The place still resembled much of what it used to Ambrose thought; though, it had been a good number of years since he had been through its halls. It may have helped that the walls were carved from stone or that it had been abandoned since the battle had taken place there. It brought back memories and those memories were of mixed feelings. Joy and acceptance, mixed with anger and conflictions.
The cell like room he occupied was carved out of near black stone that chilled his fingers to the touch from the many years of being uninhabited. By the light of a fire, which was being fueled by the ever dwindling furniture that had once decorated the room, small chunks of rocks could be seen littering the ground. If Ambrose took a closer look, he could see the places were those pieces of stone had once fit into the wall. This was only a small bit of evidence of the battle that had caused those that lived there to leave.
Of course, this small room did not compare to the rest of the temple. In fact, the room was only one of multitudes that made up the temple. The underground temple was built into the side of a mountain range, the entrance cleverly hidden. Not many people would remember what the sanctuary had once been for, not many had known that it was there in the first place. But Ambrose remembered, he was one of the many who had lived there. Those days were long past though.
The room, in truth, was the very one that he had slept him well staying there. Ambrose sat in a cavity in the wall; it had once worked as a place for his bed. The hay mat that had served as a bed had long since degraded. It wasn't all that big, but for what he did, it was all he had needed. It had served as the perfect place to go when he needed to reflect on his actions and that of the world. Now, he used it as a place to stay until the person he waited for came.
The fire cast shadows on the gaunt face of the old man, his cheeks bone extremely prominent. Under heavy lids, hazel eyes sank deep into his skull. The beard on his face was the same white color as the shoulder length hair on his head. Long, boney fingers reached up and pushed a streak of his hair out of his eyes. Then the rubbed the thin bridge of his nose. He wore a cloak made from heavy material, it was meant for traveling, but it served as a good blanket during the long, cold nights.
He just sat staring at the fire in front of him. He watched as the leg of a chair blackened and became ash in the extreme heat. Ambrose reached down for another piece of furniture near his feet and threw it onto the fire. Sparks escaped into the air and floated down like the fire pixies that inhabited areas of the Unclaimed Lands. Out of impulse, his hand shot out and grabbed the spark like a frog's tongue catching a fly. The glowing speck burns the wrinkled skin of his hand, but it last no more than a second. The wild flame burned, unlike those that he had known.
Why did he sit among the ruins of a long since abandoned sanctuary? Because he was waiting for someone to share a tale with, his tale. He did not know who would come, only that they would. How did he know this? Because he had been given one last job and he had been told by the person who had asked him to do this last job. When would this person come? That day had come for Ambrose, or at least he hoped. He had awoken with a feeling of forthcoming. It was the only sign he had had in months, so he sat and prayed to Eisean.
He sat waiting and listening. He strained his ears; though, his hearing had not once wavered over the years. He had already been waiting hours, not moving, just listening. However, no one had made themselves present, or at least, to him. Had it just been a hope? He thought to himself. Of course not, he had told Ambrose that he would know when it was time. Ambrose felt like it was time, and he wanted to get it over with.
A loud clatter suddenly echoed in the stall air, but whoever had made it was still relatively far off. Ambrose realized he was holding his breath, he exhaled and breathed normally. He had been waiting so long… so many years. All that he had ever loved had passed, but he remained to finish one last duty. Today will be the day that I finally do what must be done, Ambrose thought. Another clatter came; he could almost imagine a foot kicking a stone across the floor of the same material. Soon he could hear the actual foot falls and not long after, the heavy breathing.
My eyes shifted to the darkened doorway of the room as a figure stepped into view. The dark figure hastily drew a short sword upon seeing Ambrose. The old man didn't flinch; he just looked at the figure and waited to see what they would do. Mechanically, Ambrose reached down and grabbed another piece of furniture and tossed it to be consumed by the fire. As the fire flared, Ambrose caught a glimpse of his visitor.
The individual that stood before Ambrose was a young man, he had probably seen at least twenty winters, likely a few more than that. His black hair nearly blended with the opaqueness behind him and his eyes were an icy blue. His muscular arms were connected to a pair of square, but not broad, shoulders. He stood as tall as Ambrose once had, back when the youth still existed in his bones. The man wore heavy leather armor, on it; Ambrose could just make the seal of the Kingdom of Cozeria, a dragon wielding a golden harp. Ambrose's gaze falls back on the sword in the young man's hands.
"You won't need that," Ambrose told the soldier with his cracked, yet firm voice. "Not much this old man can do against you." The leather clade figure was hesitant for a moment, but soon the sword was slipped back into its sheath.
"Who are you?" the man's voice was deep, but not a much as you would suspect from a soldier. It still held the remnants of youth.
"What you see before you," Ambrose answered, "an elderly old man making camp for the night. But if it is a name you seek, then it is Ambrose." The soldier watched him for a moment.
"Well met Ambrose, but don't you think it is early in the day for making camp?" he asked. "The sun has yet to reach the horizon."
"When you are as old as I am, my young friend, you learn to get ready early or find yourself in bad accommodations," Ambrose told him. He couldn't help but smile with amusement; he remembered when his elders used to say similar things. He never imagined that he would be using the same phrases in his life. "Come in. Tell me your name, for you have mine. A fair trade do you not think?"
Again the soldier seemed hesitant to comply with Ambrose's demands; though, Ambrose supposed he had the right to. He could see how it might be strange to stumble upon an old man in ruins long since forgotten. A foot appeared in the dim light of the fire and then his entire body as he entered the dinge room. His eyes roamed the dark walls, possibly searching for something interesting, or something he should be wary of, like a trap. He slowly bent down, his eyes flickering around the room, and warmed his hands. It was late-winter, the air still held a bit of frost in it.
"My name is Fionntán," he finally said looking up from the fire. Ambrose could not help himself and smiled. This young man was indeed the one he had been waiting for. "I know I may seem strange for me to ask this, but how did you know of this place?"
"It's part of history that has been long left untold, but not forgotten. To put it simply, the location of this place has been passed down through my family," Ambrose explained. It was not the complete truth, but the young man had to hear the story before Ambrose could tell the full truth. "However, it is my turn to ask of how you know of it? I assume you were stumbling near to the mountain's edge and discovered the entrance. Rare, but not unlikely to happen. There have been many stories of this place before. A traveler will stumble upon it by chance and tell the story, but it is never found twice by the same person and, like I said before, it is rare for someone to find it at all."
The soldier, Fionntán, did not answer immediately. Instead, he seemed to be inclined on watching the flickering flames. Ambrose could only wonder at what lies he was creating in his mind, he undeniably wasn't going to tell Ambrose the truth. The truth, on Ambrose's speculation, was that he just had a sudden urge to take a ride and an unrecognizable feeling lead him here. Of course, if Ambrose suggested this, Fionntán would become suspicious of him, so he would accept any lie that the soldier told him.
"I was traveling with a unit, but I needed to get away. When we set up camp, I slipped off. I didn't tell anyone I was leaving; it's punishable by death to abandon when you're in the service of the king," Fionntán explained, his eyes still glued to the fire. "To answer your question: Yes, I found this place's entrance when I was exploring the roots of the mountain."
"Well, I can't say I'm not surprised. Few people who ever do find this place, actually enter," Ambrose sighed, a frown appeared momentarily on his face. It was replaced quickly with a smile, which he directed at Fionntán. "But enough of that. You said you're part of a unit, and by the crest imprinted on your leather armor, it looks to be like one of the honor units of High King Esras. Who is your commander?"
"My commander is Grand Commander Nimbus," Fionntán relayed.
"Nimbus of the fief Formar?" Ambrose asked with a tone of surprise.
"It's just that I knew him when he was no older than a tot. He used to love hearing the stories I had to tell. Every time I'd finish a story, he'd run off and pretend he was some great hero I finished telling him about," Ambrose smiled as the fond memory came to mine, then he sighed. "That was, of course, before he had become he commanded a legion and defeated, in single combat, King Emlyn, ruler of the fief Mermar."
"Wait! You know Nimbus, personally?" Fionntán implored looking startled.
"Yes; though, it has been many years. I doubt I'd recognize him if he wasn't pointed out to me and he would, most certainly, not remember me," Ambrose chuckled. "Out of curiosity, what is your unit doing so far out here?" The soldier inspected him; Ambrose bet he was considering whether or not he was trust worthy.
"The High King has sent us to retrieve Runa." Ambrose shivered, the name belonged to a daemon woman, she had been alive longer than Ambrose and that was a long time to be alive. They, her and Ambrose, had some past dealings, back in a different age.
"What does he want her for?" Ambrose spat the word "her" maliciously.
Fionntán shrugged, "He has his reasons. Eisean knows if he tells anyone anything. Some of the other soldiers think he wants her to help him delve into the Unclaimed Lands."
"Every High King of Cozeria has been trying to do that since the reign of Orion," Ambrose said dismissively. "He thought the answer to ending the war between us and the daemons was in the Unclaimed Lands. He was wrong, of course, though it has been said he was more interested in the artifacts and other things that could be found in the cursed wilderness."
"But the war was won," Fionntán argued.
"Yes, but Orion had been murdered in his own bed months before the war's end. And, technically, the daemons and we humans decided to end it more diplomatically, so claiming that we "won" the war is an overstatement."
"It's still hard to believe. One man getting the two sides to compromise with one another. It's a shame not much was recorded about him. No one is even sure about his name," Fionntán commented.
"Nearly five hundred years have passed since that day, perhaps what had been recorded, was lost in a disastrous event?" Ambrose suggested; though, it was only given half-heartedly.
"Not likely, it's more like he didn't want anybody to know him, or remember him."
"Then I guess he failed," Ambrose said quietly. Fionntán raised an eyebrow.
"What are you saying?" he asked.
"I'm saying I know his story," Ambrose answered calmly. Fionntán stared at him for a few moments.
"Let me guess, another piece of history passed down through your family?"
"You could say that," Ambrose smiled at the soldier. "Would you like to hear it? It truly is a marvelous story." Watching Fionntán, Ambrose saw a distinct change in his mood. He had become tense and he wasn't looking at the old man anymore. He was scared, scared of what might happen if he didn't return to his unit in time.
"If you stay and hear me out, I shall accompany you to meet with Nimbus and explain why you were away," Ambrose promised. Fionntán's icy blue eyes came to rest on the old man again.
"Very well, what is this story?" he asked indifferently as his eyes turned back to the fire. Ambrose's eyes followed suit, almost as if the fire would bring back all the memories.
"Well, where does it start? I think… Yes, I remember. About five hundred years ago, in a small farming town by the name of Bedac, there was a boy of twelve and his name was Calatin. Now…"