POWERFUL - Tome 1: The Realm of Harcilor

By S. N. Lemoing

Fantasy, Action & adventure, Environment & nature

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12 mins

The Tent

Relan, year 12

In that early spring, thick gray clouds covered the sky, letting fine frosty raindrops fall down. The wide alleys were empty. Two Guardians passed along the rampart, their boots sinking into the mud.
They had to wear a mark above the eyebrows: a long and thin dark blue line crossing their forehead. Thereby, it was simple to distinguish them from the people. They also wore long dark capes. These Guardians were striding along the stone wall extensively heightened since the new King Relan had usurped the power.
The realm of Harcilor was located at the north of the continent whilst the south was only constituted of desert plains. The eastern part of this land was separated by the Karilii sea and bound at the south by a chain of lively active burning mountains. The harcilans lived isolated as there were not many of them.
In Hierum, the capital, people principally resided in cabins and tents protected by the defensive wall. However, humidity and cold were piercing outside as much as inside habitations.
At several measures from the castle could be found an alley where the biggest tents had subsisted, more or less intact. They belonged to the Guardians of the late King Geldir. All of them roughly showed the same colours: brown, auburn and charcoal grey, whose partition walls were strengthened with wood. The new Guardians, for their part, had settled at the place of the castle gardens to get closer to Relan.

In front of one of these tents, a fawn-coloured one, was standing a young man. Kaaz was twenty-four years old but seemed older with his tired features, pale complexion and purplish lips. He was tall, had long dark hair reaching his lower back and clear blue eyes that seemed nearly white by this weather. Sadness and anger displayed upon his face. He was wearing a long black cape as well.
He was part of the Silarens, the humans who possessed magic powers. The ones who did not have the birth advantage to dispose of any of them were called the Iesilarens.
These unfamiliar words came from the first spoken language on the mainland, the Tystena: ''silar'' meant ''power'', and the prefix ''ie'' indicated the negation. The Silarens could feel each other by perceiving the magical energy from one another.
Kaaz was watching around the tent. Nobody should discover what was happening, the Guardians first. If they were coming to know or suspect the inner activities all the persons present would be sentenced to death.
From time to time, the Guardians went away from the castle to investigate the neighbourhood, which disquieted Kaaz. Sometimes, they had already passed in front of the tent and gotten inside to search it.
Careful, he had been on the lookout for days when no one was inside, in order to deceive them and leave them unsatisfied. They had somewhat lost interest in this case as there were no suspicious movements.

Today, the Guardians had decided to pass in the way again. Kaaz felt a little nervous but hid it so well nowadays. He noticed the two men turning in the path from afar. He removed his glove and put his right hand behind his back while facing them.
He used his Dissimulation power: an invisible magical energy spreading itself around the canvas shelter like a shield. This force could prevent the Silarens from feeling the magic hidden inside the unearthly shell, willing to hide host and guests of the tent. He kept this thin layer of energy as the two men were passing by and observing him.
Kaaz quickly bowed to them, and in return they made a discreet head gesture knowing him rather well now. At least, that's what they thought.
They continued on their way, seeing and feeling nothing that could put them on alert. It was one of the two powers inherited from his mother, a very rare and envied capacity.
Kaaz was still maintaining his shield for a moment, the safest was to wait for the Guardians to be far enough. To define at which distance the magic energy could be felt or not by someone else was a difficult task. It all depended of the intensity of one's own powers and others'. Yet, these two Guardians were not that powerful. Moreover, they possessed only one ability each: Mobility for one, and Inflammation for the other, widely spread powers.
The two men far away, Kaaz stopped emitting his Dissimulation. Apparently, no one else was expected. The guests knew that if they did not see him at the entrance they had to go back home. He lifted the first curtain of the tent, then the second one, thicker and heavier, to get inside.
Were standing there a dozen of children and young adults sitting on the ground on woven fabrics, as for some parents. The whistling of the wind and the abrupt fall of the rain ran all over the roof of the canvas. In spite of these uncomfortable conditions the invited were facing vacant table and stool. They were clearly waiting for someone.
Cil, a copper-coloured skin and dark-haired little boy, approached Kaaz.
'When I'll be older, I want to be as powerful as you!' he claimed.
Kaaz smiled, which was rather unusual from him. With his right hand, he tousled the boy's hair.
'I hope you will.'
The man they were all waiting for got out of the bottom room and put his manuscripts on the table. Cil took back his place among the other children.
This man's name was Cyr Belgran. He was in his fifties and of ebony complexion. White hair and beard wrapped his face and the rust colour of his eyes brought even more sweetness to his friendly appearance. He was standing in front of his pupils, unrolling a map world drawn by his care and hung it up.
From memory, he transcribed what he read in various books before they were all burnt by the new Chief of the Guardians.
'Good morning everyone. Today, we will study our world and kingdom geographies. Going back to the last lesson, it is important to know where we come from, to know our environment. You should make use of what surrounds you, you are only visiting but Nature has been here for a very long time and will linger. No matter the past, present or future kings and queens. No matter the people. Nature created us and amiable beings to live with, and gave us the right to live. Each day, it grants us what to eat, what to build for shelter, what to dress and what to take care of ourselves.'
The master threw a handful of powder, a mixture of dried star jelly and panther caps. Then, he recited a spell in an ancient language:
'Utena beris.'
The powder held in suspension. Appeared images: opening primroses of all colours, white, yellow, purple and mulberry; a peaceable creek winding between banks covered of first snow; and finally, a sunrise gleaming over the vast plains of east. Children and parents were filled with wonder.
With the help of a stick, Cyr dispersed this magic screen. He was Iesilaren and practiced material magic. A less mighty magic yet it had other advantages.
'It grants us its help and its beauties. It is ours to behave as we should towards its splendour and its creatures, including ourselves, humans. We had a King who respected us, as you know, he was unseated some years ago ...'
In the room, everyone was listening with attention. Cyr surely was one of the wisest men in the capital, in Harcilor even.
'Henceforth, we are bound by another King and his son, Chief of the Guardians. In addition to that, we have to confront a disloyal Guard. All of them being thirsting after wealth and subjection. We should never forget what our kingdom used to be for generations: a fair and free land.'
The children's and parents' eyes were shining, both with remembrance of this past secretly kept and with admiration for this strong-willed man.

* * *

Inside the castle, an excursion was being prepared. The servants were loading chestnut wooden trunks and wrought iron caskets with provisions, linens or immaculate white clothes stitched of royal blue borders. All of the garments proudly carried the Dois emblem embroidered in gold thread: a giant oak and a crown on its top, because as simple as this, 'dois' meant 'oak' in Tystena.
'Ridiculous,' thought the tailors, 'a tree wearing a crown'. But if they wished to leave this world dying a natural death, never they should give their advice loudly.
The servants were bustling about in the cold and humid cellars, then took back the last luggages up at the ground floor.
Litar had to leave with a procession, searching for a rare plant whose existence had been whispered. It was said to enhance powers and the young man was admitted as the most powerful being of the realm. That is how father and son had managed to pull down the King and his Guardians. Nobody was up to overcome the Dois son.

In his luxurious bedchamber, Litar was taking his bath. Fire was crackling in the large fireplace. The steams of soapwort and camomile filled the room of their fragrance. The young man did not want any servant to help him, he could not bear their presence nor their indiscreet glimpses. He could handle these customs alone. The domestics made the bath and then had to go out and devote themselves to other duties.
He was observing the room that had been assigned to him: a large canopy bed made of raw linen drapes on which we could discern geometrical ornaments and sapphire-tincted florals; the three five-branched bronze candlesticks and their vegetable wax bougies; as well as a comfortable mahogany bench, topped with an azure velvet cushion, leant against the wall and under the window. The transparent panes were contoured by stained glasses, as for all the castle windows. Some red and green rays of light were falling on the fabric of the bank and reflected on the ground. Compared to his former home, this room seemed like an enchanted castle in itself.
Litar got out of the suds and made his way to the folding screen, there he took the towel hanging on it and wiped himself. This solitary life felt quite unpleasant, but his father was finally proud of him.
The voyage should last two lunar cycles. His mission consisted in traveling across all of the realm to try and find these precious roots helped by scholars, called Utelyns in ancient language. He put on his shirt, a white tunic above it, breeches and leggings he knotted, and lastly, his cornflower-bordered alabaster doublet to resist to cold. He seized his long white cape spread out on the bed and put it on, and shod his boots. Adding a thin chainmail on his chest and iron arm bracers as a protection.
At the age of twenty-seven, with his well-sculpted body, deep blue eyes, curly chestnut hair and short beard, without noticing it, he was stirring hearts of the female and some male Guardians, servants, and even of some Utelyns.

* * *

Inside Cyr's tent, the lesson was running its course. By the end of a stick, he was presenting this unknown world to the new generations.
'The ground represents the minor part of our world. The seas expend to the infinite. There is also an island whose existence is known but we are still ignorant of what can be found there.'
He pointed at a small land localised at the south of the map, remote from the three existing subcontinents.
'We live on the Umpar continent, which means ''center of the world'' in our ancient language. Yes, our ancestors were quite modest.'
Laughter discreetly spread through the tent.
'We are umparits. Our kingdom, Harcilor, has not changed much for two centuries. It extends over the entire north west part to the high volcanic mountain barrier of Granica.'
Suddenly, the rain fell more briskly. A dull sound roamed on the roof.
Cyr had to raise his voice to be heard. He was shifting while reciting his knowledge, children and parents could only be fascinated. The youngest children, between five and ten, were sitting at the first rows, and behind them were the young adults.
Loya, a seven-year-old girl with amber complexion and blazing red hair, raised her hand.
'Master, what do we find in the other kingdoms?'
'We will talk about that next time. Let us say our kingdom is the only one where power has been taken by force. Those of the east and south tried to help us but lost many combatants. They finally had to give up.'
Cyr put the chart of the world away and unfolded another map representing the realm of Harcilor.

* * *

At the castle, the escort was ready to leave. Litar descended the majestic beige marble stairs and sat down in the largest coach to which six tall white stallions were harnessed. The four other vehicles were provided with four dark horses each.
A servant named Nella came forward and offered him a flower, a violet, to share her affection. Surprised, he stared at the young woman, and the latter seemed so ugly to him that he did not know what to answer. He grabbed the violet, having no care for the etiquette as usual.
It was his mother's favorite flower. He spun it between his fingers, absorbed in his thoughts. He had not seen one for a long time. Outings outside the capital were scarce, and all of the castle gardens had been covered by dwellings on his father's order.
'Never do this again, this is improper. My father could have had you hanged.'
'I know it Chief, you're the only one I would have given this,' replied she, lowering her eyes.
'Do not do this again.'
She returned to her place, acquiescing, then took back an appropriate bearing.
Litar snapped his fingers and the coach persons commanded the procession to move forward. The five broad carriages covered with gold leaf could not pass unnoticed although they did not risk any assault. One must have been a real fool to intervene against Litar.
The cortege crossed the capital in front of the bystanders who were casting sidelong glances at these court people, hiding their hatred deep inside. They cursed them though they could not do any thing to stop them.
They were setting out for the north: a Utelyn had read in the soil that the magical plant could grow in cold regions.

* * *

At the southern gate of the city could be found a small pine forest named Suolistaa. The misty air made it the ideal place to conceal.
An obscure silhouette was moving about. A long dark cape, head down and a large hood casting a shadow all over its face: it was difficult to tell if it was a man or a woman. The figure was walking with a hurried and firm step. Its thick strengthened boots could resist water and mud. The puddles burst at each of its steps.
Nothing more was needed to attract two Guardians' attention, a man and a woman, who were patrolling at the edge of the woods. They were rushing towards this trespasser who, they thought, might want to defy the order for few seconds of attention.
'Stop right there!' ordered the male one.
The silhouette stopped, annoyed.
'Turn around!' summoned the female one.
The figure turned around but not to execute this directive: it raised its gloved left hand in front of the two Guardians and ejected them at several measures. This violent impulse caused them to lose consciousness. They banged, passed out, on some tree trunks and remained motionless on the ground.
The mysterious silhouette decided to be more discreet. Its purpose was obviously to enter Hierum though it did not think the Guardians had noticed its progression. One of them surely had an increased sight. It used its Invisibility power from now on thus the surroundings became entirely grey again.
The invisible figure reached Cyr's tent, lifted the first curtain and took the opportunity of the in-between to make itself visible again. It raised the second fabric and penetrated the spacious room.
Kaaz, who was leaning back against the wall close to the entry, glanced at the intruder and felt a sense of anguish.
Cyr broke off, and all eyes turned to the outlander.
From its large hood, only few locks of light chestnut hair with glints of gold were hanging down. It brought its capuchin down, revealing its face. It was a really curious young woman.
'Please continue,' she told Cyr.
The master was taken by surprise. Who was this young woman he had never seen before? Yet, she did not seem threatening at all: if Relan had discovered the secret of the tent, he would have rather had his son to intervene. He continued his lesson as previously requested.
'Who's the woman?' whispered Loya, turning to Ty.
'I have no idea,' answered the intrigued boy.
Ty was a fifteen years old boy slender as a wood stick and his dishevelled blond hair made him look like a bad scarecrow. He was passionate about Cyr's teaching and admired him. He had always tried to detect his powers since his childhood, dreaming of possessing a few. Nevertheless, he had not found any yet.
Sometimes, he thought he might abandon, that he probably had inherited nothing from his ancestors. And, from time to time, he would try again: after all, if he had been doing it wrong, or if the power was arduous to discover, it was well comprehensible that it would take such a time.
The rain gradually subsided and the deafening noise gave way to an harmonious lapping. Cyr paused almost at the same moment, rummaging through his personal belongings, then resumed his speech.
'Our calendar has been conceived in such a manner that we use the King's name to situate our epoch, followed by the number of years of their reign. Thus, we are in the twelfth year under Relan's royalty. It has been twelve years since he took the throne. The last king's name was Geldir, his reign ended after forty-eight years, and the Queen before him, his aunt, was named Akelom.'
Cyr no longer seemed troubled by the young woman's presence, the children didn't pay much attention either.
Kaaz, as for him, was observing this stranger with distrust. She seemed questionable to him. Her face looked completely unfamiliar although he knew many people by sight in Hierum. And such a face he would have remembered. If she was aiming to attack the children or Cyr, he would be the first one to interfere.
He concentrated to discern a potential magical energy, but it was impossible for him to feel anything. And he was sure about that, she could not be Iesilaren, she pervaded something inexplicable. As he had not felt her arriving, it meant she at least owned the Dissimulation, just like him, and in this case, she could conceal even more powers. He was watching her from the corner of his eye and was preparing himself to intervene at the slightest gesture.
'Well, young ones, today's lesson is over. As usual, please go outside one by one not to get caught.'
Kaaz approached the young woman and gave her a cold stare, she returned it to him.
'What do you want?' he muttered.
'I am going to converse with Cyr, this is none of your concern,' she answered, then headed towards the master.
Kaaz slipped away to ensure his lookout role while keeping an eye on the foreign woman. The field was free. He told a mother and her son to go out even though the rain was still falling.
The mysterious woman stepped forward to Cyr:
'Master, can I talk to you in private?'
She did not seem hostile but rather affable. He felt a certain relief.
'Of course, follow me.'
They went into the far room. It was Cyr's workplace, full of all of his writings, remedies and magic accessories.
'To whom have I the honour?'
'My name is Selna Harel, I have heard about you in small eastern villages.'
Cyr could not believe his eyes nor his ears. He scrutinised the young woman's face: it seemed she truly looked like the former Chief of the Guardians.
'How could this be possible? Kolin's husband and daughter were found dead.'
'The bodies were the ones of a father and his daughter already down. To cover us, I used my Transformation power on them. I am coming to you because we have the same purpose, to reconquer the kingdom' she declared.
'Have you inherited all of her powers?'
'And much more,' she said, smiling.
'Pardon me, would you like a sage infusion? I need to come to my senses,' he jested.
'With pleasure,' she replied while sitting down on a stool.
Pending their turn, the children were silently playing together. Kaaz waved a father and his son to go out, these latter cast a worried look outside. The way being free, they rushed out of the tent.
Ty approached a girl as old as him, Chellis. It was only the second time she attended the courses.
'Have you enjoyed today's teaching?' he shyly asked.
'Yes, I was unaware of the size of our lands. The kingdom is so vast whereas I have never left the capital,' she said with bitterness.
'Neither did I, and it is so difficult to get out of Hierum nowadays.'
To tell the truth, the young boy wasn't indifferent to Chellis's charm: her abundant wavy Venetian blond hair and her large light green eyes might have influenced it. She had generous curves, pretty plump cheekbones spangled with freckles, and fleshy lips.
Ty's heart was racing.
'So, have you detected a power lately?' she asked him.
'No. Still nothing,' he replied, disappointed.
'Perhaps we could train together and exchange advice?'
Ty was over the moon, and seized the opportunity.
'Absolutely! We should help each other.'
'Well! Can I train with you?' asked Loya, the flaming-haired little girl.
Ty was somewhat annoyed.
'Yes, we should join in front of the southern kitchen garden!' enthused Chellis.

Kaaz went into the tent again to take two young people out. He glanced around and saw neither Cyr nor the young woman.
Suspicious, he decided to go and see in the work room.
As he lifted the curtain, he found them sitting at the table, drinking their brew.
He meticulously closed the opening so as not to alert the guests.
'Who are you?' he interrogated Selna.
'She is Kolin Harel's daughter,' calmly replied Cyr.
'That's impossible. She was found dead.'
'Kaaz, she tells the truth, I knew Kolin. She looks like her and she has got the same powers. Her father and her managed to escape the city and take refuge all this time.'
'If you are so powerful, how come we have not seen you sooner?'
'I was practicing, I had to be fully ready. It is not an attack to treat lightly.'
'How did you hear about us?'
'My father and I were in the east. In the villages, it is rumoured that an opposition has been constituted during all those years, that the people exchange hidden documents and that secret schools have been formed. More precisely, it is a jeweler, Kirso, who told me about you. A small man with a moustache.'
'Yes, I know him. He holds classes in his village too,' Cyr responded.
'Exactly. I also heard that Litar was going across the kingdom for two lunar cycles.'
'You do hear a lot of things,' retorted Kaaz.
'You have no idea.' she countered ironically.
'Kaaz, she possesses the thought Transmission,' he added turning briefly to the young man. 'And so, shall we intervene during his departure?' asked Cyr.
'We have two lunar months left to prepare a strategy. In his absence, we must defeat all of the Guard and the King.'
'That is too little,' said Kaaz, tersely.
'This is our unique chance,' replied Selna.



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