Chapter 15:

Vol 1: Ch 14: Hall of Souls

Realms of Destiny


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A day had passed since the demonic hosts of Rathnoria were defeated by the joint army, although, neither side really did win, that was the feeling in Lillyth Morgend’s heart. As Prince Flaros’s right-hand officer, she shouldn’t be lying idle in the sick bed as she is doing now. She did not remember much of what happened last night when she returned from the battle-field. Her arm was rendered useless by that Sylrill Byakuron Stormkeeper, a name she would never let slip from her mind. She knew that she was at a disadvantage, but she would’ve dealt more damage had that pillar of light not ploughed through her and a vast amount of her troops from out of nowhere. She gave a sigh and stared at the ceiling for a while longer.

As a Celestial being, it did not take her long to recover from an injury, however, unlike the Sylrills who specialize in healing and regeneration, Rathnorian magic can only destroy, and anything that is used for healing were made by the apothecary and was nowhere near as good as Sylrillian regenerative powers. She still felt queasy from the side-effects of the strange concoction the palace alchemist gave her for her arm.

With a grunt and through sheer determination, Lillyth sat up. She can no longer stay in bed resting when she’s not even sure of the fate of the Blood Prince - or the Shadow Prince as he is also known. There is no one around with enough authority to make any form of announcement to the demonic troops, she would have to do it, but before doing so, it would be fit to at least try to find out what had happened to Prince Flaros. All these should have been done last night, but she was so exhausted and injured to the point where she collapsed as soon as she got back.

Having made up her mind, Lillyth got out of bed and begun dressing immediately. She hurriedly left her room and headed towards the lower dungeons of the palace. Not far from her room she walked past the palace alchemist, bringing her the morning’s dose of recovery potion. She picked it up from the tray without any pause in her stride and downed it in one go, wincing as the bitter, hot liquid coursed down her throat.

Lillyth turned the corner marked by a massive display armor and followed a long tunnel that led to the heart of the palace: the Hall of Souls. There were two massive demonkin guards standing by the doors to the Hall and a Rathnorian dark priest, in a hooded black cloak.
“My apologies Rathnor sister, but visiting day is not for the next two days. The Hall of Souls is closed to the general public right now.” Said the hooded figure.
“I, General Lillyth Morgend, second-in-command to the Blood Prince Flaros Zephyren Rathnorian, would like to request passage into the Hall of Souls.” Said Lillyth, not angrily, as all dark priests are servants of the magic of Rathnor, and are as well respected as an army commander, as a sacred location, if she had not been given leave to enter by the priest, she would not be able to step foot into that hall. “It is a matter of utmost urgency.” She added. 

Without needing her to tell him, the priest knew exactly who she was and what importance she held, nevertheless, phrasing her request in that manner, and using the Prince’s name, meant that it was a formal request. If there was a problem both of them would have to answer to Flaros. Knowing nothing of the outside world nor what happened to Flaros, the priest thought it wise to let her in.

“Very well.” Said the dark priest. He turned to the two guards on the door, both were twice the height of the priest, and nodded. He then stood to one side and the two massive figures grabbed hold of the door handles and pulled it open.

Lillyth Morgend had never been particularly religious, she had chosen the life of a warrior after all, and visiting the Hall of Souls, is something most Rathnors do on a yearly basis to see where the Grand Design is leading them. She had only ever been inside this hall as a young Rathnorian and even then she didn’t see much point in visiting the place; for the Hall of Souls, is a curious place.

No one knew exactly how long ago the Hall was built, nor did anyone alive know who built it. The Hall is at the core of the Rathnorian Royal Palace, and it is believed that the foundation stone is also within this very room. It is the source of all Rathnorian magic, many young Rathnorian dark priests would find themselves spending time in these halls, taking in the magic before embarking on their more rigorous academic pursuits. She had read about the Hall in books, but what she saw wasn’t quite what she imagined.

The two massive doors opened into a large chamber which Lillyth couldn’t believe could fit considering where she was. From the doorway where she stood, the stairs lead down a gigantic hallway, lined from about halfway down into an amphitheatre format, with candles of various lengths. Some of these candles were lit, some weren’t, some have burned themselves out, while others seemed more like they have been blown out. Most of them were on the pedestals, while some were floating eerily above her. She was awestruck at the sight and majesty of the whole place, and would have forgotten why she came here had the priest by the door not called her.

“Do you know how to operate the search device General Morgend?” asked the priest. Lillyth’s confused looked gave him his answer. It had been hundreds of years ago that she visited the place, she was sure that whatever device he was talking about did not exist then. ”Please follow me.” 

The priest led the way down the stairs, followed by the one-eyed general. They came to stop at one of the first landings where there was what looked like a stone obelisk with runes on it. The dark priest extended his hand so that it hovered above the obelisk, releasing a bit of Darkness magic, something which all Rathnorians are quite capable of doing. The runes on the obelisk lit up and a holographic screen appeared just in front of them with a massively long list of names. 

“This is the search device.” Said the priest. “All you have to do is use a little Darkness magic on the obelisk, and the screen comes up. Browse through it with your mind, if you have a name in mind that would make it all the more simple. Who is it that you seek?” asked the priest.

“Thank you for showing me how to operate the search device Brother…”

“Vantas.”

“Brother Vantas. But I would like to continue my pursuits on my own if you don’t mind.” Said Morgend. Although, it is not usual that the members of the religion, especially one that watches over places such as the Hall of Souls, would give much of a care about what’s going on outside of the palace, who knows what the possible news of the death of the Demon Lord and his heir would do.

“Very well then. Please take your time.” Brother Vantas bowed his hooded head and walked back up towards the double doors. He could not call forth his wings, for any magic used in this chamber which is beyond the level required to operate the search engine is not permitted. Every Rathnor has their own reason for being in the Hall of Souls, and it is not strange that one would want to continue whatever pursuit on their own. The religious order respects such individual pursuits, and it is not in his position to question anyway.

The moment the door closed behind Brother Vantas, Lillyth extended her hand over the obelisk and did what the dark priest did earlier. The holographic screen appeared and immediately she directed her mind towards his name. Flaros Zephyren Rathnorian. The letters on the screen began to swim around and formed the name she was thinking of, the letters than floated together into one spot, the picture of a candle flame on the screen. A map of the Hall then appeared on the screen and the candle flame floated towards one corner of the map and stopped there. Lillyth studied the map and looked at the room she was in. She could tell whereabouts that candle would be. Immediately, she memorized the location and made her way towards it.

Like the Death Keeper’s Gates in Sylrillia, the Hall of Souls holds records of Rathnorians who ever lived and died. Unlike Sylrillians however, healthy souls cannot be nurtured into becoming a Rathnorian, and they can only be born into one. Since Rathnorians are powerful magical beings, it usually takes a lot out of the mother when a child is born, and most female Rathnors can handle no more than two births before they die. Therefore, the Rathnorian population is very small compared to the Sylrillians. However, unlike the Death Keeper’s Gates, the Hall of Souls has another function which Scythe’s library did not: the candles. 

The candles are believed by the Rathnorians to be Candles of Destiny and it shows how long each Rathnorian are destined to live. The rate at which one candle burn out has nothing to do with the amount of time it had been burning for, but how that particular Rathnor led his life. If that Rathnor did something to the contrary to the will of the Grand Design, the candle will burn down faster, and should it run out, the flame is sure to disappear. Despite this, it is more usually the case that the flames are blown out before the candle has reached its end, this happens when someone or something else takes the Rathnor’s life. This is precisely what Lillyth is looking for.

To her relief, she had come to stop by the Blood Prince’s candle, and it was burning as brightly as any other candles, although, the length of the candle itself is quite short compared to some of the other ones around it. She would have to worry about that later, now she must find a way to restore order, knowing that the Prince is alive, and would be ready to retake the throne as soon as he returns. Now, she has some public announcement to make.
Lillyth was about to make her way back to her office from the Hall of Souls, which was quite deep down at the centre of the palace when just outside her office, she could see a tall, familiar, spikey-haired, head-banded figure approaching, accompanied by a red-eyed, slightly rabid-looking hell hound.

“Lestadt.” Said Lillyth at the same time that the figure noticed her and waved as he was moving closer.

“Sister! How do?” was his response from halfway down the hallway. With the acoustics of the place, his voice echoed eerily along the empty corridor, making Lillyth narrow her eyes in annoyance. She stopped just in front of her room so that her younger brother could catch up.

“What do you want Lestadt? I’m busy, I’m going to have to make a general announcement this afternoon at the latest and name a regent before the Prince gets back.” She said, as she opened her door to let them both in.

“Regent? So the Prince is alive then? Praise be to G.D.!!” exclaimed the younger Rathnor cheerfully. “Hear that Razile? Our pal the Prince is alive!” he happily petted his hell hound which growled back at him. “I was getting worried there for a while, if he’s not around, I wouldn’t be allowed into the Twilight Garden.”

“How many times have I told you to stay away from that place? It belongs to His Royal Highness, you will get yourself in trouble one day by messing around in his Harem!” Lillyth reprimanded in annoyance.

Lestadt Morgend, not only is the beloved brother of the famed General Morgend, he is also Flaros’s childhood “friend”, who knew him from a young age all the way through military school; another title he proudly bears however, is “Lestadt, the Cassanova of Rathnoria”. Lillyth had always known that her brother was the biggest womanizer in town, however, that had never really bothered her until she found out that Flaros had been letting his friend, her brother, into his very own harem, “The Twilight Garden”. 

Since Flaros spends too much time and effort with his missions to have time for women, he had only gone there for relaxation purposes after a hard day’s training the troops, where the girls in the Garden would pamper him. Unlike the Demon King’s “Midnight Garden”, the Prince’s harem is not exclusive to himself alone, and so long as the Prince allows, a ‘friend’ like Lestadt was able to accompany him in there. Seeing how this works wonders for his troops and its morale, Flaros had made it an occasional thing to award his officers with an hour or two in the Twilight Garden. Lestadt, however, had the privilege of going there whenever he pleases as Flaros’s closest ‘friend’.

“I don’t see why you’re so concerned Sis, the Prince himself doesn’t have a problem with it, and neither do the girls.” He gave a crooked but smug smile which many women find utterly charming, yet Lillyth found extremely annoying.

“Because now that the Demon Lord is dead, those ‘girls’ you frequently sleep with are going to become the King’s harem. If you don’t keep your cock to yourself,” she pointed an accusing finger at his chest, “your head might be the next to go.”

“Now wouldn’t that be nice? My bastard son might be the next one raised as the heir to the throne!” he said with a cheeky smile.

“How dare you!” Lillyth threw a gauntleted punch at his jawline but, accustomed to such attacks, he dodged just in time.

“Hahahah! Jokes, Sis.” Said Lestadt, still laughing. “Although, if it is true about the Prince, then there may be some interesting theatricals to be seen behind the doors of the two Gardens. This should be thoroughly amusing. I’m heading back to the Twilight Garden now, I’ll let you know if anything juicy crops up.”

“Wait!” said Lillyth, however, her brother had already leapt out the window, gliding on his black wings towards the Twilight Garden before she could stop him. As head of the Abyssalus army, her brother would have been useful had he the mind to help her sort this mess out, seems to be too much to ask for after all. She is going to have to deal with all of this on her own. Lillyth put the matters between the two Gardens out of her mind before picking up a scroll from her drawer, dipping a crow’s feather into the pot of ink and begun writing down the contents of her announcement.

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