© 1999 Eric Case, all rights reserved..
especially the right to bear arms since I had a sleeveless shirt on when
I started writing this story!
As the first released chapter hinted, the tale begins like the Star
Wars series with Episode IV. It will run through to Episode VI, then I
will go back to Episode I and go through to number III. After that I may
go on to do parts VII-IX, but I think the six may be enough to tell a good
story. Well Enjoy!!!!
Arden lead the boys swiftly through the forest. They were out of the city, but there would undoubtedly be Ithilian troops about looking for people who escaped. "Arden, where are we going?" Jarin questioned.
"We're going to Cragen remember.." Arden answered plainly not stopping or turning to see Jarin.
"Now Arden, I mean Cragen has to be pretty far away and we haven't got much food, and my clothes are soaked and we're gonna have to sleep soon, so where are we going?" Jarin asked again more earnestly. He was beginning to worry that he had made a mistake by going with Arden.
"An old friend who owes me a favor lives in these woods. We will spend the night there and eat well if I know old Derek well enough!" Arden answered softly. He saw the fear in the boys' eyes. They had probably never ventured far from their city before and now he was taking them far from everything they knew.. he had been there before and remembered how frightening leaving his home was. He stopped and turned to them knealing so he was more at eye level and brought them close. He had only just met them both but was already growing fond of the two of them. Their bright wide-open eyes sparkled with youthful innocence, something that had been stolen from Arden when he was thrown out of his home, his kingdom, and sent off alone to survive on his own. Survive he had, but he had seen and done things that even now ate at his soul and he promised himself that these two would be safe. "Boys.." he began. "I know you're both probably a little scared and upset about all that's happened. It has been a long day with some big events in your lives. Don't worry about sleeping or anything else. I will take care of you both, and I promise you that if you follow my lead, no harm will come to either of you. Do you trust me?" He asked looking at their youthful faces.
"Yes we trust you," they said in unison.
"Well then.. on to Derek's.. Now mind you both your manners around him. He may seem a little..... strange, but he's harmless and a good person!" Arden said.
Arden stood, and with a boy on either side, he walked through the growing darkness of the forest. In time the boys fell slightly behind him to whisper quietly about there current predicament. "Are you scared?" Jarin whispered to Joshia who looked at Jarin and said nothing but his face showed his answer. "Me too.. a little." Jarin said.
"Jarin, we don't really even know him and we're following him through this forest. It's almost pitch black, and we haven't eaten all day, and to make things even stranger.. I can't think of anything better for us to be doing right now! AND I'm trusting him!" Joshia whispered back. "Do you think he even knows where he's going? How can he see in this!"
"Shhhh... relax Joshia, he's part elf remember! I bet elves can see real good in the dark!" Jarin answered.
Arden who had heard the conversation began chuckling to himself. When he spoke it split the silence of the night air and nearly made the two boys jump. "Well to answer your questions young Joshia, I can see quite well even in this darkness. Be it that I'm part elf, or just from years of travelling many times at night, I'm not sure which."
"You're magic too huh?" Jarin asked feeling privileged to be learning more about the Arden.
"I know much about magic and I have been gifted with a few rare powers, but I don't know that I'm any more magical than the two of you." Arden answered.
"Us.. magic?" Joshia asked.
"Yes of course... I chose the two of you because there is magic in you both." He said as the two boys gave him a pair of puzzled looks. "There is magic in all of us you see... Have you ever had to do something hard and gotten tired and thought you could do no more when suddenly you got your strength back?" he asked them.
"Well, that is the magic that kicks in.. I have heard some speak of it as being a second wind, but it is nothing more than the magic inside us all. We can use that magical energy to push us that extra mile, or we can learn to focus it if we have enough of it, and use it to our advantage all the time.. when we speak, walk, talk, run.. always!" Arden said enjoying the looks in their faces at his revelation.
"Will we ever run out of it?" asked Jarin.
"The energy is always there and can never be exhausted or destroyed, however we can grow tired from focusing it if we don't learn to focus it properly." Arden said.
"Are you going to teach us?" Joshia asked.
"I can teach you of how to use your strengths, but it will not be easy for either of you..." Arden said more sternly. "Learning to focus your sheen - that's your magical energy - comes with responsibilities. You must never use your sheen for evil. Only works of good."
"What do you mean works of good?" Jarin asked.
"Well take your city.. I came to it to defend it against the Ithilian.. they have grown into an evil people. By evil I do not mean that they in themselves are bad, but their actions against others have no goodness in them. Even now I am working against them.. along with the two of you. I used my sheen today to battle against a foe in a just war.. the defense of your city. If I were working with them against you in their evil lust for more wealth and power, that would be a work of evil. You see?" Arden asked.
"I think so.." Jarin answered.
"Good lads... well we are here." Arden said and the boys looked forward to see a small clearing with a nice sized house near it's center. Arden led the boys forward over the bridge that crossed a small stream that ran through the clearing. They walked up to the front door of the house, with it's thatched roof and white walls and knocked on the door.
After a few moments they could hear a scuffling of feet across the floor, then a gruff voice came from behind the door. "Who be it who disturbs Derek from his slumber? Mark you all I take not kindly to strangers!" Arden began to laugh. It was a rich, deep laugh that seemed to lighten the air around them, and lift the weights from the shoulders of the two boys. "Bugger me! Is that the laugh of Arden I can hear?" Derek said, his voice much lighter and mroe relaxed now.
"Yes old friend, it is.." Arden replied. "I also have two travelling companions with me and we need a safe place to spend the night.. maybe a warm meal.. these two could probably use one last bath before our journey too."
The three outside could now hear locks being fumbled with on the other side of the door. "Blasted lock... tan it all this old thing!" Derek said as he yanked the door open. His face was not all that old, "probably only a man of his middle ages" Jarin thought to himself. He had a somewhat long face and a wide frame. He was not fat by any means, but one of those thick people built like a brick house. Derek was not tall, but not short either. He wore a long night shirt that hung to below his knees and a night cap that sat above his bushy eyebrows but his pointed ears stuck out from beneath it... "pointed ears! He's an elf then!" Jarin thought excitedly. He had never met an elf before although they had always fascinated him. Derek ushered them inside and had them stand so he could look at them. "You're wet.. all three of you! Have you no dry clothes?" He asked in a somewhat irritated tone. "I don't want my beds getting wet and then rotting!" he said.
"Now now Derek.." Arden said. "Our clothes are all stowed in the packs we have brought, but we do not have many supplies, or clothes, and everything we brought is soaked from the river."
"The river?!" Derek asked eyes widening. "What were you in the river for?"
"How's about some food and a warm fire to sit around and we'll tell you of the events that have befallen the city of Islan." Arden said trying to spark the man's interest.
Jarin picked up on this action by his new companion Arden quickly and added "It is a great story to be told sir."
"The boy speaks to me?" Derek said with a look of slight anger and slight disgust growing on his face.
"Derek.. don't. These are not slaves, they are the people who I have chosen to come along with me on this journey. They have as much right to speak to you as I did long ago. We will spend the night here on the floor so long as we have warm blankets and a fire to dry our clothes and we will be fine." Arden said calmly.
At this Derek seemed to relax again and think back to days past. "Aye Arden, you're right as always.. How you can be so powerful and yet so level headed is far beyond me! Sit you down the three of you by the hearth there and I'll fetch some faggots (it means firewood guys not what y'all are thinkin!) for the flame." Derek left the room and Arden sat next to the main room's large fireplace. He removed his cloak and removed his leather vest and shirt underneath. The two boys looked at Ardens bulging muscles. Unclothed he seemed to double in size. He had a few battle scars on his chest and stomach.. small marks, and then a scar from the arrow wound he had received a few hours before.
"Hey wait a minute.. what happened to your wound?" Joshia peeped.
"Oh that will be healed over without a scar by morning." Arden answered. "The oitnment you saw me putting on earlier will heal wounds leaving nearly no scars at all. Unfortunately it does little for ones that are already there he said and he turned around to show the boys his back with it's X pattern across it. It was not extremely visible and had obviously had some magic hand work to remove it, but it was there none the less. Arden had been whipped like a dog at some point and the scars on his back, much like in his heart would never leave him. Neither boy asked about the scars. "You'll both most likely want to get your shirts off also.. Derek will bring blankets you can hang over your shoulders to keep warm." Arden said as he hung his cloak next to the fireplace on a drying hook. The boys followed his example and hung their shirts up next to his. Derek returned to the three with an armload of blankets and another of timber. A few minutes later the three were settled down in front of the fire warming up under their blankets.
"Arden now.. can I ask why you'd pick company such as this for your travels?" Derek asked semingly out of nowhere.
"What do you mean Derek?" Arden asked somewhat annoyed that he was on about the boys again.
"Well, you're obviously going somewhere and danger usually follows you so I would think you'd need bigger lads than these two. You know sort of more like yourself?" Derek said uneasily sensing Ardens feelings.
"These boys have big hearts, the pair of them, and they are also descendants of the Kayukhana like me. The blood line of the Kaya is strong in them." Arden answered satisfied by the wide eyed look from Derek, and the confused looks from the boys.
"Who are the Kaya Arden?" Jarin asked.
"What do you mean?" Joshia added.
"Well boys, you have both noticed a certain.. glow about me right?" Arden asked, receiving the 'how did you know?' answer from their faces. "Few people in this world can see it.. those who can are descendants of the Kayukhana."
"Who are the Kaya?" Jarin repeated his question excitedly.
Arden chuckled. "I will get to that shortly Jarin," he said smiling while Jarin bit his lip giving him a puppy dog face remembering his manners. "Near on six millenia ago, a race known as the Kaya. They were a 'magical' people who's society was based on friendship and love. They existed peacefully and had no crime as to comit a crime is to harm another. They were all magical and the sheen was strong in all of them. Now near the end of their era, a dark and evil force began to enter the world. It started with storms and soon the land was black and shrouded in cloud, as the host of evil began to enter our world. Now the one responsible for unleashing the evil on the land will go unnamed for now, let us leave it at the fact that he was a very bad man! Now, to fight this terrible battle against the evil one, the Kaya joined forces with the Wigami."
"Who were the Wigami?" Jarin asked softly.
"The Wigami was a great wizard.. the most powerful ever before and ever since. It is said that he had more magic in one finger than ten of the Kaya together." Arden continued smiling at Jarin's thirst for knowlege. "Together they stood against the evil and together they defeated the evil... for a time. You see evil always exists as well as good..."
"The same as there is light and dark, day and night right?" Joshia asked innocently.
"Yes Joshia, exactly.. very good, you two are catching on quickly!" Arden said smiling at both boys. "Now, when they sealed the evil away, many of their people died. To keep their blood-line alive, they mingled with elves, and men to reproduce. Their numbers were very few now, however, and even today the number of people with the Kaya blood-line are rare. In my travels I have met only a handful. You should also both know, that the Kaya.. are.. well always attracted to each other." Arden said watching the boys faces very closely. "You see their are few of us around, and we have a natural attraction to each other when we find one another.. This grows awkward because the traits of the Kaya are not dominant in all people who possess them and thus it shows only in some while not in others. Your father for example Jarin is descended of the bloodline, but it is so recessed in him, that none, or save few but myself would see it in him. Likely not even yourselves. The dominance also comes out most in males, and this is what presents the problem since we find ourselves attracted to one another and find it easier to love one another than others. Though neither of you probably know of the other's feelings, you both have feelings for each other do you not? As well as for me.." Arden asked already knowing the answer and having it confirmed when th two boys hung their heads. "Now then, lift your heads and look me in the eyes." Arden said sternly and the boys reluctantly did as they were told.
"I'm sorry Arden.. it's true," Jarin blurted near tears. "Please don't send me away!"
"Jarin, what you feel, is for both you and Joshia, perfectly natural. Although it pains me slightly to admit it because of my usual hiding of my feelings, I feel the same towards you. The Kayukhana are fabled for their bisexuality, and it's not something either of you caused, it's what is inside of you and is as much a part of you as your arms and legs."
"You feel the same for us?" Joshia asked softly.
"Yes I do," said Arden.
"Quite well then.." Derek said speaking for the first time. "Looks like you've gathered yourself a harum of fun for your journey huh?"
Arden shot him a look that silenced him immediately. "These boys were placed in my path for an important reason that I wouldn't expect you to understand. There is much evil brooding in the lands to the north and west." Arden said in a calm tone. "We travel to Cragen mountain.. that is where I was headed with Rafiar when he was killed and it has been my aim to continue on to it once I found what I was looking for."
"You mean you've been looking for us?" Jarin asked.
"Yes Jarin, you and Joshia.."
"What about the Wigami?" Joshia jumped in.
"What of him?" asked Arden.
"Well the Kaya were nearly wiped out and passed their bloodline down through certain humans and elves or whatever, but what happened to the Wigami? Did he die?" Jarin asked excitedly watching the smile spread across Arden's face knowing he had asked a good question.
"You two catch on too quick!" Arden laughed. "The Wigami's power had been weakened and he tool ill shortly afterwards and died." Arden answered
"He had children though right?" Joshia asked.
"What makes you say that?" Arden replied to their question with a question. He enjoyed dancing around the truth, making the boys work to learn and discover the past.
"Well.." Jarin began. "You are more than just Kaya Arden.. You've got some kind of extra power around you so we figured it was probably something to do with the Wigami!" Jarin finished off smiling widely knowing he was right.
"Yes I am descended of the Wigami.. most likely one of the last, possibly even the last." Arden answered. "But to continue to talk of this tonight would bring more darkeness to the house. It is time for rest boys." Arden said.
"But Arden, we've only just begun!! We still have to learn more about the Wigami, and using our sheen, and we want to hear about all of your adventures, and your life, and everything about you, and we have to tell you about us!" Jarin said jumping to his feet and whirling around excitedly sending Joshia rolling with laughter.
"We will have much time to talk of these things later boys.. the journey to Cragen is long and hard! We will travel through forests larger than this where dangerous things live, we will travel over mountains and rivers... it's a long trip. Plus I'm tired! I fought in a battle today!" Arden said laughing and the boys joined in.
"I will leave the three of you to make whatever sleeping arrangements you like. In the morrow I will prepare a breakfast for you all and get supplies to hasten you on your way." Derek said smiling. "Thanks for the tale Arden.. it's been awhile since I heard such a tale and you told it as well as Rafiar would have. Goodnight Arden, Jerin, and Joshia" he said nodding to each of the three as he said his name. Derek then left and the three of the gathered a pile of blankets near the fireplace to lay on. Arden layed down first and Jarin layed down quickly next to him resting his head on Ardens broad chest. Joshia followed the exampled and did the same resting his head down with a yawn.
"Arden?" Jarin said sleepily.
"Yes Jarin.." Arden said tenderly enjoying the closeness that he rarely had with anyone.
"Will you tell us more about the Wigami and about who Rafiar is tomorrow?" asked Jarin.
"Yes Jarin, I'll tell you of those two things if that's what you like.." Arden replied softly smoothing the boys hair from his face. "Goodnight boys.."
"Goodnight Arden.. and thank you." The boys said together.