Coundon, Coventry, West Midlands, England
“You wanted to see me, sire?”
“Yes, Hacona, I did. The boy, where is he?”
“His pattern suggests he is heading toward Vetsom. We have scouts out to find him”
“Damn to his parents, causing us this much trouble.”
“The boy was obviously going to become a paladin. If we had kept him we probably would have been in even more trouble than we are in now!”
“Pacis Quod Merisicordia cannot afford any more of this. See to it that your scouts find him.”
“Yes, sire!” The Commander backed out of the hall, and began to set his men to work, afraid of what the king would say if he failed. Let’s just say, he did not want to find out...
A stern and aging wizard looked down at Rhen. Her portal hadn’t fully worked, and had been pretty rough, sending her spiralling and hitting the ground with enough force to knock her unconscious. Coming round, Rhen felt dizzy, but knew she could stand.
“Where’s my horse?” Rhen groaned. A hoarse voice answered.
“Being looked after by the castle grounds keepers. The king wants to see you.” The woman pulled Rhen up, and then nodded towards two people standing in the doorway.
“Amie! Samsoon!” Rhen exclaimed as her vision cleared and she was able to make out the figures of her two best friends. They smiled and ran to her.
“What are you guys doing here?”
“No idea”, replied Samsoon. Amie simply shook her head.
“A mystery…How fun” Rhen said, more than slightly sarcastically.
“Your luggage is already in your room. You two, show her to it!” Amie rolled her eyes and grabbed Rhen by the hand, dragging her through corridors. After Rhen’s eyes finally finished focusing and her head stopped spinning, she began to admire the scenery with awe. Pillars and towers sparkled in the moonlight, and the constant trees and gardens within the city walls were outstanding to look at, despite the diminished light. The buildings ranged in size and features, from small shacks, to large palaces with young, pretty girls hanging out of window, laughing at the streets below. Birds and other small creatures pecked and poked at large hats and scraps of food on the streets. Eventually, they came to a long river that flowed through the entire city, and across the water, white with the reflection of the moon, was the city keep. The building was the largest they had seen so far, and also the most magnificent. However, the outside was nothing compared to the inside. Carpets of royal red thread covered the floors, while the walls were coloured with majestic flavours, and gold wall decorations covered the walls and precious items made of metals that are likewise precious were on tables on the sides of the corridor. On either side of the corridor, passages and doors led to an array of different rooms and gardens. Eventually, Amie, Rhen and Samsoon came to a circular room with four doors. Samsoon went to his own room after hugging Rhen, and Amie pointed Rhen toward her room.
“Thanks, Amie! See you later”
“See you Rhen…” Rhen opened her door. The room in which Rhen was to stay in was almost an exact replica of her orphanage room. Clean sheets on the bed, a desk and chair, with a window next to the bedstand. But the furniture was more elaborate, and obviously comfier. Her satchel she had attached to Midnight was on the bed with a note on top.
Dear Rhen Sachem,
You will be lodging here for about two weeks, so feel free to unpack and get integrated into your surroundings.
There was no name on the note, and Rhen began to unpack, while dwelling on who could have attached it. The handwriting looked like her own, which had changed after she studied magical runes. Therefore, Rhen supposed it was probably written by the mage she had woken up to. However, exhausted from her earlier fall, Rhen lay down on the bed and fell asleep…
A young girl ran up and jumped onto a bed. A man was sleeping on the bed, covered in sweat and trying his best to cuddle his little girl, but was unable to. A man dressed in magnificent clothing entered the room and removed the girl from the bedside. The King whispered to his friend, and told him his little girl would be O.K. But the man heaved a deep breath, before releasing it and taking in no more. The king picked up the dark skinned elf girl and gave her a squeeze, before handing her to the Brother in front of her. He took her in his arms and whispered a prayer.
“What is her name?”
“Rhen Sachem, an elf, with possible magical attributes.” Brother Aam took the child out of the keep, and into the forest…
A stream of light pouring in through Rhen’s window woke her up. Grateful for being allowed to wake up when she wanted to, she slowly got up. No shrill bell to answer to, Rhen dressed at her own pace, pondering her dream. She had always had dreams about her father and mother, but they had always been alive when she had done so, with herself, happy and living all together. A child’s dream about her lost parents. But recently, she had begun to remember what actually happened, and it stung her mind to think of it. A knock at the door interrupted her thoughts, however.
“Rhen... Samsoon wants you!” came Amie’s voice.
“Coming!” Rhen, dressed in a short, blue and purple dress, (It was too hot to wear a heavy robe), came out of her room and greeted Amie, who was dressed in similar attire, but her dress was green, and was fitted to allow herself to have a quiver and bow on her back. She wasn’t armed, so Rhen put her daggers down on the desk behind her. Amie enquired how Rhen was feeling, and Rhen was optimistic in her reply that she was. Then, Rhen skipped other to Samsoon’s door, and knocked, wondering why he would want her first thing when she woke up. After a minute or two passed, and Samsoon didn’t answer, Rhen knocked again harder. This time the door opened, with the dwarf on the other side. Her height compared to Samsoon’s made it hard to imagine that the two could be friends.
“Rhen, come in,” Rhen entered the room with Samsoon in front, staring at the walls. The room had been decorated exactly how she had expected it to be. Posters of the Dwarf band, LittleBig’uns, who often played in the centre of Vetsom, the Dwarf city, and in the main court of Malwrym, were plastered all over the walls, His clothes were thrown around the room, and his guitar was propped up against his bed. A stereotypical dwarf’s room.
“So, wassup?”Rhen was concerned when his expression suddenly turned grave.
“Rhen, Amie...”Before Samsoon could finish, Amie entered the room and interrupted the conversation.
“The King wants to see us-now” The three of them left the room and met the Lieutenant Colonel Genba Milriat. The human looked somewhat nervous when his eyes met Rhen. Rhen herself felt uncomfortable, and tried to avoid eye contact.
“Follow me,” They did as they were told, and admired the scenery as they went through even more elaborate parts of the keep. Eventually, even Rhen lost track of all the twists and turns they encountered as they moved throughout the corridors.
“Out of interest,” Rhen interrupted the silence, “How did you guys know I’m here?”
“We were told that you had arrived. To be honest, we wanted to know if you knew anymore about this whole affair than we did.”
“I got a letter, just asking me to come here by order of King Kocure, you?”
“Samsoon and I were the same.”
“This whole thing is weird. Well hopefully this…will…sort…things…out…” An indescribable room lay before them. Pillars of gold lay either side of a pathway through a grand hall. Workers and scribes dressed in almost regal attire walked hastily in between these pillars, seeing to their business. At the end of this hall, a throne, covered in golden drapes made of majestic fibres, had its occupant sit up at the sight of the three teenagers. He clapped his hands, and immediately, the bustling and noise of the people in the room ceased. The Lieutenant Colonel beckoned for Rhen to walk forward, followed by Amie, and then Samsoon. The elf on the throne, who Rhen and Samsoon had immediately recognised as King Cameterie Kocure, (The King had helped a lot with the dwarf population in Shen (Where Samsoon grew up), during the Vetsom civil war, which is why Samsoon knew who he was), and Amie soon identified him after, spoke in a grand voice, full of confidence and, as soon as he spoke, you felt an imposing presence.
“Rhen Sachem, Amie Hammer and Samsoon Urmon. The three of you together is no mere coincidence. However, that is a story for another time. For the time being, you need to focus on the job at hand, rather than philosophy and prophecies. I need you to retrieve and artefact for me.”
“Sire, with all respect, we are sixteen, and Amie still fifteen. What can we do that your seasoned warriors cannot?” Rhen was the first to interrupt the King, and received glares from members of the crowd. However, Rhen held her nerve and ignored them.
“I cannot explain, young mage. My mind is made up. There will be no further discussion on the topic.” Stern words they were, and Rhen and Amie were set back by them. Samsoon instinctively reached toward his axe, as he always did when he felt scared, or when an attack was imminent. The three bowed before the King and then left the room. Samsoon was unusually quiet, and Rhen had a good idea why.
“Well, I’m going for some target practice, we probably going to need it, coming, Rhen?”
“Will you be Ok Samsoon?” Samsoon nodded at Rhen, before heading off to his room with the Lieutenant Colonel. Amie and Rhen followed when they remembered that they needed to pick up their bows from their rooms (and in Rhen’s case, a few pieces of parchment too). The corridors were just as confusing as before, and Rhen assumed that this was probably a different route, as many of the paintings did not match what she had seen previously. Arriving in her room, Rhen found that her old knifes and bow was still there, but there was also two new, shining daggers and a proper, Elvin bow made of fine materials. Holding it up, she noticed that her name had been engraved in the wood. She smiled and grabbed her quiver, daggers and parchment. On closing her door, she saw Amie with a great big grin on her face, holding a new bow. It was even more majestic than Rhen’s, and the two of them walked through the castle with their weapons, talking the whole time.
“You failed, Hacona. You are lucky you do not share the same fate as your scouts.”
“Sire, if you please, the boy is on the road to Vetsom, and the trolls have sparked up a war with the dwarfs. We cannot travel the roads without encountering ambush after ambush.”
“I have provided you with the finest soldiers, scouts and mages from our arsenals, let alone members of the High Arcane Council. If you cannot handle it, then I shall just have to find a replacement...”
“NO! Sire, I will get the boy. We will leave tomorrow, and not return till we have him”
“Good, otherwise, you know what will happen...”
An arrow landed straight on where the heart would be on an enemy. Rhen stepped up and hit the same target.
“So, Amie, your parents ok with this?”
“Ummmm well, they don’t actually know about it.”
“Well, you know I never liked them, well when we left school, I went home when they were out, grabbed my things, and came to Malwyrm. I was living in a house when I got my summons. Samsoon was with me because his mother never came home to meet him. He has no idea what happened to her, so don’t mention it, please.”
“Well, you hated your parents, especially your mother, but for Samsoon... His father’s still on the front line isn’t he?”
“Yes” Rhen couldn’t portray how sorry she felt for Samsoon. She had lost her parents at such a young age she didn’t even remember them, but Samsoon had known them all his life.
“What about your parents, Amie? Surely they must be worried?”
“Doubt that.” Amie avoided eye contact for a few minutes of uncomfortable silence. The two of them took turns throwing arrows, and in Rhen’s case, spells at the dummies at the first underground level of the keep.
“Rhen, what do you reckon that we have to get, this artefact?”
“No idea, but we don’t need to know. If we did, we would have been told” Rhen doubted her words as she said them, “But I do know something. We need to be getting back soon, otherwise Samsoon and the guards will think we’ve been kidnapped or something. They’ll send a whole army after us” Amie laughed at this. The both of them knew this was only because there wasn’t much to laugh at anymore. They made their way back to their rooms, and quickly made their goodbyes. Rhen checked with the guards that Samsoon was in his room, before returning to her own room. She wasn’t sure how she was going to cope with two weeks of this...
Children of ages as young as eight, dressed in varying yet similar uniforms, all dictating what classes they belonged in, ran through halls, while the older ones, dressed in respectable attires that had badges of status and achievement all over, walked calmly and proudly through the halls. Three students of fifteen laughed as they walked with unchallenged pride. They wore the highest clothes of each of their classes, and each of these sets of clothes was different. One of the girls wore a sea blue robe, with many badges dedicated to arcane magic achievements. The other girl wore a tunic, with a bow and quiver on her back, again with numerous badges. The boy wore heavy mail with a mace on his back. He had the least badges, but he was still extremely proud of them. As they parted in a three way corridor, they smiled, wishing that these times of harmony would never end. But as they reached their classroom, they were all told of a war that they were supposedly destined to fight in after their period of study. The halls no longer echoed joyful laughter, but the footsteps of superior students being taken to join an army that would never return...
Rhen awoke scared of the vision she had just had. Her time at the Alroom Academy with Amie and Samsoon had parts that she never wanted to remember or see again. One day, she thought, you could meet someone, the next day, they would be gone. She and her friends were lucky, but not everyone was so fortunate. Becoming scared of her own mind, which was trying to torture her with her worst memories, the majority of which so far she did not even knew she had, Rhen tried once again to ignore the dreams, but it was becoming harder with every new one. She left the room, fully equipped with weapons, as concern was gripping her and providing her with fear...