The Chronicles of Valana Volume 1: Shadowlands

by AB

Chapter 3


Two offspring many a hardship will face, first of all evil they will face.

Many a league they will traverse in a quest, across Valana in a quest.

But cruel is not fate, there are unknowing mentors and guardians by fate.

A few hours through open fields later, they reached the city of Eri'Adar with its tall walls, towers and parapets. Soldiers in uniform on the walls watching, patrolling.

They reached the gates. There was a queue as the guards checked everyone.

Their time arrived.

"Who are you? What do you want in the City of Eri'Adar?" One of the guards asked them.

"Simple travellers." Merol said.

"A speaker, an elf boy and a human boy? Quite pretty boys I might add! All of you armed? Simple travellers? I think not!" The guard said laughing.

"I really need a cloak!" Marco thought to himself as he dismounted his horse.

Merol stepped closer to the guard and whispered something to his ear. The guard laughed, patted Merol on the shoulder and waved for them to pass.

Marco didn't quite catch what Merol said to the guard as the general noise from the chorus of people behind them and in front of them blocked even his hearing.

They passed inside the city's gates. The buildings were almost one on top of the other, with short, dirty alley ways full of people coming and going, peddlers selling their wares on makeshift stalls and tents.

"Perfect for pickpocketing." Marco thought and gripped his bow and quiver tighter; they were the only things he really cared about. They guided the horse through the city people and maze like alleyways until they reached a square.

"Good thing we have you with us Merol, we would have been lost without you. Okay…what do we do now? How long are we going to stay in this city?" Marco asked the towering man next to him.

Micraal was at the gates of the City, scanning for possible marks.

He checked his slingshot in his pants. He had to improve his technique. He would shoot a rock at the opposite side so that the travelers would look that way and then he could steal their money from their pockets. He did this even if they couldn't see him when he used his magic hide.

This time he saw three people on horseback at the gate. A big man and two boys, one was an elf. He had never seen an elf before, much less an elf-child. It didn't take him long to decide that they were his target. The moment they were inside the city he stalked, them close waiting for the right moment to make his move.

He took his slingshot, picked up a stone and shot it at the opposite side of where he was. He got close to the horse and put his hand on one of the bags.

Marco looked around waiting for Merol to tell them what they were to do next when he saw a boy slightly older than him walk up to them. He smiled at the boy but the boy ignored him, then he stretched his hand for Merol's pouch of money attached to the horse's saddle.

"Hey what do you think you're doing?" He yelled at the boy.

Several bystanders, Merol and Lucas looked at him as if he is crazy, like he was talking to the wind.

"They can't see him!" Marco thought and with lightning speed went for the boy's outstretched hand.

He grabbed the boy's wrist and felt something else other than human skin. He tugged at that substance fast and pulled off what looked like a hide of some sort.

The unknown boy looked at him, jerked his hand and turned to run.

Lucas had drawn his weapon, although grabbing the handle and waving it about didn't have much of an effect, since he hadn't taken it out of its holder.

Merol seemed as calm as ever.

"It's not working." Lucas said giving the sword a shake.

"Take it out the scabbard first!" Merol said in frustration. "Did you never learn common sense when you were on that other world?"

Lucas shrugged.

"I must have missed the sword massacring class."

Marco didn't need to be told what to do, if not by knowledge by instinct alone he knew what to do.

He took out his bow and an arrow. Aiming for the cloth under the thief's arm pits and fired the arrow, his hand had gotten another arrow in a blur of movement, he aimed for his shoes and fired it then finally he fired an arrow just in front of him on his head level.

The arrows travelled towards the thief. The first arrow went through his upper clothes and pined itself onto the wall behind him. The second arrow went through the shoe without hurting the boy's foot and got stuck on the muddy ground. The third arrow impaled on the wall in front of his face. The boy thief found himself nailed to the wall and floor. As a result he fell on the arrow in front of him which struck him like a whip. With a bloody nose he fell on the ground breaking the arrow beneath his arm pit. He was alive and well but in the time it took for all that to happen, Marco running with the speed of an elf child was on top of him with an arrow pointing right at his face.

"Don't move!" He said.

Merol watched the elf-boy's actions. Marco's actions started off so well, pinning the boy rather than killing him. He had hoped for that. But now, with the arrows pointing at the boy's head was probably a foolish thing to do had he been facing an adult. No good fighter would pin down a criminal only to kill them at point-blank range. Marco wasn't going to kill the boy and they knew it. The boy facing an arrow on the other hand might not have realised it.

"First time in the big city and we get mugged." Lucas sighed. "Perhaps we should chop his hands off or something. Or steal from him, strip him naked and let him walk home." Lucas giggled.

Merol glared at him.

"Or," Lucas changed his tactic. "Or we can make him carrYour stuff."

Merol smiled. "That's not a bad idea." He left his horse and stepped over to the boy and grabbed a handful of the material covering his chest and said to Marco next to him, "Drop the arrow."

Marco placed the arrow back in the quiver. He was perplexed at Merol's reaction; he had not killed the boy, maybe that was it, or maybe the fact that he had spoken and not just shot first.

"I think this could work out nicely!" He said to Lucas smiling mischievously at his best friend.

"Sword massacring class? Where were you during School breaks?" He poked his tongue out like the tease he was.

The boy could not escape from Merol's vice like grip that many men couldn't free themselves from. Micraal felt Merol lift him to his feet. He felt so threatened by how Merol was looking at him.

"What's your name, thief?" He asked the boy.

"My name is Micraal of Adar. Don't kill me please, Sir."

He was scared to death. It was the first time his magic hadn't worked. Perhaps the magical fleece had lost all its magic. He had thought he was a good runner but it didn't work with them and now he could only wonder what they would do to him.

"Please sir, I live alone in this big city and I need to get some food but How can you see me, nobody has been able to see me before when I've used my fleece." Micraal said almost stuttering.

Marco picked up the hide. He wondered what kind of magic this hide possessed that allowed its wearer to become invisible to all but Elven eyes.

"You mean this? No one else saw you…but I did…maybe it has something to do with the fact that I am an elf, my senses are enhanced…how about you help us out while we are in the city? You've lived here all your life and you know it better than we ever will…maybe even come with us after…just promise me you won't try to steal from us again." He spoke to Micraal as he shouldered his bow and secured it.

Micraal looked at the boy and listened to him. He seemed friendlier to him than Merol who asked him to shoot him, Merol scared him, but not the boy.

"So an elf can see me but nobody else?" Micraal thought as he stared at the boy. Marco's movements looked smooth and firm, He couldn't stop himself from looking at Marco.

"Yes, of course I know this city very well. I can guide you anywhere you want. There is no place I haven't gone to. I will be glad to help you and I won't steal anything from you I swear!"

"Very well." Merol nodded. "If you do not rob us or otherwise attempt any unlawful act, we can reward you. Should you try to rob us, you will be caught, punished and handed in."

Micraal nodded very intensely "Yes!" He had no intention on disagreeing with the giant of a man.

He eyed the boy carefully and he placed his hand on the hilt of his greatsword and listened to the spirits talk. The boy had a good but naïve soul, a soul that formed a part of the final puzzle.

The city was familiar to Merol, as he had done much work here before. Some of his richer clients were here. Finding their way about was not going to be a problem. However, travelling with two, now three young boys isn't normally a problem. However, two of these boys were not of this world until now. Their skin didn't spend long without being cleansed with scented soap and they hadn't had the burden of working sixteen hours in the fields. They looked pure, rich and eager. Boys of such alien and exotic variety would only fit in one place. Moonlight Harem.

"Micraal," Merol said to the boy. "Where do you live?" He asked, "In the city?"

He looked at him, "Anywhere, sir…I am an orphan, sir; I sleep in the streets, sir…." He looked down before looking at Marco, "Can I please have it back?" He said pointing at the hide.

"Can I please have it back?" Marco gave the hide back to him.

"So what now? It is still daylight…" Marco asks Merol. "Where are we going to stay for the night? How many days do you think we need to stay in the city? Where is the market? I need to purchase a cloak before everyone in the city flocks to see an elf-boy…from what I understand Elven children are not a normal sight…"

"We're going to head to a friend of mine." Merol said. "She runs a place where you two won't look out of place, and yes, we will need to get you a cloak." He told Marco.

"Can I have a cloak?" Lucas piped. "I want a cloak!"

Merol looked at Lucas. Cloaks were for men of the wild, rangers and elves wore cloaks to protect them from the elements and conceal their faces. Swordsman wore armour, but Lucas wasn't built for armour, he didn't have the strength of most boys his age due to his gentle upbringing, but the boy was a speaker, what he lacked in strength he made up in spirit commune. He would make a good Speaker. The boy could speak to creatures and was small enough to be carried.

"No," He said. "Do not hide your face; you have nothing to hide and everything to be proud of."

Lucas didn't blush he just looked at the man quizzically.

Merol laughed. "Well, first we stay here, as I need to speak to the mountain guides to check on available paths through the mountains. The rock slides and avalanches change the lands so much each time I cross. The Long Peeks are not to be taken lightly." He said. Then it's a day's walk to the coast where we need to charter a ship. Qazameria is an elf island; we can rest there a while before we move on."

Marco wished he didn't have to hide his face. He was no criminal, he was beautiful back on Earth and if Elves were nearly as beautiful in reality as described in fantasy he ought to be of the fairest amongst them, though he had no way to find out as he had not found any mirrors since coming to this new land.

"Do you have Pizza in this world?" Lucas asked, changing the topic suddenly.

"Pizza? What is it?" Merol replied.

"It is tomato puree and cheeses and pineapple and ham and pepperoni baked on a round flatbread." He said with his stomach gurgling.

Merol raised his eyebrows and nodded. "That sounds interesting. I've never heard of Pineapple or Pepperoni, but we could find approximations when we get to Moonlight."

Marco laughed as he heard Lucas describe pizza to a guy who probably had eaten nothing else than soup and things he had hunted all his life.

It was Lucas' turn to raise his eyebrows "Moonlight?"

"The place where you two will fit in the most." Merol said with a knowing smile. "Let's go."

Marco was beginning to understand why his kind preferred their isolation, but then again if they did not isolate themselves maybe they would not be such a strange sight.

"How old are you? He asked Micraal as they took the horses by the reigns and walked in the city alleyways.

It was obvious that Merol knew where he was going. Then he realised that he knew next to nothing about the man where as he knew a whole lot more about them. He made a mental note to ask Merol about his life before they met.

"I will be fourteen in three moon cycles elf-boy." Micraal said to him in half wonder.

"Call me Marco…" Micraal seemed to know the place Merol spoke of but maybe out of fear of the older and larger man he did not say anything.

As they walked through the streets they came upon an open market with vendors of all items and desires. Marco found a green cloak with a large hood he instantly liked and Merol negotiated a price for it.

Marco wore it immediately and tied it around his torso. His quiver and bow he wore on top of it.

They continued walking through the streets, which started becoming, more luxurious and taken care of than before, the buildings started becoming larger and more affluent-looking as well. It was obvious that they were entering a rich part of the city. A few hundred meters away high above the skies the grey towers of the palace towered above the city horison. In the distance, coming ever closer were dense dark clouds.

Marco couldn't help listening in on by-standers, shop owners and passersby, his Elven hearing ever increasing.

The rumours had it that the King's new chancellor had gained a lot of power, removing the King's son from the palace and actually having him exiled. Others said that the crown prince had been assassinated, others that there had been an attempt on his life and he had fled the city with his personal guard and was now roaming the countryside killing goblins, marauders and raiders as well as a new mercenary band that had been plaguing the trade routes with Redonia and other cities. The silver brigade as they had come to be called from their silver and steel swords had been gaining fame and love in the people's hearts if the rumours were to be believed.

"Never thought I would actually be walking down the streets of an actual medieval city!" He said to Lucas as Merol stopped in front of a building and knocked on the heavy, beautifully carved door.

"I should have known…" Marco said as he looked on the carvings on the double doors. All of them of boys in various poses either alone or with a man or woman having sex. The carpenter had indeed been a master as there wasn't a flaw on them and the figures boys and adults alike looked as if they were alive and would jump out of the door at any moment.

A woman dressed in fine looking clothes opened the door. She smiled.

"Merol my dear! Long time no see! Come in! Come in! These three with you?" She seemed like a good person at first, but the elf in Marco told him not to trust her.

Olan sat in his chair in the great library of his fortress. He was forming a new plan to deal with the two boys that vexed his nights should their assassination fail.

"Riaed ohr vadorn" was a book on metamorphosis and transmutation from another land, one of many books on the large table in front of him. He read it and took notes. Then he picked up "Ova ied striel" A book on "transferring" personality and behaviour from things with souls to magically created beings. He read it and scribed what he needed to a parchment. He continued his study of old and forgotten tomes of magic and knowledge until he was interrupted by steps on the marble floor.

"Sir the armies and the navy are ready to march." General Atrik spoke, a man stood next to him with a grave expression in his face.

"Sooner than expected. Good job general Atrik, you march tomorrow, take a third of the army and take Varania for Zah Dah."

"Yes, sir!" The general saluted in his military way and left.

"Admiral Vokol split the navy in many smaller groups remove any insignias and markings and disrupt all trade sea-lanes, but do not touch any Elven ships. I want you to hit, sink any and all ships and take no prisoners. Attack everyone except the elves. You are to do this until you receive new instructions. Have the ships for the dragons and the other two continents leave yet?"

"Yes my Lord!" The other man said, saluted and left as well.

"Good…" Olan continued studying his magical tomes well into the night.

Meredith smiled. "Merol my dear long time no see! Come in! Come in! These three with you?" She beamed at the three children. The woman was in her fifties. She was a plump woman in a dress covered with an apron. Her sleeves were rolled up to her elbows as if she had been busy at something when they arrived. Lucas smiled at her.

Merol returned the smile. "Hello Meredith," He greeted. "Yes these three are with me. We need a place to stay; we are trying to stay ahead of the storm." He said as all four of them piled in.

"I have never been here before, I've wanted to work here and I could have never afforded for one of the boys. Before today I thought them the most beautiful in the world…today…today…I saw Marco." Micraal was lost in his thoughts.

"Jarron," She called into the large house. A shirtless older teen in just trousers came over to her. "Jarron, take Mr Keen's Steeds to the barn and feed them."

The boy nodded curtly and shot out of the door without saying a word.

"It's going to be a big storm they say." Meredith said escorting them down a corridor. "We've closed the house for the night and we're sealing up the windows, so all the boys are currently here." She saw a younger boy of about five wandering about dragging a toy bear on the floor behind him. "Oh Paws," She said hurrying up to him. "What are you doing, you should be with the others."

Merol raised his eyebrows.

Meredith noticed his expression.

"Oh Merol, don't be judgmental." She said as she shepherded him through a door and pulled it closed behind him.

"He's not one of the boys, but there are street children out there who have nowhere to go."

Merol sighed in relief. "Sorry, Meredith, I should have known. How many street kids have you brought in?"

"There are about eight I think. We keep them separate from the working boys." She said as she beckoned them further down the corridor.

Merol had been in Moonlight Harem a few times before. Known to its residents and staff as the 'house' he had saved many of the boys from death himself. As Meredith opened, the large double doors at the end of the corridor the sweet smell of perfume struck his nostrils as the dull wood-grey of the corridor suddenly gave way to exotic red ocean of cushions and carpeting complete with luxurious drapes and bowls of fruit. In the centre of the room was a large open brick built fire that sent its flames up through a central chimney radiating warmth even to the doorway where the five people stood. The fire was surrounded by a group of naked boys of various ages, all lying down on pillows and soft dyed furs. They were talking amongst themselves, some cuddling up to each other enjoying each other's embrace while others actively enjoyed each other's bodies fondling their friends' genitals.

They walked in and Marco instantly smelled a variety of aromas and smells. He wrinkled his nose as they all flooded his brain. Marco followed Merol and the others as they walked to the innards of the brothel.

One of the boys happened to glance over to see who had come in the door on their night off. His eyes looked up when he saw Merol.

"Uncle Merol!" He chirped happily and he got up and practically bounced over to the large man and embraced him in a naked hug.

Uncle? Lucas thought. Was he 'really' the boy's uncle or was he just a good friend that you call uncle. And what secrets did Merol hide if he had friends in this sort of place. Lucas was torn between learning new things about Merol each passing day and looking at all the hot naked flesh in the room. It was amazingly warm for such a large room warmed by a single fire. He wondered if magic had anything to do with it.

"Hello Ti." Merol leaned down and kissed the top of the naked boy's head. "Good to see you again."

"Who are your friends? New boys for us?" Ti grinned at the boys.

"No, they are travelers. We are heading to the elf lands." Merol replied. Ti faked a sorrowful face.

"Oh too bad, maybe they can stay and play while the storm passes."

Merol nodded and let the boy go.

"It's up to them, but we need to rest and bathe, as it's been a rush to get here before the storm."

"Oh," Ti had an idea and he turned to the main group of boys.

"Guys, let's give Merol and his sexy friends a 'special' bath."

The boys smiled knowingly and consented. Lucas' eyes grew wide and his pants grew outward. He looked up at Merol who was laughing. "Sounds like a plan." Merol laughed.

Marco looked at them and for the first time didn't receive any weird looks but then he remembered the cloak and hood on his head and sighed.

He was getting harder as well but he had a "lump" in his stomach he could not understand. There was something….infinitely evil about and getting closer by the minute. Then he understood as the elf in him grew stronger and with greater synchronicity to his surroundings.

The storm. It wasn't entirely natural. Someone or something was controlling it.

Marco approached Merol and whispered in his ear so that no one else heard.

"This storm…I don't know how but I can feel it…something terribly evil is lurking behind it…we are lucky to be inside a building." He whispered.

"Buildings may not stand up to it." Merol thought but said nothing, the fact that he didn't know what that "evil" was unnerved him greatly then a blond 12 yo looking boy came near them and pressed his hand on Marco's torso.

"My name is Kai; want to get rid of these dirty clothes sir." Kai said and before Marco could stop him he lowered his hood from his head revealing his soft features and wavy shoulder length blond hair.

Kai and most of the boys gasped.

"N…no please…look…ehhmm…we are just…oh bugger! Ehhh wrong choice of words…look yes I am an elf-boy…but the only physical difference you should be seeing in me are my ears…can we just have some fun?!" He caressed Kai's cheeks and smiled.

Micraal saw Kai talking to Marco and remove his hood along with the doubt and sadness that it brought him. He decided to grasp the moment. And grasp it he did as he placed a hand on Marco's shoulder.

"If they don t want to do anything with you, I'll be more than happy to have fun with you. I don t care if you're an elf-boy!" He started to undress hoping Marco would reciprocate.

Kai smiled and then grinned, "We don't have a problem with you sir" the boy said," we just have never seen an elf before much less an elf child…we would be honored to please you!" Kai smiled at him. Marco returned the smile. he leaned in and gave Kai a kiss on the lips and then turned around and kissed Micraal who had pouted thinking Marco didn't want him.

Kai had begun to undress him.

"Kai, is there a shower around here?"

"Shower sir? Oh…right…place with running water to clean. Oh yes sir, follow me." Kai got him by his hand and Marco got Micraal by the hand. Kai walked to the other side of the room and opened a double door. Inside were various bathtub-looking cubicles with curtains and pipes all around them.

"Some customers want their privacy I guess." Marco thought. He undressed completely and walked in the bathtub.

He looked at Kai to see him naked as well. The boy was beautiful. He was slim and slender with long legs and a flaccid three inch thin uncut noodle resting between his legs on top of a spherical-looking boy-pouch. His face covered by spiky hair had the brightest set of amber eyes he had ever seen and a pair of very inviting pink lips.

He stepped in and pulled a ribbon. Warm water started running from on top of them. Kai kneeled in front of him and took Marco's rock hard boydick in his hand. Marco moaned and closed his eyes.

Kai opened his mouth and swallowed Marco's dickhead in it. He started sucking him faster and faster.

Merol watched the two boys go with Kai. Ti smiled at Merol and guided him and Lucas to a door on the far side of the room.

The room had two doors separating it from the main room. The reason for this was apparent when they went through the second door. It was to keep the heat and steam inside. This room was much smaller than the main room, but it still had enough room for a few boys to gather and bathe. In the middle of this room was a circular pool that was lit by candles behind glass screens that protected them from the moisture in the air.

"Place your clothes over there." Ti said pointing to a basket on one side of the room. "You won't need them until you leave."

Merol undressed first, shedding his clothes until his muscled body stood bared to the room, his muscles flexing as he enjoyed freeing his skin from the confines of material. He looked at Lucas, who was still standing there, fully clothed.

"Are you going in?" He asked the boy as a few more boys came into help and bathe.

Lucas was mesmerized at the whole scene. Never before had he seen so many boys naked and aroused. He had seen naked boys before as the school showers often gave him good chance to compare himself to others, although like most boys that age they try to spend as little time naked as they can in fear of popping a woody.

"Yeah," He finally said and started to shed his clothes. Two boys came over to help him.

"Do not be shy." A bronze-skinned boy said to him softly. "We are all here for one thing, to relax and enjoy your bodies." He said as he pulled the soft skin shirt off Lucas' head.

"So tense," He commented as he ran his hands over the boy's shirtless body. "Step out of your bottoms."

Lucas stood naked, feeling the slight chill of the air that even the steamy room couldn't completely shut out. Lucas smiled at the boy and decided that the best course of action would be to climb into the warm pool. He stepped over to the pool edge just as Merol climbed in and sat down on the step that ringed the inside.

There must have been some soap suds or something on the poolside as Lucas stepped slipped and flailed his arms about wildly before plummeting into the pool his face landing right in Merol's crotch.

Ti laughed hard as he saw what had happened. "Haha, if Merol had been hard you would have lost an eye, haha" He chuckled as Lucas turned bright red.

Merol just gave a little chuckle and helped the boy up. Who managed to sit down properly in the pool edge. Ti sidled up to him and started to soap the boy up. "These perfumed soaps have relaxation herbs in them, you will soon relax." He said.

Lucas looked to the door they came in. "Where are the others?"

Merol replied as another boy was massaging the scented soap into his pectoral chest muscles. "They will join us when they are done with the other boys, at least I hope so; it's a shame to miss out on this experience."

Marco felt his dick taken out from Kai's mouth but as he was about to groan his disapproval he felt his dick enter another wet orifice.

"I want to taste you!" He heard Micraal say in his blissful haze.

"Ooooohhhhhh!!!!" Marco moaned and grabbed hold of Micraal's head. The warm water was running on them. Kai got up and pulled another ribbon. Then he kissed Marco.

Marco kissed him back and they started tongue battling.

Kai caressed Marco's cheeks as they kissed, then ground his crotch on Marco's body, moaning loudly.

Marco felt it, rising from his toes as they curled, up his legs and in his testicles as he cummed inside Micraal's mouth one of his best orgasms yet. He moaned loud as at the same time Kai squeezed his plump, firm, tear-dropped buttocks.

He felt weak at the knees and stabilised himself on the wall behind him.

"That was amazing!!" He said to Micraal kissing him.

"Where are the others?" He asked Kai.

"In the other room, in the public pool si…Marco." He said with a huge grin.

"Oh!! Let's go!"

"I am feeling tired." Micraal said and left, picking up his clothes.

Marco followed Kai to the public pool. Merol and Lucas were being massaged with some kind of soap or oil. They walked in and Kai picked up something and started soaping him up as well.

Marco felt so good, so relaxed but the knot in his stomach would not leave but then he heard it coming even before it hit them. He sort of jumped up from the water.

A few seconds later, the sound of wind and rain hitting the rooftops and walls of the buildings was heard throughout the room. Thunders echoed around them.

Marco closed his ears at the sound of the first thunder. The storm had arrived. He tried to ignore the real loud noises but he could not…

"Merol…is there anything you can do so that the outside noises are not herd in here? Please!" Marco said to Merol as calmly as he could, still clutching his ears. This was one instance that having increasingly enhanced senses was not a good thing.

Kai tried his best to relax him.

Merol smiled. "Yes, I could." He said matter-of-factly. "So could you; but since you are still learning your abilities I can help."

Merol rubbed his hands together and stood up. He took a deep breath, grabbed the nearest towel and threw it at Marco. "There you are, wrap your head in that and it'll be nice and quiet." Merol sank back into the tub with a sigh, the warmth enveloping his body again.

Lucas keeled over in laughter. "Oh man that was good."

Merol shrugged. "Not much I can't do with a spirit nearby." He gave a slight smile.

Marco felt the towel hit his head and Lucas and a few of the others laugh at him. His face reddened from the shame and he felt a surge of anger like none he had felt before. He was almost sure the water was actually boiling around him, it was of course not.

Then for the first time he heard it, something calling him from deep inside him. He was so emotionally charged that he heard it, a voice. He closed his eyes and concentrated on the sound of the voice.

"Say Ikara Volgath, and mean it Marco." The voice told him. It felt strangely familiar and warm.

Marco raised his voice and yelled, "IKARA VOLGATH!" Instantly everything went silent. Not just the wind and the thunders. Everything and everyone went silent. Some of the boys were talking but no sound was coming from their mouths. He splashed the water around him and that too was silent.

Merol gave a knowing smile and then said. "There we go." He got up and walked across the room.

"Sometimes the best teacher is yourself." He said. "But sometimes," he continued as he slipped into his trousers. "It's best to be able to hear what's going on outside." He acted as if he did not or could not understand that no one could hear him.

Marco lay in the warm water with a wide smile of satisfaction on his face. He lay back on the tiles and enjoyed the warm water.

He saw Micraal he smiled at him but he knew that the boy was under his magical hide.

A few minutes later he saw the door opposite to him open with what would have been a crushing sound and the woman who owned the place waving her hands frantically at them.

He shot up in an instant. He understood that something was very wrong indeed even if he could not listen to what she was saying to Merol.

The door crashed open and Meredith came rushing in. "Raiders, they're destroying the shops and they are heading this way." Her very voice broke as she spoke.

Merol put his hand on her shoulder.

"It's okay, I know." He reached for the large sword leaning against the wall. As his hand touched the hilt, the sword glowed bright for a moment before dying off to its normal appearance.

"Lierni em hathi, say it out loud little one." He heard that voice and so Marco voiced it out loud. Sound came rushing in again.

Merol turned to the boys "Stay hidden."

Lucas was alreadYout of the pool.

"No chance," He said already slipping into his trousers and grabbing his swords. "I want to fight." He did not yet understand what war is, what it really means to kill someone.

Merol nodded. "Fine by me, just don't get killed. Resurrection isn't my forte."

Marco put his clothes on wearing his cloak he picked up his bow which was left not with the rest of his clothes but near the edge of the pool.

"I'll go up on the roof and snipe them." He said to Merol and Lucas as they left. He was a sharpshooter he had no place down below if he could avoid it.

Merol slung his satchel over his shoulders, picked out a slip of parchment and slapped it over the door of the room. "If you get wounded head back to this room, they won't be able to enter here."

Lucas looked at the piece of paper over the doorway; there was a rune on it that simply said "Block".

Merol stepped down the corridor just as the front door was thrown off its hinges.

"Hello pretty boys." A gruff voice said before a foot was smacked against his nose. The foot belonged to Merol. The man fell in a quiet heap.

"Raiders, I hate raiders," He snarled at the unconscious figure as he held his sword and pierced him through and through.

He walked out into the middle of the rain soaked street and stood there propping his greatsword up with one hand against the dirt.

"It's playtime." He said and gave a slight grin.

A man ran up to him and ended up walking into Merol's fist. He didn't even have to throw a punch.

"Uneducated." He parried a blow of a sword and head-butted the man's lights out.

"Unskilled." He kneed another assailant in his stomach and smacked him to the floor with his spare hand.

A man charged in and laid a fist right in Merol's gut. Merol didn't flinch but looked down at the man.

"Unwise." He said and unleashed an uppercut that made the raider lift off the floor four feet.

Lucas arrived at his side, impressed that Merol hadn't even swung his sword yet and had downed a number. Lucas drew his swords and felt his own being entwine itself in the power of his blades.

"Lucas?" Merol asked down at him.

"Yeah!" He replied not looking up at him.

"Your pants are on backwards."

"Oh." He looked down. Sure enough, he had stepped into them backwards. "Damn. Well I was wet and it was dark and in a rush."

Merol back fisted another guy and he plummeted into the dirt. "Well," Merol continued. "This is a good chance to get some practice in."

Another guy came at him with a blade but again Merol parried, hooked the blade under his arm and jabbed a fist into the man's jaw. The man dropped to the floor.

"Go!" Merol urged him.

"Raaaarrrr!" Lucas shouted and ran forward. "Freedom!" He shouted as he ran forward remembering some kind of Hollywood film or another.

A man lunged towards Lucas who reactively closed his eyes. He heard a 'clink' noise and when he opened his eyes his hand was in the air, blocking a blade. His swords worked. He grinned, knowingly.

Lucas span on his feet and slashed at the man, spilling his guts onto the road.

"Ewwwww." Lucas whined. "That's gross!"

Merol on the other hand had stepped it up a bit and had his sword in hand giving it big arching swings with little effort.

"Raiders are opportunists," He said. "They will see an opening and take it." He swung, taking out a few more raiders. "But they are warped people with dark souls. Fear not for killing them, it will set them free."

Marco ran to the roof with Kai in tow.

"Go back down!" He said to the boy.

"No! I have never seen an elf fight!"

"You might get injured, if a thunder falls near us…" He was interrupted.

"I don't care." Kai said. Marco had no time to discuss this so he gripped his bow and stood on the edge of the roof.

"Gail force winds, north-east direction, twenty meters high…" He mumbled as he thought his aim vector.

He placed the first arrow on the bow, aimed and fired at a guy coming behind Lucas with his flail raised above his head. The arrow caught him in the neck and he fell to the ground bleeding.

"A bit to the right and a bit more upwards." He thought as he fired the second arrow. It killed a guy coming at Merol. He knew that Merol could more than defend himself, but the knowledge that he had denied him a kill he considered payback enough for the way he had ridiculed earlier in front of his best friend.

Merol looked up to where the arrow had been fired before he continued killing off raiders.

As he fired one arrow after another he spent less and less time aiming. None of his arrows missed their targets even if some were not headshots. He kept firing until he had no more arrows left in his quiver except one.

He saved that one and he ran downstairs.

He stood inside the protected room, his dagger drawn although he was really crap at close combat, even at brawls with what few bullies attempted to harass him back on Earth.

He put his bow back at his elbow. He could see Micraal nowhere so he assumed he was outside, unseen by all killing with his slingshot and dagger.

A raider came through the door and smiled at them, "I will enjoy this!" He said, walked a few meters and then bounced back as if he had hit a concrete wall.

He staggered back and then ran back outside.

"Kai! Take everyone back up to your rooms and lock any doors you can find behind you!!"

"Why Marco? He can't get through!!"

"Maybe he has left because he cannot enter and he is off for easier targets or maybe he has gone to fetch someone who can break Merol's ward. Go!!"

The boys all went to their rooms through doors on the other side of the room away from the outside, and Marco with his enhanced hearing heard doors lock one by one even through all of the noise of the storm. Outside the storm raged on and he could swear he could hear faint words in the rain, chanting of some sort but he could not understand what it was. The voice though made the hair on the back of his head stand on straight as if reacting to the malice he felt.

Some time passed by, Marco knew not how much then some men appeared. One of them started chanting and Marco knew he didn't have much time left before the ward was broken.

He sheathed his dagger and held out his bow. He took out the last remaining arrow and aimed it at the guy who was chanting.

He calmed out entirely and closed his eyes as he searched for that voice he had heard before.

He could hear nothing but he had a strong urge to say, herthal. He let loose the arrow. One of the raiders tried to protect the chanting guy with a shield. The arrow went right through the shield as if it didn't exist, through the raider's palm holding the shield and embedded itself on the chanting guy's forehead with a dull "thud".

A trickle of blood left the enemy wizard's forehead as his eyes rolled to the back of his head and he fell back and down lifeless.

The raiders cursed and one of them left, perhaps in search of another who knew how to break the ward, perhaps to find a backdoor inside. Marco sincerely hoped there wasn't one to be found. The doors to the upstairs floors were only inside this room as it appeared so there was no danger if the raiders could not enter it, but then again he didn't know the whole building.

The raiders called him names until they started dying mysteriously. When all three of them were dead he saw Micraal standing behind them dagger in hand in his hide.

They smiled at each other.

"Micraal, go round back and see if there is a back entrance to this place, protect it until this is all over, they can't see you." He told the boy who nodded and left.

"I have to get out of this protected room and see what is going on outside, maybe pick up some arrows if they are not broken and fire them again." He took out his dagger and stepped outside hesitantly really wishing he could be back in safe Manhattan but also not really wanting to go back.

Lucas was hacking down various raiders when they started to randomly fall down. He looked for the source and a whooshing sound caught his attention. It was coming from the House's terrace. He looked up and saw Marco was picking off people from high up. He smiled.

A few short moments later Marco was out on the battlefield. He must be out of arrows.

Marco had just stepped outside when a raider came at him running at full speed. He was no good at close combat but his speed was unmatched by the poorly trained human raider so he stepped to the side and pivoted around, he took out his dagger and stabbed him on his nape.

The raider untrained as he was, he was still trained enough and tall enough to avoid it by back-slapping at Marco's hand. It caught Marco by surprise and his dagger went flying.

Lucas wasn't sure why, but he spoke silently inside his head to the town, he wasn't sure how but he needed to.

The air filled with birds that swooped down and landed on the bodies of the raiders Marco had picked off and one by one the arrows were plucked out of the bodies. The birds then flew over to Marco and dropped them at his feet. The arrows were a bit bloody, but at least he had his arrows back.

Marco lost no time as he picked up an arrow, his bow from his back, placed the arrow on the bow and aimed straight at the man's face. The raider had no time to react as the arrow embedded itself between his eyes. Before he could fall over Marco had stepped up to him, pushed the arrow deeper and then removed it.

He placed the arrows in his quiver.

He saw a guy thrusting at Lucas from behind and he screamed at his best friend. The storm carried his voice away.

Lucas was admiring his handiwork when he felt a sharp pain in his ribs. A badly aimed sword had been thrusted at him from behind and the action had cut into him, drawing blood. He swung backwards with his right hand catching the raider across the neck. He grabbed at his side, the wound was deep, but his breathing wasn't affected s o there was no punctured lung, but there was blood. He ran over to Marco and decided he would best be used to guard his friend while he reloaded.

Lucas was hit. If he had felt anger before with Merol it was nothing compared to what he felt now. He took two arrows from the quiver, aimed and fired at the closest raiders to Lucas, to give him time to get to safety but Lucas instead came to him smiling.

"This beats climbing into an old museum!" He said, one hand on his side, the other brandishing his sword. The spare sword in its scabbard on his hip.

"Yes it does!! Remove your hand." He said to Lucas and pressed his hand on Lucas' injured side with blood pouring out of it.

He concentrated on the injury but he somehow knew that he didn't need to say anything but instead just "pass" some of his immortal life-force to Lucas. It took a few seconds but some of the wound was healed.

"It's the best I can do…" He said to Lucas, he hadn't healed the injury entirely he obviously lacked the skill, knowledge and magical force to heal him entirely but at least there was no blood coming out of it.

Then he wriggled his nose as realisation came over him.

"Hey! That's not fair you have your first battle wound!!" He said as he picked up his bow in a blink of an eye and fired an arrow past Lucas' shoulder. A raider fell down dead.

A group of raiders looked at them, "GET THAT FUCKING ARCHER! KILL HIM BOYS!!" They screamed. There were ten of them and he only had six arrows.

He picked them all in his hand, levelled the bow horizontally and fired all six arrows at them.

Five raiders dropped dead, arrows sticking out of their heads. One missed. That still left five raiders coming towards them and he was out of arrows again.

He shouldered his bow and took the dagger in his hand.

"Great!! I hope you are good with these two!" He said to Lucas and pointed at his short swords.

He crouched and brought his dagger in front of his face. He had no idea what to do beyond dodge and avoid the hits that would come and thrust when he could.

The five raiders came upon them. Two went for Lucas, three came to him.

He dodged and avoided their hits and slashed at one of them. He tore the guy's neck but then something landed on his temple and he staggered back dazed by the hit. He groped his temple but found no blood. He had been hit by a hilt and not a blade.

The shock of the impact threw the hood off his head.

"Look guys!!! An elf child!! The rest of his kind will give us handsome ransom to get him back and we can enjoy him in the meanwhile!"

Marco threw up on the road and looked up to see a pommel of a sword descending on his hand, they wanted to capture him not kill him now.

He remembered the very first word of Elven he had spoken in this world when he and Lucas had first arrived. He extended his hand and concentrated all his strength in speaking that one word, all his anger went to that one word that left his soft, blood red, plush lips.

"YOUR LOT INJURED MY BEST FRIEND!! SALATH!!!" A green gleam in his eyes appeared for a second followed by a whirlwind that came rushing at the three raiders, one of them, the one closest to him, the one lowering his sword to his head fell backwards dead instantly as his neck broke by the violently twisting wind. Another one was dragged by the whirlwind backwards a hundred meters, the third and much bulkier than the other two resisted by raising his shield and kneeling on the road.

The third remaining raider started attacking him and it was soon obvious that he would sooner or later land a hit. He was dodging and parrying but Marco could not land a hit. He was becoming increasingly panicked when the raider staggered forwards and fell down dead. An arrow sticking out the back of his head.

Marco looked up and saw a battalion of men come their way. Eri'Adar's city guard had finally come. Marco wore his hood again and kneeled in pain and exhaustion.

Another battalion came from the north to where Merol was enjoying himself.

"Archers, fire at the raiders, be careful not to harm the other four people." The Captain said and four archers took aim, they fired and two raiders fell dead, one was the one attacking Marco.

The raiders started shouting amongst themselves, "The city army has come, let's get the fuck out of here!"

"Men, keep flanks, maintain the line and kill as many of them raiders as you can. Captain Londr should be coming from the north barracks."

The battalion continued walking to where Marco and Lucas stood.

"Captain Merdoc, third Eri'Adar battalion at your service. Thank you for doing what you could against the raiders, they are always a problem during storms, when lots of people gather inside the walls." He was a young looking, tall man. He removed his helmet and extended his hand to Merol, probably thinking that he had killed all those raiders on his own. He was smiling.

"Marco and this is Lucas, about time you came!"

"You have your friend over here to thank for that! With this damn storm we didn't hear a thing…I haven't seen a storm as ferocious as this before in my life, nor have I seen kids fight this well, your skill with the bow is…exceptional to say the least." He told them.

"No this is not a normal storm, and they are no normal kids." Merol said leaning on his sword. He wasn't even out of breath. "I suggest you double your guards and get your mage to start warding important structures."

Lucas stepped up to Merol. "What's happening?" He asked.

"Nothing," He lied. He wanted to keep the children out of the loop for now. There was no reason to worry them until they could cope with their abilities. Even though they had so far impressed him, their ability to control themselves had a long way to go. Magic was a force that shouldn't be trifled with, more so than the spirit world.

"Well," Merol said loudly. "Now the professionals are here," He gestured to the men around him. "We will retire for the night. It looks like we'll be going in the morning."

Lucas looked at Merol. At first, he seems keen to let them stay a while then after something happens its 'hurry up no time to lose' and they are off before he even has a chance to explore the area.

"Figures... no time to explore and rest." Lucas grumbled.

Merol heard and clapped him on the shoulder. "Do you want your friend to get hurt? You could blend in perhaps, but Marco will be in danger until he understands his bloodline and uses his magic properly."

Merol glared at Marco for a moment and then turned to Micraal.

"You fight well. If you have nowhere to go you can join us on our journey. You might even learn something, and we need all the friends we can get."

Micraal heard Merol speak and was unsure if he was talking to him, he felt so proud to receive such praise from a skilled warrior like him. He tried to smile at him.

"Thank you sir, no I have no reason to stay in the city... I will come with you three gladly!"

He then looked at Merol for a minute before turning to Marco.

Marco looked at him and smiled but he was deep in thought so he threw a quick smile at Micraal and went inside the building after picking up as many of his arrows as he could. As many as were still intact.

He walked inside fast holding his hood on. Why had Merol looked at him so? Had he done something wrong in battle? Had he really mind so much about being denied one kill? These and many more thoughts crossed his mind.

He went inside and waited by the entrance for Merol to come in.

Lucas came in first, Merol came in behind him and Micraal closed and locked the doors.

"Merol…can I speak to you please?"

He waited until the other two had walked some distance between them.

"Why did you look like that at me before? Did I do something wrong in battle? I am sorry for denying you a kill if that angered you so much…"

Marco was not being accusatory, but rather pleading and inquisitive. He wanted to know what his mistake had been so that he did not repeat it and because he didn't want to really anger Merol. He didn't know the man so he didn't know what punishment coming from him would be like. It dawned on him. Neither he nor Lucas knew anything about Merol. That discussion though was for another day and not for tonight but then he decided to push his luck just a bit.

"You said it was nothing to Lucas…but…but he didn't hear the incantations and chanting in the howling wind…it sounded….ancient and evil…what was it? Who was it? I have so many questions…" He looked straight at Merol's eyes as he spoke this time.

Merol paused and met Marco's gaze. "Darkness, Marco" He said. "I don't hear the incantations but Ifeel the spirits. They fear for us. Some may even want us hurt."

He looked up into the clouds, the dark possessing clouds.

"When you whittle away fate and fortune all you are left with is two things, good and evil. It's easy to be evil, you just have to care about yourself and only yourself. One slight act of selfishness, one magic trick based purely on making oneself happy is the path to the dark side."

"Oh great." Lucas stepped up to them. "Next you are going to say 'Marco, I am your father'."

"He is not my son." Merol stated with slight confusion. "What made you think that?"

"TV, kinda hard to explain, but it's like a box capturing a picture and sending it somewhere else into another box. People tell stories that way." Lucas explained.

"Magic!" Merol said and raised his eyebrows.

"Nah science. We have no magic on Earth, but in a world with no magic you become reliant on science to take its place." Lucas grinned.

This seemed to placate Merol for the time being.

"Still, you need to get that wound seen to." He turned to Marco. "Let's get inside before we all freeze to death."

Marco laughed inward as he heard Lucas try to explain TV to a person who has no idea of science and technology.

"I am an elf silly! How could he be my father?!"

"You forget Arwen and Aragorn!" Lucas said and poked his tongue out.

"Yeah but their kids were humans!" Marco stated.

"Yeah but on Sirmarilion it says how Elrond's father is a human…that he is of the immortal line…"

"If you don't want to freeze to death come in." Merol said strictly and with finality in his voice.

"For a human you sure answer like an elf, all riddles and easier to get a straight answer from a fish." He said playfully to Merol as he went straight for the pool and shed his clothes.

'I have no idea where that came from!' He thought to himself.

Kai and the rest of the boys came downstairs and Kai planted a kiss on Marco's mouth.

"You were awesome!! You all were! Thank you for protecting us!! If you are ever in Eri'Adar again, I'll do you for free!" He said squeezing his waist closer.

Marco blushed and kissed him back. He broke the kiss and threw him in the pool. He had never felt so horny before in his life. His increased libido ever since coming to this place along with the adrenaline of the battle still coursing in his veins made for one very horny elf. He removed his clothes as fast as he could and jumped inside the pool.

"I think it is my time to please you!" Marco said and started kissing his way down to Kai's smooth crotch. The small nowerect boydick sticking outside of the water wanting attention.

He took the boy's dick in his mouth and started sucking it. Kai moaned and held Marco's head in his hands as he closed his eyes and enjoyed the blowjob. It was not often he had boys suck him, other than the boys working in the building, and an elf-boy to boot.

Kai started rocking his hips back and forth moaning softly.

Marco moaned as well as he sucked Kai's dick and played with his balls and soon after, Kai let out a small yell and had his dry cum then he sat on the pool's edge and opened his legs and pulled them to his face.

Marco looked at him weird. Kai giggled.

"Come on silly I want you to put it in me!"

"But…but that is yuck!!" Marco blushed crimson again.

"No it is not!! Come on you will love it!"

"I've…hmmm…never…you know…either way…"

"I won't hurt you or do you if you don't want me to…just do me!"

Marco walked up to him and lined up his dick with the boy's bubble bum and rosebud-looking boyhole.

Kai hugged him and Marco started pushing his dick inside the hot boyhole. He was in bliss almost instantly as Kai's smooth, warm hole covered his hard boydick.

Kai moaned as Marco started to fuck him by instinct, moving his hips back and forth, in and out of his ass faster and faster.

Marco closed his eyes and moaned deep and soon after he cummed inside Kai and Kai had his second orgasm.

Marco lay on top of him and kissed him then Kai dragged him inside the pool where he started to soap him up and clean him kissing his neck and back.

Micraal was behind Marco and hoped to do something with him again but he saw Kai kiss Marco and Marco kiss him back. He was upset and his dick deflated disappointed, He felt lonely like before. He was falling for Marco fast and he felt jealous seeing him having sex with another boy so he turned away not wanting to watch them anymore and went to a room upstairs. A boy that looked like eleven years old entered his room and spoke to him.

"Please mister what is your name? You saved our lives don t leave us I want to thank you …"

He was upset but being begged by such a beautiful naked boy was not something he was going to pass up. He let him inside the room.

Merol had left the room while the boys enjoyed themselves; Lucas washed himself and moved off to one side where he sat with a towel around his waist.

The storm still rumbled but it was fading now, its job done. The room was starting to become the buzz of boys enjoying themselves once again. He looked down at his wound, it still ached, but Marco had healed most of the injury.

He thought of his parents and his old life. How simple things were back then. All he did was get up, plod about school then he'd go for a walk before coming home and eat. It was all he had to do, there was always food about, but here, food wasn't something that was on a shelf. Food actually had to be hunted and skinned, if you didn't, you would die. Sure, if you were rich enough you could pay others to do it, but for most, it was DIY.

He had just seen enough blood that should have made him sick. He had seen heads lopped off and guts spilled onto the muddy floor, but in that moment it was life or death. This was how people lived where violence ruled their lives. He didn't like it; no one should live in fear.

Would the Elves be different, he wondered. Would they be more civilized and would he be able to walk about freely there or would he be as estranged as Marco is here? Will they even make it there with so much violence coating the wilds.

Something was still missing. Marco seemed so content with his turning into an Elf that Lucas was...jealous of. He was happy, but in the short of it, talking to animals was just a Doctor Doolittle trick. It wasn't useful, Merol can talk to the spirits and he was lumped with animals. Marco is throwing magic about and can hit anything with his bow and arrows, Merol is calling spirits to slay the evils and what is Lucas doing? Talking to the trees and birds. If it wasn't for Merol's weapons he would have nothing to do whatsoever.

He felt the tug of sleep behind his eyes. It had been a long day and they just seemed to get longer and more dangerous. He closed his eyes, not worrying if he fell to sleep or not.

Marco came back to "Earth" from one of the most intense orgasms in his young life, and with the rest of his adrenaline spent on sex he suddenly felt as tired as he had ever been.

He looked around, Micraal was having fun with two twins, Merol was nowhere to be seen and Lucas stood alone in a towel a few meters away from everyone else.

Marco knew that look, it was not only tiredness it was sadness and uncomfortable thoughts. He walked to his best friend as he was closing his eyes and touched his hand, then his thigh near the knee and rubbed it, not in a sexual way but more like a brother would.

They looked each other in the eyes and Marco tried to smile but it wouldn't come out.

"We need to talk…remember back on Earth when we used to tell each other everything? We may have changed and still be changing physically but I don't feel like anything else has changed between us…so much has happened in this past week that I don't even know where to begin…"

Marco looked around to make sure no one was eavesdropping on them.

"…I am scared half the day and the rest half of the day I am anxious that I should not be enjoying…all this so much…" he pointed himself meaning his transformation, then he waved his hands around meaning this new world.

"…You are the only person in this world so far that I really trust with my life, because even Merol could be doing this out of the goodness of his heart, because he has been tasked to do it by…someone or because he has ulterior motives and we truly don't know anything about him other than he helps travelers. Micraal we only met today…so we need to stay together like before on Earth…we need to talk…maybe not now as I am feeling like I am going to collapse from tiredness but we must talk before leaving Eri'Adar…want to sleep together? I don't mean…you know…sleep…I mean just sleep in the same bed…I don't want to be alone tonight…there is…evil in the air…"

He finished talking and bit his lower lip. Lucas opened his eyes as Marco spoke. He placed his arm around his friend and actually managed a smile. He could feel the heat from his friend warm his arm and it was almost easy to forget that they were on a world made of Elves and spirits.

"I'm missing something." He said to the air more than to Marco. "I keep thinking that there should be something with me, but I look around and there's nothing there." He paused and turned to Marco. "But I'm glad you are here, I probably wouldn't have as much strength if you weren't here."

"Of course I'm here silly!! You are my best friend! You were awesome tonight! Hacking away at all those raiders, I can't seem to be able to hold a dagger much less a sword for dear life!" Marco said and he instinctively searched for his bow with his hand but of course it was not on him but on the floor next to his clothes.

He picked up his clothes, bow and quiver and followed his friend upstairs.

"And to think that a week ago we were in Manhattan thinking how to most quickly finish our homework to go about exploring. And now we have to fight for our lives…I do hope there is more safety once we reach the rest of my…kind…it's easy to forget what I am…becoming since I do not have a mirror to see my face in…" He spoke as they climbed the stairs. Lucas had not removed his arm from his shoulder and Marco didn't complain. He liked the warmth and closeness.

Mirrors, yes they were a problem. Lucas also longed for some minty fresh toothpaste. Using the powder and those stiff bristled things worked, but his mouth tasted like he had licked the back end of a horse. Not that he had an accurate experience for comparison.

Lucas stopped and listened to the wind outside. The rain had stopped and he could hear the guards cleaning the place up, dragging the bodies away. They would probably be burned, which meant that any more enemies would not be about to attack that night. A bonfire meant the presence of town guard. Lucas actually felt safe. It was probably the comfort of Marco but he let the tiredness wash over him and before he knew it he was asleep.

Marco lay next to his friend and put a hand over him as he snuggled in close for the warmth. It took him a few minutes of uneasy thoughts before he could sleep.

What Merol had said earlier was true, Lucas was human and could possibly blend in…but he was an elf, he still couldn't fully believe it.

What was that voice in the storm earlier? What had it wanted? Was it connected with the raider attack or were they two different events? Such and other similar thoughts troubled his young mind as he shifted off to sleep.

That same dream came to them both once again. With that same unknown boy talking to all those people.

"…A wind of a battle-cry for those lost..."

Thousands of kilometers away, inside a tower made of black stone, on a hill overseeing the City of shadows Olan was concocting his plans. He seemed pleased.

"Everything is ready my Lord." Naire said as he bowed.

"Good! Let us go to the summoning cycle then." Olan got up from his chair in the dungeons. Torturing people was a good hobby of his.

"The storm was a very good idea my Lord, scrying on them and causing damage at the same time!"

"Yes…and it helped me procure a strand of his hair…" Olan said as they walked up the stairs to the summoning circle.

"The quicksilver and other elements you asked for my Lord are already in the summoning room."

Olan nodded.

They reached the summoning circle and stood on opposite ends of the circle. They started chanting and casting spells and incantations, binding them together with complex wordings and inserting the various ingredients and elements as they were needed.

Two hours later the quicksilver started forming the body of a boy. An hour later after that he looked identical to the original. Olan spent another hour magically teaching all he could the magical being about being a boy and what the spirits had told him of his subject for as long as he had been in Valana.

"He is a beautiful boy…the original. I will have to brutally rape him before killing him." Olan said and smirked. "So long as it is not asked about events and knowledge prior to Valana he will never be found until he completes his mission. Now for the final touch…"

Twenty minutes later he had magically teleported the magical being and a liorda collar to his agents in the area.

"What is his mission sir?"

"Kill the High-King of the elves."

"He will be given an audience with him?"



"Because of the prophesy Naire, they have arrived earlier…he will want to see them." They walked towards the entrance of the Dark Fortress.

"What is that collar my Lord?"

"My agents will put it around his neck. It will make him…obedient and compliant.

"Your Majesty, why would they go through the caves of sorrow and not one of the above ground passages?"

"The storm was not localised to Eri'Adar alone and my agents are making sure there is no passage left unblocked…be it avalanche or rockslide….they are making use of magic and…other talents to make sure that the blockades cannot be undone…they will go through the caves of sorrow…"

"Why not go around the mountains my Lord?"

"Because instead of doing maybe a week to surpass the mountains they would have to make a month if not more and with now five boys in the group he will not want to expose them to the…elements for longer than needed. If he does go around the mountains…then we have other locations and means to which to launch an ambush."

"Five my Lord? They are only three…?" Naire did not want to doubt or question his Master but he knew of only three boys.

"Naire…they will soon be five…the High-King of all Elves is not the only one who can plan ahead…" Olan chuckled. "Not any more at least." He said and touched his mask as if by instinct.

"My Lord, that new species from the southern continent has arrived, the first marauding bands. In three months the main army will have conquered the southern continent in your name and will come join our armies."

"So…six months for the Orkhavocs to arrive in full…what of the dragons of Vaser?"

"We are still…negotiating with them my Lord…immune as they are to spirits they make for formidable diplomats."

"Do whatever you have to do in order for the dragons to come in less than six months."

"Yes my Lord."

They arrived at the Fortress entrance.

"General Atrik! We depart to conquer Varania in your name my Lord!"

"Do not fail me!" Olan said simply with finality and cruel malice in his voice and left for the dungeons to resume his entertainment.

A day later

"My Lord, they have left Eri'Adar and our agents made sure the inn has been burned to the ground, also they are silently guarding all the passages across the mountains, around, on top and through them."

"Good. Elinor Gilthian is leading them, he is one of the seven and the best assassin in the land his illusions are second only to mine."

"What is the plan my Lord?"

"You shall see Naire…you shall see." Naire bowed and left.

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