Icefurr strode down a misty path.
Something strange had happened. One minute, his friends had been trying to keep him alive, pumping his chest and wrapping strips of cloth around his limbs, and the next he was here. The foxwolf’s keen eyesight couldn’t pick anything out except for a bright, soft moon and the path ahead of him.
Even so, everything seemed more beautiful under this light. Everything was quiet, and one or two white flowers were always glistening beside the path. The path itself wasn’t made of rock or earth, but rather silvery grass. Cool water flowed around Icefurr’s paws. The mist drifted along beside him, as if it were a river in its own right. It was still dark, though, and the military-trained soldier didn’t like it.
“I wonder . . .” Icefurr thought for a moment. Doran was always with his children, and one way (though Icefurr had never tried it) was through ancient words, like those that he spoke at the battlefield. Icefurr knew quite a few from his time among the rebels, that drew never-ending strength from Doranfather. If the right intentions were had, and they were spoken through one of royal blood, then something amazing could happen. “Ithiniel sen tiren doran . . .” he said quietly, somewhat unsure, then again, louder. “Ithiniel sen tiren doran!”
The foxwolf was temporarily blinded as a white light filled the air around him. It grew slowly, until it illuminated the path ahead, blending with the moonlight to create something even more wonderful. “Thank you, Doran,” he whispered, and continued down the path. His paw subconsciously reached for his sword and shield.
They stopped, touching nothing. Icefurr felt all over his tunic, and there wasn’t a hint of armor, or weapons of any kind. No signs of battle, not even the wounds that had almost . . . killed him. “I’m dead?” The foxwolf almost fell.
“Yes, you are,” a voice said. The Rogue Captain spun, creating ripples in the water.
A strange creature stood before him. It was as tall as a wolf, but had glowing wings that stretched out behind it, giving off a soft light of their own. Its features were undefined in the mist. “Who are you?” Icefurr inquired warily.
“I am who I will be.”
That didn’t make any sense. “Do you have a name?” the foxwolf asked, now curious.
“Will you tell me?”
“Why tell you when you already know it?”
Icefurr moved closer. The closer he came, the bigger this creature seemed, yet grew no larger. “I do not believe that we have met,” he answered.
“You believe that you have met me, but never will until you learn to depend on me, and me alone,” the creature said. Another set of wings blossomed from its back. “Yet you have called me Father.”
Icefurr’s jaw dropped. “Doran?” He stumbled back, then fell to the ground, bowing his head.
A soft paw lifted his face. “Gethnoel Swiftblade, I have loved you since the day you were born. I created you. I’ve adored you through all of the things that you have ever done, even under the command of the warlord Gulrag,” Doran said, smiling. That much Icefurr could see.
“Yes. Your true name.” Doran stood, bringing Icefurr up. “Your mother named you. I named you, through her. She is waiting to see you. She always has been.”
“Can I see her?”
“You’ll have to wait a little longer, son.” Somecreature else strode out of the mist. He looked almost exactly like Icefurr, but with green eyes and silvery fur. “Do you know me? My name is Mc’Kenthon!” He laughed, and hugged Icefurr . . . Gethnoel tightly.
“Father? Father!” Gethnoel hugged Mc’Kenthon back. “Father!” Tears streamed down his face unchecked. He pulled back. “Why can I not see Mother?”
“It is not time yet.” Doran’s shape became suddenly clear. His head was covered by a huge shaggy mane, and golden fur covered his body. Gethnoel could tell, though, that it was just a shape, not his Father’s true form. “I know somebeast else that you would like to see, though!” With that, Doran laughed such a joyful laugh that Gethnoel and Mc’Kenthon couldn’t help joining in. It rung all around them, surrounding them with mirth.
Another voice joined in, a hearty one full of wonderful amazement. “Captain!” Leo Gundar came through the mist. “Shantali!” Gethnoel ran to him and embraced him.
“Shantali!” he replied, echoing the old greeting. “Leo, how . . . when did you . . . Doran?” The prince turned to his creator.
“He came to me on the day that he died, on his way to find you. A sick rebel had come to him two days before, bleeding and on the doorstep of Afterlife, and begging for help. Leo took him in and bandaged his wounds. As he did so, My servant told him of everything: who you were, who I was, and many other things. Immediately, Leo pledged his allegiance to Clandoran and I. He is newly made, in Me!” Doran laughed again.
Gethnoel looked around. “Am I to stay here?” he asked.
“Yes, someday, but now is not your time,” Leo answered him. “You are needed for other purposes, in new Clandoran!”
Doran placed a paw on Gethnoel’s shoulder. “But first, you must learn something.”
“It will be difficult, but you must be taught to know Me. Go back the way you came, My son.” Gethnoel turned to ask a question, but his father, Doranfather, and Leo were nowhere in the mist.
Back at the battlefield, Jennter and two other fighters -- Keefe and Ryder -- were carrying Captain Icefurr’s broken body back to the rebel encampment. Tears dripped down the fox’s, wolf’s, and hare’s face.
Suddenly, Icefurr’s mouth opened, and a strangled gasp came out. His eyes shot open. “He’s alive!” Keefe cried, but Ryder stopped him with another exclamation.
“No! Something’s not right!” Indeed, Icefurr’s eyes were still cloudy, and the pupils were black!
Gethnoel looked around. The light was gone, and a wave of darkness was coming towards him. “What . . .?” he whispered. There was only one opening in the fog, and that was the pathway. The foxwolf ran towards it, but the darkness rushed towards him. He sped up. “Aargh!” he screamed. When it touched him, it felt like fire burning his flesh and fur. “Get back! Father! Leo!”
He stumbled away, tripped in the shallows of the water and landing muzzle first in the grass. “Father . . .” he whispered again. The darkness closed in . . .
On the battlefield, Icefurr’s body twisted, and he let out a strained scream. “What’s happening?” Jennter asked frantically. “Get a physician!”
The prince’s eyes suddenly shut, and his breathing calmed.
Gethnoel suddenly had a moment of quiet thought, even as the fire spread over his body. Only one voice could ever command this to leave, and it was the one that he almost always ignored. Only one person could ever drive out darkness, inside and out.
Only, forever, and always one. “Doran! Doranfather!” The call erupted from the Rogue Captain’s mouth. “I love you! Help me! I believe!”
Light flashed around the foxwolf, pushing back against the force of shadows, and swirling around and around him. Finally, it drove the darkness away. White light filled the air.
All at once, Gethnoel felt something enter his soul, like a breath of cool wind, or a never stopping flow of water. “Doran!” he breathed.
My Spirit shall forevermore abide in you, Gethnoel, my servant and son.
Icefurr’s eyes opened. This time, they were silver, and clear as crystal. Jennter watched in wonder as sparks of white light erupted around his captain, and every single wound on the foxwolf closed. When they vanished, Icefurr was standing before his soldiers, smiling.
“Icefurr?” Keefe ventured.
“No longer am I Icefurr, Keefe. I am Gethnoel Swiftblade, King of Clandoran and forever servant of Doranfather.”
Something about him made Jennter want to bow. And he did.
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.