The days of exile ended dreadfully and without mercy. Fear pierced our hearts and brought icy cold. It was night and no star broke through the cloak of terror. We were surrounded by endless shadows. Eternal grief was followed by wretched laments from the coasts. But nobody came to console the grieving. The once wonderful trees stood weak and dead, extinct forever. The chase for the wrongdoers was lost in the sand. Despair was born, and with it came suspicion and hate. In the end it was my kin who were to complete the triumph of the unholy alliance. I never was to find out what was debated in the Council of the Ring during the hour of disaster, but I belived and trusted in the words of my father. He was great in all things. Nobody else was granted such accomplishments. But he loved the product of his own hands too much. To that end he betrayed himself, his sons and the light of the world. His heart blazed with a powerful fire. Too great and too strong, however, was the flame for the body and the soul in which it burned. Never before had I known fear. This was to change when the almost impenetrable cloud of pure evil entered our fortress. So strong was the panic that gripped my brothers and myself that only escape remained. For one brief moment I was granted a glimpse at that sinister, almost unfathomable mass. What I saw took my breath away and taught me how to fear. I was never to forget the cold, insatiable gaze of the spider woman, filled with evil emptiness, who regarded the escaping life greedily with her opaque, dead eyes. A tremendous, hopeless nothingness that changes everything into rigid,ugly insignificance. Her hairy body had already taken on a gigantic shape, and next to her even the Dark Ruler seemed small and weak. We remained in deep despair, deprived of all possessions, far away from the fortress. Many of us cried bitterly, because a great king had lost his life. The immortal country had encountered death, and the gems were lost. With the gems went our hope. The Black Enemy of the world, as my father called him, he returned home with his booty and had himself declared King of the World.
A veil of oblivion covers many things, but I clearly recall the day of the oath. Without a doubt those were Father's words, we thought, full of glory, wild desire and skillfully declared by him, and they made us raise our swords in swearin the oath. This should never have happened. In a fatal way we conjured up doom. Inspired by his burning words we felt a desire for new lands and cruel revenge. My heart pounded proudly when the messenger of the Master of the Skies bowed in farwell to my father. There seemed to be nothing to hold us back. Even the greatest were full of reverence.
Doomed we departed to suffer agony from that day on. The yearning for deliverance already stirred, while disaster still loomed far in the distance. Grief was behind us, but the dark day did not promise good tidings. Ignorance marked every step, but our pride made us continue, inflamed and filled with the words of a lonely man whose soul was ablaze. Never had it been easy to look into the deep and ugly abyss of a dear friend's or relative's soul, and to recognize its devastating consequences. Yet that abyss exists, in every one of us. No burden is heavier than the awareness that nothing and nobody is without fail. I fail to understand those who followed my uncle. Oh, how I hated those among my kin! At last the major part of our people came together under the Banner of Stars, while only a seemingly small group followed the banner of the righteous king. I had little love for my, oh so noble, kinsmen, who had much support among our people. Never will I understand why they went along. Only my eldest brother seemed full of despair about the continuing dispute in our family. Yet we were the ones who went away in the first line. Our path was o lead us to unfamiliar, sinister and inhospitable regions and finally to disaster. Few deeds spoke of fame and glory, many of sadness and sacrifice.
The Murder of Kin
Red - I close my eyes and see a powerful stream of blood that flows into the clear waters of the ocean to soil it with its innocent red. I open my eyes and see hands covered in blood: the claws of a beast. Ugly, clenched up, murderous. In my dreams I walk again and again with my own towards the City of Swans. And although I can feel that our next steps will be fatal, I am unable to alter the course of events. Everything inside me screams, but I remain silent and follow unquestioningly...Riders of white crests. Dreamers. Harmless, modest, peaceful. Nobody loves freedom more than they do. Their song delights the dwellers of the oceans, the music of the oceans delightes the sea elves. But beyond the walls there is a storm brewing. The harbour lies in darkness. It is still free of blood. Our pleas to consider my father's claims are refused. Armed and determined we take what they are not prepared to give to us willingly. In our armour we go for the boats, but the seafaring people throw us into cold waters dancingly. The flight of my people ends with a fall. The cold of the sea heats up our souls, our hate seethes. The agony of shame must be revenged - thousandfold. We draw our swords. The battle begins - no ordinary battle but the murder of brothers. Brave, but innocent men face us defenselessly. From their bodies, their still laughing faces, flows blood. Their laughter turns to surprise, surprise turns to fear, their fear brings awareness at last. Already we can hear their mourning. The voice of one is followed by many more. The sea joins in their cruelly beautiful lament. This sound is to haunt us to the end. Nothing - no words, no deed, no prayer - can make good the burden that we take upon ourselves in this hour. Our greed for the boats and the fulfillment of our dreams takes precedence over our conscience. Cries for help, cries of agony, cries of death, follow us forever. Again nobody comes to help the grieving children of the sea. The sea cries. The word of the Master of the Winds unites the great ones. With burning fury and with tears that cry out to revenge the injustice done to their dear friends, they remain in the depths of the oceans. No deed weighs more heavy.
Shadowy memories gather menacingly. I pass through the grey wall of the past yet again to live through all this another time. The lonely figure that appears to be waiting unmovingly for me and my own seems real in front of me. With a loud voice the messenger of the Master of the Skies announces our disastrous fate. Saddened and confused we all fall silent and listen to Father's wild retorts. Then, as if in a trance, we move away slowly. Not once do I turn around, but I know that many embark on their way home full of guilt and humiliation. On and on we wander along the icy coasts. The ice becomes thicker, our path more inhospitable. Under deep black skies, surrounded by unfriendly winds, we yearn for the fulfillment of our dreams. These thoughts lead us on, they nourish us and warm us. Yet there still is hope. The finality of the curse seems avoidable. Soon we will destroy the last bud: Secretly we are moving away from brother and sister. The boats offer little room, and the passage will be possible only for our own people. The curse awakens.
Maybe my brother recognizes the shame, but he, too, remains silent. Our boats dock and we light-footedly leap into the shallow waters. For the first time we set foot on the soil of our new country. The swans, the pride of a whole nation, they are already burning. The sky appears to be bathed in blood, only the stars light up in shining silver and appear to look on at the doings of their people without emotion. Now I can see the pain in my brother's eyes. My laughter joins that of the others, but my heart is crying bitterly. I begin to understand. On the other side of the ocean, not far away, yet so distant, our betrayal is acknowledged. Those who have been left behind embark on a long and arduous journey, and they are urged on only by one desire: revenge. The curse takes its course.
Greatest Glory and Deepest Sorrow
For the first time we stood facing the enemy. Still we were filled with the glory of the merciful, and so it was not difficult for us to destroy their meagre troops. Our greatest victory was the battle under the stars - and it was to remain so. But even in our moments of triumph there was disaster. Again the words of the messenger came true. In the barren mountains lay Father's broken body, burnt and spent. One last time he regarded the mighty towers that were the symbol of the enemy and ominously loomed in the distance. What was it that my father felt and recognized during this hour? Cold horror and deep understanding were in his last glance. Why did he make us renew our oath? After all he recognized the futility of our intentions. He sacrifized us one more time. His fiery soul left his broken body, just after we had spoken the oath. Nothing but ashes was left of the greatest among our people. Ashes carried away by the howling winds. My father returned to the House of Souls, before the nightmare had even begun.
Agony, Hope, Agony
Although we recognized the ruse we were unable to escape the evil intentions of our enemy. Caught, humiliated and impossible to reach, my bother was chained to a rock in the altitude of a high mountain. Desperate and exhausted he remained there, waiting in vain for salvation. The moon appeared in the skies, and with it those of our people who had been left behind in the icy deserts. Our people had suffered endless pain, and they had performed great and selfless deeds a thousand times. Proud and without fear their great throng marched through the land, and their leader hoisted his blue banner, while behind him the flaming sun rose in the sky. In front of the enemy gates their trumpets sounded out and shook the mighty towers of the fortress. The Dark Ruler had recognized his enemy, but the enemy moved away unscathed. From then on we lived separated from our own, too great was our guilt. Along with the sun the mortals or second-born appeared. The children of the sun slowly wandered towards the light and thus towards our realm.
For a brief time the wounds of our people were soothed once more. My cousin's selfless deed freed my brother from his merciless captivity. But the price was high. We had been dispossessed, but we were not without a home. The Banner of Stars had become the insignia of power for our people. During those days it seemed to us that the sad times belonged to the past. A deep friendship grew between us and our kinsmen, those who had never seen the light of the Merciful Realm. Trade and the common enemy united us with the dwarves. They never divulged anything about themselves, and they always remained strangers to me. So we lived in peace and believed ourselves to be superior to the dark enemy. Appearances were deceptive. Full of confidence we controlled the land and laid siege to the enemy. My brothers and I had found a new home, which we proudly ruled and which we defended against all attacks. It appeared easy to face the attacks of the Dark Ruler and to defeat those creatures full of fear and hate. The oath seemed forgotten. None of us still believed in the oath. We ruled the land. It only came to few of us that the storm might return, more terrible and cruel than ever before. Secretly two high-born princes created places of shelter. They felt that hope blossomed only in places hard to find. They never trusted our peace. Their foresight proved wise, yet deceptive. One last time we were to decide the attack of the Dark Ruler gloriously and in our favour. The Glorious Battle confirmed our belief that we could stand up to the Black Enemy.
The Calm Before the Storm
The siege continued, yet we still believed in our own strenght. We mistook the signs. The golden Father of Dragons, still young and distant from his later strength, had crawled from the depth of the enemy's fortress. Molded in the cruel forges he was to suffer his first humiliation. Again the heir of the High King experienced great glory. Even I was full of admiration for him. It was he who stood by us in friendship and who had forgiven the past completely. Like no other was he caught by our curse. Like no other did he suffer from the past.
Rumour and Painful Truth
What we had been hiding for so long broke out without warning. My brothers and I were condemned again. Suspicion and hate hit upon our house, although this did not disturb us at first. Driven by cold arrogance we continued to lust for stolen treasures. Our aim to win them back made everything else insignificant. Smiling tiredly we bore the aversion, if we even registered it. Lovely voices fell silent whenever I went to join in the singing of the forest elves with radiant sounds and great harmony. Outwardly unconcerned, yet in inner turmoil, I continued to sing alone, and it seemed to me as if they still listened to my singing for a short while, before they quickly disappeared into the trees without a sound. It was not difficult for me to guess the thoughts of those disappearing. My voice they loved, yet the body and soul that it belonged to they detested deeply. In this part of the world our noble language was only spoken secretly. The language of the murderers of kin.
Around the same time far away in the dark forests the Son of Disaster was born. We never spoke with one another, but were united by a similar fate. The fate of traitors. Everything inside him longed for light and love, yet he brought nothing but destruction to both. Underneath his noble skin lay undetected and well protected the seed of evil. Slowly it ripened. Suddenly and unexpectedly the people appeared. Skeptically we welcomed our younger brothers. Those late arrivals seemed too different to us. We loved the moon, they worshipped the sun. We soon realized that they were also haunted by dark shadows. Still we entered into alliances. Disaster went its course.
Panic fills me whenever I think of the waves of fire that overcame us together with the bloodthirsty armies. Soon the land was ravaged and unequalled beauty destroyed. Death made his haul. The souls of mortals embarked on a journey whose destination remained unknown. The bodies of elves lay broken and burned in the charred wastelands. Many returned to the House of Souls, to remain there bodiless until the end of times. We lost our home. Boundless was our grief and endless seemed the war. The fires did not die before the cycle of awakening brought an end to the deathly winter. Barren and devastated lay the land. The stench of disaster was to last throughout the year. The message of the bitter end of the High King took away our hopes. It was late before we heard of his glorious battle and of the wounds he had inflicted on our main enemy. With him and his own people and I had associated a better future. It became clear to us how hopeless our situation had become. There was no turning back. All our paths were barred. The yearning for our home land arose in all of us. Our glory waned with our grief. Like the colours of nature our youth faded away. We appeared weary and tired. Only few glorious deeds, accomplished during those days, survived the centuries. The friends of the elves on the other hand achieved great glory, one of them even immortal love.
Immortal Love - Eternal Curse
The inner yearning for our righteous possessions lived on and never slept. This yearning turned to greed. The pain which we continued to cause the world did not concern us. As if driven by madness we strove for the light which seemed out of our reach. Suddenly we heard strange news of beauty and wonders, which turned everything upside down: "Everything is predestined, but pure love may change even that! The prize for the most beautiful child in the world weighs heavily. The sage utters disastrous words easily. But once spoken some things may not be reversed. A mortal reaches for the stars and will pay with a hand. But the dance shall be crowned with success. Horror lies in heavy dreams, and those who are pure may touch the pure. Thus the bride may be redeemed, and even death will not separate those two. Immortality will be exchanged for uncertainty. Never underestimate the power of love." My brothers were not without part in the course of this story. They also came to experience the power of love painfully. The Merciful Land finally turned against us. We were lost. We felt reverence and fear, but the oath was stronger. A stone lay close by and gave rise to disaster.
Homeless, Without Possessions and Betrayed
Not one among us was granted the privilege of achieving truly heroic deeds, even though there were many attempts. All of them were futile. One last time we wanted to be ahead of the enemy and moved against him. Our army was powerful, but betrayal conquered us and divided the two races. Our defeat was devastating. We owe our survival of the courage of the masked ones. Bravely they helped me and my brothers to escape. Courageously the dwarves with their big battle axes stood against the dragon's breed and even drove away the Golden One from the battle-field. They were to pay bitterly with the lives of their bodies. My cousin, High King of the People, died in the hopeless battle, and with him his banner. The three houses achieved great glory, too, but many lost their lives. My brothers and I had survived, and with us the curse.