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Rated: E · Chapter · Action/Adventure · #1365808
Chapter One. Rate and review please.

    Welcome to a world where all that is seen, is not all it seems to be. Where magic and mystic mastery superimpose upon reality, what any one person wills as necessary. In spite of what may actually be. Wisdom and foresight commune with passion and drive sometimes perfectly, often too late. A dance that you will find to be a way for freedom to make manifest a self-willed fate. Heaven a man can learn to depreciate, becoming a God in self; I-Ching. Perhaps that is what has always been, this thought is a treasure. What does it mean?
    Let us travel now to Austasia, a land considered by many to be perfectly free. All of life is a celebration, a festival, of " I am happy to be.”
    Not all is what it seems.
    Shall we?

      “You ignorant old fool they are killing you, LET THEM OUT!!” The full fury of a heart released into reality, for  a loved ones sake, screams through the ancient halls of Excalibond. “Bless it be that my love for you, will spare you the horrid fate you have embrace for centuries like a prize. To the heavens I pray that you open your eyes, and see the futility of your endeavors.”
    Austasia’s royal palace had for years now been home to the constant fighting of its king and queen. Two humans granted agelessness, (as well as childlessness)by mystical means outside of their control. An irony really considering the inclinations and aptitudes they each exhibit.                                           
    “How dare you violate my dominion with your infernal sorcery witch?! The shadows are wisely and justly enslaved by me! Who are you to pursue rivalry?! Do you really think that it is right to put the whole of the world at risk for the good of one man?”
      Twilight sensually caresses her hips with massage. The Magician rage delights her in a way that can only be described as erotic. Supple breast heaving from anger, worry, adrenaline's excitement, and love; moist with the desire to taunt him further, she slowly tilts her nose ever so slightly upward before responding.
      "Self mutilation is what passes for wise and just in this age hmm. Forgive me for thinking (a sarcastic smile glorifies the knowing behind her eyes), but does that not qualify this age as . . .  The perfect age for shadow to be liberated from its cage? To do as it will to your precious domain. Not a single human heeds the sound of your voice and you still boast righteous love. Without discipline? Have you grown old past the ability to authentically acknowledge the world around you? Or is it I who may be deluded perceptively?"
      He falters from speech, he knows what she says to be true, that her intentions are genuine, but the sorrow in his heart celebrates a dominance that rivals even his knowing. Dare he torment the people of  wonderful Austasia with the dark curses that exist in his soul? Curses empowered by their naivety. Forever it seemed that he taught and toiled in an attempt to liberate every single one of his human royals. Liberate, that is, with words that seemed to always fall on deaf ears, and deeds seen with blind eyes. Was the shadow truly needed? Chalice silently prayed the thought gone, but perhaps . . .
      Twilight noticed the change in Chalices demeanor; the suffering in his heart.
This she considered victory enough. She had been acknowledged; her value allotted recognition; and his, as always his due in her eyes, exalted. She did love her spirit being tied to his so intimately.
      Suffering for those so far beneath him in every respect, was an intoxicant for her. She couldn't resist how his own compassion always made her heart sing. Pure bliss that never failed to soften her own tyrants poise. Calming the glare in her voice for a moment, she slightly withdrew.
      " The longer you hold it at bay the more powerful it will become anyway Chalice. It rages in its cage even now. Other than blatant release, all you can do is incorporate it into your own being, which may kill you . . .  And then spirit it into transcendence from within yourself, if you have time enough to do so. Shall I tolerate this? Why should I face the potential loss of your glory for benefit of their foolhardiness? Arrogant wretches! You leave them knowing nothing of justice! While your own bride watches you wither in the agony of their prolonged joy!"
      The reason he loved her so. She always had the solution to his problems, and gave them to him, in spite of her own will and wants.
      "Then it will be that we will suffer for them as we always do. Despite your resentment I know you'll stay at my bedside."
      Tears in eyes and gritted teeth were her only responses. She knew to well the strength of his will and resolve; she loves him for it, for all that he was. Yet she could not resist the ache in her heart, the pain she felt toward those he served. Always they danced and cheered without ever acknowledging their masters suffering. Boasting love for him seemed a mockery to her. How dare they?!
      Exiting the pearlescent royal chamber of the palace; the sapphire floors cool beneath her feet, deep in thought. Twilight stepped out unto a balcony that overlooked the whole west of Austasia. Although warm, pleasant, and scented with the wonderful Roslav that grew wild all over the richly forested countryside; the summer day did nothing to mellow her grief. The sky was blue and cloudless, the city of Rainrise; the capitol city that surrounded the palace; was bustling with thoughtless merriment, and drunkenness, as always it did. The women paraded all their charms and desirableness up and down the rose quartz streets that  intricately  connected the array of homes and shops to one and other. The majority of the buildings were built with bricks of amethyst, some of red coral, and others of aqua marine and topaz. Enticing the men to abandon all modesty and take them in full view of the public upon invitation was most often times the successful intentions of the ladies. Children acting as hellions, pushing , shoving, pulling hair, spitting in one and others faces, and like; were commonly accepted behaviors by fathers that were scarcely ever known to them. This freedom was considered a reward for them being loved by Chalice, a freedom she and her husband were never afforded. Nor would use in such a way.
    Chalice kept the people safe from karmic exposure, they could do all that they wished and suffer not; so they did. Her husband always used his mystic mastery to  pull away from realty the shadows that natural activity generates. In-caged deep within his being the shadows grew in power and strength. Despite his denial Twilight knew he suffered their taunts; she heard them to. They knifed at her very soul. Knowing what they were a product of, and how they had grown she dreaded what the future might hold for her and her most beloved.
      Her autumn red hair danced with a breeze that enveloped her with the fragrance of a perfectly preserved nature. A perfume her snow white skin magically retained and emitted,(one of her husbands many delights in her). Gazing with emerald green eyes at the mindless festival of life beneath her; one she did always warn against, she dreamed of a much different world. A world enraptured by meditative thought, rather than libidinously inspired deed. If only every human were her husband; how happy she thought she would be.
      " I must see Hermiticus," she whispered to herself," if we are to spare these fools their fate..."

    Twilight marched down the halls of Excalibond frantic with the desire to find a remedy to the infirmity that was absorbing her heart. The red silk of her gold and pearl trimmed gown sweeping softly across the floor, mind racing, heart pounding. Her husband's condition was becoming worse by the minute, she could see his once ageless face growing tired and weary.
    "Greetings Great Mistress Twilight."
    Recognizing the voice immediately Twilight steadied her mood as best as she could while turning to face her childhood tutor." Lady Conflincoln, great respect is enjoyed by being in your presence. How well are you?"
    Purple jade eyes looked scientifically back into Twilight's. "Great respect? Do you not consider me an obstacle in your hurry to serve yourself? Do you not consider one as ancient as I am useful in all pursuits? Do you genuinely know great respect?"
    Daughter of the air itself Conflincoln seemed to live and think outside of time. Legend depicts her as becoming manifest when the air made first contact with the earth. Naked always, with ocean blue skin accented by purple eyes and hair, Lady Conflincoln stood out as obviously other worldly. Respect was demanded by her however, because of her consistent drive to serve birth-lings, rather than lord them as others of her kind tried to. " Do you?"
    Humbled and emotionally stilled by the persistence and patients of Conflincoln's demeanor Twilight found herself ironically, soothed, comforted, and immediately consoled. Grateful for having redeemed calm, she presented herself as one should when standing before such a great woman, a true equal.
    "Thank you for your corrections great lady. Shall we seat ourselves, and be as one for a time?"
    "Indeed daughter of young heart. Suffering whispers from the hidden abode of you in the breeze. Shall I now worry as I do, and be prompted to be of service to you? Be meek in response young birth-ling and strength might become yours?
    "Chalice, Great Lady beyond all time I know, grows ill with the world in his heart. Prolonged containment of right has become now a greater wrong. Infantile and blissfully ignorant, his loves objects may be destroyed with any attempt to make balanced right from what is. His very breath he speaks to give to avoid this potential. Of this, what do you make?"
    "Still from your own strength you speak, buy time, be meek, and seek the mercy of your people. Stop your frenzied attempt to dictate, open the doors of many hearts and let the service of love legislate. Be meek. Surely effecting so many, this is not you standing alone, seek."
    They walk slowly towards a well lit parlor hand in hand Twilight's five foot eight inches so small next to her teachers solid seven stature.
    "You know the nature of this tribulation I can't dismiss?"
    " I am the nature you husband did seal, how could I not know of my own change? Am I not real?"
    They sat in two  sapphire and pearl encrusted, golden chairs opposite one and other. The sun danced off of the walls causing a hazy, dreamlike aura to permeate the room. Royal blue satin kissed Twilight's bare arms and shoulders gently making her envy, for just a moment, Conflincoln's freedom to be nature; her heart moved with divine sadness and shame.
    " The people you loathed you now can see, you have given your husband strength. Freedom just as nature wishes to be. Chalice fulfilled his subjects hearts, focus those hearts as power for him now to be as he desires for we. Minds shall grow. Dark night's are not doomed to end in tragedy."     
    " I Shall seek to see the essence of your breath someplace within me." Twilight began to dream.
      Distant, " As sure as he is a Magician who has withstood growing opposition for seven hundred years with you alongside, two mortals becoming my breath should not be hard for you to do."
      Twilight danced the death of self seeking. . .
    Faces... Faces of the so many loved ones she had outlived cascaded through her mind. This part of the process was the hardest. Her history, her reality unraveling, forcing her to release all she held dear and near to her heart as if though her every love was a pointless adherence to a worthless reality.
    Loss and it's pain, an ignorance she could not afford to suffer now, had to be transcended in order for death to be a success. "Always we are together as one; as certainly as together we effected reality, it will be always touched by us. We will never be lost to one and other, as we had been we will be always; dancers enjoying communal harmony. Growing." The faces began to fade one by one, making her spirit stronger.
    Surrounded now by an intense heated red, many voices start swirling around inside of her mind."I hate the way he mocks me!"
    "Rape, it was rape!"       
    "Please let it end!"
    "They deserve death kill them, kill them all!" and on and on...
    Knowing well what this was, Twilight gathered her strength against her enemies.
Against the red she focused on water saying; "Anger and rage of the meek, shouting out against the tyranny of the self proclaimed elite. Know, that as you genuinely grow you shall flow into reality against them. Become not as the her, and the him, who have slighted you. Your natural drive for peace will tell you what to do. Pray for the enemy that has been inspired within yourself, and become the heavens wealth that you are, and have always been. Begin again. Justice is surely karmic, and never yours to have, unto the value of your true self grab, and be glad that you are not the monster." Calm became manifest within her soul. All stopped, and began to darken.
    Suspended, stuck, not moving, surrounded by the black of night. Twilight feels the pangs of fear stab at her heart. Merciless and unyielding she almost begins to feel physical again. "No! I must go on!" She grabs hold of the darkness and embraces the fear. "Reveal to me now what you are."
    "Don't leave me please don't go. I need you. What of your duties your obligations!? Don't abandon me!" The voices were numerous, the sounds of many children, men, and women acting as hands grabbing at her soul. Amongst them she could hear her own voice, "I have failed you. I am a loss to you, how could you ever love me again." It sobbed so faithlessly as the others that Twilight became sick with herself. She knew however that just as she would the others, to herself she had to show, and teach, and believe in faith and compassion.
    "Fear not, all is made good, the time has come for this to be understood. We have lived out our duties as best as The Great Will would allow to be done. It is time to move on and receive our reward with the spirit of the One. Forgiveness of all failure and slight is true, let go of me now, for I have happily let go of you." 
    Successful she proceeded outward into the beyond and found her own home. Chalice stood before her, his delicious brown eyes seeming to gaze directly into her soul; "Hello my most endeared treasure. You have been away; why?" She turned away from his specter and would not look upon it, instead she prayed.
    "Our life together was but a lesson, and in leaving now I simply continue to teach. Never to far; no, never will I be out of reach. Though my whole essence returns to the spirit above, know that I have marked you mortal with the truth. My self; an undying love. The final lesson, is the final treasure, my gift. I leave you now with it, my kiss, goodbye. Free from all the world I am, allow me now to die. Amen."
    All faded away as a white haze swallowed her. She began to wake into her life, accompanied by a presence completely new to her being she looked calmly and yet powerfully into Conflincoln's eyes.
    "You have found the star. Through all trials it will empower you. Never false it will be there, guiding you. An awesome power. Always true. Here on earth it now serves you."
    "With it, what am I to do."
    "Go now to Hermiticus, with this gift on earth serving you, only a mortal can tell of, or find out, what to do. I bid you now farewell daughter, and wish all blessings upon you."         
    "Indeed, just as you, I shall." Conflincoln vanished into herself.

    Hermiticus was sitting yogi postured in the chamber of spinning eyes. Unlike the rest of the palace (adorned with gold, silver, pearls and sapphires), this room was circular and ruby red, with a spinning, silver trimmed onyx wheel in the center of the floor. Hermiticus had little need for furniture, he would sit for days on end centered and spinning with the onyx wheel, gazing into the enigma of reality. When tired he simply found a vacant room in which to sleep, hunger was rarely an issue.
      Aware that Twilight was moving down the labyrinth of glistening halls towards him; he began pulling himself from his trance. Becoming aware of his lean muscular body was always a treat for him, it tingled and danced as he returned; reminding him that solidity was as fluid as the cosmic sea he constantly paddled through. Always at home he rarely knew doubt, and stayed content. Happy and at peace, he was Twilight's most trusted friend and advisor; though she rarely disturbed his voyages, they remained very close.
    With open, understanding, blue eyes he awaited her arrival; without a movement or visible breath he sat, logically organizing the science she sought. " It is time for the final engagement,” he thought "time for shadow to die." His focused intensified.
"May it be."   
    "Hermiticus?" Twilight's voice echoed off of the ruby walls."Are you talking about me again old friend."
    Still spinning on the wheel his back was turned to her when she entered the chamber. The sound of her approaching footsteps sought out his eardrums, wanting them to vibrate the knowledge of her presence to his mind. He was more than happy to oblige.
    "Hello Twilight, it has been a long while. I'm happy you have come, regardless of your motivations. And yes the mystery and I were just discussing you." Facing her now he stood, and masterfully walked off of the spinning wheel. His balance perfect and unaffected by the movement beneath his feet. He approached her with a vibrant white smile, and long extended arms ready to embrace. They hugged and looked over one and other for just a moment before continuing.
    "I am relieved that you already know of my plight. Chalice; as you love him, is quickly being pulled from reality. His spirit is finally succumbing to the effects of the shadow living in his heart. We must act quickly."     
    "Indeed; I have searched the heart of the cosmos looking for the essence of the situation and  every feasible solution. I believe I have identified well enough with the matter to be of some assistance."
    "He stood almost as a sleep walker before her, savoring the blessings the cosmic identity had provided him for this reason. Fingers slowly stroking the white  pants leg that covered his thigh he sighed his pleasure into reality. The deep red of his lips made much more pronounced by the milky white of his nearly sun virgin skin. For far to long many would say he lived his life indoors away from natures grandeur. The slow rise and fall of his cover less, lean, muscled torso was as calming to Twilight as a peaceful seas waves."What a wonderful presence to be in know" she thought. He heard and smiled.
    "Follow carefully... Negative is a portent, designed by beauty's hand, the hand of The All Creator of All as it needs be known to man. But if all is that, and simply beauty, from what depth did the shadow rise. Perhaps there is a secret truth or meaning behind what all men despise. Maybe it is needed in the larger scheme of things, for would sunlight not become cold without the falling rains. As cruel as any one soul could make it seem, darkness is needed by light. Such is the way of this balance in which we live and can not fight.
    "This is the essence? The lesson to learn? Or the solution?"
    "All is all, past this I see only one thing. The Temple of Temperance, its image keeps flowing into my psyche. There we may get closer to finding the resolution for Chalice's predicament
    "Then we shall leave for the Temple now. I'll have the horses readied this second If we leave prior to sunset we'll arrive no later than midday tomorrow."
    "And Chalice, do you not intend to inform him of your exodus?”
    "He is locked in his study now, and I fear time more than anything. A message will be left for him, relaying that for his sake I could not wait.
    "Very well."
    They set off walking toward the primary entrance of the palace in order to rally assistance for traveling preparations. "By the way, what do you know of the star and its uses?"
    Hermiticus knew the fable of the star well, he was searching for it himself. “ The ancients taught of  star essence that rest within each and every atom that composes creation. Every star that you see shining in the night sky has placed here in the world a portion of it’s self. Occasionally a human identity will find the starlight they house within themselves, and  in becoming tied directly to heaven they become somewhat like an open doorway for others. The holder of the star is a paragon of hope, a guiding light for all to see.”
    “ Well, once a person is aware of the star essence within themselves how do they use it.”
    They were entering the atrium of Excalibond, the walls and floors a stunning sapphire blue, pearl pillars lined the full length of the fifty foot long, twenty foot wide rectangular room. A silver fountain shaped like a rose constantly poured the finest red wine into a seabed of almonds. Fifteen foot high, solid pearl doors that; serving as the main entrance to the palace, set open to the courtyard another fifteen feet below a ceiling manufactured from the purest gold available in Austasia. Hermiticus looked to Twilight out of the corner of his eye inquisitively.
    “ How does it use the person, would be a better way to ask the question I think. Being of a celestial nature, though it may serve an upright will, it is the will that serves. Does that make any sense?
    “A person aware of the star essence is the star, the star will do the persons will outside of that persons focus. Is that better?”
    “So the power of the star is founded on faith?”
    “And the nature of the heart.”
    “I see.” 
    Stepping out into the courtyard Twilight recognized Geo, an attractive young man of no more than twenty hanging upside down from a tree. Enjoying the world and life fully, he tried to see it through as many perspectives as possible. A meditative, zealous soul, Geo was a regular visitor of the palace, and a reliable hand when help was needed by anybody. Dark complected with eyes as black as the onyx wheel, and a firm fit body, he was also the personal favorite of many town tarts. Of all of his characteristics this later one was his personal favorite.
    “Geo, I need your help please.”
    “What can I get done for you today my lady.”He replied enthusiastically.
    “Hermiticus and I are preparing to leave for the temple, we’ll need to ready the horses, tents, and other supplies required for a two day trip. Also we would like to have some company, five or six people to aide us on the way, and back.”
    No response was offered, Geo’s attention had been stolen by the heavy black clouds quickly forming above the palace. They all ran for cover as it began to rain profusely. Lightning struck a nearby tree, thunder blasted directly above their heads; frightened they looked to one and other disbelieving.
    “This storm is mystical in nature.” shouted a wide eyed Hermiticus as they ran into the palace.
    Twilights heart nearly exploded with terror. “Chalice!”     

    Chalice had resorted to study after Twilight's outburst, he loathed knowing that her every spiritual ailment was due to the psychic bond that they shared; a psychic bond that he cherished. Enslaving the shadow of reality was his attempt to rid the kingdom of Harbish, a plague that killed thousands during his teenage years. It was all he could think to do to save his people, and spare them the onslaught of living decay. Memories of the plague still swam through his mind, bodies stacked six feet high. Living men, women, and children, forced to live the rapid decay of the grave. Their bodies dyeing but their minds acutely aware. Shivers ran down his spine.      Even then the shadow had strength but the will of his love was strong, and made it a feeble rival. Six months after casting his spell he was awarded marriage to Twilight, who was considered rightly, to be the most beautiful, and talented of all the young women in the world. Union of the two was arranged by A-Ron, Chalice's uncle, keeper of the Temple of Temperance and the sacred stones of The Walkers Path. Love was immediate and ironclad at first glance, a love that weakened the shadow outrageously. A weakening that Twilight also happily, and joyfully experienced.
      The gaze of Chalice's caramel brown eyes softened as he dreamt away his own selfish sorrows. Austasia's people were in danger of becoming the victims of the spell that had kept them safe for seven hundred years. Considering himself now, would make all of his past effort to better the world void and meaningless. Priorities had to be kept in line. Rest would come only after solution, sadly he knew a dire need for it now. Where had all of his strength gone?
      " Bodhisattva's boundless love and grace, burden bound you grow. Through and through you fill this space, till love of self I do not know. Christos, Espiritu Santos, Tzadkiel, Tzadkiel, Tzadkiel. Empower me now with love that does flow, inside and out you grow." Chalice chanted again and again until he felt the divine love of the All One Spirit (that he knew intimately) move in the breeze around his copper penny flesh. Inhaling deeply, the crow black hair on his arms stood from the electricity that moved around, and now through him. "Inside and out you grow." He chanted, on and on, praying to the Great One for the knowing and passion needed to overcome. "Amen."
      The private study of the Magician was a huge space, a twenty seven foot high, rectangular heaven of arcane knowledge and wisdom. Incantations were used to keep the room at a constant seventy three degrees, and free of excessive moisture (for benefit of the ancient scrolls). Very comfortable and one of Chalices favorite visits, he grew quickly into the greatest Master the arts had ever known. Exceeding his own fathers ability by the age of eleven; the whole of Austasia considered him the greatest promise any kingdom could ever know. Genuinely altruistic he wanted them to be right. Harbish however, after claiming his father when he was thirteen, empowered his more selfish impulses through grief; he acted without foresight.
      Although praised by the people for his deed, he knew they did not understand what the consequences for such magnanimous actions could be, in reality neither did he. He did warn, but never had the heart to expose them to the wrath of nature; wrath that was now totally his shame. He did desired to release the shadows long ago, but feared then, as now, that Harbish would be released with it. Forever it seemed that this crime had haunted him, a crime he felt only he should be punished for. If blood was demanded, he wish it his alone.
    He meditated on the matter more intensely;"Spirit what have I done. How do I undo it? For centuries I have searched; please help me." Focusing, dreaming, praying Chalice's body begins to relax. The room around him with all of it's contents begins to feel surreal; allowing the sensation, the calm, to engulf him he slowly is removed from the palace totally and finds himself in a forest, one like he had never known before."Were am I?"
    "A parallel world bordering your own."
    "Perversion of justice is your crime." A whisper on the breeze informed. "You have taken from all reality that which reality most needs; me. Vanity prompts you to boast yourself as having good intentions, and loving the world you think you serve. Yet all you have done really is serve yourself entirely, you love no person but you. This is what’s true like it or not."
    "No, that is not so; I love my people, I love them! There is no other reason for a man doing as I have done!" Chalice nearly sobbed.
    "Love them by giving them no reason to pray, soul search, and grow? Love them by robbing them of self entirely? Tell me what manner of love is this. I know nothing of this love, nor would I permit this." The breeze resounded peaceably."You are no more than a rapist, you have betrayed my will to glorify yourself, you have stolen from me my children and made them slaves to your mindlessness Chalice. You have made them worthless, and adorn yourself as their savior. Do you truly see love here?"
    Chalice dropped to his knees sobbing, the sorrow in his heart was all he needed to know that he was hearing the truth. He had raped those he proclaimed to love, a proclamation that was nothing more than vanity. He had taken from them with his craft their right to grow as individuals, the only greatness they knew was him. He cursed his own manifest self.
    Shouting now." What must be done, what must I do to spare the people my abominable deeds? I have withheld the dark night for so long that its being released will certainly destroy them all. Is this what I must do? Erase all of reality as it is to create balance?"
    Still silence was the reply, no movement, not even the breeze presented it's self to Chalice. His heart became a burning pit of anger, tears swelled and spilled from his eyes, ran down his cheeks, and over a rage gritted jaw."Were are you ghost? Do you have no answer for me?"
    Just then out of the dense forest, past the gigantic Sequoia's and Redwoods came a great brown bear. Marvelous to behold; walking on all fours it still averaged eight feet in height, with vicious wild eye's fixated on Chalice. He stood frozen as if his whole body had become an immovable stone. A radiant golden light emanated from the bears great jaws, was it carrying something to him?
    The bear stopped fifteen feet from were Chalice stood and laid a scepter on the ground. About two feet long, made of pure gold, and studded with diamonds it glowed as though on fire. The bear rose unto its hind legs and roared so loudly that Chalice went momentarily deaf and blind while he covered his ears. The pain in his head erased all of his sense of presence, his heart screamed the fear of death, his spinning body toppled to the ground.
    "You want mastery?" Hissed the breeze."Earn it!"
    Chalice struggled to reclaim his stance. Still dizzy he pushed himself from the wet, cool forest floor. With blurry vision, pounding heart, and ringing ears he searched out his opponite terrified. "Calm yourself," his highest self insisted past the panic "find your center."A fruitless effort, produced to late; the bear was on him.
    Charging Chalice with titanic strength the bear rose to its hind legs and landed a blow of unprecedented force, striking Chalice in the target center of his chest. Deprived of breath, and vomiting blood, his body was ripped from it's connection with the earth and sent flying through the air. Crashing into one of the nearby Sequoia's he lost all conscious awareness before his limp and nearly lifeless body found hard rest from motion on the ground. "Get up, get up" the voice in his mind screamed from a distance; "this is not a dream, you will die here if you do not GET UP!" His eyes fluttered open; the bear stared down at him with open, wet jaws.
    "Loyal spirit of my servitude, serve me now!" Chalice forced between fear gritted teeth as the bear's huge mouth searched out his head. The phantom spirit of a wolf surged from his being; like lightning it tore at the bears skull causing it to fall back and howell in pain. Quickly Chalice rolled to safety and found sure footing, his once flowing blue silk attire was now matted and heavy with earth. Tears created riverbeds through the blood and dirt that covered his face; raising his arms his eyes sought out the sky, and with a full heart he cried into creation"BIND THIS BEAST!"
    Empowered by Chalice's spirit the roots of the forest trees attacked, from beneath the earth they climbed, winding and twisting around the bears paws. Violently the bear tore and pulled away from captivity; Chalice had an opening. Grabbing a huge rock that rested nearby he darted at his attacker. Swinging the stone with all of his might at the bears skull, CRACK!! Direct impact!
    Finding safety from counter assault he spun around to examine the extent of his success. The battle was far from over. Stunned, not fallen the beast had slowed but was still working on reclaiming its freedom from the tiering roots. Chalice's eyes scanned the forest for another weapon, his purrephrial vison took notice of the scepter lying undisturbed on the ground, he made a dash for it. The bear charging against restraints vocalized it's rage once more, Chalice recognized victory, claim the scepter.     
    Enduring the mind shattering sound waves, eyes focused on the prize, hand reaching out, Chalice continued pursuit. His fingers nearly claimed the item when the bears massive shoulders met with his body sending him rolling across the ground; and then to his feet. One giant paw knocked the scepter farther away for them; the roots exhausted, the bear was free to turn and face Chalice who met his gaze. Oddly he felt respected.
    Cautiously they both stood their ground facing one and other. Chalice knew he could not allow this to go on much longer, his every breath was a torment, every bit of his body ached, the slightest movement made was a grievous one. The bears eyes began to glow an inferno red. It huffed, and growled while shaking it's head; Chalice knew it was casting a spell. Beneath his feet Chalice felt the earth begin to quake; the bear stood again on it's hind legs and then slammed back down onto the ground causing  waves of solid earth to set off crashing into Chalice. Knocking him back they began to burry him alive, he twisted and toiled against the onslaught of wave after wave pulverizing him from all directions to no avail, his physical being alone could not rival the spell.
    "CALM AIR, ALWAYS MY FRIEND, LIFT ME HIGH, MY LIFE EXTEND!!"A prayer cried through a terrified sob saved him, he was lifted into the height of the surrounding trees and spared the earthen tomb the bear intended. Broken and exhausted Chalice attempted to pace himself in the branches of a Redwood and plan another attack, he was sure his enemy did the same. Farther away from him then it had ever been was the scepter, it was the key to victory. The bears eyes were glowing. Chalice immediately evoked protection. "Elohim Givor, Elohim Givor, Elohim Givor, from the center of all manifestation, bless me with the grace of your protection from the trials of this war." The bear whimpered a growl and bobbed as though confused and disoriented, its concentration broken Chalice had time to move. Summoning the air again chalice was lifted from the branches and carried to his victory, soaring above the bears head he landed just steps away from the scepter. His eyes swelled again with tears, this time of thanks and relief.
    Scepter in hand he turned and faced his nemesis readying another attack, perhaps fire, perhaps lightning, perhaps.... With a bowed head the bear stepped back. Puzzled Chalice looked at the fiery object in his hand, he felt empowered, but lost. What manner of magic was this?
    "A physical bridge built between to neighboring dimensions."
    "Time will tell." Answered the air."You have forever gained the respect of this dimensions beating heart, a respect that will go to your own dimension with you. Perhaps what you have gained here, you will also gain there.” 
    Chalice thought to question this response but the bear interrupted his thoughts with a clearly amicable approach, lying before Chalice on the ground it practically purred while it waited.
    “She will take you home now.”
    Amazed, Chalice climbed trustingly unto the bears back. Her fur was coarse, thick, filthy, matted, and smelled of the ground he had spent so much time on today. As soon as he had a secure and comfortable grip she was off, moving so quickly at once that only a green aura could be seen were there should have been a forest. Soon even that was gone, as was the bear, he felt as if he were hurtling into nothing, he closed his eyes and held the scepter firmly. 


    "Three people, our finest scholars, must go with me to Nashambul." In and out of the trance his consciousness did dance, providing him time to receive, speak and instruct simultaneously. The ten sacred stones of The Walker's Path circling in mid air around his head so quickly, that they became the halo of golden light freeing him from this reality.
    "There we will redeem the essence of light casting shadow from Glistamos... We must be weary of his eternal untrustworthy instability... Hatred he harbors towards humanity... Men made like ice... His immortal heart... His heart..." The images begin to fade; the stones take rest on the ground around Trinton; a direct descendant of A-Ron; keeper of the temple.
    Trinton's body was shaking and weak from weeks of fasting. Reoccurring dreams about great beast emerging from a huge pit and wreaking havoc unlike ever before seen by man, had been torturing him for years now. A constant fear for the royal couple resided in his heart for no apparent reason. The whole world seemed a falsehood to him, one against which he had to act. Now he searched for the means.
    Radiant, hypnotic black eyes confessed to all who saw him exhaustion and depression. Dirt matted black hair, and a thick layer of time accumulated oil betrayed the beauty of the olive skin that generally complimented his fine, chiseled, labor built frame, and face. Wearing the garments of a broken man he mourned for nobody, and no reason.
    "Gathered together around him were the remnants of the temples priesthood; a mere few hundred from what was thousands in A-Ron's day. People's living in a perpetual state of bliss gave them no reason to attend services or believe; slowly the once great Temple of Temperance began to die. Trinton knew in his heart that it was time now for the temple to be glorified once again, strangely he was sad.
    "This will be not more than suicide for any man foolish enough to go." A voice in the audience proclaimed. "And for what reason, what reason!? Why must we now, all of the sudden run into death?" A communal demand for a reasonable response cried forth.
    "To do as the Highest intends for us to, tell me brother in faith what other reason do you need." Said Trinton.
    "Glistamos is the only creature yet alive that works from shadow, and kindly enough he adheres to a live and let philosophy. What good purpose does his wrath serve."
    "It serves the purpose of the highest. Of any certainties I do not know. Love is intuitive, and so it is not always reasonable or calculative. Know this my family and believe, though mysterious and illusive love can be trusted and relied upon. Were is your faith my brothers, have I truly failed to reinforce the greatest aspect of our human beings? What has come of my desperate striving. Show me now!"
    Demand was all that Trinton ever needed to do to separate the true from the false. Those who had faith stayed, others would become frustrated and leave. This time, in spite of fear, the whole congregation remained.
    "We will head out in three days; my young son Janustin shall stay as temple head. To travel with me I choose my brother Jonash and two persons of his choosing. I will now rest and prepare for the journey, all others shall continue to worship as usual. In your spare time you will study the ancient text concerning Chalice and Twilight whom we love. You are to report to Jonash anything your heart considers pertinent to our strange quest before we depart. Are there any questions? Then bless you and good tidings.” The people followed their orders.
    Lileve was praying at the alter when Jonash had found her, ebony hair reaching for the waist of the white vestments which concealed the beauty of her extravagantly designed body. Her warm and inviting personality made the charms she had been blessed with all the more treacherous. A Virgin Bride of Temperance, no man could touch her, not even in his heart, lest he be struck down by the balance. A genuine challenge for Jonash, he feared his love for her, but wanted to communicate it. Her black satin eyes turned to greet him, the holder of a pounding heart.    She smiled sweetly, “Hello Jonash.”
    Terrified of himself he cast his stare away from her, her skin the smooth likeness of a calm oceans surface at midnight. Her smile the same lily white of her robes. Forever it seemed he had been tortured by her beauty, and forever he would be, no other woman could compare from the moment he saw her. Always dazed he stood in front of her, romantically crucified.
    “Yes lady Lileve, my apologies. I have come to request that you accompany Trinton and myself on our trek to Nashambul. I must advise that it may be perilous, one from which we may not return; but also that it is for this very lucidity that I chose you. The skills, talents, and knowledge you boast insured your candidacy.”
    “Your very gracious, thank you. It would be an honor and privilege to travel alongside Trinton and yourself. May I insist, however, that Selene accompany us as well.”
    “The shadow seeker? Why?”
    “A perilous mission no doubt involves shadow, that which she has sought in vain and never known; let us give her rest. Please.”
    Selene, (many times over Twilights niece) was one of the few people alive who had earned the title of shadow seeker. A woman made discontent with harmony, looking for the means to disrupt it. Conscious effort invested, she sought to destroy the peace in her own heart and in the world around her actively. Always she failed. She did not understand how so few Austasians could think outside of the present moment, and see that something was wrong even if they did not feel it. History would inform them that life was different once, and so were they. How could they not want to know themselves? Her only comfort in life were the people she seemed most at odds with in the temple. They were the only people in the world that had maintained some of there natural selves, and even they resented the use of her use of the black arts that she devised herself and taught. 
    “I . . . Well give me time to think on the matter, it could be to dangerous for her.”
    “Jonash trust me, choose her.
    “She very ignorantly rejects all of our metaphysical teachings, thus she has no skills that would work to our advantage. Also, being a shadow seeker she may prove to be easy prey for Glistamos who genuinely has shadow knowledge.”
    “Noted. However intuitively I know she is the perfect companion. Why? I can not say, but I know.
    “Very well,” hesitantly responding, “I will trust your judgement. Selene will be invited to come with us. Please understand and forgive me if I pray that she refuses us, I fear she will be more a burden then anything else.”
    “I know, and I thank you for putting your fears aside and trusting me. It’s time for a rose to bloom, you will see, she will surprise you.”
    He nodded, turned away, and began to search for Selene. Lileve resumed praying.

    Walking through the temple aimlessly Selene did not want to resist the enjoyment, and merriment its beauty inspired. Erected by the ancient sages aeons ago, the temple was built of nature and light, no manufactured materials were incorporated into the structure. Zyus, the father of the faith,  found the ten sacred stones of The Walkers Path on the peak of The Mountain of Rushing Waters; at the base of which the temple now stands. Descending from the mountain top with the stones in hand Zyus used their power to build the temple from heaven and earth. The fertile ground was reshaped and molded into a suitable foundation for walls and domed ceilings of rainbow light. Trees grew throughout the temple like living pillars, the forest ground rose and fell like reversed gothic arches on top of which danced the full spectrum of  translucent rainbow colors.
    Regardless of her status as a shadow seeker, Selene secretly adored the beauty of the temple and its doctrines. The Communal Covenant of the Double Edged Sword in her opinion was a masterpiece of mystical commandments. Zyus also presented these to the ancestors of all men the day he descended from the mountain. It was for this very document that she was a shadow seeker, without the shadow they were worthless to mankind. The shadow was needed for individual and communal growth, she strived to find it so as not to become lost in the ignorance of bliss.
    She looked up from her meditations to see Jonash coming to her, instantly she willed her face stern, “What.”
    “I have come to request that you follow Trinton, Lileve and myself to Nashambul.”
    “Treachery! I know you loath me in your soul.” Knowing that he did not, “What mischief do you plan against me dog?”
    Looking over her vacantly Jonash answered “None.”
    Being as rude and insulting as her will would allow, “You lie, but I welcome your falsehood, it is my pleasure to know that you are my whore, the half hearted servant of Temperance. I welcome also your challenge, we shall see who slays who first.”
    “A yes then?”
    “Of course you pompous mule!”
    “Very well then, you know the travel plans, ready yo. . .”
    “Quit barking dog!”
    Jonash calmly walked away. Selene loved him silently. Taller than his brother with the same mesmerizing black eyes and flawless olive skin; he had for a long time been her heartthrob. She closed her icy blue eyes and wondered what it would be for her snow white flesh to be tied to his through the most sacred acts of intimacy. His large hands caressing her bosom as though it were her heart, or grabbing, in a heated rush, handfuls of her long coal black hair. Though tiny beneath him, she would feel as a goddess to be so near him.
    “What in. . .” Taking notice of peculiar activity she forced the dreams away (something she was very good at) and began to climb the mountain to get a better look at. . . The strangest storm she had ever seen. It seemed to her completely unnatural and unreal? Climbing higher to get a better look she saw. . . “Excalibond?”         
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