Day 15: Lorekeeper’s Mask

Author Jenna Eatough's Flash Fiction Story from Fyrecon's Fyretober Writing Prompt 2023-10-15

During October I am bringing you extra flash fiction or poetry in celebration of the season and inspired by Fyrecon’s Fyretober!

Enjoy my fiftieth entry into Fyrecon’s Fyretober!

Fyrecon's Fyretober Daily Prompt List

1. New neighbors
2. It’s Alive
3. No Exit
4. Walk in the cemetery
5. Door in the wall
6. Mirror
7. Space visitors
8. The Monster Is
9. Anti-magic costumes
10. Skeleton’s battle cry
11. Djinn party
12. Space dwarves
13. Zombie fireball
14. Possessed guild house
15. Lorekeeper’s mask
16. Dragon sight
17. Alien scryers
18. Trick-or-Treating Shapeshifters
19. Disguised spellbook
20. Screaming trapdoor
21. Ghost weaponsmith
22. Jack-O’-Lantern avatars
23. Pheonix light sail
24. Sparkle castle
25. Graveyard pocket universe
26. Sentient wand
27. Haunted Skyhook
28. Pirate space elevator
29. Disguised terraforming
30. The Witches’ Laws
31. Precognizant cats

Bonus Fanged griffin

The council chambers were the normal chaos of noise which always accompanied the middle of a meeting. Too many provinces were represented in the room. Too many differing cultures differing with traditions. Theyal didn’t see how anyone could expect meetings to proceed otherwise. Still, this part of the meeting did not disturb him as much as what he knew would follow.

As Theyal expected, the Emperor raised his hand. The man extended two fingers as he glanced at his herald next to him. The herald raised his staff only to lower it, wrapping it with a resounding thud echoing throughout the chamber and calling the assemblage to silence. Alerting them that the Emperor would speak.

Leaning forward on his throne, the Emperor’s eyes darted about the assemblage. “This question we shall give to our Lord Keeper.” The Emperor’s pronouncement silenced the assemblage as surely as the herald’s call. None could argue in the face of that pronouncement.

Many of the new representatives turned toward the Lorekeeper’s door with excited, eyes wide. They waited for the Lorekeeper to enter the chamber. Theyal leaned back in his seat, pretending to lounge casual ease. Ease he did not feel.

Once he shared their enthusiasm to see the spectacle of the Lorekeeper, one kept sheltered within the Emperor’s palace, a speaker trained from the youngest age to know the wisdoms and histories of the Empire. Their call to protect was considered greater than the Emperor’s own. They oversaw the continuation and protection of the empire’s core ways. They guide the council toward the future for the betterment of all.

Once Theyal believed that, but he no longer did.

The door behind the Emperor’s throne slid open, and a woman entered. A long flowing robe covered her from foot to throat and again beyond fingertips. Above the narrow bit of neck showing a silver mask covering her face. A mask which allowed only the narrowest of slits for her eyes. Theyal imagined that had to make movement difficult. A probable explanation for how the Lorekeepers walked. Theyal assumed he’d seen different Lorekeepers slid into the room, barely lifting their feet as they moved.

This Lorekeeper stopped beside the Emperor’s throne and bowed her head to him. A deference Theyal doubted she felt. “For what have you called upon the Lorekeeper’s wisdom?” She straightened when she finished speaking.

The Emperor turned away from the Lorekeeper to the chamber. “Great division has arisen on what to do about the resurgence of magical creatures in the Meridian province.” He gestured toward the region’s representatives, clustered about a far table in the back right corner of the room.

The Meridians rose from their table and nodded their heads to the Lorekeeper. “The wood spirits are stirring. Our farms are faltering. Action must be taken, Lorekeeper,” The head speaker’s voice rumbled through the room.

The Lorekeeper did not respond to them. Instead, she lifted her arms, hands still concealed. As she joined them in front of her, Theyal caught the barest hint of skin. A glimpse caught only as she shifted one sleeve to allow her hand entry and clasp the other.

“The wood spirits are to be honored,” the Lorekeeper said. “Their blessings upon all our lands are vital for the continued survival of the empire. Should we lose them completely, no land will prosper.”

“But our farms,” the representative pleaded.

“Are not worth sacrificing the empire for,” the Emperor rumbled, echoing the sentiment the Lorekeeper had begun.

Theyal pressed his lips into thin line but said nothing. What could he say? He could not go against the Emperor. He could not go against the Lorekeeper. No matter how much Theyal did not want Meridian province to suffer. No matter how much he didn’t want any province to suffer. The representatives of Meridian sunk back into their seats. Theyal prayed that would be the last spoken on the subject

His prayer went unheeded.

“Meridian must appease the spirits of the woodlands,” the Lorekeeper said. “Until they do, all of our lands are in danger.”

Theyal’s stomach dropped at her words. It was coming. He knew the worst came then. “What would you have them do?” the Emperor asked, turning toward his Lorekeeper.

She turned toward him and inclined her head again. “They must receive no aid from the other provinces. Not until they appease the spirits. Gor only this will keep the displeasure from spreading throughout all our lands.”

“But we’ll starve.” There was no strength behind the Meridian’s voice that time. Only the quiet wail of despair.

They would starve. Theyal knew they would starve. He clenched his jaw together, preventing himself from saying anything.

“Let it be done.” The Emperor raised his hand and lowered it, slamming his fist upon the seal of his seat.

Let it be done and it was done.

Theyal turned his attention to the Lorekeeper, fixing his gaze on her. His anger seeped in. She had done as much or worse to his land five years past. One of the Borderlands, one of the lands that defended the empire, and when they had come under attack, she had declared they must stand alone, for the attack came because they had faltered.

Theyal knew they had never faltered.

Even now, remembering the cry of the three years which followed, the despair, the deaths, the mother’s wailing, the fathers, and the orphans, Theyal could not forgive. The dead walked before him as hollowed ghosts. No, he did not forgive the Lorekeeper for her sentence upon them. A sentence that none questioned. None could argue against. The Lorekeeper remained hidden safely behind her mask. Anonymous. Untouchable.

As if Theyal’s thoughts had drawn her, she turned from her general appraisal of the room look at him. The movement so slight, no one would have noticed, but Theyal knew. He knew her eyes locked on him, and he did not lower his gaze.

Theyal smiled. She hid behind the Lorekeeper’s mask for now. But someday. It would be his.

Be sure to check out all the #fyretober creations.

#fyretober2023 #fyretoberflashfiction2023 #fyretoberprompts2023 #fyretober2023day15

“Fyretober is for everyone who loves to create, and this month we’re looking to see your flash fiction, poetry, and illustrations every day. We’ll be providing daily prompts for the month and want to see what new concepts and wonders you can make with them.”

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