Enemies of Time
Time passed like this: Godric and Avalon met one another throughout the week, but never allowed for a pattern to form. Always secret, always safe, protecting the other from their parent’s wrath. There were numerous times where the other did not appear, but Godric and Avalon used a clever means of communication: a hollowed out tree only able to be found by those who were not looking for it, but needed to find it. There they left the next time to meet decided by whomever arrived first.
During this time however war grew more violent by the day and tension between the warring parties escalated their means of torture and death. Godric’s elder brother, Salazar, headed north, returning to the place of his birth with a handful of followers from time to time. Godric was certain that one of those times his brother would not return or that his brother would return, but as a different person. Their father worked diligently to train Godric to fight. Particularly the art of dueling. This worked well to settle things on equal ground both against muggles and witches or wizards. Survival would be determined by the skill of a blade, not the trickery of spells, then again Godric was growing to be an honorable young lad, who understood others did not share the same trait.
One night Godric gained the courage to seclude his father from his elder brother and asked a question he desperately desired to know, “Father, have you ever spoken to an enemy? Not on the battlefield, but over an ale?”
His father paused and pondered over the question before answering, “Indeed I had, long ago when your grandfather led this village.”
“What were they like?” Godric asked eagerly.
“At first they seemed as you and I were...but I was a fool and had been deceived. Dark magic is a powerful and dangerous force not to be trifled with.”
Godric’s interest peaked, the person his father referred to was a witch and not an alchemist so perhaps his father...
“Are there other people who can use magic? Not a witch or wizard, but also not a muggle?” Godric tried his best to sound quizzical and not knowledgeable.
Oric’s tone and gaze became darker when beginning, “Yes.” He sounded with a bitter hate, “They are a hardly be considered ‘people’, those who twist the nature of magic to suit their own desires: Druids; Demons; they have been called many things, but they are known commonly as alchemists.”
Godric was guided to his father’s side, to gaze into the waters resting below their family crest and see the vision Oric placed from his mind into the Pensieve. His youngest son dove his head and opened his eyes to standing at a peak between two advancing armies. This was a battle between the Hollow of Moor and an unknown army bearing a tri-spiraled crest on their backs. Godric felt a small sense of relief in seeing all these people had worn the crest and his friend had not. A small, ignorant hope.
The battle went on, people killed one another; the ground beneath them uprooted by the enemy. It was a bloodbath, one that made Godric sick to his stomach--this was war. These demons with sinister yellow eyes stood as shadows, their magic uprooted the very earth all stood on and twisted nature into horrid creatures and forms that terrified Godric. These twisted creatures of darkness slaughtered people without discretion.
From a witch and wizard’s perspective these people were heretics, mutilating the nature of things and twisting them into something beneath their natural state. These people forced magic to bend to meet their own ends. It is easy to classify them as an enemy of witches and wizards for that reason alone, but that is not why those of Moor and of this clan of alchemists are hateful adversaries. They took no prisoners, killed defenseless women and children--it is their philosophy that anyone that has the potential to lift a sword against them was a threat to be killed. This type of preemptive strike has been long-favored and those the original reason for their conflict has been lost to the times, considering they are a tradition-driven lot its an accurate assumption that this barbarism caused them to be enemies.
Magical blood splattered on Godric’s face; the back swing of a Tali Anexus’s axe when slaying a wizard. He was in a frenzy, soaking in the carnage as though he had been born into it. Oric crossed blades with him; both in their prime of age, before Godric had been born they had yet to become leaders.
Godric watched the years go by as this; listening to the explanation his father’s memories gave: they are an ancient clan, as old as their own family. As to their origins, none can say outside of myth and legend. They only cared for their war against the sorcerers, dragging each generation after the next into this ancient feud. They raided villages; whole covens wiped out in a single night--he saw the fires rise, the earth itself burning the night sky. Alchemists on top of a mountain of corpses--Bloodborns some of them were called, those whose blood flowed strong with demonic power capable of destroying everyone, including each other.
There is no single alchemist they do not seclude themselves as sorcerous’ often do, they all originate from a single clan: the Anexus.
Godric pulled free from the Pensieve, hitting the ground with a *thump*. Oric stood beside the Pensieve, gazing into the waters himself before looking at his second born. Salazar was much younger when he learned of his born enemy, but nonetheless held resentment towards them and any other non-Pureblood since his mother’s death. Perhaps that was his mistake, but he would not allow the same mistakes with Godric.
“You must never turn your back to them my son. An Anexus will ‘always’ try to kill you the moment they learn you to be a threat.” Oric helped his son up and kneeled down to his level, “We can never live peacefully with them, remember that.”
Avalon hit the ground, thrown by her master who held little interest in restraint against her.
“Again!” She demanded, “Do you believe your enemy will be merciful to you because you are a child!”
The girl sat up slowly, feeling the pain from her impact on her back and arm. An ordinary day of training. Her fingers clenched the dirt between them, tuning out the criticisms of her master. She is a veteran of war, though she appears younger than father, she acts as the senior-most Volva. More to be exact, she is the only living one left. A wise woman, healer, and priestess, she was additionally a skilled warrior who retired some years ago to pursue village affairs away from the battlefield. Not a single person has criticized her for this, to be a Volva is an honor above others. Her early retirement was also do to injuries in the war--the right of her face, normally concealed by her silver and red hair was scarred from a rouge spell that ‘spelled-off’ her eye and much of the flesh on the right.
The spear came down, Avalon swung her fisted hand dirt reached the Volva’s eye and changed the accuracy of her weapon. The young alchemist grabbed the spear and transmuted it into dust. This was not the end--the Volva presses forward, her hand inches from Avalon’s face before branches wrapped her entire body, holding her in place. The training ceased.
“Do not think that being this close allows for a guaranteed victory.” The branches broke with her movement as though they were as brittle as ashes.
Avalon realized her mistake--that spear was stretched too thin. The amount of wood was not enough to allow much with little, a child’s mistake and forgetting of the most basic law. Alchemy is equivalent exchange, but Avalon’s imagination stretches beyond the limitation. The Volva admitting the girl’s skill and quick-thinking, but without a solid foundation then there will be no victory and her imagination, turned arrogance, will be the death of her.
The master transmuted the wood into its previous state and offered its end to help Avalon up. The Volva kept her opinions of the three remaining siblings separate. While she had trained all seven of them, the only two she compared were the twins, but that was due to the fact no one could tell them apart. Those two were as thick as thieves, that was how they entered this world and that was how they left it.
Avalon’s hand was overturned and the master saw the thin, inked, leather tied on the girl’s palm. Clever. If she had not known better it could have been mistaken that Avalon transmitted without a circle.
“Sister!” The small, freckled-boy ran from under the fence and into his elder sibling.
Avalon smiled widely, caressing her brother’s head and lifting him into the air, over and onto her shoulders. She turned to her master, asking of anything further today. The Volva released her to her own volition and to be be weary of tomorrow’s lesson. It is always a pleasant sight to see those siblings together--they are practically inseparable, especially the two youngest. The Volva frowns. Should one of them parish, the other will not handle it well; particularly Avalon. She is a kind soul, having lived to see her other siblings and their mother pass--it is not a thing to grow accustomed to.
“Father and Elder Brother should return any day now!” Sid exclaimed when reaching for the leaves of a tree.
Avalon was quiet. Young as he maybe, Sid was sensitive to people’s feelings, but not at keeping them in mind when speaking; he leaned his head over his sister’s to meet eyes.
“Why do you not like father?” He blurted unfiltered, “Is it because he spends more time with Elder Brother and I?”
Avalon shook her head with a content smile, “I do like father, but he has much to manage and has no time to spare for all of us.”
Sid pouted when resting his head on Avalon’s, “Then can I give some of my time to you?”
They reached the top of the hill and saw their village peak thru the trees behind.
“You, me, Elder Brother, we are not father’s only family. The entire clan is his family and as chief he must look after all of them.” Avalon repeated the words of their Elder Brother, though she believed it half-heartedly.
Sid may see their father as a kind, yet stern man, but Avalon knows else. Their father is brutal, merciless; he is willing to send children to fight and die for an adult’s war.
“Sister!” Sid’s touch brought Avalon back from her deep thought.
She turned to see the troop of horses, followed by a carriage of the fallen. There were not as many bodies this time...though against the sorcerers that does not mean there were few casualties. Avalon set her brother down and he raced towards the group who greeted everyone with wide smiles.
“Come my boy! See the fruits of a Rekkr victory!” Their father, a tall, broadly-built man with a thick red and grey beard and massive axe on his back lifted Sid with a single arm and kept him in his lap between he and the saddle.
The chief’s gaze turned to his daughter, who offered a smile, but was not met with such a gesture. Typical. A formal exchange was then done: how was his travel; how did the battle fair. In return she was questioned: the village affairs; training--despite their disagreements he did trust to leave minor household affairs to Avalon. They did not meet eye to eye, but he was nonetheless her father and she is daughter. It was wrong to say she was not capable, but her attitude towards his tactics as chief was other than respectable.
“I shall speak to the Volva.” Their father prompted which surprised Avalon, “If you are become a Shield Maiden it will not be by child’s play.”
Avalon did not reply because her father had moved on before she was presented the chance. Watching his back as he headed toward the village she felt a tightness in her chest towards returning to the battlefield. A force grabbed the back of her shirt and pulled her from the ground--she squirmed until she was dropped on the horse’s rear as though she had been hunted.
“You should not try to incite father’s wrath.” Called the eldest son over his shoulder.
Avalon adjusted herself to sitting cross-legged on his horse’s rear, “I do not need to try.” She folded her arms, “My very ‘existence’ seems to do that just fine.”
Falcon frowned, rubbing the back of his head, then scratching at his beard. Though already a man of twenty-two, he did not follow the tradition of letting his beard grow and groomed it to just barely cover his face in red.
“You are too hard on yourself.” He looked behind to meet his sister’s eyes, “Father does care about you, but he must be harder on you because you are his last daughter. He fears for you.”
Avalon scuffed, standing up and taking a branch and lifting herself to stand on its wood.
“If he feared for me he would not be so open to leaving so often.” She climbed higher, jumping to another tree before disappearing into the forest’s embrace.
Falcon knew how his sister felt toward their father. It was not favoritism he exhibited, but rather he treated each of them as they needed. Sid was young, but weak therefore father gave him attention so not to feel an outcast and trained him in a way to benefit himself and develop at a pace that was not overbearing, but indeed challenging. Falcon, as a boy, was a protégé therefore father providing far more responsibility and tasks that matched his capabilities, but challenged his capacity. Avalon was different however, she was mother’s influence, but her and father both had strong personalities and were not the type to falter until the other gave. Falcon knew despite their disagreements they were too similar to actually despise the other. That being said...father is a very traditional man, while Avalon respects their heritage and history she does not see a value in clinging to traditions that pose no benefit to the clan now.
Avalon met with Fenrir in their usual training area. The Nordic Wolf nuzzled his nose into his partner’s hand until she became reactive. She knelt down and hugged him hoping for the day her and Godric would fight to never come. Hours passed before Avalon and Fenrir returned to the hall and joined the others in a feast. Though she and her companion kept to the side of the hall to be unnoticed by the massess she and her father acknowledged the other and a silent relief for her adherence to tradition was felt by Falcon alone. The noise of the hall was gradually quiet as the chief stood with glass in hand to make his words known.
“We stand here, victorious in our battle of the heretics who dared to set foot in our land.”
“A battle?” The warriors laughed “That was hardly a brawl!”
They all hollered, shouted, chanted and cheered in agreement, quieted by the chief’s hand as he continued.
“It is in times like these we must remember why we fight the heretic: our ancient foes, defiling the very nature of magic itself to suit their own needs and desires. While we have fought against them since the time of our ancestors we had not yet become victorious in our war.” Chief Tali looked each of his clansmen in the eye, “That is why until every sorcerer, that it be man, woman, or child, is slain the balance cannot be restored. Our war will not end until this is done--we must uphold the task that has been given to us by our ancestors, by the ancient gods we hold within our hearts. Where they have passed their will unto us, we shall honor their sacrifice and forge ahead until our oath has been fulfilled!”
The hall erupts in cheer as they sing the song of ages. They drink and eat to the memory of their fallen, to those who have come before them and for those who shall carry on that tradition. Avalon kept her goblet close to her side, sipping the mead from it occasionally though having no real taste for the alcohol and simply consuming it out of habit for ceremony. She spotted her father’s gaze and his motion to have her join his table--that was a rare occurrence and one not to be ignored.
Fenrir joined his mother and siblings happily ripping into the deer thrown for their enjoyment. Avalon kept to the edge of the hall when going forward, un-desiring of the attention her presence tends to have on others do to her constant defiance of her father. Nonetheless at times like these even she knows better than to disrespect a toast to their ancestors and a reminder of their oath. She sat in a seat left open, one Sid had done intentionally to have her sister be closer to their father than he. To his credit he was ‘trying’ to ‘help’.
“I am glad you have decided to join us for once.” Tali took the goblet from Avalon’s plate, poured the remains into his own and filled her with water before returning it to her side.
Avalon choose to bite her tongue with a retaliation to his statement, “It is custom that all the chief’s children attend a celebratory feast after a victorious battle.”
Tali agreed, but not commenting on her obligations as the chief’s daughter. She has long expressed her resentment of such obligations, but nonetheless there are those she still chooses to fulfill, but not by the risk of diminished expectation. By now everyone in the clan acknowledges that Avalon would rather be training with the Volva or running around the woods somewhere than to participate in clan affairs like these. It does not diminish others view of her loyalty to the clan, but does cause problems because she is the last daughter of the chief and nonetheless a candidate to become the next chief.
“The Volva speaks highly of your creatively in alchemy, but has concerns over your concentration in a battle as of late.” Her father glances to her, “Is there something on your mind that distracts you?”
Avalon kept herself from freezing and becoming rigid at father’s question. Quickly, though not enough to stumble over her words, she explains of a found curiosity of the sorcerers. An enemy she knows nothing of is an enemy she cannot gain and advantage over therefore she finds there is little information in their tomes about anything outside their ancestral history and lore. Tali observes his daughter for a time before standing, “Follow me.”
Doing as instructed, they leave the Great Hall and make for the temple on the end of the village. Tali moves to the far left side of the main hall, he stands before the carving of Mother Tree and places his hand at the center. An alchemical formula glows, illuminating its lines around his hand and tracing the outline of the carving. Avalon jumps back as the floor beneath her shifts down and transmutes into stairs. Taking an additional torch she follows her father into the enlightening darkness and listens to his words.
“This is the clan’s meeting place.” He explained as they stepped into a much larger area and allowed for their presence to signal the torches to light themselves upon activation.
Tali stopped in front of the first mural that decorated the walls, “You are ready to learn about the true nature of our clan’s oath as well as the truth about our bloodline.”
They are one of the eldest bloodlines of magic users in the world, but unlike sorcerers they are the true inheritors of magic. Sorcerers are those born with the affliction to produce their own 'abdominal' magic from within their bodies. Alchemists draw it in from nature; the purest and untainted magic any could use.
Tali rose his torch further to allow Avalon to see better.
“Our ancestors were not just warriors, they were guardians; protectors of Yggdrasil, the Elder Tree.”
The carved mural depicted the tree of life; the beginning; there, were carvings, of what Avalon assumed to be their ancestors, showing them around the tree’s circumstance. The tree branched out: plants; animals; beasts and creatures of all kinds living in harmony by the grace of Yggdrasil. However, other humans came, hearing of the tree’s divine power and demanding to be graced with its plentiful bounty. Their ancestors fought back, but the weaponry and numbers doubled their own and their defenses were broken. It was in those moments, when all hope had failed that their ancestors faced extinction. As the invaders took the forbidden fruit from the tree, it reached out to its guardians and passed onto them the means of their salvation.
Its has been generations since that time, but there has not been a time where their clan had not felt the strength of Yggdrasil within them. Nonetheless, the years have worn the bloodline, but as it remains pure, the gift has rendered itself in slumber until great times of change or tragedy befall the clan. Now, for the first time in ages, Yggdrasil’s gift has emerged and this time it is within Avalon. Though she does not yet know, nor would understand she will be the cause of change to them in her generation.
“You must not forget my daughter, sorcerers are our ancient foe. They are ‘The Betrayers’ who stole from that which gave them life and for that, we will fight them until the end of their days, or ours.”