“Tell me the story Papa! Tell me the story!” Five-year-old Skylar squealed in excitement, sitting up in his bed, looking at his grandfather with hope-filled eyes.
“Skylar, I told you the story every night this week. Can Papa tell another one?” His weary eyed grandfather pleaded.
Skylar was having none of it.
His grandfather, Seth, could only smile as he relented.
“Alright Skylar, I’ll tell the story. Move over a little.”
The boy couldn’t move fast enough, his anticipation growing as his grandfather sat himself comfortably next to him.
“Are you ready?”
Skylar nodded furiously.
“Okay. Once upon a time, in a faraway land called Alandria, there existed five nations: the sprites, the sages, the wild ones, the elves, and the humans. All of them lived in peace and harmony. Until one day, during a meeting the five nations held every year, a great evil was released.
“These peaceful talks had always happened in a place called the Valley of Unity, where the very first treaty between these nations was signed. What the signers of the treaty forgot was that valley’s original name: the Valley of Death.
“While the talks were going on, a young human named Zethaniel had wandered from the proceedings and discovered an ancient chamber. In the center of the room, on an elevated platform, there were five rings: one ruby, one emerald, one diamond, one sapphire, and one onyx. He remembered that, just before he had wondered off, the representatives of each nation had been looking for a way to strengthen the bonds between their nations.
“Hurriedly, he took all five of them up to the delegation, who marveled at their beauty. The ruby was given to the sprites, while the sapphire was given to the sages. The wild ones received the emerald and the elves got the diamond. It had been agreed that the humans since they had found the rings, would keep the onyx ring. That is when everything started.
“When Zethaniel went to give the ring to his superior, he found that the ring was stuck on his finger like a vice. Try as he might, he couldn’t remove it. Before he could warn the other assistants, they had been caught in the same predicament. Even though the royal representatives were not pleased with the predicament, since the rings were going to be given to the kings of each nation, they agreed to the proposal, each going their separate way at the end of the meeting.
“What Zethaniel failed to notice was what lay on the wall behind the pedestal.”
“What was it Papa?” Skylar asked; his voice hushed in anticipation.
“On the wall, behind the pedestal, was a large seal. Above the seal, in an ancient and forgotten tongue, read the words ‘Beware the evil that lies beyond this seal.’ When they noticed, it was all too late.”
“It was slow at first. A few chickens went missing, then some sheep, then a few cows, and then a few people. Then the trouble started. The Sprite Mountains of Jurad were attacked. They didn’t know what it was that attacked them. All they saw was a tall black cloud moving against the wind. Then, as it reached the borders, raging fires suddenly broke out, consuming everything that was in their paths. As this was going on, the Sage Lands of Mythra were on the verge of being washed away by torrential floods. Mudslides wracked the Wild Forests and hurricanes battered the Elvin Realms. The worst disasters were in the Kingdom of Humans. From sunrise, people suddenly started dying in the streets. Young and old, the bodies littered every city and town. When the news of all these tragedies reached the ears of the five kings of the five nations, they immediately travelled to the City of Unity with their representatives that had met there only a few months before.
“Upon arriving, they found that the city was in ruins. There was nothing left except for one wall, on which a message was written. It read: ‘Ziroc Ceram has returned.’ Those words struck instant terror upon the rulers. They had seen the horror of Ziroc once before. It was purely on a whim that the Beast of Malevolence had been defeated previously, and after five hundred years of gaining strength; they knew they could not match it now. They demanded to know who had broken the seal that their ancestors had sacrificed their lives to create. After a little while, Zethaniel shamefully crept forward and confessed to the deed. The kings were furious, but when the motive for the action was revealed, their anger cooled down. They immediately met in private to see what would be done about the matter.
“They all agreed that Zethaniel needed to be disciplined, they could not decide on how. That was when the king of the Wild Ones, Khira, suggested that Zethaniel fix what he had done or face exile. All were in agreement until the queen of the Sages, Liana, revealed that the one who broke the seal could not put it back together. It would have to be fixed by one of his descendants. With that information, there was only one choice. Zethaniel and his family would have to be exiled. But the problem was that as long as all five rings remained in the world, Ziroc Ceram would only gain strength. That was when a thought struck Zethaniel.
“‘What if I take the ring of time to another time period? I can prevent Ziroc from getting stronger and I would still be in exile.’ It seemed to pacify the rulers, as they once more agreed to this course of action.
“Soon word had reached Zethaniel’s family in Häben Durga. With haste, this wife took their infant son and fled to her husband, for fear of their neighbors and what they would do to their baby.
“She arrived in the city under the cover of night, not having stopped once in her flight. Upon seeing his wife’s state, Zethaniel pleaded with the rulers to spare his wife of the burden of exile, for she would be unfit to travel for a few weeks. After hours of his incessant pleas, the rulers conceded, agreeing to give her asylum with the Sages. However, his son could not stay. On that, the lords would not be moved.
“It was a sad and tearful goodbye as Zethaniel bid his wife farewell. After ripping open a hole in time using the ring, he turned to collect his son. As he picked the child up, the boy’s hand brushed against the ring. A bright glow filled the space they inhabited. When it faded, the ornate ring had been transformed into a simple silver band that held all four of the other stones that the other kingdoms possessed. The gems and their corresponding rings began to glow and the gems in the band disappeared. The ring suddenly felt loose on Zethaniel’s finger and he quickly clamped his fist around it, fearing that it would fall off.
“The rulers looked on in awe. Before their eyes lay the child who would undo the curse brought upon them by the carelessness of his father. At first, there was a call to keep the boy and train him to be a great warrior, but Zethaniel would not have it. He declared that he would keep the child out of harm’s way until the time came for him to return. That way, there would be some time bought in order for the five kingdoms to prepare themselves. Without waiting for their approval, he gave his wife one last goodbye and jumped into the portal never to be seen again.
“What happened to Zethaniel and his son Papa?” Little Skylar asked, eyes wide with excitement and wonder.
“Well, no one knows really. That’s where the story ends and the mystery begins. It is said that to this day, Ziroc Ceram still hunts for the Ring of Time, for that ring, and that ring alone can either destroy him or grant him all-encompassing power.”
“Alright little one, time for bed, you have a big day ahead of you tomorrow. It’s your first day of kindergarten and you need your rest.” Seth kindly commanded, tucking the child in.
“But I’m not tired.” Skylar moaned as a great yawn erupted from his body and his eyes slid closed.
“Good night, Skylar.”
Seth closed the door to Skylar’s room and leaned upon the opposing wall, his body suddenly heavy with age, eyes filled with regret and shame. Out of his pocket, he pulled a small simple silver band that had four little indentations in which four lost gems previously sat.
“I was a fool. I thought I could run from Ziroc. All I did was delay the inevitable. When the time comes Skylar, I hope you will forgive me.”