Breaking Into The Light
Cowering childfey scattered at the uproar, screeching in terror and running in all directions. Two Fey of the Light followed after them, attempting to guide them back into one group. As they rushed in chaotic directions, a single crimson arrow shot out of the fissure into the center of the cavern, skittering across the floor near the feet of a fair shefey who shook her head vehemently; then stooped to collect a glowing lamp before she ran towards one of the clusters of childfey. Several other arrows shot out of the dark corridor and the shriek of a youngling pierced the darkness when one of the blood-stained arrows found a victim. The heart-breaking cry was echoed by sadistic Dlalth laughter, but peering from the shadows, crimson gazes narrowed with anger and regret.
One of the fighting Fey of the Light shouted in a commanding tone to his comrades who gathered on either side of the narrow aperture from which the crimson arrows flew and, holding their broad shields at the edges, these malefey managed to cover a large portion of the crevice, thwarting the rain of crimson death, but, while this ploy effectively blocked the Reviled's ability to kill from a distance, it also enraged them. Mutters of vulgar Dlalth filled the darkness; then viperous laughter, as one of the subordinates was hurled through the obstructed opening.
This commotion caused the one named Gairynzvl to turn his head and he watched a the Fey of the Light drew his sword to severe the Legionnaire's head from his body after he tumbled through their barricade of shields. Curses in Dlalth rebuked this vengeful act and, with terrifying growls and hisses, the Legionnaires rushed one after the other into the cavern. They were greeted by the keen edges of Fey Guard blades and the skirl of metal upon metal rang throughout the shadows. Bright Celebrae turned fierce in anger and obscenities in Dlalth echoed round the chamber, muffling the whispers that discussed the unanticipated battle.
The one named Gairynzvl turned back to stare at the Great Gate rearing up to a height of a dozen feet or more before him. It was fashioned in one immense piece of ironwork; its bars twisting, curling and forged with razor-sharp blades protruding from any accessible handhold. It did not have a lock upon it, which could be undone by magic. It was constructed to stand as an impenetrable barrier between the realm of the Reviled Fey of the Uunglarda and the free lands under the sovereignty of the Fey of the Light. Behind him, weaponry clashed and screams reverberated; arrows tainted by the blood of former victims shot through the darkness, and childfey shrieked in terror as Dark Ones harassed those who had broken from the huddled mass protected behind the expansive wings of one of the malefey. The glimmering light from the lamp the Fey of the Light carried with them blazed outward, illuminating all; including a peculiar ripple of reflected blue-white light that dropped fleetingly from the ceiling or snaked behind Legionnaires. Unobserved by any of the struggling Fey, this blurred reflection of light latched onto Dark Ones unexpectedly, leaving broken bones and slashed throats in its wake. Then one of the fey warriors shouted in Celebrae.
The Demonfey at whom he directed this spell howled in agony and crumbled to the ground, scrabbling in excruciating pain. The spell-casting Fey Guard then snatched another by the collar of his coat, yanked him backward brutally and repeated the incantation another time, his cerulean eyes glowing fiercely in the strange light of the lamp.
The dark gazes that watched locked in astonishment at this unpredicted development, but those waiting in the deep shadows did not intervene. The one called Gairynzvl glared viciously at the Demonfey causing calamity all around the chamber before raising his hands to take hold of the iron bars of the gate, in spite of the painful razor-sharp blades pressing into his flesh. Growling in rage, he shook the gate mightily.
Dlalth whispers went unheard amidst the turmoil echoing round the Gallery of the Great Gate; but, although they debated the results of the battle, no endeavors were taken to assist either side, even as the heavy gate rattled loudly; even as cries pealed from every direction. Those watching awaited the outcome while Gairynzvl leaned backwards, beating his wings prodigiously and pulling harder than before; utilizing all his body weight in a fearsome hauling, reverse motion as he shook the gate with every measure of strength he possessed. Unifying the forceful thrashing of his wings with the powerful wrenching of his body, his actions intensified in an increasingly wrathful frenzy. Screaming against the pain of the blades burying themselves in his hands, he shook and hauled upon the Great Gate until a thunderous sound pierced the mayhem resounding through the cavern.
Once again, the watchful gazes locked with astounded curiosity.
The sound they heard was both hollow and heavy, and its echo caused Gairynzvl to stop and gaze upward, watching the top of the gate as it leaned perilously inward while the heavy wrought-iron groaned with a tremendous noise. Releasing the torturously inlaid ironwork, he scrabbled backward; beating his wings to speed his escape as the gate pitched forward under the force of its own inertia, unhinging the bolts connecting it to the walls on either side as it fell. The cacophonous din it created when iron met black stone rang through the cavern with a deafening intensity and the horrendous crash caused many of the Dlalth to howl in alarm and race away into the shadowy fissure from which they had issued while those that lingered were dispatched by the Fey of the Light with startling efficiency.
The three Demonfey inflicted by the spell-caster's incantation screamed in unrelenting distress, but the fair Fey of the Light would not allow any of the others to mercifully execute them and his pitiless attitude caused several of the Watchers to gape in disbelief. Fey of the Light were purported to be patient and compassionate, filled with mercy that they were eager to extend, but the ruthless ferocity of these warrior Fey of the Light was entirely unforeseen.
“Freedom awaits!” The one named Gairynzvl called…
Sparkling snow drifted downward quietly through the vast, reaching arms of the forest giants stretching overhead; those elder spirits listening in the ethereal hush to the sounds of playing childfey as if such sounds had not been heard for countless spans of time and, like the contemplative evergreens, many of the Fey who had gathered in the clearing near the base of the mountain stood equally enthralled. The wintry chill of the bright morning did little to impede the youngling's enthusiasm as they tumbled and sprawled in the powdery snow; as they scooped up great handfuls to enjoy the fresh, clean taste or to toss piles of its downy opalescence into the air and watch it with beaming smiles as it fell, sparkling, downward. As they squealed and giggled with infectious exuberance, some of the adult Fey watching their antics reached to dry unanticipated tears or hugged each other with swelling emotion at the blissful sight, while others rolled and played in the snow right beside the little ones; yet, when a fierce Fey Guard adorned with blood-spattered, golden armor alighted beside the Liberator whose hands bled from some nameless, seemingly horrifying injury, the jollity that made the bright clearing smile noticeably diminished.
“What defense can we offer against a legion of Dark Ones?” Mardan heard Bryth's announcement that the Reviled were coming and turned aside from watching a group of younglings, striding purposefully back to the place where three of his fellow Liberators stood so they might consider their options. They could protect the childlings by concealing them in the nearby woodland village, ensconced deep in the embrace of towering evergreens. They could guard the aperture from which they had just emerged, its narrow dimensions easily defendable, until reinforcements of Fey Guards arrived; and, if they were fortunate, some of the resident malefey might consider joining their ranks to offer some measure of resistance, but the grim reality of their situation overshadowed even their best attempts at optimism.
They had all sustained injuries during their battle before the gate; not one of them had escaped unscathed, but Gairynzvl was beyond offering any form of opposition should a battle ensue. His strength had been depleted in his efforts to gain their freedom, in spite of the Quiroth that had briefly aided him, and the severity of the injuries to his hands left him incapable of even holding a weapon, let alone wielding one in battle.
“We must see to the safety of the childfey and the villagers, and someone must go to the Temple to alert the Elders and the Fey Guard.” Bryth recommended in Gairynzvl's conspicuous silence, adding with an equally assertive tone when he saw him waver with noticeable fatigue;
“And you, Fierce One, must allow the Healer to tend your injuries.” Mardan nodded, turning to call to their ministering comrade who had finished aiding Reydan and was now stooping to gaze with unmistakable concern at the small shefey held in Rehstaed's strong arms. His examination, however, was cut short when, summoned by Mardan's urgent appeal; the golden-haired Healer turned from the pair and approached Gairynzvl, visually inspecting his condition even as he crossed the short distance between them.
He stood with alarming unsteadiness; trembling from head to toe to wing-tip and staring out over the bright clearing with an increasingly vacant expression. The snow he absently held had turned deep crimson and dripped through his weakened grasp to stain the snow at his feet. His nebulous wings pitched downward in an obvious indication of exhaustion and his typically sharp gaze had become glazed and unfocused.
Hurrying his pace, Evondair gestured for Mardan to steady him even as he bent to wipe away the snow he held in order to inspect his wounds more closely. The revelation of the deep lacerations crisscrossing his hands caused all three malefey to grimace in dismay; Mardan and Bryth exchanging a profoundly concerned gaze as the Healer looked up into the pale glimmer of their friend's glassy stare. As he assessed his condition, Ayla returned from the midst of a group of shefey who had gathered round a few of the childlings, her anxiety more than apparent, but at her approach Mardan turned abruptly towards her, stretching out his wings to obstruct her view before she could see the full degree of Gairynzvl's wounds.
“You cannot help him presently, Ayla.” She stared up at him defiantly, preparing to rebuke his protective actions, despite the fact that they spoke volumes about the seriousness of the situation. Glancing around him repeatedly, she pointed out that she might be able to lend him strength, but when the Celebrant-turned-warrior insisted she return to the childfey and organize their retreat to the woodland village, she decided not to argue with him in front of so many others.
“See to the childlings and their safety. Please, Ayla, we must get them as far from danger as possible.” Mute amber locked fleetingly with unyielding cerulean, but she nodded, in spite of her intense desire to be of some assistance, and turned back; glancing over her shoulder more than a few times as the malefey gathered once more around the former Dark One and spoke with lowered voices.
“I need not say it; I am certain you realize I cannot tend his injuries here. He must be returned to the Temple Healing Wards where the surgeons can properly cleanse and close these lacerations before their effects are lasting.” Evondair clarified what they had already guessed and, as if to confirm his assertion, Gairynzvl's eyes closed unexpectedly; his wings fell lax; his head tilted backward slowly, and his entire body would have followed that motion had Mardan not been holding onto him. Bryth lent further aid and the two malefey managed to keep him upright while the Healer drew a bottle of Quiroth from his medical pack and attempted to administer it, despite his patient having lapsed into unconsciousness.
“He is going into shock from the loss of so much blood. We must hope the Quiroth will fortify his strength; bind his hands tightly to stop the bleeding; then hasten him to the Temple.”
Listening keenly to the conversation of the malefey from her place amidst the gathering of shefey she had temporarily rejoined, Ayla turned back with determination. Undeterred by Mardan's imposing presence because he now stood holding up their leader; she returned with palpable resolve, stretching out her hands even as she did, not only to negate any verbal opposition they might attempt to interpose, but to reach for Gairynzvl's hands.
“Ayla, you must see to the safety of the childfey.” Mardan insisted as firmly as he could manage to sound, but she ignored his protest.
“I can attend to them once this is accomplished. I have been given this gift in order to help others, not only when it is convenient and safe to do so, but whenever such assistance is needed.” Her single-mindedness silenced any supplementary arguments any of them might have thought to make, but she continued unwaveringly.
“I have spent too many years being afraid and living in protected isolation; it is time I play a part!” Stepping back from her, Evondair smiled at her tenacious declaration and stooped to collect clean bandages, as well as a small vessel of salve, from his pack while she gently took hold of Gairynzvl's hands. She could not keep from shuddering at the sight of so much blood and the deep wounds left by the razor-protected bars of the gate, but she held onto him tenderly and began to center her thoughts towards him.