Volume I : The Flood
Chapter 34 – Horus’ Wrath – Part 1
Amon didn’t explain to Lynk where he had gone the day before. It was too complicated, and it was better to keep some privacy. Amon asked Lynk if there were any marshes or pools in the nearby iron-rich areas, so that the Ironbacks could find a new home.
“There’s a good place, indeed.” Lynk answered after thinking a short while, “There’s a pool in the thick forest below the rocks to the southeast of the village, not too far from the path leading to the outside of the mountains. The rocks there are rich in iron. You…you aren’t going to raise these beasts beside the village, are you?”
“What, are you scared?” laughed Amon, “Actually, Ironbacks don’t eat people. They don’t require much for food, waterweeds or tiny fish and shrimp will suffice. They hunt small animals sometimes. These five beasts are larger than ordinary savage Ironbacks, but they are also intelligent enough to understand many things. They are my followers now and have promised me that they will not hurt your clansmen. If you raise them near your village, they can even protect you.”
“As for you, you shouldn’t be afraid of them. Once you get to know them, they can be your match in practice. They are smarter than you think and they can know what you want. Don’t worry too much and keep practicing. When you became a third-level mage, I’ll give you a real staff and a weapon as gifts.”
Hearing the last sentence, Lynk’s eyes beamed with joy, his worries faded faster than snow under the burning sun. Grinning from ear to ear, he nodded, “Oh my god! Thank you for your favor! I’m abashed at your generosity! Please tell me what your sincere servant can do for you?”
Amon waved his hand, “You’ve done well enough for me. I’ll tell you if I want something later.”
Lynk’s eyes rolled and he asked tentatively, “My dear god, can I ask you one more favor?”
Amon was just about to eat the roast meat. He swallowed a bite, “Go ahead.”
Lynk stammered, “Can…can I learn how to… write? As you know, my clansmen don’t know how to write. But you once said that I had better learn to write…But who is going to teach me?”
Amon answered without thinking, “Oh, right, you should learn how to write, or you will have difficulties learning more advanced magic. I’ll teach you when I’m available. It’s not easy, you have to work hard at it.”
Lynk nodded like a woodpecker, “Of course! I’ll work hard at it. Thank you for this favor!……How can writing be harder than magic?”
Lynk danced off exultingly, feeling like a huge load was off his mind. He had been worrying that Amon would somehow suddenly leave, and had been worrying ever since Amon asked him about the path to the outside of the mountains. Then Amon really disappeared with his cat. There had been a time that Lynk doubted that Amon had left forever without a goodbye, which made him heartstricken with regret.
He asked Amon if he could teach him writing, not only out of the real desire to learn, but also sounding out his will to stay. Learning writing couldn’t be done in one or two days, thus it meant that Amon was planning on staying a long time in the village. Amon even promised to give him a staff when he became a third-level mage, so he must be staying at least until then.
Lynk was too excited to notice that Amon only had a stick and a bag with him. He didn’t have anything else. How could he found Lynk a new staff? But even if Lynk had noticed that, he wouldn’t have thought too much about it. In his mind, Amon was practically a real deity who could make anything possible. He could even bring back the five Ironbacks like bringing back five kittens.
A landslide did cut off a branch of the Euphrate River, forming a barrier lake below the high mountains. The road to Syah was inundated. Amon couldn’t go back to Duc, which didn’t exist anymore either. He was in a permanent exile.
Amon now had two choices: either stay in the caveman’s tribe and continue practicing body arts and magic, or go down the mountain through the other path and head for the Kingdom of Bablon, beginning his journey in this vast continent. Amon wasn’t planning on ending his life in the mountains with the cavemen. But he wasn’t eager to start his long journey either. He had sorted out his plan when meditating in the cave last night. He was going to practice body arts and pass the next test: “bloodline purification”, becoming a fourth-level warrior. Then he could keep on practicing magic and would leave as a fourth-level mage.
Advanced magic couldn’t be perfected via pure meditation. Worldly wisdom was also necessary for mages to understand the mysteries of higher realms. That was also why Crazy’Ole would have spent so much time travelling across the continent.
However, as for the “bloodline purification” that Amon was about to face, it was clearly mentioned in Bair’s footnotes that it demanded the practitioner to proceed in a peaceful and quiet environment, so that he could attentively feel the subtle change inside his mind and body. Speaking of a place without trouble and disturbance, he couldn’t find a better one than the caveman’s tribe where he was staying now.
When Lynk was gone, Amon started to pay attention to Schrodinger. The roast meat for it was gone. The cat was snoring in its hay. Apparently it hadn’t let the cafard ruin a nice feast. Amon’s bag was right next to the hay, with the rib in it. It didn’t drag the bone into the hay and sleep on it, as it would usually do.
It was not that the cat left the bone alone. The bag was open, the cat’s paw was on the lid. A part of the bone was exposed. But Schrodinger didn’t manage to drag it into the hay. Maybe it meant that it couldn’t move the bone either. So this cat didn’t have any mysterious power that Amon had thought it might have had.
Amon took the bone in his hand and took out the items in it one by one. Since he had promised to give a real staff to Lynk, it was better that he picked one as soon as possible. He didn’t spend much time on the weapons. He was attracted by the scrolls. There were eight of them, all in different sizes.
It was the first time that Amon had actually touched a magic scroll. It was hard to imagine that a blacksmith’s son could one day feel and touch a scroll. It was unlikely for him to know what they were produced for. These items were not to be opened for study. Once activated by magic power, the magic inside them would start to function, until the scroll became an ordinary parchment then broke into pieces. They were one-time consumables.
Without the scroll maker’s instructions, if the owner himself was not adept in the according sealed magic, he couldn’t possibly know the effects the scroll could have. Thus the scroll couldn’t be easily used. Producing a scroll not only demanded a great effort, but it also was taking a risk of failure. No one wanted to see the magic power that they had agglomerated be used by a stranger. The maker would only give out scrolls when he wanted to, and told the user how to use it.
But then, scroll making had its own norms to follow too. In most cases, an experienced maker or someone skilled at detection magic could directly tell the magic sealed in a scroll — Amon certainly wasn’t one of either of them.
Some of the scrolls he acquired appeared to not be made by its last carrier because there were brief instructions written on them. These hieroglyphs, explaining the type and effect of the sealed magics, indicated that their former owners were Ejyptian mages.
Amon was lucky, five of the eight scrolls were labelled. There were advanced magic scrolls of different types. These items could be very useful in pivotal moments, since it meant that the owner could cast an advanced magic without costing much of his own magic power. Metatro would have calculated these scrolls’ price as soon as he saw them, and he would have been scared out of life.
The other three scrolls weren’t labelled. Amon surely couldn’t tell which type of scroll they were. He dared not try to use any of them, so he put them aside, and pulled out the three staffs he acquired. He was going to test how powerful these staffs were when casting different magics.
The staffs weren’t heavy. Amon tried to bring as many of them as he could. However, unlike the armors and weapons, a broken staff was worthless, especially when the parangons on it were ruined. There were only three staffs that were in good condition when Amon checked the cave.
The most special one out of the three was one that was made of a kind of yellow-brown wood, which was a solid and durable material, having not a slightest sign of rot even after thirty years. On its top was a precious Terroculus, a sign of its high value and rarity. It was inlaid in a unique way as if was naturally grown and wrapped around by the wood, with only a few of its vertices exposed.
As soon as Amon touched this parangon with magic power, before he could cast a magic with it, a voice arose inside his ears, “To the one who is lucky enough to find my body and pick up this staff, though I have no idea who you might be, please listen to my last words! I’m Nero, a seventh-level mage, the oracle and chief priest of the Horus Shrine of Cape, state of the Empire of Ejypt.”
“I have received the order to chase and eliminate Bair and the Adoratrice who is said to have betrayed Horus and Isis. I don’t believe Troni would ever betray our goddess, and I also owe much favor to Bair, but I have to execute the orders from the Empire, which was an oracle from my god! I heard the voice from Horus, ordering me to find these two people and kill them. I swear, that it was the deity that I have been believing in my whole life.”
“Bair is a destroyer. He has brought upon himself the anger of the gods, which will certainly destroy him. Knowing how powerful he is, I who will fight against him, am embracing my own destruction too. The fear has ripped a crevasse in my faith to God Horus: Why couldn’t His Almighty punish Bair by his own hands, but sending out orders to me, a weak and humble believer, to fulfil his will? This doubt has made me leave this message…”
A Terroculus could be used to carry messages. The one which Crazy’Ole had given to Amon had many messages in it. The owner of this staff was also a master of message magic. He had left his last message in the Terroculus on his staff, and Amon happened to activate it.
This man called himself the chief priest of the Horus Shrine of Cape State, which should have been the situation thirty years ago. He was one of the mages who had chased Bair into the deep mountains. From his message, Bair had really made a big mess, even having enraged Horus, the King of the Gods in Ejypt, forcing the latter to send oracles to kill him.
Amon couldn’t finish Crazy’Ole message last time, due to being agitated and breaking the absolute serenity. Prepared, this time he managed to hold peace in his mind and focused, the supreme mage’s voice went on —