Chapter 7

Plots in the Dark

The Witch was glad to be back at her tower for a total of ten seconds. She knew almost immeiately that something was wrong. She had been gone for too long. She realized that the second she entered the gate. She should have returned sooner to put whatever was wrong back in place.

Her eyes flicked around the first floor of the tower. Not a thing was out of place. Then she realized how quiet it was.

"Nalya?" she called. No response "Nalya!" she screeched. Not a sound, save for the squeaks of a terrified mouse.

"Where could that silly girl be?" she hissed in annoyance, charging up the stairs. Then she saw the opened door. The door to her hidden room.

Had that girl discovered it? Fear crept into her heart, nearly paralyzung her for a moment. Had she discovered the book?

She hoped not. She quickly walked in, and immediately felt the trace of fear left behind by someone. She could smell it, feel it in the air. Strong, powerful, despite being a little over a week old.

No, not someone, she realized in terror. Not someone, but someones. There had been two. In horror, she remembered the vision of the boy. The human male had interfered!

Her fists tightened as she realized what had happened. The human male had come to the tower and discovered Nalya, had likely told her of the outside world. Together, they had somehow discovered her plans. And then he had helped her escape.

And this had been just over a week ago now. They were long gone.

She let out a scream of anger, causing the glass in the window to shatter and fall to the ground outside. The ground shook slightly.

Once she had regained her composure and calmed herself, she smiled as a new plan began to take shape in her mind.

"Estranu caladneh Sarken," she chanted, soflty at first, voice growing in volume. She smiled. They may be long gone, but she could still catch them and bring them back, with a little help.

There was a bright flsh of light, and a man appeared.

He was handsome, strong and muscular, with vivid green eyes and perfect black hair that fell nearly to his shoulders in perfect waves. His complexion was pale, his face perfectly shaped.

Her youngest son, Sarken.

"Hello, mother," he said in a voice that was as perfect as his appearance. "What have you summoned me here for?"

The witch smiled, a terrifying look. "There is something I need your help for."

There were many races in Tavariya. Elves, Men, Dwarves, Daryen, Valduen, and more. But the most terrifying of all was definitely the Arduin.

They were frighteningly powerful. While all races could learn magic if they put their minds to it, the Arduin were born with a natural talent for it that, when worked with for even a short amount of time, could have devastating results. And they were also immortal. At least, almost immortal. They wre closer to it than the Daryen were, due to their powerful magic, but they could still be killed, although killing them was diffiult.

After many years of studdying and perfecting their magic, the Arduin could do devastating damage. One such Arduin sorceress by the name of Nyla had once done so much damage that she had needed to be locked up for over a thousand years, and that had only been after the Shadow Sword had been used to defeat her. The Shadow Sword had been the only weapon in existence that could defeat her.

Nyla had been the witch's sister. Nyla was also the one Arduin that she knew of that could defeat her. Nyla and Kylie, they had been an invincible pair. The two princesses of the Arduin, the sole heirs to the Arduin throne. Their parents had been killed by the Valduen a century before their campaign to rule all of Tavariya began. This had angered them, and had been the fule for their plan to take over all of Bardan, the continent that was home to the Valduen and the Arduin.

It held five Valduen Kingdoms, and a sixth Kingdom, the Kingdom of the Arduin. Despite sharing a continent, the Valduen and Arduin were mortal enemies. However, at times the five Valduen Kingdoms would somehow end up at war with each other, and temporarily forget the Arduin.

The Valduen were the cousins of the Daryen. While the Daryen were the Sun Warriors, the Valduen were the Moon Tribe. Their lives were just as long, but while the Daryen were somewhat closer to humans in appearance, the Valduen were closer to the elves.

If not for teh presence of the Arduin, the Valduen would likely be far more peaceful. However, the Arduin were there, and caused plenty of trouble for their Valduen neighbours, causing them to frequently be at war with each other, never realizing that it was really the Arduin's fault. This was why it had been so easy for Nalya and Kylie to take over all of Bardan in a mere two months.

Then Nyla had gone to another continent for a little while, to try and take their campaign there while she, Kylie, had stayed behind to keep control over the continent that they already held, the continent of Bardan, where the Valduen had their home in the five kingdoms, and a small population of her own kind, the Arduin, lived in their own small sixth kingdom, hidden from the Valduen.

Then the accursed Elves and their Daryen cousins had used the Shadow Sword to imprison Nyla, and it had been over. She had been forced to surrender. But she had never abandoned her plan. She had kept vigilant watch on the Valduen Kingdom of Kildein, the Kingdom that had been at the head of the uprising.

During that time, she had married another Arduin, a strong sorceror. They had had three sons, Adric, Darvik, and Sarken, each one more powerful than the last.

Then, only seventeen years ago, her oldest son had been killed while using magic in an attempt to cause trouble there. This had infuriated Kylie, Queen of the Arduin, the witch who had taken the Princess Sarine of the Kildein, one of the five Kingdoms of the Valduen of Bardan. That was part of why she had cursed the Princess and taken her, as vengeance not only for the loss of her eldest son, but also for the trouble Kildein had caused her centuries before.

But now she had a new plan that would cause even more grief for Kidein than using the Binding Spell. She would truly unite the Valduen and the Arduin. Sarken needed a bride, and Sarine was the perfect one.

"Behold, Nalven, the capitol city of Laryse!" Garyn said to Nalya, who he suspected of being the Princess Sarine. But no matter how many times he told her he thought she might be it, she wouldn't listen of believe him.

"It's beautiful," she whispered as she gazed in awe at the high stone walls and the marble towers within.

"I know, although once you're there often enough, you get kind of used to it," Garyn replied, almost immediately regretting the words. He was in serious danger of accidentally revealing his true identity. And if he did that, then he wouldn't be 'just Garyn' to her any more. And he didn't know why, but every day he became more and more deperate that it stayed that way.

Good grief. He suddenly realized that he was in danger of more than just accidentally revealing his identity to her. Gods help him, he just might be in danger of falling in love with her. And he did not want that to happen. He really didn't want that to happen.

Nalya gave him an odd look. "You do get around a lot, don't you?"

Garyn forced a smile, somehow managing to pull it off. "Yeah, sort of. I just get the right opportunities." Again, not a full lie.

"Are we going to be visiting the city?" Nalya asked, a look of longing crossing her face.

Garyn hesitated. He wanted to stop in the city, but at the same time, he knew he'd be recognized immediately. And then he'd be dragged all the way back to the castle...

"No, that's probably not the best idea," he muttered, eyes suddenly downcast.

"Why not? What's wrong, Garyn?" she asked, concern in her eyes.

"Well, the witch may look for you there. After all, it's a major city, and therefore probably the first place you'd be expected to go," he replied, thinking on the spot. He hoped it would make sense to her.

It seemed to work. She looked thoughtful, and nodded in agreement.

"You're right. Let's go," she replied, riding away from Nalven.

Garyn smiled and followed her. Then again, he thought suddenly, maybe falling in love with her wouldn't be such a bad thing. After all, being who he was, and her being a princess - most likely being a princees, at least - no one would obect. Wait, what am I thinking? I can't fall in love with her, let alone marry her. That would be ridiculous! Besides, she' dnever accept. He watched as she suddenly glanced over her shoulder at him when she thought he wasn't looking, only to glance away again the second their eyes met. Would she?

Estranu caladneh Sarken- "I summon you here, Sarken"