Naren – The Dawn of Freedom

Dawn was breaking. Rhavek had seen no signs of the lucaja from the other lairs, but he had chosen to stay a good ways away from the regular messaging routes. Their destination was the central mountains to the northwest of the mountains they had called home, and he hoped he would meet up with some of the others there. He could see the mountains in the distance, but they were too far to reach before daylight. He signaled to the others to follow him, hoping they would. They had let him lead so far. With a last flap of his leathery wings, he settled into a glide. He watched for a good place with cover that wasn’t too near any buildings. They had, unfortunately, had to rest on the plains, where farms dotted the landscape, and there were few trees, and even fewer rocky crags to hide behind.

He spotted a copse of trees near a stream and circled over it. The others followed behind him as he watched for any signs of humans or elves. Seeing none, he tilted his wings to descend a little more quickly. It would do no good to hide here if they were seen landing. His clawed feet dug into the ground as he landed. He turned and watched as the others landed around him. They were a good group. He had tried to get all of the others to follow him, but in the end, they had to hurry as their owner had woken. He had only convinced these twelve to follow him. An older male landed. His name was Fhirgich and he knew words and showed the ability to reason, but he did not have a large vocabulary. The young, pregnant female, Zhugani, was next to land. When she was let out of her cage, she had a tendency to follow Rhavek even when she had other orders. She could not speak with words but understood some. Another male landed next. His name was Bhotrev and he was almost as smart as Rhavek, except he had trouble with writing.

The others landed as well. There were seven more males and one other grown female, this one with a four-year-old female child whose wings were too small for flight yet. The child had been carried the whole trip.

He looked around at the group then stated, “We rest here.” He pointed at the stream. “Water. Drink.”

Fhirgich looked at Rhavek with a confused expression. “Mountains?”

“Not yet. Too far. We rest. It is daylight. We rest. We fly at night.” He tried to keep his sentences short enough for Fhirgich to comprehend.

Fhirgich looked around then back at Rhavek. “Food?”

“I will get some. You watch. Keep the others safe.”

Fhirgich nodded.

“Bhotrev, come with me.”

Bhotrev had already gone to the stream for water. He looked up as though he was disturbed, but he obeyed. He began to follow Rhavek. “Where are we going?”

“To get food. There are many fields nearby. It is just a short walk.”

“We should fly there.”

“No. We will be seen. We must stay on the ground.”

“The dragons don’t know which way we go. They are far behind us now.”

“It is not the dragons I worry about now. It is the humans and the elves.”

“Do you think the stories they tell us about them is true?” Bhotrev asked.

“I would not like to find out. It is better to stay hidden.”

Bhotrev nodded and walked quietly beside Rhavek. They stopped at the edge of the trees and peered out into one of the fields.

“What are they?”

Rhavek was not sure. They were fluffy, white animals, quietly grazing on the grass. While he had delivered messages to the dragons in the far west, he had never had to stop so close to settlements before. The animals were all strange to him. He motioned for Bhotrev to remain silent as he saw something else.

Bhotrev had already seen and was pointing. He whispered, “Is it a human?”

“Yes, or an elf. I cannot tell from this distance.”

They both watched the creature for a moment before Rhavek spoke again, “Come. There is no food here.”

“But the human? Will it stay there?”

“It will go to the structures eventually.”

“But what if it wants to rest? What if it comes to the trees?”

Rhavek shook his head. “It won’t. It is busy with the fluffy creatures. You see how it is watching them?”

Bhotrev looked again, then nodded.

Rhavek pointed another direction, “There is another field this way. We will hurry. The others are hungry.”

He started heading towards the field, glancing back not to look at the human or the strange fluffy creatures, but to look at the mountains in the distance. They would be there soon, where they planned to live the rest of their lives in freedom.


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Naren – The Council’s Start

They had made a poor job of hiding the damage. It had been six months since Lord Cully had stepped foot into the throne room. Scars on the door marked the violence that occurred last summer. His brother, the king, dead at the hands of rebels, and his nephew, the prince and heir to the throne, kidnapped, or so Lord Rowan believed. Cully couldn’t make sense of it. If he had been taken to safety, surely he would have been returned by now. If the rebels had taken him to demand a ransom, then they would have done so soon after.

Today was to be a day of moving forward, not dwelling on the past. Curran Levander was to take his place as the third lord on the council, after having won an election for the position. Lord Cully and his sister, Lady Dela Eden were the other two council members, and today was their first council meeting. He took a seat at the table that had been set up in the middle of the room. His mind immediately wandered even as Lady Dela Eden began to speak to Curran, explaining some of the things they were to cover today.

The presence of the throne in the room drowned out everything else. The crown sat in a glass case. The council was being created as a temporary measure until they found the prince. He worried what would happen if they never found him, or worse, if he was dead. Would Kingsfall demand a new king?

He still remembered that day. They had amassed their own army and come to the city gates. Half of the king’s own army turned on him. Cully had advised him to get out and hide, but King Adinath had refused. He had said something about being safe in his own castle. Cully had decided not to stay around to find out and swiftly changed into common clothes. He slipped out one of the back exits, along with Dela Eden. They lived. Their brother did not.

Their other brother, Lord Rowan, had been investigating the prince’s disappearance, but he was no further now than he was when they had decided to rule by council. Rowan had declined to be on the council himself so an election was held for a third spot.

The man elected was with one of the merchant groups, which Cully was a little wary of. He hoped Curran Levander’s only agenda was doing what was best for Kingsfall and its people.

He ran his finger across a gouge across the top of the table. Only time would tell.

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Naren – The Change

Once, just once, he wished his sister would do something to make him happy to be associated with her, but here he found himself wishing again that he didn’t know her at all. At least his request for a temporary adahi for the holiday had been granted. He was able to spend a few days at home with his parents without the association with her hanging over him.

“Everyone looks at me the moment they hear my name as if I’d do the same thing,” Sanimir complained. His temporary adahi, a pipe smoker, had stepped out, and he finally had some time to talk to his father, Isturon, alone.

“But what she did was within the rules, son.”

“If she’s following rules, watch out. You’ll be next,” he grumbled.

His father glanced at the door. The adahi had just left, but he was right to be nervous. A rogue mage was a rogue mage, no matter if his children were in Thril Gandir or not.

Sanimir frowned, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”

“She knows what would happen. She wouldn’t.”

“She knew what would happen to those children too, yet she still did it. A whole class of ten-year-olds just got marks against their records. Marks so bad that they can’t get even temporary adahis to visit their homes now. Marks for a thing that I, myself, used to do.”

His father raised a brow. “You slipped out of the dormitory windows while you were supposed to be asleep?”

“It’s actually somewhat of a tradition. After your tenth name day, it isn’t long before you’re moved to another building. The children’s building is the only one with a wall along the outside. It’s well-known that the wards are a distance out away from the wall, and after the guardians check that everyone’s in bed, they don’t check again without a good reason. So the kids slip out to climb the hill that overlooks the ocean before they have to move to another building. I think most of the guardians know about it, but they know no one is trying to escape. They’re just being kids.”

“I suppose you were lucky none of the guardians were like your sister when you did it.”

“None have been. I’ve never heard of anyone getting in trouble for it, until now. Now, even my roommate wants to switch rooms because I’m a Lightmist. Everyone knows I’m related to her, and they think I must be like her.”

“Your roommate should know better,” his father said, glancing again at the door.

“I know. Anyway, there’s a reason I wanted to come home for this Name Day celebration.”

“What is the reason?”

Sanimir took a deep breath, “I want to change my name in the town records. My last name as well. I can’t take being stuck in Thril Gandir with her and sharing the same last name.”

“Your mother won’t be happy. Do you intend to change your first name as well?”

Sanimir nodded.

“You’re fifteen. I believe you are old enough to decide for yourself so I will permit it. I do hope you intend to speak to your mother about it before the naming ceremony tomorrow.”

“I will. I didn’t expect her to be happy, but I do hope she’ll understand.”

His father nodded. “Do you have a name picked out?”

“I do. It’s Hethurin Fairsong.”

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Naren – The Adahi Hall

The hall was a place of wisdom and authority, or so they said. Imralion wasn’t about to doubt the words of those who had been here much longer than him. He walked up to the desk where a woman sat sorting papers.

“Excuse me. Is this where I register?”

She looked up at him. “Registration closed yesterday. You’ll have to wait six months for it to open again.”

“I know, but I was told the superintendent could make exceptions.”

She raised a brow. “Exceptions are for the exceptional. Where are you from, and what do you have?”

“I’m from Goldmarsh, and…”

“Isn’t that the swamp?”

“Well, the actual town is just on the border but, um, yes. I grew up in the swamp. I—”

“You should be heading back to your stilt home.”

“Wait! I also have this.” Imralion took the rolled scroll out of his travel bag and put it on the desk.

The woman looked at it, then back at him. “Nice. We have paper too.”

“It’s a letter of recommendation. Please, let me see the superintendent.”

“She’s really busy at the start of the program. I don’t think she’d have time for—”

A door opened to the left and a woman stepped out with her arms crossed. “Kaisa, what seems to be the problem out here?”

“I’m sorry, ma’am. This elf is tardy for registration, and is trying to make excuses to get in now.”

The woman, Imralion guessed she was the superintendent, frowned at Kaisa. “You could have just sent him in to see me.” She looked Imralion up and down, “Tall and strong. What’s your name and where are you from?”

“My name is Imralion Sunsorrow. I’m from Goldmarsh.” The woman’s face lit up. Imralion continued, “I have a letter of recommendation here from your sister. I would have been here in time for registration if the wagon hadn’t broken a wheel. I had to help hold up one side until we could get to the next town to repair it. It added an extra day onto the journey.”

“How is my dear sister? Why the last time I saw you, you barely came up to my waist. Look at you now!”

“She’s doing well. It has been a long time.”

Kaisa looked mortified as their exchange grew friendlier. Imralion didn’t feel bad for her at all. She deserved to be embarrassed for not even letting him explain that the superintendent’s sister had raised him and his sister.

“The training classes have already started today, but if we hurry, we can get you scheduled in before the afternoon classes start. Kaisa, get on it now, please. I’ll take care of the forms in my office.” She motioned for Imralion to follow her.

He couldn’t wait to start his training to be an adahi. He followed behind her, only glancing back briefly at Kaisa to see that she was already busy working on flipping through the schedules to see where he could fit in.

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Naren – Bhaqrin’s Plan

His race was enslaved. He knew it, but they didn’t. Freeing them would take planning, and Bhaqrin had spent most of his time on his plans. Most of the others in his owner’s lair were not intelligent. They had been trained like animals to perform tasks, but Bhaqrin was different. He could read and write, and spoke two languages. His first was the one his mother used to communicate with other lucaja, and his second was used to communicate with his owner when his owner allowed it.

He had little use for the words of his first language in his current lair. The lair he had grown up in used them much more, but here, he had to rely on the unspoken language. While there were some variations in this lair, he had picked up on them quickly and had challenged the leader. Despite being smarter, the leader’s size tipped the scales in his favor and now the others in the lair wanted little to do with Bhaqrin. Still, he felt he had to free them.

He was often sent to other lairs with messages for the other dragons from his own. He left notes for the other intelligent lucaja to read. They would respond the same way, exchanging the letters discreetly during what little time they had. Five other lairs had agreed to join in on the plans, and finally, tonight was to be the night that they made their escape.

Bhaqrin was making sure his wire for picking his lock on his cage that night was secured where he could reach it when he heard his owner call out.

“Bhaqrin, come write this response for me and deliver it.”

He flew into the front chamber where the large dragon waited. Bhaqrin picked up the quill and dipped it in the ink. He waited for his owner to speak.

“Gormissab,” the dragon started. “I graciously accept your offer. Bhaqrin’s traits are highly sought after, but as he is inexperienced and it may take a few cycles, your offer is more than generous.”

Bhaqrin wrote everything but looked up in confusion when he finished. What was going on? His tail switched back and forth.

The dragon grinned, his sharp teeth showing. “You have questions. You may speak. Ask them.”

“What will take a few cycles?”

“Gormissab has a female. She has had one offspring already, and as it is already five, he feels she is ready for another. You are to be the stud. Do you have other questions? You make speak. Ask them now.”

Bhaqrin shuddered, his leathery wings folded tightly against his back rustled with the movement. He did have one more question. “When will it be?”

“You will go today and stay for a week.”

Again, his tail switched back and forth, but he said nothing. He was not told he could speak this time.

“Take the letter and deliver it. You will stay there.”

Gormissab’s lair was full of females and children. Bhaqrin had not been able to convince the one male that the escape plan would work, so they were not in on it. He wanted to panic, and refuse to go, but that would do no good to the other lairs who were in on the plan. He had to go. He had to act as if it was any other day. He folded the letter and took it to Gormissab’s lair.

That night he was put in a cage next to the female. She was pretty enough, he supposed, but he didn’t want to do anything with her. Luckily, he was not placed in the same cage with her on the first night, but he knew it would happen eventually. He wondered if the other lairs were faring well in their escape as he drifted off to sleep. His dreams showed them having varying levels of success and failure. Some had difficulty convincing the others to leave their cages. One of them had no problem getting them out, but once they were out, they didn’t know they were to leave the lair. One of them convinced a small group to follow him and flew out over the mountains.

He woke in the morning to a commotion. Gormissab, his owner, and a few other dragons were in the chamber.

“They were all over the place. They don’t know what to do without the gracxul guiding them!”

His owner spoke next, “I still don’t see what Bhaqrin has to do with it. As you can see, thanks to Gormissab allowing us in, he is here, and his cage is locked tight.”

“I found notes from him. He was the one behind it all.”

Another dragon spoke, “I did as well. He’s had poor training and isn’t to be trusted.”

His owner sighed, “I would like to see these notes. For now, I will take him back to my lair. Gormissab, I hope the breeding can wait until this is all sorted out.”

Gormissab nodded.

Bhaqrin frowned as the cage was opened and the clawed hands reached in and pulled him out. A collar went around his neck, and his dragon attached a leash to it. “Let’s go.”
Once they reached the lair, his owner put him in a spare cage in another chamber, separated from the others. His owner went to speak with a couple of the other dragons in the front chamber. Eventually, he returned with one of them.

“I put him back here where he’d be less likely to cause trouble with the others. I’m very sorry this has happened.”

“You and I both. I still haven’t found Rhavek and a few of the others.”

“I will withhold feeding him for the next day and keep him confined away from the others for a few days to teach him a lesson. This won’t happen again.”

“It had best not.” The other dragon’s voice faded as he spoke. Bhaqrin was sure he was making his way out of the lair. “I’m not the only one looking for the ones who got out.”

A few moments later, Bhaqrin heard his owner returning to the chamber he was in, grumbling under his breath as his heavy footsteps shook the ground. His cage swung as it was lifted from the ground. While it was already dark under the blanket, it got considerably darker when the cage was hooked to the ceiling in another location. Bhaqrin’s guess was that it was one of the unused chambers near the back of the lair. He couldn’t even see his own hand in front of his face.

“I’ll be back to feed you tomorrow. Now, behave,” the dragon murmured as he left Bhaqrin alone in the dark.

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Naren – Under the Sun and the Moon

Aeramin rushed back to his room from the mess hall after breakfast. He knew they would be coming for him soon. The three days had passed far too quickly. He felt she had only just arrived, and now she already had to go. It seemed like just yesterday he received her letter telling him that she had finally saved enough to visit. His father and fraternal twin brother had to stay behind to work on the farm, and she had mentioned that his father was worried about her traveling alone. He had agreed in the end, knowing how important the trip was to her, and to his son.

It had been seven years since the mages showed up at the farm to take him to his new home. He had tested positive for magic as an infant when his name was officially entered in the records on that quarter’s Name Day. When he was five, they came to take him for training. He hadn’t understood at the time. He didn’t want to leave his family or his home.

They took him to Thril Gandir, an island a day’s journey off the south coast of the continent where all the mages were taken. He remembered how homesick he was at first, and how he cried himself to sleep every night, even though there were seven other elven boys in the same room. He received letters from her, even though he was just beginning to read. She told him of things that happened on the farm, and he dreamed of being there instead of the cold stone walls of the grey buildings. Everything he had known was distant, and for the past seven years, he yearned to go back.

He reached his room, shutting the door behind himself. He sat on his bed to wait. Even now, he couldn’t leave. At first, he didn’t understand how the other students in his dormitory room were able to visit home, but he wasn’t. The only other who didn’t was Zaelith, but even he had visits from his family. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that he truly understood just how much money was paid for the right to leave for a few days, and how much money was needed to travel and stay at the inn on the island.

He jumped to his feet when the knock came at the door. He had moved to a different dormitory now, with smaller rooms. Still, four boys had to share a room. At the end of the semester, he and the others who had just celebrated their twelfth Name Days would be moving to yet another building where they would be housed two per room. He and Zaelith had already signed up to be roommates. It wouldn’t be until they were in their twenties and had completed their studies that they would be allowed their own rooms.

Zaelith was the only other one in the room this morning, and he barely spared a glance up from his book as Aeramin answered the door. One of the armored adahi guards was there.

“Aeramin Firewind?” the large man asked.


“You have a visitor. Follow me.”

Aeramin nodded and followed along behind the man to a plain room near the entrance of the complex. There were more adahis here. Some were patrolling the area and others guarding doors. His mother was already in the room, sitting in one of the chairs. She smiled when she saw him and outstretched her arms, raising out of her chair enough to kiss his forehead and embrace him.

“My son. It’s our last few hours together before I have to leave for the journey back home.”

He nodded. He had promised himself that he wouldn’t cry today. He wasn’t a baby. He was twelve, but it was a promise he was already breaking. A tear escaped, and more followed. He buried his face in her cloak covering her arm and muffled, “I don’t want you to go.”

She patted his back. “I don’t want to go either, but there’s no more money for the inn. I can’t stay here any longer.”

He nodded again. He hated money. He hated that some people had it, and others, like his family, didn’t.

She pulled back, looking at his face and brushing his copper curls away from his tear-stained cheeks. “You’ve grown so much, and we’ve missed so much together. I’ve missed you every single day since they came to get you.”

“I’ve missed you and Da and Arieth too. It’s not fair.”

She frowned and nodded. “It’s not, but it is the way of things. It may sound silly, but one of the things that helped me cope was looking out the window. Do you have a window in your room here?”


“Whenever I was sad because I missed you too much, I would look out the window and up to the sky. The sun and the moon are the same no matter where you are. I knew that the sun I was under was the same sun you were under, and at night it’s the same moon and stars. It made me feel like you were closer.”

“I guess I could try that.” He wasn’t convinced it would work. Maybe it would if he imagined she was looking at the same time.

She smiled sadly and reached for her bag. She pulled out a book. It looked very old and some of the pages had come loose from the binding. Aeramin regarded it curiously as she placed it in his hands. “I found this in a chest in the attic at home. It was your grandfather’s — Your father’s father. Your father never knew him as he died while your father was still a baby. His name was Karuna, and he was a mage. Your father couldn’t tell me much about him other than he had a very powerful staff that he created himself. I think some of his notes are in there. There’s more in the chest at home, but they’re not in very good shape. I plan to sort through and see what I can find that might be able to survive being posted to you if you’d like.”

Aeramin carefully opened the book. It had been written neatly, but some of the writing had faded. He looked up at his mother, “I would very much like that.”

“I’ll spend some time going through it this winter then.”

He closed the book and put it aside. They only had a short time left together before she had to go, and he wanted to make the most of it.


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Naren – Pursuing Wisdom

There they were, pursuing wisdom, and Silvyr Starsurge couldn’t have been more proud. He watched as his young son, Zaelith, took his seat near the front of the room. Most parents weren’t allowed to enter Thril Gandir any further than the visiting rooms unless they themselves were mages either living in the complex or accompanied by an adahi, a companion meant to protect the mage. However, Silvyr had made a considerable donation to the mage complex when he made his request. He did not want to miss this important day in his son’s life.

As the group of five-year-olds continued filing into the room and taking their seats, colorful runes floated over the blackboard, and letters of three major languages lined the walls. Silvyr recognized all three. Elven was his own native language, but he traded with many of the other races who passed through the oasis. He could converse in both Human and the common language, which was a mix of both elven and human with some dwarven influence as well. Common was the first thing that was taught at Thril Gandir, but they had assured him that his son would be taught both Elven and Human as well.

Zaelith’s eyesight wasn’t good. Even with his thick glasses, he could not see very far away. Not that it mattered now. His son had already begun to show signs of his own particular gift and had been declared the seer of the past. It meant that he was unlikely to be strong in any other type of magic, but with proper training, he would be able to see things that happened in the past with great clarity. Silvyr could only imagine what kind of advantage that would give him on tests. He’d have perfect recall of the lessons, whether he attended them or not.

Of course, he’d have not only an advantage on tests but an advantage in life. He was destined to become a very important and influential person, merely because of his gift. There were only three seers at a time. One for the future, one for the present and one for the past, and right now, it was only the one for the past, his son, whose location was known. He would spend his days in Thril Gandir gathering knowledge and growing wise. Perhaps he’d even advise the council someday.

Silvyr watched as the teacher stepped to the front of the room. She introduced herself in all three languages, then asked the children to each introduce themselves. She asked “What is your name?” in all three languages to the first few students, but after, she asked only in the common language. After they had all said their names, she started showing them the different letters. Silvyr noticed she paid special attention to Zaelith to make sure he was able to see each one. With the students engaged in their lesson, and he stepped quietly out the door. He planned to stay at the inn on the island a few more days before parting and hoped that would be plenty of time to make sure Zaelith was settled in.

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