Submission (#2390) Approved
She does have the gift art tag.
Region in question: Strynhalde
Word Count: 2,174
Since I don't own the Elnin, and I don't have one I'm not aiming for AP. I was doing the prompt entry based in the Region to test to see if my writing skills clearly and accurately portray Strynhalde well.
Notes: Resubmitting this with the requested trinket mention!
The Legend Under The Ice
The Elnin walked into the tavern here in Iorumund, the capital city of Strynhalde. The Eldertree was clearly visible, even amidst the light snowfall from the windows. A glorious blue-black trunk and ice white leaves. The textured leaves caught and held the day's latest snowfall, so it was hard to tell where it all began and ended but the sight always left a little warmth in her heart. Perhaps it was due to her snowy crown sigil, or maybe it was the way the people here felt like they all had warm fires in their hearts. Living everyday as though it was a cause for celebration even in the snow ridden tundra.
She made her way over towards the stand in the far back corner of the tavern, passing by a playful kittom running through and around the tables, Elnin who were in all their various forms. Some were drinking at the bar, others curled around one another, foreheads pressed together in moments of quiet privacy. Her instrument was strapped to her back while she proudly proceeded. It was a lovely creation, as dark as her fur with flecks of silver inlaid to portray the illusion of freshly fallen snow and stars. It’d taken her months to get the earnings and even longer for her to await its creation. The snow illusion hid the true secret to this instrument which were the strings themselves. A tale she would be telling tonight. Not that she expected many to believe it.
Trotting up the stairs to the chair she slipped it off with careful paws, a surge of magic swirled around her, and she stood proud and defiantly looking down at the crowd in her bipedal form. A glowing trinket in the shape of a triangle shimmering with a myriad of colors glistened where it hung on her chest. She focused carefully, wanting to show what her latest aquisition from the markets could do. It was a new invention coming from a wandering merchant, who claimed he got it from the Alchemists. They called it a Glamour Prism. It was said to allow the ability of a quick change of clothes, something a performer like her sorely needed. Tapping the little trinket started the change.
A swirling mass of blue, black, purple, and silver transformed into a floor length ball gown in the same colors. Her crown delicately placed upon her hair, between enchanting light blue horns. She took her seat, and the crowd dimmed to silence without her even needing to fully ask for it. They all knew who she was.
For she was Moon, known for her tales of adventure, sorrow, heartbreak, and heroes and villains alike. She was their Skald, and they listened to her stories. Her fingers pulled a bow made of the same wood, fibers, and inlay. The string made from the selfsame creature. She pulled it across letting the melancholy sound drift into the air. Before her voice followed.
“Tonight’s tale is a personal one. For it will be the tale of how I won my music. A tale of sorrow, renewal, and above all it is the tale of the Legend that lives under the ice of Strynhalde itself. The creature of music, Ilvermorn.”
I was fleeing the city of Skolvigaard. My heart lay shattered in my home, where there lay a traitor in my bed. One who I had thought was my truest love, only to find that they had been using me to bring himself to greater glory. Another Elnin lay in our bed, where I had opened my heart and soul to him. Detailing all of my achievements, my darkest secrets, and my long dreams of love.
The snow rose like a wild beast around me, my precious violin lay in pieces, along with my happiness back in the house. I was angry, pissed off, and was running as fast as my paws could carry me. Heedless of the growing storm, mindless of the calls from the guards. I ran, and ran, and ran. My paws bled and cracked over ice, and frost covered rocks. I lost track of the hours I took, but when I came to I was deep in the heart of the western mountains. The hunger clawing at the depths of my stomach, muscles aching in pained protest, and frost caked on my fur like a dress woven from the highest of designers.
The area I’d run to was at the entrance to a trail many Kittom and even Adult Elnin were warned from a young age to avoid. The Broken Trail. All around it lay signs warning of death, and devastation which lay further along the trail. The reason behind it was that the survivors came back with grand tales of a song and a beast which lurked underneath it. The Broken Trail was the only clear path that took you straight through the western mountain range. It was quick cutting all travel from weeks to mere days.
I was up for the challenge. Screw what may come, I had nothing left for myself back in Skolvigaard. Just ruins and chaos, and a mess of a career which had come crashing down to lie in pieces. I took the first step onto the Broken Trail. Nothing happened. So I took the next, and the next walking along the spines of the mountain like trailing through the remains of a long dead beast. No sound of creatures was heard, a dead silence that hung like the reaper's blade. Every step took me deeper into the mountains, until the trail became see through, ice as clear as glass. I froze, my paw steps stopped, one hovering over the fragile surface. It seemed to go on forever on this stretch of icey path.
My ears flicked up, something about this place didn’t feel right. Didn’t feel safe. Something was here with me but for the life of me I couldn’t see it, couldn’t smell it...But I could hear it. A subtle sound, humming almost like it was singing. I tested the ice with the barest tap of my paw. It held strong and sure, and I put another down, and then another. Until all of myself was on the clear ice.
That sound was still there and it sounded like it was coming from further up the trail. A musician myself, I wanted to know what it was. I wanted to see the creature who made it. I wanted to forget all of the pain that I’d been feeling. I walked the trail, getting closer to the sound, eyes tracking whenever it dipped and swelled. I followed it around twists, turns, bends, and little caves and coves. Until I’d gone off the trail, following a small narrow valley.
A glittering of something sparked up ahead, and the noise swelled to a crescendo until I felt my very bones vibrating with the sound. A bump hit the ice. Then another. I looked down into those clear depths and saw a creature trying to ram its way through the ice. White hairs cascaded all over its body, a maw big enough to swallow an adult Elnin whole was open and the sound I was hearing came from it. A panic went up throughout my body, the creature had two large flippers which it used to propel its form, the maw was full of hundreds of rows of teeth all rubbing together to produce that eerie sound. I ran straight through the narrow path it’d led me down. How I hadn’t seen it before I wasn’t sure, but for the moment it was clear in its intent to try and eat me.
The path got narrower but below me the beast followed swift and nimble with all the space it needed. I ran and ran and ran, until I popped out into a vast cavern, not a shred of ice to be seen. The beast surged up out of the water in front of me, its beady white eyes narrowed in shrewd calculation as it tried to figure out its way to reach me from its watery abode. I had skidded to a narrow ledge of rock and ice. The entire cavern was filled with water, and from my vantage point I could see that there were hundreds of holes carved out. This beast must have done it over the years, and who knew how old it even was?
Yet for all its power, it couldn’t seem to reach me. The hairs along its body would get caught in the low ceiling, and though the cavern was deep and vast its long and sinewy body just couldn’t get up to the speeds needed to launch itself at me. I sat catching my breath, while the song continued to echo throughout and it felt like such a mournful tune. I couldn’t resist opening my own and responding in kind.
“Oh little beast, the times come to play. Here in your cavern of water~.
The place where you roam is dark and alone, and your song a mourning tune.
My heart is broken, and I ache to see a light that follows upon dawn's shattered view.
You’ve chased me down, and cornered me true, Here in your cavern of water~.” I took a breath and watched as the beast settled its eyes watching me, this time not in hunger or need, but in curiosity. I followed with the second verse, not bothering to rhyme but to sing what was in my heart.
“I’ve run afar, and I've run out of ground.
There is nowhere more for me to hide.
I’ve lost it all and I may lose more, but I shan’t be your easy prey.
Oh little beast, the times come to play. Here in your cavern of water~.” It followed with a crooning song of its own, as though trying to mimic the sounds I was making itself. This time I could see it in all of its light.
The beast before me was long, and covered in white hair that drifted and seemed to reflect the very light back. Not much different from my own luminous fur. Two large flippers extended from its sides, with claws lining each edge. I’d seen the likes before on my travels; they were for burrowing or tunneling. Which explains how the numerous caves and tunnels all lead to this cavern. It’s eyes were white and though I’d thought it blind, it seemed to know wherever it was I stepped. Finally, the body was serpentine, meant to twist and turn through all the rocks and crags that must filter throughout the mountain range. It was the oddest creature I’d ever laid eyes on, but the faint vestiges of a storybook tale echoed in my mind.
“Ilvermorn, the creature of music. You who make the mountains sing.” That would make sense as to why the souls who survived the Broken Trail spoke of a song being sung. It wasn’t the wind or even vibrations in the earth it was this creature, this Ilvermorn. I wasn’t certain if there were others, or if anyone human, elinin, or kittom had ever come across one throughout all of Strynhalde, but this creature had me aching and healing in ways I very much needed. It turned away and swam out now that I’d finished addressing it. No longer in the mood to hunt me. I could see a path out on the other side, and I took a careful paw step down along the rim of the cavern.
Following the rim I came across patches of hair, they were long silvery white, and something about them reminded me of my violin. I took as many as I could carry, carefully wrapping them up into a large ball while changing into my bipedal form to help carry more. These were just the things I knew would lead me to becoming the greatest Skald of Strynhalde.
“I never did come across the great Ilvermorn again, and try as I might I have yet to find my way back to its cavern. Perhaps it was fate, perhaps the creature knew I needed the chance to sing and a heart pounding adventure to remind me of who I was. Yet know this, should you hear a song in the mountains it is of the Ilvermorn, singing out and seeking one with the bravery, tenacity, and challenge to meet it in battle. Not all survive, and it is a crafty clever hunter, but impress it and you may yet walk away with a treasure you never knew you were seeking.”
I let the music fade off before gently packing up the violin and bow in their case. Bowing to a horde of applause and some coin being tossed to the bartender to pay my fees. I let the noise cascade over me, soaking in the warmth, the cheers, the calls. Though my eyes once again found their way past the Elder Tree and to the shadowy sentinels of the western mountain range. The hair I’d taken all those years ago hadn’t faded, not once. There was hardly any wear or tear to them even. Though I hadn’t yet tested them outside of Strynhalde. It was like a small part of me knew that if I did they would break, and I was far too bonded to it now to see them shatter in my paws.
“Ilvermorn wherever you are now, I hope you have a good hunt. Thank you for the challenge all those years ago my dear acquaintance.”