Archive for August, 2005

Chapter the Ninth

Posted in Uncategorized on August 23, 2005 by legolasandfrodo

 

Chapter the Ninth – Council of War

 

Jaylon walked through the forest to where he had been told he would find Elaran and Thargon.  He forgot all of his present cares as the cypress boughs engulfed him in their leaves.  A faint green light came from above and transformed the forest into a paradise.  The power of the Arakun prevailed in that wood and kept it cleansed from the evils of the outside world.   

As he strode slowly to the appointed meeting place, Jaylon began to think about Raora; he knew she would worry when they did not return at the chosen time, and he imagined her joy when they rode up once more.  In the past months he had brooded upon the princess's actions often.  He could not recall the last time he had seen her truly contented and her mind seemed to be troubled with secret cares.  She assumed an unperturbed countenance but the prince read deeper than her outward appearance.  She was grieved and her sorrow seemed to be concerning him. Her farewell had been deeply emotional.  Truly, the weight of the burden of ruling the castle for a month, short as the time may be, surely contributed to her sentiments, but Jaylon could not drive from his mind the perception that her affection had been especially directed towards himself.  The thought was unpleasant and he banished it from his mind as he continued towards the interior of the forest.

As he had not been to the councils of his father and the Lord Elaran he did not know the troubles that engaged them and he was quite willing to leave the present cares of the nation in their hands.  At the moment he only thought of how beautiful the world was, and of how the forest was so much more to his liking then the grim, towering, confining walls of Carasul.  He had not forgotten the terrors of the Pass, and it hung on the edge of his thoughts that they would return through it, but his mind did not brood on the despondent notion.

At length he passed into the glade where Lord Elaran and King Thargon were seated upon silver chairs.  Besides the two sovereigns no other persons were present except for three tall Arakun armed with spears, at each end of the clearing, and guarding the entrances just out of hearing.  As the prince stepped out from under the eaves of the forest he tried to conceal his awe of the sight before him.

Before him stood the Lord of the Arakun, one of the most powerful beings in Midegard.  His silver locks flowed down over his arm to the ground around him like a fountain.  He was clad likewise in a long silver garb and a thin silver wreath in the shape of leaves crowned his head, but he had no other ornament.  But Jaylon scarcely perceived anything other than the bright eyes fixed on himself.  They shone out, like two deep wells of wisdom, mingling valor and power, an unconquerable will, and a cold determination.  His figure was a picture of royalty, and Jaylon felt the peace and power of Losia, the land that remained untainted under his protection. 

The prince stood rooted to the ground for a moment as Arakun's eyes held him.  In those few seconds Jaylon felt that the Arakun was looking through him and could see his thoughts.  At last he released the young prince’s gaze and turned to the king with a questioning look. 

“My son,” explained Thargon, has accompanied me.  He is called 'Jaylon' crown prince of Carasul and is my second, as my eldest, Jaron, hath been slain during the battle of Eor.  But I fear his mind is young for such dark matters as we talk of at present.” 

The Arakun gazed at the prince as if deep in thought, and did not reply for a moment.  When at last he did it was to the prince himself, “Welcome, Prince Jaylon to the realm of Losia.”  Turning to the king he said quietly, “it is not my place to make known to him what you would have concealed, but if you trust my counsel it will be best to prepare him; for he shall be in the center of the darkest counsels ere long.”

“I have not the art of seeing into the future.  So be it.”

“Jaylon,” Thargon continued, the time has come for preparation.  The last days have arrived.  There are rumors from the mountains, the Darkness is working across the Sea and the forces of the Midengard, great and small, are preparing for war.  The last stroke is soon in its coming, and we have decided to wait no longer.  Carasul and Losia will no longer wait alone and be found unprepared when the stroke comes.  We prepare to meet it -” His last words were interrupted as a new voice joined the conversation.

“There is no need,” interrupted a clear ringing voice from the edge of the glade, “it is upon you.”  The prince turned abruptly turned and beheld a maiden clad in armor with a drawn sword in her hand, escorted by two Arakun.  “Raora!”  Jaylon gave a cry of astonishment and ran to her side, “What news?” he demanded, “what dreadful deed has driven thee to dare the dangers of the Pass to seek us out?  And alone?  Why?  Tell me all.”

“A terrible deed,” she answered, “and even now you may be too late, Carasul is besieged by a great host from the mountains, bent on destroying the city.  You must return if you wish to save it, and you must return now.  It is in sore need of succor.”

One of the Arakun behind her stepped up.  “She does not tell you all ,” he said, “she broke through their ranks single handed and has suffered greatly; she cannot go on without treatment.  She has been poisoned.”  Jaylon stepped back in amazement.  His eyes were burning and his fists clenched.

“My Lord,” he cried turning to Elaran with a look of anguish spreading over his face. 

Elaran nodded and turning to her escort commanded, “See that she is well cared for; bring the maiden to the dealers in herbs and bade them employ all their arts to heal her; for she is a daughter of Kings.”  The Arakun nodded and guided the princes away into the interior of the forest.

Elaran spoke now, “I know of the hosts in the mountains and they are very great; you will not be able to break though without aid.  I will send a company of trained warriors to come with you.”  He motioned to one of the guards and he disappeared into the forest.  Moments later a horn was heard from the wood in front of them and it was answered by one more farther away.  Thargon rose and Elaran took leave of his guests and walked into the forest.  The remainder of the guards took the prince and his father away into the forest and provided fresh mounts for them. 

By nightfall an army of Arakun had been made ready, and though Thargon did not wish to try the dangers of the Pass at night, they were driven by need to return immediately lest it be too late.  A great host it was that set out from Losia.  The Men from Carasul that were still able to ride and had not been wounded in the Pass numbered one hundred and fifty, and they were joined by the Arakun–a company of five thousand.

Raora, still too weak to go with them, was loathe to stay behind, but was kept with the wounded until she should have the strength to ride.  She reasoned and pleaded, but in vain. 

Before they departed the prince found time to see her.  “Stay here,” said Jaylon, “For my sake,” and turned and rode to his place in the front lines.  Raora looked at the retreating host reluctantly long into the night; indeed it was a grand spectacle, the beautiful locks of the Arakun, swinging out like silver banners, spears brandished, helmets shining.  At last she was entreated to come back to the forest and rest, but she resisted the efforts of the Arakun and finally fell asleep with weariness after the army had passed out of view.  She was then carried gently to the forest and her wound cared for by the maidens of the Arakun.

Meanwhile the warriors rode on north at a great speed.  When they reached the entrance to the Pass, Elaran turned and spoke to the army saying, “Remember who you are!  You are avengers and warriors, attacking servants of the Darkness, and this is the first move of the revenge!  We shall rid Loresohet from the black armies once and for all. 

We must use speed, it is our only friend in these lands and we must out ride the messengers of the enemy who have been sent to watch for us.  Revenge!”  With that last cry the host turned silently into the Pass and rode on at a great speed.

They held to their course until dawn, and then, taking a short rest, they pursued the road with renewed vigor.  They did not stop until nightfall and in this manner, at length reached the end of the pass.  In five days they had come through the mountains.  The Zarahut had been seen twice on the way there, but had not dared to attack such a great company of Arakun.  But, in spite of the efforts of the army, the Zarahut out flew the host and so news of their coming came before them.

 

-Legolas

 

Chapter The Eighth

Posted in Uncategorized on August 5, 2005 by legolasandfrodo

 

Chapter the Eighth – The Courier

 

At the break of dawn Galimir sent Raora's handmaid to her quarters. She had not been seen since yester night, and he was beginning to regret his words of the evening before.  A pang of guilt went through him when he thought of them.  He honestly believed that he was in the right, but he felt he had crushed her pride and her authority, and was now willing to go to the utmost to regain her favor.  He was going to beg pardon for contradicting her word and try to explain the situation as best he could.

The woman returned without her mistress.  “My lord,” she explained, “Lady Raora is not in her chambers and her room has not been touched.”  Galimir sprang from his seat and a look of concern flooded over his face.  A dreadful idea appeared in his mind, and he grew pale.  As he was about to leave the room he heard Alatin call his name from the outer gate.  The guard's voice was filled with wonder and sorrow.  Galimir rushed to the tower and gazed at the enemy's ranks.  No apparent change seemed to have been made but – what was that?  A white figure rode out from the gates and suddenly he understood everything.  “So,” he thought aloud, “she was determined.  What folly!  I have sent her to her death.  What crime is this?!  What have I done?”  He buried his head in his hands, and began to weep.

 

Meanwhile, Silverlight and his rider sped through the gate into the ranks of the enemy.  All who stood within reach fell at the cutting stroke of the sword and the hooves of the stallion trampled them.  But Raora’s enemies soon crowded round her in renewed numbers and cut her off on every side.  Hope began to fade and she committed her soul to the Great One.

            As she rode on through those last final seconds, Raora felt a strange strength come over her.  The horse covered the ground between them and the forest like lightning.  A new hope rose up from within her.  The scene in front of her vanished and she was riding through the skies on a winged steed.  The sun was illuminating a brilliant road of light and the stars glittered below.  A beautiful city spread its glory out before her, and a wonderful thrill rushed through her.

Suddenly the sharp sting of the wind jerked her back to reality.  She took the scene in immediately and her errand returned to her mind.  Perhaps they would make it after all.  The safety of the forest did not seem so far away anymore, and she urged the horse on for one last effort and burst through the enemy’s ranks.  Relief flooded her mind and she rode on with renewed speed.                         

Just as she felt herself beyond all reach of the dark armies, something came singing through the cold air and struck her shoulder.  She faltered, and clinging tightly to the reins urged her horse on.

Silverlight's eyes blazed, he seemed to understand the need, and doubling his efforts, he crashed over the plain into the forest.  They were through.  Raora had accomplished the task that Galimir so feared.           

When they were out of bowshot the horse slowed his pace, panting, but did not stop at the shadow of the wood.  Raora kept her place until they were far out of reach beyond the battlefield, but at last she gave way and fell off the horse clutching her shoulder.  A black javelin, thrown by the enemy as the horse passed into freedom, had ripped through the flesh and the chain mail was torn and bloody.     

The wound was shallow and would not have been a great injury, but the spear was poisoned and the pain blinded her.  The horse stood beside her unconscious form for the rest of the night and licked the gash until it stopped bleeding.

                       

The morning was cold and the wind brought Raora back to her senses.  She took off her cloak, wrapped the wound in it and mounting Silverlight walked him through the forest.  At noon, they reached the Pass.  The cliffs on either side towered up before her like a gate that did not wish her to break into its secrets.  As she rode through the entrance of the Pass of Entyra, she saw the dreaded boulder that marked the beginning.  It looked full of enmity, but Raora passed it without hindrance, for the guardians were busy elsewhere.  All night she rode on at a great pace and stopped an hour before dawn to rest.  She urged Silverlight to sleep and rest himself also but the horse kept watch and walked around the girl uneasily.  Raora fell asleep immediately, forgetting the cares of the world for one hour. 

As the sun began to rise and the night fade the maiden arose, feeling strangely refreshed.  She uttered a cry of horror as she found laying on the ground beside her a hideous, lifeless creature, half jackal half man, with the horns of a bull, trampled by Silverlight’s hooves.  The first signs of the terrors of the pass were not late in their coming.

Raora mounted once more and began to ride onward slowly but the pain of the wound was telling on her.  She felt weak and frail.

The day was not promising.  A sheet of dark grey thunderclouds hid the sun and a freezing wind whistled through the rocks. 

The princess did not look intently at the details because of the growing pain in her shoulder, but altogether the Great Pass itself had the appearance of a long forgotten kingdom.  Every here and there the remains of gigantic stairs wound away into the mountain.  Sometimes a large pillar would rise into the grey sky, its top broken off by some ancient catastrophe, or simply by time itself.  Once from the great mass of rock above, a stone was jarred and came tumbling down onto the path.  As Raora looked at it closer, it proved to be the crowned head of some ancient statue, finally brought to ruin from its lofty throne above.  This was the kingdom of Men, from ages past, before they were driven south.  The last remnants of their empire were hidden among the clefts of the rock far above.  The Pass was now an unexplored region that few knew about and it held dark secrets that it had held from the beginning of time.  Many men looked upon its name as a curse, but a few knew of the glory of the realm of men, and wept for the departed kingdom.  Raora wondered if the king's company had gotten this far.

 Looking up through the towering cliffs to see if she could glimpse the sun, she noticed a black speck circling down towards the rock. * As it grew nearer she began to make out its shape.  It was larger than any other bird she had ever seen and as it came lower she saw it was not a bird at all but some flying object of a strange shape.  The creature landed on the cliff above her and Silverlight cowered against the walls at its appearance.  It gave a piercing scream of wrath unlike that of any beast, and flew off the rock so near, that Raora had a chance to examine its features.  Its head was that of a woman's, with long black hair, its body was like that of a wolf, its wings were those of an eagle's and its whole being was black.  It was a foreign creature that had never been seen before in those parts; it did not come from Loresohet and was not even from the dark holes of the Pass.  It was from across the Sea, bringing with it some nameless horror.  It did not see the small figure of the horse and rider crouching against the rock, but it was searching for something and finally, convinced its victim was not within reach, it circled back up until it was out of sight.  Its name and origin was unknown to the race of Men, an alien beast on a fatal mission for its dark sovereign.

The rest of the journey was veiled in dread; a fear too vast to be penetrated by the cold rays of sun that fell into the Great Pass.                        

Until noon Silverlight kept walking slowly, shuddering at every shadow.  The princess rode silently, and she did not see the scene before her.  In her dark dreams she was carried away into a sunless land, seeking for something, what she did not know.  Terrible sounds echoed around her and she was overcome with fear.  At length she was wrenched out of her dreams when Silverlight bolted as a stone from above, moved out of its dusty sleep, rolled to the ground.  Her errand returned to her mind and she quickened her pace, hoping to come to the end of the Pass by nightfall.  For the rest of the day she rode swiftly, charging herself with all that may have happened at the city while she lingered in the forest because of her wound.  The pain bit into her flesh, but the effect of the poison had not begun to work yet, so she rode on until dark.

In the evening, near the ninth hour she came to the parting boulder that marked the end of the Pass.  Here they both rested until the first light of dawn and then rode on at a great speed past the bleak, desolate lands beyond, until Silverlight stepped under the shadow of the cypress forests of Losia.  The poison of the javelin was working into her flesh and as they passed into Losia, she fell forward onto Silverlight's neck aware of nothing and darkness overtook her. 

*A 'Zarahut' from Ry-Arteno