Trinsanara of Meridell, Jurgazin of Darigan
A fiery red Gelert named Trinsanara stood at the top of
an emerald green hill, her ears blowing in the wind. She grasped a solid gold
sword encrusted with sapphires in the hilt. "Meridell! Land of field and forest,
I will defend you to my death!" The breeze, fragrant with hay and spices, caressed
her face. The fine chain mail draped across her chest rippled. Her long, lithe
tail, the color of hot embers, bore spiked armour, as did her supple legs and
back. She held the sword, a priceless treasure passed down through generations
of Meridellian warriors, proudly in her sun-gilded paws. The Gelert battle blade
which she once wielded with pride was now but a cast-off toy of her youth.
Slung across her graceful shoulder was a quiver
carved out of green rosewood. It brimmed with arrows, tipped with bright green
feathers and peridot arrowheads. Hovering in the air, too sacred to be touched,
is the bow. Carved out of a single piece of amber and inlaid with emerald, its
vibrance resonates in the clear air. The bowstring, spun out of a beam of purest
light, glows softly. Always at her side was her sack, with moss for treating
wounds and useful items like strong rope, a knife, and flasks of water. It also
contained children's’ toy weapons that were weak but useful at times. Around
her neck hung a ruby pendant, a stone from her ancestral hall, on a silken thread.
On the horizon, once cool unbroken green and
tawn, the clouds became stained with gold as the sun began to cast long red
shadows and tint Trinsanara’s fur copper. She looked up into the sweep of sky,
watching the floating citadel with loathing that sent hot prickles down her
spine. She turned and regarded the thatch cottage behind her with love and pride.
She was posted on the hill to stand guard over her village. The head of her
village’s peasant minutes, she was courageous and intelligent. Her brother had
once been the commander of the minutes, but when he was killed by Dariganians,
Trinsanara, grief-stricken, swore to serve in his place and avenge his death.
Trinsanara had heard of Jeran’s death, and it
increased her hatred of Dariganians thousandfold, if such was possible. She
had met Jeran during an assembly of the minutes, and she had great respect for
his courage and good heart. She had also been struck by his great good looks.
But there was no time for courtship to start, for the time was one of war. The
hero was no more, but Trinsanara was still alive and she vowed that Jeran’s
death, too, would not go unavenged. She hoped that Lisha and Kayla were all
right. She sat down on the grass and watched the twilight cover the land.
In a neighboring village, Trinsanara’s friend
Ziffandir was posted. The jewel-green Zafara leaned against a tree, drawing
circles in the dirt with his longsword. Stretched as far as he could see in
the cool blue semidarkness were fields of wheat and rye. Set about ten feet
away from the tree was a hay-stuffed bullseye target. He picked up his polished
oaken bow and fitted it with a sharp notched stick-- the real arrows in his
quiver were far too precious-- drew back the bowstring, took aim, and let fly.
It landed a few inches away from the center. He grinned to himself. Soon he
would be the best archer between Hope River Village and Saelue Forest, even
better than Trinsanara or Galadan.
Trinsanara wondered if Ziffandir was posted
tonight. If he was, perhaps he would see the signal. She fetched her Gelert
wand from her bag and positioned a serf lens on top of it. She then activated
the wand, causing it to shoot a tower of sparks into the air. Magnified by the
serf lens, a column of yellow-orange light rocketed up and out. She waited for
a while, and sure enough, she saw a small white ray in the distant darkness.
As Ziffandir was unable to use a Gelert wand, he used a Lightning Wand instead,
magnified with a serf lens.
Time for the confirmation signal. Trinsanara
pulled out her trumpet of deafening and sounded a 100-decibel note. After hearing
the answering sound, she notified her soldiers before leaving her post for a
short visit. She left her Gelert wand and serf lens in the hands of another
Gelert, who could use them to summon her in case of emergency. On her way down
the hill, she carefully returned the sacred bow to its pure keeping-place.
The red earth and wet grass were felt pleasant
on her tough paw-pads as her streamlined body flew down the hill. She skidded
to a slippery halt on the muddy road. She regained her equilibrium and made
her way quickly through twisted trees hung with curtains of leaves, fields of
berries and grain, and small ice-cold streams. She drew her sword in case she
rain into anything unpleasant in the dark-- Dariganian snipers, perhaps-- but
it made running difficult as it unbalanced her forepaws.
Finally, she arrived at the familiar road that
led to Ziffandir’s village. A cracked soapstone milestone read: “Six miles to
castle.” Trinsanara knew Ziffandir was somewhere around that thick knot of cottages,
right up ahead. She called out, “Ziffandir! It is I, Trinsanara!”
“Certainly took your time, didn’t you, Trin?”
a close-by voice answered good-naturedly.
“Oh, you try running on these roads after a
fresh rain in the dark!” she retorted indignantly. “Hey, I still can’t see you!”
At once a loud WUF! was heard. It was Animatus, Ziffandir’s Anubis, playing
with Waebarlugan, his old Turdle. The blue Anubis had been a gift from an explorer
relative who had made the long, long journey to the Lost Desert.
“Well, by the sound of Animatus, you’re somewhere
around here,” Trinsanara said. At once a bolt of sparks flared up in the darkness
as she activated her Gelert wand. He was standing about five feet away. He blinked
in the sudden burst of light. “Come to my tree with me, it’s drier there,” he
said. Trinsanara followed him.
Trinsanara took a scroll of spare parchment
out of her bottomless bag and laid it on top of a pile of Ziffandir’s conveniently
dry toy arrows, then set them ablaze with her Gelert wand. In the feeble, flickering
light, she saw Ziffandir’s old tattered surcoat, proudly dyed in faded Meridell
colors. The longsword tethered to the old scabbard at his waist swung unevenly
as he walked, too heavy for him. By day he herded the family sheep out in the
lush village pasture, and his shepherd’s crook staff was leaning against the
tree. She could see it was twined with wildflowers, and smiled; Ziffandir had
always been an artistic soul, with a penchant for creating things. He didn’t
like to show this side of himself to too many pets, though; Trinsanara was one
of the only ones who had ever witnessed him create an exquisite painting on
a flat stone with paint made from crushed Pusberries from Throud’s fruit stand,
and some egg yolks. The vibrant green and yellow served to make a meadow of
yellow tulips. Trinsanara enjoyed writing ancient Gelertian script in her grandfather’s
calligraphy lessons, but she preferred to analyze, decode and strategize. Of
course, she, too, had an eye for beauty, as beauty was all around her in her
She dug a pot of finely ground lapis lazuli
out of her bag. “I’d almost forgotten-- I have a surprise for you, Zif! You
better like it, too... it took me two days to crush that rock in Kayla’s unbreakable
mortar and pestle.” She drew out the copper pot and untied the twine, securing
the lid, near the fire, so Ziffandir could take in its hue. As soon as he saw
it, Ziffandir sucked in his breath. “Oh, what an intense, beautiful blue! Thank
you, Trin! I’m gonna use this for so many things... mixed with a small amount
of water it can be the dark blue of the sea, but with more water it can be the
sky, a cornflower, even an egg...” he chattered on, and Trinsanara, pleased,
carefully transferred it to Ziffandir’s paw. “Oh no, my time here has passed!”
she exclaimed in consternation. “I must go!” She bid Ziffandir goodbye, and
MEANWHILE, IN DARIGAN...
A Lupe, clad in the green, purple, and black of Darigan, wielded a flashing
sword in front of a grimy mirror. He watched his reflection thrust, and parry
invisible blades. He snickered to himself. “I can’t wait to get out there and
kill some Meridell scum.” He dropped his sword on the floor and flopped on his
bed of hay. Little bits of hay floated through the air. The cold stone walls
of his room bore witness to his tastes; on the wall opposite his bed was his
favorite poster. It had an image of Lord Kass and read, “Great Lord Kass: Defender
of Darigan’s Freedom.” Before going to sleep, the Lupe, whose name was Jurgazin
Vichgar, looked at the poster and thought how happy he was that Lord Kass had
finally killed that dirty Jeran knave. “If only I were old enough to join great
Kass’ legions,” he sighed. He got under the covers, prayed to Jhudora to bring
harm to the Meridellian forces, and dreamed he conquered Meridell.
Jurgazin was awakened before daybreak by his
older sister and only living relative, Paxula. A beautiful, care-worn rainbow
Lupe, she hoped that today would be the day her hot-headed little brother stopped
this mad devotion to Lord Kass and Darigan, and began his own devotion to the
cause of Darigo-Meridellian peace. Unlike her brother, the mutant Dariganian
ugliness had not marred her facade. She had suffered much for wearing not Darigan
colors, but a surcoat dyed with both Meridell and Darigan colors, and for not
supporting Lord Kass. She feared that any day now an Eyrie guard would knock
at their door and take her to Kass’ dungeon for treason, and worse yet, that
Jurgazin would do nothing to help her. She woke up her brother and told him
to get dressed, and she would prepare breakfast for both of them.
As Paxula scraped together what was in the kitchen--
a few hunks if stale bread, three links of sausage, half an onion, and a warm
jug of ale-- Jurgazin stretched and blinked. He had gone to sleep in his favorite
garments, and had no intention of changing his clothes. Paxula never did, anyway;
she always wore that same white tunic and skirt, with that dumb rainbow scarf
and surcoat that was supposed the be both Darigan and Meridell colors, or something.
Whatever it was, he thought it was ridiculous. But he tolerated it, since she
was his sister, and she was the one with the job and the Neopoints.
As far as he was concerned, all of his troubles--
from his mutancy and cramped living quarters to the chronic hunger pangs in
his stomach-- were Meridell’s fault, and if he could just fight a Meridellian
it would be solved. Such was his faulty logic, and such was the logic Paxula
tried to combat, but to no avail.
“Come eat!” Paxula called, in a voice strained
with sadness that bravely tried to sound cheerful. “I’ve got some of your favorite
Jurgazin laced up some soft leather shoes. “What
is it, ale and onions?” he said harshly.
Paxula sighed. “Well... partly. Come down, little
Jurgazin yawned grumpily and cast a sour look
around his cold chamber. He shivered, and threw a scratchy woolen cloak over
his shoulders. As he gingerly stepped down the creaking wooden staircase, trying
not to slip in water that had leaked through the roof from last night’s rain,
he gazed at the sliver of gray light shining through the loophole-like window
at the top of the wall. He cursed as he stubbed his toe on a vicious little
knothole in the water-faulted wood. He entered the kitchen, a small, claustrophobic
room with dark greasy smoke stains on the ceiling. It reeked of old sausage
and spoiled milk. Jurgazin suppressed a dry-heave as he made his way over to
the table and collapsed in a chair. He brushed a dead Vernax or two off the
table and sat quietly. Paxula bustled over to him and gave him a wan smile.
“Good morning, Jurgazin. I’m sorry, it’s sausage again. There’s ale and onions
and bread, too.” She patted him on the shoulder and went over to the chopping
board, slicing the sausage into pieces. She scooped up Jurgazin’s breakfast
in one hand and the jug of ale in the other, and set his breakfast in front
of him. She gathered what was left for herself and sat at the table opposite
“It looks like the sun is going to come out
soon, after this rain spell passes,” she said. Jurgazin grunted. “It’ll rain
first, of course,” Paxula continued, “but then it’ll be dry and bright. How’s
“Same as yesterday,” Jurgazin responded, “old
and pungent. It fills my stomach, though, so thanks. And the ale’s not too bad.”
“That’s good,” Paxula said, happy that Jurgazin
seemed to be in a good mood. “I like the ale too. Try eating the onion on the
bread.” How many permutations of sausage, bread, onion, and ale are there?
she thought. I’ll run out of ideas soon if I don’t get some new food,
and fast. Maybe some dried apples...
Jurgazin washed down the last crumbs of bread
with a swallow of ale. The ale tasted good but it was dehydrating. Thirsty,
he searched around for some water until he found a stone vessel half-filled
with rather dusty water. He drank some of it, then handed it to Paxula. “Here,
I found some water,” he said. “I’m going to go back to my room now.”
“What?” Paxula said in consternation. “Why?”
“To practice my swordplay,” Jurgazin replied.
Paxula sighed sadly. He was obsessed with fencing,
practicing for long periods of time in front of his mirror. But, she
thought resignedly, what else was he supposed to do? He couldn’t play
outside, as it was raining and he had no coat or good shoes. The world outside
was frightening these days, like the time when Paxula was a pup and went to
the very edge of the citadel and looked down down down...
There was nothing to do inside the house; she
could barely afford enough food, let alone books or playthings. There was only
the rusty iron longsword, which Jurgazin’s grandfather, a soldier in Kass’ army,
had given him as a gift. He said he had found it at the bottom of a forest pool
and kept it as a good-luck object, then decided it would make a nice toy for
his grandson. These days, Jurgazin viewed the sword not as a toy but as a weapon
destined to cause the demise of multiple Meridellians. Preferably one of those
uppity Gelerts with their odd whippy ears.
MEANWHILE, BACK IN MERIDELL SEVERAL HOURS EARLIER...
Long scarlet ears streaming out behind her as she ran, Trinsanara made her
way quickly back to her post on the hill. When she arrived back at her village,
she greeted several peasant minutes. “Naught amiss, ey?”
A pure white Aisha brandishing an ornate bronze
sword shook his head. “Nay, we kept watch but all was safe. We’d best be heading
to bed now, save a few night guards who’ll take it in shifts,”
Trinsanara nodded. “I can stay up all night,
if need be. But if I’m not needed, I’ll stay up for about five more hours, then
wake the others.”
The Aisha shook his head. “Young Trinsanara,
you’ve been very vigilant all week. You go to bed now, and we’ll watch.” Trinsanara
protested, but she was quite tired and in the end she agreed to let them watch
for her. She bid them all goodnight and entrusted her golden sword to the care
of a trustworthy old Draik. She padded across the grass and into the thatch
cottage she shared with a passel of other villagers. She slept until morning,
and the rest is history...