Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2002 5:00 pm
Location: Exeter, UK
[T&C] Two Long, Chill Days
Two Long, Chill Days
North Myreth. Yesterday.
The old man trudged relentlessly through the snow, ever northward. Though the cold air would numb the bones of a far younger man, it was as if he did not notice.
Strange, he thought suddenly, to be so free after so long, and yet to be fearful now for the first time, what did it mean. Above him, a bird cawed, revealing the depth of the silence by shattering it.
He closed his good eye allowing the bird to see for him.
Ahead. Trees, trees, trees. Snow, snow, mountain. Ice. Frozen men. Grave.
"My, my," the old man said, grinning. "I see I'm not the only one who's been busy these long years."
Southern Myereth. One hundred years ago, and one day.
The wizard himself had chosen the clearing in the forest - the site of the first massacre - for the ritual. Uncounted thousands of Elven hierarchs knelt there, spiralling out from the dais at its core. The wizard, resplendent in golden robes that offset his ashen skin, peered out over the throng. Flanking him, two guards - a man and a woman. The wizard looked up to the sun, and sighed.
"This was a poor plan."
"I agree, Master Syneri. You should have accepted more guards than us," said the man, peering out over the endless masses of his cousins.
"Mm. I was referring to the human's revenge. Wounds older than a century drove this war, but humans think mere decades will soothe old hatreds. I am not afraid of the Elves, Fahlyn. They have resigned themselves to their fates... which reminds me. Come here." Syneri twisted off a ring from one of his fingers as Fahlyn and the other guard approached.
"I am leaving after this. Morghen has shown his contempt for me by refusing to be here today, and I threaten our house if I remain. Fahlyn, I appoint you my heir. Take this ring."
Fahlyn blinked at the archmage, "I-I-I..."
The woman pushed him forward.
"I cannot accept this, Master. I followed you, and Lord Dythanus knows this as well. He will come for me."
"No, he will not. His wrath is reserved for me. Take the ring, Fahlyn. It will transform you as it did me, remaking you with only the ideals you hold closest. Keep it safe."
Fahlyn took the ring, and held it up to the sun. Colors ran off it like oil on water. He turned to the other guard, and smiled. "Wife, will you still love me as lord of our house?"
She grinned. "Beloved, I-" She started, then lunged forward. A faint whistle filled the air.
Fahlyn turned to the direction it came from, and saw an archer in the trees.
He drew his blade and pointed at the man - a human. "Assassin! House Syneri, capture him alive!"
As one, three hundred Elves stood suddenly, drawing blades and charging into the forest. Satisfied that his will would be done, he turned to Syneri.
Syneri knelt next to the woman. The arrow stood proudly from her throat.
"A cleric," Fahlyn whispered, his voice suddenly lost to him. "A CLERIC!" he shouted, but none came.
"It is too late, Fahlyn," Syneri spoke quietly, reaching out for Fahlyn and guiding him gently to the ground next to his fallen bride. "Only the greatest of us could save her now, and he is in Athanaes now. She is lost."
Fahlyn willed the tears back as he cradled his wife's head in his lap. For long minutes, he stared into her eyes. Finally, the sound of marching awoke him. He looked up, and into the eyes of his closest lieutenant.
"The assassin," the Elf said, and the others threw the man down before Fahlyn. Fahlyn gently lifted his wife's head, then placed it on the ground of the dais. The man bled freely from a dozen wounds, and whimpered with the effort of trying to stand, but he was alive.
Fahlyn looked at the killer, then at the wife who died stopping him, then at the man she died saving.
Fahlyn opened his mouth to speak, but Syneri spoke for him.
"But Master, she died in your service, she died to save you. You haven't cast the spell yet, and this man is as low as the Elves we fought. She deserves what he took from her, and he deserves only death."
"You are correct in these things, Fahlyn, but I will not allow you to raise her. That time is past."
Fahlyn stood, then drew his sword. "Do it, or I'll kill you myself."
Syneri rose, drawing his own blade. "You know better than that, Fahlyn. I've killed Elves before. Don't make me do it now. You're too good a man to waste, and the Elves have too few idols left as it is."
Fahlyn sneered, but sheathed his sword. As Syneri moved to do the same, Fahlyn lunged forward, and wrested the perfect blade from the archmage's grasp. With one swift motion, he beheaded the killer with Syneri's blade, then threw the bloody weapon into the woods. He turned to Syneri, and saw all about them that the Elves, though kneeling, watched and heard all that happened.
"Cast your damnable curse, then, and know that House Syneri rejects you as you rejected it." As Syneri looked on, sorrowful, Fahlyn twisted Syneri's ring onto one of his fingers. "You said that this ring will make me whatever I desire. So be it.
"I will be the death of all things."
North Myerdeth. Yesterday.
The runes over the slab glowed dull red. Though the stone itself had numerous tiny cracks, it was frozen fast to the cave mouth. A cold hand traced the counterspells along its surface. In moments, the stone melted away beneath the old man's touch.
At first, he thought the howl was merely a passing wind, but it was too furious, too focused. A faint light rose in the cave, and moments later a man appeared, drew the old man into the cave, and then began pummeling him barefisted.
"I knew you would return! You robbed me of my wife, you murdered generations of your kin, you holed my people up in this cave, but I knew you would be back. I will kill you, Syneri!"
The old man shifted, and let the spectre see the exposed bones of his face. "I am not your former master."
The spectre stood back, and, suddenly calmed, peered at the old man. "Dythanus."
"Morghen. What do you want?"
"It is not what I want," the lich said, cautiously standing. "It is what she wants."
From just outside the cave, a woman appeared. Her very form faint enough for the spectre himself to wonder if she was truly there at all.
"Arionrhod," he whispered.
"Your wife, stolen from you those long years ago by Syneri's whim. I was too late to perform the spells properly, however... given time, she will fade still further, unless..."
"Unless what, corpse?" asked the spectre, glaring at Morghen.
Morghen smiled, his rotting tendons pulling partial cheeks back along his teeth.
"Master Syneri had a book."
Laurence J Sinclair