Saturday, September 6, 2014

VI. The Battle of Blades

Previous chapter: [Untitled].

By his side was an evil shadow of despare, shaped like a man upon a steed as inky black as the cape he wore and as coal black as his armor.

He wielded a great black mace, and a wheel of black fire hung upon a silver chain around his neck. It seemed to be holding enternal forces of darkness, waiting to burst forth.

But all this was nothing compared to his eyes. They were like pools of molten lava, like twin flames dancing a fiery dance. Like pillars of fire or volcanoes. They showed no features, no pupils, just solid red-gold flare.

"Light!" the battle cry echoed throughout the damp planes and a cheer arose as the two armies charged towards eachother. Theôn broke forward in his glory and try as they might no man could match his speed. Theôn's spear shimmered long and bitter, as he threw it at the Shadow Wraith, whose mount toppled beneath him.

Out swept his sword and he headed for the leaders of the Southrons. Great was the clash of their meeting. Theôn's saber flashed and blurred. He hewed the staff and bearer and swept into the Southrons like a thunderbolt in a forest, cleaving through them and leaving their blood-red cloaks stained no less crimson. What was left of the Southrons turned and fled and for a moment victory was to the men of Gondoras.

But then boulders began burying themselves in front of them. Many brave warriors were crushed. It was the trolls and Xitika hurling these rocks of death.

Suddenly the attacks stopped as the Shadow-Wraith rose from the ruin he had fallen in.

A deathly silence swept across the two armies as he rose above Theôn like a towering pillar of darkness. With a look of hatred burning in his eyes he raised his dark mace. It fell upon the young king. Theôn raised his shield but it was shattered and his arm was broken. The Shadow-Wraith raised his mace again, and again it was deflicted, this time by Theôn's short, magical sword. To the Shadow-Wraith it shone like the bright, cruel stars of faraway elven lands.

The wraith soon regained his will and drew a jagged luminous red sword with a pale white hilt and set with evil, pale white gems and crystals. He raised it for the killing blow.

Suddenly the men caught a flash of white and silver from the north, like a small shining star. It moved with the speed of an arrow and it grew larger as it came. It seemed to them that a pale light was spread about it and the dark shadows gave way before it. The Shadow-Wraith raised a black horn and blew it.

An evil screech echoed in the men's ears. A black shadow circle circled above their heads before dropping. The creature resembled a giant bat, except for its razor sharp talons and beak. It was totally black. The wraith mounted it, taking the black reins in his dark hands. The light was now visible as a rider upon a white steed wearing silver armor and white robes. His helm was silver and white and his white sword glittered in the sun like a swan in the sky.

The wraith wheeled in the pale sky as the rider passed under it. Its mount dropped, silver claws and beak stretching out. It wheeled towards the rider. But it seemed to the men that as the rider passed under, a shaft of white light stabbed upwards from his hand. The shadow-wraith screeched and wheeled away. Again he pounced and again he was driven back.

The rider's sword flamed with white fire as he rode. The shadow wraith gave one last wail and was swallowed up by the darkness.

The Southrons though did not give up. The drawing of their swords was like the glittering of stars. But with the white rider against them they could not win. Those whose surrendered were given horses and sent away, but none that flew ever passed through the mountains alive.

Theôn  called to the white rider. "Who are you?" he questioned. "Where do you come from?"

"I am Swift-Star, and I am the messenger of Elf-Stone. This I will take," said the man. He picked up the wraith's sword, and as he did the crystals seemed to purify and the pulsing red glow became paled.

He mounted his horse and with another flash of white and silver he was gone.


Friday, September 5, 2014

V. [Untitled]

Previous chapter: The Magic Gifts.

The march was long and hard and they fought many battles but finally at last they found the Swamps of No Return and the Black Gates. Theôn raised a silver horn to his lips and blew. The golden note echoes across the boggy land. The silence seemed heavy, mingled with uneasy coughs from the men.

Suddenly a figure appeared from the shadows. He was clothed in black and grey robes and a hood drooped over his face. Suddenly he threw back the hood revealing a face, which was really just rags of skin hanging about a shrunken skull. He cackled, then said in a slow, grey voice: "You wish usss to sssurrender?" He hissed. Theôn nodded. "Well, what iff we refuse?" His pale, deathly white hands suddenly turned black, and his bony fingers clawed at the black horn at his side and he cackled.

The men of Gondoras clashed sword upon shield and yelled fierce battle cries but the evil thing was not daunted.

His cackles turned to manic laughter, echoing in Theôn's men's ears. He raised a stained black hand. With a dark clang the black gates swung open, creaking upon their hinges, and from the sheet of darkness a curten of arrows rained down on them. Horses reared and flung their riders into the swamp. The panicking troops scattered, but in the midst of the havoc stood Shadow-Mane and Theôn, calling to his men. The young king seemed to shine with a golden-bronze light, standing alone.

Suddenly the darkness lifted, and courage flowed into the hearts of men as the light grew stronger. But then their courage burst like a bubble, as they saw the army they were facing.

No orcs were these, but wild men, trolls, Xitika and Southrons. Xitixa were an older race of trolls, stronger, swifter, more enduring. These wore crimson cloaks and curved scimitars were at their waists. The head of them had a black serpent on a scarlet background on his chest and wielded an ebony staff carved into the likeness of a twisted, hooded snake with two evil heads.


IV. The Magic Gifts

Previous chapter: Warrior's Dwelling.

"Good," Sparrow-Snake said. "Then I must give you some magical aid, the six items."

He went to the center of the room and drew a circle around him in the thick dust. "Sending my 'astral being' to Rôke," explained Sparrow-Snake.

*  *  *

Merlin-Hawk was pacing around the small room. Slowly a hazy, smoky form materialized. It shifted into the recognizable shape of Sparrow-Snake, slightly blurred at the edges.

"Sparrow-Snake!" Merlin-Hawk exclaimed.

"Yes, it is I," Sparrow-Snake said. His voice sounded odd. It was hollow and echoed slightly. "I have reached Xitia safely, and found the warrior Hand, and his friends. But there is also a man," he continued, "that claims he is a wizard. He wishes to accompany the warriors on their quest. He calls himself Elf-Stone."

"Elf-Stone!" Merlin-Hawk exclaimed, and a look of wonder came into his face. "The stones of light! It is though all the songs and tales have come true! Yes, yes, of course he can go!" Merlin-Hawk said, and went off muttering, "The stones of light!"

"Merlin-Hawk has agreed



Thursday, September 4, 2014

III. Warrior's Dwelling

Previous chapter: Xitia.

A woman stood in the door way. She had creamy-brown skin and dark curly hair. She was tall and muscular. She wore a simple jerkin and a long bow was slung at her back.

"Hello, True-Arrow," Elf-Stone said.

"Come in," she said in a soft yet strong voice.

They entered. Two figures were in the dull grey room. One was a young girl, about 17. She wore a dusty red cloak lined with gold and a deep purple jerkin. Her golden curls fell about her shoulders and a silver locket hung around her kneck. The other figure was a lean man, average height with a leather strap over his eyes. He looked incredibly agile and dextereyous. He was dressed in a pale green shirt and pants and a grey cloak was wrapped around him.

"Hand? Jade-Stone? Astral?" Sparrow-Snake asked.

They nodded.

"I have been sent from the Wizards Counsel," continued, "to ask you: will you go on a quest?"

"What is this quest?" Hand asked.

Sparrow-Snake told them of how they had been chosen to get the heart of the enemy kingdom, by stealth, and then confront the Nâzungûl.

"Do you except?" asked Sparrow-Snake.

There was a silence. Then Astral stepped forward. "Well I will," she said.

"Me too," True-Arrow put in.

Hand looked around him. "Well I guess I'm out-voted," he said with a sigh. "Count me in too."


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

II. Xitia

Previous chapter: Counsel of the Wizards.

Elf-Stone's keen eyes watched the dust cloud draw nearer. His grip tightened on his sword hilt as the rider came closer. The man looked weary, travel-worn. He wore shimming cloaks of pale grey and light-green and his snowy-white beard streamed behind him as he came. "Ho, stranger!" Elf Stone shouted. "What brings you here?"

"I am Sparrow-Snake, the 6th Wizard of Rôke," the man gasped.

Elf-Stone's grip relaxed a fraction. "What do you seek to have traveled so far?"

"I have come in search of the warrior Hand," answered Sparrow-Snake.

"The blind warrior?" Elf Stone said with a twinkle in his eye. A smile flickered on his breath. Before Sparrow-Snake could answer, Elf-Stone said, "Yes, I will show you where Hand lives. I am Elf-Stone, the White Dragon, Keeper of the 6 Swords, Last of the Sun Wizards. I can show you, on one condition."

"That is?"

"That I may come with him and his friends on their quest."

"I cannot promise ..." Sparrow-Snake said slowly. "But how did you know ...?"

"I knew," said Elf-Stone mysteriously. He shook his brown-blond hair back and disappeared into an alley. Sparrow-Snake followed. They went through the city, past black smiths and merchants and warriors' homes, until, finally, they came to a modest home-stead. Elf-Stone knocked twice. Slowly the door swung open.