The Sword of Lumina #1
by Erin Elliott
In a world ruled by the dark, what would you do to see the light again?
Galena is just like every other elf, enslaved by the powerful Rau. Once a beautiful and powerful race, the elves have been reduced to slave labor in the mines of Rau. Galena grew up hearing the stories of old about a sword, when wielded by the right elf, ending Rau's tyranny. Unsure if she believes these stories, she finds herself plunged into a world unfamiliar to her, hunted by Rau for her unnatural magical abilities. Will she find the sword promised to her people? Or will she fall prey to the idea of a sword that doesn't exist?
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Galena cautiously stepped over a fallen tree and into the broad clearing deep within the forest that surrounded her village. She took a breath of the cool morning air, savoring the calm she felt every time she came here. Although it no longer contained the beauty of greenness that it carried for a short time in the spring, it still worked its magic on Galena. She stretched her muscles, warming them up before she began.
Galena turned her golden eyes to the sun, taking in its weak morning rays and allowing it to warm her fair face. Closing her eyes, she listened to the forest sounds around her. She heard the bees and the locusts beginning the day before the heat made it unbearable. The birds called their good mornings to each other, sharing their discoveries with their fellow wing mates. A gentle breeze danced across Galena’s face and through her copper-colored hair, teasing her with the idea of a cool day. It was a cruel joke, for it was the middle of summer and the heat would be scorching as the day wore on.
Opening her eyes, Galena searched the clearing around her once more.
Her father’s warnings still echoed in her head, “You can never be too careful, little one.”
Taking in every tree, every blade of grass, and all the animals within view, she made a mental note of what she saw. The plants were beginning to wither and die as they did every year around this time, leaving a dull brown hue for as far as the eye could see. Satisfied that no one else was around, Galena walked over to a tree on the other side of the clearing. This tree had seen many summers. It was roughly the size of three, twenty-foot trees combined. It reached high into the heavens and provided some shade from the blinding sun. But even this tree, which had been around for so long, suffered along with the elves. The tree’s middle was completely hollow, its insides having died long before the shell was willing to. Galena reached into a crack that ran along the middle of it and removed a sword. It was the sword that she had chosen from the large collection left to her ancestors and that her family had kept secret for centuries. Her father and brothers had chosen swords from this collection as well. Whenever the elf died, the sword was returned to this stash in hopes that it would someday prove useful.
When she was younger, they had all trained together, but now her father was in the mines and her brothers had families and work of their own. Galena thought she would have to train alone until she had convinced her father to train her best friend as well.
Holding her sword in her beginning stance, Galena went through the motions and the exercises she had been trained to do. Her movements seemed effortless as she continued to swing, stab, and block in a continual type of dance. She swirled and dodged, feeling her muscles contract and stretch with each practiced move. Over and under, her sword became a blur as she came to the final movements of her routine. Sensing the presence of another, she spun, bringing her sword up and under the chin of another young elf. Breathing heavily, Galena looked up at him. He had silky, brown hair that fell just below his shoulders and his bright, blue eyes were fierce, but still had a spark of mischief in them. His straight and elegant nose was perfect for his long face. His jaw was currently tensed, waiting to see if the sword currently poised at his throat, would continue its path, or be removed. It was the face that she knew as well as her own and loved even more. Smiling, Galena removed the sword and took a step back, afraid that he would hear her racing heart if she continued to stand so close.
“How many times have I told you not to sneak up on me?” she said accusingly.
He rubbed the spot on his neck where her sword had been moments before and grinned. “Probably every time I have come down to spar with you.” Elenio stepped into the clearing, glancing around as he did so. “So, are you tired enough to practice with me?”
“Tired or not, I can still dance circles around you.” Grinning, Galena took her stance, sword pointed down and at an angle. Elenio prepared himself as well. Both waited for the other to make the first move. Over the years, they had practiced together so often that they knew the other’s moves as their own. Their dance was the dance that kept in perfect rhythm. It was on the rare occasion that Elenio was able to best Galena and he made sure to point this out as often as possible. As of lately, their practice sessions would end in draws. Galena assumed it was because Elenio was tired of being beat, or that he would be coming of age and did not want to let a mere girl win. She was unsure of the real reason though, but enjoyed this new, fiercer Elenio.
Elenio took the first swing, coming at Galena from the side, which she blocked easily, returning the blow. Swinging and blocking they spun around, their movements getting faster with each strike. Galena tried to keep the sun at her back, to give her the advantage, but Elenio seemed aware of what she was attempting by the way he moved his blade in response. It had been a long time since he had fallen for one of her tricks. Round and round they danced, blocking and swinging with such furor that the forest rang with the sounds of their blades clashing. Galena could feel her muscles begin to burn with each swing and block. Sweat trickled down her brow and into her eyes. With one final blow aimed at Galena’s side, which she blocked easily, Elenio collapsed to the ground breathing heavily, his brows furrowed in an angry look and his mouth tipped into a frown.
“I told you... I would win...” Galena gasped.
Elenio waved his hand at her in response, clearly dismissing the very idea.
Chuckling, Galena sat beside him, still trying to catch her breath. She jerked her hand up from the sharp, crunchy blades and tried to wipe away the feeling of it on her leggings. She disliked the feel of the dead, brown grass beneath her, but lay back nonetheless, careful to keep her skin from touching it. It reminded her of everything wrong in their dying world. Closing her eyes and tilting her head toward the sun, she focused on the animals and insects surrounding her as she regained her breath. The frogs and locusts had settled down, retreating to their cool homes to find relief from the hot sun. The birds had even stopped their twittering, a sure sign that today would be absolutely miserable with heat.
“Why did he start training you so early?”
“What?” Galena asked, feeling slightly confused with the shift in the conversation.
“Just something that I’ve been thinking about.”
“What are you talking about?” Galena asked, feeling slightly annoyed now. She sat up on her elbows and stared at Elenio until she noticed him squirming.
“Why did your father start training you at the age of five when everyone else had started in their teens?” Elenio asked, plucking a piece of grass and tossing it at her with a silly grin on his face.
“Feeling bad about being beaten again?” Galena asked, grinning saucily up at him.
“You haven’t beaten me in the last few months as you well know. Neither of us has won, it’s always been a draw.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Galena said smirking.
Elenio scowled, grabbing fistfuls of grass now, but tossed them to the other side, ignoring Galena altogether. “So, what’s the deal?”
“Father said something along the lines of Mira visiting him in a dream and he felt that he should start training me immediately. I don’t know, it didn’t make a lot of sense to me at the time and I really haven’t thought about it since,” she said, swatting a pesky fly from her face.