This is a first draft incomplete story created by... lets just say "a friend of mines." Please critique any feedback or critique available, be it positive or negative--so long as it's constructive. Anything you have to say about plot, writing style, the setting, themes, etc., would be much appreciated.
The Specter of Destiny
Fierce, crackling lightning blinked across the cloud-ridden night sky, soon accompanied by booming thunder that shook the earth. Gusts of wind whipped over hilled woods, sending forest brush snapping about. One such violent current of wind, a gust from far west, met gales of the east atop a bare hill amid forest. The wind rushed down like a waterfall, through still more woods and to the door of a small log cabin. The cabin shook against the weight of the wind and in that moment a child was born. The child was smaller than most and appeared sickly, but did not cry.
The cabin was one roomed, with a bed in the corner, a brick fire on the far end, and an uneven wood table in the center of the room. Two vertically-beamed wood chairs sat opposite of each other, with a smaller chair in between them. On the bed lay a woman with long flowing dark brown hair; her husband beside her, still in his clothes from the day, clasped her hand nearly as hard as she his. Both of their eyes lay on the small child now nestled in the arms of the woman and wrapped in a blue blanket.
"What shall we call him, Imrha?"
Imrha looked up at her husband, "What do you want to call him, Phesoj?"
Phesoj looked down fondly at his silent son, who furrowed his head against his mother peacefully. "They say," Phesoj began, "that a child who doesn't cry at birth has no hate or fear of the world. It is said that he is truly pure of heart." Phesoj smiled at his son again, beaming with pride. This boy would, indeed, make him proud, that much he was sure of. Phesoj moved his left hand to his wife's face, brushing several strands of hair from her face. She was a beautiful woman, with strong eyes, a well proportioned face, and heartbreaking smile. "We shall call him, Torciv, which, in the language of rhuen, means 'good child.'"
Imrha grinned with love at her husband and then turned her attention back to young Torciv. He was still silent and bore a contented look on his face, as if birth were something he had been waiting on for thousands of years and had finally reached. Imrha rubbed her nose against his and adjusted the blue blanket wrapped around him.
Outside the cabin a man watched Phesoj and Imrha through the window. He had observed the child being born as well as the signs. The time was coming, and the prophecies were being fulfilled. Uwia had seen it with his own eyes. The winds of east and west met at a bare hill and swept down north to the birth of a silent child. Of what importance the child was, however, Uwia did not yet know. Uwia Sangofin fingered the ornate chest-high staff that leaned against him. It was white, and about two widths thick, with white leaves running up it to a blue, misty orb at the top. The staff was very important to Uwia; he would not risk letting it out of his sight.
Uwia turned from the cabin and strode off to the surrounding forest. Cold, biting wind whipped long, shoulder-length, iron gray hair across his face. He brushed the locks away and shrugged his bear fur-lined cloak tighter around his chest, giving a quick scratch to his beard, which he not yet grown accustomed to. Only since he had returned had he grown a beard. He had always made a point of shaving daily, but now it seemed a useless triviality.
He was so changed from before, Uwia was. In many ways he was a different person; yet he did not fear the change. It was who he was now. No longer did he have a youthful hubris. Now, he was wise. While his face resembled that of a man aged not fifty years, a thousand years of death had taught him wisdom. Knowledge of two lives was a rare gift and Uwia would not waste it.
Uwia set a quick pace to the east. He had a long journey yet to travel.
The Wind Begins
A sharp wind from the south swirled across the golden plains of Ethor, biting and whipping in different directions. Coldness came with wind, a coldness of the edge of fall, just before winter felled the last leaves from colorful autumn trees. The gust continued across Ethor from the south, where rivers snaked through high grassed plains and marshes, to temperate wooded areas in the middle lands, and finally to the northern edge of Ethor, near the Savage Domain. Here, it withered to a slight breeze, ruffling the short, green grass periodically.
Stray strands of long black bangs blew into the face of Telan Mithardin; he absentmindedly brushed them away and raked a hand through his thick mane of black hair, which settled just widths below the nape of his neck, where it was tied by a leather cord. A breeze remained, tickling still more locks against his cheeks. Behind Telan were five thousand strong veteran cavalrymen, all under his command. They were the closest people on earth that Telan had to family, other than Adon, that is. He looked upon them in an almost paternal sense, despite many being almost twice his age. Even still, he hardly knew them and they could barely call him more than an acquaintance. Alas, there was no more time for that anymore. Shortly, they would all be dead, including him. While Telan considered five thousand men to be a sizable company, it was no match for the foe that lay before them.
Across the plain was a force of one hundred thousand men, all of whom were barbarians from the Savage Domain. The barbarians were enormous, most standing three and a half-step tall, and towering over Telan's men. They even looked down to Telan, who at three and a quarter-step tall was taller than most Ethirim. Telan sighed, and fingered at the reins of his warhorse, Bregor. Arrogance had sent his men to their deaths-arrogance of the High Council. They had not believed a barbarian army could or would amass to such a size, or pose such a threat to Ethor. Now, Telan would die. At the very least, however, it would be alongside honorable men, his brother, who thought him a cold, aloof and stubborn commander. They would never know how he wished for their well-being.
Telan could not show his anger to the company-men did not need a rebellious leader, especially if they were to ride to their deaths-for no longer were merely Telan and his men's lives at stake. Should the horde route his men with little conflict, leagues of Ethor would be pillaged before the Armies could be assembled. It was his duty to stop these men; the failures of the High Council did not extend to its people. Duty; try as he might, he could never free himself of it; and he tried very hard.
Telan turned Bregor to the troop, slowly drew his Captain's Sword, a fair sized and well crafted weapon that had felled many enemies, and let it rest gently in his hand, pointing towards the earth. For a moment Telan's fierce, hazel eyes lay fixed on the ground, studying the individual blades of grass as they twitched with every passing breeze. Finally, he took a deep breath and turned his attention to the men, who searched for their leader's confidence among murmurs of retreat.
"Men," Telan said firmly, yet solemnly, "in the end all living things will perish; if not this day, then some day. And there are some who would tell you-and I must admit there are many times when I find myself believing them-that there is nothing we mortals can do to validate our existence against this ultimate fate." Telan paused, allowing his words to settle on the minds of the men. "They say that regardless of the good or ill a man may bring to pass, inevitably, his death will eradicate all that he worked or did not work for. They say that the worth of a man is oblivion." Telan's voice rose to a roar, "Now hear me! I would take these words for truths were it not for that which separates men from all other creatures of this existence!" His eyes surveyed the company, as he paused. When he began speaking again it was softly, "Our courage. We must die to save others. There are countless innocents who depend on us, whose lives will be forfeited should we flee and give quarter. I ask you now, I beg you now, call upon all vestiges of valor that lie in your souls and cast fear to the wind! Draw up your arms and rally for the women and children who would perish should you fail to draw breath one moment less than necessary! Ride with me now! Ride forever and unto Oblivion!" With his last words he reared Bregor high and turned to the horde.
The company erupted in cheers behind him, beating swords against shields, eager for battle, and death. They understood now. They understood what had to be done. At least now, they could take solace in the meaning of their lives. Telan only wished he could do the same.
Telan trotted Bregor forward, slowly at first, and then began to pick up speed, the sound of his men galloping behind him. He readied his red phoenix-emblazoned shield in his left hand, protecting half of his body. The horde was leaping into view and he could begin to make out faces; from two hundred steps Telan could make out the face of the leader. There was no mistaking the snarling man, veins bulging from his neck and muscles, with a red rope knotted around his forehead, signifying leadership in the field. Telan sheathed his sword and drew a javelin. The barbarian laughed and did not raise his shield. Arrogance Telan snickered it will be the downfall of us all. Telan closed his eyes, relaxing his muscles and envisioning the leader. He steadied his breath, bringing it to a slow beat, in sync with nature around him until all that existed was he and the savage leader. He had reached the balance-a coalescence of all the senses working together, in concord. Slowly he gripped the javelin, feeling the coarse wood against his palm and fingertips. He rose from Bregor's saddle, balancing against the horse's relentless pace, and fixed his mind's eye on the engorged leader. Now! His eyes shot open and from one hundred-fifty steps he hurled the javelin through the air. The barbarian's face contorted in shock as the javelin ripped through the bone above his nose and through the back of his skull. Good. Now they were leaderless. Telan drew his sword again and readied it, bracing himself for impact with the barbarian line.
Bregor crushed through the initial row of barbarians, trampling foes and splattering Telan with blood. His sword coursed through flesh, hacking away at his enemies with unequaled skill. All around him men cried out in pain and the rusty iron smell of gore percolated the battlefield. Telan ignored it, let it slip by until the vociferations and foul odors became only a muted entity in the back of his mind.
Telan reared Bregor and scanned the battlefield. The initial charge had been successful, the line of barbarians was broken and their ferocity sobered. Now that he had woken the enemy, it was time to trip them flat on their faces.
Telan raised his shield and reflected the sun seven times. The men knew the signal: retreat.
"Fall back! Fall back!"
Telan whirled his horse around and galloped from the combat, his men following. They were likely bewildered. If all went right, the enemy would be confused as well. As he hoped, the barbarians pursued, wildly chasing after Telan and his men. They had no chance of catching them. Even the Savages weren't that fast, and without a leader they did not remain in rank; rather, they stretched to a long file. Now was his chance. Telan turned the troop again, angling to his right ever so slightly, then more so, until he was nearly coming back full circle at a full charge. The horde remained out of rank. It was time. Telan wheeled Bregor back at the barbarian line in a full sprint. They were caught off guard and unable to ready a defense as his company crushed into the flank of their line.
Once through the flank Telan and his men were enveloped by barbarians. He had done all he could. Now he and his men would have to fight to their deaths. Telan quickly tallied the numbers in is head, figuring that about ten thousand barbarians had been slain, against two thousand of their own. If they could take eight thousand more with them to the grave, perhaps it would be enough to give thousands of innocents time to reach safety.
Telan flew from his mount and landed sharply against the ground, blood dripped from the back of his head. Bregor lay motionless on the ground, a three-step spear protruding from his shoulder. Telan had no time for grief; he quickly rose to his feet and parried a slash from an enemy ax, diverting it to the ground, then drove his sword through the man's chest. An arrow shot past his eyes, just grazing his cheek; he gave it no thought. A barbarian crushed a mace into the skull of another dismounted cavalryman; Telan swung his sword, decapitating the savage. Two more barbarians lunged at him, spears held high. He evaded one, ducking and lunging past him, and drove his sword through the man's back. As he pulled the blade, the other man swung his spear; Telan caught the shaft and kicked him in the chest, splintering his bones.
One by one Telan felled every foe that crossed his path, his sword the Hand of Fate itself, stained with gore from cross guard to tip. His hair clung to his sweaty, blood crusted skin. There were too many. No matter what number he killed, still twice more rose in their place. Hours had passed since the initial charge and only a few of his best and most fortunate men remained. But they too fell inevitably to barbarian arms, until only Telan endured. Swords slashed at his arms, drawing blood in sickening torrents; there were too many. The weight of thousands crushed against him; blades ripped into his flesh. Still, Telan fought on. Still, he slew his enemies. Still, he drew breath.
He fought on, until the only emotion that governed his action was the raging fury buried deep in his soul, awakened by the slaughter around him. Anger became everything, the driving force to exist, to endure. The desire for death, vengeance, and power permeated his existence.
Telan's eyes shot upward to a blackness stretching across the sky. It was not yet past midday, how could night be setting in? Without warning the blackness crashed down upon the battlefield, Telan felt a ravaging pain throughout his body, as if he were being ripped apart. He felt something sharp burst through his side.
"Telan!" A rough hand jerked Telan's breastplate, "Eternity, man! I can't believe you're alive. Wake up!" Slowly, Telan's eyes flickered open. At first he was blinded by brightness of the sun, speckles floating across his vision. He knew that voice, but it couldn't be...Adon? Memories rushed and he found himself remembering event of the battle. Images floated across his mind's eye. Images of a blackness stretching across the sky.
"Adon?" Telan propped himself on one elbow, ashes falling from him. "What are you doing here? How am I even alive? My entire company fell until I was the only one left standing, then...then...."
Adon finished his words, "The blackness came."
"My friend, all of Ethor saw. It was three days ago."
Telan sat up, becoming more aware and scanned his surroundings. Where once grass lay, as far as the eye could see, were now mounds of ash a step high and stretching five hundred steps in every direction; the blackness.
Adon rapped Telan's breastplate, grabbing his attention, "Listen to me Telan, and don't play games. We've known each other too long for that. What happened here?" A cold, unpleasant breeze guided dirty-blond hair into Adon's face. His cold blue eyes the color of sapphires were fixed on Telan.
"I can't recall much, only that I was very near death when the blackness appeared in the sky. I can't say who created it or how it came to be. All I know is that it is certainly what destroyed the barbarian army and nearly killed me. I still can't imagine how I wasn't taken with it. I sure as Oblivion felt the pain it must have caused."
Adon furrowed his brow and stood, helping Telan up. Several other Knights of Ethor stood waiting for Adon's orders. Adon was, like Telan, a Captain and Knight of Ethor. However, Adon commanded the largest army possible next to a General, and Telan the smallest. Adon had an inclination to the politics of Ethor, as well as aspects of leadership Telan had never mastered. Most times, Telan preferred solitude, and many people, even his own men, thought him a stubborn loner. He would not even have accepted the rank of Captain if not for Adon's convincing; yet, despite their differences, Adon was like Telan's brother and the only man he could truly call a friend. They had known each other since boyhood and trained together to become warriors and he couldn't remember a time when they weren't friends.
Drowsiness fading, Telan began to feel his injuries from the battle; his arms were deeply gashed, as well as his legs. He placed a hand on his torn blue Knight's Shirt and felt for blood. Fortunately, most of his wounds had begun to clot, but he had not been this badly injured in a long while. After a soldier fetched Telan a horse, he began to feel nearly recovered, yet still a good way fully returned to health. The animal was strong, but clearly fit for mere regulars in the army, not Captains such as Telan. In any event, he would have to ride it.
"Quit scowling, Telan."
Telan frowned, "I'm not scowling, I'm just...thinking, that's all. Aren't you the least bit curious how all this happened, Adon? I mean some ominous cloud expands across the sky eradicating my men and an army from the Savage Domain, and no one knows anything?"
Adon frowned, wrinkling his brow.
Telan snorted, "That's what I thought; you're always doing what the Council tells you. Never thinking about what you're doing. All that matters to you is orders. Well, I know there's more here than just what the Council can tell us."
If Adon was offended, Telan could see no change in his facial expression, nor hear a grunt of disagreement. Telan clenched the reins of his inadequate horse, glancing at the ash-strewn ground. His friend was accustomed to his coldness. Adon was just about the only person who could tolerate him, and sometimes even Telan wondered how.
"Well. Are you going to lead me to camp or not?"
Adon smiled and chuckled. What kind of reaction was that? The man laughed at his unpleasantness? Curse him, always playing the part of the more mature one. Adon had always been driven with a competitive edge when it came to how others perceived him. Telan, on the other hand, couldn't care less what people thought of him. What did it matter? He was who he was; some pointless fool couldn't change that. Not even the "all-powerful" High Council could.
"Come on," Adon started his horse at a walk, "the camp is this way. You can rest in my tent once we arrive..." he glanced at Telan askance, "...and use my wash-basin."
Wash-basin! How long had it been since Adon was in a battle? The man was a Captain not two years, like Telan, and he had barely seen a skirmish. Telan and his troop, on the other hand, had faced countless raids from the Savage Domain. Of course, none of the attacks were truly threatening, just typical raids. Depending on the time of year and the scarcity of game in the Domain, raids, which were quite frequent, consisted of a few hundred to few thousand men. Skirmishes with the barbarians were the reason Telan had desired to command the smallest company available for a Captain. Well, that and his poor leadership skills. There was no doubt that he was a great warrior, perhaps unequaled in all Ethor, along with Adon, of course. Nevertheless, a leader of men he was not. He had seen Adon command men. He had seen him rally their spirits and run camp like a king. Telan did not condemn him for these qualities; he only acknowledged that he, himself, was lacking in them. Still, Adon seemed to have grown soft in his command of an army. Before, he would not have joked about Telan's sanitation.
"Have you truly spent that much time in Ethadin that you cannot recall sleeping without a roof over your head?"
Adon's mouth smirked, in a half smile, "Yes. It has been some time since I rode to battle as frequently as you do. And believe me; I do not relish that fact. Perhaps in time, you too will understand the burdens I must carry."
"Burdens! All you and the Generals do is march around the interior, making a good show of your shiny armor, trying to recruit young men. You're more likely to be seen parading through the streets of Ethadin than actually fighting!"
"We are not at war, Telan. Well, at least not until this conflict." There was no question in Telan's mind what "this" was. "There's no need for the armies to be on the border, we have the small companies, like yours, for that. Besides, the cost of maintaining the armies is astronomical. You cannot comprehend the expenses that must be paid. And it's not like we never train, or hold mock tournaments and battles. I've tried to convince you to enter the competitions, and I can't for the life of me understand why you won't. You know you'd win them."
"I don't participate because I'm too busy fighting in real competitions, where to win is to live, and the alternative, death. You talk about expenses that must be paid, but paid in what...? Coins? My expenses are paid in blood, as you can see."
Adon frowned and broke eye contact with Telan. "I can see you're in a foul mood. To be honest, this is one of the few times you have a right to be; but don't use recent events as an excuse. Most think you're unpleasant because it's your nature. Try and prove them wrong by acting no grumpier than usual."
Neither of them spoke much the rest of the ride to camp. Adon seemed absorbed in some political matter or other that involved Ethadin's surrounding farmland. The man was grooming himself to become High Councilman of War before he was thirty. Telan resigned to studying the short yellow-green grasses of Northern Ethor-just beyond the ash encompassing the battlefield-twitch in the breeze as they trotted past. Every so often a small cricket would jump from its place on the bare dirt to just above the tips of the grass, exposing a vast new world filled with wonders literally as broad as the sky. Yet, in a breath it returned to its home, its place. Why do they jump Telan thought, if only to fall and return to where they were? It was a waste of time, to jump when falling was inevitable. Crickets were one of the few creatures which Telan had observed, during hours alone in training, that were so inefficient. Most living things were slavishly devoted to the quickest, easiest methods. But not crickets.
The sight of a five step high wood fence lurched Telan from his thoughts. The camp was already completely constructed, a fence circling around it. If there was one thing Ethirim had, it was discipline. The entire camp was probably built in a little less than three hours. Men had doubtless worked with relentless efficiency until each of their mindless tasks was completed-another reason Telan had no desire to command an army.
One of the men in the watchtowers called out to them, "Captain Adon? Have you a survivor?"
Adon looked up, just realizing that they had reached camp. "Yes, Aelden. Just one. Your good friend, Captain Telan." Adon's mirth did nothing to appease Telan's temper, for Aelden Caydon had the fortune of being on the long list of men who loathed him.
A few years older than Telan, Aelden had always felt threatened by him. Telan, while still younger, was taller, quicker, and more adept than Aelden, in every aspect of their training. Prior to his and Adon's arrival, Aelden was the unquestioned authority among boys selected for elite training. After Telan and Adon had asserted themselves, Aelden took it as a personal challenge and began taunting them. Adon, level-headed future politician that he was, explained at great length that he respected Aelden, as an elder and a peer. Telan on the other hand, made no pretense of acknowledgment. In his mind, Aelden had insulted him and was to be taught a lesson. If he had one vice, above all others, it was vengeance. If someone wronged him, they would get what they deserved. As would be expected, his unwillingness to acknowledge respect led to a challenge. At the time it was not customary for boys of such a young age, not past fourteen years, to duel, especially with real weapons, so news quickly spread throughout the training grounds that "Telan and Aelden were dueling to the death!" Instructors dismissed it as behavior typical of youths, nothing to worry about. Both, however, had other plans.
Telan had, regardless of ego, little respect for Aelden. He was three years older, and was a member of the first class of boys taught under the then-new High Councilman of War's recent training programs. As such, he had exclusive training with the Masters, a benefit Telan would have greatly enjoyed. Nevertheless, he was no match for Telan. It took him only a few minutes to dispatch Aelden with relative ease. He was simply too fast, too strong-despite his age-and too gifted, not to mention significantly taller, at nearly a three-quarter step. Aelden ran for his room like a wounded animal. While he had no mortally harmful wounds-just a few scratches-his pride and status among peers was fatally damaged. For this, Aelden never forgave Telan. Telan, however, had no desire for forgiveness.
It was after their duel, and subsequent punishment, that Telan-and soon Adon-were hailed combative prodigies, excelling in all levels of fighting. In short time, Telan was instructed only by the Masters. Only Adon, too, achieved such an honor, leaving Aelden like a despot without a legacy...forgotten.
Telan had not seen the fool for some time, having graduated before him-yet another slight at his talent-and noticed that he had grown and appeared to have filled out. The man before him now was exactly that. A man. Not the boy Telan remembered embarrassing, in front of all. No, Aelden had indeed used his shame as a motivator. Now he was taller, just a width shy of three steps, it seemed, and muscular, more muscular than Telan. His blue eyes had a fierce glint to them and his dark blond hair, typical of most Ethirim except Telan, was kept short, unlike Telan and Adon's.
"It's a shame. I'd have rather you returned with a Savage."
"It's a shame you weren't battling with us, Lieutenant Aelden. Where were you? During the battle, that is. Hiding in Adon's tent, as you always have, when danger approaches?"
Aelden's features tightened and his hand went visibly to the hilt of his sword, "Not all can be as brave as you, mighty Telan!"
Adon motioned his horse forward trying to end the conversation, but Telan continued, "You're right, but more importantly, not all are as cowardly as you, Knight. Now open these gates, let me in, and show the respect that is due to a superior officer, especially one who has come from a battle that defended Ethor." Aelden grunted, but called down to the men below, who operated the gate, to let them in. Doubtless, he would give Telan hell later.
Inside, the camp was bustling with activity; various couriers were scurrying about giving messages to many different Captains on a myriad of topics. Soldiers sharpened their blades, shined their shields and strung their bows, ready for battle. Most of them were not seasoned as Telan and his troop had been, despite some being ten years his senior. If there was a battle with anywhere near as many ravenous Barbarians as he had faced earlier, Ethor would need a heavy advantage in numbers. Contrary to what most Ethirim believed, the barbarians were hardly barbaric at all; they merely lacked the hierarchy and process that kept Ethor at peace and united, militarily speaking at least. Elections for High Council could be seen as fierce a battle as any; he and his troop of cavalry had learned over their time on the borders of the Savage Domain that "they" were every bit as intelligent as most Ethirim, and when it came to battle, on plain or marsh, they knew it as well as any.
Aelden slid down the ladder from the watchtower, his armor-considerably heavier than Telan's or Adon's-clanging audibly, and rested his hands on his leather belt. The man was doubtless trying to antagonize him.
Telan turned to Adon, "Let's go. I need some rest...and a bath."
"You're right." Adon nodded to Aelden, "We must be going, Aelden. The general wants to see Telan as soon as he is rested and cleaned."
Aelden frowned and grunted, "I have things to do anyway. My hand is not far from here and I will no doubt find them sleeping in their tents, with shields turned over."
Telan turned and walked away, in no particular direction, so long as it was away from Aelden. He could hear Adon, a few feet away, chuckling and wishing Aelden luck with his hand, before turning and catching up with him. While he did hate Aelden, his feelings toward the man were trivial in comparison with the magnitude of the day's events.
"You shouldn't antagonize him."
Telan scowled and dismissed the comment with a grunt, "Just take me to your tent. I need some rest." Adon nodded and gestured to the north end of camp.
"Are you sure you're all right, Telan? You look...dizzy. Are you bleeding?"
Now that Adon mentioned it, he was feeling a bit groggy. His legs were weak and his eyes felt heavy. He hadn't been injured too seriously, why would he be disoriented? "I'm fine. Just tired, that's all."
Adon's brow rose, "Telan, you're bleeding! Badly!" He reached at Telan's stomach where a dark, damp blotch of blood was quickly growing. "How could you have not mentioned this? It looks as if a savage ran you through with his sword...."
Telan couldn't hear his last words as the tents around him began to spin and the ground twisted and turned beneath him. He put his hand to his midsection, feeling for the wound. Adon was right; it did look as if a sword had stabbed him. He brought his hand to his face, it was covered in blood, yet he felt no pain.
He couldn't maintain his balance any more and crashed to the ground. Why was he bleeding so much? No one had stabbed him, he would have remembered that. A pool of blood was growing around him. It appeared that death had returned for him.
Telan woke to the dimness of a tent. The tent was large, comparatively speaking, and warm; he could feel the tender heat of a fire on his right cheek. It must have been Adon's tent; only Captains were given tents so large-other than generals. His armor had been removed as well as his shirt and pants; all that covered him were bed-sheets and bandages wrapped around his stomach.
As he tried to rise from bed he felt a throbbing pain in his midsection; he was far from fully healed and his bandages were soaked with blood. His clothes were folded-and apparently cleaned-on a dresser, which stood on the opposite side of the tent from the fire. Before he had a chance to get to them, however, a courier entered through the tent flap. He was a short man, like most Ethirim, and, being a courier, wore no armor, only typical blue and gold garments of a government official.
"Telan Mithardin, I presume?"
Telan turned, scratching the sleep from his eyes, to the courier, who eyed him uncomfortably. The man had probably seldom seen a man as tall as Telan or so gravely injured. "What is it?"
"The general requests your presence...as soon as you are cleaned and well, of course."
"Tell the general that I will be there shortly."
The courier nodded and turned curtly to exit the tent, but not before he eyed Telan askance again.
Another person had suggested he clean himself, perhaps he did need a bath. After all, he hadn't had one in days and he was covered in blood, his own and his enemies. Resolving to clean himself, Telan strode tentatively-he still couldn't see clearly-to the wash-basin filled with scalding water which rested close to the fire.
The scalding water felt soothing on his wounds and tired muscles and he rested his heavy eyelids. There had been little time for rest over the last few days. First Telan and his company had been told to return to Ethadin after they had discovered the savage horde; that took three days hard ride. Then the High Council told him to ride back out and face the army they had worked so hard to tell the council of, without reinforcements; another three days with little to no sleep. Participating in the largest battle Ethor had seen in hundreds of years hadn't helped either. His muscles were sore in places he wished didn't exist, his bones ached from the strain of riding for days on end and his lacerations throbbed with pain.
Yes. A bath was a good idea.
It was all the council's fault. "The barbarians will never be able to maintain an army." The High Councilman of Commerce-Kael Natrek-had said. "They have no supply train or camp followers. By the time you return they'll have killed each other off." Natrek was a damned fool. Barbarians didn't need a supply train; they survived off plunder, raiding nearby villages and farms for sustenance. It wasn't just that fat fool Kael Natrek, though. Others had made similar claims of savage ineptitude and the glory of Ethiric cavalry. They didn't understand that Telan's troop wasn't meant for large scale battles, or even normal scale battles. The purpose of a cavalry troop was to skirmish with small barbarian raiding parties; to keep them from spilling their inter-tribal quarrels into Ethiric territory. Facing a unified savage force was suicide for a minute cavalry troop. It didn't help either that the one High Councilmember Telan had any faith in hadn't even bothered to show up at the meeting. The Prime Consul, a frail old woman, seemed to have exiled herself to Ethadin's ancient libraries when the nation needed her most.
Telan rose from the bath and toweled off with a coarse cloth. He strode to the dresser and quickly dressed, slipping on his rough black Captain's pants, his once-white cotton undershirt and then his dark blue Captain's shirt. Next he put on his black leather baldric, which, at the moment, had no sword to accompany it, as it was lost in the battle, and clapped on a pair of red Phoenix-emblazoned gauntlets-marks of his rank as Captain. Last he donned his armor, which was light and made for riding hard over long periods of time. Most of it was thick tanned leather, not easily penetrated except by a direct thrust. The breast- and shoulder-plates, however, were covered with thin panels of steel. His helmet was lost in a skirmish just before he and his company discovered the horde and hastened to Ethadin to inform the High Council.
Slipping his brown leather boots on, Telan stumbled out of the tent and nearly bumped into a young recruit, a boy-well, not really a boy, probably only a year younger than Telan-who looked as if he belonged on a farm, milking cows, rather than preparing for the largest battle Ethor had ever seen. Telan noticed something in the recruit's eyes; something that no warrior should have: innocence. The boy didn't have the strength to live through a skirmish much less a full scale battle and there was little doubt in Telan's mind that this boy would die if he faced a force anywhere near the one from three days ago.
Telan, unlike the recruit, had the strength necessary to do what was necessary. He had the cold resolve required of a soldier. Scouts for the army called it courage, writers called it duty, but they were simply euphemisms for the truth. The look that Telan and Adon, and even Aelden's eyes exhibited was ruthlessness. He had no time to care for his enemy, no time to hesitate even for a breath, lest death take him and his soul be cast to Oblivion. Compassion was for the weak and the dead. He used the rage inside him to fuel his ruthlessness, to fuel his survival. That boy would be slaughtered before he had a chance.
"Captain Telan Mithardin?"
Telan hadn't noticed that the recruit was still standing next to him. "What is it?"
"Uh, sir...I have a horse for you, sir. It's from the general, he told me to wait for you outside your tent and give it to you. He also said to tell you to come to his tent as quickly as possible."
Telan looked over the horse. It was a decent animal; tall, not strong, but not weak, either. Its dark brown fur appeared freshly cleaned and combed. The animal would do.
The recruit still stood next to him, straight as a board. "Did you want something?"
"Uh...well no, sir. I mean yes, sir. I was just wondering well...what it's like."
"What what's like?"
"Well...um...battle, sir. What is it like to be out there, surrounded by enemies."
"You really want to know the truth? Not what the scouts tell you about nobility and honor."
Telan paused and looked straight into the recruit's eyes, then turned away as he began to smile.
"Wait, sir! You never told me!"
"What's this? Yelling at a Captain? What's your name, soldier?"
"Uh, Riker, sir. My name is Tim Riker. But I didn't mean to yell, sir. Honest."
Telan couldn't help but chuckle; maybe the boy did have a chance. "The answer, well that's simple. It's fun as hell." He could see the boy smile as he walked away. He had told the truth, despite all the atrocities of war, all the bloodshed, it was what he was born to do. Battle was the only time when he was truly alive. When every breath could be his last, every breath became significant. Battle, its threat of death, gave life meaning.
A quick whistle called the horse the recruit had brought him to his side. Swiftly mounting the animal, Telan spurred it to the north end of the camp, towards the general's tent. He took the horse at a gallop and observed soldiers, many much older than he, sitting around campfires; their eyes apparently still groggy from sleep. He must have slept an entire day since he collapsed, which was unlike him. Usually, he healed much quicker than the average man. Small cuts and bruises were healed in less than a couple of days, injuries such as the one he had now, took about a week, when it took upwards of a month for most, which was why it troubled him that the wound had bled like it did. Wounds like the one he had now should have clotted already. It was peculiar, to say the least.
The culture of the camp began to change as Telan proceeded north. The poor class that populated the lower ranks was no longer as prominent-wealthier recruits resided in private tents, paid for with their own money rather than receiving typical standard issue tents. Most of the men in this part of the camp were sons of wealthy merchants or politicians, looking for excitement or a chance to make a name for themselves; doubtless to gain popularity for future elections. This was the ruling class that had degraded Ethor; and it was the fathers of these men who had condemned his troop to death. Telan was alone now, because of them. In a way, though, he had always been alone. Not even Adon was very close with him-it didn't matter anyway; he needed no one. He wasn't like the social elite, depending on parties and gatherings to further themselves in a futile attempt to make use of their lives. No. He was fine by himself. As it should be; as it had always been.
A four step wooden wall stood in front of Telan, with a hastily crafted gate fixed in the middle. On either side stood two Conseleian Guards-men who gave their lives to protect the elite of Ethor; the councilmen, the generals, and even members of the High Council. They were tall, as far as Ethirim went, at just under three steps in height. Their faces were locked and rigid, seemingly carved from stone and their eyes glazed over, staring straight through Telan. However, their attire was superfluous, to say the least. Silver armor gleamed, lined with gold filigree and each man held a large shield fit with a metal designed to reflect like a mirror but protect like steel; Telan could see his reflection clear as day in those shields. A man had once approached him about becoming a Conseleian Guard, but Telan had no desire to even listen to the High Council, much less serve them.
"I'm here to see the general, Guard."
The man continued to stare through Telan, "You are Mithardin?"
"Yes," Telan added an acerbic tone to his reply. He didn't like when anyone talked down to him.
"You may enter. The General has been waiting. It would be wise for you to hurry."
Telan glared at the man, "There's no need for your wisdom here, Guard."
The man didn't acknowledge him as the gate opened and he passed through.
The north end of the camp was an entirely different world from the southern end. It lacked common folk who comprised the majority of the Ethiric population. Instead, Ethor's social elite resided in lavish tents, larger than some houses Telan had seen. It was absurd; the ruling class had lost all touch with its people. Families starved, and bled, and died, while these councilman and businessmen reclined on their couches divulging in their materialism and gluttony. The people of Ethor had no knowledge of the corruption that ran unchecked through the wealthy. Telan, however, could see through their lies and deceit. He was no fool for flowery orations and empty promises; he saw the truth and did not let society keep him from voicing it. Perhaps that was why so many disliked or shied away from him. Telan grinned, that was only part of it. The truth of it was that he was different. Most Ethirim were short, light brown or blonde haired, and blue eyed; stocky and articulate-or at least thought of themselves that way. Telan exhibited none of those traits. He was tall at three and a quarter-step. He had bright hazel eyes, almost gold they were so bright, and his hair was a dark, nearly black, color-much darker than the usual brown Ethiric hair. His body was toned, but slender. No one would consider him extremely muscular, but no one would call him soft, either. Lastly, he was anything but articulate. In almost every way, he was brash and insensitive. Excuses, a voice in the back of his head muttered. Yes, excuses, he thought. Nevertheless, he was who he was; he accepted it, and even relished it. The world was better without companions anyway. Except for Adon. He was the only one that Telan tolerated or who tolerated him.
A massive tent appeared before Telan, suddenly drawing him from his reverie and back to reality; back to the task at hand. Outside the general's tent stood the first secretary to the general, who was blanketed on either side by two more Conseleian guards. The secretary was a short man, even by Ethiric standards, and was dressed in absurdly extravagant clothing, which he had a hard time keeping under control in the fierce winds. The gloss of his white shirt, lined with gold running up the sides and edges, highlighted an awkwardly large belly and his pants were of a similar style, except they were embossed with even more gold, and silver. Around his neck a silver necklace marking him as secretary to the general gleamed with jewels. Not a finger on his hand was bare, either, as each bore a large jewel, fitted onto a ring.
The secretary looked up to Telan, through droopy old eyelids that made him look hopelessly weary, and clicked his tongue. "You are late, boy. What gives you the gall to keep the general himself waiting! You are just a mere Captain, and a lowly Captain at that. The general should have you lashed for such insubordination!"
Telan peeked around the secretary, observing the silhouettes in the tent gesticulating in obvious displeasure, and responded, "Even if I cared, secretary," Telan added a harsh tone to his voice, "I haven't kept the general waiting for me any more than he already would."
"Are you insulting my intelligence, Telan Mithardin? You, who led his troop to massacre, you who have disobeyed the High Council enough times I can barely count, would dare questing my intelligence?"
"You must be able to count very high if you can count the number of times I've disobeyed the council."
"Why yes, I can count rather..." the secretary caught himself, "that's not important. The general is busy with Hailem Kimder, the High Councilman of War, himself. They're no doubt discussing this debacle you've put the empire in, and how to properly reprimand you. Now you just wait somewhere near, so when they're finished you won't keep the general waiting."
Telan chuckled provokingly as he walked over to a chest which was doubtless left out while the wealthy were unpacking and had been lost in the fray, and plopped down tiredly, crossing his legs. Even a good distance from the tent, he could tell that the general and Kimder were having a heated argument. Kimder's audible shouts were difficult to discern, but Telan thought he heard his name several times. Perhaps the secretary was right, and they were discussing...disciplinary actions. Damn them, Telan thought. Neither had any notion of how to battle; they were just playing war, like a pair of children. Just like every other wealthy Ethirim, born into their riches, they were granted positions of authority regardless of aptitude. Damn them all.
"Telan? Telan Mithardin?"
The voice was soft and elegant; one that Telan was all too familiar with. Arha. If there was one person he desired to see least it was her. Why? Why does she have to be here? His features hardened as, in a rare moment of compassion, he tried not to betray his disinterest.
"Oh...Arha. So...nice...to see you." Oddly, she seemed troubled by something. Something she tried to hide, but couldn't quite rid from her eyes.
"You're so kind, silly. You should have known I'd be here; my father is the richest man in Ethadin, after all. There's no chance he'd miss a good battle. Especially since there hasn't been a full scale conflict in over fifty years!"
Arha was trying to flirt with him. Trying, and in vain, to relate with him or to get some type of information about him-the girl could be conniving sometimes. Damn the fool girl, Telan sighed. It wasn't that she was unattractive, if anything she was gorgeous. Her long brown hair fell well past her shoulders and her bangs framed her face in a pleasing way. She was short compared to Telan, but not by Ethiric standards. In fact, she was as tall as most men; a feature that she was well aware of, and used as a significant asset. Height was only one of Arha's many assets and her figure another of them. Even Telan couldn't help but stare a little. She was thin, but not skinny, and well-endowed in all the right places. Today, Arha seemed particularly conscious of her gifts, as she wore a tight fitting shirt, which she let go unbuttoned near the top, even snugger brown breeches, and shin-high black leather boots. As alluring as Arha was, Telan still felt little to nothing for her. Maybe it was her father, who he certainly didn't care for, maybe it was her flamboyance. In any event, she was just a nuisance to him.
"I should've known he'd be here. You wealthy are all the same. You think this is just a game. And you know what? I could care less, because it might as well be a game with you people running things."
"You're so funny, Telan. No one thinks war is a game. My father just acknowledges that it's an important event in the history of Ethor and he wants to be here to see it. To tell the truth though, I'm only here because of you. I was so worried that you were dead, I mean, just looking at that battlefield I had my doubts. But that was just for a second, then I knew that you were alive, I knew that you were okay. Aren't you going to ask me to sit next to you?"
Telan thought about just letting her stand there; maybe if he ignored her she'd just walk away. No. That wouldn't work, it'd just make her cry, and he didn't dislike her that much. He could be as insensitive as a rock with most people, but for some reason he didn't want to hurt her feelings. Maybe she just seemed too naive to insult.
"Uh, sure. Have a seat, Arha."
Arha gracefully settled down next to Telan, leaning against him ever so slightly, and nonchalantly brushed her hair from her face.
"So, I assume that General Mark wants to see you? You shouldn't dislike the man so much, you know. He's done great things for Ethor, and I can't for the life of me understand why you hate anyone who associates with politicians. From what I hear, he's been in his tent for hours arguing with High Councilman Kimder about what to do with you. It would be very unwise to draw his ire, Telan Mithardin."
She just doesn't get it, does she?
"Arha, I don't care what Mark or Kimder do, or think they can do to me. I'm only doing...this," he gestured to his Phoenix-emblazoned gauntlets, "because Adon wanted me too. I don't care about being a Captain of Ethor."
Arha's face became concerned, and as she gazed into his eyes, he felt as if he was looking at her for the first time. "They're not just talking about demoting or discharging you, Telan." She paused, wiping a stray tear from her face.
"Uh, what's...wrong, Arha? What are they talking about?"
He could only make out one word through her sobs, which she futilely tried to hide.
Exile? They wanted to exile him? "Don't worry, Arha." He said, half assuring himself, "That's just idle talk, why would they exile me. My company would have been massacred anyway, it wasn't negligence. You saw that thing in the sky, how was I supposed to stop that?"
She looked up at him, wiping tears from her eyes, which were red from weeping. "Then the rumors aren't true?"
"'What rumors'? The ones that say you've been marked by the blackness that destroyed the savage army. The rumors that say you collapsed in the middle of the camp, blood gushing from your side, from a wound that burned any men who tried to aid you. The rumors that say when the bleeding stopped you were left with an evil mark on your side. A mark that wasn't...natural. Those rumors. Those are the rumors I'm talking about, Telan Mithardin, you big idiot!"
She buried her face in her hands, weeping more than before.
He should of let her cry, then she wouldn't bother him anymore. But he didn't hate her. He didn't want to see her cry.
"Don't worry, Arha. I don't have this mark that you've heard about. I would know, wouldn't I?"
She looked up at him again, her eyes redder than before. She really does care for me, he thought. For a moment she appeared to relax, but before he had a chance she lunged at his arm and pulled back his sleeve.
Telan sat in shock. How could he not have noticed? He had bathed and he still hadn't noticed it. His eyes had been groggy, though, and now that he thought about it, most of the time they were only half open, before he dressed.
Arha sat back in horror. She looked as if she wanted to run off a cliff. But then, she lunged at him again. Except this time, she didn't try to expose the mark. This time she embraced him, held him in her arms, and he made no motion to push her away. For once, he didn't care if Arha thought he cared for her in an intimate way. For once, he actually took comfort in her affection.
The two of them sat there for a moment; Arha weeping against his chest, his arm around her. He still didn't share her feelings, but she needed compassion from someone. Someone to comfort her. Maybe he did too.
Arha flinched as a Hailem Kimder strode out from Mark's tent, a wry smile on his face. He held a cup of tea in his hand, which he sipped as he walked by Telan and Arha. Telan could never get over how much the man resembled him, even though they weren't related. Kimder seemed to be on his way towards his own tent, but he stopped and, never looking at him, said, "Goodbye, Mithardin. The General tried to lobby for your exile, but I wouldn't have it. A man with your...mark, deserves execution."
Kimder's words bit into Telan as he walked away. Execution he thought, I could've dealt with exile, but I'll not be killed by these fools!
Once Kimder was out of sight, Telan turned to Arha, who sat pale and solemn next to him, clutching his arm. "I need to get to Adon. Stall the guards if they ask for me. I'm sure you won't have a problem with that."
Telan stood up and adjusted his armor, wishing he had a weapon, even a small dagger, but Arha held onto his arm, wiping what appeared to be her last tears away as she strengthened her expression.
"Will I ever see you again?"
He looked her in the eyes, not wanting to say what he knew was the truth. She was beautiful, no question about that. Maybe he could take her with him. No. Her place was here, with her father, with the other wealthy. Besides, it would only make her believe something existed when it did not.
"I...hope so, Arha. I hope so."
With those words he whirled around, sprinting toward the southern end of the camp. Why hadn't Adon told him about the mark? He had to have known. After all, the rumors came from when he had collapsed. Adon must have known. But then why hadn't he found him? He knew what would happen to him if the Counil new about such a mark.
Telan skidded to a halt before the guards at the northern gate entrance.
"Open the gate, guard."
The man snickered, maybe he shouldn't have been so rude to him after all.
"Where are you of to in such a hurry? Didn't like what the general had to say?"
Telan groaned and rolled his eyes. He didn't have time for this, Arha could only hold of the guards at Mark's tent for so long.
"At least I gave you a chance."
Telan drove his fist square in the man's face, breaking his nose. Then he spun and swept his legs out from under him and knocked him in the head once more, making sure he was unconscious. He would only have a few more minutes before someone found the guard and sounded an alarm.
Sprinting down the southern end of the camp, Telan scanned the tents, looking for Adon's. He had a vague idea of where it was, but he couldn't remember exactly. Should've paid more attention. Men glanced at him askance as he dashed down the paths created between tents and navigated his way in between confused couriers. Adon's tent was somewhere around here, he knew that much, and it would be the largest in the area.
He saw it. A large tent, it had to be Adon's. No one else would have a tent that large in this end of the camp. He rounded a corner, headed for Adon's tent. As he turned the corner he collided into a passing soldier. The hit left him and the other man on their behinds.
"Telan? For Eternity's sake man, I've been looking all over for you! The general is going to execute you. You need to get out of here!"
At least that answered why Adon hadn't told him.
"I've been looking for you to. Can you get me a horse and a sword?"
"I have a horse waiting at the eastern gate, but I can't spare a sword. Here," he reached for a bow that he had wrapped and hung around his back, "take this."
Telan slung the bow around his shoulder. "Thanks."
"Ride east, anywhere else is still in Ethor and if you want to stay alive you'll stay out of Ethor, they'll be looking for you; especially Kimder, for some reason that man wants you dead. East will take you...I don't know, I don't think anyone knows where it will take you, but it's away from here. Of that much I'm certain."
"East? Where am I supposed to go? It's just leagues of empty plains."
"The Prime Consul, whom I've just spoken with concerning your condition, and I agree," How in Oblivion did Adon manage to speak with her? "You should go east, beyond the plains."
"Beyond the plains? You don't mean I should try and climb over Cloud Peaks, do you? That's insane, we're not sure if there's even anything that exists past the Peaks."
"Think about what you're saying, Telan. There must be something beyond them. Besides, the legends can't come from nowhere."
"I know the legends, but they're just children's stories about lands of great nations and people with amazing powers. None of it's true."
"The Prime Consul has faith in them. She gave me counsel to tell you to make for the 'city in a lake.'"
Telan snickered, "Adon, this is ridiculous, those stories about the 'city in a lake' and the wise woman are all just myths and nothing more."
"Telan, do you have much choice? You must know about the mark on your arm and side. I don't think you should be executed Telan, but something serious has happened to you. You nearly bled to death a few hours ago, and I have no doubt that mark was the cause of it, or a sign of it. Whatever it is I can feel an almost tangible murderous intent from it. You must feel it too; it's eating away at you. Even the healer that tended to you was frightened."
Telan couldn't argue Adon's logic, but then, logic was never a friend of his. Though, he could not deny the mark's murderous intent. "I know. I've seen the mark. I'm still not sure this is a good idea, though, Prime Consul or not, Linore is crazy old bat."
"You don't have a choice; you have to act. Stay in Ethor and you die by execution. Leave and stay near it, the mark will kill you. Over the Peaks is your only hope."
Telan sighed and masked his frustration, "I guess I've been trying to get out of this place my whole life; now's as good a time as any."
"Eh, don't get sentimental on me now." Adon replied, sarcastically. "Besides, by the time you return, I'll likely be High Councilman of War."
Telan laughed, typical Adon. "You know I won't miss you. Remember, I'm a loner; I'm used to people not liking me. With no one around, I'll finally have some peace."
"Keep telling yourself that, Telan. Maybe one day, you'll believe it."
They both stood up and clasped hands at their Phoenix-emblazoned gauntlets.
Adon smiled, "I'll tell Arha you left on a quest for her."
"Oblivion, man! I already led that stupid girl on enough for one day. I actually hugged her; she probably thought it was a proposal for marriage."
"I always knew you liked her."
"Don't get me started, she's attractive, but...I don't know what. I just don't care for her...that way."
"How typical," Adon sighed, scratching his nose, "you have a gorgeous woman, whose father is the richest man in Ethadin, and she's not your type."
"What can I say, she just isn't. I don't hate her, though. She's just...naive, if she knew how things really were I don't think she could take it. Promise me you'll look out for her. Maybe she'll even fall for you!"
"I should be so lucky." He paused, and clapped Telan on the shoulder, "Goodbye, Telan. It'll be boring without you."
"Now hurry, the guards will come looking for you any minute, and I'll be in a heap of trouble if they find out I helped you, so get out of here."
Telan nodded and turned around, sprinting to the eastern gate. Although he would never admit it, he would truly miss Adon. It helped to have just one friend to talk to, or complain to. To have one person who understood him. It would be a long time before he saw Adon again. By then he would likely be one of the most powerful men in Ethor.
However, Telan's thoughts were on things other than Adon's impending political success. The east was supposedly only a myth, most Ethirim didn't believe anything existed beyond the Peaks, but there were the legends. Legends that told of hundreds of nations, all like Ethor, which were centers of knowledge and power. One legend, above all, called to Telan. The legend Adon had spoken of, the legend about the "city in the lake." As a boy, Telan had heard that the "city in the lake" was a massive city in the middle of a lake, far to the east, where men and women with amazing powers dwelled. Adon was right. If it existed, it was where he needed to go. If it existed, however, which there wasn't much chance of. But it was his only chance.
Telan halted before the eastern gate, where a sturdy horse stood, tied to a post of a watchtower. Adon was clever, a sturdy horse was exactly what he needed. It could gallop for hours without rest, far longer than most other horses, especially the war horses that most soldiers would have. With a head start, he would be difficult to catch.
He hopped onto the horse, which was saddled already and hastily untied the knot.
"Guard!" he called up to whoever was on duty in the watchtower. "Open the gate, I have business."
"Who do you think you are, ordering people around?" a familiar voice called.
Telan groaned, "Damn you, Aelden. Just open the gate."
He looked down at Telan in contempt.
"You're lucky Adon is a good man. If it weren't for him, you'd be as good as dead right now."
The gate slowly wheeled open. Adon was clever. He should have known that he would have chosen someone trustworthy to work the gate. Well, someone Adon could trust, at least
Instead of bolting through the gate as he should have, he urged the horse forward tentatively. This was it. He was leaving Ethor and he wouldn't return for a very long time, if ever. He might die trying to cross the Peaks, or perhaps the mark would kill him. It was the beginning of a new chapter in his life, one he had often imagined and even dreamed of. A life away from the restrictions of Ethor, where he would be free to do as he pleased and worry about himself, instead of everyone else around him. Yet, it took the black mark that slithered from the wound in his side around his shoulder and left arm like a pair of sinuous snakes, to get him to leave.
"What're you waiting for, Mithardin. This is your chance."
Telan sat in his saddle, gazing at the twitching blades of grass.
He looked up, taking in the yellow-green planes that stretched for leagues, and smirked. "I know."
As the words left his mouth, a powerful gust of wind whipped against his back, pushing him onward; he spurred his horse, sprinting to Cloud Peaks. To the east.
lol... no room for chapter 2+ wtf do i do..
Last edited by pchunter
on November 9th, 2008, 6:59 pm, edited 11 times in total.