The Easel Chronciles: The Golden Gates

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Prologue

Aravoen watched with the anger slowly building up inside him.

Start here-How could they just sit and watch the murder of a young and innocent boy? All in the name of capturing this mad man, this vile beast.

“Seriously, Captain,” Aravoen whispered.

“Hush!” a tall elf with silver hair snapped.

Aravoen just sat back in his saddle. They watched as what appeared to be an initiation ceremony started. The young boy was bound roughly over the stone table where the blood mage sat.

“Be still, young boy,” Maxine whispered to Aravoen. The soft pressure of her hands on his shoulder released the tension in him somewhat.

“You know,” Aravoen whispered to her, “he is just a boy. No wrongs at all. We cannot sit back and do nothing. You elves believe in the greater good, is it not?”

“Yes,” Maxine whispered back. “Our main aim is the blood mage, Aravoen. Not the silly child. This is our only chance and Lord Modrin would expect nothing less. And you young Aravoen, who serves under the house of Stareonor, best remember that.”

“Why should I?”

“You two!” The captain turned his grey eyes on them. Captain Illad was a domineering elf man. His gracious build was only more imposing of his character. His hand held the pommel of his blade ready to strike at the right moment.

Aravoen and Maxine fell silent like the rest of their band: a strong group of elves and one half elven. Aravoen had left his home in the north some eight years ago. He had trained enough in the barracks of Elvhelm. And this was the first assignment he had been given since he arrived as a young boy of five.

This group had trained for the past eight years, and the bond of family that kept them together was stronger than ever before.

Down in the clearing the blood mage studied the boy’s features. His young, innocent, green eyes frightened by the sight of orcs and uruks.

“Let me go,” he whispered, tears springing to his eyes. The blood mage stifled a laugh at the boy’s fear. He smiled showing his yellowed teeth to the boy; his smile touching his blood shot eyes and giving his hair a slight twinge to it.

“Get my knife and the pot,” he cried to the uruk next to where the boy was bound. He slowly fingered his staff, reciting a small incantation of calmness to sooth the unlucky child.

Aravoen could not take it anymore. He cursed under his breath, knowing he would be punished for insubordination. Leaning over Elben he grabbed his bow from the pouch right next to his boot. He pulled back as silently as he could, aiming for the uruk that held the boy’s bindings. Raising his aim a little higher, he let loose just as Maxine’s hand pushed his hands down.

“What are you doing?”

“Saving the boy.” Aravoen freed himself from her grip and kicked Elben into a gallop. He did not care if the uruks saw him. He even heard the cursing of Captain Illad as he rushed down the toll into the clearing.

The shock on the blood mage’s face was not mistaken. He slowly raised his staff, sending a bolt of fire at Aravoen who slid to the side as it passed. He unsheathed his blade bringing it down on the uruk holding the boy now. He felt his blade make contact, but not enough to draw blood.

What was taking them so long? Where was his company? As if to answer his thoughts, he heard Maxine strike an orc that was just ready to throw him off Elben. He smiled as she slew every unearthly beast in sight.

Aravoen saw the mage dart into the trees as the battle raged between the orcs, uruks and the other forty-nine of his companions. He jumped off Elben to chase the mage. Kicking an orc out of his way, darting aside from one humongous uruk, and swiping another orc in the hip, Aravoen plunged into the trees after the mage.

He ran following the black cloak trying to gain on the mage. After an eternity, his breath was laboured and he came to a halt. His senses were dulled by fatigue, but he strained his eyes looking around him.

You!” a harsh voice came from the trees around him. “You think you can catch me alone. It is not in your path to kill me or catch me boy. You are nothing but a fool.”

“Come out.” Aravoen struggled to keep his voice even.

“Aravoen, youth of the north,” the mage mocked.

Face me!” Aravoen’s temper was on his sleeve.

“Look at you.” The mage laughed. “I will kill you, but you’re not mine. However, I will take this pleasure in hurting you. Look, your elf protectors surround us. You’re a child that needs protection.”

With a cry of frustration, Aravoen rushed into the trees, bumping into someone. He let himself up to see a red light disappear a few paces away from them. He disentangled himself and shoved himself up. He kicked the branch near his foot in anger.

“You foolish, vile idiot from Eduin,” Castor snapped at him, picking twigs from his hair.

“I’m sure he will accept whatever put on him,” Maxine cut in, trying to restore calm.

“Yes,” the cool voice of Illad scared them.

* * *

Aravoen had grown since those earlier years. He had left the elf homeland soon after that incident. All he had received for saving the boy was anger, resentment and blunt refusal of re-entry into the blessed lands. He had sought his way in life the past twenty years.

He stared across the La Mamorin looking back to the lands of the north. Somewhere that side his home lay. He had not seen it for the last eighty-eight years.

Slowly he removed the greaves on his arms, casting them over the cliff into the angry black waters. Slowly he unsheathed the blade he had received from the elves all those years ago, and also dropped it down. He listened to its whisper as it made its way to the sea. He heard the whispered splash as it slowly made contact.

He looked over the cliffs to the Ebrithian shores. He spied the little boat landing just below where he stood; his carriage home. He turned to Elben and smiled.

“Home,” he elated. “The fields of Cair Sandor shall soon know us again.”

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