Allow me to start by saying that I never meant for this to happen. I never intended to stray from the path I originally set out on, it just seems as though things worked out that way. I'll admit that I was never the best of children, but I did what I could to get by. My habits were ultimately out of my control, though I won't be selfish and state the slate walls of Dunmoore were ultimately what drove me to act out. I am an elf after all, and not one of the good ones that roam the high halls of Sunseeker City. However, I will say that I wasn't the one who came up with the stupid plan in the first place and that I tried to make sure that everyone got out. Sadly, that wasn't the case, and I got out alone. Allow me to say that despite my status as a dark elf, or more properly a 'Nahl'shalrei', I had always intended to live an honest life.
Now allow me to state that everything that I, Zelaira Kerrigan Darksong, have said until this point are nothing more than a pack of lies. I was the one who came up with the idea to steal that princeling's pet, I was the first to bolt, and I made sure that the idiots who came along with me died before they could even risk being caught. I've never intended to live an honest life, in fact the only thing I actually said honestly was that I won't blame my behavior on Dunmoore. Shallow and dark though the slate walls of that fortress once were, it wasn't the city that drove my descent. It was my ambition, and my desire to see this world burn for the hell of it.
But I digress. After all, there isn't too much a notoriously evil bard such as myself can do from behind a force field inside a magical prison designed to hold the world's most vile criminals. I'll admit, Kolkar isn't the most inhospitable place. The food is good, the entertainment is less so, and the company is perhaps the worst part. However, I have seen worse. Granted, things would be much, much better had I my precious harp, but I doubt these Silver Order folks will grant me anything that I'd be able to use to undo the enchantments surrounding me.
They could definitely do to fit the attitude of the guards though, I'm tired of getting leers reeking of both anger and lecherous intent. Thankfully the humans in this place seem to understand that they'll have to pull down the force field in order to get to me. Which means I can piss them off all I want and they can't do anything.
In case you're wondering… yes, that's exactly what I'm doing. In fact, that's what I have been doing for the last decade.
"Oi, oi! Fat ass!" I shouted, directing my rude comment to the heavy-set guard walking past my cell. He visibly sighed, and a smirk quickly spread across my lips. He didn't look over, but I knew he could see the bright crimson glow of my eyes peering out from the darkness of this cell at him. In truth they were sapphire, but Nahl'shalrei are notoriously sensitive to magic. There was enough arcane magic in here to kill a hex toad, which is why my eyes had taken on their red shade.
"I know you can hear me, Ton'ta," I continued taunting, referring to the guard this time with the Nahl'shalrein equivalent to what I'd called him moments before. I saw his grip tighten on the lance he carried, which only further provoked me. I leaned forward, crawling on hands and knees into the light as I continued speaking.
"Who'd you have to suck off to get a job here? I know just as well as you do that someone of your gait is better suited to steel pressing over guardwork." A low blow, even by my standards, but it got the result I wanted. His gaze finally flickered over to me, and even though he was visibly pissed I saw his breath catch. The expected response, considering both my attire and my appearance. See, Dark Elves are just that. We're dark. Though our skin tone is decidedly more of a very dark purple than anything. Black hair and eyes ranging in various hues. Green, silver, and purple being the most common. Of course, as stated mine were currently crimson. My black hair, long enough that it fell down past my hips when I was standing, was resting on my back almost haphazardly, strands falling down to my sides. My attire, again, didn't help him much either.
Kolkar prisoners weren't exactly given the most conservative outfits. Granted, I was special due to being an elf. And I mean that in the racist sense. See, the goody two-shoes high elves were treated as equals, but Nahl'shalrei? No. We were animals in comparison. Which is exactly why my outfit left little to the imagination. It was an outfit, yes, and I liked the creativity, but the placement of the giant treble clef on my torso was a little too close to revealing certain things for my tastes.
Of course, my taunting got the expected- and dare I say desired - result. He clicked his tongue, muttered a rather racist slur under his breath, and approached my cell. Yes, yes, that's right. Come a little bit closer. I could feel the anticipation buzzing within me, the strands of magic wrapping themselves around my fingers. See, Nahl'shalrei were a strange breed. Whereas our good-for-nothing, light-cursed brethren were more interested in swinging around chunks of metal and engaging in meaningless politics, Dark Elves had been the result of those in opposition to that path.
Those that had sought magic over might, and had turned their backs on the sun because of it. In my strange case, I'd always had more control over magic then my peers. Always feared, always respected. I could bring men to their knees with a wave of my hand, end lives with a snap of my fingers. But only when the conditions were right.
And right now? All I needed was the barrier in front of me lowered. The Silver Order gave less than a single shit what the guards did to the prisoners, so long as nobody escaped. It was more so for the 'inhuman' prisoners, such as myself. I sneered at the guard as he strode over to the control panel, keeping up the arrogance that I exuded with so much ease.
"And what are you doing?" A voice range out. I cursed sharply under my breath, the recognition of that annoying, cocky drawl bringing me back out of my mana-starved train of thought. Oh well, I'll just have to get the next one, I thought. The guard stepped sharply back away from the panel, caught red-handed but still more than confident in his position.
"The prisoner was being incredibly disrespectful, Warden. I was intending to teach her a lesson." The guard said, which elicited a laugh from the Warden. I wasn't surprised. The Warden was Ral'shalrei. In layman's terms: a filthy fucking High Elf. I saw the plated hand of the Warden place itself upon the guard's shoulder, and that annoying voice rang out again.
"She has visitors, so hold off on disciplining her until later."
Well, at the very least I wasn't getting beaten immediately. That did little to improve my sour mood, however, and I pulled my legs up into a seated position as I glared in the direction of the voice. There was the sound of multiple other sets of plate boots landing on the smooth, enchanted stone floor, and the sound of muttering. I narrowed my eyes, which only glowed a bit more brightly as a result. See, for most prisons visitors weren't too uncommon. But this was Kolkar. And I was a Dark Elf. I didn't get visitors, and those that would've come to see me would've been turned away. I wasn't afforded that privilege, so whoever had come to see me was important.
Not to mention I was in Tower Xiz, which was the furthest tower from the main complex. The worst were kept here, apparently. Which only compounded the absurdity of the situation. See, if I were human I'd have gotten a nice, cushy cell in Kolkar proper. But because of the fact that I wasn't I was here in a bare stone cell with an arcane wall and guards constantly mocking me.
Which is why what happened next was so funny.
The Warden stepped into view, his pale skin and pointed ears matching tawning hair and eyes that had long since been drained of their magical glow. I sensed nothing but weakness from him, and it infuriated me to no end that such a worthless man had been offered such a place of authority. Following closely behind him were three other individuals, each in plate armor that shone brightly in the magical light cast from much higher in the tower. The ringleader was human, a man of no more than twenty-four summers if I was judging correctly.
Flanking him were two individuals of a nature that caught me slightly off guard. The one to his left, shrouded to keep out of the light, was of a species I had thought nearly extinct.
Kodal'shalrei. Duskfallen. Night Elf. One from the deepest reaches of the Nahl'shalrein ancestral home. Our city. The sight filled me with such a swarm of emotions that I'd be lying if I said I didn't almost start crying. Skin almost as dark as night came to match eyes of such an enveloping purple you felt as though the void itself were staring back at you. Not only that, but the Duskfallen in question was female as well. Humans and High Elves were every bit as sexist as they were racist, so the fact she was standing beside one a human in a position of obviously equal standing was almost baffling. They wore the same armor as well, the hood over their head pulled where their ears threatened to almost puncture the cloth.
The individual on the other side of him was much smaller, of a skin color that was almost a mix of mine and the human's. The sight of her made my skin crawl. She wore no helm, and the plate she wore was more sparse. A gauntlet enveloped her left arm up to the elbow, a strange contraption that I couldn't quite make full sense of. All I knew was that I could sense power from even beyond the barrier, which meant it was something far more potent than magic.
The Warden was very obviously uncomfortable with at least one of the two. Fitting, considering he was one of those responsible for killing almost every Duskfallen in existence. I leaned back, planting my hands on the stone behind me as the four approached my cell. The Warden motioned for the barrier to be taken down, and I narrowed my eyes as two other guards appeared to aim their lances at me the moment the barrier was removed. The human leading the strange group of knights raised a hand.
"Please tell your guards to lower their weapons, Warden. Such hostility will only make this harder," He said. There was a calm authority to his tone, and the Warden consented after a moment of obvious deliberation. The damnable High Elf waved his hand, and the lances fell to aim their points to the ground before sharply coming up and returning to aim at the ceiling before the guards departed unceremoniously.
I spoke first, my gaze fixed on the Dusfkfallen. "Kodal'shalrei. Tox kei mozo kat'rite?" What are you doing here, Night Elf? She watched me for a moment before smiling. Responding simply in a dialect of the language that the Warden couldn't possibly understand. "Koso dal'zai bunei." My gaze only narrowed further. 'Getting you out.' And how exactly did they plan on doing that? This was Kolkar.
The human seemed to understand every word of it, and smiled at me before speaking. "My name is Jace Wincroft. These are my companions, L'rei," he gestured to the Night Elf, "and Shizuka." He gestured to the mix breed, who simply stared up at me. I could sense power from within her, such that made my skin crawl. Her shirt was cut low, such to leave her shoulders bare, and it was there that I spotted a brand on the right side of her chest, just below the collarbone.
"Zelaira Darksong," I replied gracefully from my spot on the floor before following up instantly in a tone sharp as a blade. "What do you want with me?"
The room fell silent, my sudden and rather blunt hostility clear as day as Jace cleared his throat and replied. "My organization has been… monitoring, your progress within Kolkar for some time now, and there's something we'd like to confirm."
"And that is?"
He smiled and looked over to Shizuka, who merely nodded before raising her left hand towards me and closing her eyes before speaking.
"Oh father of worlds, guider of paths
Release from us the sins of our pasts
Let light turn to dark, and dark to light
And grant to us, true sight at last."
There was a pop in the air, and I registered the feeling instantly. It was a magic-dampening spell. Short range, such as that it only affected the area I was in. It was targeted as well, and aimed specifically at the energies that swarmed innately within Kolkar. Power such that I hadn't felt in ages surged back through me, and I stood slowly to my feet. I felt lighter, much lighter, and I looked over myself as I felt my own magic come surging back to me. My eyes lost their crimson glow, and I closed them for a moment before letting out a happy sigh. I opened them again, sapphire glow cutting through the air before dimming down to a reasonable level as my magic settled back within my bones.
I had been wrong. That wasn't a magic-dampening zone spell. It was a Magic Curse Cure spell. Kolkar prisoners were forced to take certain potions when they entered, one of which caused each of those in here to contract a specific Curse that stole from us much of our magic. Jace let out a low whistle, and L'rei's smile only grew.
"The High Seer was correct," Jace said. "You are indeed the one we've been looking for."
"Now hold on a minute," The Warden interjected, stepping over towards Jace. "Be that as it may, she's too dangerous to be simply let out into the world."
"Oh, and why might that be, Warden? Because she's a Dark Elf?" Jace replied, a degree of sass in his tone that I hadn't heard anyone take with the Warden. I could crush him, I realized. I had the power in that moment to kill the Warden, to take revenge for the years of torture. I was drawing power from Kolkar itself at this point, pulling and twisting the arcane energies. My eyes turned slightly crimson, the two colors dancing in my eyes as I glared at the weak elf.
As if sensing my thoughts, L'rei turned to look at me before shaking her head slowly. Don't do it, her eyes said. I let my magic answer for me. Why not? After all he's done to us? All the lives he'd taken. I flexed the fingers of my right hand, not completely realizing what I was doing before I felt a hand on my shoulder. I blinked, reality coming back into focus as I looked over at the half-breed standing next to me.
I clicked my tongue in annoyance, releasing my hold on the magic around me before crossing my arms and giving a pointed look to Jace. He noticed it quickly, thank the gods, and responded with a raised eyebrow and an unspoken query in return.
"I want my harp."
The look on the Warden's face right at that moment would've curdled cheese. I fully expected to be turned down, of course. After all, my harp was to me what a staff was to a wizard or warlock: a focus. It helped me better control my spells, and even allowed me to cast a good two dozen other ones. Which is exactly why the Warden's expression, coupled with his incredulous look at Jace's response, was so funny.
"Alright. Warden, would you mind retrieving it for us?" Jace's words carried a nonchalance to them that I couldn't help but admire.
"Lord Wincroft, with all due respect-" the reply was cut off sharply by none other than the half-breed. The girl spoke with a voice far more authoritative than anything the Warden could muster, and her tone itself was rife with annoyance.
"Shut up and grab the damn harp. We don't have time to listen to the dejected moans of a High Elf far past whatever prime he might've had." The room fell into stunned silence as the gazes turned to the Branded girl near me. Her eyes, fierce and gold in color, glared daggers at the Warden as she flexed her hand within the bounds of the gauntlet she wore. The Warden blinked for a moment before returning the glare and leaving the room with a grumble.
I couldn't help but crack a smile out of respect for the half-breed's gall.
"Must you be so rude, dear Shizuka?" Jace said, an air of exasperation in his voice as he pinched the bridge of his nose and turned to look over at her.
She shrugged. "We both know he wasn't going to get it otherwise. He's a high elf, Jace. One in a position of some supposed authority as well. Never trust them to do things without a threat being dealt first."
At the very least, she was fully aware of the code of survival when it came to those members of 'humanity'. You expected little, and demanded everything. They never listened otherwise. I nodded in a sage-like manner as the attention turned to me.
"While he's off retrieving your instrument," Jace started, "I suppose it is only respectful for me to inform you of who we are. Professionally speaking, at the least."
I scoffed. "You're treating me like I'm human, Lord Wincroft." I emphasized the title reflexively, unable to hide the slightly mocking tone in my voice. He didn't seem phased at all by it, and instead smiled at my statement.
"That's because in my eyes, you're no different than we are. My companions and I represent an organization beyond the grasp of the Human or High Elf kingdoms."
My eyes narrowed slightly, suspicion creeping into my mind as I replied. "And that organization of yours wants me why?"
"We've received reports of a matter you're no doubt intimately acquainted with, alongside our leader receiving a vision two moons ago in which you, Lady Darksong, starred prominently as a hero."
My skin bristled at the noble title with which he addressed me. Something about being referred to as anything other than scum made my skin crawl, as though I was being manipulated. There was also the hero bit, and I told him as such.
"Last time I checked, this was Kolkar. Not some farm on the outskirts of Vothgard. That aside… what's the name of this organization of your's?"
Jace straightened slightly, becoming very much the image of the self-serving heroes I've heard so much about over the course of my lifetime.
"Ectei ka'Nahl," He said after a moment, his Elvish spoken in an almost stifling human accent. However, it was clear enough for me to understand.
The Dark Order. I almost laughed at the absurdity of it. However, I knew full well the symbolism behind that name.
"I trust that isn't your public name," I stated.
"Correct," L'rei responded. "The public name for the order is Ectei ka'Tena. Order of Legends, in the common tongue."
I nodded to the Duskfallen. "That makes much more sense. Though the symbolism of the true name isn't lost on me. That much I can assure you."
To live in the light meant to cast a shadow far larger than yourself. It is that fact that the bureaucrats living in the gilded towers had forgotten. By naming their order as they did, and doing so in the Elven tongue, they were essentially putting a crosshairs on the entire social structure of society.
And here I'd thought my luck had run out.