Naturria was an old planet when I was born, and my power manifested to its fullness. There were dangers all around me, but I was never afraid of dying, I was very much afraid of not living. We lived in a village at the base of the Dragon Mountain. Some of our people lived in homes carved into the mountainside. It was a time when magic was full of danger and excitement. It is told in our history that we came from the stars and that our Mages were much more powerful when we arrived. Many of the elders still spoke of the mountain as being the source that siphoned our mage powers. There was a curse placed on mountain thousands of years ago by evil magic, and anyone who dared enter the cave’s entrance, never returned.
My family was the strongest mages left on the planet, and we were the rulers of our society. Some men in his hunting party betrayed and murdered my father. Time would reveal his murderers to my mother and me, and why he died. I would learn later that my mother was a powerful mage and chose not to reveal the murderers. Perhaps she thought it was for my safety. My mother was fifteen months pregnant when he died. I felt his death from the womb. When he died, his power became mine. I saw three men attacking him, but they cloaked their faces. My reaction to his death almost killed my mother when I reacted in her womb. She used her magic to calm me.
When the hunting party returned, they came to our home. They explained that my father had fallen into a deep ravine and did not survive. Mother knew better; Father was too powerful a Mage to fall to his death. He could control the air molecules around him, so he would never have hit the ground. She knew they murdered him, but she would wait until the right time to exact her revenge. When the time came, I would be that revenge, and it would be a revenge served hot, molten hot! My mother eyed the men and nodded her head. Now she understood why I exploded into kicking in her womb. The surge of power entered my body. And thus, she endured the pain. When a second hunter spoke, the voice caused me to react again. He was the man who struck and killed my father, and now he stood before my mother and lied. My mother looked deep into his eyes and nodded. When the men finished, she stood and walked into our home. She was the ruler now, and she would have to choose a mate in six months after the mourning period ended.
There is a little natural magic in all of us. It is a gift from Naturria. However, every century, a child is born different. I was that child. There was a gathering of the elders to discuss how to protect me and the village. They could already feel me in my mother’s womb. When my mother gave birth, my magic spread all over the village, touching all the things in this world. It was different now; my mother could not shield my probing, and it was exhilarating. It worried the elders; they could feel my power, and my existence was a threat to our people, no elder could remember a time when a child would be born with the level of power I had in the womb. They felt they had to protect me; if the Sheltak homed in on me, they could destroy the settlement in their search for me.
The Shaman cast a spell to cloak my magic, but even he strained to suppress it, and he was the strongest of the elders. When the rumbling started in the Yellow Forest, they knew what that meant. The Sheltaks were coming, and it sounded like a lot of them. They all looked at each other and shook their heads. I made a noise behind them and; they spun around. I was standing just outside our home. The elders stared at me; I was four days old, and I was already the size of a seven-year-old. My growth was because of the power I absorbed from my father at the moment of his death. That was the secret of our lineage, passing our Mage abilities. I did not know at the time that my mothers’ power far exceeded my fathers.
The rumbling in the forest grew louder behind them. The elders didn’t react to the sound at first; they were still staring at me, puzzled by my growth.
The crashing sound in the forest grew closer, and a few of them turned to see what was coming. Novaj laughed; the Sheltak scouts were watching him.
The shaman walked up to me, “do you realize the danger you have brought upon the village, he asked?”
I motioned the elder into silence.
“I will protect the village.”
Novaj stood there with a devious smile on his face, watching the Yellow Forest. There were more crashing sounds; evil was coming. He had been planning this fight for nine months. There were many nights he could feel dark magic swirling around his mother stomach. She was asleep, but her magic protected them. Novaj levitated a few inches off the ground and drifted over to face the threat coming to decimate the village. That would not happen. Things would be different in the world now, there would be different rules now, and he would make them!
The trees at the edge of the Yellow Forest exploded as the Sheltak King burst into view. He was massive. He slid to a stop about fifty yards from the shaman and Novaj.
“There is powerful magic in this village. We have been sensing it for thirteen months. A few days ago, there was a massive power surge of pure energy. Which means the child has been born. I need his energy to conquer the rest of the planet. Where is the child, tell me, and I might spare your miserable lives,” he growled?
Novaj took a step forward, “what shall we call you, your name please, and you can have the boy,” said Novaj.
“I am King Grimu, ruler of the Sheltak, and who are you child, addressing me in this manner?”
“I am Novaj, protector of this village and defender of the realm.”
King Grimu smiled, “I told you my name, now where is the child?”
Novaj turned to the elders and told them to take cover.
The elders ran for the safety of their homes.
Having received his fathers’ power and battle strategy, he was ready for this first fight. He could feel his mother standing in the doorway of their home. He turned to her and smiled. She returned a half-smile, she was fearful. Novaj turned to Grimu, King of the Sheltaks.
“Now, let’s get this over with, I am the child you seek, said Novaj, what can I do for you?”
Grimu looked at Novaj, “you cannot be the child; he was born four days ago you are at least six or seven. What are you trying to pull, give me the child!”
“I am the child you seek, and I will ask once more what you want with me?”
King Grimu stood there, contemplating his next move. If this was the child, how had he grown so fast? He sent a mental probe to sense the power the child harnessed. It was unthinkable that a child could harness so much energy. He took a step forward, and Novaj rose from the ground. Grimu thought he had an advantage because he had a third arm that lay hidden along his right leg.
Novaj smiled, “if you swing your third arm, you will lose it.”
Grimu stopped; he was almost close enough to strike the child.
“How do you know about my third arm, the only person who ever lived from an attack was — Yes, he was my father, and I have all of his battle strategies, so I will ask you to leave our village, or I will destroy all of you.”
“What do you mean all of us? I am the only one here,” said Grimu.
“Then you will not mind if I destroy the ten Sheltak hiding in the woods?”
Novaj extended his hand with his palm up. He closed his hand in a forward motion, and the bushes behind Grimu came alive with the Sheltak as he pulled them forward. When they were out in the open Novaj asked Grimu again, “So, you do not mind If I kill these Sheltak I pulled from the forest?”
Grimu looked at the Sheltak standing behind him, one of which was his son.
“Ahh, your child is among the group. If you have something you want to say to him before he perishes, now is the time.”
Novaj summoned more power and felt the mountain shake deep within itself. The rumors were true. Dragon Mountain was a source of power. Novaj pointed at the first Sheltak, and he turned to dust. He looked to the next Sheltak, and he turned to dust. He continued to go down the line until he reached the king’s son.
King Grimu raised his hands, “don’t kill my son; we will leave!”
The King and his son turned to walk into the forest when his third arm swung from his body and threw a large knife at Novaj; it was heading for his heart. Novaj did not budge. The knife hit its mark and pierced his heart and continued through his body. Novaj heard his mother scream, and the elders were cringing in their doorways. Novaj reached behind him and caught the knife. When he brought his hand around to the front of his body, he was holding the knife and looking at King Grimu. He looked at the blade; it was beautiful. Then his gaze returned to King Grimu, he raised his hand and made a fist, they all watched as he crushed Grimu into a ball of bloody flesh.
Novaj turned to the king’s son, “You are King now, rule your people. Do not come to this village again or I will hunt every one of your kind until you are extinct, is that clear!”
“It is clear,” said the new King.
Novaj could see the hatred in his three eyes. The new King reached down and removed the rings from his fathers’ hands. He reached deep into the pile of jellied flesh and retrieved the royal shield. He turned and walked into the Yellow Forest. He looked back once more at Novaj, who was standing there holding the imperial knife. The new King vowed he would return that knife to his people. If it took two hundred years, someone in his lineage would retrieve the Imperial blade of Sheltak.
Novaj could sense Grimu II was still traveling to the other side of the forest. He lowered himself to the ground and collapsed. The power received from his father, and the mountain was almost too much for him to control. His fathers’ voice instructed him how to deal with the Sheltaks. He had two thoughts before he passed out. He thanked his father, and the second thought was of venturing into the mountain to find the source of the surge of power he received. Then there was darkness. He was asleep for three days. While he slept, Lola could see the magic weaving itself around his body. A few times, the magic lifted him off his bed, and he would levitate there for hours. At one point, Novaj’ body was in total darkness, and it worried Lola. She didn’t know what it was doing to him, but she could not interfere. Blackness meant evil in their world. The darkness slid off him, and he lowered onto his bed. Lola was his mother, but she knew when the rituals were over, he would never again be the son she gave birth to. He would be something different. She knew the chosen one never remembered his family after the ritual, so she prepared for that whenever he woke up. The second night he burst into flames, but nothing was burning around him. He was aflame throughout the night. When the sun rose on the fourth morning, his body absorbed the fire.
He turned his head, “Hello, Mother.”
It surprised Lola, “You know who I am,” she exclaimed, as the tears ran down her face?
“I know who you are, you are my mother and Queen of Naturria. As of this moment, you do not have to pick a chosen after the mourning period. My birthright is to be King, but I abdicate that responsibility to you. I have some things to correct around Naturria, in some areas, Naturrians are in bondage.”
Lola looked at her son, “You are so young, how can you go on missions to save the world?”
“The reason the chosen come every thousand years is to fix the wrongs people inflict on the helpless, and to restore Naturria to a healthy planet,” replied Novaj.
“I know, said his mother, when do you have to leave,” she asked?
“I will call a council meeting tonight and inform the elders you will rule our kingdom in my absence. I will clarify that the rules of mourning do not apply, my father lost his life by betrayal and murder, and if that is not sufficient, I will deal with the objections!”
Council Meeting and Mission
The council members representing every kingdom on Naturria were present when Queen Lola and Novaj entered the chamber. They stood up when they saw her and waited until she sat.
The head of the council spoke, “Queen Lola, why have we convened the council when our regular session is in two weeks?”
Novaj placed a hand on his mother’s shoulder, “may I,” he asked his mother?
“Yes, you may,” she said.
“The Queen did not call the council meeting, I did,” said Novaj.
“You have no authority to call a council meeting, what does this mean,” shouted one man who did not rise when the queen walked in!
Novaj did not acknowledge the interruption. “I am the rightful heir to the throne of Naturria. However, I must address some urgent matters around the planet. In my absence, my mother will rule Naturria.”
The same man who interrupted Novaj jumped to his feet, “and if you are not back before the end of the six-months of mourning, then what?”
“Oh yeah that, the six-month mourning period no longer applies. Queen Lola will rule Naturria alone unless she finds a man, she would consider a worthy mate.”
“You can’t change the rules of our society because you want to, it doesn’t matter who your father was, you can’t do this. At the end of the six-month mourning period, she will pick a mate, or she will abdicate the throne!”
“It is interesting you should mention my father. Would you care to explain to the council why you killed him? You and your two companions walked up behind him and delivered a fatal blow and threw him into a ravine. I am eager to hear your tale of why you murdered him. The floor is yours.”
“Killed your father! You are delirious, I had nothing to do with your father’s death!”
“Then perhaps one of your friends will tell the story. The three of you are guilty, and the three of you will receive the same sentence of death. Did you think my mother would accept one of you as her mate?”
The third man who remained quiet jumped to his feet, “It was not for us, they paid us to kill him so that—The first loudmouth swung his hand, and the quiet man fell forward with a slit throat. The council members scrambled to get away from the carnage.
The man who slit his companion’s throat started walking towards Novaj.
“The mourning period of six months will stand, and there is nothing you can do to stop it!”
The man was about four feet from Novaj when the floor turned into molten lava. His body melted in a matter of minutes, but everyone in the room would hear his screams for months. Novaj pulled the man with the slit throat forward and dropped him into the pit of lava. The third man could not move.
Novaj walked towards him, “your companion was about to tell me who hired you to kill my father, and I gather it was to ascend to the throne. Who put you up to this?”
The man was trying to speak, but his fear had rendered him mute. When he stopped shaking enough to speak, he was about to name the mastermind behind the scheme when an arrow whistled through the air and pierced him through the eye. All eyes turned to the assailant standing in the hall’s entrance. A black figure that vaporized. Novaj turned to his mother; she looked terrified. There was a conspiracy, and the goal was to claim the throne of Naturria. Novaj placed a shield around his mother and led her out of the hall. The council members scattered to any available exit.
Novaj and his mother reached their home, and he placed a spell around the house to protect her. He needed answers, and he needed them before he went out into the world. Someone wanted the throne, and they wanted her at their side.
“Mother, why would someone kill father, but make it clear they want the throne and you with it?”
“I’m not sure, son, it is all so strange,” she said.
Novaj made a mental note that she was speaking to him with her back turned to him. Novaj walked around her, and when he saw her face, she had a look of terror still.
“Mother, what is wrong, why are you so frightened?”
“I don’t want to cause you any harm, son; there are people trying to rule the world on the surface. Today was the boldest attempt so far to keep their plans secret.”
“What do you mean people, asked Novaj? I thought your family was one of the high-bred families from the other side of Naturria, at least that is the memory father has of you.”
“Yes, that is the memory your father has of me because I planted it in his mind when he found me wandering in the red forest. The elves of Dragon Mountain were hunting me. Your father jumped into the fray and rescued me, just as one of your ancestors had since they crashed landed on Naturria centuries ago.”
“Wait, are you saying you have wed each of my forefathers,” asked Novaj?
“Yes, said Lola, but let me explain before you think I am a monster. I am from the Mountain Elves of the clan Draco. I am Queen of the elves. My father, the King of Lindor, died at the hands of an evil mage many centuries ago. So my mother made me run out of the mountain. I ran, and I kept running until I saw daylight. Most elves have never been to the surface. It was exciting and terrifying at the same time. I stood at the mouth of the massive cavern too long, and I heard the militia coming, so I started running again. They almost captured me when your father jumped out of nowhere and took on the elves. He killed six, and the other two ran back to the cave. The truth, I made your father see the elves. He killed the images I conjured for him to see. Every time one of your forefathers died, I would create the same scenario. Now here is the part I hope makes sense of this story. We elves can be reborn, if we chose to. I would go deep into the forest and build a cocoon. I would transform in the cocoon for two months, then be reborn. I kept my memories, which was not always easy. I loved some of your forefathers much more than others.”
“And what of your feelings for my father,” asked Novaj?
“Your father, I adored. Each time the ritual of the chosen one took place before you, they awoke with no memory of who I was. Each of them wandered off into the world and never saw them again. When you said hello mother, I knew something had changed. I don’t know what changed, but something is different. So, the three men killed in the council chamber were elves in disguise, and the specter we saw in the entrance, was a dark elf called Belaur, he is a powerful mage, and he killed that elf for the usurper, King Akkar. He killed my father and killed anyone who defied him. His intent is to marry me. Since I am part of the royal bloodline, any child we produce could wield the Dragon Sword. With that sword, he could control the kingdoms underground, and I am sure he would not stop there. So, that is my story.”
“Mother, if you are an elf, why do you look like one of us?”
Queen Lola stepped back and snapped her fingers. She transformed into the most beautiful black elf, right down to the long wavy hair and the tiny lines that looked like roots from the forest. She was tiny, and her pointy ears stuck out through her hair.
“Is this the face you were born with,” asked Novaj?
“Yes, this is my original face,” she replied.
“Wow, so there are elves, black elves, he asked in amazement? You are beautiful; I wish father could have seen you like this.”
Lola lowered her head, “your father was different, the night I conceived you, this is how your father saw me. He was the most loving gentleman I have ever known. He was my hero.”
Novaj walked over and hugged his mother.
“So, what is your Elven name, Your Highness?”
“It is Alasea Maplehorn.”
“Hmm, Novaj Maplehorn, that is a powerful name.”
Lola’s face was grave, “you can never say that name outside this house, it could get you killed. There are Elven spies everywhere. So, the answer to your original question is, Akkar wants to breed me so he can conquer the world. There have been mage wars going on for centuries, but the elves always stayed out of the minor battles between the smaller kingdoms. Akkar wants nothing more than to march into battle with the Dragon Sword and conquer the Middle Realm and the surface of Naturria. It has powerful old magic. In the right hands, it can restore the balance of power to the kingdoms.”
“So, would I be able to wield this sword,” asked Novaj?
“Yes, you would be able to, oh no, you are not going into the mountain, if Akkar discovers who you are, you would in danger of being captured and made a slave or drained of your power. No male child of the lineage of Maplehorn may live.”
“Well, for whatever the reason, when I was facing King Grimu, the mountain sent me a boost in power, so I think something is calling me home, Queen Alasea.”
Lola walked across the room and sat down.
“Maybe the legends are true, that one day a child of the light would free the middle kingdoms of Draco. Since you remembered who I was, my time here is growing short.”
“No, you will remain here and rule until I return. Am I able to transform into an elf?”
“Yes, you can, but please heed my words, the middle kingdom is no place to become a hero.”
“Mother, I was born a hero, and the mountain touched me, and one day I will answer that call. Your magic is as strong or stronger than mine, so I don’t have to worry as much. I will scout around the village and see if there is anything out of the ordinary. Oh, put your ears away.”
Lola laughed, “I am not as powerful as you, she said, but I am strong. It has been so long since I felt my skin, but you are correct I better put my ears away.” Novaj slipped out of the front door and asked his mother to lock it behind him.