Ithuriel: Inception (Chapter One)

Presenting original fantasy fiction from Robert Roach, this prose series features sword and soul hero Ithuriel in adventures placed in fantasy lands.

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It takes a few minutes for the chocolate giant to regain his focus. All that his mind's eye can see is his father & the varying mementos that help to symbolize his 46 years on Earth. Ithuriel physically aches due to not being able to do more for Tzumé.

Then his eyes turn to steel as the young warrior realizes that he can do more. That he WILL do more.

Ithuriel dashes out of his home—probably for the last time. Above, the sky frowns even more darkly. The gusty wind steadily blows, shrieking from time to time. As he again rushes to the sewers, only one thing is on the young man's mind: savage revenge. Avoiding any encounters with the numerous mercenaries & anyone else, Ithuriel slips underground again.

He threads through the sub-city's labyrinth. Though all Ithuriel's senses are ablaze, he doesn't—he can't—pay attention to everything occurring around him. His mind is on autopilot. Ithuriel's acting in response to his reflexes. He's not able to think. The massive warrior's only able to grieve. And to fume.

After about an hour, Ithuriel realizes that he is close to King Telamahn's castle; he's only about one-eighth of a mile away. At this place in the underground system, the young warrior can look overhead & see the swirling, cloud-filled sky. There's a small natural break in the sewer. Steep banks—about 20-feet high—rise up from this natural hole.

Ithuriel scrambles up the stone-encrusted left embankment, grasping some of the protruding tree roots as assistance to his climb. Within seconds, the young man is back at street level. He can see the regal residence, towering above this neighborhood. Reaching the opulent mansion's outer fortification will take less than one minute.

Still furious, Ithuriel rushes toward the royal palace. There are 3 mercenaries patrolling the 12-foot mansion wall's exterior, just down the road from the sewer's exit Ithuriel has used. The two women & one man lazily joke amongst themselves, confident that the rest of their evening will be uneventful. Just like his encounter earlier at his home, Ithuriel—with his father's broadsword—quickly dispatches this trio, leaving this area surveillance-free.

Recalling Orkus's comments & the attacks on his dad & on him, Ithuriel realizes that a coup actually is taking place. In all likelihood, Telamahn, the king, is in danger too.

So Ithuriel puts Liwâ away. The young warrior, lithe & powerful like a panther, runs, jumps & grasps the top of the stony outer wall. With a single, fluid move, he swings himself onto the parapet. The top of the wall is wide enough for three people to easily walk side-by-side on it.

An exclusive neighborhood, spanning the hills that extend above the mansion, glitters in the distance.

A large garden stretches out below the fortification's interior. There's a space in the park—a break immediately inside this outer battlement. The parkland's well-kept lawn grows from the craggy wall's foot, toward an arcing forest, 20 yards away. The wall curves into the distance, forming a "U" shape, its open ends terminating at the castle's small mount. The forest, creating a mirroring ring of trees inside the ramparts, also stretches into the distance.

The imperial mini-forest has varying trees, which tower to varying heights. This manicured jungle rings an inner garden. It is resplendent parkland, filled with various tropical flowers, vines, shrubs & fruit bushes. The garden fills 500 acres of space. The park & its jungle-like foliage stretch between the boulder-built wall & the castle itself. A magnificent pool, affixed to the palace wall, is the parkland's focal point.

Most of the garden is pretty much still & silent—aside for the howling wind. The gurgling brook is barely audible—flowing from the collecting pool & then bisecting through the garden's entirety. It exits the grounds & enters the surrounding neighborhood, flowing beneath the guarding barricade. Aside from these sounds, the four-floor waterfall's tumbling is the only other resonance to be heard.

The royal castle's configuration is both architecture & organic. Created by DahVora, arguably the Mystic Era's greatest sage, Kahnuri's royal mansion stretches 13 stories from the park's level—nine of these stories extending above the hilltop. One dozen buttress-like architectural details run vertically on the manor's rear periphery & seemingly grow out of cliffside. A single window is in the center of each curving element, on each of the three floors. These columns end above the top of the third story, at the fourth level's flooring.

Due to the creation of the building's characteristics, the entire palace—the entire structure—has a nature-based feel, not that of a constructed building. Much of the palace's exterior limestone & marble walls resemble the trees, rocks, grass & the color/texture of these elements. It's as if the dome-like castle had been created with the environs' appearance being used as the structure's motif.

Interior walls look like polished glass or viscous liquid—a lot of milky white & purple hues swirling & streaking in their make-up. All of these natural elements—vines, roots, stones & such—are parts of the edifice's entirety. These components are all expressed in the building's composition & the reason for this is both simple & spectacular: the castle was made—via sorcery—from the mound.

The manor's rear side is mainly flat & runs perpendicular to the cliff, which was formed at the moment of the building's creation. Utilizing her preternatural skills, DahVora used the extraneous rocks & such to create the palace's upper floors.

Above the hilltop, the castle's design is divided into three portions. The lower of these three portions has segments with texturing that resembles a great baobab tree's trunk. The "tree trunk" areas are a rich grey-brown tone. The hue nicely complements the rest of the palace's coloring. These sections are interspersed with architectural elements that have a smooth finish—tendrils & vines are merely melded into these divisions' thick, smooth surfaces. Windows from this area's three floors are spread throughout the lower section's "tree trunk" part.

The middle portion has texturing that resembles a baobab tree's canopy. The smooth parts of the lowest level extend into this middle level. These distinctive elements all end in narrow arcs. The leaf motif & medium green coloring continues throughout the rest of the middle section—on the structure's front, north & south sides. Except for the back face. The west face. Rectangular-shaped windows are also interspersed throughout this section's three floors.

The top portion has no windows. Its angular ovals resemble modern athletic arenas a bit, but the design clearly suits this "time period before history." A globular detail at the structure's tip-top has Kahnuri's royal seal clearly emblazoned on it.

Spherically shaped towers that rise 7-stories (with double parapets at their tops) flank the building's sides. Three smaller spherical details, much like the larger towers but without six floors of windows, are affixed to the towers' three sides. 

It is not surprising that the baobab's influence—a culturally important plant during the entirety of Kahnuri's existence—is found throughout the palace's design & in the vicinity around the manor. In fact, the structure resembling the baobab tree & the rivulet actually makes good sense. During DahVora's month of fasting & meditation prior to molding the castle, she strictly lived off the bubbling brook & baobab tree's fruit.

This ecological influence on the enchantress is only logical—especially since DahVora's powers are derived from & utilize nature.

On the back side, one dozen arcing portals, white marble frames highlighted with gold frieze & pale violet grooves, are on the fourth floor—facing the garden. The two veranda—slightly inset from the top of the third floor—run most of the castle's rear width. The arcing portals empty out onto the veranda. The tops of the veranda—the four-foot high safety walls—slightly resemble stylized scallops. Another large opening, in the middle of this level, allows the stream to exit the manor & create the castle's cascade.

Torches glowing in the garden area closest to the castle's pool. Lanterns are burning throughout the palace. They glow brightest where the throne room is located, at the rear of the fourth floor. All of this is proof that the royal castle is busy this evening.

Ithuriel examines the garden & the foliage as he runs along the wall's top. It's unusual to find that there are no sentries patrolling this area. He does see what appear to be silhouettes lying on the terrain sprinkled throughout the grounds.

Ithuriel story elements are the sole property of Robert Roach/Hometown Productions ©2020

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Words and illustrations by Robert Roach