Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel) – Chapter Five, Part Ten

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Chapter Five, Part Ten

~~~~~~~~~~

Penmarth was shrouded in shadow and gloom, as the damp, chill mist clung to the night air.  No one dared venture out into the streets after nightfall ever since a feeling of dread had descended over the Kingdom of Pengarth.  There were no answers to be found in this capital city or even to be had in the greater kingdom these days, only endless, unanswered questions.

The people of Pengarth had lost their beloved king to an assassin, and everyone knew it was the very person who was now manipulating the kingdom for his own, vile purposes.  No one was fooled by the meddling and despotic actions of King Tucar of Nierron, yet they were powerless to prevent it and return the land back to the rule of law.

Pallamar gathered the few supplies he required, no more than he could easily carry, for speed and stealth were of the utmost importance now.  Exiting the side door of a decrepit storage building on the waterfront, he made his way through the darkness to an old canoe he had positioned the night before, and began quietly paddling out through the harbor, hugging the shadows and staying away from all lights.

Slipping quietly and unnoticed out of the harbor, he continued a short way to the north to where the city ended, and the rural lands began.  Here he swamped the canoe in the coastal marsh, and began on foot through the night for the foothills of the Tregarron Mountains, the border between the Kingdom of Pengarth and the Kingdom of Talgar to the north.

Pallamar’s journey was to travel west through the Tregarron Mountains until contacting the Slejuv, to enlist their aid in reaching the headwaters of the River Sojar.  From there, he would travel to the one place that he knew could bring help to his people – the mysteries and enchantments of the Sylth in Sylthar Wood – where he was certain to get word to Arrydor.

It was well known to all that a pact of deception, lies and fell deeds between King Tucar of the Kingdom of Nierron and Vyanthal, the ruler of the Kingdom of Talgar, had led to the assassination of King Tyijar of the Kingdom of Pengarth.  A sole survivor of the ambush returned to Penmarth to report what had happened while King Tyijar was traveling on a goodwill mission to make peace with King Tucar.

Yet, the king’s son and heir to the throne Prince Dijia, who was traveling with his father at the time, remained unaccounted for after the attack.  King Tucar attempted to deceive the people of Pengarth that Dijia had died, yet there were no witnesses nor evidence to support his sinister claim.  This lie was now being used as a basis for establishing shared rule over the Kingdom of Pengarth by the Kingdoms of Nierron and Talgar to ‘divide the spoils’ of the leaderless kingdom.

The people of Pengarth demanded proof of Dijia’s death, for they didn’t believe it was true, and resisted this ploy to divide their kingdom as a spoil of war with all their efforts.  For they rightly believed it was war that King Tucar and Vyanthal meant to wage in Myllanthar – even enlisting King Cyulthar of the Kingdom of Dorrimar to join their axis of darkness – yet all knew he was but a puppet and a pawn hedging his bet on the outcome of this planned aggression.

It was Arrydor that Pallamar sought, for their friendship was deeply rooted.  As head of King Tyijar’s Council of Pengarth and Captain of the King’s Guard, Pallamar had spoken with Arrydor on many occasions during his unexpected visits to talk with the king.  Pallamar rarely left the king’s side due to the requirements of his duties, yet it was his loyalty that led him to fault himself in this hour.  Pallamar only stayed behind during King Tyijar’s peace overture to negotiate with King Tucar, because of King Tyijar’s direct order to guard the city in his absence – an order he now regretted carrying out.

Pallamar had been targeted for assassination on numerous occasions since the death of King Tyijar, for his loyalty to the Kingdom of Pengarth caused him to lead the resistance against the schemes and manipulations of King Tucar and Vyanthal.  Only now, as a last resort and after placing the resistance in other capable hands, he went to seek out and enlist the aid of Arrydor to save his people – if only it was not too late.

With the aid of the Slejuv, Pallamar evaded the enemies of Pengarth, and made his way along the west side of the River Sojar to the edge of Sylthar Wood.  Walking boldly up to the treeline, he declared in a loud voice into the Wood, “I, Captain Pallamar, Captain of the King’s Guard and Council of the Kingdom of Pengarth, and Guardian of Dijia, the true and rightful King of Pengarth, have come to enlist the aid of all peace loving people with the help of the Spirits of Sylthar Wood.  It is Of the Wind, Warrior King and Caretaker of Life that I seek – the one called Illandor, Arrydor and Myllanthyl.  I come as a friend in peace to petition your aid and assistance in a time of great urgency to save my people…”

(End of Chapter Five)

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Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel) – Chapter Five, Part Nine

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Chapter Five, Part Nine

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The flames of the campfire flickered and danced in the cool evening air beneath a cloudless desert sky at the Efphrath Oasis near the City of Ullsk, on the Sea of Tollvar. It was a relaxing evening, for the caravan was resting and watering here for two days prior to making its way up the coast to the City of Kuhlar.

King Kulthar lay back on cushions while gazing at the star-filled skies above, catching glimpses of shooting stars as they flashed across the night sky.  The surrounding tents reflected the glow of the campfire, and the shapes of the nearby resting camels faded in and out of shadow at the whim of the campfire’s undulating illumination.

The Kingdom of Kardune is a desert kingdom of tribal people, a sparsely settled land of rock and blowing sand, southeast of the Kingdom of Ellberron and south of the Kingdom of Pengarth.  To the south lies the Sea of Pulthyar, and to the east the Sea of Tollvar, and bordered by the Tregarron Mountains to the north, and the Ellberron Range to the west.  Other than the three principle cities along the coastline – Kardune, Ullsk and Kuhlar – the people of Kardune are a nomadic tribe, living as they have for centuries in the desert kingdom – traveling from oasis to oasis herding their sheep and goats.

King Kulthar often traveled by caravan, spending weeks in the desert, rather than remaining at the Royal Palace in Kuhlar.  In this way he was able to remain connected to his roots and to the memories of his father, King Kulthan, who preferred traveling the desert by caravan with his family.  It was a simple life for the king, who kept in touch with his nomadic people by living with them in the desert as much as possible.

The campfire reminded the king of a memory with his father years ago, at the age of about five years old.  King Kulthan had told him at the time, “You, too, will carry the light within you when I’m gone, for it is your destiny.  Embrace the light, and with it you will illuminate the way for others.”

When his father passed some ten years ago, King Kulthar’s memory of that moment in his youth reminded him of his duty, and was instrumental in his decision to live among his people under the stars as often as possible.  He knew he was to be a light to his people, even in the darkest nights under overcast desert skies.  More than anything else, as king, he was determined to be that light to his people.

On watching a shooting star traversing the skies much longer than any other before disappearing beyond the horizon, the king turned to his principle adviser and said, “Tell me of the great Wood to the far northwest, Pyullar, where that star landed just now.”

Pyullar, his longtime and most trusted adviser and confidant replied, “It is the land of the Sylth, a place called Sylthar Wood.  It is known to be an enchanted and mysterious land that none have traveled to.”

“Yes, you are right, Pyullar, but I know of one who has traveled and lived among the Sylth, for he visited my father’s caravan one evening when I was a young boy.  They spoke of the light, and both laid hands on my head together, speaking words of light over me.  There is reason within me to travel there now, but not by caravan.  I must travel by sea.”

“King Kulthar, it is a long voyage, and the course near the Island Fortress of Tyull places you at great risk, but I know of a way.  There is in Ullsk a small boat, that is unique to itself, and faster than anything that sails.  It is possible for one to sail this vessel alone, for your skills are great, but I advise you to allow me to accompany you on this journey, for you may need assistance when traveling to unknown places.”

The king pondered Pyullar’s comments and recalled the wisdom of his father insisting that his son would learn all the skills needed to one day be king.  His training involved learning the administrative and ceremonial aspects of running the kingdom, mastering the arts of warfare, leading caravans and navigating by the stars, competing in the cross-kingdom horse race, participating in the annual regatta, learning the kingdom’s skilled crafts such as stone carving, weaving, pottery making, and working with precious metals and rare jewels.

“You are better suited to manage the kingdom in my absence, Pyullar, for I have no heir, and you are my most trusted adviser.  I shall write a proclamation placing the affairs of the Kingdom of Kardune under your administration until my return.  At that time I will begin my voyage to Sylthar Wood – and you alone are to know my destination.  In the morning we break camp to travel to Ullsk.”

At daybreak they traveled to Ullsk, and provisioned the small ship for the voyage. King Kulthar then wrote out and declared the proclamation to all who could hear, that in the king’s absence, Pyullar was to administer the kingdom, while observing the best interests of all its citizens.  After handing the proclamation to his trusted adviser, the king set off alone in the small vessel, and was soon lost to sight.

The ship was indeed designed for speed, as the king made his way north through the Sea of Tollvar and slipped beyond the Island Fortress of Tyull without notice.  His course passed by the Kingdom of Pengarth and the Kingdom of Talgar, before turning west into the Sea of Kuhlarr.

He soon passed by the River Sojar and the Island of Ayall, until seeing the Wood that covered a seemingly endless expanse of shoreline.  It was at this point the king beached his ship in the shallows along the coast, and secured it with a line to the closest tree to the water.

King Kulthar had had plenty of time on his voyage to think about his next move, yet as he stood there on the beach a short distance from the edge of the Wood, he was uncertain as to how to proceed.  One doesn’t walk into a mysterious and enchanted Wood without an invitation, for anything was likely to happen, even if one’s journey brought you there for a purpose.

At last his mind was made up, for the journey was his alone to make, and no matter the outcome he decided to proceed – keeping in mind his father’s words, “You, too, will carry the light within you when I’m gone, for it is your destiny.  Embrace the light, and with it you will illuminate the way for others.”

As he stepped to the edge of the Wood, there between the trees a short distance ahead of him appeared a small, floating globe of light that one might hold in a single hand.  The dim glow of the light increased in illumination until it was too bright to look at, and then dimming again, floating deeper into the woodland, beckoning the king to follow…

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel) – Chapter Five, Part Eight

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Chapter Five, Part Eight

~~~~~~~~~~

The clear, night sky was filled with countless stars, especially when seen through the thin air of the Tregarron’s highest peaks.  A deep chill clung to the thin summer air above the treeline, yet Siyth remained fixated on the night sky, pausing well past the time he would have normally returned underground.  The firewood he had gathered remained on the sledge, resting atop last winter’s snowpack – still deeper than could be measured.

It was important to gather supplies for the coming winter, as new snows would be upon them before summer was over in the valleys.  The Slejuv People needed to be resourceful to survive at the highest levels of the Tregarron Mountains, yet they have always lived in this harsh climate, and always will – for it is their home. Semi-nomadic people by nature most of the year, the Slejuv live underground in mountain tunnels when not foraging far from home.  Theirs is a community-shared network below ground, extending throughout the peaks of the Tregarrons, built of their own hands over the course of many years and generations.

Few people in Myllanthar knew the Slejuv, but they all knew of them, if only second and third hand accounts through stories.  The Slejuv will trade with neighboring kingdoms, but never as a rule – and lately only with the Sojar People and the Kingdoms of Elberron, Kardune and Pengarth.  The Slejuv live in an unstructured world where no one else dare live – the simple, nomadic families of an extended mountain tribe, fiercely independent, resourceful and skilled in the art of both combat and survival.

No one dared challenge the Slejuv, for even finding them is beyond the skill of most, and fighting them among mountain peaks is beyond question – leaving them to their own mysterious devices.  Mysterious tales of their living underground naturally connects them in the minds of others with the dark canyons and crevasses of the Wastelands of Fell Ignar or Kriegareth, yet the two are totally unrelated.  Fell Ignar is a foul place of stench and evil darkness, while the Slejuv are a proud people of fierce independence, filled with a love of light.

Siyth remained there attempting to fully understand the stars, for at the age of twenty-one, he had, as the Slejuv People do, spent his life studying the motions of the sun, moon, planets and stars.  They knew all the constellations and measured the seasons by the intricate motions of the heavens.  It was only natural that mountain folk would search the stars for truth, as they could almost reach out and touch the heavens above them.

There are times when light chooses to act on its own accord, and this was one such moment – for in that hour light chose to enter and remain in Siyth, for the purpose of his being a light to the world.  Siyth understood the gift that had been given him, and the responsibility he had to illuminate the world around him.  With the light came an awareness, that wasn’t there before the light made its home within him.

He had this feeling of being drawn, of a sense of urgency, as if his destiny was now requiring him to be in another place.  Returning to his family’s tunnel under the Tregarron peaks, Siyth delivered the load of firewood, and packed a bag of provisions for the journey.  He couldn’t answer the questions asked of him by his family, all he could reply was that he was now needed elsewhere, and must follow his calling.

Traveling alone, Siyth followed the headwaters of the River Sojar to the north, feeling compelled to travel in this direction, until finding an abandoned marsh reed boat that carried him to the Sea of Kuhlarr.  There he was inclined to follow the coastline to the west, until marshlands evolved into meadows, journeying along this unknown coastline to where it became a Wood.  Following an internal compass guiding his path, Siyth traveled the coastline between woodlands and sea, until reaching a point he recognized as his destination.

Here was a single stone tower of great height, encircled at the lowest levels by an external stone staircase – an ancient watchtower perched upon a cliff, overlooking the Sea of Kuhlarr.  At the top of the staircase, an arched, stone doorway entered into an open room with yet more stairs of carved stone, winding internally up the remaining portion of the tower.

The stairs ended in an open-air observation deck, enclosed by an ornate railing of stone latticework, not created for defense.  In the center of this open observation platform, was a large circular disk upon which was carved the celestial heavens, wherein one could turn and match the positioning of the disk with direct observation of the night sky.

In addition, there were openings like keyholes, placed randomly around the disk, that when aligned with the center upright pin and sighted through, aligned the viewer’s gaze to a specific spot on the horizon – as if indicating the beginnings and endings of the seasons – based on specific alignments of the sunrise, sunset and planetary movements.

Siyth immediately understood the concept of this celestial disk based on his detailed knowledge of the stars, and was sure that in time he could perfectly decipher the beautiful and intricate workings of this celestial mirror of the heavens, as it perfectly harmonized with his spirit and soul…

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel) – Chapter Five, Part Seven

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Chapter Five, Part Seven

~~~~~~~~~~

The mountains of the Ellberron Range were silhouetted in shadow against the sunrise beyond them, as she looked out from her castle’s high tower across the Bay of Ellberron. Queen Allantyss surveyed the quiet waters of her prosperous kingdom, wondering what the future held for their seafaring land, as trade and travel on the seas around Myllanthar grew ever more dangerous without the escort of her navy’s best warships.

Without free-trade, the Kingdom of Ellberron was certain to diminish and wither, as it relied on open sea routes and the free-exchange of its goods with other kingdoms for its people’s livelihood.  The situation distressed her, for there were no easy answers to ensure the kingdom’s prosperity, yet she vowed to find one.

The City of Allonyl was waking beyond the castle’s exterior walls, and goods were being loaded aboard ships for voyaging along their designated trade routes.  The harbor would see ships arriving later in the morning, as they made their way into the Bay of Ellberron from the Sea of Pulthyar.  In the previous year, King Ellyular had begun an ambitious ship building campaign, adding four new warships to the kingdom’s fleet, but they had come at a great cost.

The people grumbled at the thinning of the forests, as the tallest and mightiest trees were felled to construct the warships, and Royal Decree had prevented them for harvesting the forests themselves.  The king realized it was an untenable situation for the kingdom to be in – to either loose the ability to sustain the kingdom with free-trade, or loose the support of the people by denying them access to the the forest’s resources – there seemed no other choice.

The kingdom had increased patrols along the Dorrimar Range to the west, and the Tregarron Range to the north, and contact with the Kingdom of Dorrimar was forbidden in light of the deception woven between Vyanthal of Talgar, King Tucar of Nierron and King Cyulthar of Dorrimar.  It was this forbidding atmosphere just across the Dorrimar’s that dried up all border trade to the west, while trade with the Slejuv to the north had become ever more dangerous due to outside interference.

Only the eastern trade with the desert Kingdom of Kardune remained at previous levels, putting more emphasis on sea trade with the distant ports of the City of Errayll in the Kingdom of Errayllor, the Sojar People, the Island of Ayall, and the City of Penmarth in the Kingdom of Pengarth.

Yet the queen felt a distraction from the turmoils of her kingdom in that moment, a sense of urgency not far removed from thoughts of the kingdom’s future, but from another perspective entirely.  There was a distance in her thoughts now, an elusive yet compelling desire to follow them.  She debated with herself this desire that may decide her kingdom’s fate, yet knowing all along she had no choice but to follow it.

Queen Allantyss recalled the days of her youth, when her father, King Thyantyss, revealed to her a destiny of lineage that was hers to carry.  There were long walks together on the palace grounds, with detailed discussions of life and truth, and of light and darkness.  She was twelve at the time, and fascinated more by the dedication of her father’s teaching, than the lessons of that season – but the knowledge she retained.

It was at the very beginning of her father’s private lessons, that King Thyantyss had placed his hands on her head in a corner of the Palace Gardens, and recited the words, “Go forth, and light the light of truth within her,” followed by a tender kiss on the top of her head.  She knew it was this light that her father had spoken of, that now beckoned her to journey beyond the kingdom, to a place her father had described was an enchanted and little-known woodland in Myllanthar’s far north – between the Kingdom of Errayllor and the River Sojar.

Calling the Admiral of the Navy, Admiral Tuyllar, to her study in the castle, Queen Allantyss queried him as to the coastline of the northwest, and when his descriptions of an unknown forest matched her father’s lectures from years earlier, she ordered a warship equipped for the journey to be readied at once.  She informed King Ellyular of her decision to partake in a journey, and gave him the full authority of the kingdom’s defense in her absence, for the Royal Lineage was hers from her father.

The next day the Warship Celestial Light, carrying her and a crew of 250 men under the Admiral’s Command, set sail on the journey.  The Celestial Light began making its way southwest around the Kingdom of Dorrimar, through the great western Sea of Cultharr beyond the Nyllaythel or the Nether Realm, past the Kingdom of Errayllor, and to the northwest coastline of Sylthar Wood along the Sea of Kuhlarr.  It was here that the Celestial Light dropped anchor off the coast, and a longboat was rowed ashore carrying Queen Allantyss, the admiral and a crew of sixteen sailors.

Once ashore, the queen gave a command to Admiral Tuyllar in front of his sailors, causing them all to openly protest, for she ordered them back to the Celestial Light to immediately return to the Kingdom of Ellberron without her.  She said it was her duty to go on alone, and to find an alternative way back to the kingdom.

This was her journey to make, and Admiral Tuyllar and his sailors had no recourse except to follow her orders.  Once the longboat was lost from sight, she turned to face the Wood, and without provisions, began walking towards the forest’s edge…

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel) – Chapter Five, Part Six

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Chapter Five, Part Six

~~~~~~~~~~

It was a memory that stirred her soul, that of her mother’s soft kiss on her forehead as a child while whispering the words, “May this light always guide and protect you when walking in darkness…”  The awareness of that moment was all she could think of now, and how her mother’s promise to explain all things to her was never to be, as Juyall’s mother passed unexpectedly in the early hours the next morning, leaving her orphaned and alone.

The generosity and kindness of the Ayall people in caring for her couldn’t be denied, but after nine years and having reached the age of seventeen, Juyall felt a rootlessness that couldn’t be undone.  Her father had been lost years ago at sea in a fishing accident, and their family’s only living relation was a cousin raised by the Sojar that she had never met.  Even now as she transplanted marsh reeds from the River Sojar into the island’s shallow corral reef, this image of being without roots was all-consuming.

The Island of Ayall lies a good distance north of the mouth of the River Sojar in the Sea of Kuhlarr, and is shaped in a similar manner to a seagull’s outstretched wings.  Centuries earlier a few of the Sojar discovered a shallow coral reef far out to sea, where they set about to create a low-lying island from their own labors.

To this day they still crush and mix shells, bones and coral with sand from the Sojar coastline, and then added a binder to form hollow spheres.  The spheres are bound with nets into floating rafts and taken to Ayall, where they are filled with sand, coral and rock to sink and attach to the reef – where they are eventually covered in fresh, new coral, raising the island just above the sea.

The Ayall people are today only distantly related to the Sojar, and they trade with each other as other lands do.  The Ayall have transplanted marsh reeds that thrive in the saltwater shallows from the River Sojar to their island, helping bind the island together with their roots, and creating a green oasis at sea.

The Ayall construct their houses out of these same hollow spheres secured to foundations of coral, and bundle reeds together to craft fishing boats, furniture and everything they rely on – thatching the roofs of their houses and weaving the reed’s fibers into a type of coarse cloth from which they make their clothes. The Ayall trade their plentiful bounty from the sea, with the Sojar’s goods from the land in a peaceful coexistence, as if two halves of a single whole.

All this ran through Juyall’s mind while planting marsh reeds among the freshly attached spheres along the island’s edge.  She was fixated on the image of her mother’s kiss in her mind, blending that memory with fresh longings for a cousin she didn’t know.  At the same time, she felt drawn to the mainland of Myllanthar with an urgency that wouldn’t quiet within her.

Juyall returned to the home of the family who had taken her in after her mother’s passing, and collected only what she needed for the journey – a small bag of dried fish, a water bag filled from the solar still, her knife used for cutting marsh reeds, and a simple woven rope made from reed fibers – and said good-bye to those who were there at the time.  There wasn’t much to say, for she herself didn’t know the reason for her leaving, only that she had been called away to the mainland.

Making her way with haste to her marsh reed canoe, Juyall set off with her handful of provisions towards the mainland, a place she had never before visited, as the Island of Ayall was all she had ever known.  She knew the familiar tales of the River Sojar and the Sojar people, of course, and of distant mountains and enchanted woodlands, but that was the sum total of her youthful experience.

The weather was in her favor, and the canoe’s small sail extended on a single pole caught the northeasterly breeze, aided by her continuous paddling.  Juyall sailed for three days and two nights, until reaching a wide expanse of heavily wooded shoreline, a sight she had never seen before.

The beach was a mixture of sand, shells, pebbles and larger rocks, with marsh reeds growing in the tidal basins.  The sound of waves washing ashore was mixed with bird song, while a summer breeze flowed through tree branches above, rippling leaves as if part of a great dance.

Juyall came ashore and pulled her canoe above the high tide line, securing it to a tree with the rope she brought with her.  A stream flowed out of the forest a short distance away, quenching her thirst and allowing her to refill her water bag.  While resting in a patch of sand and leaning up against a fallen log, Juyall finished her last remaining portion of dried fish, and looked towards the forest while contemplating her next move.

Never before had she felt this sense of freedom, of making her own decisions, and finding her own way.  Yet Juyall had no knowledge to guide her, other than an ever-stronger pull to be connected to this ‘light’ of her now-distant memory as a child.  Her mother’s words perplexed her, for they were given without explanation, yet Juyall knew them in her heart to be true.

While gazing into the shadows of the Wood before her, Juyall weighed her next move. She saw a magnificent buck with amazing antlers looking out towards her from some distance into the forest.  All these things she had been told in stories, but her eyes had never before seen such beauty as she was now seeing, gazing into the forest.

In a blink of the eye the buck was gone, and the sound of a hummingbird hovering behind her caught her attention.  Turning around to see the hummingbird busying itself in the wildflowers at the forest’s edge, it suddenly morphed into a great horned owl – and with powerful, dynamic down-sweeps of its wings was swept up to a branch at the edge of the forest.

Turning back around again to gaze up at the owl, it wasn’t there at all – seemingly replaced by a tall and strikingly beautiful person standing at the edge of the wood with an outstretched hand, bidding her to come – and as if in a trance, she got up to follow…

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel) – Chapter Five, Part Five

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Chapter Five, Part Five

~~~~~~~~~~

To the east of Sylthar Wood, a fisherman in the tidal marshes of the River Sojar raised up from his nets, and cast a long, probing look towards the west.  Rulyan had been a fisherman all his life, and that of his family before him as well.  Little ever changed in these parts, for the Land of Sojar was a neutral land between kingdoms of hardworking rural folk eking out a living from river, land and sea.

This Land of Sojar, straddling the River Sojar east and west, lay north of the Tregarron Mountains, and west of the Talgar Range.  They were both fishermen and nomadic people, herding their sheep and cattle seasonally between the high meadows of the Tregarron and Talgar, and the lush grasses and marshland of the River Sojar.

The Sojar had no rulers of their own, and no formal organization beyond their traditional nomadic life, for they had no need for these hierarchies and structures of other lands.

Their villages were informal dwellings near the river of simple huts, made of hand formed mud bricks and woven marshland reeds used as thatch, for their nomadic nature was to travel the land with their livestock following the motions of the seasons. In spring they moved with their herds into the high mountain meadows, sleeping outdoors in simple, open tents under the stars, and retracing their paths in autumn to return to the lush wetlands of the River Sojar.

Rulyan pulled in his nets from the shallow tidal marshes and secured his catch of small fish and crabs, before returning to his village to deliver his catch to his wife, Ryllula. Seeing the distant look in his eyes and Rulyan’s faraway lingering stare to the west, she knew there was something different in him now.  Immediately her thoughts turned to the tale of her husband’s youth, a story he had only shared with her.

As a young child herding his family’s sheep in a high mountain pass of the Talgar Range, a stranger in the form of an old man approached him one evening.  There was an urgency in his mannerisms and a hushed quiet in his voice, concerning a source of light or illumination that would now be his to carry within him.  In a moment, the old man faded away into the mists of evening, and left young Rulyan there watching over his flock – aware of an inner change that he’d never known before – a warmth and strength as if from the midday sun.

Ryllula had always noticed an inner glow about Rulyan, ever since the first moment she cast eyes on him while visiting his village as a child with her mother some 15 years earlier.  He stood out to her in ways no other child or grownup had, not for what he did or said, but because of an inner confidence and understanding that she saw in him.  Without knowing the meaning, she understood this was his moment, and something beyond the Sojar was calling to him.

She carried the fish and crabs into the hut and busied their two young children with cleaning them, and immediately began packing a bag of provisions for the journey she knew he would be making.  A coarse burlap bag of rice cakes, fruit and vegetables, and a small wine skin were all he took with him that morning.  No words were needed, for his eyes told her everything she needed to know as she kissed him farewell, for this, she knew, was his time.

After a quick good-bye to his wife and children, Rulyan crossed the River Sojar at the ford, for it was the only place to cross as the spring runoff still continued out of the mountains – and made his way northwest towards Sylthar Wood.  He would follow the coastline of the Sea of Kuhlarr until reaching the unknown woodlands of Sylthar, long known to his people as a short trek to the west, yet they were cloaked in a veil of secrecy that none understood or ever probed.

Historically, all peoples of Myllanthar traded with the Sojar, yet in these times much of that trade had dwindled, as travel between lands was unwise in these days.  There had even been occasions when strangers from the Wood arrived unexpectedly to trade exotic nuts and berries from their forest for the products the Sojar produced from the land, but these occasions were few and far between – generational visits it seemed.  Rulyan was present with his father on the last known arrival of two beautiful strangers from Sylthar Wood, as if stepping out of tales that were told of days long ago in a distant age and time.

The two tall, thin strangers were more beautiful than anyone Rulyan had ever seen before, as if anointed with a magic dust that made them seem unreal, giving them a faint appearance of transparency or illusion, that under other conditions one might possibly see through.  In fact, recalling that brief encounter with the strangers to trade mushrooms, nuts and berries for wool from his father’s flock, Rulyan couldn’t recall if they were male or female – for their beauty was beyond description, seemingly magical as if masking something deeper that was unseen to human eyes.

What Rulyan was aware of, but couldn’t understand at the time, was that the two strangers focused their attention more his way, than in the dealings of barter and trade with his father.  Rulyan was eight years old at the time, and felt their attention towards him as rather odd in the moment, yet as he now traveled towards the Wood he began to understand.  The memory of their brief visit was also his first encounter with the light since having received it, for he was aware that one of the strangers also possessed light within him.  Only now was the encounter made clear to him, as he journeyed towards their mystical land shrouded in trees and shadows.

Rulyan wasn’t sure what he would find at the Wood’s edge, or how long he would be away on his journey, but the details mattered less than the insistence beckoning within him, drawing him ever closer to the now visible forest’s edge in the distance.  It was there on the easterly edge of Sylthar Wood along the shores of the Sea of Kuhlarr, that Rulyan saw the stone monument rising up out of the ground, three times as tall as a man.

As he approached the pillar of stone, he saw there were markings carved in a continuous unbroken thread swirling around the column from top to bottom, the words of an unknown tongue carved in a long, continuous chant wrapping around the column’s length.  It was in the shadow of this stone pillar that Rulyan sat down to await his further calling.  He could go no farther on his own and pulled out a rice cake to eat, and enjoyed a sip of wine to wash it down.

Rulyan knew better than to enter Sylthar Wood alone, and waited for the familiar stranger to arrive – he who had visited before, unannounced as if carried by the wind – was the one, that would surely come again…

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel) – Chapter Five, Part Four

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Chapter Five, Part Four

~~~~~~~~~~

The news arrived first as a distant memory of ages long since past, revealed in the combined experience of the lineage of his ancestors, giving King Errayllan a heightened state of awareness and understanding.  He knew immediately what this meant without question, yet it had never been revealed to any of his forefathers before, passing over generations until this very hour.  The light living within Errayllan understood this calling without question, for this was the very moment for which it existed.

It was Errayllan’s father, King Orthyall, who passed the light on to him, and the one who explained all truth.  King Errayllan’s calling since that day had been to be a vessel of light, a keeper of the illumination within him.  It was for this hour that his duty now summoned him, and King Errayllan was distinctly aware of the meaning, intent and purpose for which his duty was now required.

The king called together thirty of his best knights, and within the hour set out on horseback from Castle Errayll in a northeasterly direction towards the neighboring Sylthar Wood.  They made straight their way across the rolling Plains of Errayllor without pause – this idyllic kingdom he dearly loved – dotted by farms and villages throughout this wide and open expanse of grassland.  King Errayllan knew the hour for which he was now called, and understood the nature of why his presence was required – yet even he knew not the impending conditions for which he was now summoned.

Errayllor was a kingdom of horsemen, ranchers, farmers and fishermen, a bountiful land blessed with full harvests from both land and sea.  Known to be the best horsemen in all Myllanthar, horses were their love and life for many – bred and raised for speed and beauty – the very heart of this land, and symbolized on their flag as the silhouette of a racing horse centered in a circle surrounded by images of the harvest – grain, bread, fruit and fish – on a field of yellow.

As skilled and adept horsemen, Errayllor’s knights were equipped to ride with speed, and their light and versatile armor reflected that need.  Layers of thick, overlapping tooled leather, were woven over sections of chain mail, and topped with plate armor protecting their forearms and lower legs, with breastplates embossed with the image of a galloping steed as on their flag.

The knights’ helms were of steel, open to the face, with trailing curtains of leather draping down and protecting their necks.  They carried multiple knives, swords, bows and spears, and could live off the land as long as needed when on patrol. Rarely were they required to fight, for their reputation was well known to all for never being defeated in battle.

Yet, even these bold and courageous knights knew of the distant darkness that was spreading like a sickness south of the horizon, and they knew not what the future held for any of them in the kingdom.  It was their king they looked to now for guidance, and they were steadfast in their loyalty and trust in his decisions, for King Errayllor was known to all as the wisest of leaders, and above all reproach.

A gathering gloom was felt by all across the Land of Myllanthar, a disturbance that none could deny, for the signs were everywhere about them.  King Tucar of Nierron had been terrorizing the neighboring lands for some time, and the Wastelands of Fell Ignar, or Kriegareth, had long been rumored to have foul happenings occurring near their gaping crevasses into the mysterious depths underground.

So concerned had King Errayllan been, that he built watchtowers on the low hills of the far borderlands beyond the Plains of Errayllor towards the southeast, and assigned twenty patrols of fifty knights each on horseback to man the watchtowers and patrol the edges of the kingdom.  Yet, even he knew they would do little to halt the continuous probing of his kingdom by King Tucar’s merciless riders – captives forced into the ever expanding ranks of his growing bands of marauding mercenaries.

The King and his knights rode on directly to what was known to all as the Sylthar Gate at the edge of the Sylthar Wood.  The Sylthar Gate was no gate at all, but an opening in a natural, sickle-shaped rock outcropping standing before the great forest.  There are no roads or paths into or out of the wood, and no man had ever entered these mysterious woodlands and returned to tell his tale, and none wanted to even venture through the Gate to approach the wood.

It was here just outside the Sylthar Gate that the King’s escort party halted, and set up an encampment.  Nothing indicated a reason to his knights for making this encampment, yet King Errayllan’s knights had the highest devotion to their king, and theirs was not to question why, but to form a protective camp around the king’s central tent, marked with the royal banner set high atop a pole and waving in a swirling breeze.

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel) – Chapter Five, Part Three

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Chapter Five, Part Three

~~~~~~~~~~

Preparations were underway deep in the heart of Sylthar Wood to host the Council of Light, that Myllanthal had called together.  Even now, Light was gathering from every realm of Myllanthar where it still shone in the face of a spreading darkness.  There had never been such a Council summoned together in the history of the ages, yet it was spoken of in the Age of Promise, that this time would occur – when Light would be required to dispel and cast away a looming darkness.

There were few in these days that still knew the ancient legends of ages long since past, yet each of the Bearers of Light were well versed in such lore, even if few among their peoples could recall the prophecies of old.  It was said in the early days of the first age that,

“The one who gathers Light – he who is the Author, Designer, Creator and Guarantor

of Light – would call together all who carried Light within them,

to shine their Light together into a growing darkness to cast it away…”

It was this time, spoken of old, that was now taking place – for no such hour had been called into being before these days, and legend holds that no such time would ever be called into being afterwards. This was to be the very hour that Light was called upon to turn back and dispel darkness forever, yet, the outcome of this battle between Light and darkness was never foretold.  If Light prevails, there will be no darkness left in Myllanthar.  If Light fails in this noble quest, darkness shall cast it out, and settle over this land forever.  No other possible outcome could result from a clash between Light and darkness – for only one may prevail in the end.

Each Bearer of Light was now traveling in haste to reach Sylthar Wood, yet none had ever visited before.  The Sylth are not known outside their Wood, for theirs is a land of shadows within their realm of trees and all things that dwell within them.  Sylthar Wood is a great forest along the shores of the northern Sea of Kuhlarr where no man or beast has ever entered and returned to tell the tale, save one.  For the Gatherer of Light was there in the beginning of time and as a guest many times hence, from when the forest was newly born and the Sylth first became aware.

For the Sylth in their dwelling places beneath the trees have no interest in lands beyond their realm, but instead are content to live peaceful and gentle lives within their own shadows.  Theirs is a magical world where one could take on as many shapes, forms and guises as one desired, and to even disappear completely from view.  One who enters their realm unawares, finds out quickly that all they see isn’t as it appears to be, and none have ever departed the Wood to tell what they’ve discovered.  For an acorn, unicorn, mushroom, leaf, rock, deer, cool breeze or a blanket of dense fog in Sylthar Wood may simply be one of the Sylth in other form – and against such guises an intruder is defenseless – as if left to fighting ghosts.

So it is into this realm that the Bearers of Light are now called for the first time since time began, an event never to be repeated henceforth. Those who have traveled great distances with the Bearers of Light, must remain at the edge of the great forest to await the Bearer’s return, for only the Bearers of Light are allowed to enter.  Sylth Llaylaan was chosen by the Gatherer of Light as the host of the Council of Light, yet he is not the Keeper of the Light.  Sylth Llaylaan is no king or prince, for all Sylth are of equal stature and none carries title to themselves above others.  Each is called Sylth along with their name, as a community and family of brothers and sisters under the forest’s canopy.  None would choose to be raised above another, but Myllanthal has known Sylth Llaylaan since the beginning of the Age of Promise, and it was he who was asked to host this Council of Light, for he has the Light within him.

The Bearers of Light, called together in this hour to travel to Sylthar Wood, all carry within them Light that has been passed down to them through the ages.  For when Myllanthal first Created and passed the Sacred Lights to the ancestors of the current Light Bearers, each was entrusted to pass the Flame in turn down through the ages to the one who would be entrusted as its Guardian.  This is no ordinary Flame that flickers and burns, but a Spirit of Light, illuminating their lives from within for all to see the wisdom, truth, knowledge and understanding of the ages that is the Light carried within them.  This radiance has been passed down and kindled within them as a sacred responsibility to honor, protect, defend and to hold – for they are the Sacred Vessels of all that has been forgotten in the land save by them.

It is this movement that is now underway towards Sylthar Wood, an event planned for long ago in ages past, that is now made visible to those with eyes to see it.  For it is a time of growing darkness in the Land of Myllanthar, a time when hope needs renewed, when a defense needs to be stood up, when darkness needs to be turned back by a bright and unfailing Light illuminating and bathing the land in truth.  It is in this time when hearts must be strengthened and courage found, when resolve must stand fast and when decisions of merit must be made.  It is this time, this day, and in this very hour that holds everything in the balance – as if hanging by a precarious thread at a spider’s whim – for no one knows what tomorrow will bring, or what will follow in the chill air of a spreading shadow of impending doom, when Light reveals itself to the darkness…

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel) – Chapter Five, Part Two

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Chapter Five, Part Two

~~~~~~~~~~

Many had heard rumors of this man called Illandor, but few had actually ever seen him. They called this shadow of Myllanthar, Of the Wind, for good reason, for the name Illandor referenced an even more distant name out of legend and lore – Myllanthal, or Caretaker of Life. A name rooted in the very land and foundation of Myllanthar itself. For Myllanthal was the one from the beginning of time when the land was first formed, drawing his strength from the very rock and earth it was founded upon.

The few wise and learned souls who still recalled the distant tales of past ages, knew this spirit of the land and all living things by yet another name – Arrydor, Warrior King. For this Arrydor was once King of the Kingdom of Talgar, now exiled from Talgarth, its crowning jewel from ages past.  Legend also foretold a day when he would return in honor and glory to reclaim his throne, ushering in a Golden Age of beauty and wonder. While few in Myllanthar recalled the name and legend of Arrydor, most knew of a tale rooted in ancient days, of one who would quell the tide of a spreading darkness across the land – even if the details eluded them.  However, few concerned themselves with legend and lore in these days of darkness and gloom, instead, merely trying to survive within this swirling chaos of impending doom.

Of all the names that referred to him, it was Jonathan’s name of Gramps that endeared him the most.  This name of honor, was a reflection of Jonathan’s grandfather, David Alexander Spencer – a name freely bestowed on him by the heart of an eight year old boy. The name Gramps was a gift to his spirit that the old man would would always treasure.  For Jonathan was under his watchful care even now as the Rhayander followed Jonathan and Dijia’s every move, journeying on distant and dangerous mountain paths. Gramps recalled a time when he, too, was young – born out of a land that itself was fresh and new at one time.    He cherished these distant memories, now awakened from their slumber in ages past, stirring this old man into action to ensure they would live on forever.

It was Illandor that now traveled the land as a wisp of wind that whistled through the trees, an echo of the distant sound of rushing water muted by the mist and fog that clung to the hallows along valley floors.  Rumor was he changed shape and form to fit the needs of the time, but no one really knew, for no one accompanied him on his journeys across the land – except one.  The great, gray horse known as Majeka was always there when called upon and a more faithful friend was never had in all the land.

In the realm known as Trevareth or Desolation Pass, between the Tregarron Mountains, the Boundary Mountains of Nefyanll, and the Barren Hills, is where Majeka met up with Illandor on this present journey to gather light.  Time was fleeting and few rays of light remained that weren’t yet overcome and blanketed in darkness – for when light is faint and weak it fails to penetrate the black of darkness but for a short distance.  There is little that noble spirits can do within such dim illumination without hope – for hope is never extinguished – even in the darkest of nights.  As long as hope remains, light stands ready to be rekindled and hearts strengthened to weather the tide of any impending darkness.

With the urgency of a winter gale blowing in storm clouds from the sea, Illandor and Majeka rode like the wind across the Kingdom of Nierron through the night and into the early hours of the next day. They continued riding with haste to the northeast around the Wastelands of Fell Ignar known as Kriegareth, before turning back to the north towards the Sylthar Wood – the home of the Sylth within the shadows of the great forest.  For within the safety and security of these woods lay Illandor’s destination and quest.  His was a quest to gather light from every corner of the Land of Myllanthar – from east to west and north to south – wherever hope remained under the shadows of a spreading gloom.

News traveled quickly throughout the land once Myllanthyl sent word to the far reaches of Myllanthar, that his quest had begun to call light out of darkness.  Those with understanding received the messages at once with both encouragement and foreboding, knowing that the hour foretold in ancient days was now at hand.  In such times one never knows the final outcome and resolution of conflict along the boundary of light and darkness – only knowing a storm front was impending and light was preparing to quell and turn back this rising tide of doom.  It was this very hour that was foretold in the distant times of Myllanthall, the Age of Promise.  These were the fault lines that had been drawn and established even before the very land itself had cooled and solidified following its birth.

Fellow travelers and bearers of light from the far corners of Myllanthar were even now journeying to the woodland shadows within Sylthar, a realm seldom visited by any who were not born under the canopy of its leaves.  Only Myllanthal had been granted safe passage to this realm before, for he was of the very substance that formed and nurtured the soil of Sylthar’s woodland.  He was there when the very trees that towered today were but the first tender shoots to establish themselves in Sylthar’s fertile soil, and his returning to these roots reflected the essence of the light he now gathered.  For only he, as no one else could, was tasked with assembling these rays of light – for this Myllanthal, Illandor, Arrydor, Gramps – was the very author, designer, creator and guarantor of light…

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel) – Chapter Five, Part One – A Gathering of Light

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Chapter Five, Part One – A Gathering of Light

~~~~~~~~~~

“What is light, but the enemy of darkness – for darkness can’t exist in the presence of a gathering light – a light to cast out darkness, dispel it and bathe the land in the warm glow of its illumination…”

– Mark D. Jones

~~~~~~~~~~

Once the ice-blue light of the Talspin faded into the forest’s shadows, Gramps waited but a heartbeat before fading away into the fog shrouded mists of twilight towards Mirror Lake.  Glandwr echoed with the cries and screeches of battle as the Rhayander fought in the darkness with the riders of Nierron.  The riders had tracked Jonathan and Gramps ever since they departed their campsite in the meadow beside the River Illandrith, and the riders were now closing in on Tywyn.  It was there, on the shores of Mirror Lake, that they lost the tracks in the dim of twilight, under the twisted and gnarled branches of the stunted white oaks – as fog and mist swirled through their branches like so many cold and penetrating fingers.

Observing the riders’ every move had been an easy task for the great eagles circling overhead, watching as Nierron’s henchmen approached ever nearer to the secluded woodlands within which Tywyn was quietly hidden away.  Six men on horseback and foot were no match for this gathering of the Rhayander – these guardians of Glandwr – as their multitude grew to outnumber the men tenfold.  The riders were not unaware of this impending danger silhouetted against the darkening skies, yet their danger was of no concern to the riders at this moment.  Failure to fulfill King Tucar’s orders to find and capture the young boy, would be far more severe punishment than any battle against eagles or men.

For the king needed this young prince and future king of the Kingdom of Pengarth to complete his now unfolding plot.  Without proof of the boy’s death, his rule and control over Pengarth would become much more difficult than it already was.  Even now, his puppet was in place on the throne of Pengarth, awaiting only Tucar’s permission to wear its crown.  The longer the boy prince was unaccounted for, the more the people grew restless with the disconcerting news of King Tyijar’s death.  They wanted proof that the heir to the throne wasn’t to return to be crowned their king, and rebellion was already rumored to be the consensus and verdict on the cobblestones of village streets. King Tucar could not afford to put down a messy revolt when his forces were not yet in full control of the kingdom.  He would settle for nothing less than the capture of this young prince, to ensure that Pengarth would never receive him as king.

The riders’ growing confusion, discontent and anger in being delayed in resuming their tracking until morning infuriated them, forcing them to set up camp alongside the shores of Mirror Lake.  It was in this agitated and disorganized state that the Rhayander attacked their prey – sweeping down from every and all angles through the dimming light – rendering the men helpless to defend themselves.  Their dark golden feathers blended perfectly with the gathering nightfall, as the last rays of sunlight were now long hidden from view behind the mountains.  Of the six riders, four were killed in the first moments of their attack, with King Amroth being the first to snatch a rider up in his great, piercing talons. The eagles’ 15 foot wingspans made easy the task of lifting the riders to great heights before dropping them onto jagged boulders below. Even if the Rhayander were starving, they would rather die than feast on the carcasses of Nierron.

Yet, two riders had fled into the safety of the oaks’ twisted branches and gnarled trunks, knowing that even the great eagles couldn’t get to their prey within these ancient trees.  The eagles set up watch, circling high overhead and peering down into the depths of the woodland, watching and waiting for their chance to re-attack at will. The riders were now captive within the bars of their own prison, never able to flee without certain death greeting them from above.  Their arrows were of no use against these fierce defenders of Glandwr, who had been defending this homeland of theirs since the beginning of the ages.

It was into this murk and piercing darkness that Gramps entered as silently as the thickening fog.  This unassuming Gramps to young Jonathan; this Myllanthal, Caretaker of Life to the Land of Myllanthar; this Illandor, Of the Wind to some who knew him; and this Arrydor, Warrior King to those he had served – was now present within the shadows of this same gnarled prison containing the last remaining servants of Nierron. These minions of darkness met their deserving fates without warning or sound, having failed in their mission to capture Dijia for their insatiable king.  Arrydor knew that other riders would relentlessly pursue that same mission, yet for now, the two young boys were safe from these evil pursuers.

Arrydor let out a piercing and screeching cry in the language of the Rhayander circling overhead, letting them know their watch was no longer required for the task had now been completed.  The riders in Glandwr were no more, and the safety of the eagles’ homeland was secured for the moment.  Yet, other eyes had been observing all that had transpired from the shadows, their wings even now carrying them to distant corners with news of the battle and the riders’ fate.  For the likes of bats and crows are unable to be attacked by even the mighty eagles, and rarely by any man – and news travels fast to those who demand to hear it.  Once this unwelcome news arrived within the towers and halls of distant castles, more riders would be dispatched on new missions – for the fate of capturing the young prince was of greatest importance to plans already set in motion – crafted and woven within the spell cast by the dark lust of power.

This was no time to pause in victory or delay what was required of him, and Arrydor disappeared into the night with the urgency of one needing to stem a swelling tide of darkness that was creeping across the land that was Myllanthar.  This name of Illandor, Of the Wind, was more fitting to him now – as he vanished into the shadows and mists of the darkness that now cloaked Glandwr, for his task had only begun.  It was one thing to await the light of dawn, it was quite another to gather the light when surrounded by darkness.  His task was to assemble the rays of light, from which to penetrate and dispel all shadows of darkness from this land – a land from which he was born out of – this land that is Myllanthar…