Grave Dancing (flash story)

Another flash story for Tegalad, focusing on him confronting the loss of his mentor and his expulsion from the elven fighting company called the Bladesingers. This was written a little bit after Water Dancing and sadly, we stopped playing this campaign a few months after I finished this story. Maybe one day I can continue Tegalad’s journey in story format. Until then, enjoy.

-Lucas

Tegalad raised his hand to his eyes to shield the light of the bright sun overhead. His gaze took in the view of the ancient elven city of Lol’Silihhi from the southern entrance. The splendid spires, the clear water, the singing birds. All of it was soothing to his soul. He smiled to himself before making his way down the path towards the entrance to the city.

Upon entering the city, Tegalad made his towards the Sarfaris Compound where the bladesingers made their headquarters.  The compound was nestled between two ancient and massive sized sakura trees with cherry blossoms in full bloom. He didn’t bother to change his clothing for the unannounced visit to something more formal. He knew and accepted the fact that his life as a bladesinger was over. He was at peace with that decision now. His haphazard collection of red and blue adventuring clothing was well worn and repaired so many times it looked like it was put together by a mad seamstress. They were comfortable and affordable which suited him.

At the entry gate, a pair of elves in the red tabards of the bladesingers watched the circle dancer make his way up the road to the compound. They looked at each other with secret amusement at seeing the disgraced elf making his way to the source of his expulsion. Once Tegalad was in earshot, one of the guards gave a bemused smirk and called out, “Best turn around. Cowards are not welcome here.”

Tegalad gave no show of emotion to the taunt. He continued to walk toward the building with purpose. As he drew near, the guards looked at one another again, their amused looks starting to fade away. The first guard called out again, “Turn around coward, you are not welcome here!”

The circle dancer gave them a smirk of his own in reply. As he walked toward them, he cast a glance to each side of him for any sight of the city guard. Finding none, he silently activated his mentor’s magical cloak. The elf teleported the twenty foot distance instantly, reappearing directly in front of the guard with the great sword Redemption drawn and up against the guard’s throat. “You will fetch Lord Arthelus for me and you will do so now,” he stated to the second guard.

The elven guard froze as the divine blade nicked at his throat. He said nothing but turned his eyes to his comrade who looked on in horror. The second guard nodded quickly to Tegalad and quickly turned and ran into the compound.

The wait was not a long one. The guard returned with Lord Arthelus in tow who was pulling on a pair of dueling gloves as he hastily walked to the entrance of the compound. He was dressed in light leather clothing and his rapier sheathed at his side. The lord looked at Tegalard with malice, “Let go of my guard Tegalad. Immediately.” He growled.

Tegalad gave a grin and eased up on his blade and stance. With the blade lower but not sheathed he turned to face the elf lord, “Lord Arthelus, it is good to see you again. Your wife and children are well I hope.”

Arthelus narrowed his eyes at the mention of his family and took a firm tone to his voice, “They are fine.” The lord then took a breath and exhaled slowly to calm his nerves before speaking again, “You are disgraced Tegalad, you do not belong here. Leave and I will forget this happened.”

Tegalad shook his head slowly, “I can’t do that Arthelus. I have business with the Rathamoor Ruins. I came to you as a courtesy. Do not stand in my way.”

Lord Arthelus arched a thin brow at the mention of the ruins, “That place…why would you return? There is nothing for you there.”

Tegalard sheathed Redemption with a slow movement. “Felogalad. His remains were never recovered. Too dangerous you said,” he said with a steely glare.

“It was and still is,” Arthelus replied quickly as he glanced nervously at the two guards. “We could not risk the lives of more bladesingers. Not like you did.”

Tegalad nodded slowly, “Then you dishonor him and that is on your head, not mine.” The elf took a step forward to stand directly in front of the elf lord. “Do not get in my way Arthelus or there will be blood.” he stated before turning to leave.

The lord carried the look of shock far longer than he wanted to, “Or what? You will kill us? I’ve heard of your little exploits to the south in the land of the humans. Do not think that your dabbling in the arcane arts can match the thousands of years of tradition behind the bladesong.”

Tegalad walked for a moment longer before stopping and looking over his shoulder. “A thousand years of stagnation is nothing to be proud of Arthelus. Your way is the past. I am done with the past.”

__________________________________________

Tegalad rolled up the map he obtained in the demonic lands of Minauros and quietly looked at the ruins in front of him. It had been years since he had stepped foot on the grounds of his disgrace and the place had changed very little. He walked along the path up the entrance to the ruins with timid steps. He could almost hear the sounds of the battle that happened so long ago. The shouts of surprise during the attack of the dark elves. The screams of his dying friends, and his heavy panting of running away.

The elf stopped walking and closed his eyes to try to regain his composure. He took slow breaths until the sounds of the past faded from his mind. He then finally opened his eyes and looked around. He was standing at the entrance portal of the ruined building. Sunlight poured in through the partially collapsed roof to light up the moss covered building.

Walking across the room, Tegalad replayed the scene in his mind. They entered through the same entrance and had spread out to investigate. He slowly retraced his steps, looking over an ancient bookcase that held only vegetation. He ran his finger along the edge of the shelf absently as he relived the moment. Tegalad then shook his head and retracted his hand and clenched his fist.

The elf moved on from the bookcase to a moss covered stone table near the center of the room. Skeletal remains of elves covered the floor here, still in the poses of last moments. Their clothing and items remained though mostly ruined over the passage of the years. Looking over each of the bodies, the faces of the bladesingers he had known flashed in his mind. Darcassan. Elidyr. Bialaer. Lathai. Xhalh. Vesperr and of course, Felogalad.

As Tegalad reached his mentor’s skeletal remains, his body stiffened in fear and guilt. The body of his mentor was leaning up against a leg of the stone table. The clothing was a traditional black and white with gold lining which showed his status as a master bladesinger. It was mostly useless now after years of exposure. Most of his items were missing however, including his sword and circlet. Tegalad snarled at the thought of the dark elves stealing from the dead. He then noticed that the black boots were still in perfect condition.

Tilting his head curiously, Tegalad knelt down and examined them more closely. He then withdrew the map and notes on the arcane enchanted items that he had been given. After reading the passage on the Skyrunner Boots, he knew that he had found what he was looking for. He then looked up to his mentor and sighed, shaking his head, “Master…” he muttered, “I should have come back so many years ago. You don’t deserve this. I should be dead beside you.” Tegalad lowered his head in shame. “I’m so sorry…” was all he could say before the tears began to fall.

A time later, when Tegalad was able to pull himself back together, he stood up from the body of his mentor and looked around at the other fallen bladesingers. “I am not afraid anymore. I cannot make up for what I did. But I can try to make some things right,” he said quietly to the room. He then began the long process of gathering up the remains of his friends and mentor for the long trip back to Lol’Silihhi.

After everything was loaded up on the wagon, Tegalad took one last look over the ruins before mounting the wagon. Just as he was ready to ride away, a female voice called out in elven which chilled him to the bone. He slowly looked back and saw a dark elf standing at the entrance to the ruins, leaning against the stone door frame with a grin on her lips.

“Why in such a rush?” she purred as she tapped her finger at her bottom lip. “I just got here.”

Tegalad narrowed his eyes and slowly disembarked from the wagon. “I have no business with your kind.”

The dark elf arched a slender brow and mocked a hurt expression. “Oh, but you do my dear boy. You are taking something that belongs to me,” she said as she eyed the wagon filled with the skeletons of the bladesingers.

The circle dancer loosened his sword Redemption from its sheath, but did not draw, “They belong with their people darksider. Leave us be or you can return to your people the same way they are.”

“Tsk tsk my dear boy. Do not threaten unless you mean it,” purred the woman as she pushed off the stone frame and began to walk towardsTegalad with a slow, seductive pace.

Tegalad growled and drew Redemption from its sheath and brought the blade forward. “I will put yo…” he started to say, but was cut off as a bolt of necrotic energy knocked him off his feet from the dark elf’s outstretched hand. Smoke rose from the blast mark on his chest as he moaned and tried to stand back up. As he made it to his feet, the woman was within striking distance to him, her own rapier drawn. “Come boy, let my blade taste more bladesinger blood. It hungers,” She moaned with anticipating pleasure, emphasizing the last words.

Tegalad growled and brought his blade up and attacked. The dark elf was able to easily parry the attack and responded in kind with a near miss to his right ear. The two elves danced around one another, blocking and narrowly missing one another like a well rehearsed dance.

“You fight well elf, though there is something different about your style,” she purred, enjoying the fight more than her opponent.

“You’ll find that I’m full of surprises .” Tegalad snapped back. He then planted his foot to make an overhead swing, but instead left himself open for a full blast of necrotic energy again which sent him flying backgrounds to the ground.

The drow squealed in delight and made her way over to the fallen elf. “It has been fun little boy, but I have had this dance before and it bores me now.” she said and raised her rapier to strike.

Tegalad rolled over onto his back quickly and brought Redemption up to block the attack. He then called upon the ambient energy around him and focused it upon the sword. Wisps of water began to collect from the humid air around them, swirling around in a circle before snapping into place and forming a circle of power.

The dark elf took a step back and looked at the circle around her with quick jerks of her head. “What is this sorcery?” she asked and began to back up.

Tegalad pulled himself to his feet and brought his sword to bare. “A new dance darksider. Care to join?” he said as the circle of water began to increase in its intensity. Crystals of ice began to form all around the two as the temperature dropped.

The woman smiled at Tegalad and gave a bow. “Perhaps another time elf,” she said before drawing upon the darkness to envelop her, allowing her to escape.

__________________________________________

Tegalad set several pouches of gold and platinum coins on the counter. “It’s all there,” he said quietly before turning to leave the office of the crypt keeper. The elf behind the counter took the pouches and bowed his head. “We will maintain their final resting place as you wish.”

Heading out of the building, Tegalad walked the short path to the cemetery were a lone elven woman in a black mourning dress stood before a mausoleum. He made his way to her side, looking over the building with a somber expression. After several minutes of silence, he spoke to the elven woman in quiet tones, “Lady Saida… thank you for coming.”

Saida drew a long breath and looked down to the ground. “He always spoke highly of you Tegalad. You were his most talented student. Loved…one could say.”

Tegalad opened his mouth to reply, but no words formed. Instead, he looked down as well in remorse.  Tears began to well up around his eyes and then he finally spoke, “I never wanted to fail him.”

Lady Saida turned her head to look at the elf. Streaks lined her face from tears but yet she held herself up strong and confident. “I do not believe you did,” She said as she placed a delicate hand on his shoulder. “Fear is a part of life. Fear keeps you honest and alert. Had you remained, you would have died as well. What honor is in that?” She shook her head slowly and looked back to the mausoleum.

Tegalad lifted his head and looked at her. “Do you think, before the end, he forgave me?” he asked, his voice quivering.

The elf lady simply nodded. “I think so Tegalad, but do not dwell on the past. Honor his memory by doing something right in this world. Make it a better place to be.” she said quietly.

The circle dancer took a deep breath and nodded. “As you wish,” he whispered. He then pulled a carefully wrapped package from his pack and handed it to Saida. “This was the only item I was able to recover of his. I thought…I thought you might like to have it.” Tegalad uncovered the package to reveal the Skyrunner Boots.

Saida turned and looked at the boots. She ran her fingertips along the soft leather for a moment before withdrawing her hands. “Thank you Tegalad. I’ve made my peace though. You keep them. I’m sure that he would prefer it that way. You are the master now.” She then looked to the tomb and whispered an ancient elven goodbye before departing with slow measured steps, “Until forver ends.”

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