The Light Wand and the Ice Blade Chapter 9
Legend of the Ancient Staff
"Did you find the place of untold power?" Bram questioned Valta who knelt before him.
"Yes, I have," Valta purred keeping his head bowed. "It possesses incredible power." He took out a small stone and handed it to Bram. "I have brought a piece of the once magnificent tower for your examination."
Bram studied the rock. It was a triangular piece of stone that seemed to gleam silver in the torchlight. "Interesting . . ." he murmured as he continued to study it. He then glanced at Razan who was standing next to him. "What do you make of this?" he asked as he tossed the rock to the wizard.
Razan caught the rock and examined it. "Magnificent!" he exclaimed. "I can feel a surge of energy coming from this tiny rock. Think about the tower that this rock originated from. What type of power did the tower hold? What was it used for? I think I should look into this myself. I may devise some sort of weapon out of this energy. I would like to be based there if you are willing."
Bram slowly nodded. "Very well. I give you permission to go there. You are the only one who can understand magic anyway. Harness its power Razan and I shall reward you well."
"I will not fail you," Razan bowed.
The words seemed to echo in Bram's mind. Where have I heard that before? Seth!! "Has Seth returned yet?" he asked.
The others were surprised by his question. Seth was able to take care of himself but it seems that he has been gone for about two weeks now. They shook their heads surprised also by his absence. "He's probably on his way back now," Bow reassured them. "He's the second strongest out of all of us. He couldn't fall prey to any human."
The others murmured their agreement but Bram wasn't convinced. It's true that Seth was the second strongest but that was in Hiades. In this planet, things may be different. "He has found the Photosphere though," Valta muttered under his breath.
Bram gazed down at the cat. "Explain," he ordered.
"Of course," Valta obliged. "When I reactivated the tower, I also saw the Photosphere rise up into the sky. I figured that Seth returned here before me."
"Well, he hasn't!" Bram growled. He pounded his fist on a burnt arm of the throne that crumbled into ashes at the impact. Bram paid no heed to it. "If he has betrayed me some way, I will send him to Mother, personally."
They all cringed at his outburst. His eyes were burning red and his sword pulsated from his anger. Razan and Valta, who were closest to him, involuntary stepped back afraid that he might vent out his anger on them. They could feel his power rising with every word. "Go and find him!" he shrieked to no one in particular.
They hesitated for a moment, wondering who would go and find Seth. Then they heard a deep growl emanating from deep within Bram's throat and they turned to leave. It was when they turned that they saw Seth.
He leaned by the doorway panting. Then with great effort he staggered into the throne room. He took only a few steps before collapsing onto the floor. Valta sprang forward while the others followed more slowly. "What happened to him?" Bow asked when they reached him.
Valta, who reached him first, replied, "I don't know but look at these wounds." He pointed to a huge gash that ran across one side of his head and to various scratches and bruises on his body. "I'd say someone did a good number on him."
"What I would like to know is who?" Bram said. "Seth cannot be easily beaten. All of you have learned that from experience."
They muttered their agreement. "Maybe I could tell who did this to him," Razan suggested. Valta moved out of the way as Razan placed a hand on Seth's head. "Let's see," he murmured. His head was bowed in concentration and his staff began to glow softly.
Scenes of Seth's events these past two weeks flashed in Razan's mind. He saw Seth studying the crater then saw him reach a small town. There he saw Seth gathering information from the bartender and how he rested for three days among the humans. Then the Photosphere's control room appeared later followed by the battle with the traitor. That's when he got his answer.
"Interesting," he reflected as he removed his hand from Seth's head. His staff lost its glow as he stood up. They looked at him for further explanation. "It seems that our traitor has become stronger," he continued.
"Unbelievable," Bram muttered. "We're playing a deadly game with them having the advantage. But we have the Photosphere and the mysterious ruins. Surely they must know that by now."
He looked at each one of them, a smile beginning to form. "We must make our move as well. And I think I know just how to do it."
The trio relaxed with the company of Zed's family during lunch hours. They talked about old times, back when the world was at peace. Zed talked about his family and how he started training his son in swordsmanship. Jill added into the conversation her time at Curan Abbey and what she learned there. Rudy and Cecil added some bits and pieces where it deemed appropriate. But it was later in the day that things started to get serious.
It started out with a simple question.
"How are Jack and Cecilia doing?" Zed asked.
Both he and Rudy watched young Zex dueling with Cecil. Jill cheered from the side urging her brother on. Cecil gritted his teeth as he blocked and deflected Zex's slashes and swings. The boy was faster than he but he was stronger. He was suddenly taken off guard as Zex head butted him. He fell on his behind, his face flushed with anger and embarrassment as Zex jumped up and down in glee.
Rudy averted his eyes from the sight, seeing that it reminded him of the duel he had with Cecil the day before the attack. Zed turned to look at him and saw the sadness in his eyes. "What's wrong? Are they not well?" Zed asked puzzled by his friend's expression.
Rudy sighed and shook his head. "I wish I could say they are well but they are not." He sighed again as Zed waited patiently for him to continue.
"Is there someplace where we can be alone?" asked Rudy. Zed nodded.
The reformed demon led themselves into the heart of the city where the broken statue of the Saint Guardian was located. "I always come here to pray to Ione Paua. I can feel her presence and it strengthens me. Maybe it will strengthen you when you speak," Zed said as they reached the secluded area.
Rudy walked up to the desecrated statue and touched it. He lowered his head in obeisance and then looked at Zed. "It's hard for me to say this," Rudy began. He took a deep breath and continued, "Zed, both Jack and Cecilia have been incapacitated."
"What do you mean incapacitated?" Zed questioned.
"They're disabled, Zed," Rudy explained. "They can't fight anymore. Jack is crippled but I think Cecilia is the worst of the two. She has become weak and blind."
Zed was stunned for a moment. He looked at Rudy with unbelieving eyes. "Both of them can't fight?!" he exclaimed. "That can't be true!"
"It's true," Rudy replied. "Ask Jill or Cecil and they will tell you the same thing that I did."
"But how?" asked Zed and when Rudy continued to stare at him, he knew. "The demons." Rudy nodded. "Care for me to explain?" Zed silently found a spot to sit in answer to Rudy's question. Rudy, too, found a place to sit and began telling his tale of the events that had occurred until now.
"I see," Zed said absorbing the tale, "and I am the rebel that this 'prophecy' spoke of?"
"Yes, you are," Rudy nodded. "The prophecy specifically specifies you. In the town of the 'sacred beast', he met one who cannot see the world of men but could see their hearts. That's a quote from the prophecy. It describes you. Saint Centour is the town of the 'sacred beast' and Rosa is the one who cannot see the world of men."
Zed stood up. "I guess you're right," he agreed. "I'm glad that I met Rosa or else I would still be a pawn for my race. I never did like being used." He stretched and looked up at the sky. "It's almost time for dinner. We should be heading back."
As if on cue, Zed could hear Zex's voice calling out to him. "Daddy! Daddy! Where are you? It's dinnertime!"
Zed turned to see his son coming. "I'm over here," he signaled to the boy.
Zex saw him and ran up to him. "Come on, Dad. Mom's been cookin' up a storm for our guests. Let's hurry or else she'll be mad." He pulled on Zed's arm and Zed let him lead him home.
Zed turned his head and gave Rudy a sheepish grin. He then turned his attention back to his son. "Zex, we don't have to hurry right now. The sun hasn't even set."
Zex continued to drag his father home. Rudy sighed as he saw the two disappear among the buildings. He looked at the statue and made one final prayer before catching up with Zed and Zex.
The twins watched Rosa as she set dinner up for them. They offered her some help but she refused saying that they were the guests and she was the hostess. They had learned from Zex that she was blind. The boy said it with no remorse but the twins felt a tinge of sadness, reminded of their mother who was blind. They were amazed as they observed how she cooked and set up the table without faltering. It's as if she could see.
"Amazing," Cecil whispered as Rosa set a plate, fork and knife, and a glass of water in front of him. "Thank you," he added gratefully.
Rosa merely nodded her head and smiled before continuing placing the plates on the table. She then went back into the kitchen to get the dishes ready. "Your mother is amazing," Jill said to the little boy sitting across from her.
"Isn't she?" Zex said. "Dad said that even though she's blind, she could still see certain things that we could not."
"What does that mean?" asked Jill. Zex shrugged his shoulders. He then got up and went into the kitchen also.
Jill stood up from the round table and walked about the house. The house was simple enough to accommodate a small family. There was a small desk in the far-left corner of the room, which held a simple lamp that emitted a small glow. A bed that could fit a couple stood next to it, covered in white linen trimmed with gold. A woven blue rug lay at the foot of the bed adding the feel of homeliness.
The round table, where Cecil sat, was placed in front of the entrance to the house. The kitchen was opened up to the right of the entrance where Rosa and Zex prepared dinner. Jill could see that her brother was observing how Rosa prepared dinner with interest. And why wouldn't he?, Jill thought. She's as blind as mother but she could do all the things a normal seeing person could do. She shook her head at the thought and continued to explore the house.
The last room she discovered looks to be Zex's room. It was located north of the kitchen. A bed stood in the corner of the room. Next to it was a small desk with an open book atop of it. A small sword hung on the wall across the bed. She observed through the lone window at the east end of the room that dusk fast approached. She then heard someone enter the house.
"Where have you guys been?" she heard her brother ask. She exited the room and saw both Zed and Rudy sit at the table.
"Well, actually, Zex brought us here earlier but we decided to wait outside for awhile," Zed explained to Cecil as Jill took her seat between her brother and Rudy. "We were discussing about these demons and this prophecy you've heard of."
Both twins perked up at the news. "What do you plan on doing?" questioned Jill.
"I have decided to help," replied Zed, "seeing that my strength has improved because of Ione Paua."
"Ione Paua," Rudy repeated. "You have her rune?" Zed nodded and showed it to the trio. It was a small slab of stone similar to the ones that the others had obtained in the Guardian Shrine."That rune has made you stronger?" continued Rudy.
"Yes," Zed nodded as he placed the rune back in his tunic. "I guess it's my reward for being devoted to the protection of others. One day she spoke to me saying that I should help in defeating the new demons. She appeared to me, and then with a brilliant light she transformed into this rune. She spoke in my heart saying that it would strengthen me in the battles to come. Ever since, I've become stronger for two purposes: to defeat the demons and to restore peace to Filgaia.
"I heard that you were looking for the Guardian Blade," Zed continued. "I wish I could tell you where it is but I think I know of a way to find it."
"Well, the Guardians didn't say specifically that you know where the sword is," said Cecil as he leaned forward. "They just said that when we find the rebel, we would find the sword."
"And so you shall," Zed agreed. "As I said, I think I know of a way to find it. Have you heard of the Ancient Staff?" When they shook their heads, Zed continued.
"It was during the first war. The war was nearing its end and we were losing. The Elws, Guardians, and Humans were too much for us. I remember the very last battle that took place near what is now Rosetta Town. The races of this world were led by two humans, a beautiful woman and a young man. The woman held a long wooden staff with a bright blue crystal fixed atop of it. The man held a huge sword that glowed brightly." His eyes grew distant as his mind went back to that awful battle.
"During the last battle, I remember seeing the tide of Humans and Elws coming down a hill. Their swords, spears, and ARMs were raised in defiance of our presence. The battle was ugly. At the thick of the battle were the two leaders working as one. The woman's staff fired projectiles at us and occasionally called the Guardians to her aid while the young man's sword cut us down.
"At one time, I think I saw the swordsman transform into an armored knight, metal gleaming brightly under the sun's rays. He held a shield that could appear and disappear at will. Though in full battle armor, he was as quick and agile as those were without armor. He attacked with a fury that was unmatched by our own kind. The beautiful woman struck her staff on the ground and in a flashing light was transformed into a beautiful mage with a long blue robe and a crystal staff instead of a wooden one. Her power increased tenfold. Their combined strength nearly wiped us out." He said it with such fervor that surprised Rudy and the twins.
"Their ultimate attack, its name escapes me for the moment, nearly killed everyone on the battlefield including their own kind and the Elws." His eyes were wide as he reflected back on that horrible day. The screams of those dying on that battlefield would haunt him for the rest of his life. "I'll never forget that sight," he muttered softly. His mouth suddenly felt dry and he asked for a cup of water.
Cecil poured him a cup and gave it to Zed. "So what happened after that?" Cecil questioned eager to learn more about the greatest sword ever forged. "To the Guardian Blade, I mean."
Zed drank the refreshing liquid before continuing with his tale. "I'm getting there," Zed replied to the boy's eagerness. "As I was saying, their ultimate attack nearly wiped everyone out but it was enough to end the war. That attack not only ended the war but it also created the Sea of Sand, as we know today. It wasn't the Guardian Blade that made the Sea of Sand even though that is half the truth. That's how powerful their attack was." He poured himself another cup of water as the others absorbed the tale.
"So, someone had the power to wield the blade," Rudy commented intrigued. "Did anyone inherit the blade after the swordsman's death?"
Zed shook his head. "No. No one could wield the blade. That's how it truly went out of control and buried itself in the sand. Another thing I heard was that the body of the swordsman disappeared when the blade was buried. No one knows where the mysterious swordsman lay. Some say he's buried in the sand with the blade. Others say that someone stole his body and burned it. It was very strange."
"Strange indeed," Cecil murmured. "Who was he? Did he have a name?"
"They say that he was the founder and the first king of Arctica," Zed replied. "His name is not known to me. We were enemies then and so I had no reason to learn it."
"What happened to the sorceress after the war?" Jill asked this time.
"She went back to her village from what I heard," replied Zed. "I heard that she was praised a heroine. The village grew bigger until it was a town. They made her their leader, later known as their queen. That's how Adlehyde was founded and she the first ruler, your ancestor.
"As you would have guessed by now, she was buried there along with her staff. The blue crystal, however, was removed and given to her daughter. The crystal was passed down through the generations. Now it belongs to you, Jill. You have one half of the staff. All we need to do is find the other half and the staff shall be complete once again."
"Am I worthy of the staff?" Jill whispered to herself. She took out the Tear Drop around her neck and stared at it. It pulsated a soft blue glow as she held it in her hand. She couldn't believe that it was a part of an ancient weapon. Did her mother even know about the staff?
She looked up when a hand lightly touched her shoulder. Rudy smiled at her and said, "You are worthy of the staff, Jill. From what I have witnessed, you are worthy of it. The power lies within you. Use it to save Filgaia like your ancestor did."
Jill smiled and nodded. She placed the Tear Drop back around her neck. "I guess we'll be returning home," she sighed. "I wonder how mother and father are doing."
"You're not the only one," Cecil muttered as he stared at his cup. "It's been about a week since mother woke up. I wonder if her health has improved."
"We all do," Rudy added sadly. "We'll find out tomorrow."
"Speaking of your mother," said Zed, "I hear that she's blind. Maybe I could bring Rosa and Zex along and they could stay in Adlehyde while we're away. Rosa may help her cope with her blindness being that she too is also blind."
"That would be splendid!" Jill agreed. "Mother would enjoy the company."
"Enjoy who's company?" Rosa asked as she came from the kitchen with a big platter in her hands. She placed the platter down in their midst.
"We'll be going to Adlehyde tomorrow," replied Zed. "Rudy has told me of their troubles and I'm willing to help them in their cause. I think it best if you and Zex stay in Adlehyde until all is safe."
"I would love to go," Rosa smiled as she walked towards Zed's voice. Zed took her hand as she neared him and guided her to the seat next to him. "It would be nice to hear the different sounds of the city than the moaning of the wind in this dead village," Rosa added as she sat herself down. She felt someone shift besides her and she turned to regard the person.
"Rudy," the blue-haired knight answered her inquiring gaze. He shifted uncomfortably under her blank stare.
"What's wrong?" Rosa asked, feeling the knight's discomfort.
"The way you look at me," Rudy answered as he averted his gaze from her blank eyes. "Though a bandage covered Cecilia's eyes, she must have been gazing at me beneath that bandage as you are right now. It just pains me to see her like that."
"I understand," Rosa nodded as she shifted her blank eyes from Rudy to what she presumed to be the kitchen. "Zex," she called, "bring the ale and some bread."
"Coming mom," Zex said as he came from the kitchen. He carefully walked to the table, balancing a plate of bread on one hand and carrying a pitcher of ale in the other. "Here you go," he said as he placed the pitcher of ale and the plate of bread on the table. He then went to his seat between his father and Cecil. "Let's eat!" the boy announced eagerly as soon as he sat down.
"Always eager when it comes to food," Zed said as he stood up to remove the cover of the platter. "Just like your old man." He pulled up the cover, steam flowing out in white smoke. A sweet odor filled the air and everyone's mouths began to water.
"Smells delicious," Rudy complimented Rosa's cooking.
"Why thank you Rudy," Rosa replied gratefully. "It's Zex's favorite dish. He pleaded me to make it this evening. You know how children are."
Zed placed the cover to the side before resuming his seat. As soon as his father resumed his seat, Zex immediately leaned forward to serve himself but stopped when his father looked at him. "You know better than that, son," Zed chided. "We have guests and it's common courtesy for guests to take their share of the meal first."
Zex's head was lowered as he leaned back in his chair. "Yeah, I know," he sighed. "Sorry."
"There's nothing to be sorry about," Rudy smiled as he leaned forward to take some of the food. He saw that the main dish was noodles mixed with vegetables and meat. He scooped some onto his plate, took a roll of bread, and poured himself a cup of ale. The twins quickly followed his example and soon the three were eating.
Zed motioned for Zex to take his food, seeing that his guests were served. Zex leaned forward eagerly as he scooped as much of the noodles as he can on his plate. He sat back down and began devouring the small mound of noodles with a ferocity that could match a monster's. "Mind your manners, boy!" Zed whispered harshly from the corner of his mouth.
Zex mumbled something, his mouth full of noodles to reply properly. He swallowed and reached for a napkin in the middle of the table. He took one and wiped his mouth slowly. "Sorry," he apologized afterwards. "When it comes to noodles, I can't help myself."
"That's quite all right," Jill assured the boy. "You're young to think of such niceties but it's good that you practice such manners. Your parents taught you well."
"Well, if you want to blend in with the world, you have to act like the world," Zed stated. Jill nodded in agreement to the demon's logic. Zed then took Rosa's plate and filled it up with noodles. "Do you want a roll of bread?" he asked her as he placed the plate in front of her and placed a fork in her hand.
Cecil observed how the demon treated his blind wife as he continued to chew on his food. He swallowed and wiped his mouth with a napkin as he continued to watch the couple. This journey is only full of sadness, he thought sourly as he placed another helping of noodles on his fork and continued to eat in silent musing while the others engaged themselves in wholesome conversations.
That one moment he saw how Zed treated Rosa bothered him somehow. Maybe because it reminds me of father and mother's predicament. When he had observed that one instant, a picture came into his mind.
A scene of his father caring for his mother.
The troubled prince placed his utensils down, not feeling hungry anymore. "Full?" Zex asked when he saw the prince place his utensils down. Cecil nodded absently in answer. "So you don't mind me taking it, do you?" the boy asked eagerly staring at the small pile of noodles on Cecil's plate. Cecil motioned him to take it in reply to his inquiry. "Thanks!" Zex exclaimed gratefully as he took the plate and began devouring the noodles in a heartbeat.
"Zex!" Zed chided the boy. "That wasn't very polite. You know better than to eat other people's food."
"I know," the boy replied with a mouthful of noodles. "That's why I asked first."
Jill laughed at the comment. "Zed, it's quite all right," she smiled. "He's just a boy. Let him be but I must say you have taught him well when it comes to his manners."
"Thanks," Zed said, "but I think I could have done better."
"Maybe," was all Jill could say. She then turned to her brother and saw his troubled expression. "Will you always be like that on our journey?" she sighed. "Ever since Milama, you've become unpredictable. What's on your mind this time?"
"Nothing," Cecil mumbled. He then stood up and headed towards the door.
"Where are you going?" his sister asked.
"I'm going to take a walk, that's all," Cecil replied softly as he exited the house.
"But it's dangerous outside at this time of night!" Jill exclaimed as she stood up intent on following her brother out but a hand grabbed her wrist. She looked down and saw that it was Rudy that stopped her.
"He'll be fine," the knight assured her. "Please sit, princess." He motioned towards her chair and the princess silently obeyed. "He's as stubborn as his father once was," Rudy muttered as he saw the princess settled. "Jack had always gone out alone when we stopped by an inn," he explained sensing Jill's questioning gaze. "Troubled minds need some time. He'll grow out of it or learn from it. It's up to him." He stood up. "Thanks for dinner, Zed, Rosa. It was delicious and filling. You are a wonderful cook, Rosa."
"Thank you," she replied. "It seems that tonight is full of compliments."
"Indeed," Zed agreed. "You can stay in any house in the town," he added. "This house is too small to accommodate you all. I'm sorry."
"Don't be," Rudy said. "I guess we'll be staying at the inn. Shall we be going, Jill?" He turned to her and held out a hand.
"I guess," the princess answered as she took Rudy's hand and stood up. Both of them said their good-nights to the family before leaving the house. They walked down the street, towards the inn in front of the entrance of town.
They entered the small establishment and Jill was dismayed that it wasn't as luxurious as the Milama Inn. It was small in comparison with the oasis's inn, having only three beds lining the eastern part of the inn. The inn, in fact, was just one big room to Jill; the only other furniture was the counter in front of the entrance. "I know that it doesn't provide your own room," Rudy said, reading the princess's expression in the moonlight. "But at least it provides a measure of comfort." Jill had to agree on that part.
"We should go to sleep," Rudy suggested as he lied down on the bed at the far corner of the inn. "We have to look our best for our return home tomorrow."
Jill nodded as she took the middle bed. "Home," she whispered before closing her eyes. "I can't believe we're going back home."
Somewhere near the broken statue of Ione Paua, Cecil thought the same thing as he stared up at the stars.
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