The Scrolls of Icaria by Jamie

Part I - Awakenings

Chapter 4


Walking down the corridor, we made a sudden turn, and moved from the dark shadows of the hallway into the light. Walking briskly with the guards, I discovered we were quickly approaching the rotunda. Emerging from the hall into the open space, I could see that we were on the uppermost floor. Making our way around the circular balcony, I peered down to the floors below. Spying the door I’d first entered the building through, I looked for the man and boys who’d brought me, but they were gone.


A quarter of the way around the balcony stood a pair of double doors. Approaching them, the commander opened it and passed through. Crossing the threshold, I found myself in a small room with a set of doors even larger then the first pair. We continued through them, and finally emerged into a large chamber with a high vaulted ceiling, massive columns, and tall floor to ceiling windows that opened onto a large stone balcony overlooking the square I’d come through earlier in the day.


Coming to a halt my armed escort stepped aside, leaving me standing by myself in the middle of the chamber. I stood in silence taking in my surroundings. The room was quite large; the vaulted ceiling was inlaid with thousands of small colored tiles, creating intricate mosaic patterns. The pillars in the room were of a greenish marble with symbols carved into them. Looking further to the windows and beyond, I noticed that the rain clouds were gone and sunlight illuminated the square.  But although it was sunny, I could see that the bright glow of the sun did nothing to improve the city’s appearance – if anything, it revealed the true depths of its grimy squalor.


Standing in front of the tall windows and looking out onto the square was a large imposing man. He appeared well over six feet, and although his back was to me, it was obvious that he was in charge. The room we were in and its furnishings, along with the attitude of the guards, and the deference of the servants who were attending him pointed to his obvious position of authority.


It was then I cringed, for in my awe and curiosity, I’d failed to notice to the man’s right, standing in a corner of the room was the black robed old man; his sunken eyes were glowing and he was pulling at his hands in an agitated manner. I fixed my eyes on him, then remembering the feelings I’d experienced at our earlier encounter, I quickly looked away casting my eyes once more on the figure gazing out the window. After over a minute of silence the man turned around.


We were about fifteen feet apart. There was a heavy oaken table between us. On it were documents, maps, the small marble bust of a man and a dagger – its jewel encrusted handle sticking out of an ornate sheath. He stood and stared at me. I in turn stared back. Now that he was facing me, I could see that he was probably fifty years old. He had long black hair flecked with gray, and a goatee that had more gray hairs than black.


He wore a dark blue silk shirt and leather pants. He also had a heavy jacket with gold braid around the sleeves, shoulders and collar in addition to a short cloak that was hooked with a gold clasp. Around his neck was a heavy gold chain studded with rubies and emeralds in intricate settings, looping down to a prominent gold seal that lay across his chest. It was pinned to his cloak and jacket, and appeared to be a symbol of his office.


While he was large in size, it was not because he was obese. He was in fact quite muscular. His arms and legs looked strong and powerful. His hands were huge. Each had a number of rings on them; his right hand was resting on the hilt of the large sword secured to his hip. His left hand rose and stroked his goatee. He had a large barrel chest and stood very tall and straight (almost unnaturally so), presenting quite a regal appearance.


His face was older looking and had lines of age, but he certainly didn’t project the appearance of an old man – quite the contrary, he looked more like an older man with the strength and will of someone much younger. On his right cheek was a long deep scar from an old wound that had probably been painful when received, but took nothing away from his appearance; in fact, it made him look even more imposing. He appeared to be an old warrior weary from years of battle, but still faithful and patiently standing post waiting for the next order from his commander. Our eyes locked and he spoke.


“Can you tell me where you came from, and how you got here?”


I observed that his tone was even and deliberate and his volume low. He seemed to be a man who thought carefully before opening his mouth – not just spouting whatever mindless prattle came to his lips. He also gave me the impression that he was the kind of man who did not suffer fools, seek idle flattery, show an interest in gossip, or tolerate liars.


“Sir, I don’t know where I come from.”


“See? I told you. The impudent little devil…” It was the robed old man. He was speaking – actually shouting – in his shrill high-pitched voice. But he was quickly cut off.


“Abbot Gude, I am conducting this interview.”


The man, while never taking his eyes off of me, held up his left hand in a silencing gesture.


“But my lord, you know that this evil creature will tell many tales to deceive you,” the old man shouted.


“Abbot, I am not easily fooled by tales, and I again ask you to be silent. Unless you are presuming to tell me how to do my job.”


This time the man’s tone was louder, but also crisp and short, like an officer barking an order to a subordinate, and I could tell that he was not a man to be toyed with.


“No general. I was just trying…”


“Then be silent.”


The man I now knew as Abbot Gude took a step back, but I noticed that just as in his earlier encounter with me, his frown got deeper. He said nothing more and silently stood in his corner, his sunken eyes boring into me. I was also somewhat pleased with myself for correctly guessing that this was a military man who was questioning me. The abbot had addressed him as general and by everything in his bearing he certainly cut a strong military figure.


“Do you refuse to tell me where you came from?”


“No sir.” I knew that taking a respectful tact with the general was going to be more productive than playing an arrogant boy. “I was unconscious, but as to how and why I don’t know. I regained consciousness in a dark alley somewhere in this town. When I came to my senses I had no idea where I was. I don’t even remember who I am, where I’m from or how I came to be here. A man and some boys found me after I awoke and brought me here. I’ve been attended to, given a bath and new clothes and now stand before you as ignorant of my situation as when I first awakened in that alley. That is the truth sir.”


“And what about this?”


He slid open a drawer in the table before him and withdrew the amulet I had been wearing – the one that the fat women had taken when I was in the bath.


“Sir, when I awoke it was around my neck. I’ve looked at it, but I can’t tell you anything about it. It was with me in my journey here, but taken from me when I was being bathed.”


“You see how he lies, my lord. Then what of the evil spell you cast on Mathilde, she said you tried to kill her?”


“Whether the Holy Office gives you permission to be here or not, I will have you removed from this room if you continue to interrupt the interrogation.”


The general glared at the Abbot, his voice ringing off the stonewalls of the chamber in the tone of a man used to commanding armies. The abbot stared back at him, but said nothing. Turning to me the general stepped from behind the desk and advanced toward me. When he was directly in front of me he stopped and looked down into my eyes. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. My mouth began to grow dry. I could sense that this man had the power to hurt or help me.


“I admit that the Abbot brings up a good point, what of Mathilde? What did you do to her? She claims you cast a spell on her.”


I stood looking blankly into his eyes, thoughts darting through my brain. Mathilde, who was that? I had no idea. What did I do to…? Suddenly a light went on in my head. Mathilde must have been the name of the fat servant woman who grabbed the amulet that the general now held in his hand.


“Sir, the women brutally slapped one of the boys, Luc is his name, and hurt him. I just tried to defend him. For some reason she had some kind of a fit. I remember being quite angry with her, but I didn’t purposely hurt her and if I did, I have no idea how I could have done it. It was certainly not some kind of spell since I know nothing of these things, I’m just a boy”


“A boy? Then what about those?”


He was looking directly over my head at my wings. He frowned slightly, but it was not a look of hatred or evil like the Abbot and others had shown me. He was a military man attempting to get to the bottom of a situation and assess its ramifications. He was trying to determine the truth, to see if I posed a treat to the defense and what danger or harm I would or could cause.


“Sir, again I assure you that I’m not lying when I tell you I know nothing of myself. When I came to my senses I was in so much pain that I was not even aware of them. In the excitement of being dragged here, I didn’t even feel them. It was only when I was being bathed and caught my reflection in a nearby mirror that I realized how different I was. I don’t know why I have them. I can’t even move them or use them for any purpose as far as I know.”


The general turned his back on me and walked away. He strode around the table and back to the window looking down onto the square. I noticed him turning over my amulet in his palm as he stared at it. Then once more he looked up and gazed out the window. For what seemed like a very long time, no one said a word. My heart was making a strange pounding sound in my head, fluttering so furiously that I was sure every beat was audible to those assembled in the room. Finally the general turned and looked at me. He put the amulet in his pocket, and then turned to the Abbot.


“We’re not in a position to adequately deal with this situation. I’m going to send a messenger to Konassas. It’s the closest capital city and we can confer with the High Council of Kalas. We’ll probably end up taking him to stand before them since I suspect that they’ll want to see him with their own eyes.”


“But your lordship, allow me to take it back to the abbey and I’m sure I will be able to provide you with answers. It will speak the truth after our questioning.”


“That’s exactly what I want to avoid,” the general said, his voice taking on an imperial tone. “He will remain here in Tardon within these provisional offices until we receive word from the High Council. If they want him brought to Konassas, we will comply. There have been tales of things like this for years – I remember them as a boy. Well, now we have something concrete and I don’t intend to hand him over to you and your perverted monks. He may be a solution to some of our problems, or he may be the problem itself – but it’s not my decision.”


“Your lordship, think of what we can learn,” the Abbot said, “It could be a powerful tool for us.”


“Yes, powerful to advance your twisted fanatical cause. Well Abbot Gude, I will not assist the cause of the Holy Office any more than I have to.”


“I’m sure your lordship does not wish to insinuate anything against the Holy Office. Heresy is a serious offense.”


“Abbot Gude, leave my presence now. Go back to your superiors at the Holy Office and level your accusations of heresy. I could give a rat’s turd about that they think. I serve my king and kingdom. Now leave before I have you locked up in my dungeon.” Turning to one of his soldiers, he said “Sergeant, please see the abbot to the door. I’m sure he has more pressing matters to attend to then threatening young boys. Return after you see him on his way, if you please.” The soldier bowed and turned to the abbot, gesturing for him to move through the door.


Abbot Gude returned a menacing look to the general and he appeared ready to reply, but then seemed to have second thoughts. Remaining silent, he turned and slithered from the room.


“Damned Holy Office, they should all be burned at their own stakes.” The general muttered under his breath. Looking to another young officer in the room, he added in a louder voice “Find our young guest a chair – I think something with a low back or a stool would be best. This may take awhile.” The soldier bowed, and disappeared through the door, only to return a moment later with a low-backed and richly embroidered chair from the other room. He set it down for me and I sank into it with a grateful glance at him.


Lord Zakaria nodded, then speaking to no one in particular he said. “Prepare a draft for the High Council of Kalas.”


As I waited, a flurry of activity commenced. A man who appeared to be an aide or minister to the general came in, followed by a scribe.  Quiet words were exchanged and the scribe wrote. Occasionally there would be a private discussion among some of the ministers, aids and the general as to the exact wording of the document, and more then once the scribe had to halt his work, drew a fresh sheet of parchment, re-dip his quill and start anew. At one point the general’s voice broke the hushed discussions with a curse indicating his frustration. After that everyone quickly become silent, and the general finished his dictation. When they were done, the scribe sprinkled sand over the document then tipped the parchment and knocked it off. The general’s aide took the paper and passed it to another official. The official then took it, approached me, and began reading.


As Military Governor of the Province Mar

in the Kingdom of Kalas,

I Marcus Andris Zakaria direct this prisoner

to be under the military protection of the High Council

of Kalas and to remain under guard in the provincial

offices of Tardon until otherwise ordered.


I further command that a complete report of these events

be relayed immediately to the High Council of Kalas and

Lord Ottavia, High Council Viceroy by my personal

military attaché.


The prisoner is to be treated humanely and kept safe.

Under no circumstance is the prisoner to be questioned by

anyone including members of the Holy Office without the

prior approval of the Military Governor.


Signed and sealed in the city of Tardon, the province of Mar.

On this the 3rd day of the Month of Ram, 2562 years after

the fall of the City of Light.


Marcus Andris Zakaria,


Eighteenth Duke of Lionsgate, Lord Protector of the

Seal of Kalas, and Lord High Commander of the

First Army of Xannameir.


After reading the paper, the minister returned it to General Zakaria who signed it. The minister then poured a blob of melted wax at the bottom of the parchment and the general pressed a large and heavy seal into it. Although I was slightly afraid of what this meant, I was still relieved. General Zakaria was not going to turn me over to Abbot Gude and whatever the Holy Office was.


Like a true military man with superiors above him, the general was going to follow the command structure. He was not necessarily going to handle the problem, but pass it up the ladder until someone who could deal with it would be found. It also occurred to me that General Zakaria, from his titles, was a fairly important figure.