Ward of New Dawn Chapter 2 Part 2
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“In the beginning, there was Bara Vinyu. In your tongue, I suppose this would become the Creator, or the Hand. He was alone, yet happy in all infinity, in all the void of nothing. [“Yeah, cause I’d be happy there, too.”] [“John,”] [“Sorry.”] Then, for the sake of His glorification, He created a legion of ethereal beings, spirits second only to Bara Vinyu Himself. The Hand named them the Manwe. [“Good choice.”] They were glorious themselves and spent their timeless existence adoring and praising their Maker. This period of light and peace was the First Age.
“But where there is richness, there is dissatisfaction and the most beautiful of the Manwe, Kau, defied Bara Vinyu’s natural right to rule over his kind. He led an army of insurgents among the Manwe who felt they desired more than Bara Vinyu could ever give them, despite the fact that they could have been perfectly joyful to simply be in the presence of their Creator had they allowed themselves. [“How ungrateful.”] [“I thought you wanted this done quickly.”] [“I didn’t want this to happen at all.”] [“There is a longer version of this story, you know.”] [“Okay, okay, okay!”] Those still content in and loyal to Bara Vinyu’s deity, led by the strongest of the Manwe, Kar, engaged Kau’s forces in battle that we and our little minds can hardly begin to understand. A war between the good rule of Bara Vinyu and the anarchy of Kau and his disciples. This period of surfaced dissatisfaction and war was the Second Age.
“The forces of Bara Vinyu, though, are not to be overcome on their own battlefield. Kau and his followers were defeated and thrust down from the presence of Bara Vinyu. To contain them and their conspiring uprisal, the Creator fashioned a prison for them. Kar forced Kau into this prison and Bara Vinyu created a world surrounding it, a world that would symbolize the perfection of willing submission to His kind dominion. He named it Lae Aurora, or New Dawn. Upon this world, He placed people, beings of smaller mind and lesser beauty, and the innocence of ignorant bliss. He granted them the free choice to follow Him and His laws or to rise up for their own satisfaction. With no negative influence upon these simple minds, their lives were good in the mantle of His governing and they walked freely with those Manwe who chose to serve Bara Vinyu forever. Kau and his followers remained trapped in the center of their world, unable to reach those they wished to corrupt, a pure white tree the only door separating the traitors in their torture from the people in their bliss. Bara Vinyu’s one law was to never touch this tree for its insurance of death. This happy time was the Third Age.
“With free choice and will, though, comes such innocent vices as curiosity, a characteristic that has discovered the keys to saving and preserving life as well as the doors to destroying it. A young and beautiful woman named Amaya found the white tree that guarded the way to Kau’s prison. Ignorant of its purpose and intrigued by its peculiarity, she approached it. At its roots, she heard voices, the seductive voices of self-interest and jealousy of those as beautiful as the Manwe. If she would only touch the tree, whispered Kau’s voice from the deep, she would finally join the Manwe as glorious and equal with Bara Vinyu. Amaya was filled with desire and she stretched forth to touch the tree. Upon contact, the spirit of Kau’s dissatisfaction entered her. [“Question?”] [“I’m almost done!"] Thus, she became a tool of Kau’s followers to infiltrate the world Bara Vinyu had created to be good. As Amaya spoke to the peoples, the vices of Kau filled their hearts and they became a people of revolution, a people who would choose not to follow their maker. The Manwe took action, trying their best to show their Third Age charges the beauties of all that Bara Vinyu had to offer and the emptiness of the promises made by Kau. The people had tasted self-reliance and were forever tainted, ignoring what advice the fair of the First Age gave. The Manwe became spirits that could do little but press gentle guidance upon these lost souls so they would not wander to the hell beneath the tree where Kau was trapped, waiting for his release into this world.
“Bara Vinyu would not leave His creations, his beloved, helpless, though. He sent to them a warrior from another world of His creation, one who consorted with beings so high as the Manwe and led the people away from their delusions of selfish desire. He challenged Kau and his disciples, in the name of Bara Vinyu, to a battle that would end all conflict. [“You said you were almost done.”] Forever the Deceiver, Kau agreed and they fought, but Kau killed the chosen warrior in an act of treachery. The people were ready to submit to Kau’s rule, but Bara Vinyu gave them a promise: the hope of a warrior from this redeemed world that would always come to help them in their times of need until such an era has come that they might be forever relieved of the oppression of Kau and his demons. His contingency has thus been known as the Baki, the clan without the favor of their Creator. His cohorts here on New Dawn, those who accept his wiles, are the Lost People, and they are those we fight in an effort to save.
“And so, for hundreds of years, this has passed, a new warrior has come in our plight that we may rally to his godly purpose and once more repel the forces of Kau’s Baki. You, John Fletcher, are our new warrior, and our world of New Dawn is prepared to answer to your cry.”
The bundled man leaned forward expectantly.
For long, drawn out seconds, the only sound was the hollow sucking at the little pipe, the smoke rings gently curling up to the heights of the tree house. John stared at the ancient man in the rocking chair with narrow eyes. Leofred stood against the wall as still as a statue of obsidian, the Fingerprints on the walls doing little to illuminate his shadowed face. The old man nodded sharply, his beard whiplashing at the sudden movement.
John slowly nodded, tapping his fingertips together one by one. “Yeah. I’m debating how much I should trust the old man living in the tree.”
“My name is not old man, you know. It is Sicarius.”
“Forgive me for not coming to that conclusion, Sicarius who lives in a tree.”
“Well, what about the young one, than?”
John glanced back at Leofred. The character inclined his head and his eyes looked even darker. He had not changed position once for the entire tale and John was sure he had not heard the man breathe. He turned back to the storyteller.
“I hope you’ll understand if I’m seriously questioning both of your sanities right now.”
“How can we validate ourselves to you?” Leofred posed monotonously. John wondered if he was passionate about anything. He straightened, feeling his face tighten with distrust.
“How do you know my name?”
Leofred sighed, shaking his head as Sicarius in the rocking chair cackled into his pipe. Erratic puffs of wispy smoke crawled upwards. He gestured flamboyantly with the spout of the little instrument.
“It is written on the inside of your jacket! Ask us something else.”
John bit his tongue and vowed to never write his name on anything again. It granted old men in trees the opportunity for easy identity theft. He felt the challenge in Leofred’s stare. As a young male invested in competitive sports, it was next to impossible to feel a look like that and turn it down. He stood, turning to face the black clad shadow.
The man shrugged. “Show you what?”
“Sicarius said that the warrior had been sent from another world and all that. Where’s this other world? Let me see it.”
Leofred’s eyes skipped over John’s shoulder to Sicarius. He rose dark eyebrows.
“Is he ready?”
The old man shrugged padded shoulders, slowly creaking to his feet. John’s eyes widened a little. Sicarius straightened with a low moan, coming to at least six and a half feet tall. The blankets collapsed to the chair, revealing a massive figure clad in a dark grey robe belted with a thin cord around his narrow middle. His face was weather-beaten and deeply wrinkled with age and thick silver hair covered his head, thinning towards the tapered end of his long beard. In his round, beady eyes were decades of hardships and wisdom hard come by. Even John, who had never had much reason to read people so deeply, could see the hardened, age tested will of this man. Suddenly, Sicarius reminded John of the tree in which he lived. Tall, hard, full of unexpected things. He reached back and pulled a deep hood up over his head, nearly hiding it in shadow.
“I suppose we shall see, shan’t we?”
Leofred nodded once and crossed to the door of the room in the tree, a large contraption with a strange metal lock that sealed the entire rim with a black substance that looked like tar. The young man pulled down a short lever and there was a loud click. With a loud sucking sound, the seal melted away from the door and was vacuumed into the lock. The door hung loosely on its hinge.
John swallowed, watching Leofred’s hand as it lightly touched the intricate iron handle. He knew this all to be a farce. Maybe something the guys put together to punish him for missing football practice the night before a game. Yet, to every lie there was an element of truth. The lights at home...the sick feeling that had disappeared with the scenery he knew.
What would be waiting outside that door?
Leofred shoved it open and there was a blast of frigid air. John threw his arms in front of his face, gasping for painful breaths. It was only the first shock, though, and a second later, he had grown accustomed to it. He lowered his arms and slowly stepped forward. His breath froze in a white plume before his lips.
It had been autumn back home, right?
“Mistveil, one of the humbler corners of Lae Aurora,” Leofred breathed. John slowly stepped even with him at the doorway, his eyes wide and frozen breaths coming quicker. The young man shrugged his broad, black cloaked shoulders. “A strange place for one so exalted as the Promise to appear.”
John’s chest was heavy. Before him stretched a forest, the rock hard ground interrupted by spurts of dead grass crusted with crystalline frost. These trees were unnaturally large. Above, the sky was stark grey and a sharp wind whistled through the forest crown.
A rusty creak screamed at his left and John spun to face the new object of his attention. A boy, no older than six, stood in the doorway of another tree, hugging a blanket around his shoulders. His eyes fixed on John. The teenager released a long breath, meeting the little one’s focused gaze. He almost did not care to look as another tree opened, then another. This part of the forest was a neighborhood and the neighbors - men, women, and children alike - were slowly trickling outside, wrapped in heavy winter clothing from the medieval ages: cloaks, jerkins, boots. Eyes were wide and whispers were passed. John felt Leofred watching him, waiting for any reaction. He wished he could think of more to do than stand there and stare at the little boy in the doorway. He wished he could run, look for a highway, a phone, a town, a car rental.
But he could only stand and stare.
“This...has to be a dream,” he breathed, shaking his head slowly. “It’s...impossible.”
The wind was too cold, though. The piercing stare of the neighbors too real. The wonder in the eyes of the boy in the other tree too familiar.
Sicarius grunted in satisfaction as he found a comfortable standing position just behind him.
“Are you satisfied?” the man inquired, softly, his thin voice not quite so amused as earlier. John tilted his head just a little. The hooded ancient now leant on a smooth walking stick nearly as tall as himself. The teenager sighed.
“No.” The tremble in his voice sounded uncomfortably close to a sob. “But...what choice do I have?”
“You have the choice to follow the path that was blazed for you by your predecessors, chosen for you by Bara Vinyu. Or you may let your purpose melt before you as Kau and the Baki overcome all that was meant to be good. You have the choice to become the Ward of New Dawn.”