Year: AP 0
One swing of the hammer—the second to last. The sound
rang out. A vibration so alluring and all-consuming that none that heard it
could deny its unconditional call. Its monodic tone sang throughout the
universe. From planet to planet, star to star, and galaxy to galaxy, it
summoned the Vigor... all of it.
However, the noise was hidden from mortal men. It resonated from a place beyond their senses, an existence unknown and untouched by those limited to the physical world. Oblivious to the Shade, not a single man, woman, or child knew of the Great War. Thus, it was not surprising that none could witness its end. Nonetheless, it had ended. In a torrent of annihilation and finality, it ended with less than a whisper in the ears of mankind.
Except for one...
Seated. Quiet. Alone.
On a planet unknown to most but important to some, there was a throne of mediocre proportions. Not to say it was dull or insignificant, but rather, it was practical and simple in its own ornate way. In a word, it was white. Grander than the throne itself was the room in which it resided.
The Hall of Honor was magnificent in scale and embellishments. Two hundred feet spanned from the massive doors at the room entrance to the white throne. All along the way, splendid pillars of bleached marble lined the hall on either side. Each one stood seventy feet high. Arches of pure granite topped each of the columns and seemed to leap from pillar to pillar toward the seat of the King. Suspended by these stone bridges, transparent steel in hues of red, yellow, green, and blue formed the ceiling, mimicking stained glass but immeasurably stronger. Sunlight poured through the roof, showering the otherwise white hall with brilliant beams of color. The tints danced around the room like ever-changing paint as the sun above traversed the planet’s sky. In a word, it was majestic. But even grander than the throne room was the man who resided in it.
Seated upon that white throne in that majestic room was a man adorned in gold and silver. He had his raven hair pulled back as not to interfere with his reading. In his hands, he held a worn book. And though he had read this volume many times, he still studied its words with intense focus. It was an important book that challenged him to be better at who he was.
And who was he? His name was Isaac, and he was the King of Heron.
Isaac was a righteous king. Having inherited the crown since birth, Isaac was raised according to The Kodshel Tesha—The Code of Nine. Upon these nine, he meditated every morning alone in his throne room. It was these nine that he was contemplating when he heard it.
Like a thunderous clap of steel on iron, it broke his otherwise collective demeanor!
“Lightness, what was that!” Isaac gasped as the reverberation echoed in his skull, forcing him to drop the book and almost falling him from the white throne. Then, a little dizzy, the King of Heron recovered his seat and shook his head.
What was that sound? He thought to himself. It was... Isaac searched for the right word, but it eluded him. No single word could describe it. The words that came to him seemed to disagree. The sound was dreadful, yet awe-inspiring, deafening, yet silent, all-encompassing, yet incomplete. It was the most authentic sound he had ever heard, yet his ears told him it did not exist.
“What was that?” Isaac asked.
Then came the voice as if to answer him.
Still shaken from the mysterious sound, the new utterance startled Isaac.
“Who’s there?” said the King to the otherwise empty room.
“There is not much time. Therefore, Isaac, King of Heron, I have chosen you to be the first of the many.”
“Who are you?” Isaac persisted. The bewildered man stood from his throne and scanned the room, only to confirm what he already knew—besides himself, the throne room was empty. “Who are you? And what was that sound? Did you cause it?”
“There is little time left,” continued the voice, ignoring the King’s questions. “I have begun the final stroke of the hammer. The sword that I forge shall be complete, and with it, the end of all that is the Kane. We shall be no more... I shall be no more... but then we shall be... and I shall be... but not as we once were.”
“What are you saying? I don’t understand.”
“I am sorry to place this burden on you, but there is no other. You, King of Men, shall be the first, but others shall come. Some shall be with you, others shall be against you, and always one shall come after you. So, I give you a gift. A gift none shall have, but the one that comes after. I give you my last breath, and with it, you shall understand.”
“Who is coming?” the King tried to interrupt, but the voice pressed on unbroken. A sense of immediacy accompanied the new words it spoke.
“My hand draws near!” it said. “Little King, this sword I forge is yours. But remember, to receive, you must also give; a breath for a breath, and a sword for a sword, but for this one, there shall be a painful exception. I am sorry. Farewell, Little King, and BREATH!”
The final strike of the hammer was louder than the last. It sang a song of completion so thunderous that it shattered the veil between the Shade and the Aima. For one moment, one solitary fraction of time, everyone throughout the universe heard the same thing. It shook the worlds and vibrated the stars, and though all of humanity heard it, only Isaac, the King of Heron, felt it. With an agonizing gasp, Isaac collapsed back onto his throne. He clenched his head between his hands. Isaac tried to breathe, but the more he did, the more it burned. The King’s mind wrenched! His vision blurred! His skull seemed to rip apart! And when he believed he could not take anymore, it stopped.
All was calm.
All was silent except for the man’s breathing.
Isaac sat, face pale. He felt something warm running down the sides of his neck. Even without looking, he knew what it was. The exhausted King ran a hand across it and followed the source to his ear. Pulling the hand away, he confirmed his suspicion. The crimson fluid coated his fingers. This should have bothered Isaac, but he gave it little thought after what had transpired. Despite the blood, the King KNEW he was fine. The pain had stopped, and his vision cleared. Isaac felt his mind refreshed, if not too tranquil, for the ordeal it had just endured.
Isaac knew he suffered no permanent injuries. What he did not discern was the pure white hair that now crowned his head. Although dramatic, his hair color was the least of his transformations. More profound were the new thoughts that occupied his mind. Understandings and contemplations that were alien to him. Ideas and memories that were not his own. And yet, he knew them, even if he did not comprehend them.
“The sword,” Isaac whispered as he gazed up into the radiant ceiling above him, “I have to find the sword.” The array of colors still bathed the throne room and danced across his exhausted visage. But he did not see them. Instead, his eyes pierced the light and peered beyond the ceiling and the sky. He saw past the heavens of Heron; his vision pulled to a point in space where sight could not prevail. Yet, he knew it was there. And right when he thought he could almost see it, a terrible and menacing reality flooded his mind, drawing his attention like a blind man tripping over an unseen obstacle. The truth was so staggering; it yanked the King’s mind back to the throne room where he sat.
Seated. Quiet. Alone.
Isaac, the King of Heron, trembled. He now knew what was coming. He knew what he had to do. He even knew how to do it. But none of that comforted him, for none of that could erase the horrifying truth. War was coming...
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