Well, it’s Veteran’s Day here in the USA. Restaurants are having specials for current and former members of the armed forces and stores are having their crazy Veteran’s Day sales. On television “Apocalypse Now” and “Saving Private Ryan” are running as if to give different points of view on warfare. I may sound old fashioned here but something seems to be missing. The commercialization of this holiday seems out of place. As a child we would have assemblies at school and read, “In Flanders’s Field”. Then we would have veterans talk about their experiences and we would all wear poppies. Granted, I was in Canada at the time but I would expect a greater show of remembrance here in America. I asked my daughter if they did anything at all in school today to honor Veteran’s Day and she said, “No but it is ‘Say no to drugs week’.” There were no services or speeches. A part of me just felt sad inside. I looked forward to seeing those poppies as a child and yet I wonder if it was ever done over here. This is a day to hold up our defenders and thank them for protecting us so we can go about our daily lives. It is a day to remember the many who have fallen in pursuit of that task. The military has touched nearly every family in the country including mine. I think they deserve more than just a sale at Payless Shoes.
Lord Mandrean walked hurriedly down the illustrious halls of
Marinhalk. Four soldiers of his imperial guard marched in tow.
Though the emperor’s mind focused on the health of General
Gramlick, he could not help but notice the flamboyant decorative
uniform of one of his guards. Falling back into the middle of the
group he sneered and commented. “It has been nearly two weeks
since I gave you the title of Commander of the imperial guard,
Acreas. Do you not think it is time to return to your normal
Commander Acreas was in front of his master but could display
his fiendish grin without fear of retribution. “This is a dream I
have worked hard to fulfill. In only two years as a member of the
guard, I have risen to become its leader. While Your Eminence
was the one who gave me my insignia, it was only after I had
defeated all challengers in the jousting tournament. This rank was
earned. I should think you would be pleased. Clearly my superior
breeding has produced a finely honed weapon in your arsenal.”
Mandrean begrudged every word knowing that Acreas was his
illegitimate son through Betrimpia, his first of over one-hundred
concubines. Everyone knew the lineage to be true. The emperor
simply would not acknowledge the boy’s birthright publicly for his
own reasons. “I care nothing for your ‘breeding’.” Mandrean
fibbed. “Your mother is the most annoying, bull-headed woman I
have ever known. Since you were old enough to walk, you have
had the most prized tutors and instructors in the empire.
Considering nearly all of the senior guardsmen were lost in
Trader’s Alley, it would have been stunning if you had not won the
contest for leadership.
“I still recall the gloating expression on your mother’s face
when you were given this command. She had the cold, wicked
glare of someone who had won a bet and was going to let her
money ride. To an emperor with a new commander of the guard,
that was a worrisome look. The guard’s main purpose, after all, is
to protect me against all others. Is this so with you and your men?”
Acreas could see the distrust in the emperor’s face as he
glanced back. The entire situation was a game to the youngest man
ever to be commander of the guard. He viewed his father with
contempt and hatred. Acreas had no delusions that the man he
served was anywhere close to his intellectual equal. Thus, the
“You have sent me to every battle since I joined the guard, and
the men trust me. They have sworn to follow my commands. In the
same way I have sworn to follow your orders, My Emperor.”
Acreas nodded his head with the statement.
Mandrean’s temper raged as he spun his commander around by
the shoulder and held the Blue Sapphire before his eyes. “Do not
toy with me, Child. I could destroy you with a single movement.
There is a voice in my head saying that would be wise. So test my
patience no further. Is everyone in the guard sworn to obey and
Acreas knew his father’s temper and unpredictability and
decided to end the game for now. He bowed in a humble manner
and gestured to the other guards to follow suit. “Fear not, My lord.
We have all sworn to live and die by your word.”
Mandrean’s nostrils flared as his anger continued to quell.
“Before we reconvene in the throne room, I want you in your
normal uniform, commander. Is that clear?”
“Perfectly,” Acreas answered. They resumed their journey
down the hall.
Necromancer saw his opportunity and re-entered the conversation. “Perhaps I can be of assistance, My Master,” he said in a humble tone. “You may recall I still hold dominion over many powerful beasts of this world. Several of them roam the Sorrowful Sea. With a single thought I could order them to patrol the north shore looking for those who humiliated your Highness. Not only will they instantly notify me of a sighting, they can also prevent Linvin’s troop from crossing the lake. They are older than time itself and are unaffected by magic. Linvin will be checked until your arrival.”
“My arrival?’ Mandrean repeated in surprise. “My armies will close in and finish this troublemaker. That will be his fate. He will be trapped between the sea and my troops. Then he will die.”
Necromancer began to circle his master’s throne ominously. “So after all he has done to you and the Empire, you will not take the glory of killing the usurper for yourself? You would rather leave it for some brainless goblin on the giving end of a lucky strike? In the meantime, how many soldiers do you think he will annihilate? My guess is at least two Divisions. Say goodbye to Romadon any time in the future.”
“Not to mention the point of killing Grithinshield was to save face on your part. Dispatching armies to deal with one man will be seen as killing a fly by dropping a wall upon it. To gain any credibility, you must be the one who drives his blade through the impudent scum.”
“Stirring words,” Mandrean said in jest. “You would like me to fight Linvin one on one, wouldn’t you? It would give you great pleasure to see me fall.”
“You preclude that Grithinshield will be victorious. My Master is a far better warrior than he concedes.”
“If anyone should hunt him down and kill him it should be you, Necromancer. You alone have the magic to defeat him.”
“My Lord,” Necromancer said as he returned to his placating voice. “My vanquishing Grithinshield will not redeem your honor. After all, of everything that was destroyed today, your reputation is the most devastating on the list. Think of it. Death was just a hand’s reach away when Linvin held you hostage. Had you not accidentally slipped when you did, we might very well not be holding this conversation. He led you to the door like a dog. The Emperor I serve would never let that go unpunished. Nor would his predecessors. The Emperor I serve would chase down the vermin and kill him like a dog.”
The words moved Mandrean, but common sense prevailed. “Even if I were to confront Linvin individually, he would turn me to ashes with the Red Sapphire. I cannot compete with its power.”
Necromancer walked behind the throne so Mandrean would not see his visible frustration. Then he paused and thought. In a moment he addressed the Emperor again. “Let us say, for just a moment, the Red Sapphire was not an issue. Would you have any reluctance to confront Linvin then? Or would you still be afraid of the man who was your prisoner only this morning?”
Mandrean’s ego kicked up to another level. “He would be no match for me in combat without the stone. If he did not have it I would gut him like a fish.”
Necromancer smiled. He folded his arms behind his back and hovered into the center of the room. “Your skills are definitely formidable. He is clearly not your equal. So if you had power equal to the Red Sapphire you would have no reluctance to battle Linvin in individual combat?”
“I have returned, Your Highness,” Linvin said as he lowered his head.
King Hardurian put his quaking hand gently under Linvin’s chin and raised it so that the two could look one another in the eye. “This is one day that I should be bowing to you, my young friend.
Arise, Linvin, defender of Valia, and be recognized.”
Deep in his soul, Linvin relished in the praise, but his heart was heavy and he could not enjoy the fruits of his labors.
“We had not expected you so soon,” King Hardurian said. “Word only just reached us of your victory.”
“There will be a celebration in your honor this evening,” an adviser said, while slapping Linvin on the shoulder.
“We are commissioning a statue of you to be chiseled of marble and set in the town square,” another said with a laugh.
“An etching in the Triumphal Arch will be carved.”
“Of course, there will be a victory parade once your men arrive, to celebrate your amazing wins.”
Such adoration would make many men feel pride and happiness, but for Linvin, each statement made him feel worse and worse. He had resigned to hold his tongue until he was alone with the king. However, at the utterance of the last sentence, rage welled within him and he could be quiet no longer.
“My men?” he asked. “Three days ago, I commanded the combined armies of Valia. Nearly 9000 soldiers marched into that swamp under my orders. I marched out with little more than a tenth of that number. Of those who live, perhaps as little as half will ever fight again, and for all that, you want to make a statue of me? You want a parade? You speak of glorifying me but in fact you are celebrating not having to be held accountable for your wrongdoings.”
The room was silent. Laughter had been replaced by shock. “How dare you come in here and say such things to those who would pay you homage,” snorted one of the noblemen. “The people in this room are the most powerful men in this country and yet you speak to us like children!”
“I did not seek to treat you as children,” Linvin said firmly. “For even children have more sense than you have shown over these years.”
The men were most indignant, though the king simply sat on his throne and tapped his finger on his lips. He looked like one who was watching a play to its conclusion.
Ah. Fall has come to Nebraska. I must always remind people that there are many more trees in this part of the state than most people think. As I look out my window I see nature’s majesty in the leaves on the trees and the ground below. The foliage is pained in hues of sun fire yellow, Macintosh Red and a blush of orange. To just take in the beauty as it sways in the autumn wind is a sight to behold. It reminds me of living back in Michigan where there were many more trees. There we would load the kids in the car and go driving in the woods. When we stopped, the children would collect the prettiest leaves to keep. We would place them in books to keep them straight and preserve them, just as my mother had taught me. As a child growing up in Port Huron, MI we had a wood in our back yard. My mother would take me for walks in the fall and I would collect leaves. I would pretend I was Winnie-the-Pooh on an adventure with Christopher Robbin in the Hundred Acre Wood. The prettiest leaves I gave to her as gifts. After a good walk we would return with our haul and place them between the pages of books. Sometimes we would look at old ones from years before and marvel at how wonderful they looked. My mother continued the practice with my own children years later. It’s sad now that I think about it. After both my parents passed away all those books were thrown in a dumpster. Perhaps it wasn’t the leaves that were so important but the memories of collecting them. Those were special times and I cherish them in my heart. It is because of my mother that I went leaf collecting with my children. Now I sit in my subdivision where everyone has at least one tree…except for me. That’s right. I still have not procured a tree. As I have stated before in my blog, trees I buy always seem to die. I get advice from the tree guy. I read up on the different trees. Yet once I have one planted, it always seems to die. I see sale after sale go by during the year and think about it but can’t bring myself to pull the trigger. So the only leaves I get are the ones that blow into my yard. I look at them, all dried and colorless and feel saddened. And so I sit and look out my window at the beautiful leaves in my neighbor’s yards and remember going on those adventures with my mom and my kids.
With darkness having overtaken the light for control of the sky,
Linvin galloped to the door of his uncle. He had not yet stepped
down from the saddle when he noticed the holes in the roof of the
domicile. Linvin pulled the staff from his back and rapidly
dismounted. Rushing to the front door, he found it ajar. With a
strong kick, he cast it open and leapt into the room.
The inside was destroyed with walls and furnishings splintered
and strewn about. It was dark save for a globe of glowing magic in
the middle of the room that was nearly as big as Linvin. He
approached and viewed the sphere. It was completely transparent.
“Anvar!” he called. “Anvar, are you here?”
The sphere responded in Necromancer’s voice. “Touch the orb
and you will have the answers you seek.” Though Necromancer
was the last person Linvin would trust, his combination of fear and
curiosity compelled him to follow the directions.
When his skin made contact with the magic, he was instantly
standing in the Mandrean Throne Room. No one was there other
than Necromancer. Linvin drew on his power and glowed furiously
with his red aura.
Necromancer sneered. “There is no need for that here,
Grithinshield. You are inside the globe and none of this is real. It is
an illusion to make a point clear to your primitive mind. I am not
here, but I was at your uncle’s home. We…had words. He is now
our guest in Marinhalk. That leads me to my next point. There is
someone with a very important message for you.” He vanished like
sand caught in the wind. In his place appeared Lord Mandrean the
Thirteenth with Anvar bloodied in his magical prison at his feet.
Linvin’s first thought was one of fury. Then he remembered
himself and stood tall. “How are you alive?” Linvin asked. “I
killed you two years ago.”
Mandrean smiled as he folded his arms. “You nearly did but
Necromancer was good enough to save me. It seems you do not
finish your work as well as you think. From your appearance, I
would say my assassins were unsuccessful at ending your life.
Apparently I do not finish my work well, either. That is about to
change. As it turns out, you being alive right now is that much
better for me.
“You are an expensive adversary, Linvin. You kill my best
assassins, killed legions of my soldiers, soiled my palace and
burned half of my capital. The time has come for you to pay for
“And you have killed my father and mother,” Linvin yelled as
his anger swelled at the sight of the sad state of his uncle. “You
tried to kill me, my cousins and Anvar. Now you have taken Anvar
prisoner? Let us fight now. I will not leave your death to chance
this time around.”
“All in good time,” Mandrean answered with a grin. “You see, I
needed something to make my magic your equal. It was your
magical advantage alone that allowed you to prevail over me in the
valley.” He held the rod with the blue sapphire sparkling at its tip
in one hand and the staff in the other. “It seems your uncle had
been hiding the staff all this time so that I might not have the
power I deserve. One of you will pay for that and the other crimes
against me. Now that my power is complete, I will face you and
destroy you. I will do so in this room you see projected before you
so my subjects will see that I am indeed the better man.
“When this message ends you will find a golden tablet with
writings carved into its surface you cannot comprehend. It is a
guarantee of safe passage anywhere in my empire. Take it and
proceed with all haste to Marinhalk. Since you took so long to
reach me last time, I shall even give you a longer period to arrive.
Here in the north, the frost will soon leave the ground. If you do
not present yourself to me in this room before the frost returns, I
will fillet your uncle like a fish. If you dare to come, then I will
spare your uncle and let him go. You will take his place. His blood
is in your hands now, Linvin. Come take your punishment or he
will take it for you. But don’t make me wait too long. I am not
known for my patience.”
With a blinding flash, Linvin stood in the darkness of Anvar’s
shattered home with a gold bar at his feet. Linvin bent down and
lifted the tablet. Tears rolled down his face as he realized that his
actions were causing his uncle to suffer. Pulling himself together,
he ran to his horse and raced for his manor by the moonlight.
I recall no message from you, Linvin thought. The idea just came into my mind.
Yes, Master, the Red Sapphire noted. It was I who gave you the idea. I knew you wanted to enter the building unnoticed and so I implanted the concept.
Then you can control my mind? Linvin asked in distress.
Not at all, Master. I can only give suggestions. Remember, I serve you. Once you have learned the full breadth of your power, you will need no advice from me.” Well then, Linvin thought. Tell me everything about you and how to use your power.
The expanse of knowledge you will receive may be too much for you to comprehend at one time. For that reason I will tell you what you need to know for now. I see from reading your mind that you have bits and pieces of history, which do not all fit into place. Let me start there.
What your Uncle said was true about the Maker giving too much magic to too few people. The world fell into chaos in its infancy. It was then the Maker crafted the Prism of the Cosmos. He used it to disperse magic into its various colors and among a variety of people. In order to prevent any one magician from becoming too powerful he made his or her bodies the channeling device for magic. That power we call magic is in nature all around us. To harness that power a magician must channel it through his body and release it from his hands. Doing so is very taxing of frail humanoid bodies. Thus, the more power the magician channels, the more fatigued he or she becomes. The limits of the magician’s mortality are the limits of their power. It is also the reason a magician with his hands bound is powerless. They cannot disperse the magic they channel without free use of their hands.
After the Maker was finished with the Dissemination of Magic he was ridiculed by the Dark Lord. The Evil One accused him of being too generous with his gifts to his creations. The Maker countered that all of those he had made were given free will. Any additional gifts they were given would be used at the discretion of the recipient. The Dark Lord further insulted the Maker’s creations. He said that they were inherently evil and would show that he was right if magicians did not have the limits placed upon them for using their power.
The Maker knew the Dark One was trying to manipulate him into removing the restrictions and would not change his children. Instead he challenged the Dark Lord. From each end of the sapphire Prism he would dislodge one piece in the form of a magic gem. One he would let the Dark Lord give whatever mandate he wished to and the other he would inscribe with his desires for the world. Both would be sapphires of equal power. The unique part about them would be that the gems would choose the masters who could best carry out their mission.
The Maker took the stone from the red end of the prism. He gave me my mandate. The Dark Lord was given a Blue Sapphire. Into it he instilled his hatred of all life and desire for ultimate power. If the Dark Lord could not rule the Cosmos, he felt perhaps his influence could in part allow him to rule this world.
Linvin was stunned. Is there a Blue Sapphire with just as much power as you? he asked.
Fantasy fiction is my passion. This series embodies my love for a good story and action. You will find it to be many things, but not boring! Read what you love and love what you read...