Legends And Destiny: In The Beginning by Shannon L Miller by Shannon L Miller - Read Online

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Summary

Krus'Ka'Kam: a world of technological peace and magical prosperity share by a myriad of sentient beings. Until now. The dragon Ry'Ugure, a priest of the highest order, has begun a struggle to defy the very god he has vowed to worship, and to bring about a change to Krus'Ka'Kam which could destroy it. Following him is a massive, secret army of dissidents known as the Hive. But the god Taykato isn't without his champion. A young woman, Machi Velistar, who's dream is to be one of the heroes in the books she loves, is soon caught up in the struggle to save her friends and her own life from the vehement destruction of the Hive. Helping these two are embittered lovers, the warriors Sophronia and Soper, who began their own crusade two millennia ago, but who will now use Ry'Ugure and Machi against their will to finish it.
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43

LEGENDS AND DESTINY: IN THE BEGINNING

by

SHANNON MILLER

WHISKEY CREEK PRESS

www.whiskeycreekpress.com

Published by

WHISKEY CREEK PRESS

Whiskey Creek Press

PO Box 51052

Casper, WY 82605-1052

www.whiskeycreekpress.com

Copyright Ó 2013 by Shannon Miller

Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 (five) years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

Names, characters and incidents depicted in this book are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author or the publisher.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

ISBN: 978-1-61160-667-6

Cover Artist: Susan Krupp

Editor: Marsha Briscoe

Printed in the United States of America

Dedication

This book is for everyone who has helped me to become a better writer, a better dreamer, and for encouraging me.

Chapter 1

Ry’Ugure picked his way through the catacombs. It was pitch dark, and anyone else would have lost their way without a light source. But not Ry’Ugure. His golden, black slitted dragon’s eyes remained shut as he listened to the slight clacking of his talons against the ancient tile. Forty years of his life had been spent down here, moving easily through the dozens of hallways, the hundreds of rooms. Much time had been spent studying old books, scrolls, and other forms of religious and historical texts dating before the last great war. There was the swirled writing of Wutaire, the language of the wushiro’s and pingnaran’s. There was also the human’s odd form of text consisting of lines and curves they called the Alphabet. And the script of his own kind, Dragonscript; harsh, single lines that angled off in different directions, the combination creating beautiful, intriguing images. He could read them all, and Ry’Ugure had learned much of the truth and the lies of his world.

Over ten kilometers of labyrinthine tunnels made up the catacombs beneath the city of Lavorione. Located in the north eastern region of the world’s single, largest continent, Krus’Ka’Kam, it was the religious capitol of the known world. Like so many other beings who called Lavorione home, for as long as he could remember, Ry’Ugure had wanted to serve the dragon god, Taykato. When he was old enough to leave his family, he joined the temples, devoting all his free time to studying the ancient scrolls and texts and worshiping Him. No one had ever seen such overwhelming devotion. Years later, as he transformed from a lean, soft scaled dragonling into a thick, strong, invincible adult dragon, he was chosen by the Daughter to become the head priest for all the temples of Krus’Ka’Kam.

As the highest ranking priest in the land, it was Ry’Ugure’s solemn duty to spread knowledge of Taykato’s love and light. For two decades now, he traveled, studying any new texts he could find, converting the skeptics, and lending his wisdom during sensitive political disputes.

During one of his fanatic searches for more about Taykato and His ways, one of the priests showed him the Lavorian catacombs. It was there he found it, the object which changed the course of his life forever.

Walking through one more doorway, Ry’Ugure moved to the left three paces, holding out a clawed paw. His jet-black scales shone darker than even the shadows of the quiet catacombs. Rumbling quietly from the depths of his thick, elongated throat, he reveled in the thought that he could easily crush the cool glass of the lantern with one squeeze of his massive, talon-tipped paw like a bug. No one had been down here for at least a few hours, if at all. Striking a match he had carried with him in the pocket of his priests’ robe, he lit the lantern, adjusting the small flame as it danced to life within its glass prison.

Thick, buttery-yellow light brightened the vast room to twilight colors. Shadows writhed in the light, huddling in fear and pain in the corners. He looked around slowly, his golden eyes taking it all in as if for the first time. The vast room was empty and less ornate than some of the other rooms surrounding it. A single bookcase, with spaces available for scrolls, remained empty other than a few monotonous texts against the wall to his left. To his right was a worn, tattered tapestry, the tale of how one of Taykato’s first priests had civilized the first human beings. It was one of the earliest stories all children of Krus’Ka’Kam learned. The brilliantly colored stitches had grown drab over the ages. It depicted the scene of a long forgotten dragon priest, holding out a small, flickering candle to a very primitive, naked human male and female who looked up at him with awe and wonder in their eyes. It stood lonely against the stonewall. It had inspired him as a child to become a priest, and carry out the work of the earliest dragons, but now, it was merely an ugly eyesore he didn’t dare take down in case someone else happened into the room and noticed it missing.

He remembered stepping into the room that one, seemingly ordinary day, so long ago now…

Ry’Ugure shook his massive head. Before him was what mattered, the thing that had changed his way of thinking, his goal in life. Taking the oil lantern from its iron stand, Ry’Ugure moved closer to the back wall, his back muscles contracting to keep his large, black, leathery wings tightly folded against his back. The wall was made of the same, thick, gray stone as all of the other walls in the catacombs. But this one was different. Instead of being covered by a bookcase, cabinet, or even a tapestry, this wall was hand painted, a rather crude piece of art, on the stone. The paint was thick; thick enough for even him to feel it through his scale-covered paws. Thick, and faded in color, as if it had been painted before known history.

It took a moment since the painting was so horribly done, but one could begin, after staring and squinting, to decipher what was the white dragon god, Taykato, curled up around a large, brown mass, barely discernible as Krus’Ka’Kam. The great dragon god’s eyes were said to be like rainbows, but the colors of paint were dull and could hardly be considered rainbows. Giant, pearlecent wings encompassed the world, protecting Krus’Ka’Kam. Taykato, the great dragon who guarded all life, big or small. It was He who directed fate and destiny, life and birth. He, who Ry’Ugure had once completely dedicated his life to in spreading His light.

A deep, reverberating snarl of contempt escaped his throat. Not any longer.

A ragged, gray line ran down off to the far left of Krus’Ka’Kam, most likely depicting a mountain range. No one knew for sure, since no one wandered, even in this day and age, past the section of desert called the Great Void that separated Eastern Krus’Ka’Kam from the rest of the great continent. Mountains or not, Ry’Ugure ran a clawed finger lightly down the narrow gray strip. As it had done over a dozen times before, an ancient, magic seal unlocked. The wall began to waver, rippling like a reflection in a still pond broken by the passing of a thrown stone.

For a brief instant the wall ripped. Ry’Ugure stepped through the tear with the oil lamp, sealing the room behind him once again in dark stillness.

He now stood in another room. It was much different from the other rooms in the catacombs: dark, dank and dirty.

How long, he wondered, had this room been hidden before he’d found it? Had anyone ever used it since its construction? It didn’t seem like it. It was as if someone had built this room with a dark purpose, sealing in it the secret of Taykato. A devoted Taykatonite priest perhaps, who, scared of what he had discovered, sealed it away, too scared to destroy it, or unable to do so, sealing it so that the truth would never be known.

For everything the order of the Taykatonites stood for, this room negated.

A single book stood alone on a simple wooden stand off to the back wall. It was large for a human, normal size for a dragon. Its contents were written in Dragonscript, but it’s writing was almost indiscernible. It had been written either hurriedly, or simply sloppy, so that it had taken Ry’Ugure years and years of long, lonely nights to even begin to decipher what should have taken only a mere week to read. Beside the book in a thick pile of papers was neatly etched Dragonscript. Because the handwriting took so long to decipher, Ry’Ugure had kept his own notes so that he could quickly reread back and refer to points the author had made before in previous pages.

Behind him was another painting on a wall, but this one was more carefully painted. A large, crystal clear orb filled the center of the wall, so expertly done it looked real, as if Ry’Ugure could touch its cool, perfect smoothness. He had not known what it was the first time he glimpsed it, but the badly written text had given away its name and origin. Taykato’s Artifact. A crystalline element capable of bringing life and death to an entire land, race.

World.

Reality.

Yes, reality. For there was more than just one world. They shared this world—pingnaran, human, dragon, and other species—with a thin link to the next, the world in which their so-called god dwelt.

He was not a god, so much as a being with great power, whose life was made longer by the magical properties of His own reality. Whose control was enhanced by the wickedness of the Essallia Accords.

The author had named these two realities, the Norm and the Terra-dimensional. And the link between them aptly named the Hyper-umbilical.

Their land, Krus’Ka’Kam, the author had labeled the Norm. It was the perfect world, the world where all races could control their own destiny, control in which direction their lives would go. He named the other the Terra-dimensional; the bastard world whose single occupant felt it was His own destiny to control the other. A being who played with the Norm as if it were a toy, and not a living, breathing entity in itself. Yes, Taykato was nothing more than a mere, keishing creature, just like the rest of them.

Who lived. Breathed.

Who could die.

It confused, and later enraged, Ry’Ugure as he read these words. Words that his god was not really a god at all, but just another creature who felt it was his right to rule over them. That magic was not just a tool, a gift, for Him and his chosen. It seemed easier to accept, back then when he was foolish and ignorant, to believe that everything was run by the destiny that Taykato had set aside for them. That each great and terrible thing in its own right was the way things should be.

But that he spent his life dedicated to some being who wasn’t in control of the happenings of the world…

What was he to do? What was the point?

His life, within those words, changed dramatically. The more he read, the more he began to hate, and finally loathe, Taykato and all those fools who commanded that they follow him in life and death.

Ry’Ugure gripped the ancient tome tightly, his claws piercing through the leather bindings. Why should they revere Taykato? Could He hear the prayers as happiness and luck and fortune fell upon someone? Could He hear the cries as beings caught in pain, suffering and misfortune called up to Him for aid?

Shaking his large, reptilian head, he roared. Waves of anger filled the room, unable to pierce through the wall, instead bombarding him, intensifying his hatred. He hated them all! Hated the stupid fools who put their entire life in the hands of a mere creature, unable to help them. Hated the temples for teaching such lies, for not teaching each being to live for himself, but to simply lay down and wait for this monster to aid them in their journey through life and death. Hated it all!

Snarling, Ry’Ugure took a deep breath. He laid the book back down on its pedestal, seeing the neat holes in the leather created by his talons.

Finally, he had decided, it was time to do something about it. Time to take up the burden himself and show Krus’Ka’Kam that Taykato was not a god, but a mere creature, unable to help them in any real way. Things happened quickly after that. First, he had consulted his sister, Ry’Ilon, who lived outside of the temple in Lavorione. Upon hearing her brother’s discovery, she’d been equally enraged about the lies she had also been taught all her life. Quietly and carefully, the two of them found others who felt the same about Ry’Ugure’s discovery. As the years passed, and he learned more, a group slowly formed, birthing an organization. A resistance. Finally, an army.

The orb painted on the wall was surrounded by something else, a shimmering ribbon of bright light like gold, faded at the edges of shadows, ghosts, of something unseen. The book’s author had described this as the Rebirth. This is what would bring power into the Norm. This is what would define a god.

The mobile in the pocket of his robe trembled. Snorting, Ry’Ugure fished out the tiny device. It’d been modified to send and receive through most interference, but even so, beneath the great stone floors and walls of the catacombs, the speaker hissed and crackled with static. It is time, a reptilian voice hissed and snarled. The Daughter has revealed her intentions for the new era. We have to move now before she reveals it to the public.

Did you find out its location?

His sister growled on the other end. No. She is cautious and careful. Only one other knows of its whereabouts, and we’ve yet to discover who it is. I believe it may be one of her Mola’Kari guards. There was a pause on the other end. Ugure, isn’t what we are about to do a hypocrisy?

Ry’Ugure sighed. Not this again. His sister always questioned what they were doing. Could she not see beyond the next step? Ilon, this cannot be fixed with a simple bandage. The issues plaguing us and our world must be cut free from the cancer we have lived with our entire lives. It will hurt, and there will be great periods of instability, but what we are doing is necessary. We cannot destroy something without its likeness. Once I have used the artifact to destroy the link, then it will be useless and then no one will ever be able to use it. I hate magic; you know that. But we must use it to win.

I understand, she replied. He wondered if she really did. He wondered if she ever would.

It doesn’t matter, Ry’Ilon. When I am finished with her, no one will oppose us, and we shall have all the time in the world to find the artifact. Then it will all become clear. We move in thirty-six hours. Make sure everyone knows and is in position.

And you, dear brother?

Ry’Ugure’s teeth glistened sharply in the lamplight. I will be ready, of course. Once she is out of the way, I will look for it myself. Without waiting for a reply, he clicked the device off, shoving it back into the robe.

The artifact. He had to find it. It was what he was going to use to show the rest of Krus’Ka’Kam that a new, better destiny awaited it and its creatures.

He gazed up once more at the painted wall, feeling the pull of his own destiny.

If Krus’Ka’Kam wanted a god, a god they would have.

Chapter 2

Tales danced along the walls; tales of the old, tales of the new. Legends, prophecies, historical readings, texts and prose in various languages, spanning all the cultures of Krus’Ka’Kam, the great landmass to which they called home. Dragons, humans, pingnaran, wushiros, tzkaim…so many different species ranging in size and shape, and even she could not name them all.

They were all here in the largest library in Krus’Ka’Kam.

Machi Velistar always felt an amazing sense of peace and awe whenever she entered the Yeillorian Library in the dragon-founded city of Sycoonador.

It was one of the greatest wonders of Krus’Ka’Kam, no small feat since it was one of the largest buildings in the land. Every year, the library, modified from a temple centuries ago, had new rooms added on to house the numerous volumes that came in. Already, the library spread across two kilometers of Sycoonador’s hillsides, rising four stories, and included three basement levels.

Although she had been coming here since she was a kid, Machi still hadn’t been through every room, or even read all the books in her favorite room.

There was one wall in the Hall of Heroes that lay bare of shelves, windows or hangings. It spanned the entire height of the library and had been painted three centuries ago with the heroes of legend and lore from all corners of Krus’Ka’Kam. There were dozens of dragons of warrior status—the Si’Nami’Tari—scattered across the collage, painted with their silver-polished armor. They carried with them large, curved, double-scythed retzilkires, ceremonial weapons of dragons, carved with prayers and charms in Dragonscript along with their armor.

Fluffy, white-furred pingnarans stood beside them with their short, bright blue muzzles, stiff, scaly-conic ears and equally long blue claws. They bore sweeping red and silver battle cloaks that hung from their broad shoulders and long, polished spears, knotted with matching colored ribbons. Their tails—long and although fur covered, hard enough to crack open even a dragon’s thick skull—were tied with ribbons of blue, ceremonial silver bells hanging from each ribbon.

Humans also stood silently amongst the dragons and pingnarans, dressed from head to toe in armor, carrying different weapons. Some bore swords of different sizes and designs, while others armed themselves with bows and arrows of various, unique characteristics. There were spears and lances and clubs. A small group of men carried ribbon whips; two-meter long, metal whips that moved like ribbons in the wind covered with small barbs. If escape were even possible, it meant mutilated flesh or scale.

These three were the more warlike species, and very few wushiros, tzkaim, or any others, could be seen on the large collage. They were there, merely hidden by the greatness in volume of the others.

A mass of pillows and mats lay beneath the collage of heroes, where beings could lounge and read, if the provided tables and seating were not to their liking. Machi stretched out across a small nest of pillows, yawning. It was already well past sundown, and the large clock on the wall showed that it was far beyond when she usually went home.

I have so many tests tomorrow, she thought grumpily, rubbing her sore eyes. She should have been home, sleeping. Her mom and dad wouldn’t worry. They knew she was always at the library and often came home late. But tonight, they might worry, what with it being the final tests at school and all.

Sighing, and trying not to think about all the tests that faced her in the morning, or what her parents thought of her being out so late and not at home, Machi went on reading the Dragonscript on the pages before her, tucking loose strands of raven black hair back from her pale green eyes.

Shadows and Darkness, and winds that rage at their broken solitude. Nothing can come of this but the end, but it will come. As sure as life has been brought forth, judged and perished, as sure as there has always been the light, followed by darkness, and as sure as there have remained the pure and the tainted, the Storm will come. Its children are not the blessing they are thought to be, but the imps of grand destruction…

Sometimes I think you are more religious than you let on, reading scripts like those from ancient, religious passages, a voice broke through her concentration. And then I see how free of a spirit you are, and I know that the temples are not for you.

Good evening, Dontre’Teri Dellis. Machi smiled at the human priest, looking up from the book. She held it high enough to hide the warmth that began to glow in her cheeks. And it’s actually a book from the last great war.

Dellis looked down at her, bending at the waist to read over her shoulder. He was dressed in his casual priest’s garb: tanned shirt and pants, simple boots of the same, plain, tanned look. The only thing that broke the monotony was the thick, forest-green cloth that was wrapped around both shoulders, crossing in a large ‘X’ on his back and front, and finally tied around his waist, the loose ends hanging to either side. He smiled. Reads like a religious text to me.

He looked born of the earth, simple, and yet glowing, the way Machi had always thought a priest of Taykato should look. His dark brown hair and muddy brown eyes were both warm and soft looking, and were always open for whoever should need their friendly comfort. His face, both strong and handsome, gave her the feeling that he could hold her and protect her from anything dark or fearful.

Machi smirked. I didn’t know you’ve read anything else, Dontre’Teri Dellis.

You know, Machi, outside of the temple, you are permitted to simply call me Dellis. He grinned, standing back up again and stretching. I like just hearing ‘Dellis’. Sometimes it’s a comfort to escape the grinding ceremonies and rites of the temple. Even if I can’t escape the dress. He waved at his clothes with casualness.

Noting her page, Machi closed the book and struggled to stand up in the nest of pillows. All right, Dellis. She grinned. It was their private joke for years. She always called him by his honorific, and he always reminded her not to. So, she smiled shyly, still trying to hide the warmth that rose to her cheeks, what brought you here? I didn’t think you liked burying your nose in books.

I don’t, he agreed, offering her a hand out of the mess of pillows and mats. Your mum and dad came looking for you at the temple, thinking you were praying to Taykato for luck on your finals tomorrow. I told them you weren’t there, and offered to come here and look for you.

By the light, Machi groaned, I’m nearly nineteen now, and they still treat me like I’m ten. They know I always come here and stay late! She looked up at him. He was older than her at twenty-seven. She wondered at times what it was like to be seen as an adult and not a child, to be free and independent. Did he still have family who nagged where he was? Or did priests break away from their families before enslaving themselves to the temples?

But you do have tests tomorrow, don’t you?

Yeah, she mummbled, walking over to the nearby bookcase and placing the large volume back where she had gotten it. It was a special bookcase made by her dragon librarian friend, Mekla. Machi’s favorite books, and several she had stashed there as her to-read pile, were shelved there. But sleep isn’t going to help me get a better score. Neither is praying at the temple, for that matter. If I don’t know it by now, I’m not going to know it on the tests.

You should be well rested for tomorrow though, don’t you think?

Machi shrugged. I’ll get plenty of sleep, don’t worry.

They walked in silence for the several minutes it took for them to leave the Hall of Heroes and to exit the library on its northernmost end.

Outside, the view looked down on Sycoonador. It had been night for hours now, but everything still seemed aglow. The stars and the nearly two full moons were out, hanging low on the horizon of Sycoonador, but even those lights were dim compared to the city.

It stretched out below her for kilometers on all ends, buildings whose lights were still on. Winking lights of moving, kryterrik particle driven vehicles as they weaved in and out of the building-lined streets. Homes and apartments, where beings were still awake, glowed yellow and white lights through their windows. Streetlights beamed, their evenly spaced-out lights lining roads and walkways. Businesses, both those closed and those still open and running in the evening, threw off various colored lights: greens the color of lush grass, neon blues that were as pale as the sky, and others as deep and dark as the depths of the oceans, yellows, reds, purples, and oranges that easily outshone any flower…all these colors so artificial, and yet magical in their own way, hugging tightly to their jointed world of technology and life.

To the east at the base of the massive hill, she could make out the dim lights of Sycoonador’s single, large temple, where Dellis lived and where she often went a few times a week to pray with her parents.

Beautiful, isn’t it? Dellis commented as he climbed into the vehicle he’d borrowed from the temple.

Machi nodded as the vehicle lifted a few inches off the ground, powered by released energy of colliding kryterrik particles, and began to sweep down the hill, Dellis behind the wheel.

They both rode in silence until they reached the bottom where they entered the main roads of the city. Traffic was light at this time of night, and the highways and side roads lay wide and nearly empty before them. It wouldn’t take long for Dellis to drive her home.

Why did you become a priest? Machi blurted out. It was a question she had been thinking about for a while now, and never bothered to ask.

Dellis turned, a confused look on his face. Sorry?

What made you become a priest? I mean, why did you choose this path, and not school like I did? Or most people, she thought grumpily to herself. She’d lain awake many nights, wondering what would have become of them if he had choose a life other than priesthood. She admitted to herself a while ago that she saw him as more than a good friend. She wondered, wide awake at nights, what he thought of her.

Dellis chuckled, turning his muddy-brown eyes back to the road. "Well, I was a really troublesome kid. My parents couldn’t control me, and school made me mad and even more uncontrollable. I never did my work, never did what was asked of me. If anyone showed any signs of authority, I defied them, and that lead to even more problems.

One night, when I was trying to fall asleep, I was staring up at the stars outside my window. I guess I was sort of jealous of them, powerful and free, each one an independent force. I wanted to see them, but I guess the closest I could come to that was to see the world. So I decided to run away. Just like that. I lived far to the east, in a small, farming community and I had always wanted to live in the city anyway; thought it would be great fun. So, I up and left.

You? Machi asked with disbelief. He always carried himself as an exemplary priest, and she couldn’t picture him being anything more than a perfect kid. And a priest of all things! She had never heard of a priest with such a rebellious past!

Believe it, he continued, grinning from her reaction. "It was a lot of fun, at first. I traveled with a bunch of different beings, learned a few things about living on my own and about the world. I could do whatever and go wherever I’d wanted. It was as if I was the freest being alive! And then the thing I finally learned one day, and the hardest, was that I had nothing. I had run away, away from everything that I’d once had. And then I realized that I wanted, needed, something stable, something to truly work for.

"I was out of money, and no one would take me in for work. They saw me as another ruffian on the streets. One night, it was raining out, and I had stumbled my way over to the temple. I was cold, and hungry. The head priest took me in, the dragon that’s still there now, Destik’Likitite. I stayed there, with the rest of the temple priests and workers for a year, watching them as they went about their daily business, helping them out here and there. I lived among them. I ate meals with them, slept in the dormitories.

No one forced me to work. No one told me to do this or that, told me not to touch something or to not go here or there. No one asked anything of me. They expected nothing from me, and yet they took care of all of my needs and answered any questions I had. Pausing, he turned the vehicle off the main street to the quieter, slightly darker residential streets east of the city square.

So one day, he continued as the vehicle glided past sleeping houses, I went up to Destik’Likitite and told him I wanted to become one of them, one of the priests. I guess I had finally decided to grow up, and to give back everything they had given me. Everything I had seen them do gave me a sense of solidity, that they did this for themselves and others and for Taykato, expecting nothing back in return, and receiving everything. That was what I had been looking for, but had never found. A purpose.

Didn’t you ever want to become anything else?

Dellis was quiet for a moment, pondering. At the time, no, I guess not. He turned to her, grinning. Plus, this way, I never had to study anything boring in school!

Machi grinned, looking back out the window as they neared her house. Sometimes, I wished I was something else, something other than just a student. And a book worm.

And what would you be, if you could be anything you wanted? Definitely not a priestess, I hope!

Machi grew quiet for a