…..They ran together across the battle torn ground as arrows struck the stone cold earth. Snowflakes tumbled down from the heavens to coat the still forms of fallen warriors. Fray held tight to Auria’s hand as they ducked and weaved through men and fey alike, locked in deadly combat with one another.
It had been three years since the war had begun and no two lives were closer intertwined than Auria and Fray’s.
Dragons wheeled high overhead, fire scorching legions of humans; their screams could be heard far and wide.
Auria stumbled in her flight, knee raking against a sharp and jagged stone, blood blossoming on the snow, red as a rose.
Fray helped her up just as a black dragon landed before them, torn green wings spreading wide, faery rider thrown to the ground as it reared in agony.
Auria saw that the cause of its pain was a long spear that had become lodged in its flank.
She ran forward and laid her hands around the spear before pulling back with all her strength, letting it slide out, bloody and hot.
The dragon roared before dropping down to all fours and inspecting its wound.
Auria pushed its nose away to lay her hands on the hole, a warm golden glow seeping out from between her fingers.
The mighty beast’s eyes dilated suddenly and Auria removed her slender hands to reveal that the wound had simply vanished.
“Auria, get on him. Ride far away from here. Never mind me.” Fray gasped, a hand pressed to his stomach.
With all her heart Auria didn’t want to leave him but she nodded numbly and mounted the black dragon.
As he spread his vivid green wings, healed by her powers, Auria leaned down and kissed her beloved husband.
The ground fell away beneath them and, together, dragon and faery rose into the blue sky.
Auria rested her hands on the tender warmth of her unborn child and wondered if he…or she…would ever get the chance to meet his or her father….
Meanwhile, far below in the thick of battle, Fray lifted his shaking hand from his stomach to reveal that his palm was smothered with blood.
“I’ll find you Auria,” He whispered through dry, cracked lips, “Whatever it takes, I’ll find you.”
High on the mountain that overlooked the valley where the war was taking place, a faery warrior notched an enchanted arrow to his bow and targeted Fray. He lifted the feathered end to his cheek and prepared for the kill.
He licked his lips with anticipation as Fray turned slowly round.
Yes, thought Dorr, for that was his name, he would kill him by an arrow in his chest.
No one would hear him scream.
At once, the yellow feathers appeared on the young man’s chest and he toppled over sharply….simply another corpse on the blood stained ground.
Dorr smiled with satisfaction….and disappeared behind a craggy ledge.
The Elementals gathered to discuss the prophecy.
“We must seal the Gate!” Marnoc argued, slamming his fist down on the stone slab that served as a table.
“Peace, brother.” Goren rumbled, his deep voice resonating around the chamber, “We must respect that the prophecy will continue on its given path.”
Elissa rested her chin in her palm and rapped the fingers of her other hand in quick succession.
The whole matter of meetings was a quite a bore to the Air Elemental.
To keep herself occupied, she created a table-top tornado that swirled around, stirring up small bits of paper and dust.
Serena rose, her red eyes darting around the company of four.
“I, unfortunately, agree with Marnoc…for once.” The last two words were hissed dangerously and the Water Elemental shrunk down in his seat. “The Ether Gate is a danger. If and when the prophecy comes true, it will be the end of the reign of the Elementals. Do our subjects not say that we should ‘long live’?” Serena said craftily.
Goren shifted in his seat and watched as Marnoc rose as well.
Two agreed, one opposed.
“Elissa?” He murmured.
The tiny whirlwind she had been playing with dropped suddenly in a puff of dust.
She blinked her baby blue eyes and uttered a single syllable.
“Your vote will decide.”
She shrugged and glanced around the table.
Serena’s eyes became narrow slits. The Fire Elemental was extremely, definitely mad.
The High Council dispersed without a word.
Serena left immediately to the Ether Gate.
The solid, simple, stone ring had been in the deepest part of the fortress since before any of the inhabitants of Aether could remember. The Gate was suspended horizontally by heavy silver chains attached to the ceiling.
Oh, how Serena wished she could cut those chains and let the Gate break into a billion pieces.
“The lord of time may have prophesied that you would come and destroy us all…..but time can be rewritten. One day, you will come,” Serena addressed the Gate as she strode beneath the ring.
She tilted her head back to stare into the depths of the swirling purple vortex, lined with bolts of lightning, “And I will be waiting.”