Nįriėl and Liath were on their way to Cendorin Forest. They first had too cross the High Wetlands between the Walls of Bree-fall and the Kings' Statues. It would be a two day journey to the other side. The High Wetlands were covered with swaps and rivers. Mud and quicksand. But there were also many rocks and stones strayed in the swamps. Nįriėl and Liath tried to walk from rock to rock to avoid the swamps and quicksand, while Liath was telling his story.
"When I met you, Nįriėl, I just came back from my pilgrimage. Before then, I lived in Gillath, the capital of Bree-fall. But that kingdom was all ruined. Actually, you can't call it a kingdom anymore. Anyway, when Bree-fall was attacked again, my father took me and fled to the Kings' Statues. But there he was attacked by Yanduryn. The moment he wanted to kill me after, a man appeared from nowhere. He made the Soulbreaker go away and saved me. He brought me to Cendorin, to the place called Sake. The man's name was Owen, also known as the Wiseman. He told me I was a Child of Ķlma and that the mark on my hand was the sacred proof. Then he sent me on a pilgrimage with only one sword as weapon. A pilgrimage to Lake Reflect and then back to the Woodland Realm."
Nįriėl had listened carefully. "That's incredible, Liath", she said admired. "You must be really brave to go on a pilgrimage all alone. You were nine years old. I could never do that."
"No", Liath laughed. "You must know that I was terrified. I cried and begged Owen not to make me go. But he left me alone in the forest, so I had no choice."
"That is kind of cruel", Nįriėl thought out loud.
"Maybe.." Liath muttered. "But still it was the best thing to do. Because you know.. if I hadn't go on a pilgrimage, I would never even have the courage to point my blade at you."
"Really!?" Nįriėl said surprised. "This pilgrimage did you well then."
Liath nodded. "It sure did. I learned a lot of things. I learned to part important things from less important things. And I learned to tell wrong from right. And my nerve has grown a lot too. Honestly, I used to be a real coward and a cry baby!"
Nįriėl couldn't help giggling.
They walked on for a few more hours. They talked about their past and things that they wanted to do in the future. And how they would have been if they would never be chosen. Suddenly, Nįriėl stopped.
"What is it?" Liath asked her.
Nįriėl pointed to her west towards something in the distance. They looked like three stone statues, huge statues. They had the form of humans, one of them had a sword, the other a shield and the last a flag. The stone statues where a bit vague.
"What are those rocks in the distance?" she asked wondrous.
Liath gazed into the distance. "Oh, those are the Kings' Statues," he said calmly and not too happy. "Or more, those were the Kings' Statues."
"Could we reach them?" Nįriėl asked.
"No", Liath said shaking his head. "They aren't there anymore. Collins destroyed them a long time ago."
"But, I can see them from here", Nįriėl said confused.
"My father said that too. But they weren't there anymore. They were already destroyed. What you see is not real."
"Then what is it?"
"Just a memory."
Nįriėl looked at Liath while he walked on. What is the matter with him, she thought.
"His memory", she whispered. "Better not mention it further. I don't know how it feels to lose something of your kin, but it must feel like losing a part of yourself."
She followed Liath. Jumping, tripling over the rocks.
After a few more hours walking on, Liath and Nįriėl stopped. They could see the borders of the kingdom Nimuore lying ahead.
"There these marshlands will end", Liath said, beaming. "There lies the kingdom of Nimuore. See those trees?"
Nįriėl closed her eyes half and gazed into the distance.
"That is Cendorin!"
One that moment, they heard a high cream in the air. From their reaction, Liath and Nįriėl both drew their swords and stood back to back. But after a few seconds waiting breathless, Nįriėl sighed of relief.
"What in the world was that?" Liath asked a bit shocked.
"I don't know", Nįriėl said looking around her. "But I think it's gone now."
But then they heard the scream again and Nįriėl saw a shadow passing the sky. The shadow flee in circles, but then stopped. Nįriėl felt the shadow was looking at her. She looked back at it. Suddenly, a ball of light appeared in front of the shadow. Nįriėl watched carefully. The ball lit up red and green and then suddenly, it came closer and closer with speed. It took a while before Nįriėl found out what was happening. Immediately she turned around.
"Liath, get down!" she shouted.
Liath turned around and saw the light ball approaching. He quickly got down on the ground. He looked up at Nįriėl, who still stood straight on the ground with Rilya in her right hand.
"Nįriėl!" he called.
But Nįriėl didn't move. Her fist held on tight to the handle of the Starsword. Her look was set on the light ball. She didn't blink with her eyes. Liath saw that the Elf clenched her other fist too. Then, when the light ball was only like a meter away, Nįriėl put one foot on front of the other and gave a swing forth with her sword. The stones of Rilya glittered vivid colors. The of the power of the sword became stronger and it countered back the light ball. Nįriėl stood heavily on the ground, trying to stand straight. Liath lay on the ground with his arms over his head, trying to watch. The light ball was caused back to the shadow through the sky. But the shadow avoided it and the ball disappeared into the heavens. Then the shadow disappeared as well.
Nįriėl sighed. From under his arms, Liath blinked a couple of times and then raised his head.
"Nįriėl?" he said.
Nįriėl looked down and smiled to tell him she was okay. Liath smiled and stood up. He shuck his arms to get the dust off. Nįriėl put Rilya back in her sheath and rubbed her sleeves over her face.
"Are you alright?" Liath asked while patting the Elf in the back.
Nįriėl nodded. "I'm fine", she said. "It's just that the blast took some of my energy, but further I'm okay."
"Was it that powerful?"
Nįriėl gazed at the sky. "Yes, it was. And whoever that person was, I have this feeling this won't be the last we see of it."
Liath agreed. "Let us go on", he said.
As they walked further through the marshes over the rocks, a shadow high in the sky watched them. Two red eyes lay on them.
They had to walk for two more days. That night, Nįriėl and Silian reached a small meadow within the marshlands. A few trees stood there in the middle.
"We better rest here", Nįriėl said. We walked towards a tree and knocked on the trunk.
"We're not going to sleep in a tree, are we?" he asked wondrous.
"You have a better idea?"
Liath moaned. He tried to lie still on one of the branches. He looked at Nįriėl a few branches above him. She lay still. She leaned her back against the trunk. Her legs over stretched over the branch she sat on and her arms wide leaning on the branches beside her. When Liath was still turning and moaning, she began to giggle.
"How do you do it?" Liath asked irritated. "Everywhere I turn, twigs are poking my body. I don't think I can ever sleep in a tree."
"I'm an Elf", Nįriėl said with her eyes closed. "I guess I'm just used to sleep in trees. You can use every branch in the tree as a piece of the bed."
Liath stared at her and sighed. Then he turned around once more and fell asleep.
The next morning when Liath woke up, he had a terrible pain in his back. He moaned and when he looked up, he noticed Nįriėl was gone.
"Nįriėl?" he called.
"I'm here", a voice answered.
Liath looked down to the ground through the leaves. He saw Nįriėl waving at him.
Liath let himself slide out of the tree and moaned. By his surprise, he noticed a few horses grazing the grass behind Nįriėl.
"Hey look!" he pointed. "Where do these horses come from?"
"I don't know", Nįriėl said exited. "I think they arrived here this night. "
"But, it's a herd!"
Nįriėl nodded. "Aren't they beautiful?"
Liath shrug his shoulders. "I guess they are. Well, what can I say? I'm a boy! We don't use terms like 'beautiful'."
Nįriėl patted him on the back. "Yes well, in any case we don't have to walk anymore."
"What?" Liath said startled. "You're not planning on catching on of them, are you?"
"Watch me and learn", Nįriėl grinned.
She quietly crept towards a light brown foal. She waited until the young horse looked the other way and then she jumped. But the horse was too quick for her. He stepped aside and Nįriėl fell flat on her nose in the grass. From under the trees, Liath felt like getting a laugh attack.
Nįriėl rubbed the grass off her face and roared. She looked around her for another target. Then she noticed a beautiful brown horse grazing. He was dark-brown with really light socks, nose and ring around the neck. Also the manes and tale were really light-brown. She wanted run walk towards the horse, but suddenly she was blown down by a strong gust. Liath could grab on to a branch. The horse was startled and looked up. Nįriėl scratched back up and moaned. When she say the horse was gazing to something over her head, Nįriėl turned around and looked back. A strong wind swept through her hair. Liath held on to his hair and looking at a hill and a few rocks ahead. Suddenly, he heard a hard roaring. It took him quite a second to figure out what it was. he quickly turned towards Nįriėl.
"A dragon!", he shouted.
Nįriėl quickly stood up and looked back at the horses. They were all fleeing, except for the brown horse with the light manes. He was still staring at the sky and neighed. Nįriėl shuck her head and walked carefully towards the horse. The wind almost blew her down again. She leaned with both arms on the horse's back.
"Listen, you must flee!" she said to it. "It's a dragon! They eat horses! You must go!"
But the horse didn't listen. It was like he was waiting for something. Suddenly, Nįriėl heard another neighing, this time stronger and more furious. She looked at the hill ahead. Then saw a horse's head raising above the top of the hill. He swung around with his legs.
"He's fighting the dragon", Nįriėl whispered.
By her surprise, the horse nodded and neighed. It was like he was telling Nįriėl something. After a while, Nįriėl nodded.
"I think I understand.."
"Nįriėl!" Liath screamed from under the tree. "Get the horse out of here!"
"He's not going anywhere!" Nįriėl screamed back. "Look at the hill! There's a horse fighting the dragon there! It's his father!"
Liath stared at Nįriėl while the wind blew through his hair. Then he agreed and drew his sword.
"Let's help him then!"
"Alright!" Nįriėl nodded and petted the horse. "Don't worry", she whispered. "Thing's are going to be okay."
Then she pushed herself away from the horse. She drew her sword and run behind Liath towards the hill. The horse seemed to be surprised. He pranced and neighed hard like he was calling them back. Nįriėl tried not to look back.
"Don't look back, don't look back", she was saying to herself.
Liath and Nįriėl stopped on the top of the hill and stunned. They gazed down at lower grounds where the dragon and horse where fighting. The hill seemed to be a cliff, which parted the High Wetlands from the meadows of Nimuore. But now, they had to help the horse. He was light brown with darker manes and tale. It was a big and strong horse.
"Come on!" Liath said.
Nįriėl nodded and jumped off the cliff, followed by Liath. They both landed on the back of the red dragon. He roared heavily and swung with his tail. The horse was exhausted. He breathed heavily and was weak, Nįriėl noticed.
"Rilya!" the Elf roared.
Immediately, the sword's stones began to glitter and Nįriėl stroke the dragon in the back. She and Liath were knocked off the back by Rilya's power and fell on the ground.
"Nįriėl!" Laith screaming moaning.
"S-sorry!" Nįriėl answered. "I guess I'm not really aware of Rilya's power!"
The dragon gave a heard roaring once more. The sound reflected against the slopes of the cliff. Nįriėl searched around her for her sword. She was just in time rolling over to avoid the dragon's tale strike. She snatched Rilya from the ground and quickly helped Liath up.
"Thanks", he grinned. "Now, it's time to fight!"
He took the round iron shield from his back. Then, from under his cloak, he got his helmet and put it back on. He gave a swing with his sword in the air.
"Yes!" Nįriėl agreed. "He got her gloves from her packets and put those on. She also got her shield, her mirrorshield, from her back and roared.
The dragon tried to reach his back for the wound, but it was a spot just out of his reach. His eyes were burning. Then he looked at the two children standing in fighters mode, challenging him. He growled and raised his head. Nįriėl and Liath watched him and wondered what he was going to do.
Suddenly, the dragon released a ball of fire from his mouth. Liath stood like nailed to the ground and watched the ball approaching him. He could not move a muscle. Then, when he thought the ball was going to fry him, Nįriėl jumped in front of him and raised her shield. The ball hardly pushed against the mirrorshield and Nįriėl had to use all her body power to counter. After a few seconds staring, Liath quickly helped Nįriėl with the shield and together they tried to cast the fire ball back to the dragon. Suddenly, Nįriėl remembered something.
"Mirrorshield!" she called. "Counter!"
A light flash appeared from the shield and countered the ball back. But the dragon wasn't stupid. He quickly spread his wings and flew high up into the sky. The ball passed below him, but now speeded towards the exhausted horse.
"Oh no!" Nįriėl and Liath screamed.
But then, out of nowhere, the dark brown horse with the light manes jumped in front of his father horse. He neighed threatening to the ball. Then suddenly, a gust of wind appeared from the horse and blew the ball away towards the dragon. This time, the winged creature wasn't quick enough and the ball stroke him in the belly. He fell down on the ground with great noise and created a cloud of dust. The father horse neighed at his son, who neighed back worried.
"Did you see that?" Liath said amazed, gazing at the two horses.
"Yes", Nįriėl with open mouth. "That is... a magical horse!"
But it wasn't over yet. The dragon stood back up again, more furious than ever.
"My turn!" Liath said and ran towards the dragon, with his shield in front of him and his sword raised high.
"Liath!" Nįriėl called back after him.
Liath jumped up and wanted to strike the dragon's head, but the beast knocked him away with his paw. Liath fell on the ground, but got up immediately and roared. The dragon turned and swung his tail at the boy. Liath lifted his shield and blocked the hit. Then he quickly took a rock from the round and threw it on the dragon's tail. He roared of the pain. Liath swiftly ran up the tail of the dragon and struck him in the head. Just before he got hit by a paw again, Liath jumped off the back. Now Nįriėl ran in on the dragon as well. She called Rilya's name again and the stones on the sword began to glitter.
"Liath!" she called.
Liath nodded, avoided another tail strike and jumped up. He landed on the back of the dragon and struck it hard. The dragon stretched himself of the pain and his belly was shown. Liath fell back on the ground and used his shield to block the dragon's tail. Nįriėl ran towards the dragon, avoided the paws and struck him in the chest. She wanted to go away from the beast, but a paw from the back knocked her on the ground. Her fright became bigger when she noticed the dragon was falling forwards and entombed her. A cloud of dust was released and covered the meadows with a wind. Liath hid his head behind his shield. When the dust had cleared, Liath looked up again. The dragon lay on his belly. The two horses were okay, only a little dirty of the dust and sand. But Nįriėl was nowhere in sight. Liath ran towards the dead dragon. He dropped his sword and shield, threw the helmet off his head and kneeled in front of the lying beast.
"Nįriėl! Nįriėl!" he screamed a bit panicked.
By his greatest relief, he heard a soft moaning from under the belly. A gold colored shield appeared from under the dragon. Liath quickly pulled the shield away from the belly and threw it aside. Then also Rilya appeared. Liath took the sword carefully and lay it beside him. Then a hand appeared. Liath realized he could not pull Nįriėl from under the dragon, so he tried to lift the creature with all his strength. But there was bearly any sign of movement. Suddenly, the two horses pushed their heads under the belly and tried to help Liath. The boy smiled while moaning. The two horses neighed and pushed as hard a they could. Then another hand appeared. They grabbed on to the grass. Liath and the horses tried to push harder. After a while, Nįriėl was able to crawl free from under the dragon's belly. Liath and the horses dropped the belly with relief. Liath's body hurt, but he did not hesitate helping Nįriėl up. He coughed and rubbed her own belly. She leaned her body on Liath's shoulder to keep on standing.
"Thank.." she moaned.
"No problem", Liath smiled, glad to see she was alright. "But it's not me who you should thank." He turned towards the father and son horses who licked each other's wounds. "It is the horses who you should thank. They saved you, Nįriėl. It's clearly that they're very special horses."
Nįriėl smiled at the horses. She just couldn't believe how loyal that young horse was.
"Help me", she moaned at Liath. The boy helped her to walk towards the horses. There, he drooped Nįriėl off with the young dark brown horse which she liked so much. She leaned on the horse's body and hugged him.
"Thank you", she whispered. "Myrowing..."
The horse stared at the girl. It was almost like he smiled. He poked her softly with his nose. Nįriėl looked up. The horse looked her straight into her eyes.
Liath watched them with smile. Not just the horse, he though to himself, but also the girl is really special. Then we walked towards Nįriėl and lay his hand on her shoulder.
"Giving it a name", he said, "means getting a band with it."
"Indeed", Nįriėl said. "Myrowing."
Now the older horse walked toward his son and neighed. Myrowing pushed his nose against Nįriėl's cheek. Then a light appeared around the Elf. Nįriėl felt strength returning in her body. Liath saw the wounds on Nįriėl's face healing.
"Thank you, Myrowing", Nįriėl smiled and hugged him.
Some time later, it was time for Nįriėl and Liath to continue their journey to Cendorin. As they walked through the meadows, they suddenly heard a neighing behind them. When they turned around, a dark-brown horse with lighter manes and tail looked at them.
"Myrowing?" Nįriėl said wondrous. "Is he following us?"
"I have a suspicion", Liath grinned. "That he has a desire of being with you."
Nįriėl turned to the boy and looked at him. "Could it be?"
Then they heard the horse neigh again and Nįriėl turned around at him.
"Yes", she said. "I think you could be right."
The horse carefully took a few more steps towards the children.
"Come, Myrowing!" Nįriėl called. "You may come with us, if you like, my friend!"
Myrowing pranced and gave a whiney of happiness. He trotted towards Nįriėl and she grabbed the horse at his neck and jumped on his back.
"Hurry, Liath!" the Elf called at the boy.
"Nįriėl, hold on!" Liath called back laughing.
He ran after Nįriėl and Myrowing and grabbed Nįriėl's hand. She helped him Myrowing's back behind her together they galloped away, to the forest of Cendorin.