Dream to Fall

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In the center of the vast green forests of Saol Crua, of the mystic world of Dremeara, there stood a palace of white gleaming marble and extraordinary stature. A party of three Azkelt scouts were venturing through the unknown depths of the forest on a reconnaissance mission for their tribe. They were amazed to see such a structure so out of reach from the rest of civilization.

"Is it abandoned?...I mean there isn't a lot of activity to be seen" asked Culann in a curious tone, the youngest male of the party. He scratched at his long, dark, brown hair quite furiously, staring at the palace with his wide blue eyes in awe and surprise.

"I don't suppose the occupants went out for a trip?" said Fearon with an amused smile, who was the second and eldest male of the party.

"..And leave the doors open?" stated Saira, the lone young female of the trio. She pointed a slender finger towards the large entrance of the palace. Two large, dark, wooden, doors were slightly opened out, leaving a large enough opening for someone to enter. No guard stood by the entrance to seize anyone intruding.

"Shall we?" Culann addressed the rest of the party, spreading the palm of his right hand out towards the palace, suggesting they investigate.

"No...I'll move out first" replied Saira, while narrowing her brown eyes, trying to spot any hidden dangers amidst some threatening looking bushes by the palace. "If there is any danger, no point in all of us being killed at once, is there?”

"I suppose you're right, well off you go!" exclaimed Culann with a most malicious smile.

"Leaders and ladies first" agreed Fearon with a chuckle deep from within his throat.

"Awww your concern is so touching!" snapped Saira bitterly while glaring ferociously at Fearon and Culann. They just smiled mockingly back at her. She crept discreetly out from the bramble of where they were keeping watch over the palace. After shaking off some unwanted loose forest vegetation attached to her fur skinned boots, she tied up her long, black, silky, hair behind her head and proceeded to advance with caution towards the seemingly vacant palace. Her deep brown eyes were attentive to any peculiar sights surrounding her and she brandished a threatening spear held in a battle ready position.

As she silently paced towards the palace, she surveyed the area. A magnificent garden of great beauty and size was before the palace. Many exotic plants of various bright colours were to be seen in stone flowerbeds, the plants caused sweet scents in the air which Saira found to be overwhelming. She closed her eyes and took a deep intake of the new smells, but abruptly opened her eyes as quickly as she had closed them. Remembering this was foreign territory of which she was intruding upon, and it was certainly no time to embrace the scenery.

Almost to the entrance and still in one piece, not too bad for my first reconnaissance mission thought Saira to herself with a faint smile on her lips as she approached the center of the exotic garden. At the center, a stone statue of an angelic woman with immense wings unfolded stood. Well what Saira assumed to be a woman, as the unfortunate angel was absent a head. While studying the statue closer, she was intrigued to find loose bits of debris resting on the statue and on the ground, suggesting there may have been conflict in the area. After some time of threading through the garden, she finally reached the entrance. Turning her head back towards Culann and Fearon, she waved her right hand signaling for them to regroup. The two men in quick stealth, reunited with Saira.

“Anything of interest?” asked Culann, while keeping watch behind their group.

“Either than this massive structure out in the middle of the Saol Crua forests?” it was a statement from Saira, not a question.

“Nothing much, though that statue out in the garden seems to have taken some recent damage”

“Aye, I noticed too while making my way over to you along with Culann” agreed Fearon, eyes engrossed towards the entrance they stood before.

“Heh, you’re only saying that because she pointed out what you missed!” teased Culann, turning his head towards the others. Fearon, the older veteran, merely scowled threateningly at Culann. Possibly years beforehand, he would of killed the younger scout. Of course Fearon knew there were witnesses at present, he would just have to wait later to ‘educate’ his junior.

“Well let’s move in, see if anybody is home” whispered Saira while quietly slipping in between the two doors, entering the palace.

“Or ‘anything’ for that matter” muttered Culann to himself, closely following after Saira.

“Shut up” growled Fearon, after over-hearing Culann's not so low mutter. The inside of the palace astounded them all as they each stood silently still with wide eyes and open mouths. Captivated by the impressive interior of the palace, Culann couldn’t help but suppress a whistle of marvel from his lips which echoed inside. Saira and Fearon couldn’t blame him, never had they experienced such alien architecture before. The inside was much the same as the outside, the walls and floor being of white marble.

Various large and grandiose paintings hung on the walls, all framed in gold. Mostly depicting scenes of battle or foreign landmarks of great extravagance and beauty. Crystal chandeliers of impressive size hung from the arched roof. Saira was finding it difficult not to focus on what was to happen, if any of the chandeliers were to fall on anyone below.

A carpet of majestic red begun from the entrance and lead down the grand marble hall, of which was the interior of the palace. An elegant and large fountain stood in the center, similar to the statue out in the garden. It was also of an angelic woman, with long flowing hair reaching down to the great bowl upon which she stood. Water flowed out from a small bowl she held in her out-stretched left hand. The scouts noticed, that the angels ill-fated right arm had been severed, and was lying on the ground in several shattered stone fragments.

“This...this place belongs to the Modera...” spoke out Fearon, with a sudden solemn expression in his hardened features.

“These types of constructions, of which eat up the land and make them feel our peoples superiors, this could only belong to them”. There was a hint of sour distaste in his speech. Fearon more than other Azkelts, held the Modera society in great contempt.

“But, but this is not their realm. Why would they build a structure in so secluded an area and far out of reach from their people?” quizzed Culann, as he shook his head in bewilderment. Saira nodded her head in deep thought, asking herself the same questions as Culann.

“There are many possible reasons....conquest maybe” Stated Fearon, with unmistakable hatred showing in his eyes.

“Conquest!?...thats absurd!” snapped Saira suddenly at Fearon.

“New ground for them to expand their empi..”

“There has been very few skirmishes or loss of blood between the tribal realms and the Modera, especially of recent times..” continued Saira defiantly, interrupting Fearon and causing impatient anger to show on the veterans face. He was not a man who was keen on being interrupted, especially by those younger than he.

“And most of the bloodshed that did ever occur, was sparked by tribal dictators of warfare and their unquenchable greed!” Saira did not share the hatred for the Modera that many of her peers held. The Modera don't inflict on her people or any of the other tribes distress. It is true, that they deem themselves as superior to the tribal realms. But what great harm does that pose to her people? As long as they are living in continuing peace. Jealousy, is one of the dark evils of my people thought Saira while glaring viciously at Fearon, her dark brown eyes smoldering.

“Calm yourself Saira, I'm merely suggesting reasons. We do not know a lot of what is happening in the realms of the Modera, rulers change as do the times..” Fearon and Saira just stood dangerously still, glaring darkly at eachother, as if the flames in their eyes could incinerate eachother to the ground.

“I think its best we expand our investigation, before drawing too many conclusions, hmmm!?” suddenly spoke up Culann, a little awkwardly and high pitched, as he tried his best to restore the peace between the 'adults'.

“...Of course, let us carry on” Saira agreed with Culann, breaking off the alarming tension. Fearon grunted and wore a bitter expression, but began to walk in step with the other two scouts as they cautiously walked towards the fountain. Spears firm and ready in their experienced hands, yet the air was eerily calm. No signs of any threats or life for that matter, within the palace. As they neared the fountain, Fearon halted abruptly, causing confusion to the others. Until they too, came to a halt.

“That smell...its close...and very strong!” Culann held his nose in disgust, repulsed by the strong stench.

“A smell I know too well....” Fearon spoke with a chilled voice, causing a frost to the atmosphere.

“....the smell of death” Saira and Culann turned wide surprised eyes towards Fearon. But the veteran spoke not a word. He armed his spear, and began to circle around the fountain. The other two watched on, disturbed by the putrid stench and Fearon's sudden dead silence. Until Fearon beckoned with a finger for them to join him. There was a dismal feeling in the air that none of them could deny, as the stench grew stronger as they slowly stepped towards Fearon.

There laying on the floor, to the shock of the scouts, was the body of a slain Modera Nobleman. The man had been large in stature, presumably once handsome. He had gold thinning hair and a slight mustache. His skin however, was beginning to decay a pale blue colour and his white tunic was drenched in dried blood. Even more to the scouts surprised horror, were the deeply cut lacerations, opening up the Noble's chest and exposing his bloody shredded innards. But his heart had been removed, quite savagely.

“What wild beast of the forests of Saol Crua, would savage a man in such a way!?” asked Culann aloud, his voice trembling in cold fear. His eyes darted between the corpse and his companions.

“A man....not a beast...” corrected Fearon, his expression grave.

“...A darkly twisted man, this brutal act was done with tools” Fearon crouched down low, examining the wound for every detail. He gathered, that the Noble's chest had being torn apart from two directions. The cuts in the flesh, nearly resembled teeth marks, but none of the beasts of Saol Crua were so lethal. And had it been the works of any of the creatures of the forest, they would of devoured the prey completely. No, this was another mans doing. Fearon was accustomed to the sights of death, but only on the hard and of than cruel fields of battle. Even he, was struck with a chilling discomfort of what sort of demonic soul, could slaughter a man in this beyond vicious manner.

“Yes, it had to be a man. There was a duel here...a dispute” concluded Saira, crouched low, examining the body along with Fearon. Culann paced around the palace, shaking his head with a frantic look. Fearing that the twisted man of evil, would return to his kill. Saira began to closely inspect the deceased Noble's clothes. He wore long jet black trousers and a brown leather belt around his waist, which was encrusted with red reflective jewels. His boots, matching his trousers, deep black with gold buckles and were cleanly polished. It was becoming clear to Saira, he was a man of fine livery. Attached to his belt, were two long silver sheaths of same length. Missing from them however, were the actual swords. Saira raised an eyebrow, puzzled at the absence of these twin swords.

While peering closely at the mans tunic, she saw it was of fine silk material. Before it had being torn at the chest and covered in blood, it had possibly being a fine cream in appearance. This lead her to believe, the man may have not being anticipating the fight. Saira knew very little of Modera customs and clothing, but she did not believe this is what a Modera Noble would wear for battle.

He did however, wear a right shoulder guard. It was like the sheaths, silver in colour, yet covered in scratches and dents. In the middle of the shoulder guard, was a gold emblem. It displayed a golden bird of mystical origin with wings spread out in full length, clutching two swords of war in its mighty talons. There had being writing inscribed beneath the gold emblem, but it was too severely flailed to read.

“He must have being a Modera Warrior or hero...” spoke out Saira, finally breaking the lengthly silence they had held. Culann stopped pacing, and drew his attention to Saira, as did Fearon.

“He looked to have being a man of great strength and prowess” agreed fearon, nodding his head towards Saira.

“I don't think we should remain here much longer, we would want to report this back to our people in quick haste”

“Yes I agree, while the sun is still hanging high above the sky” said Saira, her thoughts and attention still resting on the savaged Modera Nobleman

“Yes! I totally agree! Lets please leave the dead man!” exclaimed Culann suddenly, with hesitance clearly running through his voice. Both Fearon and Saira scowled at their younger and more inexperienced companion. But they too, shared his urgency of departing from the foreign palace and returning home. All of them clearly now fearful of the structure, as it had lost its once enchanting appeal.

As the scouts began to leave for the exit, departing from the fountain, Saira slowed her pace until coming to a definite halt. Fearon narrowed his eyes at her, with a frustrated look. Culann stopped also, turning a dour face towards Saira and it was evident from his eyes, of what he was thinking. No please....not more dead people!

“Look! Over there beside the wall!” called out Saira, her voice echoing in the grand palace hall.

“I think....its another body” Saira sprinted with great speed towards the body slumped against the wall. It appeared to match the size of a young child. In fact it was of a young girl, five years of age. She wore dress of royal blue, fitting for a little princess and a bracelet of a glorious gold hung from her tiny wrist. Her eyes lay shut and she wasn't moving.

“Oh no, it is only a small child! A little girl. What loathsome man, would be so hideous inside to slay a young child!?”

“No...the child is not dead, but looks near ready to embrace it. She has resided in the palace without food nor water” noted Fearon. The girl's features were very pretty. She had pale delicate skin and long white hair, but a fresh devastating gash went down her right eye. She was also barely breathing.

“But for how long Fearon!?” He examined the child's face closer. Fearon was trained in survival tactics, how to live through long durations of little water or food. To his trained eyes, he could see the dryness and cracks of the girl's lips. She was also very dark under the eyes.

“...the child appears to be on her third day. That is about as long as a child of her age can remain alive”

“We must take the child into our care immediately!”

“She is not of our concern, a Modera Nobleman's child. She was part of this dispute no doubt, we would be meddling in affairs that are not our own...”

“You would simply leave her to die! So the monster would perhaps return and finish her off!? Or maybe one of the wild beasts would come fir....!!”

“Listen Saira! She is not of Azkelt blood...she doesn't even share any of the distinctive traits of an Azkelt's looks. How would you explain her to our people, who are weary of the Modera!?........do not be a fool 'girl'” Fearon stood upright, with a stone-like composure and fixed hard eyes down on Saira. She stared back with flames in her brown eyes blazing, showing clear defiance.

“Saira makes a point....would you want the child's possible death on your conscious? Haunting your dreams?” Culann had being keeping his silence until now. He had carefully listened to Fearon's and Saira's exchanges, and had now picked a side.

“.....traitor, it appears I am outnumbered” complained Fearon sourly, who had now lost his hardened composure.

“I will take the child into my care, I will make sure she is accepted. If anyone has any discord with the child, they can deal with me” assured Saira with a sharp dangerous smile fixed on her youthful features.

“...No doubt you would. Fine! Do as you wish 'girl'. But she is not born of an Azkelt, she will not take home to the Saol Crua woodlands.......she shall ever be a loose leaf on the forest tree, eventually caught up by the strong undying winds” promised Fearon to Saira, not doubting the words he spoke.

“Maybe Fearon....maybe. But I shall give her my guiding direction to master the winds” solemnly vowed Saira. Fearon knew also, she did not doubt the words she spoke and so he admitted defeat. The scouts eventually wrapped the child in various skins to keep her warm and Fearon begrudgingly, carried the alien child. He also noticed the gold bracelet hanging from the child's wrist, he brought it close up to his eyes. To My Bright Angel Hayana read the bracelet in elegant calligraphy, Modera style.

“Hmph! Hay-an-a......what kind of name is that!?” grumbled Fearon in annoyance to himself and concealed the bracelet back within the skins. The Azkelt scouts in quick speed, exited from the palace. Descending back into the vast forests of green, eager to return to their home and tribe. But what yet was to become of this package, that they would deliver to their home...? the thought ran deeply through all three of the scouts minds...