The Last Herald of Tzalin

Long, long ago, the Tzalin King still ruled from Tzalmir and sent his heralds throughout the Land to act as his voice and representative of his will. The heralds of Tzalin were said to be linked by the Master of Heralds and through him to know the will of the King. Now the Tzalin King at this time was Rashir and his Master of Heralds was the snowy-haired bard Loran al'Danath, the Songweaver, who had carried off the flower of Ithrya in his youth. Loran was descended from the first Herald, Tiron the gentle, and his only child was his daughter, Ilan -- the Last Herald of Tzalin.

Ilan was born just into the new year in the three thousandth year since the beginning of Time, and some say that the King and the Court extended the celebration of the New Year, so great was the joy of Mirelle and Loran at finally having a child of their own. Indeed, there was a great celebration in her honor, and many nobles of the Land came to bestow their name day gifts upon the child. The Red Duke, Aleksandr d'Ithyra, brother to Mirelle, gave her a finely jewelled music box said to have come from Siarl itself -- not empty in those days. King Bertram the fourth of Aris sent an elaborate harp from Ro Palis and a wish that her songs be as successful as her father's. Even the three year old Prince Thamil gave Ilan a gift -- a snow-white cloud swift from far-off Mounch -- and it may well be that he won her heart that very day...

As the years passed, Ilan grew in grace and beauty, and with her golden voice and gentle manner became beloved of all in the Court of Tzalmir, but none so much as Prince Thamil. And Thamil was well loved by Ilan too -- indeed, the two could not seem to bear to parted overlong. And so it was that some seventeen years later that King Rashir announced the betrothal of Thamil and Ilan at the New Year's festival in Tzalmir, and in the Court of the High King there was great rejoicing.

Alas, it did not last over long, for within that very month the army of Ghoras the Usurper took the city of Tzalmir by surprise, slaying the Tzalins and the Heralds and, indeed, much of the Court of Tzalmir the same day. It is said that Thamil was slain before Ilan's very eyes and that when he died, her heart was torn with grief and she died as well. And the cloud swift that Thamil had given Ilan at her birth let out a mournful wail that could be heard through the city as it streaked towards the blood-red sun (and ever since then, the only cloud swifts to be found anywhere are tinged with red). Thus it was that the last Tzalin and the last Herald met their doom at the hands of Ghoras and the first Lord General Akkat. Over the years, Ghoras and his Lord Generals went on to conquer nearly the entire Land.

But that is another story...

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