The Praedian Records

J.G. Phoenix

Lydia’s Golden Treasury

The Chronicles of Proxima


A week had passed since Enya was abducted from her apartment and ransomed for the Emancipating Blade. Lydia came in person to exchange the ancient Draksy weapon for her safe return, but she hadn’t left the matter at that. On their way back to the Tenebrae Estate, Lydia retrieved the Emancipating Blade from Enya’s former captors using Agia, a unique and forbidden power. At first, Enya wasn’t sure how anyone important was going to find out about Lydia breaking international laws. Later, she learned there was far more to magic, and Agia in particular, than she had ever imagined.

“That’s everything?” Ishmael asked as Enya stepped out of her apartment for the last time. Not only did she have her own driver now, but also something of a bodyguard. He ensured her the arrangement was only temporary, but Enya felt it would be months before she could defend herself from the kind of attack she faced here.

“That’s everything,” Enya said, locking the door behind her. She held out the key in her palm for Ishmael. “Now I just have to hand this over.”

“Will you be alright?”

Enya nodded slightly. “Mhm. Once I’m stronger. Once I know I’m not a burden anymore.”

Ishamel smiled. “I know the feeling.”

“Before you started training?” Enya had learned a good deal more about Ishmael in the past couple of days; there wasn’t a doubt in her mind that he could protect her from just about anything. What she found most interesting about the man was his training under a spear master, a man from the same artif clan as Haul Lynx. The man’s training was said to be so difficult and dangerous that only a handful of people had ever come out on the other side. That spoke volumes about the humble staff wielder in front of her.

“Yeah. I had to be able to protect people, not just myself. It’s not enough knowing what’s coming; you have to be able to act.”

Enya wondered if Ishmael was alluding to his rare gift. There were certain individuals whose sense of magic was extremely ‘biased.’ That bias made them extraordinarily sensitive to the workings of that particular magic. Ishamel had a bias toward Agia, something only Lydia von Tenebrae and a few others could use. He could sense Agia whenever and seemingly wherever it was used it. What made Ishmael’s bias so rare was that the physical distance between him and the source didn’t seem to matter. People like him, as few as there were, were employed by various governments to keep track of the use of Agia, and enforce their laws regarding its usage. That was how they knew what Lydia had done, and that was why she was summoned to a hearing in Cordaea.

“I need to find the kind of training that’s right for me, too,” Enya said, “but first I have to get used to being a student here.”

“You’re going to have your hands full,” Ishmael said, “It’s not easy being one of Lydia’s people, not when everyone knows who you are. I think you’ll manage, though. She wouldn’t have come up with the idea if you couldn’t handle it.”

“Right,” Enya nodded, “I’m going to return the key, and then we can leave.”

“We’ll finish packing your things and head back when you’re ready.”

Enya smiled. Ishmael was acting as her bodyguard, but still trying to give her the space she needed to be comfortable. She appreciated the effort that must have taken after what happened. As much as she preferred things this way, Enya wouldn’t have blamed Ishmael or Heinrich if they went in the other direction, being far too protective and going with her everywhere. After being taken in the dark in what barely amounted to a struggle, she might have even welcomed it for a little while.

As she neared the office, passing her neighbors and workers along the way, Enya couldn’t help but think back to that awful night. The pounding on her front door, the truck idling in the parking lot, her own brief screams; it should have been obvious what was happening. Enya never found out what her neighbors were doing at the time. Afterward, she was so embarrassed she hoped that by some miracle they hadn’t heard anything. She hoped they didn’t know what happened to her. Their inaction would be a lot less painful to think about, then.

Some people seemed a lot more sheepish than usual, though.

Enya couldn’t shake the feeling some of them did know. The office certainly did. They heard it directly from her when she told them she was moving to the dorms at the university. The veritable landslide of apologies and well-wishing from the office staff was to be expected, and it didn’t make her feel any better about what happened. She was grateful that they cared, but she would have been even more grateful for someone actually moving to help her at the time.

Couldn’t someone have helped? Anyone?

Maybe, Enya mused. Maybe not. She tried to rise above her own troubles and take in a broader view. At least now everyone she worked with was aware of the danger and ready to respond. Her encounter with Nestor, Sabina, and their accomplices had been harrowing, but everyone was taking the lesson to heart. Enya had a feeling even her former neighbors, as well as the staff at the main office, were taking this to heart, too. There was some small comfort in that.

After turning in her key at the complex’s main office, Enya came up to the car to find Ishmael standing in front of the driver side door. The window was down and she thought she heard someone on the radio. Apparently Heinrich and Ishmael were both listening together. Enya didn’t say a word as she approached.

So, Ms. Tenebrae, you mean to tell us that, yet again, you broke the law, simply because it suited you at the time?

That is not what I said, Senator.

The name Tenebrae alone would have tipped her off, but Enya would recognize Lydia’s voice anywhere. She quietly hurried over.

“The hearing’s started,” Ishmael answered the unspoken question.

“Naturally,” Heinrich smirked, “Cordaea is spearheading the whole thing.”

“And I’ll bet they’re still bitter about the loss of that monster, Berko.”

Enya winced. From what she knew of the Roburo Incident back in 977, Senator Berko came to Idolus trying to enact some grandiose scheme and was struck down by one of Haul Lynx’s personal guards. Haul was currently leading Idolus, so there was no love lost between them and the Cordaeans. That was the last time Lydia had broken the rules regarding Agia. The last time, she was in no condition to answer for it. It was just as well as far as Enya was concerned. Using every tool available was necessary when defending yourself and your people. She was becoming more convicted of it by the day.

Indeed, we should care little what you tell us and instead focus on your actions, Ms. Tenebrae. Let’s go over the facts, shall we?

Enya really didn’t care for the man’s tone. He couldn’t be talking further down at Lydia if he tried. What was the purpose of this hearing anyway? No one told her what the consequences for using Agia were, and knowing Lydia had good reasons for what she did, Enya hadn’t thought to ask. She just assumed an explanation of what happened would see this whole matter resolved and the Duchess left alone. She was starting to suspect that enough people had it out for her that they would make as much noise about this as they could.

After the assailants contacted your people, you prepared the Draksy artifact and went out to meet them. Once there, you exchanged the artifact for the hostage. Is this all correct so far, Ms. Tenebrae?

It is.

Well I’m glad to see you’re still in agreement with your own written statements here.

Enya’s brow twitched. The nerve of this man.

Ishmael smirked at her. “Trust me, most of his constituents are as enamored with Senator Garret as you are.”

“That’s … good,” Enya hesitated. She hoped she caught Ishmael’s meaning.

Now do note that at this point in your testimony, the details become rather vague, Ms. Tenebrae. All you’ve divulged to us is that you–feeling you were well and truly beyond reprisal–used Agia to retrieve the artifact from the assailants. Pray tell us what prompted such a complete and utter disregard for the Wahrhafen Accords?

There were several lines of reasoning that ‘prompted’ that decision, but one that weighed heavily on my mind was the knowledge that the Emancipator would be used by the Draksy in yet another-

Please, Ms. Tenebrae. Do try to focus. The Draksy Empire is not the subject of this hearing. I am asking why you breached the Accords, not your opinion of a particular group of peoples nor your fanciful interpretation of their proclivities.

Then I’ll answer this another way, Senator. The Emancipator is extremely powerful. While I had the people and the resources to try and retrieve it, there were serious risks involved. Time was another concern. It wouldn’t be long before the Emancipator was delivered to a certain individual in a certain nation. I chose to retrieve it using the safest method available, and at the moment the assailants would be the least prepared to stop me.

So you decided that going through the proper channels, or even attempting something with your own resources was simply too inconvenient for you. Better to be in breach of the Wahrhafen Accords than to weather the storm. Interesting, Ms. Tenebrae. Very interesting.

It was all because of Agia, but Senator Garret was being too simplistic about it. It wasn’t something Lydia just happened to gain in that moment. She possessed it her entire life, knew how to use it; her thoughts and opinions were heavily influenced by it. It happened quickly, extremely quickly, but Enya knew there was more to this now. Senator Garret was wrong. This was not about convenience at all.

Enya remembered the moment Lydia summoned the Emancipating Blade back to her side and she remembered it with stark clarity. At the time, the duchess had been visibly struggling, looking for closure. Lydia’s retelling seemed far more reasonable and not at all whimsical like the senator was implying. Enya could admit that there might be some rationalization happening after the fact, but even back then Lydia had clearly been thinking about this. She admitted straight away that she could try to retrieve the blade soon. Enya didn’t realize just how soon until the mana began to churn, but she had been warned.

“She warned me,” Enya grimaced.

“Yeah,” Ishmael nodded.

In the end, it was Enya’s own promise that finally pushed Lydia to action. Even if she had it all figured out, and was simply teetering back and forth on whether or not to act then and there, Enya knew she had a large hand in this. That was why she had to be here to support Lydia when she came back.

“You did, too,” Enya said, remembering Ishmael’s reaction.

Ishamel shrugged helplessly. “No warning prepares you for the real thing, does it? Don’t worry. Lydia will be fine.”

I would say this is the storm, Senator, but that would be giving you far too much credit.

That right there- Enya flinched at the sudden jump in Garret’s tone, -is the problem, Ms. Tenebrae. You think we’re all paper tigers, here to take your statement and then slap you on the wrist before sending you on your merry way, ill-gotten goods in hand. We are not. The Wahrhafen Accords exist to protect us all from the wanton abuse of Agia. You weren’t defending Idolus, nor were you incapacitated during your flagrant attempt to flaunt your powers. Rest assured, Ms. Tenebrae, there will be real consequences this time.

I’m aware, but know that I’ll no more tolerate Cordaea stealing the Emancipator from me than the Draksy. I’ll do whatever is necessary to keep the blade out of your warmongering hands.

Enya didn’t expect Lydia’s fangs to come out, but even with such a delicate situation as this, Senator Garret deserved to be bitten back at least once.

We’ll see if you can’t be humbled this time, or if you’ll remain arrogant to the last.

“What are they going to do?” Enya asked, her eyes darting between Heinrich and Ishmael.

“The punishment for breaking the Accords isn’t set in stone,” Ishmael noted, “so it mostly comes down to whatever the countries enforcing it can all agree on.”

“Everyone knows Lydia wouldn’t be affected by a fine,” Heinrich said, “She’s too wealthy for anything reasonable to get his point across, so they’ll try to punish her in some other way.”

“That’s not fair,” Enya winced.

“Things had to be left open and flexible,” Ishmael shrugged, though he agreed with Enya, “Senator Garret said the Accords were about protecting people from Agians abusing their power, but it’s more complicated than that. Agia is something Lydia can train to become stronger with; the Accords make sure she and the others can never become as strong as Arkady and Vaska were. That’s why the punishment has to be tailored. So they can’t just shrug it off.”

“That’s really not fair.” Only a few minutes into the hearing, and Enya was already fed up with politics.

I’m calling a ten minute recess. Let’s take some time to cool our heads Ladies and Gentlemen.

Enya didn’t know who was speaking now, but he seemed to be in a somewhat higher position of authority than Senator Garret. It was comforting that he sounded calm, but she doubted he was on Lydia’s side. She doubted anyone in Cordaea was.

“Speaker Carlson,” Ishmael said, “He’s heading up the hearing. I don’t know much about him but that’s probably a good thing.”

“No news is good news?” Heinrich asked.

“Something like that.”

“I can’t stand this,” Enya sighed, “Lydia did the right thing. The Emancipator is hers and she got it back without hurting anyone. I know there are rules but why can’t there be exceptions?”

“There are exceptions,” Heinrich noted, “but only for certain people. Rest assured if the military comes calling, the local Agian will get a swift pass. We should have been on the road by now, though. Shall we?”

Enya listened to the rest of Lydia’s hearing on the way to Roburo University, but the proceedings went in an unexpected direction. Lydia didn’t  have an opportunity to speak again after the recess, as Speaker Carlson opted to put an end to questioning for the day. Someone seemed to think everyone’s time was better spent going over precedent and other related matters instead. After a while, it started to feel like she was listening to a sentencing and not a hearing.

While she was still curious about Lydia’s situation, Enya was able to learn more about the Agians in general during the drive. Ishmael answered the spoken and unspoken questions alike, helping her piece it all together. By the time they arrived at their destination, Enya had decided that one of the most important things she should do during her time at Roburo was to throw herself into world history. It would not only help her with her work in the Golden Treasury, but also fill in years upon years of missing knowledge.

“We’re back,” Enya sighed with relief as Heinrich let her out of the car.

“Home at last,” Ishmael said.

Roburo University. So many came to Idolus for the express purpose of sending their children here or attending themselves. While outwardly similar to most colleges in the region, the leaders of Idolus had toiled for years to break from tradition and create a new kind of institution, one capable of competing with all of the others on a global stage. Lydia Tenebrae, and other prominent figures in the fledgling nation had long envisioned Roburo University as a beacon of light for the rest of the world. Through the renewed and galvanized Roburo University, Lydia in particular was aspiring to create a community of visionaries and innovators. She saw the world slowly receding into darkness, slowly being overwhelmed by malevan monstrosities, and little by little becoming blind to it all. From here, from the beating heart of Idolus, Lydia’s plan to set the world free was rapidly unfolding.

Morning classes had already started by the time they arrived. Fortunately for Enya, she didn’t have to be in attendance until the following week. She had the time she needed to get settled in and choose which courses she wanted to take, and far fewer distractions than she expected coming here. All that would change later in the day.

“I’ll help with the luggage before I head out,” Heinrich said, making his way to the trunk of his car.

“Thanks, Heinrich.” Things between Enya and Heinrich were much more casual now; Heinrich hadn’t given her much leeway on that front, but Enya didn’t mind. “Where are you going after we finish?”

“I’ll be visiting my mechanic. Even when the car doesn’t need any work, he’s a good friend and I like to lend him a hand in my off hours.”

“That’s awfully nice of you,” Enya said, completely blank faced. She didn’t expect Heinrich to be working even in his off time, much less smiling about it. She supposed some people were just like that. Considering he worked for Lydia Tenebrae, it wasn’t a complete shock. Her people were a diverse bunch, but every one of them were incredibly motivated.

“It’s quite fun sometimes.”

“He just loves tinkering,” Ishmael said.

“And you?” Enya asked.

“Your turn,” Heinrich said with an expectant grin.

Ishmael shrugged at them both. “If I find the time I’ll try to take care of a few things I’ve been putting off. I’m still playing bodyguard, though.”

That was a little vague, but Enya decided not to pry.

“I’ll try not to stand out too much.”

Enya glanced at the staff Ishmael kept on his back. Even without it, Ishmael had a presence that was hard to describe. A warrior’s aura, maybe. On top of his staff and the way he carried himself, Ishmael’s beige complexion marked him as a foreigner among foreigners. “Wait.” A staff? “Do they let you carry that here?”

“It’s a spear actually, but yeah, I can keep it with me. I’m technically a mage, so I can carry anything related to my craft as long as I don’t cause trouble.”

“The rule is primarily for mages,” Heinrich added, “but anyone can keep a trinket or two on them if they can justify it. You’ll definitely be seeing orbitals around.”

Enya did recall seeing a few people with strange devices when she came to apply for Lydia’s job posting, but she hadn’t thought much of it. She never realized the students had that much freedom. Enya didn’t know whether to be nervous about who or what she might bump into here, or excited; if Ishmael could carry around a ‘spear’, what could she take with her?

Enya was just about to pick up her share of the luggage when she saw a lone man making his way toward the main building. The strange visitor looked a little too old to be a student, but he was definitely young. He couldn’t have been more than ten years Enya’s senior, she was certain of it. What she was even more certain of was that he wasn’t here for anything good. His eyes could only be described as predatory, darting every which way and sparing Enya a glance only long enough for them both to realize she wasn’t who he was looking for. Everyone stopped what they were doing and watched the man carefully as he went inside.

“I know that look,” Enya winced. She couldn’t help but remember Nestor and his adamant gaze.

“I do, too,” Ishmael said, “That’s a man on a mission. He’s not going to let anyone or anything get in his way.”

“Let’s stay out of his way, then,” Enya said.

Heinrich only stayed until Enya’s things were inside her dorm room. He bid them farewell after that and left. Ishmael stayed, looking content to stand near the open door for a time. Eventually, someone down the hallway caught his eye. When Ishmael saw the figure approaching, he leaped farther inside and just out of view. “Oh no,” he quietly groaned.

“What’s wrong?” Enya asked. She just hoped there wasn’t something wrong with the door. She liked her privacy.

“You!” A young woman suddenly leaned into the room, holding the door frame for support. Her hair was a deep scarlet color and fell in long overlapping waves over a maroon and black dress. Despite her tone, she didn’t look especially upset with Ishmael. “You had better have a good excuse for being in the women’s dormitory right now.”

“Well, I do,” Ishmael said honestly, “but for Enya’s sake I won’t go into the details. Just think of me as a tour guide.”

The woman stepped away from the door as Enya and Ishmael came slightly closer. That was when Enya noticed she had a large bag hanging over her shoulder. The strap was taut and looked almost painfully thin for the bag. “I’m sure she’s already been given the tour. Still, looking after the new student sounds admirable enough. Ordinarily I’d be suspicious, but considering it’s one of the Triumvirate, I’ll take you at your word, Ishmael.”

“The triumvirate?” Enya knew what a triumvirate was, or rather what it could be, but somehow the description didn’t fit Ishmael based on what she knew.

“It’s,” Ishmael took a moment to come up with an explanation he could bear, but the scarlet haired woman already had one of her own. “That is the moniker the instructors here have given him and two other students attending here. You can be sure that whenever those three are together, something positively uncanny is about to happen.”

“… yeah, that,” Ishmael conceded. He made a gesture at the woman, inviting her into the room. “No point in just standing out there, right?”

“You said her name was Enya? Olivia Somma Proxima. A pleasure to meet you.”

Enya’s eyes suddenly went wide, taking Ishmael and Olivia both by surprise. “Proxima? You mean Clan Proxima?”

Olivia folded her arms. “That’s more excitement than I expected. Are you from Clese by any chance?”

“Libero,” Enya answered, unable to contain the rush of excitement. There were mixed opinions of Clan Proxima, both in Clese and abroad, but nobility was nobility. Proxima in particular was a venerable clan, easily able to trace their origins back nearly fifteen hundred years. Enya had never met anyone from the clan in person, but she knew that several had visited Libero Chapel over the years.

“Libero is a small out of the way place,” Olivia said thoughtfully, “You came quite a long way to study at Roburo, though that’s a common tale nowadays.”

“Well,” Ishmael chimed in, “I’m glad you found someone else from Clese here. It was bound to happen but I wasn’t expecting it to be the next person we ran into.”

“Me neither,” Enya agreed. It was all for the better, though.

“On that note,” Ishmael seemed to get an idea, “Olivia, can I ask you for a favor?”

“Oh dear, what is it, Ishmael?”

“Nothing major,” Ishmael held out his hands defensively, “I figured since you and Enya have a lot to talk about, you could give her another tour and I could go take care of a few things. That would also get me out of the women’s dorm, if that’s still bothering you.”

“You were leaving regardless,” Olivia smirked, “but I like that idea. What do you think, Enya?”

“That sounds great.”

“Then I’ll wait for you outside.”

Enya only needed a few more minutes to unpack. Olivia waited until Ishmael was on his way and Enya had locked the door to her new room. “Enya, could I trouble you for your family name? There’s something I want to confirm.”

“Hm? My family name is Ward.”

“Enya Ward.” Olivia grimaced at the name. “I thought so.”

Enya began to worry. That was far from the reaction she was expecting for just giving out her name.

“It’s not widespread just yet, but some sources have the full name of the woman those Draksy abducted last week. That name is Enya Ward.”

Was she going to become famous over this? Enya supposed that was always a possibility, considering who she worked for. She looked away from Olivia, not sure what to say at first.

Olivia’s gaze meanwhile, followed the long hallway Ishmael had left by. Empty. They were still alone. “That explains Ishmael. If you work for Duchess Tenebrae, then it’s only natural he would be watching over you after a fiasco like that.”

“That whole experience was like a nightmare,” Enya sighed, “I’m going to train as hard as I can so I’m never a burden to Lydia again.”

“An admirable idea,” Olivia nodded approvingly, “but you’ll need commitment to make it a reality. I don’t want to trouble you over this anymore. On with the tour? Your second tour.” She could only laugh at the idea now.

“Yes, let’s go,” Enya said. She was starting to feel silly about Ishmael’s suggestion, too. If nothing else, it was an excuse to chat. She just hoped that one of them could come up with something less stressful than Enya’s encounter with the Draksy.

Olivia brought Enya all around Roburo University, while their outing was being treated like a tour, there wasn’t any structure to their route. The only thing distracting Enya from it was her own questions. Olivia was able to answer all of them, from the best places to eat or relax, to the most and least friendly cliques that she should embrace and avoid, respectively. It was around the time they passed by the men’s dormitory, where Ishmael was, that Enya learned that there was no rule against the men visiting the women’s dormitory or the women visiting the men’s. Olivia admitted that they simply weren’t supposed to loiter, and that she preferred to remind them when she got the chance. Even an exemplary student like Ishmael got the same treatment from her.

As fun as this second tour was, Enya felt like Olivia was taking great pains to avoid running into anyone else. It was one thing to not interrupt a class or two. It was something else entirely to be taking such long and winding routes through the main building, as well as making sharp turns whenever someone appeared at the far end of a hallway. They couldn’t always avoid every single person, but Olivia seemed less tense once the odd student or teacher was behind them. She saved the main library for last, making it their last stop just like she promised.

“Since neither of us have classes today, why don’t we spend some time here? Truth be told, there’s something important I need to do while we’re here.”

“Important? Are you studying for a test or something?”

“Not quite,” Olivia said, visibly struggling to think of an answer. “Wait here for a moment. I know where the materials I need are kept.”

Enya waited while Olivia disappeared deeper into the library. She eventually took a seat at a study table. There were so few people scattered around the library that Enya barely noticed them. “I wonder what she needs to do if she’s not studying for a test.”

After a few minutes, Olivia returned. Enya was stunned to see her carrying not only her own bag and the books therein, but also new ones stacked perilously high over her head. Olivia was being careful not to let the tower of literature tumble over as she made her way toward the study table, but Enya wasn’t going to just sit there and hope for the best.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were bringing so many books back? I could have helped.”

“A small flaw of mine, I’ll admit,” Olivia smiled as Enya took half of the books, “This work is for myself and my future. I can’t bring myself to impose something like that on others. It drives people mad sometimes, I know.”

“What do you need all of these books for? You said you weren’t studying for a test.”

Olivia held off on the details until all of the books were off their hands and on the table. She removed the books from her bag, as well. One of those books was larger and had a more elaborate trim than the others.

“I love knowledge. I love gathering and compiling it, especially.” Olivia reached over to pull the largest book closer. “I’m studying the conceptual magic this book is encased in. Someday I’ll understand it well enough to replicate it.”

“The Chronicles of Clan Proxima,” Enya read the book’s title, “15th volume.” It couldn’t be a coincidence that Olivia brought a book with her by that name. “This book is about your clan.”

“Indeed it is. For over one thousand years Clan Proxima’s history has been dutifully preserved in the chronicles. It’s one of few surviving examples of an autonomous chronicle. That’s why I’m using the time I have right now to study this small portion of it. All of this,” Olivia gestured at the other books on the table, “is just my reference materials.”

“I’ve never heard of an autonomous chronicle before.”

“An autonomous chronicle is a system that records events and compiles them without any outside input. Think of it as a complex series of spells forming an unbiased, immortal record keeper.”

Enya felt she was beginning to understand, a little. “So you want to make one for yourself.”

“That and much, much more. Imagine it, Enya,” Olivia let out a longing sigh, “imagine the truth recorded for all time. No bias, no twisting of events to suit one’s reputation or agenda. It’s not that simple, of course. The system needs its own reference to begin with. A person, or author to base itself on. That represents a crucial flaw, one that not only makes it difficult to establish in the first place, but one that also makes it vulnerable to more subjectivity and bias than even I care to admit.”

It certainly sounded great, but as Olivia was quick to admit, it wasn’t that simple. Enya hoped Olivia would find a way around that problem during her studies. As always, however, most concepts regarding magic and its use went well over her head. Enya couldn’t let the situation stay like this forever. She had to learn to defend herself, and studying to become a mage was the surest path for someone like her.

“Since you work for the Duchess, it should be fine for me to show you this. Have a look here, Enya.” Olivia opened the 15th volume to an arbitrary page toward the end. She brought Enya’s attention to the upper left corner of the page where the date of the following passages was written. “See anything interesting?”

Enya nodded. This wasn’t written like any history book she had ever seen before.

“1st of Tepis, Olivia Somma,” Enya read the top of one passage aloud, surprised to see Olivia’s name there. This must have been a very recent portion of the chronicles. “Ever endeavoring to-oh wait!” Enya quickly pulled away from the book. “It’s going into something personal, isn’t it? I shouldn’t be reading this.”

Olivia stared blankly at her for a moment, then she let out a small chuckle. “Hilarious. I’ve become so used to my life being an open book for some that it never even occurred to me. You are right, of course.”

“I’m sorry,” Enya bowed her head, wishing she caught herself sooner. There was something off about what she saw, though.

“There’s no need to apologize, and I appreciate your restraint, besides. So, there you have it. There was only ever one chronicler and he passed, oh some eleven hundred years ago. The autonomous chronicle our clan used took generations to perfect, but we met our goal toward the end of the chronicler’s life. Our history has been accurately recorded ever since. So long as we exist, and so long as we help maintain the system, that won’t change.”

“How does it work?”

“The system was designed to monitor the chronicler as he wrote, eventually compiling together his voice–his method of writing, so to speak. It can take years of passive monitoring to fully comprehend something as malleable as a man’s style of writing. It takes far longer to imprint his mind’s eye, but eventually, the chronicler found that everything he intended to write for that week had found its own way to parchment without him. He couldn’t bring himself to change even one word of it, and from that day forward, the chronicler’s quill served our clan in other ways.”

“So it copies the chronicler’s style? And what about the language?” Enya was surprised that the pages she saw were written in Laytier. That wasn’t a common language a millennium ago. Since Clan Proxima originated largely in Clese, she would have expected at least some of the volumes to be in Archesian or Cotole.

“The language is whatever it needs to be,” Olivia said, though after being so thorough with her previous answers, she seemed to regret the simplicity of this one. “Put another way … Enya, how many languages can you read?”

“Three,” Enya said, after considering whether her pitiful grasp of Archesian counted or not.

“I don’t know how the words are appearing to you now. For me, they’re Archesian. I want you to start thinking in another language and then look again.”

Enya knew where this was going. She was becoming more and more familiar with old magic and how ‘adaptive’ it could be. The Armor of the Unburdened looked like something only a tall and stout man could wear, but once Enya started putting on the individual pieces, the entire set of armor shrank down to accommodate her smaller, lithe build. The Atoning Mirror got into Enya’s head and showed her what was there, while also doing the same for Pharez. The Emancipating Blade wasn’t concerned with boundaries of the blood at all, and simply acted as a bridge between the wielder and one or more of the Fundamental sources of power. It was no surprise at all that the Chronicles of Proxima could translate itself for any given reader.

Enya felt she already had her answer, but she followed Olivia’s instructions. Archesian wasn’t the most comfortable language to be thinking in, not with so many gaping holes and boundless chasms in her vocabulary, but she was curious. Would the pages look different to her? She leaned in for a closer look. While the words appeared to still be in Laytier, than began to distort slightly. Enya blinked and tried to focus on the Archesian language and the various words she knew. The words seemed to flicker on the page, as if they were just illusions barely keeping themselves together. Enya blinked again. The words flickered again.

Maybe Archesian wasn’t the best choice?

“Think of a phrase you’re comfortable with and repeat it in your mind,” Olivia suggested. She could tell Enya was struggling.

Enya closed her eyes and imagined the phrase, ‘We stand as one,’ in the Archesian language. She repeated it several times, and continued to do so as she opened her eyes. For a moment, Enya thought she’d failed again. The words of the 15th volume were still in Laytier, but only for a split second. Enya didn’t even have time to react to her supposed failure before the words became completely distorted. She was still repeating the Archesian phrase in her mind; that seemed to be driving the distortion. A moment later, the words reassembled themselves into Archesian right in front of her.

Enya’s brow furrowed as she looked over the page. While each section was well ordered and neatly summarized, everything Enya tried, and admittedly struggled to read, was about Olivia. She had been under the impression that the Chronicles of Proxima was about the clan as a whole. Even if it was a magical journal, it should have been one shared by hundreds of people, but recorded by a single author.

“I can’t even read half of this now,” Enya said half jokingly.

The words flicked again and quickly morphed back into Laytier. Enya almost missed it as Olivia burst into a fit of laughter.

“So the language really is whatever it needs to be,” Enya concluded. She had another question for Olivia, but felt nervous asking about what she read.

“Indeed. Though it won’t work for just anyone. The Chronicles recognize you due to your ties to the Duchess. If not for that, there would be no words for you to read in the first place.”

Enya cocked her head, questioning Olivia.

“It would have been utterly insane to lay out our long and winding history for just anyone to read at their leisure. The chronicles have recorded both our triumphs and our failures, both our virtuous deeds and our sickening crimes. Steps were taken to ensure only certain parties can study it all.”

“And Lydia is one of those parties?”

“Duchess Lydia von Tenebrae and her people were a more recent addition. We have a special arrangement with her.”

It took a few minutes for Olivia to go over with her, and Enya was shocked to learn that the 15th volume of the Chronicles of Proxima was part of the Golden Treasury. There were sixteen volumes making up the Chronicles at the moment. The 16th was blank, waiting for the 15th to be completed. Each time the latest volume neared completion, a new one was made. While Clan Proxima still possessed the first thirteen volumes, volumes 14 and 15 were in Lydia’s possession. Like a person checking out a book from a library, Olivia was borrowing this portion of the 15th volume temporarily. She had several days to study it before she was expected to return it. At first, Enya felt this special arrangement wasn’t the best idea. This was different from the Emancipator. Clan Proxima’s history was theirs, so why was the latest volume of that history a part of the Golden Treasury?

“One reason: for our protection,” Olivia answered, “Today there are spells and even special tools for peering through the veil of the magic we used. That old security measure is ineffective. Proxima has atoned for many things, but every day foolish relatives who don’t know any better, or simply don’t care, are galivanting around, falling into crime and vice, adding page upon page of humiliation to the record.”

Enya frowned. She was still trying to understand, but she could already tell why Olivia wouldn’t like what some of her relatives were doing.

“In one hundred years, this won’t matter,” Olivia shrugged, “Until then, our leaders felt it would be best to add a new layer of security to the Chronicles. The Duchess agreed to let us use the Golden Treasury to house our more recent history, until they can be … put into the proper context.”

Olivia looked ashamed to say that. It took Enya a moment to realize why. “Your clan doesn’t like what some of its members are doing, does it? So they’re covering it up.”

“We made a crucial mistake in constructing the autonomous chronicler,” Olivia sighed heavily, “Who is and who is not a member of Clan Proxima was considered, but that was ages ago, back when we were trying to expand and grow larger. The system has been operating on the same old standard for one thousand years. It doesn’t matter if someone throws their hands up in the air and denounces us, or heaps a mountain of embarrassing refuse on our heads. The chronicler doesn’t care who we think is a legitimate member of the clan. It’s simply recording all of our actions.

“We’ve been looking for ways to amend the system, permanently, but politics and other distractions have some of our best people distracted. I’m one of the few left with the freedom and the knowledge to search for a solution. I will find one. It’s only a matter of time, but for now the Golden Treasury stands between Clan Proxima and those who would exploit our association with criminals and other riffraff.”

Enya imagined how her family would react to being associated with criminals, petty or otherwise. It wasn’t long before she was thinking about Nestor and her abduction. There were other ways to become famous, she remembered. How would they feel when they learned she was taken? It was brief, but it was still a near brush with death.

“To be a part of Clan Proxima is to be honorable, diligent, bold, always forward looking, perhaps to a fault,” Olivia mused aloud.

Olivia was veering off into the unknown, but she left a small inspiration for Enya. She knew so much about the chronicles now, there was a familiar thought pleading with her.

“I’ve been rambling, haven’t I? And to think, I came here to study.”

Still the thought was pleading with Enya. She wondered if it was the same thing that was bothering Lydia just before she used Agia to retrieve the Emancipating Blade. She decided to humor her own playful little thought, even if she would feel embarrassed afterward.

“For one thousand years it has filled countless pages, forged by Proxima’s most diligent mages …” Enya sang experimentally. The rhyme worked, but she had a long way to go before she had a proper song.

“What was that? Enya, are you singing?”

“I was just trying to see if I could come up with a song for this,” Enya said nervously. She appreciated the effort Lydia put into her song even more now. Irving might be able to think up lyrics on the spot, but Enya couldn’t. She didn’t have nearly enough artif blood in her veins to pull off that kind of feat.

“A song? Interesting. Do the keepers in the Treasury sing about every artifact?” Olivia looked genuinely curious about it.

Enya tried not to laugh. “No. Only some of them.” Only the ones she was personally involved with. Maybe someday, she thought, but for right now it was merely something that Irving had started, and Enya encouraged.

“So the Chronicles of Clan Proxima are ‘worthy of song,’ are they? I like that,” Olivia smiled.

“I want Irving to hear it, so maybe I should try to think of one later,” Enya said.

“Hold on,” Olivia held up a finger, “I insist on being a part of this.”

Enya didn’t see any problem with that. Until Irving suggested Lydia sing about the Emancipating Blade, Enya just assumed Irving would always be the one coming up with the songs, as well as singing them. Now that things were opening up, she was happy to include Olivia. In fact, being an artif, things would go all the smoother with her help.

“Alright, let’s come up with something.”

“We’ll have to think carefully,” Olivia warned, “At the very least, the chronicles will record what we come up with today.”

No pressure.

Enya and Olivia spent almost twenty minutes coming up with a song about the Chronicles of Clan Proxima. Admittedly, Olivia was the guiding hand. She thought of most of the lyrics and made sure everything was concise and orderly. Enya had a fundamental contribution as well, that being the song’s melody. They still had one issue they needed to work out, a missing verse earlier in the song’s narrative. They were short on time, Olivia noticed. She would have to finish her work in the library soon.

“I suppose we’ll have to fill in the rest another time. Preferably-” Olivia’s words caught in her throat as a figure appeared at the library entrance behind Enya.

“What’s wrong?”

Olivia shrank and bit down on her lip as the man spotted her. “Simon.”

Enya turned around to see who it was that had Olivia so visibly uncomfortable. She immediately recognized Simon from earlier. He made Enya almost as uncomfortable the way he marched into the university’s main building. Ishmael had him pegged as a man on a mission, and he was right. Enya only hoped Olivia wasn’t who he was here for. If she knew him, and judging by the way he was rapidly bearing down on them, she must have, they were in a tough spot.

“What are you doing here?”

“Stop avoiding me, Livie!”

Both women flinched.

“You know why I’m here, so don’t play dumb. Give me the book.” Simon stepped around Enya and held out his hand toward Olivia. “I know you have it.”

Enya squinted quizzically at Simon. The book was sitting right there on the table, granted, among a dozen others, but it was still by far the largest and most eye-catching. Just as she realized Simon didn’t know exactly what he was looking for, he and Olivia both caught each other glancing at the 15th volume. It was already well inside Olivia’s reach, but Simon dove for it anyway, only to be left half sprawled over the table as Olivia swiped it and moved away. Her chair fell behind her and she nearly tripped over it trying to get to a safe distance. Enya rushed around the far side of the table and planted herself halfway between the two.

“Don’t do this, Simon. You’re only making it worse.”

“You’re the one making it worse,” Simon snarled, hauling himself up and straightening his jacket, “The more you avoid me, the more gets written. The more that gets written, the harder this is going to be.”

“You know how the system works, Simon,” Olivia said, “The more you stand out, the more it hones in on your actions. It can’t be helped. More importantly, it can’t be stopped.”

“Are you,” Enya paused, doubting her own question, but nothing else really made sense to her. “Are you part of Clan Proxima, too?”


Olivia looked away.

Simon shifted irritably by the table. “Yes, but I shouldn’t be. The books just think I am, so now I’m caught up in this crap.”

“I’m confused,” Enya said, looking back and forth between them. They certainly didn’t look related.

“He married into the clan a few years ago,” Olivia began an explanation Enya knew neither of them would be comfortable visiting, “He and my sister had always been close. Eventually they decided to marry, but there little approval from the elders. They decided to test Simon by not informing him about the Chronicles and how the system works. He was the only member of Clan Proxima at the time who didn’t know his actions were being recorded.”

“Yeah, instead of trusting me, you ‘tested’ me,” Simon said.

Olivia suddenly took an aggressive step toward Simon. “And you failed.”

“Livie, just give me the book.”

“Why do you want it so badly?” As nervous as Enya was, as long as the 15th volume was a part of the Golden Treasury, she had a duty to protect it. She didn’t know how she was going to go about it, but she had no intention of backing down now.

“I’ve got to destroy it, or erase my name from it, or something!”

“That’s not going to work-“

“Excuse me,” a woman’s voice brought their attention toward the front of the library. A rather unamused librarian was coming to quiet them down. Failing that, they would probably be thrown out.

“I apologize,” Olivia sighed.

“Me too,” Enya followed suit.

Simon crossed his arms and leaned to one side, not saying anything.

“You three are in a library. For God’s sake, act like it. Take this … drama elsewhere.”

With that, she went back to her desk, and for a long moment, no one said a word.

Eventually, Simon opted to end the silence. “Meet me outside so we can talk. Don’t run, don’t avoid me this time.” For good measure, he held up a finger threateningly. “I can make both your lives a living hell.” He turned to leave and punched the door frame on his way out of the library.

“What’s wrong with him?” Enya said, completely bowled over by Simon’s hostility.

“Help me with these books. I’ll try to explain. At least that way you’ll understand what’s happening.”

Simon was Olivia’s brother-in-law, and he was also a gangster. Olivia’s sister, Priscilla, was practically royalty by comparison. Even so, the two tried to marry. Proxima’s elders allowed the arrangement on the condition that Simon be kept in the dark about the chronicles for exactly three years following the marriage ceremony. Priscilla had reluctantly agreed, but even she knew about Simon’s criminal ties. Without revealing the truth, she tried her best to steer his life in a new direction. All the while, his less savory work was recorded by the chronicles, implicating him and everyone who worked with him in both minor and serious crimes like.

The real tragedy in Simon’s tale was that he was very nearly reformed by Priscilla. He was preparing to cut ties and leave his old life behind, but in those three years appointed by the elders of Clan Proxima, the chronicles had built up a monumental list of crimes perpetrated by Simon and his partners. When Simon learned about the chronicles on the third anniversary of his marriage to Priscilla, he denounced the clan and began a book burning crusade. He went to incredible lengths to try and erase himself and his old cohorts from the records, but all his efforts came to nothing.

Enya understood now. She also realized that Olivia had been using the 15th volume like an early warning system. According to her, at the end of each day, just before sunrise, the actions of each member of Clan Proxima were compiled into the latest volume. By reading the events of the previous day, she could effortlessly track the movements and actions of anyone in the clan. Simon was considered a part of Clan Proxima by the autonomous chronicle the clan established, so Olivia was able to keep tabs on him right up until this morning. She knew he was coming to the campus, and she tried her best to avoid him, even while giving Enya a tour of the facilities.

Olivia was turning out to be quite the multitasker.

Something Enya still couldn’t figure out was why everything she had read in the 15th volume was about Olivia. There was no mention of Simon or anyone else. There were likely thousands of pages in that hefty book, so she was ready to write it off with any excuse that came to mind, but the entries covering multiple days of Olivia’s life and hers alone nagged at Enya. It was also strange that a single book, no matter how many pages were in it, could cover the lives of hundreds of people. A thousand years of history, and hundreds of people tracked through only fifteen books? That should be completely impossible from what Enya had briefly read. It was simply too much information. For now, there was nothing to do but follow Olivia’s lead and do her best to keep the 15th volume safe.

Enya wasn’t surprised the encounter in the library hadn’t gone unnoticed, but there was a crowd gathering near Simon in the courtyard outside the main building. He was keeping them back with curses and the occasional threatening posture, but it wouldn’t be long before campus security got involved. He was bound to be ejected soon, which made Enya wonder if they should really bother talking with him. Simon wanted the book but neither of them were prepared to let him have it. What more was there to discuss?

“Enya, no matter what happens,” Olivia turned toward her as they made their way toward the crowd, “don’t panic. I hope there’s another solution, but I don’t want Simon to get himself arrested over this.”

Enya grimaced. Simon definitely deserved to be arrested from what she knew, but his reputation was directly tied to Clan Proxima.

“I know that we shouldn’t go easy on him, at least on principle,” Olivia admitted, “He’s a career criminal. Even so, we hid the chronicles from him. I can’t help but feel he would have handled the truth better if we told him from the beginning, before the marriage. He failed the elders’ test, that much is true, but if he had known  his every step was going to be recorded for all time, if he knew he was going to be held to account from the very beginning, perhaps …”

Enya nodded, partially agreeing. It was all well and good to hope people would do the right things for the right reasons, but it was an ideal that was proving wildly impractical for Clan Proxima.

“We wronged him first. Technically. I’ll apologize for the deception,” Olivia decided, “It wasn’t my decision, but like my sister, I had every opportunity to reveal the truth. I’ll apologize and we’ll see where things go from there. I don’t expect him to listen, but he isn’t the only one that should be held to account.”

It was then that Enya noticed someone was following directly behind them, and gaining quickly. She thought it might be another student, come to see what the fuss was about, but when Enya turned to see who it was, she was more than a little relieved.


“Come to watch the fireworks?” Olivia said by way of greeting.

“Are we dealing with another crazy person?” Ishmael winced as he came up alongside Enya and Olivia, “Weren’t the Draksy enough for one month?”

Enya could only sigh at that. At least she didn’t have to worry about their safety anymore.

Olivia shrugged. “Apparently not. Admittedly, I’m partly to blame for this one. I’ll do my best to make this right.”

Once they were close enough, Simon spotted them and jutted a finger at the small group. The crowd thinned out between them, slowly clearing the way. “You actually came. Good.”

Olivia led them to the center of the crowd, a few meters from where Simon was standing. “I doubt we have much time before security steps in and removes you from the campus.”

“This won’t take long,” Simon promised, “Put the book down.” He pointed at the spot between him and Olivia. “Put it down right there and stand back.”

“Simon, please.” Olivia’s grip on her bag and the 15th volume tightened. “Don’t you understand what you’re doing? Even if-“

“Just put the book there, Livie!”

“Don’t,” Enya said, holding the back against Olivia, “He’s just going to ruin it.”

“That’s right,” Simon said, “I’ve never been this close before. The family keeps the volumes hidden away somewhere. That one’s the only one they don’t have locked up in some vault, so put it down on the ground and let me do what I came to do.”

“You don’t understand what you’re doing. It’s not as simple as destroying the books, Simon.” Olivia reluctantly took the 15th volume of the chronicles out of the bag. Several students began pulling out cameras, while others let their orbitals snap pictures of her and the book. “Even if you destroy this one, the 16th is already part of the system. It would take the 15th’s place and nothing would change.”

Simon seemed to falter for a moment.

“Simon listen to me. The chronicles aren’t what you think they are. Destroying this book won’t help you hide what you’ve done.”

“I have to try, Livie. This isn’t just about me. That thing is watching everyone I’m around. Everything we’ve done is getting into that overblown diary. It has to stop.”

“It won’t stop, Simon. Not until your life ends,” Olivia said. There was a grim finality to her words and the way she said them. She clearly knew something no one else present did.

“Help me, Livie. Just help me end this. If my old boss or his people find out about this, we’re screwed. Don’t you get it?! I’m trying to protect my family! My son, your sister, all of us!”

“I’m sure all of us are, Simon.”

“So help me do that. Put the book down and let me do this.”

“… fine.”

Enya gasped. “Olivia, are you sure?”

“This has to end. I’ll let you do this, Simon, but after that, you have to listen to everything I have to say. Will you agree to that much?”

Simon nodded. Then he pulled back his hand. Suddenly mana erupted around his wrist, condensing into a bright orange flame above his palm.

Olivia slowly stepped forward with the 15th volume in her hands and knelt down with it. Enya could only watch in horror as the fire Simon was holding began to wrap around itself again and again, condensing into a small star. The crowd was beginning to spread themselves out further, realizing Simon wasn’t going to hold back in destroying the chronicle. Ishmael took Enya’s hand and guided her back to a safe distance as well. Olivia wasn’t far behind.

As soon as they were clear, Simon let loose a shout, and threw his spell down onto the book. A burst of all colors flashed in all directions, and ethereal flames flowed over the concrete in brilliant waves that nearly caught up with the dispersing crowd. At the center of it all were the ashes of the 15th volume. Enya could only bare to look for a moment.

“Finally,” Simon breathed. He offered no resistance when security officers stepped onto the scene and grabbed him.

“Could you,” Olivia held out her hand toward the guards, “hold him there for just a moment? There’s something I want to say.”

The men were reluctant, but Simon wasn’t making things difficult for them, so they obliged.

Olivia came closer, stepping around the scorched remains and dying embers. Once she was close enough, she clasped her hands together and locked eyes with Simon. “I’m sorry.”


“We should have told you the truth from the beginning. The whole truth. If we had, so much could have gone differently.”

Simon scoffed. “Naturally. Is that all you wanted to say?”

“If they decide to put you in a cell, rest assured I’ll be talking your ear off from the other side of those bars,” Olivia said with a bitter smile.

“And I’ll listen, like I promised,” Simon returned her smile.

“Ms. Somma,” one of the guards spoke up, “we should take this elsewhere.”

“You’re right. And Simon? There’s more. There’s so much more you need to know about the chronicles. I hope that once I explain it, you’ll understand.”

She turned to face Enya. “I’m sure you noticed it as well. All of the entries were about me. No mention of anyone else, yes?”

Enya nodded. So there was something to that after all.

“Simon deserves to know the truth. I’ll go with him and explain everything. After that I’ll tell you as well.”

“Okay,” Enya agreed. There was little else she could do now that the 15th volume was burned to cinders.

“In that case,” Ishmael said, “We should get going.”

“We’ll talk in the morning, Enya.”

It was a long night, but Enya managed to get some much needed rest. In the morning, she listened to the second part of Lydia’s hearing on the radio while she had her breakfast. Somehow, they had spent so long discussing other issues, that the hearing was split into two days. Enya wondered if they were going to wrap things up this time, or aim for three.

The Committee recognizes Haul Lynx, Primarch of Idolus. The floor is yours, Sir.

That wasn’t a name Enya was expecting to hear. For the leader of a nation to be speaking at a simple hearing was more than a little unusual. On the other hand, Lydia was one of Idolus’ founders. She served as the first Primarch until the Roburo Incident. She and Haul were also the best of friends. Maybe it would be stranger if he wasn’t there at her hearing.

Thank you, Speaker Carlson. Now then. Friends, enemies, and those with wavering commitments … good morning.

Enya nearly spat out her apple at Haul’s greeting.

I’m here to speak on behalf of my dear friend Duchess Lydia von Tenebrae, and to offer a suggestion on how to deal with her breach of the Wahrhafen Accords. Fairly. I see little reason to drag this out any further.

Pray pardon my interjection, Primarch Lynx-

Enya knew that voice. It was Senator Garret. This morning wasn’t off to the best start, after all.

You say you wish for a fair ruling, but is she not a dear friend of yours, as you yourself said in the self same breath? Surely the conflict of interest isn’t lost on you.

The idea was someone else’s, actually. I just happen to agree with it. Think of me as little more than a messenger, Senator Garret.

Even so, we’ve already deliberated at length on this matter and have come up with a fair concession of our own.

Somehow, Enya doubted any concessions Garret wanted from Lydia would be fair.

Well, don’t keep the rest of us in suspense. Where is the Committee leaning for the moment? Surely this isn’t just another indirect attack on Idolus.

Haul sounded amused and Enya could have sworn he was wearing a smug expression right now. She had a feeling he was used to dealing with people like Garret. He might have even enjoyed the conflict. If he were someone else, someone on the other side, she could admit that Haul’s flippant attitude was a bit much. He was on Lydia’s side, though. Moreover, he was clearly getting on Garret’s nerves. There was nothing to do but cheer him on as he went toe to toe with the Cordaeans.

We believe the best course of action to redress the unauthorized and flagrant use of Agia-

Enya let her head fall, nearly onto the table. Did he have to use the term ‘flagrant’ like that?

-is to turn the Emancipating Blade over to the Draksy government.



Lydia was present too and her reaction nearly mirrored Enya’s.

Frankly, the only punishment suitable for an Agian of Ms. Tenebrae’s standing is to return her ill-gotten gains to the Draksy. As a Draksy weapon, we should acknowledge their claim to it. Furthermore, this situation would never have come about in the first place had Ms. Tenebrae not been in possession of the weapon.

Senator, I already warned you I would not

Senator Garret, your idea is an interesting one. I’ll add completely insane, as well, but still interesting.

Haul interrupted Lydia with an unseen gesture before firing back at Senator Garret. Enya was somewhat relieved, but their only hope for avoiding another incident now seemed to be convincing this committee to go with the idea Haul was suggesting. Lydia wasn’t going to let the Cordaeans take the Emancipator from her, much less hand it over to the Draksy.

With all due respect, Primarch Lynx, you represent your nation’s highest office. I suggest you act like it. Petty comments are not becoming of someone in your position.

Please. Duchess Lydia von Tenebrae also held the office of Primarch until Senator Berko forced her out of it at gunpoint. You no more respect the position than he did. But I digress. There’s the matter of your complete insanity to address.

Primarch Lynx.

Garret’s tone was furious, barely restrained, and Enya was trying not to laugh. Haul was a … ‘linguistically ruthless’ politician.

I believe the floor was mine, was it not?

Indeed. Please, continue Primarch.

Speaker Carlson was still completely neutral from the sound of things.

Ignoring ethnic ties for the moment, consider what actually happened. The Duchess was forced to turn the Emancipator over to the same people that abducted one of her employees. They’re criminals. What’s more, they’re criminals acting on behalf of a foreign government. While I cannot prove they were acting under orders, the fact of the matter is that you are suggesting we reward these criminals with the very item they stole. Remember that their stated goal was to hand the Emancipator over to one of their leaders. If that’s true then this committee would simply be finishing what they started.

Haul had a point. Nestor was clear about their intentions. Even if they were lying, they had to act on the assumption that Nestor and his cohorts were stealing the Emancipating Blade to get it back to their ‘Princess of Wyverns.’ Suggesting they do the work for them to punish Lydia for breaking their rules was just silly.

You say the Emancipator is ill-gotten. I ask what then could be more ill-gotten than outright theft, first by the assailants and then by you yourself?

What then would you suggest, Primarch Lynx?

Senator Garret was still seething, but he was keeping together, if just barely. Enya wondered if he wasn’t secretly working with the Draksy.

I did come bearing a suggestion, one that the committee should be able to live with, and also one that the Duchess should agree to, given the circumstances.

We would be most grateful to hear it, Primarch. How would you have us address the situation?

Carlson was ready to hear the idea, and so was everyone else, Enya included.

Duchess Tenebrae has been in possession of the Emancipator for twenty-eight years. It has been out of Draksy hands for more than half a millennium. Even were it only in her possession for a fraction of that time, it was already determined years ago by a committee of Lumaian, Calman, and Idolan officials that the weapon belongs to her and not the Draksy government. With that said, to completely strip her of it would go beyond a mere punishment. My suggestion is that she yield the Emancipator to the Idolus government. It will be under my administration’s care for an amount of time agreed upon by this committee. After which, it will be returned to the Golden Treasury.

It was an interesting idea, but Enya worried that there was so much bad blood between Idolus and Cordaea that the senators would either reject the idea out of hand, or push for an extremely long time frame.

And during this period, Ms. Tenebrae will not have free access to the weapon?

Enya didn’t recognize the man’s voice, so she assumed he was just another politician weighing in during the hear.

That is correct, though I reserve the right to lend the weapon to whomever I wish, the Duchess included. The Emancipator is a powerful weapon, and I will not have it laying idle during a crisis.

I’m curious. What would you suggest is a fair amount of time to redress the Duchess’ unauthorized use of Agia?

Three years, Speaker Carlson.

Enya flinched, and the radio was abuzz with chatter. She wasn’t expecting it to be that long. Six months at most, maybe, but three years? She wasn’t feeling too good about the suggestion now, but at the same time, she knew some in the committee had much, much harsher designs for Lydia. Haul’s suggestion probably came in light of that. It was a real punishment, not just a slap on the wrist.

Maybe it was for the best. Enya just wished she could see or hear Lydia’s reaction. All she could hear were Cordaean politicians finally coming out with their thoughts. It was nearly a minute before Speaker Carlson managed to rein everyone back in.

I’m impressed, Primarch Lynx. For a moment I feared you cared little about the process and were merely steering this hearing toward a middling conclusion. Duchess Tenebrae, do you have anything to add?

Primarch Lynx’s suggestion is acceptable. I would honor it.

Enya listened carefully, but she couldn’t glean much from Lydia’s tone. She wasn’t upset, at least. Enya was starting to feel better, too. At least the Emancipator would be in Idolus, in Haul’s care. Lydia was being held to account, but in just a few short years, this whole mess would be behind them, and the Emancipating Blade would be returned to its proper place in the Golden Treasury.

The vote didn’t take long, and Haul’s suggestion was accepted as is. For three years, the Emancipating Blade would be in the Idolus government’s possession. After that time, it would be returned to Lydia. With that, and Enya’s breakfast taken care of, she left her dorm room to meet Olivia.

Enya expected to meet Olivia somewhere on the campus, the library maybe, but she heard from Ishmael that Olivia was already on her way to the Tenebrae Estate. She was also supposed to be working today, so Enya had planned on going there right after chatting with Olivia. Heinrich wasted no time in driving Enya back to the estate. Sure enough, Olivia was waiting for her in the main hall, along with Irving.

“Good morning, Master Wheeler. Olivia,” Enya greeted them both.

“Good morning,” Irving gave a small wave.

Olivia simply nodded.

“So,” Enya was hesitant to ask, especially with how somber Olivia looked, “how did it go?”

“Simon and I spent much of the evening talking. It was tense for a while, but I think he’s beginning to understand.”

“I’m sure you had a lot to talk about,” Enya said thoughtfully.

“He didn’t understand what the Chronicles of Proxima really are. It’s not a collection of books. Burning the books is like cutting your own hair. God willing it will grow back, but you can’t kill a person that way.”

“What are the Chronicles of Proxima, then?” Enya asked. A major contributing factor to her long night was Olivia’s confession that even Enya didn’t know the whole story behind the chronicles. Her curiosity was even more difficult to bear with Olivia standing right here.

“When my clan went about making a chronicler, they needed more than a person to base the writings on, but also something to base the design of the entire system on. The reference we used for the Chronicles of Proxima are the Praedian Records.”

“The …” Enya didn’t know what to say. There were few who could offer an adequate explanation of what the Praedian Records even were. To base the chronicles off of a system that no one could claim to fully understand was a monumental undertaking. “How could they base a system on the Praedian Records? It doesn’t exist in the physical world, right?”

“Proxima holds a prestigious position in the Clesian monarchy,” Irving chimed in, “Clese has made numerous attempts to access the Praedian Records. All the world’s knowledge in one location? It’s too much to ignore. No one has ever officially made the journey, but I assure you the Clesians have sent several people in at tremendous cost. Some are even known to have returned alive.”

“I’ve heard the same thing,” Olivia said, “I believe one of my people studied the records in person back then. They would have gone on to help design the autonomous chronicler. It would have taken an astronomical amount of mana to make that journey, but if they came back alive, they would bring a great deal of insight to the project.”

“It would take countless books to contain the clan’s history long into the future,” Irving continued, “and so instead of books, special archives were used. The book Simon set alight was not the 15th volume of the chronicles itself, but a terminal linking to it. It was a viewport into the archives that comprise the 15th volume of the Chronicles of Proxima. The words shift even as the focus of the reader shifts. They exist as a convenient guide through an otherwise boundless sea of information.”

A smile slowly formed on Enya’s face. Now, finally, she truly understood what was going on.

“We pretend the volumes are the chronicles themselves. That protects the secrecy of the archives, but that same lie convinced Simon he could destroy the chronicles outright with brute force. When I couldn’t convince him to give up, I realized that perpetuating that lie was pointless. Lies of omission, lies to protect secrecy. I think I’ve learned my lesson, this time. The whole truth means the whole truth, doesn’t it, Enya?”

“Right,” Enya gave an approving nod.

“And what of Simon?” Irving asked, “Do you know what they’re going to do with him?”

Olivia sighed, partly in relief. “He wasn’t arrested yesterday, like I feared. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before someone somewhere brings him in for questioning. Unless he goes into hiding, he won’t be a free man for much longer, I’m afraid. Still, I suggested he return to Clese and speak with the elders while he still can. Now that he knows the truth, there’s a chance, however slim, that something good can come of the talks. Eventually the authorities are going to realize they can gather a lot of evidence to use against Simon and his gang by accessing the archives. If it comes to that, those thugs will want revenge for bringing them all down with him. My sister and her child would make for excellent targets, naturally. That was his whole motivation for destroying the book. Ignorance is a curse.”

“If there’s anything we can do to help,” Enya began, almost surprised by her own willingness to get even more involved.

Olivia chuckled. “I should have known you would offer. I don’t know what you could do to help just yet, but if your offer stands when we need you, I’ll ask.”

“Well, I’m glad the situation is as a whole is improving. I believe there was one more thing you required of me, Ms. Somma?”

“Yes,” Olivia grinned and glanced sideways at Enya, “I learned yesterday afternoon that the Chronicles of Clan Proxima were worthy of song. I plan to record a song into the archives, and you will be our audience.”

Irving gave Enya a look.

Enya smiled nervously.

Eventually Irving smiled back at her.

“One more thing.” Olivia approached Enya and began to whisper into her ear. Fortunately, she’d come up with the missing verse for the song, and passed it along to Enya just in time. “Now listen and listen well, Master Wheeler,” Olivia struck a dramatic pose, “while we sing of the Great Chronicles of Clan Proxima~”

“Ready?” Enya mirrored Olivia.

“Goodness,” Irving said, unable to contain his amusement.


*A record for all time is what we seek,

like what we’ve heard, but never seen, a power so unique

The Praedian Records’ mystique

A single man returned from that place,

his will so torn, a face forlorn, lost in time and space

Clan Proxima’s will he embraced

*The chronicler, sits down to write

The written word comes to light

*The unseen author

*The chronicles were born

*Let the record show, Proxima’s ideal

*Love and temperance, honor faith and diligence

*Illusions all dispelled, replaced by what is real

*Lust and impatience, disbelief and indulgence

*Let the record show, for weal and for woe

For weal or woe the record shows,

no more lies, there’s no disguise, that deceives the prose

The unseen author always knows

*Some chose virtue, and some chose vice,

both have had to pay the price

*A record for all time

*The chronicles have sworn

*Let the record show, the troubles we have faced

*Deception of the cloth, and corruption of the crown

*The sins of our past, not one word will be erased

*The coin we have taken, and the rivals we cast down

*Let the record show, for weal and for woe

*Some chose hope, and some despaired,

for acts of violence, some prepared

*There are no more unknowns

*The chronicles forewarn

*Let the record show, shining like a star

*Forsaking the darkness, and reaching out to the light

*For those who seek the truth, show them who we are

*Defending our ideals, never giving up the fight

*Let the record show, Proxima’s ideal

*A time and place where our heads can all be held up high

*Let the record show, for weal and for woe

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