|The Second Child
Author: Derric Greene PM
Malick, the supposed bastard son of a noble, has been blamed for his brother's death. After an almost failed escape, he is bound by his duty to destroy the sorcerer that has enslaved his grandfather's kingdom.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Words: 3,876 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 1 - Published: 04-10-11 - Status: Complete - id: 2906583
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The dragon landed gracefully, her talons pressing into soft, marshy ground. She pressed her wings against her sides, tucking them in by their many fleshy folds. The sorcerer was nearby, his foul presence filled her nose with a wrethced reek as she scanned the area, unable to find him. But he was there; she knew it, feeling it in every one of her ancient bones. Each movement of the shadows could have been him, but none were. The twig snapping was what announced his arrival.
"Hello, Sheva," the sorcerer sneered. He held the broken twig in his hands, he'd snapped it to identify his position, purposefully of course, he never did anything on accident."How kind of you to come and visit me and my humble abode." He was ugly, definately not human, elf or gnome. Not anymore at least. One twisted horn protruded from his brow, curving down the side of his face to jag close to his chin. His eyes glowed a bright blue, and what little hair he had was matted to his head by sweat, or was it blood? His skin was unearthly pale, with scarred and twisted fingers that ended in clawed nails that were a sickly shade of green. "What brings you here?"
The dragon glared at him, and then a slight grin split from her green scaled lips. "There is a new heir, one you shall never find, Shrabba." She spoke his name as though it were a curse. "It is the one that shall destroy your black and wretched soul." Sheva turned and extended her emerald wings, taking flight without another word. Shrabba extended one hand, releasing a ball of flame that engulfed the dragon. She fell, her cries echoed in the air.
"I shall not fall to the whelp of a dead king's child!" The sorcerer shouted, and the stagnant pools and bogs of the swamp began to boil, disrupting the sleep of the forgotten horrors that slumbered in them, feeling his control over their minds.
The Hidden Valley bustled with activity as humans and elves interacted with each other. It was rare to see a gnome anywhere but the mountains, and that is where they stayed. The elves, however, were much more adaptable and experts of the bow and of the blade. Men, though not as skilled with the bow, were handy with many weapons. And thus, a mixture of elves and men made up the old king's military upon meeting the elves. The new king, Sanjuel, kept a large infantry of wizards that were, though not as maneuverable, much more potent in battle.
King Sanjuel's wife Anneth, an elf, even had touches of magic, such as The Sight, in her.
The new heir, Prince Thagduel, had neither parent's appearance, but had his grandfather's face, and his great grandfather's strength. In fact, beginning at sixteen, he trained with human and elven tutors in magic, warfare, and science. He surpassed his mother in reading fortunes through the stars, and at eighteen, he understood more of the old tales than his father and could perfectly desipher the ancient code, preferring to write in it over his own language. His eyesight allowed him to favor archery over swordplay, but he had no joy in killing. He'd even let the rats go free and ,at times, feed them. His mother highly approved of his pacifism, while his father thought dreadfully otherwise.
The violence he sought after in an heir was held in his younger son, Malick. Malick was the utter antithesis of his brother. Two years his senior, Thagduel was looked towards as a good and worthy king, while Malick was in constant shadow of his brother. The fact that the king believed he was actually the son of Harvick, a noble close to him in his courts, only strengthened the shadow. Were it not for his pale skin, long blond hair and grey eyes, Malick believed his father would approve of him a great deal more.
The belief of Anneth having a love affair with Harvick paffled Malick. Harvick was a handsome and kind man with a touch of elvish blood, but he didn't seem the type to condone such acts. He wasn't married and didn't even have a single concubine, which was nearly unheard of for nobility. But for this, the king hated his younger son. Even in fits of rage, he would send Malick of to Harvick, which gave the young prince time to gaze at the noble's sadly unread collection of books, seeking topics that were shunned or banned.
In fact, if it had not been for Malick's Shadow Sight, the entire incident could have been evaded.
"A touch of pain," Malick whispered over his freezing cold cauldron, steaming from the low temperature. His rooms were just beginning to smell of the dissected crow that lay on a small table and had been for nearly eight hours. The Shadow Sight always required a small sacrifice and a touch of human blood.
He used his obsidian blade to slash an old scar on the palm of his hand that was just beginning to form into pure flesh again. He squeezed his hand to make the blood flow out easier, wincing at the pain. "Show me what you will," He whispered to the cauldron, fearing what would happen if he commanded the shadows. The water sizzled with heat, then the temperature lowered considerably to a much more managable temperature.
The image that appeared in the water was compete marsh land. An object moved and the magic leaned in closer, zooming in for a better look. What appeared was a wretch with glowing blue eyes. Malick felt his hands shaking and the wretch turned its head to gaze upon him. He cried out and fled his rooms, not returning to them for several days.
He hid away in the garden. It was a pale imitation of the Great Garden that King Tutho had in the time of his reign, before the Anamendian's took over in a single year. His hands squeezed together as he thought of his grandfather. Tutho's only child was Sanjuel, who was born to his wife, Trillian, who had died in child birth. Tutho had been so devistated that he never remarried, and eventually commited suicide, leaving the young Sanjuel to to over as king.
That was probably why he cared so much about Thagduel, because he was making up for causing his own mother's death when he was born. So he showered Thagduel with praise. It almost made him glad when he found out about his brother's death.
Visiting his brother's corpse was the first time he left the garden since he'd seen the wretch. He was struck dumb to see his brother lying on his bed, throat slashed ear to ear. The king and queen turned to look at him as he stepped into the room, unable to speak. Sanjuel's eyes were accussing.
"It was you, wasn't it?" His father's face was frozen in anger, and he nodded at two of his three guards. The guards brought out wire ropes and stepped towards the prince. He responded by kicking one in the gut and grabbing the rope that the other held. He twisted it around the neck of the guard to use him as a human shield as he peeked from behind his shoulder. The third guard didn't wait for permission, he lunged. Malick tossed his human shield at the guard and turned to flee.
Malick headed for his rooms. When he reached them, he immediately shoved the remains of the decaying crow in the cauldron and slashed his hand to let the blood flow.
"Show me a way out!" He cried. His vision blurred and he felt a tugging on his heart and his soul. He'd attempted to command a wild force, and it now wanted payment. His soul. His life. He struggled, fought to pull his soul away from the Shadow Sight's power. He was stong willed, all magicians of the dark arts had to be, but even his will wasn't enough to fight off the magical attack.
A force, he didn't know what kind, he didn't know from where but a force, yanked on the magic, severing, cutting the magic that assualted Malick. When his vision cleared, he ran to hide.
When the guards came, Malick wasn't in his main room. He was in fact in the next room, preparing a spell from his own energy. His heart raced as it finished, and released it. It engulfed his body, and when he barged through the door, all the guards saw was was a door that nearly fell off of its hinges and then blackness. Malick shook his hands, they hurt from smaching them into the guards temples, but he had to go.
The invisibility spell he had cast was energy consuming, and while he could easily escape the palace, he could do little more under the cloak of magic. He had to cut it off and keep going, crawling in the shadows. He camped out that night behind a house carved out of rock. The space was so tight that he had to sleep standing. He didn't care though, he was worn out.
The next day he continued. He didn't know where he was headed, but he knew he had to leave the valley. He reserved the magic spell for as long as he could until he reached the valley's exit, a long, steep spot that was guarded by nearly a dozen men. The guards were not at all attentive, but one noticed the footprints appearing in the dirt one after another after another.
"Hey, guys," he got the other guards' attentions and they all picked up their bows, nocking them. "Halt!" He shouted, and the footprints sped up, the gap between each one growing larger, Malick was running. The guard released his arrow, it slashed into Malick's leg, he fell in the dirt. Another arrow was loosed, piercing his chest, just below his heart. The spell failed, reveiling its creator to all eyes.
"Don't move!" Malick's mouth twisted into a grim smile at this, it was impossible to laugh, but he would have if he could as a trickle of blood flowed past his ear. He then felt a force, the same that had saved his life the day before.
For one sin commited, one good deed forgotten
For deed commited, one foul one forgotten
You are worthy of my gifts, human ones
The voice that rang in the air comforted Malick, sounding like a comforting tone of an old friend. The guards did not find that so. They rolled around on the ground, hands covered by leather gloved hands. The screamed and cried out, sounding as though they were on fire. Malick lost consciousness.
"So, dragon," Shrabba sneered at the roasted form of Sheva, who groaned at the pain of her burns every time she moved. "Where is your heir now?"
"What you hear is not always what I mean, sorcerer," she growled back.
"Then what did you mean?"
"Nothing you need concern yourself with," then so that he could not hear, she said, "not yet at least."
"He's awake!" an elderly voice exclaimed. "Hurry you fool he is awake!"
"Coming!" came the much younger response. Malick openned his eyes to gaze upon an old man. He was very old, and very tiny with a bald head and bright white beard that brushed on the floor. He turned his head to see a woman, nearly as short as the man, with a large bowl of steaming water and a towel drapped over her arm. "Oh," she gasped, "He's awake!"
"Of course he's awake!" the old man snapped, "I just said he is!" He began waving his hands impatiently, "Now get to work!" The woman complied, wetting the towel and cleaning off Malick's brow. He shoved her awake and sat up.
"How did I get here?" He demanded. The old man shrugged.
"The Lady," he stated simply.
"The Lady," the woman said excitedly. "The Oracle. The one that sees the past, the present, and things of the future. She..."
"Silence you young fool!" The old man snapped again. "Do not speak of The Lady unless given permission. Not finish your work." He hobbled off.
"Forgive Hor-na Re," she said. "He is rather irritable."
"And who are you?" Malick pondered. "What are you?" He observed her short stature.
"My name is Kal-za Me, sir. We're gnomes."
"Yes ,sir, you are in the Gnomish city, the dwelling off The Lady." Malick huffed when she said this and layed his head back down.
"The Lady will see you now," Hog-dill Re told Malick. He had spent a week lying in bed because the roofs were far to small for his liking, and he was not given permission to see the exterior of the city. Not until The Lady saw him. Hog-dill Re was a city elder, as was Hor-na Re. Malick had found that Re was a title for the elders, and that last names were only omited by very informal friends. Even married couples called eachother by their last names in public.
The bustle of the Gnomish city caught Malick's breath in his throat. It was even busier than the Hidden Valley! The city was huge and comical, watching the gnomes working with metal, speaking to customers, the men having long beards that were tucked underneath their belts and, on some occations, wearing long, pointed red or green or blue hats. And the entirety of the city revolved around one house. It was rather regular, as far as gnomish houses went, stretching from the ground to the cavern city's roof, acting as a column along with a living quarters. However, the room had a large window at the top, which was uncommon but not unheard of by the gnomes, and a door that could fit a six foot tall man in it. Malick was five foot nine and had no trouble whatsoever in getting through. When he stepped in, his jaw dropped.
He had expected The Lady to be like the elders, old and haggard and a gnome. This was not the case. The Lady, as announced by Hog-dill Re, was a voluptuous woman wearing long dark robes that covered pale skin. She brushed her dark hair from her face and looked at Malick from her spot on the purple fabric couch.
"You're human," he said dumbly.
"Yes," she said, a smile tugging ever so slightly at her lips, "I believe that I am. Hog-dill," she turned to the old gnome and Malick's jaw dropped at her lack of fomality. "Am I human?"
"Yes, Milady," the old gnome said, bowing, "You are human. You are very human indeed."
"Thank you, Hog-dill," The Lady said. "You may leave us now." The gnome bowed and left silently.
"I'm half-elf," Malick stated.
"I know," The Lady sat up, freeing space on the couch. "Sit." He did.
"It was you, wasn't it?" Malick pondered. She raised her eyebrows. "You got me here, and you took care of my wounds. Right? And the one that did...whatever...to those guards, that was you?"
"Yes, yes and yes." The Lady nodded her head."
"Who are you?"
"What do you mean?"
"You're name? What is it?"
The Lady bit her lip. "You should you know that in shadow magic, names are very sesitive, right, Malick? But, how about this, you tell me why you're here and where you're headed, and in return, I give you a name to use."
Malick nodded his head. "Fine. I don't know where I'm headed though. I just ran to get away from my father. He blames me for my brother's death." The Lady looked down.
"I'm sorry," The Lady's voice was sorrowful, there was pity. Malick tried to ignore it, and the sorrow he felt for his brother's death. He cleared his throat. "Right," The Lady said, "You can call me...Selina. But only in privacy, of course." Malick nodded his head.
Malick gritted his teeth. He couldn't stop thinking, trying to sleep was impossible in the small room. He was tired of the small space that he had been confined to simply because he was too large. He rolled off the bed to leave.
The doors to the Gnomish city were spectacular. On the inside, they seemed to be exactly what they were, but on the outside they looked just like the mountainside. Malick shut his eyes and felt the cool breeze on his face.
"The city does get a bit stuffy after a while, doesn't it?" The voice belonged to Selina. He found trouble seeing her at first, but his eyes got used to the darkness and he saw her eventually.
"I would say claustaphobic, but yes, it does get stuffy," he nodded his head. He looked down for a second, then back up. "What's that?" He pointed to the swamplands that dominated the lands to the west. Selina was silent for a second.
"It is Anamendia," she said. "It is the land that took over your own. Or Nelbo-Starbia, that is. It used to be a rather normal, until Shrabba took it and overthrew the king. Now it is tainted by his power. And the same will happen to Nelbo-Starbia. Unless he is stopped. And then, maybe the heir to the kingdom of Anamendia will come forward."
"And how can that happen?"
"You," Selina answered simply. "You are the one that has to do it."
"What?" Malick exclaimed. "What do you mean?"
"Your grandfather killed a sorcerer," she said.
"Tutho knifed Dello though," Malick argued. "And he ended up killing himself!"
"That's how wars are won, by a single well aimed knife thrust." Malick ducked his head down at her words. He agreed with Selina after hours of arguing; she brought out the fact that he was heir to the Nelbo-Starbian kingdom and that he needed to take back the throne.
The gnomes came to see him off the next day. He was fashioned with a sword and shield, his pack was stuffed with a map and a plethora of travelling supplies. Even Selina came to see him off. Especially Selina. "I can't come with you, the gnomes need me. They were in civil war when I first came here, and it may happen again if I leave. But I can give you a gift."
"After your gift to those guards, I may be a little nervous about accepting your gifts," he told her, only half jokingly.
"My gifts can be good, and they can be bad,"
"Which is this?"
"You decide," she said and kissed him, lightly but filled with promise. When his surprise wore off, he kissed her back, though much more hungrily. The gnomes diverted their eyes until he left.
It wasn't long before the swamplands began to hinder Malick's trek. He kept treking on none the less until he found a dry patch to sleep on that night.
The smell of sulfur woke him up. He hadn't smelled sulfur throughout the entire time that he had been in the swamps of Anamendia, but the smell was utterly distinct now. The thing that was the cause of the smell roared out, a high pitched whistling sound. Malick jumped up and drew his sword and shield. The sword's hilt immediately flashed into a blinding like, though it didn't effect Malick whatsoever. The creature backed up.
It was like a giant worm, two large mantis claws protruded from its body. The whole thing was black, like a midnight sky when the moon and stars were gone. It growled and lunged, Malick plunged the sword into its claw. The thing hissed and recoiled, then attacked again. Once again he stabbed at the creature. It leaped at him, crashing into him and knocking him to the ground. It charged down to attack him, but he thrust his blade into the creature, and it shot back, thrashing in pain until it bled to death. He got no more sleep that night.
The travel continued on in such a way for nearly a month. Each night a new creature came to attack him. And each night, the same thing happened, only over time, he found himself able to sleep. The day had little more than rodents and birds, but it did have a strange creature that lived in a bog, anything that came near it was snapped up in an instant, and if it hadn't been for his elven eye sight, than Malick would never have seen it at all.
After about a month or so, he reached a small clearing surrounded by a ring of trees. Inside that ring was the wretch that he had seen in his Shadow Sight. He assumed that was Shrabba. There was also a dragon, she may have been bright green at one time. but she was now blackened like smoke from serious burns. He tried to find a time when he could sneak in and find out how to kill Shrabba from the dragon, but the two argued so much, all he found out was that the dragon's name was Sheva.
But he found his chance when the sorcerer left, saying that he needed to care for some unwarranted company. Malick slipped in and attempted to get the dragon's attention.
"Sheva!" he called. The dragon turned her eyes to him, he saw depth and sorrow uncalculatable in them.
"It seems that I have put you in a deal of trouble, Malick," she groaned. "He'll be back soon. He knows you are somewhere near."
"Nearer than you know, heir," The sorcerer stood behind them, a flaming sword in his hand, sparking with magic. He leaped, jumping higher than humanly possible. Malick drew his sword, and its familiar light erupted from the hilt. Malick stepped back, and Shrabba landed just out of reach of the the sixteen year old boy. Malick had just evaded being impaled by the magic blade that the sorcerer was wielding.
The two began a clumsy parrying session. The light flashed even more, blinding Shrabba. Malick took the chance, thrusting the blade into the sorcerer's gut. Shrabba shouted, a burning smell filling the air. He shouted out something that was drowned out by a large explosion of smoke and dark light. Shrabba was gone.
"Malick," Sheva whispered. "The heir of Anamendia. You have done it."
"Heir of Anamendia?" He hissed. "That's impossible!"
"Wrong, Malick," the dragon whispered. "Harvick is a noble, right? His great great grandfather was a refugee from Anamendia. He was its king."
"Do you mean that Harvick truly is my father?"
"I am afaid so," Sheva nodded her head, "and that makes you Anamendia's heir."