The Gathering

Chapter 1 - And so it begins…


The time will come
When dark surrounds all
A vessel of Night shall arise
Pain and suffering shall follow in his wake
The Night will triumph unless
The vessel of Light awakens
To ease the pain and smother the Night



A light in the distance. That was the first thing he saw though the darkness. A chilling breeze ripped though him, prompting him to rub his arms in an attempt to keep warm.

He stiffly walked forward, and with each step he took his pace quickened. It was almost as if he knew something terrible would happen if he did not reach the light soon. Before long he found himself running. He ran for what seemed like hours, yet he did not seem to get any closer to the light. Looking around he noticed the faint figures of others, all running alongside him, each one as intent as he was to reach the light.

'Who are they?' he wondered as the dream world faded from view to be replaced with the sturdy wooden beams that served to support the roof.

Sighing he sat up and rubbed his eyes. "Rune you sure do have some weird dreams" he muttered to himself, throwing off the brown blanket and rising to his feet and making his way over to the small basin that rested along the wall along with the only window in the room.

Splashing water on his face Rune looked up into the mirror above the basin and sighed, no one would ever call him handsome in the traditional sense of the word yet he was said to have a strange sense of humour that had of late gotten him into more trouble than good.

Sweeping a lock of dark brown hair out of his equally brown eyes Rune wondered yet again if the brawl with the old soldier was really worth it. He had come out of the fight with a broken nose and numerous missing teeth yet he remained unperturbed by it in the presence of others. Secretly he had begun to think that the slight bent in his nose had something to do with his lack of a love life.

A smile slowly etched across his face. Turning his gaze away from the mirror he looked around at the small room, which he called home. There really was nothing of note in the room. It was just big enough to contain a bed, a small chest of drawers, a basin, and mirror. One small window showered the room in what little light it could, casting shadows upon the walls that only served to highlight the smallest of Rune's home.

"Rune got down here," A familiar voice cried breaking him from his thoughts. Shaking his head Rune dressed quickly and with staff in hand flung open the door and hurried down the narrow wooden stairs.

Waiting for him below was a girl no more than sixteen years of age. She wore a light blue blouse tucked into a dark brown skirt. Her clothes showed signs of being patched and mended many times before. She smiled as her azure eyes settled upon Rune "Took you long enough!" she huffed, her arms placed on her hips in a mock display of anger.

A loud bell rang in the distance, its sweet peal proclaiming the new hour."Its only ninth bell Cyan, much too early to be awake" Rune rubbed the back of his head with one hand, a wide grin etched upon his face.

"You were supposed to be up and at the temple two bells ago Rune!" Cyan cried flicking a lock of her blonde hair behind her.

"I was?" Rune asked raising an eyebrow "That's news to me"

Cyan sighed "Valdis told you he wanted to see you at seventh bell today, don't you ever listen?" she asked, quickly covering the distance between them. She linked an arm though his and guided them onto the street.

"So Valdis wants to see me huh?" Rune muttered "Wonder what about this time" his grip tightened upon his staff as he allowed himself to be lead towards the temple.

Cyan shrugged "I don't bother asking him questions anymore" she replied "If I did I would end up with a headache and very confused by the time he finished answering me" she grinned and cocked her head to one side "Maybe its about that damned prophecy"

"Ah yes the Prophecy" Rune said with a smirk "It's virtually the same as all the other prophecies I've read of you know" he turned to face Cyan, his expression one of earnest, well except for the mysterious twinkle in his eyes, "You my dear are the child of light, destined to find the object of power and defeat the dark one, thereby saving the world and so on"

Rune grinned as Cyan just shook her head at him "You forgot about the loyal band of companions, how is the child of light supposed to conquer the forces of dark without some loyal companions?"

"Oh woe is me, I forgot them, now the world is surely doomed" Rune threw back his head and laughed "Valdis sure loves his prophecies" he stated and quickly drew them to the side as a wagon passed, its driver too busy concentrating on the road ahead to take much notice of the two of them.

"We should hurry" Cyan commented "You know how Valdis gets when he is kept waiting" she smiled

"Sulky" Rune nodded and linking his arm though Cyan's he quickened their pace "You just want to know what he wants with me don't you?" he cocked his head slightly to one side to see whether his words had had any effect on his companion.

Cyan didn't comment, she was indeed curious as to what Valdis wanted from her friend, but as she was thinking of something to say a figure stepped forward and blocked their path.

"Little brother a word if I may?" the 'figure' asked folding his arms across his chest. The figure was that of a tall broad shouldered, well-muscled man in his late twenties. His hair was a slightly darker brown than Rune's, but his eyes were the same, if not hardened by some event in the distant past. He wore a simple shirt of red and trousers, but one would have to have been a fool not to see that they were of high quality, unlike the coarseness of his brother's attire.

"Taro! How nice to see you again" Rune grinned at the man in front of him "We were just on our way to see Valdis, walk with us"

Taro grunted "I would much rather go some place quiet and talk, it involves Father and Shiro" he raised an eyebrow and nodded in Cyan's direction.

Cyan to her credit did not even bother to reply to the obvious insult Taro was paying her in saying she was inept at keeping the simple secret of Taro acknowledging and actually speaking to his brother.

She turned and said coldly to Rune "I'll meet you at the temple, don't be long or Valdis will make life very uncomfortable for the both of us" she unlinked her arm from Runes and quickly nodding in politeness to Taro, brushed passed him.

"You could have been a little nicer brother" Rune commented as he eyed his eldest brother. It was obvious to all that saw them together that they were brothers. It was often commented that Rune and his younger brothers would have no need to wonder what they would look like as they aged. One look at Taro or their father would answer that particular question. "Where would you like to talk?" Rune asked

Taro nodded to a tavern across the road "How about in there?" he replied before stepping off the curb of the road to cross the road to his destination of choice.

"Taro watch where you're going!" Rune called pulling Taro back just as another wagon thundered down the road, the market its destination, judging from the amount of produce it carried. "I don't want to know how father would take it if he learnt you were hit by a wagon while talking with me, I'm not exactly his favourite person right now remember?"

Taro nodded "Exactly why I came to see you in person, rather than risk the rumours a message would surely cause" he looked up and down the road "Not a wagon to be seen, lets go Rune" Taro grabbed Rune by the arm and dragged him across the road and into the tavern he had pointed out earlier.

The Sleeping Fist Alehouse was a small establishment, but was one of good reputation; students from the local university often filled the tavern to almost bursting point. As did the craftsmen's apprentices on the rare days their masters gave them a day from working. Today was no exception, Rune noted as he followed his brother through the thick oak door.

It was almost impossible to find a empty table, yet they did. Although it was squashed into a corner of the brightly lit taproom. That surprised many newcomers, as it was almost an unwritten rule that taverns were expected to be dimly lit and full of lowlifes and drunks with nothing better to do with their time.

"Mmm good ale" Taro commented taking another sip from his mug "I have to remember to return here soon"

Rune sighed, that was the last thing he needed, Taro would probably drive the students and apprentices nuts if he started to frequent the tavern "What's going on with Father and Shiro?" he asked leaning back in his chair and crossing his arms across his chest.

Taro faintly smiled then frowned "Shiro is determined to join the Royal Guard" he stated simply "I have no trouble with this as he is 19 and therefore of legal age yet …"

"Father does not approve and will not seek the King's favour in it" Rune finished with a sigh

Taro nodded "You can almost see the tension in the air" he commented, "Father snaps at everything and everyone and Shiro just wanders aimlessly, when he is not training that is"

"You want me to talk to Shiro?" Rune asked "Or seek the king's favour for him?" The first was risky and would require him to revisit the family home, which he had been unwelcome in since he turned fourteen The second would require him to seek an audience with the king, one he would be lucky to obtain, yet not impossible seeing as his 'Master' was one of the most trusted nobles in the realm.

To join the Royal Guard required the favour of the ruling monarch. By tradition the one seeking to join was also required to find a sponsor, one who could guarantee his worth and take on the responsibility of all wrongdoing for a set period of time – usually one month. That Shiro wanted to join the Royal Guard did represent some problems – and not just the usual kind, that of the sponsor… No Shiro would more than likely be exiled from the family home.

Shiro's – and Rune and Taro's – father was a strict man, the kind that demanded he had complete control over all members of his family. That dominating nature and his gift for magick was what had driven Rune from the family home as a youth. No Emeric Terrikas had never said a word of kindness to any in the family, considering them all to be disgraces to the family name, yet Taro as eldest was considered the favourite.

Taro nodded, not really answering either of Rune's queries. "If you talk to Shiro I can arrange a place outside the house, in place of one of Shiro's music lessons perhaps…"

Rune shook his head "I'll see if I can talk to Valdis about this audience with the king, I suppose you want either me or Valdis to act as sponsor?"

Taro grinned "I knew that kicking you out of the house was a bad idea" he took a swig of ale from his mug "You're too damn smart for your own good, you'll let me know what Valdis says?"

"Yes" Rune sighed "Now if we've finished, I was suppose to be meeting with Valdis right now" he stood and stretched "If you need me I'll be at the temple" Rune pulled some coins from the pocket of his trousers and lay them on the table.

Taro nodded and stood as well "I better be going to, father is quite insistent that at least one of his sons will succeed him in the family business" he smirked slyly and after laying a few of his own coins down on the table he headed towards the door.

As Rune followed he could faintly make out the half muttered words of his brother "I really must come back here some time, it would annoy Rune that's for sure!"

Rune shook his head and started in the direction of the temple and his meeting with Valdis.

~*~

The small antechamber in which they had been asked to wait seemed to be suffering from a lack of air as well as the lack of any decorations to keep its occupants amused during the long wait.

Rune shifted on the small couch and stared at his two companions. First there was Shiro, dressed in what was obviously a new silver silken shirt, neatly tucked into the equally new black trousers. Knee high black leather boots finished off his outfit, which contrasted nicely with his dark almost black shoulder length hair and jet black eyes. Shiro grinned nervously as he looked at his brother. Of all Emeric Terrikas's children he was the only one who had inherited their mothers eyes that made him both admired by his siblings and disgusted with by their father.

Shiro privately thought Rune was the lucky one; he did not have to put up with Emeric's dull lectures at the dinner table on the importance of upholding the Terrikas name, despite the fact that everyone knew that the family were descended from a ruthless bandit who was rumoured to have killed his own mother and committed numerous other despicable deeds.

Turning his gaze off Shiro, Rune considered the only other person in the room, his 'Master' Duke Valdis Loruk. Valdis had been his mentor in the magickal arts since that fateful day when he was fourteen. In a sense he was more of a father to Rune that his real one had ever been. Valdis was wearing his family colours of blue and green.

The green surcoat over the royal blue shirt served only to make him look more handsome than the ladies of his majesty's court had already proclaimed him to be.

Black hair coloured silver by age, was worn short by the Duke. His piercing blue eyes seemed to notice everything around him. To those few who knew him personally knew he was often consumed with the need to piece together the ancient prophecies in the nearby temples archives. The obsession served to make him more than slightly oblivious to the world around him.

"Remember our agreement Rune" Valdis's voice broke into the silence. Shiro looked over at Rune with curiosity burning in his eyes.

Rune shook his head at Shiro "I remember Valdis, I'll start looking tomorrow" Rune sighed and tried to make himself as comfortable as he could dressed in the light lavender shirt and white surcoat of a Knight Mage of Air. He let his mind drift back to the meeting that had taken place with Valdis not long after he had been informed of Shiro's Royal Guard intentions.

~*~ FLASHBLACK ~*~

Rune entered the temple grounds, relaxing as the gentle perfume of the many flowers in the gardens wafted around him and all others on the temple grounds, whether they be stuck inside the ancient temple or outside.

Looking at the familiar scenes of people scurrying back and forth on their everyday tasks made him smile, yet that smile faulted as he remembered the reason he was here. Valdis wanted him for something, and usually it meant he would find himself doing some dull research on prophecies or another lesson in a mage's responsibilities.

Not that talking to Valdis was always dull. Valdis could be counted on to give some sound advice when asked or to do something reckless every now and then. Entering though the side door, Rune quietly made his way down to the archives, where he was more than certain Valdis would be.

He was right. Valdis was currently sitting at a small table, covered with books and pieces of parchment. Lanterns fixed at regular interludes served to flood the room with sufficient light, though how anyone would want to spend their time in the dusty room was beyond Rune.

"About time you showed up boy" Valdis said looking up from the book he had been reading. "I sent Cyan to fetch you a bell ago, what took you so long?"

Rune sighed and relocating a pile of books and papers took a seat "Taro wanted to talk to me"

"About?"

"Shiro has decided he wants to join the Royal Guard" came Rune's reply "I told Taro that I would talk to you about it"

"You both want me to gain the King's favour for Shiro don't you?" Valdis asked leaning back in his chair, eyes boring into Rune's.

Rune nodded "You're the only one that stands any chance of getting it, since father refuses to"

"I suppose I must sponsor him as well?" Valdis asked raising an eyebrow at the young mage who sat across from him. He sighed as Rune nodded with a hopeful look in his eyes. "Fine, but you have to help me"

"Help you?" Rune asked puzzled "With who?"

Valdis shook his head, an amused smile on his face. "Not with who, with what" finally he would have someone decent to help him with his project. "Rune's a good lad, not that I can really call him a lad anymore, but still I can trust him to do what is right" he thought as he continued to watch his young friend try and guess what he had up his sleeve for him.

Finally Rune sighed "What do you want me to help you with Valdis?"

Valdis held up a pile of papers "This" he replied handing the papers to the young mage. He watched with a smirk as Rune leafed though them "You are coming with Shiro and myself to see the King" he stated

"Valdis this is a prophecy, what do you expect me to do with it?" Rune asked, "How can I help if I don't understand the damn thing?" he stopped and seemed to think about what Valdis had last said "Wait a minute, you want me to go with you and Shiro to see the King?"

Valdis nodded "That's right, I know you have been knighted so it won't be any problem for us to gain an audience" he sat back and studied his young mage friend and former student. "Emeric only did two things right with the boy, releasing him to me for training and ensuring he and his brothers were knighted when they were sixteen"

Rune looked down at the pile of papers in his lap "I was only knighted so I wouldn't be a tarnish on the family name" he sighed, "This means we must wear our surcoats doesn't it?"

Valdis nodded "If it helps I protocol demands I wear a surcoat in my families colours, I just wish it was yellow instead of that nasty green" he smirked "Well that can't be helped, now on to your end of the bargain

"If you really it fully you will find the descriptions of five people, they are lights companions, you will find them for me"

"You want me to find them?" Rune burst out "How in hell am I supposed to do that?"

"You have two perfectly good eyes, you could try using them" Valdis slowly got to his feet "I'm afraid you'll have to travel quite a bit to find them" Valdis smiled as he saw Rune's face crumple up into a frown "Look at it this way, by aiding me you will be aiding your brother as well as getting away from that lout of a father"

~ * ~ END OF FLASHBACK ~ * ~

Rune smiled to himself as he remembered that conversation. Now two days on he was almost ready to begin his search for the light's companions. He had informed his family of his leaving and had gotten the expected reactions. His father had grunted and looked ready to lecture his third son on keeping the family reputation if it were not for his mother Isabelle Terrikas firmly hugging her son and weeping so much Rune's shirt became damp.

For once all his siblings had been there, his older brothers Taro and Jiro and his younger brothers Shiro, seventeen-year-old Quintus and sixteen year old Cadfael.

For all the brothers he had Rune only had two sisters, and he loved them with all his heart, his older sister Aileas and younger sister Susanne. They both looked like their mother with her long black hair and the tact for turning a difficult situation into one that better suited their needs. All of his siblings had wished him good luck.

The sound of a door opening woke Rune from his musings. All three of them looked up at the sound and noticed Alun the Chancellor beckoning them inside. Rune automatically smoothed the front of his surcoat as he followed Alun and Valdis inside, with Shiro trailing behind them.

 Note –  This is what some of the character names mean if you are interested

I found these names at the site behindthename.com – it is a really good site for finding names I've found

Valdis - Means "ruling" in Germanic.

Rune - Derived from Old Norse run meaning "secret lore".

Taro - Means "first born son" in Japanese.

Cyan - From the English word meaning "greenish blue", ultimately derived from Greek kyanos.

Emeric - Means "work rule" in Germanic.

Shiro - Means "fourth son" in Japanese.

Jiro - Means "second son" in Japanese.

Quintus - Roman praenomen, or given name, meaning "fifth" in Latin. It was traditionally given to the fifth child.

Cadfael - Means "battle prince" from Welsh cad "battle" and mael "prince".

Aileas – Scottish form of Alice

Alun - Welsh form of Alan. This name appears in the Mabinogion, a collection of tales from Welsh myth.

Susanne - German form of Susanna