by Alicia Steen and Nathan Steen
Ecalai. Dark Moon, Jeshrun.
The lands of clan Dark Moon are like nothing Ecalai as ever seen, though he is beginning to expect nothing less from Jeshrun. Even from the distant hill where he was standing Ecalai could see clear evidence of the monstrous fire that had torched the land in centuries past. The blend of deep scars and the occasional tree gave Dark Moon a unique, almost volcanic look, though this land was burned by a different fire.
The guide speaks into the silence. “They say that long ago, when the Lords of Magic still walked the worlds, there was a massive invasion of shadow that penetrated deep into Dark Moon. The scars you see are battle wounds from that time.”
“What happened exactly?” Erianna inquires.
“I am unclear on the details, but I have heard shadow dragons took part. It was in that battle clan Dark Moon took their name.”
“These aren’t scars,” Ecalai speaks emphatically. “Jeshrun would never allow it. Scars are a permanent record of destruction by shadow. The magic of the land would never allow trophies of shadow’s victory to remain. These gashes have lasted for another reason.”
“Which is?” Erianna urges.
“Rather than harbingers of despair, these are the land’s pride. They represent Dark Moon’s greatest strength and greatest hope.”
“How can you be so sure? This is your first time hearing Dark Moon’s history as well as mine.”
“The wind blows strong over this land,” is Ecalai’s single reply. The guide eyes Ecalai closely but says nothing.
From the border of Dark Moon, Ecalai figures the best and quickest way to aid the clan is to speak with someone in authority who has command over the clan’s defenses. This leads him to South Port, a sizeable city that prospers from trade with clan Blue Soul. It is not as large as the Tri-Cities, but much trade still runs through it.
“There is a different mood here than in the Tri-City area. Though they are closer to shadow, fear does not cloud their eyes,” Mykai observes after speaking with a few merchants.
The guide explains. “Clan Dark Moon carries a different strength than the other clans of Jeshrun. They have been resisting shadow since their beginning, and it shows in the resolve they carry. If anyone in Jeshrun can stand against shadow it is them.”
That certainly seems true. Even the city itself testifies to it. It was built with defense in mind, at least where Ecalai is standing, and seems to resemble a fortress. Three towers stand at its center, commanding all that goes on within the city.
Ecalai, Erianna, and Mykai inquire among the merchants of South Port, and come up with two names: Tetze and the Phoenix Tower. Whatever they needed to know, Tetze could tell them. If they could see him.
“Tetze the General, then? You are truly ambitious if you seek to meet with him,” the guide comments. “As the greatest general of clan Dark Moon he must be very busy with the invasion of shadow. Not only is he held in high esteem, he has a fearsome reputation, so much so that most people would decline even if given the chance to see him. Are you sure he is the one you seek?”
Ecalai is unmoved. “He is the only one capable of helping me. The rest hardly matters.” He could care less about the general’s reputation when shadow needs to be defeated. “Our destination is the Phoenix Tower.”
Synrn. Phoenix Tower: Dark Moon, Jeshrun.
Between South Port and Vaign stands the Phoenix Tower, which though not even in its tenth year trains the best fighters in the clan. It is where Tetze the General directs all the battlefronts in Dark Moon. The Phoenix Tower may not be old, but there is nothing young about its purpose.
At the top floor is Tetze’s office, though he prefers to call it the war room. His office has two entrances, a door and an arching window. I prefer the window.
I knock on the window. “Tetze.”
“Synrn, you’ve returned.” Tetze looks up from his reports, but doesn’t approach the window.
“I’ve brought friends with me.”
That brings Tetze to the window. Greeting his vision is a mass of fur and feathers. “It appears you’ve emptied the RedStone of every wolf and phoenix it had.”
“Of course,” I say with a smile. “Um, could you let me in? The window won’t open for me.”
Tetze sighs and pulls the window, which creaks on its hinges like an old door. “It’s not magical glass. You can push on it to get inside.”
“I just can’t seem to get the hang of it.” I climb off my Phoenix into the stone windowsill and jump into the office. “You should really oil that thing. It screeches like Azaela on a bad hair day.”
“You haven’t been here in a while,” Tetze replies.
I sit in the swiveling chair. “I came with reinforcements, but I can’t get any farther than this. A black fog is in the way.”
“Ah, that. Thick shadow came from the north not too long ago, covering everything and grounding anything that flies. I haven’t received any reports from the area since it came.” Tetze shows me an illuminated map of Dark Moon. “Our battle on the cliffline is going much better. Cyran has been holding our line there as a battle healer. Opposite him above the seas Vytria is using her wind ability to coordinate with Blue Soul’s ships.”
“What of Kyle?”
“That crazy water wielder? He’s responsible for these extraordinary waves. He called the Leviathn from the deep, and now the shadow creatures are all but terrified of the water. We have them caught between the cliffs and our fighters.”
A laugh spills from my smile. “That sounds like Kyle. Have you heard anything of Erelynn yet?”
“The light wielder training with Toledoth? Jeske mentioned her before he left.”
“She’ll be able to pierce that thick shadow. Jeske probably went to get her.”
“Until she arrives we have nothing to do but wait.”
I walk over to the window. Down below just arriving at the gate are three new promising fighters. “I wouldn’t be so sure.”
Ecalai. Phoenix Tower: Dark Moon, Jeshrun.
As Ecalai nears the entrance to the Phoenix Tower, two Dark Moon fighters stand there waiting. “Welcome, travelers. The general is expecting you.”