Prologue: Child of Blood and Beast
Once upon a time, under a leaf covered sky and amid howling winds, there was a little village among the snows. Nortrieln was a hard land, filled with monsters and winds that clawed both life and heat from the body, but this little village endured.
One day there were two little boys born. There wasn’t much remarkable about them, other than the fact that they were born on the same day to two different mothers and two different fathers. Still for the little village that was enough. They thought it was a good omen.
One of the boys grew strong, and joined hunts at an age that amazed the villagers. He was a fierce and wild hunter and soon he had surpassed the hunters of the village. The other boy, was not as strong, but soon he displayed a natural skill for guiding the flows of magic, he learnt all he could from the shamans but it was not long before they had nothing more to teach him and their art was different to his. He was a strong guru.
The village delighted in these children, and it flourished and the children were the best of friends, almost like blood brothers.
Then children became men, The Hunter was gone longer and longer in search of challenging prey. The Guru had long left in search of other mages and gurus in particular he could learn from to advance his craft. The Village failed to endure, swept away by the passage of a behemoth. Many a village did not endure Nortrieln’s winds and monsters.
The Hunter was left without a home, but the cold wilds accepted him, and he fed on the monsters, growing stronger still. The Guru met many other mages, and grew in his understanding of patterns and currents in the flows of magic, he wandered, learning new things from each mage he found, whether they turned out to be a friend a foe, or merely uninterested in his existence.
The Hunter became renowned throughout the lands he roamed. The Guru likewise became known as a Arch-Guru as he wandered.
They would not however, wander and roam forever.
In the nature of such things, the Hunter came across a behemoth. For seven days and seven nights he and the beast fought. When he won, Nanlach the moonfruit was full and Relhs the realm of torment was obscured by the true moon. He feasted on her flesh and his wounds were washed away.
People were drawn to the corpse of the great beast as though they were carrion birds, as did other beasts. The hunter however kept domain of it, slaying any that would steal his prize. The hunter was loathe to leave the behemoth, his prize. The beasts were the first to bend knee and beg for the flesh of the behemoth, the people soon followed.
The Hunter found himself the head of a community living around and off the behemoth, for the flesh of such a beast does not rot. Not only that, it was discovered that the Hunter had taken such care in his killing blow that the flesh still regenerated, though, that would hardly last forever.
For a time, the Hunter was content. He gained trusted companions, strong enough to watch over his prize and the budding town around and partly inside it, so he hunted again.
The behemoth town was attacked of course, such a prize was too much to not try for, it was rare for a behemoth to be slain. The town was sacked, but the Hunter and his companions drove back their foes. It was then that the townsfolk began calling him King. The Hunter King was content, but he thought of his friend, the Guru.
He and his people rebuilt the town into a city within the body of the behemoth. Again, he thought of his friend the Guru. He saw that he did not have a court mage, so he sent messengers searching for the Guru.
The messengers never returned, but people talked of the messengers of a new behemoth kingdom, and the Guru heard, so one day, he came to the behemoth kingdom. He was well impressed by the hunter’s prowess in taking down such a being, and well impressed by the city within. He was amazed that the spirit of the behemoth still lingered, and so bound it where it rested.
He readily became the court mage of the Hunter King.
It was as if the two had never parted, their friendship renewed and remained strong. The Guru however saw that the Hunter King would wane and die, and was filled with sorrow, but then he had a thought. Since the behemoth kingdom was new, there were many that worried about its existence and the Guru and the Hunter King had no end of political troubles.
So, the Guru suggested that the Hunter King marry the princess of a strong kingdom, the very kingdom the behemoth kingdom was in. With this, many of their troubles would be quelled and the Hunter King could have children that the Guru could guide and protect throughout the ages.
The Kingdom of Dramay was happy enough to send one of their princesses. They were glad to have a tie to the behemoth kingdom within their borders, after all, they did not dare attack it with both the Hunter King, his companions and the Guru present.
The Hunter King and the Princess, now a queen, did not love each other at first. They did however get on well, and were quite dutiful and respectful of each other. They knew why they had married and were content with their lot.
All was not well however.
The Queen was barren, not only was she so, but the Hunter King was no better. The Guru tried all that he knew that could help, but the Hunter King remained sterile and the Queen empty. Was it a curse? Perhaps, but magic only seems to be completely orderly. The patterns in the flows and the flows can be capricious, deeply obscure, and it is rare magic that affects neither flow nor pattern but the form of a being. It was then that the Guru understood the true limit of the power of mages. It was not endless, however great it was.
The Hunter King would not abandon his Queen and it would have done no good to do so. The Queen did not wish to abandon the Hunter King.
That would be the end, but while other beings also have their limits, they can be different than those of a mage.
The Hunter King had a dream one night, while gripped by a burning heat. It was a vision from Carmos, the Sun King, the Aryaith who the Queen worshipped. The Hunter King did not worship any of the Aryaith, though he knew not if they were gods or not. He did not worship them, but still he bolted from his bed, taking a dagger with him.
He rushed through the city into the depths of the behemoth. He climbed his way inside the heart of the behemoth. There, he cut his hand, and let drip his life’s blood. He called out to the beast. The bound spirit stirred. He asked the behemoth for a child. This was why it was he that had received the vision and not his wife. Carmos did not even think of how this showed his own limits, or perhaps he did not want to think of them.
The Hunter King was the one who held a connection to the spirit of the behemoth. The spirit, being from a beast, respected its slayer. The Hunter King did not hear it speak, but he understood that it was willing to go along with his wilful wish, but that it would turn the boon into bane if it was not released afterwards.
The Hunter King stepped out of the heart. It began to pump once more, glowing hot and steaming as it did so. It then crumbled away to ashes and the Hunter King found amid the ash, a baby girl.
Carmos would have blessed her with his mark, but the Hunter King still held no faith in him, trusting more in the spirit of the behemoth.
She had silvery hair, and red eyes and pale skin, but this was not anything strange, as that is how the ouirh are, and how her father was. She did have a wolf’s tail, but the ouirh are one of the hulvish kind and they are humans descended from wolves, so sometimes a hulf would have a tail and it wasn’t at all surprising for a hulfpup born in such a manner to end up with one.
In the morning, the spirit of the behemoth was freed, but she decided to stay and watch over the kingdom that had been made from her body. Carmos was none too pleased by how many in the city came to view the spirit, but in the minds of many Nortrielners, the Vlahrohian Aryaith were too soft a bunch for the winds of their land anyway. Many tales were still told of when the Aryaith Skaillakh was cruel tyrant of all Nortrieln, and many believed she was just biding her time before trying to freeze the world of Kigan again.
Few worshipped the Aryaith in Nortrieln, preferring instead to bargain with spirits.
The Queen though was quite delighted and if anything became more devoted to the Lightforger.
As for the little child. She was given a name. Olice. It was not a special name, quite a common one in Nortrieln, but The Hunter King had always liked it. She grew healthily into a cute little girl and nobody could have told the difference between her and another ouirh child.
The guru did know the difference. Olice’s heartflame, the spark of all life that feeds the flow of magic, was far larger and stronger than that of a mere hulf. The gifts of the behemoth did not end there, as she was stronger in body too.
Still it was the heartflame that was the problem, as the child learned on her own that she could work magic by drawing on the flame. The mage was greatly worried, for magic casting using heartflame is the kind most dangerous to the one using it.
For a time he tried to teach her, but he was ill suited to teaching, and it did not go favourably. After much consideration, The Hunter King, the Queen and the Guru decided they had to send her away to learn the ways of magic. It was that or she’d blow the whole place up!
One of the mages the Guru had met on his travels was a powerful witch and she owed him a great favour, thus he sent Olice to her.
That was how Olice was born and became the apprentice of the Witch of Dimensions.
[The winners of the poll are Gemmask Jee, Honest Lak, Galaham, Heed, Sachs, Duum(the armour from chapter 11) and Tough Snaps! Those were at the same number of votes and everyone else was lower but the same as each other, Next time I’ll have a poll that isn’t such a mess, got a plugin and everything. Also feel free to make more people aware of Fabled Hearts by voting for it on Top Web Fiction HERE …yeah you have to keep voting even if you voted before, votes are valid for seven days]