, but Ruth disappeared during the Great War when she went to take back the Sun Stone from Multus. It’s believed that she died too. Since then, there have been no more Daughters of the Sun, though the Sun Stone was returned to Sunnin Mountain and still seems to be linked to the Daughter of the Sun, as if waiting for her to return.”

“But if Ruth died in the Great War, or even some time later, wouldn’t the power of the Daughter of the Sun have just passed to another? Isn’t that how it was supposed to work with that.” Sharanel was very intrigued now.

“That is the way it was up until Jasmine,” Franklin said. “But Jasmine’s death was unique and that may have been the reason why there have been no more Daughters of the Sun.”

“Unique how?” Sharanel asked.

“On the day of her death, just before the Great War started, the red moon appeared in the sky, eclipsed the sun, and caused a tempeston,” Franklin said.

“Tempeston?” Sharanel repeated.

“It means ‘death night’,” Franklin explained. “It’s only ever happened once, and some scholars believe it played a part in the Daughter of the Sun’s death and the end of her legacy. The tempeston was an eclipse that shrouded the world in an unnaturally oppressive darkness for far longer than normal. Afterward, the red moon was visible both day and night for several days, which caused widespread panic since it had never been seen before. Up until then, Mendala only had two moons.”

“Right, I do remember that from school. The moons mark the beginning of each era,” Sharanel said quickly as she counted off on her fingers. “Selen, the blue moon, was the original moon of Mendala. Normenia, the yellow moon, appeared a little over five thousand years ago at the start of the last era, and the red moon, Enex, appeared at the beginning of this era. I guess I never realized that the Great War and the beginning of the current era were linked. I remember learning something about an eclipse lasting longer than normal, but I didn’t know it happened during the Great War.”

“The two are definitely linked,” Karmandrian said. “It’s said that it wasn’t long after the tempeston that creatures from the Book of War started appearing all over the world.”

 “The Fantasma at the time sent an army to stop Multus,” Fantasma added, “but it was the Twelve Warriors who actually defeated him.”

“So, the Twelve Warriors are real too?” Sharanel interrupted.

“Yes, they were twelve elite fighters considered to be legendary,” Honsmordin explained. “They were truly in a class by themselves; a team of close-knit friends who went on many adventures around the world. I’m not sure how they ended up being called to action, though I believe one was a friend of Ruth. They were the ones who ultimately defeated Multus and destroyed the Book of War, but they also died in the process.”

“But we now know that the Book of War was not destroyed,” Franklin said as he leaned in closer to the ancient scroll he was perusing.

“That book Franklin showed us was a diary from a soldier who fought in the Great War and depicted in detail what some of the creatures looked like.” Honsmordin turned to Karmandrian. “The markings, only visible in the mentant realm, it’s something that was only ever seen on a creature of the Book of War, and you described that same marking on the creatures you saw. As Fantasma said: this proves the Book of War is back.”

“Not just the Book of War,” Franklin said. “I believe the Daughter of the Sun is returning as well.”

Honsmordin looked up in shock. “Frank, what in the world makes you say that?”

 “My ancestor, Maxwell Stokenshire, was alive during the Great War. He went with Fantasma’s army to stop Multus and when the Twelve Warriors disappeared, an epouranal, High Mage Gilenhall, gave Maxwell a prophecy that he passed down through our family. ‘When war threatens anew, and the warriors return, the sun shall rise again’.” Franklin smiled. “My family has held on to that prophecy, knowing that one day the Daughter of the Sun would return.”

“So even now after all these years, the Stokenshires are still loyal to the Daughters of the Sun,” Fantasma said with a small smile.

“We will never abandon hope or forget the bond that our families share,” Franklin said stoically.

Honsmordin put aside the small book he had been leafing through. “Frank, I’ve been meaning to ask; all of these documents, maps, books, where did you get all of it?” He waved his hand over the laden table before gesturing to the large ornate trunk that they’d pulled everything from. “It certainly doesn’t look like you got these from the libraries.”

“It’s from a personal collection,” Franklin said vaguely as he unrolled another scroll.

“A personal collection?” Karmandrian repeated. “So, you have this whole collection of ancient documents that aren’t in the Fantasmal Libraries?”

“I am a scholar,” Franklin said almost defensively. “It’s not unheard of for there to be private collections that contain artifacts that even the Fantasmal Libraries have no record of.”

“Yeah, but as chief of the libraries, I just thought—” Karmandrian started, but Fantasma cut across him.

“Can I assume that these are from the Stokenshire’s secret library?” he said matter-of-factly.

Franklin gave a start. “How do you know of that?”

Fantasma smiled again. “I’ve heard rumors of a library in Elberton from a few guardians familiar with your family. Apparently, none of them have ever been there though.”

“So that’s where you went this morning,” Sharanel said in sudden revelation. “Now all the secrecy makes sense. Wow, the Stokenshires have a private library; I’m learning so much today. But why? What’s the big secret?”

“You must understand that the Stokenshires take their responsibility to the Daughter of the Sun very seriously.” Franklin seemed to be choosing his words carefully. “We guard their history and secrets even from the Fantasmal Government if necessary. This trunk was locked away in the library, holding every piece of information we have from the Great War, waiting for the day we knew we’d need it.”

“And I think we finally found what we’re looking for.” Fantasma spread out a large parchment and beckoned the others closer. “It’s a detailed map. Looks like it was made for tactical strategy, but it shows the area in the Lumarian Mountains where Multus had his base, which is where the final battle took place.”

Franklin nodded. “It’s also believed to be near the location where he found the Book of War, but above all, this would be where Ruth and the Twelve Warriors disappeared. If we want answers, that’s the first place we should look.”

“Agreed,” Fantasma turned to his quickener. “Sharanel, how hard is it going to be to get us there?”

Sharanel walked up behind Fantasma and studied the map. “I’m not familiar with the area, but I can tell by its position in the mountains that it’ll be impossible to quicken directly. Our best bet is to get a staff quickener who can take us to Fenallday and then go by foot into the mountains from there to search.”

“I will compare this to other maps. Now that we know where we’re going, I may be able to find a path or route that we can use,” Franklin offered.

Fantasma nodded at this, handing him the map. “I’ll alert General Rockwall. I want to take a small company and plenty of supplies with us. We have no idea how long this might take or what we might find out there. Karmandrian, go report to Elder Sorinson and tell him everything. I want guardians on this excursion as well. Sharanel, find the quickener we need. We’ll head to Fenallday in the morning.”

Fantasma, Sharanel, and Karmandrian left the research room, but Honsmordin stayed behind with Franklin, deciding to use the opportunity to speak on something that was bothering him.

“You know, I can scarcely believe that the Book of War, which was supposed to be destroyed long ago, may be back, but do you really think the Daughter of the Sun is truly going to return?” he asked. “How? Why?”

“I don’t know how,” Franklin looked up, a determined gaze in his green eyes, “but I do know why: because she is needed. The world needs the Daughter of the Sun. Things have been completely out of balance without her.”

“That’s a bit dramatic, don’t you think?” Honsmordin chuckled.

Franklin, however, seemed completely serious. “The uptick of wars alone these past several centuries should be proof enough. Add to that the famines and plagues that have gone unchecked, the social unrest and growing poverty class, not to mention the resurgence of a slave trade on a level that hasn’t been seen in almost five thousand years.”

“But the Fantasmal Government—” Honsmordin started.

“The Fantasmal Government can only do so much, and in some cases, it wasn’t designed to handle these things; bureaucracy never is,” Franklin said glibly. “The Daughter of the Sun is the caretaker of our world. The Sunnin Social System was designed to deal with these problems.”

Honsmordin tried again. “Okay, but the Sunnin Social System still exists today, and the Sisterhood of Ester still helps with these things.”

Franklin pounded his fist on the table. “The Sunnin Social System is a mere shell of its former glory. The Sisterhood of Ester has bastardized it, made it nothing more than an outlet for their greed and egos. Without the Daughter of the Sun at the helm, they’re honestly doing more harm than good.”

Honsmordin wasn’t expecting such a strong reaction. “You speak as if you have personal knowledge of this. I know your family donates to Sunnin but—”

“We are more intimately involved than you know.” Franklin started rolling up the scrolls sprawled out on the table. “My ancestors helped found the Sunnin Social System. Not only are we its largest donors, but for generations there were always Stokenshires present within Sunnin Mountain, serving the Daughter of the Sun and helping to run the organization. Now the Sisterhood of Ester has all but pushed us out except where the charter and bylaws demand our involvement. The Stokenshires have always been loyal to the Daughter of the Sun, ever since Sarah Fantas. Our name is blessed because of them, but the Sisterhood of Ester; that’s another story.”

“But even now, even after centuries with no Daughter of the Sun, your family is still loyal, loyal to a legacy that’s died off?” Honsmordin asked in disbelief. He was surprised to hear his friend speak with such passion.

“As long as the name Stokenshire remains, we will always be loyal to the Daughter of the Sun,” Franklin said with hard determination in his voice. “We are her most trusted allies, and we will never break that trust. So yes, I do believe the Daughter of the Sun is returning, but even if it takes a thousand more years, the Stokenshires will wait. We will wait and be ready to serve. If you’ll excuse me, I have some research to do.” He put several rolled-up scrolls under his arm and left the research room.

 


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