Knights of Iyatula

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Dragon Ships and Wizards

Submitted: October 14, 2017

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Comments: 1

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Submitted: October 14, 2017

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1

The lonely figure stood hiding in the shadows, which was contrary to his nature. Under normal circumstances he would be in the midst of the carnage, fighting for survival, fighting for his king. However these were not normal circumstances, they were indeed the worst of times. He watched in horror as a body went flying into the air and landed in a fire burning nearby, the body lay lifeless in the fire and as its clothes were set alight the flames merrily engulfed the corpse and consumed it’s victim in a charade of light and death. The all-consuming fire lit up the shadows and he could see figures dance in and out in a bizarre waltz of thrusting, slicing and chopping, bringing death and pain with every movement.

The instinct that had been drilled into him through years of military training kicked in and he started moving out of the shadows where he was hiding to aid his decreasing number of comrades. Then as if to remind him of his duty the bundle he was holding in his arms moved and he realised his folly. He quickly and quietly sank back into the shadows and followed the dark passage that led from the palace foyer, and the nightmarish screams, through the front doors into the courtyard.

The man silently slipped unseen across the courtyard and quickly left through its exit that led to the long winding staircase that wound its way down to the ocean. He leapt off the last step and raced across the beach, where a small band of men were waiting in a longboat to row him out to his ship.

 It only took ten minutes to row across to the waiting ship, but to him it felt longer. The boat scraped and grated as it hit the hull of the mighty warship. He exited quickly, jumping from the boat balancing the bundle in one hand and catching the rope ladder that led to the deck in the other.

On the far side of Iyatula, another man presented a lonely figure racing in the night, fleeing from an invisible, yet ever present foe. Both horse and rider showed signs of fatigue as they raced across the grass plains of Ishama, the latter ever vigilant of who or what may be following them on this moonless night. The rider was a man deep in his forties, heavyset and possessing broad square shoulders above a well-shaped chest, which could only have been kept in that shape by vigorous training. His six feet eight inches rode high in the saddle, and he knew that he would be recognised, even in this moonless landscape. Under a weather-worn wide brimmed hat in the fashion of the royal knights was a clean-shaven face that had been browned and hardened by the sun and wind, across his left cheek ran a deep scar where he had once been sliced during the great battle of Formangue. It was in this battle they had foolishly believed that they had achieved peace once and for all.

Although he could have had the scar healed by the healers of Anthea, he had decided to keep it as a reminder of how close he had come to death on that day. His icy blue eyes and firm mouth were locked in absolute determination to complete this final quest for his queen. The rider was the type of man you would expect both thought and action from, one who seemed exactly at home in this untamed environment.

The rider reined in the horse and brought him to trot as he shaded his eyes to try and penetrate the darkness, making sure that he had not been followed. He lifted his head and gazed across the crest of a ridge that marked the end of the plains and the beginning of the sandy shores that led to the ocean. He heard the waves lapping at the shoreline, yet could see nothing in the dark, he prayed to the goddess of fire that his allies had been successful and would be waiting for him across the ridge. He spurred his horse onward by digging his heels into the flanks of his horse and both bolted over the ridge and was once again in a full gallop, heading toward the sound of the waves.

As he neared the shore line, a slight breeze picked up and swirled around them.

“They are here in the distance, they await your arrival,” it whispered. He stopped his horse dead in its tracks and stared at where he thought the mighty ship Seadog Legacy would lie in wait for him.

“Tell them I await their arrival,” he whispered back into the nothingness and felt as the breeze swirl away.

What felt like an eternity went by when the rider heard the splashes of what sounded like oars going into the water and the muffled voices of men. He felt a wave of relief wash over him, and hoped that his old comrade in arms’ mission had been successful. He dismounted his horse and tied it to a tree stump that had washed ashore. He stepped to the water’s edge and awaited the incoming longboat.

As the boat rowed ashore, the rider took hold of the bow and helped drag it onto the wet sand, stumbling slightly as the boat skidded ashore. A man approaching thirty, somewhat slender with unnaturally long arms, stood up holding a bundle of cloth the rider had been sent to retrieve and stepped off the boat.

“Greetings Cronos son of Jiel,” the man greeted as he reached the rider’s side.

Cronos took the man by the arm and led him to where the horse had been tied to the stump, away from the rest of the men on the longboat.

“Greetings Mythos son of Malakite, were you able to secure the child?”

“Aye,” Mythos said showing him the bundled up child in his arms, “but we could not save the King or queen, there were too many of them. I am sorry, my friend they’ve taken the capital Wolf’s Corridor and besieged the royal palace,” he continued gravely, “if you ask me this whole thing reeks of betrayal.”

“I have considered that, Mythos, and I have an idea of the person that’s behind it, but for now I must fulfill my last promise to my queen. If I make it back I will beat the devils from him and find the truth” Cronos said taking the baby from Mythos’s arms.

“Who do you think it is?” Mythos asked, feeling the rise of anger at the unknown betrayer.

“All in good time, but for now I must leave.”

“Do any of your men know who the child is?” Cronos asked.

“No old friend, they know of nothing,” he replied, “where will you take him?”

“The wizard Motlock is awaiting our arrival at the edge of the Swamp of Sorrows, he says that there is a way to hide the child from this world, and this should keep him safe until he can return to save us.”

“But how, the Shadow King possesses ways of finding anything?” Mythos said, thinking that the Mighty Motlock might have finally lost his mind.

“I don’t know, the wizard was vague, but I have to leave now old friend.” With that Cronos climbed onto his horse with one hand, while balancing the baby in the other. Mythos untied the horse and handed him the reins, the two men looked each other and neither could hide the fear and worry in their eyes. They had been friends for a long time and each knew the other as only brothers would.

Cronos turned the horse and raced off into the night, Mythos turned and headed back to the longboat. Dark times, darker than the moonless night had befallen the people of Iyatula, and as he stepped onto the boat, Mythos knew that a long and deadly battle awaited him and his men, and that in all likelihood he would never lay eyes on his friend again.

2

Death approached over the dark ocean in the form of a sleek ship, unlike any ever seen in Iyatula. It effortlessly pushed through the ocean toward the Seadog, its steel hull making very little sound as it glided through the water. The approaching doom to its prey was hidden by the pitch black night.

“Bring her around, and keep those beasts quiet down there!” a voice whispered harshly, penetrating the silence aboard the Sea Serpent’s Revenge. This ship had been built for one purpose, and that was to destroy all in her path and secure the Shadow King’s reign. She was the only ship of her kind in the entire ocean and it had been rumoured that she was captained by a man, so fierce and so evil, that not even death would fetch him when the time came.

Lucian stepped from the shadows of the main mast and shouted to the men below, “open fire!”

The handlers drew back their whips and cracked them over the magnificent beasts in their charge. The dragons let out a roar and opened their mouths in a wide gape letting out large balls of fire that burned white in the middle. The extreme heat singed the hairs on the arms of the handlers, and they leapt back almost simultaneously at the sudden burst.

Mythos and his men reached the ship just in time to see the first fire ball blast over the stern of the Seadog Legacy. The men in the longboat clambered up the ladder and jumped aboard.

“Port! Hard a port!” Mythos cried as he jumped over the railing onto the deck. “Clew up the topsails! Let the flying jib run down! Back the jib over to windward and run down the foresail!”

“Aye, aye Cap’n,” Temo the first mate shouted back at the captain, “you heard him men, move, else you die like dogs on this dark night!”

Mythos was sorry he had anchored the ship, and was not ready to sail, his folly might cost them all their lives.

Then came moments of bustle and confusion as more fireballs lit up the night sky and came hurtling toward the Seadog, sailors were scurrying across the ship trying to get her ready to make a hasty escape. But it was all to no avail, Mythos watched helplessly as a fresh wave of fireballs came toward his beloved ship, they hit her all over, and the last thing he saw as the main mast was hit, were the sails lighting up into bright orange and red flames, how horrible, yet how beautiful he thought mesmerised. Captain Mythos, son of Malakite, could not move as the mast toppled over and fell toward him.

There was an ear shattering explosion as one of the fireballs penetrated the Seadog’s hull into the powder room. The once mighty ship blew apart scattering pieces across the ocean, men were flying through the air and most were dead long before their bodies hit the surface of the ocean. Debris came falling from the sky and that which did not sink lay scattered, drifting on the ocean like bread scattered onto a pond for ducks to feast on.

Captain Lucian shouted at his men to cease fire as he saw the Seadog go up in flames. The dragon handlers cracked their whips in the air and the dragons stopped spewing flaming balls into the night air.

“My King is the son of the damned, and through me he will wreak havoc on this world and the next, no one can stop us now. The prince is dead!” Lucian declared from the forecastle laughing an unearthly laugh, this encouraged his men and a cheer went up from them.

Lucian felt his veins pumping raw power as the adrenalin of the night’s uncontested battle coursed through them, he pushed his hands together, palm to palm, straightened his arms and thrust them into the air. A bright silver blue bolt of lightning shot from his fingers and lit up the night sky. He had been granted this token of power from his King the day he saved his life, and the rush of the lightning coursing through his body made him feel invincible. The day he had been given this gift he called over a stray dog and had blasted it apart, on seeing what he was able to do he knew that no man would ever question him again, and on that day he swore absolute allegiance to the Shadow King.

In the midst of the revelry, the first mate walked up to the man who was seven and a half feet tall, and although his body and face had been savagely deformed by many battles, Lucian had developed an early liking for the finer things in life, acquiring a taste for power and running in elite social circles.

As a first year foot soldier in the Shadow King’s resistance army, he had made a name for himself as a calculating and precise soldier. This gained him the attention of the Shadow King, who personally inducted him into a secret society known as the Brotherhood of Death. With the backing of the brotherhood and his ruthless ambition, he was able to plan and execute many battles, leaving his body scarred and his left eye blind. But behind the remaining grey eye was the unmistakable look of intelligence.

“Captain, should I steer the ship toward the Seadog so we can take a closer look at the wreckage to ensure that the child was onboard and is indeed dead?” The captain of the Sea Serpent’s Revenge dropped his hands and the light emanating from his fingers died. Lucian let out a thunderous laugh and said,

“They could not have had time to get the child off; we were right on their tail the whole time. Therefore that wretched baby is at the bottom of the ocean with the rest of the Seadog. Send a messenger to the King and tell him that the mighty Seadog and her precious cargo have fallen. Now point the bow in the direction of our next victim and hop to it! My lust for blood grows again.” Lucian felt invincible and knew that he could not be wrong. The first mate saluted his captain and went off to relay the orders to the crew. He knew better than to argue with Lucian, arguing with such a powerful man would bring only death.

The first mate could not shake the nagging feeling that they may have missed their intended target, or that something horrible had gone wrong. His mother had recognised that he had been born with the gift of foresight and had helped him develop his Spiritual eye, as she too had been born with this extremely rare gift and had learnt to use and hide it from an early age. He knew that he would be exploited in the worst ways if the Shadow King ever found out.

Cronos looked back just in time to see the Seadog explode. In the distance a bright light lit up the night sky and Cronos could make out the Sea Serpent’s Revenge lying in the distance, although at that time he had not known what it was called. He watched as the light went out and could no longer see the ship as it turned to starboard heading back out to sea.  He felt a stab in his chest as his heart broke for the friend he had just lost, his first instinct was to race back and look for survivors. But with the Shadow King’s army so close at hand it had been a closer call than he had realised, and he knew that he would have to hurry. He kicked the horse in the flanks and horse, rider and passenger sped off into the night. It was still a long journey and he had to reach the wizard Motlock before sunrise.

3

Cronos drove his horse all through the dark night, stopping only long enough to let himself and his horse quench their thirst. On these stops he would carefully open the blankets and ensure that his cargo was still safe. Once he had satisfied his thirst and the safety of the baby he would speed on into the night. The landscape had turned a pale grey as dawn was breaking and he was able to make out the outline of the high mountains that were getting closer with each stride of the horse’s muscular legs; he could also make out that the sky had turned pitch black with heavy clouds. Lightning flashed, a cold wind blew, and heavy rain was soon pelting down on them.

Cronos and his tiny passenger rode on. Cronos urged his horse forward along the slippery trails. He was running out of time and any further delay now would mean certain death for him and the baby. An unexpected flash of light ahead caught Cronos’ attention and he realised that it had to be a reflection caused by the lightning that had flashed overhead. Heading toward it, he soon came to the edge of the Swamp of Sorrows and close to the edge stood the lonely figure of the old wizard.

The wind blew his silver hair, tangling and knotting it. His long cloak, covered in mud at the hem, billowed around his frail and skinny legs and the pelting rain hit his weathered and wise face with gusts as the wind blew in and out toward the mountain, whispering news into his ears with each fresh gust. Motlock saw the horse in the distance and lifted a bony hand toward Cronos and waved him closer.

In his other hand was his staff, and he seemed to be clutching onto it as if it, too, might blow away in the wind. Cronos then realised that the reflection that he had seen had been from the blue diamond set in the top of Motlock’s staff, the Rod of Supremacy.

He had once explained to Cronos that every magical sword and magical staff should have a strong name, as this would imbue it with more power and that all would learn to fear the magical object and not the holder of the object.

Motlock’s heart skipped a beat as he peered through the driving rain because he could not see the baby and for a moment thought that they had failed. Then Cronos turned slightly in the saddle and he could see the bundled up baby in his arms. Relief washed over him and he felt a glimmer of hope for the future.

The great wizard Motlock was the last of the Glandauan Protectors, his village had been destroyed by the Shadow King and he had barely escaped. If not for the queen’s summons and her last request to the wizard that had faithfully served the crown for fifty two years, he too would have died with his village.

“Protect my son, your future King,” her words still echoed in his head. The news of his village and the death of his King and queen were brought to him by the wind and he wanted to destroy the Shadow King, wanted to make him suffer for his dark deeds. However he needed to finish the task at hand, instinctively knowing that this would be his last task and that he would not be there to see the Shadow King fall. His absence at the fall of the Shadow King had been foretold by the great Oracle Ahgma.

Soaked and chilled, Cronos tied his horse’s reins to a nearby tree and approached Motlock, shielding the baby from the elements as best he could. The old wizard turned, without saying a word, and led Cronos to a bush that lay on a path just beyond the swamp in the side of the mountain. He lifted and waved his staff in an up and down motion across the bush and it parted in the middle to reveal an opening to a cave.

Motlock went inside and Cronos followed. As soon as he crossed the threshold to the mouth of the cave the bush closed behind him drowning out the sound of the storm outside, and darkening the inside of the cave so that Cronos couldn’t see anything. Motlock waved his staff, left to right this time, and hundreds of candles lining the wall of the cave lit up all at once. It took Cronos’ eyes a moment to adjust to the sudden burst of light and when he could see without having to blink continuously, he saw that cave they were standing in was bare except for a rack in the far holding thousands of scrolls. To Cronos the documents seemed ancient and brittle.

Motlock stepped toward Cronos and lifted the blanket covering the baby, revealing the innocent baby’s face. The baby looked up at Motlock, and even though it had been a harrowing journey, the child never once had made a sound.

“He looks well, Cronos. Was it a difficult journey?” Motlock asked.

“It was tiring, but the boy is safely here now and that is all that matters,” Cronos answered.

“I have news from the plains. It seems the Shadow King has overrun Iyatula and has taken the land. There are still some pockets of resistance, but they are waging guerilla-type warfare. It is rumoured that he has captured the dragon’s queen and is holding her hostage to ensure the dragon’s compliance to his will.”

The old wizard stepped back and sat down on one of the protruding rocks that jutted out from the floor in some places. His old bones felt tired.

“I believe this to be true, I was almost certain that I saw a terrible ship at Cabbey’s Cove. She sank the Seadog with, what looked like, fireballs. At first I thought that I was seeing things,” he said joining Motlock on the stone.

“The ship is called the Sea Serpent’s Revenge, and was specifically designed to carry the dragons. If this ship proves successful you can be sure that he will have more built. Was the Seadog Legacy destroyed?”

“From what I saw, yes,” Cronos lowered his head but just before he could hide his eyes Motlock saw the sorrow in them.

“Your old brother in arms, Mythos, was her captain, was he not?”

“Yes, and after the destruction, I don’t see how anyone could have survived.”

“I am sorry for your loss,” the wise old wizard said sincerely.

Both men sat in silence, lost in their own thoughts, almost forgetting why they had been sent to this place. The wizard finally spoke up, “Come Cronos, it is time we sent the young prince away,” he said getting up from the stone and walking to the furthest wall in the cave. He stood spread-eagled next to the shelf containing the scrolls and lifted his staff above his head and rectangular cracks appeared in the wall. There were three cracks that had appeared; two on the sides and one above, all joined with a bright white light shining through. Cronos thought that it looked like a closed door with a light shining from behind. 

“It’s called the gate of desolation; no one knows it exists, its location is handed down from elder to elder in my village.” A pang of pain snaked through the old wizard’s heart at the mention of his village.

“I am the last one left and I am the last to know,” the old man said distractedly.

 “Bring the child closer.” Cronos lifted his tired legs off the stone and walked toward where Motlock was standing and held out the baby to the wizard.

“No my son, you will cross with him and you will become his protector, just as you promised the queen,” Motlock said still holding his staff in the air. Cronos heard a buzzing sound come from behind the wall and for the first time in his life the big man felt fear.

“But…where are we, what…are we? This is highly unusual, Motlock.”

“You will be going to another world, a world where the Shadow King and his magic can’t find the boy. Here he will grow up and become powerful, then he will return and save us all,” the wizard shouted, as the buzzing sound was getting louder.

“But how will I return?” Cronos could no longer hide the fear in his voice.

“When the time comes you will return with the boy, use the boy, he will show you the way.”

“Motlock wait…,” Cronos started protesting. The old wizard ignored him and turned his head back to the wall.

“Motlock, wait and listen to me!” Cronos shouted louder as the noise had become deafening. The wizard tensed at the interruption, then relaxed. Cronos knew better than to startle him when he was in the middle of a spell and from what he could see the strain of this spell was immense. Blood appeared on Motlock’s forehead and started running down his cheek to the corner of his mouth. Lifting his staff higher into the air with both hands Motlock swung it forward at the wall. There was a loud crack and Cronos thought that the bush had parted once more and that they could hear the thunder from outside. The noise had, however, come from the staff hitting the wall.

At first a small crack appeared in the middle of the vertical cracks, where the staff had hit the wall, then it grew bigger and bigger until a fire-rimmed doorway appeared. Inside the orange glowing doorway was a vortex that spun and gave off blue electric sparks that jumped out of the door and frizzled to extinction on the cave floor.

“GO, GO NOW!” Motlock screamed at him. “I can’t hold it open for long.”

Cronos hesitated for a moment, then tightly held on to the baby before taking a running leap through the doorway into the vortex, he saw as Motlock threw his staff in after them and heard him say; “look after him, he is your King now.” After that the door closed and everything was dark.

4

The wind that the vortex had created had blown out all the candles and the cave had turned dark as the doorway closed. In the darkened cave, Motlock drained of his power, fell to the floor exhausted. He knew that it would be coming for him, he could feel death approaching. For the first time in his life Motlock felt old, really old and he knew that he would soon be joining the rest of his village in the Kingdom of the gods. The ancient Glandaun clan would die with him, and there would be no one left to protect the magical people or creatures of Iyatula anymore. This thought saddened the old wizard, but knowing that the last King was safe made him feel a glimmer of hope.

“Come back soon my King,” the old wizard said with his last breath before closing his eyes for the last time.

Outside the wind howled, the rain fell and lightning and thunder was ear-shattering. There was a stirring in the surface of the swamp contrary to the ripples caused by the rain drops pock marking the swamp. The surface was broken in the Swamp of Sorrows and a creature with a dog-like face, sharp pointed teeth sticking out of the sides of its mouth, dark fur, a horse-like tail, flippers, and walrus-like tusks, rose from the bottom of the swamp to the surface and swam toward the shore. It let out a high pitched howl and flicked its lizard like tongue in and out over its razor sharp teeth. Upon hearing the call more of these beasts rose and followed the first one to the shore, dragging their ugly bodies over the sand toward the entrance to cave that was hidden by a bush that looked like any other in Iyatula.

The death of Motlock could be felt throughout the magical Realm, the death of the last Glandau protector had caused an imbalance in the natural order of the land and left the way open for the Shadow King to rule unchecked. The Bunyip leading the others was named Burnu; he was the trusted warrior of their queen Camira. Burnu came to a stop at the edge of the path and turned toward his brothers and sisters. He spoke to them in a slow deep growl that was common to their kind.

“My friends, this day marks the end of an era of peace that has ruled our land since time began. We will now be forced to fight, but we will do so as quiet assassins, never seen and never heard.” Each ‘s’ came out as a prolonged hissing sound and made Burnu’s words sound even more sinister. He turned and resumed his journey to the end of the path.

The Bunyips followed their leader solemnly and moved toward the cave where the bush opened so that they could pass. They all crowded into the cave where Motlock’s body lay. Burnu howled and the others followed, their cry of despair could be heard for miles and outside Camira rose to the surface of the swamp and howled with them to show her despair at Iyatulas loss. Burnu led the other Bunyips as they reached down lifting Motlock over their heads, carefully carrying his body through the cave opening. They marched in an awkward gait, back down the path in the torrential rain, to the Swamp of Sorrows. Their howling died down and was followed by a rhythmic humming sound as they all returned into the murky swamp water, carrying Motlock’s body deep into the depths of the Swamp of Sorrows, where they would watch over him for eternity.

As the last Bunyip disappeared beneath the water, the rain stopped and Camira dipped back into the murky depths. As she drifted effortlessly downward she could still hear the thunder and see the lightning as it reflected off the surface of the water and Camira knew that it was a foreboding of what the future was to hold for all of them.

 


© Copyright 2019 PJL Dawson. All rights reserved.

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