(If you have followed the episodes, do read on. This is my gift to you for accompanying Lyra and Damin of their journey! If you haven't yet discovered this challenge, GO BACK! Click The King's Challenge/ILFIN OF ARC page and start from the beginning!)
Oh, btw, the style below is different from the episodes. The greater tale morphed and grew and became something more, something 'other')
Ilfin of Arc
Final Chapter - Part 1
THREE DAYS LATER the space surrounding Massin emptied of all vessels from other worlds, except one.
A large carrier squatted upon the plain southwest of Normur and aboard was a skeleton crew able to ferry Lord Enris Makar back to his homeworld, Makaran.
The Ilfin and Glonu had declared a truce and were in negotiation for permanent ceasefire. The final meetings would transpire in the greater spaces out there and, to that end, Empress Leffandir and His Majesty King Linus currently travelled together through those spaces. Massin was now returned to Massinians and neither Glonu nor Ilfin held future claim upon it.
It was done.
The fireball came; the fireball skipped into a new trajectory.
The spaceships arrived; the spaceships retreated.
Arc would recover in time, a haven for the natural habitants of the world. No sentient would ever set foot inside that ring of mountains again. Thus it was whispered, but the Ilfin knew how time played with memory.
Mirlin waited upon the drying sands of the plain they marched across. Rivers flowed full, but already the vegetation retreated. The dry season was upon Massin. He gazed towards the west, his face stilled. He would miss the ocean breezes there. He would miss the hot and humid summer nights in Orlean. Truth was; he would miss Massin as world. His place, however, was at his prince’s shoulder and he desired to reassume that particular space.
He glanced back to where Enris and Iniri were in conversation in the craft’s cavernous doorway, two dark heads bent together. Brother and sister were about to be parted and there was much that had been left unsaid. More would probably remain unvoiced. How alike they were, Mirlin mused.
He shifted his gaze to the young soldier standing guard at the foot of the lowered ramp. Ross had chosen to remain at Iniri Makar’s side here on Massin. Mirlin’s lips tightened. He thought the soldier would be of more use to the Makar back on Makaran, but Enris did not listen to that advice, saying he preferred transparency in the future and therefore did not require the services of a soldier able to vanish from thought and sight without even trying. Pity.
A shuttle was to remain behind for Iniri, along with its pilot, Benin, the same pilot that aided them inside Arc. Enris trusted the man to do his best for his sister. The vessel, of course, could not travel far in the greater spaces, but would be useful for communication with the homeworld. Brother and sister intended to remain connected in this time. A better equipped shuttle would return with King Linus after his abdication when he followed through with his intention to retire on Massin.
Mirlin snorted. King Linus would likely return with a small host of Ilfin and that would somewhat upset the status quo here. He shrugged a moment later; Massin was no longer his problem.
A low whine filled the region as the shuttle exited the carrier and executed a sweeping turn before settling upon the gorse a short distance away. The thrum of the drive reverberated through the drying sands, causing granules to skitter and dance. Mirlin gazed at his feet, at the fawn sand, and swallowed convulsively. By the sands, Massin had crept into his soul.
Parting was upon them.
Brother and sister embraced long before Iniri strode down the ramp with determination. Tears streaked her cheeks, but she did not look back. Mirlin noticed how Enris inhaled deeply as if searching for equilibrium.
Ross fell into step behind the daughter of his king, his face without expression.
She halted before Mirlin. “Take care of him, Mirlin. And take care of yourself as well.”
Mirlin bowed low. “I shall be there for him, have no fear. Please be careful here, my lady; many will not quite know how to regard you.”
Iniri offered a small smile. “Coltern will be with me.”
The farming commune known as Grenmassin had filled with familiar faces, among them Siri Mur and Kay Laremer. That particular parting had been the hardest for Mirlin to accept, but he understood that Kay loved Siri and therefore no travel to another world held as much allure for him than the woman he intended to spend the rest of his days with. And, indeed, the great General Coltern waited there. Iniri Makar would be safe from all harm.
“Will you remain in Grenmassin?” Mirlin asked as she was about to move on.
“Grenmassin holds too many painful memories,” she murmured in response. Drawing a breath, she stared into his eyes, her two-eyes bright in the sunshine. “Thank you for saving my life, Soul Keeper.”
He reached out and took her hands into his. “You saved mine first, my lady.”
She gave him a quizzical look. “You called Lyra highborn before you knew she is me. How did you know?”
“Nobility is a state of being, an inherent characteristic. You cannot unlearn the lessons of a long past even when reborn as a country girl.”
Iniri smiled a final time, squeezed his hands, and then went on walking with Ross beside her. Together they entered the shuttle, neither looking back, and minutes later the small vessel took to the skies.
How final it felt.
Retracing his footsteps over the sands, Mirlin returned to the carrier and joined Enris at the head of the ramp. For long moments they stared at each other, both aware of how wrenching the parting was, not only from loved and familiar faces, but from a world that had nurtured them until the endgame befell them.
“There is one final task I must attend to,” Enris murmured.
Of course there was. Mirlin waited without speaking.
Shaking his head, Enris grunted, “How patient you are, Mirlin Moranth. Your presence brings to me clarity of thought.”
Mirlin simply lifted one eyebrow and, rolling his eyes, Enris brought forth the orb. He had told Iniri it remained with her twin in the spaces beyond perception, but he lied. The orb ever remained with the one needing it most and, at the time of seeking escape from that otherworldly space, Enris needed it more than Iliri Makar did and thus it returned to him.
The sphere rolled slightly upon his palm as he extended his arm to the empty plain.
“Choose,” Enris whispered and it burst into emerald brilliance.
Holding his breath, Mirlin watched it in fascination, wondering how it would choose.
The glow lifted from Enris palm and hovered before the Makar heir at eye level. It bobbed twice and thereafter hurtled towards the plateau as a streak of green light.
Open fingers fisted as Enris watched it leave.
“She does need it more,” Mirlin said.
“Will she be aware of it?”
“No, not unless there is danger for her.”
“Coltern will be with her, my prince.”
Enris smiled. “Thank the stars.”
Both shrugged then and turned their backs to the plains.
The march was envisioned; the long march ended in every manner conceivable. It was done.