Chapter 2 - The Sage and the Key
Clint awoke and examined his surroundings quickly. He was lying in a small
yet comfortable bed in a compact room. The window on the far wall was open,
allowing the warm rays of the sun fill the room. "How long have I been
out?" he thought to himself. The previous day was still uncertain in his
mind. What had he witnessed in the village? Who were the Titans of the
Vandal Heart? Where are the rest of them? The questions circulated his mind
over and over, but he could not reach a true judgement. He didn't even know
who had attacked the village previously. Everything was in disarray.
Looking at himself, Clint realised he was undressed and cleaned. His chest
was bound in a large bandage. When he tried to move, the bones underneath
the bandages ached. The pain would be unbearable for many, but Clint had no
choice but to deal with it. His mission was just beginning and he greatly
desired to seek consul with Kira and Zohar. He was going to need help.
Calling upon his might, he swung around and placed his feet on the ground.
Rising to a standing stance, he stretched his limbs. Hanging on the wall
were his clothes. His sword was gone. The sword that had brought him
through the Crimson age. The sword that had slain many evildoers. Broken.
Destroyed by a single enemy. But it was unimportant. Swords could be
replaced. Pride could not.
Quickly, he dressed and walked slowly towards the wooden door. He placed
his hand on the gold doorknob and twisted it in his hand. Creaking loudly,
he pushed open the door to reveal an alter before a huge crucifix. In front
were rows of benches. Some villagers were sitting and praying. But only a
few. There were only a few left who could pray. This village would never be
the same again. But Clint vowed vengeance right there and then. He would
not allow the deaths of innocents be in vain. He would stop this new evil,
at whatever cost.
It was as this thought flashed through his mind that he saw his friends
again. Kira and Zohar walked towards him from a door on the opposite side
of the room. Zohar was dressed in his usual black robe and was aided as
always with his long, wooden staff. From beneath his robe, a sword was
visible hanging from the belt on his undergarments. Clint was surprised. He
had never known Zohar to carry such a weapon. Kira looked as beautiful as
always, wearing her strange travel clothes. A brown dress of sorts, Clint
had always admired her flamboyance and her ability to disregard the
opinions of others. Some of the many reasons he loved he so much.
Eventually they reached him, and Clint smiled.
"Are you alright?" said Zohar from underneath his long, white hair.
"Better than can be expected," said Clint, glad to see his old friend
returned after a long time. "What happened to Joseph? Is he alright?"
Zohar spoke assertively. "The titan is gone from here, as is the boy."
"Wha." Clint was annoyed at his inability to protect the young traveller.
"Were is the titan now?"
"He simply disappeared. It looks like that he was the Titan of Armour. It
would explain the potency of my magic in the battle."
Clint looked into Zohar's face. He looked strange. Knowledgeable. "You know
of these things, these titans?" asked Clint.
"Come, Clint," said Kira, "Zohar will explain everything soon. Follow us."
Clint nodded. Zohar and Kira turned and walked towards the door they had
entered through with Clint closely following. His eyes wandered over the
mourners. They would never see their loved ones again. This village was
nearing its end. Soon, the people would move on. Refugees. Victims of war.
They entered the room. Clint found himself in a square room. In the centre
was a round table with chairs surrounding it. Zohar rested his staff on a
wall and sat down at the table. Kira to sat down. Clint, following suit,
did the same. He placed himself near Kira. He had a feeling that what he
was about to hear would be disturbing.
"So," started Clint, "what is going on?"
Zohar looked at Clint. "As you know Clint, Grog and I have been travelling
for two years now. Along that timeline, we have come across many different
things. Treasures, creatures and, sometimes, great peril."
"I have been following your diaries," said Clint.
"It was good of the state to publish our journeys. Something that would
have been impossible under the Spites regime. But about a month ago, Grog
and I took our separate ways."
"I heard about that," said Clint, cautiously, "what happened?"
"We discovered that something was going to happen in two different places
at the exact same time. Something very dangerous.."
* * *
A month earlier.
".whether we will travel together again is unknown. Our business is our
own, and we must remain true to ourselves now. We will always be friends,
and I'm quite sure this will not be my last entry. I just hope the readers
of this paper will remain ever patient for our return. This is Zohar
Zohar sat up from the chair and looked at the letter on the desk. He had
been living in Glasgow city for two days now, and was very happy with the
hotel accommodation that he had rented. The room wasn't too large, but was
big enough for him. Long had he desired to rest in a room such as this,
with wonderful red wallpaper and soft, warm beds. After all, he wasn't
getting any younger, and journeying was beginning to show its signs. But he
could not rest for long. Things were about to change.
"Is it done?" asked Grog intently.
"Yes," said Zohar, "I can't say I'm happy about lying like this."
"Would you prefer mass hysteria?" asked Grog, rhetorically. "We have to
take care of this quietly. You heard what that old sage said."
"I know," said Zohar subdued by Grog's decisiveness, "but lies. Lies are
not good for anybody. Its what we fought to destroy."
"And now we must fight to protect that freedom," said Grog proudly, "it's
up to us, Zohar. If we don't do this, then the life of the world is at
stake. Can't you at least think of that?"
"You're once again right, my friend," replied Zohar, who began to place the
document into the large red envelope.
"Then why are you arguing?"
Zohar sealed the envelope with a wax stamp. "I just didn't want to lie.
Xeno lied to me, once, and I was thrown into a completely different plane
"Xeno." Grog's memory recalled the fight.
"So you see, Grog, I am not fond of them."
"I understand," said Grog, nodding, "I promise, I won't ask you to lie any
"That's good," said Zohar with a smile, "I wasn't planning on letting you
The two shared a saddened laugh. They feared they might never see each
other again, as the missions they were about to uptake were both highly
dangerous and hugely unpredictable. According to their intelligence, they
were about to face forces stronger than either had ever imagined.
Zohar stood up from his chair and thrust the letter at Grog. Grog
grudgingly took it and looked at the envelope. He smirked.
"Your handwritings looking a bit off," he said, as Zohar picked up his
staff, "you'll have to get that sorted if you wanna go to school my boy!"
Grog laughed loudly to himself, but Zohar remained silent. "C'mon man, it
was just a joke."
Zohar looked at the ground, his heart pounding with distress. "I know my
friend. I'm just.afraid. This could be the la."
"HEY!" Grog interrupted, even louder than his laugh, "never say last! This
is not the end! Believe me!"
"I want to, my friend, I want to! But when you can do what I can do, you
"When Xeno was my master, before he was twisted into evil, he told me that
as my power increased, so would my visions." Grog looked at him,
confounded. "Everybody has dreams, and these dreams can be interpreted. But
the dreams of a powerful mage are not interpreted, they are believed. We
see the future!"
"What? Why didn't you tell me this before?"
"Because it is mage law to keep what we see to ourselves. Only in the most
desperate times do we reveal our premonitions. That is why I was always
confident that Dolf would be defeated. Because I knew. And I know something
will happen now."
"Tell me," pleaded Grog, "I must know what you see!"
"I will tell you," said Zohar, "For the vision itself was not wholly clear.
It came to me last night. I saw our friends weeping. I saw a warrior
dressed in kingly armour wreaking havoc upon innocents. And worst of all, I
saw six knights, all dressed in heavy armour, worshipping the kingly
warrior. I fear that one of us will fail."
"Have your visions always come true?"
"Nine out of ten of the time, yes."
"So you are never completely sure that they will come true?"
"I suppose, but."
"No buts!" Grog interrupted again, "If you're not sure, then they may not
happen. I promise you now, I will not fail! Will you promise too?"
"I." Zohar looked at his friend. In all the time he had known him, Grog
never looked so earnest. He could not disappoint him. "I promise."
Grog smiled and grabbed his sword and shield from a nearby wall. He hung
his shield around his torso and placed the sword into its scabbard. With a
nod, he turned around and left the room, closing the door behind him.
Zohar became melancholic. "Farewell, my friend."
* * *
Before leaving the hotel, Zohar requested that the letter be sent direct to
Shumeria as soon as possible by the hotel. With a bit of bartering, he
eventually convinced the hotelkeeper to send, though it cost him a few gold
pieces. But the money meant nothing to Zohar. It never had done. Zohar had
never had any feeling or desire for material goods. He only desired peace,
and was willing to give everything, even his own life, for it.
When he emerged into the city, he ignored it all. The hustle and bustle of
city life, the children chasing birds in the streets, the stall keepers
offering their trade. He just walked past them, hood over his head,
thinking. Remembering. The sage in the dojo of this town had been dying
this past week and requested to see the two travellers who were staying
together in the Scarlet Hotel. When asked for a better description, he
"The men who helped put out the fire."
It wasn't long before two monks arrived at the hotel, requesting the
presence of Grog and Zohar. Full of wonderment, they eagerly anticipated
their meeting with the old sage. They arrived at the dojo soon after they
had been met. Before they saw him, one of the monks warned them to not
speak in the presence of the master. When they were brought in front of the
aged master, he spoke:
"Long have I desired to look upon the emissaries of light. You are those of
which I speak. One of you is surprised, yet the other content with this
revelation. I know how you feel. I remember when an old man told my friend
and me exactly what I'm about to tell you. Two thousand years ago, the holy
prophet Toroah and his followers tried to create peace in the world. But
before his death, he had realised that the world was not fit enough for
survival. In his madness, he had six arch-mages of extreme power seal
themselves in a hidden fortress. He then forged the mighty sword Vandal
Heart and placed some of his life-force within it. He then scattered six
relics, each representing one of the mages across the world. Shortly before
his on death, he realised that the will of man wanted to survive, so he
created two locks. One was placed on the southern most continent of the
world, the other to the north. He granted the keys of these locks to his
twin brothers, Mindar and Mistar. The placed the keys in there temples and
asked what to do with them. Toroah told them that after every century that
follows the day of his death, the two locks will open, unless they keys are
placed inside before the moon disappears on that day. If they failed to do
so, then the seven relics would awaken and take a host. Using this host
body, they would travel to the fortress to awaken their true selves. Alone
and leaderless, the six titans would destroy the world mindlessly, but
under the control of he who wields the Vandal Heart, they would have enough
power to resurrect Toroah, and begin the world anew. In just over a month,
when the moon rises for the third time from now, the locks will open. You
two must stop this from happening."
At this he paused and revealed from a pocket in his robe two keys, one
gold, one silver.
"I place in your hand, mighty mage, the key of Mindar." He gave Zohar the
gold key. "I place in your hand, brave knight, the key of Mistar." He gave
Grog the silver key.
"This is a test of all men. If you overcome this task, men shall be given
another chance. If not, then he who wields the sword of Toroah must have a
mighty heart indeed, for it is he that shall judge us all. Finally, I want
you to take this."
From the same pocket were he held the keys, he took out a roll of
parchment, stained with age.
"This information may prove useful when the worst comes to the worst.
Please, for the sake of us all, don't fail." And he died right there in
front of them. To say the least, both men were shocked in some way or
another, but both were now aware of a purpose. A young monk led them out of
the room and gave them the locations of the two locks.
"Keeper of Mindar, you must travel north to the plain of sand. There, when
the moon rises, you must hold the key aloft and await the judgement." Zohar
nodded and concealed the key within his pocket.
"Keeper of Mistar, you must travel south to the ice glaciers. There, when
the moon rises, you must hold the key aloft and await judgement." Grog
looked at Zohar. Zohar nodded. Nervously, he placed the key within the bag
he carried on his shoulder.
"Go now," said the monk, bowing, "the Ark of Toroah must not be allowed to
They left the dojo soon after. As Zohar continued through the city, he
recalled some of the things Grog said shortly after.
"How can the moon rise in two places on either side of the planet?"
"Why didn't anybody know about this before?"
"How old was that guy?"
"Were are the keyholes? Will they just appear?"
"What the hell is going on?"
Zohar had though the questions to be irrational at the time, but as he
journeyed out of the city into the wild, he found himself asking the same
questions to himself. He was scared. Something he hadn't been in a very
long time. But he couldn't allow himself to disbelieve his task. Whether it
be true or not, he could not risk the death of innocents, and he knew Grog
felt the same. All that was left was hope.
* * *
The moon rose in the sky, just like the monk had said. All around him, the
sand raged in a violent storm, though there was not a cloud in the sky.
Zohar had travelled many leagues, and, finally, he reached the continent of
sand. One of the few places he didn't travel to with Grog, Zohar had only
ever heard about this place in books and diaries published in Shumeria. The
drawings never did it justice either. It was much more frightening then the
mage ever anticipated.
As the moon reached its highest point in the sky, Zohar reached into his
pocket. For a minute, he thought he had lost it, and that it had fallen out
of his pocket as he had travelled. He was relieved when he finally found
it. With all of his might, though the task required almost none, he
retrieved the key from inside his pocket and thrust it into the air. At
that moment, a bolt of lightning pierced the key and ran through his body.
It caused him no pain, but he could not move. The bolt ran through his
blood, filling him with knowledge and memories that were not his. For the
moments he stood still there, he became different people. Those who had
come before him. The many travellers who had preceded him over the
centuries. The control of his body was granted to another.
Slowly, his body turned around. A small golden box, held in the air by an
unknown force, bore the lock he sought after. After looking at it for a
short time, he moved towards it. The confidence of his uncontrollable
motions echoed not the danger in his mind. His hand lifted and pressed the
key into the hole. His hand turned - the lock clicked.
Suddenly, the key disintegrated, turning into a powder-like substance. It
slipped from his hand, and landed on the ground, mingling with the golden
sand. The seconds that passed as he waited for something to happen seemed
like lifetimes. His heart pounded, but his stance never changed. Whoever
was controlling him did not share Zohar's own despair.
At last, a voice spoke form the heavens, piercing the sky with its roar.
"Who comes forth to accept the fate of man?" shouted the voice. It was
unrecognisable, but seemed familiar in a strange way.
"I am Mindar, holy brother of Toroah and keeper of the Key of Flame," said
Zohar loudly, though it wasn't his voice.
The box in front of Zohar suddenly began to shake violently. Zohar watched
as it jittered about in mid-air, rumbling with an unknown rage. A bead of
sweat ran down Zohar's face as he anticipated the contents of the box. He
could only imagine death or disease or something equally as destructive
emerging from the box. But the one thing he hoped for was for Grog to be
doing the exact same thing, at that exact same time.
After about thirty seconds of rumbling and jerking, the box finally halted
all activity. Zohar gulped. He was himself again. He was in control. Mindar
had left his body.
The door swung open. Zohar blinked. Nothing. The box was empty, save for
some powder left by the key. Zohar wondered if this was it. He must've
succeeded, or something terrible would have happened around him, he thought
to himself. Then, the voice spoke again.
"You gonna buy the watch or what?" said the merchant, reddened in the face.
Zohar had been holding the small, golden pocket watch in front of his eyes
for ten minutes. But his mind had been elsewhere for that time. He was no
longer in the desert. He had failed.
"No, thank you," said Zohar placing the watch on the table in front of him.
"Damn timewasters."muttered the merchant as Zohar turned and walked down
the market road. He recognised the busy street, the old cobbles, and the
foul smell of horse dirt. He was in Kerachi, trade town and centre of
Suddenly, he remembered the parchment. Removing it from his pocket, he
unravelled it in the street and scanned it quickly. Then he knew. He had to
get to Kilioppi Village, and soon.
* * *
"Do you still have the parchment?" asked Clint.
Zohar nodded and removed it from his pocket once more. Laying the aged
paper on the desk, he unrolled it. On the windowsill were two large ankhs
on stands. He removed them and placed one on either end of the old
document, keeping it open. On it was a passage and an illustration. The
language was indiscernible to Clint and Kira, so Zohar read it aloud.
"The failure shall result in this: - the Vandalier shall decimate his home
and awaken the titan of armour. He will sing the requiem for his life and
awaken the titan of mage. He will curse those who roam the forest and
awaken the titan of blade. He will open the door of hate and awaken the
titan of flight. He will become one with the night and awaken the titan of
shadow. He will raise the Holy Ark and awaken the titan of death. Then,
Toroah will reawaken and mankind will be doomed."
The illustration appeared to be a plan of Toroah's tomb, with six discs
surrounding a gold coloured disc. "The six are probably the titans, while
the gold one is probably Toroah," Zohar explained to Clint and Kira.
"What does it mean, 'Vandalier'?" said Kira, with desperation and a tremble
in her voice. "Does it mean."
"It all makes sense, now," said Clint, "Ash was born in Killiopi during the
revolution. His father was killed with Arris, but he and his mother
survived. He was raised in Shumeria, but this was his home."
"I know," said Zohar.
"You appeared in Kerachi, right?" said Kira. "Didn't you think to bring
Diego? He could've helped!"
"I looked for him, but the keeper in his fathers store said they were both
away on business."
"Damn!" said Clint. "What do the other things mean?"
"I 'm not sure," replied Zohar, "but I'm sure we'll hear."
The door of the room sprang open. The old priest was at the handle.
"Come quickly," was his breathless greeting, "we need your help!"