Castle Roland

The Chronicles
of Valana Vol 1:

by A.B.


Chapter 10

Posted: 22 Jun 15

The Chronicles of Valana: Shadowlands

Copyright © 2015, All Rights Reserved

This story is 100% fictional (DUH!! :P).

This story will feature sexual scenes between boys and boys, boys and girls of various ages so if it's something you don't like/agree with or it is not legal in your area/country or are not as of yet of legal age to be reading this sort of stuff then don't read any further.

I welcome feedback emails with healthy criticism, suggestions etc. or just plain correspondence, but flames will be ignored and those email addresses will be added to the block sender's list.

Send your feedback emails to: and add "BCC list" along with your comments/feedback if you want me to add you to the list of people I will be emailing with updates and release dates of new chapters/stories.

Hunting shadows

Aer'andil woke up early, earlier than he would have wanted but since he would not sleep anymore, he just lay there, holding Norion in his hands, sharing their warmth in the cold of dawn, well the sun had not begun its ascension yet but there was this blue-orange sort of hue out the window. It would be rising soon, and he would be leaving.

His heart ached with it. This past year had been so peaceful and amazing. Never in a million years would he have thought that he would be falling so desperately in love so early in his life and not with just one person but two, and of both sexes. It still made him lightheaded.

He squeezed Norion closer to him, he did not want to go but he could not, not go. Norion looked so peaceful laying there sleeping, his chest rhythmically going up and down.

Norion moaned in his sleep when he felt Aer'andil's squeeze around his shoulders. He draped a hand over him and a leg over Aer'andil's.

Aer'andil stifled a giggle and kissed Norion's cheek. Norion grumbled and batted his eyelids getting used to the difference in light.

"Hey…" Aer'andil whispered.

"Gruhg…" Norion made a grumble sound.

"Even when you've just awaken you're cute." Aer'andil whispered to him.

"I hate it that you're such an early riser…when you get back we'll have to correct that." Norion teased him and straddled his waist.

Taking Aer'andil's hands in his he moved them behind his head and leaned in for a kiss shaking his butt at his love's fuckstick.

Aer'andil kissed him back but soon broke off the kiss. "Last night was just…amazing doesn't do it justice. I have never felt as alive and as thoroughly pleasured as after…you know we both finished."

"Yeah, I never thought that having something up my bum would feel so…incredibly good and full…and you know you fuck great!" The last part he didn't just whisper but he brought his lips close to Aer'andil's ear as well.

Even in the dim light, he could see Aer'andil blushing up.

"You were not too bad yourself."

"Not too bad? Ha!" Norion said in more raised voice and then sharply went back to whispering. "I'll have you know that you came first, so I did pretty well!"

"Yeah right, I came first after having sucked you and then pounded your sweet behind for like an hour!" Aer'andil quipped back.

"More like ten minutes." Norion poked his tongue out at Aer'andil.

"Well yeah…you have too good a bum!"

Norion kissed him again. "You're not too bad yourself in that regard.

"Ha!" It was Aer'andil's turn to raise his voice. "I'll have you know that I have a fantastic ass!" He said and upon realising the sort of conversation they were having, he pushed Norion off him knowing full well that his cheeks felt like burning.

"This conversation is not decent of the crown prince of all elves." Aer'andil tried to say with seriousness but he burst in giggles.

"Well your crowned highness, you minded not last night when we were fucking like horny rabbits!" Norion said making Aer'andil choke on his saliva.

"I did love your poem, I love you." Norion said after the laughter died down.

Norion closed the distance between them short as it was and cupping his cheeks in his hands, he kissed him again.

"Yes, I loved your poem as well and I love you too."

Aer'andil got dressed and packed the things he would be taking with him.

A knock on the door and his personal servant entered, "Your highness, the others are waiting for you outside, by the city's gates." She said and left with a bow.

Aer'andil took his leather backpack and stood in front of the door for a second. His mind racing a thousand miles per hour and for the first and last moment in his life since returning to Valana he thought of going back to Earth, with Norion and Tha'ala of course. Then he opened the door and holding Norion by the hand, he left his room.

They walked to the city's gates taking in the view of the sun and nature waking up with the elves on this new day.

In front of the city's gates stood his parents, a few elves he did not know holding trays covered with white silk and the Kings of Elves and Men from the previous day as well as everyone who would be leaving with him.

He stood in front of his father, next to Lucas. Merol, Feldon, the twins, Micraal and Segaru stood in the same line. Opposite to them at the center stood the High-King and Queen, on the left of the High-King stood the elves holding the trays and the Elven Kings. On the right of the High-Queen stood the Kings of men.

Liandras looked at his son and Norion and smiled. Norion went and stood next to one of the elves that stood right after the Elven Kings, who Aer'andil knew was his mother. Norion was almost a spiting, much younger version of his mother with his father's eyes and posture, and of course, he was a boy and not a girl.

"Now that we are all gathered here." Liandras spoke and took two steps forward. The elves holding the trays followed him.

"Merol Keen, come forward." At the mention of Merol's name, it was like all heads of the Kings of men snapped to see him.

Merol took a few steps forward until he stood in front of Liandras.

Liandras removed the sheets of silk from one of the trays. On it Aer'andil could see various items but could not fully make what they were.

Liandras took one of the items from the tray and gave it to Merol.

"This is the stone of Eklandi. He was one of our greatest enchanters. The stone will make new any blade, almost as if it had been crafted by the elves. It has only one use left before it breaks." Then he looked straight into Merol's eyes and his face grew grim. "When the time calls for sacrifice, will you sacrifice that which you are or that which you love the most?" He said and motioned with his hand in Merol's direction.

Merol walked back in line with the others seemingly deep in thought.

"Beck and Drake come forth." Liandras called for the twins next.

They walked forth hesitantly.

Liandras removed two items from the tray and gave them to the twins.

"These are the pendants Elthrondin. Wear these and no spirit no matter how powerful will be able to influence or hurt you…mortally, this can be a boon and a curse, you decide which you keep and for how long. The Pendants have one more use, I suspect it will take you a while to understand it but I will provide you with a brief if not enigmatic explanation of it. Simply put they will allow you to remember but nothing else." He said and then looked at their eyes.

"What would sacrifice for penance, redemption and ascension to the heavens above? If one of the Spiritu Aeternae offered thee, all, would you agree to sacrifice your brother? Would you do it?"

Beck and Drake answered almost simultaneously looking very solemn, "Hell no!"

Liandras smiled sadly and motioned them to return to the line.

"Micraal of Eri'Adar walk forth." Liandras said next.

Micraal walked to him and stood feeling awkward with his hands on his sides.

Liandras removed the sheets from the next tray and took a phial. Inside it was a glowing blue liquid.

"The tears of Glidarathon, daughter of Vedaron will purify anything from the presence of evil, even a tormented, corrupt soul." Then he locked eyes with him.

"If you try to achieve that which you crave the most, your deepest desire. Your darkest fears shall come to pass. If when all is lost you still have a soul to lose then drink of the liquid but squander it not, there is no more left in this world."

Micraal walked back. Liandras called for Feldon next.

Feldon walked up to him and made a small bow in show of respect.

He picked up a rather long, thin item from one of the elves and removed the sheets that covered it. It was a splendid spear, all carved with intricate runes along its shaft and a two-foot long thin blade on either end. All along the surface of the blades, more runes glowed red and green. Aer'andil could feel the magical energy emanating from it even from a distance.

"The spear of Galorn, crafted from Glothoin's father Galorn, this spear is older than all of the Elves and just as magical in nature and just as…enigmatic. It is yours, until either the true master of Zah Dah is dead or you are, after it is to be returned to the house of memories."

"My Lord…I cannot ac…" Liandras raised a hand to stop him.

"Your score I am afraid will not be settled in this war, but if this war is not won you will not receive any Elbrathril later. My old friend, take care of my son. He will need thy guidance and comfort before long." He said and motioned with his hand for Feldon to return to the line.

Aer'andil knew that word to be closure.

"I am forever in your debt old friend. I will do all that I can for your offspring as I would for thee." Feldon said and with one more bow, he walked back to the line.

"Lucas, walk forth." Liandras told the boy and picked up a bundle of leather.

Lucas stood in front of him.

Liandras gave him the Leather bundle. "These are the runes of Ethomir. He is one of the greatest Speakers to have ever lived and most certainly the greatest one the Elves have ever this far produced. He pushed the boundaries of Speaker abilities and discovered no less than one hundred and fifty new runes and an assortment of uses and combinations. Inside the bundle, there are also some of his notes. Some of these have not even been tested so I would urge caution and careful study before using them." He told Lucas who eyed the refined and wonderfully coloured leather bundle.

Liandras peered into his soul through his sparkling eyes. It was an unsettling feeling to be sure.

"Two words. In Zah Dah, when you find yourself in the enemy's hands, two words shall sway the world's fate. Two words to name nothing. Chose them wisely young one or fall unto ruin." Liandras told him in a most serious voice.

"Segaru Malais." Liandras said picking a box-like item from the tray. The boy walked up to him.

Liandras gave him the box. A striking difference was the box itself. Unlike all of the other items before this one was as plain as if it had been made by the poorest of artisans in the poorest of districts of a human city. It only had one sigil engraved on top of the lock.

"Herol galar, inside this box is a stone of truth or truth stone. Only a few such stones remain today, created in a world of antiquity even to elves, long before there were Humans or Elves. These stones are not stones as you and I mean them, they are not natural. They were sang into existence by once great craftsmen that did not carve or work their creations as we do today but rather they took up an element, or more and sang to them until what they wanted was forged from those elements and their song. When you are ready to speak truth without inhibition or fear of the result the box will open of its own. The stone is ancient beyond ancient and only has but one limited use. Spend it wisely." He told Segaru and then motioned for him to go back.

"Aer'andil, my son, come forth."

Aer'andil walked to his father, he did not want to go, not just because of Norion and Tha'ala but also for a lingering feeling that he could not explain but centered on his father.

Liandras picked up a white silk covered long-looking item and held it out in front of him. He then carefully removed the silk to reveal a bow. When Aer'andil looked at it he saw simple, refined elegance. Nothing extravagant, not even heavily carved like most Elven items and swords and yet its wave like design gave it a majestic feeling. There were of course runes places on it and Aer'andil detected different kind of runes and incantations. Some Similar to what he had seen in the book of the pact in the house of memories.

"It is said, that when you are born and as a child you want to experience life, you are unsettled and chaotic and full of energy and desire for the future. As you grow older, knowledge and experience replace some of the energy and chaotic will and then when you reach the setting of your life you let go of everything but that which is most important to you. Material wealth is of no importance and neither is physical appearance. I find I am in that phase of my life. I have lived it to the fullest, I have experienced it to its max, I have learned and taught, I have been happy and sad, I have witnessed war and horror beyond count and now I am in my setting so I let go of everything but for that which is most important to me.

"You, your mother and our species. You three I love most above all else and above that all…you, my finest creation, my proudest achievement in this life or the next so in that spirit I give you Elven Grace, my last and finest of material creations for the being that I love most in the world. Merol and I created this, each providing it with our own unique set of skills and abilities. In the end, it is neither wood nor metal. What it is you have to find out for yourself, discover it as you are discovering yourself. It will take a lifetime. Its abilities are as numerous as the grains of sand in a beach and as complex as the stars in the sky and yet as simple as yesterday's magic. This is my gift to you and I will tell you of one of its abilities. Whoever looks at it, will see in it what he or she sees and desires in you."

Aer'andil held the bow and immediately felt it resonate with his very being. He could feel magic flow from it and to it.

"Next I have two more gifts to give you in the same fashion as I gave your friends and companions." Liandras told him and grabbed two identical looking shapes from another tray. "These are the quivers of Ka'athalan, they will fit around your waist in the traditional manner of Elves and can each carry up to twenty arrows each but the enchantments on them will make them feel as if they weight nothing. Finally, this stone was salvaged close to four hundred thousand years ago from an island to the north that no longer exists. It is said to have fallen from the sky, Limbathalin Galar, stone of the heavens or celestial stone has been its name since. When the time comes to battle nothing, you will need time, time to learn, time to grow. Use this metallic stone to bind nothing to there and fire to bind it here, for it cannot exist in both here and there and so chose nothing must. Remember always Aer'andil, that you are the reason of my existence, the breath of my life. Remember that I love you and that I am sorry I had…had to send you away and denied you growing amongst your people but I acted as I thought best for you and your safety." Liandras finished with tears in his eyes.

Aer'andil made the two steps separating them and hugged him as close and tight as he could. Liandras hugged him back for as long as he could, rubbing his back, before pulling him back and caressing a hand on his cheek. He motioned him and he returned to the others.

Liandras stood a few steps closer to them. He looked at each of them, penetrating them with his ageless eyes.

"War has come to Valana and no one is safe from its reaching grasp. You seven and one are called to ride out and face the Master of Zah Dah and his seven Generals. Darkness is everywhere and the hearts of men are easily deceived. When in doubt trust in thyselves and each other. Nothing can be found everywhere but it cannot be everywhere at the same time. Should Elven Grace and Speaker clarity fade the world will fall. Will intent and bring forth new doom." He told all of them then he looked at Merol and Feldon.

"Your first stop is Dara. Once the civil war is over and order restored you must go to Zah Dah via Eri'Adar through Valkion's way." He turned his eye to his son and Lucas.

"I wish you did not have to face the perils ahead but things are as they are and cannot be anything else. You have all the knowledge and tools that you will need to face the monsters ahead." His eyes centered on his son's eyes. "Think not as of this place."

He looked back at all of them. "Say your goodbyes and then you must be on your way. The armies will assemble in a month. The situation in Dara must have been resolved by then and her army joined the rest of the host." Liandras finished talking and walked slowly back to his wife.

Merol, Lucas and the twins said their farewells and stood by the gates chatting amongst themselves.

Micraal stood by himself talking to no one.

Feldon walked to his family and bade farewell to his wife before kneeling down to his son.

"I am already proud of you Norion Anorion, I love you son. Your mother named you fair, look after her while I am gone, she looks all tough but she's honey on the inside." He told his son hugging him.

Norion had tears on his eyes. "I will father. Please…protect him." Norion whispered back to his father as he squeezed him tight.

"I will. He will come back a worthy High-King to his people, and worthy of your love and fealty." Feldon said giving Norion a reciprocal squeeze in show of love and affection.

Feldon got up and went towards some of the other elves.

Aer'andil was at his mother's arms feeling all warm and content. She could not stop telling him how much she loved him and how much she would miss having him close to her after all the time he had been separated from her.

"Felwyn love, they have to get going, he will come back." Liandras said and held Aer'andil by his shoulders turning him to face him.

She kissed his forehead and stood up.

"I cannot express in words how proud I am of you, my son and heir, and words will fail beyond measure to describe the depth of my love for you. I need you to know that deep in your heart now and in the months to come. I will always be with you."

"I love you to dad. Why do I…we have to go to Dara? Can't I come with you? We can ride to Zah Dah together and lay it to waste." Aer'andil asked, his face buried in his father's neck.

Liandras sighed. "You must follow your path son of mine and I must follow mine, but they do not intertwine. I will see you again where no shadow lie." Liandras replied in a sad voice of tone.

"But why…?" Aer'andil pressed on.

"Because things are as they are and cannot be otherwise. Go…go speak to your love." Liandras responded and stood up, walking towards Feldon and some of the other elves.

Aer'andil walked to Norion and Tha'ala.

"I wish...I did not want to leave you." He told them looking sad. "But I don't want to see you hurt either so…I guess I have to do this."

They made a small circle holding each other's hand.

"Yes, you have to do this but please…hurry back to us. We will miss you so much." Tha'ala told him.

Aer'andil looked at her. "I will, I will return and I will have a poem for you."

She giggled blushing, "I will have one for you as well." She said to him and leaning in she gave him a peck on his rubbery, soft lips. Aer'andil kissed her back and in a move that surprised them both, he pulled in Norion sharing their kiss with him.

Eventually he broke the kiss and looked successively in their eyes before speaking.

"I love you both equally as much. You two mean the world to me. You are the breath of my lungs, the thoughts in my mind and the core of my being." He whispered to them, for only them to hear.

He turned round and started walking unable to hold back his tears anymore.

Segaru only had his father to say farewell too and he was feeling very angry with him.

"I…why do I have to go with them? My place is in the palace. I am the crown prince of Rodenia, not some half-witted adventurer." He whined to his father.

"Yes, you are the crown prince of Rodenia and after my death you will be called to lead our people. The palace life has made you arrogant and soft. You need to grow into the role destined for you and you will not do this under the pampering of your mother and the court. While I still draw breath, I am not only your father but your liege Lord and ruler too and you will do as I command you. You will go with them, you will aid in whatever way as you can and you will become the ruler Malais are for their country. My word in this is final."


"I will deal with your mother my own way, she may be my Queen, my wife and your mother but I am her king above all else and she will obey me in this one. Now get going son or you will have to walk to the ferry and to Dara alone. The north is not a place you want to be alone in." The look on his father's face was new to Segaru. He did not see him much in the Royal Palace of Rodenia and when he saw him he usually had his way with the right nudging of the court and his mother's bedtime nagging. He somehow knew that his father would not badge now.

The ride to the ferry port was a silent one. Everyone preoccupied in his or her thoughts.

The ferry port was in a small cove. A large arched forum lead, to the marble dock where the ferry waited for them.

They boarded the elegant, wooden ship. It spread its sails and departed Gel'anr's shores.

Aer'andil sat on his own looking out to the sea as the ship glided across the velvet-looking deep blue water. He wanted to go back already and it had not even been a few hours since he left.

"War and shadows…death and destruction…darkness….darkness rises doesn't it?" He closed his eyes and asked his spirit.

"In volumes and you're heading right into the thick of it."

"I can't stop it can I?"

"No one can, you can fight it."

"I will. Nothing and no one will harm my Tha'ala, my Norion."

"Sometimes to get what we love we have to let it go."

"I have. I do not like it."

"Would you like it better that the armies of Zah Dah march in Gel'anr and kill everyone?"

"That will not happen. My father's army will destroy them and me and Lucas will…somehow kill the Master of Zah Dah."

"There is always more than can be seen and you won't be killing it if you don't learn what it is and how it is."

He felt a hand come across his shoulders. He opened his eyes to see Micraal looking at him with a hopeful look painted on his face.

"You are sad. Why? You will see your parents again after this is all done."

"It is not just my parents, although I miss them too having found them after living twelve years thinking I was abandoned…I miss Norion and Tha'ala so painfully much and it has only been a few short hours. My heart aches for them."

Micraal tried to smile, "I…can help you forget them, at least until we return back to Gel'anr." He said, a hand snaking itself lower to his thigh.

Aer'andil removed his hand without even looking at him, "No, I do not want to forget them, now or ever. They are the love of my life and as of yesterday, I am officially betrothed to them both. I cannot think life without them Micraal. Would you not want to go to Eri'Adar after this is all over?"

Micraal swallowed. "N…no…I have nothing there…at least in Gel'anr I have you…"

Aer'andil looked into his eyes. "Have me? Micraal we are friends but you do not have me." He said and left.

The trip to Kilvi Vindro was a short one. When they arrived, Aer'andil could see that it was not more than a fishing village, rundown and left to its devices.

They started packing their things and disembarking.

"Somebody carry my stuff. I am a Malais after all." Segaru ordered.

Lucas laughed, "No." and disembarked.

"We are neither your slaves nor servants, carry your own stuff." Aer'andil told him and left as well.

Segaru just stood there waiting with self-righteous entitlement for someone to obey his command. Everyone else other than Merol left.

"Grab your things and follow, or be left behind." He told Segaru and disembarked.

"I am a bloody Malais…how…" His mutterings were lost to the wind as he picked up his bundle and followed Merol.

"We go North by North-east." Merol announced after paying for horses in the stables.

They departed.

A few hours later, they came by a storming river.

"Urel is brimming I see, must have had quite a few rainstorms this year." Feldon commented.

"Urel? Where are we anyways?" Lucas asked. Aer'andil noted a slight hint of irritation from his friend.

"The Rivers Urel and Ygaral are the life's blood of Udelon. Ygaral serves also as natural borders to the nomads of Udrel." Merol answered him.

"Nomads? Udrel?" Lucas continued.

"Udrel is a nation of horse nomads to the north of the river Ygaral. They are the best equestrians in Valana after Qazameria. To resist them Udelon have evolved their archers on both foot and horseback, Batorn has evolved their magic users, and pikemen ranging from simple spears to forty meters long pikes. Udelon is in a constant battle for third place in merchant tithes and trade with Lavonia. Eri'Adar and Rodenia fighting for first place. Batorn would very much like to annex Dara but Darans will die before ever that happens and we have shown them the error of their way a few times in the past. Odrel just like their horses and cattle." Merol continued the history lesson.

Lucas mumbled something and toyed with the horse's reigns.

The rest of the day went by without much talking as they galloped on the open planes heading north.

They made camp for the night and continued their journey north east at dawn's first light.

"Look! Smoke in the horison." Aer'andil shouted. The sun was hanging above them, without a cloud in the sky.

"Looks like a caravan." Feldon said and spurred his horse. "Be on the ready we do not know what has happened.

They galloped to the burning caravan. Feldon and Merol dismounted. "Stay on the horses and keep your eyes and ears open.

The ground beneath their feet looked fouled, the air smelled of sulfur and filth. Lucas thought that was a good word to describe the smell, filth.

The wagons were either burning or burned. The horses lay slain with horrific cuts all across their bodies and the humans all of them were mutilated beyond recognition.

Merol and Feldon drew their sword and spear respectively.

Feldon whispered something and a gust of wind blew at the stale air around them. Dark ash rose from the ground and stuck on the horses' hooves and their clothes.

"Ewww…what the fuck is this shit?" Lucas exasperated placing a hand over his mouth and nose.

"Bah! Miasma…this is dark magic. Darkness has been here." Merol skewed his face in disgust.

"Darkness is here." Feldon said calmly.

"Over here! A survivor!" Drake called out to them. He was horseback behind one of the burning wagons.

Aer'andil led his horse there. Merol and Feldon walked there. Feldon kneeled down and held the man's head in his hand raising it slightly.

"What happened here? Who…what did this?" He asked in the dialect of Udelon.

The man was dying there was no doubt about that, he had a gashing wound across his chest and one of his legs was severed. That he still lived was a feat of some proportion.

"We…were attacked…" blood came out of his mouth. "They…didn't want our wares…they took all of the kids…took them to…Ge…" more blood came out of his mouth.

Feldon let out a breath and placed a hand on the man's chest wound. "Rest my good man, let go of all your worldly worries." He said and started whispering in Elvish fast. A black liquid substance came out of the man's wound and levitated above. Feldon touched it and called out a word. "Fendralth" The substance actually let out a screech and broke apart. The man sighed and he was dead. He looked peaceful.

Aer'andil pulled back on his horse's reins and it stood on its two legs in surprise as Feldon rose and spun around in one swift movement just as a creature black as night leaped from the within the burning wagon.

The look on Feldon's face made the hair on the back of the twins' neck stand erect. They had seen that before, on Merol's face when he had cast them down and almost killed them all those years ago.

The creature had no real solid form as it changed between various different animal-like forms in eye-blinking speed.

"Vig hana ninugahal jik hana Zah Dah! Gihurah Nivu hji melarn floigh!" The creature screeched as Feldon held out the spear in front of him and twisted it left and right before cleaving it on the creature.

Lucas understood what the creature said just before Feldon's spear cut it in half. "For the Master of the Shadowlands. Exalted be his dark name!" When the spear cut it in half it withered away evaporating as if it had been made of water.

"Ivakor…so far away from Zah Dah? Shadows have been active this past year." Merol said.

"What is an Ivakor?" Aer'andil asked the man.

"A creature made from miasma. It serves an overseer who serves one of the Dark Generals of Zah Dah. It is made for only one thing. To gain information while killing its victim. They are not foot soldiers…they are the ultimate spy. You cannot see them, you cannot smell them you can barely hear them before they strike. Only Elves, magic users, Speakers or a combination of the above can see them when they are stalking their prey. It did not cause this destruction. It killed the men while tearing at their memories and thoughts to gain what information it could get." Feldon said as he looked around hurriedly.

"How…how does that work…?" Aer'andil asked hesitantly.

"It…merges with you, covers you then it ravages your body while shredding your mind taking what it desires. It also feeds off of you at the same time." Feldon said. "We must leave. Now. They are never too far away from the overseer." Feldon mounted his horse, as did Merol.

"We can take him!" Beck said in a cheery voice.

"No, we do not want to beacon our location and destination to the enemy for hundreds of kilometers in every direction." Merol said as he kicked his horse and it sped up.

"Fuck, we're not even two days away from the Elven Isles and shit like this happens." Lucas retorted with Segaru obviously unhappy about the situation as well.

"I should be in the royal palace…not here…with peasants and black magic monsters." He mumbled.

The day passed on without any more excitement. As the sun set behind them Aer'andil saw a forest appear in the horizon.

"Are we going to go around it or through it?" He asked pointing at the not so distant forest.

"Through it. We have not time to go around it." Merol answered.

"What of Gel Valir?" Feldon enquired.

"It has been silent for millennia and we have no choice. We must hurry to Dara or Liandras' army will reach Lavonia and start the offense on the army of Zah Dah without the Speakers of Dara." Merol replied.

"I remember seeing a map in Gel'anr, why not sail closer to the eastern coast and travel under it?" Aer'andil asked.

"The sea between Dol'Anro and the north shore is avoided even by the most seasoned sailors. Too many currents and reefs. We would need too long a span without almost any wind to go as slow as possible and navigate through the treacherous shallow waters and reefs. We have no time for it." Merol finished and gave a signal to his horse to go faster.

"What is Gel Valir?" Segaru asked.

"An abandoned Nial citadel." Feldon said looking worried.

"Why fear it if it is abandoned?" Segaru pressed on.

"Abandoned by humans and elves." Feldon replied looking grim.

"We have no choice, we go through it. We'll keep an eye out for what crawls in the night." Merol said.

"Both eyes, sword, hands, spear and magic." Feldon murmured.

They made camp for the night not far away from the outer stretches of the forest.

They all felt drowsy after dinner. Aer'andil spoke up.

"Feldon…who…what are the dark Generals of Zah Dah?"

"We should sleep but I will tell you of one of them. Elinor Gilthian. I think you two have met?"

Aer'andil shivered in cold fury. "Yes…"

"Not much is known for the seven Generals of Zah Dah. Rumours and whispers consist of most of what is known about them. The Elves know slightly more of some of them and one or two are complete mysteries on us all.

Elinor Gilthian. That was not always his name but I will tell what I know. Rolein Nilthag was a sailor that lived in a human city that no longer is. The city was called Varia and it was near today's Yaria. It was a cesspool of a city full of pirates, thieves, mercenaries and smugglers and the personnel to entertain such…"men". Rolein Nilthag was not a paragon of virtue either and he loved to spend his nights ashore in the company of strong liquor and loose women.

"One of them as was expected bore him a child. He rejected having anything to do with her or his offspring and chose instead to change base of operations to a city called Jathi, near what is today the northern shore of Odrel.

"Not much is known after that of what happened to the child but I think I can safely assume that he grew up in the streets of Varia and sooner or later joined up the criminal gangs of the city. Nothing was heard of it again for a time." Feldon paused and warmed his hands on the fire.

"At the time I did not know any of this, I learned it all many…years later. The elves hear all. We have eyes and ears everywhere in Valana. We do not care about the affairs of men unless they trouble us. We care for reports of darkness, shadows, black magic and dark spiritum uses." Feldon said turning his palms near the fire to warm them on both sides.

"Dark spiritum uses?" Aer'andil asked folding his legs in his chest and wrapping his hands around them.

"The equivalent of black magic for Speakers…nasty stuff if one knows what he's doing." Merol said lying on his back.

"Back then I was one of the Pelari ial riathnol, the hunters of darkness." Feldon continued but was interrupted by Segaru whereas the twins' eyes bulged out and choked on the water they were drinking.

"Hunters of what? I've never heard of that Elven rank or military designation." Segaru said with ample attitude.

"Pelari ial riathnol. No, you would not have. Only the High-King, the king of Dara and the Elven Kings know of their existence. Not even the rest of the Elves know of us. We are the elite of the elite of Elven military fighting darkness and its agents. There are currently only ten of us and we only report to the High-King or High-Queen, whoever is the rightful born of the line of Glothoin. When I was one, there were only four of us. I had my reasons for wanting that post so when Liandras who had already done quite a lot for me offered I accepted without even thinking about it. Only the High-King knows all of the Pelari ial riathnol and he is the one to train them.

The hunters of darkness have but one objective, one thought and one purpose. Find and eradicate darkness by any and all means necessary. It is not easy being a hunter of darkness. You are required to have hatred and anger, to be able and ready to do whatever it takes to defeat darkness."

"Why have hatred and anger?" Aer'andil asked.

"Because…how else can you do black magic or use dark spiritum to defeat those who use them for darkness?"

"You…you've done black magic?" Segaru and Aer'andil exclaimed at the same time.

"Yes, well I am no speaker so I can't do dark spiritum but yes black magic I have done. In the service of the High-King of the Elves, I would do and will do whatever I must. Have faith in the knowledge though that I have never harmed an innocent with it.

"As a hunter of darkness I started receiving worrying reports of an assassin out of Varia who was just too successful, too sadistic and used black magic in killing his victims. I departed Gel'anr and begun my investigation."

"Wouldn't the people in Varia know something was up if an elf walked amongst them asking questions?" Micraal asked.

Feldon chuckled. He whispered something and his appearance changed to that of a middle-aged human with a fat belly and a baldhead. "Appearance is not always what it seems young one." Feldon said and then shapeshifted back to himself.

"As I was saying I began my investigation. Shapeshifting or not I had to be discreet, cautious and paranoid. The unknown assassin had already killed a hunter as part of a contract. It took me a decade to track him down and learn about him, of him. What I learned made my skin crawl and what I saw would make anyone not used to the sight of gore and blood vomit.

"One night I followed him to a large house and hid waiting for my moment to strike. Then I heard him talk…I will never forget his voice. In that building where all of the bosses of the crime families of Varia. Everyone had thought that the killings and assassinations were random but there was a pattern. I had understood the pattern but did not know the reason for it. It was all to smoke out the leaders of the crime families. He told them who he was. Elinor Gilthian and that he had worked for them only to be betrayed by them thinking that he would be moving against them. They had had him killed. So for more than ten years he was killing their supply lines, smugglers, financiers, weeding them out and in the process he had created the most powerful order of black magic assassins Valana had ever seen." Feldon paused.

"There was even more than I had not picked up on, being too focused on tracking him down I had missed stuff. He had converted the whole of Varia…almost the whole of Varia into Beralocs…"

"Beralocs?" Lucas asked looking enthralled by Feldon's accounting of Gilthian's story.

"Beralocs…there's many ways that one can be formed. They are creatures of magic, black magic. They usually form when someone has such a deep-seated hatred, such an unfathomable grudge against someone that that hatred takes form. It starts in dreams, which become crippling nightmares before you are consumed by it from the inside out, then the Beraloc finds another victim, it fosters hatred and anger and festers the thoughts of the victim until the victim surrenders its will to it and then he or she is consumed. Those are…free-ranging Beralocs. Now if a user of black magic creates one…that is really unpleasant as that Beraloc is controlled and directed. When a Beraloc is created by black magic and consumes a victim, its creator can order it to spawn off another Beraloc by a portion of the victim's life energy."

"How do you kill it?" Lucas asked.

"Many ways…elven crafted weapons, speaker weapons and abilities, certain magic spells. The best way is to kill its master and or think of the happiest memories you can possibly think of and cast them into light directly at it."

"So the whole town had been converted into Beralocs, save a few survivors. When the crime bosses ordered their guards to kill Gilthian, he laughed then he whispered the black speech of Zah Dah and the guards lost their shape, changing back to their Beraloc forms. Gilthian ordered the Beralocs to drag the bosses out to the city square.

"When they were all out he ordered all of the Beralocs to eat them alive…slowly…such a gruesome fate even for those criminals. When a Beraloc consumes you, you are usually dead or very close to it having lost your will and life force to it long before…but to be eaten alive and conscious by one….I would not wish it on anyone. He let the Beralocs feast on them and then in one command killed all of them…when the Beralocs lay dead he called out for me. He knew I was there. It took me five hours and a few bits of my sanity to kill him but kill him I did. I cut off his head and pierced his black heart. I burned the city and sent the few survivors to the village of Yaria…The first time I heard the name of Elinor Gilthian again was when you came to Gel'anr."

"Why was that child important?" Beck asked.

"Elinor Gilthian…it is an anagrammatism of Rolein Nilthag…Gilthian was that child. When I killed him I had not anticipated that I would gain access to some of his memories…he grew up on the streets, did whatever errand he could, be it thievery, blackmail, intimidation and eventually…he learned his father's name and where he lived. He went and found him, found him with his family and snapped…he murdered his father and his family and in that day whoever he was, whatever his name had been before died and Elinor Gilthian was born from his father's blood. He returned to Varia where he became an assassin working for the crime bosses. He had no morals, no hesitation, no mark he would not kill. The rest you know as much as I do. He was betrayed, the crime bosses thought him dead, he came back…he killed them all I killed him.

"I do not know what vile magic has brought him back but Elinor Gilthian nightmare of Varia is no longer "just" a human." Feldon concluded rubbing his hands in front of the fire.

"That is…sad…what if his father had not abandoned him? What if he had taken him with him…? His life would have been so much different…" Aer'andil said. It was the first time he had felt…pity for Gilthian.

"When did all of that happen? I do not know of a city named Varia?" Segaru asked.

"This all took place roughly three thousand years ago. The line of Malais did not even exist yet, not for roughly two and a half thousand years more." Feldon told him. Segaru snapped his mouth shut without speaking what he had had the mind to speak a second earlier.

"You said…you said you had hatred….why?" Aer'andil asked looking sad.

"I…might as well tell you, sooner or later you'll find out anyways, it is a wonder Norion hasn't told you already…Do you remember back in Gel'anr when your father told you of Udala?"

"Yes…the only Elven city not in an island? Where Zah Dah now stands?" Aer'andil said thinking what his father had told him.

"I was its King. It was the realm of the feline Elves…from small tabby cats to huge lions. When Udala fell, I managed to get as many of my people through the underground caverns away from Udala and the battle and eventually to Gel'anr. Your father gave me sanctuary and the cat elves spread amongst the islands. Your father has helped me more than any other Elf or human has before or since." Feldon said and removed a cracked thorn bush circlet from his backpack.

"You…you were a King? Woah...that…I mean…Norion is…was…would have been…I never knew…" Aer'andil mumbled with saucer wide eyes.

"Yes, he wanted you to love him, not pity him for his father's failure and yes if Udala was still standing he would be its Crown Prince...although things would be different and his name may not have been Norion Anorion."

"You didn't…" Aer'andil started saying but Feldon cut him off.

"Yes, I failed, Udala was my responsibility, my line had been its kings since we were elves and I lost it. It is my failure to settle."

"If the fall happened almost three and a half thousand years ago…Norion…I mean he's only forty, right?" Aer'andil enquired.

"Yes, my Queen was…lost to the enemy. Norion's mother and Norion above all else were the reasons I stopped being a hunter of darkness. I had love in my life and not enough hatred to be one. We should get some sleep." Feldon said and lay on his back. Aer'andil knew it would be pointless to try to learn more now Feldon had ended the conversation.

That night Micraal was not the only one plagued by nightmares.

"Submit to me, submit to me and Eri'Adar will fall, your country will rule the seas alone. Wealth beyond imagining will be yours."

"No. Empty promises from a shade, I will never submit to you."

"You will, I can offer you unlimited pleasures or unlimited pain, the choice is yours."

"Pain? I have passed the trials of three principles, there is no pain that you can inflict upon me that I cannot withstand, away with you fiend."

Pain shot throughout his body and mind but he made no sound, nor did he move in his sleep. Pain was nothing to him, or to anyone who had passed through the trials of the three principles.

Next day Merol awakened them before dawn's first light. "We must reach Padala's watch no later than nightfall so saddle up."

"Padala's watch?" Aer'andil asked rubbing his eyes.

"It is the closest human village to firefly forest. We need to get there and get some supplies before going in the forest. The north of Valana is not like the south, especially the west but the east we are at is similar. The north is wild and untamed even with the presence of humans. There are beasts of lore and magic up here that have gone extinct in the south and the vast planes and ragged terrain aids in their presence." Merol replied and mounted his horse.

The long ride without rest tired them all but Lucas Segaru and Merol seemed particularly so by the time they arrived at Padala's watch.

"I just need some fucking sleep. Can't we sleep in proper beds for the night and start for firefly forest tomorrow? I feel so damn tired." Lucas whined dismounting his horse.

"No, we have an hour or two of twilight, we'll take advantage of it, firefly forest is not to be travelled during night time so we need to move for an hour and set camp with more than one fire." Merol said in obvious irritation.

"I do not like sleeping in the dirt, I am not us…" Segaru started.

"The next person to whine I will punish harshly, shut up and go buy these supplies." Merol cut him off and handed him a hastily scribbled note. "Take Lucas with you. You two!" He pointed to the twins. "Visit the local tavern and get us some warm food for the road and see if you can't listen in on any…rumours from the loose mouths of the customers." He told them.

Lucas and Segaru left for the market mumbling under their breaths.

"Aye aye sir!" Beck said teasingly and off they all went.

"Micraal, you leave for the forest, you'll see a goat path leading to it from the village, follow it and scout ahead, find us some good, and a rather secure location to make camp then meet us where the two trees stand alone and the goat path ends." Merol told the boy who nodded and spurred his horse.

Aer'andil waited with Feldon and Merol by the horses as they tended, fed and brushed them.

"Feldon…how many creatures of darkness are there? I mean if I'm going to be High-King one day and be in charge of the Pelari ial riathnol I should know these things…I think."

"You should indeed but I do not know them all, I know a lot but not all, not even your father knows it all. To answer your question, how many creatures of darkness are there? How many vices, sins and reasons to hate be it elf or human are there?"

Aer'andil did not respond instantly, he thought it through for some time. "I don't know…I know some…"

"Good, then you know why no one knows all of the creatures of darkness. They are not natural. They are not born of a sexual interaction between a male and a female of a species. They are the manifestations of the darkness of the souls of mortals…and immortals. Greed, fear, terror, hatred, lust, ambition, forbidden love, jealousy, the desire to have more than someone else, to possess what you cannot, love, to protect someone's country, family, the list goes on infinitely and all that that can be a force for good can just as easily be corrupted and used for evil in the right circumstances. Admittedly your father knows more than everyone else as he has the combined knowledge and reports of hundreds of thousands of years if not more in the Chronicles of Darkness." Feldon told him while he tended to his horse.

"Chronicles of Darkness?" Aer'andil finished with his and sat on the barristers used to tie the reins of the horses on his legs dangling below.

"Tomes of knowledge on darkness, the creatures of darkness and the…nature of it gathered and written from times of antiquity by the High-Kings and Queens of the line of Glothoin…perhaps even before that. Not even I have seen or read them, they are only for the eyes of your line but they are ever incomplete from what your father once told me, constantly revised and added to as is natural. Your father considers them the second most important writing after the book of the pact."

"Where does that knowledge come from?"

"From life experiences of those that have written in them, from the Pelari ial riathnol and their experiences and reports, from the reports of spies and rangers, from sources I know not of…you'll have to ask the only one that knows and that is not me."

"One more thing I have to ask dad when I…we get home…" Aer'andil let out a sigh.

"Why keep all this a secret from the others? Wouldn't the knowledge on darkness increase?"

"Perhaps…but so would the fear of espionage and treachery. It is not for me to decide this, when I asked your father all those years ago during training he said no and explained his reasons to me. When you are High-King, you can decide otherwise should you wish to, and accept the consequences of your actions either way." Feldon told him and secured the saddle and reins, then the spear and bundles on the saddle.

"I guess you're right…" Aer'andil said meekly.

Feldon raised a brow. It was not like his protégé to be timid or meek. He looked at Merol, saw him clearly tired and irritated.

"Where are the others? We need to get going, I do not like Firefly forest or Gel Valir I want us out of these parts as soon as possible." Feldon asked Merol and mounted his horse.

"I do not know. What am I? Boy finder extraordinaire?" Merol snapped at him. Feldon said nothing. He looked to be calculating something.

Segaru and Lucas came first carrying leather and linen bags and bundles.

"Why do I have to carry stuff? I am the Crown Pr…" Segaru was whining.

"I DO NOT CARE! CARRY THE SHIT!" Lucas snapped. Aer'andil looked at Feldon whose face was emotionless. Aer'andil knew Feldon well enough by now to know that he was thinking something deeply when his face was like that.

"Ah, there are the twins as well." Feldon said. "Hurry up we need to get going." He told them.

Two hours later, they found Micraal on the spot Merol had told him. "Follow me I think I found the perfect spot to camp." He told them.

Aer'andil remembered Night's forest. It was nothing like this one. There it was mostly oaks and birch trees with large spaces between them. Here there were mostly pine trees with parts that had almost no space between them whatsoever. It made travelling through them on horseback a pain but Merol and Micraal seemed to know where to go to, to avoid those parts.

They made camp for the night. All around them, the forest was eerily silent. Merol surrounded them with bonfires.

"Isn't it too quiet? Where's the sounds of birds and insects and nocturnal animals?" Aer'andil asked straining his hearing.

"No, you won't hear anything in this forest, all of the living animals have long since learned that making sound here is tantamount to death and they have evolved based on that. That's why I'm lighting up fires around us. Do not want us being ambushed. The beasts here are….unpleasantly large and resourceful. Batorn's come of age ritual for males is to come and live here for a week…not all make it back…in one piece but it does teach them to cooperate with each other or die. Why do you think Batorn's pikemen and magic users have no equal amongst the kingdoms of men?" Merol said agitated.

"I'll keep first watch." Feldon said and picked up his longsword.

"Why not the spear?" Segaru asked.

"Confined spaces are not good for long pointy things. Short pointy things and maneuverability are better in tight spaces where one cannot swing freely." Feldon replied slowly.

"Beck, Drake what did you hear in the tavern?" Merol asked them.

"Something about a guy named Droholost and his Wyrms, whatever that is, having trouble in the countryside by something or someone yielding silver blades, someone else said that that may be the exiled prince of Eri'Adar? A couple other guys said that someone named Garinha had won but not won the civil war in Dara and was trying to consolidate her power now that the guy keeping the throne warm was either dead or in prison but there are riots in the streets daily and the army is not hers either. Something about her maybe hiring mercenaries with dark spiritum to keep the civilians and army at check while she consolidates her power." Beck and Drake completed each other's sentences as they spoke.

"THAT BITCH! How dare she bring dark spiritum users in MY city…I'll fucking kill her!" Merol exploded banging his fist on the forest floor.

"See the bright side of this, she may have the Stewart of the throne in prison but everyone is pretty much against her and we can exploit that." Feldon said calmly, his eyes scanning the forest left to right and from top to bottom.

"What if he's dead?" Lucas asked.

"No, she would not kill him, she wants him alive, wants him to break and tell the populous how she is the rightful heir to the throne. Otherwise, the people will eventually rebel against her openly and a crowd of hundreds of thousands, all of them Speakers, will overwhelm a bunch of dark spiritum mercenaries. Besides if she had killed him they would not be rumours she would have his head on a pike on the City's gates as an example to others."

"So? She still controls much of the…" Merol started saying but Feldon cut him off.

"No, she probably only has control of the Royal Palace, maybe one or two other key locations. We will march through the front door."

"We and who's army?" Lucas exasperated.

"Everything on its time Lucas, everything on its time, for now…sleep." Feldon said and turned his full attention to forest.

Aer'andil waited until everyone else was asleep and then sat next to Feldon. He knew not to talk so he took out a twig from the ground and started moving point on the soil.

"What wrong with humans?" He scribbled hastily.

Feldon held a thin twig and moved it on the ground.

"Firefly beast."

A few seconds later Aer'andil cleared the ground.

"Know what?"

"Yes. Be ready when I give signal."

"Which is?"

"You will know."

"Anything else stalking us?"



"Darkness and shadows. Sleep."

Aer'andil lay on the forest floor, thick with fallen leaves and fell into a troubled sleep.

It took them two days to reach Gel Valir, on the night of the second day they saw the ruins. The ancient citadel lay on top of a small hill surveying the forest. Its crumbling walls, parapets and towers dominated the environment. Their architecture resembled that of the Elves but it looked older, way older.

They entered the central courtyard and Feldon passed Aer'andil. Aer'andil froze on his tracks and for a split second, he grinned.

"Lucas…we uhm…haven't fooled around for a week…want to?" He asked his best friend.

Lucas stopped on his tracks and turned around to see his friend.

"Are you for fucking real? We are in the middle of a fucking evil forest and you want to suck and kiss?" Lucas almost yelled at him.

"Yeah, why not? Plenty of bushes around to conceal us. Come on, I am sooo horny!" Aer'andil said calmly, almost cheerfully.

"Get a fucking grip on yourself." Lucas spat at him.

Aer'andil's mood changed in the blink of an eye. "What the fuck is wrong with you?" He said looking like Lucas had killed his mother walking in front of Lucas cutting him off.

"Nothing, just leave me alone." Lucas told him and tried to walk past him.

Aer'andil pushed him back. "Fuck no! Tell me what the fuck is wrong with you!" He yelled at him.

"Calm the fuck down both of you before you bring the whole forest on us…" Merol hissed at them but Lucas had slipped over the edge.

"Want to know what's wrong with me?! YOU! The fucking prophecy, this fucking land full of death and danger…I want to go back to Earth, I want to grow old with my best friend, share my childhood with him, have families, hang out…I have had enough of all this!" He screamed shaking his hands around.

Aer'andil closed his eyes and opening them; he brought a hand to the quivers around his waist and grabbed his bow with the other. In a blink he had three arrows in his palm, one on the right side of the bow, string pulled back, aiming at Lucas' head.

End of chapter 10. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it and that you felt what I felt while writing it.

Send your comments, critique, feedback and correspondence to the email addy at the beginning. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it and that you felt what I felt while writing it.

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