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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24. Steinar

The Main Hall, Angabar

At the other end of the hall, doors creaked open slowly. All was silent until a string quartet livened up and played the most heavenly music; though there was something about it that seemed rather more like war than peace. Fireflys, the lordling grumbled in his mind. His mother had told him he was to attend a ceremony of coronation - for a lady of the southern quarter. Finally they had found someone suitable to rule the desolate area of Alfheim after the incident a century ago. Steinar was most annoyed; why should this female be more important than him? He hadn't even had his own coronation yet - and he was to be the next High Lord. What on earth have we come to? the lordling asked himself in disgust.

Steinar was on the left side of the hall, second in from the aisle. Mikken was to his right, the new watch dog over his person. There had been several protests at being watched over by an Elf nearly as old as Steinar himself, not to mention he did not need one. Nonetheless, his mother had insisted and so he was stuck with the noble Captain of the Guardsmen. Wearing his finest, the lordling clutched at his white silk half-cloak that hung loosely over his leather jacket. Shifting his feet, Steinar glanced up to his mother. Eerika was stern upon the dais, looking at the female who was walking down the long aisle, covered with a red and gold velvet carpet. Everyone was bustling with excitement - or anxiety, for this was a Firefly after all. House Firefly, banner, words, current head and magic. Write them down quickly boy. Steinar remembered the lesson from his tutor where he had learnt about the dreaded house, all those years ago when he had been but ten. Fear had been a permanent emotion as he heard of their powers, the alien-like features to their species; how Firefly's destroy, where everything else about his people make peace. Their only job is war, no wonder we have been loosing this one. Steinar felt a sudden burning hatred for them all - if they had just forsook their affinity for fire, how many people would have been saved? Hundreds, thousands, millions? Whatever the amount, it was gone, unimportant.

Music continued to fill the air, all sharp and clear unlike the person who was going to end up on the throne. Steinar could tell there was a harp being played, lutes, zinks, and viols its company. Deep in the background was a horn giving a baseline to the sweet song, a weird ally to the music that Steinar was sure he would never forget. It was eerie, haunting as everyone turned to person walking from the doors. They bowed collectively as she stepped into the large room. Shuffling and swirling and fumbling with silks, satins, cashmeres and velvets rustled over the music for a moment - jut a moment - as they all submitted themselves to the new ruler of the Southern Quarter.

The music quietened itself to a murmur, a slight whisper amongst the smacking of boots and the thudding of bar feet on the floor as they moved in relation to the dais. Eerika was still waiting patiently, the bearer with the circlet just in the shadows, waiting to be called upon. Steinar turned his head back round and pinned his eyes to the floor; he dare not draw the attention of a Firefly to him. They would be acquainted enough later. For now, he was fine to witness the passing by of her feet and the boots of the one escorting - though there was a very long train that swathed the floor in black as she glided by.

Steinar rose, along with the others, and turned to see Ragnar bowing at the heiress to the Southern Quarter. The Captain kissed her knuckles and walked steadily to the left of the dais; disappearing from anyone's interest. The female watched him go, then returned her gaze to the High Lady. Eerika indicated for the dark-haired Elf to rise right after she curtsied. My mother must really want to get this over and done with. Steinar assumed, the female gliding towards the red throne. As she turned around, the train was twisted around her; giving some illusion that she was growing from it like the garment was a tree's trunk, she the branches. Then the lady lowered herself down, and the lordling realised who it was.

Mikken cast an apologetic look as Steinar threw a glare in his direction. "Your mother kept me to secrecy," he murmured amongst the hushed room. Bewildered, he looked back to the dais. Eerika was looking at him out of the corner of her eye, ordering him to be silent, to be still. So he stayed and watched. Watched as Alva rested upon her throne, her throne, and looked over them all with unnerving eyes. She truly was the Lady Firefly Steinar had been expecting, a stranger indeed. They would have to be very well acquainted later it seemed. At least her name is indeed Alva, the lordling remembered as they had been fighting and he had so desperately hoped for that to be true. Her name, Alva; female Elf, simply stating who she was and nothing less.

Eerika had started to read the lady's title, a very long one where Fire-User and High General were involved. Alva, now all those things, somehow made Steinar feel that much smaller in her wide gaze. The bearer came over, the pillow holding the age-old Firefly crown. The High Lady lifted up the silver frame, rubies glistening as if they were entrapped flame, and rose it for all to see. As Eerika walked to Alva, Steinar felt her eyes fall on him. Those dark eyes connected with his, full of coldness; as if she had forgotten everything within a few moments. The lordling knew he was distraught, that his eyes portrayed the emotion, but he could not move. His eyes stayed with hers, his feet to the floor, his hands at his sides. Slowly, his chest rose and fell from the short, ragged breaths he took - nothing else would lead anyone to believe he was alive.

Alva turned her dark eyes back to the room, probably hoping that no one had seen her looking at Steinar. However, it would not matter, for they had been cold and dead to him. As they were to the room while the circlet was placed around her head, while a song was sung, while Fireshields drew swords and took their vows on their knees, while everyone else knelt and curtseyed to their new Lady. And her title was read out once more by the High Lady before everyone rose.

"Kneel before Alva of House Firefly, the First of Her Name, Lady of Angabar, Lady of the Southern Quarter, Protector of Her People, High General of Alfheim, known as a Fire-User and Shield-Maiden, called the Kin of Demons, the Firestorm, the Soldier of Anonymity. She is your liege, your master, your general; you are to obey when she orders, to listen when she speaks and to follow when she leads. Long reign Alva!" Eerika finished and in her turn, curtseyed. The phrase was repeated throughout the room, echoing off of the grey walls. Long reign Alva! Long reign Alva! Long reign Alva! over and over again until she commanded silence when she stood. That first word, though, proved that she was no longer his Captain, no longer his Alva.

"Rise," her voice was commanding yet still so familiar, "I thank you all for coming to my coronation. I hope that I may serve you well, that this war will come to end during my reign. May Frey bless you all." Alva finished, curtsying slightly, before escaping to a small room behind the throne - a whole detail of guards in check. Steinar bowed with the rest of the hall, rising as the door closed shut on him. It was to the whole, entire room, but it felt too much like that clang was a signal or him. That everything he had learnt for the past month had ended. Everyone began to file out of the hall, a murmur running through them like a fast current at sea creating the most enormous of waves. Steinar remained where he stood, Mikken still at his side. Eerika trailed down from the dais to her son, most of the attendants already out and on their way to leave or rest.

Eerika did not offer any explanation to Steinar, instead turning to the Mikken. "Captain, take Steinar back to his rooms. Do not let him out for whatever reason. I will be there later, I have duties to attend to." Mikken nodded and turned to the lordling. Indicating that they should move forward, Steinar edged backwards though his stare remained locked with Eerika's.

"Why didn't you tell me?" A harsh whisper in the desolate room, carrying a monstrous amount of pain, anger, confusion and suffering. "Why didn't you tell me!?" Steinar felt Mikken grab at his arm, those moss green eyes persuading him to move on. Walking backwards, Steinar remained facing his mother as they approached the dual doors that closed off the Main Hall. He turned around, wanting nothing but to leave and get away from his mother who had lied, deceived and done nothing but cause him trouble and anger. Despite all of that, there remained the fact that he was his father's son; Steinar must always have the last word. "I will never forget this, mother, never - not for all my years to come."

And the doors shut on the barren hall.

***

Steinar paced in his lounge. Still wearing the garb from the ceremony, he felt uncomfortable, distracted at the new revelation of Alva's true identity. "Why didn't she tell me?" He asked the ceiling as Mikken walked in. Receiving a glare, the Captain stopped dead in his tracks. "I don't want you in here," Steinar grumbled as he resumed the incessant pacing. His footsteps were the only sound in the room, no fire and no wind to give way to other noise. Even though Steinar had hinted at ordering Mikken gone, the male remained at the door. After a while of watching the lordling stride the same stretch of floor repeatedly, he closed the door to leave them alone in the place. Steinar sighed while Mikken made it clear he was to stay.

"I thought you might have questions," the words were soft from the Captain's mouth, a coercing of speech from Steinar. Despite the obvious aim behind it, the sentence achieved what Mikken wanted.

"Who knew? How did my mother know? Did my father? Why do you? Is Ragnar Brosae involved with this lie? Is Alva the Alva Firefly, the one who was supposedly killed over a century ago? Why tell the realm only now? Was there some point behind it all? How can I trust her? How can I trust anybody? Is she coming to court? Will I ever be allowed to see her?" Steinar's voice came out even more distraught than possible, but the most heart-breaking was his lost question: "Why was I not told?"

Mikken loosed a breath, still at the door with his eyes stuck the ground. "You should sit down, my lord, for this will be a long story." So Steinar did sit while the Captain stood in front and told the tale of Alva Firefly. There were parts here and there missing as he did not know everything, but most of the picture was captured. She was the daughter of the late Lord Firefly, who had been murdered along with his wife. After that, Alva had escaped and ran to the capital, finding her distant relatives; Lady Eerika and her husband. They had taken her in, raised her like a lady in secret while she took on he guise of Captain of the Guardsmen. In truth, when it had seemed as if she were guarding them, it had actually been them guarding her. or the past century, she had played the role well - watching over Steinar for his whole life. And then, they had come here to Angabar and trained and fought. So her secret was revealed, no point in hiding it any longer. Eerika had her crowned. Alva was at her rightful place. Steinar had been kept in the dark.

"Why was I not told?" The sun was lower now, as the lordling sat up and repeated the most important question. "Mikken, please tell me why." He felt them on his cheeks, tears which shimmered in the low light as the candle sputtered low in the holder. Mikken piled logs onto the fire, giving a structure around some kindle before grasping a candle and throwing it to the hearth. Flames roared in the quiet room, the dead room. Steinar kept his head low, those blue eyes peering up into the orange tongues which licked at the beginning of a chimney.

Getting up Mikken grunted and dusted off his hands. "You were not told for your safety," the Captain turned to his lord, "and hers." Steinar gave no reply, no indication that he would either. Mikken stood there for a while, the silence carrying out in an endless wave of dread and broken faith. Before long, the lordling was slumped back with his face covered, the Captain about to leave.

"Captain," Steinar heaved himself up, everything still perfect as if he had just been dressed. "You will take me to Alva." Where Mikken had just opened the door, it shut on itself, the sound destroying the rumble from the fire in an instant. Turning to his lord, the male seemed in pure disbelief. "I must see her, I do not care for what my mother says. Besides, I see that I am the High Lord - not her. At the moment of my father's death, she no longer held any power over me and never will again. So what say you, Mikken Terrar? Will you listen to the wife of the High Lord or his son?"

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