Darkest Star, Brightest Shadow

There are some times in life where even the brightest of stars can become so dark and corrupt, that they are unstoppable. It is at this time of peril that a nobody, an insignificant little shadow, must step up to face the enemy. Umbra. Umbra must step up, and become the brightest of all shadows...

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18. Elven capital

Umbra felt the air stream through his hair as the golden sun rose in the distance. They were headed to the elven capital - Elteras. Carnelian had explained to them what had happened in the two weeks that they had been in the forrest. Goblins had managed to invade Terragon. Then, shortly after, they had headed for Shegeira. Carnalian, who had been staying in the village, waiting for Thorn and Umbra, had helped just under half the village escape before the goblins arrived. He had taken them into the mountains, where he knew of hidden caverns that the villagers could stay at. Carnelian, knowing that Thorn was true to her word, had then returned to the deserted inn, and waited. He had remained unfound by goblins - somehow. And then, after Carnelian had told him this, he had said that the barrier surrounding them had been put up by the son of the warrior who had taken over the title of king. The warrior who had killed the king, the princess and most of the servants.

 

The one from Umbra's dream.

 

He was still learning to accept this. So many shocks in just a few days. He was the Protector. His friends, like him, were living legends. Goblins had taken his village. His dream was real. Of all of these, the last was the scariest. How come he could see this? How come he had seen the fearsome warrior who had, alone, taken the royal's castle over as if it were nothing? Thorn, sitting behind him, was at least some comfort in a vast ocean of unhappiness. She had been reassuring him all night. Zephyr had been soothing him as well. But Thorn's voice was so familiarly relaxing that it was her who had stopped his quaking, his uncontrolled shivering and trembling. But he was still afraid. A huge forrest was spread out below them, stretching as far as Umbra could see. It was beautiful. Filled with pure streams, glistening lakes, delicate plants and emerald leaves, the forrest here was far more beautiful than the one at Shegeira. Thinking of his village made his heart pang. He was probably never going to see it again. Carnelian had warned him that this quest to find mighty people to confront the uprising would be dangerous. He was probably going to die. Umbra spotted a huge tree in the distance.

"Thats Eltaras." Thorn called above the wind. "City of the elves. The buildings here are made of hollowed trees instead of stone. That huge tree is basically like the castle. The royals live there, but it's also home to all the winged elven mounts. Carnelian let me see the royal's tree. He's a friend of the elven prince." Umbra just nodded, feeling Zephyr's excitement. As they pulled closer, Umbra could make out tall, slender figures walking around the elven 'city', their feet padding softly on the fresh, emerald grass. Some of the figures were standing and pointing at them. Three emerald dragons took to the skies and headed towards them, their beautiful wings glistening in the rising sun.

"Carnelian," the elven riders, clad in silver armour, called out. "These are friends?"

"Indeed! We request your permission to land on the royal tree." he called back, his voice seeming demanding, yet also pleading at the same time. The elven riders murmured to each other. Then, the middle rider called back,

"You may indeed, Carnelian. The prince has been awaiting your return." Carnelian bowed his head, and steered Inferno down to the royal tree. Zephyr followed, Umbra looking closely at the city below him. The elves were all looking up at them, their glinting eyes excited. The emerald dragons flanked them, just to make sure that they weren't going to harm Elteras in any way. As Inferno neared the tree, he slowed his flying pace, prepearing to land on a huge, leafy branch. Zephyr pulled in alongside him, landing softly on the wood. It was calming here, in Elteras. Carnelian leaped gracefully down from Inferno's back, his boots making hardly a sound on the large-scale branch. As the elf turned to help Aquila down, Silver jumped from Inferno's mane, affectionately nuzzling the nidarinn. Inferno snorted softly, bowing his head to the wolf. Umbra realised how much more peaceful it was in this elven place than any human settlement he'd ever been to. Perhaps it was just the fact that the elven forrest was so stunning. Or perhaps, the elves were a less brutal race than the humans. He swung himself from Zephyr's back as the phoenix lowered himself. Thorn landed on the branch beside him, her eyes observing every detail. Umbra felt as if he could spend years here, and spend each one of them happy. Carnelian lead them along the branch, towards the trunk of the tree. In the trunk there was a wooden door, obviously leading to the interior of the royal tree. Suddenly - to Umbra's surprise - the door burst open and an elf, around the same age as Carnelian (who was twenty-one) came running out. He bore glinting green armour, with a single metal band, encrusted with jewels, on his head. His eyes were friendly, and a luminous green; his hair brown and his expression excited. Carnelian grinned at the sight of him, and ran to meet him.

"Laz!" he exclaimed joyously, embracing his friend. The two elves, laughing, pulled away, clearly happy to see each other.

"Lazarus is the elven prince. Just call him Lazarus - he doesn't like royal titles." Thorn explained quietly. The prince suddenly spotted Inferno and Zephyr, and saw Carnelian's friends.

"Wow... The storm phoenix, and the nidarinn! You brought the Protector, and the healer? Ah, and Thorn! So good to see you. You have been busy collecting recruits, Carnelian. Ah, and the army's ready. We've gathered warriors of all sorts of different races to fight the goblins." Lazarus grinned, walking over to Zephyr and Inferno. Both of the noble creatures bowed their heads to look at him, and Silver barked at his heels. The elven prince laughed, ruffling the feathers of the storm phoenix and the furs of the nidarinn's mane. Then, Lazarus bent down to pet Silver. Carnelian nodded at his friend's words.

"Shall we discuss this inside, Laz?" Carnelian asked, nodding his head to the door. Lazarus nodded, and walked to the door, followed by the three humans and his elven friend.

 

Once inside, Lazarus lead them through the spiralling staircases of the tree, talking to Carnelian.

"We have a large number of dwarves, and a surprising amount of fearies have joined the army. I never suspected they'd be so good in battle! Obviously, no dark angels, but of course, a huge number of elves. Actually, the humans aren't being too helpful. Too scared, I guess. We only have a few of them." the prince informed his friend, speaking obviously of the army he was raising to fight the goblin uprising.

"Good," Carnelian replied in approval. "I plan to ask the dwarven earth-lord to join us, for I have heard he has elemental power over the earth itself. As you know, the dwarven prophet is already on my team. Oh, and I need the dark angel in my team. You know, the one who isn't corrupt? He - apparently, is the lord of the air element. And there's a feary who speaks the language of plants and animals - the life element lord. I've heard she can actually wield the power of plants, using them for the good of others. Ah, and there's an elven flame-lord. The prophet isn't sure who they are, but ah well... The last whom I need to recruit is the water-lord - a feary. Of course, I have Thorn, swift assassin of darkness, and Aquila, the healer. Lastly, Umbra. The Protector, child of the elements. In time, he shall learn to control the main five elements - air, earth, life, water, and fire." Carnelian told Lazarus. He had already told Umbra all of this.

"The dwarven prophet has told you about all these people?" the royal elf asked. "Her skills are growing."

"Indeed." Carnelian agreed, as Lazarus stopped at a long corridor. Rooms stretched all down the left side, each with a small wodden door.

"The guest rooms." the prince said. "These are inside a branch, so there's a ladder on the balconys that leads to the top of the branch - where your mounts can stay. I'm going to stay in a guest room while you stay here, so I don't have to go halfway across the royal tree to speak to you. Anyway, pick a room. They're all pretty much the same, so it doesn't really matter which you want." Laz told them, letting them all pick a room. Aquila, closely followed by Silver, took the first room. Umbra took the next, then Thorn. After Thorn was Carnelian, then, lastly, Lazarus took the room next to Carnelian's. Walking into his room, Umbra noted that it was simple. There was a wooden bed in the corner, with a bedside table. A closet and a chest lined one of the walls, and a comfortable chair sat by the double doors that lead to the balcony. Umbra, tired from the journey, went to sit on the bed, letting himself collapse onto it. The plump duvet enveloped him as he lay there, finding the all-wooden room as relaxing as the rest of Elteras. Umbra found himself slipping into sleep.

 

I love Elteras. The security of the beautiful trees comforts me, whether I need comfort or not. A dragon, with glistening scarlet scales, has just lead me and Inferno to a different branch, which is strangely good to sleep on. The red dragon introduces himself as Sundance, dragon of the elven prince, Lazarus. Sundance is an elegant dragon, with huge wings and excited eyes. He shall be staying here with us to remain with his master. I hope Umbra is as happy as I. I know he finds Elteras an amazing kindom. Hopefully, it calms his thoughts of the warrior.

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