A young farm girl undertakes a fantastic and perilous journey in a Medieval like world.
|The Lone Traveler
As they cowered in the thick foliage and behind the huge trees and rock formations, Pieter and Aideen were quietly joined by Talina and Sean.
“It looks as if the entire flight wing of dragons is after us,” Sean remarked. “They must have followed you to our location, Talina.”
“Unlikely,” Talena replied. “When I left Analia she was leading the War Birds and Dragon Riders in the other direction. Plus, it took me a while to confront David and load him onto my dragon and the skies were clear.”
As they continued to listen to the noisy beat of mighty wings, another great wave of giant fliers slowly sailed over their location. This flight was even larger than the dragon formation that had just passed over.
“The War Birds,” Talina remarked. “Analia must have lost her fight and they are chasing the Dragon Riders. It may be possible they don’t actually know we are here.”
As they continued to listen to the beat of mighty wings, the sound slowly faded. They realized they must have landed near because the noise quickly abated.
“They must have landed on that large open field on top of the cliff,” Aideen surmised. “They are probably preparing to fight each other.”
“Doesn’t make sense,” Pieter stated. “Both were trained to do battle in the skies, not on the ground, and the war birds outnumber the dragons two or three to one. Something isn’t right, let’s go to the top and see what we can uncover.”
The entire band slowly made their way through the thick underbrush and slippery shale to the top of the cliff, even the outlying guards joined them. If there was to be a battle, they would need all their strength. As they broke through the thick foliage into the large open field, they spotted the flying giants and their riders. On one side of the field sat the Dragon Riders. On the other side of the field an even larger group of Valkyri sat in their saddles on the mighty War Birds. The moon lit up the area so they were all clearly visible.
“They’re just sitting there looking across the field at each other,” Carrick whispered. As he finished speaking, they noticed that riders on both sides were trying to urge their mounts to obey them. For some reason they all refused to do so. The birds and dragons were looking at each other across the open field but made no move to attack.
Suddenly, they heard the beat of more wings flapping in the sky. They glanced up and saw one large dragon and two riders gently glide down and land in the center of the open field. The dragon landed gracefully and Analia slowly slid down from her saddle. One of the giant war birds hopped across the field, its Valkyri rider completely unable to control it.
“Join me in the center of the field,” Analia yelled, loud enough that riders on both sides could clearly hear her. “You also,” she continued, motioning towards Pieter and the group of outlaws now standing in the open. “Do not bring your weapons; this is not a place to fight.” As she spoke, a gigantic troll looking woman slid down from behind the saddle, fell actually, and landed on the soft grass. She immediately bent over to the ground and started retching and moaning and muttering something that sounded like, never again.
Very slowly, the Dragon Riders slid from their saddles and placed their lances and bows back into their sheaths. The Valkyri Rider closest to Analia, turned and motioned for her riders to do the same, then dismounted. All three groups nervously converged on Analia. When they stood facing each other with deep suspicion and caution, Analia raised her hands.
“Many of you do not know me,” she stated, slowly glancing around. “I am Analia and I have the ability to communicate with the dragons and war birds.” A loud murmur spread throughout the groups, many highly skeptical of her incredulous claim.
“So that you will know that I speak no lie, I will demonstrate,” Analia responded. “I will speak so that you can hear me, but the dragons and war birds will read my mind-speak.” She turned to Whiff and spoke. “Whiff; please have your fellow dragons jump up and down.” As soon as she finished, every dragon on the field started bouncing up and down.
“This is stupid, Little Lady,” Whiff mind-spoke. “It makes me feel silly to do tricks like some pet dog.”
“These humans will not believe me if I don’t demonstrate my ability to communicate with you,” Analia regretfully replied. She then turned towards the huge war bird nearest her. “Primus, please have your people hop up and down.” She spoke so everyone could hear.
“We get your point,” Primus mind-spoke. “These humans are a might bit on the dumb side.” The large flock of war birds started hopping up and down. They stopped when she mind-spoke again.
“The dragons and the Tertius, War Birds as you know them, have been enemies for thousands of years. They are fed up with their war and have decided to settle their differences. They have also decided that they are tired of humans treating them like animals. They are not animals; they are thousands of years older and wiser than the human race in many ways. Henceforth, they demand the respect their kind deserves.”
Talina walked over to join her. “What of us?” she asked, pointing at the Dragon Riders and Valkyri. “We have also been enemies for hundreds of years.”
Analia replied; “If the Dragons and Tertius have the intelligence and fortitude to finally settle their differences, cannot we humans demonstrate to them that we also are not just, stupid animals?” She pointed at the Valkyri who had ridden Primus. “What is your name, great warrior?”
The woman looked surprised. She was probably three and twenty at most and possessed a beautiful physique and attractive heart shaped face. “Heike,” she replied. “Wing Commander of the Valkyri.”
“Heike, will you and your Valkyri join us around a peaceful fire and discuss things in a civilized manner? I guarantee you and also Commander Raeda of the Dragon Riders, that none of your mounts will respond to your orders until we have settled our differences.” They slowly agreed and elected to build a large fire in the middle of the field. Sean sent runners back to the campsite to collect food and drink. There was no need for stealth as all the air assets on both sides was located on the field
“We are going to need more men,” Arthfael jokingly remarked, as he and several others left to gather the provisions. “With all the riders on both sides I reckon the ladies here outnumber the men at least five to one, and they’re all gorgeous.”
“Speak for yourself,” Carrick smiled. “I know I can handle my five women and would be willin’ to help you with yours if you’re nae man enough.”
They sat around the warm fire, which had grown to bonfire proportions, and talked back and forth until just before dawn broke over the surrounding mountain tops. When a runner reached them well after midnight with the news that Alataria and Camalund had made a mutual defense treaty and that Ser Thoragild had been placed in command of the combined armies, they finally made a pact to join forces.
Having acted as go-between and arbitrator throughout the long night, Analia was far too pensive and restive to try to sleep. She decided to take a short stroll through the awakening dawn to smell the freshness of the air and bask in the victorious union which had been achieved between humans, dragons, and war birds. It was not long before she found herself standing in front of a massive hawthorn tree. How she had found the tree, or what had guided her to this particular spot in the forest, she did not know.
She stood in awe of the beautiful tree and felt the hidden presence of others, but when she glanced around, she knew that she was alone. Suddenly, like mind-speak, she heard a soft voice in her head.
“Come closer my child, so I may better feel your presence.”
Analia obeyed and walked forward until she was only a few feet from the great spreading tree.
Suddenly, a form appeared in her mind. It was the old wizard she had seen in her dreams back in Alataria. His eyes were shockingly blue, and a great white beard hung down midway on his chest. His long white hair flowed over his shoulders and blended with his pure white robe. His face was weathered and creased from age. He held a tall wooden staff in his age spotted hands. The wizard smiled and her fear suddenly evaporated. She could sense that he meant her no harm.”
“I am called many names by many peoples, Seiðmenn, Njord, Ra, but please think of me by the name that most of your people call me, Merlin. I reside in a place named, Avalonia, wherein lives gods and heroes. I met with you on one earlier occasion, but your mind was strong enough to break my tenuous bond.”
“Why would a great wizard wish to talk with me?” Analia asked, suddenly frightened.
“You have a key purpose in life, Analia. As a child you were placed among your people to act as a catalyst so other great things could happen. You were also placed there to hide and protect you from very evil and extremely powerful gods. You may never learn what it is that you have helped to create, but, rest assured future generations will live safe and comfortable lives because of it.”
“I know nothing of magic or gods or how or why things became the way they are,” Analia replied. “Why must I be a key to things I do not understand?”
The wise white wizard continued to smile creating in her a sense of security and a feeling of warmth and peace. “Many thousands of years ago, mankind lived in great cities, like the one you witnessed in your dream. They were like gods in their abilities, and in their science, medicine, the arts, and war, they were unparalleled. They even reached for the stars in their mighty ships. Their pride and disdain turned them away from love and beauty and peace and they undertook a great war. Most of the world was covered with fireballs like small suns, all life almost perished, few were left. The war was so terrible it split open the cosmos and released creatures and beings from parallel worlds and other dimensions, leaving them free to roam the earth. That is where your dragons and war birds came from, and many others creatures you have yet to note. The inimitable war also created a rift in space and time, opening a portal to the old gods who once were powerful on earth but only remembered as legends and in myth. They will also never allow mankind to become like gods again. Your world will forevermore live in the dark ages ruled by kings and conquerors.”
“I fail to see what impact a mere girl can have on the future. I am no goddess and I have no power to fight gods and otherworldly beings.”
“But there you are wrong, Analia. I shall henceforth call you by your original name which is, Eirean. You are more than you think or know. You were born in Avalonia. When you grew up you chose to live in Tír na nÓg, the supernatural realm of everlasting youth, beauty, health, abundance, and joy. You were one of the Tuath De Danann, the people of Tír na nÓg. You eventually fell out of love with living a life of carefree joy and happiness so you elected to give up your immortality and powers and become human. You had yourself created into a human body as a child and I placed you in that farmer’s field where you were found. You are now human and will one day die like all humans.”
“If I gave up all my godlike powers to become human, how can I be the catalyst of which you speak, and why are you telling me of my past when I chose to forget it?”
“You gave up your powers, Eirean, but some of that power did not give up on you. It is not what you are, Analia, it is who you are. As for your past, when we have finished here you will remember nothing which has transpired. You will remember but one thing, my name, Merlin. The reason you will remember that is that I will come to your aid and I will give you advice when you need it the most. Why? Because you are the daughter of the greatest human I ever met during my one time mortal existence.”
“I have a father and a mother?” Analia asked. “What is their names?”
“His name is, Arthur,” the white wizard replied. “You were born in Avalonia after his mortal death.
“King Arthur was/is nothing but legend,” Analia gasped. “How can I be the daughter of a legend?”
“All legends have a basis in fact,” Merlin stated. “While some of his legend was created by the fruitful minds of romantic writers and dreamers, I can assure you that King Arthur lived and died and created a great legacy.”
“Why do the gods want mankind to live in misery and darkness? What right do the gods have to prevent humans from enjoying a peaceful and prosperous life? And, if my father was such a great man, why would he allow such to be?”
“All good questions, Eirean,” Merlin replied. “If mankind is allowed to follow the same path undertook in past histories, and there were many histories lost in time thus unknown to the descendants of mankind, who took the same path, it will inevitably lead to another cataclysmic destruction of the world. The gods - what you humans think of as gods - have decreed that this must never be allowed to happen again. The world has been destroyed far too many times by the ignorant and uncaring hand of mankind.”
“Is it not evil to allow some people to live like royalty and wealthy nobles while others suffer starvation and sickness and poverty?” Analia asked. “Would my great father support such intolerance and injustice?”
“Mankind has always produced injustice and equality, they are traits learned from the warped minds of power hungry men and women. No system has ever been perfect, Eirean, there is no utopia,” Merlin replied. “A system called democracy once existed in the land where you now live thirty thousand years ago. It was as corrupt as many systems of royalty and the empires that mankind built. Instead of passing power to those educated into the ways of being good rulers, they elected unqualified, evil, and corrupt people with silver tongues, who used the power entrusted in them to obtain greater wealth and more power. Democracy, like the very thing your friends now propose with their, ‘all for one and one for all,’ has never and will never work. It is the same path that will lead to humankind’s ultimate destruction again, if not by their hand, than by the hands of the gods.”
Analia took time to digest the incredible information that Merlin was passing to her. If what he was saying was true, and she had no reason not to believe him, humankind had always been and would always be its own worst enemy. “You are saying that my kind do not have the ability to exist without embracing fundamental principles that would maintain inequality and injustice?”
“You spoke of what your father would do, Eirean?” Merlin replied. “It is not what he would do to create a better society it is what he has already done. As King in Camelot, your father established many laws that supported equal justice and social equality. The great Lords were sworn to treat the people under their rule in a fair and benevolent manner. The great knights were sworn to protect those beneath them if injustice raised its ugly head. Each person in the realm not only lived a peaceful and prosperous life according to their desires, they were offered the chance to advance into the ranks of the royalty and nobles if they had the ability to do so. That is the legacy your father built, but it was destroyed when he died, by evil men seeking advantage and power over all others. That, Eirean, is what you and your rebel friends must fight to achieve. Your father’s dream must become your dream. Go now, little one, your friends and your future await you. I know your father will be proud of all that you do.”
Analia awoke suddenly. She was lying on the ground in front of the massive hawthorn tree. She must have passed out from fatigue for the sun was up and the birds were making their early morning music. She knew that she had had strange dreams, but she could not remember them.
When she stumbled back to the great campfire, which was now just smoldering embers, she noticed that activity was spreading. The great mounts were being prepared for flight, riders were assigned to carry the non-riders, food was being consumed and the faces of everyone showed an eagerness and enthusiasm which was missing before she left for her stroll.
“What am I to do?” a sudden voice asked, jolting Analia from her reverie. She turned to see the fidgeting form of Nania standing behind her.
“I cannot get on the back of one of those horrid dragons again,” Nania twitched. “I swear I will fall and die.”
“Why must you do so?” Analia asked, glancing quizzically at the fervent activity.
“Everyone is going to Lorainne,” Nania replied. “Pieter just received news that Ser Thoragild requested the messenger to inform him of his pardon and that he wished to discuss matters with him at his earliest convenience. A blanket pardon has also been issued for the outlaws, including Talina, noting that if they wish to return to Camalund and meet with Ser Thoragild he will make all pardons official. They elected to accept his terms and everyone is going.”
“My uncle didn’t mention us,” Analia mused. “Are we to be offered a pardon too, or has Queen Lizbeta turned them all against us?”
“He better take care of you, Little Lady.” The words came from Whiff via mind-speak. “If he doesn’t I’ll turn them all into broiled lobsters. You better get yourself geared up, everyone is ready to leave.”
“What of poor Nania?” Analia mind-spoke. “I fear she cannot make herself go back into the sky.”
Before Whiff could answer, Pieter approached her and asked if she was well. “We missed you and Sean sent a party out looking for you earlier but they returned without finding you. Are you injured or hurt?”
Analia noticed the deep concern on his handsome face. “No trouble, except for Nania. She refuses to go back into the air.”
“No problem,” Pieter gave her a warm smile. “There is a group of Khelti who also refuse to have anything to do with leaving the ground. She can make her way back to Lorainne with them. I am certain they will take care of her.”
“More likely she will take care of them,” Analia returned the smile. “If you haven’t noticed, Nana can certainly take care of herself.”
“I will escort Lady Nania to that group, with your permission,” Pieter replied, “while you are preparing yourself to go.”
“Lady Nania?” Nania’s eyes lit up. “I am definitely no lady, young man,” she harrumphed, giving him her famously monstrous smile.
An hour later the formation cleared the mountains surrounding Lorainne. They were shocked to see a vast army of Sidhe standing on the parade field in perfect formation. Analia word-spoke to the dragons and war birds to land in front of the massive gates, and signaled their riders to follow her. She noticed a large crowd standing on the balcony of the largest keep in the castle. She did not know if the army below was preparing to storm the castle or making other demands.
Within minutes, eight and ten Dragon Riders and one and fifty war birds settled smoothly on the grass just beyond the castle wall. They presented a formidable and frightening collection of might and ferocity. No army, without scorpions, could possibly stand against them.
Analia slid down from her saddle and walked boldly towards the mighty Sidhe Army.
If you would like to read more of Analia's continuing adventures, all chapters have now been posted. Chapter Twelve at: