Sword of Aendil
by Jason Finigan
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. This story may contain scenes which involve sexual situations between young males. If this type of material is offensive to you, or it is not legal for you to be reading this type of material, please do not read any further. This story is copyright © 2007 by Jason Finigan, all rights reserved. Please do not copy this story for distribution or post on any online server without the author's permission. Please send all your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the last chapter:
Running up the stairs, I headed for my room. The door to my parents' room was closed, and although I could not hear them, I knew they were in there. With all the noise I was making, there couldn't have been any doubt in their minds that I had come up stairs, but still they made no attempt to see me. I gathered as much clothing as I could and put it into a small pack that I kept for when my father and I went on a journey to some of the other towns. This was the first time I would be leaving home, other than to go to the market, without my father.
Satisfied that I had everything I needed, I left my room, and knocked on my parents' door. There was no answer from within. Deciding that they must have fallen asleep, I bid them a good night, then ran back down the stairs where I could see that Weiss had already gathered his things and the druid Dinendal was standing by the door, his hand on the handle, ready to open it.
"Ready?" Dinendal asked.
"No, but we might as well get on with it," I replied.
"It is for the best," Dinendal said, then opened the door and motioned us outside. Before leaving, I took one last look at the house I grew up in. I promised myself then and there that I would return one day soon, and that I would be with my parents again with Weiss by my side, as he had always been, these past two years.
Closing the door, I left the house, catching up with Dinendal and Weiss who were waiting for me on the road that would take us to Pelianor, and me to my destiny.
It was eerie with the three of us walking along the winding road. The night sky was nearly pitch black; the moon shining only when the dark clouds that had gathered in the sky blew by. Weiss and I had barely spoken to each other since leaving my parents' home. Dinendal himself was walking ahead of us, not looking back, as if he was certain we would follow him anywhere.
Not much was known of Dinendal, at least not that I had heard. Weiss also didn't seem to recognize him, nor his claim to being the last of the Druids. In fact, it was that single statement that had been occupying my thoughts for the past half hour. If he was the last of the Druids, what happened to them? Where did they go? There were so many questions that had been left answered.
Several times I had attempted to converse with the druid, with very little success. He acknowledged my presence, but otherwise paid us no mind. Weiss was not much help either. Normally the talkative one during our time together, now he seemed withdrawn somehow. I suddenly realized that besides not talking to me, he had also hardly even looked at me.
"Weiss, come on. Talk to me," I said quietly to him, hoping to have a private conversation with him, without Dinendal eaves dropping on us.
"What is their to talk about, Taey?"
"Anything! Something!" I said, waving my arms about in frustration. His tone was cold, almost emotionless. This wasn't the Weiss that I knew.
"I've just been doing some thinking, Taey."
"Well, you're way too quiet. You're usually the one talking my ear off, and now you've barely even spoken a few words to me. You're my best friend."
"I know. I'm sorry, Taey. We really didn't have much time for ourselves since we've left, and I was hoping to talk to you alone tonight."
"About what?" I asked him.
"Something I need to know, but that I don't want others knowing about."
"Weiss. We've been friends for the last two years. You could have talked to me about anything for a long time."
"I know, Taey," Weiss said, sheepishly smiling at me, before looking ahead at Dinendal. "You know, in the past two years, we've become really close."
"You're like a brother to me, Weiss," I told him.
"Considering all I've had is my mother, that means a lot to me, Taey. But what I want to talk to you about, I can't, in front of him," Weiss said, nodding in the druid's direction.
"I understand, Weiss. There is no rush. Soon we'll be at Pelianor, and we can talk all we want, there. I promise."
"Thanks Taey. And you know, we'd better hurry if we're going to catch up to Dinendal," he pointed out, noticing that we had fallen behind him even further.
"Come on, let's hurry. Maybe we can settle down for a bit. It's well past the time I usually go to bed, and I do not know how much further my legs will carry me."
"Pelianor is only the beginning, my friend. If what Dinendal is telling us is true, we'll not be home for some time."
"Of that I have no doubt," I replied. "I just can't believe that things are as bad as he is suggesting."
"I don't trust him, Weiss. I've heard stories about druids like Dinendal. They're not known for completely telling the truth. They oft speak in riddles, and keeping certain information to themselves. A necessity the druids say. Druid games is more like it."
"And what about that creature we saw on the way back from Icelea?" I asked him.
"I don't know what it was, Taey. Maybe it was what Dinendal said it was, but still, I do not trust him, nor should you."
"My mind isn't made up yet. I do know this for certain though. Whatever that thing was tonight, it wasn't friendly."
"You'll get no arguments from me there," Weiss said.
It took us only a few moments to catch up with the druid. By that time we had already reached the far edge of the valley. Fallhaven had long since disappeared into the distance. Not even the faint light from lights within the homes could be seen. The valley in which Fallhaven was settled was surrounded on all sides by trees and thick brush. Long ago, trails had been worn into the ground, marking the many years of passage by man, horse, and wagon.
We were now about to enter the same forest we had left on the way to Fallhaven, only now on the opposite side. We were traveling further inland, towards the heart of Aendil. To the North-East of us were the Dunadeid mountains, just barely visible above the top of the trees. Further East lie Pelianor, our destination.
Only twice before had I seen a dwarf, both times in Icelea where they were trading in the market. Their wares consisted mainly of weapons and tools, hand crafted and of sturdy quality, but not particularly aesthetically pleasing. My father had purchased some tools from dwarfs, commenting on their gruff nature, and sourly attitudes. But they fascinated me nonetheless. While I had not had the opportunity to speak with a dwarf, I found the culture very intriguing.
The same couldn't be said of the elves. I was not intrigued by their presence, rather I was in total awe. To me, like most other humans, their very presence seemed to capture the attention of everyone around them. They were tall, lean, and their faces resembled that of a child's. They had smooth, fair skin, with no sign of any facial hair. Their large eyes were often the colour of ice, and when they stared at you, it was as if they could see right into your very soul. Their movements were graceful, almost proud, and yet, they did not hold themselves above others, and were very cordial and outgoing with the rest of the people of Aendil.
Perhaps it was all that I had experienced with elves that made me so weary of Dinendal. While he was an elf, his demeanor was so far removed from what I was used to. To me, it seemed as though life had beaten the druid down. He was as tall as any elf I'd ever seen, but he seemed to be shouldering a great weight upon himself. His face, which I was certain was once as fair as any elf's, now wore many lines etched upon it, especially along the brow. It was evidence of a troubled past, a past that Dinendal kept to himself.
"We shall rest here," Dinendal suddenly spoke, stopping, just outside the forest.
"Here?" Weiss asked, confused as to why the druid would pick such a spot. "If there is danger, wouldn't it be wiser to seek the shelter of the forest and remain out of sight?"
"The forces at work, thrive on the darkness and shadows. We will be much safer out here than we would be in the forest. When morning comes, we shall make our way through, continuing East to Pelianor."
"You still have not explained to us why we must make the trip to Pelianor," I said.
"No, I have not," Dinendal said simply.
"Do you not think we should know the reason?" Weiss asked, frustration beginning to show on his face.
"I need not explain myself to you young Weiss. I did not ask of you to journey with us. That choice, my young friend, you made for yourself, despite my warnings."
"Unlike some, Druid, I am loyal to my friends, and do not abandon them," Weiss said accusingly. If looks could kill, then Weiss would have died a hundred times over as Dinendal stared at him. His icy glare causing me to flinch back slightly. Although Weiss did not react as I had, the druid's gaze did unnerve him slightly.
"You speak harshly of me, Weiss. I have been patient thus far with you, but now I would have you speak of your prejudice of me."
"Dinendal, I think you know why it is that I am so distrustful of you. You come into Taey's house, barging in and throwing your weight around, ordering his parents to leave and telling us a fantastic tale which I find hard to believe. You have given us no proof, nor any reason to trust you."
"Very well Weiss Jadeseer. Yes, I know who you are, Weiss. Like Taey's, I know of your family history too. It is no coincidence that the two of you met when you did, two years ago. You were meant to meet on that day," Dinendal.
"Not, that's not possible!" Weiss said.
"It is more than possible. It is as I saw it."
"Saw it, how?" I asked him.
"In the Dunadeid mountains there lies a lake. A lake like none other on this world. It has existed long before there was man. Only the elves know of it's existence, though they do all they can to prevent anyone from going there. Since the protections were put in place, no one has been there in the last few millenia. That is, until I ventured there several years ago."
"What makes the Dunadeid mountains so special? What is it about this lake that made the elves go through such drastic measures to ensure people did not go there?" I asked him.
"The lake, Taey, is called Dae Linae, which translated in the common tongue, literally means Shadow Lake. It is the one place in Aendil where this world and the world of the dead meet, and it is there that one is able to speak with the shades of those who came before."
"You mean you can talk with the dead?" I asked.
"Essentially, Taey, though they are much more than ghosts, as you would call them."
"If that is the one place where one can speak with the dead, then why have the elves protected it so?"
"For the simple reason that the person who dares to summon the shades to speak with them, risks their sanity, their life, and even their soul in doing so. It is no light thing to summon a shade. Coming face to face with one has driven some insane, and some have not returned at all. The landscape is littered with the bones of those who tried, and failed."
"Then why did you go in the first place?" Weiss asked.
"To speak with Aerandir."
"The first of the druids," I said.
"Precisely. It was from his shade that I learned of what is to come, of what must be, and what I must do. I learned from him about the two of you, of Serin's re-emergence, and of his followers. I was told to seek you out, and to ensure that the two of you met. And this I have done. I have fulfilled all but one task I was given by Aerandir that day. He told me that when the time was right, I was to bring you, Taey to Pelianor and there prepare you for what was to come."
"You were told to make sure that Weiss and I met?" I asked. "But that was just a chance encounter. I was just resting on the road when he came by."
"It is true, the events did seem to appear spontaneous, but I do assure you that had I not intervened on key events, the two of you possibly would never have met. I did what I had to, in order that you did."
"Just what did you do, Dinendal?" I asked, now getting angry that someone could so casually just admit that they made sure certain things happened, all so that a desired outcome would occur. I was feeling manipulated and used. It was not a feeling I was particularly enjoying at the moment.
"Taey, I have told you that you are a distant relative of the first king of Aendil. As a druid, I have studied the past, and I have researched greatly the events that took place up to now. I know your entire family tree, as was required of me by the shade of Aerandir. I know also that Serin also seeks you out, but does not have the knowledge that I do, and so is at a disadvantage. His Wraiths however, have been getting closer and closer, and had you not had the wisdom to hide when you did, I would say that Serin would have won, and Aendil would be lost.
"I have looked into Weiss' past as well, although not as extensively. It was more important to learn who he was, and ensure the two of you met. I befriended his mother, and asked that she keep her knowledge of me a secret. It was she who had sent Weiss out on that day, and it was because of that the two of you met."
"How can you so calmly sit there and admit that you played with our lives, druid?" Weiss said standing up, his voice rising in anger.
"I do what I must, Weiss. All that I have done, I have done to protect the kingdom of Aendil. I should think that would you be in my place you would do the same as I."
"It is immoral to dictate the life a person leads," Weiss said, still glaring at Dinendal.
"Morality was not a factor in my decisions, Weiss. You will find that there will come a time when you must choose between your morals, and doing what you know you must. I was faced with just such a choice. I do not seek forgiveness from you, or from anyone else for my actions. They may not be considered moral by your standards Weiss, but I did what I did because I had no other choice."
"You spoke earlier about the shade of Aerandir and what he showed you. What is it that they showed you of what is to come Dinendal?" I asked.
"That I do not know, Taey. I was not shown this. That is why when we reach Pelianor, I must return to Dae Linae. There are things I must know. Serin has grown powerful in the years that have passed. The existence of the wraiths proves his power is beyond anything I have encountered before. I fear he plans to conquer Aendil, and if he is not stopped, all of Aendil will soon become a dead wasteland."
"I still do not see how it is I who only has the means to put an end to Serin," I said.
"Neither do I, Taey. But we will find out soon enough. For now, we must rest. Morning will come shortly, and we still have a long journey ahead of us," Dinendal said, sitting up against the trunk of a tree, staring at Weiss and me.
"I doubt we will get much sleep tonight out here," Weiss mumbled. I kept my comments to myself, my mind racing with the information that Dinendal had given us. Despite all that he said, the feeling that he had still not shared everything with us was in the back of my mind. I still didn't trust him, but neither did I think he would put us in harm's way if he could avoid it. Placing my bag against the side of a tree, I lay down upon it, looking up at the night sky, still covered by thick clouds which now completely blocked out the moonlight.
Looking over at Weiss, I could see that he had placed his bag up against the same tree as I had, and was now lying down on it, occasionally looking over at the druid, who's eyes seemed to have glazed over. What disturbed me was that he almost appeared to be sleeping, and yet I knew he was aware of everything around him.
I resolved myself to getting as much sleep as I could. While I had never been to Pelianor, I knew that it was a long enough journey which required as much rest as we could get. Closing my eyes, my last thoughts before I slipped into sleep's embrace, was that of my home, of my family, and finally of Weiss, who I silently thanked for not leaving me when he had the chance.
* * *
Dinendal was the first to awaken, if he had slept at all. I felt a gentle hand shake me slightly, and a voice telling me that it was time to get going. Opening my eyes, I saw the figure of the druid leaning over Weiss, and shaking him awake. I felt stiff, and sore. My body not used to sleeping outdoors like I had the night before. The bones in my legs protested as I slowly gathered myself up, getting onto my feet.
"God, I feel like I slept on a rock," Weiss complained, trying to work out the kinks in his back by stretching. From the expression on his face, I surmised that he was only partially successful. I was no better off myself. Although the ground was soft and my bag did provide some support, I was not used to sleeping outdoors.
"I would advise eating quickly my friends, for we still have a long way to travel before reaching Pelianor," Dinendal said.
Reaching into his bag, Weiss rummaged around the contents for the food that he had taken with him. Finding some bread, and a couple of apples, he took them out, and threw one to me. The bread was wrapped up in a towel to protect it, and keep it from going stale. Placing it on the ground, Weiss unwrapped it, broke off a piece and handed it to me. I had already begun to eat my apple, and finished it off before starting on the bread.
"Oh what I would give for some meat right about now," I said.
"We both would, Taey." Weiss replied. "Perhaps we might get a chance to do some hunting later on before lunch."
"That would be heavenly. I could go for a nice tender rabbit right about now."
"I would suggest you two stop talking about food, and finish what you are eating. There will be plenty to eat later on, I assure you."
"What about these wraiths, Dinendal?" I asked him.
"They will not come out again until dark, and I plan to be at Pelianor long before then. The more we dawdle however, the longer it will take to get there, and increase the risks of being seen."
"Then let's go," I said, picking up my bag, and slinging it over my shoulder. "I, for one, will be glad when we reach Pelianor. Another night of sleeping on the hard ground and my back will be done for."
"I'm afraid that many more nights such as last will be in store for all of us, young Taey. Pelianor is only but the first stop in what I suspect to be a long journey. You'd best get used to it as best you can."
"Great, you just had to remind us of that, didn't you?" Weiss said.
"Someone has to, Weiss," Dinendal said, smiling wickedly at him. With that, he turned towards the forest, and walked inside. Again, not stopping to see if Weiss and I followed, but simply continuing forward.
Shrugging my shoulders and looking at Weiss, I followed after the druid, catching up to him in short order, with Weiss walking beside me, as he always has.
"Dinendal, tell me a little about the druids of Adreanor," I asked.
"What would you have me tell?"
"After Serin was defeated the first time, what happened to the order? You said you are the last of the druids, but I don't understand how that could be."
"It is a long story, Taey, but I will tell it to you. It will at least help pass the time away while we travel," he commented, looking at me with a wry grin on his face.
"I do not know what happened immediately following the battle of Adreanor, aside from what I have told you of Teiren, the first king of Aendil. I do know that shortly afterwards, humans began to fill the halls of Adreanor. Where once there was only Teiren, now their were dozens. Some of whom were ardent students, while others opted to tend the keep, either maintaining its defenses, or running errands for other druids. For the most part, they co-existed with the druids peacefully, with only minor disagreements cropping up over the years.
"I suspect that Teiren had a hand in maintaining discipline among the humans, using his status as king, and hero to great effect. Eventually, the humans integrated into the order, no longer requiring Teiren's direct supervision over them. Several humans had also become very highly regarded in the druid council, and a few had even joined the governing body.
"But prejudice still existed among the races of the land, and more often than not, it was teams of human and elf druids who were sent out to quell any disagreements. As had happened in the past, many of those arguments centered around land, and property, and it was mostly the humans who were the cause of it all.
"I know you do not like to hear of your kind as such, Taey, however, even you cannot deny human nature, and it's thirst for more of whatever it can lay it's hands on. For the most part, the rulers of Aendil have kept the peace, and done what they can to punish those who try to take more than they have earned, or have a right to. With the help of the druids, they have been mostly successful.
"As you know, there has been no major conflict between the races, or amongst them since the battle of Adreanor."
"But you still have yet to answer my question," I said, growing impatient.
"That is another trait that humans seem to lack, and it is something you would do well to learn, young Taey, patience. The lack of patience is what makes the human race so dangerous. They act, rather than think. Do not fall into that trap, for it will be your undoing if you do."
"I will keep it in mind, Dinendal," I said. How he could harbor such prejudice against humans was beyond me. Almost everything he said, elevated the elves, and other races, while diminishing the accomplishments his people had made over the years.
"You need to learn also to not think so loudly Taey," Dinendal said, stopping suddenly. "I have a lot of respect for humans, and what they have accomplished, despite their faults. You would know that before the wraiths decimated the royal family, I was friend and mentor to the king himself. For many years I have worked with humans, studied with them, and learned all I could of them. I even owe a few of them my life. Do not think me prejudiced for speaking the truth as it is. The truth may seldom be pleasant, but it cannot be changed either."
"Forgive me, Dinendal. I did not mean to insult, but you cannot deny that you have not presented humans in the kindest light."
"And nor shall I if it be the case, young Taey. I would do the same of any race, including the elves."
"And have the elves ever done things in their past which they would rather not acknowledge?" I aksed.
"Oh yes, Taey. They have indeed. The elves have been on this world far longer than man has, and in our history, there are events which we are not particularly proud of, and even though we are taught it in order to prevent its happening again, we carry within us the shame of our ancestors. Like humans, we grow, we learn, and we make mistakes. With age comes wisdom, and with wisdom we can make things right."
"You sound as if the elves are still atoning for something they did a long time ago," I said.
"We are. But I will not go into that with you now. I will, however, tell you of what happened to the druids, and why I am now the only one left."
"Thank you. And I apologize if I have offended you in any way," I said sincerely.
"You have not offended me, Taey. It is a common reaction with anyone who hears the truth about their own history. I personally think that humans may end up faring far better than we elves will. We are a long lived species, and we can be quite stubborn."
"Of that we are in agreement," I said, smiling at him for the first time.
"Before you two go on anymore about elves and humans, and the fate of the druids. Do you think we could rest for a while. We have been traveling for hours, and I am getting hungry."
"Of course, Weiss," Dinendal said, laughing. "And we may as well hunt for something to eat rather than raiding your bread again."
"Hey, it's not my bread. I took this from Taey's house," Weiss said, sitting down and opening up his bag, taking out the remainder of the loaf of bread.
"Well, it soon won't be any longer with the way you are eating it," I told him jokingly. "I suppose I had better go catch us something to eat."
"Now wait just one minute, Taey," Weiss said, putting down the bread, and getting back up onto his feet. "We both know that I am the better hunter of the two of us, so if we want to have any chance of eating sometime today, I will be the one to go."
"If you insist," I said, smiling at him, and handing him the bow that I had brought with me, as well as my quiver."
"You did it to me again," he groaned, reluctantly accepting the bow and quiver.
"Yep, but you fall for it every time, Weiss."
"You just be glad we're friends, or I might just leave you here to fend for yourself," Weiss grumbled.
"Not a chance. We're too close for that to happen," I said.
"I won't be long. Don't go anywhere," Weiss said, turning off the path and into the woods.
"Don't plan on it," I said, sitting down.
"Do you wish for me to continue while we wait?" Dinendal asked.
"No, we will wait until he comes back. He needs to hear this as well. Instead, tell me about yourself. Although I have heard of the druids, you are, up until recently, unknown to me." I said.
"There is not much to tell, I'm afraid. Like you, I was born by two loving parents who raised me well. When I had come of age, they sent me to Adreanor to study with the druids, as most elves do when they come of age. Most seldom stay, and are only there long enough to learn what they need to be accomplished in their chosen profession. For some, it was as metal smiths, for others, it was as soldiers, and for a few, it was as scholars.
"Only a handful, like myself, stayed on to train as druids. It was a decision my parents did not agree with, as it was their hope that I would one day return to carry on my father's work. He is a blacksmith, of some renown. For many years, he and his father before him have provided weapons and armor for the royal family. His skill was unmatched, and presented them with the finest works of any in the land.
"Because of his accomplishments, he was held in high regard by the royal court, and given privileges that most common folk only dreamed of having. Keep in mind, young Taey, that I do not speak of the Aendil kingdom, but rather of the elf king.
"The elves have their own separate kingdom, which lies in the forests and lands to the East. Most humans have never ventured there, and the castle's location is a closely guarded secret. Only the druids were privy to its whereabouts.
"Although the Elf King rules the elves, and the lands they occupy, the Elven Kingdom, and the kingdom of Aendil coexist harmoniously, often trading goods through special carriers. All the couriers were druids."
"But if you are the last of the druids..." I said, trailing off.
"Then yes, as you have guessed, trading between the elvish kingdom and the kingdom of Aendil has ceased. Relations have become strained, and there is little communication between the two, as of late, especially now that the royal family of Aendil is gone. You are all that is left now, Taey. The only hope for the people of Aendil, and consequently, of the elvish kingdom as well."
I allowed what Dinendal had just said to sink in, and I was beginning to see just what could happen if the kingdom of Aendil were to fall. It would mean the end of everything as I knew it, chaos beyond reckoning. Against the armies that Serin most surely commanded, the armies of both the elves and humans would be no match.
Cut off the lions head, and the body will die. I had been taught this by the scholars in Icelea, but never before had I seen it's significance until now. I began to see clearly that the lion's head was the royal family of Aendil, and soon after, the kingdom of Aendil will fall to Serin's might, blanketing the lands in darkness.
"I see you are now beginning to see the importance of what I am telling you," Dinendal said, staring at me.
"I am. But if I am the only one left who can stop this, I do not know how, nor do I see how I alone can stop Serin."
"As I have said, I plan to visit the shades once more. I will find the answers we seek at Dae Linae. I must go alone, for it would be too dangerous for any to join me."
'If the danger is as great as you say, how then do you stand a chance on your own?" I asked him.
"Serin isn't the only druid who has studied the ancient magics," Dinendal admitted.
"You? But that means you could very well become another Serin," I said. "If a power as great as magic could corrupt a druid such as Serin, what is to stop it from corrupting you as well?"
"It is true, that possibility does exist, as it exists in all of us. We keep hidden from both our selves and others the darker part of our being, but it is there nonetheless. It's like a caged animal that is always seeking to be free, and only our morals and beliefs keep it at bay. I am no different than anyone else. I am different from Serin in one way, however. I do not seek power for the sake of having power. I do what I must, but only because I must, and not because of my wants. Serin allowed his greed to dictate his actions, and as a result, was corrupted by the very power he sought for himself."
"And you still believe that I alone am capable of ridding the kingdom of Aendil of Serin's evil for good?"
"I do. I believe what the shades have shown me."
"Then after we have eaten, we will make our way to Pelianor as quickly as we can.At least there we will have a decent bed to sleep in."
I think that now Taey has realized that the Druid is at least telling the truth as far as he goes. He may still be holding things back, but he is not lying. I certainly hope they succeed. This story is very intriguing and fascinating. I am going to wait for the next chapter, but not very patiently.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher