Quick note: Stick around after the story to find out how to enter the Mordecai Episode One: Bloodthirsty book and art giveaway I announced last month!
Read Davu and the Fallen Star | Part One by clicking here.
Read Davu and the Fallen Star | Part Two by clicking here.
There once were two million dark elves living in Kervossa before King Gudrun crushed the first of the royal gems, the sacred stones that held within them a pathway to all of the multiverse. They were artifacts passed down from king and queen through every generation, and although the stones’ power went untapped, the Gudrun throne conquered every inch of Kervossa. But King Gudrun, father of Hilde and Ranveig, was not content with the land he had, as his father and mother were. King Gudrun wanted more; he wanted power. But where his forebears understood the risks involved in tampering with the power of the gods, he understood only his own desire. Crushing the stone in his fists, he found the dark, dusty world of the Adze. It was a world long since forgotten, fallen to its foundation and blanketed in death. King Goodrun returned almost immediately to Kervossa, but with him came the shapeshifting, plagued bugs of the dead world. The light of the small bug flickered on the king’s shoulder still when first he knelt before the temple doors upon his return. When all was done and the plague and war had reached its peak, only a handful of dark elves remained. And the number continued to shrink.
The candles blew out in a brisk wind. Davu rose from the table, but King Gudrun and Hilde were already on their feet. A noise like the cracking of thunder had echoed through the temple, but it was no thunder. It was the doors to the age-old domain of the dark elf king being torn asunder. King Gudrun drew the sword sheathed at his waist, and Davu followed the king’s lead, taking the spear from his back and holding it at the ready. The chef who had served them their dinner entered the dining hall shivering with fear and holding a wooden spoon as his defense. “Do you have a weapon, my daughter?” asked the king mutedly. Hilde only shook her head.
“I will defend her,” said Davu. King Gudrun only patted his shoulder.
“She is deadly, weapon or no. Come, Meraveru,” whispered the king, waving the chef on to follow with them. “Stay near.” And into the darkness of the temple King Gudrun led them, leaving uneaten food on the table and the candles still smoking. Shadows crept up and clung to the walls and their decorative paintings, morphing to their shape and texture. Great kings and queens with names too long forgotten to matter now stared woefully from their paintings upon the four passersby taking gentle steps in the darkness of an enemy invasion. But the king knew that darkness was equal parts strength and weakness to the Adze, who could move in a friendly form through the night but not disguised as a bug with a light on its back glowing softly for all to see. Davu understood as well as King Goodrun and Hilde, and possibly more so than the chef who wore an apron covered in fresh livestock blood, that any elf they encounter now could be an enemy come to slay them.
Even King Gudrun’s own son, who emerged from the shadowy hallway in a hunched, violent manner, his dagger ready to kill, was suspect. But Ranveig stopped short when he saw the faces of his father and sister, and he held his dagger low. “Keruvu and Daravara have fallen, father. Don’t trust their forms.”
“Can we trust yours?” Davu asked, harsher than he thought he should have in hindsight, but neither King Gudrun or Hilde lowered their defenses or turned against him for his question. Ranveig cocked his head and stared at Davu with sharpened eyes.
“Dare you question me?”
“Dare he indeed, my son,” said the king. “Are you among them? Have you endured their attack?”
“If you all wish to turn against me then I’ll survive this abush on my own,” growled Ranveig, and he dashed into the darkness again, his father’s hand reaching out to grab his tunic in regret. But King Gudrun’s chance was gone, and so was Ranveig. The king stood still and silent for a moment and then shook his head.
“Never mind then,” he said at last. “We all must survive somehow.” He continued on through the temple, Davu to his left and Hilde to his right, and the chef with a spoon cowering behind. The front room of the temple came into view then, the throne empty and the once sealed doors in pieces before it. “This is it. This is how I kill my people, with negligence and poor choices. With greed.” The king snarled quietly to himself, small tears gathering in the corners of his eyes.
“You have not let us down, father,” said Hilde in a way that could cast away any fear. “The Gudrun line will live on. We’re survivors.”
And as she spoke, the chef wheezed and gargled, a sword protruding out of his stomach. The weapon slid out easy and the spoon-wielding elf fell limply to the marble floor, revealing Keruvu standing tall with the killing sword in hand. “You, the creature of the throne,” said Keruvu, though her voice was only vaguely familiar, distorted and shaky. Daravara rose from the other side of the room, the light of dusk that shone through the broken doorway glinting off his speckled skin, and behind him were more Adze disguised as the king’s own followers. And more yet still came behind Keruvu, their teeth bore and weapons held tightly. A small, glowing bug fluttered into the room, landing on the chef’s body and then morphing into a black mass that grew taller, took shape, and then looked identical to the dead chef over which this new being stood. “You took our queen, creature of the throne,” said Keruvu’s imposter. “You took our queen.”
Davu’s forehead was drenched in cold sweat, his spear shaking in his usually steady hands. “What do they mean, King Gudrun?” he asked, his voice no more level than his weapon.
“Father?” Hilde’s voice came soft, cautious. “Their queen?”
“When I stumbled upon the world of the Adze,” said King Gudrun, glancing over his shoulder at his daughter; “I didn’t want to leave with nothing.”
“You took their queen?”
“Our queen, creature of the throne,” said the Adze imposters, all in unison, like a chorus of flat notes.
“I took a single bug,” the king growled, not in anger, but in fear.
“Where is it now?” Davu placed his hand on the king’s shoulder. “Give them this queen, and we will be free.”
“It escaped–the same day that Hilde went missing. All my resources were devoted to my daughter. My heir. My star, bright enough to light the dark. Their queen is lost.” The king turned away from the Adze and placed his hand gently against Hilde’s face. “I’m sorry–”
King Gudrun’s words fell short. Keruvu’s blade had struck him down, lifting him up and throwing him against the throne. His body crumpled and fell to the floor, and he was dead. Hilde reached for him, but Davu grabbed her arm and pulled her away, sprinting out of the temple and into the night. The Adze followed close, swarming around the trees and leaping like no dark elf could. Crisp air whipped against Davu’s face, turning his cheeks blue and making him yearn for the warmth of a desert afternoon. The Adze surrounded them, forming in a circle on all sides like shadows rising from the trees.
“Enough,” cried Hilde, holding her hands up and looking the Adze in the eyes. “We’ve done our part. The creature of the throne has fallen; his world is now ours.”
“What are you saying, Hilde?” Davu backed away from the princess, his eyes wide and dark, but she only smiled.
“Bow, my children, to your queen.” And upon her command, the Adze bowed. “The king’s daughter was fierce, a star as her father said. But stars fall.” She held out her hand and Keruvu rose from the mass of Adze and brought her a sword. “You’ve done well, Davu of Earth, to save me from the wounds given to me by the princess. And now your purpose is complete, and your form will be a welcome addition to our swarm.” She raised her weapon, and Davu raised his. But before they could clash, a dark shape fell from above, a cloak and dagger moving through the night. Ranveig’s dagger cut the sword from Hilde’s hand, but she was quick to kick him away and catch Davu’s spear as he jabbed it at her throat. She shoved it back, ramming the back of the spear into Davu’s chest. Ranveig rose as quickly as he’d hit the forest floor, standing side-by-side with Davu. Hilde grimaced, and then she laughed.
“The last two defenders in all of Kervossa stand before an army.” She looked around at the Adze, their eyes glistening in the night. “Take them, my children.”
The swarm of imposter dark elves flooded towards Davu and Ranveig, who pressed their backs against each other. Davu’s spear was first to kill, slaying the Adze with long, powerful strikes. Ranveig didn’t move with his dagger; instead, he raised his hand to his lips and blew a cloud of the red powder he’d used to light the torch in Davu’s room. Fire filled the air, catching the trees and the Adze without bias and sending smoke billowing into the air. Their enemy doubled down, descending upon them like the undead warriors in the fairytales told by Kervossa’s elders. Davu and Ranveig were set to fail, to fall like all the others. But as they were overcome by the attacking horde, the night was suddenly filled with a bright, blue glow that cast away all shadows and darkness. And from that light stepped Bakuba, scout leader of Davu’s tribe, and with him there came an army of African warriors, scouts, and hunter-gatherers, each and every one wearing a mask formed from the skull of an animal killed in the deserts of Africa. Bakuba grabbed Davu’s face and put their foreheads together. “Come home,” Bakuba said, in his way of grunts and unformed words. “Come home.”
That day in the flaming forests of Kervossa, the Adze fell under the might of warriors unmatched. When it was done, only Hilde remained, the queen of the Adze standing in a sea of her subjects’ corpses. The African tribe lost only a handful of warriors, and those left stood behind Davu and Ranveig as they approached Hilde, smoke filling their lungs. Ranveig raised his dagger, but before he could strike, she was gone, morphed back into a bug and fluttering away.
Kervossa was left empty and on fire, so that when the last flame went out, only a scorched, diseased forest of dead wood was left. All prophecies had come true. Davu had indeed brought war to his tribe, but he’d also saved the lineage of the dark elves of Kervossa, allowing Ranveig to live on. Ranveig traveled with Bakuba and Davu and the others back to the desert of Africa, carrying their fallen tribespeople on their backs. The ancient stone which held the multiverse within was passed to the dark elf, at Elder Adeah’s command, so that he could travel wherever he chose and so that no man would hold the power of the gods again. Davu returned to his people and forgot the language of the dark elves. But as they traveled back to their huts and the valley they called home, a small bug landed on Davu’s shoulder, and the bug glowed gently under the moon.
The battle was over, but The War was just beginning.
Last month (June) I announced a Mordecai Episode One: Bloodthirsty giveaway! This giveaway will be in celebration of Mordecai’s one year anniversary this September. This giveaway, unlike my previous ones, will be US only. This is only because I have a wedding I’m saving for this November and international shipping costs a pretty penny!
The winner will receive a copy of Mordecai Episode One and this artwork by Matthew Myslinski, which depicts Mordecai, the titular African American half-elf, signed by both Matthew and myself:
If you already have Mordecai Episode One, you can still enter to win the artwork and your choice of one of my other books.
Here’s how to enter:
- Follow this blog.
- Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so that I can verify that you’re following the blog. I’ll also be using your email to contact you if you win and to get a shipping address.
- Increase your chances by following me on Facebook (page name: Benjamin J. Law), Twitter, and Instagram (both @BJLBooks). If you enter on my social media pages as well, include your username(s) in the email for verification or just direct message me. You can find links to my social media pages by clicking here.
- Enter now! You only have until September 9th before the raffle is closed.
Have a great August, and stay cool out there! Check out some of Matthew Myslinski’s work here: The Driftwood Archives.
Weekly Writing Prompt:
We all had silly fears as a child; write about an adult who still wholeheartedly believes in your silliest childhood fear.