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Ancestor Chapter 19: Phoenix-Born

Chapter 19 of Ancestor

I guess I haven’t written in here for a while. Not since Dad died. And maybe I will add the details later on that, but for now, I think it will suffice to say that he died in battle. He died with honor and he died protecting the people he loves. That leaves just me now in the family line. I’ve been wallowing in my own pity for a while, but after the ceremony yesterday, I think I’ve finally accepted it. It’s kind of weird writing in this record now. I always knew it would be given to my family and given to whoever I choose to watch over in the next life. But now after what happened, I feel like I actually sort of get it.

So whoever you are and whatever your strengths or your weaknesses. If you are simply my child reading this as is your right, or if you are the one I’ve chosen to support and protect- Know that you are not alone, I am watching over you and I will do my best to protect and help you. Just work your hardest and do all that you can. I will try to provide the rest.

Xaine put down his writing utensil and closed his record. He sat at the small writing table in his room. He had come to grips with his father's passing but still wasn’t sure if he wanted to occupy the main room in the house. That part of the house still remained his father’s in his eyes. He prepared himself for the day and tended the horses then was off to the notice board.

He was going along the familiar way, kicking a stone up the path, reaching the stone, and kicking it again. Once he had reached the notice board he looked around to see the other people there. It was very strange to see so many new faces and so little familiar ones. In fact, when Xaine looked around harder he saw that not a single warrior he knew was there. The area was filled with young people who had yet to come of age.

Xaine hadn’t expected to be the oldest one there. A moment passed and the thought occurred to Xaine that the warriors were not currently off duty. Torin had been asking if he would get back to training but he’d only assumed he was not yet fully trained himself and required more. Once the man who read off the notices for the day arrived, Xaine had asked where the other warriors had been.

As he had concluded, they had been given assignments and training. Xaine headed towards the town training grounds leaving the notice board behind. This path, however, was not quite as familiar as the other. When Xaine thought about it, he actually had never even used the training grounds in town. Even when he and Ailee practiced they mainly used the pasture behind his house or other open areas they could find.

As Xaine approached, he could see men training and using their various different powers. He recognized some of the powers from afar, but others seemed completely new to him. Once closer he could a man striding through giving orders and corrections and finally calling all the men into formation.

He could hear the man’s loud voice carrying but could only catch a few words. A moment later the men resumed their training and the commander left and headed in Xaines direction. The figure stopped for a moment noticing Xaine then jogged over to him.

“Hey, you made it out! But what are you doing here?” Torin Asked.

“I was coming to train I thought. I kind of thought you’d be happy about that as well,” Xaine replied.

“Haha well I am, but you really should meet with the elders. We need to go over some things and while you’ve been indisposed we have had to sort of improvise. I’m not even really supposed to be commanding the men but the others in charge have been in meetings constantly.”

“The elders are meeting this early?” Xaine asked surprised.

“Well normally no, but given the circumstances, we have had some decisions to make. I’m actually going over to meet with them now as well, I just had to give instruction here and get the men started. You can just come with me.”

“Oh, well, alright I guess I will,” Xaine replied.

“You seem like you’re doing much better, I’m glad to see it. We’ve all been worried about you,” Torin said sincerely.

“Well, my father asked me to make something of myself and I couldn’t really do that sitting around moping all the time. I’ll still miss him, of course, but I have to move on. And the ceremony really helped. By the way, who is in charge now that he’s gone?” Xaine asked.

“Gavlin is, he’s a good captain, but he’s pretty strict,” Replied Torin.

“Oh yeah, that’s Corey’s father, right? With that lightning power.”

“Ha! Right, that’s him. I forgot they did that to you guys. It’s kind of a tradition. At least, since Galvin has been around. They always get the greenies with that one,” Torin said chuckling.

“Oh, so that’s the reason Corey didn’t tell us about it. He was the only one who knew so he covered his ears. I’ll have to pay him back some time.”

They were coming up on the town hall when Xaine spotted another figure in the distance leaving it. He squinted at the familiar shape moving smoothly across the path seemingly silently.

“Wait a second, is that?” Xaine said while taking a further step forward. “That’s Nab isn’t it? What’s he doing skulking around here?!”

“Oh right, I forgot to tell you about that. Wasn’t sure you wanted to deal with it. Nab came back with us. His intel has been very valuable, and we have needed it. He was most likely in the meeting with the elders just now.”

“You haven’t lost anything recently have you?” Xaine asked darkly.

“No, I think he’s actually been behaving himself while he’s been here,” Torin said smiling.

“Is that because nobody is watching him, so they haven’t noticed?”

“We had some people tail him for a little while after getting here though they lost him several times. He actually spends a good deal of time outside the town for some reason. He doesn’t even use the inn. He has his own supplies and camps out somewhere.”

“If we’ve lost him several times how do we know he’s not stealing things?”

“Well, we were able to follow him through the town while he was here. But whenever he leaves the town he seems to just slip away. And we’ve had no theft reports really while out here. At least no real ones. A few people actually did report a few things but found them later. And anyway without the reports and us apparently not being able to track him we just kind of thought we’d just train the men instead of wasting their time following him.”

Xaine wished he could follow Nab, but he knew it would be useless. Having no tracking abilities he would not be able to follow Nab if the actual trackers couldn’t. So he contented himself to continue to the town hall with Torin. As they approached Xaine reached out a hand to open the door and Torin put a hand in front of him to stop him. Xaine looked up at him questioningly.

“I just wanted to tell you; you should prepare yourself. There may be some, uh, interesting things said in here. A couple of things might come as a shock to you. Just try and be ready for that and to handle things calmly.”

Now more confused than ever Xaine nodded. He wasn’t sure what the point of Torin telling him was since it just seemed to make him more nervous to enter the meeting. But Xaine had a made a promise to his father and would not wait any longer. Xaine took a deep breath, nodded, and opened the door.

The two walked down the long hall, their steps echoing off the stone floor. Neither of them spoke, which Xaine found unhelpful. He couldn’t help but think of what was going to come. What did he have to be ready for? What could they possibly say to him? He couldn’t see anything that he would need to prepare himself for unless they wanted to retire him already, which he supposed was somewhat possible as he was the last in his line.

But that was very unlikely and usually very rare. Xaine’s train of thought was stopped abruptly as they had already made it to the meeting chamber and Torin was pulling the door open. Again Xaine saw the full counsel of elders seated and surrounded by many others in high positions from the town. Most, however, were warriors.

As Xaine walked into the room they were all in conversation. One or two of them glanced at Torin and Xaine entering the room. Then they had to double take and looked again, this time directly at Xaine. They nudged and whispered to those around them. One by one more faces turned towards him.

Soon they were all looking forward and the meeting was called to order.

“Xaine Kaider, we are very happy to see you are out and about. We have been needing a conference with you for some time now. Do you know anything about what’s going on currently? Have you been filled in on the current plans regarding the Darkgons?” Asked the high elder.

“No, I haven’t, I’m not sure anyone wanted to convey anything to me until I was feeling better. And to be honest, I was kind of avoiding it.”

“Understandable. Well Xaine, we have come to a decision that the Darkgons are erratic and dangerous. They do not seem to have any boundaries and have caused many losses and damages. We have decided that they should be eradicated. We plan to use as large a force as we can afford. Additionally, Nab and Ailee have agreed to assist us and shared their intel.”

“But if all of this has already been decided and discussed why has Torin been trying to get me to join you here for the last week or so? It seems as if you’ve gotten all the information you need. Is there anything else that I am able to contribute?” Xaine asked in reply.

“Well Xaine, you serve a very important purpose. We have voted, and the majority have ruled that you will lead them,” the high elder said.

“I’m sorry, I’ll lead who?” Xaine asked bewildered.

“We’ve decided that you should lead the force to destroy the Darkgons,” replied the high elder.

There was an uncomfortable silence for a moment where Xaine tried to understand what they meant. He couldn’t fathom they actually meant for him to lead the whole military of Kreila. Unable to help himself, Xaine actually gave a small audible nervous laugh. And he was suddenly aware of all the eyes on him as nobody else laughed.

“I’m sorry but, you can’t be serious? I’m only seventeen and barely more than a trainee. I’ve only been on two real missions and only participated in one real battle. And to be frank I nearly got myself killed. I believe I would have gotten myself killed if not for the-”

“The phoenix,” The elder finished his sentence. “This is exactly why Xaine. There can be no doubt it anymore that you are phoenix-born. As was said at the day of your selection we believe you are the person spoken of the in the prophecy of Klaes.”

“Phoenix-born? Is that even real?” Xaine asked. He had heard of Phoenix-born in old legends and folktales, but they have never been witnessed for many generations.

“It is said that Phoenix-born are rare and often skip many generations,” The elder spoke as if he knew was Xaine was thinking. “In fact, the last we know of in record was Klaes himself. Your life has now been touched by a Phoenix twice Xaine. Once is more than many in their whole lifetime.”

“But there were many people in both places any of them could have been just as phoenix-born as me,” Xaine replied.

“However, you were the only one at both locations, and the Phoenix interacted specifically with you both times,” Another one of the elders spoke up.

“But phoenix-born are said to have special powers. I’ve only got my normal ancestral power; I have nothing more special than that.”

“These powers may not manifest immediately. It is possible that you have yet to realize the abilities,” A warrior spoke up as well.

Xaine was beginning to feel overwhelmed, and almost attacked. Was he the only one who thought they were being crazy? How did they know these weren’t just coincidence?

“Even if I am phoenix-born, as you said I have not realized any additional powers, and I’m still very young and inexperienced to lead an entire company of warriors.”

“Xaine, if you are the warrior spoken about in Klaes prophecy then you are the only person who can lead these men to victory. The darkgons are breeding very quickly, and we are lucky they have only gotten to the number they are at now. If left unchecked many more people can, and probably will, die.”

“But how do we even know the darkgons is the great darkness they spoke about?” Xaine asked.

“It is a great darkness indeed Xaine, and it’s possible that it is not that great evil. But we find it no coincidence that the warrior that is spoken of comes to us at the same time a large threat arises. Xaine, your choices may be the only ones that can see us through with as little death as possible.”

Xaine didn’t speak for a moment. He looked at Torin for a moment who simply gave a light shrug and said quietly, “I made the same arguments”. Xaine wasn’t sure what to do. He had made a promise to face his problems head on. And to do what was necessary to honor his line. But this seemed much too soon for such a large task. He didn’t have the experience he needed.

“You say my choices may be what saves us? Then I want you to listen to my choices today. I am too young to do this. I may be able to make the choices we need to be made, but I lack the experience that many others have. I cannot be the leader of this company yet. I need more wisdom to see these men to safety.”

There was another large silence as the elders and warriors looked at one another. Xaine had apparently made a valid point. They all seemed to be looking for something to say and possibly someone to say it. Finally, the high elder looked back to Xaine and opened his mouth to speak. The other watched.

“Then I will propose another course of action. If you are not in command of these men, then you will be second in command. You will work in an advisory capacity to the captain of the company, and you will help them lead. This will ensure someone with wisdom and experience will be able to guide the men in their vital decision, and you will be able to advise and direct if and when the situation calls for it.”

Xaine stood and thought for a moment then spoke.

“I accept. Though if I may make a suggestion I would like you to consider Torin for the leadership of the company,” Xaine heard Torin stammer a moment behind him. “He and I work well together, and he was a good friend of my fathers. My father trusted his abilities, and so do I,” Xaine finished.

“We will consider it. All in favor of Xaine leading in an advisory capacity?” Most of those assembled raised their hands. “Majority rule.”

“I’d also like to see the prophecy myself. I think if I am really going to understand what to do and what is expected of me, I need to know what it says.”

“We thought you may ask this and have already discussed it. You are permitted to read the prophecy yourself. And actually in recently reviewing it myself. It appears that you have been permitted to read it your whole life.”

The thought stuck with Xaine throughout the time he unpacked his meal and ate. The meeting had finally ended around midday, and he was able to get the time to eat what he’d packed. What did it mean that he was always permitted to read the prophecy? Why was he always permitted?

Xaine was slightly comforted by the fact that he would probably soon find out because he would be reading the prophecy the same day. What would he find in it? Even though the meeting had lasted for hours they never fully explained if the prophecy said anything about a phoenix-born. Yet Xaine felt it had to as they kept linking their belief that he was phoenix-born to the prophecy indirectly.

If he was Phoenix-born what sort of other powers would he attain? The legends always told of it being linked to fire somehow. But he had never shown any type of inclination to fire. Xaine sighed deeply. He knew he had already made a promise to take action and he would keep to his word but he was also frustrated. It seemed that if you chose to take action in the world, the world would give you the hardest possible actions to take.

As he was sitting in the grass finishing the apple he brought, he flopped down on his back and stared at the clouds. Allowing himself a moment of self-pity he said to himself,

“Why does this stuff always happen to me?”

He immediately snorted with laughter at his own melodrama. Sure he had lost a lot in his life but was the world expecting him to save everyone and be a prophesied warrior and Phoenix-born something that occurred to him often? Of course not, things like that don’t happen to anyone often. It just so happened that this time it was him.

Xaine finished his apple and tossed the core aside. He got back to his feet and closed up his bag. His mealtime was over, and now it was time to find out what the prophecy said. He slung his pack over his shoulder again and headed to the hall of ancestors.

Xaine arrived at the large building which always seemed smaller than it should be. Records of all the ancestors of Kreila existed within the walls of this building, and yet it was still not the largest building in the town.

Xaine moved forward and gripped the cold handle of the large metal door. It swung open without a sound as it always did and he entered the building. The stone walls and floor were still a little familiar to Xaine. He had been here more than once as most people had. It was part of honoring their ancestors to read about them and trace their lineage.

This always gave Xaine somewhat of a guilty feeling when he entered. He knew she should be visiting this place more often than he had. As usual, an elder was waiting in the entrance room to guide visitors to the appropriate sections. Having attended the counsel with Xaine she knew where Xaine was headed and led him through the second set of doors and into the record rooms.

Hundreds of records lined the walls in different sized wooden boxes. Each box containing the immediately family members of that household. Some records were then kept in duplicate as children who got married were moved to their own new box with their new immediate family members.

Xaine was surprised that the elder seemed to be following the same path that usually lead to his own family.

“I’m here to read the prophecy of Klaes,” He told her just in case.

“That is what I assumed Xaine; we are headed in the right direction then.”

They continued further into the record room and finally arrived at the same location where the record of Xaine’s grandfather usually sat. And she then directed Xaine to a flight of stairs around a corner.

They descended the stairs into a dark and somewhat damp smelling corridor. The hall was dark and lit by torches that lined the walls. The torches, however, were completely encased in glass, most likely to avoid any fire accidentally touching a record. Though Xaine knew the records themselves were also protected from fire magically, he was used to seeing numerous protective redundancies like this throughout the building.

They passed hall after hall making the place seem like a vast set of catacombs under the town. Xaine felt like they had traveled much farther than just the length of the building until finally at the end of the long hall they had been traveling was an open archway. Inside on the opposite wall from the arch was a single box with five scrolls inside.

After the elder led him in she pointed out the scroll that contained Klaes prophecy.

“The prophecy is at the end of this scroll. As you may know, many prophecies are written just before one dies. I will be upstairs if you need anything,” She said and then left.

Xaine picked up the scroll of parchment. It seemed to be ancient, and Xaine realized that it was at least so old that they had not yet started writing their records in books. He looked at the name on the front where it was held together by a seal.

Just above the seal Xaine could see the name written in very old characters. “Klaes Staas”, it read. Xaine couldn’t believe it. He had known the first name of the person who had written the prophecy but not the last. He had assumed it was only someone named after him as many were. But this was actually him. The very first ancestor that settled Kreila hundreds and hundreds of years ago.

Xaine broke the seal and began to unroll it. Working very similarly to their record books now the scroll seemed to contain many more writings than seemed possible. Several times Xaine thought he would reach the end but did not. Even though the scrolls were magically extended and shortened as they were unrolled, it seemed to contain still an extreme amount of history.

Finally, the scroll stopped producing more parchment, and Xaine found where the prophecy began. Xaine could see the prophecy was written in a different handwriting than the rest of the scroll. It seemed, as sometimes was required, that someone had written this portion for Klaes as he was unable to do so in his deathbed.

‘The Prophecy of Klaes’ was written above the actual prophecy, entitling it. Xaine assumed this was added later after the prophecy was recorded down and they had time.

Aalt, the ancestors speak to me. The Aether is disturbed. Our people will cause a great evil. Many generations will pass. And the trials will continue. But one will arise, unbound by the trials, free. He will be the one who can choose victory, who can choose to cleanse the evil. He will be the one who can set it right. Humanity will be threatened. Elven kind will be threatened. Dwarvish kind will be threatened. Only he can unite, only he can destroy. The Phoenix will choose him, and so will I.

Xaine reached the end and saw the markings bearing Klaes’s runes. He immediately looked farther up then farther down. Was there no more to the prophecy? He didn’t understand, and it seemed so short and so vague. What was he supposed to do? How was he supposed to defeat the evil?

He read it again, and it only said he could choose to. Well, he thought bitterly, if it’s as easy as choosing to defeat them then I’ve got it easy! Resigned to the fact that there was no more to the prophecy Xaine scanned more of the details.

What did it mean that Klaes would choose him? Usually, that term is reserved for the ancestral weapon and selection when an ancestor chooses to help a descendant but if that were the case it couldn’t be Xaine. He was chosen by his grandfather and he would have had to have been directly descended from Klaes to be chosen by him.

Xaine then looked down once more at the runes of Klaes Staas, and he stared in disbelief again. It was the same familiar symbol he had seen on the top of his father's gravestone. The most influential or earliest traceable ancestor in Xaine’s family line, Klaes Staas.

Xaine was directly descended from Klaes, the first ancestor to settle Kreila, the first record kept for the history of the people of Kreila. The realization of what that meant came back to Xaine. He actually could have been chosen by Klaes. But he knew he was chosen by his grandfather Drail, he was sure of it. He remembered seeing the runes vividly and remembered feeling the presence and connection to his grandfather when his father died.

Xaine rolled the scroll back up, and it resealed itself. He placed it back in the box on the wall and quickly walked the long hall back to the stairs. He found the elder back at her post and approached her.

“The records of ancestors who choose warriors are here as well correct?”

“Yes, that scroll is kept here as well.”

“May I see mine please?” He asked her, and she looked at him curiously.

“Yes, I believe so. Follow me this way please.”

She led him through the building to another room that had a very large scroll sitting on a large table that Xaine recognized from the day he went through his ceremony. Together they unrolled the scroll until it showed the area of his training group and Xaine approached the table where his name should be.

He looked down at it and saw the familiar runes of his grandfather Drail. And underneath them the ancient runes of Klaes.

“There’s two,” he said aloud but absentmindedly. “I was chosen by two.”

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