The local temple of S'vel rested deep in the forests, as usually was the case. Temples were often built far from any sort of civilization, as to keep them pure and away from those who would seek to destroy a serene place of worship.
This particular Temple Of S'vel sat nearest to home, a well laid and maintained stone path led the way through lush thickets of bushes and thick stouts with healthy green crowns. The weather was always nice in Menoione, it was the land of Gods after all, but it seemed even more calm around the temple. There was always an air of tranquility around these places. Each temple around Menoione were built seemingly ages ago, their architects names lost in the passage of time. Yet still they stood, dotted among the hearty and lively forests of Menoione.
The Temples Of S'vel mostly remained empty now, yet still there were always elves that would take time out of their day to make sure that they remained pristine. There weren't any sermons or speeches held here, just a place where one can come once or twice a year to ask a favor or two of a God. Even still, the common elves are seldom seen in these temples, usually the Acolytes of S'vel give them the most attention, understandably so. So it was here that Aethys said I would meet his sister this day, it was here that my journey to becoming an Acolyte would begin.
From outside the temple seemed so peaceful that I expected it to be empty. To my surprise though someone was here. A young Ashen Elf coated in hard leather and metal, well armed. It was a strange sight to see, Elves usually come to temples bare.
"A true honor to meet you Tiyil'il." He says. His voice was low and slithered from his lips in a whisper. I had to almost strain to hear him speak. "My sister had met you earlier today."
"Your sister?" I pause for a moment, remembering the other Ashen Elf I met at the garden earlier. Making the connection quickly enough. "Oh! I did see her yes. We did not speak much though-"
"She's not much a speaker." he corrects quickly. He was rather handsome in a way. His hair was curled imperfectly perfect, his skin was clear and pale just like that of his sister, and his face was sharply molded. Just like his sister though, there was something eerie about him. Perhaps it was his ghastly voice, perhaps it was the way he moved and carried himself. He didn't seem to smile, but his mouth always seemed to be open just enough to display the fangs that some Ashen Elves had. Maybe I was being paranoid, but his particular fangs seemed a bit sharper and his red eyes seemed a bit deeper.
"What God is that you prefer...umm...what is our name again?" I asked and he stands. Deliberately so.
"I am called Eo'ric. My name is of course much longer considering my heritage."
"Of course." Ashen Elves tend to have insanely long names, so Eo'ric would do.
"As for Gods, I don't consider myself a Godly man. I live to protect their land and my family. That's enough to believe in to keep me fighting for another day."
"Of course." I answer again simply, a bigger question on my mind. "And why is it that you are here then?"
"I am Aelyn's escort, that is the duty that has been given to me."
"Of course." I let out a sigh, not knowing what to say next. Thankfully the doors behind me swing open and prevent what would have been an awkward moment.
Aelyn sweeps into the room. "Eo'ric, please excuse us." She says immediately, her demand followed with a curt nod and Eo'ric made himself scarce. His heavy armor clanking against the hard wood beneath his feet and the door closing respectfully behind him. "Tiyil'il, I'm so glad that my brother finally convinced you to follow the teachings of S'vel."
Aelyn Vaeri was seen almost as a Goddess among the Elves, at least she was the closest thing to one. Just like her brother Aethys Vaeri, she represented her people well in beauty and grace. She was benevolent in all things, wise in all things, and among one of the oldest living elves in the land. Her life spanning five generations, Aethys was just a baby compared to her as was I.
"Come come child." her voice seems to echo within these sacred halls. Her tone soft, melodic, and soothing to the ears. Menoione was a conglomeration of Ashen, High-Elven, and Tawny leadership. Yet if there was a sole leader of all our kind, it would definitely be Aelyn. Her word was definite.
"I understand that you wish to take part in this ongoing conflict with the humans? My brother Aethys tells me you wish to do so, even so much as to wish to pick up a sword?" she chuckles at that, which irks me just a little. Aelyn would never mean any harm by it though.
"My father as you know trained all of us in combat-"
"I knew your father, knew him well. He would be proud of the skill your sisters possess with blade and bow. Sayil'il fights with the courage and bravery of our people and Celil'il's cunning in battle and precision is feared by anything with a beating heart. What is your weapon of choice?"
"Daggers or knives I suppose, short blades. Something light and agile, it suits me better." I answer excitedly, perhaps too much so. Aelyn chuckles once again, this time at my enthusiasm. There was almost a mocking tone to her laughter.
"You are of your blood, you have that urge to fight. To join the front lines of war."
"You are of your blood, you have that urge to fight. To join the front lines of war."
"What you should know is that the front lines of this particular war are gruesome. Ielos and his revolution have completely rooted out our influence. Brutally murdering and beheading the Elves we left in charge there and moving further south-"
"Further south?" I asked as we walked slowly to the shrine of S'vel that centered the room. "Ielos has captured the city of Lyla?"
"Captured? I'd say he has united all the northern men to his cause. He calls his kingdom Iunia now, in name of his newly anointed Queen. Normally we would withdraw, sacrifice our holds on what was once ours and give them their land. We are a benevolent people, they can have that continent if they so wish...but Ielos is not content with that. He moves into the Golden Empires and swiftly."
"How so?" all of this was news to me. Aethys never discussed the war with me. "Is that even possible?"
"All things are possible my child, especially with enough motivation." I knew what she meant. The Humans of what was now called Iunia were very much a conquered people. A council of Elves ruled over them, taught them morals, introduced them to our pantheon, our ways. Forced it down their throats. North of Iunia was the harsh Highlands, a lawless tundra. South of Iunia were the Golden Empires. A region that did not think fondly of foreigners, a region whose politics were just a part of life. The Golden Empires were a force that not even we Elves poked. Thankfully they were content with their sun baked lands and inhospitable jungles.
"Still though, it must take some force. To even get past House Doma and it's warriors."
"House Doma has fallen and surrendered. Dire times. Soon those golden cities will be crushed into dust, they will have access to their shores and make their way to our land. We are sending forces to help aid House Bilisaae and from there we will fight. It has been decided."
"Will my sisters be there?" she gives her head a nod. "And me? I can help-"
"You will remain here, with the rest of the acolytes. I believe your true ability lies in sorcery, I get a strong vibe from you. Something about you, something about your essence makes you special. Any man can swing a sword, shoot a bow, magic...that is the power we hold over Humans. It is the power that destroyed the Greenskins once and for all."
"It may take years of practice-"
"It may. I know ways to quicken it." She turns from me and looks at the looming statue of S'vel. The one elf that honed sorcery and magic so well that many thought her divine. It was said that S'vel could turn a desert into a forest, she could create life where there was only death.
"Ways to quicken my learning?"
"There are many things that S'vel knew. Many things that we've hidden and forbidden from many acolytes. Some would call these teachings dark. I would agree, dark in that no one knows about them. The Ashen have known about these teachings for too long a time."
"They were persecuted for practicing them-"
"Wrongfully so. They had power that have always been available to us. Power that we now need."
I too was entranced by the statue of S'vel. It stood still before us, judging. It was said that every statue of S'vel had been enchanted with her essence, her being. That even in death she could hear, she could see, she could judge. Some of these statues of S'vel were over ten generations of age. This one seemed particularly old. It was ruined with cracks here and there, and it's stone was not as smooth as one would like.
"S'vel knew these things..." Aelyn continued on, almost talking to herself now. I looked over to her, wondering where her mind was at. Certainly not in this room. "S'vel became a Goddess. Isn't that what we all strive to do? To earn a seat among the council of the divine?"
"Personally, I just want the conflict to end-"
"End? This is just the beginning."
First, another lot not made by me that I must give credit to!
Second, if you are new to this story you'll likely not have any idea what they are talking about. That's why I made maps for it.
That will be of great help to you all! As for the veterans of the series, I'll get that Menoione map out soon!