Chapter 5 Guess who’s coming to dinner?
Endi looked down at the tiny screaming woman. He didn’t not quite know what to do with her. His size always seemed to intimidate people, even his own kind, so he knelt down and tried to make himself less imposing. “Shhh it’s ok, I didn’t mean to scare you.” Endi said trying to make his rough voice sound as soothing as possible. It worked. The woman stopped screaming. Instead she started yelling at him.
“You scared the hell out of me. I’m not used all this shit. God what kind of a world is this? Giants, walking talking cats, egg men, and a probably mentally ill man who thinks I’m his dead wife. I just can’t take this, it’s too much all at once.” Endi had no idea what she was talking about. But he chalked that up with the fact that she was a surface dweller. They were known to be not quite rite in the head. When the woman finally ran out of steam Endi decided to introduce himself. “I am Endiondantious of the House of Liononosis, but most call me Endi.”
“I’m Ryanne..” The woman stated as three strange men burst through the treeline.
“Back away from her beast!” The tall Arrainanite man yelled throwing himself in front of Ryanne. He was armed with a long sword aimed at Endi. His two companions took up positions on either side of the Arainanite. They were armed as well. The Nilactin wielded a large knife while the Asoonadye had a bow with an arrow cocked and ready.
Endi was not afraid. Instead he was rather curious. He had been told that the three warring nations of surface dwellers would never work together. Clearly these three were friends all hell bent on protecting the female. We have been lied to, Endi thought as he examined the three strangers in front of him..
Endi slowly moved back away from the female. “I ment her no harm. I was simply enjoying the stream when she came upon me.” Endi sat back on his haunches as he examined the people before him. “It’s ok Tylander. He didn’t hurt me just startled me is all.” Ryanne placed her hand on the Arrainanite’s shoulder. Tylander looked up at the garrish looking greenish grey giant. He was by far larger than those he saw in the destroyed Asoonadye village. The Giant was not acting aggressive and appeared to be unarmed. Tylander lowered his weapon and motioned for his companions to do the same. They were reluctant but followed his lead anyway. “What exactly are you, and where did you come from?” Tylander asked the beast.
“I am an Endotalen. I go by the name Endi. We have been on this world far longer than any of your species. We were the first of Lunester’s children.” Endi looked back and forth between the three men still not quite believing they were together. “As your kind began to develop my people decided that we wanted nothing to do with your warring ways. We retreated to the ground, living in subterranean cities in peaceful isolation for over a millennium”. Endi looked pointedly at the men in front of him. “That is until a few weeks ago when a strange man, an Arrainanite, found his way to our capital city. He called himself Lord Dyvanor.” Tylander’s head shot up sharply with Dyvanor’s name. ” You know of him.” Endi said. It was a statement not a question. Tylander answered anyway.
“He is a trader, and an evil man who fled our city before he could be punished for his crimes.” Tylander took Ryanne’s hand as he remembered the last time he saw Dyvanor. He had arrived at the castle just in time to see Dyvanor mortally wound Ryanne. “Dyvanor was working with Illucious the Dark Goddess to kill our king. We also know he is the one leading an army of your kind against the Asoonadye.” Endi nodded his head.
“I am aware of the attacks. He came to our city. He was taken to the ruling council where he told them a very convincing story.” Endi took a breath then he did something he hadn’t done in years. He opened himself to the power that ran through his blood and took a good look at the beings in front of him. The House of Liononosis was known for their incredible magical abilities, powers so strong they were feared and ostracized by their own people. Endi was able to see past the physical and into the spiritual. He didn’t know who to trust and he couldn’t afford to make a mistake. If Dyvanore was truly an Emissary of Illucious than his people were in great danger.
Endi took a good look into the men before him. He needed to see into the heart of each man. The Nilactin, Junkar, was strong and brave. He had a warrior’s heart. He was also kind and generous, but didn’t want anyone to know. The indigo cat genuinely liked his two companions. These species were supposedly at war with each other, but Endi could find no hint of malice in the warriors before him.
The Asoonadye Othyos was scared, but also determined to do whatever it took to help his people. He did not have the hate in him that had Endi expected. The Endotalens had destroyed his village, yet he was more concerned with saving lives than killing Endotalens.
To Endi the Arrainanite, Tylander, was the most interesting of the men. He was noble and brave, a warrior who wanted peace. He was also in love. Endi could clearly see the threads connecting him to his wife. The threads fascinated him as they were similar to what Endotalens developed when they mated. He did not believe that his kind had anything in common with the barbaric surface dwellers. Tylander was more curious than afraid of the Endotalen. Although Endi could tell if he so much as made a move towards Tylander’s mate the Arainanite wouldn’t hesitate to kill him. He could respect that.
The woman, Ryanne, was a conundrum. Endi assumed that she was a strange dark skinned Arrainanite, but she was something altogether different. He had no idea what her ancestry was, but what he did see was mind blowing. She has been to the afterlife. Endotalen’s were the first to journey to the afterlife and return. It was dangerous, very dangerous. Any one who survived the trip ended up taking a piece of the afterlife back with them. It gave them abilities that were not meant for this world. But what left Endi breathless was the fact that she held the mark of Lunester over her heart.
Endi dropped to his knees in supplication to Ryanne. The Endotalen’s had a prophecy of the Favored Handmaiden of Lunester. Her presents alone will trigger events that will lead to all the Nations of Thera to uniting under one flag. She would be a being not of their world. She will have walked into the afterlife and returned bringing with her the power to grant Lunester’s gifts to those who choose to fight the Dark Goddess Illucious. The dark time the prophecy spoke of, was at hand. Illucious has sent her Emissary to destroy every nation. She would stop at nothing get her revenge against Lunester. Her Emissary, Dyvanor would, will, use Illucious’s power to control the Endotalen army. He will wipe out all life and bringing darkness to every corner of Thera, unless the warring nations could come together as one.
This was something that could not happen without divine intervention. That was why the Handmaiden was needed. She could do something no other being could. Looking at the men standing next to Ryanne, Endi could already see for himself that it was working. “Favored Handmaiden of Lunester, my people have been lied to by the Emissary of Illucious. Do not judge them too harshly ” Endi pressed his head to the ground.
Endi felt a small hand on his shoulder. “Endi, what are you doing?” Ryanne asked. Endi lifted his head to meet her eyes.
“I have seen inside you. You bare the mark of Lunester’s Handmaiden. You are the one we have been waiting for.” Ryanne looked confused.
“I’m not anyone’s handmaiden. I don’t even know who this Lunester person is Ok! I’m just a girl stuck in a place I don’t belong. So please, get up. Your making me very uncomfortable right now.” Ryanne looked back at Tylander “Lets head back to camp. I’m tired and hungry and by the look of our new friend here he could use a meal or two.” Tylander nodded as he took Ryanne’s hand and help her hobble back to their camp site. Tylander was more than a little concerned that she didn’t know who Lunester was.
Endi stood up slowly and followed after the men he consider to be her guard. That’s when Endi decided that he too wished to have a place at Ryanne’s side. It made sense to Endi that she would have a protector from each nation to guard her. Lunester obviously placed him by that stream for a reason.
Once back at camp the group quickly finished setting up the tent and got their evening meal prepared. Sitting around the campfire eating reconstituted meat and a potato like root vegetable, Tylander began to interrogate Endi. “You said earlier that Dyvanor told your council a convincing story. Do you know what he told them?”
Endi looked up from is too small bowl. “He said he came to warn us. That the Asoonadye had discovered one of our settlements closer to the surface. They believe us to be vermin, carrying disease. To be wiped out before we could infect the surface dwellers. Dyvanor said the Asoonadye came to the settlement with an army and killed all those in it. Everything was burned, all the bodies, the buildings, even our crops. To ensure no germs or disease could spread and infect the surface. The council sent soldiers to verify Dyvanor’s story. The entire settlement was destroyed, burned to ash. No survivors.”
Endi placed his bowl on the ground before he continued. “The council assembled all our people and allowed Dyvanor to speak. As he told his story to our people something did not seem right to me. I had the ability to sense lies, but I could not sense one way or the other with him. What I could sense was lye beneight his words. It was a compulsion of sorts. I could feel a push along with his words as if he was trying to hypnotize my people with his voice. I am not susceptible to that type of power. I tried to tell my people that we should proceed cautiously but, as an outcast among my people, they would not listen to me. When they left for the surface I followed so I could seek the truth for myself. I refused to condemn an entire species on the word of one man.”
“Your people believe that they are protecting themselves.” Ryanne stated placing her uneaten meal on the ground. The conversation was not conducive to her appetite.
“Yes, they do. Dyvanor is not just poisoning my people against the Asoonadye. I have heard him speaking to the council. He is telling them that the Arrainanites and Nilactins know of our existence now. Making them a threat to the Endotalen people as well. Dyvanor intends to use my people to go after all of your nations.” Endi looked down at his hands. “I am sorry Handmaiden for not forcing my people to see what I felt in my heart was true. Lord Dyvanor was a deceiver. I should have forced my people to listen to me.”
“Ok, enough with the Handmaiden bullshit. My name is Ryanne! I’m not a Handmaiden of Lunester. Just I’m a woman, who doesn’t belong here. ” Ryanne stated matter of factly.
“Actually, I’d like to hear more about this Favored Handmaiden. Who is she and why is she important to your people.” Tylander asked as he pulled Ryanne closer to him. So close she was nearly in his lap. He was trying to tell her without words that she did in fact belong here, with him.
“I came from the once Royal house of Liononosis. My great great great Grandmother was the last monarch of the Endotalen nation. She was also the keeper of our histories. As the last of my line that duty has fallen to me.” Endi’s eye became sad as he spoke of his family. “My many times great grandmother was an oracle. She wrote several prophecies and every one of them has come to pass except one.” Endi looked at Ryanne. “It spoke of the Favored Handmaiden of Lunester. She is not of this world, will bare the mark of Lunester over her heart, and she will have traveled to the afterlife returning with a piece of the spirit world within her. Her presence alone will cause a chain reaction that will unite all four of Thera’s nations under one flag. Thus stopping Illucious’ from destroying life as we know it. When I saw the three of you working together I began to remember the prophecy, but it wasn’t until I looked inside your wife’s soul, Tylander, that I realized I was in the presence of the Handmaiden.”
“What mark are you talking about?” Ryanne asked.
“The mark of the God Lunester keeper of the light, is a sunburst symbol. I didn’t see the physical mark but I could see the spiritual one. You do possess a mark just over your heart, don’t you?” Endi asked giving Ryanne a knowing look.
“She does.” Tylander answered for her. “I have seen it myself. I believe you called it a tattoo. I asked you about it when we first got married.” Ryanne had no words. She remembered getting the stupid tattoo on her chest when she was 18. She was drawn to this really cool sunburst image as a child. It decorated her walls, notebooks and just about every other surface Ryanne could draw on. When she decided to get a tattoo it had to be that image she permanently etched on her body.
“If your people are hypnotized into believing Dyvanor’s lies how can we stop it?” Junkar asked Endi. Saving Ryanne by changing the subject. “I’d prefer a way to end this with as little bloodshed as possible. Your people are just as innocent as the Asoonadye they attacked. The only one who needs to die is Dyvanor.”
“Their may be a way.” Endi stated as he looked at Ryanne. “If it is Illuciuos’ power behind Dyvanor’s voice. Then someone who has been blessed by Lunesters Handmaiden will be able to make my people see the truth.”
“The High Priestess Yelillya should be able to help us with that. Her connection to Lunester should help her provide us with answers.” Tylander offered.
“We need to make haste back to Quinetta. All of our kings need to hear what Endi has to say.” Othyos stated. “Get some rest. We need to leave before first light.” With that he got up and climbed into his sleeping roll. Dinner was over and they had a great deal to think about. with all these thoughts weighing on their minds, they all fitfully slept. They were all anxious to get back to the Arrainanite city, to their kings, and to Yelillya. Tylander worried about Ryanne especially if the High Priestess didn’t have a way to get the answers they needed to stop Dyvanor. If Ryanne is truly this Handmaiden, and Tylander believed she is, she will be a threat to Dyvanor and, therefore, the first person he will come after.