In the old language it meant protector. Provider. Caretaker. It was even sometimes used to describe Doranfather, and was a high sign of respect. This name had inspired Ironpaw’s entire life and cause, pushing him to become the king’s bodyguard and guardian.
It also meant fire. Flames, heat, burning passionate fire. The kind of fire that would run rampant in a wild forest if you let it, the kind that could consume you in seconds. The kind that raged in Santena Ironpaw’s heart as his paws pounded the snow right now. The kind that made a warrior, a fighter.
These two words (protector and fire) were carved deep into the hilt of the wolf’s broadsword. These two words were his identity. These two words were the sounds that echoed in his mind as he ran. Ran to save his king. Ran to save his brother. Ran to save the FoxWolf that he had protected for two years.
Ran to save his apprentice. Ran to save his Lord’s chosens, ran to save the fox he’d brought up for two years.
Ithiniel’s parents were worried. Santena and Gethnoel both looked at the young white fox and nodded to each other, both having the same thoughts sent them from Doran. Santena spoke them outloud. “Mr. and Mrs. Fex, your son is the FireXenot. Do you know what that is? He must come with us. You must have noticed something different?” he implored.
“No! Whenever a creature gets mixed up with you lot, he becomes all religious and wacked in the head!” the father protested. “He’s a normal teenage creature of West Region . . .”
“I hate to interrupt, but you’re flat-out wrong on that one,” Santena continued. “Gethnoel has already blessed your son’s gift, and given him the Amulet.” He pointed at a flashing silver item on Ithiniel’s neck. “So has Doranfather.”
Ithiniel’s mother panicked and dashed to her son, fumbling with the flame symbol and chain. “Take it off, son, take it off! It’s cursed by the gods, it’s . . .” she sobbed. Ithiniel shook his head and stepped back.
“No, it’s blessed by Doran. The king has been teaching me. There are no ‘gods’. Calm down, father, let Master Ironpaw explain,” the fox said calmly. His father hesitated, then finally nodded shakily.
“Your son is destined -- destined, mind you -- to be the greatest warrior in Clandoran. He is to become my advisor, body guard, and is to protect our kingdom from evil. He was chosen by Doran. He felt the call himself, and so did I and the king. We were led here. He wields the power of fire, already given him by the Almighty King, meant to help him. Show them, Ithiniel,” Santena added. Gethnoel stayed Ithiniel’s rising paw.
“Only a little bit. It is for dire circumstances and good causes.” The white fox nodded and gripped his pendant, the “Amulet”. The necklace had been blessed by Doran, as well, and was an accelerant for His power. Quietly, he raised his paw.
“Ithiniel, Doran’s xenot,” he whispered, and his sword ignited in a red flame. He focused, and the fire got hotter, turning blue. Finally, it swirled, turned white, and made a cross resembling the shape of the Clandonian landmass. His mother gasped and backed away. His father just looked confused. The fire vanished suddenly. Santena nodded in admiration.
“Get away! Take him away, take that cursed child from me!” Ithiniel’s mother screeched. The young fox gaped and stepped back like he’d been hit. “Get him away! Witch child! The universe rejects you!” Gethnoel shielded the other two, and for good reason, for the parents had suddenly drawn curved swords.
In one fell swoop, they had revealed their reasoning: Old Clandon had poisoned their minds. “Free Clandon!” the father yelled, and brought his sword down towards his son, his eyes turned black. The fourteen-year-old creature cried out in terror, but Santena’s own broadsword clashed into the older fox’s and threw it back. Ithiniel’s mother swung her weapon towards Gethnoel next, but the king’s mouth errupted into a frenzy of words -- “Et Doran’s uipta, luthen, pta cranathi!” -- and both foxes gasped, falling to the ground in two heaps. Black smoke rose from their bodies.
In shock, Ithiniel didn’t move. “Are they . . .?” he stammered. Gethnoel shook his head.
“Ithiniel, your parents were possessed by servants of the Shadow, Doran’s foe. You must stay away from them,” the FoxWolf said gently.
The young fox started breathing fast, to the point of hyperventilation. “Santena, quick, take him back to Karenian’s building site!” the king ordered, and the wolf scooped up his young charge. The general took off towards the east as rapidly as he possibly could.
Captain Santena Ironpaw knelt on one knee before King Gethnoel. “For your wonderful service and bravery in the face of Gulrag Northwind’s army and the recent ordeal with Kallenian Snapclaw, I appoint you my Crown General and personal bodyguard. General Santena Ironpaw, rise and take your sword,” the king commanded. He took a sword from the pillow offered him by a small mouse aide, and, before the other commanders and soldiers there to watch, placed it carefully in the captain’s back scabbard.
Santena stood proudly. Only one year into service with the new king, and he was already Crown General. “Thank you, Your Highness . . .” The wolf paused and turned his face towards the heavens. “And thank you, Doranfather!” he yelled at the top of his lungs. The crowd there applauded, and Santena followed his king off the stage towards the cluster of tents that surrounded the temple and palace building sites.
A few minutes later, sitting in his own tent, the new general took out his sword to examine it. It was a long, powerful blacksteel broadsword. Blacksteel was a very rare ore, and very expensive. The only exporters of the metal were the Mountainous Lands, and it was harder than diamond. It was imbedded in the pommel, as well, in the shape of a single flame. The flame had become the new symbol of Clandoran. It was repeated in Gethnoel’s crown, and in the silver and white gear that the White King and Santena now both wore.
The sword’s hilt was plain iron, as Santena had requested. He didn’t want any fancy trappings hindering him, or making him a target for robbery. Carved deep into the iron were two words, written in the old script: qinthi karetia. The first meant “consuming fire”, and the second “protector”. Both were definitions of Santena’s own name. “How did he know . . .?” the black wolf muttered. He’d never said anything of this to anybody.
These things were pushing Santena onwards. The moment he’d heard when the king and apprentice had left, the general thundered out the castle gates, not even considering his injury. Two minutes later, Jennter had sent a regiment of soldiers after him, but the black wolf was long gone.
Santena didn’t even think about the logic of his charging headlong into the full army of the Mountainous Lands. All he knew was that he’d seen all of the polar bears in the Mountainous Lands dressed in dark cloaks and swinging curved battleaxes, and that he had to stop them from reaching his king. Ahead, in the dark hills, he heard a roar, and knew that he was almost there. “No!” he heard, and assumed this was the king.
“Doran, give me strength!” he panted, and a huge force propelled him over the next two hills, where he stood, breathing hard, looking down on the scene before him.
Polar bears in silver armor, wearing dark cloaks, lined the entire opposite ridge. In the valley below, near Highlord Rock, three figures wearing white stood still against the pillar. No, four, and one was wearing black. Of course, it was a small country, and the Lands’ army only consisted of about fivescore creatures, but they were all gigantic and terrifying.
Suddenly, the wolf felt a huge surge of courage within him, and he drew his sword as he charged down into the valley at the same time as the polar bears.
This would have been suicide if the regiment from Karenian hadn’t made wonderful time, appearing a split second later. Santena didn’t notice this: he was too busy separating a bear’s axe paw from its arm. The creature roared in pain, exposing its neck, and Santena took advantage of this as well. The wolf roared right back. His sword was a flurry of destruction, an extension of his arm.
The other creatures did not fare as well. Cries of terror erupted all over the battlefield as the polar bears destroyed the ranks of the castle regiment. In the center of the valley, Ithiniel and Gethnoel were wreaking havoc, but they couldn’t keep it up for long. It exhausted them. Santena forced his way through the carnage towards them. “Ithiniel! Ithiniel!” he screamed, thrusting his sword into the visor of a nearby bear’s helmet.
The apprentice warrior fought his way towards his master. “What is it?!” he shouted.
“Take the king and get back to the city!” the wolf ordered, parrying a battleaxe strike as his apprentice sheared straight through it.
“No! What about you?!”
“Forget me! Get Gethnoel, and that prisoner of yours, and get your damned tail back to Karenian! It’s no use if you’re both dead! Your power can’t last forever! Now, get going! NOW!!!” The young fox hesitated, then leapt onto and off of a bear’s back, landing beside Gethnoel.
The pair grabbed the prisoner and fought to the edge of the battle, then broke away from the fighting. Ithiniel paused on the top of the hill.
Santena was fighting for his life against four polar bears. He sliced across the haft of the first axe, then parried a sword’s lunge. In a final, desperate act, he gave a tremendous cry of, “The White King!” and dove, sword outstretched, into the center of the group, slashing left and right and taking two more with him, before a burning sensation and darkness overtook him.
Ithiniel caught his breath as he saw his master’s broke body thrown across the battlefield.
Frozen once more with shock, the fox watched as he lost yet another father, crying out in pain. Fury filled his eyes. “Nooooooo!!!” he screamed, snatching at his sword. Gethnoel grabbed the young fox, abandoning the prisoner, and ran off towards Karenian, dragging Ithiniel away from his second father.
Tears filled Gethnoel’s eyes.
Those same tears were reflected in Ithiniel’s eyes, seven times over.
I love fiction, fantasy, roleplaying, and reading. Nice to meet you too. All of my tales are little kid-friendly, except perhaps a few stories in the Rogue Captain universe. Those are more geared towards teens. Check with your parents, just in case.