The Kingdom of Enestera lay in the middle of the Jahsar Mountains. White clouds hovered above the summit today, capping the bone-deep cold of deep winter. The sky was gloomy, and on the slopes of the mountains, the houses of Enestera’s inhabitants were enclosed within hard stone fences.
The several-hundred-year-old history of Enestera had infused its people with different beliefs. All were in the service of and worshipped the Deities of Jahsar Mountains. The mountains were home to many statues depicting local animals. After cremating the bodies of the deceased, the Enesterans poured their ashes into the statues, then placed them on the mountains.
Frasto was centered on a small castle near Enestera, which had been built years ago by order of Rantoram Ram’s ancestors, and was not in fact an independent kingdom. Ingelan was far from Enestera, though both were given the title “Enestera Brothers,” and both were under Enestera’s central rule. Later, by order of Keruntoram, the reign of Enestera was delegated to Rantoram, and that of Ingelan to his other son, Liyoro, while trusted noble Pal Artachiyo was appointed the ruler of Frasto.
Several centuries before, the heart of the Jahsar Mountains had been emptied by the people of that territory. They dug ten deep cavities in the forehead of the mountain, which were connected to each other through long stairs from outside. From within, too, they reached each other via tunnels, where the ashes of the dead of Enestera were buried. The greatest mountain was called the “Five Temples,” where the members of the king’s family were placed; and in the next place, the members of aristocratic families of Enestera were interred. The ceremonies marking special Enesteran holidays were held there, and the men of Jahsar Deities, who were chosen by the Deities of East, were permitted to live there, and were present to serve the people and teach them special rites and rituals.
Enestera was a small kingdom with its own specific beliefs. When a child born there entered their eighth year, and their visage matured to its complete shape, the symbol of an animal was assigned to them. A figuring of that animal was made and hung around the child’s neck, and the child grew up with it. The people of Enestera believed that the baby would acquire the characteristics of the assigned animal, and after a person’s death, their remains would be interred in a stone statue symbolizing their animal.
He set the bag in front of the door, entered the library, and stood in front of the disarrayed books. He saw Lunifer through the books and said, “W-w-would y-you k-kindly e-explain a-about the s-s-sword t-that w-was e-eaten by the m-m-mountain?”
Lunifer knew Edward’s voice very well, for the boy often frequented the library to listen to Lunifer’s tales and history. The fact that one day he would succeed his father had multiplied Edward’s incentive, and he wished to grow up soon and deliver speeches to the public at the royal grand halls. Lunifer straightened his curved body, and after firmly placing his thick glasses on his nose, said in a shaky voice: “First of all, tell me whether anybody has told you that at that time, I was just born? Two hundred and fifty years has elapsed since then, my dear boy.” He laughed quietly.
The most enjoyable thing in the world for Lunifer was to receive questions about history and speak about them for several hours. Edward was still gazing at Lunifer as he shuffled the books, seemingly looking for something, saying: “Oh, where have I put it? By the way, dear boy, has anybody told you that tonight is my birthday, and I am turning two hundred and fifty? Why do you look at me that way, and why won’t you answer any of my questions? Forget it—there’s no need to say anything, but bear in mind that there shall be a day when you will be spending most of your time here, and you will be asking me to narrate more stories for you, because during those days it will be only reading, knowledge, and information, not any other friend, that can help you.
“The more time passes, the more you will realize that you don’t know anything, even if you’ve read all the books of this library. I myself grew up with these books since my childhood, and somehow have become like them, and now I have the same feeling. Well, dear boy, we forgot the main subject—I believe you said that you have come to me to listen to an explanation about the Dragal Sword, right?”
Edward took a step forward. Lunifer’s animal symbol was a Raken, and he always remembered Rakens upon seeing Lunifer. Lunifer looked at Edward and said: “Well, dear boy, you should bear in mind that Dragal is the only sword in the world whose own name is engraved on it. The owners’ names are carved on all other swords. Plus, Dragal itself inscribed its name on its own hilt.”
Edward’s expression reflected his astonishment. Lunifer patted him on the shoulder and continued, “You’re probably asking yourself how that’s possible, yes? Here’s how the story goes. In the distant past, a man named Tam Gandenta was the ruler of a small and thinly populated kingdom. He was very hawkish and fearless, and at one point, he ordered his soldiers to prepare themselves for an all-out bloody war against not one, but several other kingdoms. He ordered a sword to be made from a piece of hardened steel, which years earlier had been presented to him by a trader with his name engraved on it.
“In due time, he was informed that the sword was ready, but it carried a name on it that they could not remove, despite all their efforts: ‘Dragal.’ Tam Gandenta was astonished upon hearing this news, for it was customary during those days to have the warrior’s own name engraved on the blade of his sword. He thought that the trader who had given the piece of steel might have cast a spell on it. He considered himself above all others, and felt it was below his dignity to carry a sword that carried the name of another person on it; hence, he ordered his armorers to make a new sword from another piece of steel and engrave his name on it. Now, him ordering them to make a new sword didn’t mean that he didn’t already have a sword to use in the war; the tradition was that before each war, a new sword was made for him. He had allocated a whole room to his many swords.”
Edward, excited, moved closer. “W-well, w-what happened n-n-next?”
“Every year, a tournament was held by Tam Gandenta among his soldiers, which included all types of games, consisting of martial games, horsemanship, swordsmanship, etc. The winner would command the soldiers for the next year, and he who came in last was deprived of the privilege of having his name inscribed on his sword for the same period. He could regain the privilege if he managed not to come in last the following year.
“Though the king wouldn’t bear Dragal, Tam had it delivered to that year’s last-place soldier. As it happened, this was a cack-handed young man named Jean Ram. He wasn’t happy to receive the sword. Holding a sword without one’s own name inscribed on the hilt was a sign of incompetence, and for that reason, his fellow soldiers belittled and humiliated Ram. He even hated himself because of it. One night he was so obsessed with this issue that he lost control, and began sobbing and forcefully striking the sword against the wall.”
Lunifer felt a bit tired. He took a deep breath, and adjusted the grey gown he was wearing so he could sit more comfortably, and continued. “While Dragal wasn’t damaged by the wall, the soul of the sword realized Jean Ram’s resentment; and in my opinion, something happened that the night. After a few days, he and his fellow soldiers moved towards Enestera and Frasto, where the war awaited them. Several bloody battles were waged near Mount Velanis in an effort to conquer the territories surrounding Enestera and Frasto. Gandenta launched a simultaneous attack on both kingdoms in an attempt to capture the Mountains of the Gods of Jahsar, which were known as Magic Powers in those days. He had heard that many golden treasures were held there, and more importantly that the Four Mirrors, which contained Enestera’s most mysterious spells, was buried in one of the Jahsar Mountains. By procuring them, he thought, he would be able to expand his rule and employ more soldiers.”
Edward moved still closer. Lunifer pointed to the chair by his head. “Come and sit here to see better.” Edward sat on the chair. He was fond of Lunifer’s expressive style when he narrated his historical tales.
Lunifer looked at him and said, “The war lasted for twenty days, and no one was willing to stop the bloodshed. Sholrus, who was then the king of Enestera and Frasto, was standing at the top of Velanis, watching the massacre of his people. He was a magician who had ruled over Enestera and Frasto for several years. He had lived for six hundred years inn all; death was alien to him. It was said that with the help of witchcraft, he had concealed different organs of his body in various locations so that if a sword struck him, it wouldn’t hurt him. Indeed, this was the case; he wasn’t harmed at all.
“Jean Ram, who was fighting using the Dragal Sword near Velanis, encountered a dreadful, robust man. During their struggle, a heavy blow struck the sword from his grasp, It was tossed into air, and fell back to strike Mount Velanis. The big man was approaching Jean Ram when he realized that the blow of Dragal had scratched the mountain’s surface, causing a blood-like red liquid to ooze from the mountain’s heart. Upon seeing that, the man threw down his sword and fled in fright. Jean Ram, heedless of the development, went to pick up the sword; and at that very moment, a sound echoed from the Mount’s summit. When he raised his head, he saw Sholrus glaring down at him as blood oozed from his legs.
Jean Ram was badly frightened; he wanted to flee himself, but he couldn’t drop the sword no matter how hard he tried, for his hands were locked to it. Tam Gandenta, who witnessed the event from a distance, rode to Jean’s location. He was an intelligent man, and realized that all the hearsay about Sholrus had been correct. The secret of his long life was that, through witchcraft, he had concealed the various organs of his body in magical Mount Velanis. Tam came to where Jean was so he could deal several blows to the mountain with his own sword, to register the assassination of Sholrus in his own name and happily recline on the throne of Frasto and Enestera.”
Lunifer coughed repeatedly, then drank a bit from a glass of water on the table. Edward waited impatiently for the story to continue. Lunifer noted his impatient look and went on. “My son, it’s true that Tam Gandenta was a smart man, but he was unlucky this time, and nothing more happened to Sholrus, even though Gandenta repeated hit the mountain with his sword. In time, he realized the futility of his efforts, and his eyes caught the name carved on Jean’s sword. He realized that apparently, only the Dragal Sword could hurt Mount Velanis, which was the spell of Sholrus body. With this thought in his mind, he went to Jean and tried to take the Dragal Sword from him. He soon realized that it was locked to Jean’s hands, he decided to take extreme measures to get it back. Jean raised his head in time to realize Gandenta was raising his sword, intending to cut his hands off—when the Dragal Sword suddenly, without Jean’s intent, ran Tam Gandenta through and killed him.”
Edward listened with undivided attention, his inner excitement increasing every moment.
Lunifer continued, “All the soldiers who had once mocked Jean Ram dropped their swords, saluted him, and chanted his name:. “Jean Ram. Jean Ram. Jean Ram.” Jean literary meant weed, a name connoting worthlessness. Jean and others knew that his father had chosen this name for him when he was drunk, but after the death of Tam Gandenta, nobody would paid any attention to that or mocked him, for he was able to kill a man who had oppressed them his entire life. Witnessing the enthusiasm and applause of the soldiers, as well as realizing the power the Dragal Sword had bestowed upon him, Jean moved towards the mountain and inserted his sword exactly into its heart. With the sword piercing the mountain’s heart—which was in fact Sholrus’ heart—Sholrus fell from the top of the mountain . His mistake was that Jean did not pull the Dragal Sword out of the mountain’s heart, and it was swallowed by the mountain and never came out.”
“W-what h-happened t-then?”
“Jean Ram ascended the throne of Enestera and Frasto. The blood of Mount Velanis was indeed the blood of Sholrus, and for several days after that incident, a torrent of blood ran down the mountain. Jean Ram declared that area a restricted region and no one dared step into that place, for they said that Sholrus’ soul was still there. This was why, by the order of Jean, a grave was dug in Velanis and Sholrus’s body was buried there.
“The history of Enestera and Frasto began with that event. From that day on, Jean Ram was a different man; it was said that the power of Dragal Sword was transferred to him, and it really was so, for he had become very strong, no longer clumsy, as he had been before. People gave him the symbol of the Scorpion, the same symbol currently carried on the flags of Enestera and Frasto. By the way, I forgot to tell you that now the only people who can step onto Mount Velanis without fright are the descendants of Sholrus; so, of course, you too can go there and see his grave.”
Edward was looking at Lunifer with astonishment now.
Lunifer smiled and continued: “Yes, my dear boy. You can really go to that mountain. Sholrus had a charming girl named Suzaruz, who married Jean Ram. Jean Ram and Sholrus are, respectively, your paternal and maternal ancestors.”
Edward stood up suddenly. “I-I-I s-should g-go.” He had gotten lost in Lunifer’s story, and had forgotten the passage of time. He felt that it was a bit late. The Sun had gone down, and it was the usual time for him to move towards the Mount Velanis with his father.
Realizing Edward’s haste, Lunifer said: “I don’t care to celebrate my birthday, my boy, but, if you like, you can come have a piece of cake with me in secret.”…