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So, here is the fourth chapter of my fantasy story, 'The Foretold.' This chapter introduces another important character to the story. Please feel free to comment, as constructive comments are always most welcome! I've checked for typos and the like, but there is a pretty good chance that I'll have missed one somewhere!
Hope you like it! ^_^
---DO NOT COPY UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!!---
Gitohf, still in his wolf shape, rolled around in agony, clutching his right leg. The girl possessed immense power. If her concentration hadn’t have slipped he would now be dead. He looked at Vordren’s body, useless now. It was burnt, along with what had once been Gitohf’s bow of evil. He shrugged, Livved would have only have killed him, and he could always ask her for a new bow. But he had failed her. She would not be pleased. But maybe he could still earn her favour back. It would be risky, Livved was not easy to please and quick to anger and he must tell her of the Foretold’s potential before she came looking for him with the fury of an erupting volcano and the strength of a mountain. Gathering the ashes of his bow he turned into a bat and – flapping his wings to gain altitude – flew into the sky.
Emriella, Hannolly and Thoerenn pushed their horses to a full gallop, not even slowing to eat their lunch; they just shoved the food in their mouths. Both they and the horses were tired, but fear drove them on. Two hours after noon the city of Jall came into view. Only here did the horses slow and they were relieved at the decrease in speed. All three of them were worn out by the time they reached the outer walls. At a first glance they were hardly recognisable.
“I bet we look like the living dead,” joked Thoerenn. The others gave feeble laughs; none of them were in the mood to joke.
At the gate a guard stopped them. Emriella dreaded that he was going to refuse them passage, but he merely wished to ask them something. He held a piece of paper in his hand. “Have any of you seen anyone resembling theses descriptions on your travels?”
Emriella took the paper from him. The three of them cast weary eyes upon it. Underneath the description were two pictures. One of Thoerenn and one of the assassin. They stared at it in disbelief.
“The king must be looking for you!” said Hannolly in a harsh whisper.
“Great!” replied Thoerenn sarcastically.
“Well?” asked the guard, interrupting their conversation. Emriella looked up into his eyes. They twinkled blue in the pale light. She was about to say something when Thoerenn answered for her.
“The assassin is dead,” he said trying to make his voice deep and commanding. “He tried to attack us. We killed him. Many dangers now roam these lands.”
The guard agreed.
“Not seen the prince though,” continued Thoerenn.
The guard took the paper from him and opened the gate. “May you have a safe and pleasant time here in Jall, and thank you.” He said.
Thoerenn nodded in acknowledgement and the three proceeded on their way.
“That was close,” said Hannolly, “I thought we were done for!”
“Good job I can think things up on the spot.”
Jall was not a very large or busy city, but today was market day and so there were more crowds than usual. Emriella, Thoerenn and Hannolly soon found themselves in a throng of people. The noise was just like Ksaih; the buzz of people talking to one another, merchants shouting bargains, the sound of people haggling for the price they wanted, coins dropping into the hands of satisfied sellers.
The smells were mouth watering. Bread fresh out of the oven wafted over from the baker’s stall, tempting buyers. The smell played on people’s tongues, teasing it with little tastes of fresh bread and pies. Flowers of rose, lavender, lily, chrysanthemum and many others mingled in the air, giving off a sweet perfume. The air also held the faint tingling smell of spices that were found only in southern Nerep. They were the sounds and smells of a true market.
In the square there was a band of musicians playing lively tunes for people to dance to. Emriella suddenly had a longing to hear her father play his flute, for him to make it sing with joy. She loved music; to her it was an expression of the soul.
They soon left the crowds behind and entered a long narrow street. The horses’ hooves clattered noisily on the cobbles. A sign hung above a doorway. It was greeny-grey with gold writing on it. It read:’ Ye Halburn Inn, Kækoth ondræ carbouth’.
“What does ‘Kækoth ondræ carbouth’ mean?” asked Emriella.
“I think it means, ‘And ward all evil’,” replied Hannolly. Being a guard meant that she knew a bit of the old languages.
“Sounds good to me,” said Thoerenn. He dismounted and led his horse into the stable.
Inside there was little noise as most people had gone to the market. In the corner someone was playing the piano, and a few people were talking in hushed voices or playing cards, but nothing else. They turned to look at them as they opened the door, but seeing that they were no one important they soon lost interest. On the wall was a poster. A painting of the spring and winter goddesses were on it, along with the words, ‘The Coming of Winter dance. Kooth dorei Jullmn aka’, it also had tomorrow’s date on it. Thoerenn pointed it out to the others.
”It’s tomorrow night. We could go.” He said. Emriella nodded.
A small plump man came over to them; he looked like the landlord. “Can I help you?” he asked in a deep baritone.
“Yes, we would like two rooms please,” said Emriella.
“Okay and how long will you be staying?”
Emriella looked at the other two. Hannolly shrugged.
“Just for the festival,” answered Thoerenn, once again taking charge.
The plump landlord nodded, scribbling it down on a note pad. “And your name?” he asked.
Thoerenn turned to look at the other two hopelessly. “Er…Mr. Oaktree. These are my two sisters, Allæ and Lura.” He said as he eyed the oak wood piano. He could not give their real names for fear of causing unwanted attention.
“Right, that’ll be two gold Rujacks, please.”
“That’s almost forty silver!”
“Only for the best accommodation here in Jall. If you don’t like my prices I suggest you go elsewhere. Though you’ll not get it any cheaper if you plan on staying for the festival,” declared the landlord. Thoerenn reluctantly handed him the money. They were then showed to their rooms.
“Mr Oaktree?” asked Emriella in a hushed laugh.
“It’s all I could think of. Anyway I didn’t see you think of anything better.” He said affronted.
They had two bedrooms. Hannolly would have to share with Emriella as one room had two beds and they could not afford another. Each room had a window that looked north towards the mountains. They were pleased with it. Emriella went to lie on her bed. It was soft a luxurious and she was asleep in an instant. Hannolly and Thoerenn followed suit, and they too were soon asleep.
Emriella woke much later to the rumblings in her stomach. It had been a while since she had eaten properly. Standing up she adjusted her sword, which was constantly by her side and went down stairs. She found Hannolly and Thoerenn sitting at a table in the corner, chatting and drinking. They waved her to sit next to them.
“Dinner’s on its way,” said Thoerenn, taking a sip of his drink. Emriella guessed it was Coffell as it gave off the smell of crushed Coffell beans. Hannolly offered her some. She took a long sip of the warm liquid, its gentle warmth seeing off the chill in her bones.
In the far corner Emriella noticed a man staring at them. He wore a grey cloak that hid his face in shadow, but she knew his eyes were fixed upon her. He had a pipe in his mouth and was blowing rings of smoke into the air. Emriella grabbed the landlord"s arm as he walked past.
“That man over there, who is he?” she asked, indicating to the man in the corner.
He followed her gaze and saw whom she meant. “That’s Forgeth; he’s one of them ‘remembrancer’ people. If I were you I’d have nothing to do with him. A bad influence he is. Dealing with magic and things best left alone. It ain’t right.”
She felt defiance surge through her blood but she forced herself to keep calm. She nodded and the landlord moved to another table. She gave this Forgeth another glance. There was something about him, which made Emriella feel that he was important in some way.
After dinner Emriella went for a walk in the inn’s garden. The autumn breeze was cold but bearable. The sun had set, leaving a sky of dusky blue silk dotted with thousands of tiny diamond-like stars. Lamps hung on the walls of the inn, casting a soft golden glow across the garden. A large sycamore tree stood tall in the corner of the garden. Its dark frame silhouetted against the sky. She walked to the pond and sat on its cold stone edge. The first of Nereps’ two moons reflected in it, making it a pool of light. A bird flew from a wall into the high boughs of a tree. Emriella watched it settle in its nest for the night.
Footsteps crept up behind her. Their owner sat down next to her. “Are you Emriella?” asked a man’s voice muffled by fabric.
She turned to look at the stranger’s face, but could not see it in the pale light of the moon. ”Who are you?” she asked nervously. How did he know her name?
The man pushed back the hood of his cloak, revealing a face full of wild features. His hair was dark and course, its unruly strands catching the wind. She looked into his brown eyes. They seemed to dance with strange laughter.
“I am Remembrancer Forgeth. I hear you are the Foretold. The one who will bring peace to this war-torn world,” he said looking her in the eye.
“Who told you that?” she demanded, looking into the pond, she found his intense gaze unnerving.
“So you confirm it? Oh, I have my sources.” He answered, his expression giving nothing away. “Let’s just say I overheard a certain conversation in Ksaih.”
Emriella turned to look at him. “So you were eves dropping on us?”
“If you want to call it that,”
“How did you know we’d be here?” she asked suspiciously. It was highly unlikely that he would have been going the same way as them.
“I followed you.” He answered blandly.
Now Emriella was furious. “You mean you saw our struggle on the hill with that thing and did nothing to help us! Why?”
“It was your fight, not mine.” He answered, his voice irritatingly calm.
“That’s not the point! We could’ve died out there, and you would have done nothing to help us!” she shouted at him. She was now on her feet, eyes flashing in anger.
“But you didn’t did you. You managed to wound the creature and make it safely here without my help.”
Emriella glared at him. “What do you want?” she snapped. He had annoyed her.
“Allæ, the landlord says you’re to come in.” interrupted Thoerenn. At first Emriella didn’t realise he was talking to her.
“We’d best go. Come to the lake tomorrow. And come alone,” said Forgeth walking towards the open door. Emriella followed him, unsure. Who was this man?
The next day Emriella, Thoerenn and Hannolly were walking through the still busy streets of Jall. Emriella wore a distracted look on her face, and she was on edge with the fact that she was to meet Forgeth. She had to find a way of getting to the lake without Thoerenn and Hannolly following her or raising their suspicions.
“What’s the matter?” asked Thoerenn.
“Nothing!” she snapped at him.
“Okay, I was only asking.” He said taken aback.
“Look, I’ll meet you at the inn for lunch,” she said. She turned on the heel and headed into the crowd before they could say anything to stop her.
“Don’t forget the festival!” shouted Hannolly after her.
She waved a hand in acknowledgement then disappeared.
Hannolly turned to look at Thoerenn. “Well, I guess that leaves us to look where we want then.”
Emriella roamed the streets; she had no idea where she was going. She stopped to ask someone.
“It’s just down that street and turn left, love,” said an old lady. She had a kind smile on her face that was framed with short grey and white streaked hair. Emriella thanked her and headed in the right direction. Three to four minutes later she arrived at the lake. It was very large and extended further than Emriella could see. It might have even extended out into the sea.
Forgeth was lent against a tree waiting for her. “I see you made it here alone.”
“Yes, eventually. I had to ask for directions.”
“I know. I saw you asking that old lady.”
“You were following me again? What do you do when you’re not out stalking people?” she asked, walking towards the water’s edge.
“I don’t stalk people!” he declared in an injured voice.
“Then what were you doing?” she asked.
“I was tracking you, not stalking,” he said grinning.
She could see that he was teasing her. “Well, if you were ‘tracking’ me, how did you manage to get here before me then?”
“I know many shortcuts through the city.”
“So, what do you want?” asked Emriella, changing the subject.
Forgeth sobered and the grin on his face faded. “As you know, I am a remembrancer. Long ago I looked deep into the past to the birth of Livved. I saw all that happened on that terrible day. Since then I have devoted my life to the coming of the Foretold. It is my aim to see you safely to the city of Korroth. There you will be able to seek help for your quest.
“I happened to be passing through Ksaih when my magical senses tingled with delight. I knew the Foretold had come. My senses led me to the palace, where I overheard your conversation. I then followed you to Jall.” He said. He picked up a pebble and skimmed it across the water.
Emriella looked at him. “But if you managed to work out that I am the Foretold, won’t others be able to work it out too?” she asked, her voice full of concern. If so she had no hope of keeping it a secret.
“I guess so. I was lucky; I was in Ksaih at the time. Anyone with a considerable amount of power could probably find out if they wanted to.” He answered. She looked deep into his eyes. No lie lingered there, he was telling the truth.
“So Livved will know who I am?”
“Most likely; looking at the thing on the hill I’d say yes. That’s why we must get to Korroth.” He said. He picked up another pebble and did the same with it as the first.
“What’s so special about Korroth?” asked Emriella, watching the pebble hit the water.
“Korroth is in the south. It is where Elrinnkir lives. He is head of the Seers and Remembrancers. He will be able to help us,” Forgeth looked up at the sky. “Time for a spot of lunch, don’t you think? Maybe you can introduce me to your friends.” He began to walk away from the water and back up the path. Emriella sighed and followed him back to the main part of the city.
Back at the inn Emriella introduced Forgeth to the others and told them that they were going to go to Korroth for help. Hannolly was suspicious of Forgeth.
“How do we know we can trust you? You might be one of Livved’s servants.”
Forgeth laughed, “you don’t, though you’re right to question me. If I were one of Livved’s servants would I really be out at midday? And any way, you don’t really have a choice. You can either wander about lost and be a fairly easy target for Livved, or you can come with me and have extra protection. Besides, if I did work for Livved – which I don’t – wouldn’t I take you to Threll where Livved is? And isn’t that where you want to go?”
Hannolly gave a slight nod. She still didn’t fully trust him.
“Don’t think you have the power to defeat all of Livved’s servants, because you don’t. You see that pendant,” he pointed to the pendent around Emriella’s neck. “That is your power. When it glows silver it means that your magic is full. When it’s empty, like now, it will grow dull. The brighter it is the stronger the power. I will teach you how to harness it so you will be able to deliver blows successfully.”
The others nodded, agreeing that the sensible thing to do was to go to with him to Korroth.
“What’s your source of power?” asked Thoerenn, he had been quiet for quite a while now.
“Me? My power is in this ring.” He said, showing them a silver ring upon his scarred and weathered hand. It had bands of shining silver plaited together like a rope. In the centre was a green topaz gem, its many faceted faces catching the light.
Sat on the high balcony, Emriella could see everything. It had turned out that Forgeth knew more than just shortcuts through the city. Forgeth was an old friend of Lord Huru, who had travelled here for the festival. He was more than happy to share his balcony with them. “Any friend of Forgeth’s is a friend of mine.” He had said joyfully.
They had made each other’s acquaintance when Forgeth had saved Lord Huru’s life. Lord Huru had been travelling to Jall when two bandits had ambushed him. Forgeth, hearing the cries for help had rushed to his side and single handily killed them. Lord Huru had been in his debt ever since.
The festival had started now. A parade was coming out of the street near the baker’s shop. There were many people dressed in bright colours, there was also a band playing in the corner of the city square.
A hush settled on the crowd as a man stepped up onto the large dais. ”People of Jall, and all others who are here visiting, welcome to the start of the winter festivals!” Even though it was early autumn it had been an ancient tradition to hold festivals before winter – they were supposed to help make the winter a good one and encourage spring’s early return.
A cheer went up. When it had quietened he continued, “I know you’ve been waiting all year for this, so let’s start with the Coming of Winter dance, or as they say in the old language, ‘Kooth dorei Jullmn aka!’”
He stepped off the dais. Music began to play quietly. The dancers arranged themselves, and the dance began. One of the dancers was dressed as Icekallan, goddess of winter. Behind her were her companions, Hodrœ god of frost, Ithkræal goddess of snow and Nordin god of the north wind. They each held a part of her icy cloak. As the dancers twirled gracefully across the square, those pretending to be trees full of lush green leaves, turned golden then fell off altogether, pretended to wither and die. The icy frozen blanket of winter now lay upon the land. The musicians did a slow diminuendo.
Now they played short crisp notes that sounded as if snow was falling. As if the music had brought them, dancers dressed like snowflakes began to dance playfully across the scene. In the middle of the dancers was Goddess Ithkræal, she too was dancing. Mischievous smiles were on their faces. Emriella sat enthralled like so many others who were watching the magical dance that seemed to last for hours.
The music then suddenly stopped and so did the dancers. That was the end of the night’s dance. Every night a little more of the dance was performed. It ended when the goddess of spring arrived and banished the winter for another year. The two goddesses would duel with each other, but in the end spring always won. When this happened the music would crescendo as the dance reached its climax. Then the musicians would play a lively spring tune that everyone would dance to.
Everyone began to rise and slowly and noisily make their way home.
“Would you like to stay for a drink?” asked Lord Huru eagerly.
Forgeth declined his offer. “We leave at dawn. We need all the rest we can get, but thank you for the offer.” He gestured for the others to follow him.
Emriella was yawning with fatigue. That had been a marvellous performance. She said that it was a shame that they couldn’t stay to see it all.
“We cannot linger,” Forgeth had answered, “I think Livved is up to something.”
Gitohf’s painful flight slowed as he reached the border of what used to be the kingdom of Threll. Long ago the landscape had been one of lush green grass, wild flowers, tall ancient trees, grand houses of white marble and a beautiful stone palace.
Now the land was less pleasing to the eye. The grass was black with mud and ash, dead skeletons of trees stood, their bark withered and rotted. The houses lay in ruin, those that still stood had lost all of their former grandeur. A fire controlled by magic had swept across the land, destroying everything in its path. The palace was now home to Livved, it was the only thing that still stood whole. But like everything else, its walls were the colour of evil. Livved’s cruelty and malice had poisoned the very earth; no living thing would ever grow here while Livved reigned.
It was possible that should she be slain, that in a hundred years later green would once again grow upon this evil land. Gitohf knew that if his mistress succeeded she would turn the whole world like this. It did not bother him. What bothered him was how she was going to take his news. While he did not fear many of the things mortal men do, he too feared Livved’s anger.
Although his right wing pained him so, he did not stop to rest. He must get to Livved quickly. He changed into a falcon for speed. When he reached the palace he turned back into his man shape. He limped to the nearest guard and demanded to see Livved. The guard did not hesitate and he opened the door for Gitohf. Gitohf stepped inside. The guard rushed off the tell Livved of his presence. Seconds later he reappeared. “You’re…you’re to go in,” he stuttered. Gitohf nodded, braced himself and opened the door to the queen’s throne room.
Livved was sat upon her throne in a deep dark purple gown. Her eyes flashed angrily as she saw him approach alone.
”Ah Gitohf,” she said, “I see you have returned, alone. Why is this? Did I not ask you to bring Vordren back with you?” Her voice was soft but it had a sinister edge to it.
“Yes Mistress, you did,” replied Gitohf, bowing low to her.
“And did I not ask you to kill the Foretold?”
“THEN WHY HAVE YOU RETURNED EMPTY HANDED?” Livved roared.
Gitohf tried not to flinch. Livved disliked weak souls. “Well, my Queen, I went to Ksaih and found Vordren just like you asked. We then tracked the Foretold and her companions— “
“Yes, there were two others with her, the prince and a female guard. Anyway, I made a fog so that they would get lost and followed them all the way to the river. Here I was sure they would die. I sent a blow after blow of magic at them, but they had some sort of defence shield. One more blast and I knew that they would die. But then the Foretold sent a blast of white fire towards us. It hit my right leg, severely wounding it, but it hit Vordren full in the face. What was left of his body was burnt and useless, along with my bow of evil. I then decided it was best to come and tell you.” He paused to catch his breath, dreading Livved’s answer.
Livved was staring at him, weighing up what he had just said. “And all of this is true?”
“I swear on my life.” Gitohf answered.
“Hmm...Interesting...I never knew she possessed that much power.” She muttered to herself. “Well, Gitohf. You have failed me,”
Gitohf wasn’t looking forward to what was coming next, but what she said surprised him.
“But you have been a worthy servant, so I’ll give you another chance; just one other. You are going to help me.”
“How, my mistress?”
“I have a plan,”
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