The Ashenguard Saga Part 1 : Diura Enogbor
The Ashenguard Saga
Part 1: Diura Enogbor
Chapter 1: Tales of Old
“A long time ago, before the calamity, yer ancestor; Grenil Enogbor was part of a legendary group known as the Ashenguard. Before that, however, they were just a regular band of friends with their ain unique personalities and skills.”
Diura sat up in her bed. This story did nothing to send her to sleep at all but Kordok could not resist telling his daughter the tale. Her face lit up every time she heard the adventures of the Ashenguard. He sat up and readjusted himself before continuing
“This group of friends went on many adventures together, helping where they could. They defeated dragons, saved villages fae goblin hordes and were known across the land. In the dragon’s cave they found a crystal that had the unique ability, when broken, tae sense the other people with the shards. The friends promised tae break the crystal down and forge it intae coins so they would always be able tae sense each other. With all of their heroic deeds people started tae revere them and they decided on a name together. Ashenguard. Later on a great storm swept across the land. The skies turned red and demons spewed from the abyss. The Divine Gateways flared tae life. Providing an escape from the calamity. The friends fought together, beating the demons back with sword and shield, magic and, they even say music could carry magic tae. Yer ancestor played a lyre which was said could bolster the spirit and restore health and magic tae a person.”
Diura looked to the corner where her own lyre sat, next to her warhorn. She loved to tell stories herself and always liked punctuating them with a gentle tune, or a loud blast of the horn when it needed it.
“The Ashenguard dedicated themselves tae making sure everyone got through the gateways, they fought to the last and all but yin made it. A prodigy mage and one of yer ancestor’s best friends, Sylkana, sacrificed herself tae get the last of the people through. The last thing yer ancestor saw as he came through the gate was a giant explosion she had caused. When Grenil arrived on the other side he rejoined his friends, they found oot that their coins didnae work in the new world. They mourned, then set out tae explore this new strange place of nae magic. Their deeds passed intae legend and nearly all the members have gone their separate ways now. Yer ancestor came here, settled down and had a family. He spent the rest of his days entertaining the locals with his stories and music. He was loved by all. The coin is passed down tae our descendants in case the Ashenguard is ever needed once again.”
Kordok pulled the coin out of his pocket. Diura let out a little gasp, she was always so excited to see it. He handed it to her and she turned it over in her hands. There was a crest on one side, surrounded by the name ‘Ashenguard’ and the motto ‘United through worlds anew’. She flipped it over, on the other side there was the divine gateway, with the shard of the crystal where the portal stone would be. She grasped it in her hand and closed her eyes. Nothing, she hoped one day the magic would work again and maybe she could find the others. She handed it back to Kordok.
“Now get some sleep, or yer mother will kill me.”
He kissed her on the head and closed the door behind him. Diura drifted off to sleep dreaming about adventure and the world of magic.
Chapter 2: The Gates Open
Diura finished her song, to the applause of the tavern folk. She had grown up into a beautiful young woman. She had flowing red hair, half down half up in a braid. She had glistening blue eyes and a blue quill was tucked behind her ear for writing songs when inspiration took her.
She had taken to playing in the local tavern of a night, the patrons hung on her every note. She took delight in writing new stories and tales of fantastical adventures. She spotted her father sat in the corner, he had fallen asleep. Her songs always calmed him, he was getting an old dwarf now, not as nimble as he used to be.
“The gates! The gates are opening!”
A dwarf had burst into the tavern, a panicked look on his face.
“Everyone who can use a weapon come with me!”
He ran out of the tavern again and some of the other dwarves went with him. Kordok had woken up and was getting his axe to join the others.
“Go back hame !” He shouted
“If demons come bursting through that gate I need ye and yer mother tae get oot of here as fast as you can!”
Diura began to protest but her father had already run out the tavern towards the gateway. She picked up her lyre and followed. When she reached the divine gateway she could see half the town in full combat armour ready to combat anything that was going to come through the activated gateway.
Time passed and nothing happened. No-one seemed to be coming through. The townspeople began to splinter off and the officials gathered to discuss what they should do. Kordok came over to where Diura was watching.
“Come on, go hame tae yer mother. I will see what they want tae do aboot this.”
He turned and walked towards the group of dwarves in hushed conversation.
Kordok arrived back home later that evening. He looked an odd mix of excited and worried. Diura ran up to him as he got through the door.
“Well? What did they say?” she asked, before he’d even got a chance to compose himself.
“They want tae send an expedition through. They believe the old world is able to be settled once more.”
Diura’s eyes lit up. The old world! The one she’d been told about in all those stories from her ancestors. The world where the Ashenguard was forged. She looked straight into her father's eyes.
“I want tae go.” She stated.
“I knew ye’d want tae go. I won’t stop ye. This new world needs ye and yer music.”
He reached into his pocket and pulled out the coin. He stretched out his hand to Diura.
“Take it, if the others go through the gates as well, ye may be able tae find them.”
She took the coin and held it in her hand tight.
“The others…” She whispered. Maybe, just maybe, she could reunite the Ashenguard and continue what her ancestor had started.
She embraced her father for the longest time and finally broke away.
“I love ye paw.”
“I love ye tae. Good luck.” He wished her.
Diura ran out the door to join the expedition to the new world. Upon arriving at the gateway she saw all kinds of dwarves ready to go with her. Warriors, lumberjacks, stonemasons and all other kind of dwarf. It seems that they were confident enough that the new world was safe enough to settle.
They started marching into the portal, one by one they went. Finally it was Diura’s turn. She walked through and there was a flash of light. It was cold, empty, devoid of light. Suddenly she found herself on the other side, bright light flooded her vision. She collapsed to her knees and drew breath. When she looked up there was a lush vibrant world before her. Diura could not believe her eyes. Putting her hand into her pocket subconsciously she touched the coin. Suddenly something pinpricked in the corners of her mind. She could sense something. A presence a little distance away from her. It must be someone with another coin! She could sense it approaching slowly.
“Guess that will have tae wait until later.” she lamented.
Chapter 3: New Horizons
It had been a couple of days since the dwarves wandered through the gate. They had been joined by several other races and were starting to build a settlement for themselves. It was coming along well, the houses had basic timber frames and the dwarves had made sure to bring plenty of ale through for the labourers. There was something different in the air though. Everyone could feel it. In the stories of old it said this was a land of magic, perhaps that was it.
Diura went and sat on a log by the firepit in the middle of the camp. She pulled her lyre up and thought of home. She took those emotions and started to play. It was a cheerful song, one that reminded all present of a warm home. As she played Diura started to feel a weird sensation, almost a draining feeling. She looked around; the once weary labourers were suddenly lively again, spirits were raised and everyone was working with unusual enthusiasm. A couple of people had become so enraptured with her tune that they had sat on the logs opposite her and were hanging on her every note. She decided this was a good opportunity to tell her new tale that she had written. A few more people sat down, one sat on a box nearby an almost completed house. That one she had a strange feeling about, it seemed to be a woman in a full length cloak and hood. Diura put her hand in her pocket and touched the coin for good luck. The now familiar sensation of knowing where the other people were touched the edges of her mind. Except this time it was much closer. A lot closer. It was coming from this hooded figure!
“Well, better make a good first impression.” She mumbled.
She strummed up her lyre and proceeded to sing her new tale. It was about an old lonely dwarf king, who lived in his palace alone. One day he went to his garden and found a lilypad. The flower opened up and revealed a frog who asked for a kiss to turn into a beautiful princess. He kissed her, she transformed and they lived happily ever after. Diura finished her song with a resonating note that stirred the wind and was met with cheers. She looked around, everyone was beaming at her. She looked over to the hooded figure, they caught her gaze and beckoned. Diura stood up to follow the cloaked person and they started walking behind the house they were sat by. She followed the figure round the back and met finally face to face. After a brief pause she mustered the courage to speak.
“Who are ye?” She stuttered out.
The cloaked figure pulled back the hood to reveal long flowing blonde hair, golden eyes and a beautifully feminine face. Diura gasped, there was no mistaking the person from all her ancestor’s stories.
“Sylkana…” She whispered.
Sylkana was taken aback by this. It seems she had expected no-one to know of her at all.
“You recognise me?” She asked in her silken tone. It only took her a moment of thought to figure out why.
“Did that old bard Grenil include me in his stories?” She laughed.
Diura couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Grenil was a distant ancestor of hers, but the woman in front of her looked no older than thirty.
“What’s your name, child?”
“Diura…” She cut herself off. “Anyway! How is this possible?”
Sylkana looked at her then thought about something for a moment.
“How much did Grenil include?” She queried.
Diura recalled the favorite stories her father had told her as a child.
“He said that ye sacrificed yourself tae get everyone through the gates.”
Sylkana looked sad, these were probably painful memories for her.
“That is partly correct. I did die that day. However a little time later, after the gates had closed…”
She closed her eyes and shrugged off the cloak. Her skin lit up with golden tattoos, her eyes and hair turned white and wings burst from her back. Diura stood there with her mouth open.
“...This happened.” She finished.
“Everything went dark. I had let off an explosion that wiped out a lot of the invading force. Suddenly there was a light in the darkness, a voice, then I woke up like this.”
It was almost too much for Diura, first her ancestor’s best friend was alive. Then she finds out she’s an angel, but she knew it was true. Diura pulled the coin out her pocket and held it out.
Sylkana recognised it immediately.
“I never thought I’d see another one of those again.”
She pulled her own coin out and compared it to Diura’s. Sylkana’s was significantly more worn than hers, she guessed that the angel hadn’t been idle during her time in this world. Sylkana looked towards the horizon.
“I can’t sense any others just yet, they must still be in the other world.”
“I guess so.” Diura agreed.
“Give me your coin Diura. I have an idea.”
She reluctantly handed over her coin. Sylkana placed both in one hand. She then waved her other hand over both. Her tattoos briefly glowed and pale blue runes appeared underneath the depiction of the portal on the coin. She handed one back.
“What did ye do?” She asked.
Suddenly a voice echoed in her head.
“I made it so we can talk to each other no matter how far away we are. The rune is the angelic word for friend. Incidentally it is also the angelic word for family. I weaved the rune into a communication spell. I thought it fitting.”
Diura was definitely not used to seeing someone talk to her without moving their mouth. Sylkana suddenly embraced her.
“I’m so glad I got to meet someone again after all this time.”
Diura hugged her back. After a while they broke away.
“I have an idea!” Diura piped up. She looked excited.
“We should make a guildhall! That way when we find the others they will have a hame in this world!”
Sylkana smiled at her.
“That’s a wonderful idea. I’ll help you build it. Let’s go back to the settlement. I’d enjoy planning this over a nice mug of ale and another one of your stories”
Chapter 4: The Quest
Over the next few days odd thing began to occur as the people of the new world began to discover magic. There was talk of one poor boy who’d been rubbing his eyes and accidentally let off an explosion near his face, much to the amusement of the surrounding people. Sylkana and Diura finished the guildhall a week later. It was a glorious building, two stories tall, a blue roof, stone walls and a little stone border fence around the hall. They had planted a large flag outside too with the crest from the coin.
Diura was just putting the finishing touches in the tavern by getting the kegs of ale inserted. Sylkana was mumbling something about a bakery. Diura just left her to it in the corner. They suddenly both snapped their heads in the direction of the divine gateway.
“Was that what i think it was?” She shouted over at Sylkana
“There’s no mistaking it, that was another coin!” Sylkana ran towards the door and beckoned her to follow. Diura vaulter over the bar and followed her outside. They spotted the new coin-bearer walking across the town square. He looked over at them, he had sensed the presence of the other two coins as well. They rushed up to each other like old friends even though this was their first meeting.
“I never thought I’d find other Ashenguard so quickly!” The man exclaimed.
“Pleased tae meet ye! My name is Diura and this is Sylkana.” She introduced them.
“Ival, the pleasure is all mine.”
The man was very obviously a blacksmith, he was dressed in leathers with an apron. A hammer and a file hung on his belt. They guessed this was why he’d come through slightly later as he did not seem to want to participate in combat if this new world was hostile.
“So, I’m guessing Ferrun was your ancestor? Man was a fantastic smith and one of my oldest friends.” Sylkana smiled as she remembered.
Ival had a confused look on his face as he undid the chain around his neck with the coin on.
Diura stopped him before he could finish.
“Dinnae ask, I’ll explain later.” She winked.
Sylkana outstretched her hand.
Ival handed over the coin. Sylkana did the same as she’d done with Diura’s coin, the runes appeared on it, and she handed it back.
“All you have to do is grasp the coin and think of one of us and…”
Her voice suddenly appeared in his head.
“...you can talk like this.”
Ival’s eyes widened. He smiled and replaced it around his neck.
“Handy feature to have!”
Diura grabbed his arm.
“Come and see oor guildhall!” She enthused and ran off with Ival in tow towards the building.
Sylkana chuckled and followed them.
The town bell rang out and a crier was heard shouting.
“Creatures seen approaching town!!” He yelled out the watchtower.
Sylkana, Diura and Ival ran out of the guildhall and looked over the wall. A large group of green creatures had gathered and were slowly walking towards the town.
“Goblins…” Sylkana breathed.
She turned to Diura and Ival.
“Ival stay here, Diura I’m going to need you to play something for me.”
She reached out and touched Diura’s head. Suddenly she felt knowledge pouring into her. It seems almost by instinct she could play a new type of song. She began to play, almost without thinking. A soft blue glow began to surround Sylkana.
“Perfect, beautifully played.” She complemented her. Sylkana closed her eyes and underwent her transformation again. Ival was taken back a bit. This was the first time he’d seen her in angel form. She took off into the sky and flew in the direction of the creatures.
She stopped after not long, hovering in the air. Diura saw her start to incant something. Magic circles formed around Sylkana’s hands and a larger one formed over the goblin army. Suddenly a bolt of energy rained town and decimated the army with a giant explosion. Diura heard gasps of disbelief in the town, one for seeing an angel, then the destructive torrent of power it had unleashed. The smoke cleared gradually, there were goblin corpses littered in all directions. They few that had escaped the blast were running away as far and as fast as they could.
Sylkana floated back down to where they were stood. Ival looked suitably impressed and Diura was her usual excitable self.
“That was incredible!” She was almost jumping up and down.
Sylkana turned to Ival. He looked deep in thought.
“Are you okay Ival?” She asked.
“Yes, yes. I was just realising how far behind the both of you I am.” He looked towards the mountain in the distance.
“I'm going to leave the town. I've heard of a settlement near the mountain where I can focus on my craft there and become a bit more useful to you all. Who knows, I may find out something about magic and smithing while I'm there.”
They looked at his determination and conceded that they wouldn't be able to persuade him otherwise.
Ival set off later that day. Diura and Sylkana both stood at the edge of town to wave him off. Eventually they turned back towards the town. All of a sudden they both sensed several coins coming into range within the world. However they were all quite far away.
“It looks like I won't be staying around here long either.” Sylkana chuckled.
“Will you stay here in case others come through the gate?” She asked Diura.
“Good, then I’ll make sure to send them this way when I find them.”
“And I’ll make sure to gee them the best welcome ever tae their new hame!” Diura promised.
They said their goodbyes as she took off and disappeared into the sunset.
Diura smiled. She had found where she belonged.
“Paw, I will have one hell of a story tae tell ye one day.”
My thanks to @Sylkana ❤️