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Streams of snow hung above its wavy white body. The color of the sky – grey and thick – seemed to melt into the unblemished white snow at the horizon. The ocean, by which they came, was almost as infinite as the barren snowy planes, only blue. The vacant ship in it was ready to leave, but with one less passenger than it arrived.
“He’s coming for you… I know,” said the corrupter with a smirk, looking out into the ocean. “Somehow he knows you’re here…”
“He can’t know,” said Leila “You are the one with the spies.”
“Ah, but he knows, my angel, the spies don’t lie…” the corrupter exchanged glances with the Forlorn Crow clutching to his shoulder. The creature’s head shook in a pathetic convulsion from time to time, throwing off the snow that settled upon it. It hated the cold, but stood by in a servile manner. He addressed it. “Have them send three Necromantic Elves...” And with that, the crow took off.
Maxwell stepped aboard the royal frigate Fafnir. The crew was all soldiers, clad in lavishly ornamented royal armor, but with apathetic expressions on their faces. They kept their heads down, sullenly dragging themselves about the deck, hanging claymores and crossbows onto the masts. They were soldiers after all – ones that were chosen and did not chose to try and rescue some healer at the Northern Planes. Only the captain, Dormanor, was enthusiastic. A colossal man was Dormanor, with a massive axe resting beside the helm. Once the crew was finished with preparations, and sat quietly on the deck. The captain signaled Lieutenant Tiberius to raise the anchor. The war-horns on the sure gave the ship a resounding ‘farewell’. But as it sailed onward, a storm began to gather – not a storm of nature, but a storm of war.
Leila’s hair and garments blew with the wind, and she walked against it. Without the trees and warmth of her orchards she couldn’t last long, and with three dark elves after him, neither could Maxwell, she knew. It would soon snow. With the first snow, she would fade. Surveying the planes in front of her, she saw nothing but a barren white vista – one which would end her, because the corrupter couldn’t. Suddenly, a glimmer of tremulous light refracted a small portion of the landscape, and from it, bit by bit, formed the girl – Ally the fairy.
“I am finished…” said Leila gently. “Have you come to say goodbye?”
“Yes,” the fairy said. “Your face is paled, and your aura dimmed by the corrupter. Of all the love I hold for you, I cannot mend your grace. But with a favor and with luck, he may be laid to waste…”
“Ally, look after him, if he needs help.” instructed Leila with watery eyes, bending down to stroke the fairy’s forehead. “Maxwell is in so much trouble…”
A tremendous wave crashed against the ship as if it were a golem’s fist, sending splinters out into the black turbulent waters. Maxwell stood high upon the ship’s mast, sword in hand, yelling orders to the soldiers on board. In the distance, the three dark elves hovered high above the water, conjuring all sorts of war-like fiends to raid the ship. The imps and serpents swerved through Fafnir’s cannon-fire and engaged the solders. Through the relentless onslaught, men shot bolts down over the ship’s bulwarks, sending serpents plummeting into the waters, and swung claymores in every direction – almost certain that they’d hit something. But once in a while,
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a serpent would crush three or four men after breaching the deck, or a bone-wolf would reach a soldier’s throat. The rain battered Maxwell’s face, as he beat off dozens of flying imps with his short-sword. The soldier’s numbers waned, but the stronger ones fought valiantly. In particular, Dormanor, like a raging juggernaut, chopped through legions of monsters, thundering profane battle-cries, and sending limbs flying all about him.
Leila lay beneath Ally, gazing up into the noxious grey sky, as a miniscule icy sprite danced from left to right, gently making its way down from the heavens. In its infinitely elaborate crystalline garments, circling, tumbling, it made its way down, landing on Leila’s fluttering eyelash.
“Ally…” whispered Leila “It’s time. Help me… He must have my essence, body or not.”
“You treasured Maxwell, and he clung on to you… And all seemed fair and heavenly before. And now, your orchard and his love lie still… Your touch, your charm will warm this Earth no more.” Ally bowed her head, as the last, sparkling tear slid down her cheek. Leila gave her last breath, quiet yet resounding, into the cold air, and lay still, tranquil in the cold white blanket. Ally fell to her knees, and chanted a single word, once, finishing the transfer of Leila’s last gift.
“It’s a dark, dark world,” she whispered with a childlike breath, her eyes still closed, “Where a fairy’s thoughts are as grave as mine.”
The elves have exhausted their magic, and descended like eagles upon the ship, tearing through its soldiers and guns.
“Kill them! Stand your ground and rid us of the wretches!” yelled Maxwell.
Dormanor, probably the only soldier capable of surviving direct battle with an elf, was taking on one of them, while the soldiers unleashed a cloud of arrows at the other. But the third one, the third flew down to hover half a meter in front of Maxwell. The elf’s features were not black at all – his face was filthy, primal and animal-like, and he had no elaborate garments, only a belt. His body was uncanny, sparkling darkly with power. However, his complexion was that of a tanned man, and the only black parts of the creature were his eyes and wings.
As he grinned snidely at Maxwell, the elf unleashed a bolt of magic into Maxwell’s sword, sending it flying into the water. Maxwell knew that his magic was nothing to the elf, and he watched as the elf readied one final strike that would incinerate Maxwell where he stood. But as the elf gathered his energy, Maxwell felt a pang of grief, and a surge of power. As his hand gathered a deadly ball of black flames, and dispatched the dark elf with it, he saw Leila, clearly, lying in the snow. The elf fell, as did the other two, but Maxwell had failed. He and Dormanor could kill the corrupter alone now – he had all the necessary force, but still he failed! The voyage he embarked upon was supposed to save Leila – to preserve her warmth. The voyage he was sent upon was to obtain her power, to kill the corrupter.
“Change out course!” he yelled, “To Svartalfheim, to the corrupter!!!”
And as the ship sailed to the land of the dark elves, Maxwell clung to the thick wooden mast, and wept.