The sun rose in the Southern sky, bringing light to the darkness, which had passed hours before. Eyvindr grabbed helplessly at the cold rubble on the ground as he tried to pry his dirt crusted eyes open.
The Earth greeted him with a low rumble of mourning as he slowly became aware of the aftermath of the battle fought what felt like weeks ago- even years. Eyvindr scanned the area surrounding him. The dead lay everywhere. Men and Women; Elves and Dragons. Images flowed jaggedly through his mind as memories poured through in incoherent flashes; reality and memory both joining each other in the dance of insanity through Eyvindr’s fragile mind.
Eyvindr extended his arms out to the ground to try and push himself up to stand. His bones groaned loudly in protest and his muscles burned in agony. Shaking furiously, he felt his feet finally meet the ground and when he decided he could stand relatively straight.
Eyvindr began to slowly trail through the bloody remains of all the men and women who had fought beside him. As he looked upon the faces of both his comrades and enemies, the image of his wife flittered across his mind. As if woken from a terrible nightmare, a rush of adrenaline burst throughout his body; his heart found a rhythm he thought he had lost and his legs found strength he did not know he had left. Eyvindr began to frantically scour through the mangled and bloody corpses. When did he last see her? What had he said to her? Where was she? Nothing. His mind was already fighting to erase the remnants of memories that remained of the battle. He searched on, his nostrils burning with the scent of blood and charred remains.
“Elanor! Elanor! Please answer me my love.’
Eyvindr continued, hysterically calling as his legs lost their moment of strength and began trembling and stumbling across the fallen.
The desperate call echoed in his ears. Was it real? Scanning across the fields, his eyes stopped upon a haze in the distance. Eyvindr began to walk towards the haze, sure that was where the voice had come from.
He began to feel the weight of his armour more strongly than before, each step bearing relentlessly down on his back, arms and legs. As he ventured closer to the haze, he realised there was a small gathering standing within. He quickened his step and called out desperately, not bothering to check if they were enemy of friend.
A young elf turned his head and began limping awkwardly towards him. As the young elf got closer to Eyvindr, the elf immediately grabbed his hands, and brought them close to his body.
“Father, we have found her”.
The words shook him; he felt his heart tighten in his chest and his stomach churn violently. Eyvindr knew she was gone. His eyes searched his sons face; a single tear shimmered down the young elf’s muddied cheek. Eyvindr could not help but think how strange it was that he had never seen his own son cry before. He felt his body begin to shake as he turned to embrace his son, but as he moved slightly, he caught a glimpse of Elanor’s body on the ground. So peaceful. The words resonated almost cruelly through his mind. He could almost believe she was simply resting. Almost.
He moved closer to the body and felt his legs give way causing him to collapse on his beloveds’corpse. For minutes he could hardly bear to look up from the ground. Why did the gods take her? Why had he left her side?
His gaze slowly rose to meet her closed eyes as he reached out to touch the once golden, but now bloodied hair that swept across her face. Warmth welled in his eyes as the first tear was released. It flowed down his dirtied cheek then trickled down upon her face, causing a small amount of dried blood and dirt to flow from her pale, lifeless cheek and down onto the ground. Eyvindr lifted his shaking hands and let them fall upon her hands that were positioned so delicately over her chest.
“Elanor. I’m sorry…my love…Elanor.”
It seemed as if hours had passed, yet no one had moved. It was as if the Earth herself had stopped to mourn. Eyvindr felt a gentle hand fall upon his shoulder.
“A hard day father. If this is to be our victory, then my only joy is to believe that our enemies have felt more pain than we.”
Eyvindr turned to hold his sons hand.
“My Iyann. Must you always see the good in every situation? You get that from your Mother you know”. He gave a small smile, as much as he could manage, to show that he meant no criticism to Iyann.
“Father? What sh…”
“Do not think this is a victory!”
A sharp stab of fear woke the group from their mourning. They all fumbled clumsily for their weapons, looking frantically around in the fog. Eyvindr looked to Iyann who nodded slowly and sunk deep into the mist, bow at the ready. Eyvindr took his place as leader, and waited as the figure approached. Breathing heavily, they all raised their weapons, ready for a signal from Eyvindr.
The figure halted abruptly. Eyvindr shifted uncomfortably, wondering if he should say something. The figure took one step forward and Eyvindr heard the deep breaths of the men behind him.
“Do not fear my good elves. It is Dragon Fafnir!”
The voice put the elves into a frenzy, all dropping their weapons as if they had been touched by a Nightleer. Eyvindr could almost smile. To insult a dragon was a path no man, or elf would wish to take, especially when dealing with Fafnir, who was touchier than most.
Eyvindr calmly bowed as the dragon came closer to the small gathering of elves. The others were quick to follow his lead, fumbling awkwardly to form a semblance of order.
“Greetings Fafnir, Guardian of Light, Knowledge and Truth. May the Elves always welcome thee”.
Eyvindr remained stooped, cringing slightly at the unrelenting strain the armour placed on his back. He stole a glance at the dragon, careful not to meet his eyes yet, and decided he could rise. He slowly straightened and took three steps closer to the dragon. Fafnir took one step forward and bowed his head in reply.
“Greeting Eyvindr. May the light always shine on you, knowledge enlighten you and the truth deliver you from the darkness. May the Dragons always honour the Elves”.
They both took one more step forward and bowed once more to end the ceremony. These formalities must always be met with dragons. To greet a dragon in any other way was bordering unthinkable.
Eyvindr looked upon his old friend. The dragon was bloodied from battle, but he could still see the beautiful black and red scaling, shimmering in the morning light. He had never before seen such beauty, and he was an elf! Drawn into a brief trance, the glamour of the dragon was immediately broken when his thoughts were drawn to the reason Fafnir approached them.
“Fafnir…Why is this not a victory?”
The dragon met his gaze with sorrow and took a deep breath.
“Dragonslayer has not been destroyed my Elvish friend. Merely trapped. He has been weakened, yes, but only our magic can hold him. We cannot leave his prison, otherwise he can escape back into our world.”
Eyvindr reached out for an answer, a solution, but his mind kept swirling with a thousand thoughts, none of which that could help their situation. Did Elanor die for nothing? He glanced up helplessly towards the dragon.
“What are we to do?”
Fafnir hesitated; Eyvindr felt a brush against his mind and knew the familiar feeling. Fafnir reached to connect with him. Eyvindr felt a moment of concern as to why Fafnir needed to communicate in this way, and surrendered.
Eyvindr gasped in shock as he was immediately overwhelmed with a flood of despair, anger, sorrow. The emotions roared through his body, threatening to take over. Visions began to swell. Fire! Blood! Death! He felt his body begin to tremble with pressure, his mind threatening to collapse. Frantically, he fought to seize back control. Somewhere, in a small part of his mind that was still his, he felt a brushing of the dragons’intention to let him drown in emotion. A moment of panic overwhelmed him as he clawed to reclaim his mind from the dragon, then a flash of white. The emotions were gone. White still burned his vision as he felt liquid trickle down his cheek. The connection was broken.
After some time, Eyvindr found the courage to open his eyes and immediately felt himself looking towards the dragon who in turn lifted his head and began his proclamation for all to hear, alive or dead.
“The dragons have made a decision. We are to remain here. This is the only way we can make sure that Dragonslayer remains in his prison.”
The small group began to mutter to each other, the words of the dragon shocking them into an abhorrent display or disrespect. Fafnir looked upon them, and decidedly let the indiscretion slide.
Eyvindr felt his body want to collapse beneath him. His heart pounded furiously, waiting for what he knew would come. He once again felt the dragon’s presence sweep across his mind, but this time the dragon did not wait for his acceptance.
“My dear elf, you will take your kind, and the humans away from here until the time is right. Goodbye my friend.”
Eyvindr watched as Fafnir turned and walked away. He felt a sudden warm, friendly embrace sweep across his mind then nothing. Fafnir was gone.