Aelryk’s kingdom is under attack by monsters conjured by a dark sorcerer. His only hope lies far to the west, where a powerful water elemental is rumored to dwell. Along the way, he joins forces with the Wild Elves, who were once his enemy. They alone can lead him through the dangers of the Wildlands. Together, they must journey to a mysterious land of eternal spring and return before the kingdom is overrun by evil.
As she did every morning, Lenora stood at the riverbank and watched her life mate perform his morning ritual. He stood naked in waist-deep water at the base of a small waterfall. Despite watching this ritual for over eight hundred years, she still could not help but worry. His life was a gift from the river, and each day he offered it back. She knew that one day the river would claim him.
His long brown hair flowed carelessly at the water’s surface. Though his back was facing her, Lenora could see that River had completed his offering and was conversing with the water’s Spirit. Many times the Spirit had granted him visions to aid their people. They knew when danger was drawing near and also when the rains would come. The Westerling Vale was a beautiful and magical place, thanks to the Spirit’s presence.
River turned and smiled at Lenora. Coming up from the water, he touched her chin and kissed her softly on her lips. She welcomed the kiss and enjoyed the warmth of his lips. After helping him on with his robe and placing a silver ring with a sapphire stone on his left hand, she put her arm in his and said, “Did the Spirit give you good news?”
“Today’s news is somewhat troubling,” he began. “I am not exactly sure what to make of it. It would be best if I called a meeting of the Elders and discussed it with them. Perhaps one of them can identify the creatures I saw.” He paused for a second and then asked, “Have you ever heard of a dark man-like creature with long curving claws? They seem very unfriendly but have so far avoided entering or crossing the river.”
Lenora thought about it as they continued walking towards the village. “I don’t believe I ever studied such a thing. I hope they aren’t a threat to us.”
River stopped and looked into her pale eyes but said nothing. “You seem troubled,” she said, breaking the silence. “What is it?”
“It’s just a feeling. Something is wrong, but I don’t know what it is yet.” He took both of her hands and kissed her cheek. “Do not worry, my love. The Elders will know what to do. I’ll speak with them immediately.”
River was highly respected among the Council of Elders. He frequently joined them in their meetings to share his visions and assist in any way possible to better the lives of his people. He had been feared by many of them as a child. His life essence had been granted by the river Spirit, imbuing him with great powers. No one knew his exact purpose, not even River himself. But their fears had all been for naught. The Spirit of the river was kind by nature and had no malevolence within it.
River headed towards the council house. It was a huge tree with silver leaves that stood at the center of the village. Two intricately carved doors opened to the hollowed area inside. The magic of the forest made the interior much larger than the tree outside would suggest. Most of the Elders had already gathered inside to discuss daily matters of life in the Vale.
“River, my friend.” Brandor, a tall fair-haired elf, strode forward to greet him. “Welcome this fine morning,” he said. “How are you?”
“I am well, Brandor, thank you. I have some news I wish to discuss with the council.”
“You are always most welcome here, River, of course. Please be seated while I gather the others.”
River sat at the oval-shaped table and waited. His mind swam with the images he had seen in the water. A heaviness weighed on the back of his mind, and he knew some work of evil was at hand.
The Elders each took their seats. “Good morning, gentle elves,” Brandor said. “This morning we are joined by Lord River, who has come bearing some news for us.” He gestured to River. “Go ahead, my friend.”
“My lords, I have had a vision that troubles me greatly. I have seen savage creatures roaming in the Wildlands. They are unknown to me, and they have a sense of evil about them. They have not, as yet, attempted to cross the river, but I sense that they do not fear the magical barrier. I believe they are powered by some unknown magic of a very dark nature. I cannot see where they are from or where they have been, but I do feel strongly that they are a threat to us. I believe it’s only a matter of time before they enter our lands.” River’s sapphire eyes were somber, his expression grave.
Silence filled the room with a heavy foreboding. The Vale had enjoyed many centuries of peace, and the thought of evil at its doorstep was difficult to digest. After a few moments, the Elders looked at one another. Finally, Rundil spoke. “My Lord River, will your magic be enough to protect our people from this menace?”
“For a while, I believe,” River answered. “But some unknown source is giving power to these creatures. I might be able to determine what they are if I could see them up close. I’m not completely sure whether they aren't able to penetrate our magic or are choosing not to at this time. All I know is that the matter is most pressing. We must determine what this threat truly is.”
The Elders began chattering amongst themselves just as the doors to the chamber flew open. “My Lords!” cried Rogin. “There is evil at work in our lands. A dryad was found badly beaten. She’s been taken to my mother for healing.”
Brandor spoke first. “This is indeed distressing news. A peaceful magical creature attacked near our very borders!” The room sounded with agreement and the anxious voices of the Elders.
“I must go to her,” River said as he stood. “If these were the same creatures I saw in my vision, perhaps I can glean some evidence from her.”
“I’ll go with you, Father,” Rogin said. River placed a hand on his shoulder and together they walked to the House of Medicine.
Inside, Lenora was ordering her maids to bring herbs to halt the bleeding. She was a highly skilled healer, but the dryad was severely wounded and near death. She looked up as River and her son entered. “I don’t know if I can be of much help to her,” she began. “This is savagery I have never seen. I fear her injuries will prove fatal. All I can do is try to make her passing as gentle as possible.” Tears filled her eyes as she looked down at the beautiful creature lying before her. This was a peaceful fae of the forest. Harming a soul such as this was truly a most vile act.
River took her in his arms to comfort her, and she sobbed onto his shoulder. Dryads were indeed peaceful creatures who often assisted those who had lost their way in the forest. They were playful and good-natured and had no natural enemies.
Lenora wiped her eyes and stood back over the dryad. She laid her hands upon the dryad’s heart and whispered words of comfort. White magic flowed through her fingertips and into the suffering form of the fae. Her face, formerly twisted in pain, changed to an expression of peace. She let out one final breath. Lenora whispered a prayer to the Goddess of the forest.
River knelt beside the lifeless dryad and laid his hand upon her forehead. He closed his eyes as blue magic spread over the dryad. Within seconds, her body disappeared. “She is at rest now,” he said. “Her spirit is free. I have seen the creature who did this to her. I know now what it is we are facing.” He looked into his life mate’s eyes. “It is far worse than we could have imagined.”
After eight years of jotting notes and building a fantasy world, she has finally begun releasing novels in her Tales of Nōl'Deron series. They will feature many of the same characters, but each novel will stand alone. She hopes to have her second novel completed in Fall 2013.