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The war may be over, but the struggle continues, as Fayn must face the Elders of Elleron in the aftermath of Calamity...
ELFSONG (Part Sixteen)
Book Three: Requiem (Ch. 4)
The world exploded around her as Fayn was caught within a white nothingness. The destruction of Altair’s Heart resulted in a massive blast that spread across the whole of Vindros Forest. The sound of the explosion was deafening, and Fayn felt as if she was moving in slow-motion. Faint images appeared before her without rhyme or reason, but when placed together held a deeper meaning that she could not fathom.
She watched as the images played out before her, dancing across her vision like a well choreographed performance. The flow of the Song Stream, twin moons, a golden-horned unicorn, crystal caves, a cradle of ice. As the images faded away she could now hear what sounded like a whisper. The sound became louder and louder and she was able to make out the words.
“Calamity…Vindros…Song…” Came the voices as the white nothingness receded, the world shifting back into focus. The first image that was visible was the sky, where the twin moons now drifted apart, the crimson light now fading into a black, star covered expanse. The Song was no longer present, its flow destroyed along with the Heart, and with it the Lunar Concert.
As the forest came into view, Fayn’s eyes widened in horror. Before her stood a barren landscape, devoid of life, the trees having withered and turned into so much ash. The ground was now cracked and dry, the streams and rivers dried up. Even the air was still, devoid of even a gentle breeze. Everywhere Fayn looked there was devastation and death.
Then came the sounds of crying, as light elves across the battlefield fell to their knees in fits of tortured agony. The absence of the Song was now affecting the hearts and minds of the elves of Elleron, who have never lived without its flow. The same dead-weight feeling Fayn had felt within the caverns of Tarsus. The emptiness was still overwhelming the second time around, and she had to struggle not to lose herself in hopelessness.
A rush of voices assaulted her, and she couldn’t quite make out who was saying what. Fayn could see the majority of the elves, both light and dark, stuck in the same daze she was experiencing. Everyone present must have seen the same images she had, the entire race attempting to process the staggering revelations before them. Fayn had fulfilled the Prophecy, bringing forth the dreaded Calamity after all.
“What…what have I done?” She whispered in a voice that sounded alien to her.
Fayn watched as events took place around her. Mayra sat curled into a ball gripping her head in agony, while Linsharra stood unmoving, her thoughts hidden. Mathius and Jeriah had returned to her side, just as stunned as the rest of the dark elves. Elder Ylena lifted herself off the ground, gripping at her injured shoulder, while Brion stepped closer.
“You have ruined everything,” seethed the Elder in barley contained anger, “the Concert is over, the Ritual left incomplete. Our curse lies unending, and thanks to you, all of Vindros is no more.”
“The forest,” Fayn spoke out to the Elder, “what happened?”
“Vindros forest was but an illusion made real by the power of the Heart.” Brion waved his bony hands in an arc, encompassing the whole of the now barren landscape. “Without the Heart, and without the flow of the Song, Vindros has returned to its original state.”
Daryn rushed over to Fayn and kneeled beside her. “Are you saying the forest was destroyed during the first Ritual?” Daryn wrapped his arms around Fayn protectively. “When Altair was created?”
“Precisely!” Brion responded, his anger subdued, replaced by a melancholy sadness. “The Ritual of Transcendence was unstable, the energies of the mind-meld tore apart the forest, and left us with this curse.”
“Fayn!” came Mari’s voice, an unusual tinge of fear in her tone. “Something’s wrong. I don’t feel so good…” Fayn watched as the rainbow faerie drifted down through the air and landed near her legs, her wings withering away and her pixie dust trail evaporating.
Fayn picked her up and held Mari in her hands, tears in her silver eyes. “Oh Mari, speak to me, please say something, anything.”
It was then that Fayn realized what was happening across the battlefield. Daryn gasped beside her as the assembled fae all began to fall. Faeries fell where they fluttered, the nymphs began to wither and die, and the other fae became sick and disoriented where they stood.
“Without the innate magic of the forest, the fae cannot survive.” Explained Daryn sadly as he rubbed his temples in frustration.
“Oh no, Mari!” Fayn broke out in fits of sobbing, Mari comatose in her arms.
“You fools brought this upon yourselves.” Admonished Elder Brion. “Our spell held together Vindros, kept it alive, the Song itself acting as a lifeline for all. What we did was done to bring peace to this land.”
“No, what you did was to assure your own dominance, so when the time came you had the resources to transcend without issue.” Fayn handed Mari over to Daryn and then stood up to challenge the Elder, her fists clenched. “All for me, for this power trapped within me!”
Elder Brion gave her a wicked snarl, veins visible across his bald head. “You have denied us release from our dark curse, godhood forever beyond our reach.” He extended his hand towards her, black force seeping from his fingernails. “I will rip that power from your body with my bare hands if I have to.”
“Not so fast dear Elder.” Spoke a gravel-like voice, echoing in the minds of all present. Everyone turned to see who spoke, only to find the former Priestess Galdriel standing before them. There were gasps and murmurs throughout the assemblage, but none so heavy as that of the silent Elder Kalan. He stood in complete shock, unable to move as the scene played out in front of him.
“Galdriel? Impossible!” Elder Brion stammered out, completely taken back by the sudden intervention. “How many times must you die?”
Fayn rushed over to her former mentor with a smile on her face and tears in her eyes. “Galdriel, you’re alive, you found a way back to your body.” Fayn wrapped her arms around the Priestess.
“Galdriel is not here right now.” The words came from her lips, but the voice was not Galdriel’s. It was familiar however, and hearing it made Fayn instinctively back away, a look of horror strewn across her face.
“Brother!” Fayn exclaimed loudly enough for all to hear. “Is that you?”
Daryn held Mari’s limp form in his hands as he watched. “Eliyas.” He noted to himself.
Queen Linsharra sighed, and grew tense. “The other Cradle-Child.”
Eliyas, moving within Galdriel’s body, turned to face Brion. “Elders of Elleron, you have been judged and found wanting. You are accused of conspiracy and murder in the highest degree. I will now carry out your execution.”
Brion sneered at him, his eyes bleeding dark force. “The Song is no more you miscreant, you cannot stand up to me and my wraith.” The Elder began to summon his Shadow Wraith for battle.
Eliyas smiled darkly, the vindictive look alien to Galdriel’s features. “I do not need that falsehood to take you on Elder. I wield the Polar Elements of fire and earth.” The Priestess’ body erupted into flame, the burning fire encircling him. “Allow me to release you from your curse, for even an immortal can die!” He shot forward in flame-form and struck Brion directly, engulfing not only the Elder, but his wraith as well.
Brion screamed in pain as his body disintegrated before the masses. Fayn and Daryn couldn’t believe their eyes, waiting to see what happened next. Linsharra and her men stood silent, the Queen watching Eliyas with newfound interest. Elder Kalan shook beneath his gray robes, emotion contorting his stoic features, while Ylena just grew impatient.
“This shall not stand, you self-righteous boy.” Yelled out Ylena in furious tones. “I will kill you myself.” The Elder began to summon her own Shadow Wraith, when a shout cut off her concentration. “Your death Elder…belongs to me.” came a broken voice filled with hate. Ylena turned her head to see Mayra holding herself up, blood dripping down her face from the slash mark she received from Linsharra’s attack. She ran forward like a mad woman, her eyes bloodshot and wide with rage.
“Mayra stop!” Fayn went forward to stop her, but an arm hard as stone blocked her path.
“Let it be Cradle-Child,” Linsharra said coldly, her eyes filled with fierce indignation. “This moment is hers, do not take it away from her.”
Ylena was caught off guard and had no time to ready a defensive spell as Mayra came in close and tore the bolt from her shoulder. The Elder was then forcefully grabbed by the Song Priestess as Mayra looked directly into her hollow eyes.
“I am no one’s puppet!” Mayra whispered into her ear as she gripped the crossbow bolt tight and shoved it into Ylena’s chest, directly striking her heart. The Elder’s eyes glazed over as death overtook her.
Mayra let Ylena’s dead body fall to the ground and stood almost motionless as she stared at her shaking hands, the crossbow bolt covered in black blood. She dropped the bolt and fell to her knees in shame. Eliyas shook his head in satisfaction and peered over at the last remaining Elder, Kalan. The silent one stood aloof to the side, watching the death of his peers without emotion. He could not keep his eyes off the body of Galdriel, the woman that he loved, the woman that he murdered.
Eliyas closed his eyes and chuckled, turning away from Kalan. “You have your life Elder. I can see you already suffer enough, death would only be a comfort.”
“Eliyas, just what pray tell are you doing here?” Linsharra asked him in a scolding tone.
“My Queen.” Eliyas saluted her mockingly. “Where does the time go? When was the last time I saw you?” His eyes met her own and the two stood staring at each other. “Oh yes, when you killed me!”
Linsharra lowered her head and dropped her knife blades, the weapons clanging on the barren soil. “I took no joy in your death my child, I was duty bound to carry out your sentence.”
“It matters not, what’s done is done.” Eliyas turned coldly away from her, a far greater sting to the Queen then if he had shown anger, for it meant he no longer cared. The innocent boy she knew was gone, replaced by someone else entirely.
“Brother, tell me please. Where is Galdriel? What are you doing here? What is this power I hold, and why am I here?” Fayn blurted out her questions, desperate to finally know the truth.
“If you want to know all there is to know, then follow me...” He turned without a response and made his way from the battlefield towards his destination. “…to where it all began…” He quietly said as he disappeared into the foliage.
“Brother, wait!” Fayn cried out, rushing after him.
“Hold!” Came a strong, husky voice from behind. Everyone turned and was surprised to see that it was Elder Kalan who spoke. “You must be cautious Fayn Brightwind. Eliyas heads for the Wellspring.”
“You…you can speak.” Fayn stammered out in shock.
“I am now breaking my vow of silence to reveal to you the truth of all this.” Kalan began. “To give you a better understanding of the events that led us here.”
“Alright, I’m listening…” Fayn said, kneeling down next to Daryn and Mari. Daryn looked over at her and the two exchanged silent glances, both ready to face what was to come. Linsharra scoffed and crossed her arms over her chest. The battlefield was dead silent as the Elder spoke.
Kalan began his tale, his eyes unfocused, recalling centuries of memory. “In the beginning there was a race of Elves that came to live here in Vindros called the Elleron. Your village was named after them. Their centuries long peace was shattered by a growing discontent, fueled by scientific endeavors. A number of the Elleron wished to go beyond nature and focus on the advancement of science and technology. This division led to a bitter civil war.
“In order to prevent further bloodshed, the leaders of society found a solution. They would merge the minds of the people into one whole being, transcending this plane of existence to become a god. The Elves hoped that it would lead to a paradise in the realm of gods where war did not exist. They waited for the moons to align and used the heightened energy to perform the Ritual of Transcendence.
“The Ritual was a success, for their combined consciousness became Altair, the first one. But tragedy followed, as the resulting backlash of energies obliterated all of Vindros. Brion, Ylena, and myself were the only ones who chose to stay behind during the ascension, in order to bear witness to the spectacle. We attempted to control the dark force energy that was created from the fallout and instead fell victim to it.
“Creation cannot exist without destruction. Dark Force balances out the energy of creation; direct opposing forces. This dark energy permeated our beings, and we were cursed with immortality. The darkness altered our forms, and gave us access to black magic. The shadow-wraiths are only a small taste of the dark power we wielded. This power was not a blessing, but a curse.
“Altair witnessed this effect of his creation, and filled with guilt and sadness, decided to re-create the elven race. He used his power to separate the races based on ideology into two forms; one light, one dark, divided by the Polar Elements.
“We Elders found that the dark force that we absorbed ate at us like a cancer. Seeing Altair as a danger, we decided it was our duty to eliminate the threat and stop such power from spreading. Weakened from the creation of the dual races, Altair came to rest within the ancient temple of the Font that lies beneath the Wellspring. We used our new power to subdue and murder Altair, murder a god.
“In our misguided folly we used a complex dark force spell to tear apart Altair’s being. The god’s consciousness, that being the collected souls of the Elleron, were used in conjunction with the Heart to create the Elf-Song, and thru its flow, restore Vindros forest to life. The Song became part of the Elves, and in turn was used as the basis for a religion we set up to give the people a purpose.
“The Dark Elves rebelled against this new order and chose to exile themselves from Vindros. They journeyed to Tarsus to find their own way. The Choir was put together, and we set ourselves up as their leaders, shepherding this new race as our own. At that time, we believed that what we had done was in the better interest of the people.
“Time and circumstance; however, changed us. To keep our immortality, and stop the spread of the dark curse that now affected us, we had to absorb soul energy . The Song-Stream had an infinite number of souls to devour, each body who passed adding their soul through the Ceremony of Passing. We used our black magic to feed on these souls to keep the dark force from taking over.
“We lost our way through the centuries, made worse by the discovery of Altair’s Prophecy. We had discovered the parchment and immediately closed down Sanctuary from public use. Our fear drove us into acts of conspiracy, murder, and deception. The Prophecy would destroy all we had accomplished, so we took steps to insure nothing would impede our great mission.
“To avoid the calamity to come we sealed off the Tarsus Mountains, insuring that the Dark Elves could never return. We also used the Heart to control each Song Priestess, in order to maintain the balance. All this was done to keep things as they were, keep our dominance and immortality in place. This peace lasted for centuries, until the day Tarsus was lit up by light.
“Fearing that the barrier had been broken, we investigated the icy mountain to find the Cradle. Within that cradle was you Fayn, you and your brother. The dark elf was left behind to die, and you were taken to be studied by us within the halls of Sanctuary. We discovered that you radiated with energy similar to that of Altair himself. The Song resonated with you strongly, and even the Heart, filled with the gods essence, reacted to your very presence.
“Through experimentation we discovered that you body was made from the elements of air and water themselves. We surmised that meant that the other child of the cradle would be your polar opposite. We could not figure out your origin, so we placed you in the care of Liana to watch over you until such a time as we could determine a use for the power you held inside.
“Upon further investigation of the ancient writings we found an answer to our dilemma. In order to cure the dark force energy that cursed our bodies, we needed to find a Vessel to house the dark energy that is generated during the Ritual of Transcendence. By ascending we could re-create ourselves, and finish what Altair started. Your body would house the merged souls and make sure the Ritual succeeded, because the power within you would be strong enough to counter the dark force.
“To accomplish this feat we had to wait for the next alignment of the twin moons to occur. It all happened so fast after that. Galdriel discovered the Prophecy, and I was then forced to take her life, the life of a woman I had grown to love from afar. On that day I took a vow of silence, and it was then that I began to see the error of our ways. That is why I allowed you to destroy the Heart, in order to end the chaos we Elders wrought.”
Kalan finished his tale and placed his hands in front of him in a show of peace. There was a moment of silence while the gathered party went over the information given to them. Fayn stepped near the Elder cautiously. “So you don’t know what I am?” Fayn asked pleadingly. “How I was born?”
“That I cannot tell you.” Kalan answered sadly. “I guess your brother would be the only one with that knowledge.”
“Do you know what Eliyas intends to do at the Wellspring?” Fayn inquired, her mind racing with newfound revelations.
“Beneath the Wellspring lies the sacred Temple of the Font. Within lies the doorway to the god realm.” Kalan peered into the sky at the now separated twin moons. “If he has learned how to access the portal, then everything we know could be in danger.” The Elder pointed at Fayn. “He must need your power to act as a key to the door.”
“Then we’re walking into a trap!” Stated Daryn in measured tones.
Fayn began to gather her equipment and strap the longbow to her back. “We have no choice in the matter. I have to end this, stop Eliyas’ plot, whatever it may be, and discover my true purpose.”
“Well you won’t be alone Fayn.” Daryn started, standing beside her. “I am with you until the end.” He stepped next to Mathius and handed Mari to him. “Please take care of her for me.”
“You have my word.” Assured the dark-elf commander. He nodded to his Queen in silent agreement, and stepped back next to Jeriah.
Linsharra picked up her knives and sheathed them at her sides. “I will come with you as well Cradle-Child. Eliyas has gone too far, he needs to be punished for his actions.”
Fayn kneeled down next to Mayra, and placed her hand on the Priestess’ shoulder. “Will you be alright?” Fayn asked quietly. “Can you stand?”
Mayra looked up at Fayn, her face blank, stained with blood. She nodded and allowed Fayn to help lift her up. “There are many here who have had their faith shattered. Truth is a powerful weapon, and the Song no longer flows within our hearts for comfort. I must stay behind to help those I can, help them cope with the fallout of this tragedy.”
“I understand Priestess.” Fayn bowed respectively. “I will do what I can to make sure no one else has to suffer. I truly am sorry Mayra.”
Mayra gave Fayn a silent nod of acceptance and made her way through the devastation. Fayn watched her walk off in sadness and sighed. Daryn came up next to her and gave her a reassuring smile. “We will get through this, I promise you that."
The two lovers stepped up next to Linsharra and Kalan, ready to depart. The Elder turned and began to make his way towards the Wellspring. “Follow me then, we now go to face the final truth…”
Eliyas stepped up to the edges of the Wellspring. With the illusion spell no longer in effect, the spring was now only an empty well. At the bottom of the spring was a tunnel that led deeper underground, connected to the cavernous catacombs surrounding the area. Eliyas walked down the incline and made his way through the tunnel.
At the far end lied a marble door, sealed by a rune spell. Eliyas smiled, and raising his hand, drew a rune sigil in the air. The spell on the door was broken, and he was now able to enter without a problem. He had learned all there was to know about rune magic while studying with the dark elves of Haven.
Within the chamber was a circular platform, and in its center was a dais. On the dais was engraved the symbols of the four elements. In the center of this was the ancient symbol of creation, a sun covered on either side by crescent moons. Eliyas ran his fingers along the impressions on the dais and smiled, having waited for this moment for over a hundred years.
“At long last, the doors to creation will open, and be mine to control.” Eliyas whispered to himself, his voice softly echoing off the walls of the chamber. “I will undo it all!”
Just then there was a flash of light from behind him. Eliyas turned around slowly and covered his eyes to block out the radiance. Standing in front of him was the unicorn Aurora, the creatures horn lighting up the temple with golden brilliance. The unicorn’s eyes gleamed with intelligence, as the creature stood in direct defiance to Eliyas.
Eliyas sneered at the unicorn, contorting Galdriel’s pristine features in an ugly scowl. “You are far too late! My plan has been in place for over a decade. Soon the doorway to the Font will open, and all you know will vanish. You can’t stop me now Aurora, or should I say…Altair!”
To Be Continued……
|Elfsong Part 3||Syrus: Survivors|
|Elfsong Part 17||Elfsong Part 15|
|Elfsong Part 4|