ES: Lorrin's Story, Part 5

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Re: ES: Lorrin's Story, Part 5

Postby Graybeard » August 10th, 2014, 8:37 pm

[This one is a little short, but I decided to split the next -- penultimate -- episode into two. Two more to go, hopefully one later this week and one in about two weeks when I get back from a trip.]

Chapter 98: Clash of energy

The ground and the towers lurched once again, as the next burst of Kiyan Nizami’s mad spellcasting tore into the levitation mechanism buried beneath his own tower.

For a sickening moment, the magic of Lorrin’s Slow Fall flagged. He felt a moment of sheer terror as the rate of his descent steepened suddenly and dramatically. Then the wave of magic rising from below passed, and the spell reasserted itself. He breathed a deep sigh of relief as his descent slowed again; at least, he thought, the tower itself hadn’t toppled over to swat him from the sky.

Not yet.

Sarine saw the masonry block coming before Lorrin did; in fact, Lorrin never saw it at all.

“OH GODS!” she screamed. Then: ”BARRIER!”

Lorrin barely had time to look around before powerful elven magic flared in the sky above him and the magical shield formed.

What happened next would cause Sarine to curse herself, not merely for years, but for decades.

Magic is, at its most basic core, just another form of energy. (Well, not exactly, but close enough.) A skilled mage can rally this energy to do amazing things, but to do them, the magical energy must overbalance that present in the person or thing it is acting on, whether that opposing energy is also magical, potential, or kinetic. For most uses of magic, this is not difficult; it takes remarkably little energy, correctly applied, to mobilize a small object, affect the workings of the human mind, block the kinetic energy of a swinging sword, or even to kill a man.

But the kinetic energy of a two-ton block of masonry in free fall for three hundred feet is tremendous. A magical Barrier or Shield more than sufficient to stop a sword, or (several thousand years later) even a bullet, in its tracks is mere glowing tissue paper against such a force … and that, not a sword or an arrow or a bullet, was what was falling from above.

The block shredded Sarine’s spell as though it wasn’t there, and continued hurtling downward, toward the man she loved.
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Re: ES: Lorrin's Story, Part 5

Postby Graybeard » September 8th, 2014, 10:17 am

[Sorry this one took so long to write, but we're finally at the end -- of the main story, at least. But ...]

Chapter 99: Darkness

”LORRIN! NOOOOO!”


Sarine’s scream became a wordless cry of anguish as the plummeting block swatted Lorrin from the sky. She rushed to his side, all thought of the melee behind her forgotten for now.

In later years, the part of Sarine’s personality that was bound up with her identity as Viradior, and later Peregin – the part that revolved around duty and honor, the internal obligation to serve her fellow elves even on a mission that she found distasteful and worse – would berate her for leaving her post. Certainly, she would never know exactly what had happened in the Nizami Affair. Had the archmage really succumbed to Errant madness, as the official histories claimed? Had he been poisoned with the hallucinogen, successfully this time, as the Cimmerii had tried and failed to do at the banquet? (This was Sarine’s personal guess, not that anybody in the Council would ever ask her for her opinion.) Or had he been struck by Concussion’s Hammer, as certain humans (and a few half elves) would assert, and been literally knocked out of his right mind? If the Hammer had driven him mad, had the assassin been wielding it with intent to kill, or do exactly what it did? For that matter, did the Hammer strike the fatal blow against a mage too mighty to be slain by mortal means? That too became the center of a short-lived, but … unsettling cult among certain of her elven colleagues. No one would ever know; the Hammer had vanished (in a flash of magical light, according to some legends) by the time the sky city was being evacuated, and no mortal would see it again for thousands of years. All of these things would trouble Sarine for years, as the dutiful part of her psyche abused her for not carrying out her duty.

The loving part of her psyche, however – the part that would become the nesting place of Aetern Desiderium – would then tell that part to get stuffed.

She knew as soon as she got there that Lorrin’s injuries were mortal. The huge block of masonry had broken him as a stick is broken. None of the healing magic that she was now pumping into him, with every fiber of her being, could do anything to repair a destroyed nervous system …

… Yet for a moment, the dying man opened his eyes.

“I… love… you,” Lorrin managed somehow to get out with his last breath.

“LORRIN! NO! YOU CAN’T DIE!” Sarine screamed. But it was all too obvious that he could.

“I… love… you,” was all she could get out now herself, as Lorrin's eyes fixed and his world became black.

[Okay, the end of Lorrin Elle, and of Lorrin’s love affair with an elf – but there is one more installment of this story yet to come.]
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Re: ES: Lorrin's Story, Part 5

Postby Graybeard » September 10th, 2014, 12:16 pm

[Okay, the final installment in this long running story:]

Epilogue: A young man far from home

This town, the slender, long-haired young man decided, was definitely the most exotic thing he had ever seen in his twenty-plus years.

He was tall by human standards, at least six feet three. In the old days, before the half elves came (let alone the elves, who'd come and gone unimaginably long ago), he would have been considered a giant among men; very few of the ancient graves outside his village held remains that had reached even six feet in life. Of course, he wouldn’t have reached such a height himself back then, in all likelihood. Malnutrition and hard living would have seen to that. For that matter, he probably would simply have died in infancy, like so many of the children in the First Times did, a victim either of predators or of a disease like the one that nearly had killed him at six months of age – from which the magic of the Healer, taught to her by the half elves, had somehow saved him.

His hair was blond, long, and scraggly, and it wreathed a face that was human enough. That seemed important. He couldn’t help but hear the legends that surrounded him in town, that many generations earlier, a beautiful and powerful half-elf priestess had come to their remote village to give birth to a man who would grow up to be tall, blond, and powerful – and to have very slightly pointed ears. The priestess never talked about the child’s father (although the child would bear his last name, which was unknown in the land of the village), only that he had existed, and he had loved her, and had gotten upon her a son whose son’s son’s son, out through the generations, would be a mighty man for his people – and for hers. He'd tried to ignore these legends as he grew up, and the people of the village were too busy trying to survive to fixate on them, but they were there.

The pointed ears, and all other signs of half-elf ancestry, had been diluted beneath visibility by the time this many-times-great-grandchild came to offer himself to the half elves as a strong right arm. Had he known what this ancestry implied, he would definitely have thought that was for the best. Something – the humans of his village weren’t sure exactly what, but something – had happened over the years to create discord between elves and humans, and whatever it was, the discord between the elves and the half elves was far worse. The young man remembered the day, only a year or two ago, when a pair of hard-eyed elves had come to his village and demanded to see any half elves in town, to “inspect” them for physical defects that they might “cure.” For the first time in his life he heard the word “Errant” whispered by awestruck watchers, although he had no idea what it meant. The headman had convinced the elves that there were no half elves in the village, and the elves had gone away; the young man would never know how fortunate he was that this particular headman was unaware of the story of the young man’s ancestry.

It had been a long, hard journey to get here. Like most humans, he knew little of the history of the shadowy, remote town called Santuariel; all he knew was that it was founded as a result of that conflict between elves and half elves, and that it was supposed to be a place of peace, a place where the three races could still live in harmony as they had hundreds of years earlier. He also knew that it was a place that didn’t call attention to itself. That presumably was one of the reasons why, contrary to the peaceful reputation, a heavily armed half-elf man was glaring at him from the guard gate along the road into the town.

“State your business,” the soldier rumbled.

He’d been expecting this probe. “Sir, I come in peace. My own town, far away, has heard stories of this city, and –“

The soldier interrupted. “You come in peace? And how does that explain the sword at your side?” He gestured at the weapon the young man was carrying.

He’d been expecting that, too. “Sir, my people have taught me that those who desire peace must first prepare for war. I have learned the ways of the sword from my earliest childhood. I have also learned not to draw it without the most compelling of reasons. And I have learned that the defense of a place where all the races can live in harmony affords those reasons. You need defenders. My people offer me as such a one.”

“And why is that?” the soldier probed.

This question, too, had been anticipated, but the young man realized that he didn’t really have a satisfying answer. He knew only that something – hard wired into his bones or genes, perhaps, or a response to those myths about his past that he tried hard to ignore, maybe the result of that visit from the elves, but something – had impelled him to come here, with the blessings of the village he had left behind. He gave the answer he’d prepared, unsatisfying though it might be.

“Because my people believe in this place.” His jaw took on a stubborn set.

That seemed to suffice. The man nodded. “Very well. Wait here while I fetch our weapon master.” The gate still not open, he strode through the rear door of the gate house. The young man fidgeted for a few long minutes, and then –

By the Holy Mother.

Coming toward him was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. She was elven, the ears made that clear, but shorter than any elf he’d met before, and possessed of a most un-elven figure that the Viradior armor did nothing to conceal. She had a hand on her own sword, but as she got to the gate, it fell away, and she too stood gaping. An observer would have noticed that her heart beat fast, she was breathing hard, and her eyes were open wide. For a moment she simply stood staring at the young human, and then she muttered under her breath, “No… it can’t be…”

“Is something wrong, ma’am?” Now why had her eyes got that far-away look in them? He didn’t know, but they made her even more attractive as she visibly shook herself and answered his question.

“No, no, nothing’s wrong … very far from it. You just – you — you reminded me of someone I knew once, a very long time ago, a very long way away. You – you look so much like him, you could be his son … except you can’t, because … because … he died …”

The young man had learned empathy along with his skills as a swordsman. “I’m sorry, ma’am. It sounds as though he was a very special man.”

“He was.” She looked straight through him, but not at a place, rather at a time a few hundred years earlier. Her breathing ratcheted up another notch, and she shook herself again. “I’m sorry, I’m making a fool of myself, I shouldn’t be acting this way in front of a newcomer to our city.”

The young man smiled. “It’s okay.” It was; he was already half way in love with this small, emotional – beautiful – elf. He didn’t yet suspect that the feeling was entirely, explosively mutual, but he’d learn that soon enough.

The elf woman finally pulled herself together. “Well, welcome to Santuariel. I think we’ll be – working together. My name is Viradior Sarine -- no, wait, that's my title too, I'm just Sarine." She was the first elf the young man had ever seen who actually blushed, and he thought it incredibly appealing. After a moment she got it together, with a shy, almost girlish smile, and spoke again. "May I ask what your name is?”

“Elle, ma’am. Thorin Elle.”


--- FIN ---
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