An Excerpt

CHAPTER ?

 

Ravoh slugged to a halt in the decay of Vinell, a former farming settlement of Nishaira, reduced to ashes during the Wrenching. The Itul bent it’s knees and lowered itself to the dirt. The dust storm rattled against the wooden walls of the cabins, and heavily reduced any visibility the creature might have had. Yra bundled up and shoved open her cabin door. The gusty hum of the storm became a shrieking howl as she emerged onto the walkway, pulling her garb tighter around her face. She worked her way up to Ravoh’s head, where Shihn’s cabin resides, stumbling in the wind along the way. Approaching the door, Yra reached out and grasped the doorknob. She tugged with vigor, but the door wouldn’t budge. “Hey, please open up!” She yelled, knocking at the door, “The wind is going to-” Yra was interrupted by the appearance of Shihn in the doorway, who had swung the door open with ease. “What is the wind going to do?” He questioned, as he escorted Yra into the cabin, shutting the door behind her. “Knock me off your beast,” She responded. Shihn grinned and reached back at the door, pulling a bolt across it with a metallic clank. “It won’t stay shut otherwise,” he said, approximating Yra’s next query. “So,” started Yra, unwrapping her face and unmuffling her voice, “Have we stopped? I felt us jerking to a sudden stop.” “Yes, Ravoh must rest. He can’t see in the density of the storm so we won’t be able to enter the suburbs of the city until the dust settles. It’s too risky with the Itul wandering these wastes, we’d be gambling our lives.” Yra gave a slight nod in understanding. “Also, have you seen Nothe? He left our cabin earlier and-” Shihn silently intervened, pointing to the back corner of the cabin. Yra turned around. Nothe was hidden in the shadows cast by the sparse candlelight, digging through the contents of a large metal chest. “He was curious.” Yra smiled, “I’m going to return to my bed. If you need me you know where to find me.” Shihn gestured towards the door, unbarring Yra’s path. Yra concealed her face once more and disappeared into dirt. Shutting and locking the door after Yra, Shihn turned to Nothe. “What are you searching for?” “Nothing in particular, but I’ve been thinking about what you told me earlier,” Nothe responded. “About Althohs?” Shihn questioned. “Yeah, you said that you knew him once, that you grew up with him, but that doesn’t make any sense to me. Althohs died the year before I was born, and he had finished building Nishaira seventeen years prior. If I’ve added everything up correctly, he would be seventy years old today. You don’t look a day over forty.” “I can see I have a lot of explaining to do, but I had planned on doing this at some point anyways,” said Shihn, collapsing into his rocker and leaning back. “What do you mean?” asked Nothe, “Is there something I need to know?” “We’ll get there. Get off the floor and come take a seat.” The wind hissed against the shutters outside as Ravoh closed his eyes for a brief nap. “I’ll start at the beginning. It’ll be best to have as much background as possible so to understand how civilization ended up the way it stands today. Get comfortable.” Nothe nodded, settling down into his chair after having transferred from his position on the hard floor.

“When Althohs Gom first arrived in the Wooden City of Luene, he not only became enamored by the beauty therein, but more importantly by the daughter of the Alovihr Sive, Lina, with whom he fell madly in love. Lina would ultimately decide the fates of many, including that of her newly beloved Althohs. Althohs had harbored the desire to begin a new life away from Alunir and his father Ahvin, and dived headfirst at the opportunity to finally fulfill this wish. These desires of love and ambition in unison would lead to the shattering of Althohs’ relationship with his father, who outspokenly opposed the establishment of a new colony outside the bounds of his rule, and vehemently sought to return his son to Alunah where he believed Althohs belonged. Althohs would soon marry Lina with Sive’s blessing, during a grand ceremony in Luene. Through this, Althohs and his followers entered into a camaraderie with the Lovihr of Luene. Althohs decided that it was necessary to evolve his colony in the Bay of Alamos into a full-fledged marvel, a coastal city of massive proportion and a trade center. Althohs and Sive would break ground on the construction of this city-” “Nishaira! Right?” interrupted Nothe. “Yes, Nishaira. Anyways. The city would be a blend of elaborate wood-workings carefully crafted by the Lovihr and stone masonry lovingly carved by the Favihr, combining to create a magnificent spectacle of architectural workmanship, it’s reflection glistening across the bay as the sunlight reflected off it’s stark white stone surfaces. During this lengthy period of construction, and irrational Ahvin Gom would send a courier to track down his long-disappeared son, warning him of the threat he was becoming to his father’s rule, and that any and all who oppose his decree to cede all newly discovered lands to the Alunan Empire would be labeled enemies of Alunir and face certain death. Althohs said nothing of this decree to his followers, believing his father’s words to be nothing more than empty threats in an attempt to sway Althohs into returning to Alunah. Althohs therefore disobeyed and remained on the continent of Ahvoh with his spouse Lina as they completed the city of Nishaira. No one did he confide in regarding his decision, no one but Reng, Althohs’ closest friend and confidant. Reng and Althohs had known one another since a very young age. Reng was the son of one of Ahvin’s advisers in Alunir, and thus spent much time in the midst of the royal family, allowing his and Althohs’ friendship to flourish. The two would hunt for finar in the forests of the Lowood and hike the steeps of the Rosche Mountains, becoming fast allies with time. When Ahvin first sent the first of his kin to discover new lands across the Calsea, Althohs chose Reng as his first mate in exploring the new world. Reng was wary of Ahvin’s power, and the imminent possibility of all out war between the two Favihc civilizations. Despite this, he was prepared to back his friend, the man he trusted with his life.

Ahvin launched half of his war fleet from the harbor in Alunah, begging for the destruction of Nishaira and the capture of his son. Ahvin cared not of the fates of anyone else, as long as his firstborn was returned to him unscathed. The battleships arrived in the Bay of Almos, confronted immediately with more resistance than was expected. But despite Althohs’ efforts, the Alunans managed to enter the incomplete city, storming it’s streets and smashing it’s scaffolds, plundering and burning everything in their wake. Fearing the worst, Althohs had his squire, Hods, bring Lina to the Gold Tower at the top of his palace as Althohs went to the aid of his people. Victory appeared lost for Althohs and his military, until the arrival of the Lovihr whom had established a camp a couple miles south of Nishaira to aid in the construction of the city, and had seen the smoke rising high above the bay. The assist took the Alunans by surprise, as thousands of Lovihr pierced the Alunan forces. Many Alunan loyalists who had been inhabiting Nishaira rose up against Althohs, only to be slaughtered by Sive and his band of skilled fighters as they swept through the city. Many of Ahvin’s warships were either burned or demolished by trebuchets, and ground forces were nearly decimated. Alunan survivors fled, some by ship, some to the east where they would later perish in the heat of the desert. Althohs had never believed his father could do something like this to his eldest kin, but swore he would never be taken by surprised again. In response to his father’s actions, Althohs’ established watchtowers to the north in the Falmun Range, and to the west on the island of Sengh. The city was repaired, and completed soon after. And this is when Althohs renamed Ahvoh ‘Novo’. In response to Althohs’ resounding victory, Reng gifted his lifelong friend with an elaborately jeweled necklace which Althohs would wear for the rest of his life. Not long after the completion of the Great City of Nishaira, a Nishairan scientist made an incredible discovery, the discovery of the Vehnn mineral. This mineral would eventually be used by three of the four great cities to ascend above the clouds and escape the Wrenching of Iternae. But for now it would be used to develop the Vehnn nets used in the creation of the first skyships, ships like those currently in use in the Nishairan and Alunan militaries.

Not long after the invention of these skyships in Nishaira, Ahvin attempted another attack on Althohs’ great city. This time the attack came from the north, where Alunan troops crossed over through the Terg Wetlands. But watchers from Nishaira in the Lostz Tower of the Falmun Range spotted the invaders just north of the Norwood, and called in for reinforcements. Nishairan troops intercepted those of Alunah in the forest and despite heavy resistance by the Nishairan soldiers, Ahvin’s troops managed to pierce their onslaught and push to the southern border of the Norwood. At this point, the Alunans ran headfirst into six of Nishaira’s new skyships positioned at the exit of the forest. Unprepared for airborne assailants, the Alunan forces were mowed down by skyship mounted fire ballistas and archery squads. In a final blitz, remaining Alunan soldiers, managing to get a single catapult through the dense forest, broke a hole in the hull of the westernmost skyship. This caused it’s Vehnn net to tear, resulting in the skyship crashing into the treeline. The few Alunan soldiers remaining cut down the crew of the fallen skyship and managed to abscond with pieces of Vehnn net. Upon learning of the Vehnn mineral, Ahvin ordered an explorer named Dremmur and a scientist named Lis to search for their own sources of the mysterious mineral. Dremmur would soon discover the continent of Trefys to the southwest, and Lis would find the mineral in the Sylic Desert there. During excavation, Lis overthrew Dremmur and murdered him, as Lis wanted the mineral to himself and a city in Trefys to rule over, citing Althohs as his inspiration. Many Alunah supporters in the mining camp would subsequently return to Alunir and tell Ahvin of the treachery, but at the same time Lis was making contact with Nishairan troops in Narvor for protection.

Alunan ships landed on Trefys, just south of the Ardwood, and the Battle of Trefys ensued. The Alunans led a bloody crusade as they entered the construction and mining encampments surrounding the city, slaughtering anyone unsubmissive to the Alunan invaders. But the soldiers didn’t quite make it into the city before Nishairan skyships arrived, having responded to Lis’ plea for aid. The Nishairan reinforcements pushed the Alunans out of the encampment, who then fled north through the Ardwood and across the Tristrait into Theig, where they set up a temporary camp as they awaited reinforcements of their own. The Nishairans sent in more troops, setting up border guards with skyships along the southern edges of the Ardwood, and builders to assist in the construction of a permanent settlement. After more Alunan soldiers arrived in Theig, they dispatched multiple squads under the cover of night and managed to overwhelm soldiers in a few of the Nishairan skyship outposts littered across northern Trefys, commandeering the ships and using them to destroy the remaining outposts with a quick and decisive blow. As light dawned on the horizon, Alunan forces on Nishairan skyships attacked the incompleted mining settlement of Trefys, leading Lis and his followers to believe that the Nishairans had deceived them. While Lis was publicly decapitated as a traitor and murderer, the remaining Trefians escaped to the south and built the town of Syle on the coast. The Alunans seized Trefys and continued the mining of the Vehnn mineral, using it to craft their own skyships.

During this period of warring across Iternae, Althohs’ wife Lina was blessed with child in Nishaira. This ushered in a brief period of calm on the continent of Novo as Alunah was preoccupied with matters on Trefys, and distraught Trefians in Syle currently had no means to exact revenge against either the Nishairans or Alunans. But quiet doesn’t last in the realms of men, and Althohs’ ended after three shadowy assassins made an attempt on his life whilst he slept. Luckily for the Lord of Nishaira, his squire Hods caught the assassins in the dark of Althohs’ chambers, and with the help of the chamber guards, managed to off them before they could take his life. Unfortunately none of the assassins were spared in the ordeal for questioning, as Hods was forced to kill the last of the three when the assailant took Hods’ right hand. Nonetheless, the squire was rewarded for his bravery and service to his lord, he was presented with medal of valor and a prosthetic metal hand. Hods was promoted as well, to the position of Althohs’ personal guard, and would serve his lord till the end.

Once Trefian ship captains from Syle figured out how to navigate the Viper’s Ring in the Obtuse Sea without shipwrecking, the were able to successfully land on the shores of the Euran Glacier Coast. From here, they waged war on the Nishairan ghostwood harvesting civilization of Leeme to the northeast, drawing Luean and Nishairan troops in to defend the settlement. Hods would fight alongside Althohs in this battle, and many more to come over the next seven months, proving to be truly lethal comrades on the field of war.

A month later, the people of Nishaira would rejoice in celebrating the birthday of their Lord Althohs. The palace would host an elaborate dinner every year for a select group of invitees, and this year would be no exception. Not only would it be a celebration of Althohs’ astounding life, but also a celebration of his wife, who was now eight months with child, and would soon bless the royal household with the next heir to Nishaira. There were massive banquets of food, musicians and entertainers by the gamut, and lively games and dance held in the palace great hall. Althohs sat at a large table at the front of the hall, his wife by his side and his adviser Reng and personal guards Hods flanking the two. It was a joyous occasion, and with all of the excitement surrounding the event, no one, not even Althohs could have ever foreseen what was about to happen. Hods stood up for a toast as he tapped his glass with his knife, a melodic chime echoing off the stone walls. Turning to Lina, who looked happily on Hods, smiling and gazing softly upon his face, he suddenly plunged the knife deep into Lina’s belly. I remember the scream that belted from within Althohs, like an Itul after it’s prey or a man being flayed alive, as he knocked his chair back. In one swift and ferocious slash, he cut the throat of Hods, who collapsed to the floor. Lina was slouched in her chair, breathing blood and choking on betrayal, when Althohs came to her side. Sliding her into his arms, Althohs began to sob, his tears invading the blood of Lina. He lost his child, and he was losing his wife, but why? Reng ruffled through Hods’ clothes searching for answers, and found what he was looking for in the former guard’s vest pocket. But he wouldn’t interrupt Althohs, not now. Medics rushed to Althohs’ side, quickly but gently picking up Lina. Althohs yelled and cursed them at first, but immediately allowed them to tend to his wife. Lina was rushed to the medical ward with Althohs and Reng close by. But they couldn’t save her. Lina died that night.

Althohs didn’t sleep, and neither did Reng. Instead they sat in the royal suite in silence, as Althohs stared lifeless into the wall. He looked unhealthy, his eyes sunken and red with grief. He wasn’t wearing his typical royal garb, rather he wore clothes one might associate with lowly peasants, appearing shrunken and pale in his oversized and colorless attire. But he still wore that jeweled necklace. ‘What did you find on Hods,’ he had asked. ‘How do you-‘ ‘I saw you searching his corpse. What did you find on him?’ Reng let out a slow sigh and reached into his coat pocket, pulling out a crinkled piece of parchment, a red wax seal emblazoning it. Althohs shifted his dead gaze from the wall. He reached his hand out, beckoning for the note. Reng stood out of his chair and brought it over to Althohs, laying the letter in his palm. Althohs rotated the parchment in his hands until he stared directly at the seal. It was that of Ahvin’s household. Althohs’ eyes turned from solemnity to rage as he unfolded the letter. ‘Now is the time. He believes you to be his friend, our plan has been flawlessly executed thus far. So therefore, it’s time for the finale: Finish her, and don’t expect to live. My son will have nowhere else to turn but to Alunah.’ A single tear caused the ink to run down the parchment. Althohs crumpled the letter and threw it at a vase across the room, knocking it to the floor in a flurry of shattered porcelain. ‘It was my own damned father!’ Althohs yelled, standing up and walking towards the balcony. ‘Who would’ve known that the piece of shit was capable of this level of savagery!’ ‘Althohs… please,’ begged Reng. ‘He’s a coward, and we need to decide how we’re going to deal with him-‘ ‘No Reng,’ Althohs’ tone had softened as he glared off into the distance. ‘He’s won. It’s over, Reng…’ Reng stood out of his chair and turned to look at the balcony. Althohs had climbed on the railing, and was looking down on the city. ‘Althohs!’ yelled Reng, moving swiftly towards the Lord of Nishaira. ‘Step down from there, please-‘ ‘Reng,’ he interrupted, ‘Please don’t stop me…’ Althohs took a step forward. ‘NO!’ screamed Reng reaching forward and grabbing for Althohs. He reached as far as he could, managing only to grasp a hold of Althohs’ necklace. As his body dropped off the side of the balcony, the necklace broke his fall and his neck snapped. Reng cried out in pain as his arm broke under the sudden jolt. He reached down with his right arm to try and lift Althohs’ body over the ledge, yelling in pain as he pulled the Lord of Nishaira back onto the balcony. The suite door swung open as the keep guards rushed in. ‘We heard screaming, what is– Hey! What are you doing!’ ordered a guard. Reng was still attempting to tug Althohs back onto the balcony by his necklace. ‘Look! He’s killed the Lord! Fire!’ commanded another. The guards loosed their crossbow bolts into Reng’s back. His strength gave out as the weight of Althohs’ body pulled his old friend off the palace balcony to his death.”

“So, you’re Reng?” questioned Nothe. “Yes, I was once named Reng, but now I am Shihn.” “And no one recognized you? At all? And how did you survive? How do you still look so young?” “Reng died that day. He was brought back by Iternae as Shihn… me. I don’t look the same as I did, but my memories remain.” “So she needed you too? Iternae, I mean…” “She asked me to help you.” Nothe, aghast, flopped back in his seat with his hands clasped behind behind his head. The two sat in silence for a brief moment, until Shihn broke it. “As far as I know, Althohs and his wife were buried in a grand mausoleum in the palace crypt, while Reng was tossed in a shallow, nameless grave. But the undertakers were given a surprise during Lina’s burial preparations, as they noticed her belly shifting. A day after Lina’s death she gave birth to twins, the girl murdered by Hods’ blade, and the boy crying. That boy was brought to a shelter in Nishaira, to protect him until he came of age. And now he is, now he’s fit to save the inhabitants of Iternae and ascend to the throne.” “No, that’s crazy,” said Nothe, standing and walking to the other side of the hut, arms crossed over his chest. “There’s no way. You’re wrong.” “No Nothe, that boy was you. Does it not make sense? The visions and voices you have of a sister you never knew. It’s undeniable and you know it. After you find the Seed and unwrench the surface, it’s you who will replace Kell Raptain on the Nishairan throne.”