The Chronicles of Starlyn

For generations it has been known that elves are immortal except for death by battle or poison. Something strange happens and Starlyn's mother becomes sick with an illness that seems to only be getting worse with each passing day. Starlyn loves her mother and wishes to find any way to help her, yet it seems nothing can be done except to sit and watch. It breaks her spirit but she spends every moment she can with her mother, as she fights frantically for an unknown cure. She went to the elven healers and herbalists but even they cannot find a way. Meanwhile Starlyn's sister Arria takes more drastic measures to try and help their mother, even diving into the restricted books of the elven library about dark magic. The dark magic is dangerous and forbidden for elves to use because it is said that even the willpower of an elf cannot prevail with the touch of a dark taint. Arria is not concerned of her own welfare and dives into heavy studies with the books. Strange things begin to happen, a

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21. Chapter 20

Chapter 20:

Arria stood at a hilltop looking at the southern horizon at twilight. The sky was a beautiful lavender haze with a few large clouds on the east and west. A crescent moon balanced itself in the south. Snow covered the ground from where it fell earlier in the day. The weather had chilled making the snow stiff. Arria didn’t leave any footprints on the hard snow but behind her a path had been torn through the foot of snow by the draeyks.

There were almost two-thousand of them with her and more than enough to pillage the elven capital. She only awaited the opportune moment to strike. The elven candles began to go out one by one throughout the streets of Sudegam. They weren’t to go to sleep yet, but it would be a time of relaxing, and an excellent time to prose a strike.

Arria had watched the city for days now and observed her sister’s departure. Starlyn carried a large force with her that would have been threatening for Arria. With it Starlyn could have prevented the raid on Sudegam. Yet Arria was careful not to let any draeyks march from the northern roads. Instead she waited on the western side for everything to clear. The fresh snow that began to fall the day before helped hide any tracks the reptiles may have left.

Draeyks did not like the cold and normally would hibernate during its fall because of their cold blooded nature. Arria knew they would not be at full strength but it wasn’t their skill she needed. Only their numbers were important for creating a distraction. It would only take a little for the elves to turn their eyes away.

She dashed forward on top of the snow using her stealth to slip through the southern gate. Very carefully she stalked the tall tower by its side and climbed up. A lone male elf with pale blond hair stood watch over the gate. He preoccupied himself with events in the city and didn’t notice her approach. She felt his warm skin as she slid her left hand over his mouth. Elves had good hearing and excellent stealth, though most could hear each other approach. Arria had always excelled at stealth but her ability only seemed to improve with the change. He tried to fight her off, but she was stronger. She pulled him into her and unsheathed her dagger. The sharp weapon sliced through his neck with ease and he went limp in her arms.

His blood tasted tangy as she licked the dagger, almost like an orange that had gone slightly bad. It was pleasant for her first high elf kill. She turned the large wheel, opening the gate completely and watched in silence as hundreds of draeyks marched in. A smile creased her lips before she rang the bell of Sudegam and dashed off.

Her mother’s cabin was just outside of the city gates but she assumed it would be protected. She hoped the sound of the bell would draw off any guards there might be. Yet when she arrived to the cabin there was nobody in sight. She found it strange that Starlyn hadn’t posted guards, but when she thought about it, it did make a certain amount of sense. Who could Starlyn trust? Most of the elves didn’t want much to do with their mother because she was ill and they considered her to be a weak member of their race.

That was what got to Arria the most. It was the final part that drove her over the edge to study the art of black magic. How dare the other elves claim her mother to be an abomination of the race because of her illness. Since it wasn’t poison or arrow they assumed her bloodline was weak and that was why she was sick. It also made them look at Starlyn and Arria differently. They looked down on them because if their mother was weak it also meant that they were. Arria would prove them all wrong and be the most powerful woman in Calthoria. They would cower and bow in her presence and rue the day they ever considered her weak and insignificant.

She already felt stronger than she ever had in her life. Since the transformation there seemed to be magic that flowed through her. Magic that she could not yet figure how to harness. Her strength now easily outmatched any elf as she had proven only moments before when she killed the guard in the watch tower. She remembered him, remembered times they shared. He was by no means close to her, but all elves knew each other well. It was both a curse and a blessing to know everyone from eternal life. He would no longer know eternal life like her. She remembered his face and his touch from the nights after a few elven celebrations when they shared a bed. Even though she had shared those experiences with him she was not saddened by his passing. She had shared those experiences with many elves, unlike her sister.

Arria was still cautious as she opened the door of her mother’s cabin. The thick air about her was quiet as she stepped inside. Her footsteps were inaudible as she stepped down the hall. She paused for a moment with her hand inches from the door of her mother’s room. It had been far too long since she had seen her mother’s face. She was afraid to see how weak her mother had become. How much sicker would she be?

After a long unnecessary breath she opened the door. Her mother laid on the bed paler than she’d ever seen her before. Precipitation covered her face and her breaths were heavy. Her brown hair was matted and tangled in a ribbon kept away from her face. She opened her eyes and stared at Arria for a long moment before her lips pressed in a small toothless smile.

“My daughter… Arria.” Her mother gulped. “I knew you would return.”

A shape stirred in a rocking chair in the corner. Only seconds later it flashed and was upon Arria with daggers drawn. The daggers were unique as they looked like two split blades on each side of a nearly hollow center. It made both sides exceedingly sharp and well balanced.

She looked at the figure with soft jet black hair that hung well past the woman’s shoulders and fell just past her bosom. Her skin was unlike any other elf with a creamy brown like chocolate and a lighter almond for eyes. She was beyond beautiful and more unique than any other elf. Lush pink lips held on a tight line as she studied Arria.

“Aliuqa, how nice it is to see you again.” She grinned.

“Why are you here?” Aliuqa demanded.

“I have come for mother.”

“You may not take her.”

“I never asked for permission.” Arria snapped.

She pulled her flamberge from its sheath and swung at Aliuqa’s left. The elf easily blocked the strike and responded with a series of swift stabs from each of her daggers in a complex pattern that nearly caught Arria off guard. The two sparred for a long while with neither gaining an advantage. Candles and scrolls were knocked onto the ground everywhere where they dodged strikes.

Aliuqa achieved the upper hand for only a moment by rolling her dagger around Arria’s flamberge after contact to strike Arria’s wrist. Her wrist throbbed in pain as blood trickled down her arm and hand. The act only enraged Arria into a chaotic pattern of attacks that had her overpowering the elf.

After several more minutes of furious fighting with sparks flying about them from metal striking metal and fire on the ground from spilled candlewax, Aliuqa had finally been bested and laid upon the ground. Several marks drawing blood were scattered across her arms and both of her daggers were out of reach. The tip of Arria’s flamberge pressed against Aliuqa’s neck hard.

“Do you wish to die?” Arria asked.

“I would rather die than spend an eternity witnessing what you do to your mother.”

Arria pressed her flamberge harder drawing a small amount of blood that drizzled down Aliuqa’s neck. “Thank you for taking care of mother.”

Before she had a chance to remove the elf’s head from her shoulders, she stumbled to the ground. Something had hit her from behind. She rolled on the ground without weapon until she could turn around to see three elves with swords now drawn. Each wore gold plate mail of the king’s guards and she recognized at least two of them that she had known intimately.

She got to her feet and unsheathed her dagger. The three elves charged in and with two blocks she dove out of the way of the third and turned around to strike one through a crack in his armor on his back. Her dagger slid between the armor and into the heart of one and he collapsed to the ground. She sheathed her dagger and dove to pick up her flamberge.

With her weapon comfortably in her hands she fought with the two elves with all of her skill. They were fierce competitors and she expected no less from the king’s personal guard. She did not know how they found her but she hoped to hurry with them so she could grab her mother and leave.

Her armor echoed through the cabin with metal smashing into it as elves found openings to her defense. She held strong and continued to fight, but great pain echoed several parts of her armor where it dinged in and pressed against her soft flesh. From the corner of her eye she could see the king approaching with his golden swords still sheathed.

She tried to focus all of her energy on the two guards in front of her but she found it hard to keep her concentration. It seemed almost as if everything around her was fading and it was becoming her time. She would no longer know the pleasures of immortality and lust like she had experienced before, but instead a world of darkness. Though she was already supposed to be living in the world of darkness, and it indeed already seemed darker than it had been. She wasn’t sure if she was too terrified of death, after all she had already experienced it once. The path had taken her to the underworld where she met the soulless, and through them and the power of the black magic she was brought back above the ground to walk again.

Swords sparked as she steadily blocked each strike coming towards her. She didn’t try to fight it anymore, but instead welcomed them. They could not call her weak, they would not. She would not let them consider her weak. In fact they were weak for even assuming that she frail. Her power was strong and she could feel it within her. It almost overwhelmed her and she wasn’t quite sure how but she harnessed some power. No longer did it feel so far away as it had ever since the transformation, but now it was in her grasp. Without holding back she clung onto it within her mind and lashed it out of her mind, out of her body, and out of her soul.

A cloud of tarnished violet smoke sizzled from the fingertips of her left hand as she pointed towards an elf. The elf seemed to drop his sword and held his head as he pulsated. Arria used the distraction to quickly disarm the other elf and stab him through the chest. With him rendered helpless she walked up and sliced his head from his shoulders. She watched with a smile as it bounced on the ground.

As quick as that the power seemed to fade from her grasp and shattered into the swirls that clouded her mind and judgment. The king, Elsargast, backed away a step and clutched the hilt of his sword that was still sheathed at his side. He studied her for a moment.

“Arria…” he whispered, “You are foolish to come back. There is nothing you can do to help your mother. Anything you try will only make it worse for her.”

“What do you know about it? Even the great king that you are supposed to be cannot do anything to save mother, what makes you think that with my new powers that I cannot?” Arria said.

“Taking her away at her condition is as sure as murder.”

“How did you know I was here?” She asked.

“It was as sure as stone with something so drastic going on in the city that it was the last place we should look for answers.” Elsargast said.

“And you thought to come here? I begged you for months to come visit mother and you refused to come near a sick elf. Yet, here you are, only come to prevent me from taking her away from your land.”

“You have strayed from the path Arria, the black magic has tormented your mind into thinking you have absolute power. This is why we do not study magic, this is why the books on black magic are hidden. There is too much risk involved with something that isn’t well known about. Even those books only brink onto a small portion of the full extent of the power of black magic.”

“With something that is known so little about, how are you so sure that within its power there would be nothing to save mother from this illness?”

“Nothing is sure young one, yet it is almost guaranteed that if you continue down this path that you will be lost forever. You will become consumed in a world inside of your own mind of torment and suffering that the dark magic feeds off of. The power you feel you have, the extra strength – it will seem insignificant when you experience the torment and suffering that it brings to you.”

“If it brings me mother, than the tradeoffs are more than worth it.”

“I will not allow you to leave with her.” Elsargast said.

“Come stop me.” Arria challenged.

                He unsheathed his golden broadsword and took two steps towards her. Undoubted fear tugged at her conscious. She never knew the king to take weapon, and felt terrified as she saw him balance a sword. After all, he was the king. Even if he didn’t display his skill didn’t mean he was any less precise. In fact his talent probably excelled all others, or at least it should.

                Arria pondered her options before realizing she had only one. Elsargast blocked the way to her mother, which meant in her eyes that it condemned her to death. Absolute rage replaced her fear and she clenched her fists around the hilt of her weapon.

                Before she knew what she was doing she sprung at him in a complex maneuver of strikes. Each one fell short as he lazily beat them down. Gold and purple sparkles fluttered around them like a chorus of butterflies. Arria continued her offensive pattern: low, high, low, high, high, and mid. None came close to the king. She even tried the form outreached shadow, but he broke it up like child’s play.

                Desperate, she felt for the dark power inside herself. Fierce emotions like hate and love were the only way to bring it out. The problem lay with controlling both hate and love with a steady hand while grabbing the power. Her power mirrored a thin spider web, she had to grab at it with blinding fury without crumbling it in any way. It took nearly a dozen times of the power collapsing like a weak web in her grasp before she could harness it.

                Elsargast remained patient, idly blocking every complex maneuver she dared thrust his way. He seemed calm, at peace, and it only frustrated her even more. She released her inner power and it sputtered to life surrounding her flamberge in a complex purple lightning. Elsargast didn’t appear abashed, but rather intrigued. Arria felt strength pulse through her that she had never known. It would not come at her beck and call. Instead it sporadically burst out in riddles from her weapon.

                Burns appeared all over Elsargast’s sword and armor where she finally landed a few strikes. When the power ran through her it no longer felt as if she had hardened bones and limited joints. Instead her arms flapped around like those of a plant stem. Her options were limitless, and she caught a gleam so strange in the king’s eyes. Fear? His eyes only shrunk for a moment and swiftly refocused.

                Elsargast took two steps back and uttered a few words under his breath. A golden shine sprinkled over his weapon from hilt to tip that grew brighter with every second. The color shone so lively that it made it nearly impossible for Arria to focus.

                She waivered when it counted most and tripped over her own foot. Before she could gather herself she felt the frostbitten tip of Elsargast’s sword press against her neck. She sighed, dropped her weapon and stared up at him incredulously.

                “You dare challenge the king of Sudegam? You have forgotten where you come from. It is over Arria. You will find the inside of the cells uncomfortable as it has been many a generation since their use. Rise!”

                Arria growled as she got to her feet. She felt helpless as she stood in front of the king. There were stories of his power of course, but nothing could have prepared her for his skill. Her eyes searched desperately for something she could use, anything, but there was nothing.

                She gulped as he rose to her feet and locked her fingers together behind her head. Elsargast didn’t appear bashful, but remained confident with pride that overwhelmed his appearance. He knew it would be no contest. Arria despised the king, she always had, he always kept the elves at bay, never letting them verge out into the large land of Calthoria. He claimed that there was little use for them anywhere but in Sudegam. Many wondered what lie outside of the elven territory.

                “Arria?” a croaked voice whispered.

                Arria’s cold eyes darted up to notice her mother stumbling through the cabin barely keeping her balance. She wavered towards the king where she tripped over a stranded pebble and collided with him. His face turned from confident into terror as he leapt out of the way after she touched him. He dared not help her to her feet, but backed away several steps with bulged eyes as if he feared for his health with her touch.

                Arria wasted no time and dashed at the stricken king and shoved the hilt of her sword into the jaw of his helm. He cried out and crumbled to the ground. She dared not try and kill him, for fear of being out beaten, but she knew she had only a fraction of time while he remained distracted to act. Knocking him unconscious seemed the proper thing to do with the little time she had.

                “Mother!” Arria cried.

                She ran to grab her mother, sheathing her sword as she went, and gently bringing the woman to her feet. Her eyes dashed around the two of them, searching for any threat. When she found none, she sighed deeply, relieved to finally feel safe. She lifted her mother over her shoulder, and dashed out into the night.

 

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