Chapter 9

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A Temple of Scholars

With his eyes closed and taking in calm breaths, Lord Anarious stood in the middle of the chamber with his hands resting on his back. The light sound of wind sneaking in through the window shutters came from the corridor outside the room. This area of the temple had barely been used in ages, and the low temperature wasn’t a concern here. Although, despite the dark and freezing surroundings, he stood there without even the slightest shiver. After a little while, the gentle footsteps of a young man came down the stairway in the back. It was the student from before, Archus.

Archus approached the bars on the door and glanced inside, seeing the old man resting in a standing position. With a low voice, his eyes moved around the room as he spoke, “what did you do to have Vazayus lock you in here?” he asked.

Keeping his eyes closed and remaining at the same location, the old man replied, “Elder Uuthar believes he’s doing what is best for the future.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Something you don’t need to concern yourself with.”

The sound of a key unlocking the door came from where the young boy was standing. Slowly opening his eyes, Lord Anarious watched as Archus opened the door into the chamber. Curiously, he looked at him for a moment before continuing, “what are you doing?”

Pointing at the engraving of the letter ‘A’ on his pauldron, the boy answered, “I recognized that symbol from one of the books. It belongs to the council or something for the reformed order. You’re one of Revelation’s high elders, aren’t you?”

“That’s a name I haven’t heard in a while. I’m bewildered by why this would be shared with outsiders.”

“I’m not an outsider.”

“You’re a child, your Stormcaller heritage means nothing in the eyes of the circle before you’ve earned your place.” Walking around the room with his hands resting on his back, Lord Anarious did not seem to be in a hurry to get out of there and instead listened to what the boy had to say.

The auburn locks of hair on Archus’ head got ruffled about as he drove his fingers through the short strands. Unsure of what to say next, he looked back up at the man as he replied, “but…okay, fine. I found it in Uuthar’s study. I hoped it had something about the ancient arts in it, but instead the book detailed plans, past events, Syan constructions and so on.”

“I see, and the sigil appeared in that context?”

“Yes, it talked about unified noble houses, how the lords and elders reformed the Order of Revelation. It paid great homage to the great Grandmaster, Kin’thalos of Elvanor.”

“I’m sure it did. Now, none of this explains why you would unlock the door? If Elder Uuthar went to such lengths to secure this place with Elven weaponry, it would be unwise to spoil his plans like this.”

Shaking his head with a somewhat confident look in his eyes, Archus went on to explain that Vazayus had been losing touch with reality as of late. He was constantly making decisions that went against what Felgarth stood for, and actions like the imprisonment of a High Elder was not that farfetched from his previous behavior.

Lord Anarious understood that the boy was working in the best interest of the Order, even though he was not looped in on the full truths of what was going on. Placing both his hands onto his shoulders, the wrinkled icy blue eyes stared into the innocent soul of the boy. With a reassuring voice, the old man replied. “Your actions will not go unnoticed, child. However, before I leave, I need to get what I came for. It’s a circular object with serpents that forms a ring around the engraving of a ‘G,’ do you know what I’m talking about?”

“I’m not sure, but if it’s of any importance, it’s likely in the High Elder’s study.”

“Good. Now go, you should not be seen by my side in case Uuthar learns of this.”

Giving him a quick nod, Archus took off in a hurry and rushed back upstairs. Once the boy was out of sight, Lord Anarious slowly approached the window shutters and rubbed his hands together as he gave a signal through a whistle that was carried through the mountain chain by the wind.

Just down the hill from the temple stood a cloaked unit in wait for their master’s command. Once the signal was heard, the commander ordered the men to move onwards to Felgarth. They shared a similar armor to that of Lord Anarious, with black cloaks, darkened engraved plate, and beautifully handcrafted silver blades.

Stepping out into the main hall, the old man raised his hands slightly as he walked forward, speaking to the ones around in a menacing tone of voice. “It has been made clear that this order no longer holds a neutral stand. Too long has this place cowered in the shadows of Elvanor, but no longer. I will give you the chance to choose your allegiance, or it will be chosen for you.”

Coming out in a hurry on the second floor, Vazayus grabbed around the railing with his left hand while also holding tightly around his metal crafted staff. He gazed down at Lord Anarious who stood in the middle of the room with scholars surrounding him on each side. Speaking in a firm and deranged tone, Elder Uuthar addressed him. “What nonsense is this? None of my people will follow a traitor! A man of cruelty and deception. Take him!” he ordered.

Lord Anarious glanced up at Vazayus who stood confidently in his position as the scholars around began to prepare themselves. At that moment, the gate into the temple was opened as the unit barged into the hall with their weapons drawn, quickly forcing the people onto their knees. The confidence withered from Uuthar’s eyes as he almost sprung back into his chamber in hopes of finding a solution. Taking to the stairs in pursuit, Lord Anarious unsheathed his blade and followed him inside.

Holding the artifact within the palm of his hand as he watched the Lord walk through the door, Vazayus slightly raised his hand as he spoke. “I know why you want him back, but I will never allow that to happen.” Before Lord Anarious could reach him, he chanted a quick incantation that turned the artifact into dust before continuing his speech. “You’re not as powerful as they fear you to be. Do not forget who taught you everything you practice, everything you use to bind them to your will. Oh, I know what you think of me, I’m but a pawn in their game, right? No, I’m much more than a simple magus. Once the Grandmaster witnessed your treachery, we unified the forces of Elvanor to retake control over the broken order, and so, we will.”

Tightening his grip around his blade, Lord Anarious furiously stared at the smug look on the Elder’s face as the remains of the artifact slithered away between his fingers. Swiftly waving his staff as his right hand was pointed at him, Vazayus pushed him down on the ground as a glimmer of blue light encircled him. On his knees, Lord Anarious turned his eyes towards the shutters, which blew open with an icy cold wind blowing in. With a raised eyebrow, Vazayus looked towards the window as he stated almost amused, “a simple breeze is all you can muster? You have no power here, Xan…”

“It served its purpose,” Lord Anarious replied.

Vazayus squinted slightly at him confused by what he was talking about, only to feel a stabbing sensation a moment later. A thin and sharp dagger had pierced his heart from behind. As he gasped for air, he turned around to see a young girl in a black and red leather garment standing before him. As his attention had shifted away, it had allowed her to sneak up around him to deal a fatal blow. With crazed eyes staring into her sly and malicious smile, Vazayus fell backward as he mumbled to Lord Anarious. “The Grandmaster’s plan will succeed…”

Swinging his blade across his neck before he finished his sentence, Lord Anarious stared at what remained of him with annoyance. He turned his attention to the girl, then said calmly, “my child, you performed exceptionally today.”

“Thank you, father.” There was no sign of remorse or regret in her statement, only pure excitement for what had just transpired. Grabbing the head by the hair, she walked towards the door with Lord Anarious by her side. He was holding onto the book that Archus had spoken about before.

Out in the hall, the scholars were trying to maintain a strong posture despite their predicament. However, as the head of the High Elder was tossed down on the floor before them, anxiety and fear spread among them. A couple of them rose to fight back but were immediately cut down by the soldiers in the room. Standing in the same spot where Vazayus had stood earlier, Lord Anarious addressed them once again. “Have you considered my proposal?”

As he walked down the steps, the young boy, Archus stepped forward with a shocked expression as he looked at the decapitated head on the floor, “what have you done?” he asked.

Pulling up her dagger to end the boy’s life, the girl approached him but was shut down by her father.

“Do not harm the boy, Errynaya. He still serves a purpose.”

Slightly hesitant to heed his word, she eventually lowered her weapon as she went up in the boy’s face, whispering insidiously as she grinned. “Too bad, I could have made this so enjoyable for both of us. I hope to see you again.” She twirled strands of brown hair with her finger as she walked back to Lord Anarious, who was moving towards the exit. The ones left did not argue in fear of losing their lives, and their silence was taken as a sign of cooperation.

The soldiers lowered their weapons and followed their Lord out of the temple, eventually disappearing into the blizzard. Many of them fell into despair over what had just happened. The cries echoed across the mountain before eventually being consumed by the howling night.

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