The Night Before Wintertide
A Story by Kevin M. Gallagher, Jr
Icarus winced as he hit the ground.
“What are you complaining about? I was the one who crashed through the window,” Jason said, laying on the ground next to his mentor.
“Falling isn’t as easy as it once was.”
Both Jason and Icarus reached their feet and looked at the destruction before them. The ground had broken glass scattered about and they could see the fighting going on within the tavern from where the glass had once been.
“Do you think it was because I said other idiot?” Jason asked.
Icarus shook his head and they both turned north, towards the castle. They didn’t travel too far when they heard a scream. When they swung about, they saw Robert flying out the window and landing a few feet away from them. The dwarf stood up, brushed off the dust, and collected his battle axe. Before he could run back in, both Jason and Icarus grabbed his shoulders.
“Rob, enough is enough,” Jason said.
“The prince is right. There’s no reason to get yourself hurt—or worse—in there,” Icarus reasoned.
“Maybe I was a little harsh. Perhaps we could go somewhere private and talk more about this hat?” Jason asked.
“The name is Robert and wherever we go, they better have plenty of ale.”
“Okay Rob, okay.”
* * * * *
It had been centuries since the elf was part of the war for control of Ippius. Prior to the permanent settlements of that make up present day Arthica, many different races settled the three large islands that make up a majority of Ippius. It was the arrival of the minotaurs that forced the humans to fight for what they believed was theirs.
At the time, Icarus was staying in his thatched cottage found in what is now known as the Vanyatavar forest, just west of Argos. After years of adventure, he had finally settled down with the elven maiden, Zaleria Vamaer. The couple had met during a battle to save Zaleria’s tribe from an attack by a pack of lagano years prior and had fallen deeply in love.
The elven couple had decided to not interfere with the happenings of the other races, however the battle for land control had spilled into their home. The minotaurs had taken camp within the forest around their home and while out by one of the many streams, Zaleria was killed—mistaken as the enemy by a minotaur warrior.
When Icarus went to meet his love, he was horrified to find her body lying on the ground; lifeless. Without having a moment to mourn, the same minotaur that had killed his beloved came after the elf. Icarus was able to spring out of the way and readied himself for battle, however had no weapons to mount a proper offense. As the minotaur turned to charge, the elf was in motion and leapt into the air, his wings appearing and giving him extra lift. As the elf soared over his advisory, he grabbed a sword that was sheathed on his back—the wings disappearing as he landed behind the minotaur.
Icarus shook his head as he heard Jason calling his name.
“Icarus!” Jason yelled, practically in his mentor’s face.
“What is it, lad?” Icarus finally responded, with more anger than he had intended. “Jason, I am sorry, my mind was elsewhere and I shouldn’t have snapped at you.”
The elf had been lost in thought, reflecting back upon his long life—a blessing and a curse. Being part of much of Tellet’s long history was something the elf was proud of, but it came with great costs—losing his love during The Culling was one of those costs.
“Anything you want to talk about?”
“A tale for another evening. What was it that you wanted?”
Jason returned to the table he was sharing with Robert—notes and ale were spread about the table.
“Robert and I were going over his notes from past explorations to try and determine where we should search next. We’re at a loss and there isn’t anyone who knows Tellest better than you.”
“Let me see what you have.”
Icarus followed Jason over to the table and thumbed through the notes. He saw that Robert and his previous teams searched most of Draconis, including the islands of Ippius. Before he flipped through any of the other notes, he noticed that it seemed like Iona, the second largest island of Ippius, had yet to be explored.
“You’ve taken a team to Norkoth before Iona?” Icarus looked to Robert.
“Aye. We had a lead that mentioned those lizardfolk and headed there. In all of our research, nothing ever pointed us towards Iona,” the dwarf answered.
“So, you’re telling me you that you decided to leave the mostly peaceful island of Iona alone while you explored one of the most dangerous lands? You really are daft!” Jason interjected.
“Who are ye calling daft, lad? Evidence is evidence – why would I waste me time?” Robert countered.
“The boy is right,” Icarus started as Jason smiled. “Not about being daft. Going to Iona would have likely prevented the loss of lives. Although Andekus is known in all of Tellest, it is largely believed that she resided in the jungles of Iona for some time.”
“Now listen here elf, I’ve researched Andekus more than anyone else on this rock and I’ve never seen anything about her hiding out in a jungle,” the dwarf argued.
“Robert, although you have been around Tellest much longer than many other beings, you are still naïve. Plenty of history has been left to be forgotten. There is an abandoned temple in the jungles of Iona. It has been a very long time since I have visited, but since then, I had heard of rumors of an extremely generous soul making the temple their home,” the elf explained.
“Boys, dare I say it’s time for adventure?” Jason asked, putting his arms around Icarus and Robert.
“Your father won’t be happy,” Icarus mentioned.
“When can we leave?” Jason asked with a smile on his face.