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The Sky King

by Jessi Warthen 2 months ago in Fantasy
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Chapter 1

Digital art manipulation by the author, I do not own any copyright to image

There weren't always dragons in the Valley.

The ground began to shudder as if there was an earthquake, the armies stood fast, each watching intently as the killing ground moved between them. Swords still clasped in hands ready to annihilate their enemies as battle cries died on their lips. The old magic had died in this land or so they had been told, what the two armies witnessed should have been impossible.

Ascending from the depths of the ground a structure began to emerge, slowly the soldiers on both sides inched backwards as their ‘fearless’ commanders moved quickly towards the back of their armies, fear etched deeply on their faces. The few soldiers who saw their commanders gave little heed as they quickly turned back to what was being unveiled on the Plains of Tal’Aviv.

Rising out of the ground fully, the ground stopped shaking, the silence that followed was deafening. What lay before them was a gigantic structure with four round pillars, equally distant in a diamond shape with four large creatures spaced evenly between. Each was terrifying to behold for the soldiers had never seen such beasts before. Some had large tusks, others massive horns on their heads and bone spikes down their spine but all were four footed with giant taloned feet. Winged like bats but like no bats they had ever seen, each seeming to roar silently at them; in all directions.

Suddenly a bright orb engulfed the structure, blue and white, glowing and building in brightness, it began to pulse, sending white light shock waves out away from the structure that sent the soldiers on both sides to the ground where to a man they covered their eyes and howled. With the pulses of light came a terrifying sound, unearthly, a screech so high pitched many soldiers had blood dripping from their ears. As suddenly as it began, the light and sound vanished!

It had been near noon when the armies gathered to battle, when the structure rose and the pulsing light vanished… time had changed, it was no longer midday but midnight. No one stayed, the commanders from the rear of their armies barked commands to retreat to their base camps. Not even an adventurous soul remained.

A century later

The Valley of Ol’Vir was a land gripped in civil war a century ago, a land isolated by gigantic mountains on all sides. It was possible to cross them but few would, the passes were treacherous year round and most travelers perished. The Valley of Ol’Vir provided everything the people needed, there was no need to trade with other lands, their only problem was within when factions arose claiming an ancient title known as Sky King, a title not used in centuries. Minor engagements ensued but when the major battle started, the armies marching to finally see who would claim the title of Sky King, on the Plains of Tal’Aviv, the mysterious structure with the gigantic beasts appeared.

Rayim ran as fast as he could through the crowded market in Tangir, dodging hawkers, sellers and those in from the countryside buying their daily or weekly wares.

“Watch it boy!”

Rayim turned, waved with a silly grin and ran right into a stall dumping apples stacked beside it.

“I will tell your father of this!” Jonin angrily spat at Rayim. Grabbing the boy Jonin pushed him back to the ground “Clean it up, now” biting out the words, Jonin loathed this air-headed boy and pitied his father.

“Sir! I am so sorry! But I need…” Rayim caught up by his collar as Jonin pulled his face close to his.

“NOW!” Jonin saw the boy nearly piss himself, nodding approval at his hasty clean up, Jonin walked back to his stand and straightened the rest of his produce.

Rayim spoke not a word, quickly he cleaned up the mess and looked only once when he was finished over at Jonin… not even a nod. Rayim slowly walked away, heart pounding but didn’t run.

As Rayim made his way to the outskirts of the market he began to run again, not needing to dodge many as the roads were not crowded. Once on the outskirts of the town proper, cloak flapping Rayim ran as fast as he could. All the while speaking his mind out loud.

“Just wait, he won’t treat me like boy. Call me boy! Ha, they will all grovel to me! To ME!” Panting heavily, Rayim couldn’t keep his speed but the monologue didn’t stop.

“What say you? Oh we are so sorry we treated you so poorly! You solved the mystery! Praise Rayim!” Waving dramatically in the air to emphasize the praise he fantasized he would receive.

“I shall bow to them, wink and maybe throw rotten apples at them! Ha… well wait, that won’t fit my image, I need to be taken seriously… of course I’ll be taken seriously, after a century and no one, NO ONE but ME figures it out! Ha I can do what I likeeeeee…..” Falling face first… Rayim turned back to see the dip in the road that sent him tumbling. Hoping up, quickly looking around, no one had seen him so Rayim dusted his robes and cloak off. He continued to jog the rest of the way to his destination ruminating out loud the praises and new titles HE might obtain.

At the edge of the wheat field, Rayim was breathing so hard he collapsed next to his best friend in the whole world. Come to think of it, it was his ONLY friend. Gasping, sweating and not able to speak Rayim just sat there.

“Who is chasing you now” Culiver sliced another set of wheat stalks, rolled his shoulders and gazed down at his scrawny childhood friend.

“No… One…” holding up a hand Rayim still catching his breath waved off any help from Culiver “Just need… a rest” sagging his head, Rayim sat there a while longer. After a few minutes Culiver began to gather the wheat into bundles.

“I solved it Culiver, I promise this time it’s real I know the key, I know the answer, all of it!” Rayim rattled out between gasps and deep breaths.

“Okay” Shaking his head internally Culiver knew this life was too harsh for his friend, he was weak, pale and skinny; born to a farmer but could never wield a scythe, let alone a sword. He was a scholar, or so he told Culiver. He knew of scholars, they passed through Tangir on occasion, fancy men in robes with chains around their necks signifying their rank but that was all he knew about them. Culiver knew Rayim desperately wanted to be one of them, but rarely did the Jade Order take in farm boys.

Hoisting the wheat bundle onto his back with one hand, Culiver then reached out with his other hand to help Rayim to his feet.

“I feel it this time” dusting himself off and nodding thanks Rayim followed Culiver back through the wheat field. “Remember the eyes? The colors? Well I was reading in a scroll about the mines in Vantir, the gems they extract there and… if I could get the four I needed…” before he could even finish Culiver grabbed his shoulder roughly.

“No Rayim, no more. You wish a death sentence? I, for one, do not. Speak no more of this” Culiver pushed his friend backwards slightly and kept walking. Every time Rayim thought he had discovered the secret to the mysterious structure on the Plains of Tal’Aviv, both would get into trouble. Culiver knew Rayim’s father would beat him, the man was a raging drunk. Culiver would get a scold from his father and angry talks but he feared for Rayim that one day, his passion to figure out the mystery of that structure would get him killed.

Rayim hung his head, dragging his feet following his beloved best friend. All his life he’d been picked on, by his father because his mother had died in childbed with him, giving his father this pale, weak boy he did not want. The boys and girls at primary school, calling him names, getting beaten up… until one day a new family moved to town. Apparently outsiders, with no family connections in the town were worse than Rayim. Culiver had come to his rescue, beating off the boys who picked on him and beat him up. Those boys had tried to return the favor to Culiver, they never could. Culiver was a born warrior, even as adults it was clear, he had the build, height and warrior physic Rayim had read about in stories. They were as different as rock compared to water, but still… Rayim desperately wanted Culiver to believe him but he had to admit… in the past he had gotten him into trouble over his ridiculous theories.

They reached the barn where Culiver stored the wheat, Rayim still dragging his feet deep in thought.

“Go home before it gets too dark” Culiver nudged him, he hated to cut him off but he had a lot on his mind and didn’t need any trouble Rayim’s crazy ideas might bring. Especially something involving the gems mined at Vantir. Culiver had bad news for Rayim, good for him but bad for his friend… he didn’t know quite yet how to break it to him.

“Okay” Looking up at his friend, trying to put all the seriousness he could into his face and eyes “I know I’ve caused trouble in the past, but I know it means something. Before, it was just silly notions, ideas of grandeur and self importance on my part. I know I’ve said this before but it’s different I promise, and no I don’t plan to steal anything from Vantir but could you listen to me tomorrow? Even if you just pretend to care?” Bottom lip quivering, Rayim was ashamed, he knew he’d messed up in the past, but he desperately needed Culiver’s support now or he would be lost.

Sighing heavily, Culiver turned to his friend putting a gentle hand on his shoulder “I’ve always listened, maybe I didn’t understand all your ideas but I always cared. Tomorrow then” gently pushing his friend away as Culiver watched his face light up!

“Thank you! It’s epic, I promise, it’ll be one for the ages!” Rayim tried to continue but Culiver slugged his shoulder “Ow! That hurt! I said I was going!”

“I didn’t hit you that hard” smiling and shaking his head “You said you were going?” Raising an eyebrow at Rayim.

“Yes, yes! Okay, tomorrow and no backing out! I’ll even help you with the bundles” Rayim grinned knowing full well he could barely lift one.

“No need, the work will be done by noon” Culiver seeing his friend finally walking away quickly turned to go towards the house he and his father shared.

“So we can meet at noon??” Rayim was fast walking away, the sun had dipped low on the mountains, night came early and his father would not be pleased…

“No! Come when you did today” Culiver yelled back and jogged the rest of the way to the house just as his father came out the front door. Climbing up the steps, he turned and waved goodbye to Rayim.

“What’s Rayim up to now” Gabe spoke in a rough tone voice.

“Nothing father, the usual” Culiver went inside to clean up and help his father with dinner.

Gabe watched his sons face and knew something more was going on but decided not to press the issue yet. He turned towards Rayim and watched him till he faded from view. He liked the boy, a bit air-headed and soft but with a genuine heart rarely seen. His son and Rayim were so different, it was a surprise when the two remained friends even after childhood. But looking back inside at his son, Gabe knew why, under the quiet façade of his son was a heart of gold.

After they cleaned up, finished preparing dinner and sat down to eat Gabe asked again “What notions are in that boys head now?” Not looking up from his food, he waited for his son to respond.

Sighing, Culiver was unsure if he should say, he had told his father in the past that Rayim would skip school and hitch a ride into the plains five miles away, he often covered for Rayim but after they both left school Rayim continued to go and this had caused many heated arguments with his father. It had been a year since Rayim’s last idea had landed them both into big trouble, and three years since they had become men capable of minding themselves. Culiver never went with Rayim to the Plains of Tal’Aviv.

“The same as the silver locket he stole?” Gabe spoke, remembering all too well the notion Rayim had that a silver locket would solve the mystery… how he’d thought that up Gabe did not know but both boys had been in on the theft, costing Gabe dearly and Rayim had almost died. He had taken the boy in for a week to let him heal after the beating his father had given him.

“Why does he think he can solve it! Our greatest scholars can’t, or so we are told and Rayim is just a farm boy!” Culiver let his irritation come out and quickly chided himself “Sorry father”

“How did the first man gain the title of Sky King? There had to be a first, maybe it was a farm boy with the will and perseverance to see it through” Gabe took another mouthful of food and chewed slowly, letting his statement sink in.

“Father! You always condemned his foolishness! He’s going to get himself arrested or killed”

“Yes I did, in the past but something has changed. A delegation crossed the Sultean peaks, half died on the passes but the message they brought has every noble in the land scrambling. They claim the outer lands have been ravaged by chimera” Gabe knew how it sounded, myths come to life are hard to accept.

“Impossible!” But Culiver knew his father was a skeptic, highly logical and if he believed this news… the old stories his father would tell him whirled in his head, they were mere myths! Nothing factual!

“Many do not want to believe, many will ignore it as if it didn’t exist but the ones who are believing are the ones who rule our divided land. They are not frivolous men, given to fanatical notions or whims, if they are nervous, we should be too son” Gabe always knew the stories he told Culiver as a boy were true but he never told him, it was not time. Too many secrets he must eventually reveal, he hoped he had not waited too long, some would hurt his son and he never wanted to do that.

“It’s nothing but myths! You told me so! No one believes the old bedtime stories, only the…” cutting himself off, it dawned on Culiver, this conversation had started out with the mysterious structure in the Plains of Tal’Aviv “That structure, that thing… it’s new, not apart of the ancient stories… I don’t understand father but I feel you hinting at it because of Rayim?”

“I have not seen the structure myself, I never wish too for fear…” waiving his hand, Gabe continued with another part of his thought “but I have heard what it appears to be, dragons”

“Father, if you say the stories are true then there never were dragons in the Valley! Even with the death of the supposed old magic, the stories claim dragons cannot be here… right?” Culiver’s mind was spinning! So many of the stories were of heroes but one was how the Valley of Ol’Vir came to be and the red, flower strewn Plains of Tal’Aviv where now lies the structure that appeared a century ago.

“Why would the Bersin people of the outer lands risk traveling here to warn us of something that doesn’t exist? If Chimera live again in the outer lands, then maybe dragons can live in the Valley of Ol’Vir” Gabe continued to eat his dinner watching his son, he knew this was difficult to reconcile for him, for Gabe had to reconcile with the truth years before his son had been born. There were things Gabe still needed to reveal to his son.

“But…” Culiver closed his mouth when his father held up his hand, this he knew meant they needed to think, finish their dinner and then he would continue the conversation. Chores would be next, preparing for tomorrow, mending tools and leather harnesses and attending their two draft horses.

Culiver had loved the stories of the heroes, mighty warriors guarding The Sapphire Order of Sorcerers, magic was powerful but an arrow can still find the heart of a sorcerer. Though he loved these stories, how the Valley had been created was an epic tale of its own, there were no names given to the last stand of the Guardians and Sorcerers; just the story.

One thousand years ago

The Guardians and Sorcerers gathered, those that remained of their Orders, few indeed for the war had been bloody and brutal cleaving through their ranks relentlessly until only they remained. Upon a high hill they stood gazing out at the lands around them, swirling in magic, chaos and death. Blood filled the land, the rivers tainted and the bodies of their people piled high… their own Brothers and Sisters of their Orders lying among the people… how had they failed?

Each Sister gazed at one another, silently acknowledging they were the last of their Orders and with deep sorrow that brought pain beyond their physical wounds at the condition their Brothers of the Guardian Order were in. Bravely they had fought, their lives given like wheat to a harvester… cut down in bloody troves. The Sisters had desperately tried to protect them, the magic unleashed by the beasts their brothers had only minimal protection against; their enchanted armor only protected them so far. Few Brothers remained, blood pouring from their wounds, mangled limbs with heads hung, desperately clinging to their swords and shields.

The Sisters of the Sapphire Order knew this was their last stand, they now knew nothing could stand against the beasts, the chimera and dragons raged over the land and the Sisters magic was akin to fire sticks being thrown at the massive beasts. They had nothing left, except one, forbidden ritual… they knew not if it would work but their lives given in this sacrifice might…

Standing in a circle, their Guardian Brothers beside them the Sisters raised their hands to invoke a dangerous death magic ritual, once unleashed it would consume them. No words were spoken, none were needed as the magic began to build, the hill began rise, expand and the land shifted. As their magic poured out from them, feeding on their life forces the hill they were on continued to rise in elevation… then suddenly the land around them pushed back, creating mountains so high they almost touched the sky. As the ritual neared its end, each Sister and Brother began to fall to the ground, their life given to the deadly ritual until two remained.

He had been her counselor, lover and companion. The last Sister poured her love for him into the final magic that ebbed out of her, attaching itself to his life force as they both buckled under the magic… linking hands, bloody tears streaming down their faces as the last Brother and Sister breathed their final breath and crumpled to the ground.

Few survived the clash of the beasts, it took generations for the land to heal and the people who remained to rebuild their lives. In the center of the land was mountains so high they nearly touched the sky, many had tried to traverse it, few succeeded. One clan succeeded in finding a way over the perilous mountains and into the valley they would name the Valley of Ol’Vir. Named after their first king; Caymen Ol’Vir, the first Sky King.

Fantasy

About the author

Jessi Warthen

I love stories and my passion is writing.

I am currently working on an epic fantasy book, I have posted the prologue and first chapter to gauge the reaction, so I would love feed back!

I will continue to post short stories, enjoy!

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