The Tower of Stairs

The fifth short Lore story is live! Once all are published, I’ll update the reading order to include the shorts, slotting them in where they are best read 🙂

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Waiting for a stolen spaceship to return to the Tower of Stairs, Caballa warns Cat about her burgeoning relationship with Torrullin Valla. Skye offers the same insight, but refuses to reveal her own feelings for one of Torrullin’s sons. The three women find themselves bound together by feelings dangerous to each of them.

The Tower of Stairs

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Galactic Time Zones

Luvanor/Valaris time:

Time did not run concurrent for Valaris and Luvanor. Where the season had just moved into the first month of winter for Valaris, the beginnings of spring was showing on Luvanor. In fact the dual spring on both worlds when Torrullin returned after a two thousand year absence was a rare event, a parallel that came around every seventy years or so, some years for spring, some for summer and some for winter. Autumn skipped the cycle due to the Valarian practice of shortening their winter and summer seasons by half a moon to realign the calendar to the stars. The fact that it was spring for both worlds caused Teighlar to remark to a number of his Senlu that the Enchanter would naturally choose an auspicious time to reappear.

The days were different also. Where Valaris counted out 22.4 hours, Luvanor held to 24.2 hours, which effectively meant morning on Valaris could be midday or dusk on Grinwallin’s mountain, or some other time in the various time zones of that world. It was not a strange concept at all – no two worlds were exactly alike – but it did make for surprise, particularly as few kept track, an intricacy limited to academics and fanatics who loved to fill their minds with the many facts and figures it entailed.

The Sleeper Sword

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14 Sacred Sites

These are the words of Tristamil Valla:

“Fourteen is the universal number upon which magic is based. We build fourteen sacred sites per world in keeping with that philosophy, and that is the first tradition. The second is the order in which we erect them. First is the Lifesource, then the Throne-room, thereafter the rest. The third tradition is the passing of the Dragon from Vallorin to heir at the appointed time. The fourth is the safekeeping of the Oracles; the fifth, the scrying of a newborn’s name and the sixth is this ceremony of today. The seventh is the learning of sorcery beyond what we inherently know. The eighth is the absolute autonomy of the Vallorin; we are not, nor were we ever, a democracy. The ninth is Nemisin’s runes, known only to the House of Valla, and the tenth is our longevity both natural and enhanced. The eleventh is our total intolerance of darak …” He stumbled there, but recovered well. “The twelfth is a belief in prophecy and the thirteenth … we regard ourselves as master-builders, and build with heart, soul and magic. The fourteenth? For as long as one Valleur lives, we were first and will be last in all things.”

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The Kallanon Scales

Prophecy: Time’s Timekeeper

Time’s timekeeper never sleeps

forever telling the tale

of twin war gods

come to their father

seeking magic to eliminate

the monsters of worlds

and in the telling

remind of a taliesman

fashioned in purest gold

a cavorting little dragon

a key, a truth

a legend, a king

the Mysor of old

dragons once, hidden now

hold in their palms

a glorious green sword

a beautiful blue sword

the magic that will

slay the old monsters

remember eternally an anniversary

a coming of age

number five and twenty

time’s timekeeper is awake.

The Forbidden Zone Prophecy penned in Valleur, source unknown

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THE KALLANON SCALES

The Wolves of Valaris

This fourth short is short indeed, but it perfectly showcases Torrullin’s dilemma regarding his sons.

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As two boys ask about wolves, their father wonders which twin will one day bay at the moon to summon the darkness.

Tristamil and Tymall are eight years old, but one day they will be men. This short tale is an insight into their father’s deepest fears.

 

The Wolves of Valaris

Interview with Rees and Rayne’s Mother

Rees

(Blue spoke to many Valarians in the week following the drowning and destruction of Galilan, Valaris’ capital city. After, when she collated her notes, she realised she had spoken to Rayne’s sister)

 

Blue: Hello! Forgive the interruption, but I’m moving from plot to plot informing people where to find food and fresh water. Have you been told?

Rees: You’re welcome. Come closer. We’re aware of the relief centres, yes, but I overheard others asking … you’d have to keep moving and keep asking.

Blue: I’ll do so. ‘We’? You have others with you? Are you coping?

Rees: A friend and her husband stay with me … my m-mother didn’t … we found her in the cellar with … sorry.

Blue: I’m sorry, too. What’s your name?

Rees: Rees … yes, after the priest.

Blue: Ha! Who named you? I’m guessing your father.

Rees: Yes! And my brother Rayne still teases me about it!

Blue: Where is he? Will he be joining you? Um, do you know if he …?

Rees: Rayne was here earlier, thank God. He’s fine, doing his thing. What’s your name?

Blue: Blue … but don’t ask me why! I’m only glad it isn’t ‘Green’ or ‘Pink’!

Rees: I’ll bet! And do you have somewhere to stay in all this?

Blue: I do, thank you … it will get better, I hope you know that. Sooner than we can believe right now.

Rees: I hope so. Thanks. I suppose you must be on your way. Good to meet you, and good luck.

Blue: Luck to you also.

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Rayne’s mother

 

(After checking her notes, Blue found a parallel in her interviews in Galilan. The place she interviewed Rees after annihilation was also the place she spoke briefly with an older woman before the destruction of the city and after the soltakin commenced the campaign of terror. She swiftly deduced she had had words with Rees and Rayne’s mother and was thus one of the last to have seen her alive)

 

Blue: My lady, you should be indoors. It isn’t safe.

Rayne’s mother: Can’t call anywhere safe, my dear. Walls and closed doors will not stop those fiends.

Blue: Lady, is there someone with you? Your children?

Rayne’s mother: Essie from next door. We keep each other company through everything good and bad. My children have their own lives … my daughter gallivants in the country as if she’s a spoilt rich girl and my son flits everywhere trying to be Valaris’ saviour … forgive me, I find I’m disappointed that they saw fit to … to …

Blue: Abandon you?

Rayne’s mother: Forgive me, no. Rees is a good girl and will be here as soon as she can. And Rayne … well, Rayne is what he is, isn’t he? How dare I deny that? How dare I deny our people his abilities?

Blue: My lady, where is Rayne now?

 

(The woman unfortunately returned indoors then, perhaps realising she had revealed too much. Blue has not discovered her name, and there is no image on record of Rayne’s mother)

 

Ugarth and the Medaillon

I regarded the excerpt below as too much backstory, and removed most of it from The Infinity Mantle, but if you’re interested in finding out more about the mighty Maghdim Medaillon, and how the Mantle came into being, read on!

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Three thousand years before the present time the human population of Valaris was essentially decimated.

First there was Drasso’s extermination, which was wholesale slaughter, and their numbers were further depleted when the Immortals descended to do battle. Using human tactics to fight a war required men, many men. That part of the war lasted three years, and at the end of it, large tracts of land were wasteland … and thus more succumbed, for the aftermath was as hard as the wars fought.

Only the Great Forest remained unscathed, but it became a physical and emotional divide between north and south.

The Guardians saw this, but were powerless to change it. Not only could neither side see beyond the wastelands in the aftermath, but also they no longer trusted their saviours. Deified they were, but the terrible power of the Immortals left the humans as fearful of them as they were of Drasso, Infinity and their kind. The Guardians chose to leave the humans to rebuild alone.

They left an inheritance for each region divided by trees and superstitions.

To the north went ten volumes, containing within the pages of antiquity universal truths. Warded within those pages were sufficient charms to promote the spirit of adventure, the need to restore the past, and a wish to cross the wastelands in search of other survivors.

The charms needed to be read aloud, which they never were, for the dead language was also an unpronounceable one. Fear of magic had stilled most tongues.

The ten volumes were and are collectively known as the Ancient Oracles.

To the south went the Maghdim Medaillon. In the Ancient Tongue it translated as ‘Supreme Wisdom’. It had the power to summon the clans of old, particularly those of the north with numbers to call to, but like to the Oracles, it was not used. Fear of magic stilled it also.

The remaining sorcerers in the south guarded the Maghdim Medaillon. Their numbers were small, fifteen having survived Drasso. From them, the continuance to the present-day Society.

The golden medal lay in its velvet casket for two centuries, the sorcerers too afraid to discover what it could do. Sorcery was outlawed before Drasso; after him, it was worse.

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There came a day a young apprentice magician, Ugarth by name, stole the velvet casket and carried it secretly to his quarters within the Society, there to study it.

In those early days of the Society, magic was more than theory, and Ugarth’s touch was the first the device received in two centuries. It burned him fiercely on first contact. His hand hurt and he was afraid, but was more fearful of discovery. Warding himself against burning, which the Medaillon unaccountably permitted, he retrieved it from the floor.

Imagine his surprise when on second contact images flooded his mind of northern lands fertile and populated, of stars near and far, of other inhabited worlds, of enchantments and wardings he never dreamed of. He was entranced and transfixed, but soon shook out of it, knowing instinctively his life would be in danger if he broadcast this newfound knowledge, not only from the outside world, but also from those within his own ranks.

The fear of the supernatural continued with manic intensity and the Society lost ground to the world, and went into hiding to protect themselves and their arts, but also there were factions within, some political, some greedy, and some arrogant. Jealousy could lead to death, and it was known certain sorcerers were secretly revealed to the authorities … thereby removing rivals. Ugarth was in love with his skin, and knew how to keep a secret.

Ugarth shaped a detailed and true replica, and replaced that in the casket, which he then returned to its usual place. The real Medaillon he wore about his neck out of sight.

As Ugarth became more proficient, he cast an intricate spell. He limited the device to one master or mistress at a time, it to be gifted secretly from generation to generation, the gifting enchantment learned only once in the receiving. Any who casually handled it would thus be burned. Ugarth did not realize that the medal itself enabled this enchantment from him. The burning was the true test in validating the Medaillon.

Ugarth cast a failsafe, perhaps recognizing a future task during his sessions with it. The failsafe was that one other was to command it, someone other than its master or mistress. That person could only be the most powerful sorcerer of the time, and only that individual would have the power to call the clans, although Ugarth regarded the latter factor as irrelevant. The device demanded this, and the legend passed down into the future would be why McSee was shocked and Aven fatalistic;

Rayne would prove true power on Valaris the instant he held it unharmed. Ugarth often wondered over the course of his life how much had been him and how much upon the Medaillon’s insistence.

Time went on. As the Society became less, the real Medaillon returned to its casket, its existence known to few. A new master or mistress was chosen by consensus, passing from old to young every generation. It remained a secret to those outside and gradually it was barred from those inside, until a sect formed to protect it, actively training sorcerers of all ranks, ever mindful of the legendary failsafe.

That sect was and is the Mantle.

Interview with Llettynn

(A Siric is hard to corner; Blue River Frond is fortunate to have recorded these words.)

 

Blue: You are the Siric leader, Llettynn. How long have you held the position?

Llettynn: Too long.

Blue: I look at you and see a smallish humanoid dressed all in white. Please don’t take offense, but how do you inspire confidence in those you are forced to deal with?

Llettynn: Guardians are not forced into anything.

Blue: I seem to have offended you, after all. I’m sorry. For the record, white isn’t the only colour you wear about your person, is it?

Llettynn: The Siric wear white.

Blue: You are being coy. I am, of course, speaking of your wings. Wings and colour together define the Siric.

Llettynn: It does not.

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Blue: Perhaps I didn’t say it correctly. I meant you wear colour upon your wings, and Siric read status by it. You, for example, carry turquoise … and that, I believe, is the mark of leadership. Others – Declan, for instance – carries red more markedly, because he is your deputy.

Llettynn: Your point?

Blue: Hmm, I see now why others name the Siric as cold. You do not share either information or emotion easily. Why is that?

Llettynn: Immortality teaches even the most emotional of beings to rein it in.

Blue: You’re jaded, is that what you’re saying?

Llettynn: No.

Blue: What do you mean?

Llettynn: Nothing. I suggest you ask a relevant question before I return to my duties.

Blue: Of course. What are your current duties?

Llettynn: The Guardians are present on Valaris, currently searching for hidden sites which may or may not lead to enlightenment. We do this because we hope to curtail Infinity in her desire to unleash chaos upon the universe. I cannot say more, and now I must return. If you seek greater insight, Belun of the Centuar is the Guardian to speak too. Not yet, Blue River Frond; time is of the essence for all of us and even Belun, loquacious as he is, cannot now be spared.

Blue: I thank you for your time and for the advice. Another time, then.

 

(Blue states years later she wished she had pushed the Siric leader harder; in Llettynn there resided a mind of absolute brilliance.)

Interview with Saska

(Recorded before Saska vanished for a time amid the Pilanese)

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Blue: My lady, you appear sad. Why is that?

Saska: I’m sorry, Blue, I know of your work, but I really don’t think it’s anyone’s business. Besides, I have somewhere to be.

Blue: Just a few moments. You know I don’t have to write it down; it won’t take long.

Saska: Taranis has wondered how you’re able to remember everything so well.

Blue: I’m not being interviewed, am I?

Saska: Hmm. Someone should. But I don’t have the time.

Blue: I’m thinking it’s a man. Making you sad.

Saska: Loss makes us sad, friend, whether of a loved one, a way of life … hope, faith, health … many reasons.

Blue: It’s a man.

Saska: Not that I’ll tell you.

Blue: And now you run from him. Do you hope he won’t find you … or do you hope he’ll act with sufficient commitment to discover your hiding place?

Saska: Neither. Both. Argh, he drives me insane!

Blue: Who, my lady? Perhaps I could put him to the question.

Saska: Oh, good luck with that. He won’t talk.

Blue: I’m thinking now it can only be the one they are calling Enchanter who does this to you. I’m also thinking you should expect as much. An enchanter? That is a lonely calling. He will find it hard to commit to a personal relationship.  Not so?

Saska: What do you know about it?

Blue: And there you confirm my suspicion. They call him Torrullin, I hear, and his name means Lifegiver and Destroyer simultaneously. My lady, how do you hope to reach through to someone like that?

Saska: By loving him, damn it! Not that it matters! He has chosen another! She is … argh!

(Saska dematerialises at this point, her pain and anger causing her to flee. Blue is left wondering how she can create an opportunity to speak with Torrullin.)

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