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[FanFic] Aveyond: The Lord of Twilight - In Progress

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There's news, good and bad!

Bad Part: I can't get my hands on the chapters at home :(

Good Part: I'm rewriting :D

Watch out! Someone related to Ahriman's Prophecy is going to make a cameo ;)

 

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Their destination, about which Edward seemed to know a lot, didn't feel far to him as they pushed beyond Thais. They were completely in the northern mountains now and the vegetation was sparse, the air thinner and the ground drier. The sun seemed hotter than usual and it wasn't a pleasant journey anymore. On the other hand, Stella's riding skills had improved much over the last few days. After ascertaining that she had indeed become good enough, they bought the lone horse in the mountain dwarf-town of Gheledon.

The dwarves were known to be a mixed people, merry when they dined, grave when they mined. It was evening when they reached the town: the time when the dwarves usually returned from the mines. Tonight, however, as was the story of many nights before, there was much less laughter in the tavern than usual.

They didn't encounter anyone on their way, mostly because out of discretion, and slight fear, they walked in the shadows. They met a single dwarf near the gates, but he apparently couldn't speak, so they couldn't stay for long.

They streamed inside the tavern, much prone to wide eyes all around. Not many men usually came in these parts and it had been years since anyone had been to Gheledon.

'Why's everyone so quiet?' Edward asked as they took seats near a group of three dwarves. Two of them looked young, the third very old. 'My father had once been here. He said it was impossible to hear anything here in the evening'

The dwarves looked at him grimly. They didn't seem too keen on conversation.

'We lost another cart today' one of the younger ones finally said. 'One of us was badly injured in the skirmish'

'Skirmish?' Edward asked, confused.

'Goblins' the other dwarf said gravely. 'They're multiplying'

Edward slowly nodded.

'Where?' he asked again. 'In the mountains?'

'Yes, and they're increasing fast. Another day of work ruined for us. The cart was almost filled...'

'Filled...?' Edward said, though he already knew what they meant.

'Gold' he said gruffly. 'And it's becoming difficult to get. The deepest mines are already taken by them. We won't have much for the next year at this rate'

For a minute, they sipped onto their drinks.

'Why don't you do something about them then?' Mel asked. 'Put an end to them once and for all!'

'We're outnumbered. Not all of us can fight, though we are some of the most skilled miners in Aia. The dwarves of the hills wouldn't come to our aid either. They demand a share of the recovered amount.'

'Then why don't you give it to them?' she asked. She immediately saw it was the wrong thing to say. The dwarf stood up looking at her fiercely.

'Do not instruct us on who we give our hard earned gold, and who not' he said roughly.

'She doesn't understand' Edward said hastily. The dwarf sat down again, still looking haughty. 'Anyway, what I don't understand is what do these goblins do with the gold?'

'They take it to their commander' the old dwarf finally said. 'What he does with it, its a question none can answer, but his desire is larger than anything else'

'Who is he?' Edward asked as he didn't continue.

'The slain king of Talinor. A shadow of the Daeva Zarich'

'Zarich...' Edward said, a slight light on his face. 'But the Daeva was slain by Rhen Pendragon the First...'

'It's not so easy to kill a Daeva' he said gravely. 'My father, a mercenarary, himself fought the battle against Ahriman. But he returned, didn't he?'

'Your father...' Edward said slowly.

'I'm Hardin, son of Haddan' he said proudly, puffing up his chest. 'It was my father, who fought alongside Lord Devin Pendragon, father of Queen Rhen Pendragon'

The two other dwarves had apparently known this, for they were far less impressed than the three.

'But that was ages ago, wasn't it?' Edward asked, again confused.

'We dwarves don't age the same way as men do' he said, smiling. 'Unfortunately, neither do the Daevas'

'I've heard they are the most fierce of all the demons, is that true?' Mel asked.

'They're not exactly ordinary demons' the other dwarf said. 'The Daevas are beyond understanding for many, though they are rumored to be invincible, and truly some of the firecrest'

'But...' Hardin said slowly. 'This is not the Daeva himself, it's a mere shadow. A form that is far less powerful than the real Zarich. That's why he needs the goblins at all...'

Edward nodded again. For a few more minutes, they fell into silence.

'Have you asked for help from Thais?' Edward asked earnestly. 'They could help you'

'Why would the men help us? They'd rather have us dead, so they can claim our wealth!' the younger dwarf said. 'We have a long, and bad history with men'

'How?'

'The war of the river, fought between the old alliance and the dwarves... they pillaged every house of ours, and never looked back'

'That was ages ago' he said loudly. 'Those wars were fought over foolish reasons, which make absolutely no sense now!'

'Men don't change, kid. Mark my words'

'You're mistaken' Edward said bluntly. 'They'll come'

The dwarf looked slightly offended. He quickly composed himself and have Edward a challenging look.

'Alright, then!' he said. 'If the humans do come to our aid, I myself, Farin, shall forever serve in the army of men, under the commander who shall drive out the spirit! And if not, the next time men fight, I myself shall rally forces against them'

Edward smiled, his eyes calculating.

'Agreed' he said.

 

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They took leave of Gheledon early the next morning, though several of the dwarves had already gone into the mines. Probably, Mel thought, because goblins were more active during the day, though it seemed to counter the common belief that they slept during the day and fed in the dark. The three had barely left behind the last of the small, and cosy dwarfish houses when suddenly the path vanished altogether.

They now simply treaded through the rough ground, their paths unexplored. The trees, Mel noticed, was slightly regaining the color they had lost for the last few days. Nobody seemed to live in these parts, and they didn't encounter anyone on their way, man or beast. At around mid-day, they reached a river, shallow but a relief from the hot sun. Edward's gaze followed it down on the mountainside. They could no longer see the forests around Thais, as of earlier at the start of the mountains.

'This must be the river of Narol Isin, famous as a mark of the end of the way' he said grimly. 'Few ever cross it, and the lands beyond are known often to be hostile. Further in this direction, beyond the mountains, lies the kingdom of the Orcs, who were long ago allies of men, but the relations are now strained. We're not far now, though'

They didn't say much as they ate the dwarf-made meat sandwiches. They were rough and spicy, but all the same worth giving a taste. The ground was cracked due to dryness, despite of its proximity to the river. The river water was saline and muddy, and they didn't bother to refill their bottles with it.

They rode slowly, for the way had turned increasingly narrow and dangerous. The horses padded the ground nervously and the wind was blowing loudly to make things worse. A few rocks often tumbled from above, almost falling on them. Their speed had become painstakingly slow, and they hoped the wind would stop soon.

As evening fell, the wind had indeed reduced, but there was a slight drizzle in the air. Taking refuge in a cave, Edward lit a fire on which they warmed their hands, eating the now slightly stale sandwiches. Stella was quiet, though Edward and Mel did chat for some time before silence fell. The place was imposing onto them. They decided to take turns to watch out for anything dangerous, though they had encountered none as of yet. Mel fell asleep soon, being extremely tired of the journey.

Edward woke her some time later, but it was still dark, and Stella was looking outside at something.

'Have a look here' Edward whispered. Mel suddenly noticed that the fire was extinguished, seemingly stamped out. She slowly crept up beside Stella and looked into the valley below.

A large creature, seemingly a bird was perched on a spire. It was the size of an elephant and was completely black, with only the moonlight shining on its wet back.

Every now and then, it would turn and look around.

'A Wyvern' Edward whispered. 'I didn't know any still existed'

'Why is it here?' Mel asked. To her surprise, Stella answered.

'It's a guardian of the lands' she said slowly. 'The protector of all that flies and walks in its domain. It stands against anything that goes against the dwellers of the land and sky'

'How do you know that?'

She turned around, looking puzzled.

'I don't know...' she said hazily. 'I feel like I was told this long back... as a child'

She turned around again. There was a crash as rock fell, throwing up lots of dust. The ground below Stella had given way.

'Stella!' Mel cried out. She, fortunately, was still hanging off the edge. Together, the two pulled her back up.

'Hide!' Edward yelled suddenly. For a moment, Mel couldn't understand. Then she heard it, and saw it as she turned.

The Wyvern had left it's perch and was making straight for them. The huge wings beating the air were causing a ear-splitting roar. Mel and Stella ran inside the cave, but it was shallower than they had expected. Edward moved back, drawing out the Excalibur as the Wyvern levelled with the cave.

It was larger than anything Mel had seen move. Veins extended onto the wings, making it look like a dragon. The beak was large enough to eat her whole. The whole body gleamed brightly in the moonlight. The ancient creature would have looked magnificent if she hadn't been fearing for her life.

'Who are you, thief in the dark?' the Wyvern spoke slowly, the old, but extremely powerful voice resonating through the night.

'I come in peace, great guardian of the mountain!' Edward said loudly. 'I hail from the kingdom of Thais, and we forever have been of help to these lands'

'I do not trust anyone. What seek you in my lands?'

'I seek naught but safe passage, great guardian' Edward said loudly. 'I wish to cross the mountains into the lands beyond'

The Wyvern breathed out loudly.

'You are a thief and a liar, fool!' it said, menacingly moving closer. 'Tell me the truth. Why hide your companions if seek no harm? Let them come forth to bear the same fate of yours'

Edward stepped back too.

'We're not lying!' Mel said, stepping forward. 'What is that we could possibly want in these lands?'

'Relics beyond the understanding of men rest in these lands and the skies. Few men ever know of them but they come here for no reason other. Now tell me why you have stepped in my lands'

'I swear, we only wish to go to Naylith' Mel said aloud.

'Ah, yes' the Wyvern said, sounding satisfied. 'But tell me now what seek you in Naylith'

It wasn't an easy question to answer.

'We go there not for our gain, but for all' Stella said.

'Yes, the third. I knew there were three men somewhere tonight, but I couldn't have guessed that there would be someone whom I have heard before'

'Before?' Stella stammered. 'You're mistaken, guardian of the skies, for I have never before been in these lands'

'Again, you lie, but I know not why. Tell me what seek you in Naylith, master of Elethor'

'I'm not a master of anyone' Stella shouted. 'But I can tell you this: our passage to Naylith is vital, for all life shall be endangered the other way'

The Wyvern roared. It lay its claws on the mouth of the cave.

'I know not why you are so keen, but you cannot go to Naylith' it said. 'The key has been broken. The alliance has won. Elethor is gone, and he shall never return. I am Remedath the terrible, and forever shall I remain! It would be a pain for Elethor, ever should he return, but I cannot let you pass'

She had no idea what it was speaking, but it didn't sound good.

'Die, now for you have destroyed the peace in my heart, and awakened me from my slumber!' it said coldly. Without warning, it swept onto Edward, throwing him inside the cave. Stella ran forward, Mel behind her.

'Stop!' Stella shouted. 'We mean no harm!'

The Wyvern stopped.

'You serve not me, Elethra the Blue' it said. 'Elethor would have had to let you go, but not I. All are foes of mine!'

It swooped down onto her. There was a blinding flash of light, which seemed to have come from Stella. The Wyvern screeched and they all clapped their hands to their ears. Swiftly, still screeching, it flew away into the darkness, their ears still echoing.

'Are you hurt?' Stella said immediately.

'No' Edward replied, standing up. 'Thank you for that! How...?'

'I know it this time' she said looking outside. 'I guess you were right, when you said I was from the healer's clan. Wyverns protect their lands, but often not by will. They are bound to the cause by their masters, who themselves are healers. The Wyvern answers to ones whom it protects only'

'So that means you...'

'No' Stella said, shaking her head. 'I don't need to be the one who bound it. Any healer can punish the Wyvern if it doesn't follow it's oath'

'But you said it answers to those whom it protects' Mel said, puzzled.

'Yes' Stella nodded. 'I couldn't believe it when it said it had heard my voice before. So when it came close enough, I took a chance. "Nyum aror tyu itsil" - literally meaning "Go back to your oath", an ancient spell in Naysil'

'He called you something like "Elethra" and master of Elethor...' Edward said, his voice trailing off.

'I know...' Stella said, looking confused again. 'But I've never heard of either'

They didn't speak for a few seconds, Stella looking at the now distant silhouette of the winged beast.

'You knew this all along?' Mel asked.

'No' Stella said turning away. 'It came back the moment it looked back at me... I don't...'

Her voice trailed away. For a few more minutes, they didn't speak. The drizzle had completely stopped.

'You must sleep' Edward said finally. 'Both of you look terrible'

They nodded. He was about to turn when he died abruptly.

'Stella' he looked at her. 'How do you know Naysil?'

'I'm not sure...' she said, looking into the distance.

'What's that?' Mel asked.

'The language of Naylith' Edward answered. 'Not many people speak it these days'

'Then can't Stella be from Naylith?' Mel asked. 'That seems likely'

'No she doesn't' Edward said. There seemed to be a hint of laughter in his voice.

"Why?' Mel said stubbornly. 'How can you rule that off like that?'

'Trust me' he said, positively smiling now. 'You'll know soon enough'

 

 

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They woke up in just a few hours and quickly set off for their destination. The sun was yet to rise and Mel kept her ears perked for any sound, especially that of wings. It was no later than an hour, when Edward stopped and got off his horse. The girls followed. He led them along a small, one man path along the mountain on foot for a few minutes and then stopped.

'Here we are!' he said, turning, waving his hand ahead. They were on a large ledge, where the path ended. In the middle was a rock room, completely sealed from all sides. It looked big enough to hold a hundred men.

'"Nayil Estur" - Naylith Summit' Stella read from the small bronze plate affixed to the room. 'This is it?'

'Where's the door?' Mel said, going around the room again.

'It's right here' Edward said, standing in front of the name plate. 'It's sealed, that's all'

Mel made to speak, but closed her mouth again. Edward carefully ran his hand over the rock and then laughed.

'Wait and watch!' he said, inserting the Excalibur in a particular crack. He picked up a rock and banged it inside till it was halfway in. Grunting, he pulled it to the other side. Throwing up a lot of dust, the old gate appeared as the rock crumbled.

It was Mel who slipped inside first. The room looked old and undecorated from inside, but the walls were smooth as marble. It was completely brown colored and dry, making it feel like a dark sand castle. In the center was a stone table and at one end was an inscribed wall. They reached the stone table first.

The circular rock was carved like a basin with an identical hole, the size of one's palm at the center. Four symbols were etched on the four sides, which Mel didn't recognize. Edward, however, was looking at these very symbols.

'These... what are these doing here?' he said.

'What are they?' Mel said, a question that didn't need to be asked.

He placed his hand on the one opposite to the carved wall. It was a snowflake, with three swords crossed.

'The emblem of the Ice Queen, the ruler of the Istir forest, to the west of where we stand now' he said, nodding. He pointed to the next, an Axe held by two hands. 'The ancient kingdom of Dragthor, where the dwarves lived long ago... Till the drakes came'

He slowly moved to the next and carefully looked at the third, a single curved stained sword held at both ends.

'Orcs' he said. 'The eastern kingdom, actually quite close now'

He moved to the final one, looking disbelieving. It consisted of two crossed arrows and a rapier in the center. It was flanked by what seemed to be a leaf crown on both sides.

'The elves of Venwood' he said, eyebrows raised. 'The mightiest of the elves of Arenda'

He looked at the four symbols again.

'I wonder what could have brought the four races together...' he said, looking struck.

'Look here' Stella said loudly. They hadn't noticed her walk to the carved wall. 'It's in common tongue:

The alliance has won, the key is broken,

Now shall it all end, for the parts are taken

Beware, traveler, of whom you help,

For you know not, what secrets they delve'

Above the inscription was an emblem: a sword with wings, which looked more majestic than any of the others.

'The key...' Edward mused. 'Didn't the Wyvern say...'

'The same thing' Mel completed. 'Yeah, he did. I wonder what it means, but the question is what do we do now?'

Edward didn't speak. He read the inscription again.

'Mel!' he said loudly. 'You didn't answer one question of the Wyvern's. Why do you want to go to Naylith after all?'

Mel stopped. She had been expecting this since the last night.

'Answer one question of mine first' she said. 'Why can't Stella be from Naylith?'

She had done it to distract him, however he plainly answered.

'It's simple!' he said. 'Naylith is a city of the sky, and all dwellers can fly! They have wings, do Stella can't be one of them. Answer my question now'

Mel tried to digest what he had just said, though it didn't seem rational.

'Okay' she said finally. 'I'll let you know, but you wouldn't believe it'

'Try me!' Edward said.

'Here we go: I don't think I ever told you how I came to the academy, did I?

'No, you didn't'

'Okay, so I'll start from the beginning. You already know that I used to work as a thief though I don't usually admit it. Now one day, or rather night, I was asked to steal an heirloom from an old tower near Harburg... That tower incidentally was built by a long dead sorcerer, Modred Darkthrop. Now this client of mine turned out to be a vampire and the heirloom was something he could use to plunge the world into darkness'

She waited for a second. Edward was expressionless.

'Then Tei'jal, a vampress, saved me from this client - his name is Gyendal - and sent me to Thais. Everything was going well, except that Gyendal has this heirloom- the orb of darkness- but he cannot use it without a descendant of the old sorcerer. That is why he needs me, or Stella, to activate this orb'

'So why Naylith?' Edward asked.

'Now there exists another orb, the orb of light, which can be used to counter the other. I think you see where I'm getting at. This orb is in Naylith and it is mandatory that we get to it as soon as possible.'

She stopped and breathed, having said the last part in one breath.

'That's your story?' Edward said slowly. Mel nodded firmly.

He looked at them, one after the other.

'The next time you involve me, do tell these crazy things before we start' he said.

'I never involved you' she said stiffly.

'I gave you a chance to tell me the truth, Mel, and you reward me with this?' he said loudly, turning around. 'I really hope you complete your crazy mission'

He stormed out, leaving Mel slightly shaken. A minute later, they heard the distant neigh of a horse.

'He's gone' Stella said. 'Why wouldn't he believe you?'

'I shouldn't have delayed it this far' Mel said. 'Besides, we no longer need him, and I'm not saying we ever did. He'll return either way, though, from curiosity at least'

She stopped abruptly, unsure how to say what she wanted to, for it had no explanation. She delayed it for minute, examining the wall and table for a last time.

'There's something else... I suddenly feel we need to head back to Harburg'

'You know what,' Stella frowned, looking at her and then at the table. 'I have the same feeling'

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Haha, looks like I've got a war started here :P I can mention this, though: The Orcs (that includes Ulf) will play a much larger part than in the game! And it's some time before they're gonna appear :D

 

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I was just kidding! And yeah, Ulf will play a part (though it will be quite different from the story). He will be with the main party for a short time, but will come again later ;)

 

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What can I say? Well... I'm honored, I guess! :D

I've written another chapter and I'll post tomorrow (cause I'm lazy to do it now XD)

 

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The three reduced to two galloped back the same direction they had come from, with hardly any sign that Edward had stopped anywhere, for they could clearly see the fresh track even in the rocky dry area. Mel had been hoping Edward would return soon, but she didn't feel so confident anymore. The journey back towards the south west seemed to take much less time, not to mention effort, chiefly because their course was broadly down hill. They didn't stop at Gheledon at all, deciding to bypass the longer path altogether, though it meant going by a newer way. They didn't lose track, though, and surely, the path led them to the border town of Alur before dusk.

Alur was, by any means, an interesting town to be brief. It was named after, and situated on the banks of the river Alusa, a short stream that flowed no longer than twenty miles in the Thial territory before it vanished altogether abruptly. The waters of the Alusa were known to be mysterious and dark, but also powerful and blessed, for their charm was beyond the understanding of men. They were known to heal the wounds that none other could, but more than once had the left the user blind to the sunlight. Often, the river would flood, leading to mixed consequences, ranging from wild and uncontrollable growth of vegetation to painful deaths for those who drowned or got drenched in the water. The river, as a result, had a great hold on the variety of people who dwelled on the town, many of whom had traveled long distances from lands far away to learn and experience the powers of the magical river.

Mel and Stella spent the night as usual in the local lodge, but Stella took out time to visit the river and feel the water, as many others did, which had no unearthly feel to it, as many who hadn't ever been there claimed.

Mel, meanwhile, was scratching her head, trying to tame the unkempt hair in the tavern, when a brown cloaked figure came forward and sat in the chair opposite to her. She sat up straight warily.

'Am I right' he said. 'In saying that you're being haunted by a ghost of the past?'

The man had a pleasant voice, and as she couldn't see his face, it was hard to guess his age. He was completely covered, including his hands and right down to the toes.

'No' Mel said, taken aback.

'Is it a corpse then?'

'Why should you say so?'

'You smell' he said flatly. Before Mel could open her mouth, he drew out a bundle of paper scroll and threw them on the table. Carefully, he scanned through them, picking out a couple.

'Yes, so as I was saying, I'm pretty sure it's a corpse'

Mel moved back slightly. The man swooped down onto her and picked up something off her shoulder. It was a red strand, very thin, but visible. He put it to his nose and carefully inhaled.

'Interesting' he said, putting it down. 'That it should stay there even after days. I guess it might be due to excess of animal fat'

'Excuse me' Mel interrupted. 'Can I please know what's going on here?'

'Not much, young lady!' he said, again joyous. 'Life is as usual, though I have something for you!'

'Um..' she fidgeted. 'I'm sorry, but I don't think I'm the person you want'

'Oh, that's not a problem, since I don't know myself whom I'm looking for! Nevertheless, I feel quite sure you are the one I've been searching for since a few days, now. Not exactly you, but I guess it'll find way to whom I want it to with you'

Mel's eyebrows were just in danger of disappearing into her hair, when she saw a flash of violet. Stella crossed the room swiftly and put down the cloth bag onto the table. She looked at the hooded person, who was rummaging through a huge bag which Mel had no idea had come from and then at Mel, looking questioning. Mel shrugged.

'Oh, I didn't know you had a companion!' he said, looking up, still throwing scrolls and now small vials out of the bag.

'I hope you don't mind, but who are you?' Stella asked politely.

'I wouldn't have minded at another time, but this not the moment!' he chuckled. 'You'll know anyway, if you are the ones I seek'

'Okay' she said slowly. 'Can you at least tell us whom do you want?'

'An old friend, actually! We dwelled in the same town for long, before I left. I had this one favor left, though'

'Which... town?'

'I wouldn't tell you that' he laughed. 'Neither is it in need, for here it is!'

He drew out a small blue vial and kept it in front of them.

'Actually, that's a lot, so maybe I could've removed a bit... anyway, I don't have the time' he said, more to himself and stood up.

'Wait!' Mel said loudly. 'What's this?'

'You would want that dearly, young lady, for it'll earn you an ally beyond measure!'

Mel bent down and picked up the tiny vial gingerly. Stella's eyes followed her.

'But...'

Her voice trailed away. The hooded figure was gone, with no sign it has ever been, except the vial in her hand. She looked at Stella uncertainly.

'I'll keep it' Stella said, tucking away the vial in her dress. Mel looked at her for a second and then turned away, making way for their room. It didn't seem harmful, but she didn't feel like staying in the town for long. The next evening, though it had turned darker than Mel liked, they were already in the southern Thial mountains, a mere fifteen miles from Harburg when the sunlight ceased completely and the crescent moon was all they had.

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