Saturday, 26 November 2011

Prologue 5

Two figures, cloaked and hooded stalked through the mist. They moved quickly below the crest of the hill making sure to keep hidden from the road on the other side. The figure in front was the larger of the two. He carried a longbow and a quiver of arrows across his back, the dagger and sword at his side were sheathed. He stopped and crouched low quickly followed by his companion. Together they crept towards the road and lay flat along the ground.

Voices rose from the mist below and the dark shadow of a cart and horse came to a stop. The larger figure held up his hand and then pointed to the ground in front of the other's face. He then rose, vaulted the crest of the hill and sped off down the slope. The smaller figure stayed put. There was the muted sound of a scuffle. Then silence.

"Tybalt, you can come now."

The smaller figure rose and joined his fellow tentatively. They were both obviously rangers, although this was very much not their usual line of work. The larger figure lowered his hood and grinned broadly. He was stood on the road holding the reigns of the cart horse. Around him the bodies of at least seven men lay were they were stood only moments before, the unfortunate driver now slumped against the tree he had stopped to use with an arrow in the back of his skull.

"Should we bury them, Masa?"

"What?" The taller figure casually retrieved his arrows, causing the driver's corpse to slide to the ground unceremoniously "Knock off the 'Masa' business."

"Sorry, Adam."

"No need to bury them. They will be up and around again in a few hours either way, and we've no time to set a fire." Adam turned the horse around and after making sure that it's cargo was still secured, began to lead the cart back towards the city on foot.

Tybalt folded his arms and began to walk with him "Well then I suppose we may as well steal their horse too."

"We're not- okay well technically we are stealing the horse. But! The contents of this Wagon were never theirs to begin with. Plus I don't fancy hauling these crates at all, do you?"

Tybalt's hood was still raised but at close quarters his frown was still clear "What did they steal?"

"Don't know, not gonna look."

"What? Why?"

"Questions get you killed, lad."

Tybalt looked away with a pout "I thought the Guild of Dragons had honour."

"And we do. We're just not fools with it. This commission came from the de Farunelle so it's probably not against the law." Adam caught the filthy glance from Tybalt. "What? I'm nearly fifty percent sure. Sixty... at a push. Well maybe fifty five."

There was an awkward silence. "Aren't they... you know."

"Wizards? Aye. No hiding it too."

"So it's true that they're in the guild then." Tybalt stopped in his tracks. Adam kept walking for a short distance before half turning with a disinterested look.

"Is that a problem?"

"Well you know..." A chill went up the younger man's spine as he caught Adam's gaze. He began to walk again but kept his head bowed. "They're hunting them in the south. For good reason too."

"Uh-huh." The cart began to move again. "Well at least now I know why you were sent with me."

"What?" Tybalt scowled, the ranger's words had carried a note of accusation.

"Listen lad, you're what eighteen, nineteen?"


"And from the southern provinces too, near the Sea of Teeth no doubt. Atican?"

"Yes." Tybalt tried to catch Adam's eye, but he was staring straight ahead into the mist.

"I was too." The horse snorted and began to nudge the ranger from behind. He responded by quickening his pace. "Before the witch hunts though."

"Which city?"

"Eli Varah."


"Exactly. On the wagon." Without slowing the horse Adam quickly scaled the moving cart. Tybalt hopped up beside him with ease and tried to read his expression. The driver's seat was not wide but no amount of closeness would allow him to guess it, the ranger's features were stony and set. "Atican puritans burned the whole place off the face of Eliz not even twenty years ago and put the fear in all the south so no-one ever talks about it or even admits it was there. An' you know why?"

"Because it was full of Witches?"

"Yeah but also no. 'Cos we told them to go stuff it and they turned around and accused us of all manner of things and the king jes' let 'em." Adam cleared his throat and forced his accent back below a civilised veneer, "Point is you can't always trust what the priests say. They have their own agenda and it's got nothing to do with the gods."

"So now you have no faith."

"No I have faith. There are those in our guild who've seen Atis himself walk the face of Eliz. Wizards to the last."

Tybalt looked truly horrified. "That's blasphemy."

"That's the blasted truth. Esa and Favinis haven't lied a day in their lives." It was clear that Adam was irritated.

"If Wizards are so close to the gods then why are the priests burning them?"

"Exactly." The ranger sighed "Look I'm not saying that you should renounce your faith or spit on your father's ways, but Puritans are no better than the Maithans currently makin' slaves of all the people north of here."

The cart rattled on along the road, gently jostling both passengers and cargo as their speed began to once again increase. Whether this was Adam's irritation or something worrying the horse Tybalt wasn't exactly clear, he was too busy sulking anyway. They were getting closer to the city now and the hills were falling away to meet the approaching wetlands in a thickening fog. They had come quite a distance during the hunt although Tybalt hadn't really noticed, now as then he was distracted. After a long silence he finally gave up his sulking. He'd never been able to hold it long anyway.

"So what are you saying?"

Adam's eyes were fixed on the road ahead "Keep your head down and your views to yourself and you'll live a lot longer. 'Specially out here in Vocis."

Tybalt folded his arms sulkily "What's so bad about it? You can leave your doors unlocked in the city and we haven't see a single person all the way from town to here... other than the ones you shot."

"It's not living people that's the problem," He afforded the younger man a sideways glance "It's not Wizards either."

Tybalt went pale. He had heard the rumours coming out of this region, it was not possible at this point for anyone in the country not to have. For the best part of thirty years something had been fouling the waters of the Bizan mountains and causing the dead to rise. The fear of it was slowly tearing the country apart and had lead to a great many cruel acts, chief amongst which was the Puritan Inquisition and the execution of all those it deemed as 'lost souls'. He looked nervously over towards Adam for some sort of conformation but saw that he was still fixated on the road ahead. Tybalt looked out into the mist squinting for some sort of sign that something was there but saw nothing. His thoughts flickered back to the corpses they had left by the roadside. Adam had said they would be up and around in a few hours, was he telling the truth? Gathering his cloak he asked another question to distract his mind.

"So if I should keep my peace, what are you keeping to yourself then? Aside from the fact that you're a casual horse-thief."

Adam pulled the reigns at an angle, guiding the cart around tricky bend. There was an uncomfortable squelch as they neared the edge of the road and soft thud as they rejoined it fully. "I already told you."

"You haven't told me anything. All you've done is preach."

There were a few more minutes of quiet before the older man seemed to relax and the unmistakable sound of hooves on stone started to clatter before them. The horse seemed to calm with him, although it still kept a swift pace. Adam turned to face the sulking younger man with a dangerous look in his eyes. "You think on it, and then decide whether or not I put an arra' through your skull to keep you from talkin'"

Tybalt laughed nervously but it was clear from the ranger's face that he wasn't joking "So you're from a city that doesn't exist anymore. That's your... big..." A slow realisation dawned as he thought on it properly. Between Eli Silas and Eli Gris was the one place that all the children of the southern lands were taught to fear, and it had been the only way and the only winter road open to Tybalt when he set off to join the Guild of Dragons: the haunted woods where demons were said to dwell; where all the trees were young and dead; and the one place that no-one ever claimed to be from, for to do so meant a swift death at the hands of the Blades of Atis. His memories of the forest were still clear enough for the connection to be made instantly. Dark trees and twisted roots around carved stone where none should be and smooth well built roads with many forks. "Where was Eli Varah?" He was afraid of the answer.

"So you've figured it."

"You're from the Fellwood." The mood was tense and the sense of danger sent a dark prickle of heat across the back of Tybalt's neck.

"So arrow or no arrow?"

He didn't even need to think about it, "I'll keep your secret," Tybalt eyed the quiver and bow nervously and noticed that Adam's hand had strayed to the hilt of his dagger. Catching the expression on the older man's face, Tybalt swallowed his pride. "And I will learn to keep my peace."

"Good!" Adam's mood suddenly brightened. "'Cos it'd be a shame to lose a good tracker so early on. We don't get many through who can follow a trail as good as you."

"You're not joking. Are you?"

"I'm as serious as this fella." He nodded at the horse and slowed it to a more gentle trot. The clatter of hoof, stone and wheel became louder.

"You're not funny."

"Ahh..." Adam grinned widely and sat more comfortably. The mist started to thin as they approached the city but they were still the only traffic on either side of the road.

"So what are we going to do with the horse?"

"I'm sure someone will need one."

Tybalt looked back over his shoulder at the crates they had stolen from the would be thieves, at the cart of unknown pedigree, the stolen horse, and the the grinning ranger sat beside him. He couldn't help but laugh. "This is the Guild of Dragons?"

"On a slow day. Normally it's much more interesting." Adam nodded in agreement with himself "Be better once you're in your team!"

"What? What team?"

But the ranger merely winked and said nothing all the way back to the gates of Eli Vocis.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Prologue 4

It had been several days since the enrolment and the Guild of Dragons was a hive of activity. Accommodation for every applicant had been found inside the guild complex and it had not taken long for everyone to settle into a new routine. For most the days were filled with rigorous testing, the evenings were full of aches and pains and the nights were utterly silent (mostly from exhaustion). For the rare few, the days were filled with wandering around utterly bored. Not every applicant was being tested and Morris was one of those frustrated newcomers who had time enough to themselves to find their way into the rooms where the existing guild members were all hiding.

She was in the corner of the first floor in the timber-frame part of the building. It was one of the many common rooms in the building with chairs and couches grouped around low tables. Tapestries lined the walls and there was a magnificent fireplace set right in the middle of the room like a bizarre and almighty column. The hearth was separated from the wooden floor by a circular pattern of tiles, from which four columns rose and intertwined to take the smoke up through the building. The surround was made from white marble and featured the same snakelike dragons as the main hall. The whole effect was quite pleasing.

The youth she had seen with Esa the night she enrolled was sleeping on one of the couches in the corner, and nearby a tired but familiar face was pouring through a sheaf of papers scribbling little notes and biting at her nails. The stressed out woman was blonde and fairly short. She was also Morris' newest and closest friend in all the western lands.

Morris approached softly, and took the adjacent seat "You are still filling in forms?"

"Yes and no. This is all smokescreen for those who claim to have magical skill. Takes forever." Valia sank in the chair and let her head roll back. She was dressed very differently from the day they first met. She was wearing a simple blue tunic with a dragon embroidered in white near the collar. Elizan tunics were long so Morris assumed she was wearing shorts of some kind, because her legs were naked from mid thigh to shoe.


"The Witch Hunters are sweeping through the southern provinces getting the mob stirred up. So we're making sure that our notes are all encoded, although I don't know how many lives it's going to save," Valia picked up the nearest form and waved it absently "Arald has been enrolling everyone as a 'butcher'."

"The guild of sausage makers?"

"Well quite possibly if we don't make sure to hide everyone properly." Valia closed her eyes and frowned "Sorry that was in poor taste."

"They burn them in Zargosa too."

"Yes I'd heard that. Still they're safe here if we can hide them." Valia sat forward again, although she did not return to making notes. The youth rolled over on his couch so that his face was hidden. He had stopped making sleeping noises.

"And this... is your day?" Morris raised an eyebrow as she gazed at the various piles of paper across the table. It was the only one in the room at a decent enough height for writing and it was covered in forms, quills, and inkwells.

"No, I also have to sit in on the warrior testing this evening and make a note of how the people sent to the medic were injured so that the blood letters can do their exam properly."

Morris folded her arms and fixed the blonde with a stare "Why am I not being tested?"

Valia faltered for a second "Well you've come all the way here from Irmir, right through Zargosan territory not only alive but unrobbed and unscathed. We don't need to test you."

Morris narrowed her eyes and adopted a wry smile "It has nothing to do Esa brushing me past your brother."

"Well there is also that." Valia grinned and looked over to her friend.

"I wish to be treated like others."

Valia raised an eyebrow "Really? The warrior's exam is pretty brutal."

"Yes. It is the reason I came all this way. To be equal."

"Well if you insist..." A penny dropped behind Valia's eyes, and she bit her lip "Sorry this is a sidetrack but, how come your Elizan is so good?"

Morris frowned slightly "So good? I make mistakes."

"Well here and there, but it's better than most Elizans... could..." Valia lent forward with her elbows on the table and looked unsure about how to finish her question.


"Could you maybe teach me Aori?"

"Is there a boy?" Morris raised an eyebrow, Valia looked away and blushed "There is a boy!" The blonde nodded, her hand covering a childish grin "Is he being tested?"

"No he's already in the guild. Has been for years."

"Aori?" Morris unfolded her arms as Valia nodded "I do not blame you, Aori men are beautiful."

"So are your women. It must be nice to live in a place where everyone is just so..." She looked around the room to see who else was there, after a moment's pause to make sure that Esa's youth didn't appear to be listening she turned back "Are there no ugly people in Irmir?"

"Oh no. We drown the ugly ones at birth" Morris watched the blonde's expression drop and began to laugh "... I am kidding."

"Oh -I, uh."

"To your eyes we are beautiful but we see our kind every day. To us you also live surrounded by impossible creatures, with your bright hair and blue eyes... although, I do not understand why you have redheads?" At this the blonde began to laugh "Or even call them so when they are more... orange."

"Nobody knows, but redheads aren't so bad. They get teased a lot so they tend to be angrier than most but if you can get past that they are generally pretty sweet, actually."

"And do they... match?"

"Most usually. You'd have to ask my brother."

"How fascinating."

"So is Aori hard?"

"It depends, which Sultanate is he from?" Morris was fast getting used to seeing a blank expression when it came to discussing the Aori. Much as people here claimed to know about these things, their 'facts' were often mostly assumed. "What kind of gypsy is he?"

"Oh... uhm, I am not sure, but he has little pictures of mountains on his clothes and polished stones attached to his belt"

"Then is Vehenya not Aori, and no our language is not difficult. Vehenya less so."


"They speak a lot with their hands. It's all in the gesture," Morris balled her fists and made a jagged motion in-front of her chest "Very macho."

"Yes that! He does that even when he speaks Elizan, and with one hand usually in his waistband."

"Because he is man! Very manly!" Morris sat back in her chair "So if I teach you how to woo your Vehenyai, you will enter me for tests?"

Valia grinned "Shrewd move. But if you insist."

"Then we shake our accord."

Another teenage boy appeared in the door, he looked at the sleeping form of Aluredus with an odd expression before taking a few steps into the room and addressing the blonde "Masa de Neir, we are ready now."

"Whelp! Time to go and watch some horrific injuries." Valia began to gather her effects as the teenager hovered nearby awkwardly. She handed him the ink and quills. "I am glad you came here, Morris."

"I am glad too. Verheni Alin."

Valia paused for a moment and bit her lip "Goodbye?" Morris nodded. "Then, Verheni Alin." With that Valia left the room with the teenager tottering nervously at her side. The Imirran stretched and looked around the room, once again free as a bird with little to do.

(I am starting to get back into this now! Comments are still very welcome.)

Friday, 28 October 2011

Prologue 3

A young woman stood outside a large timberframe building completely in awe of both its construction and purpose. There was nothing like it in her homeland or in any of the lands she had travelled through to arrive at this specific place at this specific time. Even the rain could not draw her attention away.

The ground floor of the building was made from thick finished blocks of the region's dark grey stone. Here and there a lighter hue had been used to pick out windows and doors in perfect and precise masonry. Three floors rose above it, each one overhanging the last by about two feet supported on thick dark beams of oak. The upper floors were all constructed of timberframe and a faded orange brickwork, pierced frequently by leaded windows with honeycomb pattern. The roof also had an overhang with deep and generous eaves. It was not visible anymore from where she stood, but as she approached she had seen that its tiles were an inviting burnt umber with a curved pitch, dotted with little dormer windows implying a further two floors hidden below the tiles.

The building was also set back from the street with its own enclosure of high stone walls and a gatehouse built in the same style. Low buildings hugged the inside walls, and much of the area they guarded was paved. Even in the rain there were people patrolling the walls and standing guard at the gates.

Today they were letting everyone through. The Guild of Dragons was finally recruiting.

There were an eclectic mix of people gathered in the courtyard but even so the young woman stood out. She was wearing bright silk clothing in warm hues of peacock blue and green, which flowed down her torso and billowed at the waist. Her hair was covered by a dark blue cloak decorated with gold, and her shoes were curved at the toe. Women in particular were giving her looks of disdain, as not only was her midriff entirely exposed, but the rain was making her finery cling to everything.

She didn't really care though. She was smiling in anticipation, eyes now firmly fixed on the stone dragons carved either side of the closed entrance to the main building. The dragon motif was repeated there too in guilded relief.

Finally there was a crack of wood and the creak of old and heavy hinges. The doors opened and she was the first to confidently enter the Dragon's den seeking her fortune.


The main doors of the guild opened straight onto it's main hall. Around the edges of the room was a low colonade with a balconies above on the first and second floors. The walls were panelled in a rich, dark wood, and the floor was chequered with faded stone tiles in what once must have been a dazzling contrast of jet black and pristine white. At either end of the room, and up each of the columns supporting the balconies were carvings of entwining dragons. They were long and snakelike with no wings and trailing whiskers.

Along one side of the room were a row of desks, potential applicants milled around in the centre waiting to be seated for some kind of interview. The young woman who entered first was sat on the very end, opposite a blonde man with a high ponytail.

The blonde sat stiff backed and with a quill poised over some sort of form. The young woman sat opposite him, apparently not bothered by the wet silk highlighting pretty much everything, but keenly puzzled by the alien concept of 'paperwork'. "Name?" he had a thick Elizan accent which didn't match his face at all. It took the young woman a few moments to respond.

"Morris" Her voice held a certain smoky fullness, the effect of which was not lost on the blonde who shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

He cleared his throat and averted his gaze "Full name." his voice was a little strained. Morris smiled and waited for him to ink his quill, until he was holding it poised over the form.

"Alamaeui Adamorissanka Aori Kann Dajin"

He looked up at her with a somewhat blank expression, unsure which letters to even begin with "... Morris it is" he smiled nervously taking care to guess at the spelling "Occupation?"

Morris let her gaze wander around the room a little before she answered "Sky Dancer" The blond grew tense.

"Sorry?" His voice carried a slight edge that had not been present before. Morris returned her attention to him immediately. She was not offended by the strange look on his face, when she left her homeland she had expected a certain amount of ignorance.

"I use swords, cut things up"

His eyes narrowed "So... warrior?"

"No. Sky Dancer."

"So you're a Gypsy." He almost spat the words. The blunt statement carried a definite tone of accusation. Morris had expected this also, although perhaps not here.

"I am Aori Kann"

"Right, and you want to join our guild because?" The blonde had put aside the quill and his manner was growing rapidly cold. Both the interviewer and the applicant at the adjacent table had also stopped their interview to spectate. The interviewer clearly nervous.

Morris did not acknowledge their attention, and answered coolly. "Because it is the best." There was a thick silence. She crossed her arms, and he balled his hands to fists. Just as he opened his mouth to speak, he blanched and his gaze remained fixed above Morris' head. Their spectators also quickly resumed their interview.

A tall redhead appeared softly from the right, trailing a very nervous looking youth. "Problem, Arald?" The blonde grew pale as Morris turned her head to look at the newcomer. His skin was as dark as hers and she recognised his features instantly. She smiled and relaxed her defences. Esa Essarious and his kin were well known in her homeland.

'Arald' stammered "Esa- ah no. Just-" and fell silent.

Esa's eyes scanned the partially completed form, and lingered on the blonde. "Welcome to the Guild of Dragons, Morris the Sky Dancer."


He nodded politely to Morris, and then turned to address the youth "Aluredus." The youth nodded mutely and followed Esa out of the room through an archway behind the row of tables. He turned back a few times to look in her direction, but kept pace after his master.

The blonde was still obviously a little shaken, he gathered up the rest of the forms on the table and held them for Morris to take "I'll just give this to you, you can write in haran?"

"Yes. We use it in Aqis." she accepted the papers, somewhat perplexed.

"There's ink and quills through there. Where the scary redhead went." He turned in his seat and pointed through the archway where Esa was still stood talking to someone out of sight.

Morris smiled and as she rose to leave she purred softly in the blonde's ear "Thankyou, Arald."

He cleared his throat again, but his voice broke slightly as he called "Next please." and tried desperately to hide the flush burning across his face.

The walk to the adjoining room was not a long one. The archway led into a smaller single floor space with leaded windows along the back wall, there were high tables scattered around. Esa was stood with his teenager and another attendant busy filling in paperwork by one of them. Morris paused for a moment in the archway and frowned at the paper. What was it with westerners and forms?

A young woman with blonde hair approached as she entered. she was wearing what was probably the latest Elizan fashion, although Morris wasn't really sure what that was."Sorry."

"For what?"

The blonde woman averted her gaze "Whatever he said." She gestured back through the arch at Arald, who was now interviewing a veritable meat pile.

"Arald?" Morris continued to gaze back through the archway.

"Yeah he's not too good with the Aori. Like most people around here actually."

"He was not rude."

The blonde girl shifted uncomfortably "He was about to be. Welcome to the guild uh-"


"Right. Nice to meet you, my name is Valia. Do you need help with anything?" Valia motioned to one of the nearby tables. It was tall enough that you could use it standing, which explained the total lack of chairs.

Morris smiled and tried not to look as lost as she felt "This paper? We don't really have these kinds of things. So I do not know."

Valia smiled and looked somewhat relieved. "Of course!"

Morris wasn't sure what the blonde had been expecting her to request, but she accepted the reaction. As Valia took up a quill and began scribing neat lines of Haran whilst chatting happily, Morris looked around the room again. She was finally here and although it had been somewhat easier than she expected, she was finally joining the fabled Guild of Dragons.

(URGH Not happy with this post but eh. I am so out of practice haha! Comments are much appreciated and all are read <3 - SR)

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Prologue 2

Aluredus stood in the centre of a large hall fidgeting slightly. He had barely barely touched the food that had been brought to him at midday. His nails were all chewed and he was now idly scratching at the metal band on his wrist. Facing him was a long table, behind which were seated four representatives from each of the major guilds in Eli Vocis. Behind him stood Farius and the other guardians who had been caring for him here at the refuge, although their presence was little comfort. He had not made any friends.

There had been an awkward silence as the guild members got settled and produced various notes and materials from bags or the arms of attendants. Only one had nothing. Aluredus felt his gaze drawn by the tall man with bright red hair. He felt an icy chill as he met the redhead's eyes, as though he was naked to his very soul.

The first voice to break the silence made him start "Do you have any scrolls?" Aluredus struggled to place the voice. It came from a hook nosed man in his early fifties. He had the look of someone who could smell something unpleasant, and his voice only furthered that impression "Ed-u-cation."

Aluredus' voice shook nervously "You mean like GCSEs?"

"If that is what they call them in your world." Aluredus shook his head meekly. "Then are you a traded apprentice?" He shook his head again feeling thoroughly shamed. "Any job?" No reaction was needed. The youth was still and his head was bowed.

"I suppose combat experience is also out of the question." This time the hook-nosed man was speaking to Farius, who merely shrugged. Aluredus felt an uncomfortable hot prickle across his face as he caught the guardian's expression out of the corner of his eye, and lowered his gaze to stare directly at the floor. Wishing this was over.

The hook nosed man cleared his throat, the youth did not raise his head "Then I am out." There was a flurry of paper sounds as fingers were clicked and a young boy stepped forward to take his master's effects. The hook nosed man flounced out of the room followed by his tottering apprentice, struggling under the weight of far too many books and scrolls for such an occasion.

Aluredus looked up quickly to watch him leave, and once again found the piercing stare of the man with red hair. He quickly averted his gaze.

There was a short pause, before the dark haired woman seated at the end of the table began to ask her questions. Aluredus found her very easy to look at. Her hair was long and curled, swept casually to one side and fastened with a cobalt blue ribbon. Her guild colours were much more obvious than the man who had just left, and contrasted vividly with the pristine white fur of her stole. She ignored the youth completely and instead addressed Farius. "How many languages can he speak?"

"Just ours."

"Even with Alia's blessing?" Aluredus frowned, he was following the conversation back and forth with his eyes, half turned so that he could see Farius clearly. The guardian had mentioned this blessing to him before but he didn't fully understand what it meant or why it was.

"That has unfortunately worn off. His native tongue has been replaced."

"How much of the world has he seen?" There was no pause after her questions. Her voice had a musical quality, and Aluredus wished that she would never stop talking and found himself feeling irritated whenever Farius replied.

"Just the inside of the refuge."

"Did you travel much in your homeland?" The youth shook his head, the furthest the had ever been was to the lake district on a school trip. He was suddenly filled with dread that she would not want him either. He hadn't thought to ask the guardians what would happen if he couldn't find a guild. "At all?" He shook his head again. "I cannot take him as he is."

Aluredus' gaze returned to the floor utterly dejected. The woman did not leave the room and sat back in her chair. He did not hear her voice again. There was another deep silence, before the kindly old man with little circular glasses cleared his throat.

"W-what s-sort of lessons d-d-did you enjoy at school?" He had a stammer, and kept looking nervously at the man with red hair who was still staring fixedly at the youth.

"I liked tech." Aluredus smiled as he remembered the only lesson where he was ever praised for anything "We made furniture in year eleven. It was good"

"Y-you like w-working with your hands? W-with w-w-wood?" The old man beamed whilst fumbling for some papers, looking down to quickly flick through a list of names.

"Yeah." The youth looked hopeful that he might actually get to do something he enjoyed, and for the first time completely forgot about the icy sensation that had been constant throughout the interview so far.

"W-w-would you be w-w-willing to become an apprentice?" The old man's finger rested on one name in particular, he was smiling happily as he looked back up at the youth. Aluredus was suddenly filled with anticipation, and just as he opened his mouth to reply; the redhead finally spoke and cut him short.

"I will take him" His voice was deep and cold. Both the youth and the kindly old guild-master started at the sound of it. The redhead stood.

"W-what?" The old man looked crestfallen at the loss of a potential apprentice, he kept his finger in the same place on the list although his hand was trembling.

"Farius, get him ready." The guardian bowed his head and sent an orderly scurrying off to the little room where Aluredus had spent most of his time over the past few months. The thought of leaving with the cold redhead made the youth feel dread in his stomach. The little room wasn't much but it felt safe.

"B-b-but with all due respect, I hardly think that he-d-d be s-suited for your l-line of w-w-w-work!" The youth suddenly felt a great deal of warmth towards the old man for trying to fight his case and was about to open his mouth to join in but was silenced by a filthy glare from Farius.

The redhead spoke again "Rest assured master smith. If we cannot train him we will send him to you." his voice was no less cold, but his intent was crystal clear. He turned to leave.

"S-s-surely the boy should have a choice!" Aluredus smiled at the old man but accepted his fate. He had a horrible sinking feeling that no matter what his choice he would be headed to the same place eventually. The redhead seemed like the kind of man who you didn't second guess, and whom you definitely didn't refuse.

"You will not receive a better offer than this." Farius' voice also sounded cold in contrast to the old man, but his comment was not necessary. The youth had already made up his mind.

"I will go with him" the youth nodded towards the redhead, afraid to point, and as surprised as Farius at how meek and small he sounded. The old man sighed.

"W-w-w-well if y-you change your mind then the Craftsman's Guild is on the market square." He tottered over to Aluredus and pressed a flat wooden seal into his hand. It bore the device of two intertwined willow stems between a hammer and a chisel. At the same time and almost as if summoned from thin air, the orderly returned with a small box containing the youth's few possessions and offered it forward with the lid raised.

Inside were the tracksuit and the trainers. The boxers had probably been destroyed. Aluredus wasn't really sorry to see them go. He smiled at the orderly and accepted the box. Closing the lid, he turned to find that the redhead was already walking off towards the door forcing the youth to break into a trot to keep step.

The hall was apparently one of the main entrances to the Refuge. Their ride was already waiting in the carriage porch. The redhead stood by its open door for Aluredus to alight. The youth quickly scurried past, and his new master entered the vehicle behind him closing the door with a firm clap. There was an unfamiliar lurch as the driver pulled away and out into the rain.


The carriage was covered and although they were dry, the rain pattered loudly off the windows and roof. Aluredus moved closer to the window as they came to the end of the driveway and rejoined the main road. The carriage swung round towards the city and he saw the exterior of the refuge for the first time. It was a seemingly haphazard collection of circular towers and turrets arranged over a steep hill and surrounded by a low wall. The hall they had just been stood in, was the only part of the building with recognisable corners.

The refuge stood nestled at the feet of a great mountain. A quick glance out of the other window confirmed that they were travelling across the steep plain between the mountains and the sea. Aluredus returned to watching the refuge slide away to be replaced by wooded hills with barren peaks stripped clean by the wind. His companion merely sat staring out towards the ocean.

Now that he was no longer under the piercing gaze, the youth felt some of his courage returning. He tried to break the silence "Why did you take me?"

The redhead did not answer and continued to look out of the window.

The youth cleared his throat and tried again. "What is the guild called?"

"The Guild of Dragons" The redhead's voice was still deep though here in the carriage it was a lot less cold.

The youth fidgeted slightly, before asking "Are they-?"

"Real? No." More silence. Now that the refuge was out of sight, Aluredus studied the redhead's features properly for the first time. He realised that his new master's eyes were the same violent shade of crimson as his hair and found it odd that he hadn't noticed it in the hall. He had also never seen hair that long or that particular shade, it was tied at the back of his neck with a simple black ribbon. He was neither feminine nor masculine in his looks, and his skin was a the kind of coffee shade that comes with working outdoors. From his posture and the way his dark coloured robes sat on his frame, Aluredus could see that whatever it was that his new master did for the guild it was probably quite physical.

He was also definitely giving off the unmistakable air of a man who did not want to talk at length, but the youth's mind was buzzing with uncertainty, and he found himself unable to keep quiet "So why me?"

To his surprise, the redhead answered almost immediately "Those bands you wear. They are not merely a precaution given to every out-lander in the refuge. They are only given to those touched by Jadus."

Aluredus frowned and scratched his head and was momentarily disgusted at the length of his hair "I don't understand" The carriage jolted over a pothole bumping the youth uncomfortably into it's wooden sides. His new master was unmoved and answered coolly.

"You have magic. We shall train you. Protect you. In return you will work with us."

"What? Why?" The redhead fixed him with a casual stare. Once again Aluredus felt an icy chill as though he were being seen through to the very core "I mean, 'not why should I work wiv you'. Why do I have magic?"

Again the answer was not far behind the question, the youth still fixed under his new master's gaze "You probably always have. It just doesn't manifest in your world."


The redhead looked away back out into the rain towards the sea. "Peace."

"Because of peace?" Aluredus was even more confused now than he was before the road jostled them again, but it did not shake the frown as he tried to figure things through. If he didn't know better he would have sworn he saw a flicker of a smile from the other side of the carriage. The red eyes were looking back in his direction although the chilly sensation was not present this time.

"Peace means; be quiet."

"Oh. Ok." He gave one last furtive glance to the man from the Guild of Dragons, who was again gazing out of the window "Sorry"

The rest of the carriage ride was silent. With only the sound of driven rain and the clatter of hoof and wheel to fill the long drive from Refuge Rock to the city walls of Eli Vocis. Somehow though Aluredus was no longer nervous in the slightest.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Prologue 1

The grey tracksuit lay neatly folded on a carved wooden chair, nearby were a pair of almost pristine sports trainers and some boxer shorts that had seen better days. All three looked entirely alien amongst the fine tapestries and ornate furnishing of the small bed-chamber.

A figure sat on the foot of the bed slowly massaging his temples. He was wearing long sea green robes decorated with various crests and devices in white embroidery. His hood was lowered and his almost jet black hair was ruffled. Everything about his posture, and the slight twitch in one eye pointed to a man in the heavy grip of utter exasperation. The source of which stood on the other side of the room examining himself in a full length mirror.

"Mate, these are proper uncomfortable," the youth by the mirror couldn't have been more than seventeen or eighteen years old. He was wearing a long orange tunic and dark trousers tucked into a pair of thick leather boots and his hair had grown out awkwardly to sit moppish "I look like one of them f'ckin queerbos from the Drama course."

The figure on the bed did not move at all "Everyone dresses like that here, and would you please. Stop. Swearing."

The youth carried on unfazed "Ahhh, and, AND if this is some kind of f'ckin parallel world bollocks how come you can speak my language? Ferry or Ferrow or whatever your f'ckin name is."

The tiny circular motions stopped and fists were clenched as the figure glared over at the youth who was still preening himself in front of the mirror "My name, is Farius. And we have been over this. We cannot speak your language, you are speaking ours."

"Yeah but I still don't even get how I got here though mate."

Farius closed his eyes and recited his explanation with the tone of a man repeating himself for the last time "Every twelve years there is a powerful storm called the Criaethas, and your people always wash up here below the cliffs of Eli Vocis. Nowhere else; just here. It is the reason the city was built, and it is where we found you. Close to death, half drowned and thankfully unconscious."

The youth turned away from the mirror as Farius spoke, and started tugging at his own tunic sleeves nervously. "Anno but, f'ckin why?" The mask of contempt he had been wearing since he regained said consciousness was starting to crack, and the faint traces of fear were creeping in.

Farius was blind to it. Even if his eyes weren't closed he still wouldn't have noticed. He remained where he was, fists still clenched, voice still full of frustrated irritation. "We do not know, and I do not care. You are awake, you are healthy enough, and you are no longer my charge. We will find you a guild this afternoon."

As Farius opened his eyes the youth turned away so his face was hidden "F'ckin guild? Whatever 'at is. I ain't one of them f'ckin World of Wallcraft dick'eds."

"Because Guilds are the only way for outsiders like you to find work in this country, and god be damned if I am training you for the Palace Exams given the trouble you seem to have with even basic social etiquette." The last three words were emphasized with borderline malice.

The youth jolted as though Farius had stabbed him and spun around wearing a filthy scowl "Not my f'ckin fault mate av got dys-"

"Stop. Swearing." Teeth gritted and patience totally worn thin, Farius rose from the bed and took a little wooden box from a small table below the window. Opening it, he presented the contents to the youth whose expression suddenly melted into wide-eyed admiration at the sight of precious metal "These are a precaution. It is the last gift that you will receive from me, along with your new name."

"Ahh sweet," The youth happily removed the contents, putting two golden rings on each wrist, and started to examine the circlet with his hands to see how it opened "What new name?"

"Two of those are for your ankles, and that goes around your neck not your head, the clasp is there." Farius waited for the youth to put his new gifts on properly, barely hiding a wicked smile at the yelp and stream of expletives that came as the circlet and rings tightened to fit each limb exactly "You have been adopted into the de Farunelle family, and your new Elizan name is Aluredus."

"But av already got a name though-"

"Your name is now Aluredus de Farunelle, and you must not ever take those off." Farius scowled as Aluredus nervously scratched at the ring around his neck, which sat tight with only a finger's width between the metal and his skin.


"They are to protect you. Powerful magic has a habit of manifesting in your people, those inhibitors will make sure that it does not arise in you." Farius retrieved his cloak from the bed as he spoke and raised his hood.

"What?" The fear on Aluredus' face was plain to see. The penny was beginning to drop.

Farius opened the door and stood half in the room and half in the stone corridor beyond "The Maithans are currently hunting and burning all those accused of magic. We did not spend all this time and effort in reviving you just to have you torn apart by some witch hunter's mob." He allowed himself a glance back at the youth, who stood in the centre of the small room finally realising the gravity of his situation. Instead of pity, a grim satisfaction arose in the guardian and he felt vindicated. "The guild recruiters will be here in two hours. I will bring you some food before you meet them, and please-"

"No more swearing, got it." The door closed behind the guardian, and Aluredus was left alone and shaken. He sat warily on the edge of the bed, glancing back at where he had supposedly been unconscious for the better part of a month. The light grew dim and there was a faint patter as it started to rain.

This really wasn't a dream. He wasn't going to wake up and have a cigarette. There was no take-away dinner tonight and no more texts from the girl he was after. There he was alone in a strange castle in an even stranger world totally out of his comfort zone, and worst of all he wasn't even himself anymore. Dan Smitty was dead. Aluredus was the only one here now.

"Ahh why'd I have to be such a dick'ed?" He flopped backwards and stared at the vaulted cieling talking to himself outloud "Bet Farry hates me now..." He sniffed loudly and rubbed at his eyes. Crying was totally out of the question so he rolled on one side and pretended to sleep.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Well hi there

This will eventually be lots of different stories about lots of different things, but mostly the people who live in a fantasy world that doesn't exist. There will be forbidden magic, scheming princesses, holy wars, and all that other stuff that makes this genre so overpopulated and fun <3

I am not sure when I will begin updating.

Watch this space!