The Breach in Angabar's Walls, Alfheim
Pounding, was his heart in his chest. Running, was the sweat over his skin. Heavy, was the blade and shield he wore. Stifling, was the armour he had so gratefully plated on, just several hours past. Ragnar could not believe how quickly the tide of this battle had changed. At one moment, the fire-spawn demons had been clambering up over the walls and through the gaping breakage in the Bloody Fortress' walls. Now they were scampering around with maimed or lost limbs and half-ragged clothing and armour. Such was the nature of war that the two sides lost greatly in some way or the other. But to have such a fatal lost after the Elves' own failure - this was unheard of.
Swiping off another of the red-blackish beasts, the Firesheilds' Captain carried on forward. He needed to get to that wall. He had to - the very fate of this war hung on a precipice. Of which, the fall was so sharp and formidable, that even the notorious race of Light Elves would become a blackened memory. Behind Ragnar were his men. Loyalty was always a tricky emotion to have. Ragnar liked the idea of it - but he would never want someone to be so loyal to him that they died for him. Never. For that would too much a burden to bear. And he feared that, with all the blood on his hands already, he could no longer take what was to come.
"Captain!" the soldier to Ragnar's left pointed out the duo team of demons coming his way. Ragnar nodded his acceptance of the challenge to the male and stormed over to rid this realm of a few other enemies. Formations were already set up as he arrived. One in the front, the other at the rear. Such a pitiful tactic, Ragnar almost felt sorry for the ugly creatures of Surt. Then he remembered all they had done.
Taking the bait, Ragnar charged at the foremost demon. Blocking the attack with his round shield, he parried the blow from behind with his long sword. Blood sprayed, frying everything it touched like acid, as the male Elf rammed the bronze shield into his opponent's face. Twitching with the convulsions of death, the demon eventually stilled. Now the other one... Its pointed teeth came close to Ragnar's neck. Those greyish-canines oozing with the same black goo as they skin. Truly, they were a disgusting and degenerate people.
Soon enough, the head of his new attacker was rolling on the floor. A Fireshield placed his foot on top of it, as if the thing were some ball in a child's game. The soldier's golden helmet glinted in the fires of Surt's minions while he tilted his head to examine the demon's severed cranium. The features of horror were all present. A twisted mouth opened in a half-scream, wide eyes with dilated pupils and the taut skin. Such a gruesome change on already horrendous looks. "It seems we got them on the retreat," the soldier remarked, kicking away the smouldering head.
Having stabbed a demon right through the centre of the chest with his spear, the tassel burning away from the corrosive blood, the other male soldier perked up. "Must be something rather audacious - otherwise there wouldn't be such a fierce sacred look in their eyes." Sweeping over the littered ground of corpses, he soon arrived where the two others were talking. "What I mean is," he explained, "have you ever seen demons run so far and so fast? Never once, in all the battles I've been in, have they done such a thing. I'm most truly intrigued."
"I may be slightly inclined to find out why, myself," Ragnar turned from his soldiers to the gates, "I need you two to do something for me. Nothing too big, just a small favour." They stood to attention at the receiving of orders. "Reclaim the gate and drive away the enemy forces, if you could, I'll buy a horn or two of ale for the both of you." The Captain turned to his men. The look on their faces was almost priceless. He would have laughed too, if they weren't under attack.
They looked between each other, until the one who had kicked that demon's head away spoke: "Technically, you're saying that all we have to do is save everyone in the fortress and the building itself, which means saving everyone in the whole realm, and all we'll get in return is a horn or two of ale?" The soldier leaned on his spear, showing his disagreement ever so slightly.
"Would you prefer it to be Aven wine?" Ragnar inquired, fixing his smoky eyes on the younger Elves. Smirking, they chuckled and half-skipped half-walked their way to the wall. Never mind the many dead bodies they stepped over. As long as they had the chance to become intoxicated - even for a little while - afterwards..
"So long as you're paying, Captain!" they called over their shoulders. Smiling, Ragnar though he felt a ray of sunshine fall onto his profile. Thinking he was mistaken after opening his eyes, Ragnar shrugged casually and broke away, running parallel to the wall. The gates were a long way away from the vulnerability in their red barricades. No wonder it had been so easy to get through, no one had considered the demons' intelligence.
Drawing his blade, Ragnar readied for the many the demons he knew would be ahead. There was always something about House Elverssen that brought demons close by. Now, with two of it's members, there would be a great migration of Surt's minions to their location. Which wasn't particularly good in any case. And with Alva there. Especially with her there - constant worry pervaded Ragnar's thoughts. Maybe he had been lying to his men when he had become interested only due to the demons' retreat. "Always you Alva," he thought aloud, "It will always be you."
Then came the demons...
There they were. Only a few more demons to kill, a few more paces to run, a lot more blood to be split. All for her. "Ahhhh!" Ragnar let out his war cry as he jumped and threw his sword down into the gullet of a demon. Spinning round to dodge the reach of another one, the Captain disposed of it. Then another and another and another. But where one died, ten more came in its place. They were brutal and all wanted one thing: to gorge themselves on the blood of the only two who were worthy of it here. Lady Eerika Elverssen. Lord Steinar Elverssen. And if that were to happen, then Alva would be most desperately upset.
He knew it in his heart.
In all directions, Elves were fleeing or fighting or becoming frozen on the spot. No one could blame them though, young men all of them. They could run and hide or simply become physically sick and then die. It wouldn't matter. Everyone was bound to die at some point. For when Ragnar and his men had thought the demons were retreating, they had actually been running to something rather than away. Here, where they should have been few and far between, the demons were at their greatest concentration ever. Not even in the battle for Marigold's had they been in such high numbers. Was it really all for Steinar? Or for something else?
Gritting his teeth, Ragnar clutched the sword in his hand slightly tighter. Just a few feet away was another demon. Striking and clashing swords, they struggled for the win. A simple tug of war in such a horrible circumstance. Life and death, love and hate. Ragnar knew not whether he could deal with the loss. "Go back demon, to where you belong!" the Captain growled as he dealt a blow to the side after he and his opponent had broken contact. Tired, Ragnar dropped to his knees, I'm far too tired.
Mud greeted him as he panted short, white breaths. Slimy beneath his palms, Ragnar blinked at what he had thought was the sodden earth. Yelping, he leapt back from the gruesome gore that made the ground so very saturated. Doing this, he found he had landed in another pile. With so many casualties on either side, Ragnar couldn't discern whether it was Elvish blood or a demon's. But that did not matter. The dead were dead. Why worry over it? Yet, he could not shake the feeling of queasiness in his stomach, that it was the blood of his comrades. The blood of his people, who had never earned such a blasted fate. Taking up his sword once more - and what he hoped was for the last time during this battle - Ragnar resumed his footing. Crimson colours of thick liquid stained his armour, that black metal somehow tainted with his brethren's lifeblood.
Left. Ragnar noticed out the corner of his eye. Three of them; demons and all with swords. They stopped, as if only just noticing the male Elf only a few hundred yards away. "Come no further, and I will let you go," Ragnar knew they could hear, even though he whispered. One of the trio cocked his head to the side; contemplating what to do. Kill or let a glorious and exciting moment slip through your fingers? What would they choose? To kill - such a pitiful decision.
Fire blasted its way to Ragnar, escaping from the confines of its user. Placing his left foot back, Ragnar deflected the ball of engulfing flame with the flat of his blade. Then, landing square on his back, Ragnar failed to prevent the next magical attack. Grunting and climbing back up to his feet, the Captain charged at them. He forced the air around him to propel forward; it slammed the three down. Hearing the crack of their spines, he skidded over the bodies to a halt. How quick death spread, like a disease.
Stilling himself for a moment, Ragnar kept his eyes wide to the field of the dead that was the background for this battle. Mountains of corpses and fields of blood. Never before had the Fortress of Angabar earned its nickname so well. That might have been true for the remainder of the encounter, until that happened. An explosion, not of smoke and heat - of light. The magic broke through the epidermis of the misty atmosphere around the fortress. Waves of energy escaped so hungrily, stretching out in yearning straight lines. Shaking the ground and air; Ragnar bit his tongue and headed to the origin point.
As he ran, demons howled and screamed from pain - the light flare had been for their destruction. Now the only thing left to figure out was whether it was Eerika or Steinar who had decided to do such a reckless thing. Captain Ragnar could not imagine the High Lady Eerika going so far over the edge. It would have been Steinar. It must have been Steinar. Who else? But that, in itself, was problematic. Doing such a thing would bring you near and over the brink of death; Steinar, doing this, would make Alva... No, she would never do something so foolish. Ragnar knew that - or did he? He hadn't seen her in over one hundred years. Would she still be the same innocent as back then?
Amidst his stormy mind, Ragnar hadn't noticed how far he had come. Steinar was shrieking our words in a tongue of Ancient Elvish. Half of it, the Captain couldn't understand, the other half he would never begin to know what he was saying. Typical of him to unleash something so fatal, typical of him to not bother with thinking of the others around him. Ragnar felt his hold on the leash, that kept his rage in heck, hesitate for a fleeting moment. Letting himself get carried away by idiotic emotions would be of no help. For Alva was running to her lord as a blade came down onto his neck.
Sir Mikken was holding back Lady Eerika, who was clawing at his hand that were wrapped so tightly around his waist. Guardsmen were standing in a scattered formation, their blades half-drawn or sheathed. Alva had a long way to go, still. Now, the High Lady was screaming at Mikken, trying to break free of his grip. The Guardsmen were still static with their movements and decisions. Alva was half way there. Eerika was crying, the silver tears streaming down her face. Mikken had pushed her to the ground, keeping her there with hoarse and harsh words. They did not reach her. She paid them no heed, keeping her eyes trained on her son.
It's not them. It was never them - it was her. It was all for her, Ragnar remembered as he broke his gaze from the catastrophe of the Guardsmen. Furrowing his brows, he loosed a breath and took up his course. Heading for the girl he had not seen in a century, Ragnar ran at break-neck speed to where she was. Her dark hair was flying round her, despite the braids, with such fervent energy. There was no doubt now; they loved each other. That realisation made Ragnar almost stop.
Then he saw what Alva was doing: her arm outstretched, the other slightly bent backward. With that position, she could only be preparing for a spell. Clamping down his teeth, Ragnar put on a burst of speed to get to where he was going. She continued with her preparation, which only made Ragnar angrier, more nervous and faster. Not giving it up, Alva knew he was coming, therefore only ran faster. "Alva!" Ragnar roared as she let out the elemental magic.