A Future’s Past
(6 Lirisa 631: Leth Deriel, Zoluren)
(Editor’s Note: Please note the datestamp on this little vignette of a tomorrow that is somewhere on the Threads of Fate. May Not Yet Be, May be; it is a dream of the future, and as the Seers will tell us, such things are fragile. ~D)
It is the anniversary of an important day in history. As I walked the hall of the museum, a child asked me to tell the story of the silver mask and the Elven blade. There have been many versions told by scholars, mages and fools but none have captured the essence of those days. There are not many left who witnessed that day, so I tell the tale of what transpired. To understand this story, it is important to know that while many believed my Prince loved only three women in his lifetime, there was a fourth. On a fateful day, two hundred and fifty-three years ago, Prince Vorclaf was sent word that the great Queen would arrive for a state visit. The Outcast wars had been over for a few years and Shard had settled under the rule of King Raenilar.
During the war, a great alliance was formed by the Mountain Elves and the Province of Zoluren. The alliance was not without controversy, and at times relations were strained. It started during my captivity with the Outcasts. Prince Fayne and Prince Vorclaf merged forces when it appeared the Outcast armies would take Leth Deriel and proceed into Zoluren. The Mountain Elves were known for their ruthlessness and self-indulgence however they were loyal allies on the battlefield. They now shared a common interest and a common enemy. Prince Vorclaf knew they cared not for Zoluren, but Leth Deriel was in the great Queen’s plans. My lord, though Human, was also quite Elven in thought and used this to his advantage. Or so he believed. The great Queen had now committed her Mountain Elves to the war.
The war had taken its toll on both sides and an accord was agreed up. During the peace negotiations, the great Queen foolishly, or perhaps strategically, disposed of one of the faction members. She was a master tactician and saw this as an opportunity for her. No one realized until much later how great an opportunity this would be. The incident almost derailed the talks, however, my Prince was able to bring all parties back to the tables. It would later be revealed that he was able to achieve this at an unimaginable cost.
The great Queen arrived with two of the noble Mountain Elven houses and a large contingent of Mountain Elves. The Opreina of Leth Deriel were cautious, and rightfully so. It was well known Morganae desired Leth Deriel for herself and this was one step closer to grasping the fabled city. She rarely ventured from her own lands and this was an extremely unusual move on her part.
His Majesty received the great Queen with lavish festivities and parties that lasted many days. On the ninth and final day of her visit, she reminded the Prince of the favor that was owed to her. It was during a large state dinner, where a gathering of handmaidens entered and behind them, the youngest daughter of Morganae herself. Viani’a walked with the grace of the ancient Elves and her beauty was stunning. She greeted my Prince with gracious curtsy and it was noticeable he was intrigued. The great Queen presented the Prince with his new bride. The sounds about the room quieted in an instant and before my lord could say a word, Morganae clasped her hands and stated that this new alliance would rival the days of the empire and that together no force could dare threaten it. After all, the mountain Elves would now protect Zoluren as if it were their own.
Without having to see the expression on my Prince’s face, I knew what he was thinking. He believed that refusal of such a union would be an insult that would have the potential to fuel another war. A war Zoluren could not afford to enter, even with the aid of Therengia and other allies. He also knew that to protect Zoluren from the great Queen, he would have to enter this marriage and refrain from ever having children.
As fate would have it, the two were married during a beautiful spring ceremony in Leth Deriel. Curiously, the newly crowned Princess displayed a true affection for my lord. I often pondered if this were an elaborate deception, however it would be answered in the years to come it was not and her feelings were genuine. The citizens of Zoluren celebrated this new alliance with a gathering of grand merchants, games and festivity. Zoluren had seen much during the wars and this was a time for them to rejoice. The Zoluren nobles quietly doubted the future of their lands and the destiny of Leth Deriel.
The fates would once again step in two years into their union, as Viani’a announced she was with child. Couplings between Elven and Human were quite rare and it was a shock to the Zoluren nobles. Lindryl, ever loyal to my lord for all his days, took the news with great jubilance. She cared not for the politics of borders and lands, only that my Prince produced an heir. This would relieve Keresyk of the burden facing him so that his destiny could be centered in Leth Deriel and M’Riss. I knew that for as long as my Prince would live that Lindryl and Keresyk would forever be loyal to him, as I had been.
During the final month of her birthing, she became more ill and bed ridden. As told, the unions between Elf and human are not without hardships. The great Queen, often known to act in her own interests, demanded that Viani’a return home to the Elven Mountains. The Prince refused, knowing that if she were to return, it would cause concern as to the fate of his child as well as his wife. As the days drew closer, the healers were unable to save the life of the child and the mother’s life was now in jeopardy. Morganae, in what would be told as a scream of thunder from the mountains, declared war on Zoluren.
The alliance was over and what was joy turned into fear as the Outcast war was still fresh in the minds of the populace. As the armies formed, my Prince would don his armor once more and lead them to battle. The Mountain Elves swarmed down the mountains and struck at the heart of Leth Deriel. For many months Leth Deriel remained the front lines. Zoluren was able to push the Mountain Elves back from taking Crossing proper but at great costs for each battle. During this time, King Raenilar had dissolved his alliance with Zoluren and entered into a new union with Therengia. The Prince knew that the Baron would never invade his lands, however relations were strained. The days of the great Three; Jeladric, Kukalakai and Vorclaf were over. With enemies to the south, and tensions to the north, Vorclaf focused his attentions to free Leth Deriel. He was now alone against an insurmountable army.
The great Queen came in full force with what seemed to be all her armies to claim Leth Deriel and bring Zoluren into ruin. The two armies stood on the battlefield preparing for their final conflict. It was the sixth morning in the month of Lirisa the Archer. I stood next to my Prince with the armies of Zoluren, the remaining Opreina of Leth Deriel and the warriors of M’Riss. Across the field, the banners of the great Queen would flutter in the breeze as thousands of archers marched to their positions. A final meeting of the generals was held before the sun rose. The Kaith Khalor, readied the troops and prepared them for what was to be the final stand. He knew we were outnumbered and would most likely be overrun. But his loyalty never strayed. Kaovales would remain Vorclaf’s general for the rest of his days. My Prince drew the sword he had used in his battle with the Outcasts years earlier. I looked at him and he just nodded to me. I knew this would be our final day together. What happened next was something unexpected.
The sounds of horses and a carriage were heard in the distance. The supply caravans from Crossing proper had arrived with provisions days earlier and reinforcements were not expected. The carriage bore the seal of House Sorvendig. The Prince emerged from the tent pondering the meaning of what was occurring. The carriage continued on to the battlefield and it appeared the Mountain Elves were preparing to destroy it until a figure disembarked. It was Princess Viani’a with two of her attendants. There was silence on the battlefield as the two great armies stood watching. Ignoring our warnings and pleadings, Prince Vorclaf leapt unto his horse, and galloped quickly to the battlefield. The Elven archers all readied their bows and aimed at the lone figure galloping towards them but did not fire. Vorclaf dismounted and held his Princess as she collapsed in his arms.
The healers had done all they could but were unable to prolong her life any further. The Prince knelt and spoke quiet words to his fallen Princess as horses from the Mountain Elf army approached their position. The Kaith Khalor knew there was no way to save the Prince and even with my skill of the bow, the distance was too great to aid him. The horses parted and a single horse rode through to where my Prince knelt. The figure dismounted and stood above him, motionless. He appeared to be oblivious of what was before him as he cradled the now lifeless form. The figure drew an Elven blade and I quickly took aim in hopes of protecting my Prince. I muttered a silent prayer to Tamsine that she make my shot true. What happened next would be spoken about for ages to come.
The figure plunged the Elven blade into the ground near the feet of my Prince and removed the hood of her cloak. It was the great Queen. She removed her silver mask, but he did not look upon her face. Words were exchanged but they have been lost to the ages as only the two of them knew what each other had said. It was a matter of moments until the great Queen mounted her horse and turned to glance once more at her lost daughter and the human she had loved. She dropped the mask then proceeded back to her armies, and rode past them. The Mountain Elves slowly turned and followed her. The only sounds were that of the banners fluttering in the breeze. Queen Morgane returned to the mountains, never to be seen by my Prince again.
Vorclaf stood from the ground and lifted his bride from the battlefield and carried her all the way back to Leth Deriel. Attempts to aid him were unanswered as he maintained a focused resolve. The Zoluren armies gazed upon the field with mixed emotion. Death had awaited them and death was cheated this day. Vorclaf returned to the Keep and in the days that followed attended the state funeral. He spoke eloquently that day as he has always done. He displayed his humanity briefly as he shed a tear and I knew at that moment he had grown to love Viani’a. What was a political marriage turned into one of love.
For the remaining days of my lord’s life, he would walk in the garden where Princess Viani’a and their child was buried. I asked him once what words were spoken between himself and the great Queen. He merely glanced up and gazed into my eyes with a solemn look. I never asked him again and he never spoke it.
I spend much of my time wandering the museum in Leth Deriel where the Elven blade and the silver mask remain on display. Children gaze at the mask in awe and revel in the tales of the great Queen and the Human Prince.