Chapter 5

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The High Mountain

Far beyond the mist of the mountains of Han’Lanok, lies the ancient temple of Felgarth. It’s built on the side of a peak, called the High Mountain, and is enclosed in snow all year round. Still standing on its original slate foundation, the temple has survived harsh winters and all sorts of environmental disasters over the years.

With his black hood covering his face, an old man walked up the steps towards the sanctuary. Fur was wrapped around the runic engraved plates of his armor to protect him from the cold just as much as to protect him from anything else. A tall stone statue of a robed man was neatly placed before the entrance with two sets of stairs going up around it.

Standing by the gate was a young boy around his mid-teens who seemed frustrated with something. He had his right hand wrapped around an ancient tome as he walked back and forth, not seeing the man approach before he stood right beside him. He halted immediately and gazed up into the wrinkled blue eyes of this man, stating, “oh, I’m sorry, I did not see you there.”

The young boy’s attention swiftly shifted over at the man’s attire, more specifically, the engraved letter, A on the breastplate.

Clearing his throat, the man spoke with a calm tone. “What do you have there?” He asked, pointing to the book in the young boy’s hands.

The boy handed over the book and said while expressing annoyance, “It’s a dumb history book or something. I can’t believe my father sent me here to study a bunch of dead men.”

Looking at the title of the book, the man read it out loud as he opened it. “The Fall of the Spiritual Circle. You seem to be a bit young to take on something like this. Is this on behalf of Vazayus?”

“Yes, father personally requested Elder Uuthar to teach me about ancient arts, but all we do here is read and waste time.”

“What’s your name, child?”

“It’s Archus Stormcaller.”

The man took a few steps toward the stone fence, looking down the mountainside as he continued, “not everyone has the privilege to be part of such a bloodline, Archus. I would take this opportunity to listen to what your elders advise if I were you. Lord Aethos acts in the best interest of his loved ones, that is something I can relate to.”

“You know him?” Archus asked.

Before he got to reply, a voice came from an elderly man by the gate. He had a firm tone as he addressed the boy. “Archus, go back inside now.”

Young Stormcaller looked up at the man in his dark gray robe, who was holding the gate open as he gestured for him to go into the temple. The hooded man handed the book back over to Archus, allowing him to do as he was told.

Glancing over at the robed man as the boy went inside, he spoke, “High Elder Vazayus Uuthar, you’ve come a long way since we last spoke.”

“I’ll admit I haven’t been looking forward to this day. Are you only bringing news, or should I summon the council?”

“I thought you would have stepped down by now. Are you still in league with Elvanor?”

Walking down the steps, Vazayus joined him over by the fence as he scratched his sleek gray beard. “You know my stand, I won’t take up arms against you, but I won’t support you either. The Order of Felgarth takes a neutral stand in this blood feud. We’re only scholars here, the fighters departed for Elvanor a long time ago,” he replied.

“I’m not here to force your hand, only to retrieve the artifact. The preparations are almost complete, and I need it now.”

Sighing heavily as he looked up at the gentle snowflakes falling, he nodded and asked for him to follow inside.

With a gust sweeping across the rugged stone floor, the hooded man followed Vazayus through the hall and down a set of stairs. Torches lit up the dark corridors and the dusty assortments on the tables and shelves. Following the pathway, they eventually ended up next to a chamber with iron bars covering the wooden door. The room was completely empty aside from a pedestal with a sigil on top. Removing his hood, the old man moved towards it as his dark gray hair laid still on his shoulder pads. When slowly reaching out for it, the sound of the door being locked came from behind him. Remaining still, the man spoke in a low voice as he clenched his fists. “You’re making a mistake…”

Elder Uuthar calmly held up a hand halting him and replied as he held his other wrinkled hand around the iron. “These bars are laced with the shade of Moonfire, I don’t recommend trying to force your way out of this.” A silent stare of disappointment was thrown back at him as he lowered his voice and continued, “you don’t have the right to control life when the only thing you bring with you is death. Grandmaster Kin’thalos was right when he said you would return to this place, eventually.” Slightly turning his head to the left with his eyes looking back in the corridor, Vazayus beckoned with his hand. “Apprentice Reeves. Come forward,” he said.

Stepping out of the shadows was a young woman with icy blue eyes and pale hair reaching down to the middle of her back. She approached the chamber as she asked curiously. “Yes, High Elder Uuthar?”

“I need you to ride for Elvanor immediately, inform Theron that we have the betrayer secured. And Nimira, be quick about it.”

With a simple nod, she walked away.

Vazayus turned back towards his prisoner, who was now standing on the other side of the door, staring into his eyes. The annoyed expression covering his face shot a cold chill down Uuthar’s spine. Starting to walk back through the corridor with his hawk shaped nose held high, Vazayus uttered, “we all have to atone for our sins, and what you did to the Order is unforgivable. Your anger. Your hatred. It corrupts everything it comes near. I wish there were another way, I truly do, but you’ve sentenced yourself to death, Lord Anarious.

The old man angrily kept his eyes locked on Uuthar as he walked away until he eventually disappearing in the shadows.

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