This is tale of a mighty warrior, one who has yet to realize his destiny.
We begin when he was just a young man.
Now for a fifteen year old , Zavinin had an unusual job; He was a woodcutter. True, there were many young men who were of his profession, but he was given the job of supplying the nobles in his homeland with wood for the winter. When he wasn’t scurrying around trying to fill in orders for more wood; that mainly came in the fall and winter months, he was learning the art of the blacksmith; his late father’s line of work. He also was diligently learning the art of swordsmanship from Lord Brayden, one of the many nobles he worked for.
This had been going on for about a year when Zavinin was banished from his home, and in the following entries, I will tell the tale in its entirety.
Within two months, under Lord Brayden’s tutelage, Zavinin quickly became an experienced sword fighter. He never had to fight for his life or anyone else, but that was soon to change as you’ll see in later entries.
It was a sunny day, in the early spring time. Zavinin, who lived by himself, his parents had died when he was ten years old, was walking up and down the hillside next to his cottage, enjoying all that early spring had to offer. He happened to take a glance towards the West, when he saw two riders out in the distance coming toward him. The way the horses were briskly trotting and the body language of the two riders told Zavinin that they were pursued by people of ill-intent. Zavinin was half Elf and had the Elven senses of his father, including the ability to see farther than normal.
When they came closer in his sight, he saw that they were two women and they were of noble birth. The first, and the older of the two, was a honey blonde haired woman in her mid thirties. The second was covered by a veil, (Female servants were typically veiled in Dorax.) and rode behind the first.
‘A lady of the court, by the looks of it; and her handmaiden out for a ride.‘ He thought to himself, ‘and the way they keep looking over their shoulders makes me think that this isn’t for pleasure.‘
Within a few minutes Zavinin was standing in his doorway and the lady and her servant rode up to him. The servant girl spoke for her mistress.
“I pray thee, good sir; may we ask where the castle of Lord Brayden is?” She asked quickly; almost in a panicked way. Zavinin felt a flicker of surprise at the goodly speech of the girl as servants weren’t normally educated in his land, to find one who could even read was a rarity.
“My ladyship, it is over yonder knoll to the east. Right over there.” he said while he pointed with his finger toward the area. “But my Lady,” (In Dorax, when addressing the servant of a member of the royal court, they represent their master and you must speak to them as if their master were addressing you.) “,If I may, your horses are spent and won’t make the journey, stay here until they regain their strength, or at least let me lend you two horses, and I’ll go with you to the lord’s castle. I have business over there anyway.”
“Oh we wouldn’t want to-” Zavinin interrupted, “Ma’am, I know that you’re in danger of some kind, and your attempt at trying to leave only with simple directions, isn’t acceptable. And that also tells me that your need is dire, so I won’t waste time in arguing, I’m going with you. And you are leaving your horses here. I usually take a wagon to his lordships house, and it’s already to go. Make haste! if the ones following you are all that bad.” The girl turned to say something when her Mistress spoke first. ” Very well, lead us to your stables, kind sir.”
All of ten minutes later, and Zavinin was now well on the way to lord Brayden’s castle, when the lady’s pursuers got his house. Along with his normal training gear, Zavinin had brought with the two things that mattered most to him, a gift from his late mother, a sword and long-bow used by his ancestor in the Imperious war. He turned his head to see behind them, “Those little twits! Well there went all hope of not being followed.” He said with dismay. “What makes you say that?” asked the now puzzled and worried girl, Zavinin answered crossly, “Your horses are too smart for their own good, they have found a way out of their stalls and are now grazing on the west side of my property.” “Couldn’t we just hide in the wagon while you drive on?”The girl offered, Zavinin shook his head, “That wouldn’t work, They’ve seen you’re horses up close before, and the wagon’s track stick out like an Elf in a group of dwarves. Our only hope is to make it to lord Brayden’s stronghold.”
They rode in silence for two miles; they had just gone into a valley where they could plainly see the castle. As they got to the lowest part, Zavinin handed the girl the reigns, “Make haste to lord Brayden!” He said forcefully, “I will hold them off,” He then took out his sword and long bow as he spoke, “It has been a pleasure protecting you both. The ones who chase you are Black Elves; they know not compassion, nor
mercy.” “What about you? You’ll be killed.” was that sadness he heard in her voice? For the first time he
looked into the azure eyes of this girl. He then asked himself something he had never thought before, ‘Will I ever see these beautiful eyes again?’ this unnerved him greatly. His own eyes watered at the possibilities. “I’ll take my chances.” He said with more confidence than he felt, “You’d best be on your way.” He turned to face the oncoming enemy. “My name is Aseneth,” Zavinin turned quickly with the most puzzled look on his face.”And if you let yourself die at their hands, I’ll kill you.” she said with her eyes smiling.
Her mistress suppressed a chuckle with her hand, and on that note, they left for Lord Brayden’s castle
leaving Zavinin with a furrowed brow, trying to piece together how that illogical statement was even possible, fortunately for him, he gave up after about thirty seconds. He turned to assess his predicament; six black cloaked riders crested the hill at full speed toward him. Zavinin drew his long-bow. And what a beast of a bow it was, seven-foot long with five foot arrows. “How in The Almighty’s name did my ancestor even think about using this?” Zavinin wondered after trying to draw it back a few inches, “He had a good teacher.” said a deep voice from behind, “If I were you, I would use the sword, you’ll be amazed at what you can do with it.” Zavinin turned with a start to see who was behind him, but there was no one there.
Illbrecht watched the scene from atop his flying stead. His men would soon make short work of this foolish boy who dared to interfere with his plans; and then they would kidnap Aseneth, for ransom. He let an evil grin cross his thin lips; maybe this would work out better than he had thought.
Zavinin was, to say the least, more frightened than he had ever been. He had six armed riders less than three furlongs away, and he had only himself, and he had never been in battle before. He cried to heaven above,” Oh my Father, am I to die here? And also have Aseneth think less of me? Father, I put my soul into your hands.” You are not done, my son. Just lean on me.” Zavinin had no time to wonder about the Voice, he knew to whom it belonged. He then felt the fear that He had felt earlier, disappear and felt a peace like never before. HE calmly he drew his sword, and shouted a battle cry with more forcefulness than anyone had ever heard before.
Illbrecht watched in silent rage, “How was this possible?!”
He saw the first two elves fall under the youth’s blade, in one swing! Three of the remaining tried to leave their captain to fight by his life, then, suddenly they stopped and burst into flame! ‘Who was this Boy? Could it be the sword? But that blade was lost a hundred years ago.’ Illbrecht thought to himself.
And now Zavinin turned to the Elven captain, “Do you wish to die? Or would you like to tell me why you were trying to overtake a lady of the royal court?” The captain, however; was eager to kill him, and take his head and sword as trophies. He also thought of what Illbrecht had told him what would happen to him if he told. With those threats still fresh in his mind, the captain gave an evil grin, and swung his sword into a vertical slice. Zavinin was quick to guard himself against this and brought a swift upward counter attack while simultaneously side stepping to the right. This brought his sword to meet the man unprotected arms, rather than his sword. He then spun around behind him and forced him to kneel. “Now, you WILL tell me what I want to know,” the disappearance of his forearms had more than loosened his tongue, “We were hired by a man called -” The sharp hiss of an arrow in flight was heard by Zavinin first, he promptly dropped to the ground. The elf was not so quick to realize the danger. He received an arrow to the throat that silenced him forever. But this was a tainted arrow. The captain’s body, was consumed by fire that had shot out of the shaft, in a matter of seconds leaving nothing but a pile of black ash. Zavinin turned around to see behind him. He saw a man atop a gryphon’s back, about three hundred yards away. Then in a blink of an eye, they flew to the north. Zavinin, not wanting to become the next target, turned toward the castle of his mentor; he made sure that he remembered to retrieve his long-bow. Twenty minutes later, he was standing on the draw-bridge, quite exhausted. A man spoke to him after a few minutes after he arrived,” Zavinin the wood-cutter?” Zavinin barely acknowledged, “What’s left of him, yes.” the guard went on, “Lord Brayden requests your presence at his great hall.” “You might have to carry Me.” he muttered to himself,” Pardon me? Did you speak?” ‘Wouldn’t you like to know?’ Zavinin thought as he went to find what his friend wanted to see him about. Normally he would meet him in the armory for the beginning of his training, why the great hall this time? Soon, he found himself in the hall full questions. He knelt ,”My lord, you summoned me?” Brayden rose from his throne to greet his pupil, “Arise my young friend, I merely wanted to thank the man who saved the life of my wife and only daughter.”
*Eight months later*
A short balding was dashing down the Gothic hallways of a castle interior. The man,Liam , was in a hurry. As chief adviser to Illbrecht, (Who did not like anyone to be found late.) He was in a particular tizzy today because he was about to answer his lord’s biggest problem, Aseneth. Illbrecht had tried fruitlessly to kidnap her, and now, to make matters worse, she was courting the very same fool that foiled the first and every other attempt. Now he wouldn’t leave her when she traveled. ‘What was so badly desired that drove him to such measures? What did Brayden have in his arsenal behind his unbreakable walls that could only be gained through his daughter? It must be a great treasure indeed.’ Liam thought, ‘My Master will indeed be pleased with my plan; it’s surprising that no one has thought it up sooner, simply frame Zavinin for treason.‘ Later that week the man Liam was hurriedly making his way through the country side to the high sheriff of Dorax, lord Thraxton, about the Zavinin matter. Thraxton was an unjust, greedy man; of whom you could buy his loyalties. For the last eight years, he had managed to keep his greed from the Kings attention. And Illbrecht had relied on him many a time before, this little favor would be nothing new.
Zavinin was on his way to make good on a large order of a special kind of wood. The buyer had asked for a large wagon load of Blue Spruce wood, so named because in the spring and summer months the leaves turn a deep, royal blue. These trees only grow on Dorax and only in two places, near the summit of the central mountain, and on lord Illbrecht’s estate. The buyer had not disclosed his name, for the wood of the Blue Spruce tree makes stringed instruments that are finer than with any other wood in the world; and an old custom on Dorax is that when you buy Blue Spruce you must buy it anonymously to bring joy to whomever you give it to. With that custom well-known to Zavinin, who had done this sort of order many a time before and some up to ten wagons full, He was absolutely unconcerned. The delivery point was deep within lord Illbrecht’s land, in fact not two miles from the well guarded and over regulated Blue Spruce plot to a small luthiers shop, yet he did not gather the wood from Illbrecht, For you had to jump through many a legal hoop (not to mention pay a pretty penny.) to get to the fabled wood. So Zavinin had, instead, harvested the wood from the Mountain, which is rather a feat, for only two people in Dorax’s long history had ascended to the summit and came back unscathed.
Soon, Zavinin found himself in front of a single story building next to a forest brook that powered the water wheel on the side of the building. A mandolin crossing in front of a guitar in a blue shield served as the luthiers crest with the words:”We make only the finest, with the finest.” Zavinin called out to those inside, “Ho there! It’s Zavinin the wood-cutter, with an order of Blue Spruce!” after about thirty seconds of silence followed, Zavinin tried again, “Anyone Home?” “Yes, yes there is.” Said a cold steely voice behind him that was accompanied by the sound of a sword being unsheathed, “And you, Zavinin the wood-cutter, are under arrest for crimes against Lord Illbrecht, Namely stealing the Blue Spruce tree from his land. You received no permit to harvest those trees there,” He pointed to the loaded wagon, “Come with me.” He commanded coldly. Zavinin was surprised ,needless to say, but was quick to defend his self, “A permit from lord Illbrecht, no, but from lord Brayden did I take these trees, and I also have a permit to do so.” He said assuredly, “See for yourself,” He added as he handed the man the parchment. The man read carefully over the piece of paper and after a few minutes he spoke,”Oh, My apologies sir, I -, “Zavinin was shocked to see the man’s eyes go wide and then slowly close. “Forgive me My ‘friend’,” Said a new voice, dripping with sarcasm,”But Farley here, forgot that we were ordered to bring you in, no matter what. Oh wait, he wasn’t there when lord Illbrecht told me that. Oh well, I never liked him anyway.” He let his unfortunate victim fall to the ground, and he continued as he cleaned his blade,”Lord Illbrecht has taken a keen interest in you, Zavinin, or rather you interfering with his plans, and now that you killed this fine man and loyal guard to lord Illbrecht,” With this last statement he said with sarcastic sadness in his voice, ”to escape the law, He’ll take even more interest in you.” He gave a shark like grin and pointed his sword at Zavinin, ”Get a move on.” He ordered. In a flash, Zavinin drew his sword, and slapped the blade out of his way and turned to finish his enemy off, when he got a few other ideas, like running for his life. When he had turned around he saw twenty armed men more than ready to take his head. He bolted down the same path he had taken a few minutes earlier, minus the wagon of course, and never took one look back. After about a mile, the forest had ended, but the chase had not.
They all came to the edge of the forest; and Zavinin’s heart sank, for not even a furlong away stood all of Illbrecht’s army. “Great,” He said aloud, “how do I get out of this?” “You look up.” Said the same voice from behind that had spoken about his sword. Zavinin turned his head skyward and was shocked at what he saw, (No, he doesn’t get shocked easily, he just isn’t in shocking situations a lot.) a huge cream-colored dragon with the most intimidating warrior he had ever seen riding atop it.”Get on,” he commanded;”I will take you to lord Brayden’s.” Without a second thought, Zavinin Scrambled to get on the beast, partly because it was still in mid-flight, and partly because he was still in disbelief. “Who are you? Why did you rescue me?” Without turning, he answered, “Because I trained your ancestor, And I? I am the Mountain Guardian.”
“Captain! The wood-cutter! H-he’s gone!” an excited lesser guard shouted to the man with the shark like grin,” Should we open fire?” The captain took one look at the flight of the dragon and shook his head,” They go to lord Brayden, and they’re out of range now,” he shouted back, “Fall back to the castle and report. This battle has gone political.” A collective groan was heard from the ranks of the men within earshot of the man.
The Guardian Dropped Zavinin off just outside of the castle. Zavinin hit the ground running; he didn’t stop until he made it to the great hall. The guards, who knew Zavinin and didn’t stop him, were puzzled with his frantic behavior; as was lord Brayden, “Why do you do this, my young friend? I thought you were out delivering wood,
What happened?” Zavinin took a moment to catch his breath, “The whole thing was a trap!” He blurted out before he passed out from sheer exhaustion.
Zavinin’s dreams made him ill at ease. Although they were not vivid, one phrase stood out in his memory, “It was all my doing, Zavinin, from the beginning.” When he awoke he was in one of the many rooms in the castle.”He’s awake father,” Said the sweet voice of Aseneth,”How do you feel?” her royal blue eyes seemed to sparkle as she spoke; her jet black hair shimmered in the light of the room. Once more, he found himself at a loss of words. After a moment, he said, “Better, what has happened while I slept?” At this lord Brayden spoke up and gave Zavinin a slight start, “You are wanted for the murder of that guard and for stealing those blasted trees.”He said with a sigh while running his right hand through his long wavy brown hair,” Illbrecht has bought the law, you can either be his prisoner for the rest of your life, or…” He paused and looked out the window,” Or what, Father?” Aseneth asked worriedly. He continued, “Or, be banished from the realm.” A thick silence hung within the room. Zavinin took a deep breath, “So that is the choice? Well is there any way I could back?” At this Brayden turned and spoke,” There is one clause in the law about coming back after being banished, but it’s iffy.” Zavinin, unaffected by this news , said, ”Well, what does it say? How do I come without being kicked out again?” Aseneth had enough,” Why do you two act as if you can’t just expose Illbrecht for who he is? I mean, why don’t you make a petition to the king for mercy?” Brayden spoke, “Because, dear one, like I said earlier, He has bought the law; any petition to the king will be met with a barrel full legalities and technicalities that will turn the king away from our cause, for Thraxton is a true bureaucrat at heart and knows how to twist legal protocol to meet demand. It would be easier to push the moon away.” “So there is nothing we can do?” She asked helplessly,”from what your father was saying earlier there is something, but he never finished.” Zavinin said,”Sorry about that, what you must do is, when you get to wherever they take you to, you find a royal maiden in peril, provided you aren’t in love with her, and save her. She must write a letter addressed to the king of Dorax saying that you rescued her even though you were not in love with her, and risked your life to do so.” Zavinin smiled,” I think we have a plan now.”
Later that week, after they had tried every political trick in the book to no avail, Zavinin stood on the draw-bridge with Brayden and Aseneth, saying his last farewell. He spoke to Brayden first, “I am so thankful for all that you taught me. And thank you for letting me court your daughter.” Brayden answered, “You are like the son I never had, it has been a pleasure teaching you. Please be careful wherever they take you, and always remember that The Father has a plan through all this.” Zavinin then turned to Aseneth, her royal blue eyes glistened the noonday sun, “I am so glad to have known you, Aseneth, I will come back one day.” “Zavinin I-“She choked back the tears, “I will never forget you.” Zavinin turned to His mentor one last time, “May I speak to you, alone?” A few minutes later the company of guards came from the north to take him away. ‘Yes My Son, you may when you get back.’ Zavinin repeated this in his mind over and over as he was led to the horses. Twenty armed men would go with him to his ship, in light of the superior numbers, Zavinin was allowed to keep his weapons. A few hours of riding brought the company to the docks with a galleon with three masts, one hundred men served as a crew, a ship that was the pride of the Doraxian navy, this was the Phoenix. Lord Illbrecht stood on the deck smiling, ‘Perfect, now I will have my plan completed.’ He thought to himself. The captain had other ideas, “I can’t accept any gratitude from you until this fool leaves my ship, the sooner the better.” Zavinin made his way up the gang way with an intent gait, ”Shall we set sail captain?” said Illbrecht, “We wouldn’t want to be late.”
*three weeks later*
They came into a deep harbor and weighed anchor about three hundred feet off shore. The Captain ordered the long-boat lowered. The captain, Illbrecht, and Zavinin got in and made the short trip to shore. They soon found themselves on the beach, Zavinin asked, and said, ”Where are we, captain?” The older man answered,”We are on a land call Talu-Fearann. It’s a pleasant country; you should find it very enjoyable here, Master Zavinin.” At this Illbrecht exploded,” You fool! You supposed to take him to the isle of Agony! Not this! You will pay for this now!” Without another word, Illbrecht drew his sword to kill the captain; Zavinin came to his defense and drew his own blade to meet the other. Illbrecht was surprised at first, but it faded into an evil grin,” I’d hoped to kill you personally, now I get my chance.” Zavinin was ready for anything the villain could throw at him,”You will not live to see the dawn, in the name of justice, I will slay you.” Illbrecht sneered,”Let me make it easier for you. Do you know why I want to kidnap Aseneth? So I could rescue her and win her heart. And then when the old fool of a father died, I would get his land as an inheritance, thus making me the largest land owner in Dorax. Then I would be able to muster support for a rebellion and make myself King of Dorax.” “Should I be amazed at the plans of a demented fool? You are not a king, and never will be.” Zavinin side-stepped to the left and brought a two-handed slice to his enemy’s sword and sheered the sword in two. “Do you yield?” He asked with anger in his now green eyes, “I-I yield.” Illbrecht said hesitantly, “Captain, you might want to keep him under lock and key until you get back,” HE said while turning his back to Illbrecht, the captain saw the vile move first, “Behind you !” Zavinin turned to see Illbrecht with his half of a sword racing to sever Zavinin’s head. Zavinin brought his own sword to meet the attack and blocked the slice, side-stepped again, and cut Illbrecht’s arms off at the elbows, and followed through with a slice to his midsection; cutting him in two. Zavinin was in daze for the rest of the day, he barely remembered the captain helping him bury the fallen lord; he almost remembered himself saying good-bye to his new friend. He did, however remember quite clearly, feeling for the first time in a year absolutely alone.