Dark Descent: Aldan's Story

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Dark Descent: Aldan's Story

MsMarvelDuckie
Inhuman
Joined: 28 Nov 2007, 20:55

16 Feb 2011, 06:51 #1

Well, I finally got around to posting this, since at least one of the related tales is nearly finished. Not only does it give me an excuse to finish this one, but it will (hopefully) give readers of the other to tales in the series some insight on the character who plays such a huge part in both those stories, even though he is mainly off-stage in both. So- without further ado.....



Dark Descent


Chronicler’s note: This tome is an account of the rise and fall of “King” Aldan the Dark, the most notorious Argonian pirate Lord ever to plague the Eastern Lands. Although its veracity cannot be completely verified, it was originally scribed in Auld Elvish, the language of Aldan’s original race, with later parts in the peculiar elvish dialect called drowish, which many scholars now agree is its own language, due to the length of time the two tongues have been separated.

After reading the account, I have decided that aside from a few obviously added embellishments, the tale is reasonably accurate as written by the anonymous scribe who penned it- known to me only as L. E.. The scribe assures me that it is in fact true, being written mostly from intimate first-hand knowledge, and therefore should be included in our historical records. How L. E. acquired such knowledge is a tale I would like to learn someday, but he (she?) steadfastly refuses to reveal his or her identity or source, and should therefore be included in our historical records It tells of an individual with great ambition, hubris, and cunning, as well as a peculiar lack of the social mores normally inherent in the race who call themselves Quessir, known to all others as elves. As such, it is an interesting study in aberrant behavior in a member of that usually restrained and gentle race.

I hope one day to coax L. E. into revealing his- and I’m fairly certain by the tone and style of our coorespondance that it is indeed a he- identity and perhaps shed some light on how and where he came by this information. That might prove an interesting account in itself. However, he seems content to remain anonymous, and I have agreed to respect his wishes- though of course, I have made a few discreet inquiries of the courier who delivers the missives containing his accounts to me as to whom he receives them from.

Unfortunately, all the courier can say is that his employer is always cloaked, but is well-dressed, and speaks with a voice that is young and educated. I had already deduced the latter, given his fluent use of not only the common trade language, but of Auld Elvish and drowish as well. Given certain recent events here in Almin, and the rumors that a band of Argonians was recently in the region searching for something- someone, perhaps?- I believe that L. E. may actually hail from there. If so, he may have good reason to hide his identity. Interestingly, he has also sent me the sheet-music for several original tunes, and they are quite good. All of them were signed with his initials, in the same distinctive hand. It would seem that he fancies himself something of a musician or poet. These I have also submitted into record, as they represent the work of a talented song-writer, and should be preserved for that reason.


Submitted into record this fifteenth of Jerradeth, 19,506 A.S., by Luigino Tertian Asplepias, Senior Chronicler of the Great Library of Almin





Beginnings

14,385 A.S.- Eldris


Melaeryn smiled as he strolled down the Queen’s Road toward the High Mages’ Tower. His youngest son Tethin had just been inducted to the ranks of the Twilight Blades, the Queen’s own personal guards. It was a position of distinction and trust, granted only to those who had proven themselves loyal and honorable. Melaeryn was proud of the lad, as he was of all his children, but duty called. Though he wished he could be present for the ceremony, there were other matters to attend.

He breathed in the crisp morning air, which smelled of early spring flowers and the promise of rain later in the day. Already the sky had begun to grow overcast. Melaeryn passed by the Wolf Moon Inn, and thought briefly of stopping for a quick cup of moondrop wine. He paused in his journey, then shook his head and continued. The wine could wait until after he spoke to the Lord High Mage.

Melaeryn was Lord Speaker and High Mage of the Elterrinos clan, one of the most ancient and well-respected noble lines of Eldris, indeed, in all of the Silver Kingdom. It was even said that his family had been one of the first to come to Anterris from the world beyond, in the time of the First God War. As Speaker, it was his duty to oversee the affairs of his family, and to serve the kingdom. A cool breeze ruffled through his long silvery grey hair, and billowed his fine grey cloak.

He gave a nod to the two guards at the gates of the Tower courtyard, then pulled out his Tower key and spoke the mystic command to open the crystal doors. He touched the key to the doors, and they parted for him. The Tower steward, Talarn Rivvenmyst, bowed politely to the Speaker as he entered, giving him a questioning look.

“My Lord? Do you require my assistance?”

“No, Talarn, I am here to speak with Master Relvlorn. He sent a messenger to summon me- and on Tethin’s induction day, of all times.” His tone made it clear that he was annoyed, but he refrained from snapping at the steward. It was not Talarn’s fault, after all.

“Ah, yes. I had heard. Congratulations, Lord Speaker, and may the Elterrinos star continue to rise.” The young steward bowed again after giving the customary acknowledgement, and withdrew as Melaeryn began the climb up the long stairway to the Lord High Mage’s sanctum.

Melaeryn opened the door to the sanctum and waited for the Tower Master to wave him in. He entered the room and gave Master Relvlorn a courteous nod, then the Lord High Mage strode over to Melaeryn with an offered hand and a warm smile.

“Greetings, Lord Elterrinos. I am sorry to have to pull you away from Tethin’s ceremony, but this could not wait, my friend.”

The other elf waved aside the apology, shaking his head, and clasped the older mage’s hand. “Think nothing of it, Master Relvlorn. Though it is indeed a high honor, and I am saddened to miss it, my duty to Queen and People comes first, as always. Now, what is this matter you wish to speak of?”

“Talk of strange goings on, among other things. The Council is pushing for our new Queen to marry, but she will not choose a consort. They want her to join with one of the Aquillian noble houses in order to bring the city-states back into the Silver Kingdom. They say the elven lands must be reunited, or our People will never withstand the encroachment of the human kingdoms. You are needed, my friend. I am sending you as an emissary to Aquillia, to see what can be done about convincing the noble families to rejoin the Silver Kingdom and unify our People once more. They have been allied with the humans too long, I fear. Please, go and make them see reason.”

Melaeryn frowned, and began to pace thoughtfully. He had long known of the building tensions between the Queen and the Council. The newly crowned Queen Zara had recently begun pressing the council to increase trade with the surrounding human lands, in an effort to forestall the threat of war as the short-lived but prolific race of men sought out new lands for their farms and cities. Zara Elrin was young, but she showed wisdom in her understanding of the problems facing the Mith Quessir. If some sort of accord could not be found, the ancient and majestic trees of Silverwood might be razed by the humans. The forest had stood since before the first elves had set foot upon the face of Anterris, yet now the ever-increasing numbers of men threatened to force them from their ancestral homes.

“I understand the need for solidarity, Master Relvlorn, but do you really believe that a simple political marriage will solve the problem? I happen to agree with Her Majesty; we will never win if it comes to war with the humans. There are simply too many of them. We’ve grown too complacent, too set in our ways. No, the Aquillians have the right idea. If we cannot beat the humans, we must befriend them and guide them away from their destructive ways. Queen Zara knows this.”

“Then you will not go? I am disappointed, my old friend. I had hoped you would see the need for such a reunion.”

“I did not say that I would not go, Lord High Mage. Only that I believe we must adapt and change if our homeland and People are to survive. Orc hordes have been amassing in the Blackstone Mountains. They present a far greater threat than the humans ever could. Already the city-states have brought peace and understanding among the humans and Quessir of the Aquillian Accord. They are a race of children, Master Relvlorn, and children must be taught. With guidance, I believe the humans can learn to respect the life and spirit of the land.”

“Be that as it may, you must try to convince them to rejoin our nation. Too much is at stake. I will expect you to leave as soon as you are able.” The Lord High Mage spoke with such finality that Melaeryn knew the discussion was over. He sighed, nodded, and then bowed as he turned to leave.

“As you wish- though I doubt it will do any good. The Silver Accord has its own ways of doing things, and they dislike interference.” He said over his shoulder with a scowl. “Good day, old friend. I must be getting ready now. I will leave in two days.”

He left the tower then, stalking angrily out into the cool spring morning. He had never expected to be asked to make a long journey to perform a task he knew to be fruitless, just so a bunch of old fools could pretend that they knew what was best for the elven nation, when it was clear that they were out of touch with the world at large. Melaeryn knew better than many the ways of men. They were ambitious, to be sure, but certainly capable of learning wisdom and restraint. Why could the elders not see that? If they ever left their high towers and ancient manors, they might understand that the Aquillians had the right idea. Already they had forged a treaty that gave the humans a stake in the region of Silverwood that ran east of the Gandyrrin River. They had built homes and protective walls along the border of the Blackstone range, helping to guard the precious forest from raiding orcs and goblins.
"Well, this is another fine myth you've gotten us into..."
-from "Myth Directions"

"Where Science ends, magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491
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MsMarvelDuckie
Inhuman
Joined: 28 Nov 2007, 20:55

18 Feb 2011, 04:42 #2

And- introducing......



As he strode back through the magnificent living city, with its crystalline spires, towering tree-manors, and living bowers of vine, root, and earthen mounds, he decided that perhaps now would be a good time for that drink he’d contemplated before. He stopped when he came to the Wolf Moon once more, and entered the cozy stone and wood structure, a scowl on his handsome features. The inn’s proprietor, Jeirliss, was a tall, yet portly elf with blue-black hair that was kept short save for a pair of braids on either side, and eyes the color of dark amethysts. He nodded to Melaeryn briefly as he cleaned some mugs, then turned to answer an over-loud patron who had called for another drink.

The Elterrinos clan’s Lord Speaker glanced at the other patrons, wondering who could possibly be so deep in his cups this early in the day. He gave a gasp of surprise when he saw that it was none other than his own son Aldan. Aldan was the eldest of the four offspring of Melaeryn and his fair Lady Arlyndrin, an elf of lean yet well-muscled stature, his eyes- like those of most of the Elterrinos family- a shade of blue that reminded those who saw him of a clear winter sky, or perhaps glacial ice. They were as cool as ice, too, always sizing up everyone around him, as if he was searching for something in them. His tied-back steel-grey hair and quiet manner made him seem more somber than any other elf Melaeryn knew.

“Hello, father, I didn’t expect you to come here. Did the meeting not go as you hoped?” Aldan greeted him with cool civility, already knowing the answer, but wanting to hear it from his sire’s own mouth. He had already heard from his own source within the Tower what the meeting with the Lord High Mage would be about, and was anxiously awaiting his chance to be put in charge of the estate while Melaeryn was away.

The older elf turned to gaze at his son with an irritated expression. “Aldan, It would please me immensely to see you putting your time to better use than sitting in here drinking away the day. Haven’t you anything better to do than listening to drunken bards and exercising that insatiable libido of yours?” He knew he sounded snappish, but at the moment, Melaeryn was more concerned with his son’s reputation for indiscreet debauchery than with answering the question.

Aldan was a fine warrior, to be sure, skilled in the arts of the blade and bow. He was less gifted in magic than many elves, preferring his blades over the more subtle art of spellcraft. He enjoyed going out on long hunts with other young lordlings, tracking down dangerous beasts that happened to wander into the lands of the Mith’ Quessir. He was ambitious, too, for he had already begun to climb the ranks of the Ahk'Velarn, though perhaps not as fast as his brother had. Aldan seemed to chafe at that insult, as though he despised his youngest sibling for being better at anything than he was.

Aldan was proud; perhaps too much so, Melaeryn thought, not for the first time. The eldest of his offspring felt himself above all others, for his lineage, his privileged place within the family as Heir, and for his prowess at arms. Lately he had begun to seek among the young ladies of the Court for a future bride, but even in this, he seemed uncommonly ambitious. He distained any ladies who were below the Elterrinos family in station- a fact which had left many potential young mates out in the cold, as it were. Only five other Houses were above them, save the royal family itself. Melaeryn had begun to wonder if Aldan fancied a union with the Queen herself. A dangerous desire, to be sure. It hinted at other, less elven traits, of the sort that had, in ages long past, resulted in the rift between many Houses and their kin.

“Tell me, father,” the younger elf replied after a long moment, “when do you leave?” The question, spoken plainly and without apology, took the Elterrinos Lord by surprise. He had not been aware that his eldest son knew the purpose of his meeting, but apparently, he was well informed in such matters. Melaeryn made a mental note to discover whose tongue had been wagging, and squash the leak. Aldan seemed all too eager to see him off- no doubt so he could act in his stead while he was away. The elder elf sighed, wondering if he should put Ildebryn in charge instead. His second-born son was not as strong or capable a warrior, but he was levelheaded, and well liked, and in any case, Melaeryn did not expect any battles in his absence.

“Two days, since you are so interested. For one who has no interest in magic, you seem remarkably well-informed about matters arcane.” He said pointedly. Aldan merely shrugged, with a slight smirk on his thin lips.

“I make it a point to know everything of interest in the kingdom, Father- which is why our estates have flourished so well, when others have been drained of resources by the problems with the humans to the south. I have made discreet inquiries regarding the situation in Aquillia, and I happen to know that the Queen has no intention of entering into a political marriage. Your journey is both pointless and unnecessary. Queen Zara approves of their example, and wishes to emulate it within the kingdom- a move which likely will not endear her to the Council or the Houses.”
Melaeryn scowled. Clearly, his eldest was far better informed of matters of state than he had suspected, and had some manner of informant network. Melaeryn wondered just what his son knew, and what he meant to do with that knowledge. Melaeryn decided that perhaps it was time to have a long talk with his eldest son about just what he knew, and how. It was also past time Aldan’s ambitions were curbed, he thought, before they became dangerous to himself and to the family.

“I see. Well, since you seem so well informed, perhaps you won’t mind accompanying me?” He replied, though his tone and expression left no doubt that he intended it as a command. Aldan’s icy blue eyes flashed with a dangerous glare for the briefest instant- enough for Melaeryn to wonder if he had truly seen it- then danced with an almost merry light.

“Why, father! If I go with you, who will watch over our interests here? Surely you don’t expect Tethin to do it- he’s going to be far too busy with his new duties. And need I remind you that as popular as Ildebryn is, he has little head for politics or business? With this year’s wines nearly ready for sale, someone ought to be here who knows how to handle things. That is why you have been schooling me in such matters, is it not?” Aldan smiled smugly, and Melaeryn knew he had been somehow maneuvered into precisely the position his son wanted. He made a mental note to be more wary of the youth’s cleverness in the future.

“And what of your sister?” Melaeryn asked, hoping to catch his eldest-born off guard. “She has a keen mind, and is good with people. Perhaps I will leave her in charge.”

The steel-haired elf laughed outright. “Nyritha? Please- she’s far too timid. She would be easily cheated, and we both know it.”

Melaeryn silently cursed to himself, realizing that his son was right, much as he might hate it. He sighed, beaten. When had Aldan grown so shrewd? He wondered. “Very well, I will leave you to see to matters while I am away. See to it that everything runs smoothly. And Aldan-” he said, turning away, with a last look at the cunning young elf, “in the future, you might do well to keep in mind whom is Lord Speaker of the Elterrinos clan.”

At that, he flung his cloak behind him, and strode out of the tavern, with an air of confident strength that he did not truly feel. Melaeryn had a growing suspicion that his eldest son might even have designs on his own place within the family, though he was certain the youth would never have the audacity to act on them. All knew the price for treachery in the Silver Kingdom. Eons ago, there had been a mass uprising of ambitious and mal-content nobles from more than a dozen clans in Sylvaerendaar alone, as well as several houses in Whisperwood and Duskwood, which had been put down only after the guilty elves had been cursed by their own gods for daring to raise arms against their own kin. The conflict had come to be known as the Elfwood Wars, and the retaliatory strikes a few centuries later by the outcast houses cursed in the First Banishing had caused terrible disasters across the face of Anterris.

Those wars had caused the expansion of the Arian Desert to nearly three times its original size, and had destroyed several ancient cities. The last and greatest battle had been fought between the young race of dark elves and a human realm nearly four centuries after the Banishing. In the end, the dhaeraow who had invaded the trade center of Delagorn had perished along with their intended victims, fallen prey to a curse unleashed by desperate priests of Sorden which had prevented any from ever leaving the city- even in death.

From the time of the Banishing on, any elf found guilty of treason against the People, or who committed terrible crimes like murder and rape against fellow Quessir, were immediately subjected to the same curse as those long-ago elves who had fallen into worshipping dark powers and making war on their brethren. The price of betrayal was harsh, but it was the only way to truly ensure that the taint of such evil would never again touch the proud elven people. At least, that was the theory. Unfortunately, some black-hearted elves still occasionally cropped up, though none could say why. And every few centuries or so, another elf would be added to the ranks of the Nameless Cursed, banished from entering any elven lands, his existence forever wiped from the records of all Quessir.

“Don’t worry, father, I will. I certainly will.” Aldan said after the elder male had left, his icy blue gaze lingering on the door. Then he calmly picked up his glass, examining the clear, dark red liquid within, and suddenly began to laugh darkly. The sound brought a few uncomfortable stares from other morning tavern-goers.
"Well, this is another fine myth you've gotten us into..."
-from "Myth Directions"

"Where Science ends, magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491
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Joined: 27 Nov 2007, 17:07

11 Mar 2011, 09:27 #3

I got the first issue read, fine attention to detail as always my dear!
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MsMarvelDuckie
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Joined: 28 Nov 2007, 20:55

04 Apr 2011, 05:10 #4

Thanks! Did you read the second part yet? Let me know what you think of him. I'm still sort of fleshing out his early years.


Side-note: As with Darksong and Golden Flame, the dates in this tale are AS, which is short-hand for "After Sundering", referring to the Sundering of the drow from the rest of the Elven people. Thus, all the dates refer to this event, since elven historical record is the oldest form of such record-keeping in Anterris.
"Well, this is another fine myth you've gotten us into..."
-from "Myth Directions"

"Where Science ends, magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491
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Joined: 27 Nov 2007, 17:07

04 Apr 2011, 08:47 #5

I just read the second chapter this morning. It`s very enjoyable and the characters are easy to relate to as well!
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MsMarvelDuckie
Inhuman
Joined: 28 Nov 2007, 20:55

04 Apr 2011, 16:30 #6

Thanks. I wasn't sure if they were. Though aldan might not be, lol!! He's one BAD-BOY elf! (We'll see just HOW bad, later....)
"Well, this is another fine myth you've gotten us into..."
-from "Myth Directions"

"Where Science ends, magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491
Reply
Like

MsMarvelDuckie
Inhuman
Joined: 28 Nov 2007, 20:55

11 Apr 2011, 04:08 #7

Okay! Got some more done on this one, and I hope it pleases! First, a small lesson in elvish language for the uninitiated.

Melamin- "my love". a common endearment.
A'meal- "beloved". a bit more personal than the above
A'maelamin- "my beloved". truly personal endearment, intended for intimate relationships.

All of these can be interchanged, but I used them here to show the deep bond between Melaeryn and Arlybdrin. Elves often form very intimate mental bonds with a mate or other loved one, called rapport. It allows them to sense each other's feelings and basic well-being over distances, and to share emotions very much like telempathy. (Not mind-reading, but HEART-reading.)






Two days later, Melaeryn left his home on his best moon horse steed, along with a small retinue of servants and guards, as well as his Lady wife Arlyndrin, who had decided to join him to see the city of Aquillia for herself to determine whether all the stories she had heard were true. In truth, Melaeryn was glad to have her along. Arlyndrin was as light of heart and as kind and gentle now, in her fourth century, as she had been as a maid of ninety when they had wed. There were those who might call her flighty, but they were the ones who did not truly know her. Those who knew Arlyndrin well would have called her effervescent.

Arlyndrin had a joyful and spontaneous nature, a keen sense of humor, and a voice that could charm birds from the trees. Far from the inane chatter some elven women were given to, she was fond of observant and insightful discourse on things she had heard or seen, or even random notions that struck her fancy. Her laugh was infectious, and her smile could melt hearts- in short, she was the perfect foil for Melaeryn’s often serious and pragmatic demeanor.

They observed the traditional custom of leave-taking- a long, and to his mind unnecessary string of farewells and small journey tokens from every member of the house- and then set out on the road out of Eldris to the West, through the huge living gates that were in fact treants who acted as both gate and guardian. The small procession made its way out of the capitol city, past towering manors formed from the trees themselves, intricate bridges made of vine and branches grown into artistic shapes to connect tree-towers above the narrow roads, and even a few buildings made of stone and metal, though even these were shaped into beautiful designs wrought by elven magic.

Once out onto the road that led westward through Sylvaerendaar to the Aquillian Confederacy, he breathed a heavy sigh, a strange foreboding weighing down on his heart. Riding beside him on a pure white unicorn mare with golden tassels and a row of pale sapphires studding its reins and bridle, Arlyndrin turned at the sound, and regarded him with a puzzled look. Ever sympathetic to her mate’s feelings- as she had been since the day centuries ago when they had formed their rapport- she nudged her mount closer, and reached out to gently brush his cheek with light fingers.

“Fret not, melamin. I am certain that this journey will prove fruitful in some fashion, even if not as intended. Perhaps we will find others who believe as you do, to form a diplomatic partnership.”

“It is not that, dearest- well, not just that- but somehow I cannot help but think I have made a terrible mistake in leaving Aldan in authority. He had become most- ambitious, of late. I fear there is a burning frustration in him that ma lead him into trouble. Where did we go so wrong with him?” He turned to meet her gaze, worry furrowing his usually smooth brow.

“He is restless, a’mael. I think perhaps he has a warrior’s heart, but there is no one to fight. So he turns his desires toward fighting that which he feels is no longer needed. Yet he hasn’t the wisdom of centuries yet to understand why we live as we do. Give it time, Melaeryn. He will learn restraint if directed gently.” Arlyndrin smiled, confident in her belief that her eldest son simply needed guidance to become the Quessir his father had always hoped he would be.

“I certainly hope you are right, a’maelamin. Yet I cannot help having this very bad feeling….” He trailed off, not wishing to voice his real suspicions. They were too terrible, too shameful.


Aldan watched dutifully as his father’s small entourage of escorts and provisions rode out of sight down the road. The moment they were out of sight, he whirled on his heels, and strode back into the giant gleaming crystalline spire that was the central tower of House Elterrinos- a fifty-five foot tall, faceted blue crystal which sprang from the earth, cupped between the twin trunks of a massive silver oak whose branches formed the two outer towers. The central crystal spire- nearly as wide as it was tall, at forty feet- held the main manor itself, with the lowest level forming a grand entrance hall and the family chapel to the elven gods, the middle two levels being used for entertaining and official business of the family, and the two upper levels kept for the family’s private reverie chambers, a library and study, and even a small magical laboratory for Melaeryn. The two trunks of the oak held an aerial garden, guest chambers, servants’ quarters, and storage areas, and the branches formed small bridges into the upper levels of the central spire, with the ends reaching around to provide relief from the full sun as well as a measure of privacy, while leaving the lower two open to the light of day.

Aldan had gritted his teeth as he wished his parents well in their journey, secretly hoping they would be beset by bandits or a rogue dragon which might have somehow slipped past the border patrols. He watched as his annoyingly dutiful and honorable youngest brother promised to make his father proud in his new position in the Twilight Blades, trying very hard to keep from rolling his eyes in disgust. He hated Tethin, though he could hardly say why. Perhaps it was the younger Quessir’s ability to excel at almost every venture he attempted. Or perhaps it was simply because he thought of him as the most likely rival for his place as Heir to the family. Perhaps most grating of all, Tethin was nearly always surrounded by a flock of maidens eager for his attention. And he was more than willing to give it to them, from the rumors Aldan had heard.
"Well, this is another fine myth you've gotten us into..."
-from "Myth Directions"

"Where Science ends, magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491
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MsMarvelDuckie
Inhuman
Joined: 28 Nov 2007, 20:55

03 Aug 2012, 00:37 #8

Ildebryn was less of a threat, yet even the possibility of his friendly and easy-going brother ascending in his stead galled him. The second-born of Aldan’s siblings spent far too much time studying the arcane arts, or joining in lively converse on esoteric or philosophical subjects with many of the young elves of the various families of the royal court. Worse, he had an annoying habit of taking every opportunity to play upon his favorite golden flute, to the delight of the young maidens- and Aldan’s eternal disgust. He found such pursuits trivial and useless, at best.

His sister Nyritha was even worse, in his estimation. A sweet, kind-hearted lass barely into her ninth decade, she spent her time composing songs and poems, playing her harp, or tending to her small menagerie of animals in the atrium. She had many friends among the other noble ladies of the court, and many prospective suitors, none of whom seemed to interest her. She was a romantic fool, he thought, who followed the goddesses Elrinya, the Lady of the Woods, and Elaria, Mistress of Art. He had little use for those simpering goddesses, and even less for those who paid them homage. Love and poetry were worthless, making fools out of those without the ambition to seize opportunities for greatness.

Aldan entertained visions of a vast empire ruled by the Quessir, as it had been in days long before the humans had crawled out of their filthy caves wielding their first crude weapons. He wanted to conquer the lands of the humans, to reclaim all that they had whittled away from the Quessir and build his great kingdom on the broken bones and shattered swords of the human vermin. To that end, he had begun making discreet inquiries at court, seeking to discover which families held the closest ties to the throne, and which maiden would be most useful to his purpose.

Thus far, he had narrowed down his choices to three young ladies. All had blood-ties to the royal House Elrin and the recently crowned Queen- he had for a short time envisioned wedding the naive Zara and thus taking the throne in one deft move, until he had discovered that as idealistic as she was, the lovely young Queen had a keen intellect and a mind of her own, which would no doubt prove difficult to manipulate. Instead, he had decided to seek his bride elsewhere, from among her cousins within the other noble houses.

Of the three he had his eye on, the lovely yet vacuous Gloranna Amistar was closest in relation to the royal line, but her family had little real influence at court. The Amistars were mainly a family of jewelers and stone mages, using their lapidary skills to create magical gems and baubles. It was said that their distant ancestors had created the first Telu’ Kirras, powerful Lore Gems such as the one Aldan’s father wore. The wealth of the Amistar estate might well aid his plans, though Gloranna had five siblings, all of them older, which presented problems of gaining control of it.

He thought next of the next choice on his small list of potential mates- Lianella Duelethyn, the oldest daughter of a clan of warriors and masters of the bow. Her family was high in the favor of the Queen, for their generations of loyal service as protectors of the kingdom. The only problem was Lianella herself- an accomplished bladesinger with little use for politics, whose loyalty to the crown bordered on fanatic. She was shrewd enough to recognize all but the most subtle of ploys, and could bring his plans crashing down if she discovered them. Still, her family had the ear of the Queen herself, so perhaps it would be worth the risk.

His last choice- for several reasons- was a quiet, shy young maid named Sarashae Mistraven. She was soft-spoken, even mousy, with large doe-eyes of a pale silver-gray. She was intelligent enough to be tolerable, and biddable enough to be easily controlled, and her favorite pastime seemed to be gardening. Her only real asset, as Aldan saw it, was that her family were among the most powerful wizards in Eldris, with two relatives sitting on both the High Council and the Circle of High Magic. With that kind of power, he could perhaps afford to overlook her lack of personality.

He was halfway to the entrance to the Elterrinos tower when he heard the light step of someone coming up behind him. He turned, and scowled to see his youngest brother trotting to catch up to him. Aldan gave the silver-haired youth a disdainful glance, and continued on, ignoring Tethin’s approach.

“Hail, brother! Light laughter to you. You were not at the Ceremony two days past. Did you forget?” He asked teasingly, clapping his sibling’s back.

“Not for lack of trying. Much wind comes from your mouth.” Aldan replied sourly. He felt a vague satisfaction at his brother’s startled pause at the minor insult. “You’ll forgive me, of course, if I was less than eager to go watch you be awarded yet another honor, one which should have been mine.”

Tethin looked hurt, wondering what had brought about such a change of demeanor in his usually civil brother. “Aldan, surely you do not mean that. And perhaps such honors would be yours if you would work harder on your fencing, and less on- whatever it is you do. For that matter, you could stand to have a bit of fun now and again. It’s unseemly for a Quessir to be so dour all the time- are you certain you’re not a beardless dwarf?” He tossed a gentle barb back at his sibling, never one to be outdone.

“Fun? My dear Tethin, my idea of fun extends only to bedding weak-willed wenches- preferably with as little converse as possible involved, hunting whatever is foolish enough to get in front of my bow, and increasing the status and wealth of our clan in the interests of returning our People to the glory they knew before humans began infesting this land. Now, if you’ve no other adle-witted questions, I’ve things to do, such as managing our family’s affairs while Father is away.” With a curt nod, he dismissed the younger Elterrinos male, leaving Tethin gaping at the sudden turn of character.

Once back within the familiar walls of his home, Aldan stepped onto the levitating disk that would take him up to his own spacious quarters. It was here, at a small desk of dark apple wood, that he made his plans for the eventual expansion of Sylvaerendaar and the extermination of the humans who lived in Auld Alron to the south, and the Federation de’ Yarmino which had recently begun encroaching on the western borders of the Aquillian Confederacy. Perhaps he might even one day begin to build a great wall to keep out all who might attempt to invade his homeland.

Such plans were for the future, however. At present, his greatest concern was the monthly tally of wine bottles to be carted over the Blackstone Mountains to distant lands for trade. It continually amazed him that his own people could trade with the very vermin who hacked away at their homeland with axes, and cleared land once verdant and lush for their simple farms. Humans. As much as he hated them, he had to admit that they were occasionally useful, particularly when it came to getting things done that most Quessir would never soil their hands with.

He eased back into the down-filled cushions of his chair, pulling a large, thick journal from a drawer of the desk. It contained his private thoughts and plans, many of which might have earned him a spot within the Circle of Judgment if they were known. He took up a quill and dipped it in the ever-full bottle of ink upon the desk, and began to record what had transpired, and his personal musings on what sort of ill fortunes he wished upon his family. That was the crux of it, after all. He hated them all, for their soft, weak minds, their lack of vision or discipline, for their foolish adherence to out-dated traditions and taboos, and most of all, for their naïve idealism and faith in boring, worthless gods. If he ever gained the throne, that would all change. He could see a day when the Mith Quessir were a force to be respected and feared by human, dwarf, and orc alike.

It was with reluctance that he set the journal back in its place, hidden beneath a false bottom within the desk drawer, and pulled out one of the many ledgers for the family winery’s records. The Elterrinos had long ago perfected the secret of making a unique wine they called Bloodfire, for its deep, rich red color, and the tiny flames that danced on its surface when exposed to air. It was a potent drink, much sought after in lands as far away as Deepvale and Lahara. Of course, no elven traders would ever venture so far, so humans were required to cart the valuable wines far across Anterris.
"Well, this is another fine myth you've gotten us into..."
-from "Myth Directions"

"Where Science ends, magic begins." -Spiral, Uncanny X-Men #491
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