20 Memory of King Moravel

Berendan opened his eyes and was shocked to find he was standing in the white tower of Ithildan. He felt as insubstantial as dust. Looking down, he saw he had no physical body. He was merely a ghost. Turning around he saw his father looking into a large silver mirror. However the mirror did not show his reflection. Instead it showed another room which to Berendan's surprise he recognised vaguely. It was the throne room of Necrondia. By the darkness what the was going on here? Was this the past, Camilla was showing him? In the mirror room Markus entered wearing tattered rags which had possibly once been quite stylish in another century. When he looked at the mirror and saw Moravel looking back he jumped in surprise.

"Do not be afraid, vampire. I come only to speak with you," Moravel said. His voice was deeply strained, his fists were tightly clenched, the knuckles white as bone. "In fact I cannot harm you through this device."

"What magic is this?" Markus growled reaching out to touch the glass.

"What it looks like," Moravel said with weary condescension, "a mirror used to communicate over very long distances. I do not know how you came to have one and frankly I do not care. I have a task for you."

"I do not take orders from anyone," Markus declared, baring his fangs.

"What I have to ask you benefits us both," Moravel said.

"Speak then," Markus said, he seemed utterly confused at how to deal with this situation.

"I wish you to take a human girl. She has become a problem," Moravel said quite calmly. Berendan felt himself shaking, unable to believe what he was hearing. Yet somehow he knew this was no illusion but the truth. Everything began fitting into place.

"How could a human be a problem for a mighty elf lord such as yourself?" Markus sneered.

"That is no concern of yours," Moravel snapped.

"Fine. Where am I to find this wench?"

"Look for her in the Northern fringes of the forest of Darath on the first day of spring. An elf will be with her. Leave him be and you can do what you want with the girl."

The vampire grinned toothily. "I shall take much pleasure in this. Thank you."

"Just see that it is done," Moravel said sharply. With a wave the mirror returned to his own reflection. Moravel immediately turned away unable to look at himself. Then the room dissolved into smoky blurriness.

When everything reasserted itself Berendan was above a grassy plain. Nearby was a group of rickety wagons that he recognised as being those of the shifters. He heard his father speaking with Trakash.

"I want you to form my son's shape and trick the vampiress, Elanor, out of the city and alone into the forest," Moravel said.

"And then what?" Trakash asked uncertainly, like Markus he was torn between distrust and eagerness.

"Do what you want with her," Moravel replied.

Berendan saw the greedy light of lustful desire appear in Trakash's eyes. "You will help give me Elanor? Why?"

"My son cannot be allowed to marry a vampire. I refuse to let this come to pass," Moravel said flatly.

The scene shifted again. They were in a brilliant sunlit glade. Once more Moravel stood nearby, this time he was uncloaked and wearing elven mail, a keen sword hung from his hip. At his side stood the elven elders, their faces stern and apprehensive. From the trees two figures approached on horseback and with a sick feeling Berendan recognised them immediately, Elanor and himself, although not. There was something off. Something about the way the elf carried himself that Berendan recognized immediately as being wrong. Yet Elanor was oblivious of these differences, although her face was confused and unsure. As she saw the elves standing in a silent line she gathered up her reins to turn and flee. The imposter Berendan spoke words of comfort though and she relaxed visibly. She drew down her hood to shield her face from the sun and continued on into the clearing. They both dismounted and Berendan ghosted closer to hear what was being said.

Trakash went to say something friendly but before he could speak Moravel stepped forth raising his sword to point it at Elanor's chest.

"I regret this vampire, but you are a threat to everything I have worked so hard for. You must die," he said. His tone was neutral as if she was just a bug that needed to be stepped on. All at once the elves lit up like the sun and Elanor shrieked in pain.

"No," Trakash roared. He ran forwards to attack Moravel, his appearance reverting back to his usual form of a dark skinned human in his forties. "This is not what we agreed to!"

The elf king cut him down with a single stroke of his blade and he fell to land in the dust.

The brief pause in the burning light though was enough for Elanor to grasp the Sapphire and hold it high in the air. She turned, for an instant Berendan was sure she could see him, and then she disappeared in an azure flash.

"Where did she go?" Tiadarnis asked.

"She teleported," Moravel said, half impressed and half frustrated.

"What do we do?" Tiadarnis said.

"This changes little. Teleportation is hard enough at the best of times. In such a panic she may have gone anywhere and anywhen. It will be unlikely for her to be able to return to this place or this time. Bring forth the other shifter."

From the trees another elf brought forward a shifter woman. She collapsed to her knees at the feet of the elf king. When she saw Trakash's dead body she began shaking and weeping.

"Peace woman. No one shall hurt you if you do as we say," Moravel said.

"What do you want of me, great king?" she asked.

"I want you to shift into the shape of that vampire that just disappeared. Can you do that?"

The woman nodded and then her face seemed to melt and change and within seconds it looked as if Elanor was standing before them.

"Impressive," Tiadarnis said.

"Now when Berendan comes, you shall act as if you were the vampire. Do you understand?"

The woman nodded. Moravel turned to Tiadarnis. "I go now to lead our people to a new home. You shall stay here and pretend to execute the vampire and my son shall arrive to rescue her. Your sacrifice here shall be greatly remembered, Tiadarnis."

"I am honoured to serve, sire," Tiadarnis said, "Sire if I may ask? Is not having an imposter vampire as queen just as bad as having a real vampire as queen?"

Moravel shook his head. "She is not a vampire and thus she will die fighting the human army. Then my son will be forced to see sense. In a few decades I have no doubt we shall return to find he has overcome his grief, reorganised the kingdom and found a suitable wife. We have lost much but it shall not be in vain."

The scene slowly dissipated. Losing substance and meaning as it blurred out of focus and then back in again.

Berendan was deep in the forest. Moravel was walking swiftly across the ground which was covered with fallen leaves of deep red, orange and yellow. He paused suddenly and turned drawing his sword.

The vampiress whose blood Berendan had drunk emerged from the trees. She was smiling which only made her look terrifying. Moravel showed no fear though only slight puzzlement.

"Who are you?" he demanded.

The vampiress laughed. "Some might call me justice."

The elf king was unamused. "I have done what was necessary. I would hardly expect one of your limited intelligence to understand the sacrifices I have made."

"There you are quite wrong. I understand more about sacrifice than you ever will, elf. You see, to sacrifice, you must give up something you truly love and you do not love anything. Maybe you did once but not anymore."

"What is your name?" Moravel demanded, his face turning red with anger, no longer able to contain his feelings.

"Camilla," the vampire purred. In a blur of movement she was standing right in front of Moravel, her blood red lips mere millimetres from his. He didn't even flinch.

"I am going to kill you," she whispered in a tone usually reserved for things like chocolate.

"However I think it is fair that first I explain myself," she whispered into his ear. Then in a blur she was twenty paces away, leaning against a tree.

"You see I once loved someone. His name was Markus. I believe you knew him."

Moravel snorted. "He was an idiot and a fool."

Camilla shrugged. "That may be but I loved him. You know they say love is as blind as a bat, but that's not true. Bats have excellent vision. While in love we are so blinkered we often miss what is right in front of us," she sighed sadly and paused.

"Not so long ago I heard of an elf prince who wanted to kill the king of the vampires. I didn't bother to get my facts straight; I tried to kill him before he could get the chance to harm my beloved. Unfortunately he eluded me, disappearing to the vast, wild lands of the South. Then out of nowhere he arrived back in Farad, slept with the princess, slew the emperor and then vanished again. I spoke with the princess, now the empress and she told me that the elf had killed Markus but that there was also more to the story. Apparently Markus had fallen in love with the elf's fiancé. I needed to find out the whole truth so I returned to Necrondia and there I learned the hardest truth one can learn. My lover had ceased to love me in my absence. Ah what a fool I was. However you see I also have a gift with memories. When I watched Markus's memories I saw that it was in fact you who had convinced him to abduct that human girl and thus break our love which had transpired through centuries." She paused but Moravel gave no clue that he had even heard her. "So now I must ask. Do you have anything to defend yourself with? Any reason why I shouldn't kill you?"

"There is nothing I can say that will change your mind. I care nothing for any pain and suffering you have felt. Just as you care nothing for the pain and suffering you cause to others," Moravel said, the embodiment of elven arrogance.

She frowned. "Wrong again. I hate myself for what I do and I am trying to change. Unfortunately it is too late for you." In a blur she leapt forward and sank her fangs deep into his neck. His eyes went wide as he tried to throw her off but her tiny body was like steel and his struggles quickly ceased and the memory faded.

Okay so this chapter explains all. Does it make sense though as a lot of story threads come together all at once?