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 IX
E
LVING

alina moaned as the litter that bore her jarred and shook as it was carried along by the elves. She opened her eyes, above her were gray skies and falling snow. She tried to shift her position but discovered she was tied down.
 
“Settle down, my lady. My elves are having enough trouble carrying you through this snow without you adding to their burden by moving around.”

Elves?, thought Salina. She remembered the fight with the strange creatures and then recalled the figure in green that had walked up to her before she passed out. She twisted her head to the right and the figure in green was walking beside her. He was tall, slender and wore a green cloak. That is all she could see of him except his breath, which came out of the hooded head in small short puffs of iced air. “Who are you?” she asked.

“My name is Thy’ron, though I have never met you personally, my lady, by the description given to me by Lord Oman and Belrath you must be… Salina. You are the Captain of the Guards of Sophronia. Am I correct?” he asked.

“Was,” mumbled Salina.

“What was that my lady? I did not hear you.”

“I said: was. I do remember you. You and us have had a long relationship. Ever since Etain Hawke established contact with your kind over 350 years ago. In his memoirs he mentions meeting an elf named Thy’ron and a wondrous place called Elving, your capitol, and ever since then whenever a new Lord of the Manor takes over, he comes and renews the trade and friendship agreement made back then. But surely you are not…”

“Yes, my lady, I am. Elves have a much longer life span than those born from out of Water; we were born by the Wind and are the First Children of Avá the Dreamer. What did you mean by ‘was’? Are you not the Captain of the Guards any longer?” he inquired.

Salina lay silent. Should she trust him? He is an elf after all and if I tell him I have come to kill one of his kind what would his reaction be? How much does he know? She recalled how much Belrath and Lord Oman trusted the elf they called Thy’ron. How he was wise, and very knowledgeable. But still: Should she trust him with the entire truth? No, I will tell him most, but not all, she thought.

“I resigned to pursue a personal matter. A young girl was kidnapped and raped in these forests, she was found by Lord Oman several weeks later. Her father had gone out looking for her, but he never returned. Lord Oman’s son, Prince Jace, and four others went looking for him and they too have not returned. I took it upon myself to see if I could find out where and what had happened. I was following their trail when I came upon that creature riding that wolven.”

“Wolven?” asked Thy’ron. He thought a moment. “Ah, my lady Salina, you mean wargs!”

“Wargs? I have never heard of an animal called a warg.”

“They are a special breed of animal, created by magic and using wolves as their design.”

“Created by whom? And what were those creatures that rode them? I have never seen such creatures either.”

“Whom? I do not know. But ones born out of fire ride them. We call them Caoía’Eferís, Children of the Flame. But humans often call them orcs. These orcs are especially vicious - they are the Losh-oc.”

“I have never heard of orcs or the Losh-oc. How and what are they doing here? Could they have…?” Salina held back the tears that had started to come unbidden as she thought of Jace and his insignia she had torn out of the dead wargs mouth.

The silence was deafening as Thy’ron walked along and thought of all that this young lady had told him. Many questions needed to be asked but now was not the time. The lady needed rest and healing. “My lady, you are weary and hurt. We shall talk again when you are well. I am going to give you something to drink. It will be warm and may taste sweet but it will do nothing but allow you to sleep and become well. Is that all right with you?” he asked.

At first Salina objected but then she nodded yes. Thy’ron pulled out a flask and put it to her lips. Salina was just about to drink when she asked. “Where is Amethyst, my horse? And where is my bow and sword?”

“A warrior to the last I see,” replied Thy’ron. “Your horse is being led by one of my elves. The underbrush here will not allow us to ride, so all of our horses are being led. That is why my people are carrying you instead of you being dragged behind a horse. Your sword and bow are also being taken care of by my people. You need not worry. They will be returned to you as soon as you are able to use them once again, and I expect they may even have a few surprises in them.
“Surprises?”

“We shall talk later. Now drink this.”

Salina looked at Thy’ron quizzically, sighed and took a couple of sips of the liquid. It was sweet and it warmed her throat and stomach as it went down. Thy’ron urged her to drink more. She drank from the flask a few more times then lay back her head upon the pillow of cloth underneath her head. She stared up at the falling snow. Soon she could not keep her eyes open and in moments was fast asleep.

After Salina fell into a deep sleep Thy’ron walked beside her, lost in his own thoughts. The proof he carried along with this lady’s story should be enough to convince the council. From out of his belt he took the green cloth that they had found clutched in Salina’s hand. Even close to death she had not let go of this cloth. He looked at the insignia and recalled what she had said about Lord Oman’s son going off to find the father of the young girl who had been abducted and raped in their forests.

The man that had lain close to death and was now being healed by the healers in Elving wore the same color clothes as this cloth and his sword had the same insignia engraved in its pommel. There was no doubt in Thy’ron’s mind. That man was Lord Oman’s son, Prince Jace. The others Salina had mentioned were never found. Only Seyella could have saved Prince Jace herself. For only the Goddess of Destiny would have led the elven patrol that way on that particular day and protected him from the wild animals once he had lost his ability to fight. Why there were no other bodies found had puzzled Thy’ron when he first heard of it but now that he knew who the foes were he knew why. Orcs never leave their own on the battlefield.

His anger mounted and he snapped in two a twig he had been toying with as he walked. “Fools!” he muttered under his breath. Only fools who cowered behind diplomacy and words of neutrality would not approve the plan he had proposed months ago when they had found the first body. Now they will have to approve of it. I did not have the proof I needed then, but I do now!

It had been argued that the first body found was not killed by beasts but by arrows. Thy’ron argued that the arrows could have only come from Saban and his men for only Saban and his kind carried black arrows. But the council did not want to hear; instead they listened to the serpent tongue of Rahaz and to involve themselves in what was seemingly a human conflict was of no concern to the council. Even when Thy’ron brought up the question why Saban did kill this human it was glossed over by Rahaz, claiming it was Saban’s affair but since Saban was already gone by the time they found the body he could not be asked. Thy’ron even argued that the council should at least look at the face of the dead man. He thought there was something familiar about him, but he could not convince them. Rahaz once again had won.

They made camp a few hours later. Salina, under the influence of the drink Thy’ron had given her, slept through the night. Thy’ron stared thoughtfully at the fire as he slowly munched his meal. He needed to know many things that he hoped Salina knew the answers to: Who was the girl that was supposedly abducted and raped? Did Salina know who did the abduction and rape? Who was the father of the girl?

Again he tried to remember where he had seen that face before. The body had been pretty torn up by wild animals by the time the elven guards had found him. They had carried the body back to Elving, where Thy’ron had first seen it. After much discussion it was decided that since the body was obviously killed by Saban, for the black arrows of his making were still found in the man’s back, though some of the shafts had been broken by the wild animals that had feasted on the dead body, they burned it on top of a bed of trees and limbs. Some thought, like Rahaz, that that was sacrilege, but Thy’ron won that argument.

Other questions came into his mind also, like, who had created the wargs? Why and what were orcs doing this far south? Obviously they were living amongst the tribe of humans that lived in the lands north and west of their beloved forest. Or were they? It was a possibility that the humans did not even know that they were there. Then he shook his head no. No, they knew they were there, for it was a human that seemed to have been leading the pack that had attacked Salina. That created even more questions in Thy’ron’s mind but there were no answers. Answers he had to find out. The elves had very few contact with those humans except when one or more of them were followed as they would enter the forest foraging for food or as the elves finally figured out, talk to the animals that roamed the lands.

Other questions bothered him also: Why would a Prince of the realm be sent to look for a seemingly insignificant man and his daughter? Would not one of the Sophronian guard patrols be sent on such a trivial task? And last but not least, why would the Captain of the Guards resign her post just to follow and find this man, daughter and Prince Jace. I suppose I could see why Lord Oman would send his Captain after his son, but why resign? To me it would seem like one of the duties of the Captain of the Guards. There were too many questions and not enough answers. As the night went on Thy’ron came to some conclusions. Some of those conclusions alarmed him, even frightened him, and he was not one to be frightened easily but those conclusions were based on conjecture and not fact. He needed facts if he was to convince the council and the Ránn, the leader of their tribe, to become involved. Some of those facts would come from Prince Jace and Salina. The dilemma Thy’ron faced was: How was he going to allow them to be heard by the council? No human, for that matter, no other race was allowed into the council’s deliberations. They needed to hear Salina and Prince Jace’s stories. Besides the law of the council he would also have to overcome the serpents tongue of Rahaz, who seemed to have the ear of the Ránn more and more lately.
The following morning they broke camp and once again began their trek home.

The snow had tapered off during the night but as the day grew on it became thicker and the wind began to blow harder. The elves bearing the litter upon which Salina lied upon stumbled and almost dropped her. If it had not been for Thy’ron helping and their own strength, though weakened by trying to walk through knee high drifts they would have surely dumped her into the snow. Thankfully she was just barely aware of what was going on. The drugged drink that Thy’ron had given her and had asked her to take again before they broke camp left her in a languid state of consciousness. She could feel the litter tilt and sway, the bitter cold of the wind and snow lashing at her unprotected face at times but then she would drift back off to sleep. Once she awoke and felt a cloth covering her face and head only her nose and mouth were uncovered. She mumbled something but completely forgot what she had said. Thy’ron just smiled, patted her covered hand and walked silently besides her using his hands to help steady the litter every now and then. Finally there was shout from one of the leading elves. Elving’s entrance way could be seen. A sigh of relief went through the elven troop, even Thy’ron was glad to be home soon though he knew now the hardest part of this journey was just going to begin.
 
To any other the entrance way to Elving, the Capitol of the Zeiphyrian forest elves, were two crossed trees in the shape of an X, surrounded by more trees, underbrush and leaf strewn ground during the spring, summer and fall months and snow covered during the winter months. But if you said certain elvish words as you went beneath the crossed trees you would take one step from reality and your next step would be as if you were in a dream, at least that is what it seemed like to Salina. She awoke when she heard the elven shout and opened her eyes. The snow was coming down fast and furious and the skies were a dark steel gray. She turned her head as she heard Thy’ron speak in a tongue foreign to her, looked up at the dark shadows of the crossed trees highlighted by the white falling snow. And then in an instant they were gone, replaced by a starry night and a soft warm breeze gently wafting through green covered boughs and limbs of trees.

Salina blinked. Once, twice and shook her head. She could not believe what she was seeing. She turned and looked into the smiling face of Thy’ron. He had taken down the hood of his cloak and Salina finally observed her rescuer. His shoulder length white hair was braided in several places and then tied back. He had white eyebrows with just a hint of crinkle around his gray eyes. A small dimple in the middle of his chin accentuated a warm smile filled with perfect white teeth. He laughed at her puzzlement. “Here, my lady, let me take this off of you.” He gently loosened the cloth around her head and removed it shaking off melting ice and snow.

“Where are we?” Salina asked somewhat dumbfounded.

“This, my lady, is Elving,” replied Thy’ron. His voice somehow seemed more melodious than before.
Thy’ron motioned to the elves that carried her to let her down. They gladly and willingly obeyed. Salina looked at the lithe figures; a myriad of green, gray and deep blue eyes of the elves and watched and felt their hands untie the ropes that had held her and the now very warm blankets were taken off, and then Thy’ron offered her his hand. She held hers out and was gently but firmly pulled up. She swayed a little as her body became used to being in an upright position again. Thy’ron held her until she regained her balance. She took a deep breath and winced a little at the sharp pain that accompanied it though she tried not to show it. But Thy’ron saw. “My lady you are still hurt. I think I should get you to your room and have one of our healers have a look at you.”

He put his hand behind her and guiding her with pressure upon her lower back led her up a maze of stairs to the upper level of the city. She looked down and saw elongated buildings built side by side lighted by a light source she did not know. The stairway was also lighted by the same source. The source came from some sort of an insect inside a square transparent box, it gave off a soft golden glow and made a soothing sound, like a purr of a cat, when Salina came near it. She questioned Thy’ron with her eyes.

“They are called ‘Quilly’Efers’ in my language. To you it would mean ‘dancing fire’,” he replied.

“What are the buildings below us used for?” she asked.

“They are used mostly to house the military when needed but they are empty now except for the few guards who are stationed there, the stables, where your horse will be taken and looked after and also a temporary place for the elven patrols to sleep. It is up here in the trees where we dwell.

Salina slowly turned around, awed by the beauty and symmetry of the place; buildings that were built right into the trees, stairways that crisscrossed every which way, the lights… - and she could even hear music… “What…? What happened to the snow and the storm?” she finally asked.

“It is still out there,” replied Thy’ron, stretching forth his arm pointing out into the darkness. “A bubble of magic hides Elving from the natural world. Here we are safe from the storms of life. It is here in Elving that we regenerate our cár’állía, so we can go out refreshed and renewed into the natural world. Without Elving and her regenerative powers we would soon cease to exist.”

“Cár’allía?” Salina asked.

“You humans might call it ‘life fore’, I guess,” Thy’ron answered.

Salina nodded, then protested. “But this is not the Elving Belrath and Lord Oman told me about!They described a city much like our own. They never mentioned anything like this! Though I recall reading something like this place in the memoirs of Etain Hawke.”

“Ah yes, my lady, only three humans have ever seen the real Elving. The Elving at which Belrath and your Lord Oman described to you and which I do my business from is not the real one but an illusion used by me and my kind to interact with others, like your kind. It is real enough but it is not Elving.”

Salina’s head swam trying to think through the cryptic allusions Thy’ron had just told her. Something jarred her memory. “You said three. Etain was one, I am the other, who is the third?” she asked.

Thy’ron paused a moment before he answered. “A young man was found by one of our patrols, quite near where you were attacked. We did not know who he was. He could not speak as he was close to death. His cár’áll was almost completely gone by the time they carried him here. Our best healers have been working on him for a long time. He is just now beginning to show signs that his cár’áll is growing stronger, yet he is still unconscious. Maybe you will be able to tell us who he is? “ Thy’ron thought he had already guessed who the young man was, but he wanted, needed to be sure if his plan was going to work.

Salina took in a sharp breath as she heard Thy’ron speak. Could it be Jace?, she thought. Or one of the farmers that was with him? Her hands unconsciously went to her belt… - The cloth! It was missing. She looked at Thy’ron and almost screamed. “The cloth! I had a green cloth with an insignia on it with me before the attack. Do you know where it is?” She asked excitedly.

Thy’ron pulled the precious piece of cloth out from his belt and handed it to her. “Even as close to death as you were my lady you would not let go of this piece of cloth until you were unconscious then, and only then, did it drop to the ground. I am curious as to why a piece of green cloth would mean so much to you?”

Salina shyly looked into Thy’ron’s eyes and almost swore he could read her thoughts. “The cloth was worn by my Lord’s son, Prince Jace. I needed that cloth to prove to my Lord that indeed his son had either been killed or taken prisoner. This cloth would not have been easily taken as it is sewn over the heart of the one who wears it. See this insignia, it is the coat of arms of Sophronia. That is why that piece of cloth is so important to me.”

“I see,” said Thy’ron but he did not believe her. There was something else. Something in her manner and eyes that told Thy’ron that she was not telling the whole truth. He would know soon enough what that truth was. Why did I not recognize the insignia when I first saw it? I know the coat of arms of Sophronia, he pondered. He wanted to take another look at the cloth, but Salina had already tucked it away back into her belt. Salina took another deep breath and almost doubled over in pain. “Ooh,” she whispered.

“I believe we have talked enough, my lady. It is time for you to go to the room prepared for you and to be seen by one of our healers. Come let us go.” He gently led her across the wooden walkway and stopped at a door that was inset inside of a large Eur’Oak tree. He opened it. Quilly’Efers were on each corner of the roof of the room. A bed and a small table with a couple of chairs were the only furniture in the room. He led her to the bed. “Please, my lady, lay here. Shortly a healer will come, I will make sure she is female, in deference to you to take a look at you and see if she can do a better job of healing you than I have. When she is finished looking at you she will come and get me.”

Salina was quite exhausted and in much pain so she just nodded her reply. As Thy’ron turned to leave she asked him one more question. “Will I be able to see this young man tonight?”

“Maybe. It depends upon what the healer says. The drink I gave you is worn off and I can tell that you are in much pain. We shall see. Until then my lady rests here.” Thy’ron walked out and closed the door behind him.

Salina slowly, painfully lay down upon the bed. It was very soft and comfortable. The purring of the Quilly’Efers had a soothing effect, as she looked at the ceiling hoping beyond hope that the young man the elves had found was Jace. A knock at her door tore Salina from her thoughts. A firm, yet distinctly feminine voice spoke. “My lady? May I enter?”

Salina tried to rise, but a sharp pain tore through her right side and chest. She coughed, a trickle of blood flowed out of the corner of her mouth down her chin. She wiped it away with her hand as she replied. “Yes, you may enter.”

The door opened and a rather tall figure walked in. She had the same color hair as Thy’ron, but much longer than his and had only one single long thick braid that kept her hair out of her face. She wore a light brown cloak that almost touched the floor and hid her feet. When she moved it seemed like she floated above the floor. The elf closed the door, went to the rear of the room and started a fire in a sunken pit that Salina had not seen before. As she added wood to the fire Salina could see the smoke go up out of a wooden tube that was situated above and built into the rear wall of the room. “Please remove all of your clothes my lady. I will need to examine all of you to determine the extent of your injuries. You may put this cloak on after I am finished.”

She straightened up from the fire pit, turned around, reached into a bag and pulled out a soft brown cloak like the one she wore and handed it to Salina. “My name is Avi, my lady. Do you need any assistance in removing your clothes?”

“No I shall be able to do so without any assistance, “ replied Salina.

Avi nodded, then turned around. “When you are finished, my lady, tell me and I will examine you.”

Salina unbuttoned the clasp that held her riding cloak together and it fell off of her shoulders, she then proceeded to stand. A sharp pain coursed through her again and she coughed up more blood. She fell back onto the bed. Immediately Avi was there. She took one look at the dark blood flowing out of Salina’s mouth and shook her head. “My lady you are injured worse than what I thought. From the color of the blood flowing out of your mouth I would say that one of your ribs might have pierced one of your lungs. You lay there and I will remove the rest of your clothes.”

With quick experienced yet gentle hands she removed Salina’s clothes, covered her with a blanket and put a pot of water over the fire. She quickly washed Salina with the warm water and examined her all at the same time hardly saying nothing except a soft whistle when she discovered a particularly nasty bruise, cut or when Salina would jump in pain when she pressed on certain areas of Salina’s body. Finally she finished her examination, clothed Salina in the brown cloak, took some herbs out of her bag and put them into the pot of boiling water. She turned around and could see in Salina’s eyes that Salina wanted to know what the examination had revealed.

“My lady, you have many bruises and cuts! One I shall have to sew stitches in. It is the one upon your left shoulder, but first I need to draw out the poison that is in it. These shall all heal relatively quickly. However it are your internal injuries that concern me. You have three cracked or broken ribs on your left side and two on your right. One on your right has definitely pierced your right lung. It is only by your strong will and cár’áll that you are still alive. Your lung should have collapsed on you and you should have drowned in your own blood. Only Seyella knows why you have not. If Thy’ron had not gotten you here as quick as he did you may not have had a chance. But I am going to have to open you up and close the wound to your lung otherwise you will surely bleed to death inside of you. There is a risk my lady that you could still die. But I will not do anything unless you give me permission. Do I have your permission my lady?”

Salina did not hesitate. How could she? If she did not allow this elven healer to do what she said she had to do then she would die for sure. She had to take the chance, even if she died while the elven woman worked on her. “I will allow you to do so, but first you must ask Thy’ron to come here. I have to talk to him.”

“As you wish my lady. Thy’ron is right outside the door.” She went to the door and opened it, she whispered into his ear then left them alone. Thy’ron came into the room and looked down at Salina. Salina could see genuine care in his gray eyes. “Avi tell me that you wanted to talk to me. What is it, my lady?”

“Before I allow Avi to do what she wants to do I would like to see the young man whom you have found. I need to know whether or not it is Prince Jace or some one else.”

“I am not sure that is wise, my lady. Avi tells me that you should not be moved. Is the identity of this young man that important to you to warrant more injury, even death!”

“Yes, Thy’ron it does,” Salina said without any hesitation in her voice.

Thy’ron stood there in silence weighing the consequences of this decision. He opened the door and quietly talked with Avi. Avi extremely argued against her moving. They both came back into the room. Avi spoke. “My lady, if the opening of you is successful then you will be able to see this young man soon enough.”

“And if it is not?” asked Salina.

“And if you die trying to see him? What good will that bring?” Avi retorted.

“I will see him. I have made up my mind. I must see him.” Salina rasped. “No matter what the consequences.”

Thy’ron thought a moment. Both of the ladies were strong willed, but Avi would not work on Salina unless she was given permission and it seemed liked Salina was not going to give it unless she saw they young man. “I think I have an answer that will satisfy you both and myself as well. I need you alive, Salina, so I just cannot allow you to put yourself into unnecessary peril. Yet I also understand, I think, why you want to see this man. So I will have this young man carried up here. You don’t have to move which will satisfy Avi and more than likely save your life and at the same time you can see who this young man is, tell me who he is, if you know and then Avi can continue with her healing. Is that acceptable to you both?”

The ladies looked at one another and both nodded. “Good. Then we are agreed then? I shall return in a few moments,” Thy’ron said as he walked out the door closing it behind him, leaving the two ladies staring at each other.

“Only love would make someone do something like this,” said Avi as she went to the pot over the fire and checked on her herbs. She bent over and smelled the concoction. “It is almost ready,” she said absentmindedly.

Salina lay a while in absolute silence. Then there was a knock at the door. Avi went across the room and opened it. Thy’ron came in leading a litter with a man upon it being carried by several elves. They laid the litter on the ground near Salina’s bed with the head of the man toward her. The man was covered with a cloth including his face, which was wrapped in bandages. “I cannot see his face,” Salina said as her heart jumped into her throat. Could this be Jace? The size of the man is about right, but… I am not sure.

“I will remove the bandages off of his face. But be warned it is not a very pretty vision,” Avi said quietly. Slowly she removed the bandages off of the head of the young man. When she was finished Salina looked and began crying. Tears streamed down her face and she began coughing up blood once again.

Thy’ron looked worried and Avi sat down next to Salina to hold her. “Thy’ron, give me a spoonful of that broth in the pot over the fire.” Thy’ron immediately obeyed. Avi forced Salina to drink the broth. Soon Salina felt the sedative work of the broth upon her body and she calmed down. Thy’ron watched as Avi gently lay Salina back down on the bed and then quickly replaced the bandages over the young man and motioned for him to be taken out of the room. The elves did as was requested and left taking the young man with him. Thy’ron needed to know, but he felt that when the time came Salina would tell him whom the young man was if she knew. He left, so Avi could finish what she started.

As he walked out the door several female healers passed him and went inside to help Avi. They worked the night through. Then, when the Injérà was just peeking its head over the horizon the healers came out of the room and left. They passed Thy’ron on the way. He had stayed up pacing the wooden walkway. Then Avi came out. She walked up to Thy’ron. He stood there expectantly.

“She will survive. That one has a strong cár’áll, much like the young man whom she knows and loves.”

“Loves?” questioned Thy’ron. “How do you know?”

“How did I know you loved me when even you did not know? I am a female, that is how I know.”

Thy’ron smiled and hugged his wife. “When will she be able to talk?” he asked.

Avi gently pushed herself away but still within Thy’ron’s arms and looked up into his face. “Why is it so important? She will be up when her body says she can be. Until then we must wait.”

“It is important. She may have the key to unlock many secrets.”

“She also may have the key of death - yours.” Avi said sadly as they both walked back to their place, lost in their own thoughts.

Story written by Capher View Profile