A Night of Fire

Story written for the Runescape Write Your Adventure Contest. The story is told in first person by a man named Kaleb. It recounts various memories of his past, and how they are just fragments. Each one showing only a sliver of his history. A History that he had forgotten. Each memory Kaleb retells is just one more step in the path he took to find out the truth about his past.

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1. A Night of Fire

 

My name is Kaleb, and I was born on the once prosperous island of Crandor.  I do not remember anything of my father.  I was only able to piece together, a small part of his past, from the journals mother kept for so long.  I believe he once served as an adventurer in the Champions Guild; however that was long ago.  When I questioned her on it, Mother would always tell me that ‘father died trying to protect us all.’  As a young and naive child, I did not question or think twice about my dear mother’s words.  She was all I had.  And her words and stories meant everything to me.  Only recently, did I call those tender words into question.  Some would say the past was best left undisturbed, but I had to know.  I had to know the truth about what happened that day, all those years ago. 

                I searched for the past three years to uncover the missing parts of my past.  I try so hard to recall my memories, but there is a haze.  I cannot remember anything from the time I was eight until the time I was fifteen.  That is seven years of my life gone.  Seven years that I could never explain.  I only have a handful of memories of my youth.  One of my favorite memories was of chasing my dear childhood friend Amata, through the crowded market streets of the inland cove.  The two of us spent countless hours dodging past traders from the most diverse of lands.  There were Jogers and tribesmen from Karamja, barbarians from the Fremennik Lands, and even nobles and traders from the other grand kingdoms of men.  A little mischief never hurt anyone, except for maybe ol’ Melzar. 

                Melzar, I do not know why his name creates a fire inside my chest.  Every time I hear it, the same reaction occurs.  To make matters worse, his name keeps coming up in my father’s journal fragments.  He must have played some part in this tale.  But alas, for all of these years I was unable to figure out exactly which role he played.  I will need to research his part in this more at another time.  As I mentioned previously, I have only a select number of memories before the age of eight.  The first thing I can remember after this haze in my memory would be of my mother.  I know now that the year in question for this memory would be the 146th year of the Fifth Age of Gielinor.  It all started in a dark room.  On the far wall, I could see the faintest glimmer of light making its way through cracks in the wall.  I could only presume it was a door or a crude window.  The entire space was cramped and crowded.  It did not take me long to figure out that there were others piled in this dark space, along with my mother and me.  Despite this fact, I could not recognize any one of them.  I could see nearly nothing of them in the dark and cramped space.  However, I could tell that they all were scared and fearful of what was lurking beyond our sight.    

                I could only see the faintest outline of my mother.  She was standing in front of me, shielding me from whatever was hunting us down.  I remember the door to our little dark room being busted open.  Soldiers bearing a silver and golden sigil stormed into the room.  “You are all under arrest in the name of his majesty, King Roald Remanis II.”  The words still ring out in my head.  Despite the guard that spoke, it was the man in the middle of the soldiers that caught my attention.  He just stood there silently, as if he were carefully watching the fearful rats he had cornered.  The man to his left continued to speak of charges and decrees, while I studied the middle guard.  I cannot remember much of his physical appearance.  I remember his snow white hair, which was slicked back into what resembled spikes.  He wore armor just like the rest of the soldiers around him.  But he did not carry a shield or helmet as they did.  Regardless of the events in the room, I could not get my mind off of this middle guardsman.  I think the feature that held my attention the longest was his face.  There was definitely something familiar about it. 

Before I knew what happened, there was a mass panic; the fearful people that had huddled so tightly had all sprung to life.  They climbed over each other; all in futile attempts to flee the scene.  Despite the efforts of the crowd, there was nowhere to run.  One by one the soldiers bearing the gold and silver sigil rounded up each and every one of us.  I remember the dreary and drizzling sky as they led us into the crumbling alleyway.  The men, women, and children that had been hiding with us appeared to be no more than petty beggars and thieves.  They appeared to have not eaten or bathed in weeks.  It was obvious that life had been cruel to them.  The guards did not take long dividing us into groups.  One of the groups was led out of the alleyway, along the northern path, by two of the soldiers.  Two additional soldiers took a second group south.  I was left standing in the rainy alleyway with him.  The man from inside the shack; the man that had so keenly caught my attention. 

“It is your lucky day.”  He called to the crowd that was now gathered in the light rain.  The mere expression on the man’s harsh face upset my stomach.  “You all will be given a choice.  Subject yourself to conscription.  Or face the fate of a spy.”  His words seemed to strike fear throughout the crowd, except for me.  I did not know what the man was talking about, for I was not a spy.  I hardly knew where I was, but alas, I was here.  With these filthy beggars that the guards of Varrock thought were spies and traders to the Kingdom of Misthalin!  The soldiers lined us up, all ten of us.  The guards asked each of us individually which fate we chose.  The first five men remained silent.  Each were refusing to talk out of pride or fear.  They were soon led away along the northern path.   I never saw any of them again.  The man to my left chose conscription.  He appeared hesitant to say the words, but once he did, the guard pushed the poor man to his knees and told him to pray.  Then it came my turn.  I froze as they asked me the same question.  I found myself unable to choose.  I did not do the crime, and I certainly did not want to die for a mistake.  So I took the only other option I thought possible.  “Conscription.”  I spoke feebly after a few moments of silence.  The guard smirked as he forced me to my knees as well.  Repeating the same phrase.  “Pray, while you can.”

By the time they were done, two men, a woman, in addition to myself were left kneeling upon the now damp ground.  I quickly noted that my mother had been taken away at some point during the raid.  I did not have long to fear about it, for the impending danger to myself was far greater than my ability to worry.  The man, the guardsman that caught my eye back in the room spoke now.  “Listen now, and listen well.  May Saradomin take mercy on you all.  For you all have strayed from his light and grace.  You all have turned your back on him.  You all have turned to the path of Zamorak.  But what I offer now is the chance at redemption.  Fear not, for we are all Saradomin’s children.  He will not forsake you for your sins and transgressions.   Repent your wrongs and bask once more in his glory.”  I do not know why his speech has burned itself into my mind as well as it has.  But I remember every word as crisp as if they were being spoken now.  As the male guardsman finished; he looked into my eyes. 

The man continued to speak, but the words are lost to me now.  I remember it was an oath he forced us to take, while we knelt on the now muddy ground.  The last phrase stuck with me however.  “And serve your fell man.  For we are all Saradomin’s children.  We must all stand together.  United against those who would see us fall.  We must stand united against the enemies of our nation, and our God.”  Maybe this line stood out to me because of its truth.  Maybe because I could agree with it.  I do not know the exact reason why those lines were the only part of his oath that I remembered.  After he finished, he smiled wide and spoke coyly.  “My name is Drew Azure.  But you may call me master.”  I do not know if it was out of respect or disgust that this line stuck with me.  But it made an impression on me for the shear fact he had the nerve to say it. 

    These fragments of memories do not seem to relate, and I apologize for that in advance.  But I promise that these fragmented memories do tie together in the end.    It is always important to know all the players before a game can truly begin.  I spent the next twenty years in service to Sir Drew Azure of Varrock.  He was not as harsh a man as he appeared that fist day.  It turns out that Sir Drew Azure was eldest son of a wealthy trading family, which had lived in Varrock for many generations.  Despite the family calling, he thought he could better serve his kingdom by organizing a group of knights bound to protect Varrock and all of Misthalin.  I quickly rose through the ranks of his order.  It did not take long before I was one of his most trusted advisors.  I knew every noble and every merchant in Varrock.  There were a number of times I had an audience with the new King Roald Remanis III.  Who succeeded his father on the day of his death, in the 150th year of the Fifth Age.  Yet, despite the prestige and fame I had acquired during my service to Sir Drew Azure, it did not bring me answers.  I was still no closer to solving what had happened during the missing seven years of my life. 

Some people would have moved on.  Twenty years had passed since the gap in my memory occurred.  Most people would be happy to settle for the life I have lived for the past twenty years.  However, I cannot find peace in it.  The desire to know the truth of what happened still smolders deep inside me.  I have to know how I went from a playful youth chasing my friend Amata through the markets of Crandor, to cowering in that dark, crowded shack in Varrock’s slums.  I feel it is an important piece to my history and my future.  It feels like I have simply spent the last twenty years running from the mystery.  My time of running ends now.  I asked Drew on a number of occasions: What had happened that day he joined his service?  I asked him why he raided that shack?  What the men and women there were guilty of?  But Drew would only say that they were spies for other nations and thieves.  ‘The worst kind of trash.’  These statements were always prefaced by the fact that he sensed I didn’t belong there.  I do not know if I believed him or not when he told me that.  I guess it does not matter.  For it really did not generate any more answers.  Only more questions.  I am tired of getting only questions.  It is time I seek answers.

I gave my resignation to Sir Drew Azure.  He begged me not to go.  When I refused, he offered to accompany me.  When I still refused, he offered me his best men.  Again I refused, and he told me to speak to the Guild Master of the Champion’s Guild.  It was a place I had not heard of since the stories my mother told me of my father.  But for the first time, I had a lead on what happened.  It finally gave me some direction on where to go and how to unravel the mystery.  The Guild Master welcomed me into the hall late that fateful evening in 166.  There were surprisingly few champions in the hall, as I walked to the Guild Master’s study on the third floor.  The Guild Master pulled the ladder down as we neared the far wall of the second floor.  He quickly returned it to its original position after we ascended to his quaint study.  “Kaleb wasn’t it?  Drew said you would be stopping by.  Said you wanted to know about Crandor and your father?”  The Guild Master spoke bluntly – fully confident that the serenity of his study was safe grounds to talk openly.   I was shocked.  Not only for the first time did someone openly acknowledge the Island of Crandor, they also seemed to know something about my father. 

“I do not know the details about what happened to you Kaleb.  I can only tell you the basic description of what happened to Crandor.”  The Guild Master looked remorseful because of his inability to aid me further.  I was just glad to gain any information I could.  “In the year 139 of the Fifth Age, Crandor was burned to ash.   All that was not made of stone was incinerated.  Buildings, streets, goods, people, animals: everything.  All that is left is the charred and darkened earth of the volcanic island.  All caused by the dragon Elvarg.  The dragon that laid dormant inside the Crandor Volcano for years.”  I did not like where the story the Guild Master knew was going.  Many of the details, or at least the broken pieces of the story, I had heard before.  “Your father was the solution to the council’s problem.  The councilors of Crandor feared Elvarg would awaken and lay waste to their homeland.”  “Your homeland.”  The Guild Master continued after a few moments of silence.  “Before she could awaken and destroy the island, the elder’s sent your father into the depths of the caverns beneath Crandor to slay Elvarg once and for all!”  Regardless of his enthusiasm, the Guild Master’s face was remorseful.  “However, the councilors could not have the foresight to see their folly.” 

“Your Father was a great Champion Kaleb.  But in the end, Elvarg was too strong for him.  Your father went blow for blow with the Dragon.  But in the end, Elvarg won the battle.”  The words pierced right through me.  I could not believe that my father had been sent to his death against the dragon that in turn destroyed the rest of my homeland.  I never knew my father, but at least now I know that he died trying to save us all.  My mother had been right all those years ago.  It only took twenty years for me to be able to truly understand just what sacrifices he made.  “There is more.”  The Guild Master spoke softly as he continued to look at me.  I do not know how much more I can take.  “From there, I presume you can figure out that the dragon left the caves and unleashed havoc upon Crandor?  Do not blame your father for the destruction of your homeland, Kaleb.  Had he not done what he did, Elvarg might not have awoken and burned Crandor on that fateful day.  However, she would have awakened eventually.  It was only thanks to the wounds your father inflicted on her that her wrath was limited to Crandor.  He did not bring this fate upon your homeland; he simply brought the inevitable fate upon your homeland sooner.  By doing so, he saved the rest of Gielinor from the dragon’s wrath.”  The Guild Master sighed as he leaned back in his chair opposite of the wooden desk in the attic study. 

“What about the survivors of Crandor!  I heard rumors from traders passing through Varrock, that survivors of Crandor were murdered by a dragon!”  This was a rumor I had only heard once or twice.  Most people denied that anyone escaped the island alive.  But since the Guild Master seemed to know more about the situation than anyone else, I figured he would be my best bet to answer this part of the question.  “Yes, some survivors escaped Crandor aboard fishing vessels and headed to the coast of Rimmington.  There they set up camps, and hoped to stay until they could rebuild or move elsewhere.  However, Elvarg’s fury was not through.  Despite her wounds, the dragon made the journey to attack the survivors on the mainland of Gielinor.  From this attack, only three supposedly lived.”  The Guild Master paused as he attempted to recall the names.    I just shook my head in horror, unsure of what to make of the recent information I had received.   

 “I never said you would like the answers you got, young Kaleb.  You came here seeking the truth.  Sometimes those around us do not tell us everything, because they are trying to protect us from the truth.  But I have walked in your shoes.  I know what it is like to not know about your past.  So I understand your desire to learn the truth.  That is why I agreed to tell you the fate of Crandor.”  The Guild Master noticed my sinking mood and decided to add some opinions of his opinions.  They only improved my outlook slightly.  Although, I knew what he said was true and honest;  it did not make it any easier to accept.  The champion cleared his throat as he read the three names of the survivors.  Each name struck emotion within me.  The first was “Lozar.”  I do not have any memories of this person, but I feel a longing to help and be courteous of them.  I pushed the thoughts out of my head just in time to hear the second name.  “Melzar.”  Of course his name would come up again.  As it did, so did the fire and hatred deep inside me.  That will be yet another mystery for me to unravel.  Why do these names strike these emotions within me?  The last name he called out was “Thalzar.” 

As the last name rolled off his lips, my eyes shot open wide.  It was as if a memory flooded my mind.  A memory that had been locked away and hidden, all of these years.  A man’s figure was the first thing to enter my mind.  His form was blurry at first but quickly came into view.  He had long black hair that was slicked back into spikes just like Drew’s.  The next thing to come into focus was his long beard.  Then the body of the man became clear to me.  He wore a long robe of flaxen color.  How could this figure go from being unknown to becoming real as day?  All with just the simple mentioning of his name?  “Did that last one strike a chord?”  The Guild Master asked curiously – looking deeply at me.  I simply nodded and he smiled.  “I would imagine so.  Drew had passed along that you lost a lot of your early memories.  In fact, he told me once that your memories seem to start the day he conscripted you.”  I reluctantly nodded in agreement with the Guild Master.  He was quickly beginning to scare me with his insights and knowledge.  “How do you know all of this?  How did you know the name Thalzar would strike a chord in me?”  I asked bluntly, tired of questions without answers.  “That is simple; he is your uncle after all.”  My eyes shot open.  Once again, I found myself jumping out of my seat without intending to. 

“How many more secrets have been kept from me!?”  I screamed at the Guild Master.  I had spent the past twenty years in mystery and confusion.  How could I have known that the answers I sought where lying just outside the walls of Varrock this whole time!  “You came here tonight seeking answers.  So I am telling you what I know.  Had you come to me sooner I might not have had them.  I did not keep these secrets from you because I wanted to.  Some things are best left buried in the past Kaleb.”  The Guild Master looked harsh now.  I took a step back as I saw the displeasure in his eyes.  I shook my head, as I put my feelings aside.  Even though it suddenly felt everyone I knew and trusted was hiding my past from me, I know it is not the case.  The Guild Master only knows a few details about what happened, but nothing that had to do with me.  Some things are best left buried, like he said.  So I asked him one final question.  “Where is Thalzar now?”  The question caught the Guild Master off guard, but he smiled faintly before responding.  “He went to live with the Dwarves on Ice Mountain.  Last I heard he was keeping a tent on the peak.  Perhaps he is still there.”  With some parting words, I left the Guild of Champions and headed west to the Mountain of Ice. 

So my quest took me past the western edges of Misthalin, and into the lands of Asgarnia.  The peaks of Ice Mountain sloped quickly upwards towards the azure sky.  It took time, but I eventually reached the peak.  To my surprise, I was greeted by a rather unwelcoming figure.  He wore a long white cloak to protect himself against the cold and wind.  In the man’s right hand was a staff of fire, ready to strike.  In his left hand he held what appeared to be a white prayer tome.  I begged the man to not turn me into a pile of ashes, here on the snowy slopes of Ice Mountain.  “Friend or Foe!”  The man screamed out in his deep and almost monstrous voice.    I shook for a moment, for fear I had not felt in many years.  This old mage refused to budge.  I continued to scream I was a friend, but he just stood there, gripping his fire battle staff tightly. 

“What do you want with me and my mountain?”  The man finally called out in an almost growling fashion.  “I am looking for answers about my past.  I am looking for a man named Thalzar!  Would you know of him!?”  My question seemed to strike a chord within the brutish mage.  He nearly dropped his staff as he heard the name Thalzar.  After a few moments of listening to just the winds howl across the peak, the figure just shook his head.  “Follow if you want.”  His cold words carried on the icy winds.  I followed him around the narrow ledge that led to a small overlook on the peak.  In the center of the overlook was a large snow white tree.  It had numerous radiant fruits that hung from it.  In addition to the snow white tree were countless small creatures that appeared to be made of solid ice. They were not very tall, or aggressive.  They just wondered about the overlook and the peaks of the mountain.  Very strange indeed.   Despite the diverse surroundings, I did not have long to fixate the unusual creatures or scenery.  The mage that led me here quickly returned his attention back to me. 

“You seek information about Thalzar of Crandor?  Why do you seek this information?”  The mage still spoke in a deep and intimidating voice.  However, he no longer had his staff poised to incinerate me.  “I was told by the Guild Master of the Champion’s Guild that Thalzar could help shed some light on my past!”  I called out, figuring that would not give away too much of what I already knew about the situation.  The man stood there for a moment as if thinking over what to say.  “Even if I knew where Thalzar was; what makes you think I would help you find him?”  The mage called back – his gaze unwavering in the icy winds.  “I don’t know anything about my past!  I desperately am seeking answers, and Thalzar is the only one that I have been told can help me!”  I called back, not sure how else to convince the man.  It was nearly a minute before the man looked me in the eyes.  His deep eyes nearly pierced right through me for it felt as if he was staring into my soul.  He then began to speak coldly.  “Well I hate to disappoint you, but Thalzar you seek is dead.  Been dead for a long time.  Now get off my Mountain.”  The man turned away and headed towards one of two tents perched along the edge of the overlook. 

“That cannot be!”  I cried out, as I took a few steps after the man.  “I said get lost!”  The man spun back around, clutching his fire staff once more.  I stopped in my tracks, looking at the angry mage.  “What is all the commotion out here?”  A sage like female voice called from within one of the tents.  A stroke of fear ran across the mage’s face.  “Get back inside the tent!  We have an intruder!”  The brutish man screamed at the female voice.  I took a step back and questioned what was going on.  It appears that there is another person on the overlook with us.  Regardless of the mage’s plea, the figure of a young girl soon emerged from the tent.  Her skin was as white as the snow that covered the peaks.  She had red paint across her face.  She had long dark hair that was pulled behind her head.  She wore a long brown cloak.  The mage continuously tried to usher her back inside the tent, but she would not listen to him.  She slowly made her way towards the mage.  When she turned to look at me however, her eyes shot wide open. 

“You!”  She screamed out after staring at me for a few moments.  The mage and I both looked at her fearfully.  The girl turned and looked at the mage and began to speak in a foreign tongue.  As she spoke, it felt as if I should know the words she uttered.  There was something about them that seemed familiar.  Yet I could not understand a thing the two talked about in confidence.  They continued on for what felt like hours.  But in reality, it was only minutes.  The mage eventually turned to face me once more; his expression was softer this time.  “Come inside my tent.  There is much we need to discuss.”  I did not understand why he had a sudden change of heart, but I felt right about the situation.  I felt that this was would bring me one step closer to finding out the mysteries of my past.  So I followed him and the young girl back to the tent, on the overlook of Ice Mountain. 

The inside of the tent was simple yet functional.  The woman sat down on a chair on the far side of the room.  The mage laid his staff against the tent wall, before proceeding to stand between me and the girl.  The mage then spoke.  “Let me see your right arm.”  I looked at the man strangely, and was puzzled by his request, but begrudgingly showed him my right arm.  He quickly noticed the scars left along its surface.  I never knew where the burned scars came from.  I could only assume they occurred during the portion of my life that I cannot recall.  The mage turned back to the woman and spoke again in the strange language.  He turned back to me and smiled.  “Your name is Kaleb isn’t it.”  The man spoke calmly and warmly, unlike he had before.  However, that change was not the part that caught my attention.  It was the fact the stranger knew my name.  I had not given him my name, nor had I met this man before.  How did he know my name!?  “How did you…”  I stuttered, still off guard.  “Thank Saradomin you lived my boy.”  The man spoke softly as he gave me a hug.  “What is going on here!?”  I cried out, as I pulled free of his embrace.  “I guess you are due an explanation.  I was not quite truthful with you earlier.  For I am Thalzar, your uncle.”  My eyes lit up as he spoke.  I had finally found the link to my past. 

I didn’t even know where to begin.  Every time I tried to talk, I just ended up speaking gibberish.  “Do not fret Kaleb, there is much for us to share.”  The Mage now known as Thalzar, spoke warmly as he turned to allow me to see the young girl he had been hiding.  “Greetings Kaleb of Crandor.  I am the Oracle.  I was once the ruler of Crandor.  Ask me your question child, and I shall answer you truly.”  She spoke in a calm, sweet, even, and sagely voice.  Finally, someone with answers.  And not just anyone, but my uncle and my former ruler.  My journey is far from over.  But the first step has been taken.  I can now grab hold of the missing pieces, and hopefully one day rebuild my world.  Thank Saradomin for that.  Not all was lost in that night of fire after all. 

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