The Chronicles of Valana Volume 1: Shadowlands

by AB

Chapter 13

Avatar of fire

They had been flying for three days now, Dara disappeared, Firefly forest to their left, a mountain range on their right. The dragons rose higher. They slept on the dragons and the dragons slept not.

They had left Dara right after all of the dragons had bonded with humans. Now an army of their own they flew to Eri'Adar.

"What mountains are those?" Lucas asked.

"Those are the Thorn Mountains, natural barrier between Qadon, Fadr and the Empire of Rodenia. Tallest mountain range on Valana."

Soon they were over sea again. "Fundor, go south, the Elves know not yet that you are allies, do not pass over their islands." Merol told the Dragon leader and the dragons veered south.

A day later the last of Dol'Adur's shores disappeared behind them and Rodenia's north shores came ever closer. They flew in silence, each lost in their own thoughts and fears.

"The siege must have started by now…I hope they are okay…" Beck voiced what they were all thinking.

"Feldon is with them, there is not much we can do for them other than find the exiled prince.

By nightfall the mountains of Rodenia and Eri'Adar came into view. Fundor took a sharp turn westwards.

"Crown Prince Valadosh is near the black river. We will be there tomorrow, no sleep for the dragons tonight." Fundor said as the dragons gained altitude. Lucas could feel the cold all around him but he said nothing, he knew what the dragons were doing. By gaining altitude, they were gaining time by having to travel less distance in a straight line and letting the planet's rotation do the work for them much like planes in Earth.

"Hang in there Marco, I am coming." He thought as he drifted in an uneasy sleep.

"There! I can see a dragon on the ground!" Drake voiced. It was midday when they made it to the silver legion's camp.

Fundor released a thunderous roar firing a torrent of dragon's breath. The dragon responded in kind.

Fundor descended with the dragons following him.

A man stood next to the dragon, a hand on its neck. Fundor landed in front of them.

"Karadenia I have returned, are thou ready for war?" Fundor asked the she-dragon.

"My King, we the silver legion stand with you." The she-dragon spoke in a female yet unmistakably dragon voice.

"I am Crown Prince Valadosh. I have met thee, but not thy friends. Who might they be?" Lucas looked at him. He looked to be shorter than one hundred and ninety centimeters tall, with strong hands and a chest full of self-confidence, short red hair and a crown on them. His amber eyes pierced through them inquisitively. A large double-mace hanged from his waist.

"I am Lucas….King of Dara your majesty, that is my father Merol Keen, and our friends Beck, Drake and Micraal of Eri'Adar." The others bowed their heads in a show of respect.

"I see…Fundor my friend and comrade in arms. I sense something different about you." Valadosh told the dragon-King after making a small courtesy of his own to them.

Fundor puffed some smoke from his nostrils, "a show of pride perhaps" Lucas thought.

"Yes, I like Karadenia am now bonded with Lucas of Dara. A King for a King and let our foes tremble before us."

"Crown-Prince Valadosh, is your army ready to march? There is no time to lose!" Lucas asked him.

"Yes, we are, but we were not able to get here in time, the army of Zah Dah led by the dragon Droholost and Naire Oira scourge of the North had already passed going south."

"The port of Raeri and the fords of Elandros had already fallen when we left Dara not five days ago, Eri'Adar must by now without a doubt be under siege. Will you ride with us?"

"I will not let my country fall to ruin even if my father has exiled me. I have been fighting the Orkhavoc and dragon invaders for a year now. We will ride to Eri'Adar." Valadosh replied and mounted Karadenia.

"It was not your father who really exiled you, but Counsilor Gothral." Merol told him. Searching for the documents that would prove Lucas' rightful place on the throne he had found reports from Dara's spies on the region. "He has been planning his rise to power for a very long time. Removing you from the line of ascension to the throne was but one stepping-stone to his ascension. Having your sister killed was another." Merol concluded giving Valadosh some papers.

Valadosh read them and the colour drained from his face. "I will have his head for this."

"I have a feeling my friends will have taken care of this…if he also joined Zah Dah or in some way tried to prevent them from defending the city against the army of Zah Dah." Lucas grinned.

"For his sake, whatever they may have done to him pales in comparison to what I will if I get my hands on him. Silver legion we ride to Eri'Adar." It took the men only an hour to disassemble the camp.

Every man in Valadosh's army wore silver plated armour and weapons, their steeds covered in silver silk and armour around their heads and legs.

"It will take us a day to get to Eri'Adar." Valadosh told them as the dragons took to the skies. "We could do it in less time if it was not for the horses."

"I hope the fight in the north is going well…" Lucas murmured.

"Fight to the north?" Valadosh inquired.

"Yes, the combined armies of men and Elves except Yaria, Eri'Adar and Fadr are fighting the army of Zah Dah that laid Varania to waste." Lucas replied him.

"The Elves have mobilised and Gothral or my father did not send troops to their aid against the Darkness of Zah Dah? If we win this I will give thee all that I can spare." Valadosh told him.

Lucas liked him, he was blunt but to the point and he had not that arrogance or indirective speech that he had seen in other nobles so far in Valana…or Earth.

It was dawn when the first roofs of Eri'Adar came to sight. Lucas gasped at the sight. The city was in flames completely encircled by the enemy army. It was a sight to behold as the army of Zah Dah fought the defenders, siege weapon, magical and archer projectiles going every which way with the ruckus of the battle reaching them as if they stood right in the middle of it.

"My beloved city…what have they done to you?" Valadosh whispered and clutched his fists.

"Two more armies are there…who are they?" Drake asked.

"I recognise one, it is Yaria's, the dogs have come, but they will find once more that they have chewed on more than they can swallow. I do not know the colours of the other army, but I have to admit that cavalry is impressive." Valadosh stated.

"Soldiers of the silver legion, here lies your city, your home, besieged by the dogs of Zah Dah and Yaria, draw your weapons." Valadosh yelled. In one synchronised movement, the soldiers of the silver legion drew their weapons.

"Wedge formation, tight ranks." Valadosh said next and in obviously extensively trained movements, the silver legion assumed the formation ordered by their Crown Prince and Commander.

"Charge!" Valadosh yelled. The legion kicked their spurs and the horses gained speed.

"Dragons attack their siege weapons and the enemy brethren; leave Droholost to me and Lucas." Fundor gave his orders to his dragons.

Not a moment later Lucas spotted Aer'andil on the battlefield, he had hoped he would be inside the walls but he saw him out there against a huge black dragon.

"That's Droholost isn't he…with Naire on his ba…" Before Lucas could complete his sentence, he felt a sudden but fleeting pain deep in his mind. He saw Marco fall on his knees on the ground, an expression of utter pain and despair on his face, his hands limp on his sides.

"Faster Fundor! Faster! What was that just now…?" He wondered urging Fundor. He saw Naire say something to Droholost, Droholost unleashed a torrent of dragon's breath, black and vile bathing Aer'andil with it. His blood froze cold.

"MARCO! NOOOO!" Lucas yelled at the top of his lungs, tears in his eyes.

Aer'andil felt the black fire surround him but he felt no pain from it. He felt as if he was pushed through a very slippery, thin yet resisting membrane, his spirit screaming in his mind in agony and enraged fury. His father was dead and the spirit inside him torn to shreds.

In an instant, suddenly and without warning he felt peace, total, complete peace. The pain was gone, the feeling of loss was gone, and the knot in his stomach was gone. He had never before in his life felt like this.

He took a breath, "Am I dead…" He wondered aloud. "I can feel a presence, but not my spirit…"

"I am all, I am everything, I am nothing, and you are not dead, the abyss looks very different to this." Something spoke in his mind and all around him.

"Where am I?" Aer'andil asked properly confused, still having no idea what this feeling of peace was.

"You are where you were." The entity replied. Aer'andil looked around him, it did not look like the battlefield of Eri'Adar, it looked like…void, as if he was in liquid clouds, his mind grasping at straws to comprehend what he was seeing, hearing or smelling.

"What are you?"

"I am all, I am nothing, I am everything."

"You are not my spirit, you feel…ancient, even more so than my spirit." Aer'andil questioned, wrinkling his nose in concentration.

"I was before your spirit, I will be after."

"My father…he is dead isn't he?"

"Yes although he does have one last message for you if you will hear it." The entity told him.

"Yes, of course…but how? He is across Valana…" Aer'andil said sad.

"He can use me like you can, only he knows it and you do not as of yet. He has had more than twenty thousand years of training, you have not."

Aer'andil saw a mirror like liquid appear from nowhere and in it his father's face. He saw his father close his eyes and tell him he loved him. The liquid became nothing again. He could feel tears streaking down his cheeks and rage boiling to the surface.

"My spirit, it is angry because whoever killed my father also did something to the spirit inside him, yes?"

"Yes, you are more along to understanding me than your father was at your age."

"I supposed if I ask you what you are again you'll answer me the same riddle won't you?"


"Why do I not feel pain or death from Droholost's flames?"

"You are of fire, fire will harm you not."

"Naire…he is immune to fire and I have no idea how to kill him, I may be of fire but I do not think I can withstand a sword through my chest."

"He is no creature of fire, only something dead brought to life and taught how to interpret the world of the living. He has no…passion, I think you call it, inside him. Fire needs passion, life needs it, water needs it, air needs even spirits need it. Everything needs some measure of passion, ambition, the will to live in order to live. He only knows how to interpret fire and hate the living."

"If he is not a creature of fire how come no one can kill him with it?"

"Because whoever brought him back from the world of the dead, from the clutches of the abyssal planes placed wards of magic, Spiritum and their reverses on him, he has the appearance of what he is because no one knows how to call forth the name of fire."

"The name of fire?"

"When someone in your world casts fire he or she is interpreting it, gives it a name and casts it. To actually, call forth fire you must understand it, you must understand all that it is, everything that it can and cannot do, and nothing for like all things it comes from the void. Weird how something so lifeless can give birth to all the abundance of life as you know it including you."

"Are you fire?"

"No, I am void. I am all, I am everything I am nothing."

"All that fire is, can and cannot do and nothing…and I suspect that I must…weave all that into a name?"

"No, not "a" name. "The" name. Fire like all things only has one name but mortals do not know it and do not understand it, and so they create infinite variations of interpretations."

"Like the prophesy? Interpreting possibilities?"

The entity did not reply as fast as before. "You understand more than your father ever did, but do you know that you do? Call forth my name and Will it so. Will fire and the being you call Naire cannot withstand you."

"To use yesterday magic speak intent and will doom…" Aer'andil whispered and closed his eyes. "I will not allow Naire, Gilthian or their Master anywhere close to those I love and care about in Gel'anr…" He felt different, he felt like something burning in his chest. "They killed my father….my kin….I will end them." He thought of fire, everything he could think of that could describe it, all that fire could do, physically, metaphorically, philosophically, the good, the bad, and how much of nothing he actually knew of that simple yet complex phenomenon and he opened his eyes. He was no longer in that place. He was back in Eri'Adar. For a second he wondered if his body had actually ever left or if it had all been in his mind.

Opening his eyes he saw before him Naire dismounted dusting his black armoured robes, off to his right Fundor killing Droholost by breathing fire down the enemy dragon's throat, his forelegs holding the mouth open and his hind legs holding the enemy dragon's forelegs away from his exposed underbelly. Lucas on top of Fundor hacked with his swords at Droholost's wings with a teary furious look on his face.

He spoke a word, one single word encompassing all, everything and nothing of what fire is. Lucas heard Aer'andil speak and in a language, he could not understand then in a bewildered, surprised amazement he, Feldon and all friendly forces nearby or on the walls saw the air around him pulsate before in the blink of an eye starting from his chest Aer'andil became fire.

It was not like a fire wizard's enflamed spell. He had was not surrounded or covered by fire. He had become fire. Pure white fire with red where his hair were before and blue were his eyes had been.

"How…how can that be…? The pain of your father's death, Droholost's fire, why are you not dead?" Naire asked. Lucas could not believe it but the Dark General, whatever he was, sounded afraid.

The ground beneath his feet burned as he took a step forward and steadied himself. "You cannot kill one such as I with fire, prepare to die Naire Oira or should I say…Ybrilth, fourth son of house Beden of Nakesh."

"You cannot harm me with fire. How can you possibly know my name? I cast it off for the service of the nameless one thousands of years ago!" Naire said the fear in his voice now evident to all.

"You are no creature of fire, Naire, nor are you a wizard of fire. He would never have never given you that much power. You are an abomination of black magic and dark spiritum having learned some incantations and enchantments." Aer'andil spoke in a voice his own but not his own.

Before Naire could reply, Aer'andil spoke again. "Your Darkness no longer shall touch Eri'Adar." He said and stretched his hands outwards on his sides.

"Wall of fire." He said in that language no one, not even Lucas could understand. Lucas could see the energy, fire, going from his center to his hands. The ground shook and the air combusted around him. Emanating from him a wall of fire, higher than the walls of Eri'Adar, extended to his sides encircling the city. Every soldier of Zah Dah caught in it vaporised instantly by the intense heat. Lucas, Feldon, the soldiers of Eri'Adar on the other hand did not even feel the heat of the flames. To them they were as cool as the morning breeze.

"Naire Oira, Ybrilth Beden, today you die for good, be gone from this world." He told Naire and extended a hand to his front. "Death by fire. Buuuuuurn!" Lucas half expected something to shoot out from his hand but nothing happened for a second then Naire burst into white flames screaming and screeching. Then he was gone, ashes in the wind. As with the wolves that had attacked them before the Elven isles, and many other creatures after a dark shadow tried to escape but the white flames caught it killing it.

Keeping his hand outstretched, Aer'andil spoke again. "Explode." Ten massive explosions shot up in the sky, the ground quaking beneath their feet, causing both horses and Orkhavocs to run away in terror. He had caused the underground volatile substance Merdoc had spoken of to erupt sending rocks, soil and ash high in the sky along with anything caught on top of the trapdoors. The fire from the trapdoors circled the city within their ten moats killing all in their path.

Next Aer'andil raised his right leg bringing it down with a force, "Heal." He said. The ground below him melted and a river of liquid fire shot outwards. No one knew what was going on but Aer'andil knew the liquid fire would close the gaps caused by the underground explosions and then solidify into rock and he knew that it would happen within minutes.

He looked back to his best friend and then back towards Eri'Adar.

"Men of Eri'Adar, fear not the cleansing flames, they will harm no one who is not working for the Darkness of Zah Dah, charge forth and slay all who do." He said, his voice magically enhanced and heard throughout the city and battlefield.

The soldiers looked at each other not knowing what to do, their instincts told them not to walk through the wall of white fire before them. "Charge, men! Fear not for we walk in the light!" Merdoc said and jumped through the wall of fire. The men expected to see him burn alive but instead they saw him landing across it.

Feldon stood up, the pain gone, and without a single word charged at the enemies closest to him.

The army of Yaria was trying to flee but Valadosh and the silver legion would not let them.

In a rising wave of humanity, one by one the soldiers of Eri'Adar jumped through the wall of fire cheering and screaming. The men working for Zah Dah, the Orkhavocs were trying to retreat. The tables had turned.

"Let none of the dogs of Zah Dah, return back home, kill them all." Aer'andil told the friendly soldiers then he brought his hand up above his head and spoke lowering it as if he was giving a signal to attack to someone.

"Army of fire." From the fiery wall shapes begun to materialise, then huge horses of white and red fire jumped out, followed by even bigger phoenixes and other birds.

It was no longer a battle but a slaughter. The enemy soldiers be it men or Orkhavocs were not fast enough to escape the charging cavalry, the sweeping dragons and the army of fire chasing them.

When it was all done Aer'andil spoke again. "Extinguish fire." In an instant, all fire was extinguished. The army, the wall, the burning buildings in the city, everything aflame was put out. Smoke was a sad reminder of what had just come to pass.

Lucas had not moved an inch since he saw his friend burst into flames. He could not believe what had just happened, and to boot the person who he had known all his life had just spoken a language he could not comprehend.

Before Lucas could even begin to process, his friend stood before him as naked as the day he was born. Whatever he had done or by Droholost's flames may not have harmed him but his clothes had been burned to a crisp. Only his bow, the one his father had made him was still in one piece.

He dismounted Fundor still ravaging Droholost's dead remains releasing whatever hatred remained of his father and Droholost's betrayal to his kin.

"Marco…are…are you okay? What happened?" Aer'andil just stood there, his hands on his sides rocking back and forth, his pupils dilated. It was as if he was not there. Lucas grabbed his cape and passed it around Aer'andil's body covering him up. The ground where they stood was burned white.

"If only I could understand how…or why…father…" Aer'andil mumbled. Lucas did not have the faintest idea of what Aer'andil meant. "Marco…" He rocked him from his shoulders gently.

Aer'andil turned his head slowly and smiled. "I am…okay…I guess I am the High-King now huh?" Aer'andil stated in a hushed voice.

"Marco…I…" Lucas tried to convey his condolences to his best friend but Aer'andil cut him off.

"I know." He hugged his friend for a while.

"Aer'andil…are you okay?" Segaru's voice came from behind them. They turned to see him sheathing his blade looking a mixture of worried and awed.

"I am alive, I will be okay." Aer'andil said and looked to Feldon. "Lucas, Feldon, come with me." He told them and walked to the commander of the unknown army.

The commander saw him coming and dismounted removing his helmet.

They all took notice of his darker skin. It reminded Aer'andil and Marco of Middle Eastern descent people.

"Ij gul y kivigh nar y adul" The man spoke to him. Aer'andil looked at Lucas who translated it as, "You are a mighty warrior for a kid…or child both are good I think." Lucas noted unsure if the man meant kid or child.

"I thank you for your words, you and your men are welcome in Gel' home, tell your men to come inside the city and rest their horses and themselves…I need rest but we have much to talk about."

Lucas translated and the man nodded his approval. He pointed to himself, "Virkahindir."

"Aer'andil." Aer'andil told him touching his chest. Virkahindir nodded with a smile. Crown Prince Valadosh approached with two of the silver legion. They carried four prisoners with them, four Orkhavocs, chained and bound. The moment Virkahindir saw the four Orkhavocs he drew his blade. In the blink of an eye, six out of the ten legion soldiers were aiming their spears at him.

"No, wait, he means your Prince no harm, he is after the Orkhavocs but he cannot have them." Aer'andil said and using his fingers, he lowered Virkahindir's sword.

"Lucas, tell him. They are the…guests of Gel'anr and to harm them is to harm me…I think he saw what happens to someone who harms me."

"Marco...? They are the enemy."

"No, they are not dead by The Fire therefore they may be like Fundor. At the very least, they intrigue me so they are not to be harmed in any way unless they try to escape or harm someone. Translate to Virkahindir." Aer'andil told Lucas.

Lucas translated to Virkahindir who even though obviously did not agree sheathed his weapon keeping his distance from the captured Orkhavocs.

Aer'andil walked in front of the captives and looked at them. "Lucas…translate to them. I am Aer'andil of Gel'anr. Cr…High-King of all Elves. You are going to be transferred to Gel'Glidorn, island of the bear Elves, where you will learn the languages of the people of Valana and the Elves, you will learn of our customs, our laws, organisation and discipline as well as our history or at least part of it. When your education will finish you will be given safe passage back to your land…wherever it may be. Resist and you will be killed." Lucas translated to the Orkhavocs.

The largest of them looked at him, studying him from head to toe. He spoke in his language. It was very guttural almost like Virkahindir's but deeper and with a heavier accent.

"He is Glogak, son of Krivak a general from one of their cities. He says that he has never seen anything like what you did and that he never wanted to follow Bashrak. He appears to be the Orkhavoc General who brought them all here. Also something about not wanting to slaughter in the name of Elaria's bane and her Master of the land where the shadows lie…I'm guessing that's Zah Dah…could she be another Dark General?" Lucas translated.

Feldon seemed to eye Glogak with increased interest when he spoke of Elaria's bane.

"He says that they will not resist and that his father and he have long believed that the warring with the humans of Elaria should stop and his people to change their ways." Lucas continued. "They will go to Gel'Glidorn and learn what they can from your people so that they can go back and end the cycle of violence that has lasted more than a few hundred thousand years. That everyone thinks Orkhavocs to be mindless stupid beasts that only care about war and slaughter but they have never thought to learn of them and their customs."

Aer'andil made a small bow and turned to Feldon while Lucas translated what had transpired to Virkahindir. The soldiers of the silver legion took the Orkhavocs away but after the dialogue between the Orkhavocs and Aer'andil, they seemed a lot more relaxed.

"You are your father's son. He would have been proud. Now though one challenge stands before we can go to Zah Dah my King. You must gain the allegiance of the Kings of men and Elves. They are without a commander in chief and if you don't find a way to pull them together the combined army will fracture." Feldon told him kneeling down.

"Feldon…get up…and what about you?" Aer'andil said embarrassed at the much older Elf kneeling before him.

"You had my allegiance before you were even High-King, it is only strengthened now." Feldon looked straight in his eyes and spoke in a solemn voice.

"How do I do that then? How do I gain the allegiance of the Kings of men and Elves?" Aer'andil asked perplexed.

Feldon stood up and placed a hand on his shoulder. "I have no doubt that when you will have to, you will find a way like you did to inspire the soldiers of Eri'Adar and to end the siege. Follow your instincts and that passion inside you burning bright and you will have no problem." Aer'andil nodded trying to smile.

"When will I have to?"

"I will contact King Lados, he is the second in command, and tell him to sit tight and wait for a day or two while you rest, then we will have a war council from a distance but for now go sleep. We all need sleep now more than ever."

"I agree. My King, it is good to see you again! Eri'Adar stands with you!" Commander General Merdoc told Feldon originally and Valadosh after bowing before his new king.

"King? So my father…" Valadosh asked.

"Yes, I am sorry my Lord but I was unable to save your father from Councilor Gothral. Thankfully Feldon killed him and his puppet Commander General Batril."

"I hope his remains have been taken care of whereas the other two are left out to rot?" Valadosh asked.

"Yes, my King. Your father's remains have been prepared and taken to the royal crypt. The remains of those two were thrown out of the walls, no burial for traitors of the kingdom." General Commander Merdoc responded.

"Good, we all need rest and have much to discuss after. Split the men into groups so that they change every five hours for the first day and eight hours after that. I want to start the cleaning of the city and the repairs as soon as possible and I want no looting whatsoever. Looters are to be killed on the spot. The civilians are in the underground tunnels?" Valadosh told Merdoc.

"Yes, sir. They were told to go to the mountains and wait there."

"Good, send someone to get them back. The fire cleaned out the city and the battlefield of all enemy corpses I see. We still need to clear out the ruins of the walls, rebuild the roads, clean out the swords and stuff left by the defeated army and patrol for raiders coming from the south and west, Raeri and Elandros will have to wait for a few days for us to rebuild and secure the Capital. Have our men buried, I want full honours for them they gave their lives in the defense of the city against the Darkness. Let the civilians return and see if they can recognise their fallen if, the soldiers and you cannot. I am going to bury my father next to my sister in the royal crypts and get some sleep. Dismissed General Commander." Valadosh told him and turned to his dragon.

"Not a word Valadosh. I am staying with you, my place is here." The she-dragon told him before he could even speak.

Valadosh chuckled and nodded his head to the large reptile placing a hand on her neck for a moment and rubbing her under her scales there. Aer'andil would not have thought it possible that a dragon could or would purr like a kitten and yet here before him the ground and his chest shook from the vibrations of her purring.

An hour later, he was asleep. He woke up with a headache, product of not having slept for almost a week, all that adrenaline pumping in his system, having to fight to stay alive, seeing friendly soldiers, men and women die around him, having to slay to remain alive and finally the conclusive result of the battle. He got up and got dressed, wearing the circlet of the Crown Prince on his head and walked outside to find two guards outside his door, one on each side of it. They stood on attention and saluted him.

He sighed, he would have to get used to this kind of behaviour from soldiers and later on his people when he returned to Gel'anr. He was the High-King now. The trail of thought led him to why he was now, so prematurely High-King to his people and how this had come to pass. He winced at the remembrance of it and walked down the corridor searching for the others.

"Excuse me…would you happen to know where Prince Valadosh, Feldon and my friend Lucas are?" He asked a passing servant.

The servant made a deep bow with his head and body, "My Lord, they are in the throne room. King Lucas Berandor Merol, the twins Drake and Beck, Micraal, Feldon of Gel'anr, Segaru Crown Prince of Rodenia and General Commander Merdoc are being merited for their efforts in the defense of the city by King Valadosh the Second."

"King Valadosh? When was the crowning ceremony?" Aer'andil asked surprised.

"Two days ago, my Lord."

"Two days…? I have been sleeping for two days. Why did no one wake me up?"

"Strict orders from Lord Feldon your highness. No one was to awake you or disturb you in any way."

"Thank you for the information." Aer'andil told him and headed over to the throne room. A guard opened the doors for him. Everyone in the room turned their heads to see who it was disturbing the ceremony and everyone including King Valadosh made a bow realising who he was.

"High-King Aer'andil, son of Liandras, of Gel'anr, of the Lineage of Glothoin." King Valadosh spoke. "Eri'Adar would like to thank you for your effort in its defense. You have come just in time." He motioned for Aer'andil to a spot next to Feldon. "We had hoped you would wake up in time for the ceremony. Now you can be merited as well."

Aer'andil walked to the spot indicated by the King. "I thank you for your kind words King Valadosh of Eri'Adar." He said in a mechanical voice. He felt like ash was in his mouth. What was this all for? He needed no commendation for doing the obvious. If Zah Dah was allowed to win here or the war it would spell doom for everyone so why the hustle. Was making such idiotic ceremonies part of being a leader? Commending and rewarding the soldiers for giving their lives in defense of their home, he could understand but he doubted Valadosh commended him and the others because of that. He was putting on a show for the people to see and the foreign leaders to feel honoured. He stood there throughout the ceremony looking down at the floor thinking.

When his time came, he walked to Valadosh and tried smiling at the audience as the medal was placed on his torso.

When the ceremony finished King Valadosh allowed them some time to mingle and for the Royal court to gossip about before dismissing the nobles.

"We need to discuss what to do next, follow me to the war room please." He told them and started walking to the war room.

They all followed him including Virkahindir.

They walked to the war room. The same room Feldon had slain the Counsilor and the General Commander puppet.

The doors closed behind them and Valadosh spoke to them.

"We sustained heavy loses, the Eri'Adar army is almost decimated, and I need them to guard the city while it is rebuild and the walls repaired. The silver legion has already departed for Yaria. They are to decimate the city for colluding and allying themselves with Zah Dah." Valadosh said.

"Their civilians…." Beck whispered.

"They pay the price of the sins of their liege lords. After the silver legion is done with that, I can send them to Zah Dah. Of the Eri'Adar army, I can spare you no more than one thousand soldiers. Commander Merdoc will lead them. I have already dispatched an emissary to Fadr with a missive that henceforth Eri'Adar will have no trade relations with them whatsoever for electing to remain neutral against the Darkness of Zah Dah." He told them and then turned his attention to Virkahindir.

"King Lucas if you will please translate." He paused for a moment. "General Virkahindir, if you will answer me I have questions for thee." Valadosh waited for Lucas to translate and then tell him the General's response.

"He will answer what he can." Lucas told Valadosh.

"Where do you come from? The colours of your army, your language, they are all foreign to us."

Lucas translated Virkahindir's reply. "We come from a land south of this one, we came by large ship. I am from a city of men called Oghelle. Oghelle is at the borders with Orkhavoc territory and we have fought them for millennia."

"South of here? South of here lies only water and the end of the world." Valadosh said bewildered.

Aer'andil looked at Lucas knowing what Virkahindir meant. Lucas spoke first.

"King Valadosh, I know this will come as a shock but…south of Valana there is not the end of the world but more land. I do not know how far but beyond the south sea, there lies another landmass, probably as large if not larger than Valana. The archipelagos of Vaser where the dragons come from, Oghelle, it all lies there somewhere." Lucas told not just Valadosh but everyone in the room except Aer'andil who like him already knew of this with his knowledge of Earth, planets, and continents.

"I…I guess there is always something learn. In any case, Eri'Adar is thankful for your assistance against the army of Zah Dah, and I would like to propose to you a trade offer between our kingdoms."

"He says that he is honoured by your words and he asks what Oghelle could trade with a land so far away."

"More pampering of words, Valadosh said nothing for which Virkahindir could feel so honoured." Aer'andil thought.

"Distance is of no importance, we can trade in all manner of items, knowledge, weapons, materials. I am sure the merchants' guild of Eri'Adar and Oghelle can come to some sort of arrangement that will profit both kingdoms." Valadosh replied.

"Virkahindir says that if the Orkhavoc prisoners are given to him he…" Aer'andil interrupted him.

"King Valadosh has no claim or authority over the prisoners, I do, Gel'anr does, and anyone who lays so much as a finger on them might as well declare war on all Elves." Aer'andil said with a face void of emotion.

Lucas translated to Virkahindir who nodded. "Virkahindir says that he will respect the child King and will sit down after the war is over and discuss terms with your merchants' guild." Valadosh smiled.

"I do not know what terms the guild will discuss with you but as the Crown and the Kingdom I have but one request. Exclusivity of trade. Your kingdom trades only with Eri'Adar and no one else. Any breach of this clause can and will be considered an act of war against Oghelle and the city of Valana that traded with Oghelle. Our army may be damaged now but in less than a decade it will stand strong again and stronger than before." Valadosh said crossing his hands in front of his chest.

"Virkahindir agrees."

"This is preposterous! Rodenia has…" Segaru begun to protest but a look from Valadosh shut him up.

"Rodenia has what? Helped Eri'Adar in this fight because your army fights with the elves in the north? Or because you are here? I care not of Rodenia. Let your king do what is best for your country I will do what is best for mine." Valadosh told him and turned his gaze to Aer'andil, "I will…ask you not to speak like this in my war room when "your" prisoners are still inside my Kingdom.

Lucas felt the hair on the back of his head, stand on attention. Valadosh was poking power beyond his understanding and Lucas knew it.

"I will not explain myself to a human and the authority of the High-King of all elves surpasses even you even inside your own city. I will take your thousand men and whatever fleet of ships you can spare to transport us across the sea to Zah Dah." Aer'andil responded in a tone of bitterness and authority that Lucas did not know he possessed.

"We have no ships to spare. Eri'Adar's navy was decimated by Throngul, the admiral of Zah Dah…" Aer'andil cut off Valadosh.

"Commandeer the commercial fleet. General Virkahindir I assume that your ships stand by somewhere close?"

"He says yes and his army is eager to fight Zah Dah. He also says that they destroyed most of the enemy fleet on their way here to Valana." Lucas translated.

"Eri'Adar's armada could not…what manner of ships you possess to destroy Throngul's fleet?" Valadosh asked in awe.

Virkahindir grinned and shrugged his shoulders.

"Perhaps too eager, who is this mysterious Dark General…Elaria's bane...?" Aer'andil thought to himself.

Aer'andil made to leave the room, "Aer'andil, I need you outside the main gates in no more than two hours. It can wait no longer the Kings of men and Elves must swear fealty to you and you need to convince them they must. The army needs direction and will. Lucas, Merol you two should also be there." Feldon told him. Aer'andil nodded.

"Lucas…I want to talk to you in private." Aer'andil told Lucas.

"Should we not be there as well?" Merol stated more than asking.

"No." Aer'andil said and they left the room. They walked to Aer'andil's room where they prepared a plan of attack against Zah Dah.

Aer'andil left the room just as Micraal approached.

He walked out of the palace with his two guards shadowing him everywhere.

Walking through the city, he could see the widespread destruction, ruins and dead bodies still littering the urban landscape of Eri'Adar. There was also hope though, the citizens of Eri'Adar had returned and worked on rebuilding, rebuilding their city and mourning their dead. Some children were playing on the broken road when they saw him approach.

One of them, a young girl run to him and stretched out her hand, in the palm of her hand a stone.

"You are the Elven King aren't you? Thank you for protecting my daddy and mama." Aer'andil took the stone from her giving her a smile. She beamed at him and ran back to the other children.

Aer'andil stood up and turned to his shadow guardians.

"What is this custom?" He asked them showing them the stone.

"It is tradition in Eri'Adar, my lord to give a piece of rabble to someone who helped you defend your house even if it did not make it. It is a silly yet…affectionate superstition to drive away any evil spirits and thank those that helped you by giving them a piece of your house, for them to carry with them and remember their good deed." One of the two soldiers told him.

He pocketed the piece of rabble and continued walking to the city's main gates.

The silver legion and Virkahindir's army had made camp outside the city with the soldiers patrolling the streets in the city and roads outside the city for marauders and pillagers. Slowly scaffoldings were erecting all over the city with wooden cranes to rebuild.

The soldiers on the gates opened them for him.

"Feldon…" He greeted his mentor who nodded his head.

"You are here, Merol is here, where is Lucas? No matter we cannot delay this any longer." Feldon said and standing behind Aer'andil, he moved his right hand rightwards speaking in Elvish.

The air parted and a large mirror like image appeared. The mirror like spell shimmered and the figures of the Kings of Men and Elves appeared, they looked to be outside as well with tents surrounding them.

Aer'andil took a breath and looking straight in the mirror, he started speaking.

"Kings of Men and Elves, Zah Dah has been dealt a blow with the victory in Eri'Adar but my father's death weighs heavily on us…on me. We must march to Zah Dah immediately and lay it to ruin before they can regroup and attack anew. I am here to tell you of the plan of at…" The King of Batorn cut him off.

"Who are you to give us orders you are not ev…" He did not have the time to finish what he was saying as Aer'andil interrupted him, his face a portrait of cold fury with rage bubbling below the surface.

"Who am I…? I am Aer'andil son of Liandras son of Urelas son of Heldon son of Thruidil son of Xandthlon son of Qerelon son of Berelos daughter of Lamerid son of Yolos son of Imradol son of Teranas son of Glidaros son of Glidarathon daughter of Vedaron son of Nadraoth son of Calaoth son of Malaroth son of Saradol son of Feluin daughter of Ladrathlos son of Domothin son of Ianothlorin son of Aarathloy daughter of Karadlos son of Menthral daughter of Fingoril son of Derenia daughter of Fadlas son of Tereniath son Ventral daughter of Eoen daughter of Rimbral son of Otaral son of Padra daughter of Glothoin. I am the rightful heir to the throne of Gel'anr, High-King of all Elves and Elven lands, commander in chief of the combined host of Elves and Men against the Darkness of Zah Dah and if I cannot your respect I will have your silence." Aer'andil finished saying with a finger pointing behind Locifar indicating him that if he could not stay silent and swear his fealty to him he should leave. Locifar stayed silent even if he looked murderous.

Feldon grinned openly, "Thel Anasol'Felirias! Thel endiron! Thel Glothoin!" He shouted. The Kings of Elves repeated just as loud kneeling before him.

"You are ready. You are your father's son." Feldon thought pleased.

Aer'andil waited for them to rise before laying down his and Lucas' plans of attack. When it was all said and done the Kings agreed and the orders passed down to the officers Feldon terminated the spell.

"Where is Lucas, I expected he'd be here for this?" Aer'andil asked.

Merol was about to answer him when another mirror opened in front of them, a hideous language spilling forth in a voice of death and misery, hollow and whisper-like.

"Greetings son of Glothoin, hail thy father's slayer. I am the true Master of Zah Dah, of the Lands of Shadows and Darkness. Come then to my citadel of misery and pain, your friend and I await you eagerly. He shall die and you will open doom for me." The voice behind the mask told them and the mirror shattered.

"Lucas, find him!" Aer'andil told the guards in sheer despair and white with fear. They nodded and called out more soldiers giving them orders. Merol and Feldon joined them.

"Bar the gates, and place soldiers on all the locations where the walls are ruined. I want the city searched from top to bottom." Merol told them. Soon enough the whole city was abuzz with yells of Lucas' name.

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