Frightful and Fair, from Glen
Avalon felt conflict now more than ever. As Antares returned her to the battlefield she had been stolen from she asked once again of Avalon’s decision. When confirmation of that decision was heard again, a hope that it would have changed, but an expectation it would not the Dark Lord had nothing else to contribute to a pointless conversation.
“If...” Antares began, speaking to Avalon as though this would be the very last chance, “If you were not the chief of the Anexus, if you were free from your clan as a guardian, would you have considered my offer?”
Avalon looked deep into her senior’s eyes and kept quiet for a time. In the empty battlefield, where lives were lost, where philosophies collided she felt the scarred earth beneath her feet. It cried out in pain, but it was a pain that would heal because regardless of how or what magic, it was a force that could harm and heal. The alchemist knew her answer at her core, but also knew the contradiction that exists in her current mindset. She looked at the witch, at a woman who like herself desired peace and balance...of a different kind.
“I do not know. All I know is what I am in this moment.” Avalon clenched her fist, “In another life...another time perhaps we will find another again and perhaps the world will be different. In this one..all I can offer you is a painless death.”
Antares was saddened by this and she and Avalon both showed it. However it was not something either could have avoided in this world they live in, two different people, on two very different sides. Though peace is their common goal, how it would be achieved was not something that could be seen eye to eye. After this they would not hold hesitation in their hearts, they would not wavier at the sight of the other, after they departed from here there was no going back--the next time they meet would be to kill the other.
The witch extended her arm to Avalon, the younger took it, their hands firmly grasping the other’s forearm.
“I hope the day will come when we no longer owe anything to our people.” Antares said reluctantly releasing their shake.
Avalon smiled slightly, “If that day should come, I would like to have another conversation with you.”
As they released, the Dark Lord disappeared with a loud crack, leaving Avalon alone. This was why she hated war, hated fighting, it forced good people to do bad things to another. She wished, desperately, for this war to end quickly, for good people to no longer go to war. When a good person goes to war...they almost never return. Avalon clenched her fists, stiffening her body as she let out an angry shout to the skies. This war must end, no matter what it must end; no more loss, no more death, no more hatred and suffering--the peace she seeks, the stability and understanding between peoples, no matter what she will seize it and whatever price that must be paid...she will bare that burden.
Godric ran into Avalon, but it was Fenrir who knocked her and he off their feet. It had been three days since she had been captured and for anyone to capture Avalon Anexus, the worst could only be assumed. For the safety and security of those around her, Helga ensured there was no bewitchment, hexes, or curses laid upon her. She was unexpectedly untouched by foreign magic, perhaps because of Caliburn or because of the benevolence of the Dark Lord. She met the witch, the leader of the Dark Ones and the most powerful Dark Witch in all the lands--there was no way a single person could stand against this witch and her counsel; an army was between them to boot. This alliance, this union, was necessary and they had, but one more witch to recruit; an enchantress of incredible power and beauty, a woman said to possess a beauty that would charm the hearts of men and a power that would strike fear into them all at once.
Needless to say, Godric was very eager to go on this journey himself, a fine woman to challenge his skills against. Avalon and Helga glanced to each other, their hesitation in confirming Godric’s plan was unsettling.
“What? Think I will be bewitched by her beauty?” Godric crossed his arms wearing displeased expression.
Avalon rolled her eyes then returned them to the war table, “If you could be bewitched by a woman’s beauty Madison would not chase you as she does.”
“Hey!” The witch yelled, bursting into red at Avalon’s statement and revealing of a not-so-secret-secret.
Helga laughed tearing a piece of bread from her plate and taking it into her mouth, “She does have a point, Godric is far to thick--”
Madison turned to Helga, sighing at being picked on even by someone younger, “Not you to?”
Godric looked to the three woman in confusion, especially to his childhood friend who was even redder than his hair.
“Women are certainly not your specialty Godric.” Avalon teased from the table.
“Indeed.” The man stroked his beard, “You lot are a mystery, and a menace at once.”
They all laughed.
Avalon was the first to return to the topic at hand, “I will still have to fall on Madison’s side with this.” She gestured to the witch, “We know next to nothing what kind of person this Enchantress is. To include you are the leader of our forces, we cannot have you go off into the Glen without the certainty of your safe return.”
Godric often said that all three of them were the leaders of their alliance, not just he. It cannot be denied however, that Godric possessed a charisma that ignited the blaze within all their force’s hearts that had them charge forward. He certainly had a way with words and his actions went along with them well--though not much else was upstairs. Each had their shortcomings and faults, but there also existed a Beautiful Rivalry: this harmonious rivalry between two people where each possess the strength and weakness the other lacks...the only thing greater than that was Salazar and Godric’s connection to each other, one Avalon envied as she was never that way with any of her siblings.
Godric took the offered bread from Helga, “What do you suggest?”
Helga spoke first, “I cannot leave, I have a responsibility to care for my patients and any others who would be injured during battle.”
“Fenrir and I will go.” Avalon concluded, still adjusting the new information to move troops on her war table.
Madison and Godric interjected.
“It has already been done.” The alchemist took another rolled parchment from an Anexus scout, “Preparations have already been made and the Volva will lead the Anexus in my absence.”
“She consented to this?” Helga asked concerned, having spoken to the Volva herself numerous times as they exchanged techniques of healing.
“There is nothing to consent to--do not forget I am the Chief. My decisions are final and last I checked, no others possess an anti-magic sword.” Avalon said with slight irritation.
The other’s concerns of her changed demeanor since returning from her abduction are a cause of concern. This was not towards a fear of Avalon not being herself, but because of how swift she was in her decisions now. Before she would carefully decide over a time and consult numerous people, but now her decisions and orders were cut closer. Her friends worried not at her recklessness, but at the chance of her desiring to take responsibility alone. No one could be alone in this war, this would take all they had, all of them together to defeat this singular evil.
“Forgive me, I did not mean to snap at you.” Avalon paused from the table, lifting her eyes apologetically to Helga as she realized the tone of her voice.
“Avalon, you must remember that you and the Anexus are no longer alone in this fight. We are all here together, working towards a common goal thru the same means.” Godric said softly, “We are your friends and are here for you, you have no need to carry a burden alone.”
Avalon looked to the concerned faces of the witches and wizard in the room and exhaled slowly. He was right. She had been caught up in ending the war as quickly and effectively as possible she was going straight forward as though it was the Anexus against sorcerers again. Old habits die hard. It did not change her mind however, if this Enchantress was as powerful as the rumors say then she was also dangerous and could be both an ally or a threat. The people of the Glen were secluded from the rest of the islands’ problems and often desired this closed-door relationship and cared little of the outside world’s events. It was likely the Enchantress wanted nothing to do with this war and Avalon was more than reluctant in the decision to try to ally with her.
Going to the Glen was not just about alliances however, the Volva wanted her to go there on Anexus-related business. Long ago, the clan had a outpost in the northern lands, and an alliance with the Guardian of the forest there, a rather large one that housed all manner of magical beasts. It has been centuries since the Guardian has reached out to the Anexus, but the Volva recently received word there was trouble afoot. Regardless if Avalon could get this Enchantress to come to their aid, it was paramount she at least carried out a duty of an Anexus. If anything, that was the main reason that pushed Avalon to make the quick decision she had of going north alone--sorcerers will not be the ones to protect the balance, that duty and responsibility has been and always will be that of the Anexus.
“I still do not like you going alone.” Godric groaned, holding the sack of supplies that would feed Avalon should her travels to be longer than a couple weeks--winter was coming.
Avalon tossed her bed roll onto the rear of her horse.
“I will not be alone, I have Fenrir with me.”
The wolf wagged his tail, his ears perking up in response to his name, though his head remained on the ground. Avalon knows what Godric meant, but plays his worry down has being an over-protective mother. Going north just as winter’s grasp was closing in was intentional, a move suggested by Salazar (from his slithery familiar), to prompt whoever traveled to extend their stay. Most people understand the dangers of travel in the winter and are often compelled to help those stranded in an area. If this Enchantress and her coven reside in the valley information suggests, then the passage to and from will likely be closed after the first snow. If they are decent people, they will allow Avalon to remain until the spring: that will give her at least three months before the snow is able to be moved; of course that is if they do not first try to kill her.
One would think Avalon would have gotten used to people trying to kill her, she did not. That was no way to live.
“Avalon!” Elene came alone, to see her sister-in-law off, bearing a few items to make travel easier.
Enlargement Charmed sack, perfect for bring things along on her travel. Avalon peered inside and found her notes and books placed inside as well as ink bottles and quills, a decent amount of items focused around the research and development of a new alchemy. The alchemist did not know whether or not she would use all of this, but having books to break up the day was certainly appreciated.
Godric had seen this woman numerous times, but had yet to have a full conversation with her. Avalon and her knew one another well, for quite a long time, but the witch belonged to no coven he was familiar with. Obviously she was not of the Anexus, but Avalon treated her as family nonetheless a treatment he was most curious with. Avalon said little of their relationship save for having met her when they were younger and had traveled with her during her three years of wondering the lands. His friend’s vagueness only caused him to become more curious, but he never prodded--she had her reasons.
Mounting her horse, Fenrir took that as a sign to rise and was ready to depart as the horse took the first step. They were off, leaving Godric and the others to fight the war on their terms. It frightened Godric to see his friend leave again, the dread of something beyond his understanding and control was about to occur. Avalon had kept many things to herself, but they were almost all Anexus-related ordeals. Godric knew there were things about her clan he as an outsider, as a wizard, would never understand. Though they were allies and friends, Avalon continued to place the customs of the Anexus as the based of all her decisions. She was fighting to legitimate herself as their Chief, but also as an open-minded alchemist to be respected, trusted, and feared. There was feeling of something else on Avalon’s mind however, something that greatly disturbed her that surfaced briefly after her return from abduction.
It hurt Godric that she did not trust him with her worries, her doubts and fears, but still would not hold that against her. She held the fate of the Anexus in her hands in all this, if they did not emerge victorious then her clan would surely be lost and things would return or fall to worse than they had been before. No one wanted that...for different reasons. That was something he would have to confront her of upon her return, that was not something that could be put off, especially this deep in the war.
Avalon followed the directions to its boarders of her parchment and then went beyond. She was off the map now, walking unmarked lands where her only means of direction was the rise and fall of the sun and the stars of the night. The band rested, ate and slept in the middle of the day, creating shelter to hide from the unknown and returned it to its proper state to avoid a trail. She was not sure if she was being followed, but it never hurt to practice habits as those in wartime. Her cloak’s hood was almost always over her head, concealing her face from most angles. These were habits she hoped her nephews would never have to learn.
Traveling for nearly three weeks certainly wore everyone. Avalon pitied her horse at times and dismounted, allowing a lightening of the load if only for a few hours before she was on again. They had gone further than she had ever without the aid of a modern map. Their own scouts had not made it this far, without a supply line or a reason there was no need to go this far north. The only information Avalon possessed was an ancient star map given by the Volva. Their ancestors traveled this same rad, before the sorcerers occupied the land, rather it was likely they were pushed from it. This star map was particularly old though despite its age it showed no signs of it, a result of the care of Volvas of past.
The terrain gradually changed to rolling hills, eventually arriving at a tight and narrow entrance to a range of mountains. These mountains were not alone, with them was a thick haze of fog that obscured sight to a significant degree. Avalon, her horse and Fenrir waited outside the entrance far enough to scan the entire area. Something was amiss, this fog was conjured by magic, but there was a magic much older and larger than the ones used to cast this spell. Avalon dismounted her horse, careful to stand and not cause a disruption of the hum beneath. Fenrir felt the same and his senses were certainly sharper than hers, making the alchemist believe the gravity of this magic was even greater than she expected. Whatever was the source was likely what the Volva sent her here to investigate. She could not deny the twist in her stomach that came at the thought of entering that fog. Ambush. Trap. Danger. All of these were a possibility not far from fact.
Avalon rubbed Fenrir’s cautioned ears, “I know, I feel it too.” She adjusted her sword, taking the reigns of her horse, “You know you could always go home.”
Fenrir glared, growling in response as he went first. His human companion laughed with a shrug, “What did I say!”
Inside the fog, Avalon asked that Fenrir stay right beside her. This magic was thick and misleading, a single laps in judgement could mean their separation. The wolf was no more prone to stray from his companion’s side than she was from his. Their only saving grace was that Fenrir’s sense of smell had been by no means clouded, though their vision was none, this spell seemed to be designed to keep confuse humans rather than animals. Humans seemed to be the thing that was meant to be kept out, animals are meant to continue their natural order--Avalon thought perhaps they may have common interests after all.
Fenrir growled. Perhaps not. The fog cleared and the alchemist found wand tips pointed at her in every direction. These sorcerers were hooded, their cloaked a lightened color, almost reflecting that blended well with the fog. The fact Fenrir did not sense them until they were on top of them could only mean they knew a means to cover their scents. They were a reflection of their surroundings...an impressive one at that. Avalon kept her hands still and head low, but Fenrir was less than pleased to have the magic sticks in his face. Those who ambushed were no less happy about a massive, snarling dire wolf, licking its chops at them. They felt like pieces of meat, and Fenrir intended to make them his chew toy.
Avalon slowly motioned, “My friend does not like having wands pointed at him--”
“And we do not like having trespassers upon our land.” A wizard snapped, shoving his wand into Avalon’s leather breastplate.
She did not take being threatened well, no more than Fenrir who snapped his fangs to the wizard, making him jump as the wolf crept between the two humans. Fenrir was not protecting Avalon from the wizard, he was protecting the wizard from Avalon--today was not a day to try her patience and threatening the Chief of the Anexus was as close to death as one would walk in the realm of the living. The wolf knew best, the alchemist told herself as she thanked the beast for ensuring her composure.
“I did not come with ill intent I assure you.” Avalon said, slowly reaching for the rolled parchment kept such by an elegant ribbon and a wax seal with a sword and wand crossing.
She held the scroll out for the man’s taking, “I come, representing the alliance of the Great Houses of Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Slytherin and Anexus.”
Avalon was quite proud of herself for speaking in such an elegant and official manner. Not that the others who pointed their wands in her face cared, she did and in light of things a silver lining under a dark cloud was better than nothing. The sorcerers exchanged glances and Avalon could not tell whether it was in recognition of the names or confusion. It was possible this coven had no affiliation with anyone south of their boarders, even had yet to be effected by the war--that seemed unlikely now a-days. The wizard who the scroll was offered to took the parchment and looked to Avalon with suspicion.
The stranger lowered her hands to her side, “That letter is addressed to the Enchantress, as I understand it she is the leader of the your coven?”
The wizard looked to Avalon, lifting his wand to her hood:
“No one sees the Enchantress unless she wills it.” He said, putting his wand into her hood and raising it so he could see her face, “And if you think some letter is your ticket to meet her, you will end up as the last fool who thought and acted so.”
Avalon rose a brow. That was not a good sign, if Antares--no, if the Dark Lord--sent an envoy already then that could mean either this coven rejected and are on guard, accepted and Avalon is as good as dead, or it was something else entirely; that was unlikely. He did not know who she was...that was something she would play on, she would not reveal her true self nor would she lie if asked and he did not seem inclined to ask. The wizard pulled his want from her hood and stepped back a few paces. She was more respectful than the last and she certainly was no witch; a muggle would not survive the travel here alone, nor would have been able to pass thru their fog. This woman possessed magic of a different kind.
Avalon followed at wand point, her eyes covered, though she memorized the steps and direction. Even if that was not so, Fenrir was more than able to show her the way--the sorcerers did not take that into account. They walked for 11, 345 steps just over eight kilometers, thru rugged terrain, thick forests; Avalon was certain a herd of centaur passed. Strange that they did not attack, even towards the Anexus, centaurs were not the friendliest lot. The alchemist was impressed by this relationship of magical creature and sorcerers, a balance and harmony could be found here. A deep magic hummed within these lands resonating with nature--though without sight Avalon could dial in and focus on this natural magic. It was the purest...and oldest she has ever sensed.
“This Enchantress...is she a witch?” Avalon asked earnestly, she does not know much on the titles of sorcerers, even after all these years.
“She is.” One wizard answered, scolded by another he argued back of there being no harm in an honest question.
Avalon continued with her questions, “Might she have a name?”
“The Lady Rowena, Rowena Ravenclaw.” Another witch answered.
The group came to a halt, the blind fold removed as the sudden light temporarily obscured Avalon’s sight. Once her eyes adjusted, she was met with a wondrous sight, one that left her speechless. The glen was a beauty that was unparalleled to the southern lands, the mountains rested on the shoulders of the valley comfortably, a river, flowed as its center, pooling largely in a loch with exposed earth boarding its upper right side. Atop this exposure were extensive grounds with sloping lawns, leading into a thick and darkened forest Avalon assumed to be the one she needed to contact its Guardian. Across the loch was a large village, one that surrounded almost the entire left side to the entering and departing rivers.
Avalon had to be nudged to continue forward. The others commented on her freezing and attributed to the beauty of their home, a place protected from the outside world and allowed for nature and magic to flourish. The alchemist could not believe her ancestors abandoned such a land--did they abandon it...or did the sorcerers take this land from her people? The wisdom and thoughts of her ancestors came to her in this time, a time where she could not be led astray by eons long gone. Fenrir nuzzled her hand, sensing the distress she felt upon the notion of the past.
The sorcerers stopped at a large tower, one that was the centerpiece of the village. They instructed Avalon to keep still, to not try any anything else she will end up as the last fool.
“The only fool here is the next one who threatens me without reason.” Avalon growled, leaving the sorcerers with a concerned air about them.
The alchemist kept still, kneeling to Fenrir as she desired to keep himself calm as he did her. A time passed and the wizard who stuck his wand to Avalon’s chest returned, without possession of the scroll given to him. He was not at all pleased as another trailed behind him. Rowena Ravenclaw. She was all the stories had said of her, a woman of such presence her gaze could ensnare the hearts of even the strongest of men. Avalon was no man however, she could not be bewitched by this beautiful yet austere-looking myth and yet the alchemist was captured by her dark eyes. The gown she wore was one a deep blue and bronze, contemplating her appearance and her status well as it did not strike out as her being the direct 'master' of those around her. She was tall had long black hair and and when she spoke it was spoke in an accent of the north--what muggles called a Scottish accent:
“We do not welcome intruders upon our land.” This slightly intimidating woman ordered, "Remove your hood."
Avalon rose from her wolf, the other's wands at the ready. She did as instructed, her fiery and partly braided hair now able to flow freely in the wind without the need to be hidden away for fear of being known. The alchemist looked directly into the witch's eyes showing she desired to hide nothing and that she was unafraid an unaffected by her charm.
The Lady Rowena's expression was hardened with suspicion, "When an envoy is sent, it is common courtesy that a name is given. In times like these, a name can mean the difference between life and death."
Avalon smiled, knowing full-well this witch had threatened her in the most polite and official manner. She would not be belittled so easily:
"Indeed and had I been asked by your people I would have been more than happy to give it. The outside world is, after all, a dangerous place and revealing one's name of their own will can mean the difference between life and death."
Two can play at this game.
"My name is Avalon and this dashing young wolf is Fenrir. We come as envoys from an alliance of the Great Families of the islands. This alliance seeks to rid the world of the growing darkness, these Dark witches and wizards that has plagued our lands, snatched our families and brought devastation to the natural order." Avalon took a step forward though found the others did not approve and retreated to her original place.
"We of the glen have no need of allies." Rowena said, signaling the end of this conversation.
The other sorcerers closed in on Avalon and Fenrir, "We will live as we always have and it will be away from the deluded corruption of the outside world."
"But you have yet to allow me to finish." Avalon was unmoved and she had grabbed the attention of the Enchantress if not slightly, "The Guardian of the forest has asked the Anexus clan for help--"
"There is nothing for an outsider to help with." Rowena snapped, "We nor the forest are in a danger that we cannot solve ourselves."
"Are you sure?"
Avalon gripped Caliburn, she jumped the fountain and soured above, deflecting the burst of fire that came from a Welsh Green. Dragons...perfect that is what she wanted to manage--not. The fire ball was sent off in another direction, dissipating as it lost its strength to the sword. The sorcerers scattered, the ordinary hid within their homes, casting whatever shields they could while the more experienced launched volleys of spells at the fast moving and now grouping horde. Avalon counted at least three dragons, but only two were Welsh Greens and the other moved far to fast to see. Dragons was not what she was expecting, nor a breed that were not native to this region.
Rowena flicked her wand effortlessly, casting a shield and offensive spells, "Stupefy!"
Avalon was sheltered by another spell, but she knew her presence with a drawn Caliburn would only weaken its effect.
"Are you mad!" Yelled a wizard, "Lady Rowena is protecting you! Get back--"
"The longer I stay the weaker her spell will become." Avalon stepped outside the barrier, clapping her hands together she placed them on the ground and send herself into the sky.
A higher point allows her to see these dragons and also for them to focus on her rather than the village. It seemed like a good idea at the time...until she realized she really did not like heights. The dragons took the bait, seeing what would otherwise be considered an easy meal they tried to roast Avalon, but Caliburn deflected and nullified the magic rendering the attacks useless.
Dragons were highly intelligent creatures capable of amazing things especially hurting a group hunt, but this was not the case. Avalon felt something amiss within them, their stress and lack of coordination was having them argue and fighting among themselves. Realizing there would be no prey from the human the two Welsh Greens swooped down and each made off with a cow, the other, faster, unrecognized dragon kept in air. It looked at Avalon, clearly not happy about its defeat--it roared at her, coming closer with each flap. If fire would not kill this human, perhaps a fall from this height would--Avalon readied her sword. The dragon became distracted by something beyond, reluctantly it left, but the alchemist was certain it would seek her out next time.
Avalon lowered the stone pillar and returned the paved road to as it had been before her interference. As she landed, she once again found wands pointed at her, such seemed northern hospitality. She was far too tired to care at this point and was certain her intention had been made. The people yelled and shouted at the stranger's interference, now she has angered the dragons and rather than once or twice a month for cattle they will return for revenge! Avalon laughed, stepping down from the steps to the tower the Enchantress originated from.
"You people clearly do not know dragons."
Rowena came in front of the crowd, "These dragons are not like those where you come from."
Avalon sighed, placing Caliburn back in its sheath. No 'thank you for saving us from becoming dragon roast' was going to be found here. The alchemist agreed: they did not behave as dragons should and it is never seen that more than one breed interact with each other unless they were mistakenly raised in the same nest. This was likely the chaos the forest's Guardian reached out about and also something that was rather recent. She sensed no dark magic was the cause meaning that a balance had been disrupted, or something else had awakened. Either way, Avalon did not believe this coven to be the direct cause.
"And such is why I have come." Fenrir stood in front of Avalon, cautioned with wands still pointing at the two.
Rowena narrowed her vision, inspecting the source of this power, this magic that twisted and turned the form of one into another. There was no wand, no stone, no incantations, it was unusual; alchemy was not something she had ever seen before, though she held knowledge of its existence. Though they were a secluded people, they were not ignorant and set out their own to gather information of the outside so not to fall prey to a way of life that others see as foreign and ancient. Nonetheless the ways of the Anexus, their source of power, their abilities were not something seen before. As they fought the sorcerers the scholars of this northern coven always happen to be in the opposite direction.
"That magic you used--was unnatural!" Called a wizard, who dropped to his knees as Avalon shot him a glare that sent ice coursing thru him.
"Mind your tongue." Avalon's sudden shift in temperament put fear into all, but the Enchantress, "Alchemy is older than magic and you would be wise to respect your elders."
The Enchantress orders the others to lower their wands and to see to the well-being of the villagers. Fenrir relaxes some, but he shows no sign of letting up his guard even as Rowena approaches. She was of no threat to him nor Avalon and he knew this, but still the others were of no decent place in the wolf's mind. They were hiding something, he could sense it and the hum of deep magic within the earth was an unsettling feeling he knew his companion felt. The witch came closer, but Fenrir kept between the two women until Rowena softened her stoned face and slowly knelt, offering the back of her hand to the wolf to be sniffed. Satisfied of no impeding threat, Fenrir stepped aside.
"Quite the protector you have." The witch commented, eyeing the sword that peeked her interest. She wondered what had disrupted her spell earlier.
Avalon rubbed the back of the wolf's ear, "He has always been by my side, I trust his judgement more than mine."
"Animals are known to sense a person's true nature better than humans." Rowena looked to the wolf who scuffed at her. Of course I do.
"One of your Dark Witches came before you and spoke to me in a rather...disrespectful tone demanding I join their cause else be deemed an enemy. You must understand our suspicion and unnerve around strangers in light of that." Rowena said as she returned her gaze to Avalon.
"May I ask what your answer to her was? It will likely determine if I walk out of here alive."
The Enchantress chuckled walking away from Avalon, motioning her to follow, "If I wanted you dead, the guard would have executed you the moment you were spotted on the hill."