Realms of Destiny
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Scythe the Death Keeper would have burned a hole in Grantig with his eyes were they not covered by his black blind fold. His jaw dropped, though it was hard to see because his nose and mouth was covered. In fact, his mind’s eye was fixed on Grantig’s soulflame, this is going to be one soulflame that he will never forget, as he would soon find out.
<I am impressed, Grand Maester. But knowing that I was once the Prince Leorainos means nothing. There is nothing I can do for you.> Staying composed, he easily brushed Sephiron’s hand off his shoulders, loose and weak due to the sudden realization that he laid his hand on a Royal family, disowned or no. The Cursed Prince made his slow way back to the chair he was sitting in when the two Guardians first entered, and resumed his usual place as though nothing had happened. But of course, Grantig was not about to give up, he never intended to give up; it was his ability to never give up that got him where he was.
<We can break your curse.> Said Grantig matter-of-factly.
<We can?> Sephiron asked, wondering if there was anything that this Sylrill did not know.
<Not at the moment no.> Replied Grantig, but he seemed unfazed. <But every curse can be broken. And if we can break this one, who better would become the suitable Regent than His Royal Highness?>
<You are forgetting something, Earth Guardian. You do not know what curse befell me. And to tell you the truth, neither do I. The Curse also forbids me from sharing the circumstances of my crime, so I’m afraid there is nothing you can do.> With that, Scythe leaned back in his seat, considering the matter closed. Sephiron knew that Grantig wouldn’t have said what he just said with such confidence if he didn’t have an answer. But the answer he gave was once again something he had never expected.
<You performed the Ritual of Exchange with a Rathnorian, and your Curse is the Soultime Curse.> Was Grantig’s response to Scythe’s last remark. At that moment the Prince sat bolt upright in his seat, and Sephiron had an expression of utter amazement and disbelief only to be replaced by confusion on repeating the statement to himself.
<How did you know?> Was all Scythe could ask. Not only did this young Sylrill get the crime spot on, a crime which his father and himself were the only two living witness for hundreds of years, he also knew something the Death Keeper himself had never known, he was able to put a name to the curse.
<I didn’t know. I merely made an educated guess. But based on your reaction, I figured I am right. That is always good to know.> He calmly walked towards the Cursed Sylrill and, conjuring a chair for himself and Sephiron, sat down a few paces from him; they may be here for a while yet. Grantig’s royal blue eyes rested long and hard on the black-clad prince, neither said anything for a few moments; they were judging one another in silence.
<Alright, would you care to explain? He did what with a Rathnor?> Demanded the confused Sky General. He felt stupid asking the question as he was clearly the only one in the room who didn’t know the answer.
<Ritual of Exchange: An exchanging of one’s heartgem with another Celestial; an ancient rite that had gone out of practice, and yet remains a contract of the most sacred nature.>
<You contracted with the enemy?> Sephiron questioned accusingly. He was beginning to doubt whether or not Prince Leorainos would be the right candidate for Regent as Grantig had thought. And yet the blond-haired Sylrill didn’t seem too concerned with this crime, he merely held up the Soul Glass and inspected it with curiosity as he looked around the hall at the multicoloured dancing flames which differentiate the various volumes.
<I knew that you were the Prince simply because of the way you answered my questions regarding the Queen and yourself earlier. Looking through the Soul Glass, I recognized your Soulflame as the very same one which engulfed your name. Simple observation.>
<To think that it took me years to be able to differentiate between the various flames. You really are something Grantig Shieldfall.> Said the Prince. <Now I am curious as to how you’ve deduced my crime.>
<That heartgem of yours, I noted, was different to those I saw on your wing orbs when you briefly called it out earlier. So that was how I knew it was the Ritual of Exchange. I guessed Rathnor because of the seal that had been placed upon it. I have seen them used before on Rathnor Prisoners in the past, however, this one is a slightly weaker one as it allows you to still retain the necessary powers to perform your Keeper duties I would guess. The Ritual would also be the only crime worth punishing with the Soultime Curse. As we Sylrills do not believe in the death penalty for fellow Sylrills, especially in your case. Exiling you would be too risky, as citizens may chance upon you, and it would be inconvenient for the heir to the throne to be known to do such thing. They probably killed your talespirit to remove all records of your existence from the History of Sylrillia. This is also not difficult of course, as the crime you committed is only of a Rite that only existed in the ancient past, no one knows of its nature save for the Royal Family, and the Grand Maester, who has permission to any and all books and archives in the realm.>
<…all that in a matter of minutes.>
<I’m used to it.> Said Sephiron as he placed the Royal Family’s volume on to his lap and started browsing through it.
<And the curse? Surely I have never heard of the Soultime Curse before. I have read all the relevant books in the restricted section…>
<That is because it was my master who derived it, used it once and once only, and took the secret pertaining it to his grave.> Grantig’s brows furrowed. He adjusted his glasses and seemed to be in deep thought. True, he knew of the curse, what it does…but as he said, that was all his master, the previous Grand Maester, ever taught him of the curse; he didn’t even remember who he used it on, such was the nature of the curse. It was a terrible fate, and it was only right that this was never recorded or be made available for use again. This is the one curse he did not know how to break. Unless…<Queen Loraina might know.> He said suddenly. The other two had very nearly forgotten about the Queen. The discovery of the prince was too big a news to consider any other news. Now that they think about it, the Queen that was supposed to have been dead for years is still alive and they haven’t a clue where she is.
<Why the Queen?> Asked Sephiron, confused.
<Because, she was my master’s student before me apparently.> Said Grantig. <Although, now that I know about our Death Keeper--> he turned to Scythe. <--so were you. I recognize a Maester Magus when I see one. And who else would be a suitable tutor to the prince but the Grand Maester himself.>
<He was the wisest, most intelligent Sylrill I knew. Although, he may have already found a fitting candidate to take that mantel.>
<Flatter me not Your Highness, I am a mere child compared to him. His talent is beyond my wildest imagination.>
<But remember Grantig, ”Talent is but a catalyst—“>
<”—to what passion and effort can achieve.” I know .> Grantig finished the quote for him. <It was what he kept telling me.> Grantig thought back to his days as the student of the previous Grand Maester. He considered himself fortunate to have been chosen by the Great Raelenor himself. However, the old magus had died trying to find a way to undo this very Soultime Curse. So what do you do to something even a catalyst can’t achieve, Master? Grantig remembered that the Curse was developed by his master with the help of his student, at the time, Duchess Loraina, who after having developed it demanded they found a way to undo it before ever putting it to the test. That the Soultime Curse she helped develop would be used against her own son, she never foresaw, neither did she ever know it was ever used. So that was why Grand Maester Raelenor was so determined to find a cure. He thought. It was his way of making amends for his betrayal to his student. The cogs are ticking in Grantig’s mind. All the history and hidden past are unfurling before his very eyes and yet there are so many unanswered questions still. He was interrupted, however.
<I would have liked to have a proper conversation with you later Grand Maester, but should you really be wasting your time talking to me here?>Leorainos pointed out, causing Grantig to snap out of his thought process. <Surely, if my sister and her other Guardians have disappeared to an unknown Reality, the difference in time passage could mean that time could have passed…>
Realization dawned on Grantig’s face. <You are right! Damn it! How could I have overlooked this? The difference between Celestial time and other realities can range from twenty to several hundred times. It had been a day since they were sent. I’m not too familiar with the average rate of time passage but if I remembered correctly the Princess have taken from three days to a month on each mission.>
<So all we do is wait for her to return?> ventured Sephiron. He was met by both Grantig’s piercing and the Prince’s blind gaze which screamed ‘how stupid are you?’ as clear as day that he regretted asking the question.
<Ordinarily, a Sylrill would find their way back after their mission is completed, but if they were sent because of that, they would have never gone through memory selection. This means that they would have no memory of their Sylrill lives...> Explained Grantig, staying as calm as he could.
<What he means is that they could just live a mortal life and die a mortal of that Reality if you can’t find them and bring them back in time.> Finished the Prince.
<Then we have no time to lose!> shouted Sephiron as he stood up so suddenly that the chair he was sitting on toppled over.
<It will be impossible to find the Reality Realm they have been sent to among the many. We would have to read through all the Tales that are being written. Damn it! We don’t have that kind of time!> by this time Grantig had also stood up and begun pacing the chamber. He had, admittedly, given up on the Prince for the moment. A curse he could not solve, that his Master could not figure a cure to, as much as he’d hate to admit it, he could see a lost cause when he saw one.
<I suggest you start looking Grand Maester. Not that I am of particular concern for the outside world, but it would be rather sad if I had to watch my sister’s flame die too. Why don’t you leave a communication seal in here and I shall keep you posted should any of the relevant flames die out?> Asked the Prince. It had been a while since he had had visitors after all, and he is beginning to like these Guardians which his sister had been fortunate enough to have.
<That would be very kind of you Your Highness. Let us go Sky General.> That said, he stormed out through the portal. But before he could, he did not forget to give a small bow to the Prince who is also his senior student. Sephiron observed in disapproval at the bow, but followed him through the portal. The Death Keeper would have gained Grantig’s respect, but not his. A criminal is a criminal, and to think that a Prince would contract with the enemy, Leorainos is no more his prince than he ever was. With that, he stepped out of the Death Keeper’s Gate, and never looked back.