Antissa is the fabled capital city of the ancient Rainbow Empire. It was destroyed when the houses of Granita unleashed the Writhing Death upon the continent and the Emperor ordered the high mages to shatter the lands to contain the threat. Antissa was the epicenter of the quake the high mages created and it dropped into the earth, falling into a huge crater which was then engulfed by the seas in what is now the Lucarcian Straits.
They were in an entrance hall to the Great Library. According to Darian there were seven of these chambers, with seven entrances to the central seat of learning for the whole of the Rainbow Empire – one for each noble house. The hall was long and thin, made from the same grey granite as most of the rest of the structure. The staircase they had swum down was at one end of the hallway and an opening was at the other. There were no other visible exits to this room. Like most of the rest of the University they had seen so far, this corridor area was in ruins. Rubble lay everywhere and if there had once been any wall hangings or furniture of any description they had long since rotted away to nothing.
The opening at the far end of the hallway from where they had come in led on into the Great Library itself. They could almost make out the vaulted ceiling of the huge chamber they had come here to find beyond the arched doorway. But filling that opening was the magical anomaly which Okoth had seen and been unable to understand.
Blue sparks arched across the opening and it was filled with crackling electricity like a mini lightning storm, rooted in the doorway. The lightning did not seem to want to travel anywhere from the entrance way, but anyone wishing to pass into the Great Library would have to pass directly through that fizzling wall of electrical energy.
“Darian?” Kita prompted again.
“What?” asked the thin man, looking up at her from the floor, as if he had only just noticed she was there.
“The charm? Mosi’s theory? Did that make sense to you?” she repeated.
“I’m sorry,” he replied. “I have no idea what you are talking about. I wasn’t listening. Anyway, it doesn’t matter now. We are thwarted at the last step,” he finished disconsolately.
“What do you mean?” asked Okoth.
“The lightning field,” Darian pointed to the crackling energy wall blocking the doorway into the Great Library. “It is a powerful ward, put there by the High Magi some five hundred years ago. There are seven entrances into the Great Library, each one a hall like this. We cannot reach any of the others from this location so this is the only way in. And it is still warded. I never expected this. I never imaged that a warding spell could survive the great quake that split the Rainbow Empire and created the Inner Sea, and furthermore that it could persist for five hundred years after that event. I never planned for this. And I have no idea how to bypass or deactivate such a ward. I have failed.”
“It is too early to give up,” replied Kita, moving forward and running her fingers gently along the dusty leftmost wall of the hallway. “There are some sort of runes here – maybe ancient letters. I can’t read them. Can you, Darian?”
The skeletal man rose unsteadily to his feet. He was clearly still suffering from his ordeal on the swim here. He came to join Kita and looked at the letters she was indicating. “You are right,” he replied. “They are the runic alphabet of the High Magi from five hundred years ago. The language is ancient too, but I am versed in it.”
“What do they say?” the Niten warrior asked.
“Let me see,” said Darian, studying the runes carefully. “Factim ist unti custodian oppositan virtis. Roughly translated that means something like, ‘Passing here uses the opposing power’ – which actually makes some sort of sense. You see each noble house of the Rainbow Empire had an energy type which they specialized in. For example the Ruby House specialized in summoning and controlling fire. Electricity was the energy of the ruling Azure House. But if we need to find the opposite energy to electricity in order to pass through this ward, what is that?” he questioned.
Kita shook her head, unable to offer an answer. Okoth merely shrugged, clearly also being in the dark. This sort of stuff passed way over his head. Kita turned to Mosi to see if he had any ideas. The priest seemed to be far away, looking off into the distance, eyes almost slightly unfocussed, and apparently not listening to the conversation at all. Suddenly the white-robed man blinked twice and his eyes came back into focus. He looked at Darian. “Back in the Translocator room,” he started, “you pointed out that the houses were arranged in a seven-pointed star formation, with each house’s sigil on the end of a different point of the star.”
“That is correct,” agreed Darian.
“On a seven-pointed star, or heptagram, every vertex has two opposite vertices. When this polygon is used to represent the houses in the Rainbow Empire, this means that every noble house has two notionally opposite houses. So perhaps what we should try is the energy of one of the houses in opposition to the Azure house on the seven-pointed star. Happily, the two houses in opposition to the Azure House were the Coral and Citrine Houses and of course I have a relic of the Citrine House here in my hands.”
Whilst the others took a moment to try and understand what Mosi had just told them, the priest took up the golden sun-disk in both hands and muttered a single word of power. A short, sharp burst of golden sunlight jumped out of the centre of the disk and into the lightning field. The arching electrical ward instantly fizzled and died, leaving the way into the Great Library clear for them to enter.
A few seconds of stunned silence followed and then Darian let out a loud cheer as he realised that his dream to enter the place where the ancient Writhing Death had been stopped had come true. “Congratulations, Mosi! That was an amazing piece of insight! I am deeply impressed, and forever in your debt.”
“Good work,” praised Kita. “Truly inspired thinking.” She gave him a curt bow. Okoth merely stepped up and clapped him heartily on the back, almost making Mosi stumble.
Darian led the way and he, Kita and Okoth moved carefully into the Great Library. Behind them Mosi’s eyes went unfocussed once more.