A young girl undertakes a fantastic and perilous journey in a Medieval like world.
|The Lone Traveler
As the ground drew closer and closer, Analia could smell the sulfuric stench of the smoking pipes on the breeze. As she leveled off to drop her incendiary bombs on the scorpion crews, she noticed that the faces of the men on the ground were looking behind her and to her left, not directly at her; they were not even aiming their weapons. They were faces of awe, not anger. A quick glimpse behind her and she told Whiff to come around and glide back to hovering height. The other riders quickly followed her lead.
They watched in complete amazement as thousands upon thousands of war birds and dragons flew into the area. Many landed on the flat ground beyond the bridge until it was completely covered like a living carpet, others landed along the ridge tops, yet, the skies continued to fill. There were so many great birds and dragons that he early morning sunlight turned the once bright day into twilight.
Every eye was on the massive cloud of giant fliers when they slowly opened up and a giant circle appeared in the bright morning sky. The glowing circle slowly turned from bright to midnight black. The huge face of a man appeared, covering the entire circle, an ancient wise man with long flowing white hair.
“Merlin!” Analia gasped. A thought formed in her mind. “Yes, little one, it is I. Remember when I told you that mankind was once akin to the gods in their abilities, and in their science, medicine, the arts, and even war, they were unparalleled? That they also had great wars and almost destroyed this world many times?
“Yes,” Analia whispered.
“I also said the gods will never again allow mankind to become like gods again, that your world will forevermore live in the dark ages ruled by kings and conquerors?” We both know there are really no gods, per se, just the one great creator, but the timeless universal minds that made this law must be obeyed.
“Yes,” Analia whispered again.
“The Tyberians have broken that law by creating and using powder. Gunpowder has been the beginning of the end of the future for countless civilizations. It cannot and will not be allowed for it has triggered a path to advanced scientific discovery which is forbidden.”
Merlin turned his magnificent face to the great armies below. “Here me and obey!” he thundered, his mighty voice spreading throughout the land. The Tyberians have broken the laws of the gods by using forbidden science to make war. The great flying birds and dragons will dispose of those evil creations and mankind will never be allowed to use such again. Tyberia will be punished and this war is now at an end. Go you now your separate ways or the gods will unleash this ferocious flying army upon you and destroy every living human. Those who refuse to obey will suffer death and eternal pain.”
As the face started to dissolve, dozens of dragons swooped down and picked up the primitive cannons in their claws and flew away. Men everywhere threw down their arms and knelt on the ground. The massive army of birds and dragons slowly took to the skies creating a whirlwind of dust.
Lord Clynton met Prince Robert at the opening gates of the castle. Ser Ryykon walked down from the hill to join them and Analia landed Whiff on the ground and ran to hug her uncle.
“A truce” Lord Clynton stated, reaching out to shake the Prince’s hand. “I will deal for Angalund.”
“No,” Analia cried, “I, Imperial Princess Audrey will speak for Emperor John and the people of the Empire of Angalund. You, Lord Clynton, will abide by my words.”
Although shocked at the audacity of the young girl, Lord Clynton bowed his head. He had read his personal dispatch from the Emperor giving imperial decision making and power to his daughter. “As you command, Your Imperial Highness, I am forever at your service.”
“You will prepare our army to leave for Angalund as soon as logistically feasible,” Analia replied. “When that is achieved, you will join us in Prince Robert’s magisterium. I will by then have official dispatches for you to carry to my father.”
Lord Clynton bowed very low. “As you command,” he stated, turning to crisply walk away to fulfill his orders. He was well aware of the quick and deadly temper of Emperor John and many had lost their heads because of it. Let the Princess make the errors, he thought as he straightened his back and took longer strides.
“May I have a word with you and my uncle in private,” Analia asked the Prince.
“Yes Analia, I mean your Imperial Highness,” Prince Robert stated. “Please follow me.”
“Make that Analia,” she replied with a smile, “and uncle, will you please see to it that someone detains dear Emperor Licinius before we have our little discussion.”
Early the next morning, a massive crowd was gathered in the great hall of Lorainne Castle. Prince Robert, Ser Thoragild, Lord Haupt, Lord Ruolf, King Charles, and Analia sat on a high platform at the rear of the great hall. Beneath them, held in place by a hundred Royal Guards, were Emperor Licinius and his wife and son, David Alwaythe, Queen Denize, Lord Smythwaite, and Lord Connahe.
Prince Robert stood and called for quiet. It took no time at all for the enormous hall to fall silent.
“I have officially appointed Ser Ryykon Thoragild as Regent and he will rule as the King’s Protector until I am of age to assume the throne. In addition, I have appointed a new Royal Council made up of Lords and Knights who I know will support and defend the realm. I have discuss the following matters with men and lords of honor and judgement will now be passed on those who would usurp the power of the throne and those who have committed heinous crimes in the name of that power. I ask that Imperial Princess Audrey of the Empire of Angalund, read those judgements. I will also remind you that your guilt was in part ascertained by the great wizard who we all witnessed in the skies and the information he provided is without question.”
Analia stood and held a piece of royal parchment in front of her. “The following is decreed by the Royal Council, by Prince Robert, and attested to by Emperor John III of Angalund.”
“Emperor Licinius of Tyberia, you are to remove your army from any territories claimed by Camalund and forfeit the Provinces of Virina, Carolin, and Florina to the Empire of Angalund for using forbidden technology in war. For your duplicitous actions while in command of the allied armies, you will pay the treasuries of Camalund, Vituria, and Alataria one hundred thousand gold royals each. Your wife and son will be allowed to return to Tyberia only when all stipulations have been fulfilled. Failure to abide by this decree in full or in part will mean a declaration of war against the above noted kingdoms.”
“Queen Denize, for the murder of King George, for the death of Lord Alwaythe, for the plot to sell Princess Audrey, and other high crimes, you are hereby exiled to your birth home of Vituria and will remain under the guidance and justice of King Charles. You will have visitation rights with Prince Robert at his royal discretion.”
“Lord Smythwaite, you are to be executed for treason, for complicity in the death of King George, for the death of Lord Alwaythe, and the assassination attempt on Prince Robert.”
Lord Connahe, by decree of the Royal Council in Alatairia, you are to be executed for treason.”
“David Alwaythe, you are exiled from the kingdom of Angalund for plotting with Lord Smythwaite to poison Prince Robert.”
“There are other sentences for lesser crimes which will be administered in the magisterium at his convenience and upon the summons of the King’s Protector.” Analia sat down and bowed her head. She did not want to see the eyes of David Alwaythe, it hurt to know that he had conspired to commit murder.
Prince Robert stood and cleared his throat. “Will the guards please escort the sentenced from the hall.” Queen Denize stared in anger and dismay as she was taken away. The kingdom would not see the last of her, she swore to herself. Lord Smythwaite held a look of profound shock. Once they were all taken away, the Prince raised his hand for silence.
“I do have some good news for those who have displayed honor, bravery, and loyalty to the kingdom.”
“Squire Sean McAngis, it is the wish of this realm that you be knighted and given the lands and estates of the departed Lord Scherman to hold in trust. King Charles has also granted you title and lands in Vituria.”
“Squire Pieter Scherman, it is the wish of this realm that you be entered into the roils as Lord Scherman and given the title, lands and estates of the Province of Donedon.”
“Lord Haupt, we have received a dispatch from the Royal Council in Alataria. You have been proclaimed King and it is their urgent wish that you return to your kingdom for the coronation ceremonies as soon as things are returned to normal. I and Ser Thoragild will of course accompany you for the ceremonies.”
“Princess Audrey of Angalund, it is the wish of this realm that you assume the title of Lady and assume the duties and estates of Lord Smythwaite. You may appoint an executor to hold and maintain the estates. There are other appointments that will be announced at the grand feast to be held ten days from now. I would now like to return the podium back over to Princess Audrey for some final words.”
Prince Robert sat down with a big smile as Analia stood and once again addressed the assembled mass.
“I once had a dream,” Analia begin. “I was living in a land of eternal beauty, health, and peace, a place called Tír na nÓg. We called ourselves the Tuath De Danann. I grew weary of the land and chose to become human and was granted my wish” She paused to drink a sip of wine. The people in the room were mesmerized for they knew it was no dream she was telling them about, but another incredible truth.
“My father passed on to me some wisdom to follow in my new life. He told me to follow a king who would establish laws that supported equal justice and social equality, where the great Lords were sworn to treat the people under their rule in a fair and benevolent manner. I was to seek a kingdom where the great knights were sworn to protect those beneath them if injustice raised its ugly head. It would be a kingdom where each person in the realm would be given an opportunity for a peaceful and prosperous life according to their desires, where they were offered the chance to advance into the ranks of the royalty and nobles if they had the ability and desire to do so. With the help of you all, especially the nobles and knights, we can bring such a realm into being. I challenge Prince Robert to build such a kingdom for I know his heart and mind is pure.”
Analia halted and looked behind her to see Nania sobbing uncontrollably in a handkerchief. “So beautiful the woman choked out, your words are so beautiful little Audrey.”
Hours later, a small group sat in the great hall at several of the low tables. Everyone was tired from the exhausting siege, the long sleepless night, and the earlier events in the great hall. Prince Charles asked the guards to secure the doors and give them a little privacy. They sat across from each other, friends, family, heroes, and future leaders.
“My ploy with the Nordlanders was useless,” Ryykon stated. “I doubt we could have saved the realm with so few warriors. It was a chance I had to take though.”
“Emperor John tells me otherwise,” Analia smiled. “After his discussion with King Thoragson, he had made up his mind to halt the siege. Too many Anglanders had died in the battles and there was no more need to fight. He was also concerned for my safety because he knew I would stubbornly return to the struggle.”
“I have a high regard for Emperor John, Ryykon replied. He’s a cut above the average ruler, although his temper can get the best of him at times.”
Analia patted her uncle on the arm. “I think my way of seeing things may rub off on him in the future. Regardless, he is no longer a threat to the smaller kingdoms. There is plenty of land for expansion and the new provinces won from Licinius are a boon to his greedy lords.”
“A shame about David,” Sean stated. “I grew to like him, he was a charming lout.”
“His mind was warped by the two deadliest people in the kingdom,” Prince Robert replied, “Lord Smythwaite, a master schemer, and my mother, the black widow. No one, especially one David’s age, could withstand them, even I was shocked at the depths of their depravity. I love my mother, it cannot be otherwise, but I am well aware of her ability to mold people to get her way. We will not see the last of her, I fear. Perhaps young David will eventually see the error of his ways and return to us a better man, everything is possible and my forgiveness is as strong as my anger.”
“Lord Ruolf, will you accept my request and assume stewardship of my estates in Camalund?” Analia asked. “I am sure Nania will be very helpful to you.”
“Aye, I will do so lass, however, I hope it will be short and sweet. We canna afford to ave you gone from the kingdom verra long.”
“I’ll second that,” Pieter grinned glancing down the long table. “You are more a part of Camalund than Angalund and we need your sage advice and counsel and, well, yourself around.”
Talina stood to be seen. “I have some very important news. Sean and I are to be married. You must all attend the wedding. My cousin King Charles and Queen Sophie have committed to the wedding and I simply could not bear it if you all were not present.” Everyone stood and clapped their hands and wished the couple well.
“Enough of this peaking around others and standing to be seen,” Prince Robert growled. “Everyone stand.” A few moments later the tables were arrange in a square so that each could see the other.
“Much better,” he stated. “Now we can see each other in comfort. I think I will have my Royal Council and esteemed knights arrange themselves in this manner. It is much easier to discuss things when we are looking each other in the face.”
“Better yet, Your Majesty,” Analia stated, remembering something Merlin told her, “why not make it a large round table so everyone will think themselves equal. This way everyone at the table can feel that they are an important part of the discussions.”
“I like that,” Prince Robert smiled. “I like that very much. I will make it so. I will call it, ‘the Round Council.”
“All for one and one for all,” Sean blurted, laying his sword on the table. “I pledge to use me sword, Agath as I ave named it, to defend this council.” He sheepishly looked around him then nudged at Pieter in the ribs.
Pieter removed his own sword and held its gleaming blade up high. “I pledge to Prince Robert and for all to see, that I will use this, the great sword of my ancestors, with justice and mercy, to protect the innocent, aid the poor, and fight the enemies of the realm. This I do swear on my honor as a Knight and Lord of the realm.” He laid the sword on the table in front of him.
“Well said,” Lord Schermon!” Prince Robert exclaimed raising his cup in salute. “I shall henceforth comand that all my knights swear the same oath. Do you also have a name for your family sword?”
“We call it, Excalibur,” Pieter smiled back. “No one in the family knows where the name came from, it has always been so.”
The word, Excalibur, jolted an ancient memory in Analia’s mind. She glanced at Pieter sitting next to her; a warm comforting feeling came from him. Not possible, she thought.
After a short meal, the group split up to go their separate ways. Analia asked Pieter to walk with her for a bit of private conversation. “The words I spoke before the assembly about being from the land of Tír na nÓg were not just a dream, and I was once one of the Tuath De Danann, Merlin told me so. But now I am just a simple human like everyone else in this world.”
“Not everyone else,” Pieter looked at her and smiled. “I also once lived in Tír na nÓg. The sacred tree told me so, and I know you were the girl in my dreams while I stood beneath the great tree, though your back was turned and I could not see your face.”
“We are kindred spirits,” Analia returned his smile.
“I would like to think that someday we will be much more than that,” Pieter replied. “But first, I have a dream and duty to fulfill. Robert will need strong backing if he is to mold the realm into the dream that you have dreamed for him.”
“I too have a dream to fulfill,” Analia smiled back. “But I also believe that someday we will be more than kindred spirits passing through time.”
They hugged each other tight, both wishing they could disgard their dreams. But it was not possible. They separated and walked away in opposite directions.
The next morning she and Elise sat on the backs of their powerful dragons, their saddle bags packed full of provisions.
“Where are we going sister?” Elise smiled at her friend.
Analia pointed to the East, “A quick stop in Angalund and then, wherever the Dragons take us.”
This completes the first draft of my latest novel, “The Lone Traveler.” As a writer, I sincerely hope you enjoyed reading it. I am open to and I humbly encourage any suggestions to help improve any or all of it; grammar, punctuation, character development, events, timelines, smoothness of flow, terminology, and more. Your personal suggestions will aid me considerably during the long editing process.
If you enjoyed reading The Lone Traveler, read on to find more adventure with Analia and Elise in Book Two, The Dragon Riders: