By Selenity Jade
Summary: A man perused and a woman forbidden.
Feedback: Any and all desired, though this story is old.
Thanks: Sera and Zelga for support when I first started this fic four years ago.
Author's Notes: I do not know if I even still like this fic, but it was requested as an update, so I'm updating it. Thus I must read and reedit places first.
Claimer: This story belongs to me. The characters belong to me. Do not borrow or steal either without my expressed written permission. Thank you.
"Of all the..."
First my horse founders, now I'm stuck in this gods forsaken forest in the middle of the night being pursued by the gods know whom. Only extremely foolish men stayed outside at night, extremely foolish or desperate. And I'm desperate.
He couldn't risk entering a town or he would be seen and remembered and his pursuers could find him then. All they would have to do was ask the townsfolk. He sighed. He didn't know how he had ended up in this mess. It was as if the gods themselves enjoyed watching him worm his way out of yet another disaster that wasn't of his making.
He immediately froze as a twig snapped from somewhere behind him. Fortunately, he was beside a large oak so that whatever was behind him couldn't see him instantly. He slowly leaned his back against the tree and attempted to look behind him, but all he could see was the black. He cursed the night silently as he strained his eyes and his ears. Hoping to pick up anything.
Startled, he turned to the voice to see an elderly man with white hair that flowed to his shoulders standing impossibly close to him. The man's face was clean-shaven and his green eyes sparkled. The younger man quickly crouched in a defensive stance, with hand on the hilt of his sword.
"You are Dylyan, no?" the elder man insisted.
"Maybe," he answered cautiously. Sizing the old man up, he didn't think the older man wouldn't be much of a challenge at all, but appearances, he knew, were often deceiving.
"If you are Dylyan, then you are being pursued by Deo's men."
"Who is Deo?"
"I'll explain later. My home is just a short distance away," the old man stated turning away, before noticing the younger man wasn't following. "Are you coming?"
"You live in the forest?"
"Yes, now come. We don't have much time," the old man snapped at him and led the way into the brush. Dylyan quickly followed the man. It would become too easy to lose him in the dark.
It seemed forever as he followed the sounds of the old man, long since having lost sight of him. He actually couldn't believe he was following a stranger. He knew he was desperate, but desperate enough to follow this man he just met in the middle of nowhere? He must have lost his mind.
Suddenly bumping into the old man caused Dylyan to nearly topple them both over. Looking up, he saw the worst run down cottage he had laid eyes on in his twenty nine years. By all laws of nature, that little house should have collapsed centuries ago. 'Maybe the moss keeps it together? He actually felt apprehensive at the thought of entering. What if it collapsed when he was inside? The small cottage seemed as if the slightest breeze would push it over.
Dylyan looked towards the old man to see him smirking up at him. "You live there?"
"Yes. I know it isn't much, but it is home."
"Sure, old man. That shack would fall over if I breathed on it."
"No, it won't. Appearances are deceiving, son," the old man said unknowingly echoing Dylyan's earlier thoughts.
Arching an eyebrow, he shrugged. Ah, well, what the hell? He followed the old man this far; why not risk the Shack of Death? He bowed mockingly at the old man to precede him and followed after.
After stepping on the clearly termite eaten porch, a great moan filled the air, and Dylyan was beginning to regret his decision. He took a careful but speedy step back and looked up at the old man. He had turned to look at Dylyan, wondering why he had not followed. "Old man, this porch is going to collapse."
"No, it won't."
"It groaned quite loudly. Are you sure it's safe?"
"Don't worry, it'll hold. Just walk."
Dylyan looked nervously at the steps but cautiously put his weight on them. They complained again. He paused and put his entire weight on them. They held. He looked down in shock. "Huh." He shrugged to himself and walked inside the Hell Shack, and then he openly gaped in surprised.
While the outside looked completely abandoned and unlivable, the inside, however, was a different story. It was small, yet homey. A single bed adorned the one room shack, made in simple white bedding. A small table was placed adjacent to the bed on the opposite wall with two chairs pushed neatly in. The entire room held only two cabinets. A single woven rug covered most of the floor. No windows allowed light in or out, for which Dylyan was glad, for his pursuers wouldn't be able to see them. A single oil lamp hanging from the center of the ceiling illuminated the room.
"You look a little amazed, son," the old man said amused.
"The outside looks worse than it is. I did it so that I wouldn't be disturbed. If Deo's men follow you here, they will probably assume the house is abandoned. And if they try to inspect it, one step on the porch will alert us and probably scare them off. Besides, they aren't too bright. Most hunters would thoroughly check this place out. Your pursuers will not."
"Almost positive. Deo doesn't consider you that big of a threat right now. He started sending simple guardsmen after you. They are not used to tracking people." The old man sat down in one of the only two chairs and sighed in relief. "Prancing around in the forest is not for old men like me any more. I should leave it for young ones like you. Have a seat, boy." He gestured to the wooden chair.
Dylyan grabbed the chair and flipped it around, sitting in it backwards. "Now, old man, who is Deo?"
"Deo is the lord of the village you passed through two days ago."
"And what does Deo want with me? If you haven't noticed, I'm a nobody. I don't even know what I want to do with my life! My father disowned me because I refused to be married like a normal boy, because I refused to be just like he is. A drunkard," he spat out. "I travel now. Until I find out what I'm searching for. I'm good with a sword and I can read and write. Other than that, there isn't anything noticeable about me. Why would some lord of some small village want me?" Dylyan brushed his long black hair back in frustration.
The old man laughed. "You really have no idea?"
"Oh, this is great. Dylyan, you really are in trouble then."
"What do you mean? And how do you know my name? How do you know so much about me? How did you know I traveled through Aelis?"
"That's simple. I was told to find you and help you. In order to do that I was informed about your name and other little bits of information that is deemed important."
"Who told you to help me?"
"Would you like some thing to drink? Water? Sake? Maybe some ale?" The old man rose and painfully walked over to the cupboards.
"Sake is fine."
"I was asked by a friend to help you. Right now, I cannot tell you his name. You will find out soon enough."
"What is your name? I probably shouldn't keep calling you 'old man' you know."
"My name is Galan."
"Nice to meet you. Now, Deo is sending men to find me, why?"
"He isn't sending them to find you, Dylyan. He's sending them to kill you."
"Okay, why is he sending men to kill me?"
Galan looked sharply at him. "That doesn't bother you? He is trying to kill you, son. And that doesn't faze you?"
"Sorry, Galan, but I've been wandering the world for years now. I've seen things that out of nightmares. I've been hunted before."
"Why is he trying to kill me?" Dylyan asked again.
"He has no idea."
"I said he doesn't know why he's trying to kill you."
Dylyan through up his hands in agitation. "Then why is he sending men after me?"
"He was ordered to."
Galan sighed and turned back towards the younger man. He walked over and placed the small wooden cup in front of him before sitting down. "We don't know. Dylyan, all I know is that Deo is sending men to hunt you and kill you. He was ordered to by someone he fears."
"Fine. Why am I being hunted then? Why does this 'mysterious' person want me dead?"
"All I can say is that you will someday do something that this person will not like much."
Dylyan stood up knocking the chair to the floor. "Great. What am I going to do? Write a horrible play someday that annoys him? Step on his toe two years from now during some festival?"
"Dylyan, sit down, please. Because you don't already know, I cannot tell you. It's Fate, son. Things are happening."
"Sorry, Galan, but I don't believe in Fate. And if I did, I would be cursing her with every last breath."
"It is useless to curse Fate, boy. Fate controls the whole. She does not hear curses. Nor praise. She is deaf and blind to everything but the loom." The older man looked towards the door. "Hush. We have company."
"I said hush, boy."
Dylyan watched the old man walk silently to the door. Galan motioned to him to come up and stand opposite him. Together they stood, silent. Dylyan could feel the blood rushing in his veins, his heart pounding. He hated waiting like this. He hated hiding. Dylyan had always been a man of action. He'd much rather jump right in. Action is what he craved and this tarrying was agony. It seemed like an eternity, this inaction. As the seconds ticked by impossibly slow, the only sound he heard was his own breathing.
Galan suddenly relaxed, causing him to jump. He was too wound up. Galan motioned him away from the door and toward the small wooden table. "They're gone now."
"How did you know?"
Dylyan looked critically at the older man. "You're a sorcerer?"
"No. I'm a wizard."
He raised an eyebrow. "There's a difference?"
"A wizard works with the natural magicks of this plane. Sorcerers control them. A wizard is magick; a sorcerer uses it. You can learn to be a sorcerer. You're born a wizard. However, you can be both a wizard and a sorcerer."
"No, I don't think you do, but you'll learn."
"Oh, really?" Dylyan drowned his cup. "I don't really like magick."
Galan grunted. "Suit yourself."
"So, Galan. You actually live here in the middle of this forest?"
"Yes." The old man sighed wistfully.
"Why? I mean there isn't anyone around for miles. You prefer being alone?" Dylyan himself was a bit of a loner himself, but even he couldn't understand this isolation. He had his 'wild' side and often joined in massive banquets, rowdy parties, and peasant festivals. How could someone spend so much time alone?
"Dylyan, after so many years of being a wizard and of living within town walls, one gets tired. Tired of being called on day and night to heal boils or protect horses from mosquitoes. I was once an infamous wizard you know. Years ago. And being reduced to that wasn't something I enjoyed. So, though my powers are still great, I moved into the Laryn Forest. Here. It has been 23 years now. I receive a few close friends and even fewer people needing my services. I prefer it this way."
Dylyan looked at the old man suspiciously. He highly doubted the old man 'preferred' it this way. He didn't press the issue, however. "So, I guess tomorrow I will go on my way."
Galan looked at the young man appraisingly. His shoulder length black hair hung loosely, shining ever so slightly in the small lamplight. His deep blue eyes were dull with exhaustion. "I think it would be best if you went to see a friend of mine. Her name is Amaris. She's a Zuni."
"I thought the Zuni were extinct. The early kings that came to this land had hunted them down. Or that's what the legends say now."
"Yes, they are nearly extinct. Amaris is the last left in this world. You cannot expect such a warrior race to completely die out, you know."
"I suppose you do have a point. Why should I search out this Amaris?" Dylyan had no need to search out people to help him. He felt that asking for help was a sign of weakness, a sign he couldn't take care of himself.
"She lives two days ride north of here. Outside of the small village of Acorith. The villagers will be able to direct you. She is not only a warrior, Dylyan. She is Zuni. You'll understand when you meet her. She'll be able to give you some information and some form of aid, I'm sure. She is quite old, however. Her apprentice, I'm not sure of her name, will soon take over Amaris' duties and so you may have to deal with her. I hear she's quite young and headstrong, but nothing a young man like yourself couldn't handle." Galan yawned suddenly.
"It is getting late. I suggest we rest now." Galan lumbered over to the only other cupboard in the house and reached inside to retrieve an old quilt and an even older blanket. He looked over apologetically at Dylyan. "I apologize for the lack of proper accommodations. Being a guest in my home, you may take the bed." As Dylyan was about to protest, being the gentleman he was underneath the course warrior, Galan raised a hand to forestall him. "No, I insist. I have some small magicks to make the floor soft. It will not be a hardship."
Dylyan was uncomfortable letting an old man sleep on the floor. Yet, what he did say was true; he could make the floor soft. "You could make the floor soft and I can sleep there."
"No. Let an old man have his quirks, son. I don't often have company and I like playing the host."
Dylyan grinned at him before moving over to the bed. He removed his sword belt and laid it upon the bed, where it would stay all night. He learned the hard way what happens to a warrior who lets his sword out of his reach. Stripping down to his soft under pants, he quickly climbed under the covers.
"How did you get that scar across your back, Dylyan?" Galan asked from the floor beside his bed.
"None of your business."
"I see," Galan relented easily. "Rest, now. You must leave at dawn."
AN: I am not very fond of this story because I wrote it so long ago but someone requested I update it, so update it I shall.