White Phoenix and all its characters are (c) by dragonlich21 and Ink Mutant Studios. Do not copy, steal, or change. If you are to make assumptions of what happens later in the story, please don't say so in a comment, as it might change other people's views or predictions. But if you insist, word it carefully. Also, the author respectfully asks that you don't suggest ideas for the story unless asked for it.
Legend of the Titans has been scrapped and is being rewritten. Read http://fav.me/d6m1p4o for more details.
The story's main protagonist. She is a very kind and generous person, but is also defiant and strong in her beliefs. Even tough she is kind, she can get angered easily if someone offends her or tries to harm those she cares about. Before she lost her memories, she was a very sweet and fragile person. More of a bookworm, as some would say. During and after her amnesia, she was mostly a fierce and determined woman. Her weapon of choice is a bone staff with a hidden blade.
One of the story's secondary protagonists. Nightthunder's personality consists of sarcasm and a very upbeat attitude. She is never a sad and depressed woman, but when she is, it usually lasts for no less than thirty seconds. She enjoys using sarcasm, which ends up making a wisecrack most of the time. She is a very talented fighter and is a skillful mage. Her weapon of choice is a crossbow.
Another one of the story's secondary protagonists. Aurora's past was somewhat unknown before she was discovered by the Godric family. Raphael Godric took her into his home when she was two years old and raised as a child of the Godric family. She meets Nightthunder when Raphael Godric's son, Gabriel, found Nightthunder unconscious on a beach. Aurora is not much of a fighter, but she is very well educated.
A secondary character. Zo'ran is a well-educated man who was taught by his own father, along with his brother, Feral. He is a remarkable fighter with a strong sense of honor. He is less likely to kill than his brother, and his ability to see good in people is often mistaken for clouded judgement. But he is inexperienced, and often it gets him into trouble.
King Abaxas (The Demon King)Edit
The main antagonist. He is the Tyrant king who took over the Solas Empire by killing his father, King Brutus. He has little to no remorse, but does not rush headfirst into any situation. He is like an animal that will play with its prey before killing it.
The high goddess in the story. She appears as a white bird with blue eyes. She is very wise and forgiving. As a goddess, she has done things for the greater good for her people. Even if that means taking a life.
Knowledge is power. Control is the illusion. ~ Nightthunder Hawthorn
Knocking from downstairs awoke Frida from her sleep. She reached up to her husband Bowen and tapped his face, "Get it." she said.
Bowen sighed, "Alright." he lethargically got out of bed and put on his robe. He walked to the front door to answer the rapid knocking. He reached for the handle when he heard the voices of soldiers of the tyrant king.
"Set up archers around the house." a voice said, "Don't light them. We need a house to inspect, and burning it down is counter-productive.”
"What if the Scareite attacks?" another asked.
"Then we kill it. That's what we're here to do."
The word "archers" immediately activated Bowen's instinct to gather his family. He woke his wife and told her to get his twelve-year-old son Conner and fourteen-year-old daughter Autumnmoon.
"Get out of the house through the cellar." he told Frida, "Take them to your sister's and I'll meet you there."
"Do you promise?" Frida asked.
Bowen answered her question with a passionate kiss on the lips. He headed to the gun cabinet and grabbed his rifle and pistol along with extra ammunition. He could not call his brother so he was on his own to make sure his wife and children escaped safely.
"Mother, what's going to happen to father? Where are we going?" Autumnmoon asked.
"There are soldiers." Frida explained, "They're threatening to hurt us. Your father is going to hold them off while we get to Luca's house."
"But--" Autumnmoon was cut off by a sharp pull on her arm. Her mother was trying to get them to hurry through the cellar tunnels. Not much was said while they walked through the tight space. Three loud shots could be heard from outside and the three paused before moving again. When they reached the cellar door, Frida instructed her children to not say a word. She quietly opened the door and looked through the crack for any soldiers. Fortunately they were in the archers' blind spot. When Frida and her children were out of the tunnel, they looked at their front door to see what was happening. Bowen was being held by two brutish soldiers as one looked to be interrogating him. Three dead soldiers lay behind him. It was all unclear, but Frida led her children away from the house, regrettably leaving her husband behind.
Fortunately, they reached Luca's house without any trouble. Had it not have been winter, they would have stopped several times, but once they arrived Luca quickly admitted them into her home. Conner and Autumnmoon were given a guest room and he fell asleep almost immediately. However, Autumnmoon stood awake and was deeply worried for her father. She waited for her mother and aunt to fall asleep.
At the stroke of 1 AM, Autumnmoon heard nothing but silence outside of her room. She quietly snuck out of her room and into the hallway, careful not to allow the floorboards to creak. She was able to make it downstairs to the hall tree to grab her dark fur coat. She quietly opened the front door of the house and slipped through the opening. She ran through the woods to find a trail the soldiers may have left. She eventually made it back to her house, but no one was there. More boot tracks led back into the snowy woods. Autumnmoon pulled her hood up and followed them.
It was a fool's errand. The falling snow had blocked the tracks ahead over the hours and Autumnmoon eventually became lost in the wilderness. Her kind couldn't see in the night and her only source of light was the light of the full moon. She dropped her face into her hands and fell down on a tree trunk and cried. For the next ninety minutes Autumnmoon would not stop crying. Suddenly a twig snapped in the darkness. Autumnmoon's head looked from her hands to the bushes nearby where anything could be lurking. Tears still fell from her eyes as she looked into the black area in terror. Her breath shivered in the cold. The last thing she remembered were the claws piercing her and two orange eyes staring into hers.
Then, she was floating. Weightless. Nothing but the white void surrounded her. For miles it was white nothingness. It was also cold and empty. The force lifting her set her down on the invisible floor and she stumbled. Nothing was around her, but a presence shook her to her core. Out of the nothing came a black wolf. It had red eyes and markings glowing with the corresponding color around its body. Autumnmoon stepped backward to escape its approach, but she bumped into an invisible wall. The wolf came even closer and grotesquely shifted into a form which looked identical to her. It was almost as if she'd been looking into a mirror. Only something was wrong. Something was different. The eyes of this doppelganger were black as coal and its teeth were long and sharp. Autumnmoon shut her eyes to somehow escape this nightmare. When she opened them, the figure was gone. The white void around her changed to a dark atmosphere red and thick as blood. Behind her, the figure reared its ugly head again, only this time it was enormous. She wheeled around to face it.
Then, it became even more horrifying than before, with empty eyes which bled an oily substance, a long, disgusting tongue, and a large mouth which opened abnormally wide to reveal rows of sharp, snaggly teeth. It flung its head back and shot forward to devour Autumnmoon whole.
"This...sucks." Nightthunder said.
"Stop complaining, you feeble little duck.” Aeron returned with a quirky smile.
"Well we should have gone deer-hunting last week before the snow started to fall." Nightthunder answered, "That way we wouldn't be stuck out here in the cold."
"I agree, but if it weren’t for your little, ‘explorations’ across the border, we might’ve had time." Aeron returned.
"Yeah well it doesn't mean that--" Nightthunder broke off when she began to sniff the air.
"What do you smell?" Aeron whispered.
"Blood." Nightthunder said, "This way."
Nightthunder trotted through the woods as a hunter would and followed the smell of blood drifting through the winter breeze. She could see something golden, red, and brown lying in the snow in the middle of a clearing. Curious, Nightthunder crept over while Aeron was still trying to catch up. She noticed it was a person, and she was hurt.
She tapped Autumnmoon's shoulder, "Hey, are you okay?"
Autumnmoon only opened her mouth to groan weakly in her sleep. Nightthunder prodded Autumnmoon again and only got them same response.
"Aeron! Come quick!" Nightthunder called.
"Why? What is it?" Aeron asked as he emerged from the snowy bushes, "Is that Autumnmoon? She knows the consequences of crossing the border."
"Why does that matter now? We need to help her!" Nightthunder cried.
"Alright, alright. Calm down. We can't move her. Call the horse," Aeron instructed, "my medical supplies are in my saddlebag."
Nightthunder let out a piercing whistle to call the horse they both shared, Rickshaw. When he came trotting up Nightthunder immediately unsecured the saddlebag and gave it to Aeron. Aeron was much more of a capable healer than Nightthunder, who stood pacing anxiously behind Aeron as he expertly tended to Autumnmoon.
Nightthunder had been Autumnmoon's friend for a long time. They used to see each other every day, and when they were younger, Nightthunder would come up with the most hilarious shenanigans that they dragged Aeron and another, Zo'ran, into. Until a few years ago, that is. Since King Abaxas came to power, he separated the Solas Anjyls from the Scareite Anjyls. Nightthunder and Aeron were Scareite, and Autumnmoon was a Solas. She and Autumnmoon had not verbally spoken since.
As soon as Aeron had patched up Autumnmoon well enough, he carried her back to their home on the mountain base. They planned on bringing her back home when she awoke.
The house was not big on the outside, but it was built on the entrance to a large, hollow tree. Nightthunder and Aeron built it when they had separated from their clan. It was spacious on the inside and well-hidden from intruders.
They spent the rest of the night resting. Aeron watched the fireplace burn and enjoyed its heat. Nightthunder sat with Autumnmoon in the guest room. She sat in there until the sun rose the next morning. Nightthunder placed a few dry willow leaves in a small red dish on the table beside Autumnmoon and lit them for good luck. The sharp smell of spice filled the room. Nightthunder said a prayer before leaving the guest room and sitting down close to Aeron.
Autumnmoon gasped and her eyes widened. She felt sore and dehydrated. She was in an unknown place, like a house. The bed she lied on was soft, and she was covered in a blanket. On the wall in front of her was a raven holding a cross. Even though she'd never been here before, she knew exactly where she was, "Nightthunder?" she called weakly.
A few seconds later Nightthunder came into the room. She halted and the door and smiled upon seeing Autumnmoon was okay. She quickly walked to her friend and embraced her tightly.
"How many fingers am I holding up?" Nightthunder asked, holding up her fingers to Autumnmoon’s face.
"Uh, three." Autumnmoon replied.
Nightthunder hugged her friend again, "I'm really glad you're okay."
"Yeah," Autumnmoon said, strangled, "Night, I can't breathe."
Nightthunder chuckled and loosened her hug, "Feeling better?"
"Uh, kinda. How did I get here?"
"We found you in the woods. Where are your parents?"
“They’re...well my mother and brother are at my aunt’s. Soldiers showed up at my house to arrest my father for…I don’t know. I went out to find him and…I was attacked by some animal.”
“Oh, uh.” Nightthunder nervously cleared her throat, “Well tomorrow morning we’ll take you back to your mother. Just sit tight for now. Do you need anything?”
Autumnmoon felt stronger the next morning, and they ate a small breakfast before Autumnmoon insisted on taking a bath. Nightthunder was a bit annoyed, “Why bathe in the morning? You’re just gonna get dirty again through the day.”
“Unlike you, I have feathers to keep clean. You, on the other hand, do not. Plus, I'll bet you haven't bathed in three days.” Autumnmoon looked over her shoulder at Nightthunder.
"Four, actually..." Nightthunder muttered quietly.
When Autumnmoon was finished Nightthunder handed her her clothes and they walked out into the woods toward the borders.
“You think my mother will be mad at me?” Autumnmoon asked.
“Ha! Hell no! You snuck out of bed, and worse, the house, on a cold winter night. Not to mention that soldiers showed up at your door.” Nightthunder sardonically replied.
“Well, I hope that nothing’s happened.” Autumnmoon said.
They soon reached Luca’s house. Oddly, everything was quiet. There was emptiness in the atmosphere. Autumnmoon knocked on the door. No response. She did it again, this time more rapidly.
“Anything?” Nightthunder asked from the bottom of the steps.
“Nothing.” Autumnmoon turned and slowly opened the door a hair and poked her head through, “Hello? Anyone home?” her voice echoed off of the house’s emptiness. She opened the door completely and walked inside. She began to check the rooms. The bedrooms, the dining room, the washroom, the kitchen, even the basement, were empty of anyone. In the cellar no vegetables or herbs hung on the walls for preservation. No clothing lied in the drawers or on the lines. It was almost as if everyone had left in a great hurry. Why would they? Had something come up? Autumnmoon new her mother would never have left without her. She heard Nightthunder walk in the house, “We have a problem.” She said.
“What is it?” Autumnmoon asked.
Nightthunder had no time to answer when heavy pounding came from outside the door, “By order of Seraph Abaxas, open this door! We know you’re in there!”
“Quickly! Is there another exit?” Nightthunder asked.
“Yes, there should be a tunnel in the cellar.” Autumnmoon said.
“Good. I need you to go out that way. I’ll distract them by flying out the front door. Then you run into the woods toward the border. Don’t stop for me.” Nightthunder said.
Autumnmoon did as her friend asked. Nightthunder crept to a window and looked through to see where Abaxas’ soldiers were positioned. Most of them were directly in front, which would make a frontal attack foolish. Nightthunder’s eyes darted around the room until her eyes fixed on the fireplace. She smiled and moved to it, looking back once to make sure they didn’t already see her. She climbed up the inside of the chimney and down the outside and onto the roof. Nightthunder looked down to see the soldiers haven’t gotten inside yet. What idiots. She took to the air with a quick beat of her wings. Her dark skin and wings made her look like a black shadow in the morning sky. The soldiers took quick notice of her and began shooting arrows in her direction. Though she maneuvered through most of them, one managed to graze her ear. It caused her to get dizzy for a moment until she beat her wings again and headed directly into the woods toward the border. </p>
“I can’t bear the fact my mother left.” Autumnmoon said while she slumped down in front of a log and buried her face in her elbows.
“I’m sorry, Autumn.” Nightthunder sat down on the log and put a hand on her friend’s shoulder, “You could always live with me and Aeron, you know.”
“I guess I could. At least until they come back.” Autumnmoon looked up from her arms. But they didn’t.
Every morning Autumnmoon would run to Luca’s empty home and watch it in hopes they would return. But it sat idle the same way every day for the next 16 days. Eventually she gave up and remained mostly quiet.
She had been able to recover her own clothes that had been left in the house, and since her family did not return to the house, she decided that she would have to stay with Nightthunder after all.
Eventually Nightthunder got sick of her friend’s moping and encouraged her to get out of the house and join her on a walk through the snow. Autumnmoon reluctantly grabbed her coat and went outside.
“If this is another hair-brained shenanigan, then I’m gonna turn tail and walk back.” Autumnmoon said.
“I promise, I haven’t planned anything.” Nightthunder laughed, “But seriously, we found no blood. And plus, all your moping and “sad face” attitude is bumming me out.”
“Nightthunder! I just…don’t have the heart to be happy.” Autumnmoon snapped angrily.
“I’m not asking you to be happy or to forget your family.” Nightthunder stopped her, “I’m asking you to have faith that the White Phoenix will keep them safe.”
“I do have faith in the White Phoenix,” Autumnmoon sighed, “but I just think that they could have waited for me, or at least told me where they were going. I hope they haven’t been kidnapped.”
“There were no other scents in the house. If someone was there, I would have known. I’m sure they’re safe wherever they are.” Nightthunder said.
“I guess you’re right.” Autumnmoon said, “But I need some closure. Can you help me say goodbye?”
“Yes.” Nightthunder smiled.
Among Scareite Anjyls, a special ritual was used to say goodbye to departed loved ones. It was mostly used to help bury the sadness and move on. That was what Nightthunder was helping Autumnmoon with. How they were doing it was simple yet hard: Autumnmoon needed to throw something of sentimental value into a flaming raft and cast it off through a body of water underneath the Northern Lights. Autumnmoon chose an ankle bracelet that her brother gave her. She placed it in a small chest and set it on the raft. Nightthunder set it aflame and pushed it into the water and watched it disappear into the fog.
“Thank you.” Autumnmoon said.
“You’re welcome.” Nightthunder replied, "Let's go home. We'll catch a cold out here."
Winter had ended in the coming weeks, though it was harsh. The rogues had run out of food and had needed to turn to hunting, closer and closer to the border, for anything to survive. They often needed to split up to find anything good. It was fortunate that they hadn’t run out of food before winter ended. Snow still lay in piles around the grass and the almost-bare branches and the chilly weather hadn’t ended either.
Autumnmoon’s feet squished into the mud from the melting snow. She intended on setting a trap near a tree, bundled in sticks to hide it from sight. She chose to leave it and set another elsewhere. While she was walking, she came upon a stream that was thawing. The water had already begun to melt despite the ice what was floating over top of it. Thirsty, Autumnmoon hunched on all fours and drank. She had not drank cold water since fall, and melted snow was warm. As anyone knows, warm water is not always good to drink by itself. Satisfied, she left the stream and continued, unaware of a mysterious shape following her.
Autumnmoon had soon found deer tracks in the mud, fresh ones. She abandoned the idea of trapping and followed them with a loaded longbow. It was very close. She found it in a cove below. It was a fine adult buck with its antlers fully grown. She pulled back the arrow and sighed silently. She let go…
Bang! went a gun nearby. Autumnmoon wheeled around and saw the carcass of a barb-cat just several feet away. Farther away, standing with a smoking pistol, stood an unfamiliar man wearing a formal coat with the well-known coat of arms of the Solas Anjyl Royal family. His brown hair was tied back into a ponytail. Only soldiers of the tyrant Abaxas bear that crest. Autumnmoon immediately leapt onto a tree trunk which had fallen over top of the cove and quickly ran across it to the other end of the cove, “Wait! Come back!” he called, and ran after her. He kept calling to her, and tried to get her to talk, “Stop running! I only wish to talk to you!”
Autumnmoon would not stop. She would keep running until he lost him. To gain an upper hand, she leapt onto a branch and climbed up the tree. From there, she jumped from branch to branch to get away. Eventually, Autumnmoon stepped on a weak branch and it broke, sending the woman to the ground. She lied there, groggy, for a moment. She looked up from the snow and saw the man coming up in front of her. She quickly stood up and ran again. He caught up to her, and he grabbed her arm. She wrestled her arm out of his grip, but he succeeded in jerking the bracer off of Autumnmoon’s wrist, and she had unknowingly lost it to him, and continued to run. He stopped chasing her to inspect the bracer. Autumnmoon climbed some rocks and successfully flew up into the open air to elude him. He turned it in his hands to see Autumnmoon’s family crest carved into the leather. He furrowed his eyes and looked back up to the shape in the sky flapping its wings.
The air and it whisked through her hair, sending the strands in different directions like a flag in the wind. Her raptor feathers curved neatly in the air and suspended her in the sky. It was colder, much colder than the ground, but Autumnmoon kept going until she saw the familiar marker on the top of a tree signifying the hidden tree home. She sighed in relief when she saw it. She folded her wings to cleanly land in front of the tree. She looked around to see if anyone followed her, then entered through the hidden opening and through the tunnel that led inside. She pulled back the animal-skin curtain and saw that Nightthunder and Aeron had already gotten home. A warm fire blazed in the center of the room. Nightthunder was tossing apple-wood in the flames to give the room a sweet smell. She smiled at Autumnmoon and greeted her with a hug. She guided her friend over to the fire where she could warm herself, “You were gone a while.”
Autumnmoon sighed, “Yeah, but I didn’t catch anything.” She blew warm air into her hands and sat down on the animal skin mat.
Nightthunder noticed her friend’s bracer was missing, “Where’s your bracer? And why do you have that scent on you?”
“Oh, crap! That guy must have taken it!” Autumnmoon was mostly focused on her bracer.
“What guy?” Nightthunder asked.
“There was a man that showed up in the woods and he chased me. But I flew up and escaped. He bore the crest of the Solas Royal Family.” Autumnmoon explained.
Nightthunder was wary o this sudden occurrence. Visitors normally meant trouble. And since Autumnmoon mentioned that he bore the infamous crest of the Royal Family, that was even worse. Nightthunder suggested they not stray too far from the temple, and set traps in case an unfortunate soldier were to get too close.
Despite their preparation, there was little disturbance for several more weeks. It rained often, but the animals returned and spring was the time to hunt and gather. Since hunting was not her specialty, Autumnmoon gathered berries and roots while Nightthunder and Aeron hunted. Autumnmoon was crouched down behind a bush picking red berries off of the branches. She heard a horse whinny several yards away. Autumnmoon curiously pried the branches apart to see a man wearing the coat-of-arms of the royal Solas family, whom she gasped and widened her eyes at the sight of. It was the same man she had encountered two months ago. He didn’t look like much of a threat this time, for he seemed to have trapped his ankle between two rocks near the waterfall. Nevertheless, she still attempted to get away quietly. He could warn his soldiers and then she would be brought back into the corruption of the Argonian Empire. She clutched her basket in her arms and backed away, crouched down to her ankles, and didn’t say a word. She nearly got out of sight when she was out of the bushes, but in clear sight of him from an angle. She didn’t watch her feet, and stepped on a twig. The snap alerted him, and he looked to face her, “You?”
This was certainly no great situation to be in. A soldier, a man who follows the orders of a sick-minded man like Abaxas, saw her across the border. Any Solas crossing the border was strictly forbidden, and was punishable by death or enslavement. She had no idea why she didn’t run. Maybe it was the look on his face that pleaded for help. She still looked terrified, and then he tried to speak to her, “You shouldn’t be afraid of me. Please, I need your help.”
The heavy breath in his voice told her he could be telling the truth. He was certainly hurt, and he couldn’t do anything to her, even after she would help him. She carefully moved toward the rocks where his leg was trapped. They were slippery from the water, and moss was growing between the cracks. They were also sharp and Autumnmoon nearly slipped and cut her foot. Among the moss was a deep red color. He must have cut his ankle through his struggling. To avoid cutting it deeper, Autumnmoon lifted the rock up high enough off of his foot, “Move your ankle out of the way.” She said through clenched jaws. It was a big rock. Then, she helped him over to an area beneath some thick branches where she bound his ankle with pieces of cloth torn from her clothes.
“Thank you. My name is Zo’ran.” He said.
Autumnmoon couldn’t believe what she heard. Zo’ran? As in Prince Zo’ran? The son of the noble King Brutus and Queen Nova? She had heard of the prince herself, but she had never seen him before. The prince had actually survived when his brother, Abaxas, killed King Brutus. This means there is an heir to take the throne back.
“What are you doing out here, then? Shouldn’t you be rallying your people?” Autumnmoon asked.
“I would, but Abaxas’ forces kill any opposition. I won’t put their lives in danger. And I can’t just march into Argona. I hid in the Umbreas Mountains to escape and find some help from the Night Walkers. They are brilliant fighters, and I need their help to make us whole again. They have hatred towards my brother as well. Why are you here, miss…?”
“Autumnmoon.” She said, “I was driven from home last winter. My father was taken and I went out to find him. But after I was attacked by frost-wolves, an old Scareite friend found me and she helped me. When I returned home,” she swallowed, “They were gone.” Her voice broke a little bit.
“I’m sorry.” He lifted a hand to her shoulder. It disgusted him that his absence has caused so much oppression and sadness. Autumnmoon didn’t deserve this. Her words and hands were kind, and she was gentle with him. If she was an example of what the rest of his people have been going through, he needed to make it up to them. And he needed to start with her.
“Who is your friend?” he asked.
“Me!” Nightthunder roared from a branch on high. She jumped down onto the muddy earth with a loud thud. She unsheathed a dagger and quickly moved to where they were sitting. Autumnmoon held her friend back, “No, Nightthunder, don’t!” she held her hand out and stood between Zo’ran and Nightthunder, “Just…back up, and put it away. He’s not. Going. To hurt us.” She enunciated calmly.
The Night Walker’s glare went at Autumnmoon, then Zo’ran, then Autumnmoon again. With a huff, she shoved the dagger back into its sheath around her leg. She gestured to the prince.
“He’s Zo’ran. He was—is—the rightful ruler of Argona. He’s Brutus’s son.” Autumnmoon explained to her edgy friend.
“Zo’ran? Prince Zo’ran?” Nightthunder asked. She rolled her eyes at the thought. Impossible, she thought, Zo’ran was killed in the siege of the castle years ago.
“Yes.” Zo’ran answered, “I don’t mean you, nor any of your people, harm. I actually require their allegiance.”
“Allegiance? Have you forgotten that long ago, it was your family that tried to convert my whole species from our way of life? To force us to bow to your leaders from across the Great Water? That was the cause of our ‘differences’ in the beginning.”
Zo’ran saw that Nightthunder did not trust him. He would need to try hard for this. A Solas gaining the friendship of an adult Scareite was not easy, especially for one from his lineage. It had its fair share of good and bad leaders Then, an idea came to him, “That was not me, ma’am. That was King Orion. And he was a monster. My uncle Abaxas fares no better.” He stood up, “Whatever differences our kind had in the past is not the issue. I need the Scareites help to take back my kingdom.”
“We’d have to travel for hundreds of miles east for that.” Nightthunder returned, “My clan was the only one in this region. Disease wiped them out years ago. My—” she cleared her throat, “mate—and I are the only ones left.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.” Zo’ran said. Nightthunder scowled at him and brushed her long, black hair off of her neck. When she did that, her bracer was exposed to view in his direction. He stared at the bracer which bore the symbol of the raven and cross, “Your bracer—it has the crest of the Hawthorns.”
Nightthunder protectively covered the cross with her other hand “What do you know of the Hawthorns?”
“I know from my studies that they were a noble lineage. They united the Scareites in an attempt to become a brother and sister race instead of being a wild species. Your grandfather, Oraji was the one who negotiated peace between the Solas and the Scareites after Orion came to power.”
Nightthunder remembered what her ancestor, Oraji, and his partner, Embla, did. They had united the Scareites and Solas, and taught them that they were their strongest together. Thus, overthrowing Orion and bringing peace between the species. Sira was a Solas who helped him rally the Solas people, and gathered them under the leadership of them both. Since then, the Solas and the Scareites had a steady relation. On this account, Nightthunder agreed to take Zo’ran back to her cave home and once he was well enough, they would fly to the Eastern Swamplands. Nightthunder and Aeron got into a quiet argument in their bedroom while Autumnmoon tended to Zo’ran further, “We can’t handle another person, especially when soldiers are practically up his ass looking for him.” Aeron said.
“I was going to take him to the Eastern Tribe.” Nightthunder explained.
“That’s a thousand miles!” Aeron said.
“I know that, but they’re a big clan. They should be able to help us, and maybe have others rally behind. His family knew Oraji. I can’t just ignore that. Please, Aeron. I know you care about me, but since Oraji once guarded Zo’ran’s family, it makes it my responsibility that he makes it wherever he wants to go safely.”
He sighed through his nose and placed his hand on her face, “I don’t agree with this, but if you feel it is your solemn duty, I’ll let you do it.”
“Thank you, Aeron.” Nightthunder smiled.
“Nightthunder!” Autumnmoon called from downstairs. She busted through the doorway seconds later, “Soldiers are near, they probably found the horse tracks.”
They all hurried through the back and deeper into the temple. Autumnmoon wrapped Zo’ran’s arm around her shoulder to help him down the stairs. They continued through the hollow branch until they were blocked by a carving describing two birds, one black and one white. Nightthunder approached the door and placed her hand on the space between the two carvings. They lit up brightly, and a rocky door opened, “Get inside, hurry!” Nightthunder urged.
The others followed her command and rushed through the closing stone door. Nightthunder made haste to quicken its pace and pushed it closed, “We’re safe now.”
“Well that’s good to hear.” Autumnmoon said. She placed Zo’ran gently down on a protruding root where he could rest. Autumnmoon looked around to see where they were. They were inside a large chamber within the belly of the mighty tree. Autumnmoon lit a torch to get a better view of her surroundings in the low light. Moss grew on the wooden walls, old vines hung everywhere, and carved paintings depicting ancient happenings were on the walls, ceilings, and floors. Autumnmoon moved closer to see the paintings on the walls. Winged reptiles were breathing flames at pink, wingless people running away, and the ground crumbling beneath them showed something similar to an apocalypse. But when the pictures continued to the ceiling, it showed a new beginning, the beginning in which the Anjyls emerged from the ashes, “What does this mean?” Autumnmoon asked.
“It shows that we are probably not the first race to inhabit this world.” Nightthunder answered. She then realized that Aeron was not with them. “Wait, where’s Aeron?” She asked and looked around frantically. Nightthunder wildly ran through Autumnmoon and Zo’ran to the stone door and began to pound on it, “Aeron! Are you there?” she shouted, “Aeron!”
“Nightthunder!” Autumnmoon shouted, and tried to get her friend away from the door, but Nightthunder kept on, “We can’t just leave him!”
“If you keep pounding the soldiers will hear you!” Autumnmoon warned.
“I don’t care!” Nightthunder returned.
“Embla!” Autumnmoon finally shouted.
Nightthunder immediately ceased her frantic yelling and pounding and turned around to Autumnmoon, whose blue eyes eerily glowed. She saw beads of sweat on her forehead, and a fierce, stern look in her eyes. Nightthunder turned back to the stone slab and leaned on it sadly, “I thought I told you not to call me that.” Nightthunder said calmly, her head between her elbows.
Autumnmoon swallowed. She certainly thought Nightthunder would have a much fiercer reaction. She knew Aeron was dear to her, but they couldn’t go back, otherwise all of them would be in danger. She approached Nightthunder and put a hand on her shoulder and said calmly, “I don’t know, of course, but wouldn’t Aeron want you to continue?”
Nightthunder sighed, “Yes. Tomorrow, I’ll lead you to the swamp clan, your highness.” Nightthunder turned back around and left her hand on the stone door, “For now, we need a fire. I’ll find us something to eat.” She shouldered through Zo’ran and walked beneath the opening in the center of the trunk. Then she opened her wings and took off through the trunk. The two Solas that remained watched her leave. Zo’ran looked down at Autumnmoon, “Will she be okay?”
“She’ll be fine.” Autumnmoon answered, “She just needs…to cool off. She loves Aeron, so it’ll be hard. Best to stay out of her way for a while.”
“How do you even know her?” he asked.
Autumnmoon sighed, “It’s a long story…”
Rihaka and FkariEdit
The air was stale of dry dirt and mildew. Padded feet covered in dry mud walked across the tiled floor. Glowing crystals aligned on the ceiling illuminated the moisture on the stone walls. Nightthunder’s emerald eyes glowed in the darkness. She led the way, with a somber face staring ahead, focusing on what was onward. She led her companions into another hollow, which felt like a mile away from the tree temple. This new chamber was much like the old one, only this time, instead of carvings, two bird statues stood together in the center of the floor. No one had spoken a word the whole way there, but Autumnmoon broke the silence, “Where are we?”
“We’re in an extension of the tree temple,” Nightthunder answered, “The chamber we were in before was only part of it. This is a piece of our history. It is…a tomb.”
“A tomb? A tomb for whom? Or what?” Zo’ran asked.
Nightthunder did not give a direct response. Instead, she walked to the base of the stone birds and felt around on it until she felt a claw mark on the side. She unsheathed her claws and ran them through the scars in the stone. The string carvings on the stone glowed brightly and the light ran all along the floors and ceilings until markings on the walls lit up to reveal two coffins aligned on both sides of the room. The bird statues were each facing one and their eyes glowed as well, “Who were these people?” Autumnmoon asked. “Their names were Rihaka and Fkari. I’m sure you’ve heard the legend behind them?” Nightthunder said.
Autumnmoon and Zo’ran just looked at each other in confusion, “No.” they both said.
Nightthunder rolled her eyes, “Alright, then I guess I’ll have to educate you. Over a thousand years ago, when Anjyls still mainly walked on four legs, had no language or society, and fought over resources and prey. These ancient creatures were called the Volatalus. In one Volatalus packs, two of the leaders, brother and sister, named Rihaka and Fkari, were leading their pack across a vast desert. Many of them died from lack of water, and some even tried to leave the pack or fight Rihaka for position of Alpha Male. But, once their pack was down to only ten Volatalus remained, Rihaka and Fkari had given up hope. They thought they would die out in the hot sand. But, Fhionnu descended, and she made a deal with Fkari. She would save them, if they gave up their barbarity and if they would live on to gather the rest of their kind and lead them to a better life. Fkari agreed, and Fhionnu created an oasis in the desert. The pack ate their fill of prey, and the moment they drank the oasis’s water, their bodies changed into humanoid, more complex, forms. The pack stayed behind to protect the oasis, while Fkari and Rihaka traveled alone to each and every pack within a thousand miles, and they rallied behind Rihaka and Fkari, and led them to the oasis, which had gotten noticeably larger since Fkari and Rihaka left. As it turns out, every time Rihaka and Fkari visited a new pack, Fhionnu made the oasis larger and larger. After that, Volatalus lived in peace between one another, and the lush forests of Argona were created.”
“Amazing.” Zo’ran said, “Which one is which?” He gestured at the bird statues.
“Rihaka was the white bird, and his partner, Fkari, was the black.” Nightthunder answered, “Rihaka was said to be the first Solas, and Fkari was said to be the first Scareite. They created us together. And now, Abaxas is tearing it apart.”
“Is that why you agreed to take me to the Swamps?” Zo’ran asked. Nightthunder looked at him from the bronze figures, “Yes. Our journey begins at night. So rest now. Both of you.”
The three set up a small camp and lit a fire to keep warm. It was a small orange light, and it didn’t provide much for the pitch-black room. Autumnmoon lay curled up on a patch of moss with her back turned to the fire, her brown wings curled around her small body. On the dark side of the room, Nightthunder hung upside down by her tail on an overgrown root, her wings curled around her like a blanket. Zo’ran sat awake on the other side of the fire. He watched Autumnmoon and thought about what she told him the day before. He stared at her scars, and thought that if his people are suffering, he is just running and hiding. It reminded him that each day, Abaxas tightened his grip on the Solas Anjyls. Each day, he was wasting time. No more, He thought.
These thoughts remained swimming in his head until the twilight. Nightthunder had been down there plenty of times before, and had kept weapons in the chamber for an emergency. She suggested they left immediately, for she considered this a sacred place, and staying too long would disturb the spirits. And she didn’t want someone to destroy the place, either. They set out east, following the stars. Nightthunder led the way above, keeping an eye out for trouble while doing it, while Zo’ran and Autumnmoon continued on foot. Spring nights were cool, but the trees’ branches grew thick, and it made it harder for Autumnmoon and Zo’ran to see Nightthunder. Fortunately, the trees were not very thick on the brink of spring, and they soon made it to a vast plain, where they could easily see the lantern Nightthunder held to keep her visible.
The grass was not very thick, but it was still moist and a wildfire was avoidable. They travelled far that night. And once the sun came up again, the three set up camp in the grass to rest. Nightthunder tended to a cooking pig whereas Autumnmoon looked for water. She found a stream nearby in which fresh, clean water flowed. Zo’ran tagged behind Autumnmoon, “You know you don’t need to follow me, right?” she said. “I know.” The prince answered, “But I think I’ve avoided my people long enough.”
Autumnmoon looked confused, “What do you mean?”
“I mean, that maybe I didn’t come out here to find help.” He said, “Maybe I came out here because I was afraid, and I hid behind that reason.”
“Afraid of Abaxas?” she asked and paused from her bucket.
“Yes, and that I let my people down.” He told her, “If what you’ve gone through is a representation of what all my people have gone through, then I think I need to convince myself that I’m not doing this to cringe.”
“Need I remind you, it was a frost-wolf that hurt me?” She said. She didn't look up from the water.
“Yes, I know. But he hurt your family.” He took her shoulder and she turned her head to him. She stood up from the stream, “Maybe,” she said, “But, your highness, this journey is about you finding Allies in your fight against Abaxas. You don’t need to protect me.”
"I have to," he returned, "It's my duty as prince."
"Duty? Your duty is to help them, out there." she turned, "You shouldn't worry about me, I can take care of myself."
"Take care of yourself?" he repeated, "You almost got killed by a frost wolf and you led soldiers to your friend's house."
Autumnmoon scowled and threw down the bucket and spread her hands apart humorously, "You're the man. You get the water."
He coughed in disbelief and picked up the bucket. He walked back to the stream to get the water himself, "What a woman..." he said to himself.
Wood was available through the trees nearby and a fire was started by the dry grass. They were eating Nightthunder's catch. She and Zo’ran were awkwardly sitting near the burning wood. Autumnmoon had fallen asleep, and i was just the two of them awake. She was sitting on the ground, and he was delved deep into his book. The atmosphere was very uncomfortable for Nightthunder. She barely knew him; she was a Night Walker who lived in the wild her whole life, and he was a high Solas prince that spent his childhood in the safety of a stone fortress, “Uh,” she cleared her throat awkwardly, “I…need some rest. You watch the fire.”
Zo’ran watched her leave over a hill. He sighed through one side of his mouth. Then, he turned his attention back to his book. He was drawing a picture of Autumnmoon’s face with a piece of the coal from the fire. He kept on; drawing and smearing and drawing and smearing. In the time of forty minutes, he was done. And tired. He could see and feel a substance covering his eye and his eyelids were getting weighty. He rubbed his eye and looked to the left. He noticed a blue lily growing from the tree roots nearby. He smiled and readily plucked it. He held it in his hand for a moment, and put it down next to Autumnmoon’s sleeping form. This is not going to be simple, he thought.