I was recently invited to submit the first chapter of Prophecy's Queen to The Writership for their upcoming Podcast Project. I was very pleased to do so, and decided to share that same chapter with all of you.
Prophecy's Queen is a short, 35,00 word novella length book that is a prequel to The Triadine Saga. It tells the story of Elven Princess Rozlynn and her decision to undergo the Change, marry the human King Leondis Tarbane, and give birth to The Children of The Prophecy.
I hope you enjoy this First Look into the story.
"And I forbid you even talking about it!" Queen Lilliene was furious with her sister for bring up the same topic again. The Princess was stubborn, but it ran in the family.
"All the signs point to this being the right time, Sister," Rozlynn argued.
"The signs, the signs," the Queen echoed, tired of the argument. "You and your sorceress are the only ones who think the time is now."
Rozlynn roughly pushed her chair back from the table and rose with a sigh. She walked over to a tower window and looked out across the placid alpine valley.
"And if we are the ones who are right? What happens then?"
"You know I am not a Prophecy Scholar," Queen Lilliene began, trying to soften her tone. "Will you present your case to the Council at least?"
"That bunch of old fools?" Rozlynn was still worked up. "I don't know why you even meet with them! You know your husband has no respect for their decisions at all."
"Theinial agreed that the decisions of the Council would be honored and respected," the Queen retorted.
"But not followed. Not if they went against his own wishes. He lets the Council sit here in Alpenvail and make decisions such as how much silk will be required next season, or if we will secretly trade honey-mead with the humans, but nothing that ever affects Kalystra. He would never follow the word of the Council when it came to running HIS city."
The Queen long ago gave over the daily activities of running the Elven city of Alpenvail to the Council of Nine. These were a group of respected, wise and ancient Elves who settled in the hidden alpine valley centuries ago. They honored the old ways and more than most they understood the reason for this city to exist in the first place. It was this Council who accepted the responsibility of securing the Earlach Stone after The Breaking of the World at the end of the First Age.
The Earlach Stone was the centerpiece of a magical talisman created through the combined efforts of Elves, Dwarves, humans and the Nordae-Grandia. The Triadine, as it was named, played a major role in ending the war. Mountains were leveled, and new mountains were raised. The earth was shattered and reformed, then shattered again. Only the resolve of the Princess Symerna to not let the Triadine completely destroy the world prevented that from happening.
Rozlynn understood on some level what the Queen was feeling. Sometimes you had to make sacrifices for the greater good. Symerna knew that, and Rozlynn knew it as well.
Princess Rozlynn was the most beautiful of the three sisters. Thus far she had not married and spent much of her time in scholarship — though she did not lack for suitors. Even if she had not been of royal blood, there would have been dozens of Elven men pursuing her. Hair of gold that flowed to her waist framed a perfect face with almond shaped blue-green eyes set just the right distance apart. Her Elven features were pronounced, with high cheek bones, pointed ears, naturally sculpted eyebrows, and a slightly pointed chin. Her nose was dainty but was perfect for her face, with a gentle uplift at the end.
She was slim like most of her kind, though strong and fit. She preferred walking to riding a horse, though she was an excellent rider. With all the research she did throughout the region, she spent much of her time dressed in nondescript traveling clothes and walking the forest roads of the Aren. Though men and Elves were no longer in formal contact with one another, she did keep open communication with the Julean Abbey in Caergana, where arguably the best writings on Prophecy were maintained.
The sisters were currently in the Queen's private study high in a tower in Alpenvail. The castle complex contained two grand towers — Queen's and King's — connected by a delicate bridge. This city of the Elves located high in the Lumin Mountains was something of a magical place. With the aid of the Earlach Stone, it spent its days in perpetual spring, despite the season's weather. The power of the Stone directed the energy of the sun into the surrounding valley using a form of magic now lost to the Elves. This most powerful earth stone was secured in an impregnable tower in the center of the valley, protected by powerful magic and the very isolation of the Elves.
The city was overflowing with flowers and fruit trees of every type imaginable. The higher elevations of the valley would see the necessary frost to set the fruit on apple, cherry and pear trees while the lower levels grew every form of citrus known. Vegetable gardens were abundant. Sheep, pigs and domesticated red deer provided a year-round supply of livestock. Peacocks, chickens, geese, pheasant, ducks and pigeons supplied a diverse mix of poultry to challenge any chef. The lakes that dotted the valley were home to two species of trout whose population was well managed by the efficient Elves.
One side of the valley was covered in silkworm farms, with mulberry trees supporting millions of cocoons. Silk in various forms was the dominant fabric used in everything from coveralls for working in the fields to fine gowns for celebrating the dozens of holidays that called for feasts in the Elven city.
Life was easy for the Elves of Alpenvail, and in their isolation they wanted nothing to do with The Prophecy or anything in the outside world. Rozlynn knew that presenting her case to the Council of Nine was a total waste of time and that the result was predetermined.
"I will be leaving in the morning," she announced to the Queen. "I'm going to the Abbey to meet with Brother Hewin. He recently received new volumes of Goblin prophecy, discovered in ruins above the Northwood. He finished translating most of them, but there are still some things he needs my help with."
"You are going back out among the humans?" The Queen questioned. "Don't you have enough to study in Kalystra? Rykee is very proud of the work he has done on The Prophecy."
"I've been over every volume in the Royal Library a dozen times or more," Rozlynn replied. "And though Rykee has organized the volumes well, he is no Prophecy Scholar."
"I don't like it when you go out among the humans, even if it is just to the Abbey. You be careful Sister," Lilliene said firmly, "and take Darius with you."
"I always am, and I always do, My Queen," Rozlynn replied with just a little sarcasm in her voice. Roz loved her sister, but she told herself this was the last time she would debate The Prophecy with her.
The two women embraced as only sisters could in the midst of an argument, as one of the Queen's servants arrived in the doorway on the far end of the room.
"Excuse me, Your Majesty," the white-haired Elf said, bowing nearly double. "You have a visitor in the garden."
"In the garden?" She asked raising one eyebrow. "Send them up!"
"I, ah, Majesty, well, I don't think," the servant stammered, not knowing exactly how to reply.
"You don't think what?" She snapped, a little more terse than she wished.
"It's, it's a Dwarf, My Queen," he managed to say.
Rozlynn looked at her sister and laughed. "Bandefin," she said with a smile on her face.
"Who else?" Lilliene replied. "Tell him I will be right down," she instructed her servant.
* * *
The Dwarf was admiring several carved stone pieces adorning the Queen's garden when Lilliene entered from a small door at the base of the tower.
"How DO you get in here without my Elven Hunters noticing?" She demanded of the Dwarf, She strode across the Northern end of the high-walled arboretum and stood before the heavily bearded little man.
"The day that a Dwarf cannot evade an Elf is the day the sun will stop rising, the birds will stop singing, and the honey-mead of the Elves will turn to vinegar!"
The Dwarf took both of the Queen's hands in his own and bowed his head in respect. "It is good to see you again Lilliene," he said in his deep, rumbling voice.
"Well met Master Dwarf," the Queen replied formally. "What brings you to my city in the mountains?"
"I have several more tiella birds for you," he replied, motioning to a small cage on the ground nearby. "These are bred for the cold, and though they will return to me without guidance, you should be able to send them anywhere you wish at any time of the year and not worry about them freezing when leaving your valley."
The tiella bird was the ancient messenger bird of royalty in the Aren. Once all the races communicated over great distances using these marvelous little birds. They could listen to a message and speak it back to the recipient as long as it was not too complicated. This was not their only amazing talent. They could locate a person, any person, anywhere in the Aren. If you could describe them in a way that the little bird could understand, it would eventually find them.
"Thank you Bandefin," she said in earnest, "but I really do not know how useful these birds are any longer. There are so few of us who can speak with them today."
"The breeding program is something that I was doing anyway," he said softly, "and as you say, so few of us can speak with the messenger birds it made sense to bring you another batch of these sturdy fliers."
The ability to speak with the birds was now lost to humans and all but Bandefin's family of Dwarves. He was a distant relative of King Vargas Silverbeard, the last Dwarven King who died in the Great War at the end of the First Age. Queen Lilliene, Princess Rozlynn, and Lilliene's daughter Lynntania were the only Elves remaining who could speak with the messenger birds. Their use was now very limited.
"Bandefin!" Princess Rozlynn greeted her friend as she came running across the garden. "It is so good to see you!"
"Princess," the Dwarf replied, bowing formally.
"How long are you staying?" She asked. "At least stay for dinner. We are roasting a goose that got into my Sister's vegetable garden and made a huge mess of things. I've just been to the kitchen, and it smells wonderful."
"I'm afraid I cannot stay, Princess," the Dwarf replied, "as I don't want to be caught in the mountains after dark."
"You just don't want my Elven Hunters to know how you get in and out of here without being seen," the Queen said, only half-joking.
"That too, Your Majesty," the Dwarf said smiling. "Seriously, I have far to travel and really must be going. I only wished to drop these birds off and maybe get one mug of your fine honey-mead before I go."
As if on command, a kitchen servant appeared in the garden with a tray of light snacks and three mugs of the Elven honey-mead.
"Your wish is my command, Master Dwarf," Lilliene replied smiling. "Please, enjoy a little respite before for you leave."
"I think I can manage that," Bandefin replied also smiling. He did love his honey-mead.