Here is an official preview of my new release novel brought to you by my publishing startup “Author Bomb Books”. This Science Fiction/Fantasy book will be available in paperback or ebook everywhere that Ingram books are distributed (including Amazon and the Apple Ibook store) in the spring of 2013!
In this exciting chapter, Athellos Songsteel the traveling minstrel/sword for hire and Eva Becksby, an apprentice sorceress, are on the run from a corrupted guard captain after being wrongly accused of a treasonous act that is punishable by death. Wounded in the arrest attempt, Eva is forced to flee with her rescuer and leave her beloved mentor Nephitus behind. The two outlaws are on a hasted pace to reach the secret elven hideaway before the treacherous dusk can claim them, while Anvol Krynn, the barbarian warrior prince, is enlightened to the origin of this magical new age and learns from Rivan, the elven hunter, the most ancient of dark earth lore.
CHAPTER 8: Age Old Enemies, New Age Outlaws
On the run to the elven city in Ironoak forest, Rivan explains the enlightening truth of existence to Anvol Krynn, the chosen champion of earth. It is an accurate truth because Rivan monitored the worlds evolution closely after his DNA was captured, feeling responsible for the events that unfolded. Rivan secretly vowed that he would avenge this sin upon creation, as he reveals all but his own role in it to the barbarian.
The elves are a magical, graceful, and beautiful race of creatures. They are as old as the Earth and the Creator of all life graced the planet on its birth by placing them upon it. For millions of years, the elves have watched as the keepers of earth, using their magical talents and their wisdom of ages to preserve life and study the progress of it. This was the creator’s greatest gift to the elves whom he loved so much, the humans. The elves had studied single cell organisms, and the dinosaurs, but no creature showed as much promise as the primates when they evolved. At first the primates invented for survival, and the elves watched in silence as ape evolved to man. No other race had created as the humans did and they quickly dominated the earth thereafter. As they created and prospered, the Demons saw their moment to claim the earth.
You see, the natural order of The Creator’s creation is balanced, so the demons may claim the earth if no life exists on it. The demons prayed on the weak willed and the greedy, corrupting them with illusions of grandeur and promises of power overwhelming. The Demons shared a portion of their power with the mortals, and gave new purpose, but also drove them mad with evil conquests and divided the humans at every opportunity. The race of humans in the early 21st century had established city states, provinces, and borders to keep themselves apart and the dark lords pitted them against each other in a twisted plot. The planet was a coliseum and mankind unknowingly participated in a sadistic game of sin and elimination while Devils howled with delight. A sad occurrence, for all the progress made and the infinite potential, it was all crumbled by those who allowed ultimate evil into their souls.
From there, the underworld had a network of corrupted people. Politics and military were infiltrated in an attempt to throw the world into chaos. Instead of creating to survive and prosper as they once did with their fellow man, inventions were used to extinguish life, and accrue wealth, but still, the creator’s faith in human spirit remained strong. Explosives of immense proportions were used to destroy whole cities, and entire wars with thousands murdered were started over crude oil and new technology until one day, a very corrupted, greedy human found a new wicked conquest. He captured an elf. And through the years, it had been the first time an elf had made any direct contact with the humans.
This wicked man, Dr. Frank N. Stein, used the elf DNA, and spliced it with human genetics. The new humanoids were amazing. Faster, smarter, and a few exceptional specimen’s actually could conjure from thin air or move objects with a single thought. These metasapians were named and were to be the new future. They were strong and magical but because of their human half, were susceptible to demon corruption just like their pure blood human counterparts. They had not inherited the elves immunity to the demons whisper and our government was soon outmatched by the superior metasapians that they created.
The humans feared the new race’s power so they didn’t take long to employ a military strategy. A world war broke out over the technology to replicate or destroy the new threat, as humans argued over the politics of the new beings and many nations participated for their own reasons. Just who was on what side, nobody can say now with records long buried and abyssal influence involved. Many new experiments had begun. The original metasapians were hunted and thought to have been destroyed. But they survived, living on in secret among us while their gift of magic was passed down at birth to their children. Through the generations its strength remained strong within the DNA dispite genetic cross breeding between homosapian and metasapian. Other experiments with the elf DNA didn’t go as planned and others were created to be monsters, biological engineering that nature could not claim, soulless and rampant.
The humans had all but extinct themselves. The demons were preparing to inhabit the earth. Then the Creator shared himself, dividing himself among the Guardianship and whatever power was leftover of this being, out of shame and guilt for his misplaced faith in humanity, shot out into the outer reach of the universe. The earth was now in the hands of the guardian council, who until now had only been quiet caretakers of creation. With the creator’s power, the guardian angels could now share their power as the creator and the demons did, and they took a more direct approach to ensure that creation continues. They worked together with the elves to thwart the demons claim on earth.
The new world has changed. From the ashes of the war, new people emerged, and new horrors. The tampering with human, and creature DNA mixed with the magical blood of that one elf, had manifested in the blood of new generations. Some with abilities, others branched off from other species, like the Howlers. Originally wolves bred for law enforcement, they were spliced with the DNA technology developed from the elf Rivan as a military application and hyper evolved. Eventually they would walk upright and developed intelligence. Now they rival the other races claiming to be the ‘Alpha’ species. More and more emerged with every generation, until humanoids lived scattered hiding in underground colonies, scavenging for a living. The surface was torn apart by the final stand that pulverized the surface of the planet with explosive weaponry and gave the elves and humans a last chance.
It was decided that science and technology eventually create a vicious cycle where it causes and cancels its own problems. The technology and science of the world was buried and a pact was created between the guardians, and the humans and elves that crawled from the rubble of the planets rebirth. They vowed to never pass the knowledge of this dark past to their offspring, and to live peaceful productive lives without the destructive powers of science. Instead of silent partners with mankind, the guardians promised in return to guide the new world so that all life could flourish.
It would seem that a partnership of angels, elves, and man would reign supreme but the balance of life is delicate and the demons as vile as they are, are a part of creation. They grew from the discarded dark magic leftover from the creation of the guardian angels and are everything that the angels are not. The Creator must care for the demons as well, for whenever a guardian chooses a champion that embodies their true self, a demon is able to do the same, creating an eternal conundrum of self balancing conflict. It is a difficult task to guide mankind because for every great being, it seems, there is a wicked counterpart, skulking in the shadows looking to turn the world onto itself, and unleash hell on earth.
Terrible evils lay buried just under the surface, long lost technologies and monstrous unthinkable creatures manufactured from greed and sin lay undiscovered. They are hidden proof of a dark rebirth of this wondrous new world and at the same time, threaten to destroy it. This long lost secret is a shameful testament to the evil that the humans are capable of. Will the new world survive? Or is it destined to repeat itself, imploding, cracking under the petty temptation of some want or need that seems unattainable? It would seem that we are our own worst enemy, but in truth, we may have created worse in a laboratory. And the demons are constantly trying to reintroduce the buried sciences and tech, knowing that it gives mankind the tools to reach our own end.
Athellos gallops down the cobble path, leading Eva’s steed, reins thrashing to keep the pace. Eva’s wound leaves her battling for consciousness, and often losing. Athellos stopped a few miles back to lash her hand to the saddle for safety, using a sash that was hand woven with deep red silk and golden stitching.
Athellos scans the tree line cautiously between his constant whipping of the reins, dreading an encounter with bandits, who would no doubt ambush and seek to take the female for themselves.
“Savages…” Athellos whispers through clenched teeth, unveiling his contempt for scavengers. He would gladly bang steel with any of the common rabble, happy to rid the world of one more scum bag, but he would not risk the woman. Athellos was instructed by the guardian to get her to Ironoak. “Theres no fame in failure” is one of Athellos quotes, so on that note so to speak, they ride to the elven village on a grueling pace.
“Heyahh!” Athellos cracks the horse again, racing the setting sun to the horizon.
Athellos day dreams of the many decorated halls he has visited and dined in. The elaborate spreads that have been prepared in his honor would rival some lesser king’s layouts. He smiled as he thought of the many performances where he would sing and recite story after story, crowds eating from his hand, like the one about the time he had convinced a swamp troll that the beasts nose was missing, an then traded the king’s kidnapped daughter’s freedom for a pocket travel mirror to witness the obvious lie for himself. The troll’s name was Hubnog, and had the numbskull realized that swamp trolls don’t have noses, he wouldn’t have howled in despair when he saw the two nostril holes flat between his eyes. He instead, might have promptly eaten Athellos and the princess both! He cried for two days the poor hideous thing, mirror clenched in his warty clawed fist, blubbering tears over his wrinkled twisted features, the hunters reported. They spied his brawn green shoulders slouched over himself pitifully in his riverside cave and to their surprise, he didn’t even muster the strength to chase them away.
Athellos recalled his battle with Ironeye MacEntyre and his gang of cutthroats, where he single handedly defeated three men and downed Ironeye with a vicious blade dance that is talked about in taverns from coast to coast. It’s said no sword hand is faster, for Ol’ Ironeye was disarmed and his beard shortened with a sabre in humiliating fashion, clearly outmatched.
Athellos Songsteel is legendary in the new world. He longs for adventure, and he misses his days under contract with King Titaris, a ruler in the lowland townships. There was always a quest, always a lovely, over-gracious damsel to rescue, and always a full pocket and mug.
Athellos pulls his wide brimmed hat down, as he once did to greet his following admirers, letting his imagination get carried away in acting the part while he relived the scene. The minstrel continues his urgent gallop on the wagon trail leading to Ironoak forest.
Eva pokes her head up over her own shoulder, wobbling and groggy, as she rises from her slouched position on her saddle. The rest helped her condition a bit, but her field dressed wounds throb something fierce. Eva winces as she tests her damaged forearm with a feeble curling of her wrist and failed clench of her fist, and then she sees Athellos.
Athellos didn’t notice that she came to, and was mimicking mannerisms and chuckling to himself looking like a lunatic. His chest was puffed out with pride, and to her, it was obvious that he was not only unaware that Eva was awake but he was also completely full of himself.
“Ahem!” Eva interrupts, blatantly loud.
“Oh! Your awake now!” Athellos shouts, nearly dropping both sets of reins that he now awkwardly juggles.
The humbling experience might of been worse for Athellos had she not stopped him then, for he just then remembered his puppet performance for the queen’s niece and was preparing to act out the climax of ‘Act 3 ‘ with his bare hands. It is rather funny how such an action with absence of puppets can have a dramatically different effect than originally intended the minstrel thought to himself with a grin.
“Just in time!” Athellos shouts, chuckling to himself in embarrassment.
“We are almost to our destination.” he adds reassuringly.
“Ermhmm.” Eva says, slyly, knowing full well that he was dodging the explanation of his awkward moment.
Eva decides to let it slide, given his good looks and the fact that her head was pounding, like two sets of galloping horse hoofs. Eva was not too hurt to notice the rider’s broad shoulders and handsome boyish features. While he fiddled with the leather reins that he fumbled into a knot, she snickered a bit, admitting to herself finally that his adventuring hat suited him nicely.
Matted brown hair lays across Eva’s face and whips in the wind. The apprentice’s robes are dirty and flapping as the horses run around curves and the rhythmic crack of Athellos reins seemed to make a steady ‘pitter pat’ beat with the horses galloping ‘clippity-clop’. Athellos recited “Day of Demons” for the first time in front of anyone since he had written it. He recited while keeping pace with his reins as rhythm. The horse neighed low and rocked it head at the gentle soothing pat of the straps.
Day of Demons by, Athellos Songsteel
Tis day of demons earth will kneel,
Evils flame forges angry steel,
Clashed, teeth gnashed, and wicked hearts
Agreed his needs, dark pact the means
fulfill ambitious deals
Prey upon the saddened weak, bloody path is shown,
Demon speak a soul to seek, reaping what is sewn,
Scrape remains with spirit chains,
what lies amidst the ashy stones?
The moans of those whose bones alone
were spared to build his throne.
513 AOA (Age of Armageddon)
aprox. 2525 AD
“Such an eerie verse. I rather enjoyed it, rhymer.” Eva says quietly to Athellos, as she contemplates its meaning more and nods agreeably at its reference to deal-makers receiving ironic ends at the hands of the devils.
“Indeed.” she adds.
“That rhyme frightens me.” Athellos confesses, a look of seriousness sliding across his face. The adventurer notices that he favors the color and length of her dark hair and decides to tease her.
“Oh it does?” Eva taunts, then winces as her ribs bounce on the saddle in a sharp uncomfortable way.
“Yes! Of course!” Athellos says in a mockingly stern voice, a playful deliberate failure to look serious.
“Demons play for keeps, or so I was told by the Keeper of the Dead……” Athellos says trailing his voice calmly to a low tone, being nonchalant as possible and peeking over his shoulder to see if she took an interest.
“You? Met the Keeper of the Dead and lived to tell tale of it?” Eva asks in disbelief, but her eyes were bright and fetching, begging for more of the story.
Athellos, the showman, weaves his sparkling tale of magic and crypticism. Skulls and might, a full moon night, and life and limb to lose. His bravery, a beacon of truth in a lie filled twisted decent into the abyss and beyond, through fire, and through nothingness until…
“What did you do?” Eva asked bewildered and engrossed in the thickening yarn.
“I looked Death himself in his dark sockets, where my own demise reflected back so clearly that I could feel my end happening before my eyes. I faced my end and I told Death himself the story of how I had come to stand before him.” Athellos says his eyes bursting with excitement.
“What did he do then?” Eva asks quickly, hanging on the master storyteller’s every word.
“He forgot all about how bad his forearm hurt!” Athellos shouts as he laughs deep and hard.
“Not funny! Oww!” Eva screamed as she pointed in anger at first, then retracted and cradled her sore arm.
Athellos only laughed harder.
Eva was another victim of Athellos charm and guile. The sorceress still thought it was sweet how he recited macabre poetry and horror stories to take her mind off the injury. As she rubbed the bandaging she thought of Nephitus and how he had been under her care only hours before. Who was cheering him up? Probably nobody. Hopefully, he would be regarded as a victim of some awful magical assault, which he is, and sent for medical evaluation and care. Eva shuddered, for in this new age, the medicine for mental disorders involves ice baths and crude electro shock therapy.
“Nephitus, the man I was with, he is my teacher… I” Eva starts with concern, but is interrupted by Athellos.
“Hey, I was told he’d be alright. The angelic being you met in the building with the wings, she approached me first.”
“Is this another tall tale?” Eva quickly asks her suspicion aroused by the Minstrels previous teasing trick. Although it is unlikely that he actually did meet the keeper of the dead, he sold it well enough. Fantasy is a little more believable when you can throw 50,000 volt lightning from your fingertips.
“No of course not, he’ll be fine. Alumina Solumn is the Guardian’s name, she gave her word.” Athellos replies with convincing confidence, but inside he knew it was a lie. He was told to grab Eva only and he couldn’t risk failure with all mankind depending on it. There was no going back, with the military surely hunting them. He didn’t know about the condition of Nephitus because Alumina Solumn, the guardian of inspiration, never mentioned it. Athellos assumes all is well and hopes honestly that his words become reality.
He then thinks of Alumina Solumn’s angelic form in full shining steel plate armor, forged by the gods, glistening in the sun while she strummed her harp with a glimmering sword. She played with such remarkable skill, raking with one hand and thrumming with her glinting blade against the full sized harp that she played standing up. Never had Athellos been so enchanted, as he had been at that moment when Alumina shared herself with him. Athellos beamed, with his hands faster and more nimble than ever, his mind sharp and clear, he felt like more than a man. He then contemplates what a new age man is.
The Minstrel proceeded to recall the guardian telling him a tale about the rebirth of the world and a death of a technological age, and the perversion of DNA and life itself. Hearing the story from lady Alumina Solumn was enlightening, and sparked a sense of gallantry from within Athellos. Alumina ensures the attendants of the meeting are well informed so the chilling history is very much the same story that she had instructed Rivan to tell Anvol Krynn. Athellos was given a promise of a battle, its outcome leaving the name ‘Athellos Songsteel’ etched on the cornerstones of the heavens themselves and echoing through the universe for the rest of time. With such legendary status would he be regarded, that he could never go unrecognized. Athellos Songsteel’s reputation had reached heaven itself.
Athellos whips his hand across the edge of his black wide-brimmed hat, making the long raven feather stuck in it bounce.
“Heyahh!” Athellos yells as he cracks the reins again.
Eva had an eventful twenty-four hours, and she desperately needs proper medicine with a drawn bath and bed rest a close second and third. The bouncy riding half asleep shuteye is more exhausting then it is relaxing, as Eva constantly strains to avoid the painful jerking motion when the horse takes a sharp turn or a big leap over road obstacles. She would double over in pain every time she rested too sound because she’d miss bracing for a turn or jump, banging her achy ribs in too hard.
The countryside is blanketed with large deciduous trees like elm, birch, and hemlocks that are mixed throughout, but the forest is known for the Ironoak trees that are used to make the strongest bows and furniture. Eva loves the vibrant green of the tree line stretching yonder from the cobble path and its contrast against the oranges and reds of the fleeting rays of the sunset. She realizes that she might have actually enjoyed it had she not been injured so. In fact, Athellos is a famous and rather dashing young man but even he couldn’t keep her undivided attention. Eva laughs to herself quietly as she fantasizes about him playing a song written about how wonderful she is and then her blushing face felt hot under her swaying blanket of brown hair.
Eva’s thoughts quickly turn to shame when she remembers Nephitus predicament. Was he going to be ok? Safe? Did the guardian, whatever that is, mean Nephitus would be cured of his mental affliction? Eva assumes that it was his safety that was assured, and vows that she wouldn’t selfishly allow stray thoughts to cloud her focus. The young woman only blushes harder when she sees Athellos’s wide smile, not only crushing but aggravated at her lack of control over herself.
Eva Becksby is eager to get some answers from the elves of IronOak and she intends to get them prompt. Why have these elves summoned Athellos and why did these so called ‘heavenly beings’ spare her when she was doomed to destruction? If they had future sight and the powers to prevent such disasters, why didn’t they help Nephitus and spare his mind. His conjuring prowess, if unleashed upon the worldly threat, could be our saving grace. Eva smiled, thinking ‘I guess you don’t have to have common sense to have a sixth sense’. Her heart was warmed because her insight reminded her of Nephitus, the talented spellweaver and not the fumbling oaf his condition reduced him to. His kind, sparkling eyes would convert to burning cylinders and with his turned under mouth, his face was the epitome of will power. Then he released the energy and it was a force that could be felt, its magnitude and intensity were unmatched and overwhelming to witness. His robe would flutter and his beard would sway while his body contorted, his intense stare frozen in a grim concentration. The sight always excited and intrigued the apprentice from the moment she first was exposed to it. Nephitus’ wispy frail form was able to unleash such intimidating energy. Eva idolized not only the man and his magic, but his creative conjuring as well.
The aspiring sorceress recalled the time her teacher prevented the Twin cities from burning to the ground by creating a flying water breathing sky serpent with flowing wings, shimmering as it swooped with a hiss and a splash. The water breathing was so spectacular, as the serpent spewed a geyser into the roaring fire and put it out. It was a candle that tipped in the royal stable with the hungry flames threatening to cross the bridge and continue to the observatorium in the educational district. Eva looked herself down, comparing her tattered dark robes to Nephitus the magnificent and his celestial garments and although Eva’s young curves remain appealing and undamaged, she definitely is in need of a primping and a seamstress she thought. She adjusted her bust in her black short-sleeve blouse while peeking at Athellos hoping that he hadn’t noticed how dingy her clothes looked or how red her cheeks are now.
Athellos, was just arriving to the city from the south before the timely rescue of the young lady, and he looked trail worn and wary after their current afternoon race to IronOak wood hills. Athellos alertly stretches neck to see the trail ahead. He knows the meeting spot is near and the grace of daylight is waning steadily.
The elves noticed them coming from miles away. Even before the two outlawed riders could be seen or heard, an elven elder had asked a particularly gnarled elm tree if the minstrel was close. The elves can communicate with the trees through a built in empathy bestowed by the creator as a necessary means to monitor the earth, so of course the tree not only replied that they were in fact coming but threw in that the horses they are riding are exhausted as well.
The escort party of elves step out of the dense chokecherry bushes cautiously and six strong. One elder, two plate wearing defenders in front with three snipers, knocked and drawn gripping Ironoak wood bows.
Eva, pale and wounded, only groans with a relieved defiant grin, too exhausted to respond but too prideful to show it while Athellos trots in front with his palms out in universal surrender.
The elves are respecting the guardian’s pact and agree wholeheartedly with the alliance of heaven, elves, and humans. It’s difficult for them, however, to forget how dangerous human beings have been, so the elven unit approaches with care. Elven lore always explained human’s destructive nature as a consequence of simple self afflicted desperation. Their short lifespans would wrongly warrant dark ambitions, or they would risk becoming too frail to rely on themselves to succeed. The result was a dangerous human, frightened of failure and determined to prevail with its self-righteous, sinful solution for its own selfish salvation.
Elves on the other hand live hundreds of years and their minds, unlike human’s, gets stronger until they pass. Their magic grows and is only equaled by their wisdom late in life. Being capable for so long by comparison allows the elves to usually accomplish much and therefore they rarely lead unfulfilled lives.
The elven military unit members are deadly and skilled, the foremost being the elder and his magic, who’s casting could easily crush the human travelers in a flick of a wrist. Elders are not often asked to shed blood. The hierarchy spares them from getting soiled hands, although they are learned in such techniques should the need arise with each possessing unique abilities to do so.
“We come in peace…” Athellos starts with confidence but is abruptly cut off.
“You come in conflict, human.” the elven elder shouts, an outstretched finger vindicating, while standing majestic in a silver robe.
The elven warrior unit moves in calmly and precisely, not a sound made in the thick underbrush while wearing heavy metal armor plates. They coordinate the tactical movements with subtle nods and hand signals. It was disturbing seeing it for the first time, as if ghosts were closing in around a newly claimed soul, unheard and unhindered by physical obstacles just as the haunting spirits did in local campfire stories.
“He meant, we mean no harm…” Eva corrects, not taking kindly to the condescending tone of the brash elder.
“I’m sure you don’t mean any harm, not that you could cause any if you did mean to. It does not mean that no harm is coming.” the elder says smugly, locking eyes with the young sorceress, and raising one brow in shock at how human youth regarded their elders.
A couple warriors chuckled at the elder elf’s response, as one of the armored knights waves the horses by them with a short barbed spear that has a fifteen inch bladed tip. The blade seems versatile, being suited for slashing as well as typical spear thrusting attacks. The armor consists of plates and scales of alloy, crafted perfectly; it made no sound as the warriors moved about. The helmets have angel wings and pointy ears are exposed from contoured ear holes so that viewed together, show the elves racial lineage along with their divine heritage. Although better armored, the younger elves seem a bit less serious than the elder. In fact, their eyes up close are wide in admiration, for before this day they had never laid eyes on human beings.
Athellos decides a diplomatic attempt to represent mankind is needed.
“I am Athellos, and my trail worn and wounded friend, is Eva Becksby. The Guardian, Alumina Solumn has….” Athellos says until he is interrupted again, making a frustrated grimace shoot across his face.
“We are aware of the grace Alumina bestowed upon you, and although she is in high regard among us elves, we question her judgment on champions as of….” the elder says, as he mysteriously stops mid sentence and peers into the air.
A ‘crack’ sound booms in the sky as an angelic guardian breaks the sound barrier and soars toward the earth from the clouds. One hundred yards from the ground, Alumina Solumn launches into a single back twirl with fully extended legs, and arms outstretched, while gracefully flipping over herself. In one hand the ballistic blond holds a singing claymore that shines bright in the sunset rays and rings with a metallic hum constantly. The blade’s humming grows intense and soft while it is coming point over hilt in the air. The winged woman finally comes back over hard with momentum carrying her into the ground, and smashes into the earth with her knee to ease the impact after her supersonic descent. With her sword driven into the earth, the hilt catches her, and debris is sprayed over elves and men alike who flinch instinctively yet the steeds do not make a peep or move a muscle. The horses bowed their heads in unison towards the shadow of the being that can be vaguely seen through the dust.
The shadow of the kneeling form of Alumina, with both hands on her sword handle, rips the sword from the ground and storms out of the hazy crater. Lady Alumina Solumn can now clearly be seen as the dust is blown away in an instant with a sharp flap of her powerful wings ‘”whoosh!” while she marches towards everyone. She is clearly upset.
Alumina Solumn extends her wings that protrude from the back of a shining breastplate. The chest plate is fastened over a chainmail robe that extends down to mid thigh and makes a ‘chingle-changle’ as she moves. The guardian’s flowing golden hair waves rhythmically and her delicate features are deceiving, as she swings a sword while she marches in one hand that the most rugged of men would heave with two. The guardian angel stretches her wings again, then they fold on her back neatly. Elven warriors kneel before her in synchronized respect as she passes them. Alumina’s expression starting as ‘upset’, steadily grew to ‘furious’ as she closed in on the condescending elder.
Alumina Solumn throws her singing blade and it ‘whirrs’ through the air blade over pommel until it cleaves a maple tree in the clearing with a ‘ching’, and finally sinks to the hilt into a knotty pine. The final impact resonates with a metallic ringing that forces everyone’s hands over their eardrums in agony and sends the robins and chickadees into the sky for miles.
“My judgment is sound, Elder. You blaspheme the Creator appointed guardianship while bullying my champion?” Alumina shrieks, her eyes go wide as she asks, and her mouth turns up in a smile of disbelief while she shakes her head.
“I’ll not equal myself to a meta-sapian, and a championed glory hound. I do not deny the pact or the union, however.” the elder adds respectfully yet surprisingly without yielding his opinion.
“You may keep your opinions, Elven Lord, but I’ll not be defined by them!” the guardian replies, then adds through clenched teeth. “I swear to you, by the creator and his kingdom.”
“My lady…” Athellos says with a tip of his black hat, the minstrel showing his respectful admiration.
The guardian looks back at Athellos over her bulky shoulder plates with a grateful, slow blink and a nod, before going back to her rage fueled scowl.
“I would not demand the wiseman’s respect until I have earned it Alumina. I would not see him condemned, and in fact, during these times, I would welcome a suspicious ally for it bests a false praise or insincere greeting tenfold. I welcome the challenge to overcome this first impression.” Athellos says with a warm smile.
“You’ll be challenged further than that before the weeks out, Minstrel.” the elder replies, noticing Athellos lute and keeping his hard exterior.
“It’s not the Demon’s I worry about. Its elven welcoming parties that are intimidating……” Athellos says with a smirk.
An elf archer struggles not to laugh, being caught off guard at the human’s reply.
“My pride will heal, but my condolences go to the maple tree.” Athellos adds with a smile.
The elder even softens his expression for he could not deny the human was truthful about earning respect, then he says, “The Champion of Alumina Solumn will have his day to prove worthy soon enough.”
The warriors and archers had a hearty laugh amongst themselves in spite of the elder’s restraint.
“We will council the matter at hand together. We all have much to lose in the coming days.” Alumina, the guardian of Inspiration commands.
The elder mutters verses in an ancient language that sounds as feint as the wind passing through a thistle-wooded grove. With a flick of his wrist, shining glyphs hum and shimmer over the dense tree line. With the magical camouflage removed, a clear path can now be seen leading into the secluded village. Trumpets sound in the distance and tall slender elven commoners can be seen curiously congregating toward the entrance.
A few elf maidens are already helping the injured sorceress off her horse saddle with tender compassionate eyes. Their hair brown and braided with flowers hangs only inches from the ground, and embroidered dresses silky and flowing sway lazily in the late afternoon breeze.
“We will care for you sister…” one of the maidens whispers calmly.
“We were attacked, Solaras Omega soldiers.” Athellos reports, reconsidering its importance, then continuing.
“I had to crumble a building and we nearly failed to escape with our lives. I had no time to move rubble to check for survivors….” Athellos adds, quickly imagining a possible sentence for murdering official city guards and shuddering at the thought of a humiliating public hanging.
“They survived. Rest easy. Your a talented young man, Athellos, and you must not doubt. The events were necessary if Eva Becksby was to survive. She is unique.” Alumina says in reassurance.
“I have heard of metasapians, for they are rather commonly open about it now, with whole colonies cropping up in the Silver Ridge and Plum blossom lowlands districts. They often perform or trade in gypsy caravans across these settlements locally.” Athellos replies with excitement, unable to contain his admiration for the mystical breed.
“Eva is no metasapian. She is of human and elven origins, but her union of both is a natural one.” Alumina says with great seriousness and a forlorn eye, baring her sincere concerns.
“She is true, Half-elven? How many of her magnificent kind walk secretly among us?” Athellos asks, his eyes widening with amazement as the concept grasps tighter, leaving him completely intrigued.
“Yes, she is half elf and half human as well and the first of her kind. She is being summoned to inherit an elven council seat.” Alumina says, quickly moving the subject back to business.
“Does she know of her bloodline? I noticed her ear points, although it is significantly more subtle than the purebloods.” Athellos asks, then he ponders the sorceress a bit more.
“She does not know.” the guardian replies.
“Why was she living amongst our kind, errr, my kind?” Athellos says in wonder as he corrects himself. Athellos is surprised at how comfortable he had become in the presence of a heavenly being and smiles sheepishly.
“It will be hard for her Athellos. She is the child of an arranged birth.” Alumina Solumn says reluctantly, unable to hide her bitterness and shame she hangs her head.
“Arranged birth? You mean arranged marriage?” Athellos says, his disbelief growing as Alumina’s only reply is a shameful shake of her head while she painfully turns away.
“How awful, to be conceived without loves permission, and born without a family.” Athellos says, hardly able to imagine such an arrangement.
“She is a symbol of the pact. The walls that divide humans and elves and guardians will be no more. The crimes mankind committed long ago will be forgotten. Council is needed so that we may establish that we are now considered the creator’s children with no other labels permitted, and then unite.” Alumina says as she watches three elven children with earthy brown hair and bright pastel colored textile tunics spar with wooden swords. A hope filled, warm smile then finds itself onto her face.
“Eva Becksby’s price steeply exceeds your own, Lady Alumina…” Athellos says sharply revealing his skepticism.
“I did not force her parents to conceive! You humans need minimal coaxing to perform, and the elven counterpart volunteered!” Alumina roared, her cheeks streamed tears of pain and frustration.
“I had to leave her mentor in his study. His safety is important to Eva and I wish to take steps to retrieve him.” Athellos says changing the delicate subject, and seeking to relieve himself of his guilt.
“Her mentor Nephitus, has been exposed to a demon collective, which is a dimensional space where information is shared between the underworld beings. It is unknown if he will recover because no human can mentally withstand the power of the collective. No soul has ever entered this dark realm unless a demon required the person to be destroyed. The demons now know what Nephitus knew, and whatever is left of a human mind after, is usually not enough to continue to function at all.” Alumina says calmly, while she paces, obviously showing her contempt for the vile practice, but relieved for the subject change momentarily.
“How devastating for poor Eva… he was all she had it seemed.” Athellos replies while he feels pity for her lonely existence.
“It was the demon’s intent. Humans are quite admirable when faced with adversity. But when the demons took away Eva’s confidence and her support, it is that much easier for her to fall. It is evident that the underworld knows of her. Attacking her closest friends is not uncommon for demon lords seeking to torment. You would do well Athellos to remember that demons have studied the human spirit since your beginning, and need only break it to destroy your race. It is their only purpose and they are perfecting it. Your spirit will make you swallow your pride, fight your fears, and lead you to your destiny. It is the most powerful weapon against the demons, your greatest asset, and earth’s greatest resource matched only by the elves unconquerable will or the guardian’s compassion.” the guardian warns, finishing the lesson while she rests a plated gauntlet on Athellos’s shoulder.
“Sound advice, my lady. Eva has given up much without consent and I would be surprised if she accepted her duty to the elven council with a heavy, wounded heart but she seems resilient.” Athellos says, trying his best at optimism. He decides it unwise to continue showing his contempt for the guardian’s desperate attempt to close a racial gap unnaturally. How could she insult, calling our race promiscuous, and defending such a barbaric birth arrangement? Perhaps it was going to be alright since Eva now has a place within the elven community he thought. Not fully understanding the reasoning and feeling overbearing pity, Athellos carries his mental burden and trots toward the elven village.
“It was necessary my champion. It is up to you to inspire and be the strength in their moment of weakness, be the Light in their moment of darkness, and show them courage when they are afraid.” Alumina Solumn says with a respectful bow towards Athellos, then adds with compassion,
“I love you Athellos, you are charming, dashing, and brave. I do not ask that you adopt my ideals, but only request your best self and earth will have victory! ”
Alumina Solumn rips her claymore out of the pine and raises it to the sky.
“My deity, my lady, I honor thee, thy might, thy beauty, and thy wise words will remain unmatched through eternity, infinitely.” the minstrel recites while he whips his hand across his wide-brimmed black feather hat, then snaps his reins and rides his steed to catch up with the elder and his warrior escort.
Alumina Solumn looks to the horizon as the fleeting rays begin to disappear behind the deciduous canopy. The Angelic Guardian has no power on the dark side of the planet and Alumina squints as her heavenly vision fades. Her battle plate and chainmail revert to a modest evening dress of lace and silk.
Alumina uses her wings to lift herself thirty feet upward. She turns to shoot a last concerned glance toward Athellos and ensure the magical camouflaged entrance is in place, then begins an angelic flight, slowly ascending magically back to the guardian hall. Alumina Solumn now wonders if her appearance was wise for she has risked much to protest the elder’s mocking slander and guarantee Eva found her seat at the table.
As soon as Alumina crosses into the guardian hall, a burst of molten rock sprays onto the grassy hillside from a portal into the abyss that appears from a shifting shadow.
Drakul, the shadowy demon lord, emerges with a vile fanged grin, his eyes literally ablaze with anticipation.
“I will enjoy murdering the half-bred harlot.” Drakul snarls, his stare burning with unholy fire, his coal-black horns shiny and jagged in the moonlight. He is hatred incarnate.
\ “My brother will pay for this treachery! The scholar was his target because he seeks to demoralize the Becksby girl then take the glory of destroying the elves for himself! Meanwhile he sends me to paw through that pile of stones Solaras, city of sheep herders! We shall see Izizu, the Deceiver.” The demon said to himself as he immediately began contemplating his revenge against his power hungry brother, Izizu.
Drakul’s shadowy form contorts and folds onto itself until he is in the form of a large winged bat. He then flutters from the shadowy hillside into the pale blue moonlit eve. Just then, a pack of wolves can be heard in the distance as they start to bay a haunting melody at the moon, paying homage to the darkness and beginning the evening hunt.
Copyright est. Dec 2012 this preview is protected under the title “Age of Armageddon: The Spirit of Krynn”. All rights owned by the author, Ryan Tyler Palmer.