Rendric of the North
By Wesley Allison
The battleship H.M.S. Minotaur cut through the mighty waves seemingly without effort. Behind it trailed a great black plume of smoke, like the ship itself, a testament to the mighty power of modern civilization. Zurfina the Magnificent stood by the railing and let the wind whip through her wild blond hair. Senta, her nine year old apprentice, dressed all in black, just like her mistress, sat nearby. Curled up at the girl’s feet was the small lithe form of a baby dragon. Its scales reflected the sun like shiny new steel, but its wings were tucked in and its eyes were covered by the tip of its tail. It slept.
“It’s time for lessons,” said Senta.
“Yes. What did we learn yesterday, Geography?”
“When am I going to learn about Magnus the Great and Kafira?”
“Plenty of time for that, Pet,” replied Zurfina. “Today I’m going to tell you the story that takes place almost two thousand years before either King Magnus or Kafira Kristos. Today I’m going to tell you the story of Rendric of the North.”
“What’s so great about him then?”
Rendric of the North
The great chamber was half a mile long and nearly a quarter of a mile wide. Carved out of the inside of Mount Pintar, its ceiling was five hundred feet above the floor. Even with dozens of large pyres burning here and there, hundreds of torches all aflame mounted on the walls, and hundreds of free-standing candelabras shining brightly, shadows were everywhere. Hidden in these shadows were men and women; the kinds of men and women who preferred shadows. In those areas brightly lit, it was easy to see the collected wealth of an empire—jewels, artworks, tapestries—opulence everywhere. The goddess-queen Xynjanphanae sat on her throne, high atop the multi-level dais. Her long red fingernails clicked against the stone arm as she watched the swordsman enter through the distant archway and walk steadily toward her.
He was a huge man, with rippling muscles like cords of braided iron beneath tanned skin. His bright intelligent eyes looked this way and that from beneath a shock of black hair. He was dressed in animal skins, cut and roughly sewn into pants and boots. His chest was bare of clothing, but he wore gold about his wrists and neck. He had long knives in his belt, and across his back was slung a great sword.
“I know who you are.” Xynjanphanae’s voice was loud and clear throughout the massive chamber, though she spoke in a normal tone. It sounded to anyone listening as though she was standing right beside them. “I have been waiting for you Rendric.”
The man didn’t stop, but continued on toward her at the same pace. He was so far away that he could barely make out her form, but the light and the focus of the entire room was toward that one spot and he knew that it would be she who awaited him there. Neither spoke as he made his long way across the room, though many figures along the edges of the chamber shifted their positions from one shadow to another. Finally the man reached the lowest step before the grand throne. He could see the goddess-queen now as well as she had seen him from half a mile away. She was statuesque but voluptuous. Her long arms were virtually covered in jewels and the long sleeveless dress that touched the floor was made of the finest silk. Fiery red hair framed a face dominated by a long thin nose and eyes that flashed the same red as her hair.
“I have come a long way,” he said.