The Chronicles of Valana Volume 3: Open Doom

by AB

Chapter 8

Valana under Invasion

"What have you to report, Kera'analoth of Sumlath?" Gel'anr's throne room felt gloom in the overcast rainy weather, the feeling made even more intense by the solitary scout to have returned from Rod'eran and Feran.

"The others of my scouting party were all caught and slain, my Lord. The Oghelle-led armies are besieging Eri'adar, Rod'eran, Feran and are moving, out of Iavaskor and Iavaskar to besiege Qa'ros, Bevanesh and Lavona and Forna." The wounded, tired-looking scout replied.

"They won't head to Lavona and Forna…this is like Zah Dah all over again, one army will head to Udala through Elisko and the other will use Bevanesh to attack the Isles. How large are their armies? Do they have any Dark Generals leading them?" The throne room was vacant except for the emissaries of Feran and Rod'eran, Thonril, Tha'ala, a few of Gel'anr's generals and Kera'analoth.

"Their armies number in the hundred thousand, perhaps even doubled that and they have at least two Dark Generals that we saw, as well as a number of Ascension Bishops, they are far worse than the Dark Generals in their use of Darkness arts. They are responsible for the deaths of the others."

"How so? My father killed one, here." Thonril sat on the throne, uneasy and worried.

"With all due respect to your father, your Highness. We were not your father." There was no accusation in the scout's voice.

"A single Bishop struck the ground near us, after he and his party ambushed us in a forest near Feran, our last stop before returning to Gel'anr to report our findings, and chanted some sort of spell none of us had ever heard of before. A black shadow-light emanated from his staff and it felt as if our very souls were being reaped from our bodies, our spirits screaming in our minds. I only escaped because Udraloth shoved me over a cliff and I run."

"How, then do you know the others are dead?" Came Tha'ala's question.

"I went back, in the cover of darkness. Their bodies still lay there, unburied…they were soulless, spiritless bodies. Not by death but…consumed."

A look of utter shock painted over Thonril's and Tha'ala's faces, as the scout continued his narration of what they had witnessed.

"Marauding bands are terrorizing the country side and cities are falling one by one, in Feran and Rod'eran only the capital remains, Eri'adar is holding onto the capital and the Eladri river crossings with dear life and great sacrifice but Eladri fords won't hold forever and Qa'ros will be under siege within the month. The armies of Oghelle are comprised of Corrupted men and creatures of Darkness. The Bishops consume the souls of anyone who doesn't convert and those who do become mindless drones."

"Our reports indicate that more troops disembark at the enemy's two citadels by the day." Rod'eran's emissary noted.

A pale Thonril stood from his throne. "Father, I hope you are ready." He thought.

"Your Highness, we are here to officially request the military aid of the Elves and the Alliance against Oghelle's aggression and siege of our lands." Feran's emissary said.

Thonril looked at his mother who with a solemn look nodded to him. "Send forth emissaries to the Kings of Elves and Men. Gel'anr is calling. Mobilise thy armies and fleets. In a month from today we march to end the siege of Eri'adar, Rod'eran, annihilate the enemy's two fortresses and end the siege of Feran brought forth by Oghelle and the Church of Ascension. Prepare your armies for Gel'anr is calling." The Generals in the room as well as the emissaries of Rod'eran and Feran bowed and left the room.

"A month…what news of the remnant forces of the Human Kingdoms of Elaria?" Thonril asked his mother.

"They await our command." Tha'ala replied, standing up.

"They have arrived in Uncle's Kingdom?"

She nodded.

Thonril walked to the War Room and pressing on a place in the wall a compartment opened in the wall.

Thonril grabbed what was inside, and cast a spell. The all-seeing stone flared up.

"Uncle, is everything ready?" Norion's face appeared in the orb.

"For a while now, nephew of mine." Norion was in his armour, the insignia of the Royal House of the Kingdom of Udala carved on the breastplate, his helmet under his right arm, his long, black hair caught in braids behind his head. Black and red paint covered his face in patterns. "We have been preparing for this moment for a while now."

"We…? Has news reached you yet, uncle? Your son is safely in the Elven isles."

Norion smiled, "Indeed, only yesterday. Has the mobilization order been given, yet?" Thonril nodded.

"Good, we will depart Udala tomorrow. Udala and Elisko are ready for War, carnage and death." Norion's smile turned from warm to grim making Thonril's skin crawl. "I will see you soon, Thonril, son of Aer'andil, may we bathe in the blood of our enemies and our swords sing with their cries of despair."

"What's the news, love?" She lay on the bed, hands behind her head, eyelids semi-closed.

Torval closed the door behind him, the house small and inconspicuous.

"Two Elves were here, one left dragon-back due North, the other left with Lothron, the Crown Prince for deer hunting and are now in the Elven Isles, instead." He left his sword, and backpack on the table, heading for the bedroom.

"Two Elves? Who could be the second?" She asked, surprised.

"You won't believe me, if I told you." He chuckled. "Apparently, Gel'anr's youngest prince has left the confines and safety of the isle for some adventure and he's heading to Varaghia to find it." Her eyes shot open, her upper body rising on her elbows.

"Interesting, there's a mission letter for you, on the table." Torval paused mid-stride.

"Who from? I thought we were to find Stenoros…" He talked to himself.

"House Leader left it while you were gone. The letter had been left months on advance for you, I think you'll recognize the emblem on the wax seal."

"Gel'anr…no this is directly from the High-King himself! How…"

"What does it say? Don't keep me waiting." She sat on the bed's edge.

"We are to leave for Rod'eran, tomorrow and assist with the City's defenses, hold it until the Elven armies arrive." Torval replied, folding the letter, putting it in one of his pockets.

"We and what army?" She asked, astonished.

"We are the army, time to test our training and our mettle, we are Hunters of Darkness, time to act it." He stepped back inside the bedroom, closing the door behind him.

Enthronos followed the river, frozen on the surface, flowing underneath, it captivated his interest. He felt right at home in Varaghia's ice and frozen lands, a passion awakening inside him, he knew not existed, a yearning burning bright, increasing the more he travelled north.

The conifers and pine trees still and silent, nature asleep waiting patiently for spring's festive release from the frost.

He had so far avoided any human settlements as best he could, only interacting with them when he needed supplies or information. He would cover his head with his wolf's fur hood and cast a concealment spell around his ears.

His Elven hearing picked up faint sounds and voices in the distance. His interest peeked he started walking on the frozen river, towards the source of the sounds.

"Screams?" The forest's peace and stillness broken made him shiver. What could be producing the screams? He was near the mountains, beyond lay the contested lands between the Elves and the Humans.

As he crouched closer to the source of the sounds they became increasingly gut-wrenching and the clear afternoon sky turned black.

"Those are not clouds…that's ash!" Enthronos thought as he hid behind a tall, thick bush.

Before him a scene of gory violence unfolded. Well-armed men in black, some on horseback, others on foot were attacking a small village, burning the houses, and slaughtering the inhabitants.

"Why are they doing this? It's their own species…I'll never understand humans." Enthronos thought. "I better get out of here before I'm discovered, I don't think I want them to know I'm here."

"Leave them where they can be found, men and plant those Elven trinkets and bodies. Our Master desires war with the pointy-eared fuckers, let's give it to him." One of them, the leader of the band Enthronos thought, ordered the others who yelled their glee at the gruesome work.

"Sir!" One of his men yelled, excited. Enthronos froze on his tracks, thinking himself discovered. "Look at what I found!"

"Funny…" Zatola murmured. "The catacombs built and used by merchants and smugglers to import and export illegal goods to and from the city are now used in her defense."

"The merchants did not build these catacombs, though." Torval commented. "They are ancient, going back to the founding of the city. Then they used them to escape from raids of the nomads of the mountains, much like Eri'adar did. Rod'eran begun as a trading post of Eri'adar, until it became wealthy and powerful enough and fought for independence."

Coming near the exit they extinguished their torches. "You there! Guard!" Torval yelled to one of the guards of the Royal Palace's inner courtyard. The Royal Palace in the Citadel were the only parts of the city still holding.

The guard snapped his head to them lowering his pike, surprised.

"We are Hunters of Darkness, show us to your King. Now. We have come to aid you." Torval and Zatola showed him their insignia and Aer'andil's letter.

"Follow me." The guard led them to the throne room where a boy no older than eighteen stood looking outside one of the windows, clad in full plate armour holding a helmet with the King's crown on it.

"Crown Prince Yoro'l. Nice to make your acquaintance. Where is your father?" Torval asked, after making a bow with his head and torso.

"My father died two moons ago defending the city. I am King now, how can I help you, Hunters?"

"Our deepest condolences. We have come to aid you defend Rod'eran until the combined Elven Host can arrive and break the siege."

"You and what army?" Asked Yoro'l.

Torval smirked. "All in due time, your Highness. The plan is one and simple. We are going to funnel the enemy army to and through the citadel's gates and pick them one by one, while your archers, sorcerers, Speakers, and siege weapons defend the walls and let nothing outflank us." Torval explained in haste. "Pull your infantry and cavalry behind us, the Hunters will defend the Citadel's Gates."

"The Citadel is, perhaps, a week from being overrun so I will not provide resistance in your plan, but…it's only two of you. How can two Hunters who look younger than I am hold back the multitudes of the enemy's soldiers? The city is fully surrounded and more arrive every day." King Yoro'l stated confounded by the audacity of Torval's plan.

Silently, he drew his dagger out with one hand, magic ready in the other. The mercenary near him took a couple of steps towards him then moved away to where their leader was.

A moment later three bulky men brought forth a boy and a man, their hands tied behind their backs. The man was going along with it while the boy resisted and cussed at them to let him go.

"The bastard Prince of Ygramor? What is a noble child doing out here in the wild and the cold away from the Palace's hearth?" The Mercenary Leader mocked.

"Searching for my family's murders." The boy replied, a look of fierce defiance and hatred drawn across his face. "And I think I've found them. How dare you kill my father's subjects?"

"Indeed." The man grinned, his lips curling viciously and with malice.

"Tell us who funded you and I'll give you double what he did." The man replied, calm, too calm.

Laugher, loud laughter emanated from the man. "You know, I think you know who that is, but enough of this we have work to do, bloody, gory work but work nonetheless. Kill them and we get a bonus. I'm sure our…benefactor, richest man in all of Ygramor will be pleased to be unopposed to the line of succession, again."

With a lithe, quick move the man wrestled free of his captor, the binds holding his hands giving way, and grabbing for the mercenary's sword he slashed at him gutting him open before decapitating the second of the three.

The boy tried to break free of his captor but with a kick behind his knee he is made to kneel on the snow, a hand now grasping at his hair, pulling his head up revealing his bare neck.

Screams sound in the distance, an unknown force killing the mercenaries in the outskirts of the village.

The third guy, holding the Prince, making for the sword around his waist.

The man, obviously the Prince's protector, tries to reach them but three more mercenaries close in around him, swords and spear drawn.

Two fall dead in successive seconds, the third one is resisting. Full plate armour is deflecting the man's sword strikes.

Sword unsheathed, the edge touches the boy's neck.

The man sees the boy's arm rising, dagger in hand, fear and despair pictured in his eyes. With a quick jab of his sword's hilt he strikes at the ascending arm before replacing the edge on the tender neck.

Screams are edging closer as well as sounds of weapons clinging, and magic spells impacting objects as well as human parts.

Fauj tries to feign an attack and pivot under the spearman's armpit but his opponent sees it coming, punching him. He falls on his back on the ground.

"Stop!" Enthronos comes out of his hiding spot, hurling a fireball at the guy's head. His hood no longer covering his head.

For a second it is as if time has stopped, everyone around surprised.

The man stumbles back, injured from the spell on his left shoulder. Gundrun grabs the falling sword and whirling around.

Blood and entrails splashing about the man falls dead.

"An Elfling? Alone? Here? So near Hoygl Fjeuhgule?" The Leader smiled. "Give me your weapons kid and you'll live. I'll sell you to a rich fuck in Ulani who will abuse you day and night, but you'll live. Continue and I'll gut you like I did Xal'dorth, Crow-fucking-Prince of your King." He told Enthronos taking a step or two closer to him, blocking his way to Gundrun and Fauj.

"Xal'dorth? My father has three kids and we're all alive, no other Elven kids of an Elven King in the isles or Udala have been killed within your life span, to my knowledge." Enthronos replied. "But I won't surrender, you are slaying your own people and you need to be stopped." He said drawing his sword, gleaming silver in the cold Varaghian Sun. Slender and curved with a rune on it. It had been a gift from his father for his tenth birthday, he knew not what the rune meant nor was it Elven. It had been his first real weapon to wield.

"By you and what army, kid?" The Mercenary Leader sniggered. "And if you must know, pointy-eared, they are not my people. Ygramor conquered Tilrvi and Attti, slew and enslaved my people. So now I just use Ygramor's Heir's money to butcher his people, so he can blame the Elves like others have done in the past and start a war with them. Now, don't make me kill you, pointy ears."

Sounds and screams came ever closer to them.

A thunder deflected off the blond-haired man's shield. "So be it, I always draw pleasure from killing your kind, little one, and my armour is customised to null most of your kin's magic tricks."

Enthronos launched an attack with a roar. "At least tell me your name before I kill you, young one. I like your names as trophies."

"Enthronos, Prince of Gel'anr. And what's your name, filth?" Enthronos' attack blocked by the mercenary's shield. He ducked avoiding an attack, before slashing back at him.

Their blades met half way.

"My name? Sure, Karthlang." With his adult muscles Karthlang pushed their blades closer to Enthronos' face until the boy bent backwards arching, rolling on his stomach and back and landing on his feet two meters away.

Hooded figures approached ever closer, fast.

Karthlang was on him just as he rose his sword hand to protect his head, blow after blow after blow the man was not sparing him or toying with him.

Gundrun was trying to get to him, Fauj was trying to get to Gundrun, chaos ruled as body parts lay on the snow, red and grim.

Enthronos tried to feign a dodge to the right but on his effort to dart to the left Karthlang's shield slapped his cheek making him stagger back dazed from the force of the impact.

A second later, before he had time to regain his composure and breathe he is lifted off his feet by a strong hand around his neck choking him.

The other free hand taking hold of the wrist holding his father's gift, tightening until he is forced to release it.

"Protect Karthlang! Don't let anyone near him!" Someone screamed in the background. The hooded figures were now fighting next to Gundrun and Fauj, they all looked scared. Enthronos was scared now as well.

"R-release me, let me go and my father, the High-King of all Elves won't hurt you, I promise." Enthronos tried to reason with the mercenary, the spirit of adventure and courage gone. His hands trying to free his neck, in vain.

Karthlang chuckled maliciously. "Won't hurt me eh? High-King you say? Well that is okay, because I am going to hurt you, little one." Karthlang swung Enthronos' blade around with a wrist move and drove it into the boy's stomach in one decisive motion before giving it an intentionally slow twist.

Kermenos entered Gel'Glidorn's Royal Palace's throne room hand in hand with Astrid, Lothron, Sigrilth and Stenoros with Minaroth's daughter were already waiting for them, there. A white ivory covered room full of columns of marble and chandeliers of amber light, the throne stood in the center of the room under a glass dome.

Minaroth's father sat on the throne. A large beefy Elf, by elven standards. White hair and a long beard covered his face and head. Strong, powerful hands held on the throne's wood engraved arms.

"Gel'Glidorn's army stands ready, Gel'anr's call has been answered and tomorrow at dawn we leave for Rod'eran and war. You all are to come with us, much to Norion's displeasure I'm sure, but the High-King's orders trump that of any Elven King's desires." No one knew how Aer'andil had known to give the orders he had before his departure or of how the events would shape up, but he had, and the High-King's orders were the High-King's orders.

"Prepare yourselves for tomorrow we sail to war."

They left the throne room, discussing between them. The girls were still unaccustomed to being in an Elven city amongst Elves who did not desire them dead, and were even more surprised, even now a month and some change later, to have made friends amongst the boys and girls on Hel'thala, Gel'Glidorn's capital city.

"I have something to tell you." Astraid whispered in Kermenos' ear taking him by his hand a few meters away, in the gardens under a tall, large-leafed tree, away from the others.

"We may not come out of this alive, we have both seen what this army from Oghelle can do so… - she hesitated for a moment- I want us to spend the night together, really together for if I am destined to die in this battle we are heading to I don't want to leave without having experienced all of love's gifts."

Kermenos dry-swallowed nodding, a faint grin quickly leaving his lips replaced by a serious visage.

He nodded.

Elsewhere in the gardens, Sigrilth, and Laa'elith were giving Lothron and Stenoros similar messages.

Thonril was embarking in Gel'anr's port, Stenoros and Laa'elith were embarking in Gel'Glidorn when they all felt it, the tag of pain as Aer'andil felt it.

"Brother, what was that? Is Enthronos dead?" Ythela asked him, pained and worried. Thonril had wanted her to stay behind but she'd hear none of it.

A deep whooshing sound left Enthronos' lips, his eyes closing.

He felt alone, and void but the pain was gone. Opening his eyes, he found himself surrounded and covered in void, not darkness but void. A concept his mind could not grasp.

"I feel no pain and I am not dead. I know what this is." He stated to himself.

"YOU are in between. You are neither dead or alive. You are in the void between life and death…" An incorporeal voice came from all around him. It did not sound old or young. It sounded both old and young and all In between.

"…where the song is the loudest." Enthronos completed the sentence. "you are yesterday's magic. You are in everything, all around us and yet you are nothing we can understand, but my father understands…you."

"He does, thus he understands how to deal with my first-born, the Aeternae."

"I don't understand."

"You will."

"I guess this makes me of the line of Glothoin, then?"

"All Elves are. You are a creature of the Arcane, not all Elves are born like so, but all can learn."

"I am my father's heir, I suppose?"

"Mundane, that is but a tittle. Who are you?"

"I…don't know. My father's…"

"Childish. Stop defining yourself on your relation to your father. Who are you?"

"Enthronos…water bird in my language…I am a creature of water."

"Better. What is water? What are you?"

Gundrun screamed "NO!" seeing the blade plunge into Enthronos. Next to him the hood fell from one of the heads of the people in white who had slain every mercenary between them and Enthronos, clearing the village.

"What have you done!" Ha'varil's voice filled the air, tears falling from her eyes.

Karthlang pulled at the sword. "Why won't it budge dammit?" He tightened his grip on the boy's neck, trying to leverage the unyielding blade from the boy's stomach.

Then, in a moment the blade's rune glowed a bright deep blue colour.

"Water." Enthronos said in a language none of them understood and the whole of the sword's blade liquified as did he becoming water as they had never before seen it, their minds failing to comprehend water called forth with its real name.

"This belongs to me." Enthronos told Karthlang, taking the liquid blade from him.

"rain." Rain droplets started falling around them, Gundrun and the Hunter's under Ha'varil's father as well as Fauj felt it as rejuvenating rain, healing them from all ailments, some of which they knew not of, and purifying them from all Darkness. Karthlang's mercenaries felt it as a thousand arrowheads penetrating them head to toe.

"I am a creature of water, you cannot hurt one such as I." Enthronos' body turned from water to flesh and bones, shinning brighter than the sun.

"You know the funny thing about your body, Karthlang?" Karthlang was, for the first time in his life, without words and scared.

He had not the will to nod "No."

"It is made primarily of water, and water bows to my will." Enthronos clutched his left fist, slowly, purposefully making Karthlang's mouth open in a soundless scream of excruciating pain as every blood cell in his body was pulled apart turned into mud and then turned into its original form again.

Enthronos clenched his fist tighter, "Boil."

Unable to stand from the intensity of the pain coming from every cell in his body Karthlang fell to the ground scratching and clutching and tearing at his skin. Smoke started coming out of his nose, ears and mouth and his epidermis turned into a light orange colour before turning charcoal.

Enthronos kneeled in front of him bringing his head only inches away from Karthlang's. "Freeze."

Bringing his head away he brought his left hand up and touched Karthlang's now completely frozen forehead lightly with the tip of his index finger.

Karthlang as if made of glass shattered into infinitely thin shards of transparent ice.

All other mercenaries of Karthlang's group lay dead.

Enthronos stood up, naked, and after looking around to the stunned, frozen faces of the Hunters, Fauj and Gundrun fell unconscious onto the soft snow.

Gundrun run to him, making to remove his coat and cover the unconscious Elf-boy with it, only to stop dead on his tracks as Elves jumped out of the thicket of bushes and trees surrounding Enthronos.

"Lor avoth beothil osth." One of them, a teen-looking she-Elf told them, bow aiming at them, string pulled back.

"They want to take him." Hava'ril translated for them. "Let them, trust me on this, you will see him again, Enthronos son of Aer'andil, High-King of all Elves." She added knowing Gundrun would object.

"Take him, take care of him, please." She told the Elves in their tongue. Nodding the girl placed the bow on her shoulder and helped one of the others, an adult male, to carry him away.

"Is he alive?" Gundrun asked.

"He is, he will be okay." Hava'ril told him.

"An Elf saved my life while one of my kin murdered my family and tried to have me killed. Twice." Gundrun stated picking up Enthronos' sword from the ground. "Why? This Elf did not look the blood thirsty Human-slayer we've been taught to believe they all are…Enthronos, I am going to see you again, if only to give you back your sword and thank you for saving my life and opening my eyes." Placing the sword on his waist he turned and left.

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