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The Riddle Library
The Book Of Symbols - Book One
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-149-8
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Young Adult
eBook Length: 160 Pages
Published: December 2013

From inside the flap

Pangaea is a world of dreams and fantasy, where gods are prone to mix with humans, and twisted myths unfold in ever stranger ways as the world struggles to find balance in time and space. When Pangaea is threatened by lord Erebus, fate calls upon a prophecised Earth child, Sherem, to solve the Enigma and set out on his quest to save Pangaea. Aided by a prophetic Book of Symbols and a powerful staff called the Caduceus, Sherem is joined by the twin gods Apollo and Artemis to set off and find the mysterious Lapis.

Meanwhile lord Erebus has set a trap for Sherem as he needs the Caduceus to unlock the gates of Hades and unleash his mother Nyx, the goddess of darkness and chaos thereby killing all living things.

With the safety of the world and all their lives in the balance, Sherem must draw on his inner strength to spark the allegiance of the Caduceus and prevent total destruction.

The Riddle Library (Excerpt)


I

'Science comes to a stop at the frontiers of logic, but nature does not - she thrives on ground as yet untrodden by theory.'

C.G.Jung

To be born a god, one must have knowledge of all things. How this comes to be, nobody knows for certain. Some say Zeus himself is the key, others say that it is a natural thing born of space and time, but truth be told, such knowledge remains a well-guarded secret and is beyond the grasp of ordinary human beings.

This is the story of one such ordinary person, Sherem. From the outside you would think Sherem was just like every other teenager, a bit too awkward, far too self-conscious, and he would have been too... if not for his keen mind and observant nature. His father Sebastian was a world famous philosopher who had several bestselling books on Alchemy, Mythology and Archetypes but he was best known for his writings on the Psychology of Dreams. Sebastian was so successful that he often travelled the world promoting his books and intriguing audiences with his unique perspective on life. So it's not surprising, that like his father, Sherem was a bit of a free thinker. He wasn't prone to follow trends or traditions. In fact, he was much more likely to resist such things.

The father and son were close and spent a lot of time together and although they often expressed their philosophical polarities, they were as close as a father and son could be.

Like his father, Sherem was a tall boy with wavy blonde hair. However, unlike his father, these features were sadly accompanied by a weak, lanky body with little energy for sport and no enthusiasm for socialising. People often commented that he was the spitting image of his father, which was something that annoyed him. But thankfully he did have a few distinguishing features. On his left shoulder he had a dark brown birthmark, which was often mistaken for a tattoo. To Sherem the birthmark looked like an ordinary circle, but to his father it looked like a snake. He could never understand how his father saw it that way.

More obvious than the birthmark was the fact that his eyes were two different colours. His left eye was brown and changed from a deep dark brown to light brown in the sun while his right eye had settled into a pale blue. His eyes often drew curious stares and compliments from complete strangers. Initially he hated the attention, but, with time, he grew to cherish his uniqueness. And making his eyes stand out even more, he had dark brown, almost black eyebrows contrasting his fair hair. This combination made his facial expressions animated and often intense. He was the sort of boy who was easy to read... particularly if he was angry. Although he was moderately popular at school and had a couple of close friends, Sherem liked to spend a lot of time alone, preferring to read or examine his one true passion in life... his dreams.

He was unusually talented when it came to dreams. Every morning he would wake up and write down the previous night's dreams in the greatest detail. Sometimes he could recall up to four dreams at once and would write them down both chronologically and with colourful, descriptive language. The record for pages spent on a single dream sequence was twelve, a fact that dumbfounded his father. Much of Sherem's spare time was invested in his dreams and trying to figure out their meanings. Little did he know that his rare talent would unravel a hidden world and change his life forever! It all started with an extraordinary dream.

*

There was a distant beating of drums. He was aware that he was asleep, and could feel his eyes darting around beneath his eyelids, a sure sign or REM which meant that he was seeing things, even with his eyes closed. The REM confirmed that he was deep within a dream. It was always an exciting prospect; it meant that he was entering a limitless world of possibilities. Going with the dream he opened his eyes and was surprised to be surrounded by darkness, his body felt soft and a cool breeze blew through his hair and relaxed him. Moments later he was aware of being swept along by a wind, floating high above the ground.

The drums continued to beat and grew so loud that Sherem felt his body shake. A thunderous roar sounded above his head like a crack of thunder and lightning danced around him but he wasn't scared. When the flashes stopped he became aware of a dim light in the distance. As he advanced towards the light a vast landscape was slowly revealing itself below.

The light came from a castle nestled atop a giant and menacing mountain which pierced the clouds like a hot knife through butter. The castle was ancient with an aura of magic. Its pillars and archways were carved from white stone which glowed with a brilliant light and somehow vibrated like a heartbeat. It reminded Sherem of a grand church, only unlike a church this castle had four huge statues of women at each corner stretching high into the sky, standing on extended columns. The light from the castle shone up at the statues, emphasising the unique colour. Tiny mirrors were designed to fracture the light through the statues before a concentration of light shone from the fingers thereby pointing out the four directions. Sherem correctly guessed that the statues were acting as compass points for the land below.

He glided over the wall of the castle above a rock garden where sweet smelling frangipanis and freesias invited him to join them. In the middle of the garden was a grand fountain rising up twelve meters from the ground. It had the same statues as outside of the castle, only this time they were pointing up to the fountain head where the water was flowing with a mixture of yellow and red rose petals.

When Sherem touched down in the rock garden a current surged through his body leaving him feeling extremely strong and alert. His confidence sky rocketed and he was certain that with his will power he could make anything happen. He wanted to find somebody to talk to and help him understand the significance of his dream. As soon as he thought this, a boy appeared in the corner of the garden. This confirmed to him the truth of his power, but as he walked over to the boy he was shocked to find the boy was covering his face and weeping.

His newfound confidence deserted him. He went to talk to the boy but the boy faded away into nothing. A grandfather clock appeared in the corner where the boy was. The loud ticking made Sherem feel awkward and afraid. He didn't know what to do or how to wake up from the dream and started to feel tears of panic well up in his eyes.

The clock disappeared and Sherem's attention was drawn to an old man walking out from behind the fountain. The man was at least three meters tall and was wearing a flowing white robe with gold trimmings running down the side and along the bottom. He had silver hair cut straight at his shoulders and on his upper back just below his shoulders were two awkward looking bumps, moving slowly in circles. The man had an aura of serenity and Sherem's fears momentarily subsided. The man sat down on the edge of the fountain so he could greet Sherem face to face. His eyes were an intoxicating swirl of deep purple, as alluring as a full moon in a darkened sky. Not surprisingly Sherem had always been fascinated with eye colour and the purple eyes were something altogether new, even more unique than his. They drew him towards the man as though they had their own gravitational pull.

Sherem wasn't scared, but his mind buzzed with questions. Who is he? Why am I here? Why am I drawn to his eyes? He didn't voice these concerns, but the man responded as though he had asked them directly.

'I am Senex Cronus, guardian of this land which is called Pangaea, the land of balance.' Senex spoke with the natural grace of an orator.

'Why am I here?' he asked as he sat by the fountain.

Senex beckoned Sherem to get up and follow him out of the garden. The giant man moved as if he were gliding rather than walking. He led Sherem down a tall corridor, which he suspected was designed to fit Senex's huge frame. It opened up to a large balcony decorated with more ornate statues and vines wrapping themselves around a number of huge pillars. The pillars were supporting one of the huge statues above. Sherem could just see the green toes of the statue hanging over the edge above.

Most of the clouds had cleared up so Senex gave Sherem some binoculars to examine the world below. The sun had pierced the horizon, painting the remaining clouds in a golden light and revealing the true beauty of Pangaea. The land stretched as far as the eye could see, thick forests undulated across a landscape that rose into mountains and then dipped into colourful fields and valleys and finally, flowed into rivers and small lakes. The sweet songs of the mountain birds mingled with the explosive sounds of the wild animals below and the far off rumble of cascading waters. Pangaea was coming to life and the view was breathtaking.

Near the bottom of the mountain directly below them was another castle that looked as though it was made entirely of glass. The sun shone through every wall of the glass castle creating a shimmering prism of light, flickering all the way up the mountain.

What puzzled Sherem the most about Pangaea was the curious mix of colours. They were unlike anything he had seen. In places he could see patches of yellow or pink grass and the trees didn't fashion themselves with standard brown and green. It almost looked as though the trees were competing in their own fashion show. Each tree had its own individual taste and style. Some were bright blue with stripes of crimson red whilst others chose to decorate themselves in every colour imaginable all at once. Sherem got the feeling that the trees were like chameleons, painting themselves in colours to match their surroundings. And while everything was bright and lively, Pangaea somehow remained perfectly logical.

'This is the south part of Pangaea. It's mostly forest. If all goes according to plan you will come to know it well,' Senex said.

'What am I meant to do here, sir?'

'My young friend, first you must pass a test to see if you are the one. If you succeed, your quest in Pangaea will begin. You would then be required to find the Lapis.''Lapis? What's a Lapis? Is it a type of prize?'

Sherem sat down on a small statue that took the shape of a chair and then rose off the ground so he could get a better view of the land. A smile broadened on Senex's face. Sherem guessed that the Lapis wasn't a prize.

'You will know what the Lapis is only when you find it.' Said Senex as he sat down on a statue chair and rose up to meet Sherem. Senex pointed out an enormous orange oak tree which looked larger than anything Sherem had ever seen. 'The thing that you seek shall be longer lasting than a prize. In fact it is not unlike that oak tree.'

'But this is just a dream right? Finding this Lapis thing isn't going to matter.'

'That's for you do decide. The Lapis is a symbolic name for what you seek. There are many descriptions of the Lapis and much more speculation. But any absolute description would be deceptive. Unfortunately, that is as helpful as I can be.' Senex's seat lowered back down to the balcony. Sherem's followed closely behind.

'If you are the one, you will be asked to solve many problems, some of which will involve hazardous journeys. You will also be facing dangers that you cannot run away from. In many cases it will be a matter of life and death! But fear not... you will have help.'

In the corner of the balcony, Sherem noticed a gold cylinder about a half a meter high. He swore it wasn't there when they first arrived. Senex noticed him staring at the cylinder.

'Ahh, speaking of help,'

Senex bent down and picked up the cylinder. He was a picture of concentration as he cautiously unscrewed the top. Something flew out and with age-defying reflexes Senex grabbed it as it was about to fly away. He held it up for Sherem to have a closer look. It was a golden staff just over half a meter high with two tiny white wings at the top flapping madly about as if they found it insulting to be held in such a manor.

It was a hard task holding the staff, as it continually changed its angles in an attempt to slip from his hand, but his reflexes continued to impress, and he would grab the staff with his long arms whenever it escaped his grasp. Sherem caught enough of a look to distinctly read the word 'Hermes' engraved neatly down its side. The name was familiar, but for the moment he couldn't place it.

'This staff is the wand of balance. If you are the one and are lucky enough to come across it, it will become a part of you.'

Senex held the staff over the balcony and released it into the wild. Sherem watched keenly as it flew off, feeling slightly disappointed that he didn't have a chance to hold it himself.

'What did you say it was again?'

Senex put the empty cylinder on the ground then bent down and whispered in Sherem's ear,

'CADUCEUS'

Senex's breath swept through Sherem's body like a burst of energy. A feeling of warmth and peace enveloped him and at once relaxed him and emptied his mind. One word echoed in his thoughts, Caduceus, Caduceus, Caduceus.

'Don't forget now,' Senex clicked his fingers, snapping Sherem out of his trance like state.

'Caduceus,' how could he forget?' It was as if Sherem had known the word since time began. His attention then turned back to the forest. He had forgotten to watch where the Caduceus had landed.

'Now young man, you must return to the other world. I ask that you write down all that you have seen and heard. Remember it well. Soon you will face a test to see if you are the herald.'

Sherem was disappointed, he wasn't sporty or athletic and when it came to fighting he would rather draw on his reasoning to avoid it. If anything he was just a dreamer and what use is a dreamer?

'Who do you think I am, Senex?' He was fidgeting nervously with his hands, it was only a matter of time before Senex realised he had made a mistake.

Senex shook his head and smiled, waving his hand majestically above Sherem's head. 'It's an Enigma Sherem... a riddle.'

Sherem felt faint as his body fell backwards, yet he didn't land hard on the ground as expected. Instead he was lifted up with the wind and taken from the castle. As he looked back he could see Senex on the edge of the balcony mouthing something. The words travelled to him as clearly as if Senex were right next to him.

'You are the Psychopompos, Oneiocopompus... the one true Son of the Philosophers'

Sherem felt the wind pick up. It spun him around faster and faster until the land below blurred into nothingness.