Updated: May 11, 2020
Intended to be enjoyed by both children and adults of all ages, The Mighty Shall Rise is currently slotted for digital and physical release on July 15, 2020.
The following is an excerpt from "The Mighty Shall Rise" by Matthew Roland. It follows young Endurian Stonehelm who forges an alliance with the legendary warrior, Tyrelion Ivronwine, to retrieve the lost Sceptre of Nórn from the White Tower in a move that will have long-ranging consequences for all of Pergelion in ways that they cannot even begin to imagine. Drawn into these events is the usurper, Ir-Murazôr, whose mere presence promises a long-awaited end to Endurian’s desperate search for answers. But the tormented Endurian is fighting a losing battle against a lifetime of guilt and terror, and his inevitable confrontation with Murazôr spells disaster of the worst kind
TYRELION IVRONWINE STRODE through the dusty and gravely road that was supposed to the main thoroughfare of Tyrelot, the one thought on his mind to find himself a hero.
The sky was a pallid grey, and long slashes of darkened clouds were draped across it. Knee-high boots wrought sharp, grinding indentures within the ground as Tyrelion passed weather-beaten house after weather-beaten house. His authoritative gait made those that wandered the uninviting street look at him twice, then scurry off.
That was well. He was here to make a presence anyway.
To his right, he could see clearly the object of his exertions come into view. The Common Hall was, like the rest of the village, a drab, colourless building that was solidly rooted in the hard earth that made up the land about them. Of note, it was much larger than those sitting alongside it, having been specifically designed—or thrown together—for village meetings, such as the one he intended to interrupt right now.
Two untried sentries stood in front of the doors, spears crossed at their sides in an indolent manner. At Tyrelion’s approach, they wrenched themselves upright, low eyelids fluttering as they attempted to attain stately reposes. Tyrelion paid them no heed and sprang up the creaky steps to the door beyond.
“Wait just a minute there!” said one guard, his helmet off-centered to one side of his head and a slightly bewildered expression on his face. “You can’t just—”
Tyrelion didn’t so much as bat an eyelash, marching right past the two blundering guards, and leaving them slack-jawed and powerless to stay his coming. Perhaps it was his dusty attire, or maybe it was the jeweled sword strapped to his side, or possibly it was even the sharp gleam that resided deep within his eyes, which caused them to stop short. Whatever it was, it induced them to positions of mute incomprehension, and without a second look, Tyrelion slid past them to the heavy wood doors.
Setting his palms across the seams, he flexed and then pressed, thrusting them inwards with one, forceful push. The doors slid inwards, falling back against the inner walls of the Common Room with a thunderous bang that shook the old building to its very roots.
At his ingress, many therein turned to eye him with startled expressions. Striding forward, Tyrelion again disregarded their many looks of surprise, marching through their midst to the front of the room. As one entity, they parted like water before a rock, leaving him ample room to walk. Gloved hand resting upon the pommel of his sword, Tyrelion made his way to the small platform that rose in the back.
Several men who stood at the front looked at him in amazement, their weather-beaten coats and ragged beards bespeaking of a hard life. Then, their eyes hardened into pointed glares.
“Excuse me, gentlemen,” said Tyrelion. “I hope you don’t mind if I take the floor for a moment?”
“Good morning!” answered one. “I don’t recall anyone of your ilk being invited to this assembly! We don’t take kindly to intruders, so you had best make a move on it if you understand my meaning!”
“My thanks to you as well,” Tyrelion replied with a grim smile. “I shan’t use too much of your time, I fancy.”
Another one of the men barked something at him.
Reaching into his side-pocket, Tyrelion withdrew his hand, holding out a small moneybag. Immediately, the men’s expressions lightened considerably, and one of them stepped forward, eyes eager. Without a second thought, Tyrelion tossed it to the man who caught it with an outstretched hand. Upon this, the others rushed to his side, poking and prying, each one trying to claim a fair share for himself.
Tyrelion stepped past them to look upon the gathered assembly, who were eyeing him with interested expressions, some curious, others calculating.
“I have come here with a purpose!” he said. “I am looking for a man: one whom makes his dwelling here amongst you. I wish to meet this man; indeed, I am most interested in acquiring his distinguished services, if he were amenable. Is there any man here who could tell me where I might find one Endurian Stonehelm?”
There was silence.
Tyrelion twisted his mouth into a hard line. This, it appeared, was going to be harder than he had anticipated.
“Come now!” he said in a softer voice. “I know the truth. You cannot hide him from me, whatever he may have asked of you. Stop hiding behind your closed countenances and give me that which I seek. There is much, much more available where that moneybag I just proffered to your leaders came from.” He eyed the crowds with a scrutinizing expression.
He was just giving up hope when one of the men stepped forward. “There is one among us who goes by the name of Stonehelm,” said he. “One who—”
“Mahurin!” yelled a voice not far from him. “Enough! Olla hiljaa!”
Another man stepped forward, the crowd making way for him. This man, though, Tyrelion would have recognised anywhere. With a long, well-maintained beard that reached nearly to his belt and a smile that would light any room, Khaderas Awyrgen was recognisable by his voice alone.
However, at the current moment, his usual smile was nowhere to be seen.
“Hail, Tyrelion son of Ithírion!” he said, eyes grim. “I have been expecting you. The Lady Meliaris was kind enough to warn me.”
“That is not surprising,” replied Tyrelion. “And it is well you see you here. But urgent matters beg my attention, and I must see Master Stonehelm as soon as I can.”
“I’m afraid I cannot help you.”
Tyrelion opened his mouth to speak, but Khaderas interrupted him. “However, I can lead you to him, though it will do you no good. If even I cannot suffice to move him, then any chance you stand will be impossible.”
“We shall see,” said Tyrelion, and at Khaderas’s beckoning, the crowd of fishermen stepped aside to let him through. Tyrelion could feel their eyes on him as the door shut behind him.
✶ ✶ ✶
When they were outdoors and walking in the street where none could eavesdrop upon them, Khaderas said: “As I made known before, Lady Meliaris has already informed me of your plans. And it is with these in mind that I give you the same advice I gave Orendel Stonehelm nineteen years past:
“This is not the only road; other paths there are that you might take. Paths much more agreeable to you and yours. This place you seek, it can only be found by a lost road: one forgotten for good reason. And though I do not know with any certainty what you shall find there, of one thing I can be sure:such a way bodes only ill, and I deem that these shadowy byways of which you betake yourself shall, in the end, lead only to your death.”
“My passing is counted for naught when set against the heavy toll of those who have already paid with their lives for the hope and freedom which we now possess. There is no other road, Khaderas. That choice was taken from me nineteen years ago. No, our reckoning draws nigh, and I must play the part ordained to me so that we are not all swept away in the intemperate storm that will soon come.”
Khaderas nearly snorted. “Easy enough to say, I guess. But there are others who will be affected by your actions: innocent lives that would be put in danger. And I say this: be warned! If you undertake this quest, fire will cover the lands, and they shall be burnt and scorched beyond cure for many years hence. No place will seem safe, and the peoples of these lands shall be caught between a rock and a hard place, and so be crushed. Here though, if not for a little while longer, we are safe and many leagues away from that which seeks to destroy us all.”
“Safe, maybe now, but not forever,” said Tyrelion. “Murazôr cares not for the lives of free men. He and those who carry out his bidding slay without thought or pity for life. Believe me when I say that they will not for long ignore the settlements, small though they may be, to the east and north. They hate all that is good in this world and would sooner see it stamped out than let be to grow unchecked and without restraint. And for all that, there is Surentûr to think about.”
“Maybe so. But there something more to life than this. I have fought enough battles to know when it is all for naught. Let men fight each other and let us not meddle in their affairs. So has it been, and so shall it always be until the end of time. As for me, I shall not leave, and I think neither shall Endurian. My place is here, till the end of my days when Death reaches out Her hand to take me away from the confines of this world.”
“You seem to forget that this is indeed why we fight. If it were not for the valour of our people and allies, these lands would already be overrun. In your words, take care not to condemn the deeds of doughty men who have sacrificed all so that others may live a simple life.”
“Yet, though I do not in any way doubt the courage and bravery of you and your comrades, you do not fully understand that of which I speak,” replied Khaderas. “You know nothing but blood and battle: it is you. This is who you are. So it is with many men who live their lives at the forefront of battle: they know naught but blood and strife. You solve your arguments with the blade, and he who fights by the sword dies by the sword. As for myself, I endeavor to solve my problems with words and sound council.”
“You speak as one who has experience in these matters,” said Tyrelion. “Yet by the words which you utter, you reveal your true ignorance. Save these matters for other minds best suited for them! And as for me, you deem wrongly. I was not always a man of war: as you should well know, I used to lead a simpler life.” Tyrelion’s eyes grew dim, and his thoughts drifted to an older time when all was well in the world, and he sighed.
“I once had a family, a livelihood, a purpose. I denounce not that which you strive to uphold; for I knew it well and fondly does it linger upon the edge of memory, though the remembrance fades by the day. But when all I once held dear was taken from me forever, I was left alone without hope. Since that day, I have led a hard life: bound by scarred memory to avenge those whom I loved. Alas! It is not my fate to dwell in such bliss. No, my wandering path leads me elsewhere, and my life is bound in troth with that of our kinsmen. I will live and die with them. Only once they are restored can I be as I once was. There is no going back. Not now. Not ever.”
At these words, they both halted, each eyeing the other, and loth, it seemed, to give way for the other. Then, at last, Khaderas spoke: “Very well. Because of your name, will I show you where Endurian makes his dwelling, and not for any other reason. But again, I must warn you: any proposition which you will endeavor to entice him with will in every likelihood, be rejected.”
“I was already aware of that coming here.”
“Good,” said Khaderas, turning forward. “Then, you are already prepared to be spurned, although I will admit that it would do him much good to break free from whence he now dwells confined.”
Frowning, Tyrelion drew back alongside him. “Why do you say that?”
“I say it because Endurian has become, in essence, his own worst enemy. Over the past four years, I have seen his mind deteriorate to the point that, well…you will soon see what I mean for yourself.” The bearded man shook his head. “Regardless, any reasonable man would readily agree that holing oneself up and taking not an ounce of action for an extended period of time, can only be to their detriment. Which is what he is doing, for your information.
“You well remember Orendel. His sons have retained much of their father’s bearing, and Endurian most of all. He is like to grow moody and grim, at times; that has never surprised me any. But this time, though, there’s something…different. I’ll keep my own suspicions to myself, suffice to say that he’s afraid.”
“Afraid?” Tyrelion arched an eyebrow. “Endurian Stonehelm, who was for a time, the most notorious outlaw in the Darklands, is afraid?”
“Aye. He’s afraid; that much I know for sure, and he needs help desperately. I’ve tried reasoning with him, but he has grown too proud to realise the truth of things.”
Tyrelion walked onwards in silence, somewhat stunned by what he had just heard. Endurian the Outlaw, afraid? He was so wrapped up in that thought that it took him a moment to realise that Khaderas had come to a stop.
“There,” said Khaderas, pointing past the village, and over a long gap of shoreline, to a cliff that overlooked the swirling sea below it. “That is where you will find Endurian Stonehelm.”
Tyrelion looked in the direction of Khaderas’s hand and saw a large, rickety, yet ornate house perched atop the edge of the cliff, surrounded by a forest of trees. From what little was visible of it, the house was easily the most inviting in miles around.
“Just up that hill, you should find him. When you knock, give your name and state your business directly. Maybe one of old Aulendur’s maids will let you in. For now, farewell and good luck.”
Khaderas saluted him, then turning on his heel, strode back the way whence he came, leaving Tyrelion alone.
✶ ✶ ✶
The door rose before Tyrelion, solid and gleaming, with a large door knocker in the very centre. Just above it loomed a figurine carved in the likeness of a bear’s head. A great black bear, it was, nose held high and teeth bared in a fierce snarl. It had a sort of noble and authorial air to it, portending peril to all who would enter.
Tyrelion eyed it in silence, a bemused look on his face, before pounding his fist against the door. There was silence. He beat again, and then a muffled noise sounded from behind the door, and it swept back to reveal a young scullery maid, wiping a dirty hand on her stained apron.
“Hullo?” she said. “The master isn’t seeing anybody the moment. But if you could come back at another time, perhaps…?”
“I have a prior engagement,” said Tyrelion firmly. “With one who is called Endurian Stonehelm.”
The girl’s face whitened. “Lord Endurian is…come in, lord. I shall tell him you’ve come.” She made way, and he strode through, entering into a large, open-spaced entryway. He wiped his boots on the mat and turned, when the maid said, “As whom shall I announce you?” She eyed him nervously, then added a hasty, “Lord.”
“You may tell him that an old acquaintance has come to see him,” Tyrelion replied, eyeing the room about him. “And that he would do well to come as soon as possible.”
“You want me to say all that?” The girl put her hands to her mouth, seemingly mortified at what she had just said. “Sorry, lord. I’ll tell him. Right, this way.”
She led him down the corridor into a large sitting room, wherein were set several cushioned chairs and an oak table.
Then she departed. Or fled.
Tyrelion shook his head and made his way around the room, searching for a place to sit. At last, he settled upon a high-backed armchair that was nestled in the far corner of the room. Slowly, he sat himself down.
Then sat back up.
He did not need to be accustoming himself to comfort. The last thing he needed was to succumb to such temptations; there were important things he had to be about. So, he made his way to the fireplace and leant against the stone there, arm resting against the inset beam of polished wood that stuck out of the wall.
“Who are you?” said a voice. “What do you want?”
Tyrelion turned and there, in the doorway, stood Endurian Stonehelm.
It was like seeing a ghost.
Endurian’s eyes were sea-grey, a trait that he had inherited from his father, but his hair was more brown than black, strained throughout with streaks of bronze—unlike Orendel or his brother for that matter. A thin layer of dark stubble coated his face, and his clothes were mostly unkempt.
When looking upon him, Tyrelion was faintly reminded of the boy he had once known so very long ago. But only faintly. For Endurian had changed in that span of years, and when looking into his eyes, it was immediately apparent that not much was left.
Endurian stiffened upon eye contact. “Lord Tyrelion.”
“Endurian Stonehelm,” said Tyrelion. “We have much to discuss.”
Endurian’s eyes immediately hardened. “What makes you so sure of that?”
“There is naught to discuss. This conversation was over as soon as it began.” Endurian looked away, and it seemed to Tyrelion that he was attempting to conceal some emotion, but when he looked back, his eyes had the same look as ever before.
“I assume Khaderas led you here?”
“After some persuasion.”
Endurian nodded. “Khaderas was staunch once upon a time, but his hold is beginning to weaken.” He looked Tyrelion in the eye. “I’m sorry, but you cannot stay. There is nothing for you here. Anything that you may have to say will prove to be utterly fruitless, and I am not in the mood to exchange discourse with anyone for that matter.” He inclined his hand to the door, motioning for Tyrelion to take his leave.
“As you will. Your wish is granted; I shall take my leave,” said Tyrelion, striding to the door—and subsequently to Endurian. “But first, you must allow me to say one thing.”
“Say it quickly, then.”
He came to a stop several feet away from Endurian. “I once knew a young boy who bravely stood over the bleeding body of his defenseless father. In spite of he who faced him, this boy stood firm in the face of those mightier than he, holding a shaking sword in defiance of the dark: utterly determined to protect him who could not protect himself. Tell me, what happened to that boy?”
“You haven’t a clue as to what you’re talking about!” scowled Endurian.
“No, but I do,” he said. “However, I could say much the same of you.”
“I say that you should not have come here, and I stand by my word.” Endurian again beckoned to the door.
Tyrelion walked through the door and into the corridor, Endurian close behind to hurry his departure. Coming to the door, he opened it and stepped out into the cold outdoors. Somehow, he found that refreshing. Quickly, he made his way down the steps and then turned to look back.
Endurian stood in the doorway. “I’m sorry,” he said. “But the Endurian you seek is not here.” He prepared to close the door.
“Endurian Stonehelm!” said Tyrelion in a loud voice. “You cannot hide from the world forever. Sooner or later, it will find you, for you are apart of it just as much as it is apart of you. You cannot just disappear and decide that you are no longer one of us.”
The door swung back. “Indeed, I can,” said Endurian, as if through gritted teeth. “The world kicked me out. I know when the time has come to let go. Unlike yourself, I have embraced my destiny; do not think to convince me otherwise. Besides, you are wrong. I am not Endurian. Endurian is dead; he died long ago from grievous wounds more horrendous than any mortal man could possibly hope to overcome.”
“I should imagine not.”
“Doesn’t matter. Don’t care.”
“I care,” replied Tyrelion. “And I think it does matter. I need you, son of Orendel. You have grown proud and haughty in your exile. Your maturity has brought its own wealth of complications, but do not think that you are any wiser than myself. I knew you when you were no more than an infant in your mother’s arms. I would not say that you are dead but in need of resuscitation. Remember, the world once greatly benefitted from your acts. They can again.”
“In doing so, I lost a large part of myself. The world can go to Múspell’s Abyss, for all I care. I am done expending myself for this ungrateful world.”
“And yet here, I find you spending your time with lowly fishermen. Rumour has yet spread of your applied skill, and these pathetic villagers have shown their loyalty to you, for having supplied food to those who might starve otherwise.”
Endurian laughed almost darkly. “They treat me in a much different fashion than all others did. Here, I am at least respected, not cursed, and blackened by my own name.”
“I respect you. Why else do you think I have travelled so many leagues to seek out your services?”
“Anything you have to say will only—”
“The time to redress the wrongs wrought against our people has come again,” said Tyrelion, voice rising in the cold clear air as he stepped forward. “Your people need you. The time has come that you answer their call.”
“Our people are dead, and you know it,” said Endurian. “They are an impoverished, weak, people who wander desolate lands in desperate search of something that shall never be. Their will is broken beyond remedy, beyond cure, and I consider it the greatest of luck to have never fallen into their present state of mind.”
“You are not wrong,” said Tyrelion. “But, like you, they need resuscitation. They have naught to strive for, precisely because they have naught to strive to. Only one such as yourself could help me fill that role.”
“You are deceived. You long for something that can never be! Our home was wholly and utterly destroyed. That which was once held fair and beautiful is now scarred beyond repair and can never be restored!”
“Others have said much the same, but they quickly realised it to be mindless speech and bereft of all wisdom. You—and our people—will continue to wander as you do, until you set yourselves to the grand task of reclaiming your lands of old. What is it to live? To die, knowing that you accomplished nothing, save for an unsated heart? Or to die trying? The latter is much more superior, for at least you can rest with the assurance that you tried. And even if you should fail in the end, you can rest assured that there was nothing you could have possibly done to change things for the better.
“I myself will admit that I, Tyrelion Ivronwine, was once as you were: broken in mind, spirit, and yes, even in body. But as I lay gasping in my ruin, clutching for my every breath, I was able to grasp on to something. A thought, an idea, may it be. And since that day, that something has provided me with all that I have ever needed to persevere and move onward: to take that one, agonizing, painful step day by day. You are not the only one who has suffered, Endurian, son of Orendel. I too have suffered much on behalf of my kinsmen. I too have lost that which I held most dear to me. But I have a goal: a motivation: a purpose. It is this that drives me forward every day. And every day, I tell myself that one way or another, I shall, in time, dethrone that wretch, Murazôr, curse his name. One day, I shall fell him from his high seat. One day, I shall have my vengeance. And on that day, my thirst shall, at last, be utterly sated, and my heart set at ease.
“Oh, of ease! Of comfort! Of rest! These things I have neither felt nor known for many a year. Of these things, I both long and hope for. When shall I find rest? I ask myself. The answer is clear: when I have toppled that dark traitor from his accursed throne, then and only then, shall I find peace. So, tell me, Endurian Stonehelm, do you thirst for vengeance?”
For the first time in their encounter, Endurian looked to be somewhat uneasy. “I did…once upon a time,” he said at length. “But now…now there is nothing. It has grown cold within me, like the very stone of this fell earth. And as I told you before, you should not be here. I exiled myself from the world for good reason. It would not be right for me to come forth as I once did in times past, though indeed, my heart yearns at times to do just that.”
“You possess a Nornstone.”
That stopped Endurian cold. “What?”
“Don’t bother denying it; your brother suspected for the longest time that your father bequeathed one to you ere he died.”
“Even if that were true, why does it matter to you?” Endurian said, voice like bitter steel.
“It matters to me because evidently, it matters to Ir-Murazôr. You are not safe, so long as it remains in your possession. No mountain, no hill, no cave will hide you from him.”
“You present facts without proof. What makes you so very certain that Murazôr would be after something so small as this? And how can you be certain that he would know of my dwelling here in the first place?”
“Even the smallest of things can change the course of the future,” said Tyrelion. “And so many questions require so many answers. If you would but come with me, I shall illumine your thoughts when I can spare the time.”
“You are not safe here; he will come for you, and soon. Yes, he will come, and when he comes, there will be no denying him. Not now. Not this time.”
“I should very much like to see him try,” said Endurian. “But my words are set in stone, and my will is adamant; I have no wish for vengeance or to join your band of foolish fugitives for that matter. My place is here, and here I shall stay, regardless of the chances fate may play me.”