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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

 

On the Footsteps of a Dragon’s Roar: Catalyst pt3

By Alicia Steen

 

Day 2

Another day dawns over Camlon, and already the knights make ready for the second round of the tournament. This is where the fighting truly begins. In the Laine household, the brothers laugh and tease as they enjoy a hearty breakfast prepared by their sister. In the palace, King Certan and his servant Mernan enjoy the moment of quiet, discussing the various participants. Of particular interest are Sir Elhren and his friend, the warrior from Gathyra, who are having their own discussion in Elhren’s quarters.

“What brings a prince of Gathyra to Camlon?” Elhren inquires as he sets a simple fare on a small clean table.

“Gathyra has moved against the satyr. They flee from us in all directions. As Gathyra’s armies will soon reach Camlon’s border, we wish to know where Camlon stands.” Parkr tears off a piece of bread.

Elhren lifts a cup of hot liquid to his mouth. “Will the satyr flee into Camlon?”

“That is a possibility. They will not last long, for they have none to lead them.”

Elhren chokes on his drink and sets his cup down swiftly. “You have already slain Ba’aen?”

Parkr betrays a gleaming smile. “Ba’aen led his troops against us. We handed him defeat, as we have all the others.” Parkr picks up more bread. “It was not an easy battle. My father the king was wounded. He still lives, but he has passed on the crown to James.”

Elhren nods. “So James is now king, and the satyrs are ripe for annihilation. It is no wonder the mages that remain in Camlon are restless.” Elhren leans forward. “Tell me, what of Jeshrun?”

“Not a week past Dark Moon was besieged by shadow creatures pouring from the forest above and the caves below. The Nephilim are on the move.”

“And Synrn, my brother?”

“He has drawn the phoenix and wolves from the RedStone, though he did not participate in the battle.” Parkr drinks from his own cup.

Elhren leans back. “All is just beginning, then. King Certan will not be able to maintain Camlon’s oddly neutral stance for much longer.”

“All that awaits is a catalyst.”

 

That night, when the day has long quieted, a knight of Camlon makes his way to the King’s chambers. This knight, with his black hair and pale skin, is not from Camlon but like Sir Elhren hails from another land. He knocks on the double doors.

“Come,” King Certan calls. The knight opens the door just enough to walk through. “Ah, Sir Khad.”

“I would not disturb you at this hour, and at a time when we all are so busy, but I am afraid this matter cannot wait.”

King Certan gives Sir Khad his full attention. “What is it?”

“It concerns the Lady Delia, sire. She is more than she says she is. Lady Delia is a mage.”

Mernan startles. “Are you sure?”

“Beyond a doubt. I know a mage when I feel one whether they have used magic or not. You know this.”

“Indeed. Your sixth sense has served us well in the past,” Certan agrees.

“There is more. I looked into the Laine family, and it seems every female born to them has extraordinary magical prowess.”

“So you’re saying that not only is Lady Delia a mage, she is a powerful one, and her entire family knows this,” Certan says carefully.

“That is so, sire,” Khad confirms. “It seems likely that Lady Delia is the mage your father was pursuing when he had his accident thirteen years ago.”

“That’s the same time Delia vanished,” Mernan recalls.

“These are serious charges,” Certan speaks. “They amount to willing treason by a family of knights that have served me well.”

“Delia has done nothing,” Mernan pleads. “Could she not simply want to spend time with her family, and they with her?”

Certan shakes his head and leans on is desk. “We cannot allow even one mage within our borders. The security of Camlon is at stake.”

“Quite right, sire. Especially this one. She has a reputation among my people. All who raise arms against her fail utterly, never to fight again. She is called the Queen of Chaos. If you mean to move against her, sire, I would do so swiftly and decisively. If she were to gain a foothold, she would be capable of great devastation.”

“She was probably defending herself. If no one ever gave her a chance, then of course she would cause havoc wherever she went. But we do not have to make the same mistake,” Mernan counters. “If only for Dnovan’s sake. Delia is his twin.”

“Let us see what she does on the last day of the tournament.” Certan looks to Khad. “Watch Lady Delia closely.”

“Yes, sire.” Khad bows, and shows himself out.

 

As soon as he is dismissed for the night, Mernan makes his way quickly through Camlon’s streets to the Laine house. After a knock on the door, Arlan lets him inside.

“What’s wrong, Mernan? You have that ‘the world has fallen’ look on your face,” Dwaine calls from the kitchen, where he assists Devin with cleanup.

“The king knows Delia is a mage. Out of respect for Dnovan, he has decided not to arrest her tonight, but you must get Delia out of Camlon before he changes his mind.”

“What else is new,” Dnovan answers. He comes to lean on the doorframe between the kitchen and the dining room.

“Who told him,” Druce asks from the fireplace. “None but we and old Galen should have known Delia’s full identity.”

“Sir Khad. I don’t know how he found out.”

“He did not have to,” Delia says from kitchen. “He knew the moment he came in close contact with me. Khad is no knight, he is Nirad.”

“Who are they?” Arlan inquires.

“The elite fighting force of Nilonia, led by Emperor Nilo. Wherever shadow or strong wizards are not, there you will find Nirad. To underestimate them is fatal. We are lucky; Khad must be a rather low-ranking Nirad, or he would not have to resort to trickery to gain his way.”

“Now that I think about it, Khad usually goes after mages on his own and brings them back as dead trophies,” Aedn says from behind Druce.

“Khad fears Delia then.” Druce closes his book. “An enemy who fears you is not much of an opponent.”

“He won’t have to be if he can turn the king against you. He has already got the idea of treason into the king’s mind,” Mernan says earnestly.

“Mernan, if I leave, what then? You can count on it; someone else will turn up who pushes King Certan into the same position. I do not have to have grown up in Camlon to know that the king’s position on magic is a precarious one, a balancing act that cannot be performed indefinitely. If Camlon must fall into chaos, I will not run from it and let some lowlife take my place.”

“Or would you prefer to see Drest leading the charge,” Dnovan finishes. “I will wait no longer. King Certan must make his choice.”

“I see why he called you the Queen of Chaos,” Mernan concedes. He moves to the door. “Be careful.”

“Thank you for the warning, Mernan. We greatly appreciate it,” Delia replies.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2017 in Camlon

 

On the Footsteps of a Dragon’s Roar: Catalyst pt2

By Alicia Steen

 

“Look! It’s Aedn’s turn,” Gail says, then groans. “He’s fighting Dnovan. Knighthood must not be in Aedn’s future.”

“It’s not over just yet,” Delia counters halfheartedly. Dnovan had been farther away in the opening ceremony. Now that she sees him up close, she can’t remove her eyes. Her twin brother has grown into quite the knight. She hadn’t quite believed all the stories of him being a knight until now. It was hard to detect the gentleness she remembered from the intensity in his eyes.

“Begin!”

Dnovan and Aedn clash, and right from the start the difference in skill is obvious. Not to mention the size difference. Aedn had yet to really fill out, after all. Dnovan towered over him in every way.

Delia’s hand reaches for her hood, then hesitates.

Does she really…?

Delia clenches her hand, filling her fist with soft fabric. As if there were any doubt.

She lets the hood fall behind her, just as the fight turns her way. Dnovan begins to execute a finishing move, but the motion attracts his attention. His eyes meet hers. His motion freezes.

Allowing Aedn to pull off a trick of his own which causes Dnovan’s sword to fly from his hand. The match is called in Aedn’s favor, but Dnovan and Delia hardly notice.

Gail grabs Delia’s hand. “Come, this way. The match is over; I’ll take you to meet him.”

Delia follows, but keeps her eyes on Dnovan until the crowd blocks her view. Her last glimpse of him is of his back as he rushes to leave the field.

 

That was her. That was her. Delia is here. Not in some far off unknown land but here. In Camlon.

His brothers wisely give him space as he races through their tent, not bothering to pick up his sword or cast off his armor. There she is, coming here to meet him. He grabs her shoulders, assuring himself that she is real.

But she is real. This is truly her, no imposter, and certainly no ghost. “Delia.”

She gives him a lopsided smile and places her right hand on his. “Dnovan.”

Dnovan relaxes. “Welcome home.”

Delia breaks into the large, shining smile that he always remembered. “Your voice has gotten lower.”

Brother and sister laugh, prompting the rest of the family to join in the reunion. Their sister has come home. For better or worse, their sister is home with family.

 

But not all may be happy about her coming. Later, as Aedn is confirmed as a knight of Camlon, Dnovan’s gaze is fixed on King Certan.

“What’s got you worried?” Delia asks from beside him, though not with her voice. Being twins, they enjoy a natural telepathy.

“King Certan is more lax about mages in his kingdom than the old king was, but he still holds to his father’s law that all magic is evil. Any mage caught practicing it is sentenced to death.”

“I had not expected any of that to change.”

“Your life is in danger if you stay here. There may still be those alive who know of your power.”

“Dnovan, I have been in danger from someone wherever I have gone; yet I am still here, alive. Fear of danger is no longer motivation for me to change my mind.”

Both stay silent as Aedn stands up, a knight of Camlon. Many cheers and some friendly jeers fill the hall. As the celebration begins, Delia speaks. “Dnovan, come with me.”

“Where are we going?”

“A place in Camlon I’m sure you have never been.” Delia leads Dnovan through the streets of Camlon, every one familiar to him until Delia takes an unseen turn. Before he knows quite what she did they are walking underground. “All the oldest cities have these,” Delia explains. “Vast tunnels, streets, shops, even houses and stables underneath what’s above. There are openings everywhere if one knows how to look.”

They travel in darkness, but not for long. Shafts from the city above carry the light below, lighting their way in soft twilight. As the light grows dimmer various crystals embedded in the hewn rock begin to glow. It is an intermittent light, as some crystals have gone out, but still enough to travel by. “Shadow fears to go very far underground. Even dark wizards harbor a horror of entering so much as a cellar, making these undercities perfect for persecuted mages.”

“And we can be sure that any mage we find under here is most certainly not a dark one,” Dnovan finishes. He stops walking. “They don’t seem to be as sure about us.”

Out of the dark corners come several mages with weapons drawn to surround Delia and Dnovan. Delia betrays no fear, unlike them.

“Has the king finally discovered us even here?”

“Not yet and not ever,” Delia says calmly. “I am Delia Laine, with my brother Sir Dnovan Laine. I am also known as Vytria, Queen of Chaos.”

This sparks much shock and debate. Even Dnovan looks at Delia twice, never having heard her other name. The mages all back away. All except one teen, who does not take the cue from the elders.

“That’s a fancy name. Why don’t you prove it?”

Dnovan’s first instinct is to move to intercept the teen, but it is obvious to him that she is in full control. The air around them stirs into quick motion, then stills.

The lights go out.

All freeze in the darkness. After stiff silence, an aged voice calls out.

“Effective display, but was it necessary? There is one shadow who fears not the caves.”

The crystals begin to glow once more, showing the owner of the voice, a grey-haired elder. Delia makes no obvious moves, but Dnovan detects a twitch in her facial features.

“Come,” the elder says. “The both of you are welcome in our haven.”

The elder leads them into a wide street, not separating tired tents and frightened faces, but a true city street with shops and markets and bustling crowds hurrying in a few last purchases. The stone structures were of the same architecture as those above. This was not a city under Camlon, this was Camlon. Camlon’s undercity.

Delia smiles at Dnovan’s expression. “Amazing, isn’t it?”

“How did you know this was here?”

“Didn’t I tell you? It’s the same with every city of old.” Delia claps her hands. “Come, gather round,” she calls to the crowd. “See what wonders I bring from distant memory.” Delia-no, Vytria- tosses a large bag in the air. Out of it come relics, weapons, armor, and even some household tools. Magical cloaks, gems, and jewelry are spread out as if on an invisible display. The crowd quickly forms a knot around her, examining the items with awed faces. “Don’t push, there’s room for all,” Vytria calls. She spreads out her wares to include more of the street.

“Where did all this come from?” Dnovan asks, no less wowed by the display than any in the crowd.

“I’m something of treasure hunter, I guess you’d say. Or a danger hunter. I found it difficult to stay in one place too long, so I make my living by seeking and selling out treasures from caves and ancient places,” Vytria explains.

“You seem to be doing a brisk business,” Dnovan observes.

“Why thank you. The best is yet to come.”

When the bustle dies down, Vytria collects her wares into her bag. “There is one more, and this will crown all. This piece I found in Jeshrun Below, alongside the same mage’s weaponry you have already seen.” The bag moves higher into the air, revealing from inside it a full suit of armor. And such a suit of armor. With workmanship fit for a prince, and blades fit for a master, it indeed is magnificent to behold. Nonetheless, sight of it silences the crown for a far different reason. For the blade is magical, and the shield proudly bears the silver gryphon. Camlon’s standard.

“Is this real?”

“As real as you are,” Vytria answers. “This bears witness that Camlon’s knights once fought beside mages as brothers in arms. They even traded the clans of Jeshrun, if the workmanship of the blades is any indication.”

“Pretty baubles, but what good do they do us now?” a harsh voice speaks. All eyes turn to a man leaning against a post.

Dnovan detects anger in Vytria’s gaze. Vytria responds, “So it was and so it may be again.”

“Hah!” the man laughs. “The brightest hope any of us will ever have is right here. You go putting ideas in people’s heads and you’ll destroy what they do have.”

A rising controlled anger causes the air around Vytria to stir. “Every man is entitled to an opinion, I suppose. Do you feel strongly enough about yours to wager it against mine?”

The man looks surprised, then narrows his eyes. Then he smiles. “Challenge accepted.” The crowd quickly backs away to give the fight room. The man rushes at Vytria with a blade. Dnovan stays right next to Vytria, unmoving.

And the man misses Vytria entirely. Confusion enters his features, but he sneers and tries again.

And misses by an even wider margin.

“You! Why can’t I hit you!!”

“Perhaps you are not quite determined enough?”

“Ach.” The man activates his full magic. “No weird barriers can protect you from this one, missy.”

As the man charges for a third time, Vytria waves her hand, and all the lights go out. Only the distant moonlight enables silhouettes to meet the eyes.

“Things far off are seen by hope,” Vytria chants. As if by a flash of lightning, a single crystal illuminates for a split second the man charging by her.

“Our conviction is the proof.” The man spins around. “This hope does not disappoint.” Another flash reveals a frightened look on the man’s face. He seems unable to move.

“For he who was still is and shall be. Hope is not for the future, but for the present!” The crystals again come on just in time to reveal Vytria’s final attack. The man is flung unconscious so far away that he fades from sight.

A young boy breaks the silence. “Can I have the gauntlet? It looks really cool!”

Vytria smiles. “You most certainly may.”

The boy grins as he places the too-large gauntlet on his tiny fist. “Awesome!”

A wife comes forward. “May I have the other gauntlet?”

“Of course.”

With that the crowd surges forward again, claiming pieces of the armor. Vytria gives them all away, save for the sword and the shield. Those pieces are claimed by Dnovan, who swings them around to the delight of the crowd. Not until well into the night does the excitement die away.

“Delia.”

“Yes, Dnovan?”

“Let’s go home. Druce will want to analyze this to death.”

Delia laughs. “Sure thing.”

Whatever happens from here, it most certainly will not be boring.

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2017 in Camlon

 

On the Footsteps of a Dragon’s Roar: Catalyst pt1

By Alicia Steen

 

In telling the tale of Jeshrun, perhaps the oddest place to begin is the kingdom of Camlon. It is not a great kingdom, but neither is it a minor one. Even stranger still wherever the clans fought a battle that counted the silver gryphn was present in the ranks. In this seemingly insignificant kingdom strong fates fight hard to lay claim to it, but which shall win out, now, that indeed is a question for only the wisest of fools.

The tale of Jeshrun is the story of those who chose it. Our such one is found among the fabled terrors of Jeshrun Below seeking prized items of history long past. In her search she finds a most unexpected call to home.


Not many sounds can be heard in the darkness of Jeshrun Below. Even the vague uneasiness is gone now that the uppermost levels have been emptied of the creatures of shadow, thanks to the battle under the Dark Moon. What remains is a quietness, almost an excitement, and definitely an expectancy of… something. Someone. Some ancient memory about to come finally to light.

When she finally lights a torch the remnants of a battle from another age embraces the glowing light. Down here in Jeshrun Below, lingering magic preserves any item with even a little magic. Skeletons have long since vanished, but armor, enchanted swords, cloaks of dormant magic, and various other weapons of ancient mages lay scattered where their owners fell. It is a scene she has come upon many times before. This time, though, the sight catches her breath.

She never thought she’d see that crest again.

She kneels reverently near a complete suit of chain mail. A magnificent sword accompanies various smaller blades, some of them magical. The shield lies partially covering the chain mail. On it the silver gryphn of Camlon stares up at her, call forth memories of another time, another life.

And a small hope is awakened.

“Miss,” a nervous voice calls. “A young man, a traveler, has come asking for a Delia Laine. He carries the same symbol as what’s on your dagger. Captain sent me to you.”

She straightens to face the sailor. “Did the traveler give his name?”

“Yes, miss. Aedn Laine.”

 

Day 1

In Camlon the great annual tournament is ready to begin. The excitement has everyone running ‘round, finding their places, and filling the air with bustling chatter. The king, King Certan, is in the twelfth year of his reign, and thus in the twelfth round of presiding over the fights instead of participating in them. Whether the presence of his longtime servant and friend Mernan is a good encouragement or a bad influence has yet to be determined even by the wisest. Despite all that, the pair has their own routine which neither, least of all the king, would desire to alter.

“Mernan, where is,”

“There, sire.”

“Get me my,”

“Here, sire.”

“And what about,”

“Already done, sire.”

King Certan gives his servant Mernan a second look. “You’re unusually on top of things this morning.”

“It is a big day. Someone has to be,” Mernan quips back cheerfully as he tidies the king’s chambers.

Certan stops to give Mernan his full attention. “Yes, someone does; just not normally you. Are you up to something, Mernan?”

Mernan considers the question and shakes his head. “Not that I know of. Sire.”

Certan nods slowly. “Ah huh. Well, whatever it is, it can wait until after the tournament.” Certan straps on his sword and moves toward the door.

Mernan stands with pretended offence. “All the time we’ve been together and you still don’t trust me.”

Certan half turns to call back, “It’s because of all the time we’ve spent together, Mernan.”

“Sir Dnovan looks strong this year. Think he’ll win the tournament’s title from Sir Elhren?”

Certan adjusts his shirt. “Dnovan’s motto is ‘let him who desires it have it’. Unless he finds a reason to win, he’ll let someone else claim the title. It’s a constant annoyance to the knights who wish to find out how strong he really is with the sword.”

“What of his youngest brother, Aedn? Do you think he’ll finally achieve knighthood?”

Certan snorts. “Aedn definitely has determination enough for five knights, but his skill is that of half a one. He’d be better off polishing swords.”

“I don’t know. He seemed pretty confident when I saw him. Maybe he’s gotten better this year.”

“We’ll find out won’t we. If he can manage to avoid meeting one of his brothers in the preliminary rounds, he could have a chance. Unfortunately, his luck has never been on his side.”

Mernan stands and shakes his head. “Poor would-be sir Aedn. He just can’t catch a break.”


“Has anyone seen Aedn?” the fifth and most fair of the Laine brothers shouts through the crowded tent. The sky blue of the family colors matches his eyes and accents his short blond hair.

“He’s not in the kitchens, Arlan,” the third, Dwain, calls as he enters the tent. Dwain’s unruly brown hair is soon covered by a helmet as he readies for the tournament.

“Were you searching or staring at the kitchen maid again?” Devin, the fourth, asks as he hands Dwain his gauntlets.

Dwain looks at his twin brother with feigned seriousness. “Both.”

“Arlan, if Aedn truly wants to be a knight he’ll get here on his own.” The second, Druce, straps on a sword and hands the blond Arlan his own.

Arlan sighs and takes the blade. “He says he has a secret skill this year that will ensure he achieves knighthood.”

Dnovan, the firstborn brother, laughs loudly. “If it’s anything like last year’s he’s better off taking his chances.”

“Isn’t that Aedn in the crowd?” Devin asks, his hand holding back the door of the tent.

“He’s got a young lady with him,” Dwain adds.

Arlan rushes over. “What in the kingdom…”

“Line up, we’re moving out,” Dnovan, the firstborn, calls. The brothers quickly fall into line by birth. The tournament is about to begin.

 

While Arlan searched, Aedn weaved his way through the thick crowd with Delia in tow.

“Remind me what we’re doing here again?” Delia asks. She has no problem penetrating the most foreboding caves and ruins, but a crowd of people lies quiet outside of her expertise.

Aedn, not minding at all the request to repeat himself, chatters on as he makes his way to the stands. “Today the annual tournament begins. If I can defeat a knight of Camlon in the preliminary rounds, I will earn the right to become a knight myself, but I always get paired up against my brothers. That’s where you come in. Take off your hood during my first fight, and that’ll provide the opening I need to win.”

“Is such a thing allowed?”

“Be cunning, not devious. Brains can win where brawn lacks strength.” Aedn pauses to survey the open seats. “This way.” Aedn guides Delia to the seats provided for the Laine family, today occupied by Delia and a servant who graciously opened her home to her. Delia sits, her nervousness visible underneath the hooded cloak. Aedn grins to ease her fears. “Don’t worry. None of us have ever forgotten our sister. Dnovan especially will be thrilled to have you back.”

Delia relaxes a little. “Do you have to be somewhere?”

Aedn looks out on the tournament field, where the participating knights are filing out. “Oh yea! See you, Delia!”

Delia watches Aedn run off with a smile.

“You’re the prettiest lady in the court when you smile,” says the servant Gail beside her. The two had become friends in the few days Delia had spent in her house. “See, there’s your brothers now in sky blue and silver. It looks like Aedn got in line just in time.”

Delia laughs as Arlan elbows Aedn hard. “Only just, it would seem.”

“Story of his life,” Gail comments. “Doesn’t Dnovan look regal? With you watching him he might bestir himself up enough to win the tournament.”

“He’s never won?”

“No, he always makes it to the last three, but never lets himself get serious enough to win. Sir Elhren over there is the champion of the last four tournaments.”

Delia follows Gail’s finger to a young dark-haired knight in leather armor with a crest of red, purple, and black. She can’t quite make out the design from this far, but the pattern is familiar. “Isn’t that the crest of Dark Moon?”

“You know it? Sir Elhren’s not from Camlon, but from Jeshrun. He made quite a stir when the old king pronounced him a knight.”

Delia turns her eyes to the knight behind Elhren, only to see another familiar crest. The white dragon, born by a man with a silver jacket and two swords, one with a jewel of red and the other of deep blue. “If a he is here, this will truly be a tournament to remember,” she says, mostly to herself.

“What’s that?” Gail asks.

“Nothing. Which knight is your favorite?”

“I have no real favorite. I just root for Camlon’s knights. This tournament draws warriors from all over.” As they watch more unfamiliar crests pass by, a good portion of them not of Camlon. “It’s because Camlon protects them all from invasion by the satyr kingdom. They all respect Camlon for it.”

Delia watches the proceedings, taking in the newness of it all as Gail explains the unfamiliar. On Camlon’s border, the knights on patrol also experience change unexpected. Sir Morcant, nephew of King Certan, leads a band of knights on Camlon’s eastern border which it shares with the satyr kingdom. This border has been unusually quiet of late, prompting Sir Morcant to forego the tournament in order to investigate.

“Declare yourself!” an unseen voice asks with calm certainty.

Sir Morcant stops his party and raises his arms from the reins of his horse to shoulder’s height. “I am Sir Morcant of Camlon.”

“We have no quarrel with you, then.” A young man about Sir Morcant’s age, possibly a little older, steps from the forest growth with weapon sheathed. Two others reveal themselves with swords likewise at rest. The young man performs a courteous short bow. “Prince James of Gathyra.”

Sir Morcant dismounts, and his knights follow his lead. “What business do you have on Camlon’s border?”

“Our business is with satyr and stone. It is time their terror returned to them and devastation find them.”

Between Gathyra and Camlon lies the vast kingdom of the satyr, a creature of shadow resembling a black goat with horns and hooves. There the resemblance ends, for the satyr’s fur is thick and their manners vicious. Camlon holds them to the border, but none dare make war with them.

“Sir Morcant, that is a wizard’s mark!”

Sir Morcant and his knights at once draw their swords, but Prince James and his party make no move to counter. Sir Morcant speaks first. “You must know magic is outlawed within Camlon’s borders.”

“So I’ve heard,” James replies calmly. “Your king makes no distinction between dark mages and the untainted. Even so, as I said before, Gathyra has no quarrel with Camlon unless Camlon creates one.”

“How could you not? We have killed many of your kind.” Sir Morcant makes no move to advance or lower his sword, though some of his knights are noticeably hostile. Some of them have lost good friends to dark mages.

With a steady gaze, James replies, “First, wizards are no more or less human than anyone else, so I have no ‘kind’. Second, it is a documented fact that most mages killed by your previous king practiced some form of dark magic, which is just as illegal in our country as it is in yours. Third, I am standing on satyr territory. Since Gathyra is engaged in long-standing war with the satyr,” James pauses and shifts, causing the knights to tighten their grip on their swords. He continues, “anywhere a prince stands in enemy territory is considered Gathyran land. The choice is yours.”

Sir Morcant considers this a moment; then sheathes his sword, prompting his knights to do the same however reluctantly. Seeing this, James says, “I am here to give you a warning. The kingdom of the satyr is emptying. They are fleeing in every direction, and a group ten thousand strong will arrive at Camlon’s capital by third day’s end.”

Sir Morcant’s eyes widen. “During the tournament’s final honors.”

“One of us is in Camlon’s capital. He will be able to give some warning.”

Sir Morcant mounts his grey steed and his knights do the same. Before he gives the order to ride, Sir Morcant pauses. “May their terror return to them.”

James smiles and returns the phrase. “And devastation find them. We are engaged on our own borders; however, I shall rally some riders and meet you at fourth day.”

Sir Morcant nods in appreciation and rides as fast as horse will run, wondering how his unofficial temporary agreement with Gathyra will find them. Then the silhouette of a dragon in flight covers the sun, and is gone.

“What good will a few riders do, even if they are wizards? It didn’t sound like he had any sort of numbers to spare,” a knight says to the wind as they ride.

Half to himself, Sir Morcant responds, “A few may be all they need.”

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2017 in Camlon

 

Of Nirad and Nilo: the Meeting final

Rydn, year of Nilonian Empire 925

What…is…that?!

Jyrnn mentioned there would be something interesting inside this cave, would be something interesting. That is an understanding. I am looking at a huge shiny silver metal…warship? Whatever that thing is, it has a lot of firepower.

“Where does this light come from?” I ask Jyrnn, completely awestruck. He gazes around.

“I…do not actually know. The light is so natural I never really thought about it being strange,” he responds. I can see how that would be possible. This mysterious light is practically akin to daylight.

This part of the cave is less of a mineshaft and more like a sophisticated repair chamber for the warship. Stone lines the immediate walls, floor, and ceiling, stopping fifteen footlengths beyond the edge of the ship. The place is as high as five levels of Taurek’s house, yet every inch of the wall is used for spare parts, tools, and cleaning supplies. I spot ancient mining and smith tools among the supplies.

“Is this truly a mineshaft?” I ask further. This whole place goes further in, maybe into the heart of the mountain from what it looks like here. Jyrnn nods.

“Whoever built this place must have wanted an endless supply of metal,” he answers, placing his hand on the warship. “And they found it. Within these tunnels are several mines consisting of several quality metals as well as a variety of rare gems. I believe this warship and everything here was made by the materials mined here. However, there is one other thing.” Jyrnn flicks out a dagger specifically made for Nirad by paid craftsmen, hurling it at the sizeable metal warship. A spark and a clang sounds the breaking of the dagger as it clashes with the warship, not having left a hint of a scratch.

“Dragonfire,” Jyrnn continues. “Everything metallic in this chamber was forged in dragonfire.” I take in my breath. Dragonfire? Dragons are mere legends here in Nilonia, and the ancient peoples forged metal with their fire? The craftsman inside me examines the metal. If I were to reproduce this quality, I would be the best craftsman in Nilonia for many centuries.

I remember the message passed between Jyrnn and his father during our duel. “Does your father know about this place?”

“This has been a family secret ever since our ancestor found this place centuries before Nilo. The warship was inactive then and ever since, but he took the duty of maintaining this whole place. We have been continuing his duty ever since. Nothing mined or found here is sold to the public, though family members may use some items found here now and again,” Jyrnn takes out a medium length metal pole. They have been taking care of this place…all this time? Without Nilo, the Nirad, or anyone else noticing? “The weapons are all inside that warship. I can show you all of the rooms there as well as what we assume they all are for.” He gazes at the warship.

I sense a contradiction in his following silence. “Except?”

Jyrnn faces me. “We do not know what it is capable of or what type of weapons it has. Neither do we know when it was built or for what purpose. We have tried to find out why it was abandoned and by whom, but the only clues to where the answers might be are in the ship itself.”

“So in other words,” I surmise. “You want me to help you discover how to turn it on.”

 

Those who have forgotten My name

Shall forget Me no more

Those who have ignored My fame

Shall ignore Me no more.

 

Those who have never known Me have heard

Those who have never learned of Me

Have called upon My name

Who has heard of such things?

 

When One stands where no one could

My remnant shall remember

When One stands where no one would

My remnant shall be renewed.

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2016 in Nilonia

 

Of Nirad and Nilo: the Meeting pt3

Rydn, year of the Nilonian Empire 925

He knows a lot more than I thought he would. As a Nirad, I am supposed to be using sorcery in my attacks. But long ago, I ended up discovering magic instead. Fortunately, Nirad know next to nothing about the nature of magic, allowing me to keep my cover. Or so I thought.

Besides me, Nilonia has not produced any known wizards for centuries. Magic itself is practically a legend—a myth. So how can Jyrnn tell the difference between a dagger saturated with shadow and one forged with magic? One thing is clear. There is definitely a lot more to this Nirad than I realized.

I summon my two metal rods, razing them up to block and counter. Jyrnn moves out of the way for a strike from behind. I swing my rods, creating a concentrated sonic beam to shove Jyrnn aside. His combat style is very unique, I must say. Dealing with it will require a special touch.

I vanish into the evening twilight shadows, shrouding the field further with mist. With Justyn here, using more magnificent skills to end the fight would cast more suspicion upon myself. I shall just have to use that other skill set instead.

I try to lose Jyrnn in the mist, but that is proving to be more difficult. He is catching on fast. If I am to hit him off-guard, I will only have a small window to do it. I toss several daggers at once in his direction while circling to the right. With the dagger I gave him, Jyrnn bats every one out of his way, causing a small flash at each contact followed by a zing. I flip and twist out of the way. He is using the magic inside the daggers to track me. I absorb the light and sound with my own magic to counter his measures.

In one motion, I leap off the wall and pour my magic into my rods for one solid attack. Jyrnn whirls around, dodging one rod while parrying the other with the dagger I gave him. I release electrons from my rod into his dagger—just enough to add to the pressure. Jyrnn turns his head slightly so his right eye can see the growing crowd. My peripheral vision spots Taurek having returned, nodding his head once.

That is strange.

We leap off each other into a stand-off. Each assessing the other. Neither one moving a muscle.

“You said you have been searching. Do you really think you will find it at the tower?” I ask him. We Nirad live to conceal, keeping Nilonia and the whole Empire ignorant of dangerous threats. I have not lived a longer life than Jyrnn, but I often wonder if our efforts to conceal the perceived threats is futile.

“Do you know where it is in all this?” The question immediately plunges me into a memory:

 

Chills shoot up my spine as I enter the tower. It seems like a normal stone tower that is lit up more efficiently than usual; however, I feel like I am swimming in darkness. I barely notice the Nirad, the torches, or the windows as I swiftly trudge up the steps.

At the top of the tower is one single Nirad.

“Sir Keisn,” I mutter. Figures it would be him.

“Yes, it is me. I would not allow anyone else to test the strength of my pupil,” he states in his intimidating tone.

“How about we cut the chatting and get this over with?” I say, anxious to leave this tower. Something about this tower is causing a breath of foreboding inside me. This tower does not belong there. Or anywhere.

“I schooled you on the dangers of impatient anxiety,” Sir Keisn grumbles. My insides winced in memory of that lesson. “But that is not why you want to hurry, is it? You sense something about this tower that you do not like, do you not? A little darkness, perhaps?” I hate it when this guy reads my mind. I flick my wrists. Out comes two black metal rods of a special, natural snake design. I made them myself, so I know they will not easily break.

Easily. A shadow mist spreads out under Keisn’s feet and seemingly begins to engulf his entire body, leaving only a silver-white flash to outline his form and eyes. His low-tone battle voice resonated throughout the tower.

“Since you are so anxious, why do I not show you the power that resides within this tower?”

After that so many things happened. I have never been so terrified in my life, but I…that Wind, whatever it was…I became afraid of something else. Someone else. I try to search for that someone so that I may have hope in all this fear. So far, I have found nothing. Why can I still not shake that touch? Why…?

“Well?” Jyrnn pulls me out of the memory. I have been hesitating too long.

“I do not know,” is my final answer. Jyrnn raises his arms into a ready position.

“Then we understand one another,” he tells me. I crouch into a stance. It is time to seriously fight out this Duel.

“It seems we do.”

Justyn

I have never seen Rydn this serious in a very long time. This Nirad Jyrnn has only shown enough skill to barely defeat Nirad way below Rydn’s rank and skill, yet now he is forcing Rydn to reveal increasingly more and more of his inner wizard skills to the point where both are a rival of the other. Which one of them will win? I honestly have no idea.

What I would like to know is why Jyrnn is using that magical dagger as if he knows what he is holding. Nirad are usually insanely ignorant of anything to do with magic. This guy, on the other hand, knows his stuff. Question is, where did he learn it?

The two Nirad are moving so fast the crowd will never keep track of them. Flashes of blue and green lights shine all around the Glade, even a little outside of it. I and some of the other Nirad find ourselves having to dodge a blow or two from time to time. Multiple zings pierce the air around us as the evening twilight morphs into early starlight. Both Nirad vanish into the shadows. One time Rydn will swing a high attack only to have Jyrnn parry and counter with a complicated double and triple combo slices that only cut the cooling breeze.

Both of them are overdriven. It is difficult to tell anymore how much more this duel can escalate—how much more skill both of them have hidden. In spite of that, neither are attempting to kill the other. Rather, they are enjoying this fight. Ironic for Nirad who are supposed to care of orders.

Jyrnn’s father has made some sort of contact with Jyrnn. Why would a Nirad still have familiar contact with his father?

Mist shrouds the glade in a soft cloak. The Nirad are not even fighting on the ground now—it is all on the columns. I am still amazed at how much punishment those stones can take. Nine hundred years of Nirad dueling and the only cracks it gets are from the weather.

Unnatural pitch black shadow forms in the center of the glade, causing a deafening explosion that shoves the two Nirad apart. I stand myself up from where I landed, taking a sharp intake of breath at the silhouette form of another Nirad. His curved sword is drawn so its bloodstone gleams in the starlight. Everyone in the crowd falls back in terror.  I step back, more than a little surprised. What is Sir Keisn doing here?

Sir Keisn’s authoritative voice resonates into the early starlight. “This Duel is over. Both of you will continue at a later date I will depict.” A later date, huh? That is unexpected. Knowing Sir Keisn, he has a solid reason for it. I shall have to keep a close eye on when that will be.

As for this Jyrnn, since when did he acquire that much skill? Rydn definitely made that dagger of his, and already he is using it to its full potential. If he has any sort of deduction skills, he will be able to connect the dots the true nature of Rydn’s secret.

There is definitely a lot more to him than I realized. Perhaps I shall stick around to find out more about him and his father Taurek.

 

Jyrnn

Delayed to a later date? Why in Nilonia…who has ever heard of such a thing? What purpose could delaying this achieve? Why now? Why this fight?

I have only met Sir Keisn twice, but I know enough about him to keep from asking stupid questions outloud.

Still, that was unexpected.

“Sir Keisn,” Sir Rydn did not expect that either. “You are stopping this fight?” Neither is he smart enough to rule his mouth, it seems.

Sir Keisn’s only answer is a sudden expected flash of light that engulfs his form only to vanish, revealing his absence. One by one, Nirad slip into the shadows while the spectators rush away in absolute silence. All Sir Rydn and I can do is stare at one another, somewhat shocked at the turnout. In less than five minutes, only he and I stand under glow of starlight.

After a period of silence, I move my hands to place the dagger in my sleeve, holding my breath when I realize that the gem is not the tourmaline I have worn over a year. This is a sapphire. A real green star sapphire. My medallion is the same thing.

“So you did receive a rank,” Sir Rydn says. I look up at him, placing the dagger in my sleeve. “You are more capable than I realized.”

“Appreciate the recognition,” I respond. “You are not a bad wizard yourself.” Sir Rydn draws back a little then relaxes. I continue. “Though many may not use it, Nirad are trained to fear only Nilo and shun everything else. As a result they know next to nothing of actual magic. However, there is no way I would not recognize a magical dagger when I see one.”

“How do you know such a thing?” Sir Rydn asks me. He has no idea of the family secret. Father was clear that he should, though. If he is a wizard, then maybe…maybe…

“You are curious to know, right? Let me just say I have experience in that area,” my gaze wanders to the mountains in the east. In this autumn starlight, they are exceptionally beautiful. “There is a mineshaft near the eastern border of Lyka main. Head ten miles northeast of there. You might find something interesting.”

“I have been to that part of the region. It is near the forested mountains many call impassible,” Sir Rydn tells truthfully. It would seem only those who have been there before can actually find that.

I smile. “I will be there at morning twilight. If you are there at that time as well, I will show you what I am referring to.”

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2016 in Nilonia