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The Sands of Time

A Sketch of Irondune

Here follows the account of Lucien Thaddeus Kaine,
son of General Thaddeus Byron Kaine
and Lady Elizabeth Anne Mistrom Kaine,
heir of the Mistrom fortune and lands
and the desert fortress of Irondune.

1

it's the rain that I hear coming
not a stranger or a ghost...

Time: October 1988, Lucien's ninth birthday
Place: Mistrom Estate in Yorkshire, England
 

On his son's ninth birthday, General Thaddeus Kaine had refused to cancel Lucien's lessons. After he had finished his studies with his tutors, the general even joined the boy and his fencing instructor, Duncan McClure, for the day's session.

Duncan, a twenty-two year old Scotsman, was one of the youngest of Kaine's men but a skilled swordsman. He had been training Lucien in fencing for the past few months. The boy was still a very unwilling student, though he seemed to have warmed up to his kind instructor.

His reaction to his father joining today's lesson, however, was quite cold indeed. Lucien stood beside the training floor and refused to pick up his mask or put on his jacket. His foil lay untouched on the equipment table. Thaddeus ordered the boy three times to put on his equipment and pick up his weapon, but Lucien neither moved nor spoke. He felt absolutely no desire to fence in front of his father on his birthday or any day.

"McClure," the general ordered, "leave us." The young man did as he was told, though hesitantly, and left the two alone, pulling the double doors closed behind him. Thaddeus turned back to his son. "Pick it up," he barked, pointing to the boy's practice foil. Once again, Lucien refused to acknowledge his father's command.

Thaddeus stepped over to the table, pushing the practice foils aside in search of a blade without a safety tip on the end. Finding two, the man marched over to his son and pushed one into his hand. Lucien took it, noticing the pointed tip. He had never fought with a sharp weapon before.

For a moment, Thaddeus thought he had succeeded, but then the general watched the foil fall uselessly to his son's side. "Hold it up," he commanded harshly. Lucien didn't move, not so much out of stubbornness now as out of fear.

"Defend yourself, boy!" The general lunged forward, feigned a blow to try to get his son to raise his blade. Lucien did so, but his movement was slow and hesitant. The general shook his head. "That'll get you killed in a real fight."

Finally, the boy spoke up. "I don't want to fight," he said. His eyes met his father's, but his voice quivered slightly as he spoke. This only seemed to anger his father more. "Strike! Strike me or I will strike you!"

Lucien shook his head, taking a small step back and letting the tip of his blade drop toward the floor again. This was the last straw for an already frustrated father. The general lashed out in an attempt to force his son into action, but before he knew what had happened, Lucien had stepped unexpectedly to the side. Thaddeus felt the tip of his foil impact flesh.

Lucien cried out, and his foil clattered loudly on the floor. Thaddeus drew back and froze, then dropped his own blade. He seemed shocked by what had just happened—the feeling of his blade piercing his own son's flesh, the sight of the boy kneeling on the floor and clutching the wound where the steel had torn through his shirt—but he did not make any attempt to approach Lucien or comfort him.

Duncan McClure had apparently remained just outside the practice room because the doors burst open at the sound of his young master's cry. Duncan looked in horror at the sight before him. He bound past the general, refusing to glance at the man's eyes, which were still focused impassively on his injured son.

Lucien held his side and squeezed his eyes shut in pain. Then he heard Duncan's voice speaking in a Scottish accent, asking what had happened. Lucien did not answer, instead looking up toward his father. The general's gaze shifted from Lucien to Duncan as if issuing the soldier a silent command, and then the man turned on his heel and strode out of the room. Lucien squeezed his eyes shut again. He felt Duncan's arms around him. "No, I'm okay," he muttered.

Ignoring Lucien's protests, the Scotsman scooped the boy up, carried him to his room, and went to fetch the healer. Lucien did not remember Duncan returning with the healer or his worried mother rushing in. But he never forgot the fact that his father did not come to see him or apologize. In fact, the whole incident was never mentioned in the general's company again.

...it's the quiet of a storm approaching
that I fear the most

Hakim, a Mysterious Man of the Desert

2

making belive that if there's a sandstorm
you'll come and rescue me

Time: August 1989, during Lucien's first year at Irondune
Place: the Sahara desert near Castle Irondune, Algeria
 
Castle Irondune had quickly lost its thrill, and nine-year-old Lucien began to feel out of place and alone. The long dark hallways and high-domed rooms were either completely deserted or teeming with soldiers far too busy and unsympathetic to pay any attention to Lucien. His father was particularly good at ignoring him, it seemed.

General Kaine set up his son's schedule of tutoring and training and then left him alone to follow it. An early breakfast alone in a side room, not in the mess hall where the men ate. Then hand-to-hand combat. Next, tutors for Ancient Runes, Charms, History, Potions, Transfiguration, an hour with each. Then lunch, again alone. Fencing with Duncan McClure, the high point of the day if it could be said to have one. Then the low point, two hours with a Dark Arts teacher named Erasmus Sartorius.

That is why it was after his fencing lesson that Lucien planned to run away. It wasn't his intention to leave and not come back. Where would he go? Irondune was in the middle of the Sahara, surrounded by rocky outcroppings and sandy dunes. But he wanted to explore the area, even if he didn't go far. And he wanted to see if his father would even miss him. Of course, this was no test of that since Sartorius would be sure to let the general know when his student did not show.

It wasn't hard to slip out of the castle since no one paid any attention to the general's boy. Once out the side door, he didn't stop running until he was safely behind a low crest of rough stone protruding from the ground several hundred meters from the castle. He looked back at Irondune for a few minutes. Lucien hated it already. He hated the sharpness of the metal spires atop its peaks, the darkness of its iron walls against the pale landscape. Most of all, he hated that this was a prison for him. Turning away from the castle, Lucien began his march over the rocky hill toward the sands beyond.

The boy noticed that the wind was not as harsh as it had been every day since he had arrived. A strange stillness had fallen over the landscape. As he made his way over the sands, he felt calmed by the beauty and novelty of the desert. It seemed the complete opposite of his childhood home near York.

Lucien quickly lost track of time—and of where he was. He didn't realize he was lost until the wind picked up and he considered going back. A dry dusty haze was shrouding the sun, and the boy looked with horror on the wall of swirling sands on the horizon. He ran toward the nearest rock outcropping, hoping for some shelter. Already dust was swirling around him.

The sunlight filtering through the thickening storm cast a blood-red light on the desert as, gasping for breath in the heavy air, Lucien dove behind the first large rock he came across. Coughing, he shielded his eyes from the sand and looked up at the storm once more. It was moving faster than he had expected, and now it was nearly upon him. He crouched down, covered his head, and squeezed his eyes shut. The roar of the wind was deafening, and the sand was stinging his face and hands. The boy knelt on the rocks and shuddered, certain that he was going to die, fearing it and yet feeling that he might be better off dead than living at Irondune.

sing a true moment, recall a trip

After what seemed like hours of wind roaring about his ears and sand scratching at his skin, though it was really only a matter of minutes, Lucien thought he felt the weight of a hand on his shoulder. The wind suddenly ceased, and all was silent and still. Lucien cautiously opened his eyes. A stranger knelt beside him. He wore long robes and a turban. His skin was a deep rich color and his eyes dark brown.

All around the two, the sandstorm raged on, but the man had cast a shield spell forming a ring of safety. Within its calm, the sand was slowly falling to the ground. Lucien vaguely realized that it had, in fact, begun to drift over him as he knelt there, already covering his feet and calves.

"Sho ismak?" the man asked.

Fortunately, this was one of the first Arabic phrases Lucien had learned upon coming to Algeria, and 
he answered in a weak rasping voice. "My name is Lucien." He coughed and said, "Please, help me." Then, somehow, the boy's weary mind recalled the phrase in Arabic. "Min fadlak," he pleaded softly, "sa'adni."

Rising to his feet, the man said something Lucien did not know, bent down, and lifted the boy with surprisingly strong arms. "You are safe now," he whispered, his heavily accented voice low and soothing. And though he was not a trusting sort, Lucien believed him. He laid his head on the man's shoulder, and everything faded to black.

help me find my way back to the waking world

Drifting in and out of a troubled sleep, Lucien vaguely recalled the sensation of being carried in the man's arms. He heard the roar of the wind no more, but at one point he was sure he heard a girl's voice, delicate and lyrical. She spoke French, but he could not make out the words. Then the smooth melody of a violin somewhere in the distance glided through his fragmented dreams. Several times, Lucien cried out in his sleep, perhaps dreaming of the horror of the storm—he could not remember afterward. The man was there each time, speaking in low comforting tones, though his words were foreign to the boy.

Lucien finally fell into a deep slumber. When he woke, he found himself lying on a soft bed. The dust had been washed from his face, and his cuts and scrapes were cleaned as well. The boy lifted his head with some effort and studied the room in which he lay.

The desert wizard Lucien recognized as his rescuer appeared in the doorway then, crossed the room, and leaned over his bed. "You feel better now?" he asked in French with a heavy Arabic accent.

Lucien nodded. "Where am I?" he asked, using French like the Algerian.

"You are in my home near a small oasis village called Nun."

The boy tried to sit up but failed. "I was... There was a storm..." he began.

"Yes, a sandstorm. You would have died had I not found you."

Lucien was already fully aware of that fact. "Thank you," he said softly. He couldn't remember if he had mentioned his name out in the storm. "I'm Lucien Kaine," he explained. "My father is..."

"I know," the man interrupted. "The governor at Castle Irondune. General Thaddeus Kaine. I am called Hakim."

The boy nodded. "Shukran, Hakim," he said once more, his voice full of gratitude.

The old man smiled, patted the boy's hand, and asked if he was hungry. When Lucien indicated that he was, Hakim left his side for a time to prepare a meal.

Lucien felt dizzy, and the room had begun to spin. He squeezed his eyes shut and lay back once more. It was then that he recalled the strange dreams—a soft voice and distant music still echoed in his mind. And the words he had been unable to make out came to him then. A fragment that made no sense: "...mais il y a du place dans l'air et il reste de temps avant le soleil se leve..."

"but there's space in the air
and it's ages til sunrise..."

Main Hall, Irondune

3

you can't see my eyes
and they don't see yours...

Time: July 1995 (the summer before Lucien went to Hogwarts as a fifth year)
Place: Castle Irondune, Algeria

Thin clouds veiled the dusty desert sky over the fortress of Irondune, filtering the harsh sunlight into a surreal, pale sepia. Sharp metal spires impaled the sky. The main gates led into a large, circular foyer open to both floors of the castle. Stairs rose from either side of the room, meeting on a landing against the far wall, where the second floor extended beyond the foyer to the castle's private quarters. Beneath the landing, large double doors led into the main hall. The sound of clashing steel blades echoed in the stark passageways, emanating from the room.

"Tha's it," Duncan McClure said in a breathless Scottish accent as his pupil parried his attack. Though he was a good ten years younger than his opponent, Lucien was nearly as strong and skilled as the master swordsman. He lunged forward, carefully keeping his weight balanced. Duncan pushed the blade away so that it missed his side by mere centimeters.

"Well dun," Duncan commented, trying to encourage his young friend, who only grunted in response. Lucien was a little distracted, he sensed, and who could blame him? The general himself watched the duel from where he stood beside the fireplace. Thaddeus Kaine leaned against the mantle, glancing idly at the sword that hung above it. The general was a tall, hawk-faced man with steel-gray eyes as sharp as the rest of his features. He seemed only half interested in his son's lesson, and looked disapproving as Lucien was forced back a few steps.

The fifteen-year-old glanced over at his father, and, for an instant before the man turned away, unwilling to meet his son's gaze, Lucien saw the disappointment register on the general's face. The boy looked back to Duncan, gritted his teeth, grasped his sword tightly, then lunged, channeling his anger toward his opponent.

But Duncan had warned his pupil about losing his temper. Within moments, the master had relieved the boy of his weapon. As the blade spun out of reach, clattering on the hard-wood floor, the combatants stood facing each other, panting for breath. Duncan shrugged, knowing Lucien recognized his mistake. General Kaine shifted his weight, apparently ready to leave. He took a step toward the door.

But the lesson wasn't over. Lucien did something the general didn't expect. Before Duncan knew what was happening, Lucien's hand dropped to his side and drew his dagger. Thaddeus stopped dead in his tracks as Duncan tossed his sword aside and drew a dagger of his own. Lucien was upping the stakes just to get his attention!

He certainly 'as his father's temper, Duncan thought, circling slowly with his blade held ready. Or per'aps a determination of his own. But I mus'na 'arm 'im.

Impatient, Lucien lunged, not aiming to harm his trainer, but to disarm him and take him down. Duncan ducked and stepped aside at the last moment avoiding the charge entirely. Instead, Lucien nearly stumbled into his father. He stopped short, his blade still held out above his head, ready to strike. But he did not move; stunned, he stood looking into General Kaine's pitiless eyes when he felt cold steel against the back of his own neck. Thaddeus's gaze flickered from Lucien to McClure, then back again. A small, shrewd smile appeared on his stern face. Lucien's own gaze fell upon the brass studs on his father's leather jerkin.

The dagger was only there for a moment, long enough to let Lucien know he was beaten. As he heard Duncan sheathing his blade, Lucien felt suddenly mortified by his performance in front of his father. Anger rose into his dark eyes. He threw his dagger to the floor, stepped around his father, and stormed up the staircase to his left, disappearing into the corridor that led to his room.

...hear me when I say
I don't mind at all

Lucien's Room, Irondune

4

when did you fall? when was it over?

Time: August 1996 (the summer before Lucien's sixth year at Hogwarts), during Lucien’s animagus training with Hakim
Place: Hakim's house and Irondune, Alge
ria

Hakim looked up at Lucien in a way that made the boy stop talking in mid-sentence. "What is it?" Lucien asked.

Hakim replied, as he often did, with a question. "How long have you been here talking to me?"

"What?" Lucien asked.

"You have been away from Irondune too long."

With a pop, Lucien disapparated just outside the castle. His heart pounding in his chest, he raced across the sand and through the double doors into the foyer. His boots pounding on the cold stone floor, he sprinted across the room and up the staircase on the right. He paused on the landing outside his bedroom, his pulse throbbing in his head. His door was open.

From inside the room, Lucien heard the sound of someone shuffling through pieces of parchment. He charged in and saw his father bent over his desk, rifling through his belongings. Without slowing, Lucien ran at the general, slamming his shoulder into the taller man's chest. "Get out!" he screamed, livid. "Get out of my room!"

Thaddeus stumbled back, then turned and reached out to try to grasp Lucien's shoulders. He did not speak, but anger flashed in his steel-grey eyes. Lucien was pushing his father's hands away while lashing out wildly with his fists. "Get away from my things! I'll kill you! Get out!"

The general deftly kicked Lucien's feet out from under him, threw his weight forward, and pinned his son to the floor. Finally the man spoke, his cool voice full of spite. "You lied," he growled. "You said you wouldn't pursue my business anymore. You lied to me, boy!" He reached up, pulled an open notebook off Lucien's desk, and waved it in his son's face. "What," he asked, "is the meaning of this? Did you think you could defy me? Find out what I was up to? Did you think I wouldn't find out?"

Lucien did not answer. Instead, he struggled even more fiercely against his father's tight hold. "Get off me," he hissed.

Ignoring his son's demand, Thaddeus began to read a few formerly-invisible lines from the book in his hand. "21 July—Thaddeus met with Sartorius again today. That's three times now, at least from what I know. I need to find out more about this man." The general jumped down the page and read more. "30 July— Saw Sartorius in Diagon Alley today, followed him. I lost him somewhere in Knockturn Alley. I'll ask some questions there tomorrow." Thaddeus gritted his teeth and glared at Lucien before skipping to the last entry in the book, which was underlined several times. "Erasmus Sartorius is a Death Eater!"

Lucien suddenly stopped struggling, and Thaddeus fell forward into the floor. Dropping the book, the general realized that Lucien had indeed vanished. He couldn't have apparated, though, as a spell on Irondune prevented apparition within its walls. An instant later, the general heard a flutter of wings at the door, but by the time he looked up, the sound was gone.

this is how you made my heart a hunter

A Fountain in the Village of Nun

5

in time I'll believe it was just an illusion
in time I'll believe it was only a dream

Time: December 1996 (Christmas break of Lucien’s sixth year at Hogwarts)
Place: Nun, Algeria (Hakim's village)

Lucien had been sitting in the solitude of Nun's garden for the last hour. The sun was shining as brightly as usual, but an almost cool breeze rustled through the fig trees that shaded the sand on which the young man sat. His sketchbook was open to a clean page, and he held his pencil as if he was just about to begin drawing. But he had appeared to be just about ready to begin for the entire hour he'd been here, and the page was still blank.

Lucien heard someone approaching from behind him but continued to stare ahead into the lush greenery of the oasis garden. He knew who it was without looking. There was something about the wise man's presence that he could sense, something almost unnoticeable, like the sound of sandals stepping softly across the dunes.

"What are you doing, Englishman?" Hakim asked in heavily-accented French.

"I'm waiting," Lucien replied.

"Waiting for what?"

This time Lucien did not answer right away. He was studying a desert sparrow that had found its way to the oasis. Its sand-colored plumes didn't seem to fit in among the lush trees and vibrant blossoms in the garden, but it didn't seem to mind so long as it could escape the harsh Sahara sun for a time.

"For inspiration."

Without looking up, Lucien could imagine Hakim furrowing his deeply-tanned brow at the answer he'd received. "Why do you wait for it?" the man asked as if Lucien's response had been completely preposterous. "Go out and find it, boy." With that, the wizard turned and started toward the marketplace, his sandaled feet stepping softly along the garden path.

Lucien turned to watch him until he turned a bend in the trail and reached the village street beyond. Then the young man scrambled to shove his pencils and book into his canvas satchel. He leapt to his feet, trying to catch up to Hakim before he was lost in the market crowd. "Ya hajj!" he called. "Istanna! Maashi wayn?" (Oi, old man! Wait! Where are you going?)

As he rounded the bend and arrived on the busy street, Lucien saw Hakim up ahead, moving into the square. "Hakim!" he called. The man stopped. Lucien dodged some passers-by and a few camels, and finally arrived at Hakim's side.

"Have you found it yet?"

"What?" Lucien looked at the wise man as if he was insane.

"Look around you, boy."

Lucien obeyed. He studied the witches and wizards mulling about the marketplace, their well-tanned skin a warm sandy color. He saw the booths with wares spread out before them on tables. More camels passed, loaded with supplies. "I don't know what I'm looking—"

It had seemed he would say more, but he trailed off instead. He was staring across the square. "Who... who is she?"

Hakim only smiled.

A tiled fountain stood on the far side of the market square. Surely the young woman sitting on its edge was the most beautiful Lucien had ever seen. She stood out among the local Arabs because of her pale skin. Her brown hair hung in loose curls past her shoulders. It draped across her delicate face as she leaned down to dip a hand into the cool water. Even in such a small, simple motion, she moved with such grace.

Lucien was instantly mesmerized by her. He did not even notice that Hakim had turned and vanished into the crowd somewhere behind him. Instead, he started across the busy square toward the fountain, his eyes fixed upon the girl as though he were in a trance. A cluster of women gossiping in Arabic crossed Lucien's path. When they had passed, the girl was looking up, her eyes studying the square. And as her gaze swept past him, Lucien felt he might melt into them.

He had almost reached the fountain now. All he had to do was ask her name and introduce himself. It wouldn't seem so strange for him to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger when they happened to be the only two foreigners in the entire village. The only two. And Hakim had known, of course. Nothing happened in Nun without the old man knowing about it. Lucien turned to glance over his shoulder, finally realizing that Hakim was no longer there. That man was indeed a mystery.

Turning back toward the fountain, Lucien stopped dead in his tracks. She was gone! "No," Luc hissed in alarm. "Where did she go?" He looked all around, but she was no where to be found. She wasn't walking away from the fountain. She had just… disappeared.

you won't find me anywhere
I've vanished in the air...

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Nun Oasis

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Desert Monitor

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Desert Lark

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Nun Oasis

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Alexandria's Violin

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