Blackwater wasted no time expelling of the sick surrounding the home. Fenix’s lightrod blinded them and even knocked a few over before they were engulfed in Johann’s flames. Kraiven slipped in to quickly dispel of the rest. It was child’s play.
The Elves hurriedly continued to direct them down another road that led to three way intersection. Straight ahead was a tall, lengthy building with a pointed roof. Its windows were boarded and it hazed in their vision as if surrounded by heat. Ragged Elves stood twenty feet away from it, facing the building and seemingly pressing up against thin air.
They crept forward before Fenix rushed and bashed one of the larger creatures. The Guardians followed him with an onslaught of their own, taking on even more of the more formidable enemies. Fenix kept his distance, but rained fiery death as Kraiven took to Fenix’s back. They fended off the lot, one by one. The creatures were ruthless and took the lives of some of Fenix’s men…but they did not die in vain. The company stood victorious.
The guiding Elves Mendir and Seregil continued their breathless rush to the front of the building to a set of ornate, tall double doors. Still standing twenty feet away, the haze prevented entrance until Johann opened a portal to the other side. The others stepped through with ease and found themselves facing the stunned Elves. To say they were impressed would have been an understatement – they were in utter shock.
Seregil spoke an Elvish word and the haze disappeared for a moment, bringing clarity to their vision. They continued forward to the doors and once they cleared the perimeter, she spoke another phrase to bring the haze back. It surrounds their view outward.
“It is to protect us. From ourselves,” Mendir explained grimly. “A ward that blocks any living being.”
Seregil opened the doors and beckoned them inside. There was less of a rush now and the men noticed the sense of relief found in a safe haven.
They entered a high roofed and gorgeously decorated library. Its tiles alternated a pearly white and a frosty cyan as carved bookshelves held thousands of books in long aisles. A white cloaked man stood at the far end, standing in dim candlelight.
“Explain this quickly, Mendir! From here I already see more now than I saw depart!” He shouted. Mendir looked upon his guests with a slight bit of regret as he whispered not to move. He jogged forward with Seregil to have a quiet conversation with the man at the end. It ended with an eventual, “leave us.” as he waved Mendir and Seregil away.
“Step forward strangers. I’ll only hurt you if you deserve it,” he said with a stern voice.
Some stepped forward, while others split away. Johann felt the pull of a book that piqued his curiosity. It was a deep dark red embroided in golden writing. A serprent consumed it’s own tail on the cover as an Ouroboros.
The man was Ferindar Roydiian and he had problems of his own. Once the ambassador for Mandragorran, he was stationed in Vanya’laide during the Goblin War. In fact, he was the only human to do so. It was his marriage to Carlinya, the monarch of the Elves, that kept their alliance cemented. Their love managed to unite two nations at war. It kept strength in the wall that held back an onslaught of darkness and death.
Until he lost her in the invasion of Tessaran late this past year. The dark forces of Turius continued their attack upon the nation of Vanya’laide until they finally broke into the walls. The battle in the city lasted for weeks before the Elves pushed the darkspawn into the Ways. There they would have an advantage and would preserve their beloved city.
But the soldiers found a wasteland already inhabited by darkness. The fight a war there, sealed away, protecting the nation they left behind of only merchants, craftsmen, children, and artists. Ferindar was all they had left.
And then the Red Cough came. Elves began to die by the hundreds until they dwindled down to enough of a population to fit in the cellar of the library. And there they cowered beneath a ward as a war they have heard no news from in months raged on another plane of existence.
“They think you’re here to save them, gentlemen," Ferindar said almost amused. "Ten minutes in their city and you’re goddamn folk heroes. The Kolindos en’Anoron. The Bringers of Dawn. Catchy isn’t it? I bet it would roll of the tongue if I had pointed ears. C’mere.”
He led them down the aisle Johann already stood in. Ferindar could only gape in wonder. Of all the books in the library, Johann had in his hands the one he meant to show them…and it was open to the page he wanted them to read. It was a prophetic poem that spoke of the healers of the Elven heart when it finds weakness. Of heroes that would save them.
At a price.
Blackwater had to agree they would do two things upon entering the Ways.
1. They would need to rendezvous with the remains of the Elven military within the Ways. Inform them of what is occurring in Tessaran and urge them to return.
2. They would also need to collapse the Ways in order to cut off the Darkspawn that resided there and destroy a tactical tool that currently was serving as more of a weakness.
They agreed and some dispersed to settle in and explore as Godric continued with Ferindar. A short staircase brought them to what seemed a cellar, but had similar floorspace as the library with a much lower ceiling. Hundreds of Elves lay, sat, talked, and some even laughed. Some noticed Godric and could not help but stare.
Ferindar paused to reflect a moment and then said, ”Looks like you already have a couple of fans. I guess you’re their hero now. Good luck.” He returned up the stairs as a young Elven man and woman take notice and hurry toward Godric.
The Elf speaks excitedly, “It’s you isn’t it? You’re here! Just like the prophecies claim. The Bringers of Dawn. I am Kortahl and this is my partner, Nymil. We are to be bound. I request humbly…as in it would be an honor…if you would head the ceremony and if the others would speak,” he went on to rush to explain that he knew they had business to attend to and would be happy to do it the next morning. They would keep it very brief. The room became silent as others began to crowd.
Godric provided a simple, “sure,” before the crowd erupted in joyous shouts and applause. Some of the others came downstairs after the commotion and he filled them in on the wedding. There were no arguments, the Elves had provided them safety and supposedly a means to the Ways. It was no more than a minor inconvenience.
They all finally retired to their rest before waking the next day. No light came through the boarded windows, but morning was signaled by the bustle of dozens of Elves preparing the front area of the library for the wedding. A simple arch was placed, as were some cloths and dead flowers. They did the best with what they could. Ferindar approached them with a sheet of parchment.
“I took the liberty of writing the ceremony words in Common, well phonetically, and splitting them up for you. I gave the holy man the last words too, I think they’ll like that. Just pronounce them the best you can and you’ll be fine. I think they’re just excited you’re going to be there. Hell, I think they’re already setup to start.”
He asked them to follow him around the edge of the library to the now well candle-lit front area. Kurtahl and Nymil stood before the arch hand in hand in wrinkled, but clean long and flowing ceremonial garb. The large crowd gathered and filled the middle aisle as they fell silent. Ferindar said something to the crowd and then nodded to Fenix to begin.
They each spoke their lines to the admiration of the people. The ceremony was short, but beautiful as a bright moment lit the darkness of the times. It raised spirits and inspired hope. Love during war. Kurtahl and Nymil turned to each other and leaned in to kiss and mark their binding.
It was cut short as a scream came from the back of the library. It rippled into more screams as the crowd rushed forward, almost trampling one another. A center column cleared to reveal a head-twisted corpse and five Shades as they had seen in the Swaying Maiden Inn at Argrim. They floated down the cleared path toward them, black-cloaked and ghostly. They uttered unintelligible hoarse whispers.
The Shades moved deftly and sliced with barbed, black blades. They seemed genuinely uninterested in the Elves as they focused their damaging onslaught onto Blackwater. It took every ounce of strength they had to destroy the darkspawn. It left them wounded.
Besides the sounds of dwindling panic, they could hear the occasional cheer from the crowd and shouts of “Kolindos en’Anoron!” after their victory.
“I don’t know what those were," Ferindar said. "My ward should block anything alive…but those may not exactly fit that description. Gather your strength. If you still have half of it, the path to the Ways should prove a simple task.”
He approached the people and ordered the beginning of the cleanup. Kurtahl held a frightened Nymil on the other end of the room and nodded a grateful approval to Blackwater.
“We need to depart while the sun is high. The ill tend to hide in shade and that often takes them off some of the roads. We should be able to make it to the Temple without a struggle. The others will tend to burying Enaios…” he trailed off in the now quiet room when something interrupted him. A deep, pained cough from a young Elf in the aisle.
Seregil, the young Elf that first believed Blackwater to be heroes and followed them through the Dvanalison Sylvania fell to her knees coughing. She checked her hands to find them not yet red. Her horrified expression was followed by silence until Ferindar spoke again.
“Seregil…Seregil I’m so sorry. You…you can no longer stay here,” he said with genuine regret. His voice was shaky and his eyes were full of sympathy.
Seregil began to shed silent tears as Mendir and Eristor embraced her. Her eyes tightened and her lips pursed as she spoke with fiery determination. “Well since I’m leaving anyway…I’m coming with you.” She started after her bow and her belongings.
There was no denying her.
“To the Temple of Corellon, then,” Ferindar said. “May He protect us against the darkness.”