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Fantasy by Richard S. Tuttle
Thousands of years ago, humans attacked Elvangar, the land of the elves. The elves responded with a devastating attack, which ended with the sealing of the human city of Angragar. Sealed by the hand of Kaltara and hidden in an impenetrable jungle, Angragar has remained dormant waiting for the prophesized Astor to arrive and reopen the gates.
Now that the Time of Calling has arrived, Angragar has awakened, and the elves of Elvangar prepare for a human invasion. Caught in the middle are four elves who have escaped from the Island of Darkness. Eltor, Caldal, Mistake, and MistyTrail tread carefully in both lands as the world prepares for a war unlike any other in history.
Thousands of years ago…Kieran yawned and stretched as the first rays of the sun peeked through the window of his small room. He rose from the bed and walked to the window. His almond-shaped eyes blinked twice as he gazed out at the sunlight flashing through the trees of the forest. His right hand rose reflexively to shade his face from the glare of the morning sun. The young elf inhaled deeply, as if to sample the air of the new day, before turning to the washbasin on the table next to the window. He quickly washed and excitedly hurried to the kitchen for the morning meal.“The sun is already up,” his mother chided jokingly. “You have already lost the first race of the day.”“Good morning, Mother,” smiled Kieran. “I guess I did stay up too late last night, but I want very much to score highly on the test today. I still have several hours before I must be there.”“You worry too much,” his mother smiled as she placed a bowl of oatmeal on the table. “Your talents are strong, and you study hard. You will do fine.”“I know,” nodded Kieran as he sat down and drew the bowl to him. “Doing fine is not the question, though. I seek to score the highest ever recorded on the mage test. I think I can do it.”“I am sure that you can,” smiled his mother. “I suppose you will be studying some more before you leave this morning?”“No, Mother,” Kieran replied seriously as he pushed the bowl of oatmeal away and rose from his chair. “More studying will not help me. I am going to the temple to pray.”Kieran’s mother smiled proudly as her son rose. Kieran hugged her and then rushed out the door of the house and down the flight of stairs to the beach. As he ran along the beach towards the center of Alamanda, his eyes were drawn towards the sea. He almost stumbled and fell as he came to an abrupt halt.Far off on the horizon were a dozen large ships, far more than Kieran had ever seen at any one time. His eyes strained to identify them, but they were too far off. He shrugged and continued his run towards the elven city and the temple within it.The elven homes that he raced past were modest wooden structures nestled in the sevemore trees that lined the beach. He paid no mind to them as his eyes focused on the gleaming stone buildings of the city before him. Excitement coursed through his body as his feet left the sand and landed on the stone blocks of the city street. His eyes darted towards the quay where elven trading ships were loading goods destined for foreign and exotic shores. On any other morning, Kieran would have been tempted to stay and watched the loading and listen to the stories told by the elven sailors, but not today. Today was a special day. It was the day of his mage testing.Kieran turned away from the harbor and ran towards the temple. He smiled and waved to friends and strangers alike as he raced through the city streets. Many of the residents of Alamanda knew Kieran and most knew that this day was his day of testing. Shouts of encouragement followed Kieran all the way to the temple. He grinned broadly at the encouragement as he slowed to a walk at the base of the stairs to the temple. As excited as he was, Kieran knew better than to run within the temple.Kieran solemnly climbed the outside steps leading to the main level of the temple. He walked through the entrance doors and headed for the staircase that would take him to the roof. A priest coming down the stairs stopped and watched Kieran cross the entry foyer of the temple.“Today is your day,” smiled the priest. “I am pleased to see that you have taken time for your devotions. One must never forget their obligations to Kaltara.”“I would never forget,” Kieran responded with a smile. “It is Kaltara that will aid me today. Without God, I have no talents.”“You are a wise boy,” nodded the priest. “You do not have to go to the roof. There are many empty prayer rooms available. Would you like me to pray with you today?”“No, thank you,” replied Kieran, “although you could offer a prayer for me if it pleases you. Besides, I prefer the roof. I feel as if it places me closer to God.”The priest placed a hand on Kieran’s shoulder and nodded. “It would please me to pray for you,” he smiled. “Go to the roof. Do not keep Kaltara waiting.”Kieran smiled and nodded and started up the stairs. He fought the urge to run up the stairs, and each step seemed to last forever. Finally, the elven boy reached to the top of the stairs. He moved out onto the roof and stared up at the sky with reverence. The sun was over the tops of the sevemore trees as he knelt in the center of the roof and began praying. Time lost all meaning for Kieran.The first indication of trouble was the smell of smoke. Kieran pushed the distraction from his mind as he concentrated on his prayers. Suddenly, shouts ripped through the air and the elven boy found that he could no longer concentrate. He rose to his feet and felt a shock ripple through his body as his eyes took in the sight below him.Twelve great ships sat off the coast of Alamanda. Fiery arrows rained from the ships towards the city and the sevemore forests surrounding it. Elves raced away from the water’s edge as magicians on the ships began casting fiery projectiles at the city. The reverberations of impacting force bolts echoed off the stone streets and buildings. Kieran watched in horror as stone buildings collapsed and great fires raced through the forest. His first thought was for the safety of his mother. He turned to race into the temple, but he found the friendly priest coming out onto the roof.“Kieran,” the priest said seriously, “you must carry a message to the king.”“I cannot,” protested Kieran. “I must get my mother to safety.”“It is already too late for that,” frowned the priest as he pointed along the coast. “They struck that area on the way in. There is no hope for the families living there.”“But I must try,” cried Kieran. “Send someone else to the king.”The priest placed both hands on the boy’s shoulders and looked him in the eyes. “Hear me, Kieran,” the priest said sternly. “There is no time to waste. The humans are intent on destroying all of us. Already their smaller boats are bringing troops to shore. You have always had strong faith in Kaltara, but I doubt that you realize how strong Kaltara’s faith is in you. It is Kaltara that has commanded me to come up here and send you to the king. You are the only one who can make it there. Kaltara will guide you.”“What am I to say to the king?” asked Kieran as tears flowed down his cheeks.“Tell him that Angragar has attacked us,” instructed the priest. “Tell him that humans have betrayed us as was foretold. Remind him that he was told to never trust the humans. Make him swear revenge for this treachery.”“I don’t understand,” Kieran shook his head. “Why would the humans do this?”“The humans have turned away from Kaltara,” explained the priest. “Never again can the elves trust the humans. Go now. Run swiftly, and may Kaltara watch over you.”Kieran raced into the temple and down the stairs. When he emerged from the temple, he faltered as his eyes took in the destruction of the city. Piles of stone rubble lined the streets where shops and trade stalls used to be. Everything that was flammable was burning, including the forest on both sides of the city. Elven bodies littered the streets, and small boats were ferrying humans to the quay. Several strong blasts struck the temple, sending showers of stone over the steps. Kieran reflexively ducked as slivers of stone rained down upon him. Suddenly, the priest stepped out of the door of the temple. His white robes were covered in blood and one of his eyes was swollen shut.“Run, Kieran,” commanded the priest. “Run with every shred of your energy. Go now.”Kieran stared with horror at the old priest. He immediately turned and raced down the steps of the temple and into the forest behind it.