A Familiar Place
ewyn glanced off into the horizon, the yellow-orange-pink sky receding behind mountains that seemed to loom over her small world. She glanced over the ice glazed land, searching for the fishing hole she made earlier that month. “About six leagues north of the gate—past the big boulder with the strange drawings on it—twelve steps northeast of the boulder.” Then a troubling thought occurred to her. “Is that right? What if I got it wrong?” Cutting another hole in the ice would take hours. Aewyn reassured herself that she remembered correctly, and trudged on through the snow.
Aewyn had just turned seventeen last spring. Her age, which would have been important to humans, held no satisfaction for her. She was an elf; tall, slender—with hair dark as the midnight sky and angular facial features. A branch and leaf-woven pack slung upon her shoulders and an iron dagger strapped to her leg.
The fishing spot was far outside the boundaries of Lyian. Mountains surrounded the small artic village and the vast forest behind it. It snowed most of the year; now was the time to hunt and fish for food. Rarely did it sprinkle a few inches or more of snow during the present month or the next.
Aewyn was experienced; she knew everyone’s hunting territories and what humans would do to keep people from stealing their game. Years ago she had found this spot, wandering upon the open frigid terrain, and had come back every year since.
Within the hour she found the boulder, and stopped. The carved faces in the boulder seemed to glare at her, making Aewyn uneasy. She torn her gaze from the boulder; there was many strange unexplainable things in the world. Her sable hair swayed with the howling wind; small ice-crystals forming at the tips of her hair and she could see her breath. Hands numb, Aewyn pulled off her pack and leaned it against the boulder.
She rubbed her hands together; summoning little warmth. Turning northeast she counted out twelve steps, kneeling on the twelfth step and brushing the thin layer of snow from the top of the hole. A thin sheet of ice had formed over the hole in the recent days—Aewyn could see where the existing hole had been.
Aewyn drew her cold, iron dagger from a sheath strapped to of her right leg. There was a crack, and she broke the ice with the pommel of her dagger. The pieces of ice floated in the slushy water, like a ship drifting upon the open sea. Aewyn put her dagger back in its sheath and retrieved her pack.
From it she took her Elm bow; a gift from Nalin, her brother of all but blood. Aewyn drew one arrow from her quiver, as well as three arm lengths of cord. A knot was tied around the bottom of the bow, and another for the arrow. She set the bow down and grabbed a small, cloth pouch with a dry-bait food to attract the fish.
Sprinkling the bait on top of the water, Aewyn grabbed her bow—sat and waited. She rocked back and forth, pushing the ground with her feet. A minute passed; two minutes; then ten. Aewyn shivered and tried to think of the warmth sitting by the fire in her home. It helped but the cold slowly kept creeping into her limbs.
A ripple in the ice water and the sudden pop of air bubbles at the surface interrupted her thoughts. Aewyn could see the shadow of an ugly, Swarmhead fish with tiny slit eyes and two deformed humps on both sides of its head. The Swarmhead had two rows of razor sharp teeth—for shredding and tearing.
Aewyn braced herself; on one knee and notched an arrow. She held steady—the fish swiftly swimming to the surface to grab the food. The arrow drew back—she took a moment to take aim—the drawstring released with a twang.
Water splashed, and the fish flopped around lazily in the water. Aewyn reeled the fish in by grabbing the cord hand-over-hand, reaching down to hook her already half-frozen fingers through its gills. The fish took several more breaths before going limp; she could feel the fish flexing its mouth and trying to bring oxygen into its lungs.
Aewyn drew her knife and quickly cleaned the fish; first removing the head and then splitting it up the belly. The organs she left in the fishing hole; hoping to bring more fish to catch in the coming week.
The fish was roughly one and a half meters. Not the biggest fish she had ever caught, but it would feed her family for a couple weeks. They needed the meat—they did not have the money to buy it from the markets.
The last several winters had been bad enough, especially when the traveling market failed to stop by the village. But a question still nagged at her: Will they come this year? Their crops barely last any time at all anymore, and without the market, everyone would starve except what they bagged in game.
Aewyn retrieved her pack and stuffed the outer pouch with snow. It would keep the fish cool at least until she got to the village. The fish was put firmly in place, and she packed more snow around the belly and the head.
Somewhere in the night a wolf howled—followed by serene silence all throughout the land. The wind raged with a hateful cry of loneliness, and then suppressed as the air seemed to push pressure down upon the earth.
The fish’s tail flopped back and forth as Aewyn slung the pack over one shoulder. She grabbed her bow and arrow; slung it over the other shoulder and set off towards Lyian.
A New Dominion
here was the distant sound of shrieking birds as a man of towering height and fierce, gray eyes paced along side the stone walls of the evil king’s castle. Faenin’s dark, brown curls fell upon his shoulders and his eyes scanned the room around him.
The only furnishings in the chamber were a wooden table and two chairs, one on each side of the table. To his left, a blazing fire crackled violently. A ray of morning light shone through a stone opening above the hearth.
Faenin had longed for the power he now wielded, despite the unbreakable oaths sworn to his master. But now he knew how to use magic that was not even practiced by the dark magicians, and this would allow him to have his revenge upon the world. He had gained a new ability, the ultimate manipulation of magic through his new title: a Dragon Servitor.
Faenin gritted his teeth at the thought of being a slave to the ruler of the gods and mortal earth men, selling his soul for his newfound abilities. He could not even name his dragon or his sword until Ralindorr deemed him worthy of.
Both he and Areyon, his Oath-Partner, could be twisted to do anything their master bade them to—no matter how hard they tried to resist.
“One day,” he thought “I will break my and my dragon’s bonds. So we can be free and not live like slaves under Ralindorr’s tyranny. If only we had more time to ourselves, we could figure out what spells were woven to bind us to our oaths.”
Faenin turned as Areyon accompanied by one of Ralindorr’s nobles entered through an age-worn entrance.
Areyon was shorter than he; with a medium build and bright golden hair. His soot-black tunic matched his cape that swept across the floor, sending dust into the air. There was the loud thumping of boots thumping Areyon came to stand beside him.
A gleaming, clear sword hung at Areyon’s waist. The blade of a Servitor’s sword gained its luster of the rider’s dragon when the bond was strong enough between the two that the sword became an extension of not only the body but the mental link connecting the Servitor and their dragon.
Ralindorr’s restrictions prevented this from happening, and thus they wielded almost the same blade. The only difference was the slight adjustments he made to the hilt and the point of the blade.
The messenger stayed in front of both Areyon and him—fear reflected from the man’s eyes. This amused Faenin, to know that he was feared by those who had lesser titles than him.
“He should have a reason to fear me,” Faenin thought “But soon I will be even stronger than Areyon or the elves.”
He then turned his attention back to the moment, and the noble. There was sweat upon the noble’s brow and the man averted his eyes. A garnished robe of blue satin dressed the messenger, and several scrolls were tucked under his right arm.
“Master has sensed and foreseen a great threat in the province of Eironoshia. A girl….” He stopped—, coughed into the crease of his elbow—, then resumed. “An elf in Lyian, a small arctic village to the north. The both of you,” he gestured to Areyon and him “are to find and eliminate the young elf at all costs. She must not live long enough to become a new Vëk-raon.
The man went quiet for a moment, but then the noble saw that Faenin was going to speak and interrupted him.
“Don’t ask me how he knows; master only told me to give you your task.”
The messenger stood there, a look of concern on his face as he glanced between Areyon and him, as if to decipher their emotions. For a moment the man waited, fidgeting with his scrolls. There was his heavy breathing, then the scratching sound of metal as Faenin adjusted his gauntlet and clenched his hand. A scurrying noise came from a black spider moving from the fire to the chair.
“When will our master stop sending us on these pointless and rather irritating tasks?” Faenin roared as he paced back and forth. “There is nobody powerful to stop us or challenge us in the land of Eironoshia, yet he lets Tëra-lon, the city that provides refuge for those foul-blooded traitors who rebel against the New Empire, oppose us! Where is our master’s dominion? Why does he cower in this castle, secluded for most of the day, when the Empire is corrupt? Faenin took a quick breath as he vented his anger “We could be looking for Garnyr, the escaped dragon! But instead we are sent to rid the land of some petty elf-girl. He has the power of a thousand elves, and every race in Eironoshia fears his name!”
Areyon stood calm—undiminished by his words—and this angered Faenin even more. Sweat appeared upon Faenin’s brow; he bared his teeth as he swore under his breath. The messenger stepped back, terrified.
“Our master sends us on these “irritating tasks” as you call them to test us. And he allows Tëra-lon to still exist because he knows that it will never oppose a threat to his throne with the power he has. He also tests us to¬¬—
“To determine if we are worthy. I have heard this a hundred times. I have to disgrace my dragon every time that I speak with him. To not own the title of your own name, the thought of it coats my tongue with bile. It is unjust and disgusting. So do not lecture me like you are better than me!” Faenin bellowed at Areyon.
In one swift motion and a mighty shout, Faenin drew his sword and swung at the messenger. There was the sound of metal tearing flesh along with a red mist of blood. He felt the sword and the man’s head give way as the blade sliced through the neck.
Gasping of the man’s windpipe was then followed by a loud thump as the messenger’s body and head fell to the cold, stone floor. Scrolls he’d been holding scattered everywhere across the floor, and red blotches stained the parchment. The messenger moved twice more and then he was no more
Faenin wiped his blade upon the edge of his gray cape, and then spoke to Areyon through clenched teeth.
“You are lucky Oath-partner,” Faenin spat, “that our oaths to the king prevents me from providing you with a similar fate. You would make a formidable opponent.” He smirked, challenging Areyon.
“Maybe one day, brother.” Areyon growled at him. “But do not be so sure that you would win.”
Faenin scowled and walked over to the round doorway of the room. “You are no brother of mine.” he said harshly. There was his steady breathing, the sounds of footsteps in the distance. As he leaned against the entrance to the chamber, his sword bounced off the stone, a metallic clink filling the hallway.
Four soldiers garbed in iron greaves, hauberks hanging to their knees, and in dark gray tunics with the emblem of a sword welded to a flaming shield ran up to Faenin. They either had a standard iron short sword with a shield or a barbed spear in their hands, and they looked ready to battle.
“We heard someone yelling,” said one of the soldiers. “It sounded like somebody was in trouble…” He fell silent as he glanced into the room and saw the dead messenger lying upon the ground, head removed.
“Get this mess cleaned up, I don’t want his blood all over the place.” Faenin told them. “The “God of Kings” will not be happy when he hears of this, so be aware that many of you will be slain in his frustration. Good luck….and farewell” He said, a touch of sarcasm in his voice. He then spun on his heels, cape swishing through the air, and left the soldiers to what he ordered them to do.
Areyon had followed him as he exited the castle, but he had never said a word to him. They both walked over to the edge of the cliff, which surrounded their master’s castle except the south entrance. He moved his foot back as a pebble pulled loose from the cliff, and he summoned his dragon with his mind; as did Areyon.
“O’ mighty dragon, let us embark on this quest and earn our names! Let us be known and feared! Join me on this next task and we will be much stronger. Then we might be able to break our bonds and live free among the land.” Faenin shouted with his mind.
“Humph, touching speech indeed,” the dragon spoke. “Will it be true this time, or another lie woven by that dragon-slaying-oath-breaking-traitor?” the dragon inquired with penetrating curiosity. “We dragons are nothing but savage beasts from the wild without a proper name. It sets the furnace in my chest thundering with rage, my scales itching with aggravation.”
A few seconds passed before their dragons jumped from their lair in the side of the embankment and his dragon flew up to join him. Both dragons were magnificent beasts, scales rippling with light as the sun beamed off of them.
His dragon was the color of the midnight sky. The black dragon was bigger than Areyon’s scarlet red dragon, and it had a wingspan two feet longer than the red dragon. Areyon’s dragon had several more spikes along the jaw than that of his dragon. Both had fierce talons, which could slice a cow in half with ease.
Their tails swung side to side as they flapped their wings and landed next to Areyon and him. His dragon let out a roar, and then Areyon’s dragon roared in return. The dragon’s heavy lidded eye stared at Faenin. It was a dark, inquisitive look—one that could strip him of any thought whatsoever.
“What is our task, Faenin? If you stall much longer I will take it as ignorance,” a puff of smoke rose from the dragon’s nostrils, “and dragons are higher than king or royal—no one should dare ignore a dragon. We dragons have a tenacity to eat and . . . . tear little fleshlings like humans that do.” The dragon growled, further expressing his point
Faenin apologized and told his dragon about the young elf and what they must do. His dragon accepted this, and motioned for him to mount up in the leather saddle placed upon its back. He scratched his dragon roughly under the chin, and then moved to the front leg of the dragon.
“You did not have to kill the messenger,” Areyon yelled to Faenin as they ascended up the front leg of their dragons and into the leather saddle. “He did nothing to become a victim of your uncontrolled rage.”
With three, great strokes of the dragons’ leathery wings, both dragons and riders flew into the sky. The sun was now setting, the orange-pink sky meeting the horizon as they began their journey towards the small arctic village.
As he grasped hold of a spike of the black dragon’s neck, Faenin mumbled to himself. “Then maybe Oath-partner, you are on the wrong side.”