Here is the First Chapter of the sequel to The End of Mor.
The door to the archive swung open, the guard stood silently observing the figure as it flitted like a bee from flower to flower. Down the long, narrow aisles stacked high with scrolls, the girl tip toed quietly with her wings folded tightly to her back. Her long white hair flowed like a mountain stream babbling over pebbles she scoured the shelves searching for the elusive scroll. Her master had sent her on this errand as he could not access the archives, his absence from the throne room would have been noticed by more than just the palace guard.
Moving with a subtle grace, the girl, Regina, swept around the end of an aisle rising to a higher level as though the scroll that she sought was drawing her unto itself. There, glowing softly among thousands just like it sat the one scroll that among all the others in the archive was known by all. There was not a soul in the heavenlies that did not whisper of The Great Prophecy. Standing like a guilty child before a disappointed father, Regina reached out a trembling hand and pulled the scroll from the stack. Her heart leapt to her throat as the stack suddenly tumbled inward to fill the space. There was no way that she could sneak it back now. Regina tried parting the scrolls, but they had become fused together their light dimming as she watched. Panic gripped her heart, she could feel her heart pounding in her chest. She had never felt like this before, excitement and fear coursing through her system shattering her peace. She ran.
Clutching the scroll tightly in her hand, her bare feet pounding on the cold stone floor, Regina ran as quickly as possible her wings dragging along the shelves sending the scrolls cascading to the floor behind her. Scrolls danced and spun about the ground, some losing their seals sprung open turning to dust in an instant. She dared not look behind her, her only thoughts now were on flight.
The guards watched impassively as the girl flashed by them in a blur, their only response was a single blink to remove the dust from their eyes. Out into the open courtyard, she ran. Thrusting her white feathered wings out wide she lifted into the air soaring higher and higher, faster and faster until the rushing of the wind finally drowned out the beating of her heart. Ahead lay the circle of towers whose spires were lost in the ethereal clouds and whose foundations were buried in the deepest sea.
Regina fixed her eyes on the distant towers forcing herself on despite the growing fears in her mind. Was she doing the right thing? Was Nehushtan the one that she should obey? Who was the one pulling Nehushtan’s strings, she was not convinced that it was The One as he so convincingly claimed. As the towers neared Regina veered to the left disappearing into the cloud base the cold caress of the crystalline cloud tingling on her pale skin. As she climbed above the cloud layer, into the bright light that shone from the Tower of Truth at the centre of the circle, she drew a long breath swallowing hard. For a faltering moment, she was drawn to the Tower of Truth, and its cleansing light, the scroll in her hand felt as heavy as the guilt of a thief caught in the act. Regina spun around turning her back on the Truth she dived back into the cloud layer headed toward the Servant Tower with its heavy browed windows and broad spiralling staircases where Nehushtan waited.
“You took your time,” Nehushtan said holding out his hand for the scroll. Regina eyed him cautiously, something about him was different, a permanent change, but what?
“The archive is no small matter,” she replied thrusting the scroll toward him. Nehushtan stepped forward, his feet protruding slightly from his beneath his long, flowing robe. Then she saw it. A subtle change, not noticeable to a human eye but to a celestial like herself, it was obvious. “What has become of your robe?”
“Nothing,” Nehushtan said tightly. “It is the same as it ever was.” He snatched the scroll from her hand. It was then that she felt the air swirling about her own feet. Nehushtan’s mouth curled into a smile. “Welcome to the fold, Regina.”
“What do you mean?” Regina made a futile swipe at the scroll.
“Oh no, this is for someone else,” Nehushtan touched the scroll to his lips. “He’ll be so pleased.”
“Who will,” Regina stepped back looking around the room for the third person.
“Oh, he’s not here,” Nehushtan’s smile broadened. “He’s over there,” he said pointing with the scroll to the Tower of Truth.
“You can not possibly mean …” Regina’s eyes widened, her mouth opened and closed involuntary.
“No, hot him,” Nehushtan sniggered, “Silly girl.”
“Come.” A single, dis-embodied word was spoken into the room. Both Nehushtan and Regina froze.
“Oh, no,” they both whispered as a white mist enveloped them.
When the mist lifted they were both standing with their arms at their sides facing a large circular bronze table supported on the back of a six-legged white marble dragon. The north rim of the table was supported on the broad head of the dragon, the south upon its twin tails. The east and west were rested upon the dragon’s spread wings. The surface of the table shimmered forming into loose collections of islands that shifted slowly around in a turbulent bronze sea.
An archway opened in the wall to Regina’s right through it walked an angel much taller and broader than either Nehushtan or Regina. The angel looked at the two first at their faces then at the feet and the golden bonds that held them fast to the floor.
“Why are we here?” Regina whispered.
“Why are you whispering?” Nehushtan said tersely.
“I have no doubt that we shall soon find out,” the third angel walked over to the bronze table and began stirring the sea with one finger. “Oh look, the little boats are all trapped in my whirlpool,” he said gleefully.
“Will they perish, Accuson?” The voice spoke calmly from within a cool, white light that shone from a throne of ordinary stone. All three angels fell to their knees, the black bonds flexing to accommodate the strain.
“My Lord, I had no idea,” Accuson began.
“Why do you try to deceive me Accuson?” The voice said. “What am I?”
“You are many things my Lord,” Accuson smiled to himself.
“Rise and look at me, all of you and I will tell what will be,” the light solidified into the form of a man. His long robes flowed behind him fluttering as though caught in a gentle breeze. The three angels stood, Regina and Nehushtan looked upon the man in short glances, but Accuson stared blankly as he looked upon nothing.
“Tell me again what I am, Accuson,” the man stretched out his hand restoring calm to the turbulent sea on the bronze table.
“You are,” Accuson swallowed hard, he could feel the penetrating gaze of the man looking deep within him. Unable to look anywhere else Accuson stumbling over his words continued, “You are The One. Your are all truth.”
The gaze of The One shifted to Regina. She watched amazed as a parchment materialised before her. Regina read the words that appeared upon it, trembling as her eyes scanned the text. “My Lord. I did not take the scroll, The Prophecy, for myself, but for another,” Regina took deep breaths of the cooling air.
“Nonetheless, you did take it,” The One cast a glance at Accuson silencing him before he could speak.
“My Lord, if I may?” Nehushtan injected. “I was not party to the taking of the scroll. I was merely the contact between two agents,” bowing his head lightly to one side.
“What has become of you all? What makes you think that you can deceive me with such stark lies. Regina,” The One’s eyes fell upon her, “You have been played a fool. Nehushtan has you under his command. You have surrendered your will to his whim. You had your doubts when taking the prophecy from the archive, and yet, you persisted in your crime. You are thereby guilty of theft. It matters not how you choose to see it, a theft is a theft no matter its size.” Regina’s hair and robes turned as black as night. The soft, downy feathers in her wings fell to the floor leaving a thick leathery skin. Regina screamed, collapsing in a sobbing heap with her leathery wings wrapped about her.
Nehushtan, upon seeing Regina’s fate fell to his knees his hands pressed together in supplication, “My Lord,” his chest heaving as he fought off his emotions, “I did nothing wrong! I merely received the scroll. It was Accuson whom pressed me to obtain it as he can not enter the archive.”
“Lord!” Accuson strode toward Nehushtan pointing an accusing finger at the tearful angel.
“Silence Accuson. From this day forth you will only say that which is true in my presence. You have surrendered your will to selfish desire. You have become proud and arrogant, thinking yourself superior to all others,” The One paused. “Including me.”
Accuson lowered his arm turning slowly to face The One. “I …” he thought carefully. His tongue desperate to lash out at his accusers. “I have indeed spoken of my desire, to read the scroll myself. But never, did I once demanded that he go and steal it.” He spoke slowly, carefully constructing a truth that would not incriminate him. A parchment materialised n front of him. “What… is… this?”
“A prophecy,” Nehushtan whispered. “Ah!” He screamed as another parchment appeared next to him, smoke softly rising from the burned in scripture. Nehushtan howled like a wolf in torment as his robes turned black as night. His long white hair shriveled to ragged black curls as his flesh turned ash grey hanging loose like sacking about his bones.
“I’ll not read it,” Accuson spit, sweeping his hand through the parchment as though it were nought but air.
“It will change nothing.” The One held out his hand, in it were four scrolls. “You can not that which will be. Why did you want the The Prophecy?”
“To see where I stood in your final plans,” Accuson sneered, hugging himself. “You care nothing for us, all your thoughts are filled with mortals. You set paths before them and encourage to go beyond what they would normally do.”
“And this troubles you, why so?” The One opened his hand allowing the four scrolls to fall toward the surface of the table.
Accuson let out a desperate cry snatching up the scrolls he held onto them in clenched fists. “Now I hold them, the fate of these two and all that lies with my own parchment lies within my grasp. We’ll see how great this prophecy is.” Tearing off the seal from the Great Prophecy Accuson cast the others behind him where the floated slowly toward the open window. Light exploded from the open parchment dazzling Accuson with its brilliance. Screaming with childish frustration he tore the the prophecy into shreds. Scattering the tiny pieces of parchment over the bronze table, he laughed maniacally. “I doubt even you could fix that!”
The One, stroking his beard thoughtfully said, “do you happen to know what that table is?” His eyes sparkled mischievously.
“One of your toys, no doubt,” Accuson leaned over that table, wafting his hand to clear a tiny cloud that he thought to be snow. “What is that?” He asked annoyed that he could break up the cloud.
“To disperse that would take a word of command,” mused The One.
“Scatter,” Accuson said stiffly. The tiny cloud burst scattering its contents across the entire map.
“Oh well done, my child.”
“You have not called me that for…” Accuson stopped, drawing himself upright. “I’ll not fall for your games.
The three remaining scrolls floated gently out the window.
“Accuson, the scrolls!” Nehushtan gave a loud, wailing cry. Regina jumped to her feet, took one last lingering look at The One before leaping out of the window after the scrolls.
“Has your compassion run aground, Accuson?” The One swept his hand over the table, a tiny speck of light appeared, falling from the sky above the land. “Nehushtan, wheresoever she falls will be your home. You became her master, now she is your mistress. Do you not feel the tug on your heart?”
Nehushtan wailed a guttural cry leaping out of the window, he followed the remaining love in his heart as it plummeted toward the world below.
“Well Accuson,” The One said, as the first speck on light smashed into the world below.
“Well what?” Accuson holding his hands behind his back twiddling his fingers as he tried to stare at the back of the throne beyond The One.
“Perhaps you would care to sit upon the throne,” The One rising from his seat gestured toward the vacated seat. “it will not make you any nor any less than you already are.”
“It would be difficult to make me any lower than a snake,” Accuson hissed.
“For you perhaps, but if that is what you want?” The One raised his hand pointing toward the table. “The world is turning. Tides come and go, but you shall always remain. The prophecy concerning your life has been written. In fact, it is in your hand.”
Accuson squeezed his hand feeling the crisp parchment in his palm, “How kind. I shall take this and write my own,” his lip curling into a wicked smile. “I shall be king of all the world,” he whispered.
“Indeed you shall. You will have a loyal following that will gladly bow before you. They will worship you and call you a god. You will the beast of greed and power to your right and left. You will scourge the earth of image. But.” The One sat back in his throne. “You will rule for a time, times and half a time. Then the end of all things shall come. You will be defeated by a child and sent too you final destination where you will howl in torment and gnash your teeth ion anger at the injustice of it all. You will feel the pain and anguish of every soul that you destroy with that silver tongue.”
Accuson swallowed hard feeling the weight of his tongue for the first time. “I…”
“I have spoken. It can not be undone,” The One held out his hand over the table. The world upon it stopped. The clouds hung motionless, the seas became still. Time was no more. The One rose from his throne, grasping Accuson by his robes. “You were one of my chosen,” The One spoke softly, no hint of malice. “I gave you high office. I trusted you, and you abused that trust for your own gain. But what have you gained?” Accuson wanted to look away, to not stare into the face of The One, but he could resist the countenance of his lord. Accuson trembled, his knees buckling beneath him, his wings hung limp at his sides. “You and all those that have been beguiled by your tongue will now join you. They will learn to eat dust and crawl on their bellies. You have had your time in my courts now you can hold court of your own.” The floor opened beneath Accuson, a maw filled with downturned teeth preventing any re-entry into the heavenlies. “Farewell my child.” The One released Accuson, dropping through toothed maw. Turning to the east The One proclaimed, “Come beast of bones. Come feast upon the outcasts of heaven. Go unto the world below and there slumber until your time is come.” The maw closed silently.
The One turned his attention to the table where a speck of light, much brighter than the last, fell toward a vast continent. After it came a shadow the breadth of a nation, and the depth of a sea. The shadow caught up with speck of light batting it like a ball. The light hurled toward the land below burning like a comet in the night sky. It hit the earth with a deafening blow sending up a cloud of debris high into the static clouds. Slowly the debris returned to the earth, and life resumed once more.