Preview Chapter: Red

Prelude – A long time ago, in a Forest not so far away…

Alynatalos. The shining city at the heart of the Great Forest. The testament to the love held by the elves for their All Mother, Sephine. Peace reigned here, due in no part to the strict discipline that permeated all aspects of life. Every day was similar to the one before it – the merchants opened their stalls and the guilds welcomed apprentices to their daily lessons. It had been so since before the Forest War, after the elves of Aynamaede returned to the trees and their temporary tent city was dismantled in the courtyards. Life settled back into a familiar routine.

Gaoth and Deala Wynrie, prominent members of the guild of sorcerers and general Alynatalosian society, sat in the grass one afternoon just outside of the front gates of the citadel, enjoying a picnic with their young daughter. The child had shown great promise in her early ability testing, leaning more toward magic than melee, following in their own talented footsteps. They could not have been more proud of her as they watched her running from tree to tree, picking flowers in her chubby fingers and shoving them into the now-loosening crown braid that held her dark blonde hair up off her shoulders. 

Concerned that she was getting a bit too far away, Deala rose from her seat next to her husband and called out to her daughter to come back. But the child had seen something behind a tree and her natural curiosity was blocking out the warning tone of her mother’s voice. Before Deala could even move or raise a hand to send a flurry of magic, an Ikedrian scout appeared from behind the tree and snatched up the child. Deala screamed as Gaoth ran to her side, then past her toward the tree as magic swirled and churned through the air around his hands. But it was too late…the scout had already disappeared into thin air with their wriggling and crying daughter in his spindly arms.

A search was mounted and quads of soldiers were dispatched. Gaoth had military training as a young male and he rode out every morning with the others to search the forest, but his daughter was nowhere to be found. Deala begged the High Commander to send a squad underground to look for her precious child, but her pleas were not addressed with any action. After many weeks of searching, the soldiers left the city gates one morning to find the child’s body, beaten and bloodied, laid out across the main path into the forest. Retaliatory actions were planned and some were even carried out, but for the most part, Gaoth and Deala were left to mourn their first born daughter. It was just not worth it to the High Council of Alynatalos to risk confronting the Ikedrians in their own home underground. 

When their second child was born, another daughter, they pressed her toward the paladin guild from the moment she could walk and talk. They tried to do the same with their third child, a flame-haired girl with a temper to match her stubbornness, but she exhibited such a talent for magic that they sent her to the magicians for training as well as required her to learn to fight alongside her older sister. Never again would one of their daughters be at the mercy of any foe, Ikedrian or otherwise. Never again would they bury a child. And so Nelenie and Tairneanach grew, and barely heard anything of their older sister Thala ever again.