~~Eve and Elijah swept through the door that the Angel had vanished through and they found themselves on a smooth paved walkway about ten feet wide and it ran from their feet straight forward without turning for many hundreds of metres until it disappeared at the foot of two enormous dark brown mahogany doors that stood 12 feet high but there design was very simple with no adornment except for the two large, round door handles which were made of solid gold. It was the door to the Citadel of the Angels where the Elder Ones ruled inside. Its door had never been breached, save once when the mighty dragon Draco had attacked Eden. The citadel itself was made of stone and towered over the rest of the city. It stood at the very centre of Eden and had many towers and parapets from which the land for miles around could be seen. The most impressive feature of the Citadel however was the large dome that dominated it. It was easily the largest structure in Eden and its structure rivalled that of the greatest goblin, warlock, and vampire or werewolf structure. Only the human or dwarf structures came close. It was made of stone but had been bleached white, like the rest of the citadel, and it had been covered in gold and gemstones that winked in the noonday sun from their places, giving the Citadel a shimmering look. It was this that had earned Eden the name of ‘The Shining City’.
On both sides of the paved walkway there was a mix of residential buildings and businesses, the residential buildings were made wholly of stone, some adorned and some not, varying on the status and wealth of their inhabitants. The businesses stood in front of the houses but were lower and were mostly tents and pavilions or stalls holding items of quality of exotic spices. Merchants called from behind the stalls or from inside the tents for the many customers that passed them to try their items, or shouted that they had a special deal just for them. The street was packed with people who were out buying their weekly food supply or where looking for the next item to show off to their friends. It looked like a normal market from anywhere on Mirum, except for one exception, the customers and merchants were largely Angels with a few curious folk interspersed into the crowd.
On the left side of the walkway, behind the houses and businesses, stood a fifty foot stone wall upon which many guards and towers stood, looking out into the wilderness around the city. The wall would have resembled any other but, like the door to the Citadel, it had never fallen, save once, and under the same circumstances. Its success was a mix of the unparalleled strength and skill of those who guarded it, the reputation of the Angels which often dissuaded many attacks before they had even begun, and the fact that the walls contained bars of steel hidden inside the wall which added strength.
Above the heads of the crowd below, the sky was dotted with Angels in mid-flight, either guards on patrol or those who didn’t want to spend their time fighting through the masses below.
Elijah and Eve tried to break through the insurmountable wall of people before them but could make no headway. Elijah tried to push past an Angel, a large burly man with grey wings, who rebuffed him. The Angel turned so he could look at Elijah. ‘What do you want you…?’ He froze when he saw who it was.
‘Oh I’m so sorry Elijah; I didn’t realize it was you.’ The Angel apologized repeatedly before Elijah grew irritated.
‘Alright, I get it!’ Elijah growled. ‘Just don’t do it again.’
The Angel nodded and looked back at the crowd, which was oblivious to the exchange happening between the two of them. ‘I suppose you’ll be looking for a way through that lot?’
‘Allow me to clear a path for you sir.’
The Angel turned to face the crowd, his back to Elijah, and he bellowed, so loud he was audible above the loud drone of the crowd, ‘Clear a path! Elijah and Eve are coming through! Get out of the way!’
The drone increased as the crowd noticed Elijah and Eve’s presence and the Angels and others quickly scrambled from the path, squashing themselves into pavilions, tents and even a few open houses.
Elijah and Eve hurried down the walkway, Eve hunched over, self-conscious, and Elijah strode proudly, his head held high. When they passed, the Angels would lower their heads in respect and would pound their right fist onto their left side of their chest, identical to the guard who had summoned them.
When Elijah and Eve reached the doors to the Citadel, the doors swung open, unbidden, silently.
Inside Elijah and Eve found themselves in a long corridor with tapestries on the stone wall. The floor was covered in red velvet. The walls were a deep red with many tapestries lining the walls. As they went along they told the history of Mirum. At the end of the corridor from the door that they had just entered there was a tapestry of chaos and bloodshed, the Chaos Times, when there was no government, no rules, nothing for untold generations.
The second tapestry displayed three Angels descending on the warring forces below them. This happened 3000 years ago and was when the Elder Ones first appeared.
The third tapestry was in two halves, the first showed the land of Mirum in bright colours; the scene depicted a city below with towering spires, and next to it was a great hill of bright grass. The city shimmering under the bright sun. The second half was the same scene except with two differences, duller colours had been used, the sun wasn’t quite as bright, the grass not as green, the cities didn’t shine. Also, on the hill stood alone figure, hooded and cloaked. This was the Great Silence, and was in ways still happening. This event happened 2500 years ago and the figure was Mara, this was when she went silent, and she has not spoken, except with her mind, since that grim day.
The fourth tapestry was another scene of battle. A great grey dragon with piercing green eyes was rearing up on its hind legs. Abaven, for it was clearly him, was stood in front of the dragon in full battle armour, and with his sword plunged deep into the dragon’s chest. This was Abaven at the end of the Dragon War, the dragons launched a campaign across Mirum and Abaven finally slew Draco, their leader, at the Gates of Eden, the last city and haven that had not been razed by the Dragons during that turbulent time. The war had ended 700 years ago.
The fifth tapestry showed two armies facing each other off. They looked like normal human warriors except for two differences. The army on the left were all massive, burly figures with pointed ears. They were werewolves. The army on the right all wore black, from head to toe, not an inch of skin showing. They were the Vampires. This tapestry had attempted to display the Lunar War in a single weaving. The artist had been unsuccessful; the Lunar War was a horrific war that could never be seemed up in a single weaving. The Lunar War ended 120 years ago.
The sixth and final tapestry in the corridor showed the three Elder Ones standing in a line, but at their feet sat Eve, Adam and Izdaja, except the three students were only children in the weaving. This was when the Elder Ones had chosen their students to take their place and had happened 20 years ago.
When Elijah and Eve reached the end of the corridor, they were faced with another door, this one was made of diamond, every inch of it, and was possibly the most expensive item in the Citadel and acted as the failsafe for the Elder Ones, if the unspeakable happened and the Citadel fell, they were to get as many Angels as possible to safety behind these doors.
Elijah faced the doors and opened his mouth to speak, but before he did he looked at Eve and said, with sympathy, ‘I’m going to have to put a spell of Silence around you, you aren’t allowed to hear the password yet.’
Eve nodded, giving her consent for the spell to be passed on her.
Elijah chanted, ‘Audi iam non.’
A loud buzzing appeared in Eve’s ears before it muted and silenced, when the sound was silenced Elijah looked at her quizzically and she held her thumb up to show that she couldn’t hear. Elijah nodded and turned to face the diamond door again. His mouth moved silently and the diamond slid upwards into the ceiling, vanishing from sight.
Elijah went to go into the room ahead of him but Eve grabbed is shoulder, startling him and pointed to her ears. Elijah apologised silently and said a few more, silenced words of magic and the buzzing again returned to Eve’s ears, except when it left she had her hearing back.
Elijah smiled, ‘Anytime.’
Elijah and Eve strode into the room at the heart of the city. The room was made from one massive piece of seamless marble that formed the floor, walls, the massive domed roof and the six pillars supporting it. The pillars were arranged in a circle and at the foot of each one there was an ornate chair, not unlike a throne, made out of gold and other precious metals. The chair that was directly in front of Elijah and Eve had the carving of a set of scales with two crossed swords behind them. In the chair sat Abaven. He was a large, bald man with skin the same colour as caramel. He wore flowing robes that were the colour of the sun but on top of them he wore his armour as usual, it was plate mail and was the colour of copper but infinitely harder. His wings were a deep sunset red and were so massive that they cast Abaven in a shadow. His sword leaned against the chair, the point on the floor and the hilt on the chair. The blade, Lux, seemed to shimmer as if it glowed with an inner light. The only part of his anatomy that gave away Abaven’s age was his eyes, which were weary with the sorrows of 3 millennia. His skin was crisscrossed with thousands of scars; they ran across his head, his hands, and his sandaled feet. They were memoirs from his uncountable battles protecting the people of Mirum. The other 5 chairs were empty. Elijah and Eve both bowed simultaneously.
When they rose Abaven spoke 'You flatter me old friend, you have not needed to bow to me for centuries.' His voice was a deep bass and incredibly smooth.
'That may be so but you still deserve my respect, and I shall give it to you' replied Elijah.
‘Both of you take a seat please.’ They both bowed again and sat in their respective chairs. Elijah sat next to Abaven and above his chair on the marble pillar was the carving of a heart and it seemed to beat and pump even through the un-living rock. Eve sat to the right of Elijah and there was no carving above her chair as she had yet to become an Embodiment, a full Elder One.
No one spoke as they waited for the others to arrive. The large diamond door slid up and omitted three more Angels. Mara, an elderly Angel with white hair, a strange mix of purple and green wings, she wore a simple cloth tunic and trousers, nothing of the finery that Elijah liked to wear. She sat at Abaven’s left but left the seat directly to Abaven’s left empty. Her carving was a tiny white light among a cloud of rolling darkness; this revealed her to be the Embodiment of Hope. To her left sat Adam, Maras’s student. He was white but not overly pale like Eve is, his hair was blonde and cut short, and it was stuck up naturally at odd angles. He wore a blue dyed top that made his blue sash almost invisible. Izdaja filled the empty seat between Abaven and Mara. He was dark skinned, darker than Abaven. His clothes were flowing robes like Abaven’s but he wore no armour and his was a bright white, when he moved it seemed like shadows had come to life. His hair was just as dark as his skin and cut very short. His wings were a mix of white flecked with green and red splotches.
'Why did you summon us here Abaven?' Elijah enquired, Eve remained silent as it was custom for students to only speak to their superiors when spoken too.
'There is...a situation.' He said delicately.
Elijah’s eyes narrowed 'what kind?'
'I have summoned you all here because of this.' He gestured with his right hand and muttered ‘Map, ut de manu mea’ and a map flew into his hands. He threw it back into the air and said ‘Dilata dolor amet.’
It enlarged in mid-air, big enough for all of them to see. The map zoomed in on one area, a mine by a small human settlement on the outskirts of the Confortare Mountains.
'This is what has your attention? Why? It’s just a mining town.'
'We lost contact with the town 1 month ago, I want to know why.'
This time it was Izdaja who spoke. 'That’s easy; they are near the confortare mountains right? A tribe of Goblins attacked them, disrupting communication for a while. Case closed.' He lounged back on his seat with a smirk on his face.
Abaven scowled at his student 'You may be right but we must know for sure. He snapped his head back to Elijah. 'I want you and Eve to go to the town, see if you can find out what happened.'
Elijah bowed his head in acknowledgement. 'Of course, but may I suggest that we have another companion? Eve has not yet fought for her life and if there is a very real threat in that town I want to keep her safe.'
'Very well, Adam, you shall accompany them.'
Abaven tilted his head as if listening to something. 'Yes...no of course not...you make a good point...fair enough.'
Abaven cleared his throat, 'Change of plans, Mara has convinced me that it would be better if Izdaja accompanied you two because Adam is behind in his studies and Izdaja is the better combatant.'
Izdaja practically leapt for joy.
'Abaven are you sure that's wise? We know that Izdaja can get...carried away some times.'
'I have spoken Elijah; they leave at high sun tomorrow.'
He turned to face Mara and he asked her softly ‘What do your spirits say on the town? Do they have anything to add to this meeting?’
Mara stood up and hunched over she slowly shuffled to the centre of the room, akin to an old woman but everyone in the room had seen her put a room of healthy Angels on their backs in a matter of minutes. When she reached the centre of the room, all eyes on her, she clapped her hands and there was a sound like an explosion that rattled the room. When the sound quietened there was a clear sphere around Mara and opposite her was the shimmering form of an old man, they were clearly talking but no sound could be heard from either of them.
Eve, who was new to this spectacle, leaned over and nudged Elijah who gave a little start.
‘What’s going on?’ This she whispered, afraid to talk normally.
Elijah stared intently at the two figures of Mara and the old man as if trying to make out what they were saying.
‘Mara is asking the spirit of the farmer if there is any danger that he can see at the town, if there’s anything that we have overlooked.’
Eve frowned at this. ‘How do you know he is a farmer and how will he know if there’s anything that we have overlooked?’
‘I know he’s a farmer because I knew him when he was alive and he might know something because spirits have a way of hearing things that others don’t, he might have heard something himself or from a friend. It’s always wise to confer with the spirits before setting out on a journey or doing anything dangerous.’
Still whispering Eve asked him another question. ‘Why won’t she let us hear what they are saying?’
Elijah sighed heavily and sadly. ‘She used to. Her words can heal famines and topple dictators and that’s what she did for almost 500 years. The world however, never learnt from its mistakes and we always caused another catastrophe or let another town go hungry.’
‘What happened?’ Eve asked eagerly.
‘She grew bitter and just stopped talking; leaving us to our own devices and the world has been a much harsher place since then. Now she only speaks to those that she deems worthy, which is the farmer before you.’
Eve seemed shocked at this revelation. ‘A farmer is more worthy than the Elder Ones of Mirum? Who have saved thousands of lives? What has the farmer done?’
Elijah looked at her sadly. ‘That my student is why she stopped speaking.’
For this Eve had no answer.
A few minutes later, Mara bid farewell to the old farmer and the sphere disappeared as the farmer vanished.
Abaven perked up as he had been slouching during the unheard conversation. ‘What news?’
He asked urgently.
Mara shook her head and said to everyone telepathically, ‘The town has been hidden from the spirits sight for some time now, more than the month that we haven’t had contact with it. The town was particularly superstitious and put up symbols around the town to stop spirits entering.
Abaven slumped again, ‘So they will be going in blind?’
Mara again shook her head and said to everyone, ‘I asked about the surrounding area and there has been unusual Goblin activity in the mountains near the town but whether this is relevant, they do not know.’
Abaven nodded, ‘Very well, thank you Mara.’ He gestured for her to take her place again and she shuffled off slowly. He looked at Eve, the Elijah then finally at Izdaja.
‘Did you all get that?’
They all nodded in unison and Abaven clapped his hands. ‘Good.’ He boomed. ‘You leave tomorrow at noon, say your good byes and prepare for a long journey; it’s a three day ride at least.’
Elijah perked up at this, ‘I have something to add to this meeting Abaven, if I may.’
Abaven looked curious, ‘Of course friend, speak.’
Elijah cleared his throat ‘I believe that Eve will be able to take my place as an Elder One as soon as a week from now.’
The announcement shocked everyone and there were gasps from all around the room, Eve seemed the most shocked out of everyone.
Abaven wore a troubled expression at this news, ‘Are you sure Elijah? This is no light matter.’
Elijah nodded furiously, I am sure, this has been on my mind long enough, and she is ready.’
Abaven nodded, ‘Very well’
He looked at Eve and his expression grew softer, as did his voice. ‘If it pleases you Eve you will become the Embodiment of your choice in exactly one week and you will become a full Elder One, replacing your teacher, we will only go through with this if you are comfortable with the transition.’
Eve looked down, thinking hard. After a handful of minutes she looked back up to Abaven and said ‘I’m ready.’
‘Good, I expected no less.’
Abaven scanned the rest of the audience. ‘How is Adam coming along Mara?’
He is advanced in telepathy and is well onto his way to becoming a skilled MindBreaker. He also has knowledge of medicinal plants and herbs, poisons and Angelic Lore. He still needs to be taught in hand to hand combat and the Lore of other races.
Abaven smiled, ‘Good, how long until he is ready?’
A month? Maybe two? Yes, I’m confident, no more than two months.
Abaven replied ‘Fair enough, then our two student’s align, Izdaja is advancing well in combat and Lore but needs time on plants and other, more fine arts.’
Abaven clapped his hands, ‘this meeting is ended, Izdaja, Eve and Elijah, I want you leaving at noon tomorrow and a full report when you get back.’
Glossary of Magic – Chapter 2
‘Audi iam non.’ – ‘Hear no more’
‘Map, ut de manu mea’ – ‘Map, to my hand’
‘Dilata dolor amet.’ – ‘Enlarge and focus on my destination.’