Paint the Sky with Stars

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Chapter 4

The Halls of Alastrina

After years of waiting, it was finally Finnegan’s turn to begin his training in Alastrina. He would be turning 11 in a few months. He entered the halls with the same 4 people he had spent most of his life around, his orphanage friends. 2 of them were fairy folk; one was Geyorg and the other Lysander. The two humans along with Finnegan were Aderes and Gawen, and together they entered the halls, ready to learn to survive the School of Progress. They bowed out of respect in front of Uriah “Welcome my friends to the Halls of Alastrina. You are here because of your magic abilities and to train it is here that you will learn to conceal your magic of Rael and pass it off as Mortevite. It is also here that you will learn to protect yourself against Mortevite, this training will prepare you for the School of Progress, and for the judgment they conduct there. May I introduce to you to my assistant and colleague Elspeth? Elspeth-these are our new prospects, please allow me to introduce them: Geyorg the Merry fairy, Lysander the Lone fairy, Aderes a human from Baxley, Gawen a human from the burned city of Trinidad; and finally Finnegan of Calimag” Uriah said his eyes flicking to Finnegan’s. Elspeth looked at them all in interest and then she saw him, and her breath caught in her throat. Her baby boy. He was here. He was alive. She had to pull herself together so that it didn’t show. In fact to Finnegan and the others there she just looked at them all in review. Elspeth did not react at all to the presence of her son but her eyes drank in the sight of him… he was every bit of his father. Her heart swelled with love once more as she looked at him with unspoken joy. Finnegan had tussled light brown hair, determined chocolate brown eyes, a smile wide and engaging full of charm and mischievousness. Elspeth saw that he had inherited her eyes and her smile and was almost tempted to reach out to him, to hold her son again but resisted the urge. “Welcome to you all, it is my hope that you will all be as good as the last group we had. In the School of Progress you will be trained as soldiers for the most part if you are lucky, you will all stay in the School of Progress until the age of 21 which will be the age you graduate. When you graduate you will all be given positions by Meridoc and we’re here to teach you how to avoid that and Mortevite. We will begin tomorrow, please don’t be late” Elspeth said as she took her leave. Uriah escorted them to their bed chambers and bid them goodnight before he stopped before Finnegan. “Young master Finnegan, you look troubled” he noticed. Finnegan nodded “It’s that Elspeth woman… it’s just that…. She looks very familiar to me, but I don’t think I have seen her before… does that make sense?” Finnegan asked him. “Of course it does Finnegan, Elspeth has been around, and it is possible that your paths have crossed before now” Uriah said in reply. “Does she have a family?” Finnegan asked. “Elspeth is the daughter of Meridoc she has resisted the power of Mortevite and has chosen to fight on the side of the light, her mother died years ago. As for her own family, there were rumors once that she had a husband and a son but no proof remains of either, she doesn’t speak of it” Uriah said to him gravely. “You’re a wizard. Can’t you peer into her past?” Finnegan asked him. “One must have permission to do that my dear Finnegan, as a wizard I do have the ability but I must first ask if the person would mind otherwise I would be overwhelmed by everyone’s data at one time” Uriah replied to him. “I can’t explain this feeling Uriah…. Her voice…. I swear I have heard her voice before …” Finnegan insisted to Uriah but Uriah only smiled kindly at him. “Finnegan, tomorrow morning you start your training with Elspeth, I suggest you forget your dreams and start living in your reality… you need rest. Goodnight Finnegan” Uriah said patting his shoulders. Finnegan nodded at him and he saw Uriah smile “Good lad… we will be seeing each other in the morning. Sleep well Finnegan of Calimag” Uriah said as he left. Finnegan looked after him with a fond smile on his face out of all things to happen to him, he was now friends with a wizard!!! With that information and the promise of a new and exciting tomorrow, Finnegan went to sleep.

Meanwhile Uriah found Elspeth in the Great Hall of Alastrina and approached her cautiously. “Elspeth, as much as I admire what you have done for the children here, I can’t help but feel as if you have another motive behind why you help me” he began sitting next to her and then he continued “Finnegan of Calimag was found by Bartholomew the Brave, the Captain of the Guard of Maridoae. He saw a basket floating on the River Zae, this basket held a child of 2 years age and the basket was made from the branches of the Finn tree…. I will not ask you to tell me what this means, I don’t wish to press the matter but I will tell you that seeing you have troubled young master Finnegan. He recognizes your voice but doesn’t know how, he also seems to think he has seen you before” Uriah said finally looking at Elspeth whose eyes filled with tears at the words “He recognizes my voice?” she asked her voice thick with tears. “Yes…. It takes a great deal of bravery to sacrifice what you have, but a great deal more to do it all for your child. If you wish to keep his heritage a secret, I will comply only on the condition that one day he will be told of his true lineage” Uriah said to her willing to make a deal. “He may be told the truth one day… but only after my father is destroyed. If my father knew about the existence of my son I cannot imagine his wrath. I can’t imagine what he would do…. My father cannot know and since he cannot know… please Uriah tell no one else what you have found out” Elspeth pleaded with him and then she added “That is the only reason I gave him up… my father is a dangerous man. He is a man of great power true, but he uses this power for the wrong reason, he doesn’t act like the same man I remember. That is why I floated my son on the river Zae; I had to protect him from my father’s madness. You cannot imagine my pure joy and delight over seeing him alive and well … I will treasure these months I have with him more than he will ever know, but he cannot know the truth, not yet” Elspeth said. Uriah looked at her in surprise “My dear lady Elspeth, do you mean you only joined the side of the light for the sake of your son?” he asked in astonishment. “Isn’t it crazy what people will sacrifice for love?” she replied to him and then she looked at him seriously “Do I have your word that no one will know of this quite yet?” she asked him. “Finnegan will not be told the truth just yet but he will know one day will he not?” Uriah asked in reply. “If this ends well and if I am still alive at the end of this war, I will tell him myself” Elspeth said determinedly. “Is it not torturous to be so close to your son but being unable to speak to him the way a mother should speak to her son?” he asked her in wonderment but Uriah didn’t need a reply. He could tell by Elspeth’s sad eyes that yes indeed it was torture but to protect Finnegan she would do anything. Uriah patted her shoulder “My dear Elspeth… now do you see how different you are from your father? Your courage and bravery are beyond what I have seen in my time as a Green wizard…. If only I could lessen your pain” he said to her and then he comforted her for most of the night for she needed the comfort. The next morning in Baxley

Not far away from the Halls of Alastrina there was a quiet and peaceful human village called Baxley, the people here had no leader per say, they led themselves and had done so for many years. Baxley was the only human city which remained untouched by the power-hungry Meridoc and it was here that Paladin had been raising and continued to raise Seraphina in secrecy. “Steady now wee one… steady… there you are… now focus… good. Aim…. And now release!” Paladin instructed Seraphina who released her arrow and like it had every time before, it hit its target. “Another bull’s-eye!!! Very good wee one! Very good indeed you have improved very much! You have learned a great deal but there is still more to learn… now climb that tree and tell me what you hear, smell, see and feel” Paladin instructed. Seraphina was more than willing to comply; she had found the company of Paladin rather stimulating and was very happy to be in his presence. Paladin proved to be a most agreeable friend and a wonderful teacher for her and as Radigan had once said, quite the entertainer. Seraphina was growing rapidly but she was also becoming more aware of her natural skill and was becoming aware of her many emotions. You see, Seraphina had emotions of a human and yet no human had taught her anything about them or how to understand them. She had the emotions and feelings of the Elves, which made her not want to act out, to be elegant and refined, for the elves hardly ever showed their emotions. She also had the emotions of the fairies that unlike the elves, fairies were more carefree, spirited and relaxed. Add this to her emotions of the dwarves who were stubborn, loyal to a fault, good natured and loud. Then of course she was also human on top of this, and these emotions were so complex, confusing and diverse that she hardly knew how to explain them. Put this all together and you can imagine that young Seraphina wasn’t at all sure what to do with all her different contrasting emotions and feelings and that this lead to her acting out because unlike her powers, it seemed like her emotions and feelings were not controllable. She enjoyed her time with Paladin very much, he was protective, smart, and good natured; it was safe to be with him. Like most ogres, Paladin didn’t have the same emotions that other creatures did which left Seraphina to wonder what her first experience with a human being would be like. She was well advanced beyond her age, which made her accept these feelings and emotions but she often felt like she had no one to talk to about them that no one would understand. She had no idea what humans were like, so she decided to embrace her other sides more so than her human side. She was already a gifted speaker like the elves, a mighty warrior in training like so many of the dwarves, a wild spirt who did as she wished like the fairies and uncommonly clever like the mermish folk. Paladin on the other hand had changed because of this wee one he watched over. She had exposed a part of him that he didn’t even know had existed, and he was happy here in Baxley. He could grow his garden in peace, there were no other ogres to bully him or make fun of what he did. The wee one accepted him just the way he was and for some reason, Paladin was very comforted by that fact. He continued to push her abilities knowing that she had to not only practice and improve these gifts but also one day master them if she was going to destroy the terrible Meridoc. As she reached his eye level in the trees and looked far out beyond the borders of Baxley she closed her eyes and waited. “Well?” Paladin asked her wondering what she would sense today. “I see Meridoc’s darkness…. It spreads from Raurzeurek towards Calimag, I also sense his darkness in the mountains and an army is assembling somewhere. Naebira remains untouched by darkness but I don’t see any of the mer-people. As for what I feel…. I feel… like no one has hope, like all is lost… like no one believes in the good and those who do are about to be attacked. I sense a sense of defeat, I sense the time has come to rise up and give people hope again but I know that I am not ready. Do you think people will ever have hope again Paladin?” Seraphina asked. “I have no doubt in my mind that they will. The world is very different now… people decide that they have a choice, and the choice is this: They can give up or they can fight back and unfortunately, many of the people have given up, they have seen the terror of Meridoc’s reign, many have lost their homes and their loved one. There is much sadness… so they are giving up. It is better they believe to give up to Meridoc than to lose more” Paladin told her quite sadly that he was witnessing such terrible times. Seraphina scoffed at the idea“But they are wrong! He will only keep destroying this world we live in. No one should ever give into him they are only giving him more power… giving up shouldn’t be an option… it’s not an option” Seraphina said to him getting a fiery look in her eyes. Paladin smiled fondly at her “Keep that frame of mind my dear wee one and you shall defeat Meridoc. You were born for greatness, if anyone can restore the hope that has been lost, it is you” Paladin said to her and not surprisingly she didn’t respond but she didn’t need to. “Meridoc is leading troops to Calimag… Calimag doesn’t have an army in place” she said pointedly looking helplessly towards Calimag. Meanwhile in Alastrina

Finnegan was facing his hometown watching the cloud of darkness creeping closer as he watched Meridoc’s armies come upon Calimag. Elspeth came towards him and saw that he had his fists clenched. “Where are Leland’s armies?” he asked turning to her and then glancing back to Calimag “Why isn’t anyone coming to face Meridoc?” he asked her. Elspeth was thoroughly touched to see that Finnegan cared so deeply about his homeland” “I don’t know” she replied honestly. “Someone has to help them… Calimag can’t help itself” Finnegan insisted “Our troops are not ready” Elspeth told him “So I am just supposed to watch Meridoc destroy only home I’ve ever known?” Finnegan asked her angrily “Do you have a choice?” Elspeth asked him. To see her son in so much pain was awful! How could she help him when even she didn’t know how? “Of course!!! Everyone has a choice! We are defined by our choices!” Finnegan hotly replied. As he watched Meridoc’s troops surge towards a helpless Calimag, suddenly a white glow appeared in front of the advancing armies and suddenly by the strength of the strange silvery magic. With a blast that echoed and shook the ground, a giant silvery bubble formed around all of Calimag and blasted Meridoc’s armies away from Calimag. “Elspeth? What was that?” Finnegan asked her standing up after he had been knocked down from the blast. With wide eyes on Calimag Elspeth looked confused and awe “I have no idea what that was” she admitted as Calimag remained untouched.

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