Xxai'Lon daKhaan Maquesti

I've written this as a back story for one of the characters in the upcoming novels I'm currently working on. Much of what is written is based on actual characters role-played in the Dungeons and Dragons genre by my friends and I . 

This “behind the scenes” peek into the story line of the Elven weapon-master, Xxai'Lon, Prince of the House Maquesti, is dedicated to my good friend, Jason Webb. 

May your blades always guide you on your journey ~ Zzorhn

Version 2.0
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The horse's hoof streaked through the air, narrowly missing the man's throat, and it was only the nimbleness of the leather-bound warrior that allowed him dodge the kick from the powerful warhorse. The dirt and dust flung into the air by the horses had become a choking fog.

An angry snort brought a tight smile to the lone warrior's face. He heard the attack from behind, and dodged to the side as two massive front hooves came crashing down where he had been but mere seconds before. The charging horse lashed out, pawing at the air trying to hit the man, but the fighter blocked the attack with a  hard wooden staff. He broke out in a big grin. and announced, “You missed me Reazghul”, only to barely jump out of the way as the huge head of the warhorse arced upwards with tremendous force. The fighter back-flipped away from the charging beast.

Two more of the massive heavy horses attacked without warning, flanking the fighter who was armed only with the wooden staff. Snapping and biting, kicking and and slashing, they attacked simultaneously. Any mere mortal would have been struck down immediately from the well-coordinated attacks of the massive animals, however, this was no ordinary man. The skill and precision of each block and evasion depicted extensive study and dedication. Every single muscle snapped and coiled in perfect harmony as the warrior danced, and twirled. The staff was a blur as it struck at the steel-hard hooves and slapped away the swinging heads and gnashing teeth.

He ducked as one of the horses lunged at him. The sharp, powerful hooves of the animal whistled as they cut through the air. It landed on the other side of the lone fighter, and immediately kicked backwards with its hind legs. By mere reflex, the fighter back-flipped away from the exceptional attack.

Again and again, the horses lunged and charged. The dust was heavy and thick, making it hard to see as it swirled underfoot and hung in the summer sun. The fighter was dripping from sweat as he somehow narrowly defended himself each time from the vicious attacks.

Suddenly a shrill whistle split the air, and the thundering of the hooves immediately stopped. The lone fighter slowly straightened himself, and squinted through the hazy dust. The four horses, each easily dwarfing the man by at least twice, trotted up behind the fighter, greeting him with heartfelt cheers in the form of whinnies and prancing. They filed together and stood still behind the man, quietly waiting; sweat dripping from their well-muscled bodies as they quietly nickered and protested about the stinging flies.

Through the dust a figured emerged. He was draped in the traditional garb of the nomadic tribe, and wearing lightly-coloured silk robes with a matching cowl. Made of exotic fabric from the Southern portion of the Elven Kingdom and imbued with powerful dweamers,. the magically-enhanced loose-fitting clothing offered enchantments from the savage elements, as well as, a host of other benefits. The King of the White Elves, clapped in pleasure. “Bravo Xxai'Lon! A most wonderful display”, he cheered. His long, white hair spilled from the cowl of his robes ; a typical trademark of the nomad Elves was the long, white mane sported by the warriors of the clan. Even the horses matched their Elven counter part, with tanned brown hair, and long white manes.

The leather-bound warrior knelt on his knees, and laid the wooden staff in front of himself, bowing low. In reverence, he simply replied, “Father”.

The King nodded in respect and lifted his hands, “Rise”, he commanded. He waited for the younger Elf to stand, chuckling slightly in mirth, and admitted, “That was a very fine display Xxai'Lon”. He smiled at the well muscled physique of his oldest son, his cold blue flashing in the sun,“You weren't that bad either”, he teased.

Xxai'Lon feigned a pout, and turned to face the warhorses behind him. “You hear that Shearda? Reazghul? Father loves you best!” The two large horses lifted their heads and whinnied. He chuckled and turned back to face his father, and asked, “What news from the tribes?”

The old King sadly shook his head. He cleared his throat and in grave tones replied, “Not good, I'm afraid. The encroaching army of the humans from the West does not bode well as it's obvious the Wood Elves have hired mercenaries”. He straightened himself, and spoke with the same regalia reserved for private court, “The Wood Elves have opened their lands to the humans, and now threaten the peace for several of the smaller tribes living in the lands beyond the great forest”. He looked at his son and sadly shook his head, as he said, “Our Kingdom is being called to war”.

“We should make preparations then”, answered Xxai'Lon, throwing his shoulders back and snapping to a salute. He turned to the horses behind him, whistled melodiously, and snapped several orders, “Shearda, take my father back to the village. Reazghul, I need to be at the War Council immediately! The rest of you go with your King!”

Like any well trained military, the horses sprung into action. The two warhorses bowed low beside the nomadic warriors, and nickered as they deftly helped the Elves climb on their massive backs. The instant the Elves were seated on the bare backs of the intelligent animals, they flew from the small valley like an arrow fired from a bow.

The thundering hooves tore into the earth as the King rode towards Dal'Gurho, homeland of the Horse Lords. While the nomadic Elves were known to migrate each year, the palace of the High-lord served as more than just a pedestal from where a king could rule. Strategically located directly in the middle of the migration trail, it served as a storehouse, armoury, training grounds, and boasted both a military academy, and the largest Elven magic school on the continent! It was massive! Carved from magic, it was a beacon on the horizon for hundreds of Kilometres spiralling into the sky. The steel-glass spell allowed Elven architects to sculpt and shape to their hearts desire. The shimmering crystal palace sparkled in the setting sun, catching the sun's light like a prism and reflecting it in all shades and colours.

The Horse Lord Tribe, or White Elves, were renown for both their extreme mastery of magic, as well as, their special connection with the horses that roamed the great valley. They were rugged and preferred to travel, following the horse herds each year. They were proud, feared, and mysterious. Every member of the scattered tribes was raised to be both a skilled rider and a master of the various Elves weapons. By the age of two they had learned how to ride horses, and by five they've chosen one horse as their “Life Horse”, or “Coai Roch” [pronounced Koi-Roa]. Any offspring become like part of the family, and the extremely intelligent breed of wild horse connects with their Elven family due to the strong magical bond.

Rumours in other lands that speak of the tribal Elves are mixed with fear and mistrust. Legends tell of a savage, cold, race of evil Elves that can speak with animals. Outsiders, regardless of race dare not enter the lands of the White Elves, or challenge its mysterious, magical, cavalry. White Elves are brutal, ordered, and loyal. They live in peace with each other, but have no tolerance for any humanoid race. Every member serves in the mobile army, some with a blade, and some with sorcery. Preferred mounts for magic using White Elves, are flaming horses, or fiery griffons.

While his father headed to the citadel, Xxai'Lon streaked towards the war council in the North. The hooves of the horse were a blur, as the magnificent animal was given a magical speed boost by the Prince; he would never tire, never thirst, as well as, capable of running at least three times the regular speed of the noble animal.

The sun was setting in the deep blue sky by the time he reached the billowing tents of the war council. The camp was huge! A mobile army of several hundred, it too was nomadic and followed the tribes providing any manner of help. The elite army lived by a strict code, with both military support and boasting the most skilled healers of all the Elves. They were comprised of the kingdom’s brightest and best! The weapons, armour, and tactics used by the magical army were stuff of legend; the elegance of the Elves combined with the hardest, lightest metal known - Titanium. The Elven craftsman had perfected the art of smelting the rare metal, and when combined with Elven magic the titanium weapons were worth more than some kingdoms! The war tribunal was located in the centre of the camp and the silken tent was ten meters tall, with the banners fluttering twice as high. Xxai'Lon and Reazghul sped through the camp, the soldiers snapping to a crisp salute as the Elven Prince rode by.

The horse skidded to a stop in front of the heavily armed tent of the war tribunal's council. Xxai'Lon jumped easily from the bare back of the mighty warhorse, and ordered, “Go to the stables and eat, good friend”. He turned crisply to the guard rising up to meet him, “Good evening Sergeant! I trust our Lady finds you in good health”.

The younger elf flourished a salute, and barked, “Welcome back Lord MaQuesti! We are pleased to see you!” He gestured towards the tent, and grinned, “Your uncle is here. He bids you join him”. The guards at the door parted before the future King.

Still clad in the training armour, he strode through the entrance to the council chamber. The large wooden table that spanned the entire hall was covered in maps and figurines depicting troop movements, as well as, the various tribes. Seated around the table were several of the highest decorated warriors of the Elven kingdom. They all rose the moment the Prince stepped into the room. With a waved hand, the Prince demanded the council sit and continue.

Xxai'Lon took a seat at the head of the table, and a young Elven woman immediately brought him wine and a large platter of food. He hungrily tore into the fluffy fresh bread, and eagerly washed it down with fine wine. The war-council proceeded with matters of possible rumours of the human mercenaries encroaching on the the tribal land.

The Wood Elves maintained a steady trading business with the various races; humans, Dwarves, and many others were welcome to conduct open trade in the various lands past the woodland realm. The great forest was still off limits, however, to almost all but the most respectable and powerful humanoids, as the Wood Elves still maintained a strong mistrust of other races. Over the last hundred years there were skirmishes on the borders between the tribal Elves and the wood Elves, with the inevitable result of both sides building a large army being massed to wage war; the border had become a tinderbox!

Night came swiftly. Before long, the various members of the council began to wrap up their meeting and left to attend to other affairs. Xxai'Lon rose to his feet, and wearily addressed the remaining council members, “The hour is late, and I’m going to my tent”. He nodded at his uncle, and continued, “I’ll speak with you tomorrow Krakkhen. I wish to clean myself up, and sleep”.

The older elf bowed and curtly replied, “As you wish Xxai'Lon. I'll see you at breakfast”. Krakkhen smiled at his sister's oldest son, and nodded in deep respect. “It's good to see you again! I trust your sister is well”, he cooed.

Xxai'Lon nodded and grinned. “You and I both know that Ta'Anar is whatever she wants to be”, he jovially teased.

“Or whoever she wants to be”, quickly replied Krakkhen joining in the levity. He cleared his throat, and more sombrely added, “When my little sister gave birth to you and your twin, it was the proudest moment of my life!” His face split in a huge smile, “Who would have guessed that she would end up being one of the most powerful sorceresses the tribes have ever seen, while you became her match with the skill of a blade!” He took a deep breath, chuckled, and admitted, “Although we won't let her know we feel that way, right?”

Xxai'Lon embraced his uncle, and agreed, “She's already full of herself. I promise, I won't let my sister know she's thought of so highly”. He winked, smiled wearily, and sighed, “Although, it would be wonderful to see her soon”.

Krakkhen bowed again, and addressed his future King, “To bed Your Worship! Our frivolity can wait for the morning”. The older elf started to move toward the door of the council chambers, stopped, and turned back to look at his nephew with a wink, as he said, “Speaking of frivolity, I'm sure Tammerlain will be happy to see you again. It has been a long time since you left the halls of the Academy and joined our brethren of the war tribunal”. He nodded, and smiled as he added, “She's waiting for you”. He bowed low with respect, muttered, “Good night”, and marched out of the tent.

Xxai'Lon moved like an automaton through the camp. Everywhere he went he was greeted with crisp salutes and calls from warm friends. As the crown Prince, he was not only a exceptionally skilled Elven warrior and a fierce leader of the tribes, but he was also a confidant, guide, and proud example. Prince Xxai'Lon was the epitome of what every Elf could hope to attain through self discipline and skill with a blade. Trained by the absolute best, he was ranked number one in the military academy, and had broken many of the previously held records for accuracy, speed, and prowess. He was more than a mere warrior to his brothers and sisters of the elite war council that protected the Elven kingdom; he was their blood, their purpose.

As he approached his heavily guarded silk tent, he was greeted by a young, ambitious, female guard. She was dressed in the Royal regalia of the House MaQuesti, and her polished black and crimson leather armour shone in the flickering torch light. Two elegant Elven swords hung belted to her hips and her long, white hair was pulled back neatly. “Good evening, Majesty”, chirped the eager squire. She bowed low before her future King. “I've readied your armour, and prepared your quarters”, she purred.

Xxai'Lon saluted in return, and nodded as he replied, “Thank you, Tammerlain”. He started to enter the private tent, and turned back to address the beautiful Elven woman. In a formal voice, he demanded, “I have further need of you. One of the straps broke on my breast plate, and I can't reach it properly”.

The young woman blushed shyly. This was not the first time she had been invited into the Prince's private chambers. She raised her eyes to stare at the chiselled features of the handsome elf. Smiling inwardly, she bowed low, and murmured, “As my Lord demands”.

.....................

He woke with a sudden start! Lying in a pile of soft, silk blankets, he opened his eyes, and stared about the room. Beside him, the young Elven woman stirred slightly and smiled in her sleep. Her slender arm was wrapped around the waist of the naked Prince, and she sighed happily; dreaming of conquest, and riding into battle beside her future King and lover.

Xxai'Lon closed his eyes and listened intently to the sounds around the tent. It was late, and the fires outside were burning low. A soft glow coming from the small, wooden table on the other side of the room lit the chambers in a gentle shimmering blue; the orb that gently throbbed with magical energy was a childhood gift from his sister crafted during her first year at the academy. He kept it as a reminder that all things powerful, such as his magic loving twin, had simple beginnings. The gem-encrusted gold pedestal held the magic orb suspended, seemingly floating on air. His sister was as refined in her taste of decorations, as she was skilled in magic.

He opened his eyes uneasily. His highly trained senses knew something was wrong! He scanned the room, taking note of the meagre belongings in the small, heavy-silk tent. His black and crimson leather armour stood quietly in the corner. His twin Elven blades were purposely slung over the weapon rack beside the suit of armour, and glinted in the shimmering light. Xxai'Lon slowed his breathing and listened. He heard a slight snap of a twig outside, and the hair on his neck suddenly rose as adrenaline soared through his veins. He lightly shook the sleeping woman beside him, “Get up”, he hissed quietly.

Tammerlain groggily murmured, “What is it my love?” The blankets fell from her naked shoulders as she sat up in bed. Her long hair covered her face, and she brushed the thick mane from her eyes sleepily. “Xxai?”, she purred, looking deep into the eyes of her lover, “What is it, Majesty?”

“I don't know”, he whispered. Rising quickly, he began to dress. Tammerlain rolled over and propped herself up on a slender elbow, and watched him struggle with the straps of the studded leather armour in the pale light. She threw off the silk blankets, rose from the bed, padded quietly over to the man she loved, and silently helped him. Her touch was skilled, but gentle; she was a trained warrior, a skilled weapon-master, and an accomplished rider, but, she was also a woman and deeply loved this man. The law of the land gave the Prince the option to choose his bride and future Queen. There was no doubt as to whom he had already picked, as Elves mated for life. Their loyalty was unmatched! She and Xxai'Lon had met on the battlefield over a hundred years ago, and it was only a matter of time before she became his wife, as well as, his shield-mate. She gently ran her fingers over the hardened black leather encrusted with diamonds, and titanium rivets.

She pulled the etched leather weapon belt from the rack, and quietly handed it to Xxai'Lon. He quickly strapped the belt over his armour, and began to pull other smaller weapons from the rack; two boot daggers, a few throwing daggers, and several small, wickedly shaped, throwing-stars. One by one, he strapped them on his body, tucking them into hidden places that provided fast and easy access. Tammerlain picked up a hairbrush from the small table, and began to brush the long white hair of her lover. He turned and flashed a smile at the beautiful naked woman. “I love you”, he happily sighed.

Her eyes sparkled in the blue light of the shimmering orb. Her finely chiselled face broke into a shy smile, “I love you too, Xxai”, she purred dreamily.

“To bed, my sweet”, he quietly ordered. Pulling his shoulders back, he explained, “There's something wrong, but it doesn't need to interfere with your sleep. I'm sure it's nothing”. He kissed her passionately, and patted her firm, naked ass.

Tammerlain squealed and purred in happiness as she ran her fingers through the heavy mane of the man she loved. “Don't be too long”, she sighed. Turning, she walked back to the bed, and crawled under the covers.

Xxai'Lon stared at the exquisite woman as she climbed back into his bed. His heart skipped a beat, and he mused over the fact that she had always made him feel giddy, just like the first day they met. The way she moved, the way she smiled, her body..... He toyed with the notion of simply climbing back under the soft blankets, and taking her in his arms, kissing her.... He snapped, “I'll be back”, and strode from the tent.

The camp was quiet. Too quiet. As he stealthily flitted from shadow to shadow, he cautiously made his way to the war council in the middle of the camp. He knew something wasn't right, and as he secretly moved through the slumbering army his finely tuned senses began to take notice of the lack of guards patrolling the camp. He quickly found himself staring at the large silk tent of the council chambers. Immediately he knew there was a problem, as the four guards at their post were slumped over, snoring loudly. He cautiously tiptoed over to the closest guard, moving as quiet as a ghost. Xxai'Lon angrily snatched the hair of the slumbering guard, and pulled the elf's head back. The guard didn’t wake, snoring happily in a magically induced coma. The Prince suddenly realized they were under attack, and angrily let go the guard's head, and cursed through clenched teeth, “Unholy Vordian!”

A hiss from behind him, was the only warning. Instinctively the Prince wheeled around to find himself staring at a cloaked figure. Deftly, his fingers felt the hidden pouch of deadly throwing-stars, and in the blink of an eye unleashed a barrage of deadly projectiles at the hooded figure. The black cloaked man stumbled back in shock and fell over dead, twitching from the deadly poison coating the sharp barbs of the throwing-stars. Looking around in haste, Xxai'Lon scanned for another attack, but seeing none, swiftly walked over to the cloaked body. He tore back the hood, and hissed in disgust.

A wood elf. The white skin, and blonde hair immediately gave away the would-be assassins identify, and Xxai'Lon's heart jumped into his throat. The Elves of the woodland realm would not have ventured this far without help, and he would not have come alone! He pulled out a small ram's horn, placed the magical instrument to his lips, and blew a long battle note in the crisp, cold, air.

The camp exploded as soldiers stumbled from their tents. To Xxai'Lon's horror, he realized that most of the guards were not rising to help, and that they too were somehow sleeping through the assault. “Crimson death! A sleep spell!”, he cursed aloud. Roaring loud, he commanded, “Get up you lazy sacks of dung! The tribunal is under attack!” Xxai'Lon pulled out a small vial of clear liquid, and swallowed the contents in one gulp. Immediately, he became invisible! He unsheathed his twin Elven long swords, and slowly scanned the camp.

Every fibre, every instinct of the weapon-master was intensified! His hearing was magically enhanced, his infravision allowed him the ability to see heat sources at great distance, and the innate abilities of the White Elves granted him the ability to cast some spells such as blink, faerie fire, illusions, levitation, darkness, sleep spells, and much more! As he expertly examined the slowly waking army, he spotted several cloaked figures scurrying about the whole camp.

Moving as silent as a shadow and as quickly as the wind, he stalked his prey. Xxai'Lon moved from tent to tent, quietly checking on his comrades and passing out instructions to the small handful of Elves not victim to the sleep enchantment. As he crouched behind one of the heavy silk tents, he muttered aloud, “Not good! This isn't normal Firya magic”. He glanced around in concern, and admitted quietly, “There's a decent spell-caster in their rank”. He glanced back at the soldiers behind him. The art of silent communication was an Elven secret. The subtle sign language was a series of finger and hand movements, eye contact, and body language. He forced himself to become visible, and smiled encouragingly at the soldier behind him. Turning his head to a young Captain, he commanded, his fingers a blur, “Take all the men and KILL that spell-caster! Almost all of our troops are flat on their backs!” Xxai'Lon growled out loud, “Take no prisoners”.

The Captain saluted, and began to silently issue orders. He hissed at Xxai'Lon, and flashed, “How will we find him?”

Xxai'Lon smiled sadistically. Still holding the elegant twin blades in his hands, he conveyed in silence, “I'll bring him to you”. He rose from behind the tent, and strode purposely into a large clearing in the camp. Immediately he fell under attack, and was rocked back on his heels by two hooded assailants. His swords became a blur as they expertly settled into a rhythm of thrusts, blocks, and parries. The sound of the titanium swords hammering down on the steel swords of the two cloaked figures, became a staccato ring. Skillfully he disarmed the first attacker, and plunged his sword deep into the man's chest, then threw his other sword at the second. He deftly flicked his finger, and the sword sped straight at the assailant catching him in the neck. He wobbled over like a headless bird and slumped to the ground. Xxai'Lon willed the sword back to his hand, and instantly the weapon rematerialized in his outstretched grasp. He pulled the other sword from the corpse at his feet, and wiped the blood of both on the black cloak. Curiosity stuck him, and he deftly flicked back the woollen hood with a sword, and gasped in amazement; it was a human male.

High above circling the camp, the winged beast lazily rode through the night air. Seated atop the massive dragon was a cloaked figure holding an ornate staff. The hard wood was carved with intricate runes that glowed with an unnatural pulsing red light. Atop the magical staff was a skeletal arm, holding a giant ruby! The bones were also carved and ornamented with small gems. The blood-red ruby pulsed with its own scarlet hue, silent, deadly. The hooded man watched the encampment with eagerness as it much too slowly reacted to the deadly attack. Suddenly, he spied the figure of the Elven Prince below, and purred, “Ahh! There you are”. Patting the massive red dragon on the neck he commanded, “Kill that Elf! Bring your kiss of death, my pet!”

Xxai'Lon pulled back the heavy silk curtain to his tent, and peered inside. His heart immediately leapt into his throat; laying in the bed in a pool of blood, was Tammerlain. He dropped his swords, and cried out in anguish as he rushed to the side of the bed. In disbelief and barely able to see through the tears, he lifted the lifeless head of the Elven woman. He pressed her face hard against his as he howled in agony, “My love! Oh, my sweet Tammerlain!” He began to seethe in rage, his face streaked with tears, “I'll avenge you! I’ll going to kill them all!” His face became a mask of death, determined, soulless. He gently laid down Tammerlain's head and stood up, his eyes flashing in pain and rage. Xxai'Lon walked over and picked up his swords.

A blast of flame nearly took him off his feet! Xxai'Lon felt the intense heat from outside the tent, and a concussive blast shook the heavy silk. Shaking his head in disbelief, he quickly peered out of the tent flap and instinctively recoiled. A dragon! His heart began to quicken, and even his steel-hard will started to melt. He gasped in fear! He swallowed hard, trying to think, but his mind swirled in flashing moments of painful deaths coming from ....... He shook his head, and pushed the negative thoughts from his mind. Xxai'Lon cleared his throat, and nodded in realization; Dragon fear! He could feel it now. A raw pulsing wave of nausea and overwhelming fear that emanated from the magical beast. Almost every humanoid on the planet was prey to the mind numbing fear that such great creatures generate. Xxai'Lon forced himself to breath, and push past the fear.

Jumping to his feet, he peered out the tent flap again. He sighed, “Thank the gods for dragon proof ghrandyatta”, as he surveyed the war council. The silk fabric used by the nomadic Elves not only repelled wind and beating rain, but also fire and magic. It was also able to withstand dragonfire! The runes embroidered into the weave were enchanted with powerful dweamors providing protection any military would kill to posses. There were fires throughout the camp, as anything combustible immediately burst into flame from the intense flames, however, the tents of the soldiers stood firm against the great beast. Elves ran around screaming, some on fire, some in panic. It was chaos! The screams of the dying could be barely heard over the roar of the winged horror as it would circle overhead and come diving down, raining death on the ground. Xxai'Lon too a deep breath, and pushed the tent flap open, and strode out in the camp.

The black robed figure atop the dragon, cackled with glee. “Too easy”, it hissed. The staccato thundering of the massive wings and the creak of the tendons punctuated the screams of the flames and the dying Elves below. The dragon turned in the air slowly, and began to dive for another attack. The giant red dragon inhaled deeply and opened its massive, fanged jaws. The forked tongue flickered in delight as the predator eyes scanned for fresh targets. Suddenly, the cloaked rider screamed, “There! Over there!”, pointing at the Prince. The dragon's eyes flashed in anger as the rider's booted heels dug into its sides, but it turned its scaled head towards the intended target, the Prince. The dragon narrowed its eyes and dove to the ground, exhaling deeply, and leaving a wide, hellish, wall of magical fire in its wake.

Xxai'Lon ran and dove into the closest tent as the wall of fire exploded outside! He could feel the wave of heat nearly strip his lungs bare, and he coughed from the pain. He shook his head and ran back out the door. Gritting his teeth, he ran his fingers over the hilts of his swords, and muttered an incantation. The runes along the swords began to glow, and he ritually brought the two swords together, touching their blades. There was a flash of bright light, and the two swords had become one! Heavier, longer, it was a staff with a sword at each end. Xxai'Lon grinned and watched the massive beast lazily turn in the sky, readying itself for another pass. He flexed his muscles, and expertly spun the two-bladed sword. The hum from the twin blades reverberated through the air as the weapon-master made the staff dance around him in a blur. He abruptly stopped, and stood poised. Ready. Every muscle was coiled like snake. He could make out the silhouette of the rider, but it was the pulsing staff in its outstretch hand that caught Xxai'Lon's attention. He stood his ground, and waited for the dragon to attack.

The massive fangs gleamed in the flickering flames as the giant red dragon rained death. In its glee, the scaled horror roared over the scattered remains of the war tribunal camp. Smashing through the remaining defences and knocking over tents, it obliterated everything in its path with reckless abandon. It was a massacre! The old dragon was enjoying thoroughly himself, and revelled in the carnage. It soared over the war council and snapped its jaws, shattering the wooden poles like mere twigs. The tent collapsed, and the massive beast chuckled.

Suddenly, a twin-bladed staff appeared right in front of the dragon. Thee was no time to react as the magic blade pierced through the plated scales and thick bones of the beast's head! With a sickening crunch, the blade embedded itself deep between the dragon's eyes! The beast was immediately dead, and tumbled to the ground in a flurry of wings, limbs, and tail. The massive creature dug a wide swath of destruction in the earth as it thundered to a crumpled heap.

Like an arrow fired from a bow, the weapon-master streaked toward the dead dragon. By the time he arrived, the great beast was done twitching in its final moments of death. Carefully, the stressed Elven warrior made his way over to the enchanted weapon still stuck in the creature's thick skull. Xxai'Lon planted his boots squarely, and wrenched the staff from the shattered skull of the dragon. He sighed and looked around in disbelief. The camp was destroyed, and he could barely see any survivors. Cautiously, he began to search for the cloaked rider. Behind him, the dragon shuddered one last time and a foul-smelling last gasp emanated from the bloody maw. Xxai'Lon glanced back at the dead dragon, and then turned his attention to the looming problem; finding the person, or thing that was riding the dragon, as well as, that magical staff.

He scoured the camp searching for survivors and the mystery rider. By the time the sun had risen it was obvious that somehow the hooded figure had escaped. Blearily, Xxai'Lon wandered the shattered remains of the proud war tribunal. There was only a couple dozen survivors, and most wouldn't be seeing another sunrise.

It took a few hours to salvage enough supplies, round up the remaining horses, and begin the journey. With enhanced speed, and lungs of steel, the powerful horses thundered across the grassy plains. Prince Xxai'Lon was at the lead, riding his loyal friend, Reazghul. Behind him, his uncle, and the war chiefs rode in silence. While the defeat of such a great beast as an old red dragon was going to become legend and the stuff of songs, it was a massive loss for the proud war tribunal! They forged ahead with their hearts in pain, and their pride seething in anger.

Suddenly, the crown Prince held up his hand, and ordered the group to stop. The horses bickered in annoyance, but quickly fell into formation.

Krakkhen addressed the Prince, “What is it, sir?”

Xxai'Lon pointed to the sky. He replied simply, “A rider”.

The feathered wings of the snow-white Pegasus whistled through the air as it soared over the shattered warriors. The majestic creature landed in the long grass a short distance away, and pranced up to the group. Immediately, Xxai'Lon recognized the rider, and he jumped off his horse.

The Elven woman deftly hopped off the Pegasus, and walked up to pat the beautiful animal on the nose. Quietly, she whispered, “Tangosh'Kha”. The animal began to shrink, and quickly became the size of a child's toy - A motionless, pure white, statuette of a flying horse. Picking the white marble figurine out of the grass, she turned to her brother, and opened her eyes wide in horror. “Thank the gods you're safe!”, she cried. Ta'Anar rushed forward, and collapsed in her twin's arms. She sobbed, “They've killed them all, Xxai”Lon! Mother! Our sister! And I think father is being held captive!” Her body wracked with sobs, and all Xxai'Lon could do was hold on tight. His heart broke, and he too became ridden with grief.

Krakkhen wordlessly began to issue order to make camp. The group split up and started building a fire and setting up a few of the remaining tents. Once he was satisfied that preparations were in order, he turned and walked over to the siblings. He threw his arms around the two sobbing Elves, and held them close, feeling their pain.

“Come”, he prodded, his face a stone mask. He practically pulled the twins toward the smouldering fire, “Let us talk”.

….............

“You really think leaving is the best idea?” snorted Xxai”Lon. He was pacing around the campfire, and shaking his head in disgust. Ta'Anar was lying on a plush feather bed, poring over her spell-book. She looked exhausted and worn. He glanced back at his uncle, and shook his head again, as he seethed, “I can't believe you're telling me that we should simply abandon our people...”

Krakkhen silenced his nephew with a raised hand. He cleared his throat, and tried to remain calm as he said, “Your Majesty, if I may. You must realize that you are now the King!” He paused to let his words sink in.

Xxai'Lon stopped pacing and crossed his arms. “All the more reason I should say”, he hissed.

“No!”, snapped Ta'Anar. The word hung thick in the air, and everyone turned to stare at the Princess laying on her magical bed. Ta'Anar had changed her clothes, and was now wearing her travelling robes; plain black, with the scarlet runes of her family. She propped herself up on her elbow. “For once, and I beg you on this matter! Listen to me, dear proud brother”. Slowly, deliberately she rose from the soft silk, and stated, “You.... I mean, WE, should run!”

“What?”, gasped the Prince. Xxai'Lon stared at his sister with doubt. He dropped his hands to the hilts of his swords hanging belted to his waist, and just shook his head. “Why do not want to stay and fight? YOU? Of all people?!”, he asked incredulously.

Ta'Anar stood up and bowed low before her brother, the King of the Horse Lords, and softly explained, “Because, dear brother. We have already lost”.

“What do you mean?” asked Xxai'Lon dryly. He took a deep breath to speak, but was silenced by his sister.

“The ones that murdered our family were not of the woods”, stated Ta'Anar. She sighed, crossed her arms, and snapped, “It was a coup, staged by House Bi”Rith. They started the rumour of the border skirmishes, and simply waited for the army to not be there in our King's most dire moment!” Her eyes clouded over with tears, and softly muttered, “When our Father was in most need”. She raised her head, and chided, “You and I will be hunted, no matter where we go”.

“No”, replied Krakkhen gently. He shook his head sadly, and looked at the twins. “There are places where you will not be followed.”

Xxai'Lon gasped. “You mean leave the plains?”, he blurted. “They'll kill us if we leave the safety of Elven kingdom, just for being a White elf”, he snapped.

Krakkhen smiled softly, and sighed, “They will kill you if you stay”.

Comments

Anonymous said…
I sincerely hope you learned something from my critique, Zzorhn! As much as you suck (like any shill who sells unfinished products) I believe you can suck less. Don't worry, buddy, I'll help you!

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