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Rated: E · Chapter · Fantasy · #2221701
This is the Prologue of a story I am working on.


To Die

"Enough!" he shouted. His mount, a pale horse with a translucent, triangular horn, snorted, suddenly startled. "We all know the Primordial you have communed with is foul and I shall heed no more."

Five of his seven guards, all clad in segmented armor shining like glittering silver and each with a radiant gem-like leaf embedded on their chestplates, commenced ushering barefooted prisoners toward the center of twelve white pillars, huge columns segmented by long cylinders of glass that arose high above. A lone female Elvenar stood inside this hexagonal structure, surrounded by shelves holding hundreds of books, telescopes of pure crystal, and hovering, wave chaises that offered all the comfort and entertainment these captives could ever wish for.

Such a structure had not been built before--the need had never surfaced--for these Elvenars thrived in a society of high morals and values, a society in which the language lacked derogatory terms, violence was nonexistent, and all members, of high means or of low means, royal or servant, cared for each other as brothers and sisters.

Iridescent, magnetized bracelets of clear glass detached following the approval nod of Melsimedes, a renowned highcaller who silently observed his guards and the prisoners from the fluffy saddle of his mount. Like his brethren, Melsimedes' milk-white skin appeared to emit light, and unlike his kin, from his long white hair two natural highlights of silver hung along the side of his face. His pupil-less epicanthus eyes radiated like the clearest and brightest of diamonds.

"All of you shall here linger until the very last of your days," said Melsimedes to the prisoners, "alongside these primordial offspring you have dared to call upon."

The rest of his glittering guard began to haul six-legged beasts, harnesses and chains of glass ringing in response to the pull. With sustained, low growls and piercings of their elongated claws into the pale grass, the black beasts refused at first then complied, as if the prisoners had somehow commanded them to, perhaps telepathically. In their beliefs, even these loathsome beasts deserved caring and mercy, regardless of how menacing or savage their appearance or nature; it would not thwart their love for all living things.

Melsimedes maintained an eye on the beasts being guided past his mount, "To us all it is evident that your curiosity has gone too far, Andraste."

A cool breeze from the east swept Andraste's hair to her left and across her face, silver only along her hair's ends. This did not deter her gazing back at him with bored, indifferent eyes resembling the murkiest and darkest of moonstones. She neither responded nor revealed an emotion in her demeanor.

"Yet we shall never disgrace the Light Mother and in this kind punishment we shall be endowed with more of her affection," he said while guards magnetized the flat, squared end of chains to the surface of a glass cube jutting from the ground. Other guards returned with sacks of edibles, and a galloping unicorn became visible in the distance.

As the beasts now padded within the limited reach of their chains, aimless, and the prisoners listened to every spoken word, emotionless, Andraste's mind drifted away from Melsimedes' ongoing sermons. She scanned the prairies in the north far behind her captors, where the grass transitioned from a dull, whitish hue to a healthy, vibrant green. There she found tranquility.

Countless herds of diverse wildlife encircled artificial ponds in relative peace and harmony, from the smallest with only their long, lilac-colored ears visible fluttering from side to side above the grasslands and the humblest clumped together to groom their dazzling snowy furs, to the wildest basking in the heat of each other's burning tails and the mightiest in their skins of stone and antlers of living shrubs. By the ponds hovered stone statues of long limbs and slender build, the exact resemblance of these Elvenars, their hands cupped to their mouth in a kind, welcoming gesture; a pair of green gems on each of their faces encouraged order, ever watchful, ready to beam ensnaring magicia at any of the volatile predators present there.

Andraste raised her sight. Above the wild gatherings, slowly-rotating halos of stones and gems provided a resting safe haven for the many different flying flocks of birds. Wingless, golden and featherless birds zigzagged like eels do, stationary gentle giants harnessed the unending wind currents with their feathered, quadruple wings spread out, while birds of fins of ice and plumage of indigo leapt off to dive back down toward the still ocean waters far below the cliffs to the east.

The black beasts Andraste and her collaborators had summoned caught the eye of the messenger reining in his mount, but his approach failed to have the same effect on her. Thoughtful of what lay to the west and ignorant of the messenger and Melsimedes' conversation, Andraste's mind continued to drift; she now contemplated the remote cities of massive arches, the lush gardens and colorful forests in the outskirts, the temples of marble and their crystallized interpretations of the Primordials.

She loved all living things and cherished her lands no less than her brethren did, especially the immense city in the northeastern horizon resting just below the pale branches of an even larger tree. Andraste wanted to do all and more to protect Illumiria, her birthplace, her family's greatest pride and ultimate legacy, the grandiose, disc-shaped city her ancestors envisioned and directed in its creation; but someone's conspiring against her led to her present fate.

"The convergence now awaits for you to lead the communion," spoke the messenger, his voice agitated.

"Why the need for such haste?" questioned Melsimedes; his eyes had not left Andraste the entire time. She had taken notice of this and avoided visual contact.

The messenger shifted in his saddle, unwilling to speak the news in the presence of Andraste. Carrying a cushion holding what appeared to be black eggs, all oval in length and viscous to the touch, a single guard stood in front of Melsimedes to await his attention.

The silence compelled the messenger to speak, "The Humes have traversed the Gifts of Edas, Guinevere, and Sereem, Lei Hazur and Nor Vidan have fallen to their plunders."

"All in just one day?" wondered Melsimedes, and like every Elvenar here, felt little astonishment compared with the deep sadness overpowering him, for many days prior to this day they had arrived at a difficult resolution. They have chosen to abandon their cities--allowing the Humes' invasion to be swift and unopposed--over the heinous act of slaughtering thousands of Humes with their more advance magicia and weaponry.

Andraste had a disagreement.

The largest egg resting upon the cushion held by the waiting guard began to crack, releasing a tenebrous miasma from within that spread with a slow, sinister crawl. Two other guards gathered around in anticipation to danger. "Yes, I am afraid. They march through our dominions with great speed, soon they shall--" the messenger managed to warn before a small creature emerged from the ominousness, struggling to be free.

"This creature..." murmured Melsimedes with a feeble tongue weakened by his sorrow. He breathed. "This creature shall be the subject of my studies." The messenger shot a concerned look at Melsimedes.

"Take it and leave the rest," he requested.

The guard did as asked. He walked inside the structure to place the eggs down and return holding the newborn reptile, which scratched ferociously at his gauntlet. Once the guards stood safely outside the pillars, another proceeded to stand in front of what resembled a pedestal, of white marble and segmented by glass. At its top two radiant gem-like leaves, identical to the one on his chestplate, lay at the very core of a rendezvous of glass conduits, and on the remaining empty socket the guard let a third gem adhere itself. A previously unnoticeable slab of crystal flickered in a luminous display of sparks and shimmers, the pale grass beneath them lit in the same way, yet faster and wild, with zigzagging lines spreading to every stone pillar. The guard turned to face Melsimedes; the front section of his helmet's partitioned metals slid along the sides to reveal his face, and concerned eyes identical to the rawest and darkest of amethysts.

Melsimedes hesitated to give the command.

Andraste stood next to and laid her hand on a column, her bare toes inches from the bright line that connected every pillar to draw a perfect hexagon. At that moment she could easily made a run for it and then speak a spell. Or better yet, call upon the aid of a Primordial. She was a highcaller also and not just any highcaller, Andraste was the greatest.

"Set the device online," firmly commanded Melsimedes at last, words that weighted heavily on her heart. "Mayhaps, Andraste, in a brighter day you shall receive the Light Mother's absolution." With astonished eyes set on Melsimedes, Andraste stepped back with palm flat on her chest, as if withstanding a great emotional sting of utter betrayal. The guard exposing his face succeeded in convincing Melsimedes to reconsider but not discouraging, and four seconds later he nodded and turned--equally troubled--the moving metals retaking the shape of a sealed, glittering helmet. Reaching out to the flickering slab, he sorted through and finally pressed on one of the many images on its surface.

Three days have come to pass, and three more during which Humes bewildered at what separated them from Andraste and her collaborators--a wide light beam composed of ceaseless glimmers flowing upward and merging with the brightness of the sky. To her long and backward-curved ears, these Humes' rapid foreign speeches reminded her of bubbles under water. They wore garments of dark dyes too horrendous for her eyes and she found their habit of eating the flesh of animals repulsive. But, she was astonished by the physical similarities they undeniably shared with her, being this the first time she laid eyes on Humes.

Standing watch, the majority of the Humes present here sported muscle cuirasses and greaves of a brownish bronze, with a short sword in their grips; contrast to the few others dressed in colored loose robes and large, pointed hats, wooden staves held at their sides.

A ripe, fruit-bearing flower relieved a prisoner's hunger, a wave chaise aided another prisoner succumb to his dreams, and heavy, open books distracted three others. They all knew these primitive Humes lacked the necessary knowledge to be capable of freeing them. "This is of Melsimedes' design, he alone understands its inner workings," Andraste had told her collaborators, and with little interest on the Humes examining the pedestal and her sparkling confinement, her frustrations had fixed elsewhere.

Far to the north, tents crowded the prairies where thousands of Humes infested the land like a swarm. The guardian statues lay shattered, allowing the Humes free reign across the land. They guzzled the waters, tore down the tress, and hunted the fauna without pity or remorse, leaving drought, destruction, and death in their wake. Yet Andraste breathed relieved in the face of all the unspeakable desecration, for she could see that the way up to Illumiria had eluded them all. It was her goal to prevent the Hume conquest of material greed, or at least strike back at the occupying forces. But betrayed, confined, and abandoned by her kind, Andraste could do nothing save continuing to watch as she had for the past three days, her promise to fend off their dominions impossible to be realized anymore.

Those that she had promised to, the prisoners sharing her fate and her resolve to fight back, had chosen to follow her and do her bidding; aiding her in the forbidden research of a primordial that only mythical legends dared mention, in the stealing of a Life Leaf from a most sacred tree, in the forging of unnatural pacts that would certainly curse them for a lifetime. The acceptance of having failed following so much sacrifice left her hollow.

The time of dissatisfaction and hopelessness came and went days before; the time of sobbing and tears still lingered for some of these Elvenars. Her focus drawn to the sobbing to her right, Andraste laid a hand on someone's shoulder, her face kept high and forward. "Never reveal these Humes our weakness," mentored Andraste as she patted the young Elvenar's hair, "the light shall leave us soon. Find your peace in dreams, Yandris." Yandris, an adolescent Elvenar girl with eyes similar to the purest and lightest of morganites and with a crescent-shaped streak of silver along her white hair, sniffed and strolled in silence toward a vacant wave chaise.
On the very surface of the sky overhead, the intense brightness seemed to move ever so slowly toward the south, shadowed by a rising darkness steadily intensifying along the northern horizon. By the time the sky had darkened in its entirety, Andraste too dwelled in her dreams.

"Highcaller Andraste!"
The hailing woke her. Everything within and near the glimmering prison would have been pitch black if not for the light generated by their confinement's walls, the very same walls that now pulsed, almost disappearing completely between each beat. Without any concern over what she perceived, she sat on the edge of her wave chaise, her legs dangling in the air. She had her mind set on not falling to one final trick from Melsimedes. Her followers, on the other hand, had congregated by the sparkling wall directly behind the pedestal. It stood out of their reach, of course, but the same could not be said of the Humes that had surrounded it.

"It is not the essentica, Andraste," one of her followers pointed out, turning to face her. Andraste frowned in confusion, dropped to her feet, and strolled toward the others. A gathering of torches in the distant blackness revealed an approaching platoon. She eyed the three radiant, gem-like leaves attached to the pedestal. Each gem shone too brightly for any to be to blame for the current instability of this prison. Then she realized a most obvious truth. Melsimedes, you wished to be salvation and retribution all the same.

The pulsing of the walls came to an abrupt halt that left them all sightless by a total darkness; glass harnesses and chains rattled and chimed to the ground, followed by the emergence of deep animalistic growls. At that instant, Andraste became overpowered by her love for all living things, and stepping back she began fearing for these Humes far too late--for an eruption of louder growls began intermingling with the surging noises of tearing cloths and shattering metals, of screams of frightening surprise and of moans of excruciating agony.

In this darkness an Elvenar could see far less than any Hume; however, they could hear everything twofold. Her followers' footsteps resounded everywhere as they fled from the slaughter, the cries of the Humes becoming a storm of torment all around them. Andraste turned away too, and resisting the impulse of running from this place she dropped to her knees with her ears covered and her eyes sealed shut. She sensed her heart skipping beats every time a scream reached deep into her ears, as if it wanted to give up and stop. Her lashes became wet, her lips dried, a chill shrouded her whole. Alone and tempted to commune with the Light Mother, she only gasped and gasped until it all came to an end. When it did, when the darkness grew silent and a strange light started illuminating her surroundings, she could no longer feel alive.

If more of this is what must be done, I am to endure. She opened her eyes. Far to the southeast a mighty conical light ray got hold of her attention. The light rose skyward from a deep crater enclosed by bright grass and flora and from which the topmost of what appeared to be a brilliant white sun could barely be seen. Forgive me, Light Mother.

Perceiving a voice in her mind calling her, Andraste rose to her feet, weak, and determined nonetheless. Her followers were absent, Yandris watched from afar.

"Andraste..." the voice of a woman called.

She turned.

The black beasts dragged and piled Hume corpses together and from the mangled dead materialized the strangest of clouds, docile, alluring, glowing, and twinkling. It hovered right above the corpses, part of it flowing gently toward and into the bodies of the beasts. Andraste stepped closer to observe the bloody silhouettes; one beast now had two heads, another had three more pairs of legs. Essentica is their nourishment, she concluded, watching them complete their metamorphic division. They had doubled in numbers by the time that a colorless miasma grew from the ground dancing like a flame. Using the corpses as kindling, the miasma stirred with a ghostly, hypnotizing sway, vacuuming the remaining essentica in the air, which faded to black upon contact with the scorching miasma. Shielding her face she had to back away unable to withstand the increasing temperature.

"I shall teach you anger," the voice boomed all around her, the fading lights from the essentica subsiding the more of it the miasma consumed. "I shall teach you hatred." Yandris stood at Andraste's side. Together they contemplated as their surroundings returned to pitch black darkness. "Vengeance shall be yours."

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