The Broken SwordbyPhineas©
She seldom slept anymore, such was her power that she needed little of it. She walked through the chambers of the once mighty castle, her flawless ebony skin a sharp contrast to the gleaming white marble of the passages. It rang hollow and empty, the memory of the laughter and the language of her kind long since having faded. In its place was the rustling noise of the movement of her servants, the harshness of their guttural language, and the smell of their fur. She longed for the old days at times like this, yet the longing always reminded her of what he had taken from her. It reminded her of the unending prison she endured.
And so her anger made her stride quicken. Her white silken skirts, no more then a long loin cloth really, trailed behind her as she made her way through the hall and came out into the courtyard in front of the castle. The magic of the place remained, keeping it well maintained and free of the ravages of time. The mighty gates loomed ahead of her, though they stood open as they often did in times of peace. Without lay the mightiest city Viconia had ever seen, home to the might of the most powerful race of beings Viconia had ever known.
She cursed and moved forward, walking purposefully to the gates. The might and glory had been for nothing. In their foolishness her husband and his brother had turned from the path of power and victory and fought against those who knew that the rightful legacy of the elves was to rule all of Viconia. The ensuing civil war had broken both peoples, though in the end the dragons had come to the aid of her side and forced her foolish husband's brother into retreat. Her husband himself had been slain in battle, killed by none other then her lover.
Of her there had been no word. She had been imprisoned for hundreds of years behind the spells of the strongest of elven archmages. But they underestimated her power as well, for she had studied long and hard and found the weakness in their spells. She cancelled their wards at last, only to find herself still trapped.
Kalista stopped and looked upwards from the great plaza she stood in. Looming over her, indeed over all of Thoragloorin, was an impenetrable shield of mystical blue energy. Nothing could penetrate it, not beast nor magic. And the key to the shield lay before her. She gazed hatefully at the fountain rising from the middle of the plaza. It towered over her, 45 feet tall at the tip of the golden dragon statuette at it's center. Surrounding the gold statue were four others, each only 30 feet tall themselves and each of a separate metallic nature. One was copper, another bronze, a third brass, and the fourth was silver. Water flowed from the mouths of all of them save the gold into the pool beneath, and from their it flowed to a stream that turned into a mighty waterfall hundreds of feet high at the edge of the plaza that drained into the idyllic lake below.
On the head of the gold dragon her gaze remained fixed. A beautiful crown fashioned of an alloy of the same metals the five colossal dragon statues were made of. It sported five gleaming gemstones as well of a size so large as to make them pricelessly unique. A ruby, an emerald, a sapphire, a diamond, and a black pearl. The crown was that magic that maintained the seal separating Thoragloorin from Viconia, and the crown itself was protected by great magics she could not penetrate. Indeed, she could come no closer then 15 feet to the tower herself, and her servants were halted from within 5 feet of it.
She cursed and stared over the city that was her domain. It remained timeless and forever frozen in beauty, yet it was also lifeless. Other beings remained, even a few that had wandered in from the outside over the years, but escape was impossible. Of those who remained they stayed to themselves and sought no quarrel with her. She was the undisputed Queen of Thoragloorin, something undisputed thanks to both her magic and her powerful army.
Back when the elves had ruled Viconia and been contested only by orcs, giants, ogres, and some dragons they had a race of servants known as doguren. The doguren were short, standing little over three feet tall, and looked a cross between a dog and a elf. Covered in fur and with long snouts, they possessed the arms and legs of a humanoid and a simple intelligence. When Myragordamar's brother, King Thindamar Risingmoon renounced the proper path of the elves he had likewise ordered all doguren set free to do as they would. Many remained behind, however, content in their servitude, only more so now that they would be treated more kindly.
The doguren that had served Kalista remained with her as well, though she had magically bound them to her. They bred and reproduced, encouraged by her magic over the thousands of generations into larger and more capable creatures. Now they stood nearly 7 feet tall and possessed powerful muscles and thick hides. Most importantly they numbered in the thousands and each one would die for her gladly. She was their Goddess.
But that cheered her little. They all were prisoners. When the elves had been banished they had put up such wards as were present to forever separate Thoragloorin from the world. Kalista was forgotten in the process, sealed away like so many of the ancient elven riches she now possessed that were worthless to her. Thousands of years had passed and she waited, brooding and increasing her magic. The blessing of immortality was also a curse, she had realized long ago.
Part 1 : The Legacy of Birth
Elvanshalee clenched her teeth through the searing pain of the contraction, forcing her mind to stay calm. She was alone in her tower, the tower she had raised with her own hands and magic from the very earth that had been the center of her mother's sacred grove. If she were to lose her concentration now all that she had worked for would be lost; years of sacrifice and toil for a greatness that was beyond anything any elf had achieved in their life.
On the edge of her consciousness she remembered what she had been forced to endure to reach the point she was now at. It had been costly, but if it was more so in her pride and self identity than it was in pain and blood, it was only by a narrow margin.
Her interest in dragonkind had been with her since she was a child. It only grew as she grew, and having the honor of fighting alongside Luingirth against Ancaruin was something she considered the pinnacle achievement of her life. Nothing could surpass it, until another idea occurred to her after having overhead one of Garrick's many lewd comments to Luingirth.
Five years spent in research and what little experimentation she could undertake yielded some partial results to her. During her time spent in solitude she sought no one for advice or companionship except for Luingirth. He was an ancient dragon, by elven or dragon standards, yet his youthful demeanor was surely the cause of his bond with Kelnozz Risingmoon, or as most knew him, the King of the Elves. She shared some of her research with him, and in the end after finally confiding all of it to him he filled in the missing blanks with his eons of knowledge he had amassed.
Elvanshalee sought to merge her magic with that of the world, magic that dragons were able to easily pull upon. Magic that Alesha could harness with ease, much to Elvanshalee's annoyance. Alesha, a mere human woman that rose far above her station and her worth. Beyond even that which her mortality should allow for potential. Such a short lived race, humans, yet a few did seem to shine from time to time and burned so brightly that they left spots in the vision of others for generations to come. Alesha was one of those, as was Yamara, the troubled and somewhat surly rogue that Elvanshalee had felt the most kinship too, if only for her aloofness.
Her thoughts were forced back to the matter at hand as she endured another contraction. It would be soon now, she knew it. Elves typically carried a child for nearly 2 years before giving birth. This one had come much quicker, no doubt a legacy of it's unnatural parentage. She had cast her auguries and done her best to divine the nature of it, but even her mightiest magics could learn nothing of it. She was at a loss.
She had considered destroying the child as soon as it was conceived, reaching inside of her with a tendril of her magic and dispatching it. But, at the behest of Luingirth she had abstained. That was her end of the deal, in fact, that whatever fruit was born of there unnatural and highly magical union would be allowed the chance to survive. Luingirth was not as his kin, thus he would never find another blue dragon with which to mate. Instead they had used their individual shape shifting magics to allow such a union to take place.
The contractions were coming quicker then. She bore down and muttered barely heard words that soothed the pain and eased the babies progress through her birth canal. It was still another half an hour before the crying child emerged fully into the world. She studied it through exhausted eyes and noted somewhat clinically that it was a girl. A girl with dark skin and eyes the color of shimmering sapphires. Black hair was wetly plastered to her head. Elvanshalee breathed deeply and wrapped the baby in a rag, cleaning the mucus and blood from it.
She studied it briefly before speaking softly in elvish. "Your name shall be Vanya, little one, and your life shall be filled with harshness and toil, but I promise you that I shall do everything I can to prepare you for it."
She slid a dagger through the umbilical cord then, severing it instantly so magically sharp was it. Instantly she felt a surging tremor within her. Elvanshalee gasped as she felt another contraction nearly double her over. She set her daughter on the table beside her and felt her insides scream at her, forcing her tortured muscles to push anew. In a matter of only a few moments this time she gave birth again, though this time it was something that caused her eyes to widen in fear and amazement. It was over a foot in length and oval shaped. The membrane surrounding it was torn from the tremors of the birthing, and it slid wetly off of where it lay between her legs on the ruined cloth.
Although smaller than she would have though possible there was no mistaking it; it was a dragon egg.
"Bobo!" screamed the second mate of the elven caravel, Dolphinchaser, in warning.
Bobocateya thrust his rapier through the stomach of the human pirate and spun around gracefully to see what the warning was about. To late he realized he was out of position to deal with the new threat, a large man wielding a crudely fashioned short sword that resembled a meat cleaver.
Bobo spun away and threw up his arm with the small buckler on it to try and deflect the descending edge away from him. His maneuver saved his life, but cost him his sword hand as the heavy blade glanced off the buckler and sheared through the wrist of his other arm as he tried to bring his rapier to bear. Bob fell back, stunned by the numbing devastation to his arm. He held it up, watching the blood spurt from it, in shocked wonder, and was only spared death by an archer from the as-yet unengaged forecastle skewering his latest assailant.
The second mate, Halidor, was there then, forcing his way through the crowd of combatants with only a few scratches. He pulled Bobo closer to the forecastle, where they were in a small isle of calm amidst the battle, and cursed loudly and repeatedly while tearing the straps off of the buckler Bobo wore and tying them around his pulsing stump in an attempt to lessen the flow of blood.
"You're father's going to have my skin for letting you get injured like this, now stay out of the way lest he demands my life for letting you get run through by a pirate!" The mate growled, tightening down on the strap so instead of a steady spurt of blood it was reduced to a trickle.
"Stay low and pray a healer survives the battle, Prince."
Bobo stared absently after the retreating second mate. Already he was back in battle, though he kept an eye on the prince and stayed close in case any of the pirates attempted to attack him. Bobo's attention was soon drawn back to his blood stump, wondering how it was possible that such an injury could have occurred. To him, of all people! Such things were not suppose to happen to him.
All his life Bobocateya Risingmoon had lived in the shadow of his mother and father. Two great people of unsurpassed skill and power, let alone station. Only his unique legacy of being the only half-human, half-elven person on all of Viconia had kept him from being forgotten by his childhood friends and tutors. He had to be special, it was in his blood!
And so for all of his childhood and young adulthood Bobo had gone out of his way to prove that he was worthy of his heritage. He took risks where others would not, he would run harder, drink longer, force himself to greater feats of endurance, and generally try to outdo anyone around him. His life was one of constant contest. He did battle on whatever field he found himself on, including those in his mind. In spite of that he often lost, though by any means he gave a good accounting of himself and, in the case of a true contest, would often finish near the top.
But the hand on his sword arm was an insult as well as an injury. Not thinking, he tried to clench his missing fist, something he often did when he was frustrated. The numbness faded as his torn muscles tried to obey him, making tears come to his eyes and dropping him to his knees with the pain of it.
After several long moments of clutching the bloody stump he looked up and vaguely noticed the battle was nearly over. Only a few pirates survived, the elves were seasoned naval veterans and outnumbered the pirate frigate by almost half again their number. It was a foregone conclusion, but still the pirates had put up a fierce battle when it became apparent they could not escape.
The rear bombard on the pirate ship had only been able to fire once, narrowly missing the Dolphinchaser, before keen elven eyes sent arrows into the crew that worked it, slaying them and keeping others away. The elves' fore mounted bombard then fired with impunity, striking three times before the pirates came about and all but crashed into the side of the Dolphinchaser.
The pirates fought to the last man, unwilling to suffer the mercy elves showed pirates, which was to swing from a yardarm by a rope about the. In a matter of minutes the fight was over and the cries of the wounded went up. Halidor returned to the prince and helped him to his feet. The puddle of blood under him was sizeable, but one way or another he would survive, even if the second mate had to sear the wound shut.
On their way to the aft cabin where the healers kept a makeshift infirmary they heard a cry go up. Halidor pushed forward, to hear the news that their high priest had fallen to a stray shot from a pistol. He cursed and turned back to Bobo, who looked about confused and uncertain. Halidor frowned and pulled the boy back forward towards the officer's ready room.
"Prince, you need to stay with me now, fight off the shock," Halidor said once they were near the doorway and out of immediate earshot of the others.
Bobo looked at the man, only vaguely aware of him. He felt so tired and weak he just wanted a chance to rest and let the dream he was in unfold so he could wake up and be back to normal. His fantasy was shattered abruptly when Halidor's fist crashed into the side of his jaw, snapping him fully into reality.
"My apologies, my Prince, but it's for your own good," Halidor said, staring intently at him. "The priest is dead, My Lord, and I'm afraid you're not much better off unless we take care of that arm."
Bobo glanced down at his throbbing arm, understanding what was happening but still at a loss for why it had happened and how it could possibly happen to him. He took a deep shuddering breath and forced himself to stay calm. What would his father have done in his situation?
"We've no magic to restore it here, make it a clean cut, Halidor, and burn it shut," Bobo said, fighting back the tears of frustration, terror, and pain admirably.
Halidor nodded, smiling grimly for reassurance, and turned to the door. Bobo pulled back, stopping him. "No, let us do it on the deck so the others can see."
"Why, My Lord?" Halidor asked, not understanding.
"We are all the same, my friend," Bobo said, some of the weariness from blood loss and extreme stress beginning to creep back into his mind. "Let them see that I am treated no different then anyone else would be."
Halidor nodded. He had been told that his charge was stubborn and obstinate at times. It appeared that could be both a blessing and a curse. He just hoped the boy was not trying to show off, as he had been known to do from time to time.
"Make a hole!" Halidor called out, leading the wounded prince back onto the deck. The sailors fell away, noticing finally the grievous wound that Bobo had taken. Whispers rushed through the crowd, soon falling to silence.
The captain and the remaining healer, little more then an acolyte studying under the priest, came forward. Bobo knelt down and raised his hand alongside the main mast. The captain stepped forward and studied it while Halidor silently drew his cutlass.
"Prince, are you sure of this? If we make best speed we can be back in port in less then a week. With a steady tourniquet, a little luck, and the efforts of Acolyte Pariloosia, you should make it, where it can be healed properly," the captain said, doubting his own words but not wanting to run the risk of upsetting the heir to the throne. Kelnozz was respected, admired, and followed gladly. His son was somewhat of an upstart though, and needed much tempering before he would be half the leader his father was, let alone a quarter of the warrior.
"We have work to do, Captain, and that does not include returning to port 3 weeks shy. Par is a fine healer but this is no simple wound," Bobo said, surprising himself with the strength in his voice.
"That's your sword arm, Highness, you'll never wield your rapier again," the captain reminded him, offering him one final chance, though he was secretly impressed with the maturity Bobo was displaying.
Bobo's eyes fell on the pistol tucked into Captain Dilmornigest's belt and an idea came to him. "I'll have to learn to wield it with my left hand then, I suppose. Besides, there are other uses for this once it's taken care of."
The captain searched Bobo's eyes and nodded. He turned to Halidor and nodded as well, giving him permission to proceed. Par stepped forward then and summoned up what remained of her healing magic. She touched Bobo's arm and channeled it into him, surprising herself with the severity of the wound. Her blessing touch brought a cool relief to him and gave him a few moments free of pain while her magic cleaned out any potential infection and secured life in the remaining tissue.
When the healer backed away Halidor waited for Bobo to nod to him again. He drew his cutlass back and let it swing forward, guided with all his strength and aimed with years of experience tempered in countless battles. The blow fell as intended, shortening Bobo's forearm by another 2 inches but letting it end in a stub instead of a sharply angled spike.
Bobo gritted his teeth and felt the bone jarring blow land. He stared at his arm and pulled it to himself, cradling it with his uninjured hand. Halidor wrenched his cutlass away from the mainmast and reached down to help the prince to his feet. Bobo rose unsteadily, blood dripping through his fingers to the deck. A brazier with glowing coals was being fetched and in a moment it was sitting beside him. Bobo glanced over and saw that his rapier had been broken at some point during the battle after he had dropped it. He gestured towards it and someone brought him the hilt of it. He thrust the hilt into the brazier and let his arm hang at his side, dripping blood steadily to the deck.