This is a story of Gurdy Gurdis during Chapter 1.
The air smells of roasted WereBoar and spices and the fire crackled as it dies down. The hut was small, but considered luxurious compared to others in U’lik. A lyrical hum as Ca’rul, Gurdy’s family servant, mills around the kitchen, his humming always put Gurdy to sleep at night. Her mother, was at a local council meeting to discuss the upcoming warrior trials tomorrow and village business. It was typical in Gurdy’s village for the male Dwarves to train and teach the young females. They were respected in this role.
Gurdy ties up her hair above her head and jumps into her cot with her father. He smiles down at her and puts his arms around her shoulders, as she nuzzles into his chest.
“Papa, tell me a story.” Gurdy says looking up at her father, Gurdaivian.
“It is late, little one. And you have the first set of warrior trials tomorrow morning. Mother will be upset if I keep you up.”
“Please, Papa. Just one story.” She says, pleadingly.
“Hm, well, shall we recant the story of William the Brave and his intrepid steed Boris?”
Gurdy laughs, “No, that one’s silly!”
“Perhaps, Toddinkins the Short and his great rescue of Campaigna the Beautiful?” he asked.
“No, that is too sad.”
“Ah, perhaps the tale of the hero Carella the Barbarian and the evil wizard Ralnoth?”
“Oh, yes! I want to hear that one.” She said excitedly.
He paused for a moment as he collected his thoughts. You could see in his eyes his excitement, but also his unwavering quest to deliver this knowledge. He prided himself on training Gurdy and these tales were parables of sorts. A way for her to learn right from wrong.
“Carella was born in U’lik, as you know, and like all warrior females was put the trials at her coming of age. She excelled in battle and was considered one of the most revered females in our village. Of course this was long ago, before we knew traveled across the seas. Back then Dwarves weren’t really even Dwarves, this was before we knew of elves, humans, or any other race. Carella was Queen of U’lik, long before the council, and she was told to have brought our great tribe into a new age of Barbarians. During this time the feasts were plentiful, the people happy, and the children well trained and well behaved.” Gurdaivian lightly tapped Gurdy’s nose, she giggled.
“One day a traveler came through the village, seeking the Barbarians assistance and he was brought to Queen Carella. Queen Carella spoke authoritatively “Speak quickly, why have you come to our village?” The traveler was strange. He was tall and thin; he looked almost as if someone hung him by his feet and stretched him out.” Gurdy laughed again.
The traveler spoke, “Great Queen, I am Scyphus, from across the sea. A terrible band of bandits has slain many of our village members. I come from T’urn and small farming village. We are peaceful folk and are not trained warrior like you. I have come to seek your help as a great warrior. My village is prepared to return this help with gifts of food and various equipment.” Carella pondered this while her village looked at her, wondering what her reaction would be. “We will help you, Scyphus.” The queen declared, “The three greatest warriors of our village, myself included will travel back with you to your village.”
“And so it was planned. Carella and her companions would set out in Scyphus’ small boat, back to T’urn. There, they would first convince the bandits to release their hold on the village and use force if necessary. Once done, they would return with new food items, seeds, equipment to help our village grow and learn.
“The day came, and the entire village was there to watch Carella depart. It would be a long journey across the see and U’liks aren’t very fond of traveling over water. The first day the seas were calm and quiet. Carella and her companions learned much of how to travel the seas and how to use the stars as a guide. But the clouds turned gray and the sea began to tremble and quake. The boat rocked back and forth and the lightning shot down from the sky. Carella was helping to tie down a rope and a great wall of water came crashing down and threw her off the boat. She sank deeper and deeper into the abyss. She clawed and reached as fast as she could to reach the top. Her mind turned fuzzy… her thoughts raced… and her eyes slowly shut as everything went black…” Gurdy gasped her mouth gaping open at the tale.
“Suddenly a loud sound awoke Carella; she was laying face first in the wet sand. A small crow nipping at her hand, cawing loudly as it flew away upon her movement. She stood up and began to look around. No weapons, no food, Carella was defenseless. As far as the eye could see there were trees and bushes and thick dense jungle. Carella was lost.” “Oh no” exclaimed Gurdy.
“Despite her fear, Carella walked along the coast, keeping a sharp eye of her surroundings. She had no weaponry to defend herself, but her fierce training and her steadfast bravery were her guide. As she walked, she noticed a tree along the coast, it seemed out of place. This tree was bright and well lit, as if the sun shone directly from it. Nothing like a tree in a jungle. She walked up to it and examined closer. It had markings on it, like writing, but nothing she could read. She reached out to touch the markings and as her fingertips touched the bark, the markings glowed. A voice sounded! CARELLA QUEEN OF U’LIK FROM ACROSS THE SEA. She responded, “Y-y-yes?” “You must go north beyond the Jungle to the mountains, to a town of Silver, from there travel west to the castle of Scythedale, there you will fulfill your destiny as a great warrior and defeat the Great Wizard Ralnoth. He is developing an army of darkness that will enslave all of the land. Only you, Carella, can save this land.” The glow faded and the tree transformed, its bark become brown and its branches full of greenery. The markings disappeared. Carella stepped back and couldn’t distinguish the tree anymore from any other. She was confused and astonished. No one in our village had traveled to these lands. She wondered, “What magic is this? Is this a prophecy? For me?”
“Nevertheless Carella traveled on. She entered into the jungle; using the stars as a guide she traveled by foot for many days. Her survival instincts helped her to find food, make shelters, fire, and all the items she needed. She was well trained. She remembered her lessons from when she was young and used them. After two weeks she was weary and came upon a large city. As she entered into the city, Carella was astonished at the town. People just like you and me walking around. Dwarves. The size was enormous and city itself was great indeed with richness. Carella talked to a passerby and asked about the city and introduced herself as Queen of U’lik. No one took notice. She asked about the village T’urn, how she could get there. No one cared. She was no one here. Her small tribe and her quest would go unnoticed. She was lost, with no money and no hope of seeing home. Her mind still focused on the tree and what it said. Never one to be idle… Carella needed supplies.
“She found a nearby shop and asked the merchant to trade some items. A damaged warhammer, a rusty helmet, and some chinked armor for all her worldly possessions, including her family’s ring, a symbol of her stance as Queen. Without a second thought Carella traded it all. She had a quest and a prophecy to fulfill. She asked the merchant, “Do you know of Scythedale?” “Why do you speak that name, stranger? You are not from here and it’s very dangerous to talk about things that are not of your business.” “Please, I mean no disrespect, how do I get there?” “Get there,” the merchant responded. One does not get to Scythedale… it sucks you in. It sucks everyone in. Dark magic lies there, miss. Shadow. Stay away if you can.” Carella was fearful upon hearing this and she walked out of the shop into the square. She saw a town square with a large board full of writings. She couldn’t make out the words, but knew instantly what it was.”
“What was it, Papa?” Gurdy asked innocently.
“People, little one, missing people. Mothers missing their fathers, Wives missing their husbands… Carella knew what she had to do. This wizard was sucking up people, and she needed to stop him.”
“She set out west and it wasn’t long before she saw the castle. It was unmistakable. A dark shadow sat above it. She knew it had to be Scythedale. She called out, “I am Carella. Queen of U’lik. Protector of Warriors from far and wide. You have harmed these people for too long. Come out Ralnoth, and face your doom.”
A shadow moved from the clouds across the castle walls, down to the ground, over the dirt and grass it traveled and quickly formed around Carella. She was paralyzed. Not able to move. Then as quick as a flash, she was transformed into a dark room. She only assumed it was inside the castle, because there before her stood a giant man, glaring down at her with only a white smile among his dark shrouds.
“Carella of U’lik” said the shadowed figure. “You are right on time.”
“What’s the meaning of this?” She said struggling to move on her knees. “Why can’t I move? Release me!”
“I’m going to make you a deal, Carella. One that will either make you very rich (he waved his hand and a treasure chest appeared at her feet with gold, jewels, crowns) … very powerful (he waved again and an image of her at a throne with Dwarves, Humans, Elves all bowing before her) or … a slow tortuous painful death.”
At his last words the shadow grew tighter on her, painfully she shrieked. Carella used all her might to break free from the shadow restraints, but she was bound and couldn’t reach her hammer on the other side of the room.
“You see, I have brought you here, because you are a leader of great warriors. And I am in need of warriors.” The pain stopped, Carella caught her breath.
“What are you talking about?” Carella yelled. “I came over the seas to help a small village of farmers.”
“Ah yes, the village of T’urn. Poor Scyphus and his village of farmers.” The wizard laughed. “Scyphus is my servant. I had him go to your village to bring you here. I have foreseen you joining my collective, great Carella. I have knights, kings, queens, wizards all of them under my power with the help of my magical orb. And all of them are more rich and feared than all before them.” Ralnoth circled around Carella. “But I need a warrior tribe… Dwarven… who are immune to the orbs powers. My magic is capable of enslaving humans, but Dwarves and Elves it has no power. They must be willing to fight with me.” He glared down into Carella eyes, she shivered.
Gurdy was grasping Gurdaivian’s arm tight.
“Never,” she said. At her words, the shadow crushed upon her again sending pain through her body, wincing and breathless she yelled.
“Don’t fight it Carella,” said Ralnoth. “Either I kill you slowly in torture, or you join me and become the most powerful Dwarf ever known.”
Carella caught her breath, she took a deep breath. “What must a do?” she asked.
Ralnoth then said, “You must grasp the orb and say the words, “I submit to your power” and the transformation will be complete. Once you have done this. You’re fate will be intertwined with mine and we will be unstoppable. I will use my influences to see that you have many battles, riches beyond your imagination, and become Queen of all the Dwarves.”
Carella looked down; she slumped her shoulders, and said, “You give me little choice. Release me and I will do as you ask. I will take my place at your side.”
Gurdy whimpered, “No, No Carella.” Gurdaivian smiled down at her.
Ralnoth smiled and waved his hand. The shadow released her and Carella stood up, she rubbed her hands and turned to Ralnoth. He motioned to the next room. There stood a pedestal and a shiny black orb in the middle. Carella heard voices; she turned her inquisitive face to the wizard. Ralnoth answered, “The voices of those I’ve enslaved. You see, their essence lies inside. Their bravery, courage, strength, moral to do what right is all here.” He said touching the orb. As he touched it the shadows around him faded. When he released his hand the shadows returned.
“They become a vessel, a servant capable of doing anything I desire.”
“How many people have you captured?” Carella asked.
“Over the years… thousands… some of them are those who I sought after, kings and knights of the like. Others are peasants, farmers, those who got in my way. The orb renders me helpless while I’m in contact with it, but with each new soul, I gain more power.”
“So you’ve trapped their souls in the orb?” inquired Carella.
“In a manner of speaking, I’ve taken the good insides them. I’ve taken their essence and they cannot get it back. Once taken they are susceptible to my powers of persuasion.”
Carella looked up at him at this. She glared at him for a moment, and then suddenly Carella snatched up the orb and held it over her head.
“Stop!” shouted Ralnoth. “If you break it, not only will you kill me, but you will kill thousands of others. For once they are trapped, their essence cannot return to them. You would kill me, them, and even yourself… think this through Carella, put the orb down. Join me!”
She hesitated for a moment, and then said, “So be it!” In one quick motion she crashed the orb on the ground. It shattered into a million pieces. The shadow engulfed the room, making it dark for her to see anything. Ralnoth’s figure faded to shadowy dust and sank into the ground, only left to be a pile of dirt. The voices were gone in an instant. Carella felt her body fading; she looked down at her hands and saw through them as if she was mist itself. Then a light shown above her, she was moving toward it. She saw a Tower emerging from the light, as high as the eye could see. Her figure floated to the top of it. A voiced called out.
“Carella, Queen of U’lik, arise great Hero!”
Carella said, “Where am I?” She tried to use her eyes, but there were none to use. She tried to gaze upon whoever was speaking, but found that she could not gaze. She simply saw light and felt warmth.
“You have reached the Fortress Chell. Where the Honest, Just, Wisest, Virtuous, Fair and Courageous rest. Your sacrifice has granted you the highest honor among all. Your coming has been prophesized. As The Great Tree of Light, which only speaks truth, has foretold. Come, join us, and take your place as a great warrior. We have been waiting for you Queen Carella. A warrior of bravery and virtue.”
Carella bowed her head and in an instant, her being was gone. She became one with the other heroes. She became part of the Great High Tower, her soul collectively adds to the tower. Her essence exists within the walls along with all the other mighty heroes who have been given such an honor. “
Gurdaivian paused. “You see, little one, Carella stood by her virtues till the end and although she was tempted by riches and power. She remembered her ultimate quest.”
“What was her ultimate quest, Papa?” asked Gurdy.
“To be a great warrior.” He responded.
Gurdy paused, she sighed which turned into a yawn and smiled up at her father.
“Papa, do you think one day I’ll go on a quest?” she inquired.
“I have no doubt, little one. No doubt.” He smiled and touched her cheek.
Her eyes slowly shut as the world around her went silent.