Chapter 3

Given time, even the smallest drop of water can cut through a mountain. Size and power are not always kinsmen.

-Ancient of Days, Decree of the Divine, Fourth Scroll

In the northern ocean, along the coast of Ranis, Sindri Swiftblade darted alongside the boat carrying Ithiel, the last prophet of the Ancient. The small boat bobbed and bounced through the waves. Its triangular shaped hull and wedge body glided effortlessly, but too slow for Sindri’s taste. Messenger Class Anakim like Sindri, were known for their speed. The journey was nearing its end, after a week at sea. The boat and its passenger followed a winding path, to avoid detection by anyone, spirit or otherwise. People relied on larger vessels for shipments these days; the old lanes were virtually deserted.

As Sindri flew, he stabbed at the air, twirling and dodging imaginary attacks. He begged for years to be assigned an important mission. Now he would have his chance to show that he could do more than just fly fast to deliver messages. He smiled as he dispatched another pretend Fallen Anakim, congratulating himself for a job well done. Sindri stopped to adjust his satchel, a brown leather bag that hung across his shoulder, etched with his favorite saying from the Scrolls of the Divine. He tightened the strap and brushed curly brown hair out of his face. He had a boyish charm, and stature to match. He admired the honesty and playfulness of Gammadim children and adopted the look. White linen shirt and pants rippled in the ocean breeze as Sindri feigned battle moves once more.

Laughter erupted above Sindri. He rolled over, looking up for the origin of the disruption. Two large Fallen Anakim were flying above him. Their weapons ready, spirit brands glowing. It wasn’t the first time other spirits laughed at him. Very few Messengers loyal to the Ancient of Days explored duties outside of delivering messages. Their spirt brands cemented the fact that he was both outnumbered and outmatched.

“The disrespect is palpable,” Sindri said as he opened his palms and stretched out his hands, releasing his soul ember. Blue light pooled in each hand. Sindri forced the wild energy into a dagger, one in each hand. One was gold with a leather covered hilt, the other silver with mother of pearl. The small dot above his left eye began to glow as he exerted power. His spirit brand failed to impress the Fallen, who launched their attack.

One of the Fallen moved to intercept Ithiel in the boat. The other, covered in heavy dark cloth flew straight toward Sindri, his long slender sword leveled for a killing blow. Sindri parried the Fallen’s thrust with a dagger. He slipped behind his attacker and slit its throat with a swift stroke. The creature grabbed its neck, swinging wildly with his other arm. It was too late however. Burst of light poured out of the wound in its neck, then it burst into a cloud of lights. Sindri raced through the illuminated debris heading for the boat and Ithiel.

Sindri arrived at the boat just in time to protect Ithiel from an overhead swing from the Fallen. Surprise and anger danced on the Fallen’s face when his wooden staff hit two daggers instead of the prophet. His opponent wore tattered clothes, and the areas of skin exposed to the outside were crawling with maggots, open sores and a black liquid, illuminated by a glowing bar on his left cheek. A Fallen of the Life Class. Sindri smiled.

“What are you smiling about?” it asked.

“This is my first fight,” Sindri said.

“And your last,” the diseased creature said as he hefted his staff above his head.

Before the attack landed, Sindri dropped his chosen form in favor of his natural luminescent shapeless existence. He drilled into the Fallen, running straight through him, harnessing all of his soul ember’s fury. Another burst of light and a spray of sparkles floated on the wind. “Eww. I can taste that one. I thought he just looked disgusting!” Sindri said, panting as he reformed his body. He floated to the boat, ready for a rest. As he touched foot to the vessel, two more Fallen dropped out of the sky. Four dots on one, and a bar on the other, glowing. Sindri looked wide-eyed from one to another. Another pair of fourth and fifth rank spirits. “Gracious. Could you all give me a moment? I need to catch my breath!”

The Fallen produced their weapons, snarling at Sindri.

“I guess not.” Sindri sighed as he braced for an attack. Before the Fallen could move, a high pitch whistle sang through the air, and in a flash, the pair suffered a severing blow, both cut in half. Nadir floated above the boat, his broadsword blazing with power.

“Hey! This was my moment!” Sindri said reabsorbing his daggers, pointing an accusatory finger.

“Have a little more humility,” Nadir said as he moved to inspect the prophet.

“What?” Sindri said following. “I’m a Messenger. I ooze humility.”

Nadir raised an eyebrow.

“See. He’s okay. Sleeping through his seasickness,” Sindri said. “Why are you here?”

Nadir looked around, then reabsorbed his weapon as well. “Besides keeping you from becoming a spark, your soul ember floating above the waves?”

“Yeah, besides that. We were supposed to meet at Malak.”

“The Fallen attacked all of our strongholds at once,” Nadir said. “I found out too late that their target was Gethin. I rushed here to make sure Ithiel wasn’t next.”

“Did they manage to kill Gethin?” Sindri asked. “I know he wasn’t very happy when Ithiel delivered the message to him.

“His body and soul have been severed from one another. If something does not happen quickly, he will die. One of our sisters is tethering the two parts of him as we speak.”

“Maybe we should wake Ithiel,” Sindri said bending down next to the prophet. “He could entreat the Ancient.”

Nadir nodded. “Exactly what I was thinking.”

Sindri spirit-spoke to Ithiel, explaining the need and urgency. After speaking, he gave Ithiel a shove, forcing the man to wake up.

“You are needed,” Nadir spirit-spoke. “Servant of the Ancient of Days.”