Chapter 1:

So It Starts…


Neku woke suddenly, her sheetssoaked in her sweat. The crisp morning air rushed into her room to greet her,but she was too disturbed to think about the day ahead. Sitting up, she had toshield her eyes from the sun’s gleaming light. “Damn! My head hurts!” shewhispered. She just wished she could remember what scared her to cause her towake so suddenly. Usually she slept like a baby until one of her sisters had towake her. Well, only a good headache remedy would be able to make her thinkmore clearly.

                Throwingher covers off, Neku got up out of bed. She walked up to her oak desk and satdown. She brushed out her short thick black hair, then opened one of thedrawers. She knew she was not the most organized elf around, but she loved herroom. Rustling through the drawer, she soon found her flute. The flute, madewith aspen, was hand crafted by her great grand mother, who also had a talentin playing. Its beautifully crafted design held the crest of the Shrd family,and had been passed down through the generations.

                Asshe closed the drawer, one of her sisters bursts into the room. “Neku! Whyaren’t you dressed yet! You are to accompany us to Woodland Stock!Remember!?  To begin your magic combatschooling, if you have forgotten! And I, for one, don’t want to be late! Thisis my second year. I’m to get my Ankár this year! So hurry!” Neku never got achance to reply before her sister shut the door and left.

WoodlandStock was an elven school for young elves whose families felt were ready tolearn about magic and forest combat, as well as climate safety. When an elf isready to attend Woodland Stock, it also meant that he or she was ready toreceive their Ankár, an animal companion who is much more than an elf’sguardian, but also their eyes and ears.

Nekubegan throwing clothes everywhere, trying to find a suitable outfit. She tossedfur tank tops, leather shorts, and other such outfits. “Oh, what to wear?” shesaid to herself as she threw a silk skirt that was given to her by her fashionplate older sister, Korlynn. Neku did not like shirts or dresses, the whole‘girly’ image sent shivers down her spine and Korlynn always tried to tell Nekuwhat was in fashion and what was not, by giving her clothing that she laterjust throws out.

Shefinally finds a suitable outfit; a green short sleeved cotton shirt that shehandmade herself and a pair of elk hide pants, that she also put together. Theshirt had blue trimmings around the neck and arm area. For the pants, it hadtooken her three days to get the hide to the softness that she was comfortablewith before she start even forming it into a pair of pants. Actually, it wasenough to make several pairs of clothing, which she did. To add to the outfit,Neku grabs her favorite blue belt and head band and puts them on. She was,indeed, impressed with herself, but the only thing missing was what to takewith her. She already had her flute, ‘but what else?’ she wondered.

Shelooked around her room, not really seeing it, but to determine if there wasanything she needed. There was her bow in the corner that was just gatheringdust. Out of all the elven weapons, the bow was her weapon of choice, she didnot know why, there was just something about the feel of pulling the stringback and releasing, watching the arrow hit its mark. She loved it! She pickedup the bow from the corner and quickly dusts it off. She had her bow and arrayof arrows, which she strapped to her back. She looks around the room again.Nothing else she could think of, except her bag, which she had her flute in aswell as a picture of her and her family, a comb, and other stuff that she couldnot recall at the moment. Everything else she that she might need could berequired either in the forest or in her part of sub-space.

Elves, atbirth, are given a personal block of sub-space so that when they travel they donot need to hull so much with them. It was quick useful for warriors,explorers, and any other elf that may be on long trips and may not be aroundcivilization for a while. Because most things can be found in the forest, mostelves usually only use sub-space to hold any extra set of clothing, weapons ormoney.

Neku wentto the mirror once more to make sure that everything is in order and she didnot look goofy, or Korlynn would make fun of her. Satisfied, she slipped on apair of brown leather hiking boots and left her room to join her older sistersin the dining room.




Kelsa andKorlynn sat at the dining table. Both girls chewed on a piece of dried peach.Their mother, Taragras, stood over the wood stove stirring a pan of stew forthe girls when they come home later. “Now Korlynn, I know I have told you manytimes, but I’m going to say it again. When you quest for your Ankár, you don’tgo looking for him or her, they choose you,” Kelsa explained. “I had to spendtwo weeks on my quest before I was chosen. Right, Inferno?” She asked herAnkár, a red falcon.

RightKelsa. In fact, I had been watching her for most of her journey, before flyingdown from a nearby branch and introducing myself. I am sure an Ankár with muchdignity and love would choose you. Infernosaid using just mere thought, from his perch in a nearby window.

“Hasanyone seen Neku? She usually isn’t this late for breakfast,” Taragras said,wiping her hands on her apron after placing some carrots in the stew. The twosisters looked at each other.

“I toldNe…” Korlynn started, but was interrupted when Neku burst into the room.

“MorningMother!” Neku said coming into the room and kissing her mother on the cheek.

“Goodmorning, dear,” Taragras replied returning the gesture. “Are you excited aboutyour first year of Woodland Stock?”

“Ofcourse I am. Elves chosen to attend Woodland Stock are honored among the elfincommunity,” Neku said, taking her seat next to her sisters. She placed her hairbehind her pointed ears so that it would not fall into her eyes. 

As shereached for a dry peach strip, Kelsa placed her hand over Neku’s. “Are you sureyou understand the rules and regulations of Woodland Stock? I wouldn’t want mybaby sister to be in trouble on her first day.” Neku really did not need this.She just wished that her oldest sister did not take her ‘oldest’ sister role soseriously.

With aheavy sigh, she replied. “Yes, I studied the rules and regulations. But I don’tunderstand the regulation that states…” She gets a small booklet out of one ofher pockets and turns to a page that she had marked. “’ No interacting withelves of other clans. For example, a woods elf can not interact with a desertelf.’ I don’t get it. What’s with that regulation? It sounds more likesegregation, then anything else. What were the people thinking when then wrotethis? ” Neku asked as she placed the book back into the pocket from which itcame.

“I wasconfused at first, my self, Neku, but I guess they have had problems with theclans before. As far as I know, they do not want it to spread to the school.However, elves, secretly, have made friends with elves from other clans. As amatter of fact, I have a friend that is a dark elf,” Kelsa explains. Neku wasonly able to understand a fraction of what Kelsa was saying.

“I toohave had problems when it came to that rule,” Korlynn said, running her fingersthrough her long blond hair. “But like Kelsa, I have made friends from otherclans. I have some friends from the swamp, desert, dark, and sky clans,”Korlynn added. “Its almost like they put that rule there in hopes that we woulddisobey it. I have never heard of anyone getting in trouble from being friendswith an elf from a clan other than their own.” Korlynn drifted off into her ownlittle world.

Nekushook her head in annoyance. That was just like her sister, Korlynn. She wouldalways drift off into deep thought after almost anything. Neku wondered if shereally was related to Korlynn or if her mother just felt sorry for some lostorphan. She really did not look like any of the other Shrd’s, but her motherreassured them that Korlynn was indeed her daughter and their sister. She triedagain to take a peach strip. Taking one, she bit into the dry crispy fruit.

Nekulooked over the table at her two older sisters. Kelsa, being the oldest, madesure that Korlynn and Neku did their chores and that they did not get intofights, which they often did. She was more of a mother to Neku and Korlynn thantheir own mother was. Being eighty-two, though appearing to be only twenty–one,Kelsa has acquired many skills; she could create anything by just drawing itand signing her name, a skill unique amongst elves. She was a very gracefuldancer as well.

Being twoyears younger than Kelsa, Korlynn often complained about the difficulties ofbeing the middle child. She loved to make herself look beautiful. Neku oftenreferred to her as the ‘fashion plate’ and wondered how Korlynn managed to getso much junk.

Neku letout a sigh. “Mother, why are you cooking up such a huge pot of stew? We aren’tgoing to be back until year’s end.” Neku knew that her mother was used tomaking large dinners for the four of them over the summers, and she guessedthat having her daughters go away for the year had slipped her mind, at leastNeku thought so. She watched as her mother’s arm came to a halt from stirring.

“Oh, Iforgot all about that. I’m sorry.” Taragras thought for a moment. “Maybe Icould invite some of the neighbors over to help me eat this.” Taragras turnedto face her daughters. “I’m going to miss you girls. It’s going to get awfullylonely around here with no one to help me with the chores or tend the gardens.”

Neku felta little guilty just leaving her mother alone here with hardly anyone to talkto. However, she knew that eventually she would have to leave her mother and goon with life, even if it is for only a time being.

She getsout of her chair and walks up to her mom. “I’m going to miss you, Mother!” Nekuthrew her arms around her mother and held her tightly.

Taragrasstrokes Neku’s black hair. “I’m going to miss you too, my Little Playful One.”She gently pushes Neku away. “I’m going to miss you all. May the light of thepast Shrds guide and watch over you, my daughters.” Tears began to form inTaragras’s eyes.

Oh, Ihate to break up this tearful moment, but its time that we head off. Don’t wantto be late to Woodland Stock, now would we?Inferno said, his red feathers glimmered in the sun. Using his beak, he groomedhis chest feathers.

“I agreewith Inferno. It is time that we depart. Neku?” Kelsa said. Neku nods.

Shelooked once more at the home that she was raised in, the home that she will notsee again for some time. Her eyes glanced at the scene before her. The windowon the far corner that Inferno was perched on, still remained slanted, itsframe in dire need of replacement from the years of elemental abuse. It hadbeen repaired twice, but seeming to have a mind of its own, kept slanting. Nekuwondered if it would ever behave itself and stay straight.

 She moved her eyes away from the window as sheviewed the room, in order to get a memorized picture of what she saw. Her eyescame upon the white shelves that still had the scent of fresh paint on themwhen she and her sisters painted the shelf doors. They got more paint onthemselves than on the shelves and had spent days trying to clean themselvesand everything else that was not supposed to have been painted. She recalledher mother’s face when she saw the scene; she never laughed so hard before.Neku was glad to see her mom smile one last time before she and her sistersleft. She knew that there were going to be many memories she was going to leavebehind.

Her eyesthen came to the picture of her father. Human raiders killed JaNár as theytried to take Neku and her sisters when they were just kids, fifty years ago.They planned to sell them into slavery, but JaNár had stood in the way asTaragras hid the girls in the basement of their cottage.

Neku couldstill hear the sound of metal clashing into metal as her father fought bravelyto protect them. Then, the terrifying sound of metal piercing through flesh.She had hoped that her father won, but in her heart, she knew that her fatherhad lost and lay dead on the floor. She and her sister had waited for theraiders to find them and pull them from their mother. When no sound could beheard, they slowly came out of their hiding place to find that all of theraiders laid dead. JaNár was lying in the blood of his last victim and that ofhis own. Neku knew that her father, though taking many injuries, would notallow anyone to take away his family. He had fought until every one of theraiders was dead and himself too weak to fight on…

Neku feltsomeone squeeze her shoulder. Turning her head, she looked into the emeraldeyes of her oldest sister. Kelsa grinned sadly and nodded her head as if she,too, was reliving the same memories.

“Come, mysister. We have a long journey ahead of us. The way to Woodland Stock is atraitorous one and there is still much that you need to learn.”

The threegirls turned to their mother. Smiling at them, she walked up to them. “Kelsa,Take care of your sisters like you always have been, and make sure little Nekuhas a good year,” Taragras told her oldest daughter as they were still in anembrace.

Lettinggo, she turned to Korlynn and hugged her. “Korlynn, be nice to Neku, its hardenough for her. I need you to be strong and I look forward to hear which greatanimal has chosen you.” Taragras let go of Korlynn and turned to her youngest.

“Neku, mylittle playful one. You have always been full of energy. I hope you have funyour first year and that you enjoy yourself.” Taragras let go of Neku who nowwas in the break of tears. “May the light of the Shrds of the past guide youall, my daughters.”

“I’mgoing to miss you Mommy,” Neku whimpered, still in tears. She could hear hersister, Korlynn, sigh, and mumble something about being a little mommy’s girl,but she chose to ignore it. She and her sisters left the cottage and startedtheir journey towards Woodland Stock.




Taragraswatched as her daughters left; there was so much that she was going to miss.She had gotten used to her two oldest girls leaving each year, but to have herlittle ‘Playful One’ leave to Woodland Stock was unbearable. Taragras knew thatit would happen eventually, she was just going to have to get used to it. Shestood by the window until the girls were out of view before shutting theblinds. Tears ran down the elven woman’s cheeks. “Good bye, my dear ones. Ihope this next year you come back with much knowledge,” she whispered.

Shewalked back to the stove to check on the stew, the inviting aroma tickling hernose. However, it did not cure the stream of tears that kept flowing down hercheeks. She had lost her husband, and she feared for the lives of her daughtersas well. “How can I live with myself if I were to lose them too?” she askedherself, the tears coming ever faster.

“My dear,dry your tears, there is no need to cry, nothing is going to happen to yourchildren, I promise you that,” said a voice from behind Taragras.

Lightsurrounded the elfin woman. She turned around and shielded her eyes from theblinding light, trying to make out who had just spoken. ‘Oh Terra, Goddess ofEarth, please let it be you,’ she prayed to herself. Soon the light became ahorrible darkness; Taragras gasped in fright knowing that it was a dark powerthat was calling to her, not her beloved goddess. ‘Why? Why has ‘She’ come?’ sheasked herself, knowing who it was. She knew that if the Queen of Evil andDeception was here, then something horrific was going to happen.

She foundherself back in her cottage, but now a woman dressed in red and black stood infront of her. The woman’s black hair was up in a ponytail. She had a cat-likeappearance to her. “My, is that how you welcome a guest, Taragras? I would havethought an elf would have more manners, but I guess what I have heard from mydear sister was all wrong,” the Queen of Evil and Deception shrugged.

“Sister?You mean Terra, right? What would she have to say to slime like you, Sinality?”Taragras asked in rage. She knew she should be more afraid of someone with asmuch power as Sinality, but for some reason, she did not, just intense rage.

Sinalitytook a seat at the table and took a peach strip that still sat at the table.“Surprising isn’t it? My sister is none other then the Earth Goddess Terra. Didyou know that in some places she is known as Gea? No? Not surprising, sinceonly this side of the planet calls her that. She likes both names, didn’t youknow? I…”

“Why areyou here? You said something about my girls. Why do they interest you,Sinality? Why would any child of Terra interest you, for that matter?” Taragrasasked. She got goosebumps just thinking about having the Queen of Evil andDeception in her house.

Sinalityswallowed the piece of peach that she was chewing on, placed that rest back onthe table and leaned back. “Ah yes, that! Well, I’m not the only one that isinterested in the Shrd Sisters. My sister wanted to be here, but she ispreoccupied with other matters. All of us gods and apparitions have someinterest in those three, cause believe it or not, your beloved daughters holdthe ‘Key,’” Sinality explained. She closed her ruby eyes as if she wasexhausted, but Taragras knew better, gods do not get exhausted.

However,she was curious. It might not hurt to ask. “What is this ‘Key’ that you speakof and how are my daughters related?” she asked, hoping that she had notoffended the queen.

Sinalityopened her eyes, sat up, and looked at Taragras. “That will be known to theworld soon enough, but what I will tell you is that an outside power is tryingto take over Kno-ki. My siblings and I have yet to identify its origins, but itthreatens our very existence and only with the help of you mortals, do we standa chance against this threat.”

“But Istill don’t know how my daughters are involved,” Taragras said, a look ofconfusion on her face.

“Again, Ican not say, for even I don’t know. However, the far-seer, Emera, said ‘Darknesswill come from a place unknown even to the gods. The shards of three mortalswill either banish this outside threat or strengthen it without even knowing.’ Therewas more to it, but that is all I can recall. I left for a party soon after. Iwas getting rather bored,” Sinality said with a yawn.

“How canI trust you….” Taragras started, but was interrupted by the goddess again.

“It’s upto you if you believe me or not. I may be known as the Queen of Evil andDeception, but right now, I have nothing to gain by pulling my normal tricks.Moreover, if what I say does not convince you, then call upon your protector.Not saying she’ll answer though. As I said earlier, she is preoccupied at thepresent and may not respond to your prayers.” Sinality got up off the seat andmoved towards the door.

“Butwhat’s so important that she can not talk to her own children?” Taragras cried,lunging at Sinality. She stopped as Sinality turned to face her.

The goddesssighed. “You really are beginning to tire me. Fine! If you must know, she hasbeen captured.” Taragras gasped at this news.

“Captured?How can anyone capture the Goddess of the Earth? Its too hard to believe!”Taragras held herself; a look of confusion crossed her face. She felt a hand onher shoulder.

“All thegods are in danger. So far, Terra was the only one captured. We don’t know whatthese beings plan to do with us or with Kno-ki, but according to Emera, thereis a fighting chance. But I really must be going.” She let go of Taragras andproceeded to the exit. However, she turned once more. “Oh, before I forget. Youwill never see the coming of all there will be to come.”

“Uh?You’re going to kill me?” Taragras asked in fright.

“Um….More or less, ya.”

“Then whytell me all of this, about the coming of some outside force bringing down thegods, and about my daughters if you are just going to kill me?”

“Oh, Idon’t know. Maybe I just like hearing myself talk and having someone listen tome. I can never decide which.” She brought her hand up and slowly brought itback down in a zig-zag fashion, mumbling something that Taragras could not makeout. The floor in front of Sinality swirled with blue, black, and purple.Taragras soon saw a figure come out of that swirl of colors, a demi-demon. Itwas dressed in black robes and carried a syth in its right bony hand.

“Whatthe?!” Taragras exclaimed, the site of this demi-demon causing her to freeze infright.

“Oh! MayI introduce Grim, The Giver of Death. Isn’t he just the cutest?!” Sinality exclaimed, letting out a shrieking laugh that caused the glasses and windows to shatter.“Oops! That always seems to happen,” Sinality said innocently. Her eyes thennarrowed. “Well, I’ll let you and Grim have some fun! Ta ta!” Sinality vanishedand Taragras was left in the room with the demi-demon.

Shebacked against the stove. Remembering the pot of hot stew, she quickly turnedaround, picked up the pot, and thrust it at Grim. To her surprise, the potpassed right through it. She could not think of any way to fight against thisdemon and there was no way out, because it blocked the door and windows.

Shewatched in terror as Grim brought the syth up for the strike. She quicklyclosed her eyes, not wanting to witness the blow. She could hear it come down.Taragras could not so much as let out a scream of pain as the strike simplydissolved her in less than a second. Only a pile of dust was left of the elf.With its job done, Grim vanished into the floor the same way it entered. The cottagenow fell silent, with the rest of the world unaware of the dangers that lurkedin the shadows of a newfound evil.


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Novel / Novella
writing Sinality
I have renewed inspiration. Thank you all who helped me break through the layers of writer's block, now time to go write!

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The world of Kno-ki is under siege by a foreign race that have been capturing the gods one by one, and its up to the races of the world to band together to fight back to free their gods, before they are also enslaved and their world is never the same again.
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Again, need your help to break through my writer's block. Any comments and feedback would help a lot.