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Monday, October 24, 2016

The Ancient City

Dominic looked over towards Neko and shrugged, and then went over to where the ancient mystic stood waiting. The rest soon joined them and were soon perched on the benches surrounding the fire. Once Shénmi knew he had their undivided attention he began to speak.

“You may think your being brought together is a mere coincidence, but you would be mistaken. You are all joined in a way, that you will learn in time. Just let me assure you, this quest you find yourself upon was foreseen.” Here the old one stopped and looked at his enraptured audience. “You will all play a role in the future that awaits Cameria.”

Bo studied the cryptic old man, before speaking what he was sure the others were thinking. “Are you delusional? How can the six of us be some mysteriously foretold group? Where is this written? I have never heard of such a prophecy.” He looked at his compatriots to see them nodding in agreement.

Shénmi just stood there with a serene smile on his face, his eyes distant. Just as the group was getting anxious, he finally seemed to choose to remember he had been speaking to them.”Worry not, you all have roles to fulfill and soon they will become known to you. Just remember what is your strength becomes your role. Now we must get you made ready to continue your adventure.” As he said this he motioned to two acolytes, who left the room.

Neko stood and walked over to the enigmatic elder. “What are these roles? Can you at least give us a hint? What if whatever happens, and like we miss it because we didn’t know what we were looking for? You have to give us more than a few mysterious phrases, and then send us away.” He stood like a giant looking down at a miniature gnome. The ancient merely looked up at him, and calmly motioned for them to walk towards the arched entrance in the opposite direction from where they had come in.

Neko gave him an evil glare as he made his way past him, followed by the rest of gang. They entered a long hall which was lit by what appeared to be floating amber globes of light. At the opposite end stood an opening that appeared dark and foreboding. Neko reached for his sister’s hand without even realizing it.

CeCe felt the brush of velvet as her brother’s much larger hand nestled within her own. It was such a natural gesture that he had done since he was a baby. Her anxiety calmed with the connection, and she looked ahead trying to figure out what might lay beyond the darkened doorway.

When they reached the end of the hallway, they realized what they had thought was dark and foreboding was actually a portal that led outside. Only the view outside the aperture was not that of the camp or the forest. They stood gazing at snow covered mountains, at a faint road in the distance that disappeared between two solid walls of rock. They all stood with some sort of look of either puzzlement or shock upon their faces. As a whole, they focused on the ancient mystic.

Shénmei gestured for the acolytes to return the groups' weapons and other belongings.Once they were all armed, he had the helpers give them the parcels he had sent them to prepare. “Within you will find food, medicinals,as well as some warmer clothes for the colder climate you are entering.” He went to stand in front of the opening, and as he said some words in an ancient language it clouded over in a plum-colored haze. He then waved his hand as if to fan the haze away and once more they could see clearly out into the mountains.

He moved to the side, getting ready to let them exit when he held up his hand. They stopped their forward movement and waited for him to enlighten them further. “I almost forgot that which you seek, shall be found only once you hold the heart that beats for our people, and the eye that sees within.” He then motioned them to exit into the awaiting world. When the last of them had crossed the threshold, they turned to ask what he had meant to find that all that was behind them was the path on which they now stood.

Donny looked around and scratched his head. “Um, does anyone have any idea where the heck we are?” He waited for someone to give him an answer to his question. “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I prefer not to be lost out in the middle of some mountains, without at least an idea which way we should go.”

Azereus had been wandering around to get a better idea of the direction they were in from studying the way the shadows fell around them. He couldn’t shake the feeling that he knew where they were. He walked over to where CeCe and Neko stood, Neko was digging in his pack looking for something. Watching the young one, he asked CeCe “Does any of this look or feel familiar to you? I feel like I know where I am, but I’m still not certain.” CeCe lifted her eyes to study the trail before them and the mountain’s thrusting up towards the sky all around them. They had to be up in a higher elevation because the air was thinner.

Neko stopped what he was doing, and finally really looked at their surroundings. He squinted his eyes really studying the lay of the land before stating his thoughts. “Dude, I am seriously getting a sense of déja vu. Sis, have we been here before?” Now there were two sets of eyes looking at CeCe for the answers. Not to mention the fact that the rest of their party had joined them.

Bo, Dom, and Donny all looked puzzled. Bo gave his opinion of the question. “I for one have never been here, nor for that matter have the twins. So it is must be something just the three of you are feeling.” Now all eyes turned toward CeCe waiting to hear her answer to the question.

CeCe looked into her brother’s gold-green eyes and admitted to not only those gathered around her, but actually to herself as well. “ We are on the path that leads into the canyon wherein lies Mithral. The place where not only I was born, but Neko as well. If we continue to follow this passage, , it will lead us directly to the ancient city, well what remains of it.”
Azereus spoke as she finished. “I too was born in Mithral, it has been quite a long time since I have been here. One ever forgets the feel of their birthplace, it is etched into the very fiber of our bones. I suggest we make it quick through this pa before the temperature gets any colder. Or worse the weather turns against us.” He hoisted his pack on his back, before adding, “the least he could have done is give us our horses back.” The others were all in agreement as they began the long walk in the crisp mountain air.

Not far into their trek, the found their horses ground tied in a small makeshift corral. Dominic spun in a circle looking through bushes, and around the trees. “Dude, that guy really weirds me out. You mention our rides, and out of nowhere here, they are. Makes me wonder what else we can ask for, and it will suddenly appear. Hey Neeks, should we give it a test?” Here he stopped and waggled his eyebrows at Neko.

“Enough! You won’t be testing any such thing. Just be happy, that we don’t have to walk the rest of the way. Now saddle up and let’s get moving. It’ll be dark soon.” Bo demanded. Dom put his head down in subservience to his older brother and did as he was told. Once mounted they continued their trek through the thin passageway. They stopped only when it became too dangerous to carry on. After a quick supper, they slept. They were mounted and back in the saddle just as the sun broke over the mountain.

As they rode they discussed the cryptic words the old mystic had uttered before sending them on their journey. “What do you think it means? Find the heart that beats for our people and the eye that sees within?” Donny queried the group in general. “I mean what is it with mystics, being all mystical and stuff.” He looked around when he heard the chuckles from all around him. It took him a minute to realize what he had said.

CeCe answered through her own giggles. “I’m not sure, but I think it may have to do with the Heart of Cameria. Before we were attacked I was going to tell you, that I think a jewel that was part of the Mithralian treasury bears a resemblance to the description given for the Heart of Cameria. One of which was actually gifted to me as a child. It was called the Eye of Mithral. Maybe they are one, and the same, which is why the message is so cryptic.” She looked around at her fellow travelers, noticing that they had stopped their horses as she explained.

They all fell silent after this as they began to move once again. Over the next few days, it seemed that they all seemed lost in their own thoughts.  Playing over again the words, the ancient had said about them all having a role to play. They each wondered exactly what their role was to be.

They had finally come to where the slender pass through the mountains opened up, and before them was their destination. They stood looking out at the view before them in silent awe.

The ancient city of Mithral was built deep inside a canyon within the Tlaqix Mountains. Massive stone walls surrounded the city. The walls were so thick that many shops had been located upon them, wasnow only the skeletal wooden beams showed thrusting up towards the gray sky. The small village of Caspian lay in rubble, just outside the main gate.The closer the group traveled towards the city, they noticed a feeling of somber gloom permeating the very air they breathed. A haze moved over the city in wispy tendrils, witness to the fires that had burned so viciously the day the city had been destroyed.
The group rode through the village and stopped before the gates and dismounted. CeCe had moved close to Azereus, and Bo noticed theweretears rolling down her face. He watched as Azereus took her in his arms and held her for a moment before she broke from the embrace and seemed to draw upon some inner strength to prepare her for what was to come. He couldn’t help feeling jealous of the fact that she had went to Az instead of himself.

They walked through the charred remains of the gate, that had once kept the inhabitants safe and secure. All around were the burnt husks of what remained of the populace that had once called the city home.They saw mother’s arms wrapped around the small skeletal bones of what had been their children. Others with their weapons drawn to fight an enemy long gone. By now CeCe was sobbing loudly at what remained of the people who she had been born to rule. She was the Queen of the dead now. Seeing how her mother had perished with her people.

She stopped in what would have been a marketplace when the city had been alive. The guys watched her as her gaze fell on the destruction of the once thriving metropolis. “I remember coming here with my nurse when I was a child. I felt so free, being outside the palace, where I was allowed to run and play with other children.” Her gaze then swept up towards the blackened remains of the once glorious castle she had called home. “We need to get inside, and hope that the way is not blocked to get where I hid my treasures.” She started walking in the direction of the postern gate.

The men all fell in behind her, letting her lead the way into her former home. The destruction inside the palace resembled that which had met them on entering the city. The remains of the dead scattered the hallways, and rooms they passed. Instead of leading them upward toward her chambers,where they expected a young princess would keep her treasures hidden. CeCe led them instead through the dining hall, and towards a archway where the remains of a door still stood.

Bo moved in front of her and shoved the door open. CeCe thanked him as she passed him, and as the others entered after her they saw that they stood on a landing with stairs that led down. CeCe walked over, and opened a small chest off to the side. She brought forth a couple braziers that held a oily sticky substance within them. She gathered her flint, and created a spark setting fire to whatever it was. A sweet smell rose up from the green colored flame. She handed one to Neko, and then thought to light a third to make sure they had enough light.

“Follow me. I hope the way remains open. This leads into one of the oldest parts of the palace.” She whispered before taking the first step down. “I came down here often to play, and when I needed to be alone. I always found it peaceful.” She continued.

“Where are you taking us, sis? What could be down here?” Neko asked the back of his sister’s head.

They had been going down what appeared to be a spiral staircase, that wound deep within the depths of the castle.The men now understood the need for the lights.When they had begun, there had been slit-like windows spaced evenly on each floor they passed. Now the windows had ended. Leaving them in darkness, with only the faint light from above, and the green flames that they carried.

They soon what they hoped was the end. CeCe led them through a door that was surprisingly still intact. Neko once again questioned his sister. “Sis, where are we going??” His ears twitching in nervousness.

CeCe held up her light in front a hall, closed off by a wrought iron gate. Behind the gate, they could see the burial vaults marked with the effigies of those lain within. “We are in my family’s crypt” was CeCe’s response. “The Eye of Mithral is hidden here.” She stated as she walked over and after unlatching the gate entered the holy place.

“I used to come here to be near my father after he passed, and soon it became, I guess you could say my place.” The boys followed her as she walked among her ancestors. She stopped beside one that bore an effigy of a kind looking Felis, not much older than Azereus was at the time. CeCe lovingly stroke the face, as her tears began again. “This is my father’s grave. It breaks my heart that my mother could not be placed next to him.” She moved toward the head of the vault,and moved one of the stones attached. A small opening appeared. CeCe reached within, and pulled out a garnet-colored velvet bag.

All of the group were gathered around her, as she pulled open the drawstring pouch. She upended a stone that fit perfectly in the center of her hand. It had a variation of colors. There was emerald green,royal blue,purple,burnt orange interlaced with silver, but at the center was a black pupil like that of one of their own eyes.

 CeCe held it up between her fingers so that the light could catch it. As the light from the green flames landed on it, it was as if it drew the light within. It began to glow, brighter, and brighter. Soon the light it emitted out shown the flames in the braziers. The whole group was suffused in the light. They each felt a warmth in the light, and then the light exploded all around them. Engulfing their bodies with it’s energy. As a one they all fell.As CeCe fell her hand now held just the eye as it had begun.A beautiful jewel.

Just a reminder if you like the pictures I use on my posts. They can all be found with links to where you can find more on my Pinterest account. www.pinterest.com/celtickitty66 

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