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Ancients and Patriarchs


Calderis

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So I'll say right off the bat I haven't edited this at all. Just looking for feedback on the Prologue to my story. 

Spoilered for length

Spoiler

Ancients and Patriarchs

 

Prologue

 

 A lightning flash drove nails through Kalis' eyes just seconds before the thunder crash forced them open. Coming out of his half sleep brought the pain back to his feet and legs. It felt like he'd been walking for months, but if that were true the sun must stay up for weeks at a time. In truth this was the third night of his journey through the Forest of Arden, and hopefully he would reach his destination before sunrise.

 He wanted to stop, to rest. He silently prayed to the Shifter for sleep to come. He would have stopped a long time ago, but every time he slowed the Messenger would press him on.

 As if the floating sphere could sense his thoughts, it's metallic voice was suddenly tearing at his ears. "You are falling behind nameless. I understand your need to rest, but that time will come soon enough. You have traveled over ninety-seven percent of the distance required. It should only be one point seven hours until you have completed your journey at the present speed. If you resume the optimal pace of four point five miles per hour, that time will be reduced by 37 minutes."

 "Why can't you just say faster?"

 "I was merely attempting to raise your spirits, nameless. If you would rather I only tell you to increase your speed without elaborating on the details I would be more than willing to accommodate you."

 "Forget it…"

 "I do not understand nameless. What is it I should forget?"

 If nothing else the messenger was frustrating.

"Never mind."

He continued on in silence, apparently meeting the Messenger's invisible speed requirement. It didn't feel as though he were moving any faster, but other than a constant ache his lower limbs hadn't felt much for as long as he cared to remember.

He'd looked forward to this event his whole life. This was the journey of his ascension, the trek that would begin his life as a man in the eyes of his father and the rest of the village. The journey in which he and Raslin would finally prove themselves as individuals and everyone would stop simply referring to them as "the twins."

Do you hate that they think of us as one so much, brother?

It was Raslin, hearing him through their link. He was more exhausted than he thought to have let his thoughts go without his knowledge.

No brother. I do not hate it. I would not change our life for anything. Although I would like them to see that there is more to us both than just a copy of the other.

It was some time before Raslin's thoughts reached him. I believe I understand, but Kalis?

He couldn't help but laugh. You know I can't answer to that Raslin, not anymore. For now why not simply stay with brother? I'd prefer that from you rather than "nameless." I hear that more than enough from the flying eye.

Raslin continued, Alright than brother, but hurry back. I have as much to prove as you. Besides, it's getting hard to sleep. You make my feet hurt.

He laughed out loud then, and the glowing eye of the messenger turned to study him unknowing.

I make your feet hurt? Just wait, soon it will be your turn little brother, and than your feet will know what it means to hurt.

He could feel Raslin's smile, Alright brother, I'm going to try to sleep. May the Patriarchs guide your feet and the Shifter protect you.

Sleep well my brother, He thought back, I will return to you soon with a new name.

Again he was alone, but Raslin's good wishes helped push him on. If he focused on the path ahead he could almost forget that his legs felt like knots of pain. He could push through this, even if only to give his brother hope.

He'd always been the leader of the two of them. Often times Raslin would simply stay indoors and study unless he pushed him. When asked where they'd been or what they were doing Raslin would always look to him before answering. When it came to the trials, he was very worried for his little brother.

Another lightning crash broke the still air and for the first time he saw the Tower looming above him through the bare branches of the trees. It made him think of a giant metal tusk ready to rend the sky, jagged and unforgiving. It almost looked broken, but if that were true he did not know how large it must have been before. As it stood now he'd never imagined anything so huge. The tower of the patriarchs rivaled mountains, and as far as how it had been built, he could only imagine.

"How much farther?"

"Distance to the tower is approximately three miles, roughly forty-three minutes at our current pace."

"Can't you be any clearer than that?"

"One moment, I am accessing terms with which I believe you will relate. I believe we will reach the tower at the time that the moon reaches it's highest point in the sky."

He looked at the moon and thought for a moment, and a wave of hope rushed over him. "Oh bless the fathers, that's not long."

Within moments he wished that he hadn't asked. Knowing that they would be able to stop soon his legs decided that they needed to stop now. The effort to put one foot in front of the other became an ongoing agony. Despite the pain he pushed on and on focusing on the iron canine jutting ever higher into the sky before him.

"Halt nameless"

That metal voice always disturbed him after a long silence. Especially now, when  he couldn't allow himself to stop. Not this close, if he stopped now he'd never move again. But he did stop, and the voice of the messenger continued.

"There is something ahead that I had not anticipated. Stay here, and attempt to remain silent. I will return to you as soon as I have ascertained what is happening near the tower."

The messenger suddenly appeared to be sheathed in light. Looking at it stabbed at his mind like looking at the sun, and than the light swirled in on itself, like watching water swirl around rocks in a stream. The light spun inward and disappeared, and the Messenger was gone.

He walked to a tree at the side of the path and collapsed. Three days of walking had taken its toll and with the opportunity to sleep his body grabbed hold of that chance like a vice. He was out in seconds.

It wasn't long before the dreams started. His mind swam with visions of himself and Raslin, of their mother and father, and their sister Lyris. It was like portions of his life in fast forward. It was the spring festival, and he could feel Raslin's jealousy as he kissed Karysa on the night of their birthday feast. He felt his anger later as they played on the stonewood bridge a few days later, playing at swordfights with sticks as they so often did. He saw again and again the times that his dominant role had caused Raslin pain, and others where he pushed his brother to do things he was scared to do.

Throughout the dreams was a sense of distance, pain, even loss. For some reason the dreams felt like the life of a stranger. There was a shadow cast across his life in these dreams, like he had only watched his life from the background. Most painful of all, in his dreams the bond that he had always shared with his brother was gone. It made Raslin feel like a rival rather than his constant companion. For the first time in the fifteen years they'd been alive, he felt as if he were completely alone.

The dreams faded away than and he was somewhere between real sleep and any awareness of his surroundings. He was to tired to wake up, but his emotions held him in the dark, alone and submerged in a deep depression.

He was pulled from his restless sleep by pain. It looked as if lightning were arcing from the Messenger to his body, and felt like he'd been filled with living fire.

"I'm awake damnation it!"

"Hurry nameless. There are ones near who would keep you from reaching the tower. Run. Now."

For a moment he didn't understand, and then he was running. He could still feel the fire within him, but it seemed to awaken his muscles. The pain in his feet and legs had lessened and now the main effort was to keep from tripping on the sparse cobble stones which marked his path through the trees. He ran, dodging roots and stones, making his way through the tunnel of dead branches that marred the sky above him.

Suddenly the trees were gone. He broke out into a clearing dominated by the Tower. Stone steps made a pyramid that rose to meet that gleaming claw, and at their base were statues. They moved by some magic, heads turning to see what had entered the land of the Patriarchs, and their cold eyes turned from him back to the tree line as if he were a welcome pet.

His feet continued towards the mountain of stairs, and did not stop. When he'd reached what must have been his thousandth step, he heard a sound like fire and lightning mixed with the wind. He glanced over his shoulder and saw arrows of light racing from the statues to the tree line. There were small fires in a few spots, but they were growing quickly.

He kept running, the lights of the fires growing stronger. As he reached the top of the stairs he saw his reflection in the doors of the tower, and flames rushing in behind him. He dropped to the stones and felt a wave of heat pass over him. He looked up to see an orb of fire wash against the metal doors, blackening the mirrored surface.

He cautiously climbed to his feet, and looked down at the clearing, as much in amazement as to check his safety. The fires were gone, and the statues were making their way into the trees. Whatever had attacked him was being driven away, hopefully.

 There was a Swirl of light to his left and the familiar floating orb that was the Messenger coalesced beside him. It slid through the air smoothly until it was next to the now charred doors.

"Enter nameless and find your worth. You gave up your name and heritage. These creatures, twisted by the shifter will take you in. They are prideful. Face them with courage nameless, and you may be welcomed. Shame yourself and you will not exit these doors."

The doors slid open to reveal a long hallway. He walked through and heard them close behind him, sealing him in a world of metal. Until now he'd only seen metal, be it iron or steel, in small amounts, such as bits of jewelry, or tools made by the village smith. The most he'd seen in one piece was the smith's anvil, which he'd thought huge. This place was hard and cold with it.

There didn't seem to be any lights, but there was a soft glow that made everything visible. The only sound other than his footsteps a low hum that seemed to come from everywhere at once. It changed tones subtly creating a kind of unnerving melody.

Walking through the steel mountain, he was alone with his thoughts. He reached out to Raslin and found silent warmth. He must finally be asleep. He would let his brother rest, while he returned to his own thoughts, which had been racing from the moment he stepped into the tower.

He was here. Really here, and it wasn't a dream. In some ways it was stranger than any of his dreams. In some ways the trials so far had been easier than his dreams and in others, like the travel, it was harder than he could have believed. Now though, he would bring pride to his family, again proving that the blood runs strong.

He walked through the frigid steel halls for what seemed like hours before he came to a doorway. Stepping through he entered into a large chamber, the glow of the hallway ended abruptly as he entered and finding his way was difficult, but as he reached what he thought was the center of the room, which quickly changed.

One moment he was in the dark, and the next there was a man in front of him who seemed to be made of light. He was tall, and his features were difficult to make out with no shadows to create depth. It was a face and form woven entirely of silver light.

"Welcome child, you seem weary. Have you traveled far?"

"Distance is no matter. I have slept little and traveled far, but to prove myself to you father, I would traveled as far as needed."

A new voice chimed in and there was another creature, interesting that his mind picked that word, to his left, similar to the first man. This one made of light like liquid gold.

"Your modesty may do you honor but is there truth in what you say? You look about to collapse."

The silver man grinned and looked at the first. "Even if he is exhausted, the truth in his words is apparent. He is here and he is standing, he speaks proudly and without complaint."

He looked at them both and spoke without thinking. "I have come here for my trials. I have walked three days without rest, and have proven my will. Test me as you will, but do not speak of me as if I were not present."

"Cocky aren't we?" The silver man still had that grin on his face, or perhaps it was a sneer. "I like that. But here boy, you have to back your words with action."

The gold man raised his arm and gestured towards him and suddenly all he felt was pain. His every nerve was burning and freezing at once. He felt sweat break out all over his body and a scream rise in his throat, but somehow, whether through his own will or complete exhaustion, he held it back.

The pain stopped, and he was surprised to find he was still standing. The creatures looked at each other, the silver mans grin was gone, and they both came to face him.

The gold man spoke first. "You are of the bloodline of the Shifter yes?"

"My family has traced itself back two thousand years reaching to the Shifter himself" he replied.

"And you are your families first born male?" This was issued coldly by the silver man.

"I have a twin brother but of the two of us, I am the elder."

"Twins?" From the gold.

"This was not foreseen."  From the Silver.

A third voice came from behind, and there was a deep azure glow in the room, "He is the one. There is just one thing that must be done before he is fully acceptable."

Silver and Gold looked at each other for a moment and than to the source of the glow behind him and spoke in unison, as if from an age old ritual.

"Than let the lessons begin, and the messiah be born anew."

The glow became stronger and a creature of blue light started to circle him. This thing looked less human than the others. Its limbs were slightly longer, and there was something wrong with its eyes, it was not enough to truly notice, but it was enough to set the mind on edge.

"Your brother, the two of you have always been close yes? Like twins tend to be."

"He's my best friend. We know each other better than anyone can. We are bonded."

"No child. You have been deceived. There are prophecies. You… You shall be the vessel of the messiah, and only your blood can stand in your way. He will betray all that you have been taught. The bond you speak of, he can speak to you through it yes? Hear you sometimes, even when you do not wish it?"

"Yes… but it has been that way always. We help each other. We love each other. He is my brother."

"But you are the true son. You are the one who acts yes? He holds you back. Have you ever once heard him through the bond without him knowing?"

He was frightened. He had always known Raslin. They had always been together, but there was some truth in what the creature said.

"No, not once."

"That is because he lives to make sure you do not become what is needed. You two must exist together correct? You are twins. How can one be without the other?

‘Do you not desire to be known as something more? To have people see you and think of you as more than part of a whole? There is no reason that you should be stuck dragging something weaker than you behind, something that is jealous of you."

He felt wrong hearing them speak of Raslin this way, but these were the Patriarchs. How could they be wrong? He was alone, betrayed. The dreams he'd had earlier, they must have been a sign, something to help prepare him for this.

The Azure One continued, "Do you not have memories of emotion through your bond? Times that you knew how he felt about you? Times that the lie showed through?

‘Trust me child, you were born for a reason, and when you return to your village he will prove us correct. He will betray you."

He wanted to cry. He wanted to scream at this thing to stop. He wanted to shout that they were wrong. But how could the Patriarchs be wrong?

"What… what must I do?"

The Azure One smiled then, a twisted, cruel smile that made its face a mockery of joy. He turned to the Silver and Gold ones, who were now kneeling, holding a red and black rod, that seemed to glow, and took it from them.

"Take this. It is a relic of days long passed. It belonged to The Shifter himself. You will learn to use it, and when your brother betrays you, you will hunt him down."

Kalis, what had been Kalis, died then. He felt his heart scream. He felt the bond to Raslin, knew he was sleeping, knew that his sleep was restless and filled with dark dreams. He pushed the bond away, and ignored it. He could not allow himself to feel anything for a traitor.

"How do I use it?"

"Place an end to the back your neck at the base of your spine. It will do the rest." All said through that horrid smile.

He reached out and The Azure One handed him the rod. It was cold, and glowed Red, the black swirled through it like smoke. He stared at it, hypnotized, on the verge of tears. He grabbed one end and reached behind him. With his eyes closed he pressed the rod to his spine.

There was a feeling like being filled with ice water. It spread through him, filling his body and than his limbs and moving up. Then the cold filled his mind. numbing him. There were flashes of people and places. Like memories, becoming more vivid. Anger, blood, war, and power. There were many times that he saw these creatures of light in the flesh. The visions came in a flood. He felt his mind changing.

In the last moments of this shift he felt the bond to Raslin, heard him scream within his mind. Then the bond shattered, twisted inward and he was isolated from the one who had been his brother. The bond was gone, and he did not care.

He was strong. He had power for a reason. He would destroy them, the old ones. Make them pay for all that they had done. Wait, first there was other business, a traitor. He would kill the traitor, and then deal with the old ones.

He opened his eyes. Gold, Silver, Azure, all stood rapt. In unison their voices broke the silence.

"We have waited long and worked hard towards this end. The lessons have been made, and the Vitzen repaired and passed on to the blood line. May the blood of our fallen rebuild what was shattered."

The Azure One stepped forward. "Come child, the time has come for you to take your name."

He face turned in a sneer and he laughed for a moment, "I am no child fool. My name is as it always was, and I will make it known again as it has been."

The Azure ones lips twitched slightly and the Silver and Gold creatures were openly smiling.

"And what name is that?" The Azure One asked.

"I am Arden." He stated coldly, "And you will bow to me as you always have."

Thanks for any feedback. 

Edited by Calderis
Formatting. Italicized telepathic communication for clarity, as that did not transfer over in copy/paste
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Hmmm...I'm not sure what I think of this. The implications for the story are really cool, but something just felt off about this prologue. I have no idea what though. So...I'm confused though. This society has both really advanced technology, and also fantasy technology?

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I was operating under the principle that any sufficiently advanced technology will appear to be magic. 

There is some minor psionics abilities in the native humans, but almost all of the magic is derived from an alien race that crashed on the world thousands of years ago. While that race lived they taught the humans to use their tech, but that has passed down in an almost religious nature, so to almost everyone living the tech is magic. 

Edited by Calderis
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