[Fanfiction] Storm on Shaikur (3rd book) - Chapters 8, 9 & 10

Discuss about all topics which belong to the book series "Shaikan Cycle" by Uschi Zietsch

Moderator: Forum_Manager

Post Reply
Posts: 30
Joined: Tue 8. Nov 2022, 17:06

[Fanfiction] Storm on Shaikur (3rd book) - Chapters 8, 9 & 10

Post by Ommariuolo »

Chapter 8 – Aonir’s Blade
In the plain a wide, black ring ran around the mighty, shining massif of rock. The heat down there must have been unbearable, but the creatures obviously didn’t mind it.
“There are also living ones,” the Sinistra Sharek Taith said, who hasn’t left his master’s side since the departure. “Raith must protect them with a spell.”
“One more spell,” Hokan Ashir remarked. “Raith is a damned fool to act like that. He knows I’m coming.” He turned to the narrow, white-haired norcaine. “What condition is he in now?”
“He’s in a deat-like sleep, sir.” Sharek Taith had a special gift; he could trace the state of magical beings even at great distances.
“And is it certain that two Fial Darg escaped?”
“There was a big shock as I listened to the magical flows. I felt physically how the bonds fell off them. But I can’t say where they are now. They know how to disguise themselves well – even by magic, not just as a shape changer.”
“Then keep searching, Sharek. Submit them my offer to negotiate. If they form an alliance with me, I’ll delegate the administration of Lar to you. For beginning.”
The Sinistra didn’t flinch with any of its long ear tips in response to the necromancer wanting to conquer his homeland. He was an exile of his people who wanted to take revenge. The caste priests had cast him out because they caught him doing unauthorized experiments. They had called him irrelevant and dragged him to the Sinistrim, who declared him to be lawless and condemned him as such. The Sinistra had originally been nothing else. They had merged out of sheer necessity and founded this caste – all unworthy, casteless and outcast. They still had a hard time standing up to the Dracon and the Archons, but they could no longer be wiped out. The Sinistra were too many for that now, and they owned precious things, such as the liber sinistrorum, the only completely preserved grimoire of this kind. Raith had illegally appropriated it to perform the ritual to awaken the Fial Darg.
Sharek Taith was determined to obtain the grimoire. He would give it to his master and be richly rewarded for it. And then he would reject the Sinistrim and take his place, and the Sinistra would be the ruling caste under the aegis of the Fial Darg. They could be valuable to the dark Princes, because no one mastered the art of assassination as perfectly as them. They were mages and warriors at the same time, proficient in both skills, mostly silent and fast on the move like a shadow in the midday sun.
Everyone who had judged him would soon regret it. The norcaine smiled gloomy to himself. A new order was emerging and he was on the right side.
“I’ll continue my efforts, master.”
Hokan Ashir nodded. Pondering, he stared down at the plain. “Too annoying that the Shaikan escaped with the book. But well, we can devote ourselves to it later, it just has to wait.”
“You’ll soon be able to move into Shaikur, master, and the young Shaikan will be there. Nobody can escape you anymore.” Sharek’s voice sounded eager.
“Can you trace him?”
“The boy? In a way, sir. He seems to be there soon, I think he’s already in our sphere of influence. I have the impression that... as if he was suffering. It isn’t pleasant to follow him.”
The necromancer clenched his fist. “It’s the power in him, Sharek, that he inherited from his ancestor and wants to be released. This power is older than us, original and natural. If we can use it, we have conquered the world in a few days. Nothing may happen to him! I need him alive for my purposes.”
“Ruorim will want to use it himself,” the Sinistra objected.
“Ruorim does what I tell him to do,” Hokan Ashir snarled. “He owes me a lot, and he knows that I would take it badly should he resist me. He may call himself a mage, but for me these are just festival tricks. Ruorim came to me once and asked for a favor that I fulfilled. Better than he had ever dreamed of. So, he’s well advised not to forget it, and to always be aware of how deeply he owes me. Otherwise I’ll direct the favor against him very quickly.”
Sharek Taith smiled with delight. He had always feared Ruorim’s competition, the Shaikan was very strong and ruthless. He was a loyal follower and served Hokan Ashir well so far. The Sinistra had worried that one day the necromancer would no longer need him because he preferred Ruorim at his side. But now it sounded different. Ruorim seemed to be rebellious, and the necromancer was upset about it. Hokan Ashir didn’t tolerate any opposition or claims.
Hokan Ashir suddenly turned to him. “You’ll lead the army in the attack,” he said surprisingly. “The generals have their orders and know what to do, but you’ve to do all of them. I myself will take care of Raith. His black soul will wither and blow away here in the desert sand, and that should be a sign for the other eleven what to expect if one opposes me.

Sharek Taith gave the signal to attack, but he didn’t ride ahead. He was of the opinion that the term “leading an army” was a matter of interpretation; he didn’t have to mean that everyone was following him. Rather, the Sinistra saw it as giving Hokan Ashir’s orders to the generals and then retiring to safe posts to check that they were being carried out correctly. Sharek Taith had to keep the overview, because no mistakes could happen.
The problem with the attack was the big ring, the huge front that had to be blown apart from the outside. Hokan Ashir therefore sent ahead the cavalry – horses and wolves, let them swarm and at the same time attacked about a third of Raith’s army before the foot soldiers came. By the time they arrived there would be a mess, and the third would be tied up while marksmen and javelin throwers turned to the next – and the axe – and sword fighters the last. It had taken almost a full day for Hokan Ashir to position his army so that it could attack from three positions.
In this battle it was better to use the living, because they not only rushed forward blindly, but were able to quickly change positions and decide at short notice which side to turn to. The Irons and Undead, on the other hand, were better suited to siege Shaikur because they didn’t need anything and could stand by day and night. They didn’t get anyone in – and let no one out, these were simple and precise commands that didn’t require much understanding.
Hokan Ashir’s army started the attack and Sharek Taith shouted his orders. No one heard him, but it didn’t matter. They all knew what they had to do and only paid attention to the different tone sequences of the hornblowers that could be heard over the attack noise.
Soon the two armies were interlocked and swayed back and forth. No mercy was preserved, it was only about to kill as many as possible before one fell himself. It was impossible to tell who was going to get the upper hand, above all the enemies could hardly be distinguished.
However, Hokan Ashir had a huge advantage on his side; for each fallen warrior, an undead rose and fought on as long as he could still move. The necromancer had put on the Mask of Belial and shouted horrible words of dark power. The warriors fell and rose again, more and more.
The other side, however, was without a leader and couldn’t renew on its own. It gradually lost its strength. If a warrior fell on that side, he wouldn’t get up again. So, they withdrew their violent attacks and started to give way. The initial storm became mere defense.
When Hokan Ashir saw this, he happily removed the Mask. The rest of his army would do it alone. He could do more important things.
Regardless of the fighting and dying around him, he moved through the battling crowds. As soon as someone got too close to him, intentionally or not, he raised his hand and muttered a word, and it was as if the one was hitting an invisible wall.
Then he had reached the caverns and saw Raith lying there, helpless and vulnerable. An evil smile played around Hokan Ashir’s outline. Now he was finally so close to his enemy, and his deathly charisma could not harm him. A few more moments, then it was all over.
The Necromancer immersed into himself, gathered all his strength in the mana and looked for the right saying. Then he reached out and began summoning.
But nothing happened.
Hokan Ashir was amazed, tried again with a different emphasis. The saying was the right one, there was no doubt about it.
But again, nothing happened.
It can’t be, the mage thought. He put on the Mask of Belial and tried it in another way. Maybe Raith was already a half-being between this side and the other, which had explained his shadowy movements and the deadly charisma. No one could resist the Mask, it was made by Zarach’s servant himself and held ancient power in itself.
A black flash of lightning struck the body of the sleeping man – and bounced off. And not only that, he was thrown back, hitting Hokan Ashir with full force. He owed his life to the fact that he was still wearing the Mask. The Necromancer whirled through the air as if struck by an invisible fist and finally fell to the ground, the mask slipping away.
Hokan Ashir lay half-power, panting, unable to move a muscle. The battle raged around him, while he struggled powerless for his composure.
He was lucky that day, namely that he had planned the attack so well. Because his army was rapidly gaining the upper hand. Otherwise it would have been bad for him.
Finally, he managed to grab the Mask and pull it close, and immediately felt the deadly power seep into his body and flow through it like burning poison. It saved his life. The forces gradually returned, and finally he was able to stand up. With the strength of his thoughts he called Sharek Taith to himself.
Soon after, the Sinistra arrived, and he seemed startled and worried about his master’s condition.
“Help me up,” Hokan Ashir ordered weakly, and Sharek Taith obeyed immediately. The necromancer leaned heavily on him and pointed to Raith. “How could it happen? How can he resist Belial?”
Sharek Taith closed his eyes and stretched out the magic probes. “A protective field...” he finally said in a low, absent-sounding voice. “I recognize it. It must come from the grimoire.”
“So, did Raith use a third spell to ensure that he remains protected after the ritual has ended? Against the Fial Darg too?”
“I think so, sir. He has incorporated the ritual of protection, which should take effect at the exact time when he becomes too weak or loses consciousness.” Sharek Taith nodded appreciatively. “That was very clever and required additional power. Raith is very strong.”
“And I’m very weak,” Hokan Ashir growled. “At least at the moment.” He straightened up, stood swaying and exhausted, and rubbed the sweat off his forehead. “I was a fool to assume that Raith wouldn’t think of a protective spell. That almost cost me my life.”
“Nevertheless, you’re the winner, sir,” the Sinistra assured eagerly. “Raith’s army is leaderless, it’ll be completely destroyed! Should he ever wake up again, the black man will be alone in the desert and will have to start all over again. He’ll have to retreat to Lar for a long time until he has enough strength and has gathered soldiers to face you again.”
“He won’t,” Hokan Ashir said in a recognizable, more powerful voice. “I’ll close the borders of Lar so he can never cross them again. And then I’ll hold an unprecedented criminal court there, because I don’t let myself treated like that.”
“Sir?” the sinistra replied, concerned. “Certainly, you couldn’t kill Raith now, but you’ve inflicted him a crushing defeat, and he has not achieved his goal of binding the Fial Darg to him. And nobody knows when and if he ever wakes up at all. You were able to conquer all the soldiers there and incorporate them into your army. And you got an extremely capable mage to support you.”
The necromancer slowly turned to him. “You mean to refrain from punishment?”
“It would be a waste, sir. The norcaine are extremely useful to you as soldiers. and when the Fial Darg answer your offer, you’ve –”
“But I must punish someone,” Hokan Ashir interrupted him calmly, then grabbed Sharek Taith at lightning speed with both hands and broke his neck.

The Raith’s army had been completely destroyed, but Hokan Ashir didn’t feel triumph. Raith the Black was untouchable, so the fight was far from over, but would one day continue. The Necromancer was furious because again no decision could be made.
But it didn’t help. After all, Raith was badly hit when he regained consciousness, and there might be another Circle Mage who would take care of him. All in good time, Hokan Ashir thought.
After all, he could now calmly move on to Shaikur, where the young Shaikan was traveling with the grimoire. Ruorim had surely taken over the fortress and prepared the field for his master. The next plan was to build a base there and use the young Shaikan and the grimoire. And after that it would be Lar’s turn – probably just a walk. And next...
Hokan Ashir interrupted his thoughts. He had calmed down. All in good time, he repeated for himself. He was well on the way to rewriting history.
The necromancer turned when his generals came. The battle was over and none of the Black’s had survived. A long, bloody day came to an end.
No one noticed the dead body of Sharek Taith, lying in the sand at Hokan Ashir’s feet.
“To Shaikur, sir?” the first general asked.
Hokan Ashir nodded. “Shaikur, yes,” he answered. Because that’s where the new age begins.

Chapter 9 – The way to Shaikur
Goren lay on the ground and trembled despite the warmth that still prevailed at night. He was half passed out, but the pain raged through his body, threatening to blow his chest. It was like his heart was contracting and shrinking. He gritted his teeth, but a depressed groan crawled through them. As if from afar he felt the touch of a delicate hand, then something cool, damp. He heard damped voices and took a while to realize that they were talking about him.
“Is he ill?” Buldr’s roarnig bass.
“No.” Goren felt a stab in the heart. The soft, dark voice of Starshine. “It’s the magic.”
“Can we help?” Hag, very concerned.
“I could look for herbs, if you tell me what.” Menor, always helpful.
“Buldr, raise him up and hold him, I’m trying to give him something. Hag, Menor, hold his arms and legs if he spasms. I don’t know how he reacts to it.”
Goren wanted to say something, but his tongue was swollen like a fat eel in his mouth. He noticed how powerful hands put it on. Buldr leaned against him, and Hag and Menor held arms and legs. I don’t need it, he tried to say. I can control myself. It’s just a stupid cramp or a sunstroke. It’ll pass.
But none of this came over his lips, he couldn’t even keep his head upright, let alone open his lids. His body no longer obeyed him.
Again, he felt Starshine’s tender touch, and at least tried to smile to show her that he was pleased with her near. She pushed his head back until he met resistance.
“Hold him by the forehead, Buldr, I try with a sponge. I think he can’t swallow properly because his tongue is swollen.”
“Hopefully he won’t swallow...”
“Quiet now, hold him and I start.” There you are, Goren wanted to say as he felt cool wet run down his lips, then somehow found the way between his lips into his mouth. It was pleasantly soothing, and he quickly noticed how the swelling of his tongue reduced. The next drops found their way to the throat and he swallowed quickly. You see, everything is very simple, I can handle myself. You could let go me, I’ll be all right again.
“He swallows!” Menor cried with delight. “It works quickly.”

“Yes, wait until everything has arrived in the stomach. Then you’ve to be prepared, because there’s no warning.”
Nonsense, nothing happens, you’ll see. You said it, yes, but troubles don’t necessarily have to arise. But since we’re together, there’s something I have to tell you...
The liquid was down.
“Damn!” Hag cried. “He’s too strong!”
Goren’s mind sank into a multicolored, brightly glowing swirl that relentlessly pulled him in and sucked it in. At the edge of his perception, he also noticed how his body cramped and then writhed – and he heard someone scream.
Then his mind disappeared into the brightly colored fog and danced with the colors.

When Goren came to, it was still dark and freezing. So much so his teeth clattered together.
“Come closer to the fire, can you do it?” Starshine leaned over him. “I don’t want to wake the others up.”
“I th-th-think so,” he gasped, crawling towards the small fire on all fours, almost crawling into it.
Starshine wrapped him in a blanket. “We only have one,” she said softly. She hesitated, then slid close to him, pulled the blanket around both of them, and started rubbing his chest. “It’ll get better soon, Goren. In the morning you already curse the scorching sun.”
Goren closed his eyes, took a deep breath of her delicate scent of midnight flowers and felt the cold quickly fade away through her warm near. The trembling of his body stopped and he came to rest. He longed to put his arms around her. But he couldn’t, especially not at this moment. He had to be satisfied that she was finally close to him, at least for a few breaths.
“What’s wrong with me, Starshine?” he whispered. “I have the feeling that my heart no longer belongs to me and wants to leave me. Does it have to do with the summoning of Malacay, in Ur’s chamber? When you held my heart in the crystal?”
“It isn’t the heart, Goren,” she replied, whispering. “It’s your mind. You defend yourself against the magic in you, it’ll destroy your body. And in the end also your soul.”
“But... why am I forced to release it? Why can’t I decide for myself?”
“You misunderstand something basic. By accepting the magic, you’re far from releasing it.”
He wasn’t convinced. “Who knows? I’m not sure if I can control it. I’m afraid of it, because you probably know better than me what rest in me. And what if Malacay’s soul wakes up?”
“Then put the armour on again.”
Since they had left Aonir’s Blade, the armour seemed to have lost its shine. The first evening, Goren was already able to remove it. He had tied it to the horse saddle and hadn’t touched it since. However, the crises had also gotten worse after that.
“You think it goes past?”
“Aonir’s light is woven into it, Goren. You experienced it yourself and even if the Silverflame is far from the magic Blade, it has by no means lost its powers. They only rest until a certain moment because they’re needed again. But it can also protect you with the sleeping powers. Why can’t you trust anything or anyone who has magic, be it a living or a special symbol?”
“I saw what Malacay did with the magic,” Goren murmured, and for a brief moment terror lay in his voice. “Starting with the cruel murder of his father. I was there, Starshine, as if I had done it myself! And it was magic that killed my mother, practiced by my father. How do you imagine should I ever gain trust?”
“Because you’re Goren,” she said softly. “You aren’t like Malacay or Ruorim. You are kind and friendly. Your soul is bright and pure. You should consider the magic within you as a gift, not a curse.”
“And when Malacay’s soul wakes up again?” he asked unhappily.
She pulled away and wrapped the blanket around him. “You have to choose, Goren, because you can’t go on like this for a long time. And soon I can no longer help you against the crises, for that my means are not enough. Either way it’ll kill you if you don’t give up your resistance. Be brave and face the challenge. You may be surprised and nothing will happen.”
“How do you mean?”
“It isn’t said that you can use the magic even if you release it. What you carry in yourself isn’t easy to control through the mana, it’s something very old, natural that existed long before alchemy. The forces in you may still remain tied up because they’re only intended for one purpose: to fulfill your destiny.”
“You want to tell me,” Goren considered, “that I don’t necessarily have to become a mage, but rather a medium?”
“Something like that. Because you don’t know what to do with it, anyway. You never learned it.” Sternglanz nodded calmly.
For Goren it wasn’t so easy and conclusive. “Then am I even less myself than at the time under Malacay’s spell? Any piece in a board game that is randomly pushed around?”
Starshine rose. “Aren’t we all, Goren?” Her hand slipped to the neck, covering the scar of the slave ring that would accompany her throughout her life.
“No,” he said fiercely, and instantly damped the voice, startled. “No, Starshine, I don’t believe it,” he whispered. “You may find yourself dependent on the gods, but I’m a godless one who cannot hope for the accompaniment of a soul shepherd after death. The Shaikan stand outside the divine law, they’re only responsible for themselves and they alone decide about life or death.”
“Well, you proud godless who’s above all laws and rules, then make a decision between magic and death and don’t hope that I’ll help you again!” She turned abruptly and disappeared into the darkness.
As so often, Goren remained sad and lonely – and angry with himself because he could never control himself. Because it always ended this way between them. I’ll never be able to tell her, he thought. She’s with me only because she still feels committed to being released from the Valley of Tears. She told me it herself. She doesn’t let me acquit her, and I have no idea when she sees the debt as settled. But she also always wants to make me something that I’m not. I don't know what she sees in me, but I can only disappoint her. I’ll never be the one she wants.
He felt miserable and desperate. The encounter with his father came closer and closer, and his fear of it grew. Of course, the desire for revenge for his mother was still burning in him, but he could match Ruorim this time? Could he dare the open dispute? At the time, he only escaped from the camp because Starshine freed him. But now everything was different, Ruorim knew that he was coming. Probably he could already trace Goren.
But it also means that I can’t reach the fortress unnoticed. Unless I ask Starshine again to use her gift. Raith didn’t notice us when we approached him. But can I expect her to do that? Can I ask her? Isn’t it my fight alone?
Goren stood up carefully. He was still a little shaky on his legs, but the pain was gone. He pushed sandy soil together and put out the fire; on one hand touched by the care of his friends, on the other hand angry about their recklessness. And Starshine wanted to keep the guard all night? How did she imagine being able to continue traveling afterwards? Norcaine also needed sleep, as Goren knew very well from Craig, and Starshine was still half-human.
Oh, what do I care? he thought irritated. Anyway, she wouldn’t listen to me and let go with one of her verdicts again.
He looked around unhappily. The moon illuminated the area sufficiently that he could see a nearby hill. Resolutely, Goren made his way there and tried to banish firmly Starshine from his thoughts.
A light breeze blew on the top of the hill, and that was exactly what Goren had hoped for. He stood against the wind and concentrated.
Speak to me.
Soon there was a gentle whisper and murmur around him.
Why do you hesitate?
No, not like that. An answer to a question he didn’t want to ask – that went too far.
What about Shaikur?
In the hands of the Shaikan.
My grandfather?
In good health.
What should I do?
Don’t hesitate.

Goren rubbed his temples. So, it had to be that way. He could throw everything away, the armour Silverflame, Malacay’s dagger, the dragon shield. But not himself.
Goren listened his inner self, groped for Malacay’s sleeping soul, which was enveloped by a dark wall. The ancestor couldn’t penetrate them, at least Ur had said so. But Goren could open the wall and take the soul out. That was exactly what his father probably wanted from him, and he was sure that he would go out of his way to get Goren to do just that. Ruorim didn’t really care what happened to his son, it had been planned from the start.
Goren had hoped that if he had no magic by refusing it, Ruorim wouldn’t be able to approach him. But it looked like it was a mistake. As long as he didn’t accept what lay dormant in him, he was not quite himself. And the longer his resistance lasted, the more he fell apart and lost himself. Starshine had told him that from the beginning. And now the winds made it clear.
What is left of me when I open myself? He thought fearfully. Am I still Goren, once Fatherless, now Wind-Whisperer? There’s a difference between using magical objects and having a small gift – or to be an aspect of magic yourself. I always wanted to be a warrior like my mother, not a mage. She detested magic, and for good reason.
But ultimately... magic could also do good. It didn’t always have to end in madness like Malacay or the Circle Mages. And if it meant Goren’s death as long as he continued to refuse it, there was no point in holding onto it. Even so, he lost control a little more every day.
Goren sighed deeply. He had no idea what to do, and he didn’t understand the whisper of the winds. He stood upright, closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Sank into himself as he had learned from Derata. As a warrior should do before going to battle.
The strength you need lie in the peace. Gather your thoughts and concentrate only on what was in front of you – and forget everything else.
When he was ready, Goren opened himself.

Hag jumped up when the first ray of sun fell on his face, looked around and ranted: “Starshine, darn it, why didn’t you wake me up?”
Blinking, the young woman opened her eyes and stretched. “Because I was sleeping.”
“You fell asleep during the guard? You? The most dutiful being I know?” Hag was stunned, his mouth was open.
She sat up and brushed her long, pitch-black hair. “I didn’t fall asleep during my watch,” she retorted. “And Goren took over your watch.”
“What’s that all about now –”
“By Niethalf’s hammer! Can’t one be woken up once in a different way, for example by lovely singing or a gentle kiss?” Buldr straightened up and looked grim. He nudged Menor, who was still sleeping happily next to him; nothing could easily wake the young Nortander up. “Hey, come to!”
Menor growled and turned, but startled up when Buldr hit him hard on the other side. “I’m awake! I’m awake!”
Hag’s face was worried. “But where’s Goren? How could he take over the guard after this attack?”
Buldr pointed to a hill. “There he comes, then you can ask him yourself.”
The friends rose and looked at the young Shaikan, who soon arrived at them. He looked a little sleepy and pale, but also strangely satisfied.
“What happened?” Hag asked in astonishment.
For the first time, Starshine’s voice was amazed. “You have done it?”
Goren grinned a little sheepishly. “After your telling off yesterday, I had no other option.”
“Who did what?” Menor scratched his shaggy tuft and yawned.
Buldr eyed Goren. “Yes, you’ve changed,” he finally said.
“Why doesn’t anyone tell me what’s going on?” Menor complained. “It’s Goren, or not? Back to his senses, which I’m very happy about, but what’s different?”
Hag suddenly smiled. “His eyes, beanstalk, take a close look.”
Menor stared at Goren, who remained patient. “Suspiciously cheerful, it seems to me. No longer so introspective and melancholic. Must be a great medium, Starshine, can I get some of it?”
At last, Goren took pity. “I finally accepted the magic in me and released it.”
“Really!” Menor cried. “And what happened?”
Goren grinned at Starshine. “Nothing,” he answered. “Nothing at all.” He went to the horses and began to saddle them and load things up.
“Like – nothing?” Menor said helplessly, and the others laughed, with the exception of Starshine, who showed no expression about what was going on inside her.
Shortly afterwards, after a quick, sparse breakfast, they set off.
“Was anything noticeable during your night watch?” Hag wanted to know, who was leading the reins of his horse next to Goren.
“What night watch?” Goren asked in amazement. By the way, the fire is criminal negligence. Didn’t think you would allow it, Hag. I extinguished it right away when I came to.”
The Falcon was out of breath and he looked around for Starshine. But she had somehow vanished.

Finally, they reached the rock range before Shaikur and were looking for a viewpoint to find out about the situation. The good horses had let run in the meantime; from here they were able to find their way and soon more nutritious pastures. Goren had put the armour on again and the flame dagger in his belt, and fastened the shield on his back. He carried the grimoire in the old stained bag tied around his shoulder which he had taken from Aonir’s Blade. The book weighed heavily, but he was getting used to it.
They felt dizzy when they saw the army of Irons and undead lying in front of the fortress – and high up on the top of Shaikur, whose flag was visible up to here, another banner fluttered: that of Ruorim.
“Shaikur is actually in his hand,” Goren whispered, pale. “The winds predicted it, even on Aonir’s Blade: the fortress has fallen. But when I asked the winds the last time, they said... Oh, I misunderstood the answer. Now I understand...”
“How did Ruorim succeed?” Hag asked. “How many losses did it cost?”
“Grandfather lives,” Goren said. “I know that for sure. That means more than ever that I have to go inside.”
“And here we find a couple of fools who take a carefree walk in dangerous terrain in broad daylight without paying attention to cover,” at that moment there was a rumbling voice behind them.
They turned around. A huge, hairy orc had emerged between the rocks and was appeared in front of them, arms folded but with a wide grin.
“Wolfur!” Goren exclaimed. “Where do you come from?”
“In a hurry from Iron Storm,” Craig’s voice came from the other side. The Dracon jumped down a rock. “With a bit of magical support it went faster, but still later. We’ve been watching you sneaking here all the time and have been able to follow you easily.”
Goren was glad to meet the Dracon, they hadn’t seen each other for a long time. He still could hardly believe that the great norcaine stood up for him and Shaikur. Wolfur Grimbold’s sight made him even more happy; of course, he had eagerly listened to all reports from Hag and Menor.
“Wolfur,” Starshine said. “You have increased a lot since the Valley of Tears.”
“Yes, gorgeous, isn’t it?” The orc blacksmith turned to the side and proudly presented his impressive belly.
“I can’t keep up with that anymore,” Buldr noticed and laughed out loud.
“Now we have finally been brought together again,” Hag remarked. With a quick sideways glance at Menor he added: “Almost all.”
“Craig is now included!” Wolfur rumbled and seemed to want to pat the Dracon on the back, but just stopped in time. “Goren, you look a lot better than the last time you met, but not as well as you should. Be cheerful! Help is coming from Iron Storm. Soon Shaikur will be in the right hands again.”
“What are you doing now?” the Dracon asked.
“I sneak in tonight,” Goren declared resolutely.
“Past Hokan’s army? To the fortress that’s in Ruorim’s hand? You’re crazy!” Wolfur tapped his temple with his index finger. “By Zarach’s claw, the desert burned out your brain.”
“I can bring him in,” Starshine intervened. “You all. I only need someone to take care of me when we’re in Shaikur, because I’ll be out of action for some time.”
“I take care of that!” Menor shouted, then frowned and added shyly: “If you allow me.”
“None dearer than you,” she said with a smile. “The others are the better fighters, but you can hide yourself – ourselves – well.”
Craig looked at her gloomly. “How do you want to do it?”
“Nobody sees me when I don’t want it,” she retorted. “And I’ll not say more about it.”
Goren seemed to be fascinated – and torn. “Starshine, I...”
“Shut up, blockhead, it’s my decision,” she interrupted him. “All or none, and certainly in my way. And I’ll not say more about it.”

The others looked dumbfounded as Starshine climbed further into the rocks after clarifying their position – and Goren after some time in the other direction, from where, as he claimed, he had a better view of Shaikur.
“Are they always like that?” Wolfur Grimbold roared.
Buldr sighed. “Just a couple of lovers.”
Hag also sighed. “If only they finally stood by it.”
And Menor added. “None of us dares to tell it them, it would only cause more trouble.”
“Traveling with them is probably quite exhausting,” Craig Un’Shallach remarked in his own matter-of-fact and cool manner. “Anyway,” he continued, “we have to prepare for tonight. We’re looking for a good place from which we’re immediately on the flat and shortest way, because we definitely need a few hours. We sneak as close as we can before Starshine uses her powers, and then we’ll have to hurry and run.”
“Yes, and until we start, we should all sleep well,” Wolfur added. “None of us can break down on the way.”
They climbed down the rocks as far as possible and sought good cover, especially as protection from the sun. They ate the last supplies and drank the last water. Nothing moved in their surroundings.
“Like in the realm of the dead,” Buldr muttered.
“I don’t even think it’s as quiet as here,” Menor said laconically. “The voices of the dead are louder.”

Goren continued to stare at the large mountain where Shaikur had been built into. The ramparts and towers protruded from the rock, and the young Shaikan imagined that his grandfather was somewhere inside and was waiting for him. Ruorim had let him live, he was convinced, because otherwise he had no pressure against Goren at all.
Maybe I should better protect my friends and give up myself, he thought. Nothing will happen to me because Ruorim wants me alive. And once I’m in the fortress, I’ll think about how to free grandfather. And Ur, who Ruorim undoubtedly must have put in chains, because otherwise he would wipe out Hokan Ashir’s army. And then my father is finally grabbed by the collar and we can then prepare for Hokan Ashir.
He pondered for a while, then nodded to himself. Yes, that’s how I’ll do it. I wait until the others sleep deeply. Then I disappear. I have to win land as quickly as possible so they don’t notice it in time and get me back. A shame that the horses are gone, now I could have used a good one.
Goren suddenly felt his heart light. Finally, the thing came to an end.
So, he fell asleep.

Starshine uttered a scream that immediately got Buldr, Hag and Menor on their feet. They looked disturbed at the young woman, who was stunned and wide-eyed. The sun had already sunken, dusk set and spread pale twilight.
“Goren...” she uttered hoarsely. “He... he’s gone. And... Wolfur and Craig too...”
“What?” Hag rushed to the edge of the rock and peered out into the country. “I can’t find a trace of them... but it’s also too dark to be able to make out anything further away.”
“What... what does that mean?” Menor stuttered. “Why did they just leave us here?”
The half-norcaine could not calm down. “He left without me. Why did he do that?” she whispered. Her eyes suddenly filled with tears.
Buldr hastily came up to her and she allowed him to hug her gently. “It’s all right, girl,” he said softly. “You won’t lose him.”
“I don’t understand any of this,” Menor repeated desperately. “Why is Goren leaving without telling us anything or at least leaving us a message? And why with Wolfur and Craig?”
Hag, who had looked around cautiously, returned with a serious face. It was almost dark now.
“He didn’t go,” he announced. “The two dragged Goren with them.”

Chapter 10 – Father and son
Goren came to himself in chains, surrounded by walls that seemed familiar to him. So, I’m in Shaikur, he thought. But how did I get here? He couldn’t remember anything. Although he wanted to stay awake, he fell asleep. Then everything was dark, he couldn’t even remember a dream.
He tugged on the shackles, but they were stuck. Angry, he looked around the chamber as far as he could. He sat with his back to the door, in front of the amazingly large window. Apparently, they wanted to give him an outlook so he wouldn’t get bored. But looking out at Hokan Ashir’s army out there was little edifying. Goren wasn’t in an interrogation room, neither in a prison, but in a – chamber.
On the Whisper Gallery! In a niche was a comfortable looking bed that was freshly made. There were tapestries with motifs of horses and dragons on the walls. A wall contained a closet for clothes, next to it was a sideboard with washing utensils that also looked fresh. To the left of the window a narrow door led to a balcony and another door to the inner bathroom. There was also a wood-carved table and two chairs, artistically crafted candle holders and a shelf with books and tomes. No doubt this bedroom belonged to the royal family, but Goren had never entered it before.
Apparently, he should have it “comfortable” despite the captivating. It’s typical of my father, found Goren. Half beautiful, half ugly. And always under his control.
The door opened. He turned his head as best he could. “I’m busy!” he said. “Another time!”
“Since when do you have humor?”
It gave him a violent stab in the heart when he recognized Weylin Mooneye’s bell-clear voice. He looked at the lovely elf, who was slowly coming around him and leaning against the window with his arms crossed.
“Weylin – you seem to be fine...”
“Yes, I can’t complain,” she smiled. “Your father is an attentive lover, who thought that.”
It shook him. “I think I’m getting sick.”
Weylin laughed. “What annoys you more: that I gave my carefully kept virginity to your father or that he may be a better lover than you?”
“You speak abominably, Weylin, things like that are not an issue for me at all. What has become of you!”
“Nothing that I wouldn’t have been.”
“I can’t believe it.” He looked troubled. “I got to know you differently after the Valley of Tears. You were lovely and helpful, you were one of us. We were friends...”
“Grow up, Goren,” she mocked him. “We’re all not children, except maybe you, because you’re very young. You still live in a dream world that your mother created for you, but it’s time for you to wake up from it.”
He felt like vomiting. “I woke up the moment I watched my father murder my mother cruelly and violently. It’s not for nothing that Ruorim is called the Butcher!”
“There’s another side of him that you should finally recognize. He has told you more than once that he loves you as a son and wants you to be by his side.”
“You can’t really believe it, Weylin! What did he do to you?”
“Nothing,” she answered. “He did nothing to me, Goren. And he didn’t force me to do anything. I gave myself up to him voluntarily.”
He could feel, she was under no spell. “He seduced you... made you will-less with his words and possibly...” He closed his eyes briefly. His father had enslaved Weylin, in whatever way. She served him. Maybe she had surrendered to him to survive. But at the same time she had lost herself.”
“Now you have betrayed us all,” he repeated.
“Don't be silly, Goren.” She sounded almost annoying. “I haven’t betrayed any of you. I just made up my mind. Ruorim told me many truths and opened my eyes. I believe in him.”
“A man who murders and tortures...”
“It’s warfare, Goren. You killed too.”
“In an honest fight and I don’t torture anyone...”
“He does what is necessary! And he isn’t at all like his people, who kill out of sheer pleasure and violate women. Like that repulsive creep, Enart Twohands. He’s a perverted pig! Ruorim has never done such things.”
“And you believe him?”
“He never did violence to me. Since I have been with him, I have only shared the bed with him. And he left Hag and Menor alive.”
Goren shook his head. “I just can’t believe you said that with serious belief. You’re blinded by his beautiful words and seductive skills. He twisted your brain so you only parrot his words. Start thinking again! You should wake up, not me!”
She sighed. “I can see that nothing can be done with you. You’re still the same bumpkin as in the Valley of Tears. You have neither the maturity nor the greatness of your father. I don’t know what he’ll find in you, but maybe that’s the case with biological offspring. Even hardness men like him then become soft and indulgent.” She grinned. “I’m going to find it out. Which would you prefer, a sister or a brother?”
“Leave me alone!” Goren screamed. “Get out of my eyes!”
She shrugged. “As you wish. Should I have something brought to you?”
“Go,” Goren sobbed. “Just go, Weylin.”
She left him without another word. It starts very well, Goren thought in his anger and despair. I’m faster in Shaikur than I thought, but I don't know how to find and free grandfather, and I can’t send any messages to the others, that I’m well. What are they doing right now? Hopefully they aren’t looking for me. Hopefully they’ll get out of here very quickly, because here they can’t do anything anymore. Everything is lost.

“Excellent,” Ruorim said. He stretched out his legs and raised the wine cup. “Thank you very much, my new friends.”
“Always at your service,” a hoarse voice answered.
Opposite the new lord of Shaikur were two almost troll-sized, but somewhat human-like shapes with something demonic about them. Their cold, hard, edged and non-human faces were dark, their eyes glowed whitish-yellow. They each wore a helmet crown, a long coat of arms, bracers – and greaves and a long cape. A huge long sword and an axe were attached to the weapon belt on the left and right, and a flashing dagger was stuck in the belt across the front. The aura of the two beings was hardly bearable even for Ruorim. Even the food served to them according to the rules of courtesy was spoiled and charred in a short time. When ruorim sipped his wine, he found that it had become pure poison, like from a snake, and he threw it away immediately.
No one else was in the throne hall, probably not even nearby. Where the Fial Darg went, everything fled, even the bravest. Plants withered instantly, and young beings, no matter whether they were animals or humans, lay down and died because their vital forces were being deprived.
Ruorim, who had already dealt with Circle Mages, was impressed for the first time in his life. And he admitted with some fascination that he was mortally afraid of the dark Princes, although he had never experienced this feeling before. Not even Raith the Black, whose aura killed everything in his immediate vicinity, had endured for a long time near the Fial Dag, whereas he probably had left them completely unaffected.
The crown of creation, you couldn’t call it anything else. As if Zarach himself were in them, a dark, bottomless abyss. Even the sun outside suddenly seemed only cloudy and could no longer send its rays into the hall with full force. Tiara the Dancer hid herself with veils to avoid the eyes of the Fial Darg.
Ruorim wondered why the two had closed the deal with him. They had also been able to take everything, Shaikur, Fiara, the whole world. They had almost succeeded once, and only the Guardians themselves had been able to stop them.
Their glowing eyes lay on him, and the Fial Darg continued in a hoarse, echoing, almost lifeless voice. “We know what questions you ask yourself, Ruorim from the Shaikan. But know, we have our reasons to close the deal with you. Don’t ask for the background, because we’re servants of the Renegades, their worldly hand, and we’ve an important task to fulfill. In addition, your offer comes to us, and for that we brought you your son.”
Ruorim nodded. “Not even I could recognize you behind the fake shapes of Craig and Wolfur. I was almost inclined to sound the alarm until I finally understood. I didn’t want to know how long you’ve been here, if not in the midst of mine.”
Now the second Fial Darg spoke. Neither of them had given names with which to address them. We’re all one, they had explained. We have no names. We are who we are, the Fial Darg. “We don’t assume a fake shape. If we change the shape, we are the one whose appearance we assume. There’s no difference. Nobody can unmask us because nobody can recognize us.”
“I thank you for accepting my proposal,” Ruorim continued. “And I stand by my word: you’ll receive the liber sinistrorum so you can raise your brothers as soon as the fight for Shaikur is over and I have reached my goal.”
The only chains that Nor had applied on the Fial Darg were those of an agreement. They had been able to easily take the book off Goren, but the deal was settled, and they were bound to it. The Silverweaver, who had gratefully accepted Zarach’s gift, had made this the only condition before they were released to the world. Otherwise the Fial Darg weren’t tied to anyone, and with their god-like powers were able to overthrow even the Renegades.
So, they had brought Goren and the book along with the magic weapons to Ruorim. They had also fulfilled the rest of the agreement to maintain the grimoire.
It was the only security Ruorim had, and he was happy about it. Under normal circumstances he had never agreed to this contract, and now that he was physically facing the two Fial Darg, he deeply regretted it. Even those like him could only call these demonic beings terrifying. In the meantime, he now only called Raith’s plan for their revival, insane. How had the Black imagined binding all dark Princes to himself? They no longer had a reason to fight on either side, except their own.
Ruorim was the only one who could offer them what they asked for – and that’s why they had reacted immediately when he magically tried to get in touch by Ur. His luck, but hopefully not his ruin.
“We’ll now retreat outside to Hokan Ashir’s army,” one of the Fial Darg said. “In this fortress life comes to a standstill if we stay too long. Today’s generations are no longer used to a power like ours. This world has become weak and small.”
“Yes,” Ruorim said to all, preferring not to add anything more.
The second did so. “It was a shocking awakening. We’ll have a lot to do to make the rose bloom again.”
A completely unsuitable comparison, Ruorim thought, because these creatures certainly did bloom nothing. Death and destruction were their companions, and they had become rulers of chaos and destruction. But he smiled diligently and nodded politely goodbye, however without getting up. It was his right as lord of Shaikur, and he didn’t want to give the impression that he was inferior.
They rose and left the throne room, and the terror crept after them like a shadow.
Ruorim wondered if the price wasn’t too high for what he was aiming for. Guardians and Renegades may assist us when one day all Fial Darg are free, he thought with a shudder.

When the door opened, Goren was tempted to make a comment, but then refrained from doing so. He had sat motionless all the time and look outside, at the undead and Irons there. And on a particularly gigantic, black and silver glittering creature full of spines and thorns, which occasionally walked – back and forth.
When his father came into view, he let out a dry, loud noise. “You took your time. Did Weylin take her claim before?”
Ruorim laughed. “That must hit you harder than anything else,” he said. “Weylin voluntarily went into my hand.”
“Voluntarily,” Goren snorted. “Don’t make me laugh!”
His father rubbed his long mustache. “I admit, in the beginning she did it out of revenge on you because she couldn’t get you. Are you amazed? Didn’t you know that? She loved you, son. It still does today, only it has turned into hate.”
“It isn’t true,” the young Shaikan whispered.
“Don’t blame yourself,” Ruorim said. “Weylin is a special being. She hadn’t enjoyed you for long. Now she knows that I’m the better choice. You could never offer her what she gets from me. And I have to confess, it was wonderful for me to be able to enjoy a virgin after so long and yet an elf. She was very docile... and hungry. It’s still so.”
Goren stared out the window, he didn’t want to talk about it any longer. It hurt too much. Instead he asked: “What’s that terrible being out there?”
“The Invincible.”
“Oh...” Goren remembered the whisper of the winds on Aonir’s Blade. “The Irons – I wouldn’t have thought...”
“It’s unique. Basically, it was able to carry out the siege alone, the rest of the army isn’t needed at all.”
Why didn’t Ur attack the Invincible? Goren wondered. “I found out from Aonir’s Blade that Shaikur had fallen in a bloody battle. But it isn’t true, right? How could they be wrong?”
“Because it was a possible future, at the end of which Shaikur was defeated,” Ruorim answered. “The other, better, was the one your grandfather gave to me.”
“He had never done that voluntarily,” Goren whispered. “Did you hex him?”
“No, my boy. I’m the rightful lord of Shaikur, whose claims to the throne stand before Darmos Ironhand’s.”
“What –” Goren was out of breath. He stared at his father in amazement. He couldn’t believe it, but – it had to be right. The Shaikan had given the fortress only for this reason, otherwise they had all died and destroyed Shaikur beforehand.
Ruorim leaned over the chains and opened them. They rattled to the floor. Goren rubbed his torn joints. He winced when his father touched his face gently. “You look very battered,” he said softly. “Emaciated and aged by far too many years. But at least you finally opened yourself up to magic. Good. You may have otherwise died in the hands of the Fial Darg.”
“So, were they?” Goren leaned back. “All the time I was wondering how Craig and Wolfur...” He shook his head. “Antic magic, it doesn’t even recognize this fraud.”
“If it consoles you, I didn’t recognize them either and almost killed them if I didn’t see you between them in time.”
“That’s what you dream of.” Goren got up and moved his legs to make the blood circulate again. “And what’s next? What are you going to do with me now?”
“Goren, things have changed. Listen to me, then decide.” Ruorim told Goren what his claim to Shaikur was, and the young man listened amazed and horrified at the same time.
“So, is it legitimate?”
“Ask your grandfather, he’ll confirm it. He personally searched the library and found old dusty documents in which it’s listed. Of course, my grandmother Merunu never made this evidence publicly to her family after she received it, but on the other hand didn’t dare to destroy it.”
Goren nodded hesitantly. “How’s Darmos doing?”
“Apart the prison and the chains – good. I check on him every day. He’s in excellent physical shape, but his heart is broken, as you can imagine,” Ruorim answered.
“Maybe you’d better to kill him,” Goren replied quietly. “It’s very cruel by you.”
“All shaikan have been kept alive for this, and nobody, driven by revenge, will attack me from behind.”
“Can I go to him?”
“Not yet, Goren. First this will end here.”
Goren laughed dryly. “And whether it will, Ruorim, because the Iron Storm will come! I don’t think the Fial Darg lied. How else should they know about Craig and Wolfur’s trip? You won’t be the master of Shaikur for long. Not later than Hokan Ashir’s arrival, if he wants to take over Shaikur.”
“Wait, son. Your old father still has a few surprises in store.” Ruorim went to the door. “I’ll bring you something to eat and drink.”
“No chains?” Goren asked in astonishment.
Ruorim smiled. “No. Where should you go? Also, don’t hope for Ur’s help, he only obeys me as his master.”
“And... was that all talked about? No trying to pull me on your side? No promises or threats?” Goren walked angrily towards him. “Damn, what are you doing?”
“It was just a father-son talk,” Ruorim said calmly. “You now know the whole family history, you know that your grandfather is fine. And I was able to convince myself that you’re well too – and finally you’ll stay with me a little longer than just for a fleeting moment. We’ll get to know each other when all of this is over. And what I need you for – I said it earlier: just wait. Be patient, soon everything will be clear to you.” He turned away, then paused again and pointed to the bed. “In this place, my son, you were once born, because this was the chamber of your mother, whose scent I can still smell when I’m here. And I see her like you stand before me, if things were different. And maybe better.”
With that he was outside, and Goren remained as petrified.
Post Reply

Return to “SpellForce - Shaikan Cycle”