by Solitary Man
the prologue to a novel in progress it mixes high fantasy with modern. All reviews welcome
The Chronicles of Gatean
Five Winds of Change
Even before the first recorded age of man there have been revelations of things yet to pass by those thought to be prophets. In this world, as in every world before it, there are those who pray these prophesies hold true. Just as there are others who will do anything to stop them.
Eustephus was perhaps the greatest prophet of Gatean. During the fifth year of his reign as King he began to be plagued by reoccurring dreams. Only after he charged one of his educated squires with the task of putting his dreams to paper did they begin to evolve. Over time his dreams filled numerous volumes.
When his prophesies started to come to pass he stepped down from the throne leaving the kingdom in the less than capable hands of his son Eustas. Shortly after abdicating the throne he was named St. Eustephus the Enlightened by the First Church of the Evening Sun. It was then that he had what is believed to be his greatest prophesy known as the Five Winds of Change. As the first stages of this prophesy came to pass St. Eustephus was smothered in his sleep by his own followers, or so it is believed.
Just as Eustephus had prophetic dreams those long decades ago so does the gentleman rising from his fitful sleep. Climbing from under his makeshift lean-to he runs his fingers through his knotted beard and matted head of hair. He half stumbles his way to the nearby stream where he shares his morning face wash with a huge stag. The deer eyes him suspiciously, snorts, then he continues with his own morning rituals.
At camp Omistas breaks down his lean-to and retrieves his staff of petrified wood, which he had used as a post. With the grace of a man three times his age he sits upon a fallen tree to eat his breakfast of dried meat and bread. Chewing slowly his bloodshot eyes admire his surroundings.
The greens from grass and tree have taken on a brilliant hue for as far as the eyes can see. The smell of honeysuckle and the various rainbow of colors from just blooming wild-flowers have brought about a calming effect on him. The sounds of spring abound in every direction.
From his tree Omistas leans forward on the verge of exhaustion. With his staff he draws a circle in the grass. Around the circle he traces out a selection of runes. Slowly he forces himself to stand inside the circle. Eyes closed he mouths words from a forgotten tongue and the ring begins to glow red. The runes follow colored a tint of blue. He breaths deeply and the exhaustion leaves his body.
Wearing the lean-to fabric like a poncho Omistas leaves his forest camp to continue his journey on to the crones. Back on the road he pulls four horseshoes from his satchel. When placed on the ground they begin to float a few inches above the dirt. Dust from the packed road begins to swirl around until it gradually takes the form of a horse. Smiling Omistas pats the beast's neck as he slides his staff into its place on the saddle. He pulls himself up and they are off.
The horse and it's rider move along soundlessly riding above the ground. Only the slightest puffs of dust are left in their wake. As they leap a tree that has fallen across their path the sounds of skittish animals can be heard fleeing deeper in the trees and brush.
Up ahead Omistas can see the forest looks decidedly different. The brown dryness of death has begun to creep amongst the flora. There seems to be a dreadful stillness ahead as if the tree limbs are afraid to move in the gentle breeze. The road narrows with vines and brambles , thick and overripe, trying to overtake the trail itself.
With his eyes squinted near shut and his teeth revealed in a grimace of determination Omistas wills his steed to an even faster pace. Leaving one hand entwined in the reins, the other hand removes a pinch from one of the pouches secured at his belt. Quietly he whispers over his fingers as he brings the pinch to his lips. Slowly he opens his fingers and the grains float around him glowing white. The magical steed nickers with a great shake of his mane as man and beast fade away leaving behind a shimmering distortion.
Thinking of his recent dreams Omistas hopes they will prove true, but he fears what could come to pass if they do. These thoughts have distracted him, for surely under normal circumstances he would have known that his simple cloaking spell would hardly fool the inhabitants of the upcoming woods.
As the barrier to the dying woods is breached the vines along the road come to life and whip out cutting at the intruder's legs. Ashen eyes rimmed with anger and hatred emanate in the trespassers direction. The soft murmur of instruction is rapidly swallowed by the whisper of fae wings taking flight with news of visitors.
Omistas hears the buzzing and realizes too late his mistake. He pushes on through the twists and turns of the path. Miles roll by and the road begins to take a downward drop. Up ahead a village is moving rapidly closer.
There is a greater and a lesser ring of houses surrounding one elongated building. Everything screams of desertion. All of the houses are covered in brown ivy and blackish-grey cobwebs from foundation to rooftop. Entire sections of fence are missing and what does stand is broken, rotten, and insect infested.
Having no other safe road to take, horse and rider move along the path that will take them through the village. Suddenly there is an echoing thwang of bowstrings as a score of arrows fly from the windows and doors of the houses.
Letting go of the reins Omistas sits straight in the saddle. The irises of his eyes roll back into his head leaving behind bloodshot white. A focused anger etches itself across his face and he begins casting his protection. Palm out he raises his right hand before him and a circle of swirling green light takes form. The arrows shatter in an explosion of splinters. Glowing blue his left hand comes to his side and closes into a fist. Doors and shutters slam shut.
Beads of sweat cover his brow while he keeps his left hand tightly closed until he is well past the village. He opens his hand and ignores the stinging of the half crescent recesses in his palm.
The small hut that marks his destination finally comes into view. Omistas pulls the steed up to a stop at the little gated fence. Climbing down from the horse he grabs his staff from the saddle and strides toward the house. Almost as an afterthought he holds out his hand and the four horseshoes fly to his hand. He drops them into his satchel and the horse snorts loudly fading away.
Using his staff he knocks on the door twice before stepping back.
“Who has come before us?” three voices ring out in harmony from the hut.
“It is Omistas, of the High Triumvirate.”
“What does a wizard need of ones such as us?” the voices laugh.
“I have questions that only you can answer.”
“Are we so wise that we may know what a wizard does not?”
Omistas tries to remain calm, “There have been dreams. I need to know how much time I may still have.”
“Oh, eldritch, we all have dreams.” Again the voices laugh.
“It is prophesy of which I speak! Open this door before me!”
The door opens and with two quick steps Omistas is swallowed by the darkness inside. As the doors swings shut pallid faces watch from the treeline. They move to the edge of the wood with bows drawn and arrows aimed at the hut awaiting the return of the visitor to them.
On the inside the diminutive hut was vast. Omistas has to take ten long ambling strides before he reaches the circle of illumination cast off by the floating candles. Once in the light he could see the three crones.
One crone sits on a high three legged stool peering into an enormous cauldron even though there is only flesh where her eyes should be. The second stood mouthless on shaky steps stirring the contents of the giant cauldron. The final crone sits just at the edge of the light, dicing items on her table. Her hair covers the fact that she is earless.
Magically the sisters could not make a bean jump, at least individually. Together they were very powerful and gifted. Shortly after they were born they held hands for the first time. The energy released by that small action killed their mother and her midwife. A year later their father had his own mysterious death. Although there are many speculations and theories as to how they were raised no one has dared to ask them.
Omistas bows low before them, “Thank you sisters for speaking with me.”
“Wise one there is no need to bow to such as us. We are honored by your presence.’ the earless sister speaks in a voice that sounds like the three of them speaking at once.
“It has been over a great distance that I have traveled to seek your council. Excuse me for I am weary.” he says as he leans on his staff before him, “Troubling dreams have visited themselves upon my sleep of late. If what I see is prophesy coming to pass it will bring about unprecedented peace.”
A chair appears behind him along with a table loaded with breads, meat, and cakes.
“Then sit traveler and relax. We shall do our best to find the answers you seek.”
He sits to find that the chair is much more comfortable that it would appear. He lays his staff on the floor and attacks the table ravenously.
Sipping at honeyed tea he watches the bizarre silent ballet of the sisters. A sundry of items is added to the cauldron each one causing a different color of smoke to rise. Hours pass and just as the last morsel is cleaned from the table Omistas is asked to rise.
“Yes sisters.” he answers rising to his feet, staff in hand.
“Indeed the great prophesy is coming to pass.”
“I feared as much. How long do I have to prepare?” he asks as he holds his hand out for his staff.
“Not soon enough to fit your wants, but too soon for your needs.”
“Begging your forgiveness sisters, I need answers not riddles.” he says as his staff floats to his hand.
“Already the events are in motion that will bring about the Five Winds of Change. There will be many tribulations in the days to come. You must overcome them because they will need your wisdom. Your first test awaits you just beyond our door. Take heart Omistas what does not kill us makes us stronger. Good luck Mage, for the road to peace will be filled with toil and trouble.”
Omistas turns and moves toward the door. As he exits the hut he is met with the straining creak of bowstrings and the sight of arrows aimed at him. A long figure steps from the woods to give him a mocking low bow.
“Amertur, thi Veri. Vikdomi Guwi zoa domi to sitasp oas Leph?”
“Thank you for the warm welcome Leanderous. Alas, I regret that I am not here to bring tidings of your King’s return.”
Although the gathering of figures before Omistas is classified as elf, they seem to be cheapened imitations of the real thing. They still have the slightly pointed ears and severe eyebrows. Everything else about them seems false. Their hair once whitish blond and a soft as cornsilk now appears to be the dingy grey color of dirty bath water. Skin once milky white contains the faint blueness of bloodless skin.
“Vi guwi bi’ip ciristio ep oas goas of pi’ic!” Leanderous screams stepping before Omistas. “Upc zoa domi bifosi ar apbeccic apvikdomi!”
“Leanderous, please calm down you have not been deserted. Just as I did not come before you unwelcome. I came to visit the sisters.”
Leanderous stares into the violet eyes of Omistas then he shrugs like the choice is no longer his because the wizard will not see reason. He walks past the first line of elves and for the benefit of Omistas he speaks in the common tongue. “Kill him.”
Anger fills Omistas’s face as he screams “Enough!”
The elves hesitate for a few seconds then they slowly lower their bows and step backward. Perhaps realizing that maybe it is not so wise to anger a wizard.
“Ki’upeiso’ar, stop this infernal nonsense.” Leanderous reacts to hearing his name in his elfish tongue as if he had been slapped.
“It takes more to being leader than naming yourself so and whining about your misery. Hard times have befallen you and your kind, but not because your King is in self-exile. It is because no true leader has stepped into his place. That reason and that alone, is why your race and your land is dying.”
Removing the horseshoes from his satchel he again calls forth his steed. As he climbs onto the saddle he looks down at Leanderous with sorrow.
“If you truly wish to save your people, be a true leader for them.” Omistas calls back as he rides off.