The Chronicles of Valana Volume 2: Elaria's Bane
The Alliance arrives
"My King, the Alliance armies have arrived." Minaroth lifted the tent's front cover to find Aer'andil dressed and in deep meditation.
"I know. Have Glogak and Gughekren meet me by the North entrance of the camp." He answered back, his eyes still closed.
"My Lord, why have we camped so far from the wall? The Orkhavocs are beginning to think we will not attack them. They are not used to being in front of it for four days without trying to storm it." Aer'andil opened his eyes and stood up from his kneeling position.
Minaroth removed herself from the tent's flap opening it for Aer'andil. "There are quite a few unknowns Minaroth but I can assure you and the Orkhavocs that by the end of tomorrow's day there will be battle and their weapons will be stained with the blood of our enemies. She approaches." Aer'andil walked towards the North entrance of the camp.
"All in good time Minaroth, all in good time." Aer'andil deflected Minaroth's question.
"Was it my idea, or did you have a visitor last night? I thought I saw someone exit your tent." Minaroth inquired.
"Your idea Minaroth, I was alone all night. I can assure you." Aer'andil replied without looking back.
"I am sure you are being honest with me, now, my King." Minaroth answered him in her usual vague tone.
"I am sure you know better than to expect an answer, Minaroth." Aer'andil chuckled.
Minaroth left him to go fetch Glogak and his son. Aer'andil walked to the North Entrance to find there the Kings of the Human and Elven Kingdoms of Men and Elves of Valana. Behind them their armies, sweating under the scorching sun.
Aer'andil saw Lucas standing first and closest to him from all the others. Behind him to the right his Dragon-King Fundor and behind him the army of Dara, and her most respected unit of late, the Dragon-riders of Dara.
Aer'andil sighed and walked closer. "High-King of the Elves, Aer'andil son of Liandras of the line of Glothoin…" Lucas locked eyes with him. "I challenge you and your right to lead this army, this alliance. Choose your weapon, the place of this duel."
Fists clenched, Aer'andil made eye contact with Lucas. "Lucas king of Dara…no…fuck it. Here now, I choose magic and my bow."
Lucas took a step forward. "My dragon, my father's blade and my speaker abilities." He replied.
Aer'andil took a step forward retrieving his bow from his shoulder.
The armies behind Lucas turned round, walked back and turned round again in military precision, forming a semi-circle around them.
Minaroth arrived with Belevod, Glogak and Gughekren in time to see Lucas pull the sword from the sheathe on his back.
"My Lord?" Minaroth's hand was on the blade on her waist.
"Stay out of this Minaroth, not all…is what you can see." Aer'andil turned his head to Lucas. "Best out of three?" He took a step closer.
"Yes." Aer'andil extended his hand, as was the tradition of this Challenge. Lucas swung his blade at him. Aer'andil jumped back in a reverse wheel landing on his knees a few meters back.
Blood fell from his chin where the blade had cut him. Minaroth, Belevod, the Elven Kings and all forty thousand elven soldiers, all of them, all at once unsheathed their weapons aiming them at Lucas. A merciless expression on their faces.
The human soldiers barely had time to register this with stunned looks on their faces unsure of what to do next.
Aer'andil straightened up, wiping the blood from his chin. "One to you. Fine, you want no honour in this?" Aer'andil motioned for his Elves to lower their weapons. This fight was his to fight. "So be it."
Aer'andil extended his hand towards Fundor and spoke in Elvish. As if from thin air a bubble of gashing water enveloped the dragon, raising him off the sand.
"Yield this round or I drown him." He told Lucas, tears streaking down his cheeks. Lucas made a move for his runes satchel. "Don't even think about it. One more move and I kill him." The water bubble around Fundor became increasingly thick. No matter how much the dragon tried to blow it away with his fire-breath the water-barrier around him would not go away.
"You wouldn't dare, you created a pact between Dragons, Humans and Elves forty years ago. He dies you suffer as well." Lucas tried reasoning with Aer'andil.
"Indeed, but the pact is with all dragons, not specifically this one. He can die without any suffering… on my or the Elves part." Aer'andil's eyes looked cold and distant. Resolute and unyielding.
"Fine." Lucas relented. Aer'andil broke the spell. Fundor breathed fire, clearly enraged. Aer'andil fired an arrow with his bow which Lucas deflected easily.
Lucas fetched two runes from his pack, throwing them at Aer'andil. The ground beneath his feet tore open with spirit essence gashing out.
"You use Dark Spiritum now?" Aer'andil asked him in shock, after jumping away to avoid it all.
"Anything to defeat the Darkness right?" Lucas mocked him.
"Indeed, only I am not the Darkness. Enough of this." Aer'andil sent a wall of ground and rock up on the air and started casting something, no one could understand what it was The High-King of the Elves was saying.
Lucas broke through the rock wall just as a shield of white, turbulent water surrounded them.
"Where is Norion?" Uer demanded. "Why did we leave without him?" Like he had every day of for the past week.
"My mission from my High-King was to transport you, Vashka, Micraal and Orphon to Udala. I have. Norion…we can only hope that Uragoth managed to get him out of the palace before…he completed his mission." Terastil finally replied to the boy. They were on the ship, on the port of Belerin, waiting for Feldon to arrive.
"But…" Bava cut her younger brother off. "Peace, brother. What must happen will happen. Father…sacrificed much to get us here, let us not make vain of his sacrifice." She hugged Uer around his shoulders.
"Terastil of Dol Anro, welcome to the Kingdom of Udala." They heard a voice behind them. Climbing up the ship's ladder from the dock was Feldon with his guards in tow.
"Your Highness." Terastil made a courtesy bow. "I have brought the children as ordered by our King."
"So I see…" Feldon nodded. "Uer and Bava I have been instructed to grant you passage through my lands and a place to live amongst the men of Elisko. The only human city within an Elven Kingdom. I think you shall find it most…intriguing." Feldon told Imer's children. "You can live there for as long as you want and for as long as you do you are under the protection of the High-King of the Elves and the King of Udala."
"I want to join the Hunters of Darkness." Uer stated. Bava was about to say something when Feldon answered her brother.
"Then so shall it be. I'll send missive to the Leader of the men to start you on Hunter training. Bava, you may as well or not, the decision is yours."
Feldon turned his attention to Micraal and Vashka. "Long has it been since I last saw you, Micraal of Eri'Adar. And you have a son now?"
"It has been long indeed, for a human lifespan. Yes, his mother and I met a few winters ago, unfortunately she did not…make it after giving birth to my son. He is my reason for living now." Micraal offered perhaps more information than having been asked.
Feldon nodded. "I am to give you this letter from my King."
Micraal read it then threw the letter out of the ship's railing onto the dark sea below.
"I will accept this mission, but not all of it, I will not abandon my son for the rest of his life. I will do the first part, and some of the second and return to my son."
"You are telling this to the wrong person, I have no idea what was written in there." Feldon answered him.
"I know but you can…" Feldon shook his head negatively.
"No, I cannot. I cannot know what was written in there and I cannot do this for you. I can do this for you though, your son is welcome to stay in Udala and Elisko, he'll be safe there."
"father, do not worry about me, I can take care of myself and I can also start my training so that I can join the Hunters of Darkness one day." Vashka tried to assuage his father's worries.
Micraal hugged his son around his shoulders for a moment or two.
"Fine I will tell him myself then." Feldon cut him off again.
"No, I am afraid I am to send you off to the North now, one of the fastest Elven destroyers awaits you in the other dock behind you." They turned to see a ship painted dark blue with white sails and magic cannons to the sides, long and slender with two masts and three decks.
"I see. Then I need a minute with my son." It was not a request.
Three seconds later everyone saw the bubble burst and Aer'andil standing over a kneeling Lucas, clutching his ribs and Fundor lying on the sand knocked out. The bow on his hand aiming an arrow at them.
"I guess that makes it two for me." Aer'andil continued holding the bow looking down on the King of Dara.
"Lucas Berandor Merol..." Aer'andil looked grim under the bright Elarian sun. "Your insult to me, my line and my kin cannot go unpunished. Dara is hereby expelled from the Alliance. You…and Dara stand alone." Aer'andil kneeled on the ground picking up Lucas' father's sword.
"My father made this blade for your father, he made good, honourable use of it. You have not. You are not worthy of it so I am reclaiming it." Aer'andil brought the bow and the blade closer together.
"Gathobral" Aer'andil commanded his bow, the bow his father had made for him to assimilate Merol's sword. The two weapons flew off from his hands as if pulled by strong magnets. They levitated a meter away from his face. The bow remained still while the sword started shaking more and more violently until it disintegrated into mist surrounding a glowing orb of white-red light.
A second or two later the mist and the white-red orb fused with the bow in a flash of light as bright as the sun. Everyone around closed their eyes. Everyone except for Aer'andil and Lucas who could not see the light. They could see something different.
The bow settled back to Aer'andil's hand. Aer'andil placed the bow on his shoulder. He made eye contact with Lucas.
"Despite it all I did scheme against Oghelle to rescue your son, and he should be in Udala by now, safe and sound. He will make his way aboard one of our ships to Gel'anr where you can go and get him. It'll be the last time you set foot on my island while you're in the world of the living. For old times' sake you can stay the night of your arrival, rest and dine with the Queen-mother in her garden of solitude and serenity. You are to leave the next day and never return."
Aer'andil told Lucas and walked to Minaroth without waiting for a reply from his old friend.
"Prepare the armies for a fight. Oghelle approaches." Aer'andil dusted his clothes from the grime and sand.
Aer'andil walked near the Serpent's Bastion. The towering construction shadowed the mountains behind it. The red stones it was made of were as big as a house each making Aer'andil wonder how they had managed to build this wall. Perhaps they had used magic.
"This reminds me of a movie I saw a long time ago in another world and lifetime." Aer'andil thought to himself, chuckling internally.
"Leader of the Oghellen army, come forth and face the Alliance's host, face justice for your crimes against Elaria and its' inhabitants." He knew the Oghellen army had arrived behind the Serpent's Bastion.
"So…are we going to see each other again?" Orphon asked Vashka. They were sitting on a bench in the dock their ship had docked in. It was one of the cleared out -from the Darkness- areas of Belerin. A few hundred meters away from them they could see spots where the miasma oozed out of the cracks in the buildings' stones. Around them several Elven soldiers stood vigilant guard.
"I do not know…I am going to join the Hunters of Darkness. Perhaps I can come visit you in Dara? Or you can come visit me in Elisko?" Vashka shrugged. He had come to really enjoy Orphon's company and friendship and was less than keen to lose it.
"I think we can do that from time to time." Orphon smiled giving Vashka a hug.
"Do you have to leave now?" Vashka asked, a mischievous smile on his face.
Orphon gave him a playful punch on his shoulder. He sighed. "Unfortunately and so must you. I for Gel'anr you for Elisko."
Vashka leaned in for a kiss which Orphon reciprocated. "I wonder how it'll be in Elisko. I can't believe that I am not in Elaria. It already looks so different here in…Valana." Vashka commented. They continued to chat for almost half an hour more before Vashka had to go with Uer and Bava and a battalion of Elven Warriors to Elisko and Vashka had to depart for Gel'anr.
"Take them coast to coast, the inland mountains are not yet safe." Feldon told the Elven battalion ranking officer. The Elven soldier nodded, saluted his king and they left.
Terastil left with Orphon for the Elven isles.
"You must be Micraal." The Elven ship-captain acknowledged him. "We are going to take the western route and avoid Stader's pass and Mountain of ash. It is active again and I do not want any rogue waves catching us in the shallows." Micraal nodded.
"I will settle in my quarters captain and report for duty."
"You are a guest." The captain stated matter-of-factly.
"Be that as it may, I still want to offer whatever service I can, we are going to be at sea for quite some time."
"A human who is as stubborn as an Elf…fine, be weary of what you wish for, Micraal." The captain smiled.
Micraal chuckled. "If you only knew…" He left for the under-deck and his cabin.
A laughter, a shrill, cold-blooded laughter was heard from behind the Serpent's Bastion.
"Open the Gates, let us gaze upon the…boy who will punish us." The same voice ordered as if from another world.
There were creaking sounds, bolts and safeties being removed and a minute later the huge wood and metal double Gates of the Bastion started opening inwards.
Behind them a woman stood holding a blade in one hand and a boy in the other. Norion. Behind her an army of men and a myriad creatures of Darkness sneered and breathed in anticipation.
She started walking, dragging a gagged-Norion along with her. She stopped three meters away from Aer'andil, the army pouring out from the Bastion's Gates, like venom from a serpent's mouth.
Aer'andil's face remained a complete mask, allowing no emotions through.
"I could not catch Imer's bastardlings but my pets did capture this little…thing from escaping. Tell your men to surrender your weapons or I will kill him right here, right in front of you." The Dark General answered his earlier request.
"You will kill him and us anyways, so I think Norion would agree with me when I tell you, hell no. We die, we die fighting. Surrender and your execution shall be swift." Aer'andil replied without even batting an eye.
Behind him the armies of the Alliance Kingdoms had taken their places where Minaroth and Belevod had indicated.
"My Master will reward me greatly when I present him with Norion's and your heads." She smiled wickedly.
"Not likely. He did not reward Olan, my cousin when he killed his uncle and my father. No, he did not. Your Master…he hasn't told you has he?" Aer'andil taunted her.
"Olan…he died by your hands." She denied the claim he was trying to assert.
Aer'andil smirked. "Not entirely. I destroyed a gem, yes. But the half-Elf host that was my cousin had died before that battle. What happens to you, the host, the Queen
"The gem's what's important. That's the spirit's anchor in the mortal world. You killed it."
"So are you the host or the gem? I can see it bulging against your armour, who are you?"
"Either…both. I am Salara Di'viourga Jutli, Queen of Oghelle and I am Jugurmoderthlon spirit who you call Dark General Elaria's Bane."
"Then your Master had killed the both of them. I destroyed a gem, but none of Olan died by my hand." Aer'andil continued.
"Enough of your lies, lay down your weapon, now." The Queen brought her shadow-blade to Norion's throat. Norion had tears streaking down his cheeks. He nodded to Aer'andil.
"No. I will never surrender to The Darkness." Aer'andil brought his hands to his sides, a foot half stepping back.
"So be it then." The Dark General slid the shadow-blade across Norion's neck, blood came gushing out.
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