The Sword in the Ceiling – Part 2

Today I want to share with you all part 2 of The Sword in the Ceiling. Catch part one here if you haven’t read it yet! Enjoy!


[2]

To A.S., Director of Intelligence at the Galactic Defense Administration:

 You’re my last hope. I hate to sound like that tropey, “you’re my only hope” bullshit, but this time I’m serious. I’m sending you this message, and hopefully I will have finished it before they get here. There’s a lot you need to know, but I can’t possibly write it all here. Just please trust what I say. The truth will be revealed to you in time, I promise. There are others like me that need your help.

To really understand the power of the knighthood, it’s important to know a few things. Firstly, when I was twelve three men in black suits showed up at my house, demanding to see my father. My mother tried to tell me that his absence was temporary, he’d be back after his business trip, but by the time I was fourteen I knew that wasn’t true. I knew I would never see my father again and I knew that I was the only one who could uncover what happened to him.

Secondly, the knighthood see themselves as ‘space crusaders’. I can’t give the name of the organization here, but these men are ruthless. They have traveled the expanse of space and conquered countless galaxies in the name of their backwards mission. You know the rebel aliens from X-Files that always set everyone on fire? Yeah, think that, but a lot worse.

I know those two things don’t make sense right now, but that’s not really what is important. You’ll understand in time, I just hope that by the time this reaches you, you’ll have figured out a way to stop them. They’re like ants or roaches; no matter how you try to eradicate them, they just keep coming.

My father once told me that I held a powerful secret, and I never understood what he meant until I set out to find him. I never did find him, but I found secrets and clues that he had left for me. What he was hiding, well, that’s why I’m writing to you. I have left you clues to find the amulet. You know that thing on the cat in that other movie about aliens? How it contained a galaxy?

The power that this amulet contains could turn the whole universe into one of those. The theory that our universe is a bubble, floating around with other bubbles containing other universes is pretty accurate. Only, these other universes aren’t like ours. That’s where the knighthood came from. They escaped the confines of their bubble, and their darkness is spreading. We’re not the first planet or civilization to feel their touch, but we are the first universe. The only good thing is that they haven’t found a way to breach from our bubble to another. Yet. That’s why this amulet must be protected.

And don’t try to destroy it. It’s impossible. I’ve tried. Aubrey and I have tried. Of course, that was back when Aubrey was competent, but that’s not really the point.

Speaking of Aubrey, we’ve been holed up in his trailer for three days. I know that we won’t make it out of here alive, even with our special abilities. Remember that secret I mentioned? The one my father told me I held?

Yeah, it was that I’m not fully human. I couldn’t believe it either at first, but it makes so much sense, especially after I realized that the knighthood were the men who had taken my father. But you want to know the real kicker? My father was one of them. So the power I have, and the power that Aubrey has, too, is the power of the knighthood. Of course, it’s watered down and tempered by our human mother’s blood, but it still scares them. That’s how we ended up with the amulet. Only people or creatures with the knighthood’s DNA signature can even touch it. But I’ve taken special precautions to prepare it for you. It’s in a special case so that you can transport it. And like I said, there are more like us who can help you.

I’m including coordinates attached to this message for where you will find the first clue. I hope you’re smart enough to figure it out, but it won’t be my problem much longer. Aubrey and I can feel the rumbling of their approaching ships. I gotta go. Stay safe.

–Lizette

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Stone Angel

Cover

The constant plop of water into a pool had been the only sound in centuries. The grating of a door was a welcome surprise, rousing me from a self-induced slumber. Light fell across the cobblestone floor as the door gave, two shadows forming in the dim light.

“Is this the right place?” A man’s voice filled the cavern, echoing across the cobblestones and the walls. He lifted a hand to wave in front of his place. “It reeks.”

“Silence, boy,” the second commanded. “I warned you of coming to this place.”

The first sighed in irritation as he followed the second across the floor. The ceiling arched high above them into a dome, making their hushed voices echo around the room.

“Yeah, Jay, I know,” the first said. “You said the damn statues would be listening.”

I felt it then, an involuntary shift of muscle, a rumble from deep in my chest filling the room. The very walls of the cavern vibrated with the sound, sending a skitter of rocks down to the cobblestone floor. My mind was shifting from the thick darkness of sleep, filled with their words. Did they know me?

“Ben!” Jay snarled, wheeling on his partner. “We’re here for the gems, so keep your mouth shut.”

Jay was an old man as he stepped closer to the dais where I was frozen. His gray eyes shifted over the make-shift altar, seeking out his treasure. I cared not for his reason of coming. The altar was a farce, designed to lure men such as these. The true prize was the sunlight beaming through the door.

I felt the rumble well inside me again as the young one, Ben, stepped closer to me. He glanced around nervously as the walls began to shake and echo, but then he turned his eyes back to me. I struggled against the frozen feeling in my limbs, wishing to break free of this tomb.

“Eh, look at this, Jay,” Ben said, stepping up cobbled steps to be on eye-level with me. “This is that symbol that Eyran carries.”

Jay shook his head, a frown set into his face. He pulled a tool from his pocket, fighting to dislodge the gems from the altar. “Shut up, Ben,” he snapped. “Let’s get these and get out. This shit gives me the willies.”

Ben frowned, but leapt down from the steps.

Eyran. The name rang like bells in my ears. I fought again to free myself, feeling the rock that encased me shift. Neither of the thieves seemed to notice as my shell began to give way. Cool air began to rush in, filling my lungs, invigorating me. That was all I needed, the scent of the sunlight beyond the door fueling the wild desire to break free. I flexed my iron wings, feeling the rock shatter away as I launched myself from the dais and toward the cobblestone.

The men yelled behind me as I flapped, sending a gust around what used to be a temple. My mind was focused on the sunlight in front of me, and it filled my senses as I crashed heavily through the door. I slammed into the ground, looking up.

The temple had once been surrounded by a mighty stone palace. Now, though, I could see it was tall ruins. It rose up above me, the morning sky peeping down through cracks in the ceiling. The stone looked brittle and weather-worn. As I rose from where I was kneeling, I could hear the men behind me crying for help. When I’d crashed through the door, the temple had begun to crumble, blocking their exit.

Slowly, I turned toward the rubble. I shrugged my shoulders as the wings folded along my back, stepping forward to heave a large rock away. I narrowed my eyes as I saw a face appear.

“Please!” Jay begged. “Don’t leave us here!” His gray eyes were panicked. “Please, I’ll put the gems back!”

I leaned forward, placing a hand on the stone. “I care not for those gems,” I said. My voice sounded strange to my ears. I hadn’t spoken in thousands of years. “Tell me where Eyran is.”

The old man gasped in fright. “What do you want with him?” he asked, fear in his voice.

I laughed, feeling my tongue drift across fangs. “He and I have a score to settle.”

“We’ll take you to him!” Ben suddenly appeared, his green eyes frightened as well. “We know where you can find him.”

I titled my head, considering his offer. I supposed there was nothing to lose. I straightened, reaching for the boulders that were blocking the entrance. It took little effort to remove them and free the two men. Once they were safely in the light, the young one fell to his knees, gasping for a breath.

“Thank you,” he gasped, groveling before me.

I scowled at him, feeling the sharp teeth digging into my lip. “Do not kneel before me,” I said sharply. “I am no god.”

Ben rose slowly, his eyes full of fear still. “What are you?” he asked, his voice shaking.

“One of the Sacred Order,” I said shortly. “Neither man nor beast.” I nodded my chin. “Now take me to Eyran.”

The two men turned, motioning that I should follow them across the hall of the once-great palace. There were stairs that led to the temple, and they were crumbling, white-washed stone. They were smooth in places where the rain had graced them. The men’s footsteps were heavy as they climbed down, sounding like clod-hopping mules. It was mildly irritating, but no matter as I followed them. I watched as they clambered down to the cobbled palace floor, scurrying quickly toward the exit.

As soon as my foot struck the surface of the smooth stones, however, a jolt shot through me. Fizzing magic burned my veins, and I gritted my teeth. All around us stone warriors began to form, causing the men to freeze in their tracks. I paid them no mind as the first warrior moved toward me rapidly, swinging a massive spear.

With ease, I swung my hands, feeling the hilt of silver blades form against my skin. I sliced easily through the stone man, watching him crumble to the ground. Several more followed in his stead, each one easier than the last to destroy as my body remembered the feel of weapons and the dance of blades. Their singing was a music that filled my ears as they cut down enemies, leaving a pile of rubble on the floor of the palace. As the last one fell into dust, the burning in my veins ceased.

It didn’t help to ease the scowl from my face.

“What the fuck were those?” Ben demanded as I sheathed my weapons.

“A precaution,” I said shortly. “I was never intended to leave this place.”

We soon crossed the threshold of the palace. I raised a hand to shield my eyes, blinking against the bright light of the sun. I hadn’t seen it in millennia, and it scorched my eyes. Surprise flooded me as I beheld the world as it was now.

Beyond the desert that kept my tomb hidden, an oasis sprouted. It was vast, melting from spiraling trees into objects that reached for the heavens. They glinted powerfully in the sun, like the finest cast steel. I was momentarily paralyzed as I took in the wild uncertainty of this new world.

“This way,” the old man called, breaking me from my reverie.

I blinked, seeing him and his companion climbing into a metal beast. “What is this sorcery?” I demanded as I walked toward it.

“It’s a van,” Ben said. His eyes shifted over me uncertainly. “Eyran is in the city.”

I narrowed my gaze at him. There was no way I would climb knowingly into another prison such as this. “Where in the city?” I demanded.

He pointed toward the oasis. “At the Spyre.”

I turned my head, focusing my gaze across the landscape. Even from here, a tall monolith jutted into the sky, taller than the rest. Across the top, the word Spyre was scrawled. Without another word, I leapt into the sky, unfolding my massive wings. They cut through the air with ease, propelling me ever closer to my target. There was nowhere for him to hide from me now.

The Story of Gladianima (Part IX)

The 23rd day at sea in the 56th year of the reign of King Brieuc of House Erdos.

“It’s been nearly one month since I snuck aboard Thyra’s boat. As much as I cannot stand her, I realized that I couldn’t let her go on this adventure alone. She was extremely unhappy when she discovered what I had done, but there is nothing she can do to change it now. I’m sure my father is either angry that I’ve gone or impressed that I finally did something unexpected. That’s the thing about my father, I follow the rules and he rarely does. He always said I get that from my mother.

That lead me to my other thought and reason for this journal. This is very unlike me. I felt possessed as I grabbed my things and my sword and stowed away. I couldn’t let Thyra get away. It was some urge, deep in my gut, that grabbed tightly around my heart. I couldn’t be at peace until I knew that I was going to wherever it is she thinks she must go.

I understand what she means when she speaks of feeling compelled. If this thing that we’re chasing is so powerful it can compel anyone to do anything, should we even be searching for it?

Thyra has brought Doran’s journal. I knew she had taken it from the library several days before her departure, but I never said anything. I think if we will be successful, it will only be because of Doran’s words. I haven’t asked what else she has seen, and truthfully, I’m terrified to know. I don’t sleep well at night. It’s not because of the noise of the waves or the rocking and creaking of the boat either.

My body is so exhausted, but my mind is so tumultuous that I cannot calm myself. My heart is constantly racing at the thought of what is waiting for us. It feels like some darkness on the edge of the horizon, and it haunts my dreams when I do manage to fall asleep. In my dreams all I see are pain and teeth and death. I hope this is not what we sail toward.

Thyra barely looks at me, let alone speaks to me. I can tell it is a combination of irritation at my presence and absentmindedness because of her knowledge. Something she has seen in that journal keeps her trapped in her own mind. Or maybe it’s the call of this thing that we’re chasing, constantly whispering to her like it did Doran. I wish I knew more. I will record our adventures here. It helps me to remember where we’ve been and how long we’ve been gone, but more importantly it keeps me sane. I plan to speak to Thyra tonight at dinner. I hope we can try to come to some sort of amity.”

The Story of Gladianima (Part VIII)

“The twelfth day of winter, the 236th year Post-Priorae. I saw it today. The voice drew me out into the middle of the cold night. I was barefoot, awakened from my sleep, coerced into the darkness with no heed for my safety. I couldn’t resist the soft voice, following it as it drew me into the trees. I didn’t regain control of my body until I realized I was standing in a field, shivering.”

Thyra glanced up at Kegan, seeing him watching her carefully, his brow furrowed. She drew a slow breath before continuing.

“That’s when it appeared. It looked like a ghost, moving in through the trees. It had a long body, thin legs, and a long nose. Its tail was like that of cat, with a tuft of hair from the end. It came closer, passing through the branches without touching them. I could see the blue of its eyes as it came within arm’s reach. When it spoke, or thought, its voice was loud and clear, no longer the soft whisper.”

Thyra could feel her stomach turning in knots as she turned the page.

“I’m glad you have finally come to me, it said, stepping closer. I could feel the heat of its body and I knew I should have felt fear. But instead, my mind was warm, as if comforted by the creature’s presence. I asked, through my thoughts, why it had been calling me. That’s when it brought its face to mine, its breath hot on my skin. You are special, Doran, it said. I will give you the power to do great things.

I was confused as I stared at it. Why would I have a need to do great things? That’s when the beast lowered its head, pressing an ivory horn against my forehead. A sudden onslaught of images filled my mind, starting with a tall figure standing in a hall. I knew, without knowing, that the figure was one of the Priorae. He was a big man, bigger than even the Inerse standing around him, wielding a broad sword. And there was something about the sword, something I knew again without knowing.

It is an anima, the beast told me, answering my unasked question. It will be my gift to you, and through me, you will lead your people to a greatness never before imagined.”

Thyra felt breathless as she looked up to Kegan. “Is that the weapon?” she whispered. “The anima?”

Kegan shook his head, looking as confused as she felt. “I don’t know,” he said.

They both jumped when a knock sounded on the library door, a servant appearing. “Dinner is ready,” the man said, bowing at the waist.

Kegan nodded, dismissing the man. He turned to look back to Thyra. “Meet me here after the last candle,” he said quietly. “We need to know more about this anima.”

The Story of Gladianima ( Part VII)

The tenth day of winter, the 236th year Post-Priorae.

“There’s someone else here with me. I can’t see him-her-it?-But I can hear the voice. It’s like the whisper of wind across the surface of our pond. I think I should be afraid. I shouldn’t be so lax about this. The voice tells me not to be afraid. It says it has plans; I don’t know if I should trust it. It comes to me mostly when I sleep, when my mind is at it’s most vulnerable.

I have taken ill the last several days. I cannot bring myself to leave my room, and my body won’t take food. I keep the curtains pulled. The darkness helps me to know what is my own thoughts and what is this…thing that has invaded me. But something is coming. Some burning warmth stirring in my chest, and I fear that it will continue to grow until I can’t take it anymore.”

Thyra glanced up from Doran’s journal. She could feel her chest tightening. She knew what he was talking about. The burning in her chest. It hadn’t been much more than a stirring, thoughts swirling in her mind, but with each passing day it seemed to grow. She’d thought that it was just nerves as she was anxious to cross the sea, but now, after reading his words, she wasn’t so sure. Could there really be a prophecy?

She looked back down at the journal, slamming it closed. Fear suddenly gripped her. If she was to succumb to Doran’s madness, she didn’t want to know. She rose quickly to her feet, leaving the cursed book where she found it. She needed some fresh air, and she was nearly running as she started down the winding stairs.

“Lady Thyra?”

Thyra heard Kegan’s voice, but she didn’t stop. The need to escape was too heavy in her mind. She realized she was gasping softly for a breath.

“Thyra, stop!”

Thyra couldn’t hear the plea in Kegan’s voice as she ran to the terrace doors, throwing them open. She drew long, ragged breaths as she stood on the terrace, trying to draw in as much of the cool air as she could. She heard Kegan’s steps behind her as he approached.

“What has gotten into you?” he demanded.

Thyra shook her head. “I can’t,” she whispered softly. She straightened her shoulders, looking out over the gardens. In the distance, the sky was being painted with evening colors. “I can’t read that journal.”

“Why?” Kegan asked. He stepped toward her. His voice softened. “What has you so frightened?”

Thyra grimaced, hugging her middle. “I see too much of myself,” she whispered.

Kegan reached out a hand to lay it on her shoulder. “Then you must continue,” he said earnestly. “You cannot know your own fate unless you know Doran’s.”

Thyra rounded on him. “What if I don’t want to know Doran’s fate?” she demanded. ” What if I want to make my own?”

Kegan frowned, stepping back from her. “If you follow your intuition, then you’re not making your own fate,” he said shortly. “If whatever this voice is continues to call and you listen, you’re walking the path you say you don’t want to.” He turned, pointing to the doors. “You have to finish.”

Thyra’s brow furrowed. She was silent for a long time, worry in her lavender eyes.

“You cannot know until you finish the journal,” Kegan urged gently. “You’re the only one who can understand Doran’s madness.”

Thyra felt her body tense, wondering if he thought she was touched by madness as well. She bit her tongue, though, keeping her thoughts to herself. After a moment, she nodded, relenting. “Fine.”

Kegan seemed pleased. He allowed her ahead of him, escorting her back to the library. Once inside, he shut the door, trailing behind her to the desk. He could see the apprehension on her face as she ran her fingers over the cover once more.

“Would you read it to me?” he asked suddenly.

Thyra looked up at him, arching a brow. “Were you not taught how to read?” she asked sardonically.

Kegan scowled at her. “I can read just fine,” he said shortly. “But maybe it will allay your fears if you read it aloud.”

Thyra paused, considering, before nodding. “Alright.”