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Fan Fiction

Who doesn’t love seeing others play in their sandbox? And in this case, that someone is a man who had a huge influence on the Message. Have you seen the awesome map on this site? The one depicting the novel’s world? It was illustrated by the same Kevin Cantrell who wrote the following. Enjoy this and let it whet your appetite for more in the world we’re creating.

So without further adieu…


Background:      After the discovery of the first message, religions leaders determined that the scripture contained therlizzard_leader-finalein correlated with tomes that had once been written to warn of things to come.  These tomes had been regarded as holy for many eons, as their physical origin is unknown.   Once it was confirmed that the message was directly created by God, the message was taken into the holy City of Vine. There, scribes began copying its contents onto scrolls that were intended to be shared with all.

    These scrolls and the holy tomes were eventually entrusted to the Airmithis Monks, an order of believers who had cared for the three Towers of Sanctuary  (Sanctuary’vee, Sanctuary’cre, and Sanctuary’roe) for the last two hundred years, well before the fall of Azelon. These monks have a history of their own, but much of what is known about them is based in legend and parable. There is a story told of them that one of
their most devoted followers, Ocamas, had once been taken captive by renegades and was cast into the pits of Con’ra, a species of dwarf dragon that was known for their love of human flesh. The Con’ra did not attack Ocamas
during his stay with them, and it is said that the Con’ra still watch over the Monks to this day, ally to only their people.

       The story bellow occurs about fifty to one hundred years after the events at Cataclysm, about nine hundred years before Nor Azelon would break through the Pride and begin their assault of the Northlands.  Cataclysm marked the fall of more than one kingdom.  The southlands and northlands became without law for many years.  In response, Thelia organized The Thelian counsel, its purpose to restore order to a savage world.  Thelia commissioned what they called the New Azylonian Order, a militant unit designed to patrol the land to enforce a new government. Corruption had already begun to grow like a cancer within the New Azylonian Order, as one of their highest-ranking officers, unbeknownst to Thelia, was a dragon kin leader, direct guardian and decedent of “The Dragon” himself.  Thelians were a people that had little respect for mythology and religion, as their view was that religion encourages elitism, ignorance, and separatism among the people.  One of the Thelian Council’s first commissions for the New Azylonian Order was to rid the land of religious icons that would nurture such views and devotion to myth. 

 

***

 

In those days after the fall of Azylon, there arose the New Azylonian Order, conceived and lead by Thelian province throughout the land. This Orders’ first commission was to rid the New Azylon territories of religious and cultural icons that were deemed limiting, segregating, or elitist in their nature. The Order was permitted to use whatever force needed to carry out their orders, an allowance well suited to the sadistic corruption growing within their ranks.

 

A morning breeze danced through the halls outside Augras’ chambers, creating a haunting song as it pushed between the cracks in the door.   Augras had waken a few moments ago, but chose to lay among his blankets, listening to chatter of the birds flittering in the court yard outside.  The birds served as a reminder of God and the simple pleasures that life gave to him.  He smiled as he wiped the sleep from his eyes with one hand, whispering a prayer to himself as he lay there.

A loud thud against the hard wood of the door to his room startled Augras from his peace.  Startled, Augras’ heart raced as he sat up in his bed and pulled aside the sheets.  “Who disturbs me in this early hour?”

“Brother Augras,” a young man’s voice sounded from outside, “I’m sorry to wake you, but we urgently need you at Sanctuary’vee”.

Augras fell back into the soft cloth of his bedding.  “Surely Brother Pilas could address any issues you need resolved.   I trust him fully.”

“Brother Pilas is there,” the voice responded, “He is the one that has called for you.”

Augras sat up again, this time wide eyed and sobered from sleep.  Pilas was ambitious for a monk.  He was idealistic and tended to resist the opinions of those around him.  Even the elders in the church found Pilas too confident for the priesthood.  Rarely did he rely on the advice or presence of other brothers in the glen to help him with the decisions that were entrusted to him.   What could be so important that Pilas questioned his own judgment?  “Tell him I will be there shortly.”

“I will tell him you are coming.  Please hurry.”   Footfalls outside the door rushed away with certain urgency.

Augras dressed with speed, curiosity driving him more than concern.  Augras straitened the blankets out on his bedding and left his room behind, hoping to return soon to finish his slumbering.  Between he and the court yard where Sanctuary’vee stood, lay a long corridor, doors and arch ways producing a symmetry of their own along the way.  The corridor was dark and usually unlit, and the opening into the court yard stood in full daylight, making it seem white and undefined to the unadjusted eye.  But as he walked the length,   he heard protesting and angry voices echoing off the stone walls around him, its origins clearly just beyond that opening.   Augras found himself picking up his pace, curiosity quickly yielding to anxiety.  Anger was not a sound that ever echoed through these halls.

Augras emerged into the court yard to see a shocking site.  Men stood everywhere around the tower in the center.  Hand maidens wept at the footsteps of the two story door way to Sanctuary’s outer hall.  Soldiers stood in front of the tower entrance.  They bore those markings of the Thelian Empire, now the dominant force of the southlands.  Augras’ gut churned and his breath quickened.  What was happening?  Augras moved across the yard quickly through the mass of monks and priests.  At the front of the mass, close to the tower entrance, he found Pilas standing with a blank stare. Augras pushed his way to his friend through the mass of gatherers.  “What is the meaning of this?”

Pilas did not look away from the tower.  “If only I knew.”

Augras followed Pilas’ stare.  A man stood at the top of the staircase outside of the front entrance to Sanctuary.  He wore finely crafted armor, and wore a cape made from the finest linins in the land.  He was carrying a helmet that bore the markings of the Thelian army, the result of a united Thelian Empire that had risen after the fall at Caticlism.   This man was clearly a soldier of some rank.  He descended the steps when he saw Augras emerge from the crowd.  Augras was clearly indignant.  How dare these armies bring their war to this holy ground.

Before Augras could protest, the officer addressed him.  “Are you the brother, Augras?”

“I am,” Augras said, “and you are?”

“So you are the keeper of the tomes?,” the man continued, ignoring Augras’ question.

“What is this about?,” Augras demanded stepping forward into the soldier’s path.

The officer, a head taller than Augras, looked down at him, smiling a smile of near perfect teeth, a hint that he was of noble blood.  “I am Kail, chief advisor for the New Azylonian counsel and delegate on their behalf for the days ahead of us.   I am here to carry out the ordered removal of the tomes you hold and the demolition of Sanctuary’vee.”  Kail handed Augras an order, signed by the high counsel of Thelia, a governing body that dare not be questioned when their decision had been made.  Thelia was known for their treacherous response to insubordination of any kind.

But this could not be.  The counsel did not interfere in religious affairs of the various cities and villages spattered about the southlands. It was unprofitable for them.  “This must be a fraud,” Augras said in a suddenly angry voice, “The Thelian counsel has no business here, nor would they have interest.”

Kail smirked as he stared at the overzealous monk standing in front of him.  He held his gaze for an awkward eternity without saying anything, but his expression spoke loudly of the lack of respect that he held for the faithful man.  Kail turned towards the guards at the tower entrance behind him.  “Remove these people from the courtyard.”  The guards nodded and left their posts to begin pushing the onlookers back.

Augras could only watch as the troops began to carry out their order.  As Augras turned back towards Kail, he found the stately man already glairing into him.

“Where are the tomes,” Kail requested in a nearly genuine voice.

Augras said nothing, though fearful inside.   There was an ice…a soullessness in this man’s eyes that Augras had never observed before. His earnest studies of the scriptures of old never prepared him for the nightmarish events unfolding before him now. Though this man had made no opened threats to him, this nobility was threatening the world that Augras had grown up in.   Kail carried himself like a King, and spoke with assurance and educated diction.  To Augras, this was the kind of leader that destroyed lands.

Kail sneered and seemed to chuckle within his broad chest somewhere. Without breaking eye contact, he scratched his chin and then reached into his cloak with one hand.  “I grow weary of you, but I will ask you one last time, Where are the tomes?”  The sound of metal sliding against a sheath could be recognized, though whatever Kail had grasped ahold of remained concealed beneath his garment.

Augrus said nothing.  He had protected these scrolls his entire life, as had his father before him.  He was inherently ready to die to protect them.  The nobleman began withdrawing what was now revealed as a dagger from his cloak.  Augrus closed his eyes and began his final prayer for this life.

Pilas stepped in front of Augrus with a hand to Augrus’ chest.  “Wait,” Pilas said, “They are in the tower…hidden.”

“No,” Augrus said as he pushed Pilas back, “You betray our forefathers.”

“I won’t see my brother slain over parchment, Augrus.”

“You Fool,” Augrus snorted, “You don’t know what you’re doing.”

Kail had replaced his dagger and was now staring at Pilas. “Show me.”

Pilas nodded and began leading Kail towards the temple entrance at the base of the tower after exchanging a rather frustrated expression with Augrus.

“No!” Augrus grabbed the back of Kails’ shoulder, compelled to stop the hand that would destroy what his family had fought and died to preserve.  In spite of reason, one singular verse seized Augrus’ mind.  Be faithful to the faithful one and protect what he has entrusted you.

Kail turned and there was the distinct resonance of steel slicing air. His arm swung in front of Augrus.  Agrus felt nerves separate in his neck and the taste of salt in his throat. As Kail finished his swing and his arm came to rest, the blade he had withdrawn glistened in the sun light, casting a blood stained red across the courtyard.

Augrus toppled back, grasping at his neck, knowing that it had been cut cleanly through.  His limp body fell to the ground, collapsing against the grass at the foot of the steps. Even before his body had come to rest, the young faithful of the temple had rushed in to pull him out of harms way.  Augrus watched hopelessly as his friends dragged him towards the rest of the retreated, frightened crowd.

***

 

Pilas turned and stared at his fallen friend, knowing that Augrus had died a meaningless death.  Pilas had never witnessed death by violence until this day.  For a long moment, his attention disappeared into a sickening state of shock.  And, as his mind searched for a defense, it found the one defense that his people were raised to have…scripture.  “You take nothing from us that will not be restored, Lord Kail.”

“Will your God restore him?”, Kail stated as he pointed with his blade at Augrus.  “Show me the tomes, or you will join him.”

Pilas struggled to take his eyes from Augrus, as the monk lay still on the ground along the courtyards’ side, his hands still grasping his own throat.  “This way.”  Pilas opened the tall entrance doors and lead Kail inside.  Pilas’ gut was flipping, and his mouth was as dry as sand.  He kept seeing Brother Augrus falling back, gripping his neck. The image was burned in his memory. Agrus was right.  He had been a fool.

 

***

As the doors closed behind them, a thunderous clap rang across the court yard, barely disrupting the attention of the stunned congregation.  No one spoke to anyone as they watched Augrus’ body, waiting for one of those knelt by him to verify his death.

Augrus opened his eyes.  Brother Alex and Brother Kol jumped back away from his field of sight, both of them with disbelief on their faces.  Augus sat up and surveyed his own neck with his hand.  “I felt the cold steel cut through me. I heard my own flesh rip.”  Augrus continued searching for the wound with his fingers as he looked at his comrades.  “Why am I not dead?”

Brother Kol tried to answer, but was unable to speak.  His surprise had arrested his tongue.  “I…”

Augrus stood to his feet and started towards the tower, a look of renewed determination on his face.

Kol braced an arm in front of Augrus’ chest, stopping him from moving towards the tower.

Augrus looked over at Kol only to see him shaking his head. But he ignored the gesture. “I will not surrender those tomes.”

Kol frowned and lowered his posture.  “The guards will cut you down long before your foot falls at Sanctuary’s door step, Brother.”

Augrus’ eyes were calm and focused in the wake of Kol’s words.  He looked up at the tower before them.  Its shadow was now beginning to fall across the hopeless eyes beneath it.  He could not let this happen. Death would be preferable.  “Then I shall be cut down!”

 

***

 

Kail read over the tome clinched between his hands.  He seemed angry as he scrolled through it’s words.  It was an insult to the provision of the one he served. “How could such archaic philosophy and obvious lies survive in this modern age?”

Pilas knelt by the vault opening, weary from having cracked its seal and removing it’s headstone.  “You have what you have come for…leave us in peace.”

Kail spoke without taking his eyes off of the tome he was examining.  “You forget easily young one….I have come to destroy this temple and these tomes.  They will not survive in the new world.”

Pilas searched frantically through the vault.  He finally found what he was looking for and rapped his fingers around it.  The dagger that had once been used by the Goshan Prince to slay Covant the Destroyer rested under three tomes in the back of the vault.  As sacred as it was, today, it would add to its own legend.  “We Monks of Airmithis are willing to die for our beliefs, Kail.  Are you?”

Kail looked up from the scroll he had been sneering at just as Pilas thrust his arm towards him, dagger in hand. Kail grabbed his arm in mid swing and held it in place for a moment. Kail crouched slightly and peered into Pilas’ eyes.  His face was nearly one of amusement.

Kails’ grip was overwhelmingly firm. Pilas thrashed about as he tried to break free, but to no avail. Kails’ grip was too firm. “Well, little one…you would have my life to save your precious scrolls?” Kail bent down and leaned forward as he slapped the dagger from Pilas’ hand with his free hand. “Somehow…I find that admirable…futile…but admirable.”

Pilas’ eyes glazed over as he peered into the empty eyes of the man beside him.  They were as hollow and empty as the Thelian abyss. This man had no soul. “You may destroy this place…but this faith will survive.”

“Not in my kingdom.” A sound of metal against metal, a thud, and then a grunt from Pilas followed as Kail’s smile finally returned.

Pilas fell back against the wall and slumped over, a dagger now present deep within the flesh of his gut.  He looked down at the blade and back up at Kail.

Kail stood to his feet and dusted himself off.  “The blade in your stomach is made entirely from beriliam, a rare mineral found throughout the southlands, but deep within the ground.  There is an old legend that says that the blood of a dragon will bring fire to this stone.  Will your faith protect you from that fire, Boy?”  Kail held his finger out below the parchment and a flame began to grow from the digit.

Pilas watched helplessly and full of horror as the man before him set blaze to the scroll.  But this was no man.  His soulless eyes and the flame from his fingers gave him away.  He was something else.  “What are you?”

He responded to the question with a laughter bubbling deep from within. Kail tossed the scroll into the pile of tomes next to the vault and watched the flame spread for a moment before turning his attention back to Pilas. As he approached him, he picked up the blade that Pilas had tried to attack him with and slid it’s edge across his own arm.   What began to seep from the opened wound was not blood.  It was blackness.  A fluid like ink, except somehow darker.  “The truth is, your faith will die, and the Dragon will bring his fire back to this land.  I am his kind, and you will be my fire, Child.”  The creature grabbed Pilas’ jaw and showered his mouth with the dark fluid from his veins.  Pilas struggled to avoid taking the fluid in but as it hit the edges of his lips, it began to crawl on its own.  The liquid soon slithered down his throat moving with its own will. Kail drew a solemn, determined look as he continued pouring his own lifeblood into the mouth of his impaled informant.  The blackness in Pilas’ mouth was crawling back in faster than he could spit it out.  “Well, you have been most helpful, Little One.  My work is done here now, however.” Kail stated as he stood to his feet, “I will offer you this parting advice.  Don’t swallow.”

Even as Pilas tried to draw breath with a mouth full of darkness, he knew that he was about to die and that his effort to breath was in vain.  Pilas looked up from the dagger in his stomach to study the beasts’ back side as the official strolled a way, having turned his attentions elsewhere.  Pilas tried to breath in through his nose, but the blackness was unrelenting, crawling with spider like movements within his throat and nasal passage.   Swallow…or suffocate.

 

***

 

 

Outside, the crowd was standing quietly along the edges of the courtyard, waiting…wondering what was going to happen next and watching Augrus’ struggle.  Augrus had broken free from a guard that had attempted to restrain him and now made his way towards the tower.  As they looked on, the doors to Sanctuary’vee swung opened, and Kail emerged, empty handed.  Calmly, he descended the stairwell and gave the order to his army to pull out.  When Augrus noticed the official, the determination in him disappeared. He was weak with despair. Whatever deeds he had come to do must now be finished.  The scrolls had been destroyed. Tears filled Augrus’ eyes.

Within moments, soldiers began to march towards the exit of the monastery court yard, leaving the tower behind.  As the troops moved out, the crowed moved back into the courtyard like blood across a floor. Augrus watched as Kail trailed out behind them until Kail suddenly paused in mid step, staring back at him.  Kail’s usual grin of concrete disappeared and was replaced with an apparent expression of disbelief.

“Our God will restore all things, and you will bough before him!”, Augrus shouted with raging eyes.

The two men peered deep into one another’s eyes, Kails’ face twisted with obvious confusion.  After a long moment,  Kail said nothing, but glanced up at the tower and away from Augrus.  Augrus watched as Kail urged his men to run and quickened his own pace.  Kail and the rest of the raiding party continued to speedily retreat from the tower.

Augrus exchanged several looks between the tower and the fleeing guards. Fleeing from what?, he wondered.  Augrus began to resolve a mental puzzle. Kail had stated that the tower would be destroyed.  The tower was going to fall! “Move everyone back!,” Augrus shouted, “Get away from the TOWER!!”

 

***

 

Pilas hadn’t been able to breath for the last few minutes.  The blood of that beast crawled through every part of his windpipe and throat.  He must swallow, or he would pass out.  Pilas drew a triangle in the sand beneath him, a symbol of his faith, and then looked to the hevens as he gulped down the liquid.  At last, he drew his first breath, and fresh air rushed into his lungs. He had barely finished the breath when a sound like searing meat caught his attention. He looked down in its’ direction. A red glow began to grow and radiate from his gut and the intense sensation of burning began to overtake the pain of the knife wound itself. Pilas tried to pull the blade out but it held fast.  Pilas began to jerk from the burning and weep at the same time.  After a few futile moments of panic, the monk finally steadied himself and looked skyward.  Fear faded away, replaced by the grim vision of deaths’ hand.  The color drained from his skin. “Father, forgive me.”  The air around him erupted with light and his body was replaced by expanding matter and debris.

***

 

Augrus had been trying hard to push back the crowd further when a defining eruption of bass shook the monastery around them. The earth beneath him and his ear drums shook as he turned towards the tower to see it’s base walls disintegrate and debris begin to travel skyward.  A blossom of white hot flame consumed the lower third of the tower and the resulting shockwave knocked the onlookers from their feet.  Augrus watched as the tower quickly descended into smoke and flame, consuming itself under it’s own weight now.  A moment later, it was gone, as if it had never been there.

As the other members of the brotherhood began to scatter, Augrus stood silent, oblivious to the falling stone and panicked screams around him.  Deep despair etched his young face like crevices along a cliff side. “Pilas, why?”

 

Among the rubble and the many dead, Augrus still stood in dismay.  Kol approached from behind him and place a comforting hand on his shoulder.  “Augrus, your losses this day have been great, but the day is still young.  We have to warn the other towers of this coming storm.”

Augrus turned to his friend.  “What has been lost here this day is a loss to all, Kol.”

“Then let us warn the others.” Kol pointed towards the hills beyond the ruins.  “We may be able to stop them if we hurry.”

Augrus turned to face Kol and saw a gathering of seven men behind him, all waiting on Augrus’ command.  Augrus finally nodded.  “Yes…summon the Con’ra.  We must saddle up and move quickly, brothers. We must ride soon if we are to go ahead of them to Sanctuary’cre.”

Some of the men began heading towards the summoning posts to follow the command given to them.  Hundreds of men were beginning to gather in the court yard as Augrus stepped forward.  With a yell that came from deep within him, Augrus spoke to an audience of men erupting in emotional, rumbling voices.

 

“This evil will fall beneath our staffs this night!”

 

 

 

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