SynopsisTen years ago, Pherin invaded the nation of Dorene, kidnapping their queen...but most of the citizens survived, traveling under the continent of Akransolo via the dwarven tunnels. Now, a young woman named Nora, secretly crowned as the new queen just before the invasion, must fight for the renewal of the nation. With thieves and assassins at her side, Nora must face her hardest walk.
ExcerptMara and Lazarus both chuckled in unison, and promptly glared at the other upon realizing they had done so. Seranoth merely shook his head and once more spoke. "Tersen could have given Avanon up quite easily, and kept the alliance safe between Dorene and Legros. However, he offered to face the captain of the Rider's in combat, claiming the age-old right to prove innocence by duel. Avanon begged him not to, but Tersen was a good man and did not want to see the dwarven prince killed for an accident."
"Word of the fight reached King Therion, and touched by Tersen's willingness to fight the man known as one of the greatest warriors of the age, he sent an envoy with a very special gift for the Doreneish king. It was an amulet that was said to be forged by the gods countless years ago, with a very special power, but there was far more to it than just that."
Nora timidly raised her hand. As Sarenoth nodded in her direction, she quietly asked a question. "Said to be? More to it? Wasn't it created by Sanctus and blessed by Naryia?"
For several long moments, the old man was silent, gently stroking his beard while the light from the fire danced in his eyes. He shook his head and started to speak, but then closed it again in thought. His audience all looked at him, seemingly confused by his sudden quiet.
"...No. It wasn't. Now I will tell you the story of where the amulet came from, as I said I would."
Nora adjusted her skirts again, while glancing to Mara who was once more tugging at Lazarus' hair while he did his very best to ignore her. She then looked to Garriet, who was staring with wide eyes at the old storyteller. "Please do, Sir Sarenoth. I would very much like to know."
"Our world was not created by the gods that we worship today." He smiled mirthlessly. "Though I do not expect you to agree with such a bold statement, but may the Two strike me down if I am lying. No, Naryia was not the creator. She had absolutely nothing to do with it. Creation of this world belongs to someone else."
It was a blasphemous statement, causing Lazarus to sit straight up, batting away Mara's hand which had paused in mid-tug-attack. "You speak heresy, old man. Chose your next words carefully." A tiny crackle of light could be seen forming on his fingertips, though the preparation seemed to only amuse Seranoth.
"You are a true Mage of the Citidel, Lazarus. I commend you for that. But there is no reason to take such offense. Remember, I am but a storyteller, and must embellish my statements or I would lose the attention of my audience, yes?"
Reluctantly, Lazarus laid back down, the electrical energy disappating from his fingertips. "Perhaps, old man," he said in aquiescence. "But I am not entirely convinced that you are not a heretic."
"...As I was saying. Long before the gods even appeared, there was another race of beings on this planet. They were older than the dwarves, older than the elves. In many ways, they were similar to we humans, but there was one very real difference.
The magic that we can conttrol today is absolutely nothing compared to what they had. They were blessed by Elya and Enric, the two who truly did create this world and everything in it. These people, known as the dryn, could do things that we today can only dream of. They could travel long distances in minutes, communicate through the continent without any difficulty in a matter of seconds. They were amazing people, and enjoyed creating things for the simple reason that it was enjoyable."
Seranoth paused, taking a deep breath after his long run of words. "They walked not only the lands of Akransolo, but Barvincia and the northern continents as well. However, as with all people-- be they human, dwarven, elvish or anything else, not all of them were good. In fact, some of them were quite wicked. One of them was a
woman named Farwyn."
"Farwyn was a Dryn warrior, always looking for a fight. She enjoyed violence and bloodshed and would often host tournaments, fights to the death. Quite often she herself would participate, but just as often she would watch, reveling in the terrible ways that people could die. In the years that passed in which she continued hosting, she slowly started to watch more and fight less. Some said the woman grew
stronger on other people's pain and torment."
Mara chuckled. "That sounds relatively normal around these parts."
Sarenoth shrugged. "Perhaps. But the story continues. Farwyn was slowly becoming a monsterous being, her Dryn powers corrupting into something terrible. In time, she was threatening to take control of the entire world, offering to stop if someone could best her in battle. Many men and women challenged her, but despite her years of simply watching her prize fights, she defeated them all."
"It was at that point that someone else stood up to face her. A young man by the name of Rhior quietly challenged Farwyn. At first, however, she refused. Why?"
Nora, Mara, and Garriet all looked expectantly at the storyteller, though Lazarus did his best to look bored.
"Why? Because that young man was her step-brother. She feared him. So she created something to protect her, because she could not continue refusing his challenges. That something was the amulet. She poured her wicked power into it, making something that would protect her from all physical harm."
"But the amulet is not evil!" Nora abruptly shouted, struggling to her feet in protest, nearly tripping over her long skirts. "It be a good thing!"
The storyteller just sighed theatrically. "Items are not evil. A thing without a soul cannot be good or bad. It, of course, all depends on how it is used. Now are you going to interrupt me again? Once more and I shall take my leave of you all."
No one answered, so he pressed on with the story. "In the end, the amulet protected her. She and Rhior fought to the death and he perished at her hands despite what should have been mortal wounds on her. He was the better fighter, after all, but she could not be killed by physical means."
"The Dryn took notice of this, and fearing that she would use this amulet even further to her advantage, called upon Elya and Enric to destroy the amulet and therefore her source of power. However, the two would not answer and the Dryn priests had to take matters in thier own hands. They wanted it to be destroyed, but Farwyn placed a protective spell on it-- it could only be destroyed by one thing, and its power would continue to aid her in her bloody conquests."
Mara opened her mouth to ask a question, but recalling Seranoth's threat, she
As though sensing her question, Seranoth grinned, his crooked teeth flashing in the firelight. "How did it get in the hands of the dwarves? Well, legend is unclear on that exactly, but the following most certainly happened. Farwyn neglected one very important thing in her quest for immortality and fame. She protected herself against physical harm, but old age and sickness soon crept up on her. The amulet could not be enchanted any further and one evening, the woman simply died in her sleep, surrounded by those who hated her. They stole her belongings, and the amulet was passed around to many for the next several centuries."
"It is guessed that the amulet was taken by the dwarves soon after the Dryn disappeared," Seranoth finished, starting to cough violently now that his story was over.
Lazarus was the first to say something. "...It could only be destroyed by one thing? What thing is that?"
In the middle of the cough, Seranoth smirked. "The one thing," he managed to choke out, looking once more directly at Nora. "Is Farwyn's sword. Swordsong."