A Brother's Tale

Auringoth was dead. Aurinias felt grief overwhelm him, stinging like jagged spikes of ice through his chest. Aurinias had been so close to his brother. . . .
“My………. brother was slain?”
“Aye, me lord,” said Tefaroc, nobleman of Senilos, friend of Aurinias. “He was killed on the front. He led a charge against their main battery, but it was a trap. They quickly had our battalion surrounded, and every last living soul in his legion was killed. ‘Tis said that one of the Dark Ones slew thy Auringoth. Alas, his death could not have come at a worse time. Perilous days are these. There are reports from the west that He is gathering His strength. Soon Gorgoron will fall. The tide of war seems to be turning. It seems we have not long left be-“
“Tefaroc, Tefaroc. Have thee not sense when to stop talking? Please…….. Leave me alone in my sorrow.”
“Yes, me lord.”
After Tefaroc had departed, Aurinias stood motionless for a few moments. All of his moments with his beloved kinsman flashed before his eyes. Playing in the Alon Moab, moments of sparring, the pranks, the laughter, the tears. . . . and now Auringoth was gone…… His grief built up in his heart, seeming to effervesce with every beat of his heart. Soon, though, the sadness began to get washed away by anger, and anger became maddening rage. He could no longer keep his torrent of emotions pent up inside his body. He let out an agonizing cry of despair and fiery rage.
“AHHHHHHHHHH! Whoever did this, be it mouse or Dark One, mark my words, thee will pay! I vow not to rest until thee hath been brought to justice and slain by mine own hand!” So Aurinias swore his revenge and so our tale begins.

The majesty of King Aurinor’s palace was renowned throughout the land. Intricate marble walkways were entwined about the gargantuan palace, with delicately woven tapestries that told tales of ages long past throughout the castle. At one point or another, all of these spectacular marble walkways led to a brilliant domed throne room. It was so huge that almost all of inhabitants of the city surrounding Cetia Palace, as it was called, could fit into this Great Hall. In the very middle of the hall, King Aurinor was perched, with his Queen Lucrecia at his side. Aurinor was an aging man, far from senility, and his voice was still as strong and spirit as sharp as it ever was. His love and leadership inspired his subjects, who were all steadfastly loyal to him. In the hall, all was silent and foreboding with the grim news of the death of Auringoth, the king’s eldest son. Then Aurinias burst into the room, the crash of the giant oak doors resounding throughout the enormous hall.
“Father! I ask leave of the palace,” Aurinias solemnly, his eyes downcast before his father and king.
“Aurinias! We are in the middle of a war, a war that may determine whether or not we all live or die. Thee, my son, hath proven thyself best among my generals, and though art heir to my throne, now that thy brother has been slain. I can hardly let thee go off on some pointless quest during times as dark as these!”
“Why would though leave?” Queen Lucrecia, mother of Aurinias, added in her gentle, chastising tone.
“I. . . . I cannot bear to stay. My brother’s death lies heavy on my heart. I have sworn to avenge him.” As he finished this sentence his pale green eyes rose to meet the brilliant golden eyes of his father.
“Aurinias,” his father said coldly. “What better way to avenge your brother than to fight the very evil that killed him?”
“I have a score to settle, my father and king. I will go with thy leave or without it.”
Now it was King Aurinias’s turn to avoid his son’s piercing gaze. “I have already lost one son, I can hardly bear to lose my only other one. But, I see thy soul is set. Very well then. Be gone ere sunset, lest I change my mind. Alas, it grieves me to see thee go.”
“Very well my king. And father?”
“Thank you.”

The intense afternoon sun beat down on Lazaroth, crown city of Senilos, land of the noble Easterlings. All seemed calm and tranquil inside the walled city with no sign of the war that was being fought all around, except for the west, where a cloud blacker than the darkest night hung low over the horizon. Its onyx shroud seemed to wreak of death and decay. It was towards this cloud Aurinias was headed.
He solemnly strode out of Lazaroth, sword in scabbard, chain mail underneath a cloak that hid the beautiful scarlet and emerald green colors of his land’s emblem. Aurinias felt the need to be incognito. He knew not where to go, nor how to find his brother’s slayer, yet his heart told him to head for the grim shadow in the west.
The West had not always been so foreboding. Once the Westerlies had been a kind and chivalrous people, their love of nature, alchemy, and horses renowned throughout the land. The East and West had lived in complete and utter harmony in those days. Then He came. Some say He came from the far Southwestern Lands, so distant that only rumors were told of the place. Some thought He had come from the prophesied Ethereal Plain. Others thought He came from over the Great Northern Ocean. But His coming marked the end of peace in the land. His omnipotent black power had quickly overcome the West. Now a force beyond imagination threatened the East. Dark times were at hand.
All this passed through the depths of Aurinias’s mind as he passed through the gates of Lazaroth, unheeded by the gateskeepers. He passed into the land of the Alon Moab. This was forest country. Majestic birches, oaks, maples, and a variety of other trees marked the landscape everywhere one turned. A gentle breeze always seemed to cool the sun’s harsh rays when they got too unbearable. Somewhere among the trees two larks called back and forth to one another, their mellifluous orchestra epitomizing the fairness of the day. The musty smell of acorns and pollen assaulted Aurinias’s nose. Life was everywhere among the forest’s dense foliage. Indeed, the woods of the Alon Moab gave no hint of the perilous battle going on in the outside world. Still, the Black Cloud was ever looming on the distant horizon.

So Aurinias journeyed through the vast Alon Moab for weeks, his mind compelling him to the ominous West. He lived off the luscious land and by night camped under the gentle summer night, with a blazing campfire to ward off pesky insects and other nocturnal creatures. Slowly the trees began to thin, and the foliage become less dense, until one day, about two fortnights after Aurinias began his journey, he suddenly came to a clearing. The black cloud was very near now, for Aurinias had reached the border of Lazaroth. The beginnings of the western lands lay only a few days’ journey ahead. In old times this in-between land, known as the Land of the Rolling Plain, had been magnificent plains that stretched for miles. Here the Westerlies and Easterlies would gather for the harvest festivals, their children merrily dancing across the hills. But now the landscape showed signs of decay, with none of the tan, rolling grasses that marked the plains. Only thick brown ooze stood where the once lush, swaying grasses had been. The monolithic Western force had already spread its deadly claw into the Rolling Plain Lands.
It was getting late, and the sun was beginning to go down behind the treacherous cloud in the west. Aurinias decided to camp beside a dark, murky lake. The only shelter he could find was beneath a grim looking oak, one that had probably once flourished with life but now looked cold and dead beside the lake’s desolate shore. The ground was so damp that he couldn’t start a fire, but that didn’t matter as there was no kindling wood anyway. The ferocious insects feasted on his tender skin where it was exposed. But Aurinias was so weary that none of this mattered. He quickly fell into a deep, dreamless slumber.

Aurinias woke the next morning to find a man staring at him. In complete shock, Aurinias reached for his sword lying next to his sleeping bag. Then the old man spoke.

“Be not afraid Aurinor’s son, put down thine arm.
This old man shall do you no harm.
Alas, how it grieves me to see thee so far away
From the home that thee loves where thee could not stay.”

“Thee speaks in riddles old man. How know thee my name? And why does though care about my business?” Aurinias demanded, sword still in hand.
“I know many things, my wisdom is great,
A wizard am I, such is my fate
Knowledge I seek and futures I see
I knew thee would sleep by this old oak tree.
I came to warn thee to abandon thy quest
Departeth now, return home and rest
For I have foreseen that should thee go on,
Thy swornt revenge shall go terribly wrong.”

Aurinias stood amazed but knew his keen eyes deceived him not. Standing before him was a real wizard. Ever since the Third Age wizards had become less and less seen in the land. But he saw the pale orange glow of the old man’s eyes and knew indeed it was a wizard. The wizard had shaggy white hair, a dusky brown cloak, and a gnarled sequoia staff through which he channeled his power and stored his knowledge. A wizard and his staff were one. Most wizards, including this one, looked like pathetic old men, but Aurinias knew, that even the very Black King himself would hesitate to anger a wizard. They were the wisest and one of the most powerful forces still left in the land. However, wizard or not Aurinias’s mind was set, and he knew that he had to go on.
“Sorry, my lord Wizard. I must go on. I have sworn that I will not rest until my brother’s slayer has been brought to justice. Heavy lies his death on my heart still.”

“Alas, I my mind told me thee would not heed
But my heart told me to try and warn thee
Of the danger thou wilt face and your tragic fate
But I see that it is already too late.
Cursed be thee, and ere the end of the moon
A Dark One’s hand shall spell out thy doom
And when the dust is lifted and when the Dark One has died
In each others arms shall the dead brothers lie.”

As the wizard said this, his eyes turned to gaze out at the west. Aurinias turned to look and see what held the old man’s gaze, and when he turned back around the old man was gone. Such were the ways of wizards. So Aurinias continued his journey westward, though far more disturbed and unsure of himself than when he had begun. He took one last forlorn look back at the old gnarled oak and the lake by its side, then he continued on his journey. But the wizard’s words continued to haunt him.

“Beware, of the Dark one, Aurinias, beware…….”

There was no difference between day and night. The horrific black cloud now blotted out the sun. He had reached the Western border. The land wreaked of the most foul things, and everything was bare and desolate. Not a single trace of life could be found anywhere. But there were the Enemy’s legions all over the place, many hidden from sight. From here, Aurinias had to be very cautious. He found a hiding spot to sleep when he was tired and was always careful to be as stealthy as possible.
Aurinias’s eyes strained to see across the dark, desolate plain. Suddenly, a cold wave of utter fear shook him. He noticed a dark shadow that he could even see through the dimness of the cursed West cast on the ground before him. He turned around and faced a shrouded figure, clothed completely in black, seeming to twist and writhe in the stillness. The only feature that marked its presence was its glaring red eyes. Before him stood one of the Dark Ones.
There were few Dark Ones, but their power was untold, almost as great as the Dark King himself. They were His generals, and the very mention of them cast fear into the hearts of man. For, though powerful, still men these Dark Ones were. They had once been great Western heroes and generals, but now they were tortured men who’s minds had been warped to do His bidding, and great power had been bestowed upon them. Very few could withstand their dark magiks (Mrs. Smith, magiks is an intentional word). It was to one of these foul creatures that his brother had supposedly succumbed. Now a Dark One stood before him, but Aurinias was calm and swallowed his fear, prepared to meet his destiny.
“Mortal, prepare to meet thy doom.” the Dark One rasped, it’s deep, insidious voice ringing in Aurinias’s ears.
“I had hoped to find thee here, or one like thee, for ‘tis said the likes of thee slew my brother. It is thee who will meet thy doom.” Aurinias rose, threw aside his cloak, drew his keen elven blade into his hand and cried, “Aerendil! Aerindil! Aerindil for the East!”
Aurinias struck hard and quickly, but not quickly enough. Quicker than his eye could see, the Dark One’s blade met with his own, the clang of their weapons ringing throughout the desolate land. Aurinias saw the Dark One’s sword and realized it was one of his own house. He noticed the green emerald in the middle of the sword hilt, with rubies on either side and gasped in shock. Only the King’s first born bore that sword, then passed it on to his first born child. His brother’s sword was locked with his own!
“You! You! How came thee by that sword, you abomination?”
The Dark One was silent, not even giving Aurinias the courtesy of an answer.
“It WAS thee! Thee killed my brother. I will have my vengeance, whether I die or not! AAAAHHHHHH!!!!!”
Aurinias was filled with a rage as he had never been before, even when he learned the news of his brother’s death. He fought and fought with all his might. Never before had he battled so valiantly. But with the Dark One’s power the battle was an even match. Every strike was squarely met with a parry. Aurinias began to grow tired, and he realized he was beginning to lose the battle. The Dark One struck on and on, never tiring. Aurinias’s hands felt numb. He was almost ready to give in to despair when a sudden picture flashed into his head. He saw his brother as he had last seen him, gazing over the fair land of Lazaroth the morning before his departure for the battle where he met his doom. Somehow, some way, this tiny, insignificant image gave Aurinias strength and comfort, and the will to win. He stepped back from the Dark One for a moment. Then he charged, letting out all of his feelings and emotions pent up inside him. So furious was the onslaught of Aurinias that even the Dark One couldn’t withstand it. The shadowed form toppled to the ground as his sword was knocked away. The Dark One wasn’t finished yet. It drew dagger hidden away from sight and prepared to do battle with it, but so swift was Aurinias that the dagger too was knocked away barely after the Dark One drew it. Then Aurinias was on him.
“For Auringoth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Aurinias cried and plunged his sharp sword into the writhing form of the Dark One.
Suddenly, the piercing red gaze of the Dark One changed, and it revealed beautiful golden eyes. These eyes showed not hatred or apathy, but fear and amazement.
“Aur…..in…ias. . .. . . .. .” the Dark One uttered, then it fell silent and moved no more. Aurinias bent down and lifted the shroud from the Dark One’s face, then screamed in horror. Aurinias felt agony such as he had never known before.
Aurinias knew not nor cared what damning sequence of events had transpired for it to come to this. All he knew was shock, fear, and grief. He reached for the dagger beside the fallen Dark One’s hunched form and plunged it into his own suffering heart. Aurinias laid down beside the Dark One - his brother, his dear, beloved brother and grieved no more.

So goes the sad tale of Aurinias and his brother.

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