Rhylie’s Chronicle – Part 5

                                                                                           ~  ~  ~  ~
This fifth part is my continuation of The Chronicle I began years ago. Much new light has been shed upon the story. The river of Time has long flowed under the bridge of Creation. Tribulation has snapped at my heels. This story, this history, I write and then conceal is of supreme import. This be not boast, for I keep myself sequestered as not to take glory, but only give it. Please, dear reader who has found and who holds this journal, keep it safe and see that it reaches loving eyes. I implore you – for the future good of Gielinor, and your own.

I am The Chroniclist, sometimes named The Scribe.
Am I, perhaps, dying in words, or merrily waking alive?

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Part Five

Cloakendagger

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A seemingly ordinary elf-girl lay on her bed watching through the adjacent window as the full moon rose. The dim orange light reflected from her emerald eyes as she in turn reflected upon her exploits of the previous night. Sleep would not come even though she was weary, for the clandestine journey she had taken the night before to answer her questions had only made her ask more. More about herself. More about her parents. More about the world’s dangerous corruption. More about fighting, and monsters, and war. More questions about life in general, and about the gods.
The gods. The supremacy of the three gods just didn’t add up. How could she choose one to follow when none appealed to her? Why was she even required by society to swear allegiance to one over the other two?

She was the kind to be constantly occupied in thought, and in trying to determine which of her ever-changing imaginary scenarios was the most likely to happen.

The moon had already passed into the top half of the window positioned in the thick stonemasonry of the exterior wall of her room. The orb looked like the face of a juicy orange cut in half. She half smiled at it, then rolled onto her side and supported her head with her hand. Her mind hummed with the inner monologue that never seemed to slow. Even in sleep, colorful, complex dreams kept her mind busy. Tonight weariness, stress, and the anxieties natural to her age led her thoughts in an unnaturally darker direction.

“I don’t feel like me, but if I’m not who I am, who am I, really?” she silently asked the moon. “Oh that sounds so dumb! I’m so confused. But why do I always get the feeling that they are keeping a secret?” she asked the walls. “Why do they not let me do anything? I’m fifteen now! Why do they screen my friends, especially the boy kind? Why do I have to be accompanied everywhere, or followed? I don’t think they know I know they have me followed. Not that it matters. Lately I just feel like being by myself. It’s probably only my imagination . . . but no, it is not! They still think of me as a child even though I am taller, quicker, stronger, and much smarter than the others in my class at Corwynn Intermediate. They don’t think I notice, but I see lots. Why am I treated differently than my peers are? I shouldn’t be critical, I owe them everything and I do love them. But, what does my life actually mean? Why do I feel like I’m different – so worthless and unlovable on one hand and over-valued and over-protected on the other?”
Her mind was gaining downhill momentum: “Why do I have this empty feeling, like something’s missing; like some truth is yet to be uncovered; like someone is lost and it might be me, or; or, if not me, someone? There is secrecy and even the secrecy is covered up in secrecy. Why are my dear parents such recluses? And why am I the only red-top in the whole village of Corwynn?” she asked herself, as a tear rolled across her temple and into her rumpled, red, gorgeously red, extraordinarily red hair. Even my friends taunt and tease; Cherry head! Red cap!”
Why, big, fat, old moon in the sky? Why do I feel this way.
Why?

Quicker than a blink, a furry black ball of mischief jumped upon her bed. “Midnight! You crazy kit,” how do you always know when I need a boost?” The roundish black kitten purred loudly as he rubbed his long-haired sides along her arm, and as she rolled him onto his back to tickle his cute silver-grey belly. He stared at her face with eyes that had been blue three weeks ago but were now a yellowy amber. He tilted his head as if to ask, “What is going on with you now? Well, forget it, this is all about meee!” Then he quickly jumped up, ran all the way around her, batted at her fingers, rolled over on his back, and began to purr loudly, as though he was determined to be the best purr-er in all E-realms.

She had researched and planned her journey for weeks after she had done the logical thing; asking her parents some of the questions plaguing her, and having them respond, “We don’t know exactly why we have to choose one god. It’s time-honored tradition, so we just do it.” Or, “Maybe it’s just your imagination.” Or, “We are just trying to take care of you the best we know how.” Or, “You are blessed to have such pretty hair.” Or, “I’m sorry you are feeling down today, grab your bow and we’ll shoot some rabbits.” None of their answers were very satisfying but the hunting was fun as both her mum-ma and da-pa were expert with a bow.
She reasoned that she would have to find her own answers, and that the famed library in Varrock might hold resources not available in her small village, or even in Llettya, the only elf-village of consequence she had been allowed to visit.

As Midnight’s eyes closed, her wavering, semi-sleepy thoughts roamed back to the previous night when she stealthily sneaked out of the cottage in the deep of the darkness and walked, quiet as a cat, blending into the forest, on the path leading to the portal . . .

She was indeed lithe and quick and bright – also advanced in Lore-Knowledge beyond her age. No other Elvish adolescents in their third set of five years could operate the new thought-portals. None that she knew of at least. “The portal system is the least of my logistical problems,” she thought. “I have to find a way to get into the Varrock Library without being seen, then figure out how to find the informational resources I need. It complicates the matter that the library is located in the back of the Varrock Palace, the home of King Roald and Queen Ellemaria. If I’m discovered, my life is done. At very least I will be cut off from any freedoms I still have.” Suddenly, it all seemed too difficult; not worth the possible consequences, however, curiosity, a determined sense of adventure, and confidence in her abilities persuaded her forward.

She had used the portals before. Her mum-ma and da-pa, being followers of the “white god”, Saradomin, sometimes took her along when they visited the small Saradominist church south of Port Sarim in Kandarin. They chose that church because of its isolation, and they only worshiped before sunrise when the local denizens were still abed. I mentioned once before the dislike of the Elves to be seen in a foreign land.
Though it went against all rules against minors using the equipment, her parents taught her how to operate the portal. It is no piece-of-cake to teach another the intricate mind-set required, for each mind is quite different and a high degree of technical intuition is required. She had much more than the necessary mind power though, never “missing” and sending the family to the wrong location. The intricate drawings she studied in Advanced Geography depicting all the important places in Gielinor were stored securely in her head. She was eager to use the knowledge even though her age was three years short of the legal teleportation age requirement. I hope you do not find it odd that a girl of this age, this intelligence, this depth, possesses a large amount of curiosity as well as rebelliousness. Seems perfectly natural to me – but please excuse. As I was saying . . .

It was little more than a thousand steps from her house (counting subconsciously, for many elves, is second-nature). She carried her glass flask enclosing a lamp-bug by her side for illumination. On her belt, near her right hand, was her light adamantine dagger in its sheath. As she arrived at the portal, she quickly formed a clear mental image of her destination and took the ‘return-crystal’ from its intricately carved Elderwood box atop the adjacent post. It flashed across her mind how the box and the crystal worked together to return the crystal’s holder to this specific portal. Taking note of the runic symbols on the lid of the box, she made sure to secure the crystal in the inner pocket of her pack and the lamp-bug in the pocket of her Spring cloak. “Well, here we go,” she thought. Reinforcing the image of the Varrock Library in her mind, she touched her forehead to the silver hoop-frame of the portal.

“It’s always a bit like being drawn into a whirlpool and getting turned inside-out at the same time,” she thought as she stood looking at the rear of the palace, “then being turned right-side-in and being shoved out. Very strange.”

She had landed near a tree behind which she quickly concealed herself in case any Palace Guards or Varrock Guards were patrolling nearby. Upon peering around the tree, she could see that guards were patrolling toward the front of the palace but there were none along the roof line or near the back. She had once considered walking in through the front gate during the daytime but wasn’t sure that she could conceal her race or age, nor pass for the scholarly, educated type of woman who might be allowed to use this facility. She had read that the king and queen were very particular about who they let inside.

The windows were barred and there was no back door. “That’s that, I don’t see a way in,” she thought, “I guess this will have to be just an exploratory trip.” She was facing the tower that formed the northwest corner of the building, about thirty paces distant across a grassy yard, and she knew that the library was next to the tower. There was a dim light in a window that she pictured being a library window. She noted that the moon, which had previously been covered by clouds, was now casting a shadow behind the massive building. The moon was nearly full.

“I need to get closer. Just don’t get caught, Dummy. That would seriously dishonor Mum and Da.” Just as she decided to leave the tree and sneak up to the building, two palace guards rounded the front corner and moved along the side of the structure in her direction. Fear triggered a strong blending reaction and she became as much like tree bark as possible. Even her hair turned a mossy rust-green, but she couldn’t stop the quiver of her knees.
“Pickpocket!” yelled someone near the courtyard gates. The two guards turned quickly and headed toward the trouble. She slumped to the ground, beads of sweat forming on her brow. She peeked around the tree. A motion near the center of the palace wall caught her attention.

“A mouse or a small rat running under the window with the light in it. Still running toward the tower. It’s gone! It should have rounded the corner into the moonlight.” Curiosity took control. She crept across the area of moonlight into the moon-shadow and all the way to the wall. Being careful of her foot placement, she moved toward the tower’s base which formed the corner of the building. There was her answer – a grate. “That rodent’s hideout could be my way in.” She bent down to inspect the heavy wire mesh. It was the pop-in kind of grate – not fastened except by friction. She could feel air coming out of the building through the opening, then, after a few moments, it reversed and went inward as though the palace was breathing. “Must be for ventilation. I read about this kind of thing in Intro To Architecture class.” Grasping the grate with both hands, she pulled. Nothing. She sat and braced her feet against the wall and tried again. This time it popped out. After listening for guards, she took the lamp-bug lantern from her pocket and looked inside. She saw a cube-shaped area large enough for her to turn around in. There was a square tunnel made with rocks and mortar leading in the direction of the front of the palace. A similar tunnel went to the left toward the library area. Without hesitation, she crawled into the space. “Ugh, this floor is filthy.” She sat her lamp inside and quickly pulled the grate back into its place. Turning in the direction of the library, she began to crawl through the small passageway pushing her lantern in front. Progress was slow and uncomfortable. She had to keep her back awkwardly low.
SQUEEK!
It echoed loudly from up ahead.
She jerked and hit her head on the ceiling. “Dang! Should have expected that. Ouch!
A few paces ahead, she could see a space in the ceiling of the tunnel. “A shaft goes up!”
When she reached it, she found she could kneel. There was another grate. Through it she could see dim light made by a candle or a small lamp. “Cover the lamp bug!” Don’t give yourself away!” She put the lamp back in her pocket.
A pace and a half in front of the grate was a chair, then a large desk. The desk was cluttered with books and papers. The walls were lined with shelves of books. “Found it! Make sure no-one is around. It’s late, but you never know.” She watched and listened for what seemed long enough. “No sign of life.”
This grate was also the pop-in kind. She pushed. It moved much easier than the outdoor one and she almost dropped it. “Shhh,” she inhaled between her clenched teeth. Carefully setting it to the side, she crawled through the hole and peeked around the corner of the desk. She could see a large doorway which opened into the main library. There was a small oil lamp burning on the desk.
She stood, brushing the dust and grime from her hands, knees, and cloak. She rubbed the small bump on her head. “Good. No blood.” She removed her pack, set it in front of the grate, and moved to the front of the desk. There was a wooden name plate on the front of the desk: “Master R. Trimmly – Librarian”
“Omagosh sakes,” this is Sir Reldo Trimmly’s office. Some of her instructors actually knew the famous Varrock Librarian and Master Historian of Gielinor. There was a portrait of him hanging on the wall opposite the desk. He wore eyeglasses. “He must like looking at his own likeness. Careful, now. Don’t get all awestruck and clumsy . . . Dang, these boots are too noisy.” She hastily removed her hardleather boots and gently placed them beside her pack. “Should have worn my mocs, but at least I have my no-slip yak-hair socks.”

Sir Reldo’s meticulous organization of the main library shelves belied his messy, unorganized office. That seemed to be a common trait of all the teachers and gatherers of knowledge she knew. “I don’t think the man ever met a piece of paper he didn’t like,” she grinned at her own humor.
The large shelves in the corner caught her attention. From floor to ceiling, newspapers were stacked. The Varrock Herald. Possibly every edition that existed, all categorized by year of the Sixth Age. “I should be able to learn lots from these, but it will take time.”
Her curiosity led her to peer around the door jamb into the large area housing the main stacks. “Huge! Hundreds, no thousands of volumes!” Again awestruck, she held her lamp at her side and walked down the dark, main aisle. Every corner was covered with strips of decorative carved oak. Every bookcase and shelf was an artistic wooden frame. Every wall was filled, floor to ceiling, with books, scrolls, and manuscripts. The magnificent room was heavy with the smell of leather and old paper.

“I need to get busy. I should start with the gods.” She had reviewed the VL system of classification, thus knowing to look in the side aisle labeled “Spiritual/Religions”.
The number of books about the gods was overwhelming, but she finally settled on one called “White, Red, and Green, The Colors of Deity” by Harold Hawthorne. There was a reading table at the wall end of each side-stack, so she sat, opened the book, and placed her lamp where it would illuminate the pages. The lamp-bug shone brighter seemingly thankful for being stationary at last.

Saradomin – the white god, dresses in argent and gold. He is a warrior for peace, justice and the protection of his people. Yes, I know lots about him. Let’s see, Guthix – the green god, dresses in leaf-green robes with grey/brown bark trim. He is a warrior for balance in all things, for kindness, goodness, and the love of nature. Zamorak – the red god, dresses in red, yellow, and black. He is a warrior for fire and destruction, for conquest and subjection. Some say he is evil; bent on murder and mayhem. “A little too basic. I know much of this information.”
She read on, making mental notes, moving to other titles, learning as much as she could about the gods’ histories, deeds, personalities, characters, and whims. It was apparent not much was known. They were secretive. There were implications here that it was only tradition that a person had to choose one god of the three to worship, exalt, and be loyal to. Possibly only rooted in superstition. There seemed to be no law pertaining to the practice. What she read seemed like a lot of speculation. “From what I’ve found, it seems as if everyone in the world would follow Guthix, especially we Elves,” she reasoned, “I have no idea why Mum and Da follow Saradomin. When I ask, they give no logical reasons. Maybe I can engage them in a discussion about all the gods now that I know . . . what was that?
A sound, like a creaking door opening on the far side of the room. Quickly putting her lamp in its pocket, she listened. Voices! Low and muffled. Succumbing to curiosity, she edged her way to the main corridor. She listened. Using a method of silent movement she called ‘cat-walking’, she crossed the wide aisle and flattened herself against a row of stacks. Slowly she crept in the dim light to the end of the stack and looked around the corner. There was a strip of light seeping from under the only door between the shelves of books on that long wall. The light under the door was randomly interrupted by shadows moving behind the door. She had to look inside. The large keyhole afforded her the opportunity. It was a small, candle-lit, storage type of room.

“I see ornate storage cabinets on the wall. Crates filled with books in rows on the floor. A man with his back turned to the door, three children standing before him, three small desks, one larger desk, and an open trap door. Wait, the children have pale greenish skin and large brown eyes. They seem a little skittish and wary, but have kind, innocent faces. One looks like a girl. Light reddish pony-tail. They are not children! But what? I saw a drawing once. Cave goblins? Could be. Much nicer and smarter than surface goblins. Eyes larger from living underground. The little people all facing the man who is thanking them for their work; their diligence. They lower their heads slightly in reply. He hands them each a lit lantern and a cloth pouch. I hear the sound of gold coins in the pouches. He says he will see them again in two days. They agree and leave through the trap door and step down some stairs. The man carefully closes the trap door, then goes to the larger desk and lifts a large, heavy, leather- covered volume from its pedestal. Cradling it in his right arm, he pushes lightly on a decorative wooden panel on the wall. It’s not a panel at all, it’s a secret door to a hiding-box in the wall. He lifts the large book, carefully places it into the hiding place, and closes the panel until it clicks into place. He has a pony-tail, too; and spectacles. That is none other than Master Trimmly! He is moving to each small desk and appears to be collating piles of rectangular pieces of paper. He is placing several inkwells and quills into a cabinet, retrieving the stack of paper, blowing out candles, and . . . heading directly toward me!” “Move, Dummy! Quickly, she did move to her right and slipped between two rows of stacks, once more flattening herself against them, heart hammering. The door opened and then closed and latched. She heard a key in a lock. “Good, he is heading toward his office,” . . . “Nooo! Rats! My pack; my boots; the grate! He’ll see them for sure, then call the guards! Think! You need to think fast!”
She waited until the man’s footsteps faded, cat-walked to the front of the room near the entrance, pulled a book off the shelves, and dropped it noisily. Quickly, she moved to the side of the room where she had read the books. “Good, he took the bait. I hear his footsteps backtracking to where I was.” She ‘cat-ran’ this time. Reaching the office, she heard, “Who is there? Come out!” but Reldo was at the front of the building.

“Around the desk. Grab the pack and boots. Toss them into the tunnel. Back down into it myself. Reach for the grate. Quick but quiet. Heart beating so hard it almost hurts. Pull the grate into place. Good! Back into the shadows. Be still. Don’t even breathe.”
Three seconds later, the librarian entered his office and placed the stack of papers in the bottom drawer. “That was strange,” he muttered as though he had a companion, “Someone must have put that book back halfway and it fell on its own.”

Dead still, but trembling inside, the little elf watched from the dark, damp, shadow at the back wall of the tunnel as Sir Reldo Trimmly locked his desk drawers then picked up the oil lamp and left the office. She was now in complete darkness. She noticed a stench that hadn’t been there before she entered the office. As she reached for the small lamp inside her cloak, something brushed her from behind, or was it a slight bump? Her heart almost stopped as she opted to reach for her dagger instead of the lamp. She twisted around and slashed in the direction of the threat but only cut the thick, foul, air. Sagging back against the wall, she quickly retrieved her lamp but saw nothing, save the filthy floor to her left. An inner pressing darkness took hold of her. “This wasn’t such a good idea. I’ve got to get out of here!” She thought about having to crawl the long distance to the far grate, when: “The crystal! I can operate the crystal right here . . . I think – can’t I?” Hastily, she pulled her boots on, tied the leather laces, and removed the return-crystal from the inner pocket of her pack. Securing her lamp in her cloak pocket, she wrapped the cloak securely around her, placed her arms through the straps of the pack, and whispered, “Here goes.” Placing the pointed end of the crystal against her forehead exactly where she had previously touched the rim of the portal, she concentrated on the intricate runic symbols she memorized from the lid of the Elderwood box back in the Forest of Isafdar. The crystal began to warm slightly and hum faintly. She felt the familiar inner agitation but this time it didn’t feel good. It didn’t feel like it should. Instead of instantly materializing at the intended portal she was again sitting in the tunnel for only the blink of an eye, then was plopped down in the seated position from the height of about two hand widths next to the Elderwood box. “Ouch! Glad no-one was here to see that. That was weird – not supposed to happen, I don’t think so, anyway.” Her body was completely disoriented and unresponsive as she attempted to get to her feet.

At last she was home. She quietly made her way to her room hoping her absence hadn’t been noticed. Daylight was almost beginning to break over the forest as she removed her dirty pack, cloak, boots and socks. She set the lamp-bug on her night stand and collapsed onto her bed. “Sooo glad it’s Saturn’s Day. No school!” Midnight came out from under the bed to receive some petting, looked at her from feet to head, opened his eyes as wide as they would open, growled his kitten growl, puffed up to twice his normal size, and retreated back under the bed. “Well goodnight to you too! I must look a mess. Awww, rats! My dagger is gone. When is the last time I had it? In the tunnel! I laid it down to get out the lamp and pull my boots on and, in my haste in the darkness, I forgot to sheath it back. RATS!” The last thing she remembered about that morning was covering the lamp-bug lantern and closing her eyes.

The elf-girl was angry, excited, and a little afraid when her mind returned to the present. “Now I have to go back! To get my dagger. To look into those newspapers. To find out what is going on in that side room with the cave goblins. To read more books, and . . .
Suddenly, a red wolf tarantula ran from under her bed and stopped in the center of her bedroom floor. “How odd,” she thought, as she realized that she was viewing it as through a tube – a tube of light. Without taking her eyes off the poisonous arachnid, she picked up one of her hardleather boots that was conveniently standing beside her bed. As she aimed to squash the little monster, the spider vanished in a puff of silvery flakes just as quickly as it had appeared,. The tubular, telescopic effect was gone too. A yowl came from under the bed. Midnight. A red wolf tarantula ran from under her bed and stopped in the center of her bedroom floor. Again. Reflexively, she aimed the boot, which she still held firmly, and let it fly. This time there was no tubular, circular-light effect and the spider did not disappear. It perished with a splat of green goo when the sole of the boot slammed down upon its bloated abdomen. “Ha!” her victorious cry was cut short by realization. “Great! That’s all I need now are hallucinations! Must be the lack of sleep. Oh, god, grant me sleep – sleep and peace . . .” An odd sense of calm enveloped her. It seemed as though a weight had been taken from her. She bent and looked under the bed. Midnight had his back arched and his eyes were wide. “Kit-kit, come here, it’s alright now.” Midnight looked her over as if deciding to run or stay. She looked good. His back came down; eyes softened; fur smoothed. He jumped to her and snuggled in her arms.
“Yes, Kit, I must go back. It’s a quest I must pursue – a vow to myself. It feels like a musick that is beginning to play within me. So many questions. So many possibilities. So many elusive answers. I will find them, Midnight, or my name’s not Hallah of E-realms!”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Now the donkey is really kicking the dung heap, if you know what I mean.
What a way for a new beginning to begin .

Copyright © Len Snider
02-29-2016
ALL Rights Reserved

Hallah in her pensive place:

Hallah. I said seemingly ordinary, but by now you know she is far beyond ordinary.
Artist – Unknown, but thank you for a most beautiful and poignant portrait.

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