I could feel a warm, welcoming presence and hear faint, soothing pops and crackles. I suspected both came from the same pleasing source: a lit fireplace. My speculation was confirmed when I noticed the gentle flickering of flames through my eyelids. Upon opening my eyes, I was expecting to be back in front of my fireplace, before all of the strange happenings had occurred and that everything was just a dream. To my surprise, the fireplace was most certainly not mine. After a quick glance around, I would have assumed the entire residence was not mine, but unfortunately, I found nothing but a thick black fog surrounding what seemed to be a lounge or a study.
The ‘setting’ seemed very basic and austere, with no defining limitations, due to the lack of a solid ceiling or walls. I could only identify what was illuminated by the hearth: a desk, a small coffee table, the couch that I was rested upon, a large red armchair and the wooden flooring, covered by an ornate rug. The desk was cluttered with papers, old unkempt books, a burned out candle, and a large orange crystal, presumably a knowledge crystal of sorts, being held up by a dazzling silver stand. Adorning the elegant hand-carved coffee table was a selection of ancient tomes of magic and sorcery from all over the spiral, including Krokotopia and Avalon. These tomes must be worth a fortune, yet are simply strewn about, rather than being locked away in an enchanted display case, where they will be protected from thieves.
Above the fireplace hung a few paintings of worlds I had never seen or imagined before. Though all were fascinating, one in particular caught my eye, for it was the centerpiece of the set and had the most exquisite frame of all. The painting depicted a world among the clouds, supported by magic, which was produced from four towers surrounding the city. Upon further study, the relatively birds-eye-view perspective caused the painting to appear almost as some sort of map. Markings were drawn on the painting, noting locations of particular importance with stars or X’s.
“What is this place?” I thought to myself. “Where is this place? Am I dead? Did I die from the fall? Where is Lamont? Why is th-” The questions I had been asking myself were abruptly interrupted by a deep, gravelly voice.
The man spoke up, “Ah, you’re finally here, young wizard. I have been expecting you for quite some time…”
“What? Who are you? What is this place?” I responded eagerly.
“My name is Signius Ulterior, but most know me as The Chronicler of the Spiral. This ‘place’ is my tower, hidden to those who may seek to defile it.”
“Why am I here? How did I get here?” I further questioned.
“You are not physically here, my lad, but you are in a state of mental connection, allowing me to communicate with, and guide you.”
“Wait a minute, you mean I’m having a vision right now? No way, that’s preposterous. I must be dead or something,” I quickly responded.
Signius assured me that it was a true vision, “Because of your strong mental strength you are able to see rather than just hear. It’s a great talent, you should be very proud. Anyhow, I have brought you here, because my homeland, Caelum, is in terrible danger.”
Caelum. If I remember correctly from my studies, I believe that is Latin for Sky. Could it possibly be?
“A great evil is threatening to steal and harness the power of the Galvanic Towers. They provide enough magic to keep Caelum afloat, and allow the inhabitants to continue their work.”
I point toward the painting that I inspected earlier, “Is that Caelum?”
“Indeed it is, Austin. It was a gift from a friend. He told me it would come in handy someday, though I still do not understand why he marked the places he did. That is one of the few things I may never know.”
“How do you know my name?!” I questioned impatiently.
“I am the Chronicler, lad. I can see much about the spiral, its past and even its future. Next to that, knowing names seems like merely child’s play. Allow me to tell you more about Caelum’s history so that you may develop a deeper understanding of its presence in the spiral. You know the story of the Legendary War, yes?”
“Of course,” I responded quickly “Bartleby’s children, the Dragons, the Giants, and the Tritons all began to fight for power. The Dragons ruled the lands, the Giants ruled the skies, and the Tritons ruled the seas. Each called upon elemental powers in an attempt to defeat their brothers. The Giants summoned up enough Ice magic to create grand fortresses among the clouds, but the Dragons retaliated with their power of fire to melt down the barricades. In the meantime, the Tritons called upon the winds and seas to bash the Dragons on land. The fighting between such powerful creatures was enough to split the world apart into fragments. Each of these fragments became inhabited by a different species, yet were all still linked together by Bartleby and Grandmother Raven, forming what is known as the spiral. Though there is no true record or evidence of who won the Legendary War, it is highly believed that the Giants of the Sky were the superior race.”
“Very good, Mr. Swifthorn! Your knowledge is quite astounding and extensive. You must have a very wise professor to have collected so much of the Spiral’s rich history. Those who believe that the Giants of the Sky were the champions of the Legendary War are partially correct. Though the Giants did not physically defeat their brothers, they were able to acquire enough leverage to convince their brothers to accept an agreement on their terms. This deal stated that the Ice Giants would spare their brethren, as long as they were given partial power of both fire and storm, so that they may rule the spiral, bending it to please their wishes. After full power had been achieved by the giants, the Ice Titan, Ymir, ordered a grand palace be built in the skies, so that he may look down upon his brothers. Ymir created a race of Imps to inhabit his kingdom and do his biddings. It was not until Ymir was sent into a state of eternal slumber, and stowed away in Wintertusk in hopes of never being found, that the grand sky kingdom had been liberated, and the Imps were free to pursue their own lives. From their creator’s elemental nature, these creatures eventually evolved into Weather Imps, known as the Kaviin, and now control the precipitation and main winds throughout the spiral.”
“Honestly, I still don’t see what any of this has to do with me. Sure I may be able to have some vision or something, but that doesn’t constitute the ability to save Caelum, does it?”
“I have selected you for this journey, because you subconsciously reached out to help, to save a land lost to the blinding corruption of power-starved rulers, who believe they are destined to rule the spiral. You chose to hear the cries and pleas that will be made, if not for your aid.”
That moaning sound I heard in the Wizard City Commons…That was the crying of innocent lives caught on a path headed for destruction?
Signius Ulterior continued, “Caelum had become a peaceful land after the fall of Ymir and the rise of the Council. The Council was able to show the great clouded citadel of Caelum a new way to live, without fear, and without pain. For this, the inhabitants rejoiced and vowed to change the perception of Caelum, and rid it of all bad associations.”
“By Council, do you mean the Council of Light?”
“Of course! The Council of Light consisted of Merle Ambrose, Lydia Greyrose, Emperor Yoshihito of Mooshu, King Artorius of Avalon, Diego Santiago Quariquez Ramirez III, Alhazred the Wise, Chancellor Kegrus of Celestia, King Valgard Goldenblade of Grizzleheim, and Lady Nalia Sandbloom of Mirage. They had formed in response to Ymir’s rising, once they had heard of his plans to seize power of the spiral. Seeing no other option for the safety of the spiral, the Council united their magic to force the Ice Titan into a state known as the Eternal Night. The Council watched over Ymir for a few more years to be certain that the spell cast upon him could never be broken. Seven years after Ymir’s Eternal Night began, the Council ruled that the Ice Titan was no longer a threat, and they began to focus on new dangers that may threaten the spiral. The council slowly began to fall apart, until only Merle Ambrose, Lydia Greyrose, Diego Santiago Quariquez Ramirez III, Emperor Yoshihito and Alhazred remained. Without the full power of the Council, it was found unfit for protecting the spiral and chose to disband, seeing as they had accomplished the only true purposed of their creation. Merle Ambrose returned to Wizard City to resume as headmaster and offered a professorship to Lydia Greyrose in the art of Ice Magic. Ambrose also asked Diego if he would be interested in teaching dueling at Ravenwood, and thus, he became known as Diego the Duelmaster. Emperor Yoshihito left for Mooshu and reclaimed the throne from his trusted friend, Noboru Akitame. As for Alhazred, he ventured back to his homeland of Krokotopia to continue his study of the spiral and its flow of magic.
If you are to begin your journey, young wizard,” the Chronicler grabbed a sealed envelope from his desk and handed it to me, “you will need to talk with me in person first. This letter should help clarify the current situation.”
“Who----it----” My voice seemed to be fading. “Who is----” I glanced at Signius in confusion.
“The vision-----failing-----Once you-------need to-------Hurry, you-------luck.”The room was being quickly swallowed by a thick dark mist, only that which was within a few feet was still visible, but greatly obscured. Glancing at the envelope, I realized that I must have opened it subconsciously while the Chronicler tried to explain my next move. I turned my attention to where he had been standing, but Signius was already gone, consumed by the approaching fog. Upon seeing that it would be impossible to further communicate with him, I skimmed the document in which one line caught my eye; the valediction read: “Sincerely, your friend, Merle.”
* * *
So I've had this for awhile now and figured I should go ahead and post it since I plan on continuing my story. This way all of the chapters can stay together. The actual blogging and updating portion is still on hiatus/headed for cancellation. But hey, this is the 100th post for The Singed Cover! *Hooray!*