By Tyson Bell
A Candle's Last Flame is the property of the author, Tyson Bell and is used with permission by Candlekeep. Email Tyson with any comments and feedback on this story.
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Slender long fingers brushed against the smooth marble. The only sound he could hear was that of his breathing. It was also dark, with only "Keryvian's" azure-hued flame holding back the oblivion. The smell was of age, of dust and centuries of neglect. This was hallowed ground, a place of strong magic. Jeiroth slowly paced the room, his thoughts reflecting on this area. He was well below ground, specifically, below the strong, forbidding walls and gardens of Castle Cormanthyr. Yet this area predated even that ancient edifice. It had been here long before the elves arrived and none could explain its creation.
"How silly" thought the young Irithyl, as he drew out a coin. It was a special coin, minted almost a thousand years ago. It was a commemorative of his father's ascension to Coronal, printed only in the first year of his rule. The elf then faced the center of the room. In the center lay the source of the strong magic. An old, nondescript well, its grey bricks weathered with age, marked the focal point and the center of the magic in the room. Kneeling, Jeiroth whispered a prayer to Corellon. He stood and walked up to the edge of the well, and with sword still drawn, spoke in ancient elven.
"Well of power, well of might
help me now, help me fight
to fix the wrong, to make it right
a tool of victory, be it day or night"
Jeiroth then released the coin into the well. No splash was heard, but there came a slow groan, one steadily that increased with intensity.
Suddenly, a golden sparkling mist seemingly spilled out of the well. As the mist rushed towards the elf, Jeiroth stiffened at its approach but stood his ground. The mist enveloped the bladesinger and his sword. He felt power coursing through him, and a voice sweet and feminine echoed from the well.
"Use this in battle
never lose faith"
The mist then suddenly vanished and with it, the voice. For some time, the young Irithyl quietly stood in the room, mesmerized by the engagement. Slowly, as he regained his senses, he began to look around.
"Hmm, I do not feel any different," he thought out-loud.
And then he glanced at his sword. At the edges of the blade were tiny golden sparkles, carefully running his hand through the already sharp edge, it felt impossibly sharper. A smile crept along the elf's face...
The bladesinger's concentration was broken by the soft scrape of elven boots on the floor behind him.
"Captain Fflar?" "Ohh Captain, my Captain?" a silky, seductive voice asked. Jeiroth, his smile growing, turned to face that voice.
"Is that the voice of my derelict Lieutenant?" he chided. "Hmmf, derelict indeed!" The now not quite so seductive voice responded, "I found you, didn't I".
A stunningly beautiful elven woman clad in bright elven chainmail entered the room and strode right up to Jeiroth. She then wrapped her arms around him as he did the same to her. Their lips met as Jeiroth fervently kissed his ladylove.
"Umm, my Onamae" he softly murmured.
"I am here my love" Onamae Durothil hotly responded.
Jeiroth looked at his elven beauty; Onamae had silky smooth auburn hair and sparkling silver eyes flecked with sky blue. Her body was slender yet voluptuous at the same time, her curves clearly outlined in her armor. She was also nearly as tall as he was, with a golden hued skin of suprizing softness. Even after 25 years of romance, she was still breathtaking. But there was more to her than just beauty. Onamae Durothil had the courage of a dragon and the heart of a titan. She was well-schooled in art and war, and possessed a sharp wit to boot. The elf warrior woman had fought with great skill beside her lover. Her promotion to second in command had truly been out of her own merit, and none questioned her deserving of it. Onamae had been through bladesinging training, and was a Cathshee bladesinger as was he. They sparred often, with neither truly coming out the victor. Her family, the Durothil's, were the eldest family in Myth Drannor. Yet she shared little of their arrogance. (Damn! He loved her!) Jeiroth reflected. Onamae slowly released her grip. She looked up at her man with a mischievous grin.
"You realize this may be the last time we see each other." she purred. "Onamae, don't talk like..." two fingers on his lips quickly silenced him. Onamae, still grinning, pulled out of her magic bag a thick sleeping roll. As Jeiroth watched, now sporting a similar smile, Onamae spread the roll on the floor of the room. She then began to remove her mail, turning to her love as she did so.
"Well, are you going to stand there with a silly sword in your hand or are you going to join me?" Not having to be asked twice, Jeiroth quickly removed his armor and joined his now nude lady on the roll.
With a snap Jeiroth finished strapping on his sword belt and began helping Onamae fold the sleeping roll. Both wore looks of passion engaged, of love consummated.
"I think we should hurry" Jeiroth exclaimed.
"Yes, Rockfellow was waiting for you at the lip of the tunnel."
Jeiroth chuckled softly, as he did almost every time he thought of the dwarf.
Jhessail Rockfellow was a Myth Drannan born and raised dwarf. He was the son of Torn and Dwalla of Clan Rockfellow, a proud and longstanding mining family. They had come to Myth Drannor at the behest of Dumathoin himself...or so they told everyone. Torn had become a gem cutter, making a considerable fortune doing such. Perhaps as a means to further ties among the elven folk, they had given their son a more "elven" name than that dwarves traditionally use. Apparently for Jhessail, or "Jhol" as he liked to be called, that is were the ties with elves ended. He was as dour, fierce, and as stubborn as any dwarf could possibly be. Anyone making fun of his name had eventually seeked a priest for healing. Jhol now stood next to the tunnel entrance, dressed in platemail and angrily tapping his foot. The dwarf's black beard always struck a contrast with his bright armor. As the two elves exited, he turned his stern scowl on them.
"Figured ye all had fallen in, and I'd have ta fish ye out." Jeiroth smiled but the dwarf continued.
"Well...where ye been!"
"Ohh, down in the tunnels making love" Jeiroth casually stated, but with a seriousness that shocked the dwarf into silence and drew an accusing look from Onamae.
Turning a couple shades red, Jhol yet managed to stammer "I..uh..we..we've been waiting for ye so that we can begin"
"Well, everyone has waited long enough" the elf said "Now then is the time". With that, Jeiroth began to march up the castle walls. His two lieutenants and comrades, Onamae and Jhol, in tow. As he reached the top a steady and growing cheering arose and resounded throughout the castle ground below.
"Tel'a Fflar! Tel'a Fflar!" the ensemble shouted.
Jeiroth, slowly clearing his throat, glanced quickly behind his back and smiled at his two friends, then again faced the crowd. He looked long and hard at the army laid out before him. An army of elves, and humans, and dwarves, and halflings and even gnomes. It had been much larger once.
Indeed, it had even been the pride of the world. But many had died fighting the Army of Darkness. Others had fled, viewing Myth Drannor as a hopeless cause. Many elves had fled to the New Elven Court, while others, mostly the nonelves, had moved to fledgling Cormyr. These troops, tired and battered, had stayed however. They stayed because to them, Myth Drannor was worth fighting for. And he loved each and every one of them for doing so.
He also thought about all of the loved ones that he had lost. With pride, anger, pain, and love in his heart, he began.
"There once lived an elf with a dream, a dream that all races of good mind and intent create a place were togetherness is celebrated, that we all live and work together to create and defend a place of learning, a place of wealth, a place of unity." He drew a deep breath.
"That elf, a great visionary, was Coronal Eltargrim Irithyl"
"Eltargrim, with his guiding hand, was able to create, through sacrifice, such a place...he named it Myth Drannor".
"Look around, pray, and realize that unless we defend it, unless we sacrifice, we will lose all that our fathers and forefathers worked so hard to accomplish."
"However, I believe that we will sustain that dream, that we will not surrender, that we will fight for it and believe in it. With this, we shall prevail!"
"These creatures have invaded our home, killed our loved ones and attempted to destroy our dream. We will go to battle, and destroy them, and win for once and for all the dream that we have strived for so long to sustain."
"Long live the dream! Long live Myth Drannor!"
Thundering cheers rose up from the army as Jeiroth drew his blade and saluted the soldiers.
The shouts and cheers continued on as the sound of two great horns blared in the distance.
Jeiroth, or Captain Fflar, knew what those horns meant, the Army of Darkness approached.
He spun and faced his Lieutenants.
"Jhol, take the left wing, Onamae, take the right... maintain your respective flanks. I will drive down the middle with a battle wedge.'" Onamae gave Jeiroth a questioning glance
"Isn't that risky? I mean if you drive too deep you could split our forces in two."
"Yes, but today we are going to strike at the head of this snake...I want to fight Aulmpiter himself."
"You want what?!" stammered Jhol.
"Yes, we need to end this war, and we need to end it now!"
"What makes you think that he will fight you?" asked Onamae.
"Let's just say I've got a certain item he both craves and fears." The bladesinger responded with a grin.
"But I appreciate both of your concerns" he gave both a look of friendship and love.
With double sighs both Lieutenants saluted Jeiroth and walked off. But Onamae turned once again to glance at her love, Jeiroth saw the concern etched in her face. He looked at her for what seemed an eternity, then he told her "I will marry you after all of this, you know" and then gave her a quick wink, smiled, and turned to walk towards his command. He did not see a tear trickle down her face.
Once there his troops all cheered and celebrated when he arrived. He must be strong he thought, even though butterflies had made their presence felt since the horns had sounded. Addressing his command he spoke
"Let us all pray, pray for victory, pray for a better life."
Jeiroth then knelt on one knee, and prayed. He prayed to Corellon, to Sehanine, even to Mutishoru, his old sensei and friend. Finally, he addressed his father.
He whispered "Father, give me the strength and courage to face the lords of darkness...if I may die, know that I die for Myth Drannor, please help keep my Onamae safe...I love you"
Jeiroth then stood up and faced his command. They were ready, anticipation and fear sewn in heir faces. He then glanced at his Lieutenants, in the distance, he could here them shouting commands. They were ready. Jeiroth Ulondarr Irithyl, son of Coronal Eltargrim and last surviving Irithyl, unknown prince of Cormanthyr, Cathshee Bladesinger, Armathor, N'Velar, and now Captain Fflar, leader of the last soldiers left to defend Myth Drannor, gave the order to move out.
Orders that were echoed through the army as the troops began a slow lumbering march out of the Castle and towards the Six Tiryll Towers. That was were they would find the Army they had to destroy.
The battle between both armies was terribly fierce. The elf and human wizards of Jeiroth's armies hurled hundreds of spells at the orcs, gnolls, ogres, and mezzoloths that made up the Army of Darkness. For every soldier from Jeiroth's army that died, two or three-sometimes even four or five died from Aulmpiter's army. But his army outnumbered Jeiroth's almost ten to one. And losses such as the ones they were sustaining were acceptable. Captain Fflar knew that he had to kill the general himself, or else they would lose.
The wedge had done very well, driving deep into the dread army's heart. Jeiroth, at the forefront of the wedge, suddenly saw a troupe of mezzoloths heading directly towards him. Behind that entourage were the six Nycaloth bodyguards of Aulmpiter...behind them lay the general himself.
The first mezzoloth sung a large battle-ax at him, Jeiroth ducked under and managed to stab the thing twice in the groin. The mezzoloth howled in pain trying to twist right and away from the bladesinger. Jeiroth jumped on the daemon's back, straddled it, and used both hands to drive his blade through the creature's spine and chest. He then withdrew his sword from the dying creature's body, and spun to face...a wickedly clawed hand raking across his face. The claws sparked as they raked across a magical field of energy as Jeiroth's spell mantle flared to life. The mezzoloth that had dared to attack the Prince hissed in disappointment, baring its long, knifelike fangs. Jeiroth responded by "whoosh, and crack!" beheading the daemon. The bladesinger began to sing, sing an ancient melody once common but now rarely known, it was an old Aryvaandan song, created around the time of the Crown Wars. It depicted a battle between the elves and their foes, and the elves triumphant victory in the end. Soon all mezzoloth's were dead, and Jeiroth, with a few scratches to tell the tale of his battles, faced Aulmpiter's bodyguards. All six attacked at once, and surely the Captain would have been overrun, if it had not been by the timely arrival of friends. Parrying the oversized scimitar of one, Jeiroth found himself exposed for the great trident of another. That thrust was suddenly parried by a warhammer that came flying out of nowhere.
"Ye'll not be getting all of the fun elf!" came a gruff statement from the hammer's owner.
Jhol, his hammer magically back in his hands, his armor seemingly soaked in blood (of others?) beamed a partially toothed smile before engaging the trident wielding Nycaloth.
"Yeah, what's the big idea trying to best your betters" came another comment from behind one Nycaloth as a slim blade burst through its neck. The Nycaloth grabbed the slim elven woman that was Onamae by the neck, intent of burying its other fist into her delicate face. Blood was gushing from its neck as it grinned a farewell at its victim. As its fist swung forward, the hand fell off from the forearm, cleanly sliced off by Jeiroth, and did nothing to Onamae except douse her face with Nycaloth blood. She promptly stabbed through its arm with one hand, and sent five magic missiles into its eyes with the other hand. Onamae wore a Girdle of Hill Giant Strength, making her that much more formidable in battle. The Nycaloth screamed in pain and led the elf warrioress go. Jeiroth, seeing his love able to handle the situation, continued on. He fought another Nycaloth, screaming insults at Aulmpiter as he did so. He screamed them in the Nycaloth guttural tongue; he screamed them in orcish, gnoll, elvish, and common. He called him a coward, a worthless pig of a warrior. He told him that he would petrify his black heart, and display it as a gift. This current Nycaloth was a mean warrior, effectively combining his magic with his martial skill.
Jeiroth had survived a symbol of death, a fireball, hypnotize and a dominate spell. His knew his mantle was failing; this forced Jeiroth to use a spell he had been saving. It was a powerful spell devised recently to fight the Nycaloths. Jeiroth managed to cast it while parrying the beast's great fists. A prismatic sphere developed not around the caster, but around its foe. This allowed Jeiroth to pass in and out of the prison to strike at the Nycaloth, but it effectively limited the Nycaloth to within the small sphere. The Nycaloth angrily snarled at the elf and prepared to cast a dispel magic...which harmlessly dissipated as to struck the field. (Prismatic sphere's require a specific chain of spells to dissipate it, in this case, they needed to be cast backwards by the Nycaloth because he is inside the sphere. Jeiroth was not done; he was sweating profusely as he concentrated on the next step, manipulating the sphere. As he chanted and slowly brought his two arms together, the sphere began to close around the Nycaloth. Its screams were fervent as it sought a weakness, no, a means of survival. But alas there were none. With a flash the beast died as the sphere imploded on it.
Gasping for air, Jeiroth glanced around him, only to see a bloodied Nycaloth drive a giant pick ax into the head of his friend Jhol.
"No! Jeiroth screamed as he quick blinked behind the Nycaloth, whom he found had been severely injured by the dwarf. The Nycaloth tried to turn, tried to scream, tried to live...but the bladesinger was on him instantly, cutting and slicing and butchering the foul beast. Finally, the elf reached into the split open chest of the Nycaloth, and pulled out its beating heart. He held it up and screamed as the Nycaloth slowly ebbed away into oblivion, a look of terror, if ever one was possible by its kind, etched onto its face. Jeiroth had tears streaming down his face as he mourned for the loss of his friend.
A loud clapping sounded from behind him, and Jeiroth turned at its sound. Before him stood the biggest Nycaloth he had ever seen. It had blood red, gleaming scales and large black claws of the darkest hue. The Nycaloth's toothy smile told him all he needed to know about those wicked looking fangs. It was easily twice the height of a man, almost three times that. Seeing that the elf had acknowledged him, the daemon stopped clapping. But its grin never went away as it spoke.
"Very good, elfling" came his booming voice.
The battle had slowed to a trickle as more and more parties became interested in the confrontation between the two commanders.
"So you say you want to fight me, eh," the General continued "Why would I grant this silly request of yours?"
Jeiroth stared at the large creature, steadied his resolve, and then threw the large heart he possessed at Aulmpiter's foot "Because if you don't, you acknowledge that I am the better warrior, you acknowledge that I, the young elf Jeiroth and Captain Fflar, am not a coward while you, oh so mighty Aulmpiter, are."
Aulmpiter looked at the heart, then at the young elf. "I could crush you with two fingers, and strip your flesh from your bones with my spells...why do I need to prove myself, I know I have that power?"
"I am the only thing standing between you, and victory. Without me, the last remnants of the Army of Light fall. This is your chance to end it and win, if not here and now, I promise you that I will destroy the city before you have any chance to enjoy the spoils of war."
"And how do you plan on doing this elfling?"
"With this?" responded Jeiroth, and he pulled out of his bag a crystal "this is the last piece we need of the Gatekeepers Crystal, we acquired it from the chest you keep in you base up north. We have all of the pieces, you will not rule long"
"How did you?!...How dare you?!...It is mine!" Growled Aulmpiter.
"Then fight me for it!" dared the elf.
Aulpiter's smile then faded, and a large sword suddenly appeared in his hand.
The battle had completely been halted as the armies intently watched the proceedings.
"The Netherese used to call this blade elf-killer.", he waved it around in a couple practice swings,. "It seems that any cut it inflicts upon elvish flesh will cause the destruction of that flesh...one last chance elf, leave the crystal and the city to me, and you will live; do that not, and I will string your innards from my sword."
Captain Fflar, exhausted, bloodied, and bruised, suddenly burst with fresh life.
"You, foul daemon...it is you who should beg for mercy. I am very intent on killing you, your head will make for a great trophy, and as a warning to the enemies of Myth Drannor."
"Then die elfling!"
Aulmpiter swung the great blade, easily as tall as Jeiroth, one handed. With a great whoosh the sword quickly arced towards the elf. Jeiroth, amazed at the speed of the beast, quickly ducked and rolled back. Aulmpiter missed badly but easily recovered. He pointed at Jeiroth and purple lightning flashed towards the bladesinger. These struck Jeiroth's mantle with a loud smack, and then the mantle was gone, having used up the last of its power. The young Irithyl dashed towards Aulmpiter, feinting left then quickly sprinting right. Aulmpiter turned to face him, easily matching the young elf's speed. Jeiroth swung high, then low, both parried by the daemon, then parried a vicious counter by the creature. They fought for almost an hour, Aulmpiter easily parrying the elf's attacks, Jeiroth several times coming within a hair's-breath of oblivion. But the elf was tiring, and growing more desperate by the minute.
"I haven't even touched him yet", Jeiroth's mind raced "How am I gonna beat this thing?"
Aulmpiter too sensed the elf's growing weariness. He smelled assured victory, and his attacks became lazy, he would enjoy slowly picking the elf apart, as a cat does a mouse.
In a sparring moment of respite, Jeiroth took the time to study his foe. He had noticed a pebble of some sort buzzing around the Nycaloth, and he had spotted it again. It orbited around Aulmpiter's head, and obviously possessed magic.
"Maybe", Jeiroth quickly brainstormed, "maybe I can break the stone, and set that magic against the daemon."..."It will probably kill me, but it is probably my, no, their only chance," he glanced around at the army of light, his army.
Then he focused on one person in particular.
Onamae, his Onamae...he would dearly miss her. She stood there now; looking at him with tear soaked eyes of fear and love. Jeiroth quickly smiled to her, and with one fist, softly tapped his chest, where his heart lay. It was goodbye, and only a mere handful would be live to later tell the tale of the love between the two.
Aulmpiter saw the elf seemingly dazed, and moved in to strike. Had he been more determined to destroy his foe, Jeiroth would have been dead, and Myth Drannor his new domain. But Aulmpiter thought the battle already won, and his lazy strike was parried by the elf, which wrapped one, then two legs around the Nycaloth's sword arm. Jeiroth squeezed and twisted as hard as he could. A large fist slammed into his back, knocking the breath from the elf. But the sword arm weakened, and the sword fell onto the ground. Jeiroth then felt himself being lifted towards the beast's maw.
"I will savor the taste of your flesh...foolish mortal", Aulmpiter growled. As he drew near the Nycaloth's fanged mouth, Jeiroth again caught sight of the orbiting stone.
"For Eltargrim!...For Myth Drannor!...(softer) For Love" Jeiroth swung his great sword Keryvian at the creatures head. Aulmpiter easily ducked, but the stone did not.
A bright flash followed by a thunderous BOOM marked the explosion caused by the shattering stone. Then, as suddenly as the world had become chaos, there was peace. Nothing was left of the two except debris. The melted buildings and bodies of the dead surrounding the two were all that remained.
It was a victory, and a defeat...both armies unceremoniously left the battlefield that day. Many of the army of light also left Myth Drannor shortly after. To them, it seemed that the last hope, the last flame of a dying candle that was the city of song had been snuffed out. The few that remained fought on to save others, but in the end, the city fell. A victory: the Army of darkness, without a central leader, quickly fell to bickering after Myth Drannor's fall. They fought each other as much as they fought the harrowing elves of Elven Court. Unable to unify, they were eventually wiped out.
Thus this battle marked the end of an era, the end of Myth Drannor.
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