For those long-lived, time goes by in an instant. Decades seem like seconds and centuries are like minutes, but it is not a long-lived that is told about, rather those of fewer year--humans. Human beings have such short lives compared to many others and those lives are shortened still by outside sources beyond time, such as diseases, environments, injury; war. War carried with it the greatest amount of loss and hardly any gain; there is no such thing as a war without cost and unlike nature, war has no order, has no balance and is not something any, even an alchemist can find equilibrium in. An alchemist knows this best and the Anexus have long-battled with the hope that they could one-day end it. One more. They would often think, often believe, but with each battle that raged beyond the very first that hope was chipped away. Little by little that hope lost pieces of itself, with each new generation that massive hope lessened until only a single fragment remained within the Anexus. Some...were cursed of not having it and others...lost it along with path in life.
Witches and Wizards, especially those in the most ancient of covens, had this same hope within themselves and the same result was experienced. There were two children who wanted to change this cycle--two children from linage sworn to end the other who became unlikely friends. They were happy with their time together, away from the weight of their names, away from the burden of surviving in a world dictated by the law of adults. These two wanted to change the adult world, wanted to create a place where children like them would not be born into combat and subjected to die before they even had a chance to live. They thought things could be like this, they hoped it could, but that hope was cut out for one yet burned bright for the other.
Godric Gryffindor had earned a name for himself on the front lines, a true knight of great courage and boldness that charged at the head of every enemy force. The boy he once was had been replaced by a man, a tall, muscular man with a thick and tied-back mane of wavy red hair and a thin beard to match. He often bore the colors of his family, his red and gold an easy identifier of himself able to be seen from miles away. Some of his enemy were said to flee at the sight of him, but such was probably a legend.
"What a beautiful sight our home is, is it not!" Godric said loudly, leaning forward on his saddle as he and his command looked upon their lands.
The captain rolled his eyes sarcastically, "We've been gone nine months Godric. How is it every time we return you treat it as though we were here yesterday?"
"Because you do not." Godric laughed, "You are quite the pessimist Geralt, one of us must act as your balance. Come! Race you home!"
Godric was off in a full gallop and Geralt knew better than to ignore one of his challenges--it was better to participate than to listen to his endless whining about not.
"Three years and I still find it hard to believe you to lead us as well as you do when you play these games like a child." Geralt sighed, dismounting his horse and handing the reigns to the stable-boy.
Godric shrugged humored, "Keeps our adversaries on edge."
A woman marches down the ally, straight to the recently dismounted
"Speaking of adversaries--you are on your own." Geralt was gone with a loud pop, leaving Godric, who could not Apparate.
The wizard went off in a full-on sprint and was chanced by the seemingly enraged witch.
"You get your arse back here this instant!"
Godric cut between two buildings, jumped over a series of stacked barrels and just as he believe he had lost her and turn to see he stood in front of him with her arms crossed. She stuck her foot out and tripped him, having the great leader slid face-first into the mud.
"Serves you right."
Godric stood, attempting to clean the mud from his clothes:
"Do you mind?" He asked motioning for her to flick her wand and clear him of this filth.
Madison looked the man up and down and smirked, spinning around and flicking her hair in his face, "I think you could use a bath anyway."
Rolling his eyes Godric followed the witch as they walked back to the his house to clean off before the meeting this evening.
"Has there been any news?" Godric asked, when relieving his waist of his belt, attached with his sword and wand sheath.
Madison growled with dissatisfaction, but obedience, "About the Anexus or about the woman you fancy?"
She mouthed, the second more quietly as she looked at the same image drawn on numerous parchments.
"I do not fancy her--she is a dear friend." Godric removed his shirt, displaying numerous scars healed over the years across his well-developed physic.
"Well, I hope your dear friend retains the same feelings else we may have a problem." Madison sat on the table, on the parchments.
Godric replaced his shirt with a clean one, "What do you mean?"
The witch lifted her bum and pulled the out-of-date sketch on parchment to show the wizard, "Avalon Anexus has returned."
The cloaked woman guided her horse in thru the village will little difficulty. Nothing had changed, there were no new buildings, no new streets or statues, this place had remained the same. There were few guards in the village, seeing as it was unnecessary because none, but the Anexus knew of this place--sheltered by the forest no enemies would be able to find the village even if they were a bird to sore in the skies. The clan-members took notice of this stranger, this person who was Anexus and yet not one they recognized. It was not until they saw Fenrir that they made the connection of who this woman was.
"I would have thought my senses mistaken had I not seen you for myself." The Volva said when walking with a gathering crowd, "Welcome home--Avalon."
The alchemist removed her hood, displaying a smile as she set Fenrir loose to run around the village. The people came, swarming her and seeing closer just how big their rebellious little spit-fire had grown. Her redden hair was braided down her back, intertwined with other weavings from the front of her head. She was taller and broader now, her body climbing to its peak though was no stranger to endurance and hardships of combat. Her eyes were painted with a black stripe from one end of her temple to the other, another also touched her bottom lip to the bottom of her chin. On her back was a large, cased sword, whose blade and power was concealed within its specialized sheath.
Fenrir was no stranger to growth, now massing his size to nearly matching Avalon's shoulders when standing on all fours. He was stronger, able to take down a bear with little to no effort, would give chase to a horse for a decent amount of him and could track prey for miles under even the harshest of conditions. And yet...he rolls over to have his belly rubbed by the villagers with a wagging tail.
"I see everything is still standing even in my absence--"
Sid broke thru the crowd and rammed into Avalon, knocking them over into the dirt.
"I knew you would return! Volva, didn't I tell you!"
Avalon laughed, taking in her little brother's growth and his braided hair; with the addition of his new tattoo on his collar-bone. The wise-woman nodded amused, helping him off with laughter from the villagers. The returned stood herself, the presence of her new sword now drawing the people's attention to its unusual appearance and size.
"You must have many stories and adventures! You must tell them all!" Sid said, hugging his long-gone sister and now only remaining sibling.
"And she shall tonight, when we feast in celebration of her return." Said a thick and boomed voice on the steps of the Great Hall.
Avalon and the others became quiet, looking up to the Clan Chief who stood above them. Suddenly everyone remembered their relationship, remembered the last of their meeting and the cries of a sister as she held her executed elder brother. Without a word, Avalon moved thru the crowd to her horse and from his saddle, removed a large, sealed jug of sweet liquid and walked toward the chief. She stepped on his step, the other's held their breath as the daughter held the jug to her father.
"Forge Master Kloog sends his regards." She said with a smile, offering the goblin wine to Tali, then returning to the horse to retrieve another gift.
"Sid, come here." Avalon spoke when removing a long cloth--Sid drew from it a goblin-craft dagger, forged from dragon stone of the far west.
It was strange to be back in a house, seeing as she had gone many months living either in a cave, a wagon, or tent of some sort. It was strange to be in her own home now, a place once so lively and full of people now only housed three. It was big, too big for her liking, but one day it would be filled again--that she was certain.
Avalon set her bag on her bed, surprised at the lack of dust present there and in her room. She doubted Sid would attempt house-work, nor that her father would let him invest time in such an unnecessary task for a warrior. Volva was the only one she could think would maintain a kindness for this three-year period of absence. The young woman felt the wood of her bed, the table and bookshelf emptied, save for a couple books left from her childhood. She ran her de-gloved fingers on the carvings in the table in the next room, her past-time, when her father kept her and Sid in the house during thick blizzards of winter. Symbols of their clan, poorly-carved animals, parts of the alphabet Sid attempted to mimic.
"Goblin wine is indeed a fine drink." Tali said in the doorway, setting the jug on the table, "Yet I remember you never cared to drink."
Avalon smiled a little, turning to see her father and leaning against the table, "I still do not care much for mead. The wine is very good, I thought you would like it."
Tali said, "Master Kloog does know how to make more than just fine weapons."
"He had a good reason to practice." Avalon agreed.
Tali came closer, sitting down at the table, he leaned forward and folded his hands for his chin to rest on. Looking to the covered sword, resting against Avalon's bed he addressed its presence:
"I see he sent you with more than just his regards." His gaze traveled from it to Avalon's who remained quiet.
"One can only image to what ends you would seek with such a weapon. I know the purpose of mine, but the question remains: what is yours?" Tali commented.
"That depends--" Her eyes flashed gold to meet his shaded, "Entirely on you."
Avalon sat beside her father with Sid on his other. In truth she would rather him be beside her and to act as a buffer between the two, but choose not to cause a meaningless fuss. She was confidant in her younger brother's loyalty to her over their father any day. Now was not the time to think of such things, it was a time to celebrate, time to set into motion her plans to save the future of her kin and the future of the Great Balance.
She told of her battles in the north, fighting these 'Dark Wizards' that have become the focus of most covens these past few years. Traveling all thru the islands; meeting different Guardians, learning the ways of magical beasts and creatures of many walks of life; observing sorcerers and muggles in their own places growing to understand their motivations. She admitted...many had no greater calling beyond preserving their bloodlines, learning new spells, and surviving. Most of them hid from muggles, people less than sorcerers and alchemists, entirely cut off from magic altogether. Avalon battled beasts she had never seen before, fled from those she knew better than to meet head on--not to mention the accidental awakening of a sleeping dragon. She seemed to have a knack for that in particular.
"Are you going to stay now?" Sid asked with a mouth full of hog.
"Yes." His sister smiled, "I won't leave you again."
"I trust these wonderful tales come with the skills you speak of?" Tali asked sipping his drink.
Avalon poured another glass for herself, "They do and I intend to display them at our next battle."
Tali rose a brow, caught off guard by his daughter's unusual display of enthusiasm for combat. She would not dive back into their army however, not without a test to determine her travels had not dulled her other skills. The Volva volunteered to determine this, as Avalon's former instructor and mentor she felt she was the one who knew her capabilities best for the sake of the Clan. The woman was of no objection, asking when such a test would be conducted: tomorrow morning at mid-day.
All were eager to see this fight, to see the results of three years away from the village and the safety of the clan. The Volva was the great teacher, a wise-woman, and a great warrior in her own right; legend surrounds her of her great and vast prowess that she chooses to conceal for the safety of those around her. If Avalon's power is as she has claimed then the members of the clan may even get a glimpse of the Volva's true strength.
The occupants of the village traveled to the arena on the outside of the village. A very large pit, it was designed to minimize damage to the surrounding area, but also to act as a spectacle for the nearly seven-hundred and fifty clan members. Tournaments were hosted here every year, the winner would be presented with bragging rights and the respect of skill from their peers; every-so-often however, there would be a challenge to the clan chief as challenge to their rule and right, when confidence and faith in their ability to lead was in doubt. Tali had never been challenged, but his rise to chief was thru this challenge, one of his own aged father. Tali won of course and his father 'retired'. Avalon remembered little of him, he died when she was a baby.
"By the tree I pray three years was enough for you to learn your lesson from last time." Volva sighed, stretching and spinning her spear around to loosen.
It had been a while she had a challenge and hopefully her brightest pupil does not disappoint.
Avalon smiled, rotating a smaller sword in her hand as her mysterious one remained sheathed on her back.
The Volva smirked, "Afraid your new sword will hurt me?"
"Its not meant for you." Avalon answered simply.
The bell sounded and the two sped toward each other, colliding their weapons then breaking the connection when swinging and thrusting with a three-quarter seriousness.
People cheered for the Volva, others for Avalon, but either way one's would be on the side of an Anexus. The Volva wanted to take this opportunity to measure not only the young woman's worth, but also to feel her heart. Warriors are able to form a bond between another, even if it is an enemy there is a connection to feel the emotions of another. Feeling fear, feeling desperation; resolve and hope; loneliness and sadness, these were some things that would be felt on a battlefield, but in every single warrior was a single, same feeling: the desire to win.
Avalon and the Volva tuned out the nose from the crowd, heard nothing of them, only focusing on the movements and magic of the other. The Volva threw stone, transmutating them into sharpened shards as they collided with a wall Avalon erected to block them. She came around the wall, her spear thrusting to the younger, though redirected by the motion of her forearm.
A spear is great to keep distance from your opponent, the problem lies with close quarters and the strength of it at certain points. While the thrust of a spear is effective, all its power is gathered at its point and if one was to evade that point, such as diverting its path with an armored forearm, then the one wielding the spear would be left open. It is an effective strategy...against muggles.
Avalon felt the transmutated fist of rock hit her chest and throw her across the arena. To say it knocked the wind out of her would be a grave understatement. With a few coughs to clear her lungs and refill it with air, she was back on her feet and collecting herself in time to move to the left to evade the Volva's kick. For someone who is rather aged, the wise-woman is quite mobile. Avalon bent down and transmutated the ground, destroying the surface and then some. She took her sword and deflected the shooting stone, erecting another wall, but breaking thru it to snatch the Volva's spear. She missed.
The Volva kicked Avalon, but her gut had softened and took the blow so not to be thrown again. Avalon grabbed her foot and pulled it forward; Volva stabbed her spear into the ground to brace, but it collapse like crumbling leaves and had her on the ground. She transmutated the ground quickly, causing the earth under her to move her entire self away from Avalon's attack. The hand that missed the Volva met the ground and this allowed for the young alchemist to counter the transmutation; putting a wall behind the Volva for her to hit.
In the daze of hitting the wall, the Volva did not see Avalon until a shadow loomed over her. She launched spikes to the sky and they made impact--the lightning of transmutation sparked and an eruption sent a massive cloud of dust and dirt into the arena depths, thickening and making vision from above and within nearly impossible. The Volva was impressed with these tactics, most certainly her student had learned to observe her surroundings and use a creative understanding of alchemy to her advantage. Nonetheless--the Volva picked up her broken spear and saw how frayed its wood was at the snapping point--how Avalon figured out how to weaken the strength of the spear without changing its weight for the wise-woman to notice was astonishing.
The Volva withdrew a larger transmutation circle, skillfully drawn on parchment, form a case attached to her leg and looked at it. Dust is nothing more than tiny pieces of earth moving in the air, the problem lies not in transmutating it, but the fact it gives away her position. Avalon is aware of this as well and she is waiting for the Volva's next move because she is equally at risk and at a disadvantage.
The dust was gradually irritating her eyes, causing her to squint and rub them. Her field of sight was growing worse and worse by the minute and she may have no choice than to risk discovery--the ground moved up at her command, raising her above the contained cloud to have an oversight of the arena. The lightning of transmutation danced within the cloud, shifting masses within, but never exceeding the concealment.
For a time the Volva thought to watch, however she decided to act, when she saw the pattern of transmutation. She lowered herself slowly, but a shifting shadow had her extend the pillar left and run across it before the pillar was destroyed. The remaining stone crumbled, the Volva jumped, rolling as she landed brace the ten-foot impact; clearing the dust by collecting it as walls to her back, protecting her from Avalon's sword. The wall wrapped around and encased the attacker, imprisoning without escape.
"You have done well." Volva breathed, "A hundred more years and you may be able to beat me."
The stone prison was returned to its natural state, revealing the sword-wielding statue of Avalon sticking her tongue out and wearing a ridiculous expression. The Volva hesitated as a she stepped back to a hand on her shoulder.
"Do not accept victory so easily." Avalon smiled, the crowd erupting in cheers and shouts.
The Volva sighed defeated, however pleased with the outcome. It was about time someone surpassed her in a skill beyond brute strength. She turned to Avalon and grasped her hand, raising it to show her triumph and passing of this test. Tali's daughter would be a great asset on the battlefield, she would lead many victories, and perhaps one-day the clan itself. The fight's victory was followed by more celebration that day and throughout the night; the emergence of numerous bone fires, meats and drinks were passed around as people talked, danced and sang.
"Sing us a song!" cried an Anexus to his wife who spoke to Avalon.
At first she rolled her eyes, but Avalon touched her arm to go and went to join the Volva with an offering of shared meats and drink. The wise-woman sat on a log as Avalon stood beside her, listening to the singing she had long-missed.
Land of man and land of magic
Land of all good and evil
Over the mountain, across the sea
There is our home we long to see
"It has been a long time since I have seen everyone this happy." The Volva spoke to Avalon, taking in the fond sight, "After you left, Tali became more hel-bent on ending the sorcerers than I have seen in generations of Anexus. He took your absence harder than anyone and took it out on his enemies in ways I care not to describe."
Avalon sipped her drink, looking at it thickness and swirling it in her cup. She did not imagine her actions would cause such a reaction from her father. After Falcon she did not believe their father had any love for his children, that he was only Tali Anexus, Chief of the Anexus. The Volva has not once tried to justify Tali's actions or reactions toward his children, only those that concerned that safety of the clan. Though the bitterness remains, having grown older and wiser...in a sense she understands his position as Chief.
The Volva's eyes took in the fires their kin sat around and listened as the song was sung, "I trust you witnessed more than you revealed to the others?"
"I did." Avalon answered simply, "Some things I wish I had not."
The Volva looked to the slight reveal of the leather bracer on her arm. She contemplated to question its presence, feeling a hum of magic lying beneath its surface, subtly hidden unless one focused. Rather than bring it to light now, the wise-woman went a different route of conversation, but was interrupted by Avalon's next question.
"Have you heard of Dark Sorcerers?"
Volva nodded skeptically, "I have, but have never met one."
"I did." Avalon admitted point-blank, "He tried to kill me in fact, obviously that did not end well for him, but that I learned there are more like him--hundreds, perhaps thousands. And the sorcerers have been fighting them and us."
"Hard to imagine is it not?" Volva took a drink, "We the Anexus are one people, yet they had decided themselves between 'dark' and 'light'."
"Perhaps that is how they balance themselves...or perhaps we are fighting the wrong people--"
"Take care what you say! If your father hears you speak like that he may think you under their influence." The wise-woman cautioned quick.
Avalon rolled her eyes, "What will he do? Try to kill me too?"
"Do not give him any ideas."
Avalon chuckled taking a seat on the log Volva sat on. The people were singing on their own now, dancing and playing music to celebrate now for what maybe the last for many. The young Anexus held the mug between her fingers, tracing the edge with her thumb.
"Oric Gryffindor passed while you were gone." Volva relayed.
"I heard, the north was very fond of him. His son Salazar has been leading a campaign against the Dark Sorcerers there." Avalon shrugged, recalling the one time he met either men.
"His son now leads his coven." Volva led on, waiting for the younger to take another from her cup, "Godric Gryffindor."
Avalon choked and spit out the remainder of her wine.