Authors: Amanda May Bell
THE BRASS PENDANT TRILOGY BY A. M. BELL
BOOK ONE: TRAVELLER
It was evening, and I watched my tutor glance surreptitiously at her pendant before she took a history parchment from the bottom of the pile on my desk. She pressed her fingers nervously against the crumpled, slightly shiny surface of the well-worn page, and I watched her as she attempted to lay the parchment flat against its will. It wasn’t about to be tamed though. Instead, the mottled page insisted on curling defiantly at both ends, and she soon gave up her fight. My tutor frowned impatiently and she was forced to lay one hand firmly upon the parchment as she adjusted the only light in the room. The light came from a small cylinder which stood vertically upon the desk top, and my tutor turned it so that its soft glow shone directly onto the neat script in front of her. Before she began to read, she cleared her throat, and she fidgeted with the edges of the parchment again too, but, as her husky voice filled the silence of my study, she appeared to relax a little, and her voice soon settled into a familiar, mellow rhythm.
“Once, on the circle of time, there were two magnificent cities on the edge of the sea. One, was the city of Aldiris, and the other, was the city of Denboris. The two cities were separated by a river which flowed between them into the ocean and each city shared the bounties of the river’s many gifts. It was a time of peace in the lands surrounding them, and so, rather than having to fight wars and train armies, the people of each city were able to spend their time in the pursuit of knowledge. They theorised and hypothesised, and when they tested their theories many great discoveries were made. As peace times continued, the two cities shared their knowledge with each other as well, just as they shared the river running steadily between them. Both the scholars from Aldiris and the scholars from Denboris met together regularly, and in those meetings, they spoke reverently about what they’d discovered about the mysteries of earth and space. It was a time of great learning, and of even greater discoveries, and it was in the midst of those years that the scholars realised that, between them, they’d discovered a way to travel through time.
This, of course, was an opportunity for both the city of Aldiris, and for the city of Denboris, to discover even more of the earth’s mysteries, and together, they set about perfecting their time travelling techniques. They began by crafting brass pendants to harness the energy they needed to travel through time, and they used complicated algorithms and equations to pinpoint the exact positions where this energy was at its greatest. These positions were called
and the Aldirites, and the Denborites, found that there were markers located in different time segments all over the earth’s surface. They also noted that sometimes these markers were clustered together in groups. Of course, time travel itself was bound by these markers, so their exact locations were very important and, as these markers were painstakingly worked out by the early scholars, their positions were recorded meticulously in a special book. Over time, this book became known as the
Book of Markers
and it was so precious, it was housed in a golden tower built in the middle of the main bridge between the two flourishing cities.
During those early days, one of the most important things the scholars discovered was that time itself was not a straight line. Time, it was found, moved constantly in a circle, and so, as time advanced in the two cities, so time advanced at markers too. As a year went by, a marker located in the year of 340 eventually became a marker located in the year of 341, and in the same manner, a marker located in the year 1035 eventually became a marker located in the year 1036. Time turned constantly, no matter where you were located on its circle, and because of this, the early scholars determined that it would never be possible to travel through time to the same moment at the same marker more than once.
Time continued to turn, and those scholars who’d worked out the complicated formula for time travel recorded many hundreds of markers in the special book. More time turned, and when the scholars determined that they knew all there was to know about safe travel, it became customary for those belonging to the Royal House of each city to make regular quests into the past. The first of our time travellers were called
and it was established that all those born in the Royal House would join the quest. The children of the Royals, the nobles, and their servants, started their training at a young age, and when they were old enough, they became the questers who made the journeys into the past in search of new discoveries, riches and knowledge. The questers learnt much from the ancient tribes scattered around the globe and they studied the plants and animals of the past as well. They bought seeds, materials and technology back with them whenever they travelled…… and both Aldiris and Denboris flourished.
Although many future markers were recorded in the book, only a few brave souls attempted to travel there. Unlike the past, where ancient maps and historical documents were available to help pinpoint whether a marker was safe, the future was a venture into the complete unknown. Not only could a quester find themselves dropped into the middle of a battle, or a plague, or a natural disaster of some kind, but the scholars also warned of another much worse possibility. The scholars had worked out that travel into a new marker from a year
equal to it
greater than it
, rendered that marker permanently stable, but travelling to a new marker from a year
than it, didn’t have this effect. The scholars theorised that some future markers could be naturally stable, and would therefore be able to be entered, but they had no way of telling which of the markers were stable and which were not. So, while travelling back in time was always safe, travelling into the future was a deadly gamble. If a quester were to travel to an unstable marker they would find themselves thrown into a bottomless drop……...a place between time points where there would be no arrival and from which there was no return. Not only did few take the risk but, of those who did, only two brave souls ever returned.
One of those two future questers was a member of the Royal House of the city of Aldiris and the other was a member of the Royal House of the city of Denboris, and although the pair travelled to two different markers located on opposite sides of the earth, those markers were both in the same time segment and that time segment was in the far distant future. Not only were these questers lucky enough to have travelled to naturally stable markers, they each returned with the same stories of abandoned, empty Kingdoms surrounded by fertile lands, plentiful clear water, and abundant animals for the hunt. Naturally, there was great excitement in both Aldiris and Denboris, and a note was made immediately beside these two future points in the Book of Markers. The note proclaimed the two marker settings to be both safe and naturally stable.
Now, it was only a few days after these two future questers miraculously returned that a disaster of epic proportions struck the two great cities.
A dark, tumultuous cloud appeared on the horizon and, as it covered the sun with its raging ominous mass, it whipped up the seas beneath it into enormous, destructive waves. The earth shook as the raging cloud approached and there was panic in both cities as the people ran into the streets.
Immediately, the senior members of the Royal Houses of each city met together in the golden tower on the bridge, and they sat around the Book of Markers to decide how best to save their people. They talked and argued, and called in their greatest minds but, as the seas grew angrier and the river raged beneath the bridge, the Royal families realised there was no hope against the advancing cloud, and it soon became apparent that their only means of escape was going to be a drop through time.
Unfortunately, only those who lived and worked in the Royal Houses wore the pendants that made time travel possible, and the Kings and Queens who met in the golden tower on that terrible day were broken hearted because they knew most of their people would not survive. It was a solemn time, but it was decided that each Royal household would save themselves in order to preserve the achievements and discoveries of their beloved race.
Some suggested they should return to markers in the past and live out their lives in the safety of history, but others reminded them that, eventually, their offspring would once again face this terrible cloud. And so, after much debate, it was decided that the inhabitants of each Royal house would travel to each of the two future markers which had been proven to be stable. It was decided that they would make a new start in the abandoned kingdoms where a new and undecided future would then be theirs.
Outside, the cloud was advancing very quickly; much more quickly than anyone had predicted, and when they left the golden tower, the Royals looked up to find the mass of cloud and the rising, raging waters beneath it was nearly upon them. The two Kings didn’t hesitate. Both, immediately, rushed back inside the tower to rescue the Book of Markers. The King of Aldiris reached it first but, as he left the tower, he was overcome by the King of Denboris who tried desperately to take it from his hands. They fought over the precious book and, as the cloud of destruction outside continued towards them, the book was torn in two so that each King fled with only half of the Book of Markers clutched in his hands.
By the time the Kings returned to their Palaces and made their way to the time travel markers in their cities, they had only just enough time to make their drop. While the sky raged, they travelled through time with their entire families, and all their nobles and servants, and their families as well. They travelled into the future and, behind them, both of their great cities were tragically lost, to the raging sky and the rapidly rising sea…………..
And so it was that the survivors of each city lived on different sides of the earth in a far distant future and the circle of time continued to turn. For two hundred years, neither the Denborites nor the Aldirites travelled through time at all. They concentrated, instead, on building their Kingdoms and cultivating their lands, and they produced many children to continue their kind. Soon, two great Kingdoms arose and, although some of their knowledge had been lost to the terrible cloud, they attempted to keep the ways and traditions of their old cities in order to preserve their greatness. After another hundred years passed, each Kingdom had a thriving community and a strong Royal House, and at almost the same time, both the Denborites and the Aldirites decided it was time to restart the tradition of the time travel quests. Once again, only the children of the Royal House and the children of its servants were eligible for quest training and, as had always been their way, training began with a drop through time.
In both the new kingdom of Aldiris and the new kingdom of Denboris, the markers in the Book had been turning over year by year, and some that would once have been safe now fell in the time around the destruction of the two cities. These markers were immediately black listed in each half of the Book, and the black day of our Destruction was recorded in each half too so as to remind future generations to avoid this day and those that followed. It was decided by both Kingdoms that a hundred years
the dark day should be avoided and a thousand years
it should be avoided too. No one knew for sure how long it had taken the cloud to spread across the earth and reach our cities, nor did they know how long it had taken for the seas to drop and the earth to recover. The time segment that covered this time in our earth’s history became known as the
, and both the Aldirites and the Denborites declared time travel into this era to be strictly forbidden.
So, the new generation of questers carefully explored some of the many markers that now lay in their past and, as such, were now stable. They travelled into new and exciting eras, and they bought back ancient writings, maps, and texts to help keep their questers safe as they cautiously journeyed to more and more of these markers.
Time continued to turn, and time continued to turn at each marker too, and as it had been in the time of their ancient cities, the Book of Markers was constantly updated. Markers moved into the black era, or moved from safe times to undesirable times, such as times of war or plague. Many notes were made beside the markers and, for both the new Kingdom of Aldiris and the new Kingdom of Denboris, their half of the Book of Markers once again became their most valued procession. It was even more valuable now than it had been when it was housed in the golden tower, and this wasn’t just because there were more past markers that could be safely used; this was because no
markers could be added to either half of the book. All of the scholars had perished in the destruction of the ancient cities, and most unfortunately for the new Kingdoms, the complicated formula for working out markers had also been lost along with them.
So, each Kingdom explored the markers recorded in their half of the Book, and it was in that time of new travel that the Aldirites and the Denborites once again made contact with each other. By now, of course, the two Kings who had fought over the Book of Markers had long since left the earth, so a tentative truce was called. But, both the Aldirites and the Denborites set up security around their border markers, and across the time circle, both Kingdoms set guards at their most frequently used markers as well.
Time turned, and both Aldiris and Denboris flourished, and time travel once again become an integral part of their way of life. The questers from each Kingdom travelled constantly and they returned to their lands with raw materials essential to the running of their kingdoms, and with any new discoveries that might enhance their lives. The Aldirites were great warriors and, as they travelled through the circle of time, they continued to honour the traditions of their illustrious past. The Denborites, however, soon forgot the traditions forged by their ancestors and, as more time turned, they became known as thieves, and they cheated and swindled riches from everyone they met. They bought dishonour to the names of the old cities by the nature of their quests, and eventually, the Aldirites felt obliged to declare war against the Denborites and we also made it our quest to take their ill-gotten riches, whenever possible, from their thieving hands.”