Lieke : The Lengend

Prologue The usually sleepy town of Rounshale was rife with life. It was a Friday night, and all the kids were staying up late, causing all kinds of mischief. The men were at the taverns and the women gossiped with one another about the events of the week. Fireplaces were lit, warming up homes, so that when the owners returned, they could be lulled by the gentle caresses of heat through the night. It was well into winter, and hardly anyone could be seen wandering outside. However song and cheers traveled the streets, and if one were to follow these noises of gaiety to their source, they would find themselves at the Leaky Creek. The Leaky Creek was an Inn well known for its stupendous food, and even better ale. The Inn had a large fireplace that was inlaid with stones that weaved in and out in a hypnotic pattern. Trophies of animals, as well as ones of gold and silver, could be found adorning the walls inside. Everything about the Leaky Creek made one feel at home. Next to the fireplace, an old man could be seen dozing. He was wearing a fur coat over brown chaps and a white tunic. He was powerfully built, so big in fact that one could only imagine how impressive his physique was in his youthful days. The only telltale signs of his old age were his gray hair, and the occasional wrinkle on his face. If it weren’t for those few things, one might believe that he was only in his mid thirties. This man practically lived at the Leaky Creek. He would leave for only a few hours and then be back, taking his place at the same spot by the fireplace. The only reason the Innkeeper Bergis put up with it, was because of the crowd the old man drew in on Fridays. Bergis could never remember a time in his life when he had ever heard a man tell a story the way that strange old man could. After a few minutes he could have the entire inn quiet and the customers sitting in silence eagerly listening to every word he breathed. Bergis noted that the flow of customers coming in had lessened, and so he sent out the barmaids to start taking orders. Greakus, the old man by the fireplace, started to rouse and suddenly the entire room seemed to be blanketed by silence. Everyone’s gaze was centered on Greakus, waiting expectantly for another of his stirring stories of adventure, love, courage, and sacrifice. Greakus looked around at all the faces surrounding him, and wasn’t in the least disquieted by the fact that every pair of eyes in the room was on him. He called to the one of the bar maids in a strong voice, “water if you please miss.” “Yessir, right away,” the barmaid sang back, and scurried off to fetch him his water. There was an unspoken understanding between Greakus and Bergis that there was no need for him to pay, so long as he brought in crowds, his meals and drink were paid for. The barmaid returned as promised with his water, and he drank slowly, savoring the rush of coolness that took over his insides. He let out a sigh of satisfaction and looked around once again at the crowd. There were many children sitting on the floor in front of him, beaming at him with that innocence that only a child can have. The majority of the others were men that lived in town that wanted a good drink and some entertainment to relax themselves after

a hard week of work. There were of course a few travelers passing through scattered throughout the crowd as well, and many were intrigued by the sudden influx of people in the inn. Greakus cleared his throat and began. “I have a very special story to tell you tonight. Many years ago, at a time when most here were still a future that had yet to come, there was a knight.” He took a pause to consider his words, and then continued, “He is not the type of knight we know today, he was not arrogant, nor was he rich, and he did not have an over inflated sense of self importance. He was kind, generous, noble, and most importantly he had humility.” Greakus paused again. A heavy sadness reflected in his eyes, “His name was Ulien. Like all Ceric knights, he was well trained in the arts of war. At the infancy of his knighthood he was paired up with a mage in training, as are all knights in the Ceric order. The knights were also thoroughly learned in theology, and were trained to be men of religion as well as war. The strange part about it all is that although the Ceric order is known to be very pious in many respects, the mages trained are reared in a very different religious persuasion. While we have only one god, the mages of the Ceric order have many. The magic they call upon is bestowed to them by the Oerthen Gods.” Unlike the God of the Church, the God of the Denions, the Oerthen Gods are much younger, and tend to meddle in human affairs, and bestow gifts on those who worship them, such as the gift of magic. “Ulien and his mage companion Berin showed much prestige in their respective arts, and soon were among the most reputed knights in the Ceric Order. Ulien was a happy man for many years after, but soon he found his faith in the order, in the church, and in himself eroding with the tide of time. Berin, noticed his companions growing depression, and suggested that Ulien should leave the confines of the their castle and find a way to fill the hole that had opened inside him. Ulien took Berin’s words to heart, and left the Ceric castle, and never returned.” Greakus stopped speaking, burst into a yawn, leaned backward and his chair and started to close his eyes. Everybody in the room was silent, and unsure why he had suddenly stopped. This had never happened before, Greakus always had an ending to his stories. A sharp eyed boy stood up pulled on the fur coat that Greakus had wrapped around his body and insisted, “that can’t be it sir, there’s more, there has to be.” Greakus opened one eye, and a faint smile played across his lips. He sat up “Of course there is more boy, but that part of the story is for Ulien himself to tell you. What happened after he left changed his life profoundly, and the only right way for you to hear the rest would be to hear it from Ulien’s own lips. I will tell you this much. Berin prayed for Ulien after he left, he prayed to his Goddess Aela that she help Ulien in his journey to find himself. She answered his prayers, and appeared to Ulien.” He pulled an object out of a deep pocket in his tunic. “She gave Ulien this stone. She told him that as long as he had it, it would always take him where he needed to go.” He brought his gaze back on the boy who had spoken up. “Perhaps it is time somebody else take the stone he said. You boy, what is your name?” The boy met Greakus’ gaze boldy, “Lieke sir.” Greakus bent down and handed the stone to the boy, “I would like you to hold on to this for me. Keep it safe, and in time I may come to retrieve it.” The boy was ecstatic, and jumped around in a frenzy, and soon he was surround by eager kids wanting to see Ulien’s stone. Greakus smiled, then stood up and left. Not long after the inn was still empty. Bergis

was going through the days profit as the last of the people filed out and seemed quite pleased with the turn. The next day however, Greakus wasn’t there. This disturbed Bergis very much, and soon word got round the town, and a search party was formed. They searched for Greakus for many days, and the days turned to weeks. Soon the search was abandoned, because there was nowhere left to look. Nobody knew where the old man lived or went when he wasn’t in the inn and so most assumed he either left, or died. The stories he wove were still told however. The people of Rounshale would still gather every Friday and remember the tales the old man spun of adventure, love, courage, and sacrifice. The story that stuck with the people of Rounshale the most however, was the one of Ulien, the only story left with and ending yet to be told by the old man that sat by the fireplace.

Chapter 1 “Wake up you lazy oaf,” Kellen grumbled at the sleeping form in the bed next to him. Kellen slowly stood up, and stretched his muscles. He walked over to the bed, and reached out his hand to wake the other up, but quickly pulled it back. His face broke into a broad grin. Kellen tottered into the room with a large bucket of water that was splashing around all over the place. He heaved the bucket back, and then flung it forward. The water cascaded from the bucket onto the man in the bed. A scream escaped from the sleeping man as he flung forward in bed, thoroughly soaked in the icy water. Kellen was roaring with laughter at the dripping form of Lieke. “You---- you----Devil’s Spawn!” Lieke roared grasping at Kellen. Lieke jumped out of bed and ran at Kellen, “Don’t be a whiney child Lieke, here I’ll dry you off.” Kellen raised his hands and muttered a few words, and a gale of wind tore Lieke from the ground and threw him against the wall. Lieke was blank faced when he sunk to the floor. Kellen walked up to him and pat him on the back, “Come on, lets get going Lieke, we’re going to be late for the ceremony you dolt. Strap on your armor so we can get a move on. Lieke grumbled some unintelligible words and then left the room to get ready. “Come on Lieke, you aren’t still mad at me are you?” Kellen asked somberly as they were making their way down a one of the many stone halls of the Ceric castle towards the training grounds. “Would you be happy if you were drenched in water, and then pounded by wind at the crack of dawn, while still only half awake? Of course you wouldn’t, but in spite of all of that, I’m not really mad at you Kellen, I’m just nervous about today. After all, today the new champions of the Ceric Knighthood will be chosen. Its our chance to become what we’ve always wanted to be Kellen. Ever since we were boys, we would pretend to be great knights, like in the stories. To win would mean fulfilling my life’s dream.” In the hall they were walking through, there hung a tapestry that depicted Ulien and Berin. This was Lieke’s favorite in the entire castle. Ulien and Berin were held in great esteem in the Ceric knighthood. Some of the older men that were members of the Ceric council would say that to this day, none in the order had ever matched the skill that those two men owned on the battlefield. As a boy, Ulien had always intrigued Lieke, and so he tried to learn as much about the man that he could. He knew all of the stories by heart even before he had entered the knighthood. “Why do you have to be so serious all the time Lieke, you take the fun out of everything. Not only are you unsettled, but you’ve got me on edge too. Unlike you though, I will focus on the brighter aspects of today. Derik will certainly be competing, and I’ve been dying to magick his pompous ass for some time now. I never really get the chance since most knights refuse to spar with me. You know, you knights should really have a talk with your god about exercising some more tolerance, after all it just doesn’t do to insult the very people who help defend his ‘Golden Kingdom’.”

In the past few decades, the Denion Church has preached distrust of all who worship the Oerthen Gods. They say that no such god that is truly divine would ever bestow such powers to a single man. They have been saying that power of that nature could only come from darker sources. They even go as far as calling any that worship the Oerthen Gods heathens. Of course this caused a growing mistrust among the people of Denios of people like Kellen who worshipped the Oerthen Gods. This didn’t stop the Ceric order from training future men of magic, preferably called druids. In time though the numbers training to become druids reached an all time low. Because of the growing distrust of druids, many knights refused to be paired with them. The knighthood, since its creation, always trained men in pairs, and so knights started to be paired with other knights if they refused to be partnered with a druid. Kellen and Lieke were the only druid-knight pair in the order. Because of the heavy prejudice in the order, all druid-knight pairs eventually left the castle, and carried out their duties elsewhere as Ceric knights. The knights themselves had an even greater prejudice against the druids than anyone else. Knights were trained to trust in their own strength, and the sharp end of their weapon. The strength of magic is something they don’t understand, and they are afraid of it because it isn’t something they are trained to defend against in battle. Lieke and Kellen had reached the training grounds already, and were waiting as the tournament ladder was being prepared. The competition did not consist of the entire order, for that would have been very inconvenient. To eliminate the lesser knights, competitions had already been held. Knights were assigned a house the day they started training. Each house had already held its own competition to find the fighting pair that would represent them in the bout for the title of Ceric Champion. There were twelve houses all together, and Lieke and Kellen were representing theirs in the tournament. Kellen turned to Lieke, “I was thinking, I know that we’ve been waiting our whole lives for this moment, but what happens next? If we win, what do we do from there?” Lieke turned to Kellen, “I really don’t know Kellen. I’ve never thought it through that far. I still have my doubts that we’ll even get past the first round. Kellen, we haven’t scrimmaged with any of these knights at all. In fact, we haven’t fought with any of the knights here that have any sizeable amount of skill. Only the younger knights agree to spar with us, and that’s only because all the other older knights won’t even bother with them. What sort of a chance do we have?” Kellen gave Lieke a stern look, “with the way your talking, of course we won’t win. Have confidence man, you don’t give yourself enough credit,” he grinned, then added, “Frankly I’m insulted at the downplay of my,” he made a ridiculous face and continued, “Godlike Powers.” Lieke laughed and conceded, “ I guess your right. It looks like we are about to find out here shortly.” Lieke didn’t know what he would do without Kellen. His childhood companion had always been there for him. As a boy Lieke had a rough childhood. His dad was a

roaring drunk, and his mother pretended like he didn’t exist. He always spent his time somewhere else, and as a result he ended up being raised by near everyone in their small town. It wasn’t until he was about eight that he took up a more permanent residence at Kellen’s house. Kellen’s parents had raised him ever since, and He and Kellen grew up to be more than just friends, they were brothers. Like all boys they dreamed of becoming knights. As they grew older all they other boys grew out of their childish dreams and eventually took on their father’s trade. He and Kellen never grew out of wanting to become knights though. At the age of 13 they set off for the Ceric Castle, where they started their training. Kellen could have been have been a knight like Lieke, but Kellen had always been rather fond of the idea of magic. After a few months, they quickly found that they became alienated from everyone else because Kellen had chosen to become a druid. Whenever they sparred with the other knights in training by choice or instruction, Kellen was never allowed to use his magic on his opponents because they didn’t have a way to defend against it. Lieke and Kellen found a way to overcome this however. Lieke trained Kellen in the art of the sword, and soon Kellen was nearly as good as Lieke. Lieke and Kellen rose above the ranks of their house as some of the best swordsman. What made them unstoppable was Kellen’s magic. Kellen was a prodigious student, and he had already started to learn advanced magic in his 3rd year of training. He could use his magic to improve his reflexes, strength and speed in battle. However, because using magic is just like using the muscles of ones body, it took lots of energy to do. To compensate, Kellen used a shortsword, instead of the common long sword used by the knights, and wore chainmail. When you threw in Lieke’s ungodly skill and strength, they were a force to be reckoned with. Not many knew just how skilled these two men were though, because Lieke and Kellen never got the chance to pit their wills against swordsmen of any substantial caliber. All of that would change today.

The knight cupped his hands around his mouth, “All knights participating in the in proceedings today, please approach the platform now tournament ladder assignment!” “That’s our cue Lieke, lets get this party started,” Kellen grinned, trotting over to the platform. Lieke joined Kellen, and they stood in line to draw numbers from a box. When each team had finished picking, the knight that had called them in earlier finished up the tournament ladder. Sections of the training grounds had been set-aside for the other knights that wouldn’t be participating. Out of the five thousand or so knights that were actually in the order, only around fifteen hundred showed up to watch the tournament taking place today. Kellen and Lieke were going to be in the third match of the first round, and so they got to sit back and watch the first two matches. They were intense, and in both cases, the pairs that were competing were very skilled. The second match dragged on for a while because both teams were so evenly matched. Neither pair refused to give ground to the other. The match eventually boiled down to whichever man dropped from exhaustion first lost.

“Will the next two pairs of fighters please come forward,” the announcer called as the men from the previous round walked off the field. Derik walked up to Kellen and Lieke as they were getting up, “well if it isn’t Luck the bastard and his idiot friend. I don’t know how you even made it through house eliminations, but I can guarantee that you wont make it past the first round.” “Back off Derik, we don’t need to be exposed to stupidity this early in the day,” Lieke said gruffly shouldering into Derik as he passed by. Kellen stuck out his tongue at Derik as they walked off. “Why you insolent piece of trash, come back here!” Derik fumed at them as they were walking away. “Do you really have to do that Kellen? Its really childish,” Lieke said wearily. “Sorry, its instincts I guess,” Kellen agreed, “The only way you can deal with idiots like Derik is stooping to their level.” Kellen looked at Lieke with a broad grin on his face. “I know that look Kellen, what have you done this time?” Lieke sighed in resignation, not sure that he wanted to know the answer. “Well lets just say that a large piece of horse poop is now following Derik. In a few minutes he’ll be in for a big surprise,” Kellen said with a perfectly strait face. Lieke couldn’t contain his laugh. Kellen had always been a master prankster in his younger days, and his magic had helped him turn it into a form of art. They walked to the center of the allotted arena. The other two men were already there. Lieke knew these two men by reputation. The big one with scar across his nose was Olen, and the one with the long moustache was Arn. Both men were in their late twenties, and not much older than Lieke or Kellen. Olen was probably the strongest guy living in the castle. Lieke didn’t know so much about Arn though. “Gentlemen,” the knight on the platform called, “Take up your swords and begin.” Kellen ran forward and unsheathed his sword calling back at Lieke, “I call the big one.” Olen took out his massive broadsword and confronted Kellen. Kellen wanted to test the waters first before he resorted to magic, and swung his sword at Olen a few times. The big man blocked the attacks with his massive broadsword as if it weighed nothing. Olen started going on the attack, and swung shattering blows at Kellen. Kellen was ready though; he had already started to enhance his physical abilities with his magic. He sidestepped the first two strikes with lighting speed, and knocked away the third blow deftly with his short sword. Lieke and Arn had started battle as well, and Arn was already starting to wear down as Lieke struck him constantly with jarring after jarring blow. The entire crowd watched in silence, as Kellen and Lieke bested the opposing duo. Kellen and Lieke fought with grace; it was like watching a dance. Kellen and Lieke moved artfully, and Olen, and Arn just couldn’t seem to keep on beat. Kellen saw that the huge broadsword that Olen was wielding was starting to take its toll on him. Olen took another sluggish swing at Kellen, but he dodged it, and with lightning speed locked his sword on Olen’s and then flug Olen’s sword to the ground. From somewhere in the crowd, Lieke could hear a loud shriek and the roaring of Kellen’s name along with a long strew of curses. It looked like that piece of horse dung finally found it way onto Derik’s head. Lieke took a hazard glance at Kellen and saw that

he was thoroughly enjoying himself. It wasn’t everyday that both of them really got to have a challenging fight. Lieke had found early on that Arn was a feisty swordsman. Lieke decided to take that away from Arn. He stayed on constant attack, pounding the man relentlessly with his longsword. Lieke was a powerful man, and keeping his strong attacks at bay was draining Arn. It didn’t take long until Leike had finally disarmed the man. Kellen had Olen disarmed only moments later. The crowd went wild. There was a loud applause, and the Knight at the platform called them off the field. “Was the fight really all that good? Neither of them put up much of a fight. Not that they didn’t try though, that big guy Olen sure can use that broadsword of his,” Kellen mused as they left the field. “You know what sucks? Derik automatically gets to go to the finals Lieke. He’s going to beat the pair of knights he fights in the first round; I’ve seen them fight before and they aren’t that good. In the semifinals he doesn’t have to fight anyone because he and Sylvan are the pair that’s odd man out in the tournament ladder. Where is the justice in that?” “And here I thought you were always one to look on the bright side Kellen. Look at it this way, if we make it past the semifinals, then we get pleasure of laying Derik on his rear end ourselves.” Lieke grinned as Kellen looked on him in astonishment. Kellen gave him a strong clap on the back, “now that’s the what I’m talking about, you know I’m surprised I didn’t think of that myself. What do you say we go get some food, I’m starved. Plus the next match won’t be much to watch, when we both know that Derik is going to win.” “How can you eat Kellen?” Lieke asked critically, “I wont have sympathy if you get all the food you’ve just eaten smacked out of you. The semifinals will be starting within the hour, and you stuff yourself with food, that’s very unprofessional Kellen, I’m disappointed.” “Stop your bellyaching Lieke, I’ll be fine. Come one come all and do your worst, just know that you will have to catch me first,” Kellen sang waving his fork dramatically. “Idiot,” Lieke muttered under his breath. Kellen turned to Lieke, “what was that, I didn’t hear you Lieke,” Kellen mumbled with a mouthful of food. “Nevermind, just eat your food you fool,” Lieke muttered. Kellen grinned and started to chomp away at again at the food on the table. “Fighters competing in the next round please approach the field immediately,” the knight boomed from the platform in the center of the training field. Lieke and Kellen approached the field as Derik entered the Ceric council chamber. Derik looked exactly like a “knight in shining armor” should. He was handsome, well groomed, and tall. His physique was admirable, and he was overall a very skilled knight, and some say maybe even the best. He did not however have the heart of a knight. He was power hungry, and reveled in politics. Had he not become a knight, he most certainly would have gone into politics. He was intelligent, calculating, secretive, and most importantly ruthless. From day one he had loathed Lieke and his baboon friend. Unlike all the other knights, he had seen Lieke’s potential, and though he would never admit it, Kellen’s as well. They both posed a threat to his ultimate goal, and so he had made it a point to find a way to get them expelled from the order for good. His father

was a man of nobility, and had many connections in the church, and of course in the Ceric council. Derik thought it funny that they even called what the Ceric’s had a council. It was just five old men who served no other purpose than to simply sit there and look important. They only made decisions in times of war, and there had been no wars in the Kingdom of Trent for some time. They did however need to be approached on matters such as the one he would be bringing up, which bent the rules of the tournament being held today. “My lords,” Derik addressed the men sitting in front of him. “I have a request. In the event that Sir Lieke, and Sir Kellen win their match and make it to the finals, then certain rules must be changed.” “Just what exactly is it that you propose Derik?” one of the councilmen asked bluntly. “Well I have a question I would like to pose to you my lords, how do we know that Sir Kellen has not been using magic on his opponents so far throughout this competition? I certainly don’t wish to question his honor, but the fact is we have no way of knowing that he has been doing more than just using magic on himself. With High Druid Athix present, there would have been no doubt. I’m not saying that we should hold the tournament again, but I do think that it is very important that we make sure that our champions are in fact the real ones.” There was a murmur of agreement from the councilmen. “I propose that the High Druid Athix fight as my partner in the final match should Sir Lieke and Kellen make it to the final round.” One of the councilman looked at him apprehensively, “One would think a proposition like this was made out of cowardice Derik. To have Athix present to validate the fight is one thing, but to have him fighting with you would surely tip the balance in your favor.” “How are we to be sure then that Sir Kellen is the Ceric Champion of the druids if he only fights against knights defenseless against his magic. The only way to accurately test his worth of the title of champion is to pit him against another druid. The only druid here is High Druid Athix.” The councilmen talked it over in hushed tones. Derik knew he had won them over. He knew exactly what to say to anyone to get his way, and this time would be no different from the countless others. The same councilman that had addressed Derik spoke again, “We find that we must agree to your proposal. Though we all feel that you still have an unfair advantage, we admit that the only way to properly determine Sir Kellen’s worth is to pit him against one of his own.” The man motioned to a page in the room and told him to bring some parchment and a pen. The page returned moments later and the councilman began to write. Once he had finished, he gave the paper to Derik. “Take this to the knight directing the tournament, and he will make sure that everything is in order should Lieke and Kellen advance to the finals. “Thank you my lord,” Derik bowed, and exited the council chamber. He could barely contain his euphoria as he left the room. There was no way he could lose now. He would be the Ceric Champion.

Derik was nearly out of the castle when he heard the booming voice of the knight outside, “knights fighting in the final bout, please come forward.” Lieke and Kellen were already waiting when he got outside. He wasn’t surprised in the least that they had bested the other two men in the last round. He knew there was more to these two than one might think. No matter. At the end of the fight, win or lose, he would still come out on top. “Hey Derik, ya’ ready to lose?” Kellen asked as Derik approached. “Quiet vermin, your infectious presence is enough to deal with is, I’d rather not suffer the added burden of you heathen stupidity,” Derik replied as he handed the piece of parchment to the knight on the platform. The knight made and audible sound of surprise, and turned to Derik. “I will see to it that the conciliators know. Does High Druid Athix know?” “Yes he has been informed, he will be joining us shortly,” Derik replied giving Lieke a mirthful look. The knight scurried away, leaving Lieke and Kellen alone with Derik. “What are you up to Derik?” Lieke asked, not trying to hide the disprespect that his tone carried. “I was beginning to think that you would never ask,” Derik replied in mock pleasure. “To even up the odds in our fight, I will be partnering up with that crackpot Athix instead of Sylvan. Oh, and don’t worry yourselves over all the conflictions with the rules, I’ve already taken care of it. The council gives its approval. Bull up “friends”, by the time I’m done with both of you, you won’t be able to see straight.” Derik put some distance between himself and Lieke, and let them mull over their impending defeat. “Aww man, this is so not fair,” Kellen pouted, while stamping his feet around on the ground. Lieke gave Kellen a reproving stare, “Kellen why do you have to whine all the time. Don’t you have any self respect at all?” “Of course I do Lieke. Whining helps me cope faster. It feels suffocating when I try to keep my emotions bottled up.” “Isn’t that just another way of saying you have no self control?” Lieke said critically. “That hurts Lieke, that hurts me deep,” Kellen said putting his hand on his chest. “I thought we were friends, but I guess I’ve just been deluding myself. Kellen turned away from Lieke with his arms folded on his chest. “Come on Kellen, you know I didn’t mean it like that,” Lieke reached out for Kellen. “Its too late Lieke, your dead to me. I don’t know you, so go away.” Lieke shoulders slumped, and he looked at the ground dejectedly. He was trying to think about what else to say to Kellen. He wasn’t sure how he had insulted him so strongly. “Gotcha!!,” Kellen, turned around and picked up Lieke in a giant bear hug. “You know, I don’t know how I would get on without you Lieke. You’re the only one around who doesn’t put up with my crazy Antics.” A throat cleared from behind Kellen. he dropped Lieke and turned around.

“Hello Sir, I guess its true then,” Kellen said dejectedly.