This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
The rain came down hard and fast, a wind rustled threateningly through the treetops; and the air itself was bitterly cold, a mist curled gently up from the ground.
The forest held a dark and eerie sense about it, as the darkness would temporarily be lifted by the pale silver of the moonlight, as it broke through the cloud overhead, just for a moment then it would slide behind another cloud, the darkness of night enveloping the forest once more.
From the edge of the forest the land broke into a plain, a dirt track cut its way through the centre and curved toward a lake, moonlight reflecting upon its icy surface, silvery crested waves could be seen breaking against the shores.
Over the centre of the lake ran a wooden bridge, which arched gently over the surface and led to the opposite bank before the land was once more swallowed by the darkness of the surrounding forest. The waves crashed against the bridge angrily, splashing up over the planks that formed the bridge and draining back into the cold black of the lake.
This is the place known as Elvera. Set between your reality and those in-between, Elvera is part of the realm known as the Everlands, the three biggest lands within the Everlands are Elvera, where the castle and Queen reside, Dentarius a land of mages and healers and Falorne a dark place where very few ever even tread, at least who have any sense, The Everlands is that world in which every desire of your imagination is perhaps alive in one form or another.
Another fork of lightning split the skies above a dark shadowed figure could be seen emerging from the forest, a tall form, which moved silently yet swiftly towards the castle, the figure seemed in no rush to avoid the heavy rain as it fell, yet the figure moved quickly enough to make headway with relative ease, a cloak billowed around the figure with each step.
The figure paused a moment as it had reached the lakes shoreline, the cloaks movement flowing gently toward the figures ankles, stirred only by the winds. The figure turned its head to take a glance back in the direction it had come before drawing its cloak up around itself and with a renewed determination continued towards the castle.
As the figure neared the castle entrance the torches in the archways flickered to life, an amber light falling upon the figure finally showing his tall male form, his long dark hair, soaked and matted to his head and face from the onslaught of rain he had endured, water ran freely from the tips of his hair and down along his cloak, his face was well-defined, yet somehow he appeared to be no more than the age of twenty or so, his eyes would tell many a tale of a proud warrior, he seemed so young to have experienced such things. His eyes glowed with a vibrant shade of emerald-green. Under his cloak was a silver crossbow; this would only become visible as the light from the torches reflected from its well-crafted form. Upon his back a long sword the hilt encrusted with jewels of brilliant colours, each seeming to dance in their own light.
Slowly and with a great effort he pushed upon the huge oaken doors, on the first attempt they didn’t move just creaked from the pressure, he sighed gently before placing his palms flat, one palm to each door, then with one forced motion he pushed firmly and they began to creak open, as they opened fully revealing the courtyard beyond, they clattered hard to a halt, the sound echoing from the high stone walls on either side. Intense amber light now bathed him as the light of a bustling town spilt out through the open doors.
He entered taking a long slow look across the town that now befell him, two guards had already begun to close the doors behind him. The town beyond seemed primitive and yet looked to have a magic all of its own, if you were to place a word to describe the town here it would be medieval, from the merchant carts that formed a market, each cart a different array of fabrics, or vegetables, townsfolk would engage in banter before each transaction would finalise, the currency of course were gold or silver coins. As he walked through the town he made his way past the blacksmiths, an older man with a fiery red beard was cursing out his young apprentice, this seemingly drew a smile from the newcomer.
“Is it really him?”
These where the whispers that echoed through the village now, each passer-by seemingly asking the same questions, the market a bustling hub of trade and conversation, though all conversation was now turning to the newcomer making his way through the cobbled streets, children would run across his path looking up in wonder before hurrying off to find their parents.
The market it seemed had come to life in a new way all focused on the man as he now headed away and up toward the castle.
Upon arriving at the castle he made one short motion and this time was able to throw open the doors with ease, the crash echoed down the hallway as the doors slammed to an abrupt halt against the old stone walls, he stepped into the stone of the hallway, his footsteps echoing through the hall, pillars ran from an upper balcony to the floor and were spaced every ten or so feet apart.
At the far end the hallway broke into a large circular room, through the centre ran a long wooden table, seats ran along either side and at the head stood a large oak chair bigger than the rest. Down the centre of the table were candle holders of an intricate design, to the right was a large fire-place which glowed with dulled coals, surrounding it in a makeshift arch were chairs and couches made of what appeared to be leather. He stood motionless, creating a pool of water upon the grey marble floor as the water ran from him. Finally he took a step forward as he moved further into the hallway, his footsteps continuing to echo off the walls. The relative silence was suddenly and abruptly cut short as a female voice, loud and full of excitement and joy cried out.
He turned in time to see a young female enter between two pillars and move hurriedly towards him; she had auburn hair, fashioned in long flowing curls, bouncing about her shoulders as she moved, each step bringing her closer to him. The young woman wore a black satin dress; She easily portrayed a young girl happy to see a friend return home, and yet her actions seemed to imply much deeper feelings toward him.
As she arrived before him, she paused just for a moment before wrapping her arms around him tightly, jumping up, her legs wrapping tightly around his waist in that moment she held him tight, her head rested against his face and shoulder, gently he wrapped his arms around her waist allowing him to hold her weight for that moment, the two of them remained in an intimate hug, finally he shifted and untangled her arms and legs from around him, looking softly into her eyes, he could see the tears that threatened to fall, a wave of emotion held barely back behind her grey eyes, his smile was gentle yet somehow firm, as her feet touched back upon the ground. Her entire face seemed to be full of emotion, a deep knowing as she stood and simply stared up at his face; finally she stepped back and rocked upon her heels a moment her gaze not breaking from his eyes.
“What’s wrong with everyone?” He asked
“We thought you were …” She paused as if about to say something, though the remainder of her sentence was all too clear to those who would have been listening.
“Dead?” He chuckled in a dry tone
“The messenger, he was quite sincere in his belief Kane” She bit back softly
He laughed softly before answering her “Ascondia I was forced to fake my death, I was cornered by Molvar in the forest several moons ago, I suppose its lucky for me his aim is beyond terrible, so I just had to make it look good with a fireball or two, unfortunately my confidence would get the better of me and as my luck would have it, I let fly just a little too close to myself, left me laying in a bad way, after he’d left I made my way to a village on the eastern outskirts of the forest, they cared for me there until I was well enough to return home, I had hoped that no one else saw me in such a mess, didn’t anticipate they would have, to be honest I thought we were alone in that forest. But then we can’t have everything our own way now can we” Replied Kane an air of playfulness in his voice
“Indeed!” Growled Ascondia “Do you have any idea as to what I’ve been through Kane?! Do know how difficult it was announcing your death to the people of the town?”
Kane paused and looked down at her, she stepped toward him just as she did so he stepped back and out of her reach and then headed up the corridor breaking off between the pillars and heading up the stone steps that led into one of the towers.
Ascondia looked after him her eyes full of joy, pain and a gentle air of confusion; she moved her hair from her eyes and let it fall gently upon her shoulders.
“I hate it when he avoids my questions like that, still there goes one of the most loyal men anyone could ever hope to know,” she said to no one but herself “if only any of us could understand his true path”
The door clattered shut behind Kane, he had entered his chambers, along the wall to his left was a banner upon which was a coat of arms, a long golden dragon spiralled around a silver sword, by this dragon stood a dark figure, a winged demon of sorts. The weird thing one could say about the imagery was the fact that these images seemed to move and dance in and out of the light. Kane’s eyes scanned the room, directly opposite the door was a large stained glass window, In the centre of the room a large black four poster bed, the frame of intricate metal works the curtains a deep black velvet, the duvet a black satin which shimmered softly as the moonlight fell upon it through the window. Nothing had been moved, and he’d been away for quite some time, in the area of months he thought, truth be told time had been a blur with his injuries he had suffered greatly.
Slowly he reached up and over his shoulder then with a slow gentle upward movement drew his blade, which was long, thin and well crafted, as he gently lowered the blade so the tip was held a mere inch from the ground. He walked across the room to a glass case by the bed, and then he laid the blade in the case upon the blood red velvet cushion and closed the glass lid. Slowly he removed his long cloak and placed it on the post at the foot of the bed. Under his cloak he wore a tight sleeveless leather vest and tight leather pants. He unclipped his bow from his hip tossing it down into a large trunk at the foot of his bed; several daggers that rested along his hip quickly followed.
After a moment of pause he finally lay down upon the bed and placed his arms behind his head lying back on the satin pillows, closing his eyes as his mind became free of the worries and troubles it had carried beforehand as he slipped into a light but deserved sleep.
The night had remained cool the lightening forks outside would temporarily light up the darker room, before plunging it back into near darkness, Kane remained asleep not stirring to the night and events outside. Once more the room was silent and dark.
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