My name is Joldar, the chronicler. Some refer to me as the scribe, which is accurate enough, and some say Prophet, which is not.
Theldron, the first King of Ananyll, appointed me his chronicler when he ascended to the throne. We had seen many fulls by then, both having lived nearly fifty, and had known each other for most of them. It was appropriate that I should be the one to document the King’s rule, language and the written word my first passions. My other passion, the hunt for relics which so often coincided with finding ancient tablets or papyrus, followed closely and finally became so intertwined as to be inseparable.
When I first began my duties, Theldron came to me, a serious look about him.
“Be accurate and fair in your telling,” he said, “and do not hide my failings. Truth must rise above all else.”
And so I began, both of us agreeing that I should chronicle the history of Ananyll for future generations. “It is important that our people have knowledge of their ancestors,” he said, most solemnly, “because it is from them that we exist.”
When I was not sitting in court documenting the workings of the newly formed government, I wrote down the history of Ananyll, much of which came through the generations by word of mouth, stories told from parent to child. As those stories and their credibility derive from questionable sources, I set about organizing and compiling the ancient texts that in some cases took several fulls to decode. I shall not trouble you with those processes here as I have elaborately documented them in previous writings.
In my initial volume, The First History of Ananyll, I briefly chronicled from the Before Time when Eral created all, to what I knew from personal experience about the Shrouded Isle, as our forefathers referred to the land.
The island continent was raised from the sea, its steep coastal cliffs blanketed in a perpetual mist for uncountable generations. When Theldron and I were younger men, the shroud evaporated in less than ten fulls, leaving Ananyll suddenly vulnerable to other cultures who had gained the ability of building sea-faring ships. Mostly loose contingencies of marauding bandits, the sea-farers had thought the land no more than fog on the horizon and skirted it for more favorable seas. That changed when the mists disappeared.
“An omen,” people whispered when it began.
“Eral has forsaken us,” soon became the predominant cry as the protective cover retreated on the winds.
Theldron reminded the people of the Rite of Purity spoken of since the beginning so many thousands of fulls before, and required all take the Oath or risk banishment alone on the tempestuous sea. That decree, along with improved roads that solidified alliances, which in turn increased trade, laid the foundation for a just and peaceful time–until the Jharmans came.
This story is not about King Theldron, however, as I have written of him extensively during my chronicles, but about his firstborn, Syjer.
Prince Syjer evolved through thickets of diverse experiences unimagined by any that are not prone to muttering on a street corner late at night. He told no one until he confided in me, and at the very moment of his telling, I knew I had to detail his intimate and unenviable story. Hence, I begin this tale of Syjer, the Prince of Ananyll.
From the Second History of Ananyll
By Joldar, the Chronicler
Jacek staggered back from the dark-armored invader that suddenly crumpled at his feet. He glanced at Prince Najash, who held a short sword glistening red from the slain Jharman, and nodded once in thanks. The younger Prince eyed him curiously, a small smile lifting the corner of his mouth as if it pained him to do so. There seemed an instant of recognition, and then the chaos of the battlefield distracted them and forced their attention elsewhere.
He followed the Prince’s gaze across the open field where bronze and leather garbed Ananyllians fought to protect their homeland from the advancing horde of iron clad Jharmans. Pockets of slashing and parrying men attacked and defended, and in the distance, Jacek sighted the eldest Prince astride his magnificent black mount in the center of the fray.
Prince Syjer fought valiantly, his sword cutting the afternoon air with frenzied abandonment from the back of his twisting, snarling mount. But too many converged, and separated from his protective guard, King Theldron’s heir battled alone. The Prince fell from his mount and disappeared at the instant Jacek felt a tug in the small of his back.
A wide spearhead covered in blood and ripped flesh burst from Jacek’s abdomen. Dazed and oddly detached, he stared disbelievingly at the spearhead when pain sliced through him and sent him to his knees. Life ebbed from him once again . . . .
Grunts and groans and clanking metal halted abruptly like a forest silenced by a stalking predator.
Gleaming color swirled all about him in his mind’s eye, indiscernible shapes that mixed and blended in uncountable shades of green, yellow, red and blue. There was no wind despite the continued shifting of color, no smell, no sense of touch. Only his vision was again assaulted in the unworldly, disembodied place, if place was the proper description.
Color dulled and retreated outward in his peripheral vision, replaced by distorted and disconnected shapes, places and faces vaguely recognizable, slipping in and out of view, wispy visions altered and dislodged from time and place. The disjointed memories blurred as a fog and evaporated as well, but he knew they would return, some in fragments, others in a rush, prompted or not, and he let them fade unhindered as more urgent matters demanded his attention–survival always took precedence no matter how much he wanted to be dead.
Who am I now? He had desperately hoped the death of the boy soldier, Jacek, would have been the last, that he would finally sleep with the fathers beyond the Veil. Instead, the returning caressed his mind with a familiar icy awareness that lingered between sleep and wakefulness, the wish for final death taunted by still another life.
He sucked his first breath–the rush of air seared his new lungs. Choking back a fire scorching his throat, he swallowed, cautiously inhaled small amounts, exhaled. After a few gasping moments, his breathing calmed into a settled rhythm; only then could he focus on the physical world around him.
Weight pressed heavy against him. He tried to flex his fingers, but they were clenched as if melded to something he could not release, and the air reeked of smoke, filth, and the rank stench of death. He lay on a battlefield, probably the same one, and wondered off-handedly to which army he returned. He mentally cringed at the memory of the dark Jharmans.
He tried to open his eyes, but the lids stuck together. Probably blood, he mused, or am I blind? Terror attacked him. He pulled his right hand to his face, frantically rubbed at the right eye socket with the back of his wrist, then the left. They are closed, I’m sure of it. He squeezed his eyes tight, and forced them open with a clenched fist.
He blinked twice, leaned his head back as a huge black face filled his vision. Two short horns peaked between erect, twitching ears; below, golden eyes split by vertical pupils stared at him from a head larger than a man’s torso; below the haunting eyes, two sharp canines the length of daggers threatened as hot breath brushed his face.