Editor's Note: This story revolves around Aust Naillo and the Church of Xoriah, and begins around Trivor the 14th, 1329 Avard. Aust was played during Campaign V, Chapter Four -- the Quest for Al Mudim. This story has been editted into HTML format, but otherwise remains as the author intended. Related story concepts in the Fiction section are Prat's War, The Princess Sword, and The Lady Shore.
The sun was rising over the Burning Sun Monastery on Hallis Island. It was a warm morning on the fourth day of the Burn of Trivor. The day was only six marks old, when the bells began to toll calling all to prayer.
Aust awoke with a start. His first thought was, "What day is it? Where am I?"
The dream came back to him in a flash. He could remember kneeling before Xoriah and being told of the death of his wife, Saranella, and that he was picked to succeed her as Xoriah's Chosen. He remembered being very confused as to what had happened in twenty-eight years. He remembered the Invasion and the Resistance. He remembered the War of the Churches. He remembered everything.
He knew he had to go now to assist Saranella with the Resistance. But he also knew that he needed to bring allies to her. Where better to get them then The Lost City? He remembered Saranella telling him one night where it was located. He could recall the exact spot she told him it would be and he knew he had to get there. He remembered the hours of research to figure out how to get the City to show itself. He remembered the prayers to Xoriah that must be made so the City would come into this time. He also knew he must write a letter to Saranella now. So the first thing he did was to sit down and write.
Last night I had a dream. In my dream, it was twenty-eight years in the future. You and I were married and I was your Disciple. You were killed in the opening stages of a new War Between the Worlds. I was asked to be your successor as Chosen. I know that this is only one possible future, but the best memories I have of that time are of you and I together. I know what I must do right now to save the Church and to save Rakore. I am going to go to Wuron S'fa and attempt to make an alliance with Xynos there. I hope it will turn out good. I do not know if I can help you or not, but I do know that I can try. I will be joining you as soon as I can.
Brother Aust Nailo
Knight of the Flames
As Aust prepared to ride to Gridolin, he saw Xzax in the stable preparing his mount. "Where are you heading, Xzax?" Aust asked in a friendly manor.
"Nowhere, just had trouble sleeping and thought I would ride off the drowsiness,” replied the half dragon.
"You had the dream also didn't you?"
Xzax looked at Aust with a look that could kill anyone who did not know Xzax was calm unless he was molting. "What dream are you talking about, Cleric?"
"Twenty-eight years in the future we were at war. You remember also. What are you going to do, Xzax?"
"I am going to end this once and for all. Al Mudim will not exist for them to find and destroy that world. I will make sure of it. Grandfather willing, I will live. But if it is not his will then I will join him in death."
"I can't let you go like that Xzax. I need your help."
"I can't do it. I must end this, it is my destiny." With that Xzax was on his horse and gone into the morning.
"Burn him! I need his wits and cunning in the Resistance." Aust said to no one in particular. But there was someone listening to everything.
This was the moment they had been waiting for. They had Aust alone and they could take him. This was the time to make their move.
Xzax came riding back into the stables. "I thought about it, Aust. I will ride with you and help you, My Friend."
Aust remembered the day. He remembered the attack. The one thing they had not counted on was the divine intervention of Brigain. "Very well, we will ride to our town to catch a ship to the main land there." Aust hopped on his horse and rode out of the stables. The movement of his hand was so slight Xzax did not notice it.
As they left the monastery Aust pulled up beside Xzax. "Hey listen, Buddy, I just wanted to let you know that I never really liked you." Aust lied to Xzax. "And this is just for you being a doppelganger." With that Aust thrust his punching dagger into the neck of the body beside him. Aust also said a prayer to Xoriah as he swung to make his aim true. There was no doubt about it, Aust had hit the spot he wanted to and killed the creature instantly. It fell from the horse in a heap on the ground and reverted to its natural shape. It was the disgusting grey color of rotted flesh. Aust quickly burned the body and set the horse free.
He kicked his horse to ride as hard as possible across the island. Along the way every time the horse would start to falter and grow weary, Aust would say a prayer to Xoriah for the horse to survive and deliver him to Gridolin. Each time the prayer was complete, the horse would whinny and start out again as fast as it had at the beginning of the journey.
Aust could see Prat's castle looming ahead of him in about five marks. The day was almost half over and he needed a ship now. He went straight to the docks, where he found many Rakoran Navy vessels in port and loading for war. He knew where they were heading. By now the Nabrolian Navy was east of the Island and unloading troops on the mainland of Rakore. They were enroute to destroy them. Aust needed a friendly face. He saw ten snake class vessels in the waters, but the Rattler was not among them. It was in dry dock for repairs.
"I need this ammo loaded on the Viper now!" came Prat's voice from the docks.
Aust approached him. The huge man looked almost like a bear even in human from. He was glad to see Aust, he thought it meant the party might be willing and able to help with the war effort. There was no reason to hide it now. Rakore was at full war and in trouble. It needed all the help it could get.
"Aust, please tell me you are here to start loading the Rattler for war?" Prat said as he grabbed Aust's small hand in his huge one.
"I am sorry, Prat, but Xzax and I are the only ones that will be leaving your island for now. And I have more bad news for you. I need a fast ship. I need it now, and if I don't get one all of Rakore may perish."
"Those are dire words, Aust. You better be able to explain them fast."
"Right now as we speak, the Stonehelms are about to fall and the Ograns will move so far into Rakore that in five days Rakore will only exist in a few isolated spots surrounded by Ograns. Kashin will hold, for now. Mt. Basilisk will hold. Lok Magius will hold. Other then those, there will be almost nothing left of the nation. Our only hope of survival is to mount a resistance movement under the nose of the Ogran leaders. Fortunately, I know Saranella is planning just such a movement. Only problem is she can not do it with the men she has now. I must go to The Lost City of Xoriah and inform the Faithful there that the time has come for them to come to this time to fight with their Chosen."
"I don't know, Aust, I have orders to send my entire Navy to eliminate the Nabrolians."
"You and I both know that half of your Navy could destroy what they have twice over, Prat. All I ask is one fast ship. I only have to go to Wuron S'fa. After that I will let the ship return to the fight."
"Well why didn’t you say that was where you were heading, Aust. I can teleport you there."
With those words Prat began to chant his slaughter of the Arcane tongue that only a were bear could manage to make sound like the rumble of thunder. Aust was suddenly feeling very dizzy and nauseous. Just as he was about to throw up, Prat went fuzzy before his eyes and then disappeared. Suddenly Aust was standing in front of a very large troll who looked surprised to have found an elf in front of him. Before the troll could recover and try to kill Aust, he called to it in Draconic.
With a noise like rocks falling down a hillside, Aust said, "Draco namus Aust. Drac kome vitaliss Bludanskitanileth." My name is Aust. I come to see Lady Blud.
The troll hissed and motioned for Aust to follow him. Aust did as he was told. They went to a small building that appeared as if it could not house a gnome family comfortably. Aust was left in front of the door as the troll walked in. In a few short moments, the troll left and a beautiful elf of a few years more than Aust stepped out and told him that he may enter. As he did the building opened up on the inside to be quite a bit larger then it was on the outside.
"My Lady, I have a slight favor to ask of you."
"Aust, My Child, you know that all of us here are grateful to you for the help you and your friends gave us during the War of The Princess Sword. And for watching over Xzax for us, as well. What can I do for you?"
"Well first of all, I believe Xzax is heading here to try to find Al Mudim on his own and then destroy it. He told me that if it was his grandfather's will he would survive, but if not then he would join him in death. Second, I need a guide that knows this area very well and can help me get to a spot I have never been, but know very well. I can show you on any map where it is."
"As for Xzax, he will be handled either by me or by my Father. As for the guide, the only one we have here now that might be able to help you is Kerith."
"I would like to see him again very much, My Lady. I am sure he will be willing to help me."
"Before I send for him you must tell me where you are going."
"The Lost City of Xoriah. It is a half a day's walk from here."
"That is impossible. I have been all over these forests and it is not there."
"It can only be called to this time by one of the faithful, My Lady. It is the capital of Elementis."
"I never suspected that it would be that city, but it does explain why ruins of the Capital were never found."
"One other thing, My Lady. I am looking to form a new alliance among the Churches of those who believe the Inquisition should end now. Would your father be willing to join with Xoriah in this?"
"My father hated the Inquisition from the day it was formed. I am quite certain we could reach an agreement with Xoriah to offer what aid we can if she would be willing to assist us in forming the Dragon Nation."
"I was thinking that once the Lost City has been called that we could reestablish Elementis in its former location northwest of Wuron S'fa. The land that Wuron S'fa now occupies once belonged to Elementis, but I am sure we will not contest your claim to it if you would recognize the new Elementis as a nation. And if you do not recognize us then we will be forced to move away and try to set up our nation elsewhere. But that would take away a buffer against your enemies. And if we stay, a new war could occur with the Toomar Tribes"
"You make a good point, Aust. A buffer could be useful. And as for war, I see it coming again soon whether here or elsewhere. Let's go talk to Sthis and I will have Kerith meet us there."
They walked out of the hut, and headed deeper in to the swamps. Kerith caught up to them before they had gotten to far. He walked along in silence for a moment after greeting Aust.
"So what is it that you need of me, Aust?"
"I need a guide that is familiar with the area. There is a place I would like to visit."
"Where is it?"
"I will show you on the map in Sthis' hut."
They walked the rest of the way in silence. Sthis' hut looked like Lady Blud's from the outside. As they entered the hut, it was only slightly bigger then it should have been. Sthis was in it going over some papers.
"And to what do I owe the pleasure of a visit from you three?" Sthis asked.
"Aust here has a proposal for us," Lady Blud responded.
Aust laid out his plan to reestablish Elementis on the northwestern border of Wuron S'fa. He also pointed on the map where it was he wanted to go.
"I have been there many times, Aust. There is no city there. No ruins of a city. Nothing except forest," Kerith said.
"You forget the prophecy, Kerith," came the reply from Lady Blud. "Until the time of greatest need for the Church, shall one city remain hidden. One of the faithful may find her in the place she always was. Another of the faithful shall call the most faithful city to the Flames."
They all looked at her and knew she spoke the truth. There was no doubt as to the validity of the statement she made. It must be a true prophecy.
"Very well, I shall take you there."
"Aust, when you return, if you call the Lost City, then I will immediately recognize Elementis as a nation with an open border with Wuron S'fa," Sthis said.
"Thank you. My next step is to mount an Army from the city to go and aid Rakore."
"We shall see if we can assist with this also, but we are already sending some of our men to Lok Sadic."
Aust took his leave from the hut and went with Kerith to a hut not to far away where Aust would sleep tonight. It was only six marks until midnight.
Aust did not sleep well that night. All he could think of was Saranella and prey that she still lived when he arrived.
* * *
The next morning, Kerith was waiting outside Aust's hut.
"Ready to start our adventure?"
"Of course I am, Kerith," Aust said as he checked his armor and ensured that the Phoenix could be seen on it from a mile away. They set off in the direction of the Toomar Tribes to the north. On the way they were watched closely by the trolls that guard the swamps. As they left the swamp and entered the forests, Aust knew exactly which way to go. They walked in silence except for the occasional remark about the wildlife in the area.
Soon Aust stopped. "This is as far as I can let you go right now, Kerith. Until I have called the City to this time, it can not be seen by anyone. And I can not let you observe the sacred ritual that must be performed."
"Very well, I shall set up camp here and await your return. Fair well, My Friend."
"Thank you for the help."
With a quick shake of hands, Aust turned and walked away. After walking about a mile alone, Aust stopped.
If Saranella were right about the location, and he knew she was, this is where he must perform the ritual. Aust took his armor off and laid it on the ground with the phoenix facing the sky. He began to draw around the armor a circle similiar to the one used for summoning. He knelt in the circle facing where he knew the City would be.
“Great Lady of Flames, I, as your obedient servant summon your City through the ages to me now. Your Chosen needs the aid of your City to help her save your church from annihilation once again.”
Aust then sat there and waited with his eyes closed and his hands clasped. After one and a half marks, he heard the noise of a city in front of him. He looked up and felt the power of Xoriah course through his veins. He felt the fire enter his blood. He felt himself become part of The Fire. He knew what it was as soon as he felt it. Xoriah had blessed him and allowed him to become one of her Torches.
When he got to his feet, Aust put on his armor and walked into the city heading straight to the Temple of Flames. As he walked through the streets, he got curious looks from the people. All of them recognized what the armor meant. They all knew he was now a Torch. They also knew that he was not from the City. As he got close to the center square, a man dressed in clerical robes walked up to him.
"Can I help you, My Son?" he asked.
"I am Brother Aust Nailo, Knight of the Flames, Torch of Xoriah. I am here to summon the City to my time and to request that you serve Xoriah’s new Chosen and aid her in defending the Faith.," Aust stated in a voice that would carry across the square and into the Temple.
The man just looked at Aust. Than he said, "My name is Ragor and I am the mayor here in the City. I knew the day would come when we would be summoned to a new world. Come you must tell me what has changed."
Aust accompanied Ragor to the Temple where they sat down with other city officials to discuss events since the Storm Wars. They knew there would be a new Chosen in the world. They did not have a substantial Army. They had about one thousand men trained in covert operations and guerilla warfare. They did not have a large Navy, either. They had enough ships on the river nearby to transport their army to anywhere in the world.
As they prepared for a long journey, Aust left the City to go get Kerith.
"I have called it, Kerith. Go to Wuron S'fa and let Sthis know that we will be sailing into the harbor there tomorrow."
"I will. And when do you sail out again?"
"We will sail out as soon as possible and the mayor shall remain there to discuss the Alliance with her. He has the blessings of me, Saranella and Xoriah to enter into any fair treaty with Wuron S'fa."
"Very well, I shall see you tomorrow then."
Aust returned to the City, where he was given a great room within the Temple. He was told that this room belonged to the last of the Disciples of Xoriah to die. It was extravagantly furnished and the bed was possibly the first real bed Aust had slept on in many, many years.
* * *
The next morn found Aust praying at sunrise. He left his room and went to the main hall of the Temple. The city officials were up and about and preparing to leave. Ragor came to him and asked if he was ready to depart.
"I have been ready for this day for a very long time, Ragor."
They left the Temple and went to the docks on the river. There sat several light galleons. The fleet was not much but it did belong to the Church and was at Her disposal. Aust was told that the nearest ship would be his flagship, The Burner. As he stepped on board he was met by the Captain of the ship.
"My name is Lilithain. I have been the Captain of this ship for the last five years."
"Well, Captain, I will not take away your command. You still command your ship as you see fit, I will only tell you where we must go." With that Aust turned and made the token offering to Olorin.
"Let us be underway," Lilithain called. As one, every ship moved towards the east and was soon on the seas.
Within half a mark the ships were already pulling up near the port of Wuron S'fa. Only The Burner entered the harbor and docked. Aust got off first and greeted Sthis and Lady Blud. He introduced Ragor to them and told them the same thing he had told Kerith.
At that moment Kerith walked up with his pack on his back.
"Where are you going?" Aust asked him.
"With you. I want to help save Rakore."
"We can use all the help we can get."
Aust and Kerith boarded the ship. After the offering was made, they set sail again. Aust went to Lilithain.
"How long will it take to get there?"
"These ships were designed for speed. They can make three hundred and fifty miles a day."
"It will take us about twenty-one days to get there. I just hope we are not to late."
The sailing was uneventful. There were no other Navies involved in the war and the ones that were involved were to the west of Rakore. They were able to dock at Teras with no problems. Teras had not fallen, yet. Aust went straight to the government buildings there. They were in chaos. Finally after searching the building himself, Aust was able to find the Duke that ran the city.
"I am looking for Saranella, the Chosen of Xoriah."
"She is not here right now. She took a raiding party toward Kashin two weeks ago and we have not heard from her yet."
"When is she expected back?"
"Any day now. If you wish you can go there your self."
"Very well, I shall."
Aust returned to his flagship and called all the ship captains to him. They all met in the stateroom of The Burner.
"We must sail up river to Kashin. We can expect to be attacked from land while we are on the river. We must get to Kashin so we can establish contact with Saranella."
They discussed plans for making it up river with as little damage as possible. The light galleons were fitted with planks of wood that could be raised to block the main deck from arrows. As for burning arrows, they did not worry to much with Aust on board The Burner. All plans finalized, they set sail to Kashin.
The trip was going to take two to three days to complete. On their first day they saw a group of Rakoran Raiders. They were being chased by Ogran forces. Aust gave the order to attack the Ograns. The Burner came along side the Ograns and fired both ballistas at them. At the same time, every marine archer on board fired. Aust also prayed to Xoriah for her wrath to strike out and hit the Ograns with fire and vengeance. In a few short seconds, every Ogran lay dead and the Raiders had pulled in rein.
A strong female voice came from the shore, "Thank you, good sirs. I owe you for saving my party and I." Aust knew the voice as soon as she started talking.
"On the contrary, Sara, that just moves us closer to being even after you saved me and showed me the ways of The Flame Goddess."
"Aust, is that you? I feared you had been killed!"
"Pull ashore, Lilithain."
"Aye, aye, Sir."
As The Burner pulled close enough to shore for Aust to disembark, Saranella rode her horse close to the side of the ship.
"Aust, where did you get this Navy from?"
Aust brought Saranella on board and took her to his stateroom. There he told her everything that had happened to him since he sent her the letter.
"Oh my, Aust you have called the Lost City. It was right were I knew it would be. We must hurry and move everything I have saved in the Temple in Kashin to the Temple in Elementis before Kashin is overrun."
"We can take the Navy there and load the ships with everything. Then they can set sail while we stay and you head the resistance."
"There is no we staying, Aust. You have a date with destiny once these ships are loaded. The Burner will not be loaded and it will take you to the Hall of Mirrors. This was told to me by Xoriah, Herself. If you return from the Hall, you shall become the first of the new Disciples. That is your fate right now."
"As the Chosen commands, I must obey."
"Lets get going."
They loaded the rest of Saranella's Raiders on board and headed up river toward Kashin. Over the next two days, they encountered a few groups of ogran scum that never had anyone left alive to tell of their advance.
Upon arriving at the docks in Kashin, they immediately went to the Temple. It took them only a few marks to load everything into crates and move it to the ships.
After the ships were loaded, Saranella went back to the Temple. Aust and Lilithain were watching as the last of the crates was loaded onto the ships. They heard the warning siren of an attack on Kashin. Aust gave the order to shove off and ran to the Temple to get Saranella. As he approached the Temple he saw an ogran enter it. He drew his bastard sword and went after the foul creature.
Inside he could see that Saranella was fighting off four of the enemy. There were dead bodies around her. He could tell she had made every prayer she had. He started to pray for her. Fire erupted around one of the ograns. Aust struck another one in the back as hard as he could and it fell to the floor in pain and shrieking. As he turned to face another one he saw out of the corner of his eye that Saranella was struck on the head. He swung and missed the next ogran. Fire erupted around Aust as he prayed for Xoriah's fury to enter him and travel through him. As he finished this fervent prayer, one of the two ograns left grabbed him in a bear hug.
Aust grabbed his hands with one of his own to hold him there no matter what. With his bastard sword, Aust blocked and parried attacks from the other ogran. Soon the one holding him started to cry in pain as his skin began to catch fire. As soon as he was totally engulfed and was dying, Aust let him go. He fell to the ground like sack of corn. Aust retreated from the ogran left and got to where the body of his dying, screaming comrade was between them. As the ogran advanced, Aust took control of the fire on the dying one on the floor and raised it to the clothing of the one advancing on him. Now distracted by the fire on his own clothing, the ogran did not see Aust advance and run his blade in to its ribcage. He died instantly when his heart and lungs were punctured. Aust stabbed the ogran on the ground for good measure and then sheathed his sword.
He went to Saranella and picked her up. He made a run for the stables where he found two horses still there. He saddled them quickly and rode to the edge of town. There the ograns had fires burning the siege walls of the city. Aust used the fire as cover to get out of the city with Saranella. As he rode hard along the river, he noticed that The Burner was only a short distance ahead of him. He yelled to Lilithain to pull ashore. She heard him and obeyed.
As Aust was riding to the side of the ship, he felt enormous pain in his back. He reached back to feel an arrow sticking out of his back. He knew it was a fatal shot. He knew Xoriah would grant only one more prayer to him today. he helped as much as he could to get himself and Saranella on The Burner.
He looked at Lilithain and said, "Tell Sara I loved her."
With that he began to pray. As he finished his prayer with blood dripping from his chin due to the lung shot the arrow had scored, he collapsed on the deck.
Saranella awoke immediately to see Aust dying at her feet. She removed the arrow from him and told Lilithain to get a cleric, now. Lilithain passed on Aust’s final words and told Saranella that they had no clerics besides Aust with them.
"I love you, too, you crazy elf. You can not die on me! Remember, 'As the Chosen commands, I must obey.' Well do it, Aust! LIVE! I command it! As your Chosen I command you to live! As the woman in love with you, I command it!" Tears streamed down her face as she yelled at him. He lay limp in her arms with no movement save the very slow and irregular rise and fall of his chest.
At that moment the world stopped for Saranella. No one else was moving. They were frozen like ice. A woman came walking along the deck to Saranella. Her hair was fiery red in one long braid that reached the ground. Her eyes were the same color as her hair.
Saranella recognized her at once. Still crying she bowed her head and asked, "Why must he die, My Lady? He was a true and faithful servant of yours. You can save him!"
"Yes, Saranella, I can save him. I shall save him. He has been chosen for more then service to me. He will be more then anyone can imagine one day. When he awakens, tell him I said to go to the Church of Lul and there research Lul’s ascension to godhood. He will find interesting things there. Things that will help him in the future.”
With that she was gone and the world began to move again. Saranella noticed that Aust was breathing steady. He was not bleeding anymore. and he awoke in her arms. Without thinking she bent down and kissed him on the lips.
It was the best way Aust could think of to wake up from anything.
Editor's Note: The nation of Elementis existed over five millennia ago, during the Shaping Wars (also known as the Artifact Wars); it's capital was assumed destroyed by the end of the Shaping Wars. The elemental gods were all killed off during the Storm Wars, nearly five centuries ago -- all save Xoriah. For close to four millennia after the destruction of Elementis, the elemental gods were in disfavor, until a young druid named Avard Karatika helped restore them to glory. At its height, the 'lost city' of Xoriah was actually an outpost of the Karatikan Alliance. During its peak, just before the Storm Wars, the Karatikan Alliance saw the rise of the most powerful mages the world had ever seen. Just before the city was to have been captured by the Dark God's minions, the city probably was swept forward into the time stream, due to the temporal anomalies of the Oddity and the Shield. The ships of the 'lost city' (whose actual name was Dhenalazan) were probably powered by magic -- and had escaped the awful years of the anti-magic Inquisition. It makes one wonder what else was brought forward in time by the Lost City...