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Black Talons: A journey begins

By Eric Quintois All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Fantasy

Blurb

Deep in the darkness of the luscious green jungle lies the most sacred temple of Ser’penth. Ser’penth the God of the jungle, and all cold blooded creatures that walk the world of Sito. The high priestess and the truly faithful are the only ones to have ever seen it’s jade glory. Today the highest priestess of Ser’penth, the highest in all the land, has come to his glorious temple, as she has so many times before. This time the tall lithe woman brings rumors of “shadows“, shadows that are hiding in the jungle. Things out of the corner of the eye, shadows. Her people have also heard whispers just out of earshot, words, they think, just completely unrecognizable. Many of her people had been discussing things like demons or other apparitions that Ser‘penth has always protected his people and their lands from.

Preface

Deep in the darkness of the luscious green jungle lies the most sacred temple of Ser’penth. Ser’penth the God of the jungle, and all cold blooded creatures that walk the world of Sito. The high priestess and the truly faithful are the only ones to have ever seen it’s jade glory. Today the highest priestess of Ser’penth, the highest in all the land, has come to his glorious temple, as she has so many times before. This time the tall lithe woman brings rumors of “shadows“, shadows that are hiding in the jungle. Things out of the corner of the eye, shadows. Her people have also heard whispers just out of earshot, words, they think, just completely unrecognizable. Many of her people had been discussing things like demons or other apparitions that Ser‘penth has always protected his people and their lands from.

Climbing from the depths of the temples lower floors, cool and laying in shadow, up into the topmost sun drenched floors. Out of the windows the jungle tree tops can be seen stretching forever, and the song of the deep jungle’s animals can be heard. Sultry breezes drifted into these top floors where only Satinka was allowed to roam, like the many high priestesses before her. She quickly bathed the sweat of her trek away and put on the robes of her office, long flowing and brilliant white against her softly scented skin. She stroked the tangles from her long dark hair. High priestesses were chosen not only for their devotion, intelligence and skill but for their exquisite beauty. She finished quickly and headed to the inner sanctum of the topmost floor. There she approached the tall handsome jade statue of her god.

“Father Ser’penth, lend us your wisdom. What of these shadows, I have been told of, that hide beneath your cover?” She asked as she folded herself down close to the ground on her knees, nearly on her belly, in front of his tall lifelike statue. Her face pressed against her hands upon the floor, at the feet of his statue.

The sound of hissing and rattles began to echo through the temple as Ser’penth came before her. In place of the tall chiseled lifelike statue carved of jade, stood the embodiment of a god, cold stone brought to life. Ser’penth stood over six feet tall, and his black hair was long and full of sinuous curving curls past his waist. His yellow serpent eyes were hypnotic in their intensity, looking at her as she knelt before him. Two snakes lay resting on his shoulders, their tales intertwined each other down into his hair flowing down his back. On the left shoulder a large and gorgeous python, on the other shoulder, a cobra few have ever seen as large or as beautiful, its cowl wide and magnificent. Jade snake skin armor covered his body, and a sword made entirely of emerald hung at his waist.

“Stand and talk with me, my dear Satinka.” He beckoned her to stand, facing him fully. “Your rumors of ‘shadows’ are dark elves. I have asked Cean to lead their ships to our shores.” Coming down off his pedestal, he steps closer to the waiting priestess, and continues, “They have escaped their cruel mother, Lorali, to find peace” He then reached for her long black hair hanging to her waist, leans close to her and smells her familiar scent, letting her silky raven dark hair fall through his long jade fingers.

“Satinka, you will find them, and offer that peace to them. I will protect them in these lands.” Ser’penth held out his other arm indicating the expanse of jungle that could be seen from all sides in this one room. Looking up at him with eyes full of worship and adoration

“As you wish Ser’penth.” She smiled up at him. “Why all the formality?” She said with a laugh. Ser’penth just rolled his eyes, and stepped back into position and left the cold jade statue behind.

Satinka gathered herself up once again after Ser’penth’s leaving her. Leaving behind the gorgeous white robes, and putting on her travel clothes, she walked out of his temple and began the long hard road back. The reason Ser’penth loved Satinka as his high priestess, is because she always did as she was told. She always made his commands, requests and even things she just knew would please him, happen. In less than a year all of the dark elves in his lands, had found the peace they were looking for. Over the next few years, more dark elves came to Ser’penth’s jungle of Sumara and found peace and harmony there. Five years had soon passed.

Five years later, in a dark strange temple another conversation with another deity happens, with much different results.

“Mother Lorali, more have left through the night.” A high priestess stated.

“Curse that jungle serpent hiding my children from me!” Lorali spat just before killing the priestess. She called out to her other priestesses for her highest mage.

A very short time later a beautiful dark elf mage appeared.

“You sent for me Mother Lorali?” The female asked kneeling before her.

“Yes. I shall bestow upon you my dark magic. Powers so strong you shall be as if you were a demi-goddess. Then you will travel to Sumara, pretending to be a refugee. It shouldn’t be hard to find passage with so many escaping every day. Find your way to his temple, and falsely proclaim your desire to be a priestess. When Ser’penth comes before you, and he will come before you, he likes to meet all applicants for priestess hood. When he comes before you, you will be matched in power, and you will have the element of surprise. Use whatever whiles you must, he has always had a ‘soft spot’ for his priestesses, get this amulet around his neck.”

Lorali made a wicked black medallion appear out of thin air, handing it to the young wicked and beautiful dark elf woman.

“With this you will block all his power, and lock him in the mortal realm,” Lorali said laughing wickedly. “Then bring that overheated serpent to me.”

Lorali’s priestess did as she was commanded by her dark and terrible goddess.

She left from the dark territories, and set out for Sumara with the many refugees of her people. Whenever she thought of her role, seeking “peace“, in her mind she always thought it with a sneer, no matter the act she had to portray, to please her goddess. She spent close to a year integrating herself with the other dark elves, and with the Sumara way of life. She was no more than any other dark elf who had come here and sought peace. No one knew of her plan to trap Ser’penth and take him before Lorali. She watched, to her own growing hatred, how her people now immersed themselves in Sumaran culture. Some of them had even gone as far as to marry, and bear children with the Sumaran jungle elves.

It helped her in her exile from her goddess and her true people, not these sick weak dark elves, to write in a personal journal, one that no one could find it was so well hidden. ‘It sickens me that some of my once proud people, can fall this far from grace. One of the highest men, from one of the highest noble houses has sought peace here. Now he has done the unthinkable, and the unforgivable. He has taken one of their women as his bride. The highest priestess in all the land to be exact. One of Lorali’s highest nobles and that Ishka, have lain together, the female elder of the town has said she is with child already. It is more than sick. It is disgusting and disgraceful. She might as well spit in Lorali’s face. I leave this very day to carry out my mission for Lorali, once I have taken him, his power in this land will slowly fade. In a year from now there will be no trace of his power left.’ She wrote in her journal as she set out for the main temple, where she had learned Ser‘penth often came before his priestesses.

The journey would take her three months on foot. A long hard trip that would not only test the body, but the mind as well. She had hidden her powers up until this point. The closer she got to the temple the harder it had gotten, and the more she used her powers. She was after all as a demi-goddess, with all of the powers Lorali had bestowed upon her. She made it to the temple and started to pray to Ser‘penth, the Sumaran elves god. It made her sick at first having to kneel before another god. Still as Lorali told her Ser’penth did show himself. She was the first dark elf in his land, that asked for his blessing to enter in his following as a high priestess.

“Greetings my young dark elf. Please allow me the pleasure of your name.” He said holding out his arms in greeting. Without even blinking she met his hand. When his hand was locked with hers, she quickly recited the spell she had prepared for this meeting, mentally. Dark fire dance, twist, turn and spiral around him.

Black fire grew from her hand, spiraling around his body. She quickly let go, as the dark flames spun, and swiftly spun him across the room. Before he had a chance to recover, she was striking with another powerful spell, black lighting, then more black fire. Poison gas, and spiders shot out from her hands. Ser’penth did the best he could staying on the defensive, but this one was just as Lorali wanted, cruel and heartless. She stayed on him like this for three candle marks and the sun began to set upon them in the high sanctum room. The dark elf could have placed that medallion around his neck, at any time, since the very first spell, he was so unprepared for attack, from a source he had trusted and underestimated. When he was extremely weak, she quickly pulled the medallion from her robes and placed Lorali’s gift around his neck. He screamed as black fire shot out of the medallion and into his weakened corporeal body.

“My name is Natallia and I am Lorali’s highest mage. You have spit in the face of my mother for far too long, and for that she has something special in mind for you.” She said spitting on his still handsome and cruelly battered face. She grabbed Ser’penth by the throat and recited the extremely powerful teleport spell Lorali had given to her. They were taken from his temple directly to hers. Lorali was waiting for them.

“You have done well, my child.” Lorali said as she held up her hand.

Natallia, the dark elf mage, began screaming in pain as hordes of tiny spiders began crawling out of every orifice of her body. Ser’penth just watched in shame and misery. Lorali turned her attention to him then. “I couldn’t let her live with my power or the knowledge I had given her intact now could I?” She said as she gestured to the now still body of the once young and loyal dark elf.

“Now, my dear serpent, you like hiding my children from me? Well, I will hide you, from yours! You are going to be my favorite decoration! Chained to my altar, for all of eternity.” Lorali’s dark sinister laughter filled all of the dark territories.

Elsewhere, the Father of all Gods called several Gods to his Chamber.

The time of the prophets was at hand.

He looked to the gods he had called before him, “The prophets before time said ‘darkness will devour the serpent.’ Lorali has taken Ser’penth. The time has come for eight souls to begin their long journey. Lumi return to your frozen north. Make sure the one chosen not only understands magic, but the sword as well. Lodor, protect the one lost in the jungle. Cora and Grizdel I shall reveal yours in time. Cean deliver the chosen one safely to the land of dragons. Madori the rest lies on your shoulders. You will know the other chosen when she crosses their path.” The father of all intoned.

The profits have set this in motion before time.

Before the first stars came out of the blackness.

Some in their infancy, some not even born yet.

Their path has been chosen and their fates have been sealed.

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