King Dyryke was restless. He had tried so hard to get a good night’s sleep, but had failed. He was growing desperate. After all, the fate of the Dakridor Kingdom lied on his decisions. If the explorer was not mistaken, there was still a chance to save Dakridor from eternal tyranny, the annexation by the Lucea Dynasty. King Dyryke had ascended his father’s throne with high expectations. The people of Dakridor saw in the young prince a savior, someone who would rescue them from the never-ending war and threats of takeover by the Lucean Lord. The fight had begun a hundred-years ago, and a century later, still seemed no close to ending. The people were exhausted, three generations had given their everything in this war. King Dyryke’s own father Matthijs, was slain during battle. Desperate to find a solution, the people of Dakridor believed in Fate and Destiny and all kinds of fortune-telling and astrology. King Matthijs had even hired a soothsayer, an old woman who miraculously told the fates of the folk. There were rumors surrounding her, that she was incredibly gifted by Fate to be her interpreter in the mortal world. Sigvalda, she was called, and she never had been wrong. Owing to her growing reputation among the common public, King Matthijs had gave her the rank of the Royal Soothsayer, the first of her kind. Sigvalda was invited on a public festival, Krost Day, to speak in front of the public. All ofc the citizens of the Capital were present in the King’s Palace, and all eyes were on Sigvalda. She stood on the chapel, her eyes closed, as if in a trance
The fate of Dakridor lies not in the hands,
But the hoofs of a creature of magic
For It shall lead you to Blessed lands
And save Dakridor from a fate so tragic
Follow It on the path it takes
Easy or difficult, far or near
A journey to The River It makes
To a treasure of which one seldom hears
The people of Dakridor, along with King Matthijs, were all astounded to hear this prophecy. The King asked his advisors what it meant. His advisors told him of the Legend of a magical doe, the glowed bright white even in the night, that protects whosoever takes its company. If one took the magical doe with him, he is seldom met my ill luck and everything goes in his favor. What more, this doe was said to have been blessed by Wisdom herself, and she knew of things that no one knew and places no one had heard of. If the doe accompanied the ruler of a kingdom, the kingdom shall rise beyond imagination. And now, this prophecy meant that the doe shall appear and lead them to a place that hosts a treasure.
The Legend of the Doe was so ancient that people didn’t know anything about it. Only the historians had read about it in the archives of old. Aerowen was the name given to her. King Mathijs created an expeditionary force, whose main purpose was to find Aerowen. But fifty years had passed since the prophecy, and King Matthijs was dead, but Aerowen wasn’t found. People expected their new king Dyryke, a man smarter and more rational than his father, to lead a successful quest for Aerowen. But the war with the Lucea Dynasty only grew worse with time, and Dakridor had neither the time nor the resources left to search for Aerowen. Effingleche Forest lied north of the Capital, a forest that covered an area wider than the Capital Phiadence itself. The woods of Effingleche were sinister and dark, with sunlight barely penetrating through the thick roof of trees. People said that once someone entered Effingleche, it was difficult to find a way out, as ways lead on to ways, till a person was lost. One of the expedition team to Effingleche returned back because they kept track of their way by dropping a bright cloth after every short interval, others were not so lucky. People grew more and more hesitant to volunteer to venture to Effingleche, saying they will rather die in battle than in the forest.
With some luck and motivation, King Dyryke had finally managed to gather some young volunteers for the expedition, and now he heard of a news. Tristán Aldana, a young but faithful soldier, and resident of Phiadence, was the lone survivor of the latest expedition. And he came with good bearings.
“Your Excellency, on my way back, I happened to stumble on a cave. It was pouring heavily, so I decided to take a shelter there” said Tristan with an excited voice. He continued “Sitting in the mouth of the cave, I saw a faint glow into the depth. Curios to find out what it was, I went deeper within, but my eyes saw something so bright that it nearly blinded them.”
“Did you happen to chase it?” said King Dyryke
“Yes, Your Majesty, the thing was so fast that it moved within a second of being spotted. The cave apparently had another entrance, leading to the other side of the forest. I saw a creature made of light and the sight mystified me. I suddenly felt happy and hopeful. But the creature had vanished before I could comprehend what I had just seen. But I swear on whatever I hold dear that I saw hooves, Your Majesty, marks of hoofs where the creature had stood.”
Tristan was taken to the resting room of the palace. The King tended to believe him, after all he looked so shaken, he must have seen something. So, Aerowen is in Effingleche, at least that much is confirmed.
Kind Dyryke spent a restless night. The next morning, he received a message from Garcia, the Lucean Lord. Surrender now and the lives of Dakridoreans will be spared. King Dyryke knew that surrendering now would mean that Dakridor would have been fighting for nothing. Many generations, including his father and his grandfather would have died for nothing. King Dyryke knew he couldn’t surrender.
But the Lucean Dynasty was in a position of a favorable win. Dakridor had lost a lot more men than the Luceans. They were suffering very badly and had lost funds to make new artillery. Everything pointed towards humiliation and defeat. This was the moment. King Dyryke thought. Maybe Aerowen was destined to save us this time.
King Dyryke decided to lead the expedition himself. If things didn’t tur out in his favor, people eould remember him going to Effingleche, a savior.
He took his most valiant soldiers with him, a bounty hunter and a cartographer. By night time, they were in the midst of the forest. A mysterious presence haunted the forest and King Dyryke started to believe all the myths surrounding the forest. People said the Effingleche was possessed.
King Dyryke and his companions kept an eye for the cave, but it was nowhere to be found. Exhausted by the day’s journey, the expeditionary group decided to sleep. They arranged a tent for the king. A few hours since they had slept, they heard a sinister music. It was unlike anything they had never heard. A few king’s men went delusional on listening the music. King Dyryke quickly covered his ears to keep himself sane. The sky had changed from the last time they had looked upon it. All the stars had vanished from the sky, other than a few. The few stars made a straight line, pointing towards the East.
The King’s company carried all their things and went towards the way the stars pointed. The stars lead them to a pond. No expeditionary force had ever reported seeing a pond before. The pond had radiated an enchanting energy. King Dyryke looked into the pond, seeing his own reflection. On the other side of the pond, he saw the reflection of a deer, the likes of which he had never seen. He was enchanted by its tender beauty, the grace with which it moved. Even the air surrounding it seemed to be mystified. King Dyryke was astounded beyond words. The reflection of Aerowen pointed towards the left, where path had been made. It looked so well-trodden, human hands must have made it.
The King’s Company moved on the path. And behold, there she was, glowing with a brilliant white light. Her light touched everything within the visible range. She hummed a strange theme, a music that had turned some men delusional. For a while, everyone was so surprise bounded that no one could dare speak nor move, afraid that they would scare it away.
The sun had risen and the King’s Company set on it’s way to go where Aerowen led them. Aerowen seemed to be shedding a starnge influence on the men. They were unable to think any sad thoughts, nor did they get hundry orfatigued.
As they were making their way through the forst, they were hit by a strong force. They turned to see a black horse, it’s darkness diminishing all the light in the area. The Legends had spoken of Astaris, aerowen’s Nemesis. It came straight for Aerowen. One of the King’s men was gravely injured, but thankfully, Astaris had gone. But the injured soldier was in a strange trance, all he could saw was sad, unfortunate things. At last, he attacked the King in a deliberate fit. The soldier had to abandoned on his own. He was a danger to everyone.
Aerowen had vanished one morning they woke up. She was nowhere to be seen. But the Kingdom was saved. Aerowen had lead them to an old Palace, one of the Blessed lands, a strange one, which had a river in it. One man had to drown in the river, there it was a map to the treasure. The men made their way to the treasure, but they found no gold or silver there. There was a single vial, and on it, these words were inscribed:
“A drop of this liquid shall transform the sea into this liquid. Bath your horses and deer and they shall be as magical as Aerowen, ride those creatures and victory shall be your own”
The King was relieved. He could finally save his kingdom from doom.
ON their way back, the King believed he saw Aerowen once again. But a mist surrounded her and she transformed into a human. Aerowen had been Sigvalda all along!