After 17 years of peace darkness shall ascent
War will rise and fire will rage
Ice will encompass all ending this age
Two kingdoms of old shall rise from the dust
One of shadow and one of stardust
Once the war begins to oscillate
One battle shall determine their fate
But only one will dominate.
The Attack of the Shadows
Avalon leaned against the windowsill of her room. The cold stone of the castle walls chilled her arms but she didn't mind. The hot sun of summer beat down on her through the window. Today wasn't a normal day, today was her knighting. Avalon was from an ancient race of men called Dosmen who’s ancestor, a regular man, was blessed by the celestials that his seed be gifted. Avalon’s father was a Dosman with the gift of healing. Her mother was a mortal. Avalon was born with wings and has an appearance like a Winglet. She got her Dosmen genes from her father, Jason, who was gifted with healing. Jason earned his place as the chief of the medical field of the Northern Isles. He is sometimes addressed as Healer.
Avalon loved flying but her mother always told her it was best to stay on the ground. Her father was fine with it. Avalon’s wings were a dark brown like rich soil. Her hair a golden blonde and eyes as blue as mint. Unlike the other ladies in the palace who wore dresses, Avalon wore a royal blue tunic with a yellow four-pointed star and tan pants with brown leather boots. A belt wrapped around her waist bore the sheath to her sword.
Ever since she was twelve, Avalon began to feel a draw towards combat. She would watch the soldiers in the back courtyard train from one of the upper balconies. Once she turned 16, General Mast offered her a spot in the tryouts. Avalon immediately accepted the offer. She was linked with Finn Gorse, a senior solider who was close to retirement for apprenticeship. For two years, Avalon trained and pushed harder. By the final test of her training, she had made up her own aerial moves with her wings. She was top in her class and impressed General Mast. Now after two years, Avalon was about to become a knight. General Mast had talked with the Queen and how Avalon’s Dosman ancestry gives her a stronger build and fiercer appearance that she should have a higher rank.
Her father opened the door at the other end of the room, opposite where Avalon stood.
“Ready?” Jason asked. Avalon nodded and walked out. Her father following.
They approached the ceremony hall doors where the knighting was to take place. Soldiers who were training were at that moment being welcomed into the ranks. As well were certain awards to officers and other soldiers. Avalon’s part of the ceremony was last to come. She could hear Queen Heildier’s voice muffled behind the wood doors. Avalon gripped her father’s hand. Her father smiled.
“Your mother would have been very proud of the girl you have become.”
Avalon smiled. Jason rubbed his hand on her head.
“My little warrior”
Avalon heard Queen Heildier’s voice grow, it was time. Her father stepped aside. Though she would very much appreciate it, Avalon didn't want her dad to escort her down the aisle. It felt to much like a wedding and she didn't want to be humiliated by her colleagues.
The wooden doors creaked open and revealed a massive room. Rows of people stood facing a podium. Queen Heildier, General Mast, Officer Sol, Officer Auner, and Officer Torol stood upon it. Avalon walked down the aisle. The audience watching her every move. Her boots padding against the stone floor. Sun beams shined through three big windows at the front of the room. Avalon couldn't help but beam. She stepped up on the wooden podium and paused. Should she bow or curtsy. She decided to do a mix. She drug her right leg back and began to lower but her right hand over her chest and bowed. Heildier smiled and winked at her. Avalon turned to face the crowd. She was tempted to hid behind her wings but she held them flat.
“Today, citizens of The Northern Isles, I present to you Avalon Jasonson, daughter of proud father, Jason the Healer. A Dosman who has proved her worth to serve her country and her queen. She is more than a responsible young lady. She is strong in mind, brave in soul, and fierce at heart. She has trained remarkable and her scoring higher than most of our greatest warriors. She was top in her class and an overachiever, training in her spare time. General Mast and I have agreed, she cannot be a solider. She is more than that.”
Heildier turned to General Mast. He walked forward and drew his sword. The base being a gold stained steal, forged with a four-point star in the middle and two snakes twisting down to eat a blue sapphire. “As your queen Avalon, I hereby knight you, Lady Avalon the Fierce.” Avalon lowered on one knee and bowed he head. She felt General Mast’s blade meet her left shoulder then her right the sword barely touching her. She looked up. Officer Sol walked forward. The dark skinned man carried a sword and sheath. The sheath was made of leather with an iron brace that twisted down the sheath. The handle of the sword was gold stained steel with lion heads in mid roar at the ends and a topaz at the bottom. A four-point star sat in the center as the crescent of The Northern Isles.
“Arise.” Sol hinted. Avalon stood up tall and proud.
“Lady Avalon, I offer you the Sword of Leo, may it serve you well in battle.” Heildier announced. Avalon reached forward when the wood doors swung open. An army of drakes flooded in.
The townspeople screamed as they were attacked. Smoke flooded in from the fire in the hall. General Mast and his Officers drew their swords. Three guards came forward and escorted the queen across the room to a secret door hidden behind a curtain. Avalon grabbed the sword that was presented before her and charged forward. Her blade met the first drake insight. The blade cut through its chest. The black drake shrieked and fell to the ground. Avalon stood for a second a little nauseous. That was the first soul she took.
“Don’t Stop!” Officer Auner, a senior man with grey flecked brown hair shouted next to her. Avalon nodded, haste returning to her emotions. She swung her sword before her and sliced down another drake. Archers shot arrows into the air among for the drakes who were hovering above. Some hit their mark while the stray arrows fell to the ground striking anything in its path. Avalon stepped aside just in time before and arrow hit her arm. She flew up into the air, gripping her sword in both hands. The gust from her take off knocking over the drakes around her. She dived to the nearest drake and sliced her sword through it. It fell to the ground. She banked right as an arrow flew past her.
“Hold your fire.” She yelled, her voice echoing in the room over the chaos. The arrows stopped flying. Some of the drakes who were in the air dived for her. Avalon rose up to them and stuck them with her sword. Claws met her flesh and teeth tore into her clothes. She was becoming overwhelmed and began to struggle to stay aloft. Then she had an idea. She stopped flapping her wings and fell down. The force of the impact knocked the wind out of her but she got the drakes off her. She heard someone shout from above as a solider was being carried up by a drake. She took off and flew up towards the struggling man. The drake let go of his arm and he began to fall. Avalon lunged forward to grab him but failed. The man fell and hit the ground, his yelp cut short. Avalon snarled and threw her sword at the drake who killed the man. It sliced its head then hit the wall and fell down as did the drake. Avalon landed and made gusts of wind with her wings and clear away the drakes and retrieved her sword. She looked over at the young man who was dropped. His eyes still wide with terror. She bowed her head in respect then began to fight again.
“Retreat!” She heard one of the generals shout. “Retreat!” She ran towards the secret door but was cut off by blood thirsty drakes. Her sword met flesh as she struck down her opponents but was only pushed further from the door. She looked up at the windows and came up with a daring stunt. She lifted into the air shaking off drakes that were clinging to her. She flew to the end of the room then pushed off the wall. She speed towards the windows. As she approached them, she covered her head with her wings. The wrists of her wings hit the glass and the window shattered.
She opened her wings and gasped. Thick smoke filled the sky, drakes infested the air. The town burned below the castle. She could see many dead people in the streets as she soared over the town. Drakes began to dive for her with a loud screech. She whipped her wings around and knocked them down. And sliced her sword through them. She then heard a little cry from below. Three drakes surrounded a little girl holding a doll. Avalon growled and dove down towards them. She swung her feet down for landing, crushing one of the drakes in the process. She sliced through the wing membrane of one which screeched at her for doing so then flung her wings forward and knocked it out. The last one jumped on her back and bit her shoulder. Avalon cried and grabbed its head and threw it at a post. It hit the post and lowered to its knees. Avalon thrusted her sword into its chest and it groaned as it died.
Avalon turned to the little girl who was whimpering. Hiding her face behind her brown hair. Avalon kneeled to her and wiped away her tears.
“Hey, it’s going to be ok.” She said in a soft voice. The girl took a step forward then embraced her. Avalon wrapped her arms around her.
“It’s going to be ok.” She repeated. Avalon looked to the sky. Drakes flew around dive bombing the city. Avalon stuck the sword through her belt and picked up the five year old girl. She took to the sky. The little girl clung tightly to Avalon’s tunic as she rose. Drakes flew towards her. Avalon narrowed her eyes and whipped past them. She flew south rising above the smoke. The drakes quit following her as she flew into the sun.
After an hour of flying, Avalon lowered to the ground. Mountains stood to the west as she landed in a grassland. The little girl let go of her and sat in the grass. Avalon kneeled. It was dusk and night was upon them. The little girl hugged her doll. She was very bruised and dirty. One arm was scorched black from fire. Cuts and scrapes covered her skin. Avalon felt pity for her. She wrapped one of her wings around her.
“Whats your name?” Avalon asked. The little girl looked at her with big brown eyes.
“Fren” The girl answered
“Just Fren?” Avalon asked. The girl nodded shyly. Avalon fell on her bottom and sat next to her for a moment. She heard a rumble and saw the girl place a hand over her stomach.
“You hungry?” Avalon asked. Fren nodded. Avalon frowned and looked around. In the dimming light, she could see nothing eatable. Just golden waving grass and pale dry dirt. The Northern Isles were far more lush.
Avalon turned her head and saw three horse men coming their way. She stood up as they approached. The horses were bay and one grey. The men wore well forged armor. Their horses carried armor as well. On their chest plates was carved two pickaxes crossed over each other circled by a wreath of pine needles. The lead man took off his helmet. He had a small brown beard and brown hair that reached the base of his neck. He had green eyes.
“Who are you?” He asked.
“I am Lady Avalon, daughter of Jason the Healer.” She answered.
“Are you a Winglet?” He pressed. Avalon shook her head and paused.
“I’m a Dosman.” The man stared at her then continued.
“You are from The Northern Isles?” The horseman asked.
“Yes sir.” Avalon answered.
“What are you doing in Mountain Empire territory?” He asked.
“We were just attacked by drakes. Me and this young lady barely escaped.”
“Drakes? No.” He dragged his voice. “If drakes were to attack, then we would have seen them crossing over our lands.”
“Sir, why do you question them, look at their state, how can you not believe that they have just been attacked.” The horseman on the grey stated.
“It was a surprise attack.” Avalon added.
“They could have traveled along the coast, out of our view.” The man on the grey horse continued. The lead man sighed.
“Fine, we will take them to Goldenbrow.” He signaled for Avalon and Fren to follow them back. Fren whined and stayed on the ground. Avalon looked to the men with begging eyes. The third man on the other bay sighed and dismounted his horse. He walked over and set Fren on the bay. A smile grew on Fren’s face as they trekked towards the mountains. Avalon followed, gliding through the air. The last rays of the sun faded behind the horizon. Stars glittered in the ivory sky. Three moons: Tatus, Ares, and Finter glowed and lit up the night.
They group approached a stronghold built into the mountain. One ridge had a chapel on it and some few other houses. The base of the mountain was a town. Below the ridge where the chapel stood, was a walled in courtyard. Through the iron gates, Avalon could see horses in their stables. Torches flickered like fireflies in the gate house of the stronghold. On the three balconies that sat on top of each other were guards watching their every move. The two men got off their horses as they came up to the gates. Giant medal doors towered over them. A man came and took the horses as the gates opened. Inside, they revealed a vast hall.
Stalactites hung from the ceiling, chandeliers hanging from them. Stone lined the walls but rivers of iron and copper ore was allowed to be exposed. To the very center of the hall was a pool of water in which water lilies and fish swam. As they walked through the halls, they approached a throne made of pure gold. Rubies, emeralds, sapphires, topazes, and diamonds where forged into the seams to add detail. Sitting on a velvet cushion upon the golden throne sat a man, broad and proud. He had brown hair and green eyes like the horseman with a shaved beard. Upon his head was a golden crown with many jewels on it that matched the throne. He wore a red cape that draped over his shoulders with white and black fur lining the red fabric. His clothes were dark grey but he wore golden stained armor. His sword was three feet long, and was prodded out in front of him. The handle of the sword was very detailed with lines forming all kinds of patterns. Within these patterns were little crystals.
The lead horseman bowed.
“King Goldenbrow, we found two citizens of The Northern Isles in the grasslands.”
“Thank you Timor Cacumen, your patrol is dismissed.” Goldenbrow waved his hands. Timor looked a little surprised but left. Avalon turned to the king and bowed.
“Who are you?” He asked.
“I am Lady Avalon, daughter of Jason the Healer.” She announced
“Ive met your father before.” Goldenbrow stated. Avalon looked up surprised.
“He was very young, an orphan looking for work. He was brought to me for causing trouble. After I gave him his punishment, I told him to look for work in The Northern Isles. If I knew he was gifted with healing, I would have handled things very differently.” The king explained. Avalon just stared blankly.
“And who may this young lady be?” The king bent over to look at Fren. Fren hid behind Avalon’s wing.
“Your majesty, our kingdom has been attacked by drakes. I saved this young girl then flew off. Knowhere is burned down to ashes.” Goldenbrow raised his eyebrows to this news. He rested his chin in his hand.
“You wouldn’t mind housing us for a while?” Avalon pleaded.
“Oh of course. You need to have those wounds looked at. Someone please escort them to the medics” Goldenbrow replied though he kept looking over Avalon.
Two maids came rushing from one of the halls and herded Avalon and Fren back down it whence they came and lead them to the infirmary. This infirmary was very large unlike the one in Knowhere. Near the back of the room where beds with people in them but these beds were very poor compared to the ones near the front of the room.
“Who are those down there?” Fren asked, her curiosity starting boil up.
“Those are just some miners who have had some mining accidents.” One of the maids replied. She picked up Fren and placed her on one of the cots. A nurse rushed over with a bowl of fresh water and a rag and began dabbing Frens wounds. Avalon rubbed her shoulder where the drake had bit her as she sat down on the bed next to Fren. Another nurse came over with a bowl and rag. She dabbed at a few of the scratches on Avalon’s face. Avalon knew she was barely touched compared to Fren whom has seen the end of the world.
“Could you look at my shoulder?” Avalon asked.
The nurse nodded. Avalon pulled the fabric of her clothing off her shoulder to reveal to holes where fangs had punctured the skin. Blood was clotted and crusted around it but it was still bleeding. The nurse cleaned the wound with the water then dabbed an bluish ointment on it. It burned slightly but the nurse explained that it is removing bacteria and disease. She then wrapped a bandage around it to keep out dust and further stop the bleeding. When Avalon was done, she stayed near Fren who had fallen asleep as her nurse was cleaning her. Avalon’s nurse, after putting her medical supplies back in a nearby cabinet, came back with a glass of water and handed it to Avalon. She then turned to Fren and began to help with her. Avalon took a sip of the water. It tasted different. It lacked the fresh stillness of the Northern Isles water but carried a distant taste of metal and rock with hints of pine. Still she gratefully sipped at it.
After a few minutes, another maid entered then room.
“Avalon, I am here to escort you to your dinner.” She said. Avalon looked at Fren who still needed care.
“We will look after her.” One of the nurses spoke.
Avalon nodded and left the room. The maid took Avalon to the grand dining hall as she called it. It was a large room with many tables in it. It took three giant chandlers to light the place. One large table was in the center which Avalon guessed seated the royal family. At the closets table to the door was a single plate of food. The maid had Avalon sit before it. “Please eat.” She said backing away. Avalon looked at the meal. There was soup with bread, some steak, a few pieces of chicken, and asparagus covered in a mushroom gravy.