[RP Episode] The Flower and the Frost


#1

With hurried, youthful steps, Malvor trotted through a small side passage to the bottomless central hub of Helcar, Rhae and Que-Yu walking behind him. Once again mounting a elevator platform, and flipping a lever, the three dropped straight down into the heart of the Sorni city.

Past elves and torches, flying down past bridge after bridge, catching glimpses of a myriad of tunnels and passageways running in all directions away from the shaft, filled with elves of all shapes and sizes. Children frolicked, pursued by parents, shrieking their delight in the chase. A few levels further down, sounds of miners, tapping away at the stone could be heard. Veins of gold and silver shone in the rock, extracted by the clan who found no real use for such soft metals. Iron was their trade and coal their fuel, for which they delved deeper and farther each day. The King’s deal with the Midlanders was being upheld, on one end at least.

Suddenly, they were through, and the platform on which they swung rushed down, the walls dropping away on either hand. Beneath them, stairs and pillars ran up to meet the roof, swarming with elves of all kinds. The Niirai had crossed into the Deep Halls, as of yet the first of any but the Helcelen to pass the ringed gates. It was a vast space hollowed out into the ancient rock by ancient hands, and held by pillars hard and strong. The hall ran in all directions as far as the eye could see, outcroppings of rock rising from the floor and hanging from the ceiling. At one end of the vast space, a wall that seemed to have been buried by the silent stone stood, carvings of unknown chieftains and warriors sunk into the stones.


At the head of one such stair, the platform halted its movement, coming to rest on the grey paved brick, worn smooth by many feet. Malvor still leading, the small group followed one stair and then another, rising and falling throughout the space and finally following a long thin bridge into one wall of the gigantic cave. After twisting through several passageways, Rhae and her bodyguard found themselves in a longhallway, with many doors leading off it. Walking along determinedly, Malvor choose on such door, knocked firmly on it, and entered, the Niirai close behind.

Inside was a series of rooms outfitted much as the guest halls in which the Niirai were prepared, except instead of furs, several hundred incredibly ancient manuscripts were housed on shelves. They were both undisturbed but not decripit. Someone had been caring for them.

“Malvornion? Suilad!”

A very old and bent elf, whose hair was so long it nearly reached the floor, and wore a robe of grey instead of a cloak, shuffled around the corner. His face was old, and wrinkled by age, but his eyes twinkled with joy. He opened his mouth to speak, but at the sight of the Niirai stopped in amazement. He walked slowly towards them, carrying a cup in his hand, in wonder and shock.

“Elen síla lúmenn’ omentielvo! I did not think to see your kind in my lifetime, or in Malvor’s! I am Yaran Parmandur, or as you would say it Yaran Loremaster. What are your names?” His use of the common tongue was very old, but flowery, as one who has learned only from books.

@Aragottix


#2

Rhae smiled, she was sure this old elf would be worth the many lengthy stairs and turns to get here, for it were the elders of a people who usually kept knowledge sacred. ‘‘My name is Rhae-Ming, and this is my companion, Que-Yu.’’ she introduced them both as they bowed their heads. ‘‘You know of our kind?’’


#3

“Wecome, Rhae-Ming, daugher of the south, and Que-Yu, soldier of the south. You are most welcome.” Yaran bowed. “There are legends and prophecies that speak of other elven kinds, and of a great coming together of north and south. But they are only legends, and our king prefers hard fact. But for those who wish to learn, there is knowledge to be had.”


#4

Her eyes widened in wonder, ‘‘I have met with your King, we have shared knowledge. He spoke of no such tales.’’


#5

“He knows the stories, for he comes of a line that was noble and once spoke with gods. But he has lost his way, like most. And there are few now who hear what old Yaran has to say.” The scribe said with a hint of sadness in his ancient voice. *“And such tales are often without details and evidence, and are therefore not to be relied upon when leading kingdoms.”


#6

‘‘Indeed.’’ Rhae nodded, her own culture was full of folklore and legends as well, many of them prophetic. ‘‘I’ve come to you seeking answers about ‘‘the edge of the sea’’, as your people call it?’’


#7

“So Malvor mentioned that, did he?” Yaran frowned at the young lad who looked nervous. “If you introduce a topic little one, you should make sure you can speak on it.” He turned back to Rhae. “I can tell you this tale, yes. In full, if you wish, though every accounting would leave us here when spring arrives.”


#8

Rhae gave Yaran a blank stare, he had worded himself in such an odd way, she was unsure if he would be able to enlighten her on the topic, or if her request is too overwhelming for him, or both.

‘‘Sure?’’ she replied, awkwardly.


#9

“Follow me, then, if you will. Malvor, find Rhae and Que-Yu some drinks please.” With that, Yaran turned and moved into a small little room, with fur covered chairs around a fire. A low table in in the midst, covered in pens, parchement, and old books whose pages were threatening to fall apart en masse. “Please, sit.” said the elf, who was now rummaging among a pile of older manuscripts in one corner. “Ahah, here it is.” He held up a small book with battered leaves in triumph. Shifting his old bones to the fire, he briefly glanced over the contents of the book, and placed it on the table in front of him. With a grimace, he crossed one leg over the other, and stared into the flames of the fire burning merrily.

“The Edge of the Sea is not merely a place, it is the name of a great epic which was once sung through all of Helegeron. It is also known as the Fall of the Elves, depending on the storyteller. I can either recite to you the saga, or I can abbreviate the story. Which would you prefer?”


#10

‘‘Which ever you have time for.’’ Rhae replied. She was interested of course, but she was unknowing how much this elf’s time she had already taken up, and had distracted him from some other duty he would otherwise need to perform.


#11

“I will give it to you then as best I know, without excessive details of the minute, but the important happenings only.” replied Yaran, still watching the fire. “As for time, I have that and to spare. Few come and talk of such matters, even the King who finds books of all kinds fascinating.” He cleared his throat, and began.

“There was a land, far away from here, beyond league after league of the treacherous waves that surround this continent. And thousands of years ago, before man awoke, the elves lived in peace. There were green pastures, endless plains and towering mountains. Every type of growing thing imaginable that was good dwelt there, and the elves lived in harmony with each other and all living things. For endless ages we roamed the fields and dens, acquiring knowledge. For once we were immortal, young but wise, and we had not yet felt the sting of death.”

“We worshipped the God of Sea and Tide, who we called Nenar, which is to say Water. For then too, we were still great seafarers, and journeyed often out of sight of land, our great ships carrying us to lands that no man has seen. And we spoke with the god on the highest height of a mountain which we had made our home, very similar to Helcar here.”

“But all goods things perish, and do not last. For one day as we were rejoicing in our strength and in our craft and in our beauty and in our peace, Nenar came to us, and spoke that the mountain would soon fall for the other gods would soon reshape the earth to their liking and our home would crumble into ruin about our heads. In great terror and fear, we cried out to him for help, saying ‘Help us, Lord of Wind and Tide! Lest we perish in the great destruction that is to come!’”

“And the god replied: ‘Build ye ships of wood and steel, of cloth and cloak, and get ye south beyond the horizon. For there is a land both green and good, which shall be a haven for all elves.’ And so we did, and make greater ships than had ever been built before by elf, whose like is not in the world today. Weeping bitterly for the land we would lose, we boarded the ships and sailed, the god sending a stout wind that blew us quick and far beyond across the waves. But behind us, a cloud gathered, and the green turned white, and the mountain reeled, and those ships which had not yet departed froze, covered in ice. But we did not turn back, and fled south, searching for the land foretold to us.”

Yaran sighed. “But we were deceived. For the land we found here was neither green nor warm, but cold and hard as ancient bone. Winds tore at us, snow froze us, and fire failed us. The winds sent by the god turned and held us against the icy coast, and we could not even search for a better place to land. And we cried aloud for Nenar to save us, but no answer we heard.”

“Then came a great storm, and smashed our ships on the rocky shore. Swimming to the land, and building homes from the wreckage, peace survived till the food began to run out. Then elf fell on elf, and all turned to blood. The great elven nation reeled under the torment, as for the first time immortals died.”

“When spring came, the few who had survived were huddled in the huts, staying in groups that fought for survival against each other. We fashioned spears and swords from the wreckage of our ships, and slew one another for food, and learned to hunt the animals we had once called friends. But we knew not yet the terror of this land.”

“It snowed all year, and never thawed. Spring was no different from winter, and summer no different than spring, and our numbers dwindled into the mere hundreds, where once thousands had stood. Finally however, the god came. But he was changed.”

“He spoke to one of the elves, and how he was no longer to be called Nenar, but Olosse, Snow and Ice, King of Frosts and Foe of Fire. He had brought us here to draw us closer to him, and strengthen us for the great tasks which he had prepared. To this end he touched the elves, and they suddenly found themselves white as the snow that buried them, and no longer felt the breath of cold. The dialogue between the elf and the god runs thus:”

And after we had fled from our ships to be cast upon this new land, I felt in the depths of my soul a stirring. The mountain called me, and so I answered.
I made the terrible climb. I scaled the cliffs, and walked the slopes. And upon the pinnacle, on the edge of a sheer cliff that sank down into nothingness before me, I saw him.
All in white was he clothed, and white was his armor, and white was his lofty helm. Eyes of blue beneath a crown of pale ice. It was cold when I arrived at the summit of the mountain, but when he looked at me, it grew yet colder still.
And he said unto me: Son of The Sea, will you serve the Father of the Cold? And I said to him, ye lord.
And he said unto me again: If ye would serve, say unto thy people, keep well the marches of winter. For there shall be two great tests. The first ye shall overcome, and all will tremble in the hour of your triumph over that test. But the second shall come, when elves fight elves in a land that snoweth not, and the stars are strange.
And I rejoiced, that we should succeed in the test of the god. But he said to me, Son of the Sea, did ye not hear? If your people tarry in my domain, then shall the second test be all the harder, for those who receive my gifts must pay a price.
And lo, I looked again, and I saw that the god had left me.
“Then the elf named that mountain the Wintermount, and told what he had heard told this to the elves, who gave themselves the name Helcelen, from the word Helce, which means ‘Ice’. And the elf returned to the mountain where the God had come to him, and is said to wait there for him still.”

“The elves for some years awaited the great tasks, but when they did not come, they fought against one another, for nigh on fifty years. Then it was that the first High King was elected, and soon after his ascension to the Frozen Throne the first test came.”

“The first test was sent to us by the God very soon after, and nearly destroyed the Helcelen utterly. The tale does not mention what it was, but the Teranor was slain in the fighting. Afterward, the clans attempted to rebuild, but fell again into war and ruinous fighting, and so it has been ever since. That is the story of the sea’s edge, and is an abbreviated history of the Helcelen, as it is recounted by legend, song, and myth.” Yaran finished speaking, and closed his eyes in thought.


#12

Rhae took in every word Yaran spoke with keen interest, and when he had finished, there was one question in her mind that stood above all else. ‘‘There are, or… were, other lands out there?’’


#13

”Indeed there were. Since the Flight, or Fall depending on how you see it, numerous attempts were made to return home. Only one ship returned, and crew were frozen half to death. They lived only long enough to speak of endless ice and terrible creatures that dwelt near our old mountain home. Nothing more do the Helcelen know of those lands, and the last who would have known has not been seen in two hundred years.’For the one to whom the god spoke journeyed agin to the Wintermount, and there abides until the world ends or the ice thaws.’” recited Yaran. ”The elven prophet who learned of the great tasks is supposedly still there, and various High Kings have made the treacherous climb to speak with him, but he’s never answered, sitting in silence with hair black as night.” Noticing his wandering from Rhae’s question, Yaran apologized. ”Forgive me, but that is all I, or any other Helcelen knows.”


#14

‘‘His hair is black?’’ Rhae asked, confused, ‘‘None Helcelene I’ve seen has black hair.’’


#15

”That is what the tales say.” Yaran shrugged. ”Such an elf, if he is even still alive, predates any Helcelen living. Perhaps the god spared him as a reminder of what was before.”


#16

‘‘Or perhaps the story is just that, a story.’’ Rhae thought to herself, as immortal beings have only been known through legends, and no solid proof. Any fool can claim to have spoken with beings of legend without evidence. She felt like she had heard enough of their supposed history, and decided to ask about their actual history.

So she changed the subject, ‘‘Do you keep historic records? Note down events as they happen so future generations can learn of and from them?’’


#17

“Aside from legends, no. The young learn from the old, and all that remains in the old books are prophecies and stories written in ancient times.” Yaran said. “Some few of us remember our history, and are consulted as if we are books by those who wish to learn, much as you are doing now.”


#18

‘‘But history is precious knowledge lost if it is forgotten by its people when it fades from everyone’s memory.’’ Rhae pointed out, ‘‘It is through studying the past that we can foresee and know what to expect in the future, simply by looking at the patterns of unfolding events, and their outcomes.’’


#19

“Aye, that it is. It does not fade, but lies with me and my peers. And apart from few of the Helcelen knowing how to read and write, parchment is rare in Helegeron. To use it for the jotting down of old happenings would be a waste when there are wars to be won is a waste in the eyes of most Helcelen. Our King is different though, I think. There is a great thirst for knowledge in him, and I cannot answer the questions he asks. ‘What is beyond the mountains, beyond Midland? Why can we not endure the sun? Is Olosse real, and why has he not spoken to us again if he is?’ I do not know the answers, and so he seeks them on his own, being young and still lithe and limber.” Yaran sighed again. “Once I was like you, full of hope and questions, but now I wait to pass my knowledge to the one who shall come after me.”


#20

Rhae cringed, as if in pain, ‘‘Oh, using parchment for the jotting down of old happenings is a waste of precious parchment when there are wars to be won? I didn’t realise said parchment was such a crucial part of battle that it needed to be spared so.’’ Rhae teased, getting tired of how these elves can think about nothing but fighting, fighting, and fighting. ‘Especially if said jottings could help people keep a lasting peace between factions by not making the same mistakes over and over again. Wouldn’t want to get bored, now, would we?’’