Hidden Kingdoms, Chapter I

Yes, it will be available for Kalicon. I have just been told that it will arrive just in time.


Several years had gone by since the Elven Kings gathered their people to create the veil that hid them from the rest of the world. During this time, the Elves worked hard to build and rebuild the parts of the Empire they now claimed for their own.

As days had flown by, they built homes for their families, and cities to gather in. The Tratchars did what they could to reconstruct the forests the Drazon destroyed during the Demon Wars, but they still had a lot to do to bring them back to their former grandeur. They knew this would continue to improve on a daily basis, so they weren’t concerned about whether it would happen or when. This was a time of peace, and the forest was not being threatened, so it had time to grow and develop.

Now that this phase of their regrowth had been done to the satisfaction of the Fates, the Elven Kings were once again being ordered to gather the members of the Kings counsel, to hear what message the Oracles had to pass on. It was, or so they had been told, a quest that the Fates had held off delivering while the people recovered from the wars. They had given the Elven people time to form alliances, find Life Mates and a new generation to be born. This, in the opinion of the Fates, was as important as the restructuring of the Empire.

To begin the meeting, Emperor Lothrariel stood at the head of the counsel table and addressed the assembly. “The counsel of Kings has been ordered to meet by the Oracles. We now call upon them, so we may hear the reason for this summoning.”

The three older Oracles came forward and bowed their heads, as the eldest began to speak. “We have been given the task of delivering this message from the Fates.”

As she finished speaking, the three Oracles moved aside, to allow S’Larea to come forward. She approached the center area of the counsel table and, as she did, she seemed to look upon those that answered the call. They were all here; every King that had been ordered to attend was seated at the table. Despite this, there were still unoccupied spaces at the meeting table. No one knew the reason for those, and anyone that had wondered about it had ceased to question it. They had all been too busy with the rebuilding of the Empire since the raising of the veil to give this matter much thought. Now, there was something new to occupy their minds, and they wondered what the Fates had been keeping from them.

The Elven Kings watched S’Larea as she raised eyes that appeared milky white. It was a sign that she was under the influence of a powerful vision. Then, she spoke.

“The King cannot be defeated.
He is strong and fights for justice.
His men fill his great halls.
Evil never fights fair.
It moves in the dark.
It bides its time before striking.
It grows, as it frees itself.

Despite duplicity,
The Great King lives on.
He is caged in his sanctuary.
His Kingdoms are hidden.
From there, he calls your names.
Hear his song.

The doorway must be opened,
It is done from the other side,
He will reveal the tainted blood,
To those that will see the truth.
He shall then lead the way.
Out of the Hidden Kingdoms.”

Even Emperor Lothrariel had no idea what S’Larea was trying to tell them, which was nothing new. The Oracles were never clear when they sent their messages. They needed to find the way to figure out what was expected from them, so they could act accordingly.

Emperor Lothrariel knew that what he was about to do would be considered underhanded by the older Oracles. The one thing he hated about answering their summons was how they left everyone to grope in the dark for answers after the fact. He wanted to know what S’Larea was saying, so he knew how to respond properly. He looked directly at her, as the light of the Fates shone brightly from her, and took a deep breath even as he gathered his power, as well as that of the Kings that were sitting at the table at his side, and ordered.

“Oracle, you will show us what you see, so we know what is expected of us.”

“This is the word of the Fates. They will not be coerced by your bullying tactics,” S’Larea responded.

“We cannot be expected to continuously grope for answers in the dark. We are creatures of the light. We would know what we must do, so we can remain as such,” Emperor Lothrariel spoke forcefully.

“Who do you speak for, Emperor Lothrariel of the Elven Empire?” S’Larea demanded.

“As Emperor of the Elven Empire, I gather the wills and desires of the Kings I serve. We beseech you, tell us what we need to know, so we may work your will better in the light,” Lothrariel insisted.

Lothrariel and S’Larea’s eyes met, their wills clashed, as he asserted his demands on the messenger sent by the Fates. When she parted her lips to speak a rejection, he was ready for it, and he interrupted her speech, to insist that his questions were to be answered.

“You. Will. Show. Us. What. We. Must. Know. NOW!”

“Behold your answer, Emperor and Kings of the Elven Empire, but know that this is not a task put to you. No one sitting at this table is to answer our call. This is for others to respond to. Now, behold what you feel you need to know.” S’Larea replied.

As S’Larea relayed the message, the counsel table disappeared in the mist of her vision, and the Kings rose as one to witness what they were about to be shown. No one, not even Lothrariel, knew what to expect. They were awed by the power they were being shown and silenced by the scene as it unfolded before them.

The meadow that surrounded the counsel of the Kings table turned into a massive building made of white and rose colored marble. In the vision, S’Larea showed them several young Elves, as they walked through the massive doorway and into the building. The young Elves looked around them in wonder, for they had never seen anything to match the grandeur of the interior of this building. Statues of Kings and Warriors lined the room, all honed of marble of different colors and they were perfect in their form. Green. Blue. Black. Those things were but a few of what was shown. The countenances of the people were different than other Elven people they had seen in the past, but there was no doubt in the minds of the young Elves that they were looking at members of their own race. There were not only Kings; those were only a handful from amongst the people in the room that fit in that rank. Most were Elven Warriors.

As the young Elves moved slowly through the statues, they could see rows of doors lining the walls. These led to other places, and they wondered what lay beyond them. They moved to one set and opened them, to show stairs that wound into the darkness below. Another set of doors revealed stairs that appeared to have no ending, as they rose majestically into the light.

Most of the doors opened into gardens that were made of marble and light. Everything appeared to be hewn out of stone. Birds hovered in midflight, bees were held in midair doing their tasks of collecting nectar from exotic blooms, water was captured in mid dance, as it hovered over clear marble basins. Elves were captured in mid step, along with their mounts, as they seemed to be arriving for some unknown reason. Again, the rock was from all colors.

Eventually, the young Elves reached a set of doors that appeared to be locked from the inside. The magic holding it closed was dark and strong, and the Elven Kings looked as if they were watching, as each Elf in the vision tried to break through the conjuring and failed. Eventually, they brought the one they hoped could break through the spell forward. He stopped four feet from the entrance and spread his hands outwards as he spoke words of power. Light shone around him, and the darkness that held the doors in a state of stasis fled from the light. While the door slowly opened it showed the dimly lit interior of an office.

Unlike the rooms and outdoor scenes they had walked though earlier, this one was cleared of all clutter. There was no dust and, although the room was dimly lit, the darkness still seemed to be held at bay. There were no stone people or animals here. The plants were real, as was everything else. The furniture was decorated in a sparse manner, but the workmanship was unparalleled. A large desk sat off to the side. It was made of a dark oak, and the scrolled gold that was ingrained in the wood glistened in the light. There were chairs to match. In the middle of the room sat a throne, heavily decorated with gold and, to the other side of this was a circular couch that looked like it had seen a lot of use. As they entered the room, they felt the evil spell that had kept the interior in a state of stasis shatter, and a voice came to them from a window seat, overlooking the courtyard.

“You have come. I have waited a long time. Your journey has been long and arduous. Come and join me in a drink, and I will tell you my tale. There is little more for me to share, and for this, you have my profoundest apologies. It is not our way to deprive our guests of food and comfort, but there is little to be had of that here. Be assured that what there is, it will be offered freely. You are welcome to share my world, such as it is.”

“We have food and water enough for all of us, feel free to partake of what we offer,” One of the young Elves invited.

The weak sound of the Elf they had found inside the room prepared the young Elves for his appearance. The man could barely support his weight. He looked starved to the point where there was little left of him but skin and bones. A couple of them reached to help him move from the window seat to the couch as others quickly pulled food and water supplies from their packs, while others offered him energy. It was one of the female members of the group who stopped them from trying to feed him the heavier foods. She was one of their leaders, and entered the room at the side of another.

The moment the female Elf saw the Elven King, she knew what needed to be done. “He has been incarcerated in this room for millenniums without food, and only a minimal amount of water. He remained alive by sheer will and energy reserves alone. He must have been an extremely strong warrior at one point of his life.”

At the sound of the Female Elf’s voice, the stranger looked up to see who else had entered the room. His eyes connected with hers, and they both gave a gasp of recognition, even as she gave a cry and rushed to his side. “My love, what have they done to you?”

“All that I suffered has been washed away by the look in your eyes,” the Elf declared hoarsely. His voice was barely audible as he spoke. He had no energy to spare; yet he firmed his resolve to remain with his Life Mate. He had not survived this long to meet her, and then leave her alone to grieve because he was weak. He could be strong for her, if for no other reason.

“He will need more energy than what you gave him. I will quickly make a broth for him to drink. He has been without food for a long time, and must not partake of anything solid until his stomach is used to having something in it once again.” She spoke, as she turned back to the male Elf and added. “I am Erdwen, and you are safe amongst us.”

“My name is Askandar,” the Elf spoke, and then he fainted.

“I have a feeling he won’t be happy about that,” Camthalion noted with a chuckle.

One after the other, the Male Elves fed energy to the Elf they had rescued from his jail. They didn’t give him much at a time, but enough that he would feel refreshed when he woke. With the extra strength, Askandar would be able to share his tale. This, they wouldn’t allow until after he had eaten. They would be able to judge better if he was capable of doing this. They were sure Erdwen would tell them if he was strong enough to talk over a prolonged period of time. She, they were sure, would be apt to be very protective of him for a long time.

The vision ended and S’Larea looked at Lothrariel, as she spoke, “We call upon Timorean, Galador, Camthalion, Thoron, Indis, Elladan, Belwin, Soren, Dondar, Erdwen, Esoroan and Kitres. These Elves are to go into the uncharted lands. They are to seek out the King that was and bring him home. This is the quest the Fates have given to them. See that it is done.”

S’Larea sighed, as Lothrariel came to her side to feed her energy and lend her his support. She would need rest to get over this now. At the same time as he thought about his Life Mate’s reaction to the vision, he wondered why only the younger generation had been called upon to serve. He was pleased to note that none of the bonded families had been called upon to take the trip, yet wondered why? He looked at the exhaustion stamped on S’Larea’s face and quickly decided not to ask. She was tired enough.

Lothrariel looked at the older Oracles and noticed their frowns, as they looked at S’Larea. He had his doubts whether they would consider her condition when they spoke their minds to her later. Oracles were often extremely difficult to live with. S’Larea was not. As he lifted her into his arms to carry her to their home, he looked directly at the other Oracles and spoke. “You will not hound my Life Mate about giving in to my orders to let us see this vision. If you do, I will take actions to stop you from seeing her. Do I make myself clear?”

“You assume too much, Lothrariel, but we know you mean well. S’Larea must learn to control her powers. They are very strong and must not be abused. We will bow to your wishes at this time, but it is only because S’Larea carries another child. In the future, you might also give her condition some thought. Your bullying has forced her to extend her powers further than she should have,” the Eldest Oracle retorted, as she shook her head in warning.

Lothrariel didn’t show the surprise he felt at learning this piece of news from the Oracles. But, it was something he was going to take up with S’Larea. He should have been the first to know about their child, not one of the many. At the same time he wondered how this had come to pass without his noticing. A Life Mate always knew about the conception of a child shortly after it happened. How could he have been so remiss?


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