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.
TRAITOR IN OUR MIDST
ord Oman sat behind a rather large ornate Eur’Oak desk. The wood wrights of Hawke’s Perch beautifully carved the desk. It and the emerald woolen upholstered chair upon which he sat were large, strong and sturdy. He was in his private study at the Manor. He had been there for quite a while since leaving his town home and after the events of the evening he needed some quiet time alone. Surrounding him were thick walls of triangular stone of all different colors. Upon the right wall hanging from a wooden rod was a map with all of the known lands, kingdoms, capitols and names of their monarchs beside each one that was known to him and his mapmakers at the time.
Upon this map was all of the physical landmarks of Southern Sarvonia as well; Bears Teeth, an almost impassable wall of granite mountain range to the west where the borders of the Bear Clan began, the capitol Marcogg and its inhabitants, the Avennorians to the east located near the shores of the Adanian Sea, the capitol of the Erpheronians, Elsreth, within whom he had friends and distant relatives located far to the northeast on the shores of the Ancythrian Sea, and the Kyranian kingdom and its capitol Tyr, located far north.
There were other lands farther northwest but he did not know them. He knew that most of the land west of the Bears Teeth’ were occupied by the Clans. Lord Ma’asherom’s capitol El’Darthar was the capitol of the Bear Clan. There were also the Zeiphyrian forest where the Quaelhoirhim elven tribe lived along with his good friend Thy’ron the elf, who lived in Elving to the west of him and there were rumors of an elven tribe living in the Auturian woods named the Tethinrhim, but like most elves they kept to themselves. Thy’ron was an unusual elf.
In his left hand was the resignation note of Salina his former Captain of the Guards. He slowly tapped the folded piece of paper on the desktop, lost in deep thought. The crest of the Sophronian tribe on his right ring finger glinted in the oil lamp’s light. He put the paper down for a moment, rubbed his tired steel gray blue eyes, leaned back his head and ran his hand through his graying cheek length hair, shook it out and picked up the letter once again. Slowly he began to tap it once more on the desktop as he thought about what to do. He missed Salina. Though she sometimes brusque in her manor, she was honest, well informed and usually gave the best advice without too much emotion. If it were not for her vow and resignation he would probably be talking with her and Belrath right now about what has occurred and what should be done. He hoped Belrath found Lorilie and that she was resting. Ruth, his daughter, was cruel and seemed to be a stranger to him. I know she misses Matthew and fears he is dead, but there is something else about her. I just can’t put my finger on it though. A knock came at his door. He hoped it was Salina returning. Quickly throwing the letter inside his left hand drawer, he rose and opened it. His brow furrowed and disappointment showed on his face as he saw who was standing there. He quickly erased the frown and smiled.
Gabriel, second in command of the Tamarians, Salina’s recommended new Captain of the Guards stood there. She was dressed in the traditional robe of red; her blond hair flowing past her shoulders and deep-set sapphire blue eyes stared at him. “I was told to meet you here by Liothalla, my Lord. What service do you require?” she asked him.
She is awfully young, he thought. “Please, Gabriel, come in and sit down. There are matters of importance I need to speak with you about.” Lord Oman pulled out another chair, waited until she was seated, then proceeded to his own chair and sat down. He sat there for a long moment gathering his thoughts while Gabriel sat there quietly waiting for him to speak. Finally he spoke.
“Salina has requested a leave of absence. She has recommended that you take her place in her stead. I would like to know what you think about this?”
Gabriel almost jumped out of her seat. To think I am going to be the Captain of the Guards. That is a dream I never thought would happen, she thought. Eagerly she replied, “I would do my utmost to fulfill the duties of the Captain of the Guards, Lord Oman! I have plans and ideas to train them more efficiently. They need more work on calvary tactics, Jakatya, and swordsmanship. I know I can do the job Lord.” Suddenly she realized she had been too eager and had gone about babbling about things that Lord Oman probably thought were just fine. She stopped, regained her composure and spoke again. “I apologize for my outburst, Lord Oman. I realize that the position you are offering me is not easily given. Forgive me. I also acknowledge that it will be a temporary assignment since I assume Salina will not be gone long. I will do whatever you ask.”
Lord Oman sat there thinking. Young, yes. Eager, yes. Strong, yes. Experienced, no. These were the thoughts running through his head as he looked at her. “Frankly, Gabriel.” He noticed her countenance fall. “I appreciate your eagerness, strength, vitality and ideas but right now I need experience more than I need those. I was hoping that you would recommend someone else. Someone like Liothalla.”
“Oh, I see. Yes, I suppose Liothalla would be a much wiser choice. After all she is the oldest of the guards. Much more experienced than I. After all it is just a temporary assignment, right?” she queried again. “I can learn as much, maybe even more from her during Salina’s absence. However, I am curious. Why would you want Liothalla when Salina recommended me for the position? Do you not take into account that Salina would have thought about this before she left?” she said, trying to prove she was capable of rational thought instead of the babbling of a foolish girl.
Lord Oman thought about that for a moment. Why would Salina recommend Gabriel over Liothalla? I never considered that. Is there something about Liothalla she knew that I don’t know? Or is it she has such great confidence in her second of command? Hmm…. Interesting question. I wonder if I will ever be able to ask Salina that one. No, my mind is made up. I need experience and Liothalla is the most experienced Guard I have at the moment.
He gave Gabriel his most understanding smile. “I suppose Gabriel that I will have to ask that question when Salina returns for I have no answer. In the meantime I am going to give the position to Liothalla, with you still second in command. I am sure that with time and a little more experience your time to be Captain will come. After all, Salina did choose you to be her second in command above the rest of the Tamarians. Didn’t she? Take some comfort and assurance in that will you?”
“Yes, my Lord. Whatever you decree. Shall I ask Liothalla to see you now that you have made up your mind?”
“Yes, please do so as soon as you see her will you. And Gabriel, thank you for being supportive of my decision.”
“You are my Sovereign and you thank me?” asked Gabriel, not quite knowing what to think. “I do as I am ordered, as should all of your subjects. I ask your leave now, Lord, to do as you have ordered.”
Lord Oman sighed. He knew he had disappointed her tremendously and now she was trying to show it didn’t hurt and she was all business, but he knew better. “Yes, Gabriel. I am your King and Sovereign, but you know as well as I that I take care of my subjects like they were family, not servants to be mastered over, but cared and nurtured for. Someday you may understand. You may leave now and ask Liothalla to come and see me.”
Gabriel rose from her chair, turned smartly on her heels, walked to the door, opened it and marched out quickly shutting the door behind her. She was brushing the tears away from her eyes that had suddenly come unbidden. She stopped and looked at the closed door. She thought about what Lord Oman said about family. Yes, he does take care of us like family. In a way that is good, but for a king that could be an undermining attitude if a crisis arose. Yet I wish my father would have been as kind as he. She straightened up her back, raised her head and went to go look for Liothalla.
Gabriel walked through the wide highly polished wooden hallway running lengthwise down the left corridor of the closed off throne room. Turning left she came to the entrance of the Narisians guards room. She entered. The sounds of some of the guards sleeping were heard. She looked toward Liothalla’s door toward the rear of the room. A crack of light came through the partly opened door. Gabriel walked to the door and peered in. Liothalla was dressing. Her back was to Gabriel. Gabriel knocked discreetly. Liothalla turned around, saw Gabriel and scorned as she covered herself. Was that some sort of mark on her left breast? Thought Gabriel. “What is it that you want? Do you not have any respect for a person’s privacy?” she asked coldly.
Gabriel did not like Liothalla. She feared her for some reason. Always did. She was extremely glad she was a Tamarian. “I apologize, Liothalla, for my indiscretion. I was told to find you and ask that you talk with Lord Oman in his private study as soon as possible.”
Liothalla straightened her robe, stared down at Gabriel and replied, “I suppose he is going to tell me that you are the Captain of the Guards now and that I should support and advise you as best as I can.”
Gabriel could feel the animosity coming from Liothalla like she could feel cold steel in her hands when she handled her sword. She stammered. “Actually I believe he is going to give you the position,” she fired back. “I have done my duty. I will return to my own quarters. Lord Oman said: as soon as possible. I would not keep him waiting or you may be overlooked for the position as well.” She turned on her heel and marched out of the room.
Liothalla stood there watching Gabriel march out of the room. She thought about giving that impertinent girl some lessons in respect, but the thought of being made Captain of the Guards was just too appealing a thought. Things were falling right into place. Just like Cryella had predicted. It may take years to finally win over the Guards, but at least she was in command now. Problem is though, what if Salina returns? She must never be allowed to return. I don’t think that would be a problem though. She went after Lord Saban. She will probably die in her quest. Or be gone so long that I will have more control over the Guards than she ever did. She reached for an ivory handled brush and brushed out her dark red locks of hair until it shone like a dozen sparkling rubies. Taking a look at herself in a looking glass, peering into her dark brown eyes she smiled. Yes, everything is going as planned, she thought as she walked out of her room, locked the door behind her and left to go accept her assignment most graciously. She gave a low wicked laugh.
Quickly, but not so quickly as to give the wrong impression, she walked to Lord Oman’s private study. She knocked at the door. A voice said, “Enter.” She opened the door and entered. Lord Oman was standing next to the map on his wall. In one hand were sheaves of paper, in the other a quill pen and he was writing down something on the paper muttering. He turned around as Liothalla entered the room. “You requested me, my Lord. What service do you require?” she asked.
Lord Oman walked back to his desk, put the sheaves of paper down, and slid over a parchment signed with his seal. “I have decided to give you the position of Captain of the Guards, Liothalla. Here is my decree and sign of approval.”
“I thank you, my Lord, but what about Gabriel? Did not Salina recommend her?” she replied sounding as sincere as she could be.
“Yes, Salina did. However, I need experience right now and I do not think she has enough. There are events happening around us that require experience and wisdom to deal with them. Though Gabriel has youth, vitality and many fresh ideas I need experience, wisdom and sound advice more. You have served longer than any other Guard. Served with distinction I may add. You have served me well with sound advice before and I need that advice and your considerable experience as well. Gabriel will still be second in command and leader of the Tamarian Army until Salina returns.”
Liothalla paused. “Is Salina coming back, my Lord? I was under the impression that she would not be.”
“I am not sure, Liothalla. I hope so. This is between you and I. You will never under any circumstances tell any of the Guards that Salina resigned her post to fulfill that age old vow of her families. For now: If anyone asks, she has been given a leave of absence to pursue a personal matter. Is that understood?”
“Yes, my Lord. I understand. Is there anything else you wish to know before I retire to my quarters?” she replied gingerly picking up the decree and reading the order of command on the parchment and slowly running her finger over the Sophronian waxed seal.
“Yes, there are. First thing: In the morning I would like to see that courier from Lord Ma’asherom. See that he is brought to my chambers, well, on second thought: have him wait for me in the throne room. I will address this young upstart in royal fashion. Just to remind him in whose kingdom he is in,” he smiled. Second, have you by any chance seen Belrath, Ruth or Lorilie?”
“No, my Lord, I have not seen either of them except when Belrath and myself almost ran into each other when we met at your town home. After giving you the letter from Salina, one of my Guards and I escorted our guest to Naboth’s inn and then I went back to my quarters. Should I go look for them?” she inquired.
A noise was heard from the adjoining wall next to Belrath’s own personal study. Lord Oman smiled. “No, I don’t think that is necessary. I believe he is here. You may go, Liothalla. And may Armeros guide your hand.”
Liothalla slipped the parchment into her robe. “Thank you, my Lord. I am sure he will.” She walked out of the room, closing the door behind her. She then marched down the hall to her quarters and slipped out of the Manor. She had a meeting to go to. She knew the news that she would give those expecting her would be most welcomed.
After Liothalla left Lord Oman knocked on the adjoining door to Belrath’s room. He entered. “Belrath, did you find…” He closed his mouth when he realized that Belrath was not with Lorilie but with another woman. She seemed familiar. Belrath turned when he heard the door open and his name being mentioned. He saw Lars standing there with his mouth tightly closed. Belrath awkwardly made the introductions. “Lars, I mean Lord Oman, I have the distinct pleasure of introducing you to Belledhwain Yourng, a most delightful and experienced woman in the way of herbs and medicine.”
Lars gave Belrath a queried look, as if to say: You know townsfolk are not allowed in the Manor after dark and especially in our private quarters. He didn’t say a word though and remembered his manors. “Lady Belledhwain, it is a pleasure to meet you. I hope this does not seem rude, but you seem familiar to me. I wonder why?”
Belledhwain was no fool. She saw the look pass between the two men. Graciously she extended her hand. “Lord Oman, it has been many years since we last met. You were being crowned and I was being relieved.”
Lord Oman took her offered hand, brushed the top of it with his lips and smiled. Now he knew whom she was for on her finger was a ring of silver inset with a crest of a healer, hands in prayer.
He gently dropped to his knees. “My Lady, I had never thought I would ever have the opportunity to express my most sincere thanks for your loyal service to the armies of Sophronia and my father. Now, thanks to Belrath here I can and will do so.” He lowered his head for a moment and then rose. “Excuse us Lady Belledhwain but Belrath and I have some things to discuss in my study, private, if you understand.” He gave Belrath a nod of his head and motioned toward his door. “It will only take a small amount of time. In the meantime please make yourself comfortable. Belrath will be back as soon as he can. Again it has been a pleasure to meet and talk with you.”
Belrath cleared his throat. “Uh, yes, Belledhwain please make yourself comfortable. I shall return. I suggest reading these scrolls to help you catch up on new discoveries I have made concerning herbs and medicines.” He handed her a couple of the scrolls and preceded Lord Oman out of the room. Lars walked behind him gently closing the door. Belrath quickly turned around and held up his hand before Lars could say a word.
“Now, Lars, we have been friends for more years than I can count. So I already know what words you are going to say. So please don’t say them. I know it was wrong to bring Belledhwain here after dark, but she has consented to be my nurse and I wanted her to be more familiar with the new advances of medicines and herbs. I apologize. I guess I was not thinking.”
Lars stood there with his hands covering his face trying to hide the smile that was creeping upon it. Amused at the thought of Belrath actually having decided to have a partner, and a woman at that. Belrath who swore up and down he would remain a bachelor all of his life. Claiming all women did was ‘muddle up the works’. Belrath stood, rooted to the spot, hoping Lars would say something, anything at all would be better than just silence, he thought. Finally Lars could not control himself any longer. He laughed. “Belrath it is fine. I know you would not knowingly compromise the security of the Manor. Actually, though, I thought you were looking for Lorilie. I believe that is what I asked you to do, was it not?”
Belrath relaxed at the sound of the laugh and then proceeded to tell Lars all about what had happened. Lars listened closely. Then he asked, “Well, where did Lorilie go? And is the boy all right?”
“I am not sure,” answered Belrath. “The young boy needed more attention than she did at the moment. But if I am not mistaken I believe she headed back up the streets to your place. Maybe she is there already with Esmerelda. Belledhwain and I could go find out after we leave here. As far as the boy is concerned he is resting in his own home under the watchful eye of his mother. He only had a slight laceration on his head, probably caused when he fell on the stone. The skull is strong but the skin covering it bleeds awful when cut. He should be up and around in a day, two at the most.”
Lars thought a moment. “Did you perchance see Ruth?” he asked.
“No, Lars, I did not. I assume if she didn’t make it out before the gates closed she is staying with her friends in that boarding room in the older section of town. She will probably be around back to your place in the morning.”
“You are probably correct Belrath, as usual. Lorilie is with Esmerelda and Ruth is safe with her friends. Well, I suppose I have kept you from your lady friend long enough. Go and enjoy yourself. I would like for you to be here in the morning though. After I see what Lord Ma’asherom wants I need to talk with you. Oh, and by the way, Salina resigned and I have appointed Liothalla as Captain of the Guards.”
“Salina, resigned!” exclaimed Belrath. “I should have seen it coming after what Lorilie told us. She is going to try and fulfill her family vow I suppose. Am I correct?”
“Well, I pray that Armeros will guide her hand then. However, I have reservations about Liothalla as Captain of the Guards. But I am sure you know what you are doing. I must be off. Should Belledhwain and I check to see if Lorilie is with Esmerelda before we retire?”
“No, that is not necessary. I will be going home shortly after I think about a few things. If she is not there I will go look for her myself. I think we need to talk.”
“Oh, ok then, Lars. If you do need me I will be in the star tower. The night is clear and the stars are quite visible.”
“Stargazing is it? What a nice place to take a lady to.”
Belrath just coughed, stammered and shyly left the room leaving behind the laughter that followed him.
Ruth Oman retied her bodice back around her wincing a little as the rough cloth scraped against her freshly tattooed skin. The other ladies closed their robes. She was then led into the center of the room and bid to sit down. She sat obediently. Slowly one by one the candles were extinguished until only one remained lit. The one was held by the only woman who had not disclosed herself. She was still hidden behind her veil and cloak. Ruth did not understand why, but right now it did not matter. She was finally going to be told what she had been longing to hear for weeks now. Ever since she came here after the men in their village found Matthew’s horse wandering alone inside the village.
She recalled how scared she had been when Matthew left and had not returned. She felt so alone in that large farmhouse. She was thankful when the men of the village offered to help bring in the harvest and store it into the barn. Many tried to calm her fears by reassuring her how good a woodsman Matthew was and how Lorilie, though young, could take care of herself. For a while Ruth believed them.
Then the days stretched into weeks, and then Matthew’s horse was found. Harvest time was over and some of the men went to Sophronia to tell her father what had happened. He immediately came along with her brother Jace to help find Matthew. By this time she had lost all hope and her health failed her. Under advise by her father and Belrath she moved back into her father’s place but she couldn’t stay there. It did not seem like home anymore. Not after living so long at the Oman’s farm and then being Matthew’s wife. Then she remembered her life long friend, Calinor. She ran a boarding house in town, mostly for those who were of the town or village of Hawke’s Perch who needed a place to stay for a day or two. She did not like strangers and was more than willing to let the others board them, such as Naboth’s.
Calinor Uthur graciously accepted her into her home and gave her a place to stay. Calinor’s husband had passed away several years before and she was glad to have Ruth’s company. During the long hours of waiting Calinor asked many questions about Lorilie and Matthew. Ruth, glad to have company, complied by answering them as best as she could. Then came the day when Calinor invited her to a gathering of women. “Call it a woman’s night out if you wish,” she had told her. Ruth expected some sort of sewing or tea drinking time with the women and consented.
She was extremely surprised what she did find. At first it frightened her. Then she just accepted the knocking and scratching on the door. The password. The veiled faces in semi-lit darkened rooms. Mostly she accepted it because of her curiosity. She wanted to know what O’OSH meant. And why these women were so adamant about this society and its purpose. She was told an old prophecy handed down generations. A prophecy she did not believe in. Just an old wives tale, she thought. Then Lorilie was found and she was so happy until Lorilie told her what had happened. Then she thought of the prophecy that was told her and she realized that Lorilie was the one prophesied about. She lost control and tried to kill Lorilie herself not wanting to believe that Lorilie would want this bastard child. And somehow fulfill this prophecy. But she was stopped. By her own father and mother! She was stunned. So she returned to these women ready now to accept any task given her, forsaken by her own family she accepted these women as hers.
A knock was heard at the outer door. Two women left the inner room and came back with a third one. She was still veiled and cloaked. She stood off to the side of the room as the other veiled woman began to speak in a low melodious voice.
“When our tribe was young and strong. When it had no weakness. When it was ruled over by a woman, not a man, as it should be and one day will be again.” She was interrupted to murmurs of agreement among the women in the room. She waited until they stopped, then continued. Kairos, the leader of our tribe went into the Thaelon Forest. On that fateful day she met an elven queen, the the High Avá’ránn, who gave her this prophecy:
Out of the god’s hate,
Choose they will eight.
Fear and distrust will be their delight,
As the children prepare to fight.
Fury shall pour forth upon the lands,
Yet in the end only one shall stand.
A maiden out of Sophronia’s band,
A maiden taken without her hand,
She shall give birth to a demon seed
When all these things come to be,
Prepare yourselves to once what you were.
When all these things come to pass,
Then strike down the babe and the lass.
For if you do not then plan to be,
The servant of darkness as is he.
For he is the one destined to stand
And rule over all the land.”
Silence filled the room as each one thought of the prophecy and its message of doom. Cryella waited a little longer. Of course with Lord Ma’asherom’s help she did change the prophecy some and did not finish it. She didn’t think any of these silly women here would know of the prophecy anyway. They were just disgruntled women who wanted the glory days back. She did notice the new comer and sidled next to her. She whispered, “Cousin, why are you late?”
Liothalla whispered back. “I have just been given command of the Captain of the Guards. Just like you predicted Cryella.”
“Then things are proceeding as they were meant to be. Now that the brat’s mother is one of ours, that babe will never be born and Lord Ma’asherom will be made emperor of the lands. You, dear cousin will be made Queen of Sophronia. That is his promise to you.”
Story written by Capher