A/N: To fans of HOMM, this takes place during the Reckoning. I imagined that before the event takes place, some rumours were spread and random prophecies were made, some of which predicted the creations of the portals to Axeoth. Also, the facts in this story is not aligned with the actual history of Enroth and Antagarich. When I wrote this back in 2013, I had not finished the campaigns and I did not know that Lord Haart was a traitor and was killed before the Reckoning happened. However, my curiosity did lead me into finding out about The Reckoning and the creation of this story.
To those who don't know the history of HOMM, to sum it up in a few words: an apocalypse is approaching.
I turned around and there he was – my saviour, my hero. His hair was as golden as the sun rays and when the light shone upon it, I had to blink several times because it was so bright that it hurt my eyes. His armour glinted in the morning sun. He had his helm in his right hand while his left beckoned me over to him.
"Lord Haart! You came!" I cried with so much joy that tears welled up in my eyes. Here I was, ready to face my impending doom with my dearest cousin, Ivor, when the fair headed knight from Enroth came to my rescue.
"Lilly, Ivor, we do not have much time to spare. The minute written in the prophecy is close at hand. We must head for the portal before all is lost," Lord Haart said with his eyes glimmering with what I thought was lost to us all – hope.
I have never heard of this portal before but I nodded as if I understood and needed not to be told twice. Turning to my cousin, I called out for him to make haste for he was a short distance behind us, struggling with his injured foot.
Oh, the poor soul, had I known how Ivor must have felt deep inside him then. How deflated he was when I cried at the entrance of another man after telling my dear cousin that I was contented to die with him. How he would have yearned to be the one to pull me into safety and not to be in the need of help himself. Had I only known what was in that pocket of his then – in that envelope he never let me touch – but alas, I never did.
I remembered little about the journey we made from Ivor's little hunting lodge to the glittering clearing in the woods. I only recalled having my heart racing as fast as the horses I rode with Ivor in the meadows back in my childhood days. My breathing was shallow and rapid like the waves that lapped by the shore near my home. My sight was focused on the man in front of me – never doubting his success in leading us out of danger. But had my cousin been able to read my mind, I knew that he would be pleased for I thought of nothing but the hopes that those dearest to me to be saved from this painful death – and all I had left were my half siblings, whose news I have not heard of since I stayed in Ivor's lodge, and my dearest cousin.
"We are almost there!" Lord Haart called out from the front.
I nodded again, too breathless to reply. I glanced over my shoulder and realised that the distance between myself and my cousin had increased.
"Ivor! Do you – need – my assistance?" I called out between my pants.
He barely shook his head and called out, "I shall be fine, Lilly. Don't worry about me. I shall make it on time."
How heavy my head felt when he rejected my aid. I did not deny his chivalry and dignity as a man but I believed that he was simply acting foolish. I did not reproach him however. For one, I did not have the breath to yell again and for another, I was well acquainted with his fiery temper. There had been times when he broke my vases when I refused to accompany him on a hunt after he yelled and insulted me. And right then, wasting time arguing was not an option. We were racing against time and the only way we could make it to our asylum is by running at full speed.
My heart leaped for joy the moment after for the clearing was visible at the end of the lane. Lord Haart was already standing in the ring of mushrooms where the grass glittered with magic dust. He turned back to me with his hands outstretched. I quickened barely hearing or feeling the thorns ripping my long gown. I placed my silken gloved hand over his opened palms. He wrapped it and I felt his strong but gentle grip, ready to pull me over. I was just about to bend my knees to leap when I heard a thump from behind, followed by a cry of pain.
My cousin was lying outstretched on the ground and his legs were sprawled over a log. Being made difficult by his injured foot, he had missed the sight of the obstruction and tripped over it.
"Ivor!" I yelled, letting go of the leathered glove. With my hand flying to my mouth, I ran back towards my cousin, forgetting about the doom in front of us or the little time we had. All that filled my mind then was my cousin's pain.
He tried to pick himself up and I saw his face grimacing in pain. I helped him to his knees and the bandage around his foot began to wet with fresh, red blood.
"Lilly, we have no time. You need to leave without me," he said, looking at me square in the eye.
"Never!" I replied with a passion almost hysterical and pulled his arm over my shoulder.
In my earnestness to get him over to safety, I half dragged my cousin's heavy weight towards the clearings. Lord Haart came and helped me to support my cousin from the other side.
"The time is almost here, Lilly. Let us be quick," Lord Haart shouted just before we heard the deafening explosion and the ground shook beneath us. We were only a few feet away from the clearing. We were almost there and I could not fail. Without hesitations or considerations, I summoned all of the energy I had left into my arms and shoved my cousin to the ground ahead of me.
It all happened within one single moment and then the earth cracked and liquid fire rose from beneath, swallowing my feet and my legs, devouring my arms and my chests.
"Lilly!" I heard Ivor calling out for me and I watched my cousin and my saviour disappeared in front of my eyes with a tearful smile on my face. The immense heat that burned me turned to cold senselessness as the nerves in my skin wasted away.
A few months later, Ivor was in his bed in a new home where the portal had sent him. He now served the army of this foreign land, sliding down from the dais of a prince who could have anything he wanted to the rank of a new recruit and a young militia. But he never argued nor did he complained. He never even told the people that he was Ivor, a prince of Av Lee. He surrendered himself to his new king and his new home and served them well in their battles to protect the lands and was severely injured. Lord Haart was at his side, examining his friend's wounds as the soldier searched his pockets to confirm his identity. Upon pulling out the parchment of his proof, fell a small envelope. The soldier curiously picked up the envelope and noticed a small piece of parchment inside with a small portrait of a young girl in an olive cloak with a longbow in her hand and a quiver across her back.
"Do you know who this is?" the soldier asked Lord Haart, who looked up from his gaze. When he saw the girl in braids, he let out a long, saddened sigh.
"Yes, I do. That is her cousin – Lilly."
A/N: If you read Love Is A One Way Street, yes, this is the other story I wrote at my sister's expense. We integrated ourselves into this game, we even made our profiles with our portraits (if I could find them, I may put them up on my DA). In our identities here, we are all siblings on our father's side and although we keep a strong tie with each other, we were all brought up in our mothers' courts. I am an alchemist of Bracada, Lilly is a ranger of Av Lee and our sister is a cleric of Erathia. Ivor is Lilly's cousin on her mother's side and are close childhood friends.
This was definitely a fun story to write I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I do writing it.