Pathway to Sydara: Guardian of the Gate

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XX

It was a few years later when Bellavar found Javen in Berania, another part of his past returning to him. After Javen’s reunion with Gurgan, he and his new family bought a cottage in the poor district before it was considered the poor district. His family did not need much. Alben and Javen farmed the fields while Levandra took care of the house and earned money watching over the neighbor children. Gurgan would live outside of the walls and visit Javen in secret through the culvert in the east Great Wall. Aran would visit every once in a while to give them news of the world outside of the Great Walls. It was a strange feeling of remembrance and repetition for Javen’s family as they realized living inside the walls was like living on the Abandoned Islands of the East. But they enjoyed those isolated times from back then and they enjoyed them now as well.

The day came when Javen finished his work before Alben and returned to the cottage while Levandra was also away watching neighbor children. The year was 6982, and a letter from Aran was lying on the table, announcing the birth of his first child. Javen smiled as he was lost in the joy he felt for his friend, the image of Aran’s exaggerated smile filling his mind.

“Javen.”

He turned to the voice that came from behind in a dark corner of the room. It was her.

“Bellavar,” he replied.

The woman from his past, the woman who broke his heart and had been missing for the past nearly three decades, was sitting on a chair in the shadows by the afternoon sun pouring through the window. She had not changed, her face still like an artist’s sculpture and her hair as silver as stone. She also wore the same black cloak she and the other Vidians had worn during the war.

“It is good to see you again, Javen,” she said, standing from the chair and walking into the light.

“Where’ve you been?” Javen could not find any reason to be formal with her. She was the only one of his friends in the Army of Darkness who he had not been able to find after the Battle of Berania. He was afraid she was dead, but he should have known better than to think that. She was an enigma he never understood, a witch in Vidian clothing.

“I’ve been searching for a way to finish the war the way it was meant to be finished.” She walked slowly towards him, trying to find his eyes, but he looked away. “Do you know what happened in here almost thirty years ago?”

Javen looked at her face then as if staring at the ethereal body of a spirit. “Broniton killed Vician, and we all moved on.”

A fire burned in Bellavar’s eyes, anger mixed with a refusal to accept the past. “Vician did not die. He almost did, but he didn’t. I stopped Broniton before the end and escaped with our master—”

“He is not my master!” interrupted Javen. He stared down Bellavar, his hand balling into a fist and the familiar Darkness that he hadn’t used in so long rumbling inside him like a creature banging on the bars of its cage. “Have you not noticed what has happened here? All of the Vidians are seeking peace now. I live with my wife here among the Sargenians, Virok is a general for them, and Gurgan lives the same as he did before, in his peaceful solitude. We have all moved on and we’re better for it. Vician is not our master anymore.”

Bellavar scowled at him, standing tall against the harsh words. “When I saved him, he gave me orders to take him to Vidala. He miraculously survived the long journey like the mighty god he truly was. He told me to take him to this lone mountain near the center of the dark wasteland of a country, and I did. At the top of this mountain was an unbelievable sight, two stone pillars standing several feet apart inside a cave as if placed there by the gods themselves.

“And that was when the true miracle occurred. The space between the pillars morphed and altered, making a strange blur of all the colors of the world. It was something I’ll never forget. There was a cacophony of terrible sounds as if the air was ripping like paper and the ground shook as if it was being swallowed into a bottomless pit. I thought I was going to die, but I saw that Vician was not afraid at all as if this was something he had seen before. And then everything stopped and the air between the pillars became a window into something I’d never seen before. I saw a plane of nothingness like a place where everything from the floor to the walls and ceiling was gray parchment. And I instantly knew what it was…”

Javen’s eyes slowly met the excitement bubbling behind hers.

“Sydara.”

A shock and shiver ran down Javen’s spine. “What?”

“It was Sydara, Javen!” Bellavar was smiling now as she grabbed Javen’s hands. “Then through the strange window a voice spoke to us, a voice even more powerful than Vician’s! The voice of Ziavaxe! I swear upon the blessed Darkness, it was Ziavaxe! He told us he was going to take Vician away from the world and preserve his soul inside that window. This window in the air was not just Sydara, it was a Pathway to Sydara, a portal between our world and the gods, and Vician is stuck there right now waiting for the time to return and finish the war he started.”

Javen was frozen. He could not believe any of this coming out of the witch’s mouth.

“After the pathway disappeared, I tried and I tried to reopen it later, but I couldn’t. But after all these years, I have finally learned the pathway’s secret! I have found what I must do to open it and free Vician! I just need help from my companions though. I went to Virok, but he said I was a fool. But you believe me don’t you Javen?”

Javen stared at her in disbelief. “I’m not sure if I can believe this or not, but I can’t help you, Bellavar….”

The fire returned to her eyes. “Why not!?” she screamed.

Her old companion sighed. “For the first time in my life… I am truly happy…. I have a family that I care about and cares about me. I have a home that I can feel comfortable in and live for the rest of my life.”

“Are you a fool, Javen? These people don’t know who you are!”

Javen stared at the ground. “I’m sure that if they knew that truth they wouldn’t care….”

Bellavar groaned and shook her hands in anger as she turned away from him. “These Sargenians will never accept the Darkness unless the Darkness takes them over!”

“I’m sorry, Bellavar…. I’m staying with my family….”

The witch groaned again, her face turning red as she held back a scream of annoyance. “Damn you, Javen! Damn you! I’ll go with or without you! I’m leaving at the end of this month to go back to that pathway, and Vician returns, you and Virok will be the first ones to die!” She slammed open the front door and left, stomping away, drawing eyes from all around the area outside.

Later, when Alben and Levandra returned, he would lie about Bellavar, saying a pathetic excuse of the witch being some mad woman who mistook him for someone else. They believed him readily enough. Why wouldn’t they? To them, Javen had always been the nice, gentle man they had met when Aran introduced him to them. He was a man with no dark past, no enemies or secrets as far as they knew.

The days passed then, the end of the month approaching, sweet summer days passing by without any major events. Javen told Gurgan about this encounter during one of their secret meetings, and Gurgan was as dubious about all of it as Javen was. He soon found though that Bellavar’s news was haunting him silently. The idea of Vician returning woke him up in the middle of the night, screaming and frightening Levandra. He would go about his normal days in the fields, and the thoughts of Vician would create visions all around him. Visions of burned fields and buildings, piles of corpses of innocents littering the city, seas of blood rising up to his ankles plagued him silently. He tried to hide it all from his family, reminding himself that Vician’s return could never happen, but he knew it was all in vain. He eventually decided that he would not be able to sit by and do nothing while Bellavar’s plan had any chance of success.

A few days before the end of the month, Aran visited Berania again. He brought stories of his infant boy and invitations for his friends to visit Salras sometime to see him. Any other time, Javen would have been happy to accept the invitation, but he had plans of his own. While Levandra and Alben would go to Salras to see the child, he would give the excuse that he is too busy in Berania and could not risk missing a day of work. They insisted that he come when he gave his ultimatum, but he was final with his decision and they accepted it.

Outside the Great Walls on the day of Aran’s visit, Javen met once more with Gurgan to finalize his plans. They planned to head west to this Pathway to Sydara to stop Bellavar and hopefully end it all with her death. They were whispering to each other next to Lake Berania among the trees, completely absorbed in their conversation when Aran arrived.

“Javen?”

Aran’s voice pierced their soft whispers and Javen froze in shock, immediantly aware of the danger he had just brought upon himself by talking with Gurgan. His lie of being one of the many normal Sargenians was over in that second. He could try to lie, but he knew that that would damage his relationship with Aran and the others. That was something he would not let happen.

Javen turned to face Aran, but instead of a face of intense terror that he would expect from someone who had just realized their friend was a Vidian there was a face of curiosity. “Oh, who’s your friend here, Javen?” asked the happy-go-lucky Sargenian.

And that was when Javen told Aran everything, from his rescue by Gurgan to his life in the Army of Darkness to his wandering the world to his eventual new family. He ended by telling him about Bellavar’s return and his mission to stop her. Throughout it all Aran kept on his interested face, a slightly raised eyebrow with polite nods at certain parts of the story.

“Are you angry at me now?” asked Javen when he was done. “I’m sorry that I hid that I was a Vidian all this time, but I didn’t want to lose you or Levandra or Alben. I don’t know what I’d do without all of you.”

Aran stared at Javen with his raised eyebrow. Javen was completely unsure of how he might respond, and the few moments of silence that passed felt like days. “No, I’m not mad, mate,” he said suddenly, breaking into one of his great smiles. “We all have things in our past that we regret, but I know you’re a good person, and I’ve known that from the moment I met you.”

Javen was astonished. He stared with wide eyes while Aran walked closer and stood next to Gurgan. “Nice to meet you, new mate,” said Aran while extending his hand to the Lost Vidian.

Gurgan was just as amazed as Javen, their faces mimicking each other’s perfectly. He hesitantly raised his hand, and Aran eagerly grasped it and shook it.

Aran then walked to the edge of Berania Lake, looking at his reflection for a moment. “So when are we going?” he asked, suddenly.

“What!?”

“You heard me, Javen. There’s no way I’m letting friends march their way alone to Vidala on some strange quest like this. I’m coming with you two to help. This involves me too, you know. I don’t want Vician to come back and destroy my home again now that Salras and all the other villages have recovered.”

“But, Aran, it’s too dangerous.” Javen walked towards Aran’s back.

“That’s why you two can’t go alone.” Aran turned around and showed his unique grin once more. That grin just threw away all of Javen’s doubts and fears and filled him with a sense of confidence in his and his friends’ abilities.

Their journey began later that day. Aran also gave an excuse to Levandra and Alben, saying that he decided to stay with Javen for a while in Berania and go on a sort of vacation. He had just become a father recently, so he said he deserved one. Levandra and Alben were dubious of this as well as with Javen’s excuse, but in the end they realized that they would be able to all take care of Aran’s shop in Salras and his baby without any trouble. Once they began their journey east, Javen, Aran, and Gurgan began their journey west, carrying supplies and weapons for a journey that had no visible end in sight.

Almost a month passed when they finally arrived at the border of Vidala. They had kept a constant speed that Javen was sure would have been just as quick as Bellavar’s. They had travelled west through the Harvoren Empire without any trouble. Gurgan was garbed in a cloak that shielded his appearance from others, so there were no situations involving that. Javen and Gurgan had both been to Vidala at some points in their life, but neither of them had any idea of whether Aran had been there before or not. They decided not to ask because, like Aran would say, the past is the past and has no reason to be in the present.

They continued on the last leg of their journey to the mountain that stood alone at the very center of the country. All around them the land was dry and barren with very few if any patches of dry grass. They relied on the supplies they had gathered at the last Harvoren city they were at to get through the wasteland. There were various Lost Vidians that wandered through the land, but they all seemed mindless and ignorant to the intruders to their country. Random Zauk-souls could be seen wandering, but they posed little threat as well. This was the true land of Darkness, the place that seemed to be cursed by Sarben to stay horrid and inhospitable for all time.

Then they were finally at their destination. The lone mountain rose hundreds of feet into the sky as if reaching towards the gods and pleading for their blessing. It was bare rock with no vegation on it in any way, a spire piercing the sky. At the very top, barely visible by human eyes, was a precipice that looked over all of Vidala and could probably see miles and miles in the distance. The cave at this precipice was their destination, the place that Bellavar claimed held a Pathway to Sydara.

A clear path wrapped itself along the sides of the mountain, a snake-like road that promised to lead to the travelers’ dooms. Hours passed as Javen and the others climbed this mountain, the path steep enough to exhaust them, but flat enough to make them feel like they were barely making any progress. They eventually rested as night fell as they readied themselves for the ending of their journey.

The next day, their journey was over. They reached the precipice and saw the cave that promised Vician’s return. It was several feet high and wide. The three carefully approached the entrance and took up hiding spots on both sides, Javen and Gurgan on the left while Aran was on the right. Weapons were drawn, and the air was tense. Javen peered around the corner.

It was just as Bellavar described. The cave was a large round area with two stone pillars at the opposite end that reached up towards the top of the room that hid in shadows. The pillars looked like they would function as a path to another room, but there was no other way in or out of the cave except for the entrance. Javen could not imagine a human making these tall, perfectly smooth pillars. This truly was forged from the gods.

After he stopped admiring the pillars, he noticed Bellavar and another person. They both looked like ants next to the gigantic beauty of the pillars. The other person was an old man with his hands tied behind his back as he sat on his knees with his back bent forward. What shocked Javen the most though was the noise he heard. It was Bellavar…. She was crying.

“What did I do wrong, Master?” she sobbed to herself. “I was so sure about this. I thought the Pathway would open if I had a sacrifice for it. It makes sense! I can’t take a soul out without giving a soul in return.”

Was all of this a mistake then? Javen wondered this. Had he really travelled all this way just to see Bellavar’s failure?

He shook his head to escape these thoughts as he saw Aran leaving his hiding spot, making slow, deliberate steps into the cave with his eyes staring distantly at the pillars. “Aran?” whispered Javen fiercely, afraid for his friend. “What are you doing?!”

Bellavar suddenly turned around, somehow instantly aware of the intruders. “Who’s there!?” she shouted as she squinted towards the Sargenian walking in.

It all went downhill then. A crack shook the air like a lightning bolt striking the mountain. A humming then began as everything was shaking like an earthquake began for no reason. Javen and Gurgan, without thinking, ran in together to try to grab Aran, but they stopped short at the amazing sight they beheld between the pillars.

The description Bellavar gave before of the Pathway to Sydara gave the real thing no justice. All of the colors of the known universe, ranging from the darkest dark to the brightest white, swirled in the air between the two pillars. The air itself morphed and shook as if it became a manipulative solid and the gods were pulling it this way and that. Rocks fell from the ceiling as the world shook around them all, but no one could tear their eyes away from the chaos happening between the pillars. Then the shaking gradually decreased in its violence, and the colors stabilized into a grayness that seemed to measure the new found calm that appeared in the atmosphere. The humming became a soft background noise. The gray air stretched out to the pillars and became a window into a world of nothingness, to the world of Sydara.

Then just as everyone was regaining their composure and remembering that they were still in the real world, an earth shaking deep voice erupted from the Pathway. “Greetings, Laryan child. The Pathway opens for you.”

Javen had no idea what the voice meant, but Aran was staring with a shocked face towards the gray window. “I can’t believe it,” Javen heard Bellavar say as if she was swearing.

“What did you do, Bellavar?!” asked Javen, remembering the urgency of everything, forcing himself to ignore the beauty of what he was seeing.

“It was not me, Javen!” shouted Bellavar. “I just realized it all though. The Pathway only opens for the ones the gods have blessed. Vician was blessed long ago by Ziavaxe, and so it opened for him. I had never thought of it like that though. That means that it will also open for the ones blessed by Sarben….”

Javen understood it all then now as well. Aran was a—

Bellavar took advantage of Javen’s distraction and attacked him with the lightning of Darkness. Javen raised his hands to defend himself, but he soon saw that that was not needed. A bright white Light appeared in front of him and acted as a shield. Javen closed his eyes against it, but the Light stood firm and the Darkness could not damage it in any way.

When Javen reopened his eyes, he saw the room was illuminated by Light. He turned to Aran and saw that his friend was shining like a torch, the white fire of Light enveloping his body. It was true.

Aran was a Sargen.

The Sargen burning with Sarben’s Light turned to Javen and smiled that smile that Javen could never forget. “I’m sorry that we have all kept our secrets, Javen,” he said, his normal voice seeming out of place next to his god-like appearance. “I always knew I was a Sargen, but I never thought it would be a big deal. Now according to the Pathway though I am a Laryan descendent. I guess I’m the heir to the Ravillan throne. I wonder how the wife would react to that.”

The words were spoken so simply that everyone stood silently in awe. Both Javen and Gurgan stared in shock at Aran, unable to believe it.

“NO!” Bellavar’s voice broke the silence and more Darkness flew at Javen and his friends. Aran’s Light seemed to easily evaporate the Darkness without him even thinking about it.

“Enough!” The room shook again as the voice from the Pathway yelled. Everyone stopped. “What is requested from Sydara?!”

“Give me Vician back!” yelled Bellavar before anyone else could respond.

Aran turned to Bellavar, his eyes becoming stern and serious. Javen ran towards her, sword ready. He could not let Vician return.

“It’s too late, Javen!” yelled Bellavar, an excited grin coming onto her face. “Once the Pathway opens it will not close without a sacrifice!” She pulled out a sword that was sheathed at her waist and began battle with Javen.

The Pathway began to hum loudly once again, and the grayness morphed into the many colors again as the air danced its chaotic dance. Javen and Bellavar clashed weapons, adding to the cacophony echoing off the walls of the cave. The tied-up man began to panic, pleading for someone to untie him and let him escape. Gurgan was watching Aran though as Aran stared into the Pathway again.

While the world was coming to an end, Aran appeared to stay calm and made his decision. “Gods of Sydara!” he yelled, his voice uncharacteristically becoming the commanding tone of a king. “Hear my plea! Close this Pathway and take my soul as recompense!”

Javen and Bellavar froze, their blades seizing their movements. “Aran, no!” yelled Javen as he frantically ran to his friend.

Aran marched forward to the Pathway, large deliberate steps, the steps of someone who has accepted their death. The tied-up man stood in front of him then as if he had finally found his courage. “Your Majesty,” he said as he fell down to one knee. The man looked ragged and had a wild beard. No one would have been able to assume how long he had been Bellavar’s prisoner. “I am a native Ravillan. The kingdom needs its king. Please! Let me be the sacrifice instead of you!”

Aran smiled at the man in a smaller smile that still gave the same joy as his other smiles. “I couldn’t let someone else die if I could let them live,” he said. “I’m just a Salrasian. I think Ravilla would deserve someone better.”

Javen arrived behind Aran with tears rolling down his face. The man looked saddened at Aran’s words, but Javen could sense a small bit of relief in his face. This man probably had a family back home who needed him, but so did Aran!

“May I at least inquire for your name, Ravillan King?” asked the man as he stayed kneeled.

“It is Aran,” replied the newly discovered king. “Now just stand up already, mate.”

The man looked surprised as he rose. “I shall spread word of your heroic act here today, your Majesty!” He moved out of Aran’s way.

“Aran, stop!” Javen couldn’t fight back the sadness that was threatening to overwhelm him as tears blinding him.

Aran turned to Javen, the Light burning around him making him look like the idea of Sarben himself. “Javen, I’m not letting you die either. Levandra would kill me. And oh, since I’m a king apparently, I don’t want my boy knowing he’s royalty. It’d give him a big head probably.”

Javen felt as if his life was fading out of him as his friend spoke for the last time. He couldn’t help feeling that this was all of his fault. He should have forced Aran to stay back in Salras. It was unbearable. He was shaking as he bawled.

The morphing Pathway reached out to Aran then. It grabbed him and ethereal energy was pulled out of him slowly as if he was pouring out his life. Javen watched every painful moment as Aran’s smiling body began to lose its Light and die.

Bellavar was there then as well, but she appeared to have accepted the hopelessness of everything. She was crying once again, knowing that she had lost Vician again. She ran from the cave, and neither Javen nor Gurgan had the will to stop her.

And then it was over. Javen helped Aran’s soulless body gently onto the ground as the Pathway’s energy faded and disappeared entirely. With Aran’s death, Javen felt an emptiness similar to what he had felt back after the Vician War. This life was too cruel. The gods took everything without considering the humans’ feelings and emotions. There were always times where he would dream of doing something to change it all, but in moments like this, he could care less.

After this horrific event in Javen’s life, he returned to Berania, lied about how Aran died, kept Aran’s Ravillan blood a secret, and attempted to return to a normal life. He had barely known Aran’s wife, but after this tradgedy she never wanted to see him again. Levandra continued to respect Javen, her innocence keeping him from complete madness, but Javen could see the growing distrust in Alben’s eyes. Through Alben’s eyes, Javen was a stranger who took Alben’s friend to a mysterious death. That was something no one would ever be able to forget.

It was not the first time in his life where Javen could not sleep at night. Levandra helped him to forget about his troubles for a little while, but when she fell asleep next to him at night he would wake up in the middle of the night to stare at the ceiling. He knew this world may never be safe as long as that Pathway existed, as long as someone was still working to bring back Vician. He knew he could never be safe; Alben would never be safe; Aran’s child; Levandra….

There was another threat to his peaceful world that he knew he could deny no longer. Bellavar was the obvious evil who did not hide her true intentions, but the other one disguised himself. This threat became the general of the enemy’s army.

Virok.

Javen could not accept that Virok of all people would have changed his ways like he did. It was impossible to believe. The determination that always burned in Virok’s eyes was another factor that kept Javen up at night. Virok had the same will power and beliefs for a better world as Vician did. What was to stop him from becoming a new Vician even if he denied help to Bellavar’s attempts to resurrect the original Vician?

It all made perfect sense to Javen. Virok was not a Vidian seeking redemption from the world of Light. He was looking for a chance to finish the war that the Vidians refuse to accept has ended. Berania was the bane of Vician, the only threat to the Great Darkness’s takeover of the world. If this city was under Vidian control then…

Javen didn’t want to think about that. He didn’t want to return to the old life in the Darkness. He had to stop this now before it was too late.

A few months later, Javen and Gurgan hid in the shadows outside of the Beranian Castle at dusk. Another lie kept Levandra at bay as Javen snuck away from his home. It was around this time that Levandra was growing steadily more pregnant, and as her child grew so did Javen’s determination in creating a peaceful world for it through violence. They made their way into the castle by becoming one with the shadows, and it wasn’t too long before Javen found Virok wandering the halls of the castle.

Virok walked with perfect posture and confidence beaming from him. He was always sure of himself, and it made Javen remember their past together. What had happened to him to make him think of murdering an old friend? He blamed the madness of the world on his actions. He was doing this for his family.

Javen emerged from the shadows while Gurgan stayed back to keep watch on any approaching guards. Virok stopped in his march and turned slowly to face Javen. “So it’s come to this, Javen?” he asked with a small smile.

Javen was sure he would have the element of surprise, but Virok had been able to sense his Darkness easily. Virok was always Vician’s best man, Javen had to admit. “I’m sorry, Virok,” he said, “but I can’t accept that you’ve turned over a new leaf. I need to stop the Vician War once and for all.”

General Virok raised an eyebrow. “So I guess some could guess at my plans, but I have to say I’m disappointed in you, Javen. Remember all we went through? We fought together in the name of Darkness. You don’t raise a blade against a war companion.”

Javen raised the dagger he held in his right hand. “I’m sorry, Virok.” He charged at Virok then, ready to kill him, ready to end it all, but he realized too late how futile it all was. Virok, even though he wore no armor, was not afraid of any weapons. He grabbed Javen’s hand before the dagger could pierce his chest and threw him onto the ground.

Javen groaned as he landed hard on the ground. He was a fool. He had been living a peaceful life, growing weak as he grew older and forgetting the basics of combat. Virok had stayed in his prime, refusing the demands of age. Being a general had kept him in perfect shape while Javen’s muscles grew loose. He cursed himself as Virok slammed a foot on his chest.

“Javen, you fool,” said Virok as he stood over Javen, “I knew ever since the moment you stepped into Vician’s tent that you would never surpass me. I have inherited our master’s will, the will of Ziavaxe to rebalance this world. You’re just another one of the thousands of Vidians in the world, complaining about the unfairness of their life. None of you could ever know what true pain is as my master and I do! While you all cry on your knees and pray for the night to come, Vician and I were the ones starting it all! We set these plans in motion, and one of us will carry them out!”

Another dagger was unsheathed at Virok’s waist and came down on Javen, piercing his stomach. Virok’s other hand covered Javen’s mouth, silencing his screams and moans. “Bleed out, you traitor, I will watch you die.”

Muffled yells came beneath Virok’s hand as Javen shouted in anger and pain.

“So then if you’re here then most likely you have family here….” Virok smiled a smile that showed evil intent. “I’ll have to get rid of them as well if they have your rebellious spirit!”

Virok’s blade was ready to come down on Javen’s face, but Gurgan appeared just in time. The small, hunched Lost Vidian slammed himself into Virok, knocking him off of Javen. He was instantly on top of Virok, but Virok was still in charge. The Beranian General kicked Gurgan off of him before Gurgan could do any serious damage. When Virok stood up again he only had a few cuts and tears through his clothing with one major wound across his stomach.

“Damn you, you Lost One!” shouted Virok as he charged towards Gurgan again.

Their weapons clashed again and again while Javen struggled to his feet. Blood poured out of his wound in great amount, making him dizzy. No! I must stop Virok! His thoughts yelled inside of him. But before he could do anything more, unconsciousness overcame him. The last image he saw was Gurgan running towards him with the intention of running away, but Javen argued unintelligibly as he was dragged away into the shadows.

“So you see, Ziaxe, at that moment, Gurgan and I became enemies of both sides of this war. Virok had the influence over the Sargenians to influence them that I was a criminal, and the Vidians in hiding learned that I was a traitor.”

Ziaxe had been listening to everything intently, every new part of the story another secret of his father he would have never learned otherwise.

“Gurgan saved my life like the guardian he has always been to me and then to you as well. He brought me back to the poor district, and that’s when I first met Alavar. The professor had arrived not too long ago, and he treated my wound without even knowing my name.

“Everything became fairly quiet again as Virok seemed to assume that I was dead. He may have also seen me as a threat to his reputation. If rumors of a Vidian attacking him arose then people would begin to talk and wonder why anyone would try to kill him.

“I played it safe though and kept to the poor district and stayed alert for possible danger from Virok. I began considering moving once again, but we had to at least wait until Levandra gave birth.

“And so, we come to the end of this story. You know it all up to this point now. Levandra gave birth to you and died. It was only until later in my life that I would learn that I was a Nizain descendent which explained that she died of the Curse of the Nizain. Gurgan and I had to run away to Salras because I couldn’t risk Virok learning about you.

“I hope after all of this you can find it in your heart to forgive me at least a little bit. I’m here for you now… my son….”

The words gave Ziaxe a warmth he had never felt before. There were things that he had trouble accepting of his father’s story, but he was just happy to have learned he had more family in the world. He was speechless though, unsure of what to say, so he simply nodded.

“Okay, Ziaxe.” Javen looked away towards the city of Salras. He stood up from the tree stumps they had been sitting on. “I think it’s time for us to tell the world the Nizain is back.”


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