The End of the War
The following are accounts by various members present near and at the end of the war with against the empire of Synacra.
I had waited and delayed two days already, but it was fully dark again before I worked up the resolve to speak to Beltic. There was no need to excuse myself from my soldiers; in part I was here at their bequest where I would have otherwise lingered. In the Teltaha fashion I was already showing and Lell had decided for me that I should no longer – and she would stop me if I tried to – fight.
Night watchmen switched places with each other, their footsteps and mine not loud enough to mask the not so distant sounds of Synacra’s armies. They were bunkered down like us, the light from their fires casting a subtle glow along the outline of the dotted foothills dividing us.
The Rathi’s tent was barely guarded by human standards, but a single dragon sentry was enough of a match for almost any two-legged assassin, overlapping rune-magic wards notwithstanding. Not all of them were mine either, and they flared briefly before the guard moved to let me pass.
Lord Beltic – he had been introduced to me thus, and the name still came more readily to my mind than his true identity – was bent over the day’s reports, his nose all but touching the parchment. The human moniker however, was probably the last thing he wanted to be reminded of now. I took a moment to steel myself, strangely glad that I was too far committed to back down now.
“Ahgjan. I am leaving,” I said plainly. As my own words registered I realized I’d neglected his title. He looked up sharply, a flicker of disbelief crossing his features before he consciously assumed a more neutral expression. Beltic never had cared if I followed the protocol; he knew the respect was there, and my unintentionally presumptuous oversight bothered me more than him. It was the second part of my statement that hurt him, much as I wished otherwise.
“I haven’t given you leave to go,” he observed mildly, without any threat that he wouldn’t do so. It was hard to look at him; he was trying so hard to trust me to have good reason, when it was clear he couldn’t imagine one himself. He would understand in a moment.
“If it were only for my own sake I would stay. But I will not bear my clutch in the shadow of the black dragon’s banner.” Then I really did have to look away because it was not Beltic I had wanted to surprise, to see overjoyed by that news. “No matter who leads his war parties, I cannot stay here.” I wanted to say more because the silence only emphasized the overbearing nearness of Synacra’s forces, so much greater than our own. The rest of my argument died in my throat, but Beltic moved towards me, scales rustling against the hard-packed floor.
“You should go while it’s still dark,” he said, briefly grasping my paw. I shook myself and nodded, wondering at how he could still be so kind. It was practical too, as I could manage better in the night than the human patrols; and our army wouldn’t have to watch me go. They didn’t need to lose another leader, and this way Lell might subtly take my place for a while.
The war had left me so torn between gratitude, fear and grief, that I simply felt drained; but Beltic was genuinely smiling.
“Thank you,” I said, finding my voice again. I hurried out rather than to let the quiet descend again, taking off from the boundary of the rune-wards. On our side of the hills there were only a few lights to avoid before I drove for open sky. I flew northwards, only looking back when my wings began to burn. The distance was forgiving, the spread of small fires lending an impression of substance to Beltic’s forces, while half of the enemy’s was hidden in shadow. It was encouraging, and I tried to hold on to that hope as I turned toward Yraela.
Days and days of darkness. Sitting in my tiny cell. The stench of corpses of humans, elves and dragons alike who had died in a similar cell as mine, filled the air. I had not spoken or seen anyone for the last three days. The last time I had, it was for interrogation and torture. I kept silent, only opening my mouth to spit at the fiends.
But today was different, the air was different. From afar I could hear the screams and battle between the two armies. I could sense the rage, the thirst for blood, but I still couldn’t pick out individual thoughts. I thought briefly of my old companions, Siena, Arix, Suiso, Astrophe… Finra.. The blue menace. What had happened to them? Had Finra been captured? For months whenever I had been taken out for interrogation, I had ripped off the blindfold and searched for any sign of the little blue menace. Each time I was both dissappointed and relieved. She didn’t appear to be here.. but just because she was not at this prison, didn’t mean she wasn’t elsewhere.
Suddenly a loud rattling caught my attention. Someone was opening my cell door. I got up, this was my chance. Quickly, using the bars the small hole that was my window, I climbed up to the ceiling, pushing my tired arms and legs out with as much energy as I could muster, so whoever came into the cell would not see me. The door opened, a flung myself down, using the stick I had obtained the last time they had dragged me outside as a weapon. But to my surprise, the one who had entered was not of Synacra’s army. It was an elf. A very familiar elf. The very one that I had left at Bellona’s mercy. Isidar.
“Elena!?” His face was streaked with blood and sweat.
I was speechless. He had survived! And not only that, he had come to break me free!
“Isidar… I.. I’m…”
He shook his head, implying that he didn’t care, it was the past.
“Let’s get out of here. The war is over, Synacra’s dead.”