Into the Firelands – The Beginning [part 1]

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… Their mastery of fire was considered superfluous. Through worship of Unos, and invention, the Leiriad, better known as Fire Elves, could control every aspect of Flame.’

Their capital Fleeraurin (Fleeran) was said to be perilous for even the most wary army or adventurer. A misstep could see billowing arcs, burning tornados, or lava flows, bearing down on…”

Taver blinked repeatedly then rubbed his eyes. He had read the paragraph five times already but fatigue addled his brain, and barely a scrap of information had been retained. His eyes moved to the candle at his left. Encased in a thin glass, tear drop shaped, cover, it barely shuddered in spite of the ship’s gentle sway. His little cabin, below deck of the Elvebat, was by no means what he was accustomed to. But more than enough when considering the alternative means of travel, north.

Congestion had settled in Taver’s chest, and he wiped his nose repeatedly. After three weeks sailing up the River Woge, he learnt he was not meant for travel. No, he was better suited to the quiet study halls of Mes Leonir’s universities. But, his research had reached an impasse. After reading every text concerning the Leiriad, at least twice, he had concluded that nobody had any solid information about them. The accounts of the extinct race were as solid as a wine-fuelled rumour.

With old-money at his back, he knew the only way forward was into the unknown. To, himself, go to Fleeran and find out exactly what, if anything, was there. Near a thousand leagues to the north of Mes Leonir, the once proud elven city was located in the firelands. Believe to be empty, the volcanic region’s only known denizens were the Dreadhammer Orcs… and even their inhabitance was somewhat of a mystery.

There came a loud rap on the door. Taver knuckled his lower back as he stood up from the broad lectern. Wiping his nose, he opened the pine-wood door. The historian’s eyes dropped to meet Melisande Flamestouch’s; a young sell-sword, barely five and a half feet tall. Melisande had appeared only two days before they were to set sail, eager to head north.

A pretty young thing, her bright brown eyes caught reflections when others did not, and her hair, although brown and tied back with a fine blue scarf that covered her forehead, would slyly hint at purple. A trait Taver had never seen in a person. “We approach Midrun, and will dock before sun up. Will you sleep aboard, or shall we wake you?” Melisande’s said, her voice smooth and almost a whisper. She carried an air of maturity which conflicted with her apparent age. A sort threatening sternness that made the young man uncomfortable.

“I think… I think, I shall stay aboard,” Taver said as he stifled a yawn. Though he was not sure of propriety in the Fords, from which Melisande hailed, he aired on the side of caution. Yawning in another’s presence, whatever the hour, was very bad form.

“Indeed,” Melisande said with a smile so quick Taver wondered if he had seen it all. “There are six inns in Midrun. We shall be quartered at The Lion’s Howl. The crew will be aboard, but the rest of the expedition will be resting there. Join us when you awake.”

“Thank you, yes I will,” Taver half stuttered.

The brown eyed girl gave a quick bow before turning on her heals. She walked down the corridor with a strong heel to toe stride. In spite of her size, the young woman had so much confidence the historian had to wonder how much was bravado. Taver, not one for adventures, had worried about taking women on his venture.

Melisande had join them along with one other woman, Lorena, a tall girl whom the young historian suspected had more than a drop of Wood Elf blood running in her veins. It was her startling green eyes that rose the suspicion. Bright like emeralds in the midday sun. Incredibly rare in a human, let alone a Leonirian.

The only women amongst a crew of some forty men. Twenty eight sailors and twelve of Taver’s own people. Aside from his colleagues from the university, all were rough, travel worn sorts. Their oaths could make the toughest Mes Leonir cutthroat blush. But, they had been only three days into the journey when the women asserted themselves…

Throwing two men over board and slitting a third’s throat, Lorena made sure that no one aboard so much as considered taking to their quarters after hours. The green eyed woman acted, for lack of a better term, as Melisande’s bodyguard. Her pleasant emeralds would turn fiery should she catch a crewman looking to long.

Taver blew a long sigh as the woman’s boots’ disappeared at the top of the stairs. He shut the door turning the handle as he eased it closed so the latch would not click. Closing doors quietly was considered etiquette when using one of the study rooms within a university library.

He dropped into the straw mattress and stretched out. What would they find in Fleeran? Anything? Probably a lot, if it were true nobody had been within its walls in a millennia. Fear harassed his tired mind mind because in a world where gung-ho adventurers were many, it was just as likely a lot had visited, and none returned.

———–

For more fiction by A.V. Cortez, and more about the world of Etheros, click here.

For information about the Blogevella poject, click here.

If you enjoyed this piece, and would like to read more, please like, share or follow! There’s a lot more to come.

Thanks a lot for reading.

Cortez

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Blogovella

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Hello there!

I’m currently editing of my debut novel, but I don’t want to stop creating! So, to help keep me writing I’ve decided to write and release a novella length story on this’ere blog.

Inspired by apocalypse now, I was overwhelmed by the powerful desire to write an up-river journey. But, don’t worry, it won’t be anything like the Vietnam epic, or Heart of Darkness…. I dare not dream :P.

Each week I will launch a short piece (hoping to keep each under 1000 words), of the novella right here. While the perspective may change from section to section, it will follow a linear progression. So each instalment, regardless of who it’s written about, will follow on from the last. So, hopefully, you’ll never find yourself tearing your hair out, because you got yourself wrapped up in one story, only to find out the following week is a totally different plot line.

So what’s gonna happen?

Well it will start with Taver, a Leonirian historian. He’s taking a band of adventurers north into the fire lands in the hopes of entering the ruined city of the (now extinct) Fire Elves. The story itself will take place in Etheros. My fantasy world, with two suns and three moons. The star of many of my short stories, Melisande Flamestouch, and her whore-come-mercenary friend; Lorena, will be joined by a whole host of exciting new characters.

Expect sex, drugs, orcs, volcanos, riddles, traps, sword fights, skirmishes (great word, say it out loud Skirmish), mutineers and a whole lot more.

…Oh and PICTURES!!@! Along with being a mediocre writer, I’m also a mediocre artists. So while I’m sharpening my writing skills, I’ll also be sharpening pencils. Each week, I’ll be throwing up a unique piece of art to reflect a part of the story.

I’m really excited about this, so hopefully you are too! If you think you could use a weekly, ten minute distraction; follow along and re-blog this post!

Thanks a lot for reading! Take it safe.

Allen V Cortez

A different route [Flash Fantasy Fiction]

The door whined as Melisande Flamestouch slowly closed it behind her. The quiet breeze tickled her skin as she pulled her cloak tight around her. The gentle rock of the ship in the calm swell had taken her to sleep quickly, but jarred, mismatched visions of her past had quickly brought her back. 

Barefooted, she padded across the deck. The night watchmen chuckled whisperingly as they played cards on a wooden crate, a oil lantern simmering at its centre. Before returning to their game; they gave respectful nods as Melisande passed.

Resting on the rail, looking out into the moon soaked ripple of the Southern Span; the young wander, come pirate captain briefly sank into contemplation. But after only a few moments a lone figure, rested on the bow drew her attention. Flamestouch squinted, it was but a shadow against the night sky, a frail, womanly spectre in the dim light. Corinne? She thought. Furrowing her brow, Melisande quietly moved along the deck of the forty foot cog before coming to a stand, some five paces behind her friend. She stood there in silence, though Corinne must have heard her approach, the girl did not turn. ‘Corinne?’ Melisande finally said, barely louder than a whisper.

The girl jumped slightly, before turning side-ways, Corinne looked at Melisande from the corner of her eye before returning to her listless gaze at the ship’s course.

Melisande walked up, resting her arms on the rail, before looking side-long at her friend. ‘Does sleep trouble you?’

Corinne Shook her head.

Melisande frowned. ‘Then what?’ She said tentatively.

‘Nothing, Melisande. I am fine.’ Corinne paused but before Flamestouch could press the topic, she continued. ‘Tell me again; how much longer till landfall?’

Melisande narrowed her eyes at the girl whom spoke without turning to acknowledge her. ‘At the sun’s midday point, we should be within sight of Lernenby port. We will be spending the evening there to resupply. If all goes to plan we shall be back on the waves by sun up, the following day. While it may be old information, an Eldoradi fleet carrying gold and spice will be entering our hunting ground in less than a ten-day.’ Melisande gave a wicked grin. ‘…I fear they will not reach Mes Leonir.’

Corinne’s face creased into an empty smile, but she did not move her eyes from the moonlit horizon. ‘A sound plan, captain.’

‘So,’ Melisande started, tapping her fingers on the wooden railing. ‘I believe it is best you get some rest. A friend of mine, Sven, is normally around Lernenby this time of year. He is a splendid bard, I would think you’d enjoy his tales. Best you are not half-asleep for them.’

‘Rest…’ Corinne said slowly. ‘… rest is what I need.’

The words came to Melisande’s ears in a haunting manner, but she paid it no heed, turning on her heels she made for her quarters. After less than three strides, a sudden splash caused her to reel; Corinne was gone. The bow empty.

‘Man overboard!’ Melisande screamed, her voice hard with anger. 

Cards were tossed as the night watchmen scrambled to their feet. Their leather boots thudded on the wooden deck as they sprinted to the railing. Their eyes hunted the blue abyss, but there was not so much as a ripple to imply the young woman had made any attempt to swim. They wheeled the ship hard to its starboard, the calm swell gained some anger as the bow cut against the water… It was a fruitless delay.

Even once the commotion had subsided and the ship put back on course, Melisande did not return to her bed. A wave of her hand saw it filled with a mug of ale before she watched the sheepish cabin boy dart back below deck. Sitting with her back against the rail she took a long slug from the steel cup. If one changed names and locations, Corinne’s life’s story was near identical to her own. Both were touched by the gods, and, both had been subjected to the tortures and humiliations of the Light’s Voice. So why was it that Corinne had sought a different path? These thoughts tickled her spine until her vision was blurred and the deck illuminated by the first of the day’s light.

Melisande Flamestouch wearily got to her feet and returned to her quarters, though sleep would not come so easily this time.

For more Melisande Flamestouch stories, click here.