The Black Lake, Alfheim
Steinar watched as the barge passed by. Red and yellow flames licked at what had been his father's body. Clad in new leathers and silks, just as his father would have been in life, his face had been peaceful. Yet, how much anger the new lord held, was indescribable. That spear had been meant to strike him, not the High Lord of Alfheim. It had been meant for Steinar's side, clothes and armour to be soaked in blood. For the Captain to watch over him in the infirmary. Not his father, that stubborn old male, who's funeral barge was as black as pitch as it disappeared around the bend. Only now did Steinar remember how he had seen his father's brittle and charred bones in that barge. How could this have happened?
Light burst from the barge. It traveled up into the night sky, joining with the Milky Way. His father's Elven Soul was with the gods now. All those new leathers and silks, gems and weapons, would be crashing down the waterfall at the end of Black Lake's river. If Steinar closed his eyes and turned his delicately pointed ears to that waterfall - he could hear it.
Crash, crash, crash.
"Lord Steinar," that was right... He was to be called Lord now. It was Marc Lightcreek who had spoken; his deep black cloak hung over his left shoulder as he stood at Steinar's side. Wind blew the material softly towards the way Steinar's father had gone. Subsequently, it was no coincidence as for what the lowly lord said next; "I am sorry for your loss."
"It is not my loss, Lord Lightcreek," anger sparked in the lordling's blue eyes, "it is the realm's loss. There will never be another like that of my father." Marc had looked startled at Steinar's statement; yet soon recovered as he realised what the younger Elf had meant.
"Of course, my lord," Marc and many more bowed to their liege lord as they left the funeral. They murmured condolences and apologies - the latter making no sense as they had not been the ones throwing a long spear into his father's side. Steinar did what his father would have wanted though, despite the annoyances, and thanked them all. He slightly bowed and even smiled shyly once. The young male only wished it made the lower Nobles like him a little better. Steinar would need the favouritism if his plan were to succeed.
"Steinar?" Her billowing black skirts came into view as his mother uttered his name - so softly, as if to prevent awakening him. The lordling turned to his beautiful mother. She still was, through the obvious signs of weariness plaguing her profile.
"Mother," he heard the last footsteps climb a carriage and drift away into silence. Steinar did not run, nor did he pace slowly, approaching his mother. They both collapsed, no longer able to stand in this horrific scene. Cold metal touched his face as the High Lady of Alfheim wiped away her son's tears. She held him as Steinar crumpled and broke. "It should have been me. It should have been me!" His voice broke, shuddering breaths passing the Lord's lips as he lost the will to remain dignified.
"I know, I know. Nonetheless, it was not you. It was your father because he saw what needed to be done for the future of the realm and the good of his family." Those pale and cold hands of Steinar's mother pried his face from her shoulder and made the new Lord train his eye on her. Eerika's nails dug into Steinar's chin. Wincing at the pain, Steinar kept his similar eyes on his mother's deep blue oceans. "He gave his life to keep you safe. So you will not squander it! You will protect this realm."
Those words rang inside the lordling's head like the end of a rattlesnake's tail. "And if I cannot? What if no one can? You must admit it mother," Steinar searched her eyes for what he hoped was in his. Fear. Hope. Anger. Confusion. Grief. But they were ice, cold and unforgiving. "No one was like father - and no one shall ever be like him again! There is nothing we can do."
Soft thuds came from behind. An emerging Elf from the woods, slowly, they came forward. It was a female, Steinar could tell from the scent even though there was some fair distance. He scented more, glancing up, watching Eerika doing the same. The female smelt of... Something, that he had not smelt since the battle. Smoke and fire. "Alva," Eerika rose; leaving Steinar to kneel pitilessly on the muddy ground.
Steinar glanced out the corner of his eye. Noticing her noticing him, he realised what an awful state he must be in. "I am sorry my lady - I will return later." She turned to leave, her light grey clothes twirling around her. A carriage had arrived for the High Nobles. Horses, which were as white as sea foam, drawing a gilded carriage of gold and ivory. Steinar stumbled upward. He opened his mouth to order the Captain to return within the next hour, just as...
"Captain Alva, I have a duty for you." Steinar's mother called after the dark-haired Elf, her pale hand reaching for the handle to the carriage door. The hand, however, dropped. Captain Alva turned back around, facing her new Lord and the High Lady. Striding forward, Alva accordingly kneeled, despite the horrible dirt.
"What have you to command of me, my lady?" Her dark head was bowed steeply. Steinar could see why his mother had made her Captain of the Guardsmen. Loyalty and honour like that was hard to come by - even harder to win in favour of you. Despite hating to say it; Captain Alva deserved her position in the eyes of the lordling.
"You will accompany my son back to the Woven Castle, where he will pack his things and return to the carriage. Then, he will be driven to the fortress of Angabar. I will send a raven after you with orders. Is that understood, Captain?" Eerika's gaze levelled Alva. Steinar could see he would not be arguing his way out of this one - then only questions remained. Many and more of them popped into his head.
"Yes, my lady," Alva bowed her head once more. Dark strands tumbled forward, nearly touching the dirt-ridden floor. Steinar couldn't believe what his mother proposed. The new High Lord of Alfheim was to cower behind a set of walls that could barely protect him! How could Steinar allow this?
"Mother," Steinar turned to her while Alva returned, once more and for the last time, to the beautifully worked carriage. "What are you thinking? I cannot abandoned the court now - they will view this as weak! It is illogical and I cannot let you commit this act of treason." He knew that his tone had gone deadly serious. He knew that his mother would be outraged at his own arrogance. He knew that what she was doing was for a reason. Nevertheless; Steinar had spoken the words and what was said, could never be unsaid. No matter how much time you had.
Eerika clasped her son's head one last time. Their breath, sweat and tears mingled together. "I will send you a message very soon. We will be together again once more. Do not worry, Steinar, my only wish is to protect you. On that - you have my word." She kissed his silver brow and let him go. Crystal tears were running down the lady's cheeks. Silently, Eerika tread to the lake's edge.
Steinar did not see his mother turn as he climbed the carriage and rode off, far away and confused into the unknown dusk.