The Ruins of the Greythorn Estate
The pale elf stepped through the ruined gate into the courtyard of his family property. He had not been here when the Scourge rampaged through the western side of the city. At this moment however, he couldn’t be sure if he was grateful.
Each step crunched under his feet, the crumbled stone that had once been the walls, now littered the ground. Reaching down, he picked up the remains of a flower, trampled, but still possessing a hint of the beauty it once held. With a sigh, he continued through to the main house. Azrine’s body was the first he found. She had been such a noble soul. Her proud features set in marble smooth skin. She’d had such a fire in her. He bowed his head before moving on.
In the kitchens, the staff was scattered about. Their tortured faces still looking up for help. They had tried to block the door with the tables, but judging from the claw mark in the shattered wood, the undead had torn through with little effort.
Working his way through to the library, he hung his head. So much of the family work, ruined. Setting the flower down, he lifted a small table onto its feet. Below it, the body of a small dog. They leave nothing living in their wake. Destruction and pain is all that is left behind. We should have been safe here. His thoughts were bitter, anger welling up slowly.
Jaetos was the next. Hunched in a corner, a ragged tear across he length of his face. Gilræn knelt and brushed the white hair back, trying to see the man’s face in his mind. The ache in his chest was beginning to grow tighter, as the numbers both grew…and fell. A loud shuffling behind him made his head whip around, long white hair swirling.
A bright flash of blue seared from his hands as he created a lance of ice. Hurling at the shuffling form of a ruined elf, he cursed under his breath. They are starting to rise. I need to finish. Where are the others? I must find them. He dusted himself off and moved down the halls, his pace quicker.
Creaking from a window drew his attention, the sound of wood dragging against stone along with it. Turning his head, a glow began to appear at his fingers. Bringing his hand up, he prepared to fight, but found only a broken shutter. He allowed the spell to fade as he approached the family’s private rooms. Two more servants and the form of a young child were crumpled in the corner of the hall, the tray of food scattered about, untouched.
Gilræn spotted Perden amidst the corpses of several slaughtered undead. His sword was buried in the skull of the closest one. He gave everything. At least he gave it back to them. Casting a quick spell, he created an ice barrier in the doorway and sank to the floor. His blood was pounding in his ears, as his mind fought to come to terms with what this meant. They are gone. All that’s left is to set the pyre.
He sat there, allowing himself the briefest moment to grieve. What struck him next was the realization that the soft sobs he was hearing were not his own. Looking around the room, his blue eyes found the source. An armoire had been shoved to the corner, the bed against it was piled high with random furniture and tattered clothes. What had first appeared to simply be wreckage from the fight, now proved itself to be a form of protection for someone.
Reinforcing the spells at the entrance to the room, he pushed himself up. Piece by piece, he removed things from the bed. Slowly he pushed the headboard to the side, clearing his access to the doors of the large cabinet. The lock was smashed inward, all basic attempts to open the doors failed. Placing a hand to the wood, his fingers began to shimmer. Ice crystals formed at the tips and spread across the grains. A matter of moments later and the panel was a glittering white. One good hit and it shattered like glass.
Her scream tore through the air. She was curled in on herself, trembling. Her eyes were wide, filled with horror. “NO!” She screamed. “NO! Please! Light save me, no!” His several times over great granddaughter. Tiny Niquisse, barely over one hundred years of age, reduced to a ball of pure terror.
“Niquisse….shhhh. No. It’s all right. It’s all right child. Come on. It’s Gilræn. Your cousin.” He winced a little at the lie, but it was necessary to keep his secret. He crouched down in front of her slowly. Reaching out a hand, he tried to coax her out of the armoire. “I am here. I will keep you safe. But we must be away from here.”
Niqi pulled herself further into the corner, making herself as small as possible. She shook her head, her eyes darting around. “Ann’da said to stay here. That I was not to move until he came to get me. I have to wait for Ann’da.”
At this, Gilræn shoulders fell, his eyes going dim. “Niquisse, your father…your mother…” He was cut off by the sound of scratching and thumping on the ice. “I am sorry for this, but we must flee. Now.” He lunged forward and grabbed her up into his arms. As he stood, her eyes found the form of her father on the floor. Realizing it, Gilræn pulled her face to his chest. “Niquisse, no. Don’t look. Close your eyes and do not open them until I tell you otherwise.”
“But…Ann’da! You have to get Ann’da!” she cried out. Gilræn said nothing and placed a hand against a rune on the wall. With a shudder the stone slid to the side and he squeezed through. He pushed it closed with his back and hurried down the passage. Carrying all that was left of his family, he quietly prayed that the other end was clear.
They stood in silence as the flames licked over the walls of the place Niquisse had called home for her entire life. Her face was streaked with tears as Gilræn stood behind her, his hands on her shoulders. Despite the heat pouring at them, she felt cold. The world was suddenly all wrong. The illusion of safety had been ripped from her, never to be replaced.
“Come. We should find you some clothes and a pair of shoes. We will take a room at the inn and you can have a bath.” Gilræn pulled her arm gently to get her moving. “This will all be a memory soon.”