The Chronicles of Valana Volume 3: Open Doom

by AB

Chapter 2

Adventures Anew

"Gahvagaron!" Viskeras swore aloud. Almost two weeks of hunting had gone up in smoke. More screams came from his left, they sounded human.

"Human? Here?" Bow in hand he run to the direction of the screams. Coming up to a hillside he saw below a human boy trapped up against a thicket of thorned branches with a wraith lion between him and any viable escape route. The wraith lion, named so because of its ability to camouflage to ambush its prey with a silver-dark grey fur colour, red eyes and an otherworldly roar. This was an adult animal, towering two times the size of the boy.

The human held a dagger in one hand, sweating and screaming at the lion trying to scare it off. He was only enraging the animal, its fangs showing from its partly opened jaws.

It crouched ready to jump.

He folded the map placing it in his backpack, a creased leather satchel to hold what few possessions he had taken with him. Next, he left the astrolabe on the small sail boat's seat, next to him and grabbed the ropes with one hand and the rudder with the other making a correction on his course.

An hour later he saw Urel's estuary in the horizon.

"YES!" Enthronos yelled, excited. "I made it! This must be the mouth of the river Urel. If I follow it due east I should find the remnants of the Nial fortress Valinos and the river Jithral which will lead me to Dara, from there I can hire a ship to ferry me to the northern continent, Varaghia." He mused to himself aloud and made for the estuary.

Viskeras gave a battle cry jumping between it and the human. His young muscles glistening with muddy sweat. He threw his hands up in the air howling aloud displaying his tusks. The wraith lion growled grimacing its snout to show its teeth.

Viskeras took a step forward continuing to howl and move his hands up in the air making himself appear larger than he was.

The Wraith lion whined curling up with a back step. Viskeras took a javelin from his back and threw it between the lion's front paws, the lion whined and growled but turned and run away.

Viskeras picked up the javelin, placing it back on its sheath on his back and turned to face the young human.

"I am Viskeras of Nogavad, son of Baghvkor. What the fuck are you doing in Orkhavoc territory, human?" Viskeras stood in front of the frail-looking boy, bow in hand.

"I am Kermenos of Hordivar. I wish an audience with your High-King."

He felt solid ground under his feet and a rumbling sensation as the dragon landed and he jumped off.

"Well…that was certainly interesting." He declared to no one in particular.

Lothron dismounted in front of him with the others in the battalion landing on a circle around them. The riders stayed on their dragons, clad in black and green armour.

"Commoners don't have this many armed guards, who are you?" Lothron enquired.

"I…you are from Dara." The boy replied vaguely.

"Indeed, you already knew who I am when I told you my name, who are you?" Lothron pushed. "I just saved your life, least you can do is tell me your name."

"My name is not the problem, my kind is…for Darans." The boy sighed and lowered his hood revealing slanted, Elvish ears, an oval-shaped face, and deep green eyes with pale lips and pink cheeks.

"I am Stenoros, son of Norion Anorion, King of the Elven Kingdom of Udala under High-King Aer'andil." He spoke with authority. "If you are not going to kill me I'd like sanctuary and to send a missive to my father, to let him know I am alive and okay as news of the attack on my convoy will reach him sooner or later."

"I…sure, you can come with us to Dara and stay there until you have news from your father. Feran is under siege so…uhm…" Lothron found himself staggered.

"No Elf has been welcome in Dara for at least ten thousand years. Can you guarantee me I will be?"

"You will be safe, I am the Crown Prince and I am offering you sanctuary, think it a gesture of good will…now do you require rest or shall we fly to Dara?" Lothron asked. Stenoros did not sense sarcasm in his voice. He stretched his back and hands some before indicating he was ready to continue the flight to Dara.

"The sun is setting over Gel'anr and I have to leave you once more, with a heavy heart." Aer'andil held Tha'ala's face in his hands, looking in her glittering eyes.

"Bring me my son back, he's too young to be all alone out there."

"I was not much older when I had my adventure. He is our son and he will be okay but I will bring him back."

She nodded, a look of fierceness in her eyes. They were standing in Gel'anr's port, Aer'andil ready to depart for the lands north of Gel'anr in search of his son. Minaroth stood beside him, ready and armoured for the adventure ahead.

"Mother, I wish to join you in this trip."

Minaroth looked first at her oldest son then to her King. He inspected the youth, armed with the axe and sword Aer'andil had seen him use against the Bishop's Wyvern, as well as an Elven light armour and a backpack. He nodded his approval to Minaroth and with a hug to Tha'ala boarded the ship to the mainland.

"You have been trained for this, you are my son, honour our name in this quest with your life if need be." Minaroth told her son and boarded the ship.

Vicanoth took one last look behind him, the High-Queen waving at her husband, her daughter next to her a look of longing spread over her face. Vicanoth nodded and embarked the ship.

"Gahvagaron!" Viskeras swore aloud. Almost two weeks of hunting had gone up in smoke.

Viskeras run at the direction of the screams. He no longer cared for stealth. He crouched behind a tall, thick bush, before him a young teen human boy heaved heavily, his back on a u-shaped tree trunk, a dagger on one hand. Growling, his fangs bare a shadow lion approached the boy slowly, ready to pounce.

The lion had a scar on his left forepaw while the dagger's blade was bloodied. An admirable feat for one so young, Viskeras thought, to manage to injure such a large beast for the lion stood a good two meters taller than the teen.

The boy had nowhere to go and the lion was baring fangs and claws ready to attack.

He guided the small sail boat through the shallows and rapids of the Urel river's mouth. "I'll follow the river to Padala's watch and to Valinos and from there to Batorn." Enthronos mused to himself, feeling the breeze drive him deeper into the dark-green-watered river ploughing through the Kingdom of Udelon, giving it its name.

"I heard dad telling mum how Batorn was trying to get trade from Dara for the northern continent, Varaghia so they must have ships going up there." He thought to himself opening his satchel and grabbing some dried meat to eat.

Viskeras jumped out of behind the tall bush landing between the boy and the shadow lion. Spreading his hands over his head he started screaming and roaring waving a clutched arrow at the lion. The large cat growled and whined at first, lashing out clawed paws at the bulkish Orkhavoc teen, turning and twisting until with a final roar it turned and left.

He sheathed his weapons, turning around.

"Viskeras of Nogavad, who are you and what the fuck are you doing in Orkhavoc territory? How the fuck did you even get past the mountains?"

The boy straightened up, his eyes darting left and right still afraid more predatory animals would jump out of the thick jungle to eat him up. He placed the dagger back in its scabbard. "Kermenos of Hordivar, I…I require an audience with your High-King. Please get me to him."

"Why do you want to talk to my…King?" Viskeras eyed the human child with suspicion.

"That is for the King's ears only." Kermenos crossed his hands in front of his chest refusing to say more.

"You could be a spy, Oghelle might finally want to launch an attack."

"It hasn't for ten thousand years, and you'd think they'd finally decide to do so now and send a child as a spy? Well if you must know Oghelle has launched an attack, but it is not on your federation of Kingdoms. No, it's on every other human kingdom, sitting their betrayal ten thousand years ago and how the war back then was lost due to that. Now, please before the "Church of Ascension kills everyone can you bring me before your King?"

"Maybe I should kill you and spare someone else the trouble later." Viskeras pushed on.

Kermenos groaned rolling his eyes. "You saved me from that beast to kill me yourself so that the beasts can eat me? Fine, get it over with it is far better a fate than what the fuckers in that church will do to me should they get their hands on me."

Viskeras chuckled. "Follow me, shadow lions may be cowards but they usually come back with friends. Whole pride of them." He turned and started walking. Kermenos hesitated for a moment before walking fast.

"Fuck! I must be lost. This is not the side river I remember seeing on the map on dad's desk…when I should not have been in his study room…this part of the river is heading north towards the dragon nests, not to the east…oh what do I do? It' getting dark." Enthronos voiced aloud.

The sun was setting beyond the valley to the west and Enthronos had come before a waterfall coming out of a series of holes high above him in the claw-like cliffs.

"Those are high…how am I ever going to get the boat up there….and it's still getting dark…" Enthronos mumbled to himself. A rustling of leaves behind him brought him out of his musings.

He wrapped his hands around his torso, rubbing his flanks and shoulders. "It's getting cold, I must find some shelter…I wish I could change into a bird…there seem to be caves up there."

His eyes drifting lower he saw something moving behind the waterfall. Dragging the boat on the pebbled shore. Some birds, nearby, flew away on the sound of the boat. The waterfall's thundering overshadowed all other sounds.

Looking around for footing here and there on the wet, cold black and ochre pebbles he made his way to the waterfall. Raising the hood above his head to protect from the cold water cascading from above he went in what looked like a cave.

"It's dump and cold but nothing a fire won't fix." He picked up a piece of wood from below and casted a fire spell on it. Bright red and orange flames jumped out of his hand engulfing the log.

Leaving his backpack down he started searching around for more wood to start a camp fire for the night. "This place is a massive…and I've never seen such tall ceilings in a cave before." His thoughts interrupted when he tripped over a wooden structure as his eyes were looking up at the ceiling above. Stumbling around he sat on his knees.

"Holy fuck this is a dr…" His voice drowned in a booming roar as a dragon descended from the ceiling it had perched on, landing in front of him her wings unfolded, her teeth bare her tail protectively over her eggs in the nest, just meters away from him.

"Who dares try and harm my eggs? Speak now before I kill you, human!" A deep voice reverberated across the cave.

"Human? N…no wait! I'm not a human!" Enthronos removed his hood revealing his Elven ears and long fiery blond hair caught in braids behind his head, some falling on his cheeks and eyes.

"An Elf? Here? What do you want youngling?" She asked, with less an alarmed voice.

"I am going to Batorn, to get a ship to Varaghia. I must have lost my way and taken a wrong side river."

"Batorn? Why would an Elfling want to go there?" She asked sounding amused, now. Resting on her forepaws, the eggs between them.

"I want to go to Varaghia." Enthronos announced cheerfully.

"What would you want to go there for? It's not a place for Elves, young or old." She stated.

"What is your name, dragon? I am Enthronos, son of…"

"You give your name with too much ease, Enthronos son of Aer'andil. I am Fraevnaras. You would do well to guard your name with your life and your life with your name."

"Oh…you know who I am?" Enthronos asked, a usual cheerfulness in his voice, yet intrigued.

"Indeed, I was there at your name giving. As were many of my kind as well as Kings of Elves and men. As we were at the name giving of your sister and brother." Name giving was a ceremony a month after an Elf's birth when the newborn was shown for the first time to the rest of the Kingdom, family, and friends and his or her name was announced. Then a three days and nights feast usually ensues.

"Oh…makes sense I suppose, my father being who he is." So how can I get to Batorn from here?"

"It's not Batorn you want, they are pirates and are likely to sell you off in Varaghia. Darans have a saying. To trust Batorn is to dig your own funeral. I'll fly you to Dara tomorrow at dawn and you can get a ship from there." She replied, a voice of scorn at Batorn.

"Dara? Are they not enemies of my father? Of my people?" His question made her laugh heartily.

"Sleep young one, sleep. Tomorrow we fly." Standing up she circled around her nest sitting on her eggs, closing her deep purple and red eyes.

Enthronos climbed over the nest made of tree trunks and branches stuck together with saliva and a slime female dragons extrude from their tongues when they bear eggs, made for this purpose, to create nests and settled between her hind legs and her belly.

"It is cold." He whispered making her chuckle. He could feel the ground rumble from the vibration. Her upper belly and chest started to glow as different acids mixed together in the pouch meant and designed to give dragons their ability to breathe fire.

"Woah!" Enthronos exclaimed feeling the sudden influx of warmth and seeing her chest glow bright red with purple hues. "Must you not release the flame?" She did not reply, instead the glowing internal furnace burned until he fell asleep lullabied by the rambling vibration and the warmth. She then arched her head towards the cave's ceiling release the torrent of fire.

"Sleep well child of Aer'andil. A child of fire you are not but you are going to be a fine dragon's master. A mother can tell, one of my kids will bound itself to you in the years to come. They are almost ready to hatch."

The morrow next she waited til he had eaten something for breakfast before she took flight towards Dara. One of her brothers would look after the eggs while she was away.

"Is this Valinos?" Enthronos pointed at a ruined citadel below them. Tall tower remnants rising high above the tree tops while white walls secured an inner fortress courtyard, a central broader tower now standing ruined bereft of all glory and importance.

"Indeed, young one. We'll stop at the river Jithral to rest and we'll be in Dara by night tomorrow." Fraevnaras gained more altitude until she understood to be unhealthy to Enthronos.

"The world is curved?" Enthronos questioned surprised.

"Indeed, young one. You have learned lesson three of being a Dragon rider." He felt her laugh.

"What are lessons one and two?"

"Respect Dragons and gravity is a bitch." They laughed together.

"Respect only? Not fear?"

"Respect a dragon and you need not fear him." He could not see the toothy smirk on her snout.

"And if I am his foe?"

"Run and hide under a mountain, fear will not keep you alive."

"I found you under a mountain." Enthronos laughed.

"Well then, I suppose you are royally fucked. Now for lesson two as it seems you have learned lessons one and three."

"Gravity is a bi…" Enthronos had not enough time to finish his sentence as Fraevnaras turned upside down folding her wings in the process. An initial surprise at the loss of steady "ground" beneath him turned into a scream of thrill and fear.

"This is awesomeeeee!" He screamed at the top of his lungs a word he had learned from his father, a word alien to their world until Lucas and Aer'andil had brought it over.

Using her wings and her tail she spiraled around him as he descended towards the forest's end below them.

"Uhhhh can you please not let me fall to my death?" Enthronos asked some seconds later seeing the tree tops coming closer, much closer than he'd like.

"What is then lesson two of being a Dragon Rider?"

"Gravity is a bitch and I am too young to change into my bird!" He screamed.

Fraevnaras waited a second more before extending one of her forelegs wrapping it around him and stretching her wings to the full. She started to ascend again placing him on her back where he wrapped both hands around her scaled neck and both legs around and between some of the larger scales on her back.

"Let's do that again!" She vibrated as she laughed.

With a pause to rest and eat at night she continued on flying as he slept during the night.

The sun was setting behind the shores of Batorn when Fraevnaras landed at Dara port quarter.

"This is Dara? This…this is…" All around them all buildings were from large to huge, dragons roamed the city streets and skies side by side with the humans.

"What do all these dragons eat?" Came the next logical question from the astonished Elf.

Chuckling Fraevnaras lowered her long neck bringing her snout next to Enthronos' ear. Feeling her breathe on his neck he turned his head to face her. "Elflings. I hear, are very juicy and tender but I personally prefer deer or cattle." He poked his tongue at her.

"Sooo…where should I look for a ship to get me to Varaghia?"

"We are in a port, dear." Fraevnaras replied in a teasing, sweet voice.

Before Enthronos could reply he heard a familiar voice coming from behind him. He spun around. "Stenoros!"

The fire pyres burned bright in the hearths around the throne room. Grand Prince Sigovorn sat on his throne, surrounded by his courtiers and family. His daughter was protesting his decision.

"You cannot send us to the savages! I will not go!" Her hands on her waist she would have easily spat fire if she could.

"Daughter of mine, I was not asking you to go. I am telling you to. You will go to this mission of good will to Dara, our trading partner to the south and you will be polite because if I and Lothron's father the King of Dara agree terms you two will be marrying so you are going to go daughter of mine for I am not asking. You and Ingradil, daughter of the Jarl of Iaor will go. You leave tomorrow you will be there in a month."

Astraid was besides herself but she knew she had no choice. She was leaving for Valana.

Talk about this story on our forum

Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead