Prophecy Story Index
"Oh, please, another story, please, Father."
The man chuckled softly. "Another story. And what kind of story would you like to hear, my children?"
The voices overran each other as the three children vied for what was to be told. The man laughed harder, raising his hands in mock defeat. "Now, now, please, quiet down." He waited until the children had settled back into their beds, then he smiled at them, his dark eyes twinkling, catching the eyes of his wife as she sat on the edge of the bed belonging to their youngest child. "I think I can answer all your requests with one story. Would that be satisfactory?"
Three heads nodded. The man took a breath, closed his eyes, and began.
And so it came to pass at the end of the Land Wars, that Elhanan, chief of Clan Bornat, strongest of all clans, rose to power as king of all clans. By his hand the warring and divided clans became united in strength and formed One Clan. To form One Clan, he joined Clan Bornat with Clan Thia, the second strongest clan, the one he knew he could not defeat and still have a people left to rule. The time for fighting has passed. It was time for the killing to stop, for the death to stop. It was time for the people of The Land to flourish for a time, to grow, to expand, to multiply. It was a time for peace.
Daelyn, the leader of Clan Thia was a woman of great strength, both in body and mind. Young and headstrong, said to be only in her late twenties, but a powerful leader to her clan, to her people. It was to she that Elhanan sent his offer of marriage that their clans would be joined to form One Clan. She received his offer with graciousness, promising to think it over ....
"He wants me to what?!"
Daelyn's strident voice roared past the ears of the guards to her tent. They flinched, but didn't move from their posts. Not even to glance at each other in wonderment at what the message from Elhanan had said to have caused their leader to shout in such incredulous anger.
A short bark of laughter followed the yell. "He must be out of his mind! To even suggest such a thing is ludicrous! Our two clans could never survive together. We would never survive each other."
Another voice spoke, rising only enough to be heard over Daelyn's. "What do you wish to send back as a message?"
Silence reigned for several long moments, then Daelyn spoke again, her richly and darkly accented voice softer this time. The guards found themselves unconsciously leaning toward the opening of the tent, wanting to know what she would say. "Tell him that it is a generous offer and that I will ... consider it. He will have my answer by two sunsets."
"Consider? You will consider it?"
"Yes, Iain, I will consider it. Polite diplomacy is always better than outright refusal. When I send my answer, I will have another suggestion instead of what he proposes." She paused and snorted, muttering under her breath. "Marriage indeed. There must be another way, a better way."
"And if there isn't, Daelyn? What then? What will your answer be then?"
Chilled silence was the only reply. The guards snapped to immediate attention as the tent flap was thrown back and a woman stormed out. They caught only a flash of her dark brown hair and red cloak as she strode past them, heading quickly through the tents and disappearing up past the ridge of trees to the cliff that overlooked the Sea of Drynan.
Another figure exited the tent -- an older, stockily-built and heavily-muscled man. He ran a hand over his short-cropped brown hair and stared at the copse of trees for several moments before turning to the guard on his left. "Find Elhanan's messenger. Bring him here."
"Yes, weaponsmaster." The guard took off quickly. Iain paused another moment, then grabbed the edge of his dark grey cloak as he turned and reentered the tent. The remaining guard heard him mutter softly. "I hope you know what you're doing, Daelyn, for all our sakes."
Frowning slightly, Daelyn stood perfectly still on the cliff overlooking the sea, arms crossed tightly over her chest. Long, thick, dark brown curls streamed away from her face as the waves rushed up the side of the steep hill, spraying her with fine mist and foam. A dark red fur-edged cloak swirled at her ankles, then ruffled back with the winds, revealing equally dark red fitted trousers tucked into knee-length black riding boots and a sleeveless short tan tunic which exposed her midriff to the brisk sea air.
The wind shifted, blowing hair across her face, but she didn't move. The wind changed direction again, freeing her vision and revealing a narrow gold circlet resting on her head, a dark red ruby at the juncture where it dipped to a point glinting in the muted light. Her cloak snapped out behind her, exposing additional jewelry on her arms -- a gold band on each upper arm -- each decorated with elaborate patterns. Daggers at her waist were decorated with the same patterns, as was the light sword pommel that rose over one shoulder.
Her light brown eyes remained fixed on the waves as they rolled in to crash against the rocks below. Except for the subtle and nearly unnoticeable rising and falling of her chest, she could have been a living statue, both beautiful and forbidding, set there to guard the cliffs against invading forces, single-handed, if necessary.
Behind her still features, a battle of a different kind of was raging. Calmer now, she debated with herself.
What am I going to do? Is the decision to say 'no' the correct one? Should I do as Elhanan proposes?
She frowned in mild distaste. He is an old man. As old as Iain. What can he possibly offer me?
An end to this war. An end to the deaths.
Daelyn shifted slightly, raising her face to the sky, closing her eyes, wishing not for the first time that her mother hadn't died so many years ago on the battlefield. She had only been 17 then and had to take over so soon, so quickly, before she had really been ready. They had lost a lot of lives and a lot of land in the following years as she had struggled to fill her mother's shoes. But she had grown strong. Stronger than her mother ever had been. Her people were loyal and trustworthy. They supported her and fought for her and with her. She had earned every bit of their trust and loyalty through endless work and effort.
And to give it all up now. To marry a man I've never met, an old man, to simply give him everything I've done. I've never seen him fight. How do I know he will protect my clan as he protects his? How can I trust him?
The wind whistled through her ears, singing to her, bringing with it peace and rest. And her answer.
She slowly opened her eyes and stared out at the choppy waters. But what if it's the only way? The only way to stop these wars? The only way to let us live, to give us a chance at life?
Daelyn straightened and nodded to herself. Then I must truly consider his offer. And for that I must meet with him. I must see him. I must know him.
Iain's voice spoke up behind her. "My lady?"
She didn't turn, only called back, still staring into the churning water. "Up here, Iain."
Iain appeared over from the trees and walked over to stand just slightly behind her, his silent presence guarding her and supporting her as he had done since she could remember.
She shifted finally, pivoting to face him. As if following her unspoken command, the wind shifted with her, still blowing her cloak and hair back in billows. She said, her words a little sharp, "He is right. There is no other way. However I must meet him first. I have to know I can trust him. But in the end, I would say that I have no other choice. That I must do as he has suggested."
Iain seemed unsure, her attitude so different from earlier. "My lady ..." He placed a hand on her shoulder. "Daelyn, are you sure? Are you sure this is what you should do, what you need to do?"
Daelyn smiled slightly. "Yes, I am, old friend. Very sure." She raised the opposite hand and laid it over Iain's hand on her shoulder. "Eventually, I will have to agree to Elhanan's proposal." A frown creased her brown as her eyes looked inward. "The fighting must stop, the dying must end. It has gone on long enough. And if Elhanan's way is the only way, then I will do it. For my people. For my clan."
Iain stared at her for another moment, then gripped her shoulder once tightly before withdrawing his hand. "Then so be it, my lady. Shall I send a messenger?"
Daelyn straightened further, if possible, shaking her head once in negation. "No, we will go to him personally. Please accompany me, weaponsmaster."
Falling back into the proper, respectful address, Iain inclined his head in response, gesturing for her to lead. "My lady."
.... and Elhanan awaited Daelyn's answer, as her response would be either the beginning of peace and the end to war or the beginning of more war and the end of his dream of peace for The Land ....
Elhanan stood at the roughly-hewn stone-edged window opening, his hands clasped behind him, back straight. He stared out at the plains surrounding his stronghold, the only of its kind in all The Land. All other clans lived in tents, quickly movable since many never lived in one spot more than a few months, maybe a half a year, before the balance of power would change, driving them from their homes. Elhanan's clan, the Bornat Clan, was too strong, too powerful, to be driven from its spot. His grandfather had fought hard to claim this territory. His father had built the stronghold and ruthlessly drove off would-be invaders. When Elhanan's turn came to rule, he expanded his territories slowly, taking smaller clans under his protection, convincing them that it was safer that way. If they refused, so be it and there were battles fought, lives lost.
With a sigh, Elhanan shook his head in regret. So many lives lost. He was raised to be a warrior, a ruthless warrior, which he could be when needed. But he knew from listening to his advisors, from the common folk who wanted nothing more than to live in peace, that the wars had to end soon, that too many were dying, too many were lost to anger and hatred and endless war.
Below him, on the plains, were tents full of his people, soldiers and common folk alike. A few ridges over were small fields of food, guarded continually by a regiment of soldiers while farmers tilled and planted and grew crops. In the distance, he could see the walls that he and his father had built over ten years ago, walls to impede and slow down invaders. Walls that meant safety for the people he was responsible for.
But if Daelyn cannot see that I want peace, that I need her to agree to my proposal to get that peace, then the walls do not mean anything. The Land is in ruins, there is no trust, no loyalty, no life. We are dying. Everything is dying. We must have unity to grow, a united strength. The peace must begin somewhere. And it must be with us -- the two strongest clans. Then the other clans will see, will understand. Even if we have to convince them by force, then, regretfully, we will do so. I will have peace in my land. I will have life again. We must.
Elhanan turned at the familiar voice, relaxing his stance. He smiled and gestured the young woman forward from the shadows of the doorway. As the woman neared him, the afternoon sun streaming through the window hit her and her long jet-black hair gleamed in the light. She stepped up to his side and glanced out the window, then up at him. "What has disturbed you this day, my lord?"
Elhanan gestured toward the plains. "Nothing that doesn't disturb me every day, Breawn. Just remembering my responsibilities, my obligations."
Breawn's black eyes were unreadable, as always, but her voice was soft and understanding. "You take on much, my lord, much more than would be expected for one such as yourself." She paused a moment, then continued. "Do you still believe that your proposal to Daelyn is the only solution?"
Breawn smiled slightly. "It is not what I believe that will bespeak the future, my lord. The future is created each day by the actions we take. Your actions have caused great changes in what could have been and what might be. Again I ask, what do you believe?"
Elhanan chuckled. "Can't give me a straight answer, can you, Breawn? Ever the seeress."
"That is my calling, my lord."
He looked back out the window. "What do I believe? I believe that uniting the two strongest clans will be a show of strength to the other clans, that hopefully they will stop long enough to listen, to think, to realize that we are destroying ourselves, that we have to begin the changes now before there is no land left for our children, or before we have no children at all." He straightened slightly. "This was not a decision I made lightly or quickly, Breawn, you know that. My father, when he was very old, began to realize what was happening. But for him, it was too late. He left it up to me to try to save us from ourselves. I had never wanted to wait this long, but I had to. I had to wait until I was powerful enough, strong enough, to make such an offer. And I had to wait until one other clan rose to enough power that I could make the offer in equality."
"And you consider Daelyn to be this equal."
"Yes, I do. I know she's young, younger than myself by many years. But she is strong. Her people are fiercely devoted to her. She understands the meaning of loyalty, of trust, that much I've heard. I told her in my message that our people need leaders, that they need strength, that the wars must end, that we must live. I can only hope she understood and listened to the words."
"Your words are strong and true, my lord. They speak for themselves. They will be heard."
Elhanan looked down at the petite young woman, his seeress and one of his closest, though most mysterious and youngest, advisors. "Are you saying that she will say yes? That she will agree?"
In answer, Breawn lifted one delicate hand and pointed out the window, toward the distant walls. "There is your answer, my lord. Your future, our future, arrives."
He turned back and looked down the long roads that lead away from his territories. Soldiers were lining the road, alarms were sent up, tents were collapsed and moved away, people scuttled into the safety of the smaller rock strongholds.
And then just rising over the ridge came several horses and riders. The rider in front carried two flags. One had the symbol of Clan Thia on it.
The other was a flag of peace -- a white flag.
.... Daelyn traveled to the great stronghold of Elhanan for she wanted to honor him properly by delivering her answer to him personally. For she too understood the danger of their times, of the warfare and death that was devouring their land and their people ....
Daelyn dismounted her horse gracefully, sweeping down to land solidly on her feet. She paused, one hand on the saddle of her horse as she looked up at the stronghold of Elhanan, leader of Clan Bornat. She had never seen it, but had heard tales of its greatness, its immenseness. And they were all correct. It's massive! It must be impenetrable. I could go in and never come out again. And not one of my people could force their way in to find me. She gripped a saddle strap hard, swallowing, realizing that she was about to take a huge risk, one she might regret. Closing her eyes, she inhaled deeply, then let out her breath in slow measures, settling her nerves. It must be. I have no choice. It must end. And it must end now. There is no time left for more war.
Opening her eyes again, Daelyn pulled herself perfectly straight and stepped away from the horse, nodding at one of her soldiers to take charge of it. Only she and Iain would be entering the stronghold. The rest would remain outside. An honor guard stood at the lowered drawbridge. She exchanged a quick look with the older man, then began to walk toward the bridge, Iain following behind and to the right of her. She held her head high, focusing solely on the stronghold's entrance. Her red cloak swirled and snapped around her ankles, and the sunlight caught on her gold arm bands and head circlet.
At the entrance, she stopped, lifting her chin a little more as the captain of Elhanan's guard stepped forward, raising one hand and holding it outward, palm facing her. "Who comes to the stronghold of Elhanan, leader of Clan Bornat?"
"Daelyn, leader of Clan Thia. I bring a message to your lord."
The captain and the honor guard snapped to further attention, saluting her with a fist on his chest. "Welcome, Daelyn, leader of Clan Thia. Elhanan is awaiting you. Follow me."
Daelyn inclined her head and the captain turned, striding away. She and Iain fell into step behind him, hearing the honor guard come in behind them, their marching footsteps in perfect rhythm. As they walked, she glanced around the stone hallways. Not much for beauty, just utility and strength. A lot of strength. Feels cold. And lonely. She shivered once, catching a slightly raised eyebrow from Iain as he strode up next to her. She shook her head once at his unasked question, smiling to reassure him.
Finally the captain stopped before a set of huge double doors. He gestured to the guards on either side to open the doors and step aside. One took a quick look at Daelyn and Iain, noting their swords and daggers. He frowned. "They are armed, captain."
The captain nodded once. "Yes, as Elhanan has permitted. They are to appear before him as equals, not as supplicants. Open the doors."
Daelyn and Iain looked at each other quickly, both a little surprised. Daelyn shook off her surprise as the doors opened with a softly muffled groan. The captain gestured for them to enter. "My lady, you are to enter. Your man may attend you as well." He slapped his fist on his chest again, snapping to attention. "Peace to you both."
She glanced through the doors to the large stone-walled room where she could see a small dais, upon which was placed a throne, really no more than a glorified chair. In the chair sat an older man. At his side stood a young woman. She looked back at the captain and nodded at him. "Peace to you as well, Captain. And thank you."
He inclined his head in acknowledgment. "It is my honor to serve."
She looked back to the throne room and then, taking a deep breath, Daelyn entered, feeling Iain walking behind her, guarding her back, as always.
Those small distance between the doors and the barely raised dais seemed to stretch forever. She heard the doors close behind her with a small echoing thud. Her heart skipped beat. No turning back now, Daelyn. The time for truth has come. The throne was almost in front of her now. She could pick out the small elaborate patterns in the tapestries hanging behind the throne itself. The other walls were also covered with tapestries, but only those in front of her had her attention now. She couldn't look away. There would be other times for closer examination. That much she knew and accepted.
Coming to a halt before the throne, she took quick stock of the man in the chair as he rose to greet her. Tall, muscled, good health it appeared, longish dark curly hair that was greying at the temples swept back from high cheekbones. And his eyes -- piercing blue -- eyes that could light up a room, that could look straight into a person's soul. He wore a heavy dark blue cloak over plain brown trousers and a long off-white tunic belted at the waist with a black belt. She knew immediately that he was a proud man, a good man, a trustworthy man.
Her eyes switched over to the young woman, younger than herself, barely out of adolescence by the look of it, maybe only a late teenager. A shiver went down her spine as those bottomless black eyes caught and held hers. Long black hair fell loose around her shoulders and down her back. She wore a short-sleeved, long green shift of a very dark shade, nearly black in its intensity. A dark blue cloak was thrown over it as well, but pushed back onto her shoulders, leaving her arms bare and loose at her sides.
Elhanan spoke, drawing her attention back to him. "Welcome to my stronghold, Daelyn, leader of Clan Thia."
Daelyn inclined her head briefly. If he said she was to be an equal, then equal she would be. "Thank you, Elhanan, leader of Clan Bornat. Your stronghold and your lands are to be praised, as are you for the good and tender care you give them."
He smiled suddenly, a smile which lit up his face and eyes, she noticed. He spoke again, a softer edge to his voice, some pride mixed with reverence. "Your words are kind, my lady Daelyn." He hesitated, then asked, "You come with an answer to my proposal, my lady?"
She was quiet for a moment, then she nodded. "Yes. The answer is yes."
.... As Elhanan welcomed Daelyn with respect and honor into his lands, she gave him the answer he had sought. She agreed to marry him for the benefit of both their people, for all the people of The Land. And so to complete the unification, Elhanan married Daelyn, chief of the Clan Thia, second strongest of all clans ....
After Daelyn's agreement, the ceremony itself almost seemed unimportant. All that Elhanan wanted was for the wars to end and for the clans to come together in peace. Nearly all his people wanted peace, had heard Elhanan speak of its benefits and joys too often for them not to want it. He and Daelyn tried to spend as much time together as they could in the week between Daelyn's arrival and the official joining ceremony, getting to know each other. Neither was sure if love would ever blossom between them, but they quickly developed a mutual respect for each other.
At the same time, Breawn approached Iain about a symbol for the new union, to show its solidity and strength. Together they began to secretly fashion a sword of only the highest quality metals and workmanship. It was to be a sword of peace, to be hung behind the royal thrones to show that war was at an end. Two rubies would be placed in the hilt to represent the blood shed and the lives lost during the many years of war in the hope that never again would such anger, hatred, and loss of reason take hold of their land and their people. It would be two months before the sword was ready to be presented to the new leaders of One Clan, but the time was necessary for proper preparation.
As Iain designed and crafted the sword, Breawn finally began to see the images of her first vision, given to her at age 8, take shape. In that vision, she had seen two great clans come together as one. She had seen peace overtake war. And she had seen this sword which would live through time, passed down through generations upon generations, until it was bestowed upon its destined bearer and warrior, a descendent of Elhanan and Daelyn.
And then the joining ceremony was upon them. It took place on the hills behind the stronghold, in front of all the people of the Bornat and Thia clans. Elhanan was dressed in deep blues, Daelyn in dark, rich reds. To perform the ceremony itself was a woman of mystery, someone Breawn introduced as Cyrenia. She was of an indeterminate age, white hair and young face, clear, nearly pale eyes and a firm voice. No one except Breawn knew from whence she came or even exactly who she was. They knew only that Breawn insisted that Cyrenia perform the ceremony, that it was only proper, that it was part of the unwritten script of the past, present, and future, of their whole lives.
Elhanan stood facing his future wife, watching as the breeze lifted loose tendrils of hair and blew them gently across her cheeks. He couldn't help but think how lovely she was, even considering her spitfire and stubborn personality. He knew that together they could bring peace to their broken land.
Daelyn stared at Elhanan, wondering what thoughts were going on behind his slight, nearly invisible smile. She could see the smile tugging at one corner of his lips and dancing in the light of his eyes. He was a good man. A man worthy of her trust, her loyalty. Maybe someday even her love.
Cyrenia reached out and took a hand of each of them, holding each in the air. In a clear voice, she began to speak.
"This day we come together to join two powerful clans together to become One Clan. We join Elhanan of the Bornat Clan to Daelyn of the Thia Clan. Together they will rule over One Clan, Bornathia. Together they wish to bring peace to our land, to our lives." She lifted her voice, raising it to echo all over the hills and plains. "What say you, people of One Clan, do you wish this? Do you wish for these two to lead you?"
The resounding "yes" thundered over them. Daelyn smiled and Elhanan chuckled at the response.
Cyrenia then joined their hands together. "So be it. Now and forever."
Down the hill a bit, Breawn smiled and her eyes shifted for a moment, looking beyond everything to see peace in the future because this action today. The future was being re-written. Wars would end for a time. Long enough to live and rebuild.
Cheers rolled through the crowds of people. But Elhanan and Daelyn ignored it, seemingly caught up in each other's lives. Cyrenia still held their hands in hers, folding theirs together tightly. She spoke again, this time her voice was for their ears only.
"While you may not know love now, Elhanan, Daelyn, love will seek you out. Of that be sure. Peace has come at long last to this land because of your willingness to join with someone you had never met. Love will not forget that. And you should not forget about love." She released their hands and reached into a pocket of her loose cloak and withdrew a single long-stemmed deep, dark red rose. Turning over their hands, she threaded the stem between their clasped fingers. The lone thorn came to rest atop their skin. Tiny dewdrops still clung to the petals of the rose.
Daelyn gasped, touching it lightly with the other hand. "A rose! I haven't seen a rose since I was a child. I thought they were all gone. Where did you get it?"
Cyrenia only smiled, shaking her head. "While there is yet love, there is life, Daelyn. Always know that." She placed her hands back on theirs, folding them together more firmly, drawing up their hands as well to place around the rose. She looked from one to the other, and began to whisper. "So let your songs of love be as this rose, beauty and strength, peace and joy, guarded and free; for so as you sing, so shall ye be sung; as you speak, so shall ye be spoken of; as ye love, so shall ye be loved. Let the rose of truth guide you; let the rose of love protect you; let the rose of life embrace you; and let the songs of the rose be as a torch in the midst of darkness by which you may truly see."
Elhanan raised a hand and touched Daelyn's face with a few fingertips. "Daelyn, my queen, my wife."
"Elhanan, my king, my husband."
Neither noticed Cyrenia slipping away as they looked into each other's eyes and began to smile as love spread her gentle wings around them and drew them together in a soft kiss.
.... Together they would rule One Clan, passing down the mantle of authority to their children and to their children and to their children for two hundred years before the Wars of Power began and Bornathia faltered.
"But that is another story for another time, children. Time for bed now."
The three children acquiesced amidst yawns and widely blinking eyes as they finally gave in to the call of sleep. The storyteller and his wife tucked all three into bed, kissing each softly before tiptoeing out of the room. Outside the gently closed doors, the wife grinned up at her husband. "And just who was that story for?"
He smiled down at her and kissed her quickly. "It was for you, my rose, for you."
- The End -
Prophecy Story Index