The Chronicles of Alaria: Book I

Echoes of the Past






Listen to a tale, of a land far away,

         Of a magical world, filled with beauty, and danger...


Listen to a tale, of a land long since lost,

         A legend of mystical creatures, and mighty heroes...


Listen to a tale, of a land full of wonder,

         Where fantasy and illusion reign, and mystery and intrigue follow...


Listen to a tale, of a land immersed in magic,

         Where dragons rule the skies, and faeries roam the forests...


Listen to this tale..


-Blue Rain-


            It was raining.  Caliana gazed out at the falling droplets of water, legs dangling beneath her seat among the branches of a large tree.  A wall of leaves above spared her from any more than an occasional drip, and the gentle spattering of water against them was the lone sound in the air.  She sat at the western edge of the Lari Forest, a spot she often visited on rainy days when she needed time to think.  Most of the forest’s animals shied away from her little corner on days like this, as if out of respect for its quiet serenity.  A few though, waited silently nearby in secret, hoping to hear the song that often escaped Caliana’s lips when a spring rain fell.  And on this day, they would not be disappointed.

            The song was wordless but full of meaning, a simple yet beautiful melody that flowed through the air as if it belonged to accompany the falling rain.  It was bright but held subtle hints of sadness, a mirror of the expression in Caliana’s deep blue eyes.   Her view was of the plains ahead as she weaved her song between the raindrops, but her mind’s eye was in a land far away, thinking of companions and an adventure soon to come.  To the entranced forest animals it was just another song, though it would be the last to grace their little grove for some time.  As Caliana’s voice gently faded toward the end of her melody, the rain diminished with her as if it knew its purpose had been fulfilled.   Moments later, when the first few rays of sunlight snuck past the clouds above the scurrying of animals on the forest floor resumed, though one other visitor remained silently in her hiding place amongst the trees. 


            “I see you, you know,” Caliana called forth in her light voice, looking down from her perch amongst the branches.


            Elora smiled in knowing defeat, stepping out of her spot in the shadows.  “I didn’t want to disturb the song, and besides, you never let me hear it otherwise.”


            Caliana folded her arms, complete with mocked frown.  “And people say I’m the sneaky one!  Hmph!”


            A laugh in reply.  “Come down, already.  Dayna’s ready for us.”


            “Oh, fine.”


            Caliana hopped off the branch, golden hair waving in the air behind her as she floated gracefully to the level of the ground beneath.  She never touched the forest floor, hovering with her toes just barely off the soil below.  Even with her added little bit of false height, Caliana was only as tall as an adolescent human, or a very short elf. 


            Elora turned and started back toward the forest’s center.  “You know, I’m beginning to think you never actually learned to walk.”


            “Why bother?” she smirked, drifting in the air over Elora.  “Besides, I don’t want to get my feet dirty.”


            “Of course,” came another reply with a chuckle.  “Perhaps, because it is suspicious for girls to be flying around?  Or have you forgotten that the Fae are supposed to be hidden?”


            Caliana flew up ahead, facing a bird’s nest.  “Don’t tell anybody!  I’m a Faerie…it’s a secret!”  The bird squawked and she laughed, circling back toward Elora’s side.  She floated a little higher this time, at eye-level with her taller companion.


            “You know what I mean!” Elora huffed, shaking her head.  “Oh nevermind…”


            “Don’t worry,” Caliana answered, giggling.  “I’m not going to go flying through Caryn looping in the air at midday.  I’m subtle!”


            “Oh, the very embodiment thereof,” Elora quipped sarcastically.




            Elora grinned at her little victory, before pausing a moment.  “It will be nice to visit Caryn again.  I haven’t been to the library there in ages.”


            “Only you would be thinking about books.”  Caliana laughed, drifting ahead. “Aren’t you excited about crossing the Great Sea?”


            “Of course!  That doesn’t mean I can’t spend a little time reading while you’re off talking to Artimer,” she answered, a touch defensive.  Elora loved spending time amongst the books, learning of history and legends of the distant past.


            “You’d be in the library for days if we let you.  I only need to talk to Artimer for a little while, so don’t get lost in there or anything.”


            “I’ll try my best.  Do you think we’ll get there by morning?”


            “Oh dear…I hope so.  I wouldn’t want anyone to see me during the day!” Caliana replied, drifting behind Elora and reaching around to cover her eyes with her little hands.


            Elora nearly tripped, before brushing her tormentor’s hands away. 


            “We must travel…under cover of darkness…” she added while trying to sound ominous, fighting back laughter.


            Elora rolled her eyes, “Yes, I’m sure we’ll sneak through somehow.  Who knows, maybe the birds will try and stop us on our dragon.” 


            “You never know!” Caliana chirped, and soared off ahead.


            The forest grew much thicker as they continued toward its center, and less and less of the ground was touched by the afternoon’s rain.  Bits of sunlight managed to peek through the dense treetops in a few places, but only a dim twilight kept them out of darkness.  Caliana drifted in the air between the trees like a fish swimming through coral, darting around branches to keep herself entertained while Elora set the pace pushing through the undergrowth.  Before too long had passed, they came to the large clearing at Lari’s center. 

            The warmth of free sunlight flowed over Caliana as she left the shadows of the last trees.  She floated in on her back, with the loose parts of her blue clothing just grazing the tips of the tall grass beneath, and her hair mingling freely with it.  Directly in her path lay the stone arch that formed the Fae’s Gate, the secret portal to the tunnels beneath the Faerie’s home, Alaria.  Elora waded through the green sea of waving grass, her legs and the base of her red-trimmed white tunic submerged beneath it. 

Caliana sat waiting atop the left stone of the arch, and hopped off when Elora drew near.  With a flick of her wrist a large black staff, nearly as tall as she was, appeared in her right hand in a flash of light.  Atop it was a glowing blue stone, suspended between four curved and pointed tips.  She pointed it toward the center of the two stones that formed the arch, and closed her eyes and spoke in the tongue of magic.


‘Aluni karo Alaria’


A small spark flew from her staff’s stone and brought a blue shimmering light to the air between the stones, as a portal began to form.  It swirled for a moment and took on a surface much like a still pool of water, revealing the blue crystal walls of Alaria’s subcaverns behind it.  Suddenly, the portal’s surface rippled and two figures emerged.


“Hello, Dayna,” Elora greeted, with a smile.


“Greetings Elora, Lady Caliana,” Dayna acknowledged, nodding her head to each.  She was clad in the shining white and blue traditional armor of an Alarian Dragon Knight.  A sunburst crest was emblazoned on the breastplate with a gold ring circling it to show her role as leader, a position she was quite proud of. 


“Ready to fly, Captain?” Caliana asked, as she looked upward at the quickly disappearing clouds.  “I know you are, Sapphire,” she added with a smirk, looking to the silent girl standing behind Dayna.  She wore similar armor, though with a helmet and faceguard that covered all but her silver eyes, turned upward at the sky.


“Of course,” Dayna replied, motioning with her hand for Sapphire to move into the open area behind them.  Before Caliana or Elora had a chance to turn around to see, Sapphire had already changed into her dragon form, casting a shadow over them all as her massive wings spread above.  Brilliant blue scales covered her from tail to talon, with only the same shining silver eyes to show that she was the girl that stood silently beside just moments before. 


“Very sneaky, Sapphire!” Caliana yelled as she took to the air to escape the shadows, before turning to face Dayna and Elora from above the dragon’s wing.  “Let’s go!”


Before long they were airborne, soaring toward the distant castle city of Caryn, with the slowly setting sun at their backs.  With the air whistling past on their long journey, conversation between them was nearly impossible, though there was no shortage of scenery above and below to watch.  Just after night fell they passed above Lake Akan, which was calm enough to give a near perfect reflection of the starry sky, and the blue crescent moon.  By the time they had passed Caryn’s great wall, far to the west of the actual city, the first signs of morning’s light were creeping up the horizon.  Even in such dim lighting, they could see the white bricks of the colossal structure that stretched across the kingdom’s entire western border.  Though no real war had threatened it for nearly two centuries, it served as a barrier to brigands, and raiders of the savage Ra’aka race. 

The farmers to the west of the castle city woke up to the rare view of Sapphire’s blue silhouette streaking across the sky.  Such a sight was widely believed to be a sign of good luck for the day, at the same time bringing smiles of wonder to the children gazing up and dreaming of far off adventures.  Dayna grinned as she glanced down at the observers.  Most often she flew a little closer to the ground than normal when people were around to watch, ever since Caliana had let slip how much the children enjoyed it. 

The sun had fully escaped the horizon’s clouds when they landed atop the Dragon’s Tower, in the center of Caryn.  From its pinnacle it was possible to see almost as far as the port of Taslan to the south, and rolling hills and trees to the horizons in each direction.  Before Sapphire had even landed, Caliana had swooped over to sit on the tower’s edge, looking at the busy people below that had hardly noticed a dragon landing atop their castle. 


“I think I need to take a nap,” Elora said, yawning as she approached Caliana from behind.  “How it is that you manage not to get tired on these flights, I’ll never understand.”


“Maybe if you spent more time in the air, you wouldn’t have such a hard time,” Caliana replied, smirking.  “Don’t fall asleep in your books, now!”


“I’ll try my best to.”  Elora turned back, headed toward the long spiral staircase to the castle below.


“…to fall asleep?” Caliana’s smirk had widened to a grin, as she took to the air to follow. 


“Oh be quiet, you know what I meant,” Elora answered with a frown.  “And start walking before someone sees you!”


Caliana sighed, falling slowly until her feet touched the ground, folding her arms with a frown of her own.  “I have no idea how people manage to do this all day.”


            “Lady Caliana, may we take our leave?  I need to rest, as does Sapphire,” Dayna asked.  Sapphire again stood behind her in human form, silently.


            “Certainly, Dayna.  Rest well.”


            “Thank you,” she said, nodding her head to each of them before walking off to go down the stairs.


            “I suppose I’ll get a little rest as well.”  Elora yawned again, stretching her arms out behind her.


            “Sure.”  Caliana grinned for a moment, glancing at the ledge.


            “What’re you,” Elora barely started, before watching Caliana dive off the edge of the tower.  Cali!”  She sighed, shaking her head before following Dayna down the stairs.


            Caliana was already halfway down the tower by the time she heard Elora’s yell.  If anyone were watching, they would have seen naught but a blue streak soar down the shadowed side of the tower, gone in just a few moments.  Upon landing, Caliana called forth her staff, and with a quick tap on the ground, a flash of blue light swirled around her.  Over her clothing appeared a set of white robes, and her previously bare feet were now inside a pair of shining black boots.  She quickly straightened out the robe, tucking her hair inside before pulling the hood over her head.  After glancing around and smiling at the fact that none had seen her, she scurried off toward the Royal Tower. 



            The planning room was quiet that morning.  Artimer sat alone at the large desk, with maps and papers laid out neatly across it.  He was in the middle of a sip from his morning tea when a knock came from the large door across from him.


            He set down his teacup.  “What is it, Toras?” 


            The door slowly crept open, and his advisor Toras’ grey-haired head poked through.  “Pardon, Highness, but there is a young lady here.  She claims to be a courier from the Order of the Star, asking to speak with you directly.”  His voice revealed his reluctance to trouble Artimer with such an issue.


            He glanced down to the table, quizzically.  “A courier?  I can’t imagine…”


            “She says it is a matter of great importance.”


            “Well.  Send her in, I suppose,” Artimer replied, taking another sip.


            The door opened wider.  “You may enter,” Toras stated as he stepped out of the way, gesturing to the short robed figure.


            “Greetings,” Artimer said, after Toras closed the door, taking his leave.  “What news do you bring from the Spire?”


            “The best of news,” Caliana answered, before flipping her hood back to reveal her face.  “I’m here!”


            Artimer laughed.  “I should’ve known.  You’re a little short for a courier, after all.” 


            She brushed off his comment with a little mock frown, taking a short and swift flight over the large table to sit in the chair next to Artimer.  Before she had a chance to speak, another knock came from the door. 


            “Enter, Toras,” Artimer called forth, and the door crept open once more.


            “Begging your pardon again Highness, but I thought you’d like to know that an Alarian dragon has…” He stopped abruptly, seeing Caliana’s wide smile.


            “We know,” she said, enjoying the shocked look that Toras wore.


            “Lady Caliana, how did you,” he stopped with a sigh, realizing he should be used to her surprises by now.  Toras had been in the service of Artimer and his father before him for nearly twenty years, and had crossed paths with Caliana on quite a few occasions.  “I’ll be preparing for our mid-day audience with the delegation from Freeport, Highness,” he said, making his retreat to the hallway.


            “Very well Toras.  I’ll join you shortly,” Artimer said, sighing as the door closed. 


            Caliana glanced over.  “Being King not all that it’s cracked up to be?”


            “I’m surviving,” Artimer answered with a grim smile, looking toward the window as he drank the last of his tea.  “I was prepared, but ready?  Not at all.”


            “Don’t worry,” Caliana said, with a smile more of warmth than amusement for a change.  “You’re doing well.  Your father would be proud of how you’ve handled everything.”


            “Thank you.  Your words means a great deal to me.”  Artimer stood up from his seat, strolling toward the window.  “But, you aren’t here just to shower me with praise.  Is it time already?”


            “It is.”  Caliana’s voice had taken on a more serious tone. “Elora’s headed to Taslan this evening with Captain Dayna, and they’ll set sail tomorrow.” 


            “What of the Dwarves?  Has word been sent to Lord Kassomer?”


            Caliana nodded.  “It should be there within a day or two at the most.  I’ll be returning home and waiting at Lari.”


            “Well, it would seem everything is in order.”  Artimer stood silent for a moment, thoughts occupied both with the day’s trade negotiations and the importance of the coming events Caliana spoke of.  He would have much rather joined the group on their adventures, but he knew he could not abandon his own role.  Her light laughter interrupted his thoughts.


            “You’d better go before Toras gets upset,” Caliana said, with a smirk.  “I’ll be back here again soon, don’t worry.  I won’t let your royal life get too boring.”


            Artimer smiled.  “Thanks, Cali.  Good luck.”




            Elora navigated her way through the elgant maze of bookshelves that made up Caryn’s library.  She felt a sense of home there, as it was among those same stacks that she had spent much of her three years time living in the castle city.  Her quest for knowledge had extended far beyond her normal Academy studies, and by the time she was through, Elora knew as much if not more than many of her teachers.  She smiled, reaching to the top shelf for the small book of maps she had been seeking.  Before she had a chance to open it, she felt a tap on her shoulder.  She turned to look, before shaking her head with a little laugh.


            “I know it’s you,” she said, taking her free hand and flipping back Caliana’s white hood.


            Caliana stuck her tongue out.  “It fooled Toras.  Artimer too,” she added with a smile. 


            Elora opened the book, flipping through the various maps.  “Did you come all the way to the library just to brag about your disguise?”


            “My, my.  Someone didn’t get enough sleep on the dragon last night, did she,” Caliana scolded, as she fixed the hood.  “I’m heading home, I just came to say goodbye.  Say hello to Myra for me, and good luck.”


            “Of course,” Elora said, looking up from the open book in her hand.  “I’ll see you soon, Cali.”  She glanced back down at the map for a moment, and by the time she looked up again, Caliana had quietly vanished into the maze. 


            Elora traced her fingers across the route she was to take after crossing the Great Sea, from the port city of Norast inland to the village Ariko.  She looked to the north of her destination with a sigh, as the Elven city of Cedra was still marked in the old mapbook as if it did not lie in ruins.  It had been nearly fifteen years since the terrible ambush that had left few survivors, scattered amongst the nearby kingdoms to which they had fled.  She remembered the aftermath well, though she had not been on the mainland to witness it, the descriptions given to her by Caliana and others were more than enough.  Removing her finger from the page, she closed the map book and reached up to place it back on its proper shelf.  It was time to depart.