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Archives: The Golden Egg

Chapter 4: Wyvern Cliffs and Marfa Temple

    Lyassa watched the elves walk off. She let out a sigh, she had a feeling her coming along displeased them. “I’m...truly sorry if I caused any trouble,” she said to Aiden, though the priestess knew she had.

    “Oh no, you didn’t cause any trouble,” Aiden replied, watching Eliamn and Naclia walk away briskly. “I did.” The handsome elf turned to smile at Lyassa. “Don’t worry, my dear, everything will work out just fine. Now, lets go see your high priest?”

    Aiden looked up to the temple to Marfa, which only slightly lacked in splendor from the Falis temple. Large, white marble, and with a large statue of Marfa in robes. Otherwise, it was quite modest.

    “How could you have caused any trouble sir?” she asked him politely. She thought the elves had pretended to aim their anger at him, though she thought otherwise. She looked up at the temple of Marfa. “Would you like to tell me a bit about yourself sir?” she said as she started to open the door.

    “Well...ah, I didn’t exactly ask them if you could come,” Aiden replied, scratching the back of his head uncomfortably, as if he could still feel Eliamn and Naclia’s eyes boring into the back of his skull.

    Aiden darted to hold the door for her, as a gentleman should, then entered the temple behind Lyassa. “Hmm...well, there isn’t much to tell, we elves don’t lead very exciting lives,” Aiden replied, though his life was a little more interesting than most. His father was a half-elf, and he was born in a time when the Mirror Forest wasn’t exactly as open minded toward humans. Only a few of his mother’s closest neighbors knew that Aiden was a quarter human, but they kept it quiet. Naclia knew, but Eliamn did not. Aiden was raised by his mother when most children had a mother and a father. And he wasn’t about to explain to a girl that adored him that his mother was insanely controlling. “What about you, my dear priestess?” Aiden asked. “I’m certain you must have a far more interesting life than an elf whose never been more than five miles out of his forest until now.”

    Lyassa looked over at him as they continued to head to where the priestess was. “There is not much to tell about myself. I spent most of my life in study under my mother’s guidance,” She said with a slight smile. She sighed and stared outside for a second. “This is the first time I ever been so far from home. My father was a knight of Moss and mother was a Priestess of Marfa. They let me go out into the world to offer my service as a priestess and thats what I’ve been doing most of my life,” she said.

    Aiden was a little confused, it sounded as she left something out. If her father was a knight of Moss, wouldn’t they be living here? Why would this be the furthest she had been from home.

    “Your father is a knight of Moss, and yet this is the furthest you’ve been from home? You’ve never left the country?” Aiden asked.

    Lyassa didn’t reply to that. “I was born in Tarba,” she said to him. She continued walking looking around one final time to take everything into her soul before she left, since she wouldn’t be here for quite awhile.

    “Oh,” Aiden replied, though he didn’t know where Tarba was. It apparently wasn’t in Moss though. Elf and priestess passed through the temple corridors as Lyassa led the way to the Head Priestess’s chambers. “Where is Tarba anyway?” he asked after a moment. “We elves don’t exactly keep up with human nations and cities. They tend to flourish and fade quickly from out point of view,” Aiden explained, though he hadn’t exactly lived through many changes in his century and a quarter of life.

    Lyassa looked over at him and nodded in understanding. “It’s located in the White Dragon Mountains, which are in Alania,” she replied to his question. Lyassa turned her head back straight ahead. “Theres a small village where I grew up and the grand shrine of Marfa.”

    “Oh, I see,” Aiden said. A pair of priestesses passed him and Lyassa, one brunette, the other blonde. Aiden smiled warmly at them, which could only be construed as friendly. The brunette gave him a nod of greeting and the blonde smiled almost flirtatiously back at him. She wasn’t exactly his type, so he merely moved on without a second glance, likely seeming aloof to the priestess. With his present situation, Lyassa probably wouldn’t appreciate him flirting anyway.

    “Isn’t Alania on the other side of Lodoss?” Aiden asked after the two priestesses were out of earshot. “You have traveled much further than I have, that’s certain.”

    “Yes, its on the other side of Lodoss,” she said to Aiden. She smiled as they were coming close to the door. “I may have traveled far, but that doesn’t mean I’m a adventurer or such like you will be, sir,” she said to him.

    “You’re going to be an adventurer too,” Aiden grinned to the priestess. At the end of the hall were a pair of massive oak doors, which reminded Aiden of the Falis High Priest’s study they had visited only moments earlier. This door was unguarded, but it was obviously belonging to this temple’s High Priestess. Aiden let Lyassa lead on.

    Lyassa giggled a bit as she walked over to the door. “I can’t wait to be on,” she said smiling at him. Now, that she was at the high priestess’s door she lifted up a hand, knocking on the door and waited for a response.

    “Enter,” the mature voice of a woman called from the other side of the door. Lyassa opened the door and stepped inside, Aiden following behind her. The high priestess was a statuesque woman in her late forties with long brown hair that was lined with gray strands.

    “Ah, Sister Lyassa, what brings you to my office...and who is your friend?” the priestess asked. She was of course familiar with Lyassa, since she had recently arrived at the temple.

    Aiden composed himself to appear as aloof and graceful as was expected of elves. The high priestess was attractive, in a strong, mature way. He didn’t have a clue as to her age, only that she had to be much older than Lyassa. Aiden didn’t know what to make of human ages, elves didn’t appear to age until late in their lives, but humans aged with every passing year. Despite the gray in her hair and the lines around her eyes Aiden still thought the high priestess was attractive.

    Lyassa bowed to the much older priestess. “This is Aiden. I met him outside the temple. He had wished to come in with me,” she said. Once she had introduced her friend she now began to explain her reason of visit. “I have to come to inform you, Mother Erinea, that I will be traveling with Aiden and his friends for a while as a their healer, as well as to spread the teachings of Marfa all over Lodoss.” Lyassa smiled at Aiden’s expression toward the older priestess, but she said nothing to it. “I hope that I may be allowed to do so Mother Erinea,” She said with yet another bow.

    Erinea studied Aiden sternly as he managed his elven poise, and she appeared convinced that he was a model elf; cool and distant. Erinea’s gaze turned to Lyassa. “Sister Lyassa, you are a raised priestess and currently not obligated to any temple. You are welcome to come and go as you please while you take your missions. None the less, thank you for telling me. If you need any supplies, or a horse, the temple will provide them. Good luck, and Marfa’s blessings upon you both,” the high priestess concluded with a smile.

    Lyassa bowed deeply to Erinea. “Thank you Mother Erinea,” she said. “And may Marfa bless you.” She turned around to face Aiden. “We’re ready now. We need to get some supplies, then I suppose we can leave.”

    Aiden nodded to Lyassa, holding his expressionless gaze for Mother Erinea’s sake.

    “You can find all the supplies you need in the temple stables,” the High Priestess directed. Lyassa and Aiden offered their thanks and took their leave of her office.

    Their first stop was Lyassa’s dormitory, which was shared by other priestesses around her rank. Her traveling supplies that she had carried from Tarba were stored there. Aiden was forced to wait outside the dormitory, since it was all female.

    Once Lyassa returned, they were off to the stables where Lyassa was given a small, young bay mare. It was a delicate horse, and probably couldn’t carry much more weight that Lyassa’s petite frame and her supplies. Anything else she needed she was able to acquire from the storehouse near the stable.

    Leading a new horse, Lyassa and Aiden headed out the street.

* * *

    It was still early in the afternoon when Talen brought Eliamn and Naclia the the cliffs. He set a quick pace through the city. He knew enough of his companions to tell that Eliamn wasn’t comfortable around so many people and that she was eager to see the wyverns—that and get out of town.

    The cliff overlooked a meadow at least fifty feet below the edge, which probably would have been rather spectacular at sunset. The wyverns roosted along the cliff edges at the top, and in nooks and caves along the cliff walls, and a few were soaring on thermals far above. The meadow below had flocks of sheep, and certainly, didn’t seem like a good place for farming, but flocks were for both wyvern food, and human use. Other animals would be too terrified to live below the wyverns, but sheep aren’t exactly known to be the most perceptive or intelligent of livestock.

    Talen had left his horse behind at the road to the cliffs in the care of other knights. Being around so many large predators wasn’t a place a horse liked to be. The knight stood stoically behind the two elven women like a guard as they enjoyed the few. Naclia walked up to the edge of the cliff too take it all in, and made Talen start. He started to reach out for her, but Naclia was far too agile to be in any danger.

    Eliamn herself skip-hopped to a larger rock and leapt atop it. Her arms spread to her sides for balance and her head craned back to watch the soaring wyverns, eying them for a long minute, mouth slightly open.

    It is amazing that humans found the means to get along with these dragon-kin. She supposed that she should give the knights of Moss some credit in that regard—their ‘flying calvary’ was quite unique after all.

    Her arms came down and she looked at Naclia, engrossed as she was at the flying lizards. I do not think Naclia has ever flown, she realized, remembering that as a ranger, Naclia only dabbled in the shamanist arts. She should get to fly on one before we leave. Eli stepped down from the rock, smoothing away some imaginary wrinkles before sitting atop it. With a slight smile, she tapped into Sylph’s power and through the wind spirit sent her whisper to the human’s ear as if she was standing right by his side.

    “Arrange for Naclia to ride on a wyvern. Make her last memory of Dragon Breath be a good one.”

    Shocked to hear Eliamn’s whisper when she sat at least ten feet away from him, it took Talen a moment to process what had happened. It must have been some elven magic, but Talen realized it was a very good idea.

    “I’ll be right back,” Talen said, and turned to leave down the trail they walked in on.

    Naclia had since collapsed in the lush grass on the top of the cliff to watch the wyverns soaring above. She turned her head to watch Talen go curiously. “Where’s he off to?”

    “Well, the path he follows seems to lead to the aeries,” Eli said with a teasing lilt—that much had been obvious.

* * *

    Talen’s return was announced with the creaking wheels of a wooden cart. The knight had brought another man with him, who led a placid work horse hitched to a light cart. The other man, also a knight, was garbed in a long, fitted leather coat that covered his legs. The cart carried a massive saddle, which was far too awkward for the average man to handle.

    “This is Knight Rhessos Vortin,” Talen said, introducing the middle-aged man who was trying not to stare at the two elven woman. “Sir Rhessos, meet Naclia and Eliamn of the Mirror Forest,” Talen said to the knight.

    “It’s a pleasure, miladies,” Rhessos said, bowing deeply. As he rose, he addressed the two elves, “would either of you care to go for a ride?”

    Naclia’s ears perked up gleefully. “Really? On a wyvern? I would love to!”

    Eliamn couldn’t help a smile seeing Naclia’s reaction. When Sir Rhessos turned to her, the question in his eyes, she offered a slight shake of her head.

    “No, thank you,” she politely declined. “I wish to remain here for the time being.”

    Rhessos turned to Naclia and bowed once again. “Then allow me to call my wyvern and saddle him, then we’ll be on our way!” The knight stood straight and with a flourish of his cloak, he walked to the cliff’s edge and pulled a whistle from a pocket.

    Unaware of how sensitive elven ears are, and just how shrill the whistle was, Rhessos blew on it, producing a high pitched shriek that humans generally couldn’t hear. Naclia threw her hands over her ears, the cart horse laid its ears back and the wyverns paused in flight to see who blew the whistle.

    While Naclia was holding her finger over the canal of her left ear—since it seemed to be one most sensitive and she could still seem to hear the sound buzzing in her head—a white wyvern dove down from sky.

    Like a very large featherless bird, the wyvern landed on the cliff side near Rhessos, beating its giant wings to control its decent. The wind was strong enough to nearly knock everyone off their feet.

    At this point Naclia was a little disenchanted by Rhessos after the whistle and nearly getting them blown on their butts. However, she would be riding a wyvern for the first time.

    Rhessos presented the wyvern to Naclia with a flourish. “Milady, I would like you to meet Ardoth.”

    Eliamn, clinging for the dear life on the rock she had been sitting on before, managed a gasp before she could pick herself up in time to look at the wyvern furling in its large leathery wings close.

    She stared at the creature in bemused surprise, somewhat in awe of that aerodynamic mass of muscles and sinew, scaly ridges, clinging claws and slitted eyes. Eli had known it would be a large creature, she had even seen them from afar, but... seeing it up close like this, seeming larger than life, was impressive.

    With a wry smile she settled back down, brushing dirt off her robes. Her reaction wasn’t so unlike what most humans did when they saw elves for the first time.

    It took about twenty minutes for Rhessos to saddle Ardoth. Naclia stood impatiently by for the first five minutes, until she realized that it would take awhile to get that massive saddle on the wyvern’s back. Talen helped, as it was definitely a job for two or even more people. Naclia plopped down in the grass and waited by Eliamn.

    Finally, when Ardoth’s saddle and bridle were secured, Rhessos turned to

    Naclia and bowed. “Milady...” he acknowledged her and directed his hands toward the wyvern. Naclia eagerly hoped to her feet, tossed an excited grin to Eliamn, and went to mount Ardoth.

    Naclia mounted the wyvern with a little help from Rhessos, then the knight fastened a belt around her waist and climbed into the saddle himself. Once they were both secured, Ardoth turned to take off, making the ground tremble slightly. Guided by Rhessos’s hand, the Wyvern pushed off the edge of the cliff and fell a few feet until the wind caught beneath its wings and lifted it into the air.

* * *

    Eli watched the wyvern go, smiling in satisfaction as she saw how delighted Naclia seemed to be—it proved her assumptions right... and for that alone their stop in Dragon Breath was quite worth it.

    Naclia seemed to have the time of her life... on the other hand, Talen still had his feet on the ground. “You did not intend to ride with her?” she asked him.

    Talen smiled at the sight of Naclia taking off in the wyvern, it seemed to be going smoothly so far. His attention was caught from the sight by Eli’s sudden question. He looked over at her, then back at Naclia as she took off. “As much as I would love to, I do not have my own wyvern, nor do I know how to ride them,” he said and crossed his arms, watching how Naclia would do.

    The shamaness examined the knight and followed his gaze, spying the wyvern higher above rising on a thermal. Her eyes returned to him and she arched a flaxen eyebrow.

    “You seem quite moonstruck,” she said agreeably, wondering how he’d react to the assertion now that they were alone.

    Talen continued watching Naclia as she rode the wyvern, but his gaze was suddenly jolted away as he heard what Eliamn had asked. He looked over at her, then away for a moment, he had tried to hide the fact that he was nervous, but he couldn’t deny it. He did seem very distracted with her, it had been like that since they had first met. “Well...I suppose you could say that. But, she is a truly unique person,” he said softly, speaking only the truth about things that had happened. He turned his gaze back to the wyvern high above.

    The shamaness gave the human knight a moment to gather his thoughts before probing him further. “Are all humans so mercurial in their feelings?” knowing she now had his attention, she added “I find it a bit odd to find two individuals with vocations of importance to suddenly up and leave their established lives to join a small group of foreigners whom were merely passing by.”

    Talen looked over to the shamaness then back up to Naclia and Rhessos above them, giving a shrug. “Well I am on leave so this isn’t much of a problem, and perhaps traveling is a good idea, to get out and see the land and it is better to travel while helping others is it not?” he said.

    “Yes...” her voice trailed off, but then her eyes focused on him and she continued. “But still, we’ve just met yesterday and you barely know us. Seeing that you have an infatuation with Naclia... it just reminds me of a moth that is drawn to light, but it’’s a candle, the moth is going to die,” her voice trailed off again and she bent her head, letting her golden bangs cover her eyes. “Or maybe I’m the hypocrite. I might be singing a different song if I was the one you would be pining for. As it is, you’ve barely noticed me except when I made a point of showing I was around.”

    She sighed. “Please forgive me, Sir Knight. Maybe it’s best I just left the issue alone.”

    Talen looked over to her, then away slightly, she did have a point, indeed he did take a liking to Naclia, but what if it wasn’t meant to be? He didn’t know the answer to the thoughts going through his mind. He then looked back to her at the point she had made. “Forgive me, I haven’t really noticed anyone but her during this time. It must have been rude of me...” he said, looking to her.

    “Do not worry about it,” she told him. “No offense taken. Just make sure to be yourself and I am sure things will turn out as they should be.”

    Talen nodded, quite relieved that she wasn’t angry at him at all for the lack of attention. “I understand, ill be myself and we will see how things turn out,” he said.

    Eliamn joined her sleeves together and waited, her head craned up to look at Naclia’s progress.

* * *

    Naclia clung to Rhessos’s waist as they climbed into the sky. The wind screamed in her ears, and she laid them back against her head as close as she could, but it still wasn’t enough. Letting go of Rhessos with one hand, she fumbled with a heavy braid and positioned it over her ear, then did the same thing on the other side.

    Once her ears were no longer being whipped, she looked down at the shrinking landscape below. She was not afraid, in fact, she was confident that if she fell, she had plenty of time to summon Sylph. The only thing on Naclia’s mind was wishing that it was Talen with her, and not this stranger. Not that she knew Talen all that well, but he was familiar, and attractive. Perhaps she could have been attracted to Rhessos, but he was so blindly inconsiderate, he annoyed her.

* * *

    Lyassa was on the horses back. She kept her eyes focused ahead, but she couldn’t help but to look at the new horse she had been given. She leaned down and gave the horse a soft pat on it’s head while moving her hand down its mane. She then looked at Aiden. “Well, I suppose we should wait for the others,” she said to him.

    Aiden walked alongside Lyassa and her new horse and gave the mare a pat on her neck. “So, what are you going to name her?” Aiden asked. He figured she must have a name, as it would be terrible to regard her as simply a vehicle. As an elf, animals were just as important as people. They must be cared for and respected, or else they wouldn’t return the favor.

    Lyassa rubbed her hand through the horse’s mane. “Landia.,” she muttered at first, then spoke louder. “I’ll name her.. Landia.” She smiled slightly and put her head against the horse, she seemed to like having the creature. Afterwards, she slowly raised her head after enjoying Landia’s smell of her hair for this was the first time she got to use a horse. Lyassa, the young priestess made a silently promise to take care of her. The priestess turned her head to him, with a cheerful expression. “Think thats a good name?”

    “It sounds good,” Aiden replied. “Some how, I think it suits her. Something about her coloring and the name sounds right together,” the elf mused, petting the mare’s neck.

    Aiden’s ears pricked as he heard a commotion behind them. Guards were shouting, people murmuring, and fast footsteps were gaining behind them. Aiden spun around, ready to draw his sword, and a young man bumped into him. Unbeknownst to Aiden, and unseen by Lyassa, the boy slipped a scroll of paper into Aiden’s bag from inside his baggy sleeves while he feigned at being clumsy.

    “Sorry! ’scuse me!” the boy shouted and took of running. Aiden stood dumbfounded as the boy ran off.

    “STOP HIM!” a guard shouted, and Aiden looked back only to find that the boy had disappeared into the crowd. The guard murmured a curse, then continued his pursuit, leaving Aiden confused.

    “What was that about?” Aiden asked Lyassa as the excitement continued down the street.

* * *

    They climbed into the sky until they were soaring in the haze of low clouds. Breathing was slightly laborious, but it was incredible to be so high.

    Despite the unique opportunity, Naclia wasn’t enjoying the flight as much once they began to soar. She didn’t want to share this experience with a stranger; she would have preferred Talen, but she could have enjoyed it even more than she was now with Aiden or Eliamn. After about twenty minutes, Rhessos glanced back at her and shouted, “Do you want to go back down?”

    Naclia nodded, hoping that he meant landing. She didn’t want to shout back.

    Giving a signal to Ardoth, they began a decent, circling back towards the cliff. Ardoth landed in the same place he took off, beating down strong winds on Eliamn and Talen again.

    When Ardoth laid back his wings, Rhessos unbuckled himself and dismounted to help Naclia down. The elf went through the pleasantries of thanking him and walked to Talen. As she didn’t she couldn’t help smiling at the knight.

    “Milady,” Rhessos said to Eliamn. “Would you care for a flight as well?”

    Eliamn smiled her thanks but made a dismissing gesture with her hand. “I will pass. The wyverns are marvelous to behold but I do not desire to ride on them.” She stood up, smoothing over her wind tousled hair and walked over to Naclia and Talen.

    She grinned when she saw what Naclia had done with her ears and her hands came to properly rearrange her ranger friend’s braids. “I trust you enjoyed yourself?”

    Rhessos bowed to Eliamn, seeming disappointed. The knight turned to his wyvern and went to work unsaddling it.

    Naclia grinned back at Eliamn and let her arrange her hair. She noted the gesture as a sign of the success of their bonding from the night before. “It was fun,” Naclia replied, then softly added, “It would have been better if I had someone to share it with.”

    It took a few minutes for Rhessos and Talen to unsaddle Ardoth. When the wyvern was free of the harnesses, it took off, blowing the group with strong gusts of wind. The saddle was loaded into the cart again and Rhessos said goodbye to the elves before leaving down the path.

    As Rhessos was leaving, Aiden, leading Lyassa on her new horse, came up the path. Aiden’s blue eyes widened as he saw the view from the cliff. “What a beautiful place!” the elf said in a reverent voice. “This place must be gorgeous at sunset...”

    Lyassa looked up as Aiden spoke, her eyes too widened she had never seen anything so beautiful before. “I agree,” she said softly. “I bet it’s really pretty.” The priestess looked away a bit, she still felt uncomfortable around the other two elves, for they probably disliked her now.

    Eliamn gestured toward Aiden and Lyassa for Naclia’s benefit before heading slowly down the slope to meet them.

    “Lady Priestess, Aiden,” she saluted with a nod of her head, but then went right to business. “Perhaps we should stop at some establishment to eat something so Sir Drecloud could have the chance to pack up his things before we would get underway?”

    Talen waved his hand in front of him “No need to worry. I already have the belongings I need on me. I had already planned ahead of time,” he said assuringly. “So we can venture out whenever you are all ready.”

    Naclia was happy to hear Talen was prepared. She was eager to get on the road. Even though she was more social than Eliamn with humans, she didn’t want to stick around the city for long. “Well, it looks like everyone’s ready to go, so lets get on the road,” Naclia announced.

    So, the three elves and their newly gained human companions left the cliff and retrieved their horses. Since the had three mounts between the five of them, Naclia rode with Talen and Eliamn rode with Aiden on Tiash. The light weight of the elven women barely mattered to Tiash or Talen’s war horse, so they wouldn’t be encumbering to the animals.

    It was mid-afternoon as they road away from the grand city of Dragon Breath, heading north through Moss. What adventures lay before them, they didn’t know, but Aiden and Naclia were more than eager for them.

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