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My name is Quinton Foote and stories are my life. Whether it be through film and television or literature I have always found myself easily swept off my feet and taken to other worlds. Growing up on Vancouver Island, B.C. I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by some of the world's most breathtaking nature. This was the main inspiration for the Great Northern Rainforest of Litore. During Covid restrictions, I turned my narrative talents to writing my first novel, The Mighty Ven Devar.

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Join our group of interesting adventurers in the dangerous and magical world of Litore. Click either title below to take your first step into a new world.

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Enjoy chapter 1 below!

Hook: After a Kyst Warrior saves a lost traveller, his entire world is flipped upside down as he is forced to embark on the first step of his greater purpose in life.

Synopsis: A social beacon, The Kyst Elf known as Ven Devar is the jewelled citizen of the great Northern Rainforest. Yet he has never felt anything more than an outcast around his people. After rescuing a woman belonging to a rare humanoid species known as the ShadowScorn, Ven and Scáth share an immediate connection. Upon providing shelter, a promise is made to see Scáth return safely to her home halfway across the continent. As her abductors come searching, Ven and his city suffer greatly. Forcing him out beyond the Rainforest for the very first time to experience the brutally harsh reality of Litore. Joined by a worldly Gnome and a profoundly unique Wolf, the adventurers embark on righting the wrong that saw Scáth ShadowScorn ripped from her people. The journey sees more hardships and lessons necessarily learned than any could have imagined before setting off.

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Ven Devar would often lay with his feet dangling over a cliff edge, head resting in the thick grass, dreaming of far-off places. In his 33 short years, this Kyst Elf had never found a sense of belonging among the other Kyst Elves in Silva. He was tall and slender with tightly corded muscles, toned by deep-sea diving and scaling trees that truly brushed the sky. His dark green hair swept past his pointed ears. His skin was that the colour of rain clouds or an angry ocean, both complementing his ability to camouflage in the ocean and forest. The Kyst called the rugged coastlines and lush Rainforests of Litore their home, adapting to it with grace. The citizens of Silva built their homes high above the threats of the forest floor in gigantic cedar trees.
The Kyst, like all Elves of Litore, were direct decedents of gods long past. They would accomplish much in their millennia of life. And yet so far, little of it interested Ven. His people were Sages and Hunters. They studied the forest and ocean, subsequently writing down their findings, or went fishing and hunting for the city. Tradition and Perfection ruled all here, and though he valued both, Ven was at his apex when he could use his creative genius. He outperformed most, simply for his ability to look beyond the ordinary.
He was, more than once, accused of spoiling a week-long hunt for refusing to kill the animal. He could never find the words to explain it, but he always felt as though he had made a deep connection with the animal. When he got close to the kill, he always felt hunted and feared for his own life. This would only further annoy his fellow Hunters as it was widely accepted that the orphan Kyst, known as Ven Devar, was the most talented Hunter in all of Silva. In truth, Ven was nearing the end of another expedition and had briefly forgotten where he was. 
“Whimpering, do you hear it?” whispered Qiri, who lay on his belly next to Ven in a more focused manner. Ven slowly rolled onto his stomach and crawled the short distance to his companion. He closed off his other senses, opening his mind to the sounds around him. It was a cacophony of beauty. Wind orchestrating tall grass, crashing waves relentlessly dragged back into the ocean. He focused through the SeaRaven’s cawing, then the chitters of woodland creatures. Ven’s senses were unparalleled in nature, and he quickly heard the occasional pained exhalation from a beast he could tell was a Bull Elk deeper into the woods.
“Sounds injured.” Ven’s tone betrayed the restful look on his face.
“If we venture off, I fear we may spoil our entire week’s tracking of these PumaSheep,” replied Qiri evenly. He was over a decade older than Ven, but he truly valued the creativity. 
“It wouldn’t be the first time we came back empty-handed,” Ven retorted. 
Qiri sat up, his dark-walnut hair and forest green skin popped vividly now, he wanted it too. “True, but the folks of Silva count on us to bring the most back.”
Ven also sat up and brushed back his long hair and dawning his hood. The pair resembled the pinnacle of Silva’s finest Kyst Hunters. Both adorned in brown wool cloaks with baggy sleeves tucked neatly under their bracers. The finery of the cloak was bolstered by an embroidered gold leaf pattern along the edges.
“We will find a way to make up for it,” Ven suggested. “We can fish tomorrow and easily bring back a boat full if we lose the trail today.” He was already quietly moving through the grass toward the whimpering. Qiri could only muster a smirk for Ven’s ease of breaking the rules, so he cautiously followed behind. 
As the pair walked farther into the gargantuan cedar trees and wide-sprouting ferns, the bellow of a beast emanated louder. Soon Ven found a thick trail of blood. He waved for Qiri to keep up as he increased his speed. He felt his heart pounding and a sense of pain wash over his body. He focused through it as he climbed over a fallen tree to find a wounded Elk laying in a boggy patch of dirt. The tree was nearly nine metres off the ground; the two hunters pausing on the lip of it. Qiri stood up and knocked an arrow in his longbow. Ven arose and put out a hand to stay his shot.
“I’ll do it. I want a closer look.” Ven scaled down the belly of the massive fallen tree and landed firmly in soft, upturned dirt. His heart raced quicker with each footstep and with every haunting exhalation of pain from the beautiful animal. Ven walked up to the Elk laying on its side, breathing heavily and with difficulty. A single arrow shaft emerged from behind its elbow, most likely striking the beast’s lungs. Judging by the amount of blood that soaked its entire side, Ven could tell the majestic beast had been suffering this fate for at least two days. Much of the flesh surrounding the wound had begun to fester, spoiling the use of its meat. 
Ven pulled out his short-sword and said a quick but meaningful prayer to Āina, God of Forests, for the safe journey of this soul from our realm to the next. Then Ven wasted no time in plummeting his sword into the Bull Elk’s heart, ending the torment. He felt his own heart skip a beat when the sword passed through the beast’s heart. But then the anxiety passed over the Kyst as quickly as it came, and familiar anger replaced it.
Ven yanked on the arrow shaft and cleaned it off with a bit of water from his canteen. As he studied the craftsmanship of the arrowhead and feathers, he was interrupted by his companion.
“Need me to come down or we can get a move on?” 
Ven put the arrow in his own quiver and scaled the fallen tree again, catching up to Qiri, who had already gone to pick up their last trail. Night had fallen and the accomplished duo of Hunters sat on a beach near a small fishing boat, with no rewards. Qiri added sticks to a fire that was cooking fish on hot rocks.
Ven was nestled up against a sand dune that butted against the forest floor, his large cloak sheltering him. He sat very still, staring at the arrow he had taken from the Elk. The older Kyst tucked into his meal and noticed a familiar look on Ven’s face.
“Why did you keep it?” asked Qiri impassively between bites. Devar kept his eyes on the arrow.
“I know who did it. When I see him, he’ll know the pain of that Elk.” 
Qiri raised his eyebrow but continued eating. After another few moments of heavy silence, Qiri inquired about the owner of the arrow.
“Who is the Hunter responsible then?” 
Ven looked to Qiri and remained silent before returning his gaze. 
“Well, you can’t kill whoever it was for what they did. And you would be nothing but a child for thinking otherwise.” 
Ven pulled his hood tight and went into a night of meditative sleep. “You must learn to control your feelings, Ven. For everyone’s sake,” muttered Qiri, although he wasn’t sure Ven was even listening. 
Ven retrieved himself from his meditative state; it was so easy to slip in and out of a sleep that offered proper rest. He awoke to find Qiri sailing a small boat some distance offshore the full light of day not yet on the horizon. He immediately felt a pang of guilt for sleeping, since it was largely his fault they had missed out on the PumaSheep. He took off his leather chest armour and boots, readied his trident, and walked comfortably into the ocean. He loved being underwater; the way the waves bounced against his eardrum made it seem like the whole world had faded away. The fish swam without care and always looked at peace. Often Ven would find peaceful meditation underwater, in some safe nook along the seafloor, becoming one with the ocean and its surroundings.
By the end of the day, they had caught two dozen salmon and three baskets of shellfish to bring back. All in all, what they had caught by day’s end would average what most hunting parties would catch over the whole expedition.
That evening, the duo found themselves in the elegantly carved Hunter’s Hall that perched precariously among the many enormous sprouting trunks of an Arbutus tree. It sat proudly near the centre of Silva, with two massive statues of Kyst Hunters looking down on all those who entered. After they had dropped off their game, Qiri couldn’t get a word in before Ven stormed off to find whoever injured the Elk.
Ven often thought he had the patience for too much in life, but he could never let the laziness and cruelty of half-killing an animal go unpunished. The Hunters in the corridors all collectively turned to watch Ven clutching a blood-stained arrow as he stormed his way to the common room. It agitated him further knowing the only reason they were staring was because of his reputation, which he despised in and of itself. 
Soon the doors to the common room were flung open, revealing a large, vaulted hall made from ancient mahogany. The walls were lined with several crackling fireplaces, bookshelves, tactical maps, with various spots of comfort. It was customary for the Hunters to wear their full gear inside the hall, so Ven was confident he could find the quiver this arrow belonged. Pausing in the centre of the room, he looked around with intensity, breathing far heavier than he realized. Several clusters of Kyst paused to look back at him with wide eyes. An Elder named Andil arose from his comfy seat next to a fire.
“Is everything all right, Devar?” His voice sounded dry with age.
Ven spotted his target, who was awkwardly shifting behind a comrade to hide. Ven could hear his own heart pounding as he stoically approached the Hunter known as Ehan. Ehan was a Kyst 400 years into his role and had recently begun causing trouble on hunts. Once Ehan knew Ven was on to him, he stood proud and taller than the approaching, smaller Kyst, easily outweighing Ven by nearly 40 kilograms. Ven shoved the bloody arrow against Ehan’s leather chest armour.
“Tell everyone where you left this.”He said loudly enough for the whole room to hear.
“I seem to not remember?” Ehan replied, feigning ignorance. 
Ven’s eyes ignited at the blatant denial.
“Then let me remind you.” Ven dropped low, spinning on his heel to plunge the arrow deep into the side of Ehan’s thigh. Ehan let out a shocking yelp of pain. Qiri walked in just in time to hear the cry. Ven took it a step further when he continued the spin, leading with his free foot to kick Ehan’s feet out from under him, causing the exceptionally large Kyst to connect hard with the dense floor. Before anyone could react, Ven was on top of Ehan, holding a dagger to his throat, seeing all red. The Elder, Andil, filled the room with an unnaturally booming voice.
“What is the meaning of this, Ven Devar!” 
Qiri dropped his head to the side in disappointment.
“Ehan decided to put an arrow through the lung of a Bull Elk on his hunt but couldn’t be bothered to finish what he started,” Ven explained. “If I am not mistaken, Elder Andil, it was you who passed a law –900 years ago, making such acts punishable by death.”
Ehan’s face filled with genuine terror as he looked into the eyes of a fellow Hunter about to execute his prey. All the other Kyst in the room might as well have been ghosts, for they were silent and still. Ven’s tired voice was replaced by the booming one.
“Yes, but that judgement is not for you to decide nor carry out, Mighty Ven Devar. Now release him,” Andil replied dryly. Ven let go of a whimpering Ehan, tucked his dagger back into one of the many sheaths on his raiment, and stormed out of the common room. Qiri tried to talk to his friend but Ven simply pushed past him.

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Read Chapter 1 Below!

Synopsis: Upon arriving in the City of Shadow, Ven Devar, Scáth ShadowScorn, and their companions are met with an insurmountable siege. The city has been consumed by civil disputes as the royal family and ranking figures quarrel without end. Ven is left with no choice but to seek one of the ShadowScorn’s few allies in the world atop the largest mountain in Litore. Scáth navigates political intrigue and significant personal loss as she becomes the person she was destined to be. Forcing Agan and Athvar to never let down their guard, for no one can trust anyone during The Siege of Shadow.

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It was with great pain that Scáth did not spend her first night back in ShadowScorn by Ven’s side. She wanted more than anything to be there when he first awoke after being rescued off the mountain side. Torvic Gloom, the Arch Priest of Aceia, assured her that he would be fine and would be sleeping for several days. Scáth was denied to go along with the rescue party that retrieved the two Kyst elves. Within the first hour back, the fact she was already being told ‘no’ did not set well with the returned princess. She had instructed Commander Aelis Andula, her dearest and oldest friend, to give her some time before being reunited with her parents. And so, the commander bought Scáth all the time she might need to gather her thoughts. 
The princess walked wearily across the palace hall’s blackglass floor. Her entire body ached, and her heart felt as though it could bear no more stress lest it suddenly stop altogether. She had been a prisoner for months mostly locked in a rod iron cage, concealed by canvas, stuck to a wagon bound west. Only upon the horrible events during one dark and dreary evening, when her captors were struck upon by a hoard of Siphons, was she able to free herself. Her journey for many days after was what now most of her nightmares forced her to relive. A foreign land, lost and alone with brutal mercenaries and horrid monsters on her trail. She did not stop running for two days. Every time she fell, bashing or cutting a limb, she would rise and continue to flee; running blindly with some small glint of hope that whatever was before her could not be as bad as what was behind. As her end seemed nigh and a pack of wolves were nipping at her toes, a stranger had emerged from the darkness. 
“Ven,” wistfully and unconsciously escaped her lips. She was forever grateful for his actions and strong moral belief in doing what was right. She was forced to shake those thoughts from her mind as she passed the last great stained glass window and approached her parent’s private chambers. Scáth paused for a long moment outside the smooth single door. She truly did not want to step inside that room, for it would mean stepping back into her old life. She had grown so much since her abduction; she had learned to trust in her instincts and believe in one’s self. Taking a collection of deep breaths, the fierce Scorn elf opened the door. 
Sitting at a small table next to a brightly burning hearth sat Commander Aelis Andula and Scáth’s mother, Queen Katia. Yet, what her eyes instantly fell upon was her father King Arwr, bent sickly over in his chair wrapped tightly in a fur blanket. Scáth would never forget the two distinct looks that appeared on the faces of her parents. Her mother was clearly caught by surprise at her daughter’s return, and Scáth easily saw through Katia’s predictable attempt to cover her disappointment up with exaggerated tears of joy. Even though her father looked so much worse than she could have imagined, she had never seen such a smile cross his face. Her own eyes filled to the brim with tears after noticing his had already done so. The moment was roughly switched as Katia threw her arms around Scáth, holding her daughter tightly. She didn’t reciprocate the hug at first but did succumb to what was once such a world-securing embrace between mother and daughter. Katia was taken aback by her daughter’s strength as she pushed her away to step towards Arwr. The king stood from his chair to stand proudly and welcome his beloved child back home with open arms. She launched herself against him and rested her face against his bony chest. They held each other for several soul-nourishing minutes before he slightly pulled her back by the shoulders to lock eyes. 
“How is my little shadow?” He asked, with the worry only a father could have for his little girl. That pulled at her heart and she involuntarily gave a deep frown before a cracked chuckle and a wide smile reappeared. 
“Missing her Pa,” she answered softly, responding to her lifelong nickname. They hugged each other once more. It was no secret that the king and his princess were model examples of love among family. Yet, when Aelis looked upon Katia, hesitant to join in on that hug which by all means should have been one of the happiest days in the queen’s life, a great many questions took root in the commander’s mind. Aelis and Scáth grew up as sisters, given that the former Commander of ShadowScorn and closest friend to King Arwr was Brenis Andula, her father. They learned early on in their childhood, that they would go further in life if they supported each other, as their fathers did. After the sudden disappearance of Scáth, Aelis begged the king and queen to let her go after the abducted princess. Perhaps, Arwr would have agreed if there was even a single shred of evidence as to her disappearance. But she had simply vanished without a trace to be followed. Many whispers among the palace were that Scáth had chosen to leave. Yet, those who knew her best understood Scáth would have never considered the abandonment of her people. She was an important figure to the city and loved by all of its citizens. Even so, it was decided with a heavy-heart that no party would be sent after the princess. For surely a band of roaming ShadowScorn would be hunted down, to be murdered or captured and sold into a horrible fate. 
So instead, the king declared that every night, every Scorn citizen would meet in the town’s historic square and mine entrance. As dusk fell to eve, the Priests of Aceia, deity of shadow and the one responsible for their transformation, was called upon. It truly was a sight worthy of the gods. Every night for two months, they gathered, prayed, and asked for the safe return of their beloved Scáth. It was a testament to the love she had for her people; every single one of the ten thousand citizens attended each night’s prayer. 
It was an indisputable fact in the eyes of Aelis, that Katia could barely look at her beaten and worn down child. But why? Katia had known the loss of her first born, Scarnin. Surely knowing a child that was thought to be lost but now returned would be all Katia could desire. Her thought was, however, interrupted by her dismissal from the king. Aelis bowed low and gave Scáth a warm smile before exiting the chamber. Scáth reciprocated, watching her friend take leave, before finally taking a seat. It had been months since she had taken a proper seat around a proper table. 
“Tell us everything,” Arwr begged as Katia sat down to join them. “If it’s not too difficult, my dear?” Her mother said with genuine warmth, clearly offering Scáth an opportunity to rest and collect herself first. However, almost immediately, Scáth began to recount the first half of her journey. Although being a heavily guarded prisoner offered little in the way of tales to recount. She then spent a significant portion of the night explaining everything she could about meeting Ven and Athvar, insisting it was Ven’s bravery and Athvar’s experience that brought her home. She told them of the arduous journey; the story she had mostly got second hand about the bog witch and their chance encounter with Agan. She mentioned the girl she had saved from captors much like her own, then the training in combat and survival she received, and finally their trek along Glass Mountain. 
“Now I sit here before you, a different Scorn than the one you raised.” She ended with a heavy gaze set upon her mother. She did not need an answer as to why a party had never been sent for her, that was obvious to the princess and she approved of that decision. She did suspect her mother of having a strange behaviour the few days prior to her disappearance. Katia had become rather cold-hearted when Scarnin died during the siege of Ivan the Revered. When Arwr had fallen sick, some six months ago, Katia had hit a new depth of heartlessness. As memories fluttered throughout her mind, Scáth suddenly remembered an argument she had gotten into with her mother a few cycles before she was taken from her room. They had been arguing over a topic that had grown in frequency as of late, regarding the increasing number of Scorn citizens succumbing to an infectious illness. Katia took the stance that the people were growing weak and lazy. Scáth refused to believe that her mother, who was ever cunning, could have such short sightedness on the matter. Unfortunately, the fights had begun to meld together and she couldn’t recall what exactly was said. 
Katia looked back with tears brimming but quickly threw herself into another hug with Scáth. Arwr gave his daughter a curious stare. He was all too aware of the relationship his dearest women shared: one with the presence of love but a fundamental aversion for each other. It had always been that way, Arwr leaving most arguments the two had to blow away like any storm. Yet, the contempt he heard in Scáth’s voice was more than alarming for the ever devoted father. However, it was late and Scáth still had not found rest since her return. 
“Let us all find dreams of peace. Surely I’ll sleep the deepest now my little shadow is home.” Arwr kissed Scáth’s forehead and stood up with the assistance of Katia. 
“Goodnight, love.” Katia blew Scáth a kiss as she helped Arwr enter an archway that led into their bed chambers. Scáth remained next to the hearth for a long while. Completely motionless, and utterly defeated. The same fear played over and over in her mind, wondering if she had erred in coming back. 

The next morning was spent with her companions in Ven’s recovery room. 
“How long they sayin’ he’ll be like this?” The burly half-orc, half-elf, Agan Dusk bellowed, his large frame hanging over the fur lined arm chair. His red to green gradient skin tone, which he was named ‘Dusk’ for, appeared softened by the dancing flame of a warm hearth. 
“A half-cycle,” answered Athvar’s upbeat and chipper voice. The remarkably dusty gnome lay with his fingers locked on his chest, head resting on the foot board of Ven’s bed. A half-cycle was known as four days in Litore, a full-cycle being eight. It was a common way of keeping track of time in Litore as it followed the rotation of the Caelestis, the largest of the three moons that blotted the sky. Scholars of every civilization had spent millennia trying to better understand those planets that were so close you felt as though you could touch them, but remained so impossibly far away. 
Scáth was quiet, sitting next to the Kyst’s bed and rubbing Faenla between the ears. Athvar and Agan looked to each other, both acknowledging the difficult state of mind Scáth was in. 
“Ya know, Lady Scáth, I was told by one of yar Clerics that goes by thee name of Torvic Gloom, that Ven is to receive some special treatment today.” Athvar offered the good news in hopes that it might relax her. Scáth didn’t look away from Ven, but nodded in response. The gnome looked back to Agan with wide eyes, obviously instructing the brute to chime in. Agan rolled his eyes at the filthy gnome before asking. 
“Perhaps, during that time, you could give us a proper tour? We could attend any meetings you might have, to ensure your comfort in these uncertain times.” Agan finished with a full smile that cracked Scáth’s heart. She wasn’t sure if she had ever seen Agan actually smile before, so it became clear to her how hard he was trying. She got up from the chair that her legs were curled on, flicking her ever misting black hair behind her shoulders. 
“That would be nice, Agan. A tour is the least I could do, considering all you did to get me here.” She was happy to have allies such as these on her already unsteady return home. She planted a kiss on the forehead of Ven and Faenla before exiting with Agan and Athvar. Faenla got up and paced the room a few times before laying back down on the smooth worked stone, curling tightly into a ball at Ven’s right. 
The great wolf was exhausted from the journey like all of the companions. Yet, this beast of the wild had found little comfort in the city thus far. He did, however, look forward to the plate upon plate of raw meat being delivered to him, just as instructed by Scáth. After finally getting comfortable, the wolf felt the stone door shifting the air in the room as it opened. His ears shot up in an attempt to identify who had entered. After failing to recognize the footfalls, the giant wolf sprang up and planted his front paws on Ven’s bed, making Faenla well over two metres tall. He snarled down on a truly terrified ShadowScorn. It was a scrawny Scorn man with tightly kept facial hair and a bald pate that looked like a glossy globe of onyx. He wore tight but stiff black robes, that nearly swept the floor. A faint whimper escaped his trembling lips as he peered up at the malevolent-looking animal. Faenla effortlessly leaped over the bed, forcing the Scorn back a series of strides. His hackles taught, fangs bared, and a low growl threatening every move the Scorn made. Faenla forced the intruder out the door and watched him fumble backwards across the hall to trip over a blackglass bench and collide roughly with the floor. 
“What is the meaning of this, Oren?” Came a shout that further disturbed the intruder. A tall and graceful Scorn human wearing the sigil of ShadowScorn on his ornate robes and the gleaming icon of Aceia around his neck. The priest had thick layers of white and black robes that added a great deal of size to an otherwise slim-built man. 
“This beast just attacked me as I was walking by!” Oren argued while trying to regain some measure of composure. 
“I’ve been assured this particular wolf would not threaten anyone unless he felt his master was in danger.” Torvic walked over to Faenla who was still threatening the intruder. 
“I want him gone, Torvic! As the administrator I demand it!” Oren more confidently insisted as he fumbled back to his feet and smoothed out his attire. 
“Please Faenla, return to his side,” Torvic asked in a calm but firm tone. Faenla eventually backed down, giving a derisive snort before lumbering back into the room. The wolf on all fours was 190 centimetres and far taller than most humanoids on Litore. Torvic closed the door and returned to Oren. 
“Begone from here, Oren. You have no business being near the Kyst in the first place.” He felt as though he was scolding Oren like a child. “I’ll be going where ever I damn please, Torvic. You are the Cleric, I’m the Administrator. Don’t forget it.” Oren attempted to storm off with what minimal dignity he had left. 
“This isn’t a good look for you,” Torvic shouted at his indignant colleague. Torvic Gloom was the Arch Priest of Aceia in ShadowScorn. Which meant his position had constant dealings with the Administrator of ShadowScorn. The title of ‘Administrator’ meant Oren had been elected by the citizens to sit in on every meeting the king and queen had, to ensure the interests of the commoners were never forgotten. The two Scorn men had been serving their stations together for nearly 200 years. In that time, they had seen each other’s every moral tested, broken and weathered through countless trials. Torvic, in his fifth century of life was as keen as ever. Oren on the other hand was only in his third century and seemed off as of late. Regardless, he shook the thoughts from his head and entered the chamber of Ven Devar, ready to deliver his divine healing touch. He immediately saw Faenla sitting rump down at his full height, watching everything Torvic did. 
“They weren’t exaggerating, you really do look like the night sky,” Torvic said to Faenla as the priest walked up beside Ven. The wolf simply starred at the Scorn man, which Torvic found strangely comforting. 
That night, Athvar and Faenla watched over Ven’s rest as Scáth had taken Agan to an important meeting. The pair moved stoically through the magnificent palace halls as many ShadowScorn went about their evening. It utterly unnerved Agan as he counted a dozen Scorn in this hallway alone, and not a single one of them made the slightest sound in their actions. Even the ruffling of their clothes was not to be heard. His memory of the more recent past was still a blur but his skills as a fighter remained razor sharp. Much to the relief of Agan’s discomfort, Scáth suddenly turned right through a small open archway. Quickly following behind her, he was bewildered at the great hall presented before him. A huge slab of blackglass was fastened upon a slightly raised dais. Many elegantly carved thrones surrounded the slab, worked into thin but strong interweaving spirals of blackglass, giving the impression of the chair being made from hundreds of shadowy tendrils. Blackglass was a substance found only in Glass mountain, glossy and slightly translucent, somehow seeming to trap light within it. The Scorn people had perfected the art of strengthening it, and used it to create many wonderful and beautiful objects. The Council Hall had strong pillars surrounding it, supporting an upper balcony where onlookers could observe. Often, ranking members of their army would gather here prior to a battle to be briefed. Agan was still in the archway, standing in awe, when he noticed Scáth beckoning for him to sit beside her. The fighter noticed only Scorn sitting around the table. Nevertheless, he walked up and sat at Scáth’s left with confidence. The half orc-elf had served as a close adviser to the King of Rhogar in the war with the Silver Rock Dwarves, so this process was not entirely foreign to him. 
To Scáth’s right was the king, at the head of the table. Across from the Princess sat the Queen, beside her sat Oren the Administrator. On Agan’s left was Torvic Gloom and at the other end of the table was an Aelis Andula, plated in intricately embossed heavy armour. 
“Let us all thank you once more Agan Dusk, for the aid in seeing my daughter returned home,” Arwr stated proudly before giving a slight seated bow. In turn, everyone, including Scath, bowed their heads out of respect. 
“It was my honour, Your Highness. Though I believe she helped me more than I can say I aided her.” Agan then turned to Scáth, reciprocating the bow he had just received. Scáth smirked, for though she knew he was being honest. She also knew he never complimented without somewhat jesting. 
“Scáth has informed us you served as an advisor to King Dusanith of Rhogar in the ‘War of a Thousand Dragons.” Arwr stated. Everyone looked to Agan in disbelief, except Aelis, who truthfully appeared unimpressed. 
“I did. I found myself in their kingdom when the borderland skirmishes first broke out.” Agan left it there for he spoke little of those years. Too much pain was associated with that period in his life. No one else at the table seemed bothered though, as they were not here to trade stories. 
“Commander, update.” Arwr finished with an especially harsh and wet cough. 
“I sent three scouts, two days past. Only one returned and with minimal information. They are from Renrit but bolstered by Serenstrom as we expected. They had several bands of roaming scouts, which is how our other two perished. Our survivor could not get a full count before he too was hunted.” Aelis was a proud Scorn elf and she was not afraid to show she was wounded by the loss of her two scouts. 
“We couldn’t precisely count them on the last part of the journey but they have brought a formidable army,” Scáth added, alluding to their trek up and along the Glass Mountain. 
“What would you know of war, sweetheart?” Katia added in a tone meant to undercut the value of Scáth’s words. She shot her mother a disgruntled look. 
“I know a great deal about these things. From what I saw, their forces will easily outnumber you three to one,” Agan boomed in support of Scáth. “If however, my guess of your ranks is correct?” He asked, looking to Aelis with his illuminating yellow eyes and a smirk staining his face. She returned a stare that was stern but all too telling. 
“Perhaps I shall scale the mountain soon and see if I can gather a number from there,” Aelis said aloud, happily avoiding the half-orcs comment. 
“I will join you,” Agan said to the commander before looking to the king, hopeful of his support, which he knew he wouldn’t receive after noticing Arwr already shaking his head. 
Aelis laughed mockingly. “You are too, orcish. The path is only a dozen centimetres wide at its easiest.” 
Torvic seemed entertained and thought it refreshing to have an extra voice on the council. He could easily see that Oren was grinding his teeth in frustration. Why was his collegue so irritable of late? That question had been feverishly nagging at Torvic. 
“So then what?” Oren cried out. All turned their collective attention to the administrator. “It’s just, surely there is more that can be done?” He said, trying to mend his unprofessional outburst. Arwr lay a heavy stare upon Oren, causing the scrawny Scorn to uncomfortably adjust in his chair. 
“Of course, as we all know, the proper protocols for a siege are in place.” His voice carried great confidence and power. Agan more than once caught himself swept up in the Scorn King’s words. “This city has withstood hundreds of sieges in its brief existence. We will weather and survive this one as all the others before it.” His tone left little room for debate. 
“When will the Kyst awake?” Katia asked Torvic. Scáth noticed, as was her mother’s intent, that she refused to use Ven’s name. “He has rested nearly three days now. I predict another two or three before he regains consciousness. But he will need a great deal more time to heal.” 
“He doesn’t belong here,” Oren said, first looking to Katia then Torvic. 
“He’s welcome here as long as Scáth permits,” Aelis declared evenly. 
“Scáth has been gone for months. In lieu of what you have seemingly forgotten, need I remind you she is not your king?” Oren shot Aelis a hateful stare. Scáth simply rolled her eyes at the miserable Scorn. Yet it was true, Scáth rarely, if ever, attended these meetings, for the title of ‘princess’ really offered nothing in the way of decision making. After the death of Scarnin, her father did counsel and teach Scáth how to be ruler so that one day she could, but it had rarely happened in the Council Hall. She was here now with Agan only due to the given circumstances. 
“Ven Devar is a welcomed and a most honoured guest in the City of Shadow. As the administrator to its citizens, I suggest you make my word known to all throughout,” Arwr stated calmly, but with a palpable threat directed at Oren. “That goes for everyone,” the king boomed while ending his scowling gaze upon his wife. Agan, all too enthused at the level of intrigue here, watched as Katia dropped eye contact from her husband to the floor. The fighter didn’t miss the look in the queen’s eyes as she stared at Arwr from the corner of her vision. He had seen that look in the eyes of so many before; a look of scorn. “Perhaps, we could send a messenger to a nearby ally? If we choose wisely, we could easily withstand a siege by the time help arrives.” Scáth offered her idea with some hesitance, mostly looking to Aelis for whether it had potential or not. Aelis immediately looked to King Arwr with enthusiasm. 
“What ally would possess the army capable, let alone willing, to go against the forces of Sesara?” Oren criticized with obvious skepticism. Scáth looked deterred but was deep in thought, searching for that answer. 
“Perhaps, Elemenzin. Many families from the SunLotus region are loyal traders with us-” 
“- Too far.” Oren snapped. Agan raised a brow in Oren’s direction. It was clear to the worldly mercenary, he would break this paltry Scorns face the first chance he got. Scáth looked to her mother who was wearing a grin that boiled her blood. Just then, the princess’ eyes shot wide with an idea. 
“Then the Snow Elves,” She looked from Aelis to Arwr with hope. “From Moon Mountain. Pa, they will help us.” 
Oren offered a typical scoff but Scáth knew she was onto something when he did not, and probably could not, find a reason to shoot it down. Arwr slumped in his throne. In the months prior to his mysterious illness his powerful torso and strong frame would protrude over the sides of his impressive throne. Now, however, so very emaciated as he was, he appeared no stronger than a withered husk. 
“Grand Master Zenair has always been a faithful ally in the past, Your Highness,” Torvic added encouragingly. “The Frozen Fist Monks are warriors second to none in the region,” Aelis added. Agan coughed slightly under his breath at that, for he had dealings with the elves of Moon Mountain in the past; and knew they were some of the greatest warriors in all the world. “Who could or would be willing to travel the distance? Previous attempts to call for aid have only met more with death for our people.” Oren pointed out the failings of similar attempts in past sieges. Agan shot Oren a menacing glare with his luminescent yellow eyes. “I would go,” His timbre resonating with courage. 
“And I,” Both said Torvic and Aelis, giving each other nods and a smile. 
“No,” Arwr defiantly interjected. “It’s two cycles there and back, without trouble. I fear we do not have that time.” 
“What choice do we have, Pa? We barely survived the last siege from Sesara, and now you are too weak to fight,” Scáth asked pleadingly. 
“No. I will not willingly send more of my people out to slaughter. We need each and everyone of you here.” Scáth dropped her eyes to her lap in defeat. 
“With all due respect, I am not your citizen. These types of scenarios are precisely why kings and queens across the many countries of Litore hire me.” 
“Your willingness does not go unnoticed, Agan. I thank you for it. Yet, a single fighter of even your calibre would not make it, let alone convince the noble Snow Elves to join us.” Arwr finished with a slight nod to Agan which he reciprocated, understanding to leave it at that. 
“Perhaps, my king we leave it at the protocols set in place for now. I will continue to reach out to Aceia for guidance in the interim,” Torvic said with his usual religious optimism. 
Everyone, save Scáth, exchanged agreeing nods and began to respectfully depart; except the royal family. 
“Wait for me outside,” Scáth quietly prompted Agan. He said nothing but replied in kind with a warm smile and a hand on her shoulder before departing. The princess then watched with her own smile as her companion briskly headed in the direction of Aelis. The three of them sat in silence for some time before Katia broke it. 
“Never do I wish to see the likes of that green and red-skinned Agora in this hall again.” The hatred in her voice profoundly stung Scáth. 
“He acted most admirably, Katia. And deserves our infinite respect,” Arwr said as if he had already said it to her a score or more times since his arrival. 
“No!” The queen roared in defiance. “He is a disgrace to these very walls.” She stood with a fury, sending her chair soaring behind her off the raised platform to shatter against the blackglass floor. “Too long have I gone unheard and I say no more of him.” Katia’s body heaved with anger, she stared her daughter and husband down before storming out of the hall. Scáth watched as her father placed his face into the palm of his hands. 
“What have I done wrong, my little shadow?” Came the muffled voice of the king. Scáth went and knelt beside him. 
“Everything you have ever done was done because you thought it to be right. Ever have I looked up to you for that.” Scáth grabbed her fathers’ hand firmly and gently kissed his cheek. 
Katia walked through the palace with steely determination. Everyone she passed drew their gaze to the floor and bowed in respect. She descended a wide spiral staircase in the pitch black without a sound. The only distinguishable feature on the queen was the whites of her eyes. Reaching the bottom of the stairs she did not enter the obvious doorway to her left. Which would have taken her to the dungeons beneath the palace. Glancing around quickly she went to the enormous pillar that ran from the base to the very top of the palace. She ran her hand up the smooth stone pillar until she finally felt a slight crease. Pushing on the pillar, a small doorway slid inwards. Upon entering the hollow of the pillar, it turned into more spiralling stairs. The air was far colder down here and a heavy dampness lingered. So thick was it, that by the time the queen reached the bottom and saw torchlight, she appeared sprinkled by rain. The relatively small room was dimly lit with torches, and the smell of spice, exotic plants, and chemicals assailed her nostrils. A scrawny and bald-headed Scorn man was hunched over a poorly planked-together table rushing to accomplish his tincture. 
“Are you done yet?” Katia asked rather seductively as she took a step toward the male. 
“That wasn’t very much time, my love.” 
“Don’t call me that!” She snapped. “I am your queen first and forever.” The Scrawny man’s shoulders visibly shrunk at her reminder. He took a small brewing pot off an open flame, poured it into a crystalline vial, swirled it five times to the right then five time to the left before pouring it back into a separate vial and corking it. 
“Another dose, my queen.” Oren turned around, offering the poison with both hands raised out and head held low. 
“Well done, Oren.” She grabbed the vial and watched the final transformation of the neon red liquid become completely translucent. “Yet, the deed should have been done by now.” She looked at him accusingly. Oren’s eyes sprang wide. 
“Blame Torvic for that. His healing is strong, but the poison will win out in the end.” The administrator spoke with an apparent hesitance but was confident his words would prove true. 
“Good.” Katia slowly placed a kiss on Oren’s lips before whispering. “If you’re wrong, you may find the next batch you brew, ends up in your own wine.” 
Oren shivered at the cold words. He had known the queen for two human lifetimes already and understood without a doubt that she would make good on her threat. 
The next day brought a heavy blanket of snow across the city but it strangely did not accumulate in the surrounding region. A large and rather bland building located at the rear of the castle was used by the Scorn Guard as an armoury and mess hall. The interior of the building was as refined and ornate as the rest of the palace, however. Proudly displaying great stained glass murals and intricately woven tapestries depicting the great hero’s of the Guard, past and present. 
One particular tapestry located in the armoury hung above a rack of warpicks. Within the threads weaved a tale of a Scorn Captain wearing a T-visor helmet with a single black feather protruding from its crown. He stood among a battlefield of dead Orcs, Giants, and battered Scorn Guard. The heroic man standing up against unbeatable odds wore a small buckler on his left forearm and held a warpick high in triumph. The Scorn man in the tapestry stood near to it now, dawning the same armour, buckler and weapon. 
“Do you believe it?” Asked a Scorn Guard, who was removing his armour after another shift, to a Scorn Dwarf just suiting up for his day. 
“Aye, lookin like thee King Arwr draggin us out er night for prayin actually worked,” the Dwarf half-heartedly weighed in. “It’s truly a miracle, no? Our dear princess returned to us!” The excited Scorn man declared after just unbuckling his greaves. “I wouldn’t be callin it a miracle. Her return’l cause greater waves in our city than yer knowin.” 
“What a ridiculous falsification of -” 
“- No,” interrupted the now fully-armoured Captain. “Her return will ignite this cities greatest upheaval.” 
The dwarf laid a condescending look on the man and neither spoke another word. Both of them knew that their Captain, Sindrum Silver, would not tolerate such debates while on duty or on palace grounds.

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