The Chronicles of Valana Volume 1: Shadowlands

by AB

Chapter 14


"Splitting up the army…whose idea was that?" Tanaros Ulen was the child of one of the families of the lesser nobility of Batorn. His family made their living in the royal court by leeching off the higher aristocracy's good graces like many of the other lesser aristocracy families. Tanaros had not wanted to join the army of Batorn but his father had been adamant about it. He wanted Tanaros to rise through the ranks and be the commander of the army one day. It was not happening. Tanaros was constantly arguing, fighting and doubting every order that came his way.

"Enough of this Tanaros, the orders came from the chain of command. We are soldiers we will follow them." One of the other soldiers tried to shut him up. They had quickly grown tired of his ranting.

The army of Batorn, the army of the bear Elves and the army of Lavonia, archers, heavy infantry and magicians had been split from the main army and travelling by boats across the sea to Varania's shores across from the blood marches.

"This makes no sense, why not just march against the retreating army together and crash them?" Tanaros continued sat in one of the boats.

"Because the High-King of the Elves, Aer'andil, commanded our King, our King commanded the commander of the army, the commander of the army commanded our officers and our officers commanded us. We are soldiers and we follow orders, we are not paid to think." The other soldier was fast becoming frustrated, again, with Tanaros.

"But it…" Tanaros was cut off violently.

"Shut the fuck up already! I am not interested, we are not interested, this is what the army is, follow the orders or quit your charge this instant. We no longer want or care for your constant bullshit." The soldier had finally had enough as he yelled at Tanaros. Tanaros shut his mouth and sat quietly.

A few minutes later a red signal light rose over them from one of the leading boats. The boats started coming together until they touched each other. A voice boomed over all of them. The voice of King Hodrelth, King of the bear Elves.

"Soldiers, we will soon reach the shores of Varania. When the boats come ashore, you are to make for dry land and create tight lines. We are to break the enemy's line and blockade them from passing through Stader's neck. The Elves have a surprise in store for the army of Zah Dah, thus the army of Batorn will have to provide cover for the army of Dol'Anro when the blue signal is given. Archers and magicians are to provide cover and healing for the army of Batorn." The Bear-King said and fell silent. Not a half an hour later Tanaros felt the boat rock under him as it ground against the pebbles of the shore. The moment the boats stopped moving a flurry of movement and chaos ensued as the soldiers jumped out of them and made their way to the inner beach forming ranks.

They could hear the noises and sounds in the near distance, the retreating army of Zah Dah made as they moved through the landscape.

"Army, steady march." Hodrelth ordered them and in a synchronous movement, they started their march towards the enemy army.

Tanaros could hear the noises coming closer and closer until he could see the enemy soldiers, beasts and all manner of beings of Darkness under the moonlight.

"Spears." Hodrelth said and the front lines of the combined army lowered their spears in a phalanx-like formation, bringing their kite shields upper closer to their chests and faces.

The enemy soldiers closer to them heard the command and bellowing a horrid screech they changed their direction, now coming at them.

"Diamond formation!" Hodrelth ordered and the combined army changed from lines to a diamond formation, Dol'Anro's heavy infantry with swords on the outside, spears right behind them like a porcupine, archers, officers and magicians on the inside.

The magicians started casting spells to protect them from any manner of missile that the enemy would launch at them to destroy their weaker center.

In this, diamond formation the army would be able to walk to block off the tight passage of land called Stader's neck and protect its flanks with weapons on all sides and magicians and archers firing from the inside.

The battle ensued and wave after wave of enemy soldiers came crashing on their outer layers only to be hacked down by sword, spear, spell and arrow alike. Tanaros holding a spear had to admit on the strength and agility of the bear Elves.

He saw an elven soldier near him grab a towering two meters high Karatal from the neck, throw it on the ground as if it weighted nothing and swiftly decapitate it. Another Karatal fell on them tearing spears apart as it made its way closer to them. Tanaros yelled in fear and stabbed at it with his spear. He found his mark stabbing it clean through the left shoulder. The Karatal stood a moment, looked at his wound, grabbed the spear shaft and broke it off before charging at them anew.

"Sorry brother, you are too irritating for me to give my life for you. Worry not though the marriage to your sister will help rise my family's name higher in the aristocracy." He heard a voice whispering in his ear, in the heat of battle he was the only one that heard it before he was shoved forward. He only had time to question in his mind what had just and why it happened before the Karatal killed him. His spot covered in an instant by a soldier from the inner line.

An hour later, the army was blocking off Stader's neck, cutting of Zah Dah's retreat route. The battle continued fierce until they saw the main host come behind the retreating army of Zah Dah and hold its ground just off Stader's neck,

The blue signal came and the Elves retreated inside the diamond with the soldiers of Batorn closing in ranks.

The Elves on both sides of the Stader's neck pass started singing.

At first, nothing happened then slowly the sea on either side of the pass started vibrating. The Elves' voices rose to the heavens and the ground trembled and cracked.

"Hold on to something!" The Batorn Commander of the army said just as a huge wave swept over the pass from one side to the other, carrying away enemy soldiers to their death.

"What is happening sir?" One of the soldiers asked as he killed a maravi and looked at the tight point of the pass were the enemy army had been cornered in.

"The Elves can shape reality with their voices, bend it and create it. They can also alter it to their will. Bend your knees and create a better center of weight or you'll all fall." The commander and hunched down killing a maravi by twisting its neck.

The water turned to molten rock and rose until it covered the pass, the heat almost becoming unbearable when it became water again and subsided. Every soldier that was not a creature of darkness was dead or dying.

"Creatures of Darkness don't die by fire or water!" The Commander yelled turning his head behind to see the Bear-King who without stopping the singing grinned and winked at him.

Seeing a thirty two thousand and some change years old King of Elves grin and wink at him had a profound effect on the young commander.

The sun shinned above them, sending down his rays of light.

The Elves looked up and sang to the sun and the skies. It was not much later that through the clouds godrays started forming and gathering to the center of Stader's neck. Not long after that, the sunbeam concentrated and tightened its radius like a huge pillar of light burning everything on its path. The remaining army of Zah Dah tried in vain to escape only to fall upon blades and magic.

The Elves stopped singing and like an antipodal force countering the extreme sunlight concentrated in one place rain broke out of nowhere with lightning splitting the sky.

Everything fell silent for a while as the humans, who had never witnessed such a sight before, processed what had just happened.

"Why in the name of all that is good if you can do this, you did not do so in the previous fight? Or in every other fight before?" The Commander of the army of Batorn asked the bear-King with an incredulous look on his face.

"Because…" Hodrelth spoke as he sat down on the ground. "after we finish singing we feel completely drained and unable to use magic and because we must be careful when, how and where we sing anything in this way. Here our singing only changed the course of the battle and maybe killed some fish below the sea. Had we done this near lake Natlarn calamity could have struck even if not immediately. The blood marches, source of food and water for Varania, Lavonia and even partly Eri'Adar and Yaria, could have been damaged beyond repair, flooded and burned with countless animals and living beings dead. The rivers Lavor, Astorn and Black river in the south could have flooded damaging crops and villages near them. If the floods were to be strong enough they could even reach Lavonia and leave countless without a home or dead. We always need to be weary of what we sing where and when before we do if we don't want to cause a larger evil than the one we want to fight." The Commander said nothing. Instead, he bowed to the bear-King and started inspecting his men.

Eri'Adar a few days ago.

He had just finished talking with his friend laying down the battle plan for the battle in the north and then Zah Dah. Aer'andil had just left. He just sat there thinking everything that had transpired the last year, from their arrival at Valana to the Elven islands, to Dara, to here. All the revelations along the way and what he had told Marco in the firefly forest. His thoughts drifted to his new friends and to Micraal in particular. He had no idea when exactly it had happened but he had developed a crush on the boy.

He had seen enough death the last few days to last for a lifetime so he decided to go against his usual self and go talk to Micraal.

He found Micraal in his room. He knocked and entered. Micraal looked at him and smiled.

"Hey…I was wondering if we could talk…for a bit?" Lucas asked him feeling nervous.

"Sure, anything I can do for you?" Micraal asked him sitting on the bed.

Lucas sat next to him and toyed with his fingers, his hands on his lap.

"What is it? I…" Lucas cut him off.

"I think…I…uhm…I think I have a crush on you…" Lucas told him blushing.

"Crush…?" Micraal asked unsure of what Lucas meant.

"Oh…right you don't know….not from Earth…then again neither am I apparently…" Lucas mumbled before looking Micraal in the eyes. "I sort of have…am...developing feelings for you….you know…of the romantic nature." Lucas' face turned bright crimson. Micraal placed a hand on his and leaned in for a kiss. Lucas kissed him back enjoying the boy's smell, the texture of the moist, ruby lips and taste of his tongue.

Micraal's hand worked its way to his boydick and jerked him off for a while. Lucas moaned softly when Micraal broke the kiss and stood up. "Follow me, I know of a private place we can have fun without the fear of getting caught." He told him and holding his hand, he raised him to his feet.

"Why not here, it is private enough?" Lucas enquired all flushed and vulnerable-looking.

"No, here it is not very private. Anyone can get in the door and disturb us. I know of a place from my time in the streets where no one will find us for as long as we want." Micraal told him and kissed him again running his hands all over his private region.

Lucas gasped and nodded.

Holding his hand in his Micraal led him outside the Royal Palace.

Eri'Adar present day.

Merol unsheathed his sword and pointed it at Segaru. "Where is my son!?" He asked Segaru, enraged, his eyes almost in tears.

"I have just found him when I thought him dead. I am not losing him again!" Merol yelled at a stunned Segaru.

"What? How should I know?" Segaru asked panicked flailing his hands around in front of the sword.

The search had gone on for three days without finding Lucas. Segaru appeared on the end of the second day holding his head looking dazed. Merol had ordered him arrested and thrown in the Royal Palace's prison.

"The hell you don't! You go missing for two days the same time my son gets kidnapped by that MONSTER in Zah Dah."

"I still have a headache. I have no memory of what happened…." Segaru stopped mid-sentence when Merol pressed the edge of his sword on his neck.

Feldon and the others did not dare go any closer as Merol's rage had surpassed dangerous levels. "Merol, you, we have no proof of Segaru's guilt. Yes it does look bad for him but there are other explanations possible." Feldon tried to calm Merol down.

"What other explanations? What would you do if Norion had been taken away from you by force?" Merol rebuked him. Segaru whimpered not even trying to move or talk.

"What I would do is of no importance now. We have a way to prove or disprove his innocence." Feldon continued. Aer'andil, the twins and Merdoc stayed behind Feldon not wanting to provoke Merol into any rush action.

"What way?" Merol asked without removing the sword's edge from Segaru's neck.

"The stone…the stone my father gave him…what was it he told Segaru that day?" Aer'andil thought for a moment and then looked up again at Segaru's direction. "When you are ready to speak truth without inhibition or fear of the result the box will open of its own. If you are not ready now you never will be." He told the boy.

Segaru looked at him scared out of his mind, "I tried opening it before Gel Valir…it wouldn't open…"

"You have nothing left to lose Segaru, if this war is lost your wealth, your title, your crown, your country, family and friends. Everyone you have ever known or loved will die. If you do not speak the absolute truth, today in a manner that will have Merol believe you are telling the truth he will kill you and there is nothing we can do about it. If Olan kills Lucas, all is lost. What have you got to lose? Your life is almost forfeit."

"So…all I must do is be prepared to answer any question without fear or inhibition and the box will open? Fine I can do that. I am ready to do that so long as General Commander Merdoc leaves the room. I won't have him asking any questions about Rodenia's defenses or anything like that." Segaru said in a scared but unwavering voice.

"Fine, General Commander if you would please leave." Aer'andil asked Merdoc who did not protest. He made a small bow of his head and left the jail cell walking down the corridor.

"I am ready." Segaru said holding the box in his open hand. The box cracked and opened before melting onto the floor. Wood made into liquid.

A translucent jade orb floated on the palm of his hand. "How is that a stone?" Drake asked.

"Nial magic is older and stranger than anything currently existing in this world outside of the Elven isles. Few even remember or know anymore of how it was created even if most of the knowledge of that age is in the libraries and houses of memories in the elven islands." Feldon answered him.

"So what must I do?" Segaru asked uncertain of what to do next.

"Clench your fist I think." Feldon told him. Segaru closed his fist and squeezed as hard as he could. There was a yellow burst of energy and the orb was absorbed into his skin.

Segaru opened his eyes, having closed them when the burst of energy released from his clenching fist. "I don't feel any different how doe…" Aer'andil interrupted him.

"How many girls have you had sex with?" He saw at the look of terror from Segaru and the one of question from Feldon. "What? We need to establish that he can't lie, an aristocrat like him would never tell the truth if it…belittled him and would embellish it if it did." He told Feldon and looked expectantly at Segaru.

"Yes…once…she...she was a maid, she knew I could never marry her but allowed herself to be seduced by me…"

"When did it happen and how far did you go?" Bake giggled.

"Don't answer that. Control yourselves." Feldon told them and took over the questioning.

"Are you working for the Master of Zah Dah?"

"No. I would never."

"Did you betray Lucas and us to Zah Dah?"


"Do you know where Lucas is?"

"No, but I saw him going down to the underground passages with Micraal. Lucas seemed….to be blushing when he saw me."

"Do you know who ha…?" Feldon had begun to ask when he stopped dead on his verbal tracks and looked from Segaru to Merol to Aer'andil and back to Segaru.

"Why would…" Aer'andil started asking but Feldon cut him off as Merol shot out of the room like a lightning bolt.

"You really are blind to everyone else's passion aren't you? Get your head out of Norion and Tha'ala. Lucas has been falling for Micraal ever since Gel'anr but has not had the courage to go talk to him. I guess with the battle and all the death he finally manned up…at the wrong person. We must find him. General Commander Merdoc!" Feldon told his protégé and called for the General Commander.

"Micraal knows Eri'Adar like the palm of his hand…how do we even find him anymore? He's probablYout of the city by now." Aer'andil said following Feldon out of the prison room. Merol had already left the moment he heard Segaru's mention of Lucas following Micraal.

"May not be so, we've had every exit in and out of the city blocked since day one, even the broken wall parts." Merdoc told him.

"Yeah, but Micraal was a street kid, he was living on his own in the streets of Eri'Adar since a very young age, fending for himself, having to find hiding spots from the guards and other people he might have robbed to eat and live…he is resourceful. Where might he choose to go to leave the city without being seen?"

"There is no su….oh by the spirits…the tunnels….the same tunnels we used for the civilians to leave the city for the safety of the mountains and return after the siege was over." Merdoc told him slapping a hand on his forehead at his failure to remember this alternative route in and out of the city.

"Those go into the mountains though, why would Micraal take them? He would want to go towards the sea and Zah Dah…" Aer'andil wondered aloud.

"They don't only go towards the mountains, they go to the port, they go to various points along the coast…anywhere and everywhere the merchants may want to transport cargo without anyone knowing. Some entrances and exits are only known to those that made them." Merdoc told him.

"Then…it is too late, by now they are probably at Zah Dah…." Aer'andil said in despair, his voice fading off.

"I am afraid you are right young King…" Merdoc replied nodding his head, his face showing his sorrow for the development.

"I know I am…I need to talk to your King. Feldon, prepare to depart, tell the others. We leave at dawn break. Zah Dah awaits." Aer'andil said and left for his room to pack his things. They had stayed and rested in Eri'Adar long enough and now the best friend he had in this world, Norion and Tha'ala no counting as he loved them more than life itself, was in mortal peril.

In Zah Dah present day.

He woke up chained to a wall inside a dark tight room. It was damp, stuffy and bare of anything else other than black onyx polished walls and a chain holders.

He tried moving but the chains kept him in place against the wall. He tried blinking rapidly to adjust his eyes to the darkness.

There were no windows except for a small barred one above the locked door.

He felt alone and afraid, then it all flashed back to him. He had told Micraal of having feelings for him. Micraal had taken him to a underground room or something similar where he had cast a spell, or a voice had? Lucas wasn't sure what had happened exactly but next thing he remembered was waking up here. Micraal had betrayed them.

"How long…? For how long has he been betraying us to the enemy?" Lucas wondered in his mind.

He groaned at the headache in his head.

"How long has it been…? I have no idea what day or time of day it is…" He whispered.

"You have been asleep for almost two days." A voice came from behind him.

"You are lucky I am chained to the wall Micraal. I would kill you where you stand." Lucas told Micraal standing outside the cell door.

"I…am sorry but there is no other way. He is too powerful to resist and he can give me my heart's desire. He promised that he won't hurt you if you don't resist." Micraal said in a sad voice.

"How can you even begin to trust anything that monster says? Won't hurt me? He'll kill me. He'll kill Marco, he probably wants to kill everyone you moron." Lucas replied bitterly.

"He has not lied to me yet. I didn't listen to him the previous time…and that thief killed my parents..." Micraal countered him.

"He probably had that thief kill your parents when you would not surrender to him. Just to break you. Olan is evil can't you see that?" Lucas continued.

"No, he just thinks differently than…everyone else, he…he won't betray me…" Lucas replied defensively.

"The Master wants to see him now." A woman voice spoke to Micraal behind him. The cell door opened and two adalnials removed the chains from his ankles and wrists. One chained his hands to a different chain and dragged him out. The other pushed him from behind.

Lucas fell to the floor and scrambled to his feet just as the Adalnial behind him shoved him again.

As they came to the prison's corridor, he saw that he had been stripped of all clothing except some rags to cover the most essential of parts, his weapons and runes satchel gone.

He looked around catching the Dark General at his left, Micraal behind her looking miserable and gloomy and the Adalnial in front of him. He gazed upon the Adalnial and it made his spine crawl and the hair on the back of his head, stand erect. They looked almost identical to the Elves he had seen in Qazameria and Gel'anr only…foul and corrupted. Yes, foul seemed to be a good word to describe what he saw. The Adalnial wore half-plate armour that showed part of his body, skin and face.

The skin was darker than the Elves he had seen, not darker like ebony but darker like corrupt. The skin was as if it was desiccated and with open wounds and cuts everywhere. Lucas had seen similar effects in Earth in pictures for a history lesson on medieval Europe on depictions on people with Leprosy. The Adalnial's hair and body hair appeared filthy and as if the Adalnial had not taken a bath or shower in years. The stench coming from it supported that theory. To boot it all Lucas received the worse kind of Spirit vibe emanating from it. With Elves, the vibes ranged from pure good to nature and in a way as if "creation" sprang from them. Here it ranged from pure malice, hatred and like decay was spreading out from every pore of the Adalnial's body. He was receiving much the same feeling from the whole environment. It was so overwhelming he bent over releasing the content of his stomach onto the floor.

It made the Dark General laugh. She was the female voice he had heard before.

"Yes, this place will play all sorts of havoc for one such as you, Speaker." She said with a sneer. "The spirits in his place desire malice and death." Lucas tried to turn his head around and look at her but the Adalnial behind him shoved him preventing him.

They walked in silence through the citadel's corridors.

Lucas walked as fast as he could while observing the citadel. Most of it was reworked from the original Elven construction. The grace and mastery of the Elves had almost entirely been removed and replaced with depictions intended to inspire fear and terror to whoever laid eyes upon the frescos and statues. Lucas recognised runes on the wall and some of the magic spells weaved into the stone. The corridors and rooms were sparsely lit with braziers and torches of incandescent light making their shadows dance weirdly on the floor. Black onyx stones had replaced the Elven marble and teeth-like spikes decorated the corners. The windows were rare and far between high up on the walls where Lucas would not be able to reach even under different circumstances, not chained and frog-marched through it.

Finally, they reached a black, heavy-looking, wood and metal double swinging door, guarded by two Adalnial in heavy armour holding voulge-guisarme pikes with a long-sword in a sheath around their waists. They wore red-dyed helmets on their heads with only slits for the eyes and the nostrils. The almost tapered cylindrical helmet covered everything else.

"Hana Kirvakir-thargor azguth Kig." One of the soldiers said pointing his pike at Lucas.

"The fallen spirit awaits me…?" Lucas thought. Not a second later, the soldier fell down dead without even a dying scream of anguish. Lucas took a step back surprised and terrified. He could feel a spirit of malice die inside the Adalnial, the experience made his gut tighten and he released more of his stomach's content onto the floor. The gates opened with a harrowing black light appearing from within the chamber.

"Have I not told everyone not to call me thus? Death to anyone who does." A voice as dreadful as anything Lucas had heard before spoke from within the chamber sending chilling shivers down his spine. Suddenly he did not feel as courageous or as willing to face the Master of Zah Dah as he had been a few days ago after their victory in Eri'Adar.

The Dark General laughed and grabbing him from his collar, she shoved him inside the chamber, closing the doors behind her.

"My Master, here is one of the two prophecy bearers. I Calthrinia bring him before you. What Gilthian failed to do, what Naire failed to do. I complete in your name." She said bowing down.

Lucas looked around the chamber. It was void of furniture or decorations save for a throne in the middle of the room. On it sat a hooded figure wearing a mask.

Calthrinia kicked him behind his knees making him fall on them on the floor.

"You must be Olan, Master of this land." Lucas stated trying to sound braver than he felt, his voice quivering ever so slightly.

Olan seemed to ignore him. "Calthrinia, you sabotaged the collar Gilthian was going to use, and you gave information to Daran spies about Naire's incoming attack on Eri'Adar, wanting them both to fail so that you could get the glory. I am…pleased at your cunning but displeased as you foiled my plans as well in the process. I wanted Eri'Adar destroyed and Naire's army heading to destroy the elven isles while their armies fought in the north. You may bring him in this room but Micraal brought him to you and he is my tool not yours, come in child." Olan said and the doors opened. Micraal stepped in looking afraid and yet hopeful. The doors closed behind him. Calthrinia screamed in pain.

"What can hurt a Dark General so?" Lucas wondered watching her writhe on the floor.

Calthrinia did not look pleased looking at Micraal with a look that could kill.

"S…sir…" Micraal stuttered not daring to step any closer.

"I am pleased with you and soon I will give you all that you have coming to you." Olan told Micraal and turned his gaze to Calthrinia. "You are to leave Zah Dah and head out to Elaria, go to Vodurm and then Sagathlond and work our plans until I send further orders."

Calthrinia did not answer she bowed and left.

"Yes, I am the Master of this land, of the shadowlands, of Zah Dah. I am Udala-kaagri." Olan told Lucas and then spoke to one of the Adalnial soldiers.

"Kill him." The Adalnial walked closer to Lucas and raised his sword.

Eri'Adar present day.

They arrived at the Port of Raeri. What was left of it was not much. Some burned buildings and whatever stone remnants of the walkways and docks. The bodies of the dead were everywhere. Disfigured, burned, mutilated. Aer'andil looked around in disgust and shock as they walked through the remnants of the city-port to reach the docks and the combined fleet of Oghelle and Eri'Adar.

"They have had their souls reaped from their bodies, if they are not purified within a day or two they will start to fester." Merol told General Commander Merdoc who nodded and wrote a message for the King to send the Royal Speakers.

"I am afraid that the Village at the fords of Elandros will need the same." Merol said and mounted his horse. The stench of death and decay fell heavy on them.

Feldon said nothing. His only worry was Aer'andil who had not so much as spoken when not needed the last few days. He had not smiled since the siege of Eri'Adar. He looked to be in a state of complete apathy and indifference but Feldon knew what boiled beneath the surface.

They embarked on the ships. When the armies were ready, the horses secured beneath the decks and supplies loaded into the cargo hold they waited for the high tide and left Eri'Adar behind them.

Merol was uneasy throughout the journey and no one could actually blame him. He had found his son he thought dead only to lose him again. Aer'andil knew that it was not a good time for it but it would likely never be and he had a question for him.

"Merol," Aer'andil asked him, his eyes not leaving the horison. "I've been wanting to ask you this for some time now but something has always taken my mind off of it. How did you know to be in the fords of Elandros?"

Merol took his time before answering. "After I lost Lucas…after I thought he was dead and I had buried him and his mother I left my brother as steward of Dara abdicating my throne to whoever would come forth and have the required values for it. My brother was to make that decision. Of course, I knew nothing of the prophecy and Lucas being alive so my brother who did know of all of that never chose another King, waiting patiently for your return to Valana and Dara. The memory that the seer had planted in my mind by the amnesia spell was that an evil spirit wanting to cause me pain and suffering had murdered Lucas.

"I travelled to Gel'anr and demanded from your father to forge me this blade. He did not deny me and a month later, he gave me the blade. I took the blade and left Gel'anr. For the next ten years, I travelled Valana searching for evil spirits to kill in a never-ending thirst for vengeance. Spirits, beasts of darkness, anything I could find…Almost three years ago I bit on more than I could chew. A Vag'agorn, a water daemon almost killed me. I managed to slay it but I was left half-dying. Something pulled me out of the abyss. All I remember is a pure white light and a voice of something that I can only describe as ancient beyond fathom telling me to go to south of Eri'Adar and make my home in the village by the river's fords.

"To this day I do not know what it was, it was unlike any magical or spirit aura I have ever felt and I was not about to disregard an order from something as obviously powerful as this so I made my way across Valana and found the Village by the fords of Elandros and made it my home."

Aer'andil did not look away from the horison. He nodded to Merol and closed his eyes searching for his spirit.

"That was you, wasn't it? Merol has never felt the presence of one of the Aeternae. He would not know to identify you." He probed his spirit's consciousness.

"Not me, but same. I do have an idea of what, but do not know why."

"Did it feel good…whatever saved you?" Aer'andil asked Merol without opening his eyes.

"No, yes…it is difficult to explain it, maybe because I was half dead or because it could mask its essence but it felt both good and evil and at the same time neither. It is indeed very difficult for me to explain the feeling I got from "it"."

"Thank you, Marco…Aer'andil, you were like a brother to him, are like a brother to him through thick and thin, whatever happens from here on, I want you to know that I am grateful for looking after Lucas." Merol told him in barely a whisper.

Aer'andil sighed. "To be honest…he was more there for me, looking after me with his cool logic. I was always the one to be impulsive and emotional with him thinking things through and getting me out of trouble…but thank you." He entered a meditative state again.

"I want answers." He told his spirit.

"Then ask the proper questions."

"No, enough of that. Give me the answers I ask you of." Aer'andil pushed on.

"You have not asked any questions."

"Why were I and Lucas selected?"

"The spirits had nothing to do with it."

"Enough with the interpretations. How else could my father have interpreted it?" Aer'andil was getting more emotion with each of his spirit's avoidance maneuvers.

"Find the well of knowl…." His spirit started saying.

"No. Enough, tell me what I want to know, no more riddles."

"So be it. Evil's will ancient beyond aeons, first of all, it wills after aeons. An offspring twiceborn of the Fairfolk, of high descend amongst the Fairfolk. An offspring of the Speakers, highest and first amongst the speakers. Together they shall be born, under a pale moon on the last of summer's days they shall be born.

"Evil has a will, it is ancient beyond counting. Or an evil that is ancient beyond counting will's after aeons. You determine how to interpret. First of all, could be that it is the first evil to ever rise or that its first order of business after aeons is to will. These are but two possible interpretations.

"Time is not told anywhere. The prophecy doesn't' say anywhere about time. Norion Anorion and Merol are born on the same day of the same month of the same year both are born at night. Time was never explained, your father and Merol's brother interpreted it as born after the prophesy was made. Then to the pale moon, what is a pale moon? All moonlight is pale, paler than sunlight, silver in colour. Interpreted, as it was it narrowed the search. You are twiceborn. You had the ceremony of embodiment the first time when you were born and then a second time when you came back to Valana and your uncle sacrificed himself. That happened after and your father could not have known. Your uncle was not supposed to be inside you in the first place but when you came here, he managed to get inside you instead of me, a good thing that happened considering how he had to sacrifice himself.

"In a way Norion is twiceborn as well. His father is from one Elven kingdom and his mother from another and even if he doesn't know it he has the ability to do both magic and spiritum, although he will probably never practice both. Both make him in some way twiceborn. If your father and Merol's brother had thought differently, they would have interpreted things differently but things are as they are.

"Someone called the seer to make a prophecy, instead of you trying to interpret what has already been interpreted you should be trying to find out who and why. It was not your father or Merol's brother so who was it and why?" Aer'andil heard what the spirit inside him said and thought on it without talking. Finally, he sighed.

"I guess…I have much to think on and learn. What is the Master of Zah Dah?" He asked the spirit inside him.

"Yes, you must."

Aer'andil came out of his trance-like state to see that it was dark outside. He knew he would not get much sleep but he went to the cabin he shared with Feldon and laid on the bed thinking until sleep came to him.

On the noon of the next day, they arrived at Yagahala's sorrow, what used to be Udala's port once upon a time.

Ruins were all that remained fallen columns and half-broken domes. Miasma was everywhere. Feldon's face was white with rage and a deep-seated sorrow.

"What was this place called before…before the fall?" Aer'andil asked him.

"Belerin. Jewel of the south…I just call it Yagahala's sorrow…where my parents gave their life so that us few remaining elves of the Elven realm of Udala could escape to the mainland and from there to Gel'anr. We should get moving, it is not safe here we are in the kingdom of Zah Dah, we are in the shadowlands where Darkness reigns." Feldon said and mounted his horse. Fundor and his dragons flew overhead them roaring their desire to bring down Zah Da. Aer'andil knew that Fundor also wanted his rider back.

Zah Dah present day.

"You don't want to kill me now." Lucas spoke trying to sound calm and confident. Sweat beads running down his forehead and nape.

Olan motioned to the Adalnial and it stayed its hand.

"And why would that be young Speaker of Dara?" Olan enquired in an amused voice.

"What fun is that? Killing me so easy? Do you not want to torture me? Make me scream? Interrogate me?" Lucas replied slowly. He tried his best to keep a poker face, emotionless, he knew he was playing his life. If Olan agreed not the Adalnial would chop his head off.

Olan laughed loudly in an otherworldly tone. "Oh child do you not prefer a quick death? I can be very…creative in my pleasure. Do you really want to suffer so?" Olan asked him in a low, deathly voice. It made Lucas shiver.

"I don't think you are man enough to make me hurt that much, what can you possibly do to me? Some torture? Bah I've had worse…fallen spirit." Lucas taunted Olan.

"Oh child I think you should die now."

"And waste such a good opportunity to kill me in front of my father? Or my best friend? Can you imagine the pleasure you could get from seeing the anguish on their faces."

"Why risk you getting away?"

"Why not? I am in your citadel, behind walls of darkness, in your kingdom. What can possibly go wrong for you?'

Olan did not speak he looked to be thinking. "Your friends are coming with an army to besiege Zah Dah

"Why have the Adalnial kill me? Would it not give you greater pleasure for the traitor to kill me? Really prove his worth and loyalty to you?"

"Not…a bad idea but I do not require his loyalty, I have you. Soldier wait outside." The Adalnial turned and exited the throne room.

"Please, sir! Don't make me do this!" Micraal begged. Olan waved a hand and Micraal fell on the floor screaming his lungs off from the pain clutching his head in his hands begging for the pain to stop.

"You will do what I command you to do when I command you to do it or you are useless to me child. You will kill Lucas when the time comes, in front of his father, his friends, you will help me rise. Yes, this will work better, when the son of Glothoin sees his best friend killed by the same people that killed his father…he will open doom and I will rise." Olan whispered and stood up. He walked to Lucas and placed a hand on his forehead. Lucas grinned and with his hands tied on his front, he reached up and removed Olan's mask. In that instant, that he saw what was behind it he knew. He knew what Olan was. He knew what to say to Aer'andil. He knew what those two words needed to be, from his knowledge and memories of Earth he knew what to say.

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