The beginning of this story was posted on the Utopia Skye forums beginning on September 28 2005 until November 17 2005 by the user Crayauchtin. Whether or not it will be finished remains to be seen!
Devon Aidendale was finally relaxed. Not that, in his adventures, there hadn't been times when he had been relaxed. The flight from Spielburg had been quite nice, although the carpet was not exactly comfortable. And living in the Palace of Shapier was a wonderful vacation. But nothing was as relaxing as this.
He had refused the crown of Silmaria, recognizing that Rakeesh, the liontaur that had first mentored him as a Paladin, had been forced to abdicate his throne in Tarna to be a Paladin. Now Elsa von Spielburg was King of Silmaria. Silmaria itself was just as prosperous a kingdom as it had been when King Justinian had reigned there. All was well in the world of Gloriana. At least, that Devon knew of.
In fact, he and his beloved wife Erana were quite happy on the isle of Lymnos (although Devon had refused to live in any kind of grown house and had built one outside of Erana's Retreat). She had opened a magical channel to other powerful mages across Gloriana so that they could communicate and any mage would instantly know if something truly disastrous were occurring.
Devon contemplated how well things were going for him as he laid out in the sun on one of Lymnos' sandy beaches. It was from here that he first caught a glimpse of trouble -- a large ship sailing on the sea, it's flag, black with two red fiery swords crossed upon it, heading in the direction of Silmaria. It was a flag he had never seen before. He was uneasy at the sight of it -- paranoia or his Paladin ability to Sense Danger? Sometimes it was difficult to tell. Paranoia, he told himself, That's all.
A green ball of magical energy shot out of the water at ship, but ricocheted off and careened back into the water. More balls shot from the waves, each one ricocheting off the ship. The Tritons perceived this boat as a threat to them, or to Silmaria, or to both -- but their attacks were useless against it.
Or maybe it's not paranoia...
Quickly, Devon raced through the peaceful woodlands to the beautiful garden that Erana had grown up. "Erana!" he shouted, "Erana!" He found her at last, as usual, hovering above some plants, guiding their growth.
"Yes, my love?" she asked in her soothing, calm, and yet powerful voice.
"I need to know why the Tritons are attacking a ship that is sailing near our island," Devon explained. He described the ship to her.
She frowned. "I don't need to find out why from Hippolyta. I can tell you." From there, the powerful sorceress began her tale...
"Many ages ago, there were the first worshippers of the Dark One Avoozl -- not Amon Tillado of Mordavia, who you surely will remember hearing of." Devon nodded, for he remembered the tales of the Mad Monk quite clearly. "He was exposed to the ideas of the Dark One by a group known as the Dark Paladins. They were once Paladins like you, or your Liontaur friend Rakeesh. However, they were somehow twisted into warriors for evil. They were involved in the Marid Iblis' first attempt to destroy the world, the creation of the Dragon of Doom whom we recently defeated. Worst of all, they were, as I said, the ones who planted the idea of summoning Avoozl to this world into Amon Tillado's head."
"And I have, these many years later, thwarted all of their plans," Devon realized.
Elsewhere in Glorianna, in the city of Tarna, things seemed completely peaceful. The bazaar, as usual, was bustling. The Liontaur Paladin Rakeesh sah Tarna, limping slightly as always, padded through the busy marketplace with his wife Kreesha Mar Asha. The merchants cried out, trying to draw attention to themselves.
"Oil for stopping the squeaky hinge on your door! Fine scented oils! Oils for cooking!" "Purchase the sharpest [[Fine Spears|spears] in all Tarna! The finest of daggers!" "Get your newly used items here! Gas masks? Moose heads? We got 'em!" "Beads! Very fine beads!" The shouts were overwhelming, but they were the usual sounds of the bazaar.
And then, in Rakeesh's head, they seemed to fade. His danger sense was overpowering the noise. "Are you alright?" he could barely hear Kreesha ask.
Rakeesh did not answer. He was scanning the crowds for the source of the danger. The danger did not seem to be emanating from any particular source, although he could tell it was in the area. And it was growing.
And then he passed out.
Rakeesh awoke hours later with a headache that felt as though his skull was splitting open. He opened his mouth to ask what had happened, but he was instantly hushed by those in the room.
He was in the backroom of the apothecary's shop. Since Salim Nafs had left Tarna, shortly after Devon had thwarted the demonic invasion of the kingdom, the apothecary had been taken over by man who had traveled across Glorianna learning the art of healing in various lands. The man, Birch, had proven many times that he was as adept an apothecary as Salim had been. Now, however, he looked quite helpless.
"My dear Rakeesh," he said, his soothing voice wracked with worry, "I am afraid I have done all I can. I cannot find a reason for your faint in the bazaar except possibly..." He paused and bit his bottom lip. "Perhaps your paladin abilities? I know nothing of them."
"I did sense danger just before the world went black," Rakeesh managed to croak out. As he was becoming more aware, he realized that his injured leg, which had been injured many years ago by a demon the first time they had attempted to invade his beloved homeland, was stinging as well.
"There was no danger there," Reeshaka, the Liontaur Paladin's daughter pointed out. "All was peaceful in the bazaar today." She was one of the city's guards and knew of everything that occured within the walls of Tarna.
"Is it possible that in your old age, your paladin abilities are beginning to betray you?" Birch suggested.
Rakeesh shook his head. "Something is not right in this city, and I intend to find out what." He tried to sit up, but Birch and Reeshaka quickly pushed him back into a lying position. He knew they were right -- he was in no condition to stand.
At that moment, the bead curtain parted and Kreesha entered the room. "Rakeesh, you are needed in Silmaria as soon as you are well enough," she announced, "The city is under siege."
...to be continued...