Hey everybody! I have exciting news — PercyQuest is now up and running again! Natalie has posted some PJO news, and the Demigod Diaries that I have posted on FF will be up shortly. Because I can post DD on PercyQuest now, I won’t be posting them on Fictional Fantasy. I will give updates for when I do post them though. 🙂
Here is the latest chapter of Wrathgate, by Jonathan Shelnutt. He’s planning a few extra things outside of the story for everybody, so be sure to check back!
Chapter 5 Part 1: Thunderhead
“Alexander, you can’t do this.” Cybelle’s voice was as cold as ice.
“I can indeed, according to the Ancient Laws. You of all people should know that. As the Prince, I have authority over all of the Sea Elves as well as the military. And my decision is that we will go to Istris,” Alexander drew from his cloak an ebony black wand with silver rune inscriptions. “James, take this to your parents. They will know what to do with it.”
“You know my name?” James said, surprised.
“Yes, James, I know quite a bit about you. Now hurry on and tell your parents hello from me.” Alexander said urgently, holding the wand as far away from his body as possible, like he was afraid it would bite him. “Tell your parents that I cannot guard this in my situation. Tell them to leave our city as quickly as possible and meet with myself and the sea elves in Istris. Don’t stop until you find them. This wand cannot fall into the hands of the Ashen.”
Hesitantly James took the wand, which felt as cold as ice, and yet felt natural in his hand. The black orb behind the grip of the wand balanced it perfectly. Upon closer inspection, James found elegant silver inscriptions written down the length of the rod.
“What do they say?” James said, awestruck.
Alexander glanced at the King and his advisors, who were having a panicked whispered conversation, before answering.
“They are written in Feynorian. I cannot read it, but your adoptive mother could.”
“But my mother is a weaver, as is my father.” James protested, confused.
“I think you deserve an explanation. But not now, and not here. We will talk further when we are safely in Istris. Now go, and take that wand to your parents. I am sure that they will be glad to see them.”
James placed the wand carefully in his alchemist’s bag, said goodbye to the green eyed prince, and hurried away. As he went through the throne room doors he heard the spirited argument between Alexander and the advisors start up anew.
James’s mind was ablaze as he strode through the fountain room and down the stairs. Everything James had ever known was collapsing around him. Apparently his mother and father had some strange connection with the mysterious Prince Alexander, who had an alter-ego as a member of the Thieves’ Guild. Another dangerous man would hurt James if he could, and the Ashen were coming any minute to invade the city of Cithara. The tiny island of Capria had strong defenses, but James highly doubted that the people could defend against the kind of magic that the Ashen had used in Ravenna. At least they wouldn’t be surprised, thanks to James. Above all the wand was a mystery to James, who felt a strange attachment to it, like it was tugging on his soul with its frigid touch.
“You there!” said a woman’s voice from below him. James awoke from his reverie and halted suddenly. There was no one on the stairs below him, but the voice had most definitely come from below him.
“Stop right there!” said the disembodied voice.
James obeyed, looking around wildly. Finally he saw the source of the voice, a woman in the other staircase that twisted around the one which James was descending. He could just see the woman’s face through a window to his right.
“I just spoke to Marien,” said the angry woman who James had met earlier. “She just came to visit me from Vinteria. Witch’s Rot, eh? Echidna fever, eh? Well, Marien wants to let you know that she is just fine. She has some questions for you, though. Now come here immediately and we’ll see just who you really are, vagabond!” Ellana’s voice rose to a shrill pitch.
Without thinking a moment more, James made a break for it, taking the stairs four at a time. He had no time to get caught and to sort out that whole situation. He didn’t have time to get stuck in the dungeon either, which was a problem because now Ellana was shrieking for the guards.
The guards could not possibly have been getting paid enough, because the instant Ellana called for them they seemed to appear out of thin air in front of James.
“They’re up there!” James said quickly, pointing up the stairs. The guards rushed past him, drawing their long steel swords. Grinning impishly, the boy continued his rapid descent.
After what seemed like ages but must have been only minutes, James came to the end of the steps, where the two staircases untwined and framed the back curve of the round tower. For a moment, everything was normal in the entrance hall of the Argent Spire. Portly government officials bustled around, some women in silk dresses gossiped earnestly, and errand boys scurried like mice, carrying messages and gifts between the lords and ladies in Cithara’s court.
For the first time James understood the reason for the two entwined staircases. A shaft of sunlight radiated from the hole in roof and shone down between the staircases, illuminating an enormous gem in the center of the room. The jewel was white and wrought into the shape of a six pointed star just large enough to fit a normal sized person inside. Set on the top of a fountain in the very center of the room, the star splintered the celestial ray from the heavens into six dancing white lights, which struck six silver censers perfuming the room with the aroma of burning incense, as if it were a temple.
Then the serenity was broken. With a thunderous crash, thunder shook the Argent Spire and all those in it, instantly accompanied by a downpour of torrential rain which bathed the white diamond and quenched its light. James made a break for the door, dreading that the arrival of the unnatural storm might coincide with the arrival of the Ashen.