Dawning is the prequel to “The Elderns” (originally “The Eldern Journals” which will be published on Amazon KDP. Book 1, Rising – September; Book 2, Resurrection – October; Book 3, Retribution – December 2022.
Without companionship this universe is a lonely place. Unchecked, my powers spiralled. As I touched the dull grey screen, flashes of mauve, lavender, violet and indigo danced around my fingertips. A gentle breeze swirled around my tiny cottage and for the first time in many years, the walls changed to a vibrant living crystal.
While the time has come to create order out of chaos, I am weary, desiring the company of my own kind. Intense grief overwhelmed me as images of the seven Elderns appeared. Living breathing beings, I thought. Once, maybe, but no more. My cherished companions died long ago.
Sensing my heartbreak, my firstborn son linked, “Mom, you must have faith.”
Unbidden, memories flooded into my mind of Dai, Inyaña and Sa’eda’s creation. Tiny and waiflike in appearance with black hair and eyes, Sa’eda was childlike and innocent, or so it seemed at first sight, but looks can be deceptive. While Sa’eda’s soul was tainted by malice and envy, Inyaña was perfect: tall, slender with a curvaceous frame and lustrous long hair cascading down her back, a fair unblemished complexion and blue eyes the colour of a stormy midnight sky at sea. While Inyaña’s companions chose flowing gowns and soft shoes, she wore leather trousers, a Basque, traditional lawn shirt and boots. Exquisite gems inset into a band of black gold around Inyaña’s wrist resembled the aura swirling around her. Sensing my displeasure, her midnight blue eyes twinkled with amusement.
Briefly, I sensed Dai’s presence. “Morag, look forward to the future.”
As I caressed a beautiful sage green crystal drop attached to a heavy gold chain, precious memories of Dai and Inyaña returned, peaceful years spent wandering this vast universe.
Dejectedly, I asked, “Is loneliness to be my future?”
Tears trickled down my cheeks when Inyaña’s words flowed into my mind, “But you are not alone, Morag, Aari and Adya have returned.”
“But the reincarnation of Aari is not my son.”
“Although another woman gave birth to the reincarnation of Aari, he will always be your son.”
I pulled a luxurious silver-grey fur cape around my slender frame. A delightful present from Inyaña on the day we ventured out into this frozen wilderness for the first time. Yet again, winter has descended and a blizzard rages covering the ground in a pristine blanket of snow. The narrow winding lanes are deserted, devoid of life other than my own. Sensing a familiar presence when thunder rolled, I glanced at the horseshoe bay. The sea stack split and a magnificent inky black vessel, flying vibrant red sails adorned with an emblem of a dragon in flight, emerged from the mist.
“Inyaña, you have rested long enough. Blackthorn has returned and so must you. The time approaches when we will be called upon to end E’rón’s reign of terror.”
The aroma of a simple lamb and barley stew, bubbling in a cauldron set over the embers of a dying fire, whetted my tastebuds. A little more wood, I thought.
“My Lady,” Briaeña pleaded. Sensing my impatience, the young woman retreated. Her voice tremulous, she whispered, “My firstborn son is volatile.”
“I warned you about the future, Briaeña, but clearly you did not heed my words.”
I glanced at Ailith’s daughter before placing a purple sage plant onto the roughly hewn oak table. Does Briaeña, I wonder, own the powers to control the reincarnation of Aari. Although Ailith claims otherwise, this feeble woman isn’t powerful enough to control my son, so he will create mayhem. The fight for freedom should be interesting.
“Sage will calm your son, Briaeña. Brae is powerful, and so must you be.”
Peace restored when Briaeña returned to her home, I tucked into the aromatic stew with fresh crusty bread and a jug of ale. The aroma of sage tea permeated throughout my tiny home as I enacted a spell creating a presence.
Quietly, I said, “Your duty is to protect this island and her inhabitants. No matter the cost, the villagers must survive.”
Struggling to rise, the old woman grabbed her walking stick. Amused when she ladled a generous portion of stew into a bowl, and reached for the bread, I acknowledged that despite her frail body she would endure.
Sensing E’rón’s interest, I linked with my old friend, “Venturing into my domain is foolish. Aari has returned and in time he will avenge Dai and Inyaña’s passing.”
Platinum and precious gems will be our people’s future, I thought. Creating this unusual metal and the exquisite gems took little time. They were beautiful: a rich sage green with purple stars at their heart.
Tears trickled down my cheeks as I glanced at the urn holding my firstborn son’s ashes. “Juan, you have rested long enough.” While creating a new body is a simple task, summoning a soul that is reluctant to return is not. Although Juan’s soul will respond, in time, there is no doubt that he will demand freedom. Finally, Juan accepted the inevitable.
“Mother, it would please me if you recreated the scar across my cheek. It is, after all, a right of passage.”
“If that is your wish.”
“When will my ship be ready to set sail?”
“Juan, Storm’s crew eagerly await your return.”
Tears trickled down my cheeks as his body lost form. “No matter the cost,” I whispered, ‘The seven Elderns must return and make ready for the final battle.”
The White Lord
As Juan stepped onboard Storm, Sylvie and the ship’s crew restored his spirits.
“It is time,” he quietly said, ‘To return to our homes. While visiting the shadow lands isn’t appealing, I have no other choice.”
“How can we visit a group of islands that are protected by a powerful Guardian?
“We head through the strait into the channel and onwards to the inland sea. The Guardian will warn Zúri of my arrival so entering the Shadows shouldn’t be difficult. Sylvie, I value your opinion. Will the Yldren and his offspring welcome me?”
“With open arms,” Sylvie responded.
My son’s laughter echoed around the ship. As Storm’s sails caught the breeze, with Sylvie by her helm, she headed out into the wild ocean pounding Rùm’s coastline.
“Mom, will Nayara break Khái’s heart or mine?”
“It is foretold. Make haste, Juan, Emyr and Caitrin eagerly await your return.”
Juan sighed, content when Kraekan appeared. He grasped her hilt and gently slid the superb sword from the leather scabbard. “After all these years, you have returned to me.”
Juan’s memories of the past, and my visit on the day the Laird of the Damned challenged him to armed combat, were rising. Fury emanated from him when he linked, “Why did you favour the Laird of the Damned? Had you not intervened, I would have defeated him.” My son’s shock when I responded was palpable. “I will not acknowledge Brae Guýgaal as my brother. Mother, identify the Elderns then explain why they are hiding.”
“They aren’t hiding. With Adya’s help, E’rón murdered Aari, Dai and Inyaña. My youngest son’s life ended when he sought to avenge Inyaña’s death. Juan, only Pilar survived.”
“Where is the seventh Eldern?”
“Sa’eda abandoned us long before her old friend’s lives ended.”
At the start of his long journey to the shadow lands, Juan glanced back at Rùm. “Sylvie, it is time, way past time, for me to be reunited with Nayara.”
A wave grew behind the schooner. As the ship’s speed increased, Juan prepared a simple meal of cured meats, cheese, fresh crusty bread and ale. His laughter echoed around the cabin when bowls of Scottish black raspberries and rich cream appeared on the ornately carved table. The unusual beverage and chocolate delighted Sylvie.
“Coffee,” I insisted as I stepped into the cabin, “with rich dark rum and chocolate is a match made in heaven.”
The gigantic ebony trees covering Zúri’s island in a thick canopy of green stunned my son. “Why would Nayara willingly leave this paradise to live in a tiny cottage?
As Juan set foot on the island, Storm disappeared. Seated beside the ocean, he sighed, contentedly enjoying the peace and quiet. The sound of waves lapping against the shore was relaxing. Briefly, his eyes closed. Sensing his wife’s presence, Juan awoke and glanced at a magnificent log cabin sheltered by the forest. “Nayara,” he whispered.
Nayara smiled while watching the wizened old man seated on the terrace of a tiny dilapidated cottage. Holding her gaze, he struggled to his feet. Slowly, his body changed. An exquisite twisted ebony cane inset with slivers of jade appeared. His back straightened, wrinkles vanished and lustrous long hair replaced the wispy grey strands.
Cradled in her husband’s arms, Nayara asked, “Isn’t it time for the White Lord to return to his people?”
Sensing the presence of old friends and family, Juan glanced once more at the inland sea. Ships, of all shapes and sizes, sailed around the headland into the bay. Sylvie’s words flowed into Juan and Nayara’s mind, “Golfo de Vizcaya welcomes our Elder and his wife.”
As Juan and Nayara renewed their wedding vows, he raised his hand bidding farewell to a tiny girl seated beside the standing stones. The linking delighted them both.
“You were warned this day would come. Juan and Nayara renewed their vows so it’s time to let her go. Khái, she was never yours: accept the inevitable and move on.”
Juan sauntered up the pathway towards Khái’s home. The once livid scar across his cheek was barely visible. Silence descended as he studied his adversary. His voice, low and husky, echoed around the bay, “Many years ago I claimed that for a little while Nayara would be in your care.” As they strolled, hand in hand, towards Storm, Juan glanced back at my son. “Lord Khái, Nayara is my wife, friend and lover. Our devotion survived beyond Death’s touch.”
His heart broken, my son accepted that Nayara didn’t love him. While I acknowledged Juan was a formidable opponent who would return to life, my son had not.
‘The White Lord has returned and his mother is preparing for the hunt,” E’rón hissed as his loyal servants gathered in the ancient homeworld. “Find Morag or incur my wrath.”
Dai and Inyaña
From the day of E’rón’s creation, I recognised that all was not well. I accepted the dark side of his nature was powerful, and these powers were growing ever stronger. I sensed Inyaña’s distrust of her brother’s old friend. For years, she watched him. As the old year drew to a close, Inyaña confronted Dai with her suspicions. Even though the evidence was conclusive, Dai refused to believe that their old friend would betray him.
“Dai, you must accept that his soul isn’t pure. Tainted by jealousy, he will ― one day ― seek to exact vengeance for perceived wrongs.”
“Perceived wrongs,” Dai hissed.
“For years have I watched your old friend. My distrust runs deep. Dai, changes, subtle but noticeable, are growing. It can no longer be denied that E’rón harnesses and manipulates the powers of dark magic. His soul is damaged, tainted by malevolence. Please, Dai, open your eyes and see what is before you. Even now I sense his desire to seize control of creation.”
“And yet I do not. Inyaña, are you certain that this isn’t jealousy, at least on your part? I sensed from the beginning that you didn’t want my old friend to accompany us on our travels.”
“No, I won’t accept that E’rón is manipulating dark magic. Inyaña, I trust him and so should you.”
As the gateway opened Inyaña glanced at her brother, “So be it,” she dejectedly countered.
The blizzard raged, covering Rùm in a thick layer of pristine white snow. Tears trickled down Inyaña’s cheeks when she closed the door to her cottage. A seafood platter, glass of Morag’s herb tea and fresh crusty bread appeared on the long low table set beside the blazing fire.
The villager’s despaired when the blizzard grew in intensity trapping them in their homes. Though Dai struggled to join his sister in Sanctuary, he failed to open the gateway.
“Morag, what am I to do? E’rón is a close friend. We spent many years wandering the universe, together.”
“You insinuated that Inyaña was lying. This is why her heart is broken. After she sought Sanctuary on Rùm, I closed the gateway ensuring you couldn’t intrude. Dai, answer this question if you can: how would you feel if Inyaña ignored your advice?”
“E’rón would not betray me.”
“While Inyaña is astute, you are naïve. On the day of E’rón’s creation, I recognised that he resembled Sa’eda. His soul is tainted. From the beginning I was aware that he desired total control over our universe. I will not offer advice as only you can decide on the path to take.”
When the gateway opened, and Morag returned to Rùm, tears welled up in Dai’s eyes. Images of the future flowed through the link into his mind.
“Dai, only you can decide, but I advise caution.”
“Morag, please allow me to journey to Rùm.”
“Permission to visit my island is denied. When you decide who you favour, whether it be E’rón or Inyaña, link.”
“And if I favour E’rón.”
“You will be cast out of the Elderns.”
“Divide and conquer,” E’rón hissed. His laughter, as he strolled around the inner chamber, could not be contained. “While Inyaña is astute, Dai is not. Maybe I could use this to my advantage. Or maybe not. Their time is drawing to a close so why waste precious time. The day approaches when I will rule the world.”
Adya and E’rón’s minions trembled when he caught and held each man’s gaze. “Without exception, and no matter the powers held, there is a beginning and an end to all life. I alone decide your fate. Support me, and you will endure, but if your loyalty lay with Inyaña, your souls will cease to exist. What say you?”
One by one, E’rón’s minions knelt before him to swear an oath of allegiance.
As E’rón strolled around the vast chamber, he sensed Inyaña’s interest. The smile was fleeting. He knelt before the black crystal prism and slipped into a deep trance focusing on a tiny cottage overlooking the ocean.
“Alone,” he murmured. “My plan succeeded.”
“What do you want of me, Morag?”
“From one soul created, two beings entered my world. Dai, while Inyaña is loyal, you are not.” Fury emanated from Morag as images of E’rón’s duplicity flowed into Dai’s mind. “Due to your actions, Inyaña is alone. If you wish to do so, I will allow you to travel through the gateway. Fail and Inyaña will be lost. Consider how cutting the link will affect you. Only then can you decide on the path taken.”
“I linked with Inyaña and begged her forgiveness.” Tears trickled down Dai’s cheeks when Inyaña appeared.
“Wandering with Sombrear will give us the time to decide how to deal with E’rón’s betrayal.”
As Dai, Inyaña and Sombrear’s souls returned to wandering, I focused on Adya. I sensed his fear and the guilt of betrayal, but doubted that he was strong enough to deny E’rón. Although E’rón strived to hide his presence from me, he failed to do so. Sensing the dark side of his nature had seized control, I retreated to the inner chamber with Pilar. My daughter is precious so no matter the cost, she must be protected.
E’rón’s laughter echoed around the homeworld. “My powers are growing,” he triumphantly declared. “Even our Creator dare not confront me.”