Jorynn Azelin/Azelinda Ayrelyn Aerylan Aeryand Andrulin --------------------------------------------------- Once upon a time, in the far reaches of a Kingdom, lived a woodcutter's daughter. She was not very young, but not yet old, at the age when one should have gotten married a few years ago, but still had time nonetheless, and she loved the forest. Her family's house was on the edge of one, naturally, and Anne, as she was called, frequently spent days wandering under the trees. It was a familiar wood, and even in the unfamiliar parts Anne never got lost. One day, Anne found a part of the forest in which the trees grew tall and broad and old, their great branches gathering the sunlight so that the forest was quite dim, and few brambles grew along its floor. Too curious to turn back, Anne continued her exploration, marvelling at the age and majesty of the forest. She was an unusual sight in these abandoned parts, and if the trees could talk they surely would have chattered about her. As for her, she walked on, oblivious to any danger, enjoying the autumn sun and the crisp, clear weather. Presently the trees became abruptly younger, and the ground steeper, and then blocking the way in front of her was a great stone Wall. It was a tall wall: a fortified wall, with arrow loops and battlements, as that of a city or fortification, but buried within the forest with climbable trees so close, it could not have been in use any longer. Unlike so many ruins, it did not appear to have been looted for building material, and so appeared to remain quite firm, though years of wind and rain, moss and lichen had altered its surface. Anne reached out to touch the wall; it was cool and reassuringly solid. So it was that Anne discovered an old castle, which had been abandoned for centuries, and with fear as far from her mind as curiosity was close, entered its weathered walls. Massive in its construction, though not so much in size, and peacefully acquiescing to the creep of the forest, the castle captivated Anne. She wandered through its vaulted halls, admired its narrow, deeply-recessed windows, and climbed its stairs, the steps worn round and hollow by hundreds of feet. It seemed that nothing remained in the castle, for every room was empty, and besides a few half-used torches, nothing adorned the walls save cobwebs and birds' nests. The sounds of the surrounding forest floated through, muted by the deep quiet of the walls. Eventually Anne found the throne room, a modestly large hall built on a floor above ground. A broken throne lay crooked on the dais at one end, its wood dark with age, and the tattered remnants of three colored banners hung behind. Swirls of dead leaves skittered across the floor, blown in through unglazed windows. "Psst, wake up, she's here." "Wha?" "A girl. Someone came." Two men looked out over the throne room from the balcony. "We're supposed to kill /her/?" "That's the orders. Anyone who enters." "What the hell." He seems to move carelessly, but not a sound escapes as he eases into a standing position and lifts the weapon. Ann was daydreaming as she watched the sunbeams shine through the tall broken windows, refracting bright colors through the jagged edges of the stained glass that remained. Listening to the contrast of birds twittering outside and the somber echoing silence inside the hall, she barely heard the click of the crossbow's safety catch. The next moment Anne found herself standing suddenly a scant step to the side as a crossbolt embedded its iron tip a few feet behind her footprints. Her mind froze as a sluggish panic response slowly crept up her legs toward her throat. The bolt would have gone straight through her stomach had she still been standing there. As her mind struggled to comprehend the situation and devise a course of action, Anne's body moved of its own accord, twirling smoothly to face the back corner balcony, its eyes narrow with cool displeasure. Run! her mind finally screamed at it. Instead, it stood with her feet planted firmly against the flagstones, and Anne heard her voice carry clearly into the crisp autumn air: "Hold!" The command filled the hall with such power that the massive walls themselves would have halted, were they not already motionless. The archer had stooped to reload when her voice reached the balcony. Both watchmen automatically stopped and drew to attention. "You will report to the throne room /now/. /Both/ of you." The voice was calm, neither loud nor soft, and absolutely certain as to the outcome of its prediction. Though concealed behind stone pillars, they nonetheless felt her gaze falling exactly to their location as she waited for their reaction. The watchmen exchanged a puzzled look, How did she know we were here? but filed nonetheless down the spiral stair, heeding the stranger's command as naturally and unconsciously as they drew breath. Anne felt like she was in a nightmare. She had no control over her body. Her mind tore at her legs in an effort to get them to move, but they just stood there, waiting calmly for her would-be murderers to arrive. They entered the room from the main door: two armed soliders, one with a crossbow slung over his shoulder. With eyes unconcerned, slightly disturbed, and mildly curious, they walked unhurried, their soft footsteps reverberating through the vaulted hall. They paused awkwardly a safe distance from the girl, then knelt. "Forgive us, my lady. We were acting under orders." "Whose." "King Daren of Othswald. Othswald has long kept a guard outpost in this castle." "What for?" "We don't know, we only have orders to kill anyone who enters." "That order is rescinded. You will swear fealty to the Kingdom of Aeryand, and you will henceforth take orders from me, her Queen." "The Kingdom of Aeryand no longer exists, my lady." "It exists now. Swear." "I..." "I swear, my lady." ... "You /are/ of Aeryand, and you will answer to /me/." "Your comrades." "They are... outside." He contemplated killing her, and was immediately drowned in a compulsion to kill himself. "What is she?" "A sorceress, as fair as I can tell." "Why do we follow her orders?" "Good question. I would follow her to the ends of the earth. Wouldn't you?" He glanced up at the castle where she slept and let his gaze hang there. "Yeah. I would." And he sat down silently, disturbed that his loyalty could be so easily caught. He felt no malice from her, no fear of losing power, no driving purpose or mission, no good, no evil. She was simply there, and so certain of every thing she did that he could not doubt her. ----- "Kneel," she hisses. The two men kneel. "Well?" "My lady, we have orders to kill anyone who enters this castle," says one of them, who doesn't understand why he is accepting orders from this woman. "I see. From who?" ... "I see. Well, you will be taking orders from me from now on." The men seem a bit uncomfortable but don't disagree. "/I am your Queen/," she emphasizes, drilling each word into their consciousness. "You /will/ swear your undying loyalty to /my kingdom/." "Are there any others patrolling this place?" "Yes, lady. Four of us are outside." Ann orders one of them to fetch the rest of the men and the other to stay. The men act as if this is all quite normal, but their faces look a little confused. Ann doesn't have that luxury: she's effectively controlled by someone else now. Castle made of tamped earth encased in stone; stone added later; passageways between stone and tamped earth. Anne sleeps in small castle bedroom. Orders guards to fetch some wood, which is still damp. Leaves and dust swirl out of the fireplace when he brings it in to put it there. She borrows tinderbox and lights part of it. The fire spreads surprisingly quickly for damp wood. Guard leaves to join group, explains what he sees. Comment that rulers of Aeryand were sorcerer-kings. One says that didn't Venn the Great kill all of them? Local guard says his village calls him Venn the Scourge. Notes that all kings and queens except the first queen had raven hair, not golden. Ann kneels by the fire. She feels her body relax and slowly becomes aware that she can move her hands again. "Who are you?" she whispers into the dark, and feels her lips move in response. "I am you." "I'm an older you. A you from a long, long time ago." Intercept highwaymen intercepting merchant. Capture three men, slide one into path of arrows, negotiate for safe passage -> Green Rangers. Thus began the Green Rangers. There are many stories about their heroics, and balads about their bravery, but their origin and reality were far more cruel: a band of highwaymen bound by blood and gold and grain to protect the roads and borders of Aeryand. ------------------- Crown Colors: Gold == Hospitality: generosity, protection, responsibility Silver == Justice; Sorcery: truth, purity, sorcerous power Copper == Sacrifice; Compassion Room of ancestors, ghosts are faint. 20 generations: Aerylin would be the 20th, totalling 21 incl. founder's brother. Framed paintings on the walls of each, altar in the center. One end is Merek and Arslan with Jorynn slightly lower between them. Other end is family tree carved into the wall, sorcerers names written in white gold, kings and queens bracketed. Unusually non-linear connections between ruling generations. ------ King Merek and Sorcerer-Advisor-Brother Arslan Response to marrying neighboring princess: "I want a Queen, not a concubine." Queen Jorynn, daughter of the forester. Met Merek in the forest, who takes her back to the castle, gives her a room, and puts her in charge of the household, occasionally calling her in to interrogate on various matters of state. Takes her riding in the forest one afternoon to have a more personal conversation. Arslan teachers her to read. He is modest, wise and intelligent, but has a sardonic sense of humour. Takes a backseat to Merek in public, but equal with him behind the scenes. Under Merek and Arslan's agreement, her first son is Merek's, second Arslan's. Merek proposes at a banquet, defers her response to sunset the next day. Pulls her aside afterward and informs her that he and Arslan want her to bear Arslan's child. Nobody ever finds out, except the child, who discovers it himself (and keeps it to himself and his parents). This relationship is recorded in sorcerous lines on the family tree; not visible to the eye. ------ at the end, Anne chooses to make sacrifice. Carl, who finds her, turns to face off others. She sends him away. ----- Epilogue Anne can take visible form. Aeyrlin is separate, is spokesperson for the royals. But it is Anne who finds the king. Thunderstorm and pouring rain, nighttime, boy is lost in woods. Anne finds him and brings him to the castle, bids him gather wood (which is soaking wet) and causes the castle to light it so that he doesn't die of cold. After that some of the more adventurous children often came to play in the castle with Anne, who is now happy. Aerylin usually nearby. The castle is empty to the grown-ups.