To Name and IronWolfe
by S.A.M. Blaize
TO: Lord Darkon IronWolfe
FROM: The Baron Derhan IronWolfe, Lord Dern IronWolfe, and Lady Delyzsa
I write to send my condolences to you and your wife, on behalf of all of your siblings, at this time of great loss.
There is much of my life I have never shared with the rest of you, including the fact that before any of you were born, I, too, lost a son. In my earlier years I followed the warrior path of our father. At the time I married and had three children with my first wife (a lovely, gentle soul of elvish blood), our family was in a vicious blood war with the BlueHawk clan. The reasons for the feud have long since been lost and forgotten, but at the time I was a night in the service of our father, the Baron, and my life was dedicated to the causes of the Barony. My son, Dardael, as well as my wife and daughters were the light of my life, so it made me proud that he was passionate to follow in my footsteps. I was 45 when he came of an age to be knighted. I watched with a swelled chest and glad heart as he knelt to take his oath, but as he removed his helm, a BlueHawk crossbow bolt pierced his temple. Our retaliation on the honourless clan was swift. I sent my wife and daughters away to safety, while I hunted down and killed every last one of the BlueHawks. It took years and by the time I saw my daughters again they had families of their own and no longer had much of a place for me in their lives. It was at that point I chose to lay down my sword and follow the magic in my blood, becoming a wizard after the ways our mother. I immersed myself in my studies and experiments, rarely venturing out of the castle over the next few hundred years, until you were born
I relate this story to you, to let you know that I have an understanding of what you are going through, with the lost of your oldest son. Richard was a brave and noble man. May his chivalry become legendary! Our thoughts are with you and our swords are ready if you have need. Let his strength be lent to his bother, Castellan in his search to avenge his brother.
Derhan, Baron IronWolfe
He let the letter fall to his lap, closing his eyes. He had read the letter many times, but as they turned onto the road to their destination, it had an even deeper meeting. For many years he had separated himself from his older brother, over a disagreement that most likely neither of them cared about anymore. It was, however an argument that put a rift in the family for many long years. It was the death of his son, and this letter, that was starting the true healing, bringing him at long last back to home.
The memories of this place had begun to become yellowed and crinkled around the edges, like a well read but worn book. It had been far too many years since Lord Darkon IronWolfe had laid eyes on the place of his birth and childhood. The pages of his mind began to clear, sharpen, the discolouration bleeding away, as the words on the pages merged and reformed into vivid images.
The carriage of the Lord and Lady IronWolfe, with its accompanying guards and servants, moved pasted the well manicured lawns, and carefully groomed gardens, drawing closer to the once fortress, now palatial estate that had been the center of power for his family for thousands of years. In the days of his ancestors, the Castle Baron IronWolfe had been a site to behold, but Derhan had molded and manipulated it into something grander still. Darkon was both entranced and slightly saddened by sites that seemed to familiar, yet so majestically different. He found himself surprised at how well his elder brother had done, but in truth he should not be. Derhan had long since surpassed the mere trifling of his family rank; his power and control exceeding many fold that of a mere Baron. Why then should his abode not reflect this?
The carriage hit the cobbles along the final stretch before the castle known by those who resided there as the Avenue of Ancestors. Every IronWolfe who had ever held title to the castle and rule over the family was represented in statue form along the sides of the broad lane. Darkon watched as the newly refurbished and cleaned marble statues glistened in the fading light of the day as if he were caught up in a glamour. As they turned the bend, the castle filled the scene outside of the carriage window, in all if its impressive splendor. For all of the outward beauty, it still seemed sadly hollow.
When Darkon was a child the place had always been filled with people, a bustle with activity, vibrant and alive. Uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, allies, dignitaries and guest from distant lands wandered the halls and grounds, helping to form the tapestry of his childhood and early adulthood. It was often a tapestry strung with threads of red, as many those stitched within died in border skirmishes and blood feuds his father, the Great Warlord Baron Dermes IronWolfe, had perpetrated. Such was the way of his of his forbears, generations on end.
Upon the death of their father (followed mere months later by Baroness Delyla, their broken-hearted mother) Derhan ascended to the title of Baron, and set forth to end the bloodthirsty cycle of the past, bringing peace to the local lands. Families who had been enemies for millenniums were coaxed to call truces and, with time, become allies. The fear of war gone, there was no longer great reason or cause for the family to be bound so close, nor need for friends, allies, and dignitaries to attend war councils. Derhan, despite his great diplomacy, was never the sort to host grand balls or dinner parties, which might have kept people interested in staying, so gradually they left, bit by bit. In making the land a better place, Derhan had unwittingly emptied the family estate, leaving it’s halls hollow and practically lifeless.
Several servants rushed to the newly arrived carriage, as it drew to a halt in from of the main entrance of the castle. The Lord IronWolfe left the carriage first, shooing away the footman and helping his Lady down. Around them people scurried to unload baggage, as they were escorted inside.
Entering the front hall was like entering the past. The ceiling vaulted four stories, the grand doors, ornately carved with a fierce pack of wolves, to the house proper were before them, and to either side were small doors, leading to service corridors and closets. The floor was a vivid well polished mosaic of the family crest; a silver wolf’s head on the green background, a sword to one side and a white lightning bolt to the other. The image was reflected in the multitude of shields covering the tall walls, with swords, bows, maces and other weaponry, each belonging to one of the people depicted in the statues of the Avenue, or their kin. Mixed amid the weapons were staves and amulets representing the long heritage of wizards and sorceresses in the family bloodline.
Darkon heard something to his right, but as he turned to look he found himself barreled into, a blurry armful of white hair, green material, and warm flesh pressing against him and then darting off again. His younger (and only) sister had grown into a beautiful, confident woman, which seemed to be enhanced by the faint moonlight silver glow about her. He would like to have thought that the silver was a reflection of the IronWolfe colours, but it was in fact a reflection of the type of magic she practiced. When she had proven herself magically imbued, her mother had tried to guide her into being a healer or some other gentle art, but his precious little sister was drawn to demonology. As much as they had tried to all treat her like a delicate porcelain doll, when she was growing up, his little sister hunted and controlled demons. He could not help but remember the little girl who would come spend summers with them, running around with their own little ones. Delyzsa called over her shoulder as she rushed through one of the service doors, “I can’t talk now. I will see you are dinner! Love you!” And then she was gone.
“I did not know your sister was going to be here. I thought she was still traveling in the south.” Taurna said, with poise that only a true lady can possess.
“Dern is here, too. It takes a near miracle to get him to leave his house anymore, but when he heard you would be coming, he packed up and hurried here, so he could be here before you arrived.” The grand doors had been quietly opened, as they were distracted by the energetic ball of Delyzsa, and Derhan leaned against the door frame, muscular arms crossed over his broad chest and legs crossed at the ankles. His ivory hair, with its dark streak, fell rakishly across one eye and an impish smile playing on his lips. Darkon has always admired the way his elder sibling always carried himself with dignity and charm. His mere presence demanded respect and made women swoon. Darkon remembered being eight years old and attending his parents, as they entertained the Princess Illyanna. Derhan entered the main hall, favoured the Princess with a dark-eyed look, raised his eyebrow and she fainted on the spot. After that Darkon would stand in front of the mirror in his rooms and practice raising his eyebrow. It was the very mirror, years later that Darkon looked into only to find Derhan looking back at him. He had become his brother’s twin.
“Taurna, my dear, you get more beautiful with every passing day.” Derhan sauntered over, casually taking Taurna’s hand and gracing it with a tender kiss. As it awaiting this cue, music welled from the doorway. “Shall we dance?” He bowed eloquently. The doors swung fully open, revealing the greeting hall, as Derhan swept the Lady IronWolfe into his arms and spun her into a quick graceful dance.
Darkon followed behind, into the room, but chose not to join in. He found a comfortable seat near the empty hearth, where he could relax. Since Richard’s death, everything had been a haze of rough times. Adrenaline had been keeping him going, but something about his birthplace was leaching out the adrenaline and causing the concern to ebb away. His lids became heavy, as tiredness settled over him and he began to fade into unconsciousness.
“You look simply dreadful, old man.”
Darkon’s eyes shot open. He was not sure how long he had drifted off, but a fire had been started in the hearth, and the slightly indigo, silvery/golden glow of magical orbs filled the room. He yawned, chasing off the sleep. “Hello, Dern.
His younger brother sat in the chair next to him, his midnight black hair cropped short, his broad shoulders barely fitting in the chair back. Dern had been the only one of the siblings that had not inherited the white hair. He was muscular, like his brothers, but in a much more stocky way, which complimented his rugged looks. He stared at Darkon with the same dark eyes that all of them had. Despite the differences he had from his older brothers, there could be no doubt that he was their sibling. “I feel simply dreadful.”
“I would watch him, if I were you,” Dern said gesturing toward Derhan. “He just might try to steal her away from you.”
“She would not go,” Darkon said confidently. He knew his wife well and he had faith in both her love and her loyalty.
“I know that, you know that, even he knows that; but that will not keep him from trying,” Dern laughed.
“Let him. It is good for her ego.” Darkon chuckled. “Especially when I get jealous and step in.”
Dern nodded smiling. He glanced over his shoulder where Derhan and Taurna were admiring one of the paintings. “Have you seen Delyzsa?”
“ I think so. It sounded like her, but it looked more like a white and green blur.” Darkon replied.
“Did she have the baby with her?” Dern inquired.
“Baby?” This was the first Darkon had heard of a baby. The truth was that before today he had not see his youngest sibling in about a year. He had been told she had gone off traveling to collect some ingredients she might need for spells and potions. Had she acquired a baby in that time? “What baby?”
“Ah, so you did not know. It was a surprise to us, too. Apparently Sheila was the only one that knew she was pregnant, but I suppose she could not necessarily try to teach our little half-breed niece to use demonic abilities, without the girl noticing she was pregnant. She refuses to tell us who the father is. I would suspect it was a one-night-stand, but she has never been the love them and leave them type.” Dern had his suspicions about who the child belonged to, after having seen him, but was not going to bring them up to Darkon just now.
“t is an adorable baby boy, though she has not named him yet. He was born on the day that Richard died, and Delyzsa says that is an omen. She says you and Taurna will have to name the baby to ensure that having his birthday on his cousin’s death day will not curse his life.”
Darkon was a little surprised to find he still disliked the idea of Felinea’s daughter being called his niece. He had nothing against the girl personally. He had thought he had gotten over his negative feelings toward Felinea and the fact that that his oldest brother had chosen to raise the daughter of an old enemy of their family. He had thought that he had worked out all of that, when Felinea became his daughter-in-law, and he had gotten a chance to really get to know her. Apparently there was still some residual emotions he needed to address.
He pardoned himself from Dern’s company, claiming being tired from all the travel. He arose and walked over to his wife. They had some things to talk over … and a baby to name.
Delyzsa cooed at her little boy, as she put the finishing touches on the restraining spell. She had to force herself to concentrate on the task at hand. If she did not refresh the spell properly once a month, then the demon would get loose, and as little as it was, it could cause a lot of damage. She was excited to get upstairs to see her brother and sister-in-law and introduce them to her son, and a little bit frightened too. She had not seen them since Richard’s death. Would they look into eyes and see that the pain there was not just that of an Aunt mourning the loss of the nephew she had grown up with? Would they be able to see that she had been in love with their son her entire life and losing him was losing a part of her heart and soul? And when they saw her son, would they be able to tell who his father was? As much as Darkon was coming around to loving Felinea as much as the rest of them did, he still held a deep hatred of her biological father. Would he take one look at her son and see that he was the son of the King of Sardiac, and therefore Felinea’s half-brother?
She had to put these things out of her head, so that she would not make a mistake with the spell. She had enough things going on in her life, without having to add escaped demon to the list.
Over her shoulder, unseen, unheard, and unfelt by Delyzsa, the spirit of a dark-haired knight watched her longingly. The baby squealed and gurgled. Richard’s ghost smiled and waggled his fingers at the baby. The little boy smiled back, and reached out to the man.
Delyzsa put the finishing touches on her spell, and mistaking her son’s gesture as him wanting her to pick him up, she lifted him from his basket. “All done, little one. Shall we go introduce you to your Uncle and Aunt?” Holding her son close, she turned and walked through Richard.
Richard reached out, longing to touch the woman he had always loved, one last time.