The Pentangle of the Faithful

by Liam W. Harrris

THE PENTANGLE OF THE FAITHFUL

LWHarris

CHARACTER AND PLACE NAME KEY

Rin'jad (rin/jad): Young Prince of Juitashbad and main character in this story.

Jhouteana (joo/tea/anna) Forest dweller and attendant to the Pentangle Faeries.

Pentangle Faeries: Mystical beings who control the five elements of Mesowania. Messengers to the Goddess.

Lord Hamli'Gracig (lord/ham/li/grace/ig): Anti-Royalist Leader in Juitashbad.

Jenrag (jen/raa/g): Mysterious Woman of the Mountain.

Juitashbad (joo/ee/tash/bad) City of Skies. Home to Rin'jad

Mesowania (mezzo/wan/ee/a) World sandwiched between two others making it dependant on the balance.

Grellnafad (gr/elle/na/fad) Forest wherein live the elves and forest people.

PART #1: INTO THE FOREST

It was dawn. The brilliance of the midsummer sun reflected its brightness off the white roofed houses, standing like soldiers, encompassing the land inside the ancient city's walls. Atop the great keep, near the centre of the citadel, two shimmering golden eyes looked out to the horizon. They were of piercing blue, a colour to rival the goddess's as his father put it. The stillness of the crowded city always amazed Rin'jad even though he observed the waking city of Jiutashbad every morning. Beyond the walls lay rich valleys covered in lush grass. Even further away from the walls of his home were the forests he had heard about in stories; stories of cannibals and Great Lions who would eat you alive. It was lucky for him he would never set foot outside Jiutashbad.

Suddenly, he heard a scream. His eyes darted from the land afar to just below him. It took a few minutes to digest what was happening. On the street far down below, an army was marching towards the citadel. Rin'jad soon realised that his family's worst fears were about to come true. It was an army, inside the walls! But, instead of wearing the gold and crimson robes of the Royal Guard, they wore the black and yellow clothe of anti-royalists, and at their head was Lord Hamli'Gracig. Rebellion was coming, swift and harsh, and Prince Rin'jad knew that as the heir to Jiutashbad, he would be wanted dead.

Panic had broken out in the Citadel. As far as the eye could see housemaids and servants rushed around collecting things to bring on their journey through the tunnel of Magosin-Graesi. In the midst of the confusion, the King and Queen were being rushed towards the entrance to the escape. If the Royal family was to survive the escape would have to be done quickly. Rin'jad followed them.

Suddenly, a crash rang out. The great door had been flattened. Servants scattered everywhere screaming in terror. Rin'jad watched as some were struck down by axes maces and swords of the yellow-robed demons. He entered the tunnel with a thumping heart. It was dark. Rin'jad then called out for his parents. They began running for the tunnel, but it was not the will of the goddess that they make it. His father was the first to fall as a master archer left his mark in the good king's side. Then his mother was taken away from him as her skull was shattered by an already blood-stained club. A servant closed the tunnel door and bolted it shut. Then there was a scream, then silence.

Rin'jad was alone in the dark tunnel, the only survivor of the citadel's razing. He tried with no avail to shake the images of the day's tragedies from his head. He sat and wept. He wept for his mother, his father and the home he knew he could never see again. However after a while he understood his duty as True King of Jiutashbad was to find his strength, and someday return to avenge his people. But, the important thing now, was to survive. His wiped the tears from his face and looked into the dark abyss.

For days, Rin'jad stumbled through the darkness that lay before him. He could see nothing, not even his hand in front of his face and yet he persisted on, until time had escaped him and hunger and thirst were robbing his stamina. Many a time, he sat down and started to cry, but it was no longer an option as even his tears dried up. His feet grew heavy and his head grew hot with fever. The tunnel had not been made for a quick escape. Instead it had been meant to lead the royal family away from a siege. Unfortunately, since the attackers were already inside the city walls and there was no time to muster supplies, there was little hope of the young prince's survival.

It was on the fourth day that Rin'jad could no longer move. He sat down and leant his tired soul against the hard cold rock on the tunnel. Slowly, his eyes closed, making scarce a difference from having them open against such an inky blackness. His mind's eye set to work creating beautiful dreams of his homeland, his family and everything familiar.

Suddenly, a new sound met his ears in the lonely dream world. A voice, tainted with a foreign accent and several word unknown to him. His mind pushed away his dreamland. His eyes opened slowly, revealing the pounding rays of the mid-day sun.

As Rin'jad's eyes adjusted to the light, a figure appeared, leaning over his frail body. It was a woman, but a woman the likes of whom he had never seen before. Her hair reached ever downwards past her shoulder. Her face was of a dark ruddy colour. But most astonishing of all were her eyes. They were large, and of a red so pure it resembled the blood of the goddess. Soon enough however, his eyes closed and his dreams returned to his weary mind.

In what seemed like a lifetime in his dream world, Rin'jad awoke once more to find the woman leaning over him. However they were no longer in the caves, nor where they outside. The bright sunshine fought through the hut Rin'jad was in. It was small, like the scullery maid's quarters at the Citadel and was made of woven twigs which climaxed at a small chimney although he could see no fire.

"Finally! I was beginning to worry about whether or not you'd ever wake up. But, we have no time to talk you must drink and eat quickly air your eyes close once more, Prince Rin'jad." spoke the ruddy faced woman.

"How do you know my name?" replied the prince. "I thought you were merely a figment of my dream. Where am I? Surely we be out of the cave in which I travelled."

"You speak truly majesty. We be here in Caer'Gweneden, a village many miles away from your fair city of Jiutashbad, in the forests of Grellnafad." Rin'jad leapt back in terror. "Fear me not prince, we are no cannibals. It was my ancestors who crafted these stories that reached your ears, for They do not often wish for a white skin to come in to the wood."

"You did not answer my question." said Rin'jad with a trembling voice. "For I know you not. Who are you and who are They?"

"They are the Pentangle Faeries, the last remaining of the race of Scemlea and Joulon who came over the mountains many years ago. They serve the Goddess and keep the eternal balance of Mesowania* even between evil and good. I am their attendant Jhouteana. It was They who sent me looking for you, well they know of the troubles of the royal family, but things are much more complicated then that. I know not what happens but I venture to think the Goddess' sister, Manarijgaret is toiling with the balance. Who knows what will happen if she succeeds. Have you heard of Dredina?"

Rin'jad stared for a moment. Throughout his life he had never heard so much information in so short a time. Faeries? They were the characters in stories, not real, where they? And never had he heard of the Goddess having a sister. But, Dredina was well known. She was the queen of the Witches a powerful race second only to the faeries. One day she found an evil red stone (which tainted her mind) and renamed herself Dredina**, she sought to undo the balance of Mesowania by opening a portal to another world, but was stopped by a band of Heroes.

"Fear not," Jhouteana said after a long gap silence, "Things shall become clearer tonight."

So Rin'jad rested in the twig-hut for several hours until midday whereupon he left to visit with the ruddy faced people of the forest village Caer'Gweneden. He beheld that everyone had the same piercing red eyes and all day they talked of Faeries, Dredina, the Goddess, and her mysterious sister. A new topic also reached his ears; elves. Apparently, they were Faerie cousins who possessed some magic. But, after all this talk, neither head nor tail could Rin'jad make of the situation. He would soon see the light.

PART #2: AWAKING THE PENTANGLE

The sun bled, covering the sky in red as it fell away past behind a grove of trees. Rin'jad anxiously awaited the night. Jhouteana had said all would become clear this eve. He had so many questions! How did they know about his troubles? How did he survive so long a time with neither food nor water? Why did the Faeries of the Pentangle will him come? And most importantly where were they?

Meanwhile far beyond the village of Caer'Gweneden, Master Hamli'Gracig looked out on his city, its white roofed houses, cobblestone streets and the great walls. He dreamed of so much more. Conquering far away lands, building great cities, no one would stand in his way. None did he know of Prince Rin'jad's escape, nor did he ever imagine that his body was merely a puppet of Manarijgaret's plan to destroy the Faeries.

There was a knock at the door. Hamli'Gracig opened it. "Master, a woman is here to see you." said the servant at the door. "Show her in." the Master said sharply.

The lady entered. She was tall, so tall in fact she looked down upon the Master as he ushered her in. Her face was dark from sun which made the white colour of her hair even more astonishing. Her eyes were of a brilliant green, so green that the trees of Grellnafad paled in comparison.

"An honour to meet you milord Master. I am Jenrag of the mountain. I have come to tell you news which you may not find pleasant to your ear. But, fear not I will help you overcome your peril." said the woman.

"Get on with it then." Master said impatiently. What could a wild woman of the mountain possibly do to help him?"Prince Rin'jad lives."

The Master's eyes widened, his face shook. "Prince Rin'jad is dead." Hamli'Gracig said calmly, although his eyes burned with passion.

"Know you truly sir?" continued Jenrag. "Did you see his corpse laid upon the cold earth? Speak you true, for if you have not you must believe me in my words when I say that it is the elves and faerie folk who have aided him. They think you pose a threat to their kind."

"What do you propose to do about this, damsel?" said the master, now shaking with rage.

"Let us show them just how threatening you can be." Jenrag said her face wrinkling into a grin. "The Goddess herself dare not stand in our way."

Back in the deep forests of Grellnafad, Rin'jad, Jhouteana and a ruddy faced man called Gnori marched in to the thick of the wood. Rin'jad knew not were they went, but he knew he would find answers there. After an hour, Gnori began chanting softly; step by step this chanting grew louder until the man was yelling the ancient words.

Suddenly, he stopped. They had entered a clearing. Now it was dark, so dark that Rin'jad could scarce tell how large the clearing was. "We are here." Jhouteana said firmly.

"We are where exactly?" Rin'jad couldn't help but ask. But, Jhouteana just smiled her white teeth bright against the black of night. As suddenly as he had stopped, Gnori began chanting again:

"Hagonas Fatone Ni Jorase Kaferas Ra Nantua, Hagonas Fatone Ni Jorase Kaferas Ra Nantua, Hagonas Fatone Ni Jorase Kaferas Ra Nantua."

A light shone from the grass at Rin'jad's feet. So white and pure that he was blinded for a moment. When his eyes had adjusted, he saw that the light made a shape in the rough lawn of the clearing; a pentangle.

"This is the Pentangle of Grellnafad," Jhouteana explained, "Home to the Pentangle Faeries. They will answer all your questions." There was a long pause. Rin'jad tried in vain to get Jhouteana's attention, but it would not budge. She stared endlessly in to the abyss. Gnori continued to chant the same words over and over again, his eyes closed, lips pursed and head bowed.

Suddenly, like a spark into flame, five glowing beings appeared; one in each corner of the pentangle. They were about the size of a small child. Their being each radiated a different colour of light. One brown, one yellow, one green, one blue and one red. The brown one spoke:

"Fair greetings Prince Rin'jad! We are the Pentangle Faeries, the last faeries ever to grace Mesowania*. Well we know of the trouble that has befallen to you, and however awful it may seem now it is much worse. You see, what has passed is not the will of the Goddess, but rather her sister, Manarijgaret. She gave Lord Hamli'Gracig the strength to enter the citadel and even now she will see to it that you are killed. You wonder how this has come about. It is all because of the eternal balance. Manarijgaret wishes it to be broken so that her realm, Eillio, will prosper. First, however she must kill the keepers of the balance; the faerie kind. Once she almost succeeded when she possessed the good queen Alena and made her Dredina, and now we are all that is left of our race. You are the last hope, Prince. For the Goddess, you must go see our cousin, King Hammrad of the elves join together an army, and win."

Then as quickly as they had come, they left, encompassing the glade in darkness. Rin'jad knew that if he did not follow the fair people's words, the world would soon be as dark as the clearing.

PART #3: THE GATHERING STORM

For weeks Rin'jad, Jhouteana, Gnori, and a man called Hjiol walked west-ward into the thick of the forest. It, at one point, grew so dark that one could scarce tell whether it be night or day, but no matter the situation the little party carried on. Rin'jad soon learned that Hjiol was a master of elf speak, and that Gnori had come for he bared the symbol of faerie kind, whatever that meant. Jhouteana however uttered not a word. Her face turned ever west-ward towards the setting of the sun.

It was after awhile that Rin'jad lost track of time. Minute or hour, day or week, it seemed the same to him. So, I may only say, many days past the beginning of the journey, Jhouteana stopped suddenly. Her eyes darted around herself. Rin'jad turned to see what was wrong.

"Listen!" hissed Jhouteana, her face whitening as she spoke. "Horses," Rin'jad was silent for a moment. His eyes moved from one side of the path to the other. Then he heard it. Clip, clop, clip, clop It was certain that they were horses.

Suddenly, from the thick undergrowth, Master Hamli'Gracig came, riding on a white stallion. Behind him rode Jenrag and behind her rode five armed, yellow clothed soldiers. Hjiol drew his dagger, but was thrown to the ground by an archer's keen shot.

"Why are you here?" said Rin'jad. "Leave at once!" His hands shook vigorously. He bit his tongue so as not to provoke the Master.

"We are here to kill you!" screamed Jenrag. She threw her sword at Rin'jad. He ducked. The sword whizzed above his head piercing a nearby oak tree.

"Run!" cried Jhouteana. At once Gnori, Jhouteana and Rin'jad dashed away on the elf path. They knew however that their tiered feet could not match the speed of Juitashbadi horses. Rin'jad's feet grew heavier until a protruding root caught his foot and he fell. His face was filled with mud as it hit the ground. He stood up and faced the Master and his vile company. Hamli'Gracig drew his bow and fired. The arrow zinged through the air. A loud thump was heard. Rin'jad fell to the ground and his eyes closed.

"It is done." said Jenrag, wrinkling her dark face into a horrible smile. "Let us now take care of the Faeries." With that they rode off east-ward down the path towards the Pentangle Faeries' glade.

Rin'jad opened his eyes. His bold plan had worked. Though he had only been shot in the arm, his theatrical display made them think he was dead. He stood up. There was nothing but silence around him. He realized at that moment that he was alone; very alone.

After a few days of walking along the path he knew that catching up to the others without supplies was impossible. He sat down and sobbed. Soon afterwards his thirst hit him hard, and his blue eyes closed.

Not long after this, a pleasant sound came upon his ear. "Nacnano Taeraema Jodo Lascali Mas Tono Aigni Ra" He felt then as if he was flying like a bird travelling under the gentle rays of the sun. He could feel the air rushing past his face; he could hear the cawing of birds. He flew for many a minute until he was lightly set down upon the ground.

"Do not give up young son of Juitashbad," said a strange voice in his head, "I watch over you. Now I will you AWAKE!" Rin'jad opened his eyes. His mouth stood agape in astonishment. He was in a village, an elfish village! All around him were farms and houses, shops and gardens, and at the top of the hill, a great castle.

He walked up to it and spoke to the porter at the gate. "Pray grant me enter, sir" said Rin'jad. "Nay no one may enter the castle today, especially not a flat-ear like you!" replied the porter, giggling at his insult. "I am Rin'jad of Juitashbad! I ask you again, grant me enter."

The porter's eyes widened, his jaw dropped. He coughed in embarrassment. "Well I guess I can make an exception."

Once inside the castle Rin'jad was reunited with his friends and met the elf king Hammrad. Jhouteana had already explained to him of their troubles and within half an hour a small army left the elfish village heading east-ward along the path to Juitashbad.

PART #4: THE LAST STAND

It was only once they were on their way down the path that Rin'jad really noticed the elves. Their faces were long and slender with large pointy ears, complementing their brown eyes and the brown locks of hair hidden under the wrought silver of their helmets. Most of the warriors carried bows or swords, while others rode atop great steeds with long lances of wood.

The soft sound of armour and arms broke the silence of the forest path. The elf king Hammrad rode in front of Rin'jad (who walked). He was much more regal then the folk latterly spoken of. A bright red cape hung from his shoulders. His helmet shone of gold, with many a jewel encrusted in the metal. It covered his nose as well as his head, making his appearance even more mysterious against the black of the wood. So it was that Rin'jad, Jhouteana, Gnori, Hammrad and the elfish warriors marched down the pass to Caer'Gweneden.

Back in Juitashbad, having ridden swiftly through the night Jenrag, Master Hamli'Gracig and the five soldiers who escorted them entered the Citadel. They dismounted their horses and walked up the great stair to the Master Hall. Hamli'Gracig and Jenrag sat down at either end of the long oaken table.

"What do you propose our next move be, Master?" Jenrag said, her eyes hungering for bloodshed.

"We do nothing. I ride in the morning to the great sea to conquer all land that may come upon me on my journey. You will return from whence you came, and I pray never to see your face again." returned the Master.

Jenrag's face was filled with shock. She stared intensely at her betrayer. Her mouth slowly opened in to her vile grin. She laughed. Indeed, she laughed so hard that Master Hamli'Gracig was taken quite aback.

Then, as if by some wicked enchantment her arms began to grow, then her legs, then her entire being. Her hair grew ten fold and turned blond. Most frightening of all however were her teeth, they grew downwards, creating fangs as the wolf has. She no longer looked like Jenrag but something far more dangerous.

"Know you not who I am?" she cried. Hamli'Gracig shrank back to the corner of the room. His eyes screamed terror. "I am Manarijgaret." The cowardly master would never be seen again.

Back in Grellnafad, Rin'jad and his company had reached the Pentangle. After Gnori had chanted the holy chant, They appeared. "Rin'jad," spoke the brown Faerie, "You have done well in your quest. I see now that you are ready for war. But, a king is not a king without a crown. Here, take yonder crown crafted beyond the mountains were the Goddess sits. Be strong Rin'jad and you also Jhouteana and elf king, Manarijgaret will fall only if you show bravery and courage in her face. Be blessed." They vanished.

Rin'jad knelt to the ground. He picked up the crown. It was curiously wrought of gold and silver, making it glisten it the light of the setting sun. He was overcome with joy and determination. Without saying a word he got up, and started walking down the path. The others followed, keeping a fair distance from Rin'jad as his mind wandered to other worlds. In a few hours, they would reach Caer'Gweneden, and then it would be off to the high wall at Juitashbad.

They reached the village in the heart of the night. The moon shone through the fragile branches atop the canopy, speckling the twig huts with silver so as to make them look magical in the black night.

"Rin'jad, shall we stop here for rest? Yonder path grows dark." asked Jhouteana. She hoped very much that they would stop so as to prepare for the battle.

"Neigh, we march on through the night," replied Rin'jad, "So as to reach Juitashbad in good time this week coming."

"Then I shall go and wake the warriors of Gweneden and dress for battle." said Jhouteana, resigning her will to the True King.

And so it was done.

***

It was five long days before Juitashbad adorned itself on Rin'jad's horizon. His eyes narrowed in determination. He could smell the scent of hope upon the air once more, for he knew that the Goddess willed he win. The question was not that however, but it was the simple fact of the strength of said Goddess as opposed to that of Manarijgaret.

"An army!" Jhouteana yelled, breaking Rin'jad's delicate train of thought. "An army marches hither! Warriors, to your posts!" Jhouteana cried, her experience placing her first in command over Rin'jad.

All was as she had said. Out of the north marched a sea of soldiers stumbling nervously south. Rin'jad wondered for a moment why they looked so cowardly over the yonder. He soon found out when a huge ebony chariot appeared ploughing down soldiers as it approached. When the Prince saw the face of the demon he knew rightly who it was for the first time, for he had been fooled. Jenrag was Manarijgaret.

"This is sorely news, majesty." said Jhouteana, her head hung low, "From some strange magic yonder demon has come forth in to Mesowania. The Goddess surely possesses no such power and so stands helpless. We are certainly done fore."

"Perhaps," returned Rin'jad smiling slightly, "But I will fight all the same. Yonder demon shall fall at mine own hand or else I shall die." Jhouteana nodded mournfully. "You shall soon have a chance to prove it."

Battle cries leapt up at that moment, flooding the battlefield with noise. Archers drew their bows, swordsman drew their swords and cavalrymen set their lances in rest waiting to impale one another. The sun shone hotly down on Rin'jad and his company as they ran screaming towards Manarijgaret and her Mesowanic entourage. The elfish cavalry reached the opponent first, never being challenged by the mediocre anti-royalist soldiers.

They approached Manarijgaret head on and at one point it looked as if they might succeed in maiming her. Not so, for she raised her giant arms and with clenched fists crushed the men and horses, laughing hideously as she did so. The elf king, having worn such vain apparel was dragged down from his horse and speared by two Juitashbadi guards staining them with green elf blood.

Jhouteana, Rin'jad, the Grellnafadian soldiers and the elfish footmen were the next on the attack, and indeed like the cavalry men they fought valiantly. They hacked and hewed, staining yellow to red and laying the innocent betrayers upon the cold earth.

From among these betrayers however was a young man named Scilla. He was scared. Never before had he killed a man, nor did he even want to take part in this war. It was only by the force of his father Lord Hamli'Gracig that he did. At any rate he drew his bow with a shaking hand. So as not to see the victim, Scilla closed his eyes and shot blindly into the sea of fighters. Jhouteana noticed the arrow, neither for the shape nor colour of it but for the fact that it headed dangerously towards Rin'jad.

The next second seemed to last forever to Jhouteana. She pushed her way through fellow soldiers and enemy ones alike, finally reaching Rin'jad who was busy dodging blows from a master swordsperson. Jhouteana jumped, high into the air like a bird. From the front the arrow came, piercing the martyr in the chest. She fell to the ground.

"Jhouteana!" Rin'jad screamed, "Jhouteana you saved my life, but now you die!" He began to cry so innocently that the soldier he was fighting ran off to find someone else to kill.

"I know I die, Rin'jad." Jhouteana replied softly. "But, it was meant to be this way. Full well you and I know that you will carry your faith in the Goddess to victory with or without me by your side." And Rin'jad knew she spoke true, so he went to battle once more, leaving fate to deal with Jhouteana.

After many long hours of relentless fighting Rin'jad found himself knocked to the ground and presumed dead. He was the last surviving soldier of his side. Even as he looked around himself the battlescimmers walked through the rows of dead bodies to make sure there were no survivors. He slowed his breathing and moved not a muscle. Among the silence of the finished battle he could hear gentle footsteps of a soldier drawing nearer.

Now was his chance. With his last ounce of resolve he gripped his sword. As suddenly as the coming of the world he leapt up and stabbed with his sword, impaling the yellow robed enemy instantly. Then he ran. Swift as the night his feet went, creating great muddy footprints as he went. Soldiers from all around began hacking and slicing with their swords staining Rin'jad's simple garments a deep red. Then the archers drew their bows and fired. Eight large arrows protruded from the Prince's chest, and yet he kept running, his eyes firmly set on Manarijgaret.

He ran faster and faster despite his cruel wounds. He ran for his mother and father, for Jhouteana, for Gnori and Hijol, for the elves, but most of all for the Faeries and the Goddess who, despite their great magics, relied on him for help. Manarijgaret was scarce three pieds away now. He stopped. He aimed. He threw. His aim was true and Manarijgaret gave a scream of pain. Blood rushed from her first and last earthly wound. Her shriek gave form to a great black spirit, which at its final moment was swept far away over the mountain and to the east, to where it belonged.

Rin'jad looked down upon himself. His body was covered wholly in his royal blood. There was scare a part of him that was not cut to the bone, or speared by an arrow. He looked up to the brilliance of the midsummer sun and smiled. His great eyes of blue closed enveloping his world in darkness as his spirit travelled on its final journey over the mountain and in to the arms of the Goddess.

PART #5: EPILOGUE

Holy Scripture of Marin delQuaesen Tyun, Under Kzen of the First Humanic Church of Mesowania. 304 years after the Dredina.

I write this holy recordance on the 39th day of summer as is done every year at this time to commemorate the brave martyrical deeds of Rin'jad the martyr and Jhouteana the martyr, as well as their companions. Every year we here at the Monastery of Sensollan reflect on the great deeds of these heroes as they faced the Supreme Adversity as well as how we can use this in our lives to be more like the people of old. I am old and have seen many things in my time as Monk and Under Kzen, but never have I seen the face of the demon Manarijgaret. I feel full grateful that this is so and that is makes us all so different from Rin'jad. Unlike some of the other monks who say that they can achieve such deeds if their will in the Goddess is strong, I know that Rin'jad was blessed. Through some research of my own I have discovered that no one since that faithful summer's day 118 years ago no one has matched the exploits of said Prince. But I take pride in the fact that no matter who we are we play a role in the sacred balance of Mesowania, and that when I die I shall reach across the mountains and join hands with Rin'jad, Jhouteana and the Goddess.

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