Archive for June, 2005

Chapter the Fifth

Posted in Uncategorized on June 22, 2005 by legolasandfrodo

 

            Chapter the Fifth – The Departure of the King                  

              

           “I am called 'Eradrim' and I started for Carasul five days ago, ere the new moon was old with two others on the swiftest horses in the region. Three days before we were assailed by a great host of the Mountain Jackals, and my two companions were slain and I only barely escaped from them; the wrath of the mountains has been awakened.”

           “That is sore news,” said Jaylon, “and I am grieved to hear of the death of your companions, I do not wonder your lord has want of counsel.”

               “Elaran has only five days since fought a great battle on the borders of the Forest, and every hour we linger here wastes precious time, we must move.”

               “Yes, I will dispatch a courier with the token at once,” said Jaylon, rising and opening the door.

               “Nay,” replied Eradrim, “trust nought but yourself or one of my kindred; there is power in that seal.” 

               “As you say,” replied Jaylon, handing the leaf back to Eradrim, “Take it to the Lord Thargon. And let me accompany thee, I pray.” They walked out into the night air in the direction of the Tower of Carasul where the king waited for the return of his son.

               They came to the gate of the Tower and the guards saluted to the prince and let them pass. As they walked into the courtyard and then through a wide gate that led into an inner courtyard Eradrim noticed a large sparkling fountain pouring forth sheets of water from the carven likeness of a swan. Through the court they passed to a large gilded gate with a carving of a white swan done in ivory over the top of it. The edges of the gate were lined with gold and the gate itself was overlaid in silver, pounded into a relief of hundreds of swans, perfect in every feather. Jaylon uttered a password and the doors opened silently. Through a long hall with two rows of pillars, each overlaid with silver and bearing no design, they passed. They arrived at a great double door, with no mark on it, and there they halted. Jaylon opened the doors and revealed a large, long arched room. The walls of it were all of silver, likewise was the ceiling, and all along the hall torches were lit in their brackets, casting shadows about the room and lighting up the smooth walls. At the far end of the room there was a chair, mounted upon a dais, made of gold and silver and the arms were lined with diamonds. Upon it sat a man, with a circlet of gold upon his head. His hair was golden and he had the look of authority and courage. He

looked troubled, as if he bore many years, but his face showed little signs of aging.

               When they entered they found him conversing with a young woman dressed in silk gauze who took a place behind the chair at the appearance of the newcomers.

               “My Lord,” said Jaylon addressing the king, “A messenger from Elaran, of the Northern Mountains, bears a token from the Lord of the Arakun.” Eradrim advanced and knelt on one knee at the steps of the dais. He held out the cypress leaf. The king's hand trembled as he took it; he brought it up to his face and read the seal with wonder. At last he turned his gaze from it and muttered, “So, the time has come at last. The shadows have enveloped the world, there is little time. Little did I know this would happen in my day.” Turning to Eradrim he raised his voice and said, “I will ride with you tomorrow to the mountains.”

               “Sir,” replied Eradrim, much time has been wasted in the passes. Forgive my audacity, but if you see the need, you will ride tonight.”

               “I do,” replied the king, “we will ride tonight.”

               Jaylon started up from where he had been standing and approached the dais. “I will come with you my father.” The faintest line of a smile broke on the king's face, “I believe, my son,” he began, “that if I were to go to the very interior of the Accursed Land across the Sea, you would beg to come with me. You are young, but I believe the time is indeed ripe to try your skill; you may come with me.”

               “Indeed, he would,” the woman behind the chair spoke for the first time, and her voice, like her name, was like the dawn coming over the mountains, bathing the world in its rays. But Jaylon averted his eyes from hers. “And he is not the only subject among your kingdom who would be loathe to leave you. My Lord, let me accompany you. Neither do I wish to part from you.”

               The king sighed, “Raora, O Dawn, you lighten my heart with your words, and I do not doubt your loyalty. But a counsel of war is no place for a woman, and the journey across the mountains is indeed perilous.” The woman retreated into the shadows and made no further supplication.

               Thargon rose from his seat and stood before the woman, with his hands on her quavering shoulders. “I will be gone for one moon, Raora, expect me on the first of Antril,* with the crescent moon. While I am gone I leave you in charge of handling the matters of my kingdom. I do not expect you will have trouble, but if there are problems that do not befit a maiden to handle, then call upon my nephew, Galimir. He is trustworthy and noble. Now, as Eradrim has bidden us leave this night, we must hasten. Farewell.”

               “Come, Eradrim, we must gather what company we may in the time haste allows.” He went out through the door with Eradrim following him, his head held high, and his silver locks draped over his arm.

               When they left, Raora came toward Jaylon and began to weep, “You may never return,” she said, “and then what would become of me? I cannot live without you.” Jaylon held her away from himself and looking straight into her eyes replied, “Raora, you must. My father trusts you, I will return.” He let her go and turned, leaving the room. She followed him to the door of the hall and then let him leave and he did not look back until she could not see him. But before he left, he glimpsed her frail figure against the moonlight, her golden hair was swirling in the night wind, her eyes were closed, and she stood with one hand in the fountain and the other on her breast. Turning his eyes away, he ran to catch up with the king and Eradrim.

               The chosen company was soon mounted and Raora watched from the window of her chamber the horsemen ride off, with the king at their head, Jaylon on the right and Eradrim on the left. They were soon out of sight, but Raora stared into the distance in the direction they had left for hours after their departure. 

                When she roused herself out of her grief, she wasted no time. Immediately she took a pair of keys and a candle and descended into the armory in the heart of the tower. She opened a door and went into a long hall, the walls covered with swords, shields, scabbards, helmets, and armor suits. Lifting her candle aloft, her eye fell on the one she was searching for. It was smaller than the rest, made of chain rings, with a swan device on it, and a one-piece helmet. She took off her outer silken gauze and put on the armor. Satisfied, she put on her royal clothes on top of it, and ascended back into her room. She hid the helmet in her chamber and hung the sword in its scabbard on the wall. Thus prepared she took her place as ruler of Carasul. 

 

                *Antril, the third month in the calendar of Carasul.

                

Advertisements

Posted in Uncategorized on June 13, 2005 by legolasandfrodo

 

Chapter the Fourth – The Arakun

              

               The moon looked down upon the world that night, a restless and troubled world. Its beams shone upon Carasul, the castle of Men. Its walls were grey, hard stone brought from the quarries of the north. The outer wall rose high against the moonlight, carefully watched by small black figures with a swan's figure upon their breastplates. The drawbridge was up, the portcullis down. The inner wall, even more closely guarded, and a third of a mile from the outer, was sheer and steep. Two gates, both closed, led into the outer courtyard, paved with black stone. The courtyard extended a quarter of a mile and then came to the great gates. These were coated with silver and behind them was a great portcullis.

               The castle walls themselves loomed up to some three hundred feet, and two tower from the front, circular turrets, rose up to fifty feet. From the center a great rounded parapet ascended one hundred feet, from its top, the banner of Loresohet flying. 

 

               Alatin, guard of the outer walls of Carasul was making his evening patrol on the walls, his trained eyes staring into the dusk for any intruder. The moon above shone onto the surrounding fields, bathing them in a silver spotlight.

               His gaze shifted to the northern mountains, towering high above Carasul, filled with hidden malice. He shuddered as he imagined what may be behind them, what was concealed in their secret depths.

               Drawing his eyes back to the ground he made out against the moonlight, a lone mounted form riding up to the gate. It was clinging to the horse's neck, its face buried in the mane. A flash of metal showed an armed man, but he appeared to be unconscious for he was not steering the horse; the proud beast stood erect, and seemed to be instinctively heading toward the gates.   

               As he drew nearer Alatin noticed he was armed to the teeth, and one hand clutched something in its fist. His helm was broken and his eyes were closed. In his bloody hand a cypress leaf was pressed against his palm. His long silver hair fell from under his helm over his shoulder and dragged on the ground. “Halt,” cried the guard, “who goes there?” The figure did not answer. Alatin leapt down from the wall and strode over to the horse. The horse gave a loud whinny and tried to defend its rider from the intruder, but it did not try to run away.  Alatin froze as he approached, with a look of awe at the device of the leaf on the rider's helm, and his silver locks, that only one race bears.  'The Arakun,' he muttered under his breath and coaxed the horse through the gates. The body seemed dead. His flesh was cold and his face white and motionless, but he had no wound visible anywhere on his person. But when the guard put his cold mail against the Arakun's lips, a faint mist clouded onto it and he knew the he was alive, barely. He opened the gate and led the horse through after giving a warning password to the sentry on the next tower.

               The horse was led in and stabled well, and the rider taken into one of the guard rooms where he was watched until he came to. The guard stood impatiently by the bedside, gazing at the beautiful long silver hair, stretched on the ground. 

               He walked to the door and saw a white horse coming down at full speed from the castle. A slight smile hovered over Alatin's face, as he watched the rider dismount and walk to the room. His hair, a little above his shoulders was blond and his blue eyes were dancing with merriment. He was clad in a blue tunic, covered with light armor.  A sword hung at his belt, but he carried no other weapon.

                He greeted Alatin, who bowed respectfully, and they both walked to the guard house.  At the sight of the stranger he gave an audible gasp of amazement, and rushed to the bedside. For a moment he stared saying nothing, and then knelt upon his knee, and passed his hand over the stranger's forehead. It looked troubled and cold, and it was as smooth as the waters surface. In his hand he still clutched the leaf, but the newcomer did not notice.

               At last the man spoke gently, and the silver eyes opened. For a second the stranger's gaze held his, but at length the latter turned his face away.  The stranger was motionless, and his eyes held grief. Finally he spoke, and in his voice was clear and terrible like the rippling brook, and the thunder cloud mingled. It held sorrow, anguish, and defiance of a fading kingdom. “I must see His Majesty Thargon.” A silence prevailed after he had spoken and his words seemed to ring and echo through the room. At last, troubled and ashamed at his own manner of approach, the man replied, “I am his son, Jaylon; you may give your news to me. You come from,” he could no help adding, “across the mountains?”

               The faintest lines of a smile transformed the cold face into a world of understanding as he replied, “I do.” Once more Jaylon felt the amazing, terrible, yet beautiful thrill go through him at the sound of that voice. The stranger held his gaze once more, as if expecting something. Jaylon turned, “Leave us,” he commanded, and when the room was reluctantly emptied of interested onlookers, he turned once more to the gaze of those silver eyes that had not shifted. Jaylon put out his hand to that of strangers to lift him from the couch but the hand jerked away with surprising agility, and the stranger rose.

               After the custom of Carasul, he bowed on one knee to the prince his head downcast respectfully. “Nay,” cried Jaylon kneeling so as to look in his face, “I am nought to deserve the respect of your race.”

               Lifting his head, he replied, “You do not know you future.” And his voice was as the water falls upon the rocks, as if concealing fate. But he rose, and, on Jaylon's entreaty, seated himself on the couch, and his head erect, his silver eyes holding Jaylon's until the latter was forced to turn away, began to relate, in that beautiful voice, his errand.

               “I am of the Arakun, from Losia. I bring to King Thargon two things, my guidance, and this. He produced the cypress leaf, crumpled and blood stained, but the device of the seal was still visible.

               Jaylon took it with wavering hands, “Long has it been since the Lord of the Arakun hast brought to us a token of need.”

               “Counsel,” corrected the Arakun, “The lord has no want of arms, yet.”

               “So what doth thou intend for me to do?” asked Jaylon, “How shall the lords meet, for I have heard the Lord Elaran is still far in the North.”

               “That is so,” he answered, “I have come to escort Thargon to the Northern Mountains; through the Pass of Entyra. That is the lord's command.” His words sounded like the ocean, terrible, daring anyone to defy him.

               “So be it,” replied Jaylon, bowing his head, and knowing it were useless for any mortal to argue against the Lord of the Arakun. “But while we yet remain here, tell me thy name and what befell thee on thy journey here.”

 

Chapter Three

Posted in Uncategorized on June 2, 2005 by legolasandfrodo

 

Chapter the Third – In Losia   

 

“Nohara!” * shouted Elaran and a forest of arrows flew from the host of the Arakun.* Not one missed its mark. The enemy seemed to decrease in those thirty seconds by far. The remainder fled. “After them!” Elaran commanded. A company of mounted Arakun warriors galloped after the retreating foes. “They will not, I think, venture out of there wretched caves again for some time,” said Elaran, as he turned his stallion northward. As he rode back to his home in the forest his heart weighed heavily in his breast. These raids had become too frequent. The creatures of the hills too often became bold and came down from their haunts in the mountains.  and the Men of the Hills were becoming too strong in the east where the Arakun were scarcer. In Loresohet there were Thargol and his men but they were too far south to be of much use. It would take many days to reach the northern regions. But so it must be, for so it was ordained to be. The days of the Arakun were leaving. They had existed long before Men; indeed they had come before any other breathing being, their turn was over.  

               Elaran thought back five thousand years ago, to his ancient home, Losia. He remembered the Darkness that had come over the sea. He remembered the terror it had brought with it. He remembered the great, innumerable hosts that had assailed the Great Tower. There had been no hope. He thought of Ralan the Brave, who had fought to the end. No, there was still no hope. But in his heart of hearts he knew that there would yet be one more great battle before the end. And he knew that the end was near.

               All these thoughts were passing through Elaran's mind as he turned towards the forest, Losia, affectionately named by his ancestors in memory of their homeland, and disappeared into the great branches of the cypress trees. There was an evil choice before him. He did not know whether he was to wait for the coming destruction or go out to meet it. Long had he been brooding on this thought and the time had come to choose. “I will wait ten years more,” he thought to himself, “if by that time the choice has not revealed itself, I will go out to meet it.” His heart thus decided, he rode with a swift pace to the heart of the forest and dismounting, uttered a few words to someone lying hidden in the trees, and walked through the forest on foot with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

               When he went out of sight, an Arakun came out from the undergrowth and took the horse away into the trees. Just before she went into the thicket, she gave a shrill bird whistle and a company of mounted soldiers came out mounted upon horses and rode swiftly to the battlefield to gather the dead and wounded.

               As Elaran thought more of the matter he became undecided. What if ten years was too late? It may be that when he came, he would come too late. What if within ten years the Ger Steren was replenished? Then indeed it would be too late. Even if all the Arakun were summoned, they would be unable to attack the Darkness. It would be impossible. At length, he determined to consult Thargon, king of Carasul.

               Returning to the glade where he had left his horse he gave a call and three horsemen came out of the forest. “Bring this message to Lord Thargol.  There is trouble, and I am in need of counsel.” he commanded, and handed each of them a cypress leaf. On each, the king’s white seal was imprinted.  The three horsemen rode away at incredible speed to the south.

 

 

 * “Fire!”