Excerpt for First Scrolls of Temperance by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Book of Kayal

First Scrolls of Temperance

By

S.Nileson


Published by Tarek Cherif at Smashwords

Copyright 2017 Tarek Cherif

All Rights Reserved


Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or give away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient or download a free copy during free promotion periods. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy or download a free copy during a giveaway. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Contents

A King and a Scholar

One Eye

Monster

Peace between Tribes

Prim and Proper

Greedy Smith

Temple Builders

Glorious Justice

Temperance’s Silhouette

Whelp

Author’s Note

A King and a Scholar

A man once sought out a king in search for answers. He had walked for many years from kingdom to kingdom, seeking out its leaders and thinkers for knowledge. Said man was one of the very first founders of the Parthan School of Knowledge, and some say even the very first scholar.

The king he sought that fated day was a proud and intelligent man who had had humble beginnings plowing his fields and sowing his crops. His life started with no promises of a throne, or ascribed status to push him upwards on the echelons of society, for he was once a simple son of a simple farmer.

“Your grace,” the man said, bare feet calloused with decades of travel, “I am most honored by your acceptance to meet a simple man such as I.” He bowed deeply to the king seated on a golden throne surrounded with many golden things. It was a royal hall better than any the traveler had ever seen in his long life.

“Your reputations proceeds you, Stotlicus. I have to admit, it is mixed with both good and bad.”

“I hope you have heard more good than bad, your grace.”

“Depends on the source.”

Stotlicus smiled, his white beard hiding most creases on his aged skin and the better part of his smile, and said, “Then you are wiser than most whom I have met, your grace.”

“Only a foolish king would ignore the opinions of his subject, Stotlicus. I assume you know this well. I also assume that you heard enough of me to have had a more complete idea of what kind of king I am. But for now I will ignore the transgression and blame it on a lack of study from your part.”

“Your grace is most kind.” Stotlicus bowed once more, this time his face dropped even closer to the floor, but not quite close enough for his beard to touch it.

“So,” the king said, picking at the raisins in a golden bowl near him, undecided on which one to eat, “will you leave me wondering about what tricky questions you intend to ask of me?” He made his choice and plucked a meaty raisin from the bowl and threw it into his mouth.

“I have heard and read about your life, how you’ve risen from humble beginnings and reached unsurmountable heights. Now that you have been sitting on this throne for some time, revered by your people, allies and enemies alike, you must have had enough time to think of many things.”

“Yes, Stotlicus, I know well of my history. I lived it. Do not tarry and ask your questions.”

Stotlicus swallowed, buying himself time and hoping that he would not regret the next few words he spoke. “What is the point of it all?”

The king smiled, a faint smile that was only noticed by Stotlicus due to keen, unaging eyes. He continued to stare at Stotlicus, making his guest feel his heart beat stronger and heavier, as if it sought to escape his chest, and his forehead sweat profusely.

“It is a good question, Stotlicus, and you were right. I have thought of many things since my ascension to the throne, and my life has not been as changing or interesting, some may even dare to say, ever since. Tell me. Are you willing to sacrifice your life to get your question answered?”

“I am, your grace.”

“Your dedication is admirable.” It was the answer the king wanted to hear. The man indeed lived up to his reputation, the ultimate scholar. The king took a deep breath and said, “To make the most of it.”

One Eye

The Yed of Temperance sat cross-legged on her fine Gallecian pillows. They were stuffed with the highest quality of feathers and covered with the finest, smoothest silk imported from the east. She wore a regal black gown with red vines stitched on it with such craftsmanship that they appeared to be in motion to whoever paid enough attention to them when the Yed walked, climbing from her left leg to her right shoulder. Sitting beside her was a young child, the most recently adopted Child of Light in her retinue of gifted students.

“Today, child, I will tell you of the One Eye King,” the Yed said, her voice just high enough to escape being mistaken for a whisper.

The child, green eyes widened and breath held, nodded quickly. She was no older than eight years, as per the Yed’s judgment when she first saw her, when she had just been rescued from a Turian raiding party who strayed a little too close to the Yed’s domain.

“It is a good story, with many lessons to offer. So sit upright and listen carefully.”

The child straightened herself on her small pillow, knees tucked tightly under her bony buttocks.

“Many years ago, in a land much like ours, a king called Enox lived. At a young age, not much younger than yours, Enox was attacked by one of his father’s ravens believed to have been possessed by a mighty wizard whom his father had made an enemy of. In the quick, savage attack from the beast just moments before it was slain, Enox suffered a wound from the creature’s sharp talons that claimed his right eye. From that day on till he was crowned king, Enox was known through the lands as One Eye.

“To manage his maimed son’s sensitivity towards his disability, Enox’s father made certain that the guards protecting the One Eye prince were picked from those who had suffered the very same misfortune. They all had a missing right eye, each with his own unfortunate tale regarding the empty socket in their head. Being a good king, in many ways but not all, Enox’s father never blinded anyone to serve his son, but in his actions he encouraged Enox’s twisted mind not to accept his fate, convincing him that only those who understood his pain were worthy of serving him.

“Child, sit up straight. Do not let your interest in the story ruin your posture. Yes, that is better. Now, where were we? Ah, I remember. The day came when Enox’s father died and he inherited the throne, and the many responsibilities that came with it.

“At first the other nobles did not object, and they continued to serve him as they had served his father, loyally. Then Enox’s madness slowly started to take over. He would go into the nearby towns, followed by his one-eyed retinue of guards, and pick from the local girls his concubines.

“While the ancient custom had been banned during his father’s rule, not all the nobles supported the cause as vigorously as his father did, for they too had the right to pick their concubines after the king had had his own.

“Without support from the nobles, the peasants and workers had no way to sound their objection to the cruel fate their daughters, and occasionally sons, had been condemned to. Until, that is, they got to know the extent of the king’s punishment and mutilation.

“Over the course of many months, Enox had his servants’ right eyes removed to satisfy the selfish habit his late father had accidently inseminated. A resistance against the One Eye King grew, a fire fed by the many injustices he was responsible for, and he got to be openly defied by the very same followers who had once revered his father, before the stench of Enox’s actions engulfed his name and tarnished it.”

The Yed stood up and in one graceful motion unlocked her crossed legs and took the first step towards a round wooden table meticulously organized. The child’s green eyes followed her with great interest, words never leaving the tip of her tongue.

She watched the Yed produce two shining silver cups from a wooden box on the table, and fill them with water from an equally shining silver pitcher. The Yed took both cups and offered the child one. They both sipped at the cool water before the story continued, the child attempting to mirror the Yed as closely as she could.

“Now, child, Enox’s actions had caught the attention of the nobles, whom had several of their ranks suffer the same judgement as Enox’s servants, and raised an army to march on the One Eye King. They were confident that their thousands would not be matched by their unjust ruler, but to their horror they saw that he had raised an army many times larger and rode out to meet them on the battlefield, daringly showing how little he thought of their display.

“On the eve of battle, the rebellious nobles met to discuss the terms of their surrender, knowing that there was no way they could defeat such a mighty army. Amongst them, a young noble rose. The man, not much older than two decades, confidently smiled and said, ‘I know how to defeat the king.’

“After being mocked by them for some time, each jesting about his naiveté and inexperience, the man calmly said, ‘You’re too old to see clearly, my fellow nobles, and perhaps have forgotten how to make use of your two Fate-given eyes.’ His words earned him many a threatening gaze.

“Having attracted the necessary attention from his comrades, the young noble started telling them of his daring plan. The more he spoke, the more the nobles took him seriously, asking him legitimate questions about a legitimate tactic.

“And when the meeting was concluded, no one thought that the young noble was naïve or inexperienced, and they all agreed with his earlier observation, that they have grown too old to see clearly.

“When the battle was done and the field was bloodied, all the other nobles offered to pledge to the young man their unwavering loyalty. He was then made king, the vanquisher of the One Eye Tyrant. Injustice, it seemed, could not prevail that day in spite of the grand advantage it had.”

The child sat straight, her eyes ever so wide, and she remained quiet for some time until she had gauged that the Yed intended to say no more of her story. “Allmother,” the child said, “how did the vanquisher defeat such large army?”

The Yed smiled and dropped to a knee, gently returning a stray strand of the child’s black hair behind her ear, to where it fell from, and said, “They attacked from the right, of course. You see, child, the problem with having a one-eye-army with no right eyes is that it is half blind.”

Monster

In a fief by the western borders of Gallecia, an age before the Demigod Emperor Servak’s, there was a castle where an earl and his family lived. It was a minor house headed by a minor family, of which few had been mentioned in history, for none of them had deeds far exceeding what was expected of them, and they lived mostly uneventful lives, collecting taxes and running balls.

But one story about the said family, forgotten by many, remembered by few, made its way through the whispers of history’s winds. That tale is of the monster under the bed.

When his daughter was merely seven years of age, for a year since her sixth, she would come to her father complaining of how afraid she was of going to bed, claiming that there was a monster under it that frightened her and chased away her sleep.

At first the earl dismissed her claims as childish mischief, an attempt to spend some more time with her busy father always traveling, always working. When the claims grew too tiresome and the earl had had his fill, he decided to demonstrate to his daughter that no such monster existed, to prove to her that such caprice was well understood by adults.

One night, when the daughter had crawled into her father’s bed, huddling between both her parents, the earl, having had enough, took a deep breath and violently shook his daughter awake, telling her, “I’ll put an end to this ridiculous game of yours.”

Possessed by rage, shouting as loudly as his strong chest allowed, the earl made way to his daughter’s room, the little barefoot girl running after her father, not with the spirit of obedience or fear, but with that of excitement and relief.

The earl, still maintaining a youthful body, got to his knees and lifted the long covers of his daughter’s bed, which had not been even creased or showed any signs of use, and looked under the bed. A moment later he slowly arose, his face ashen and robbed from all color, and looked at his smiling daughter, whose smile in turn faded away in response to her father’s reaction.

From under the bed a voice pled, “Father, father, there is a monster in the room.”

With great restrained the earl controlled his fear and regained his composure. He knew there was a monster amongst the girls, and he knew, too, that his daughter was one of them. But what he did not know was how to set them apart, and he could not leave it to chance that his daughter would be spared whatever judgement he would bestow upon the monster.

“Come out, daughter,” he told the girl under the bed and extended his hand to her, bending his back as low as he could.

The other child who had come into the room with him, stood trembling in the corner at the wrath the earl would bring upon her. She watched in horror as the earl helped the other girl out from under the bed.

“Now,” the earl said, “go stand by the young girl there.”

Reluctantly, the girl who had been under the bed obliged. She too trembled with every step. After going halfway to the corner, she looked back at the earl and was reassured by a nod from him coupled with a forced smile.

It did not take long for the two girls to be standing shoulder to shoulder next to one another, tears forming in their eyes and sweat on the palms of their clutched hands. The two girls were identical in every way.

The earl drew a deep breath and said, “I do not know what manner of monster invaded this castle, and little do I care about it.” He approached the two girls, forcing them back towards the stone wall, and knelt when he was close enough to touch them, should he extend his arms to their fullest.

“One of you is my daughter, and one a monster. I speak to the monster, whichever one of you she is, and swear on my honor that no harm should befall you within these walls as long as no harm is intended from you upon us.”

The earl opened his arms and pulled the two girls, both his daughters now by adoption and blood, and hugged them tightly. He no longer needed to control his fear, for both girls felt just as his daughter did in his embrace, and both embraced him back just as warmly.

***

Many years passed and the girls grew healthy and pretty. The story of the monster was all but forgotten, and a new truth was fabricated and spread to hide the origins of the earl’s blessing, for he had grown fond and proud of both his daughters equally.

Siggy and Stiggy were their names, both new ones given on that fateful night when the duplicity was discovered. His daughter’s original name was discarded, and as the years passed had faded away deep into the crevices of memory.

One day, when the girls got to an age in which their nature necessitated marriage, especially for those of such station, suitors began presenting themselves to the earl’s daughters, complimenting offers to both of them. One such suiter, a duke’s son called Lionel, had managed to steal Siggy’s heart, and in spite of the earl’s objections, continued to court her in secret.

Whenever he could, he would venture near the earl’s fiefdom and sneak up to Siggy’s window at night, carefully navigating the forests and brushes with such mastery that even the best of trackers could not uncover his trail, and wake the charming earl’s daughter.

“Siggy, Siggy,” he would call from behind her window’s clear glass, softly so that his voice would not disturb her much.

When his persistence bore fruit, Siggy would gently turn around - for she liked to sleep on her right side, a position which had her back facing the window - and lazily open her deep blue almond eyes sparkling with delight at the sight of her lover’s moonlit face.


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