Aaricia and the Noland Army

An epic tale of adventure that features Aaricia; a young woman having being betrayed by a loved one, lost her family and her home, must find a way to raise an elite army to help reclaim all she’s lost. Bestowed with a remarkable gift to communicate with a rare kind of beast, and armed with a handful of mercenaries, she must rise to face the most revered ruler in all the lands; the evil Queen, and swayer of the great kingdom of Azzodonia.

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5. The Feathered Friends

Griftbear walked to Aaricia as her men were being moved from their confinement and were provided with bread and water as instructed.
“You turned your back on me, Grapapa!” she cried, “You turned your back on me! You let me down!”
“It is for the good of us all,” he said softly, as he sat on a small rock, “I love your sister as much as I loved you! You are both my own, I cannot choose sides even though her ways appear evil and dark. But here’s something I’ve written, it’s not much but maybe if you lend it your eyes, you might find a better way to approach your sister, without any bloodshed.”
“Then you are on her side,” she said, “She has Azzo’s sword, she has the throne!”
“Says who?” asked the old man as he laughed, “Your father trusted his wife, the Queen, she on the other hand trusted only two people in her life; her father, and the other, her husband’s secret adviser.”
“You chose Assiana over me,” she cried, “You refused to stand by me! You even acted as if you didn’t know me!”
“No! No, little Ricia!” he said, “You know, you are the apple of my eyes as was your mother. You have no idea how these bad tidings weakened my frail heart about your mother, and what happened to the rest of the family. I cannot afford to lose you, again. Stay with us, let your sister rule as long as the world would tolerate her. From the day her soul crossed through the star dust and into this world, I sensed her as a vessel darkness would use to rain terror in the kingdoms. But I was hoping to be proven wrong, I’m still hopeful! Do not worry, her heart would be bitten by its own fang in due time. And then, we would match into Azzodonia and hand you over the very throne that’s rightfully yours.”
“I can’t, I have waited long enough!” she said, “I want the peoples and the lands be free from her wicked chains, if it’ll cost me my own life, then so be it.”
“Such sacrifice is not necessary!” he said, “Just like your mother, compassionate and always motivated by challenge!” he smiled, “Are you going against her over the man she snatched from you or for the sake of the subjects that suffer under her reign?”
Aaricia turned and looked at her grandfather, “You know about…”
“Yes,” he interposed, smiling, tapping the rock as he beckoned her to seat next to him, “When your mother faked your death, she made it appear as though you accidentally let the candles in your bedroom burn to the extend it suffocated you and burnt down your bed while you slept.” he giggled, “The entire kingdom bought it, and the matter was not properly looked into. Well, when she asked Nigel to look after you, he came to me but I told him to take you to a much safer place, away from the oculus of the kingdom.” he snorted, “If you were here with us, the Queen, your sister might have launched an attack on these mountains, because she would fear you would one day fly the gryphons over her castle and seize that which is hers’.”
“She was a wise woman, mother!” said Aaricia.
“Her mother taught her well,” he said, “And I did the best I could as well! The gryphons cried all day when she passed away, even before the news got to us, they could tell!”
“Can I see them before I go?” she asked looking into his eyes.
“Yes!” he nodded, “Why not! But I’m more interested in knowing how you were able to raise these royal subjects of um…handful of an army!”
“They’re not an army,” she said, “They are family now!” she sighed.
“Hmm, I see!” he remarked, “Family indeed!”
“Well, Grapapa, since you’ve asked,” she sighed, “The young one…”
“The young handsome one among them?” he asked, “He likes you, doesn’t he?”
“Yes, the uh…good looking one!” she grimaced, “He found me lying unconscious by the river, months back. Took me to his place and looked after me. Well, these men came one night, burnt down his place and took us hostage!”
“Hmm! Interesting!” said the old man, “And how were you able to transform such foes into allies?”
“Well, Grapapa!” she said, “Let’s say it’s just a girl’s little secret!”
“I see fate in action, little Ricia!” he stood to his feet grunting, “Sometimes the best things come to us in our darkest moments but, because of our condition and situation of things, we hardly notice those great things or even acknowledge their presence!”
“This is no time for love and play, Grapapa,” she said, “I just want to…”
“Take out your sister, the Queen, bring peace to all the lands and maybe sit on that throne alone and basked in your lonesome!” he giggled, “Do not act like a blind man sitting next to fire, don’t say you don’t feel the passion burning from this young man’s heart towards you! He has a good heart and, I think he’d make a good mate for a great and beautiful Queen!” he turned and smiled at her, “Unless if you’d allow your sister to see this one too, and seize him like she did Gerald!”
“You’re right, Grapapa!” she said, “You’re right!”
“Look,” he knelt and plugged a beautiful flower, “This one I just plugged off, will wither, it is cut from its lifeline, cut off its life support, and the rest will continue to grow and blossom.” he sighed, “The heart is like that, Ricia. Assiana might think she took away the only man that had ever loved you, but what she did is, she plugged his heart from its life support! He shall wither and would not experience true love, because he is a flower plugged from the ground and placed in a vase!”
“Grapapa,” said Aaricia, “What do you know about Azzo’s sword?” she smiled, “And why does it matter so much?”
The old man looked at his granddaughter and stretched his old face muscle to smile, “The sword amplifies, strengthens, and obeys the heart of he that wields it, instantly executing the true desires of his heart. The blade shall first set an example with he that handles it, and show that which is bound to come to the kingdom, if such a man reigns over the kingdom!”
“Could you simplify that just a little, Grapapa?” she said as she held him.
“That’s simply put, Ricia!” he replied, “If I am to say it as written in the scrolls, in the Zodan tongue, none a word you can comprehend! The sword was given to your great-great-great grandfather, Azzodo, after he found a man at night who was wounded and left to die. He took the man home and treated his wounds, unknown to him, that man was a being that fell from the stars. So when the man was about to leave, he told Azzodo to ask for anything.” He smiled, “Well, Azzodo begged the man to give him some time to think, and after days of thoughts, he came back and told the man he wished for one thing; a sword that would amplify, strengthen, and obey him. The man agreed, but he warned him also by saying, ‘I thought you’d ask for wealth like all men do, but I can see in your heart, you desire peace for all mankind. I shall grant you one wish and make your seeds and ones to come royal, and they shall rule the lands but know ye also; the sword shall not only amplify, strengthen, and obey the heart of he that wield it, but shall instantly execute the true desires of the man’s heart, by first setting an example with the man, that which is bound to come to the kingdom, under the man’s rule!’”
“So, that’s how the myth about Azzo’s sword came to be?” she asked.
“Myth?” asked the old man, “Hmm! We shall see!”
The old man led Aaricia and her men to an open green land on one side of the mountain. On their arrival, all they could hear was sound of the wind, as it blew and whistled through the meadow.
“Where are they?” she asked excitedly.
“You have Ghourakan blood in you,” said the old man, “Just whistle!”
“Whistle?” she asked.
“Yes, Ricia,” he added, “Just whistle!”
Aaricia began to whistle but only the echoes returned to her ears as it bounced on the mountain walls. The men looked around for signs of any gryphon but were welcomed by silence.
“Do it again,” said the old man, “There’s too much mix of fear and excitement in your tone. Good only attracts good. They won’t answer!” he laughed, “Let the love from your heart be one with the wind, clear off any ounce of hate and anger inside of you. Let the seed of peace be planted in you, then whistle! Close your eyes, Ricia!”
Aaricia turned and looked at Zack, who smiled back at her, she then closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
“Imagine putting a smile on the faces of all the subjects you wished to set free from the clenches of evil!” he added, “Now, whistle a song you think they’d love!”
Aaricia squeezed her lips and began to whistle a sweet song, the tone harmonized with the wind, and the wind in the meadow began to stir as they all felt the presence of something in the wind.
“Oh my God, look!” said Zack, pointing his finger up.
Aaricia opened her eyes and looked up, to see thousands of gryphons gliding above them.
“Wow!” she said in excitement, “I didn’t know they were this beautiful and this…!”
“Many? Neither do I!” said the old man, excitedly, “I’ve never seen them this much in my entire life!” looking up, marveled by the number of gryphons above them, “This is…incredibly unbelievable!”
The gryphons began to land as Aaricia ran through the field, a white one landed in front of her and she laughed joyfully.
Zack had never seen her this happy before, he too ran after her but was engaged by one of the big birds, who came to defend Aaricia from him.
About half of the gryphons landed as the rest flew above. They surrounded her, throwing their wings up and down as they let a cry out. Almost all the Ghourakans ran from their homes to the field, to see the wonders most of them had never witnessed.
Aaricia walked and gently touched the beak of the white gryphon, and it went calm and bowed before her, beckoning her to ride its back. She carefully rode the beast and without any hesitation, the beast ascended with her into the skies.
The rest of the big birds flew beside Aaricia like escorts and from the highest of the skies they descended in a fascinating formation. The gryphons divided into two teams, and like a squadron of voracious birds, she led them up in a high precision flight, then down into a portal made by other gryphons, creating two giant rings in the skies. She screamed in delight and jumped off its back, then all the gryphons disappeared leaving her on a free fall, but she was not afraid, instead, she continued to laugh joyfully on her descent. As she was about to hit the ground she whistled beautifully again, the men below watched how all the gryphons reappeared and made a ramp like a spiral stair down to the ground and she fell upon their wings and slid downwards gracefully.
Her grandfather took a heavy breath, he was filled with pride and joy and his face shone. As soon as she stood to her feet, she ran to old Griftbear and hugged him.
“Thank you, Grapapa!” she said, “Thank you for this, I needed this peace!”
“Anytime, my Ricia!” he said as he wiped the tears from his eyes.
She turned and waved a goodbye to the beautiful gryphons, but they began to cry and all flew into the skies and disappear.
“Just remember one thing, Ricia!” he said, “I know I cannot stop you from chasing after the beautiful rainbow of thoughts that ricochet on the walls of your heart of hearts. But know this; Light has no shadows, and in order to place darkness where it belong, you must let your light shine through love, kindness, mercy and forgiveness! Your father won the most deadly of all wars, not because of the sword in his hand but because of the love in his heart! That’s why he was greatly revered and all men in all the kingdoms call him Jazekiah the greatest of all the kings! I can see the wisdom and strength of your father in your eyes and the compassion and kindness of your mother in your heart. Therefore, go, you have all my blessings, I shall pray for you and your dear sister, and maybe,” he turned and looked at the field, “We wouldn’t need to make an attempt to see if the gryphons would hear the sound of our whistles miles away,” he winked, handing her something wrapped in a thick old garment. “It belonged to your mother,” he added, “You shall find it pleasing to the weather!” The old man ordered some men and women to offer to Aaricia, three big boxes.
“What are these, Grapapa?” she asked.
“Something you and your No-land army would find very helpful,” he said handing her a letter with the Queen’s seal on it, “In order to do the right thing the right way! The simplest of techniques have proven to bring down even greatest of walls and kingdoms, and not swords.”
“I don’t understand, Grapapa!” she said.
“There’s a ceremony at the great hall in Azzodonia,” he said, “If you and your army can make it in two nights, you might be able to save a kingdom!” he sighed, “When you reach the valleys, you shall meet the house of Bouziah waiting for you. They shall give to you six horses and a carriage, she’s old but she’s elegant and strong.” The old man winked.
Aaricia kissed him on the cheek and wiped her tears then walked down the valley without saying a word. Her grandfather watched her leave and he too, wiped tears from his old cheek. The men collected the boxes and followed her as she led them down the valley.
    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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