Chapter 1: The Nemesis Blade

His name is Elianas.

Torrullin’s sanctuary is invaded by a desperate call through the spaces. Someone has stolen the Xenian seer Lowen Dalrish, and he suspects Agnimus, the draithen who nearly annihilated his world and then vanished without a trace.

It is time for the Animated Spirit to stand forth.

Meanwhile three Valla heirs await the rising of the Valleur Throne; only one will be chosen as Vallorin. When a prophecy is uncovered about Three Kingdoms and rumours of an army secretly building to prevent it, Torrullin realises the three heirs to the Throne are in danger, for the warmongers believe he will carve out three kingdoms, one for each heir.

It is time to deploy Nemesis, the mighty blade forged of two, of both darak and lumin.

As activity becomes frenetic in the spaces, the dark man of Torrullin’s visions and dreams stirs and becomes aware of the newness in the ether. He now seeks release from his long incarceration. He knows how to find the missing seer; more than that, he is the catalyst to releasing long-suppressed memory.

It is time for Torrullin’s Nemesis to stand forth. His name is Elianas.

Chapter 1

Listen not only with ears, friend. Listen also with your skin.

~ Arun, Druid

Sanctuary

ROCK STRATA SURROUNDING him revealed he was deep within the layering of ancient rock. Shades of colour gave evidence of depth. There was disconcertingly little else to see. It was akin to being far back in time.

Help me!”

Her desperate scream assaulted him anew and he swung swiftly, seeking, ever seeking. That terrified plea was behind him, as it was behind a moment ago, and the moment before, and yet he found nothing every time he moved, and found nothing now … only the sad echoes of opportunities forever lost.

Then the uncaring rock moved to close in and he was the one screaming.

TORRULLIN SAT UP, sweat-drenched and chilled. The sheets were twisted, pillows on the floor and there were scuffling sounds in the night. He took a breath, another and another to still his pounding blood, and swiped damp hair from his face. Ordinary sounds filled the dark – crickets, a far nightjar, perhaps a mouse in the closet – nothing alien, nothing frightening. A dream, and he was in his bed and there was no danger.

Shivering, he rose and found his robe by touch, pulled it on and wrapped his arms about his chest for warmth. Swallowing, he headed to the bathroom for a drink of water, and did not bother with lights.

On his way back to bed, he halted in the centre of the large and darkened space.

Help me!”

Torrullin swore under his breath and closed his eyes to listen to the echoes, really listened, but there was no more. He stood a long time waiting for the cry to repeat and, when it was not forthcoming, knew with certainty he would not hear it again. It had now gone beyond his ability to perceive, and it meant one of three possibilities.

One, it had been a dream and his waking mind toyed with him. Two, she was already dead, and that should not be possible. Three, god help her, she was in real danger, had sent a call, and was now masked from him.

Fingers tightened on the fabric of the robe. A disturbing, repeated dream he could swallow, for it no doubt spoke of his turmoil over this woman. Death he did not see as likely, for she was like to him. But the latter did not sit well.

He was in motion. The robe flew across the chamber, he dressed feverishly, returned to the bathroom to splash water on his face, brushed his teeth with hurried movements, and then vanished from there. There was one person able to understand. Even if he said not a word, his presence aided clarity.

Luvanor

Grinwallin

TEIGHLAR, SENLU EMPEROR and lord of Grinwallin, looked up in surprise from his midday meal. The sun-dappled portico threw geometric shadows over his pale face, darkening his blue eyes to the colour of deep water.

“Torrullin?”

“Gods, it’s day here … thank Aaru, for I need a stiff drink.” Torrullin flopped into a seat opposite the Emperor, shifting his sword out of the way when it bit into his thigh.

“Hello to you, too,” Teighlar muttered. “There is only wine on the table, but help yourself.”

Torrullin was already pouring. “Forgive me, my friend. Am I intruding?” He barely tasted the first glass, slugging it back without appreciation.

“Besides ruining my taste buds with your rudeness? No. Is something wrong?” Teighlar pushed his meal aside. “You are armed, as ever, but I see you give the blade little attention. So what is it?”

The second glass went down more slowly. “Dreams.”

“Ah. Bad?”

“Yes. This is excellent wine.”

“Thank you. It is Senlu red, about five years old, and thank the gods you have reverted to more civilised behaviour. My winemakers would shudder to see your treatment of their finest. I assume it is night back on your sanctuary world, you just dreamed, and now hasten to me and daylight?”

“I did not realise it was day.”

“You were to pull me from my bed, then?” Teighlar grinned.

Torrullin responded in like fashion. “If necessary.” The grin vanished and he set his goblet down. “Fourth night in a row, damn it. Exactly the same.”

“Why come to me? I am no expert.”

“You are a friend.”

“You want a sounding board.”

“Maybe.” Torrullin lifted a shoulder.

“That bad.”

“I fool myself into seeing a dream as a mere dream, but tonight I heard her after I awakened.”

“Heard who?”

Torrullin pulled a face. “Lowen.”

“Ah. Erotic dreams?”

“I do not have erotic dreams, Emperor.”

Teighlar snorted. “Then you are unique as a man.”

“Dreams do not do justice to reality.”

“Lucky, too, as a man,” Teighlar muttered, finding himself currently between mistresses.

“Lowen is in danger and cries for help. I hear her only in a dream.”

Teighlar sobered. “A premonition?”

Torrullin frowned. “I do not know. I hope so.”

“You hope so?”

“I can do something, idiot, if it is premonition.”

“Of course. Have you tried to find her?”

“No.”

Teighlar swirled his tongue inside his mouth, throwing his friend a thoughtful look. The subject of Lowen, he was well aware, was a sensitive issue, and largely taboo.

“Perhaps you should find her, then, and check on the veracity of your dream.”

Torrullin stared at him, but was not really looking.

“Torrullin?”

A slow focus. “The rock encloses me. Why is that?”

“I am afraid you have lost me.”

“In the dream I turn again and again to find her and there is nothing, only rock, layers, strata. The rock moves to envelop me and I am the one screaming – it does not make sense. I have no fear of enclosed space and I would simply transport away from that kind of situation in reality. Why am I afraid?”

Teighlar poured more wine and lifted his glass to stare into the ruby depths. “Sounds like Grinwallin rock.”

Torrullin’s gaze sharpened. “Why do you say that?”

Teighlar took a long pull of the wine and swallowed. He gestured with the vessel at the arches nearby; Grinwallin, the inner city’s entry into the mountain.

“I often feel as if the stones in that mighty mound are alive, sometimes watching, sometimes slumbering, and I have often speculated, were a disaster to befall the actual building blocks of Grinwallin, it would arise.” The Emperor shrugged. “It would be in control. No escape.”

A long silence ensued, and then, “Has Lowen been here?”

Another long silence, for they knew each other’s minds well. “A week ago.”

Torrullin nodded. “What did she discover inside the mountain?”

Teighlar released a breath. “She would not say, and these factors may not be linked.”

Torrullin lifted an eyebrow.

A finger pointed. “You should talk to her, sort this impasse out one way or the other. No, listen to me. She is like the walking dead, and you have shut yourself away from everything. It is unhealthy and that may be the danger in your dream. Talk to her, soon.”

A brief silence answered this time. “I hear you, but that is not it. There is real threat.”

“The more reason to find her.”

Torrullin grimaced. “Where is she?”

“I do not know.”

“Or will not say?”

“Why would I hold out when I am the one advocating you talk? I do not know, for she did not say. She barely spoke to me.”

Torrullin nodded. “How is Grinwallin?”

“As demanding as ever,” Teighlar grinned. Then he was serious. “Samuel was here.”

“How is he?”

“Hurting.”

A veiled look went to the Emperor. “Why?”

“Curin passed away.”

A deep breath followed. “Damn, I did not know.”

Teighlar tossed him a significant look. “You have separated from too much, Torrullin. Oh, know why, you think you know why, and your family trust they understand, but there are limits.” Teighlar paused there. “Saska was at the funeral.”

Uninterrupted silence arrived in answer.

The Senlu gave a snort. “Elixir is the walking dead. You are a fool! Wake up before the perils – which are many-facetted – in your dreams overwhelm you and you find you are helpless …”

“Teighlar …”

“… no, pal! The rock encloses because it is a warning. Wake up to the issues before only regret finds you.”

Torrullin rose and bowed. “As my Lord Emperor commands.”

“Please, Emperor of what? You are the real master of Grinwallin. I am no fool.”

Torrullin, in the act of leaving, paused. “Grinwallin is yours, Teighlar.”

Teighlar threw his napkin on the table and rose as well. “Have you heard the stones sing to you in the mountain?”

Torrullin blanched.

“Ah. I heard it once, but no more, not since you came. What does that tell you? She heard it when she was here, I suspect, for she is not the idle type. A mystery required solving and Lowen cannot leave stones unturned … stones! Stone and rock – that is Grinwallin. Gods, you have so much, including freedom – just go, before I damage a friendship I hold dearest in my heart.”

Teighlar scowled into the amazing view over the continent Tunin. Grinwallin possessed a mighty vantage point. A brief, self-debating silence ensued, and then Torrullin was gone.

Sanctuary

BACK IN HIS DARK bedchamber Torrullin was dissatisfied, restless and angry. Moreover, there was foreboding. In one brief visit with Teighlar the spectres of Lowen, Saska, Samuel and the mystery that was Grinwallin had risen from the ashes of a deliberately damped fire, and he could not ignore them.

He paced, hand straying often to the hilt of his sword. His nemesis at his hip. Would he need it? Was it time for its namesake to put in an appearance?

A beam of light pierced the eastern window and he regarded it in astonishment. Dawn, sunrise, a new day. The Valleur would regard that as an omen. Into the dark of his heart had now come light, chivvying action from inaction, stirring emotions from behind defences.

Torrullin gave a mirthless smile. Fine. It was time to confront Lowen.

THE NEMESIS BLADE

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Author: theloreseries

Reader and writer of the extraordinary.

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