Saturday, August 9, 2014

Who's ready for a sneak peek?

It has taken me 2 years to write about 95% of my novel. Why 95%? In two years you should have it done right!? Wellllll probably. My book started off as a fantasy novel... but then I realized it was so much easier if I had just developed my own world and put some real "umph" into it. So then it evolved into an epic fantasy. Muuuuccchhh longer, much more detailed. And now I'm editing. While I gave my first quick edit, I noticed that I might need two more chapters on this book. So that is why 95% done. Who knows a literary agent or an editor might slice off 20,000 words rendering those two chapters useless, but hey if I've made it that far, I'm counting it as a win.

So what about this sneak peek you say? Sure I'll give it to ya. I don't mind. I also welcome critiques on what you thought was weak or strong; what you liked and what you didn't. I'm all up for constructive criticism. So without further adieu, I'll give you all chapter 1 of AOPI's Fireal.

CHAPTER 1: Little Lhoril

The capitol of Lhoril was bustling with excitement and mystery as the week long Unveiling Festival was well under way.  Elves, humans and sprites from all five kingdoms travelled to Lhoril to celebrate the announcement and unveiling of their newest royal. At the south gate three lines formed to pass through to the inner city. Two lines were filled with citizens from the outer regions of Lhoril and guests coming to enjoy themselves, and the other for vendors with their wares. Long lines formed at two of the city’s gates waiting to be cleared for entry.
 “Welcome to Fireal, I do hope you enjoy your time and the presentation today. Was your trip a smooth one?”
The elf driving a cart full of cheese with his wife and two young ones nodded but his wife elbowed him with a frown and shook her head.
“An Orc horde caught us a few miles from Bapersmill. It is a good thing that the king put so many soldiers on the main roads. There is no telling what would have happened had your lot not been there. The king cares about his people and that is why we still came.”
The soldier nodded looking the woman and her husband in the eye.
“It is good that you were able to arrive safely my lady. Rest assured that there will be no Orcs at this festival. The king’s best are here and we intend to protect you all.” He smiled with a curt nod and gave the young elf couple and their children their national flags. After the cart was declared clear the soldier waved them into the city.
The soldier watched them go and stared through the gate for a moment at the vast view before him. Flags and banners hung from every building he could see. People moved in great masses chattering and laughing with one another. The streets and inns were filling to capacity and excitement seemed to run through everyone.
It was a great break from the aftermath that he helped clean up from two weeks ago. Two Orc hordes had to be wiped out along the main road and from the woods behind the castle leaving behind a bloody mess that up until three days ago had been washed away. So far no one in the city walls have ever been attacked, but the hordes were starting to get bold and even charge the gates. They never got very far. The King’s archers took them out quickly. Citizens were told to stay near the main paved roads and in the city as much as they possibly could while the king’s knights were spread thin fighting to contain them. The north gate and the west gate had been sealed off but the East and the south gates would receive the visitors. Training at Palwarth Citadel was quickly gaining new recruits from the poorer towns with promises of rewards for those who kill the most Orcs during their raids.
It was not a lie that they would be rewarded, but what they had in mind and what the king was actually paying were a little different. His left ear had been well decorated and he was rewarded fairly monetarily during his time as a king’s knight. Nice as it was it wasn’t quite what he wanted out of life. There had to be more. As he watched the excitement around him he closed his eyes for a moment and just let the energy soak in and reverberate down to his soul. He opened his eyes and smiled and resisted the urge to sprint away from his post and join the crowd. He looked at the last two flags in his hands and decided that joining in with them for a while as he walked to his next post wouldn’t be a bad idea. He turned and gave the flags to two children who already had a pair, but welcomed the extras.
The soldier jogged over to his superior officer and clapped him heartily on his shoulder. The large man looked at the soldier’s empty hands and frowned, so he tried to give him his best smile and put up his hands in a show of surrender.
“Well now Armog, I believe I am out of flags. I will be going to my next post.” The soldier flashed Armog charming side grin and tried to quickly stride off but was quite unsuccessful in even getting a good two steps in before the large man’s hand clamped down on his shoulder and stopped him.
“You ran out of flags quickly Amrynn, I do hope you aren’t just running off to mingle among the people while you stick us with checking carts and baggage.” Armog gave the Amrynn a wary and suspicious look.
Amrynn’s smile widened and he thought if he didn’t stop smiling like this he might be stuck this way. But he shrugged and fidgeted with a lock of his hair picking a few leaves out of it before brushing it aside.
“Don’t give me that face old friend. Of course, I am not just running off to see all the sights and decorations. Patrols need to be checked on, and I must get to my other post. Navigating through this crowd will take me a while, so I should be off to my duties as soon as possible. Wouldn’t want it reported to the king that I was slacking. I don’t need to be demoted if I am going to put in my bid to stay here after the festival is over.”
Armog frowned and crossed his arms in front of him. His slate gray eyes just didn’t seem to match with his short white blonde hair. He was very muscular and for a human very tall and broad. A few of the soldiers waged that he was only half human and part giant when he was not within earshot. The sun glinted off his thick bracers into Amrynn’s eyes. Amrynn blinked and tried to shift his weight over to one foot and not look like he was trying to run away.
“Amrynn the Citadel chooses who guards the king with a heavy weight. You are a much decorated soldier, but it will not be enough to stay in Fireal. You should wait a few years before you come to the capitol and try to protect the royal family.” Armog took a step forward and looked down at Amrynn warily.
Amrynn still smiled up at him. “Don’t worry about all that Armog, I’m sure to be able to stay! You put me in charge of picking the security detail, and when this festival finishes without any problems and you send in your recommendations it will all be set! Wait. Where are you going?”
Armog had turned and started walking off toward a wagon that seemed to have a driver who did not appreciate the inspection. He waved Amrynn off.
“Didn’t you say you had a post to get to?”
Amrynn waved and he quickly disappeared into the crowd.  As he walked around the streets peering at the grand houses of orange marble with ornate stones and leopardwood, and the quaint homes built of imported cyril wood with ember doors he wished that his mother could have lived this way before she passed away. She had been into festivals like this, and she always dreamed of owning a home like these. These were the closest homes to the outer wall that had escaped all the damage of the Great War. It was a mystery how this city’s outer wall had not been breached. There had been rumors of wizards from the Wizard kingdom that had hidden here and had been enlisted by the king of that time. They say that the wall grew taller and stronger so that none of the demons had passed through any of the gates.
A sweet smell made his stomach growl with hunger and drew him quickly from his thoughts. Sweet honey bread, was being filled with the freshest syrups and sat out on the counters to entice customers as they walked by. He turned to look for the vendor and saw a quaint woman dusting them with butter and a fluffy powder.
He started to walk toward the vender but stopped in the middle of the street and looked around.
He felt an uneasy stirring that he just couldn’t quite place where it was coming from. This feeling moved, almost slithered behind him at times making his stomach knot in nervousness. His jaw tensed and he looked around but saw nothing out of the ordinary. He breathed deeply and convinced himself that it was just because he finally landed the opportunity of a lifetime and his nerves were getting the best of him. It was his first time being directly in charge of security around the royal floats for the parade route. If anything were to go wrong in this area he would be largely at fault. He swallowed and took a deep breath attempting to dismiss the feeling and smiled at a pretty elven woman who passed him. It was of no use however as the feeling slid by him again, making him feel cold and his hands clammy with a sudden sweat.
Suddenly something crashed into the back of his legs causing him to stumble. He caught himself and turned to see what could have run into him. A small dirty elfling was on his hands and knees trying to apologize while being pelted with small stones from a group of older elflings who clearly were much better off. Amrynn frowned and stepped between the boy and the rocks. One or two bounced off his shin guards, but the stones quickly stopped.
Amrynn glared down at the group of boys.
“What was his crime? Did he steal from you?”
The boys looked at him in disgust but said nothing defiantly. Amrynn bent down at the waist and leaned forward toward them.
“I suppose then I would need to arrest you all and have you put into the stocks for assault. I’m sure your parents will be very proud to have criminals as children.”
The boys eyes widened and they shook their heads taking a step back and trying to get out of Amrynn’s reach.
“I suggest, that you get going back to your parents. Do not let me catch you treating anyone else this way or I will not be so merciful.”
He stood up and the boys turned and ran down the street that led back to one of the nobleman’s inns.  
“I suppose no matter where in the kingdom you are in there are always some who will pick on the poor.” He made sure they were out of sight before turning picking up the youngling that was still apologizing at his feet.
He smiled and ruffled the child’s short brown hair and attempted to dust off one of the most tattered shirts he’d ever seen.
“Do you have parents, boy?” He asked the boy quietly so that only he heard. At any given time a cleric from the Sun Order would walk around looking for children to house in their many orphanages. The orphanages were nothing more than slave houses. Once a child went in they were indebted to the orphanage for the rest of their lives. Some children were adopted, but it was very rare and many converted to the Sun Order as clerics just to receive their own sort of freedom becoming the very thing they feared most as children.
The boy nodded and fidgeted with some of the tears on his shirt and placed one bare foot on top of the other looking down at the ground.
“My mum and sister work at the Pahri Inn. I was told to go and find people who needed a place to stay. I didn’t know that those boys already had a place. I didn’t cause trouble on purpose. Honest I di’nt. We still ‘ave two rooms left. The owner told Mum that if I get people to fill those rooms that we could get a share of the dinner tonight. Please don’t tell them that I caused trouble. I’ll get a beat’n for sure!”
Amrynn shook his head and smiled.
 “Well, you won’t get any customers with those clothes. You should at least be clean. Come on, I’ll help you.”
He took the boy to a shop that he frequented before he came of age and purchased two shirts, a pair of britches and one pair of sturdy shoes for the boy. The shop keeper smiled as she fussed over the boy’s hair.
 “Well he might be a decent looking lad under all of this dust. Isn’t it kind of you to treat someone to new things? You know I’ve always liked you Amrynn. I don’t see why you aren’t married yet kind hearted as you are. You know my niece came of age two moons ago.”  She wiped the boy’s face with the corner of her apron and the boy wrinkled his nose.
Amrynn blushed and smiled.
 “Thank you Sirah but again no thank you. I am not looking for any lady at this time.”  After a few moments the boy appeared cleaner and presentable. He paid Sirah and handed the boy a coin bag and put two gold aridaex inside and tied it to his belt.
“Go stand at the South gate and let the soldiers know that Amrynn sent you there. Stay out of their way. Most of the merchants will not need your assistance but there are others there who might need a place to stay. If you let them know that you have two rooms available you should find people within the hour to fill those spots. After you are done give these aridaex to your mother. Make sure your mother and sister go buy themselves something pretty and buy some food for you all. Are you hungry?”
The little elfling threw back his shoulders and stood as tall as he could in a grand attempt to look tougher and shook his head no, but his stomach growled loudly and his posture seemed to deflate.
The soldier laughed and put his hand on the elfling’s shoulder and walked with him over to one of the sweet cake carts and purchased two of their freshest and hottest sweet cakes.  After watching the boy attack the bread for a few moments he smiled and patted the boy’s back and walked back down the street.
On his walk he noticed some houses were deliberately blank and undecorated. Their short gardens were cold looking despite the intricate hedge work and lovely flowers blooming. The windows were so dark he assumed some were even painted black. He knew there were many of the traditionalists who would have preferred that this festival never happened. But that was another affair that the King had been tirelessly trying to overcome.
He stopped at a check point and made sure that everyone he had assigned to that spot was in place. Some of them were already at their posts. A few he reprimanded for being late, but other than that everything was going the way it should.
 He put on his gloves and raised his kare-ma. This was an ability that allowed him to walk around crowds almost invisibly. Though it did not render the person invisible, it was more like a mental block. Other beings didn’t really quite see a person there, it was more like something moving out of the corner of their peripheral vision. Some elven mistook seeing these things as seeing the ghosts. It was a talent that only a few elves had mastered to the degree that they seemed almost invisible to the naked eye. To his knowledge it was impossible for humans to do at all. Those who did have it were assigned closer to the castle and others who mastered it were accepted into the assassin’s guild.
He found and ascended the tree that he would be in for the rest of the day. It was a fairly large tree and from it he could see all the other posts in this area that would be on duty for the start of the parade.   Comfortable he leaned back and looked down. Below him an old man napped in the now mid-afternoon sun. The soldier frowned as the old man started to snore loudly causing some passersby to stare for a moment. Slightly annoyed by the attention the man was bringing to his tree and out of personal amusement he contemplated on dropping berries on him to see which ones would land in is open snoring mouth. He decided against the idea knowing it would cause the old man to look up into the tree and cause him further unwanted attention and so instead leaned back on the trunk of the tree watching the parade area fill with the servants of the Prince.
He rather enjoyed watching the preparations come together. It was like watching the start of a masterpiece and though there were large gaps here and there, you could see that something grand would be the result. Prince Iolas was known for his festivals and games and he was said to take great pride in preparing this festival for the revealing of his only niece.
Then he felt it again. That twisting knot of anxiousness, a slight panic and cold despite the heat of the day. He licked his lips and swallowed, breathing in slowly to calm his nerves. He had been having these troubles since he arrived in Fireal since they cleaned the area of the orc hordes. He checked out fine in the infirmary but the doctor who examined him said that he was experiencing high stress and possibly unsettled nerves. He knew he wanted this job to go well, but he couldn’t be that nervous about it could he? After all Armog was right, even if his request was denied this time, the source of the Orc hordes hadn’t been figured out and there was no end to them in sight just yet.
After a few moments the feeling passed and he looked around again finding nothing out of place. His eyes followed a crowd that started singing, facing the tower that held the Royal Nursery. The new Princess would be getting ready there and soon would be expected to throw out her token to her people.
“I do not want to go! I do not like this dress mommy! I feel like a strawberry tart!” Isis exclaimed, as she shot an argumentative look at her mother Princess Shi’Larra. Shi’Larra smiled at her daughter trying to hold back a laugh. Princess Shi’Larra was one of the oldest unwed princesses in the five kingdoms. Standing at an average elven height for female, large almond green eyes with flecks of the shiniest silver, and long black hair hung down to her waist in lazy curls. She tried not to let her full lips betray the stern look she was trying to give her daughter but Shi’Larra could tell that she was failing miserably as Isis crossed her arms and gave a full lipped pout. Isis stamped a bare foot on the floor and her amber eyes bore holes into her mother as Shi’Larra attempted to look out the window to stop her laugh. Isis was dressed in the customary colors for a child being presented at the beginning of the fall harvest moons. A knee length silk strawberry colored dress with the family crest embroidered in the pattern toward the bottom of the skirt with a light brown lace at the hem. Around the waist wrapped a tapered light brown silk sash and where it met at the hip a diamond brooch sat in the shape of a heart. Shi’Larra stole a glance at her daughter beautiful before her and smiled. Most humans would see her as perhaps a ten to twelve year old child, but as an elven child she was still seen as barely old enough for their lessons. Isis gave her a very angry look and finally the laugh Shi’Larra had been trying to hold in escaped and she blushed as Isis’ eyes narrowed in resentment for having to dress up.
“You must go Isis.” Shi’Larra chuckled, “If I had to go many moons ago and be presented before the people at your age, you must get presented too. Besides my dear, this is your first parade. The kingdom wants to see its newest princess.”
Isis gave a defeated sigh and looked out the window at all the city decorations. From where she stood she had a perfect view of the eastern city gate and what seemed to be an endless river of people streaming through it into the city. A large section of the outer courtyard of the castle grounds had been sectioned off and filled with people for a while now facing the open window. They were so loud that it almost seemed as if Isis were standing on the grounds with them.
“Mommy? Why do those people stand there? There is nothing that they can see.”
Shi’Larra laughed and stated with a grin
 “They are waiting on you to wave for them, they want to know that you are here, and that you care about them enough to give them first peeks at you.”
 Shi’Larra handed Isis a long bright blue scarf.
“Reveal nothing but your hand. If you feel a tug like someone is pulling at the scarf simply let it go. Do not wind it around your wrist or fingers. You are not the only elves who are mages and not everyone comes because they like us.”
  It was a well-known story that before the king’s grandfather was born that there had been some wizards known to pull so hard on the scarves that the child would be pulled from the window and fall to their death. In the present day, a practice of such a sort was not common at all, but it didn’t mean that some didn’t try.
Shi’Larra saw Isis pale and her eyes grow wide, and she smiled kindly at her daughter.
“But I know that my charms are strong enough. We can veil you if you like and let you wave to your people. You will be able to see perfectly but none will be able to see your face.” Isis nodded and gladly accepted the veil and tiptoed over to the window. She pushed the shutters out and the crowd almost seemed to hold its breath as they saw them open. Isis crouched a little then stood up on tiptoe and flung the scarf out and made it sway two and fro in the breeze. The crowd erupted into cheers and shouts of excitement as the scarf curled and waved, rippling back and forth and then she let it go. She watched it float down where it landed in the crowd and they fought over the pieces. Shi’Larra gave Isis a look of disappointment knowing Isis dropped the scarf on purpose.
 “Well I can’t just wave all day mommy, we have to get ready.” Isis looked again through the window at the crowd that had started to chant.
“Hail the new Princess Isis of Lhoril!” The crowd was waving white and blue flags with the Lhoril crest. A Griffin who’s leg was caught by a wyvern’s tail in flight working together to hold the banner that held the family name. Shi’Larra pulled Isis from the window and shut the shutters, slipped off the veil and kissed her forehead and Isis skipped back over to her nursemaid. Shi’Larra noticed that the crowds of Fireal had to be double the size of her own revealing. It was the most people that had been in the city since her uncle Iolas’ birth over six decades ago and almost as much laughter and song. As her nursemaid slipped on and buttoned up her last high boot and placed the fall wreath with ribbons upon her dark curls, Isis’ small pointed ears twitched with impatience.
“May I go now mother? We still have a while before we march out. Please?”
Isis let the last word squeak and drag out knowing how it made her mother’s ears perk and twitch with sensitivity. Predictably Shi’Larra’s ears twitched in slight pain and she rolled her eyes at the girl and waved her off, watching her scamper into the playroom where greetings and giggles sounded. As Shi’Larra sat in her great grandmother’s rocking chair she listened to the giggles and laughter. She looked to Isis’ nursemaid, who looked back at her with a smile.
“Remember those days Marta? When it used to be us?”
The nursemaid smiled and replied, “No Princess, I believe we are missing the clanging of armor where the guards outside were chasing us back in here, due to some “plan” to help you sneak into the kitchen to get the cooks best herbs to help with your magic, and Kedar running in behind us yelling how he knew it would get us into trouble.”
Shi’Larra giggled at the thoughts still listening to the small voices in the other room. The voices belonged to a circle of friends that Isis had made. It was tradition that if the servants had children within twelve moons of each other that they were to grow up together with the prince or princess of that year. The year that Isis was born there were four other elflings that were born within that cycle. The eldest was Torlen, the son of the Castle Stable master. Strong like his father and more than likely going to be just as tall by the time he reaches adulthood. He was six moons older than Isis and a quiet soft spoken type unless someone was to try to buck up to the bunch, and then suddenly he would make his presence known. There was Nadia a cute little Halfling. Her father is the current castle head chef and her mother a Wood sprite. Wood sprites are not all the best at child care, so she lives with her father here in the castle. She has a lovely voice and soft but spunky demeanor and is a child prodigy of Flora and Fauna. She was four moons older than Isis. A wiry and spry child named Elydir and his bulky twin brother Braern were next by age. Braern was a stocky boy with shocks of unruly brown hair and violet eyes. He was good with his hands and often made little trinkets out of wood for Isis as his father would not let him forge metals yet. His twin Elydir’s eyes like his brother were also a bright violet, but his vision was weak for an elf. It still surpassed that of humans but he still wore large round spectacles that were much too big for his face. However his quickness in potions making and spells were a rival only to Isis. He and Isis were good friends, but they argued quickly and often had to be pulled apart so that things around them would not get destroyed. This group of friends would go with Isis to be presented to the kingdom on the platform just before they walk through the parade route.
Isis had run back to the middle of the nursery where the large table had been set up. The table top had a large map inlayed on it and covered by tempered glass. On top of it little army pieces were marching in place.
“Hurry up Isis, we’ve had to wait so long, Torlen’s army has started to set up camp.” He pointed over to Torlen’s army which had indeed put up a few tents and started campfires. She frowned.
“Hush Elidyr, you are just jealous that Nadia and I have your army separated and pinned in.”
Elidyr rolled his eyes and pointed at his brother’s troops. A group of spies had been making their way into Isis’ territory for two turns and Isis had failed to stop them from entering.
Isis smiled and whispered to her troops and as the spies went further into her territory they were surrounded and killed. She looked up at Braern who frowned and smiled putting her finger to her lips.
“I can’t allow them to walk off with my secrets now could I? But maybe you could give me a few of yours?” Braern looked down and saw that a troop that he had marching toward Torlen’s camp were missing and had now appeared in Isis’ jail.
“No fair Isis!”
It was Nadia’s move and Elidyr looked slightly nervous. Suddenly his troops started dying after mysterious flowers started springing up all over his country.
“Nadia! Come on! What on The One’s creation could possibly spread into my kingdom like that in one turn?” Elidyr demanded, looking at his cards and referencing a book.
“None of them.” Nadia said sweetly and held up a card. “I flipped this card 3 turns ago. 4 turns is a full moon, when the flowers bloom. They have been spreading through your country for 3 turns and almost spread completely, I’m so happy for my little Voraccili Megthromopicillia plant. It didn’t let me down. Are you impressed Torlen my sweet pumpkin flower?”
“Nadia, I don’t even know what you said. I have no clue what a Vora Mega Moth is.” Torlen stared at her blushing.
“Don’t call me pumpkin flower, it sounds too frilly.”
It was no hidden fact that Nadia was head over heels for Torlen even at such a young age. Isis giggled and Torlen sent his troops in one fell sweep to destroy the rest of Braern’s army. Isis tried to take advantage of Torlen’s main army being out of the country and tried to seize his capitol, but was ambushed and her army destroyed whilst Nadia captured her city.
“Now Torlen, my sweet, all you have to do is marry me and we would rule all the 5 kingdoms together.” She waved a card with two rings on them which ended the game with neither side losing, but Nadia winning the majority. Torlen blushed again.
Elidyr shook his head rattling his glasses a little.
“Don’t do it Torlen! You’ll get some sort of plant warts and you’ll grow a tentacle out of your back. You’ll be known as the Tentacle king!”
Isis sighed a little and smiled walking over to Nadia’s side.
“Oh come on, Torlen, what is ONE tentacle. Look at Elidyr’s long arms. They are practically long enough to be tentacles now, and we wouldn’t dream of giving him such a lofty title.”
She stuck her tongue out at him as he crossed his arms in front of his chest to hide their length.
Torlen shook his head.
“Sorry Nadia, I’m not marrying you. Not on this game and not in real life. Our kids might be born plants.”
Torlen’s troop formed a triangular formation plunging right into the heart of Nadia’s troops. Then as her troops tried to surround them his troops spread out to a crescent. After a few moments Nadia’s lines broke and her plants started to die as Torlen placed his card face up. Nadia leaned over and looked at it and saw that he had drawn the card of famine. Her capitol was dry and then burned and Torlen won the game.
“Woooo! Boys win!” Braern and Elidyr cried and clapped Torlen on the back as he stood tall and beamed with pride. Isis and Nadia grinned and congratulated Torlen.
“Our record is still thirty three games better than the boys.” Isis sang to Braern who gave her a frown.
Shi’Larra stood as she heard all the excitement and went into the room with the children clapping her hands together to get their attention. Smiling and looking at the large clock in the corner, she said
“It is time.”
 “Hooray!” shouted the elflings running to the window just as the first horn sounded. A grand shout erupted from the city streets and balloons flew up into the air by the thousands, as they burst white doves flew into the air creating a lovely scene into the setting sun. Just before the sun set was when Isis was to be presented. The nursemaid came with Isis’ Auburn cloak that would cover her from head to toe until it was time for her to be revealed to the people. Her friends helped her as she put her cloak making sure there wasn’t any place where she could be seen. The crowd below started to roar as the clock bells chimed in the square marking half an hour to the presentation. Torlen smiled at her and offered her a comforting pat on the shoulder and Nadia moved in for a tight hug.
“Oh Isis you will do brilliantly as always. You will show them how talented you are with your presentation today. We will not leave you we will be there to help you. Besides, I think you chose a great presentation. No one has done a presentation on “friendship and togetherness” like you have.” Nadia quipped. Elydir took this time to get in a quick joke.
 “Don’t worry Isis, it isn’t just the people of Fireal that are here, it is the people from the neighboring counties and some from the neighboring kingdoms too. I hear your cousins; the Taledra royals are coming to see you also. So I hope you practiced your mage craft. It would be a shame if no one could tell what shape your stars are making.”
Braern cuffed his brother soundly in the back of the head as Elydir swore and threatened to turn his brother into a toad should he do that again, mumbling something about being the smarter and most handsome brother most definitely after that.
Sitting in the carriage outside of the platform that Isis would soon walk up to Shi’Larra gave each child a comforting hug.
 “I will be standing to the side of the platform with the family. I will be closest so that you can look to me for comfort. If you have any doubts, cast them aside now. I have trained you all well, and each of you excels in your craft.  There are none in this kingdom with as much potential.” She smiled at them and pulled out a birch wood box, decorated with the family crest. She opened it and five small pouches, with their initials monogrammed on them. “Your powder pouches. Enough for your entire trip down the streets should you decide to keep up a good show.” She watched as they tied on their pouches and watched Nadia help Isis tie hers on under her robes.
Shi’Larra watched as her daughter and her friends made a slow climb up the platform. She touched the heart diamond on her hip that matched her daughter’s. It glowed for a moment then went back to normal. Isis could see perfectly even though her hood was long and hung over her face. There had to be thousands of elves in the streets anxiously waiting to see her, whispering about her wondering if she would live to the legacy her mother was living. She had hoped her mother hadn’t sensed her fear as she hugged her in the carriage and tried her best now to be brave and calm her breathing. She needed to concentrate if this were going to work like they practiced, and she would show Elydir who was the best mage of them both. She had been planning a special beginning that even he hadn’t seen. She took a deep breath and climbed the last few steps up the platform behind her friends and as they spread out took her place in front. As she stepped to the front of the group and the large sentry to her left blew his horn with all his might so that the sound reverberated around the streets and the crowd hushed.
“The Lhoril Royal family would like to present in astounding tradition. The youngest addition to the family! Born to Princess Shi’Larra in love and grace, we present Princess Isis Lhoril!”
The sentry’s announcement confirmed what most people in the country had already known. Whispers of the word “bastard” floated through the air every once in a while and Isis clenched her fists and decided she had heard enough. Not everyone in the castle was nice to her. Her mother tried her best to shield her from it, but secretly some of the servants were cruel anyway. So now she saw that the people, her people were no different. She would show them what she was capable of. She would show then that her blood was just as rich as her mother’s and that she would be just as qualified. As she mumbled an incantation her hood floated back unassisted her auburn curls showing. The crowd started louder murmurs and could be heard shifting in anticipation of her presentation. She held her eyes closed at first so she could concentrate and didn’t have to look into the faces of those who disapproved of her and she reached into her mage pouch and took a large pinch of the soft powder.
The cloak floated off of her shoulders revealing the rest of her dress and down the steps where it fell in a heap. Isis clapped her hands soundly in front of her and opened her eyes as she looked around the crowd slowly, her ember eyes flicking with a gold fire.
She shouted out, “Targmesh larinthny!” and threw her hands up in the air, nothing but a fine dust leaving her hands. There were a few chuckles in the crowd and a few of her family stirred as if in slight embarrassment. She looked over with a grin to her mother, who smiled back. With her hands still up in the air she looked into all their faces calmly to the crowd with a smirk in her voice almost as low as a whisper, “Tarish mal.”
Suddenly it seemed like the sky above their heads exploded in to a brilliant bluish light and a brisk heat flushed through the audience eventually waning to a cool breeze. Bursting from a silver orb a small milky way of stars blossomed, twisting and turning finally forming into a song bird.
 Nadia knew her cue and she threw up her hands and sung softly, “Mora hordek naru” and suddenly the song bird began to sing a beautiful rendition of ‘Hail Lhoril’, on cue beside Isis on the right and left side Braern and Torlen took pinches of their powder and spread it across their knuckles. They pounded them together and said “Khlek Hurrol!” Their hands folded as if in prayer and with all their might blew across the tips of their fingers. The song bird’s wings began to beat and move, a wind stirred through the crowd bringing low cheers. Snowflakes in the shape of the family crest being blown all over the town from the bird’s wing tips. Elydir raised one hand and commanded to the songbird which Isis was still holding in place with her hands up “Carakus dornl!” and the songbird flew up high climbing the air as if it were an eagle soaring higher and higher, turning only to circle up the tallest tower on Lhoril castle then as soon as it cleared the tallest tower, burst into a series of silver and blue fireworks. Isis and Elydir put their hands down and the friends clasped hands on each side of Isis turned and bowed in respect. Isis smiled and bowed to the crowd.  The crowd erupted in wild cheering and the mages in the tower shot out fireworks of their own in approval, her uncle Iolas sending a starry jester into the sky to dance for her and she laughed and her mother sent great fireworks up of her own behind the jester lighting up the sky.
Isis hugged her friends and ran down to her family where the King and Queen greeted her with a hug. The queen proudly kissed her cheeks and wiped away a tear of pride. Her cousins waved and smiled as they started toward the parade float when a blinding fiery explosion went off in the middle of the street.
Quickly on instinct Shi’Larra put her hands up putting a shield around them. The children grabbed closely to her skirts and made sure that they were well within her barrier and had Isis in their center. The float which was intended to take the royal family through the streets had been decimated into splinters. The Royal family had taken no damage. An old woman and a youngling now stood amidst smoke and fire in the center of the square. The old woman’s hair was bleached gray and her eyes black and unforgiving. She wore a mage’s tunic and she had many potions and powders hanging from her belt. Isis was worried the only other mage who carried around that many powders and potions around her belt was her mother. Isis looked at the King whose jaw was tight, the laughter gone from her Uncle’s lips replaced by a set stare with his hands thrust into his pockets. She looked up to see a stone look in her mother’s face, silver flecks dancing in her eyes. She had never seen her mother look like this before. Who was this woman?
“Who am I?” The old woman suddenly cackled loudly. Isis was shocked this old woman could read her mind.
 “Who am I? Why Shi’Larra I’m surprised you haven’t told your little bastard child who I am.” Shi’Larra flinched at the word “bastard” but recovered quickly and still said nothing to the old woman. The sentries surround her and hundreds of shakri death arrows flew from their wrist bows, but old woman blasted them away effortlessly with a sweep of her left hand causing the arrows to hit the sentries that blocked the royal family. Screams were heard as some bystanders were hit with a few stray death arrows and fell to the ground unmoving.
“Pathetic.” She crooned.
“I am Mordisha—the strongest mage in this area. I was Shi’Larra’s teacher and I knew she would be the death of the throne. Ever since her weak and powerless presentation where I trained her for greatness and she gives her presentation on “love”. How pitiful. Now she brings bastard trash to the throne.”

Mordisha pointed in disgust at Isis. “How dare you bring this smut into the world this pathetic little Lhoril?”


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