The World Beyond
She had not ventured to the outside the Realm on personal matters. Any other time was during battle or a scouting mission for Falcon or her father. For the clan, leaving the lands for a reason that did not benefit them was an unsaid betrayal. The only one who had the liberty to travel to and from the Realm was the Volva and her words proceeded even that of the Clan Head. Those were women who existed outside the laws of the clan, often were travelers, still, her Master was one of the few who were attached to their homes. Perhaps in a different life she could be born with such a fortune.
Avalon followed the route outlined on the map provided by Elene who was kept out of the rain. Fenrir was also inside the carriage, acting as a source of warmth for the expecting mother. The wolf was starting to act as a midwife, but his companion hoped such softness would not affect a future battle. Without words it was known there would be such conflicts, as wars among muggles and the sorcerers escalated they were beginning to spill over into each other. While many muggles were suspicious of the existence of sorcerers, others were skeptical--if it became widespread knowledge of the magical world’s existence the Great Balance would be thrown into disarray and it would take countless generations to even begin correcting it. That was an outcome Avalon knew they must avoid at all costs.
“Where is it you are leading us?” Avalon asked, glancing at the map to ensure accuracy of travel.
Elene spoke up, “There are herbs I require to help with child bearing, that I cannot obtain alone. Where we go is a market full of all sorts of magical folk, herbs, and items.”
Avalon looked at the map in more detail, observing whose lands this market beneath the mountain resided within. It was not a name she, an alchemist was familiar with, however the family name was known throughout the lands, particularly the youngest daughter whose medical prowess reached the ears of the highest lords. Even muggles seemed to be familiar with this ‘priestess’.
“Your father’s axe.” Elene mentioned carefully and waited for verbal permission to continue.
“Berserker.” Avalon named flat.
The witch then continued, “Falcon told me, your father traveled to a distant land before you were born and returned with that weapon.”
She was right--then she knows about as much of the Berserker as Avalon did. That axe, known as a soul-crusher; ‘crusher’ being an inaccurate statement, though far more malicious. The axe possessed the ability to cut a person’s soul from their body, while this would ordinarily have a person end as a soulless husk of a person, devoid of all senses and emotion, the axe cut a person’s soul from their body, serving the connection permanently, resulting in the death of both the soul and the victim.
Avalon did not know where such an accursed weapon came to be, or the true extent of its prowess, but she knew that was not a weapon she could match with anything she creates. Elene picked up on the intense subject and offered the secondary explanation of their travel to this Black Market--as muggles would name it.
“There are people there, people who possess many skills and talents, knowledge and powers--there may be one who can help you discover the axe’s origins. Perhaps the means to best it in combat.”
Elene awaited a response, but did not hope to expect one. Their relationship was estranged at best at this time. The witch felt Fenrir’s nose nuzzle her hand, a sign for his desire to be pet. She did so, rubbing his large head--a twist onto his back had her then scratch his belly that was met with much tail wagging.
Avalon had seen his comfort with the witch and smiled at how pleased the wolf was had having another person to give him attention. Though he was a beast bred for battle, he has always been a softy--the both of them have.
“Fenrir likes you.” Avalon said humored. “You are the second sorcerer he has ever allowed to pet him like that.”
Elene questioned how she was not the first. As she understood it, the Anexus do not look kindly to her people.
“Falcon was not the only one to befriend a sorcerer.” Avalon turned to see Elene, “I hold true to my belief of your people’s disruption of the Great Balance however, I do not believe all sorcerers are possessed by evil.”
Fenrir rolled back onto his stomach, then stood to poke his head from the carriage to have Avalon stroke his head also.
“Fenrir is a better judge of people than me. I have always trusted his instincts and they have never led me astray.” Avalon leaned over and kissed the Dire Wolf’s head and was returned with one in her face.
“Your friend, what was he like?” Elene asked curiously.
She had heard much from Falcon about his youngest sister, however even he was not aware of her activities with a wizard until his father confronted her. They certainly are siblings in that manner. Nonetheless, Avalon managed to escape without punishment, perhaps that’s was because she was smarter about it, or was more lucky.
“Bold and daring.” Avalon started fondly, “He always likes to duel and is very good at it.” After a pause she expressed, “But he accepts victory too quickly! He has been that way since we were kids--once he thinks he has won he loses focus easily!”
Elene noted the tense and questioned it.
“Oh yes! He is no doubt still alive!” Avalon’s demeanor was much brighter when speaking of her friend, different than her calm and controlled she had been since Falcon’s burial.
“This market...” Avalon’s improved temperament spilled off into her next question, how it did hardness in the seriousness of it, “What is there?”
Elene pondered for a moment, remembering the last time she had been to the market--it was just before she met Falcon.
“There are many things you as an alchemist will find appalling, but you must not draw attention to yourself.” She began
In this market all manner of magic is sold and bought, traded and bartered for. From magical plants to incantations, creatures and wares of odd design, this market has all of the hard to obtain items from the isles. They also had more luxurious items such as enchanted robes. Rare to be bought were spell books, seeing as many preferred to keep such secrets among themselves; quills, rolls of parchment and potion bottles could also be found. Any other, foreign goods were best found in London. There, goblins have made a name for themselves for acquiring these goods, normally working beside the famous wand shop known as Ollivanders. Widely known in the wizarding world, Avalon admits that even the clan had heard tales of the ancient shop, though for obvious reason none knew it locations, nonetheless given business.
Avalon was cautious about emerging herself in their world; the words of her ancestors echoed in her mind of the threat, the danger to her and the clan and above all, the blasphemy of her actions thus far towards traditions. There was no stopping her however, not after what she has done and what she will do--there is no turning back. The young alchemist tried to convince herself this was for the betterment of the clan, that her actions were more than the rebellion of a child against their father. She had to believe her choices were just and true, that if the clan did not change, if she did not change it then they would see the end of their days with the sacrifice of all their children for naught.
The carriage left the woods, entering flat plains that acted as a boarder between the lands, if Avalon had navigated correct there would be the River Dee to the left. Avalon had hoped they would come across a town or village, but none were noted on the map. Elene mentioned there once being a village, however she had not tried to find it in fear of discovery. Seeing as she has now visited the market more than once, she would apparate to and from, but with this being a continuous journey with company, the long way was their only choice. Elene also worried for Avalon’s safety--alchemists can not, as far as she understood, apparate and the effect on them is unknown.
Elene considered teaching this to Falcon, but they never had the appropriate time to make the effort. The woman’s fear was the unknown effect it would have on Avalon, as an alchemist, her body reacted and adapted to magic differently than a sorcerer. Avalon could be torn apart; leave pieces of herself across three valleys; she could deplete her entire magic storage and die; worse could happen or nothing would happen. Elene was not about to take that chance to teach her...companion...something whose risks far outweighed the chances of successes. To be frank, Elene was not at all certain she could even teach Avalon let alone teach her safely.
“What’s the matter?” Avalon asked glancing behind, “You have become quiet and I can feel something amiss.”
Elene shook her head, “I was considering the idea of attempting to teach you how to apparate.”
“Attempting?” Avalon repeated in question.
“Your brother and I were uncertain of how to go about teaching an alchemist, but we were never together long enough to attempt anything.” Elene explained, “I considered the years you and I would be spending together, however I cannot say for certain I could teach you and do it safety.”
Avalon declined any attempts if that was the case. She was in no position to give up her life, she had to live and doing anything excessively dangerous--not that engaging in open war was not dangerous--was out of the question. She did not want to undermine the sorcerer’s abilities, but she had made her own shortcomings openly aware--Avalon respected her more for that. It is never easy to admit one’s weakness, she of all, as a member of the Anexus Clan also possessed their pride in their abilities. Her father’s was legendary in that aspect of well, nonetheless when it came to strength in battle he was second to none--as a father, even a stick may do better.
The alchemist and the sorcerer remained quiet for a long time, not because they had nothing to discuss, but rather they desired not bringing attention by the spies of the land. Their journey took them weeks longer than ordinarily, having the need to avoid certain towns and lands controlled by muggle rebels and conflicting covens and factions of witches and wizards. However by the cloaking spells Elene was familiar with and used, the travelers never came into direct confrontation with anyone. It was easier this way because of their small size, Elene was not versed in anything larger or more powerful, a problem she hoped to remedy with their visit to the market.
Money would be of no issue, a benefit of having an alchemist, they could turn stone into gold or any raw gems and reserve the transmutation should suspicion arise. Many sorcerers often forgot this concept of alchemy, remember only the devastation and effectiveness in battle it possesses. Nonetheless, muggles seem to have heard these whispers of these makers of gold and with the magical world’s conflicts a secret from the open world, the rest of their acts had not and likely would not break thru.
Elene and Avalon arrived at the Cambrian Mountains, having switched the leader of the reigns to one most familiar with the path ahead. The location or road would be on no map held by any, the barrier over the market’s location concealed and misdirected any; revealing itself only to those who had true need of it and seemingly ‘moving’ anytime one would attempt to write it or draw its location for malicious use. It was an ancient and interesting spell to Avalon, one, explained to her, possessed, passed down, and known only by the ruling family of Wales, the Hufflepuffs. They were also the ones who founded this market, its founding originally being a place of healing and trade of herbs and spices, however evolving into the market it is today.
The cavern where the market resided, was said to be the home of an ancient dragon long gone. Those who discovered its location were the ancestors of the Hufflepuffs searching for a place of rest to treat a badger, injured by a fallen tree in a storm. That is how the legend goes, although Avalon knew of a mix of fact and fiction in her own clan she was interested to see if this cave had been the home of a dragon. Elene continued with the story of the market: the kindness of the Hufflepuffs towards treating the badger, a creature of the forest, had impressed the guardians of the forest and as a reward for this selfishness the forest vowed to protect the family and any other of good heart who passed thru.
Legend has it that none of foul intent may enter and those in true need are always given help by this place of deep magic.
Avalon could not help, but feel fascinated by the mystic of the market before she had even arrived. It was new, strange, and different than living the life of an alchemist, in constant resentment of the sorcerers who disrupt The Great Balance. This was to be a place of knowledge, never accessed by the Anexus before because of their ties to tradition and the forbidden act of befriending the ‘enemy’. Avalon kept her personal thoughts and those of a member of the Anexus separate, knowing they could not mingle peacefully. Should they try she knows well that she would become confused and possess doubt and hesitation, a weakness that would be deadly not for herself, but for those around her.