[Fanfiction] Storm on Shaikur (3rd book) - Chapter 17, Epilogue & Attachments

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[Fanfiction] Storm on Shaikur (3rd book) - Chapter 17, Epilogue & Attachments

Post by Ommariuolo »

Chapter 17 – Starshine
Craig Un’Shallach had just reached the gate of Shaikur when he spotted Starshine that was rushing out on a horse. She didn’t see him – or didn’t want to see him – so he had to intercept her. He steered his horse towards the other and reached the reins.
“What’s happening?” he asked.
Starshine stared at him with shimmering eyes. “Ruorim murdered Darmos Ironhand, are you deaf? What do you think, why there is such a mess?”
“And where are you going?”
“Goren followed him, Craig. And I’ll follow Goren and look for him because he’ll need help!”
She wanted to snatch the reins from him, but he held them relentlessly. “Wait, Starshine,” he said calmly. “It has to be planned, I just won’t let you storm on it.”
“You can’t stop me!” she screamed and slapped her heels on the flanks of the horse, which was pulling the reins desperately and prancing.
“Chill out!” the Dracon commanded her sternly. Then he saw Fugin running in a hurry.
“Craig!” the grey-bearded one cried breathless.
“I’ve heard it already!” the Dracon got before him. “Listen, you have to pull yourself together now! The battle is over and the winners are returning. You must immediately ensure order and calm in Shaikur and the honourable reception of our allies! Let uncover in the throne room, bring in bards and maids. For the first time in history, Shaikur opens its gates, so behave appropriately! You have only a few hours until they arrive, so you should hurry. Marela should know what elves, orcs and dwarves, trolls and humans want. Durass arranges the sentries and the guard of honour for the reception. Eavesdropper is supposed to somehow accommodate the wounded that they aren’t in the path. Wolfur can help him. And then celebrate! For Darmos the time will come for adequate grief, but now it’s only about the end of the war against Hokan Ashir. Do you understand how important it’s what I say?”
In the meantime, Fugin was breathing again. “Of course,” he answered. “This unique event in history is of incomparable importance and we’ll not make a mistake. I promise you, Dracon Craig Un’Shallach. The allied people will not forget their visit to Shaikur so quickly and will keep it in good memory!”
“Well.” Craig nodded in satisfaction. “Get Juldir for support, he knows such things. Buldr and Hag will also be arriving soon. Starshine and I go in search of Goren and bring him home. We’ll hurry up, but don’t expect our return before tomorrow, maybe a day later. But we’ll come, and certainly not without Goren.”
Fugin shook his hand. “Thank you – you both. Good hunt!” Then he hurried back.
Craig let go the horse’s reins. “A bad time for a pursuit,” he said. “We have no supplies with us, let alone enough weapons. That means we have to hurry.”
Starshine nodded. “Thank you,” she said softly.
He paid no attention to her, but galloped away.

The sun was already at zenith when they reached the gorge the next day. Relentlessly, Tiara’s fire burned into the narrow crack, ate holes in the cooling shadows, and made the rocks glow.
“There.” Craig pointed before themselves. “A black and a gold-colored horse. We found them.” He clicked his tongue, his horse accelerated.
Starshine felt her heart clench. “I can only see the horses,” she said in fear.
But then she discovered a dark bundle on the edge of a rock wall and grabbed her chest.
The horses raised their heads and pricked up their ears as they heard clatter of hoofs. They neighed at the arrivals.
However, Craig slowed again and raised his hand. “Slow, now,” he said. “We don’t know what to expect.” He looked around, probing the rocks with his gaze. Everything was silent.
Starshine could hardly wait, but forced herself to be patient. Craig was right, rushing blindly could put her in danger. If only they could see the dark bundle!
They slowly approached the horses, and finally Starshine blurt out. “It – it’s Goren. I recognize him by the shabby armour...”
“Just calm,” Craig warned. “It doesn’t matter for a few moments.”
“I could use my protective gift...”
“Girl, pull yourself together! We don’t know if magic acts, so to cast a spell on us if we get too close. Then your gift will also be of no use to you.” The Dracon stopped. “No step further, I don’t like it. I can smell the magic scent.”
Starshine wanted to protest, but finally submitted. Craig was right, she could feel it too. “What you want to do?”
“Look around a little between the rocks,” the dracon answered. He dismounted and handed the reins to Starshine. “Wait here until I get back or give the all-clear.”
Since Goren lay below the right wall of rock, Craig climbed up on the same side with quick, safe movements.
Soon he was gone from the Starshine’s sight and she looked at the motionless Goren. Please, stir, she thought vigorously. Move, show me that you’re still alive.
But nothing happened, no twitch. From a distance she couldn’t tell whether he was still breathing. She had to wait anxiously.
The sun was only sending narrow strips of light into the gorge when Craig finally returned. “I have found Ruorim’s armour,” he reported. “It looks like he hasn’t survived – whatever happened up there. I could see no trace of a fight, Ruorim hadn’t even drawn the weapon. Only Goren’s sword lay there, but there is no blood on it.” He showed the blade to Starshine and then attached it to the saddle.
“Then... then we can now...” she stammered.
Craig nodded. “I’ll check on Goren as first. Can you bear this?”
She straightened herself. “Of course.”
He went ahead on foot. Starshine was slowly following him on horseback. She observed the Dracon still secure the environment. The air around her seemed to be buzzing, and the magical flows was almost as tangible as a powerful breeze. But it wasn’t a spell, not a trap, but the effect of something else. What had happened here?
Craig leaned over Goren and turned him over.
“Is... is he...” Starshine started timidly and fearful of her answer.
“He lives,” he answered. “No external injuries. But I still don’t know if he’ll make it. It depends solely on his will.”
Starshine jumped from the horse and hurried to Goren. His face was pale, deep pain and exhaustion had carved him. He was in deep unconsciousness. Starshine put her hand on his forehead and closed her eyes. “I can no longer trace his mana...” she whispered. “His magic... has disappeared. I can’t reach him...”
“Forget the magic,” Craig hummed. “Hold him with your love, Starshine, that’s all he needs.”
She looked up at the Dracon, her eyes wet with tears. “You knew it?”
He sighed deeply. “Child,” he said indulgently. “I’m norcaine but not stupid or blind. Just as little as everyone else who knows you both. What you feel for each other is so obvious like a sword differs from a bread knife.”
She blushed. “I was never aware of it,” she said embarrassed.
Then Craig Un’Shallach did something amazing. He reached out and gently stroked a black streak from her forehead; a fatherly gesture. “Since many years,” he said calmly, “I’m looking for what connects humans, why they can sacrifice themselves for others. The norcaine are the most perfect creation of all people, but they aren’t perfect because they cannot feel true love. With you and Goren I spot exactly what I’m looking for. This deeply felt affection, which doesn’t require great words. No explanation or justification. You’re there for each other and each one gave his life for the other without thinking about it for long. None of you could go alone through what you went through together – not without this unconditional trust and know that no matter what happens to the one, the other will catch him.”
“But you have a half-blood daughter,” she whispered. “Don’t tell me that you don’t know yourself what you are talking about and that your search has never been successful.”
“Maybe a little bit,” he sighed. “But not like yours, not to the last consequence. There’re limits that I cannot get past. But part of you is human. Finally think about it, because now you need humanity, not magic, and certainly not the dark part of the Archon in you to reflect to Goren the will to live.”
“I want to give him everything I can,” Starshine cried and put her face on Goren’s feverish cheek for a moment, caressing and kissing his forehead. “It’s everything I demand, what I want, even if worlds separate us.”
“The worlds are smaller and closer than you think.” Craig bent down. “Come on now, Starshine, you still have enough time to be by his side and give him your strength. First, we have to bring him back.” He slid his arms under Goren’s body and lifted him up. He gave a slight cough, and his powerful arm muscles tightened visibly. “The young guy has a decent weight,” he noted. Goren didn’t wake up, his body remained limp and motionless. He lay dead in Craig’s arms. Craig carried him to the waiting horses. “Goldenbolt, old boy, can you do it?”
The stallion stamped his hoof and nodded strongly. Craig put Goren across the saddle and tied him. Then he lifted Starshine on her horse, which was too high for her to be able to ascend.
Finally, he reached for the black horse’s reins, which curiously sniffed at him. “Ruorim’s black,” he said and patted his neck lightly. “A magnificent animal, much better than my brown one, which I lost against him.” He tied his horse to the saddle and swung himself onto the black horse. “Are you ready?”
Starshine nodded. There was a special smile on her beautiful, delicate face.
“So then, we’ll take Goren to home,” Craig decided, and they made their way back.

With a jerk Goren got up. He looked around in astonishment. “I’m not – dead?”
“No,” a female voice answered, and Marela the Gentle stepped to his bed. She handed him a bowl of milky, weakly steaming liquid.
Goren looked at her suspiciously, but then he drank obediently, knowing that it was better not to resist. In fact, he noticed how his vitality returned quickly. But also the memories. He rubbed his black hair and propped his head up. “Did I just dream or did it all really happen?”
“It’s all real, Goren. And you remember everything.” She put a hand on his arm when he looked up at her and his eyes filled with tears.
“So grandfather is really dead...” he whispered.
Marela nodded. “Yes, Goren. I’m so sorry. We have embalmed him and will honourably bury him when we come to rest. But... at least Ruorim gave him a quick death. He probably didn’t feel anything anymore. And when we found him, his eyes were broken, but his face looked peaceful. He smiled...”
Goren swallowed. “But my father... what have I done there...”
When he could no longer hold back the tears, Marela jerked him very close to her, buried his head in her arms and hugged him to her chest. Silently she stroked him until he calmed down and released from her.
“I never want to let that happen again,” he said hoarsely. “It’s so easy to speak of revenge and death, but then to really accomplish it’s something else. I killed him in a cold rage, full of calculation, only out of blind hatred. But that wasn’t right, because it no longer brings the dead to life and only brings me closer to the dark. He was my father, after all, and he... well, in his strangely twisted way, he loved me, I think. He could have killed me, but he didn’t...”
“You didn’t kill him either, Goren,” Marela said gently. “I saw it with my clairvoyance. You gave him what he was striving for. There was no other way, either he or you. And remember what he did to your mother because he couldn’t let her go. You redeemed them. And Ruorim has now also found his peace. I think after he lost everything and knew he would never achieve his goals, that’s what he wanted.”
“Now I have no one left...”
“Don’t talk nonsense, child. Sure, your family is gone. But you have many, many friends. And you have Shaikur. You have written a great story and now you’ll start a new one.”
Goren shook his head. “I have Shaikur? What should I do with it?”
The old woman laughed. “Goren, you can’t escape it. You take on the inheritance of your grandfather, your mother and your father at the same time, you’re the purest Shaikan of all. Darmos also left instructions on how to proceed, so there’s no doubt as who’ll take over. Believe me, nobody will contest your right. On the contrary, everyone expects you to sit on the throne. You are now the model of the Shaikan. They have great hopes in you.”
“By Aonir’s light, you’ll experience a surprise.” Goren waved it off. “Rather tell me how it’s at all! I somehow didn’t notice the end.”
“Shaikur is saved,” Marela replied with a smile. “Ruorim’s death was noticeable so far and chased away the last marauding troops who still didn’t want to give up. Hokan Ashir has long been on his way back to Kaith Halur to lick his wounds there. At least for a while we’ll have a rest from him.”
Goren listened to himself. “I really lost the magic,” he said in astonishment. “I don’t think I can even speak to the wind...”
“Oh, I think you’ll never completely lose this talent,” Marela replied. “One day you’ll be Wind-Whisperer again. But until then you should enjoy being human, young and healthy body and soul. And you’re also free to a certain extent, apart from the burden that you’ll soon be carrying. But you need the responsibility, you great hero and strong warrior, otherwise you had avoided yourself from the start. This is exactly what your mother raised you for. And you’ll of course also find it easy to get others around.”
“Don’t start again!”
Goren had always wanted to be free of his magic. But now that the time had come, he felt strangely numb and empty. Inside was a big happiness that he had to get used to. He had imagined it easier. His entire perception was changed, almost shifted. As if he was learning to see, smell, hear and taste in a completely new way. To feel. He felt like newborn. It was exciting and terrifying at the same time.
“I’m leaving you alone now,” Marela said, getting up. “Come, when you’re ready – you’re eagerly awaited.”
“Yes, soon.” he murmured.

Goren fell asleep again, but finally bad conscience drove him out of bed. Well, he would survive this public encounter. He could have carried out such an act once, after all, he wasn’t innocent in the whole thing. And then he would look for someone who took over everything – and get away. Somewhere in the world, always following the way he had dreamed of as a child. Moving freely across the country and don’t have to worry about anything...
Goren swung himself out of bed, however he was a little insecure on his feet when he got up. But he was fine. The light wounds had been treated and were already healing, and the lost vitality was quickly returning.
However, when the young man looked at himself in the mirror, he was startled because he hardly recognized himself. His face was smooth and young, but the memory was still in his old eyes.
Especially because he gave up on himself.
I had no more will, he remembered shaken. Why am I still alive? I know I wanted to follow my mother and was halfway there.
He washed and dressed, slipping into the things Marela had laid out for him. No armour, not even a weapon belt. The fabric of the doublet was made of the finest velvet, shirt and trousers were made of silk wool, all coordinated in shades of blue. Plus new boots. And... a coat of arms, white with a golden dragon head.
When he finished, he looked at his image in the mirror again. Am I glad to be alive?
Blockhead, the mirror answered. Of course! You’re young, with a young soul, without the shadow of an old one. You’re experienced and wise for your age, but you’ve a future. It is up to you to make the best of it.
Goren sighed and left the room. Only now he realized that it was the ruler’s chamber they had brought him to.
A guard stood in the corridor, which was just right for Goren. The man greeted him deferentially, but Goren waved it off impatiently. “I had a few things there,” he said. “A battered old armour, a spotty thick book, a bloodstained dragon shield and a pretentious ritual knife. Find everything together and bring them to me in the throne room, where you put them down near the throne, but in such a way that nobody can see it. Then take your post again – or what else you have to do.”
The man saluted and Goren went on. It was fun, he thought and grinned happily. He hadn’t felt so good in a long time.
Yes, it was good to be alive.

The throne room was full, and Goren was now startled. So many important and noble people – and everyone was waiting for him!
“I’m... sorry you had to wait so long...”
“Oh, nonsense, Marela let us know that you woke up, and thus we all came here,” Buldr Redbeard’s roaring bass was unmistakable. He ruthlessly pushed himself through the crowd. “How nice to see you so well, boy! Let me hug you.”
The noble men and women waited patiently when the Dwarf half-crushed Goren Wind-Whisperer against his broad chest, and then there was Hag the Falcon who didn’t want to stand behind, followed by Wolfur Grimbold, who couldn’t miss out, and then...
“Menor!” Goren cried. “Are you alive?” His eyes got involuntarily wet as he hugged his friend.
“Yes, my bones are more robust than I thought,” the young man said, who seemed to have grown thinner. He couldn’t move well, one arm and one leg were splinted, the head was bandaged, as was the chest. But in his eyes there was shine and zest for life again. “I’m so happy that you still live, Goren, so at least not everything was in vain.”
Goren nodded and after a while he said: “Please, sit down, friends, and excuse me for a moment, the kings are waiting...”
Embarrassed, he approached the high rulers who stood in a group next to the throne: King Conte from the Highmark, the Iron Lord from Iron Storm with Chaptain Chakk from the trolls, King Haldrin from Windholme, Lord Taranwil and Lady Derwyn from Finon Mir, Clan Leader Prince Hugvin from Nortander, who was an older edition of his son Hag, and last but not least Dracon Craig Un’Shallach from the norcaine.
Before Goren could say anything, they cheered him up and shook hands one by one. Their faces, even those of the proud, cool elves, were relaxed.
“You did what seemed impossible, young Shaikan,” King Conte then spokes for everyone. “All six races united in one room – and against a common enemy: the Circle Mages. You opened our eyes, that we can only stand together against this madness. The Convocation War isn’t over yet, but for some time we have rest so that we can plan the next steps and prepare ourselves. We’ll have to fight on many fronts.”
“And the Shaikan will be wherever you call them,” Goren said with rough throat. “Maybe this is a fresh start for all of us, despite the bad signs.”
If only Derata could have experienced this! He was happy that her dream had come true.
“Yes, then we’ll leave because there is a lot to do for all of us. We remain in friendly contact, Goren Wind-Whisperer, lord of Shaikur.” The king shook his hand again and then set off.
The Iron Storm came next, and Wolfur Grimbold, grinning almost embarrassed, stood by their side.
“That was an amazing adventure,” the orc ruler noted. “Above all, it was good practice for us so we wouldn’t rust, because all sorts of things will come up to us.”
“Wolfur, are you going to Iron Storm?” Goren asked curiously.
In his place the Iron Lord replied: “He has no other choice, I have obliged him. Because I lost my blacksmith somehow, and right now there’s a lot of work.”
Wolfur gave Goren one last dreadful hug and laughed that the room shook. A promising future lay ahead of the former slave, once outcast freak. “Visit me!” he cried, leaving.
In succession everyone said goodbye and Goren was dazed. So much storm on him that he had to digest first. He had imagined that it would be easier to disappear immediately after the ceremony. It looked like he wouldn’t escape the throne.
Well, he could do it for a year or two. He was young and could go on later. After all, he had got the ball rolling, so maybe it wasn’t so good to get out right away.
The Lord and the Lady from Finon Mir shook hands last. “We’ll lead Weylin home and guarantee her burial there according to our customs,” the Lady said. “In spite of everything, she was our daughter and she was entitled to make her own decision.”
“I’m happy about that,” Goren confessed. “Because she was our companion from the Valley of Tears and a friend until she let the darkness run free. I also believe that Menor will be happy about it because he truly loved her, even if she never reciprocated.”
“We know that, and above all because of that we cannot blame him for what he did. He sacrificed his love in the service of a higher cause,” the Lord said. “It’s very brave and noble. We invited him to go to the funeral with us, but he refused.”
Goren was amazed, but thought it was a wise decision. He couldn’t imagine Menor in the elven kingdom, and they were probably not unhappy of his refusal. But it was a very generous gesture to invite him, because Finon Mir’s borders had been closed for centuries and usually didn’t tolerate non-elves.
Finally, there was only Craig left, and Goren wasn’t sure what to say. However, the Dracon helped him: “We’ll talk to each other later, Goren. Say goodbye to your friends first, because they’ll move with the others... at least almost everyone.”
Goren had to swallow. Suddenly everything went so quickly. He went to the friends who had waited patiently with black beer and a plate of smoked meat. “You no longer stay?”
Hag looked troubled. “It’s very difficult, Goren, but my father insists that I restore Linn’s honour, so I have to go with him right away.”
“Mm?” Goren looked puzzled. Buldr, however, grinned broadly beyond his bushy beard.
Hag embarrassedly scratched his blond hair, but his blue eyes flashed happily. “Linn is my betrothed. We couldn’t get married anymore because I was recalled to the Highmark early, where I was captured, as you know. And she... yes... well, we’ve a daughter.” He blushed, somehow he still couldn’t seem to believe it.
Goren and Menor stared at him as if he were a ghost, then burst out laughing, patting him on the shoulder and congratulating him. Buldr, who had already drawn the right conclusions, did the same.
Hag shrugged. “I should actually get drunk with you now, but then my father will kill me. It looks like Linn buzz around his ear trying to get me back to her as quickly as possible, and he looked strained accordingly. And it’s a long way. By the time I’m home, my daughter will probably be able to walk.”
Goren and Menor were still laughing. “I’m proud of you!” Menor said. “Sons may follow, for whom Goren and I could then be godfather, and Buldr...”
“Enough!” Hag defended himself with a laugh. “I don’t want a whole army, a small family it’s well.”
That brought Goren to the next farewell. “What are you going to do, Menor? Can you leave?”
“Yes, I think so. Marela is a great healer. And my travel companion wants to go, so I have no choice.”
“Who are you talking about?”
“Of me.”
Goren spun around and stared at Craig in amazement. “You and Menor?”
“Worse than a burdock, this thin miserable,” the Dracon said. “We’re both looking for something similar, so I’ll take him for a while until I stick his head in the swamp and let it rot there so he can finally shut his cheeky mouth.”
“It’s worth a mug! Cheers, cheers!” Buldr cried, lifting the mug to his lips and emptying it in one sip. Menor watched him piqued.
Goren turned back to Menor. “So, your thief career is finally over?”
The Thin grinned. “As a bard I’m much more talented, anyway. You’ll see a release from me soon, Goren.”
“Don’t stay too long, Goren,” Craig spoke in between. “Ur awaits you and then I want to say goodbye. Some things shouldn’t be put off.” He turned and stepped out onto the large balcony.
But there was still a farewell. “Buldr, will you go to Windholme with Haldrin?” Goren’s voice sounded sorrowful, he could no longer control himself. They had been together for a year, and now it was all over. The only and best friends he had ever had.
The dwarf nodded. “Yes, Goren. Aldridge, Orim’s brother, was pretty ill-treated when we took the secret passage into the mines. They treated him seriously bad and that’s why they were able to follow us. After all, they let him live, and the best thing is, he renounced to drinking. But they don’t need me now, I owe them. And I also have to finally look after my family, I avoided it long enough.”
“Yes, of course.” Goren realized that it was better that way. “And what are a few days or so, just to drag the farewell out? It doesn’t make it easier. We’ll all see each other again, won’t we?”
The three loudly affirmed it and toasted together for the last time, for what Buldr was concerned, at least symbolically, since he looked a little unhappy because of that.
Goren got up and waved to them. “Come with me, I have something for you before you leave.” They followed him to the throne in amazement, and there, as ordered, Goren found what he wanted. I like it, he thought. I could get used.
He picked up the dragon shield and handed it to Hag. “For you. May it protect you in the battles that will follow.”
Hag took the valuable shield in confusion and opened his mouth, but Goren got ahead of him. “No thanks, no hesitation, no rejection. I want to get rid of this stuff, that’s all. I could just throw it out of the fortress, but I’d rather give it to you. I don’t want it anymore, so take it and throw it away somewhere if you don’t want it.”
“All right, then.” Hag’s deep blue eyes lit up. “I’ll honour this precious gift and think of you when I go to battle.”
Menar received Malacay’s ritual dagger. “It’s suitable for you to use for all purposes. Not too big so you don’t accidentally hurt yourself. And it protects you from magical influences. Useful for the adventures you want to plunge into. During time you’ll find out what the dagger is good for.”
“Phew,” Menor made. He couldn’t bring out anything more for astonishment and emotion.
Goren smiled at Buldr. “You surely suspect what I want to give you.” He picked up the breastplate of the Silverflame. “This was only on loan. It’s part of the dwarves, Buldr. You’ll know what to do with it. I can only thank that I had the honour to be allowed to wear the Silverflame for a while. Last but not least, it freed my mother.”
Buldr nodded seriously, unusually. “I have to thank you, Goren, for your generosity. The whole people of the dwarves is in your debt.”
“Nonsense.” Goren waved it off. “Let’s stop it, otherwise we’ll never finish.” He added sadly: “I’ll miss you.”
“Like us,” Buldr growled. “But we’ll stay in touch and we’ll see each other again. You’ve enough to do yourself now, we were only disturbing. Each of us has a new life in front of us, and this is a good end to this story.”
They hugged one last time, then separated.

Goren had a strange feeling as he climbed the many steps above the fortress. He was afraid of speaking with Ur, on the other hand they should speak now and then start again.
Ur waited at the top, head bowed, eyes half closed.
“You’re tired?” Goren asked softly.
“I’m old, Goren,” the dragon answered. “I longed to fly again. But the blood covenant is stronger than anything else. I’m tied to it until I die.”
“I’m sorry, Ur.”
“It doesn’t need. Because when I see what kind of heroes the Shaikan have become, I serve full of joy. And you, Goren. You’re the best that Malacay could produce. His creation, even if he had never intended it to be.”
Goren was silent and looked over the country, over the withered Iron Fields, where the remains of the battle were carried slowly and pyre was built for the fallen. The armies of the allied peoples had already marched off, and most of the wounded could also leave. The rest would enjoy Shaikan hospitality for a while.
In the far east black clouds clumped together. The first autumn rain would soon arrive. The country would drown in the floods of water and it was going to be cold, but then, in spring, the new blossoms would appear in radiant splendor and a green carpet would spread out.
All this was now his, the land of Goren Fatherless, the once despised Shaikan. It was a long time ago. And never would happen like that again.
“What do you see, Ur?” he asked, turning his brown-green eyes back to the dragon. A breeze fanned his long black hair, and he thought hearding a soft whisper on his ear, but that was surely just a hint of memory.
“I see good days coming for the Shaikan, Goren. Certainly, the Convocation will one day plunge Eo into deep misery, none of us can prevent it – unless a miracle happens. The future is in constant change. But what I see now gives rise to despair and hope at the same time.”
“Explain it to me in more detail.”
“As I said, the Convocation will destroy many things, but not the whole world. And your people will find new blood and keep. I see a new home, blooming and more fertile than this deserted karstic country. And I see the proud banner flying over the armies. The Shaikan, as warriors of honour, will save Fiara from extinction.”
“But our people are small, old father. And your dragon blood is getting weaker. Our powers will wane.”
“No, because you’ll lay the foundation for a new gift that will save the Shaikan from extinction, Goren. Don’t ask any further questions, I only tell you this: one last remnant of Materia Prima is still in you, and it promises to live where there’s no more life. The word ‘dragon blood’ will take on a new meaning. But don’t think about it now, because you don’t have to do anything for it. It will happen. All I want to tell you is that the Shaikan is becoming an important force in the fight for Eo and that in the future you’ll no longer judge it negatively.”
“And what do you see for yourself, old friend?” Goren asked softly.
“For me? Death,” Ur answered. “But it’s all right. We all die once and I truly have lived beyond my time. But when the time comes, I won’t be the last. I predict to you, one day my kin will return...”

Thoughtful, Goren step down the stairs. Lord of Shaikur, he thought. So now the time has come. Who had thought it back in Lyraine, when everyone mocked me? I was never prepared for it. But I’ll just give it a try. If I don’t like it, I can still go. After all, who could want to stop me?”
The room was empty except for Craig Un’Shallach, who had settled on the throne, with a wine cup in hand.
“It suits you,” Goren grinned. “You’ll see, one day you’ll sit on a throne that is your own.”
“Don’t shout it.” Did he mistaken, or did the beginning of a smile flit across the moon-pale face of the Dracon? “Some of the people would like to see me in such position, but I fear a civil war should it ever happen. As long as the caste system is firmly anchored, there is no place for men like me.”
“Wait it, Craig, you’ve been living so long, you’ll survive the Convocation, whatever happens, and you’ll go on living afterwards.” Goren rummaged in a bag next to the throne. “Apart from it, we still have a couple of years until then – around forty to say it clearly. Until then, I’ll be as old as my grandfather when I met him and take things more relaxed. If I still live until then, who knows.” Finally, he found what he was looking for and held it to Craig. “The grimoire. I hand it over to you so you can give it back to your people. However, it should be kept out of range of Raith.”
Craig stared at the precious old magic book for a while. “Do you know what you give up?”
“I can’t do anything with it, Craig, I never could. In me is the primordial magic that was there long before all the sorcerers. I mean, of course, it was in me, because I gave it back, as I’m now repaying the last loan, the liber sinistrorum. You should decide what happens to it. Maybe you want to destroy it.”
“I’ll not be able to do it, although it would probably be the best. But well, I take it.”
Goren handed the bag to Craig, and he carelessly threw the book into it, snapped the lock.
“Where are you going now, you and Menor?” Goren asked then shyly and almost a little envious.
To Lar, the Dracon replied surprisingly. “I should finally see my wife again. And my daughter. And of course the other children I have with my wife.”
“But Nightsong is something special, isn’t it?” Goren dared to ask an indiscreet question. What role did it matter in the hour of the farewell, whether he annoyed the Dracon with it.
However, Craig nodded slowly and his hard face suddenly became softer.
“Will we ever learn the story?”
“When I am dead.”
Goren grinned. “Menor’ll tickle it out of you. He does it with everyone. If you don’t talk, he’ll do it nonstop, day and night. You’ll reveal yourself to him, otherwise you’ll never rest. And he’ll write everything down. He now wants to lead the life of a bard.”
“But he’ll certainly not release anything until I’m dead.” And for the first time Craig Un’Shallach smiled briefly. “I learned a lot from you, young Goren, and I was happy to get to know you and to accompany you for a while.”
“It sounds strange when someone like you utter a word like happy and say thank you for teaching,” Goren said. “In fact, I’m deeply in your debt. No – the whole people of the Shaikan. Without you we had perished therefore. Be assured: if you should ever be in need and require help, we’ll be there. You just have to call us. No matter where, even across the River of Souls or into the Shadow Realm. And no matter what time, Ur’ll be responsible about this and I’ll record it in the chronicles.”
The Dracon rose. He towered over the tall, broad-shouldered Goren by three-quarters of a hand’s width, and he was even heavier. A tall, proud, and indomitable man who never gave up looking for truth. Craig Un’Shallach was the best example that the dark people couldn’t be condemned in advance. Weylin Mooneye had shown the example of the other side – namely that even a high elf of noble lineage could be dark deep in his soul.
Goren was proud to have won this man’s friendship. That meant more to him than anything else. He held out his hand to Craig, who shook it firmly.
“The blood of the norcaine and the Shaikan may one day mix up, because we aren’t so unlike,” the Dracon said. “Farewell, Goren Wind-Whisperer, and all the best in your future life.”
He had already crossed half of the hall where Goren could not stand it any longer.
“Where is Starshine?” he asked.
Craig paused and turned slightly to face him. “She still has to recover,” he answered. “You’ll see her soon, Goren. Be patient a little. The girl went through a lot to get you back.”
He swallowed. “She went...?”
“Only she could, boy. Must I explain to you why?”
Goren shook his head. He was beaming.

Now alone, stepped out on the balcony and took a deep breath. He watched as the humans, the orcs, the dwarves and the elves left Shaikur and galloped quickly across the plains, each in a different direction. Finally, when the dust cloud of the others had already subsided, he saw two riders. One of them clumsily tried to stop the rushing horse, almost falling, but raised his splinted arm and tried to wave in a grotesque manner. Goren waved back. He watched with a smile as Menor’s horse went through to catch up with Craig who hadn’t slowed down. A strange team, but nothing was unusual these days.
When he heard a noise behind him, Goren turned. His heartbeat faltered as soon as he saw Starshine. For a moment he couldn’t move, nor speak. He just looked at her.
“You must be glad that you’ve lost your magic,” she said.
“Yes,” he confirmed. “I’m glad that it’s finally over and that I’m only Goren, completely myself, without foreign souls, without influence, without allowing to be used. I’m free.”
“Good.” She smiled weakly.
“What are you planning now?” he asked shyly. “You look like you were ready for a trip.”
“Well, yes... there’s nothing left for me...” she said unusually uncertain.
For a while they stood before each other in embarrassment. Then Goren decided that it was enough. He had been putting this off for far too long now, and since he was starting a new life anyway, he should clear this thing up, which was more important than anything else. No matter what it cost him – now it had to bring out.
“Starshine, although you always teach me extensively about my awkwardness, I have to tell you: you still have to learn a lot about humans,” it broke out of him. “Do you think you can just get away? That I let you go without further words? Although you’re still here and not just gone without saying goodbye, that’s a step forward! But tell me: how long should this go on between us?”
“What do you mean?” she asked confused.
“You and me.” He went up to her.
“No!” She backed away. “No, it’s impossible! You detest the magic!” she cried. “But I’m a magical being, I can’t do anything about it, no matter how I try! I... I can’t give up, not even for you!”
He hesitated. And for the first time he saw... pain in her dark purple eyes. Fear. And... and...
“Is that why? That’s the reason?” he said softly. “How can you believe me – because of your...” He shook his head. “Oh, Starshine, so many misunderstandings that wouldn’t have been necessary if we had only spoken openly once.” He continued away. Suddenly everything was easy and his heart sang. Finally he would have the courage to finish what had been smouldering for so long. Craig had been right, of all people, the seven-hundred-year-old norcaine who had roamed the country for so long; in search of love, as he claimed, but they had known a long time ago. Probably better than most humans. Because he carried it, no less than Starshine.
The young woman backed away from him, involuntarily grabbing her neck, to the deep scar that the slave ring had left. “But it’s not all, Goren...”
He gently took her hand and pulled it down. “You’re free, Starshine,” he said softly. “No more chains, no rejection, no mockery. And now listen to me carefully: I love you. Exactly as you’re. I want you and no other. And I’ll not ask you anything you don’t want to give me. I just wanted that you’re with me. Every day, every night, every hour.”
“I – norcaine can’t...”
“Why are you doing this to yourself?” he interrupted her. “It may be that norcaine can’t love, although I doubt whether it’s the same among your peers when I see what kind of beautiful creature you’re in the depths of your heart. But you can, Starshine! You brought me back from death, and not the first time. Do you think that would be possible if you felt nothing for me? Why do you want to break our hearts? What are you afraid of?”
She looked up at him. “I’m afraid of having to pay for it,” she confessed.
“Like everyone must pay, at some point.”
“But where do I belong...”
“To me, my wonderful Silent, like since the beginning of our journey together. Where else? You and me: that’s all we need.” He hesitated for a moment, then said softly: “I have seen you. Really seen. Back then, after Glamrig’s liberation when we fled through the mountain to Aonir’s Blade. When only darkness surrounded us. There I saw you. You were like a star for me... distant, and yet so close at this moment. And we... our lips touched...”
Her dark purple eyes widened. She remembered. “I didn’t dream...” she whispered.
He shook his head. “I can still feel your lips today. And how often do I see this image...” He held her hand and pressed it to his chest where his heart was beating. He looked at her tenderly. “Someone told me that I’m young and should look ahead, and he’s right. This also applies to you. We won an important battle, Starshine, and saved Fiara, at least for a while. I think we both deserved a little happiness for it – together.”
And Goren Wind-Whisperer closed his arms around Starshine, with the firm intention of never letting go her again.



Conceptual explanations and relationships

Aonir and the world of Eo
The Wanderer once awaken Eo to life. Its distant light still shines on the world today and thus stabilizes a magical field that protects Eo from the chaos. To protect and observe the life development there, Aonir left aspects of himself when he left: the Guardians, who were given god status over time and were worshiped by the people. However, two of the Guardians, Nor and Zarach, who were more feared than revered, changed to Renegades and demanded sole rule over Eo. Zarach created the dark people for himself and his brother, who should only be out to conquer, thereby triggering flame of wars for rule over centuries.
The Convocation War, however, was solely the work of the greedy Circle Mages, who sought to banish the Guardians from Eo and take their place.

Craig Un’Shallach
The great Dracon of the norcaine was once created by Zarach and bathed in the light of the god Nor before taking on the duty as an initially simple soldier. However, Craig Un’Shallach (Un’Shallach = sickle shadow) soon achieved a high status. He was always a tough, insurmountable and adamant fighter, with a cool mind. But he never killed uselessly. Intrigues, greed for power, blood rituals were alien to him and finally aroused so much disgust in him that he voluntarily went into exile so as not to conjure up a caste war. In spite of his rejection of the caste system and the critical attitude towards the growing influence of the Archons, for Craig the Lar kingdom and his people meant everything, and he was absolutely loyal to the norcaine. Although feared by the Archons, who would rather see him dead today than tomorrow, in return Craig still enjoyed high esteem by most norcaine, especially the Dracon caste. Quite a few had liked to see him as ruler, so that corruption and intrigues could finally be contained.
Craig’s noble and appreciated wife, Rana, whom he had to leave after the last scandal, maintained a high status, remained loyal to her husband and raised Craig’s half-blood daughter Nightsong.
Craig’s life spans over seven hundred years of significant history of Eo and was summarized by an ambitious writer who met the Dracon during the Convocation War and rode with it for a while as an extensive chronicle of a man and the world in which he lived. The writer, however, was no longer able to complete the work because the chaos of the Convocation swept him away. However, the chronicle was preserved and was continued in the modern era by a librarian who traveled to Lar to do so. He spoke to Craig about it, who had in the meantime become the ruler through a coup d'état with the seal of the norcaine, and asked for permission to be released.
However, Craig Un’Shallach didn’t see the release of the work (as he once unknowingly prophesied), because he was murdered in the civil war soon after when the insane alchemist Sorvina made a bond with the Shadows to conquer Eo. Craig’s entire family fell victim of the turmoil, only Nightsong escaped, whom had previously traveled to the Shaikan on behalf of her father.

Fial Darg and the Convocation
When around 625 years before the Convocation the dark people were close to being subject to the people of light, Zarach made the crown of his creation – the Princes of Darkness.
The Fial Darg are only a small group and not capable of reproduction, but immortal. They’re demon-like beings that can take any shape. Their magical power far exceeds that of all peoples.
The shapeshifter Fial Darg became the secret ambassadors of the Renegades. In order to prevent the people of light from ever achieving their final victory, the Renegades developed a diabolical plan by staging an astronomical event: a comet traverses the sky of Eo every three thousand years. On a precisely predeterminable day, it causes a darkness, called Convocation, when Aonir’s light is obscured by it for some time. During the convocation the feed of the magical field, which protects against the chaos, is interrupted. Normally the short process was of little importance. As soon as the comet moves on and Aonir’s light stabilizes the forces again, everything is immediately as before. However, if concentrated magic was cast at the moment of darkness, the field could finally collapse. Eo was sinking into chaos and the Renegades could prove themselves to be saviors.
In order to do that, the Renegades left fake clues in ancient ruins that spoke of divine powers that were obtained by those who performed a great magical ritual at the time of the Convocation.
The leader of the Fial Darg deposited the fake rune boards, which were written in the old language of the Shapers and thus looked authentic, in a prominent position. And the Circle Mages swallowed the bait a good hundred and twenty years later.
The Fial Darg were personally knocked down by the Guardians at the end of the War of the Six Races around 620 years before the Convocation, when they had almost won for Zarach and Nor, and were chained in the caves of Aonir’s Blade. Eo seemed saved by the Light. However, the Guardians had no idea that the seeds would germinate elsewhere and lead to blood when the Circle Mages discovered the fake rune boards and set up the “plan of the 500 years” until Convocation.
Finally, there were only a few decades left until the Convocation. After the norcaine Raith the Black had studied extensively the mighty grimoire liber sinistrorum – the book of Sinistra; the rising caste of warriors-mages –, he thought he had found a way to wake up the Fial Darg and with their help conquer Fiara and eliminate all competitors. Shortly before the last step of the ritual, he was put out of action by the Shaikan Goren Wind-Whisperer, and almost all of the Fial Darg remained in chains. However, two of them had woken up early and escaped.
These two shapeshifters went beyond the Convocation, that tore apart the continents of Eo in thousands of fragments, causing dread among the people. One of them, it has now been documented, took over the rule of the Red Empire in the year 10 of the new era, the other appeared in the City of Souls. The rest of the Fial Darg are still under Aonir’s Blade.
However, the victory over Raith and Hokan Ashir in the fight for Shaikur was only a delay in the Convocation War, it didn’t end. On the contrary, the Circle Mages now doubled their efforts to achieve dominance by the day of the Convocation, and so they created the blood runes and bound with them the most powerful warriors of the time.
Until the day of the Convocation, the truth about the rune boards wasn’t revealed, and the catastrophe continued unabated. The Renegade’s plan worked – nevertheless they didn’t get the desired result, namely the adoration by all the people and the divine rule in the duumvirate. There were only losers. The fragmented world generally had little left for gods, be it light or dark, and the chaos had created a thin line between Eo and the world of Shadows, and the Shadows were just waiting to break through.
The age of darkness is far from over.

Before the Convocation, the largest continent of Eo and thus the most important. After the War of the Six Races, the dark ones, which previously occupied Xu and Urgath, also settled on Fiara and founded their own empires.
With a few exceptions in the north, the climatic conditions are good, and the country is largely fertile. Prior to its destruction, Fiara had a history spanning thousands of years, some of whose legacies can still be found today.
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