Prophecy Story Index
A male voice, resigned, but amused, laughed. "All right, a story. I guess after being gone for so long, I owe you a story. What do you want to hear about?"
Three young child voices responded in unison. "Kellessan."
Sighing, the man asked, "How did I know? Don't you ever get tired of hearing about her?"
"Okay. Kellessan it is. I even have a new one for you. So let Mommie tuck you in bed, and then we'll start. Ready? Here we go. Once upon a time..."
All things must begin somewhere at some time and some place in history. Even legends. They may seem timeless. After a legend has been around for awhile, people forget what it was like before. They tend to believe it has always been there, that the person behind the legend is 'bigger than life', as they say. The stories grow with every telling, seeming to create more heroic deeds than any one person could do in three lifetimes.
One such legendary figure was Kellessan, swordswoman, mercenary, self-proclaimed daughter of no one. If the tales of her exploits are to be believed, she was over 7 feet tall, hair the color of spun gold, blue eyes that can make the hardest man shudder in terror, and a voice that commands instant and unquestioned obedience. Add in her rarely-used, but powerful, mage ability, plus her sword, a legend in of itself... Well, you can understand her legendary status.
However, while the tales of her numerous deeds and adventures may or may not be true, she was a key figure in the history of Rillanda. And the tales of her deeds have their roots in truth, as do all stories. But where did she come from? What are her beginnings? If all things, even legends, have beginnings, what were hers?
This is her story, the story of her beginnings. It is Kellessan's story.
Kasi swung the sword again, striking at her target viciously and precisely, attacking without mercy. Her anger and frustration gave her extra energy, energy she never would had had if this were a normal day. Normal day. Ha. What is normal? She pulled back, breathing hard, preparing to strike again.
"Tell me, child, what has that poor wood post done to offend you so?"
The deep, calm, male voice brought her up short. Whirling around, she held the practice sword out in front of her to defend herself. Seeing who it was, she lowered the sword to the point at the ground, straightening from her defensive crouch. "Master Hinarme, you startled me. As for the post, well, I'm taking out some ... aggression, I guess you could call it. My parents wish to move again."
The older man nodded, taking a seat on a crate next to the wall of the small barn. "Yes, so I heard from your father. You do not want to move?"
Kasi frowned, sitting down next to him on another crate. "I am weary of running from Seth and his men. I'm 22. You tell me I've completed my mage training. My swordcraft teachers have told me they have taught me all they know. I should be able to do ... something, anything but hide."
Hinarme nodded again. "I see. Tell me, what do you feel?"
She blinked at the non sequitur. "What? What do I feel? I don't understand. About what?"
He continued, squinting slightly, watching her intently. "Do you feel as if something is calling you to stand up to Seth, to fight him? Is there another reason for your ... impatience, your ... dissatisfaction with how things are playing out?"
Kasi was silent for several moments, looking down at the practice sword as she wiped it down with a cloth. Then she nodded, saying softly, "Yes, I do feel something calling me, as you say. My parents, they want to go to the coast, to a village named Yana. There is an inn..." She stopped, then began again, looking out past him through the open doorway, "I feel ... compelled to go to the mountains, in the opposite direction. I tried to tell them this. They didn't understand. I don't want to leave them, they're all I have, but..."
Her voice trailed off and Hinarme finished for her. "But you know you must go, that it would be wrong to not do so."
She looked up at him, eyes wide. "Exactly. What do I do, master?"
Hinarme pulled a small scroll from inside his long-sleeved tunic. Looking into her eyes, he said, "As you say, I have completed your training in magery, Kasi. Several swordmasters have indeed taught you all they know about swordcraft. You have the sword pin that carries with it the blessings of the Light Sisters, given by them to your ancestress, handed down for generations in your mother's family. Only one thing remains, and the prophecy will be fulfilled."
Kasi frowned, her lips pursing in skepticism. "What prophecy?"
He unrolled the scroll, forcing it to lay flat in his lap. "This prophecy."
She looked down, following his finger as he read the fragment of prophecy from the yellowed paper:
.... and it shall come to pass in those days of darkness that a woman shall arise to claim the right of protectorship. She shall have the gift of magery to aid her against the dark one. She shall have the blessings and token of the Light Sisters. And she shall be given Lachiellian ....
Below the text was a rough, hand-drawn map of a mountain range, the very one that Kasi had felt pulled to in recent weeks. She looked up at Hinarme, not sure if what she understood what the text was saying. She chewed at her lip, thinking aloud. "Lachiellian. If I remember my old Rillandan right, that means 'Sword of the Protector', doesn't it? Lachiellian is a sword then."
Hinarme replied, "A very important, very powerful, very special sword. One that dates back as far as the sword pin of yours. The last recorded mention of its use is before even Seyna's time. This piece of prophecy was written by its last user, whose name has been lost to us. But the sword is a sword of protection, of power, and of magery. It has the ability to enhance what skills, whatever they may be, are already in the user. When Seth invaded Rillanda, I knew that the days of darkness had finally come to pass. When you arrived here and I saw that pin, I began to think that you were the one the prophecy spoke of."
Here he stopped, just looking at her intently. She returned his gaze, then asked softly, "Am I then?"
He smiled at her. "I am not the one to decide that, child. Only Lachiellian can do that. I do, however, want to believe that you are. You must go to Mount Vineretti. This map will show you the way."
Kasi took the scroll, tracing the route to Mount Vineretti with a finger as she asked, "Do you know anything else about this sword, this Lachiellian?"
Hinarme settled back. "A very few things have survived in the oral traditions of Rillandans. It is difficult to tell how much is truth and how much is superstition. However, there are a two pieces of information that I know are truth. One, Lachiellian will not be taken without testing. There is no record of what this involves though. However, I would guess that it is an issue of control. Lachiellian is, as I said, a very special sword. Although it cannot be used against its will, it has the ability to use its wielder against their will. If you decide to take it up, you must be strong, stronger than it.
"Two, there is always a price to pay. Once you have taken the sword, you will never again be who you are today. You will change; you will become a different person. What that person is like cannot be foretold.
"Whatever happens, you must remember to listen, to what is around you, to yourself, and to the voice of destiny and prophecy."
He touched her shoulder once, then left.
Kasi remained there, looking at the prophecy and the map for several minutes, weighing her options. She stood and went to the door of the barn, looking out at the distant mountain range, in the midst of which is Mount Vineretti, which sat on the southwest border of Rillanda, beyond which lies the mountainous country of Ysindra. It was not a terribly tall mountain, more like a hill than anything else. Maybe a week's journey horseback to get there. Then maybe another week and a half to get to Yana. Surely I could leave them alone for that long. Yana is so far from Brightstar. I bet Seth's troops hardly ever get there.
She looked back down at the rolled-up scroll in her hands, then at the practice sword. She looked back out at the mountain, jaw set with determination. I must go. After all, who am I to argue with prophecy?
A day later, Kasi was on the road, riding her small roan mare, not the fastest horse, but very sturdy and dependable, and, more importantly, capable of riding up those hills without tiring unduly fast. Her parents hadn't been terribly happy with the idea of her riding off on some 'quest'. Just as they were all she had left, she was all they had left. And they were not willing to let her go without some kind of resistance.
But they trusted Hinarme, just like she did. Her mage abilities had come back suddenly while they were living in Getha, just after she had started to learn swordcraft. The simple village mage had got in contact with Hinarme a few towns over and asked him to come to Getha. He had already figured out who Patric, Meg, and Kasi really were and was prepared to keep their secret until he died. But when Kasi displayed mage talent, he had known they had a problem if she wasn't trained immediately. Hinarme had come two days later and quickly began showing Kasi how to use her talent.
But by then it had been too late.
Not a week after the first incident, Seth's troops had attacked Getha. Hinarme had said that Seth's black mages had most likely picked up on her mage ability, that unshielded and untrained, Kasi was like a bright light in the darkness, a readily observable target, so strong was the power within her. Seth hadn't been so much looking for the missing royal family as for the untapped potential of an untrained mage. He could absorb that potential into himself and make himself stronger that way, something he had probably already been doing.
Fortunately, they had all escaped safely, including Hinarme, who became her teacher, and in the process of showing her how to shield and control her mage talent, he became her friend as well, one of very few. They had moved twice since then, and he had always stayed with them. They had put forth the story that he was Meg's father who lived with them. No one else knew of Kasi's mage talent. It was strange enough for the townspeople wherever they happened to be living to find out that she was learning swordcraft. Additionally, they hadn't wanted Seth's black mages to hear of her.
Kasi had insisted upon going on this 'quest' of hers as they call it. She was an adult, very well capable of taking care of herself. Knowing that they were only concerned about her and worried about losing her had made it difficult too get upset with them. Finally, they had relented and had sent her off with their blessings, making her promise to meet them in Yana as soon as she could.
Hinarme would not be joining them. As he had said, her training was complete. He was known in Yana as a mage, and it would be dangerous for all concerned for him to be associated with them. He needed to move on, to put distance between himself and her family, for his own protection, as much as theirs. Kasi would miss her mentor, but knew he was right.
Her travel toward Mount Vineretti was uncomplicated and fairly routine. She stopped at a town here and there to restock her supplies, but otherwise than that, spent most of her time alone on the roads. Not many people traveled very far in this area of Rillanda. Most everyone was country folk who stayed close to home their entire lives. She was closemouthed about her reasons for her journey, letting them think she was just a wanderer or someone running from Seth's troops. In any case, they let her buy what she needed and were happy to see her gone.
A week went by, and Kasi was finally at Mount Vineretti, looking into a dark cave at its base. She looked down at the map. Well, this is it. I guess I go on foot from here on out. She tied her horse off on a nearby tree, then headed into the dark cave. As an afterthought, she pulled her sword from its leather sheath and waved a hand over it. It glowed softly, pushing back the darkness around her. Knew that trick would come in handy someday.
She continued on, following the twists and turns of the long tunnel. Suddenly she stopped. There was a fork in the tunnel. She looked down at the map. No help there. Chewing on her lip in frustration, she muttered, "Great. Now what?"
Hinarme's words came back to her. He told me to listen. She closed her eyes and settled into a meditative state that Hinarme had taught her to use when she had first begun to use her mage abilities. Slowly her mind cleared of everything else. At first all she heard was the silence of the cave, water dripping somewhere, bats flying way overhead.
Then she began to hear something else, something different. A low hum, something that vibrated and resonated against her earbones. She let her body turn toward it, let it pull her toward it.
When Kasi opened her eyes, she was facing the right tunnel. Unhesitatingly, she started down the tunnel, following the hum she could now almost really audibly hear. A glow formed in front of her, and she could see the end of the tunnel ahead. She exited the tunnel and found herself in large, open cave. The glow seemed to be coming from the center of the cave, reflecting off the high ceiling and moss-covered walls.
Absently she flicked the glow off her sword, replacing it in its sheath across her back. She walked slowly toward the center of the room, where there was a raised area, steps all around it. A long rectangular stone sat in the middle of it, the glow rising from the top of the stone itself. The pulsing hum gets louder the closer she got to it. She climbed the steps and steps over to the stone, looking down at a long, glowing, pulsing swordlike shape.
I remember this. That dream. It's from that dream.
Kasi reached out her hand toward the light. Her fingers had just grazed it when a low, booming voice said, "She has come."
She yelped and yanked her hand back in surprise, reaching for the pommel of her own sheathed sword, looking rapidly around. "What? Who are you? Where are you?"
The voice continued, now sounding like several voices overlapping. "We are Destiny. You are for whom we have waited. You have come for Lachiellian, as was prophesied."
She nodded, straightening, voice firm. "Yes, I have. What must I do to take it?"
A chuckle. Another voice, female this time. "Lachiellian will decide if you are worthy, child. Take up the sword and learn."
Kasi looked back down at the sword which she could now make out through the glow. Taking a deep breath, she reached out and grasped the pommel of the broadsword, lifting it up parallel to her body, point raised to the ceiling.
She gasped and staggered as images and sounds of battles and wars, of victory and defeat, poured into her mind. Swallowing and getting a firmer grip with two hands, she closed her eyes, finding that meditative state, determined to be in control and not to be controlled.
Had she been able to see herself, Kasi would have been stunned at the sight she presented. Light tendrils drifted down the sword hilt, wrapping themselves around her wrists, then flowing swiftly and silently down her arms, spreading up and down to the rest of her body. The light pulsed between blue and lavender as it tugged at the edges of her clothing and teased at the loose curls of hair around her face.
The light swirled around her body, lighting up the room. So engrossed was she in finding a balance between opening herself to the sword's testing and not wanting to be overwhelmed by it, Kasi didn't hear the hum grow in volume in the cave, nor see the lights just outside her eyelids.
She would later say that except for this small moment in time her impressions of the sword were never this strong, but this one time she imagined she could almost hear a voice speaking to her as a sense of completion and welcoming fill her mind.
<You have come! You have come! The silence is over!>
After several minutes, the light pulled itself back to the sword, gathering into a pulsing white light before dispersing off the hilt into the darkness of the surrounding cave.
Feeling a bit dazed, Kasi opened her eyes again, breathing deeply. She looked down at the sword. It was still glowing, but only faintly now, the light fading quickly. It almost looked like just any other sword, except that it was not. She could feel it somewhat vaguely, almost like a presence in the back of her mind, though that too was fading away rapidly.
Looking down at the heavy stone, she saw a hollowed out spot in the shape of the broadsword was set into the top. Instinctively, she knew that something must be left in Lachiellian's place. She pulled her lighter sword out and laid it in the empty place. The indentation molded itself around the new offering.
The female voice came again. "Well done, child. You have been accepted by Lachiellian. Be warned that the use of this sword will change you, perhaps in ways you cannot understand now."
She said softly, "I understand. I accept that, and I will do what I must to fight the darkness, to fight the evil that has ruled Rillanda. It has been long enough."
The low, booming voice interrupted sternly. "No. The time has not yet arrived. There is another whom must come first. You will know when. Soon, but not yet. For now, take up the sword and learn. And prepare."
A bright light flared in the cave, forcing her to close her eyes, lest she be blinded. When she opened her eyes again, blinking away residual dark spots, she found herself outside the cave, standing next to her horse, Lachiellian still in her hand. She blinked a few more times, steadying herself against the side of her mare.
"Well, I guess that means it's time for me to leave, hm? Next stop, Yana."
Several days later, Kasi swung off the roan mare and led her to the stable at the edge of the small village of Buren. She looked around for someone to give her horse to, but didn't see anyone. She led the mare into the front of the stable and threw the reins over a hitching post inside, then went back outside. Hearing voices from around the corner, she strode around the side of the building.
Behind the building was a enclosed stable yard, inside of which were several men, all attempting to control a young unsaddled black stallion, lead reins dangling in the dirt, that was dancing away from them, snorting at their antics. Kasi leaned against the side of the stable and watched, her mouth twitching in amusement. If I didn't know better, I'd think that horse is laughing at them.
A low chuckle finally escaped her, which drew the attention of the older man standing at the fence. He turned, squinting at her suspiciously in the noonday sun, seeing the pommel of the heavy broadsword over one of her shoulders. "Who are you?"
She straightened, wanting to calm his fears. "I'm just traveling through here. Wanted to stock up on supplies for my horse. There was no one out front, so I came back here when I heard voices." As the man relaxes, she leans back against the stable wall and gestured toward the horse with her chin. "Seems that stallion is giving you some trouble."
The man grunted, turning back to watch the stallion prance away again from a stable hand. "Yeah, my last good horse, wanted to sell him before Norseth sent his goons this way looking for more mounts. But that danged horse just refuses to be touched. He's broke, barely, probably be a fine riding mount, if a little excitable, but..."
Kasi stepped closer to the fence, eyeing the stallion intently. His last good horse and he wanted to sell him. She narrowed her eyes as she recognized something in his stance, what is it..? When it finally dawned on her what it was, her fingers digging into the wood of the fence was the only sign of her excitement.
That stallion is a descendent of Teva. I'd bet my last silver on it. The stance, the proud tilt of the head, the laughing mannerisms, the high-strung prancing. He has to be. Oh, what I would give to have that horse. When the stallion turned in her direction the next time, she leaned her head forward and gave a short whistle. The stallion pawed at the ground for a few moments, eyeing her, breath whuffing out in billows. Kasi remained still, her eyes locked with his. Come on, horse, come to me. I know what you are. I can appreciate you.
The stallion eyed her another moment, tossing his head, then pranced toward her, evading the hands of the men in the stable yard. He came right up to her, lowering his head to sniff at her. She slowly raised a hand and petted his nose. "Good boy, good boy."
The older man next to her stared for a few moments, then chuckled softly. "Well, I guess he likes you at least."
Not taking her eyes off the stallion, Kasi asked, "What do you want for him?"
The man threw back. "What do you have to offer me?"
Kasi looked at him finally for a moment, then back at the stallion, her lips quirking in amusement. "Not much. I've been on the road for the past week and a half. I have a roan mare, the clothes on my back, and a few silver coins."
The man pursed his lips. "A roan mare. My daughter has been asking for a horse for the past year. Never found one I thought would do for her. Let's go see this mare of yours. Maybe we can simply make a trade."
Kasi nodded agreeably. "Maybe we could at that."
The man put out his hand. "Name's Nic."
Turning slightly, Kasi shook his hand and was opening her mouth to tell him her name when a yell cut through the air.
Nic swore briefly under his breath, grabbing an axe that was propped up next to the building.
Kasi pulled her sword out of its sheath. "Raiders? Out here?"
Nic replied, disgust mingled with fear evident in his voice, "Aye, they've been terrorizing the villages near here, stealing what they can, and scaring us into letting them."
Kasi stepped around the corner of the building and saw at least a half dozen men on horseback riding this way, fast, swinging swords and looking none too friendly. She turned back, climbing up onto the fence and pulling the stallion over to her by his reins.
Turning to follow her sudden movements, Nic grabbed at her arm. "What do you think you're doing?"
Sheathing her sword, she pulled away. "Getting on this horse. Those raiders are mounted. I need to be mounted as well if I'm going to be of any help."
With that she threw her legs over the stallion's back, gathering up the reins in one hand. She waited a moment, letting the stallion adjust to her weight. "Okay, horse, let's see what you can do."
It'd been some time since she'd ridden bareback, but she already felt a connection to this stallion. Maybe it was because he was Teva-bred. Who knows? And right now, I don't care. She kneed him to turn around, hoping he understood simple commands. He complied, hooves prancing in excitement as he picked up on her battle-readiness. She'd fought a few bandits in the past few years. Hopefully, between her skills, this horse, and whatever "enhancement" Lachiellian gave her would be enough to fight against a half-dozen raiders. Or at least give the village a fighting chance and time enough to pull together some kind of resistance.
With a yell, she kneed the stallion hard, heading for the far fence. As he went into a fast gallop, she hunched down and his body lengthened as he approached the fence. She could feel his muscles shift and coil beneath her, and then ... he jumped, and they were flying over the fence, landing solidly on the other side.
She pulled him around and dashed through an alleyway between two buildings, bursting out into the street, surprising the raiders. She yanked out her sword and yelled again as she kneed her mount into the fray, using her new sword to take out the raiders as they tried to hurt the people.
She dispatched three while still on horseback. One was tackled by several townspeople and brought to the ground. The other two, one of which she believed was the leader, were unhorsed and randomly attacking villagers. Kasi dismounted quickly and ran at them. She knocked one out and turned to face the leader of this merry little band. He stared at her for a moment, then grabbed a child, a young boy of no more than 9 years of age, who had been trying to hide against the wall of a house.
The brigand leader snarled at her, holding his sword against the boy's neck. One step closer, and the boy dies."
Kasi just glared at him, narrowing her eyes. She took a step back, sheathing her sword carefully.
The leader nodded, curling his lip. "Yeah, put that thing away. Women shouldn't be using such..."
The rest of whatever comment he was making was forever lost with a wet thwick as a dagger impaled itself suddenly and solidly in his throat, cutting off his words and his airflow. He stumbled back, falling down, releasing the boy who ran to hide behind Kasi.
Kasi lowered her hand, checking the nick the knife had given her when she'd released it down her forearm to her hand. I really need to practice with these more. She looked on impassively as the brigand leader gasped his last breath and died in the dirt.
She looked down at the boy standing slightly behind her and touched his head lightly. "Are you okay?"
He nodded, his voice a little shaky as he looked up at her, eyes wide with residual fright. "Y-yes, ma'am, thank you."
An anxious female voice called out, and the boy turned and ran to whom Kasi took to be his mother. Satisfied that he would be taken care of, Kasi turned her attention to the last raider she had knocked aside who was coming back to consciousness. She grabbed him by the collar of his dirty shirt, hauling him roughly up to her level. He blinked at her, mouth working, trying to form words.
Finally, gasping and struggling ineffectively against her hold, he managed, "Who are you?"
She opened her mouth to tell him that her name was not important, but then stopped. A name popped into her head, one that sounded and felt right. Yes! And as she rolled the name around in her mind, testing the sound of it, she could almost feel ... something inexpressible ... click into place.
She pulled the raider to her, jerking his feet off the ground. Her voice was low and deadly. "My name is Kellessan, daughter of no one. Make sure you remember that name. You'll be hearing more of it soon." She pulled his face closer to hers, all but hissing at him. "Leave here while you can still walk. And don't come back. Because I will hear about it, and I will find you."
Kellessan released him, pushing him away angrily. "Now go!" He stumbled back, falling over the dead body of his leader. Then he regained his footing and ran out of the village without looking back. Kell collected her dagger, cleaning it on the dead man's cloak, then reset her arm sheath.
Something touched her shoulder, and she looked back to see the stallion standing behind her. She stroked his nose, smiling slightly. "I suppose you want a name too, huh?" She thought for a few moments, then continued. "What about Tavindel? You like that, my stallion friend?"
Tavindel's head bobbed up and down in agreement, whuffling at her hair. She laughed softly. "Tavindel it is. Maybe I'll call you Tavi for short though, hm? Come on, I have to finish buying you first."
A voice she identified as Nic's spoke up. "He is a gift, friend Kellessan, a thank-you for helping us with the raiders."
Turning from Tavi, Kell suddenly realized that she was surrounded by the townspeople, all looking extremely grateful, maybe a bit awed. She shook her head, "No, no, I can't just take him..."
Nic held up both hands, forestalling her protest. "I insist. It's not like anyone else can ride him."
Kell chuckled, sighing. "Very well. But please, take the mare. I have no use for two horses."
He nodded his agreement. "Done and done. Now, I know that you are traveling and probably would like to be on your way. But surely you can stay for the noon meal?"
She hesitated, but then her stomach growled loudly, answering for her. Blushing, she laughed again. "I think that was a yes."
Nic smiled. "Good, good, the local tavern is this way. I think the cook is already preparing the makings of a feast."
Kell figured it was better just to let them do what they would and took up Tavi's reins to follow Nic to the tavern. As she walked, she pondered her new name, the third one she'd had in her short, two-decade lifetime. Kellessan. That's an old Rillandan name. Means 'Protector', I think, or more properly, 'The Protector'. And the sword is called the 'Sword of the Protector.' Well, I did say I wasn't going to argue with prophecy. But I sure don't remember this in any of the texts I studied. Whatever. It's not like I have a choice about it now anyway. I said I would accept whatever was necessary. And that is exactly what I'm going to do.
Sometime later, after eating more food than she'd had since she had begun this little trek, Kell sat back in her chair against the wall, sipping at the thirst-quenching fruit drink in front of her. The impromptu celebration had died down, and people were slowly starting to drift back out, going back to their chores and daily duties. The cook had insisted upon preparing some food for her to take with her when she left again. Not knowing when she'd be able to restock her supplies again, she had agreed to his offer and was now waiting for him to bring out some bread, cheese, and dried fruit.
She idly watched the few people left in the tavern with half-closed eyes. The adrenaline rush from the short battle was finally gone, and she was beginning to feel the weariness of the last few days of travel catching up with her.
Well, what did you expect? You've just spent the last week and a half traveling all over the hills. You found some prophetic sword that seems to have a mind of its own. You've spent half of the last few days 'arguing' with it, if such a thing is possible. And then you go and fight a handful of raiders, without having eaten yet, on a horse with no saddle that you've never ridden before. What did you expect? The easy life?
She chuckled to herself ruefully, looking down at the liquid in her mug. Life has not been easy for a very long time. At least I got a horse, plus a full saddle package, and a new name out of the bargain. And maybe even a new personality. Maybe it came as a bonus with the new name. When she had attacked those raiders, it was almost like she was watching it from outside herself. It wasn't that she had never killed before. There had been the occasional bandit who attacked and wouldn't give up and she had been forced to kill him. And then there was that soldier back at the palace . . . . But still, it was like the sword, Lachiellian, just ... took control or something. Spooky.
She sighed, rubbing her face. And then when she'd threatened the only one still left alive, well, that was beyond anything she'd ever done before. And just where did that name come from anyway? More prophecy? Something Hinarme forgot to mention? In reality , the whole thing was something she'd never done before actually. A few bandits here and there, no trouble at all. But she'd just taken on 5 raiders, better armed and more capable than any bandit could ever be. And she had walked away with only a self-inflicted scratch as a result.
It seems that you and I are going to have to come to some sort of agreement, Lachiellian. You are a sword. I am the person who uses you. Not the other way around. Got it? Enhance all you want. I more than welcome that. But leave my will alone. She waited for some kind of response, feeling ridiculous. I'm talking to a sword. Man, I must be crazy or ... what was that?
A tingle of warning shivered down her spine. Someone was watching her -- intently. She lifted her eyes and looked around for a few moments before settling on an older man sitting at a table across the room from her. He was tall, strongly built, and has blonde hair. Purposefully, she shifted and stared back at him, daring him to look away.
He didn't. Instead, he continued to look at her, his forehead creasing with concentration, as if trying to decide if he knew her, and if he did, what to do about it. Outwardly she showed no reaction. Inwardly, she was frowning. Something about him seems familiar somehow. I don't know what exactly, but...
The man stood up slowly and walked toward her. She straightened and readied herself for a confrontation if necessary. As he neared her, his facial features become clearer and added to the precise stride he had, she suddenly realized who he was. Willim! But how ... I thought ... I can't let him know who I am. Linet is long gone. There is only Kellessan now.
Willim stopped at the table and looked down at her, asking politely. "May I join you, my lady?"
She nodded after a moment, keeping her eyes and face calm with a little effort. He sat down and was silent for another few moments, looking as if he didn't know quite where to begin.
Finally, Kell said, impatience in her voice. "Is there something I can do for you?"
Willim smiled softly, tilting his head. "I'm not sure. I was just thinking about how much you remind me of a girl I once knew."
She stiffened slightly, her eyes narrowing dangerously, but remained silent.
Willim continued, holding out his hand. "Forgive me. My name is Willim. I was just arriving back in town when the raiders attacked. I wanted to thank you for your help in getting rid of them."
She took his hand and shook it once firmly. "My pleasure. I'm sure you know my name."
He nodded. "Yes, you said, I believe, that it is Kellessan, daughter of no one. Though I must admit I am curious how that could be true."
She quirked an eyebrow. "Well, I'm afraid you'll just have to stay curious."
Willim leaned forward, his voice low. "Listen to me, Kellessan, daughter of no one, you know who I am. I saw that you recognized me. You know that I used to be in King Randal's guard. You know that I was loyal to the crown, to the rightful rulers of Rillanda. And I am still loyal to whomever is left of the royalty."
Kell took a slow, deliberate swig of her drink before replying calmly, belying her increasing nervousness. "From what I hear, there is no one left. That they all were killed or died of other causes the night Seth invaded Brightstar."
Willim snorted. "That is what we are supposed to believe. That is what he is supposed to believe. I know differently. I know just who really died and whose bodies were never found. I know there was never any proof that the prince, his wife, and his daughter died." His voice lowered even farther, making her strain to hear his words. "And lastly, I know who you are, or, rather, who you were 12 years ago, little one."
Her eyes went flat and unreadable as her face stilled. Her mind, however, spun in all directions at once. Little one. Willim used to call me that. Light help me, he does know who I am. Now what?
Willim shifted once, jaw tightening at her unrelenting glare, but refusing to back off.
Finally, she nodded once. "Very well. I was that person 12 years ago, but no longer. Now I am only Kellessan. And that is who I shall remain."
A small victorious smile crept across his face. "Ah, so I am right. I wanted to be sure. But have no fear, I will not say anything. I understand your desire, your need, to keep who you are a secret. But, I must know, are they ... alive as well?"
There was little doubt in either's mind just who he was referring to. They could only mean Stefan and Raven, the last of the royal house of Rillanda, the rightful rulers.
Kell stared at him for a full minute in silence, her face a mask, her eyes judging him, considering what she should say. Deny everything? Admit everything? Growling in disgust at how easily he had seen through her, she tore her eyes away from his and lifted her mug, draining the remaining fruit juice in one large swallow, wishing she had asked for something stronger.
Finally, she met his eyes again and answered softly, quietly, simply. "Yes."
Willim's eyes closed once reflexively, then he opened them again. "They're alive. Oh, thank the Light. I don't want to know anymore than that, only that they're alive."
Kell nodded once. "Agreed. And you, Willim, how did you manage to escape Brightstar safely? And what about your family? And Jamas, where is he?"
Willim settled back again. "Captain Doyle chose Jamas and I to lead the evacuation of the palace staff and the families of the guards living there, at least those still remaining. We had starting moving most everyone out weeks before, but some chose to stay, to wait until the last moment. They knew that the palace could not function without a bare minimum of staff, like cooks and such. And there were families that just refused to leave, like my wife and daughter.
"There was this girl by the name of Camella that helped us get everyone out. She knew more secret passageways in and out of that place. She also had connections with dubious people, but they were more than willing to help us get those people to safety. In the last group we led out, we were attacked by a few of Seth's troops. Everyone scattered, trying to find safety. Jamas and I, plus the few guards under us fought to give them time.
"Just when we thought we had them beaten, the call went up that there were more on the way, more than we would be able to handle. We split up. I lost track of Jamas and of his family, wife Macey and son Pelim. I can only hope that they are safe.
"As for me, Jaynell and Kasi are with me here. We settled here a year or two after the invasion. It was rough going there for awhile, but we're okay. I have friends, most former guards or soldiers, some not, in several of the towns and villages around here. I guess you could say I have a network of communication up. It's useful at times."
Kell's interest was peaked. She leaned forward. "A network you say. That could be useful to me as well."
He raised an eyebrow. "You have an idea?"
She nodded distractedly, her eyes focusing inward on something he couldn't see. After a bit, her eyes swerved back to nail his. "I want to take back Rillanda."
His eyes opened wide. "Take it back? How?"
She shook her head, a small secret smile playing on her features. "I'm not sure yet, but I think we can do it. We need time, which we have, or so I've been told by some impeccable sources. Actually, I think the words were that the time has not yet arrived. That I was to prepare. So prepare is what I will do. You up to it?"
He nodded. "Most definitely."
She reached down and lifted a small leather saddlebag, setting it on the table. She dug around and pulled out a scrap of paper. As she unfolded it and laid it flat, Willim saw that it was a rough drawn map of Rillanda, the major cities marked, plus several towns and villages. He leaned forward to listen to her soft voice as she began to explain her ideas.
And so began the network of intelligence and communication that served Kell so well in future times. Because of all the moving she had done for the past several years, she was quite familiar with the area and knew which towns were safe and which were too dangerous to be in. She and Willim discussed places and names and ideas for preparation. Former soldiers and supporters of the crown would be sought out and put in charge of small groups in each town. Training for the eventual retaking of Brightstar would begin. Methods of getting messages back and forth were decided.
Before she left, Kellessan told Willim that she would be in Yana, at the Dragon's Rest inn and tavern until further notice. They decided to keep her identity a secret from Jaynell and Kasi for the time being. Safer for all concerned.
After promising to get in touch with him again after she was settled at Yana, Kell loaded up her new food supplies for both her and Tavi, then mounted and rode quickly and quietly out of town.
The next day a minstrel showed up in town. As he sat in the small tavern, eating a meal and resting, he heard talk of a swordswoman named Kellessan. Not knowing the name, he asked about it and was told the tale of how she nearly single-handedly dispatched a group of raiders. The stories he heard told of her riding a high-strung, thought-to-be-unrideable stallion she later named Tavindel, bareback, of her wielding a flaming broadsword, of how she seemingly appeared out of nowhere to save them and then disappeared later that day without even any fanfare, without telling anyone where she came from and where she was going.
The minstrel began to think and then began to write, a smile curling on his face. Kellessan, daughter of no one; Kellessan, protector of the innocent. Ah, Dorien, what a song this will make.
Patric was wiping down the bar counter after the lunch crowd had mostly left when the door of the Dragon's Rest tavern swung open. He looked up reflexively, seeing a shadowed figure come through the entranceway. He could make out a long dark cloak swirling around the person's ankles and what appeared to be a massive sword pommel over one shoulder.
He cleared his throat, hoping that whoever this was wasn't looking for trouble. "May I help you?"
The figure came to the counter and lowered the hood slowly, revealing a woman's face, a few blonde tendrils of hair escaping the tight braid she had it coiled into. She said quietly, "My name is Kellessan. I have heard that you have need of security for your tavern."
Patric just stared for a few moments. Kellessan? What happened to Kasi? I thought she went to get a sword, not a new name, a new identity. But if this is the way she wants to play it... He blinked away his shock, answering quietly. "Yes, actually, security would be a very nice thing to have. It is only myself and my wife and a few serving girls here."
Kell nodded, relief and thankfulness showing in her eyes for a few brief moments that he was playing along with her. "Well, then, I am offering my services to you in exchange for room and boarding for myself and for my horse, Tavindel."
No reaction crossed his face as he nodded in seeming understanding and acceptance. Horse? Tavindel? Where...? Wait, Tavindel. That's a stallion's name, and it means, what, something-'bred'? Tavi, Teva, Teva-bred?!? Where did she manage to find a Teva-bred stallion? Just where has she been?!? And what has she been doing?
Holding out his hand, he replied, his voice gratefully steady. "Sounds good. You have yourself a deal, Kellessan. My name is Patric."
Kell took the proffered hand and shook it once as he held her eyes for a moment. Kell then pulled away, hoping he understood that she must remain 'in character'. She was no longer his daughter, just hired help. He seemed to accept what she couldn't say as he nodded. His eyes were calm and settled as he said, "Let me get my wife and introduce the two of you."
Patric disappeared through the swinging door behind the bar into the kitchen. Kell looked around the front room, taking in the few remaining customers and the serving girls cleaning the tables. There was also a staircase going up to what she assumed was the second floor where various rooms were. Not bad, not bad at all. A barkeep and cook in a coastal town tavern of questionable repute. Well, the repute part will change now. No way Mother will allow anything remotely illegal or underhanded to go on here. In any case, they should be safe here.
She frowned for a moment. I have to remember to call them Patric and Meg. I only hope they can remember not to call me Kasi. It took me long enough to get used their newer names, much less my own. And here I go changing it on them again.
The door swung open and Kell pulled her attention back to her surroundings. Patric motioned toward Kell as he said, "Meg, this is Kellessan. I've hired her to be the security for the tavern."
Meg turned to her, replying softly. "Are you sure we need...? Oh ... my." Meg's voice faltered for a few seconds as she stared at Kell before regaining her usual smooth manner. "Hello, Kellessan, it is good to meet you. My name is Meg."
She extended her hand and Kell took it firmly, shaking it, but letting it remain a moment longer than was strictly necessary, knowing her mother needs the contact. She smiled softly. "It is good to meet you as well, Meg. And please, you can call me Kell."
The moment of softness and familial feeling passed, and Kell withdrew her hand slowly. She was all business again. "Well, I need to get my horse stabled and find a place for my things."
Patric nodded. "Yes, the stable is out back, as I'm sure you noticed. As for a room, there are some either upstairs or there is one, though somewhat smaller, down here, off the kitchen. You can take your pick."
Kell replied, "Downstairs is better. I'll be back momentarily." With a swirl of her long blue-black cloak, she was gone. Patric and Meg watched her go, then looked at each other for a second before separating to go back to their duties. Both knew that they had finally lost 'Linet' to time. Now, she was Kellessan, a swordswoman, a person of legend and of prophecy, no longer their daughter, no longer anyone's daughter.
She was only Kellessan.
And so, Kasi became Kellessan, and a legend was born.
Kellessan's past is still much of a mystery to us and most likely will always be. No one really knows a lot about Kasi. We know that her father was a very skilled swordsmen in Randal's guard at Brightstar, but his name has been lost.
We know that a few years after the invasion of the palace that she was found and taken in by Stefan and Raven, who were at that time known as Patric and Meg. The details of what happened to her between the invasion and then is unknown.
We know that she became a solace for Stefan and Raven when Linet vanished during a surprise attack on the village of Getha where they had been living four years after the invasion.
And we know that she developed some amazing and powerfully strong mage abilities, with which, as Kellessan, she defeated Norseth, reclaimed Rillanda, and discovered and identified Linet in the palace servant quarters, alive and well.
But that is all we know. The rest remains shrouded in myths and half-truths, perhaps as all good legends should.
"So when do we tell them who Kellessan really was?"
"Later. Come to bed, minstrel. I miss you stealing the blankets."
Chuckling. "I'll remember that the next time you threaten to use that sword of yours on me."
Mock growls. "Just get over here and kiss me. You were gone way too long on this trip and I missed you."
"I missed you, too, Linet, I missed you too."
- The End -
Prophecy Story Index