by Zentara Shadowsoul
The next day I sat on the temple porch looking out across the overgrown market square, mulling over what I had learned that morning. The Pathways, or An Teroindyiz in the Harazan tongue, were, I had discovered, an ancient magic teleportation system. At least, that’s what I had gleaned from further discussion with Yasmina and Dazidra.
Hazana, the oldest of the trio and suffering from exertion after the previous day’s excitement, was absent. She had, apparently, taken to her bed as she often did. Quietly, Yasmina informed me that they didn’t expect her to live much longer.
“She is 162, and has been ill for several years. It is a miracle that she has survived so long. Knowing that the Seeker is found, she is satisfied and will die happy.”
I had nodded sympathetically. Already I had learned that Ferantu was exceptional. It was Anshiana-kuftir, they told me, who maintained his youth and life. She was, after all, the Life-Giver. And I learned, too, that Ferantu was restricted as to how far he travelled. His reason for not coming with me any further than he had was far more to do with him leaving the influence of Anshiana-kuftir than his dislike of the ruined town. At least, that is how Yasmina told it and I decided that she may well be right. Somehow I knew that he wouldn’t wish me to know the true reason, not wanting me to worry.
Dazidra, who was the only non-Shay priestess, being of Targ and Shay blood, believed that the Pathways still existed, somewhere, and could be returned to use if one discovered the secret. She showed me a book that was badly charred but was still readable in places. The few pages that were legible told of how the Pathways once linked places important to the Harazana, such as here, the Targ citadel of Tadhi Hallim, Perl Lake on the edge of Arlen Forest and The Tower of Knowledge. Although where that tower was and what knowledge it contained was a mystery.
The Bwekhirazii were responsible for much of the loss: it seemed that their founder Akhimialt had ordered the destruction of books, scrolls and anything to do with the Pathways in his fanatical obsession to sunder the connections between Targ and Shay. He had also had many Wise Ones, as well as those of mixed blood, slaughtered, and had forbidden Shay to communicate with Targ or even, at one point, to journey to An Reviniba. That last rule had been relaxed slightly once many of the merchants had departed and only a few of mixed blood remained. A small area of the town had been set aside for Shay alone and strictly guarded. It was there, I now knew, that Ferantu had been before he slipped past the guards and into the restricted zones.
Not that Yasmina or the others knew my grandfather personally. However, they knew of him for it seemed that he was the best well-known Renegade. The one who had challenged the Bwekhirazii head on. He had been fiery, in his youth, it was said. His disregard of the Code and the fanatics had been documented in songs written by the long-dead bard Zhian Youssi. Fragments of the lyrics of those songs had survived, telling of his escapades. Although none of the priestesses could recall the words they knew of the tales of him challenging the doctrine and the so-called priests. Yasmina was disdainful of that title. To her they were hateful upstarts, arrogant fanatics who twisted everything to suit their own righteous ends. I tended to agree with her.
All that, however, wasn’t going to help me find these Pathways. If what Dazidra had told me was correct, the Pathways could be an indicator of where the Shay had fled to. “Find the most important place of the Harazana,” she had said “and you’ll probably find the vanished Shay. For, we believe, it is there that they have gone. A secluded Place, the Place of Beginning, the Place where the first Harazana appeared, or made their own. In legend, it is known simply as An Unye Tegia – The First Place. It is known that the Bwekhirazii were searching for it. To them it was a sacred place, the ideal location, one from which all life sprung. So, if you need to discover the lost, that is where you need to go.”
So it seemed that all I needed to do to find the Shay, and my father, was to locate one of the ancient Pathways, work out how to activate them and discover An Unye Tegia. Simple!