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.


12. Steinar

The Front Gates of Angabar, Alfheim

She was behind him. Alva's back against his. Is that even your name? Steinar thought. He knew this wasn't the time but... such a lie could not just be put aside so easily. The fire demons came at them once more, breaking Steinar's train of thoughts. The lordling and his Captain greeted them kindly: with steel and blood. "Get down, my lord!" Alva ordered as she took out the first three in one fell swoop of her daggers. Steinar rolled out of her way and watched as she gracefully disposed of the monsters before them.

When his tutor had said that war and battle were a dance, he had not expected it such as this. The Captain literally twirled around on light feet, as if this were some ball. Steinar could only smile at her beauty where he had once found her annoying. That dark hair was tangled and messed up with dried blood. She was a warrior princess. Nothing else like her could be found, Steinar knew that in his heart. For a brief moment, their eyes met across the gore and darkness.

Black and blue in all that horror.

Gone before they could catch the moment, the two were off with different partners. Steinar rallied his courage and anger once more, hacking at the things before him with such malice - he became afraid. Pictures of his last battle appeared, imprinted on his eyelids. Every time he blinked and gave way to that wavering shadow; his father's haunting features appeared. They blazed like the fire of the demon's flesh that stood before him. Guttering and wild, something had to be done to quell them.

Stay calm, my lord, Alva's voice whispered in his head from the many session they had had when the world was but a small, calm river. When times had been so simple. Why must the ocean always change its tide? Such was the curse of an immortal life. Or any other. Stay calm when the tides turn, when the winds break and the fire starts. Then you will the ultimate advantage on the field. Her voice came once again.

It was a distraction, the lordling needed to block it out. Like those pictures of his father's dead figure. Steinar couldn't manage it all at once. A demon attacked him from behind as he fended one off from the fore. The spear punctured his left shoulder. What good was flying now? His major advantage was gone. Despite the views on our gift of flight, it is a road to a swift death and a barricade to kill our enemies. "Shut up!" Steinar hissed as he reached over and broke off the shaft of the spear. Tossing it away, the Elf dealt with his attacker then carried on. No grief at all.

Alva was too far away from Steinar. The duo could not converge and rely upon each other. Separated, they had to deal with their own problems independently. Arrows rain down upon you as fast as starving beasts on a rotting carcass. They will shoot before you even begin to get out of their range. Her eyes, Steinar pictures them. Their black depths becoming alive. Many of our brethren have died from becoming airborne in battle.

"Quiet!" a shaft of light broke through his armour and down that beautiful, ancient sword. The demons cowered at the purity converted beneath such alien demeanours. Watching the front lines of his enemy literally disintegrate to dust, Steinar could not help but smile. Somehow, Alva had helped. Despite the stretch of scorched, cracked ground between them; Alva was still of aid. And forevermore in this desperate battle.

Light as a feather, Steinar loosened his sword hand around the sweat-slick pommel. It became less of a burdened, the heavy metal a mere extension of the Elf's body. Strong as a bull, he drove the weapon home, through the gap between collar bone an ribcage. Crunching and grinding through with jagged movements, Steinar had pierced three demons at once.

Quick as a shadow, withdrawing, the lordling moved forward to the next fire-spawn scum to come across his darkened path. The dance started again. Blackened and broken as it was, the battlefield was their elegant ball room. Far apart, though they may be, Alva and Steinar were dancing partners. But not a sophisticated waltz nor a bouncy foxtrot or a irregular-beat cha-cha. Rather more, a fast-paced and lively blade-flashing, blood-drenching, noise-crashing and pallid-affection of an affair. For sure, they twirled and tapped their toes. They twirled to dodge the reach of enemies' malice-edged weapons. They tapped their toes in confirmation for the deceased that lay stricken before them all. Their beautiful, bright bundle of clothes flapped around them, licking at the disgusting creatures' flame as they carried on with their graceful spins and footwork. Metal rang against metal, singing in the thunder of the orchestra. The ensemble was featuring all the singers of well-known battles: war cries, breaking bones, tearing flesh and the beautiful sirens of their weapons assaulting each other for the end of their opponents' lives.

The Bloody Fortress was truly earning of such a petrifying name.

More demons flooded the compound. Their soldiers outweighing the Elves by ten to one, if it were that at the least. Their dark armour revealed nothing but the cruel intent of genocide and dominance. We are coming to the end now, Alva had told him in those final few moments where they had been alone, together. "Certainly Alva, this must draw to a close. There is nothing I can do otherwise, I am sorry," Steinar turned his head to where the Captain fought. Her silver jerkin and pants, with their pitch boots and brown leather belt, pulsating in the festering horror of the battle. She was such a beauty - how could Steinar have ever hoped for her to be his? He titled his head back, the platinum braids cascading down his back, short though they were. Breaking apart, the clouds unveiled the stars for a moment. "For my people Frey, is that not good enough for her?" Steinar whispered to the on going night. "All for her."

He uttered the words as light escaped from every inch of his body. It was not the demon's primal fire or his mother's graceful and healing rays... It was his own, caught between the two. All his rage was in the light's grasp. His sorrows and joys, his loves and losses. Nothing could have described the lordling so perfectly as his magic. Having been taught by Alva, Steinar had though he would have gotten nowhere but a mere glimmering line of light. That had not been the case. Who are you Alva? That same question echoed through his mind as the light tore apart all the demons inside the fortress.

They were strung up and cast aside like mere rag dolls. Up in the sky, between life and death, some called upon their flames - to no avail. Others tried to throw their spears or fire arrows - to no avail. The remaining few tried to run - to no avail. This was not something they would ever escape from. Nor could they fight against it. This was a lord's duty and no one else's. How could they compare to that?

Steinar felt the jaws of fatigue stretch out and almost clasp him. Shaking off an unbidden sense of sloth, he carried on. It attacked him again and again, until they no longer welcomed sleep but death. Alva had spoken of this. Draw on your power too much, and it will consume you. So use it in short and effective blasts, nothing more. This way, you can carry on for hours without even coming close to your edge. How long had he been going on like this? Minutes, hours, days, weeks? Surely not-

"Steinar!" Alva's voice. "Steinar!" his name came again, from a different person and place. His mother. Eerika was here. She should not have come. Nothing could be done now though. Not while his magic was raging inside him, he was angry - so it was angry. Angry at those who had threatened his people, stopped Alva and himself from saving there realm, for luring his mother here, for attacking a half-guarded fortress and... and... for taking his father away from him...

The screams became louder. Why was the Captain and his mother so loud? They were at least one hundred feet away, in no possible way could they sound like they were right next to him. Light pierced through the gloom. Breaking apart the misery like a knife through butter; it was all too easy. Was he that powerful? Was this what Alva and Lady Eerika had wanted all along? His thoughts became distracted by the screaming. It was tearing him apart. Piece by piece, little by little, he was falling away - ashes in all that fire.

Something appeared to the right of him. A demon. Its horrible, disfigured arms wielding a scythe of black malice. Uplifted was this weapon, the perfect angle for striking down a taller opponent. In other words - Steinar, himself. He couldn't move, that part was obvious. But for his people... he would rather become a martyr than die cowering in some distant castle like his parents would have wanted him to. Like how the many advisors would have wanted him to. Like Alva-

No, Steinar roared in his mind, she would not do that to me. She would not make me do something dishonourable. As the lordling thought those words, he remembered their journey to the Bloody Fortress. Having ordered him into the carriage, Captain Alva had dealt with their assailant wraith on her own. Wait... Steinar was caught adrift in the flow of that memory. The first time they had been alone.

"Don't ever do that again," he had so ferociously whispered. But the Captain merely nodded her head - and kept her word. Was he not now in the midst of one of the mot important battles of this war? This was what he wanted, was it not so? "Such a fool am I, Alva, such a dreadful fool..." Steinar croaked as the blade descended.

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