Gantodr listened patiently as Sarana told her story. Antriak was lying on the ground, arms propped up and eyes gleaming. Sarana said she and Anaras had gone to the village center as quickly as possible, seeing towering stacks of smoke all the while. She told of how many buildings were gone-- burned down. She told how there was an odd silence... the silence in itself seeming to will them to die, daring them to enter the deserted town. For that is what it was. Deserted...
Suddenly, there was crying, a shout, and a scream! Then, the sound of metal on metal, another blood-curdling scream, more crying, and then, shockingly, nothing.
We scrambled to the house we thought the noise had come from. As we began to open the creaky door, a black smoke began to issue out of the house, creeping under the door and through the windows. Worse than the smoke though, was the fact that, someway, somehow, the smoke-thing was holding mother's sword! The smoke was trapping us, encircling us. Anaras unsheathed his sword. I did the same.
Apparently, thedarkness had a mind of it's own, because after a short time, a glistening, black sword formed out of the smoke. I couldn't help but let out a scream. Anaras could control himself better than I could, but I heard him let out a battle cry and plunge his sword into the darkness. The midnight black smoke blocked Anaras with it's own dark sword.
The next thing I knew, Anaras and… the thing were in fierce combat, and I heard Anaras yell, "Sarana! Go inside and find whoever's in there!" before I could protest, he shouted, "Now, Sarana! Go now!"
I'm still not sure whether I regret going in or not, because I don't think I'll ever see Anaras again. But inside was something that I'd always wished I'd seen, if I hadn't gone in. As I fell through the door, the clashing of swords ceased, but I still heard something.
When I glanced over the room, my eyes fell upon my mother and a bundle beside her. The sound I still heard was the slow, labored breathing of my mother.
"Sarana? Is that you, darling?"
"Yes, mother. It's me… what's wrong? Should I get Travadria?" (Travadria is my aunt, and Satryburn's healer. She got her healing skills from her mother, Evenlaey.)
My mother answered, "No. No, Sarana… I fear there is nothing needed for me. But, Sarana. Take this, and never, ever lose it." She handed me the bundle. As she did, I saw that inside the bundle, there was-wonder of wonders-a baby! It made no noise, it made no movement. I could not help but ask the single question that would not leave my mind.
"Is it… is it-"
"No. Only in a trance. Sarana, I want you to take him, and raise him as if he were your own child." Her labored breathing continued, harder than ever. "I want you to name him… cough!… and before I leave… I want to do something… Sarana, dear? Do stop crying. Give me your sword, Sarana. Shkersca Kaezrosh craek stro bacdr!" before my eyes, the name Kaezrosh was etched on my sword in beautiful, graceful letters.
"That name, Kaezrosh, means 'the swiftest blade'. Use Kaezrosh well, Sarana. Never… cough! cough!… never let it be dirty with the blood of any creature." After this was said, she held up my sword (Kaezrosh now) and, with a weak arm, placed it across my lap. Then, with a renewed strength in her voice, she said,
"As a warrior and protector of Emberstain and its ruler, Queen Jaror, I name you, by the power and magic of Tanziler, a Daughter of Magic. Bear your sword, Kaezrosh, well, Sarana, daughter of Artera and Daughter of Magic. May your very soul follow the code of Tanziler and his magic. And may you serve good and not evil, even unto your death. Daughter of Magic, rise and receive your sword with a just and noble heart."
As I began to grasp my sword, she suddenly stopped; I saw her eyes flutter closed, and Kaezrosh clatter to the floor. The sound of breathing was nowhere to be heard. Everything was silent.
When I came back to the reality of what had just happened, a horrible fear overtook me. The last thing I remember is this:
A dark shadow screeched and lunged at me. As I felt it tear through me and painfully back out, I thought I heard it say something.
"Emberstain's greatest warriors are dead! There is no hope! Darkness will overcome all, and Darkwind will rule the darkness!"
"After that, the house set ablaze, and I blacked out."
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