Prologue: ‘It always begins in the East…’
Before the War of the East, when Darkness ruled in the spaces of nothingness and when it was tired of ruling over nothing, it decided to give birth to lights, seas, land and wind. The lights sparkled and revealed the magnificent colours of the Universe – one was known as the sun, the other as the moon and then there were millions of other lights known as stars. The screaming new-born seas fluctuated in some parts of the darkness, revealing the greenish brown land beneath, and the howling babe winds huffed and puffed at the bluest waves stretching both the dry land and liquid water over the remainder of the dwindling darkness.
The breezing land and water formed a concrete yet flexible globe with four hemispheres - the northern, southern, eastern and western hemispheres. And within them beautiful landscapes were formed. Some were mountains, hills, forests, deserts, grasslands, oceans, rivers and streams. But as time lapsed and the landscapes continued to expand, they met with strange beings such as Mages, royalty and the average green tunic human, the landscapes eventually evolved and developed into useful resources.
This landscape was known as the land of HanaDhulRhys – it was located in the eastern hemisphere and was divided into three cities –Hana, Dhul and Rhys. These were the names of the founders of the cities, they were known as the three Royal Brothers of Rhys, they had claimed the land as their own and shaped its’ people.
In order to continue and sustain the historical value of HanaDhulRhys to the younger generations, the Kings built sixty schools. They were made of smooth white stone and contained large libraries. These libraries shelved the records of the lands’ historical content.
The historical books declared that there were three Kings who ruled HanaDhulRhys – before it had combined and been formally called HanaDhulRhys. Each King controlled the portion of land they owned, first it was King Hana Rhys, the first born of the brothers who controlled Hana, – the city was known for its’ lush tall green mountains, they continued beyond the city boundary, expanding more than four thousand kilometers into the other known and unknown lands. The importance of the city was at the bottom of the rocky mountain edges, as this was the perfect location for quarrying and mining, – it provided the large amount of stone, gold, silver, gems and other important minerals to the well-being and economy of the entire three cities.
King Dhul Rhys, the second son ruled over Dhul, it was the city between Hana and Rhys. Majority of the land was flat and fertile – it was the ideal area to farm. Hence, the southern portions of Dhul consisted of hectares of farmland with a variety of fruits and vegetables available but the northern portion of Dhul was fairly arid almost desert like, at certain seasons the winds would blow the dust creating vicious dust storms that invaded the buildings and households on the outskirts of the city.
The third and final son was known as King Rhys Rhys, the duplication of his surname as his name was on purpose for he was blessed to receive a double portion of whatever his oldest brothers’ possessed as his birth right. But this was never as the blessings predicted.
He received less than the promised blessings. Instead of the double portions of land, he was given a rather minuscule portion of land known as Rhys. The city he governed was small compared to the cities of his brothers, but he had an advantage over them. Rhys consisted of endless blue seas and sunny, sandy beaches. There were harbours near the edges of the bays and huge trading ships, ferries and an entire army fleet that hovered in the blue waters. Although, his brothers claimed the largest lands, King Rhys Rhys believed in the blessing of his birth right, and it finally come to pass when it was proclaimed that his lineage would be the only one and current King for the entire land of HanaDhulRhys.
When the official combination of the cities had been formalised, the King of Hana and Dhul had forfeited their positions and became right hand deputies of King Rhys Rhys, their descendants still controlled the cities but the main authority belonged to the King of Rhys alone.
A formal agreement that combined all the lands was signed by the three Kings and to commemorate this spectacular event, a transparent force field was built.
It surrounded the entire land.
It protected and fenced off any trespassers from unknown and known lands. The boundary would turn electric blue when illegally touched, underneath the boundary, there were unseen, underground voltage wire-looking things that connected all four corners of the transparent wall to the centre of the land.
In the middle of HanaDhulRhys, amongst hundreds of beautiful white stoned polished buildings, stood an ugly five-hundred-meter rectangular building, it was said to be the main energy source of the entire land, it had a rustic painted look and no windows or doors – just reddish brown rustic painted bricks. The public were forbidden to enter, only senior Mages and certain royalty figures knew of the secretive entrance and had authority to enter into the building.
But moving to less secretive things of Mages and strange ugly buildings, to more friendly and daily civilian interactions.
These civilians were known as the green tunic humans, they were normal humans with normal eyes, ears, hands and – what an average normal earthly human would have except they all wore green tunics in various green shades.
These tunics identified them as average, although they were talented and skilful in various arts, crafts and complicated engineering terms but they were not Mages nor were they Ellvers, they were green tunic humans who were the life of the city.
They bustled around the tarred pathways, shouting and working with their minds, hands and feet. They were like ants marching with a mission of building the economy of the land.
Some mined with vigour, some planted into fertile soil, some sold their goods to the markets, some continued to build with saws and hammers in hand, some grumbled about their cows, some bought too much than they could carry but each and every one of them were the heart of the land and the most valuable resource the land of HanaDhulRhys could have.
But, of course there are humans who are slothful such as Rupert and Wylea. They were old and aging men, walking, not even running along the grainy pathway of a hill in Rhys.
Instead of the green tunics that everyone usually wore in HanaDhulRhys, both of them had faded green dungarees.
“Did you hear that, Rupert?” the old green dangareed man asked his twin brother as he stopped in his tracks. “It’s coming from the East.” He sniffed his nostrils towards the East, trying to snivel out the sound but all that his nostrils vacuumed was the dust of the sloped hill and the almost non-existent wind.
“It’s definitely coming from the East,” Wylea repeated to his bald twin brother, Rupert.
Rupert paid no mind to Wylea; he had known Wylea for an eternity since childbirth, his aged twin brother was always sniffing and smelling the old and new things of this world but Rupert did not care, he personally had no interest in old or new, he just wanted to fish, eat and find new complaints to hate the burning sun above his balding head.
“Darning sunlight!” Rupert grumbled, casually walking behind Wylea, he had been walking down the pathway of the dusty hill for a full thirty minutes. “Darning weadderman said it would rain today!” cursed Rupert, wiping the sweat off his brow and looking up in hatred at the scorching sun. “Whoever said yellow and warmth were feelings of happiness? Obviously dey never met me fist.” He carried on walking on the dusty slope of the hill, paying no attention to Wylea who had suddenly stopped in front of him.
Rupert accidentally bumped into his full grey haired brother from behind, forcing them both off-balance and tumbling down the hill, “Why’d you godda stop suddenly?” cried Rupert, as they rolled down the dusty hill.
They rolled down passing branches, trees and rather sharp stones.
“If my body isn’t old enough already,” Rupert grunted keeping his chest inwards and his elbows outwards as he continued to roll down the hill. They tumbled down, down pounding the ground, nearing the banks of a small river and then a scream and two large splashing plop sounds were heard in the dusty summer’s air.
It was Wylea who screamed his lungs out and landed safely into the depths of the river whilst Rupert grumbled about the sunlight being a curse and then unwillingly splattered into the water.
Both of them emerged for breath from the clear water, their brown greenish dungarees were drenched.
“Me wife will have your head,” said Rupert, angrily. He felt a small fish in his once faded green now brown dungarees, it flopped and flipped within his shirt, he tried to grab it with his hands but it slipped out and flopped back into the river. “Darnnit fish,” he cursed, spitting out a few drops of water. “Wylea, instead of me wife gedding your head, I’ma rip your old head off.”
Wylea did not respond; he was drenched from head to toe but his nostrils were still concerned on what his ears heard in the East. “There’s a strange sound from the East,” Wylea suddenly said, once again sniffing for the sound.
“I ain’t no heard none,” replied Rupert to Wylea’s sniffing, he waded his baggy dungarees towards Wylea.
Wylea stood still, trying to locate the noise with his nose, he turned his body slowly towards the East, his nostrils guiding him to the sound – it was a song, a chant, a type of sweet poem. He could not understand it, it sounded foreign almost wizardry and he never spoke wizardry nor ever heard the language known as wizardry but his sniffling assured him that this sound did sound almost wizardry. The melody moved his feet forward, it tingled his nostrils, forcing his feet to walk through the still waters of the glistening river.
“Wylea! Wylea!” called Rupert. “You horrid twin brodder! Stop your runnin’” He tried his best wading after his twin. Rupert tried his darndest to pronounce most of his ‘t’s’ in his words but somehow they would come out as ‘d’s’. “Brodder, you nasdy, nasty,” he pronounced the second nasty correctly, “Nasdy brodder! You stop dis insdant!”
But his twin brother, Wylea had already made a significant gap between them, it was the sound in the East calling him even though the current sight of the East was mostly water and birch trees on the eastern side of the river bank –he could not resist it. It gripped his nostrils in a hook and dragged him through the waters but as he was being dragged by the East sound, he was obstructed by something, it was wrapped in a sapphire coloured tunic and floated on the clear water.
It looked rather like a body, a young boy’s body.
Wylea stopped his sniffing to find the sound in the East as his chest hit the floating body. The boy’s body continued to hover in the water, he seemed dead.
“Is this the sound of the East?” Wylea gulped, disheartened by the boy’s body floating in front of him. “The East sound brings both our deaths!” said Wylea, grief-stricken as he held the boy in his arms. “It’s the East,” said Wylea sadly, accepting his guilty fate even though he had only slightly nudged the floating boy in the river.
He stared at the boy’s face, he was pale almost white and obviously dead. “Heavens and East sound!” cried Wylea, tears forming in his eyes.
“What are you on aboud?” panted Rupert, finally reaching his twin brother.
“He’s dead!” exclaimed Wylea. “I killed the innocent boy!” He held the boy in his aging arms. “I searched for the sound of the East and accidentally murdered him.”
“How’d you do that?” Rupert asked pronouncing the word ‘that’ without the usual ‘d’ sound.
“I knocked him out with my chest!” explained Wylea in despair. “Why did the heavens give me such a strong chest?” he whimpered.
“There’s nothing we can do aboud him,” Rupert said, logically. “If dis boy is dead, he is dead. We will find his parents, send our sincere apologies and den grieve with dem.” He walked closer to Wylea and the dead boy. “First we need to identify him,” he said and analysed the small body. “Look at his tunic, it’s the colour of sapphire! He’s a student Mage!” exclaimed Rupert, then he sighed miserably. “Dem Mages are difficult people, especially that Sir Ethel. Remember last week we played cards with him and he robbed us of all our coins!”
“Ah, yes,” said Wylea, recalling the events of last week. “We lost quite a few coins, but we still have to play cards with him this week,” he said, thoughtfully, forgetting all about the student Mage in his arms. “That was a lot of coins lost on that card game but I must say it was better than the previous week, we won two games even though we lost all our coins.”
“Darnn Mages!” spat out Rupert. “Darnn lost coins! But you know Wylea, we could have lady luck on our side. As me wife always says, luck is in water where dis always cool and soggy.” Rupert grinned, revealing his lack of two front teeth.
Wylea saw his twin smile and then also grinned, Wylea had all his teeth in front but his grin was shortly lived as he felt the heavy weight of the dead student Mage.
“What of the boy? I forgot all about him!” said Wylea, dismayed.
“Oh yes! Da boy!” Rupert’s memory triggered. “Well, Wylea we hav’da find his parents. We can ask Sir Ethel. We dell him we tumbled down the hill and fell in a pail of water and your robust chest killed hi –.”
Rupert was suddenly interrupted by a strange movement coming from the dead boy. The dead student Mage scratched his stomach under his sapphire tunic.
“What’s dat dead boy doing?” Rupert asked Wylea. “I dhought you killed him!”
Wylea looked down in his arms, watching the dead boy scratch and then turn his head in a snore. “I thought I killed him too,” said Wylea, confused.
Rupert grabbed the young boy from Wylea’s arms and vibrantly shook him, the young boy slanted his silver eyes open.
He still looked weary with sleep.
“Young lad, you open your eyes this instant!” Rupert growled out.
The young boy tried to open his silver eyes, but they shut again.
“Darn, young Mages!” Rupert shouted out. “Open your eyes and show some manners to the elderly!”
The young boy tried to open his eyes again as Rupert demanded but his silver eyes nodded back to sleep.
“Can you believe the likes of this young lad!” Rupert exclaimed, thrusting cold river water on the boy’s face.
The boy’s silver eyes opened a few inches wide.
“Is it raining?” he asked, yawning.
“No! It is not raining! You better open your eyes and answer why you are sleeping in the river!” Rupert grounded out.
“Half my body was hot and the other half was cold,” the young boy explained, sleepily, “the bottom half of my body was extremely hot so I sat on the bank of the river, my legs in the water enjoying the sun on the top part of my body but then I felt tired and rested my eyes for just a second.” He wiped the sleep from his eyes. “After that I don’t know what happened,” he said, lifting his heavy eyelids, trying to stare at the old man who questioned him. “I somehow landed in your arms.”
Rupert immediately dropped the boy from his arms when he heard the ridiculous explanation and then watched the young boy make a surprising splash in the water.
“You had us fretting!” Rupert scolded the boy.
The boy tried to stand in the river but his height would not allow him so he had to paddle and wade his body above the water.
“We dhought you were dead!” blurted out Rupert.
“Indeed! I thought I killed you with my chest!” exclaimed Wylea. “Your body floating and your face facing the heavens, you looked dead!”
“I am truly sorry my sleeping face looks like a dead person,” the boy apologised, trying to keep his head above the water.
“What is your name?” Rupert asked the boy.
“Grey,” the boy replied, “and yours kind, sir?”
Rupert snorted at the words the boy used. “Using that sort of flattery will get you nowhere, young lad. I am nowhere near kind and I am too old to be called sir.”
“Grandpa, will you tell me your name?” Grey asked, trying to keep afloat in the water.
Wylea chuckled and Rupert yelled, “Grandpa! You have some nerve to call me that!”
Grey stared up at the old man confused, didn’t the elderly like to be called grandpa? His mother always told him to use grandpa and grandma to old people, she told him it was polite and would win instant favour with the elderly.
“Who taught you such disrespect? Just who are your parents?” demanded Rupert.
“Drane Ethel is my father and my mother is Seera Ethel. I am plainly known as Grey Ethel, the only child of the Ethels’,” Grey replied.
“The Ethels! The root of the first Mages!” Rupert exclaimed in agony, he had missed all his ‘d’s’ in this sentence. “We have business with your fadher!”
“My father?” Grey asked, wondering what business they had with his father. It seemed like the man he called grandpa was upset by whatever business matters he had conducted with his father, he didn’t know how to deal with angry old men nor any angry people, he was just thirteen.
“I don’t know anything about my father’s business,” answered Grey quickly and he began to paddle away from the two old men. “My father and I are only related by blood, I have no dealings or any say in any of my father’s businesses,” he shouted back to the men, urgently paddling further and further away from them as he tried to reach the western side of the river bank but he was struggling to paddle, his tunic was weighing him down.
Why did scholar Mages have to wear these hefty blue tunics as uniform? He thought to himself, it was far too big and bulky for his thirteen-year-old body.
“I swear,” shouted Grey, panicky. “I have no understanding of business or retail or marketing, I have no concept of money.”
He finally reached the bank of the river, he lifted his heavy robed body up on the sandy terrain but as his mind told him to run as fast as he could, his body slumped down out of breath instead. He fell to the ground and panted, staring at the summer sky.
“I swear,” he huffed in one tired breath. “I swear, my father and I have no relation except for blood.”
He closed his eyes, trying to pace his breathing. “I don’t know him personally or anything like that.”
“Oh? Really?” A tall figure stood above him, puffs of smoke were released from what looked like a pipe in his mouth.
“Your father and you have no relation except for blood and you say you do not know him personally?” the figure questioned, removing the pipe from his mouth.
Another large amount of smoke escaped into the air.
Grey tried to open his eyes at the figure blocking out the warmth of the sun, he forced his silver eyes to squint open placing his hand over his face as the figure shadowed his eye sight. His eyes expanded at the discovery of the figure staring down at him.
The ominous figure that blocked out the sun’s rays with its foggy smoke was none other than his father – Sir Drane Ethel, First of the Mages. The head of the Mage Council, the most powerful Mage of the Century and Grey Ethel, the boy who lay tired, flat on his back; who insisted that he had no relation to the current Mage standing right above him, this young boy who had been claimed dead was his only son.