'The Bonding' tells the story of good vs evil in a land where they've battled, and good has won - or so it appeared. Good - the Antecederes, feel the need to leave some behind in case the evil returns. 10 generations of kings later, the evil resurfaces, with only one antecedere remaining. He, together with the last of the line of kings installed to protect the land, have made a plan, in the event the evil attempts to overcome their world. The king is attacked, and is dying. He confronts the leader of the evil beings, and splits the world. Three friends - twins and a young man, all of the same age - learn of a stone of power that has been part of the king's power to protect their world. As they find it, they, too are attacked. As the world is split, they are thrust into 3 separate realms, one with no memory of the pase. They must learn the truth of their heritage, and reunite, to save their world. With limited time, the story explores each as the discover who they are, and what they must endure to unite the world before it is too late.
The Torken Plains were a mix of low grasslands and stretches of sparse, deserted land, void of most any life. The few animals calling this home were rarely seen. Birds of prey keenly searched for any stray meal they could find as they traversed the desolate land in their flight. Yet two solitary figures on horseback could be seen making their way along the lone road-more than a path, but less than a true roadway-that cut the plains in half, leading from the southern coast to the heart of the kingdom. It was midmorning, the pair breaking camp just after daybreak. They were making their way to the crossroad near the base of the Jagund mountains-their final destination, the seat of the realm-to sit in conference with the king. As with each day, prior to embarking on that day's journey, they practiced their forms, methods of self-defense, and deep meditation. It was their preparation for the day.
This particular morning had been no different, except a question from the younger man. Barely more than a teenager, he stood over six feet tall. His frame was young and muscular, with dark auburn hair falling to his shoulders. His deep blue eyes were filled with a wisdom that belied his youth. Lately, he had been trying to recall images and thoughts from before his time with the elder. He could only find vagueness and blurred recollections. He looked to his mentor.
"We have been together since I was a small boy, and I am grateful for all of your teachings and wisdom. I have been reflecting lately on my past and my youth, and always I come back to the same question: How was it that I came to be in your service?"
It was a question the elder had anticipated for some time, but still he paused a moment before responding. It was a dangerous question, for circumstances had changed and the occurrence of various events had sped up the plans he had set in place.
"I found you in a small village in the outskirts of the seat of the kingdom. You are aware of this. What prompted this question, my young apprentice?"
"I had a disturbing dream last night. It was filled with darkness and a sense of foreboding. I know we are en route to see the king. I sense there is much more that is occurring than even we have discussed. It drew me to thinking why I have found my life to be with you. That you have said you adopted me as your son is a source of pride and comfort. My origins are a mystery to me, and I have of late had a burning desire to find out more."
The elder sat pensively for a moment, knowing he could enlighten his youthful charge. Instead, he stood, and began to gather their belongings. "We have more important things of concern now. Maybe when we are settled in the castle and can review some of the birth documents of that time, we can learn more. For now, let us continue our journey with haste, for I fear you are correct in your assessment-there is much more occurring, and at a far more advanced rate than I have suspected."
As they rode together now, the older man reviewed this conversation and considered his young charge. He is not yet ready, he mused, to learn what he must. He is strong and wise for his age, but there is more he must learn. Silently he prayed there would be time.
They had traveled around the edges of the Illoth Marshes, filled with darkness and dangers that most avoided. They traveled through the Expansus Forest, encountering a few problems in their journey. They were always wary of the denizens known to dwell within, including the creatures that had attacked and wounded their king. Though the pair avoided much, they still had some narrow escapes. Packs of wolves ran through the immense forest, and one such pack had tracked them for a day. Fortunately, the elder knew how to create false trails, enabling the two to elude the pack, emerging unscathed from the vast forest. In tune with one another, they were able to overcome these obstacles.
Each day during their trek, they continued their same ritual-older teaching younger, master to apprentice-in preparation for the younger to eventually embark on his own as a traveler, a trader of news and stories. At night they camped, accompanied by a small fire, eating rations of hard biscuits, dried cheese, and salted meat, and water from their skins. Occasionally they were fortunate to snare a jackrabbit or trap a snake, which they would roast for a treat. They were both lean, not overly hungry, but had small pangs from time to time, like a constant companion along the journey. Their daily meditation helped remove some of their need, drawing on the core of their being to sustain them. They had recently come across a small spring, where they watered their horses and replenished their water skins.
Late High Sun had passed, and the time of color had long since taken hold. The nights already brought frost. The days were growing shorter and all too soon would bring cold, then snow. Already in the mountains, and near their bases, snow had fallen. They could see in the distance the gathering clouds of another storm.
This day, as with all days at this time of season, made its way to dusk all too soon. The pair halted, dismounted, and set up camp for the evening. The elder man arranged their main area, allowing the younger to again set traps in hopes of another meal of freshly cooked meat.
As they sat together in the growing darkness, they renewed their meditation, moving through the ritual words, infusing their souls with a sense of the land, allowing them to find the calm at the center of their beings. Both were able to aid their bodies in strengthening and healing from within. After an hour of respite and slight restoration, the younger man arose to check the traps. The older man took out a small pot and some herbs from a pouch in his saddlebag. Using small metal rods, he fashioned a spit and rack over the fire and hung the pot, filling it with water and the herbs. They were of a blend that healed and rejuvenated, designed to sustain their bodies and clear their minds. The younger man returned with a pair of prairie gophers he had trapped. Both were still alive, paralyzed with fear. They would have to suffice. Master and apprentice realized the sacrifice of life, and offered a small prayer for the souls of the animals. With a thought from the elder, the gophers suddenly froze and expired, with no pain. It was a small, but useful, ability that was a part of his being.
As they ate, they avoided the topic from earlier in the day, instead focusing on the upcoming meeting with the king. There were many items on their list, having been around the land for most of high sun. They were traders of news, going throughout the realm sharing truthful information between cities and villages. About four times within a pristine, they visited the king, to offer reports from outlying areas not readily accessible. They had traveled together for many pristine and though most thought of them as father and son, there was no surety, as the elder had meant it to be. When they completed their meal, the younger man commented.
"Regardless of my origins, master, I am appreciative of your teachings throughout our time together. When I am fully trained, I hope to acquit myself well as a trader and ear for the king in the land, as you have instructed. I will continue to meditate, and strengthen myself for the days ahead."
He stood, excusing himself, taking the utensils and ceramic plates, cleaning them with sand and a small amount of water. Returning them to their storage place, he next emptied the pot of the remaining broth, placing it in a special skin for the journey, and cleaned it as well. After, he laid out his mat under the stars. Tonight there was no need for their cover tarps, as it was a clear, moonless night. He stretched out, appearing to fall immediately to sleep.
The elder man sat watching him for a time, sliding his gaze toward the mountains, the direction of the castle of the king-their destination. He pondered the questions the young man posed earlier, unsure of what to say to his young charge. There was some mystery to the young man prior to the elder finding him and taking him under his care. He was a fine lad, and meant for something . special. He continued his musings, then meditated more and passed into sleep where he sat.
He awoke with a start. It was still an hour away from daybreak. Predawn showed the promise of another sunny yet cool day. He quickly rose, adding another small handful of branches to the dwindling embers of the previous nights' fire. It had been a trying ten moons. As he meditated the night before, he realized that soon he would have to reveal himself.
Unknown to most, including his young companion, he was the last of his kind, placed along with three others to serve as protectors of the land. They chose to stay behind to guide the generations of rulers destined to meld with the land and protect its people. He was still in a quandary about the evil they had faced in the earlier portion of their journey. There should not have been so great a manifestation of their ilk, but somehow their numbers were growing and they were becoming bolder. He needed to move quickly to be in place for the time that was seemingly inevitable. Their trek to the king had been at a faster pace than he would normally take.
He was ten generations in this land, imbued with regenerative properties, allowing him to remain at his present age since the time his brethren and he accepted the weight of...