A/N: This novel has been discontinued, in case you didn't see that in the summary
Rhen was stunned by the letter she held before her. The words swirled around on the paper as she stared and lost focus, then blinking to restore it. Her legal guardian, Brother Aam, was on the other side of the dining room table, surrounded by the orphans who also lived under the care of the church. As the oldest, Rhen was allowed to sit next to a roaring fire at dinner time; one of the many perks of this status within the orphanage.
“What is this letter about then, Rhen?”
“Ummmm” Rhen was only just returning to reality after focusing on the letter for so long. She saw all the other children staring intently at her. “King Cameterie Kocure...” Astonished gapes and gasps arose from all the young elves at the table at the mentioning of the name of the King of their beloved city-Malwrym. Rhen waited for them to calm down before continuing. “He wants me to meet him in Malwrym as soon as possible. No specification why.” The last statement was guided by the tone of her voice and the direction her eyes looked in toward Brother Aam.
"Malwrym???" The Brother looked very uneasy at the mention of his ward travelling so far. "Well, if that is what our monarch wants...I should not want to defy him..." Rhen immediately assumed that this meant she was allowed to go. She smiled inside and was suddenly filled up with a burst of emotions. Life in the orphanage had been dull without the hope of going to the academy by September.
"But, of course, the only form of transport we will be able to provide for you at such short notice is your own horse, Midnight," Rhen was secretly very pleased when Brother Aam told her this. The stunning black horse that she often rode was one of her best friends when she was at home. “You will, of course, have to leave tomorrow at the summons of such a powerful figure. I suggest you pack as soon as you have eaten your soup.”
Surprised by the lack of protest given from Brother Aam, Rhen guessed that he had already been informed of the nature of this invitation. After the open permission for her to go on what may prove to be a long and perilous journey, she was excited and ate faster than normal. Once she had finished, she thanked Brother Aam and ran up the stairs.
The rooms in which the fifteen children who lived in this sector of the church were along the corridor in the attic, with seven on one side, eight on the other. The rooms were identical apart from the size. The younger and older children got the large rooms, and the unfortunate children in between had the smallest ones. Inside the rooms was a desk with a chair, a bed and a wardrobe with two drawers. The simple furnishing lacked any personality.
Rhen had the largest room, and as this was to be the last room she had in the orphanage, she was allowed to personalise her room however she wanted to, so her plain room had become plastered with posters and vibrant colours. Most of the posters were written in languages that only she understood within the orphanage, and she liked it that way. It meant less people to realise that the posters were about.
On opening her door, she, much to her horror, discovered her personalisation had been removed by one of the sisters while she was eating (she had only tacked them up loosely, so it wouldn’t have taken long). This confirmed her suspicion that Brother Aam had known about this before she had, and was planning to move Lottie, the girl below her in age, to her room.
Although, it struck her as odd as she didn’t think she would be gone for that long. She would be coming back.
Rhen considered this as she gathered her plain clothing, spell books and her few other personal items, such as her journals and quills. She had made up her mind to give Saya, the youngest girl in church care, her old tabby cat, Milkees.
Once her satchel was full, it took her a while to get it shut. In the end, she became so frustrated she used magic to close it. The problem with this was that Rhen had once set a stable on fire, which took the locals three days to put out. Strangely enough, she had been banned from using magic within the Church’s grounds. Personally, she thought that as she was leaving in less than a day, she should be allowed to use magic if she wanted to, especially when it came to something that would help her leave.
As the day drew to a close, Rhen undressed into her nightgown, stuffed away her day clothes, and left her travelling clothes and cloak, as well as her sword and daggers (Brother Aam didn’t know about that one), on her simple desk. She lay on her bed, and drifted into a deep sleep...
A dark cloud settled over the horizon, darkening the land with thoughts of an upcoming storm. A man and his wife struggled to march through the desert, clutching their newly born daughter, just as a lion protects her young. The mother stumbled, and as the man helped her up, he saw a sight that made his blood run cold. In fear, he grabbed his sword and prepared to protect his family.
The approaching trolls yelled their battle cry, and then laughed as they knew the soldier would have no chance against a whole war band of trolls.
They grabbed his wife before he even had a chance to raise his arm, and chucked the child across the sand.
They tortured her endlessly, slashing at her while grinning and laughing throughout. The man tried to stop them, but he was bitten by an attacker, who managed to draw blood. He didn’t seem to notice, but the way he handled his sword from there on in was somewhat lapse.
A swift cut from one of the trolls ended the woman’s life with a fountain of blood. Enraged, the man killed several trolls swiftly yet violently, before retrieving his wife’s body and his child. Frantically, he climbed onto his horse.
Yet as he left, the trolls tried again with an ambush. Beating them back took all the strength he had, and, by the time he and his daughter had managed to escape, the trolls had claimed his wife’s body...
Rhen woke up soaking wet and trembling. The terrifyingly realistic dream of her mother’s death and Father’s attempt to flee certain murder just showed how much a mind infused with magic can remember. All she knew from the adults surrounding her since her father’s death was that he managed to retrieve her from an ambushing party but couldn’t save her mother.
Trying to put the dream out of her thoughts, she strolled over to the window and saw that it was still around midnight, which explained why it was dark. Her suitcase and belongings we still where she left them, just like her room, which somewhat calmed her down as she recovered from the dream.
Milkees was on her bed, as she hadn’t had a chance to give him to Saya yet. She lit a candle before writing a small note explaining all about Milkees to Saya and securing it within his collar. Then, she bundled him up in her arms (getting black fur all over herself), and transferred him out of her room to Saya’s. Clambering back into bed, Rhen fell asleep almost instantly.
A high pitched bell awoke Rhen, and probably the others as well. Sister Clech was up and about with her morning call. She came into Rhen’s room herself, and made sure that the young mage was awake.
“Rhen...Saya saw Milkees on her bed this morning and she’s really happy to have him. Thank you, although I don’t know why I was instructed to take down your things or for you to give away your cat when this isn’t permanent.”
“I don’t know how long this is going to be for Sister...If you’ll excuse me I have to go to breakfast to say goodbye to everybody.” Rhen dressed straight into her travel clothes, but didn’t put on her cloak since her own room was always nice and warm. Stalling on the stairs, she remembered that this would probably be the last time she would take this staircase down to breakfast. It was like letting chocolate stay in your mouth as long as possible so you could savour the flavour, before reluctantly having to swallow.
On arriving at the table, Rhen found a traditional breakfast of bacon and egg with tomatoes being served at the table. These were only given on special occasions, and Rhen immediately knew this special occasion was her.
Hating having everybody staring at her so intently throughout the whole duration of the meal, Rhen was almost glad when her luggage was set down in front of her when it was time for her to take her leave.
Taking swift glances at the staff, and then the children, and only muttering a small “thank you”, to Brother Aam, Rhen climbed aboard Midnight. The letter that had condemned her to this long journey was in her hand, and it took her a moment to get her grip. She waved with her hand open, a smile on her face, before taking midnight beyond the gate.
As soon as she was sure she was out of sight, Rhen dismounted. She took Midnight over to a small clearing within a group of trees. Drawing an imaginary circle with her finger, Rhen began to mutter and inaudible, let alone understandable, incantation, before stepping back. An instant blue glow arose from the otherwise normal grass, and Rhen pushed the reluctant horse into the strange essence. The portal had not been on the curriculum of the school; her incantation professor had taught her alone without anyone’s knowledge, thankfully for her.
The mage stepped through the blue gateway...
*****This chapter has recently been re-written!*****