Glyph woke up to the usual scene of Ishea healing his wounds. It seemed as commonplace to him as Simeon’s torture had only a week ago. Ishea looked over at him and smiled wanly. He thought about Jack and Joan. Why did they stay and fight? Why did they sacrifice themselves for him? They could have run and hid. They didn’t have to believe what he told them. They didn’t have to die for him, but they did, and Glyph couldn’t wrap his mind around that.
“That bone break was terrible.” Ishea said as she finished by healing the scratch under Glyph’s eye. “Did the healing transfer at all?” She questioned.
“Near the end. It did allow me to escape.” Glyph replied solemnly. His anger rose steadily as he thought about all the injustices that had piled up on him recently.
“I am glad for that at least. I wish there was more I could do.” Ishea stated sadly.
“You do plenty.” Glyph said irritably, and swung himself into a seated position on his cot.
“Glyph, you need to rest.” Ishea protested.
Glyph ignored her and the pain, forcing himself to stand. “Shit!” he screamed looking up at the roof of the tent as his lower leg pulsed with agony. “Hear this you god-damn fucker!” he shouted for all he was worth. “I’m coming for you Drathus! I’m gonna rip out your heart, and I’m gonna shove it up your fuckin’ ass!” Glyph took a few steps, and caught himself on the edge of the small table. “You fucked up bastard!” he yelled, catching his breath. He was trembling all over now as he threw both arms up with clenched fists and screamed in frustration. The roof of his tent blew outward followed an instant later by a sonic boom like thunder as thousands of canvas confetti pieces drifted off in the wind.
“Glyph!” Ishea screamed, as he collapsed onto the table. She quickly jumped to his side and helped to ease him into a nearby chair. She attempted to make him sleep but Glyph shrugged it off.
“No.” he said, as he sat in the chair with his head hung low.
Just then, the flap of the tent peeled back and Toban rushed in, his sword drawn, with a dozen soldiers behind him. He looked at Glyph and then to Ishea.
“What is happening?” Toban shouted.
“It is alright, Toban.” Ishea said, “Glyph was just venting some frustration. You will be fine now, right Glyph?” Ishea asked the subdued Glyph.
“Yes.” Was all Glyph could get out, as he sat there shaking.
Ishea nodded at Toban, who withdrew from the tent with the soldiers. Once they were gone, Glyph broke down and began to sob. Ishea put her arms around him and held him until the weeping had passed.
“What am I going to do?” Glyph asked Ishea. “It’s too much. I can’t go on like this.”
“You can, and you must. If that bastard Drathus is to pay for what he has done to you, then you must be around to do it.” Ishea spoke calmly.
Glyph glanced down at the ground and sighed heavily. The porters had arrived to remove his furnishings, and he nodded to Ishea to let them in.
As he stood to leave he cast one wary glance back at the Living Tapestry. This time the image he saw was from Earth, and it made the hair on his neck stand up. It showed him in chains, and wearing an orange jump suit. He was being escorted by four guards past rows of cell doors in what was clearly a prison. Glyph’s mouth slowly dropped open as he stared at it. ‘What the–?’ He wondered silently to himself. It was obviously a scene from his future, but was he really going to be locked up on Earth? Glyph tore his eyes away and shook off any feelings of despair before Ishea could notice.
“Let’s get going.” Glyph said to her.
They walked out of the tent and down to the stables, catching occasional glances from some of the soldiers. As usual, the pain in his leg faded more with each step. Mounting their horses, they rode out to meet Toban and General Hilen. Toban had made sure that Glyph’s tent was the last to be struck so they could move out as soon as Glyph was ready.
“Your Highness, I take it all is well.” Toban said, with a worried look on his face.
“All is well, Toban.” Glyph spoke evenly as he took in the view of the Great Lake.
“King Kahula is moving in behind us, sire. He has made excellent time.” Hilen remarked.
“Good.” Glyph replied sullenly. “I’m going to ride ahead. I need some time to think.”
With that, Glyph kicked his heals and O’dista broke into a full gallop. He half expected to see someone following him, but no one did. He rode that way for some time until he could no longer see his army trailing behind him. Soon he reached the top of a small hill, and caught his first look at the city of Muret. It didn’t have the beauty of Kivas, but it was just as impressive. The city appeared to be a series of walls in concentric circles spreading out from the center, for miles. He stopped to let O’dista rest, and tied him to some scraggly pines on the side of the road.
“It’s getting close.” He thought. He could feel the darkness of his soul growing. He sat down beside O’dista and put his mind toward the coming meeting. After about an hour, he saw three horsemen riding towards him from behind. As they got closer, he started to make out who they were. Toban, Ishea, and Kahula rode up quickly and stopped beside him.
“King Glyph, it is an honor to finally meet you.” Kahula greeted Glyph, with a bow from his saddle.
“The feeling is mutual, King Kahula.” Glyph replied, bowing in return.
“As your friends have advised me, time is of the essence. Shall we ride to King Lukret’s gate together?”
“I thought you’d never ask.” Glyph replied, a smile forcing its way onto his face. He began to relax a little, knowing things were starting to move quickly now. Glyph leapt into his saddle, and they all rode down to the giant gate of Muret. Glyph noted that the gates were closed, and made comment to his companions.
“King Lukret is a wise and studious leader, Sire.” Toban answered. “He knows that Drathus is coming, and has taken precautions.”
“Were Komei as close to the fight as Muret, I would do the same.” Kahula added.
“Muret was all but leveled in the first war, Glyph.” Ishea explained, “The city had no walls then as it was a peaceful time. The city had prospered as a central market place for eons before the war. It has taken the Torleans some eight hundred years to restore the city to what it once was; they will not let it be taken so easily this time.”
Toban rode to the gate and shouted his introductions to the gatekeeper, who promptly ordered the gate opened. The city was incredible, and made even more so by the polished marble construction of most of the buildings along the main avenue. The paved streets were immaculate, and obviously well maintained. They traveled all the way to the center of the city, passing through at least five gates. At the center they entered an enormous courtyard peppered with fountains, gardens, and beautiful mosaics. Several guards came out at this last gate to take their horses, leaving them to walk across the beautiful courtyard. The main palace, lined with columns and decorated archways, seemed to rise into view as they moved closer. There, a steward greeted them and ushered the group inside.
“King Lukret has been expecting you. I will take you to the study.” The steward informed them. He led them down several grandiose hallways lined with painted murals on a backdrop of polished marble tiles. Finally their guide stopped and opened a large door, revealing an even larger room, packed wall to wall with volumes of books, scrolls, charts and maps. Lukret sat at a large glossy oak table. He stood immediately and smiled.
“Gentlemen, and Lady, please come in, make yourselves comfortable.” Lukret said, extending his hand towards the seats at the table.
“My dear Lukret,” Ishea started, “May I introduce you to Glyph, King of Kivas?”
“King Glyph, I am so pleased to meet you in person.”
“And I as well.” Glyph replied.
“King Kahula, it has been far too long since you have honored the halls of Muret with your presence; thank you so much for coming.” Lukret greeted Kahula.
“Indeed. It has been too long.” Kahula replied.
They all took their seats as Lukret began to inform them that his legions were ready for battle. His forces were nearly double the size of Kivastor and Barjon combined, and were already stationed near the continental pylon just south of the Toleth River.
“Has there been any news from Priam, my Lord?” Toban asked.
“Little, I am afraid. The Seers of Toleth’va have not yet been able to ascertain the forces awaiting us.” Lukret answered. “Only that Grull have been spotted making brief forays through the Pass.”
“Grull?” Glyph said curiously.
“Grull make up the main fighting force of Drathus’s army. They have the head of an Ox, and the body of a man.” Ishea informed him.
“Oh, them.” Glyph said, remembering the image of the battle he first saw on the Tapestry.
“I would like to hear more of your plan, King Glyph.” Kahula spoke up.
“We’ve already begun.” He said to Kahula, then turned to the rest of the group. “First, I would like to combine our forces with the Torlean legions. Can we make their camp by the end of the day?” He asked, looking at Toban and Kahula.
Toban glanced at Kahula and back at Glyph. “I believe that can be accomplished.” Toban replied, with a stout nod from Kahula.
“Excellent. Gentlemen, the plan is simple. We march to the Pass, and attack the Grull as they come through. King Rokka and his men will sail up the coast, traverse the desert, and attack from the rear. I expect Drathus will be concentrating his attack at the Pass, and will be thrown into confusion when Rokka enters the battle.” Glyph stated.
“What if Drathus is not yet ready to commit, and Rokka attacks prematurely?” Lukret asked.
“Trust me,” Glyph replied, “He’ll be there. Besides if something were to change, Ishea or myself can contact Rokka at any time.”
“Interesting,” Kahula commented. “I doubt he will be expecting us to attack him first.”
“Exactly.” Glyph added. “We go in strong, and we wipe his ass off the face of the planet for good.” There was a long moment of silence that followed.
“In the past war, we were not as organized. We stalled in our talks of cooperation with the other kingdoms, and we paid the price.” Lukret stated bluntly. “This time the prophets have warned us. They have told us that Glyph would be sent to lead us in the second war against the demons. I am inclined to go along with you in this endeavor, King Glyph.”
“As am I.” Kahula agreed. “The world has not seen the introduction of a sorcerer in over three thousand years, and now one of great power has come to us as the prophecies have predicted. Events foretold thousands of years ago are coming to fruition. Surely this is a sign from the gods, one we ignore at our own peril.”
“Then it’s settled. We bypass Muret and march straight towards the legions at the Toleth River. Tomorrow we head for Priam, and the next day we hit the Pass.” Glyph said.
“I will contact Rokka and advise him of the current situation. Toban, I want you and Kahula to get our forces unified and to get them to the river before nightfall. Lukret, send word to your men and advise them of our plans. This all depends on our cooperation, so let’s get it done.” Glyph said, forgetting to use their proper titles. No one took offense however, and they all embarked on their individual tasks.
Glyph and Ishea used a small antechamber off the study to contact Rokka. It took some time to track the seafaring King down, but to his relief, Rokka had followed his instructions and was already sailing for Degruthras. Glyph appeared before Rokka on the main deck of the lead ship in an armada gliding up the west coast.
“King Glyph!” Rokka shouted at the sight of his blue shimmering form.
“King Rokka, how’s the journey so far?” Glyph asked.
“There is a stout wind from the south, and we have made excellent time. We expect to reach the wastelands within the hour.”
“Excellent. The combined armies of Kivas, Barjon, and Torlea will camp just south of the Toleth River by evening.” Glyph explained. “We plan to attack Drathus at the Pass in three days.”
“That is extraordinary!” Rokka proclaimed. “You have done well, then.”
“As have you. Will three days be enough time to traverse the desert to the Pass?” Rokka laughed heartily. “It will have to be. We have brought only enough provisions and supplies for five days in the desert. That means we can move faster. It also means there will be no return trip unless we succeed.” The Delturan king explained.
“Understood. I’ll check back later if anything changes.” Glyph told him.
“Until then.” Rokka replied.
Glyph pulled his hands from the Divinare crystal. ‘Only three full days to traverse the desert.’ Glyph hoped it would be enough.
“What are your plans now, Glyph?” Ishea questioned.
“I was thinking we would wait for Toban and Kahula to bring the soldiers up, and ride with them to the rendezvous.” Glyph answered.
“Good. I would like to show you something.”
“You will see.” She said, and led Glyph out of the study and into the hallway.
Rounding a few corners, they came upon a doorway. The ornate wooden carvings in the center held in place a large emerald.
“Don’t tell me I’m King here too.” Glyph said to Ishea, scowling.
Ishea flashed him the smile, “No Glyph, you are not King here. Open it.”
Glyph gave her the evil eye, and placed his hand on the emerald.
“Open.” He commanded.
The door clicked and pushed forward a few inches. Glyph pushed the door open. There was a long dark corridor before him; reaching up, he grabbed an unlit torch and handed it to Ishea.
“You should try to light this.” Ishea suggested.
“I wouldn’t want to bring the roof down on us.” Glyph replied dryly, thinking about how he destroyed the top of his own tent earlier that morning.
Ishea touched the end of the torch and it burst into flame. Stepping around Glyph, she started down the tunnel. They exited some twenty feet later into a large room. Ishea raised her hand and said “Ignite”, and the torches along the walls burst into flame. In the center of the room was a raised dais with a large sarcophagus placed on top.
“Ishea, what is this place?”
“This is the tomb of my master, Albast. He was laid to rest here in the ruins of Muret soon after the first war. As the Torleans rebuilt, they constructed the palace around it.” Ishea sighed deeply. “Coming here brings me comfort. On occasion I even speak with him.” She reached over and touched his coffin.
“You speak with him?” Glyph asked.
“Yes, well, I do most of the talking.” Ishea replied looking slightly embarrassed.
“And I’m here because…” Glyph paused and stared at Ishea.
“Because I wanted to share this with you. I want you to understand the history and the sacrifices the people of this world have made. I need you to know that the sacrifices you make every day are not in vain, and that this world will honor your name long after you have departed.” Ishea looked away from him and stared at the resting place of her Master.
Glyph felt like an idiot.
‘Why do I always stick my foot in it?’ He wondered, and groaned inwardly. He eyed up the room, trying to think of some way to change the subject, but couldn’t.
“You know what Ishea? I do care about the sacrifices these people have made. I feel like Toban is my best friend, and I care about what happens to him and everyone else I’ve met here. I know what happened a thousand years ago. I’ve seen practically the whole battle, thanks to that Tapestry. I’ve watched you, and The Seven, hunting Drathus across the countryside. I’ve even seen parts of the battle ahead. I know what Drathus does to people. So if you think I don’t care, or don’t understand, then you’re wrong.”
“It is not that, Glyph. I just do not want you to leave when this is over. I do not want to have to send you back. If you knew how much these people loved and cared for you…” Ishea pleaded.
Glyph just stood there. He thought about Earth, then about the people he’d been forced to kill, just to survive, and the last scene he saw on the Tapestry. No one on Earth would understand, no one there would believe him. “There’s no life for me to go back to, Ishea. Not anymore.” He confessed, and left Ishea alone in the tomb.
Glyph wandered through the enormous halls of the palace for a while, and then decided to go check on Toban and Kahula’s progress. He figured they should have arrived at the city by now, and retrieved O’dista to begin the long ride out of the city. When he exited the last gate, he saw a large mass of men several hundred feet wide marching past the city walls into the distance. It was the tail end of the combined armies of Kivastor and Barjon.
“Damn they’re fast.” Glyph said, and started to ride towards the front of the column. As he neared the mid-way point he began to hear shouts coming from the soldiers.
“Hail King Glyph!” they yelled, like waves on the ocean. Glyph was compelled to raise his hand in salute as he rode along. By the time he reached the front, he was standing in his saddle with his sword out pointing forwards, to the cheers and adulations of his men. He rode in beside Toban, who accepted Glyph’s explanation of Ishea’s whereabouts, and began to discuss some of the logistics of moving a sizeable force cross-country. Soon, General Hilen came over and happily joined in on the conversation. Glyph, happy for the diversion from his own thoughts, listened intently.
As it neared sundown, they were riding up on the Torlean Legions’ encampment. Their general, a man named Covat, introduced himself and gave them a brief description as to where the camp facilities were and where they should set up camp. Within an hour, most of the tents had been erected and the mess wagons were arriving. Toban and Glyph went to Glyph’s tent, which now sported a roof made up of sheets of worn canvas. They walked in as the Tapestry was being hung. Glyph deliberately tried not to look at it, and instead talked Toban into another lesson of sword fighting. They had just finished when servants began to enter, carrying trays of food.
“Would you care to stay for dinner, Toban?” Glyph asked, wanting the company.
“I am afraid I cannot, Glyph. I must attend to some of my duties first.” Toban replied. Just then Ishea entered the tent. “I am sure the Lady would stand in for me.” Toban smiled, and took his leave.
Ishea stared at Glyph for a moment. “I hope I did not offend you earlier.” Ishea said, breaking the silence.
“No, not really. I think I would like to go back, I just don’t believe I would be accepted now. And, well, this world has a lot of pluses.” He commented, and winked at her.
Ishea smiled and they sat and ate dinner. “Have you seen anything interesting in the Tapestry this evening?” She asked politely.
“Nothing that will help.” Glyph replied, as the image of his incarceration immediately jumped to mind. “If you see an image of the future, does that mean it will definitely come true?” Glyph asked as he dipped some bread into his soup and took a bite.
“Why? What did you see?” Ishea asked getting suddenly serious.
“Nothing, I was just wondering about it. You know, how the Tapestry works.” Glyph said, hoping his explanation would convince her.
She squinted at him a moment, but then seemed to accept what he had said at face value. “I am uncertain. I have never been able to see the tapestry for myself, and therefore can only rely on what the masters have told me. When I was younger I used to dream about what it would be like to see the Tapestry, and what it might show me. As I grew older I realized I would never know for myself, so I lost interest. Albast never said one way or the other, but I have to believe that time is fluid, and so depends in part on that which has come before it. Therefore if the Tapestry shows a scene of the future, then it is possible that something may change before the scene takes place that could alter the outcome of what you saw.”
Glyph nodded his acceptance of her explanation and changed the subject. Part of him still wondered about the scene he saw of the prison, and whether it was some type of warning about the path he now followed. As disturbing as the scene was, knowing there could be something done to stop it from happening helped him to cope with it better.
After they had finished eating, Ishea began to teach Glyph how to control his power, and how to create small objects like rocks and plants. They even touched on philosophy and religion. As the evening came to a close, Glyph stood to escort Ishea to the door.
“One question, Ishea?” Glyph said.
“What is it?”
“Shouldn’t you be teaching me how to defeat Drathus?”
“I am.” She replied. Glyph just raised an eyebrow and stared at her. Ishea caught the look and smiled. “Once you learn how to do small things, the bigger things are easier to do.” She explained.
“If you say so.” Glyph sighed.
“I do.” She stated matter-of-factly. “Goodnight Glyph.”
“Goodnight Ishea.” Glyph replied, and watched her as she walked away towards her tent.
Turning his attention to the Tapestry, he walked over to brave another scene. This time there was a large temple on the side of a mountain and there were monks living and working there. A group of them were gathered on a balcony staring off at the sunset.
‘I wonder if this is Priam,’ he thought, ‘or more likely the monastery at Toleth’va.’ He watched for a while, and then got ready for bed. Glyph slept well that night and actually had a pleasant dream or two.
He awoke in a surprisingly good mood for once; he pulled on his blue jeans and chuckled. Putting on a shirt, he moved over to the Tapestry and began to study it, as two servants entered the room with breakfast. The scene this morning showed King Rokka and his men breaking camp in the desert of Degruthras. Tall mountains reached skyward in the background with sailcloth tents peppering the ground where the rock became sand.
“Good Luck, Rokka.” Glyph found himself saying out loud.
He sat and began to eat, as Ishea entered. She was carrying two large bags of various healing herbs and bandages.
“I see you’ve come prepared.” He said to her, grinning.
She shot him a glare, and set up her wares on a side table.
“There is no point in believing you will not get hurt. If you survive the hour, it is my job to keep you alive.”
“I’m not complaining.” Glyph laughed. Ishea sat down at the table to eat.
“You seem in good spirits this morning.” Ishea commented.
“I am. I don’t know why, but I am. I can feel this whole thing moving towards an end. I guess I’m looking forward to being free of Drathus once and for all, no matter what happens.” He replied.
Ishea put her hand on his. “You will prevail, Glyph. I know it in my heart and soul to be the truth.”
“Thanks.” Glyph sighed, and finished eating.
“Do you have any plans for your hour?” Ishea asked him, as he got ready for the hour to come. Glyph lay down on the bed.
“Run. It’s what I do best. I think I’m going to head down from the mountains. I don’t want to wait around for Drathus to send a family of bears my way.”
“I wish you well, Glyph. I hope that you are not hurt too badly.” Ishea said, with sad eyes.
With that, Glyph closed his eyes and waited, and as luck would have it, he didn’t have to wait long. The winds came, the air was swept away and the darkness descended upon him once again.