Unknown - Chapter 30
Alen frowned. “There have been many seal bearers before?” he asked, leaning forward, closer to the old man. The old man replied with a chuckle and a small laugh, amused by the naiveté of the young seal bearer sitting in front of him. “Yes, young seal bearer, there have been hundreds of you before, but only you have managed to come this far” said the old man. He held his frail hands to Alen’s face and placed them on his temple. “It has been a thousand years since the first Unknown rose into the world” images of people working with magic in harmony passed through Alen’s mind. He looked around, frantic but the old man held his temple tight. “Every century, a new seal bearer lives and die, some before they could get the first step, some managed to sail before dying but never had any of them stepped onto this island, none except you” said the old man.
“What do you mean?” asked Alen.
“It means you’ll probably die after this” said the old man.
He chuckled and Alen frowned.
“Have no one managed to defeat this army of Unknowns?” asked the young man.
The old man gave a weary smile. “No, and I don’t know if anyone ever will” he said in dismay.
“How did the Source sealed?”
“It was a young Elder, a role that had never appeared again anymore” said the old man. His fingertips on Alen’s temple warmed and glowed.
Flashes of images rushed past the young man’s eyes. Several people, all wearing the same silver gauntlet, some died immediately after wearing them, others as they went on with their lives, some went on adventures only to have themselves killed by creatures or accidents.
“As you had seen, young seal bearer, not everyone shared your luck” said the old man. He released Alen’s temple and placed his frail hands back onto his lap.
Alen rubbed his temple and looked at the old man.
“The question from this point onward will be, are you willing to continue your journey?” asked the old man. His breathing became heavy.
Alen shook his head. “I don’t know. I didn’t want this thing and this adventure yet…” he could not finish his sentence.
“Are you afraid of dying?” said the old man.
Alen nods and gulped. “So, am I really going to die?” he asked.
The old man shook his head slowly. “I don’t know” he answered. “Life and death is fate’s job, not mine nor anyone else. You may or may not succeed, but either way, your former life is no longer yours” he continued. “So the question remaining is, will you continue or will you stop here and try to return back to whatever life you have before and risk losing your friend, Enil?” questioned the old man.
Alen ruffled his hair. “I don’t know!”
The old man held his hand out. “Here, place the gauntlet on my hand” he said. Alen did as he was told and the old man ran his finger down the underside of the gauntlet. A golden line cleaved the gauntlet in half and the lock popped out, releasing Alen’s arm from the gauntlet.
“The choice is yours, young seal bearer” said the old man.
Alen looked at his free arm and felt the air groped around it, enveloping it in a warm feeling like a soft blanket. He fiddled with his fingers, cracking it and immersing himself on the long forgotten feelings. “It feels lighter” he said to himself. “What will happen to the world if I backed out now?” asked Alen.
“I don’t know. The Unknown might get hold of the gauntlet and darkness will then reign, or it may not and somehow a new seal bearer will re-seal the Source back into the earth. The only thing I know is that, the world will go on and the people you have lost will be lost no matter what your choice is” he said. The old man coughed.
Alen rubbed his face. His mind raced to the things that had happened to him. The joy of the adventure, the agonies, the dangers and perils and the thoughts of experiencing more of it if he continues or the lost of it if he stops pulsed through his mind. He touched the eye patch on his face and the pain flared into his brain and stings his face. He grimaced and the hate flares up in his heart. He imagined the world without his friend, Enil and living alone in the civilian district of Naresh, living like everyone else till the day he die, oblivious of the movement of the world around him. He grits his teeth.
“Alright, I’ll do it” said the young man.
The old man nods slowly. “Then hold out your hand, young seal bearer” he said.
Alen complied and let the old man placed the gauntlet back onto his hand. He clasped the lock together and ran his finger down the underside of the gauntlet and the golden line appeared, locking the gauntlet back onto Alen’s arm. “Now, young seal bearer, this will be the hardest part of your journey” said the old man.
“What do you mean?” asked Alen.
“In order to re-seal the Source, you will need to gather all of the seal” said the old man. “And you will not be the only one looking for them”
“Yes, they have the map and the magic of location” said the old man. “They stole them when they attacked the city”
“So that’s what happened?”
“Partly, yes. When the attack happened, The Guardians had to destroy the whole city in order to trap the Unknowns and prevent them from getting away with the magic and the map, in which they have failed. And in order to ensure my survival, they had placed a Time Veil over the city to elude the Unknowns from ever coming here again” explained the old man.
“What does this have to do with my mission?” asked the young man.
The old man looked at him. The glow that was his eyes flickered. “They will search for the seals. It will be a race in which you will be at a disadvantage” he said. “Without the map, locating the seals will be near impossible”.
The old man coughed and laughed. “Do not worry, young seal bearer, it will always be hard and near impossible but it will never be absolutely impossible” he said and held out his hand. “The book, give it to me” he said.
Alen looked at the old man. “You mean this?” he held out the tiny leather bounded book and placed it onto the old man’s hand. “This book will tell you where the seal is and what it looks like but you will need to decipher them before the Unknowns” said the old man.
“But it won’t open, I’ve tried it before, only Carvas, the one who posed as my uncle had managed to do so” Alen explained. The old man coughed.
“Ah, Carvas, the previous seal bearer” said the old man much to Alen’s surprise.
“He was the previous seal bearer?”
“Yes, but he abandoned the mission when he found you on the battlefield” explained the old man. “He was brilliant, but had to fake his own death in order to save you” he said.
“You mean, what Kalvel said about burying him was a lie?”
“No, Kalvel, the old warrior simply did not know about you or Carvas’s feigned death. The one he buried was only a double body that Carvas used for his death” said the old man. “But enough chatters, the world awaits you, young seal bearer” he said and ran his finger down the side of the book where the lock sits. A warm white light casts out from the crevices of the pages on the book and the lock lifted itself open, revealing the contents of the book to the two.
“Come, you will need more ability than you already have now to overcome the Unknowns. I will awaken your Role for you” said the old man and held his frail hand to Alen’s forehead. Alen leaned forward and felt the cold tingling of the old man’s palm touching his forehead.
“But-“ but the old man had already begun the Awakening process before Alen could speak out. “Aetas Imin, Aetas Siem, Aetas Hier, Aetas Sumear, Aetas Rie Jumaar!” said the old man, the phrase Alen remembered hearing when he saw the ritual back in Naresh. He replayed the words in his mind, “Awaken the body, awaken the mind, awaken the soul, awaken the senses, awaken thyself human!” as the old man repeats them in the old tongue.
Alen closed his eyes and felt the surge of power circulating inside his body. It gagged him at first, pushing away all the air inside his body, only to suck in more than he had possibly could before. His skin tingles with touch, the feeling of the warm air around him, he could hear the sound between his clothes and the floor, he could smell the smell of clay and stones and dusts in the air. His eyes burned with power underneath the lids. His mouth tastes stale, his mind cleared and he felt refreshed as if he had slept for a week. He breath out and opened his eyes. The darkness around him before lifted from his vision and he gasped at the wondrous view inside the room he was in. His right shoulder burns yet he felt no pain, only the acrid smell of burned skin. Dark lines emerged from underneath his skin. It converged and snaked one another, weaving into a tattoo. It was the same spiral symbol Carvas had shown him before.
“So it was the mark of an Elder… interesting” said the old man. “You shared Carvas’s mark, unusual for two Elders to appear in one time period”
Alen ignored the old man’s rambling, focusing his eyes on his surrounding which had drastically transformed from the darkness he first saw.
“This was all around me all this while?” he said to himself.
An explosion rocked the room, sending Alen who was about to stand, stumbling back to the cold floor. His ears rings.
“You must go, young seal bearer, the Unknown has come and they will come after you” said the old man in full urgency. “You are an Elder, and this book now belongs to you, guard it with your life” said the old man as he gave Alen back the leather bound book.
“We need to get out of here” said Alen, he tucked the book into the inside pocket of his tunic.
“No, I will stay, you will need to leave, your friends need you” said the old man. His body wavered in the room like a miasma.
“But-” Alen watched as the old man disappeared into the air and the room sat still, save for the explosion outside.
“Damn it” he said and gave the room one last look before the door. He took a deep breath and turned to the door. “This is it” he said and opens it.