Cautiously, glancing around her empty room, Thaya shuddered as her hand closed over the spine of a plain bound book the title along its edge read, “Accounting”.
Returning to the middle of the room’s floor, she sat cross-legged, taking the book onto her lap. With trembling hand, she lifted the false cover to reveal the tome beneath. The words below Thaya’s slowly moving palm turned to flames as she deliberately waved her hand over the true cover. The burning letters read “Dolarn Code”, under that in smaller glowing letters was written “Wizard’s Pact”. Thaya had held this book many times. Though she knew the words by heart, she turned the volume over and read,
Penalty of death
There were no Wizard’s eyes save Tar’s left on Dolarn to read this account of rules. The book had been hidden on Thaya’s shelves since she acquired it as a little girl. Now on the verge of womanhood, she still did not know what it contained.
With a sigh, she gently picked up the Accounting cover to place it back over the book to hide it on her shelf once more. As she moved the light cover over the words, its binding bent in her hand and the book flipped open. The pages feathered before her glowing orange and threatening blue heat. Thaya’s heart pounded, and she quickly squeezed her eyes tight against seeing anything written. With faltering hands, she slammed the tome shut. Her blood still rushing, she hesitantly peeked at the now closed volume. That should not have happened. It had never fallen open before. The book had remained solidly shut. Of course, she had always handled it carefully, and assumed a spell locked it shut against all save Wizards. The words once more flamed as she waved her hand over the title and subtitle. Threat or invitation, the flames only appeared beneath her palm. Breathing a sigh of relief, she shifted the book to once more place its concealing cover on.
Hands still trembling, Thaya stopped. It had opened. The Code had actually flipped open in her lap. True, her eyes had viewed no words, but did she dare…?
Closing her eyes, she slowly allowed her hands to open the book once more. Her pulse sped up, and her body trembled. What would happen if she took a peek at that first page? The other codebooks hidden on her shelves allowed the pure of mind, body and heart to view them. This one did not make that exception, at least not in writing on the cover, but was it possible…?
Slowly, she opened one eye:
Life is Sacred!
She quickly shut her eye tightly again. Three words, she had read three words. Were they warning, against reading further, or confirmation of Dolarn fact? Either way, she was still sitting with the book in her lap and nothing had happened…
Opening both eyes, she looked down, and once more read, “Life is Sacred!”
Taking a deep breath, Thaya fingered the corner of the page, sure she had only one. The room around her was deathly silent. Her eyes automatically closed again, as she quickly flipped to the next page. Once again, she slowly opened one eye, and then the other.
The pages had originally been blank, however written by hand were the words:
I have been outvoted, so I Azphault write this account here, and bow to democracy:
This Lightness a vote was taken to save Dolarn from fast approaching extinction. The only solution offered has been granted. Tar’s solution. I do not trust him, or what he has told us of the power of Turquoise, but I cannot prove he lies. In accordance with the vote, Tar now has the right to empower Turquoise through sacrifice. I have pleaded with other Wizards to step in, but none including myself are willing to deliberately take a life. Therefore, the power of Turquoise remains Tar’s alone.
As a concession to me, my peer Wizards have taken one precaution; the Reader Council has the power to grant Supreme Lord. They can place a powerful Ruler over Tar should the need arise, but they are a placid tribe and thus far they trust him. I fear my son’s use of his newfound powers
The words ended abruptly, with no signature to close Azphault’s personal writings, causing Thaya to frown. This was not done. Writing was signed, it was how it was authenticated. Fingering the next corner, Thaya swallowed hard. Perhaps there was more on the next page. Fear still coursed her and tightened her stomach, but curiosity had taken over. Turning the page, a folded sheet lay between these blank pages. Taking it, Thaya opened the sheet and saw the same handwriting:
Proposed additions to the Code of Dolarn:
1. Each Generation a Journey of Turquoise will take place to replenish Tar’s supply of Turquoise.
2. Each Tribe must send one Runner to the Start of the Journey of Turquoise.
3. All Runners are equal, and must pass the test of making it to the Journey’s start in solitude.
4. As proof they have reached the halfway point in the Journey of Turquoise, each Runner must bring back a bauble made of hardened Turquoise from the milky clay of the Greenland to replenish Tar’s power supply.
5. The order of a runner’s finish dictates the relative number of sacrifices from their tribe.
6. To win the Journey of Turquoise grants the Runner’s request to receive amnesty.
7. A Ceremony will take place on completion of the Journey of Turquoise to celebrate the successful Runners and Dolarn.
8. Tribal sacrifices are chosen according to Tar’s empowerment needs.
9. Tribes will send their sacrificial promptly to Tar.
10. To disobey risks Tribal annihilation.
The crashing signal rumbled through Dolarn, and shook Thaya who instantly slammed the volume closed stopping her reading. Immediately, terror coursed her, increasing her heart rate before she accepted its meaning and relaxed to breathe.