Read The Written Online

Authors: Ben Galley

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The Written

BOOK: The Written
12.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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The
Written

By Ben
Galley

 

Published by Ben Galley at
Smashwords

Copyright © Ben Galley 2010

 

The right of Ben Galley to be
identified as the author of this work has been asserted in
accordance the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved.

This ebook is licensed for your
personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given
away to other people. If you would like to share this book with
another person, please purchase an additional copy for each
recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or
it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to
Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting
the hard work of this author.

 

TWEB1 Smashwords Edition

ISBN: 978-0-9567700-2-8

Cover by Mikael Westman.

Original Illustration by Claudia
West.

Professional Dreaming by Ben
Galley

 

www.bengalley.com

 

Ben Galley is a young author
from sunny England, and still thinks dragons are real. He spends
his time writing strange fiction and dreaming, and is forever
grateful for the invention of the spellchecker. He wrote this book
especially for you and he hopes that you enjoy it.

 

This book has been produced on
virtual paper from imaginary trees grown in sustainable
make-believe forests, so you know it’s good.

 

This book is for my parents,
because without them I wouldn’t be where I am right now, nor would
any of us.

 

Part
One

It begins with
Snow

 

Chapter
1

 

“…
when the
sons of gods went to the daughters of man and had children by their
wombs, they became the giants of old, the nefalim, “men” of renown
and infamy, dangerous like wolves amongst sheep...”

From the ‘Gathered
Prophetics’

It was snowing outside. The
white flakes fell lazily in the night breeze, dusting the rocky
mountainside with an ivory blanket. Little crystals of ice, each as
perfect as the next, flurried and spun and danced through the cold
air. A tall spire rose from an outcrop of quiet buildings amongst
the snowy crags, where one lonely yellow window glowed brightly
through the blizzard. Framed by the light, a very old man stood at
the windowsill with his arms crossed. He sighed with tiredness and
fought back yet another yawn. He shivered and rubbed his arms as if
it would help, but still he did not move away from the window. He
found the cold weather outside calming after a long day of hard
study. And it had been a hard day of study indeed.

Behind him, gathered around a
desk and poring over a small square book, sat a group of four
equally aged men. The room was cavernous and packed floor to
ceiling with bursting bookshelves, each one filled with an
impossible amount of paper and knowledge. Loose pages were
everywhere and scrolls lay under dust and old maps, littering the
floors and shelves like dried autumn leaves. One single candle,
almost at the end of its wick, clung to life on the corner of the
wooden desk, throwing distorted shadows against the walls.

‘I don’t even think it’s
Siren,’ said the man at the window. He absently twisted a bit of
his long white hair around a wrinkled finger and sipped at warm
wine. The papery wattle of skin around his neck made his chin
disappear.

‘Of course it is, Innel, just
look at the scales of the front cover!’ replied one of the others.
He waved his hand in a somewhat dismissive gesture. He coughed
hoarsely, as if the cough had caught him by surprise, and dabbed a
careful handkerchief to his lips. Spectacles made from slices of
rare crystal balanced precariously on his nose and a long beard,
streaked with grey, covered his chin and neck. The group of
scholars mused for a few moments. ‘Where was it found again?’ asked
another, peering at his colleagues from under wiry grey
eyebrows.

The bespectacled man spoke up
again. ‘No one knows exactly, some village in southern Nelska,’ he
said, and there was a silence.

‘Fifteen years later and only
now do we get to study this manuscript. Who knows the incalculable
value of the magick held inside this book,’ said Innel, tugging his
long blue robe about him. It was now too cold. He shivered as he
pulled the stained glass windows shut with a bang. He turned and
sighed, leaning back against the stone sill and looking to the man
with the tiny glasses. ‘So the question remains, how do we get the
confounded thing open? Have we had a reply from Krauslung yet,
Gernn?’

‘No, no not as yet. They’re
always late...’ he trailed off, distracted. He leaned forward to
take a closer look at the book lying on the desk. It was small for
a start, no bigger than a man’s hand. Several black dragon scales
adorned the cover, pressed flat and trimmed to fit its square
shape. Probably from an infant wyrm, thought Gernn, as he let his
fingers trace the ridges and dips of the cover. A thick gold lock,
simple but firm, held the small book shut, with no keyhole or
opening mechanism anywhere to be seen. The ancient pages poking out
from the edges were torn and dirty. The man tried once again to
split a few pages apart with a long yellow fingernail, but the book
was locked fast, and not even the tip of a knife blade could
squeeze between them. After a rather dramatic sigh that was
probably much louder than necessary he entwined his fingers and
leaned back in his chair, and the ornate wood creaked as he did
so.

‘Well nothing’s changed since
this afternoon. The bloody thing’s still locked tighter than a
vampyre’s coffin. And as none of us here possess the skill to
unlock it, or even know what spell could force it open, I suggest
we just wait for…’ But Gernn was interrupted by the sounds of heavy
boots on stone.

A loud voice made them all
turn. ‘Having trouble, wise men of Arfell?’ A tall hooded man
suddenly emerged from the doorway, hands clasped behind his back
and a warm smile on his face. The tall newcomer walked from the
door to the desk in a few long strides and stomped the last bits of
snow from his black leather boots. The scholars were a little
startled but as he moved from the shadows and into the candlelight
they quickly recognised a familiar face. The man threw back his
hood. A chorus of respectful smiles followed.

Innel jumped up from the
windowsill to greet the man with a warm handshake, the wattle of
skin beneath his neck wobbling like a turkey’s. ‘Your Mage, what an
unexpected honour! What, with the weather and all we didn’t expect
you or Åddren to arrive for another two days,’ he said.

The tall mage kept his smile,
while he removed his hooded green and gold robe and folded it
neatly over an armchair with one fluid move. There was a long sword
at his waist, in an ornate scabbard, and his expensive tunic was
made of a fine emerald cloth trimmed with white and gold. ‘Don’t be
ridiculous, the weather has never stopped me,’ he chuckled. ‘When
we heard that you had uncovered a long lost book of secrets, I
decided that no time should be wasted in coming to see it!’ The man
crossed his muscular arms and looked at each of them with dark
nut-brown eyes. ‘Please, show me what you have found,’ he said, as
Innel retreated slowly to a chair.

Gernn rose, obviously eager to
impress, while the others remained silent and seated, fingers
entwined in their long flowing beards. ‘It is most definitely
Siren, sire, as we thought,’ at this point he threw his colleagues
a quick sideways look. ‘But this book is not from the time of the
war, it seems to be very different from the other texts we have
recovered from the dragon-riders, perhaps older...’

‘Continue,’ said the mage.

Gernn took a quick breath
before carrying on, and pointed to the gold on the black cover. ‘It
does have some sort of magick lock on the cover, with no key to
unlock it. We’ve come across this type of thing before but this is
too powerful and too old for us. So as yet we have been unable to
read it,’ Gernn shrugged and thoughtfully rubbed his beard once
more, gazing wistfully at the little book. There was a moment of
silence and the tall man let a satisfied smile creep over his
wind-burned face before turning to the others. ‘Perhaps I could
help with that part,’ he said. His mahogany eyes flicked around the
circle. ‘If I can get it open, can you translate it?’

‘If it’s legible, then we can
read it. We men of Arfell have come across all of the languages
that have ever been heard in Emaneska. There isn’t a book we’ve
seen that we couldn’t translate,’ answered a third man, with a slow
and constant nodding of his head. He looked to be the oldest by
many a mile, greyer than a winter’s day and waiting patiently at
death’s doorstep. The others murmured their assent with a chorus of
throat-clearing and more rubbing of chins and facial hair.

‘Good.’ The mage strode forward
and flexed his hands. He briefly took a moment to think and then
leant over the oak desk, humming and musing and making a sucking
noise with his teeth. The scholars watched him think and looked
between themselves with a mixture of intrigue and uncertainty.

The tall man muttered
something, perhaps an incantation, as he reached towards the book
with his fingers rigid and outspread. A tiny ripple of air pulsated
from his hand like a wave of heat over a fire. A purple spark
danced over the cover, and he whispered something, muttering again,
but louder this time. ‘This book is strong,’ he mumbled from
between pursed lips. He seemed to be straining to keep his fingers
spread. The mage’s hand pulsed again and he took a firmer stance
this time, spreading his feet and gripping the edge of the table.
More sparks fizzed over the cover and then, quite abruptly, the
thick lock made a little click, and smoothly rolled open.

The scholars all leaned forward
with open mouths and wide eyes, eager to see what the dark book
held between its dusty yellow pages. The tall mage wiped a single
drop of sweat from his brow and smiled, clenching his fist a few
times to get rid of the numbness. ‘Read your book, gentlemen.’ He
smiled like a wolf approaching a trapped rabbit.

The oldest scholar wiped
something from his nose and moved to carefully lift the scaly
cover. With agonising slowness he turned it and then he paused,
smoothing out the first page with his hands. Peering through misty
eyes at the thick writing, he nodded and scanned the script. ‘It’s
elvish, dark elf, if I’m not mistaken. I... I haven’t seen a text
like this for years,’ he said, somewhat shakily.

‘Elvish. That is an old
language indeed,’ commented the tall mage. It may have been the
flickering candlelight, but it seemed to Innel that the mage’s eyes
widened ever so slightly at the news. ‘The oldest, your mage,’ he
answered.

Beside them the old scholar
shuddered as he read onwards. He coughed briefly and turned the
next page. ‘It reads...’ he paused, tracing the script.

The Testament of Bringing
. But that word
could also mean, erm
creating
, or…’

Gernn adjusted his crystal
spectacles and peered at the writing. ‘
Summoning
.’

The mage turned to him, looking
down his nose at the scholar. ’Summoning?’

Gernn nodded eagerly, almost
losing his glasses. ‘Yes, as I’m sure you know sire, the dark elves
were powerful creatures, capable of controlling the darkest of all
magicks.’

‘It’s a summoning manual?’
asked the man.

‘Yes your Mage. Their acolytes
could summon huge beasts from the darkest places of the world at
the cast of a single spell.’ Innel went to a bookshelf and brought
back a rare slice of tapestry covered with crude pictures depicting
battles with strange goblin-type animals, and giant winged
creatures with many horns wearing what looked to be golden
crowns.

‘I remember,’ muttered the mage
as he turned the tapestry to face him. The others looked up
questioningly. ‘I said I remember seeing something like this
before, in other books and old paintings at the citadel.’

‘Of course sire,’ Innel nodded,
wondering if he had seen any such paintings in Krauslung. There was
something like an itch in his mind.

‘Where are the keys?’ The mage
asked quickly, tapping the page with a finger. Keys could be found
in every spell book and any book without them was useless. They
were the start of any incantation, the unlocking words to begin a
spell.

The oldest scholar turned a few
pages carefully, where more runes were scribbled. He pointed to a
few random symbols hiding at the corners of one page. ‘For the
spell? Erm, there, and the other, there. These are the main words,
me
and
hear
.
Saying them in the other order, of course, would open the spell. I
don’t dare to read aloud any further; it seems we have uncovered a
very special book indeed. It must be over a thousand years old...’
his voice cracked and his words trailed off into silence. The
scholar’s hand was shaking more than usual.

BOOK: The Written
12.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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