Authors: Jenna Elizabeth Johnson
Tags: #Fiction, #Fantasy, #Magic, #Dragons, #Adventure, #Young Adult
The Legend of Oescienne
By Jenna Elizabeth Johnson
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons and places is entirely coincidental.
THE LEGEND OF OESCIENNE
Copyright © 2011 by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson
All rights reserved.
Cover art by Randy Vargas Gómez (
No part of this book or its cover may be reproduced in any manner without written permission from its creator.
For more information and to contact the author visit
For Laura and Niño, who have ventured beyond the realm of Normal with me and haven’t looked back since.
Yvendth phrymen, int druhmeh brikhin avedth edth odhiesse semmren epit aebyell moerhedth elsciohen, noedehnin toedthe ysedth imiht helihn aebiy druhmeh vitah ada priuht epit aebyell.
Into the Wilderness
A Guided Tour and a Day of Mischief
The Oak of Ethoes
Traveling on the Saem
The City of Light
Friendly Strangers and Stranger Friends
The Odd Behavior of Elves
A Familiar Dragon and a Formal Introduction
A Grand Event and a Prince in Disguise
Rescuing Dragons and Playing Hostess
Sobledthe in the City
The Spirit Stone
The Fortune Teller’s Secret
A Gift from the Heart
A Misunderstanding and an Apology to Match
An Unexpected Caller
Confessions, Accusations and an Inevitable Banishment
An Act of Defiance
Enemies and Allies
A Surprise Encounter
The Liar and the Fraud
A Visitor in the Night
Another Year, another Departure
A Betrayal in the Making
The Legend of Oescienne
I was born in a time when the world was still recovering from Ciarrohn’s first attack. Though I had a fair mix of elvish and even dwarfish blood in my veins, I was mostly human. There wasn’t a word for our kind yet, but years later we would be called Nesnan or Resai. We were simply called people then, like all the other races.
I was raised in the place of my birth, in the hills near Dhonoara, and although I was considered a great beauty I sought no one out as a husband. Early on I proved to be talented, set apart from the others, so I was sent away to hone my skills and work towards becoming something greater. I never saw my family again, but my classmates and school teachers helped fill that void. I spent many years training, studying and developing my skills and I grew very close to one of my tutors in particular. I even imagined a future with him, a future that seemed as bright and wondrous as any I could imagine, but fate offered me another option.
Despite my years of study and knowledge, I was still very young among my peers and my mind was easily persuaded by anything bright and charming. And I had another vice then: the desire for power. The lingering evil of Ciarrohn had tainted many of us with its poison, but I was weak and I could not push it from my veins. It would have remained nothing more than a yearning if not for one thing.
An uprising in the north of our province, the province of Ghorium, brought forth a challenger to the elvin king. He was soon defeated by the human man, young and ambitious and from a far away province in the west. The people of Ghorium were shocked at this, for Ethoes had granted the kingdom of Ghorium to the elves, but the idea of a fresh new ruler, one who had usurped the throne of the harsh monarch before him, made us all forget that the world had been shifted off balance.
Our new ruler was touring his new kingdom when he came to my secluded valley and immediately I was overcome by his presence. He was charming, he was handsome, and he had just overthrown a cruel and mighty king. To our people and many more he was a hero, for the previous sovereign of Ghorium had grown harsh and bitter, corrupted by the lingering infection of Ciarrohn.
This new monarch was also powerful and for some reason or another he was interested in me and, fool that I was, I fell for his beguiling charms. I must admit, I was overtaken by the king’s fine looks and impeccable manners and he offered me a share in his power, that tantalizing position I had yearned for all my life. So I turned my back on my tutor, the one who had trained me with patience and kindness, the one who had been by my side through laughter and sorrow. I knew he loved me and I thought I had loved him, at least before my new suitor arrived. But that desire for power had a cruel hold on me and I took the offer the human king of Ghorium extended to me. We married and I traveled to the northern reaches of the province with him to begin what I thought was going to be the perfect life. A queen, married to a man I thought to be in love with. How could anything destroy that?
A year into our marriage I learned that I was pregnant. I had never hoped for such a blessing, for I was certain that the gift of motherhood was something Ethoes denied me; a choice I had made long before meeting my king. But I must have been wrong, for I was to be a mother after all. Oh, the joy I felt in those first few months! My husband, of course, was elated and started making plans for his new son.
“But if it is a princess we are expecting?” I had said, laughing a little.
“No,” he had answered me tersely, “it will be a son and he will be the most powerful king that ever lived.”
My smile lingered but soon faded as I saw something pass over my husband’s eyes. He didn’t look quite himself, as if someone else had spoken for him. I shrugged it off, thinking it might just be his own enthusiasm getting the better of him. But as the weeks passed he became more and more alien to me, as if he had been wearing a disguise all this time and it was just now falling apart all around him.
My king was no longer charming and kind but brusque and demanding. He never spoke to me, only to the child growing inside of me, as if I meant nothing to him. At first I hid my grief, thinking this was normal for a father who was expecting a son, but it finally wore me down. I spent less time outdoors, locked away in the icy castle in the north of Ghorium, wondering why my husband’s regard was vanishing, wondering if my child would love me when he finally arrived. Wondering, dreading, if my king would hate me if it was a daughter I gave him and not a son.
In time I learned to avoid my husband when he fell into one of his rages, something that occurred more often than not. He hadn’t been this way when we first married and I feared this was some hidden part of him that he’d kept from me. I dreaded even more that perhaps the land itself had ruined him just as it had destroyed our previous monarch, the elvin king everyone seemed to have forgotten. For it was upon this very soil that Ciarrohn stirred his malice once before; before the dragon Traagien could put an end to his corruption.
If the taint of the evil god was once again taking hold in the hearts of the people of Ghorium, would I too become bitter and hateful? Would my unborn child succumb as well? I could only hope and plead with Ethoes that such was not so and use what power and talents I had to protect those I still loved.
During this time, when my husband cast me aside and my worries overwhelmed me, I thought of the man who had cared for me those many years ago. Bitter tears would well up in my eyes when I thought of him, but I dashed them away. I had forsaken that gift when I allowed my desire for power to control me. I had given up love for the chance to be queen of a great province and now I walked alone, not even my ladies in waiting and the servants paying me much heed.
The birth of my son was a miracle in of itself, for when he finally came into this world he took all that he could from me. It was a surprise that I survived it, for he was strong and I was weak. He did not cry when he greeted this world and a sliver of fear cut through my heart, but I was told he was perfectly healthy. I fell asleep, wondering if I had been lied to, not expecting to wake up again.
The days blurred together and I saw my new son seldom. The king came to me once, holding up our child and grinning broadly, a hint of wickedness in his eyes. I was worried at first but then he spoke, “Behold, my son, Cierryon. For he will be as great as the god Ciarrohn and he will one day rule the world.”
I wondered then why Ethoes hadn’t been merciful and taken my life in childbirth. I saw the truth now; my husband had been poisoned, corrupted by the goddess’s youngest son, the one who never ceased to cause pandemonium in our world. I feared for myself then, but I feared for my son even more. My husband called him Cierryon, in honor of the god who had ensorcelled him, but I had my own name for him, a name I would call him when we were together, if we were ever permitted to be together again: Kalehm.
Slowly I healed and eventually I was allowed to see my son. He was a month old when I was finally well enough to leave my chambers, and he stole my heart immediately. His hair was fair like his father’s but his eyes were dark like my mother’s. The sudden memory of my family brought tears to my eyes but I quickly hid them, for my king no longer abided tears.
The first few years of my son’s life was a hard time for me, for as my husband fell further into his obsession with the god Ciarrohn, I found myself keeping apart from him as often as possible. His temper flared at the smallest inclination and he often took his rage out on me in order to spare our son. The castle became a miserable prison, for myself and those who served us. The king doted on his child, teaching him habits I would never have dreamed of, allowing him to be violent and giving him everything he desired.
Once I imagined myself taking my child and fleeing with him, running off to some far away province where the king of Ghorium could never find us. It was a simple trip into the country that changed my mind on the matter. I took my boy, Kalehm, the name I only used when his father was not around, without informing the king of our plans. He hunted us down and I was punished for my indiscretion, all in sight of our son. It wasn’t the pain my husband inflicted on me that wounded me so, but the look on Kalehm’s face. Indifference. Seeing his mother’s harsh punishment had no effect on him whatsoever. That is when I realized that my husband never wished to spare our son when he abused me; he wished to train him to accept such violence and to be immune to its awfulness.
I could have left, yes. I could have given it all up and gone on my own. My husband would not have cared one way or the other. But I could not leave my son to his imminent destruction, so I stayed, despite the cruelty, neglect and turmoil. I tried to teach my son what I could, when his father was not around, to instill some good in him. But it seemed impossible.
I should have left that first year, but some inborn maternal instinct wouldn’t let me go. It wasn’t until my boy’s tenth year that I realized the child I had clung to and tried to save was no longer there. He had been completely transformed, turned into something spiteful and evil, and when I looked carefully I could see glimpses of Ciarrohn in his eyes. My Kalehm was no longer in control; he no longer thought or felt, his mind and soul had been completely dominated by whatever sliver remained of the evil god in this world. Traagien had done his best, but that great dragon had not destroyed Ciarrohn completely those many years ago and now the evil god had found a young, strong host, one I was certain he would never relent.
My heart broke the day I realized my son was lost and I wandered the castle halls, sobbing silently and wishing for an end to my torment. But such a blessing would not come to me because of a vow I made years before. I would suffer for my misdeeds, for choosing the desire for power over love. This was to be my fate and punishment.
I stayed in the castle for a month after my discovery but it was time for me to leave, to strike out into the world and try to forget my mistakes and my failures. I was correct in thinking my husband would not care about my whereabouts, as long as he had our son at his side. I left with only the clothes on my back. Briefly, I thought of returning to my homeland, of seeking out the man I had once admired and rejected but I knew he could no longer love me, if love me he did before I married the king. As comforting as it seemed to go back to that life I knew I could not. I had forsaken it long ago.
The wilderness became my home and I thanked the goddess for giving me a curiosity about the earth and its growing things when I was a child, for I was able to care for myself well enough by taking advantage of its bounty. I stayed close for several years, within the province of Ghorium, all to hear news of my dear Kalehm, my son. I knew he was lost to me, but a mother never forgets her children, and as the years flew by word of the young prince became more and more common. I heard tales of his cruelty and ambition, of his poor treatment of those who were less fortunate than himself. His father had already begun a new reign of terror and it only seemed to be worsening as he taught his own twisted values to his heir. I should not have sought out news of the king and the prince, for it shattered my heart anew each time. But something drove me to seek it, and I paid dearly for my curiosity.
When my son reached his twentieth year a distant king, the brother to my husband, traveled from the far province of Oescienne in the west. With him he brought his sons and allies; a massive army to defeat my husband and put an end to his reign of terror. We rallied behind him, myself and the common folk of Ghorium. Only, our king and his son had been planning, building up their own armies and breeding dragons capable of destroying whole villages.
Though the king of Oescienne had dragons to fight by his side as well, they were defeated and slaughtered. It was amid all this horror that I realized my Kalehm had wielded a power no man, elf or dwarf could ever control. Ciarrohn had grown strong within him and had helped him obliterate his enemies.
My husband, the king, died in the great battle as well, but all evidence proved that he had been murdered by his own son, the new king of Ghorium. I did not think my punishment could get any worse. I did not grieve my husband, for he had been a stranger to me for so long. What I mourned was that final thread of hope to save my son snapping when he killed his father and all those who opposed him.
The days and months flew by after the defeat of the king of Oescienne, and my child grew in power, his soul no longer present. He became known as the Crimson King, or the Great Tyrant, because that is what he had become. He took the symbol of the blood rose, our benevolent goddess’s emblem, and adopted it, claiming it to be his own. When the blood of his enemies had spilled upon the great plain below our province, where he had fought his uncle from the west, the roses had grown and he had taken this as a sign. But we, the people of Ethoes, would always know. We would always keep the blood rose sacred, for it was first and foremost the gift from our goddess and not the symbol of violence and death that the Tyrant King had claimed it to be.
After that first war I decided to go into hiding again, living off of the forest in the east and wondering if my son even remembered me. I visited villages seldom, only to prove that there were still people in the world and to pick up a few supplies I could not gather from the forest. My son continued to grow in power, threatening to make war upon the neighboring provinces.