The eleven orphaned heirs of King Alabaster.
There was once a king of immense prosperity. His dominion spread in vast swaths across the Realm as his conquests were a fabled many. In his days of glory he never hesitated to imagine the plight of his humble subjects. His seed spread beyond his recollection and one day he began to marvel at the prospect of the measureless abundance in the generations ahead, beginning with his true heirs which at that point had numbered eleven. His sons Alcaranz, Aldis, Algernon, Aelfraed, Aylmer, Alegre, Erwan, Gerarth, Haelan, Baltrand, and Alawak all honored and basked in the covenant of their father. They didnt vie nor squabble amongst each other, all content that their futures would be as acclaimed as the very sun itself in heaven. The king however was unable to cease in his endless exploits and on one fateful evening he encountered a foul enchantress. Taking deep offense to his advances, she began to glow in an ominous hue. The king would not accept a slight from such a lowly plebian, so he quickly drew his sword demanding capitulation. With a cackle, she lifted her veil and exposed the deformed face of a demon. In terror the king pleaded for mercy upon his soul and this pleased the enchantress greatly.
Youll be spared you deplorable scoundrel, however your heirs will dissipate far from your reach and wander the most unforgiving lands until the end of their days as penniless orphans who remember nothing of the lives they once had.
The king reached in desperation to arrest this wicked apparition, but she evaporated from within his grasp as he gasped. The ground beneath his kingdom rumbled and in a bright flash his sons were each whisked away to their untold fates. For the rest of his years, the king wandered seeking the warm embraces of his sons and their joyful laughter that once serenaded his halls but everywhere he looked, they were always roaming just ahead of his horizon.
The legend and curse has survived time immortal but the remaining details have been withered to only these cryptic stanzas:
To the cellar beneath my throne,
You are implored to return
one of each my sons
To summon my ghost,
have no fear
just shout my name
for the world to hear
and in time my soul
will manifest to be your host.
If the collection is
true and complete
the curse youll defeat
and a reward bestowed
for the noblest of feats.
MISTS OF TIME
I woke early that morning, it had been just another beautiful day. The air was cool and fresh, early morning dew still blanketing the ground. Lingering still was a thick scent of rain. Fluffy white clouds seemed almost painted across the bright, violet blue sky leaving behind no trace of the storm from the night before. I could hear my mothers soft humming in the kitchen while she cooked our breakfast. My stomach growled as the smell of bacon filled the house. Thinking myself hungry enough to eat an entire pig, I left my bed and walked to the kitchen. After pouring a glass of orange juice from the fridge I kissed my mother on the cheek, drowsily mumbling, “Morning mom,”. “Morning dear,” came her usual, cheerful reply. She handed me my plate and as I sat to eat she asked if I would go to the market for her when I was done. Nodding, I ravenously devoured my food before taking the list my mother offered me. Looking it over I took the money she had given me and left the house without another word. I hadn’t know then that was to be the last time I would ever see my mother. Walking down the road to the market I decided to take a shortcut through the woods, taking in the thick foliage of the forest. As I wandered deeper in, a strange heaviness crept over me. Unable to keep my eyes open, I decided to rest for a short moment before continuing my trek to the market. When next my eyes opened, my vision was met with darkness. A shroud of thick fog all around me lead to much confusion as I wondered how long I had slumbered. Suddenly, there was a deep growl behind me. Close enough I could almost feel the breath down my neck. Terrified I began to run, never once daring to glance behind myself. Seeing the forest beginning to clear I made my way as quickly as my legs allowed towards the outer edge of a town. I had hardly noticed the sky turning bluer as I ran.
Exiting into a clearing, I headed towards the gates of the town. Knowing the creature would soon be nipping at my heels I lunged for the safety of the town beyond the gates. Flying past the biggest rat I had ever seen in my life I grabbing ahold of a building to steady myself. Gasping for air, I looked up to see people being shuffled here and there by the gates keeper. When I had caught my breath I scanned through the people running past, seeking a familiar face but finding none. Finally my eyes fell upon the smiling face of a very lovely woman. She had long curly hair the color of a raven and the towns people crowded around her. Venturing towards the crowd I whispered under my breath, speaking to nobody in particular, “Who is this woman,” and was given one reply. Starrie, this is the name I was told as this time the eyes of the crowd fell upon me. Now sticking out like a sore thumb I began to feel sick until I looked into the kindest eyes I’d ever seen, aside maybe from my mothers. My eyes began to swell with tears as I realized I didn't know where I was or how far I had run. Frantically, I searched for a place to hide while dashing further into town. Unknown to me, the woman called Starrie chased after me. Quickly catching me, she gently grabbed my shoulder and wisped me away to a private garden. As I was overcome with an oddly calming feeling she sat quietly upon a large rock and waited for the magic of the garden to sooth me. Once I was back to my proper senses she asked me who I was. “My name is MistyDawn,” I answered. We spoke then for what seemed to be hours as I told her everything that has transpired through the day. I told her how I had happened upon her town, she told me it was named East Lienster. She told me the land I’d wandered into was called The Realm, and she told me not to fear as she had a friend that could help me.
Later, I was introduced to a scholarly man named Hektor, the man of whom she spoke. Hektor is very knowledgeable of the Realm and I have learned much from him. My new friends told me more about how I had come to be in this new place. I had entered accidentally through the mists of time, and to my great shock and grief, I would never be able to return home. Starrie and Hektor have indeed helped me to overcome my heavy sadness at having lost my old life when I entered the Realm through the mists, and I have found myself not missing home quite so much. I have come to love this land and its citizens a great deal. Now, a great threat looms over my new home and I shall stay here and defend it, until someday when I may find a way back home to my family. In my time here, I have met my beloved husband, KidRock, and hope one day to be able to take him to meet my family. Surely they will love my gentle giant as much as I have come to love him. Maybe one day I will be able to share the tale of how I made my way home. However, at least for now, this is the story of how I came to be a citizen of The Realm.
A Veil of Smoke
Broken, banished - and lost to time. As he pondered over a mug of stale ale, the sullen thief quietly mumbled the motto of the fallen order. Audentes fortuna juvat. His brothers and sisters-in-arms once commanded a wretched, but merry, band of mercenaries and thieves. All with prodigious appetites for mayhem and donning the color as dark as their deeds. However, those days were but a memory.Much to the thief’s distaste, East Leinster was not a desolate place. The streets, merchant shops and taverns bustled with the growing populace and all his silent prayers to Duach couldn’t drive them away. The beat and warmth of commerce pulled him from his reverie. He noted a provocative scent of cheap wine and cloves that filled the air of the establishment. Autumn weather and its accompanying indulgences usually lifted the thief’s spirits, but his brooding reflections had been hard to shake of late. Inadvertently, his eyes roamed the tavern surveying the possible exits, patrons, and of course, their coin purses ripe for the taking. Instincts of the trade.Abruptly, the thief froze. The tavern’s ambiance was completely deafened by one emerging detail. Deeply etched into the far end of the wooden table and filled with black dye was a simple carving, [XIII]. Several pale splinters along the edges marked the work as fresh. Disabling shock was replaced by hopeful curiosity. His mind raced. Have my comrades of the dark order returned? Were new faces to fill its ranks? Did the Red King assent to a resurgence? The questions battered the thief. Staring at the carving, he willed the stained grooves to answer. He thought furiously and grew more decisive with each passing second. False trail or not, he knew the truth led beyond the Leinster commonwealth. As almost-forgotten memories of raucous laughter began to lighten his mood, the thief vanished. Drune would hold the answers. He chuckled as he prepared for the journey. After all, the barkeep and his patrons had unknowingly financed it.
Faint tendrils of dark smoke drifted toward the eastern border of the elven city. A predatory grin spread across the thief’s face. He knew this territory well through many years spent plucking coin and cloth from nobles and prosperous tradesfolk. An ominous sign within these pristine walls meant only one thing: the rise of the Black Mercenaries