One Year Later
“Celeste! Pay attention!” a pair of large hands clapped together in front of the young fiery redhead’s face.
Celeste sat up and pushed her hair out of her eyes. “Sorry, Elder Meg.”
“Learning the scrolls is necessary for all Empyreans. The Copian scrolls are the most important of them all. This is no time to day dream.” Elder Meg raised her brow. “Those who don’t learn their history are doomed to repeat it. I know you are only twelve years young; but this will make complete sense when you are no longer a fledgling.” She cleared her throat and continued. “Long ago, during the age of Azra, a majestic city thrived deep in the heart of
. It was carved
into a hidden canyon of gold. The city served as home to Gavinkin, beings with
the powerful wings of a hawk and bodies of a man. Empyrean wizards also
frequented the golden canyon.” Copious
Celeste rested her chin in her hands and gazed at the clear blue sky. It was a perfect day for an adventure; but all Empyreans had to learn the history of Azra’s Pith. Empyrea held thousands of years of the realm’s history in ancient scrolls, all of which Celeste was expected to memorized throughout her lifetime. She let out a sigh as Elder Meg carried on.
“Copia was abundant with anything one’s heart might crave, which attracted all types to its gates. Only the persistent were able to find it. The gold canyons hid in the thickest part of the forest behind a steep rock wall and a flowing waterfall.” Elder Meg placed her hands on the old wooden desk in front of Celeste. “Young fledgling, can you tell me who Imperius the Great is?”
“Um… yes, yes, he’s a cursed sorcerer,” she blurted. Celeste sat back in her seat with a proud smile, feeling impressed with herself for knowing the answer.
“Very good, Celeste; but there is more to the story. As a young man, Imperius was lost and wandering the forest when he found the gates. He did not look at all like a great anything. Filthy old rags barely hung on his scrawny frame of a body. He dabbled with magic and performed in towns he visited to get by. It was not real magic, but sleight of hand tricks used for entertaining and the occasional pickpocket when he was really hungry. When he saw the golden city of
Copia, he was determined
to stay. ‘I will be full and rich for the rest of my days. I have found home,’
Celeste’s eyelids grew heavy as Elder Meg droned on.
“The citizens of Copia welcomed him with open wings as they did anyone who entered the golden canyon. Imperius the Great had anything he desired… food, riches, but there was something even more special about Copia. Imperius was able to perform real magic with ease. He felt a strong energy force flowing through him. The power was intoxicating and he wanted more.
“He discovered the source in a trusting friend, an Empyrean wizard who lived in the outskirts. Empyrean wizards and Gavinkin harnessed the energy of the élan and used their powers to keep a peaceful balance in the realm. As the days went on, Empyreans and Gavinkin disappeared while Imperius became more powerful. One can only imagine his methods.”
Eyes closed, Celeste did imagine. She pictured Imperius sneaking up to wrap his robe around his victims and absorb them. Shuddering, she blinked awake.
Elder Meg nodded. “Yes, Imperius the Great was quickly becoming a sorcerer and losing any remaining human qualities. Dark creatures rose from his magic. The once great city grew overrun with shadow jumpers. Giant black bird beasts known as murks flew in and terrorized Copians. The citizens’ peaceful energy shifted to greed, envy, and hatred. Fighting broke out in the city walls.”
Celeste felt herself drifting off to sleep again. Everything Elder Meg said ran though her head like a wild dream.
“Xavier, an elder Gavinkin and the keeper of Copia, appealed to Azra, the most sacred of all the Empyreans. It was too late; a clash of power brought the city to ruins. Shadow jumpers and murks consumed everything in their path.
“Azra discovered Imperius dwelling in a hole in the rock wall outside Copia. The sorcerer was surrounded by the empty shells of Gavinkin and Empyreans. Imperius had drained their energy and left them for dead.
“Ultimately, Imperius was no match for Azra. ‘Your existence here ends now. You will live in darkness for eternity,’ Azra ordered. ‘Your only way out is to be consumed by the light of the élan.’ With that, the butterfly curse was set, imprisoning imperious to eternal darkness. The dark sorcerer was not seen or heard from and most likely died in that very cave.” Elder Meg cleared her throat.
Celeste gasped and her eyes snapped open. “Sorry, Elder Meg. It won’t happen again.”
“I should hope not.” Elder Meg replied with a stern glare. “Now, where was I? Oh, yes… the creatures he created from dark magic remained in Copia. Azra pushed the canyons together, sealing off the crumbled city. Shadow jumpers scurried out of the ruins. Xavier fell to his knees. ‘Copia, our city, it’s gone forever.’”
Elder Meg’s fingers tapped below her collarbone. “What do you think happened next, Celeste?”
Celeste grinned. “I know this one. The medallion!”
“Yes.” Elder Meg smiled and leaned forward, pretending she had something hidden in her hand. “Azra handed the keeper a medallion. ‘This will unlock Copia. You must wait until the shadow jumpers are no longer present. Whatever you do; keep it hidden.’
“With a broken wing from the fall of Copia, Xavier was forced to stay in the forest around the canyon. He waited the remainder of his life to unlock the city. Shadow jumpers stalked him relentlessly, trying to snatch the medallion. In his final days, Xavier took a long journey. His destination was the
The land was flat and nothing obstructed the sun. High Valley
“In the middle of a moonless night, the elderly keeper of Copia went to sleep and never woke up. He did not make it to the
. The medallion lay
in the dirt of High
Valley , buried by the
elements of time. A young man, not from the realm was exploring and came across
the medallion. His virtue and intentions proved pure. Azra appointed him the
role of the guardian in Azra’s pith. His role was to protect the medallion and the
lost city and keep them from being discovered. Since then, the role has been
passed down; in each generation a new guardian is selected.” Elder Meg paused
and squeezed Celeste’s shoulder. “My dear, it is our responsibility to protect
the realm. Xavier spent his life keeping the Medallion out of the claws of
Evil. We must do what we can to ensure that it remains that way and that Copia
stays lost forever. She knelt down and stared intensely at Celeste. Copious
“Have you noticed a change in the élan?”
Celeste replied with an un assuming shrug.
“It is ever so slight; but it is present. It feels like the calm before the storm. We have reason to believe the medallion has been found. All we can do is hope it is in the right hands and that we locate it before the realm goes into chaos.”
“What, what do you mean by chaos?” Celeste scooted back into her seat.
“Don’t think for an instant that those shadow jumpers will ignore the medallion. They are drawn to it. If they get their claws on it, Copia and the evil locked inside will be freed.” Elder meg brushed Celeste’s hair over her shoulders. “This was a very important lesson.”
Celeste swallowed the lump in her throat, giving her Elder an acknowledging nod. “Okay, I understand.”
“Good…,” Elder Meg replied with a sweet grin. “That is all for today, dear. You are free to go.”
Celeste stood up and adjusted her red cloak. “So, the Medallion is still out there? Shouldn’t we try to find it? You know, to keep it safe.”
“Yes, but not you, flegling. The Copian Medallion is said to have strange powers.” Elder Meg packed up her things and affectionately pinched Celeste’s nose. “Who knows what could happen if such power ended up in the hands of a curious young Empyrean who seems to find trouble at the drop of a hat.”
Celeste smiled and fidgeted nervously.. Butterflies stirred in her belly, thinking about her discovery a while back after her encounter with the Rive.
She has managed to keep her possession of the medallion a secret, only sharing her find with one person. That person was John William; her friend from outside of the realm. He was still away; but a day did not escape Celeste with out the thought of his return. Each morning she woke up and wondered if that was the day he would arrive. In spite of the dangers, she intended to help him get to Copia and find his father. The Copian Medallion would most certainly be a significant part of their quest.
* * * *