The Broken Valley
Follow the link to read chapter 1, Song of Arayia – The Slumbering Mountain
The confrontation between the Slumber Mountain and Siegfried fatally wounded the realm of Raylor. The Mountain’s desperation had caused quakes strong enough to split the ground open, causing huge sections of the realms to collapse under themselves. As a result of the collapse, valleys broke and mountains crumbled. The sea surged from its fronts to swallow cities whole. Countless people died. Gaping fissures that ran deep into the earth stretched as far as the eye could see.
“It’s hard to believe we’re not living the end of times,” Alessia said.
Muse neighed in anxiety. Alessia firmly clutched down on the reins to ease her mare’s anxiety. She hushed Muse as she stroked her forehead. “I know you’re afraid. I’m also afraid, but I need you to stay strong for me. I promise I will stay strong for you.”
Sulyvan gazed at the broken valley. His expression was blank, emotionless. He had the face of a man who had seen death, a somber look.
Alessia reached out to him, touching him on the shoulder. “What we experienced last night was terrifying, but the realm is strong. It still stands.”
Alessia was a beautiful woman, eighteen, with a soft olive tan, and brown Eyes. She had long and dark hair, which she mostly kept braided in a bun. She wore a simple leather breastplate designed to fasten her breast in place, which left her sleek and muscular abdomen exposed, as well as a chiton which fell slightly below the knees. The chiton had openings that allowed her to expose her thighs. She wore a black leather harness across her waist, which supported a small dagger and a short-handed sword, and simply leather sandals.
Alessia’s panoply was designed more for mobility than protection, for she was known as an athlete who was quick on her feet and had great muscular endurance. She, herself, didn’t want the weight of a cuirass weighing her down. At most, she carried a small, round wooden shield on her back when it was necessary.
“What if this is the end?” Sulyvan seriously asked. He was an imposing man with a burly build. He had dark skin with a bald scalp. He had a misleading serious look to him.
“It can’t be,” Alessia said, looking directly into Sulyvan’s dark eyes. “The oracles have prophesied the end will come when steel and steam rule the lands. They say the heavens will open and a giant squid will reach out and ensnare the realms to devour them whole.”
The prophecy made Sulyvan briefly laugh. “A squid will end the realms? Since when are fish so dangerous? The oracles spend too much time hallucinating they have lost touch with reality.”
Alessia said nothing.
“I thought we needed to fear the gods more than the fish?” Sulyvan said sarcastically.
“You can make fun of the oracles, but they have never been wrong. The end will come when the All Seeing Eyes meets the God of Steam and Steal. That’s the prophesy.”
Sulyvan took a drink from his waterskin as he thought about how absurd the prophecy sounded. Fish can’t swallow the realms. A god made of steam and steal can’t possibly exist. He chuckled at the thought of it. It almost erased the somber expression on his face.
“I feel we should return to Nineveth? I’m certain your father is worried,” Sulyvan said.
“Your wife and children are fine,” Alessia said.
Sulyvan felt relieved to hear Alessia’s words.
“How do you know?”
“One of the Fates spoke to me last night.”
“Only one of them?”
“Yes, only one,” Alessia said. “I chose not to tell you, but I have only been speaking to one of the fates for the last few days. Something must’ve happened recently.”
“What did she say?”
“The citadel has been destroyed. She told me the earth split open and devoured the city whole. Half of the kingdom is dead,” Alessia said. She felt the need to cry, but she knew she was a soldier. She was expected to maintain her composure, especially since she was an acting commander. She also refused to express weakness in front of Sulyvan, so she suppressed her emotions.
“What about your father?”
“My father is fine.”
“That’s relieving. The king still stands.”
“The Fate used what little strength she had left to protect us and our families. She wants us to continue northeast with as little burdens as possible.
“What about the Kingdom? The king? My wife and children? We need to let them know we’re safe.”
“The Kingdom is in my father’s hands. I”ll send a raven to the citadel as soon as possible. I committed to finding the Fates, and I intend to keep it. ”
“Princess, you will someday become a queen. You don’t want to be remembered as the queen who abandoned her people when they needed her the most. The People can’ defend themselves. I’ve never heard of a god who can’t defend himself.”
“The Fates are children,” Alessia revealed to Sulyvan for the first time. “From hearing three voices, I only hear one now. The voices I heard were afraid. They felt alone. They told me to travel to a place called the Temple of Sand and I intend to meet them there, Sulyvan. I understand you want to return to your wife and children. You are free to leave. I will continue this journey on my own.”
Sulyvan stared into the distance.
“I am a soldier, first, and my duty is to protect you, princess. However, can you tell me how you intend to get past the mountain. Just look at what he has done.”
“The Slumbering Mountain is dead.”
“Impossible!?” Sulyvan firmly gripped the pummel of his sword to restrain his emotion from arousing.
Alessia saw Sulyvan clutch his pummel. She gently touched the leather glove he wore over his hands. “Someone killed the mountain last night. Its death is the cause of everything you see.”
Sulyvan looked to the ground. He took a second to gather his thoughts. “The mountain is dead?” he softly mumbled.
“I need to know who killed the mountain,” Alessia said. “Whosoever it is, their power is incredible, and they pose a threat to everyone.”
Sulyvan gently smiled. “I’m not liking this. Are you sure the end isn’t nigh?”
“I”m certain the end hasn’t come yet, but I can’t guarantee the safety of our lives.”
“Pleasant.” Sulyvan paced around with a few step. “Why north?” He asked curiously.
“I don’t know. The fates didn’t tell me.”
“The desert it is then?”
“Yeah, northeast it is.”
Read the Prologue, Song of Arayia – Prologue