Chronicles of Absolution

Status: 1st Draft

Chronicles of Absolution

Status: 1st Draft

Chronicles of Absolution

Book by: Friedrich Wrath

Details

Genre: Fantasy

Content Summary


A boy grown in pain and despair is thrusted in a great adventure that will forever reshape the world of Verdance. A powerful, terrible, and thought dead emperor is resurrected. Will the boy
ultimately align with the emperor's vision to raze Verdance to the ground and build anew on its ashes? Or can redemption be found?



Imagine Indiana Jones meet Dante's Inferno!

 

 

Content Summary


A boy grown in pain and despair is thrusted in a great adventure that will forever reshape the world of Verdance. A powerful, terrible, and thought dead emperor is resurrected. Will the boy
ultimately align with the emperor's vision to raze Verdance to the ground and build anew on its ashes? Or can redemption be found?



Imagine Indiana Jones meet Dante's Inferno!

Chapter Content - ver.2

Submitted: July 03, 2021

Comments: 1

In-Line Reviews: 17

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Chapter Content - ver.2

Submitted: July 03, 2021

Comments: 1

In-Line Reviews: 17

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Styg grabbed the ledge and pulled himself up to the breached stained glass. The opening was wide enough for him to slip through easily. Or so he thought. As he climbed through, tiny shards of glass tore his charcoal black trousers and sank into his palms. Startled by the sharp pain he lost his balance and tumbled headfirst onto an oaken floor.

He groaned quietly after he landed. As he pushed himself up with his elbows a cold metallic object pricked his left arm. He picked up the object, curious and a bit dizzy from his topple. The piece was a dagger rusted along the edge of the blade. Styg paused, confused. He glanced up and regained all clarity with the realization that a lifeless man was slouched in an ornate chair behind a thrashed desk.

His shriveled and blackened skin wrapped tightly around his bones. Eroded rings were sprawled out beneath his hand except for one innately carved ring with a draconic figure in the center.

Styg gulped then stood. Blood from the man’s slit throat stained the chest of his elegant white blouse and speckled his cuffs. 

This must be Lord of the Manor, Kazimir.

Styg was bewildered. Kazimir had been dead for almost twenty years. He should’ve been bone dust. Instead, he was still an indigo-black fleshy corpse with sunken eyes, long and frail white hair, and overgrown sickly yellow fingernails. It was almost as if he refused to completely decompose in the middle of the process. How? Styg thought he could hear faint whispers and sense a weak pulse around Kazimir. He focused to see if it came from the dead Lord of the Manor.

“Hey! You alive?” asked Styg’s closest companion, Rhaz, from outside the broken glass.

Styg broke concentration and sighed. The whispers and pulse faded. Whatever it was he thought he heard was gone. Still, he scrutinized the corpse a moment longer before answering.

“I--I’m fine, careful of the glass on your way up.”

 “Serves you right for coming here in the first place. Anything worth nabbing in there?”

Styg looked down to Kazimir’s hand and removed the crested ring from his bony finger.

“We need this more than you now, milord. I will treat it with care.”

A briefly acute pain from the glass in his palm flared again as he placed the ring in his pocket. 

Styg pulled out the shards and wiped the blood from his palm on his trousers while cursing internally. Once he was done he surveyed the room he’d intruded. It was a spacious but disastrous library room. There were a few lofty bookshelves begging to give and filled with bloated volumes falling apart from the seams. Parts of the interior walls had crumbled, exposing the inner frames. The velvet paint that hadn’t peeled off was dingy. The colorful carpets were dulled and crusted with leaves and grime. Haskov’s dreary weather had seeped in from the rotten ceiling and ruined the rest of the luxurious furniture.

“No,” Styg replied. “Nothing here.”

“Damn,” Rhaz said with an air of frustration. “I’m coming up.”

Rhaz was a few years older and a bit taller than Styg so the climb up for him wasn’t as challenging. The dungard almost leaped over the ledge entirely with grace. He glanced over his surroundings. As much as Rhaz was reluctant to come along to Vasil Manor he offered to go in first so he could help Styg up, but he refused because this was his endeavor and he needed to lead.

Rhaz folded his arms. Styg could see the obvious discomfort in Rhaz’s face, which was unusual for him. He was usually the brave and dashing one. Rhaz gave the Library room a quick glance over. He stopped at Lord Kazimir. 

“Is that the bastard himself?” he asked.

“Yes, it is,” Styg extended his hand and asked. “You brought the lanterns, right?” 

“Yes. Guess you were right,” Rhaz turned to his side to show the lantern hitched to the side his knapsack. “Not sure why we need this though, it’s midday.”

“You think it’ll be midday in the chamber?”

“That’s if this supposed chamber exists.”

“Arif hasn’t been wrong before.” 

 “That book he gave you is a dairy, not a map, so how do you know where to go?”

“This isn’t my first time here,” Styg answered. “Can you just trust me?” 

Rhaz rolled his eyes with a sigh. “Okay, Let’s get on with it.”  

Styg nodded and turned to a huge double door. Parts of it were sun bleached and chipping, the giant Jievan V carved in the middle of the door remained pristine. 

Styg grasped the door handles and turned them, but they wouldn’t budge. Locked in place. Rhaz stepped up and motioned for Styg to make way so he could try. He tried. Even with his musculature and stregnth the doors wouldn’t budge an inch. These were wooden doors, but they were set like stone. 

“Hmm. Well, we tried. Let’s go.” Rhaz said.

Styg made a sour face. “No. There’s a mechanism. We just have to figure out what it is.”

Rhaz muttered under his breath then pointed toward the bookshelf. 

“Think if we pull on one of those books the door will unlock?”

“I doubt Lord Kazimir was so… conventional” Styg looked back with uncertainty for a moment. He read what Arif had about Vasil Manor, but even that was scarce. The Manor was deemed cursed and disdained by the Haskovians after the uprising. It, along with every former noble that dwelled here, had purposely been forgotten. Still, the areas Styg explored before weren’t shrouded in mystery. There was one shelf, though, that seemed to mostly escape the decay that suffered the rest of the others. It was a bit odd, so Rhaz may be right.

Styg continued, “But you can try.”

“Sure,” Rhaz said, then sauntered to the preserved shelf.

Styg turned his attention back to the large double doors. As he studied the handles he noticed a notch the same size as Kazimir’s ring. Styg fetched the ring from his pocket and placed it on his finger. This time when he held the handle the crested ring pushed in the indent and a click sounded. A series of locks within the door unlatched and the handle turned. 

Rhaz approached Styg. “Guess the bastard loved his privacy. Or he was too scared to face lowly peasant justice. Locked himself in here and opened his own throat. Is it worse to die a coward or traitor?”

“Suppose it doesn’t matter anymore. Either way he’s probably in the depths.” Styg pulled the heavy double door open enough for them to slip through.

Rhaz nodded in agreement. 

Styg motioned forward with a bend. “Shall we?”

“Lead the way, oh great adventurer.”

Styg gave a mischievous grin then shimmied out the cracked double door into the Manor halls. Once in, they trekked through cautiously. As they passing through Rhaz tapped Styg’s shoulder. Rhaz noticed the billiard room was made into a living space with dirty bedrolls, a haphazardly built hearth, stained plain cloth dolls, and piles of bloody animal bones. Crooked people loved to make their homes in crooked places and they usually didn’t care about any peasant curse.

“Whoever has taken residence here doesn’t seem to be home,” Styg pushed forward. “Either way, we shouldn’t be long.”

“You got it boss.” Rhaz said. He followed with his hand close to his father’s cavalry sabre and flintlock on the right of his hip.

Signs from the uprising became increasingly apparent the closer they came to the grand staircase. Portraits and paintings were torn, bones in house guard armor and peasant rags, bloodstains on floors and walls. 

“Arif is lucky these bodies don’t stink,” Rhaz said. 

“You know he wouldn’t have us go in if they had just died,” Styg responded a bit irritated and confused. These bodies should’ve also been completely decomposed at this point. It was almost as if those in the house refused to fully perish.

“No, he’ll just send a boy barely over seventeen years pass to go sift through a den of death.” 

Styg paused abruptly then swiveled to face Rhaz. “Are you gonna complain the whole time? I can do this on my own.”

Rhaz stepped back, caught off guard by Styg’s uncharacteristic outburst. “I don’t understand you sometimes. Any dunghead confronts you you’re timid mouse like a mouse, but suddenly when Arif asks you to scrounge through some boneyard or mentions anything about lost tombs you’re completely different.” 

Styg glanced down. He knew it seemed odd to Rhaz. It seemed he was fascinated with crypts, long dead catacombs, undercrofts, or as Rhaz so eloquently put it “den of death” but he wasn’t. It was the love for discovering the past. A love he’d inherited from his father’s archeological pursuits. 

“Yeah, what about you? You’re supposed to be fearless and brave, yet you’re being a ‘timid mouse’ around a bunch of dead bodies and an old house.”

“This place is damned. We shouldn’t be here. Arif knew that if he sent you here he’d get both of us on a wild goose chase. This is a distraction to keep us from helping with the insurrection.” A light shade of red appeared on Rhaz’s bronze colored face. Styg could tell his riposte flustered Rhaz. He immediately regretted snapping at him, but this was important. Rhaz was Styg’s closest friends in Haskov. It would’ve made sense for him to ridicule and mock Styg like all their peers, but he didn’t. He was one of the only ones to stick up for him.

“So, no, you’re not going to do this on your own.” 

The two boys stared each other down intensely.

“C’mon, great adventurer,” Rhaz said as he tapped Styg’s shoulder with a smirk to break the tension. “We’ve got treasure in some secret chamber to find.”

“I’m glad you didn’t call my bluff,” Styg said after he exhaled in relief. As much as he felt he had to do this, he didn’t actually want to do it alone. 

“Not much you’re so pressed for.”

Styg thanked Rhaz with a smile then continued forward in a brisk trot. They quickly reached the main hall. The aftermath of a minor battle between the townsfolk and the house guards around immaculate décor was unchanged. When the Gretanian Regiments squashed the skirmish, they didn’t clean house. Vasil Manor died littered with bodies, blood, and battle scars.

“Where does this search begin in Vasil graveyard?” Rhaz asked.

Styg pulled Kazimir’s personal journal out of his pocket. He flipped to the pages pertinent to their search and read aloud first the note from Arif:

 

The man I acquired this from was rugged and asked for a lump sum of coin. I persuaded him to drop his price and in turn received the journal. If I hadn't been there that night, the night of the uprising & tragedy, or heard the rumors of something hidden away in Vasil Manor, I wouldn’t have paid any mind to the scavenger. Read what Kazimir has to say in the portion I’ve selected. At first glance what he wrote appears to be condescending but there’s more. This passage is the key to finding out for certain.

 

Then the portion from Kazimir:

1014 Cloudless, 20 days pass

Hisses of an uprising are snarling at our door. These foolish folk can't fathom. They call me “traitor” but will never grasp the entirety of our predicament. Nor should they--the simple fools. How I wish I could be as loudmouthed and ignorant as a commoner. Unburdened by my lineage’s responsibility. One of the few to keep safe haven within the Sentinels of Dawn. What’s even more repugnant, an even scarcer fraction within our own ranks fails to wholly recognize what is coming… That harlot with silvery hair came back with her “Husband” of the Illianov Royal Clan to “purchase” land. I see through their guise, darkness approaches from the Jievan Crown. And if those Gretanian dogs are our salvation then so be it. Let the peasants come and I will cut them down like the chaff they are. And if I should fall to this rabble, the Sentinels will keep my responsibilities safe. 

“Sooo…” Rhaz said with a blank expression.

“So, we go to The Sentinels of Dawn.”

“The Who?”

“The Sentinels, Rhaz. They were a Knighted Order dedicated to hunting the Nefestrau during the Dark Era. You’re father never talked about them? ”

“No. Besides, what would Kazimir have to do with an order of Knights?”

“I don’t know what Kazimir had to do with them, but from what I’ve read there was more to him than you’d think. And we’re not looking for actual knights. Arif and I remembered the two knightly statues in Kazimir and Lady Amaltheia’s master bedroom. That’s our first clue.”

Rhaz sighed. “Right.”

Styg nodded then continued forward. As he led Rhaz past the scene of battle he could vaguely hear the whispers and the pulsation again, but he couldn’t sense its source. Was it the manor itself? Refusing to die, it felt like the manor desperately tried to cling on, but could a manor do such a thing? 

They ran up the wide and grand marbled stairs then turned to their left when they reached the top and headed to the master bedroom. Styg opened the door, peeked in, then entered with a heavy heart. Lady Amaltheia and the two heirs of[AP1]  the manor laid on the floor slaughtered. Even in death Lady Amaltheia tried to protect her children with her embrace. 

The sight made Styg sick. He turned to Rhaz and saw the discomposure riddled on his face.

“They were captured, y’know. The men who executed Amaltheia and her children were brought to the gallows. The Regimentals robbed the Haskovians of rectifying this tragedy. The point of the uprising wasn’t… this,” Rhaz explained with a twinge of sorrow. “It was to show Kazimir that he couldn’t sell them like cattle and get rich from their misery."

Rhaz always talked like a partisan when it came to Haskov. Even in the things he wasn’t there for. Ever since he’d been involved with the underground rebellion, he’d considered it home. He dreamed of using what his father taught him to help return the Haskov, and the rest of the Free Cities to what their names implied-Freedom.

While Rhaz approached the lavish bedstead, Styg approached the fireplace. It was massive, two hooded knights as tall as men in carved intricate heavy-plated armor looked down, as if praying. Broadswords held firmly in their hands with the blades faced down toward the marbled stone foundation. The fire grate rose to about knee level to the knights. Styg looked the statues up and down and pushed and pulled on what he could, but nothing unlocked. 

Rhaz came up to his side and said, “No luck, huh? You sure this is the right place?”

“Yes, help me unlock the path.”

Rhaz agreed then inspected the statue knights or mostly the broadswords.

“What are these symbols?” Rhaz asked as he thumbed along the dull stone edges.

Styg had paused his frantic search, perplexed, then examined the symbols intensely.

“They’re runes, Vela runes. Just like the ones my pa and I saw in the Catacombs near Korchlev.”

“What are Jievan runes doing here?” 

“They’re Velarusian and I’m not sure, but I can make parts of it out…,” Styg said trailing off mid-sentence. 

“Well?” Rhaz asked as he waited impatiently.

“It’s telling me to take the sword from the Silent Sentinel and…,” Styg trailed off again.

“Aaand?”

Styg gave Rhaz a cross look.

“And use this sword to pierce the… demon king’s heart? Ma took us away from pa before he could finish teaching me how to properly read these. Without knowing how to read them, Vela runes are especially vague.”

Both the boys looked at each other stumped. Styg walked away from the fireplace annoyed. Rhaz looked for the heaviest object he could find in the room. He quickly found a Warhammer mounted on the wall and charged at the stone figure’s arms in a fury. Styg snapped his attention to Rhaz, thoroughly bewildered. Just as he reached the statue he lifted the Warhammer and struck down with a mighty blow. It should have smashed through the statue, freeing the broadsword and rendering part of the statue rubble, but as the head of the hammer hit the carved stone the same runes on the broadsword flared and protected it. There was only a small inconsequential crack. Rhaz flung back, having the force of the blow reverberated back to him, and stumbled on his ass. 

“How in Aadya’s Will did that deflect me!?” Rhaz queried angrily, expecting Styg to know. 

“I--I don’t-” 

“Well,” Rhaz proclaimed as he raised himself to his feet with fury in his eyes. “let’s see how many times it’ll take to smash that sculpture to nothing!”

“No!” Styg interjected. “We’ll be here till sunrise tomorrow. There has to be something I missed.”

Styg approached the statue reanalyzing. He thought to himself, trying to figure out the cryptic message. As Rhaz’s face was growing more and more red, waiting for his second shot Styg placed his hand on the marble grip and noticed the same notch as the handle of the double door. He’d found the connection! Styg placed the ring back on his index finger, but faced the crest of it inward and held the grip. The crest sank in and the stone sentinel released his weapon to Styg. The sound of wheels and cogs turning followed. The fire grate was swallowed and the backdrop to the supposed chimney opened into a passageway. 

Rhaz threw down the Warhammer in anger then blurted, “Oh for Aadya’s sake!” He continued to mumble profanities as he advanced toward the newly discovered entrance. Styg tried to contain his laughter, but couldn’t completely. 

“Quite you,” Rhaz said harshly then breathed out his anger. “Well, lead the way.”

Styg busted into laughter. He didn’t mean to mock his best friend, but the situation was quite hilarious. Rhaz’s face attempted to keep an expression of great irritancy, but soon he too fell to the contagious laughter. Styg wiped a tear from his eyes and composed himself.  

“Good job you big oaf.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

Styg motioned for Rhaz to handover the lantern with dying chuckles.

Rhaz unhitched the oil lantern, lit the wick, and then obliged. With that Styg led the way into the chamber.

 

 ***

 

Rhaz and Styg traversed a long flight of narrow and winding steps into a large corridor. They marveled at the grand pillars, statues of the ancient and mythological warrior Taevas, and great battles carved into stone portraits. The torch the boys brought barely had an effect on their surroundings. The corridor was kept alit by a flowing bright red substance incased down the centers of the pillars and in the ridges of the walls. At the end of the great hall, rested a magnificent sculpture of the three headed dragon, Nefestraus, which according to Taevan Divine Doctrine Taevas defeated to save all of Verdance. 

“The others never described Kazimir as a man of faith. Who knew he was part of some secret cult,” Rhaz began as they stopped in front of Nefestraus. “But imagine if we could build something like this? I wonder if we can take it over. Use it as a headquarters!” Rhaz’s eyes glistened with excitement at the thought.

“I think it was more of a secret society, but that would be grand.” Styg replied.

“Same thing.”

“Really? So, is an underground group of renegades the same as a cult?” 

Rhaz didn’t answer but instead gave Styg a look of disdain. Styg pursed his lips and shrugged his shoulders with his hands in the air. Rhaz hit Styg in the shoulder for his indifference. 

“Ow!” Styg shouted while rubbing his shoulder. “Thank you, dunghead.”

“Haskov is your home too--”

Styg cut Rhaz off. “Don’t give me the partisan speech again, Rhaz. I was only bantering.”

Rhaz huffed then pointedly looked to the three headed dragon. “What do we do now? We’re at a dead end.”

Styg rolled his eyes then examined Nefestraus as well. He was right, this was a dead end. This couldn’t be it though. Why build such a grand hall for it to end so abruptly? Styg looked behind to try and uncover the next clue. His eyes fixed on Taevas: long hair resting on his shoulders, bare chested with chiseled muscles, minimal armor except on his left shoulder, waist guard and linen and leather coverings that draped just above his ankles. Styg hadn’t notice before but the sword from the Silent Sentinel was exactly the same except bigger to fit with the statues of Taevas.

Was that a message? 

Styg searched in Nefestraus’s chest region “The priests say Taevas defeated Nefestraus by piercing his heart. So, if we ‘pierce the demon king’s heart’, as the runes describe, we should find the entrance.”

“Does that seem odd to you?” Rhaz asked as he looked with Styg. “Why would the runes say where to go? If Kazimir already knew?”

“It does. And I don’t know.”

“Do you think it’s a trap?”

“Maybe. Guess we’ll find out.”

“Greeeat.”

The details of the scales and rough skin were almost breathtaking enough for Styg to miss a horizontal slit the exact size of the sword Styg kept with him. He inserted the sword, as if he were Taevas, dealing the deathblow to the most evil of all beasts. The sword turned vertically and a round symbol with curved lines resembling the sun and a blade illuminated then split down the middle as two doors opened into a secret chamber. 

Rhaz and Styg backed away from the opening then peered in. A large wooden table was surrounded by a number of plush chairs, shelves with tomes, banners with the same symbol as the door from the outside. 

Styg approached in awe while Rhaz approached with caution, ready to unsheathe his father’s sabre. Styg entered first and took in his surroundings. The chamber was long and narrow, it had been furnished and decorated as if it were a holy war room. Colorful banners with different symbols, full suits of armor, weapons mounted on the walls, strange petite creatures in containers, volumes of history that Styg recognized to be deemed heretical, bestiaries of demons and monsters said to once plague the lands of Verdance, and commonplace liturgy. Styg looked closer at the table before him. There was a detailed map of the lands of Wor’anshir and Sor’Anshir with strange symbols, battle markers, figurines, marked locations importance, scrolls and documents spread out.

Was this a war table?

“Did you see this?” Rhaz asked, pointing out a particular set of charcoal colored full plate armor. The plate itself, along with the flail and shield, were meant for a humongous man.

“Who would fit in that?” Styg asked.

“Does it matter? It’s amazing. Isn’t it?”

“Yes, if we lived in the time of knights that would be perfect for you,” Styg replied. “Especially with all the fearsome Neferatrau decorating its plates and spikes protruding from it.”

“Yeah,” Rhaz said giddy. “If we can take this over, that’s mine.”

Styg chuckled. “Be sure to let Arif know, he might try to sell it. Speaking of, that’s not why we’re here. An Opal pendant of Aadian Regality. That’s why we’re here.”

“I know, I know,” Rhaz said a bit disappointed. “You search west end and I’ll search the east.”

Styg nodded and walked to the west side of the long room. It curved as he walked further. The décor was just as strange as the opening section. In a short time Styg rounded to the end of the room. There he found a jewel in a glass case, but it wasn’t an opal. It was a ruby medallion. 

Styg took the medallion off the case. That’s interesting.

“Got the opal and a few other things!” Rhaz shouted. 

Styg nabbed the medallion then jogged back to the center of the room. There Rhaz was waiting with his knapsack halfway full. Styg felt ridiculous coming back with only a single ruby medallion when Rhaz found half a knapsack worth of things. He had a juvenile smirk of self-satisfaction on his face to taunt Styg. 

“Good, uh, good find there,” Rhaz said. 

Styg stuck his tongue out. “What’d you find?”

“There’s actually quite a bit of trinkets and other small stuff Arif could sell. Wish I could take that armor set with me.” 

Styg glanced again at the plate armor and noticed the metal around the ruby wasn’t gold or silver like it should be but a charcoal black matching the armor. He walked up to the full plate armor and detected a circular indent in the center of the cuirass. Styg put the medallion close then pressed it in.

“Now I--”

Rhaz began but was interrupted by a flash of red lightning from what Styg thought was a red circular ceiling lantern. A groan came from the plate of armor. Styg and Rhaz backed away as it shuffled forward, disorientated and groaning louder. Rhaz and Styg stood, petrified, as it gained its bearings and realized where it was. The armor looked them up and down then screamed. 

“Run!” Rhaz commanded.

The armor swung his gauntlet at Rhaz. He dodged then pulled a terrified Styg with him. The two ran in full sprint with the creature clanking behind. A series of red lightning flashed to the light sources in the pillars. Multiple creaking hinges and clicks resounded throughout the corridor. The clicks started off slow then gained momentum. Styg was puzzled by the noises but Rhaz seemed to ignore them all together. His focus was to simply escape.

Wait. A feminine voice whispered.

Styg was further confused, not sure where the whisper came from.

Wait. It whispered again a little louder. The clicking became increasingly fast.

Styg looked to Rhaz to see if it was him whispering.

Faster the clicks sounded.

Wait! This time the voice shrieked. Styg grabbed Rhaz by his knapsack and yanked back. Rhaz swatted his hand off in anger after losing his balance. He ignored Rhaz’s outburst and motion to the impending doom marching toward them, but instead listened to the clicking. It stopped. The air brushed them as gigantic pendulous blades whooshed by. Rhaz froze for a moment and Styg gulped, seeing the mental image of them being sliced clean through if they had kept running.

 [AP1]keep but rewrite


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