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Maladrid tales of domi.., p.16

Maladrid - [Tales Of Dominhydor: Book One], page 16

 

Maladrid - [Tales Of Dominhydor: Book One]
 


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  CHAPTER TEN

  “Wake up, Maladrid.”

  “Where are we?” Maladrid mumbled sleepily.

  “We’re back in the Eastern Freelands,” Yven said and pulled Maladrid to his feet.

  “How did we get here? How long was I asleep?”

  “They brought us over several days, but don’t worry; amnesia seems to be a common symptom of traveling by Colc,” Yven replied. “We’re somewhere between Colytaer and the southern end of the Forest of the Yaermaca now.”

  “What about Dordin and Nonwe? Where’s the rest of the army?”

  “They’re on their way. A flock of Mosecora passed by this morning and delivered a message from the others. They should be here by tonight, tomorrow morning at the latest. Even better, the Wa-D’tila of Panydor have joined with them, and the Wa-D’tila of Milydor are coming from the south to meet us as well. We may not have the Hohmara numbers I anticipated, but we’re still building quite an army.”

  “That’s good news, and it’s been a while since we’ve had any of that,” Maladrid said as he smiled and gazed into Yven eyes.

  For a moment he was lost in her and felt that she, too, was lost in him. A slow blink quickened his pulse and she could see the change dance through his body.

  “Where’s Daradis?” he asked.

  “The Colc took him back to Tirydor so he could council with the Rani there and persuade them to join us.”

  Maladrid sighed, sat down on the grass, and massaged his temples. They were surrounded by very large trees that gave off a dark green hue in the setting sun, but Maladrid couldn’t bring himself to bask in the milieu’s loveliness.

  “Are you all right?” Yven asked and sat beside him.

  “When I started out, I didn’t know my destination or my purpose, and even through all the time we’ve spent together, I’m still not sure what use I can be to you. I’m not this Irlywe you speak of, Yven. I couldn’t save you at the Isilmaerte, and I couldn’t help you defeat the Lyraera as well as you deserved. Now we are about to meet the darkest foe of all, and I’m terrified. I don’t want to lose this war, Yven, but I don’t know how I can help you win it.”

  “Maladrid, you were chosen for a reason, just as we all were. If you don’t believe in yourself, know that I believe in you. Yaliwe has built our paths and we must all walk them. So, Maladrid, will you walk with me? I know that there are horrible shadows looming, but will you walk with me?” she asked as she laid her wooden fingers gently upon his hand.

  “Yven, Yaliwe pale e ia ve,” he whispered as he reached out and caressed her cheek with curled fingers, but just as the distance between them began to close, the ground suddenly rumbled; it was so slight that they nearly dismissed it, but it came again, stronger and louder.

  They peered into the distance and saw a group of black dots, approaching speedily and immediately, Maladrid and Yven grabbed their gear and quickly climbed up into a tree. Once they were hidden, they cautiously peered out from the clusters of spade-shaped leaves, but they couldn’t discern anything about those approaching except that there were a lot of them.

  “Ho there!” a voice rang from the distance. “No need to bolt so!”

  As the party approached, Maladrid could make out the figures of fifteen Wa-D’tila with shining coats and heavy hoofs beating against the earth, and upon a few of their backs were Rani riders with their long hair whipping in the rushing wind. Bringing up the rear of the approaching company were Dordin, Daradis, the Yaerla, and the Bartosca, causing Maladrid and Yven to joyfully descend the tree.

  “Well met, Queen Yven and Maladrid,” said a silvery Wa-D’tila with dark gray freckles and a jet black mane that he shook out of his eyes. “I am Raleni, lord of the Wa-D’tila of Panydor. If you grant me the honor, I offer you my army as surely as I offer my life.”

  “You are very welcome here, Raleni, as is your army,” Yven said and bowed humbly to the Wa-D’tyla.

  One of the Rani dismounted and fell to a knee at Yven’s feet. His robe was emerald, but when he moved, speckles of aquamarine shone in the fabric. His hair was dark as night and hung far past his shoulders, and in his deep gray eyes was the permanent gaze of grief.

  “I am Lislo, king of the Rani of Tirydor. Daradis told us of your mission, and it would do us great honor if you would allow us to have some part in it. My brother, Panle of Cyn-Ros, also seeks to join your ranks and will soon be with us.”

  “Yaliwe bless you all for coming. An army as diverse as this hasn’t joined together since the overthrow of Forla, and I know that Shacore will fall to it just as quickly as that demon did,” Yven pronounced.

  As the soldiers fashioned makeshift beds and sat around the campfires, Dordin nuzzled against Yven, glad for her safety, and Nonwe led the Yaerla in a sweet song.

  “Though the road may have twists

  We shall abide them.

  And the tossing waves of the sea

  By Yaliwe, we shall ride them.

  May never the sun of Her eyes burn away.

  Keep the stars of Her body to light another day.

  And we’ll be silent as stones

  In the water’s flow;

  To go, and never stop, to go,

  Until we are safe again, to go.”

  Deep night fell fast, and while the others slept soundly, Maladrid couldn’t keep his eyes closed. He’d never felt so awake; his mind raced with the adventures he’d undertaken and the adventures yet to come, and eventually, he abandoned his bed and began strolling around the trees and through the downy grass that tickled his ankles. The air was almost sweet as he strode along taking deep, fulfilling breaths, and as he walked, he was suddenly taken by a swell of song that coursed leisurely over his tongue.

  “Once there was a maiden

  In the delicious times of life.

  She found herself a lover

  To make her hence a wife.

  And to that man she gave

  Her heart and all her soul

  The pledge to live for him alone

  Until the world grew old.

  But darkness took her castle

  And evil took her love

  And her babe that slept silent

  Slept silent then above.

  All was death and grieving

  And the forest called her name.

  The leaves became her pillows,

  The soil would be her grave.

  But the lady did not die

  And she lingered for her sorrow

  And hope that the sun would rise

  For her on each tomorrow.

  And just when she thought

  Her life forever lost

  Through the weeping forest,

  A loving stranger crossed.

  He filled her life with laughter;

  He filled her life with jest

  And she lived in true happiness—

  Until the stranger left.

  And so her tears resumed

  But the stranger then returned

  When he realized his love for her

  The future in them burned.”

  “What a sad song,” a tender voice said from the darkness. “I didn’t mean to interrupt, but it was just so sad. I’m not sure if I can handle it tonight.”

  Her hair was ablaze in the moonlight and Maladrid bowed to Yven as she entered the clearing.

  “It gets happier,” Maladrid said.

  “How does it end?”

  “With a child,” he replied. “My mother used to sing it to my brother and me.”

  “You have a brother? Where is he?”

  “I’m not sure. He left a few years ago,” Maladrid answered. “I’m afraid much of my life is even sadder than the song.”

  “We all have sadness, Maladrid. I’m sure there was happiness in your life as well.”

  “Yes, but it seems so long ago. Nowadays, happiness seems forced.”

  “All happiness?” she asked as she laid her hand on top of his and met
his eyes with poignant fervor.

  “My Queen and friend,” he said, “you are the truest thing I know and the greatest creature I’ve ever met. What you’ve taught me will live forever in my soul, and your touch will live there also. Thanks to you, I do know my course and understand my place. And at last, with your aid, perhaps I can be happy once again.”

  “I wish I could help you with that, Maladrid,” she whispered as she withdrew her hand and lowered her head. “But this is a story of freedom and survival, and time is running short. What I could say would quicken our hearts, but it would not quicken the journey to save our lives. Without freedom, we could never live as our hearts desire.”

  “You truly are the daughter of a king. Your father would be proud of you, Yven.”

  “Maladrid, don’t sing my praises. Sing of joy. Sing of love, but do not sing of me.”

  “Yven, a song composed in admiration of you is one of joy and love. Don’t reject what you are and what you presence does to those who follow you.”

  She shook her head with her eyes closed and when she opened them, two heavy tears fell and stained her cheeks with glistening lines.

  “Please,” she whispered. “I’m not blind, and I don’t want to push you away, but if this is revealed, those who mean to harm me will go through you. I cannot risk it, and I don’t mean to. But you will always remain.”

  She bent down and ran her twiggy fingers across his cheek.

  “Always, my friend.”

  “The world will always need you more than I,” he said. “Always and ever.”

  She forced a smile through the grief and hung her head.

  “Do you remember being a child, Maladrid?” she asked.

  “Yes, of course. Why?”

  “Because I don’t. I remember being a princess but never a child. Did you play? Did you roam?”

  “Yes, milady.”

  “There were times in the dark when I would gaze up from my window and dream about being in the stars.”

  “Everyone has had such dreams, Yven. Everybody wants to be more.”

  “But I am already everything. The world is upon my shoulders and I cannot will my foot to take another step, but the world is stationary until I move. How do I move? Even with you at my side, I find it hard to move.”

  “Perhaps it is because I am at your side.”

  “No,” she said as she grasped his hand. “I need the white light of Yaliwe upon me, and that is you. You drew me in and led me to my destiny.”

  “Yven, you are the leader.”

  “Yes, but I followed my heart to find you. I left Donir alone because I knew that all I needed lay before me. And I found you. You were my beginning, but no one dwells upon the end like a sovereign. The end is always upon me because of my blessed blood.”

  “And because of it, you were also denied a childhood, but look at all you’ve gained: a world to admire you, to follow you, a life that will linger in song and story long after you are gone.”

  “That time will come soon, I fear,” she whispered.

  “Don’t sell yourself short.”

  “Things are changing, Maladrid. For one, the night is quickly becoming day and we’ve not seen our beds.”

  “Has the time passed so quickly?”

  “It always does.”

  “Then I will bid you a good night, milady, although I must say that seeing your face in the moonlight is not an easy sight to leave behind. It’s rivaled only by the look of your face in the sun.”

  “You flatter, my lord.”

  “Only to honor the truth,” he replied with a bow.

  Maladrid walked back to camp knowing that it might never get any better than that, but he was completely satisfied in the knowledge.

  The next morning was hot but possessed a cool breeze that soothed the fiery strokes of the sun. Each traveler had his own canteen filled with icy water from the Galaelis, which they crossed in the early morning. Yven was resolved to avoid going over the Hara-gis-Maerte, for the journey over the mountains could delay the mission for almost a month. Raleni suggested a stop in Milydor, home of his cousin Iotyle, the lady of the Wa-D’tila, to secure further numbers, but after much deliberation, it was decided that instead of stopping, a great outcry for help was to be sent throughout Dominhydor by way of the Mosecora. Since most of the Mosecora had vanished from the skies and taken up residence in Colytaer, the former land of the Coltina would be their next destination. It would take nearly a week to get there, but since there were no better options, Yven was forced to accept the delay.

  “When the Coltina switched to the Dark Lady’s side, they abandoned Colytaer in favor of Lochydor,” Nonwe explained to Maladrid as they journeyed. “Now it only houses an arm of the Galaelis and the refuge of the Mosecora, but it is still a dangerous place. Evil was done there, and evil always leaves an impression upon the land.”

  “The Achnora pass through Colytaer as well,” Yven added. “I doubt we’ll encounter any; they should be in Lochydor making preparations by now, but we should be on alert anyway.”

  Even though the ground was hard and craggy with Colti, there were still a great deal of trees clustered across the land, and even though the trunks and branches were as hard and white as the earth, their leaves still fluttered in the brisk breeze. Yven’s army expected the Mosecora to appear instantly when they entered Colytaer, but they saw no sign of them nor heard the flutter of friendly wings, and after nearly six hours since crossing into Colytaer, the army grew uneasy.

  “Where are they?” Maladrid asked.

  “They’re holed up, no doubt. Even the skies are perilous these days. Besides, we’ve not yet reached the palace.”

  “Palace?”

  “It was built by the Erfira,” Daradis said. “They briefly lived in Colytaer because this is where their Farwe fell. But the Coltina came soon after, drove the Erfira out, and claimed the land for themselves.”

  When the palace at last came into sight, it was still a few miles away, but it was clearly massive. The trees that grew around and through the frame made it a great twisted fortress forged of rock and root that cast a long shadow over the advancing army. The keep was riddled with holes through which barbed weeds grew in tangles, and the curtain wall had been smashed to a pile of rubble. Yven pushed open the splintered castle door and the rusty hinges creaked sharply. When the cloud of dust billowing about the foyer cleared, the dismal desolation of the palace’s interior was revealed.

  “Hello? Is anyone here?” Yven called.

  “Maybe they’re all in flight.”

  A light flutter echoed through the hall, followed by a soft squawk, but before the soldiers could question the noise, the foyer became filled with a cacophony of caws. From hidden nooks, a covey of wing, beak, and talon rushed over and around them until it broke into many directions and finally settled on the many branches and stones jutting out from the walls. The Mosecora hopped around joyfully on their perches with their great wings fanned, and though they were far less formidable than their flying friends, the Colc, their acutely hooked beaks and razor-sharp talons were clearly nothing to be dismissed.

  “Well met, Queen Yven and good warriors of Dominhydor,” announced the largest of the Mosecora, who wore a spiky crown of Colti upon his head of rich brown feathers. “I am Mi-gis-Mil, high captain of the Mosecora, and on behalf of my brothers and sisters, I welcome you to our refuge.”

  “Do you know why we’ve come?” Yven asked.

  “Of course. You need us in a courier capacity, and we will accept the task. I regret that we cannot do more, but we remained confident that you would find some part for us to play in this battle, be it a small one.”

  “This is an extremely large part that you would play, Mi-gis-Mil,” Nonwe stated. “If this message you deliver recruits more soldiers, then we have a good chance of winning this battle, and when the Anjila have been conquered, you can reclaim the skies.”

  “But even if no one comes to our aid, we are in your debt,” Maladrid ad
ded.

  “All of Dominhydor shall know that because of you that there is work to be done: Yaliwe’s work,” Yven pronounced. “They will know that we will not stand idly by and let Shacore take what is ours. They will know that light shall reign over shadow. That is the message, my Lord; what becomes of it depends on you.”

  “My kin and I shall speak it like fire in the field. Not one creature from Tylira to Morc shall ignore the queen’s message,” Mis-gis-Mil declared. “For the first time in centuries, each and every Mosecora shall take to the sky and cross this land as a proud clan again.”

  Yven’s army knelt before the creatures, and when their heads touched the floor, the Mosecora sounded their noble cry and pushed off from their perches. The prodigious flock swooped down over the genuflecting Li and out of the palace, and they flooded the sky with their earth-colored bodies and spread like fingers of Yaliwe stretching across the world.

  Over the next few weeks, the fellowship bided their time. They remained hidden in the twisted palace of Colytaer and only left the sanctuary in order to fetch fresh water from the Galaelis. As they waited patiently for the return of the Mosecora, three Tylira joined them from Dorydor, two from Bali-Ros, ten of Milydor’s Wa-D’tila, and one morning, Maladrid awoke to two newly arrived Rani from Cyn-Ros cooking a fabulous feast of grass Morcs and berries. The Rani had ridden with a new group of Bartosca from Deydor, and Yven’s army couldn’t have been more ecstatic, until the next day when three more Rani arrived from Tirydor, coupled with Wa-D’Tila from Panydor.

  “I am pleased that there are so many of you who believed enough in this quest to come so very far. I know the journey has been long and weary, but because of it, now I have little doubt in my heart that we will be victorious. Yaliwe, be praised. She has brought us her finest warriors,” Yven proclaimed; her eyes swept across her allies until they fell on Maladrid, and a great smile crossed her face.

  He forced his reciprocating smile because in truth he didn’t feel worthy of her compliment, but when she marched over to him and lifted his eyes to meet hers, she whispered, “Her finest warriors.”

  “Let’s to bed, milady,” Nonwe suggested. “We have quite a trek to begin in the morning.”

 
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