Genesis Scrolls Round 3: {The Book of Enlightenment - Part I [REVISED]}

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“Wake up, Artemus,” a voice whispered.

Though unrecognizable, the voice was soft and soothing.

“Wake up.” The voice repeated, firmer.

Artemus struggled to open his eyes. He was tracking a pack of wolves ravaging the local cattle in Lunnon and hadn’t managed a good night’s rest. His eyes closed.

“Wake up!”

Artemus rose to his feet. His left hand came up to guard his face, and his right grasped the hunting knife holstered onto his belt. He dragged his right leg behind to support his weight. He then squatted into a fighting stance, prepared to fend off any rogue thief seeking to plunder his weapons and purse.

His hands fell, and his shoulders relaxed. Artemus was surprised to find that a deep, white mist surrounded him and tampered with his vision.

“What is this?”
“Wake up, Artemus.” The female voice repeated.

The mist surrounding him slowly receded and revealed a woman cloaked in pearl-white robes lined with gold. Her hood was pulled low. Only her pale cheeks and tight lips showed. She held a large silver key emitting a glimmering blue light.

“Who are you?”

The mist returned, engulfing him. The white haze blinded him.

“WAKE UP!” A manly voice screamed.

Artemus felt the grasp of two hands on his shoulders, aggressively shaking him back and forth. His body remained unmovable. He closed his eyes and clenched his jaw. The shaking stopped. Artemus blinked. His body was on the cabin floor. His best friend, Xedho, leaned over him with a concerned look.

“Are you alright, Arty?”
“The woman in the mist.” he groaned, sitting up quickly. “Where-”
“Woah! My wife’s herbs must be taking effect.”

He gestured for Artemus to lay back down.

“Take it easy. You’ve been sleeping for three days. You shouldn’t make any sudden movements. You’re still healing.”

Artemus noticed bandages wrapped around his arms and midsection.

“Those are fresh. I did them myself this morning. You’re lucky to be alive. How did you manage to kill an entire pack of wolves anyways? There must have been at least a dozen of them.”

Artemus furrowed his brows. He couldn’t remember ever finding the pack, let alone killing them and making it back to the village.

“You don’t have to answer that right now. You can tell me later over a drink. I could use your help rebuilding my old oven.”

The idea of a chore caused Artemus to cast a strange look at his childhood friend.

“You owe me for staining my floors,” Xedho winked.

“Uncle Arty! Uncle Arty! Tell me again about how you beat up all those wolves!” Pirrus jumped
on top of him and pretended to bite his neck, “Because I’m a wolf! Arrrrr!”

Artemus chased Pirrus around for a moment. He grabbed him and raised him to the ceiling. “Alright, that’s enough, little guy. It’s time for bed.”
“Wolves don’t sleep!” He wiggled around until Artemus let him down and ran to his room, “Awoooooooo!”
“No running in the house!” Xedho yelled from the kitchen, “Sorry about him. I’m not sure who raised him.”
“No, it’s okay,” Artemus got up from the table and walked outside.
Xedho returned with a tray of tea for them both but Artemus had gone, leaving the kitchen door wide open.

Artemus sat under his favorite tree, gazing at the moon and basking in its tranquility. He envied it, not for its light but because it worked alone. It didn’t concern itself with the opinions of others. Artemus spent most of his time in the mountains and woods around Lunnon, hunting and fishing. He liked it that way. A village can’t judge a man they do not see.

The air was remarkably still. Only the waves distantly crashed against the cliffs. The emptiness of the night made space for the thought demons to gnaw away at Artemus’ mind. It had been weeks since he dreamt of the lady in the mist. Although a dream, it was unlike any before. It was as vivid as the last time he saw his father. The part that puzzled Artemus the most wasn’t the woman, the mist, or the voice; it was the sense of imminent danger that hadn’t escaped him since that night.

Xedho joined him under the spruce tree, but Artemus kept staring up. Xedho handed his friend a cup of freshly-brewed tea and sat.
“How are you feeling?”
“I’m fine,” Artemus maintained his line of vision.
Xedho turned to him. Artemus had never had an amnesic episode, so he understood that the experience was taking quite a toll on him.

“Hey, I appreciate all of your help with the bakery. My family enjoys having you around, and with the new oven, we can make twice as many batches as before." Xedho gave a reluctant smile, “You haven’t tried your tea.”
“Do you ever get bored?” Artemus changed the subject.
“With the bakery. Don’t you think there’s more to life than just making bread?” he turned, staring directly into his eyes, “Why do you do it? For what purpose?”

Xedho was perplexed by Artemus’ odd behavior. He raised an eyebrow and smirked.
“I like the way it smells. I love the way it tastes. But most importantly, I love the face Pirrus makes when he bites into a fresh loaf.”

He put a hand on Artemus’ shoulder.
“What has gotten into you? You haven’t been yourself since that night.”
“I said I’m fine.”

Artemus slapped his hand away, spilling his tea onto the ground. He walked back to the cabin. Xedho lowered his head, speechless for the first time in a while. Suddenly a glowing orb flashed in the sky, bathing the village in golden light. Artemus and Xedho raised their arms to shield their eyes. It was just above the forest, north of the town, and wriggled like a worm in the sky.

“Divine’s sake, what is that?” Xedho exclaimed.

Unease grew in their guts. The orb quickly vanished. Artemus pulled his hunting knife from its sheath and began walking towards the woods where the strange phenomenon had occurred.

“Wait, you’re not going out there, are you? What if there’s some sort of monster out there?”

“I bet it bleeds.” Artemus continued walking.

His body pulled towards the source of light. He hoped it held the answers he was seeking.

Artemus wasn’t afraid of entering the woods at night. His father was a master hunter who taught him everything he knew from a young age. Most in Lunnon traveled in groups of ten to twelve men with their hounds and fancy horns. His father believed that a real hunter surrendered himself to the environment. The two spent many early mornings capturing fish with their bare hands. They donned wolf fur and crawled around stalking elks. “The Lunnon Lunatics,” the villagers called them, but they respected his father for his skill.

When he turned sixteen, strange men came searching for his father. They requested his help with an unusual hunting expedition. His father gifted him a hunting knife that Artemus carried around. He instructed him to watch over it until he returned.

Twelve winters had passed since that day.

Artemus searched for clues on what created the flash in the sky. He reached his section of several snares.
Traps are the tools of lesser men. His father loved to say.

Nothing was out of place for Artemus. His destination was near the western edge of the copper mines.

The Village Guard probably spotted something as well. They had an outpost near the entrance to the mines they used for training recruits. He was getting near because he had been moving for at least an hour.

Artemus noticed some felled beech trees near the gate. Beyond the pile, a possum dragged something in its mouth. The sound of twigs breaking scared it as he approached. It ran off. Artemus was unnerved by the abandoned meal.

The bloody severed arm was cut clean at the shoulder. He recognized the chainmail sleeve and thick green cloth as those of the village guard.

Artemus sprung towards the outpost. Lunnon’s Village Guard was a formidable group of men sworn to safeguard the people. He and Xedho joined the crew when they were eighteen, as was the requirement. The men were the toughest he had ever met, second only to his father. Whatever resulted in one of them losing a limb was lethal.

Artemus counted seven dead bodies scattered in front of the gate. Several had their guts spilling out. Some were decapitated. The eye sockets were smoldering black holes on the heads that remained.

Despite Artemus’ familiarity with the insides of living creatures, the mutilation shocked him to his core. An armless guard lay on the ground.

Dunstan. Artemus’ mind rang.

They played together as kids. Beside him was Virgil. The headless body was missing the same pinky finger that he had lost. Another was impaled into the wall with a flagpole. The long silver hair was unmistakenly Ivar’s, the leader of the Village Guard. He took Artemus under his wing after his father disappeared. Ivar was a ruthless leader who demanded excellence. However, beneath that was a kind soul. He deserved a nobler end.

Artemus collapsed to his knees and held back a violent wretch. He was as paralyzed by fear and helpless as he was in the dream.

A scream pierced through from the south.

What was someone doing here at this time? Could it be a trap? Perhaps the same group that attacked the Village Guard? Artemus wondered.


His jaw dropped, and his heart pounded in his chest. It was that woman. Despite his fear and uncertainty, Artemus’ legs ran toward the scream.

“I’m bored, Mordecai. Read me something from your book!” The young girl dropped to the ground with her arms crossed and lips pouted.

She stared intently at the old man sitting on a wooden cart with a large book clutched to his chest. She had conjured the cutest puppy-dog eyes.

Mordecai erupted in laughter.
“Oh, Felicity, this isn’t a book of stories. It is my Grimoire.”

“What’s a Grilwarg?” Her face morphed in perplexion.

Mordecai chuckled.
“A Grimoire is a book of magic. It’s filled with hundreds of spells and invocations.”
“Wow,” She laid belly down in the dirt with her chin resting on her hands, “Do you know them
“Of course! I’ve had a long time to practice.”
“Is that how you summoned the portal?” Felicity’s eyes widened.
“Not exactly, but that’s a bit too complicated for one so young. Perhaps in a few years…”

She slammed her fist and started kicking the ground, “I’m almost ten. Explain it to me now!”

Mordecai smiled. A group of ants walked towards a small leaf near Felicity’s face.

“Pick that up,” he pointed.
“This one?”

“Precisely,” Mordecai beamed with pride, “You see those ants? To them, that leaf vanished into thin air. We both know it did not. You lifted it to a plane that they simply could not see.”

“Ohhh,” Felicity pretended to understand for a moment.

“Does that make sense?” He tilted his head, surprised by her astuteness.

“Not really,” she paused for a moment and gave the leaf a closer look, “It’s pretty.”

They erupted in laughter. A gust of wind blew the leaf out of her hand.

“My portal!” She jumped up and ran after it.

As she reached out, her right foot caught on a rope pulling her high up into the air.
“Help!” she swung back and forth from a large branch.

Mordecai chuckled.
“Just hang in there, Felicity!”
“That’s not funny,” tears well up in her eyes, “It hurts!”
“Don’t cry, little one. I’ll get you down. A hunter laid these traps here. We must be close to a village.”

Leaves rustled, and twigs snapped in the distance. Mordecai’s face turned serious. Artemus jumped out through the trees, wide-eyed and panting with his hunting knife drawn.
“Who are you?” He demanded through labored breaths.
Mordecai gleamed, “Look at that, Felicity. We found a new friend to join us on our adventure.”

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