This is a weird little thing that popped into my head while I was staring at Mt. [deleted for confidentiality]
Doom on the confidentialness. Ah well.
This is set maybe 25 years after King Valdemar weaves his Herald-spell and creates the Heralds. At least, the main story is.
The Southern Haighlei have it different.
This is sooo confusing. Um...the first bit is set in Arrows, and a Haighlei Bard is telling the story-I'll just put in an A/N, this is going on too long.
I am assuming that the country is very hot and has never seen snow or ice. And I have NO clue as to what the instrument is-the muses are dictating at me. And the entire becoming a goddess thing...well, basically, it was a volcano and being a typical Herald-Mage.
Muses responsible: Scheherezade and Krathnae...I assume this is his disciplinary punishment project.
*stars* are the Haighlei language, :colons: are Mindspeech, and "quotes" are Valdemaran, for the record.
-During Arrows in the southernmost Haighlei country-
A Bard stands in front of his audience, playing slow chords on a peculiar stringed instrument. *Hear, then the story of our Storm Goddess and her Cloudsteed, so you may remember and pass it on.*
His strong dark hands suddenly rippling up the strings in a glissando, he begins to half-sing the original Prophecy, written in Old Haighlei.
*When the mountain which spits fire
Awakens from its sleep,
The demon living within
Raises its head and screams
A challenge to the sky
It pours liquid fire
Down the slopes
As the people stare
Then run for their lives.
Then, the Stormrider
Upon her Cloudsteed,
Both white as purest marble,
Blue eyes blazing in fury
She points her sword of lightning
At the demon.
The battle roars
As darkness and light
Battle for their lives.
A final word-
The demon falls
As the Rider and her Steed
Blaze with light and
Bring the demon to despair.
Stormrider and her Cloudsteed
Vanish from the barren ground
Ascending to the sky
As a bell tolls.*
The Bard then begins the story. *It so begins that a city lay upon the slopes of a mountain...yet it was unknown that the very mountain they lived upon sheltered a demon both great and terrible, ready to awaken at a moment's touch and devour the city...*
Quick AN! This is the Haighlei version of the tale, as it was passed down for hundreds of years. Now, travel back centuries ago, past Talia, past Lavan, past Vanyel, past Sunsinger and Shadowdancer-to 42 years after King Valdemar's death, when one particular Herald-Mage came into her full power.
Meira strolled down the halls of Herald's Collegium to Companion's Field, resplendent in her new Whites. :So you deign to visit me at last?: came the jesting voice of her Companion, Zurina.
:Oh, piffle. You know full well the Heraldic Circle has been making me do magical maintenance work for the past few days!:
:Hardly the first thing one normally does once they earn their Whites.:
:Well, I am one of the youngest Adepts among the Heralds...I guess they want me to prove that I'm worthy, or something.:
:Well, couldn't your worthiness wait until you've come and given me a good grooming?:
Meira startled a passing servant with a bark of laughter, given for no apparent reason.
:It can wait, brighteyes. As it is, I've been waiting too long to see you.:
Meandering out into the full sunlight, Meira headed towards Companion's Field, where one particular Companion waited at the fence.
Slipping through the fence-bars, Meira hugged Zurina around her neck.
"I bet you do," murmured Meira, following Zurina towards the stables.
Mere moments later, Zurina stood contentedly in the sunlight as Meira curried her.
:So, what's our first assignment, now that all your worthiness is proven?: asked Zurina.
"Well, according to the Seneschal, I'll probably be Gating down to the Comb and swatting mountain bandits."
:Sounds fun...except for the mountains part.:
"Why are you complaining? You have four legs to balance yourself!"
:Well, you get to sit on my back while I do all the work.:
Meira smacked Zurina. "All right...YOU cast the Gate and you do the bandit- swatting."
:Thank you, no.:
:As are you.:
Several candlemarks later, Meira was summoned to the Dean's office. "Sorry to rush you like this, but we've just received another report from the Comb."
Meira stiffened. "Bad?"
"Just about half the village of Snowspring were killed or taken prisoner. We've got a Herald there-think you can Gate down?"
"I can be ready in half a candlemark. Then-give me a day to recover, and I'll go bandit-hunting."
The Dean nodded. "Gods go with you..." he said as Meira went to pack.
Meira packed swiftly, putting on her Field Whites and making sure she had her focus-stone, an almost fist-sized piece of blue quartz.
Belting on her slender sword, Meira looked into the mirror at the Herald who stood there.
:First assignment-let's do this,: came Zurina's voice.
Meira picked up her packs and headed back to Companion's Field.
Zurina stood there, her Field tack in place, her mane and tail waving slightly in the wind.
Meira fastened her packs and waved good-bye to those who had come to watch her depart, then rode as Zurina went to the Chapel in the Grove.
Raising her hands, Meira's power flowed easily into the frame.
Building delicately, she wove the spell into a Gate, which opened on a snowy landscape, draining power from her like blood from a wound.
Holding the pommel of her saddle to keep herself steady, Meira waved at the Heralds gathered to watch her leave, then turned back towards her Gate.
Zurina stepped forward slowly and smoothly, jarring Meira as little as possible.
Giving a little hop, they leapt through the Gate-
The Death Bell boomed above them as Meira gasped with the pain of a fellow Herald's death-
Zurina and Meira whirled and twisted in the Void-
Then, a force larger than any power they had encountered before shoved-
And Zurina and Meira found themselves standing in the hot, bright sunlight of a land neither of them had ever seen before.
:Where the nine hells are we?: asked Meira, panicking as Zurina shifted into a fighting stance.
:I don't know, but you strap yourself into the saddle and hold still,: said Zurina as Meira buckled herself into her seat, the exhaustion overtaking the rush of adrenalin.
A small child ran out of a nearby farmer's hut-a black child, dark-skinned from head to toe.
He stared at them, then ran back into the hut, shrieking something in a strange language.
That was weird.
I will continue...once I work on Face in the Crowd...and Wings...and rewriting Hindsight and Clans...and more of Kamaria...and I've left Liluye alone too long, so scary things are probably happening in her branch...stupid mercs and their parties.