The night was not like many others in this region of Dracos. The mountains left little to the imagination. The cold kept most people indoors during the latter times of the night and the lack of light kept the general public indoors for fear of thieves and brigands. The darkened hillside was not much different from others in the region. It was cold and dark, and yet there was a difference that many would remember for the rest of their lives.
Along the paths and trails, all appeared normal and quite mundane. But once you ventured deep into the trees and finally reached the clearing usually reserved for the highest of the Druids, you found what would make this hill different. The clearing was covered with the bodies of the dead and dying. Only two people moved among the carnage on that field; a woman warrior, a Tyris, and a small, poorly built and dressed bard, a poet and writer among the druid clans, as most bards were.
The Tyris did not see the bard, nor did she care to. She had her head bent close to the ground looking for someone or something amongst the dead and dying. Of what she searched for the bard could not tell. As the woman walked her torn mytan, a form of armor made specifically for the Tyris, waved in the reflected light of the full moon exposing quite a considerable amount of bosom, even for the rather flagrant nature of the Tyris warriors. The Mytan is a combination of a leather overcoat sewn over top of a steel plate. Her simple leather boots and torn leggings gave her the appearance of a lost soul looking for rest after a foul deed. Lost and wounded looking for the rest it knew it deserved. The woman was not wounded however, the blood staining her hands and her clothes was not her own, but lost and confused she was.
The Tyris searched a long time amongst the corpses of the demons, men, and beasts that littered that field. It was with great sadness that she found the object of her search. At first the bard could not see what it was she stared upon. Was it a man, beast, weapon, or one of a million other countless things that littered that field? As the bard neared, he saw what it was and saw as well who the Tyris was. The woman was Athinina, wife of the greatest legend of the bard’s time. It was her husband that she stared down upon. He lay amid a circle of the men called the Hands of the Phoenix. How she had hated those men in life. Their rude comments and even ruder manners made living with them around almost unbearable. In the sleep of death though she knew she would miss the comments and the mannerisms of these men. In the heart of them, lying motionless was her husband, the Phoenix of legend, Tanis Thalin. At his feet lay the corpse of the largest of the Greater Demons, Potiutios. It had cost her husband his life to rid the world of it evil, and now its demise held little of the satisfaction that she would normally have felt right at that moment looking down at its corpse. She looked down at the body of her lover and removed the bloodstained sword from his right hand. It bore an inscription in a harsh hand down the flat of the blade, Warmonger. It brought fear to those whom that blade was raised against. It had never been beaten and only one hand could grasp that hilt safely. Quite common in appearance, yet so heavily endowed with magic that all those who sought to own that blade died by it. That is until her lover bore it. As she lifted the blade from his right hand, the edge crossed the bare flesh of her left arm cutting, but not deeply. The curse still lived in that blade. No hand but his. She quickly sheathed the blade throwing her own blade down to the now red stained earth. No hand would ever draw that cursed blade again.
In his left hand, the legend bore the Holy Avenger. It was called by most who knew Thalin as the Demon Slayer and it had lived up to its name. As abnormal as the Warmonger was normal in appearance, the Holy Avenger held little joy for the young woman. Its snake curved blade etched with a six pointed star, a crossed piece of wood, and a sacred oak tree, the sacred symbol of the druids, had its name etched down the center in a hand that could have returned to copying bibles as soon as it had finished those two words. She held the blade in one hand as she closed the staring eyes of her husband. A tear formed in her saddened eyes as she stepped back from the shell that once held the man she loved.
“My husband, it is I, Athinina. Please get up. I have collected your blades and we are ready to begin a new life in this beautiful world of yours.” It was more plea than a statement. The greatest Tyris stood there over her fallen love and continued to beg. “Please get up and join me in this great victory.” Then she whispered, barely audible to the young bard who had come to stand behind her, “what will I do without you?”
At that last statement the woman turned and burst into tears. The bard placed his hands on her shoulders and she embraced the young man. He tried in vain to pull her from the scene as she continued to call out to her husband. Through her tears she looked at last at the man who held her and told him in a voice that could have frozen the lakes of half the world, “Write well of this day and my husband, Bard. For the greatest of all men lies dead on that field.” It was with that the two of them walked from the field, one for greater glory the other to walk into oblivion.
The verse that follows tells the tale of that love lorn couple and how it was that a man named Tanis Thalin would rule a world filled with magic and wonder. A world he would never see. It is a tale that I witnessed personally, for that poor bard on that unholy field was I. I saw the events that lead up to that day. I was there at his birth and was present after the final blows of the battle fell. I alone can now tell his tale.
Read on my friends for I am Artitous, bard to the Great Phoenix, and I now will relate the tale of his life to you. It does this old man’s soul well to finally release this burden and share the secrets I have held all these many years.