“Dastan! DASTAN!” Edvard shouted out, hoping his friend would hear his cries. Edvard was an old man, keeper of the royal library, fascinated with the ancient histories of fallen cities especially the once great kingdom of Asreldion.
“DASTAN!” He cried out again followed by a harsh cough. Grumbling under his breath he shuffled towards the table, placing a large leather bound book against his desk. A loud smack and cloud of dust blew out from under the pages as he squinted closely to read the ancient runes.
“Where is that boy” He grumbled, disappointed that he would be missing this great discovery. Edvard had been the keeper of the library since he was a young lad, and in his sixty years, he had never come across this book before. His old heart battered against his chest in excitement at the thought, he had finally come across the key to discovering Asreldion.
A once mighty Kingdom that vanished after its destruction against Zal-Kath. Zal-Kath was a king who left nothing but destruction and chaos in his wake. His memory distorted as a haunting figure that lurked under one’s bed. Asreldion was written to be a kingdom of discovery, with knowledge beyond one man’s imagination. It had been rumored that the Gods had blessed the King of Asreldion with a jewel of immortality and great power.
The true story had been lost between generations and was now nothing but a folks tale. There were few who held hope onto the old prophecy and went to seek out the jewel, yet they never returned. Slowly peeling the pages over, Edvard watched in awe at the clear black inked markings. His understanding of the ancient Asreldion runes was rusty. As he scanned down the page he let out a whine at the sight of smudged ink.
“Hiä ghæï lmœ ЄЂẅè Uráet.” He stumbled over his pronunciation before pausing to allow his brain to translate the words. The God’s gifts remain hidden from eyes. Clearing his throat, he didn’t care that no one was in the room with him as he slowly scanned his fingers across the page.
“The God’s gift remains hidden from eyes, Where the immortal one lies, Upon the day one true sets forth, Will begin his journey north, Das—“ He trailed off realizing what was coming next. Jumping up and down and quickly running as fast as his legs could take him at his age, he went in search for Dastan.
Edvard was confident that the book came from Asreldion and the prophecy he had just read made him bubble with excitement. His one wish was to see Asreldion with his own eyes before passing into the next life. He was one of the many who held onto the folk tale, but not for the wealth and power, but for the knowledge that the library would hold.
He groaned at his old age from the slight aches his body felt from going up a set of stairs too quickly, how he wished he was young again. The soldiers pay no attention to him as he scurried on by.
The sun was glowing brightly, trees were in full bloom, the market was alive, everyone was dressed full of colour and life. Colourful flags were pinned from house to house. Kids were laughing in the courtyard, music and songs were flooding the streets. Groups of people were dancing in the square as many men sat on the edge drinking ale, laughing.
It was the King’s birthday and was a requirement that everyone danced and drank in the courtyard to celebrate. Men didn’t mind the day away from labour as they greedily latched onto the ale provided by the King. Those on the sidelines clapped in time to the drums whilst more and more couples joined the folk dances.
Women used the King’s birthday as a time to pull out their special bright coloured dresses to attract a husband. It was considered good luck to meet your future spouse on the King’s birthday. The King took great pleasure in bestowing and blessing those who were fortunate at the festival.
Edvard shoulders were hunched forward from his constant reading as he struggled to look over the crowds. Glancing over to where the children danced out of time and made flower crowns he noticed Isadora. She was Dastan’s sister with soft black hair that was currently being braided by the young children.
“Isadora! Where is that boy you call a brother?” He questioned as he noticed her paling skin. Isadora was sick, slowly she grew weaker and struggled to stay on her feet for long periods of time. Edvard felt sorry for the young child of twenty-six summers, no man would marry her. They knew she was a lost cause, not strong enough to walk to the well, let alone bare children.
Her tired eyes slowly moved in the direction of the local tavern. Edvard scowled to himself before hobbling over in that direction. He was shocked however when he saw Dastan leaving the tavern dousing the remainder of his ale before stalking over to a simple maiden and dragging her to the courtyard for the next dance.
Dastan worked for the King’s armory as a blacksmith. However on his days off he was a hunter, a good one and he liked to flaunt it when he could. Ladies rumored around that he had once been in the King’s army, yet Dastan would never agree nor deny it. He had shoulder length black hair which he kept maintained, sharp sky blue eyes and olive skin. His muscular physique showed through his clothing from the harsh labour he worked in.
Everyone stood watching as the younger couples got into position before the music started. Dastan’s partner stood her back to his chest, her left arm out with his hand holding hers, the other arm on her stomach with his hand over hers, entwining their fingers. Her left foot was pointed with her knee slightly bent.
When the music began everyone’s feet and arms had a mind of their own as he gently spun her, their bodies extremely close. They skipped and danced, and soon they spun one arm around each other’s waist.
Dastan let her spin out and turning to accept his new partner, as they came together with their hands connected at arm’s length before coming closer, one arm bent the other straight spinning before changing arm and direction. Soon her arm was wrapped around Dastan’s neck and his arm around her waist as they spun before doing the same in the other direction.
Spinning her out and pulling her back, her back rested against his chest as their arms found their position once more. Skipping a few times, they began to spin as she jumped with Dastan holding her easily. The crowd clapped loudly as he laughed slightly before he gently eased his partner back to the ground. Kissing her palm in farewell he noticed Edvard on the sidelines waving for him to come over.
“Have you found something?” Dastan’s deep voice questioned. Edvard’s grin and attempts to drag him along, made him pick up his pace. The old man struggled to catch his breath once they had re-entered the library. Placing a chair at the desk Dastan helped Edvard sit down before glancing at the thick book with a frown.
“Is this new?” Dastan questioned but Edvard only shook his head.
“No my boy! It’s hundreds of years old. I think it belongs to the Asreldion library” Edvard informed causing Dastan to raise an eyebrow in surprise and slight disbelief.
“What does it say?” He questioned quietly.
“The God’s gift remains hidden from eyes, Where the immortal one lies, Upon the day one true sets forth, Will begin his journey north, Dastan’s—“ Edvard started before pausing to glance at the shocked young man beside him.
“Dastan’s heart will be at a test, When faced with Zal-Kath’s crest, The Keeper of books and woes will be put to the part, To save the destined one’s heart….” He continued before trailing as he sighed. They had reached where the ink had been smudged, never knowing what else had been written.
“Zal-Kath? As in the tale we tell---“ Dastan started only to have Edvard shake his head and wave his hands.
“Of course not! Zal-Kath, the King who brought destruction to the world” Edvard grumbled, letting out a string of curses under his breath. Had the boy never listened to anything he taught him?
“Don’t you see? The tales said the jewel was a gift from the gods and Asreldion was the great Kingdom of the North! Just imagine what we might learn from the books in their libraries….”Edvard trailed off with anticipation.
“Do you think….think it’s possible….that they would have a cure for Isadora in their library?” Dastan questioned slowly, not wanting to allow himself false hope.
“Anything is possible my boy” Edvard grinned before leaning back in his wooden chair. The only issue was if they wanted to go in search of Asreldion, is that they would have to get permission from the King. He wouldn’t let them go on a quest without proof that this prophecy wasn’t nonsense.
“What else is in this book? A map? Clues? Anything that will tell us where the lost Kingdom of Asreldion is?” Dastan questioned as Edvard gave him a look. One he knew all too well. Patience. Patience wasn’t Dastan’s strong suit.
“We’ll find something Dastan” Edvard promised as they both jumped to the sound of a book being placed onto a desk.
“I hope so. If you do find anything that will reveal the location of the lost Kingdom of Asreldion, I will personally give you men and anything you might need for the journey” The King informed them as they both quickly bowed in respect. The King hid his age well, his face was still youthful yet his eyes showed his wisdom of a man who had just turned forty-five.
“We wouldn’t want that knowledge to go to waste, Edvard?” He questioned with a slight sly smile.
“Of course your highness. Dastan! Get me some parchment and ink!” Edvard instructed allowing his apprentice to frown. Dastan hadn’t been ordered about since he was seventeen summers, it felt strange now being a man of thirty-two.
“What for?” He questioned as Edvard waved his hands around, dismayed that the boy couldn’t read his mind.
“We have to write down the translation! Excuse us your majesty, we will report any findings” Edvard promised as the King nodded before exiting the library with his cloak trailing behind him. Doing as he was told, Dastan scribed the translations, whilst Edvard taught him the basics of reading the runes, never knowing when that knowledge could come in handy.