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Vol. 1    Prologue


By Kenneth Mulholland

About this legend

    About the Author

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Copyright 2002 Kenneth Mulholland


Varlar, so named by the first to sail her seas and walk her shores.


Varlar, world of the elves: a mystery and a wonder. The earth, our own fair

earth, fraught with many unknown, unseen dangers; terrible and beautiful as

the west-rising sun.


Who then could say as to what lay in the darkest depths of her oceans, who

guess that doom?


And yet, upon a later time, it was foretold, 'The Nardred awaits Its moment

to arise from the deeps; there to bring forth chaos, and the downfall of






By night, floating across the broad sheet of sea, where above stars strewed

the vault of black sky, the few survivors of war and calamity looked out

from the salt encrusted decks of their battered hulk, last vessel left of a

handful to cross such strange and desolate waters. In fixed horror, they

gazed ahead to where two vast, unmoving orbs hovered beneath the surface of

the waves.    Baleful were those great, pale lights, and sinister. And it

came to the wretched watchers that some almighty creature, drawn up from

far below, was about to engulf them. And they were struck mute with terror.

Some, indeed swooned. Some covered their eyes. Others, too exhausted

through deprivation or wound, could merely strain forward, staring; their

haggard faces yellowed in an icy gleam of the sickle moon.                



Only the lapping waters broke the stillness of the world, whilst that

crippled craft, alone on all the ocean, passed slowly across the menace

that lurked beneath, where it faded from sight in the wash astern.




By day's first glimmer, the refugees lifted their eyes and hands and hearts

toward the bowl of rising light that was the sun, and gave thanks at their

deliverance into another morning. And yet still they were alone, without

hope of landfall and succour. Food they had, for carried with them were

fowl and livestock, and fish were to be taken from sea; but water, life

giving water, had dwindled to a swill. Perhaps a madness would have

overtaken them long before then, but for the strength of three men; Edrun

their king, Bartram, his stout captain, and Forinth, a simple fisherman who

had piloted the wreckage of their poor ship through carnage and tempest.

His scant knowledge of the sea beyond sight of land, learned as a child at

his father's knee whilst plying the coasts off the margins of their

country, had kept them from total disaster.


Though as it was, the wide southern land of The Raven, Bran Anweald, had

fallen to fierce, dark-skinned invaders; and an end had come to the once

mighty line of the Bran kings, kings who had ruled for nine generations in

dignity and peace. And even as that realm trembled, overrun with rapine and

slaughter, and most of the champions and captains met death, clutching

bloody swords in failing hands, Bartram had marshalled the king and his

family out of the fray raging toward the sounding ocean, and thence aboard

the few craft left unscathed. With flames licking at their timbers, some of

these set sail, hounded by the enemy until rolling banks of fog hid the

vessels from pursuit.


During the following days five ships drifted together, banished forever

from home harbour, until a dreadful storm overtook them, blowing hard out

of the south. So that when it had passed only a single craft remained, a

speck against an empty horizon.              The other ships, including

that bearing Brenna, Edrun's queen, Qwilla his daughter, and Ernole his

eldest son, had vanished without trace.


Forsaken, those remaining were told that their king was dying from the

effects of a wound sustained during the defence of their realm, and that he

had already passed authority and responsibility for his surviving heir, the

princeling Weldun, to captain Bartram and Forinth the fisherman. The first,

to guide the boy of eight summers as guardian, and the second, charged with

the command to make landfall in some far country where a new kingdom of The

Raven might be founded unassailed.




As they endured many more days on the open sea without hint of relief and

the king drifted ever closer to death, hope waned amongst his peoples.

Some, hurt beyond help or sickened by ocean-malady, died and were sent

overboard. Grief and lamentation at the loss of loved ones mingled with

despair so that the only sounds upon the waterlogged vessel were those of

mourning, together with the bleating and lowing and cackling of livestock.

Clinging to life by the merest thread, Edrun bade Bartram and Forinth fetch

his son, and there they watched over him, weeping all three, as the noble

heart ceased to beat and the fingers fell limp from the garnet pendant

strung about the king's neck.           Edrun, son of Eran, ninth of the

monarchs of Bran Anweald was stilled. And almost on that moment, the shout

of a parched throat told of land's sighting, somewhere northward!



There were grey cliffs rising out of the sea; solid walls of rock, veiled

in foam. Impenetrable they seemed, and inhospitable. Night-shrouded reefs

loomed whilst the fickle tides hauled at the ship, drawing it closer toward

doom upon the vulture crags.   New-risen hope turned to fear. Then, except

for Forinth's skills, would all have foundered. Yet battling the helm, he

fought the swirling waters and had the mastery until a yawning channel

opened before them where stars glimmered and the moon lit their course.


Between glistening barriers, reared on either side, the fisherman steered a

passage, the sea booming in his ears; and so caught first glimpse of a

sandy strand, a bay enclosed by lofty stone.


Without warning, the vessel struck hidden teeth, and water boiled through

the cracking timbers. Amidst the madness of panic and the frantic cries of

men and animals, Forinth managed to swing the craft away from those jutting

shoals. But too late, for even as he called to those about him to abandon

ship, it was already awash and sinking.


In the confusion that followed, some were thrown into the surf and carried

away. Others struggled ashore, clinging to cattle and horses, and the

debris of flotsam. Captain Bartram waded through the shallows to the

windswept beach, cradling the young prince in his arms and there, after

setting him down, splashed again into the freezing waves.


Many were saved that night, and of the last was Forinth himself. The ship

had long vanished, gurgling to the bottom, when Bartram dragged the

fisherman from the curling waters and both lay, panting and spent, on the

desolate stretch of pebbled sand. Children, men, women, and creatures all

gathered about them; shivering from exposure and ordeal.                  



Few words were spoken then by any, but Forinth, without need of words,

lifted both a token and a sign. One, the great green pendant Andradite,

meant for the child-king; the other, a branch plucked from out the sea,

still laden with dark berries, blown from the heights above. And so, on

that very spot, he named the bay Berry. And those there with him gave

thanks to each other for landfall, and the prowess of the fisherman.



Yet the labours of the refugees from across the southern ocean were far

from ended, nor were their wonders at the strange new land before them.


On the morning of the next day, Bartram and Forinth led the strongest out

of the bay; climbing a steep, broken slope that rose toward the summit of

the cliffs. Thirsty and weakened, they gained those heights where the

lonely mew of gulls came floating down the wind, and there beheld an

awesome sight: the bleak outline of vast, ruined buildings; walls and

parapets crumbled, stone overturned upon stone.


No pennon or standard flew above the tilted spires and empty towers.      

No sentry or watch looked out from turret-slit, or paced the walkways


No hand was left, even to halt the nesting of sea birds on the ledges or

the eaves.                                                                

Only past doom unknown, lay upon those stark battlements in brooding



Nought much else did the survivors discover, save shards of cup and plate,

and a few rusted things that once might have made weapons. That folk of

their own kind had dwelt there in the long ago seemed plain enough, though

who they were and why they had gone, there was never a sign. The mystery

deepened when a huge cracked bell, wound about with queer symbols, was

found at the foot of a tower. Later, Bartram ordered it melted down and

recast. Yet when the task was completed and the bell restored to its lofty

place, only leaden sound could be wrung from it. And in the end it was left

to hang mute.


For the remainder of their lives the first folk, come of Bran Anweald

overseas, pondered the secrets of that mountain locked land without avail.



In time, Bartram and Forinth saw to the rebuilding of the fortress and

explored the surrounding lands. Slowly, those hardy people forged a new

kingdom, Bran Feld; later to be called Ravenmoor.  And there they

flourished, as did their animals, amongst an abundant supply of bird life

and fish, and fresh water.


Small farms, that would become villages, were established; fields tilled

and planted, overgrown roads cleared, and timber hewn from the forests, by

the farmer-settlers and their descendants.


Much of the story of migration, told over and again, formed a part of their

lore; and songs were made to remind folk: not the least of which was the

lay concerning the sleeping land of Ravenmoor, and the secrets it might

give up if ever awoken.



But on that very first day when Forinth and Bartram and the boy-king Weldun

gazed out thankfully across the long valley stretching away before them,

they were unaware that distant, savage eyes watched, and plotting, waited...