The first link
PART 1- This is the world we made.
25 years ago:
The crunch of foliage under his boots was the only sound for miles, as the knight Siegfried marched through the woodlands on a lone patrol. His sword was sheathed and on his hip as he pushed aside bushes and low hanging branches. "Blasted nettles" he cursed as he pushed through a bush, relying on his steel armor to protect him. "Why do they even send us on patrol anyway?" He rambled to himself "Every evil thing that crawls, walks, slithers, swims or flies on this planet has been quiet."
He was jolted out of his thoughts by a piercing scream that echoed throughout the woodlands and in three seconds, just like he was trained: his sword was out, his shield was in his right hand, and his visor was down. This was done as a second scream pierced his ears. Siegfried ran in the direction of the scream knocking bushes and vines away with his weapons.
The scream came from a young elven woman, who currently was surrounded by a pack of trolls and they snarled at her and waved their weapons in her direction. The elven woman was covered in bruises and was struggling to stand on her legs. She held a dagger in a shaky hand with fear written on her pretty features.
The trolls advanced in her direction slowly with their weapons raised. Just as the closest one got within arms' reach of the woman.
Siegfried leapt out of the bushes and sliced the arm of the closest Troll clean off.1 The Troll screamed and received a kick in the chest with a steel boot. Siegfried parried a weapon with his shield and stabbed, piercing the second Trolls chest. He swung his blade in a wide arc and slashed the heads of the remaining two trolls. The forth troll ducked the slash and swung his weapon finding it parried by the shining sword of the Tempest Vanguards. The sword swung again and the troll collapsed with a cry of pain.
Siegfried looked around seeing his foes were dead or too wounded to fight further. He knelt beside the elven woman2 and checked her pulse. "She's alive" he muttered to himself. He pulled out a bandage and began to dress her wounds, jumping slightly at a singsong voice from the trees.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you."
The knight turned to see a strange looking man staring at him. The man was covered in leaves, briars, mud, dirt, twigs, and even a flower here and there. What he wore was impossible to tell, and it almost seemed like the nature was his clothing; however, the man had a shining and elderly face that seemed harmless to the knight and the only thing he held was a short staff. The strange man spoke again, still in that singsong voice.
"Oh sir I wouldn't heal her if I were you." Without waiting for Siegfried's response he prattled on "Simply because it is her time to return to the dirt! You see she is close to death, and she needs to go back to the dirt! It's the way of her life, you see?
Siegfried looked down at the elven woman's face, which was beautiful, and he felt a sudden anger towards the man saying she had to die. "I can still save her!" He said trying to keep the anger out of his voice.
"You could" mused the strange man "But then you would doom all you know." The strange man shuffled closer and poked the woman with his staff "There are secrets that the world of men isn't ready for at all, not at all. This woman is from the race of elves, but as you know the elves left our land quite some time ago!" The man shook his head "So sad, but they never did quite leave you know! They are waiting until they are needed again! If you heal her secrets will come out and…."
Suddenly the man turned away and muttered something "You will doom all you know young knight. There's a war coming…"
At the word war Siegfried grabbed the strange man's arm "What!"
The strange man prattled on becoming more excited as he kept going "There's a war coming, a terrible, awful war! There will be fire, and chaos, and blood will fall from the skies! I've seen it all, I have seen it!"
Siegfried tried to keep the man focused "Why! What's happening? Why will there be a war!?"
The strange man smiled "There is always war, and it will come no matter what. However what you do now will determine who fights who. Saving her will make the war worse, yes it will!"
The knight looked down at the elven woman "I can't let her die! I have to save her!" His mind made up he knelt near her.
The strange man's mouth opened in fear at this action and his sentences were jumbled "No, no you can't….you will doom all you know….a war coming….it's her time…."
Siegfried heaved the woman over his shoulder and closed his ears to the man's warnings. As he turned to go he heard a rustle and spun around only to find that the man was gone, and all that was left in his place was a red flower….a blood red flower.
The elven woman awoke, the last thing she remembered was seeing a knight save her, and then she must have fainted.
She looked around and saw she was in a silk bed and all the pain and fear was gone, as if she had never felt it. A knight was standing by her bed and as she stirred his removed his visor exposing a handsome face.
"Glad to see you made it"
The woman smiled and sat up taking in every inch of her rescuer. "Thank you" she smiled, suddenly nervous as the knight extended his hand "I am Siegfried knight of the Tempest Vanguard"
"My name is Maeldis, everyone calls me Mael"
Her heart skipped a beat at his next words "Your name is beautiful."
As she was about to respond her voice was cut off by bells that clanged throughout the whole palace, followed a shout, and trumpet blasts
"KNIGHTS TO ARMS! TO ARMS TEMPEST VANGUARDS!"
Siegfried lowered his visor and exited the room with his sword drawn. Filled with curiosity and feeling a bit of longing to be near Siegfried Mael followed.
Siegfried rushed up towards the ramparts of the human palace standing shoulder to shoulder with other fully armored knights facing the seaward side of the palace. Mael pushed through the ranks as she tried to see what was going on, and looked down at the waters seeing something that filled her heart with joy, and the knights' hearts with uncertainty.
An island floated in the water as if it had appeared by magic3 and elves massed on the shores each one aiming a bow at the ramparts of the human palace. The arrows pointed directly at the knights and their shields, and the warriors stood side by side with their weapons ready.
Only one being stood out in the crowd of Knights, and that was King Merek, He stood in front of his army in his silver armor, carrying a mace and a shield adorned with an eagle. "Stand ready boys! Shields out and keep the holy flame burning."
The knights held their shields at an angle ready to deflect the storm of arrows, and Siegfried was just another face in the group of armored men. Mael suddenly broke away from the knights and began to scream something in elvish that none of the knights understood.
Mael's scream caused the elves to look around, but none of them lowered their bows, until finally an elven woman, who looked like an older version of Mael, walked to the front of the elven army and waved her hands. The elves slowly lowered their bows, but kept them ready.
The Knights opened the Palace gates slowly at an order from King Merek and Mael ran out splashing through the water towards the woman who looked like her. They embraced hard and Merek led a conjugant of knights, Siegfried among them, out of the gates and towards the elves.
However once the knights got close enough to speak to the elves, the elves in question snapped their bows back up into firing position.
Instantly the knights drew their weapons and shields and crowded around Merek.
The woman left off embracing Mael and spoke
"My name is Rival, Queen of the elves of Silver Seas, stand down."
The elves lowered their weapons and the knights, after an uneasy pause, lowered their weapons.
"I am Merek, leader and king of the knights of the Tempest Vanguard."
"Many thanks to you for saving my daughter; she was lost after a storm on our island, and we feared her dead."
Mael pointed at Siegfried "I almost was, but he saved me from monsters."
Rival's stormy grey eyes glowed for a brief instant and then she smiled "My daughter speaks the truth, Knight Siegfried please step forward."
Siegfried sheathed his weapons and walked forward towards Rival, getting on one knee before her.
"You not only saved my daughter's life, but you have opened a new pathway for us elves to come into the world. The elves as a whole thank you."
Siegfried rose and smiled and the tension in the air dropped as Mael moved towards Siegfried. Rival clapped her hands as Merek stepped forward "Milady, would you consider coming to a feast tonight in the honor of the elves returning to our world."
Rival nodded "That would be lovely King Merek."
However both sides failed to notice they were being watched by a strange figure, who almost melded with the soil he stood in.
"Tut, Tut" He closed his eyes "Oh poor knight, you have started something I hope I can reverse."
1 Guess he isn't within arms' reach anymore!
2 Who had fainted at the sight of the blood
3 Which in fact it had