It wasn't possible. The Northern Kingdom was extremely isolated from the rest of the realm, but word of a living High Elf would not be kept from Lae'Yeran knowledge for this long. The sight of a living, breathing High Elf standing before her stole her breath. As menacing as he glared down at her, a frightening grin at his lips, he still held all of the beauty of the lost race. His skin was dark, tanned, and his hair was straight and long, the darkest brown. His High Elf ears were elegantly long, extending past the length of his head, and the cold eyes were a dark mix of blue and green. The color of the stormy seas in the Wilde South.

"The High Elves were wiped out centuries ago," she whispered, Ethera's tip falling to touch the stone floor, "and the king of the Far North is dead." His cold, sickeningly amused expression didn't change as he raised his dark brows and tilted his head to the side.

"Falsity..." he mused lightly, looking off toward the ceiling and pointing toward himself, "and... lies." He grinned as he hissed the last word, pointing to himself more deliberately as his eyes shifted to burn into hers.

With a flash of steel, Enphyra barely had time to deflect the wide sweep of the Dead-King's massive sword. Stumbling back from the impact, Enphyra's arm rang as she gasped, stricken.

"Who forged that rapier, Lae Elf?" his low voice sang as he circled her with leisurely steps, "Lae'Yeran Men?" He sneered the word.

"Great Lae'Yeran Elves," she spat back, gripping Ethera with fire in chest as she swatted at the air to make her steel sing. "The king and his heir, a great man, and my fiance. And his armies will crush you, Northern Tyrant." The sound of his laugh mingled with the bite of steel. Thrown by the blow, Enphyra's breath came in a ragged gasp.

"Where is your reverence for the last remaining High Elf?" he inquired, his gaze mockingly crestfallen as his ears lower in a hurt expression.

"High Elf or not, if you are indeed the Northern King, you and your oppression will fall."

"Lae'Yera is under my fist," the beautiful High Elf whispered, "They only know what I feed their spies. And they develop the technology," he paused to kick the destroyed bits of the transportation device, "that I give them."

Enphyra shook her head. She would not believe it, she could not believe it. He was lying. "You look about... fifty-three, Lae Elf?" The grins were absent from his look, then. "Do you know how long I've lived in this realm?" She was still speechless. Enphyra felt as if her mind was on overdrive, as if she was swept up in some terribly overwhelming nightmare. She could not bring herself to meet his cold, still gaze.

"Eleven centuries. I'd say that is plenty of years to have learned exactly how to manipulate and rule this broken world." Enphyra noticed the hall had gradually collected more and more silent, staring bystanders of the stronghold. "I fought in the War of Flames," he continued, "I've witnessed the massacre of nearly my entire race. The extinction of countless species like the Pegasi, the great Dragons." Little by little, the hall had filled with bystanders, murmuring and gathering in groups to watch the spectacle of an intruder into the Dark Spire. Enphyra avoided the blank, amused, or leering stares of the crowds that encircled the edges of the hall. With a strange realization, she noticed a great number of... concubines. Male attendants dotted the mix of mainly young, beautiful, scantily clad, and scowling female servants. As the King of the North slowly made a slow, predatory stalk around her, Enphyra dodged the severe gazes of the concubines while noting a very small number of soldiers in the crowd that encompassed her and the High Elf.

"I indeed control the beloved Lae'Yera. Like a puppet, Lae Elf. Come, watch them dance for me..." Upon indication, Enphyra sighted a more finely dressed concubine approach with a dimly glowing orb. Her gaze was teasingly cat-like with amusement, and trained on Enphyra as she handed the cloudy sphere to her Lord. His gaze lingered on her swaying form with a deep smirk when she turned and strolled back to join the crowd. Deep eyes flickering back up to Enphyra's, the King of the Spire presented his possession with calm gratification. The Lae Elf shot him a hard look before taking a quick glance into the orb, double-taking after sighting what it beheld.

In the mists of the sphere, images began to manifest. Images of the kingdom of Lae'Yera, brief flashes of King Draxus glaring darkly down at a device on his table. Her heart leapt in her chest when the likeness of her fiance appeared, the normally calm and collected Common Elf upturning a table, trashing his chambers in rage. Enphyra caught herself before she could reveal a look of horror, choking down a fierce sob.

"My little ants," the High Elf sighed, his voice a low croon. Her teeth ground tightly together as she fought back tears of rage, glaring severely at the cruel king beyond his orb. The same concubine returned to retrieve the mystical item, and the King of the Spire ran a tanned hand slowly through his long hair once it was freed. Dark, straight strands fell immediately back across his stormy eyes, flowing to frame his entire face as the locks fell to pool around his broad shoulders like shadowy silk. The beauty of his race, the proud regality of his grand and ancient people was ruined by his cruelty and his tyranny.

Ethera made a silent, flashing arc in Enphyra's rage, seeking the taunting High Elf's throat. As if he sensed her sudden attack of outrage, the Dead King lifted his great weapon to send her blow glancing off harmlessly. With mounting fury, Enphyra could barely control herself as she fell on the tyrant ruthlessly. Quick as lightning, she delivered blow after blow in rapid succession. Enphyra was blind with rage as the High Elf effortlessly deflected every swift hit, and the exchange became a dance. Breathing heavily, Enphyra slowed her frenzied attacks as her fury and her energy were expelled. Sobs threatened to expose themselves in her ragged breathing as tears pricked at her eyes, and she slowed to a stop. Her arms shook as she stood unsteadily in the silence that had fallen from her outburst, the tip of her rapier resting on the floor as she gripped it with both hands. The Kind of the North smiled.

"Through?" he chimed.

With a shuddering gasp, Enphyra scarcely blocked his vicious strike. Their weapons filled the hall with a metallic song as the Lae Elf, in growing fright, barely defended herself from his powerful blows. Her elegant rapier was nothing against his massive claymore. His blows brought her to her knees, and her arms burned and stung from the great pain of the reverberations. In one final blow, Enphyra's gift from her fiance and her king shattered. Silence settled over the hall again as half of Ethera's thin blade clattered to a rolling stop on the stone floor.

She shut her eyes against the tears that slipped from them, letting the gorgeous hilt of the rapier slide out of her throbbing hands and roll across her lap to join the rest of the blade. She remained slumped in the middle of the hall, as broken as her sword, awaiting a swift strike from the Dead King to strike her down.

Instead, his tisk broke the silence.

"None can forge a sword like I. Lae'Yeran steel is nothing like that which is mined from the bowels of the northern peaks."

Enphyra gave a startled cry at the sudden grip of a hand in the hair on the back of her neck, opening her streaming eyes as she was lifted to her feet. The tyrannical High Elf held her inches from him, his hold painful as her feet left the ground slightly. She struggled to grip his arm as his rancid breath, filled with the scent of hard elven liquors, washed over her.

"Welcome to the toychest," he grinned.