5004 words (20 minute read)

Chapter 2

Neàmlight Pàhr’st (Moonlight Forest)

It was midday before either of us decided to actually get up, wash and dress before starting the day’s normal routines of Azreàl training young elves in sword craft and the use of bows, and me, well my days usually consist helping out others, taking walks, looking after my horse, Spirit. I stood up off the floor and went over to my chest to fetch my dark blue leggings, long dark brown boots and pale blue tunic that was slim fitting. My room, spacious as it was, always carried a lot of light that streamed in through the perfectly placed windows either side of the bed. My belongings chest was against the far wall, and above it, a painting of my mother wearing her favourite gown of pale blue. She looked so happy then, that’s how I remember her. My wardrobe was opposite my bed, my fairly big wardrobe and a long table pushed against the wall next to the door. Atop of the table were my favourite brightly coloured plants that I always remember to water every morning, and a wash basin filled with water and a full water jug sitting beside it.

Every building was made of stone, a special light coloured stone called ozul, it can be shaped purely from the Phase, no amount of digging or workmanship involved in the erection of these buildings. Every wall and pillar, inside and out, was covered in carvings of flora and fauna.

As I had finished buttoning my tunic, Azreàl was starting to wash himself in the basin. ‘I will be in the training grounds later for our young fresh elves, if you need me you know where to look.’ He said.

‘Okay, I will find you later,’ I kissed him before leaving the room. I walked down the stairs to my living room which finally led me outside. I walked passed the arched steps, along the rock edge before me, and headed towards my father’s house. Walking through the archway, I approached a set of steps that leads me to father’s study where he usually spends most of his time pondering over old maps and histories of Feln. One such book was sitting on top of his desk entitled ‘Origins Of The Dragon Order’ and a book on ‘The Journeys and Legends of The Gods’ both by Ben Wolfskin. I wonder what it is he is trying to find that seems so important to him.

‘What can I do for you, Tarì. I’m rather busy at the moment, as you can see.’ He said while sifting through some of his maps scattered on the desk. A tall bookshelf stood to one side, filled with neatly arranged books. One shelf had scrolls piled high and tied with string. With ink pots and quills of various sizes arranged neatly in order.

‘What is it that has you so interested that you would spend most of your waking life stuck up here staring at your maps and tomes of Feln? What is it that you are not telling me? Father I’m worried about you; you spend far too much time up here and not with your family. You’re people.’

‘I’m sorry, Tarì. The less you know the better. I can’t explain it until I know for certain myself, and if I did I don’t know if I could without endangering everyone around me.’

I stood shocked; a wave of apprehension ran through me, to think that my own father could not talk to me was astounding. It’s as if I didn’t know who he was anymore. ‘Has this got anything to do with my dreams I have been having, father? Because ever since I told you about my first dream, you stuck yourself up here. Who is this man that I keep seeing? Do you know who he is, father?’ My fear rose higher as I suddenly felt afraid, ‘If you do, then tell me please! Because I am sick and tired of being left in the dark all the time!’ My heart raced, and I felt a shiver run through my body. Shouting, to father? What’s come over me, I never did that before. What is happening to me? ‘I’m…I’m sorry, father.’ I said, looking down. I suddenly felt ashamed but also, strangely angry at the same. ‘I shouldn’t have shouted at you like that. But you shouldn’t treat me like a child all the time, I’m old enough to take a lot of responsibility. But I can’t do that if you keep treating me like I’m a youngling.’

‘Your right, I shouldn’t treat you as such. You remind me so much of your mother. You’re eyes, you’re stubbornness. But listen to me when I say that what I am searching for, the less you know the better. At least for now. I can’t risk putting you in danger and getting your hopes up until I know more myself. I’m sorry, Tarì.’ He stood up from his chair and walked over to one of his bookcases and started studying the bindings for their titles. I took this opportunity to quickly snatch the book titled ‘Origins of The Dragon Order’ from his desk.

I just turned and walked away from him. Not to get my hopes up? What does that mean? For him to not explain to me what my dreams mean I can’t decide if I know who he is anymore. He has never kept me in the dark before. What is he up to? I will read up on this book, and see what I can find out for myself. I think it’s time to read up on the history of Feln. And then I remembered what it was I wanted to speak to father about. Well I’m not going back up there; I will have to talk to father about Azreàl another time. So I headed back downstairs towards the library it’s as good a place as any to study the book, as soon as I stepped inside the doorway I took a moment to realise how much knowledge we had accumulated over the years. There were rows and rows of bookcases filled with books that were stored alphabetically alongside stacks of scrolls sorted into their own system. How do librarians always know exactly where everything is? That has always bugged me.

‘Up to the second floor then’, I said to myself as I climbed the steps. I need to find a chair and desk to read this book. One person could get lost in a place like this, it’s incredible. I made a mental note to come here more often. I found the nearest desk, sat down and studied the book’s cover. It had a depiction of a dragon with a rider upon its back. I remember father always telling me stories about dragons and their riders, but I never really thought it was possible or even real. It seemed father was right about his stories. I opened up the leather book and began to read it.

In the earliest times, Vanharlm was a world of chaos and endless struggle. Its many tribes and races were scattered, warring with one another in a vicious cycle.

Five of its greatest races - the elder breed of Dragons, the Wood elves, Dark elves, Dwarves and the younger tribes of Humanity - fought bitterly against one another. Other races such as the Giants, Trolls, Orcs, Goblins, Sky elves, and Fer, giant mushrooms that protected the great magical forests, kept to themselves. Where dark elves or mankind encroached on the breeding grounds or entered the ancient city of the dragons, the great beasts would travel through the portal burning human and dark elf villages and cities to the ground and scorch their croplands. It was not easy, they had to have a mage or a wood elf who could read the dragon runes on the pillars to activate a portal that would lead to the dragon city, for not all mages or Phase users could decipher and read these runes.

But one day a dragon named Kî’rohk, formed a council of the eldest and wisest to agree to bring down or change how the portal is opened. The council agreed to change the rules in how the portal is activated but not to destroy it. They decreed that whoever is worthy, brave and honourable would be able to travel to the city of the dragons.

This madness raged on for centuries, until at last, a flicker of hope shone forth. The wood elves, dwarves and mankind had together enacted an uneasy truce with the dragons. Through time, this peace grew into mutual trust and the four races began to work together for their common good. In the surrounding regions, the strength of this alliance spread, and the first great civilisation was born. Huge cities were erected in the alliance’s honour and as a symbol of this alliance, the wood elves and human races agreed upon the pact known as the bond. Through the act of a ritual and the use of a dragon’s soul stone, the bravest and most noble of the elves and men would join their life essence to that of a single dragon, linking the two forever as one. The soul stone was then magically placed back into the body of the dragon, and there it will reside until the dragon deems it necessary. Those bonded formed an alliance known as the Dragon Order, serving as roaming protectors. Great statues were built in their honour and more people worshipped the order than ever before.

Led by this gleaming example of the bonded, the order soon established and spread its influence throughout the continents. The great warring races were gathered into a single great nation, even the sky elves that ride great butterflies joined in the alliance with man, elf, dragon, and dwarf. For generations this peace held, enforced by the dragon-riders.

But, as in all times, there were those whose hearts held only hatred, those who longed to rule over others and to destroy the Dragon Order and any who stand with them. So displeased were the dark elves that they formed a unity to The Dark Sun Union and to that of Taurus, the Lord of Darkness.

But Taurus would bring an end to this golden age. A demon of tremendous power. Taurus, who was once a man before betraying the Lady of the Light, his lover, would bring chaos and evil back into the world that, has now known peace. Under Taurus’s direction and rule, the Dark Sun Union had been conducting vile experiments in genetics and forbidden dark magic known as Dreconic power, using dark elves, humankind and various beasts to conduct them deep in the swamps to the west. The discoveries made were kept hidden from the world, known only to Taurus and the high ranking officials of the Union’s council. Once his experiments were perfected, he could then clone that experiment and vast armies could be created within days.

Taurus was certain that the time to move against the order had come. Through quick decision, Taurus set all his plans into motion and the impending downfall of the order was soon in his grasp. He gave all of his lieutenants instructions before disappearing into the swampland to the west, not to be seen again for another fifteen years.

Fifteen years later, Taurus appeared on the steps of the Dragon Temple in the city of the Dragons. He was greeted with disbelief and horror. Taurus stood silently as he gazed upon the faces of the most intelligent and noble people of the order. With a grim smile upon his face, he uttered a powerful word of destruction forgotten for over eight hundred years that ripped through the city, destroying anything within its path. A great earthquake trembled the ground beneath their feet, buildings fell into the dark abyss below and anything that was left standing collapsed by the shockwave.

A dense fog had descended upon the city, blanketing the streets. Blinding flashes of light rippled across the city, portals had opened up all over and with it streamed dark, hulking hideous shapes pouring forth from the alleyways, dragging behind them huge blood-coated axes and blades. Some of the horrific beasts had weapons grafted into their skin, great blades now replaced their arms. Within minutes the streets were choked with the dead and dying, and roars of the Dark Sun Union’s beastly servants were echoing in the air. By nightfall, the city was in ruins and the minds of the most intelligent of the order were smouldering in the rubble and ashes of the Dragon Temple.

The Dark Union Wars Had Begun.

As the word of Taurus’s betrayal spread, the remaining cities and races outside of the dragon portal rose up against him, and war engulfed the world. With the Dwarves, Wood and Sky elves and Humans banding together with the order against Taurus, Everywhere agents of the Union streamed to Taurus’s side, among them the dark elves and the elder race of Giants, long driven into the cold mountains and forgotten, had re-emerged under the Unions banner. Also among them were several of the orders mages and many of the human bonded. Dark, forgotten Source magic raged across the world, levelling cities and armies on both sides. The Orders great achievements of the golden age were soon ground into dust. But some of the Orders greatest warriors including the great warrior Haro had helped evacuate towns, villages and cities before the Union could reach them, making civilian casualties low. But not all were as fortunate for cities like Windale had been completely destroyed, with no hint of survivors.

In his years in the swamps, Taurus had amassed his nightmare army, strengthened by Source magic that he designed. From his experiments in the swamps, Taurus’s magic had produced legions of twisted, vile and hideous monsters that took every one of his commands without question. Were these creatures originally humans and beasts? The most horrific of all were the unions Ur’laks - the shock troops. Under the sorcerer’ influence, all of their experiments had grown murderous and lusting for blood. It was the Ur’laks, in wave after wave, that drove the forces of the Order and the resistance back, until it seemed all was lost.

Seeing victory within his grasp, and no longer needing the aid of the Dark elves, Taurus betrayed them. While using an ancient and dark Source magic, he foully perverted it and devoured their souls, absorbing them into his own. But a few still remained. Now, grown monstrous and nearly invincible, Taurus prepared to lead his armies against the Order and the resistance, hoping to eradicate any last remnants.

At the High pass, the remains of the order and any who offered aid gathered for one final stand. In a last desperate hope, the demi-God Haro, son of Vai, had put all his hope and faith into that of a single weapon: The Soulblade. The weapon so named due to the mages who sacrificed themselves and bore their souls into the sword, with this power the sword will be able to kill Taurus for no weapon has been able to do so, so far. Until now. Surrounded and outnumbered, the orders only hope lay with Haro and this sword. Wielding the mighty sword, Haro was astride his mighty beast, Kronos. Both armies stood facing each other, the roaring cries of the Union could be heard everywhere. The resistance stood hammering and bashing their shields with their weapons, perfecting a war cry of their own. Before rushing to clash with the Union, the resistance unleashed their most powerful weapon that would break the first line of defence: the Armoured Boars and lions. Born, raised and trained under the resistance, these armoured beasts or war, are deadly within the field of battle. But not all were trained under the Order; some were of the magical race of Guardians, a mixed race of animal species who can talk to whoever they choose to and teleport to other destinations. With the bonded flying overhead, the battle was ready to commence.

As the armies clashed, Taurus was drawing up power for the final massive spell of destruction. Undisturbed was Taurus, by the unending battle and roar of chaos that raged around him, swords and axes clashed and arrows were let loose to hit their intended target. With the stolen souls of the Dark elves, Taurus had become far mightier than any mage or God before him. Dragons clashed with dragons, many of the bonded were killed. Huge tares in the earth were inflicted by the deadly magic and the force of the dragon’s abilities. The field was soon covered in the dead and dying. Pitiful load wails of the dying dragons drowned the sound of battle. Elves unleashed deadly arrows within the Unions armies, they managed to drive them back to remove the injured from the battlefield. In their place stood the Dwarves and Sky elves, with their mighty axes, war hammers and Phase magic they managed to lead another assault against the Unions now diminishing army. Or so they thought. Just over the ridge from the mountains, stood another, large; monstrous army of the Union. All had seemed lost.

As the words of the spell rose to Taurus’s lips, a lone dragon came roaring from the blackened clouds, weaving amidst the forked lightning that now flooded the skies above. On Kronos’s back, Haro gripped the Soulblade in both hands, and leapt from Kronos’s back, and drove it deep into Taurus’s heart. In the moment of the act, everything fell silent all around him. As Haro stood with his sword hilt-deep in Taurus’s chest the force of the unfinished spell unleased a devastating rippling shockwave that stretched for miles around him destroying and killing in its wake.

The sound of battle was heard no longer, the blackened clouds still hung over the field. Only the sound of silence echoed across the charred battlefield. When the smoke finally cleared, both armies lay decimated. Where Taurus had stood, a crater had been torn into the ground. In the crater below, Haro lay dead, with the Soulblade at his side. Only a few remaining dragons, including Kronos, somehow still clung to life.

The Dragon Order was no more. With the order now gone, all thoughts of nobility were soon forgotten, replaced by that of the basic drive: survival. Chaos spread once again throughout the land. The remaining dragons soon became weary of the world of men and withdrew back to their city. The time of dragons was at an end. The world once again split into many kingdoms, and the great achievements of the order were soon forgotten. The Sky elves withdrew back into their floating city above the great ocean.

Glory had faded from the world, and of the Dragon order, only the legends remained.

As I slowly digested each page, I realised that I had never known any part of this history. It’s like it was completely removed from all knowledge. So, I now know how alliances were made. That elves and humans rode dragons as protectors of Feln. And that Taurus and the Lady of the Light (who I do know about) were lovers before he betrayed her for world domination. But what has all this got to do with father? What is he looking for? I think I need to find out more answers from my dreams; I need to know who the man in my dreams is, and why he appears to me some nights.

I closed the book and brought it back with me, to my chambers, where I placed it in my chest under my mother’s portrait, where I knew it would be safe. I felt a sudden urge to speak to Azreàl, and to hear his comforting words wrap around me, like his arms did when I needed him.

I walked outside and headed towards the arched stairs leading to the training grounds, where I knew Azreàl would be at this time of day. I walked as fast as my legs could carry me. Walking past the upper gardens, I could hear his voice amongst the sword clashing and arrows thumping on their targets. The elflings, Illplûins, nimbly jumped from tree branch to tree branch, firing arrows at various targets, some moving as they were swung by ropes, others fixed into position. As I walked passed the armoury, I saw him. I walked the distance towards him and he glanced my way. He must have seen the seriousness upon my face because he suddenly looked worried as he frowned my way. ‘Azreàl, we need to talk. It’s about my father.’

With an anxious expression on his face he replied, ‘What is it? What’s happened?’

‘Something is wrong. He has stuck himself in his study ever since I told him about my recent dreams I have been having. And he is blocking me out; he keeps saying that it is for the best that I do not know anything until he has understood what it is he is looking for, whatever that may be. I’m worried about him. I even shouted at him, I’ve never shouted at father before, never. What should I do?’

Azreàl walked forwards and placed his hand upon my shoulders, ‘you need to calm down and take a breath for a moment, you look pale.’ He smiled at me as I looked into his eyes and did as he said. ‘That’s better, now tell me, when did these dreams of yours start?’

‘They started about two months ago, I should’ve told you this before, I’m sorry. But it’s the same dream over and over again. I’m standing in a high meadow overlooking the ocean far below, then this man appears to my right in a flash of light. He is elvish, but he is dressed differently, and he starts to walk towards me. He is glowing, like some of the plants in the forest, when they glow at night. When he stands no more than two feet away he says these words, “The beginning of the end is upon you, you must rise up to your destiny, Tarì. Find the dragon Kronos, awaken him from his eternal slumber, for he alone knows what happened in the days of old. The days of anarchy and chaos will return to the world Tarì, only you can stop the darkness from spreading.” I watched Azreàl’s eyebrows drew together in confusion, but pressed on before he could say anything. ‘It’s the same message he keeps repeating in my dreams only he says it differently every time, but it is the same message he is trying to get across. He speaks of dragons but I thought they left this world to return to theirs because of what happened between Taurus and the Dragon Order.’

‘Wait, slow down,’ said Azreàl calmly. I felt his reassuring voice comfort me, as if wrapping itself around my body like a cloak. ‘If he says it differently each time in your dreams, then maybe you can interact with him somehow, maybe you could try to talk to him even.’ Azreàl must have read the doubt on my face when he added, ‘Look, why don’t we talk later in your chamber. I will finish up here early and meet you there, Okay?’

‘Yes, okay,’ I smiled, as I took a deep breath and felt a reassuring feeling passed over me. ‘We will talk more later.’ I put my arms around him tightly, leaning my head against his shoulder. I felt his arms around me. ‘I think I will rest for a while, try to get my head around things.’

‘Just take it easy, I don’t want you to get worked up over something that could turn out to be nothing. But we will defiantly talk more, you go rest now, I will be there shortly.’

He pulled his arms away and kissed me. And for a moment I forgot what I was so worried about. It seemed nothing else mattered. I smiled and walked back towards my chamber. As I entered my room, a wave of exhaustion suddenly overcame me, and I immediately went over to my bed to lie down. No sooner had I done so, I felt myself fall into a deep sleep.

I was standing in a meadow for what now seemed ever so familiar to me. Overlooking the ocean, I felt the warm wind brush against my face. I could hear the distant songs of wild birds and the sun shining down on the earth once again. A blinding flash of light emanated from my right and an elvish man stepped forth. He was walking towards me, with a light glow emanating from him. ‘Who are you? What do you want of me?’ I asked him as he continued to close the distance between us.

‘Do you know why I come to you child? I come to you to set you on a journey that will define you, change you. Chaos will descend to the world again and only you can stop it. You ask who I am, but you are not ready for the answer. Only you can find the answer to that yourself. You will not understand now what I ask of you but you will when I ask that you find the dragon Kronos; he will help you for he knows all too well what lies ahead. Awaken him from his slumber by reciting these words to release him, “Awaken from your deep eternal slumber, Kronos; awaken back to the world of the living.” When he is woken, tell him that you wish to make the pact known as the Bond. To reawaken the old alliance that was once between man, elf and dragon. He will understand when you tell him what has transpired when you reach him. He will tell you how to make the pact, it is up to you to find a way through the portal, if you are brave, noble and worthy enough to enter you will be granted entry. I must leave you now, but know this; I have watched you throughout your life, you should have no trouble getting through the portal. Farewell Tarì, we will meet again.’

After finishing his words, a flash of light descended upon him and he vanished along with it. ‘Wait,’ I cried, ‘I still need answers,’ but he had already gone. I stood gazing at where he had just been standing, I tried to look around me, but darkness suddenly crept all around and eventually, it grew completely dark.

Light pierced through once more. The darkness receded and slowly I could see red clouds in the sky and the smell of blood as I came to my senses. Bodies lay scattered amongst the ground, humans, elves and dwarves shared their shallow grave. Roars echoing and thundering around me. A shout came from my left. I turned towards it. I stood upon a graveyard. I was sickened, but I focused on the man shouting orders to human and elf alike. He wore silver plate mail that shone like a star in the night. His long, dark, mid-length hair covered by the helmet he wore over it, it crested two bird-like wings on either side of it.

A roar a little further to my right, shocked me as I stared at an impossible image. A dragon!...A dragon which I thought was lost from the world. The beast itself was red, had a pale blue skin covering its wings, and a silver tipped, razor sharp tail which looked like it could pierce any armour. His scales shone in the battle light. The man who was shouting orders earlier had walked towards the beast and mounted upon it. With a great beat of his wings he drove the enemy back with such force that they completely fell backwards to the ground.

Arrows flew through the sky above, as shouts and battle cries were heard all around me. Steel met steel and shields splintered under impact. I could taste the heat on my tongue from the surrounding scorched earth around me. Great flying beasts flew overhead, I tried to move but I couldn’t. A great piercing light shone behind be, blinding me, but I could not turn. Soon the white light enveloped everything and left me standing there, shocked at the sight I had seen.

I woke up with a start, feeling weary, and with a sheen of sweat covering my entire body.

Next Chapter: Chapter 3