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Fayn faces Linsharra in combat and discovers the secret of the Dark Elves...
Elfsong (Part Eleven)
Book Two: Crescendo (Ch. 5)
This was the moment that changed everything. All Fayn had done up to this point had been to discover the secrets of the past; to discover the truth of her birth, and her mysterious connection to Eliyas, a dark elf from her dreams. With one word, her entire quest had just been found pointless; a complete waste of time. Eliyas, her brother, was dead.
“Dead? What do you mean dead?” Fayn shouted out at Linsharra, losing control of her emotions.
“He died over a cycle ago,” The Queen said quietly, “just a child at the time…”
Fayn was in shock, and found that she could barley breathe. Eliyas had come to her in her dreams, had asked her to find him here. He had promised to tell her everything she wanted to know. She had done everything he had asked, and now she stood here, her entire life having been destroyed, seemingly for nothing. What was she supposed to do now? Fayn was lost, and so very alone.
Queen Linsharra interrupted Fayn’s inner thoughts. “Eliyas was a very troubled youth. He had been left behind by the party from Vindros. The child was admitted through the barrier, a feat that even to this day is left a mystery. He was found by my personal Shadow Sniper Jeriah, while exploring the caverns. The child was then brought directly to me and I raised him for a number of years.”
Fayn stood motionless, listening the Queen’s story. Emotion seemed to fade away from her as realization of the staggering truth set in.
Linsharra continued. “His very presence caused an uproar among the citizens of Haven. They cried out for salvation, Eliyas being the answer to their prayers. The Prophecy had become a wide-spread hope for the masses, even to the point that children could recite it word by word. Eliyas was naturally curious, and began to try and figure out all there was to know about himself, the cradle, and the special skills he possessed.”
“Special skills?” Fayn inquired, her interest partially piqued.
“The Polar Elements.” Linsharra answered, a small smile forming on her lips. “In which he was able to tap into the living elements of his soul.”
Her words brought remembrance to Fayn, who recalled what Eliyas had told her in the Dreamscape. She could become the living elements of air and water by using the medallion he had given her. What was it he had said? The medallion allowed her to become the ‘elements of her birth.’ She was of air and water, while he was of fire and earth. Opposite polar elements of each other, twins of light and dark, born within a cradle of ice.
“So, he created the medallion to accomplish this?” Fayn wondered.
“No, the medallion was the key to the sealed door.” The queen stated matter-of-factly. “It could only be opened by uniting the two pieces of the medallion, each of which existed within the two of you. The Elders did not erect the door itself, only the barrier. The door was a mystery that Eliyas apparently figured out. The Elders' barrier was linked to the dragon, keeping us caged in.”
“The medallion was within me?” Fayn was confused by this. “It manifested from my own Dreamscape? But the Polar Elements…”
“…were always a part of you Fayn.” The Queen interrupted with emphasis. “You and Eliyas are special, which is why the Elders were targeting you I would imagine; to gain the power locked away inside you. The medallion just helped you access the power you have always had. The Polar Elements, a living manifestation of the energy that all elves, both light and dark, were born with. Both a blessing and a curse bestowed upon us by Altair himself.”
“A curse?” Fayn was trying to understand everything, but this was beyond her grasp.
Linsharra came close to Fayn and extended her arm before her. “Touch my arm girl, feel the texture of my skin.” Fayn hesitantly reached out and did as she asked, instantly surprised by what she felt. Linsharra’s skin was like granite, cold and hard. “We have come to be known as dark elves because of the color of our skin, but the truth is far more complex. Our skin is of the earth, hard and strong.”
Fayn looked down and ran her fingers across her own skin, smooth and silky, like water. She recalled the prophecy and repeated it aloud. “… ‘There shall be a division between light and dark, between nature and science, between the elements’…”
“Preciesly. The war was fought over ideologies, but was ended in a forced stalemate. Altair rebirthed the elven race into light and dark, a curse and a blessing.” Linsharra stated, a bitterness in her tone.
“So that is why the dark elves left? Exiling themselves here to start a new life?” Fayn asked in astonishment.
“We had all been changed, both light and dark far different than the original incarnation of the elves. Those of the light were quick on their feet, could glide through the air, and lived their lives with ease, like a flowing stream.” Linsharra sighed deeply, her brow coming together in consternation. “Those of the dark became heavy and hard like the earth, a constant fire burning from within, fueling the race with the flames of passion and conflict.”
Realization came over her, and Fayn was momentarily stunned. “So that would make Eliyas and I living avatar’s of the very elements. But how were we born, and more importantly, why?”
“That is what your ‘brother’ sought after, the hidden truths of his existence.” Linsharra recalled. “He began to study the antient language and runic calligraphy. He learned how to fully access his power, manifesting his medallion piece and becoming a living element at will. Not to mention other skills that he kept hidden to himself.”
Fayn listened to all this intently, but there was only one question she wanted answered. “So how is it possible that he died?”
“Quite simple really.” A dark smile was on the Queen’s lips, “I killed him myself.”
Daryn and Mari searched the streets of Haven for some sign to Fayn’s whereabouts. Daryn had a bad feeling, a growing tension welling up inside him. He was intent on finding Fayn because he knew that things were about to become a whole lot worse. He was trying to formulate a plan, something that would ease Fayn’s burden, but he was unsure of what that could be. Mari’s constant talking was not helping either.
“So, this dark elf brother died a cycle ago? He would have been just a youngling, barley coming into his youth.” Mari was analyzing the situation. “I thought Fayn said he appeared as an adult in her dreams.”
“It’s a dream Mari, he could conceivably appear however he wishes.” Daryn reminded her, his eyes scanning the city for Fayn. “Which makes me concerned as to his intentions. Why would he not tell her that he was dead? What possible reason would he have to get her here?”
Mari laughed at Daryn and shook her head. “…and they call YOU the smart one! To get her to break the barrier, open the sealed door. To free the dark elves!”
Daryn had to admit, Mari was exactly right. He was letting his feelings for Fayn blind him to what was going on in the city. Where before the city seemed deserted, suddenly there was activity everywhere he looked. Members from every clan moved about assembling their people, and gathering suplies. They all looked like they were getting ready for quite the long trip.
Seeing this made Daryn move faster; time was quickly running out. “Come on Mari, we have to find Fayn!” The two circled outward to the edge of the city, noticing the frozen lake in the distance. Daryn saw two figures standing in the middle of the lake, Fayn’s blue hair standing out in contrast to the ice. “Is that…?” Daryn thought aloud, making sure it was in fact Fayn he was seeing.
Mari confirmed it from above. “It’s our girl alright, but what the heck did she do to her hair?”
Down below Fayn was becoming angrier with every passing second. “You killed him? Why would you do that?”
Linsharra was serious as well, her usually calm demeanor replaced by a spiteful arrogance. “Eliyas’ search for answers led him down a path of risky endeavors. He began playing with ancient magics that far outclassed the power of runes. That idiot child found a way to break through the Elders barrier, a temporary move that nearly killed us all!”
“Sounds to me like he was trying to save the poor people suffering here of the cold.” Fayn countered, defending a brother she had never known. “What is so wrong with that?”
“It brought about the Ice-Winter Raid, the full wrath of Uraug and the forces of the Orc-Goblin alliance. They had traveled here from the distant desert lands of Lartannas, lying in wait to find a way through the barrier, when suddenly it was lifted right in front of their eyes.” The Queen’s expression was dark in remembrance. “Many died in the raid that followed, including children…”
“By the light of Altair…” Fayn’s anger was pushed aside by the horrific tale.
After a moment the Queen continued her story. “The Clans gathered their forces and every drop of power at their disposal to stop the armies advance. Uraug was captured by Mathius during the struggle and the barrier returned, its energy killing many caught within its radius.”
“So then, what happened to Eliyas?” Fayn asked quietly, afraid to hear the answer.
Linsharra spread her arms wide, encompassing the whole of Haven in a panoramic view. “The elves of Haven are not only divided between clans, but by class as well. This division was born when the people fought over the issue of the prophecy. Eliyas was seen as a savior to the few who needed him to be, but most were against him, and cried out for his death.”
“The arena, and those that run it…” Fayn commented to herself.
“Yes, there are factions in debate about many issues, the clans are constantly in argument. A consensus was reached, and it was my duty to carry out the deed. I executed Eliyas to stop the possibility of a civil war. I am the only one keeping Haven together, a delicate situation made more so by your sudden re-appearance.”
Up above, Daryn and Mari came to the outer edge of the lake itself. “Fayn!” Shouted Daryn in concern as he saw the Queen standing with her.
“Oh no, it’s that witch again.” Mari pointed out unnecessarily. “I really don’t like her.”
Fayn heard Daryn’s voice and glanced in his direction, but was brought back to Linsharra’s attention by a sudden movement. The Queen proceeded to unsheathe a weapon strapped to her back. It was a dual-sword blade similar to the one Fayn used in the arena. Linsharra tossed the weapon to Fayn, who easily caught it in her arms.
Fayn looked down at the weapon, awed by the detailed etchings on the handle. The blade was sturdy and surprisingly made of reinforced crystal. The handle itself was of a marble base, runic symbols carved into it. A beautiful decorative sword, but Fayn could tell it was nonetheless quite deadly.
“The weapon is called Leaf-Cutter.” The Queen explained. “The runes on the handle are used to power the crystal blade. A useful tool when going up against a user of magic.”
“This crystal…” Fayn said to herself, running her fingers down the flat of the blade.
“The Crystal Cavern lies within a nexus point of magical energies, the crystal itself containing properties that allow for absorption of that same energy. Which made the cavern a perfect place for whatever it was that birthed you into the cradle.”
“Why would you need magic absorbing weapons?” Fayn asked suspiciously.
Linsharra raised an eyebrow and smirked. “Are you always this naïve child? Weapons such as these are most suitable to effectively face an opponent wielding Song magic.”
The truth at last hit home in Fayn’s mind, the words of the prophecy ringing true. ‘Fire and earth will come together with air and water, what follows will be war, and a great calamity will rain down upon the world’. “No,” shouted Fayn, “war is not the answer!”
“You are far too late Cradle-Child.” Linsharra stated sternly. “The clans have already begun to mobilize, and soon we will at long last have our freedom.”
Fayn gripped the sword called Leaf-Cutter in her hands and made a swipe of the blades toward the Queen. “I will not allow it,” she cried out as she attacked, “Calamity must not come!”
Linsharra side-stepped, easily dodging the arc of the blade. She instantly rushed forward, grabbing Fayn by the shoulders, holding her in place. “Stupid child, clinging to prophecy.” She spat. “Do not fear calamity, for it has become an impossibility. By killing your brother, I single-handedly cut the threads of fate, and defied the whims of prophecy itself.”
Fayn struggled out of her grip and leaped backwards, her body taking up a defensive position. “What about the poor, starving citizens of Haven, who only wish for salvation instead of war?”
“No one is being forced to fight you self-righteous girl.” Linsharra snapped. “Those who choose to stay behind can do so, but they will only end up freezing to death. The Elders made sure of that when they caused Tarsus to be caught in an endless winter.”
“I did not come all this way to just sit back and watch my actions bring about the bloodshed of countless innocents.” Fayn charged forward at the Queen, waiting to strike at the last second to make a guaranteed hit. Linsharra made no move to counter or dodge, the sarcastic smile returning to her lips.
As Leaf-Cutter made contact, Fayn was shocked to find the blade forced back, reflecting off the Queen’s hard granite arms, crimson flame radiating across her skin. The impact casued Fayn to stumble backwards, catching herself. She looked up in muted surprise to see tattoos glowing all around Linsharra’s body, the ice cracking and splintering around her.
“These tattoos are not for decoration child,” the Queen explained, “they are powered runes carved into our skin, making every dark elf a living weapon of vengeance!”
“I have had quite enough of this!” Daryn said to himself in consternation from above, as he began to make his way across the expanse of the frozen lake.
Mari quickly sped towards Daryn, grabbing his shirt collar, and attempted to pull the young male elf backwards. “Oh no you don’t lover boy.” Mari grunted as she tried desperately to flutter with his weight. “Wowzers, you’re heavy!” Mari lost her grip, and as fast as she could manage, used her pixie magic to bind his feet together, causing Daryn to trip and fall on the hard ice.
Daryn hit the ground and turning to face her, screamed out in anger. “I swear, if this is your idea of a joke…”
Mari avoided his deadly gaze and pointed in Fayn’s direction to try and take the focus off of her. “Do you want a repeat of what happened in the arena?”
Daryn tried lifting himself up but kept losing his footing. “She’s in danger you skinny little brat!” He yelled out in frustration.
“You’ll only make it worse bright eyes.” Mari clapped her hands right in Daryn’s face. “She’ll be fine, that witch is playing with her, testing her. Why else would she have given Fayn a weapon like that?”
Daryn thought about her words and began to calm down. Mari was right, as much as he hated to admit it. “Be careful Fayn…” He added under his breath.
Down below, the Queen continued her explanation. “Altair’s curse gives us hearts of fire, our souls burning up quickly, giving us shorter lives as a result. Eliyas even more so, his young life accelerated as he aged rapidly, eventually becoming a boy trapped within a man’s body. His mind was limited, underdeveloped; another reason I had to take his life. So he wouldn‘t do something rash.”
Fayn shook her head in silent disagreement, but listened to the story intently, her body ready to make a move against her opponent when one presented itself.
“That same fire also fuels our emotions, a burning intensity for conflict. Our curse is perhaps our greatest weapon.” The queen unfastened the pair of curved knife blades at her sides and took her own attack position. “You wish to face me in combat? Then learn how to unleash the Polar Elements, otherwise you will never stand a sliver of a chance in defeating me.”
Linsharra leaped into the air, spinning her body mid-jump, the knife blades seemingly one with her form, matching her movements in perfect synchronicity. Fayn blocked the attack as the Queen landed, the knives slamming into Leaf-Cutter with a clang. Fayn unlatched the marble handle, separating the crystal blades of the sword and matching attack strokes with Linsharra’s knives.
Linsharra was inhumanly fast, and strong. Fayn knew she was in trouble, her limbs weak and thin compared to the granite hard musculature of the Queen. Flames danced across her skin, the rune tattoos augmenting the internal fire. Fayn could not keep up, and after a few strikes, was knocked down hard on the ground.
Linsharra kicked the two halves of Leaf-Cutter away from Fayn’s reach and smiled at her viciously. “Pathetic! Where is the ferocity you displayed in the arena? Anger is what powered you then, so get angry and face me!”
The Queen went to kick Fayn, but she rolled out of the way as Linsharra’s foot slammed into the ice. Fayn grabbed a part of Leaf-Cutter and turned to block an incoming knife strike. The knives struck the sword and Fayn noticed that the blade began to pulsate, an array of colors reflecting within the crystal like a prism.
Fayn realized what she had to do. She reached out and grabbed the other crystal blade, using it push Linsharra back. She quickly sprang up and reattached the twin blades of Leaf-Cutter. She came in to make a wide swipe at the Queen, but feinted the attack, confusing Linsharra just long enough to come close and strike the blunt end of the blade against one of her rune tattoos.
As the crystal sword touched the rune, its magic energy was instantly absorbed into the blade, sapping Linsharra of her power. The Queen smiled as she leaped backwards away from Fayn. “Very good child, you are learning.”
Without another word Linsharra ran forward, her blades hungering for blood. Fayn closed her eyes and concentrated, clearing her mind of distractions. There came a cascade of images from the recesses of her memories. Fayn grabbed hold of one in particular, the one that gave her a strong sense of tranquility and peace. “Daryn.” She breathed out softly.
From up above the lake, Daryn watched with growing anxiety. He hated sitting on the sidelines, the love of his life caught in mortal danger. He watched helplessly as Linsharra ran at Fayn, about to make the killing stroke. “Fayn!” He screamed.
The knife blades sliced through Fayn’s chest, but to the astonishment of all present, only connected with…water! Fayn had become a living element, her body phasing into water form, the knives passing harmlessly through. Linsharra raised an eyebrow as the water swirled around, Fayn reappearing right behind the Queen. She grabbed her arms and held Linsharra in place with Leaf-Cutter.
“You were wrong, anger is not the answer.” Fayn whispered into the Queen’s ear. “I wasn’t angry in the arena, just focused, my mind devoid of emotion. I am able to access the Polar Elements by clearing my mind of obstructions. Like when a pebble is dropped into water, causing a ripple on the surface. The ripple spreads outward, but the water returns to its original state, calm and focused.”
“What are you blabbing about girl?” Linsharra shot out in irritation.
“Opposite elemental triggers. The flames of anger give rise to your strength, mine flows from the tranquility of memory, like a placid stream.” Fayn relaxed her grip slightly. “End this war, while you still can.”
Linsharra laughed and sighed. “Silly girl, you think that just because you managed to become a living element without assistance of the medallion, that you have me beat?” The Queen pushed Fayn backwards full force, using her weight to topple her, causing Fayn to take the brunt of the fall. Linsharra back flipped off of Fayn, standing now above her.
“It was an impressive display of talent my dear, but it’s not nearly enough to defeat me.” Linsharra continued berating Fayn, who lied prone on the ice. “I was just testing you, evaluating your skill. I thought perhaps, that I could use you, but you are not ready. Do not stand in my way, or in the way of my war. I killed one Cradle-Child, I won’t hesitate to kill another.”
The Queen of the dark elves regally sauntered off, leaving Fayn with the sting of her words. Daryn and Mari came running over to her position. Mari stuck her tongue out at the queens backside as Daryn reached out to Fayn. “Are you alright?”
Fayn started to lift herself up off the ground. “I’m fine Daryn.”
“Here, let me help you.” Daryn suggested, reaching his arms out to assist her.
“I said I was fine!” Fayn snapped, stalking off, leaving Daryn behind to stare after her.
“Fayn…” Daryn started, hanging his head in frustration. “…damn it all!”
Mari fluttered near and crossed her legs in mid-air at Daryn’s side. She watched Fayn walk away in the distance. “Man-oh-man, does this day keep getting worse.” She looked over at Daryn. “Seriously though, what is up with her hair?”
Daryn scoffed at her and stormed away in disgust. “Mari, please…”
“What?“ Mari crossed her arms and huffed in hurt pride. “Everyone’s a critic!”
Galdriel and Aurora made their way through the twisting vistas of the Dreamscape. The mysterious song continued to get louder, more distinct. The twin moons on the horizon seemed to be getting closer together, aligning with each other. The former Song-Priestess noticed that the half moons were perfect compliments of one another. One was light, the other dark, and as they came together the song raised in volume.
Aurora led Galdriel at an even pace, the creature never straying from his path. The feeling of uneasiness, of someone watching her returned. She also couldn’t quite place it, but she felt like she had been here before, even though that was quite impossible. Something about the nature of the energy in the air reminded her of something that she just couldn’t remember clearly.
Suddenly Aurora stopped, the unicorn’s horn radiating golden light. The creature swiveled his head and peered behind them, huffing and clacking his hooves on the ground. Galdriel darted her eyes to and fro to see if she could discover what was agitating the unicorn.
Stepping out from behind an oak tree was a dark elf with fire red hair and amber eyes. “Eliyas, I presume?” Galdriel asked, her hand out in respectful greeting.
“The pleasure is all mine honored Song Priestess.” came the gravel-like mind-speak. “Welcome to the Dreamscape.”
Galdriel looked at Aurora and then back at Eliyas. “I assume that you were the one who brought me here?”
“That is correct Galdriel.” Eliyas smiled, his amber eyes gleaming. “Together we shall turn dreams into reality.”
“Oh, this just will not do!” Galdriel said to herself…
To Be Continued......
|Elfsong Part 12||Elfsong Part 23|
|Elfsong Part 15||Elfsong Part 5|
|Elfsong Part 14||Baptism of Fire Part 1|