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Category Archives: Camlon

On the Footsteps of a Dragon’s Roar: the Cleansing pt 5

The Battle for Camlon

In the darkness before dawn, Vytria flies high above Camlon. The city is deceptively quiet, as Vytria feels movement through the air in the streets and the castle. All are moving into position, for today everything will be determined. Today they fight for Camlon.

As the faintest lights of dawn push back the night, a small rescue party moves silently through the castle. Certan ordered all the defecting knights locked up in the dungeons that still stand. Most of those knights are young, as they owe great loyalty to Dnovan, their captain. Now Morcant, with two from Tarik’s household, move in to free them.

The stealth of the two with him, Rydn and Jyrn, amazes him. Many times he himself loses track of their presence as they penetrate further into the castle. Even so, this is too easy. Certan is not one to take any opponent lightly.
“Relax,” the one called Rydn whispers. “Whatever is here, we’ll deal with it.”

A soft breeze swirls around Morcant. Vytria is reminding him she too is watching. Morcant lets his tension ebb somewhat. Presently they are within sight of the imprisoned knights, but a snap of wind pushes him back. “Certan’s trap is just ahead.”

Jyrn and Rydn nod and disappear. Around the corner sounds of clanging metal and shouts ring through the dungeon. Morcant hears footsteps behind him, and turns to find himself engaged by several knights at once.

“Only three of you?” Certan asks as he faces Jyrn. “I expected more of an effort.”

“Four,” Morcant replies. “And that is all we need.” A rising gale confirms Morcant’s count. The knights attacking them find it hard to move, making them easy opponents. Morcant, Jyrn, and Rydn fight their way to the cell doors and release the imprisoned knights. As the group moves toward the gaping hole Vytria had created with her own earlier escape, the gale stops suddenly. Certan’s knights close in from all sides. “What did you do?” Morcant demands.

“There are other powers besides that of the Queen of Chaos,” Certan replies.

“It is true, then. You have allied yourself with Lady Ashrah.”

Vytria’s wind picks up, as if responding to Morcant’s turmoil, and explodes, removing all Morcant’s obstacles on every side. Before the dust settles, Morcant leads his party away from the castle.

 

Vytria catches her breath. Not many could have interfered with her winds like that, and certainly none that were present in the dungeons. No, whoever challenged her wielded their power from much farther away. Until she found them, they had the advantage over her. By now the undercity would have become a battlefield. Perhaps down there… Vytria stirs the air and focuses on the fighting down below. Just as Dnovan expected, the undercity is crawling with Nirad, and the mages are finding themselves at a disadvantage. But none of them, so far, are the one she seeks.

Vytria catches a sense of a strong power. Before she confirms its location, it surges toward her, too fast for her to withdraw her focus and counter it. The full force slams into her, knocking her from the tower. Vytria lets herself fall, guiding her momentum into one of the openings to the undercity.

As Vytria nears the castle, she sees Certan pursuing Morcant. Anger rises within her. “You shall not turn away from us. Witness the slaughter you yourself have ordered.” Vytria knocks him underground with her winds.

As they both fall beneath the ground, sounds of one battle are replaced by the desperate shouts of another. Nirad are attacking the undercity from three sides. But for the valor of the Laine brothers the undercity would be overrun, and the darkness favors the Nirad. As it stands, the Laine brothers can only hold back the Nirad, and their strength will not last forever.

Vytria guides her fall so she lands near Dnovan, while Certan lands behind the Nirad.

“What happened?” Dnovan asks her.

“Morcant successfully rescued our knights. A Nirad down here interfered with my winds and knocked me down here. Oh, and I pulled Certan down here too.”

“Can you locate the one who attacked you?”

“I know the general direction. He shouldn’t be hard spot.”

“Then let’s accept his challenge. These men could use something to cheer about.”

“Gladly.” Vytria and Dnovan charge through ranks of Nirad. While Vytria controls the air, the advantage Nirad gain in the darkness is greatly lessened. That, combined with the experience the Laine family has in fighting Nirad, begins to turn the tide.

Then Vytria’s wind abruptly falters. “Dnovan, it’s happening again.”

“I see it. It’s him.” Dnovan gestures to a tall, muscular Nirad striding toward them. His power seems to wrap itself around him in pitch black cloak. “That has to be Kaisen. You ready for this?”

“Does it matter?” Vytria and Dnovan attack Kaisen together, but Kaisen is clear a top-ranking Nirad. He is in no hurry either. He blocks and parries all their combined attacks, while he himself strikes only occasionally. Kaisen seems content with sealing Vytria’s winds and letting the pair exhaust themselves.

After yet another failed offensive, Dnovan speaks up. “Vytria, you’re not focusing.”

“I’m trying to ignore his interference, but that’s proving difficult.”

“Then do what you want. What’s necessary will take care of itself.”

Vytria smiles slowly. “Hang on to your helmet.” She begins to move the air throughout the battlefield, but Kaisen quells it.

“Nice sentiment, but not going to happen. This battle is ours,” Kaisen declares. He sends a killing blow toward Dnovan, which Dnovan just manages to dodge. Kaisen laughs. “Mere wind will never defeat me or defend your comrades.”

“Mere wind?” Vytria echoes. “I think mere wind is just what we need. Sometimes, strength lies in stillness, in smallness, and in a whisper.” The battlefield changes subtly. Nirad begin to falter. “You cannot sense it, can you. After all, you’ve spent so much time seeking power that the small things are lost to you.”

Kaisen’s fury rises in tangible waves. “I think you’ve made him mad,” Dnovan comments.

“That makes two of us,” Vytria says. “Let’s see him block this one.” Black grapples with Vytria’s winds, and Dnovan charges. Red joins black.

Kaisen’s blood greets Dnovan’s blade.

 

On the battlefront opposite Kaisen, Certan bests another mage. He swings his sword to strike down another, but a clang of metal blocks it. Certan looks over at his challenger, and sees and angry Morcant.

“Certan!” Morcant shouts. “How could you have fallen so far?”

“That is my question for you. I am defending my people.”

“You are killing them! I have looked into Camlon’s history, Certan, that history which your house has willfully neglected. These mages have been citizens of Camlon longer than we have!”

“Mages are the reason Camlon weakens.”

“Their deaths are what weakens Camlon. Lady Ashrah has not the good of Camlon in mind or heart.”

“I do what is necessary as King. You are weak, Morcant, too weak to make the hard choices.”

“I would rather be weak than a fool.”

Certan does not reply, but swings his sword at Morcant furiously. Morcant responds in kind, until the sound of wingbeats and soft cries penetrates their vision. Certan senses something his periphery, and slashes at it.

Then he stops cold.

A silver gryphn. The symbol of Camlon. He has slain a silver gryphn.

The ground beneath him rattles. Something large is approaching. The very air trembles before it. But Certan has no chance to discern what comes, for in the next moment all is fire.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2017 in Camlon, Vytria

 

On the Footsteps of a Dragon’s Roar: the Cleansing pt 4

By Alicia Steen

Day 5

“Mernan! Saddle my horse,” King Certan calls.

“Where are we going?”

“To Certainna. She can tell me where the Lady Ashrah is.” Mernan stops cold, but Certan continues. “I just received word that Elhren and the Dragon Lord will join Dnovan and Morcant. If we are to crush this rebellion, we will need help from someone with power to match theirs.” Certan finally notices Mernan staring at him. “Well, get to it.”

“Yes sire.” Mernan moves toward the kitchen first, to gather supplies, then heads for the stable. His mind refuses to process what Certan had just said. There are stories about Lady Ashrah, each one worse than the last. She is said to never age, and holds power in one hand and death in the other.

With the hour Mernan stands at the castle gate with two horses, ready for the quick journey. The look on Certan’s face as he mounts up says he was planning to ride through the night. Certan gives quick orders to his most trusted knights, and rides off with Mernan following close behind.

Mernan watches the streets as he rides by. Signs of the recent satyr invasion still remain, but even so the markets are as lively as ever. With the promise of internal strife in the near future, many have left the memory of the invasion far behind. This revolt seems to have happened in an instant, but it has been a long time in coming. Violent change is on the horizon. Now that Certan has decided to ally himself with Lady Ashrah, will the Camlon Mernan had come to love even exist when all is over?

Mernan and Certan ride through the west gate into the forest covering much of Camlon. When they leave the main road and reach a crossroads, Mernan stops his horse.

Certan also pulls up. “What is it, Mernan?”

“This is as far as I go.” Mernan lifts a tear-scarred face. “I can follow you no further than this.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I will not fight against you, Certan, but I know about Lady Ashrah, perhaps more than you do. If you forge an alliance with her, you will have crossed beyond the point of return. She is more than dangerous.”

“Lady Ashrah is Camlon’s only hope. I don’t like this any more than you do, but as king I have to make the hard decisions. The blood of those who join this revolt will be on their own heads.”

“Will it? If you die, will they truly be held accountable? Even once, have you ever thought that you and your father might be wrong?” Mernan shakes his head. “No, Certan. None have forced you on this road; you take it by your own choice.” Mernan turns his horse aside.

“Mernan!”

“Farewell, Certan. Even if your future does not see you blest, I will forever remember the times I knew you best.”

With these last words, Mernan urges his horse down the opposite path. Certan watches him leave in silence before continuing down his road alone in the waning sun.

 

The Lady Certainna lives with her few servants in an old tower just outside Camlon’s border. She does not often receive guests, but when King Certan, her brother, rides up to her door, she does not refuse.

“Certan, king of Camlon. To what do I owe the surprise.”

“I wish to speak with the Lady,” Certan replies.

Lady Certainna looks at him sharply. “You’re serious,” she says with false laughter. “Be careful, Certan. Once you meet with her, there is no going back.”

“I already have but one course open to me. She may be able to change that.”

“I should refuse,” Lady Certainna says, “but somehow I do not think that would do much good. Very well, follow the mountain until you arrive at an emerald lake. She doesn’t like unnecessary visitors, so have something of worth to say when she addresses you.”

Certan bows. “Thank you, Lady Certainna. I will not forget this.”

Lady Certainna gives a mirthless laugh. “Do not thank me. Believe me, Certan, pointing you to the Lady is no favor.”

Lady Certainna watches as King Certan rides away from the tower. When he is out of sight, she calls for a servant. “Bring me the swiftest falcon. Morcant must know to be wary.”

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2017 in Camlon, Vytria

 

On the Footsteps of a Dragon’s Roar: the Cleansing pt 3

By Alicia Steen

Arlan Laine walks quietly through the dungeon. Delia’s cell is empty, just as Dnovan said it would be. “Delia,” Arlan calls quietly.

“Here, Arlan.” Delia lands softly in front of him. “So? How does Dnovan wish to play this?”

“He wants you to blow this dungeon to the netherworld,” Arlan replies.

Delia grins. “Can do.”

 

Dwain and Devin climb through Morcant’s window. “Well, that was fun. Remind me never to do it again,” Dwain comments.

“You know this room has a door,” Morcant says.

“Really? I thought only smart people used those,” Dwain answers. Devin elbows him.

“We had need to come here unseen by the guards,” Devin explains. “House arrest and all. We bear a message from Dnovan. He bid us give you this.”

Dwain hands Morcant the sword Delia found in Jeshrun. Morcant accepts the blade. As he examines it, his eyes grow wide. “This is a magical blade, yet the silver gryphn of Camlon is prominent upon its hilt.”

“Our sister Delia discovered it in Jeshrun,” Dwain tells him.

“Camlon was not always a country who fought against mages,” Devin speaks. “Camlon fought with them. King Uthyr twisted our laws for his own ends, and his son King Certan has chosen to follow in his path.”

“This is what Dnovan would know: as a member of the royal family, what is your choice?” Dwain asks.

Morcant stares at the aged sword. “Sir Dnovan is moving, then.”

“He is,” Devin confirms.

“I spoke with Certan myself, and he would not listen. I could never wish to raise my hand against my uncle, but he is wrong. The claim of the mages is just. I know just how much the untainted mages still do for Camlon, as this last battle should have proven. It is time they were allowed their rightful place in Camlon.” Morcant straightens. “I will stand with Dnovan.”

A female voice speaks from the window. “It is heartening to know we are still accepted here.” The words are punctuated by a loud explosion, followed by the crumbling of stone. Morcant hurries to the window. There, where the former dungeon stood, is nothing but a pile of rubble. Floating not far from the window is Delia, accompanied by Arlan.

“You and Dnovan do not mess around, do you?” Morcant says.

Delia smiles. “There is a reason the Laine family has a reputation, even now. Part of that is we do not fear making ourselves heard when the time is right.”

Dwain speaks up. “Dnovan said to meet at Gail’s place.”

“Okay see you there.” Delia and Arlan fly off.

“Wait!” Dwain calls, but Delia is out of earshot. “We have to climb back down the hard way, don’t we.”

“We have to climb back down,” Devin confirms.

Dwain and Devin sigh loudly.

“I will meet you at the servant Gail’s house. I have some preparations of my own to make,” Morcant tells the brothers as they begin to climb down.”

Dwain nods. “No hurry. After this, it’s Certan’s move anyway.”

 

“What was that!” Certan shouts.

“The dungeon where Delia was held has been destroyed!” a knight tells him.

“What?!”

“This is Dnovan’s declaration of war,” Khad tells him. “There can be no doubt now. His hand is against you.”

“Then he has already sealed his fate,” King Certan replies.

“Many of the people may side with Sir Dnovan, but most of the knights will remain loyal to you. If you act quickly, you will have them outnumbered before they can gather strength,” Sir Khad advises.

A different voice disagrees. “They will not need numbers.” All look to the door as Sir Elhren steps into the room. “Prince Alexandr Parkr will side with them. Numbers mean nothing to the dragon riders of Gathyra. You saw his prowess with the sword in the tournament. If you meet him in battle he will not withhold his magic as he did then.”

“Indeed, it takes a special warrior to take on a dragon,” Sir Khad agrees.

King Certan considers Sir Khad carefully. “What are you getting at?”

Sir Khad continues, “My king, you know I am from a kingdom that knows neither shadow nor magic. Our warriors are trained to combat both with deadly force. However, to enlist their strength you must first speak with the Lady, and she has not granted me knowledge of her whereabouts.”

King Certan nods. “Have Mernan ready my horse; I ride within the hour. Certainna will know where the Lady Ashrah is.”

Sir Khad leaves, but Sir Elhren remains. “King Certan, are you determined to follow this path?”

“Sir Morcant has committed treason. I must uphold the laws of Camlon.” Seeing Sir Elhren’s grim expression, King Certan adds, “What is it, Elhren?”

“Sire, I served you because I believed you to be a just king, but justice and wisdom have left your house. If you side with Khad and his kind, I will not stand with you.”

King Certan nods slowly. “That is your right.”

“I also bear a message from Morcant. ‘If you pursue this path, you will destroy not only yourself but Camlon as well. Therefore, for both your sake and Camlon’s, I will stand with Dnovan.’”

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2017 in Camlon, Vytria

 

On the Footsteps of a Dragon’s Roar: the Cleansing pt 2

By Alicia Steen

Dnovan paces the dining area of the family house restlessly. The room is quite spacious when the six brothers are not all occupying it at once, but as it is Dnovan’s pacing makes it feel quite small. Devin and Arlan sit at opposite ends of the long wood table trying to get in Dnovan’s way when he changes direction. Nearest Devin, Dwaine leans in the kitchen doorway engaged in silent communication while on the other side Druce stands staring out one of two windows, his back to Aedn who stares at the floor next to the front door of the humble house.

None have spoken words since King Certan confined them to the house. The family motto, which all have lived by since their parent’s death, is Live Together, Fight Together. To allow their sister to die for anything less than a serious criminal act grates against everything they stand for, yet so does acting against the king to save Delia’s life.

A knock on the door breaks contemplation. Aedn opens it, and in steps a well-known maker of trouble, Drest the maker of nails.

Dwaine greets Drest first. “Look who’s come to share his intimate knowledge of jail cells and the king’s justice.”

Dnovan quits pacing, but Druce doesn’t turn from the window. “State your business,” Druce tells Drest curtly. Drest starts to speak with sweeping hand motions, but Devin interrupts.

“Before we change our minds,” Devin cautions. All the brothers have had experience extracting Drest from whatever trouble he’s stirred up and escorting him to the dungeon. Knights cast lots to determine who gets to unravel Drest’s next scheme.

Drest nods and puts his hands on the sturdy table. “All this has happened before. It will happen again. Not even the Lady Certainna was safe from our previous king’s wrath, and it seems our current monarch has inherited his vengeance.”

“Stick to the facts,” Druce says, still without moving.

Drest continues. “The people of Camlon agree with you. The king will never overturn the ban on magic; to ensure the safety of our loved ones we must change the law ourselves.”

“Never!”

Dnovan’s deep voice resounds off the walls. “We stay true to the royal family and our own.”

Drest shakes his head, which creates an odd rhythm with his hands and his knees. Only his voice stays steady from long practice in sticky situations. “Fate has not given you such an enviable third option. We are entitled to rights, Sir Dnovan, and we must fight for them.”

Dnovan stands tall and approaches Drest until he stands not a foot away. Drest straightens, but at full height he does not come even to Dnovan’s shoulders. Dnovan speaks.

“I know what ‘rights’ you speak of, Drest. The right to act lawlessly, the right to shirk your duties, the right to drift where your whims take you. A man does have rights: the right to be ruled justly under fair law, the right to build a livelihood in safety, the right to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Your ‘rights’ are anarchy, Drest, and when you your days are utterly spent you will return to our king and ask for a place in his household.”

Devin rises from his seat. “You heard the man, Drest. Take your words elsewhere.”

As Devin escorts Drest from the house, Drest leaves a parting thought. “Your ideals still won’t save your sister, Dnovan! You will join me if you ever want to see her alive; fate has decreed it!”

Aedn shuts the door firmly. “What a loudmouth. Doesn’t he ever shut up?”

Dnovan leans on the table. “I’ve decided. Here’s what we’re going to do.”

 

While the Laine brothers hold conference, King Certan confides to his trusted servant and friend Mernan in the king’s chambers.

“I do not have a choice, Mernan. The Lady Delia herself confessed to using magic, and the law is clear.”

“Yet it remains, sire, that Lady Delia used magic to protect Camlon. She saved many lives by her actions.”

“Magic is power, and power corrupts. If wizards are allowed to use magic feely all of Camlon will dissolve into chaos like it had before my father’s time.”

“I have used magic before in your presence; at times powerful magic.”

“Yes, Mernan, but you use it only in great need and never in such a public manner. I wish more than anyone this were not necessary, but I have a duty to protect my people.”

Mernan bows his head regretfully. “Yes, sire.” At that time Sir Morcant enters desiring to speak. Mernan leaves the room so trusted nephew and respected uncle can speak in private.

King Certan speaks first. “If this is about the Lady Delia, my decision is final.”

“The law is wrong, uncle. Not every wielder of magic is bent on destroying Camlon, as Lady Delia proved mere hours ago.”

“And how long will it be before her power goes to her head, and she betrays us as Lady Certainna did?”

“You cannot compare Delia’s situation to your sister’s. My mother was scared, she acted in fear of what would surely happen if your father should discover her abilities. If you show Delia mercy instead of trying to kill her the same will not happen.

King Certan shakes his head sadly. “I cannot take that chance, Morcant. The lives of my people are at stake.”

Sir Morcant does not want to believe what his ears tell him. “And what of those in Camlon who use magic? Are they not your citizens as well?” Morcant shakes his head in disbelief. “You do not even believe your judgment is just. You say you have no choice, but in my eyes you have already made it.” Morcant moves to the door of the king’s chambers. “You have told yourself that magic is evil for so long you no longer see people, only monsters.” Morcant shuts the door behind him firmly.

“You have made the right choice, sire,” Sir Khad says. “Magic was even able to corrupt your father in his last moments. You cannot spare any of them.”

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2017 in Camlon, Vytria

 

On the Footsteps of a Dragon’s Roar: the Cleansing pt 1

Day 4

Before the sunlight came to claim the day, Vytria walks alone on a long wall. She had given up on sleep and decided to discover the source of her unease. Two others also walk along this wall. Due to their leather armor, Vytria recognizes them at once. “Parkr! Sir Elhren!”

“Lady Delia,” Elhren bows.

“Vytria. It’s been a while,” Parkr greets her.

“It has. I was surprised to see you in the tournament.”

“I didn’t have much choice. Apparently the knights were desperate for a strong new opponent.”

“They certainly received more than they bargained for, then. Are you here for the same reason I am?”

“Yes. There is unease in the air tonight. We were just about to scout ahead,” Parkr answers.

“Let me come with you, then. You are, of course, going by air?”

“Naturally.”

Once Elhren confirms that no guards are watching, the three take to the air, Parkr on his magnificent white dragon, Elhren on a red phoenix, and Vytria flies behind them with her winds. They pick up speed, surveying the landscape carefully for any signs of disturbance. All too soon they discover the reason for their search.

“Satyr! Thousands of them,” Elhren points out. “At that speed they will arrive at Camlon within three hours.”

“We must warn the king.”

“I will alert Dnovan,” Vytria says. The three make all haste back to Camlon, and soon the city is awake and rushing about to prepare for the sudden onslaught. Galen, the castle physician, with Mernan’s help hurries to make more draughts for the scores of hungover knights. Three hours later they are as ready as they shall be.

“Listen, Elhren,” Parkr says. “If I’m going to fight at all, I’m going to use my full strength. Dragons and all.”

“I expect nothing less,” Elhren agrees. “What do you have in mind?”

“This horde of satyr is running scared. If we can divert them away from the city, they will keep on running.”

“You mean to wedge ourselves between stampeding satyr and Camlon.”

“Problem?”

“I am the younger brother of Synrn. I’ve heard worse plans.”

With Shem, the white dragon, and Mystery, the black dragon, blocking the way, Parkr and Elhren are able to divert much of the oncoming satyr away from the city, but not all. Many thousands assault the walls, climbing or jumping over them. Camlon’s knights are valiant, but it has been long since any defended a city from satyr. It is not long before the city is overrun.

“Dnovan! I’m calling in reinforcements,” Vytria calls. “If we do not fight now, we are truly the second-class citizens the king believes us to be.”

Dnovan nods. “Do it.”

Vytria concentrates, and uses her winds to open all the doorways to the undercity. The mages below receive the message, and pour out from below to charge the satyr. They prove very effective. Camlon’s knights are surprised, but with a common enemy before them are in no position to protest. Knight and mage fight side by side, ushering citizens to safety and slaying all satyrs who come near.

But another horde flies in to trouble Camlon, a horde of gargoyles. Their screeches cause the brave fighters to clench their hands to their ears.

“Dnovan, we’re going higher!” Vytria shouts. Without waiting for Dnovan’s reply, Vytria launches herself into the air, hauling Dnovan with her. She lands on the highest tower. Gargoyles instantly attack, but Dnovan fends them off.  “There’s no going back after this,” Vytria says.

“There never was.”

Vytria smiles, and turns her concentration to claiming the skies of Camlon. Not much happens at first, but presently a gargoyle careens through the air and crashes down on a knot of satyrs. Then three more fall, and soon the gargoyles retreat from the airspace around the tower. The ones that can, anyway. In threes and fours some find themselves diving for the tower, their wings no longer granting them power over the air. Dnovan slays them all, and the winds around the tower increase in strength.

Sir Morcant arrives to find Camlon entirely overrun but for the castle in the center. Yells and shouts from the breached city reach their ears, confirming that Camlon’s knights still fight, but they are almost drowned out by the far louder guttural screams from hundreds of stone-grey gargoyles flying overhead.

Sir Morcant turns to his men. “These satyrs are running scared; they are not here to fight. If we stand we can divert the main force from the city, but our line must hold. For King and Camlon!”

“For King and Camlon!” his men return the battle cry, and with Sir Morcant leading them they charge for the gates. Another knight in royal blue joins them, and from seemingly nowhere two more follow fill the ranks. When Sir Morcant’s charge reaches the satyr horde, his charge is three hundred strong. Not many in comparison to thousands, but enough.

As the momentum from the charge fades, the knights are pushed back. “Hold the line!” Sir Morcant shouts. “Their numbers are not limitless. Hold the line!”

“Their numbers may have an end, but so does our strength. We cannot hold them here long; there are too many.” A knight grunts. Sir Morcant grabs him.

“Do not dare give up until your sword drops from your hand on its own,” Sir Morcant growls; then releases the knight. “This is our city.”

“That may happen sooner than you’d like,” an old knight says. “The cries of those gargoyles sap a man’s will.”

“Then we must gain it back,” Sir Morcant replies. “Prince James said one of their own is in the city. He may be able to deal with them; where is he?”

As if in answer a great roar resounds through the ground, drowning our all sound but its own. A pillar of white-hot flame appears some distance away. As all pause in wonder as it takes on the form of a fiery sword.

“That’s it! The fire from the prophecy!”

“Those gargoyles don’t seem to like it. They’re beating a hasty retreat.”

“Wish these satyrs would do the same.”

“They are; they’re just retreating in our direction.”

As vigor returns to embattled knights, some chant loudly the forbidden song.

 

Gleaming flames of silver-white

Darken day and brighten night

Give hope to those whose fate they fight

And claim our justice with your light

 

In front of the city where the white gleaming sword casts its flame, another far different line holds out against the satyrs. They have been diverting as many as possible from the city since the satyrs first arrived, and to prove it all around them are dead and charred bodies of the same.

One of two men fighting here is Sir Elhren, the knight from distant lines. He takes a breath between strikes to speak to his partner, the strange visitor Alexandr Parkr Gathriel of Gathyra.

“I didn’t know you had the flaming sword of distant legend in your arsenal,” Sir Elhren shouts.

“I didn’t either,” Parkr shouts back as he works to both wield his own black metal blade and keep the flames stable.

Between them the dragon Mystery responds in proud tones, “We knew something would happen; isn’t that enough?” The light from the flame glints away from her black scales, making her look like a void with glowing eyes to oncoming satyrs, most of which steer sharply away from her straight into Elhren’s sword.

“This isn’t exactly easy you know. Anytime you’d like to jump in is fine with me,” Elhren grunts.

Mystery snaps her tail at a satyr that stumbles too close. “You’re doing a fine job,” is her reply.

Elhren shakes his head in a momentary lack of opponents. “And I thought Synrn was impossible.”

“At least she’s doing something,” Parkr says, glaring at the much larger dragon Shem, who actively engages in a yawn.

“They do know this is serious, right?”

Parkr stops fighting and turns to Elhren, the answered question clear in his expression. Elhren snorts and shakes his head. “Forget I asked.”

Parkr raises his gaze to the sky. “Ah, reinforcements have arrived.”

Sure enough, distinctive silhouettes flash by, and from the city comes the shout of “Dragons!” The shout is echoed, causing all to stop and stare upward. Faster than possibility the dragons crash into the gargoyle horde above and the satyrs below. Some knights cheer and others watch in awed silence as their enemies melt away. Quite literally. In moments the only evidence of any fighting is exhausted knights and some smoldering embers.

The dragons leave as soon as they came. The flaming sword vanishes with them, leaving an unnatural silence throughout the city. All streets are empty, no guards are found at the gates, and the damage wrought is lit by a fading twilight. As King Certan gazes upon his city, verses unbidden rise from memory.

 

Darkened day, greying night,

Empty walls, forsaken gate,

Waning fire, broken sword

No warning heard, for none will sound

From a people within whom no wisdom is found

 

Silence breaks when Sir Morcant enters the city. The blue and silver of Camlon’s knights convince the people to trickle out of deep hiding, slowly at first, then in more numbers as excited chatter grows. It turns out the wizards came out of anonymity to lead the citizens of Camlon to safety in the undercity catacombs lit only by occasional torches and warm hearts.

The satyrs, like every creature of shadow, fear to tread underground, and knights with wizards worked so well together that not one life is found to be lost. Amidst cheering and celebration, when asked who suggested such a thing, every man has one name on their lips.

“Delia Laine has been arrested!” a palace servant cries through the streets. Most turn shocked faces to his tale. “Delia Laine has been arrested for use of magic and conspiracy! The Laine knights have been confined to quarters!”

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2017 in Camlon

 

On the Footsteps of a Dragon’s Roar: Catalyst pt5

By Alicia Steen

 

Certan considers the words spoken carefully. That night, as the celebration wanes, he makes his way to old Galen’s quarters. Galen had served his family as the castle physician since before his father’s time. There are none more loyal to the king than he. Certan finds Galen, assisted by Mernan, busy preparing several draughts of his foul hangover brew.

“Galen, what really happened the night my father died?”

Galen straightens, then began clearing the simple wood table. “Assassins attacked him. He thwarted them, but was mortally wounded. Before he passed he made the 13-year-old Dnovan and knight and awarded Dnovan’s father, __ Laine, the lordship if the western forest.”

“I know that much. What else happened?”

Galen nods. “You want the truth, then.” He sits next to the now-clear table, motioning Certan to the chair across from him. “You had better sit. It’s a bit of a long story.

“As you know, back then the western forest was a wild land. Dark mages and bandits of every sort lurked in the woods, and they in turn attracted darker things. In that year King Uthyr ordered a purge of the entire region. He himself led the knights of Camlon, and they razed the forest. Hacking, slaying, burning; scarcely anything was left in their wake, good or evil.”

“But it was necessary to drive evil from Camlon,” Certan interrupts.

Galen gives Certan an impatient look. “Here, have some bread.” As Certan takes bread from the plate Galen sets before him, Galen continues. “Scarcely anything was left behind them, good or evil. Now in the same forest lived a man and his family, a forester by trade by the name of Gildas Laine. A loyal citizen of Camlon and handy with a sword, Gildas kept the main road safe for travelers though none had charged him to do so. None knew the forest as well as he, so the king asked him to be his guide and scout, to which Gildas readily agreed.”

Certan opens his mouth to speak, but Galen raises a hand. “I’m getting to that. Have more bread.

“Now, Gildas had many sons, for his wife had born him twins and more besides. But what none but the family knew was he also had one daughter, the twin of his eldest son Dnovan.”

“Lady Delia,” Certan confirms.

“Yes, though she was not a lady yet. If you wish to tell the tale yourself, do not let me stop you.”

“Forgive me. Please, continue.”

Galen looks at Certan warily and pushes the plate of bread closer. “Gildas had one daughter, Delia Laine. He had good reason to conceal her existence, for it was known to many that every Laine daughter was born strong in magic. If any realized her existence, not only the king but every dark mage would have pursued her.

“In that year it became increasingly difficult to hide her presence, for as Delia turned thirteen her magic manifested as the wind. Not seen but most certainly felt, rumors grew of a powerful witch in the wood.”

“Rumors that reached my father,” Certan interjects.

Galen nods. “More bread,” Galen urges. “The king immediately went on a hunt for this witch, concluding that she must be the cause of all the evil in the forest. Gildas tried to protect his daughter, sending the king to a stronghold of dark mages while he charged his son Dnovan with taking Delia in the opposite direction. If she could reach the party of undefiled mages who were leaving Camlon, she would be safe.

“But all plans went awry that day. The dark mages gathered in force and ambushed the king. In the confusion, all were scattered. And three who were not to meet gathered in close proximity.” Galen places more bread in front of Certan. “The dark mages divided their forces to search for the king, who was as they supposed alone and on foot. Not only that, but King Uthyr wandered very near to Delia. She too was alone, as a beast had separated her from Dnovan.”

“Where is the forester Laine?” Certan asks. “Wouldn’t he have headed straight for his daughter?”

“He may have, but Gildas was trapped with many knights in a ravine. The dark mages found the king first. Your father was a valiant man, but these were long odds for any knight. Fortunately for him, help arrived from the most unlikely of persons. Delia used her magic to blow leaves in the faces of the mages, interrupting their incantations long enough for King Uthyr to slay them all.

“Uthyr’s actions in the next moment are a mystery even to the wise. He looked up to see a young girl high up on a tree branch, staring at him. With no fear, no hatred in her eyes, only innocent curiosity, she stared at him. And he stopped and sheathed his sword.

‘You’re the king, right?’ the girl Delia asked.

‘That’s right,’ the king replied. ‘It is dangerous out here for a girl alone.’

“Delia jumped down, landing lightly on her feet in spite of the height, and answered, ‘This is my father’s forest. It holds no fears for me, day or night.’”

Certan looks surprised. “She might as well have said her father is Gildas Laine. My father knew the forester had tried to mislead him?”

“Yes, Certan, he knew. Shall I continue?”

“Go on.”

“The king offered to escort the girl to her destination, and Delia accepted. Believe me, I was just as dumbfounded as you are when I discovered them walking hand in hand with Delia in the lead. I knew right away she was a mage, and Uthyr told me as much when I caught up to them. Delia was heading for a group of undefiled mages, and the king was seeing her safely there.

“I joined them, and presently we came alongside a cliff. It was there the bandits found us. There were ten of them, at least, and only the king to fight them. The bandits did not recognize the king, and made it clear their only target was the girl. ‘The king will pay a handsome bounty if we bring her to him,’ they said. The king hesitated, but Delia only looked up at him with silent, innocent eyes. Then Uthyr pushed her off the cliff, and shouted for Delia to run.

“Delia landed as neatly as you please, and at the king’s second shout proceeded to run, though the flash in her eyes when she fell said running was not her first choice. The king fought his best fight, but these bandits were no weaklings. When Dnovan arrived with two knights, the king had already sustained a mortal blow. With his last breaths your father knighted Dnovan for bravery, and made Gildas lord of the western forest for explementary service.”

“And that, sire, is the full story. On my life, I swear that every word is the truth.”

Certan leans back, trying to comprehend the many things revealed in Galen’s tale. “My father should have slain Delia on the spot, and had Gildas hung for treason.”

“By the letter of the law, that is true,” Galen agrees. “But even a king can be wrong.” Galen stands up, as does Certan.

“Thank you, Galen. I will consider what you have said,” Certan says, then leaves.

Mernan asks, “What was with all the bread? You kept urging to eat it.”

Galen replies, “Haven’t you heard the saying ‘give a king something to eat, and he will hear what you when you speak.’”

Mernan and Galen laugh.

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2017 in Camlon

 

On the Footsteps of a Dragon’s Roar: Catalyst pt4

By Alicia Steen

 

Day 3

The final day of the tournament has arrived, and the crowd has wound itself into a frenzy. Today all the tournament favorites clash in epic duels for the coveted title of champion. This year some new faces have made it into the finals, including the strange warrior from Gathyra. Delia, though, watches with trepidation as Dnovan squares off against Khad. She silently wishes Dnovan one more time to be careful.

And blow Khad out of the water. Because if he didn’t, she might.

Their swords clash. As always, Dnovan holds his own, a silent, strong, impenetrable wall. He wears opponents down by outlasting them. Khad is quite skilled in his own right, however, and for tense moments neither gains the upper hand. Then Khad flicks his wrist and sends a blade not toward Dnovan but speeding toward Delia.

Delia leans her head away from the incoming blade with an outward calmness, and it strikes the wood behind her. Unfortunately, none saw it except for her, Dnovan, and Gail beside her. Delia calms Gail’s anger, but inward she feels all Gail’s fury and then some. As does Dnovan. Anger lights his eyes, and he becomes the unstoppable Captain Dnovan of the battlefield. If Khad thought Dnovan’s anger would allow him to claim victory, he was dead wrong.

After Dnovan wins the match, fortunately without killing Khad outright, Delia quietly stands up and makes her way to his tent, where the rest of the brothers are waiting.

“That was the dirtiest trick I ever saw from a knight!” Dwaine exclaims.

“More than dirty, it was a declaration of war,” Druce agrees.

“Let’s pour acid on all his blades, just to start,” Aedn proposes.

“I’ll help you,” Arlan offers in rare agreement.

“I can’t believe no one else saw it,” Devin says.

“What can we say? He’s good,” Delia offers as she steps in.

“Agreed. Just not good enough.” Dnovan comes in.

“So what will we do from here?” Aedn asks.

“Nothing,” Delia replies. Aedn blinks.

“Nothing,” Dnovan agrees as he takes off his armor.

“You’re taking this rather well,” Devin tells Delia cautiously. “You of all people should be the most angry.”

“Anger would be tepid.” Delia replies. The air around her picks up, giving way to swirling, whipping winds. “I am seething with rage. Fortunately, I know someone much better at revenge than I am, and for me to act now would just steal his thunder later.” Delia calms her wind and moves to leave. “Besides, Khad is not my enemy. All the same, Dnovan, I’m glad you beat him. I should get back to the stands where the honorable Sir Khad can keep a proper eye on me.”

Dnovan nods. “Arlan will escort you.”

When Delia and Arlan have left, Dwaine whispers to Devin. “Remind me not to make her angry.”

Devin nods. “If it’s you, she’s not as likely to hold back.”

The rest of the tournament goes much more smoothly. Dnovan remains fired up for his next match against Sir Elhren, the former champion, and the crowd loves it. Dnovan wins that match, catapulting him for the first time into the final. His opponent for the final is equally unexpected: the warrior from Gathyra, Parker Gathriel. Dnovan and Parkr put on a display of swordsmanship that leaves the audience breathless, hanging on every strike. With his sister cheering for him, Dnovan pulls out another win. Finally, Sir Dnovan has won the championship.

The celebratory feast that night is the most merry in known memory. Delia and Dnovan are swamped with greetings and congratulations. All the Laine family are the focus of the festivities, with everyone wanting to either converse on Dnovan’s impressive win or hear the details of the long-lost sister. In a corner, Dwaine and Devin speak with Conant and other knights while observing Delia from across the room.

“Did you see Dnovan’s face?” Sir Conant from the southern kingdom laughs. “Aedn’s a genius!”

“I was too busy making a face of my own,” Sir Dwain confesses. “Aedn was right about his secret weapon. It would have floored any one of us.”

“To think it was a woman, and a long-lost sister besides! Have you had a chance to meet her?”

Sir Devin nods and sets down his cup. “We have, but you’re better off admiring her from afar. Dnovan has already passed from ‘shocked twin brother’ to ‘protective twin brother’.”

Dwain gestures to Dnovan who from his place on Delia’s right gives a glowering stare. Conant chokes on his drink. “I see what you mean.”

Dwain stretches. “Having such a beautiful sister is a big responsibility, one we all take very seriously.”

“Good luck. Look, even the king is moving in to speak with her now.” Sir Brien motions.

Now it is Dwain’s turn to choke on his ale. “This will end badly.”

 

On the other side of the room, King Certan hands Delia a drink. “Congratulations on Sir Dnovan winning the championship, Lady Delia.”

Delia accepts graciously. “Thank you, sire. He was truly brilliant today.”

“It must be your presence. Sir Dnovan was never able to get serious enough for the tournament.”

Delia laughs. “I can believe it. Motivation was always his weak point. When he does find a reason though, none can hold him back.”

 

Over in the corner, Dwain and Devin watch the pair closely, though they cannot hear what is said over the crowd. “Looks like Dnovan got tied up talking with the ladies,” Dwain comments. He stands. “I’m going over there.”

“Sit down.” Devin yanks him back down. “Delia can handle herself. If she needs us, she’ll let us know.”

“Look, now she’s laughing!” Dwain protests. “Why is the king speaking with our Delia anyway?”

“She’s a beautiful, eligible young lady. Why wouldn’t he want to talk to her?” Sir Conant questions. “If I thought I had a chance, I’d go over to her.”

“If she weren’t my sister, you’d have to beat me there,” Dwain agrees.

“Our king is not like you two,” Druce speaks from behind them. “Though very few people are.”

Dwain, Devin, and Conant turn, startled. “Don’t startle a man like that,” Conant protests.

Druce ignores the three. “It seems our king wishes to confirm something for himself.”

 

Delia considers Certan carefully. “Sire, what is it you truly wish to ask?”

Certan sighs. “You are perceptive, just like your mother. Where were you thirteen years ago, the night my father died?”

“Several feet downward, watching him fight several bandits alone when all they wanted was I,” Delia replies.

Certan looks at her strangely. “My father would never have…”

“Protected one like me? I know, King Certan. Perhaps he had a moment’s weakness. Whatever he was thinking, I was but a child then. If you want the full story, you had better hear it from Galen. He was there.”

At that time more guests come and claim King Certan’s attention. Delia leaves to enjoy the rest of the celebration, but Certan does not forget her words. Presently it comes time for the entertainment to take their places. A juggler, a fire breather, two singers, and a magician with his crew all wow and delight the crowd. To close the night, a bard steps forth to chant an ancient song heard by none for an age.

Dying flames, withered cold,

Coughing smoke, aging wood,

Barren fields, empty fold,

Who will yet stand where no one would?

None yet stand where only one could.

In ages past and ages hence

Free will and fate let fly their fury

On sentinels three fell kings fight

Forgetting from whom comes victory

Chilling heat, tepid frost,

Blighted forest, dusty plain,

Crumbling stone, collapsing peak

Stand or fall, it’s all the same

When none in hope pronounce his name

In ages past and ages hence

The Ancient of Days does make his move

Never do kings hold dominion of night

As Lord of dark moon shall prove

Darkened day, greying night,

Empty walls, forsaken gate,

Waning fire, broken sword

No warning heard, for none will sound

From a people within whom no wisdom is found

In ages past and ages hence

Then shall destiny meet the call

For fate’s folly is found in freedom

And the choice shall be open to all

 

Certan considers the words spoken carefully. That night, as the celebration waned, he makes his way to old Galen’s quarters. Galen had served his family as the castle physician since before his father’s time. There are none more loyal to the king than he. Certan finds Galen, assisted by Mernan, busy preparing several draughts of his foul hangover brew.

“Galen, what really happened the night my father died?”

Galen straightens, then began clearing the simple wood table. “Assassins attacked him. He thwarted them, but was mortally wounded. Before he passed he made the 13-year-old Dnovan and knight and awarded Dnovan’s father, __ Laine, the lordship if the western forest.”

“I know that much. What else happened?”

Galen nods. “You want the truth, then.” He sits next to the now-clear table, motioning Certan to the chair across from him. “You had better sit. It’s a bit of a long story.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2017 in Camlon