"So, why are you out anyway?" she let out shattering my daydream, bringing me back to reality. "The healer said your mind needed time to conform, but here you are, what's on your mind?"
Yes, I did need time to heal but my mind was not broken, not with what I had seen and heard. I'm as fit as a fiddle and I bet I could start training if the Xaj allowed it. The dreams were all things of the past as I envisioned a future where we all got to win and taste victory, but first the little library.
"Have you been to the library before?" I asked, trying not to sound excited.
She nodded in affirmation but immediately advised against it saying the books were not up to date, however what I searched for was something that didn't need additional information. I guess I had no choice but to wait until I visited Crete, the city of knowledge.
Petra had been with me and given me the plans on how my training was to go. We would visit the ten temples of the gods while I trained with the monks and Xaj learning to control my innate abilities. We would pass through the town and I would get the knowledge I needed from the scholars.
I on the other hand needed immediate information on something, anything that could help with my dreams.. Just as Queen had taught me when I told her how useless it was for me to learn magic, "No knowledge is a waste Xerxes. You might not be a Xaj or a demigod but you could use the knowledge gained to achieve your own victory. I'm not teaching you this to be a magician silly, I want you to know that magicians are not as invincible as you think. Learn and you would get new insight from this". Reminiscing on the past gave me a fuzzy feeling. I still loved her, even after her death I still loved her. I was still clinging onto a bit of hope that maybe, just maybe she was still alive. But that was fake, for I had seen her die in the fire. This was not what I needed right now, I was way past leaning into my emotions. It was time for answers.
"Something's bothering you. Tell me what it is," she demanded.
"Well..." I said before halting. Why did I stop? It was now or never Xerxes, Ang was well read when it came to folklores and mysteries of the past, she could help with the answers I needed.
"You know about the old gods right?" I asked levelly.
She gave off a wide grin and I knew at that moment that my quest had come to an end.
"Yeah, what about them?" she asked excited.
How to put it to her was the problem, I needed answers but if I needed them it had to be from the root and not from the stem. I needed to know their origin, powers, wars they had won and lost, everything.
I began, "I need to know everything about the gods Ang. I need to know who or what they are, where they come from, what they did and who they did it to and for. I need information on the gods if I'm going to know who I am."
The nation believed me to be a saviour, it would be failure on my part if I had no knowledge of my alleged history.
"Follow me, I think I know what you're looking for," she said, beckoning on me to follow her while running towards the valley.
We took a path through the valley of bones, it was where we had buried everyone we had lost during the battles. All my friends were there, Queen included.
Focus Xerxes, don't let your emotions get the better of you.
We were going up the hill to a monastery. It stood tall as half of it was covered in a storm. Petra must be inside, a storm hovered over her whenever she was emotionally disturbed.
"Why are we going to the monastery?" I inquired as we ran.
"The answers you seek cannot be found in the library. Most of the books about the old wars and the old gods were hidden with the monks. They were afraid the people might get angry and burn the books, for it seemed like the gods had abandoned them," she answered almost out of breath.
She was right, no one spoke of the gods and got a pat on the back for it. They were always reprimanded for siding with the gods. The monks were the only ones allowed to walk freely because they had Petra as an ally.
We got into the large building and I was marveled by its structure. I had been to the monastery once but it was for my baptism and allegiance to the gods. We stood at the door for a minute with Ang scanning the room like she was looking for someone, that was when I noticed the stares. The monks and believers saw me as an abnormality and one of them had tried to kill me for it, my guess, that's why Petra was here, to warn them.
"Come on, I want you to meet someone," she said, grabbing my hand while leading me away from the cold welcome I had received. Moving swiftly we got into a long passage lined with torches on both ends. Each torch we passed had a painting on the wall showing past monks who had served the nation until their death. The last painting was that of Pontius holding up a staff with his left hand and a dagger with the other. I stopped to admire the artwork as I felt an aura emanate from the portrait. Every single chip and color was detailed bringing the portrait to life. His face was hypnotic with my mind falling away slowly.
"Xerxes, we need to go," Angs voice echoed in the hall breaking the trance I was in.
It took me awhile to move away from his empty glare. It was just a picture after all. I looked back at Ang as she led me away from the passage down a windy stair.
Something about the passage creeped me out like the paintings were alive, maybe it was all in my mind, maybe I really did need more rest. Either way I was already here, I might as well get the answers I came for.
A brick wall stood at the end of the stairs, it was a dead end. What was Angs plan to get through, break it? She looked back at me and let out a little laugh, she must have seen the puzzled look on my face.
"You'll see," she said before placing her hand at the brick wall in front of her as she was sucked in.
Spell of deception.
I knew this one.
Queen had told me that magicians used it a lot to deceive people. With this spell, you could make a horse look like a dragon and one coin look like fifty.
She disappeared into the wall completely when I heard her yell, "Come in Xerxes, it's safe!"
I felt a bit skeptical about all of it but Ang would never do anything to hurt me, she was not like that.
Closing my eyes, I walked into the wall and felt a cloud-like substance wash over my body making me shiver.
"It's okay, you can open your eyes now."
Opening my eyes, I found myself in a very large and busy library. It was so magnificent that I could not help but marvel at it's beauty. An underground library, no one would suspect that such a place existed. It was bustling with monks going about in their black robes with texts and books in their possession. Some were already seated reading or having conversations. The shelves were really high, almost two or three stories high making me wonder if we were still in the monastery. I was curious to see how they would get to the top when a monk climbed on a ladder, rolled to the column he wanted, dropped a book and picked up another in its place. I was amazed at such ingenious ideas. The ceiling had crystal lamps bounce light all over the place giving it such brilliance and effulgence. Of course, that would be needed since there were no windows. Everything was elegant and creative. There was a huge difference between the battlefield and this library.
"Are you going to stand there all day or are you going to hug your uncle?" a deep male voice asked with endearment.
My mind was taken back to it's body as Ang skipped to hug an old man sitting by the wall.
"Is this...?", he prompted as she nodded in affirmative. He walked to where I stood holding his hands out to me.
"My name is Monk Gilkoa, I'm Angs uncle and the abbot here. Welcome to the library," his eyes sparkled with pride as he waved around to show me the buildings impressiveness.
I did not need to go to Crete for knowledge, this library held my answer. It was big, it was busy and it looked important, that was all I needed.
It was time I learnt my history.
It was time I knew about the gods and who I was meant to be.
"I'm exhausted!" I cried out. We had been reading through the old texts and bibles and could not find anything useful about the gods.
We did learn much about the causes of the wars but the gods were not the genesis of the wars, the witches were.
"What do we do Uncle? The stories about the gods does not seem to exist in the library," Ang cried out almost breaking into tears.
"It actually does, but it would be in the catacomb behind the church" he said closing the book on his lap. "We have to hurry if we are to get there before mid-day. We would not want Petra to see us for it was her order to have the old books destroyed. I hid some of them in the catacomb to avoid the total destruction of history."
It was a relief to hear that, but why would Petra want the old books destroyed? She was a Xaj not a human. The Xaj was the closest thing to a demigod and a god because of their powers.
Something did not sound right, what was Petra thinking when she gave that order?
"Xerxes?" I dropped the book in my hands with a start, "We need to go."
I followed the sound of her voice to find her and the abbot waiting at a different wall from where we had entered. Pushing away the books to give me room to get up, I saw how messy the floor was and wondered who was going to pack the books back to their respective rows when a young boy approached me with a smile on his face. "I'll do it," he said before picking up the texts and the letters, arranging them in a professional way.
"Xerxes!" I heard her call out, this time with irritation in her tone. It was time to go.
Well, whatever it was, I would get to the bottom of it and find out why the Xaj had given the order.
We had gone through a back exit and were running towards the catacomb with the abbot in the lead. If the Xaj was going to keep secrets from me, it would be hard to trust her with my memories when I finally got them back.
"We're almost there!" he shouted at the top of his lungs. "We just need to make it to that oak tree!"
He increased his pace and so did we. We had no time to waste for the mission at hand was important. I had two quests; the first was to learn about my history and the gods, the second was to find out why Petra would go through the trouble of ordering the destruction of the bibles and holy texts.
We were all out of breath by the time we got to the tree and I sat on the ground with Ang bent over panting really hard. It was peaceful here I thought as I looked around taking in the serene picture before me. He walked to a clearing and put his hands together like he was in prayer. I was a bit irritated by this because I was not really a religious person. I hated the gods. They could solve all these problems without the humans dying but they preferred to stay away and handle things in strange ways which always led to the destruction of human lives. My thoughts got erased when I saw his hands glow red. Calling Angs attention to it, she nodded but her face was still indifferent. She knew about it. That was strange. If he had these powers why wasn't he fighting in the fields with us?
He moved his arms around before hitting the ground with it creating a circle of fire. Was he a Xaj or was this some trickery that could be attained by the abbots alone?
I heard a creak come from an oak tree and when I looked towards it, there was a doorway in the middle of the tree.
"We have to hurry before Petra starts to get suspicious," he said before walking past me with Ang as they got into the tree. I got in a few seconds later with the entrance being shut behind me. It was pitch black but soon enough my eyes got accustomed to the darkness.
"Stay where you are, while I light the torches" his voice echoed in the distance.
Within seconds the entire place had been lit up by torches which were attached to the ceiling. I winced at how bright the lights were before my eyes got acquainted with it. Looking around, I could see that it was a large room filled with books, some charred from fire and some totally covered in ash. The books were all stacked up to the ceiling. Why would she want to get rid of all these?
"We can start with these ones. If you cannot find what you're looking for, then you will need to go to the city of knowledge. But I doubt that she would let you go there on your own."
"Why is that?" I asked frowning.
He looked away, he knew something.
"Why won't you tell me anything? The only enemy we have to fear is the King himself and nothing more."
"Oh no, the King is not the threat" he said softly.
What was he saying?
The King was the one who had ordered the killings of my parents and my people.
The King was the one moving against the nation.
The Draka soldiers were the menace in this story.
"If the King is not the threat... then who is?" I asked with a rush.
There was silence for a moment.
"Petra the Xaj is the threat. She started the war not the King," he answered, spelling each word out for it to sink in.
I felt dizzy from what he had said. I had told her everything about me because she had told me to trust her. I had fed myself to the enemy and it was all because I lacked information on the war.
I was fighting for the enemy which meant that I was the enemy.
I really had so much to learn.