Voice awoke, startled, in a cold sweat, and very tired. He could barely lift his arms to wipe the sweat from his brow.
"What awoke me?" he thought. He gained enough strength to stand up from his bed and walk around the room. He walked onto the balcony and looked out. It was a very muggy night, the clouds were blocking the moon, and there were very few stars shining.
"Not a very nice night tonight," he said aloud. He started walking back to his room when he heard a muffled sound. He quickly spun around and looked to the bushes outside his balcony. He noticed a figure crawling out from the bushes. He wondered who it was and if they were hurt.
"Are you okay?" he called out. The person looked up, and as they did, the moon came out of the clouds and shone brightly in the front area of his home. The person was a woman, dressed in dark green cape that was crossed over her body and half of her face so her identity could be kept a secret.
"Ye..." she was trying to say before spinning around. Voice noticed it too. There was something coming. The woman stood, frozen.
"She won't move!" he thought. He looked around his balcony for something. He found it, his trusted war hammer. He jumped down from the balcony, rolling. The fall stunned him for a time. As he tried to sit up, he saw the woman fighting someone. He grabbed the war hammer tightly and stood up. He ran towards the two fighters.
"Stay away!" he yelled, but quickly changed his tune. The fighter, who seemed to be a man, turned around and swung his broadsword at Voice. Voice quickly jumped back and started to lose his balance. The man quickly drew his attention back to the woman. Voice regained his composure and grabbed his war hammer with two hands.
"Stay your hand sir, or I shall be forced to attack!" Voice bellowed. The man paid no attention and kept attacking the woman. Voice saw the man strike her down with the back of his hand. The man then spoke something in a dialect that Voice was unable to determine, and then rose his sword above his head. Voice then charged at the man, knocking him down on the ground. Voice noticed that he was wearing armor, probably shadow platemail. He smiled, and patted his war hammer.
"You do not know who you are dealing with boy. This is none of your concern," the man spoke in a raspy voice.
"Anyone who fights outside of my home and attacks people that are not as strong as them are my concern, now turn and leave this place at once," Voice demanded. Instead, the man attacked Voice. While the man had a sword, he also had bulky platemail armor. However, the man moved very swiftly for someone who had heavy armor on. He moved like it wasn't even on in the first place, and Voice was having trouble dodging his attacks.
The man swung but Voice blocked the blow with his war hammer and with the wooden end uppercut the man in the chin.
"He's stunned," Voice thought to himself. Voice quickly moved into fighting stance and swung with all his might. He struck the man right in the middle of the chest plate he was wearing and sent the man on the ground. Blood was running from his mouth and Voice thought he was dead.
He had almost forgotten about the woman until she stirred again. He turned around and noticed that she was an elf, because her cape and hat that she was wearing fell off from being flung to the ground. He couldn't stop staring at her. He thought she was beautiful. She had dark brown hair and enticing green eyes. He thought that elves didn't have green eyes, or at least he heard that somewhere.
"Thank you sir. Who are you? Why would you attack him? Don't you know who he is? You could have been hurt!" she said frantically. She seemed stressed out and relieved all at the same time.
"I am fine. Come in, rest," Voice said, inviting her into his home. She protested.
"I can't, it would put you in more danger than you already are in. There is much you need to know about me and much I cannot tell you. I cannot even tell you my name. I am sorry, but I must leave. I shall see you again, I am sure of it. And you won't see the last of the men you have killed. His kind do not take lightly to those who kill their comrades. Stay alert sir. I am sorry," she said, and ran off.
"But." Voice tried to get out. He was too late, she had gone. Voice stand, war hammer by his side, hurt. Not by the attacks, but by the woman who had captivated him. He was hurt because he believes he will never see her again, and because he thought that it was a dream.
Gustave was hardly awake as he headed towards Voice's house. He walked over the corpse that lay nearby without surprise and walked inside his old friend's house. Wiping his eyes he asked, "What in the hell do you want at this hour bro?"
Voice looked upset about something, Gustave could see that in his face, but what it was remained unknown. "So spit it out Voice, what's wrong."
Tears brimmed his eyes as he spoke. "I have no idea. I woke up and saw this elf out there, and well I noticed something was wrong so I grabbed my war hammer and went down to help her. I ended up killing some iron clad swordsman and she left without even telling me her name." He regained his composure. "Thing is, I feel like I've known her all my life, I think her beauty has cast a spell on me, I must find her."
Gustave by now was awake. Rubbing his head he asked, "Okay, so let me get this straight. You want to hunt down someone you don't know, have no idea where they are going, don't even know their name, with enemies that we have no idea about..."
Voice cut in and said with a smile, "Yes and I want you to help me." Gustave laughed aloud, "You know I will help you bro, we've been through alot together." Voice looked relieved to hear this and said, "well we set off in an hour, sound good?" Gustave grinned and replied, "but of course, just lemme grab my armor and weapons, who knows where we may be heading."
Gustave repeated the incantation Kal Ort Por and recalled to his home in Malas. Voice walked inside his home. He walked upstairs to the third floor and opened the metal chest in the corner. Inside were his special armor that he saved and collected for special occasions. He started dressing, putting on his all valorite suit comprised of a chainmail tunic and leggings, platemail arms, gorget, and gloves, and a close helmet. He also pulled out a dyed black robe, floppy hat, and thigh boots.
When he finished dressing in his armor, he walked over to the armoire against the wall. Inside were his best weapons. He grabbed an enchanted war hammer and a broadsword made of valorite. He also grabbed some necessities to help him in his quest; among the most important were the bandages and the potions to cure and refresh him. He then recalled to Gustave's house in hopes he was ready to help him find the woman.
When he appeared in front of Gustave's home, he noticed Gustave was already waiting. "Wow Gust, we are fighting not going to a wedding," Voice mocked. Gustave was wearing full shadow dragon armor with ice white sandals, kilt, and doublet. His half apron was ice blue to finish off his suave attire. "What can I say, I have to look good," Gustave said, laughing. Voice also laughed, but it wasn't a real one. He was too preoccupied with the woman that he met. He kept seeing her face in his mind and kept thinking about how beautiful and how amazing she was. Gustave interrupted his daydream. "Are you ready? We have no clues and a lot to do, so let's get back to your house and check the area for clues. Maybe we can come up with something." Gustave's suggestion was a very smart idea, so Voice nodded and they both recalled to Voice's home.
When they recovered from the spell, they quickly felt a presence around them. "It's them," Voice muttered. Gustave quickly pulled out a bow and strung an arrow. There were more of the men, dressed exactly alike, that Voice had earlier killed. "Who are you?" Gustave announced. One of the three men stepped forward. He began to speak. "We are the the Elves who smite the heavens," he said. With that, he ran forward, starting the attack. Gustave quickly let his arrow fly. With shield in hand the elf misdirected the arrow which ultimately broke a window in Voice's house. "Awwh, why did you go and do that for?" yelled Voice as he gripped his war hammer and ran towards one of the elves.
Gustave was knocked down by the initial elf. As he fell, he unsheathed his blade the Einlanzer, and with his other hand caught himself. The elf dropped the shield and gripped his longsword with both hands in an attempt to rain the blade down onto Gustave, but instead was rewarded with a kick in the chest. The elf caught off guard, Gust rose and gripped his blade with both hands. "So what the hell is it that you want with Voice!" he yelled as he made a thrust. Dodging the thrust the elf smirked, "We smiters of Heaven don't take lightly on the death of our colleagues. Your friend killed the youngest son of our leader." the elf laughed as he swung.
Meanwhile, Voice was in a skirmish with the second elf. The third just stood and watched, arms crossed, seemingly uninterested in the battle. Voice interrogated the elf as blows were exchanged. "What the hell do you want?" he asked numerous times. "Why are you after that girl?" The elf remained mute, with the sole intent apparently being to kill Voice. Voice seemed more interested in the welfare of the girl than his own hide, for he continued asking of the girl as they battled. Finally the elf scathed Voice's leg slightly. Proud of this accomplishment the elf smiled only to see that Voice wasn't in the mood for talk any longer. Using the strength of both arms, Voice swung at the legs of the elf knocking him off balance, and smashed the hammer atop the elf with a death blow.
Gustave grew tired of this and changed his battle stance. As he crouched and began moving in an odd manner, the elf tilted his head in wonder. Figuring this was an opportunity to finish the fight, the elf motioned to strike down Gus. Gustave growled deeply and swung his blade in an upward fashion with all his strength. "GrRr RAHHHH!" he yelled as his blade ripped open the chin of the elf and tore half his head into two. Still grasping his blade in a motion to strike down, the elf dropped lifelessly. Gustave, feeling ashamed of using his lone wolf stance, stood silent for a moment. He looked up at the third elf, who was standing there stunned. "You fancy a go at the two of us? If not, then start talking, or I will strike you down," Gustave said, gripping his sword tightly. Voice also had pulled out his sword, making himself ready for a battle. "Corp Por," the elf chanted. Voice ran at him in an attempt to disturb the spell, but it was too late. The elf cast the spell and struck Voice down with a bolt of energy. Gustave quickly dropped his sword and grabbed his bow. He fired an arrow at the elf, who was in the midst of casting another spell. The elf, distracted by Gustave's attack, raised his hand and felt the arrow pierce his skin. The arrow had flown through his hand. The elf was again stunned, as if this wasn't supposed to happen. "Who are you?" he asked. Gustave didn't answer. Instead, he watched as Voice stood up and swung at the elf, lopping his head off and watching the body fall.
Gustave still stood silent. Voice sheathed his sword and grabbed his war hammer. He checked the body of the decapitated elf. There was a recall rune in one of his packs. It was marked, but there was no indication of where it would lead them. "There is a rune here," Voice told Gustave. "It doesn't indicate where it will lead us, so I think we should have someone gate us there instead of us recalling separately. It will be safer that way." Gustave nodded in agreement. "That is a good idea. Shall we ask Cali?" Gustave suggested. He then quickly thought better. He knew that she would ask questions and try and force them to tell her what was going on. "I take it by the look on your faced you answered your own question," Voice said, laughing. Gustave also laughed. They were relieved that they were not in any danger. These elves were sent to kill them, and not come back until they finished the task at hand.
He thought back to the look on the mage's face, the stunned and surprised look that the warriors had failed. He expected to watch a quick fight, a slaughter of humans. Gustave explained what he was thinking to Voice, and Voice, thinking of it more, agreed. He was right, these elves thought they were inhumanly superior to humans.
The two warriors decided to depart and look for Cali. They first checked the TcV headquarters, Cali's house, as an obvious choice. They recalled to her home and walked in the door. "Hey Cali! Are ya here?" Gustave yelled. He heard footsteps upstairs, and a voice called out. "Yeah! I'll be down in a minute, just wait there," Cali replied. Gustave and Voice sat down. As they waited, Voice again began to daydream about the woman. He thought about her long brown hair and how soft it must have felt, and about how the stars shone in her eyes, sparkling and looking at him with such comfort, like she could trust him. He felt warm when he thought of the way she looked at him. He was again distracted, this time by the footsteps of someone coming down the stairs. It was Cali, dressed in her famous green leather armor outfit. "So, what do you guys want from me?"
Gustave spoke first. "We need a gate, no questions, no explanations, just a gate." Caliope looked slightly confused. "What makes you think that I would do that and not ask questions? Do you even know me? I always ask questions, and I am not going to stop now," Caliope said, laughing. Voice stood up. "Please Cali, we really need a gate, that's all," Voice said in a very serious tone. Caliope looked at him and realized how serious he was. Gustave handed her the rune. "There is no marking on it, are you sure you can use this?" she asked. Voice and Gustave nodded in succession. Caliope shrugged her shoulders. "Come outside then," she said, motioning for them to follow her out the door. "I will do it outside. I have a bad feeling about this rune here, so I will NOT let anything ruin my house!" Gustave laughed at the thought of her house being ruined. Caliope never liked anything messy, as she was very picky.
Caliope stood, contemplating on whether or not she wanted to gate off of the rune she held in her hand. She did not want to ask questions because she knew that they would be slightly angered by it. "But is it a good idea?" she said aloud. Gustave looked confused and Voice walked over to Caliope. He held her free hand in his own and looked at her with a sullen face. "Please," was all he said. Caliope melted. "Okay okay okay!" she said, flailing her arms. "But you owe me, both of you, I expect a full report and an apology and all the works! This best be good! And you gotta buy me dinner!" Gustave laughed heartily. Voice smiled at her words. They heard the chant Vas Rel Por. Caliope had successfully cast the spell gate travel, and Gustave equipped his bow while Voice grabbed his war hammer. "I'm serious." Caliope said, voice trailing off. "Come back safely." Voice and Gustave had disappeared into the gate. The portal closed and Caliope closed her eyes and walked into the house.
Gustave was the first to appear through the gate, followed closely behind by Voice. They were in attack stance and ready for anything that might come after them. They were surprised at what they had seen. "Wha.what is this place? Where are we?" Gustave said. Voice did not respond. The land was grey and black, like a wildfire had come and swept the land away of the lush green landscaping that the land of Sosaria was filled with. The trees were blackened, branches hanging and falling, leaves absent, and the grass was not green, but a horrid grey that seemed to fill as far as the mountains. "That is strange," Gustave said. "This seems like a fairly small place. I mean look around you, the mountains are so close to us. And there is no open space. The mountains encircle us, almost as if this place is entrapped in its grip. I don't know." Just then, an arrow had flown by his face. Voice noticed Gustave duck and roll and he quickly got into a defensive stance. "It came from the north," Gustave said quickly. Voice had equipped a bow and had strung an arrow, as did Gustave. "AHHRRGghhh." Gustave looked over at Voice. He had dropped his bow and was holding his wrist. Gustave looked over and saw that Voice had an arrow through his hand. "Voice!" Gustave yelled. "Are you okay!" Voice did not answer, instead he looked up at the multiple warriors pointing their bow's at Gustave's and Voice's heads. "Drop your weapon," one of the warriors said. Gustave reluctantly dropped his weapon. A few of the others whispered to each other 'What are human's doing here' and 'Where did they come from, but their leader quickly put a stop to it.
A tall elf walked towards Gustave. "Who are you?" he asked in a demanding voice. "Or better yet, how did you manage to get here?" Voice interrupted. "We found it on some warrior outside my house in Trammel. I had saved a…" he paused. He was thinking about the elf woman he had seen. 'Beautiful', he thought to himself. He continued. "A young elf woman from him." There were whispers among the warriors, although Gustave and Voice could not understand what they were saying. "Then who are you." Gustave spoke first this time. "My name is Gustave, and this is my friend Voice. We were also attacked by the same warriors a short time later. They said they were the Elves that smite the heavens, although they didn't look like elves." The man speaking to them looked astonished. "And you lived?" he said, seemingly to himself. He stood pondering for a moment, which confused Gustave and Voice. He gestured for his warriors to lower his arrows. After a long pause, he finally spoke. "It takes a lot of courage to face the men you fought and live. You are correct, they aren't elves, but…" he said, trailing off. "Follow us, we shall provide you food and shelter." "Thank you," Gustave and Voice said in unison. They both bowed and followed the elves down a long trail. They came to a wooded area, although the trees were not green and brown. They were as grey and dull as the rest of the earth and mountains that surrounded them. The trees looked as if they were made of ash, and Gustave decided to test them out by pressing on them. "They seem real enough. I've never seen trees like this," he said. Voice nodded in agreement. One of the elves told them they never used to be like this, but a plague as infected their land, their world, and their way of living. Gustave and Voice looked at each other with discomfort.
They had gotten a league deeper into the woods when they noticed wooden gates. This wood looked the same as the forest, and blended in perfectly. The leader bellowed something in the same dialect the man Voice fought had used. After a few moments, the gate opened, and a whole elven town lay inside. "Come," the leader said. Everyone walked inside, and the gate shut behind them.
There was a large bustling of elves in the town, although it still looked sullen and dreary inside. The leader motioned to his warriors and they all dispersed into different directions. "Follow me," he said, speaking directly to Gustave and Voice. They did as they were told and followed him to a large building in the center of town. This building was different from the rest. It looked as though it was made of wood and granite, but was polished to perfection and still had color to it. There was moss growing on the outside and an archway pointed out towards the front gate. Vines were dangling from it. "What is your name, if you don't mind me asking," Gustave asked suddenly. The elf did not sway. "Meliath," he said. "I heard one of your warriors say that the land didn't used to look like this. What hap…" Gustave said, but was interrupted by Meliath. "Any questions," he said, "will be answered inside by our leader." Gustave protested, but Meliath wouldn't hear of it. Voice hit Gustave for being rude. They arrived at the front doors and Meliath opened them. The hall inside was lit up quite beautifully, although there were no candles or lanterns visible to make such light appear. Voice asked about this. "If you didn't know," he said with an impatient and sarcastic tone, "elves are highly magical. We have been granted by our gods the gift of light when and where it is needed. That is our gift from the heavens." Voice was annoyed at his tone but ignored it. Straight ahead they saw a throne, beautifully crafted and decorated in brilliantly colored cloth and gems. "Whoever made this furniture needs to come to my house," Gustave joked. Meliath sneered and Gustave lowered his head, giggling. A powerful looking elf walked into the room.
Meliath bowed his head. "Lord Polermus." Gustave and Voice quickly kneeled down to the ground to show their respects. Lord Polermus spoke. He had a very wise sounding voice. "Rise, young masters. You have questions. Ask them," he said. Gustave rose and cleared his throat. Voice was fixing his hand, which still had a piece of the arrow in it. "Why is the land the way it is? And why does this building have…color?" he asked. Lord Polermus's face darkened. "These have been difficult times, young master. My general informed me your name is Gustave, may I call you so?" Gustave nodded. "Of course, Lord Polermus." "We, unfortunately, do not know why the land was covered in a grey sheet. The land is suffering, and it started when those men came. They are no ordinary men. They are half dead. They have sold their souls to the underworld in search for power. They are a plague and a cult. He have been fighting them for more than 45 years now. It has been tiresome." Gustave listened intently while Voice was bandaging his hand. He had managed to get the rest of the arrow out. "As for this building," Lord Polermus continued, "we were given a present by the gods. Each one of my elf subjects is able to summon light at will. These men, these half dead creatures, are much stronger than us, but dislike the light immensely. It doesn't kill them, but it does push them away." Gustave nodded again and was about to ask another question before he was interrupted by Polermus. "This is the land we call Alonia. It is another world, just as Malas and Ilshenar are other worlds. Just as Trammel and Felucca are other worlds. We just don't allow anyone inside it. We have the power to do so." As he finished, Voice looked up and notice an elf woman walk in. It was her. His jaw dropped with awe, just as it had before. He had forgotten to finish bandaging his hand. Gustave looked over. "You okay buddy? It's not right to stare at the Lord of the land's daughter ya know." "Sister," Voice said. Gustave looked puzzled, and Polermus laughed. "You are correct. How did you know?" he asked. Voice pointed to a mark on the woman's arm. "You have the same mark on each arm. You are twins," he said. Polermus laughed again. "She informed me that when she was in your world you had saved her from one of those brutes. Is this correct?" Voice nodded. He was having trouble keeping his eyes off of her. Gustave finally hit him and Voice was able to distract himself with his bandages. "My name is Aria, Voice," she said to him. Voice's face turned a deep red and he started having trouble breathing. 'She spoke to me,' he thought. All he could do was wave. This time, Gustave laughed. "Smooth man. Very smooth." Voice gave him a glare. "Shut up." Gustave laughed again. Meliath whispered something into Lord Polermus's ear. Polermus nodded. "I must take my leave. Please, roam the town. Eat, drink, rest. Then you can be on your way. You mustn't involve yourselves in our matters." He left the room and Gustave stretched his arms. Aria had also left the room. "Well, let's get something to eat. I'm starving," Gustave said. Voice only nodded, for he was sad that he had missed Aria leaving the room. They walked out the front entrance.
"So what do you want to do?" Gustave asked. Voice just shook his head. "We could shoot the shit with an elven blacksmith if you want to? Doesn't seem like too bad of an idea to me." Voice just shrugged. "Stop thinking about her and cheer up. We are in an elven town! It's quite beautiful…well…minus the whole grey thing." Voice laughed at this. "You somehow always seem to cheer me up without having to try," he said. Gustave laughed as well, and they headed off to the blacksmith.
An elf looked up as Gustave and Voice arrived. Gustave walked up to him. "Are you the blacksmith in this fine town?" he asked. The elf stood up and nodded.