Waking the Deep Magic
"You have lost your mind." Lady Rowena forcefully put her hand to the table, "I will not allow it."
Avalon put her own hands on the table and leaned forward, "It is not your decision to make."
Sparks flew between the two as Avalon was indeed a visitor to the village, she also had an inherited right to be within the forest. The coven was respectful of inherited right and custom, however there was conflict in the safety of their village and people to consider. Avalon was originally thought lost to the forest and assumed dead, but after three days she returned with winter's locking storm. Now she would remain for the duration of winter, but whether it would be in the village or not was unknown as the Anexus and Ravenclaw did not find ease in the other's company.
"It is as you reside in our village and our lands! Your carelessness in your actions will affect those around you!" The Enchantress growled, "Dragons are wild beasts outside of your domain, Anexus or not! Disturbing their nest will bring death and destruction to us and I will do what is necessary to protect my people!"
The alchemist glared at the witch who proved to be the most stubborn woman Avalon had ever met. That was saying a lot coming from one of the Anexus Clan. The witch remained unfazed by Avalon's words, threat or not, and gave her own should Avalon's actions affect them. From the alchemist's point of view the village was already being affected by the dragons and it was only a matter of time before things escalated. Besides, there was also a chance Avalon could pass thru the nest undetected she was only going to research, not steal bloody egg.
Avalon's own pride finally broke thru, "I am Avalon Anexus, Chief of the Anexus Clan and I will not be commanded by another coven's leader in matters not of her business!"
Fenrir's ears and head dropped at her sudden outburst and he cautiously followed as she stormed from the tower to the main square. Avalon had not lost her temper since cradling Falcon's body on that rainy day. She did not understand why she could not tolerate Rowena Ravenclaw, why her cold demeanor and tone caused such anger that even Antares did not rise from the chief. She briskly walked down the village street, leaving its limits and heading toward the Black Lake, not stopping even at the beach. Avalon clapped her hands together, transmutating the calm waters into an ice bridge that stretched to the cliffs of the other side of the loch without slowing her pace. Fenrir hated ice and paced the shoreline as Finlay ran to catch up.
Casting a spell to keep his footing he raced across the ice.
"Lady Anexus!" He called out, his voice not reaching her deaf ears.
That witch had no idea what the stakes were, what was brewing outside her precious boarders. This war, the Great Balance; every person would be effected by it and no manner of hiding behind a magical fog could keep their way of life the same forever. All things come to an end, everything that lives, that is created will not withstand the change of time. Not this world, not the Anexus, not this scholarly coven; for all their intelligence, their talk of wit and learning--they were stupid to the affairs of the world. They were stubborn in their ways--fixed in their lifestyle and--
Avalon stopped in the center of the lake, her attention caught by Finlay.
"Do not call me that." The older growled, "I am no noble-woman, I am a warrior, a battle-born alchemist of the Anexus Clan!"
Finlay hesitated, holding his hands up as he kept a safe distance as the angered woman. He knew better than to test the patience of a woman, especially an angry one, nonetheless an alchemist. Avalon's breathing slowed as she realized who she was yelling at and her expression turned apologetic at the outburst towards Finlay who did not deserve such treatment. She calmed herself after a few moments, allowing Finlay the freedom to either approach or flee. Either way he was justified.
"I meant no offense--"
"No, I apologize. I should not have yelled at you--it is not you who I am angry with." Avalon rose her hand.
"With Lady Rowena?" He asked the question to the obvious answer.
Avalon's face was enough to answer.
"If we could--" Finlay looked nervously to the pitch-black waters, "Continue this on land?"
They returned to the shore, to a Fenrir who was more than happy for his friend to be on again. He did not like ice and he did not like whatever was beneath the surface. Avalon returned the lake to its proper state and found a soft place to sit as she and Finlay spoke. He acted more as the friendly voice of reason Ravenclaw seemed to lack in her choices and argument.
"How infuriating." Avalon huffed resting her chin on her hand when gazing out to the waters, "Stupid, stubborn, arrogant, wrench. If I had a knut for every time--"
Avalon was not amused, "What?"
"Lady Rowena said the same about you, not in front of anyone of course." Finlay nervously laughed, "I heard her talking to herself in the tower after you stormed out."
"Oh?" Avalon sighed as Fenrir pounced, knocking the young man over onto his stomach, "I doubt that is all she says about me."
"Probably not, but she has her reasons." Fenrir began to play, an action Finlay was happy to indulge, "You just do not know them."
"Enlighten me then." Avalon said sarcastically, "I would love to hear this."
Lady Rowena Ravenclaw married into the Ravenclaw family years ago to the previous Lord. He unfortunately passed from an affliction that plagued him since his youth, leaving the lady and their daughter behind. Avalon was surprised to know the lady was a mother, mothers normally keep with their young children and are more...affectionate. With Lord Ravenclaw's death, the responsibilities of the village of Hogsmeade and family passed onto his wife and with her intellect and wisdom she has led well. Her daughter is cared for of course, but the business of being the leader of the coven keeps the two apart often. The daughter, Helena was a very learned young girl who often chased after her mother, though her mother, whenever time permitted told her to go play.
Avalon's thoughts went to her own mother, but...for some reason when she thought of her mother only the Volva came to her mind's eye. That could hardly be thought as strange, she was the woman who raised Avalon and Sid through practically all their childhood. The alchemist looked to the village, than to the mountains beyond. Finlay continued his story:
The Enchantress since asked to not be called 'Lady Ravenclaw', but rather 'Lady Rowena'. It is thought that she desired to be acknowledged in her skills as a witch rather than the family she married into. Avalon found that pride most understandable, as she understood in the wizarding world the family one comes from is often a measure of what that sorcerer is worth. The practice of preserving the pure magical bloodlines is one meant to keep magic and its secrets among the trusted. The Anexus approved of this practice, more for ensuring the spread of sorcerers did not occur, that their numbers remain limited and controlled. Especially in the world they live in where muggles were indeed becoming, if only incredibly slowly, a threat.
All the Enchantress Lady Rowena Ravenclaw does is for the safety of her coven and for the advancement of knowledge. She often says that knowledge is what lights the darkness of the world, it allows for mankind to advance and to hold no fear of the unknown. Fear of the unknown is the obstacle of civilization and enlightenment and must be overcome. Those words Avalon thought as hypocritical of the Enchantress to say in light of recent events however, as a leader she did understand the stress and importance of their roles.
The alchemist stood up and stretched, "Your Enchantress will do what is best for your coven and I respect that, but I have my own duties to fulfill."
She waved the Finlay, her wolf retreating from him and going to her. She walked down the beach towards the mountains, saying that she would do her best to ensure her actions did not provoke any trouble for the village. This was an Anexus affair and nothing would get in the way of it be it beast or man. Finlay would have liked to come with her, but he was forbidden from aiding his escort and instructed to inform the Enchantress of anything amiss. Though not understanding of the duty of the Anexus or of what the Great Balance was, Finlay said he would grant Avalon at least an hour head start before informing the Lady.
Avalon and Fenrir were well beyond the limits of the village and the lake before people were told to seek her out. By that time Avalon was miles away, deep in the grip of the Dark Forest. The forest did not welcome her, but it did not reject her either, a strange feeling; perhaps the effect of being without a Guardian. Without the Guardian the forest had no will of its own, it simply existed and could not protect itself. There was record of this happening to the east in the greater lands of Greece, Rome; where people had torn down the forest and risen cities in its place. It was said that a mighty cry let out as the final tree was cut down and the Guardian died with it. This was not of course proven as true, seeing that the Anexus have not left their homeland since the time of Yggdrasil. Stories connected to truth often create myth and legend.
The forest was very much alive and the coven had done well to take only was was needed and returned when they were finished. They were very similar to the Anexus in this regard and Avalon felt these sorcerers could teach others their ways. The Anexus would have likely done trial and error in this, seeing that the way of life of the Anexus and sorcerers were rather different ordinarily. That was a topic of another time--the Enchantress knew of Avalon's connection to the alliance and of the contents of the letter, but she had not openly asked if the Ravenclaw family and their coven would join. She was somewhat...distracted by other affairs, besides, the Enchantress did not trust Avalon the slightest.
After a time Avalon and Fenrir stopped to observe their surroundings: it was strangely quiet; no birds, no deer, not even a squirrel. They had to be close now, the trees were thinning and becoming more spread apart, the floor was gradually rising in incline, yet there was no sound. The dragons were seen to come and retreat in this area and the villagers reported more than the three that attacked on her first day were gathered. There was no sound, not of a roar or a flapping of wind and the Welsh Green was not one to hibernate in winter.
Looking to the trees, Avalon, climbed, reaching the top to see the land around. Though she did not care much for heights, this was within her tolerance. The mountain towered above, reaching above the clouds which made Avalon's gut drop with the first sound reaching her. It was faint, a ways away, but unmistakably belonging to a dragon and undoubtedly up. This was not something she wanted to do...but it was a necessary evil. She dropped down to the ground and walked with Fenrir to the mountain's edge before stopping again. She hates heights.
The two went the only way they could now: up. The slope was steep, but manageable, though Avalon made the mistake of looking back and realizing how high she had gone. Night was near--good, dragons native to the isles could not see in the dark and slept during that time. As Avalon was familiar with concealing her scent this was also of no issue and so long as she did not draw attention and remained unseen there was little risk. She repeated the words of the past: never wake a sleeping dragon. The climb was finished as night finally drew in, but Avalon had to wait to ensure her sight adjusted. Once false move and she could step on something she should not.
Experience told her that a mass nest was likely in a clearing towards the top or in a nearby cave, but her instinct said for her to stop. Listen. Avalon bit the finger of her glove and pulled, removing the rest to leave her hand bare. She placed it against the aged and weathered stone, cold to the touch, the Anexus shut her eyes and listened.
The wind sung between her limbs, sneaking under her clothes; the snow danced across her cheeks, collecting in her fiery locks; the stone hummed, hugging her hand as nature's magic began to glow and seep into her body. It was warm, welcoming--Avalon's mind was pulled into the mountain, into the tiniest cracks, thru hardened earth, she went until slowing and arriving in a massive cave. Illuminated by glowing blue light in fissures of the walls; this cave made it seem the mountain's core was mainly hollow. Such a formation was possibly not natural.
Avalon floated there for a moment, hearing a voice call out--the Guardian? No...these words were older, ancient and not a tongue used by the Guardians, but by creatures of great age. The alchemist looked below, into the pit of moving darkness and realized it was not darkness. Below was a creature whose narrowed, bluish-white eyes were open and staring...at Avalon. The alchemist's heartbeat raced in fear, as the creature moved, opening its massive rows of teeth; Avalon thought she was about to be eaten, but the strangest thing happened: the creature stopped, was stopped, as Avalon was pulled back thru the mountain into her body. Fenrir's fangs had sank into her thigh, bring her back from the mountain's hold. The dire wolf removed them when Avalon reacted, falling back on her butt in sheer panic. A roar above drew their attention--Avalon quickly transmutated a concealment as a small group of dragons glided to her ledge.
A loud thump had her and Fenrir straighten. The pain in her leg, the fear of what she saw, danger just outside a thin layer of stone--Avalon knew she had to calm her heartbeat, that the dragons could detect it, but it was not possible now. She could only hope, pray to the Great Tree, that they would leave this unharmed. She wrapped her leg, tight to reduce the slow blood flow to a stop. A time passed...the dragon's growl lessened and the sound of claw marks to the stone had her more relieved, but not entirely. She waited a great amount of time before even considering leaving the concealment because dragons were intelligent and patient hunters. Fenrir's ears were down, but it was difficult to determine if this was a sign that the threat was near or not. What was she to do?
Avalon returned the stone to its natural place and found herself in front of a very sharp mouth of teeth. A black and cow-sized dragon walked from the wall and came closer to the alchemist. It had a long, narrow head, emerald eyes with two horns that came from the back of its head, angled to the sides then went forwards as spikes on its back lined from its neck to its tail. Fenrir tried to front, but he too was fearful of the creature, clearly more powerful than the dire wolf. The dragon backed the two towards the cliff's edge, likely seeing an easy way to kill prey. It growled, its wings bat-like, curled closed against his back. The alchemist's foot touched the air of the edge and she stopped, not daring to look back, nonetheless down. If the dragon pounced would she be able to move fast enough to have it miss? Would she be quick enough to transmute something to create a barrier? Not likely, her leg slowed her down, the dragon's strength would easily destroy a quick barrier.
Avalon knelt down slowly, looking harder at the dragon. It was not one of the isles and was the same that desired to take a bite out of her days ago. She had to think things carefully, one false step and she was dead. Move too slow and she was dead. React mistakenly and she was dead. Listening had taken much energy from her; the fatigue of walking and climbing a great deal combined with the cold made this a less than ideal situation. Dragons were intelligent, patient hunters, and some were very, very territorial. For a split-second Avalon thought maybe this had been a bad idea.
"You are a long way from home." Avalon said carefully, "We both are."
It is not known whether dragons understand humans or not. Those foolish enough to prove or disprove they can has never come back alive. Avalon often took an animal or beast's understanding to be in their senses of her. She kept herself small, not wanting to present herself as the aggressor, but also placed her hands together to transmutate the means down. The dragon came closer as her and Fenrir slipped onto the extended ledge. Without delay the section dropped and the dragon watched the two depart before returning up the mountain.
They rode a slab of rock down all the way to the forest and dismounted taking off into the wood. With the wound to her leg however--though Fenrir had no choice as Avalon was unresponsive with lighter bites--she had to limp. The beginning pace did not last as her adrenaline dropped and she slowed considerably. Her stamina fell as she did, losing her footing to a branch she found she did not possess the strength to stand again. What she saw...she could not be sure...she could not be sure what happened to her. A Guardian is known to reveal visions, but they were vivid, incomplete, though the message was understood nonetheless. This was clear, precise and with purpose--to make Avalon see.
Fenrir barked, pulling on Avalon's shirt to get her attention, but it was no use--she was too tired. He bit into her arm, but she shook her head when leaning against a tree. She could not continue now, rest was all she could do--it was not an option, another storm began sending its winter down on her and the travel back would be even more difficult the longer they waited. The wolf pulled on Avalon's coat, refusing to give up.
"Alright...alright...find me a stick to walk on."
Fenrir narrowed his eyes.
Avalon rolled her eyes, "Do not give me that, you are the one who bit my leg."
The wolf returned shortly after with a large branch, more than a stick, but it would do. Avalon transmutated it into a crutch then turned attention to her leg. It had stopped bleeding since the wolf have bitten clean rather than tear and because it was the meaty part of her leg it hurt more than it had actual injury. She stood after packing snow and re-wrapping her leg.
"I can say, I am glad you did not go for my ass." She patted the wolf's head and made off.
They returned to the village by dawn, faced with a tired and worried Finlay and an overly loud Enchantress. Avalon knew she was being yelled at, but she did not care for it fell on depth years. She was tired, weak, sore and unable to stand anymore--falling over into the snow the alchemist fell soundly asleep.
Avalon was taken by the elder and brought into the center of the people. They smiled, each placing their hands on the waking, then onto each other, connecting all together. She felt the beat as though it was her own heart, her body pulsating with life with each rhythm. The tree towered over them, knowing that the sound's source was it Avalon was captured by its beauty. The people lowered their grip, a child came between them, taking the waking's hand this young girl guided her to the Great Tree and there it opened itself, revealing a series of stairs.
They raced up those stairs, but Avalon slowed when something caught her eye. Below those dressed in white were met with others, dressed in darker clothes; the waking stopped entirely, but the girl continued to pull. The tree shuttered, the girl grew frantic as she tried to pull Avalon upward, but still the waking did not move. There was something wrong, the elder grew concerned, visibly yelling and pointing away from the dark-colored strangers. What he was saying was unknown though, Avalon felt she should go back, should intervene and help, but the girl's grip and pull had her return attention. The tree shuttered and moved, Avalon now ran to follow the girl for what seemed an eternity of running until they came to stand on one of the large branches in the canopy.
Avalon looked below, to seeing smoke and fire as familiar sounds entered her ears--the sound of battle. Those sounds not of human nature also called forth, not only from below, but above into the skies. These were the roars and howls of beasts of old she somehow knew, creatures long forgotten in myth and legend of even the Anexus and yet she knew of what they sounds were created by. Still she followed the girl, knowing there was a purpose here, knowing there was nothing to do below, but here was where she was meant to be. The girl ran to the tree's center, Avalon quickly behind as another large group circled a massive flower. In the center one held a bowl of thicken liquid from the flower's center, then the next and the next and all consumed it, imbued with the power of the Yggdrasil. The tree's green changed to reds and golds, brown and then black, falling to the ground below.
The girl went forward, taking a mouthful of the liquid into herself. Avalon stumbled back, trying to make sense of what exactly she was witnessing. Was this history? Was this a dream? Was this someone's story; reaching thru time for a reason? She did not know, but what she did know was that this was Yggdrasil, the blood of the tree was being consumed and the people before her, bore the crest of the Anexus.