THE YEARS OF THE MORNING LIGHT
‘Grand Prince Nevin, the nineteenth of this name, of The Morning Light, with Martial Excellence, Sagacious Wisdom, and Forward Insight, whose given name was Akra at birth, the third son of his mother Kamaria, and his father the Grand Prince Nevin the eighteenth, of the honorable Clan Nevin, descendants of the Emperors of Old, hereby decreed;
On the eighteenth day of the third month of his ascension year (1st Morning Light), the Grand Principality of Navsland will ascend into the world stage and join the nations of the four-cornered world (Eras), for the advancement and the betterment of his subjects.
On this fateful day, he joins his fellow princes in a show of camaraderie- ‘
‘That’s enough about the day don’t you think? No point in wasting more ink on this drivel that no one is gonna read.’
Jina paused in her writing and felt her train of thought disturbed. She looks up in annoyance at the source of her distraction and sighed.
‘The point of writing in detail is for the later generations to remember and to consult in times of need. Do not forget that our teacher once said- ‘
‘That to peak into the future, one need only a glimpse into the past. I know, I know... ’ interrupts Chiku. Rolling her eyes, she continued collecting the parchment strewed over the floor. ‘But what’s there to write about a bunch of old men agreeing to announce themselves to the world? It's frivolous at best, and there is nothing about it to be consulted about.’
‘That is not for us to decide. For all we know, today might just be the start of a new beginning.’ Jina said. Though I guess she’s got a point. This is just another one of those games the nobility love to play. No one is going to read this.
Jina places her quill back into her inkwell. She blew on her parchment lightly and when she was satisfied with how the ink has dried, she rolled it gently and passed it to Chiku. She rubbed her weary eyes and looked out of the window. The stars that blanket the skies seem to stretch to infinity; a beautiful sight to behold in the otherwise gloomy capital.
What a peaceful night, she thought. She squinted her eyes as a gentle breeze blew past her, the candle flame of her table lamp danced to the hymns of the wind.
‘How I wish we have one of those computers.’ Chiku said. ‘I heard with just one of those things, we can keep a million of these parchments. Wouldn’t that make our lives so much easier?’
‘And what use would there be for us then? If what you say is true, then wouldn’t all of us be slowly replaced by this, computer?’ Jina scoffed. It took her years of apprenticeship to get to where she is today, a scribe of the Elewisa. If this, computer, could write and store everything here in the Elewisa, then for what purpose did she slaved away under her teacher’s endless scolding and supervision?
She pondered awhile at the subject and shake her head. I guess it really wouldn’t matter to me. After all, it will probably take another decade before the princes would allow something as ‘magical’ as a computer to be used by the rest of us.
‘Hey if you are about done, let's go back and get some dinner already! I’m starving.’ Chiku pats her stomach. ‘It’s already half past the fourth quarter, and if we don’t hurry, we'll have to sleep with our stomach empty for the night.’
Jina smiled. She had known Chiku ever since their apprenticeship together. Being younger than Jina, she had an almost childlike outlook on life, and she is a glutton to boot. But as gluttonous as she was, Chiku had always waited for her to have their meals together. I wonder why she still looks so small, Jina thought, surely all that food has to go somewhere, right? She looks down at her own stomach and noticed a small protruding figure from her robe. A tinge of jealousy slowly well up inside her, but she pushed it down as soon as it began.
‘Yeah, let’s go!’
Even though it has been hours since the sun has set, Jina could still see the many candlelight flickering through the curtains of the rooms she walked past. Each candlelight means a pair of Lesser Scribes working on their tale, their passion for their craft could be heard from the pride in their voice as they discussed the various subjects to cover for the day. She could not help but smile at the sight of her fellow scribes at work; her belief that her efforts were worth it, firmly reinforced.
‘Ahhhhh. Now that was satisfying’ Chiku said. She let out a small burp as she pats herself on her stomach.
‘Too bad they have already run out of Pao. We could have sneak them out and eat them for supper.’ Jina said. She licked her lips at the thought of savoring the Pao she had a couple of nights ago. A pity indeed.
‘We can always have them next time! And besides, it was your fault that we had our dinner late...’ Chiku pouted. ‘Tomorrow, we’re going my time!’
Jina giggled and pinched Chiku’s cheek playfully. ‘Okay, okay. Now let’s hurry back and get back to work.’
‘Nooooo…’ Chiku brushed Jina’s hands from her cheek and ran. ‘I don’t wanna go back to work.’
Jina smiled and chased after Chiku. Their laughter echo throughout the candlelit hallway and attracted onlookers who peered through the curtains of their room. Their merrymaking brought a smile on the faces of their fellow scribes and a slight frown on the faces of their betters. They tugged at each other sleeves and let out small cries of joy when they caught each other by the arm. As they frolic about, unaware of their surroundings, a hunched figure crept out of the corner of the hallway. Chiku who was running at full speed did not notice the figure coming out of the corner and ran straight into it, falling on the ground with a loud thud.
'Oww...' She cried. Jina who was chasing after her came up to her from behind and lifted her by the arm. She readied herself for a scolding and was about to apologize when she stopped; Her blood ran cold at the sight of the figure whom she had just recognize.
'Prince Atatu...' Chiku gasped. She too had just realized the gravity of the situation and hurriedly ran to lift the fallen prince off the ground.
'Do not touch anything!' he screamed. The two scribes then prostrate themselves as low as they could, their heads touching the floor in a show of reverence and fear. The prince slowly dusted himself off, not uttering a single word. He checks the box that had fallen on the ground and its content, breathing a sigh of relief with what he had seen. He then carried the box in his arms once more and stood before the two scribes.
'Your ranks and names?' asked the prince.
'Lower scribe of the elewisa, third grade, Jina!'
'Lower scribe of the elewisa, third grade, Chiku!'
'Your servants are at your service!' they shouted in unison.
'I have remembered your ranks and names, and if you any inkling of what had happened you will forget about it.' the prince said with an indistinguishable tone. 'This incident did not happen.' he then hurriedly left the two scribes and continued on his way.
Jina and Chiku remained in their position until the sound of his footsteps could no longer be heard before lifting their heads. They look at each other with their tear-stained faces and breathed a great sigh of relief. Jina help Chiku get off the ground and was about to give her some words of comfort before a thunderous boom came from the direction of the Princely Palace. Jina shook away the aftereffects of the shockwave and ran towards the closest window she could find. Black smoke now covers the skies of the capital, and deep down in her heart, she knew that a storm was coming.