When the trees abruptly ended, they knew they had arrived at their destination. There were no large weeds between the trees and the large clearing that would have taken at least an hour to walk across to the other side. The thick fog also abruptly ended and the bright sun shined down on them. The clearing was full of small black pebbles and patches of fresh grass that had recently started growing.
The dark black stones and bright green grass contrasted, but King Belgrave and the soldiers did not pay attention to it. They were looking at the immense structure in the center of the clearing. It was a pyramid built of shiny black rock. Three of the sides were smooth, but the one facing them had a stairway to the top. Two large crescents were attached at the top and curved in on each other. Smoke rose from between the crescents and dimmed a bright light that was also at the top of the pyramid. The ground beneath them rumbled, but they marched closer.
As they neared the base of the pyramid, all of King Belgrave’s soldiers stopped. He took a few more steps and then looked back at them. “Why aren’t you coming?” he asked.
He then heard a voice in his head. “A sword has been discovered, a king has returned. You will come up alone.”
King Belgrave made his way to the pyramid and began to climb up the steps. It was a long steep stairway and there were no railings. He noticed that there was writing in the language of the Lunari on the steps. Partway up the stairway, the language changed to the common tongue and he began to read what was written. It seemed to be a timeline without dates. He started to read.
A world destroyed, a world created.
War must end, rules are changed.
The beginning to end, the end to begin.
Two kingdoms rise, two forces fight.
Two cities built, two kings oppose.
Darkness will spread, light will resist.
A city shines, great kings arise.
One million strong, the battle lose.
Fight for glory, die in shame.
Dark one stand, prove your might.
Send many out, see many die.
In terror rule, make darkness great.
The world united, to battle irked.
Red ones lead, for honor charge.
A hope renewed, the spotted fall.
Light ones gather, prepare for victory.
Time will pass, time will overcome.
A temple built, light will shine.
Dark armies march, lands grow dark.
Loss is normal, hope not found.
A savior stands, old rules discovered.
One then comes, none dare oppose.
Skies grow dark, a light rekindled.
The meeting harsh, the storm destroys.
Great ones withdraw, time goes on.
Battles last long, armies grow tired.
The normal routine, the world endeavors.
Light grows dim, an enemy revealed.
Near smoking earth, the many gather.
The darkness grows, the world fights.
An army embarks, a river traveled.
Waters flow swift, a cliff ascended.
A warning ignored, an army lost.
Of humble lineage, a worthy desire.
Long years alone, the passage revealed.
Great dragons fly, a hero rises.
A king departed, a sword forgotten.
The light submerged, a land divided.
Three races separate, a lesser to guide.
A castle built, the darkness spreads.
A race corrupted, a secret concealed.
One is known, one is hidden.
A sword discovered, a king returns.
Three rings combined, three races united.
Love conquers hate, the end begins.
When he reached the top, Belgrave realized that he had just read all the prophecies. He began to understand how everyone had been so confident that he would succeed. There were only two prophecies left. All the other prophecies were already fulfilled. His success was guaranteed.
The top of the pyramid was shaped like a shallow bowl. From up close, the crescents on either side looked even more colossal, and Belgrave wondered what kept them from falling off. The smoke was coming from a wide hole in the center of the depression. A reddish glow also came from the hole. The bright light was on a small platform suspended over the hole. It had the silhouette of a man, but was made of light. Belgrave stepped down into the bowl and walked toward the light.
“Who are you?” Belgrave asked.
“I am the guardian, the last light left to shine while the others slumber through the ages,” the voice in his head replied. “I helped write the prophecies that you will fulfill. I have been waiting for you to meet me since before the creation of this world.”
“Then you must be one of the Lunari from the other world that was destroyed by war!” Belgrave exclaimed.
“Ka was a magnificent world for many years. Half the world was always warmed by the sun while the other was always cold and dark. When our race was created, we were grey and lived in the boundary between the light and dark. As our numbers grew, we spread out. Those who lived in the light became brighter. Those who lived in the dark became darker. Soon the race had split into two separate races, one of warmth and light and one of cold and shadow. This was fine until an evil even older than our world corrupted those who lived in the dark. They turned their focus from coexistence to domination. With such a conflict of interests, war broke out. Great armies marched across the world and fought long hard battles. Many were killed and many more took their places in the great armies. Technology turned into a race to make a better weapon than the enemy did. War dragged on for twenty-seven thousand centuries until the final day when the darkness developed a weapon that engulfed the entire world in flame. Ka was destroyed and the few who survived are now on this world where we must end our war.”
“How does a new world help with that?” Belgrave asked.
“On this new world, the laws are different. Technology cannot advance past a certain point until the war is over, an advantage for those of us who wish to rely on valor and virtue in battle. However, there is magic, an advantage the dark ones have taken and twisted to their evil designs. The dark ones are cunning, but they will not withstand the end.”
“What do I have to do?” Belgrave asked.
“One fears the known and the unknown. The path ahead will not be easy, but the outcome has already been determined. You will end the war and free this world from our war. You must first travel to the three lands to the west and seek out the three parts of the ring worn by the great kings to unite the three races against the darkness. They are the silver moon, the sun, and the golden moon, the three lights of this world. With the world united, you will succeed against your enemy. You cannot escape your destiny.”
“So you will just sit here and hope I do what you want?” Belgrave asked.
The figure stood up. “No, you will succeed no matter what,” replied the voice. “You cannot fail, for even in failure you would succeed. The end of prophecy can only usher in a new beginning for this world, a time when the people of this world will experience life without the influence of prophecy. During that age, a queen will rise and warn of the final judgment of this world.” The figure pulled out two daggers that seemed made of the same light as he was. “The blood of the Lunari flows also in your veins. Hold one of these in each hand.”
Belgrave took the daggers. They were warm, but he did not know if it was from their glow. The Lunari was beginning to confuse him. “Are you saying that the fulfillment of prophecy is the first of several events leading to the end of the world? How could you know things like that?”
“More than prophecy was written at the beginning of the world,” the voice explained. “I will now show you knowledge of the past that will make your future efforts seem more worthwhile. This will be painful, but have no fear; you are not alone.”
Belgrave never had time to react. The figure lost its shape as the light grew brighter and imploded on itself. Without warning, it exploded into Belgrave. The pain was unbearable as horrible images flashed through his mind. Unknowingly, he violently threw the daggers off the pyramid and fell down. He felt as if he was splitting in half. He tried to scream, but found that he could not as he rolled in agony. He was witnessing fragments of time: memories from Ka, memories from Nebulum, the births, and deaths of great civilizations all in that same moment. It was like looking at a cube from all sides the same time. Belgrave no longer knew only what the world expected him to do. He now knew why he, of all people, had to do it. The immensity of the task overwhelmed him and he felt powerless and alone.
“I am with you,” a familiar voice reassured. He felt a soft hand grasp his in his vision. It seemed to alleviate some of the pain.
“Naiya’Nal?” He thought back.
“Yes, Belgrave,” she replied. “You must get up.”
“It hurts,” he replied. “I can’t move.”
“The pain will be gone shortly, but you must get off the temple now,” she reiterated. He no longer felt her hand and the vision was fading. “Ignore the pain. Open your eyes and get off the temple.”
Belgrave opened his eyes and rolled over onto his stomach. The pain was beginning to subside and he noticed a new sensation. The temple felt like it was moving.
“Forget about everything else, just get off the temple!” Naiya’Nal’s voice in his head once again warned.
He tried to stand, but could not get his balance. The temple was shaking and he could hear a loud rumble from deep down. With a whooshing sound, a blast of extremely hot air came up from the hole and Belgrave’s stomach tightened as he realized the temple stood over a volcano. He staggered to the stairs and began to climb down. When he was halfway, he looked back up. The huge crescents were crumbling. Rocks were falling around him so he moved down the steps as fast as he could. Belgrave missed the last few steps and fell the rest of the way as the temple shook violently and threw him to the ground.
“Run!” he shouted, sprinting toward his soldiers. They also started to run back toward the edge of the clearing. With a tremendous rumble and a strong vibration, the volcano finally erupted. Hot rocks and ash flew into the air and lava began to flow out of the top of the temple. Belgrave could feel the heat behind him as he ran. One of the soldiers fell as a large rock struck him in the back. Commander Sidrahkir ran over to the man, but he was already dead.
King Belgrave pulled out his sword and turned to face the temple. The power of his sword kept the volcano from throwing any more rocks at them and soon the eruption died to a slow lava flow. Several soldiers picked up their fallen comrade and they all moved to the shelter of the trees. King Belgrave looked back over the clearing. Ash covered the ground and scorched the newly growing grass. They buried the dead soldier. “We will rest here until nightfall,” King Belgrave ordered.
That night they made their way back into the forest where the tweenks were waiting for them. When the tweenks left them at the other side of the forest, they could not believe their eyes. The tweenks had been very busy with the fire and had burned along their tunnel through the weeds so that it was now a wide-open pathway. Beetle carcasses littered the ground and King Belgrave knew it was only the beginning of what they tweenks would do. It was an easy trek back to Nerak Nitil and they arrived two days later.