57 AEA

Noghal could remember the construction of their fine city of Caravhas with it's mighty towers looking out over the distance and the marble buildings of white shining as the sun beamed down on them. Though young he was at the time, it was a marvel. He had been born in the third year, with stories told to him at night of how they had escaped the Aradian storm and entered this land. How they had fended off great wolves  as they ascended Caravhas. There were many stories in those three years, though many were made up to scare him or strengthen his resolve.

He sat in his quarters and looked for his armor. He wore his tunic and silver armor etched with ancient Magorian incantations and leaf images. He had his silver boots and gauntlets, his white cloak bearing the symbol of the archway entwined with vines.

He placed on his head his horsehair helmet and his sword on his waist and shield on his back.

Light blazed on the entrance of the Palace of Messalia as the six soldiers stood on either side of the door in a line with their arms across their chest holding their horns. The door opened and Noghal with his sick father appeared, bathed in  sunlight.

The horns blew in unison, ringing across the mountains and echoing into the distance.

Noghal placed his hand on his father's and kissed it. Then without his father, walked past the soldiers. At the end they turned and followed him. Once at the stable he mounted his chestnut mare and cantered down the mountain road with his entourage passing various houses and admirers who stood waving him away.

It was a long journey to reach the bottom of the pathway and reach the ancient Verasen Grove and onwards, through Valahlir, the Forest of Light where the wooded city stood. The canopy was sparse, light streaming in various patterns, like an ornate veil cloaking the people. Valahlir was known for it's great Hunters who could shoot a wolf in the dark two leagues away.

There wandered a group of Hunters of Valah, patrolling the borders. They met the Prince with a restrained politeness, they were a fine and decent people but had little time for courtesy and the rich.

"Be on your guard," one Hunter said, "for their is talk of foul folk about and there has been a stir in the wild, the bears and wolves grow restless," he murmered. Noghal barely caught his words, for the Hunters treated every moment like there were enemies lurking about and walked as silently as some of the thieves they fought.

"Thank you... what is your name?" Noghal asked.

"I am known to my fellows as Ceruvalir, Lord of the Forests, but to a Prince, I am simply a Hunter," he bowed his head, "I ask your permission to leave, for their have been reports of suspicous people lurking in these here woods and we have been tracking them."

"I shall leave you then to your duty, I am much awed at your prowess and pride, but I am sure my words mean little to you, maybe one day they will... but until that day, I bid you farewell."

They continued on their path and entered the wooded city. It was surrounded by a wooden wall with vines and roots entangled in it. The houses were rather simple, small with thatched houses that bellowed thick steam into the air. Around was the stench of hard work, there were those cutting wood, others crafting and fletching, there was building and more people carrying heavy items.

The Prince found the largest building he could which appeared to be a temple to the Hunter God Cerannos. The building was empty save from the wooden beams leading up to a small altar where three Priest stood.

"Good day Priests of the Hunt, I look now for the proclaimed leader of this humble city... where would I find him?" the Priests turned to the Prince and regarded him with curiosity.

One spoke up, "I am surprised you have not already met him, for he has been searching through the forests that lie between our huble city and yours," Noghals thoughts crossed to Ceruvalir, he had thought his name was a self proclaimed title, "there have been, ah, rumours regarding the strange visitors, questions about the Prince and the Capital, our Lord believes that someone plans to assassinate you."

The Prince looked at the Priest in annoyance.

"Thankyou, I am then indebted towards you," the Prince left the Temple and once more mounted his horse. That is when they left the safety of the city into the forest once more, riding towards the Great River.

The End

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