OF THE WHITE
In a land of dreams and lore
called Aér'aí'chán. In a time lost in myths and fairytales the gods scheme to
destroy the races of Avá, the Dreamer. In this world a young girl dreams... In
her dreams the owl spoke. "You carry within yourself the seed of destiny! He
will bring about great destruction, but he also carries your love and will find
it someday. Let his name be Ethan." Then visions of a great war and powers
unleashed like she never saw before flashed before her eyes... Thus the prophecy
was given and the epic story of the Wizard of the White Tower begins.
ars and Belrath carried Ruth in and laid her on the couch. “There is still some hot water left in the kettle over the fire. Esmerelda, pour some into a cup and bring it over here,” Belrath said as he searched his herb bag. Finding what he needed he put some into the cup, poured the hot water over it and motioned to Lars to lift his daughter up. Lars slowly lifted Ruth’s head up and Belrath put a few drops of the liquid on her lips. She unconsciously licked her lips and within moments was starting to stir. Her eyes slowly opened and focused on the face of her father. “Father... I came as soon as I heard Lorilie had been found. Where is she? Is she all right? I must go to her!” she said weakly trying to stand.
Lars put a firm hand upon her and gently held her down. “Not now, Ruth. You are weak. You can hardly stand. Besides Lorilie is fast asleep, right Belrath?” he asked looking up for some help.
Belrath cleared his throat. “Umm... that is correct, Ruth. I gave some herbs to Lorilie to help her rest. She has been through quite an ordeal and so have you. In my opinion as the towns’ apothecary you should both get some rest and become strong. I am sure there will be plenty of time for questions later. Now drink the tea I made for you and soon you too will be fast asleep. When you both wake up then you will be stronger and then you can have a joyous reunion.”
Ruth thought a moment. Then she took the offered tea and drank it. “Thank you, mother,” she said. She slowly lowered her head on the pillow which Esmerelda placed under her and closed her eyes. Within minutes she was fast asleep. Lars looked at his wife.
“Now how did she find out Lorilie was here?” he asked.
“I didn’t tell her, Lars, honestly I didn’t,” squeaked Esmerelda.
Belrath came to Esmerelda’s defense. “It’s possible, Lars. Many people saw you carry Lorilie in here. Someone probably just told Ruth and that’s that.”
There was a knock upon the door. Esmerelda opened it. Standing on their porch was one of the Sophronian Guards. Esmerelda let out a small squeak. “Lars! It is one of the Guards!”
Lars came to the door. He gave one of his looks at his wife. “You are my wife and the Lady of this town. Act like it!”
Salina stood there. A small smile creased her face but she quickly erased it. It would not be good to be seen laughing at Lord Oman’s wife. Why he ever chose her was beyond her reasoning. At least his son Prince Jace was like his father, she thought as she waited for her Lord to speak.
Lars not so gently pushed his wife back into the house. “Stay here and look after Ruth and Lorilie. If Lorilie wakes up send for me at the Manor immediately. Is that understood, Esmerelda?”
“Yes Lars. I mean my Lord,” she said while curtsying and with a small smile crossing her lips.
Lord Oman stared for a few moments then he softly laughed, gave his wife a peck on the cheek and motioning to Belrath. Tey both walked out.
“Salina,where is your robe? In town you are to wear your robe. That way you won’t go scaring the townsfolk.”
“You mean your wife, don’t you?”
Lord Oman gave her a piercing look. He then turned his attention to Belrath who seemed amused at the banter going on between his Lord and the Captain of the Guards. “I believe you have something to do?”
“Yes, my Lord. There has been a rash of injuries to the people by wild beasts. In fact if and when you have the time I would like to discuss them with you.”
“What for Belrath? There are always those who stray too far from the town or main roads and get attacked. I’ve warned them many times.”
“Yes, my Lord, but these attacks are somewhat strange.”
“Strange? In what way?”
“Well it is not so much the attacks but the marks that are left and the after effects. You see it is my hypothesis that…”
“Never mind, Belrath. I don’t have the time right now to listen to your hypotheses. Come, see me when you are finished with your work and we’ll talk.”
“As you wish my Lord.” Belrath left after making a short bow.
“Now, Salina, what is so important you had to come to my house in full dress and without a robe?”
“A courier arrived from Lord Ma’asherom. He carries a message that he says could only be read and answered by you. Besides that I had just come back from patrol and had not the time to change.”
Ma’asherom, thought Lord Oman. What could he want? “I suppose we had better go and find out what the esteemed Lord of El’Darthar wants. Lead the way, my trusted body guard,” he said with a low mocking bow. Salina turned on her leathered heel and walked toward the Sophronian Manor. As Lars followed her to the Manor his thoughts turned towards Salina and the Guards.
The Sophronian Guards were all females. Each one stood at least two peds tall. They wore hip high leather boots with a pair of knives hidden within. They called them the Twins. On patrol or on duty they wore a dyed leather skirt with breeches underneath. Strapped to their inner thighs was another pair of knives. They called these the Chastities. Many unfortunate men learned about those needle sharp knives the hard way. Pulled over their hands up to the bottom of their elbows the Guards also wore a pair of leather riding gloves, hidden inside these gloves were another pair of throwing knives they called the Marauders. Each outfit was dyed with the color of the army they belonged to. Besides all of that they also had a short sword sheathed in a scabbard slung over their backs.
They were the descendants of a fierce female warrior tribe called the Serphelorians, who for generations had roamed, struggled and fought their way from Northern Sarvonia to settle in this region. The founder of the settlement was the twin brother of Talos and he named the village Sophronia. after Sophronia the Foresighted One, who had been the first leader of the Serphelorians. Talos himself founded Hawke’s Perch a few leagues south of the town. His brother’s name was Eldon and at the time when he founded Sophronia Eldon had also formed the Guards. Since this time they protected the people as the village grew. Eldon’s son Etain continued where Eldon had left off and built trade relations with villages sprouting up in the east beyond the Auturian woods. He even started trade with the elves living in the Zeiphyrian Forest. The elven bow was considered a prize to own. All of the Guards owned one. Some were even handed down from daughter to daughter of the Guards.
Ames, Etain’s son, built the first walls, fortifications and the foundation of the Manor. He was an explorer and explored far south to the Gulf of Maraya and founded a small fishing village. His only child, a daughter named Crystain married Caleb Oman the great-grandfather who continued building the Manor of the current Lord of Sophronia, Lord Lars Oman. In all respects I suppose his residence could be called a palace but that name was too ostentatious for them, so people used to call it the Manor and the Manor, the town and its Lord were well protected by these women warriors.
Lord Oman looked up on both sides of the walled path they were walking on. Ivy plants covered most of the walls but there were small, almost hidden slots cut into the walls that were posted by some of the best archers in the Guard. He smiled knowing they were there. The path led from a secret side door of the Manor to his plain home inside the town. As they approached the door leading into the Manor Salina stopped and looked at him with a critical eye. “My Lord, it would seem best to me to meet this man in a more - shall we say - royal fashion...”
“What did you say, Salina? My mind was elsewhere.”
“I said that you should be a little more royally appropriate.” She glanced over him with a disapproving eye.
“Oh you mean my clothes.” Lars looked himself over. “I will change when I go into the Manor.”
Salina sniffed. “It seems that some animal must have come this way.”
“What do mean?” Then it dawned on him. She was talking about him. “I suppose I could use a bath. The forest is not a place for a supposed Lord to be crawling around in. Tell the courier I will be indisposed for a while. Treat him with the most utmost kindness. Wouldn’t want him to go back and report to Lord Ma’asherom that Lord Oman was on Oaf now, would we?” he said smiling. “Besides it wouldn’t hurt him to wait. If it is the same courier that was here a few months back he needs a lesson in humility. What do you say, Salina?”
“It is the same one, my Lord. If you desire we could teach him some humility. A few bouts of Jakatya would do.”
“Jakatya! No Salina. I said humility not maiming.”
“My Lord I would not demean my warriors by such an act. I was thinking about the trainees,” she replied.
“Trainees? They are just young girls barely going on twelve years. I know you put much stock in their training. However, to put them against a full grown man...”
“You underestimate them, my Lord. And that thing waiting for you is no man! However I will do as you decree. Still…”
A look of horror passed over Lord Oman’s face. “No, Salina! Do not even think about it. Now go. Do as I requested and I will go and bathe and put on my royal robes. Entertain him for about an hour, then send him to me in the throne room.”
“Yes, my Lord. If you will excuse me now, I must go and get dressed.” She walked through the doorway, turned right, walked up a short flight of stairs to a thick wooden door. Producing a skeleton key out of the inside of her left glove she opened it, stepping inside the one of the Manor’s many hallways.
The Manor was unusual in that it was the first and only main defense of the town. Unlike most palaces when Ames first designed and built the foundations and walls of the Manor he built it in the design that the tribe always traveled in. Imagine a wheel with spokes coming from the outside to the hub. The hub was the town, its people, shops, and homes. The Manor would be considered the outside of the wheel. The spokes five of them were double walled paths that led from the four armies barracks and the throne room back into the town. Each army was assigned to protect a certain part of the wheel.
Granted as the town grew so did the wheel always expanding out ward. Instead of destroying or removing the existing boundary of stone they would just put up another boundary encircling the original and made modifications to the new one as new ideas of defense would be thought of. When new homes or shops were made they would be integrated in with the stone that was the old border as the new walls or borders were being built. From an eagle’s point of view you would see concentric circles ever expanding out with buildings built and meshed with the circle of stone adding to the defense for all the homes and shops were also used if ever an enemy breached the main wall. The throne spoke was the only unbroken spoke that went directly into the center where the current Lords residence was.
The main wall was the tallest and most fortified and only had two ways out: The Northern Gate and the Southern Gate. There were only two ways to go unless you wanted to go through the Zeiphyrian forest to the west and the Auturian woods to the east. Hidden among all of the walls and fortifications were traps that were deadly and cunning. Some were even built so long ago that most forgot they were there unless someone accidentally tripped one and then it was marked down on a map that only certain few knew the location of. The townsfolk just knew by experience which way to go to get to their respective homes and businesses.
Forbus, Lord Omans manservant, an elderly man with one arm missing, a little too much skin around the belly, graying hair that was loosing the battle with his forehead, had the bath water nice and hot when Lars stepped through the secret door into his dressing room behind the throne room. Forbus was dressed in a simple leather tunic that hung just below his knobby knees when he greeted his Lord.
“I see Salina has been her efficient self once more,” Lars remarked as he noticed the tub of water with his robes neatly hanging by on a wooden post.
“Yes, my Lord. Captain Salina had ordered me to prepare a bath for you before she went and found you. When she stormed in my room she nearly made my skin run away leaving me with nothing but my bones shaking like leaves in a strong wind. Yes, she sure did,” he said mumbling to himself as he continued laying out Lars’ clothes. After he was finished he left locking the door behind him.
Lars got undressed and sunk slowly into the tub of water. Ah, that feels good, he thought. As he washed himself he thought of what Belrath had said about Lorilie. She was with child. But who’s child? Some farmer’s boy? No, that could not be it. No boy or man - unless he was awfully strong -could take his granddaughter. Lorilie was really not his granddaughter. She just called him that, besides Matthew and he were related though distantly and he dearly loved that girl. Salina taught Lorilie the art of Jakatya herself. He recalled the many times when Salina would tell him that Lorilie had bested another opponent. Matthew himself would tell of stories of how Loirlie would best another boy from their village. Two more years and Lorilie could have entered the Golden Fleece competition if she chose to. Thinking of Matthew he wondered if he was safe. Jace and the others will find him soon. He mused.
A knock came at the door. Forbus’s gravel like voice said. “My Lord there is a young lad here with a message from Milady. And Captain Salina would like to have a word with you also. It seems that there was somewhat of a slight misunderstanding between the courier and one of the Guards.
“I shall be out as quick as I can,” replied Lars as he quickly rinsed off and began to get dressed. He dressed swiftly; putting on his own simple leather tunic over which he put on an Emerald green robe with a multi-colored wide sash wrapped around his middle. The sash was colored red, blue, black and white - the colors of the armies of Sophronia. Emerald was the color of Nobility. Upon his head he rested a finely wrought golden crown. This was his working crown for festivals and when foreign dignitaries would come he would wear the more ornate state crown. It was the same as the working one with just one difference: a perfectly cut emerald in the center was encircled with a perfectly cut ruby at the top; on the left side was set a sapphire, on the right side was black jade and on the bottom was an opal always reminding those who saw it of the armies who protected Sophronia and its Lord.
A small lad was standing admiring Salina when Lars entered the Antechamber adjoining the throne room. Salina was now dressed in the flaming red robe of the Tamarians, the lead army, with small delicate golden epaulets inset with a pair of rubies on her shoulder. She was standing there with a deadly look in her tawny colored eyes. Lars knew that look and shuddered thinking, I would not want to be that courier at this moment. Before she could speak he held his hand up and turned toward the young lad. “You have a message for me, lad, from Milady?”
“Yes, my Lord. Milady says to tell you to come quickly. She tells me to tell you that Miss Loirlie has awakened but that Mistress Ruth is trying to kill her!! She barricaded herself and Miss Lorilie in the bedroom to protect them. I was helping my father tend the garden when we heard the screams. My father almost lost his arm when he took hold of Mistress Ruth; least wise he lost some skin when she bit him. She sure is acting queerly. Anyways, I come here as quickly as I could to tell you.”
Salina was running before he even said a word. “Forbus, give the boy some coins and then go tell Liothalla what has happened and make sure that she tells the courier from El’Darthar that he will have to wait. Tell the cook to prepare a nice meal of mutton and give him a bottle of one of my finest wines from the cellar. That should appease him until I return.”
The scene inside of Lars’ living room was almost complete carnage; tables overturned, lanterns smashed and broken, their oil spilt all over the floor. A veil of feathers slowly drifted down from torn asunder pillows, the couch was barricaded against the door with the gardener guarding it and in the middle of all this was Ruth apparently unconscious with Salina standing over her looking like she had been tarred and feathered with a very wicked looking knife in her hands. She looked up as Lars entered the door hanging by one very bent hinge. He almost laughed when he saw Salina but thought better of it when he looked into her eyes. “How is she?” he asked.
“She!” said Salina. “She will be fine. She might wake up with a splitting headache but she will recover. I, on the other hand have a torn robe, lamp oil and feathers stuck everywhere and a fair sized gash on my hand. If it were not for my gloves I probably would have lost some fingers as well. Princess Ruth still has some strength in her. I underestimated her.” Though Ruth when she had married Matthew resigned her title, Salina still called her by it.
Lars turned to the terrified gardener. “And how are you my friend? I forgot your name.”
The gardener, an elderly man with silver hair, dark brown eyes hidden deep within bushy eyebrows surrounded by crinkling lines smiled. One of his teeth was missing. He held out his palm and showed it to Lars. “I’m fine, my Lord. Mistress Ruth saved me from going to the apothecary. I was going to have this tooth removed anyway.”
“What about your arm? Your son told me that Ruth bit you!”
“That she did, my Lord. She fought like a caged wolf but it’s nothing that some bandages soaked in Easecathe won’t cure.”
“Well there must be something I can do to repay you for doing what you did. I still can’t recall your name.”
“My name, Lord, is Borole. Borole Klignard. I don’t need anything. I’m just pleased I could help. We all know in town how Mistress Ruth has been pining away ever since Miss Lorilies’s disappearance and Master Matthew’s horse wandered into Hawke’s village alone.”
“But there must be something?”
“Well, my Lord, if you insist... - Mind you it’s not for me but for my son Jarle. He sure would like to be a squire someday... If you could arrange it I would be much obliged.”
“That I can arrange. Salina, see to it - will you?”
Suddenly Belrath rushed into the room. He saw Salina rising from the floor like a giant blood red chicken and started to laugh. His laughter was cut off very quickly as a needle sharp thin bladed knife whistled through the air, nicked his left ear and landed with a distinctive thud in the door jamb behind him. It happened so quickly that Belrath didn’t even see it coming he just felt the blood starting to trickle down the side of his face. “What! What? Was that for?” He spluttered. He quickly put his hand to his ear and was dismayed when it was covered with blood when he pulled it away.
Salina didn’t say a word. She just stomped past Belrath, retrieved her knife and slid it back into the hidden compartment inside her glove.
“Belrath, you should know better than to laugh at the Captain of the Guards,” said Lars hiding a smile behind his hand.
“Well, I never! I came as soon as I heard that Lorilie had awakened. I walk into a shambles and see a two ped chi…” He stopped short as soon as he realized what he was saying. “I meant see the Captain of the Guards rising off a prone Ruth. By the way where are Lorilie and Esmerelda?”
Then they heard the pounding on the bedroom door. “In all this I temporarily forgot about them,” Lars said. As fast as they could Lars Borole and Belrath removed the couch. They heard some scraping on the floor behind the door and then Esmerelda’s voice came through a small crack. “Is it safe to come out?” she asked.
In short time they had Ruth lying on the bed, still unconscious from the snake like blow Salina had given her behind her ear. Belrath examined her to make sure she was fine even though Salina said so. The snake blow is not a killing blow. It just knocks a person unconscious. They were all sitting around the living room table now drinking some Golden Tea and talking quietly amongst themselves after picking it up and setting it aright along with the chairs and other tables. Esmerelda had quickly brushed out the broken glass while Salina made herself a little less feathered. Still she was looking forward to going back to the Manor and clean herself up but she wasn’t going to budge until she found out why Princess Ruth would try and murder her daughter.
“We were sitting by Lorilie’s bedside when she awoke. I stepped out to let them be alone for a while when all of a sudden I hear Lorilie scream. I rush in and there was Ruth with knife in her hand trying to stab Lorilie. Where she got it from I do not know. Anyway I yell and that distracts her for a moment and then Lorilie threw her off of her. But Ruth came at us like she was possessed. Loirlie fought with her and threw her out of the room. That’s when I along with Loirlie’s help barricaded it with the dresser. I then hear the gardeners voice and some scuffling. The next thing I hear is your voice, Lars,” answered Esmerelda to her husband’s questions.
“ I know why she attacked me, grandfather! It was after I told her I had been raped by an elf.”
“An Elf! Why would a wood elf attack and rape you? They have been our friends for generations,” Belrath exclaimed.
“He wasn’t a wood elf, Sir Belrath. At least I don’t think he was. He was dark haired and eyed and he had a company of his men with him. If it were not for them he would have never taken me. I did all that you taught me, Salina, and fought like I never fought before. I managed to scratch his face before his men held me down while he…” She began to cry. Esmerelda held her softly against her until her sobs subsided. The others were sitting in silence. Salina was already forming a most wicked and slow torture for this elf in her mind. She asked, “Lorilie, did you get his name or anything about him that we may go hunt him down?” There was an edge of steel in her voice when she asked.
“His men called him Lord Saban.”
Story written by Capher