Although this story was started during November, (Nanowrimo) its ideas were conceived of many moons ago.
I would appreciate any comments that you believe would help strengthen the story.
Many thanks for taking the time to read, I hope to continue writing until it is complete and the characters and world that was created so long ago can finally be put to rest (and stop prodding at my brain).
The steel gated door slammed behind Sarina with a loud clang.
"Don't try and steal anything while you are in there." The guard laughed out as as he walked away. Had Sarina even been paying attention she would have made a retort to the jail guard, but as it was her mind was preoccupied with her present predicament. She scanned the cell, a pile of dirty straw in the corner and a pail conveniently beside the straw. The cell reeked of urine, she assumed that it was usually men who occupied the prisoner's room and that they didn't care to use the bucket. She picked a spot against the wall, as far away from the pile of straw as she could, and slid down to the ground with a soft thud.
She had been set up and she knew it. Orho would be very mad at her if he knew where she was, he had trusted her, and as long as she was in here he would not receive the item in time for the next shipment, and no item meant no money, and no money meant that Orho wouldn't get paid, and so neither would she. What she couldn't understand was how had the guard known she would be there? She had left no knowledge to the outside world that she had entered the building, and yet she could have sworn she heard the guards whispering about some reward money.
She breathed out a heavy sigh of frustration and was still mulling everything she had done when she heard the guard's voice coming down the hall towards her cell; he had another prisoner with him. As he fumbled with his keys in the lock Sarina got a good look at the prisoner, his hair was a dark blond, medium length, and was a mess, he was tall and had not had a good shave in probably a week. The guard tossed him through the door onto the ground, he had been rougher with the man than he had with her. His face landed right in front of her feet and he flashed her a smile. He was quite handsome, with clever green eyes; there was something familiar about him. The guard let out a snarl and slammed the door shut, locking it behind him. The man on the ground push himself up to his knees and dusted himself off, watching her carefully with an intense stare.
"Do I know you?" He accused more than asked. She knew he seemed familiar, but she wasn't expecting him to see her as being familiar to him. Although Sarina was very pretty, she was sure she was not the only brown-haired, green-eyed girl out there.
"Never seen you before in my life." She replied flatly, and yet inside her body was screaming at her, those eyes, look at his eyes, you know him!
"Are you sure, because I swear there is something familiar about..." The shuffling of the prison guard came down the hall again.
"Alright girl, your blood price has been paid, get on your feet, you're free... For now..." He laughed. She stood up and walked past the man who was still getting up from being thrown onto the floor. As she left through the cell gate she took one look back and saw that he too was looking at her, perplexed she smiled in spite of herself, his eyes she would never forget, but she wanted to remember the rest of his face.
As Sarina rounded the corner her feeling of relief quickly faded to one of trepidation; it was Orho who stood before her looking very displeased. Orho was not someone you wanted against you, he was a valuable ally to have, he was smart, strong and more importantly he was Sarina's boss. The jail or and he exchanged a few remarks softly to one another and Sarina studied his mannerisms trying to gage how angry he was. He stood about six feet tall and carried a large round belly that he covered up with the latest fashion in Ristall, a purple sash tied over a white tunic. The buttons on his tunic looked like real gold, in fact they probably are, Sarina thought, him being the leader of a thieving guild and all. He loved to be in style and eat the most luxurious and richest of foods, which showed in the many rolls of his chin. His only real distinguishable characteristic was the ponytail he had his long hair tied back into; his healthy and thick hair was a tribute of which many of the ladies in the kingdom were envious.
"Did he harm you?" Orho looked her up and down and pinched her face with his chubby fingers. She shook her head, no.
"Well, then it would appear we are all square here." He nodded to the jailor and pushed her along down the pathway away from the her prison, not saying a single word to her. Sarina could tell that there was disappointment in his eyes, but she could also swear that there was some concern hidden in there as well. When they were out of earshot from the guards they could finally talk openly.
"You are sure they didn't hurt you?" He asked again.
"Yes, but would that make a difference?" She questioned.
"Indeed it would if you are my slave." He winked at her.
"Your slave, but I'm not your slave."
"Well I know that and you know that, but they don't, and as my slave you are my property, if they had abused you then they would have to payment me property damage."
"Besides, " he went on, "it's a lot easier to get a slave out of prison than a thief that has been caught stealing."
So he does know, she thought.
"Sarina, do you know why I picked you for this job?"
"Because I'm the best." She was confident in her abilities and didn't feel the need to be modest, she didn't like modesty.
"Yes, I picked you because I know what you are capable of, and you have a flawless record; but I also picked you because I trust you." Her eyebrows raised in response.
"Do you know what I first thought of you when you came into my guild?" He stopped walking now and looked dead straight into her eyes, she shook her head side to side, I thought you wouldn't last a week!" He laughed in spite of himself. "And then when a week went by and you were still around, I thought you wouldn't last a month, and yet here we are today, and I'm pleasantly surprised, and am also realizing that I was a complete idiot for ever doubting you." Sarina had been trying to avoid looking in his eyes, she had been expecting a lecture, when she finally made eye contact he had a big grin on his face and started to laugh his big, jolly laugh, at the bewilderment on her face.
"Wait, so you're not mad with me?" He turned serious at once.
"Ah Sarina, my innocent dove, you will never know how much you have helped me, I'm just sorry that you had to go to prison in order to do so."
"How did me getting caught by the city guard help you?"
"Well, I'll let you in on a little secret, although my guild here in the city is a strong one, there are still others out there that would love to destroy me. We're in competition with one another, but a guild is only as strong as it's reputation, if a client doesn't believe a guild can produce than he will go find another one that can."
"I understand that," she said, "but I'm not sure where you at going with this."
"Well, what do you suppose would happen if you had a thief working for two guilds at once?" Orho asked.
"I didn't think the guilds allow that." She replied.
"Well they don't, but if they don't know about it..."
"But isn't that spying?" He smirked and raised one eyebrow.
"Ulandus always was a wicked, conniving woman, and being a leader seems to bring it out of her even more." He paused for a moment almost reflecting on the thought of Ulandus for a moment. Sarina thought she saw a look of sadness in his eyes before he abruptly continued where he left off. "Well, she sent that deceitful Tornan to our group. At first he was wonderful, didn't miss a beat that one, too good, then he started to slip up, not in his work at first, but in the way he acted around me, the others in the group. Then came the damages to the clients, a thief doesn't go from being masterful to useless in a week. But Ulandus has always been a greedy one, glutinous even when it comes to money, Tornan would tell her when we had just finished an assignment and steal the goods right under our noses, giving it to the clients saying it was her Guild who obtained the item, not us. The problem was I had no hard proof that he was actually doing this only high suspicions, so although the assignment I gave you was valid enough, it was also a trap; one which worked perfectly. Although I caught him following you, thus confirming my suspicions, he too must have had his own, he knew that his time was up with us and he left the scene and warned the city guard."
"You stopped the bastard, I hope." Orho winced, knowing she was angry that she had been arrested.
"Yes and no, I mean if I had my way he would be detained and under our personal care, but as it is, he's run like the coward he is back to Ulandus where I am sure she will reward him greatly for his services." Sarina couldn't imagine why he would want to work for that witch, Orho was one of the few Guild leaders who actually treated his employees justly and gave them fair wages for their work.
"The hard part now will be going back to where you were caught and obtaining the item you were supposed to get in the first placement if Ulandus hasn't gotten her hands on it already." He sighed.
"No need," Sarina replied. "The item is in a safe place, I can go and pick it up."
"Everything happened so fast, how in Ranh's deception did you manage to secure the item?" Sarina gave off a knowing smile. "Well, my deceptive goddess of the thieves!" Orho laughed. " I have never been so happy to have my first impression wrong , and to have you on my side! Come, let's go eat, my treat, I will buys you a meal fit for a Queen, as you deserve, I will even be your slave for the day!"
"I thought I was your slave?" She teased him.
"I'd only be so lucky." He sighed as they went to get some food and the special item.
Elania looked out her window in a daze, the mist was heavy that night, not a star could be seen twinkling above her. Time was changing, her thoughts were worried, she could sense trouble coming in with the moist air. She was protector of the island and had a connection with the blue orb that gave the island its protective power. Before Ostivius died Elania had been living on the island working with the magic waters that were present here and learning about their healing powers. The island's population was small, some were healers like she was, others refugees, and even fewer were those who were in need of the island's healing powers and had found someone trusted on the outside who would brave the mists and find way to the island. As the years had past, fewer and fewer were making that journey, the mist was becoming more and more protective about the inhabitants who lived on the island. The island's main inhabitants were a people known as the Tristons. Ever since the war the Tristons had kept very much to themselves, afraid to trust the other races that lived on the main land. There were only four elementals left, and she was one of them, as was Ostivius before her. She would never forget that faithful day when her life had changed so drastically. She had been treating an elder, Cafius was his name, he had fallen off a ladder earlier that day and had broken his leg, she had just finished applying the healing salve, followed by the magical incantations that work together to heal the broken leg when a messenger had come to see her. She was to go see Ostivius the first moment she was free of her duties. Ostivius was not one to hold meetings, so she knew it must be important. Elania washed her hands and face and took off her healing tunic, then made her way to Ostivius' hut, where a guard ushered her in. He escorted her to the fire, where two tree stumps were placed purposefully in front; she sat in the one on the left, and waited in quiet anticipation. Moments later a rustle of sound approached from behind her, she turned her head to see Ostivius watching her, he gave her a reassuring smile. As he approached the other seat by the fire Elania could see a sadness in his eyes. He was a very tall man, even so for a Triston, she could see why he had been chosen as an Elemental. He had very strong and commanding features, with the fiercest blue eyes, and yet his smile could put anyone at ease. He was still a handsome man, despite the white in his hair and the crinkles lining all over his face.
Ostivius sat in silent contemplation for a few moments as if deciding whether he should speak at all. When finally he spoke the words he so desperately needed to say, Elania knew that her life was changed forever.
The door knocked, snapping her out of her past and bringing her back to the present moment.
"Come!" She called out. The door opened softly.
"It's just me, my mistress." Calornia stepped into the room, "I wanted to know if you required anything further before I retire for the night?"
"No thank-you, I'm on my way to bed myself, I will see you in the morning."
"Yes, mistress, have a good night." She pulled the door behind her as softly as when she had entered.
Elania looked out her window again and the stood up and walked over to her bed. Slipping off her robe she gave off a shudder and looked around the room, she sensed another presence. The blue orb pulsed softly in the darkness and always had a calming and reassuring effect on her.
"It's nothing." She whispered as she shook her head and crawled into her bed under the covers and closed her eyes. Her schedule from the week bounced around her head until her thoughts became jumbled with people's faces and past conversations. It wasn't until a sudden flash of urgency crept into her mind that she sat up, eyes wide open, and her orb that had always pulsed a soft blue now reflected a very bright red in her eyes.
Sandrius pulled his cloak tighter around him as the bitter, cold wind rolled off the mountains and seemed to find a home right in his bones. He looked around cautiously, the snowflakes constantly tumbling down from the grey, clouded sky. It was such a beautiful view in the mountains, especially when it snowed, which was most of the time throughout the winter. All the once brown and green trees took on new identities with their perfect white cloaks of beauty. The mountains always seemed most at peace when it snowed, hiding its beautiful wonders to be discovered another day. Sandrius dipped his hands down and scooped up a handful of the cold, wet fluff. There was something to be said about real snow, the weather creations he could create although absolutely real to the ordinary observer never seemed as real to Sandrius knowing that he was the reason for their existence.
There was another advantage to the snow falling today, besides its obvious beauty. Not minutes after Sandrius had traversed the pass it had begun to snow and he knew almost as if the snow had agreed to help him that the fresh falling snow would cover up all of his footprints hiding any trace of his passing.
Today Sandrius needed complete privacy from all prying eyes; for he had discovered something and at present needed to keep his discovery to himself. He stopped in his tracks, breathed in the cold fresh air then scanned the area once again, he could never be too cautious. The snowfall was starting to pick up which for his old eyes was making it difficult to see if anyone was fallowing him; it also made it tricky to see where he was going, even if he did know the way like a bird flying home to its nest. Sandrius treaded forward again, cursing himself for being an old man who was losing his memory when he heard the sound of a twig snap from behind him. He froze in his steps and made himself as silent as the snow that was falling all around him. Someone had followed him; he knew that it was no use any longer hiding who he was, for if he was followed by someone, that person already knew his identity. Sandrius didn't even turn to face his adversary, but spoke three ancient words under his breath and focused his mind on the spell he wanted to create. Within seconds the wind began to howl and the snow whisked up from the ground in a massive swirl that made it impossible to see anything that wasn't directly in front of your face. Then, just as quickly as the snow and wind had picked up it quieted once again and the snowflakes continued their lazy and dizzy descent to the ground and began to fill in the last empty footprints where Sandrius had been standing.
The heavily cloaked figure walked ahead with great silence through the blanket of snow trying to follow his target ahead. I must pace myself, he thought, knowing that if he moved too quickly he would be discovered and yet if he moved too slow, all traces of his prey's direction would be lost by the snow. Each movement was precisely calculated in order to give no indication of his presence. His new webbed shoes allowed for him to walk with ease through the snow, an ingenious investment. The man shook his head trying to understand why the old man would come to this part of the mountains by himself, in the snow, unless he was trying to hide something. Everyone who lived in the Talius mountains knew of Sandrius' magical abilities, he was one of the four elemental holders and there many who craved his powers, although he doubted as much as himself. Although practicing the smaller magics out there was possible, as he chose to do, there were even books on magic in the Ormorn library, what he craved was big power, what Sandrius had and as far as he was concerned would not share. Legend stated that to be at the level of an elemental one needed to understand the ancient tongue of the Ihaloid people, which he did, he had found the recorded books and had studied them religiously. What he didn't have was the secrets of how to become an elemental, everyone believed there could only be four, but he had discovered a book that had said otherwise and he was determined to know the secret that was obviously being kept secret from the people. Deep in his thoughts he had become distracted and was now unconsciously following Sandrius, I had better slow down he thought and thus took a step back. It was then that he realized his mistake, under his foot something snapped, he cursed in his head, if he intended to announce his presence he should have just brought a drum and banged on it. He waited silently for a moment, perhaps the old man didn't hear, or will think it was an animal, but as quickly as he had had the thought a torrent gust of wind whisked in from the mountain tops and lifted up a layer of snow disabling any visibility of what lay ahead. It lasted only a brief moment and then stopped, when he opened his eyes the old man was gone.
Coriala, Captial City
King Armand sat at his desk with his head in his hand, looking at the latest report of peasant riots in one of the many cities in Ristall. These riots were becoming more and more frequent as time went on. Everyone had their own beliefs as to how the country should be run, 'we need to completely unify ourselves' he thought aloud as he slammed his fist full of papers down on the desk.
"And we will." Said a woman's voice from the door to his chambers. The king looked up almost thinking that his wife had come back to him from the dead, then remembered that as every new day passed his daughter resembled his dear departed Talelle more and more.
"I'm glad you have confidence in the king, my dear Dorian." He stated.
"Of course I do father, and you should do." He smiled, she was always supporting him, if only she knew how much he depended on her."
"I'm just glad you weren't Lalaora's servant coming to pester me again." Dorian smiled at her father admiring his ability to look so strong and handsome without giving off a hint of his age. She stepped forward and looked into his blue eyes.
"She's in love with you." She blurted it out like she been keeping quiet for so long that she couldn't possibly for any longer lest she burst; the king sat there dumbfounded. He avoided the subject.
"Since when did you grow up so fast?" He asked her rhetorically. She was a beautiful seventeen year old, ripe for the age of marriage and yet too strong-headed like he was to hear anything of it. Her long red wavy hair hung down to her waist, and made her green eyes and ruby red lips all the more alluring.
"I don't have time for love, you on the other hand..." He snuffed at her.
" I hear you have a meeting with the Wichorot of the Partasianon people?" She cut him off, if he could be dismissive about his love life so could she. He let her, he was not in the mood to argue.
"Yes, finally, we just received word today, I'm hoping to make an alliance with them, as people on this continent seem so hard to please."
"Now father," she chided, " the Taurens have ann alliance with the Cleedoans, surly that must mean something to the people?"
"That alliance was made so long ago, who knows if there is any value that still resides there. The people are so worried of war, we need a new alliance, something fresh to remind them why I am their king."
"And the Tristons, they still won't yield?" She moved to take a seat in front of the desk her father was seated at.
"No." He grumbled. They only communicate with a few Cleedoans, and even my source is cautious about revealing too much. They refuse to go public about their island, and act like it doesn't even exit."
"But surely they know about the rumours?" She asked.
"Yes, but the problem is that they are just that, rumours. Anyone who does manage to get to the island never talks about it, or even where it is." He threw up his hands in exasperation.
"Maybe they live to the east, near the Hashand?" Dorian reasoned.
"Maybe," Armand said. "Cogil knows they are a hostile group, we couldn't even get near them without being attacked, I think they are feuding among themselves much like we are I suppose. Although with the Hashand there appears to be different factions." He shook his head as if it didn't really matter anyways.
"Perhaps you need to take your mind off of things for a bit, you work too hard, father." He smiled.
"Yes, in fact I have come to see if you would go riding with me?" He sighed, truly disappointed.
" I'm sorry, my dear, but I have meetings for the rest of the day, perhaps another time?" Dorian's face was overwhelmed by her pouting red lips, but she knew better than to stand in the way of a king and his kingdom.
"Well, then I'll have to find another way to entertain myself." She sighed.
"Let me guess," Armand began," you'll be at the library?" A mischievous smile crossed her face as she stood up from her seat. "You know, if you become too smart, no man will want you." He winked at her.
"Who says I want any of them?" She smiled and with a toss of her red locks she waltzed out of his study door.