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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15. Eerika

The Lord's Anti-chamber, Alfheim

People were still screaming outside, their roars shaking the grey stone ceiling and walls of the room Eerika had vacated into, with Captain Ragnar and Lady Alva. The young female sat to the right of the head seat, accompanied by a matching table of ash wood that was backed up against the left side of the room. A window, rectangular and long, was the only point where light could break through. Sunbeams poured into the room, filling it up with warmth - despite the cold appearance. No tapestries or paintings were hung on the walls. They were barren, sharp and rough all of the way round. A small indent was set into the wall that met at the corners with the one where the table stood. Richly engraved was the door - the only entry and exit for the room.

Eerika returned her gaze to her ward, Alva.

Seeing it, after such a long time, must have been like a twisting dagger in an old wound. Eerika could never begin to imagine what it had been like that night - all those horrors the girl would have seen. When the little lady had turned up on her husband's doorstep, Eerika couldn't believe the depth of her eyes. A motionless void, where all the things Alva had seen were being played over and over. The previous High Lord had been so kind; where Eerika had been afraid. Fire magic was the worst of all. Nothing could survive it, such was its nature. Not to mention that the very essence of it was always hard to control. Somehow, though; Alva managed very well with the raging torment of chaos she held.

"I suppose we may as well plan for your coronation, Lady Alva." Eerika drifted over to the chair opposite the young Elf, where she stood behind the chair. Ragnar remained at the door, his similar dark eyes watching it suspiciously. Maybe it was a twig that would break at any moment. Wondering for a while, Eerika quickly changed her mind. "Captain Ragnar, maybe you would like to join us?" His head spun round, those dark eyes now worryingly flicking between the High Lady and Alva.

The dark haired female sighed, "She only wishes to know who you are Ragnar." Alva kept her eyes levelled with Eerika's. How easily she can read people, that will come in handy for her rule. Eerika thought as Ragnar remained where he stood. Concern still hung to his features; obviously the Captain wasn't majorly well-applied in the field of communication. "It's not like she's going to bite you. High Lady Eerika will just be asking a few question about how we are connected, etcetera, to be well informed and nothing more."

His boots clonked over, the jacket and glowing crest of his order flickering in and out of the sunlight. Turning to him, Eerika kept her face set in a blank look. He was a rather tall man, with broad shoulders and lean muscles which clearly showed under all his clothing. Well-groomed, too, with close-cropped hair combed back apart from one or two free strands. Dark eyes, a known trait of House Firefly. Straight nose, a bit like that of Alva's. Eerika examined the male before her. But his complexion was a bit darker, beige rather than ivory. "I would almost say he's your brother," Eerika turned to Alva, who had been waiting patiently for the High Lady's answer. "Obviously not, though. Besides; I know that you had a brother and no other siblings. That rules out nephew then. He is older than you, but cannot be married - no sign for it to be so. Therefore, I'll have to say he is your cousin. Distant however much you may be."

Eerika could see that her findings were right from Ragnar's slightly shocked face. Returning to normal, the Captain schooled his profile back into a completely unwavering slate. "Well done my lady," Alva commended Eerika on her efforts, "Captain Ragnar is indeed my cousin, on my mother's side. Our grandmother had two children, one of which was his mother who married some nephew of House Broesae. When I had just turned twenty-two, he was sent here to be my guard; only acquiring captain when he earned the right." Eerika glanced to the Captain of the Fireshields. They were so alike and still so different, after all these years, Eerika knew that Ragnar was the most loyal person in this fortress.

"Good," Eerika pulled out a chair and seated herself, "I recommend you make him your personal guard again. After your coronation, you will be accompanying me back to The Woven Castle. There, we will reconvene all the Houses to the Royal Court and decide our next step in this war." The High Lady fell into silence for a while, thinking of what she was to plan next. Ragnar took his liberty to lean against the wall, to the right of Alva. Sitting up straight, her eyes were alert and sensitive, along with her delicately pointed ears. "Oh! Your coronation, silly me. I almost forgot."

"Maybe you could-" Ragnar was cut off as Alva quietened him. Knowing he had been about to say something rather rude, Eerika decided to ignore it.

"Everyone will, perceptively, be there. You'll need to wear your House's colours, unlike today," Eerika saw blush creep up the female's neck, "Never mind that now though. Your main hall hear is rather organised, banners always out along with the beautiful throne! We may want to hang up a few more ribbons, otherwise I don't think the hall needs to be decorated. Afterwards we'll definitely have a feast - maybe the local elk? I've heard that they are quite splendid when roasted with cranberry sauce. I'll let the cooks decide what else will be served. I think the other nobles have time enough to arrive - a week should do, shouldn't it? Imagine the suitors at the ball; they would be crawling all over you!" Eerika laughed. Alva was polite and giggled softly - meanwhile Ragnar stayed as silent as the grave. "Would you look a that?"

Lurching forward was the Captain, Eerika saw how intent he was to keep his cousin safe after the years lost between them. "Have they stopped, Captain Ragnar?" Alva almost-whispered, her voice was like a babe's, ever so innocent. Yet a layer of fear hid somewhere underneath it, the High Lady could tell. Breaking her eyes from Alva and looking towards where Ragnar stood, Eerika rose to the same height as her companions. The Captain opened the door, his hand on a dagger beneath his shirt. Ready for attack.

The hall outside was empty, however. Vacant yet filled with only the slightest of whisperings. "It seems, High Lady Eerika, that we may leave," Ragnar informed her. Holding open the door, he postponed walking through until she had. Beyond the door was just a barren hall with nothing but a red throne and flame banners. Eerika gestured for Alva to follow and floated out of the room. Ragnar closed the door after coming through himself, then returned to stand behind Alva.

Revolving on the spot, Eerika's long train curled around her comfortably. The white linen blended with the ivory tones of her skirt as she curtsied to Alva. "We shall discuss your coronation further on the morrow. As for now, rest Lady Alva. You will need your energy for what is to come." Eerika left, not expecting a reply, to go and see her son. Steinar, I'm coming. Do not worry, my son, I'm coming.

***

Wind stirred the light curtains, pulling them up towards the ceiling before plummeting back down to the marble floor. As Eerika walked in, the healers bobbed their heads, before they returned to their duties. Some were administering poultices of cooling herbs for Steinar's skin. Most were checking for such things as a fever. Most were there purely because they were assistants. The Head Healer, however, was surveying over them all. Glancing up from her observations, she noticed Eerika at the doors to her son's chamber. "My lady," the Head Healer strode over, "I did not expect you today. I am sure that the room can be cleared, if you wish it."

"No need, I am sure that I won't stay long," Eerika glanced to where Steinar lay. His skin, almost like bleached bone, was paper-thin and taut over his muscle. Shadows resided in his eyes and his long hair was almost greyish; all this made her son look like some sort of half-dead man. "I just wanted to see how he was doing. Lord Steinar needs to be well again, it was such a foolish thing to do-"

"Nonetheless, he did it, my lady," the Head Healer comforted Eerika before she would start to cry. They drifted closer at the Head Healer's urging. Now, they stood at the foot of Steinar's bed, the covers brushed aside and tousseled in all directions. "I must say though," the elder Elf next to Eerika spoke softly, "you son is most resilient to the aftermath of such a high-intensity usage of his magic. Most would have died before they had even reached the level of power he had been at, never mind about afterwards. There is something else going on here. Something that may be rather..."

"Rather?" Eerika prompted. If there was something wrong about this situation, she wished to know, and to know right away.

The Head Healer smiled. Why are you smiling, Eerika almost screamed at her. It was not the time to smile and be dizzy mirth; it was when you had to adopt a serious manner to save your future Lord. "Rather ancient," the Head Healer touched Eerika's arm lightly, pulling her to the open doors of Steinar's bedroom. Pausing as she stood just over the threshold, the High Lady turned back to the old Elf. "If I would say so myself, my lady, it may be what helps decide the fate of this war. And I dare think we desperately need it." Her voice had gone hollow and sombre. All serious tones and determined expressions. She is right, Eerika curtsied, the healer following.

"Thank you," Eerika turned to leave, then said over her shoulder, "but tell me when my son wakes from this horrible nightmare of his." She walked away from her son's rooms and his lifeless body. A fire crackled in the hearth as she passed through the lounging room. Books were scattered on the table - some from the healers and some from her son - when she drifted across the dining room. Only to find Mikken outside. With a worried look on his face.

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