Challenge Three

Damien regained consciousness beside a dying fire, where he had been lying earlier.  Evelyn sat beside him cross-legged, the sword lying across her legs.  What appeared to be a hazy, semi circular silver arc against a dark background when he opened his eyes turned out to be the moon, which was directly overhead now instead of shining above the Haroun mountains, and the crickets seemed to sing a melody rather than their random mating calls.  The wind was blowing slower now, whistling softly as it passed through the forest.

“So you’re up now.  Are you all right?”  She asked.

Damien rubbed his forehead, which was feeling as if he had been drinking wine for some time at the inn.  Suddenly he realised he had woken up at a different place from the last one where he remembered himself standing.  He shot a glance at the sword in the elf’s lap, glowing and dimming regularly.  When it started beating faster, it struck him in a manner of relief that it was still following his heartbeat.

“You took it.”

“I haven’t acknowledged it to be mine yet.”  She spoke and started to look into the fire.  “Will you give it to me?”

“No.  Why should I?  It’s mine.”

Evelyn sighed, unsure of how to explain things to him.  “Don’t make the same mistake your ancestor did.  Lord Rougar also thought this was his, but the First Sword of the Elves should only be wielded by the hands in which runs the royal blood.”

“I am NOT an elf, I was born here in Javidan to Marcus and Josephine!”  Damien suppressed his voice which threatened to break out into a cry.

Evelyn placed the sword aside and looked into his eyes.

“Watch and learn, Damien, the last descendant of Lord Rougar.”

“I am not...” He forgot his voice when her eyes looked into his, and once more he was transported into Elvish memories, created two hundred years ago.  They were remembered so well that even the fragrances and the sounds in the air could be smelled and heard.  He was sitting on a branch of a huge banyan tree, he realised as he found himself peeping through a thick cluster of leaves and observing a man who was digging a hole in the ground twenty or so paces away.  He was in the middle of a dense forest, and when he stood straight he saw no signs of habitation for as far as he could see.  Only a dense forest grew in all directions, which was eerily silent in the unnatural absence of any sound of wildlife.  He jumped down and approached the man, who was visibly startled by his presence because the spade he had been using had fallen from his hands to the ground, raising a small cloud of dust from the freshly dug soil.

“Who are you?”  His voice shook, and his gaze darted to a bundle propped against a tree behind him.  Damien glanced at it and a strange feeling erupted inside him, throbbing through his veins and beating in tandem with his heart. 
The sword.
The thought was his as well as Evelyn’s.

“I am Evelyn, daughter of the Elf King and Queen.  I have come here to ask you to give me what is rightfully mine.  I want the sword.”

“How do you... It’s mine!  My father gave it to me.”  He took a few steps back to stand close to the small bundle, three feet long and half a hand-span wide wrapped in soiled cloth.

“And that is why you are going to bury it?”  Damien heard Evelyn’s voice coming out when he felt his mouth move.  “Or is it because you are afraid of the way it glows in rhythm with your heart, the way you seem to sense something inanimate?”

“I’ll do whatever I want to do with it!  Go away, whoever you are and wherever you came from.”  The man shouted now, and for some unknown reason he looked afraid and his voice was pitched, like someone nervous about facing an unknown enemy.  As if on cue, the sun hid behind dark clouds that had gathered in the sky out of nowhere, and looked about to burst into torrential rain as small bursts of thunder began to sound not so far away.

“I’ll have to take it from you.”  Damien walked up to the bundle and picked it up, and immediately felt a river of raw strength and infinite calmness flow through him, or rather, Evelyn.  The man who had been watching everything now sprang in surprise and lunged for the sword.  He grabbed the upper end and snatched it away.

“No...!”  Damien heard a heart wrenching wail escape his lips as a bolt of lightning forked across the darkened sky and struck the man, making both him and the sword disappear.  Unbidden tears rolled down his cheeks as tremors began shaking the ground, and before the fated destruction could proceed any further he found himself staring open mouthed into Evelyn’s eyes once again.

“Who was he?”  His voice sounded hoarse.

“Your great-great-great grandfather.”

“What happened to him?”  He tasted bile in his mouth as it burned his throat, his eyes wide in disbelief.  My grandfather?

Evelyn looked away from him and gazed at the fire with distracted, unseeing eyes.

“Unfortunately, I don’t know what happens.  Maybe he died, that’s what I think.”

Damien looked at her, and saw that she was crying softly, tears rolling down her cheeks in memory of the destruction and the deaths the sword had caused, glimmering in the red glow of the dying fire as they clung to her skin before falling to the ground.  He had never understood why women cried so much, but he felt that if he told her to stop or wiped away her tears, he would destroy the most beautiful thing in the whole world.

She brushed away the tears and addressed him once again.  “You can feel the sword, can’t you?  Your ancestors were born with the ability like all Elves to sense the First Sword, and that is why after the second devastation your great-great-grandfather was able to sense its presence and dig it out from the ground where it lay buried, a hundred leagues away from where he lived.  Lord Rougar, in his wild days, had fathered a son that was conceived in a human woman’s womb.  The human blood is the reason why you don’t know you’re different, and don’t realise that your body and mind are human while your heart is Elvish.  When I met your grandfather, I realised Lord Rougar’s insolence had still not worn away from his blood.  I waited five generations for the impertinent nature to disappear, because I didn’t want the destruction to happen again, not without better prospects of averting it.  I thought taking it away without consent would work, but it cannot happen.  You must give it to me willingly Damien, you understand?  I can’t steal it, I can’t take it in any way without the consent of Lord Rougar’s blood.  If I take it from you and you try to take it back or succeed in your attempt, the preordained destruction this sword has been cursed with will...”  Her voice trailed away.

Damien rose from where he sat, and picked up the sword from where it lay on the ground as a torrent of questions swirled in his mind.  Why had his father never told him about the sword when he had been alive?  Maybe because he had thought he had enough time to live and watch his son grow up into a fine young man.  But Damien wasn’t going to ponder over memories.  He didn’t understand half of what Evelyn expected him to, but there was only one right thing to do and he decided to do it.  Taking a deep breath, he spoke.

“Elf or not, I give it to you willingly.  Take it Evelyn, Princess of the Elves.”

She turned around her head and saw him sitting on his knees in front of her, the glowing sword held in his hands in offering.  When she smiled, Damien knew he had never seen anyone so beautiful.  She brought her right hand forward, wrapped her fingers around the hilt and took the sword away from his hands. 
“Thank you Damien.”

The sword barely left his skin when a pang of pain burst in his heart, so severe that he bit upon his tongue and drew blood, but darkness that clouded his vision didn't allow him a single moment of consciousness to cry for help.

“Damien, no!”  Evelyn lunged forward and held him in her arms, nestling his head against her neck.

“Almighty, please, no!”  She whispered a prayer.

The End

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