Here is the Prolog:
Ryasi Volcum gripped the stone ledge of the North tower as his eyes scanned the edge of the forest. Something evil approached. He had tried to tell the others in the castle but they wouldn’t listen. No one would listen to a servant, especially a servant with the sight.
He hit the stone with his fist. Is all of Aztar oblivious to the foul wind?
Because of his large size, his rank cast him as nothing more than a servant. After all, his size made him a good shield to hide the tiny Royal Family. The Museth were the smallest of all the races and the smartest. It was being smart that made them special, made them the guardians of the Books of Zmeria. And as guardians, they revealed to the people only as much as they believed necessary.
Ryasi first admitted to having the sight a season ago. He warned the King an evil was coming, evil spoken of in the Zmeria. You would think a race so well known for its wisdom and cunning would have spared a moment to consider his words. But for his warning he was beaten and told to never speak of the sight again.
It is an abomination, the King proclaimed with each lash of the whip.
There, Ryasi saw something. It was moving closer to the castle. The wide expanse of snow-covered ground between the castle and the forest appeared to shift.
Ryasi Volcum knew the sight was no abomination. The castle was about to fall. He had to save the Zmeria. He hurried to the hidden doorway and entered. He rushed through the tiny passage that ran between the walls. Finally he reached the hidden chamber.
The chill that grew from his inside outward held him almost immobile, but he struggled through it. There were so many scripts. He could not carry them all. He could barely read and
so had no idea
what he should take. Quickly, he decided to let the sight lead him and began to
stuff as many as he could push inside his clothing.
A pain of such magnitude slammed into his head that he dropped to his knees. He knew he was not wounded. It was a warning from the sight. He had to leave this place. He had to leave now!
He stumbled through the darkness caused by his pain. He felt a stone on the wall that moved under his touch. A faint scent of fresh air drifted toward him from the small opening that appeared before him. He didn’t hesitate to step in the tight space. Immediately the stone slid back into place.
Warned by his sense, he knew the evil drew closer. He prayed he had properly shut and concealed the doorway to the Zmeria Chamber. Ryasi wanted to hide the scripts he held and return to do battle, but he knew he must escape with the writings. The writings would help his world heal and then prepare to battle the Evil that would come.
Ryasi knew deep inside his soul, what he did today would determine if his people would someday reclaim Aztar. He struggled with the battle that raged inside him.
Drawing a deep breath, he called out to Father Creator, “Give me strength, Father. I will protect the scripts as best I can, but I can not leave others behind.” As he turned the stone once again opened. Had he passed the test?
Hurrying from the chamber he made sure he sealed the entrance. The closest chamber was the servant’s quarters. He rushed forward to the cot of Ambrose Zantar, the head keep of the servant staff.
“Wake. You must hurry, it comes.”
Ambrose woke with a start, but it took only a moment for him to understand and roll from his cot. “I will warn as many as will listen, but how do we get out?”
“Evil comes from the east. Go out the door leading to the garden. Past the herbs there is a small gate. Just beyond the gate there is an entranced to the caverns. Go in there and wait for others to come.”
Ryasi reached inside his shirt and withdrew several scripts. “Here, take these. I have more in my clothes.”
Ambrose looked at Ryasi like he was mad. “We have no time for this.” When Ryasi grabbed his arm, he insisted, “Let me go, Ryasi, I must warn the others.”
Ryasi did not release his arm. Instead he shoved the scripts toward him. “Take them. They are part of the Zmeria.”
Ambrose snatched the scripts and stuffed them in his shirt as he hurried toward the servant’s quarters.
Ryasi’s body shook violently and he knew time ran short. He ran to the King’s quarters and burst through the door.
King Elgin Isri was dressed and preparing for battle. “I owe you an apology, Ryasi, but there is no time now. I see them out there, though I wonder how. I never knew there were beings in that forest that could hide themselves so well.”
He tossed a sword to Ryasi, “Take this and my family with you. I know you now.” He rolled his eyes upward, “Father, forgive me my arrogance.”
Ryasi heard a noise and twirled. Behind him stood the Queen. In her arms she held Prince Elgin.
The King gestured him to hurry. “Go now, save as many as you can. I and the Royal Guard will hold them back as long as we can.”
The Queen, being from Romtha, was only slightly larger than the King and was easy to snatch up, babe in arms. Ryasi carried them both from the room. As he ran down one corridor after the other, always headed downward and toward the kitchen, he called a warning. Everyone within earshot followed him without question.
The corridor became crowded as guards ran past to do battle with an evil force they were not prepared to face and could hardly see. The sounds of battle hurried them on, some to battle, some to escape.
Ryasi and the small band that remained burst into the garden. He hurried them all to the gate and led the way to the caverns. Once inside precious few waited. Among the survivors were a few of his own tall and very large race, mostly female. The others must have chosen to stand and fight so the females could escape.
He looked about the survivors to count the numbers and the supplies. Like his own race, few men numbered among the Queen’s homeland of Romtha. The same was true of the people from Iskaria.
Most disturbing was the very few left of the Museth, the King’s race. Though the King’s race was the smallest of all the people, they were the ones that could read the Zmeria records. Protecting the records that detailed their beginning and taught them the Father Creator’s words became the bond that kept all the people together.
It was only right that a king and protector should be chosen from the people who could read and interpret the words. Now they were a people without a home. The Evil was planted firmly in this region. No one must be allowed back in and the evil must not be allowed escape.
The memory of the King’s words drifted through his mind.
I know you now. Ryasi wondered about its meaning.
The sounds of battle raged outside and were easily heard from their hiding place. “We can not stay here. The men out there,” he pointed to the cavern mouth, “are dying to keep our people alive. We are no less men and no less courageous for taking survivors from this place. Go, take them further into the cavern. I will follow shortly.”
One of the men from Romtha stepped forward and turned to the small, frightened crowd, “I am called Peter. We will travel through that cavern.” He pointed to one of many openings within the large cave. “I know the way through these caverns all the way to Romtha. If there is no one within each of your races that knows the way to their own homeland, do not worry. We will find the way together.” He then led the group forward.
Again the words entered his mind. I know you now.
“Wait,” everyone turned to look at Ryasi. “Our homelands are separated by great distance.” He pulled scripts from his shirt, “Here, Peter, in case I do not return, be sure a person form one house of each region has a script. They must be protected and everyone must be allowed to study them.”
Peter nodded as he took the scripts from Ryasi.
Ryasi turned and moved to the cavern entrance. Just outside several of the Evil Ones stood and glared in at him. Shock filled his every fiber of being. They were so close, yet they did not enter.
In his head he heard... Come out to us, human. He placed his hands to his ears. Did they speak to him?
He watch in disbelief as the bodies shifted and changed in color. Becoming agitated, they pointed toward the trees and the tree’s branches swayed and bent into grotesque shapes. Behind the Evil Ones, the castle remained in attack as the men ran out to meet the foe in battle.
As he watched in horror the carnage before him, he realized the Evil Ones had not entered the stone castle. They didn’t have to. Every man ran out to them.
Come out. Fight like a warrior. It would be a dishonor to you as a warrior if we come in and drag you out.
“If you could enter here you would have already.”
The Evil Ones screeched in vexation.
Sickened by the sight and knowing what he must do, he turned his back on the Evil Ones as well as the sight and sounds of his own people being slaughtered.
Ryasi hurried to catch up with the others. They traveled deep enough into the cavern to no longer hear the battle.
“We need to stop here and rest.” Ryasi walked over and took the Prince from his mother’s arms. “Sit down, I’ll hand him back when you are ready. You need to rest now.”
The Queen obeyed as if no rational thought was left to her. When she reached up for her son Ryasi handed him to her.
“We must put a ban on the Great Forest. The ban must include the castle and the land around it,” he spoke softly to the shattered group. “Everyone must be warned to stay out of this Region.”
The Queen looked up. “We must go back. There may be survivors.”
He knelt down in front of her. “There are no survivors, my Queen. You must take care of Prince Elgin now.”
“What is to stop them from following us?” asked Ambrose Zantar.
Ryasi rubbed his large hand across the top of his head and tried to make sense of it in his own mind. “They would not enter the caverns and they did not enter the castle. I do not understand it.” Ryasi turned his gaze to Ambrose, “They can not or will not enter the stone walls.”
Ryasi cleared his throat to address the small band. He was about to commit himself to a promise he prayed he could fulfill. “My homeland is the closet to this place. My kind has always shielded the royal family. I vow I will raise a guard to enforce the ban on this place. No one must enter, and the Evil Ones must not escape.”
The men exchanged low rumbles of mutterings as they gathered and sat about a small fire.
Ambrose was the first to speak up, “So, we must travel only through the caverns to our homelands?” He looked to Ryasi. “Do you think the Evil has already reached our homes?”