Authors: Jason R Jones
Table of Contents
Of Ghosts And Mountains
Jason R Jones
“An exodus is a grand departure or escape of spiritual importance comprising of flight from persecution, loss, suffering, the past, or slavery; resulting in a journey to a place of holy sanctuary, guided by God.”
My true opposite, my other half, my voice of reason, and the little girl grown that I do not know half as well as I should. Yet there you are, in my corner when I am not even looking, usually when I need you the most.
There is little that can be read of the great kingdoms of the continent of Agara prior to the flood almost four hundred years ago. Most history that survived is in small collections in the castles and libraries of nobility or hidden away in old temples and cathedrals. The countries of the northern continent of Ala Sere, under the rule of the holy empire of Altestan, saw to it many times over that written accounts were destroyed. Nearly three thousand years of persecution has driven the northern cultures to flee south to a land where myth and legend, the arcane and the divine, still hold hope for mankind. The fair skinned native Agarians introduced the northern refugees to their ways, the magical fey shrines, the mystical elves and dwarves, and shared the shelters of a new world under the moons. Great kingdoms and cities of spiritual power were constructed out of these cultural friendships. It was not to last.
The Emperors of Altestan had a lineage of men whose devotion to Yjaros, the One God, God of man, God of Gods, would not allow them to sit idly as their people fell under the supposed spells of lesser races. Great blended cities of various cultures and faiths were blasphemy to them and they felt the word of God guide them from his throne on the green moon. The Altestani and their mighty armadas swept over Agara destroying Kivanis, Aloeste, Arouland, and Mooncrest. They invaded and murdered those they crossed that were not human, much as they had done in their own lands so many thousands of years ago. Their belief that man was the chosen race and His children, drove them beyond care or reason. They made brutal examples of their interpretation of the will of Yjaros, despite the cries of many religions and worshippers of other Gods. Their armies massed by sea and land, cornering the last of the remaining clergies deep off the southern coast to Teirinshire in the kingdom of Chazzrynn. The Carician worshippers, bowing to lesser Gods of the white moon, had nowhere left to run and their allies had been annihilated or had surrendered. Branded as heathens and pagans by the oppression, they died as warnings to the southern populace. Yet victory was not to remain.
Atop the holy tower of Arouland, a young boy named Tarum knelt above the hundreds of thousands that had conquered and killed in the name of their God. A pious priest of Alden, the Lord of Heaven, Tarum began to pray aloud. Soon he was joined by the thousands devoted to Seirena, Megos, Vundren, Siril, and long lost Annar. Even many of the Altestani, hearing the foreign words of prayer in unison, began to kneel and speak to God. The waters of the Vateric Ocean rose, and within hours a terrible storm swept over the cliffs of south and west. The flood did not stop for the priests and clergy, for the warlords or sorcerers of Altestan, not even for Tarum or the holy patriots of Alden. The ocean covered the western cities, drowning northern ships and southern civilizations together. The empires of the north took it as a warning from God for not recognizing the lesser Gods and for their pride in conquest. Many saw it as a trap or a trick of magical nature. The southern realms saw it as yet another act of the Gods that made a martyr out of the tyranny they had forgotten existed. But some knew the truth.
The mortal wars of land and sea are mirrored in the heavens and in the realms of the two moons by the powers that be. There is a struggle for existence, for free will from a creator that demands obedience and one that has been and always will be. There are no known records or histories in writing of what the truth could actually be. Books are lost or burned, stories change with each teller and new generation, and many a man would alter a tale should it be to his benefit. Thousands upon thousands of years could not hold accurately all of the myths and spiritual journeys that have occurred by mortal and immortal alike. No dragon, elf, dwarf or man could assemble together in a lifetime enough to show and prove the truths to others. Once those that were there have passed on, every story becomes history. However, there is one man who remembers well far more than he should, possesses long forbidden powers in secret, and has been in existence to see more than any man should have seen. Blessed, some would say if they knew of him, cursed says he who has survived it, the truth is likely somewhere in the middle.
Close to four centuries after the deluge as the Agarian calendar has shown it, the floodwaters have receded and one man is able to share of the journeys of those few he has seen gathered by divine fate. His story is one of pain and triumph, freedom, and mystery. Yet his tale is for another time. Deep under the bloody and bejeweled streets of Devonmir, awaiting his death, lies the divine carrier of a forgotten deity. In an attempt to rescue their friend, his companions that quest for the mythical mines of Kakisteele will face more than just the dreaded arenas. Their hopes must pass through the dangerous Misathi Mountains and by those that inhabit her peaks. Ancient enemies hunt them tirelessly for what they possess, and what they do not yet have.
Our teller of tales began watching from afar, listening to rumors and stories of how these strangers met, and why they remained together. Finally free of many of his own demons and curses, this man put together the sagas of ghosts and castles, giants and mountains, and far off places where it all began. The last stand of forgotten deities, lost kingdoms, and races destined for extinction has begun. He shall tell us, and his son, of the Exodus…
Clouds of midmorning drifted across the warming hills and dampened trees as I watched him run after the chickens. My son’s little legs had grown strong and his smiles were endless this past summer. Alessandeir rarely fell now when he ran. I tried for a moment to recall my youth of that age, I cannot. There is nothing of my childhood that stands out, just feelings of loss and forgetting.
I have achieved something
, the epiphany hit me. My son is happy, running, smiling, and free from worry even though his beautiful mother, Gabrielle, is dead. For once, I feel as though I have not failed at something completely. We have wealth, protection, solitude, and many things that I had never thought important until recently. Now that they let me return to the world to have a chance at another…
“My Lord Azarris?”
The man had been waiting while I daydreamed out under the sky. Thanks be his patience and respect of my false title. Sir Ullimar of Gillian, older man, wanted to know if I had any sons for the Shields of Shanador this year. The knight of this district of the kingdom had no idea who I was beyond Lord Sodom Azarris, thankfully so.
“Sir Ullimar, though my son will be a great man someday, I will have to decline unless Shanador wars against chickens.”
His laughter was as hearty as mine, his beard wiggled up and down, yet his hand never left the scroll at his side as we watched my boy go after the larger flock of fowl.
“Very well m’lord, truer words I have not heard this month.” his smile from under the gray and blonde beard was sincere. He breathed in my fresh country air outside of Gillian, which puffed his chest out even more. A hand taller than me already, the knight of Shanador was a giant in girth, much like his tan horse.
“I can tell we are to talk, regardless.” I knew serious postures behind casual talk. His armor plates from shin to shoulder were adorned with the shield and stallion crests of the kingdom, shined to a beaming reflection. His sword pommel glistened with the sun upon it’s feathered cross of steel. A cloak of green and gold trim tassels was blowing in my breezes. His brow lines above his big crooked nose wrinkled with the realization that I was aware he had another motive for the ride today. “I am correct?”
“On with it then.” I turned to face him, not wanting to take my eyes off of the moment we were sharing as my son charged through on a dozen hens before us. “What has happened in the north?”
“The Decadecy Conclave, in Acelinne, all noble lords are summoned to the capital.” he handed me the scroll. I handed it back.
“I am not interested in politics, nor religion, even once every ten years. I pay my taxes from my lands, and I tithe to the Aldane cathedral in Gillian. I have done my part for kings and church. I asked of the north, Sir knight.”