Ilkar didn't perish from the Elfsorrow that had killed too many of his people already and was going to sacrifice himself. Fate had been so cruel in that world in which their God was disfigured? Come on the elves didn't make that happen, invaders did! (the old world with the concept of Po Persia! )Using the Sands of time, a kind Observer changed the course of the events, having pity on the griefstricken- Ren and Hirad…..
listening to Kaze no stigma soundtrack: Destiny in my arms, blowing into my heart. Though the wind may oppose my fate, I will fight!
for the moment, this is the title and it's initial stage. review please, thanks!
Ilkar: The Cure
Al Arynaar the temple guardians
*involves only a few of them with Rebraal (brother) , unsure of the others' characters
Ilkar's coughs wracked his body. Blood stained the grass where he fell from the sky but fortunately not too high up. Ren hurried to his side. Hirad also called out his name. Ilkar managed to catch his breath and leaned against his mate. Oh gods, the elfsorrow had spread to him too! Hirad couldn't believe it.
Yet the symptoms were the same, sunken eyes, painful coughs, sweat drenched pale skin. "Ilkar don't die on us." Ren implored, cradling his head. Some blood was on his mouth.
He smiled. "I won't." As a word of consolation, the others thought of it as food poisoning. The mercenary were One unit, they did not let morale drop! They wouldn't let morale drop. Those closest to the elf were still seized by fear and dread though. Ren supported him to lie down for awhile. Ilkar slipped into darkness and oblivion.
Rebraal paled when he saw what happened. Yniss, don't take him. I haven't had enough time, and I was so cruel to reject my brother when he returned to our land! He knelt beside the sick elf, who was at rest. At Rebraal's touch of his damp brow, Ilkar came back to the wracking reality. He was disoriented for a moment. "I am sorry. We will not fail. I am sorry for everything." Reb spilled out in elven. The leader of the temple guardians sobbed, pressing his chin on the elf and holding him tightly.
Outside Hirad paced restlessly. They had yet to retrieve that missing piece. Now, his best friend was in there fighting for his life but he couldn't help him! It couldn't just be the superstition that the elves depended on a statue to live! Sure, religion was their life and tradition but this was a plague! From a barbarian's standpoint, disease was physical.
Exhaustion must have done it. Pursuing those bastards who vandalized their god's holy ground, damn it all!
An Observer took the vessel of the magical sand. She was charged with the task of ensuring that it would always be full. The Gods were angry now, however. She had seen what happened on earth, those pointed eared beings who were elegant and pious falling prey to this sickness. Yniss, god of their people, sighed deeply. He did not want their race extinct. Then, why was he allowing it to happen? The Observer trembled seeing one of the pools reflecting a pale young elf, hugged by his brother. He was one of the Good, offering aid and magic to the poor and desperate. Forgetting her place she turned to that God and cried, "How can you let him die too? He is innocent!"
The other deities listened to her indignant outpourings. Ynis was not provoked, instead he was simply quiet in the face. Apathetic, ruthless! Another minor god just said it was inevitable. After all people would perish and they suffered less on this plane of existence.
"No! I won't accept this! I am going there right now!" Ima her best guru held her fast. She was shocked by the defiance in the nameless one's eyes. Only once many centuries ago had this youth been similar thus, when she was a man and saw his best friend die.
Ima realized why. That person had been one of the fae, and his closest companion. "Let me go! I won't let another elf die. I can use this!" She gripped the vessel of sand.
The major god was in the gateway where she could jump into the dimension. He reprimanded that she was out of turn and would be imprisoned in isolation if she left this place. Did she not take the vow to stay here with the duty of silent keeping? Ima prostrated.
"Indeed the nameless one did but can we all see that the danger is imminent? If Ilkar lives, he has the intelligence to strengthen alliances with those bandits and bring the cure to the peoples. I implore that the fates be altered! They are not prepared for this calamity yet. But Observer, it may mean you have to stay on earth in addition to protecting the sands from evil mages. Please reconsider this action."
She smiled and thanked them in advance for being kind to her. But it would haunt her eternity if Ilkar fell to the Elfsorrow too. Happy times are coming! Given a new identity Observer was dressed in that era's clothing and could use the sand. But once mission was complete, she had to leave the elves and continue the duties here. Jaren, she intoned, her new name. As usual the briefing involved all the rules:
the sand couldn't alter all of the history, too far back in time those who died would remain dead; not to reveal her true name and mission, this form she took on was transient and temporary. This meant that life could be taken anytime without immortality.
She was given a magical pouch for water (for food wasn't necessary in this form), a compass for teleporting and locating the waypoints and gateways of exit from places, translators and retained her own skill. Good! Finally rules were done and she leapt into the main doorway. First, she had to find the source of the plague. Pressing the top of the Sand vessel, Jaren went to the forests of the elves and the history. Where it all began! A male elf, middle aged stumbled , feeling dizzy and weak. He made his way back to the village, where his friends rushed out. According to the symptoms, the afflicted coughed till blood was produced, their organs decomposing from within. The translator encoded their talk into English. "Weak, ill. Must rest." He was the first one. Jaren glided behind the group as they brought him into his house.
She wanted to confirm one thing and used the Sand for that purpose, not to go there but to cast a net. The statue of Ynis was intact, nobody had entered it yet. Hence this Elfsorrow had began way before that happened! This group of elves were natives and their immunity was no match for the new virus. Why didn't they take precautions, still kissing and hugging the infected person? Some boiled soups and herbs to relieve the pain.
Jaren wanted to impress the importance of hygiene, washing hands after touching him and so on. But the first rule said she could not alter time this far back… Late night, Jaren snuck into the camp. She had to see what happened to him, and touched his forehead. Had he been bitten or come across something? The elf sighed and gave up the memory….. a spore, little brownish fluff had entered his nose when he stumbled upon a trap that had decomposed some creature. Jaren pulled on her gloves and caught a few of the buggers as samples.
Returning to the place, she was not with the patient but outside. The elves began pointing and shouting at her. Intruder! They were about to attack- and intercepting with her own dagger thrust, she rushed for the nearest teleporter. It was just within reach and Jaren laughed when the light flashed.
Limited time. Plague took just hours to surface and quickly broke down tissues spreading from chest to stomach. Some elves didn't have 4 days. These facts hammered home! Twisting the compass, Jaren got herself to the Everlasting garden. Her friend Aleria was the Watcher of this sacred grove of endangered plants. The beautiful place used to be the Observer's key leisure spot, when all her duties were done. "Hello?Hello! Can you give me the antidote to this fungus?" she shouted.
Aleria knew everything, though she was not a goddess. She had experience with disease and plague. If anyone could help the elves, she could! The pale ghost figure wafted out chewing something. 'The Observer, once vowed to be silent, had retaliated and decided to become an active participant.' The woman looked like a tanned human now and was on her knees.
"Please! I won't let more of them suffer! My lover died once, and I don't even remember his name!" Jaren's eyes were wet, flashing back to that moment when he had collapsed and never awoke again. in grief, this spirit had committed a self-sin in order to seek out his soul in the afterlife. It didn't work, Aleria shook her head in pity. Somehow that lover's soul was lost.
Aleria searched amongst the herbs. But there was only one flower, pale small and fragile. Jaren's heart sank. It wasn't common enough to cultivate nor tough enough to be carried for long distances. There were so many who needed the antidote! "Can it be changed into an elixir? The elf I need to cure, he just got the sickness. Hurry!"
"As little as four days, to a week I know. And yes the elves think it is their god's vengeance or fallen out of favor. To my experience, the disease evolved from the bacteria itself." Her friend mused in a singsong voice. Jaren felt impatient.
Making it would take more time. Aleria explained, while the woman made a cutting motion. No she would go now! Her hand rested on the sand vessel. Ilkar, the name of the elf… both spirits thought at the same time, might he be the reincarnation of Jaren's lover?
When this one was well, people would ask questions. Aleria set to work on clones, samples she always kept.
"I know and understand the consequences. Goodbye now!" She dissipated into the clouds.
Ilkar tossed and turned. Every pain was intensified, every bone screamed. His coughing and breathing was pure flame. He gasped, not wanting to cry out or Hirad would worry. He and Ren were his closest friends. The mage had no regrets. He just could not see the restoration of the temple. Perhaps he had overstrained himself, not having enough rest before setting off each day. The fatigue had set in two days ago, but Ilkar did not mention it, or the Raven's morale and courage would flag.
Neither did he want panic. Turning, he saw movement. Yet his eyesight now could not be trusted. The illness affected all senses and balance. "Hirad?" he whispered.
The huge hand touched his chest. Ilkar smiled, while Hirad felt awful he couldn't do more to ease his agony. He leaned near to lay a damp cloth on his brow. "Ilks no one's dying on me."
The patient rested for a moment, and asked for a favour. The big guy supported him as gently as he could upright, but each movement still took effort. "It's too much. Lie down." Ilkar got over his bout of coughing, his slim hand laid on Hirad's and squeezed. He pointed to Ren. She had been crying these days. He was quite concerned for her welfare and health. Ren dried her tears and faked a weak smile. Hirad laid him down carefully. The elves held hands.
Jaren appeared in the tent. Ilkar was not here. Hearing their low voices, she looked at the figures outside. How could she walk amongst them and explain that she could see the events? That was a forbidden truth. Damn. Inside the cold packet was the flower that would save his life. It was now!
"Who is there?" Ren demanded, ears pricked. She eased away from her contented soulmate. Jaren had stepped on some twig. She ducked down.
The barbarian let her investigate. Ilkar asked for water. "All right. I'll be right back." Ren had one hand on her bow, ready to spring into action. Jaren had two options: distraction or to freeze time. She had plenty of magic sand at her disposal, using it would be great. Distraction was not too bad, but that would wake more people, the entire camp. First option was better. Unfortunately the archer was still beside the sick elf. The sand must not spill on the intended party.
"Me," Jaren said gliding out from a tree. Ren nocked an arrow. "Wait, I am here to help. Don't scream. I'm not your enemy." The newcomer held up both hands empty.
Ren was about to cry out a warning, her blazing green eyes and open mouth. Jaren uncapped the sand and tossed it into her face. Short of the scream, blessed silence. A little more was enough to freeze the time Stop the others- she commanded, waving at the barbarian too.
Why did she need to do that? Jaren didn't look threatening, not armed except a hidden dagger in her boot. Ilkar had pushed himself up, his mage senses tingling. He coughed again, the world darkening. Instead of Hirad, a woman tipped the cup to his lips. She had purple eyes and dark long hair to the shoulders. "This is the cure, Ilkar. Chew it well." Jaren took out the flower from the pocket and placed it on his tongue. The elf did as told, questions flashing across his drawn face. Would it work? He breathed shallowly, laid on her lap.
First thing the elf uttered was, "Who are you? How do you know my name?"
"I was… sent. I cannot say more. Does it relieve the pain?" Jaren evaded the subject.
He frowned but was not angry. It was astonishment. His hand grasped hers.
"At least let me thank you Emissary." Ilkar tried to inhale deeply, and it did not hurt. Neither did his chest and the aches were gone. His vision was perfect once more and gave him clear view of this kind stranger.
"Good. Wonderful!" she smiled.
He had more energy and sat up on his own. "Can the antidote save all my people? Please help us." He noticed Ren, unmoving. "Are they…."
"No I can reverse the magic. My presence here, must not be known. Secret." Jaren replied. The elf's blue eyes were imploring and he still clasped her hand. How much Jaren wanted to stay, to make sure he was completely cured and pretend he was her lover! However there were important matters, she needed to contact Aleria again and badger her for more flowers. "I am J."
He smiled and bowed. She thought this was better than being in the Otherlife, the Gods were so boring and predictable. Emissary was quite a nice label. "Yes. More of the flowers will grow. That will stop the Elfsorrow."
Ilkar was tired again and had to lie down. The weakness of his body was normal, she was not too worried. "You are strange, but I don't fear. Not the enemy… I wonder if this is a dream and when I wake up it will be agony?" Pain was real.
"It won't!" she covered her mouth realizing it came out louder than intended. "Rest well. I have to go now. It is not because of the desecration, it's a virus." Before my emotions become uncontrollable, though I am unwilling. He stared mouth open. Jaren touched the Sand vessel. Now he had more time with his friends the Raven.
"Thank you, my lady J. What is that object?" he was curious. His voice was beautiful like a singer's. Mentally remembering it forever, everything about his youthful face. The color was returning to his cheeks and lips.
Jaren couldn't reveal that. "A secret I presume? Will you return?" Ilkar seemed wistful and sad.
"Don't tell them. You can see this trick." One finger to her lips. Jaren pressed upon the top of the vessel, scattering the sand to the surroundings. She faded into a golden light, as Ren and Hirad came out of the Freeze, concerned and sad.
They made him lie down. "Ilks! Don't move, does it hurt?"
"Not at all. I have no more pain. Hirad, I think my arm will break." His friend laughed and let go. They took turns feeling his forehead and asking a million times. Ilkar knew they would think it was the last surge before death. As promised, he did not feel ill anymore. Rebraal was not his reserved self and clasped him tightly. They talked.
The moment arrived as his Raven asked what had cured him. Ilkar paused, taking them in especially his girlfriend and Hirad. The memory remained what happened. Finally he told them, "An angel came. I ate the antidote. But the most crucial thing is, there will be a cure. The Elfsorrow is a virus. It is not caused by the destruction." Murmuring amongst themselves, and the warriors did their prayers.
Hirad noticed his friend needed to walk slowly. He should not exert his strength so soon. Ilkar also seemed dreamy and less chatty. Ren tilted her head. "Hey you are keeping a secret. Are you planning to leave us?" She kissed him.
As they broke for lunch, he felt the burning gaze of everybody. Ilkar repeated, "Not at all. There is no pain, nor fever. I am very certain."
Rest well… the mysterious person had instructed. Instinctively, the elf took heart in her words that she would bring hope and salvation. That had been determination in those unique purple eyes. Was she really an angel? Hirad handed him another meat slice. "I'll fatten you. Now you can eat more!" Everyone laughed. It loosened the tension. Even some Al Arynaar chuckled.
Rebraal still believed they had to recover the missing piece.
Jaren returned to Aleria. "I have cloned the flowers. You can lead them to the meadows for the taking." She gestured to a nursery.
"Even those with the late stages will be cured?" Jaren wondered. Ilkar was counting on this. There was no guarantee. Jaren wanted to protest at the unfairness of it all, but took in the refreshing sight of the white blossoms bobbing merrily. Alecia was going to cultivate them at the location. A map unfurled magically. Deep within, she smiled at the elf's sincerity. He wanted her to return. But a looming regret rose, she could not stay for long.
The location was in a meadow not too far, by the Gallas Lake. The bad thing was, once more she risked exposure. The teleporter got her among the elite. Rebraal looked like him but was menacing. Jaren managed to toss the sand to stop the action of most of them. But Rebraal pressed a knife to her neck. She held still. The distrust in his taut face prevented her from speaking.
"I know antidotes, medicine for the elfsorrow. Please, I have a map." Her fingers touched the pouch. He growled something in elven.
Unexpectedly the other voice cried out. "Stop brother! Do not hurt her." Ilkar! Jaren was surprised he had not been affected by the timefreeze. He was panting slightly as he came in.
Rebraal snapped. "An intruder! We don't know this is true." Ilkar sighed and gesturing he put down the blade.
"Brother calm down, I have seen her before. Look no weapons." He glanced at her. Jaren's eyes felt hot. He had come even though that moment had lasted a mere second. Rebraal hesitated. Ilkar bit his lip.
The other elf let go and shoved her aside. Jaren remained on her feet. He was doubtful of her intentions, but Ilkar went over it with a firm voice. Ilkar said she was a friend he met on a previous journey. Then he smiled at her. She showed them the map. Rebraal's sidelong glances were suspicious. Close to the mage, she felt confident. This moment must be cherished.
"It had better not be a trap. All right I trust your judgment little brother." He left them alone. It was funny how the warriors were stuck halfway taking out their things.
"Thank you. I may have died back there." The stranger said.
"My brother is rash. He wouldn't kill you. Sit down." The elf beckoned for her to sit down. It was a long time before he said something. "I am still wondering. When you came so suddenly, it was as if… Yniss himself had laid his hand. I was prepared for death. Many of us already faded. J, are you a mage?"
He did not explicitly refer to her magic. She wished she could answer honestly, she would give anything to. The temptation to forget about duty and loyalty to the Otherworld, but no. Jaren looked down for a moment. "Perhaps. I cannot talk about this. My mission is to help the elves fight this sickness. Because I don't like people suffering."
Could they not be friends? The elf posed this question, open. He talked briefly about his companions. Jaren nodded. No one had ever asked her that before. I always had to keep a distance from those who would steal the precious entity for evil purposes. Or they wanted their own gain.
How much it hurt that she had to leave this kind person. Ilkar's leaf pointed ears twitched. They were smaller than the old texts portrayed. Finally she agreed though there was some secret within. He was puzzled. "It is very strange the sand did not affect me. Why didn't you choose another person to save J?"
Because she had seen his potential and it was very unjust to watch him writh from pain he did not ask for. "I can keep secrets my friend. I enjoy contact with many people, unlike the Al Arynaar's strict and conservative thinking."
Jaren blinked, he sounded blunt and different from those elves. His hand lingered on the space between them, so she touched and felt his pulse beat strongly. He was all healed, though fatigued from action. He might have died, but now that crisis was past. "Ilkar I noticed you and know that everyone will have a great future. To be honest, I am not sure why. I- once lost a loved, dear one."
The elf emanated sympathy. He was never alone for too long. The poor lady, he clasped her hand. She sighed, stroking the strange oval vessel of the golden sand. Reluctantly, J prepared to cast the magic to reverse its effect. "Stop. It's dark out. Do not leave me hungry for answers. I am rather (he paused) lonely with the battles and people asking me questions." Ilkar peeked outside the tent.
He made a face. "Ilkar how's the body doing? Don't die on me. I've repeated millions of times that I am well. You won't do that I hope." He rolled his eyes.
Jaren stayed. She did not talk much, listening to him. Eventually he asked impatiently, why she couldn't trust him. "I- cannot. It really frustrates me, that rule."
"Do you want to?" it was the first time the calm elf raised his voice. "People have choices. It is not too late, though I don't understand your situation completely." Long hair partially concealed his face. He marveled that everyone was still alive, yet they were very unmoving bundles. Those who were almost getting up were posing in their attack weapons. He smiled wryly. Opposite, J's heart was wrenched, she knew about his true loves- Ren and another woman.
How could she get between them? "What if people misunderstand?"
"Hey I meant as a friend, not wife. An elf is forever grateful to his saviour and angel. It is innate. I'm also called Ilks." He walked close to study her profile, pale brows in a curious frown. J's intense happiness overwhelmed her.
"Yes. I want to be friends. All these kind, Raven people mentioned." She hurriedly changed the words 'you most of all' to his companions. "But I have little choice in that decision." She could not help a wet trickle. It isn't fair! I have to be detached from the race I admire most!
He sat beside her in silence again, to allow her to calm down. Jaren was about to say something more when he interrupted, "Will this cure be permanent? Does the plague relapse?" She answered neutrally, grateful for not having the personal touch.
"It is a permanent cure. Do not worry."
Departure was inevitable, they had warned her. Those high and mighty Powers that only watched but could not act. At least I acted! Soon I have to go back to the Sacred time vault and continue the isolation. Ha I was rude to the Major god. All these didn't matter suddenly.
The mage would be a faraway friend and he will forget me given time.
He smiled. "I wanted to add that your magic is formidable. It's no attack spell I've seen, just to cause sleep." She laughed at his odd humor. "What, don't think of it as a joke. I am serious."
That made her helpless in tears. J did not expect an elf to have such jokes, for they were ancient and quite traditional in mindset. Ilkar was so unique. J did tell him things that were all right, she liked animals and her life was boring. At first light, Jaren retrieved the vial from her right hip and sighed. The elf had a poignant sad look. "Leaving huh? I hope in future, I will get to see you again. My angel, maybe secrets can be open till then."
Jaren shook his hand firmly and reversed the process. These words were stored in her heart and mind. Ilkar did not blink and waved, one finger to his lips.
"You have done well. But you have to serve a sentence of isolation." Boss God boomed.
"Can I say something? I would like to serve this redemption on Earth. Specifically in the elf forests." This tone was not a request but a decision.
His face darkened immediately. Other gods murmured. "What? No permission not granted. You will get attached to the mortals."
Observer looked up calmly. "I choose to. Free will is mine and I want to go. I do not mind guarding the sand, but elven lives are at stake. I can balance both duties."
That was enough to make her descend to Earth. Oh, but she had her things! Looking at the reflection, Observer had different features. Only her purple eyes remained the same.
The portal dropped Jaren in Ysundeneth, a place the Raven convened. They were travelling. This was years later, after the wars. Where was that elf? She saw Rebraal, his brother. Nobody recognized her at all. Would Ilkar know me? I want to say I accept his friendship now.
A sole consolation would be she could know him all over again.
Addressing one woman doing farming, she pointed south. Many looked similar, men and women with long hair. Jaren looked carefully. Nope. She almost gave up when further down the path, she heard voices. One male stood apart, talking animatedly. His shift was short sleeved and lavender. Jaren beamed and called, "Hello Ilkar!"
In that instant, he gazed at her. They were the same height. This moment seemed to be a still life portrait. All voices were unimportant in this moment. "You look well. Everything going fine?" She continued, her voice shaking from exuberance. Without the sands to paralyse them, people bobbed in the peripheral edge.
His lips tipped in a quiet little smile. Ilkar liked the spunk of this woman. "Thanks. How did you know my name?" He hit the mark as usual.
"Once we spoke, when you were gravely ill. I could tell no one else." Dropping hints would be fine, not against the rules.
Ilkar's features did not react with the light of recognition. "Never mind, it's all right. I will go now. Sorry." She turned away, deflated. Then Jaren was held in place by an invisible shield. A wall?
"Wait! I never told a soul about that. Are you… the stranger with the weird spell?" The elf was suddenly in front of her. He smiled warmly and noticed the vessel. Jaren couldn't speak.
He clasped her with both hands. "It is you. You have come back!" He embraced her.