Chapter 3 - Part 2

“I was born to a family of no great importance, in the outskirts of Eryvale. My mother, Aurora, found her employment in carving bows and pluming arrows. My father owned a metal forge, crafting weapons.” At this, she paused, and touched the sword at Alceren’s side, drawing the hilt slightly from its sheath, pointing at the engraving on the hilt, a sword pointing to the stars. Alceren’s eyes widened slightly, a few words escaping his lips,

“You’re ...”

“Yes, my name is Alyxandra L’Mipra, daughter of Galief L'Mipra, weapon smith to the heroes of Yalandir.” Alceren smiled.

“This blade has served me well as long as I have trained. I thank your father for that.” Alyxandra’s eyes showed that pain once more.

“My father is dead. Both of my parents are dead, they...” She tried to say more, but found the words caught her throat, and she choked on them as though they were chunks of bad meat. Alceren reached into his robes as fresh tears began to course their way down her cheeks, taking out a handkerchief and handing it to her. She dried her tears, took a sip of her wine and cleared her throat, before continuing to speak. “One night, three years ago, the Stygians located our home and, seeing it as granting tactical advantages to the people of Yalandir, took their torches and set it alight. I awoke, the fire raging, hearing the screams of my parents, and, for a fearful moment, the faces of one of the Stygians was visible through the spaces between a wall of charred beams. I ran through the house, choking on the smoke, hearing the structure creak as support beams were burnt away. My dear parents cried louder, and for a moment, I saw them through the thick smoke, holding each other, crying out over the sound of the red demon. They called my name over and over, tears streaming down their faces, as I called back, ‘I’m here! I’m here!’ The moment they turned in recognition of my voice, a smile briefly darting across their faces, the structure cried out, unable to bear the weight of the burning building any longer, and caved in, engulfing my parents in flame and charred wood. With tears streaming down my face and my lungs filling with smoke, I smashed a window, slicing my hand in the process, and crawled out of the house. The grass outside seemed cold, almost damp, as I crawled through it, coughing violently, barely able to see because of my tears. I dragged myself through the undergrowth and cowered there, afraid the Stygians would appear again, knowing of my survival. I still have mixed feelings about the fact that they did not find me there. I cried until I could no longer breathe, until my throat felt as though it had been pierced with countless daggers, my head ached and my heart lay broken. It was then that was dragged, screaming silently, to sleep. When I awoke, I found myself lying in an inn, a physician stood over me. As I came to my senses, he told me that I was lucky not to be injured more. I beg to differ. I still feel those scars, the blemishes in my memory, deeper than any physical pain.”

Alyxandra stopped for a moment, as though she had just come to realise that Alceren had in fact been listening all along. Although his expression remained relaxed, as void of emotion as it usually was, from his eyes flowed a deep warmth and sympathy. A little cheered by his attentiveness, she continued. “Once I had rested for a few days, I traveled to our store, the last vestige of my previous life, standing defiant by the road. I made my way inside and found the remnants of our stock; the last sword that my father had forged, meant for a nobleman.”

At this, Alyxandra withdrew her own sword; it glowed in the firelight, as it once did during the time of its creation, lifting a memory to the surface of Alyxandra’s mind; for a moment, her father, hard at work, appeared in her mind, when he suddenly paused and smiled. In her mind’s eye, Alyxandra watched her younger self run up to him, then clutch him in a warm embrace. Then, as suddenly as it had appeared, the memory vanished, the sword now sheathed. “I found my mother’s newest bow also, and a few arrows.” She removed the bow from its place and showed it to Alceren, as her mother’s face entered her mind, her gentle smile filling her head, until it disappeared in the same manner as her father’s image had done. She replaced the bow, then came to a close, “So it was, that at the age of seventeen, I traveled north to Wyndfield, then westwards, until I came to the Circle of Veiled Faces to train. I was filled with an inflamed hatred for the Stygians, a hatred that I feared would corrupt me and send me to an early grave. Under the tutoring of the skilled Shrouded veterans, I channeled this hatred into a year’s training, whereupon I was released, a force to be reckoned with, and burning with a deep desire to one day be one of those men and women to bring peace to Yalandir once more. And yet, I would sacrifice it all, the glory, even the peace, to be allowed that chance once more, the chance to save my parents.”

As Alyxandra finished speaking, she looked up to find Alceren smiling gently, holding his goblet high, before he announced in a loud voice,

“A toast! To Alyxandra L’Mipra, the bravest elf I have ever encountered.” Those in the tavern who could still understand simple instructions (a very small minority), held their drinks high, replying in unison,

“To Alyxandra!” At this, they drank long of their respective beverages before they returned to their conversations and other merriment. Still smiling at Alyxandra, Alceren drank from his goblet, his eyes visible now, a light blue, evocative of smoke against the sky.

The End

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