Tales of Dilavia: The Prophecy
It was a dark day. The undead had risen and destroyed most of the population. Nine of the most powerful men and women of Dilavia were opposing this threat. The Dark Elves of Driak had not joined the battle, their continent safe of the threat. Krios the Necromancer, Born the Paladin and Dren the Thief came from the country Forg. Natura the Tree Lover, Grin the Neutral and Aela the Assassin came from Aeli and Jial the Priest, Aegis the Guard and Quill the Builder came from Brai. They were what the survivors named: The Nine. They had fought the undead in all it’s forms and all over the continent. But after so much battle, disagreement arose. Krios wanted to control the undead and had received support from Aela and Dren. Born, Jial and Aegis wanted to destroy them and Quill, Natura and Grin just wanted the threat to end, whatever the decision. This caused the six that had chosen a side to fight. The three that wanted to destroy the undead were victorious and had spared the three others. When the threat was ended, Krios, Aela and Dren reluctantly joined the others to form once again the Nine to be able to stay on top of the survivors, as their deities.
Chapter 1: The Paladin.
Lieber woke up after a long and uncomfortable boat trip, that was due to arrive to Forg much earlier. He wasn’t a very influential person. He was a Priest, not one that had much word in religious or political matters, but only one that wished to spread the truth. He hasn’t physically impressive either, he was quite tall but thin and not very strong. He was dressed in blue robes, short pants and brown sandals. Most noticeable was the white cape and hood, marked with ancient bright blue symbols that every Priest wore, people though that those. Lieber knew however, that only the Master Priests could have magical benefits, but there were only three of them alive. He was a very curious and intelligent person, always trying to get to the end of things and wasn’t afraid, but that often brought him into trouble.
The boat came to a stop: he had arrived at the capital of Forg. War had ravaged the city and most of the clan strongholds (each clan is based on their diety, the Priests worship Jial, the Assassins, Aela for example) were in ruin or in the middle of reconstruction. But Lieber had come here for one reason: finding the ruins of the Priest Temple.
Still groggy, he got out of the boat and took his first step in the city. The summer wind brought the scent of trees and the sound of hard working people. However he knew that this city wasn’t that beautiful. Since the Forg-Brai War, the King hadn’t that much gold left to rebuild the capital, so today the city itself has been rebuilt but not the Strongholds. The first thing Lieber did was to ask around and see if he could find a map. Fortunately, the people of the city were kind, and a Builder gave him a map that he no longer used.
In the central plaza, there was a sign standing. On it could be found directions to the most important parts of the city; the King's Castle, and the hotels and restaurants. There was also the 'Tree House' - not really a stronghold, but it was what the Tree Lover Clan called home. At the east side of the city, the road appeared to be blocked.
Asking around, Lieber could not find out much, just that 'It's a bad place to be, fellow'.
He was curious, and even though he had gotten into trouble before, he just couldn’t resist. Instead of looking around the city and going directly to the Priest Temple, he went to the East side of the city, keeping a knife under his sleeve just in case. After walking a long road that delved into the forest he noticed a small wooden cabin that seemed abandoned. There was nothing around it but trees and a bit of wildlife. Next to the door of the cabin he noticed a sign. But as he walked over it, four men jumped out of the trees surrounding the cabin. Two of them had bows pointed at him, one had fallen behind Lieber and had a knife in his hand. The last one approached him with a dagger in his hand and started talking to the poor priest:
“Give us your money priest!” the man said.
-Why would I have any money dear friend, I am only a Priest spreading the word of Jial! Lieber answered confidently.
-You are lying. I smell the scent of money on you and you wouldn’t be keeping that knife in your sleeve unless you had something to protect! Give us your pouch and you will leave unharmed!” the thief responded.
Lieber checked his right sleeve where he kept his knife but it wasn’t there. He turned around to find that the thief that was behind him was grinning, with his knife. He had taken it right from his sleeve without him noticing it. He felt angry, and turned around to face the thief with the dagger. He had just noticed he had an eye patch which meant he was an expert thief.
“Listen to me, I only have a few coins, do you really want to get beat up just for them?” he told him.
The thief looked at his two men next to him and laughed. His men did the same and it took them a few seconds to calm themselves down.
“Are you trying to intimidate me? You are in OUR territory and you try to intimidate me?”
He looked at the thieves with the bows and nodded. Lieber knew that meant he was going to be killed. He considered giving them his pouch but it contained to much information on his mission, his stronghold and money he needed to stay in the city long enough. He was about to try to run away when out of nowhere a women pushed Lieber out of harm’s way. She was wearing a full set of heavy armor that was cyan color and had a dragon symbol on the chest plate. She was also wearing helmet so he couldn’t see her face but at the moment he didn’t concentrate on that because he saw that she had a metal shield with the same dragon symbol and a sword. The blade was made of iron whilst the hilt was dragon shaped and made of gold. He realized after seeing the same thing over and over again that she was a Paladin. The thieves seemed to know it because the bowmen immediately shot two arrows at her. She instantly kneeled and cut right through both arrows. She quickly got up and turned around to face the thief that had stolen Lieber’s knife. He was no match for her as she used her shield to bash him which caused the man to drop both weapons. She then went behind him with her sword at his throat to protect herself from another two arrows. The thief took both of them in the chest and fell to the floor. The archers prepared more arrows but their chief, the thief with the eyepatch, ordered them to stop.
“But you’re going to get killed!” one of them answered.
“Leave!” the chief ordered angrily.
They decided not to disobey but they weren’t pleased, ultimately they ran into the forest. The Paladin ran to him but it seemed he was very agile, jumping over her and dodging every strike while trying to disarm her. His true intent was to buy enough time for the thieves that he had ordered to flee to arrive at their stronghold and warn their Master. However if he was able to kill her it would be much better. As the fighting continued, the Paladin was starting to get tired and her enemy used that to dodge one last time and finally kicking the sword out of her hand and picking it up. The move had surprised her so much that he was able to strike and remove her shield from her hand, making her lose her balance and fall down on the ground. The thief raised the sword.
“All your efforts were for nothing Paladin, soon your base will be destroyed and we--”
She had grabbed his ankle, make him fall and broke it. The thief yelled in pain while she took her sword and said:
“You make too much noise”.
She plunged it right through his heart, silencing him. She then went to see Lieber that, to her surprise, had gone to get his knife, planning to use it in case the Paladin was in danger, but she had reacted first. She walked up to him and removed her helmet, revealing her long brown hair and her strikingly beautiful blue eyes.
“You were in trouble there, those thieves would have killed you if I didn’t come.” she said.
“It seems you were in some trouble there too.”
She seemed amused.
“Well, I have to go, I need to tell the other Paladins my report, if you want to talk you can always come by to Paladin Tower”.
She turned around and started walking away when Lieber finally decided to ask what was her name. She simply answered: “You can call me Pheonix”.
And she left as quickly as she came. Lieber was still amazed by the recent events and went back towards the city.
Chapter 2: A Way To The Temple.
After a long afternoon of looking around the city and trying to find a hotel near the Paladin Tower, he arrived at moon rise to a place named Tower Hotel. It was the only Clan Stronghold to have sustained minimal damage during the war. The Paladins were known to have been elite fighters during that war and know try to get rid of the most notable enemies of the city: the Thief Guild and the Assassin Clan.
There has always been conflict between clans but they were the order of the world. There was balance. And the only clan to have been fully wiped out was the Necromancer Clan during the Coup of Y12 (12 years after the Arventus Rebellion where a new King arose and put the Religion of the Nine and the clans in place.) where the Necromancers planned to kill the King of Forg but ultimately failed because of the Paladins, that completely obliterated the Necromancer Clan after that.
Lieber looked at the hotel. It seemed to be made of stone and bricks with a small tower replica serving as a chimney. The hotel was lit up and full of activity. As he opened the door he noticed that the people still inside having drinks were mostly Guards off duty, travellers and merchants from other countries, but also regular townsfolk having fun with friends. While Guards lived in barracks inside the main fortress, other clans stayed in their strongholds no matter how damaged they were. He asked the hotel owner for a room just for the night since he wasn’t planning on staying long. Lieber never really stayed in one place, he stopped at one place to work and then left for another a few days later. These books were to be brought back to the Priest Temple of Maltot in Aeli. He entered his room, put his belongings on the table, lay down on the bed and fell asleep almost instantly.
The next day, he woke up early, eager to meet Pheonix. He took his belongings, making sure he had left nothing behind. The road to Paladin Tower wasn’t easy, he had to go down stone stairs that led to an odd looking bridge and then climbed up a ladder leading to the door of the Stronghold. The difficult path was probably the reason why the Brai soldiers weren’t able to destroy the Tower. Tired, he finally reached the front door, and knocked. Surprisingly, Pheonix was the one who opened up and smiled.
-Good morning ma’am.
-Please come in, I forgot to ask for your name yesterday.
-Have a seat Lieber”.
He looked around the room he was in. Beautiful and expensive wooden tables and chairs were around the room with the main color being blue. In the middle of the room there was a carpet with a low table and two chairs pointed in direction of a fireplace. He sat in the chair Pheonix brought him at and asked a few questions.
“This is where you work?
-Well if by work you mean killing evil doers than no, but other Paladins meet here, sometimes stay overnight and write their reports. For example, my mission yesterday was to find the new thief hideout, instead I found you about to get killed. Once that was done, I came back here to write my report and went back home.” she answered simply.
“So you had to interrupt your mission to save me?
-Well you could say that, finding thieves and either arresting them or killing them still is a part of our global mission. But enough about me, what brought you to our once beautiful city?”
Lieber told her about his travels and how his Clan gave him the mission to find ancient books in the Priest Temple.
“Lieber, I’m afraid that’s going to be difficult, the Priest Temple fell into a crevasse during an earthquake, it’s not accessible from outside.” she said, after a long silence.
“But, I have to find those books!” Lieber said, alarmed.
“Now, now, I said it wasn’t accessible from outside, but there is an access through the tunnels beneath the bridge.
-Why are there tunnels under a bridge in the first place?
-It was used to fight the Necromancers during the Coup of Y12 and the Brai invaders during the Forg-Brai War, now it might be the only way to your temple.”
Lieber got up, took his bag and thanked her. As he was headed out of the Tower, Pheonix said:
“Lieber, if you need anything you are welcome here.
-Thank you Pheonix. I will come back at least to give you the report of my mission.
-And may the Nine be with you, going underground isn’t pleasant.”
Chapter 3: In The Ruins.
Lieber got back down the ladder and arrived back at the bridge. That’s where he noticed another Priest waiting and looking at the Tower, then back down at the bridge.
“Can I help you, dear Priest?” said Lieber, happy to see another person from his clan.
The man seemed distracted but finally answered that he was looking for help to find the Priest Temple.
“I’m going there right now, however we need to go underground to find it’s ruins. What are you going there for?” Lieber asked suspiciously.
“I was ordered to update our maps with the findings of the temple by Master Len, Priest Temple of Farlath in Brai.” The man answered.
“You know not everyone from Brai is welcome here, there are still bad tensions between the two countries” said Lieber.
“A mission is a mission, I do not get into too much trouble. It’s for the good of the Priest Order.
-Then come with me I must find ancient books, we just need to find an access point to underground tunnels from here.” Lieber finally answered, pleased.
And so they they tried to find a way into the tunnels together. The bridge was too high for them to jump down and the stone walls were sturdy. It took some time before Lieber’s companion, named Eagle, found a small crack in the wall next to the ladder and when he put his finger in, the wall revealed to be the entrance.
“Lieber, I found the entrance” he said while going in.
Lieber went through the entrance and found Eagle just lighting up his lantern.
A yellow flame lit the way ahead, a dark tunnel with the scent of mossy stone and the noise of water. They were probably in the old sewer Lieber thought. They walked for a long time, and they were starting to get cold. They had to stop and sit down trying to warm up a few times which made their journey longer. But when Eagle was about to tell Lieber they should probably head back, they arrived at the end of the tunnel and in front of a damaged wooden door. Lieber inspected it, taking the dust off a golden plaque that had something written on it.
“The Priest Temple…” he murmured.
A spark of joy and delight filled Eagle’s tired eyes and looked at Lieber. Together, they pushed the door open and went inside the ruins of the Temple. They looked around them, amazed. Like Pheonix said, the Temple did fall into a crevasse, but some of the furniture was still intact. Broken white columns of marble greeted them to the reunion chamber, where Master Priests discussed important matters with other priests, or amongst themselves. The desk in the middle of the chamber was very large and flipped over to it’s side with it’s contents destroyed. The seats, or what remained of them, for the other priests formed a half-circle in front of the desk, which reminded Lieber of the Colosseum of the Highlands, the only area on the continent where Kings and diplomats of the three countries talked about new laws to set in the three countries. It is also there that the Forg-Brai War was declared and ended. Eagle interrupted Lieber in his daydreaming, telling him that they should find what they were looking for. He agreed, and they went up a spiralling staircase, some steps missing, some loose, to find the Temple’s Library. Arriving at the top, a vision of horror was upon Lieber and Eagle. Skeletons, starting to be covered in web, were lying on the Library floor. Bookshelves laid broken, with their books starting to decompose or ripped in pieces all on the floor. Only a few books were salvageable, and those were the ones Lieber took and put in his bag. “The Truth of Jial”; “Ten Years of Forg Findings” - he gave that one to Eagle since it was the thing he was searching for, “Origins of an Empire” - this one Lieber kept for personal read intrigued by the title. He went through a couple of other books until he considered that they had enough of them. On the way back to the staircase, Eagle tripped on a loose tile. Lieber turned around and looked at it. They lifted the tile and put it aside to find one last book, with no title and a hard cover. Inside, they found only symbols and words from an old language that intrigued them even more. Lots of the pages were missing and some of them had the ink worn out, which made them deduce that it was an old book. Lieber took it and put it in his bag with the others.
“What do you think it is?” Eagle asked.
“I don’t know, we would have to be in a well lighted place to decipher all of those symbols. We should head back to Paladin Tower, we can inspect it more closely there.” Lieber answered.
They went back down the staircase, out of the Temple and back in the tunnels. Lieber would have to write a letter back to his temple in Aeli that nothing else was salvageable here. They walked for a long time, again, while discussing what they had found. They weren’t cold, they weren’t tired. The thrill of having completed their mission gave them the heat and strength needed to head back out.
Chapter 4: Deciphering the Enigma.