Tablets of Destiny
Published on / 1 Chapter(s) / 3 Review(s)
A fantasy story that ive been working on for several months, and isn't anywhere near done yet. This story focuses on a young mage by the name of Chen, and his quest to restore the Tablets of Destiny to their proper resting places.
Long ago in ages past, a great mage of untold power ruled the land. Immortal, he led the people to prosperity and growth. After millennia of such peace and control, the son of this godly deity revolted in lust of his power and took his throne. Before the Deity was overthrown, he cast the great relics of his power, in the form of tablets, across the globe. 6 tablets were released, and he split his being into 6 guardians to protect them from ill use.
Then, after a reign of terrible evil, a ray of hope shone from the depths of the darkness and a hero stepped forth to dispel such darkness. This un-named hero went to the citadel of the evil one and defeated him. The sun shone again, and prosperity returned to the nations.
The world had become peaceful once more, but some wondered what would become of the great powers that had been scattered and that the evil one had tried so hard to find.
Time flew by, ages and eras both. The legends of old were all but forgotten, save for some scholars who kept such things alive. They kept records of the texts and what they meant, and, even with their great knowledge of the past, were not able to see let alone prevent what was to happen next.
The wind god, Suh-Chensko, lord of the skies and all things flying, had assumed command over the deities because the seal on evil had also sealed them into a state of stasis, and he being the first to awaken was hit in full with the powers of evil his awakening had unleashed. Awakening the other gods with this dark power, he sent them to retrieve the 6 tablets of legend. Facing fierce resistance from the guardians, they had to fall back. The devastation from the battles tore the kingdoms into disarray and chaos. Villages destroyed, towns obliterated, lush valleys wiped clean. The land was quickly becoming barren and desolate. The scholars saw the devastation and knew they must act to stop it, but being the elders they could but instruct their warriors what to do. Moving from one clan to another they united the armies against the gods, but all attempts failed, merely because the gods were not mortal and killable as the humans were. Hidden away from the new darkness; the civilian folk fled to caves and deep jungles, jungles that made their own valleys so deep their roots ran. It was in these forests and caves that the story really begins; with the coming of age of a boy named Chen, meaning Heaven in their ancient toungue. The village folk hoped that this boy would save them, but the rest of the boys so named had failed as any mortal man would. Yet this one went forth with the same determination as the others, the same courage, and the same human flaws that reside in all of us. Yet this one was different, and his own destiny was yet to unfold.
The Moon was high, full, and ripe, the fires burnt bright enough and large as the trees around them it seemed, and the village was busy celebrating the coming of age of the young mage in training; Chen. This young man was different, not like the others, but at the same time just like them. He looked similar, dressed similar, and acted similar, at least when all the others were around. He seemed depressed when his friends left, never to be heard of again. The struggle of loneliness was tugging at him, and he fought back by telling himself that he didn't need friends. Leaving this place was the first step towards finding the answers to his life he knew, and he was all to glad to go. The ceremony hadn't ended yet but he could care less. He left during the festival, and soon after he had left the chief called for him to be congratulated. Thinking to himself how strange they must feel at not having their guest of honor show up, he quickened his pace lest they find him and make him wait. Better to be gone now, anyway. Finding the path that led into the deep forest, he looked back to see if they had panicked yet. His eyes, orange in the core and green outside that, swept the area searching for any guards that might have been sent for him. None were seen, and he turned and ran so quickly that his white hair flew wildly in the wind his speed created. He was glad to be gone; gone from the rituals, the training, and most of all the people. He belonged alone.
The torrential rain that came after Chen's departure marked the gods' fury and despair of his incomplete ceremony. He ran through it nonetheless, and it didn't seem to faze him at all. His robe was soaked, his white hair clinging to his face and head like slime, and he was annoyed by it. It wouldn't stay out of his vision and he worried he would make a mistake and fall. The guards must have given up by now, and the village was most likely praying for forgiveness from the gods. He smiled, knowing that the journey was truly beginning, and that he was alone as he had hoped to be. He didn't need anybody but himself. The rain continued to fall heavily and evenly all around, and other than the occasional overflowed stream and brook, the only trouble was the slippery mud and underfoot vegetation. Howls were heard in the distance, and he quickened his pace. He didn't bother using his magic to dry or warm himself because he knew it was pointless to do so; he would only get cold again. Lightning flashed, close by and he was slightly surprised to see it so close. It struck ground and lit the area around him. During the brief time the forest was lit he scanned the darkness and saw what he had been fearing; wild wolves. The creatures had been following him for some time, he knew, the howls were close now, and the only way out of this was to fight them. Hearing the first wolf charge from behind, he turned to meet the attack.................
It came suddenly, and just as fast the staff struck it blind from the side as Chen whipped around and blocked the wolf's attack. Upon impact, the staff became momentarily lit, flashing once in the darkness. Frightened by the flash, the wolves stopped in their tracks, confused. They regained their courage, however, when the flash dissipated and they weren't hurt. They attacked again, and this time, without fear of the weapon's slashes, they jumped, clawed, and struck without mercy. Despite the odds of some 40 – 1, Chen fought fiercely and blocked every attack. Flash after flash indicated another had been downed each time, and soon it was close to a flash a second, reverberating through the forest like lightning. The wolves kept coming, leaping over their fallen comrades like they were nothing. The gods were urging the wolves on, to destroy this defiant youth, and their strength was increased with their blessing. Tiring, Chen fended off the attacks slower, and in such error he was hit several times in the arm of his weapon until he dropped it. They howled as one, and moved in to devour the outcast. They came within a few inches, just within striking range, and suddenly the rain just stopped. The forest was still full of the sound of rain but it was stopped over the warrior. Then, as fast as the rain had stopped, a typhoon appeared out of the air above them, collecting all the rain that fell in the area. It spun rapidly, coming down, like a tsunami on a hapless city it ripped through the ranks of wolves and threw them into the deep forest. As the great typhoon dissipated, a figure could be seen above the chaos by the light of his crystal blue blade, a warrior dressed in dark blue. Chen could only remember up to that point, because the world went black then, and he slipped into unconsciousness. All around him, the rain resumed is downpour, heavier and angrier than before, making even the ground a living river as at least an inch was above everything on the level ground. The lightning flashed again, and the warrior was gone.
Sunlight streamed down as Chen awoke, bruises giving him sharp pain as he sat up. He was sitting in a puddle of water that had, under his weight, produced mud and he was covered head to toe in it. He got up, looked about, and listened for any of the wolves. None were heard and he assumed they had become afraid. His items were gone, but his amulet was still with him. The same one that he had been given as a child was hanging around his neck to this day, and he thought how odd it was that it was so. Trying a step to see if he could walk, he stumbled and fell partway before catching himself. His leg was hurt but he could walk somewhat. He hobbled along thinking who the warrior had been and why he had helped him escape the wrath of the gods. Whoever he was knew something about him and didn't want to let him die. He was gone now so he must have other duties. The forest was thinning after about an hour or two of walking and he came to the edge twenty minutes later seeing farmland and a small town on a hill. Slowly he made his way up and around two he overheard some people speaking of a shrine as he was washing the mud off.
"They say that the shrine of light is cursed" said a pudgy man in a bar, which happened to have its windows open. "It's been giving off this black fog and it is patrolled by evil things. Just yesterday I tried going there to pray, and a group of wolves chased me away; I barely escaped with my life." He continued, "The creatures are not just wolves, but vultures and even the trees around the area seem possessed enough to make a maze of the area leading to it."
"I heard a god took it over as his headquarters" added another man. "The priest himself told me after visiting and trying to pray himself. Says the gods rejected his prayer and his very existence like a pharaoh can condemn a slave."
"Its terrible business however you look at it." Another joined them, and soon the whole bar was buzzing about this and that but always staying centered on the shrine.
Thinking to himself, he thought that it would not be wise to go there at the moment; he was discarded much like the priest was, and to walk into their hallowed house would be even more of a crime. He was trying to figure out what to do outside when he saw a piece of blue showing from a traveler's robe. Watching the man enter the bar he followed and saw that he joined another two people who were likewise hiding colored clothing under their various articles of clothing, and it seemed almost comical. The man with the small bit of blue sat and began talking to the others. Struck suddenly with the memory of the warrior above him last night, he tried to identify the man as the warrior but he was wrapped up so well it was impossible to tell. No way to find out until he asked. He walked up to the man, and doing only what he thought was right, addressed the man and spoke, "Um, sir, um, thanks for saving me yesterday. I hate to admit it but I wouldn't have survived without your help. If it's not too much to ask, why did you help me and who are you?"
The group was stunned at this stranger speaking to them, but the warrior remained as calm as he was before Chen arrived.
"In answer to your question, I saved you because I had been ordered to. My tribe leader had instructed me to head this way and assist the new mage who would be leaving, and I did my duty. That's it, kid. Move along."
Taken aback by the briefness of the response to his question, Chen went to leave. He thought the man would explain further, but he wasn't in the mood to deal with people. Being polite was what he had been taught, seeing the rude way the man answered him told him that the man was just like him; he preferred to be alone. Chen walked around town, picking up bits of conversation as he went by, but most of it was simple gossip and the only place that had information worth hearing was the bar. He had no intention of going back there however, because he didn't really want to deal with the warrior a second time. He went to the inn and fell asleep as soon as he hit the pillow.
Off in the bar, the group was getting ready to leave. Motioning that they leave individually, in case one of them is followed, the leader told the smaller of the two others to go first. As soon as she reached the door however, the group near the entrance grabbed her and dashed out the door. Once outside they put her onto a horse-drawn-wagon and sped off. The rest of the bar, for the most part, began fighting as more of the kidnappers' group caused a riot. They had at least twenty men working this job. Needless to say they were short work, but the wagon had gotten far towards the forest. The remaining bandits that could get up ran off leaving the duo to themselves.
Arriving at the inn, bloody and bruised from the brawl, the two warriors checked in and rested up. The next morning, they left their rooms only to walk right into Chen.
"Well if it ain't the white mage." Said the blue-clad warrior.
"You seem to be missing someone, or did she leave?" Chen asked.
"She was abducted and taken through the forest... we didn't have a chance to keep up." He responded.
"Well that's your problem, not mine. Best luck finding her, though." Chen said, walking away.
"Well that was rude..." said the one dressed in yellow at the blue warrior's side. "He didn't seem to care at all. Don't you agree Khan?"
"So it seems... we must begin, and we will see what fate throws at us. First we need a horse, can you do that Kwen?" Khan asked.
"Sure. No problem. The sooner we leave the better... I hate this town."
Later, after finding horses, Khan and Kwen left town to track the group who had kidnapped their third member. On the other side of town, Chen was leaving to find the holy temple which has been said to be cursed. He wanted to investigate this himself.
A shout, a cry, Grunts from Excited Orcs all around him. Hacking away at his opposition, Chen kept fighting, trying to find the source of the screams. They were close, but desperation filled him as he struggled against the army before him. Suddenly, the army overtook him, swarming him. A stab came at his head...
"Ahhh!!" Chen shouted, waking up from his nightmare. The birds above his head in the trees of the forest flew off, scared by his shout. He got up, feeling the cool of morning as he did so. It was still early, but he needed to get started again. He has been searching the forest for a day and a half now, and he hasn't had much luck so far in finding the temple he sought.
"I could be wandering these woods forever and not find the temple." He thought to himself, looking up to the canopy of the forest. "It's so peaceful here... how can there be such evil?" feeling a bit disappointed at not finding even a single clue, he began to wonder if those men at the bar were making up stories. Beginning to walk towards a small clearing, a single stone pillar of about 3 ft. height came into view above the grasses and weeds. Getting closer, he examined the runes indented into it.
Inscribed were these words: Kuetelye Meldo qwenya. (Quetelye meldo Quenya)
Somehow understanding it, he spoke the words required and after a great quaking of the earth a stairwell underground rose to allow passage. Wondering what it was and why it was here, he cautiously entered the darkness below...
The darkness was total, complete, and for the life of him Chen couldn't see his hand in front of his eyes. Rather than walk around blind in the cave, he lit his staff with a simple spell. He was in a long passage; the walls were ancient and marked with runes speaking of an age long past when the gods walked the earth like mortals. The age of peace, the age of old, before the war, before the great sleep of the gods. Continuing down the corridor, he found a room, overlooking it from the second floor it seemed, with a large fire in the center, circled by at least a dozen monks wearing black. Confused by this, he first put out the light if his staff, hid in the shadows, and watched them perform their rite. They were chanting in the same language as was on the stone outside and roughly translated was like this: "we of the darkness come forth; rekindle the old, mighty evil, the deity who should rule over all. To you, we give this sacrifice, to you, we offer this gift."
Coming from the other side of the fire, Chen could see this 'sacrifice' being carried, unconscious. It seemed to be a short female. Being higher had its advantages, such as surprise. He wasn't going to let whoever it was be burned for some deity, these monks were obviously out of their minds. Summoning the strength of light to him, as he must do when there is little to draw from, he charged his power. Feeling connected, in the very flow and fabric of magic, he unleashed a powerful blast of energy directed at the monks. Immediately they put up barriers, sensing the increased light power in their midst. They only half worked, however, and the magic of Chen's attack broke through, stunning them. Quickly he jumped down to the floor, and carried off the would-be-sacrifice. Needless to say it was like dead weight, and he was slowed down by the burden. Getting out was a priority now, and he activated a levitation spell to escape. Floating was much better than walking around, and he could bear the weight better. He floated to the corridor which he entered from, and saw a stone slab closing it from the side. In desperation he began moving faster and almost didn't get through. A piece of his robe was caught in the 'door' and he had to rip it off. It was a small piece of fabric at the base, and he didn't much care. His burden and staff went flying out of his hands as he was caught by the slab. They fell, unceremoniously, to the floor and his staff's clattering noise on the floor echoed along the whole length of the hallway. Darkness was around him again, and he couldn't see his staff or the person he just saved. They were both somewhere around, so he began trying to find them and accidentally tripped on his staff. Falling face-first to the floor and hitting his nose followed his fall, and he yelped in pain.
"OW!" getting up and grabbing his staff, he re-lit the end of it for a light source. This spell, unlike many others, did not require a channeling of light energy in order to activate.
Now that he could see, he looked around and found the girl. Carrying her again, he made for the exit.
"This was not what I planned on finding." He said to himself, knowing full well he only wanted to get to the temple as fast as possible. "What is this place, and why was I directed here?"
Finding the exit, he spoke the words he used for entrance and the stairwell reformed. He had taken a while, because it was a bit later than noon. Possibly 3, by the Sun's position. He knew that the monks would recover soon and come after him. Since he had not finished them off they might come sooner than he could handle. Walking away from the site, he activated the levitation spell on his burden so he would not have to carry her.
"What a day..." he said aloud.
Traversing the forest would tire anybody eventually, but fatigue hit Chen harder than most because of his burden. Despite the light weight brought about by his levitation spell, carrying the young girl was still tiresome on his connection to magic. This fatigue him like a hard workout would tire an athlete, and he faltered. His legs were becoming weaker; the stress was becoming very difficult to manage. He put his burden down and decided to make camp. Whoever the person he was with was, she wasn't in a talkative mood because of the state she was in. perhaps she would awaken later. Chen, glad to be freed of carrying his burden, had more energy to gather materials for the fire. He could use simple fire spells that would spark flame, and that would be enough to start a fire. He needed firewood though, and there was plenty of wood around. He had to find dead wood though. Beginning his search in the immediate area, he considered using magic to do the work for him and dry the wood. His mind told him otherwise, as his level of use was far beyond what it should be. He had reached his limits there. Spiraling out from the camp, he scoured the landscape and found some nice dry logs that had once been respectable trees. Fallen, uprooted, and dead, they served his purpose well. He dragged them back, and used his staff's retractable sharp point to cut them. While he did this he piled the finished pieces into a pile, and soon had enough to start a lasting fire. Striking the wood with his staff and speaking the simple spell caused the wood to catch with fire. It spread slowly, like any small fire just beginning, and soon was of respectable size.
Chen, startled by the noise, jumped up. He looked around and then noticed the girl again. She was moving slightly.
Chen said to himself "she must be coming to. Better get some water...." He went to his pack and got the water out, placing it near her in case she needed it. She slowly got up, looked around, saw Chen, and screamed.
"YOU! Who are you! What do you want!?" she shouted at him, quite confused.
"Calm yourself, if not for me, those monks would have burned you to their demon god." He told her. She was obviously out of it, and didn't know where she was or how she got there. She didn't know about the monk either, because she was unconscious during that whole charade. Her confused look confirmed this. Now Chen was worried that she thought he was the one who abducted her, and wanted to avoid such thought.
"What kind of mess am I in now...?"
After helping to get her out, fighting the monks, and then on top of that being confused with the abductors, Chen was feeling pretty lousy. Tired, he decided to take a snooze. The fire would burn itself out, so he didn't worry. It was set up well and wouldn't catch the forest on fire. What he was worried about was the girl attacking him while he was asleep. But it was a risk he had to take eventually, because he was tired and would need sleep now or very soon anyway. Might as well be now. He allowed himself to sleep, and as soon as he slipped into sleep's calm and quiet a shout was heard. This jolted him up; wide awake, ready for the attack that he thought was there. The shout came again, and from right next to him. Necrons, creatures long dead, were slowly advancing. Some were wolves, others birds, and some bears. Their undead nature gave them a higher level of strength and no fear whatsoever.
Chen leaned over to the girl and spoke,
"I hope you know how to fight."
Howls, snarls, and the like could be heard from the Necrons that surrounded his camp. Chen thought back to his previous battle with similar beasts, but then the temple had not corrupted the forests yet. These horrifying things scared the girl damn near fainting, but she somehow shook it off, knowing that if she fainted she would die. Chen gathered his spirit energy from the fire and the moon, since those were the largest sources of light nearby. They came in, before he could complete the transfer, and the girl moved to defend him from the attacks.
Chen's energy came from light, but since her's came from fire she manipulated the flames around her to form a barrier and to strike the Necrons. The burned, fell, and rose again for more. Only by destroying the joint connections could they stop these beasts/ just as a group found a weak point in the wall, Chen finished his charge-up. Now he would be able to unleash magic at will for a longer time than individual spells with separate charge-times. He unleashed barrage after barrage at the dark creatures, obliterating the dark spirits within them. Each blast found its mark, and they concentrated on their defense.
"So, a Fire sorcerer, huh?" Chen asked her. He kept blasting the demonic dead with the spirit of light, but they kept coming. He didn't worry about the girl's energy running out because she had the bonfire to draw power from, or rather, blast around. It became a weapon, following whatever commands she gave it with her mind.
"Figure that out on your own, didya?" She said sarcastically. Sensing an attack from the right, she sent a blast right to it and on the way there the fire roasted Chen a little.
"Hey, watch it," Chen said, not knowing whether it was intentional. Seeing the still Necron on the other side of him, he decided it wasn't directed at him.
Apparently she thought this was funny, and started giggling a little.
"Make a wall of flames around the campsite, and I'll strengthen it," Chen instructed. "It will keep them out and destroy them at the same time."
"Alright, it should work," she answered. "Here goes..." she redirected her energies from individual targets into making a new defense barrier around the whole area. Chen, drawing more energy, prepared to add to that power.
The wall she had created burned with a deep red-orange, and lit the landscape brightly. Such a blaze was never seen by Chen's eye's before.
"Its ready," She told him.
"Okay, this should work," he responded to her, not really knowing if it would. When energies of different elements mixed, it was often dangerous and could result in badly injuring or killing the people who attempted it. But, by the way they creatures kept coming; it looked like they had no choice.
Chen lashed out with his recharged powers, making the elemental barrier larger and brighter. The flames now shone almost white, but retained some of the deep red it originally had. Slowly they expanded their inferno barrier, and the Necrons' souls regained some control as they as a group felt fear for total destruction. The wall was impenetrable, but worse, it was coming towards them rapidly. Some still had no fear though, and charged to their demise. The rest fled, although it was futile. The expanding inferno of fire and light engulfed the fleeing Necrons like a stampede of oxen crushes a group of scared wild dogs. The entire area was bright as day in the dome of light and fire, everything in the area was lit like high noon.
The magics of the two became one great flare, and it expanded with even greater force and speed. It kept going until it had totally destroyed the entire army of Necrons. Once it did, the magic dissolved and they were again surrounded by darkness, with the exception of the bonfire. Suddenly, the girl collapsed, Chen had hardly enough time to catch her. Feeling weak himself, he put her down on her blanket. On the way back to his, he looked at the girl. He knew she was familiar somehow. The deep red hair told him that he had seen her before. He couldn't understand, so he decided to just forget it. Perhaps this time he would actually get some sleep.
The light of some magic force in the middle of the night was enough to wake even this warrior, who often slept through everything else. An earthquake, a flood, or maybe even a mountain on the head wouldn't wake him, but a surge of light was all it took. Its funny in a way, he can be a light or heavy sleeper depending on the factor involved.
He moved cautiously through the strange landscape. Not wanting to touch anything, lest he destroy it or himself. He knew nothing of such magics, and because of that he feared the strange surroundings.
"So, we finally arrive." Kwan said to him.
His partner, who had been also awoken by the sudden blast of light, had been beside him for some time now. She hadn't even fallen behind when he had been moving at full pace. Certainly fast, she was. That's what comes from being a mage of the electric element. Pure speed. He looked to her, and now that the cloak's hood was down, her hair was able to be seen, it was a bright blonde that was loose and straight. She always kept it short so it wouldn't interfere with combat. It came to shoulder length at the front and was much shorter at the back. Her purple eyes made her an oddity among her tribe, but added to her beauty nonetheless.
"Yes, but this place seems wrecked. What powerful magic could do this?" he spoke, for the first time this morning. They had seen flashes of fire within the great maelstrom of energy and decided that their lost comrade was there. After all, she was the only fire mage they knew of in the local kingdom. They continued on towards what they thought was the very center, and found the remains of a fire. Also, there were two people sleeping on blankets. One of them was their friend. The other was that white mage, Chen, whom he had helped earlier. He didn't know what was going on, so he wanted answers.
"Go wake her up, I'm gonna see if this guy can explain anything." He said to Kwen. With that, he proceeded to kick Chen repeatedly, "Wakey, Wakey! Time for you to talk, fella," he almost yelled at the kid.
"Wha???" Chen said groggily, he was still tired. He sat up, and found himself being stared at by the large blue-clad warrior who was almost directly over him. "Waaa!" he exclaimed, surprised to see him again, and also confused.
"What, you stupid or something? Come on, talk!" he said to Chen. Chen was getting up now, and had this really confused expression on his face. He didn't know what he was supposed to talk about. Instead of answering, he turned to the girl who was slowly waking up from Kwen's electro wake-up alarm. Chen started towards her to try and stop her from shocking the girl, but the man in blue got in the way.
"Where you think you're goin, mister? I don't know what happened here, and I want an explanation!" he certainly wasn't very happy, he must have been awake all night after the fight lit up the forest. Chen wasn't going to like this encounter...
The lightning master, Kwen, was quietly talking to the young female sorcerer of fire at one side of the campsite, and Khan was at the other trying to interrogate Chen as to what had happened... Chen, who had just received a rude awakening, was slowly retelling the tale of how he had come to the forest and how he and the girl had fought off the demonic beasts. Khan listened intently, but obviously displeased at seeing the rude Mage from before. He wanted nothing more than to kick the kid several times in the gut, but he refrained because he knew the kid only meant well. Khan didn't take the part about the monks too lightly, and had Chen and Kwen not stopped him, he would have gone in there after them. Eventually Chen ended his tale, and Kwen stood off to the side with the girl who had fully awoken and was now eating some food that Khan and Kwen had brought along.
"So you're sure you're ok, Chara?" Kwen asked of her. Nobody had said her name as of yet so Chen had been clueless, and he stored the new information in his head with every other mental note he makes.
"Quite sure, although I could use some water...is there any here?" Chara inquired of the group in general.
"I had some, although If its still here after that blaze I've not a clue..." Chen said, stating their current condition.
"Yeah we need some water, so first priority is to find a stream." Kwen said, more of a command than a suggestion, and nobody seemed bothered by the idea of finding water. For a few seconds Khan thought about using his magic to make water, but he realized it would probably end up making them all drown in a tsunami rather than fill a cup with cold water. Yes, finding a stream would be wise compared to that. They started moving off in the direction that Khan and Kwen has arrived from, because every other sense of direction was lost in the chaotic wasteland before them.
The Group came at last to an area untouched by the blaze, and since they had gotten lost, they had been wandering aimlessly. This change of scenery was a relief after all the white char across the flat vegetation. They found themselves surrounded by ruins, and as they explored the found that the structure was still for the most part intact. The blaze had gone right around this place, and this was shown by the fact that the landscape around it on all sides was still as burnt as the area they had left. They needed shelter, for night was coming on quickly. Shadows grew longer, and everyone became tired. Chen suspected something was amiss, so he ventured into the structure to find the source of his worries.
"Hey! Kid! Get back here, don't be sneakin' off!" Khan rather ordered more than instructed of Chen. Chen turned about, faced him, then spun on his heel and ran inside. Khan followed, and, because there was nothing to do outside, the other two went as well.
"When I catch that kid..." Khan was muttering to himself. He was obviously upset about losing the mage under his care, but didn't wish for failure either. He saw that the interior of the temple was all a mess of rooms and chambers, but he had no idea into which the white mage had hidden. Was this a game, or some kind of trick? Khan had no idea, nor did he have any patience. He picked a doorway to his left and ran through, his blue robe catching on a vine. After pulling it free and cursing the kid, he continued. He found himself in a small banquet hall of sorts, or perhaps a sacrificial chamber. All he saw was a long table with lots of dust, no explanation, and no Chen. He left that room and looked around again, coughing on the dust that he had disturbed.
"Kwen! Chara! Get in here, and find him!" he shouted, now rather irritated about the whole affair. The two, who had already entered, told him so and began to search for Chen themselves. They each took a different room, with Chara going up, Kwen right and Khan down.
It was an ironic thing, Khan descending while his temper rose. He went down into the depths of the temple, still seeing nothing. Finally, some light occasionally filtered through holes above or a lantern's flame would shine onto the passage from a wall. His suspicions rose, as he found no persons who would keep these lights active or fueled, and he had to decide that it was magic that sustained them. Once he realized that, he also began thinking about the source of that magic, and the fact that the whole structure might be tied to it.
"Damn, that kid doesn't know what he's getting into..." he continued muttering as he plodded on.
"This stair goes on for-ever!" Chara commented as her incline and path never once deviated from one another for a moment, she was on a perfectly cut stairwell that would continue for some time if there were no limits on such things. Eventually it did end, for the stairs had to by definition, being an object in a finite world. The hallway was clear, as if traveled frequently, or else some spell was upon it to maintain the condition...
Kwen was having trouble deciding which way to go, for she had come across a fork in the path. How this was possible in a ruin she had no idea, but then, snapping out of her boredom and gazing about, it didn't look so much like a ruin anymore, but rather more of a well kept castle. She was currently in a darker corridor with minimal torchlight but it was enough to let her see everything around her. The path she came on ended perpendicular to the one she had come to, and she couldn't decide which to pick. She eventually chose the left. This path had somewhat brighter lights, and for this she was grateful. She continued on, glad that she had picked a more pleasant path.
"Damn, another dead end. I've been in here for hours, and I see no exit or anything! This stupid temple must have some deity or being to sustain it, and so I must find it. But how am I to do so when I can't find the right path? He said aloud to himself. He didn't even think that others might be listening, because he hadn't encountered anyone so far at all. But a pair of greenish eyes glowed softly from the ceiling, and when he moved they followed. He didn't sense anything, for he hadn't been trained for any sort of creature. That if it was a creature at all, and not a whim of the being who watched over this place. For gods can do that, create a temporary 'creature' of sorts to do their will and then have it go as easily as it came. Chen continued his pursuit of the elusive being, wherever it might be, and was again being unknowingly tailed.
The stalking creature stopped, and clapped its hands together. This small being was king of the labyrinth, and he had complete control over the entire place. He could shift paths, magically alter rooms, their locations, and destinations. He loved toying with the young mage, and continued to do so. He followed again and moved a door away from him just before he would have seen it, placing it back at the end of the hallway where he had just been. He continues on unfaltered, not even noticing that there should have been a door there, for the labyrinth king had moved it aside the first time also. Chen did slow down though, because he should have passed a side corridor before he reached the stairs. He saw no such thing, and began to become suspicious.
"So the place can change of its own accord, huh? Well that's rotten luck." He said, again to himself. The creature tailing him stopped, fearing that Chen had at last figured out some of its magic. In its surprise it gave a short gasp, and that almost gave it away. He slid back, into the shadows and closed his glowing eyes. Chen heard it, came around, and used a light spell to banish the shadows concealing the creature. It yelped in pain, for the bright light hurt its eyes badly.
"Aha! So this is the thing which has been changing the paths. Tell me, how do I find the being that sustains this place? Tell before I make you like the surrounding landscape!" he yelled, obviously intimidating the poor thing. He began to charge an attack blast for emphasis just to show he meant what he said.
Then, a raspy voice from the creature "You, pitiful mortal, so despised by the gods, made demands of their very own? I should be the one who is blasting around here, although I'm in quite a pickle. Alright, but know it is not because I agreed to help you, but because I rather dislike that light."
"So tell me now!" Chen practically shouted at it, and it shrunk back.
"As you wish sir..." He opened a path in the wall, right then and there, like it had always been there but for some covering blocking it from view.
"Well I'll be damned... He had them all hidden the whole time!" he bounded in, being sure to grab the little beast from the wall as he went. It moaned at being paraded around by the neck, but it had hardly any say in the matter. Now that he had given his word to help, there wasn't anything much that it could do to escape, for gods and their likenesses are obliged to fulfill their promises, so state the rules set forth before time began.
The pair came to a dead end, and Chen shook the creature to get it to work its magic. It did obediently, although it was becoming less cooperative as they went along. He didn't like going this way it seemed, perhaps because of what was at its end, or because of the fact that Chen was choking it, Chen couldn't be sure. It brought forth that door from before, which he had moved, and Chen went through it. Chen decided to instead pull it along by the arm, and it ran next to him at about a fifth his height. It wasn't equipped for such, but it had to make do.
The hall they were in now was much wider and taller, so it was slightly less stuffy and Chen had more room to move.
"Ah, at last! The Grand Chamber of Isuoru!" the creature proclaimed as they exited that room into a huge hall with pillared sides.
"So, Isuoru is Deity here?" Chen asked, and by the shocked expression on the creature's face and how its hands were clasped over its mouth, Chen had to conclude that he had been right. He began to explore the chamber, and the little thing at his side was trying to get away. He slapped it, and demanded to know why it was acting such.
"Master, my power ends soon as I enter this room! I must exit immediately or be destroyed; like I'm sure he will do you!"
"If this is true then you cannot do anything to me if I let go?"
"Master, have I not been obedient and loyal to your commands? Please, let me be at peace." It begged of him.
"On one condition. Bring my friends here also." He said, again charging his attack spell to show he meant it.
The creature wasn't stupid enough to say no, and bounded off with "I shall return shortly with them in tow! Watch, they shall come." And to this he replied
"He'd better, or its his demonic ass that's gonna fry."
"Do not speak of my servant that way, young one who we so despise! I should smash you now where you stand, for you are unworthy of my chamber and my patience. Fool that he was to bring you here he is still my servant, and I shall hear nothing from you concerning him." Came a booming voice from what seemed the room itself.
"So that thing was a male... ill have to kick it where it hurts when it gets back for this...but then again these things are one-and-done, and probably wont have anything to kick..." he thought to himself. He looked about but could see no deity of which he was in presence, and wondered how he could hear what wasn't there. Presently he looked up and saw just over his head a floating thing, riding upside down on a cloud. It was the same creature from before.
"Hi again, so you aren't just a servant but the thing itself. Couldn't stand the way I treated you so you had to try and freak me out again, huh? Well congrats, but ill have to blast you now."
"Heh heh heh... was all Chen heard, and it seemed to be resonating in his own head. "This creature is in my head! It's using telepathy!" he thought. He looked back at it, and asked if it had made good on its promise. It had, as agreed, but now that it was free again it would use all of the power it had to destroy Chen. A darkness came about from the creature itself, like it was emitting the energy from its very pores. Chen backed up, disgusted, but not before he was half tackled by Khan. He had been searching for hours to find this kid, and now that he had he would make him pay for running off. As it were he was tired, hungry, and thirsty. His anger and impatience added to that to make him quite powerful when challenged, for he was on the edge. He was on the verge of doing the creature's work for it, as he would have gladly had he not realized that he would be doing it a favor and himself a serious disservice. So he redirected his anger to the god-being that had pretended to be only the labyrinth king, and struck it with a full-pressure geyser blast from his palms. The scalding hot water sent it flying, and it landed with a thud on its head. The others came into the room then, they had been afraid to enter before. But upon hearing battle had decided that they should help. Chara ran to Chen, and Kwen went to assist in destroying the creature. She sent an electric blast into it, and this must have made the pain excruciating if gods could feel it. But through this it got up, glared, and unleashed a wave of darkness back at the duo that had attacked it. They flew back, hit the wall with a smack, and fell to the ground. Chara, who had been attending to Chen, had since left to heal the fallen two. Chen got up, charged a blast in his staff, and made a swift arc before him and towards his foe. A bright flash and a ripple of light went out to slash into his adversary. A wound was evident, as it was bleeding some ooze from its interior, and fell backwards like a rag doll. It had a deep gash almost through its torso which was quite serious indeed.
The god-creature sat there, dazed, and suddenly a small magic flash went off, and a shattering sound could be heard as a ring around its head came into view and snapped. It was then that it gasped and spoke once more;
"The darkness... lifted. You may... proceed... blessing..."
"What? Explain yourself! Or else get back up and fight, unless I've broken your powers, in which case I will go on to finish you." He smiled; he was enjoying this fight too much. He looked over at the god-creature; it wasn't emitting any dark energy anymore, but rather sat there with a sad look on its face. Chen walked over to his fallen foe, and could see a faint while aura about it.
"My child, you have shown great courage and power against great evil and pain. Your friends, beaten and bashed. Most would run if they saw that. But you stayed and your dedication to them was your strength. That was how you freed me. Go on with my blessing, I wish you well on your journey."
"What's all this nice talk? I beat you and you start acting nice? What gives?" it seemed that Chen wasn't very learned in powerful magic as he thought, and had no idea what had just happened. The god-creature, sensing this, (for he was telepathic) answered his question.
"Chen, you have set me free from the spell of the Bird-God, who has enslaved all the lower gods under his name and flag. He made us all his servants and slaves, and we were forced to obey his will. He came upon such powers as to force his will upon us when he obtained the holy six; The Tablets of Destiny. These gave the user infinite power, be he/she mortal or god. He took them, but in a rage, for he used them for revenge on the people who had neglected worship. He had crushed them, burned their lands, and destroyed their cities. That was the great age of darkness. His rage and fury was such that it nearly destroyed Heaven, and it became an extension of Hell. Demons crossed as if it were nothing, angels wept, and the very foundations of the world in general were torn to shreds. Now he rules over all as a supreme being, and unless one comes to free us as you have we would be stuck like we were forever." The creature told to Chen. The others had been listening intently to the conversation, and had been staring. Chen took no notice.
"Well, that's all very interesting. But we need to get out of here, and you're wounded. Also, my friends need help, so in afraid we still need each other. I will agree to help heal you if you can get us out of here." Chen replied. He did need to get out, he had been stuck in here for far too long and had, since that great blaze, no food to speak of. In fact they all needed to get out, and the creature was more than glad to assist. Chen picked it up, and it made a portal to just inside the temple entrance. That was as far as it had ever been in regards to the outside world, so that was as far as he could take them.
"Mortals! Get close, we are going to go through this to the entrance, which will soon collapse after we are out, for this place was sustained by dark magic that is no longer active. We will need to run for it!" he shouted to them, which obviously pained it greatly. It was in no condition to be shouting, but he had no choice if he was to be heard over the rumblings that were beginning to occur throughout the interior of the structure.
They all ran through; Chen carrying the creature, and once outside they all dove for the grass to avoid falling debris. The creature wasn't in any good shape at all, still oozing whatever passed for bodily fluid in its body. Chen immediately sought to heal it, as promised, and he soon saw his magic working. He had been unsure if it would, he had never healed an immortal before. Chara came to assist, being of fire element she could make it feel more comfortable like one would at a campfire at night. Its wound healed completely, and it was quite the bit shocked. It stood, checked itself, and looked at the two healers who had saved it from certain torture for long years as the would heal normally. It wouldn't have killed him, he is immortal. But he would go on feeling the pain for decades to come. This healing alleviated that trouble and he was quite grateful. So grateful in fact that he decided to do something he never would have thought about in his life, and that was to join them and assist in destroying the evil Bird-God.
"YOU WANNA DO WHAT?!" Chen asked, backing up; he was very confused and struck by this sudden request. Now that they were in plain moonlight (It had grown quite late while they were inside) they could see him clearly and could actually focus their sights on him for the first time. They saw him to be fearsome, a dark creature with long claws and special feet for climbing, as well as a thin body and lithe limbs. He was meant for speed in the darkness, the interior of caves. He looked quite out of place, and it sounded strange to hear something like that asking to leave its own den. But, Chen had to admit, it did owe them, and its home was destroyed, so he agreed.
"Oh, joyous is this day, for now I may openly oppose the demon who has cast us all like this! I wish swift justice upon his Devilish soul!"
"Hey, Chen! You got any food?" Khan asked him, for they clearly didn't have any either themselves.
"Umm... no food here... he said, although he felt they were half joking. Yes, they did need food, but he saw that they were smiling about their new companion. "Might you have some food about you, little one?" Chen asked of it.
"Not a scrap, and please call me Isuoru. I am sick of this little one label that you find so amusing. Please, I am an immortal and deserve the proper respect."
Chen and the others could hardly keep from laughing, being told around by a being not even half their size. This lasted for some time; because they simply couldn't resist a good laugh after all that. Of course it got rather cross with them but there wasn't much it could do. After it had agreed to help them there wasn't a scrap of good it could do for itself against them, so it just decided to get some sleep. The rest knew the logic and wisdom in this; and as such followed suit.
The sun filtered down upon the party in a lazy way; the trees still blocked most of the morning light. As Chen awoke he saw something bent over the fire, but because its back was to him and his vision still blurred from sleep, he couldn't tell what it was. His first reaction was panic, and he leapt up from his sleeping area only to get caught in the blanket and trip face-first onto the ground, yelping as he did so. The noise got everyone's attention, and they all laughed seeing Chen upside down and still tangled in the blanket. Isuoru turned from working on breakfast to see what was going on, and not at first understanding, asked if this was normal human behavior. Everyone had a good roar over this, everyone except Chen, who was quite embarrassed by now. He rolled over, extracted himself from the blanket, and stood up. His face was still a deep red as he walked over to the fire for breakfast.
"Mighty good thing you did for us, Kiddo." Khan joked with Chen, the party hadn't had any laughs or fun for quite some time. As Chen thought about this, he realized that they weren't likely to forget this anytime soon.
Later that day, they all packed up to leave camp. Isuoru had more tricks up his sleeve than they knew; as they slung their packs on their backs everyone noticed their burdens become almost weightless. He then jumped onto Kwen's back, now in a smaller size himself, and they moved out.
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