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The Awakening: Artifact of Creation

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p<>{color:#000;}. The Awakening: The Artifact of Creation / D.JAMES LARSEN |<>.
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THE AWAKENING

ARTIFACTS OF CREATION

BOOK #1

D JAMES LARSEN

Copyright © 2016 by D James Larsen. All Rights Reserved

CONTENTS

rologue

hapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Epilogue

Prologue

The silhouette of the dark mid-night sky hung in silence over the ancient Temple Anin’Nar. The Temple stood on an alcove of rock that jutted from the ground below, surrounded by dense forests of massive trees and vegetation. On either side of the alcove, large waterfalls cascaded downward, glistening from the waning light of the stars. The water disappeared in clouds of mist that hung heavy over the valley below.

For centuries the Temple Anin’Nar stood as a holy shrine to the ancient Order of the Awakened, an order long since forgotten to the world of mankind. The legacy of the Awakened was retold in stories of myth and legend, most doubted they ever existed. The stories told that for centuries, the Awakened protected the four races of mankind from a darkness that threatened the world. They prevailed against many horrors with their fabled power and strength. Yet any memory of their deeds of valor and honor, had all but vanished, along with the memory of the Temple Anin’Nar. But unlike the Awakened, the temple still stood as majestically as it had in its former years of glory, though the ages had worn on its walls. Its shimmering white walls, became grayed from years of dust and neglect. Thick vines grew around it accompanied by brush and soil. And yet there it remained, in the midst of the Forgotten Valley.

Shrouds of shadow lingered about its courtyard of stone that lined the perimeter of the temple. On either side of the cobble pathways within the courtyard, were statues of angels, each bent over as if blessing those visitors who would enter the temple. Beyond the statues, leaves from nearby trees quivered against the approaching wind. Rain began to fall in thin sheets, spattering lightly on the temple grounds. In moments, the light pattering’s grew to torrential sheets of rain accompanied by loud clasps of thunder.

A lone man scurried across the temple grounds and onto the wide path that led to the main entrance of the forbidding structure. A hand reached out from within the man’s rain-soaked cloak and rattled a massive metal knocker attached to the door of the temple. The knocked thudded dully against the wooden door, its echo lost in the sound of the storm. Overhead, lightening continued to flash, briefly lighting the sky and then returning to darkness. A small sliding window opened just beneath the metal knocker. A man appeared at the opening.

“Sir? What is your business?” The guard asked gruffly, obviously upset that his sleep was disturbed. The man in the rain-soaked cloak leaned forward to speak.

“It is urgent. I seek an audience with the Archon herself.” The man said with a weak whisper. The man looked tired and worn ragged, perhaps from weeks of traversing through rough terrain in search of Anin’Nar.

“Who sent you?” The guard asked. “No one knows of this place.”

“Please, my business is my own. I seek the Archon.”

The guard paused and studied the man a moment longer. “Fine, your name please.”

The man hesitated to answer, then decided there was no harm in revealing his name. “Its…Lyle… of Umberlee.” A brief smile crossed his face, a smile born of unsurety.

The guard closed the sliding window. In moments the door creaked open, just wide enough for the small framed man to slip through. The man stepped inside and into the shelter of the temple. The sound of falling rain continued to clatter outside of the temple walls but became muffled when the guard shut the door.

“Wait here,” The guard said and hurried down the candle lit corridor.

Lyle peered about the entrance of the temple. Shadows cast from the flickering light of nearby candles danced upon the walls. In the gloom, he could see elaborate archways that lined the entrances of various corridors inside the temple. Beyond the light of the candles was darkness.

It sickened Lyle to be inside of the Temple of the Awakened. He spat on the ground. “Damned fools. Crippled by fear. Our lands are being torn apart and they sit behind these walls.”

There was a soft scuffle of footsteps that sounded behind him. A woman garbed in white robes approached Lyle. The hood of her robes was drawn about her, hands folded beneath the soft material. Even in the darkness of the entrance way she seemed angelic and other worldly. Lyle could not help but gaze upon her beauty.

“Lyle of Umbreelee, welcome. I am Ingel, Archon of Anin’Nar master of the Awakened.” She bowed herself slightly before him. He could sense the significance of her calling, yet it made him even more irritable. He removed his hood and bowed in response. It was important to show her respect, regardless of his opinions of the Awakened.

“It is a pleasure Archon,” He said softly.

Behind her the guard and another woman approached. The Archon gracefully waved her hand to her side by way of introduction, “My trusted guard, Geoff, of whom you met earlier and this is the Seer and Prophetess of Anin’Nar, Ethi’el.” Lyle bowed himself a second time. When he looked up, he could not help but stare at the haunting white eyes of the Prophetess. She was unnaturally aged, even beyond the years of the eldest of women. The way her long white hair fell reminded him of the waterfalls from the northern countries, graceful and calm, but centuries old.

“Lyle your purpose for being here?” The Archon asked. Lyle snapped out of his thoughts.

“I come in a desperate time of need.” Lyle said. His hands were timidly folded in front of him, he was stooped over from a crooked back. “Our towns and villages are being massacred. Men, women and children lay in heaps across the land. A dark man with a wretched mask hunts us, he possesses abilities that are…. unnatural.” He paused. His voice was filled with urgency and his sincere need was reflected in his eyes. The Archon waited and listened. The guard shifted his weight form one foot to another and the Seer stared blankly into the dark room.

Lyle continued. “He comes with squadrons of mercenaries. No one has been able to match the wrath of his mercenaries or that of the dark man’s abilities.” Lyle shifted his gaze from one to another, trying to discern their interest in his story. All he saw in their eyes was apathy, a cold indifference, an indifference that he was not surprised to find. Despite their lack of interest, he continued, his words grew more desperate. “I believe…. I mean…. we believe that if the legends are true, about the Awakened, and those of the Fallen Bloodlines, then…. perhaps the Fallen have returned.”

A silence fell between them. Lyle stared at the floor. He knew the weight of his claims. His words by all intents were blasphemy. He risked a glance at the Archon. Her stare was penetrating.

“That is a strong claim Lyle of Umbreelee. I do not believe you understand the implications of what you say.” She crossed the distance between her and Lyle. Her movements were graceful and soft upon the stone floor, much like the mist upon lakes during the winter thaw. Her face was pale in color and her mannerism’s calm and collected. She graced Lyle with the lure of her touch, a finger traced across his shoulder.

“Those of the Fallen Bloodlines have been extinct for nearly three-hundred years by virtue of the Awakened and the Druid Gaphii’el.” She circled about the small man and returned to her previous spot. “The Seer would have foreseen the return of the Fallen.” She spoke softly, her words a distant whisper.

“Archon Ingen, even the King and his armies cower in fear behind their walls of stone.” Lyle spoke, struggling for the boldness of words to convey the urgency of his message. “The dark man has powers to snuff out the lives of grown men with the mere wave of his hand. He….has destroyed so much!” The tears began to flow freely down the side of his cheeks.

The Archon’s face hardened. “If the Fallen have returned, it would have been foreseen,” She paused and pointed to the Seer who gazed blankly into the darkness of the room. “The Seer would have foreseen it.” She shouted angrily.

The Archon then quickly calmed her emotions and leaned toward the guard and whispered something in his ear. He nodded and hurried off into a nearby hallway. The Archon turned back to address Lyle. “We will provide food and shelter for the night and then you will be on your way come the morning. Perhaps a petition to the king would better serve your needs.”

“With respect, Archon Ingel, we need the power of the Awakened. We are helpless with our swords.”

“Since the time that Gaphii’el and the Awakened caste the Fallen into the forbidden, there was no need for them. I am the last of the Awakened.” The Archon said softly. “I cannot offer the help you seek.”

Lyle’s heart filled with hatred toward the Archon and Seer. Suddenly they appeared to him as mere mortals like himself, and not as the fabled legends told among his people. He clenched his fists tightly, his finger nails cut into the palms of his hands, droplets of blood began to drip. His appearance seemed to change in the faintness of the candles flame. His skin turned pale grey and the white of his eyes took on a sickly yellowish hue.

“You would rather hide behind these walls and watch us suffer, then offer your support. You are not sworn protectors. You are cowards.” His words were searing with accusation. The Archon was taken back by his sudden impulse of disdain. “You take our money and claim to protect us. And when the occasion asks that you act, you cower in fear. Just like the King.”

He smiled a deathly grin and his appearance began to transform further. In his smile, he revealed fang like teeth, yellowed, cracked and oily. Saliva dripped from the corners of his mouth. Rage garnered beneath his crooked smile. Under the concealment of his cloak, he revealed the shiny metal of a long hunting blade, he held the blade forward, trembling with rage. “I will prove to the world that you are a fraud Archon, and that the so called Seer no longer sees!”

Lyle lunged forward, knife aimed at the chest of the Seer. The Seer stared into the emptiness of space and time, seemingly un-affected by the sudden change of events. Lyle plunged the knife deep into her chest, blood spurted and covered her white cloak. She stumbled backward with a moan of pain and anguish. Helplessly she fell to the floor.

Ingel screamed in horror as she watched her beloved mentor and friend fall. Quickly she knelt beside the Seer and placed a hand over her wound to help stop the bleeding. The Seer gasped for air in between the garbling of blood that pooled in her throat and lungs. Ingel clenched the woman close, tears streaming down her face.

“No… no… please stay with me.” She sobbed and cradled the dying woman into her arms. Lyle looked down upon her his grin wide with pleasure.

“I did what was necessary oh holy Archon.” Lyle spat on her as she wept. “I exposed the lie of the false power you held over us for so many years. I have delivered the message of the Dark Lord Elixir. He is my master and I am his humble servant.” He lifted the blade now stained with blood and pointed it at the Archon. “You too will suffer the same fate.” His grin dropped, replaced by pure rage.

He slashed violently forward, this time the attack was aimed at the Archon’s throat. She ducked beneath Lyle’s blade and quickly extended her hand forward, palm facing outward. Beams of white light and elements swirled in a mist about her extended arm. In an instant, the whir of white light exploded from her palm and crashed into the man. His body was whipped away effortlessly, crashing into the wall on the adjacent side of the room. His body struck the wall with a sickening sound and then slumped to the floor. Stone crumbled from the damaged wall and buried him.

In the next instant the guard came running into the room. His eyes widened when he saw the gruesome sight of the dying Seer, her head cradled in the lap of the Archon.

“What has happened…?” He asked.

The Archon shook her head and pointed to the other side of the room, to where the piles of stone lay upon the remains of Lyle. “Check him.” She said and then returned to caring for the dying Seer.

“Ethi’el, please don’t leave me,” The Archon sobbed, burying her face into the dying woman’s shoulder.

“Ingen…” The Seer whispered. “Please. don’t fear. for me…I am not afraid…” The Seer spoke in a barely audible whisper.

The guard hurried across the room to the dead man. He turned the body over. Lifeless eyes stared back toward him. Blood spilled from the corners of the man’s lips. “Archon he is dead. Crushed to death from the looks of it. Geoff examined the body more closely, he noticed a glowing sphere attached to a silver neckless on the man’s chest. He yanked the necklace free.

“He was wearing this.” Geoff said as he returned to the Archon and handed her the necklace.

She took the chain and gazed upon the sphere. There was a dark purple substance that swirled about with sparks of electricity, it appeared as it were a violent storm raging inside the sphere.

“What is it?”

The Archon shook her head and indicated she was not sure. Then the Seer stretched forth a shaking hand and took hold of the necklace. Immediately her body convulsed and her eyes lit up with a neon white light. She began to speak but her voice was laced with another’s, as if a man and woman were speaking in unison.

“I have returned from the Forbidding. My message has been delivered. I am Elixir, Lord of The Fallen, The Fallen will rise once more.”

The white in the Seers eyes vanished and she collapsed lifelessly into the lap of the Archon. “No! Please…please don’t die…don’t leave me.” Ingel sobbed once more, her lower lip quivered from the growing sadness in her heart. “You were everything to me sweet sister.”

After minutes of wailing and clenching the lifeless body of the Seer, Ingel finally came to her senses. The realization of a more devastating tragedy sunk into her mind.

“The Fallen have returned.” She whispered. Gently, she closed the eyelids of her beloved Seer and laid her gently on the ground. “And without her,” she sniffled. “We are lost.”

“It seems that this attack was perfectly orchestrated.” The guard observed.

“Hmm. It would seem as such. I do not understand how the Seer could not see Elixir’s return.” She looked at the guard. Hopelessness and confusion crossed her face. “I should have been able to sense his return as well. Have we really fallen this far away from the life blood of the Awakening?”

“All is not lost Archon?” The guard observed, offering a cheery response to lighten the mood. “So long as we have the Artifacts of Creation we can wish for the imprisonment of the Dark Lord once more.”

She shook her head. “No, the Artifacts were lost long ago. Four of the seven artifacts were hidden by the servants of Elixir. If Elixir finds the remaining artifacts, he will use them to resurrect the Fallen Lords. If that happens this world will fall.” She nodded toward the Seer. “Without her it will be impossible to discern whom in the four lands has the ancient bloodlines of the Awakened within them. Without the ancient bloodlines we will be powerless against Elixir…” She trailed off and began to weep as she brought the Seer close to her bosom once more.

“Are there no others who have the power of the Awakening?”

The Archon shook her head slowly. “I am the last of the Awakened. We are lost.”

Outside the Temple walls the storm continued to thrive, it seemed to crash more violently. Rain and wind descended furiously, lightening flashed proceeded by the loud clasps of thunder, it seemed as if the whole earth were shaken by the loss of the Seer.

Chapter 1

Asher shoved his tool into the dry ground, splitting the hard soil in preparation for the spring planting season. Beads of sweat dripped off of his face and onto his dirtied shirt. He and his grandfather had labored through the course of the day, clearing new land to expand the area to plant more food. Their village had grown considerably over the last few months, most of which were refugees from the Federation Wars near the southern border. There were many more mouths to feed and barely enough cleared land to sustain them.

“I believe we did a good day’s work laddy,” His grandfather said. “Let’s call it a day.”

 

Asher shoved the tool into the dirt, more than ready to be done. His stomach rumbled for want of food, his body ached and his skin was burned from the heat of the day.

 

He brushed by his grandfather and sat on a nearby stomp of wood. His grandfather followed after Asher, concerned by his grandson’s sudden change of behavior.

 

“What’s wrong laddy?” His grandfather asked. His joints cracked and creaked as he sat beside Asher. Asher shrugged in response, he was lost in thought.

 

Below the field that they tended to, Asher could hear the sound of blacksmiths clinking metal amid the buzz of conversations that took place from the people in his town. He watched farmers tend to their livestock, taking special care for them in order to sustain the village. Asher loved the town he grew up in but he no longer wanted the simple life that his small town offered. Often times he would spend his wishing he could find a more meaningful purpose for his life. He could not tell where the need to leave the comforts and security of home originated. Perhaps it was the stories his mother would tell about the distant lands she and his father had seen while they served together in the Federation Wars. Or perhaps it was the tale his grandfather recounted about searching out an ancient artifact that was a fabled myth, told as stories meant for amusement by travelers that would pass through his small town. Asher loved the stories when he was younger, but as the years of his childhood left and he matured into a young adult, he doubted the validity of his grandfather’s stories. Asher was drawn to the realism surrounding the stories his mother told.

 

Asher sighed and looked to the sky as he often did, and watched scuffs of clouds float by. The white of the clouds were intermixed with hues of oranges and purples, the colors were reflections from the setting sun in the late afternoon. On the horizon, Asher could see the glistening waters of the ocean. It reminded him of how vast the world was, it only furthered his desire to search out a new life for himself.

 

“I suppose I don’t feel like I belong here.” Asher finally said after a few moments of silence had passed. “I want my life to have more meaning then just…” He trailed off feeling ashamed for what he was about to say.

 

“Then what laddy?” His grandfather asked. “You can tell me it’s alright.” He rested his callused hand on Asher’s shoulder with a smile of reassurance. Asher let his gaze fall.

 

“I want something more meaningful in my life then just clearing trees and planting seeds.” He turned to his grandfather. “Perhaps I should enlist in the Federation Wars. I could be a pilot on a Federation Airship like my father was.”

 

His grandfather sighed. “Asher we each have our place in the world. Those soldiers would not be able to fight in battle without the food we provide for them. Your place is here in Shady Vale working beside me and helping your mother.”

 

“But that’s not fair. Father, mother and even you had a life beyond the Vale. How can you expect anything different from me?” Asher saw that his words had an effect on his grandfather. His grandfather now seemed lost in thought as he considered the weight of Asher’s words. “Grandfather you left the Vale to seek out the artifact. You followed ‘him’ … the one you called Gaphii’el …. because he asked you too. You know I could not do anything less than what you or my father have done. Or were the tales you told, simply bed time stories for my sister and I?”

 

Asher’s words were heated, and to his grandfather, they felt full of accusation. His grandfather left the stump of wood he sat at and paced in front of Asher, trying to decide what words of wisdom he could offer his grandson. “Asher, those stories I told you and your sister are true. Asher you must understand, I did not seek out the artifact because I felt some desire to explore a new life, I left because I was convinced of the growing evil that Gaphii’el had spoke to me about. Your father and mother had no desire to be soldiers either, they were asked to. Your father and mother, even myself, did not go looking for danger, we went because we did not have a choice.” Asher looked at his grandfather, and then let his head drop to his arms that were folded about his knees. He saw little point in arguing with his grandfather, his words did not change who he was or what he felt.

 

Just then, a terrible roaring sound echoed above them in the sky. Asher and his grandfather looked to the source of the sound. A great airship flew overhead. Its outline was a massive silhouette of dark metal, it was large enough to block out the light of the sun, it cast a shadow upon all of Shady Vale. Wind funneled from its thrusters as it made a gradual descent and rested upon the outskirts of the Vale. Men and women from the town, abandoned their chores to investigate the airship after it landed.

 

The cargo door of the airship opened and armed men, dressed in grey armor, marched out of the ship. The soldiers quickly circled about the ship and held their weapons pointed at the town’s people. Orders were shouted for the people to keep their distance. Among the soldiers was a masked man with a long trailing cape. The masked man descended from the airship, cape billowing in the wind.

 

Asher felt his grandfather’s hand pull him down. The two ducked behind the tree stump they had been sitting on. “Who are they?” Asher whispered to his grandfather. His grandfather held a finger to his lips, an indication for Asher to remain silent. They peered over the stump and watched the soldiers form a perimeter around the airship.

 

The masked man studied the crowd of people. “There is a man who lives among you, who has an ancient artifact in his possession, where is he?” The masked man demanded. “Bring him forward and you will not be harmed.”

 

Asher watched the people cower and tremble before the soldiers. They were simple farmers and most had never been in life threatening situations before. The masked man gave a hand signal to one of his soldiers and the soldier grabbed the nearest woman by the hair and drug her screaming from the crowd. The soldier threw her at the feet of the masked man. The masked man lifted her up by the neck. The woman struggled to break free and gasped for air. “The artifact now! Or she will struggle for her every last breath until she dies.” The masked man demanded.

 

There were fits of screams and sobbing from the women in the village. Three more people were drug from the crowd. A woman, a small girl and an elderly man.

 

“They have my mother and sister. We can’t just sit here and watch!” Asher said and almost sprung up from his hiding place before his grandfather pulled him down once more.

 

“There is nothing we can do.” His grandfather lectured. Asher returned to watching the caped man interrogate the other three. He watched with anger growing in his chest, as his mother and sister were struck multiple times by one of the soldiers as they were interrogated. The beating was so brutal, that both his mother and sister collapsed to the ground, sobbing for mercy. The soldiers then started beating on the elderly man. He struggled to stand straight but the soldiers brutal blows were too much for him to bare. Finally, the elderly man caved in and admitted that he knew something of value.

 

He pointed a finger in the direction of Asher and his grandfather. “There over the hill at the edge of the forest. There is a man who has what you seek. Please…leave us be…”

 

The masked man turned quickly toward the direction of Asher and his grandfather. He shouted orders to his soldiers. “Over there! Find them!”

 

“Asher, they found us. Here take this quickly.” He handed Asher the silver necklace. Asher took the necklace in his hand and stared at the ornament that hung from the chain. It was a sphere laced in a delicate design of metal workings. Inside the sphere, clouds of deep red auras whirred about as if it were a living creature. Asher was mesmerized by the artifact.

 

“Asher! This is the artifact from my stories. Do not let anyone have it. Take it to the Temple Anin’Nar. Hurry!” He pushed Asher away, urging him to leave quickly.

 

Asher hesitated. “But I can’t just leave you here.” He watched his grandfather step out from his hiding place. The guards were close. “You will die.”

 

His grandfather turned and smiled. “I have lived a full life Asher. That artifact is worth more than all of our lives. Now go!”

 

Asher ran to his horse at the far end of the field. He quickly untied the horse and hopped on. Behind him he could hear shouts from the soldiers. With his feet in the stirrups and hands on the reins, he took off at break-neck speed toward the forest. He raced across the field of yellow grass which lined the forest’s edge.

Asher quickly risked a glance behind him. He saw one of the soldiers end his grandfather’s life, with a plunge of a blade through his grandfather’s belly, his grandfather fell to the earth, dying from the loss of blood. The tears began to stream down Asher’s face, his heart sunk with a sickening feeling, still he continued fast through the field and into the forest.

After they ended his grandfather’s life, the soldiers took chase after Asher. Technology and speed were on their side as they rode speeders, vehicles developed by the Federation to navigate treacherous terrain. Asher could hear the whine of the speeder engines behind him. Another quick look behind, revealed that the soldiers had cleared a considerable distance between them and Asher, they were nearing the edge of the forest. The gap between them narrowed quickly.

 

Asher’s horse continued at a brisk speed, Asher whipped hard on the reins determined to put distance between him and the soldiers. He continued swiftly through the forest, branches and trees were just a blur in his vision. He ducked beneath limbs of trees, careful to avoid them, then a branch appeared in front of his face. A sharp pain radiated across his forehead, blood trickled into his eyes, and his vision blurred and then there was blackness.

Chapter 2

Asher awoke to faint rays of sunlight which shimmered and shifted through the trees of the forest. The sound of birds filled the air with life and vitality. Wearily he glanced about, waiting for the fogginess of sleep to disperse, so that he might think clearly. In the faintness of the morning, he realized his horse was nowhere to be found. Hurriedly he glanced about, searching for some sign of the whereabouts of his horse. All he saw around him was bushes, ferns and massive trunks of redwood trees interspersed with pine. Panic festered inside of him. In the saddle bags that were strapped to the horse, was a few days rations of food, skins of water, and hunting supplies. Without them his chances of survival would diminish greatly.

 

He tried to recall memories of the previous night. He remembered his flight through the forest, with a handful of soldiers closing in on him, there speeders clearly had advantages over his horse. Asher had been fortunate enough to out whit the soldiers, his familiarity of the forest gave him a distinct edge. After he escaped the soldiers, his mind suddenly went blank. The next thing he knew, he awoke on the forest floor.

An aching feeling developed on the top of his skull, it radiated with pain. He placed his hand on his head and felt a lump, a bruise had formed that was tender to the touch. Then he remembered. During his escape he was hit in the head by a branch. He remembered it wasn’t a branch from a tree, rather someone had swung the branch deliberately to knock him from his horse. He did not see any distinguishing features of the person who hit him, other than it was a girl.

 

He sat down on the ground to think more. His fingers traced the outline of the necklace his grandfather had given him just before his grandfather was killed. He brought the pendant out of his tunic and fumbled the ancient relic between his fingers. He wondered why the relic was so important to the caped man that he killed his grandfather over it and evaded his home. As he pondered, he watched a mysterious glow inside of the glass sphere. It whirred about with a red aura intermixed with black clouds. It reminded him of the great storms that would surge upon the western seas. He heard stories from travelers about the destructive power of these storms. The storms would begin as spiraling mists and then crash upon the shore line destroying everything in its wake. Perhaps, if the tiny storm inside the relic were allowed to escape, it would destroy those who held it. It was a thought Asher quickly dismissed. In any case, Asher could only speculate on the importance of the relic, obviously it was something of great power. A power his grandfather never mentioned to him.

 

Asher’s hypnotic stare was interrupted by the sound of cracking sticks behind him. Quickly he turned about in the direction of the sound. Behind him, on a small mound of dirt covered by ferns, a small creature stared back at him with wide curious eyes. The creature was a mere three meters in height and had a frail frame. Its fingers were crooked and bent. Its knees were awkward and knobby, which protruded out of a grey tunic that was covered with dirt and grime. The creature’s facial features were triangular, with a droopy nose and long pointy ears. Asher could not help but laugh to himself at the pathetic looking creature.

 

Asher smiled and patted the ground beside him, as an indication to the creature that he was a friend, and that he meant no harm. “Hey there, are you lost?” Asher asked the creature. The creature cowered behind the ferns. After a moment, the creature timidly poked its head into view. “It’s ok, I won’t hurt you.”

 

The creature decided it was safe to proceed and it pensively hobbled towards Asher. Its hands were tucked under its chin as if it were afraid to touch anything else in the forest. The creature pointed a long finger at the necklace around Asher’s neck.

 

“Pretty…pretty thing. Makes Alby happy.” The creature let a grin cross its face.

 

Asher chuckled to himself and turned to sit ‘Indian style’ in front of the creature. “You like it? It was a gift from my grandfather. Do you want to hold it?”

 

The creature bobbed its head up and down rapidly, overly excited to hold the necklace.

 

“My grandfather says it’s an ancient relic. Will you be careful with it?”

 

The creature bobbed its head once more. Asher handed the creature the necklace. The creature cuddled the necklace in its small hands and gazed upon it longingly.

 

“Your name is Alby? I am Asher. You must be a forest-elf. I have heard stories about your people.” Alby looked up from the necklace and a snicker crossed its face.

 

“Yes Alby is forest-elf, last of my kind. Mistress protects Alby. Mistress will be very happy with this pretty thing. Alby thanks Asher for pretty necklace.” Then in a whir, the forest-elf spun on its heels and vanished behind the small mound of ferns.

 

“Hey wait,” Asher shouted after the elf. “That’s not yours. Give it back!”

 

Asher stumbled to his feet to give chase. He watched the forest-elf poke its head out from under bushes and around tree trunks. The little forest-elf ran circles around Asher, as it dashed about on all four legs. Then, Asher realized the creature was playing games and had taken the same series of turns. He decided to simply wait for the elf to circle back through the same route. Finally, he cornered the elf behind the trunk of a massive redwood tree.

 

“Got you now, you little thief,” Asher said and jumped around the tree. To his surprise, he did not find the elf as he had expected, instead, he was staring down the blade of a long knife. Asher hesitated. The hairs on his neck prickled and stood on edge. A thought crossed his mind that he had been caught by one of the soldiers from the previous night. He traced the tip of the blade to the face of a girl. Asher let out a sigh of relief that it wasn’t a soldier from the previous night. She stepped forward and dug the tip of the knife into Asher’s chest drawing a prick of blood. The forest-elf emerged on her shoulder, handing her the necklace.

 

“Get back now, don’t make this any harder,” the girl said, jabbing a little harder with the knife. Asher moved away slowly, careful not to stumble over any rocks.

 

“Who are you?” She asked.

 

“Miss… if you will put the knife down…I will explain.”

 

His words were interrupted when she brought the blade higher, this time under his chin. “Okay fine. My name is Asher. That necklace was a gift from my grandfather, I need it back.”

 

The girl looked at him curiously. She pulled back strands of dark brown hair which had fallen in a tangled mess in front of her eyes. Asher continued to stay calm, careful to not make any sudden movements. He watched the girl carefully, as she circled about him with the blade pointed at his neck.

 

She was dressed in forest-green traveling leathers and wore knee high boots. A bow and a quiver of arrows was strapped to her back, along with a large traveling pack. Clearly she was accustomed to the forest and accustomed to robbery.

 

“You don’t look like anything special.” She said and circled back in front of him. “Why were you being chased last night?”

 

Asher didn’t quite know how to respond. “They are after that necklace your little thief of a friend stole from me. They are dangerous men who will kill anyone with that necklace.”

 

The girl sheathed the blade and took the necklace in her hand that Alby had handed to her. “The elf is not a thief; he is my friend.”

 

“Oh you both are thieves then. And you both happen to be friends?” Asher asked sarcastically. “How convenient.”

 

“Stupid boy,” The forest-elf interrupted. “Alby is friends with girlie-girl. Alby no thief.” The elf then made mocking faces at Asher. The girl giggled to herself and patted Alby on the head.

 

“Alby is right. Stealing is a matter of perspective. Is it wrong to steal so you don’t starve?” She asked him with an honest look. Asher couldn’t help but be enchanted by her emerald green eyes. There was something about her that felt different, it felt almost other worldly. He felt his feelings slip for her. Then he realized how foolish he was. He and his family were in danger and he did not need to be distracted by the looks of a random girl in the forest. Especially one who robbed him and held him at knife point. But still the feelings were there…nevertheless. In any case, he needed the necklace back.

 

“Please just give me the necklace and I will be on my way.”

 

“You have no idea what this is do you?” She asked. Asher shook his head ‘no’. “This is one of the seven Artifacts of Creation.”

 

“Artifacts of Creation? I have never heard of it.” Asher said with a look of confusion on his face.

 

Kayla could see the blank stare on his face. “Oh dear, where do I start. The artifacts were created thousands upon thousands of years ago. There are seven artifacts in total that are scattered throughout the world. The legends say that whomever unites all seven artifacts together, will inherit the power of creation. Imagine the ability to create anything. Mountains, trees, gold coin, and… even entire planets. The possibilities are only limited by the imagination of the user. For centuries, the artifacts have been safeguarded in various temples by those who possess the power of the Awakening. Without their power, the artifacts could fall into the hands of evil men and then…. well you can imagine what would happen.”

 

Asher had heard legends of those called the Awakening. He heard his grandfather speak of the Awakened, but Asher only considered them to be fables to entertain around a camp-fire. “I thought that the Awakened was just a myth.”

 

Kayla shook her head. “I have seen the power of the Awakening once…when I was a little girl.” Kayla paused a moment.

 

“You seem to know so much, can you help me find the Temple Anin’Nar?” Asher asked.

 

Kayla studied him for a moment and shrugged. “What’s in it for me?”

 

Asher debated about how much of his situation he should reveal but decided the entire truth was best. “Those soldiers that chased me killed my grandfather, but before they killed him, my grandfather asked me to return the artifact to Anin’Nar… I am not sure why…”

 

She debated for a few moments. “I will take you to the temple and no further… deal?”

 

“Deal.” He said.

 

“My name is Kayla by the way and you already met Alby.” She said with a warm smile. “Oh I am sorry about your horse. I had to send it into the forest to get those soldiers off your tail. And that bruise on your head, I have no idea how that happened.” She snickered to herself and brushed past Asher. “Come on its this way. It’s a day and a half’s walk to the temple. Hurry.”

The three continued deeper into the forest. The trees became taller and the vegetation denser as they continued. They walked all day, drinking fresh spring water and catching fish for food. They talked little as they journeyed. The sun melted into the sky and the stars soon appeared. They slept soundlessly in the stillness of the forest.

Chapter 3

Twenty-four hours had passed since the masked-man’s soldiers had set out in pursuit of the boy, they had not returned with any information regarding the whereabouts of the artifact. It was a bad omen that he had not heard from his men. He clenched his fists in anger, how could a mere boy escape my men? He thought to himself.

 

He gazed out of the flaps of canvas that formed windows in his quaint quarters. Beyond his quarters were rows of prisoners from the small village who were held captive under the watchful eyes of his remaining mercenaries. The prisoners were a pathetic lot of whimpering children, whose mother’s sought to give them comforting words of hope, yet the mother’s knew that their words were lies, born from desperation. Even more pathetic than the women and children, were the elderly men. They begged like dogs for food and water. It was little wonder he did not care for the mortals that inhabited this world. He brought his muscled arms across his chest, feeling the surge of darkness and hatred rise inside of him.

 

“Pathetic mortals.” He said. “Mulling over their unfortunate lives. In time, I will show them that they have yet to experience true misery.”

 

Desperation grew inside of him for the artifact that the boy had escaped with. Of course he could search out the boy himself, by extending his powers into the world. But the risk was too great. He knew there were others that shared the same powers as he, borne from the ancient bloodlines of the Awakened. Those others, who were born of similar bloodlines, and who possessed the power of the Awakening, would seek him out and thwart his plans. It was a risk he could not afford, especially in his current weakened state.

In the darkness of his quarters, he felt the power of the Awakening churn and swell inside of him, it was as if it were a living cancer that was symbiotic to his actual life force, preserving his body for a thousand years until he was finally able to return to the world of the living. He felt the coolness of its presence guide his thoughts and actions. The Awakening began to form images in his mind. The images flashed, showing portions of both the past, present and future mixed together to reveal secrets that were never meant to be known among the world of man.

The churning inside of him continued. It conjured shadowy images inside his mind of men who had just emerged from the edge of the forest on the outskirts of the town. There were a handful of them, each broke off and went their separate ways save for one lone man. The mists of shadow inside the masked man’s mind formed an image of the lone man’s face. It was his captain, Captain Tankard. Within the shadowy mists that formed inside of his mind, the masked man watched Tankard slowly make his way through the village. Then Tankard stopped just a handful of yards away from the canvas quarters. The masked man could sense the fear that emitted from the Captain’s soul.

 

“I know you are there Captain Tankard. What news have you?”

 

Captain Tankard timidly entered the quarters. He was a round man with rosy cheeks and long hair that partially hid a fearsome scar across his left eye. He was dressed in furs about his neck with leather straps that covered his grey traveling cloak. He stepped into the darkness of the canvas quarters.

 

“Lord Elixir…the boy escaped.” He said with his head bowed. His hands shook at his side.

 

Elixir could sense the Captain’s fear growing, it was a sensation he relished and longed for. It was exhilarating watching mortals cower before his presence. He stepped out of the shadows and into the light of a nearby candle. His mask was made of rustic black metal that formed tightly around his skull, a type of breathing apparatus was strapped across his mouth and nose. Black slits for eyes glistened in the waning light of the candle.

 

“Unacceptable Captain!” Elixir berated the captain, his words sounded mechanical due to his breathing apparatus.

“We tried…we lost the boy in the forest…” The Captain’s words were cut-short by a sudden constricting of his lungs. He gasped as air was wrenched out of his body. His vision began to blur.

 

In the wake of his blurring vision, the Captain watched black energy radiate from Elixir’s outstretched hand. The radiating energy entered into Captain Tankard’s body. The captain felt his lungs collapsing inward. His consciousness began to slip. Desperately he fought against the effects of the dark energy that pulsated in his body, which was crushing his lungs. Then the Captain coughed blood and collapsed in a lifeless heap at the feet of Elixir.

 

Elixir stepped over the dead Captain and made his way through the canvas door of his quarters. The captive villagers cowered in fear as they saw his dark form pass among them. Elixir signaled to a nearby soldier.

 

“You there, take charge of this camp, no prisoners shall escape. If one leaves, they all die. Got it?” The guard nodded. “I must leave to seek out the artifact.”

 

Elixir knelt upon the ground and bowed his head. Again images flashed in his mind as the Awakening stirred inside of him. A black and purple aura irradiated around his being as he reached out into the world through the Awakening.

 

In his vision, Elixir could see the boy with what appeared to be an elf and a girl. They were sleeping deep within the forest. He let the images of his vision subside and then addressed the guard once more. “The boy is at the edge of the forest. I will reach him before dawn. No one leaves until I return, understand?”

 

“Yes my Lord.” The guard saluted.

 

Elixir swiftly moved across the camp and jumped aboard a speeder. He cranked on the throttle and tore through the village and into the night. His cape whipped violently about him as he disappeared into the dark.

 

Chapter 4

Asher arose early the next morning just before dawn. He stepped lightly past Kayla and the elf, careful not to wake them from their sleep. He walked away from their camp to be alone with his thoughts. He began to imagine the awful things those soldiers might do to his mother and sister. A cold draft from a gust of wind shifted through the trees. Asher hugged himself tighter, a failed attempt to keep himself warm. Despite his discomfort he still remembered his promise to his grandfather. He clenched the necklace his grandfather had given to him and whispered to himself.

 

“I will not fail you grandfather. I will rescue them.”

 

“Alby think stupid boy funny for talking to himself,” Asher spun around, startled at the voice that came from behind him. Asher saw Alby sitting cross legged on a giant rock just a few feet away. Alby hopped off the rock and crawled on four legs toward Asher. “Why is stupid boy crying?”

 

Asher could see the innocence in the elf’s giant brown eyes. Asher wiped away his tears. “First of all, my name is Asher, and second, it is because I miss my family. Their lives are in danger and I can’t help them.”

 

Alby nodded hurriedly, excitement and understanding lit up in his eyes. “Is that why Asher needs pretty necklace?”

 

Asher nodded. “Yes, I don’t know what it does but the people who are called the Awakened at the Temple Anin’nar can help. I don’t know how though.” He trailed off.

 

Alby scurried away from Asher and climbed upon the giant rock once more. He waved his hand beckoning to Asher to follow. “Come, hurry, Alby knows of a secret place.” And with that the elf scurried off the rock.

 

“Alby wait! We can’t just leave Kayla.” It was too late; Alby had already disappeared into the trees. Asher ran after the elf, dashing through brush and rock while ducking beneath large limbs.

 

Within minutes he finally caught up with Alby just outside of a clearing of trees. Past the clearing, there was a stone path that was lined with jagged rocks and descended into the darkness of the forest beyond. Asher noticed that the forest seemed much more quiet and still. The soft humming of night insects had suddenly ceased, all there was, was silence. Even the sound of wind rustling leaves seemed to have vanished.

 

Alby waved at Asher and beckoned him to follow. Slowly the two descended the rock pathway. After what seemed like an eternity, they made it to the bottom of the path. In the faint rising rays of the sun, Asher could see enormous monoliths of stone carved into the shape of warriors both male and female. The carved stone appeared to be part of an ancient structure that had long been broken and diminished with time.

 

Asher cautiously moved forward, taking care not to step on stones out of respect for the ancient structure. In the stones, he could see engraved writings of a language he did not recognize, he assumed that its interpretation had long since been lost.

 

“Alby, what is this place?” He asked peering about in wonder.

 

“Alby show Asher ancient building. Alby’s people tells stories of men and women with incredible power. We call them Shinan’nah. In the tongue of man, it means The Awakened. The legends tell that long ago, the Awakened had protected my ancestors against a great evil.”

 

Asher moved silently among the ruins, tracing his fingers across the rough cold stone. Asher felt as if he had stepped backwards in time, into another age. He imagined to himself what the Awakened warriors must have been like, he imagined the power they possessed.

 

“And these statues, are they of the Awakened?” Asher asked.

 

“Yes, yes, there was seven great ones among them. These statues are they. Seven great warriors for seven Artifacts of Creation.”

 

Asher continued to explore the ancient structure. He searched for any sign of who they might be, or if there was any indication if this was the Temple Anin’Nar that he needed to return the necklace to.

 

“I only had heard stories of the Awakened, I thought them nothing more than myths.” Asher said to Alby.

 

Asher continued to explore the structure. Weaving through arched doorways and broken walls of yellowed stone. At the center of the structure, was a piece of architecture which resembled a water fountain. It was cracked and covered with moss and vines.

 

Asher then returned out of the structure to speak with Alby. He expected Alby to be sitting on the nearby stone that was just below the rock pathway they had descended. Instead, all Asher found was dirt, trees, and bushes, Alby was nowhere to be found.

 

“Alby! Where are you?” He called out. “This is no time for games. We need to get back to Kayla.” He scanned the area about him, nothing. The elf seemed to have vanished without a single trace. Then something moved in the shadows of the trees.

 

“Alby? Is that you?”

 

Out of the shadows a dark caped figure emerged. Asher recognized the man by his gruesome mask, though he did not see it before as clearly as now. The man’s black metal mask, glistened in the emerging light of the dawn. Asher could hear the masked man’s mechanical breathing. Its sound hung heavy in the silence of the small valley. In both of his arms, the man held Kayla and Alby, each struggling to break-free. Anger swelled up inside of Asher.

“You are clever boy, but not clever enough to hide your trail.” The cloaked man stepped further out of the surrounding trees, his cape billowed softly as he walked toward Asher. “This is a perfect setting to take back what is rightfully mine. Do you know what this place is?” Asher shook his head ‘no’. “This was the place where I lost the remaining artifact and my soul was caste into the Forbidding by those who possessed the power of the pure bloodlines, the power of the Awakened. My brethren, those of the fallen bloodlines, did battle with them and pushed the Awakened to near extinction but not without their own demise. Now I Elixir, the Lord of the Fallen, have returned to take back what was rightfully mine. It is destiny that I should fall into possession of the artifact once more, in the same location where it was stolen from me and had led to my demise. Hand it here boy, or they die.”

Asher hesitated and exchanged glances between his friends and the masked man. His heart pounded in his chest, sweat already drenched his shirt. His mind raced through different scenarios of how he could rescue his friends. A quick glance around the surrounding area revealed that there was no route of escape, they were trapped.

“Come on boy, at least spare their lives. I will have the artifact one way or another.” A terrible energy emerged from the man, feeling the space about him with a dark hazy light. The energy hung heavy in the air and its effect was astonishing. To Asher, it felt like the very essence of death and decay, he felt his confidence slip to despair. The anger that swelled inside of him began to sway to the same feeling of powerlessness as before.

A hazy dark purple aura, emerged from the masked man’s being. It whisked about the man, as if it were a dark flame, and then the aura started to gather and funnel into the eyes and mouths of Kayla and Alby. Elixir dropped their bodies to the ground, where they began to convulse violently. Asher watched as their breathing was somehow hindered. They were gagging and choking, desperately trying to pull air into their lungs but to no avail. Their hands clenched their necks as they struggled to breathe and control their shaking bodies. Asher fell to his knees; tears ran freely as he watched his friends suffer. He looked up once more to the masked man.

 

“Stop this please!” He begged. “Here take the artifact, just spare them.”Asher tossed the necklace to the man and rushed to his friend’s aide.

 

“Asher,” Kayla muttered between gaps of breath. “What… have you done?” Asher saw the look of horror in her eyes.

 

“I had to save you. I had no choice.”

 

“Asher… I… would have rather died.” She choked out the words, still struggling to breathe.

 

“What do you mean?” Asher asked.

 

“She means, boy, that you have given me almost absolute power. With this artifact I will gain the power of creation. Once all seven artifacts have been collected, I will then gain the power of the gods. Immortality will be bestowed upon me and then, I will resurrect my brethren, those of the fallen bloodlines….” He paused, his voice changed to a low whisper. “And then this world will burn.”

 

Suddenly a whir of shadow cut through the gray light and crashed into Elixir and knocked him to the ground. A cloaked man arose. He held a staff in his hands that pulsated with a blue light. Amid the pulsating light was delicate designs carved within the staff. The gray cloaked man turned to Asher and Kayla.

 

“Run!” He commanded. “Go now!”

 

Elixir arose to his feet abruptly; black energy began to pulsate more violently about his body. Fits of electricity arched across his frame.

 

“Gaphii’el,” Elixir said. “How is it you still breathe the air of this world? You should have died centuries ago by the hand of my brethren.”

 

The man smiled beneath the cowl of his cloak. “I guess your little cult are not as fantastic as you seem to think.”

 

With that, Elixir let out a vengeful cry and lunged forward at the gray cloaked man. Black energy gathered around Elixir’s closed fist. Just before he landed a blow, the energy exploded outward from his fist and crashed violently into the cloaked man, and sent him soaring through the air. Upon impact, he skidded on the ground from the shear force and momentum of the attack. Elixir leaped high into the air and then fell downward, leading with the heel of his boot aimed at the wind pipe of the man.

 

Gaphii’el spun out from under the attack, and jabbed forward with his staff into the gut of Elixir. Elixir crumbled to the ground with a grunt. Gaphii’el sprung to his feet and swung downwards with the end of his staff, a large wave of blue energy erupted from the staff and engulfed Elixir. Elixir howled from the searing heat of the attack, it’s strength pushed him sprawling backwards. Once more, Gaphii’el released a wave of blue energy which shot forward and crashed into Elixir, but this time Elixir was prepared.

 

Elixir held both of his hands in front of him to keep the energy at bay. It pulsated around him with a incredible ferocity, he struggled to keep the energy contained. Then he reached deep inside of himself and uncovered a hidden strength. Dark purple energy gathered once more about him accompanied by fits of electricity that arched across his arms. In a massive effort, he heaved the blue wave of energy away, sending it crashing into a nearby tree causing it to set on fire. Elixir then, countered by casting a sphere of purple energy at Gaphii’el. Gaphii’el rolled away from the energy as it erupted on a rock just behind him. Then, Elixir pounced and launched a series of furious blows. Gaphii’el tried desperately to duck away from his blows, but Elixir landed a quick knee into Gaphii’els diaphragm, knocking the wind out of his lungs. Gaphii’el slumped to the ground, bleeding and gasping for air. Elixir picked the man up by the throat. The haze of dark energy emerged from Elixir being once more and it seeped into Gaphii’els mouth, he began to choke and gag.

 

Asher, Kayla, and Alby watched in horror as the mysterious man struggled for his life. “I can’t sit here and watch this.” Kayla muttered to herself.

 

“Kayla, there’s nothing we can do to help him, we need to escape while we still have a chance.” Asher grabbed her by the arm to pull her towards the hill, but she pulled away.

 

“No, that man, Elixir …. He killed my parents when I was a little girl. I can still hear their screams when I sleep at night. My dreams are filled with memories of watching their bodies melt away to sacks of bones and skin by that man.” She turned to Asher. In her eyes, he could see her hurt and pain. The heir of strength and self-reliance she portrayed when he first met her in the forest, gave way to vulnerability and doubt. “He drains the life from his victims. He drained the life from my parents.” She continued. “I will fight or I will die, I am tired of running.”

 

Asher watched as Kayla rose to her feet. Her hands were out stretched, palms facing upwards. Suddenly a whirl of wind gathered around her, her hair rose and whipped about. Spouts of electricity danced around her slender frame, as it had with Elixir. A haze of white energy, erupted from her body. It pulsated like the flames of flickering fire caught in the wind. Orbs of white light emerged from the center of her palms and continued to glow brighter.

Elixir turned his attention from Gaphii’el, and watched the girl, she was glowing with a furious white light. The light, spurted and flared, she looked as if she were consumed by white flames that licked around her very being. He stepped back and released Gaphii’el. Gaphii’el struggled to keep his consciousness, he crawled away still choking. Rage grew within Elixir. “Impossible!” He shouted. “She cannot be one of them…!”

 

With a scream, Kayla let the orbs of light burst from her palms. The light erupted and crashed into Elixir and sent him sprawling into the ancient stone building behind him. His body struck with such force, that the ancient structure collapsed, and buried him beneath a massive heap of rock and stone. The light then dissipated from Kayla’s hands and she collapsed to the ground.

 

Asher and Alby ran from their hiding place to Kayla. Asher quickly felt for a pulse on her neck. It was faint but it was there. Gaphii’el hobbled over toward them. Blood and sweat masked his face.

 

“She’s barely breathing?” Asher said to the man.

 

“We need to move now!” Gaphii’el spoke hurriedly, glancing over his shoulder in the direction of Elixir.

 

“What about the artifact?” Asher asked.

 

“Leave it!” Gaphii’el said and scooped Kayla into his arms.

 

Gaphii’el pointed the glowing staff at Asher. In seconds, the staff disappeared into thin air. “You are a fool to think a couple of rocks will stop Elixir. He is among the Fallen, one of the most powerful bloodlines of the Awakened. He will rise again. Now Move!”

Chapter 5

It was late into the afternoon when Gaphii’el decided it was safe to rest. They cleared the rim of the forest and rested in a field of tall grasses and sage. To the east the mountains rose majestically above the land, in hues of purples and blues, their peaks scraped the bottom of the sky.

 

Gaphii’el set Kayla on the ground, her breathing was shallow but stable. Asher studied the soft features of her face. She was young like he and in their short time together, he had grown strangely attracted to her. Somehow her smile dulled the ache of losing his family. Her presence replaced the void within his heart with hope. And after watching her mysterious power overtake the masked man, he soon realized that there was a way to defeat Elixir and save his family, if it wasn’t too late already.

 

Asher watched Gaphii’el walk away. The man produced a mysterious orb from within the folds of his cloak. The mysterious orb was glowing with yellow light. Gaphii’el seemed to stare into the orb intently. Then Asher’s attention was turned to Alby, who scurried on all fours next to him. Asher returned his gaze to the man, the glowing had vanished and Gaphii’el returned the orb into the folds of his cloak.

 

“Alby wants to know who that man is?” Alby asked. He gently rubbed a long crooked finger over Kayla’s hand and wiped away a tear that trickled down his cheek. “Alby’s heart aches for my Mistress, she is Alby’s only family. Will Mistress be alright?” Alby looked at Asher expectantly, hoping for some form of reassurance, a reassurance that Asher could not give.

 

“I don’t know. But I think we can trust him.” Asher said. “He saved us after all.” The elf nodded its head and returned his gaze upon the unconscious girl. Asher watched the elf for a moment before continuing their conversation.

 

“Alby, have you seen Kayla use those powers before?”

 

Alby shook his head. “No, Alby has never seen such powers before.”

 

Asher was not surprised. By the look of how Kayla had handled the mysterious power, he expected that was the first time she had used her powers, she probably had no idea that she was capable of such things. Asher left Alby and approached Gaphii’el, he stepped lightly, the dry ground crunched beneath his leather boots, as he approached. In the light of the fading sun, Asher could distinguish strange insignia’s on the back of the man’s traveling cloak. The cloak was a deep grayish blue, and the designs, seem to swirl and spiral about the man’s broad shoulders. Asher recognized the designs to be the same engravings on the man’s staff. Odd, Asher thought to himself. I wonder what they mean?

 

“I could hear you from a mile away.” Gaphii’el said. The man turned to face Asher, his hood was still drawn about his head. Asher could only see the bottom portion of the man’s face. There was fierce insignia’s tattooed across the man’s jawline and wrapped down the visible portion of his neck. His presence was forbidding and intimidated Asher. “What is it you seek boy?”

 

“I want to thank you…. for saving us.” Asher said timidly.

 

Gaphii’el turned his back to Asher and stared off into the distance. Finally, after several minutes of silence, the man sighed. “I was merely a distraction. She is the one we should be thanking.”

 

Asher glanced over his shoulder at Kayla. Her condition had not improved but it also did not worsen, which was some measure of reassurance. “Will she be okay?”

 

Gaphii’el shrugged. “She obviously has some latent power within her, she used some measure of her life force to energize her attack. It was brave, but incredibly stupid,” Gaphii’el said and pointed to a large cliff face that jutted from the valley below them. Atop of the cliff face, was a lone building. “I fear if we do not get her to that temple, the Temple Anin’Nar, by nightfall she will lose her life.”

 

The possibility of Kayla dying had never truly sunk into Asher’s heart until now. The thought of losing another person that he cared for was almost too much to bare. But whatever feelings of hopelessness he felt, Asher buried them, instead he chose to rely on the strength of hope.

 

“What did that masked man mean when he spoke of pure bloodlines and the Awakening?” Asher asked.

 

Gaphii’el continued to gaze into the valley, he watched birds fly above the tree tops below them. “It’s clear you do not understand the legends from the old-world.” Gaphii’el folded his arms in front of him and turned back toward Asher. “Long ago this world was inhabited by another race of people, our predecessor race. According to legend, these people were a highly advanced civilization who were able to alter their physiology in such a way that they could control and manipulate various forms of matter and energy. This new power became known as the Awakening.”

 

Gaphii’el reached within the folds of his cloak and produced a small leather bound booklet, laced together with fraying twine. He thumbed through the booklet and stopped on a page with a sketched design of circles and connecting lines. He handed the booklet to Asher.

 

“This is the Codex of the Awakening…. It is a map of all the known bloodlines of the Awakened. It was written by our predecessor race and translated by the order that I belong to, the Druid Order. The symbols you see are the runes of each bloodline. If one uses the power of the Awakening, then a rune will glow on the user’s skin. Through the ages, each insignia has been recorded and preserved along with its specific usage and power.”

 

Asher gazed upon the manuscript, he tried to memorize each symbol. He noticed the curious writing on the manuscript. “What about the writing? What does it say?”

 

“The darker writing is the language of our predecessor race. The lighter writing, is that of the druids who have interpreted much of the manuscript. There is still much to be learned from the Codex.”

 

Suddenly, yellow light dispersed from within Gaphii’el’s cloak. Hurriedly he retrieved the glowing orb. Asher watched the expression on Gaphii’el’s face take on a hard edge, as if the orb revealed some measure of unfortunate news.

 

“What is it?” Asher asked, while trying to glimpse at the glowing orb.

 

Gaphii’el turned his attention to Asher. Asher could feel the intensity of the man’s eyes. “Something has risen, something from another time and age. Its species was cast into the Forbidding many centuries ago. Elixir has set it free and they are hunting us. If they find us, we will not survive.”

 

“Then we run,” Asher offered as a solution.

 

Gaphii’el shook his head. “The thing that has been released from the forbidden will track us and kill us.”

 

“What about your powers? It was the power of the Awakening, was it not? Surely you can protect us.”

 

Gaphii’el set the orb on the ground and placed his hand on Asher’s shoulder. “I do not possess the power of the Awakened. I am a Druid, a wielder of magic. Magic is used to manipulate time and reality; the Awakening is a weapon made by the user’s life force. You must learn the Awakening.”

 

Asher shook his head. “No… I don’t have the power of the Awakening…I…” The Druid placed a hand over Asher’s mouth to silence him.

 

“I am not sure if you have the bloodlines within you but we must try, are you willing?” Asher nodded yes, his mouth was still covered by the Druid’s hand. “There is a small possibility that you can tap into the lower energies of the Awakened. If you are successful, then we might combat Elixir, just enough to escape. However, I must warn you…”

 

“Warn me of what?” Asher asked with concern.

 

“If you try to access the lower levels of the Awakening and you do not have the bloodlines of the Awakened, then your body will be ripped apart by the disruption of your life force.” Gaphii’el could see the fear in Asher’s eyes. “We do not have a choice, are you ready?”

 

Asher thought a moment longer, not responding immediately. His life was on the line and that was enough to make him want to run away from the Druid. But then his mind caught hold of his grandfather, and how he was unable to save him. He remembered his mother and sister. Asher decided that he had to try. If there was the slightest possibility of saving them, even at the risk of his own life, then he needed to take that risk. Finally, Asher made his mind up. “I will do it.”

 

Gaphii’el nodded and flipped a page of the Codex. “Long ago, a person could only become Awakened by being brought to the brink of death. If the person possessed the ancient bloodlines, then the Awakening would arise and transform the body, making it cable of great power, and bring the person back from the point of death. Their bodies would then be forever transformed. However, centuries ago, the druid’s discovered within the Codex, that the Awakening could be achieved without being brought to the point of death. By accessing the lower levels, a person could slowly grow into the powers of the Awakening. It is still very risky, but it is our only option.”

 

The Druid began to wave his hand in various directions, while whispering incantations that Asher could not decipher. This went on for several minutes and then flashes of light began to emerge from the Druid’s movement’s in the air.

 

“Asher, I need you to close your eyes, and recall the worst pain you have ever felt. Try to harness the hurt you felt. Do you have it?”

 

Asher reached deep into his mind and remembered his grandfather, mother and sister. He could feel the hurt and anguish rising inside of him. His mind went deeper into his past and he could remember the pain he felt from when he first learned about the death of his father. The rage and anguish began to rise within him.

 

“Asher push your pain to the surface, do not keep it buried.”

 

Asher continued to focus his mind. His memories repeated over and over. With each iteration, they became more terrible to relive.

 

“Focus your mind. Feel the Awakening stir within you.” Gaphii’el shouted. He continued his waving motions with his hands. Gaphii’el watched Asher focus, the boy’s eyes were closed tightly. The boy was sweating profusely. And then he saw dust began to swirl and twist around the boy’s body. Electricity danced about the boy’s shoulders, hands, and feet. “You are doing it Asher. Keep pushing.”

 

Asher opened his eyes. His fists were clenched tightly and he saw wind circling about him, accompanied by occasional spurts of electricity. It reminded him of Kayla, when she attacked Elixir. He pushed harder and focused his mind and energy. Then brilliant white light began to emerge from his closed fist. He opened his fists and examined his palms. At the center of his palms, a glowing insignia emerged, similar to the designs inside the Codex.

 

“Asher unleash it, allow the Awakening to come forth.” Gaphii’el urged.

Asher raised a single hand forward, palm facing outward. The fits of electricity became more violent, the wind a terrible rage around him. Then he felt something break inside of him. The terrible animal that was fighting to escape from within Asher’s heart, had finally broken through its cage, it was now set free.

 

Asher clenched his teeth and pushed hard, focusing on the symbol that had emerged from his palm. Instantly, a beam of brilliant white light erupted from the center of his palm. It filled the air with a blinding aura. It exploded outward setting nearby trees and brush on fire. Then as quickly as it came, the light dispersed and Asher collapsed to the ground breathing heavily.

 

Gaphii’el approached the boy. He walked slowly through the fire that danced on the ground. The hood of his cloak pulled low, he looked like a shadowy wraith. “Asher, you did it. Remember that feeling. That is only a portion of the Awakening. Rest for now, but be ready. Within the hour Elixir will arrive.”

 

Epilogue

The Archon rushed through the stone hallway of Anin’Nar. Her footsteps echoed softly in the large hallways. Her mind raced. Something had happened and she needed to know. Down a flight of stair she ran and passed a series of closed doorways. Then at the end of a long hallway, she rushed through a closed door.

 

In a whir, she passed her trusted guard, Geoff, who was dozing at a table next to a myriad of opened books and scattered papers. He opened his eyes wearily when the Archon burst through the doorway.

 

“Archon is something wrong?” He asked.

 

The Archon raced through the room, overturning tables and opening drawers ignoring the guard’s question. Finally, she found a round orb covered in dust. She wiped the dust off and set the orb on the desk.

 

“Something has happened.” She said.

 

In seconds, the orb illuminated yellow and showed an image of a boy in a field. She watched the image of the boy form within the orb, his hand stretched forth and white light erupted from the center of his palm, and then the boy collapsed. The glow of the orb faded away.

 

“What was that Archon?” Geoff asked.

 

The Archon looked at him, a smile crossed her lips, it was the first time she had smiled since the murder of the Seer. “Geoff, there has been an Awakening. The ancient bloodlines have not been lost.”

 

Dear Reader,

Thank you for reading my short story, I sincerely hoped you enjoyed it. It would mean the world to me if you would leave a [+ review+], I will read every single review. Please stay update with the latest news and updates at [email protected] Thank you so much 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Awakening: Artifact of Creation

After his home is invaded by mercenaries, Asher is forced to run for his life with the Artifact of Creation. Alone, desperate, and afraid Asher must learn to harness the power of the Awakening, an ancient magic born from the bloodlines of mankind's predecessor race. Will Asher be able to unleash the Awakening and save his family? What are the mysterious Artifacts of Creation and why do mercenaries seek to in order to obtain these fabled relics? Download now, and find out in this gripping epic fantasy saga.

  • ISBN: 9781370696857
  • Author: D James Larsen
  • Published: 2016-09-02 16:20:10
  • Words: 12587
The Awakening: Artifact of Creation The Awakening: Artifact of Creation