Verse of Estoria Ballad of the Heavens

  • 31 Dec - 06 Jan, 2023
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Fiction

Red glyphs appear on its wings and unleashes dozens of bolts towards her. The bolts jet straight towards Ura and she turns heads away bracing for the worst.

However, a square sheet of clear ice grows from the tip of her eagle’s beak and expands large enough to cover its body. The hissing bolts pelt the ice barrier as the wyvern roars past Ura. The young feel a cool breeze on her face and she opens her eyes to see frost oozing barrier in front of her. She gazes in wonderment at the structure before it shatters into pieces. She turns her head to see ice spread across a wyvern’s body, descends as a frozen statue and splashes into the ocean.

Ura’s mouth gapes open looking down at the event and an eagle calls as it swoops past her. Turning her head again, she sees Kevin riding his eagle carrying his halberd as it flies up into the sky.

“Hey!!” she shouts with a smile, waving both of her hands into the air. The eagle Kevin rides jets downward towards her and dozens of frozen pointed ice cones appear around his eagle. Like rockets, the ice cones shoot away from the winged beast wisp over Ura’s head and pierces in the two wyverns chasing her. The wyverns splash into the watery depths and the last wyvern turns away and disappears into the clouds.

Ura and Kevin fly side by side turning back to the flock as they continue on their journey to the floating islands.

A festive atmosphere hangs in the King’s dining hall as harpies gracefully spin in front the feeding table. Their colourful wings glide in the air as a tengu whistles a pleasant tune into his flute. Vines snake across the celling as torches dangling from ropes gives the room its orange glow. Drake sits between the King and Jasmine as they enjoy the festivities. Drake’s mouth waters as he stares at the roasted turkey, chicken, quail and duck. He inhales the warm meaty aroma and grabs a leg from a turkey with one hand and duck strips in another. Watching the dancers grace across the floor, Drake bites off a chunk of savoury turkey chewing its onion seasoned goodness and devours the slightly sweetened duck.

“Mm, this is good,” Drake says finishing both courses in a matter of seconds. He places the bones on the table, reaches for the goblet, brings it to his nose and inhales the sour grape before throwing it back. His throat cools as the sweet elixir excites his taste buds and forces him to finish in one gulp.

Feeling his strength restored, Drake slams the cup on the table in a satisfying sigh.

“How are you enjoying the feast?” Jasmine asks giggling. Her graceful green eyes glow under the torch lights as she gazes at him. Looking at her makes the young man’s cheeks flush. Embarrassed, he quickly wipes the excess liquid and meat from his lips.

“The foods good.” Drake stammers. “I-Is this how your people celebrate?”

“Of course,” She replies with an earnest smile as she watches the dancers sway their hips while circling each other. “I enjoy moments like this. Everyone gathered together to have a splendid time. Laughing and eating. It’s a place where you can forget everything negative just for the moment. Mother and Father told me they fell in love at a banquet like this.”

“Where is your mother?” Drake asks, glancing across the room.

“Its customary that the harpy queen arrives last at the banquet to grace everyone with her beauty.” Jasmine says.

“Really,” Drake says raising an eyebrow. “She must be beautiful if you are her daughter.”

Jasmine cheeks turn red as she bashfully turns her head away. “Oh Drake, you flatter me with your kind words.”

“It’s true.” Drake says. “Compared to the women I’ve come across, it’s nice to see one who actually acts like a real princess.”

“That can’t be true.” Jasmine says turning her head, “I’ve heard Salatia was home to the most beautiful women in Endina.”

“If you want to call violent beautiful, then yes.” Drake shakes his head. “So far, the women I’ve come across kicked me in the face, punched me in the gut, spewed fire on me and nearly tortured me to death.”

“Spewed fire? Heavens no.” Jasmine gasps, covering her mouth with her hands.

“Yeah, that was Debra,” Drake says.

“The Alternean princess? You’ve came across her?”

“What you know her?”

“We played together as kids. She was always rough,” Jasmine giggles.

“Yeah that sounds about right.” Drake says, folding his arms.

“You must’ve really got under her skin for her to spew fire on you,” She chuckles.

“To be fair, she held us captive and wanted us to become her slaves for food,” Drake says, scratching the back of his head. “So, I made fun of her backside.”

Jasmine breaks out into incessant laughter.

“Wow, you’re a lot braver than I thought.”

“Say.” Drake says, eyeing Jasmine.

“What is it?” She replies, reading Drake’s sudden mood change.

“You lived around dragons for a while. Were the dragons always like the way they are?”

Jasmine looks ahead and stares into the flickering torchlight hanging from the rope.

“It’s hard to say” She replies, lowering her head. “Our nations were at peace when the Dragon queen ruled but the dragons suffered from one set back after another. And, as if things couldn’t get any worse, their male population died from an unknown disease. When the queen left to protect her children, the king held an investigation into the matter. Radius always suspected us as the culprits but since Raina ruled, things continued in as they were. But that all changed.”

“The queen was killed.” Drake says.

Jasmine silently nods.

“After her death, word came to us that Radius took the throne and declared war against the Avians. We’ve been at war since.”

Drake mulls over her words as he folds his arms at the table.

If she’s referring to the dragon that attacked the village, then the queen still lives. Somehow I get the feeling Darkall is involved in all of this.

Then the music suddenly halts and the dancers turn towards the entrance.

“What’s happening? Drake says looking around the silent room.

“She’s coming.” Jasmine happily whispers holding a finger over her lips.

Drake glances at wooden doors noticing the tengu carving on one side and the harpy design on the other. The door squeaks open and in walks two harpies one green feathered and one blue feathered. Their hair tied up in a bun, they face each other and open their wings welcoming their queen.

Drake couldn’t take his eyes off the woman stepping into the dining room. Her features were similar to Jasmine’s but more mature and with a smile that could capture the heart of any man hot or cold. A jewelled grown glistened under the torch lights gracing her dark green hair as it flows seamlessly to her back.

The King rises and walks towards his wife arms open.

“My heart.” The woman says wrapping her colorful wings around the man’s bulky neck.

“You’re as beautiful as ever,” Kassandra.

The woman smiles as her colorful feather sink into her arms and talon legs morph into human legs.

“And how’s my daring husband doing? She teases. Getting into trouble aren’t you?”

“What do you mean?” the man asks in a shaky laugh.

The woman plants her fists on her shapely hips and casts an accusatory glance at the Tengu.

“What I mean is the fiasco earlier.”

“Fiasco?” The man asks shrugging his shoulders.

“Don’t play silly with me husband.” She says folding her arms. “You attacked an innocent visitor who was captured by the wicked Alterneans. No telling what the poor boy’s been through and you just had to make his visit here much worse.”

“Please forgive me dear.” The tengu says. It was all for the protection of the kingdom.”

“I know, dear.”

She replies caressing his bearded cheeks with both of her hands. “I admire your love you have for me and our people but please do take care. We already have the alterneans as our enemies. We don’t need any more.”

The King understandingly bobbed his head and the queen lowers her head and touched him on the cheek.

“So,” she says with an elated smile. “Where’s our young adventurer?”

Jasmine grabs Drake underneath his elbow, pulls him to his feet and walks him to the tall queen.

Drake’s body stiffened as his face flushed his cheeks seeing the tall and mesmerizing queen.

“H..hello your highness,” He says bowing. “I’m Drake Ryft. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“The pleasure is all mine.” The woman laughs at his awkward but cute demeanor. “Please forgive my husband’s…harsh treatment earlier. As an apology, allow me to present you with a gift young Drake.”

The woman holds out her hand behind and a nearby harpy walks up to her and bows as she places a scroll into the queen’s hand. The Queen takes the scroll and hands it to Drake. Puzzled, Drake looks at the scroll and scratches his head and looks at the queen hoping she would tell him what it is.

“Go on and open it.” She says.

Drake unravels the scroll and his eyes widen in disbelief as he sees six verses all glowing in their unique elements.

Extend, Explosion, Multiply, Draw, Ensnare, and Flash.

“Wow.” Drake says peering at the scroll.

“A verse scroll to aid you in your travels.” The queen says.

A smile cracks on his face as he closes the scroll and shoves it into his red tunic.

“Thank you,” Drake says with a slight bow. “This will help me greatly.”

“Now that we formally introduce ourselves, what’s the purpose of your travels?”

Drake hesitates for a moment as he gathers his thoughts. I guess it’s best to tell them. He thinks.

“I’m on a Journey to find Estoria.” Drake says.

The room went quiet as the crackling torches fill the room with its orange hue. All of the Harpies and Tengu stare at him as the King and Queen shot glances towards each other.

Maybe I shouldn’t have told them. Drake thinks.

“Um…is there something wrong?” Drake asks.

“You’re seeking the ancient city?” The Tengu King asks folding his arms. “Forgive our skepticism but it’s a strange thing for a foreigner to seek such a place.”

“Because you don’t think it exists?” Drake asks.

“Quite the opposite,” the King says shrugging his bulky shoulders. “We know it exists, but we believe it shouldn’t be found.”

“Why?” Drake asks side-eying the two.

“Ancient stories passed down by our ancestors says that Estoria is a place of sorrow and misfortune. Those who dwell there are said to be vacant beings devoid of emotion or expression. Some even say it’s a prison.”

Drake eyes ping pong between the King and Queen as thoughts raced in his head.

I wonder if these stories are true. Though, if it was spectacular everyone thought it should be, she would’ve told me sooner. Why wait so long?

“Are they any archives around for me to read?” Drake asks. “I would like to find out more.”

“Yes we do in fact.” The queen says with an elated smile on her face. “I love it when young minds inquire knowledge. Jasmine will take you there as soon as you are ready.”

“I’m sorry but there’s one more thing that I’d like to ask your higness.” Drake asks with a slight bow.

“What is it?” Drake hesitates for a few moments as he tries to gather his thoughts. Standing in front of a crowd he didn’t want to sound…awkward.

“Are there any…” He folds his arms and pensively graces his thumb and finger on his chin. “Hidden chamber,”

The queen tilts her head slightly, with a confused look on her face but the King keeps a straight face as his eyes shift left and back.

“Hidden chamber?” she asks.

“It’s hard to explain but it’s made of metal and it can talk.” Drake says as his eyes focus on the King.

“Metal can talk?” The queen asks.

“Nevermind,” Drake sighs shaking his head. “Sorry, I asked!”

“Well, why don’t we continue with the festivities then.” The Queen says as she turns to the flute players and claps her hands.

The flute players resume their tunes and the banquet carries on. All of the subjects including Drake had their fill of meat, fruit and drink and conversed with each other. Various people, Tengu and Harpie alike huddle around Drake, asking about his travels and his battle with King Radius. While Drake bashfully embellishes their curiosity with his story. Soon night-fall arrives and everyone retreat to their dwellings within the palace.

Drake asks Jasmine to take him to the archive and she guides him deep into the palace. Walking on a large branch Jasmine points to one of many huts perched on branch intersections.

to be continued...