Let us tell you a tale.
≈ VII ≈
ix. The Saga of Frostwood
Mithrilon and Rhewil gathered a cache of supplies from Enedon, paid for with Mithrilon’s excess silver from the night before. He held his Fire and Luck Stones, and she the Creation Stone.
He sent a messenger dragonfly to his father with a tale of there being no Moon Elk hide to be found in the markets, so he was setting off with a guide to find it, hence the anticipated lateness of his return.
And with that, the pair set off north toward Svartalfheim.
If the dark elves were protective of their Míresgal, they had no need to guard it physically, for the land of itself did a well enough job of that.
Despite the apparent dangers of this unforgiving place, and the well-founded legends that go with them, the journey thus far had been no more treacherous than the trek from Midgard to Alfheim had been for Mithrilon on his own.
The way was made all the easier by Rhewil and the Míresgal of the light elves. Swampy lowlands grew into mats of soft, thick grass for their passing. Rocky chasms that might have taken half a day to climb down and back up again were quick enough to cross with a strong bridge of vines.
They had passed through the foothills of the Gaul Mountains into Svartalfheim, crossed the rocky peaks, and had already made good work of the descent into the sun-banished lands beyond. The light had dimmed slightly in that way that, here, at least, was the only way to tell that night was coming on.
They has just set their camp on a bluff overlooking the valley below when Rhewil spotted a fiery orange glow in the distance. Mithrilon assumed it to be a campfire, it wasn’t, not here. She knew precisely what it was. They were almost there.
In the morning, spurred on by Rhewil’s renewed vigor with end in sight, they made quick work of their descent from the bluffs. The undergrowth and trailing dead vines grew thicker as they pressed on, and night fell. Mithrilon gave a gentle rub to his red stone which summoned a flame that danced above their heads, and they did not stop until they reached the glade.
It was much like the Alfheim Míresgal glade, but far more worn by time and the elements than that shimmering moonlit place. Here the broken moonlight glowered on the crumbling walls of ancient wood and stone and here an onyx pedestal held a blazing amber stone.
His first thought was how we was going to fit a thing the size of a dog’s head in his pocket.
“Why is it so big?” he asked.
Rhewil did not answer, eyes fixed on the stone, one hand in front of her, as if absorbing the heat of a fire on a cold night.
She took a slow step closer to the stone, fingers reaching.
“Hey now, that seem like a bad idea. What did you say this one did? I think it was a bad thing.”
She took another step.
“I would quite appreciate you stopping that immediately.”
One more step.
“Now that’s quite enough!” he bellowed in panic, grabbing her hand.
She snapped to attention, meeting his eyes, but her pupils still swam. “This one is dangerous. We need to get away from here. If you’re going to take it, do it quickly.”
“What does it do again?” he asked.
“This is the Destruction Stone.”
“That, ehrm, does not sound good. And you want ME to touch it? You’re the immortal one!”
She did not answer. He still faced her, but his eye cocked over to the stone. And he felt it too. A slow, sucking draw toward the glow. His father’s voice. Warm, slender arms holding him, cocooned by a shroud of long tresses the color of silver and honey and moonless night and sunrise. The scents of fresh hay and wood fires.
With no sense of time or place, he suddenly found himself with his hand on the blazing amber stone. And it was small, the size of the others. And he was back in himself. Nothing had happened.