The Hour Book3 Chapter 5

The trial did indeed start promptly at noon. Glyph and Mahjdi had been allowed access to Ishea for several hours prior to the start of the trial, and they had spent that time questioning her on every last detail about her encounter with, and eventual murder of, Verto.

The trial began with a six-member board of judges, named Guarantors, entering the court and taking their seats. There were seven raised daises; a slightly taller one flanked by three shorter ones on each side. Each dais had a seat with swinging pulpits that were pulled in front of the judges as they sat down. Glyph couldn’t help but notice that the last seat on the left side was unoccupied. Next, the lead prosecutor entered, announced as High Invictor, who was none other than Solkit himself. As Mahjdi had explained it, Solkit investigated Verto’s murder before he had been appointed to high priest, thus enabling him to prosecute the case as Invictor; otherwise he would have served as Lead Guarantor.

“Why are there seven seats, and only six judges?” Glyph whispered to Mahjdi, as they followed Solkit into the courtroom.

“Each of the six lower diases represents an order of service within the monastery. The empty one on the left belonged to the Bibliots. Apparently the seat was never removed after we were restricted to the repository. The middle seat is for the Lead Guarantor, which would normally be the High Priest. In this case however, the most senior member of the board of Guarantors has moved to that seat, and a junior guarantor is representing that order.” Mahjdi whispered back, just as two monks escorted Ishea to the front in chains, with her silver manacles locked firmly in place.

Glyph had just sat down, when a commotion outside the main door caught his attention. The oversized doors were then opened and to Glyph’s surprise, king Rokka of Deltur entered the room with two guards. They walked confidently to the front and took the first row of seats, usually reserved for witnesses of the prosecution. ‘Why would Rokka be here?’ He wondered and noted that the seafaring king would not make eye contact with him.

Finally the witnesses entered, followed by friends and family of the accused, namely Lobrein, Miatsu, Morracor, and Prianna. The rest of the seats were then filled with anyone who was interested in the trial itself. Needless to say the house was packed. It seemed everyone in the monastery had wished to see the trial of the millennia, the first in history to try a sorcerer.

For the next hour, Solkit presented his case. One by one the witnesses rose and told what they had seen on the day of Verto’s murder. It had happened just as Ishea had described it to them. She had been seen entering the High priest’s chambers, and then left about an hour later carrying a leather-bound book. She had gone immediately to the stables, retrieved her horse, and left the city. Verto, burned to a crisp, was discovered by an aide a short time later. “The sorceress Ishea was the last one to see him alive, and the only one with the capability of destroying Verto in this manner.” Solkit concluded.

“Very well, Invictor. You may now be seated.” The Lead Guarantor stated. “The case is set, the sorceress Ishea is guilty. Are you prepared to prove otherwise Counselor?” he then asked of Glyph and Mahjdi.

“We are, sir Guarantor.” Mahjdi replied as he stood.

“You may proceed.”

“Thank you, sir Guarantor. This case is unique, for in the entire history of M’atran civilization, there has never been a sorcerer who has been brought before this court. The Invictor has done his job, and the facts he has brought before you are not in dispute. Ishea did indeed murder Verto.” Mahjdi stated.

A dead silence spread across the court. “Counselor, if the facts are not in dispute, then why are you here?” One of the Guarantors responded.

“It is not the facts of the murder we intend to prove, but the reason behind them. We intend to prove that the reason the sorceress Ishea murdered Verto was for the greater good of the whole of M’atra.” Mahjdi said.

This time a collective gasp could be heard. Glyph could tell by the looks he got that the sheer audacity of this claim would not be taken well. Ishea was brought to the stand and through a series of carefully placed questions told the court her side of the events leading to Verto’s murder.

When Ishea had finished, Mahjdi sat down. Glyph took his place and began to speak. “To understand this murder we must have a thorough understanding of the nature of the book in question. The book itself, known as The Tome of Dark Lore, is unlike any known to this world. It is in fact of demonic origins; I have come to learn that this book was written thousands upon thousands of years ago by the father of all demons, Morgus. Albast found this tome directly after the first war with Drathus. Albast shared his discovery with Verto, along with Lobrein and Drayden, and between the four of them, they hoped to ascertain more information about the demons. What they discovered however was no ordinary book, but a magical tome. The reader would see something different on the book’s pages every time they were viewed, and it would show only what the reader most needed to know at that time.” Glyph paused, to ensure everyone had followed what he had just said.

There was a problem however, one that did not immediately reveal itself; the Tome was evil. And though it appeared to be a godsend, revealing prophecy, spells, incantations and the like, it held a distinctly evil twist. It would only reveal these things if they served its own purpose, and after it enthralled the reader through its own addictive ways, it would cease to show anything, and the pages would appear blank. The High Priest and the three Sorcerers did not know this, and were soon bound by the Tome’s addictive properties.” Glyph shuffled his papers together and looked around. He could tell by the Guarantors’ speculative glances that they did not believe what he was saying, but he continued anyway.

“The four studied the book together, for they discovered that the prophecy became more generic when they did so. They were looking to the future to see what lay ahead of them in order to protect this world, but eventually the Tome was studied in private by each of them. In their individual studies, they discovered things that pertained only to them and their own futures. Realizing this, Albast hoped to take the book and lock it away, but alas passed away with the Tome opened before him. Verto, discovering Albast’s lifeless corpse, and already under the evil Tome’s influence, stole the book for himself where it remained in his possession for the next thousand years.”

“So, what happened?” Glyph continued, ignoring the murmurs from the crowd. “Did the sorcerers simply disband after their leader’s death, as most historians have assumed? No. Lobrein and Drayden had already made plans to travel to what they thought was the demon home world, led to believe that their actions were part of the prophecy they had discovered within the pages of the Tome. They took it upon themselves to go in secrecy to discover their enemy’s plans in order to protect M’atra from future invasion. They never noticed that the Tome was missing, and after burying Albast, entered the portal in Degruthra and traveled to the alien world. Verto was left with the Tome of Dark Lore, and using its arcane knowledge began his own quest for power and dominance, even at the price of his own soul.”

With that, an eruption took place among the monks in the back of the court, and several of them were escorted from the room. Glyph even caught looks from Lobrein and Ishea with that last statement, as Miatsu, Morracor, and Prianna looked forward with renewed interest.

“You do understand that this is all heresy, Counselor. We will require proof of your derogatory accusations.” The Lead Guarantor stated.

“In good time, your excellence. May I continue?”

The Lead Guarantor eyed Glyph warily, then nodded his approval.

“Over the years, Verto spent more and more time with the evil Tome. When he realized that the Tome was showing him less and less, he began to write down the things he discovered within its pages. By the time Ishea discovered that I was being held captive and tortured by Drathus, and brought me here to M’atra, many of this world’s prophecies were coming to a head. Indeed, after I slayed Drathus in the second war of Drathus and had been sent back to my home world, most of them had been fulfilled or proven false; and little prophecy remained except for a few mentions of my return.”

“So you see, sir guarantor, Verto had nothing to go on when he realized that in accordance with prophecy, I had defeated Drathus, and then disappeared. The ancient prophecies that remained were those that had come directly from the Tome of Dark Lore. These were the prophecies they had all seen together. By the time this had come to pass, the Tome would no longer reveal itself to Verto, so out of desperation he showed it to Ishea. He opened the book in her presence in hopes of uncovering something new, something he might only see in the presence of another sorcerer; something to use in his quest for power. But Ishea was only interested in discovering a way to open the portal to Earth, to save me, and when the Tome only revealed to them instructions for opening the portal, Verto became incensed. The spell meant nothing to him, especially since he had seen it before, and already had a copy in his journal. Having no further use for Ishea, he quickly closed the book and put it away. When Ishea asked him for the Tome, Verto refused. He had, during his unnatural thousand-year lifespan, grown callous, self-serving, and corrupt. Ishea begged him for the book, so that she could use the spell she had seen to save me, but Verto would not let the Tome pass from his possession; for he was completely under the Tome’s evil influence. When Ishea came to this realization, she felt there was no other recourse. Verto had revealed himself, and Ishea destroyed him, and took the Tome of Dark Lore, not for herself, as she was not yet influenced by its touch, but to use for the greater good of M’atra, and to keep it safe so that no one else might succumb to its evil purposes.” Glyph concluded, and sat down.

That was a very interesting interpretation of our history, Counselor. It would be very disturbing were it true, but the burden of proof is yours, and as of yet, I have seen none.”

Mahjdi then stood and requested Lobrein to take the stand. He took great lengths to question her about her deeds and service to the world of M’atra, until, at the Guarantors urgings, he cut to the heart of the matter. He asked her about the Tome, and its evil nature; all of which she confirmed. Then he asked her about Albast.

“Drayden and I found Albast slumped over his desk in his quarters at Toleth’va. We both searched for the Tome, but could not find it and assumed, as Albast had suggested, that he had hidden the Tome to protect other innocents from discovering it. The other sorcerers and I took his body to the war-ravaged city of Muret, and buried him in a tomb we created amongst the ruins. Drayden and I left for Degruthras that same night.” Lobrein replied.

“And you told no one of your departure, or of your plans?”

“No, we did not realize that the time differentials were so great between the two worlds. For me, only thirty-five years have passed since Albast’s death.”

“And what of the Tome of Dark Lore?”

“I did not know it was missing, or in the possession of Verto.” Lobrein stated.

“Were you surprised to learn that Verto had lived for nearly a thousand years upon your return?”

“Yes, I was. Only a sorcerer can live past a normal lifespan, which to my knowledge has never been more than one hundred and fifty years.” Lobrein answered.

“One last question, sorceress.” Mahjdi said, pausing dramatically. “Did you ever write down anything you saw in the Tome of Dark Lore?”

“I did take down notes near the end. Especially those things the Tome revealed to me personally. It became a necessity of studying the Tome, for it may show you something only once, and the next time you look for it, the book would reveal something different, or nothing at all.”

“Oh, and just out of curiosity, if the Tome showed you a spell that you knew you could not perform, would you have written that down as well?” Mahjdi asked as Lobrein prepared to return to her seat.

“I may have, but only if I thought I could use it in the future.” Lobrein replied quizzically, then stepped down as Mahjdi thanked her.

“Again, all very interesting, but where is your proof?” One of the Guarantors called out.

“You would not take the word of the sorceress Lobrein?” Mahjdi answered carefully.

“Must I remind the Counselor that the witness has a vested interest in the freedom of the accused. She does indeed corroborate the story you have presented, but it does not count as a fulfillment of the burden of proof.” The Lead Guarantor stated once more.

Glyph stood again. “As Counselors of the accused, we propose that the proof is contained in Verto’s own writings, specifically those he has copied from the Tome of Dark Lore itself.”

“I have seen no such writings, Counselor.” The Guarantor replied. “Invictor, have you seen the writings of which the Counsel speaks?”

“I have not, your excellence.” Solkit responded.

“Have you looked for them?” Glyph asked, and quickly continued. “Since you only just now learned that they may, or may not exist, how would you know to look? I would propose that we adjourn to the High Priest’s chambers and search for them.” Then with a nod toward Solkit he said, “They may have been overlooked.”

Several of the Guarantors began whispering among themselves, as the Lead Guarantor called for order. “This is a very unusual request.”

Mahjdi spoke up. “Everything about this trial is unusual, your excellence. This court has suggested that evidence may exist that was previously unknown to be of relevance. Are you willing to risk the life of the sorceress Ishea, sworn protector of M’atra, because you are unwilling to look again?”

The Lead Guarantor glared harshly at Mahjdi. “High Invictor, what are your thoughts on this request?”

“We are not opposed, Lead Guarantor. In all fairness, the Counsel of the Accused has had only limited access to the crime scene.” Solkit replied.

The Lead Guarantor sighed. “Very well. To be fair, the chamber will be searched again for this information. This court will reconvene in one hour.”

“With all due respect your excellence,” Mahjdi interjected. “The deceased High Priest Verto is elevated by some to sainthood, and has reached martyrdom status among the peoples of Priam. The Counsel of the Accused wishes to be present during this search, to assure that some overzealous monk does not hide, or destroy, any evidence that may taint Verto’s reputation.”

The Guarantor shook his head back and forth and sighed again. “Agreed.” He stated grudgingly, as the six-member panel of judges stood and left the room, followed quickly by Solkit, and then Glyph and Mahjdi. Glyph turned and winked at Ishea as they were led from the court directly to Verto’s chambers.

Reaching the chamber a short time later, Solkit undid the lock, and opened the door. Glyph tried to read the High Priest’s face for some faint trace of a sign, but the monk’s face was rigid, like stone. The Lead Guarantor stepped into the room, as two assistants began lighting the torches on the wall. “Invictor, please explain to the Counselors what is involved in cataloging a crime scene.” The Guarantor asked, as Solkit, Glyph, and Mahjdi made their way through the doorway.

“First, sketches are drawn up showing relative positions of the evidence to the location of the actual criminal act. While that is taking place, the rest of the room is being cataloged, and examined thoroughly for evidence. Every sheet, and every scroll on his desk, has been carefully documented.  There are exactly nine hundred and thirty-three bound books on the shelves that line this room. All of which were taken down, recorded, searched, and replaced. I can tell you everything about this room just from what has been written down about it.” Solkit explained.

“I see you were quite thorough.” Mahjdi said, studying Verto’s polished stone desk intently. He cocked his head slightly to the left and looked directly at Solkit. “Some monks have extraordinary talents. Do you agree, Invictor?”

“Yes?” Solkit replied appearing somewhat confused by Mahjdi’s question.

Take the order of Seers. They are a marvelously gifted group. I once read that some of them can even see through solid objects.” Mahjdi commented, stealing a look at Glyph.

“I would have hidden it.” Glyph stated quickly to the Lead Guarantor after catching Mahjdi’s glance.

“What is that?” The Lead Guarantor questioned.

“I said, I would have hidden anything I had recorded from the Tome. Could you imagine what dark secrets might be exposed about someone?” Glyph continued.

“I am not here to speculate. I am here to see that the room gets searched to your satisfaction, so that our trial may continue.” The Judge stated, and gestured toward the two servants now standing at the ready nearby. “Where would you like them to start?”

“Mahjdi, is that true?” Glyph asked, ignoring the Lead Guarantor’s question.

Mahjdi turned questioningly toward Solkit.

“It is true, there are several in my order that have that ability.” Solkit replied.

“So you are a member of the Seer order?” Mahjdi asked.

“I was, but now that I am High Priest I no longer hold affiliation with any of the six orders.”

“High Priests are usually gifted in some way right? I mean I’ve seen Verto do some pretty amazing things.” Glyph asked casually.

“Oh yes, Great One.” Mahjdi quickly replied. “It rather goes with the title. Priests elected to High Priest always have an unusually high level of magical ability, for a M’atran. Their level of power is far below that of any sorcerer, of course.”

At that point the Guarantor, tired of being ignored, coughed several times loudly. When he caught Glyph’s gaze he pointed at the servants. “Where would you want them to start?”

“You know, I’ve been thinking, and I think that I would have sunk that down into the floor, or into the wall or something if I were hiding it.” Glyph said.

“The High Priest cannot ‘sink’ things into the floor.” The Guarantor stated.

“Are you sure?” Glyph asked. “I’ll tell you what, the Counsel for the Accused will forgo the usual search if you get some of those Seers Mahjdi was talking about to scan this place from top to bottom for any hidden areas in the furniture, ceilings, walls or floors. I bet two or three guys could cover this room in under an hour.”

Solkit made his way over to the Judge. “Perhaps they are right your excellence, several Seer’s could search the room rather quickly, and the trial could resume in a timely fashion.” The Guarantor sighed, and pointed to the two assistants. “Go, retrieve five members of the Seer order who have such an ability.” He ordered, and the monks hastily exited the room.  About five minutes later a small group of brown-robed monks with yellow sashes filed in. Solkit gave them a quick set of instructions, and they began their search.

Each monk took a wall of the chamber, with one on the floor. They each placed one hand to the surface and their other hand over their eyes, just as Glyph had seen Solkit do. Now there was nothing left to do but watch and wait. Glyph tried hard to avoid looking directly at the hidden niche wishing he could just point at it and get it over with, but as Mahjdi had explained to him earlier, it would be best if they found the journal on their own.

After about twelve minutes had passed, Glyph could see one of the Seers edging closer and closer to the spot, so he turned his back to watch another monk search the wall to the right. It seemed Solkit too was taking great pains to avoid watching the hidden niche be discovered.

“Here. There is something here in the wall.” The one monk called out, as they all turned to face him.

“What is it?” The Guarantor questioned, while they gathered in close around him.

“A book perhaps?” The monk said uncertainly.

The spot was hurriedly marked, and a mason was summoned to the chambers to remove the rock. Solkit had put on a worried face, and the Guarantor was also sweating a bit more than usual, it was obvious to Glyph that the judge had not expected to find anything there. During this time the other Guarantors had been led into the room and shown the evidence, all of whom wanted to be present when the cavity was opened. The room was packed by the time the stonemason had arrived and began to chisel the rock. A messenger had been dispatched to the court informing them of the situation, and to ask for their patience.

Roughly an hour had passed when the mason finally broke through into the small cavity in the rock, and withdrew Verto’s hand written journal. Solkit took the journal directly to Verto’s desk and opened it. The other Guarantor’s, Mahjdi, and Glyph, crowded around to study its pages.

“I have seen enough of Verto’s writings in my lifespan. That is his handwriting, would you agree Invictor?” Mahjdi prodded.

“Yes, it does appear so.” Solkit replied, seeming to pick his words carefully.

The air seemed electric around them, a mixture of awe and wonder over the lost writings of their High Priest. Every page Solkit read aloud stirred differing opinions, and speculation. When they reached the page where Verto had prophesized his own death, and incorrectly decided it would be Glyph or Albast, the room practically boiled over. The Lead Guarantor had to shout to bring the others back in line, as Solkit continued. Glyph knew what the next page held, and bit his cheek to keep from opening his mouth. As Solkit read the spell of life extension through human sacrifice, the room fell deathly quiet. The mood in the chamber fell from excitement, to disbelief, and finally to revulsion, as the other Guarantors began to realize how their High Priest had become corrupted by the power of the Tome of Dark Lore.

Solkit read the last few pages, and closed the journal. Glyph felt a profound sorrow for the monks who had been eager to see the death of their high priest avenged, only to realize that what Glyph and Mahjdi were saying had been correct all along. Not one of them lifted their gaze to match Glyph’s, as the Lead Guarantor called for everyone to return to the courtroom. They filed out in silence one by one, with Glyph and Solkit bringing up the rear.

When they reached the court, the Lead Guarantor called for a short recess so the six of them could study, and discuss, this new evidence. It had gone remarkably smoothly, though Glyph decided Solkit had played his own part in making it go that way. Glyph still had trouble wrapping his mind around Solkit’s actions. Why hadn’t he simply brought the book out himself? He must have had an ulterior agenda or some other ultimate purpose in mind. He decided that he would watch Solkit closely. Glyph had a feeling Solkit’s motives would soon be revealed, now that Verto’s journal had been made public.

A half hour later, the Guarantors filed back into the courtroom and took their seats. “We as monks know the value in discerning the truth. We have on occasion staked our lives on our understanding of truth. Sometimes, the truth we know is not the whole story, and when focused on one chapter, we swear that we know what truth is. But, it is not until we read the whole story that we realize that our one chapter has been affected by the others before and after it. And it is then that we must come to terms, rise above our own fears and prejudices and admit that what we thought was true for us, was not true for the whole world.” The Lead Guarantor stated, and paused. “What we have discovered this day has shaken the very foundations of Toleth’va, and has offered proof that the Accused did indeed murder our high priest for the greater good of M’atra, perhaps saving us from ourselves in ways we could not fathom.”

The crowd looked stunned. Ishea positively beamed with delight. King Rokka sputtered and nearly fell from his seat. The Lead Guarantor then lifted a large round stone in his fist and banged it three times against a metal strike plate atop his podium.

“In light of this new evidence, the Sorceress Ishea will be free to go, on the condition that the Tome of Dark Lore be returned to the monastery for further study.” The Lead Guarantor proclaimed.

“We can show you the Tome if you wish, but it is currently in possession by its rightful owner, the sorceress Ishea.” Mahjdi replied.

“Property can only be transferred to an heir of the original owner. Since Albast is deceased, the Tome should reside here at the Monastery.”

“The Tome is inherently dangerous, your excellence. You have seen for yourself its power to corrupt even the most devout. It is safer left in the hands of its owner, the Lady Ishea.” Mahjdi insisted.

“Counselor, the Tome has resided here for a thousand years, and the original owner is deceased. The Sorceress Ishea no longer holds claim to it.”

Glyph was taken aback. He had thought they would see that the Tome was evil, and agree to let the sorcerers keep it. Apparently some of the Guarantors still wanted some form of payback and decided this was it. He hadn’t seen this coming, but Mahjdi obviously had.

“I am afraid that she does sir, Guarantor.” Mahjdi claimed. He then bent down and whispered to Ishea, “Forgive me, Lady Ishea.” He pulled himself erect. “I would like the sorceress Lobrein to take the stand.” Mahjdi stated, as the color drained from Ishea’s face.

“Counselor, this trial is at an end. You can no longer call witnesses.” One of the Guarantors claimed.

“But I will, and I must. Though you have seen the error of your ways in regards to the Sorceress Ishea, you have grossly missed the point about the dire consequences of even handling the Tome of Dark Lore. If I cannot prove that to you, then I must prove that you are not entitled to take ownership of this evil Tome.” Mahjdi replied. Glyph looked back and forth between Mahjdi and the Lead Guarantor, unsure of what was going to happen next. After a long silence Mahjdi spoke again. “I call the Sorceress Lobrein to take the stand.” He then motioned toward her with his finger as if to say ‘quickly, before they change their minds’. Lobrein looked surprised, but did as she was asked.

“Lady Lobrein, what is your relation to the accused?” Mahjdi asked hurriedly.

Lobrein appeared stricken. It was one of the few times Glyph had ever seen her at a loss for words. “I am not sure I understand.” Lobrein replied.

“The question is a simple one. I will restate it for your benefit. What is your relation to the accused?” Mahjdi questioned.

Lobrein acted like a deer in headlights, as if paralyzed by the nature of the question, then her head slumped in resignation. “The accused, the Sorceress Ishea, is my daughter.” Upon her answer the courtroom erupted again in cries of astonishment.

“I fail to see the relevance–.” The Guarantor started to call out, but Mahjdi held up one finger, and the judge stopped short.

“Sorceress Lobrein, who is the Lady Ishea’s father?” He called out over the rumbling of hushed voices in the room. A deadly silence then fell as everyone waited with rapt attention.

“Albast.” Lobrein replied quietly.

“Forgive me Lady, could you say it a bit louder so that everyone might hear.” Mahjdi prodded.

“Albast.” She said loudly. “Ishea’s father was Albast.” Lobrein’s shoulders sunk as pandemonium broke out. Ishea glared menacingly at Glyph who shrugged his shoulders in response.

“What?” Prianna screamed out in astonishment.

Glyph cast a glance behind him to see Miatsu and Morracor’s mouth’s dropping open.

“Order! Order!” The Lead Guarantor called out red faced. “I suppose you have proof of this as well Counselor.”

“When you are locked in a library for your entire life, you find that what is not written is sometimes more important than the words themselves for discerning the truth.” Mahjdi replied, as he withdrew a large bound book from beneath the table. He opened the book with care to a page he had marked previously and began to read. “It is recorded, that some three thousand one hundred and thirty nine years ago, that the sorcerer Albast and the Sorceress Lobrein left on an expedition to the lands of the far east. They were gone for approximately one year, and returned with a baby who, they claimed, they had found. The claim was also made that this child was also a sorceress, and that they would raise the baby girl as their own.” Mahjdi looked up, and half chuckled. “I must say that after I had read this passage for the first time, nearly forty years ago, that I had my doubts as to the validity of this baby being ‘found’. All the other sorcerers had come to M’atra after they had matured. They were all adults, or well into middle or old age when they appeared.” He stated and turned his attention back to Lobrein. “Sorceress Lobrein, you may be the only one able to answer this question, and I have wondered about it many times in my life. Did you and the other sorcerers simply appear here on M’atra, or were you brought here specifically by Albast?”

This time, Lobrein seemed more confidant, and looked directly at the other sorcerers when she answered. “We were all brought here by Albast, in order to protect M’atra. No one was informed of this fact except for me. We were chosen for our magical aptitude, and brought here from our respective worlds. We were picked carefully to ensure we had little to lose by not returning to our home worlds when given the chance. Drayden was a homeless miscreant, Miatsu was an orphan with no family or friends, Morracor was a petty thief living in filth and squalor, Prianna was a slave-girl, and I was a harlot selling my body for the drugs and liquor I was hopelessly addicted to. Albast greatly increased the quality of our lives by bringing us here. He cured us of our addictions, gave us a place to live, instilled us with hope for the future, and by doing so we all became family.”

Mahjdi nodded affirmatively and smiled. “Forgive me for asking, my Lady. I have just one last question. Why would Albast choose to bring a baby to M’atra from another world?”

“He did not. When we realized I was pregnant, Albast became worried that our baby might be in danger from the forces that were moving against us. We decided to leave and come back after I had given birth so that none might know she was ours, and went so far as to hide her birth name from the rest of the world.”

“And what is the sorceress Ishea’s birth name?” Mahjdi asked.

“Shea.” Lobrein replied.

“There are your facts Lead Guarantor, I leave it to you and the other honorable judges to discern the truth in this matter.” Mahjdi concluded and sat down.

An eerie silence fell over the court, as if they had been stunned by what they had just learned. The Guarantor’s talked quietly amongst themselves, along with Solkit, as Lobrein returned to her seat, unable to look at anything other than the floor as she moved. Prianna openly wept, and threw her arms around Lobrein, who began to cry as well. Morracor and Miatsu just sat dumbfounded. King Rokka removed his crown and was leaning over rubbing his forehead. Glyph, too, stared at Mahjdi and wondered what else the old monk had deduced from his life as a Bibliot.

After several agonizing minutes the Lead Guarantor turned to the court and spoke aloud. “This trial is closed. The Tome is to remain the property of the sorceress Shea. You are dismissed.” He declared, then the judges all stood and filed out into the main hall.

Ishea jumped to her feet and embraced Glyph. “Thank you.” She said to him, though he was not sure why. She then leaned over and kissed Mahjdi on the cheek. “You are most wise, Counselor Mahjdi.”

“I was afraid you would not think so when I had finished.” Mahjdi replied.

“This may have been the healing our family needed. To be rid of these secrets plaguing our lives. These lies, so placidly long, we have forgotten the reasons they were made up to begin with. Albast’s death hurt all of us in some way, and losing our mentors, not knowing where or why they had gone, tore us apart. Now we may be able to heal those deep emotional wounds and move forward.” Ishea said to him.

“Thank you sorceress, I believe that has made my sacrifices worth while.” Mahjdi smiled. “If you both will excuse me, I think I may have something to discuss with the High Priest.” Mahjdi said, then gathered his books and scrolls and shuffled out of the courtroom.

Ishea then went to join Lobrein, Prianna, Morracor, and Miatsu. Glyph watched as they exchanged hugs, and Prianna cried some more. Glyph was about to join them, when he felt someone standing beside him. He turned to see Rokka, who appeared to be somewhat worried.

“King Rokka, is there something I can do for you?” Glyph asked a bit coldly.

“King Glyph, this is not easy for me to admit. I fear I may have judged you and your fellow sorcerers unfairly. Verto was a kind neighbor these many years, and the people of Deltur have always felt a certain kinship with the monks of Priam. When Ishea murdered him…well, I understand now. I hope you can find it within yourself to forgive an old stubborn King.” Rokka said.

“I found out a few things myself, today, Rokka. We all make mistakes, but if you’re looking to make amends, you could start by reinstating trade with the other nations. Perhaps you might also consider being a kind neighbor yourself, and open a dialog with Chief Grot of the Hexzu. It could prove beneficial to both of your peoples.” Glyph replied.

Rokka nodded. “I will, King Glyph, and thank you for your understanding.” He turned to go, and then stated as an afterthought, “When the war with the demons start, the warriors of Deltur will stand with you.”

“I never doubted it, Rokka.” Glyph said, and watched as the seafaring king walked from the room. For some reason, Glyph was still thinking about what Mahjdi had said before he left. Now that Verto had been proven evil and corrupt, Solkit should have no problem reversing some of the damage the evil priest had done, and Glyph had a good idea where he should start. Glyph told Ishea where he was headed, then teleported to the hall outside of Solkit’s chambers.

“Great One?” Came Mahjdi’s familiar voice from behind him.

Glyph turned around to see the old monk shuffling toward him. “Mahjdi, I think maybe we both have the same idea.”

Shall we, then?” Mahjdi replied and pointed to Solkit’s door.

Glyph rapped several times.

“Enter.” Came Solkit’s voice.

Mahjdi wasted no time in throwing back the door and marching up to Solkit’s desk.

“Counselor Mahjdi, Great One, may I commend you both on a job well done.” Solkit said.

“Once I remembered you were a Seer, I knew that you knew that Verto’s journal was there the whole time.” Mahjdi said accusatorily.

Solkit cast a sidelong glance at Mahjdi, but said nothing.

“The order and rank that the new High Priest had been selected from was recorded at the time of your coronation. I do try to keep current, at least as much as possible when trapped within the repository my entire life.”

“I do not know what you are referring to, Mahjdi, but I thought you might like to know I am reinstating your rank and order as a Bibliot.” Solkit said trying to sidestep the accusation.

“No, I refuse. Not until the day my order is free to move about the temple and the grounds as they once could. What Verto has done is a travesty, and all because he feared us. He knew if anyone would question his long life it would be us, so he locked us away in the name of purity of our order. That injustice should not be allowed to continue. Albast never intended our order to be locked away. Our seat on the panel of Guarantors has been vacant for nine hundred years, Solkit! I do not just refuse, I demand justice for my order!” Mahjdi yelled and slammed his fist down hard on Solkit’s desk.

“Your request is not unreasonable, in light of Verto’s corruption. Therefore your request is granted.” Solkit decreed without hesitation.

“Just like that.” Mahjdi replied, eyeing up Solkit suspiciously. Then Mahjdi smiled. “Your hands were tied. You could not risk bringing the journal out without someone crying foul, claiming you planted it. Too many people would doubt you, given Verto’s status. You planned to right these wrongs the whole time. You just needed someone from the outside to prove that Verto was evil.”

“That’s why you insisted Ishea be brought to stand trial.” Glyph added. “You knew our only chance was to find the journal and use Verto’s corruption as Ishea’s defense.”

Solkit smiled. “Gentlemen, once again I do not know what you are talking about. But as to righting the evil wrongs that Verto has thrust upon us, it seems a noble pursuit, and one I fully intend to follow through upon. Now, if there is nothing else, I have some moving to do”

“Moving?” Glyph asked.

“The High Priest’s chamber has been sealed for two years, Great One. Now that the trial is over, I intend to move in immediately.” Solkit explained.

Glyph shook his head and laughed. “Enjoy your new office, Solkit.”

“I will. Oh, and Great One.” Solkit said.

“Yes?” Glyph replied.

“Thank you. And thank you as well, Mahjdi, This would not have been possible without your… intervention.” The High Priest stated.

Mahjdi bowed deeply, and Glyph nodded. “You can thank me by standing beside us in the coming war.” Glyph said.

“It will be my honor, Great One.” Solkit replied.

Later that evening after everything had settled down, Glyph and the other sorcerers were given quarters for the night. The sun was low in the sky, and Glyph had traveled the long stairs to the monastery temple on the side of Toleth’va. He was surprised to see Ishea was already there, staring off over the cliff to the mountains of the north where the Hexzu now resided. Glyph walked over to where she stood, and they watched in silence for several minutes.

“Glyph?” “Ishea said questioningly.

“Yeah.” He replied.

“There is one thing about the trial that bothers me. I thought you might be able to clarify for me.”

“Sure Ishea. What did you want to know?”

“How did you know that Verto had stolen the Tome of Dark Lore from Albast’s desk after he had died?”

Glyph was somewhat confused. “Well,” He started, and then realized what she was asking. “It was in Verto’s possession right?” He said, fumbling for an explanation.

“Yes, but you specifically said that Verto took the Tome from the desk in front of Albast’s dead body. Since Verto is dead, how would you know this to be true?”

He had slipped up. Albast told him the Tome was not in his hand when he performed the Asundering curse that had sent the old sorcerer to Earth. Only Albast and Verto would have known where the Tome was found, and Ishea had caught the slip. He shifted a little trying to think of something to say, when he suddenly felt strange.

“Glyph what’s wrong?” Ishea asked.

Glyph tried to speak, but it was already too late. He felt the air being sucked away from him, and he knew instantly what was happening. Glyph saw Ishea reaching for him in slow motion, when the darkness fell upon him, and he was gone.

 

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