Firefly

Above the realms of men, dance the Light Elves of Alfheim. Wise, immortal and captivating... These creatures are blessed by the Aesir and have harnessed the power of flight. But when war strikes down upon them with fire and doom; nothing can be saved except from the anger for those whom had committed such despicable acts. Text and illustrations copyright © A_Books_Magic_Moment 2014 The right of A_Books_Magic_Moment to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored as a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the author.

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9. Alva

The Catacombs of Angabar, Alfheim

Alva paced once more in her cramped space. On the floor were Steinar and Ragnar. Both asleep, they could not calm her in her restless thoughts. Peering into the darkness, beyond the light of the Phoenixes, the Captain shuddered. This was such a dank and eerie place, it child her to the bone. If only- No, she would not do that. When the time was right and he was ready, she would tell him. Not yet. It could ruin everything otherwise. Steinar yawned and stretched, snapping Alva's attention to him. "What time is it?" he asked, as if it were just another day where he would be trained in the art of war and politics. Alva only wished as much, it was a happy thought. A nice one that would never succumb to pass.

"It is well past midnight, my lord." Alva nestled down next to him. Their bodies shared what little heat was given from the fiery birds overhead. "You should sleep some more, my lord." the Captain faced him, those blue eyes that she had once envied for their cool look. Even if Steinar were writhing in flame, they would be as calm as the ocean. Never having noticed before, Alva studied his profile, knowing it could be the last time she saw him. Those white, long eyelashes hat kissed his high cheekbones when the young lord blinked. His whitish lips, that were almost as smooth as his whiter skin. His fair brow that could only be compared to that of Balder's - such a heinous crime, she knew. His long platinum hair that tickled his broad shoulders. But she always returned to his eyes. Those deep eyes, that she could drown in. Suddenly Alva realised how close they were. She snapped her head back, moved a few centimetres away and let Steinar become confused.

The lordling opened his mouth to protest when a boom sounded. More catapults - such is the way of demons and wraiths. Ragnar jerked awake, now standing with his hand on the pommel of his sword. "I think it's past time that you told us what is out there, Captain Ragnar." Steinar turned those eyes, that Alva had been drowning so deeply in, to the older Elf.

Captain Ragnar turned, as if to acknowledge Steinar as his High Lord for the first time. "Why don't you ask her?" throwing his head in her direction, Alva frowned. Why? Why Frey? Why me? Alva almost groaned at the now complicated scene before her. Having expected that Ragnar knew, she had done nothing to have compensated. Regretting her lack of protection over herself, Alva looked to her lord - who almost appeared horrified.

"They are wraiths, conjured from the impurities of Elves. Our fear is a great thing - and that is what it becomes. Utter shadow and dread. Moving and living. A nightmare for all to behold." Alva sighed. She knew that this made her lord feel even more out of the loop. It could not be helped, however. Another catapult sent a rock flying, the aftershock coming with it. A shudder was sent through the walls of the fortress. "They've breached the gate." Alva whispered.

"They can't have! This fortress is unassailable - nothing, not even our own forces, can break through. Jotuns couldn't even do so!" Ragnar protested, his hand tightening into a fist. Sorrow was something Alva knew of greatly; but never had she seen so much in one room. Bowing her head, the Captain was willing to give up and plainly die. Why would she bother anymore? If the wraiths could break through this fortress, then what was to stop them from going elsewhere to destroy everything? No, better to simply fall on your own sword rather than die without dignity.

Steinar roared. It was loud, powerful and awoke Alva from her despair. It cut off Ragnar's rant of confusion. Only then did she realise he was shouting words, "Stop this, now! Do you not realise that we are under siege and all we are doing is sitting here, babbling nonsense and becoming nothing but shells of dread and desolation? It would be better if we were to die out there, on our feet, with breath still in our lungs and freedom in our hearts. Is that not what we want?" Steinar had begun shouting, but now he was at a mere whisper. His hands were clutching his father's sword, so tightly, Alva feared it may break.

"I will be glad to die at your side, High Lord Steinar." Ragnar slammed his fist against his left breast, right where his heart - that held so much freedom - was. Steinar nodded curtly. Alva knew it was an answer - but not the one her lord had been hoping for. Steinar clasped the Captain in his gaze. He wanted her answer. And he wanted it now.

"I have been at your side from the very beginning, my lord. I will readily be by your side at the end," Alva bent the knee, giving the lordling all her freedom. He had spoken of their freedom, but she had none. Only for him, she was here, only for him.

***

Running down the tunnels was like guiding someone who was blind. They had to go completely on their senses. Smell, sound and feel. No sight to aid them at all - even with their perceptive eyes. Boots clanked down heavily against the floor. The cobblestones which could have been as old as time itself. Pervading the air as they rushed forward, forward to battle and to death, Steinar stopped unexpectedly. "My lord?" Alva inquired as Ragnar carried on.

"The wraiths - you've seen them before. Not just on our journey here, before that..." Steinar had been looking at the ground like a boy who had been caught doing something naughty, now he looked up. Hurt was scrawled across his face in a spiky font, "Who are you, Captain Alva? You may lie all you want, but I will see through, I can promise you that. I wouldn't mind, anyway. Maybe it is for some reason or other, I don't know. Nevertheless, I was glad I knew you." A smile slid onto his lips. A purely sad one.

Alva felt the tears brim in her eyes. She smiled back at him, "We're coming to the end now, my lord." she glanced away to the beams of light that had broken through the door. Shouts and clashes of swords travelled down towards them. They knew that this moment was a short one. "We are coming to the end of a very, very long farce. Of which we were the king and queen. Even regarding that though; we were pawns. Played by many and wanted by few, we are but puppets on strings. Now, I fear, those strings are fraying - they will be broken soon enough."

Steinar wiped away the tear that had fallen so gracefully down her cheek.

Alva smiled further. "I apologise- No, I am truly sorry, Steinar. I cannot begin to tell the tale, not just yet. If this battle closes and we, two, are alive... then I will most assuredly tell you of my past. I will tell you the interesting and unknown story of my life."

"So I suppose we should stick together, then? Insurance for when the time comes." Steinar reached and embraced Alva before she could protest. Stiffening for one moment before relaxing into his grip, Alva was shocked. No one had touched her in such a long time. They had all been afraid. Afraid of what she could do. Selfish hopes whispered in her head. The Captain snuggled closer, breathing in his scent of musk and cinnamon. Footsteps sounded, breaking them apart.

"By the gods, do hurry." Ragnar ordered them as if they were his soldiers. Alva sighed and ran after him, knowing that Steinar was soon after her. Steel flashed to the side of her. It was the previous High Lord's long sword. The white sheath was buckled to his belt. Its gold leaf patterns were intoxicatingly bright in the dim light. Steinar was certainly giving this fight all his best. And no less. Why not? If it were your last fight, would you not give it all you had and more?

That was the final thought the Captain had as she ascended into the Last Battle.

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