Broken Alliance

The official story of the White War (not concluded)


by Coljrudder

Lathaon sighed in happiness as the coast of the White Realm grew ever larger on the horizon. He could now make out the outlines of the buildings along the waterline as his ship, a powerful galleon of the Weissland Royal Navy, sailed quickly landward, propelled by a stiff wind from the south. It had been some time since he had last set foot on the soil of the White Realm, almost a year, and he longed to once more be in the company of Sunnycool, Lord of the White Realm and one of Lathaon’s closest friends. As the ruler of Weissland, Lathaon had made it a priority to ally himself with Sunnycool and the Realmers, as he knew such an alliance would benefit both of the two nations, so similar in culture and ideals. Long had Weisslanders and Realmers stood together, and Lathaon could not see the possibility of the alliance failing before the end of his prolonged Elvish life.

A cool, smooth hand suddenly rubbed along his face and a head rested on his shoulder. “Thank goodness we’re almost there,” said a female voice, and Lathaon looked out of the corner of his eye to see his wife Arhaina next to him.

“I agree,” said Lathaon, looking back at the shoreline before turning and sliding his arms around Arhaina. “I can’t wait to see Sunnycool and the others.”

“Yes, it should be good to see Louise and Caitlin again as well,” said Arhaina, following her husband’s gaze to the ever-growing buildings of Port Ortin, their immediate destination.

“Perhaps we can go with them to Villiath,” said Lathaon, pulling away from his wife slightly so he could look her in the eyes. “I’m sure it’s beautiful this time of year.”


“It’s a city in the southwest of the Realm, beyond the Villiath mountains,” explained Lathaon. “It’s surrounded by rolling plains and rivers. The view of the mountains is beautiful, and the mix of the cool mountain air and the sea breeze is fantastic.”

Arhaina smiled. “It sounds wonderful.”

“Then I’ll set it up with Sunnycool and the others as soon as we arrive at the White City,” said Lathaon happily. Turning to look at the coast once more, he saw that they were now only twenty minutes out, and said, “You should begin to get your things together.”

“Aye,” came the loud, rough voice of the captain from the stern of the ship. Lathaon and Arhaina turned to look at him as he continued, “We should be docking soon, Milord and Lady.”

“Thank you,” said Lathaon with a nod.

“Of course, Milord,” replied the captain with a bow.

Arhaina kissed Lathaon on the cheek and moved off to begin gathering her things. Lathaon watched her go, smiling at her even though he knew she could not see. She was beautiful, an Elven woman of proud bearing who stood slightly shorter than Lathaon and had flowing light brown hair that reached midway down her back; the tips of her pointed Elven ears poked out from her strands of hair. As he watched her go about gathering the scattered articles of clothing she had left out to dry in the sun on the ship, Lathaon knew that nothing could come between him and his happiness.

By the time Arhaina had packed up all her things back into her bags, the ship was pulling into the largest dock in Port Ortin. As Lathaon expected, there was an honor guard of White Realm soldiers waiting on the dock, presumably to escort him to the White City. However, as the ship drew closer, Lathaon was confused by the looks on the soldiers’ faces. There was confusion, injury, and even hate in these men’s eyes, but the overall look was grim and determined.

The ship finally came to a stop and several Weissland sailors placed a gangplank down in order so that Lathaon and Arhaina could disembark. Taking his wife’s hand, Lathaon drew her close and began to walk down the gangplank. As they reached the bottom, Lathaon smiled and said, “Good afternoon, gentlemen. How is my old friend, Lord Sunnycool? I assume you were sent to escort us to the White City.”

“That is correct,” said one of the soldiers, stepping forward. He was broad-shouldered and bearded, and carried a pike that had some kind of ornamentation on the head. “Lord Lathaon Thaendil, you are under arrest by order of Lord Sunnycool.”

Lathaon took a step back, more out of surprise than out of fear. “What?” he asked incredulously. “On what charges?”

“No charges,” said the lead soldier, but before Lathaon could ask for further explanation, the soldier added, “You are being held as a prisoner of war.”

“Prisoner of war?” asked Lathaon. “What are you talking about?”

“I’m sorry, but I am not at liberty to tell you any more than that,” said the soldier. “Now please, Milord, come quietly and you will not be harmed.”

“What about my wife?”

“She will remain in custody with us as well.”

“She bloody well will not!” replied Lathaon angrily, his face darkening. This caused the soldiers some distress, and a few of them raised their shields to protect themselves.

“Lord Thaendil, surrender or we will have no choice but to take you forcefully,” said the soldier.

Suddenly, however, the clunk of a crossbow being fired echoed across the otherwise-quiet harbor, and a crossbow bolt shot past Lathaon’s head and embedded itself in the mast. There was a moment of surprise when no one moved, and then suddenly, spurred on by the attack, the other Realmers with crossbows raised them to fire. Seeing the danger, Lathaon grabbed Arhaina and dove with her to the wooden deck. A volley of six crossbows shot through the space they had just been in, some hitting soldiers on the deck and others continuing on thought the air and eventually going into the water.

Even before Lathaon hit the deck, he was already conjuring words of magic, and a moment later, thrusting his staff forward, a bolt of fiery energy shot towards the front of the group of soldiers and smashed into them, knocking them down. One of the soldiers rolled off of the deck and into the water with a yell, while the others struggled to get back up after the crushing blow dealt to them by Lathaon’s spell. Several soldiers rushed the gangplank, while those with crossbows stayed back and began the long, time-consuming process of reloading. Seeing the soldiers rushing towards him, Lathaon jumped up and pointed his staff at the lead soldier. As Arhaina rolled back onto the deck, and to safety, Lathaon unleashed a ball of fire which caught the lead Realmer square in the face. The soldier staggered backwards, screaming as his face burned away, and knocked one of his fellows into the water before falling in himself. Lathaon was able to knock another soldier off with a fire bolt before the two remaining soldiers were directly in front of him. He leapt backwards onto the deck and prepared to conjure another fire bolt when two arrows flew through the air and struck the soldiers, one in the neck and the other in the armpit.

Lathaon turned to see two of the sailors each drawing another arrow, preparing to shoot at the crossbowmen below. Turning to the captain, Lathaon yelled, “Get us out of here!”

“I’m trying!” replied the Captain, who had already begun shouting orders to his men. “The tailwind’s too strong! It’s blowing in the other direction!”

“Damn!” shouted Lathaon as another volley of crossbow bolts peppered the ship, hitting several crewmen and sending them down or overboard. One bolt narrowly missed the Elven Lord, and he responded with a furious barrage of fire bolts which sent the Realmers scattering. “Captain! We’ve got time! Get us moving!”

“Just let me realign the sails!” replied the Captain as the men began to change the positioning of the forward sails to try to harness the wind.

Lathaon turned back to the dock and now saw that a new group of soldiers had appeared at the edge and was running down towards the Weissland ship. “Captain, now!”

“I’m trying!”

Chanting another spell, this one longer and more difficult, Lathaon pointed his staff at the charging soldiers and unleashed a wall of fire at them. It knocked the first wall of the soldiers back and set some of them alight, causing them to jump into the water to save themselves. However, the other soldiers leapt over their fallen comrades and continued to rush the ship, reaching the gangplank and beginning up it. “Captain!” Suddenly, the ship lurched and began to move slowly backwards.

“We’ve got it! We’ve got it!” shouted the captain.

“Yes!” shouted Lathaon happily as the ship moved back. The gangplank was rotated as the ship left, as it was trying to stay connected to both the dock and the ship. Ultimately, it achieved neither goal, and fell into the water, taking the soldiers on it down into the shallow harbor.

The ship continued to move backwards, and the captain turned the wheel and anxiously shouted, “Realign the sails, I’m turning her about. We need to get out of here!”

“What’s the rush?” asked Lathaon, wondering why the captain was so worried.

“Let’s go, people, move!” shouted the captain before turning to Lathaon. “Milord, the Realmers know you’re here. They tried to arrest you, and they’ve most likely sent ships to blockade the port. We need to get out of here before those ships arrive.”

“Right,” said Lathaon, nodding.

The ship began to come about and was finally facing towards the exit to the harbor, moving slowly because of the strong headwind. Suddenly, at the corners of the harbor, two ships could be seen, slowly moving towards the center, and the Weisslanders’ escape route. “There they are,” said the captain grimly.

“Will we have enough speed to get out before they intercept us?” asked Lathaon.
Shaking his head sadly, the captain said, “We’d need a miracle to get us out of this.”

Lathaon thought for a moment. His primary abilities were centered around the casting of fire spells, but he was sure there was some way to create a gust of wind. Somewhere in his learnings he had figured out how to do it; now all he had to do was…

There! There it was! He remembered! Closing his eyes, Lathaon began the incantation, and suddenly there was a massive gust of wind that propelled the ship forward with unmatchable speed. However, Lathaon did not open his eyes or stop chanting, for he knew that, not being one of his main areas of study, this spell would be much more difficult to maintain. It seemed as if he was chanting forever, but finally the sounds of the crew cheering reached his ears, and he knew that they had escaped the two ships. He opened his eyes to find Arhaina standing in front of him, a wide smile on her face.

“Good job,” she said, laying a kiss on his lips.

“Thanks,” replied Lathaon, kissing her back before turning to the captain. “Good work, Captain.”

“Thank you, Milord,” said the captain. “And thank you for getting us out of that mess.”

Lathaon shook his head in confusion. “I only wish I knew what that mess was all about.”

“It’s odd that they wouldn’t tell us what was happening,” said Arhaina.

“They made their intentions perfectly clear,” said Lathaon, suddenly angry. “They tried to kill me…Lord Sunnycool ordered them to kill me.”

“Don’t jump to conclusions,” cautioned Arhaina.

Lathaon shot her a questioning look. “What am I supposed to think?”

“I don’t know…”

Sighing, Lathaon turned away and looked at the coast of the White Realm, now steadily shrinking in the background. Sunnycool had betrayed him, and for what? The Realmers had said that Lathaon would be held as a prisoner of war, but there was no war that Lathaon knew of. Could it be that the Realmers intended to invade Weissland? Lathaon shook his head in sadness. Long had Weisslanders and Realmers stood together, but now Lathaon could never see their relationship being the same again. “If it’s a war they want…it’s a war they’ll get,” muttered Lathaon to the sea.

Chapter Two

by Coljrudder, with ideas from Ariakas

The wind whipped at Ariakas’s face as he stood on the balcony of the tallest tower in the Castle of Mjolnir, staring out across the green fields of Mjolnir Country. It was unusual for it to be this windy in the middle of the summer, but Ariakas was not complaining; the wind provided some desperately-needed relief from the harsh heat that plagued the southern part of the White Realm in the summer months.

Before him, spread out across the landscape, were hundreds of small farms, tilled by the hard-working men and women of the White Realm. Countless thousands of such farms were spread out across the entire country; the White Realm, like all other lands, had to devote most of its population to farming, as each family could usually only afford to grow food enough for themselves and maybe a bit for the market. Taxes were paid in food instead of gold more often than not, and this food, in addition to the food grown on farms owned by the wealthy who had much more than they needed and donated it to the Realm, was what supported the White Army, which had one of its greatest fortresses here, in Mjolnir Castle.

As he looked out at the lands and the men and women working them, he saw a column of knights riding towards the Castle, a white banner at their head. Thinking nothing of it, Ariakas continued to survey Mjolnir Country. He always found it soothing to look at the land from high up in the tower. The view was marvelous, the checkerboard of fields creating a visually appealing, if somewhat uneven, pattern that could calm him even when he was in the worst of moods. Ariakas found his eyes drifting across the land southwards, towards the Sea of Strength, and suddenly they shot open in amazement; dozens upon dozens of ships dotted the sea, all heading towards the White Realm. What is this? wondered Ariakas. The ships had to be from Weissland; no other kingdom in the surrounding area was able to field that many ships, and if the ships were from an enemy realm, they would have been sunk by the strength of the Weissland Navy, which was nigh unmatchable when fully arrayed.


The voice caused Ariakas to lose his train of thought and he turned around, somewhat annoyed, to see a man standing in the doorway to the balcony. The man was wearing a suit of plate armor underneath a white tunic emblazoned with a gray hammer, the symbol of the Warriors of Mjolnir, an elite unit of soldiers, scouts, and diplomats that answered directly to Ariakas. “What is it?” asked Ariakas.

“A group of knights has arrived from the White City,” said the Warrior. “They come bearing a message from Lord Sunnycool.”

“Well what is it?” asked Ariakas.

“They said that the message was for your ears only,” said the Warrior.

“Where are they?”

“Down in the Great Hall,” said the Warrior.

Ariakas nodded. “Thank you; I will be down in a moment.” The Warrior bowed before turning and descending a flight of stairs that would bring him down and out of the tower. Ariakas turned to look with curiosity at the ships that seemed to be moving ever-closer to the White Realm across the Sea of Strength from the south before turning and following the Warrior down the steps. The stairway was long and rounded, and it took Ariakas several minutes to descend it entirely, but he finally emerged into the Great Hall, which formed the central part of the keep of the Castle of Mjolnir. The Great Hall was massive, with huge ornaments hanging on the walls, tattered banners from wars past and trophies collected from the enemy. Chief among these was the Sword of Mork, who had ravaged the White Realm at the head of his army of foul beasts during the Third War of the Beasts. Ariakas looked at the sword with remembrance; those had been dark times, but the Realm had been able to pull through and emerged stronger than before. It was an ability that was not common in the world. Each people had its own traits that made them unique, Ariakas knew. The Weisslanders, constantly holding off the dark armies of the Defiled Kingdom, were tough and warlike, a stubborn people who would never give in easily. The people of Ahm-Shere, the desert land to the west of the White Realm, were independent and self-sufficient, resourceful beyond comparison. All nations had their strengths, and Ariakas knew the White Realm’s was its ability to rebound from hard times.

Remembering what he had come down to do, Ariakas shook those thoughts from his mind and walked across the Great Hall, heading for the knights who were standing near the entrance. As Ariakas neared the group, one of the knights, an older-looking man who was probably a few years younger than Ariakas, most likely in his early forties, stepped forward, bowed, and said, “Lord Ariakas.”

“I am told you were sent by Lord Sunnycool,” said Ariakas.

“That is correct,” said the knight.

“You have a message from him?”


“What is it?” asked Ariakas.

Looking around, the knight said, “I’d prefer if we could speak somewhere else, in private.”

Ariakas nodded. “Very well, come with me.” He turned and walked back across the Great Hall, heading for another door which led to another staircase. The knight followed closely, leaving his fellows at the entrance to the Hall. Ariakas opened the door and began to ascend the staircase, reaching the top after a short climb. He drew a key from within his robes and inserted it into the keyhole, unlocking the door and opening it, revealing a sight which few had ever seen: the insides of his personal chambers. “Please, come in,” said Ariakas, beckoning to the knight. The man stepped inside and Ariakas closed the door behind him. “Now that we have some privacy, what was it that could not be said in the Hall?”

“Lord Sunnycool has called a session of the White Council; he wants you to be in the White City as soon as you can,” said the knight.

Ariakas arched an eyebrow at this. “The next session of the Council is not for two more months at least.”

“I understand, but this is an emergency session,” said the knight.

“An emergency session?” asked Ariakas. “What has happened?”

“I was not told, but from the undertones in the capital, I would say something very important,” said the knight.

“How could I have not heard of it?” asked Ariakas in amazement.

“I do not know,” replied the knight. “I was only sent to inform you of the meeting.”
Ariakas nodded. “Yes, of course, thank you.”

“When will you be ready to depart?”

“What do you mean?” asked Ariakas.

“We are supposed to escort you to the White City,” said the knight. “That is why we were sent.”

Ariakas suddenly realized that something was very wrong in the Realm. If all was well, then Sunnycool would not have sent knights, heavily armed and armored, to deliver the message and escort him back. Under normal circumstances, a simple messenger would have sufficed to bring Ariakas the message, and an escort would not have been needed. “What aren’t you telling me?” asked Ariakas.

The knight looked at Ariakas in confusion and asked, “What do you mean?”

“What is wrong in the Realm?”

“I told you, Milord, I do not know,” said the knight. “I was only told to bring you the message and escort you back.”

Ariakas sighed. “Very well; I will be ready to leave within the hour.”

The ride to the White City was long and tiring, but Ariakas and his escort of knights were able to reach the capital in a day and a half, arriving at noon on the second day of riding. No time was wasted, and he was immediately led up the familiar path to the Keep, which held the Council’s meeting room: the House of Honor. Two guards stood at the entrance to the famous hall, but stepped aside and opened the doors upon seeing Ariakas. The Loremaster nodded to them as he entered, and found that all of the seats of the Council were filled, all but one: his.

“Ariakas,” said a tall, regal-looking man with raven hair and brown eyes. Ariakas knew the man was in his early forties, but his face was lined and worn beyond his years, more so than when they had last seen each other. Something was troubling the man, something that he was keeping from the rest of them, something dark.

“Lord Sunnycool,” said Ariakas with a respectful bow.

“Please, join us,” said Sunnycool, smiling kindly.

Ariakas nodded and took his seat at the crescent-shaped table, on the right-hand side of the Lord. He was one of Sunnycool’s most trusted advisors, and his seat reflected his position. Normally, he would have exchanged formal greetings with the other members of the Council, but by the grim, almost worried expressions that many of the members wore on their faces, Ariakas knew that this meeting would be anything but normal. Silence hung in the air, broken only when Sunnycool stood once again, the sound of his wooden chair scraping across the floor echoing in the vast chamber.

All eyes turned to look at their Lord, and Sunnycool said, “My friends…first let me apologize for calling you here on such short notice. I assure you, when you learn in full of the events that have transpired over the last month, you will be glad that I summoned you when I did. Some of you know part of the story; some of you know none of it. Here you will learn it in its entirety, and we will discuss our course of action based on what we know.”

Course of action? wondered Ariakas. Something had clearly happened that would require a debate about what to do, something controversial, otherwise Sunnycool would not have summoned the Council to decide on it. Small matters were dealt with by the Lord on a regular basis, with larger matters either discussed at the upcoming Council meeting or dealt with by an assembly of those Council members who happened to be in the White City at the time the issue arose. Lord Sunnycool had not called for an emergency session of the White Council in over five years, the last time being when the Fourth War of the Beasts broke out and action was required of the Realm.

“We must begin nearly a month ago, when tragedy struck our peaceful land,” said Sunnycool. “On June 15th, the small farming village of Raman was attacked and razed to the ground.” This sent a series of surprised murmurs rustling along the table as Council members broke out into small discussions with each other.

Above the murmuring, Ariakas asked, “How, and why, was this kept a secret?”

“Raman is a small town, and few would have recognized its destruction,” said Sunnycool. “As to why…it pained me to do so, but based on the evidence, I felt it was better if the entirety of the Realm was alerted to what happened.”

“What evidence?” asked Ariakas, still startled that he had not been told while, evidently, others had.

Sunnycool sighed, seemingly looking for a way to explicate what he was trying to say. “We found a Weissland flag planted in the scorched ground of Raman,” Sunnycool finally said in a weak voice. Another set of murmurs spilled out.

“Weissland?” asked Ariakas in shock. “But why?”

“I do not know,” said Sunnycool.

“They have been our staunchest allies, our most steadfast friends. That makes the betrayal all the worse, and they must pay for it,” said a rough-looking man with only one blue eye. His other eye was closed permanently by a hideous scar that ran across the left side of his face but was partially obscured by his long black hair.

Turning to the man, Sunnycool said, “I understand Andy, and I moved quickly to find out what had happened.”

“By doing what, exactly?” asked Yosias, a tall, slim man with a high-pitched voice and an annoying air of superiority.

“Lathaon had told me that he was coming to visit the White Realm,” said Sunnycool. “I conversed with Locky and Almirith, who happened to be here at the time, and we agreed that the best course of action would be to send troops to Port Ortin, where Lathaon would be arriving, and take him into custody. He would then be brought to the White City, and we would talk to him and try to make sense of this.”

“What happened?” asked Ariakas, more and more annoyed that he had not been told about this.

Sunnycool sighed sadly, his eyes dropping to the floor as he said, “Lathaon attacked our soldiers as they approached him. No warning, no provocation; he just attacked them and killed them.” Silence settled over the Council, and Ariakas looked around at the members, trying to read their thoughts by their expressions.

Finally, Andy smashed his fist on the table and said grimly, “We cannot let Lathaon and his treacherous armies get away with these attacks on our glorious Realm! We must return the favor in kind. We must launch an army and strike at Weissland.” There were whispers of agreement from other members of the Council, and even Sunnycool seemed to be seriously considering the idea.

Remembering the fleet of ships that he had seen sailing towards the coast, Ariakas said, “I do not think that will be possible.”

“Why not?” asked Andy, wheeling to face the Loremaster.

“From atop the Castle of Mjolnir I saw a large fleet of ships moving towards the White Realm from across the Sea of Strength,” said Ariakas. “Knowing what I know now, I am certain they were ships of the Weissland Navy.”

“They could be here to do one of two things,” said Branalbinn, a large, stocky man with a thick, dark beard. “They could blockade the Realm, or land troops on our shores.”

“Either one is an act of war,” said Locky, a man who had the face of a man in his mid-thirties, yet who had eyes that betrayed many more years of experience.

“I agree,” said Andy with a nod, although he was clearly shaken by the idea of Weissland being so far ahead in terms of tactical movements.

Turning to Ariakas, Sunnycool asked, “What do you think we should do?”

All eyes turned towards the Loremaster, who searched for the right words to say. “We should be cautious,” said Ariakas finally. “We should not rush into the war before we know all the facts; too much about this is too vague, too shrouded in mystery.”

“The facts are clear!” said Andy with emphasis. “Weissland has betrayed us! They have burned our cities, they have killed our soldiers, they will invade our Realm again! How can you tell us now, of all times, to be cautious? How can you advocate against war now?”

“I am not advocating against war,” said Ariakas, turning to Andy. “By all means, mobilize the White Army. We may yet need it, but I urge you not to make any aggressive action against Weissland. If they attack, then we will know their true intentions. However, I want to send envoys to them; I want to understand what has happened and what their point of view is.”

Sunnycool nodded and said, “I agree with the Loremaster. It is a wise choice of action. Andy and Locky, you may begin the mobilization of the White Army, but make it clear to your commanders that our only intention is to defend the Realm, not to make any aggressive movements.”

“I understand,” said Andy.

“As do I,” said Locky.

“Ariakas, I want you to choose your most skilled diplomats and be prepared to lead the envoy to Weissland,” said Sunnycool. “I want to understand exactly what has transpired.”

“I will, Milord,” said Ariakas with a respectful nod.

“Very well,” said Sunnycool, a bit relieved. “This Council is adjourned.”

The members of the Council quickly got up, bowed, and left, and Ariakas followed suit. However, before he left the chamber, he turned to look at Sunnycool once more, and saw that the Lord was sitting slumped in his chair, his eyes closed in pain and his right hand clutched against his chest. “Milord?” asked Ariakas in curiosity, closing the door and walking back towards the table.

Sunnycool’s eyes shot open and he straightened out his posture. “Yes?”

“Are you alright?” Ariakas asked.

“Yes, yes, I’m fine,” said Sunnycool.

“You looked—”

“I’m just tired,” said Sunnycool.

Ariakas arched an eyebrow but nodded. “Of course, Milord. Good day.” He turned and walked out, but as he left he stole another glance at Sunnycool and saw that the Lord of the Realm had once again closed his eyes and clutched his chest, his raspy breaths echoing through the wide chamber. There was something wrong, Ariakas knew, but he also knew that the Lord was too stubborn to admit it or do anything about it. This new crisis would only worsen Sunnycool’s condition, and Ariakas knew he would have to make sure the Lord did not fade away when the Realm needed him the most.

Chapter Three

by Coljrudder

“Where is Weissland?” asked Rebecca Damorath, looking at her fiancé, James Rudder, with her large brown eyes as they walked through the beautiful gardens of the Fortress of the Force.

James, a tall, strong knight of the White Realm, shrugged and said, “It’s over the Sea of Strength, to the southeast I think.”

“And we’re allies with them?” asked Rebecca.

“Yes,” replied James, nodding his head. “At least we were…”

“Until the attack,” said Rebecca, finishing his sentence. “If they were friends with us, why would they…”

“Attack us?” asked James. He shrugged again and said, “I don’t know why. People do strange things sometimes. They probably did it for power, or to try to expand their influence or something. I don’t know.”

“Will there be a war?” asked Rebecca.


Rebecca’s eyes grew sad and she said, “I don’t want there to be a war. If there’s a war…”

“What?” asked James.

“You’ll have to fight,” whispered Rebecca fearfully.

James smiled at her and rubbed the back of his hand softly against the cheek of her beautiful face, framed by her mahogany hair that fell down below her shoulders. “Don’t worry about me,” he told her. “If war comes, I’ll be ready. I’ve trained my entire life to fight.”

“I know, I know,” said Rebecca. She smiled slightly and said, “Father says you’re the best swordsman he’s ever seen.”

James laughed, but there was a sour expression on his face. “He’d be the only one to say so.”

There was a short silence between them as they walked along through the gardens, a silence which Rebecca suddenly broke by asking, “Why are you so bitter?”

“What?” asked James, surprised by the question.

“Ever since my father found you wandering the streets of the White City all those years ago, you’ve been sad,” said Rebecca. “When you were little, that’s all it was, just sad, but as you got older, you started to be bitter as well. Why?”

James shrugged. “I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe it’s because of how people treat me.”

“What do you mean?” asked Rebecca.

“I’m an outcast,” he said.

“No you’re not,” said Rebecca in a non-believing tone. “You have a place in the army. You’re an amazing swordsman, I’ve watched you, and I can overhear father and the other generals talking about your great grasp of tactics. You’re not an outcast.”

“That’s not it,” said James. “I’m not talking about my abilities; I’m talking about who I am. I’m a commoner living in a noble family; I’m a Realmer who doesn’t know where he’s from; I’m an officer without a true command. My abilities are the only reason they even let me be a knight. If it wasn’t for your father…” He trailed off as they walked.

“I won’t say I understand, because I don’t,” said Rebecca softly, “but I am here for you, James. I always will be.”

“I know that,” said James, stopping and kissing Rebecca on her forehead. “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” replied Rebecca, embracing James and kissing softly on the lips.
“Rebecca! Rebecca!”

James and Rebecca turned towards the sound of the voice and saw Almirith Damorath, Rebecca’s father, walking around in the garden, looking for his daughter. He was an older man, in his late fifties, but was nonetheless well-built for his age and possessed a strength in his eyes that showed that even in his old age, he was still a force to be trifled with. Those who knew him knew of his strange abilities to harness a mystical energy force and use it to heal people. He called it the Force, and was apparently the only person who could use it.

“I’m here, father!” called Rebecca, and Almirith turned, saw them, and walked over.

“Good evening, James,” said Almirith with a warm smile.

“Good evening,” replied James with a respectful nod to his adoptive father.

“Idryn said to tell you both that dinner is almost ready,” said Almirith, relaying the message from his wife.

“Alright,” said Rebecca.

“I’ll be along soon,” said James, not knowing why he said it. He felt as if there was something he needed to do in his room, and yet could not figure out what it was. “There’s something I need to attend to really quickly.”

“Alright, then, I’ll have Idryn wait,” said Almirith with a smile.

James shook his head. “Don’t bother; I won’t be long.”

“Very well,” said Almirith, and he turned and began to walk back up to the Fortress. Rebecca followed, but not before looking at James oddly; she knew there was something wrong, and James quickly averted his eyes so that she could not look into them. By the time James looked up again, Rebecca was no longer looking at him and she and her father were some ways up the path. He watched them until they went into the Fortress, and then started his own trip up the path, reaching the large doors several minutes after Almirith and Rebecca. Nodding to the two guards at the gate, James quickly went up the long, winding staircases up to his room on the third floor of the massive castle. He reached the door, put his hand on the handle, and pushed it open.

Upon opening the door, he was met with complete darkness. The curtains had been drawn completely closed, blocking what little light that still might have come from the setting sun, and all the torches and candles had been snuffed. Not thinking much of it, James stepped into his room and was immediately chilled to the bone, as if all the heat had been banished from the area. Then suddenly he felt it, a presence in his room, and cursed himself inwardly for not wearing his sword. There was a brush of sound behind him, the rustling of a cloak, and James froze. “You’ve got me,” he said, relaxing his shoulders and shaking his head.

“If you would please turn around, Milord,” said a female voice. It was soft, yet somehow chilling, like a breeze on a winter morning. As James complied with the woman’s request, he suddenly realized what she had said and froze.

“‘Milord?’” he asked.

“Yes, Milord,” said the woman. James looked over to the source of the voice and suddenly the curtains flew open, revealing a woman standing in the corner of his room. She was dressed in a long black cloak that she wrapped tightly about herself, and a hood was flung over her head so that James could just barely make out her eyes through the shadow cast by the hood. “Is that title so strange to you?” the woman asked, taking a step forward. “I am not surprised. They do not know who you are, here in this land of treachery. Honor and glory, ha! They know nothing of honor. They betray their best friends and ridicule the greatest among them.”

“What are you talking about?” asked James.

The woman smiled and said, “You know.”

James shivered, but deep down, he knew that she was correct. “Why are you here?”

“I am here to make sure you understand who you really are,” said the woman.
“What do you mean?”

The woman took several steps closer until she was immediately in front of James, looking up at him slightly. “Haven’t you ever wondered where you came from? Haven’t you ever wondered who your real parents were? Haven’t you ever wondered how you ended up on the streets of the White City?” James said nothing, and the woman continued, “What about your dreams, Milord? Haven’t you ever had dreams, dark, terrible dreams, dreams from the past that you don’t understand?”

“How did you know that?” asked James suddenly and forcefully.

The woman shrugged. “I didn’t. It just seemed logical, given your past.”

James looked at her with a raised eyebrow before asking, “Who are you?”

“That is not important,” said the woman. “What is important is who you are.”

“And who am I, exactly?” asked James in a sarcastic tone.

“Twenty-five years ago, when you were four years old, your parents were traveling in Weissland, going from Ataya in the south to the area of Círulienalysai, in the north,” said the woman. “While they were passing through the Torceín Wood, they were attacked by orcs out of the Defiled Kingdom.”

“Defiled Kingdom?” asked James.

“A dark place, to the south of Weissland, filled with all kinds of terrible monsters,” said the woman. “Now, both your mother and father were slain in the ambush. The soldiers who were accompanying your family fought bravely, but they were fighting a losing battle. One of the soldiers managed to find you, hidden and safe beneath your mother’s dead body, for she had died covering you and protecting you, and slipped away in the midst of the battle. He brought you to Ataya, where it was clear that the ambush was not the work of roaming orcs, it was a premeditated attempt to destroy your entire family.”

“Why would someone want to destroy my family?” asked James, confused and stunned by what this strange woman was telling him.

“Because your family was the most powerful one in Weissland,” explained the woman.


“Yes, Milord, you are of Weissland,” said the woman. “You are the Lord Castoden, the last in the line of that proud family. When the soldier brought you to us, we knew that you would not be safe in Weissland. We sent you to the White Realm so that your enemies would think you were dead, so you would be safe. There we let you remain until we saw it fit for you to return to Weissland. Now, with the White Realm betraying us, we knew it was time for you to come home.”

James looked at the woman in amazement for a moment before taking a step back and shaking his head. “No, no,” he said. “You’re lying.”

“Am I?” asked the woman. She reached into her cloak and pulled out a necklace with an amulet at the bottom. “This is yours,” she said, handing it to James.

Taking it, James looked at it in the fading light and suddenly felt a strange connection to it. It was a golden amulet on a chain, with the symbol of a striking eagle on the front and a rose on the back. “What is this?” James asked weakly.

“That is your father’s amulet,” said the woman. “It has been passed down through the Castoden line for ages. The striking eagle is the crest of the Castodens, while the rose is the crest of the Rudder household; your mother’s maiden name was Rudder, and your father had her crest carved into the back of the amulet.” She paused while James stared at the necklace in his hands. “It is yours now, as is the legacy of the Castodens.”

“But what does that mean?” asked James, still staring at the amulet.

“You must come to Weissland, Milord,” said the woman, causing James to look up in shock. “War is coming…nay, it has already begun. We need you to stand before our armies and lead them into battle. Long have the people of Weissland awaited the return of the Lord Castoden.”

James shook his head. “I can’t leave.”

“You must,” replied the woman.

“No,” said James, shaking his head once more and heading for the door. He opened it and began down the hallway when he heard the woman calling after him.

“Why will you stay here, James? Why will you stay somewhere where they do not accept you? Weissland needs you, James! The White Realm does not! Your father died fighting so you could live! Your mother died shielding you from the blows of the orcs so you could live! This is how you repay them? By turning your back on them?”

James turned around and walked slowly back into the room. “I have a life here.”

“A miserable one.”

“If you wanted me, why did you send me away?” asked James angrily.

“I told you already, it was too dangerous!” countered the woman.

“Why—!” began James, but he stopped mid-sentence, his face a mask of pain, and asked, “Why did you have to come now?”

“What?” asked the woman, not understanding what James was saying.

“You are asking this of me at the worst time,” said James. “I am engaged to the woman I love…how can you ask me to leave now? How can you ask me to leave her? I love her. I can’t leave her. I can’t lose her. Not now.”

James noticed a feeling of pain and understanding flashed across the woman’s face, but she quickly controlled it and banished it from sight. “Sometimes we lose the things we love the most.”

James’s face became very solemn at this remark and he said, “Then I cannot come with you.”

The woman’s bottom lip curled upwards and she averted her eyes, as if she was thinking very hard about something. “She may come.”


“I said your fiancée may come along with you…if you like,” said the woman.

“Thank you,” said James.

“The ports of Weissland will soon be closed to ships from the White Realm,” warned the woman as she headed towards the door. “You must make your departure tonight. There will be a ship leaving just before midnight. Be on it.”

“I will,” said James. As the woman turned and began to leave, however, James grabbed her arm and asked, “What is your name?”

The woman was silent for a moment, seeming to consider whether or not to answer truthfully before replying, “My name is Shaellana.”

“Thank you, Shaellana,” said James before releasing her arm.

“I am ever at the service of the Lord Castoden,” she said, bowing before she hurried down the hallway and out of sight. James wondered for a moment how she would be able to slip out of the Fortress without anyone knowing, but figured that she had obviously gotten in unnoticed, and would be able to get back out unnoticed as well. Sitting down on his bed, he began to think over all the woman had said and tried to sort through it. All his life he had thought himself to be a Realmer. The fact that he might be a foreigner had never even entered his mind. Now not only had he learned he was a foreigner, but he was also the last surviving heir of one of the most powerful families of a country that was going to war with what had been his home for twenty-five of his twenty-nine years. He knew that he could not turn his back on his family and his true homeland, but the thought of betraying those he loved still did not sit well with him.

Nearly half an hour later, James was still sitting on his bed, still running over the same things in his head, when he heard a knock at his door. He looked up to see Rebecca standing there, a worried expression on her beautiful, innocent face. She was two years his junior, and had grown up together, but he had never felt about her as he would about a sister, because their true relationship, that of a daughter and her adopted brother, had driven somewhat of a wedge between them. However, James knew that had it not been for that, he would have never fallen in love with her, and would not be so lucky as to be preparing to marry her. They were intimately connected on a way only two people in love could be, and James could tell that Rebecca knew something was wrong.

“What is it?” she asked finally.

“Come here,” James said softly, standing up and opening his arms, inviting her to come to him. She walked over and embraced him, resting her head on his shoulder.

“Please tell me what is going on,” she asked.

James said nothing for a moment, trying to find the right words to say, and finally said softly, “I have to go away.”

This startled Rebecca, and she pulled away from him just enough so she could look into his eyes without breaking their embrace. “Away? What do you mean? To fight?”

“In a way,” said James.


James took a deep breath, preparing for what he knew would be a bombshell, and said, “I have to go to Weissland.”

“To fight them?”

“No,” said James, shaking his head. “I…I’m going to join them.”

“What?” asked Rebecca in amazement. “Why? Why would you—”

“I’m the heir to a powerful Weissland family,” said James quickly, silencing Rebecca.

Her jaw dropped and for a moment she was unable to speak. Finally, she asked, “How do you know this?”

“I received a visit from a woman named Shaellana, who told me the story and proved it was true,” said James. “She knew about the nightmares I’ve had about the night my parents were killed, when they were ambushed and slaughtered in Weissland by orcs.”

“But why do you have to go?” asked Rebecca.

“They died to save me, and I was sent here so I would be safe,” said James. “If I don’t go back now, I’d be destroying everything they fought for; I’d make their saving of my life for nothing.”

“That’s not true,” said Rebecca.

“Yes it is,” replied James. “They died so that the Castoden line would be preserved, so Weissland would have a Castoden to help lead them in battle. I cannot turn from that responsibility now.”

Rebecca was quiet for a moment before asking, “What about…us?”

“I want you to come with me,” said James, “but only if you want to.”

“I want to,” said Rebecca immediately.

“Are you sure?” asked James. “You would not be allowed to tell anyone; you’d have to leave with me tonight and go to Weissland. You might not see anyone you love again.”

However, Rebecca smiled and said, “I’ll have you.”

James smiled back at her before kissing her and saying, “Quickly; we have to get to Port Ortin before midnight.”

“I’ll have no time to pack!” protested Rebecca.

“Don’t worry about it!” replied James, taking her hand and leading her out of the room. “We have to leave now!” Leaving everything as it was, the two of them began to run down the hallway and down the stairs, making as little noise as they could. James knew their escape relied upon being entirely silent and alerting no one to the fact that they were leaving. They managed to get to the front door and flung it open, but were suddenly confronted by the inquisitive glares of the two guards standing there.

“Milady?” asked one of the guards of Rebecca. “Where are you two going?”

“We were about to head out on a ride,” said James.

“A bit late for that, isn’t it?” asked the other guard.

“Riding is more romantic under the moonlight,” said Rebecca.

The first guard shrugged and said, “Very well. I’ll send two men to accompany you.”

“The point of the ride is for us to be alone,” said James.

“Lord Damorath won’t like you two going out without protection in the middle of the night,” warned the second guard.

“I’ve got James with me,” said Rebecca with a smile.

The first guard shrugged and said, “Very well, go along.”

“Thank you,” said Rebecca.

“Of course, Milady,” said the two guards, bowing.

Rebecca smiled, James nodded, and the two of them, holding hands, walked past the guards and down the path towards the stables. Once they were out of sight and earshot, James said, “That was close. I didn’t think you would lie.”

“If I didn’t we couldn’t get away,” replied Rebecca with a smile.

“Wouldn’t you have liked that?” asked James teasingly.

“You wouldn’t have,” replied Rebecca seriously.

James stopped, grabbed Rebecca’s arm lightly, and turned her towards him. “Rebecca…please don’t tell me you’re coming with me just to make me happy.”

“I’m coming with you because I want to be with you,” said Rebecca. “Making you happy is part of the reason, but I love you, James, and I want to be with you. I’d do anything for you.”

“And I for you,” replied James. “I will stay if you ask me to. All you have to do is—”

Rebecca put her finger to James’s lips and said, “I would never ask you to do that.” She kissed him and said, “We should be going.”

Smiling, James nodded his head, slid his hand into a lock with hers, and said, “Alright. Let’s go.”

This post has been edited by coljrudder on Feb 1 2007, 10:41 PM

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