Sacred Crystals

BTW, this story was co-written by Summer Wolf. I wrote the even numbered chapters; Summer Wolf wrote the odd-numbered ones (and did an excellent job, I might add. :))


Lord Sigue sat in the dining hall of the castle, his eyes studying the fine carvings on the walls and the ceilings. He debated whether or not such exquisite figures could have been even carved by hand or whether magic was involved with their creation. Then, finally the man in front of Lord Sigue stopped his endless prattle and awaited a response. Buying himself a few
moments, Lord Sigue took a bite of the slightly dry meat. The cook was either inferior to Lord Sigue's own cook back at in his home or was attempting to show his or her disproval of the occupation of Glendrail's castle.

"Sir, the seer?" The man asked, attempting to hide his own impatience from the somewhat cruel but insane war lord.

"The seer betrayed her alliance with the Phoenix Council to tell us how to beat Glendrail's capital. Why should we expect her not to do the same thing to us?

"But sir, the queen might know where the seer took the crystal," the man said, realizing that his lord had tuned him out earlier.

"Kiel, if you manage to get her to tell you information about the seer and the crystal, then I'll give you Glendrail to rule," Lord Sigue said before taking a sip of the wine. The wine itself tasted bitter but it very well could have been the conversation that soured his appetite. Who wanted to think about their failure to capture the crystal like they had been ordered?
They also did not know whether or not the seer was even involved with the mysterious disappearance with the sacred crystal.

"Yes sire," Kiel said as he bowed reverently and started to move towards the thick wooden doors on the side for servants to enter and exit.

"Kiel, another thing," Sigue called out as he placed his eating utensils on the plate and pushed his chair back, "find the cook who made this breakfast and have him prepared to be executed with the others at 2 o'clock."

"But…Understood sire," Kiel said as he quickly made his way to the door. He did not bow, Lord Sigue thought with some slight amusement.

"Oh Kiel," Lord Sigue called out and smiled as he saw Kiel stop dead in his tracks, he had full knowledge of his earlier error. "I was just kidding." Relief washed over Kiel's face as he barely ran out into the main hallway.

While planning on some methods that might make the queen talk without any physical effects, Kiel realized one thing about Lord Sigue's earlier comment. He did not explain whether or not he was joking about the cook's
death sentence or giving Kiel the kingdom as a reward.

One Week Ago

The shadowy halls of the castle were empty save for the whispers of the specters, ghost-like servants that were made of an ancient magic long before the crystals came to being. At the most, there were fifteen people who remained in the castle after the cries of the enemy armies reached the capital city. Most of the guards were assisting the troops the best they could, the servants were with them or at home with their families, and the nobility who had made their home in the castle had chosen to flee to a safe haven in the South. The young queen paused before a thick door, her gray eyes closing slightly as she reached into one of her deep pockets and touched a blood-red crystal.

"What if it is a trap?" She whispered to herself as she removed the crystal, a treasure of House Kitra. The crystals were not the only source ofmagic, but they were the best source of it. Due to their immense numbers, nearly everyone from common folk to the great royal family could afford to have at least one crystal; however, the amount of power varied from controlling candle flames to supposedly controlling entire wildfires. This crystal in Queen Akantha's hand was the one that was said to have controlled the wildfire sweeping through the plains in Glendrail. Slowly, Akantha leaned her shoulder against the door and pushed. When she felt how it resisted, her heart fell slightly. The messengers must not have gotten through, Akantha thought bitterly for the door showed no sign of having been opened since the days when her great-grandfather ruled. After a few more moments of struggle, the door gave into the young ruler's demands and it creaked opened. Smiling in triumph (the last one that would be hers for a few years), she entered the study.

"Finally," a young woman called from the chair and despite the amount of self control that Akantha possessed, the queen cried out in surprise. Scolding herself, Akantha wondered exactly why she was surprised. It was not like the visitor was unexpected. The girl leaned against the desk in front of the large stain glass window, her back towards Akantha. Akantha's right hand slid into her pocket for the crystal while her left hand went towards the dagger on her girdle. Unlike her younger brothers,
Akantha showed little talent for weapons so the dagger was truly useless.

"Prove you are the messenger the mercenary Talas sent," Akantha insisted, her gray eyes studying the woman's black hair. The letters claimed that the messenger would have brown hair, tan skin, and blue eyes and Akantha doubted that Talas would change messengers without first alerting her.

"My glamour wore off awhile ago," she said as she held up an empty bottle, "so I will not look exactly like dear Talas said I would." Turning slowly around, Akantha prepared herself to show no signs of weakness or surprise. The girl indeed did not look like what Talas claimed she would, but she appeared to be a combination of what her normal features and the glamour.
One eye was a shade of lavender while the other was slowly turning from blue to the lavender shade, besides the tan splotches left over from the glamour, her skin was paler than any others Akantha had ever seen before and her facial features seemed distorted slightly. "I misjudged your arrival," the girl said quickly when she noticed Akantha studying her unusual eye color. "I do that quite often, actually. It is harder to see the exact time and place an event will occur if at all."

"Here, take the crystal," Akantha said as she removed her hand from the dress pocket. The girl reached across the desk and swiped it from Akantha's hands.

"It feels kind of light," she said as she started to toss it up and down. "Are you certain this is the sacred rock or something?"

"Stop that! What if you drop it? And yes, it is the sacred crystal of the House Kitre," Akantha said as she gripped her knife tightly in fear of the girl dropping and shattering the crystal.

"Do not worry, once one of your ancestors dropped it from a back of the dragon and it survived the fall. So, let's see, this would be the third stone I have collected? That sounds about right," the girl said as she continued to toss it up and down.

"What sacred crystal remains?" Akantha asked as she attempted to ignore the crystal.

"Well, House Nolan refuses to give up the sacred water crystal and will probably join against your army within a few days. Then, I have to track down those pesky light and dark crystals that seem to have disappeared." the girl trailed off as Akantha's face filled with surprise.

"You mean, those two crystals exist?" Akantha asked she recalled the old stories that told of them being used; however, the two kingdoms of old no longer existed after the two bloodlines disappeared along with the crystals. One of the kingdoms became the Fae kingdom after a group of Elves declared themselves separated themselves from the Elven nations and the other was controlled by a group of barbarian lords. The elements of light and shadow were repeatedly dismissed as even having existed at one point for there were no common crystals found of them and those who claimed to have either shadow or light magic were burned at the stake for their "lies."

"Exist? Maybe. Existed, yes." The girl shrugged as she held the crystal tightly in her hand. "Tell me, queen, can you actually use this? Most of the other countries made me use my beloved, uh "talents" to get their , here you are and giving me this precious family heirloom without a fight? The other two wanted to use it in battle against Lord Sigue's troops."

"What are you suggesting?" Akantha asked, fear creeping into her heart for she had an idea where this stranger was heading. "That I do not want my kingdom to win?"

"No, not at all," the girl smiled now, "I was just curious to know if the rumors surrounding your mother's alleged affair were true. Well, the king'stoo but I am more curious about the former queen's."

"Leave now! You insult me when I am doing you a favor? Leave!" Akantha felt her face reddened with her anger while the girl shrugged. Then, something happened that Akantha was unprepared for. A slender crack appeared in the crystal's smooth surface. "What happened?" Akantha asked, slightly upset with how much fear could be heard in her voice.

"This?" The girl asked as she traced the crack with her finger. "It would that either I am stronger now or this crystal is weaker without the other two broken. Oh do not look like that, it is only for a little while."

"The other two are broken?"

"To prevent Lord Sigue, well, more like someone who is working behind him, from using them."

"Can you fix it?" Akantha snapped.

"Not me. No, I can only break the crystals. Well, I better get going before the fighting moves any closer to the city," the girl said, quickly hoping to get off the topic. She pushed past the nobility and dashed for the door.

"Wait!" Akantha called, slightly regretting her earlier order to leave. The girl did not wait and Akantha was not a runner. Walking to the window, Akantha let her forehead rest against the cool pane as she wondered exactly what she had done. The girl was right when she said that Akantha could not use the sacred crystal without being part of the sacred bloodline. Still, Akantha was a talented mage when it came to the ordinary crystals and she knew the history of the crystals nearly as well as the scholars who dedicated their lives to the study of them. Sighing, Akantha could not decide whether or not the risk of breaking all the crystals was worth the risk of Lord Sigue getting them.