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First pages

Prologue

A door opens letting in a small amount of light into the small dark room as a weary man stood just outside the threshold. He ran a hand through his peppered color hair before stepping inside. He walked with the grace of a warrior, stepping around the few objects he owned, a chair laid on the floor, a table on its side, a desk on the far wall of the room with a small lantern, and papers scattered about as if a wild wind had passed through the room.

He surveys the room and lets out a deep sigh. He heads back to the chair and carries it to the desk. He sets it down and walks around collecting all of the blank paper scattered around. Once collected, he returns to the desk and takes a seat. He reaches out turning a small knob on the lantern, and the sudden light causes him to wince. Once his eyes adjusted to the light, he grabs the lone pen near the back edge, tapping the tip on the desk as he struggled to find the right words to put on the paper. He has so much to write and so little time. With a resound sigh he scratches at his ear then starts writing, the scratching of the pen to the paper fills the room.

 

Talaspan 3RD – 0010 Rebirth of Ajemuha (R.A.)

I am writing all this down for I believe that the end of my days is drawing near. It seems that everything my life has been about will come to fruition within the next few months. It doesn’t matter whether I live or die. As long as I complete what I have set out to do is all I care about. My life has been tough with many believing that I am their savior while others think I will bring about destruction.

They are both right in a way.

I hope that I can be all that everyone wants me to be. Despite whatever happens I hope that anyone who reads this will look upon me as just a mere man. Not a savior, a destroyer, or whatever else history may call me. I am just a simple man whose life was never easy. I have had people hunting me, like an animal with each one hoping to rise in power with my death.

We are out searching for the enemy stronghold hoping to finally put an end to this that has raged for years. I know that I should be getting rest, but my nerves will not allow me nor my racing mind. I guess the thought that my entire life’s purpose will come to fruition soon has me worried. I am hoping that once the war is over history will not have been repeated. I don’t want every life that has been sacrificed to get me where I am today to have been in vain.

So many people have been waiting for this day, waiting for me to save them all from a history that has repeated itself six times. I don’t want it to continue and put the lives of more at stake all because a tyrant could not take someone else crowned.

My love, I miss you so much. Ever since the day you died my heart has been torn. I have just been a lifeless husk wandering the world, waiting for someone or something to finally finish what had started that day. I am hoping that once all is done that I will be finally able to see you again. It feels like it has been centuries since I last held you in my arms, felt your passionate kisses, and falling asleep with you on my chest.

I am so exhausted. Emotionally and physically.

It has seemed that the last few years have been a constant chase to find everything I need. There are many places that I can start my story, but there is one day that sticks out in my mind this very moment. I have wished many times that events had been different that day, but I know now that could never happen. No matter how events played out, I would have been led right where I am this very moment. My destiny has been controlling me from the very day I was born. Like a puppeteer with everyone who has ever entered my life, even myself, its puppets.

On this day my life changed forever. This is when my unwanted destiny truly began...


One

 

Zimona 3rd – 9997 After Prophecy (AP)

It all began when I was ten years old. I was like every other kid, nothing special. I went to school. I dealt with my annoying teacher, Mister Millstone. I even had to deal with bullies after school. It seemed like they wanted to kill me more than harass me.

On this day I was sitting in class, staring out the window towards the large ziggurat which was home to the Aeon Order in Cinnar. It sat off in northwest section of the city, occupying four square miles of land. The Temple, as it is called by everyone, was one of the three largest structures in the city. It rose nearly half a mile into the sky and had five towers, one on each corner and one in the middle, which rose up like fingers reaching for the sky.

As I sat there staring, a red light reflected onto my face and I turned to the north. I saw the Cathedral of Qureak, which was said to have been made entirely out of one piece of garnet. It was as large as the Temple and according to the historians both the Temple and the Cathedral had been made around the same time. It was during the Baronofi Era, nearly forty thousand years ago, by some of the strongest Nature Pahtans in the world. The Cathedral was shaped like a large hexagon with a tower rising up from the center and six smaller ones on the corners. Both were magnificent yet paled in comparison to the palace. The palace sat to the northeast and was the twice the size of the Temple and rested upon a large hill looking down on the rest of the city. From what I remember from history class, the first king of Cinnar, who took control of the area nearly ten thousand years ago, wanted to outdo the Temple and Cathedral, spending decades and millions of gold coins.

I continued to stare out the window when something slammed down on my desk, sending me a few inches into the air as my heart raced. I looked up to see my teacher hovering with his pointer resting on the top of the desk. He reminded me of a rat with his slitted eyes. He was short with a thin build and thick bushy eyebrows sticking out over his eyes. His two front teeth were like those of a rat. His kept his dark medium length hair in an elegant style to match the black suit and red tie. It seemed like that was all he owned as we never saw him wear anything else to class.

“Am I boring you Mister Knockaert?”

“No sir,” I said looking down at my desk. “I am very entertained by your lecture.”

“Glad to hear it,” he said walking back to the front of the class, not picking up on the sarcasm. Before I could drift my attention away he asked me a question. “Then you should have no problem telling me what was the age that preceded the one we are in now? How long did it last and how did it come to an end?”

My mind quickly raced for the answer. I could feel my face turning read before I spoke. “The previous age was the Dragon Empire,” I answered as I tried not to think that the entire class was watching me. “It was named after the Empire which ruled the entire world for nearly ten thousand years. It ended when Edith brought forth the Prophecy of the Ajemuha and the first Knights of Edith rose to defeat the Empire.”

“What was the main way the Dragon Empire ruled?”

“The Empire used fear on all of its subjects. During this time only Pahtans were considered royalty. Those that had no ability to channel were considered slaves. They were treated like animals.”

“What happened after the Empire was defeated?”

“The people started to kill all the Pahtans that they could upon birth. They all feared that the Dragon Emperor would be reborn and exact his revenge upon them. This is what is referred to as the Purge and why to this day only one out of every five that are born can channel. Some say that every year it seems that there are even less than that born.”

“Very good,” he said and I could hear the disappointment in his voice. “Anyway back to what I was saying.”

The rest of the day crawled by and when the bell finally rang signaling the end of the day I stuffed my books into my bag, slung it over my shoulder, and then made my way out into the halls. I moved quickly through the throng of people hurrying to get off of school grounds without running into any trouble. As I stepped outside I was hit by the muggy summer air coming off the sea to the north. It felt like hitting a wall of water. I had gone no more than twenty feet before my clothes were already soaked. Despite the heat I rushed towards the main gate. I thought that I was going to be lucky and actually make it out when a group of kids, five years older, stepped out from the other side. I came to a stop, sighing as I spotted the group’s leader, one of the worst kids here, Xanto Drake. Xanto had been training at the Temple to be a member of the Aeon Order up until a year ago. Rumor around the school was that he got expelled for nearly killing another student in rage during a sparring match. Others said it was for insubordination. I believed both.

He spent his days at school cutting class and torturing anyone who opposed him. The faculty was not sparred either. Not even a few hours after arriving at school for the first time he had hospitalized every one that tried to stand up to him. That was when I got on his bad side. He was harassing a girl with his new gang of followers. I stepped up to protect her which left me with a few broken ribs, a few loose teeth, black eyes, and light burns all across my body from some of his zidici.

From that day forth he had become a thorn in my side. He made to beat me down at least once a day. I know that must shock anyone reading this but I was not always the great fighter that I am today. My skill had increased over the year since Xanto arrived and I managed to dodge a few of his zidici but no matter how much I dodged I always ended up limping home. Just a few days earlier he nearly broke a few of my ribs. As I thought about it I felt my arm move to my side.

“Knockaert, what a pleasure it is to see you,” he said laughing. “How are you feeling?” He flashed a smile that showed he could not wait to hurt me. It was also in his eyes. He ran a hand through his hair which seemed at one time to be white but was covered in dirty and filth. He had a few inches on me, but was lean with what seemed like hidden muscles that had to be from his training at the Temple. He found something in his hair and simply wiped it on his pants which looked like they had not been washed in days. Knowing Xanto he was probably wearing the same clothes he had on for the last few days.

“I’m doing alright,” I said trying to smile. “How about we speed this whole thing up Xanto? I’ve got somewhere to be. Skip sending your groupies and just attack me yourself.”

“Seems like he is eager to get beat boss,” said one of his followers smiling in a very creepy way.

“Well then I guess I shouldn’t keep him waiting.”

I watched as his gang backed away. Each gave their opinion on how I should be beaten. They all seemed to want to see my arm ripped from my body and then for me to be beaten with it. Xanto laughed as he slowly walked towards me, telling them that he would do what he could. I had a feeling of butterflies in my stomach as I waited for him to attack. Despite all of the toughness I tried to show I was still worried that I would be beaten worse than any other time, possibly killed.

He came to a stop just a dozen feet away, the look of pleasure on his face from the thought of hurting me. He was most likely thinking of the ways he was going to hurt me. I looked around as a group of twelve students were making their way over to watch. I sighed as I felt the pressure to last longer than a few minutes in this fight with a crowd watching. Xanto let out a laugh as soon the group was nearly one hundred. Whenever Xanto was involved there was always a crowd. He liked to wait to have more people to witness his strength. I took a deep breath then waved for him to attack. He rushed forward, a smile on his face as he threw a right hook. I ducked down bringing my hands up to catch his knee as it came towards my face. The force of the blow caused me to stumble back and Xanto was quick, delivering a chop to my right shoulder which slammed me into the ground.

I felt a chill up my spine and quickly rolled to the side just a second before Xanto brought his heel down where my head had been. There was a loud crack and I watched as a small crater formed, sending out cracks nearly a foot long.

My eyes widened as I realized what would have happened if I had not moved. I looked at Xanto and saw him flash a maniacal smile as he started to bounce around on his heels. I got another chill up my spine before Xanto rushed forward, faster than I had ever seen. He was like a blur as he closed in delivering a volley of punches to my torso. Each one felt like getting hit with a hammer. I felt a few ribs crack as a cloud of mist sprayed forth as all of the air in my lungs was forced out.

I started to fall, but Xanto moved fast. His hand wrapped around my neck. He slowly lifted me up into the air where he started to squeeze. I gripped his wrist and tried to free myself, but I was too weak. The more I fought the tighter the grip became around my neck. I feared he was going to snap it like a twig when suddenly my body moved on its own.

I drove a knee into his chin and the moment his grip loosened I placed both feet against his chest, pushing away. I hit the ground hard, rolling backwards then moved fast, driving a shoulder into his chest. I watched Xanto hit the ground, rolling into a group of students. He shoved them aside as he got to his feet.

“Boss here you go!” yelled one of his boys tossing a lead pole.

Xanto snatched it from the air and spun it around. He moved through some of the fighting styles taught at the Temple. A maniacal smile flashed on his face before he rushed forward. He jabbed at my stomach as if the pole was a spear. It took all I had to evade, but there were a few close calls. After the fourth jab aimed at my face he swung it at my side. It came too fast for me to dodge so I braced myself. The moment it struck I grabbed the pole tightly. It kept me from being thrown aside and really pissed off Xanto. He tried to pull the pole free. I dug my feet down in to the ground. I held on for a few more seconds before letting go. Everyone laughed as Xanto stumbled backwards. Before he could recover I rushed in grabbing the pole and pulling it away. I brought the pole around connecting with his face with a loud thud. A few teeth flew towards those watching.

Xanto flew a dozen feet through the air, bouncing on the ground a few times before sliding to a stop. I held the pole tightly and started swinging it around to mimic Xanto which brought forth more laughs from the crowd.

“Boys,” Xanto yelled as blood flowed from his mouth and a whistle through the gap of missing teeth. “The one who knocks out all of his teeth will be named second in command!”

I cursed as the gang rushed forward. Their bloodlust filled the air like a dense fog. I was surrounded and it felt like after today I would not be eating anything solid for a long time. Hours seemed to pass before the first one attacked. He was a short pudgy kid with a greasy pimple covered face. He threw a fat fist at my face and I moved without thinking, bringing the pole up to catch him in the stomach. As he doubled over I spun around catching another in the face.

That seemed to be all that was needed. They all moved fast. Surprisingly I was faster. I danced through them, taking out each one with ease. As the last fell to the ground clutching his crotch I spun the pole around and held it behind me. I smiled in amazement as I just took out fifteen kids who usually roughed me up until their boss decided he wanted a turn. It surely seemed like despite the annoyance, Xanto’s daily beatings were increasing my skill.

That was when I felt another chill run up my spine. I turned around quickly and watched as the air around Xanto wavered as if I was staring down the street on a hot summer day. A second later his hands erupted into flames as fireballs formed, hovering over his palms.

“I can say that I didn’t expect you to take all of them out so easily,” he said holding the fireball out front. Light pulsed as the flames spiraled out like arms.

“To be honest I didn’t think so either.”

“Well it doesn’t matter now,” Xanto said smiling. “I am going to burn you.”

The fireballs spiraled through the air and I moved fast dodging the zidici, but Xanto swung his arms around controlling the fireballs. I danced around as the fireballs shot around like annoying insects, only I couldn’t swat it aside unless I wanted to have it explode. Xanto swung the fireballs around trying to pin me. It would have worked, but I tripped on a rock. The fireballs shot towards the crown. An explosion shook the ground beneath me as a large cloud of jet black smoke enveloped me. I was sent into a coughing fit as I crawled out. What I saw upon leaving the smoke caused something to snap inside. Students littered the ground, screaming in agony at the burns across their bodies and to the chaos Xanto brought upon them. I stared at Xanto with hate. Hate as I heard all of the suffering around me.

“You will not get away with this!”

Xanto flinched for just a second at the sound of my voice and I used that to my advantage. I sprinted towards Xanto, but he recovered quickly. I felt another chill as his hands moved through a quick series of hand signs. The moment they came to a stop, palms raised towards me, flames shot out like a pillar burning the ground as they neared.

I dove to the side and as I got to my feet there was another stream coming for me. I sprinted around Xanto hoping to get behind him, but he moved with me, keeping the flames close on my heels. A fireball slammed down in front of me and I slid to a halt as a wall of fire rose up, fifteen feet in the air and spreading out five. The stream had vanished as two more walls shot up leaving the only way out leading directly towards Xanto. He had a large grin on his face and fireball in hand.

“You have gotten a little better over this last year but still you are no match for someone trained at the Temple. Hell even a first year at the Temple could beat you without much effort. I have grown bored of these little beatings. I thought perhaps after the first time you stood up against me that you would be a worthy opponent but it is just sad how weak you really are,” Xanto said letting out a little laugh as he brought his arm back ready to throw. “It was a pleasure torturing you every day Trez Knockaert.” He smiled. “See you in the next life.”

The fireball grew over four feet in diameter and his arm twitched before throwing it forward. I closed my eyes bracing for the impact. I waited for nearly two minutes for the zidici to strike. I thought that I had died quickly without feeling any pain. My stomach twisted from not knowing. I slowly opened my eyes to see standing before me was a dark skinned bald man with a lithe build. He was wearing a black over tunic and under tunic with yellow trim; a pair of black trousers tucked into a black knee high boots with the tops turned down. I saw a series of daggers on his belt with only two of them alike. The fire walls died leaving scorched lines along the school grounds.

The moans of people in pain could be heard everywhere. I looked around to see nearly three dozen students lying on the ground with various burns covering their bodies. The man let out a sigh as Xanto fled from the school, tripping as he passed through the school gates. The man turned towards me. His gray-green eyes showed a hint of disappointment for just a second. He reached up scratching the scar running from his chin to just below his right eye. That was when I knew who this man was standing next to me. An Aeon.

“Thank you Master Aeon.”

“It was nothing,” he said shaking his head. “What is your name kid? You did a pretty good job against Xanto. If not for him resorting to his zidici you would have won.”

“Thank you,” I said bowing again. “My name is Trez Knockaert sir.”

“Ah I remember you now,” the man said smiling. “Two years ago you were tested but rejected because the Council sensed no ability to channel in you. After watching you today I think it might have been a mistake. Your movements were really good for someone with no Aeon training. Have you spent much time training on your own? Did you have someone else teaching you?”

“No sir. After I was rejected I gave up. I had never even been in a fight until Xanto came here.”

“Interesting,” he said tapping his chin. “Tomorrow I want you to come to the Temple. I will tell the guards your name and give them your description. Just tell them I sent you.”

“Yes sir,” I said confused. “But if I can ask, what for?”

“I am going to see if you are a one of the very few born with the physical ability of a Pahtan without being able to channel just like Fireyauh Loylar. If I am correct I will take you on as my apprentice to get you caught up with the other students your age.”

“Thank you sir,” I said bowing before I grabbed my bag. I started to rush away but stopped. “Oh wait sir. What is your name?”

“Zammorak Griffonhowl.”

 

 

I rushed home with a smile from ear to ear. People let out curses as I passed by while others said I needed some manners after bumping into them. At home I rushed into the door causing it to bang against a wall. It was followed by a loud yell from the kitchen. My mother came rushing out with a large knife already covered in blood. She let out a sigh of relief when she saw that it was just me. She realized that she still had the knife up and quickly brought it down, her face starting to redden.

“I’m sorry,” she said, her slanted eyes the color of rich cream looked at me with love. She was an intelligent lady with fine black hair. She was of average height with a wide-hipped build and china-white skin. She had a low forehead and her nose was a little crooked. She was always wearing clothes that would have helped her fit in with the nobility of Cinnar and they were always of a red and white color scheme. I don’t think that I had ever seen her wear any other colors.

“What was that all about? You scared me half to death.”

“Sorry mom. I have some great news and ran here all the way to tell you.”

“What is it?”

“Tomorrow I get to go to the Aeon Temple to hopefully to become an apprentice to Aeon Griffonhowl.”

“That is wonderful,” she said hugging me tightly. “Your father will be very happy when he comes home from work. How did this come about?”

“Well I know you are not going to like this,” I said looking down. “Xanto ambushed me at school again. During the fight Aeon Griffonhowl stepped in saving me from getting too hurt. He said that after watching my fight that perhaps I could be like the Fireyauh, unable to channel but still have the fighting and physical ability of a Pahtan. He said I may be able to become part of the Aeon Order.”

“I’m glad to hear that you weren’t hurt too much,” she said smiling. “Last time I thought we would have to take you to the hospital to get your ribs checked out.”

“I know mom but hopefully now I will be able to keep from getting hurt. Maybe I can use my skills in the future to protect others from getting harmed by people like Xanto.”

“You will be great one day son,” she said kissing the top of my head. “I know that the whole world will know of your name, Trez Knockaert the great hero.” She smiled. “Well go get rest while I finish getting dinner ready.”

“I am going to go hang out with Drak and Faith. I can’t wait to tell them.”

“Alright just be back by sunset,” she said as she disappeared into the kitchen. “Even though I know that you won’t.”

I smiled then made my way to my room. By the time I stepped through the doorway I already had my school shirt off, tossing it into the pile of laundry in the corner. I grabbed a light brown over tunic, a white under tunic, a pair of light brown trousers and brown boots. I dressed quickly as I knew that they would be getting done at the Temple soon. I tucked the trousers into the boots as I hurried out of the house. The streets were busy as people were on their way home from work. There was a burst of reddish light as if there was a massive fire and I knew that it was the sun reflecting off the Cathedral. I always met up with Drak and Faith atop the middle tower and no matter how many times I stood before the Cathedral I was always amazed. The Cathedral rose nearly half a mile into the sky and gave the best view of the city.

I pushed open the front doors and snuck through the halls, my heart racing as I passed many of the priests. I rubbed my backside whenever I saw one for it made me remember the one and only time Drak and I had ever been caught.

We had been brought aside and whipped with a wooden paddle until we could barely walk. The priest hoped that it would teach us not to sneak in where we did not belong but in fact it did the exact opposite. We got better. They never caught us again. I let out a sigh of relief as I reached the top of the middle tower. Despite being caught that one and only time I still feared that I would turn a corner into a priest, especially the one who caught us. I climbed out of the east side window and made my way onto the roof, careful not to pull any of the slate tiles free otherwise it would be a long fall.

Once I was up on the roof I climbed to the very top and stared out at the city below. Cinnar was one of the largest cities in the world and one of three on Settma. The city was made up of five boroughs. The smallest was the harbor to the north where every day thousands of ships entered and left with goods from all over the world. The rest were referred to the location. The northeast borough held the Palace. The southwest held the Aeon Temple and the southeast where I was currently was home to the Cathedral. The northwest borough held a lot of the business and homes of the lower class.

The tallest buildings besides the Temple, Cathedral and Palace only reached ten stories. Those that were that tall were the inns, guild houses or apartments spread out across the city. I turned my gaze to the sky where the Moons of Light, named after the gods Qureak, Auni, and Zahhevan were nearing the western horizon to set for the night. Soon the Moons of Shadow, named after the gods Szarbajka, Mutaine, and Sitlec, would dominate the night sky.

They were not the only thing that dominated the sky. Towards the southern horizon the outer fringes of the Ring of Zavv could be seen. It was said to be made up of debris that many priests say was once the seventh moon of Lehhyn. It circled the world. It was said that no matter where you were in the world some part of the Ring could be seen no matter the time of day.

The priests told us that when it was a moon it was seen sometimes alongside the Moons of Light and at other times with the Moons of Shadow but that was before, as the priests told us, Zavv turned on the other gods and threatened the world. Upon his death by the other gods his moon was destroyed forming the ring. All the followers of Zavv were slaughtered like animals and that was when the Wind Pahtans went extinct around the time the Dragon Empire fell.

I watched the sun slowly set on the horizon and the Moon of Shadows slowly started their ascent into the night sky. The street lights started to slowly kick on in the city below. It was always amazing seeing the lights kick on across the city in sections. I heard movement behind me and turned to see Drak starting to climb out of the window. Drak was one of the largest ten year olds I have ever known. He was nearly six feet tall and towered over all of the other students at the Temple with his very wide shoulders, but his arms were like string. I knew that when he became a Tateladad his arms would be like tree trunks from using his axe every day. He wore his long black hair tied back in a ponytail. He was currently wearing the traditional robes of a trainee at the Temple, simple black under tunic and a gray over tunic and trousers as well as black knee high boots.

Once Drak was on the roof Faith followed. She was wearing the same outfit as Drak. Her brown hair was up in a bun with a few strands sticking out. Her emerald eyes stared at me with a look that twisted my stomach into knots every time.

Over the last few years my feelings for her changed from that of a simple friend to something I had never felt before for anyone. I wanted to tell her how I felt but I could never find the courage. Drak let out a yawn and leaned back stretching his arms above his head.

“So you look uninjured today,” Drak laughed. “Did you manage to get home without fighting Xanto?”

“No I fought him but before anything serious could happen I was saved by an Aeon,” I said smiling. “Not only did the Aeon help me but I was told to come by the Temple where I might begin training. He thinks that I could be an Aeon despite not being able to channel.”

“That's great Trez,” Faith said as she hugged me. “Who’s the Aeon?”

“Zammorak Griffonhowl.”

Drak had a worried look on his face “Are you sure that's his name?”

“That is what he told me. Why?”

“Aeon Griffonhowl never takes an apprentice anymore. It is said that all those who go to him fail his initial test and are given to another Aeon.”

“Well I guess there is nothing I can do about it right now. I will have to be expecting anything,” I said starring back at the city. “I will prove to him that he was right.”

“Well good luck there buddy.”

We sat there for a little longer before heading back down to wander the streets. The two of them explained to me what life would be like if I started training at the Temple. After a few hours we separated, heading to our own homes for the night. I was halfway home when I came across a small gang mugging a young couple. I wanted to go help but I saw that a couple of the members were Pahtans who used their zidici to keep the couple from fleeing. I wanted to help but I knew that I would be killed. Perhaps after some training I would be able to help them. I finally made it home and crept into my room to get some sleep but it was not for me that night.

 


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

My name is Jeff Walsh. I live in Connecticut with my wife and newborn son. I started writing this book back in high school with a few rewrites during college.

Q. What books have influenced your life the most?
A.
The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan has been the most influential in my life. His writing has helped me learn new ways to better myself.
Q. When did you decide to become a writer?
A.
I decided I wanted to become a writer during my junior year of high school back in 2004. That was when I started writing this story with a few rewrites over the years.

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