Glyph opened his eyes, then rolled over. He was, it appeared, still in the great room of Ishea’s cabin. He pulled himself to a standing position with the help of the chair he had sat in for breakfast.
“I am so glad you made it, Glyph.” Ishea’s voice floated across the room.
“What the hell? What’s going on now?” He stammered. “What was with my landlord? Was he trying to…”? Glyph paused and looked at Ishea, turning his head, confusion written on his face.
“Kill you? Yes.” Ishea finished for him. “He and the others in the…car,” she said struggling to pronounce the word ‘car’. “They were all agents of evil”.
“And the girl, was she?” Glyph asked, grimacing.
Ishea closed her eyes for a moment. “An innocent, I am afraid. You did what was necessary to insure your survival. Her death was not in vain.” She said, carefully bundling up some dried meat and cheese in a sturdy linen and tying it closed tightly with twine.
“Vain? I killed her, dammit! I, me! Not some evil fuck. Me!” He yelled at her out of frustration.
“Glyph, these things are bound to happen. You need to be able to put them behind you so that we can move forward.” She said, a look of sadness furrowing her brow. “I know your pain. I can feel it within your soul, but you must look ahead to the future, not to the past.”
Glyph spun around, anger boiling inside him. “You make me sick! How can you say that? That girl died, and you, you just want me to forget about it? You turned my world inside out, and now I get to be tortured in real life, instead of my dreams. Don’t you get it? My hour is real! That girl was real! I don’t know what I am here, or what you are, but that was real, so don’t tell me what I need to think.” He shouted, sliding down into the chair, a wave of exhaustion coming over him.
Glyph realized that what was happening to him was not Ishea’s fault, but knowing that didn’t help any. There was just so much anger and resentment bottled up inside him, and unfortunately she was the only one there to bear the onslaught of his emotional turmoil. After a few moments of silence, he spoke up again, much more subdued. “How do you know what’s been happening to me during my hour?”
“I have been closely monitoring your thoughts, so that I might better understand what has been happening to you.” Ishea explained.
“Well don’t. It’s unnatural, and I don’t like it, so stop.” Glyph stated resolutely.
Ishea hung her head low, and quietly carried the bundle of food past him out the door. She returned a few minutes later, but said nothing. She paused a moment, and placed her hand reassuringly on his shoulder, then continued about her business. After a short time had passed, Ishea came in to where he sat with some bread and fruit, and placed it on the table.
“We have to go on a journey; there is something I need to show you. I was going to wait, but now, I think, maybe this way will be better.” Ishea spoke softly.
“I suppose I have to go along.” Glyph monotoned back at her.
“Yes, you do. I now see there is no other way.” she replied.
Glyph, considerably calmer now, stood up from the table.
“Where are we going?” he asked.
“I believe I will let you find out when we get there. Now eat up, we need to cover many leagues before nightfall.” She sat down and began to eat, and Glyph followed suit, not knowing what to think anymore.
Ishea cleared the table after they had finished, then reached into the corner of the room for her staff. She handed Glyph the sheathed long sword she had tried to give him earlier, and walked toward the door.
“What do you think I’m going to do with this?” He said, looking at the sword. It had a red velvet scabbard, with what looked like real gold embellishment.
He pulled the sword out of the sheath and tested the edge with his thumb. “Ouch! Mother fucker!” he swore, as blood ran down the blade. Glyph shrugged, and belted the weapon around his waist.
He walked outside and found Ishea riding a large horse, with a magnificent stallion in tow. She dismounted and tied the horse’s reins loosely around the porch rail. She pulled the door to the cabin closed behind him and whispered something to herself. Ishea looked at him strangely, and then asked, “Have you ever ridden a horse before?”
Glyph strode directly to the stallion
“No.” he said. “But how hard can it be?” Surprising himself, and Ishea as well, he easily mounted the horse, and sat in the saddle. Glyph patted the horse on the side of its neck as Ishea bounded onto the saddle of her horse.
“He truly is a magnificent steed.” She said to Glyph as he admired the horse. He was about to ask her the horse’s name, when a word suddenly appeared in his thoughts. “His name is–” Ishea started to say, when Glyph blurted out the word, “O’dista.” Ishea’s eyes brightened, and she looked at him and smiled broadly.
“His name is O’dista, and how exactly did I know that?”
“This way.” She said in lieu of an answer, and galloped off.
“This is one crazy dream.” Glyph whispered under his breath, then kicked his heals and took off after her, holding on with all his strength to keep from falling.
They rode on for several hours through mountain forests, across several small streams, and up a steep rocky trail, to the top of a long ridgeline that looked to go on for quite a ways. Here Ishea suggested they eat and rest the horses. They dismounted and walked a side trail to an overlook of the valley below, and the mountains to the east. Ishea handed him some dried meat and bread. Glyph took it absently, staring across the valley. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. A huge cascading waterfall crested near the middle of a distant mountain and poured over the edge like a faucet, free-falling for eight hundred feet into what seemed to be an enormous golden bowl. Surrounding the bowl was a walled city, and beyond that a patchwork of farms near the valley floor.
“It is a city.” Ishea said.
“It’s incredible!” Glyph understated, as it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen in his life.
“It is the capital of this kingdom, and it is called Kivas.” She smiled at him again, and he wondered what was behind that smile. What was she thinking?
They traveled along the ridgeline of the mountains toward the city for the next several hours, catching glimpses of it through the trees here and there. Glyph passed the time noting the similarities and differences between this place and Earth. The forest had an ethereal quality to it, and had obviously never been touched by the hand of man, save for the meandering trail they followed. Finally, the terrain turned rocky as they passed through a large clearing covered with waist-high grasses, and the path came to an end near the top of the giant waterfall. Here the water flowed like an enormous river across an expansive plateau. The source was a giant fissure in the rock about a half-mile further up the mountain. The rock steepled downward over the cliff face, allowing the river to plunge straight down into the city below. The view of the valley from here was awe-inspiring.
“This is known as the King’s entrance.” Ishea shouted over the roar of the falling water as she dismounted and walked towards the rocky cliff face. Glyph climbed out of his saddle and walked to where she was standing. “Give me your sword.” She said, extending her hand out. Glyph shrugged, drew out the sword, and handed it to her.
Ishea took the sword and placed it on a small out-cropping of rock. Glyph stared in disbelief as the stone the sword was on sunk slowly down a few inches. The rock face grumbled and to his amazement a large piece of rock slowly ground its way back into the mountain revealing a carved out passageway.
“Nice.” Glyph said, trying to downplay what he had just seen.
“Yes, I agree. There are times when you do not want to be seen going through the main gate.” Ishea turned and smiled at him again, handing him his sword.
It felt warm to the touch now, and the red glint of the setting sun flashed briefly across the blade as Glyph placed the sword back into the scabbard.
“This way.” She stepped into the entrance and pulled a torch from the wall, whispered something, and touched her hand to the wood, igniting it into flame.
“Good trick.” Glyph said, wondering now if he should keep following her. “It’s always more fun to stay and see what happens.” he mumbled under his breath.
“What was that?” Ishea looked back at him.
“Nothing, just remembering something a friend said to me once.” They walked about ten yards, and came to a descending spiral staircase cut right out of the rock itself.
“This is pretty cool.” he remarked, as they started down the stairs. “Where are we going?” Glyph asked again.
“Do not be impatient. You will see when we reach the bottom.”
About five minutes later they reached the bottom and entered a small antechamber with a large door in the opposite wall. The door was ornately carved with the likeness of ivy and vines, but was made of stone. In the center was a large fist-sized ruby, the stone vines holding it in place at about shoulder height.
“Stand over here, and place your hand on the jewel.”
Glyph eyed her skeptically, but did as he was instructed.
“Now say ‘Open’.” Ishea spoke somewhat nervously.
He sighed again, looked up at the door, and quite sarcastically said “Open.” Nothing happened.
“No, no, like you mean it.” Ishea implored.
Glyph looked at her again, turned back to the door and shouted “Open!”
Suddenly there was a loud clink noise, and the door slid open a few inches.
“Yes!” Ishea beamed, then began to giggle.
She reached over and pushed the door fully open. Glyph stepped inside and looked around. A long, large room opened in front of them. About a hundred feet out was a handrail, and beyond that the back of the waterfall.
“We’re behind the waterfall.” Glyph said in awe, “And not too shabby.” He commented, taking in the contents of the large room. Huge rock gardens flanked them. Statues of warriors and monks adorned the back wall at regular intervals and there were chaise lounge chairs positioned throughout the room. The grand marble columns and archways that supported the rock ceiling reminded him of Roman architecture. Large vaulted hallways led off to the left and right, disappearing deep into the mountain. He followed Ishea across a polished quartz-tiled floor as she walked to the stone carved handrail that skirted the edge of the cliff. Here Glyph could see how the mountain curved around the waterfall on each side, along with the room, in a horseshoe shape. The railing extended past either side of the falling water, covered with intricately laced vines that grew from large stone urns that must have been chiseled from the rock face below. Spider plants and gigantic topiaries also grew from the neatly spaced urns, and had long since attached themselves to the cliff face and spread prolifically. Nearly all of the plants looked like they had been there for hundreds of years.
Ishea led him around the falling water to the left side of the ‘horseshoe’. “Look.” She said, and waved her hand over the rail. Glyph looked down. They were easily six hundred feet above the city. The water began to turn to mist as it fell, but he could see that that most of it still collected in the enormous bowl at the bottom. From there the slight forward pitch of the bowl moved the water off into aqueducts branching out into the city. The excess poured over the far end into an enormous aquifer that piped the water underground to a lower elevation outside the city where it turned into a river that flowed down through the valley. He was several hundred feet down from the top of the falls, and could now see people below moving about in what looked like a marketplace.
“The prophecy says that a man will come to us near the day of Reckoning, and he will not see like us, or be of our ways, but his power will be great, and this man we shall call King.” Ishea spoke calmly as if reciting a play she had known her whole life. Glyph looked over the edge for a while admiring the different buildings and structures.
“Wait a minute, what did you just say?” he stood up and squared off to her. Ishea turned to face him, then solemnly lifted her head to stare him in the eyes.
“I said that the man who comes to us we shall call King, Glyph. That is you.”
Glyph met her gaze. “You’re shittin’ me, right?”
“No Glyph, you are lord and ruler of this land. We have waited for over a thousand years for you to come, and now, in our darkest hours, you have arrived to lead us.”
Glyph started to laugh, looked at Ishea and laughed again. After a few minutes he calmed down, and sat down on a lounge chair.
“This is not a laughing matter. I am serious.” Ishea snapped
“You want me to believe that I’m King of all this.” He said pointing to the rail.
Just then a small entourage of men came through the arched doorway about twenty feet away. They were all dressed right out of the Middle Ages. A tall thin man led the group, very lean and wiry.
“Lady Ishea.” the man said, then blanched and stopped in his tracks. “Is he the one?” he asked almost trembling.
“Yes Toban. He does not know it yet, but yes.” Ishea smiled.
“My Lord.” Toban said turning towards Glyph, and bowing on one knee. The rest of the men quickly followed suit. Glyph’s eyes flashed toward Ishea who had also curtsied.
“You are serious. I’m the King. Me?” Glyph questioned.
“Yes Lord Glyph, you are.” Ishea replied.
“I’m the fucking King?” Glyph was repeating when he looked over at Toban and the others still kneeling reverently. “What are they waiting for?” he asked Ishea.
“They are waiting for your permission to rise, Lord Glyph.” Ishea replied.
Glyph rose swiftly from the chair, then turned to face the group of kneeling men and said “Uh. Rise, rise.”
Toban stood quickly and bowed. “I am Toban, Steward of Kivas. I am at your service.” He turned to the man next to him. “Begin preparations for the coronation ceremony.” He then glanced at Ishea, and back at Glyph. “Should we give a formal announcement yet?”
Glyph just stood with his mouth agape. Ishea looked at Glyph then back to Toban. “I think we should wait till tomorrow, Toban,” she said.
Toban glanced at her and then back at Glyph. “Very well. Ah, perhaps I can show you to your chambers, my lord.” Glyph just stared then seemed to regain some composure.
“Yes, that would be great right now.” was all Glyph could get out.
Toban escorted them down a series of hallways, all carved from the mountain, to the royal chambers. Toban then excused himself and went about his business, leaving Glyph and Ishea to themselves.
“You need your rest.” Ishea said to him. “Your hour will be at hand before you realize, and you will need all your strength.” Glyph sat on the edge of the bed.
“I’m the king?”
“Yes, Glyph.” Ishea said again, as she walked across the room. She placed her hand on his forehead and traced a line with her finger. Glyph lay back on the bed, and she covered him up. “Rest well, my king.” Ishea said, crossing the room to the door.
Glyph woke feeling refreshed. He looked around the room. Hanging tapestries adorned the walls, and fancy furniture was scattered here and there, all ornately carved. One tapestry in particular seemed to keep drawing his eye. He began to look at it more closely. The tapestry was an intricately woven work of art depicting a scene of a great battle. The scene was of an army of men fighting against some sort of half-man, half-beast creatures. There were two prominent figures. One bore the likeness of a demon, and the other was of a man calling to his army to stand and fight.
Just then the chamber doors opened and two servant girls came in, one with a tray of cheese, fruit, and pastries. The other had a pitcher of water and goblets. They placed them on a small table. One went to a large curtain and pulled it back revealing a large open window, while the other made his bed.
“Do you require anything else my lord?” the one said bowing deeply.
“Nope, oh yes, where is Ishea?” Glyph said feeling completely out of place.
“I believe the Sorceress Ishea is on her way here, my lord.” the girl replied. “Thanks.”
The girls both curtsied and left the room. He grabbed some grapes off the tray and began to munch them down, as he walked over to the window. It was dark, though he could still see some lamps burning in the city below, and hear the sound of the waterfall crashing into the bowl below and off to his left. ‘This is insane.’ he thought. ‘I have to get out of here, I’m no King. They must have made a mistake.’
Ishea entered the room humming a tune that sounded ancient, yet beautiful. “Good morning.” she said.
“I suppose.” Glyph responded, then turned back to the window. “Look, what do you want from me really? I can’t be your king. I don’t know how to act or what to do. I just want this to end so I can start my life again.”
Ishea went to the tray and picked up a strange looking fruit and took a bite. “What I want is for you to care about the people here, and to help guide them in the coming war. I want you to be our king, and fulfill the prophecy.” She stated bluntly.
“Maybe there’s some kind of communication breakdown here. I said I can’t do those things, don’t know how, and don’t want to know. You brought me here, so just send me back.” Glyph shot back.
“I cannot, Glyph. This is your destiny.” Ishea said
“Can’t or won’t?” he said turning to face her.
“If I were to send you back, Drathus would kill you, and these people would be destroyed. You are our hope.”
“You keep saying that, but I’m not buying it. You all seem to have survived a long time without me. I think you’ll get by, and I think I’ll just take my chances back in the real world, thank you.” Glyph said, trying not to get angry.
“But this is real, Glyph. I am real, the people are real, the city, the country, the world is real. Just because you do not believe in it does not mean that it does not exist.”
“It may be real to you, but it’s not to me. Send me back!” he shouted at her in desperation.
Ishea’s eyes began to glow “I will not send you back.” She stated firmly.
“So that’s how it’s going to be then. I didn’t ask for this, I don’t want this!” Glyph said, indicating the window and the city beyond.
“Glyph, please we need your help–.”
Glyph cut her off mid-sentence. “Don’t expect me to help you do anything, you cold hearted bitch.” He spat at her.
Ishea’s eyes became like purple flames, and the fruit in her hand incinerated to dust and fell away to the floor. Ishea turned sharply and left the room. Glyph sat down on the edge of the bed. “That didn’t go so well.” He said to himself. ‘I guess I’m stuck here.’ he thought. All that was left was to wait for his hour. Glyph didn’t have to wait too long before the chill winds came, pulling the air from the room as the darkness descended upon him.