The Lion

An adventure about magic, mystery, and kinship. A connecting story to The Wolf.

Introduction

As they sit, calmly watching over the preceding event, they calculate every outcome. To the observant, their glare shows true intent and can cut through the bravest of hearts. They have a great many friends but appear to be alone. They don’t require aid to get the job done and occasionally go it alone. When they choose to act, it is with purpose and determination. Their roar alone would cause any warrior to falter and make mistakes. Their true strength is in their powerful presence and number, yet, if unleashed, the raw power of each could lay waist to entire villages without hesitation. Even though fear, terror, and blood are often related to their namesake, they are actually pure of heart and noble in all dealings. Each action is fair, precise, well thought out and majestic. Always coming to the aid of those in need and when they do, battles are ended.

They strike best as a single unit made up of different components.

They do not leave others behind.

They are strong and fierce.

They are the Lion.

Part 1

“What the hell was that?!” Vellen stated, caught a little off guard.

He was fully awake for the first time in what felt like an entire winter. The last while he had developed a spell of sorts and winter seemed to be a vague memory of drifting in and out of a barley operational consciousness. Something woke him from his cloud-like veil and it shook him to his core. He stood quickly and realized he must have been out far into the day, as the light outside of his cabin window was bright and the sun was almost at its highest point in the sky. He took a moment to gather himself and put himself together before going outside.

It wasn’t a sound that woke him. Rather, it was a feeling deep inside of his being that felt like two forms of apposing magic thundering together. Like chaotic magic striking at a giant tree with the fury of a thousand bolts of lightning. After getting his clothes on, he grabbed his claymore and stepped outside in the beautiful day. The trees were gorgeous evergreens and many flowers had already started to bloom. “Could it really be spring already?” he thought to himself in confusion.

His cabin rested on the edge of a dense forest and a grand meadow, just nestled into a private little valley that few knew about. There was a strong river nearby that was created by the runoff from the local mountain range that you could hear reasonably well due to how well sound traveled within the valley walls. However, something was different. Something was off.

Vellen took a few deep breaths and realized what was wrong. The only sound he could hear was the river. There was no wind, no birds chirping, and no katydids sharing their beautiful midday songs. Even the sound from the river seemed to be suppressed compared to its normal reach and vibrancy. He sheathed his sword and decided to investigate the surrounding land as stealthy as possible. He quickly took shelter under one of the larger trees close to the hillside and started to ascend its branches.

It was an impressive feat, if one were to observe him scale trees and other objects. He did so fluidly, as if each object was just an extension of himself. He was a strong individual with a large muscular stature. He was easily seven feet tall with arms like an ox, with that said, he was incredibly fast and quite when he needed to be. He had long blond flowing hair tightly tied into a braid behind his head and a strong dark blond beard that rivaled any of the old gods or their children. He had hardly a scar even though he had been through many battles. The only telling detail was a vertical scar on the top of his left brow that extended just below his left eye. A chance hit from an opponent that almost blinded him on one side.

As he reached near the top, he rested on the strongest branch and looked around the valley and beyond with his piercing yellow eyes. He was up incredibly high and could see for quite a distance. There was smoke from a small fire coming up from within the trees a ways to the southwest. At first glance, it would appear that someone had a campfire to keep warm, however, it would be a waste of resources and completely unnecessary with the weather in its current state. It was also very strange for people to be this far out near his land. In conjunction with the other odd things happening, he wasn’t about to leave it be without a visit to investigate further.

He quickly and seamlessly descended the tree and started toward the direction of the smoke. He was well aware this could be some kind of distraction or trap but he couldn’t help himself. Curiosity and pride got the best of him at times. He would figure out what was going on and planned on never even being seen. He could be a stealthy guy for the most part, even for his size, but especially since he chose to leave his armor in the cabin while he finished scouting the area. It would be harder to hear him while he investigated the smoke.

He made his way into the forest and quickly traversed the dense overgrowth, low limbs, and occasional fallen trees. His movements were swift, quick, and graceful. Occasionally he would stop and look for signs of another presence. The weird part was that he saw no disturbed twigs, leaves, or any kind of track other than small animal prints and droppings. He only grew more concerned as he closed that gap and could find no signs of disturbance in the surrounding foliage. Furthermore, there wasn’t even a squirrel or fly in sight. Finally, he was close and could see the fire. It was small and carefully built with very specifically placed stones. Not like you would see around a campfire, but instead the stones were placed an even distance from each other in straight lines leading away from the small camp-like fire in the center. Each line of rocks went from the fire into several different directions around it, almost forming a shape similar to that of a bright star in the sky.

It was a symbol meant for a very special purpose. As he thought about the symbol, he made a connection with an old myth that he read about long ago. His skin paled a little at the thought and a moment of dread washed over him. He then felt foolish for having left his armor at his cabin. He pulled his sword out and decided to head back. He needed to get to his armor but he realized that something might try to stop him. His senses were overwhelmed suddenly. As his sword left it’s scabbard the ring of its rare metal filled the air. The blade started to glow red hot and shot out of his hand and thrust itself deeply into one of the surrounding trees. The tree unleashed a terrifying roar as Vellen’s hands were pulled out to the sides by and invisible force and his body left the ground, levitating several feet in the air.

The tree was a mimicling and the sword had done its job. It struck home and the giant creature started to uproot itself, screaming and snapping while trying to remove the red-hot blade. Quickly the mimicling became engulfed in flame and the creature fell to the ground writhing in pain as it slowly burned to death. It was there waiting for him but whatever was commanding it had a contingency plan in place. The sword removed itself and tried to fly back to its owner. He could not open his hands as the invisible force kept his fists clenched and stretched his being in both directions. The sword hit his hand and then fell to the floor, clattering on some of the stones. Life was about to get very complicated. He could feel the presence of something vile, something beyond evil. He knew without question now, what had him. It all made sense. He should have been expecting this but wasn’t that into believing prophecy. A mistake that could cost him his life…

Part 2

It was a beautiful day and the hunt was finally over. They returned with a grand meal that would help their kin return to full strength. It had been a long winter and spring was well on its way. The four of them quickly stopped and looked at each other with concern as they entered the meadow. They were four young female warriors, each in their own style of beautiful leather armor and very defining hair colors and styles. Each very different from the rest.

Fendra was the leader, she had long golden flowing locks of hair and eyes as blue as a sapphire channeling the suns light. Denai was second in command and had short pixie hair darker than the abyss with eyes a deep dark red. Shae and Neera were nearly identical and had strawberry brown hair just down to their shoulders, but Shae had piercing jade eyes and Neera had eyes as golden as the sun. Each had magically imbued armor and weapons to match their personality. Each armor set was pigmented differently and had unique symbols and traits. Each had a variety of weapons but favored specific ones over the rest.

The air was strangely mute of the visible of wind and void of any life other than the trees, ferns, and flowers. Their home seemed strangely foreign and caused them to hesitate. As they scanned around for danger, they quickly formed a battle formation and made their way to the cabin. While not visible to the naked eye, it was quite clear to them Vellen had left the cabin. They could already tell that he made his way around the meadow to the tree and then set off toward the southwest. They could tell by his subtle tracks that he left traces on purpose but was clearly not wearing his armor. Fendra quickly went inside to be completely sure Vellen was gone while Denai commanded Shae and Neera to scout from atop their scouting trees. Denai joined Fendra in the cabin. “He’s finally awake…” Fendra stated with a slightly trembling voice. Tears of happiness filled her eyes but she attempted not to show Denai.

Denai had a smirk on her face but it quickly dissolved when she was reminded that he was without his armor. “He clearly felt the change in the air and went off investigating alone… like a fool.” stated Denai in a very knowing and unimpressed tone. Fendra and Denai locked eyes for a moment as if speaking to each other without words. Shae and Neera were suddenly at the door with curiosity all over their faces. Fendra and Denai looked to them as if waiting for a report. “There is smoke in the distance, in the direction Vellen went...” They grabbed a sack and filled it with Vellen’s armor. “Lets just hope were not too late.” Stated Fendra. The four set out carefully, following the same path Vellen took earlier to investigate. Aside from all of the other strange things in the atmosphere, a deep pit feeling told them something was terribly wrong.

They made their way into the forest and Fendra gave the hand signal to split up. This was as stealth tactic they used when hunting. Even though they were traversing separate paths, they were all only seconds away from each other and could sense each other’s presence. It’s the one thing that made them feel even more grim about this whole situation. The connection to Vellen was almost non-existent.

Shae and Neera took to the tree tops, making their way from tree to tree in such a graceful show that the branches and leaves were hardly disturbed. Meanwhile Fendra and Denai fluidly traverse the ground much in the way Vellen did on this same path but with much less stopping. Denai was the best at tracking and only needed to slow instead of pause every so often to check for clues. Suddenly Denai’s hand flew up in command to stop. The entire party halted in unison as they peered up ahead.

In the distance they could see a dark cloaked figure standing next to a giant pile of glowing wood. The remnants of a large fire, no doubt. Just past the cloaked figure was Vellen, but he was levitating in the air, apparently bound by some invisible force. Vellen was calmly observing the cloaked individual appearing to show no concern for what was taking place. The figure was holding Vellen’s blade, looking it up and down, paying special attention to the markings and detail engraved in the unique blade.

The four of young warriors looked at each other briefly and took to the trees, a formation they used when approaching a singular and powerful foe. They wanted to get closer and find out more about the situation prior to acting. Soon, the they were nowhere to be seen.

The dark figure gloated, “Well, I never thought I would find some kin of Norsebane all the way down in Brill… and with the mythical Phoenix Blade. A very curious situation.”

“Who let you off of your shackles I wonder?” The figure asked, in a rhetorical way.

“Well…? Don’t you have anything to say for yourself? No matter... You are but a child and you do not know the gravity of your choices.”

Suddenly and arrow came erupting through the air toward but the figure dodged it in quick response. A second came unexpectedly from another direction, the figure whipped around causing her hood to come off and quickly exposing her long black hair. She caught the arrow in her hand with a smirk on her face and attempted to break it in half with one hand. As the arrow snapped it caught her by surprise as a wave of power hit her, sending her flying into one of the nearby trees, and causing Vellen to fall to the ground. The Sorceress quickly recovered and stood up. Her piercing purple eyes locked on Vellen.

As she reached her hand out toward Vellen, Fendra came from the side and collided with the Sorceress catapulting both through the foliage. The Sorceress hit Fendra with a strong wave of power causing Fendra to tumble through the air several yards away. It all seemed as if it was happening in slow motion. Denai quickly landed behind the Sorceress quickly followed by Shae and Neera to the sides. They had her surrounded and very distracted. The Sorceress was not just any magical being, she was very powerful and well-studied in the arcane arts of the Druid. She was just as tall and well armored as the warriors that had come to fight this day.

With the cloak no longer on her head, a telling feature made itself quite visible. Her pale ears came to a point just outside of her midnight black hair. She was some kind of elf which made her apparent age meaningless. She quickly waved her hands around in a circular motion, casting a protection ward around her being. As she took the three in for a second, appearing to analyze them, Fendra came up quickly to join the other three.

“There are four more of you, I see. How interesting. I am called Raven, kin of Darkendmire. You must all be kin of Norsebane. And I see you all have weapons from the dark keep…” The Druid sneered through her teeth.

Raven continued, “No matter, you children do not know the true power of what you possess. You will all bow down as is the will of the father. Or I will collect your heads.”

By this time Raven realized that the original object of her torment was nowhere in sight. No matter, she now knew she was in the right place and all the pieces were falling into place beautifully. She would now have several instead of just one. The rewards would exceed her wildest dreams. The father would be beyond pleased. Raven started to mumble an incantation and was preparing to cast a binding spell on the four warriors surrounding her when suddenly the glowing red claymore came crashing into the protection ward. As she looked up in shock at the fact that it was sticking halfway through just inches from her face, the ward shattered and she quickly jumped out of the way. A few yards away stood Vellen, in full armor, patiently observing.

All of the warriors were now whole again. Their power now significantly more primed. They each fed off of each other and it made each of them even stronger in their own abilities. One solid unit comprised of dangerously determined beings with weapons of legend. Vellen had easily vanquished the previous mimicling with only a portion of his power and strength, so Raven had to come up with a new tactic if she was to prevail over five kin of Norsebane.

This was going to be a lot more difficult than she planned.

[To be continued...]

About this story

This story is another adventure that takes place in the same world/universe as The Wolf. Just like The Wolf series, the main character mentioned above was inspired by a good friend of mine. Those of you that know me, know of my good friend Danny, The Lion. This story is dedicated to him. Thank you Lion, for always keeping a clear head, inspiring good, and teaching other young men manners. You have saved my butt on a number of occasions and are always a fun guy to hang out with. You are an inspiration and a great brother to me.

In the next part to come, you will meet others that were inspired by other wonderful people in my life. It's important to note that the appearance of each character may differ from the physical characteristics of those that inspired them, but some of their personality will shine through. Thanks everyone, for being my muse :)