Beren and his friends learn of an ancient evil set on returning to the Land of Magic after listening to a tale told by a mysterious elf maiden and testimonies from the Chromatic Lords. The three warriors agree to participate in the upcoming battle, unsure of what may be asked of them in the coming days. A year had passed, the Chromatic Lords along with Beren, Mei Fong, and Jade Tiger have sparred and trained to improve their techniques. The shadow of the Fallen King loomed over the desolate frozen peaks of the mountaintops, will they have enough strength to combat this ancient adversary?
Beren sat at the edge of the balcony, eyes shut and still. The high winds that graced along the crooked and jagged shapes of the mountain peaks and valleys produced a lovely song for those who cared to listen. The young warrior had learned and mastered many things since the end of the Chromo Gyamdre, all in preparation for the arrival of a powerful foe. The elf maiden was a reincarnation of a powerful chosen of the White Lady and had dealt with the Fallen King in the past, while her determination to stop this great darkness was real, the young warrior kept his distance from her whenever he could. It wasn’t her otherworldly charms, there was something else odd about her, but he couldn’t place it.
The sound of footsteps, their weight, and strides were familiar, and Beren grinned as they approached.
“Still resting?” A female voice asked.
“I just wanted to a breath of fresh air,” he replied.
“For two hours?”
“A big breath then,” he answered and turned to face Mei Fong. The swordswoman smiled at Beren and took a seat next to him on the balcony.
The two sat in silence for a while, basking in the scenery of the majestic peaks and feel of the cold air on their face.
“She says that he will arrive soon,” Mei Fong broke the silence.
“I know, yet I can’t help but feel there’s still something else at work.” Beren relayed.
“Do you think the Lady of Light is lying?”
“No, I can sense her convictions, but between the old woman’s fortune and the fact that these chromatic warriors are about to face an enveloping darkness seems coincidental.”
“An old sage would infer that as fate.”
“An old sage wouldn’t believe in fate and instead tell us to forge our own destinies” Beren countered.
He grasped Mei’s hand, it was warm to the touch, a sign of the Crimson Phoenix style still burning within her ki and soul. “I just don’t want to lose you.”
“We all must die one day, I would rather die fighting a worthy cause than die as a withered old woman unable to lift my sword.” She leaned her head on Beren’s shoulders and tugged on his tunic tight.
Beren planted a small kiss on Mei’s head as they both sat in silence for the remainder of their time on that balcony. Twilight began to set into the sky as the stars began to greet them from above. An attendant eventually found them and announce that dinner was ready for them. The couple returned and met with the Chromatic Lords and Jade Tiger for their evening meal, it seemed an elaborate feast was prepared for them. The sight made Beren’s stomach stiffen and sunk like a rock.
This was their last meal.
Beren saw the expressions of the other Chromatic Lords, they were somber in their appearance, well except for the Red King who declared that they celebrate for the battle ahead. Jade Tiger met both of them and seemed to have groomed himself more than usual. There are rows of roast beasts and birds, fruits from exotic lands with bright colors, plenty of sides and starters, and nearly an endless supply of spirits, wines, and ales. The alcohol helped to alleviate some of the tension, at one point, a group of elvish minstrels arrived, and Jade Tiger was seen dancing along the top of the table.
Beren noticed that the elf maiden was not among them and decided to excuse himself. He wandered the halls of the mysterious tower, knowing that its magic shifted the rooms and corridors by some elaborate means of commands and desires. In one hallway, there was the glow of moonlight piercing along the walls and stone floors. He approached the open door and found a space with floating pavilions and a sea of stars basking under a white moon. He noticed the elf maiden sitting among the floating chunks of flying stone, using his acrobatic skills to traverse through them and landing on an adjacent rock beside her.
Her eyes were closed, meditating like himself earlier but she seemed aware of his arrival.
“You seem concerned,” she noticed.
“For a year, you’ve been reciting this scary story of the Fallen King but you never truly explain who or what it is we’re fighting. We spent a year preparing for a seemingly hopeless fight, why? I understand the principles of duty and honor, but I’m not an idiot. You have never truly explained your role in all of this, what are you afraid of?” Beren questioned.
The elf remained silent for several moments, the rocks continued to float in their odd orbits, the distant sounds of waterfalls and colliding pillars marked the passage of time before she spoke again.
“He was once a beloved friend, one I trusted with my life many lifetimes ago. In the wake of a great loss, he turned to fouler magics and forsook our oaths. His fury was unquenchable, thousands perished in his quest for vengeance. Should he return, there are ancient relics from a bygone time that could be used to shatter the very fabric of our world. Powers so terrible that even gods must give pause to them.” She opened her eyes and faced Beren.
“You have still answered your role in all of this,” Beren demanded.
“As a chosen of the White Lady, I have duties and obligations to preserve all life. The Fallen King’s return marks not just the end of life as we know it, but of reality, of space, and of time. I must do whatever it takes to prevent his return, at all costs.” The elf stood up defiantly and stared harshly at the warrior.
“Even if the battle seems hopeless?” He countered.
“Even if the battle seems hopeless,” she confirmed. “If I had an alternative that didn’t require the possible sacrifice of lives than I would gladly do so. But in the end, all we can do is impede him and deny him reentry back to this realm.”
“You loved him once, didn’t you?” Beren recognized.
The elf fell silent, and the warrior received his answer. He quietly followed the orbit of floating rocks and exited the room with the doors closing behind him. The Lady of Light looked back at the moon once more with forlorn hope in her eyes and murmured a prayer for the warriors in their journey ahead.
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