The Woven Castle, Alfheim
Watching the back of her eyelids, she could see everything from the sparkling, white flowers of Balderblom Grove to the dark corners of her realm. The war had burned this place with so much fire... She only hoped they could recover. Mirth touched her lips as she came across some young Elflings playing in the crystal pools of Arilya, her old home. She could see her cousins playing with such small amounts of magic, her aunts and uncles would never have noticed. A merry laugh escaped from deep down.
And then darkness fell.
It swallowed her kin and all the light they held. Lesser sparks of light flickered about, swarming to something behind her. Something beyond her being and her comprehension of the life she held. Turning to face where these small illuminations were going, she felt her eyes widen in shock and fear. Flame was seeping like liquid from some oblivion in the far distance. It ran wildly towards her. Arms of inferno reached to her with such intensity the woman screamed out in fright. Clamping down a hand onto her mouth, she silenced herself before the pierce became too high - the woman shut her eyes at the same time too, darkening the obscure scene further.
Reluctantly, gradually, she opened her eyes. The darkness had disappeared, leaving nothing but white ash. Floating downwards to the already sodden and bleak ground, she took timid steps forward. Tracks were left behind, indented into the lax substance an inch deep. Embers blocked her path - she was unsure of what to do. To go back from where she came was as intimidating as going forward. Some force enthralled her forward, however, until she came across ruins.
This was nothing new. In all her dreams she had seen some fort or castle or other that pointed towards some greatness or treachery or neutrality of old. Regrettably, she had to admit that exploring them were sometimes fun. How could it not be? Looking through them was like unfolding great mysteries; many which were lost to her people. All that rich and fruitful knowledge that could so help them in this desperate war. In this desperate world. Bleached flakes still fell, she looked down to where.
Dead men, with corresponding wreckage, littered the ground like autumn leaves, their hair and frayed clothes lifted and wafted in the gales. Resting beneath a broken bridge, their cadavers looked around with glassy eyes of green and blue, some had the few flecks of brown in them. She wondered why their were those of earth so far from home. For this was no place of trees and fauna. Interpreting this was not as hard as she though, the woman suspected where she was, could have let panic have its way with her, But she refused. Not yet, nothing had been decided yet.
Her bare feet scratched against the small rocks. Catapults, the woman decided as she noticed the huge rock embedded into the fortress' wall. Ash coated it in a thin layer of silver over the once blazon barriers which had cracked open hearts with fear, in another era. Double doors lay broken, half falling from their hinges. The tapestries had been burnt in the first corridor. Their golden leaf tarnished with a horrible brown colour. Beheadings' and banquets' recordings were lost, another piece of history given to time's fell hand. How could the gods be this cruel?Silly question, the gods do not control what they have no dominion over- fate is something for the Norns to decide. But what a cruel one to have!
The persuasive impulsion dragged the woman closer to a set of doors. What was once glamorous wood, was now merely cinders, a grey and dull heap of depression. Such exquisite pain, for which no words could be given. Treading over more destroyed antiquity, she carried on down to some sort of underground tunnels. Slightly intrigued and disgusted at the same time, the woman found what she had seen little of: the corpses of demons. Trickery! Betrayal! How dare they? Who did this? Questions inside questions popped up like spring daisies. This was not to have happened.
The woman let her train linger lightly over the cadavers as she was swallowed into the shadows. Dripping water echoed throughout the caverns, its sound the only thing guiding her. Dried blood was sprayed across the walls. Flakes of the substance littering the ground slightly underneath where the splatters existed on the barriers. Almost missing the turn to a small alcove, she strode hurriedly down and into the darkness, only wishing to escape this place that lacked so much solace.
As her feet steadied themselves, the woman looked inside the small room. Covering the ground were many pellets of the food that the birds had once eaten. Little bones and shrewd strips of muscles were scattered, along with the white smears of the birds' waste. Their flaming tails trailed downwards, so very close to touching that dirty floor, and besmirching their graceful feathers with their own grime. One of them kwaked at her. As the Phoenix did so, its four-foot wide wings stretched - as if the bird, too, wanted to escape from this forbidden fortress. The bird screeched again, the sound like fire breaking down logs in the hearth. Live flames grew from the male Phoenix's feathers, leaking out to the woman, past her, away from her. Turning, so slowly, her train twisted as she looked down to the Elves - or rather more; their corpses.
There were three of them. Three dead Elves. The three most important deaths in this entire battle. "Ca..." why was she so shaken? "Capt..." How could she be so shocked? "Captai..." she was used to this, so why? "Captain..." Death was a part of every life, so how? "Captain Alva..." Hunching over, pain lanced through her torso. It was a sharp lance. Breathing in glass was the only thing it could be compared to. It were as if her heart was breaking.
Then she saw her son...
"STEINAR!" she cried. It came out - breaking and shattering everything. Flakes flew from the corpses as they disintegrated into ash. Her cry turned into a shout, her shout into a hoarse scream of grief and rage and bitterness and anger and loss. Nothing... She had felt nothing like this before. Not even when her beloved husband had been stripped from her, like a girl's clothes before she is stolen by some brute.
Light broke out from her skin. The magic of House Elverssen. Flexing, reaching, for the dark, the light consumed all that did not fit within its requirements. Her skin became a greenish colour as her magic drained her. Those blue eyes and white hair becoming both dark and light at once. She felt... this was not... the woman was no longer...
High Lady Eerika Elverssen was no longer alive.
After that dream, Eerika did not know what to think. Was it real? Was it the future, the present or the past? Will it happen exactly as she saw it? Will Steinar and that other male find out about Eerika's favourite Captain? Why, when you gain one answer, will you always have a thousand more come at you like wolves in the night? Was this what the gods truly had in store for her once unparalleled and wise people? Was she to only repeat these questions for the rest of her immortal life span and never gain any answers?
Doors creaked open at the opposite end of the hall. Footsteps, with their rushed sounds, came closer to the white oak throne. Eerika raised her pitiless eyes to her lowly lords and ladies. Resting sideways on her glorified seat, she opened her mouth to speak. "Lords and ladies of Alfheim, what is it that you come to disturb my reckless peace about? Is there something you wish to inform me upon?" Oh, she dared to ask, despite the fear the lady held in regard to the answer.
Lord Marc replied with his gravelly voice, "My lady, I regret to inform you that something has transpired at the Fortress of Angabar... again." He spoke timidly, that voice which had once been so powerful in his younger voice, now a mere mouse. Particularly liking the way he had added 'again' at the end of his sentence, Eerika tipped her head back and laughed, receiving queer looks from her court. By 'again', Lord Marc could have only meant that night one-hundred years ago. That night when the whole House of Firefly had been slaughtered by some fearful knights. That same fear only made matters worse. Wraiths of shadow and dread, that only brought what the Elves hated most, were conjured by such impurities. "My lady-"
"What makes you say such things?" She turned her cold eyes to the man who brought her dread from nightmares into reality. Did he not realise the pain it was causing? The stain that her soul now wore? Bad enough to lose a husband, worse still, when you lose the son whom he loved so very much.
Lord Marc stuttered for a moment. His mouth opening and closing like a fish does when trying to breathe on land. Such a dreadful display. "I-" now he was most unsure of what to say.
Eerika sighed and stood. Twisting her body until those slender, pale legs hit the ground, she moved in relation to the male Elf. Beyond him, the others of the Nobility were cowering - as if her wrath could be shielded by one man. "I do hope you have proof, Lord Marc. Otherwise, this would be a dreadful waste of my time." Eerika blinked slowly, the whole world coming into another time frame. The movements of everything and everyone lagged so badly... She remembered the look of their cold corpses.
"...The letter told us of a dreadful thing that has happened-" Marc was cut off. Regretfully, Eerika had stopped listening when those grieve-some pictures had flickered in her mind.
"Pardon me, my lord ." Eerika traipsed back to the throne that her son should have been seated upon. No, he is not ready, she thought as her arms rested on two spindly branches, her back adjacent to the chair's one. "I do not think that the rest of the court heard you," better to keep the fact that she had for gone away for a while a little secret, "may you, please, start from the beginning?"
"A Phoenix arrived, my lady. Obviously from Angabar, for where else could it have come? Anyway, I opened it - such was my duty - and read the contents at mine own horror. It told of an attack upon the gates of the Bloody Fortress..." He paused. Hesitant. "An attack of wraiths of shadow and demons of fire. They have breached our borders, my lady, I am sorry to say." Marc bowed his head in recompense; as if it were his actions that had caused such a thing.
"Therefore, you assumed I wished for the court to assemble and for me to hear of it last?" Eerika let her piercing eyes reach him. She wished that he could only scream. Marc bowed his head lower - for this was his fault. "Very well," Eerika sidled a bit on the throne, suddenly disgusted at what she was doing. "My lords and ladies, it seems we have another battle to go to. I will send the Guardsmen ahead of us. Marc, may you please pass the letter to Sir Mikken? Thank you. As for the rest of you, prepare what men you have left. Lady Liza, can you arrange for a health ward to open in the Grove? The Balderblom will surely help; along with it not being too conspicuous."
They scattered like ants running home when a storm comes. And that was exactly what they were. Ants. And this was the storm. Eerika carries herself to the window, the trees' branches having opened a gap, big enough for anyone to fly out or in through it. Even jump. The wind kissed her cheeks. Above, the once glowing blue sky had turned to that tone of ash. Far away, trees were dying, their leaves having turned golden and dispensing unto the ground. Even further than that, the village people were packing away what little hey could scrape together for their long journey. Eerika had no idea as to where they would go - but someone else could figure it out. "My lady," it was Mikken. Only Mikken.
"Yes, Sir Mikken?" She did not turn around. Never would, in fact, from here she could see everything. How could one give that up? "What is it?"
"Lady Alva wrote this letter," he called her lady. For indeed, she was one. He was the only other one who knew, apart from her husband and herself. "She is most probably alive still. Is that not good news? If she is alive, Steinar must be too, mustn't he be?" Concern showed in his voice.
"Assuredly. And they will die together, Mikken. Such is their fate - from the very moment I took her in. Steinar and Alva were always on their own path. They lived together, ate together, and trained together. It is only befitting they die together..." Though she had not wanted it (and never would), Eerika felt a tear fall. Its silver light sparked as the drop tumbled down to the ground so very far below.
"My lady? Should we not leave?" Mikken asked, only now having realised everyone else was doing so. "Is there some place where you can think of refuge?" Eerika dos not reply. You cannot reply when you did not have the answer.
"There is no refuge. We will all burn," Eerika turned to him. His green eyes were so innocent. This child of earth before her should never have left his home or family. For only water can kill fire. Earth merely blackened at its presence. "So we may as well burn fighting; on our own two feet! Fighting for what we have been this whole time: