Eternal Winter
News Band Discography Media
Concept Story Links Contact Eternal Winter at Myspace

Prologue Book 1 Book 2 Index Of Names

The Eternal Winter Saga

The Eternal Winter Saga

 By Matthew Knight and Gordon Burchell

Edited by Daniel Siceloff


Book II

Journey Through Unknown Lands


The night is so black, the moon is so bright.

The wiseman and I have taken flight.

The sword in the snow is a sign to me.

It points the way to my destiny.


-The Chronicles of Valorous light


Chapter 1

To Green Lands of Honor

           GALLIUS VARINOR approached an iron door, sensing what must be something powerful radiating within the next room.  Upon entering, he found himself in a long and luminous corridor.  Light shone from the ceiling and shimmered off marble walls.  A beautiful carpet of red and white extended down the hall.  The knight had yet to encounter a room so bright within all of the Shadowgate.

            He proceeded down the hall, finally approaching an opening.  The sound of rushing water emanated from a torch-lit path that broke off from the large, dim clearing ahead.  Following the path, Varinor arrived at a great river.  A small, cloaked figure resembling a Shadowmage appeared to be standing by a boat docked against the shore.

            As the knight advanced, the figure spoke: “I will take you there.”

            “Who are you?” Gallius called back.

            “Come,” answered the figure.

            Once they boarded the boat, it passively proceeded to float down the river seemingly guided by some magical force.  The river widened as they drifted, and all sight of land was lost.  Red and black waters swirled all about.  A clear sky and beaming moon lay above.  Was it possible they had sailed into another dimension?

            Varinor broke the silent voyage.  “Where is it that you are taking me?”

            No response from the figure.  Time appeared frozen.  Then, finally, the stranger spoke.  “I am leading you to your destiny.”

            After what seemed like hours of quiet drifting, the sun breached the horizon and the waters turned crystal clear.  The surrounding air warmed, and the first sight of land appeared in the distance.  Anticipation arose within the knight as he watched a shore that crept ever closer.

            Finally stepping off the boat and onto land, Varinor glanced back to discover that both boat and cloaked figure had magically vanished.  A vast forest stood before the knight.  A strange feeling commenced from the outlandish country in front of him.  An extremely warm and sunny climate without trace of snow or ice bestowed an experience unfamiliar to Gallius Varinor.  His amazement only grew as he entered the forest.  Beautiful flowers flourished in green meadows.  All trees possessed lush leaves on their branches and grass grew everywhere.  Butterflies and insects fluttered through a summer breeze, and chirps of birds rang down from treetops.  All this bewildered the knight.  These creatures did not exist in his native land!  It presented quite a spectacular sight in all its grandeur; to not feel the blistering cold winds blowing across his face rejuvenated both body and spirit.

            Could it be that he escaped the evil of Eternal Winter?  Indeed, the splendor of this world was overwhelming.  Even in the distance above and beyond, a prismatic rainbow arced across the sky.  As Varinor pressed deeper into the forest, he wondered why the cloaked figure had led him here.  Was he some savior in disguise or just another evil mage steering him further into the Shadowgate?

            As he continued onward, the sound of voices developed in the distance.  The knight stopped and listened, attempting to distinguish what sounded like two voices in conversation.  Despite the certainty that he must be near them, Varinor failed to locate the origin of the voices anywhere in the vicinity.  The knight kept walking, a bit confused whether he was actually alone.

            Suddenly, Varinor spotted two large rocks and immediately realized that they were the source of the sounds he heard.  The knight watched on in amazement as the rocks actually spoke to one another…socializing.  They appeared to be gossiping about some Great Falcon Wiseman, who apparently they thought was a fool.  This was quite a shocking sight to Gallius Varinor, reminding him of the townsfolk of Edlundiver at the Starlight Inn conversing over wine and fruit about traveling tales and hunting stories.  The knight chose not to disturb them.

            Proceeding down the path, Varinor sensed a presence in the tree tops high above.  Alert as always, he peered through the branches.

            Without warning, an arrow sped towards him from the dense treetops.  Pain spread throughout his body as a single wooden arrow punctured his chain mail with ease.  The knight instantly felt light-headed, gasping for air through troubled breaths.  And then…DARKNESS.

Varinor awoke to find himself being dragged by rabbit-like creatures that seemed almost human in many ways. Covered in silvery fur, they had gigantic ears and large brown eyes. They wielded swords and shields, and wore an abundance of amulets and jewelry.

            A foreign dialect escaped their lips as they spoke of what plans lay in store for Gallius Varinor.  A mumble issued from the knight’s mouth in an unsuccessful attempt to speak, but toxins remained throughout his inner core and had stricken him with paralysis.  To Varinor, it seemed that hours or even days must have passed before the party finally stopped at a village deep in the forest.  As the haze inside his head began to clear, he stretched his neck around and discovered that a multitude of these furry creatures peered upon him as if he were some sort of novelty.  Was this the first time they had ever laid eyes upon a human being?

            “Take him to the Prince,” commanded a voice that Varinor was finally able to comprehend.

            Once again the knight found himself hauled off to some small hut in the village.  Inside, the Prince rested upon his throne.  Aside from his grand robe and golden crown, the Prince’s colossal physique clearly distinguished him from his followers, the rabbit-like creatures kneeling before him.

            The rabbit that had commanded the group in to the Prince now spoke.  “My lord, we found this strange creature wandering thought the forest.  What shall be done with him?”

            The Prince slowly rose from his throne and approached the knight.  In a fluid motion he unsheathed his sword and cut the knight’s bindings, freeing him.  Then spoke the Prince, “My name is Prince Habnar, ruler of the Rabbit-folk…I have seen your kind before.  You come from the frozen world of torment.  What is your business here in the village of Singora?”

            “I came through the Shadowgate,” responded Gallius, “my mission being to destroy the Nightmare Phantasm.  How shall I find this evil being?”

            A deep gasp resonated from the Prince, and then only a continued silence as deemed necessary for one at a loss for words.  Recovering from what must have been unexpected news, the Prince once again addressed Varinor.  “If the Shadowgate has been reopened, then you truly must be a savior from the other world.  Thus, I will tell you the way.  Traveling north from here you will discover the edge of the forest, whereupon a most desert land awaits.  Venture forth until you reach the Electric Fields in the north-eastern mountain range.  It is there where the fortress lies…but be wary!  Your life will end in absolute havoc by the electric rays of that country should you not bear the ears of the rabbit-folk.”

            Suddenly, the rabbit Prince advanced upon one of his own warriors, drew his mighty blade, and with the flash of steel, killed him instantly.  He then scalped the creature, pulling the ears from its head.  Turning to the knight, he produced a large sewing needle.  Running was useless, Varinor quickly discovered, as the creatures around him forcefully grasped every aspect of his body.  As Prince Habnar began sewing the rabbit’s scalp to the knight’s own head, blood crept down his forehead, and Gallius screamed out in pain.

            “Silence!” commanded the Prince.  “It is the only way.”

            The final stitch was sewn, and the knight released.  Giant rabbit ears now extended from Gallius Varinor’s own head.

            “The ears you now bear will protect you in the Electric Field,” proclaimed the Prince.  “However, upon entering the fortress, they will no longer remain a part of you.  Go now, dear knight, as the fate of both worlds rests in your hands!  Free us from the Nightmare Phantasm!”

Chapter 2

The Great Falcon Tree, A New Quest Begins

          AS THE KNIGHT left the Rabbit Village of Singora and traveled deeper into the woods, the forest began opening onto a barren land.  A long outstretch of sand and stone bared semblance to the desert of which Prince Habnar spoke.  But it was still far away where a dark, snow-covered mountain range loomed on the horizon; this was Varinor’s destination, if he truly planned to enter the fortress.

            With the red sun blazing down upon him and sandy winds pelting his face, weariness spread through every muscle in the knight’s body as he travelled on through the desert.  Evidence of all who ventured before him became apparent as he passed a yard with skeletons scattered around the ground.  Their bones were bleached from the sun, and some still wore clothes, a sign that there may have been some kind of mishap here in the past.  A leather bag was still strapped to one of the skeletons, which Varinor cut loose to peer inside.  He found what appeared to be some kind of scroll, quickly opened it, and revealed a very large and detailed map showing all lands of this region.

            Studying the map, the knight noticed something strange—some kind of landmark in the middle of the desert resembling a tree.  Also, beyond the mountains was drawn a snow-covered land that looked of importance.  Gallius wondered what these extraordinary landmarks could mean, but the blistering heat forced him to refold the map and venture onward.

            Now deep in the desert and without a single sign of life, the heat was almost unbearable, and the knight extremely thirsty.  He journeyed for hours under the burning sun.  As he walked Varinor noticed how the land led up to a giant hill; and the closer he become, he realized there was no way around it.  The entire desert grew into a gigantic slope reaching up to the clouds.  Although it seemed like an endless journey, the weary knight began climbing the hill.  The higher he ascended, the steeper the land became until finally the summit appeared in view.  The last few feet felt as if he were scaling a wall.  Gallius grasped the top of the hill, managing to pull himself up onto flat land, and could not believe his eyes.

            A massive tree of great proportion loomed before him.  This was an amazing sight; this tree like none other—gigantic with large golden doors and stained glass windows.  A moat of clear water surrounded the tree and a drawbridge led to the other side.  It appeared as if a whole kingdom resided within the great tree.  Standing before the door stood two fully armored falcon guards.  They quickly approached the knight with spears drawn.

            “State your business!” 

            “I have come from far to destroy the Nightmare Phantasm,” Gallius Varinor plainly related.

            “And how did you find this place?” questioned one of the guards.

            Varinor drew out the map and held it in the air.  “I found this map on a fallen traveler in the desert.”

            One of the falcon guards came forward and took the map from his hand.  He immediately recognized it as the scroll of Larastat, Apprentice of the Falcon Wiseman.  “You must see the wiseman at once.  Follow us.”

            The guards led him through the doorway.  As they entered the great tree, Gallius became mesmerized by the massive wooden halls.  The sound of music seemed to be coming from the far distance.  Broad halls with majestic wall carvings stretched before him.  Through round windows, sunlight glared through emerald statues lining the halls.  These statues portrayed ancient falcon warriors of the past.  As they moved further down the hall, they approached a large silver staircase.  After walking up the stairs for what Gallius felt to be an excessive amount of time, they finally reached the top and came to two large doors.  The room ahead looked quite important.  The doors opened and one of the guards entered the room.  A loud squawking sound proceeded to resonate from the room.  Apparently, the birds spoke in their own unique language.

            Shortly afterward, the guard returned and instructed Varinor to come forth into the office.  As he entered the room, an old falcon sat before him, reading at a wooden desk.

            The falcon rose and addressed the knight, “Welcome, I have been expecting you.  I am the Falcon Wiseman Umaratus.  My guards informed me you found a map in the desert.  This map once belonged to Larastat, my apprentice.”  The falcon paused.  “I am afraid to say, he did not complete his journey to the plains of Candora.  He was sent to retrieve a Vindimerin root, a rare herb needed to heal one of our best warriors who was poisoned by the venomous fangs of the Imperial Basilisk of the Phantasm’s Dark Brigade.”

            “The Dark Brigade?" Varinor asked.

            “Yes, the evil one’s sinister army,” Umaratus answered.  “They are not great in numbers but possess great magic and strength.  They remain a threat to us all.  It puzzles me though to see your kind in these lands.  How did this come to pass, may I ask?”

            “I am Gallius Varinor from the Realm of Ereyth,” began the knight.  “I was lured into falling through a portal that placed me inside the Castle Shadowgate.  There, I learned from Majigormis, The Great Shadowmage, that the only way to put an end to the evil spreading across my own world and the safe passage for my return to it comes with the destruction of the Nightmare Phantasm, as well as the reunion of the God Ereyth and the Goddess Sarna.”     

            “Yes, now I see,” responded Umaratus.  “I also see that you have been a victim of rabbit folklore.”  The Falcon Wiseman’s eyes peered at the top of Varinor’s head.  “Those senseless creatures believe that by attaching rabbit ears to one’s head protection from the Phantasm's evil can be gained.  This is completely false, a sick and pointless ritual.  Please allow me to relieve you.”  The falcon spread his wings and began singing a beautiful melody in the falcon tongue.  Suddenly, the rabbit ears vanished from Varinor’s head.  “Foolish rabbit prince,” uttered the Wiseman while shaking his head.  “I will yet have my revenge on him one day…but that day is not today, my friend.  Today, we must prepare you for your journey.  You see, the words Majigormis spoke are very true indeed.  You must destroy the Nightmare Phantasm to save the fate of both worlds.”

             “As you may know, the evil wizard Voraxia condemned the world from which you come centuries ago,” Umaratus continued.  “When the world was still warm and peaceful, Voraxia was the most powerful wizard of the lands.  The world remained peaceful until Voraxia grew insane and turned to the dark magic.  He then used his evil wizardry to split the world into two realms, separating the God and Goddess who at that time ruled.  The first half he condemned Ereyth to and cast the spell of Eternal Winter upon.  This realm, severely affected by the harsh conditions of winter, would be the first to be tormented by the evil creatures Voraxia unleashed upon it.  The second half of the world he called The Unknown Lands of Sarna.  Here, he planned to rule along side the beautiful Goddess which he so desired. These were glorious lands never to be known by the mortals of Eternal Winter.  He then created the Castle Shadowgate, serving as a gateway between the two worlds.  To ensure that peace would never reside in the two worlds, he created the ultimate evil.  This he called the Nightmare Phantasm which he sealed in a fortress in the Unknown Lands.  What Voraxia failed to realize was that his creation was so evil it would completely devour him.  So, Voraxia is no more, but the evil Phantasm lives on and will eventually destroy the two realms, beginning with Eternal Winter, if it is not stopped.  Your only chance against the Phantasm and his Dark Brigade is by possessing the Sword of Valorous Light.

            “This is something you should know about, my friend.  You see, after the fall of Voraxia, the ancient Valghar Lords of Eternal Winter and the Falcon Mages of the Unknown Lands forged ahead through the evil of the Castle Shadowgate to unite in the court of Majigormis, The Great Shadowmage.  There they combined their holy magic to forge this great weapon.  It remains the only sword in the lands capable of destroying the Nightmare Phantasm.  Once forged, the sword was then brought to the snowy plains lying beyond the dark mountain ranges.  There it has stayed for centuries, surrounded by a magical aura of holy light to protect it until the one would venture forth into the Unknown Lands and retrieve it.  No one can pass through this light until the proper spell has been cast and the sacred words have been spoken.  That is why I must take you there.  Tonight we shall fly across these Unknown Lands, all the way to the snowy plains.  There you will retrieve the Sword of Valorous Light and continue on to the fortress.  To accompany you on your journey, I shall send Argus, my finest falcon warrior.  He will be of great help on your journey.  Now, follow me down the hall and drink from the emerald fountain.  You must be extremely parched with thirst after your journey through the hottest of deserts."

            Varinor followed Umaratus down the hall to the eloquent fountain, where the Wiseman handed him a silver goblet.  "Drink and the water will purify you.”  Gallius Varinor placed his lips to the goblet and drank the water, immediately feeling extraordinary magic rush throughout his entire body.  “Now that you have been purified, allow me to show you to your room where you may rest before our departure at dusk.”  The falcon escorted the knight to his quarters and then spoke once more.  “I must go tell Argus of our plans for this evening.  Rest well, as our journey through these Unknown Lands begins tonight.”

            And so the knight took rest.

Chapter 3

Fire in the Sky, Black Dragons of the Night 

            AFTER HOURS had passed, he was soon awakened by a falcon warrior standing over him.  Adorned with purple feathers and gold chain mail, he appeared much taller and stronger looking than the other guards and the Wiseman.

            “Hello, my friend,” spoke the kind warrior.  “My name is Argus.  I will be accompanying you on your journey.  Come, as it is now time for our departure.  The Wiseman is awaiting us at the treetop.”  Gallius followed Argus to the entrance of the tree.  “Now I will take you to the top.  Climb upon my back.”

            Together they flew to the peak of the enormous tree whereupon they met Umaratus.  With a setting sun behind him as dark approached, the Wiseman spoke, “It is now time for our departure.  Argus and I will now fly you beyond the mountains to where the sword lies.”

            “Yes, we will reach great heights tonight, brave warrior,” proclaimed Argus.  “Climb on and hold tight.”  With the knight mounted on his back, away they flew into a starry horizon.

          Majestically they soared over the moonlit landscape for most of the night.  Once the central plains came into view, they could see gray smoke issuing forth from what must be large fires in the distance.  Moving closer, they observed a village of rabbit folk, smoldering in flames.  As they stopped to hover in the air above, a dragon suddenly swooped down past them quickly making its way towards the village.

            “This must be the work of Rathlon.  He is one of the fierce black dragons of the evil Black Forest,” warranted Umaratus.  “We must disrupt this atrocity or these Rabbit folk will perish.”

            As the villagers desperately prepared to defend their homeland, the dragon let loose a proclamation of flame upon them.

            “We must act now before it is too late!” Argus exclaimed.  The dragon continued swooping down to attack the township.  Argus turned to Varinor.  “Prepare to strike the creature!”

            The falcon warrior soared toward the beast; with a deep breath, the knight drew his mighty blade.  As they sailed past the dragon, Gallius thrust his sword into its side and black blood sprayed all over he and the falcon.

            The dragon bellowed in pain.  “Foolish birds, how dare you interfere!  Now, the Witch of the Black Forest will beckon my call!”

            Umaratus began searching all throughout the skies as he had instantly felt a great evil approaching.

          “What does this dragon speak of?” pleaded the knight.

            Narjukl, The Witch of the Black Forest…" the Wiseman simply stated.  “You see, she once was the Princess of Astratonia…but she betrayed her father, King Ulaniar.  Afterwards, she was banished into the unholy Black Forest where she continued to strengthen her skills in dark magic until it devoured her.  The being that once was is no more.  Now, with the black dragons of that evil forest under her command, she is a force to be reckoned with.”

            “Look out!” Argus yelled as Rathlon moved in with a ferocious attack.  Argus quickly drew a single golden arrow from his leather quill and launched it from his silver bow.  An electrifying bolt of lightning suddenly came crashing from above as it struck the dragon.  Electric rays surged throughout its body, and it soon fell to the earth engulfed in flames.

          A deafening shriek ripped through the air— the Witch of the Black Forest.  She came at them mounted on Orbidon, another ancient black dragon.  Wielding a jeweled scepter that contained the most extreme black magic known, the witch set forth toward the party, her black cape and long white hair blowing in the wind, and her glowing green eyes glaring with the essence of evil.  Her scepter raged with a green fire as she struck the knight from behind, knocking him off Argus.  Downward he fell through the night sky.  

            Like holy thunder from the gods, Argus quickly recovered him, but Varinor remained furious.  “Argus, move in on them!” he commanded as he reached for his sword.  “I'll take care of that cursed bitch.”

            The evil witch now circled the Falcon Wiseman, waving the flaming scepter.  The glow from her green eyes radiated through the night like some uncanny demon as Orbidon flew her ever closer.

          Orbidon, one of the many horrors of the black forest under the witch’s control and a much more ferocious dragon than Rathlon, breathed a lethal green fire through the air.  Argus valiantly charged towards them with the speed brought on by rage.  The knight launched himself off of Argus and onto Orbidon's back, drawing his sword and seizing the Black Witch from behind.  Varinor felt the heat of the dragon's breath burning through the metal of his own sword that he held clutched to her throat.

            The witch shrieked and the dragon moved faster in a desperate attempt to shake the knight off its back.

            “I will send you to the flames of hell where you belong, forsaken bitch!!” exclaimed Gallius Varinor.

            “You fool," she replied, “no one can defeat Narjukl, The Witch of the Black Forest.  I will destroy you and everyone else who stands in my way.  Soon after the rise of the Dark Empire, I will be the ruler of these lands and Eternal Winter.  Hahahaha!" she cackled as the knight proceeded to decapitate her.

            Gallius gasped—to his amazement the witch was not dead!  He had completely beheaded her, and yet her body still moved and her head still shrieked with laughter.  Varinor shoved her body off the dragon, her head now spinning through the air with green fire spurting forth from the mouth.  Then, she blasted him.  The force knocked him from Orbidon, and once again he plunged toward the ground.

            It was Umaratus who rescued him this time.  “There is nothing you can do,” issued the Wiseman.  “Just hold tight!”

            The witch’s head flew straight at them.

          Meanwhile, Argus was blasting holy magic…but it was not enough to stop the heavy pursuit of the black dragon, whose deadly flames remained a constant reminder to Argus of the valuable stakes in this game of pursuit.

            The Black Witch's head chased after Varinor and the Wiseman, green laser beams shooting from her eyes. 

            Through the skies Umaratus called to Argus, “Argus, we must move them to the ground.”  Together they flew with great speed, down towards the burning village…

            ...yet Orbidon and Narjukl followed.  “You are mistaken if you think those pathetic rabbits can help you!” screeched the witch while still sending green bolts through the air.

            As they began their descent, a massive beam struck Argus and sent him plummeting to the plains far below.  There he lay, unconscious and smoldering, amidst the havoc of burning huts and rabbit folk dashing around in panic.  Three rabbit warriors quickly retrieved Argus before he faced further atrocities.  Through a wall of fire blown right at the villagers, more fierce rabbit warriors charged the black dragon.

            The memory of the shores of Zoratherax with soldiers from Edlundiver charging the Leviathan only to face its wrath crept into Gallius Varinor’s mind.  The rabbits brought out gigantic wooden catapults and fired flaming boulders at the beast.  And yet, the decapitated head of the insane witch still spun through the air.  She began cackling and blowing green fire once again.

            “Everyone out of the way!” commanded Umaratus.

            “Get back!” shouted the rabbit commander.  “The Falcon Wiseman is going to cast a spell.”

            The area immediately cleared as Umaratus began speaking in the falcon tongue.  Suddenly, the ground started to shake and giant storm clouds rolled into forms resembling eerie faces.  Extreme winds picked up debris, slinging it all about, while crimson lightning crashed from the sky.  The Wiseman raised his right wing towards the sky and issued a burst of red lightning into the clouds.

            A massive ball of fire began forming in the sky.  All of a sudden the booming call of a falcon resonated as a monstrous falcon of scarlet flames charged forth from the heavens to intercept Orbidon.  But the dragon managed to dodge the attack.  The fiery falcon swooped up through the air and circled around for another assault on Orbidon.  Midway through its circle, two raging fire falcons emerged from the giant bird as it split in half.  Flames trailed the birds as they accelerated to an incredible speed.  In the blink of an eye, the firebirds ignited as they both crashed into the black dragon, erupting in a blazing fireball.  The fervor from the explosion reached such intensity that the air around the beast soon became unbreathable.

          “AAAAAAHH!!” screamed the Black Witch.  “You foolish birds!  What have you done?”  The fire raged on until the last remains of the great dragon burned into a pile of glowing embers.  “NOOOO!!  You've not seen the last of me, or the terrible creatures of the Black Forest,” claimed the witch as she flew away screaming into the night.

            On the ground rabbit folk began regrouping in an attempt to douse the violent inferno that once was their village.  The Wiseman's spell continued in its grandeur as heavy rains poured from the menacing clouds above.  Another falcon cry resounded through the skies as a falcon created entirely of water gracefully flew towards the burning town.  Its wings extended as it splashed into the town and extinguished the flames.  Rabbit folk instantly began cheering the heroes. 

            Umaratus slowly turned to Varinor, looking up to the heavens all the while.  “The Falcon Guardians of Fire and Water; these elemental birds have protected our kind through the ages.”

          Meanwhile, in one of the last standing huts, Argus awoke to discover rabbit folk surrounding him.  “Where is the Wiseman?” he asked.

            One of the many rabbits around him spoke up.  “He's outside.  He saved the village by summoning the elemental falcons.”

            Argus jumped to his feet.  “And what has become of the witch?”

            “Once again, she has retreated to the Black Forest,” the rabbit replied.

            Argus exited the hut and found both Varinor and Umaratus outside in a conference with the leader of the rabbit army.

            “Thank you for saving my troops and village,” the rabbit commander began.  “I have received a message from the rabbit prince and know of your journey ahead.  He has asked that I speak to you of Avoryean.  You see, he is being held prisoner by his own king and father, Lord Norian Darsmir of the Dark Kingdom.  Fearing the true power of Avoryean, Darsmir placed a spell upon him long ago.  This spell forever prevented him from achieving his conquest of domination.  In the castle dungeons of Bazrith he sits bound by the spell.  You will need his help to enter the fortress of the Nightmare Phantasm.  Avoryean has stolen and hidden the one and only crystal key capable of opening the gates of the Phantasm's fortress.  Without this key, the stronghold is impenetrable.  Rumor has it that the key lies to the northeast, outside of Rossindor.  Many have searched the land, but none have returned.  There remains one thing I am sure of—Avoryean is the only one who knows exactly where the key lies.  With him lies your only hope.” He held out his hand, slowing opening it.  “Take this; it is a dragon’s tooth, centuries old.  It must be brought to the township of Rossindor.  There you will find a reptilian alchemist, a most powerful wizard named Alderan.  He is the only one that can teach you how to use it and how to find Avoryean.”

            The commander held out his hand again, this time handing over a scroll.  “Here is a map with the route to Rossindor.”

            Umaratus spoke up: “That will not be necessary.  I have traveled to Rossindor many times over the years.  The reptiles have been very helpful to us in the past.”

            The rabbit angrily replied to the Wiseman’s rejection.  “That is fine, but the prince has ordered me to send Ermick along with you on your journey.”

            a rabbit warrior hopped forward and knelt before them.  “I am Ermick.  I pledge my life and my loyalty to protecting the One who shall banish the phantasm and bring peace to these lands.”

            The knight inspected him carefully, wondering if this was another act of trickery from the rabbit folk.  This rabbit was quite formidable compared to the size of the others and wore a leather vest and black cape.  Several leather pouches were tied around his belt, and he was armed with a large sword.

            “Very well,” Umaratus responded.  “He will be of help should we encounter the Dark Brigade.”

            “Yes,” the commander continued, “Ermick is a brave warrior, full of magical surprises.  In fact, he is....”  The rabbit’s words trailed off as he stared at the knight in shock.  “Where are the rabbit ears our gracious master bestowed upon you?!”  His eyes enraged as he began shaking.  “What have you done to them?!  You must bear the ears of the rabbit-folk to enter the fortress!”

            As he held out a finger pointed at Gallius in disgust, the falcon Wiseman suddenly struck the rabbit commander from behind, and he fell to the ground.

            “Silence, you foolish rodent!  You have spoken enough!” Umaratus blared in a masterful tone.  “Tell your Rabbit Prince that my revenge shall come soon.  We will be leaving now.  Come along, Ermick!”

            The party of four made their way to the North.

Chapter 4

Rossindor, Rumble with the Tyrant 

          GALLIUS VARINOR now possessed the dragon’s tooth and all the turmoil that came with it.

            “Tell me more of this kingdom called Astratonia,” said Varinor to Umaratus.

            Astratonia is a glorious kingdom that lies south of Bazrith. It is ruled by the honorable King Ulaniar and is at constant war with the Dark Kingdom. The Falcons have allied with the people of Astratonia many times in the past to fight the Dark Legions of Norian Darsmir. King Ulaniar may yet prove to be helpful to you in your quest…but that remains to be seen.”  

            “The commander is right however,” continued Umaratus.  “We must go to the alchemist and learn all there is to know about this tooth and Avoryean.”

            “Well then,” spoke Argus, “we had better travel on land if we want to avoid the Dark Brigade.”

            “Wise decision, my friend,” commended the Wiseman.

            And so, yet another journey had begun, through the vast plains, and onward to Rossindor.  This route to the village of Rossindor, however, would not be far compared to the knight’s odyssey thus far, or so the Wiseman claimed.  Within the plains, they came upon a forest, much different than any Gallius had ever seen: an extensive tropical environment filled with immense palm trees and vivid plants in a sandy terrain.  A nearby brook provided a resting place for them to drink from a crystal waterfall that led to a stony pond.  A generous supply of fish and other strange, exotic water creatures filled the pool.

            Ermick turned to the knight. “Listen,” he whispered.

            Standing quietly with only the sound of crashing water nearby, a beautiful melody descending from the treetops touched their ears.  They looked all around for some sign of life but saw no one.

            “I know that tune,” declared Umaratus.  “It is the melody of Tarak.”  He walked down a small path in the direction of the music.  In the treetops high above, birds appeared to be enchanted by the tune as they flew in circles, chirped the same song, and danced in the air.  Another small pond lay at the end of the path.  But in the middle of this pond sat a lone rock, and on it perched an ancient reptile dressed in rags and playing a strange flute.

            The Wiseman was the first to speak.  “Well, if it isn't Tarak, the reptile wizard.  I haven't encountered you since that fateful day when our comrades perished on the plains of Candora.”

            Yessss,” replied the lizard.  “I am yet to forget that day, my friend, nor how you and the Falcon Mages assisted us in our time of need.  What brings you out this way after so many years?”

            “Well, you see,” Umaratus paused, looking over at Gallius before returning to face the reptile, “My companion here is the One destined to wield the Sword of Valorous Light and destroy the Phantasm.”

          Tarak glanced at the knight.  “Are you truly the One?” he asked.

            “I assure you he is the One,” persisted Umaratus.  “More to the point, I need you to lead us to Rossindor, so that we may speak to Alderan the alchemist.”

            “I am sorry, Falcon Wiseman,” Tarak replied, “but the alchemist is finished with his session at the alchemy guild and will not be returning until tomorrow morning.  However, you are more than welcome to stay at the inn of Rossindor for the night.  I would strongly advise not being in the forest after dark.  Come with me, and I will lead you to the town.”

            Tarak guided them through the exotic woodlands.  After nightfall they arrived at the gates of Rossindor, a large town with innumerable stone huts and buildings.  The reptilians of the town, tall reptiles that walked on two legs, gave the outlandish visitors strange looks as they traveled through the village.  Some kind of celebration appeared to be going on.  With lit torches many of them danced around a fire, singing and playing bizarre flutes and other instruments.  Tarak informed them that the townsfolk were celebrating a successful hunt.  Gallius could see that a gigantic boar roasted over the fire with several others close-by, already cooked.  Ermick’s mouth watered as he gazed at the tender meat.

            “Come,” said Tarak. “The Dragonsong Inn is not far.”

          They continued walking further down the torchlit sandy road until they arrived. When they entered, Townsfolk were inside celebrating, drinking and dancing to cheerful music. “Let us have a seat” spoke Tarak.

            The party sat down at a nearby table and a server brought them a round of drinks. They sat for quite some time conversing over wine and ale, making plans for their journey ahead.  Some time had passed.  The knight could see that outside through the window five dark figures on horses were coming toward the inn.  The riders stopped and dismounted. Looking extremely angry and fighting among each other, they entered the inn.  The room fell silent and all eyes turned toward the riders. They were tall reptillians wearing armor and holding swords.  The one in the middle of the group, looked much bigger than the others and wore a long black cape.  He seemed to be in charge.  The riders looked very threatening as they gazed and snarled at the crowd.

            The Knight grabbed one of the nearby female servants and asked her who these creatures were.

            “It is the Tyrant and his gang of bandits,” she said. “They are always coming into town and causing trouble.  We must give them what they want so they will leave.”

            There were two reptillian guards in the inn that had their eye on The Tyrant. The guards drew their swords and one spoke over the crowd of people: “You have no business here, Tyrant! You will leave this town or we will be forced to shed blood here tonight!”

            The Tyrant replied, “Put your swords away fools and maybe we won’t kill you!”

            The guards charged at the tyrant and his warriors.  With one hand, the Tyrant lifted a table and sent it crashing into the guards.  The bandits began attacking everyone in the inn and a violent riot had now begun.  Varinor lunged at The Tyrant and stabbed him in the side with his mighty sword.  The blade barley went in.  The Tyrant roared and lifted him up off the floor by his throat.  Using his magic powers, Argus began shooting magical blades of fire and ice at the evil ones and Ermick was now spinning through the air blasting them with surges of electric power.  The Tyrant dropped the knight and cowered for he and his bandits could not compete with such a force as was being brought upon them.

            In his panic, the Tyrant pulled out a giant boomerang of steel.  He hurled it through the air and struck Argus and the Rabbit warrior, delaying their magic.  He then unleashed his mighty whip and began lashing the Knight and Umaratus as Ermick and Argus fought back the bandits.

            “Enough!” said the Wiseman.  He began speaking magic words in the falcon tongue.  He then shouted at The Tyrant, “Off to the sea with you!”

            Suddenly, a great whirlwind conjured and quickly swept up the Tyrant and his bandits and sent them crashing through the wall and out of the inn, eventually to be forced into the depths of the vast ocean.

            The Tyrant and his evil followers had now been defeated and no one in the inn was severely harmed thanks to the heroes.  The party would now be treated with great respect in the township of Rossindor.

            The female servant came up to Varinor and spoke.  “You and your brave comrades have ended The Reign of The Tyrant.  You may stay at our inn for as long as you wish.  Tomorrow morning we will send guards to accompany you and Tarak to The Alchemy Guild.”

            “Thank you,” said Varinor.  “After that incident I believe we are all in need of peaceful rest.  Please lead us to our rooms.”

            As they began to leave the dining area, Ermick noticed that the Tyrant’s mighty whip was lying in the corner of the room.  “This may come in handy,” he chuckled to himself as he confiscated the great weapon. 




Book III coming soon!!