War of Serpents, The Legend of Arandil Eldros
In a time only seen in imagination, gods walked with earthly feet. What they dreamt of the world came to pass. From their biers and realms, they shaped all that has ever been with mere breaths of power. They were limitless in their desires to sculpt and create for the creatures of earth, air, water, fire, and spirit a place to call home. Many of the infinite claimed favored forms to do this work, taking great pains to not appear in etheral might. For humanity was fragile as it was small, and speaking with a god could twist and turn one such as man, Khord, or Sylvari into the nothingness of night's void.
To best observe and enact their will, they became spirit, animal, element, and man itself. They appeared in visions. They spent entire lifetimes among the youthful races of Audalis. Each carried within their hearts and minds the deepest of desires. Whether light or dark was not of importance, until the day Tyrannis decided to join the world of man and beast. For the Corruptor, to take the form of man, beast, and element was not one she wished. To gain what she dearly sought, the dark lady took the form more apt to a power such as herself.
She became legend, myth, the tales whispered in the night between parent and child, lover and loved. The passed breaths became a myth, which grew to legend, and finally was accepted as a tale. For the mistress of evil wished never to beg from the table but to own its bounty. Tyrannis loved many things. And what she loved could never remain pure, but twisted like serpents upon themselves in a mating of wrathful malevolence and vile darkness. So too did her myth, now a tale, turn the world until the fear, anger, and treachery of it brought forth enough belief to give her form. Stronger than her divine brethren, Tyrannis entered the world. The serpent that devours itself in greed. The seductress that tempts all fates into oblivion. The vile keeper of hives filled with the horrific children of black deeds and tainted love. The dangerous whispering of the deep places. She was terrible and vile to all peoples, a shapeless horror given a glorified form that struck down the strongest of heart and wisest of visionaries. Her power laid waste to all creations. In frightened pain, the people called out to the gods. But their voices could not be heard. Tyrannis had grown too strong; their fear of the dark mistress shadowed their love of the light. What could humanity do in the grip of a god's wrath, a diety's attentions?
It needed leadership. It needed faith. And in that mystical land of golden forests and fae folk did a Sylvari man appear to become a legend. Arandil Eldros of the Misted Vales of the Sylvarian Forests. Long had this gardener tend the trees sacred to his kind in the forests of the Sylvari. Arandil, a devoted disciple of Kith-Jora, lover of Solinari's giving light, seeker of Lysora's honeyed tears, watched over the saplings that grew, the mighty trunks that rose, and the shimmering leaves that returned with each passing season. His love of the land took him to the brightest of new growths along the Dui Shee Dalnya (River of Fairy Footprints), the oldest of titans near Lote-Ishatel (Flower Castle), and the most magical of woodlands near Malmallen (Golden Circle). His eyes and heart caught up the life and love bound within the everblooming, everlifting light. He, like so many, never thought to see the day the shadows would dwell even in the piercing light of Solinari.
But that day did come. In the lands of Maelamin, a nation bound in music and guarded by the dancing warriors of that song, a chill breeze pervaded the glades and woods. It passed the cheek of Arandil, but it did not leave. It wove around him until it seemed the harsh whiteness of the far Chakran Mountains had covered him in a blanket too terrible to move. The tenderer, unknowing of the destiny that laid before him, wandered along that chill breeze until he reached its torrential beginning. Moritaur, the Darkwood. Long had spirits, baleful and angry, shivered and shook around the boles of the ancient trees. But now, their voices could be heard. Tari'ele 'kshnierwes el'sinome...Tari'ele 'kshnierwes yelir'llie... The Queen of the Evil Hive is here...The Queen of the Evil Hive calls you all...
Arandil covered his ears and shut his eyes. He was a gardener, a lover of the light places, walker of meadows, singer of songs. This was not his song, not his message, not his dream. And dreams did come as he was struck time and again. The spirits rushed forth, the drones of her hive, seeking to invade his mind and drive his spirit down the dark paths they followed. And like Kith-Jora, this Sylvari man, not a lord nor a warrior, fought for his very existence at a precipice of Tyrannis' dark intent. She shimmered and shone like the leaves of his wood in the dark of twilight. She called and promised visions and delights. Armed only with his sanity and will, memories of the past, dreams of the future, he fought. Arandil trembled at seeing the edge, but when the final urging rose to lie with the Dark Lady, he turned away. He was sickened by her desires and despair as he was of the trees fallen to rot and death. She screamed her rage. She pleaded her need. But nothing would turn him. Instead of rearing an ally, she created an enemy. And bringing up the light of his belief, he called upon the anger of Kith-Jora, the love of Lysora, the strength of Solanis and smashed it into the ground.
The spirits and their trees shrank back, ending their continued walk forward. And Arandil, he stood holding a gleaming spear tipped in sunlight, gleaming with burning tears, and hefted upon strong ashenwood. A gift of the gods for their chosen warrior. Many months past, and a new legend emerged, built upon a tale, that in time would become a myth. Arandil appeared in the court of Sillarion Sornion'Enrai, the Aerie of the High King. And here among the squabbling of nobles and the poltiking of the powerful, a warrior of light appeared to drive back the dark, destroy corruption, and wage war upon the Dark Lady.
Battles waged in courts, on battlefields. Humans, cunning of mind, brought their agents of war, grand armies in seaworthy galleons. Khoraldrum, strong of arm, brought their tools of destruction, weapons of unparalleled beauty and ancient secrets of the deep. The Sylvari, passionate of faith, brought their knowledges of endings and beginnings, terrible magics and the hands to wield them. Others arrived, with dreams and visions. And together they set sail for the bowyer of the Dark Lady, Cirel Naukot of Cepasha.
Waves as tall moutains threatened their voyage. Many were lost. Far more made land. Beasts and peoples of strange form, alien to the armies, fought them step-for-step to the mountain's base. Numbers fell, but onward Arandil and his forces pushed. And rising over the volcano's edge, a union of warriors, priests, and mages made their way to the fiery land of Tyrannis. She rose above them, a serpent made of molten earth and steel. Diamonds were her eyes. Gouts of flame her arms. The group cowered despite the stoniness of their hearts or the devout love of their faiths. All but one.
Arandil had long since faced this darkness. And it is here he recalled the words softly spoken, the question pressed to him. In the darkened wood of Moritaur, raising his hands, the tribunal brought forth his soul into their judgement. Whilst thou give thy life to service? Faith has delivered you unto us. And your strength is commendable. But to accept rest now will only deliver those you love dear and those you have yet to know into her hands. Would you accept eternal rest knowing those you left behind would tremble and fall in the wake of darkness' seas?
"No," he whispered then as he spoke now. "I will not allow them to fall."
The three moved and touched him again, as they did then, so did they now. "Then take up thy mantle, Arandil. Take up thy faith as a spear. Splay thy heart as a shield. And join us in your eternal duty."
Raising the spear in the dying embers of day, Aradil threw with all of his anger, love, and devotion. The thoughts and memories filled him and shot forth as did that weapon, smiting Tyrannis, felling her. And as she screamed, so too did Arandil. And as she tumbled into the roiling pitch of the mountain's fury, so too did he. The companions cried out their heartache. And the three of earth, heart, and light appeared to each of them through the fragments of the spear.
"Fear not, for Arandil shall always remain vigilant. Believe. And never forget."
And as the light shone its last, night visited them in the form of twilit blues and purples with stars shining in gleaming silver. No longer did Tyrannis' shadow cover the land. And among the stars now shown a warrior, keeping the way barred between this world and the lands of the gods. Arandil Eldros, Hero of the Serpent War.
Thanks to Yanamari for this contribution!