Training Yard, Alfheim
Rattle, rattle, rattle. The dummy came back and forth as the Captain continuously hit it with his blunt blade. Moving from every angle and using every battle stance he could think of, Ragnar was soon panting from the exertion of his rage. "Someone is definitely and perceptively most angered," Mikken spoke from behind him. His footsteps had been so quiet - or had the Captain's breathing, swipes and moves been so loud? Not being able to tell, Ragnar breathed in a deep breath and quickly let it go before resuming his stance. He started the exercise again.
Mikken snorted and moved to lean against the fence to the Captain's side. Though the training yard did not exactly need a barrier for protection against enemies, it did need one for the inhabitants of the fort. Men of war can become very unpredictable after so many battles; so, when training, they are kept on a tight leash. Ragnar remembered when he had set up the fences. Back then, they were stable and secure - he had checked them every night for breaks and mended them himself. However, when war comes, such little duties are soon forgotten and replaced. Though some duties - no matter how small or seemingly insignificant - can never be disremembered. I love you, it rang through his head again. The training was obviously not helping.
Ragnar landed the final blow; the dummy's head wound up on the floor. Straw was strewn over the grass from the yarn sack with its cut open weaves. Mikken's boots hid beneath a few of the wax strands. He seemed impressed and saddened - nonetheless, Ragnar did not care for the reason why. Sheathing his sword, the Captain turned to leave. Though he was stopped as the Elven knight behind him spoke, "What happened between you and Alva?" he peered over his shoulder at the male. He was so dastardly perceptive that it was annoying beyond description. "Whatever she said or did, it was with reason and good cause. Lady Alva doesn't like meaningless actions; they make no sense to her. You must know that she is different from the girl you knew-"
"I think she has established that quite well," Ragnar snapped. It was vicious and unforgivable to take your rage out on someone underserving of it, he knew that well enough. Nevertheless, the Captain couldn't help but feel the bitterness in his heart. It ached so much, how could anyone bare to live with this for eternity? "Why are you here, Sir Mikken? I suppose our Lady Alva sent you down to reconcile with me, make me forgive her so that everything can be how she wants it, once more. If that is the case, then you can just leave me be."
"It seems you have assumed something that is quite the opposite of what is the current situation. I'm here because I haven't hit something in a few days and feel that itch one gets after battle." The young Elf's voice came out taught. It wasn't the first time he had fought, Ragnar knew from the way he carried himself. Yet, there was something that bothered the knight about duelling with demons. Shuffling his feet, Ragnar faced Mikken - black and green connecting gin the night, their breaths turning into white puffs as they coiled in the cold air. "I have no say in the matter, nor is it my business to intervene... However, the thought remains that I should and must. This situation between you and her needs a third party and I believe I could help."
"What, because you know her so well?" Ragnar narrowed his eyes and let that sarcastic tone permeate his voice.
Mikken snapped up his head, those green eyes burning. His brown hair shone in the moonlight, the braids seeming intricate and surreal from the night's scene. "I know her very well, more than you I should think," the knight scoffed, a smirk slithering onto his lips. It somehow suited him, as if Mikken were used to being smug. "I doubt that after one-hundred and two years she is still the same person. And I also doubt that you realise who she is. So before you traipse off in a sulky gloom, I shall tell you one thing; forget the girl you knew. Alva does not need any more grief - you know that, I know that. So stop giving it to her!" his voice became sharp in the dark scene of night-time.
Ragnar could see that Mikken was truly upset. Tears were brimming in his eyes, the knight was blinking to keep them at bay. "Then what should I do? Just forget her and never to speak to her? Alva has barely anyone to trust and no one to keep her safe. I will do that - I will have to do that. This is the situation, now; what do you recommend to me, Sir Mikken?"
"You should protect her, you are right. You are the only one fit for that duty. All I am saying is that you must learn to find a middle ground with the new Alva. The Alva that is not a remnant of the past." Ragnar slowly moved away, his feet almost dragging across the ground. Movements, which usually came so naturally to him, were sluggish at best. His whole world had been shattered. The thought of the girl, whom he had loved since the first moment they had met, returning was the thing that had kept him going forward. And now, that hope was gone.
Gone from everything, yet, he was reminded so dearly of it.
Papers cluttered his desk. Shuffling through them, Ragnar quickly optimised his desk for more efficient usage. All his papers were ordered into a neat pile under a crude paper-weight - the end of a broken dagger. His ink pots rested in a neat line at the edge of his desk, with the corresponding quills beneath them - ordered by size. Moving his seal and the wax pot, Ragnar noticed an new, unopened letter on his desk. He almost leapt at the idea of it being from Alva - but he choked down the hope before he could drown in it.
Taking up the letter, he broke the seal. It was a blank circle; not showing any sign of a specific house or regiment he knew of. Also, on the front there was no addressing of name. It may even have been delivered to the wrong place. How would he know? Reluctantly, yet eager, he tore open the seal and read the contents. It was a formal invitation to Alva's coronation. In a particularly extravagant font, the letter read:
To whom it may concern, you are formally invited to the coronation of Lady Alva Firefly on Sun's day. Please attend the ceremony at nine o'clock sharp.
Ragnar slumped down into his chair behind the desk. Of course he had to go to the damn coronation, who else would be there to escort her down to her birth right? Certainly not her father, and Eerika would be the one placing that tiara on her head. Mikken was no where near becoming a lord of any sort. And Steinar... Steinar was still asleep. However, there was a nagging feeling that Ragnar had, it only made him think that his lady would want the High Lord to be the one there at the doors, to hold her arm and only leave when she had to have that beautiful tiara given to her. That would be her most desired wish.
"Too bad he is never going to wake up..." Ragnar immediately felt the taste of ash in his mouth as those words passed his lips. He knew that Alva had been rude to him, he knew that there was no excuse - as far as he knew. Meanwhile, his feelings for her outweighed yet personified his pain. Could that be possible? Then again, nothing seemed impossible anymore. Nothing could have been impossible. So much had happened, he was sure that they had gone through every possible outcome there was.
Now, there was only the unthinkable left.
In his rooms, his old rooms that had been his home for just over a century, there was little light. The small desk for writing still had the candle on top of it, with the papers and ink-filled quill. It dripped down onto the parchment with a soft sound: drip, drip, drip. Ragnar stared at the motion from his bed. His head was sinking into the feather pillows, so soft beneath him he was barely used to it. During war, a soldier would be sleeping on the ground or in his saddle if he were so lucky. It was hard to find a man with a comfortable bed in such circumstances. So when they returned home, the soldier would take a while to get back into his bed. To get used to it again.
Ragnar's first and last battle (before the attack on Angabar) had been the Premium Stand of the war. Elves usually crushed their enemies, therefore disallowing the chance of any serious wars to come about. But something had changed that day - Ragnar remembered. He had gone onto the field, confident in himself, his people and his most trusted friend... Alva's brother. Perhaps it was a similar fate to that of the late Lord of Alfheim. In one aspect, where Ragnar had watched someone he cared about die, it certainly was. Fire had rained down upon them so suddenly, it was like rain in the wet season. The only thing that was prominent in his mind from that day was waking up afterwards and realising he was the only one in his battalion who was alive. Then the realisation struck that he would have to tell his friend's family what had happened - and that was the worst thing that ever could be.
The aftermath of war was a sick and brutal thing that few survived.
Ragnar heaved himself from the bed. Stretching, he itched at a scar on his back. It wasn't new in the slightest, however, when he thought of the first day of the war - it always started to aggravate him. I couldn't protect her brother - mine own friend... How can I protect her? Maybe it is just better for me to stay here; to never see her again. Ragnar knew that he was beginning to lose all sense of hope, like many others. I am nothing. Nothing to her, nothing to this realm. All I have is nothing, that was all that was given to me and that is all that shall remain. No more and no less. But if nothing were nothing, he could not have any less. So he may as well make use of what he had and stop wallowing in his pathetic pit of despair. He chucked on the heavy black jacket, proving his worth as Captain of the Fireshields. As something as supposed to nothing. I am her cousin, Ragnar walked towards the door, and even by the gods we shall not part. Not again. Never again. Pulling open the door, Ragnar felt renewed with responsibility. The world greeted him and he was ready for all the deeds he would have to do.
And that horrible, sinking love was starting to fade - even if it would take time.