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Authors: Tim Mathias

What Was Forgotten

BOOK: What Was Forgotten
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Contents

Copyright

Dedication

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Thank You

About the Author

(c) 2016 Tim Mathias. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Dedicated to anyone who reads this for giving me the most precious of things: time.

 

WHAT WAS FORGOTTEN

 

 

A Story By Tim Mathias

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

He was unaccustomed to the quiet. For months there had always been a familiar din, the work of engineers and smiths. The noises of the besiegers and the besieged echoed through and across the stony hillsides, carried off by the wind. The clamour of their great struggles would be remembered by the land; the earth that had drank its fill of the blood of both sides, and the hills that sat, observant and impartial. They would remember long after the ink of the historians turned to dust. More to be taken by the wind.

Now that the last battle of the siege was over, Zayd Cothar felt the stillness hanging over the army. The soldiers together were like the great lion: they had finally caught the soft neck of their prey and were hesitant to do anything except to wait until they were sure it was dead. Every barred door in the great foreign city of Yasri had been broken down. Every gate torn open. Every enemy cut down. It had been the last stronghold of the Dramandi, the last of their lights to be extinguished.

Zayd stood patiently in the General’s command tent listening to the silence, thinking on how odd it was, what a relief it was that they had finally won. It would only be a matter of months before his term of duty was at an end, and then he would be released.

Free to return home.

He paced, not out of nervousness but rather anticipation. As one of the few who spoke the Dramandi tongue, he knew why the general had summoned him: it was an honour to be given the responsibility to negotiate the final surrender of the Dramandi, but it was equally daunting. His failure could mean prolonging of the war which the Ryferian Empire had all but already won. Yasri was the last of the enemy’s organized resistance. There was an army that had quit the field and vanished into the wilds of the land, but surely even they would soon meet an end…

Zayd turned at the rustle of the tent flaps. General Vaetus walked in alone and quickly dismissed Zayd’s salute. “Good, you’re here. It’s Cothar, yes? Zayd?” Vaetus wasted no time in pouring himself a small cup of wine and downed it in one gulp. “Damn, I’ve been looking forward to that.” He motioned to the small wine cask on his table. “Would you care for any, Captain?”

Zayd shook his head and clasped his hands behind his back. “No, sir. It’s best if I don’t.”

“I think you’ve earned it. I know how hard you and the other Tauthri have fought. How you brought down that gatehouse. Brilliant, if you ask me. And you lost a few on that night, didn’t you?”

“Yes, sir. We lost two that night.”

“Just two? Incredible. It would have taken thirty Trueborn to do that, and half of them would have died. That’s why most of them hate your kind, you see. They’re frightened of you. Envious, even. Some of them maybe even fought against you during the conquest, and now, here you are fighting alongside them. Are you sure you won’t have some wine? I know the law about enlisted Tauthri, but it’s just you and I here, and by the Beacon you deserve a damned drink.”

“Thank you, General,” Zayd said, “but it’s been years since I’ve had any. Best if I just leave it alone.”

Vaetus paused. “Would it make the dreams stop?”

“I’d need to have more than a cup,” Zayd said.

“I don’t envy you for that… to dream of your homeland every night. Do you get used to it? Does the longing subside?”

“It takes a long time,” Zayd said. It was a lie; the longing never subsided. The wound was reopened every morning when the dreams dissipated. There were days when all he wanted was to drink himself into oblivion to deafen the yearning. Tauthri in the Ryferian army used to succumb to it all the time, but those were the months just following the defeat of Tauth and their integration into the Empire. Now, Tauthri serving in the Ryferian army were not allowed a drop.

“Very well,” Vaetus said. “To the task at hand.” The General leaned against a large table that was covered in different maps of the regions of Dramand and ran a hand over his shorn blond hair. Most men his age were greying, but the General still looked capable enough to fight amongst the rank and file.

Zayd, like most Tauthri was a head shorter than their Ryferian counterparts. He wore his dark brown hair as his father had: the sides and back of his head were shaved, and remaining hair was tied back into a tail that reached the top of his shoulders. Aside from height, the two peoples were largely similar, save for the Tauthris’ black, featureless eyes.

“You’ve likely guessed at why I summoned you,” Vaetus said. “The Dramandi have offered up someone willing to talk. Or willing to listen, at least. He’s one of the Revered, so I’m told. A seer of importance.”

“No one else has offered to speak for them?”

“Not a single soul. I’ve never seen such hate. I saw the assembled captives. I don’t know yet how many, but every single one of them looks like they would rather die than spend a day under our rule.”

“The seer, is he young or old?”

“He looks older than the damned city itself.”

Zayd shook his head. “We need to find someone younger, and not anyone from their faith. Someone from the army.”

“Everyone in the army is dead or has fled, so far as we can tell. Everyone of position, at least.”

“We’re at a disadvantage, General. The old ones can stick to their ideals since they have less to lose. We need someone who has much to lose.”

“I cannot choose who it is that these people admire, who they follow. If they won’t yield, then they won’t yield, but by the Beacon we will give them the chance. The fault is not yours or mine if they do not recognize what we are offering.”

“Yes, sir, but… it isn’t that easy when I’m the one to talk to them.”

Vaetus nodded and looked at his feet. “I know, I know. It isn’t easy. But it’s your duty, and you’ve always done it. I trust that you’ll carry it out again.”

Zayd nodded. “Yes, sir.”

“Good. They’re ready for you in the temple.”

Zayd saluted, but Vaetus waved it off. “One more thing, Captain: I’m sending two Regiments back to the capital. Eighth and Ninth, led by Field Commander Areagus. I want you to arrange a detail of sentries to accompany it to Fort Vigil on the coast.”

“How many?”

“Ten, maybe. No more than fifteen. You’ll be taking the relic back to Lycernum.”

“The…the
relic
, sir?”

“Yes, yes, the relic. Have you seen the damned thing? I’ve never seen such a thing in all my life and I doubt very much that anyone else has either. That thing alone I’d bet is a year’s pay for every single soldier in the entire Empire. Not that we’ll see it distributed like that, sorry to say. If I had my way, though, I’d break that massive sheet of gold into pieces, one piece for every man that has fought in this war. But… it’s not to be. They are expecting it in Lycernum. Emperor Madriceth is wise, I’m sure he’ll find a proper use for it.”

“I had heard of something buried beneath the temple.”

Vaetus nodded. “It looks as though it’s been buried there for centuries. Beyond words, really. Why anyone would bury it is a mystery to me. Take a look when you finish with their priest.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. Now I’ve got to find Areagus to see if he’s found any better maps of this phantom-cursed land. The ones we’ve managed to salvage are nearly impossible to read.”

 

 

 

Zayd walked through the bent and broken remains of an immense iron portcullis. It was the largest, most well-crafted defense that many in the army had ever seen. Zayd afforded a passing thought of admiration for the skill that was evident in its creation, though in the end, the iron could not stop the unstoppable. All things yielded. It was only whether they yielded in time.

Beyond the mangled portcullis was the great Moon Temple of Aulvennic, the most sacred place for the Dramandi. The heart of their faith. He again had thoughts of admiration as he looked upon the intricate carvings on the four towers which flanked the temple’s entrance. Over the doors was an archway into which the faces of their icons had been rendered centuries ago with adulation.

For months during the siege, they had listened as the Dramandi sang devotionals here in front of the temple to their idols at sunset and sunrise, honouring the arrival and departure of the moon. It had been this place they had defended most fervently to the last. There would be no more singing, and history was already forgetting the sounds of their songs.

Zayd made his way to the temple, pausing before the archway to praise the Beacon, lest he profane himself once he stepped foot on unholy ground. “Our light, the dispeller of darkness, enemy of the shadows, keep me in your sight.”

The hall into the temple was narrow and the floor was cluttered with debris. The Dramandi priests had hastened to hide their treasure and relics, but once the last of their soldiers had surrendered, the Ryferian troops had ransacked the temple, as was their right. There were groups of soldiers there still, breaking through walls, digging up loose parts of the floor, hoping to claim some bit of plunder for their very own.

The hall opened into a round room, a sanctuary with a circular opening in the centre of the ceiling through which Zayd imagined he could see the moon at night. Dozens of books had been piled in the centre of the room. Two historians were going through them, page by page, gradually coming to a greater understanding of the blasphemous nature of their foe. Every last tome would be destroyed once the historians had taken finished their work. Only what they recorded would survive, and so history would forever remember the Dramandi exactly as the Ryferians deemed fitting.

The seer was seated on a stack of books, hunched over and diminutive. Two Ryferian soldiers stood on either side of him, swords drawn, keeping him from escaping, though it was clear just by looking at the frail old man that he could not possibly possess the fortitude, vigor, or even the willpower to flee. Quite the opposite; his hands held tightly to the books on which he sat, possibly to keep himself balanced, though Zayd thought he looked like a hen protecting eggs from a fox.

There was no place for Zayd to sit, so he sat on the floor and looked up at the Dramandi seer. If the old man noticed Zayd’s arrival, he did not show it. He simply stared down at his feet while nodding his head and moving his lips slightly, mouthing a hymn or a prayer.

“May I know your name?” Zayd asked. He had started with this question once before, and it was a good start to the conversation, though the ending was as he had feared. The seer did not respond. “Do you know why you’ve been brought here? We want to discuss an end to the war.”

Still the seer said nothing, but Zayd noticed his grip tighten on the book he was sitting on. Zayd stood and pushed the seer off the books. The stack teetered and fell, and Zayd picked up the book that was on the top. He opened it while looking at the seer and slowly tore out a page. The old man tried to scramble to his feet, but the closest soldier put a heavy hand on his shoulder and kept him in place. “Is this what you really want?” Zayd asked. “Do you want your existence in this world to vanish completely?”

“Stop!” the seer cried. “Stop it,
please
!” Another page fell to the floor.

Zayd stopped. “Are you willing to talk?”

“Please, just…” the seer trailed off as he began to weep. Zayd knelt in front of him and handed him the book.

BOOK: What Was Forgotten
3.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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