Me and my buddies L'thran and Elevir were out scouting around the ruins of Molvan Dún, the ancient dwarf city which had once been full of cool dwarf bars and eateries but in recent times was now played out, and boring, due to being ruined, when I leaned against an ornate carved stone wall and it turned out to be a door that opened into a secret chamber. An honest to gods secret chamber. It groaned on its hinges and an ancient light flickered into the sconces inside. I was excited, and I hollered at L’thran and Elevir to hearken to me, because it actually did not happen that often that you would accidentally open a secret door in a dwarven city. Less than you would think for sure. They helped me to regain my feet and we issued forth, arrows drawn. Upon entering the chamber we saw sacks and sacks of golden coins and various precious objects etc. and at the far end of the chamber was a sword laid upon a green stone table. When we saw it L'thran and Elevir high fived and yelled "Elves of Volhangir Scouting Party #23 rules!" and got out their elixirs of paint and began spraying the names of their fathers and their fathers' fathers on the walls.
I personally could not take my eyes off the sword, which was black, and seemed to have a black steam coming off it, and whenever I looked at it it was like I could hear chanting. I crept closer to it. There was something written on the front of the green stone table it was sitting on. "Elvendoom," I read.
L'thran and Elevir stopped hollering and spraying and came over to the table and said "what?" and I read it again: "Elvendoom". "I wonder what it means," I said. They thought that was super funny. "Ha ha ha," they laughed, "that's right, you can't read dwarven runes. Ha ha. You moron." They cartwheeled back over to the walls and sprayed some runes on the wall, which I could not read, but I imagined said something like "Galvanir skipped rune classes and can't read this". And the whole time I was standing there watching them write it I was thinking: golly does that sword look cool. I wonder what it's like to hold it. I wonder if it feels cool. So I walked up to the table, and the closer I walked the cooler it seemed, and the chanting got real loud, and the black steam seemed to steam off it more and more until it filled the room. And then when the whole room was all black with nothing in it except the green table and the black sword a demonic type of character popped up and winked at me. "Look good, don't it?" He asked. "Yep," I said. Well, it did. I'm not the type of elf to disagree on a fact on principle, demon or no.
He didn't say anything else and the silence was making me anxious so I came right up to the table and reached out a hand for the sword. And from far, far away, I heard tiny voices, voices that sounded like L'thran and Elevir, except they couldn't be because I knew I was in the same room as them and these voices sounded like they had been carried on a lonely wind from a distant mountain, and the voices were saying "nooooo" and "Galvanir, no". But I wasn't really interested in what some far off voices thought about the cool sword that was right here.
So I picked up the sword and the chanting got super loud and suddenly I felt possessed of a supernatural strength, and I thrust the sword in the air and brought it down hard and slashed and hacked and cut in a frenzy. But not a frenzy. More of an incredible choreography, one where I knew what I was doing at all times, with my blade slicing up and down and through. And the whole time I was thinking, oooooh, boy, I really hope I'm not slashing and hacking L'thran and Elevir right now, because if I am I'm going to have some explaining to do to L'thran's and Elevir's wives, not to mention scout squadron leader Agron. They are going to have some big questions as to why we entered a secret dwarven chamber instead of calling it in and bigger questions as to why I picked up an obviously cursed sword named "Elvendoom".
But I still couldn't stop slashing even though I wanted to, and everything was still shrouded in black mist, but then I noticed a silver kind of outline in the air and some wispy black things slipping through the silver outlines. And then just as suddenly my arm was tired.
I stopped slashing and the black mist disappeared and L'thran and Elevir were just standing there still as statues, looking at me, and my first thought was uh oh, I slashed them so fast they're dead but still standing up and in a moment they're going to slide to the ground like a pile of steaks. But they didn't. They unfroze and started cheering and whooping, going "Holy shit Galvanir where did you learn those sword tricks dude" and it was really the first time I could think of that they'd said something nice about my swordcraft or just me in general so I soaked it up a bit. And yes I also noticed the floating black wisps around their throats but it didn't seem like the moment to bring it up. It seemed like we were all feeling happy and relieved that we'd found this chamber of treasure and that Elvendoom had turned out to not be really about the doom of us specific elves and more of just a vibe thing.
So L'thran and Elevir decided that I should stand guard by the chamber door while they went to get help carrying the treasure and whatnot out of there. It took them a while. I was basically hanging out by myself for like six hours before the cart elves showed up with the cart to load the treasure out on. I thought there’d been a mistake. I tried to start a signal fire but I couldn’t. I tried to light a torch from the wall sconces but I couldn’t. I tried to find where I’d put Elvendoom but I couldn't. No dice. It was gone. Not that the cart elves cared. They just catalogued the treasure and carted it off.
That night there was a party in Mordhein, a goblin grotto across the river from Solongard, which is the ancient elven fortress in which we lived. We weren’t supposed to fraternise in Mordhein but what the hell. Everyone did. You couldn’t set foot in Mordhein without seeing an elf watch commander falling over himself on dandelion wine. I didn’t really feel like going because I was still tired from all the hacking and slashing, but I did anyway in case there were any hot chicks there who didn’t mind a guy who was ugly and tired. I stood in front of my polished silver shield for ages trying to arrange my perfectly straight white hair so that it covered my bald spot. At the bar I drank a dandelion wine and was about to order another when the maiden Rethringel showed up so I bought two. “My lady,” I said, sliding the dandelion wine to her, and she graciously necked it and asked why my eyes looked kind of black and hollow.
“What news from the Run?” I asked her, and she told me this crazy story about this orc slave trader they’d caught and dismembered. He was thin and screamed a lot during the process. She described the orc blood in great detail, which she knew would make me want to barf. She was not a comely maiden, but she had a spirit which I found invigorating.
Right when I was about to ask Rethringel if she wanted to come riding on my white horse, so to speak, L’thran swung into the bar with Guin, an archer he’d been tuning for a bit, and she grabbed a horn of ale from the bar and threw it to him and quick as a flash a black wisp curled around it and jabbed it at his throat and cut it. He grabbed his throat and fell in the fire and it was pretty much all over. Horrible smoke and screaming. By the time they doused him he’d bled to death. The guards came and kicked everyone out. As a member of a scouting party in a restricted area I had to go to the station, where they told me Elevir had died too. Some other kind of freak accident.
The chief hauled me into his office and asked if anything weird had happened in the treasure chamber, and I said, “gosh, I don’t know, chief. What kind of stuff,” and he said he didn’t know but anything to do with curses or magic generally. And I pretended to think about it and said nope. All normal stuff.
The next day L’thran’s widow came around and asked me why he’d been at Mordhein with Guin and I said, “oh, no, she was just there. They didn’t arrive together,” which did not make her happy. Indeed, she cursed me foully. "I knew all about them," she shrieked. "Just tell me this. When everything seemed bleakest in that room in Molvan Dún, did he call her name or mine?"
When she said that I knew I was in big trouble. She should not have known about anything being weird in the room in Molvan Dún. I got the hell out of there. I ran to the stables and bribed a squire to look the other way while I saddled up the fastest horse. As I galloped towards the city gates a platoon of archers took aim at me from the rooftops so I stopped.
At the station the chief didn't even seem interested. "It was called Elvendoom," I told him, getting annoyed that he wasn't taking my shit seriously. "Sure," he wheezed. "What do you want? You want me to sentence you to patrol the goblin mountains because L'thran died and you got conscience? Sure. Done. Get the fuck out of here."
I was cuffed by the High Bailiff and led down to the dungeons, where my cool basilisk scale armour was confiscated and I was given much shittier armour. “How’s this supposed to protect me from goblin arrows?” I whined to the quartermaster.
The next caravan for the mountains wasn’t due to leave until tomorrow night. I was staring up through the cell window, a tiny arch at foot height on the street, when Elevir rode past. He wore a fine green cloak but in the moonlight his features were unmistakable. He wasn't dead. I told the chief of the guards he wasn’t dead and she said "Sure... Sure. The guy you killed isn’t dead. Did you also not swing around a sword named “Elvendoom” in a dwarven treasure room you should have called in?”
“I beseech you, maiden. Let me take my leave!” I huffed.
I sat down on the lousy little stone bench, very uncomfortable, and popped my head back on the slimy stone wall for a snooze. I awoke to the sensation of a blade pressed against my throat. One of my least favourite sensations. It was Elevir. “Lights out,” he whispered, but I went floppy and kind of slithered down onto the ground and rolled away from him. “Don’t test me, Galvanir,” he hissed, but we both knew that I didn’t have a strong incentive to not test him. I somersaulted around the cell until he called parlay.
“C’mon, buddy,” I whined, eyeing his fleet Elvish feet warily. They were as fleet as mine, which was to say very fleet. “What about Elves of Volhangir Scouting Part #23? It’s just you and me. I’ll keep your secrets, whatever they are. I actually don’t know what they are.”
“I’ll tell you my secrets,” he hissed, which was generous of him. “L'thran and I found another tomb without you. While you were waiting like a fool, we abseiled into the furthest reaches of the Kingsdeep. We breached the halls of the great dwarven king Moint. We...”
“No way,” I said. He didn’t even pause. He kept talking about the crap they'd plundered. I don't know what. I wasn't paying attention. I was so mad they'd plundered King Moint's stuff without me, and also set me up. Why had they done it without me? Was I a loser? I thought about how the stable hands always gave me the horses that smelled like horse shit and about how L'thran and Elevir always made me carry the bags and heavy armour when we rode back into the citadel while they rode on ahead peacocking. I thought about how I always did humiliating moves like slithering and somersaulting. I guess I was a loser. Elevir saw the glum expression on my face and clicked his heels gleefully and was gone.
I got shipped up to the goblin mountains and spent a few miserable months putting low level goblin skirmishers to the sword. My heart wasn’t in it. The skirmishers would fling themselves from cliff and gully with a fury that I found enviable. I watched them fascinated as they screamed and thrashed, briefly, before I impaled them on my sword. I wondered what it took to feel that fired up about attacking someone.
One morning I was awoken early by birdsong. I looked out the stone window of my quarters in Castle Redstone and was briefly struck dumb by the beauty of the green mist that wound along the valley floor, the small black goblin outposts on the hillsides, the red light of dawn. I decided to live while I was alive. I leapt lightly down from the battlements. The watch called out “Return to your quarters, Galvanir, you fucking dumb shit.” I loosed an arrow that found its way between his eyes.
I ran down the mountain, following the river to evade trackers. At the first goblin camp I found I entered with my hands raised and pledged to serve their chieftain loyally. I showed the goblins I could drink and fight side by side with them. One night, on the first feast of Bhifkib’s Moon, I led them up the trail to the very door of Castle Redstone. We captured it without a sound. We ransacked its armoury and lit the distress beacon and lay in wait in the forest by the path. As the special reinforcement party from Solongard thundered past us up the trail we closed in behind them. We picked off half their number before they realised the trap they had walked into.
They fought furiously. Red elf blood and black goblin blood mingled on the trail. In the end only one of their party remained. His fine green cloak lay in rags around him.
“You are no goblin,” Elevir wheezed. No shit. I was like twice as tall as the goblins.
“Astutely observed, my old friend,” I said contemptuously. I threw back the hood of the black cloak I had taken to wearing. He recoiled. The blood drained from his face. “Galvanir?” he gasped.
“Nope,” I said. “The name’s Elvendoom now.” I thrust my goblin pike deep into this throat. He gurgled and fell slowly. I was glad he fell slowly. I was trying to think of a cool last line to say to him. He lay in the bloody dirt, lips moving. I couldn’t hear what he was saying. I was still thinking. His lips stopped moving but his eyes still twitched. Eventually I said “So ends your chapter.” I nudged him with my foot and I thought he flinched. So I added, “and thus continues mine.” I don’t know if he caught that bit.