Of Darkness Born
Kalavai ran lightly by Rowan, one eye on the gelding’s movements and the other on the placement of her feet. Living with the elves had taught Kalavai to learn how to use her inborn grace to her advantage, and it had not taken her long to learn to walk and run as silently as the elves. She was running the reddish brown horse through his paces; Rowan had sprained his leg one day running away from a stray wolf that had somehow gotten into the horse paddock. It had been a week since that incident, but Kalavai wanted to make sure that he was fully healed before she began riding him again.
It had been a year and a half since Kalavai had first arrived at Mirkwood, and no one who had seen the timid, skeletal waif she had been before would have recognized her if they had not know her well. Her frame had filled out, though she had retained her slenderness, and there was muscle where there had been nothing before. Her green eyes shown vividly with a love for life (and Dayarvon) and there was always a healthy color to her once pale face. Her hair, the golden white shade typical to those of elven heritage, had grown and now hung down to her waist in a beautiful elven styled braid.
However, her experience with Mordraug had left definite markings on Kalavai. Various other scares had joined the old ones on her back, shoulders, and arms. And she still had, and probably would have for the rest of her life, the scare down the side of her face where Mordraug had carved her flesh with a dull dagger. These pale silvery scares shown vividly against her skin, pale elven skin though it was. Every now and then, her hands would travel up to the scare on her face to trace its length and her eyes would shadow. But time, along with the help of Dayarvon and her friends Legolas, Arwen and Ianithiel had healed most of the wounds, internal and external.
Right now Kalavai was thinking of Rowan’s gaits whether or not she should be able to ride him again, not of anything even remotely related to her past experiences, and so the sudden vision took her off guard.
Again the walls were dark, gray stone; again she saw the hideous alter. But this was different, the color of the walls was darker, the aura of magic was not the sickening twisted green of Mordraug, but a deep blood colored red that filled her vision and mind. However, it was not the hauntingly familiar yet different surroundings that haunted Kalavai. Rather it was that someone lay on the same alter where she had lain before. An elf, with his throat slit, his blood covering the stones in a hideous red sheen. An elf that Kalavai recognized, an elf she knew very well. For the dead elf lying on the alter was Dayarvon.
Kalavai recoiled in fear and horror, and even as she did so her lover’s corpse rose. His hollow eyes stared at her, pleading with her and a single arm reached out to her, fingers outspread in an unspoken call. Then his face changed, to one like him yet not, and the corpse no longer was Dayarvon. It was like him, in figure, but his hair was blond and his eyes a sharp, piecing blue. Then the figure changed yet again, into a strange looking woman, skeletal in her thinness, and desperation in her terrifyingly beautiful silver gray eyes. There was a flash of dark red, blood red, it was raining blood and two slender mocking eyes could be seen through the gory haze. Without warning just as it had come, the vision was gone, and deep within the grasp of shock Kalavai collapsed. She was back, back in the clearing, Rowan anxiously nuzzling her hair.
Shaking, Kalavai twined her fingers into Rowan’s mane and carefully pulled herself up. Unable to move, she leaned against him. It had all seemed so real, so horribly real, and Kalavai felt a sudden need to have Dayarvon at her side, to make sure he was safe. But she could not move, her limbs would not respond. Her body felt like it was numb. But her mind was not. The vision had meant something, something important, something that hung on the edge of her awareness, just out of reach. She was still standing there, trying desperately to figure out what it was, when a pain filled roar reached her ears, and for the second time that day, Kalavai collapsed.
* * *
Yamyrri launched off with a powerful thrust from her hind legs, huge golden wings cupping the air. In a few strong beats she was high up in the clouds, racing along the air currents. She had not really flown since arriving at Mirkwood and was, in her opinion, terribly out of shape. And besides, the excuse of needing to stretch her wings in a long distance flight gave her time to get away and let free the restlessness that had been nagging her.
Yamyrri did not quite understand why she was restless; she was happier with Lakaríön then she could ever remember being in her life. But the open skies called to her, the pulsing wind awakened a restlessness in her heart that even her love for Lakaríön could not quench. So she flew on, the now familiar woods of Mirkwood diminishing in the distance. On and on she flew, until something at the peak of one of the unfamiliar gray mountain captured her attention. Spiraling downwards on a particularly conveniently located draft, Yamyrri focused her keen eyes on the speck; however it refused to become focused.
Attention captured, she maneuvered into a twisting dive that should have brought her directly to the ledge on which the figure was standing. However, shortly into the dive the current she was following picked up, and spun Yamyrri out of control. The world was spinning wildly around her, and Yamyrri knew that if she didn’t break out of the air current it would crush her against the all too close rocks. With an immense effort Yamyrri snapped out her wings and leveled off, barely managing to complete a rough landing on the ledge. She collapsed onto the welcoming ledge, wing muscles burning. When she finally regained her breath, Yamyrri looked up at the figure that had compelled her so.
The beautiful golden creature stared in horror. Here she lay, exhausted and vulnerable, at the very feet of the creature she thought she had killed so long ago. Narvglor looked down at her, smile filled with sweet venom and fanged teeth.
For a moment he just looked at her, lying there on the ground. Yamyrri tried to rise, but found that she could not control her limbs. All she could do was stare in despair as Narvglor raised his hand, fingers spread out as if welcoming her. A tiny speck, the color of blood, formed in the palm of his hand, rose and drifted towards Yamyrri. She could only shiver in fear as the speck neared, slowing coming ever closer. Then, at once, it erupted into a thousand lances of burning, blood red power, and each one flew towards Yamyrri, piercing her thick scales. Yamyrri roared once, a deafening cry of pain, then her body went rigid, frozen in place.
Narvglor lowered his hand. Smile fixed on his face, and walked up to Yamyrri and, as if to whisper an important secret, leaned down near the frozen creature’s ear. “Miss me?”
* * *
He was dreaming. He knew it from the moment he saw the unfamiliar forest. Tadryil gazed at the silent forest, curiosity warring with caution in his sharp blue eyes. The forest was unlike any he had seen, the trees seemed to be made of colorful, shimmering crystals. However, but for the first few trees near him, the forest was cloaked in shadow and Tadryil could not see anything. No bushes or plants fought for the ground unused by the trees, there wasn’t even grass. Rather, the ground was bare but for a light carpet of green moss, which glittered like the trees. Tadryil paused, trying to figure out where he was and whether or not he should try and explore the forest. His curious nature won, and he was about to head off through the trees, when he heard the music.
It was unlike anything he had ever heard; it was mysterious but compelling, haunting yet alluring. Tadryil turned slowly, searching for the source. His eyes caught on the cave that his keen ears told him was emitting the music. The cave seemed strange compared to the trees and moss, and it took Tadryil a moment to figure out why. The cave appeared to be made of plain rock, it was not glittery and crystalline like everything else he had seen in this strange dream-world. It was dark, and seemed to absorb the sunlight rather than reflect it. For some reason that he did not know, it scared Tadryil, and yet he was drawn to it as inexorably as he was drawn to the music. His feet were moving before he knew it, and by the time he realized Tadryil had already stepped into the cave.
At once all light disappeared, and Tadryil’s world was cloaked in impenetrable darkness. He whirled around, seeking the cave mouth where he had entered, but it was not there. There was only the darkness, and the mysterious alluring music that had brought him.
Slowly, Tadryil walked forwards, using the music as his guide. He had not gone more than ten paces when the world lit up again.
Tadryil could not help it, he gasped with surprise. All around him, apart from on the winding trail he had been following, were immense abstract crystalline sculptures. Each one was unique, in size and shape, and, Tadryil realized, color. Each sculpture was a different glittering color and glowed softly; the source of the light. He would have like to study them longer, but the music did not come from the sculptures and the music drew him on.
It was when the light had become mostly a deep, blackish purple that Tadryil realized that not all of the light-emitting objects were sculptures. As he continued down the path, he chanced to look back over his shoulder to see some of the things he had thought were sculptures were moving. All the ones emitting the deep purple-black light were alive, and they were all female.
As he passed them, they began to rise and dance to the music. Tadryil studied them out of the corner of his eye. At first he thought they were elves like him, for they moved with grace, but he soon realized that they weren’t. For one thing, they were all too thin, almost skeletal in appearance. Also, their long hair was black, a light-devouring black, too dark to mark them as Rivendell elves. And they were pale, pale to the point of being white, with long, curving nails. But the trait that really scared Tadryil and told him that they were not elves was their eyes.
Their eyes were pale gold in color, but that didn’t bother Tadryil much. What scared him was that their eyes were so cold, so impassive, so, so lifeless it was as if- As if those eyes belonged to beings that were already dead. Unbidden the thought rose in Tadryil’s head, and he shivered. But before he could continue along that line of thought, the music grew louder and his head rose up.
The path he had been following ended abruptly on the edge of a cliff, but Tadryil did not notice. All of his attention was captured by the being that rested on the tower of plain gray rock that rose up from the center of the crater.
She was alike the dancers, and yet different, so very different in a way Tadryil could not grasp. Her head was downcast and she rose, slowly, from the kneeling position she had been resting in on the raised plinth. Her arms she raised above her head, stretching them out in a gesture Tadryil could not read. Then, head still downcast and raven black hair veiling her face, she began to dance.
She did not dance to the music, she was the music. Each different sound she wove into the music, danced it out on the now-glittering stone floor, until it melded into the melody she was creating. Tadryil could not keep his eyes off her, and the music grew stranger, more mysterious, more alluring. On and on she danced the music, and Tadryil noticed nothing but her. Then, abruptly she raised her head, and all he could see were her eyes, her beautiful, pain-filled, terrifying eyes-
And then the world shattered, and there was nothing, not even darkness.
* * *