The Ranger Of Severum

Gentle rocking interrupted by a sudden bob woke Trillian from his sleep.  He opened his eyes to find the stateroom empty.  Sunlight peaked through the curtains, falling in strips of gold on the floor.  The sound of water lapping and splashing soothed his mind as he lay on the bed a few moments.  Despite the calm, Trillian felt his chest constrict.  He was anxious wondering when Sideon would catch up with them.

Gathering himself, Trillian braced against the rocking to sit up as he shifted his legs over the side of the bed.  After grounding his feet on the floor, Trillian nodded in rhythym to the sway of the boat before standing up.  The first few times he’d tried to stand from sitting, he’d lost his balance.  Once in front of Yulissa, who laughed at him.  The motion to stand was swift.  He put on his shirt, aware of his need to eat and drink.

First he would find his mother and Yulissa, considering neither had woken him when they’d gotten up that morning.

Holding the handrail to balance himself, Trillian ascended to the deck, blinking against the fierce sunlight, shining freely in a clear blue sky.  Trillian couldn’t recall the last time he’d seen the sky so open.  There wasn’t much sunshine in the Severum.

Glancing about he easily found the women.  Yulissa stood beside his mother.  She smiled warmly at Trillian as they met eyes.  This strange woman who’d entered his life a few weeks ago consumed his thoughts.  He hadn’t decided yet whether it was because she was the first woman he’d encountered.

“And here is the devil himself.”  Yulissa stretched a hand in his direction as mother and son smiled at each other.

Their eyes locked intensely and Trillian stepped forward eagerly enveloping his mother in a long embrace.  She’d been waiting for them when they arrived at the docks two nights before. Trillian learned Yulissa had arranged the entire escape down to taking his mother with them.  He’d been alert, spurned by nervous anticipation in each step that took them further from the Severum. Trillian sensed Sideon would be pursuing in flight, riding with his fleet of Morfin –  hawk-like birds the size of lions.  Each one naturally fitted with enormous talons, shaved to sharp points, able to pierce right through an enemy.

Thankfully they had still not seen Sideon or his henchmen on the horizon behind of them.  Yulissa insisted it was because they passed through a portal to another realm, but Trillian was leery nonetheless.

Trillian let his mother go, taking in a deep breath of fresh air.  Traveling by sea brought him joy.  Perhaps it was the salty, fishy scent of the ocean, or the constant warmth of sunshine so foreign to him in the Severum.  Maybe it was getting to see his mother every hour of the day, or the chance to breathe without Sideon’s ever-present gaze hovering in his mind.

“We have much to discuss.”  Yulissa wasted no time.  “We will be to the Gate in a few hours.  When we get there, the ship will immediately dock in a large city.  One greater than either of you could imagine.  It is very important that you refrain from gawking.  My mission depends on your absolute solemn behaviors, even down to the tiniest flash of light in your eyes.”

The ranger thought the order more than possible, though in his heart he wasn’t entirely sure he could agree to it.  “Why is this so strongly required?”

Yulissa’s expression tightened, “Realm Jumping is forbidden, without permission from the High Ones.  The tyrant overlord uses his repulsive minions to guard the gates, in order to keep them secret.  They are trained to see everything, even the slightest flash of awe and wonder.”

“Who are these High Ones?”  Trillian’s mother asked.

Gorthnek, from the lands of fire.  One of them, Urgo, decided he was greater than all the races of the Universe, and warred against the Realms, capturing the Gates as he went.  After conquering the realms, he opened the Gates to hell and foul beasts flooded into the Realms.”  She looked to Trillian, “It is my job to smuggle the beings of Light into Giordan and collect valuable items along the way.”

“But,” Trillian began, slightly confused, “is this Urgo not already aware of a gathering?  If he is watching the Gates, and we passed through one, does he not already know?”

“Urgo does not fear Langoria, he knows Sideon rules with iron will.”  Yulissa replied, her eyes flashing to Trillian’s mother briefly.  “The people are subjugated to him, unaware of freedom and liberties.  It is unlikely Urgo will notice the inhabitants of Langoria passing through the Gates until Sideon has been defeated.”

“Defeated?”  Trillian exclaimed in disbelief, knowing such a thing was nearly impossible.  “Who are you expecting to overthrow Sideon?”  His eyes twitched between his mother and Yulissa.

“You.”  His mother smiled.

A sensation of fear filled Trillian’s chest as he considered what that meant for him.  “I am not–”

Yulissa smiled, “We have been discussing several options, Sosha and I decided you are the only one capable.”  Sosha, being his mother.  “I have seen what you are capable of, Trillian.”  She stepped forward slowly, “You have amazing powers.  If you could learn how to use those powers to your greatest ability, I guarantee you will defeat Sideon.  And in turn, Urgo.”

The weight in his chest became heavier, “Mother, I…”

Gulls squawked over head as the Lookout called, “Gate ahead!  All hands on deck.”

The crew came alive, preparing the ship for docking.

Trillian stood at the rail staring beyond the horizon into the uncertainty of his future, trying to imagine what it might be like to stand up against Sideon.  He was absolutely certain he would be able to stay solemn as they entered this new realm he’d never seen before.

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The Ranger Of Severum: Episode 9

While Trillian was on his way through the city, Yulissa found him first, “Trillian!” he heard her call. Looking around for her, he tried to swallow the lump of nervousness building in his throat. His eyes lighted on her coming across the square.  She was dressed in riding clothes which accentuated her willowy figure. He couldn’t help but admire the way she looked in them as her cloak swirled with her quick steps.  Her boots rode up to her knees, hiding whatever was left of her burgundy leggings which dove into them.  Her traveling tunic was grey, she wore a dark leather vest, and matching belts about her waist.  Her cloak swagged over to one shoulder, clasping in a large golden brooch, and her hair was braided hanging over one shoulder.  Trillian wished he could stop looking, but with women off limits, he’d never had the chance to really admire them before.

Her brow drew together in confusion as she approached, “Aren’t your wings healed?”

Watching her eyes flick back and forth caused his heart to skip a beat, “Um, yes.” He stuttered, “I haven’t tried to hide them away yet.”

“Could you try?” She prodded with a hint of alarm.

He smiled playfully, “Do they bother you?”

Her expression did not relax as she laughed, “No, not at all. It is rather important, though, that you do.”

“Why?” Trillian asked with a laugh, though the way she asked cause an alarm to sound in his head.

Yulissa’s actions gave him the impression she was in a hurry. Visibly she tried to relax and smile, “I haven’t had the opportunity to see you without them.”

Raising his brow, he tried to figure her out. He didn’t care for the way she nervously looked about, or how she seemed to fidget impatiently. After all, in his mind, she could have left the city at any point if it bothered her so much. And why was she so interested in him all of a sudden?

Trillian had to admit after six weeks of this cumbersome wear of his wings, he was ready to hide them away again. Standing his full height – which was difficult enough with the kink in his spine – Trillian dropped his head back, bracing in case of lingering pain, and folded his wings. He didn’t know what it looked like to hide them away, only what it felt like, but considering the woman’s reaction, Trillian could only guess it was certainly an unusual sight.

Yulissa’s eyes had widened, whether it was out of fear of disbelief Trillian did not have time to ask. As soon as his wings disappeared, she took hold of his arm, “Alright. Come with me. We haven’t any time to lose. Quick, this way.”

Bewildered with confusion, Trillian found himself following. “Where are we going?”

“No time to talk.” Yulissa stated, dashing to the northern side of the village.

Darting between row houses and narrow alleys, Trillian tried to make sense of the situation. Considering it had been his home for the last twelve years, it felt strange to be sneaking through the town. A few villagers watched curiously as they fled through the back streets. Trillian did his best to not make eye contact, feeling his cheeks redden with embarrassment.

When Yulissa finally did stop they were in the forest, safely out of sight from Severum.

“Would you mind telling me what this is about?” Trillian panted. Having physically exerted himself for the first time in six weeks he felt as though he might fall to his knees. Not to mention his aching back from sagging to one side for so long.

Taking three exaggerated steps toward a large oak tree, then five more to the right towards a pile of bramble, Yulissa crouched and began digging with her hands, “There isn’t much time to explain, my ship leaves tomorrow morning, and we need time to travel.”

Trillian reeled back, “What do you mean time to travel? I can’t leave Severum, you’re out of your mind. We don’t even know you.”

“The name is Yulissa, I’m a Realm Jumper, your life is in great danger.” Brushing off a small pouch, she opened it checking it’s contents. Seeming satisfied, she closed it up again, sticking it under her belt, then took six exaggerated steps to a grouping of bushes.

“My life? How would you know?”

Bending down into the bushes, she pulled out two large packs, “Listen Trillian, I’ll have plenty of time to tell you later, but right now you need to move.”

Irritation growing, Trillian put his hands to his hips, “If you don’t start talking right now I am going to—”

“Here.” She tossed him one of the packs carelessly, clearly not paying any attention. “And here is a cannister of water. You might want to drink some now before we get going, you sound rather thirsty.” She was referring to his pant.

He looked down at the cannister, then back at her. Yulissa pulled the strap of her bag over her shoulder, tapping her foot as though impatiently waiting for him to drink.

Trillian again found himself complying to the request. After a long drink of water, he did feel a bit refreshed. He capped the cannister off, putting the strap around his neck.

They stood staring at each other, both expecting the other to do something.

“You good?” She threw her hands out, “We need to go.”

“First, I need to know where you’re taking me.”

Yulissa shook her head, “Even if I told you, you’d never believe me.”

Trillian grit his teeth. His curiosity had kicked in, which created a great deal of conflict in his head. His duty to Severum and the likelihood of being murdered by Sideon for running off being the highest of confliction.  “I’m not going to go with you unless you give me some kind of reasonable response. My life could very well be in danger if I left the Severum.”

“You mean Sideon?” She laughed, “Your step-father is a coward. Especially since he thinks primitive distractions like women need sent off and away from his boys so they can fight mindlessly for him.”

“This coward you reference took the city over and killed my father.” Trillian defended angrily, “Who do you think you are anyway?”

Yulissa huffed, “Trillian, I guarantee I am your friend. Mark my words, Sideon is a coward. Everyone in all the Realms knows it, except for you blind fools in Langoria. Why nobody has tried to overturn your ridiculous leader is beyond me. Clearly your realm fantasizes your dark ages too strongly to have any form of common sense!”

“You’re unbelievable.” He exclaimed, “Are you listening to a wor—”

“No, you listen to me,” she started with vehemence, “you are wasting valuable time. Either you come with me willingly, or I will tie you up and drag you along behind me, do you understand?”

Taken aback, the ranger was at a loss for a reply. His mouth dropped open, but nothing came out as they met eyes.

“Good.” She whirled around, “now follow me. We haven’t much time.”

The ranger found himself complying yet again, put his pack over his good shoulder, and followed silently behind her into the forest.

The Ranger of Severum: Episode 8

After breakfast and seeing the surgeon for a weekly evaluation, Trillian was summoned by Sideon. Disappointed, the ranger would just have to wait to find Yulissa.

Slowly, Trillian approached the door to the library. A red sort of glow washed the floor outside of the open doors. After his nightmare, the appearance felt dark. His heart quickened as he walked up to the open doors. Stretching out his hand, he hesitated a moment before he knocked. He could see Sideon bent over his desk, examining papers and writing things down.

The library was warm and colorful compared to the stone hallway Trillian stood in. The desk Sideon sat at was toward the back, centered in front of the rows of bookcases surrounding the walls. Plush red seats were fixed about the room, next to tables with oil lamps on them so one might be able to read, despite the lack of windows in the room.

“Ah, Trillian, do come in.” Sideon looked up, and motioned with his quill, to a chair in front of his desk.

Trillian hesitantly walked to the chair, and sat down as best he could. His back ached a touch from the constant wear of his wings and he looked forward to the day he would be able to hide them away again.

Sideon began right away as Trillian sat down, “I understand you have been recovering these last few weeks, but I grow weary of constantly looking out for you and your well being. As soon as you are cleared, your duties will be returned to you. Our general grows restless covering for you at training, and wishes you back to care for your own men and apprentices.”

Trillian did not need his master to tell him all of this, as he was already quite aware. Twice, he had visited the training grounds to check in on his recruits. They seemed to be getting along well, but the annoyances the other trainers expressed were many. In Severum, each captain and Master Trainer had enough responsibility without taking up for someone else.

“Yes sir.” Trillian replied.

“And if you could do us all the favor of not battling the druids by yourself, I’m sure your peers would appreciate it.”

The ranger felt insulted by the jab. The insinuation was clear enough to Trillian, and while it was the ranger’s fault he had been injured, it had not been because Trillian was incapable of fighting.

“Is that all?” He asked hiding his irritation.

“No, it is not.” Sideon stacked his hands on the desk, making direct eye contact. “This woman that came back with you, Yulissa? Have you had the opportunity to see her again?”

“I have not.” Trillian felt his heart begin to race, disconcerted that Sideon would bring her up.

“I am sending you to find out what she wants with the Severum.”

Nodding slowly, the ranger took a light breath in relief.

Sideon continued without pause, “The fact that a woman has stayed so long in a city with virtually no other women disconcerts me. She obviously is in need of something, you brought her here, and frankly you are the only one I trust with an outsider. Discretion- as opposed to temptation -will guide your interaction with her.”

Trillian swallowed back the heat trying to concentrate in his cheeks. He would use discretion, but his mind was already engaged in attraction to the woman. “It will be as you ask, Master.” He nodded his head, “Was there anything else, sir?”

“Yes.” Sideon leaned forward, propping his elbows on the desk. “Your mother has been nothing but a basket case since your injury. Please write to her and inform her you are well. She doesn’t believe me.”

Trillians mother was on a heavily guarded retreat to the shores for some fresh air and rejuvenation. Sideon loved his stolen wife deeply, hating to see her pale and forlorn. She went to a castle at the shores every summer for a few weeks to perk up and taste the sun on her delicate skin. She always came home happier and healthier. Trillian was grateful Sideon went to such lengths to care for her, but it did not quell the anger over the loss of his father.

“You may go.” Sideon abruptly went back to his work, “report back to me when you find out what she needs and why she stayed so long before asking for it.”

Again trillian nodded once, “As you request, Master.” He stood, and left the library aware of a fluttering in his chest. Yulissa was the first woman to have aroused him. He hoped the nervousness in his flesh would not interfere with his ability to inquire of her with “discretion”.

The Ranger Of Severum: Episode 7

“These are rare artifacts.” The man squinted deeper, scrunching his nose as he pinched the manacle between his brow and cheek, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a shinier gem.” He spun a large, blue gemstone slowly in the light of a candle.

“How much would you say it’s worth?” Yulissa asked with a smooth, nonchalant tone, sweeping her hand through her hair. She already knew how much it was worth. She casually leaned one hip against the counter, supporting her weight on her elbow.

Frowning deeply the shop keeper took the manacle from his eye, “Much more than I can afford to give you, but, we might settle on a fair price?” His comical appearance was enhanced as he twitched his white mustache under his large pointed nose, blinking once at her. He had a tuft of white hair brushed to one side crowning the top of his head, while the rest encircled the middle from ear to ear.

She heard him tapping his foot, and wondered briefly if it was a habit, or to hurry her decision along. Cupping her chin, she tapped at her jawline with her forefinger, “That sounds nice, but I’m almost certain I can get a better price at the docks.” She ran her fingers lightly over a golden pocket watch, beside of which was a pendant made from a dragon’s scale, a black pearl necklace, an elegant tea cup made from what appeared to be silver. Other things that had dropped out of her bag were shining golden pyramid-like dice, red, green and lavender gemstones, and finally a kerchief made of the finest silk.

His eyes went wide, under large white eyebrows, “The docks!” He exclaimed, “Now see here, little lady, I’m just as good as any merchant, and I can guarantee a good price.” He put a finger up, “I just can’t buy all of it right now, see?”

Nodding thoughtfully, Yulissa scanned over the items on the counter. Money wasn’t an issue, this last job she completed lined her pockets enough for the next five years. And if she was able to convince Trillian, a unique specimen indeed, to accompany her across the Realms, there would be enough money to live comfortably for the rest of her life. The task was simple really, all her clients wanted was the half-breed, alive and unscathed. This did come with a few complications since, after all, Trillian had been injured. She had it on good report, though, that Trillian was healing quickly.

Taking another sweeping gaze at the items sprawled on the counter, she finally spoke, “When would a buyer come though town to relieve you of these trinkets?”

“Let’s see, we’re half-way into the month,” he began calculating with his fingers, “In.. three weeks?” He looked quizzically at her, and then softened his expression, “If you would consider, I could give you half of the payment now, and the other half when they’re bought.”

That was too much time to linger in the Severum. She picked a few things bag up, securing them into her leather bag, “How about the cup, the watch, the silk piece, and the black pearls?”

The man calculated again with his fingers, and then scribbled a few things down on a piece of paper. After scratching at the top of his head, and then his chin a few times, he finally looked back at her, “Yes. That is acceptable.”

Yulissa could tell that he was some what distraught. Slowly, he counted the money out on the counter to her, first in notes, and then in coins.

Soon, the transaction was complete and Yulissa was finally free of the little shop, and the funny little man.

Clutching her leather pack tighter, the woman started back across the town to the inn she was staying at.

The village was gray and dismal. All of the buildings were made of gray stone, their roofs were shingled in dark slate, and the streets were nothing but black and gray mud.

In the past three weeks, Yulissa had learned more about Severum than she had ever wished. Sideon was an evil tyrant who had the nerve to call himself “Master Of The Severum”. He had rounded up the women and locked them up to serve as chambermaids. Next, he banished the children to the monasteries of Fargorath.

Things had not always been this way. Once, children roamed the streets, women were free to come and go at will, couples lived happily. The Severum was known for Peace and Protection, and it’s Rangers aided the people, always lending assistance as it was needed.

Quickening her step, Yulissa noticed the men eying her suspiciously, she hurried back to the safe quarters of her room.

There wasn’t a great deal of time left, she needed to talk to Trillian and convince him to leave with her as quickly as possible. The Realm Gate would be closing soon, and if she didn’t make it, she’d be trapped in Langoria for a year. Of all the realms, this was most certainly the last she’d consider for touring.

After making sure her treasures were safely secured, she decided it was time to go to the Severum and find Trillian.

The Ranger Of Severum: Episode 6

The day had started like any other. Boring, drab, with the threat of rain. But it was a special day. The Rangers were returning from Pelivain. It meant his father would be home again.

Trillian watched out the window at the gates, his young heart beating with anticipation and longing.

“Trillian.” The beautiful voice of his mother sung out to him.

The boy reluctantly pushed off of the window and hurried out of his room to find her.

Her voice continued to stretch through the halls calling out, “Trillian? Trillian where are you?”

“I’m coming, mother, I’m coming.” He tried to follow the sounds of the echoes. Each of the rooms that she usually kept to were empty, and the sound of her voice was getting further and further away, “Mother?” He shouted desperately. The beat of his heart quickened as Trillian left the east wing of the Severum, “Mother?” He continued to call nervously, now aware that he was quickly going to be someplace he wasn’t allowed to go.

Sideon, the Master of the Rangers of Severum, walked out of the library looking for Trillian.

“There you are boy.” His tone was gentle, as though beckoning Trillian to him, “Your mother is here, child.”

The little boy was frightened of Sideon, the Master behaved like a good man, but Trillian knew better. His mother had been called away to see Sideon, coming back crying one too many times. Trillian was right to fear him, and deep in his heart he hated the man for making his mother cry.

In slow, heavy steps, as though his feet were weighted with lead, Trillian moved toward Sideon, not at all trusting the man. The only sound he could hear was his racing heart, as his stomach churned violently.

Sideon held his arm outstretched towards the library door.  The boy continued in his fearful steps, reluctant to see what was behind the door.

Indeed, his mother stood there. Her arms crossed and her eyes seeming sad. She appeared to be unharmed, but the little boy could tell something was wrong.

“Trillian.” She exclaimed, opening her arms to him.

The boy ran eagerly into his mothers embrace, “What? What is it mother?” He asked, trying to swallow the lump gathering in his throat from fear.

She released him, kneeling down to look into his eyes, “Trillian, you father—” She hesitated. Her bright blue eyes looking past Trillian’s to Sideon. “Your father,” she started again, “is—”

Trillian’s eyes stretched open wide fearing what her hesitation meant, “He’s what?” He begged, “He’s what, mother?”

“Now Trillian, you must be brave.” He heard Sideon say, “Your mother is going to need you to be brave for her, because she can’t do it alone.”

“What is it mother?” Little Trillian shouted.

She smiled softly, “He’s not coming home.” The smile fell and her eyes blinked out tears.

“You’re lying.” Trillian started shaking, “You’re lying!” He shouted. “He promised he would be back, and he never breaks his promises.”

“No, Trillian. He doesn’t. Your father never breaks his promises.” His mother’s tears were now streaming down her cheeks, and her lip trembled, “But sometimes, things can happen. And these things cause people to break promises without meaning to.”

“What she means child, is that your father is dead.”

As though a spike were shoved through Trillian’s chest, the boy turned and violently shouted at Sideon, “You killed him. You did this!” Heaving several times, with tears spilling down his cheeks, Trillian ran from the room.

While the boy ran, the floor seemed to swell and blur from under his feet, the stone halls of the Severum shifting into a dark forest.

Just ahead of him, a group of rangers were huddled around something lying on the ground.

Approaching softly, the little boy heard one of them say the man was gone, it was no use. He was dead.

The figures wavered for a moment before disappearing altogether, but the body was still there, lying on the ground.

The boy trembled uncontrollably, weeping as he approached, knowing who it was before he even got there.

“Father?” Trillian walked in hesitant steps toward the body. He had never seen a corpse before, and the graying skin frightened him. He continued to weep, his mind desperately tried to divert his eyes.

 

Trillian awoke with a start, sitting up quickly. His breath hissed through his teeth as he choked back the lump growing in his throat. Running his hands through his long dark hair, hanging loose about his shoulders, he shook his head several times, as though trying to clear out the darkness and clinging emotions lingering from the nightmare.

He always woke at the same moment. Always just before he had the opportunity to see his father’s cold, dark eyes, staring at the sky. Always before he had the chance to know what his father looked like at the moment of his passing. Always just short of coming to peace with the fact that his father was gone.

It had been said that his father died in the skirmishes they encountered with the druids. Trillian, however, suspected that he was murdered.

Sideon was deeply attracted to Trillian’s mother, and whenever his father left, the Master would lure her away for hours at a time. It did not take long after his fathers death for Sideon to offer marriage to his mother. Before he knew it, they wed, moved into Sideon’s wing of the Severum, and Trillian was immediately forsaken by all of his peers.

The awareness of his healing wings came to mind, as a cramp that had built from the way he had to sleep started to spread through his side. They had moved his bed from the wall in order to situate a sort of hammock next to the bed, so Trillian could rest his wings onto it while he slept. This took the strain off of his back, giving him room to relax. In the beginning it took help to figure out, but now he was able to manage himself, and hopefully he wouldn’t have to worry about it very much longer.

It had been three weeks since the injury. A smile tugged on his lips, three weeks since he had met Yulissa. Although there hadn’t been opportunity to see her since their meeting, he couldn’t help remembering the way her hands felt on his back. When the surgeon had finished putting him back together, Trillian had decided he much preferred Yulissa’s gentle, delicate way of attention. She did not cause more pain in the process. Though, he was quite glad they would be healing properly.

Trillian was plagued by the nightmare and wasn’t sure if he could go back to sleep. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he reached out and touched the lamp wick catching it aflame.

Massaging his side, attempting to bend the other direction to stretch it out. With his wings, this proved difficult, but with enough adjusting and shifting, he was able to find a comfortable position to relax in.

He sat back again, rubbing his brow. Morning wasn’t for a few more hours. Maybe after breakfast he would check in on the woman. He found himself strangely curious to know how she was doing. At least she took his mind off of the nightmare. For now.

The Ranger Of Severum: Episode 5

Trillian held his breath as the musty scent of the damp palace filled his nostrils. The women of Severum were allowed to clean, but Sideon preferred the depressing, gloomy air that hung even in the open areas of the Palace. It fed his evil soul the tiniest bit of comfort. Trillian did not find the air unbearable. The Master Trainers and Rangers were allowed brighten the fragrance of their rooms with the spicy aroma of pine. Though dreading the scent, Trillian also found it welcoming because it meant he was home.

The Ranger walked swiftly into his Master’s study, fearing the punishment in store for him. When angry, Trillian was the one Sideon took it out on.

Trillian was different from the others, his tolerance to withstand punishment was higher than most anyone else’s in Severum. He could bear it without discouragement, whereas many of the other men found themselves degraded and self-conscious.

Sideon wanted a chance to break that in him and to cause Trillian to crumble as the others, but his attempts were frustratingly futile.

Trillian stood at the door in procrastination. He finally raised his fist to knock just as the door swung open.

There, face to face, Trillian met Sideon.

“So, you finally come to me?” The Lord of the Rangers started.

His dark hair was pulled back and held in place at the nape of his neck. Streaks of gray ran above his ears and one shock trailed from the center of his brow down the back of his head.

The Old Master was in his five hundredth year and his life was coming to a close, though at least another hundred lay before him, belying the signs of age.

His angular face smoothed with relief, “Trillian, you are well aware that keeping me waiting is not a good idea. You know what happens to those who try my patience.”

“Yes, my lord.”

“Wake up in a nightmare, you will, if I catch you coming to me late again.” As Sideon closed the door behind Trillian, the Master’s attention was drawn immediately to the severed wing which hung helplessly down the left side of Trillian’s back.

“What have you allowed to happen to yourself?” he shouted angrily. Sideon could seem merciful and gracious the one minute, but the next his anger would surpass constraint as he let loose in violent fury.

Trillian held his breath, ready to give his well thought explanation, but before he could begin, Sideon started right into his questions.

“So, did you complete your second mission?” Sideon asked impatiently.

“Yes Master, not one troll was left.”

“You had no encounter with any enemies?” Sideon clearly wanted the account concerning Trillian’s wing.

“This did not happen in Taar.” Trillian began.

“And has it something to do with the woman everyone watched you walk in with? Is she the one who gave improper care to your wing? I know you did not do that.”

The accusing tone in Sideons voice gave Trillian nervous pause.

“Tell me, what was she doing as she bandaged your wing?”

“I made no form of contact with this woman. I merely saved her from a small band of the Druids of Câr. She asked me to escort her to Severum this morning after she had given care to my wounds.”

“I do not believe you,” Sideon said with raised eyebrow. “I will have some of the satraps inquire of her, and if I find any reason for you to not be in earnest, I will send you and her away in disgrace.”

“If you will but give me a chance to explain—” Trillian suddenly collapsed to his knees as pain shot through every nerve in his body.

Sideon contemplated the idea of hearing his explanation, “Very well, I give you five minutes.”

Trillian related every detail that had happened from Taar, to fighting off of the last Druid.

“You used your power against them? You are not one who can work against the powers of the druids. What were you thinking?” Sideon asked angrily.

Trillian nodded, “I know that I should not have been so hasty in the matter, but I found this challenge welcome amid the frame of mind that had settled upon me.”

Sideon remained silent, so Trillian continued.

When the Trillian finished, Sideon sat back reflectively, “Your story does seem to carry some truth in it. You completed the task I sent you forth to do, you earned your punishment for combating alone, and so I suppose there is nothing left for me to do. Well done, Trillian.” He mused, tracing a finger beneath his chin. “What does this woman want?”

“I am not sure,” replied Trillian.

“Then I am giving her situation to you. You are free to go.”

Trillian knit his brow and stood, “Thank you, Master.” he replied slowly.

“Hurry and go to the healer. That wing must be tended immediately.”

“Yes, Master.” Trillian bowed at the waist, then turned to leave. He was confused, but was not going to hesitate for a moment. The mercy he had just acquired was a precious gift indeed. His hand caught the knob, and Trillian was gone without taking a look back.

Sideon almost laughed in glee, as Trillian closed the door behind him. He clapped his hands together in delight, lacing together the pieces of a grand new idea.

“Rûthlion!” Sideon called out.

“Yes sire?” the general entered from a side door.

“I want you to keep an eye on Trillian. This is the second occurrence of such events. You remember what kind of revolt he ensued last time, we do not want that happening again.”

“Yes sire. And the woman?”

“She can remain. Yulissa is promising, maybe she will be the one to beguile him.” Sideon mused.

The Ranger Of Severum: Episode 4

In the remaining moments before dawn Trillian had finally been able to sleep a bit. The storm did not last long, but the rain continued on and off.

Yulissa had stayed beside him all night, after the rain started, but fell asleep as dawn neared.

Trillian had watched the woman sleep. She was a beautiful creature, of that there was no doubt. Her hands had been gentle, her voice soothing, her long, dark hair and eyes… Trillian shook his head, warding off the sudden sensual awareness in his body.

As the sky casting a foreboding red hue upon the fleeing darkness, he moved slowly, so as not to waken Yullissa. Picking up his cloak, which she had used to cover him in an attempt to keep the bindings dry, he clasped it at his neck and put on his belt and quiver. Not wanting to wake her, he tried to leave the campsite quickly with as little noise as possible.

Unfortunately, his attempts were feebly shattered when his maimed wing sent the pots clamoring over one another to the ground.

Yulissa awoke with a start, turning to the warm patch of bramble the ranger had been sleeping on. Her eyes wander nervously until they lighted on Trillian.

He tried desperately -to no avail- to hide his clumsiness, whilst clambering over the pots which now lay scattered in his path.

The lady smiled in amusement.

Trillian glared at the woman, not the least amused.

“Where are you off to in such haste?” she queried.

“I need to return to Severum before my injury gets worse. So I must leave you now.” If he would let himself be truly honest, he did not want to leave the woman behind, but his mind had started clouding with images of her. She was nothing but distracting.

“If you are going to Severum, would you mind taking me as well? It will take only a moment to break camp.”

Trillian heard himself give in to her request. Whether from the need for someone to see him safely home, or the growing awareness in his flesh, he was unsure.

She packed things up and dowsed the fire in moments, and they set off as the gray clouds rumbled again, overhead.

I am never, ever, ever, doing this again. Trillian grumbled.

The woman had been silent most of the journey, and even in the rain she uttered not a word. He knew she must be dreading the weather, but braved it rather well.

When Severum came into view, the rain had not let up, nor had Trillian’s mood.

As they approached the gates to the city, Trillian whistled.

Immediately three rangers appeared at the top of the gate, and began opening it.

One of them, a good friend of Trillian, eyed the Master Trainer warily as they let the woman pass.

He caught the older rangers arm. “Trillian, you know she cannot be seen with you, what will Sideon think?”

“I will explain everything later, Eregoth.” He replied quietly.

“Don’t gamble your hope, Sideon is certainly not in the mood to listen to explanations, especially from you.” Eregoth replied, letting the ranger go. “What did you do to your wing?”

“I ran into a little trouble.” Trillian replied as nonchalantly as was possible.

“A little trouble?” Asked Eregoth, not amused by the way Trillian brushed off the question.

Yulissa watched the men going about their early morning work. Some gathered wood for fires, some carried tools, and some food.

“Where are all of the women of Severum?” she asked.

“They are chambermaids,” replied Trillian, “chambermaids and servants of Sideon.”

“Chambermaids,” Yulissa grew pale. “You mean concubines?”

“In a way I suppose they are. They serve the men whom Sideon wants to ‘breed’. Many of the children you will see in the palace are born here to the women. Many young girls are sent away to the Apologists to be educated by the most highly of praised teachers, some are traded to the druids for creatures of races like mine for the men to breed with.”

“That is terrible!” Yulissa held her breath. “What race are you?”

Trillian looked about nervously, avoiding the question a second time, hoping that no one saw him with the woman.

To his dismay, everyone seemed to watch him walk towards the Palace of Severum. Sideon would know before Trillian even arrived, that a woman was with him. The ranger was in enough trouble as it was.

Finally, they reached the steps of the palace, and a servant came running to Trillian.

“You are back!” he said, “Good. Sideon is not in a very good mood and he requires you immediately.”

“Do you know what the urgency regards?” he queried.

“It has something to do with bringing her with you.” The servant whispered. “Sideon is not in the mood for explanations, and if you try and cover this one he might…” The servant saw Trillian’s wing for the first time. “Trillian, what happened? Oh, never mind for the moment, it might aid your testimony.”

Yulissa looked upset, “I have gotten you in trouble, I am so sorry. If I had known…”

“No, it is alright.” Trillian brushed her aside gently, “I will see what Sideon wants. Reinstör, you stay out here with her, if any of the men attempt to take her away, you know what to do.”

“Yes sir, Master Trillian.” Reinstör saluted, letting Trillian into the halls of Severum.