THE WIZARD OF THE WHITE TOWER
by CAPHER


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.
 

CHAPTER VIII
T
HY'RON THE ELF

alina Rainven Venier rode quickly the two leagues to Hawke’s Perch, her raven hair flowing freely over the hood and shoulders of her red riding cloak. Her tawny-golden eyes pierced through the night helped by the Moonmoss’s glow planted by either side of the road. When she reached the outskirts of the small farming community she slowed Amethyst down to a walk and quietly went through the town. The stores and few homes in the town proper were already closed and locked for the night. Salina saw candlelight from some of the windows of the one story, wooden structures. The light giving off a warm glow and the shadows within the homes gave a feeling of peace and security.
 
It was nothing like the uneasiness and pressure of Sophronia, yet Salina thrived on the pressures, decisions and the general hustle and bustle of the Capitol, though there were times, like this one, when she thought about what it would feel like just to be settled down in a nice home with husband and children around. She shook off the melancholic mood knowing full well that her path led in a different direction, a direction that would lead to what? She did not know and continued down the street. Farther into the middle of the town she could hear laughter and music drifting on the evening air. She led Amethyst past an inn, a wooden sign creaked in the wind, and it read “The Golden Hawke”.

The inn was brightly lit both inside and out with oil lamps and Salina could see shadows of figures dancing along with the hearty laughs of the farmers and guests within. She thought about going in and having a drink but changed her mind. She did not want to field all of the questions she was sure that would be asked. The guards of the Daphnians would not cause so much as a stir as they were the ones who guarded and patrolled this area but a Tammarian and the Captain of the Guards surely would.

She continued through the street and out of the town. About a half-league later she came to the dirt road that led west to the Hawke’s farm. She thought of the first time she rode down this path and met Matthew Hawke. It was at the wedding. She was nine years old and to a girl who had just lost her parents three years previously. The wedding was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. It took place in the summer and was performed outside; the fragrance of the many flowers, singing of the birds, sun shining brightly, though not as bright as Princess Ruth in her Sophronian multi-colored gown and Salina who wore a copy, though much smaller, as the flower girl was awed at the sights and sounds that surrounded her. Then she saw Matthew. Matthew stood a half head taller than his best man, Lauran his brother, who at least was two peds if not more. His dark brown hair fell neatly around his neck and his eyes were deep set and blue like a cloudless summer sky. His broad shoulders barely fit into his russet colored jacket. He walked and moved liked an animal, full of grace and power. The same grace and power that Lorilie exuded when Salina first started to train her in the Sophronian form of hand- to- hand combat, Jakatya, when Lorilie turned five years of age. It was the normal age for girls to start their training, however Lorilie exceeded her class and Salina suspected it was because of the Hawke bloodline, the really true bloodline of the Sophronians.
 
Matthew should have been the Lord of the Manor but like his predecessors was willing to let the other half of the family have the glory and prestige of being the Royals of the kingdom of Serpheloria. Matthew was content with the land and farming it. He had no aspirations other than to have a wife, children, and grandchildren and live to an old age loving them and the land he lived in. Salina sadly shook her head as she thought of these things. How fate changes a person’s dreams and desires, she said to herself as she continued along the dirt road.
 
She was silent and contemplative as she rode and thought of how fate had changed her life. In one swift moment she went to being the Captain of the Guards to a hunter of a dark and evil elf. She went from being one of the leaders of Sophronia to an instrument of justice for her family, not hers only, but also for the Hawke and Oman families as well. Though she did not care too much for Princess Ruth, she absolutely adored and treated Lorilie like her little sister and honored Matthew Hawke as far as Lord Oman was concerned - he was like a father to her. Salina’s father and mother both died when she had been very young. Lord Oman and Esmeralda took her in and raised her as their own, along with Ruth and Jace. This caused much jealousy between Princess Ruth and Salina, so Princess Ruth renounced her title, left the Capitol and lived on her family’s farm in Hawke’s Perch until she met Matthew and became his wife.
 
Salina came upon the Hawke’s farm suddenly. The russet colored barn was dark and no life could be heard coming from within it. The other farmers at the request of Ruth had taken all of the animals and put them in their own farms to take care of until either Matthew returned or Ruth sold them. Salina looked over to her right and saw the Hawke’s homestead. The large one story wooden home was dark and void of life as was the barn. Salina sat on Amethyst and imagined what it must have looked like when there had been life in that home. She recalled stories that Lorilie used to tell her how she would sit at her fathers feet and tell him how she had beaten another opponent, usually a boy from her town, and how he would smile and continue whittling on a piece of Eur’Oak. How her mother would show her how to make Medlarapple jam and the times they had talking and laughing, as they would make Matthew his dinner. Thinking about it now Salina had to admit that Princess Ruth became a much nicer person after she married Matthew. Now the darkness just reminded Salina of the despair and pain that she had seen in Princess Ruth and Lorilie's eyes.

Salina knew that just up the hill from the farmhouse was the edge of the Zeiphyrian forest. She could continue on in the dark but decided to camp out on the ground between the Hawke’s home and their barn. She would get a fresh start in the morning. She got down off of Amethyst, loosed her saddle, took it off and let Amethyst graze on the long Alth’ho grass. She quickly found some twigs and after securing a place to start a fire, started one. Soon she was sitting next to a warm blaze of flame as water was being heated over it. She threw in some herbs and spices and set back and watched the soup simmer. Out of her pack she took some hard beef sticks and slowly chewed on them. She sat thoughtfully staring into the fire thinking about what she was going to do. Some of her plans she had made on the run as she had packed and left Sophronia. But now she had to think about where and what she was going to do next. She briefly thought of the dilemma she had left Lord Oman at her quick departure but dismissed it. He is in good hands with Gabriel; though she is young, she is smart and well trained. She began planning on what she was going to do next and ate in silence making her plans, favoring some ideas over others; finally she laid herself down and fell asleep under the stars.

The following morning she arose before the break of dawn, made a quick breakfast of tea, some dark bread and beef sticks, dowsed the fire, saddled Amethyst and headed behind and up the hill toward the forest. Her plan was simple: find and track Prince Jace and the others who went with him to find Matthew. She found the trail through the woods that led to the meadow. Her trained eyes quickly found several tracks; some fresher than others and ones a lot older yet readable to one who was trained like Salina. In her mind’s eye as she read the older tracks she could almost envision Lorilie’s abduction, having Lorilie’s story still fresh in her mind helped, for some of those tracks were covered and smeared by the fresher ones of the searchers and the animals that had come to the brook to drink.

She took her water bottles and filled them as she continued to think about what Lorilie must have gone through. Her anger mounted as the retelling of the abduction swirled in her head and looking at the tracks helped even more to bring the horror of the abduction to life. She quickly mounted Amethyst and found Matthew’s tracks. Prince Jace and the others had found the same tracks and were following them. They headed northwest. She urged Amethyst on into the forest, pulling her cloak closer to her so it would not catch on the branches and for warmth. The weather was finally catching up to the season. It was becoming much colder, and in the darkness of the forest, though the sun shone brightly, it seemed much colder than it really was, besides Salina could almost swear she was being watched. Every once in a while she would quickly turn around to see if she was being followed, but she did not see anyone.

The first day was uneventful as she followed the obvious tracks of both Matthew and those searching for him. Matthew must have known others would come and look for him if he did not return so he made it easy for them to track him; a deeper footprint so it would last, a broken twig bent in the direction he was going, burnt out fire pits, all signs for even a novice tracker to follow him. Salina was no novice and neither was Prince Jace. Nightfall found her deep into the forest. She stopped at one of the burned out fire pits and made camp. A quick supper, some rudimentary safe guards around the camp such as a line of twine encompassing the area low to the ground that had hollow wooden like sticks tied to it that would rattle if anyone or thing stepped on it or broke it. The sound would give her enough warning for she was a light sleeper. Finally after putting more wood on the fire she crawled into her makeshift cover of interlaced twigs and leaves, camouflaging her and fell asleep.

Closer to her than she even suspected a pair of hooded eyes watched. When Salina finally crawled under her camouflaged covering the elf walked away a few hundred yards from where she lay, climbed a tree and sat there watching her camp. The elf sat in a nook of the tree thinking and making arrows. The knife in the elf’s hand slowly scraping away the bark, every once in a while the elf would stop and run fingers and hands over the shaft to assure that the shaft was smooth and straight. Through out the night the elf sat in the nook of the tree and watched. In the morning the elf knew another of his kind would come along and take over watching this human female. Thy’ron had given explicit instructions just to watch the human female. In the past few months’ strangers had come, most had died, but one was living, barely, and Thy’ron wanted to know why.

The days turned into weeks and still Salina had not found anything. The path now led her farther west than north and deeper into the middle of the forest. Many times she had to get off Amethyst and walk through the heavy underbrush, cutting it away with her sword. The tracks had become increasingly more difficult to find as the deeper she went, even doubling back on their selves hindering her search. She could sense the frustration of Prince Jace as he followed these tracks, they seemed to go nowhere, but she knew they were leading them farther and farther into the middle of the forest. Only an expert tracker could have followed Saban through these woods and luckily they had Matthew’s tracks to follow otherwise they would soon have become lost and mired in the seemingly endless double tracking path that Saban had created. The weather also hindered her as well as snow had begun to fall covering the ground making the tracking even more difficult. Her pace had slowed down to a crawl and the bitter cold along with the dismal gray of the skies sapped her spirit. She began to despair, wondering if she would ever find Matthew or Prince Jace, not counting Saban. Her food had run out, but her hunting skills helped her kill a rabbit now and then, but even they were becoming scarcer as the farther and deeper into the woods she went.

Suddenly she stopped. Drew her sword and began to peer into the forest. She slowly scanned every tree and bush in front of her, her head barely moving. Then she turned slowly to her left searching the surrounding area carefully as she made a complete circle. She stopped when she faced forward again. She knelt down cautiously so as not to disturb the prints. She scrutinized the prints, taking out some twigs that had fallen in the middle of the closest print to her and put her hand down to take a measure of how large the print was. It looked liked a wolf’s print but it was much larger than any wolf print she had ever seen and what really puzzled her were the prints that were besides them. She had never seen such prints.

Quickly her mind raced through all of the animal tracks she knew or had seen and none had matched at what she was staring at now. The other prints were not animal, but not human either, at least not any human she had ever seen. She thought of the only other race she knew of and these were not made by an elf. She began to carefully follow the prints. Then the human like prints vanished and the wolf like prints sunk deeper into the snow as if it suddenly became heavier than normal. Salina wondered if the strange beast was used as a beast of burden or did those who had made those human like footprints ride them.

She was so absorbed in tracking these strange prints that she completely forgot why she was there until she saw something that made her skin crawl and she had to cover her mouth to stifle the scream that wanted so desperately to explode out of her mouth. On an open piece of ground lay pieces of cloth, bone, bloodied skin torn asunder and skulls. What almost made her scream was the piece of emerald green cloth hanging from the creatures jaw and the figure that rode upon it. The creature had been so engrossed in its eating it had not heard Salina come up upon it. It looked like a wolf, but it had what looked liked a rat’s nose and very sharp protruding teeth coming from a mouth that was attached to an overly large head. The cloth had the insignia of the royal household of Oman. It was Prince Jace’s.

The figure that rode it was sitting on it with its back to her. It was not that tall, but had a short though powerfully built torso, the arms were long and hung almost down past the creature’s belly that it rode upon. In one hand it carried what seemed like a huge hammer. It had a greenish tint to its skin and half of its hair was shaved off of its head. Salina froze. She used her eyes to search the surrounding area wondering where the rest of these creatures were. She had been tracking at least six and now there was just this one. She did not see any more of these hideous creatures.

She slowly began to pull her bow out of its resting place on Amethysts right side. Slowly, ever so slowly, as she tried to keep her breakfast down into her stomach as she watched the animal continue to gnaw on the human femur bone, she found an arrow and notched it to the bowstring. She began to draw back the arrow when all of a sudden the figure turned its head and stared right at her. Its eyes were blood red and it was tattooed all over its face and blood ran down its chin. It smiled at her and she almost lost her breakfast this time as she saw human skin hanging from its sharpened teeth. It let out a loud howl and at that instant the animal stopped eating and looked her way also. Then it charged.

The quickness of the charge threw Salina’s aim off and the arrow buried its self deep into the chest of the animal instead of the figure that rode it. The animal let out a yelp, fell and spilled its rider to the ground. Salina drew her sword and Amethyst needing no encouragement charged forward. Salina took careful aim and swung her sword at the figure’s head, but he was too quick. He ducked as the blade went whistling over his head. She turned Amethyst in a tight circle and charged again, the figure dove and grabbed its hammer like weapon and swung it at her as she swung her sword. There was a heavy thud as her sword sunk deep into the head of the wooden hammer. The blow along with Amethyst’s forward momentum threw her off of the saddle and tore loose her grip on her sword. She fell heavily on her back, the breath almost knocked out of her. The figure tried to pry her sword out of its weapon but it was buried too deep. With a roar of anger he threw the weapon away and advanced on Salina who was prone on her back still trying to catch her breath. He came closer.

Suddenly he felt two thuds upon his chest and then sharp pain. He looked down and saw two ivory handles protruding from out of the area where his heart was. He looked stupidly first at Salina then back at the two knives that had appeared out of nowhere and had sunk deep into his heart. He began to stumble forward determined to kill this human female when he felt two more thuds, the last one just barely registered as the knife pierced his skull and drove into the brain right above his nose. Its last thoughts were as it plummeted to the ground was: Where did the knives come from?

Salina rose from off the ground, took a deep breath, it hurt. She grabbed her left side and with each painful step walked over to her fallen foe. Slowly, methodically, she pulled out each one of her knives wiping their blades off on her dead foe’s clothes. When she was finally done and the knives were back in their hidden places only then did she allow her emotions to come to the surface. She stood up, fists clenched, tears welling up in her eyes as she walked back to the dead animal and tore the piece of green cloth from out of its teeth. She held the cloth closely to her bosom and the tears flowed more freely down her cheeks this time. Though she had never told him, she loved Jace and now, as she clutched onto the cloth, she never would be able to tell him.

A few hundred yards away up in a tree a female elf loosened her bow and replaced her arrow in its quiver. She shook her head in amazement. She thought for sure that the human female was going to die at the hands of that orc but she surprised him and her when those knives came out of their hidden places and were thrown with such accuracy that not even an elf could have done much better. At least she now knew what and who had attacked, killed the humans and left one seriously injured who probably would have died as well if he had not been found by a passing patrol. The best elven healer in Elving had worked on his wounds for weeks and still he was seriously hurt. Thy’ron would definitely want to know.

The elf looked into the sky and determined that it would not be long before the Injèrá would set and her replacement would come and take her place. She continued to watch the human female as she picked up the bones and skulls of the fallen, dug a hole in the frozen ground and buried them. She acted like she was hurt and the elf desperately wanted to go down and help her but her orders were just to watch and not interfere unless it was under the most dire of circumstances. The elf thought that as soon as Thy’ron was told what she knew that he would send out a patrol and retrieve the human female. But in the meantime she was on her own.

The elven archer was breathless when she burst into the camp. Thy’ron and a dozen other elves were sitting around the campfire warming themselves. The gently falling snow that had started to fall a few days ago was turning into a snowstorm by now. The fire spit and hissed as the snow fell into its flames. Thy’ron had picked his best archers and had set out from Elving and was heading toward the human female. When he had first heard of the description of the woman by those who watch the woods from his tribe, he thought that it could have been someone he met only once - her name was Salina and she had come with Belrath and Lord Oman of the human tribe of the Sophronians. Now as he listened to the archer’s report of the fight between the human female and an orc, he was certain it was Salina.

He sat there staring into the fire. Orcs here, he thought. Where did they come from? How did they get here? There were only two tribes of orcs that Thy’ron knew about; the Ashz-oc and the Losh-oc and from the description of the orc it was a Losh-oc. They were one of the bloodthirstiness tribes of orcs ever to live upon this land. They lived in the hills of Oro north of the Tandala Mountains, but how and why they were here so far south, in the Zeiphyrian, was something he was going to find out. He wondered if all this could be the result of the visit of Saban to their forest. He had tried to warn the council. He had tried to give them advice. But they would not listen. They preferred to stay neutral and not interfere with Saban’s plans for rebuilding Fá’áv’cál’âr in the Paelelon. Now, just a few months later, northwestern elven patrols are missing or dead and injured humans are found in their beloved forest. At first light they would head out.

Daylight found Salina in a foul mood. She had not slept well the previous night and after probing her left side she determined she probably had a couple of cracked, if not broken, ribs caused by her fight and fall with that strange creature. At least this wolf-like creature provided her with some food. She had skinned the wolven, as she named it, for no other reason than to give it a name, and was slowly roasting it upon a spit over a large fire. It had snowed real heavy and finding wood that was dry enough to burn turned out to be a challenge. But after a little searching she had found spots under canopies of brush that not even the snow could penetrate that had snapped, broken twigs and limbs that were dry enough to burn.

Earlier, before she started to cook the wolven and the fire was nice and hot, she cut a half dozen strips about an handbreadths wide from a spare traveling cloak she took from the pack on Amethyst’s saddle, stripped to her waist and wrapped them tightly around her waist and ribs. She then quickly got dressed, put the meat on a spit and began to cook it. She had taken out the piece of green cloth that she had taken from the wolven’s mouth yesterday and sat there staring at it. Her anger smoldered like a small lake of lava just underneath her surface. “I swear by my families and yours, Jace, that I will avenge your death!” Salina cried out loud.
“And who will avenge yours?” a voice snarled behind her.

Faster than the man could comprehend Salina drew her sword that she had labored half the night to sharpen after she had finally freed it from its prison in the wooden hammer, stood and turned on the balls of her feet, wincing in pain but not showing it, and faced the voice, her sword at the ready.

Her opponent was a man and from his appearance looked liked he was from one of the clans of the Eyelian kingdom. He had straight dark brown hair that fell down across his shoulders. His dark brown eyes were small and beady looking. He too was riding atop on one of those creatures Salina had called a wolven. The man wore hardly anything except a light woolen brown traveling cloak and some thin brown breeches. A spear held in his left hand was pointed towards the sky. Teeth formed perfectly and as white as the snow peeked out from a wicked smile. “No, I would not do that if I were you. Look around,” he said as if reading her thoughts.

Salina slowly turned her head, but kept her sword facing forward and at the ready. Her sword dipped a little as she realized several of the creatures and beasts of the ones she had killed the other day suddenly surrounded her. The creatures stared at her hungrily with their blood red eyes. They grunted and growled while their sharpened teeth clashed against one and another. She turned her head back and faced the man in front of her. Softly she said, “I will probably die this day, but I promise you that you will die and most of your hideous friends with you.” She rushed forward, tucked herself into a ball and rolled on the ground just as the spear was thrown nicking her slightly on her left shoulder. She thrust her sword up and into the wolven’s throat. Pulling the sword out she rolled to her right as the beast fell throwing its rider. Quickly she stood up and parried a heavy saber carried by a charging creature, the wolven it was riding on snarling and tearing cloth and flesh from her side as it passed her. One of her knives found its way in the middle of the creature’s back. The beast bellowed and fell off the wolven.

Whirling around Salina parried another charging creature, metal upon metal clanged as their swords met each other. She fought, trying to desperately kill this beast and stay away from the snapping jaws of the wolven it was riding on. In a movement that surprised her the creature leaped off the wolven and jumped on her, he parried her thrust and his weight brought her down. She landed heavily upon her back, her breath and a yell of anger and pain exploded out of her mouth as she felt more ribs crack. But she wasn’t dead yet. She hit the creature on the side of its face with the pommel of her sword repeatedly until it was a mass of green skin and red blood. She pushed off the unconscious creature of herself and as fast as her cracked ribs would allow stood up, darkness started to envelope her as the pain was excruciating. She slowly fell upon one knee, her sword still facing forward but shakily as she tried to gain strength and focus.

Now all of the creatures and their rides advanced upon her as the man she had toppled stood there and watched, that wicked smile crossing over his face. Suddenly there was a whistle like sound and the wicked smile turned into a sickly smile as the face looked down at the arrowhead protruding from his chest. More arrows filled the sky, found and struck their targets. The creatures howled and looked around to see their attackers but they could not see anyone. Salina watched as the last one was killed. A tall figure dressed in green walking towards her was the last thing she saw as the pain and blackness finally overcame her resolve and she fell into oblivion.

Story written by Capher View Profile