And so we come to the next part of the ballad and story of the current descendant of the union between Galin and Maltida ... the young prince of Elf and Dwarf heritage known as Sha...
Sha was handsome, strong and tall, his mixed blood making him like no other, his golden locks were that of his mother’s and his strength was that of his father’s. And yet there was such gentleness to him that many folk would always comment upon this aspect of his nature – which was ever so appropriate as nature was his passion. For twenty some years he lived at Woodhenge with his parents and younger sisters, Tara and Hilda, tending the earth using the Elven magical knowledge of the elements, working in harmony with nature and its seasons. The days at Woodhenge were peaceful and tranquil, and as for the warm nights, they were filled with song, stories and mirth in the great wooden hall. The cares and troubles of the outside world were always far away, always in the distance, or over the next horizon.
That was until the evil Dragonlords finally came to the Minerva Valley. Riding their black winged beasts of death and unleashing their hordes of Kraken Warriors and Trolls upon the golden beauty of Woodhenge. In the mere blink of an eye, what had taken years to create was overrun, destroyed, pillaged and burnt to the ground. In the ensuing madness Sha was taken captive, but his family were brutally murdered in front of his very eyes. Sha was then taken away in chains to the Kraken fortress on the sheer cliffs above the Endless Sea. On this journey a heartbroken Sha witnessed firsthand the destruction of the forests and nature, by man, as they were cleared away to make room for human civilization.
But the obliteration of the natural world was the least of the young prince’s concerns, for at the foreboding fortress of the Kraken, Sha found himself in the dank dungeons and tortured by Shemyaza, the ruthless and vile draconian king of the Dragonlords. The human king desperately craved the secrets of the Elven magic. He sought to wield it as a weapon to help him conquer even more land. But Sha was steadfast and defiant, revealing nothing. His silence brought him much torment and after hours of torture, and near death, the Elf with the blood of Dwarves, was left to rot in the dark with the rats; all the while knowing that they would return for him and begin the harrowing process again and again until he revealed all or was dead. And at this moment in time, as far as Sha was concerned death would be a welcome guest...but the fates however had other plans.
It was in this hellhole that Sha was rescued by the beautiful and compassionate human princess, Elaine, Shemyaza’s daughter. She removed Sha from the dungeons, secretly spiriting him away to her chambers, where she slowly and surely nursed him back to health. The princess had come to despise her father, learning long ago the cruelness of the man, daughter and father were never close and to the king Elaine was looked upon as another asset to be used when required. Why exactly the princess decided to help Sha is still a mystery, perhaps it was out of guilt, compassion or just to spite her father, who can say, but whatever the case may be, one thing is for certain that during this time of healing something extraordinary happened, a bond was formed between Sha and Elaine – a bond that blossomed into love, that most ancient and powerful of all magic that was capable of toppling kings and paupers alike. Elaine and Sha didn’t understand or comprehend how such a thing could occur, only that it had and it was wonderful and beautiful.
The sheer fact that an Elf with Dwarven blood running through his veins and a human could have such feelings for one another was a miracle unto itself. And so in those most vile and dark days hope was rekindled, for surely if such enemies could love one another so easily, then perhaps peace could once more return to the world of Arwin; a false hope perhaps, but hope nonetheless. But the moment wasn’t to last, for when Shemyaza learns of his daughter's doings, his rage is vast. He orders Sha to be executed in a most horrific manner, and Elaine to wed the brutish, Dagon, member of a wealthy family whose alliance Shemyaza needs. Elaine begs her father for mercy regarding Sha. But her words fell on deaf ears, Shemyaza was unmoved, compassion was not part of his make-up for he was hell bent on the extermination of all non-humans, and nothing would stand in the way of that goal – not even the heartfelt pleadings of his daughter.
But Sha would escape the chopping block. The night before his execution was due to take place, Sha was once more rescued by Elaine and set free, along with Rustum, a dwarf also left to rot in the dungeons, he and Sha having struck up an instant friendship in the few hours they were together. Sha tells Elaine to come with them but Elaine will stay behind to try and talk some sense into her father's mind, she believes that she can help more by staying. Sha thinks it is a mistake but he respects her wishes and with a parting kiss that lingers Sha vows to Elaine that they will meet again.
And so Sha and Rustum make good their escape. However it isn’t long before the enemy is hot upon their heels. And there was no doubt that during their dangerous flight to freedom Sha and Rustum would have been recaptured and executed on the spot if not for the timely intervention of Bok, a Troll who was an outcast amongst his kind for his passive nature and his stance against the Troll alliance with the Dragonlords. Bok hid the duo deep in a nearby cave away from the prying eyes of Shemyaza’s soldiers. And so it was that the company of two become a trio.
With his world burning around him and separated from his love Sha decides to start a campaign of guerrilla warfare against the cruel Dragonlords, he decides that it is time to stop running and fight, a momentous decision with far reaching consequences. And so the unlikely trio commence their campaign of attrition and in the process end up freeing many other Dwarves and Elves and soon become quite a thorn in the side of King Shemyaza. Word quickly spreads about Sha’s revolt and many flock to his banner, but it is not just the wee folk that seek him out, it is also some humans, who have no stomach for what the Dragonlords stand for, and who want nothing more than to throw the yoke of Shemyaza off of their backs, and amongst their number was the brave and chivalric, veteran knight, Strum, who single-handedly defeated the Beasts of Kroll, Strum who has bested every opponent that has dared to challenge him, a human champion who pledges his sword and life in the service of Sha. And so it was that mistrust and hatreds were put aside for brotherhood and the greater good
With his small army behind him Sha launches a bold and surprise attack on the Dwarf mines in the Grey Mountains. The battle is won, and not only are the Dwarf mines reclaimed, Dwarves and Elves and other wee folk like, Brownies, Gnomes, Faries, Gremlins and of course the mischievous Bogies, who were forced to labour in the mines are liberated. To them all Sha is hailed as a hero.
Needing to shore up support, Shemyaza brings forward the arranged marriage of Elaine and Dagon. Elaine has been unable to make her father see reason. The day of the wedding Shemyaza hears the news about the fall of the Dwarf mines. In a mad and crazed state, the Dragonlord declares that he will personally lead the counter attack and wipe out once and for all these sub-human species. Elaine, finally realises that her father’s soul is lost forever, and with no other course of action open to her, she flees the ceremony to join her love before it is too late.
And thus ends the second act of this ballad, the darkest part of the tale they say, and yet what was still to come would say otherwise.
Copyright © 2012 by Peter Jessop