The dark figure walked away just as I reached the landing of the staircase. I called out but the figure moved on. Something told me that there was no point running after the figure. I went up to my room still trying to establish what went on. Moments earlier I was wakened by a strange voice whispering into my ear. When my eyes opened the figure hurried up and out of my room. I jumped out of bed unsure of reality and considered running after him.
But I felt disorientated and knew that a chase would be fruitless. Back in the room I looked around for anything out of the ordinary, for anything that was amiss. Everything seemed perfectly in place. Except for the black envelope at my bedside table. I picked up the envelope cautiously. Printed on the front in an elaborate lettering was my name in gold leaf. I chuckled at a memory of the last time something this weird happened. I was at the temple of knowledge and my orientation included secret messages left by strange characters at strange times.
I opened the envelope and instantly realised from the mark on the contents that this was no game.
There were rumours about the search throughout the land. The High Priest of Callum had died quiet unexpectedly, and although no one admitted it, his death was not natural. Something dark was slowly moving over the land but people were too afraid to talk about it, to admit that something could endanger the Land of Callum. The Knights of light, the warrior priests, stood guard over the land and its people for centuries and, except for the odd internal disputes, there was never any threat to the kingdom. With the high priest dead, things looked very bleak. The Knights were left without a leader, without a wielder of the Luminos, the great staff of light. No heir had been chosen for the to succeed the high priest and it was well known that none in the order proved worthy for the Luminos could only be activated by a chosen.
When the knights were unsuccessful, a search began among all inhabitants of Callum to find the next high priest.
I looked at the card in my hand, embossed in the card were the cardinal points of a compass with a star in the centre, the sign of the Knights of Light. The mark of the Knights was not something passed around lightly. My heart raced at the possible implications. Fear and uncertainty grew within my heart. I read the letter.
Matthew, son of Cayne, recognized master of the arts, are requested to present yourself before the order of the Knights of Light at the temple of Light at midnight five days hence.
That was all that the card said. Why did the Knights want to see me, a player of music and creator of art?
The following five days were highly uneasy. I milled over the possibilities behind the invitation and could find no answers. I told no one about this invitation, it was a common lore that all private contact with the Knights must remain secret. An hour before midnight I set out for the temple of light, as I moved through the night my beating heart desecrated the silence of the night.
I arrived at the Temple moments before the stipulated time. I was greeted by the gatekeepers as I entered. The respect granted to me, left me confused. I walked through the halls of the great temple feeling quite insignificant in comparison to the images of the Great High Priests that adorned the walls. The sanctum sanctorum was aglow as I entered.
“Welcome Matthew, son of Cayne.” I was greeted by the regal Knight at the far end of the shrine.
Standing along the perimeter of the shrine were all the knights of light, all standing in the white habits and carrying a silver blade with a golden hilt. I fell to my knee as was customary.
“Greetings to the Knights of Light, Lords and protectors of the Kingdom of Callum.”
“Rise, Matthew son of Cayne, for today we are equals. We Knights have been watching you for some time now even before the High Priest and Supreme Lord Den died. We believe that you would make a great knight, and sense a great power in you that is waiting to be awakened.” The knight who spoke looked at me for a while then continued.
“We are offering you a place among us. You will attain knowledge and power likened to the ancient Gods. You will have no expenses and represent the law of the land. The temple will be your home, among us.”
My silence left a look of dejection on the face of the knight.
“Matthew,” from behind me another of the Knights spoke. He however commanded more authority as he spoke and moved towards me. “I am Kreunon, commander of the Knights. I shall be honest with you, this is not a simple request. With the responsibility of being a Knight comes great sacrifice. The rumours are true. Den our high lord was killed. The darkness is real and has penetrated our very towers. All who have showed potential are being called in for we believe that a war is coming. Not for a thousand years has such an event passed. Den was unable to name an heir. Our major Light and protection, the Luminos lies dormant and in wait for its new master. You are one of many that we believe could be the chosen.”
I stood silent all through the Knights’ monologue. Too much in shock to move my tongue.
“We shall leave you to think this over on your own. Meditate on this request within this shrine. If you choose to join us there is a parcel waiting for you over there,” he pointed to the neat white package on the pedestal at the extreme right of the shrine. If you decline our offer, you are free to simply walk away. I must tell you though, that we require an answer from you before the sun rises. The reason, for now, is of no relevance to you. We shall leave you now and pray that the Light of the Ancient Gods guide you.”
I was left alone in the massive shrine, the words of the Knights echoing in my mind. I closed my eyes and took in a deep breath still convinced that none of this was real.
The light of the rising sun pierced through the ornate windows of the temple. I heard the three sets footsteps approach. They stopped abruptly at the entrance to the shrine.
“Go, tell the others, we have a new brother and hope.” Kreunon spoke to one his companions. The congregation of Knights surrounded me. I stood at the centre of the great shrine.
My life was about to change, all that I possessed was the white habit that was given to me. The new me, my new life, my new identity.