The Four Lands Of Arravan: Birthright

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Chapter Twenty-Three: It's Worth A Try

“I can’t find Annalise” Wren called breathlessly to Nerina, she was stood with Kyril consulting with him on the matter of the poison when he’d got there, his concerned face had instantly caught her attention.

“What of Andrew Monin?” she asked, redirecting her attention.

“Rowan Ackroyd and two others, humans, took him. I do not believe that Andrew is a threat for the time being”

“Why am I hearing of this only now? Did no one think to inform me of Rowan’s plan? Must I enforce an investigation into him to ensure the safety of my people? We are in a dire position as it is, without missing fugitives”

“Absolutely not. Rowan is in search of Braylen’s child, he believes Andrew knows where the infant was taken” he informed her.

“I am no in support of such reckless ventures”

“None of us has much of a choice,” he said looking to Kyril then back to her with a defeated sigh.

Disapprovingly, Nerina eyed Wren “I am guessing that Annalise was not a part of the plan and didn’t accompany them from the city?”

“Correct, she is grieving and dangerous. Wherever she is and whatever it is she plans to do, it will end badly”

* * *

In the crowd of incoming citizens of Ivory Village, cloaked and head bowed, Annalise Garrett managed to slip out unnoticed with a stolen horse.

None of the new arrivals batted an eyelid in her direction, too busy with their own tasks and none the wiser of who she was.

Wren was a lousy guardsman that was too gullible to the innocent gleam she could light up in her eyes, a talent she learnt as a child to get what she wanted especially when it came to her stubborn brother.

After overhearing a part of the conversation between Rowan and Andrew, they knew it was all falling into place.

She and Andrew assumed that with Rowan’s determination and obsession for having a family, he’d go after Braylen’s baby and with it any information or direction he could.

They had predicted he’d come for Andrew seeing as Helena was dead as well as Annalise’s own brother and with Horatio Moore on the run, Andrew was the other closest person to the inner circle of the Mati.

Andrew used it to his advantage and now they had a chance to finish what Bregan started, they could honour the Mati and be the one’s to inspire change, bringing forward a new world where humans rule.

What a time it would be, no wars or battles caused by arrogance and no arguments over power that should be in their hands.

All that was left to be done was for her to find Horatio, which luckily for her, Andrew had cleared her a path.

Annalise knew exactly where Horatio would be, she had her connections to people in every city in the Four Lands, despite Horatio’s attempts at passing through unseen, anyone new or familiar that had been away for a while was always noticed.

Her journey would be taking her to Millturn City and from there, everything would fall into place, if not then there was always a plan B.

* * *

“Do you understand now? Do you see the picture that Is being painted to be set in stone?” Vasilios asked Kaydence.

The slithering man had called Kaydence back to the museum hall and with nowhere else to go and no excuses he could use without being caught out in a lie, he had to accept the irritating invitation.

Kaydence couldn’t say he was understanding at all, at the very least he still didn’t understand why Vasilios was so adamant for him to read the damned book.

It wasn’t interesting in the slightest, save for the fact he was one of only a select few to touch it, let alone to read it, other than that it wasn’t exactly gripping,

Rule after Rule he read and after every page he turned, Vasilios would ask him the same questions but Kaydence wasn’t sure what there was to understand besides the language and the rules.

So naturally, like he did the last seven times, he replied with a stern no.

Vasilios leaned back in his seat, kicked his feet up onto the table and crossed his arms over his chest with a huff.

“Your father understood, he had quite a few interesting things to say. I suppose your brother took after your father's brains”

“What am I supposed to be understanding or seeing? I’m bored and I don’t feel like reading a book” Kaydence complained.

“If only you would read between the line, not literally although it would be amusing to see you try”

“I’ve had enough” Kaydence stated as he stood up from his chair.

“What do you know of the four stones?”

“Why?” he snapped already tired of the way it was going.

“Humour me”

Hoping that the frustration he was feeling was showing on his face, Kaydence obliged with his request “All I know are the stories the Elders of my village would talk about, but clearly they left out a few things. I now know that the Mati were their protectors and that the four stones brought prosperity to the lands. Before the war, the Lamia Rose was stolen and lost, also that the other three were taken by Ida. Without the stones, wars kept re-emerging”

“That is somewhat true” Vasilios criticised nodding his head.

“As I said, I heard most of it from stories”

Patting Kaydences empty chair, beckoning him to sit, Vasilios lips peeled back in a grin, a sly one that Kaydence didn’t trust.

“Would you like to know the true story?”

“Why are you telling me all of this and not the others?” he asked warily.

“I know you will tell them anyway, it saves me having to answer countless questions if I am to tell you. I shall use you as a messenger of sorts”

“How different could the story possibly be to the one I have heard?”

“Very. For starters, the story I have to tell takes us back further than King Helian himself” he said, the grin shrank slightly but still off-putting, a smile of someone who knows something others don’t and can’t wait to explain for the attention it draws.

“Because I was born in an age before Helian, the first fae and the humans”

“Impossible. Surely Ida would know too” he accused.

“Ida and I may seem similar in age, but I am centuries older than she. Do not let our ageless faces fool you” Kaydence was hesitant to believe him, his mother's words to be cautious around him echoed in his mind as he put together his reply.

“So you were really there?”

“I have no reason to lie?” Vasilios stated.

“Ida thought there was a race before ours that died out, there weren’t many that shared the same beliefs.”

“And did you?”

“I suppose it made sense that we weren’t the first, but then there was never any proof” he admitted.

“I like your way of thinking, you have a calculating mind. However, the proof you seek lies with me”

“Do you mean yourself?”

“As much of a relic I am, no. The evidence is before you” he said.

“You are in front of me”

The slits of Vasilios’ pupil’s narrowed “No, I have just told you that it is not me” he snapped, his index finger stabbing at the page of the book on the table.

“The book was created by King Helian”

“That is what the tales you have heard told you, the book was only added to by Helian and his trusted advisor Ida. As you near the back you can notice the writing change to one you understand, Helian could not have spoken or understood this writing here”

On the brink of confusion, Kaydence asked “Then who wrote it originally”

“I do not know exactly”

“But you said you knew” he complained irritatedly.

“I did not say I knew, I said I knew the true story but that does not include every detail.”

“So you know part of a story that could be a lie for all I know?”

“Continue with that attitude and I will not tell you” he threatened.

“Just get on with it”

Adjusting his feet on the desk, Vasilios sat back more until his entire body was balancing on the back two legs of his chair.

“The book was a part of our world when I was a boy, there were no portals or other realms back then. All of Arravan and the realms you now know were connected as one massive landmass. After the Great Light struck the earth, the ground split and divided forcing us to create barriers around our homelands that took them out of the existence of Arravan, making them only accessible by portals.”

“I thought you said you were ancient? You said you were a boy when the Great Light Struck which means you should, in theory, be around my age” Kaydence noted with scrutinising eyes.

“It was not only the Trinity War that was disrupted by the Light, it has happened before even that and more than you will ever know”

“How many times?” he challenged.

“During my lifetime, twice. But I know of one other time before my life began”

“How do you know there was another time?”

“The Talisman” he mentioned turning the page to show the inscribed disk “It speaks of a way of life that supposedly coexisted alongside the elements”

“So these people had the stones too”

“No, it does not mention the stones, simply the elements. And it does not speak of them being used either” he said.

“So what are you saying?”

“Are you familiar with a myth known as the Elementum?”

Thinking over the name, Kaydence shook his head in reply, if he had heard of it he didn’t remember.

“During Helian’s time, there was talk of the Mati being able to communicate with the stones. They would talk to them in an estranged language, few spoke of their abilities out of fear of being penalised for such unbelievable thoughts. This Talisman talks of the elements, but not as stones, but as beings. The Elementum is said to have been embodiments of the elements, spirits.”

Kaydences mind was running a mile a minute, the history and secrets of his own world had been enough to try and understand but now everything about another race and beings was rendering him speechless.

“Where does the light come into this?” he asked trying to piece it together.

“Clearly something was broken, one of the rules written in the talisman no doubt. Like the other two times, the Light reset everything and shifted the earth. Only that time something else happened. The Mati was not speaking to the stones directly, but the spirits trapped inside, the spirits of the Elementum”

“There’s people trapped in colourful, magic rocks and these Mati people that existed, talked to them?” Kaydence said, disbelief evident in his tone as well as his face.

“It is your choice whether you put your faith in this”

“What created the light?”

The corner of Vasilios lip quivered upwards as if he was restraining a smile of pride like it was his son asking questions and learning the past and not Kaydence.

Vasilios’ fingers brushed along the surface of the talisman “This did, it holds the guidelines for each and every race that lives in these lands. My people broke the rules once and so the Light split up the earth, your people broke the rules written by the Elementum in the Elder Book and so you suffered the consequences.”

“And what is the light? Is it magic?”

“Possibly, but there are things that exist in this world that have no answers.”

“What about the rest of the story?”

“Well for one, the absence of the Lamia Rose before The Greta War was my doing,” he said nonchalantly.

“How so?” Kaydence asked while Vasilios closed the book and pushed it aside.

“Is it not obvious, I can control minds. Had the dimwit not dropped the Lamia Rose and gotten caught, I wouldn’t have had to retreat from your world without them. Then of course Ida took them.”

“You just left that man to die on your behalf”

“Well, he technically was the one to steal them,” he said, brushing off the blame as if it were dust on his cloak.

“Because you were controlling him, he could have had a family, children even”

“He did” Vasilios stated “And he pleaded with the guards to spare him so he could see them again”

There were many words Kaydence wanted to scream and spit at Vasilios’ face, the irrational adverse emotions he caused by just talking temped Kaydences hands to wrap around his throat.

“I’ve used people to get things that I want, everyone has at least once in their lives. The repercussions of this may have been worse than most but the fundamental betrayal is the same” Vasilios continued on as if preaching to a fan of his work, or someone of the same mindset as his father.

“How could you do that to him, knowing he had a family?”

“Easily. It was merely an obstacle in my strive for greatness and now I have attained so much more, despite the failure of my plan back then. Everything must happen for a reason, it is the way of the world.”

“I think that I’ve heard enough,” Kaydence said making his way down the steps of the podium.

“When telling the others, be sure to leave out the location of the book and talisman”

Stopping on the bottom step, his back held firmly in Vasilios’ direction with clenched fists he spoke.

“And why should I?” his voice was retaliating, daring in a way.

He owed Vasilios nothing, so why should he keep something so important hidden from the others?

“It’s for your own safety and the safety of the others too. There is one among you that would stop at nothing to get those precious objects, I think you know of whom I speak. Be wary of her, she is not as much of a saint as she’d have you believe”

“I don’t trust a word that comes out of your mouth,” he said in reply, Kaydence knew that he couldn’t trust Ida or her ex-husband.

“Very well, but you will find it out for yourself soon enough”

“Oh, so you can tell the future now, can you” he mocked pacing to the door.

“Sadly no, just call it intuition or as you mortals call it, a gut feeling”

Leaving with a slam of the door behind him, Kaydence raised his eyes from the floor to meet Ida’s, she was heading towards him although her quick change of direction took her elsewhere.

Why was she approaching the doors, did she know about the book and talisman already? He thought to himself as he cautiously entered the main hall.

His gaze drifting to the throne, his mind couldn’t help but to draw comparisons between his dreams and reality, it was identical to the one he saw in his sleep which scared him more than it did before.

The dreams he suffered from were always too vivid and exact to what they were replicating, he could never forget the terror and pain in Mayfel’s indigo irises as the arrow sunk into his chest.

He couldn’t forget any of his dreams, even the ones he had over a year ago were still stuck in his mind, as clear as the night he had them.

Pushing his legs towards the staircase, which he too saw within the dark depths of unconsciousness, he noticed it was not as accurate as other details.

For one, there was no writing lining the sides of the carpet and no flickering candles marking the steps, it was as if it was the only way he could discern reality from his nightmares was to look for the differences, then again he could still be dreaming for all he knew.

Kaydence heard that mundanes had a test they would do to prove they were awake, they’d pinch themselves apparently, or at least that’s what Rowan had told him when he’d talked to him about his dreams.

On reaching the top steps, he halted and pinched the skin of his forearm, it changed nothing but he chose to try again just to be sure.

He could simply be hurting himself within his dream, how it was supposed to prove anything he didn’t know, nevertheless, he continued a few more times.

“Why are you pinching yourself in the middle of the hallway?” Mayfel’s voice asked.

“It doesn’t matter” he replied dropping his arms. “Where are all of the others?” he asked changing the subject.

“In their rooms, no one feels like going anywhere seeing as outside smells like a sewer and we can only go so far away from here before Vasilios has us rounded up and brought back”

“I just saw Ida heading for the collection room,” he said, hoping Mayfel would also find it suspicious.

“What were you doing there? You’ve been spending a lot of time with Vasilios lately”

“I’m not on his side or anything if that’s what you are thinking” Kaydence replied defensively.

“I didn’t say it, you did”

“Only because you were hinting at it. The man is just persistent, he wouldn’t let me leave but I will tell you about everything when I can get everyone in the same room”

“Well let’s not waste any time then” Mayfel announced stepping down the corridor, Kaydence catching up and falling into step beside him.

“Why do you think Ida was going that way, towards the collection room?” he asked then waited for Kaydences thoughts because no doubt he had some theories.

“I don’t know, but I’m going to find out soon enough” Kaydence assured but suddenly stopped in his tracks.

“Are you alright?”

“I want my mother to join us”

“But she isn’t allowed to leave the annexe” Mayfel reminded him.

“I don’t care, it’s not like she can go anywhere far away from Vasilios anyway. I don’t know why he keeps her locked up”

“It’s Vasilios, not much of what he says or does makes sense”

“Gather the others to our room, I’ll meet you all there,” he said stepping backwards, retracing his steps towards the stairs.

“Will you be alright going alone?”

“Of course, Vasilios can’t hurt me if he wants my father's cooperation”

“Be careful anyway” Mayfel noted.

“I will, I always am”

“We both know that’s a lie” Mayfel played.

“It was worth a try”

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