Nexia

Fiction By Roxanna // 2/8/2005

It is a sad day. The saddest day of my life. I have lost a good friend, and Nexia is dying as well. Nexia...it is a name that will soon fade away. As the city burns and its ashes scatter, so also will its name. But its name must not fade. The story of Nexia must be told. It is a story that contains a very important lesson. The triumph of good and the demise of evil: Nexia shows this best.

But you are curious. You do not understand. Who am I, and what am I talking about, you ask. My name you will learn soon enough. I am talking about Nexia, the city below us. Right now the flames are small, but soon Nexia will become an inferno, with the flames leaping so high they will almost touch us, sitting on this high hill.

And now I will tell you the story of Nexia.

“‘The child born on the day of gloom

Will eventually be the city’s doom.’

This prophecy tells when the city will fall. Think of it what you will...sire.”

“Latashus, you know I will not be king until my father dies.”

“But all of Nexia knows that the king is very...ill. And the physicians cannot tell what is wrong with him. Though there are a few who do know, King Lyken.”

One of Lyken’s eyebrows rose. “You are my best advisor, Latashus. You know that the king’s...illness was your idea.”

“Yes. And perhaps in a few days, after your coronation, you could perhaps promote me to chief advisor. But that can wait for another time. We must now discuss what to do when the child is born.”

Lyken smiled, a rather cold and even scheming smile. “I know what to do when the child is brought to me. He will never let this city fall. Never.”

The streets of Nexia were draped in black. Sounds of mourning filled the air. Everyone would miss the good king. Almost everyone, that is. There were a few who did desire power, and thought the king’s death would bring them that.

On this sad day, two infants were born. And as soon as they were in the world, two of the new king’s men snatched them and took them to the castle. It was taller than any other building in Nexia. The walls were made of black marble, the turrets topped with steel spikes that glistened menacingly when the sunlight shone on them. Because the castle stood against a mountain, its shadow fell on the city most parts of the day.

The men entered the castle and turned to the left, entering a long corridor. After walking a minute with no sounds but their echoing footsteps, they opened a small but heavy wooden door that creaked and then slammed behind them.

The room was dark, and for a few moments, the two men stood there, each holding a baby. Then the door opened again, slowly. A single figure entered, carrying three small candles. The man was dressed in a long black robe, the hood of which hid his face.

He laid the candles in the middle of a long table and beckoned to the men. One came forward and handed a baby to the robed figure, who laid the child on the table. The robed figure drew a knife from his belt. The light from the candles was reflected on its long, polished blade.

“Sir, we thought you should know...”

“Quiet you fool!” the robed one hissed.

“But sir, that is a girl child.”

“What?!? A girl? Why did you even bring a girl? Take it away.”

The man removed the baby from the table. “What...uh...should...”

“Take it back to the parents. Nexia is not threatened by a mere girl.”

“Seven, eight, nine ten! I’m coming!” Lonemak ran down the street, trying to look in all directions at once. He glanced behind barrels, under stairs, and in alleys. After a few minutes of that, he called, “I give up, Lorainne. I can’t find you.”

Across the street, a girl of ten emerged from the inside of a barrel. But the hoof beats coming from the end of the street scared her, and she went back into her barrel.

The horses thundered down the road, passing Lonemak, who shouted, “Stop!” The rider in the middle turned his horse sharply and faced the boy. He was a tall man, probably thirty years old, with black hair and black eyes. His clothes were perfectly tailored. He rode a jet black horse and wore a gold circlet.

“Boy, did you yell at me?” he asked.

“Yes. You are riding too fast. You scared my friend.”

The other five riders had also stopped, and were staring at Lonemak. “Do you not know to who you speak?” one said incredulously. “This is King Lyken. Bow to him!”

A woman rushed from a doorway. “Heed him not, my lord. He is young and did not know whom he spoke to.” She positioned Lonemak behind her.

“Let the boy speak for himself. Come here,” the king said.

Lonemak moved next to the king’s huge horse and looked up at Lyken.

“You’re not afraid of me,” Lyken stated amusedly.

“No.”

The smile left Lyken’s face. “Hold up your hands,” he barked. Lonemak did. The little finger of his right hand was missing. Lyken’s face went when; he turned his horse around and spurred it forward. Lonemak watched as the horse went galloping up the street and eventually through the gate of the castle. Then he turned to the woman.

“Why did he go away, Momma? Was he scared of me?”

His mother answered slowly. “I think he might have been. But why...I do not know.”

She took Lonemak’s hand and led him to their house. “Go in and go to bed,” she said. “I will be back soon.” After making sure he followed her instructions, she walked into an alley. At the very end, she knocked on a door. The old woman who opened it said, “Glynna. I have been expecting you. Come in. You want to know about the boy, do you not?” Karak asked as she seated Glynna on a hard wooden chair. Glynna looked around. The room was small and bare. There were no windows, just a single fireplace on the west wall. The floor was dirt.

Glynna nodded. “I will tell you what I have foreseen, but this knowledge has its price,” Karak said. Glynna withdrew a small coin purse from her sash, but the old seer shook her head. “It is not money I want. I need an apprentice, and your son’s destiny is entwined with magic.”

“Tell me everything you have foreseen about my son, and if he wants to learn from you, I will allow it.”

Lonemak’s first lesson with Karak was the following week. His mother watched as he made his way to the seer’s house. An onlooker could have seen a few tears falling from Glynna’s eyes. However, the boy’s steps were carefree.

When he entered Karak’s house, he found a small table in the middle. A silver goblet stood alone in the center, filled to the brim with red wine. The old woman hobbled over to the table. “You are wondering why this is here,” she said in her raspy voice. “It is the first step in learning to foresee the future. Stand over the goblet, Lonemak. Now peer as hard as you can into the wine, and tell me what you see.”

“Wine,” was the boy’s literal answer.

“Look harder. Use all of the energy in your brain.”

As the boy did, a gust of wind blew the door open and howled through the room. “The wind is making swirling patterns in the wine. They are taking shapes! I see a huge city, with a castle. It looks like Nexia! I see inside the castle; I see the king. He is fighting with someone, and laughing. But as he laughs, the other person....kills him. They both die, and the city burns.” With every word, Lonemak’s voice became weaker, and at the end, he slumped to the floor.

“I tell you, my son will never go back to that! Look at what you have done to him.” Glynna, whom Karak had summoned when Lonemak fainted, waved her arm over the unconscious boy on the mat. “He’s still like that. But this is better than what you say his fate will be...why will you not leave him in peace?”

“Lonemak will wake up soon and will want to go back to learning. He is not afraid.”

“He is only ten years old!”

“That makes him even more incredible. Most children would be terrified of me and of going back to what has hurt them. And he was able to see almost as much as the future as I am, with eighty years of being a seer.”

“If only my husband was alive. He would know what to do.”

“But he is dead. Killed in Lyken’s last war. This decision is yours alone. Yours, and the boy’s, that is. Yes. Let the boy decide. We both know that he will choose correctly.”

Glynna sat down slowly and put her head in between her hands. She was still sitting like that when Lonemak said, “Mother.”

“Do you want to continue studying to be a seer? You have seen that magic and sorcery can be dangerous, especially because of the strange power Karak tells me is inside you. Even she does not know what you are capable of doing. But that does not mean that you have to give in to your powers. You could still live life as a normal human being. But the decision is yours alone.”

“I want to be a wizard.”

“Not a seer?”

“A wizard.”

Karak nodded. “It is in his blood, you know, wizardry. Your father’s grandfather was a wizard. A very powerful one. You will be even more powerful.”

“You saw this as well, and yet you did not tell me?” Glynna’s voice rose to a higher pitch.

“Yes. I knew that you would not like him to go away so soon. You had to be prepared for it. And he does not have to go yet. A wizard can learn much from a seer, and it would do him well to still study with me a little, if he is willing.”

“I am.”

“Then tomorrow you will continue your studies with me.”

Lonemak’s life was never the same after that day. He seemed to always have something to do. When he was not studying with Karak, he was spending time with his mother and Lorainne, his best friend.

Lorainne was jealous of Lonemak. “I wish I could study to be a wizard,” she pouted as they fought together with sticks that were meant to be swords. She leapt backwards as
Lonemak tried to disarm her, and then jabbed him in the stomach with her stick. “I win!” she giggled.

Lonemak tried to be sulky, but Lorainne’s laughter was contagious. “I think you should be a knight,” he said seriously after a moment.

“I’ve thought about it,” said the little girl. “Being a knight is what I would like most in the world, even more than being a wizard. But girls aren’t supposed to fight. You and I know that.”

“I leave soon to study with Dronnen in the Renarlas Mountains. If I ever meet someone who will agree to train you, I will send him to you."

“Thank you!” Lorainne cried, flinging her arms around Lonemak’s neck. He awkwardly patted her back and then stepped away, unsure of what to do. Then he heard Karak call him.

“You must pack your things, Lonemak. You leave tomorrow.”

It was ten years before Lonemak saw Nexia again.

It was a dreary winter’s day, with a light drizzle coming down. Two men on horseback were on top of a hill, looking down on a huge city. The younger had cropped black hair and green eyes. He carried a polished oak staff with an amethyst embedded in the top.

The older had shoulder-length white hair and a very young looking face. His eyes were blue, and his staff was painted bright green. Both rode white horses and wore gray cloaks.

“You are home,” said the older. “What do you feel?”

“That there is evil here that I must deal with.”

“Be careful, Lonemak. You are very powerful now, much more so than when you first came to me ten years ago. But the evil here may still be stronger.”

“I have foreseen the future. I know that I shall save Nexia from Lyken.”

“But you have also seen that you may lose your life in doing it.”

“Then I have died for the most noble cause of all, my home which I love.”

“How is your friend that you speak of so often? Have you heard from her recently?”

This brought a smile to Lonemak’s face. “She wrote last month and sent it to me by the raven. She is truly a knight now. Her skill with swords has greatly increased.”

“Who has trained her?”

“I persuaded an old hermit to train her. He was a great swordsman in his earlier days.”

“Are you anxious to see her and your mother?”

“Yes.”

“Then go. I must leave you now. This is your quest alone.” Dronnen raised his hand and then clenched his fist in the typical wizard’s greeting. He then rode away, and Lonemak rode into Nexia.

Lonemak tied his horse outside the door of his old house, and then rushed in. “Mother! Are you here?” A woman came to him and enfolded him in her arms. “My boy! How you have grown! You are so tall and handsome now!”

"You look wonderful as well. I have missed you so much.” But then Lonemak started toward the door. “I must see Lorainne now. But I will be back!”

Lonemak next made his way to Lorainne’s house, but her parents told him she had gone out. “She hasn’t been home for a few days. We are worried about her, Lonemak. She was very upset about the state things are in.”

“What state things are in?”

“The whole city is trembling with the fear of Lyken. Strange things have been happening here. There was a man who grumbled about Him. That night, there was a great storm, and when the man went out to get a drink of water, he was struck by lightning! And there was a usurper who was planning on murdering Lyken in his bed. But the day before, he caught pneumonia and died. But that is not all. He has been working us all almost to death, forcing us to make weapons and build additions to his castle. He controls the food supply, and when he says we don’t work hard enough, he doesn’t feed us. Many are starving. And the dungeon is full of people whom Lyken has put there because they were angry about what he has done or because he just doesn’t like them. He executes ten a day. Ten innocent people a day! And this is not just an execution. It is barbaric sorcery.”

“Why don’t you revolt?”

“We have tried. Believe me, we have tried. A few months ago, we called for aid from Branquia, a neighboring city, ruled by a truly good king. They sent ten thousand men to capture
and kill Lyken, who only had one hundred guards loyal to him. They started attacking the walls, but Lyken and his men went out to meet them, and the Branquians died. All ten thousand of them. Some think Lyken is impossible to kill. Others say the walls of Nexia are impossible to bring down.”

With each word, Lonemak grew angrier and angrier. “I will kill him!”

Lonemak stormed out of the house and ran as fast as he could to the castle. Then he muttered a few words, tapped his staff on the ground, and vanished. A few of his footsteps could be heard as he walked down the corridors to the entrance of the throne room.

Someone opened the doors and came out of the throne room, looking very pleased with himself. As he rounded a corner, he was grabbed by the throat by an invisible hand and pulled into the shadows. He heard a tap, and Lonemak appeared. “Where is Lyken?”

“I don’t know,” Latashus whimpered. “I was just going to find him. Don’t kill me!”

“I ought to,” Lonemak growled, clenching his fist in front of Latashus’s face. And then, Latashus laughed.

“So it is you. The one Lyken is so afraid of, and yet knows there is no reason to fear.”

“Tell me all you know about me, or I will wring your neck quite happily.”

“The little finger on your right hand is missing. That is Lyken’s doing.”

“When? How?”

“On the night you were born. The night Lyken’s father died and Lyken became king. He had both the babies born that day brought to him. One was a girl...”

“Lorainne,” Lonemak whispered.

“...And one was you. He knew that a baby born that day would cause him to die and the city to fall. And so he cursed you. I don’t know exactly what he did, but your missing finger is a sign of that.”

Lonemak waved his hand in front of Latashus’s face, and Latashus slumped to the ground, apparently asleep. Then Lonemak headed down to the dungeons, having a feeling that Lyken was there.

Lorainne hugged her arms to herself, trying to keep warm in the cold, damp cell. Then she got up and started pacing around. “Must stay warm...” she muttered. Then she heard a key in the lock, and the door opened. There stood Lyken, the man she hated most in the world for what he had done to the people of Nexia, the people she loved.

“Lyken,” she hissed.

He smiled. “You are privileged. You have been chosen to be one of the ten to die today. Unless you will repent, of course. Then I will allow you to live.”

Lorainne stared into Lyken’s black eyes for a moment. Hers mix-matched eyes, one blue, the other green, narrowed, but never blinked. “Never.” She spat into his face.

For a moment Lyken looked furious. Then he smiled again. “Now you will die.”

He motioned to the two guards behind him. They each grabbed one of Lorainne’s arms and dragged her up the stairs and into a dark chamber. There they chained her onto a table.

“Before you are dead, you will beg me to forgive you, lady knight,” Lyken said as he brought out his long knife and showed it to her. But she showed no fear.

Lonemak had searched the dungeons for Lyken and was just about to give up when he knew. He knew where to find both Lorainne and Lyken. Soon he was at a small door. For a moment he stood still, feeling the evil coming from the room, and knowing that he should remember something that happened there. But as he could not, he opened the door.

The first thing he saw was the woman chained to the table and covered in blood. He rushed to her. “Lorainne!”

“Lonemak. I knew you would come.”

He picked up her hand. “Don’t die. I can save you.”

She shook her once blonde head, now stained with her own blood. “No. I am not important. But Nexia is. You must save Nexia.”

“I will never let the city fall.”

“No! That is what he wants. It is not the walls of the city you must save, but the people. They are the true Nexia that you must not let fall. The walls mean nothing, but he does not
realize that. The people of Nexia are leaving today. I told them to. So you need not be afraid. The only ones left here are you and his servants...” Her voice faded away, and her head fell back to the table. Her strange eyes were glazed with death.

“What a sad, touching scene,” came a mocking voice from the other side of the room. Lonemak’s eyes widened in astonishment.

“Lyken!”

“Yes, I was here the whole time, and you never noticed. Amusing, isn’t it?” He walked over to the dead woman and shook his head. “If she was a little less obstinate, she would still be alive.”

Lonemak raised his staff menacingly. But Lyken only laughed. “You can try to kill me if you must. But it will never work. Our lives are bound together.”

A bolt of flame shot from the staff. Lyken didn’t even try to dodge. But as it hit Lyken, Lonemak felt himself burn and fall as well. And he lay on the ground for a moment. Then they got up together.

“Don’t you see, you fool? We are a trio, you and I and the city. None of us can ever die.”

And suddenly, everything came back to Lonemak in a rush. He saw the night he was born, and the ceremony in which Lyken had caused him to be the thread tying Nexia to Lyken.

He saw Lyken reject Lorainne, saying a girl would never cause Nexia to fall. He saw again the cup of wine in which he had seen himself die. And he knew.

“Yes, you see my mistake. I had already bound my life to Nexia’s when I found out that you would eventually kill me and cause the city to fall. But then I had an idea. Why not make you the third? I knew that you could never kill me if it would kill you too. It is an impossibility.”

“You were wrong, Lyken. A girl has caused Nexia to fall. It was not one child that the prophecy spoke of. It was both. If you had not killed Lorainne, I would have never been able to do this. But she is dead. And soon you will be, too.”

As Lyken laughed, Lonemak picked up the knife lying on the table. “It is fitting that the knife that killed her will now kill us.” And he plunged it into Lyken’s breast.

“But why....how could you cause yourself to die as well?”

“Evil must die, even at the price of my life. And Nexia will live on, in the people. That is what she told me....”

Good triumphed. It is Dronnen who speaks to you, who tells you this sad tale. And now I must play my own part in keeping the true Nexia alive. I will lead the people of Nexia to a new home where they can be free from evil.

So passed Lyken, Lonemak, and Lorainne, and the city burns.

Comments

Wow!

Hey Roxanna, you should turn this into a full length novel! It would make for an interesting book.

Heather | Sun, 06/10/2007

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And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

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