Beldaran Ashkeveron

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Fron the Journal of Beldaran Ashkeveron:

Braden is alive. I know this for a fact, although no one believes it as anything but self delusion on my part. I would know if he were dead, just as I would know if I lost an arm or a leg. I can no longer stay in this remote tower in the depths of the FaeWylde, for he is calling to me in my dreams, and I know the time of our reunion is close.

I spoke to the Arch Magus about this, and although he believes it to be nothing more than my mind playing with me, I know better. I write this at his bequest to ‘clear my thoughts by putting them on paper’, and perhaps it will help in some way, but it will not convince me that my visions are insignificant.

Many races don’t believe that the sleepless Eladrin can dream, but they know not the truth. Slipping too deep into a meditation can trigger a dream like state, a waking dream often based on strong memories, and we must be careful to control ourselves when this happens or be lost in the visions.

I have only ever had one of these vision dreams, although it was a regular visitor. Always the same, but lately it has changed, and these changes bring with them a sense of unease. As horrible as this memory is to relive again and again, I have been able to garner some small comfort in its predictability, and in the forced remembrances of my brother. When I slip too deep into my own mind, I know that I will be changed. When I look down and see myself as a child, that I will suddenly be back in his room, Braden standing in front of me with a serious look on his face, weighing my words and my look of feigned innocence with his dark eyes.

Our parents would joke that we were night and day, the sun and the moon, and surely we looked it. With my hair of shining silver and his of burning gold our appearances did match that description. Fitting it was, as we were born during a solar eclipse, when the moon and sun join together in the sky and darken the day. Some considered us marked by this strange coincidence, although for good or ill they could not say. Twins, born at such a time, surely it meant something, although I know not what.

Those that knew us well knew that our parents were referring more to our natures than our appearance. Braden had a seriousness to him, a calm stillness like that of quiet cloudless night with the moon full in the sky. I envied him that calm at times, for I was filled with a fire that rarely stilled. I burned with a desire to know, to experience and to fight. And fight I did, usually with my brother, often with our parents. I wonder to this day where they found the patience to deal with my tantrums and erratic behaviour. Many precious objects were broken, and more than once was I dragged out of pubs and taverns in the seedier parts of my then home of Shadowmoon that I had managed to sneak myself in to. The stories of Heroes were milk and honey to me, and where better to collect them than from the Heroes themselves? It was during the last of these forbidden outings that my dream, no, my memory, starts.

My brother knew I was up to something, and I could tell he was trying to determine if the danger out balanced my joy in the adventure. For all that we fought, we also loved each other deeply, and he understood me as no one else could. I also knew him as I knew myself, and I had learned early on that he had a will of iron should he make up his mind against something. If Braden decided I would be getting myself in over my head, he would do everything he could to stop me. Since I could neither lie to him, nor keep a secret from him, it was easier to try to convince him to go along with my plans than hide them from him. We were children of just 8 years old, and getting him caught up in my adventures was not overly difficult.

I could see the moment when he decided. One side of his mouth curled slightly as he tried to hold in a smile as my excitement forced its way through his stoic demeanour. Knowing I had won, I let out a whoop and kissed him, then danced around the room to get ready. I would be sneaking out to a tavern where the I had overheard the servants gossip that some adventurers were staying. Rumour had it they had faced a dragon and not only survived but slew it and had it’s head as proof. They must be true Heroes to face such a creature and live to tell the tale. A part of me wondered how big a dragon it was, and I imagined its head overbalancing a wagon while being carried through the city, although surely if that were the case I would have heard the news sooner…

I had found that as a young Eladrin, I could pass as a Halfling if I dressed appropriately. The key, I had found, was weapons. No one thinks you’re a child when you have a weapon strapped to your belt or back, although a cloak to hide my young face was also mandatory. I placed all I needed in a backpack, and begged my brother once again for his new sword. For all that it was small and wooden, it had a sheath and a leather wrapped handle and with a quick glance could pass for real on someone of my stature.

He passed it to me grudgingly, an unspoken warning not to damage it in his look. I was jealous of it, and him, I can admit now. It was I who was obsessed with fighting, but while we sought out books together in the library on swordplay it was I who was distracted by the picture books with their depictions of monsters both hideous and beautiful. Often were the times I would be forced to take up my invisible sword to battle the pack of imaginary beasts that would suddenly invade our home. Braden, a far more dedicated scholar than I, took the time to find the more boring training guides, and began to teach himself what I know now to be forms. He often went through them in the garden for hours on end, boring though it seemed to me.

Our parents saw my brothers focus and dedication, and decided to hire an arms master to tutor him. I believe it was my Fathers own master, although my father did train my brother when he was free to. One can imagine how envious I was of this attention and training, but no amount of pleading or begging could convince either of my parents that I was ready for such a serious undertaking. I even managed to go two full weeks without fighting, verbally or otherwise. Unfortunately though, the agreement was that I make it through a full month. I felt it only fair that after an unprecedented two weeks of self control that I should receive half the lessons for meeting half the requirements, but no one else seemed to see it that way.

I took the mock weapon and added it to my pile, my mind already on Part Two of my Master Plan To View A Dragons Head, which was to escape the clutches of my vile parental captors, if only for long enough to catch a glimpse of a fire breathing dragons head. Logically of course I knew a dragons head probably couldn’t still breathe fire if it was severed from it’s body, but that didn’t stop me from picturing it so vividly I had to wrap my now magical cloak of resistance to fire breathing decapitated dragon heads around myself protectively. My brothers musical laughter pulled me back to reality. I stared down my nose at him, and strode stiff backed and haughty to my own room to prepare.

For Part Two of my Master Plan To View A Dragons Head to work I would have wield my own self made sword of wooden goodliness. Not even a blind man would mistake it for anything but what it was – a child’s poor attempt to lash two sticks together into a sword like shape. In my minds eye however, it was much more grand, although no longer flaming as it once was. I learned THAT lesson long ago. Running around with a flaming stick dropping red hot embers on the carpets is just foolish, and not something you would ever catch me doing. Again.

Running around the house as noisily as possible while swinging my weapon around wildly is a guaranteed way to get sent to my room, and that is exactly what happened. Now all Braden had to do was cover for me for the next few hours so I would not be missed. Sneaking out of my second floor window and down the vine covered wall was simple, and something I had done numerous times in the past. From there, it was a quick jog across the grounds to a tree that was perfectly situated for getting over the wall.

A disappointingly boring trip to a smelly tavern with no beheaded Dragon inevitably followed my well planned escape, and my dream skips ahead of itself to my walk home. As I approach the quarter of Shadowmoon my families Estate was in, I saw a large shadow hovering over the area. At first I thought it was a creature of darkness, summoned by some powerful Warlock to wreak havoc on the entire city. On closer inspection, I realized it was simply a tunnel of smoke flowing up into the air, likely from someone burning leaves in their garden.

The closer I came to home, the larger the cloud became, and eventually it occurred to me that something else, something much more interesting was responsible for its manifestation. The screams in the distance confirmed my excitement, and I ran for the cloud hoping for something more remarkable than the non-existing Dragons head I had failed to see. I was screaming as well, my adult self at least, screaming at my young self, demanding, then asking, then begging I stop, but the young me was deaf to my pleas, and I knew that what was coming could not be changed. The next few minutes progress exactly as I remember them, and nothing I do can stop me from reliving it again and again.

It wasn’t until I rounded the corner before my family’s Estate that I realized it was my home that was in flames, generating the now huge cloud of dark smoke. The entire ground floor and parts of the upstairs were alight, flames sprouting from the windows. I ran for the door, but a scream and the sound of shattering glass made me look up, and I saw my mother in the upstairs front window. She had thrown a chair through it, and was looking down at me. I could see that the fire miraculously hadn’t reached her section of the upstairs yet. She looked like she was about to jump, but stopped when she saw me. She could easily, and safely, have made it from that distance. I know, for my mother was a proficient Wizard and I had seen her perform such feats in the past, but instead she looked at me and screamed for me to run. I didn’t understand what was going on, and could only stand there in shock, wondering why she didn’t jump. I saw her turn back to the inside, raising her hands, and that was when the crossbow bolts burst out of her back. It was so sudden I wasn’t sure what I was seeing at the time, but in the replay of my dreams I relive every detail of the bolt heads punching through her. The shiny metal barbs, covered in her blood were as close in my vision as if I was inches away. And then I saw her whisper something, blood sputtering out with her words, and suddenly the entire front of the house seemed to explode.

I was close enough that the blast threw me onto my back, and I sat there staring up at the tree in my front yard for a few moments, while my mind struggled to figure out what had just happened. With the knowledge I have now, I know what happened. Initially running for her life, upon seeing me, my mother had instead turned back to confront her pursuers. To protect me.

I don’t know how long it was, mere moments perhaps, but it seemed like hours before I could think enough to stand. Once on my feet however, I had only one thought. Braden.

I ran for the back of the house, and climbed back up the vines I had climbed down so recently. My window was still open, but the room was in flames, Braden nowhere to be seen. I entered the room anyway, picking my way towards the door, but the fires blocked my passage. I screamed for my brother. Again and again I screamed his name. Years of rigid self control have kept me from screaming it aloud as I used to, but to this day I still awake from my meditation with his name on my lips.

Such has the dream always been and there it always ends. It was the last time I saw my home, my family, my brother.

Afterwards I know Kihara’s parents found me and took me away, but I remember very little of it, only fragments. I know Kihara’s family took me away to this tower, and whether the journey took days or months I cannot say, but here I have been ever since. All is not doom and gloom, for Kihara and her family are wonderful to me, and here, in the tower where my mother and father met and spent a large part of their lives training, I do feel connected to them. My life, although boring compared to my childhood plans, had been a good one so far, and I have been content up until recently.

It was two moons ago the dream first changed. All occurred as I have described, but when I travelled through Shadowmoon to see the Dragons head, night fell while I walked and in the changed colours of evening I somehow managed to become turned around and found myself lost. I wandered into a market area I have never seen, though I knew I should be there. Wandering the stalls, I eventually found myself looking down at an old woman sitting cross legged, rocking back and forth. I stopped to stare for a moment, caught up in her rhythmic motion, but as I was about to turn away she suddenly stopped moving and looked up at me. We locked eyes, and my heart skipped a beat as she raised her finger and pointed to me. “YOU!” She screamed, and I was filled with terror for some reason. I ran, eventually finding myself headed home, with the smoke cloud slowly filling the sky. The dream progressed as normal, but I awoke filled with awe and fear at this invasion, and knew that something had changed.

I have not had the dream again until last night, and I found myself once again in this Market at night. Some remembrance of the woman was with me, and instead of walking the stalls I stayed at the edge of a darkened alley and watched the crowd, trying to see the woman from a distance. With a shock I felt a hand on my shoulder and looked up, and up again, to see a barbaric human standing behind me, looking down at me with a frown. I wanted to run, but his grip was like iron. Before I could decide how to react he said my name, and asked if I was feeling all right.

That was when I realized that although I was looking up at him, it was from my adult height, and I was no longer a child. All I could think to ask was who he was, and with a twist of his head he let me know what a strange question that was, although he answered it anyway. “Asheran” was all he said, and on hearing his name I was startled out of my meditation.

And here I sit, writing, and wondering what it all means.

Beldaran Ashkeveron

Children of the Moon Archer