|The New Enemy|
|Series||His True Destiny by Azaelia Silmarwen|
|Previous||His True Destiny: Chapter Six|
|Next||His True Destiny: Chapter Eight|
|← His True Destiny: Chapter Six||Chapter Chronology||His True Destiny: Chapter Eight →|
Chapter Seven: The New EnemyEdit
Rowan remained in his room for a week, grieving his loss, before he finally emerged to begin his Will training. He spent all his waking hours training in order to keep the unwanted memories of his mother’s death at bay. During this time, the Guild and its people recovered, before going about their past duties. They even depictured his journey to defeating Jack of Blades in the Chamber of Fate.
For a year he remained at the Guild practicing in the arts of Will power and then another year studying as a Hero of Strength. Only then, when he had mastered all three disciplines, did he leave the Guild and begin to rebuild his life.
‘I’m going to Oakvale to visit my parents’ graves,’ nineteen year old Rowan informed the Guildmaster as he entered the map room to use the teleporter.
‘Very well,’ replied the Guildmaster. He was glad that Rowan was finally leaving the Guild again, but he wasn’t too thrilled that his first venture was a sad one.
Rowan teleported to Oakvale where he slowly made his way to the Oakvale cemetery. As he headed for the cemetery, the citizens of Oakvale stopped doing what they were doing and began to cheer his name. To them, he was now a legend. For some reason this surprised him. After all, he had only dreamed of becoming a world famous Hero as a little boy. He never though it would actually happen.
When Rowan arrived at his parents’ graves, he put some flowers he had taken from the Guild garden on top of them. They were buried next to each other. He then sat there, on his knees, staring silently at their graves, wondering if they were proud of him. He also wondered what their lives would have been like if Jack of Blades had left them alone. His wonderings ended up being interrupted by the Guildmaster.
Rowan, I’m sorry to disturb you, but we are receiving a message from Scythe, one of our oldest Heroes, he said. He left the Guild for the Northern Wastes long ago, but now… Perhaps it would be best if you came to the boosting platform outside the Guild and saw for yourself.
‘Sure, I’ll be there soon,’ replied Rowan, getting to his feet.
He stared for a moment at his parents’ graves before teleporting back to the Guild. Once there, he made his way to the boosting platform. As he approached, he saw the Guildmaster and Briar Rose standing there listening to the message from Scythe.
‘…many have died,’ the ancient Hero was saying. ‘I believe these creatures are known as Summoners. My mission here had failed. I will attempt to stop their passage to the mainland, but I require assistance. The strongest among you must open the Primal Demon Dorr close to this podium. It holds the Fire Heart. Only the Chosen One will gain audience with the Prophets. Use the Heart to call the Ship of the Drowned. Hurry before all is lost.’
Rowan, Briar and the Guildmaster all jumped as they watched Scythe being attacked from behind by a hideous creature.
‘And I thought hobbes were ugly,’ Rowan commented, before turning to his friends. ‘Has anyone opened the sleeping Demon Door yet?’
‘It’s not asleep anymore,’ Briar informed him. ‘It awoke this morning, but none of us could get through.’
‘Really? How come?’
‘It keeps saying we’re “not worthy”.’
‘How can a Hero not be worthy?’ Rowan demanded.
‘Obviously we’re not the right kind of Hero,’ replied Briar.
‘We believe that it is up to you, Rowan,’ the Guildmaster explained. ‘You defeated Jack singlehandedly. If it will not open for you…’ He didn’t need to finish his sentence.
‘He’s got a point,’ said Briar. ‘I’ll stick to my speciality and hit the books. We need to know what these Summoners are. Good luck.’
‘You too,’ Rowan replied as he headed for the Demon Door with the Guildmaster. It watched him closely.
‘You bear the mask of Jack of Blades,’ it said suddenly. ‘The Prophets had foreseen the coming of such a legend among Heroes. The rise of the Summoners in the Northern Wastes marks the arrival of a new threat to all living things. We have long dreaded this portent. Behind my walls lies the Fire Heart. There you will speak to the Prophets who watch over it.’
Rowan nodded his understanding.
‘You may enter now, but beware the beating of the Heart,’ the Demon Door warned. ‘It has burned many before you.’
‘That’s comforting,’ Rowan remarked as the Door opened.
‘Be careful, Rowan,’ the Guildmaster cautioned as Rowan entered the Prophets’ Chamber nervously.
Inside the Chamber he found, on the floor, a large square made up of sixteen small squares that were either blue or orange. The blue squares had moons on them while the orange squares had suns. Behind the square were five hooded men encased in large blue shards of crystal. The Fire Heart was suspended above the square. Rowan turned his attention to the man on the left end when he spoke.
‘We are the Prophets of the Fire Heart,’ he informed Rowan.
‘It was your destiny to seek us out, Rowan, son of Scarlet Robe and Brom,’ said the Prophet on the first Prophet’s left.
‘The Beast arises in the frozen North,’ added the Prophet directly in the middle. ‘Only he who claims the Heart can stop it.’
‘Its mystical powers will guide you across the sea,’ the second to the right announced. ‘There you must face a force of such evil not even death can silence its fury.’
‘For crying out loud!’ the last prophet said angrily. He was the one on Rowan’s right. ‘Just tell him to get us out of here!’
‘Yes, yes, we were coming to that!’ said the first Prophet. ‘To obtain the Fire Heart, you must solve the Mystery of Day and Night.’
‘And we’ll finally be free!’ said the second Prophet.
‘And how do I solve it?’ Rowan asked nervously. He wasn’t that good at puzzles.
‘Witness the board before you,’ the first Prophet explained. ‘Each time you turn all the moons into suns you will release one of us from our perpetual prison.’
‘Sounds simple enough,’ Rowan commented.
‘If you fill the board up moons, one of us will perish,’ the fourth Prophet warned.
‘I understand,’ replied Rowan.
At first the puzzle was quite easy, but with every puzzle it got harder and harder. Thankfully he had the Prophets to help him and eventually they were all freed. The moment they were free they teleported to who knows where, though one said that they were going to see their mother.
With the Prophets freed, the Fire Heart came floating down to the ground gracefully. Rowan approached it warily, not wanting to be burnt. However, when he touched it, the flames did not hurt him. He quickly picked it up and hurried back to the Guildmaster, who was waiting for him patiently outside with Briar.
‘I knew that you would be successful,’ the Guildmaster said proudly, when he saw the Fire Heart in Rowan’s hands.
‘I bet those Prophets were a barrel of laughs too,’ said Briar. ‘You always get to do the fun stuff.’
‘I’m seriously beginning to question your idea of fun,’ replied Rowan. He couldn’t think of a single quest he had done that was fun, except perhaps the Arena. ‘Have you found anything on the Summoners?’
‘Yes, and let’s just say I’m not sure throwing the Sword of Aeons away was the best idea, after all.’
‘Why?’ Rowan dreaded her answer.
‘There things are bad,’ she replied simply. ‘It’s too late to do anything now, though.’
‘Perhaps not,’ the Guildmaster disagreed thoughtfully.
‘What do you mean?’ asked Rowan.
‘Well, it’s only an old legend, but for centuries there have been tales of a powerful weapon hidden in the Guild,’ the Guildmaster explained. ‘It is said to be imbued with the essence of all the Heroes buried there. As far as I know, Maze was the only one to show any real interest in it. He was obsessed with finding it. We know why now, of course. Perhaps you can find whatever he discovered in his old quarters. Remember, though, that it is vital that you place the Fire Heart in the Hook Coast Lighthouse. Its power will summon the ship to take you to the Northern Wastes.’
‘I won’t forget,’ Rowan said confidently. ‘Right, I’m off to Maze’s old quarters. Hopefully I’ll find something useful there.’
While the Guildmaster went to see to the other Heroes and Briar went to do some more research, Rowan swiftly made his way to Maze’s quarters with the Fire Heart resting under his arm. He didn’t expect it to be so big.
When Rowan arrived at his destination, he placed the Fire Heart on Maze’s desk, before searching said desk for any clues to Avo’s Tear. He found nothing. Sighing, he went over to one of Maze’s groaning bookcases where he found Maze’s journal on Avo’s Tear.
A wave of excitement washed through Rowan as he hurried back to the desk and began to read the journal. The first entry merely spoke of how difficult it was to find references to the legendary weapon and how Maze wanted it to use on Jack of Blades, whether it be him wielding it or “someone with the courage to face Him”. The second entry made reference to a rare edition of A History of the Guild, but nothing else worth noting. The third entry, however, was full of important information. Rowan learnt that Maze acquired a tattered scroll which spoke of Avo’s Tear’s location and how to retrieve it. Apparently, the inscription on the empty grave in the Guild courtyard needed to be read, while thinking of the weapon, to be “judged by the Old Heroes”. Then the fourth entry said that Maze was unsuccessful of retrieving it.
With this information, Rowan grabbed the Fire Heart and bolted to the grave Maze spoke of in his journal. He weaved in and out of Heroes making their way to bed, making sure he didn’t burn any of them with Fire Heart in the process. When he arrived at the grave, he read the inscription, “This grave awaits a Hero worthy of joining the legends who lie here,” while thinking about Avo’s Tear. He prayed to Avo that the old Heroes would find him worthy of wielding the weapon they protected.
‘We see that you are pure of heart and have sacrificed ultimate power for the good of our land,’ a dismembered voice said suddenly, echoing around the desert courtyard. ‘We judge you worthy, Hero. May Avo’s Tear burn through the forces of evil in your hands.’
In a flash of bright light, Avo’s Tear appeared on the grave.
‘Thank you,’ Rowan said, bowing slightly to the grave, before picking it up.
He then ran to his room and packed his bag full of health and mana potions, not to mention a jacket and water, before locking his old sword in his cupboard and sheltering Avo’s Tear at his hip. With that done, he made his way to the map room where the Guildmaster was welcoming Heroes home from a long day of questing.
‘I’m off to Hook Coast,’ Rowan informed him.
‘Do you have a jacket?’ the Guildmaster asked, turning to face him.
‘Yes, I do,’ replied Rowan. ‘I also have plenty of heath and mana potions, Fire Heart and Avo’s Tear.’
‘You found it!’ the Guildmaster exclaimed, looking down at the sword sheltered on Rowan’s right hip. ‘Where was it?’
Rowan quickly told the Guildmaster of Maze’s journal and how he had found Avo’s Tear’s resting place. He also explained how the old Heroes found Maze unworthy, but they found Rowan worthy.
‘I couldn’t agree with them more,’ the Guildmaster said proudly. ‘I think you are the most selfless Hero I have ever met. Now hurry off to Hook Coast and be careful.’
‘I’m always careful,’ Rowan replied cheerfully.
‘I’ll believe that when I see it,’ the Guildmaster muttered as he retired for the night, once Rowan had teleported away.
-----HIS TRUE DESTINY-----
As usual, when Rowan arrived at Hook Coast it was snowing and freezing cold. Teeth chattering, Rowan reached into his bag and put a dark blue coat on over his light blue Will-user robes.
‘Ah, hello,’ a voice said suddenly. It was an Albion guard. ‘I’ve been expecting you.’
‘You have?’ said Rowan, looking surprised until he realised how the guard knew he was coming. ‘The Guildmaster informed you, didn’t he?’
‘He sure did,’ the guard replied, ‘and just like he asked, the town has been evacuated.’
Rowan vaguely wondered why the Guildmaster wanted the town evacuated.
‘I trust that this wasn’t too difficult for you,’ said Rowan, as they made their way down to the town.
‘Well, it wasn’t easy getting everyone out on such short notice,’ the guard admitted, ‘but we guards know our duty.’
‘And us Heroes appreciate it,’ replied Rowan. ‘You should go and join the others where it’s safe.’
‘Will do, sir,’ the guard said, before leaving Rowan, who continued to the lighthouse where he placed the Fire Heart.
The moment Rowan put the Fire Heart in place; it began to glow brightly before shattering all the windows, scaring Rowan immensely. He definitely hadn’t been expecting that.
‘I take it the Fire Heart’s in place, then?’ a familiar voice yelled.
Frowning, Rowan looked out one of the broken windows and saw a rugged up Briar Rose standing down below outside.
‘How’d you guess?’ Rowan yelled back.
‘The windows shattering and flash of light were a good help!’ she replied. ‘Meet me downstairs!’
With one last glance at the Fire Heart, Rowan went downstairs and met up with Briar in the freezing cold snow.
‘According to the books, the ship should arrive as soon as the Heart’s energy reaches full power,’ Briar informed her friend when he joined her at the railing overlooking the ocean.
‘I hope it doesn’t take long,’ Rowan muttered. ‘It’s freezing here!’
‘Oh don’t be such a wuss!’ she laughed, before both Heroes jumped and looked at the lighthouse when they heard a loud crashing noise. ‘What the hell?’
The Heroes looked around to see what was going on. They immediately got their answer when a ball of blue energy went flying into the lighthouse.
‘Over there!’ Rowan yelled, pointing to a dock not too far away. ‘It’s one of those Summoners!’
‘It must be trying to destroy the Heart!’ Briar exclaimed, drawing her sword as she and Rowan ran towards it. ‘We have to protect it!’
Rowan drew Avo’s Tear and charged at it. After several blows with his sword, it was dead.
‘I like this sword,’ Rowan commented, looking down at his fallen enemy. ‘I never thought I would ever say that about a melee weapon.’
‘Who cares? Look at the town!’ Briar exclaimed.
Rowan did so and he now understood why the Guildmaster wanted the town evacuated. It was crawling with Summoners.
‘Come on, let’s go and make the beasts’ acquaintance,’ Rowan said as he ran off to protect the Fire Heart.
The Heroes had to admit that if they didn’t have Avo’s Tear, things would have been a lot harder, but with its help they managed to slaughter their enemies.
Just as the last Summoner fell, the Heart let out a huge wave of light.
‘The Heart has reached its full potential,’ Briar said as they hurried back to the dock.
When they got there, they found an old, drafty ship waiting for Rowan.
‘Well, here’s your ride,’ Briar said, looking at the ship disdainfully. ‘It looks… cosy.’
‘If it were any cosier I would turn into an icicle,’ replied Rowan.
Briar had to chuckle at his comment.
‘When you get to the Northern Wastes, your Guild Seal will automatically activate the local teleporters and I’ll be able to join you at Archon’s Shrine,’ she informed him.
‘Why doesn’t Scythe just activate them himself, so I can go there that way too instead of running the risk of drowning?’ asked Rowan.
‘He would have done it long ago, but he destroyed his Seal before he arrived.’
‘Wonder why he did that.’
‘He didn’t want Maze to know what he was up to, I guess,’ she shrugged. ‘Anyway, have a nice trip. Maybe when I next see you we can have a snowball fight.’
‘Is it snowing there too?’ Rowan groaned.
‘You bet it is!’
‘When this is over, I’m putting it in my job description that I don’t do freezing cold jobs!’
‘Buck up, Princess!’ Briar laughed as Rowan hopped on board. She then watched as the ship sailed out of sight.
------HIS TRUE DESTINY-----
It took several weeks for Rowan to reach his destination, but he didn’t care. He was actually enjoying the boat ride with the salty sea breeze rustling his hair. He even made a mental note to one day travel the seas.
Once Rowan was off the ship and standing on the snowy land, Scythe appeared before him, startling the young Hero.
‘Welcome to the Northern Wastes, Guildsman,’ he greeted. ‘I had feared you lost.’
Rowan said nothing. He actually found Scythe rather intimidating, even if he was only a hologram.
‘I am Scythe, though my name has long been forgotten in the Guild,’ he continued. ‘Maze saw to that. My apologises for not meeting you in person. I must remain in Snowspire Village and protect it from Summoners.’
‘That’s alright,’ replied Rowan. He was glad that he didn’t have to have Scythe as a travelling companion yet.
‘Meet me in Snowspire Village in the far North. I will explain everything. We must also consult the town’s ancient Oracle. I pray that we can awaken it and that it holds the answers we seek.’
With that said, Scythe disappeared leaving Rowan alone, shivering in the snow.
Taking out the map the Guildmaster had given him, Rowan slowly made his way to Snowspire. This was not a pleasant journey, especially when he ended up on his back, in the snow; because he was too busy looking at the map instead of where he was going. As a result, he did not see the giant ice troll in front of him. To make matters worse, he also had to fight Wardogs and Dreadwings. Rowan had thought he had seen the last of them when he defeated Jack of Blades.
Anyway, Rowan ended up making a pit stop on the way to Snowspire at the Archon’s Shrine where he was to meet Briar Rose. She was there waiting for him when he arrived.
‘There you are!’ she said as he approached. ‘So how was the cruise?’
‘It was rather enjoyable,’ Rowan admitted seriously. ‘I might do it again sometime. You’re welcome to join me, if you’d like.’
‘I’ll pass,’ replied Briar. ‘I’m more of a teleporter girl. It’s a good thing your Seal set the local ones off. I’ve managed to get a good look around and this pile of stones might be worth investigating. See all those inscriptions?’ she added, walking over to a nearby alter. ‘I’m heading back to the Guild to work on the translations.’
‘Have fun with that,’ said Rowan. ‘I’ll be at Snowspire Village if you need me.’
‘Okay, catch you later!
-----HIS TRUE DESTINY-----
When Rowan arrived at Snowspire Village, nearly every citizen stared at him frightfully until they saw Scythe approach him and welcome him.
‘Welcome to Snowspire, young Hero,’ he said. ‘Walk with me. Speak of your journey.’
Rowan complied and by the end of his account, Scythe was worried.
‘So, Summoners have reached Hook Coast,’ he muttered. ‘Then there is less time than I thought, and I have much to tell you. I arrived here many years ago when the Guild believed Jack of Blades would use the Snowspire Oracle in his search for the Sword of Aeons,’ Scythe explained as they entered a building with no roof. ‘Now it is we who are in need of its wisdom.’
The two Heroes stopped before three large stone heads.
‘To speak with it we will need the Glyphs of Inquiry,’ Scythe continued to explain. ‘They were hidden in the age of Archon by four acolytes, who buried them deep in the Haunted Necropolis. I will send word to the Necropolis guards to grant you passage.’
Taking this as his queue to leave, Rowan looked at his map and headed back to the Archon’s Shrine, which he had to pass through to get to the Northern Foothills. As he made his way to the Northern Foothills, he unwittingly walked into a pack of frost balverines that were lying on the ground, blending into the snow. When he discovered this, he merely casted the enflame spell, which blasted the area around him with a wave of fire, allowing him to carry on while the balverines tried to put themselves out. Rowan’s Will power was even stronger now that he had completed his Will training.
Once inside the Northern Foothills, Rowan made his way down the path, before stopping outside a large set of doors built into the side of a mountain. He knocked on the door. They were opened immediately and two guards stepped outside to greet him.
‘Who are you?’ one of them asked suspiciously.
‘I’m from the Heroes Guild. I’m the Hero of Oakvale, Rowan.’
‘Ah, yes. Scythe told us to let you in. Well, I guess you better show him through,’ the guard added to his comrade.
‘Yeah, nice try, Mungo,’ the comrade said coldly. ‘It’s your turn and you know it.’
‘Ah, nuts,’ Mungo grumbled. ‘Alright then, follow me,’ he added to Rowan.
Mungo and Rowan walked in silence, up until they came to a second set of large doors that were open. These doors led into a village. Rowan carelessly walked inside, before stopping when he realised Mungo wasn’t next to him. Frowning, he turned around and saw him standing nervously at the doors.
‘Aren’t you coming?’ asked Rowan.
‘No, this is as far as I’m going,’ Mungo replied, looking anxiously around.
‘Why?’ Rowan inquired suspiciously.
‘This place ain’t safe.’
Rowan looked around the silent town. It looked safe to him.
‘Care to elaborate as to why it ain’t safe?’
‘The whole town’s full of ghosts!’ Mungo informed him. ‘Folks say the poor beggars don’t even realise they’re dead.’
Rowan snorted. He had seen a few bizarre things on his travels, but saying that ghosts existed was taking it too far. After all, there were no such things as ghosts. It was merely superstitious nonsense.
‘Anyway, take care looking for them… Glyphs they’re called, right?’ Mungo added.
‘How did you know I was looking for Glyphs?’ asked Rowan. ‘Did Scythe tell you?’
‘You’re not the first one that’s come rummaging for pieces of carved stone, though the others found more than they bargained for. They are all rotting corpses now. Anyway, have a nice day!’
Rowan watched as the guard ran off before rolling his eyes and going in search for the Glyphs.
As Rowan entered the heart of the village he abruptly stopped and rubbed his eyes to make sure he wasn’t seeing things. He wasn’t. Mungo was right. This was a ghost town, literally. There were ghosts walking around. Rowan took back everything he thought and might have said about ghosts being superstitious nonsense. He couldn’t believe ghosts actually existed.
Shaking his head, Rowan continued his search for the Glyphs he needed.
It took him a few hours to find them. It didn’t help that he found a lot of cursed Glyphs that conjured Wardogs, Dreadwings and frost balverines. He even had to fight some of those Summoners, not to mention there was an ice troll taking up residence in the village. When he had found them all, he teleported back to Snowspire Village and he went back to where he had left Scythe. The ancient Hero was still there waiting for him.
‘I got them,’ Rowan informed him as he drunk a health potion. He had a few nasty wounds from those Summoners.
‘Very good,’ Scythe said approvingly. ‘It’s time we awoke the Oracle from its deathly slumber.’
Scythe led Rowan up onto a platform that was level with the three stone heads. Rowan noticed that the four Glyphs he found matched the four symbols around the stone heads, which were the Oracle.
‘Oh, great Oracle,’ Scythe began, ‘grant us the knowledge we seek! What evil rises in this land?’
The Glyphs in Rowan’s bag disappeared, before reappearing on each of the matching symbols with the stone heads.
‘The prophecy is fulfilled,’ said the middle head. ‘The Guildsman is here.’
‘You follow the footsteps of the one who bore the mask you carry,’ added the stone head to the middle heads right.
‘Jack of Blades has awakened the dormant power of the Summoners,’ said the stone head to the middle head’s left.
‘Jack?’ Rowan looked surprised. ‘Jack of Blades is dead. I killed him myself.’
‘He has used the blood of your family to feed his new shell beyond the Bronze Gates, but now his Soul Mask is in your hands. You must use it to feed the Archon’s Shrine and open the Gate. Go now, and face your destiny.’
‘So, Jack has cheated death once more,’ Scythe muttered thoughtfully, leading Rowan away from the Oracle. ‘Never have we encountered a being like him.’
‘I never thought that I’d have to face him again,’ Rowan muttered bitterly. ‘Tell me, what is the Bronze Gate?’
‘It is a symbol of doom in this land,’ Scythe replied simply. ‘For which, I do not envy you. Return to Briar Rose at the Shrine. Perhaps she can tell you how to use Jack’s Soul Mask. I must return to the Guild. May fate smile on you.’
‘Thank you, sir,’ Rowan sighed, before making his way to the Shrine.
Written: 19 February 2013