The Inquisitor’s Compass

Babel of voices fills the atmosphere of our room.

Groups of students are goofing around, chuckling, or babbling in this circular quarter, whose walls are buried with layers of bookshelves, and whose lighting came from the four lamps hanging upside down around the rune stone that rests at the center of the room.

Despite the noise, my mind reels throughout the pages of my book, delving into the rich descriptions of some of the extinct creatures of Ard. I mesmerize on the future of excavating one myself in a lost ancient ruin. After all, tomorrow will be my commissioning. All the sleepless nights studying will have paid off as I become an inquisitor of Aelyorn.

I’m about to flip the other page when suddenly someone casts an incantation to the rune.
A brazen green light illuminates the whole room. Bulky roots crawl under our chairs carrying along our belongings as it grows. I managed to grab my pouch before the roots bring it under someone’s seat.

The trunks sprout next, together with its branches and leaves, both of which sparkle like stars. The branches rise quicker. My arms itch as the branches’ diamond barks scrapes my skin. A salted sweet scent lingers in my smell creating a soothing effect, then I realize that the Healing Garden of Nutrasia has been summoned.

My classmate Levi, who is the head of the fourth-meriter prefect of discipline, confronts the first-meriter who was experimenting with the rune stone out of curiosity. He is scratching his head making some excuses while the cool hymn of the trees plays. A group of second-meriter girls murmur something about Levi. They are probably admiring his looks: coal hair, fair complexion and dark-emerald eyes.

“Relax, you don’t have to be hard on him, he’s a first meriter” I tell Levi while he was jotting down the name of the boy “besides, it’s our last day”

“Whether we’ll be commissioned tomorrow or not…” He snaps. “It’s still my duty to supervise students, especially in this meeting.”

He’s right. The situation calls for his duty. Different sets of students from the first to the fourth merit crowded the room, waiting for the professor to report the latest archeological discovery this eron.

I understand where his sense of responsibility is coming from. We are both from the poorest sector of Aelyorn—our families are farmers. Also, we are both scholars. The only difference is: I earn my scholarship through high grades while he earns his by working as an administrator.
Mr. Faroll slams open the door. Before he takes another step in, his eyes widened, startled at the lush glimmering forestry of our room.

Levi whispers something that made my brows cross. “You know what to do.” He teases.
“Oh shut up will you!”

Mr. Farrol hastens to the platform. His ballooning belly and bulging chicks flap as he walks. He put his books on the pulpit, and moves toward the blank rune, which is laced with alternating gold, silver and bronze at its edge.

He draws a small scroll and throws it into the rune. It burst into flames, then bright blue inscription—zigzagging and overlapping lines—slowly materialize in its face. The letters read as the ancient language for stop: “Claudicus”

Afterwards everything returned to normal. Mr. Farrol looks at me straight in the eye signaling me do my duty whenever he is the professor: lead the inquisitor oath.

He has taken a special liking of me, asking me for some assistance, and treating me as a protégé. My classmates notice that kind of favor toward me. They say it’s because I am the top of the class, but I couldn’t care less. Though I’m grateful, I really don’t mind being at the center stage. I’ve studied hard simply because it’s my dream to be an inquisitor. More importantly, I would be able to provide better for my family through this profession.

The oath is long, stoic and tedious. It speaks about the inquisitors’ duty to unearth the lost history of Ard, and report every discovery to the other two kingdom—Nutrasia and Erindale—besides ours, Aelyorn. It narrates how 600 erons ago the Great Collapse had wreaked havoc to the 12 ancient civilization—one of them is our kingdom. Series of storms, earthquakes and floods laid waste to the 11; only ours survived, mysteriously unscathed. Adding to the conundrum was the enchantment that fell upon those who had survived. They had gone on living without any memory neither of the past nor of the tragedy. Any records of their own history were also missing. Only through the discovery of the magic of rune stones that the chronicle of the Great Collapse was discovered and the reality of the enchantment was remembered. The runes stones said that when the 12 birthstones of each ancient kingdom are collected, the missing history of Ard will be revealed.

After reciting the last line, Mr. Farrol calls me again.

“Shalom, please take this scroll and cast it to the rune when I say so” he asked, handing me a long scroll sealed with a red stamp. As I walk toward my seat, he apologizes to the class for being late and apologized again saying that despite the lost time, he will not cut to the chase with the report, and would instead ask a question.

“A certain rune, which we experimented with magic have revealed a narrative. We have successfully decoded it. I want to know if ever one of you could extract its meaning.”
“A man had been tasked to save 12 lost queens. He asked for help from the tree of wisdom, which was standing in a feather grass. The tree gave the man a leaf blessed with instructions for his journey. Now, what could this narrative mean?”

There is a long pause. Everyone is puzzled. The question asks for a great decryption skill. I barely passed decryptology last eron.

My mind races to every page I read, every lesson I heard, every rune inscription I saw. Still nothing. Time is tickling fast.

13 thoughts on “The Inquisitor’s Compass

  1. NobHobbit says:

    I like the rune/incantation magic you have here. 🙂 It sounds really interesting and fun. But I’m a little confused as to how it relates to archeology, which is what I assume when the mc fantasizes about excavating remains of extinct creatures from ruins.

    I like the background of the characters, too – that they are from poor families and have worked their way through ‘school’.

    Levi’s attitude switch seems to come out of nowhere. First, we have him about to discipline or report a younger student; he’s busy being stern and possibly angry. Then all of a sudden, he’s teasing the mc.

    The riddle at the end is intriguing, as is the mc’s thought that he barely passed decryptology. It makes me wonder if he’s supposed to figure it out through logic, intuition, or by casting a spell. 🙂

    Best,
    Chelle

  2. Anonymous says:

    Finally Someone!! (teary eyed). Thanks. actually, I already think that Levi’s attitude switch is kindda wrong. I’m thinking of how he should act as a typical peer-someone who’s whimsical to his friend. But ur right I need to revise it.

  3. vanessafowler says:

    I like the contrasts you create between the studious and non-studious/serious. Overall I did get a little confused at what was happening, maybe because it moved so fast? At first I thought they were in a library, but then in a class?
    I liked that one student got in trouble, but I didn’t see the relevance to the main character – maybe connect it more as an obstacle?
    The description of the older student feels a bit cliche and so does their situation, but otherwise their relationship possibilities peeked my interest.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, I’ll consider ur advise. It’s kinda hard setting a different place in a fantasy world. Almost every room in the academy are filled with books, making it a little confusing. I’ll try to modify that.

  5. Bjorn Schievers says:

    I assume you’re foreign, like me, but you have a lot of spelling errors. You won’t get past an editor with those. Your story takes place on a different world, unrelated to Earth, but somehow the characters have Jewish names? To me this was distracting.

    The title intrigued me, which really made me want to check out your story. There are a lot of interesting elements in this opening, which makes it a fun read. I think it’s hugely fascinating that the mc will become an inquisitor tomorrow and I absolutely want to find out what they have to investigate concerning extinct creatures. So this might be very unique. I also liked how they summoned this garden to grow around them and how it was a student playing around. It seems to have a bit of a Harry Potter feel to it, in a good way.

    I also like stories of ancient civilizations and the mystery of their demise. But when you’re giving us the riddle of the lost queens you loose me. I feel like you’re throwing a bit too much at the reader.

    I totally think you have a cool thing going on here, but I think you need a stronger hook and we should get to know your mc better early on. But I definitely think you have something here!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thanks! I want to create a world w/forgotten history so that history would be one of its defining elements. The names are temporary. I luv Jewish names.
    Riddles will be an overarching theme in my story,
    Do you think the execution of the riddle is wrong? I want to improve on that part. Thanks for taking time to read!

    • Bjorn Schievers says:

      I have no comments on the riddle itself till I know the answer. 🙂 But by that time I just felt like oh another thing. I think you need to strengthen the opening a bit, it’s a little confusing now. And the more you add to the mix the harder it becomes to keep up.

  7. April Marie Cox says:

    Honestly, it kind of seems like you started the story too early, like something big is about to happen–I would use that as a hook, but also, I don’t see much about your POV character to draw me in. I mean, I know that he? (I’m assuming he, but I can’t really tell) isn’t good at decrypting runes and wants to go easy on another kid, but I don’t see what the importance of that is to the story overall. Your character doesn’t have enough of a voice–try telling the story in his words–that will hopefully reveal his personality a bit more.

  8. suesauer says:

    Alo :D,

    So I work in the film industry, and if I had to turn this page into thumbnails(storyboard) format it would probably go something like this:

    — first thumbnail—

    Groups of students are goofing around, chuckling, or babbling in this circular quarter, whose walls are buried with layers of bookshelves, and whose lighting came from the four lamps hanging upside down around the rune stone that rests at the center of the room.

    — I draw: wide shot of room, students everywhere. —- I need some idea as the “viewer” where my eye needs to go so… what is my main focus?. I would say the kid reading somewhere in this room right? How do I know who they are by just looking at this one drawing. Do you maybe need to add that to this paragraph?

    — second thumbnail —

    Despite the noise, my mind reels throughout the pages of my book, delving into the rich descriptions of some of the extinct creatures of Ard. I mesmerize on the future of excavating one myself in a lost ancient ruin. After all, tomorrow will be my commissioning. All the sleepless nights studying will have paid off as I become an inquisitor of Aelyorn.

    —– Cut to point of view of the kid reading the book —- So we are looking at the book now, makes sense as a camera cut, but thats not what the character is focusing on so… yeah need something here to show that tomorrow is his last day. Or have that not be in this paragraph, up to you?

    —– third thumbnail —-

    I’m about to flip the other page when suddenly someone casts an incantation to the rune.
    A brazen green light illuminates the whole room. Bulky roots crawl under our chairs carrying along our belongings as it grows. I managed to grab my pouch before the roots bring it under someone’s seat.

    —- camera pull out to show rune magic and roots crawling — nice action here

    and so on….

    Trying to draw out your sequence in this way will help a lot with pace and seeing if what you are writing down works with the main action line of your scene.

    for example:

    My classmate Levi, who is the head of the fourth-meriter prefect of discipline, confronts the first-meriter who was experimenting with the rune stone out of curiosity. He is scratching his head making some excuses while the cool hymn of the trees plays. A group of second-meriter girls murmur something about Levi. They are probably admiring his looks: coal hair, fair complexion and dark-emerald eyes.

    —-this will be hard to draw in one thumbnail— It feels like more then one thing happening at once. It would take three thumbnails. It breaks the flow of the action of the rune magic and introduces a character, now people will get lost or just not care about Levi because they want to know more about the magic.

    Have the kid find the rune user first(source of problem and source of the magic)-thumbnail one, then have him try to find Levi(source of solution and magic control- discipline -)-thumbnail two-, then introduce Levi and his social standing after that-thumb nail three-.

    Just some thoughts, love the riddles and magic \:D/

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