Chapter Thirty One
Velmoura; in all its dark glory. Queen Ethera on the throne. Majestic and proud. The throne room big enough to house a dragon, which it did. A dragon rested behind Queen Ethera’s throne; its neck curled around the throne, its head resting at her feet. A man stood before her. He seemed to be explaining something to her as there seemed to be no threat on his life. The Queen listened intently, but her expression did not betray any thought she might have been thinking. In the end, she appeared to agree with the man before her. He was dismissed and escorted out of the throne room.
The Queen stood up from her throne, revealing that the dark wings that had seemed to be the framework of her throne, was in fact, her own wings. She solemnly paced the floor of the throne room; discussing the occurrence that had just passed with an elf who appeared to be her advisor.
The image dissolved into another; Queen Ethera standing on her balcony, addressing a huge crowd of Dark Elves below, several dragons stood among them. That man standing next to her. The crowd listened intently to their Queen’s every word. When she finished, they cheered. She smiled at the man.
The image faded as the Queen left the balcony. Somewhere near the castle, a hideout had been constructed; the entrance barely visible. The man was inside with several Dark Elves. What they were doing there wasn’t clear, but it seemed as though they were planning something.
Suddenly the image shifted to Queen Ethera’s chambers. Her throat had been slit; her blood soaking into the bed sheets. The man stood over her, with a blood drenched knife in his hand. Remnants of dark magic still floated around the room. He had murdered the Queen. This man was Sharzak.
The next image that appeared was in the stone ring. Scander was being chained down just beneath the surface of the earth. Sharzak had escaped, but his powers had been bound to Scander. The few Dark Elves who had betrayed their queen and sided with Sharzak were executed and their corpses were thrown in the tomb where Scander had been chained down.
‘We will have our revenge.’ Scander shouted.
’You will not escape this tomb. And when Crucis Salerra is reborn, you will die.’ a Dark Elf stated before the tomb was covered up.
The Dark Elf moved out of the stone ring as other Dark Elves erected the most powerful ward they could conjure around the tomb.
Keara woke up with a fright, breaking out in cold sweat and gasping for air. She had now seen her ancestor’s life shortly before her death. She now understood the past events. She took a moment to compose herself. She slowly started removing the arrows from her body and her wings. She sat against the boulder, with her eyes closed.
It had started raining again.
The Ravens were out in the field. They were training; harder than usual. They were not just training with weapons, but also with their elements.
Deryck was walking towards them, with his own weapons in hand. They saw him approaching and stopped their training.
‘I wanna train with you.’ Deryck said.
The Ravens just stared at him.
‘I wanna fight for this kingdom and the people in it. And...’ he continued after a moment’s hesitation, ‘I wanna fight for her.’
‘You know Keara wouldn’t want you to fight for her.’ Michael said.
‘Why wouldn’t she?’ Deryck asked.
‘She’s a Dark Elf, Deryck. Unfortunately, we do have our pride. We don’t want people to fight for us; we feel it’s disgraceful to our honour.’ Michael answered.
‘I don’t care.’ Deryck started, ‘I love her.’
The Ravens were all somewhat surprised even though it was not unexpected.
‘You love her?’ Michael asked after a moment.
‘With all my heart.’ Deryck answered.
Michael nodded his head, ‘You can train with us, but I’m warning you, we have no mercy. Not even on each other.’
Deryck just nodded.
Before long, they were training again.
They were training for several days, before Deryck could even begin to keep up. Even so, he still suffered. But he wasn’t willing to give up. He was fighting for Keara now.
One evening, Deryck had fallen asleep on Keara’s bed. He was completely exhausted after yet another day of training with the Ravens.
Michael stood in the doorway, realizing that Deryck really did love Keara, if he was willing to take such a beating for her. But Michael knew he would do the same if he and his wife were in the same situation. He walked away; entering the common room.
‘He’s really serious about Keara.’ Michael remarked.
‘That’s obvious.’ Alexander responded, ‘He’s taken quite a beating these last few days and he still hasn’t given up.’
‘He’s not gonna give up.’ Jonathan stated.
‘At least then he’ll stand a chance in battle.’ Joseph added.
‘That’s true.’ Jonathan replied.
After a couple of days, Keara had finally been able to remain conscious and was now walking around the forest, aimlessly wandering around. To one side, Keara saw a fire burning. She headed towards it and found a few people asleep around a campfire. She looked around and saw a black hooded cloak draped over a rock. She picked it up and draped it around her shoulders after folding her wings in. Stealing was not something she had wanted to do, but she the needed the warmth and the people around the campfire had more than enough warm clothes.
People were walking around in the small town, going about their usual business. It was raining again.
In one of the houses, a family was sitting around the fireplace. The father was telling stories to the children. One of the children asked about the Ravens; or more accurately, about Keara. The father was silent for a moment, then started telling the story about the Ravens, eventually getting to the part about Keara. The story about her was good, at first; but then the father started telling of how Keara had betrayed them, how she had become a part of the evil she had fought so hard against. He told of how she had attacked her brothers and assisted the Shadows in destroying most of the surrounding villages. Most people had lost their faith in her. Others believed that she would come back to protect them once again.
Outside, on the roof of this particular house, Keara was crouching; listening to the stories that were being told. She knew that she had caused so many problems for the people living around the kingdom. But she had never realized that what she had done had caused everyone to lose faith in the Ravens, though she could understand that they had lost faith in her.
Keara listened to the stories for a long while, but also making sure that no one saw her sitting on the roof of the house.
It was very late by the time Keara decided to leave the town. She pulled the hood of her cloak further over her eyes and disappeared into the forest.
The Ravens continued their training with Deryck. The training got more intense, but Deryck was getting stronger and found that he could keep up with them; most of the time.
Some days, Artemis rode out to the field to observe the training. He was surprised to see how strong his younger brother had become. Deryck was knocked down several times, but he kept getting back up.
They decided to take a break and sat down underneath one of the trees. Artemis sat down next to Deryck.
‘I’m impressed little brother.’
‘Thanks.’ Deryck said after having a drink of water.
‘How long have you been training with them?’
‘About three weeks.’
‘You actually survived the first week?’ Artemis was surprised.
‘Yeah. Why? Have you trained with them?’
‘No. But I’ve seen their training sessions.’
Deryck just smiled. He knew what Artemis meant. The past three weeks had been the toughest fighting sessions he had ever experienced.