Sunday, 16 December 2012

The Tale of Years - Part Five

For the complete story click HERE

The Dread Seer of Vorshgar

Of Elves and Dwarfs and of the ancient realm of Nippon

Unwilling to watch the Elven prince Bel Shanaar revel in his stolen throne, Malekith and his sister Alatariel set forth by ship to explore the wide world that was left to them in the wake of the daemon horde's defeat, a journey that would take them away from their homeland of Ulthuan for over sixteen hundred years. 

In the Old World, in the long shadows of the World's Edge Mountains, the pair met and forged a bond with the stoic and stunted Dwarfs, a noble race created too by the magic of the Old Ones. Joining with the Dwarfs, Malekith fought bravely against the ravening Orcs and the darker tainted creatures of the forests left behind by the corruptions of the daemons. 

A great hero, Malekith became renowned for his inspiring leadership and brilliant martial prowess. Soon he was appointed ambassador to the High King of the Dwarfs, Snorri Whitebeard, on behalf of Bel Shanaar; not allowing the irony of this station to vex him... outwardly. 

And all the while, his sister, the fair Alatariel, watched and remained quiet, merely learning everything she could about the peoples and creatures that they met. She was a student of every aspect of the world's ecology and anthropology, gathering to herself greater knowledge and perspective perhaps, than any other observer before or since. 

Content with their explorations of the lands of the Dwarfs, Malekith and Alatariel journeyed farther afield, into the lands that would one day be known as Tilea and Estalia, to Araby and then east to the Dark Lands and the Dragon Isles. They crossed the Mountains of Mourn and journeyed south through the eastern swathes of the great continent. They travelled to Nippon, most ancient of human civilisations, a paradise that had remained untouched by the fell fingers of chaos because of the protection of the Three Eyes of Providence.

Malekith remained for years there, sharing the knowledge of the combative arts he had learned from his father. With no natural enemies, the peaceful Nipponese had no use for the ways of battle but they admired the precision and grace of these "martial" arts and gladly absorbed them into their culture in ritualistic form as a means to sharpen the mind and body. 

While Malekith remained in the largest settlement of Utsukushi, Alatariel wandered the islands, guided by a young boy named Takeda Nagatar. She travelled from the tip of the great northern island to the foot of the south, bringing fellowship and happiness with her gifts and kindness. She earned great trust from the simple folk of the Nipponese and was allowed even to look upon the bright light of one of the Eyes of Providence, showing her gratitude with a little smile.

Into the land that would one day be known as Great Cathay went the travellers next, journeying ever northward into the Eastern Steppes. Here the very land was tainted from the touch of Chaos but the pair were undeterred. They went on into the increasingly bitter conditions, determined to witness all this world had to offer them before their time of exploration was done.

And they came finally to the dead and abandoned city of Vorshgar, a terrifying place formed of colossal stone slabs of material seen nowhere else in the world, with steps too tall for elves or man to climb easily and doorways that towered many hundreds of feet tall. The catacombs beneath the city plummeted thousands of feet below the tundra into dismal and unplumbable depths.

In a lower chamber the pair came across a place for the keeping of precious things; a place of great cold and darkness. If the history scrolls tell us anything, they speak of the cursed Circlet of Iron that Malekith found here, a tainted crown that gestated the seed of evil his birthing had brought into existence; that set him finally on the path to damnation and to all the devastating acts that he went on to perpetrate. But no other history but this speaks of the trinket found by his sister in the same cache, an amber pendant that seemed innocuous on first sight.

Alatariel placed the pendant round her neck and fell immediately into death.

Flying to her side, Malekith did everything he could to rouse her, but in vain. Alatariel was fully dead; no longer any part of the world of living things. The elf lord was more deeply aggrieved than he had ever been before. For days he knelt by her corpse, weeping for his lost sibling, but in time, as the Circlet of Iron on his brow worked its terrible magic, he got to his feet and turned his back on her. He knew it was time now for him to begin his journey homeward, to return to the land of his birth and to the origin of his self-imposed exile.

He left Alatariel to the ice.

But the beautiful elf was not dead; merely slumbering in the dark places of the mind; and when sixty four days had passed her eyes snapped open. They were no longer Elven eyes however. Now, they glowed darkly, almost black, with no whites visible Now they gazed upon vistas no mortal creature had ever known.

The she-elf smiled for she could see all now. She could see almost to the very end of things and she knew what she had to do; what her dark purpose was at last.

She could see all of future history stretching away before her and a billion turning points that might take it in any one of a myriad directions. She could see all possible futures and she could see the one she wanted with all her heart; the one she realised now she had the power to bring about.

In her mind's eye she could picture a broad valley with black mountains to the north and the World's Edge mountains to the east; with a black gulf of sea reaching in from the west. She could see badlands to the south and a time when a great Empire that was yet to exist would think itself safe to the north.

She could see a seemingly unstoppable force arising from a southern land of the dead that for now harboured only life and the war that might occur there, in this valley; in this devil's pathway - a last chance war - to prevent all of civilisation from falling into ruin.

Alatariel gazed long into the dark paths of the future and saw how it all would end and she let herself smile long and broadly.

This was only one of a billion possible futures whose events were perilously unlikely to occur. Left to its own flow, the future would never pass through that valley; these events would never occur. Left to its own flow, the world might truly become a paradise.

Alatariel climbed back to the snow swept surface and started walking away from the great abandoned city with stark purpose.

That was something she would have to ensure never happened. 

This Last Chance War would occur if she had to redirect the mighty flow of history herself. 

Her destiny was set.

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