Zarin Testa and the Andrake Academy
Copyright © 2016 by Jandar Tyr
All Rights Reserved
All Rights Reserved
The dining room of Andrake Academy was a great hall set with beautiful glassine walls to allow the day's light to penetrate. They were enchanted to keep them from letting blinding light, rain or any of the other elements in. It was equipped with many long tables for each class which sat together. This didn't mean the school was strictly separated. Friends and relatives could eat meals together. Once you reported in to your teacher, you were free to eat with whomever you wished. This day found the young Eventide's enjoying their breakfast under the warm morning sun. Adanar had escorted his sister Emrel to her seat then reported in and returned to her. As he sat down he called out his order for breakfast and it appeared before him on the table. A roasted fowl with savory spices, some fruit from trees sent from Eventide. Cheese of a rather tasty and fragrant type in slices and froca bread, an elven delicacy made for the elves in the academy. Adanar spread his napkin across his lap and started eating. After a few minutes he looked to his sisters and her still full plate.
"Not hungry this morning, Emrel?" The prince continued to eat with grace and poise.
"Adanar." She turned to him. "Somethings not right!"
He stopped eating and looked at her. "What do you mean? Look up, it's a beautiful day. What could be wrong?"
"I'm not sure." She said. Adanar looked at the worried look on her face. He knew to trust her feelings. Emrel had the gift of far sight. "I just feel danger. Somethings wrong."
Pushing his plate away he turned to his sister. Her eyes had that worried look she always had before something bad happened.
"Emrel." He said. "The last time you had this feeling, the Black Armor invaded Eventide and father, Zaoir and Shael were killed. Is it that bad of a feeling?"
"Yes." She looked him with a tear in her eyes. "I feel like there's danger right here in this room for us, or for me at least."
"What do you mean?" Adanar looked around the room. all he saw were his fellow students having breakfast. How could there be danger from any of them? "What do you want to do?"
"I want to go home." She began to cry. Adanar pulled his sister into his embrace and held her as she wept. "Then that's what we'll do."
He pulled her up from her seat and they started for the dining hall doors. Adanar planned to take her to their rooms and pack a few things and slip away without anyone noticing. In the stables were the horses their carriage had been hitched to. If he told the stable master they were going for a ride, he wouldn't ask any question. His only problem would be getting out of the city gates. Morganz would probably be there at his post and he would stop them. Well, that's a bridge they would have to cross when they get there.
Walking like he owned the world, Tabor made his way towards the doors to the dining hall. As he approached two elves exited bumping into him. Tabor pushed them aside. He recognized Adanar and Emrel Eventide and cursed at them to get out of his way. Adanar raised his hands ready to fight as his sister pulled him away. Tabor huffed and continued on into the hall. He was looking for Elan and Aron. He knew they would be here. He had checked their room and found it empty. Looking toward their usual table he found them talking in elven quietly. He strode up to the table pushing a younger boy out of his way and plumped down across from the two dark elves.
"Today we find the ring." He said. Nothing's going to stop us. My father's busy doing something to Insa so it'll be safe to dodge class and search."
Elan looked over at him with a very strange look. Tabor knew something was wrong with them. He frowned at his friends.
"We can't help you." Elan told him.
"Why not?" Tabors anger began to rise.
"My Mother sent a message today." Elan had a sour look. "There's something she wants us to do."
"What do you mean by us?"
"I mean Aron and I of course." He said. "You can stay and do your search without us."
"What the hell is going on?" Tabor asked them. This was turning into a bad day. He could see that. He needed both of them to help in his search.
"Elan's getting married." Aron told him. Tabor noticed Aron looked really upset. He wondered why.
"What?" He asked them. "Married? To who?"
Elan got up from his seat pulling Aron with him. "Follow us." He turned and walked out of the hall with Tabor and Aron following. In the outside corridor Elan opened the door to an empty class and waved them in shutting it behind them.
"My mother has decided she wants the Eventide kingdom." Elan pulled over a chair and sat down,
"So why do you have to marry?" Tabor asked. "I don't understand."
"If Elan marries into the Eventide line." Aron said in frustration. "His mother can force the king of the Eventide's to merge with the Darkshades with her as the head of both lines. It's an old law. Emrel Eventide has no father alive to dispute it. Her brother is the king in Eventide. Only her father can stop it. If we can get her to Darkshade and married, there's nothing they can do. It's a stupid ancient elven law!"
"Good law." Tabor smiled.
"STUPID LAW!" Both Elan and Aron screamed at him. "I don't want to marry her!"
"Then say no."
"I can't." Elan shouted. "Don't you see? I have to do as my mother orders! Just as you do what your father tells you."
"I don't always!" Tabors anger flared. "I do what I want!"
"Then help us!" Elan shouted at Tabor. "We always help you with whatever you ask. It's your turn now!"
"Fine!" Tabor threw up his hands. They were right. It may not always turn out how he wanted, but they did always help him. "Emrel Eventide huh? I just saw them leaving the dining hall. We better go find them and see if there's somewhere we can grab her. I hope you two have a way of getting her out of Winterhaven and back to Darkshade, cause I don't have a clue."
Bright stars flashed through his mind as pain ripped into his body. Trip rolled over and opened his eyes as Skang launched another kick at him. With a quick move, Rese reached for Trip and pulled him further away from the Orc attacker. Skang smiled showing his sharp animal like teeth as he stepped toward the two boys on the ground. It was time for some fun with their captives. Skang reached down to grab Trip for some more torture.
"Get away from them!" He heard from behind him. The Orc turned to see Gorak watching him from the cave entrance where they had camped. Skang hauled back his foot for another kick.
"Hurt him." Gorak said staring at Skang. "And we'll be eating you tonight."
Skang reached to his sword on his side as they stared at each other. If he attacked Gorak and killed him, then he would lead. But if Gorak could use his magic first, he would be dead. His chances weren't very good. Skang dropped his hand away from his blade.
Trip looked around the hastily built camp that the Orcs had set up the night before. He remembered the disgusting meal he and Rese had watched them devour. They had caught a bear out hunting for its dinner. Two Orcs bought it down with a club to the head and dragged it back to camp. In the light from the fire, Trip and Rese watched as they tore it apart. They didn't butcher it. They used their hands and ripped it apart while it still lived laughing like it was nothing. Trip pulled Rese close to him and hid his face to keep him from seeing them eat the poor animal. Trip wanted so bad to blast them to death with his magic. But the collars made that impossible. For food, they tossed chunks of meat at them. Small bits which Trip skewered and roasted in the fire for Rese and himself. It wasn't much, but they had no choice but to eat it. The night's march had been long and hard. They were both hungry and thirsty and all the Orcs gave them was a half empty water skin and the bits of bear meat. Gorak walked over to his captives and looked down on them.
"I know you both have powerful magic." He said. "So someone must be missing you."
"You'll find out when they find us." Trip scowled at the Orcs. "I'm sure they're following us. It won't be long before they catch up."
"I'm not worried." Gorak laughed. "We have a good head start on any pursuer."
"On foot maybe. But not in the air." Trip stood up and dusted himself off. He reached down to help Rese to his feet then turned back to Gorak. Gorak stared at the boys.
"You don't fear me do you?"
"Should I?" Trip folded his arms in front of him.
"Look at them." The Orc turned and pointed to the other three Orcs watching them."You know what they want don't you?"
"You won't let them hurt us." Behind him, Rese looked afraid. He wondered why Trip was being so bold in front of the Orcs. Wasn't he as scared as he was? He didn't seem so. Rese listened to trip defend them.
"Why won't I?"
"You think you got away clean, but you didn't." Trip said. "Even though your blocking my magic, I know they are coming for me. My friends and my guardian. And they will find us."
"Then I should just get rid of you now and make haste away from here." Gorak sneered.
"But you aren't stupid like them." Trip nodded to the others. "You know what will happen if they catch you and we're not with you. And believe me, they'll know if we die. They'll know the second either of our lives end. Then no matter where you go, all of you. They will never rest until your head is mounted on the walls of Winterhaven. My guardian will see to that."
Gorak knew the boy was right. That was why he hadn't allowed Skang or any of the others to hurt them. But what he really needed to know was who these boys' guardian was, and only they had that answer.
"Then who is it I should fear?" Gorak asked.
"Smoke, fire, fear, earth." Trip shrugged. "All of it. They'll all come to find us. And with magic you won't have a chance against. So do whatever you want. It's your life to throw away."
The scowl on Gorak's face was frightening. Rese held on to Trip from behind. He was afraid of what the Orc might do next. Gorak took his hand and swung at Trip, striking him in the face knocking him back into Rese. But he didn't fall. he looked into Gorak's face and laughed.
"Tie them secure." He shouted to Skang. "We are leaving now!"
"I hope your right." Rese whispered to him holding out his hands to be tied.
"They are coming." Trip said wiping his mouth. "They're coming."
Morning rose and Zarin and the others left the villa with Zark and Reno in the lead. They knew the Orcs had a great head start on them and they would have to move fast. Craven had packed all the supplies he had kept in the villa. They would need them, there was no telling how long they would be gone. Zarin had tried all morning to contact Insa. But he had no luck. He could feel him, he almost felt that he was right there with them. But he couldn't make contact. Reno and Thalia worried about their friend Trip. They both know he wasn't the kind to take being a hostage well. That was something Craven learned while he held him. Even in a cell where his magic was denied to him, Trip had been defiant. Craven thanked his ancestors the spell on him had been broken. He didn't want to even think about what he might have done next. And that poor gypsy boy he had taken. What about him? What had Craven gotten him into. The boy might be safe in Winterhaven had he not taken him. He had learned of his family's demise and now Craven felt responsible for him.
[ You are responsible. ] Micah whispered in his mind. [ But remember, he was running lost in the forest. You actually saved him from the dangers out here. ]
[ And exposed him to the Orcs. ] Craven thought sadly. [ Not to mention how I scared him when I captured him. ]
[ Save them and make up for that. He'll forgive... ] Suddenly the spirit in his minds voice dropped off. Craven stopped and called out to him but there was no answer. Coming up behind him Zarin stopped. He saw the look on Cravens face and knew something was wrong.
"Craven, what's wrong?" Craven turned to look at him with fear in his eyes.
"Who's gone?" Zarin wondered what he was talking about.
"My Grandfather." Craven said with a weird look on his face. "I can't feel him in my mind anymore for the first time in my life!"
"Craven." Zarin put his hand on his shoulder. "Relax. I don't feel any strange spells on you or around us. It must be by choice that he's not with you right now."
"Well if he left me by choice then somethings defiantly wrong. He's my spirit guide."
"You're right." Zarin thought about what he knew of spirit guides. Usually they were bound to whoever they guided. But he also knew they were free spirits that helped someone they cared about and were free to leave if they wanted. But it would take something very important to make them leave. Zarin wondered what was next.
"Come on," He said. "He's got a connection to you. You're his anchor. He'll find us when he's ready."
Craven nodded still worried and together they ran to catch up with the others a little ahead. As Zarin and Craven caught the others, Reno held up his hand.
"What is it now?" He asked.
"Reno lost the scent." Thalia told him. "He can't find which way they went."
"That's not good." Dack said. "What now?"
"Now Zark takes over." Craven walked over to the Orc. "Am I right? You can track them for us?'
"I can find them." The Orc said nodding his head. "But if I do, you will keep your promise?"
"You have my word." Craven reached out his hand. Zark looked at him the hand outstretched to him. Looking into Cravens eyes, he gripped his forearm. Reno looked at Craven wide eyed. He'd never trusted an Orc before. But he knew he had no choice this time. He prayed they weren't making a mistake.
"We go this way." Zark pointed to the east. "They are less than a day ahead. We should hurry."
As they started moving quickly behind Zark, Reno caught up with Craven.
"What was that promise you made?" He asked
"Too free him and let him go on his way."
"If he finds Trip." Reno said. "He'll have my friendship as well.
"Mine too." Craven said running along with Reno. "Mine too."
Micah Tasco felt something strange in the magic of Winterhaven. Something was different and it was coming from behind the group. He could feel it was something that connected everyone in the group together. Something familiar that he should recognize. He could feel it coming closer and closer until it was right there with them. He reached out with the power he had as Craven's guide and tried to identify it. Whatever it was he found it hovered around Zarin. What could this be? Micah sent his senses out to touch the magic and in an instant it streaked away. But in that instant he also recognized exactly what it was. It was the dragon spirit of Insa the smoke dragon and somehow he was out of his body. This was strange of the dragon because as far as he knew, that wasn't one of Insa's abilities. This meant the dragon was in trouble. Micah had known of dragons in his lifetime. He had many dealings with dragon clans in that time. As protectors, he had aided them a few times and knew of their dreaming abilities. A dragon can dream himself out of his body for short periods of time, but he never went too far from his body for fear of not being able to get back to it. Only a king could have the ability for long term out of body travel. And Rage was king of all dragons now. Insa must be in trouble. Micah knew he had to help. But that would mean leaving Craven with no idea if he would be able to return. All he could do was hope his grandsons love was strong enough to allow him to return to him. With a mighty effort he separated himself and was off following the smoke dragons mental trail. As he flew, Micah thought about what he knew of Insa and where he might be going. He guessed his distress must be caused by the absence of his wards Reno, Thalia and of course Trip. Since he had been hovering over Zarin, Insa had to be out to find Trip. Micah streaked on through the day skies towards the cliffs that over looked Winterhaven. The Orcs must be somewhere up there climbing to the top. That wasn't a very smart direction for them to go. It would bring them to close to the dragon city of New Keanna. Maybe that was Insa's actual destination. He must be looking for help from the others of his clan.
As he grew closer to the cliffs, he saw the Orc party moving up a trail in the side of the cliff with Trip and another boy. He could feel Insa's presence as he grew closer to them. He had found his captured ward. Micah listened as Insa promised and assured Trip that his friends were close and they would be with him soon. As he listened, Micah felt a power coming from further up the trail. He followed it forward and found the source. A very powerful Orc mage leading the party. Micah moved closer and studied him. He felt his strength emanating from him. For the first time in ages, Micah felt fear. Not for himself, but for his grandson and the others coming to the rescue. There was no way any of them had the power to defeat him. Micah knew only he or Insa had the spells that could help them. He had to do something fast.
[ Insa! ] He sent out.
[ Who calls? ] The dragon answered.
[ I am Micah Tasco, ancestor and guide to your student Craven Tasco. ] He said. [ We need to speak. ]
[ I have been wondering when you would finally make yourself known to me. ] The dragon sent. [ I have known of your presence since the day I interviewed Craven for entrance to the academy. How can I help you? ]
[ It's how I can help you and the others. ] Micah told him. [ None of them have the power to stand against that Orc mage. ]
[ On the contrary. Craven and Zarin both have the power. ] Insa corrected him. [ I think. ]
[ But not the knowledge of spells they need. ] Micah interrupted him. [ Neither can hold out very long against the Orc. ]
[ That's why I'm trying to hurry to New Keanna for help. ] Insa began to become impatient. He needed to hurry before the magical battle began.
[ You're out of body. ] Micah said. [ Can't you join for a moment with Zarin and use your magical knowledge to save them? ]
[ I could. ] He answered him. [ But it would be a permanent bonding. I can't ask that of my student. And I have my own body. It's old, but it is mine. ]
[ They need help. ] Micah insisted. [ Right away. ]
[ That's way I'm in a hurry! ] Insa sent back. Then he thought about Craven and his connection to his grandfather. [ But you can! ]
[ What do you mean? ] Micah asked.
[ You and Craven, ] Insa told him. [ I know you and how powerful you were. You have the knowledge to fight this battle. You and Craven. If you can get back to them, you can hold him until I can get the dragons here. It's their only hope. Micah Tasco, please help my children, your grandson. Please! ]
Micah knew Insa was right. He could defeat this Orc mage as long as he and Craven worked together. But he had to move fast and pray he hadn't lost his connection with his grandson.
[ I swear on my spirit I will protect them. ] He said. [ But you have to hurry. I know you can't be away from your body much longer. Go, Hurry!! ]
[ Thank you my friend. I will send help. ] As Insa's spirit streaked away, Micah heard. [ All luck to you!! ]
Sitting on her dark horse outside of the tree city of Eventide, Talsara Darkshade pondered her next move. She knew she had to keep the Eventide's distracted so Elan and Aron could capture Elan's young bride. She thought her royal visit just might do the trick. Talsara had brought with her something she had made especially for this trip. A gift she planned to present to Dasyra, Queen mother of the Eventide's. A magic brooch that would block out any calls the princess might make to alert her family of her predicament.
"This should be easy." She said to herself as she kicked her horse into motion. She looked up at the towering trees that housed the city in the deep forest How beautiful it was, and soon it would be all hers. She laughed as she rode up to the entryway into the magical elven grove. She turned to an aide at her side.
"Go announce my presences."
"Yes Sire." The dark elf saluted and rode on into the grove. There he took a horn from his belt and blew a silent note that only elves could hear. It didn't take long for an answer to be sounded and an emissary from the city to come out and greet them. Dressed in deep shades of green a tall elf emerged from the hollow of a great tree followed by a few others of the Eventide royal staff. He bowed and walked towards Talsara's retinue where they bowed again before her still keeping their eyes down.
"We welcome you and yours to our lands majesty." He said. "My name is Eolis and I am here to escort you into the presence of my king and queen. As you know only one of your men at arms is allowed in to the royal house of Eventide. The rest of your entourage will be housed in our royal guest quarters. Is that acceptable to your greatness?"
"We have traveled far." Talsara said as she climbed down from her horse. "We accept your gracious hospitality and welcome it."
She turned to her aid and handed him the reins to her horse, then walked to her saddle bags and took several items out. These were gifts she had planned to present to the king and his princess wife. And something special for the queen mother. With her face showing no emotion, Talsara handed her wrapped packages to the emissary as he waved her toward the tree entrance.
"This way Majesty."
High in the trees, Ryel watched as Eolis escorted the dark queen into the cities entrance. He knew she was heading to see Evindal and his mother. That worried him. What the hell did she want here? Something bad was about to happen Ryel thought. Hoped mother knew why she was here.
Running from the rail, Ryel quickly made his way from the private tree airway into the royal palace. The palace was made up of a large number of the largest trees in the center of Eventide. Each tree could hold at least five great rooms and could have several levels. Kitchens, dining rooms, grand halls and the royal family's private suites, all attached by tree air route connections. Ryel quickly made his way to his mother's suite and knocked.
"Come in Ryel." She called.
Ryel touched the middle of the door that was attuned only to the royal family and it swung open. Dasyra sat at her dressing table as her hand maiden finished setting her hair. She turned to her son and smiled.
"Ry, what's bothering you?" she asked. "You look so upset."
"Mother." He said. "You know who has just arrived. What is Talsara doing here?"
Standing up in a deep shimmering gown. Dasyra took two rings a several bracelets from her jewelry case and put them on. The hand maiden wrapped a silk caftan around her and she was ready to meet her guest.
"Son, you know the dark elves." She walked over to her son. "She wants something from us. Don't ask me what it is. But I know it's something we won't want to give her. The last time your father and I had to deal with her, she wanted our lands. She probably still wants the Eventide forest."
"What do we do?" The young elf asked as he and his mother turned to leave her rooms.
"We watch her." The queen mother said. "We never leave her unattended while she's in our forest. I want you to have all the house pixies watching her no matter where she goes."
"What about her quarters?"
"Our pixies are always around in every room of the palace." She said. "She won't even acknowledge them. Dark elves think pixies and fairies are beneath them. Tell them to try and stay concealed but to keep a watch and to report to you or me quietly."
"Do we tell Evindel?"
"I'll let him know." As they approached the airway. Dasyra put her hand on Ryel's shoulder.
"Be careful." She kissed his cheek. "Talsara is very devious and powerful. Stay away from her. Promise me."
"I promise." Ryel smiled.
"Tell the majordomo we will see Talsara in the throne room in ten minutes." She said. "Now get going."
Ryel nodded and stepped into the airway then looked back to see his mothers smile. With a wave, he spoke his destination and was off. Standing at the airway to the throne room, Dasyra thought for a moment. She wished Jake and Seven were there. She knew the dragons would be more intimidating to the dark elf. Maybe enough to scare her away. But she knew it wouldn't be for long. Whatever she wanted, she would come back again and again until she got it. Well it was time to greet her. She pulled her caftan closer and stepped into the airway and rode it on to the throne room. This day wasn't having a very good beginning.
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