|DeviantArt Cred: ignisfatuusii|
Chapter 1 - The Unicorn Queen, The Samurai & The Wizard
Chapter 2 - The Unicorn Queen: Ari's Origin
Chapter 3 - The Samurai: Eru's Origin
Chapter 5 - The Elven Trials
Ari looked out as the sun set over the horizon, she pondered at the spot where the tormented Hocirne had been just a moment ago. To be so young and to have lost his mother in such a brutal fashion, she felt such heartache for him.
"We should head back to the nearest tavern for now, they might have rooms to lay rest for the day." Eru looked defeated as she gathered up what remained of their supplies.
A sharp sound caught Ari's attention, the baby dragon was beside her. Looking up at her with mournful slitted yellow eyes. Sigh, another motherless child for her to deal with. "Little one, what shall we name you hmm? Tarlock? No that's doesn't sound right. I know! I will name you after your mother begone. Brieme."
Without their horses, they were left to walk alongside Brieme towards the tavern. "That's a wonderful name Ari. Say, what ever did you do back there with the guards? The last thing I remember was you singing a most ethereal song." Eri asked as they picked up pace with the wind's tide.
"My papa called it the Maiden's Melody, not heard in a hundred centuries prior. They had thought the gift lost to the ages until I began singing on my 200th centenary. The melody manipulates the emotions of others, meaning I can make them feel whatever it is I want them to feel." Ari frowned at that admittance and Eru's bewildered reaction, in her land it made her special, an outcast. Here it made her more so. Ari closed her eyes and pictured her realm once more.
|DeviantArt Cred: Nagatuki|
***Ari and Eru walked into the tavern, weary of the road they had traveled, longing for a moment of peace where they could each reflect on what had just happened.
“Why do we have to wait for him? I thought you said he’s some sort of great wizard that could help, not a stumbling block to get Hterag back.” Ari continued her rant as they searched the busy tavern for an open seat.
“I said he is a great wizard. He is. But he needs training. Did you see the havoc he can create with untamed magic? Be patient. Things will work out as they should” Eru walked toward an open table and sat down. The air in the tavern was foul, reeking of breaths soaked in ale and humid bodies tired after a hard days work.
“He will be back in due time, and then we will continue on our mission to find your Hterag.”
Ari acknowledged the waitress walking in their direction with a fresh ale on her tray, the waitress made her way over. “Oh my, what brings such fair ladies to a tavern such as this? Be careful who you meet in places like these ladies, there are a lot of wolves in sheep’s clothing. But then again, I guess there’s a lot of sheep in wolves clothing ey?” The perky waitress gave a slight chuckle and started to turn around. Ari looked at Eru with disbelief, it was the first mortal in this realm that freely spoke to them. The waitress swiftly spun back to the two and whispered, “You might want to cover your hair, you're gaining a lot of attention from some dangerous folk.”
On that note she was called away to another table. Eru immediately covered her hair with her cape and looked around the room. One by one making a summary of the collection of mortals, their weapons and a guess at their agility and combat ability. Once she summarized everyone, she felt at ease with herself. She would be able to defend herself, Ari and the waitress if need be. Finally her gaze fell to Ari, looking back at her with a questioning look “I’ve finished my ale, you haven’t touched yours or said a word about our situation. What will we do?”
Eru sighed deeply and wiped tiny beads of sweat off her brow “I wish I had all the answers Ari, I truly do. But we have to be patient. Have you seen anyone looking at us?”
Ari smiled guiltily and glanced around the tavern “Who is sitting there at the far corner? She can’t keep her eyes off of us.” Eru smiled, so Ari noticed and took in her surroundings even though she did not show it. Pride. It was a feeling she had long forgotten, left behind in a land far away, a land she was starting to think she’d never reclaim. Eru pushed back the thoughts clouding her view of reality in this moment and looked at the woman sitting in the corner. She was dressed neatly, the difference between her surrounding and attire was striking. She was out of place, but somehow Eru thought this woman was right where she wanted to be. “Don’t stare at her Eru! It’s rude” As if the woman had heard their conversation, she slowly lifted her head, and looked right into Eru’s eyes.
Ari stood up “I’m going to go talk to her” Eru and Ari have only been a team for a few days at most, but Eru knew how this would end. There was no stopping Ari when she had her mind set, so the best she could do was hastily down her ale and make her way over to the woman to make sure that Ari didn’t get herself into a sticky situation by losing control of her emotions.
"Oi, why are you staring at us mortal? I demand answers." Ari stood there hand on hip ready to take on the world.
The woman chuckled, her big beady neckles danced upon her ample bosom. "Verily, I apologize. I am named Valencia, I hail from the southern kingdom and I was told to wait for your here."
"Wait for who? Us? Why?" Eru asked in perplexion.
"I was beseeched to wait for the green haired gaijin and her pinked haired companion. You see I am on a grave mission from my queen. It is urgent that I must speak with thee." Valencia's heavy set golden bracelets jingled as she moved to make room for them as her rather large frame took up most of the room of the booth.
In a surprising turn of events, Valencia told them her mission. To retrieve the Looking Glass from an Elven clan in the mountains. In exchange, her queen was prepared to offer them a way to Ari's realm. Eru regarded the woman suspiciously, who did this queen know of their plan to visit another realm. What was more disturbing was the lack of stories Eru had heard about the southern queen. Every other kingdom was afresh with gossip on their royal rulers, yet not a whisper of this one. "I thought the elves went extinct a millennia ago."
Valencia smiled politely, "I know not of such things but my queen has arranged an escort for you."
"Do you trust her Eru? You ought to be more careful in your deals youngling, I've only been a short time in this land and your fellow mortals have had terrible behavior."
Eru sighed, "I am cautious Ari, but this is our only option at the moment. Take heed, our escort should be arriving shortly."
Eru and Ari waited beside the Spirit waterfalls, the vapor of falls carried to them dampening their hair. Thunder and storm brewed in the east, an iron stoned castle in its wake. Brieme who had been playing gleefully in the falls, came galloping to tuck his head under Ari's arm as the thunder boomed in the distance. A time later when the storm hit them, they took cover at a near by ledge, looking out into the storm for their assigned escort who appeared to be frustratingly late.
Suddenly, though not entirely like, an elf appeared in the same way that Merlin did. As if through the very fabric of the air. He glanced back at the iron stoned castle and pulled at his obsidian cloak.
|DeviantArt Cred: Martaemilia|
His was long and dark, with the sudden contrast of piercing ice blue eyes framing his eyebrows. The armor under his cloak almost swirled with the storm as it connected.
Ari regarded him coldly but Eru could not help but stare. He did not look like any man she had seen before, then again this was no man before her but an elf, an elf in blackened armor. "You must be the escort, well don't just stand there. Introduce yourself."
The elf smirked at Ari's demand as if a child has just asked him for a sweet. "The name's Kcin of the Remerb clan. Forgive my lateness, those mountain trolls can be a pain to deal with."
"Mountain trolls? First elves now mountain trolls. I was told the mortals ruled these lands and that such beings were driven to extinction in eons past." Eru inquired, unsure as to why her heart beat loudly as he stepped closer to them. Something about him resonated with her at her very core.
Kcin chuckled heartily, "It's true the humans do outnumber us fair folk but alas our extinction has been the subject of political hogswash, meant to give a sense of safety. Come, we must journey a day's trek towards the eastern mountains if you wish to reach the entrance to the Elven lands."
Kcin gestured for them to follow as strode off into the storm without a care.
The trek was long and hard, through sleeted snow and burnt rock. Kcin had no intention of stopping even they struggled through the harsh conditions. Worse still was his insistence on climbing a damned mountain top. It took them longer than a day to reach its zenith but alas the survived. The view from atop the peak, was breathtaking. Lush greenery sprawled out as far as the eye could see, decadent waterfalls streamed through the burnt rock of the distant mountains. Upon their descent, Kcin held up a hand and hurried them behind a boulder.
Thundering footsteps could be heard, the noise of armor echoing as it did. Before Eru, a marvelous yet impossible sight awaited her. Golden warriors marched in complete unison as if of one mind. In the lead was an Elven woman with luminescent blue-purplish eyes.
|DeviantArt Cred: jasontn|
Kcin grunted, "Hellfire! Varda has decided to go ahead then."
Ari pushed at Kcin's shoulder, "Decided on what exactly?"
Kcin palmed at his face in tiredom, "The invasion plan, they attack at dawn. The dawlish clan will march unto the east pointed kingdom in full force and annihilate its ruler."
Eru clutched at her chest, remembering all to well the carnage war always brought. "I don't understand, the stories, elves are supposed to be naught but peaceful delicate beings. Recluse and in tune with nature."
"It's true we elves descend from the fairies of old but alas these later generations have evolved beyond those limitations. They are bred for nothing but war and war is what they will bring unto this world. We must hurry to their vault before all is lost."
Kcin led the way towards the shoreline, and presented to an eastern facing mountain side.
He took out a piece of white rock and began drawing intricate symbols upon the bare rock.
"What is this elf doing now?" Ari whispered whiling absent-mindedly patting on Brieme's scaly head. His tail wagged out in furious appreciation.
Eru shushed at Ari as they watched Kcin finish off the symbols with an appraising glance. "Ah, that should do it. Eru, you're up."
"What do you mean. I'm up? You've brought us this far. You go."
Kcin eyes glazed over as if he was encircled in an altogether unpleasant memory.
|DeviantArt Cred: takeyourhatred|
"The trials within call for a warrior of pure heart and fierce loyalty. It will not allow an elf from another clan to enter." He explained.
Eru sensed that that wasn't the entire story but lamented on completing the task. As she got up to stand before the symbols, Ari stood beside her with a determined expression. "Warrior or not, I didn't come this far to sit out here like some pampered queen. We do this together." Eru's chest inflated, never had she experienced such friendship before nor had anyone been willing to risk their life with her outside of battle.
Kcin uttered an incantation and a doorway erupted through the rock sending debris everywhere. Eru and Ari stepped into the narrow cavern, startled as the doorway closed loudly behind them. Even though Eru had been trained to fight in the blind, even her vision could not pierce the darkness around them. Ari began to literally glow, every inch of her became illuminated in glorious white light. "That's a new one." Eru marveled.
Ari shrugged and urged them forward, until the happened upon a large dome like cave. Surprisingly the floor beneath them was all made of glass, it bottomed out into an abyss below. "Great, how in the transenoble tails are we suppose to find a Looking glass amidst all this other-"
"BBBRRRRRRROOOOAR!!!" The rocked ceiling above them quivered and splintered as a massive sound erupted from the gloom of the cave. A gigantic monster came pounding towards them, it's heavy footfalls causing cracks to appear in the glass.
Ari shrieked and shrunk back in terror, "Who the hell leaves that thing to guard a place where the floor is made of bloody glass?!"
From Kcin's earlier descriptions during their trek, Eru summed that this was a mountain troll. Green blistering skin and all. It had on a sheer loin cloth for cover around the midsection with a belt made out of skulls. Eru didn't miss a step, her body taking over in muscle memory. This is what she knew, this is what she was chosen for. She pushed Ari out of the way and sidestepped the beast as he went barreling into the cave wall, sending chunks of burnt rock flying out around him.
She lifted off her heels, calculating now that her speed would win them this. Eru danced around the giant to an attempt to anger and disorient him further. This time when the beast came barreling towards her, she effortlessly scalled the far cave wall, defying gravity as she went. Just as the giant was to reach her, she flipped out curving her body in the air as she landed upon the giant's shoulders. She withdrew two hunting knives from the small her back in quick succession and drove them into either side of the beast's pulsing neck muscles. It took but a minute for the beast to feel the acid and poisonous touch of her blades. A gift from her father of course, dipped in manticore venom and fermented in summer sun. The giant went crumbling down causing large fissures to appear in the glass floor. Eru bent over, breathing deeply from the exertion. Those muscles were thick and had stripped much of her strength. She turned to notice Ari smiling broadly with a piece of glass within her hands.
"I found it!" She exclaimed.
Ari had to practically haul Eru out of the cave, she was completely drained from more than just that battle yet they did not know from what. All Ari cared about was getting them out from there. As the door to the vault opened, they both gasped at the sight before them. A legion of elves, all....dead. Bloody bodies were strewn across the beach and in the center of them stood Kcin with a dark expression that now claimed his face.
|DeviantArt Cred: arsinoes|
"No, it cannot be." Eru said as she fell to her knees. "He's a dark elf."
Kcin smiled sickeningly, "The Baboon Queen will be most pleased at your success."
Thusly, we chose to name this forthcoming collection - The Zemjla Dosta Chronicles.
Zemlja Dosta means "The Land of Plenty" in Bosnian. Thanks Sumarie-chan :-)
Hope you enjoyed reading chapter 5.
~Be Kind to One Another~ Ellen Degeneres