The End of Tortall A.K.A: A New World
Jonathon 6th of Conte wiped his face nervously on a handkerchief as he
surveyed the city before him. He turned to his chief minister, Duke Samul of
"Why is this happening?" his voice was tense, "Is it the Gods,
magic. . ." He paused, "Has anyone actually worked it out yet?"
Samul was nervous himself and thought carefully before answering,
"No, sire, but there is no trace of magic, and we have used Carrim
ember-stone and all the best mages to search for any signs."
Carrim had inherited the legendary ember-stone of Alanna the Lioness, which
had been given to her by the Great Mother Goddess, as she was her nearest
female descendant. When she held the stone, she could see any magic being
The King began to pace up and down the curved balcony, but soon
stopped, for he just broke out in a sweat again. Leaning against the smooth
rail, he longed for a cooling breeze to rid him of the burning heat.
Since the beginning of summer people had been speculating about the
sudden change in weather. The unpredictable spring had rapidly given away to
a scorching early summer, and at first, not many had complained. But the
heat grew steadily more and more intense. Jonathon had finally started an
investigation into it when several people fell ill in the palace from heat
exhaustion. He was still awaiting anxiously for any results which could
point them in the right direction.
Samul stretched tiredly, then announced, "It is too hot for me out
here sire, I need a rest."
They both trooped off down the stairs, only to be stopped in their
tracks by a flustered messenger. He nearly crashed right into them as he
hurtled up the staircase, but skidded to a halt just in time, and bowed to
each of them hurriedly.
"Sire, Nemere has news for you," he gasped, "she is waiting for you in the council room."
"Nemere, eh?" Jonathon thanked the messenger and hurried to the
council room with Samul scurrying after him.
* * * *
Nemere stood impatiently in the King's council room, refusing any
refreshments offered by busy servants. She sighed and leant against the wall
as two dishevelled men walked in. They looked rather sheepish as she
surveyed their scruffy appearances with her piercing gaze.
"A most impressive reception for the finest mage in Tortall, if I may say," she commented.
"Sorry, Numere," Jonathon gasped for breath, "nothing's quite right at the moment." He collapsed gratefully in to a chair, gesturing for the
others to sit down as well.
Numere smiled sympathetically, "I know what you mean, all the Bazir
with any sense have left the desert, the ones that haven't will soon, it's
like a furnace out there."
The King had finally got his breath back, "So, why are you here?"
"I was coming to that. Anyway, I have been travelling around quite a
bit recently, and the heat is even starting to affect the foothills right up
"That could become serious," Samul pointed out.
"Yes, but there have only been a couple of small avalanches as of
yet," the woman frowned, "What I really wanted to tell you was that I
suspect that this heat was not caused by magic."
Samul opened his mouth to speak, but Numere carried on, "I know, no one's found anything yet?"
"Yes, but why?"
"Look, this may sound strange, but I think that this heat is something to do with a giant volcano. . ."
Samul interrupted her suddenly, "Oh, Gods, no! Why would that happen?"
"What?" the King had not slept much recently, and had been dozing in
the stuffy room until Samul's exclamation.
"Wake up Jon!" He sat up.
"Numere believes that the heat is being caused by a giant volcano."
"A volcano?" the King jumped up suddenly, "Then stop all mages and
seers and soldiers! Call everything to a halt! They are all searching in
vain! Make them pray to the Gods instead!"
"Calm down, sire!" Numere gently pushed him back into the chair."We
still do not know the nature of this volcano, and when, where and how it
will erupt. It may not even erupt at all, or in the sea."
"No," Jon had turned pale, and his voice was weak, "it will."
"Jon, are you all right?" Numere asked anxiously.
He carried on as if he was in a trance, "I had a vision, last night, from the Goddess."
Numere and Samul glanced at each other, the king had never spoken of
having visions before.
"She showed me a flood of red hot rock, spreading under the ground.
The heat was terrible, and the ghostly silence of it,"He shuddered, "Then
she brought me above the ground, and showed me summer pastures, cattle,
sheep, farms. We came to the palace, and I could sense it, feel the evil
pressure building up below."He sat rigid, still ghostly pale.
"Jon, Jon?" Numere touched him lightly on the arm, and he jerked out
of his reverie instantly. Some colour returned to his cheeks, but Samul
could see that the King was tired, and helped him up from the chair.
"You should rest, sire," he nodded to Numere to stay in the room,
"Come, I will help you to your chambers."
* * * *
Samul was the Queen's cousin, so he was also one of her most trusted
ministers, for she helped the King rule the country. He knew she would be
worried about Jon, and already was.
Samul supported his friend and King as they travelled through the corridors.
He knew Jon well enough to sense that he was still uneasy about something,
for he was not his usual talkative self.
"Don't let it dwell on your mind, sire, forget it for the moment."
"I'll try, but if you had had that dream. . ."
"It's all right, look here we are, I'm sure Jolune will have a poem
for you," he chuckled, remembering the nonsense poem which the Queen had
written for him a couple of days ago, and knocked on the door.
"Come in," came Jolune's soft musical voice.
Samul opened the door and was not surprised to see her surrounded by
numerous pieces of paper, covered in her flowing curly writing. The Queen
was crouching down, sorting through the bottom drawer of a large chest of
drawers in which she kept all her work. She smiled at him as she
straightened up, yawned and stretched gracefully, like a cat.
"Gosh! Tidying out all this junk is tiring work," then she noticed
the pale-looking king, and her expression immediately turned to one of
concern. She swiftly helped him over to sit in a large, comfy armchair.
Samul perched on the edge of the desk, and explained to Jolune what
had happened, while she fetched Jon a glass of water, and used a little of
her own healing magic. Eventually the King fell asleep
When he finished, she thanked him, "It was a good idea to bring him
here to rest, thank you, Samul."
"I'll go, and leave him in peace. He's been working too much, I'd
let him sleep until evening, he could do with a rest," Samul cast his eyes
over Jon's tired features.
Jolune followed his gaze, and sighed, "He's overworking himself
really, it's this heat-he's up every hour of the day and night, trying to
find a solution."
"That's probably not a good topic to bring up until tomorrow, when
he's thoroughly slept on it."
"Yes. . . Oh! I forgot. ." she hastily ruffled through the mounds of
paper cascading from her desk. She eventually emerged from a small avalanche
with a small scrap clutched in one hand and handed it to Samul, "My latest
poem-I thought you might want to read it."
Samul smiled, she knew he liked her poetry, and always let him read
anything new she had written if she saw him. He chuckled as she stood
slightly nervously, twisting her hands, as she always did.
"I'll read it if you stop acting like a nervous ten-year-old!" She stopped
quickly, and put her hands by her sides.
The pen poised,
The paper ready,
The room is still,
Hand held steady.
The pen won't write,
But the writer,
Won't give up the fight.
Still the same,
Will not speak the name.
After a second's thought he said, "That's not your normal style."
"I know it's a bit strange."
"So, what inspired this one?" Samul handed her the poem.
"Well. . ."
He quickly took the paper back, before she twisted it in half.
"Stop torturing the poem and tell me!"
"Well, it was so hot, I couldn't think of anything to write about, so I
wrote about not being able to write anything-if you get what I mean."
Samul nodded, "Good idea," he repressed a yawn, "I think I'll go and get
some rest as well," he left the room, and Jolune continued tidying up the
mess of paper.