Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Around The River Bend by Christina Askin Richter

This is an excerpt.

Marcus and Phillip were brought outside the oak palace and into a camp with a number of white tents set up. They were guided to the biggest tent of them all and were told to wait just inside. There were a number of tables and benches around this tent and in the middle was one large round table with a huge map stretched out on top of it. Curious, they both walked over to the table and gazed at the map. It was a map of all of Maradel, it showed the five provinces with Fairhelm being on the outskirts closest to their entrance into the veil. There was also, Redmont to the east, Sodomforge to the south and Mount Orchamshire and Nindria to the west.

Suddenly a huge dark shadow came over the map and Marcus and Phillip froze when they heard a deep and gruff voice bellow, “So you’re the brothers in the songs of legend?” Terrified, neither brother could move a muscle. “Well, are you going to turn and greet me, or shall I continue our conversation with the backs of your heads?”

 Slowly they turned and looming in the opening of the tent was a Fae that had clearly seen many battles in his life time. His hair was dark and his skin was tan and weather worn with a large scar going from just above his left eyebrow to his jaw. He had stark features, but there was a kindness in his eyes that betrayed the harshness he seemed to exude. He smiled then and laid his hands on their shoulder’s, “Do not be afraid of me lads, come and know me better.” He turned with them and led them out of the tent and towards one of the fires where there was a cast iron pot bubbling over the coals and fresh fruit laid out on a bench. “First we eat, and then we discuss the mission.”

As they sat around the fire, eating the delicious vegetable stew that had been prepared, all the Fairies and Fae began reminiscing in stories of old. Marcus and Phillip listened in awe, hearing about the times before the veil. Phillip felt curious and asked softly, “Marthal?”

The large Fae looked at him smiling, “Aye, lad? What is it?”

Adjusting himself on the bench he licked his lips and continued, “You say that we are in the songs of legend. What are these songs?”

“Oh, there are many! From all over the veil and beyond!” Phillip thought that he was done his explanation until Marthal looked off to the mountains and started singing…

 In Maradel times were of love and of laughter And magic she roamed o’er the mountains and seas
But a darkness crept up from the red fires o’ Zarthune
And the lands fell to ruins of shadows and war

Cry, cry all babes born of summer The lakes and the rivers are dust and all gone

But whispers rode in on the north winds of Fairhelm Two brothers were destined to stand in flames Warriors brave, born of truth and of honor They battled the fires ‘til the war had been won

Hail, hail the brothers of legend In Maradel times were of laughter once more

Other’s joined in with the singing and sang songs of their own, while Marcus and Phillip sat and listened in wonder. It was so surreal to hear about themselves being sung about in these songs. Before now, they had led such ordinary lives. 

 This went on for what seemed like hours and no one seemed to grow tired of it. Marthal looked lost in thoughts and memories but he slapped his knees and looked at the boys, “Well lads, that’s enough of that. It’s time to get down to business.” He got up from his bench and walked off towards the large tent with Marcus and Phillip following close behind.

At the round table, Marthal leaned over the map and pointed, “Our first destination will be the great elms of Redmont, where we will request an audience with the high council of Dryads. Then it will be here,” he said, pointing northward, “the mountains of Sodomforge. This is the home of the Bouldren and they would be great allies in our plight against the darkness.”

Marthal looked to Marcus and Phillip who were watching him carefully listening to everything he was saying. Their faces were a mix of fear and excitement and an obligation he was sure that young boys of such tender ages should not have had to feel if times were different. He sighed gravely and continued. “Then we will make our way west to Orchamshire valley and the plains of Nindria where we will beseech the aide of the Fae tribes there. With all of the sons and daughters of Maradel uniting together, we just may have a chance at winning the war.”

Marcus looked up at him solemnly, “Do you think the songs of legends are true? Do you think that Phillip and I really have the power to end the war?”

 Marthel thought over his words and then lowered his head to meet Marcus’s gaze, “You’re here aren’t you?” he said, rising again to his full height. “That’s good enough for now.”

Marcus and Phillip looked at each other trying to hold hope for their cause but not really knowing what the future held for them or all of Maradel. They hoped beyond hope that the songs were true and that they could do as the legends told.

“Now, you must return home and do your part there and then I will see you again tomorrow where we will set off and begin our journey. I bid you brothers Goodnight,” and with that he bowed his head with his hand to his heart and left the tent.

Marcus and Phillip were escorted back to the veil entrance and spent the rest of the day in their world, lounging by the river and talking of what lay ahead.

“Do you really think we can do it, Marcus? I mean, what’s so special about us, huh? How are we suppose to win an entire war?” Phillip looked at his brother with so much fear and uncertainty showing in his eyes. Marcus wished that he could reassure his little brother and say that everything was going to be ok, but he really didn’t know himself if it would be. 

 He sat there and looked at his brother, so young and new to the
world like himself and then he reached out and took Phillip’s hand in his. “Whatever may come, whatever roads we will travel and dangers we’ll face…we’ll do it together.”

Phillip smiled then and squeezed his brother’s hand. “Yes,” he said, “together…”

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