Path of a Novice
Silvan Book I
© 2017 Ruth Kent. All rights reserved.
work is registered with the UK Copyright Service: registration
a work of fiction. All characters, names and events in this book are
fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is
art and inside sketches by Arrahman Rendi
Seasons of Ea Uaré
Two: Lan Taria
Three: Into the World
Four: A Song on the Air
Five: The Whirling Warrior
Seven: You Have a Brother
Eight: Changing Tides
II: History of Ea Uaré
Nine: Into the Forest
Ten: First Contact
Thirteen: The Path Ahead
Fourteen: He is Ours
Seventeen: Baptism of Fire and Water
Eighteen: Wheels of Destiny
of Ea Uaré
of striking contrasts. The South is all frozen and almost
inhospitable, where icy glaciers and floating plaques of solid water
make for a bleak and lonely life for the severe, forbidding mortals
who live there.
North, the oceans are warmer, and islands of steely grey and vibrant
blue sit majestically, almost as if they float, weightless upon the
temperate seas of Pelagia, home of the Sea Elves. They sing and they
write, craft things of great beauty and above all, they sail—navigate
their island home and the peninsula that sits close by. They are not
a war-faring people, for Deviants do not live there, and Sand Lords
know not the art of navigation.
East, Tar’eastór stands proudly atop the mighty Median
Mountains, home of the great Alpine elves who write lore, and are the
best sword masters, or so they say. They are versed in the healing
arts and prone to logic and the art of rhetoric. They are all these
things and yet no one would claim they are humble, for that would be
deceitful. These elves are great warriors, leaders; glorious in
live further East in their meadow home of Prairie but it is in the
far West that we find Ea Uaré—the Great Forest Belt,
home of the Silvan elves—my home.
winters are harsh; frost and copious snowfall covers the land, muting
its colours and sending all living things to seek shelter; to sleep
and bide away the time before milder weather comes and it is safe to
emerge once more. Only the mountain pumas thrive in winter for their
hides are thick, their rich white fur protecting them from the wiles
of their homelands, the southern reaches of the forbidden Evergreen
though, is a season that leaves none indifferent; there is
nowhere else upon Bel’arán that can ever compare to Ea
Uaré at the awakening, for life explodes into such colours you
would not believe, from the deepest, shocking purple to the most
delicate of rosy pink. It is all colour, splattered upon the tapestry
of the forest as if a child had scribbled furiously over it,
desperate to use all the colours upon his palette.
is texture too—soft, silky grass that undulates in the gentle
meadow breeze, wild flowers standing tall amongst it as if to show
off their splendour, if only for a fleeting moment in time.
the trees though, that are the true glory of this world, our allies
in life, witnesses in death. We watch with baited breath as leaves
break through the barren branches, slowly unfurling, barring
themselves to the warming sunshine, eager for its touch so that it
may thrive, bountiful and beautiful—alive, if only for a while.
tear-jerking rapture to a Silvan elf, for within us moves the
Sprit—Aria; perhaps that is why we see and feel things that
others, be they mortal or immortal, cannot fathom. And yet even so,
surely this physical manifestation of nature, of life, can move even
the coldest of foreign hearts, be they Alpine or Pelagic.
then, this land of trees and high plateaus, of sprawling lakes and
meandering rivers, rocky streams and bubbling brooks of crystal clear
water that is always frigid. All these things give sustenance to this
land—feed the creation of Aria so that we, the Silvan people,
may thrive. Thus, we care for our world by giving back all that we
take from it, and thus we protect it from those that would take more
than they give. In this we are ruthless, relentless.
follows and it is sultry, yet not so hot as to turn the skin, for the
Silvan people are pale save for our hair. To the South of Ea Uaré
it is cold yet bright, our territory marked by the Pelagic Mountains
that jut skywards, shielding the Great Forest Belt from the Ocean and
its ice mountains beyond, as if it was not meant to be seen by Silvan
eyes at all.
here, where Thargodén’s Court stands, close to the
south-western border of the land and the onset of the Evergreen Wood,
where no one is allowed to wander, for that sacred place is our
garden, our hidden pride, one that must be protected—even from
ourselves lest we spoil it.
our great city and further North, the Deep Forest begins.
hotter here, humid and hazy in summer. This is the homeland of the
Silvan people, our birthplace. Our villages are dotted over a map of
sprawling woods and vales, deep valleys and jagged gorges.
are no grand halls here, only cottages and flets, mighty talans even,
but it is all wood and rope, stone and bone, feather and fur for
these are the elements of this land.
should we dare venture to the far North, all this changes, for there
the forest converges upon the dry lands, the Sand Lands and it is
xeric wood—dry and twisted, the ground no longer loamy and wet
but dry and brittle. Here, the forest tapers away and the vast dunes
of Calrazia extend into the horizon and surely beyond. The Silvans do
not go there, for to do so is folly—there is more to those arid
lands than sand, and its inhabitants are hostile, rich in all things
Sand Lords, we call them, not for deference but because their
clothing is rich and opulent, their jewels ever on display, even in
battle—a stark contrast to the humbleness of our Silvan
enemy is cruel and vindictive, barren in all things spiritual and
given to satisfying the most questionable of mortal desires. They do
not take prisoners, and that is just as well.
is, perhaps, best experienced in the Great City Fortress of Thargodén
King, ruler of the Silvan people, despite his Alpine origins. It is
here, that the dying light of summer is best contrasted with the
opulence of the king’s court. Bright fabrics and shining jewels
of red and blue and opalescent whites and all things rich and
expensive—an acquired beauty wrought from Aria’s creation
by the hands of artisans and craftsmen. It is a different kind of
beauty, artificial yet lovely all the same. It is the powerful lords
and ladies, the politicians and councillors, merchants and commanders
that swim in this colourful sea of silk and gems. Many are Alpine or
Pelagic and few are Silvan, and yet it has not always been that way.
is indeed mild yet still beautiful with its myriad of browns and
yellows and fading greens, but this, too, slowly yet inexorably
fades, falls once more into frost, and then snow, until all sleeps
this I know well for I have watched the cycle of seasons for many
centuries. I remember them all, and I remember the events that took
place between them.
is my delight, and reason is my need—I am Marhené,
chronicler of the Silvan people—the native Silvans of the Deep
Forest. I remember and I write so that others may remember and learn
and perhaps, the mistakes that were made will not be repeated for
surely they would lead to the same end.
what, you may rightly ask, is the purpose of history, other than to
record it? Here is my answer then;
history so that its inertia may be stopped;
history so as to change it.
Silvan Chronicles Book III
venerable captain of the Inner Circle – was dying.
blood-curdling scream turned into a hoarse wail, the waves of his
agony piercing the very souls of those that tried to help him. But
there was no hope; this, Rinon knew, even though he was not a
could do was sit there, his own, bloodied hand clamped desperately
against the shoulder of the writhing warrior. Let it stop, he
begged to himself, let the suffering stop – it is enough –
it is too much.
warrior’s breath shuddered to a halt as another wave of
excruciating torment wracked his frame and it seemed all the muscles
in his body tensed involuntarily, lifting him for a moment from the
soiled bedding. Spittle flew from his lips, as another howl of brutal
agony swelled in his chest and then split the heavy silence once
more. Tears welled in Rinon’s eyes as his hand pressed
bruisingly against Har’Sidón’s shoulder, eyes
unwilling to register the mangled flesh and shattered bone, the
ruined remains of his legs.
it be, he asked – that one so skilled and powerful –
could be reduced to this? He had laughed and cried with this
warrior. Had witnessed his troth, saved his life, drank cups with
him. How could it be that he lay here now, upon the borders of
Valley, screaming and writhing – incomprehensible agony his
last, bitter taste of life.
stop – please- let it stop. It is enough…
cry escaped him, but this time it was weaker, voice breaking, mouth
frozen wide, eyes open yet unseeing – glazed, absent.
were atop him but Rinon did not look and Har’Sidón’s
head lulled to the side, the muscle beneath his hand softening.
his own voice broke, eyes brimming in crushing pity and terror, for
his friend was slipping away in a haze of ill-deserved suffering.
shot up and latched onto Rinon’s collar, pulling him down with
surprising strength until their faces were mere inches apart. But no
words passed Har’Sidón’s lips for his breath had
caught in his throat and would not be loosed, eyes bulging in sudden
surety and utter terror.
watched through a watery haze as the immortal light in his friend’s
eyes slowly petered out, leaving them dull and blind, eyelids
drooping half-shut as his chest shuddered, and then was still.
healers froze and silence descended upon them, watching as Rinon’s
head fell carelessly against the cooling forehead of Captain
Har’Sidón, commander of the Northern patrol of Ea Uaré.
slowly moved back until he looked down on his friend’s lifeless
form and even though he cried, his jaw clenched and his eyes
sharpened until they were piercing shards of ice.
will leave you for a moment, my Prince,” came the soft voice of
a healer, his strong hand squeezing Rinon’s shoulder in
sympathy before moving away.
mind showed him his friend’s bride, his children, eyes begging
for answers yet how could he tell them of the horrific death their
father had suffered? How could he tell them that he had been caught
and mauled by Deviants, that they had bitten into him like starved
bears – not for food but for the sheer, perverse pleasure of
wrenching shrieks of agony from his friend. He would not and he
suddenly wanted to laugh bitterly – what was the expression? Ah
yes – ‘he died honourably in battle.’
lie to them, save them from the anguish of truth.
eyes swivelled to the right at the rustle of silk at his side.
King,” came the soft, flat voice of the Crown Prince. His eyes
lingered a while longer upon the ruined form of Har’Sidón
before turning to his father, who was already staring back at him,
expression unreadable but his eyes – his eyes were those of
Har’Sidón – dull and blank, unfocussed even though
set in the face of one whose will had faded many centuries ago, an
elf that had shut himself away from the world, even from his own
despised him for even now, while bitter tears lingered in his own
eyes, his father’s eyes were as dry as the northern sands.
Unfeeling, frigid, lifeless.
nostrils flared and his eyes sharpened. With a curt nod, he spun on
his heels and left amidst the saddened stares of the healers and
Thargodén was left alone before the evidence.
was at war.
He was a
foliage juts powerfully from the fertile land, extending up to the
leafy heavens, where dappling light keeps it alive and content, roots
anchored deep and tight in the loamy earth, just like those who dwell
here. There is peace here, at least and Sand Lords and Deviants exist
only in the bedtime stories of brave Silvan children, future warriors
of Ea Uaré.
of stone and timber merge almost invisibly with the majestic trees
that embrace them, as if they had always been there, grown together
in fraternal harmony.
lady works in her garden, collecting the long green pods that hang
from wooden sticks placed up against an overgrown hedge, the haze of
woody smoke floating above her, reminding her that Autumn was already
Lan Taria smiled indulgently at the howling laughter that once more
danced around her, honey-coloured eyes glancing fondly at the small
platform nestled in a mighty tree at the end of her garden. There
they go again, she smiled as she walked inside and deposited her
basket upon the rough, wooden table top of her homely kitchen.
Sliding her thumb down the seam of a green pod, she watched as the
peas popped unwillingly from their nests and into the wooden bowl
with a mellow thud. Well they would not go willingly, she
mused, for they surely knew what awaited them.
turned from amusement to fondness and then motherly adoration, for
although the boy was not her born son, she loved him just the same,
for is mother not she who nurtures and cares for a child? She who
sacrifices her own life and joy for the simple, perfect laughter of a
tiny life, one that without her, could not blossom? What had blood
to do with it? she thought, irritated almost.
to the small pot sitting over the wood fire, water bubbling
invitingly with the promise of sweet pea soup and sour cream with
crunchy nuts—his favourite, for he would peck her upon
the cheek every time she made it, his flushed face, pearly white
teeth and sparkling green eyes so full of life and love; such a
beautiful, innocent child was Fel’annár, Green Sun.
had been given to him by his mother, ‘for his eyes are
greener and brighter even than the Green Sun of the Deep Forest’
she had said. Amareth smiled at the memory of her sister and her
devotion to those rare plants that blossomed but once in a lifetime;
that is how she had seen her son.
beautiful nephew had lived in Silvan joy for the passing of many
years, with no cares in the world save for those of his tutors. Yet
soon enough the questions came, questions Amareth could not answer
for she would not lie to him, would not endanger him. The other
children mocked him incessantly, their cruelty sometimes difficult to
comprehend for they told him he was unwanted, a Silvan child scorned
by his Alpine father for this one thing could not be denied –
his father was Alpine.
though, saw fit to gift the boy with two of the best friends he could
ever have wished for and from then on, Fel’annár began
to fight back.
a tough lad, uncannily capable of disconnecting from his
surroundings, of distracting himself when the situation became
uncomfortable. It was not healthy, but he had coped. She was no fool
though; she knew his questions were still there, latent yet ever
present, repressed under a practised veil of indifference. Sooner or
later they would surface once more, and the Spirit forbid he find his
carefully slid the peas into the boiling water and sat back to watch
the flames lick at the heavy pan, slowly bringing the water back to
bubbling, and her mind resumed its nostalgic wanderings.
beautiful child had become a handsome young elf who had thought of
little else other than becoming a warrior. He had trained in the
Silvan way, in the forests, not in the city where the venerable
weapons masters train, yet even so, he had excelled far beyond the
expectations of his tutors.
taken to the bow, sabres and hand-to-hand combat so naturally; and
how could it have been any other way? she asked herself wryly—for
was it not in his blood? His mixed blood? She shuddered as her
thoughts took her, once more, down that familiar path of cold dread
and gnawing anxiety.
protected him as best she could, and her efforts had been enough for
the people of Lan Taria to accept him. It had not been easy, but
neither had she been alone in her endeavour.
steadying breath, she reached for a cloth and unhooked her pot.
Carrying it carefully to a basin of frigid forest water, she poured
in the vegetables and smiled in satisfaction at the bright green
pearls, delighting as the fragrant steam warmed her face.
she sat and dried her hands upon her apron, her eyes set in maternal
steel and yet, despite her determination, something screamed at her
in mock and disdain. Foolish woman. He is a warrior now,
the best we have seen for many years, and talent like that will
always reach the ears of Thargodén’s captains. You
cannot protect him forever.
It was a
matter of time; in her heart, she knew this as surely as she knew her
own name, however much she tried, and failed, to convince herself
otherwise. Her determined eyes dimmed in defeat; Fel’annár
could never pass by unnoticed.
now strained, sat once more in the earthen bowl and Amareth sprinkled
sage and thyme over them, and then added a generous knob of butter
and a dash of cream. Almost done, she said to herself as
another bust of laughter eased her dark thoughts; they were coming,
and defeat—turned to acceptance.
had enrolled in the king’s army, just as she had always known
he would. One more day and he would be gone, riding out for the first
time, away from the western quadrant that had been his home for seven
hundred and forty-three years and South, into the city and there, he
would come face to face with the other side of himself and
there was, perhaps, some comfort in that at least, Ramien and Idernon
would be with him.
four small children playing and giggling, acting out the great
battles of old flitted before her mind’s eye.
they had called the biggest of the four, for he surely was a
strapping lad, a Wall of Stone. Another was named Idernon, Wise One,
and fittingly so, for even as a child he was wont to question—to
reason and logic; a child philosopher.
too, played their games but his calling was different; he was to be
the mightiest Tree Master the Silvan people had ever known. And then
Fel’annár had become Hwind’atór, the
Whirling Warrior, for he had, quite by chance, decided that dancing
could be fun with a blade in his hand, albeit a wooden one. The
Whirling Warrior, she smirked to herself as she worked.
chatter exploded in the kitchen, just as she placed her bowl of
steaming pea soup on the wooden table.
exclaimed Fel’annár as he sat himself down
unceremoniously, his youthful face flushed with excitement and
wait for the blessings, Fel’an.”
course,” he added with a cocky smile, as Ramien, Idernon and
Thavorn sat, nodding politely to the woman they loved as an aunt.
Spirit of the Trees. We thank you for the bounties before us,”
said Amareth simply, before looking up once more and smiling at the
four, expectant faces, no traces of her previous thoughts left
now—only adoration, for this was the dawn of a new life for
them, and perhaps the waning of her own. Their yet unwritten
adventures were just beginning, and what better way to celebrate,
than with her famed pea soup?
And so it
was that the next dawn brought with it a heartfelt goodbye. Amareth
stood, her woollen shawl wrapped tightly around her slumped shoulders
for there was a chill in the air, and in her heart. If only her
sister Lássira could see him now—young and beautiful,
brave and optimistic, with the world at his feet and a thousand
dreams in his head, she would have melted like the spring frost,
awash with love for her beautiful son.
Who was to
say where Lássira was now, for she had taken the Short Road to
Valley, and so Amareth simply stood in defeated silence as her eyes
met the extraordinary eyes of her son; her sister’s Silvan
eyes. There were no words, only eloquent emotions that both
understood as clearly as if they had been spoken.
back to me safely, my Silvan, Alpine son.
air has changed; it is—heavier,” said Fel’annár,
almost to himself, his head tipped upwards, eyes dancing over the
unknown territory, for it was lighter here and the sun felt warmer.
It should have comforted him, but it did not.
and the trees are fewer, I feel—vulnerable,” said
Idernon with a scowl, his eyes darting around nervously, for none of
them were accustomed to such open spaces, despite the trees that
dotted the wooded meadowland they travelled. His horse skittered
nervously beneath him, mirroring his own agitation.
won’t be long now, until we are in the realm of the City
Dwellers,” said Ramien. We are out of our element, brothers,
for I feel—small,” he said, eyes glancing this way
and that, as if he thought perhaps they would be ambushed.
chuckled Fel’annár and Idernon smiled for the first time
that morning. “Not you, you lumbering oaf! And anyway,
who is to say these lands are of the City Dwellers? They
belong to us all. I wager many Silvans find a place in the
king’s halls too, even at his court,” speculated
Fel’annár, his nervousness momentarily forgotten.
numskull!” smiled Idernon. “We Silvans rule the
woods, aye, but there, at court,” he jabbed
southwards with his finger, “it is the High-born Silvans and
the Alpine that impose their ways. That, I do wager on,”
he said sourly.
held his friend’s gaze for a moment, a scowl back on his face.
“We’ll be treated like village idiots, fledgling
roared in laughter at his friend’s petulance. “We are
bumpkins, Fel’án!” he mocked good-heartedly.
“We are as foreign to these lands as gruel at the king’s
smiled lopsidedly, shrugging his shoulders as if to excuse his ill
humour, but his mind continued to work through their situation.
We are bumpkins and we are Silvan,” he conceded.
“But these are our lands, and I do not think it natural
for the Alpine and the High-born Silvan to rule them. What do they
know of the forest? of woodcraft?”
I suppose,” conceded Idernon. “They wish for power and
wealth and that is achieved by those who take the decisions. From
their seats of power, they legislate to their own gain, contrive so
that everything that is decided upon favours them in some way. ’Tis
not good government but it is the only one we have,” he
finished softly with a hint of sadness.
face hardened as he turned to the fore once more, anger sharpening
his extraordinary features.
will be with the majority at the barracks with the warriors
though,” added Ramien, his eyes darting to Idernon. “The
bulk of our king’s fighters are Silvan, albeit our commanders
rarely are, at least that is what they say.”
does not seem logical to me,” said Fel’annár,
fidgeting in his saddle, and Ramien nodded his agreement. “I
mean, surely our warriors are just as capable. What has colour or
heritage to do with being a good leader?”
’Tis as sad as it is insulting. It was not always this way you
know,” stated Idernon quietly. “There are many chronicles
of the elder days and there is no mention of this, veiled
discrimination in any of them. It is a recent thing, I think, one
that seems to have taken hold after the death of King Or’Talán.”
with luck we will all be assigned to the same training groups,”
said Ramien, before adding, “mind you, if Fel’án
here is mistaken for an Alpine, that may not happen.”
stretched out awkwardly between them before Ramien realized he should
not have said that. It was a sore spot for his friend, who had always
skilfully evaded any mention of his colouring every time the
me,” was all he said, cringing, wilting almost under Idernon’s
stern gaze that lingered on him for a little too long, and despite
Ramien’s considerable bulk, he almost seemed to shrink.
fret, Ramien. I am well past that,” he assured his friend, not
turning to look at him though. Ramien’s eyes did linger on the
profile of his friend, before glancing at Idernon, only to find him
staring right back at him.
their stomachs growled and rumbled louder than any war-bound Elven
battalion and the wholesome fare their mothers had packed for them
began to weigh just a little more than it had done before. Finding a
suitably shady patch, the three friends dismounted and slapped their
horses upon the rump, watching as they pranced away in a flurry of
swishing manes and bobbing heads. Meanwhile, Ramien set about
arranging their food upon his blanket, his head cocked to one side as
he pondered on where to place each dish. It was an endearing sight,
mused Fel’annár with a smirk, because the elf was so
tall and strong it did not quite fit to see him fussing over the
details of their lunch.
long, they sat cross-legged, eager hands clutching at gravy-filled
pies and crusty bread, cheese and cold meat. It was a feast and none
of them spoke until there was little left and the sun had passed into
other day, they would have stayed to nap and then hunt, camp and tell
stories. But today was the first day they were truly alone in the
world, and Lan Taria seemed further away than it ever had. They were
excited yet apprehensive, eager to impress yet unwilling to draw
attention to themselves, for Fel’annár’s sake.
now, their playful banter gone, they mounted once more, and ambled
through the thinning forest, each lost to his own thoughts, of what
they had left behind and perhaps more importantly, what was still
ahead of them.
further along, Fel’annár tilted his face to the sun and
listened—a nuthatch was singing in the boughs and he smiled,
for these creatures were not easy to come across.
nuthatch!” he exclaimed, but contrary to the
awe-inspired comments he had expected, Idernon snorted rudely.
not a bird you hear but an elven warrior!” he hissed.
chuckled as he slapped his thighs and threw his head back, hair
flying chaotically about him, but then he almost choked on his own
saliva, for in front of him, as if from nowhere, appeared a glaring
Alpine warrior, a short bow slung over his back and the intricate
pommel of an intimidating sword peaking over his armoured shoulder.
boy!” called the warrior. “What is your name?”
his sharp, scowling eyes pierced Fel’annár, who
hesitated for a moment before answering, resisting a sudden urge to
swallow, albeit his mouth had turned as dry the northern sands. When
his voice returned, he felt nothing but shame for the weakness in it.
warrior’s scowl deepened and he cocked his head in thought. “I
know of no Amaron of Alpine heritage,” he said, watching
the youth carefully.
Amaron, Sir, but Amareth, and she is Silvan, as am I.”
what of your father?” A clipped retort.
Idernon clenched their jaws and looked to the floor for it would do
no good to rile this, admittedly imposing warrior. They were close to
the barracks now, and for all they knew, he may be one of their
instructors. If only they could find an excuse to help their
floundering friend out of the bind he found himself in—again.
father died, Sir.”
meant his name you fool,” the warrior said, still
staring openly at the pale blond hair and moss green eyes.
“I . . .”
speak up, boy. You do have a father . . . ?”
was the only answer the warrior received, and understanding lit his
sharp grey eyes. “Did he die in battle?” he asked drolly,
“or perhaps you are a bastard? That is a pity, Fel’annár.
Whoever he was, he was obviously an Alpine.”
am Silvan,” hissed Fel’annár too quickly, his
emotions getting the better of him as they always did, the words
bubbling out of his mouth quicker than his mind could restrain them.
jeered the warrior. “Have something against the Alpine then?”
he mocked, his grin twisted and challenging, his own, blond hair as
much a declaration of his heritage as any flag.
was mortified at his outburst but he would be damned if he was going
to apologize for it. The warrior was an ass, unnecessarily sarcastic
well, Silvan. You are proud and rash. You will learn
soon enough though,” he said, his caustic smile softening
a little, even though Fel’annár could not see it, for he
simply looked away, annoyed at himself and this pig-headed warrior
who had subjected him to impertinent questions and called him an
Alpine, no less!
of caution from his friends tempered his simmering anger and he
schooled himself as best he could. He had been rash in spite
of his best attempts.
then, that he would no longer lie, for that had led his errant
emotions astray. He would call himself Fel’annár Ar
Amareth, his aunt—his mother—for the rest was true, his
real mother was dead and his father had been some, anonymous Alpine
who must surely have done something terrible, for why else was he
never mentioned? Why else would his own mother cloak him from the
It was of
no consequence; he did not care, he told himself.
He did not
care at all.
three! Clean up and briefing is in one hour. Do not be late,”
said the Alpine warrior who had guided them to the barracks, still
four days’ ride from the mighty city fortress of Thargodén
It was a
dour place. Grey stone and dark wood dominated everything and not one
item of decoration graced the walls or any other part of the long
dormitory they had been assigned to. Ramien and Idernon were simply
depressed but Fel’annár seemed utterly appalled at the
lack of nature. He had always had an affinity with the outside world.
Back home, his window was always open, even in the thick of winter,
as if he could not stand the press of enclosing walls, how they
separated him from the outside.
were basic, and thick woollen blankets lay neatly folded on top. Jugs
of water stood on every bedside table and shelving on the other side
was sparse but adequate. Idernon sighed and his eyes glanced
momentarily at Fel’annár, watching as he sat slowly upon
a spare bed at the end of the dormitory, beneath the only window in
the room. Idernon’s eyes sharpened as he followed one long
finger as it brushed over a green leaf that had invaded the small
crack between the stone and the wooden shutter. It had always
fascinated him, that gesture that was so ingrained on his friend. He
wondered what it was his friend felt for it was something he did
constantly, and every time it was accompanied by that strange
expression on his face—one that spoke of fascination and
perhaps just a hint of confusion.
three friends inspected their new room, Calenar made his way toward
the commanding officer’s quarters. He knew how overwhelmed
these Silvan village boys could be when traveling to the outer city
for the first time. Life here shared few similarities with the
routines back home, and these three, by the looks of them, were no
different save for one, surprising thing; one of them was an
Alpine . . .
himself was an Alpine, and if there was one thing he could always be
sure about, it was recognizing another of his race. True his name,
Fel’annár, he recalled, was clearly Silvan. He snorted
then for only the Forest Dwellers would name their children after a
Nay he was
Alpine, however much it seemed to rile the youth. Youth, he snorted,
he was barely out of swaddling cloths, and yet he had been the leader
of the three, or so it had seemed to Calenar. The others protected
him and the warrior realized he was intrigued with the strange boy.
An orphan, or a bastard with no father to call his own, the boy’s
face was simply extraordinary. He would be popular with the
lasses—and with the lads he added with a sardonic smile. Yet it
would not be easy for him. Turion would soon knock him into shape,
and a few of the other recruits too, he wagered, for envy was an ugly
thing indeed, and there was no shortage of it here.
boy,’ he shook his head to clear his thoughts for he stood
now, at Lieutenant Turion’s door. Reaching out for the knob, he
had just enough time to chuckle, for Calenar had been called many
things in his life as an instructor, most of them unpalatable—but
never had he been likened to something as innocent and endearing as a
of new recruits steadily rose until the noise in the common room was
almost unbearable; too many Silvans in one, confined space was never
easy on the ears, smirked Fel’annár to himself.
do I look?” asked Ramien as he held his arms out to the side,
showing his friends his new uniform.
guffawed and Idernon smirked playfully.
fabrics were not designed for Walls of Stone, my friend. The sleeves
are too short and the breeches too tight!” exclaimed Idernon,
before Fel’annár continued with the light-hearted
and look at this,” he laughed harder now— “the
buttons on this tunic are straining so hard they will surely pop open
no sooner you sneeze!”
scowl deepened as he turned to the voice of Idernon once more.
oh, and what’s this!” said Idernon as he lifted the back
of his friend’s tunic and flapped it around, revealing his taut
backside. “One fart and you will be the laughing stock of the
barracks!” he exclaimed, sending Fel’annár off
into a wheeze of laughter, which only worsened as he watched Ramien
dance out of the way, batting Idernon’s hands from the hem of
his tunic. The other recruits laughed as they watched the three
friends, until a mighty yell from the open doorway shot through them,
and they stood to mortified attention. The time for briefing had
crept upon them unawares and their superior officer stood akimbo,
face grim and eyes twinkling in hidden mirth.
Shut your mouths and get to the briefing—you’re late!”
and duly chastised, the three friends marched towards their first
briefing together with the other village boys, all of them Silvan,
noticed Fel’annár, just as Idernon had predicted they
would be, indeed he was the only one with pale, silvery-blond hair.
Even the commanders were mostly dark blond or even auburn-haired. He
still stuck out awkwardly, involuntarily drawing unwanted attention
to himself. Any hope he had held to that his appearance would be less
striking the further they travelled towards the city had been utterly
Alpine warrior who had caught them fooling around, stood before the
bewildered Silvan lads in the main hall, and revealed himself as
their drill instructor.
also known as Nuthatch, was their strategy tutor, and when Elant
introduced the only Silvan on the training team, a tracker by the
name of Faunon, the new recruits looked on in interest and no small
amount of respect. This Faunon must be good, they reckoned, to be the
only Silvan amongst the Alpine tutors.
been no mention of weapons training though, and disappointment was in
recruit had even dared ask why that was and Elant had explained that
they could not yet be trusted to hold a blade in their hands. Alpine
warriors were brave, but not that much, he had added with a smirk.
By the end
of their first week as recruits, their muscles ached ferociously, and
Ramien was provided with a new set of clothing to accommodate his
ever-growing bulk, triggering a round of light-hearted mockery which
the Wall of Stone took with a rueful smile, earning for himself the
respect of their fellow recruits.
earned his own fame as a bookworm and was sometimes looked upon in
puzzlement for it was not at all common for one his age to be so
learned. But Idernon had an incisive and ironic sense of humour and
for all this, he was respected as a scholarly, witty elf and a
Fel’annár, his corner of the room had turned almost
completely green. Light green plants, dark green vines and wild,
yellow flowers sprouted here and there, invading his bed and had even
stuck to the inner walls. He was a child of nature, they said, a true
Silvan despite his looks, and some had even speculated he could speak
to the trees, something most had laughed at good-naturedly. He was a
tough lad who was sometimes hard to interpret, but he was also
strangely noble, generous with his time and his actions and for this,
Fel’annár was popular. They had even taken to calling
him The Silvan, yet where their tone was light-hearted and
well-meant, their instructors were not so benevolent and every time
the name was used, their lips would curl and their eyes slant, as if
they enjoyed the reaction they garnered from him.
By the end
of the second week, the three lads were as popular as they were good,
and as the inseparable friends they were, they had soon been baptized
as ‘The Company’.
third week came cramps, dehydration and general exhaustion, for all
except those of The Company, for unlike the others, they had
subjected themselves to such physical training since they were
children, especially Fel’annár, who had always pushed
himself to his own limits, his obsessive dream of becoming a captain
fuelling them all.
body was a silent witness to his efforts, for when others stopped, he
would continue with his own training. Idernon and Ramien had done
their best to cover for their friend, yet as time passed and friends
were made, their guard slipped, and from time to time, an elf would
seek Fel’annár out and observe from afar.
studied his blurry reflection in the window beside his bed, only
partially listening to the quiet chat of those around him. It was
early evening and they were free to do as they pleased. Some wrote in
their journals, or composed letters to their family while others
played games or simply chatted quietly. Fel’annár
though, had fallen into a strange, contemplative mood, and the urge
to walk amongst the trees became too much to resist. With a nod at
Ramien and Idernon, he left the barracks and walked out into the
waning, autumn light. Finding for himself a shady spot, he sat under
a sprawling willow and allowed his mind to wander where it would.
the longest weeks of his life had, paradoxically, flown by and he
could not say they had been bad. Yet there was one thing that irked
him; his new name—The Silvan. His fellow recruits used
it light-heartedly and that was all well and good, but that same name
from the lips of his tutors was a veiled insult, as if they threw him
bait and waited for him to bite down on it -trip him up
purposefully—what was the point? he asked himself in
exasperation. Was his commitment not worthy of their respect? Why
would his wish to serve be less important than the nature of his
I?” came Idernon’s soft voice at his side, making
Fel’annár jump. “Your tracking skills are
progressing,” he said defensively as he fidgeted and then
settled once more.
should hope so,” scoffed Idernon. “Faunon is good,”
he said as he lowered himself to the ground.
silence for a while, until Fel’annár understood his
friend would not ask him to speak and yet expected him to all the
same—there was no escaping Idernon at times like these and so,
with a heavy sigh, he gave voice to his thoughts.
think I hate them,” he began, “that is why they mock me
incessantly. Can they not just confront me and be done with it?”
he said in mounting irritation. If he had expected Idernon to comment
though, he was wrong and he chanced a sideways glance at his friend,
who was staring blankly back at him. His heart sank to his boots as
he began to understand his friends’ silence.
agree with them? You think I hate them?” asked
Fel’annár, his anger becoming more apparent as
realization sunk in.
you?” asked his friend evenly, his eyes searching, “do
you hate them?”
course I don’t. It is simply that I am Silvan and when I tell
them that, they laugh and call me Alpine. I am proud of my origins,
Idernon—why should I be pleased they call me Alpine?”
believe you miss the point,” said Idernon carefully. He had
always known this moment would come, the moment in which his friend
would need to understand himself.
the point is?” asked Fel’annár, his jaw working
are not angry because they do not call you Silvan, Fel’annár.
You are angry because they call you Alpine. Because your
father, was Alpine . . .”
don’t care!” he hissed, eyes suddenly wide and
furious as he scrambled to his feet. “Is it too much to ask
that I be called what I am and not what I am not?”
The words had escaped him and no sooner had he said them, he closed
his eyes in defeat.
so you see,” said Idernon calmly, even though his heart was
racing. “What is it that you are not Fel’annár?
Are you not half Alpine? Are you not as much a part of
that race as you are Silvan? Why should it make you angry, if only
because your father was Alpine?”
stared back at his friend in disbelief and betrayal and his head
shook from side to side as if he would deny the words Idernon had
just said but he could not, and for some strange reason it
made him even more angry. Taking a deep breath, he stood and after a
moment of hesitation, he stalked away towards the training fields,
his gait stiff and controlled, anger rolling off him like fog upon
the high plains of Prairie.
knew not to stop him for his friend had an ugly temper when it came
to questions such as these. The unexplained absence of a father and
the ensuing years of frustration could not be remedied easily and
Idernon damned Amareth for her silence, a silence neither he nor
Ramien had ever understood.
day, Lieutenant Turion sat alone and watched, not for the first time
as the lone recruit worked through the basic stances of sword and
sabre, seemingly unaware that he was being observed.
that was his name, he recalled. Green Sun—and he could see why,
for the boy’s eyes were blazing pools of spring moss, akin to
the venerated woodland plant, a flower of such fleeting beauty, one
that would only ever bloom once, never to return. Many kept the
extraordinary treasure and dried it—indeed Turion’s
sister had one—she said it brought love and he would always
the lieutenant watched as one leg slowly slipped back, far behind the
other, both arms stretched out in front of him, muscles flexing and
cording. He stayed that way for many moments, chest heaving and sweat
pouring from his pale skin until one arm reached out behind him and
still, the movement was slow, precise and yet strangely intimidating.
good—nay he was excellent. But of course, Turion had already
obviously been training like this for a long while and Turion,
experienced immortal warrior that he was, knew the signs of a
troubled heart when he saw them, indeed if he compared today with
what he had seen on previous days, there was a sharpness to the boy’s
movements; slow, simmering anger that was being channelled into his
movements. He had seen far too many cases of young warriors who had
lost fathers to battle, mothers to the raids of Sand Lords or
Deviants—he knew the signs of conflict, could read them on
their young, inexperienced faces as easily as he could a child’s
bedtime story. Understanding them was part of his job, that and to
make them the best candidates for warrior hood as he could. He had
even turned down the opportunity to become a captain, to enter that
venerable Inner Circle of Ea Uaré, because had he accepted it
would have taken him away from all this. It was a simple yet
rewarding life, one he had craved for after years of fighting in the
recruit changed position, reaching to pick up his blades which he
deftly swirled in both hands and Turion’s brow twitched in
were studied and precise and yet this boy was from Lan Taria—there
were no blade masters there—none that could have taught him
these things. This elf had learned from books, he realized and his
curiosity was irreversibly peaked.
of Lan Taria, what is your secret, child? he asked himself, his
head cocking slightly to one side as he watched the entrancing moves
of one too young to have been taught such things.
Lainon popped into his mind’s eye then and Turion smirked. He
still remembered his friend’s find, an astonishing young
warrior who was now serving in the North. He had boasted for months
and Turion had endured it good-naturedly. ‘Well, my friend.
Perhaps it will be me to brag my own find sooner than you think,’
he smiled to himself. He would wait a little longer, wait for one
more sign lest he make a fool of himself. Yet time was a luxury he
did not have. Just this morning, Turion had received orders from the
city. News from the northern fronts was dire and novices were
desperately needed. He was therefore required to send along any of
this more advanced candidates to the next step of their training—to
promote earlier than was normal. It was a sad fact of life in Ea
Uaré, one that was all too easily forgotten in these,
apparently peaceful parts of the forest. But one only had to look a
little further away and towards the main path into the city to see
the comings and goings of warriors, supplies, and the arrival of
still remembered the days when he had served with Lainon. It had been
bad even then but now they were being forced to send novices to the
front lines. He closed his eyes in a rare show of emotion and then
opened them once more, focusing on Fel’annár as he
whirled this way and that. He would speak to the boy, he decided,
help him if he could, and then he would send him away—to war.
Song on the Air
wanted to see me, Sir,” asked Fel’annár, standing
rigid before his commanding officer. He was nervous, thought Turion,
concerned perhaps, that he had done something wrong.
at ease, recruit,” he said as he approached his charge from his
spot before the window of his office.
of Lan Taria, yes?” he asked.
are young for a recruit,” he said almost conversationally,
waiting for the boy to answer him.
Sir,” he said simply, his voice not so confident now.
tutors speak highly of you. You are disciplined, quick to learn and
respectful to your superiors.” He paused here, his eyes
inviting Fel’annár to speak yet again.
It was not
enough. The boy was not forthcoming at all and so Turion took a more
do you hide what you know?” he asked, his eyes slanting as he
moved closer to the recruit, watching as his face dropped and then
paled visibly—the question now was, would he lie? Deny what
Turion knew was the truth.
mean no disrespect, Sir,” he said a little too fast; he was
defending himself, realized Turion.
asked why you do it, Fel’annár. Why not allow others to
see how good you are in combat? Surely you wish to do well, impress
do, Sir—but, but that would mean . . .”
attention to yourself,” murmured Turion, understanding dawning
on him even as he spoke and his eyes strayed over the boy’s
extraordinary hair. Fel’annár’s eyes were now
wide, like a child caught stealing the honey cakes and Turion took
pity on him.
are not in trouble, Fel’annár. I wish only to understand
you. As your commanding officer, it is my place to ensure the best
recruits become available for combat training, to protect our forest
and to do that, I must first understand them, help them become the
best warriors they can be. Do you understand?”
tell me. Why do you not wish to draw attention to yourself? You are
popular with the other Silvan lads—I have seen no antagonism,”
said Turion. “Why do you stand in the shadows?”
dropped his gaze to the floor. He was uncomfortable and Turion’s
suspicions were confirmed. This boy was conflicted, for some
reason he needed to understand, wanted to understand, and a thought
suddenly occurred to him.
someone bothering you?” he asked, watching closely for the
reaction his words might provoke. “If they are, you seem more
than capable of defending yourself—why would you hide yourself
away for that reason?”
have no problems with my colleagues, Sir. I am simply uncomfortable
people crave it,” commented Turion. “Or is it that you
have had too much, of the negative kind?” he tried. His
efforts were rewarded, for there was no mistaking the expression on
must not have been easy—your childhood.”
Sir,” said the recruit quietly; but he would say no more and
Turion frowned. His hurts ran deep, he realized, and perhaps it was
not the time to push him any further. After all, he had as much
information as he needed to make his decision.
I am sending you to the city barracks for novice training. You leave
in two days.”
downcast face transformed in an instant, the dark clouds of his
troubled memories floating away, making way for a brilliant smile,
face shining almost as brightly as his eyes; such passion in one so
young, mused Turion and a shiver ran down his spine. What drove a boy
of this age to achieve what he already had and then wish to hide it
all away? He would ask one more question, and then he would entrust
the boy to Lainon.
is it that you want, Fel’annár?”
recruit’s eyes anchored calmly on Turion. There was no
self-doubt, no shame, no hesitation. Instead, there was conviction,
want to be a captain,” he said simply, no blush of
embarrassment, only resolve—and something else—absolute
following day, the Silvan recruits enjoyed their first free evening
in a while and they celebrated the day’s surprising news in
pure Silvan fashion. Fel’annár, Ramien and Idernon were
leaving for the city and novice training. News of the spiralling
conflict in the North was spreading fast and the army needed all the
hands they could get. Yet to the recruits, war was something they had
not yet seen, could not really feel, however much it pained them that
their home was being overrun. They were still too far away from the
Fortress and off the City Road. It was a distant certainty, a reality
they had only just begun to prepare for, and nervous anticipation
hung in the air.
moment though, they lay sprawled on the lawn before their dormitory,
bottles of wine both empty and full lay around them in varying states
of disarray. Carodel strummed a delicate melody on his lyre, a tune
that did not match the bawdy lyrics at all, while Ramien danced a
jig, miraculously managing not to rip his breeches in the process.
too, danced a reel with a fellow recruit of dubious skill and the
rest sat drinking and laughing.
into their cups, Carodel lent forward with only a slight loss of
balance and then peered into Fel’annár’s bright
green eyes, as if he looked into a mirror and sat mesmerized at what
you really Silvan, Fel’annár?” he slurred.
go again, he thought but this time, there was no irritation,
something only partially explainable by the copious amount of imbibed
wine—indeed it was his recent argument with Idernon and then
Turion’s words just yesterday that had somehow bolstered his
spirit, forced him to see things from a different perspective. Why
should be ashamed? Why should he hide himself away?
am—half Silvan” he said with a soft smile. “And
before you ask, my mother died when I was too young to remember her.
My aunt brought me up as her own son and I never knew my father.”
your aunt not tell you of him then?” they asked.
she never would. I would ask her incessantly whether he was Alpine,
yet I could never get her to tell me a single thing about him. It
made her nervous and she would change the subject. I have always
known there is some family scandal involved, that he must have done
something—terrible—to be banished thusly by the
Silvans of my village; I think perhaps he was an outlaw,” he
mused as if to himself. “Either that or I was just not meant to
be—an illicit child if you will—how would I know,”
he finished with a shrug, unaware of the way Idernon watched him.
are a half-breed love child then!” exclaimed the tipsy Silvan.
Ramien and Idernon closed their eyes and tensed their shoulders,
anticipating the scalding reply that Fel’annár would
smiled Fel’annár, much to his own surprise and that of
his friends. “Yes, that I am and yet I am Silvan, in all
but my colouring. It is what my heart chooses,” he added with a
wry smile, his eyes turning to Idernon and nodding almost
they all cheered and with a toast and a thunk of wooden cups,
they drank once more, only a small part of the liquid making its way
into their mouths. Idernon simply smiled and returned the nod.
said Ramien as he sat forward clumsily “The Whirling Warrior.
You are—destined for great things! he slurred.
Gollo—Gollororollon—says it is so,” he finished
with difficulty, before slurping on his wine once more and sloshing
it over his breeches.
corrected Idernon, just as inebriated as Ramien, even though he
seemed completely in control of himself and his tongue.
he explained to the others, “is the Spirit Herder of our
village. He says,” he said pensively, creating an atmosphere of
mystery and intrigue amongst the recruits and sending them into avid
silence. “He says that Hwindo here has a great future before
him. He has cast runes and has seen great battles, amongst other
things,” he trailed off, his voice now full of awe as he drank
from his cup.
else? what else did he see?” asked one young Silvan, his eyes
wide and sparkling in anticipation of the tale, for in the Silvan
culture, Spirit Herders such as Golloron were feared and revered, for
they were Ari’atór, Spirit Warriors, albeit their
weapons were not of steel but of the soul.
has predicted that Fel’annár will be a great
leader—perhaps even a captain,” said Idernon with
a proud smile, watching as the other youths nodded in awe.
there are few enough Silvan captains—it will be a welcome
thing—we will all want to serve with you, Hwindo!”
a fine thing that would be,” said Fel’annár, his
eyes misty and far away, as if he could see himself sat upon a
magnificent horse, leading his own warriors through the troubled
forests, just as he had dreamed of together with his friends since
for as long as he could remember.