Chapter 20: Prophecy
It seemed that hours passed before finally she heard a scratching sound at the door. It swung open, creaking unpleasantly from lack of oil. A dark, hooded figure appeared, and it said in a gravelly voice, “Come.”
She got up hesitantly and walked quietly over to the figure. It gestured her through the door. She passed through and it slammed the door shut behind her with a loud clang. Even in the brighter lit corridor she could not make out any facial features in the hood, and it kept its hands inside the slate cloak it was wearing. It turned and walked down the corridor, so she followed him. The figure made no sounds with its movement, save the rustling of the cloak as it brushed along the stone floor.
Her steps were unsteady as she followed; she felt fear. She also felt worry; she worried for Draden. She wanted to know if he was okay. She wanted to know if she would ever see him again.
Draden awoke to a dimly lit room. The walls were painted a dark red, the color of which reminded him of blood and made him feel uneasy. There was a door across from him, closed and appeared to be locked. He was sitting in a hard wooden chair, certainly not made for comfort. ′Well, good job Draden. Look what you got yourself into this time.′
He let out a long, exasperated sigh. He was, of course, tied down to his chair by thick coiling ropes. ′I’ll just burn through the ropes with magic again!′ He was not gagged, but he didn’t want to draw attention to himself by making noise. ’Grangnir,’ he thought, concentrating his mind on the ropes.
Just as he felt the heat building inside of him and begin to solidify, he felt an extremely painful shock strike him in the back. He gasped, the force of the shock knocking the breath out of him. The blow knocked him over, slamming him hard onto his left shoulder.
‘Those two men I had found must have somehow guarded the ropes with magic!’ He let out another sigh, and just laid there, helpless. The door in front of him flew open, and the two men walked in, side by side. They were of drastically different heights; one was extremely tall, the other comically short. They both were dressed in vibrant yellow cloaks. Both had bright auburn hair and ample beards.
The taller of the two spoke first in a deep voice, tilting his head as he eyed Draden on the floor: “It seems you are awake, and have managed to get yourself into quite the predicament already.” The shorter one laughed in agreement, a high pitched laugh that caused Draden to cringe.
Draden glared back at them, not bothering to reply.
The short one spoke this time: “We were chosen specifically by King Doldran himself to search the furthest reaches of your mind for anything of interest to him.” While he spoke, the tall one walked over to Draden and picked him up, placing him and the chair upright. The man was standing behind him, and Draden felt him place his fingers on the sides of his temples. The man spoke words of magic that Draden hadn’t heard before: “Anoth Honetir Kliktran.” A green glow came from between the magician’s fingers, and Draden’s vision became obscured with a viridian mist. He felt as if he had gone blind.
The tall one spoke after a few moments, “Hmm, this is very interesting! You seem to be far stronger in magic than even the king could have guessed! And what’s this? The girl...King Doldran will want to hear of this immediately!”
Draden’s eyes widened. “What about Loran?!” he exclaimed before he could stop himself.
The tall man responded: “You don’t need to concern yourself with that right now. Although, I must admit, I’m surprised you haven’t figured it out for yourself already. Ah, well. We are done here!”
The short man pulled out a wand from is cloak and waved it at Draden. The ropes binding him fell limply to the ground. “You are free to go. See, that wasn’t so bad, was it? You needn’t have resisted us at all!”
The tall man laughed, and they exited the room side by side.
Draden followed, calling after them, “How do I get back to my room?!” But, they had already disappeared down one of the many corridors.
He decided to follow the corridor left from the room he had been held in, and he turned the corner to encounter a small group of soldiers speaking quietly to each other. At sight of Draden they became silent, and the one closest to him placed his fist against his chest in a salute. “Welcome to the King’s Guard,” he said, not unkindly. Draden, taken aback, stammered, “Th-thank you!” ‘They already know me by sight?!’ Draden hurried past them, turning the corner and entering a large room.
There was a long oak dining table with dozens of beautifully carved wooden chairs seated around it. A large golden chandelier sparkled above and a large fireplace, unlit, was at the back of the room. There was a second door exiting from the room, so Draden walked over to it and found a set of stairs going down.
The stairs deposited him onto another long corridor. This corridor had small windows placed in the walls, through which Draden could see the city below and the glint of water from Arema Lake behind that. The sun was already far in the sky. ‘I must have been unconscious for a good part of the day.’ With this thought, Draden committed himself to doing nothing but finding a way back to his friends and out of this horrible castle.
The hooded figure walked up yet another flight of stairs. It seemed this whole place was made of stairs, whether going up or down. They reached the top, Loran was breathing hard through her mouth. “Where…are we…going?” she asked, out of breath.
“Do not ask, just follow,” was the only answer she received. As they reached the top of another flight of stairs, the hooded figure said, “We are here.” It opened the door to reveal an enormous room, full of shelves and shelves of books. It was a library. The figure walked to the left, towards a set of shelves marked ‘history’. She followed.
The figure removed a rather large book from high up on one of the shelves. The book had brown binding and the pages were worn, but not damaged. It walked over to a table and sat down in a chair, opening the book to about halfway. She followed, sitting down in the chair next to him. This was not at all what she had expected when she had been dragged out of the room with Draden.
The figure began to speak, “I assume you are wondering why I brought you here. As Draden’s assistant, you are to be knowledgeable about all things, beginning with the history of the land.” The figure pointed to a passage in the book and read aloud, “About two thousand years ago, the elves were the only beings in Zersevbein. All thought as one mind, never thinking on their own, always as a union. Children for the elves were rare and considered the most perfect gift imaginable.
“Their nation was great, thriving more than ever before, when one elf decided to go against all that his race stood for. His name was Veldrin, and he was in love with the elven king’s only daughter, Lisandria.” Seeing Loran’s confused face, the figure explained, “Love was a forbidden emotion to the elves at this time. Some even adhere to this ancient viewpoint to this day.” Clearing his throat, the figure continued, “One day, in a great rage at being kept from Lisandria, he burned down a large section of the forest. This was met with instant banishment from the elves, for burning any part of the forest was considered the gravest sin of them all. With nowhere to go, Veldrin travelled south through the desert and hid away in the Xertrilium Mountains where he was not seen again for over a decade. During this time, he stumbled upon a great and terrible magic hidden within the depths of the mountains.
“One fateful day he appeared alone in the elven capital. He possessed strength far beyond any imaginable, with which he used to solely destroy any trace of the city until at last he had entered the elven castle.
“He killed the elven king and kidnapped Lisandria. With their forces decimated and the other elven cities days away, there was no one to follow as Veldrin took Lisandria south to the Xertrilium Mountains where she was lost to the elves forever and never seen again. With her, Veldrin began his own race. Through whatever magic he had consumed, his descendants became a warped version of their ancestors. They lost the fair features and agility the elves possessed as well as their immortality, and formed a corrupted version of what we know as the human race.
“He eventually amassed an army, which he used to stalk the remaining cities of the elves in the north, destroying all he came upon. The elves’ last hope for survival was to flee to the Mountains of Hope and meet the oncoming army at Stiltre Pass. A night passed, and at morning’s light the human army appeared, led by Veldrin. The elves fought valiantly, slaying most of the human race, but in the end they were defeated. Veldrin’s power was too strong for them to handle. Only a few elves escaped, where they hid in their forest.
“For years, the human race pursued them, trying to find them in the vast woodland, burning it wherever they went. With no sign of the remaining elves and the forest nothing but smoking ash, the human army returned to the Xertrilium Mountains.
Part of the human race eventually decided to leave the mountains and moved to the northwest. After generations of being away from the corruption of Veldrin, these humans became more docile and kind-hearted, and now reside in Perdfale and all around there. The remnants of the corrupted human race in the Xertrilium Mountains began to develop a kinship with the rock, mining deep within the mountain in search of more of the dark magic Veldrin had found. Although they were not successful, they grew to love their mountain halls and instead mined the rare ores that they found. Veldrin left them and was never seen again, and to this day no one knows what became of him. Centuries underground stunted their growth, and they became the dwarves of today.
“The elves eventually replenished, and they used their magic to assist the forest with regrowth. They rebuilt their fallen cities, and they vowed to never trust the dwarves, for even though they were no longer under Veldrin’s corruption, the elves still saw them as the source of their turmoil.” The figure paused, looking up at Loran.
Loran had become completely engrossed in the story and with surprise noticed that the light coming in through the large glass windows was now dim.
The figure continued, “We now come to the most important part of the history. One day, a human from Perdfale, one of Draden’s ancestors, came to one of the elven villages looking to trade with them. The elves were initially uneasy with beginning trade with the humans, and for many months their council discussed the many ramifications of doing so. While they were discussing, the human interacted with the elves in the city and fell in love with the only descendant of their new king: the princess of the elves. Nothing like this had ever happened before, and there were no laws against an interracial marriage, so before the year was over they were married. This brought together both races, and trading began.
“The elves and dwarves, however, continue to despise each other. The dwarves blame the elves for causing them to live in the hard rock of the earth.
“And that is the history of the land of Zersevbein,” finished the hooded figure.
So many questions flooded through Loran’s mind, but she decided to keep them to herself fornow. “Why did you tell me this?”
“Because, when Draden’s ancestor married the princess, he was given royal blood. This means that he will, one day, be the king of the elves, and it is prophesied that the elves will triumph over all.”
As these words were spoken, Loran’s mouth dropped, hanging there limply. ‘That’s why King Doldran sent Kladspir to get Draden!’
“And now you understand,” the figure said. With these words, it pulled the hood from its face, revealing a man with a kind face and hair that was intentionally styled to look messy. “You need not worry about this information, for I am a friend. I met with Flagprim last night. My name is Crystifar.”
Anoth Honetir Kliktran: Uh-noth Hō-neh-tēr Klēk-tran
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