Scroll of Eden, p.1Judah LaBrie
Scroll of Eden
Copyright 2013 Judah LaBrie
Cover designed by Jonathan LaBrie.
Dedicated to my wife Sarah and my brother Jonathan for encouraging me to pursue my dreams.
Table of Contents
About the Author
Covered by his cloak, a tall figure entered the outer bailey through the eastern gate. A heavy wooden hatchway then led him inside the castle walls. Towers surrounded the citadel, dividing the stronghold into sections. Stairwells and corridors lined the stone walls every few yards, separating the colonnades. Some ascended to the keeps, others led to dungeons deep below the main level. He knew which halls would lead him to the king.
Choosing an alley the mysterious character pushed his way through a crowded passageway once familiar to him. Villagers he passed seemed apathetic to their route. Even those he brushed against did not acknowledge the exchange. Routine and obligation nudged their steps; humanity quietly imprinting themselves across useless paved stones.
Dark blue eyes buried by wrinkled skin looked out from behind the hood he wore. He had thick white facial hair, much like wool, overgrown to cover as much of his features that would otherwise reveal him.
His age deceiving, maybe himself not sure. Another generation had risen and passed in this castle since the last time he entered its walls. Would anyone even recognize him? His soul was surely unrecognizable from all the years away, as many as they were.
Narrowing partitions led the old man deeper into the castle’s depths. He veered off the busy isles and found the tunnel he was once accustomed to. Alone now, he slowed his steps, glad to be in solitude. Something he knew well, something he enjoyed. He breathed the misty air as he watched the light behind him fade.
Descending into the darkness, his feet felt the slope of the damp ground below. Dripping sewage from the bathhouses above formed puddles, providing an unpleasant odor. Surely those leaks were new, but it had been some years since he used these hidden burrows.
Bleak sunlight behind him disappeared, leaving only his memory as guide.
Almost fifty paces in, the aged traveler was close to his urgent destination. He paused, the years since he had seen the king had been many, though now seemed only as yesterday. How grand the castle was then.
He found the stairwell that would lead him up to the king’s throne room. He climbed the stone laid stairs in silence, stepping lightly. He prepared himself for what might be behind the door by gripping his weapon that lay just beneath his cloak.
The old archaic intruder found the doorway. A secret passageway of sorts; a back entrance into the kings throne room, for many years it was used only by the priests.
Turning the latch he opened a small wooden door. Light engulfed his frame.
Noticing him immediately, three guards approached, swords drawn. Additional guards surrounded the throne; they would protect the king.
The old man lifted his hands, took a step forward, then removed his head covering.
Shamal had returned.
“Is that you old man?” the king recognized him after a brief study, intently surveying his eyes. Another collected pause and he continued, “Come near me, let me see you brother.”
Knowing his visit was an intrusion, Shamal only brought himself to take a few steps, slowly, not sure, as the weapons held facing him remained ready to defend the king.
“I was accused of killing you.” The king spoke gently with a mild amount of bitterness included. The king continued to motion for him to come closer.
Still guarded by the sentries, the summoned guest approached the king, “And you would have, had I not escaped.”
Reclining in a large seat centered in the throne room, the king looked as aged as his intruding visitor; his face covered in rough coarse skin. Brown evil eyes that held resentful memories gazed down at Shamal. Black hair curling out from below a rustic golden crown. A greying beard, cut recently, exhibited his precise features well. Not a handsome man, but ruddy and defined.
“Do you like it?” The king waved his arms again, this time pointing to a large statue of himself. The constructed statue stood just behind his seat. Its height looked about thirty feet, nearly touching the room’s rotunda ceiling; a beautiful focal point for this chamber. Such a grand idol chiseled from marble, displayed a confident sword drawn king. The large sculpture had Three words inscribed below on a wooden plaque “θα κατακτήσει όλα” (we shall conquer). Shamal was not impressed, he remained silent, keeping his eyes on the king. The three words seemed familiar to him, they echoed inside him, we shall conquer.
“Swordsman of the gods!” The King announced Shamal’s heroic given name to his small audience. Rows of seats lined the walls, filled mostly by the king’s advisors, thirty or so were present, they sat in the seats of the priests, drunk and harmless, watching in amusement as Shamal and the king conversed. Guards still lingered frozen, waiting for orders.
“I see Great King Altair, you have replaced your chamber with ill counsel.” He studied the pathetic assembled group closely, remembering his once ordained position in those same chairs.
The king laughed, he turned his body to his advisors but kept his head straight to Shamal, his eyes not leaving him. “Our world changed Shamal, we do not need God or his spokesmen any longer.”
Shamal matched his stare, allowed a moment of silence then returned a comment, “No, God does not need us any longer, He is silent, he has been silent.”
“Then I shall be wise not to bother him.”
“Nor I. That is why I am here Altair, for the Scroll of Eden.”
Straightening in his seat at Shamal’s request, the king spoke coarsely, “The scroll!” He formed a wicked smile, and in a sinister whisper, added, “I have killed to keep the scroll hidden.”
“The scroll is a danger if in the wrong hands.” Shamal knew of the depth of evil that sought it.
“But who is to say you are the right hands?” The king glanced over to his counsel as they quietly cheered his answer.
Shamal’s voice remained calm, almost apologetic, “No hands are right for it, the scroll needs to be destroyed.”
“No, your father came to that same conclusion, and I killed him for trying, should I not do the same to you? You ask something impossible.”
“It is not what you imagine, it is a deep evil.” Shamal raised his voice to the king.
Standing to his feet, the king also elevated his speech. Visibly agitated he spoke precise, “It is an evil I intend to explore.”
The swordsman, turned from the king, disappointed from the king’s answer. Shamal looked across at the useless power driven advisors, his back to King Altair. Aged emotion rolled from the ancient fighters lips; He spoke to all within earshot, “Then you have sealed your death, great King of the North.”
Raising his scepter toward Shamal, the king signaled his guards. They quickly formed a barrier between the two old companions.
The three guards that had been nearest to Shamal were now facing him, ready to attack.
Quickly the old fighter produced his sword from within his cloak and turned to Altair and shouted, ”Others will come for the scroll.”
One of the guards swung his sword at Shama
The remaining two guards attacked together, but the old swordsman raised his sword to the closer guard, blocking the swing. Shamal threw his knife into the further assailant. The knife penetrated into the skin, the guard fell. Struggling to breath, the guard died while trying to remove the knife from his chest. Again he felt the pain he had so long ago suppressed, a life taken in the small affairs of man hurt more than on the large battlefields of war. Shamal turned to face the next guard, his face beckoning him to reconsider.
The last of the three closer sentries loyally re-swung his sword, though his facial expression already doubting his actions. Shamal again lifted his sword, instead of clashing swords, he stepped from the line of the swing and brought down his own sword. Striking at an angle, the sword removed the head of his opponent.
The crowd of drunken advisors had looked on, until the head thumped onto the palace floor, then the king’s consultants frantically exited in all directions.
The victorious swordsman returned his attention back to the throne, but Altair was already gone. All the other guards that had sworn to defend the king had also retreated.
The old swordsman was alone in the king’s throne room. His apprentice was somewhere in the castle, looking for the Scroll.
The Forest of Arolla demonstrated a unique display of woodland. Enclosed from the outer world, this broadleaf timberland was a sea of mixed trees stretching towards the heavens, an ancient forest spanning hundreds of miles across three regions.
Below the high canopy of aged trees, an understory of juvenile oaks and maples waited for their chance at liberation to the heavens.
Saplings and thick shrub finished the dense forest, rich soil welcomed such a diverse count of plants and flowers. It was easy for travelers to get caught up in the decorative of the landscape, forgetting its danger out weighed its beauty.
Monster straight ahead.
Kneeling behind an elder maple, Itamar held his bow steady. An arrow only recently pulled from his quiver joined the string. His thread needed tightening, noticing it was loose through the stave. If he needed to use this weapon, he would lose the required accuracy.
The monster’s back faced Itamar, a beast of an animal, feeding on its latest victim, another hunter perhaps.
As many times as Itamar found himself here, save the loosened knot, he felt the fear that was demanded by such a creature.
How fast could he fix a timber hitch?
He lowered his bow.
Preoccupied with flesh, the Leviathan was oblivious to Itamar’s presence.
With eyes on the overgrown, fire breathing brute, Itamar made haste on his bow. Removing the tie, then resetting the timber hitch, he reassembled the weapon, never leaving his view of the feasting animal.
He finished the repair. Ready.
Itamar reset the arrow into place, it was tighter, perfect.
The air was calm, cool, with a slight humidity pulling moisture from his skin. He eyed his target, aiming, waiting for the monster to turn.
Sweat found an agitating path from his forehead, to his eyebrow, then followed a canal to his eyelash, blurring his vision as it puddled in his lower eyelid. He blinked, clearing his sight.
“Ugly!” Itamar called to the creature.
Its backside quickly spinning to reveal a hideous front view. Incensed eyes linked to his, its huge mouth hung open. Drooping blood filtered between its fangs, flesh from a carcass still entwined those massive teeth. A long reptile nose set centered on its face igniting small sparks, readying itself for a bigger flame.
Itamar smiled, he saw its throat.
Charging toward the hunter, the irritated beast sprinted relentlessly. Stomping across the underbrush, the angry animal was at full speed now. The beast was at least twelve feet tall, with a diameter of eight feet, the length of the massive creature from head to tail was eighteen feet long. Not the biggest Itamar has killed, but this ranked among them.
Itamar opened his hand, releasing his grip on the arrow. He followed the arrows flight, making sure it sank into the throat, it did. The unstoppable leviathan fell, thumping against the forest floor, crushing the plants below it.
The hunter began to breath again. He did not notice when he stopped taking air in, but somewhere between their eyes meeting, and the flames forming in the monster’s nostrils, he had ceased.
Deep breathes now. He had done this so many times before he started to laugh. This is the feeling he lived for.
He fell beside the dead lump, the back of his head resting on the creature’s side. Still laughing.
“I’m okay, I’m okay!” He looked through the top of the trees, peering through the canopy, Looking to heaven. Pride filled his heart. Even God should fear my bow. Just a thought he had.
He closed his eyes, smiling.
Shamal stood in the Chamber of Descendants, a room high in the castle devoted to the ancients. Fifteen guards lay dead between him and the hallway he had entered only ten minutes earlier. His frame slouching from the confrontation, victory always came with a price; more lives lost, injured men, this lower back pain...blood. He was trying to push back the conscience that was resurfacing after so many years of not knowing one.
He looked over the room, reminiscent of his past, everything streamed back to him, the memories flooded his head. He saw the Ancient Books, written by those who followed God, scrolls with maps to mountains and caves filled with untold treasures.
Shamal had studied in this chamber with his father so many years ago, now the dust had accumulated on everything from years of not being bothered. He reached for a familiar stack of scrolls, only six remained. “The Scrolls of Adam,” a compilation of seven scrolls, one of which was the “Scroll of Eden.” He opened each one, non of which was the scroll he was searching for. He placed them inside of his cloak, they could be of some use possibly. He looked around the room more, remembering the hours spent in this room as a child.
He noticed two robes, made from leaves, said to be of Adam and his wife. Shamal knew the robes were not true artifacts, the kings of old had made them and used them as idols, to control the people. Whenever the commoners cried out for God, the kings would swoop in with idols, to frustrate the worship of the true God. He knew, as a priest he was assigned to allow only so much of God to be revealed to the people.
He reached to his lower back, blood. An insignificant wound. Shamal had been cut and sliced a few times in his lifetime. He would need to dress the wound soon though.
The old swordsman, sat down at a desk that stood in the center of room, he grabbed a blank scroll and lay it spread across the table. He then placed two rocks on either side to hold it open, one at the top, another its bottom. His weary hand reached for the inkwell, he plucked an aged feather from the container, dried up from years of not being used. He reached again for his injured side, this time jabbing the tip of the feather into his bloodied clothing.
Blood filled the scroll as Shamal began to write, he dipped the point as needed through the torn clothes and pierced skin. He watched as his words began to flow. It was easy now to feel what he was writing, as he marked the pages with his own blood.
The blood was a beautiful red, it would dry and be black before anyone would read it, but as he wrote, he would enjoy its illuminate shade. He wrote in the language he grew up writing. Only his apprentice and himself still spoke or read this ancient language of Adam. The priests of the northern king had carried its language to his generation, King Altair foolishly killed off everyone who could read the scrolls of Adam, including the most valuable scroll, the Scroll of Eden. Now only Shamal and his pupil could read these ancient writings.
“The scroll is
Shamal turned his head to meet the young eyes of his apprentice Omar. Shamal did not say anything, he returned his focus back to his writing and continued. He wrote a few more words onto the scroll before moving the rocks and then handing the scroll to Omar, his young follower.
“What is this? Are you rewriting history?” Omar shook his head, smiling sarcastically as he glanced over the writing.
Shamal pulled from his cloak a ring, he tossed it to his apprentice, “When it dries, seal it with this.” Shamal walked out of the chamber.
“Where did you get this?” Omar held the kings royal insignia, a powerful ring in the north.
From the descending steps just outside the room, Shamal’s voice faded to a distant ramble, “Always with the questions.”
Omar glanced up at the Chamber of Descendants, giving it an awestruck look over. A marvelous room at the end of an enfilade. A blind arcade filled with votive pictures lined the northern wall. countless treasures and religious idols were decoratively placed throughout the room on shelves and tables. The wealth in gold alone in the room humored him. Omar saw a small hand sized golden statue of Eve dressed with silver leaves.
The idol was heavy as he picked it up, he chuckled as he looked about at the bodies that covered the floor, Shamal was indeed a fighter. Omar less of one, more of an opportunist. Omar looked again at the victims of Shamal, no survivors, Omar was alone. He concealed the small statue under his cloak, a gift to himself.
He sealed the drying scroll with the insignia, then tucked the scroll into his cloak, next to his little statue. He placed the king’s insignia ring on the table. He would meet his master at the east bailey, beside the Gate of Lambs.
Rocky cliffs and the highest mountains on the continent was the landscape that engulfed them as they climbed the entrance to the Fountain of Graves, giants gathering at an inherently familiar land. Jurhan and his tribe arrived first; they were readying the old battleground for the largest assembly of the giant tribes since the Great Slaughter.
Sacred land now, this valley was were man and giant fought for rule of the world seventy years earlier. Bones from man, giant, and beast, all buried together in shallow graves, only covered by loose sand that drifted up from the desert valley below. Awe struck villagers from Jurhan’s tribe marveled at such a collection of bones, hundreds of thousands of slain warriors had been left here, both giant and man. Giant and mankind had never come back to this nightmare of a place. Now Jurhan felt he had the numbers to relaunch an attack on humanity, but he would need a special weapon, one that even the great firebones could not destroy. He had his heart set on the Scroll of Eden.
Scroll of Eden by Judah LaBrie / Fantasy / Actions & Adventure have rating 2.8 out of 5 / Based on36 votes