Prologue 1

In the secret Warden training grounds,
Somewhere in the Kingdom of Loreil
107 AE (75 Years in the Future)

The hard heels of his boots made a deep clicking sound as he climbed the granite steps of the Library and he paused for a moment to look up the face of the multi-floored building. The entire structure was made of stone in order to protect it from any chance fire. The windows were large to provide enough light to read by within, limiting the number of lamps that were needed during the daylight hours. He dropped his eyes from the sculpture work along the roof down to the only wood on the structure, the heavily carved cedar door. While he looked over the intricate patterns on the surface he idly scratched his neck, even after months of wearing the gray uniform he still found it itchy. Shrugging off the itch, he smoothed his tunic and strode forward between the massive columns that supported the overhanging roof. One hand was occupied with the small elm writing case that he carried and the other grasped the bronze handle of the massive door. With a light pull, the door swung easily open. The door was balanced so well that it felt as if a strong wind could blow it open despite its size.

The interior, though bright, was still not as light as outside and he stopped to let his eyes adjust to the relative dimness. After a few minutes he could clearly make out the frescos on the walls, blending one into the next, depicting scenes from history and literature. On the opposite side of the entry way was a broad desk and behind it, through a narrow door, he could see the towering stacks of books in their metal shelves. He walked closer to the round desk, seeing that he would have to pass by it in order to reach the books.

“Good morning, Apprentice. Welcome to the Library.”

He was taken aback by the youthful voice coming softly from the elderly man. “Good morning, sir.” He stopped and offered a bow to the man, his eyes scanning the length of the desk looking for a name plaque. He caught sight of it around the curve of the desk but could not read it from where he stood.

“I haven’t seen you in here before, Apprentice; I take it you are working on your History Module?” The Librarian smiled as he saw the surprised look cross the young man’s face and he spoke again, “It is alright, most Apprentices never set foot within the Library until they reach the History Module and unfortunately very few come in after they complete it. I don’t mind though, we have all the information that the Apprentices need… and even some of the Wardens.” He rose and moved around the desk to stand in front of the Apprentice. “Now, which section are you on, Apprentice… “He turned his head to listen, waiting for the man to pick up on his prompt and provide his name.

“Forgive me… He offered another small bow to the elderly gentleman, I am Apprentice Bekus.” He stood straight and continued. “I am working on a report about the Wardens of Loreil during the time leading up to the final battle of the war with the Asyri.”

“Ah.” A pained expression clouded the librarian’s visage for so short a time that Apprentice Bekus thought perhaps he had imagined it. “You’re in luck young man, another Apprentice was working on that assignment yesterday and I have not yet re-shelved the books. Go take a seat and I will bring them to you.”

“Thank you,” his eyes flickered again to the nameplate on the desk but he still could not make it out, “Librarian, your help is most appreciated.”

The Librarian moved off to fetch the materials while Apprentice Bekus walked slowly down the length of the floor. Rows and rows of books extended to either side, some shelves holding piles of scrolls and stacks of parchment. Occasionally he could see in the gloom at the end of the rows sets of stairs leading to the upper floors of the library. Eventually he stopped as he came to a table set beneath one of the tall windows. Rays of morning light slanted through, framing a young woman who sat at the end of the table surrounded by scrolls and books. When she looked up he recognized her, Apprentice Salomé, she had begun her training a few weeks before he had and so was a little further ahead. “Good morning,” he said quietly, “Do you mind if I share your table?”

“Not at all,” she replied with a smile, “It would be nice to have some company.”

Just then the Librarian returned with a small stack of books topped with an even smaller pile of scrolls. He set them down on the table and a few dust motes danced up into the sunlight. “Here you are Apprentice, if you need any help, don’t hesitate to ask.” With a kindly nod, the old man moved off and headed back to his desk. Apprentice Bekus sat beside the stack of books, adjusting the materials so that they were spread out in the rays of sunlight shining down on the table. He set the small wooden case on the table and opened its lid to reveal rolls of parchment, stoppered bottles of ink, and various pens. Removing a sheet, a bottle and a pen, he turned to the first book, opened it and set pen to page.