The Splendor of Dawn -Ch. 2

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A few moments passed before Devlynconceded to the proposal. “Shall we go for a short walk then. The invitation is open to you as well Alexander,” said Velaria as a small smile broke across her face. “I’m not sure. We have chores to do and our uncle isn’t the most forgiving when it comes...

Chapter Two

The Unspoken Tale 

A few moments passed before Devlynconceded to the proposal. “Shall we go for a short walk then. The invitation is open to you as well Alexander,” said Velaria as a small smile broke across her face.

         “I’m not sure. We have chores to do and our uncle isn’t the most forgiving when it comes to tardiness. And please, call me Alex.”

         “The choice is yours Alexander,” said Velaria, either not hearing the last phrase or choosing to ignore it. “I do think you would benefit if you joined us.” The way she mentioned this led Devlyn to think that she was not simply referring to listening to a story.

         Alex’s uncertainty was evident. It was easy for Devlyn to see the struggle between following orders and listening to this stranger who claimed to possess knowledge held by none in Cor’lera. The skepticism in his eyes was not a rare trait among his family, and Devlyn thought that if he did not intervene, his cousin would surely leave him alone with this stranger.

         “Come on Alex, join us. It would be nice to have another set of ears to hear what she has to say,” said Devlyn before Alex had a chance to respond. “And besides, you’ll never believe it if it came from my mouth later. She might be fabricating a wild story, but it might also hint at the truth! You know how deeply I want to understand what happened all those years ago. Everything is fogged over as it is.”

         Eyes downcast in thought with his brow set, Alex bided his time before responding. “Alright. But when we’re finished, you’re taking the heat from Abbot Entiel if we’re late,” Alex finally answered, if not stubbornly. “All this before breakfast nonetheless! You’re lucky it’s your Birthday, Devlyn.”

         Velaria waited as the two bickered about chores until deciding it had gone on long enough and interrupted them both. “Well, if it’s all settled, how about that walk.” They both nodded in agreement and once she saw their confirmation, she turned and began to walk away from the road. Devlyn and Alex quickly caught up with her; they realized she had no intention of slowing her pace. The three walked quietly as they made their way west towards the Bethyl River, hidden from the Abbey School and the village of Cor’lera.

         Alex could remain silent no longer. “Well?” he interjected quite rudely after they walked a fair distance.

         Velaria seemed amused by Alex’s impatience, yet Devlyn wasn’t certain whether it was from rudeness or politeness on her part. Such thoughts vanished when Velaria began to speak. “To begin, its best you know that Evellyn is no murderer. She’s actually a very loving individual.”

         Relief washed over Devlyn as he heard that simple phrase, even though it was spoken by a stranger he did not necessarily trust. Some unknown emotion sprung at hearing such a statement. It was actually the first time he had ever heard anyone say it. He dreamt of hearing those words, but never dared to hope it.

         Noticing the expression upon his face Velaria continued, “Yes, it truly is wonderful news isn’t it? I too find it spectacular, even though I’ve known it along and have never thought otherwise. I can only imagine how welcoming it is for you to hear such words. For surely, you can sense the truth behind them.”

         “It certainly is nice to hear, but how could you know this and none other?” asked Devlyn.

         “Yes, how could you know this? We were told that no one was present except those involved. And Devlyn here is the only one left in the village,” said Alex, implying that Velaria was somehow involved.

         “Regrettably, I was not present. Surely if I was, history would have been recorded differently,” said Velaria in a somber tone. “And you Devlyn, would still call the Cor Inn your home, filled with your family and mirth a plenty.” Before continuing, her tone shifted back into her authoritative manner, which seemed most appropriate for her. “Fortunately, I had a very reliable source, who witnessed the event without being seen. Some of what I’ll tell will be old news to you; yet it’s vital that you know the truth from the deceit.”

         Velaria looked over both boys before beginning the story, making sure that neither had any objections. “What happened first is common knowledge, namely, a struggle took place and a man was found dead on his living room floor with a toddler crying atop his chest and a bloodied girl fleeing from sight into the Illumined Wood. Yes, your father resisted a struggle and answered it with his life. What is not common knowledge is who caused the struggle and eventual murder of Abire. At the time they were foreigners, unknown to most in these parts, but they were sent from Gneal. It was believed that the group was sent from the capitol city to ensure better security for the village. However, their purpose and true identity was concealed.

         “It just so happens, that when I last saw you, Devlyn, I came to visit your family with one of Evellyn’s brothers, Arlyn. As we passed through the gates we were confronted by unfamiliar men, dressed as soldiers of the Kingdom of Perrien. We decided to remain unknown, to not raise suspicions. Anyway, they were easily recognizable, Humans who once called Dwonia their home. The involvement of such people with the Kingdom of Perrien could result only in trouble. Terrible suspicions were raised in Arlyn and myself.

         “As for their purpose, rumors were going about Cor’lera concerning its name; a name that stretches back to when the Ancient Language was still used, and only just beginning to fade. A legend of a mythical treasure has always accompanied it. I believe that those men were none other than treasure hunters. What was unknown all those years ago is clear today, the fallen Cyndinari Empire is regaining its former strength and searches for a powerful weapon which could lead to their undoing, as it did all those years ago. They believe that their defeat was dealt by a power of incredible strength and that after order was returned, the Luminari Elves, now calling Lucillia their home, had it secreted away. They believe that weapon was concealed within Cor’lera. They crave it something fierce.

         “The Cyndinari Elves felt so strongly about this, that for the first time in over a millennia, they rose their arms once again. Abire was the first to fall in open murder at the hands of that Dark Empire. Since their purpose was to ascertain the location of this mythical treasure, their priorities were of those who could locate it. And as it happens, your family stretches back to those early days of Lucillia and in fact migrated to this very village at the time when Roendryn, the first King of Lucillia, renamed this village Cor’lera. We believe the enemy thinks your family to be the guardians of that treasure.

         “The only villagers of interest to them were those who could direct them to this treasure. Your mother was believed the key to locating it. Following your father’s death, they abducted her and anyone else who might be of use to them. Your brother and all of your mother’s kin were spirited from the village under the secrecy of nightfall. The treasure hunters did not consider you and your sister useful, primarily because of your age. Miraculously you were both spared from death. To insure that Leilyn would not reveal the truth to the villagers, she was blinded and made mute by a dark magic. As you know, she was last seen running into the Illumined Wood. You were so young at the time, Devlyn, that they left you wailing upon the corpse of your dead father, unconcerned that you might recall the events.

         “Well into the night you were discovered crying upon Abire, while Evellyn and Ayden, along with all her kin had vanished from the village. As I’m sure you’ve heard, it was told that the force of Perrien soldiers present were said to have heard the commotion of the struggle and pursued Evellyn and her kin into the night before any were aware of the events. That force never reported back to Cor’lera. Rather then return and inform the villagers of their pursuit, they journeyed all the way to Gneal. It was never reported here that their alleged pursuit was actually an abduction.

         “That is the extent of my knowledge. I hope it can help you see and believe the truth,” concluded Velaria. She turned her back from Devlyn and Alex and gazed in the direction of where the sun would soon rise. Devlyn found himself starring in the opposite direction, he knew little of geography, but from the few maps he had seen, he knew that Gneal laid far to the west, across the River Arvil. While many of the historical details confused Devlyn and would have been very interesting at another time, the city of Gneal consumed all his thought. If Velaria speaks truly, then my brother and mother are no further than Gneal, he thought in wonder.

Noticing that Devlyn was lost in thought, Alex approached Velaria with his own doubts. “Let me get this straight,” he began in a hushed skeptical voice so Devlyn might not overhear, “this source of yours is the only witness. Out of everyone in Cor’lera, this source claims to know the truth, while the entire village is in error. And to top it off, all of Evellyn’s family taken to Gneal to unearth some mythical treasure.”

Alex paused, hoping to show his doubt and display all the obvious flaws in Velaria’s account. Rather than responding to his rant, Velaria simply continued her gaze to the east, awaiting the sun to rise. Enflamed by her silence, Alex took up his rant again, “This is nonsense! We both wasted our morning and an early start on our chores. Worst of all, Devlyn will be lost to his dreaming for a month! I’m leaving.”

In a quizzical tone, not breaking her eastward gaze, Velaria finally spoke, saying, “Devlyn would be stricken if you decided not to accompany him to Gneal.”

         Gasping in disbelief at her presumptuousness, Alex could not help but respond curtly, “Are you out of your mind? What makes you so conceited as to think Devlyn would join you on some hunt for his murderous family? There’s no way my cousin believed that rubbish you spat at us. And to follow you to Gneal, wasn’t that wretched story enough harm on your part?”

         “Perhaps, you should ask him before continuing to place words in his mouth for him. I believe he is quite capable of his own,” responded Velaria in her same mellow tone.

         Just as Alex was about to fire back, Devlyn approached them both, unaware of their heated discussion, and asked Velaria, “Would it be possible to go there; Gneal that is. I’m exhausted of living in the shadows of lies. The worst that could happen is returning with no more certainty than I currently possess.”

         “If you’re so convinced by this woman, this stranger, than go on your silly quest, I’ll have no part of it,” said Alex, still fiery from his interaction with Velaria.

         “What,” exclaimed Devlyn. “How could you be so selfish? Don’t you understand what this could mean? This woman revealed more of the truth than we’ve ever heard. And just think about it, all the pieces fit.”

         “I believe our neighbors. You know, the people we grew up with. The one’s that have taken care of us our entire lives. I’ve no reason to doubt them!”

         “What if they themselves don’t know all the details? They might not be actively deceiving us, simply passing on what they were told. All they could know is what they saw, and what they saw was me crying as a toddler atop my father’s corpse and my mother’s family vanished in the night.”

         “That could be true. But leave Cor’lera for Gneal. Abbot Entiel would track us down before we made it to the closest village.”

         Devlyn, looked down at his feet in failure, until he at last looked up with confidence and spoke with finality saying, “I have no one else to ask. The entire village looks at me as the son of a murderer. There’s no future for me here, you now that. There’s no saying what sort of trouble we may get into crossing those hills, and even worst once we reach Gneal itself, if we even reach it. Alex, I need you.”

         “The choice belongs to you alone Alexander,” said Velaria, interrupting the dialogue. “Remember, this will not be an easy journey and your aid would prove most beneficial. I must warn you both though, if you decide to embark on this journey, the life you know will end. But a memory from a distant past.”

         “Alex, I have to find out what actually happened,” said Devlyn. He took a deep breath before continuing, “I can’t do it on my own. I fear that if I try, something terrible will happen. Please Alex, won’t you come?”

         Alex took a few moments considering his cousin’s plea, although not as resistant this time around. “Alright, I’ll go as far as Gneal, and help however I can. But you know very well what the conditions in Gneal are like. They are said to have abandoned their alliance with Lucillia in all but word. You and her both have the looks of Lucillians. If they discover that Velaria is in fact from there we won’t be leaving Gneal to return to Cor’lera, we’ll end up in the same dungeons as the rest of your family. If they’re even down, there.”

         “Thank you, Alex. There might actually be a chance to save my mother, Ayden and the rest,” said Devlyn with an elated tone. “Velaria, when can we leave and what should we do before leaving?”

         Eyeing them both up and down as an inspector would, she finally said, “The clothes you’re wearing are fine for travel in the snow. Horses would be useful, but they’ve grown rare in this region in recent times, so we’ll have to do without. Perhaps we could purchase some the closer we get to Gneal, or even in the city itself. Our pace will regrettably be slower than I had hoped, but nothing can be done about that. Saying any farewells would prove disastrous. We should leave after the sun sets, when everyone sleeps or is preoccupied. Luckily, the Abbey School is west of the village, so we shouldn’t run into anyone as we leave.

         “Make sure to rest as much as possible today. I doubt sleep will greet our eyes until the following night. We will have to travel as far away from Cor’lera as possible. And we must reach Gneal well before word of your disappearance becomes known there.” Devlyn and Alex both remained silent and attentive as Velaria passed on her instructions. “I will make my presence in Cor’lera known, that way when neither of you are found, they will assume that I took you both south across the mountains to Lucillia. They’ll never suspect us to head west towards Gneal itself. Meet me at the low hill due west of the Abbey School, the one standing beside the River Bethyl. Wait until the night is quiet. Try to avoid coming into town, it would be best if no connection could be made between us. Just because we want them to make that connection, doesn’t mean we should make it easy for them. I’ll gather what supplies I can and I’ll meet you both here tonight. Take care and good day.” With that she turned her horse south and was off, but not before adding, “You really shouldn't slouch; it’s bad for your back and quite unbecoming.”

         Left speechless after their encounter, Devlyn and Alex walked back to the barn where their chores remained incomplete, Devlyn with his back straighter, revealing his true height. “And to think, the rooster hasn’t even crowed yet. I never thought so much could happen before the sun rose!” said Alex in a visibly improved mood, excited almost. Shortly following the rooster was heard and the two cousins went to the barn door to watch the sun climb slowly above the Illumined Wood, casting wondrous colors across the Eastern sky, reflecting off the trees beneath.

         Returning to their chores after leisurely watching the sun mark the beginning of a cold wintry day, Devlyn could not help but think of never returning to the Abbey School and that awful Abbot Entiel. While the future remained unwritten, the idea of returning to the Abbey School seemed absurd. As if today marked an end and beginning at the same time, just as the rising sun marked the end of night and the beginning of day.

         Devlyn and Alex spent the first sunlit hour of the day completing their morning chores. Once everything was gathered, they made their way for the Abbey School; it had a single tower, and only three wings. The pompous Abbot awaited them as they walked to the back door. He looked prepared to scold when he greeted them. He first looked at his nephew, Alex, and then to his other nephew, Devlyn, but the Abbot recognized him more so as a ward than family, and lastly to the eggs and milk carried between them.

         Abbot Entiel seemed disappointed at the lost chance to hassle Devlyn before his morning meal, but without fail he shortly contrived a plan to fill that gap. “Well, since Alex pitied and aided the poor Lucillian this morning, you can start by following me to the kitchens,” he began, rather than with a pleasant greeting. “But since it is a special day, you need only stay a short while.”

         Devlyn dared not inquire of the reason, but followed the Abbot timidly to the kitchens. “Now, several items must be collected from town for this evening’s party. Since we must remain here and make final preparations for the coming events, you are the only one able to run to town and back. All before classes begin today of course,” said the Abbot.

         Fairly familiar with the early annoyances, Devlyn held a small reserve of hope that the Abbot might hold back on his favorite past time. Devlyn followed Abbot Entiel through the kitchen door and placed the eggs and milk atop the counter. Since, this was the first he heard of any party, he decided it best to focus on it rather than the errand itself. The Abbot’s tone changed remarkably at the mention of the party. He grew excited over the coming celebration, explaining in fine detail the luxuries, along with a guest list, whose end Devlyn did not hear. Amongst the incessant rambling of names, Devlyn interrupted the Abbot asking the purpose of the party, for he was still uncertain of it. What he did know, was that it was not for him; the thought did not even cross his mind.

         “Bloody Lucillians! Never have I known one so rude. One would think that an extended residence at an Abbey School would have taught some manners,” sneered Abbot Entiel, making it clear that Devlyn was more of a ward of the school than a student. “Natures such as yours, I’m afraid to admit, simply cannot be corrected. Even after years of reformation. You really are fortunate that we agreed to your staying here, even amidst all our failed attempts to properly educate you. While such failure weighs heavily upon us, we know the fault belongs not with us. Your mother’s blood simply runs too thickly through your veins. As for the purpose of the party, my brother, he’s a general you know, will be stopping by our modest village later this afternoon on a routine inspection of Cor’lera. Being born and raised here, the Council of Perrien agreed that he would best serve the Kingdom with the protection and security of this region. The party was my dear sister’s idea, truth be told. Once she found out that Lex was returning to Cor’lera for a visit, not a moment passed before she began making preparations for a party of sorts.”

         Devlyn lost focus as the Abbot continued his monologue of his siblings, and shifted his focus on putting the eggs in their proper place, until another Ei’anaceur walked into the kitchen, interrupting the Abbot mid-sentence. “Is this the same general that hunted down that murderous Lucillian, Evellyn, and her family?”

         The interruption bothered the Abbot little; it actually delighted him, especially since it was the favorite of his brother’s achievements. “Oh yes, he is most recognized for that. Especially in this region of Perrien, he was the head of the village guard at the time and the first to organize the town guard on that awful night when Abire was murdered. He led the hunt for that wretched woman and her vile kin.”

         “Pah, they should’ve taken this one as well. Leaving a toddler to be cared for by Ei’anaceur. What was that brother of yours thinking?” said Professor Elias.

         I bet you would have liked that, Lex leading me off to Gneal in chains with my family, thought Devlyn. A smirk had spread across the Abbot’s face, as if he heard Devlyn’s thoughts. The look in his eyes suggested that there was nothing more he wanted than to see Devlyn locked up in the cells of Gneal. Rather than speak his longing desire, he said with an emotionless voice, “No, Perrien is far too preoccupied to concern itself over insignificant boys. He will simply have to remain our ward and hopefully his foul nature might be realigned while under our care. Speaking of which, it’s time you made your way into town.”

         Before turning away from Devlyn, the Abbot drew a piece of parchment from a pocket concealed within his robes and held it before Devlyn’s face in an intimidating manner. “Not one item is to be overlooked. My sister personally drew up everything on this list. She’ll have only the best for our dear brother, so remember that if one item is not up to par, you will make a second trip following your classes.”

         A single glance at the list was enough to overwhelm Devlyn. Its length was unbelievable; he wondered how so much was required for a simple party. “There’s no way I’ll be able to haul all of this back from town,” said Devlyn, not daring to mention the amount of time it would waste.

         “Always complaining. Very well, you can take the donkey and cart if you must. Now get on with yourself. There’s no doubt you’ll be late as it is.”

         “Yes, hurry along. And you’re not to be late for my lesson either, boy,” said Professor Elias.

         “Yes Professor. Is there anything else Abbot?” Devlyn said obediently. Without receiving a response, Devlyn left the kitchen. Happy to be away from the two Ei’anaceur, Devlyn was soon out of the Abbey School and in the stables where a donkey was stabled. Without wasting any time, Devlyn drew the donkey from the stall and hitched him to a cart and was soon guiding the donkey to the village in the cold winter morning.

 

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