Coming of Age

by CarpenterAnt

The Kamasi live far to the north in the land of Oultera. Many centuries ago we were powerful and influential members of the northlands. My people used what we came to term the Kamas. It was a very powerful form of what you call rune magic. There came a time when a great schism occurred in the Kamasi rune masters council. I will not go overmuch into detail now, but this division led to an outright war of Kamasi Master against Kamasi master. It raged for many years, before a great Kamasi leader rose up and struck down the opposing masters. The final battle killed many of the masters. The few that remained on both sides saw the devastation their selfish war had caused. They made a pact never to reveal the secret teachings to anyone, be they Kamas or otherwise. They buried all their books and scrolls in a great sacred chamber, before setting magical wards on the entrance. They then allowed their souls to be imprisoned in the Sigils. They would guard the chamber till the end of time and see to it that the magic was never again used.

The Kamas people recovered from the War and continued their lives in peace. Eventually they dwindled to a rustic people, all but forgetting their past accomplishments.

Now I am afraid I need to skip ahead in time. It would now be about 10 years ago. I was 19 at the time. I had grown up on the stories still told of the great Mages of the past. We still knew the resting place of the Knowledge of the Kamas. But we all respected the sacred place. None would go near it, not so much out of fear as from a grim respect for the reminder of the great war that had taken such a toll on us.

That all changed when the Lutin hordes descended on our peaceful land. The first attack came without warning. First all was quiet, next the houses were burning and the screams of the women and children are still burned into my mind. We were a peaceful people, We had swords and bows. But we were greatly lacking in skill. The first attack was beaten back at a terrible cost. We retreated to our capital, Ravendark. Soon we were under siege. We were not too worried about a direct assault. The fortress rests on a butte in a canyon. The only way in is by a gate and long drawbridge. Once the drawbridge was retracted. Nothing that couldn't fly could get at us.

Our one problem was that inside the Fortress there was no growing space. The entire butte was made of black stone. The fortress itself was made of the same rock, hence its name. We were slowly being starved to death. Then came the magic users. Their spells were terrible, brave sentries were killed by fire and ice. A great black cloud settled over the canyon. All in the keep despaired. I was brought into a group full of the younger men in the Capitol. Together we made a plan. We kept it absolutely secret, our goal was the Chamber of the Runes. Knowing that our people had no magic users a small group of us set out through the catacombs under Ravendark to make an attempt to reach the Chamber. We numbered thirty-four. By the time we reached the Caverns, we numbered twelve. I lost many friends to first the catacombs, then the lutins.

When we reached the caverns, we found a rock slide had sealed the entrance. We set to work moving the rocks. Six would work, three would sleep and three would stand watch. We worked for what seemed like months. Finally we cleared enough of an entrance for seven of us to enter. The rest waited outside. They had been the last to dig and wanted nothing but rest. I was among them, but nothing could keep me from entering the chamber. Inside we found a small ante-chamber at the other end was a massive golden door covered in runes. At our approach eight of the runes began to glow steadily. Suddenly eight phantoms appeared, blocking our way to the chamber beyond.

The only one who spoke was a tall woman who seemed to be in her mid-twenties. "This chamber is protected by the last great Kamasi Masters. No one may enter here. Go back to your villages, leave us in peace." The boy who led us was named Kelan. "We have come to request the aid of the Kamas. Our lands are being overrun by hordes of evil creatures. We know not what they want, they have already destroyed our homes and now besiege Ravendark. They use magic that we know not how to combat or resist. Without your aid our people will perish." The woman looked at the other phantoms and we guessed that they were conversing on the matter.

It was then that we heard a scream from outside, It was cut short as a horde of lutins began to tear they way into the Ante-chamber. We retreated to the golden door, drawing what weapons we had. We knew that our mission had failed. Worse yet we had led the lutins right to the Cache of the Kamas. We all prepared to sell our lives in the defense of the Cavern. The lutins advanced, their knives already covered with the blood of the others.

But behold as soon as they drew close the opening again closed in another rockslide. The symbols on the doors grew brighter. The shimmering phantoms took a position between us and the lutins. As one they raised their hands and sent forth a blindingly bright flash of lightning. The crack of the thunder deafened us all. The lutins taken by surprise were forced back as half their number was crisped to ash by the furious energy that had been unleashed. The chamber ceiling could not take the strain of the thunder and began caving in. The women phantom gestured to the doors and they opened swiftly. "Hurry inside all of you." We rushed through just as the doors slammed shut again.

Finally the noise of the rockslide subsided. It was pitch black inside, and we had no way to create light. Then the glow started as the phantoms came into being. But instead of eight only three remained. "The others' runes have been destroyed in the cave-in. They have been released from their long watch. We have decided to grant you the secrets of the Kamas. In order for this to work though, you must take the oath of the Kamasi and your runes must be added to the great seals."

She looked at me. "You are not like the others. They show no special abilities. You however are different. In you I see both a great power and a great destiny. How you choose to follow that path is your own choice. Will you be first to take the oath and receive your House name and seal?" My legs felt like jelly as I staggered forward. "I am ready to take the oath." She smiled. "Know that with this oath comes great responsibility. Step onto the circle." She gestured to a golden disc set into the ground. As I stepped onto it all other noises ceased. All other lights dimmed. All that remained was her and I. "This is the oath that you must swear to." A ghostly parchment appeared in front of me. "I sense that you are a member of house Restamar. It is fitting." The parchment changed somewhat. "Now speak the oath and receive your birthright."

And so I read those words that changed my life forever. "By the Restamar House and Rune I do swear to uphold the right and oppose the evil. I shall never use my power in anger or for selfish reasons. Never shall I act for personal gain or out of any lust, greed, or egotistical want. Should any of my fellow Kamasi fall from the true path or stray into self indulgence, I vow to attempt to restore them to the proper way and avenge any whom they harm. Should one refuse that help or openly defy his oath, I pledge to seek him out and strip him of his Rune, His honor and His life if need be. This do I swear. This is my Oath. This is my Pledge and Vow. Before the Last of the Old Kamas do I speak these words. Now I, David of House Restamar do accept the powers and responsibilities of the Kamas."

As I spoke these words, the words on the Parchment shone like fire. As I finished the page rolled itself up, moved away from me, before rushing at me. Slamming into my chest it exploded into a cloud of shining bits, like sand. As this happened I was plunged into a dream so vivid, I actually thought I was in another place. I saw myself standing at an anvil, my body sweating with the heat of the forge. I brought the hammer down upon the piece of metal that lay on the anvil. As it struck a flash followed by the ringing sound of the hammer striking the glowing object. As I watched my body began to change, I grew taller, my skin was transformed into a shiny suit of armor, it glowed a dull black in the firelight. I saw shimmering wings grow out of my back. My face distorted, becoming more flattened my ears moved to the top of my skull and first shrank away, then pushed out into antennae. My lower jaw shrank as two mandibles blossomed from the sides of my mouth.

I wanted to scream at first, but I felt a kind of link to the man standing there. He looked up at me. Reaching down he picked up what lay on the anvil. It was a beautiful sword that shone as if on fire, wide at the base of the blade, tapering down to a razor sharp point. Down the center of the blade was a series of runes, like none I had ever seen before. My changed self spoke. "This is your destiny, this is your future. Do not fear it, embrace it. If you do not, you will triumph today, but tomorrow you will not be prepared."

Then I heard a voice, powerful and melodic chant.

The sword will be made, will be broken
Its light shall be seen as a token
Its memory shall live a thousand years
Its keen edge will drive away the fears
Its master shall be of the Blue
Its coming shall evil undo
Its death will bring hope
In the south you must go
To find the Keep
To find the forge
To find the future in Metamor

The vision faded. The cloud swirled around me growing less all the time. When it had finally gone I looked down to see myself wearing a silken robe of a deep blue in color. Covering the left breast was a rune that looked vaguely familiar even though I knew I had never seen it before. "Yes, you have never seen it before. But it is a part of you none the less. It is the House Rune of the Restamar Family. They were one of the more powerful families. I myself was a Restamar. I am Janice the grey of House Restamar. I welcome you David of the Blue. Your color was predetermined at birth. It is the color of the nobility. You are a direct descendant of Lord Andurin Restamar himself. This robe is yours for life. You may wear anything, But on those occasions where you must be among other Kamas this robe distinguishes you as a higher level Mage than others of lesser color. My own color is two levels lower than yours. Blue then Red, Grey, Green, Yellow, And finally Brown. You will learn the Runes of the House Restamar. But always remember your oath. And remember your vision."

The rest of the world returned. The others gasped at my new clothing. As I stepped off the Disc I felt whole, in a way I can only explain as if a sense, be it smell, or sight, or touch were paralyzed at birth and returned after years had past. I began to look at the different objects lining the walls. Another Boy was beginning the same ritual again. I found that Janice had accompanied me across the chamber. I looked around and was suprised that some of the object seemed familiar, I knew their names and uses. "It is strange to find that you have knowledge you didn't know about isn't it?"

I glanced at her. She was smiling fondly, with a distant look on her face. "How will we return to Ravenblack? The entrance is sealed." "No need to worry about that. Together we will teleport this entire chamber to the Fortress. Even if you could get out. The magic of the oath only gives you the very basics. You have a long way ahead of you before you become a master." Janice said in a mock stern voice. I found that I liked her for her wit and easy smile. "If you wouldn't be offended, might I ask why you stayed?"

She saddened a bit. My heart nearly fell through to floor. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Why ask that question? I mentally kicked myself. "I stayed to protect the Kamas. My friends all perished in the great war. I had nowhere else to be. And death still holds fears for me." "Will you come with us to Ravendark? Can you?" She brightened a bit at that. "Why, of course we will come. You have to be taught the Kamas. We will transfer our minds into the vessels over here." She walked quickly to another table, and froze. There on the surface were the remains of several crystals of various sizes.

Only two were unbroken. A piece of fallen masonry had shattered the rest. She called the other two Phantoms over and again conferred with them about this new development. I watched her face as it went from grim, to resolute, to tears, and finally to anger. She strode away from the other two heading for the doors. One of the Phantoms concentrated on the smallest of the two crystals. It began to glow, he then gestured towards Janice. The Crystal sent out a flowing river of light that engulfed her and began dragging her into its glowing heart. She struggled against it. "It was my choice, you have no right to....." Her sentence broke off as she was drawn into the crystal.

The phantom looked at me. "She is the youngest of us, She believes it is her duty to move on so that we can live. We will not allow that. She has more talent than I. She must survive, even if against her will. She will be needed. Take the crystal, place its chain around your neck. You will be able to release her with a thought. But do not do so until after the teleportation."

The phantom moved away. The rituals had been completed in the meanwhile. And we now all stood in many different robes. There were two browns, one yellow, one green, one red, and Kelan was another Blue like myself. I studied the Runes they all wore. There were five separate houses in attendance it would seem. But it appeared I was the only Restamar.

"Prepare yourselves." the phantom that had spoken earlier announced. We all watched as the other phantom entered the second crystal. Then the remaining phantom began to trace a symbol in the air. As he finished he spoke its name, the symbol came to life, glowing with a light like fire. Again he traced a rune and gave it its name. This one glowed blue. Now he raised his hands and spoke a final word. Both runes flashed white. We were all blinded. Next thing we knew we were laying on the floor and all was quiet. Through the opening where the door should have been we could see daylight streaming in. Slowly I approached the light. Up a short flight of steps in (Praise be) the blackest rock you ever saw was the main courtyard of Ravendark.

Our welcome was that of heroes thought lost. We were received with the best that could be given while under siege. The chamber of the Kamasi was a treasure thought too good to be true. Most of the young people in the fortress took the oath and began their training.

The phantom, whose name I found out was Redener the green, began the first steps in their lessons. He also personally supervised a portal to an island far to the east, left untouched by the lutins. A small contingent of farmers and hunters was sent through. They returned with news of great importance, a small farming community had been erected, and even more welcome, fresh meat. That night there was feasting like no other in recent memory.

I excused myself from the festivities early and returning to my room I concentrated on the Crystal I still wore. A moment went by and then she appeared before me. She was both angry and hurt by being forced to come against her will. "I know," I said. "I know." She burst into tears. As the sobs wracked her body I made a move to comfort her. I gasped in shock as I actually felt her under my hand. I took her into my arms and held her until the sobs finally lessened. "How is it that you are real?" I asked once she had regained some composure. She smiled at me. "As long as you wear that crystal you are halfway into the realm I inhabit." She placed her hand on mine. She then pushed her hand through mine. I felt the resistance, but it still passed through. "I am partially solid, as are you, as long as you wear the amulet that my mind inhabits."

I placed my hand on her shoulder, as long as I didn't put any pressure, just let it rest there it stayed on her shoulder. "Amazing!" I said. I knew nothing else to say. She leaned forward and kissed me on the cheek. "Thank you for being here. And for being my friend." She stood back. "Now I think you are in need of some major work if you plan to be a Master anytime in the next few millennia. Now, let's get startedm" She said in a mock stern voice, her eyes laughing. "Yes, Ma'am," I said enthusiastically. To see her in this mood, I would walk to the ends of the earth for her.

And so I started down the path that would lead me eventually to Metamor Keep and an entirely new life.