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Mystic Council

Stories told by the Scribes of the Mystic Council

Kuado’s Quest

 

 Princess Sabrina

 

 

Chapter 1:

 

Written not Read

 

           

            There was a boy, a young man of desert elf heritage, who was a bit troublesome. He didn’t seem to want to obey the orders of the elders, despite their great talents and wisdom. However, the boy was also a great talent himself—which greatly displeased the elders.

          The council had been looking for a pupil to train. They sought Kuado; however, Kuado lacked the discipline. “A grape too sweet,” many elders would call him. One of the elders, however, did not give up on Kuado. Tenmar was younger than the rest of the elders, younger than the next youngest by over a hundred years. Perhaps it was his inexperience, perhaps it was his boldness, but Tenmar confronted Kuado.

          “Boy, you must listen to your elders—they know what’s best for you.” Tenmar started.

          “But, I do not seek to become a mystic.” Kuado replied, “It is not a wish of mine.”

          “But, boy, this is clearly your destiny.” Tenmar said, astonished.

          Kuado turned, however, and walked away. “My destiny may have already been written, but not by you. I shall find fate when I meet it in the eye.”

          Tenmar was dumbstruck. They boy was not only powerful, but wise. What prevented him from grasping what clearly was his to own? Tenmar decided to go to the council, and seek their advice. When Tenmar went inside the desert’s palace walls—and into the chambers of the council—the other elders were not pleased.

          “You did not ask permission to speak with the boy!” the eldest elf said. 

          “Now he’ll never side with us, you scared him away!” the eldest elf’s son said, second oldest on the council.

          “There’s nothing we can do, there is no reason to worry. History has already been written, we just don’t know what will come with its pages.” Tenmar’s brother, and greatest friend, replied.

          “Thank you for your words of wisdom, brother. I apologize to those on the council I may have offended, but if Kuado is to become a mystic, he must become one now. If he waits much longer, he no longer will be of age to learn.” Tenmar explained.

          “We all know this.” The eldest elf replied again.

          “And now we’ll never get his help!” followed the son.

          “No, you do not know this. He may yet decide to be trained.” Tenmar’s brother began, “And I believe he will be.”

          “Wisdom, you portray, Elemnar. Seek to it that you will instruct him, if I may suggest, and if Kuado is to change his mind.” Tenmar proclaimed.

          The rest of the council did not disagree, for Elemnar was the greatest of them all. However, only did they stop their tongues from protest because the King was in their presence. Jealous plotting would be reason enough for the King to retract his promise in giving executive powers to a Council of Eldars instead of himself.

          So it was that Elemnar decided to seek out his pupil, and try to put reason in his mind. Elemnar was not like his brother, however, and knew that directness would instantly cause Kuado’s disdain of himself. Elemnar sought to find commonalities between mysticism and Kuado, to create a desire to learn the art in Kuado.

          “Kuado, please come out.” Elemnar said to the window of Kuado’s desert home.

          “Who is it?” Kuado began.

          “It is Elemnar, greatest Mystic of all the desert elves. But I am only a humble servant to you.” Elemnar greeted Kuado with a smile as Kuado came outside. “It is hot out here. Let us go elsewhere.”

          “Where would we go that isn’t hot?” Kuado asked.

          “Hold my hand and close your eyes.” Elemnar said.

          Kuado did what Elemnar said. He felt bubbles begin to compress the entirety of his body, then a feeling of weightlessness. Suddenly, the bubbles began to pop around his body, creating an odd sensation Kuado had never felt before. It was as if cold bursts of wind began and ended inches apart, colliding into his body. He could hear nothing, until he could hear the water.

          “Where are we?” Kuado asked.

          “Open your eyes and see,” Elemnar said, “I have brought you to the home of the elves of the sea.”

          Kuado was at the top of a cliff, looking on the ocean. A seagull came into view, swooping across the ocean’s beautiful blue body in the distance. “I have never seen the ocean.”

          “I know,” Elemnar said, “I have come here to see if you’ll let me teach you how to bring yourself here.”

          “Ah, so you have come to trick me?” Kuado said, suddenly angry—forgetting completely about the ocean.

          “Yes, in part. I admit it. But, not really to trick you, as you would say it, but to tempt you.” Elemnar said.

          “Well, you have failed. I will not succumb to you for promises of the arcane or of any kind.”

          “I do not want an answer from you today. Spend the day at the beach, while I rest. It makes me wary to travel so far. To the north you’ll find the great city of Orca. I think I should be able to find you there later.”

          Kuado began his stretch north, leaving the cliff to the beach’s sandy coastline. He moved as fast as he could, anticipating the breathtaking city of Orca he had heard so much about. Nearly all of Elf-kind lived within the city’s walls, he learned as a schoolboy. They worked as merchants and traders, as craftsman and artisans. The greatest library and universities existed in the confines of the uncountable palaces inside. The majority of royal and noble bloodlines of the elves lived in the city, which had not one king—but six and eight queens.

          However excited he was to see the city, he stopped to pick up the strange rocks and ocean debris he had never come across in the desert. The creatures were even more compelling than the debris; he saw what seemingly was a rock with six rocklike-thin legs—tinted red like his sun, which looked so different than the golden one he now saw in the sky.

          Kuado kept walking and making discoveries till the golden sun turned pink. It was then when he saw the emerald city of Orca, named after the giant breathing fish in the sea the city so loved—as was taught in his school. It seemed so different than his city, which was more or less a square set of walls in the desert. In contrast to the desert city, which was so bland to Kuado it blended in with the desert to the untrained eye, this city was a marvel—a jewel given to the ocean as a gift.

          He came to the gates of the city. The two guards stationed at the front welcomed him in, as if he actually lived in the city, though his skin was pink from the desert and theirs only tanned brown. They smiled at Kuado, probably wondering why Kuado was dressed so strangely or what his business was in their home. The cloth wrapped around Kuado’s head was not enough to hide his Elven features, Kuado’s face perhaps being more Elvan than any other he had ever seen, but they definitely didn’t fit in this city. The guards wore leather protection with a silk garment wrapped around there bodies at their shoulders and a hooded cape over that strange garment. One guard had what must have been a sword tucked away at his waist; the other was equipped with a bow and arrows. The walls had many guards on top, the two on bottom just there to great potential guests that walked inside.

          The city was as emerald as the walls that surrounded it. The elves in the city were all just as beautiful as the next, Kuado was stunned. All the women wore sleek dresses that covered their feet, designs of flowers and sea shells sown into them. The men wore deep colored flowing silk robes. There were also some people of other origin Kuado had never seen in his desert outpost. Most of them were short and slender, wearing similar clothes. They seemed to not be strangers to this city, though some other people there seemed to be guests just like him. Scattered about, he saw some people that dressed more like he, but none wore his head-wrap. Kuado wondered if they were the pilgrims from his city that traveled here by foot just four years ago.

          He began to notice that in one particular area of the city he came across these particular elves were more numerous, perhaps being one of every two people he walked by instead of every hundred by the city gates. He walked through a gate within the city with the title “Scarlet Quarter,” in gold letters. These elves must have been his kind, but there skin was tanned like all those who lived here instead of Kuado’s reddish coloring. They dressed mostly like him though, choosing not to wear the silk most men here were accustomed to, and the women dressed like the men just like they did at his home.

          There was a girl about his age who he had particular interest in. He had great wonder as to her identity. Kuado walked to her and they met. Her name was Ealdidar, of the House of Marr. Kuado was astonished to see that one of the noblest families in his city would have lost one of theirs to the pilgrims. He was further astonished that she would have gone, losing her title in any other quarter of the district but the Scarlet—and her title only being but a name here, not of bond like his city. However, he wondered why he was so astonished. He would have left as well, if it suited him. He somehow didn’t feel at home in this city.

          But, Ealdidar did belong in Kuado’s home and so he found love. They walked the city, strolling in the market, but this did not suit him, even though there were so many things there Kuado had never seen. They left to the beaches and harbor within the city, watching the innumerous ships and crafts filled with merchants and their prizes from afar that would soon be filling the market. Kuado and Ealdidar sat on one of the piers, resting their feet in the cool waters of the salty ocean. The sky was now dark, only lit by the moon and the many candles emitting light from the city and its wharf district. Kuado talked of his home, and she of hers, finding many similarities. Ealdidar knew Kuado’s line well, though Ealdidar’s was more prominent. Kuado’s line was strong, though, and filled with many persons of their own will—something rare in the desert city.

          “I would have thought more of your family would have come on the heritage. Only but two of your line did come, lowest among any of the lesser houses of nobility.” Ealdidar spoke.

          “Yes, they were cousins I know little of. They did not live at our home. Father could not understand the reason they left.” Kuado said.

          “It pained us to leave, but we had to.” Ealdidar said.

          “Did you want to?” Kuado asked.

          “I do not know. Not really, I love and miss the desert, but I was called here.”

          “It was destiny.” Kuado whispered to himself, so Ealdidar could not hear him.

          Ealdidar brought Kuado back to the Scarlet district. Ealdidar had a meeting to attend; though Ealdidar insisted Kuado not bore himself with trivial news, he came to watch anyway. The meeting room was large and circular, with many pillows on the floor surrounding a large oriental carpet with twelve dressed pillows in the center.  Nine others beside Ealdidar were sitting there, with one pillow empty. Many people began to gather from the entrance Kuado had come through. The room was seemingly filled to capacity by the Scarlet Pilgrims, except for that one missing from the council.

          Kuado was astonished when he saw Elemnar enter behind a tapestry in the back. Elemnar took the last spot on the council, and began to speak.

          “My comrades of the Scarlet Pilgrims, it has been too long since I have last been here,” Elemnar announced, “But the council has been under steady guidance by those all here present and by all of you. We have yet to worry for the fate of elvenkind. Sitting in your presence is Kuado, the greatest of us all. That is why I have been gone since the beginning.”

          Ealdidar began to speak, “He has come and let us all be thankful.”

          Kuado did not remember anything else that happened on that day. He remembered waking back up in his desert city, in his bed. He remembered being as hot as he had ever been, not feeling the chill of the ocean breeze in the middle of the warming season. But he also remembered holding Ealdidar’s hand on the pier, talking of their lineage. And he remembered Elemnar, giving him his choice at the beginning of the day—then acting as if it was made up on day’s end. He got out of his bed, put his clothes on and decided to just ponder.      

          After midday, he left his room and went to his father.

          “Father, what is the city of the Sea-Elves like?”

          “Have you not learned of it in school?” His father replied.

          “Indeed. I have father, but with sight comes many subtleties.”

          “Wise words son. But, it was not a dream you had last night. Elemnar is waiting for your answer.”

          Kuado was taken aback. “What should I do, father?”

          “Since when do you listen to your disobedient father, my disobedient son?”

          “Since they nearly called me a messiah at a council meeting in the Scarlet Quarter!”

          “You know I never believed in their ideas, Kuado. But, you must do whatever you are compelled to do.”  His father walked out of the room, without saying another word.  

          His father, knowing it wasn’t a dream, did wonder if it was a vision, a vision imbedded in reality.

          Kuado left his home, again walking towards the gates of city—which now seemed golden to his eyes, and not so bland. He walked to the palace, then inside the palace. The guards didn’t stop him, like they normally would have; he must have had permission to be inside there.  

          Kuado saw Elemnar, and Tenmar, walking inside a chamber. Kuado followed. Once he was inside, Tenmar looked ecstatic. Elemnar seemed quite pleased. The council looked less pleased, but no less glad to see him there. Kuado went to one of the empty seats at the table in the lackluster chamber. All of the elders took their places as well. The King himself, to Kuado’s great surprise, took his chair that overlooked the chamber.

          The eldest elder began to speak, “Boy, you have finally come—and none to soon. Your training will begin immediately.”

          The son spoke, “What a great day it is for this city!”

          “Have you made a decision?” Elemnar asked.

          “Yes.” Kuado replied.

          “Well, what is it?” Asked the King himself, stunning the council as the King has never spoken during a meeting before.

          “I am no Messiah for the Scarlet Pilgrims, and do not wish to learn the arcane ways of our Mystics.”

          Tenmar’s despair made him age a hundred years on the spot, as a tear trickled down his eye. No desert elf had cried in a over a thousand years, a trait that was thought to be phased out in the land that lacked water.

          “The Scarlet Pilgrims?” The eldest spoke in surprise.

          “Who would have you involved with those folk?”

          “Elemnar, of course.” Kuado said.

          “Is this true?” Asked the King.

          “It is true. I am leader to the Scarlet Pilgrims, I come from the Royal House of Marr, rightful leader to our conquered people!”

          “How dare you!” The King began, “guards, seize him!”

          “Kuado, how could you have done this?” Tenmar cried, “How could you tempt fate?”

          “Tenmar! He’s done nothing of the sort! Fate has been decided, and I have seen some ink. Otherwise, this city would not know of Kuado!”

          Guards came into the chamber, numbering in the dozens. Elemnar and Tenmar looked each other in the eyes.

          “Brother, you have not betrayed the King. Stay here and on the Council. Our outpost needs you.”

          “I shall protect the golden city. Brother, leave or I will kill you, traitor to the throne!”

          Elemnar vanished in the same way Kuado had departed with him earlier. The King was furious, as well as the whole council. Tenmar settled down and sat at once on his seat again. The entire council proceeded.

          “Now, what is to be done?” the King said.

          “Majesty, do not worry. No need to interfere, we have things under control.” said the son.

          “I question your definition of control, but proceed—cautiously.” The King ordered.

          Kuado was taken into custody. Tenmar, though embarrassed, vowed to never leave the council—and that he had done nothing wrong. “The boy is this city’s tool, not my brothers. My loyalty lies with my city, my people.”       

          The eldest said there was nothing he could do to eliminate Tenmar’s seat, seeing as Tenmar was officially in the Noble House of Marr, the noblest of them all. Though, the Council did officially renounce Tenmar in the most official way they could—removing Venerable from Tenmar’s title of the Venerable Heir of the Duke of Marr. Elemnar was forever banished from the Golden City, which made Tenmar the official Duke of Marr. However, this did not anger Tenmar in the slightest—for he knew deep within his mind that he was the Heir to the Royal House of Marr, his brother the true King.

          Kuado, seeing the guards surround him, demanded to be let free. Kuado’s father wrote an official letter of protest. Many in the city, who pitied the Pilgrims, rallied in the streets for Kuado’s release. It was these dissenters who were to come into play in the release of Kuado. A secret organization formed comprised of Kuado’s House, dissenters and Scarlet Pilgrims who had not yet left the Golden Outpost—who desired to free Kuado. Kuado became a legend within the city, and changed its course, over the five years he was imprisoned within the palace’s walls. The King took the Council, killing many of the Elders. There was war.

          The eldest elder, and his son, loyal to the King—were to tutor Kuado in the ways of Mysticism. Kuado did not respond. Many harmful magics were used to harm Kuado. Kuado was also undernourished, and lacked pure water. Herbs of compliance were added to all of Kuado’s diet, yet he did not give in. He persevered.

          After two years, Kuado gave no examples of magic to the King or the remnants of the Council. Open warfare had ended, as Kuado hadn’t heard any battles near the city in quite some time. He was eating his daily meal of bread, water and a sip of milk in his dungeon cell when the eldest came in. “You have shown no magic. You have given not one iota of interest. We feed, clothe and bathe you—and you show no consideration. We could have killed you for defying the King, yet he gave you no chance. The priests say you are too old to learn now, that the window of opportunity has passed. I shall never see you again, but that’s okay. You won’t see anyone again.”      

          The eldest closed the door to the prison cell, pressing the lever which closed Kuado’s only glimpse of light, which came from a narrow gated opening nearly a hundred feet up in his cell. It was in this way and condition Kuado lived in for the following three years. The door was opened once a day—or, a perceived day as Kuado had no concept of time anymore—to feed him. The dim light blinded Kuado each and everyday—so he indeed did not see or hear one person in the three years since the eldest visited him for the last time. He had completely forgotten every face he had ever seen—he remembered not his mother’s or father’s, not Elemnar’s or Tenmar’s. He couldn’t even remember the eldest’s face, or his son’s. Kuado just had one memory of a person he could ever think of, which was one of the few things Kuado ever thought of that alleviated some of his despair—and it is that of Ealdidar’s voice. He could remember that, if even if was only a few short phrases. Kuado, however, lived in depression and despair. The only reason he was alive was for lack of twine or blade. Kuado had taken to not eating, but each time he did that, it only led to consequential beatings.

          One day, the door opened to feed him, however—and awoke Kuado from dreaming of the Seagull swooping over the ocean at Orca. It was Tenmar, looking more aged than ever.

          “I indeed am a traitor. Kuado is now freed. Your father is waiting for you beyond the city to say goodbye. We must go.”

          Kuado was too weak to stand up. Tenmar grabbed him, throwing the frail body on top of his back as if Kuado—now a full grown elf, though weak and deprived of food—was but a toddler. “It’s but a shame I was watched so closely. You would have been saved weeks from capture, not five years.”

          Kuado only heard Tenmar say, “Five years.” Kuado could not move his lips to speak, not quite remembering the nuances of speech. Tenmar did not go the way he came.

          “I would have given you a message if I had been able to. You have been so closely guarded. Only the raid we have done on the palace has given me this time—the first battle for the Golden City in over three years.” Tenmar sighed.

          Tenmar proceeded to the wall, looking up and down as if expecting to find its breaking point. Tenmar pushed heavily on a particular stone, which opened a crevice in the wall.

          “We were able to get you inside this cell, but not able to send you a message. I was not able to visit you, or even bring the rebel forces this close. If they had ever found me, I wouldn’t have been able to save you.” Tenmar cried.

          They walked down the crevice. Tenmar, in a rush, accidentally knocked Kuado’s head into one of the passage walls at the sound of guards in the distance, which made Kuado pass out. Tenmar ran faster than ever before. Though he was the most experienced fighter in the city, he didn’t want to risk the fragile Kuado—or test his might against innumerous troops that were bound to follow the scattered footsteps he could barely hear.

          At the end of the passage was an opening of the desert. Sand covered the opening, which forced Tenmar to put Kuado down and begin to dig. After many minutes, he had finally achieved success, though at the cost of the footsteps growing quite a bit more numerous and louder. In a moment of panic, Tenmar grabbed Kuado, threw him out in the desert—then pushed the sand as fast as was possible onto the hole again. They were free.

          Tenmar took Kuado, and headed southeast. Horses were not far from where they were. Kuado silently regained consciousness midway through the journey, though said nothing. In the beginning there were moments in which he imagined what he’d do once he was rescued, but he hadn’t had one of those thoughts in over a year. He had given into his dungeon, and his now pale, fragile skin didn’t feel comfortable in the light.

          Kuado’s father was glad to see him. Kuado instantly recognized his father, and Tenmar too now that he could see his face. Kuado said nothing, but embraced his father. Given to Kuado was a small bag of various objects Kuado didn’t care to guess, along with some meager food which seemed a feast to Kuado, who gobbled it up within seconds.

          “The city will burn like the desert, Tenmar, but you have led us well. I shall speak to the rest of the members about what our course of action should be. We are ready for war again, and I am ready to lead in your place. Some of the Pilgrims have set out to bring Elemnar here, think he will come?” Kuado’s father asked Tenmar.

          “Elemnar has more pressing needs. I have not heard from him in months. He will come when the false King is removed from power and pays for the injustice done to Kuado—but, I will leave you to that as well, and bring him to Orca for his protection.” Tenmar said, as he began to ride off, Kuado in the horse next to his.

          “And so shall I protect your family, Tenmar, for theirs will be in danger—and surely land taken away after this betrayal. But, they will live well, fear not.” Kuado’s father promised.

          “Good then! Fair well good friend!” Tenmar cried out.

          “Goodbye son!” Kuado’s father said, more to himself than Kuado.

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