"Oh, my mother's child
Oh, my dear brother
I miss you
Oh, my mother's child
Oh, my dear sister
I cry for you
My dear friend
My mother's child
I miss you
* * * * *
From every direction there was nothing but the sheer forces of nature coming together. Thunder rumbled in the distance as thick black clouds rolled over the horizon. White lightning split the sky like cracks in a pane of glass. The air was so thick with humidity that it was impossible to tell where the air ended and the clouds began. The wind blew up small whirlwinds of the thin layer of dirt that covered the ground. Then the first raindrop fell, followed by another, and another. The dry, parched earth was soaked in seconds.
The rain poured down, drenching the small boy's patched tunic. Water dripped from his blond hair, running into his eyes. Everything was suddenly covered with a cool mist of rain.
Deep in the child's heart, he could sense something was amiss. For he could hear the spirits of nature crying out all around him, singing, calling for help. . .but he couldn't help. Not right now. At this very moment he was supposed to be at home, by the warm fire, with his mother and sisters. And maybe his father would play a song on his flute for them. Their lives would go on, untouched by the storm that aimed to destroy. . .
As the boy watched, he realized that those were not storm clouds he was seeing. It was a huge, dark shadow that radiated evil. And it was coming straight toward the boy. It was an evil presence that was preparing to give chase, to swoop down upon any living thing and extinguish its flame of life forever. It had been searching for him for so long to take its revenge.
The child was chilled to the bone. Not by the soaking rain, but by the terror that was beginning to overtake him. The boy turned and fled toward the safety of the village as fast as his tiny legs would allow.
"It lives in you," the spirits of the earth chanted. "It lives in me. . ." Suddenly they stopped abruptly, leaving an uneasy silence behind.
The boy stopped in his tracks. The silence was disturbed by a cry of horror. There, ahead of him, lay the remains of his once-bustling village. The raindrops mingled with the crimson blood that was everywhere. . .on everything. The environ once filled with the music of life had been burned to the ground hours ago, only now cooled by the misty rain.
Suddenly there was no sound. There was no movement. There was only the boy and the eternal silence. . .that horrible sound of nothing. The sound of death.
The spirits started up again. This time, they were singing a song in the slow, beautiful ancient Catalian language. Such words had never fallen on the boy's ears.
And the spirit of life
And a voice
With the fear of a child
Throne of the ancestors
Son of the nation
Hear the words and have faith
Have faith. . ."
The boy had no time to turn around, for it was too late. The dark presence that destroyed his home came down upon him, sucking the last of his breath away, pleased that it had finally found what it had been searching to vanquish. It had won.
* * * * *
Link shot upright, struggling against the dark entity, doing his best to get away. In his attempt to escape he got tangled up in the blankets and finally fell off the bed, bumping his head on the wooden table with a loud thump.
He cursed and rubbed his temple gingerly, then kicked the fallen blanket away and jumped up, ready to kill or be killed. He glanced about the room, but no one was there. There was nothing except for the sound of his own ragged breathing. Feeling foolish, Link flung himself on the bed and stared at the stone ceiling as he always did when he needed to think.
At the moment, Link was staying at a small inn in Saria. Hordes of tektites from the nearby river had recently been attacking the town, and the knights asked Link to help out. Tektites were very dangerous on water, and the men needed all the help they could get. Link tried to focus his thoughts on the events of the day, but that dream kept resurfacing in his mind.
That had been the most unnerving dream he had ever had, but Link refused to call it a nightmare. His own unconscious had never been able to frighten him, even after the horrors he had witnessed as a child. Frequently those repressed memories came back to haunt him, but it was never like this. Never before had he been able to hear those strange, singing voices. And Link couldn't help but wonder if their songs meant something very important. What had they said? He tried to remember but the details of the dream were already fading away. The spirits told him to listen--and then they said something about the throne of the ancestors and the son of the nation. . . and then that--that thing--had come down on him. . .
Link squeezed his eyes shut and silently willed himself to forget about it. There's nothing there, you coward, he told himself. You're going back to the castle. Nothing is going to happen.
But he knew he wouldn't be able to forget.
* * * * *
While Rowan was gone, Ariana decided to make up for her candle mistake by organizing and sorting the box of books that had been placed in the corner. There was no doubt that Rowan had put it there for safekeeping. The old Fire-Mage was known for his forgetfulness at times.
Unfortunately, most of the books had been recently discovered in the catacombs and were too faded to read. To keep them from disintegrating, some long-dead Archivist had cast a preserving spell on them that had weakened some time ago. In this way the Mages could separate books according to the color of aura of the spell. All the yellow books were stored on the ground floor of the library, as these were the books of Light. The red books were next, as these were the books of Fire. The green books were the books of Earth, and so on. Each element had its own corresponding color. Ariana quickly set to work dividing the books up into piles on the floor around her.
After awhile, Ariana had finished the dull chore. Sitting back on her heels, she counted the piles. There were six books with red auras, nineteen orange, seventeen yellow, eleven green, and eight blue, twenty-four purple, and one black. Being far too sleepy to move them herself, Ariana decided to practice her apport spell. An apport spell was used to move things short distances. All the young Mage had to do was think of where she wanted the books to go, wave her hand and say the right word, and the books would magically be transported to the place Ariana wanted them to be.
After transporting the books, Ariana was tired from practicing all that magic. By now the candles on the bookshelves had burned low and she hadn't realized it was so dark in the room.
As Ariana pulled herself up, the lone book with the black aura caught her eye. She frowned in annoyance. She must have not seen it because the color had blended in with the carpet. Turning it over in her hands, she realized she had not seen a book with a black aura before. Ariana picked the book up and brought it to the table. Concentrating hard, she formed a ball of white light in one hand and held it in the air. It flew up a couple feet where it stayed suspended in the air, lighting the room.
Examining it, Ariana saw that it looked finely made--finer than any other others that had been in the box. Words in an elegant script were embossed on the book's dark cover. Holding it closer, Ariana was able to see the title through the dark aura of the preserving spell. She read:
The Book of Adorum
The Mage sucked in her breath sharply. What is this? Ariana wondered. With a sinking heart she realized that was why the book had a black aura--it was one of the Dark books that Rowan had once told her about. He had never actually let her see one, however. . .
A wave of curiosity hit her. What could possibly be in there? Ariana hesitated, but opened the book to the first page. To her disappointment, the book was completely blank. Sighing, she realized even if there was writing in it she probably wouldn't be able to read it. Ariana knew that all Magefolk possessed the power to speak any language, but only if it was spoken directly to them. There was no way she could read an unfamiliar tongue.
"What are you looking at?"
Ariana was so startled that she dropped the book as if it were a snake. She spun around, and stared into the eyes of the Water-Mage, Avery. He had black hair that always hung in his green eyes, and Rowan always said he carried a strong resemblance to the Archmage. In fact, Avery was Dragan's nephew and only living relative. It was obvious that the Archmage favored Avery over everyone, even Aspen.
Right now he had a smug look on his handsome face; obviously because he knew he caught her in the act of doing something she shouldn't have been doing in the first place.
"Gods, you gave me a fright!" Ariana spluttered, giving him her fiercest glare. "Just what do you think you're doing, sneaking up on me like that?"
Avery glared back at her. "Well, what were you doing reading a Dark book?" His eyes narrowed suspiciously. "I wonder what Rowan will do when he finds out about this?"
"He won't if you don't go telling him things that aren't true! And I wasn't doing anything wrong," Ariana snapped. "I was sorting a whole box of books and I was about to put it away."
The young Water-Mage looked amused. "Hmm. That's very interesting, Ariana, because I was under the impression that no one except the Archmage and Rowan is allowed near those Dark books. They're full of information on arcane magic--"
"Which is technically right up my alley." A devious smile crossed Ariana's face. "Considering I'm first in line to be the next Fire-Mage, I'm sure they would make an exception."
Avery glared at her. "Tarnal told me all about that. I can't believe Rowan wants you to be his successor! You, in charge of destructive magic! You're dangerous, Ariana, and everyone knows it. You can't even control your powers."
The young Fire-Mage scowled. "You sure are full of it! Tarnal wouldn't ever tell you a thing like that if he knew you were going to use it against me. You know what a pacifist he is." Ariana turned her back on him and reached for the Book of Adorum.
Ariana and Avery had never gotten along. Even though they were roughly close in age, their parents had bequeathed them an age-old rivalry that hadn't weakened for generations. Ariana suspected it was because her family's element of fire was the direct opposite of water, naturally causing friction between them. The Magefolk were known for their occasional arguments, but this feud surpassed them all.
Avery was getting annoyed now. "I have every reason to believe his words are true. The other day we were talking about that whole tapestry. . .incident. As I recall, that tapestry had been woven by the Archmage's ancestors." He smirked. "I was called in from my experiments to put that fire out."
Ariana colored visibly. "That was a total accident! And how ironic that you should say that. Admit it, Avery, you can't do a thing without Dragan's help. And don't make me start up about how you flooded that village a couple of years ago. Bracken said the lands were ruined for years--"
"At least I don't keep company with that Mortal scum," Avery said nastily.
It was all Ariana could do to keep from rearranging his face with a fireball. "Don't. . . ever. . . call. . . them. . .that," she said through clenched teeth.
Avery's green eyes were ice cold. "I'll call them what I please," he said disdainfully. "Everyone knows they're filthy, useless creatures. They're below us. You're giving the Magefolk a bad name by associating with them."
Before she could stop herself, Ariana ignited a fireball in her hand and tossed it up and down menacingly. "Watch it, Avery," she warned.
But the Water-Mage just smiled contemptuously. "Temper, temper," he taunted. "That's the problem with you Fire-Mages. Your arrogant emotions always get in the way."
"One more comment like that and even Lady Evelyn won't be able to Heal you," Ariana threatened. The blazed fireball in her hand turned crimson with anger.
Avery ignored her. "You're just like your parents, you know. My father always said that Carmine was trouble, and then he goes and gets himself killed, destroying a bunch of our lands in the process. You're lucky--"
There was a dangerous look in Ariana's eyes. "How dare you talk about my father that way!" she said coldly.
Without thinking she hurled the crimson fireball at him as hard as she could. Luckily Avery ducked out of the way and the fireball bounced dangerously close to a nearby stack of books. Ariana quickly chanted the dousing spell and it disappeared instantly. As Ariana stood in shock at what she had almost done, Avery took his chance and grabbed the Book of Adorum out of her hands.
He held it up victoriously. "Attempt something like that again and this book is the first to go," he hissed.
"Just try it!" Ariana challenged, magically lighting up another red fireball. "All the books in here are protected by preserving spells! And what good is that old book anyway?"
Rowan chose that exact moment to burst into the room, muttering to himself as he flung the door angrily aside. Surprised, Ariana and Avery froze in place, waiting for him to take in the scene.
"Sorry to keep you waiting so long--" Rowan began. The Fire-Mage stopped when he spotted them. He looked at Avery and the book, then to Ariana, and back to the book again.
Remembering the fireball, Ariana quickly hid it behind her back.
Rowan's eyes narrowed. "You weren't reading that, were you?" he questioned.
Ariana cursed inwardly, realizing how much trouble she was going to be in. "No! Of course not," she said truthfully. Snuffing out the fireball behind her back, Ariana pointed to the empty box. "I was sorting books for you and I found it. I was about to put it away--"
Rowan sighed with relief. "Good."
Avery glared at him. "She's lying, I saw her reading it!"
"You did not!" Ariana snapped. "You're the liar, you--!"
"If you didn't have such a bad temper like your father--"
"Don't even think about blaming this whole thing on me--"
"STOP THAT INFERNAL QUARRELING THIS INSTANT!" Rowan roared.
Ariana and Avery stopped shouting long enough to stare at the Fire-Mage in wonder. Neither of them had known that he could yell so loud.
Looking somewhat abashed, the old Mage sighed. "I wish you children wouldn't fight so much. Look what happened to your parents. I'm sure they couldn't even remember what they were feuding about in the first place. They were fighting until the end, and it was their stubborn pride that killed them. If only they hadn't--" Rowan paused as the two Mages looked at him expectantly. "Never mind," he continued. "Anyway, now I think it's time you returned to your chambers, Avery."
"But I have to--" he protested.
"Now, if you please. I need to have a word with Ariana."
Avery reluctantly turned to go. Practically throwing the book at Ariana, he glared at her before closing the door behind him. The moment the door clicked shut, Ariana thought she heard his voice in her ears.
"Mark my words, Lady, this isn't over yet. . .by far."
"That bastard!" she yelled, slamming the book on the table. "He just loves getting me in trouble! He thinks he's so great, getting the position of Water-Mage and all. I swear, if I were Archmage, he and that obnoxious Tarnal would both be out of here in a second--"
"Come now, Ariana," Rowan soothed, gesturing for her to sit down. "Surely you don't mean that." He snapped his fingers and a goblet of something that looked like ginger ale appeared in front of her. "After all, you have enough enemies already. . ." he began.
Sitting down, Ariana glanced at the goblet suspiciously. "Um, Rowan, if this stuff turns out to be river water. . ."
"Nonsense," Rowan chided. "It's only ginger ale. Well, at least it's supposed to be. I'll need to check my notes. . Hmm. . Confound it, where did I put my spectacles?"
As Rowan rummaged around in the pockets of his robes, Ariana found her gaze being drawn to the Book of Adorum again. It lay quietly on a corner of the table, its dark aura glowing. Why is it blank? she wondered. Surely someone wouldn't have erased it? What's so horrible about the arcane magic?
Rowan finally located his glasses, which had been perched on top of his head the whole time. "Oh, bother!" he exclaimed, positioning them on his nose. "Now, what was I talking about. . ?"
As his eyes focused, he saw Ariana staring at the Dark book, a glazed look in her eyes. "Ariana! For heaven's sake, get your head out of the clouds," he reprimanded sharply. "I forbid to you to even think about that book. The Gods only know what could be in there!"
"I wasn't--" she protested, coming back to earth.
Rowan sighed for the fifteenth time that day. "Someday, Ariana, you will understand why there are some books within these walls that should not be read by anyone. There is much information on the Dark arts in here. Even touching that book can corrupt your mind."
"I know," Ariana answered. "But it's blank. I just read the title, that's all."
Looking relieved, the Fire-Mage picked the book up carefully, as if it would bite him any second. He quickly studied it. "The Book of Adorum," he mumbled thoughtfully.
Ariana could practically see the wheels turning in his head. "I was wondering--why is it blank?" she quickly asked.
Rowan glanced up at her suspiciously. "How did you know it was blank?"
The young Mage did her best to look innocent. "Avery told me," she said, not missing a beat.
Luckily, Rowan was not one to miss out on a good history lesson. "If I explain this, will you go to bed?" he inquired.
Ariana nodded vigorously. "Of course."
"Do you swear by the Fires of Din that you will stay away from Avery?"
"If he stays away from me," Ariana muttered, balling up her fists in anger.
"Good enough," Rowan said kindly. He cleared his throat. "First of all, I believe this Dark book is connected to the Book of Mudora, which was written by somebody in Hyrule a long time ago. I believe that this--" He gave the old manuscript a disgusted look. "--is actually about a creature called--well, I don't like to say it. The other Magefolk seem to think it is bad luck to even say its name, or the name of its creator, for that matter. Anyway, the creator was a psychotic Mage who was intrigued by shadow-magic. He was named--" Rowan shuddered. "Idris Adorum, but he was better known by his first name, as all Mages are. He invented a crystal that absorbed the power of evil. He acquired so much evil power that he ended up creating a horrible shadow monster that literally could suck the life-force out of anything it touched."
Ariana's eyes were wide. "Wow. Is that how it got so powerful? By feeding off the souls of the living?"
Rowan winced. "In answer to your question, I suppose so. But you needn't make it sound so dramatic. Anyway, Idris let this monster run amok all over Hyrule and Catalia, causing mass destruction. Finally a sorcerer called Sirius Mudora defeated him by trapping half of the monster in the Temple of Din."
"The Temple of Din? The same temple that is supposed to be hidden in the Black Forest?" Ariana questioned. "I thought that was just a legend."
Rowan smiled. "Why do you think it's called the Black Forest? Sirius failed to catch Idris, however." He lowered his voice to a spooky whisper. "Some say he's still in the forest, searching for the temple."
Ariana just stared back, looking bored. "What about the other half of the monster?"
"Legend has it that it is sealed in the Shadow Temple in Hyrule."
"Has anyone ever tried to find it?" Ariana asked.
Rowan looked insulted. "Of course. And no one ever has."
Ariana had a mischievous look on her face. "Wouldn't you need the crystal to find it, though?"
"I. . .I never thought of it that way. I suppose you would. . ." Rowan looked nervous. "Well, some believe that the writing of this book has disappeared by magic, and only a direct descendant of Idris can see it. As for the book of Mudora. . .well, it was lost some years ago. No one knows what was written in either of the books. Well, that's the end. You'd better go to sleep now."
"Well, I wouldn't be surprised if Avery and Dragan are related to some psychotic Mage," Ariana answered jokingly, getting out of her chair. "I'm off to bed, Rowan. Goodnight."
"Goodnight, Ariana. Don't go telling anyone about this, now."
"I won't," she called over her shoulder.
Ariana left the library and shuffled slowly down the hall, her hands in her pockets of her long skirts. How would she be able to sleep now, knowing that any one of the Magefolk could be the evil descendant of Sirius Adorum? What evils could the Book of Adorum possibly hold?
Her ears suddenly picked up the sound of footsteps right behind her. The young Fire-Mage spun around in time to see a dark figure turn the corner. She quickly followed it, preparing to light a fireball. But when she reached the corner, there was no one there.
End of Chapter Three.
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