With a passion for storytelling spawning before he even could write, Pete Cotsalas, a Massachusetts native, does not feel accomplished unless he has written daily. Fiction is his passion. With a BA in English/Creative Writing he hopes to milk all the use possible out of this basic credential, and dreams of the world reading and enjoying his work. He is an avid reader and researcher in his spare time. To inspire himself, he often contemplates “If it exists, I can write about it.”
Chliste transported them to Palace Dli. Upon anointment with the Manticore blood, King Walden embarked upon inchmeal convalesce. As royal serfs tended him, Ivanna, Myria and Glee stood at his bedside. Cold sweat, stained red by the blood cascaded along his skin. Vision returned to his glassy eyes. Ivanna welcomed the rapid blinking, as her father was able to gain focus on her. “Father…” she murmured, leaning to whisper something. Hesitating, she watched him attempt to respond. Lips moved, but no words emitted. Realization of his remaining incapacitation, she changed her mind. Nonetheless, Chliste detected from her aura as he stood in the doorway of the royal bedchamber that Princess Ivanna was eager to inform the King that she encountered her mother, the late Queen Nekeena in the Death Realm. Simultaneously, he detected from Froman, leaning against a stone wall in the corridor, arms folded knew the same. Approaching him, Chliste offered counsel. “Pure circumstantial luck allowed Ivanna to encounter her mother beyond the veil. You know firsthand how expansive the Death Realm is. Do not feel woebegone.”
With a scoff, Froman glanced over his shoulder. “What do you mean?”
Pacing the corridor outside the bedchamber, Chliste patted his chest. “Froman, my newfound heart grants me more clarity into those of others than I have before. Example, prior I failed to grasp Ivanna’s unrequited attraction to her possibly asexual male partner. Despite her operose efforts to contain it, her heart is amassed by it. You are jealous because you did not see Betinda, or your mother or father.”
Lividly, Froman turned around, glaring at Chliste. “Is there no limit to your audacity?” His chin lowered and Ivanna saw a set of fully developed canine teeth in his jaws. His receding hairline rapidly succumbed to elongating hair. Froman was transforming into Wolf form. “You do not know when to stop, do you Chliste, you meddling, arrogant, jumble of pebbles?!” Xanthic gleam flashed from Froman’s eyes. Nose and mouth had extended into a snout his ears creased and jutted out from his head, like blooming flowers. He was nearly in full Wolf shape.
Chliste extended his hand when he saw Froman’s change begin. “I am fed up with these bathetic insults. Let us see how well you deliver them after I shrivel your tongue into a raisin.” In the first undeserved act of offense he ever initiated, Chliste aggressively uttered a spell. “Laghdaigh Guth Meid-.”
“Stop!” shouted Ivanna. She stood outside the bedchamber, glaring from partially-turned Froman, to Chliste with his hand raised. Quivering with rage, suppressing tears, Ivanna pointed a finger at both of them. “I will not have this petty masculine combat transpiring nearby my pacifist father’s former deathbed. Take your rivalry beyond the courtyard, if you must have a venue.”
From the chamber door behind Ivanna, Glee and Myria emerged to investigate the commotion. Glee stared as Froman slowly returned to his basic hominid form. “What could you have been speaking about for such a short time, which caused Froman to assume the Wolf?”
“Family,” grunted Froman through retracting canine teeth. With a sigh, he looked at Chliste with a digressive expression. “Yes, there was merit to what you say. Twice now I have entered the realm of the dead. Neither venture did I happen upon my father, or mother.”
Exhaling through his nostrils slowly, Chliste nodded. “You deserve to know the reason. Within the Death Realm, your father in particular exists in seclusion, far off from other departed souls. Unlike many, for your father Druck, the world of death presents more cause for hiding.” Chliste looked Froman in the eye. “I am aware, the majority of your life, you believed him to have been killed by Wolf hunters. However, he was murdered with true motive, beyond hatred or bigotry. Druck knew something others did not want becoming general knowledge, by members of The Warlock Loyalists. Ranks are at their strongest within The Death Realm, although they remain plentiful in our existence plane, however discrete. They believe The Days to be Forsaken were not grim, impoverished, but bountiful days of glory. They want to reverse the spell that banished the warlocks, allowing them to retake our continent. If successful they will become adversaries too powerful for swordsmen or archers to subdue.”
Eager desperation fired from Froman’s eyes. “Tell me Chliste. What was it? What did my father know that cost him his life?”
Breaking his gaze from Froman, he looked at the three outside the bedchamber. “King Walden’s recovery will require some time. Permit me to show you.”
With a maneuver of his hand, Chliste transported them. Materializing in a forest, Ivanna looked around. Glomodor mountaintops were a faint haze on the horizon. They must have been south, toward the nether-regions of Fathach. At the mouth of a notch they stood, between two small mountains. Pointing a pale finger betwixt the mountains into the overgrowth of vegetation, Chliste said “Downhill is where I shall answer you. Unfortunately powerful magical warding prevented me from teleporting us all the way.” Five people trudged through a dense cluster of trees, shrubbery and swampy muck. In the middle of the marsh, a stone structure stood. Above the surface of the brown muddy water it sat lopsided. Pillars, columns, and a hexagonal rooftop elevated. From a distance it was difficult to say, but it looked to Ivanna like a pavilion. Thrusting out his arm, signaling his company to halt, Chliste pointed. “That is the Temple of Dispossession.”
Kicking slime off her footwear, Myria chuckled. “The Temple of Dispossession is a parable. Nobody has encountered it.”
“Incorrect,” said Chliste. “Too often, society dismisses as mythology what they have simply been unlucky finding. In that pavilion, the War for Right ended. Beyond those pillars, the spell cast, purging the Warlocks. It was I who discovered its location, after centuries of searching, uprooted it from the sinkhole, whence the revolutionaries concealed it.”
Narrowing his eyes, Froman stared at the columns of the structure. “Strange markings are along the exterior.” Ivanna had not noticed these before. Creases of the carved symbols could barely be seen among the centuries of dried much.”
“The Cryptic Alphabet,” said Glee. “The written language devised by the Warlocks, illegible to anyone but them. Legend articulates the revolutionaries somehow became fluent, and used it to their advantage during the War.” His hunger for knowledge taking control, Glee stepped toward the marsh.
With his arm, Chliste blocked Glee’s course. “Do not approach,” he warned. “Heavy protection was instilled by those who cast the spell. Allow me to provide visual.” Glancing at Froman, Chliste held out his other hand. “May I have the heart of King Skyro please?” Reluctantly, Froman pulled from the satchel the sack containing the heart of the murderous fugitive King, which he had been carrying like a good luck trinket. Retrieving the red organ, Chliste squeezed it. Immediately, the heart began to beat with life, as it had in Faraoise’s lair. For demonstration, Chliste held the beating heart in his hand, and extended his arm forward, past the muddy bank of the swamp. At once, Skyro’s heart ceased convulsion. It shriveled and deflated. Froman grumbled in protest. Beating resumed when Chliste pulled the heart back. Returning the heart to Froman, Chliste indicated the innumerable animal skeletons, floating amidst twigs and debris in the swamp. “Any living creature bypassing this marsh, willingly or otherwise dies. Upon my discovery, I was able to access it without consequence.”
Furrowing her brow, Ivanna said “But, you just said…”
“Golems are immortal,” interrupted Froman with a note of impatience. “Chliste would be an exception to the law. However, I fail to understand how this relates to my father’s assassination.”
Nodding, Chliste explained, indicating the lettered pillars. “Among much else, those symbols chronicle something which your father learned for himself. Druck deduced from his time on Quarrest what the true weakness of the warlocks’ was. Although they had been absent from our realm for some time at that point, it remained valuable information. Grieving and lovelorn following your mother’s untimely death, Druck became reserved after he left Quarrest, as you know, Froman. But, The Loyalists did not want facts such as that known to the public for when they attempted to revive their beloved masters. As they are now, then the Loyalists were spies and treasure hunters. They tracked your father down and murdered him with a silver dagger right by your cottage near the Torgue Peninsula, purely to ensure his silence. They proceeded to preside of the assassination of anybody else he had revealed the information to.”
“What is their weakness?!” Ivanna demanded of Chliste.
“The shriek of a banshee,” said Chliste, looking at them, with his pale blue irises. “It will not kill them, nor will it deplete their power. Sound of a scream from a banshee is a determent to the warlocks. That was why the warlocks projected that powerful barrier around Quarrest. Many believed they were attempting to keep others out, in order to protect a secret they stored there. Truthfully, they attempted to keep something imprisoned there, even before Quarrest was actually a prison. They were ensuring the banshees remained concentrated there. Quite simple once considered with relativity. Banshees, and other fairies on Fathach, are not of our dimension. They spawn from a separate form of conception and lineage. Warlocks would have been burdened greatly attempting to ward themselves against certain powers of fairies. They would not know how exactly. Think, under what circumstances do banshees cry?”
“When they sense death,” Ivanna spoke slowly, to follow Chliste’s lead.
“Indeed,” said Chliste, with a nod of confirmation. “Little known additive, their screams delay death. Very briefly, mind you, but they forego its approach.” He saw the realization on Ivanna’s face. “Is it configuring?” Ivanna nodded. Death by nature was created by the warlocks. Therefore death would be an extension of their being, of sorts.
“How do you know this, Chliste?” Ivanna asked.
“It was all documented on the walls of the Warlock fortresses in the Cryptic Alphabet,” Chliste said. “Writing which nobody could interpret is in fact, a plethora of information about the warlocks, from their creation, directly until the War of the Right. They are essentially biographical chronicles. The information contained on the pillars of Temple Dispossession is a final missing piece.”
Ivanna stared at Chliste. “Are you saying that you can read the Cryptic Alphabet clairvoyantly? But… it is articulated in the chronicles of history that The Knower of All could not read the Cryptic Alphabet… You are a golem of him. Why can you read it?”
“It was yet another cleverly devised strategy managing to deceive even him,” Chliste said. “Apart from the warlocks, there are two creatures who can decipher the Cryptic Alphabet, Faraoise, and myself. Overlords inscribed the language so that it could only be read through the eyes of the most purely natural. I am comprised of natural elements, therefore I can read it. Faraoise, of course, is the founder of the very basis of nature. If it were not for the fact that golems, apart from I, are docile, ignorant servants, they would all be able to be literate of the Cryptic language. Trouble is that now, I have a heart. I worry perhaps the letters will become bleak. There is only one way to ascertain.”
Blinding blue hue gleamed from Chliste’s eyes, causing the others to groan, and shield their own vision. Chliste gazed at the lettering on the Temple’s pillars and columns. Chliste was shocked when he looked at the writing on the small, undiscovered fortress. It was clearer. It had not been this legible even before. “Before, the subtext remained nonsensical to me. Now, I can decipher it. Prophesy, it seems to be a prophesy. It proclaims that the spell can only be reversed amidst a White Dwarf.”
“White Dwarf, what have dwarves to do with the spell, or the Temple of Dispossession?” asked Froman. “Is White Dwarf some subspecies I am unfamiliar with?”
Glee interjected, clearing his throat. “No, White Dwarf does not refer to a creature. It is a phenomenon.” Upward toward the sky, he pointed to indicate the impending sunset. “Our sun reconstructs itself. Like candlelight, it burns down after some time. During a grace period, it recuperates, and then burns at full capacity again. That period when it burns down, receding to a mere small white glimmer, needing time to restore its heat and energy, when Fathach faces days of partial darkness was labeled The White Dwarf Phase by early scholars.”
“Why have I never heard about this?” grumbled Froman.
Shrugging, Glee explained. “Many have not. White Dwarfs occur once every seven-hundred-sixty-four years. Factually, I recall reading the last one was documented on the final day of the War for the Right.”
Ivanna gaped. “Is it not the 764th Justice Jubilee in a fortnight?” Upbringing among monarchs had provided her with careful memory of the annual celebration of the end of the war. “Now all the recent activity makes sense. Loyalists’ deadline in approaching.” She stared, unblinking at the sun, as though she hoped to keep the sunlight aflame with her gaze.
Continuing to scan the newly discovered subtext, Chliste remarked “I also now can read of the creature who leads the Loyalists. What I see frightens me, I confess. This creature possesses powers far beyond the capability of my sorcery. He is able to conjure reality out of thin air, with little to no exception. He is a Djinn.”
Ivanna asked “What is a Djinn?”
“Proof of something long speculated among scholars,” said Chliste. “Lately, the term coined among intellectuals is The Tapestry Theory. Evidence such as this could shift the teleology of Fathach. Djinn are creatures thriving from satisfying selfish desires from all other realms. If a Djinn truly is collaborating with Loyalists, acumen is required, which may not be possible. It is barely fathomable, even to me. There are as many realties worlds and planes of existence as there are hairs on Froman’s Wolf form, or as many as there are fibers in the tapestry in the Palace Dli’s entryway, hence the theory name.”
“Djinn,” murmured Froman, a tone of recognition in his rasp. Eyes widening, he recalled “As a lad when I returned to our cottage, and found my father facing death, with that silver blade in his chest, he was able to say one syllable before expiring. Djinn was the noise he blurted. Until now, all this time I had assumed it to be a partial word, he was unable to finish.”
Extinguishing the blueness from his eyes, Chliste looked at Froman. “Your father was undeniably wise beyond his status. Unfortunately he is no longer here to give us insight.”
Glee spoke up. “Term Djinn is also familiar to me.” Beneath Glee’s skull, his eidetic memory exercised its potential, like a turntable. “Some time ago, conducting research at the University Library in Ceann, I recall reading it in a manuscript, chronicling a fairy, discovered in the Scholder Province believed to be suffering from dementia, centuries ago. The male fairy kept rambling repeatedly about a Djinn. They were able to coax a name out of the fairy, Humblainenzie.”
“Yes, I have met Humblainenzie,” Chliste said slowly. “He was once a squire under King Shrewn of Mactor. His nickname was The Traveling Pixie. He claims to have visited thousands of other realms, the only Fathach resident to do so. Since he suffered from the breakdown which those chronicles make reference to, he had been confined at Tearmann.”
Tearmann Institute was an alternative prison, for those too maniacal or too powerful to be contained in Caineann Prison. Fairies comprised much of the inmate population. Chliste addressed his four companions. “With Druck gone, it seems there may be one source of information on most dangerous adversary anybody on Fathach has encountered. I submit we set course for Tearmann Institute, visit the Traveling Pixie, and commission him for his knowledge of the Djinn. If he has visited the Djinn realm, he may be more powerful than any weapon in our feeble arsenal.”