I am very near completion of Realms Knights Fall and should be entering the publishing process later this month.
Relams The Awakening is now available on Kindle and Nook!
Search; "Realms The Awakening by E. Otto Tilley" on your favorite ebook site!
Monday, December 5, 2011
Ecel, Belal and Jazaal waited to ambush the dark riders. The sun was beginning to set and shadows were beginning to form in the forest. Every bush looked like some sort of living creature. Ecel thought he saw movement down the trail. He squinted his eyes but the object would not come into focus. He closed his eyes so that they would become acclimated to the darkness. Then he opened them and looked at the object again. It was only a palm bush.
Then the silence of the evening was broken by the distinctive footsteps of some type of large animal. Ecel crouched down and peered through the leafy cover. It sounded like a horse, only its steps were too erratic and slow. Ecel caught a familiar scent. It was the smell of a big buck. Soon the massive creature was browsing right next to him. It was totally unaware of his presence. A good sign for his ambush.
He continued to watch the majestic creature feed. He was amazed at the massive rack of antlers on top of its head. Ecel could feel his heart pounding in his chest. He wondered how the beasts keen hearing couldn’t detect the sound of his heart beating. Then the buck suddenly stopped feeding and looked down the trail behind them. Ecel knew its stance meant that it had smelled or seen something. Now Ecel and the deer were motionless. Ecel became aware of something warm on his face about the same time the deer staggered and then fell.
Ecel reached up and touched the warm spot on his face. Bringing his fingers into sight, he saw the blood. Then he spotted a massive blood soaked arrow in the tree beyond where the buck had been standing. A dark rider called out.
“The stag is mine!”
Ecel froze as the large horse of the dark rider galloped to his position. It stopped just before trampling him.
“That shall make good meal tonight.” The dark rider called out. “Young one!” The dark rider ordered and a young boy rode up to his position. “Take the deer back to camp and dress it out.” The boy nodded and dismounted his horse to secure the deer.
Ecel was almost between the feet of the dark riders horse. The horse shuffled it’s feet slightly and Ecel tried to avoid touching its legs. Then the dark rider returned to the main trail and lead the band of riders towards the road. Ecel couldn’t move because the young rider was trying to tie the deer to the horse to return to camp. He listened as the parade of riders went by and he knew the trap would soon spring, but he couldn’t get into position without alerting the young rider.
He watched the boy to determine if he would be gone in time, but the boy was fumbling with getting a knot tied to the deer. Finally, Ecel had to make a decision. He jumped up and grabbed the boy from behind. The boy fought, but Ecel knocked him out with his elbow. The boys horse neighed and the lead rider held up his hand to stop the line of riders. Jazaal and Belal could see the line of riders, but they had no idea of what Ecel was doing. They had not seen the rider kill the deer, and they wondered if the lead rider was suspicious of the trail.
The lead rider called out. “Boy!”
Ecel had him unconscious and pinned against the tree away from the riders.
“Are you okay?” The rider called out.
Ecel quickly grabbed his arm from behind and held his arm out from behind the tree and waved it back and forth.
The lead rider waited for a moment then called out again. “Hurry and get that deer back to camp!” Then he motioned with his arm and the rest of the riders began to move. Ecel let the boy down to the ground, tied his hands and gagged his mouth. The boy was wearing a large fur cloak. Ecel thought for a moment. He knew he couldn’t cover the ground on foot that the boy had cost him. The trap would soon spring and he would have to be in place to take care of the last rider.
The lead rider approached the road slowly. Jazaal and Belal sat motionless waiting to spring from their concealed position. Ecel placed the fur cloak over himself and mounted the boys horse. The lead rider looked carefully down both sides of the road then began to walk forward. A small bead of sweat rolled down the bridge of Belal’s nose and landed on a leaf below. Ecel nudged the horse just short of a gallop to catch up to the back of the line of riders.
The lead rider caught Ecel’s movement. “Boy?” The rider turned his horse to face the back of the line. When the horse turned, it’s back legs tripped the wire releasing the log that Ecel had hoisted into the air. Ecel saw the trap spring and he kicked the horse into a full gallop. The lead rider called out. “Boy!” As the word escaped his mouth, the log swung into his side and threw him across the road and into a tree on the other side. He fell motionless to the ground.
“It’s a trap!” The next rider called out. Jazaal and Belal sprung their traps. Jazaal’s rider fell dead. As the last riders horse wheeled backwards from the trap, Ecel ripped the cloak off to free his arms. The rider hit the ground in a daze. Ecel leapt from his horse in full gallop, drew his sword, and plunged it into the rider. They both his the ground and rolled several times.
Now all the dark riders were aware and looking for the attackers. One drew down on Jazaal with a black arrow, but Jazaal twisted as it neared him. Jazaal quickly dropped into the thick underbrush and rolled several feet. He jumped up and intercepted a rider in full gallop. Before the rider could react to his presence, Jazaal plunged his sword into his belly. Ecel jumped up and spotted two riders closing in on Belal.
“Belal get down!” He called out.
Belal dropped into the brush. Ecel drew back his bow and followed the first rider for a second then released the arrow. It quickly found it’s mark, piercing the dark riders head. He fell limp in the saddle and the horse galloped into the forest. The second rider stopped where Belal had dropped down. He pulled back on the horses reigns and circled looking for him. Belal jumped up and plunged his sword into his side. The rider fell, but Belal’s inexperience with a sword and left the rider wounded but still able to fight.
Ecel began running to Belal while Jazaal continued to pick off riders with his bow. Belal and the wounded rider clanged their swords. The rider was stronger than Belal even with his wounds. As Ecel neared the two men he felt the ground beneath his feet rumbling. He dropped to his knees and thrust his sword back over his head just in time to cut down the horse of a dark rider that was attacking from behind. The horse collapsed and rolled over Ecel, throwing the dark rider to the ground. Ecel stood but the horse had knocked the wind out of his lungs.
The fallen rider quickly jumped up and ran towards Ecel. “I’m going to rip your guts out while you watch Evanescian.” The riders voice was deep and angry. Ecel staggered but managed to draw his sword. Without breaking stride, the rider drew his sword and brought it down with all his might on Ecel. Ecel blocked the deadly blow as he tried to catch his breath.
“Ecel!” Belal called out. “Help!” The wounded rider was beginning to get the best of Belal. Jazaal heard the cry for help and started towards him.
The dark rider circled Ecel as he taunted him. “You are going to make a nice addition to our meal tonight.”
Ecel started to fall but used his sword and to keep himself from collapsing. The dark rider saw his opportunity and raised his sword high above his head. “Goodbye filthy Evanescian.” He laughed as his sword came down, but Ecel quickly picked up his sword and swung it full circle through the rider. The riders eyes were wide and he dropped his sword and grasped at his belly. He fell to the ground in disbelief.
Ecel and Jazaal close in on the last rider. The wounded one that was fighting with Belal. Ecel swung his sword to cut the rider down, but it was met in mid air by Jazaal’s sword. Ecel staggered back and Belal called out. “What are you doing!”
“You have to learn to fight.” Jazaal yelled at him.
“Jazaal!” Ecel yelled.
Jazaal held up a hand towards him. “Stay out of this Ecel I know what I’m doing.”
The rider ignored the other two and focused on Belal.
“He’s going to kill me.” Belal’s voice trembled.
“He’s wounded Belal. Now focus! Don’t let your fear control you. You know how to fight!”
Ecel stood and watched uneasily. Jazaal noticed his bouncing sword. “Ecel, let me handle this.” He assured him. “Belal focus. He’s wounded on his right side and he’s weak.”
The rider whipped his head from Jazaal to Belal.
“All you have to do is focus.” Jazaal’s voice was eerily calm.
Belal gripped his sword with both hands and brought a swing from over his head. The dark rider blocked his swing, but Belal quickly spun around and brought his blade from his knees and cut the rider down to finish him off.
As Belal stood over the body, Jazaal turned to walk away, but Belal called after him. “What was that!”
“You needed the experience.” Jazaal answered without turning.
Belal went to confront him but Ecel stopped him. “He’s right.” Belal looked at Ecel. “I don’t like it, but he’s right.”
“Ecel, I thought I said no horses?” Jazaal remarked as he continued walking towards where Ecel had started.
“The riders shot a deer back there and they called a boy that was riding with them to take the deer back to camp. I couldn’t move while the boy was there so I fell behind the line. The horse was the only way I could catch up.”
“Did you kill the boy?” Jazaal asked.
“No, he’s just a young boy. He can be rehabilitated.”
Jazaal kept walking. “Where is he?”
“Tied up behind that tree.” Ecel pointed to the large tree he had used for cover.
The three men came around the corner to see the boy tied up and gagged just as Ecel had left him. When he saw the men, his eyes widened and he tried to fight at them.
“You can’t rehabilitate that.” Jazaal said.
“Well, we’re not killing him.” Ecel answered. “We’ll just let him go.
“And let him warn the hive?” Jazaal said. “I don’t think so Ecel.” Jazaal stepped toward the boy while drawing his sword.
Ecel stepped in front of him. “We’re not killing the boy.” The two looked into each others eyes. Ecel had never looked so deep into Jazaal’s eyes. They were deep and dark, almost black. He had never seen eyes so dark before. Jazaal placed a hand on Ecel’s shoulder breaking his concentration. “You’re fight my friend.”
Ecel stepped toward Belal and heard the unmistakable sound of a sword penetrating flesh. He quickly turned to see Jazaal removing his sword. “We didn’t kill him, I did.”
Ecel and Belal watched the life fade from the boys eyes. They looked at each other speechless.
“Let’s clean up this mess before we run out of time.” Jazaal’s voice was calm and matter of fact.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Kairas and Dagan stood on a rocky outcropping overlooking the valley of blood. The insight from the witches was intoxicating to Kairas. As he looked out over the valley, he spoke in a different tone to Dagan than he was used to.
“The darkness is intoxicating to me.” He took a deep breath. Dagan watched his nostrils flare open. “You have done well my faithful servant. Soon you will share in my bounty.”
Dagan chose his words carefully. “What do you think it means my lord?” Kairas turned to face him and he finished his question. “What the witches said?”
Kairas’ eyes widened. “Isn’t it obvious? All of my planning, all of my wisdom will soon be rewarded. I have served King Dakar for millennia without one hint of promotion. Not one piece of ground has he granted me as my own on this miserable planet.” Kairas’ clawed hands closed tight. “I have kept the realm of Glodoria at bay and I have advanced the dark realm of Dakaria...and for what?!” He turned to face Dagan. His eyes were red with anger. “Only to have him keep me in the dark about his plans for this place.” He took a few steps closer to the edge of the outcropping. “I knew that I was on to something with this...Lord Johan. I knew that there was something different about this province.” He moved back toward Dagan and held his right hand up to his face. “And I was this close to exposing King Shinar’s plan for invasion.”
Dagan took a step back as Kairas continued. “King Dakar kept me in the dark on his plan because he knew that if I was the one to thwart King Shinar’s invasion, I would be exalted above him. He knew that the drakan’s would see me as a wiser leader.”
Dagan responded without thinking. “But Dakaria is ruled by fear my lord...not wisdom.” As soon as the words left his mouth, he realized his mistake. He braced for the wrath of Kairas. Kairas stepped towards him and stood face to face. Dagan closed his eyes and waited for the blow. “Wisdom, my cloakan ally, when inspired by fear, can overthrow thrones!” His eyes widened and he grinned. Dagan was relieved at the response. Kairas turned to walk away. “If you ever speak like that again...I will kill you.” Kairas walked back into the eternal caves, leaving Dagan to celebrate his narrow escape.
As Kairas walked through the dark caves toward his main chamber, his head was swimming with power. The thought of absolute rule over Dakaria was intoxicating. As he neared his chamber, a shadow moved across the entrance. He stopped to see if something was coming out. His first thought went to the drakan he had assigned earlier. The spy that King Dakar had so predictably sent into his ranks. He morphed into his drakan form and entered the chamber.
He was stopped in his tracks at the sight of King Dakar sitting on his throne. He swallowed hard, gripped his fists and released them.
“Kairas.” Dakar said as he studied his protruding claws which were covered in black blood. “You’ve been busy.”
Kairas looked at the floor in front of the throne. The small drakan was torn into pieces at his feet, and the three witches were stacked on top of each other. Dakar pointed to the small drakan and spoke calmly. “A bit too obvious don’t you think?”
Kairas answered. “It wasn’t hard to figure out. I would have done the same if I were in your place.”
Dakar leapt from the throne and towered over Kairas. He placed his bony hands on his shoulders and let the tips of his claws begin to prick the skin of Kairas. “You’d like that wouldn’t you Kairas?” He bent over to look into his eyes. “To be in my place?”
Kairas bowed his head and avoided eye contact. He tried to go to his knees, but Dakar held him up. “No need for groveling Kairas.” He released him and walked behind him. “Just tell me why these witches were flying free outside these caves?” He paused for a moment. “I just happened to be coming in as they were flying out.” He kicked one of the bodies. “Only I or one of my trusted generals have the power to grant freedom to these miserable souls and it wasn’t I. So I assume that there is a very good reason why I would find them escaping from your lair?”
Kairas thought quick. “I was merely inquiring of our attack on Braham my King.”
“And this was worthy of unleashing these miserable creatures on the surface?”
“I thought so.” Kairas responded.
Dakar spun and, with the back of his hand, knocked Kairas to the ground.
Kairas wiped a small spot of blood from the corner of his mouth. “I’m sorry my King.”
Dakar bent down and looked into his eyes. “Either you are very stupid.” He stood back up. “Or very crafty.”
Kairas talked quickly. “The news was good my King.”
“For you...or for me?” Dakar responded.
“It is only good for me if it is good for you my King.”
Dakar moved in close again smiling. “You are indeed the crafty one Kairas. I’m not sure resurrecting you from the abyss was such a good idea.”
Kairas bowed. “I am eternally grateful to you my King.”
Dakar studied him for a moment. “What is it you want Kairas? I can smell the deception in your words. What are you hiding from me!”
Kairas knew the next inquiry would be with great pain. “My King I only want revenge on the one who sent me to the abyss.” He pulled the sword from it’s sheath. “The one who wielded this sword.” He looked to the ground. “I know that you have a plan my King and my revenge is of no concern to you. That is what I’ve been hiding. I am carrying out every one of your wishes, but I also have my own wishes that come second only to yours.”
Dakar reached down with his right hand. A claw extended from one of his fingers and he began to scratch the top of Kairas’ head just enough to draw a small amount of blood. “So the scope of your ambition is limited to revenge on this Evanescian?”
Kairas whenced and answered. “Yes my King.”
The claw of Dakar slipped down the side of his face and under his chin. He lifted the face of Kairas so he could again see into his eyes. “Carry out my plans...as I give them...and you will have your reward.” He smiled.
Kairas answered. “Yes my King.”
Dakar released him and sat back on the throne. “The Hives will begin arriving tonight. In two days time they will all be here. Several of the knights from Braham castle have been hunting the hives and they’ve managed to kill many of them, but not enough to thwart my plans. Your Evanescian is among the hunters.”
Kairas smiled. “I’ve already told Dagan what to do my King. Release me so that I may exact my revenge on the Evanescian.”
Dakar interrupted. “First you will lead the Hives back to Braham castle. I now have control over the one they call Johan.”
Kairas’ head tilted slightly. “How my King?”
“That is none of your concern.” He stood and began to walk around the room. “They’re crippled. Without his leadership, my task shall be easy. King Shinar was seeking to reestablish the old ways of the Princes. Johan would have been his first foothold, but I’ve outsmarted him, and Johan is mine.”
Kairas kept the inquiry alive. “How shall we attack my king?”
“Bring the Hives in from the east side of the castle. I will meet you near the Lakes of Lindar and we will lead the Hives together against Braham.”
“Yes my king.” Kairas resonded.
Dakar walked behind him and whispered into his ear. “I know you are cunning Kairas, and I know that you are not being entirely forthcoming with me.” He walked around in front of him. “I know you realize what that Evanescian did to you is nothing compared to what I would do to you if you betrayed me. I’m sure that a few well placed claws on your friend Dagan would unlock a treasure of information.” He waited for a response, but Kairas was silent.
Dakar placed his hand on his shoulder and squeezed until he drew blood. “Remember...your place is under me.” Dakar opened his wings and flew up and out of the throne room. Dagan had been listening from around the corner and he entered the room. “What shall we do my lord?”
With his teeth bared, Kairas answered. “Exactly as he wishes.” He walked to the witches bodies and kicked one of them. “Leave me!”
Dagan backed out slowly. “Yes, my lord.”
Saturday, August 27, 2011
This is the aftermath of a scene in which the Dark Riders came in and raided a small village. If I get enough requests, I'll post the raid. To request to see the first part of this scene, simply ask in the comments box below the post.
Sarah watched from a distance, concealed by a tree, as the dark riders began to assemble their loot. Horses stolen from the town were loaded down with food and supplies taken from the homes. People were segregated randomly. Some of all the town would be taken alive back to the Hive to be used for various reasons. Slave labor was the biggest use, but life as a slave in a Hive was brutal and short lived. Many times the slaves bore the brunt of Hive violence, and they were used as sacrifices in drakan worship.
Many of the women and children were crying. In the distance the sounds of death penetrated the air as dark riders hunted down the men who had retreated. Sarah searched frantically for sign of her family, but could see none. The leader of the raiding party galloped alongside the line of horses and people, surveying his bounty.
“This is a good haul! Tonight the drakan’s are pleased with our efforts.” His right hand dropped to a shofar dangling from his saddle horn. He pulled it to his mouth and blew hard into the ancient horn. Soon the entire raiding party was present and the leader gave the order to head back to the hive.
Sarah watched helplessly as many of her friends were lead off into the dark forest. She could feel the heat of the warm tears running down her face. As the end of the line disappeared into the forest, she ran towards her home to look for any signs of life. When she approached the door to her tiny home, she stopped suddenly. The moon revealed a wet puddle on the steps leading to the door. In the dark, it was impossible to see color, but she knew the color of this shiny puddle would be red.
Slowly she put one foot in front of the other and moved towards the steps. The door was slightly ajar and a small hand lay, palm up, in the opening. She drew closer and realized it was her little brother. She tried to push the door open to reach him, but something was against the door on the inside. She pushed harder and could feel something sliding on the floor inside. She opened it far enough to fall to her knees beside her brother. She grabbed his shoulders and pulled his lifeless body towards her.
She sat on the floor cradling his limp body as she gently rocked back and forth. She thought about all the times she had yelled at him for aggravating her or putting frogs in her bed at night. She ran her fingers through his hair and began to sing his favorite lullaby. With each rock of her body, she could feel the anger growing inside her. She relaxed her arms so that his head fell gently to her lap.
Then she turned to survey the rest of the room. Her mother lay face down in a pool of blood, her right hand clutching a poker from the fire place. She slowly turned her head to see what was against the door. Her father had fallen in the seated position with his back against the door. His shirt was saturated from the blood that had poured from his cut throat. Sarah’s eyes didn’t blink as she looked around the room. Then, as if from the deepest part of her soul, a cry escaped her lungs and broke the silence of the dark night.
She buried her head in her hands. The blood from her brother now mixed with the tears that were flowing from her eyes. She doubled over, grabbing her stomach as she wrenched in deep sorrow. She wanted to leave this horrible sight, but she couldn’t find the will to move her legs. She sat for what seemed like hours on the blood soaked floor. The tears continued to flow, but the cries had stopped. Anger began to fill the deep void in her soul.
She continued to rock, but the motions that once vented her sorrow were now filling her with energy like a rubber band being twisted. She used her left hand to gently lower her brothers head to the floor. Outside, she could hear survivors wandering around looking for loved ones. Some were crying and some were yelling, but they all had a deep desperation in their voice. Sarah walked slowly to the fire place and stared into the flames. Images of the dark riders danced in her imagination. Images of the cold hearted figures going through her home and killing her family.
She could see her mother trying to protect her little brother. She imagined her father fighting furiously until being overpowered by the dark riders. She stared into the eyes of the beast that slit her fathers throat and imagined his delight in the suffering he was causing. Then she imagined her little brother, all alone, shivering in the corner by the door. She thought what it must have been life for him to see his mother and father killed. Then she could hear the heavy footsteps of the beastly dark riders as they walked over to him.
She imagined them towering over him and laughing at his little terror filled frame shaking on the floor. She wondered if they even considered what he was feeling or thinking, but she knew the answer. Just as her mind began to reveal his agonizing death, she grabbed her face with her hands and fell to her knees. Once again, the agony of her soul spilled into the night air. A woman, looking for her family heard the cries and walked into the room from outside.
“Sarah?” The woman asked as she entered. “Oh no!” She exclaimed as she saw the carnage in the room. She saw Sarah by the fire place and immediately went to her. Grabbing her shoulders, she tried to console her. “I’m so sorry Sarah.”
Sarah didn’t answer. She could hardly hear the woman’s voice. Everything sounded muffled and distant. The woman turned her away from the dancing flames and looked in her eyes. Sarah just stared back with no expression.
“Sarah, honey, it’s going to be okay. You can stay with us.” She pulled her into her side under her arm and began to walk towards the door, but Sarah stopped. “What is is Sarah?”
She wouldn’t answer, she just continued to stare straight ahead. She could feel her foot touching her little brothers leg. She looked down at him and then towards the woman who had come in and then back at the door. Beyond the door was black night. In here was light and her family. She pulled away from the woman and walked over to the sink and found a rag. She walked over to where her mother’s body lay bloody and began to wipe up the blood from around her.
The woman watched as Sarah, the once playful and energetic friend of her own two daughters, moved about the room like a doll with no emotion. She moved over to her and tried to stop her. “Sarah, honey don’t do this. We’ll come back later. Right now you need to come with me.” Sarah continued top swirl the rag in the pool of blood. The woman grabbed her wrist firmly and lowered her voice. “Sarah.”
Sarah’s right hand immediately grasped the wrist of the woman and she squeezed with all her might. All of her pent up anger coming through her fingertips. The woman dropped to her knees in pain. “Ow, Sarah, you’re hurting me!”
Sarah looked at the woman but she imagined a dark rider. Her fingers began to sink into the woman’s skin.
“Sarah!” She grabbed Sarah’s hand and tried to pry it off of her wrist. “Sarah!” She knew Sarah was in shock.
Sarah felt her finger tips pierce the woman’s skin. She looked down and saw blood begin to emerge from under her nails. The woman was crying in pain. Sarah released her grip and the woman fell back from her on the floor. Sarah stared at her.
The woman raised her left hand open towards her, “It’s okay Sarah. I’ll come back.” Sarah’s eyes fell to the woman’s bleeding wrist and the woman used her other hand to cover the wound and hide if from her. “It’s okay. I’m okay. I’ll come back.” The woman slowly stood and walked out of the open door.
Sarah stood and looked down at the bloody rag and her mother’s body. She surveyed the room once again and let the images of her family burn into her mind. Then she turned and walked up the stairs that lead to a small loft overlooking the bloody room. This was where she and her brother slept. She gathered a few articles of clothing, stuffed them into a cloth bag and then headed back down the stairs.
She went into another small room on the main floor which was where her parents slept. Underneath their bed was a small chest. Sarah pulled it out and opened it. Inside were her father’s personal things. She pushed aside several items and found what she was looking for in the bottom of the chest. She pulled the two small hand axes out and studied them. Her father was a master at the use of the hand axe. When the townspeople would gather for celebrations, they would always ask him to put on a show. He could split an arrow from thirty yards with the throw of an axe. His hand eye coordination was incredible.
He had taught her the basics of axe throwing, but had not allowed her too much liberty because of her age. She pulled the leather sheath out of the chest and strapped it over her shoulder. Then she placed both axes in their sheath. Turning from the chest on the floor, she saw her father’s bow in the corner of the room. She went to it and picked it up. This, she was more familiar with. Her father had taught her how to hunt and how to stalk prey. She picked up the quiver, full of arrows and threw it over her back.
She stepped back into the bloody room and looked one last time at her families bloody demise. She started out the door, but stopped by her little brother. Something caught her eye and she bent down to see that he was wearing the necklace she had made for him. She grabbed it and gently pulled it over his head. Then she placed it over her head and let if fall to her chest. She could feel the emotions beginning to erupt again, but she fought it. She swallowed her tears and fixed her eyes on the darkness outside the door.
She stood and walked out of the house. The woman who had tried to help her before saw her come out and called to her. “Sarah!” But she didn’t stop walking. “Sarah! Where are you going?” The woman began to walk after her. “Sarah! They’ll kill you. You can’t fight them alone!” The woman began to run after her, but Sarah turned and held her hand up open to her. The blood stained hand was firm and it’s message clear. The woman stopped. She reached her left hand out gently. Sarah looked at her open hand, then at her own blood stained hands. She turned and walked into the darkness.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Solome’ and Rhemos walked along the path that lead to his home. Along the way the conversation continued.
“We’re you surprised by the elder who is trained in the ways of the realms?” Solome’ asked.
“Yes, I had not idea that any Lindarians had ever explored those teachings.”
“200 men is quite a training force. They should be able to prepare the others quickly.” Solome’ smiled.
“Lindarians learn fast. We are hard headed, but we learn fast.”
The two men continued along the path, but Solome’ stopped frequently. There was so much to see. Forests that teemed with odd species of birds and animals. Brilliant flowers that seemed painted on their stems. Streams of clear blue water that seemed almost transparent ran across the path they walked along. Solome’ stuck his hand out and gently stopped Rhemos, then he bent down and looked into the water. He could see Rhemos standing above him.
“The water is so pure. Is it good to drink?” Solome’ asked as he lowered his cupped hand into the running water.
“If you’re a Lindarian.” Rhemos smiled. “You may not find it pleasing to your digestion at first. It is an acquired taste.” He placed his hand on Solome’ shoulder.
Solome’ carefully dumped the water out of his hand. “It’s very tempting.”
Rhemos patted his shoulder. “Come on my friend, we’ll be late for dinner.”
Solome’ stood and wiped his hand on his leg. “You didn’t say anything about dinner.”
“We have to eat.” Rhemos said as he stepped in front to lead the way.
“Will I find the food comforting to my digestion?”
“I’ll go easy on you tonight. We want you to be able to get some sleep.”
The two walked along in silence for a while then Solome’ broke the silence. “What are your thoughts about the Lindarian’s strength?”
“What do you mean?” Rhemos asked.
“How can we best work together? Do you see anything I’m not seeing?” Solome’ glanced at the ground and back at Rhemos.
“I believe the best way to achieve maximum impact against the drakan army is to keep our alliance a secret.” Rhemos looked at him. “Half of our army is bound to the limits of the lakes, and while they cover some distance, they are easily avoided by traveling more inland. If the drakan’s were to learn of our alliance, they would adjust their approach to Braham castle to a more inland route. This would limit our participation to our archers from the ground.”
Solome’ nodded his head as Rhemos spoke. “Quite right.” He walked silently for a moment and placed his hand on the back of his neck. “I do not think that anyone else knows of my visit or my task here, but what you say bears repeating in the presence of the elders.”
Rhemos’ hands moved up and down in rhythm with his words. “If we can be accurate in our timing, we can inflict massive losses on their army if they approach along the lakes, and they have no reason not to. The path along the lakes is the quickest and easiest route, and they’ve had no encounters with Lindarians in the past.”
Solome’ smiled. “You are quite the strategist my friend.”
Rhemos stopped walking and looked into Solome’s eyes. “Have you ever felt like you were born to do a certain thing?”
Solome’ stared back at him. “At times.”
“This is what I feel I was born to do Solome’.” His eyes widened. “I have never felt so alive!” He turned and began to walk again. “At times it is very difficult for me to contain my enthusiasm.” The two continued to walk. They came to a rocky outcropping that overlooked a huge valley. Rhemos walked to the edge and looked over. He motioned to Solome’ to join him. “Look down there. What do you see?”
Solome’ studied the valley. There were Lindarians everywhere, moving about from place to place. It was quite busy. “I see Lindarians busy about their lives.”
“Exactly!” Rhemos placed his hands behind his head and leaned back. “They’re busy!” He turned towards Solome’. “But why are they busy?” Solome’ studied the crowds for a moment and considered Rhemos’ question. After a moment, he shrugged his shoulders. “They are busy because they can’t find what they’re looking for my friend.”
Solome’s eyes squinted and the corners of his mouth turned up slightly. “I’m not sure I understand.”
Rhemos waved his hand across the panorama of Lindarians. “These are fierce warriors who do not know that they are warriors. They each go about their daily routines with incredible energy, but that energy is misplaced.” He stepped closer to Solome’ and placed his hand on his shoulder. “This is the result of generations of Lindarians starved of adventure. They were created to fight, to defend! But our ancestors robbed them of the reason their blood flows so forcefully through their veins. They’ve forgotten Solome’ why they’re here.” Rhemos’ hand dug deep into Solome’s shoulder. Solome’ whinced and dipped his shoulder down to relieve the pain. “Sorry my friend.” Rhemos released his grip.
“You are very passionate about your theory.” Solome’ patted his shoulder.
“I’ve had dreams Solome’. Vivid dreams of what our kind was like.” Rhemos looked deep into his eyes.
Solome’ turned to continue walking along the path. “I would like to hear about your dreams.” Solome’ interlaced the fingers of his hands and let them hand in front of him. “Tell me about them.”
Rhemos walked briskly to catch up with Solome’. “They are coming more often now.” The two exchanged glances. “They began when I was awakened, and at first I thought it was only because I had been awakened.”
Solome’ turned his head towards him as they walked. “But now you think differently?”
“Yes. I believe my dreams are about my people, not just me. In them I can see our ancestors fighting great battles on the land and in the water. There are chariots, horsemen, and archers in a vast army. The battles are fierce, and I find myself walking through the battles looking into the eyes of the Lindarian warriors.” He paused for a moment. “Only, they’re not Lindarian. We did not become Lindarian until we retreated to these lakes for protection.”
“What were you?” Solome’ asked.
“We were a great Shinarian Province at one time. We were the guardians of the place you call Braham province and the surrounding four provinces as well. But we were united as one.”
Solome’ turned towards him again. “In your dream of course.”
“It’s more than a dream.” Rhemos broke off a branch from a small tree and swatted at the grass as they walked along. “I haven’t found the proof yet, but I know that these dreams are coming to me from shinlings. They are not natural dreams.”
The two walked along quietly for a moment. Then Solome’ broke the silence. “Tell me more about what you think happened.”
“Every dream ends the same. I walk through the fighting hordes and make my way to the leader. In the middle of the battle he stops and looks at me.” Rhemos’ walk slowed and he stared at the ground unblinking. “He really sees me Solome’.” Rhemos looked at him with trepidation in his eyes.
“What happens next?” Solome’ asked.
“He speaks to me.” Rhemos just stared for a moment. “He says the same thing every time. He says; Remember who you are.” He reached up with his right arm and rubbed his left arm briskly.
“What do you think it means?” Solome’ asked quietly.
Rhemos reached out and touched him. “He doesn’t just say it. He pleads with me. Their are tears in his eyes.” He lowered his hand and continued walking. “It’s as if he were pleading for the lives of thousands. I can feel the weight of his words.” He took a few steps and turned. “Even now.” His head dropped.
Solome’ stood beside him for a moment. He placed his hand on his shoulder and squeezed. “Perhaps we should discuss this some more over that wonderful meal you are going to prepare for me.”
Rhemos looked up at him and smiled. “Oh, I am not preparing it for you.” He began to walk more briskly down the path.
Solome’ called after him as he jogged to catch up. “You’re not?”
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Rhemos helped Solome’ gather what he would need for the trip into Lindar. They grabbed the saddlebags from his horse and Rhemos loaded them onto the langran.
“What about my horse?” Solome’ was very fond of his loyal companion.
“I’ll have one of my men take care of him. We have a friend not far from here that watches over a small herd of horses for us. He will take good care of yours until it’s time for you to leave.”
“I didn’t think Lindarian’s used horses?” Solome’ said as he studied the large langran.
“We believe in being prepared.” Rhemos patted the large langran’s neck. “These magnificent creatures are unmatched in the water. Their speed and agility is amazing. But out of the water they are cumbersome, and the time that they can spend out of the water is very limited.”
“Are there wild langrans? Ones that are not in service to your people?”
“No. The langran’s were actually on the verge of dying out when our people discovered them. Through careful breeding we returned them to a thriving species, but they are all tame.”
Solome’ walked alongside the langran. His hand slid along the smooth skin as he walked. He closed his eyes and tried to imagine what the skin felt like, but it was very unique. As his hand slid down the side of the great beast, the langran’s head lowered and the lids of his eyes fell halfway.
“It seems you’ve made a new friend.” Rhemos said with a smile.
“Well I have a feeling I’m about to put my life in his hands.”
“That you are my friend.” Rhemos mounted the langran as Solome’ watched. It looked easy enough. Rhemos simply put his left hand on the back of the langran’s neck as he stepped onto the knee of the langran with his right foot. Then he steadied himself as he walked along the upper thigh of the langran and then mounted himself behind the langran’s neck, much like a horse. “Your turn.” Rhemos said as he motioned to Solome’.
Solome’ placed his left hand on the back of the langran’s neck. It felt wet, but it wasn’t. As he raised his right leg to step up, he lost his grip and fell to the ground. The corners of Rhemos’ mouth widened, but he fought laughing for Solome’s sake. Solom’e was on his back and had propped himself up on his elbows. “Well, that didn’t work out so good.”
“Don’t be afraid to grip the neck tight. You cannot hurt the langran, he is too strong and his skin is thick.” Rhemos motioned with his hand to the neck of the langran. Solome’ stood and tried again. This time he gripped the neck firmly, stepped quickly and was behind Rhemos in a moment. “Very good.” Rhemos smiled. Then he grabbed the reigns and gently tugged, and the langran stood to it’s feet.
Solome’s hands quickly grabbed onto the small saddle that Rhemos was sitting in. “They don’t look this high from the ground.” Solome’ could feel his stomach turning.
“Don’t worry my friend, you are quite safe. Release the saddle.” Rhemos said encouragingly.
“If it’s all the same, I think I’ll hold on for now.” Solome’ was trying to get used to the sensation of riding so high off the ground.
“Trust me...release the saddle.”
There was a bit of inquisitiveness in Rhemos’ voice. Perhaps this would open another Lindarian secret. Solome’ released his grip and brought his hands to his side.
“See, it’s not that bad.”
Solome’ grinned, “No, it isn’t.”
Suddenly, Rhemos reached around and pushed Solome’ off the langran’s back. Solome’ tried to react, but he was too far off and couldn’t grip the saddle. He was falling off backwards which allowed him to see Rhemos. Solome’s heart was pounding. He wondered why Rhemos had pushed him off. Rhemos just smiled at him as he fell. He seemed to fall forever. His eyes closed tight as he braced himself for the impact. Then he felt something under him. Like a giant hand was stopping his fall. Then he was traveling back up towards Rhemos. The langran had caught him with his head and was lifting him back to the saddle.
Now Rhemos was laughing. Solome’, safely back on the langran, was breathing deeply to catch his breath. Unable to form a whole sentence, he managed an abbreviated one. “Why?”
“Well you wouldn’t have voluntarily fallen, and I wanted you to see how the langran would react.”
“Next time.” That was all Solome’ could manage before taking another deep breath.
“No worries my friend, that lesson is over.” Rhemos smiled.
Solome’ was glad for the statement but found Rhemos’ emphasis on the word ‘that’ to be a bit unsettling. Rhemos pulled back on the reigns and the langran eased into the water. Now they were riding about ten feet above the water line, a distance that gave Solome’ much comfort. He could feel the powerful muscles of the langran contracting under him as the beast used it’s massive legs to propel them through the water. His breathing was returning to normal and he was enjoying the ride. Unlike a horse galloping, there was hardly a sound to their motion through the water.
“Amazing.” Solome’s eyes were wide and his mouth hung open.
Rhemos turned slightly to see his friends expression. “Yes, it is.” Rhemos answered simply. “Apparently your friends are still traveling with you.” Rhemos noticed the way the langran was looking towards the sky as if watching something, but it remained calm. “They are able to see or sense the presence of supernatural beings. If you remember, it was the langran that alerted us to the presence of the drakan’s the last time you were here.”
“Yes, I remember.”
As the two men talked, the shinling’s that were following Solome’ flew around the head of the langran playfully.
“So what happens when we go under the water?” Solome’ asked. “We are going under?”
Rhemos’ nodded. “The langran is a very unique creature.” Rhemos said as he tenderly caressed the back of the langran’s neck. “You see this?” He stopped his hand just under what appeared to be a fold of skin on the back of it’s neck.
Solome’ leaned forward and touched the odd area. Rhemos continued. “That is a membrane flap. When the langran submerges, it will open this flap and extend a membrane over us.”
“How odd.” Solome’ replied. “What is the purpose of this membrane?” Rhemos looked at Solome’ inquistively and his eyes squinted. “I mean when there aren’t riders on their backs. What purpose does the membrane serve the langran?”
Rhemos’ head lifted and he nodded. “They use it for their young. Baby langran’s ride on the backs of their parents. Until the young learn how to hold their breath for long periods of time, the parents use the membrane to be able to stay submerged.” Solome’ simply nodded. Then Rhemos slapped the side of the langran’s neck. The large flap opened and a huge translucent membrane shot out and over the two men. It was elongated from side to side and appeared to have some type of cartilege structure that acted as support arches over the men’s heads. The sides of the membrane fell and adhered to the body of the langran. “Hold on!” Rhemos called out.
Solome’ gripped the back of the saddle as he felt the massive muscles heave under him. The langran’s long neck shot down into the water and it’s body followed. Solome’s eyes grew wide as the langran submerged. As soon as they were underwater, he could feel the langran relax under him. The massive paddle-like feet made smooth easy strokes from front to back. It was obvious to Solome’ that the langran was in it’s element under the water. There was no sense of clumsiness or awkwardness. The massive beast glided through the water as if dancing with a lover.
The deep blue water was clear and the lake was teaming with all kinds of different aquatic life. Some of the underwater creatures looked harmless, while others looked at him as if he would make a tasty meal. But in these waters, the langran was king. Even the nastiest looking creatures gave a clear path for the langran as it swam. They continued to descend deeper into the lake. Solome’ looked up and noticed that the surface was becoming less distinguishable.
They continued to dive deeper into the cool blue water. He looked below and noticed a slight glow that seemed to be emitting from the bottom of the lake. “What is that?” he asked Rhemos.
“That is home.” Rhemos smiled. “That is Lindar.”
The deeper they dove, the bigger the glow became. Soon it stretched as far as he could see. But it wasn’t the bottom of the lake that was glowing, rather there were shafts of the greenish blue light escaping from rocky outcroppings and lighting the water. As they got closer, he could see that the bottom of the lake resembled an underwater chain of mountains. There were many openings in the rocks that appeared to be portals of some sort. He pointed towards one nearby. “What is that?”
“A window.” Rhemos turned over his right left shoulder as he answered. Then he pointed to a larger opening further down in the rocks. “That is an entrance, but it’s not the one we will be going in.” As the langran glided by the large opening, Solome’ could see people walking around inside. A few of them stopped and took notice of the langran and its cargo.
“What keeps the water out?” Solome’ asked with his brow furrowed.
Rhemos smiled. “You’ll see.” Then he pointed to another big opening not too far away. “That is where we’re headed.”
Solome’ stretched his neck out to see where he was pointing. As he looked a langran with a rider shot out of the large opening and headed towards the surface.
“A lookout.” Rhemos said, anticipating the question. Solome’ nodded. The opening looked like a large cave. It was plenty big enough for the langran to enter. It was recessed into the side of the huge underwater mountain. A large landing area of smooth stone preceded the entrance to the cave. The langran slowed its approach and came to rest on the smooth stone landing. Then it walked through the entrance.
As they entered the cave, Solome’ could see a thin membrane between the water and the people inside. The light was very strong now and seemed to be coming from above the inside of the cave. Several Lindarians were gathered to welcome them. As they entered the cave, the langran stetched it’s head out and penetrated the membrane which seemed to form a seal on its body much the same as the membrane that protected them on their ride down. As they walked through, the membrane slid along the body of the langran, maintaining a water tight seal all the way.
When they were safely through the cave membrane, the langran retracted the protective membrane into the neck flap. Solome’ was immediately struck by the freshness of the air. He had expected dank and musty but was pleasantly surprised by the refreshing air. The langran squatted and Rhemos walked down the leg and onto the cave floor. Solome’ followed closely behind. Rhemos greeted several of the men and then introduced Solome’. They welcomed him, but their bodies were stiff as they shook his hand. The spirited welcome that Rhemos received seemed to ebb as they welcomed Solome’.
Solome’ realized that he was seeing something that no outsider had ever seen, Lindar. His head bowed slightly as he greeted each man. This was a historic moment and Solome’ was overwhelmed with the honor of the moment. Rhemos placed his hand on Solome’s shoulder, “Welcome to Lindar.” His greeting was followed by that of his fellow Lindarians. “Welcome to Lindar.” Now they bowed towards Solome’. He looked at Rhemos who motioned with his left hand. The two began to walk deeper into the cavern. Solome’ could now see the source of the light. The top of the cavern was glowing brilliantly with a blueish green light.
As he looked closer, he noticed that the source of the light seemed to be moving. His right hand came up and pointed towards the movement.
“We call it Ashai.” Rhemos said as he looked up at the glowing top of the cavern.
“What is it?” Solome’ asked.
“It is a plant that grows in the rock. It is the source of our light, it is a food source for the langran’s, and it produces the air you are breathing.” Rhemos spoke with honor.
“How does it grow? How does it survive down here?”
“Down here is the only place you will find it. It’s roots grow deep into the rock. Running through the rock of these caverns are veins of molten rock.”
“Lava?” Solome’ asked.
“Yes.” Rhemos answered and continued. “The lava comes up from the depths of Evanescia and courses through these underwater caverns. The Ashai grows in abundance here because the lava is rich in nutrients and it warms the rock to a perfect temperature for the Ahai to grow.”
Solome’ managed to take a few more steps, but he continued to look up in amazement. He stumbled and Rhemos caught his arm. “Your neck will be quite sore in the morning if you don’t stop careening it like a langran.”
Solome’ laughed. His right hand gripped the back of his neck and gently massaged the stiff muscle. “You’re right.” Then he lifted his head once again. “It’s just so beautiful.”
Rhemos smiled and placed his hand on his shoulder. “This is nothing.” He motioned with his right hand for Solome’ to walk ahead and Solome’ could see an immense glow just around the corner.