A long time ago, in the little village of Cartalia, there was an older woman, whose name was Cynthia Rose, whose heart was supposedly as cold as ice. She, even though, according to legend, she had no warm thoughts, always gave to the needy. Wintertime was her time to shine in the time of giving. Everybody always wondered how she created all the gifts she gave to the children, until one day, she decided to officially appoint a successor.
Her name was Aria. She had always been interested in all aspects of Cynthia’s work. Aria had made it her mission to discover how everything was done from the young age of seven. This young lady was seventeen now and knew more than anyone else. Cynthia was growing older, now being eighty-nine, and needed to teach a successor her ways so they may continue. Aria was her chosen successor. Aria knew more than anyone else about Cynthia, but there was still one thing she didn’t know. How did Cynthia make her ice sculptures for the children?
“Aria Anne? Where are you, darling?” Cynthia called out through her home in her small village home.
“I’m here Miss. Cynthia. What services do you require today, ma’am?” Aria asked with the utmost respect in her voice and a slight curtsey.
“Today is the day you learn everything. Are you ready to make a trip? We have a long ride ahead of us.”
“Yes ma’am, “she exclaimed, more so excited than nervous of what she would find. “How much farther are we going? I still have chores around the house to do and have to tend to the horses and other animals before lunch.”
“You don’t have to do any of this today. We’re taking the horses, anyway. Feed them so they have energy for our trip. We leave at dawn.”
The snow was starting to fall as they left for their long trek to The Clearing. Aria did not have any understanding what she was in for and Cynthia hoped she could handle the truth.
“Yes, Miss. Cynthia?”
“Are you sure you can handle the truth?”
“What truth? Don’t I already know the truth?”
“You only know certain parts of the truth. I’m thinking I should explain on the way so you have time to cope with your newfound knowledge.” Cynthia Rose pondered her options and decided to tell her now, but Aria stopped her just before she could begin.
“Ma’am. With all due respect, I can handle a lot more than you would believe. I coped through the death of my mother to cancer, the death of my father by murder, and the death of all of my siblings and friends my famine. I believe that I can handle a little more information.” Aria explained, immediately regretting her decision to speak her mind. “I am sorry ma’am. I had no room to-.” Cynthia cut her off.
“You have had a troubled past. You have the right to have an opinion. You have suffered more in the last ten years than most people will in a lifetime. We have the right to opinions more so than the others.” Cynthia stopped talking and looked away as if she would cry and didn’t want to be seen.
“Ma’am? What about your past troubles you at this point in time?” Aria asked, trying to see if she could calm Cynthia down and find out what happened that could trouble her this much given that Cynthia was normally an emotionless person.
“I had the same life as you, Aria. Except, my father died of cancer, and someone murdered my mother when I was eleven. Disease killed all of my friends, and I had no siblings that survived infancy. As my predecessor was. She had the same life as you. Exactly the same. It goes down the line, and each generation gets slightly more tragic. There is no blood relation to any of the heirs. They choose you so that you can have a chance at a better life and you can help others be better as I have done.”
“The what?” she exclaimed believing she had misheard.
“The elves. The ones that control the weather. The winter ones are the first ones you will meet. You will be my full-time apprentice for the next three years until I retire and you can take over my legacy.”
“Ma’am, again, with all due respect, are you, um…, on something? None of this makes any sense. How could there be elves? That defies all theories of science and everything else?” she continued on until Cynthia began to get more annoyed with her.
“Aria, don’t doubt me. I doubted it at first. They aren’t a fan of doubt. Just wait and see and you will believe me.”
“But-,” she was cut off.
“I don’t want to hear it, Aria. Just stop and enjoy the scenery on our trip. Let’s travel in silence for a while.”
Aria didn’t complain, and they traveled forward in silence.
“Ma’am, are we almost there?” Aria asked after the three-hour trip from Cynthia’s home in Cartalia to what seemed to be the middle of nowhere.
“We’ve been here. We haven’t moved in twenty minutes.”
“But the horses are still walking, ma’am. What is going on?”
“They were judging your perceptiveness before they showed themselves. Seems you have more to learn than I’d expected. Well, nothing to worry about. You will learn in due time.”
“Oh,” she responded, disappointed in herself. “I’m sorry to disappoint.”
“Nothing to be ashamed of. You know more about some of the other important things you need to know. Perceptiveness is an easily learned skill with the right teachers.”
“Teachers? Who else will teach me? You are the only one here.” Aria questioned.
“We will,” spoke a booming voice from the bushes behind Aria.
Aria whipped around and looked towards where the voice was coming from. “Where are you?” Aria asked, unable to see where this person was.
“You can’t see them?” Cynthia asked, confused.
“Um, no ma’am. I cannot see anything.” Aria then added, “Should I see where the voice is coming from?”
What Aria could not see was that there was a slight army of a hundred or so elves, of all different sizes and colors, all surrounding them.
“Hello Meira, Faunalyn. How are we doing on this lovely day?”
“Good, and you, your highness?” Meira responded. “How did you come across this apprentice? She cannot see us. Does she not follow the proper protocol for apprentices?”
“She does, just as the queen before me,” Cynthia responded.
“Queen?” Aria asked, bewildered. “There is nobody there, how are there voices coming from thin air? Did you drug me?”
“Would you like me to grant her a temporary view of our world as I did for the queen before you, your highness?”
“Yes, please. And make it longer than a day or two. She has much to learn before she can see on her own.”
“As you desire, your majesty.” And with that being said, Meira walked towards Aria, and with a flick of her wrist, made a swirling motion over Aria’s head, and then slowly moved her index finger, and lightly touched it to her forehead.
“Uin fuin, cin will see i galad,” Meira spoke.
In front of Aria’s eyes, a blinding light that only she could see appeared, causing her to see hundreds of figures around her through the blinding light.
Aria looked around her, slightly terrified by the new beings surrounding her. “Where did these creatures come from?” she asked bewildered.
“They have been here the whole time, Aria. You have much to learn before you will be ready to rule,” the queen stated.
“Yes, ma’am.” Her head drooped.
“Don’t be ashamed of yourself sweetheart. We begin your training now.”
“Zeno, come here please,” she said looking directly at an elf in the front row of the battle force.
“Your Highness, would you like us to assemble the guard for battle training or would you like us to begin with control of the elemental troops?” Zeno asked.
“Ze, how lovely to see you. How was Alfheim? And teach her control first. She would be better off learning to control and then battle.”
“As you desire, madam. Alfheim was an enjoyable time other than my parents no longer being there,” Zeno spoke this as he bowed and backed away.
“Ma’am,” Aria questioned. “What is Alfheim?”
“Alfheim is one of the Norse mythological realms. One of the nine, to be exact.”
“Oh. Will I be learning more about Norse mythology during my training?”
“Of course, miss. Most of your elves come from Alfheim. Then you have the occasional visit from the gods and the occasional threat from the ice giants. Loki has been a pain over the last few years, well, his versions of himself given they still lock him in a cave with snake venom constantly dripping onto his face.”
“Holy cow. Ok, ma’am. I will do my best to learn.”
“Thank you. Off you go. Ze, take care of my apprentice.”
“Yes, your majesty.”
“For now, I must travel back to Midgard. I have work to do in the village.”
“Will you be returning tomorrow to see her progress?”
“Not until Saturday. That gives me three days to set up the systems to take care of themselves so we can stay for a longer time this time, unlike when I was being introduced to the job. That was a difficult event, trying to learn everything in two days. For now, farewell and good luck. I shall see you on Saturday, Aria.”
“Yes, your majesty. Good luck and see you soon. Safe travels.”
“So, may I ask, where are we going?” Aria asked questionably. “What are we going to do?”
“We begin your training now.”
“Look at this leaf. Focus on the energy as the water falls onto the leaf from the clouds above. Do you feel it?” Ze asked, curiously.
“I do,” she exclaimed, excitedly. “This is a first!”
“Now, I want you to control the rain elves and make them stop the storm. Focus on stopping the energy in this main area for now, and then we will try to strengthen the connection.”
Aria looked at the leaf, partially taking notice of how many elves were standing around her, seeming intent on not letting up the rain.
The rain began to slow, not much at first. It started off from going from a downpour on the leaf to heavy rain. Then to a light, sprinkle, and then finally stopped altogether.
“How did it feel to control that?” Zeno asked.
“It felt…odd. I’m not sure I did it right,” she said, pessimistically.
“You did it better than most newcomers. Faster than I would have expected for a beginner, but altogether you did it correctly.
“Is that really a good thing or are you having a go at an attempt to make this seem okay?”
“It is fine. We will work on this skill, along with the rest that will come in time.”
“For now, we must rest. We have been doing this for hours.”
“We only did this once. How did we spend hours? It’s been five minutes.”
“Alfheim time is different. Good news for you, anyone who enters Alfheim will automatically change to their times, and you will be tired shortly.”
“We’re in Alfheim?”
“Yes,” Ze spoke, then adding, “Now, go get some rest.”
Aria awoke to a deafening sound of an eagle shriek. How strange she thought. What would an ordinary eagle be doing in a place such as this?
“Yes, Miss. Aria?”
“Why is there an eagle sounding in the valley below? Surely there are no eagles in Alfheim.” By the time she had finished what she was saying, she was already walking away. This caused a need for Ze’s comments.
“Excuse me, darling? I cannot hear. I must see your lips the entire time you speak to me. Would you be able to repeat that?”
“You’re deaf?” she questioned.
“Yes ma’am, I am. Now, you were saying?”
“There is an eagle in the valley below. Its call awoke me this fine morning.”
“There has not been an eagle in this realm for some time, since the last time that the Greek gods appeared in our realms.”
“Greek gods are real now too?” she exclaimed.
“All of the gods are real. The same as the Romans, who were the opposite of their Greek selves, and of course the Norse gods. We get visits from light projections of Loki upon occasion in his attempts to terrorize us.”
“This is unbelievable. How does all of this exist at once?”
“Just as the inhabitants of Midgard have believed for millions of years, there are many gods, and when a new one is created, the old ones are not destroyed, just less important to the people of Midgard.”
“Okay. This is insane.”
“It will only seem insane for the first few times you do it, but then it will become natural for you, as it has for everybody before you.”
Aria couldn’t tell, but Ze was beginning to worry that Aria was more like the queen before Cynthia that he would have thought. That particular queen was a first of her kind. She was a child of Hermes, the Greek messenger of the gods. This one, she seemed stronger than Andromeda was. And significantly more powerful, like a stronger god had birthed this one and subconsciously trained her with some of her powers before leaving her on her own.
Suddenly, Aria dropped to the ground with what seemed like a severe seizure. She was writhing around and Ze rushed to her aid.
“Aria!” Zeno exclaimed.
No answer. She continued seizing. Now was the time do what he dreaded most, magic? Not many elves from Alfheim could do the type of magic that was performed. This magic was from a dark place full of dark magic, Svartalfheim. Although many people did not want to learn this deadly magic, it was powerful enough to help.
The seizing stopped. She lay still. Ze detected a heartbeat, she survived. Although, the amount of energy that using the magic took a toll on him. He immediately pulled her back to Midgard and Zeno used the last of his capabilities to take them back to Cynthia’s house, before him too, collapsed on the ground, at the doorstep of the cabin.
Aria awoke to the sound of voices from the kitchen. She realized that she was home at Cynthia’s cabin.
Although the voices were muffled in the kitchen, Aria could make out what was being said, to a point.
“She just started seizing, no warnings, nothing. I had to use magic to make her stop, otherwise, I don’t know if she would have survived this. If she truly is as the queen before you, Cynthia, she may be the child of a stronger god, possibly a Norse god. That would explain why they were within earshot without it being announced that they were present in the realms.”
“Even so, she shouldn’t have started seizing out of the blue. There is only one god that I can think of that would do that and risk the death of their spawn. That possibility worries me.”
“Who would it be? Who is willing enough to risk the life of their child to stop them from learning?”
“There is only one god I can think of, Loki.”
“He has been locked up for ages though. How would he manage to have a child not so long ago?”
“He is always sending smaller, less powerful projections of himself to Midgard. It is the only possible way for him to have achieved this. She spoke of her father dying while she was young a while back. This could have been what her mother told her. And Loki probably gave her mother the brain cancer so that he could get a hold of her if he ever escaped fully.”
“What can I do to help?”
“I would ask you to cast a spell and shield her from him, but that would take a large toll on you, and I couldn’t ask you to do that.”
“I will do it before we leave here. I should be able to get us back to Alfheim, and when I recover, I can teach her to defend herself using the winter elves’ magic. It is her best defense against a god, and it’s the only thing she will know how to use for now.”
“Only do this if you feel up to it, otherwise, don’t attempt it. It is not worth your life. You have been my loyal friend all these years, and I cannot lose you too.”
“You won’t, your highness. There is only one spell that even can discharge enough of my energy to kill me. And that one will only be used during Ragnarok.”
“You have served all of the queens well. You have been a worthy accomplice to us, and we all thank you.”
“Thank you, ma’am.”
Aria began to walk down the stairs. Cynthia heard.
“Good morning Aria. How did you sleep?”
“I didn’t know I even went to sleep. What happened? My head is pounding.”
Zeno looked at Cynthia. She gave him the approving nod.
“You had a seizure, Aria. We still don’t know what caused it.”
“I haven’t had a history of seizures. Neither had anyone in my family. How could this happen? There were no immediate symptoms.”
“That is what has us worrying. We believe that your father had something to do with this.”
“But how? My father was murdered when I was young. How could he have caused this?” she began to hyperventilate.
“Breathe, Aria, breathe,” Cynthia repeated over and over.
Her breathing only increased in speed, and she began to tumble over before Ze caught her.
Her breathing began to slow, but the seizures began to come back.
Her eyes rolled back into her head, and a sickening voice echoed from her mouth like it was being spoken through a microphone.
“You try to corrupt my daughter?” the voice boomed. “You will find that that will not come so easily to you. Mark my words, she will not come to your kind of power as you may think she will. I have my ways, and I will stop you from teaching her, even if it kills her in the process.” His voice faded away.
“Aria?” Cynthia asked, exasperated.
“Mom?” she asked, weakly, before blacking out.
Cynthia awoke to screams coming from the hallway towards the downstairs. She immediately thought that it was coming from Aria’s room, but was immediately sure that it wasn’t because there have been no incidents for a couple of months. It happened to be coming from outside the front door of the cottage.
“The elves are in disarray!” exclaimed Zeno on the way out the door. “We need to get Aria out here, now!”
Aria was already on her way out of the cabin. There was a forest fire in the woods on the borderline of the bridge. The elves were fleeing from their homes. The weather elves awaited command of the new queen.
“Rain on the side where the wind is coming in. The wind will help transport the rain over the entirety of the forest.” As the rain elves made their way to their assigned, Aria ordered the next wave of elves, snow elves. “Storm the forest after the rain elves. Produce some colder weather so that the ice can freeze over the water from the rain troops. That should stop the fire and prevent it from sparking again.” She then added, “Screw off Dad. You can’t control me here! I will not allow it.”
As the fire subsided, Cynthia could do nothing but stare at Aria. “You knew your father was controlling you?”
“Not at first. I kind of figured that my father wasn’t really dead. We never had a proper funeral. He just kind of disappeared without warning and was never seen again. And I overheard more of what you guys were saying in the kitchen the other morning than you know.”
“Yeah, about that. We weren’t sure until last month that it was Loki as your father.”
“What happened last month? All I remember is seeing my mom, and then I blew it off as a dream. And now I woke up this morning to screaming elves that needed me to control them.”
“Your father took over your body and used you as a vessel to tell us a message. He says he won’t allow us to teach you any more about controlling the elves. Some how, we managed to bypass his promise and teach you behind his back. You need to be strong enough to beat him if the time comes.”
“Then it is time to cast that damn spell. I don’t want him in my head anymore.”
“This will put a lot of strain on Ze, though. We need to keep an eye on him, and he needs to have the strength to get you guys back to Alfheim.”
“Is there anything that I am able to do that will keep his strength up enough for two spells?”
“There is one thing, but it is hazardous. I don’t know if it will even work. It has only ever been attempted once. It could kill you both, like the first person to try it.”
“Do it anyway. Share my power with him so that we can get back to Alfheim. The fate of the nine realms depends on it.”
“Okay. If you get too weak, you need to let Ze know so that he can break the spell.”
There was silence.
“Okay! I’m not a broken little girl that needs to be protected anymore. I can handle myself.”
“Go. Be strong. Be careful. And overall, be kind.”
“I will!” A single tear shed from her eyes. Cynthia had become the mother she never had. She didn’t know what she would have done without her.
“Arm the guards! Rally the elves! War is upon us!” Queen Aria yelled through the terrified screams throughout the fields of bodies that lay before her. Cynthia had died only days before. She died a quick, easy death by passing in her sleep.
Now, the war was upon the nine realms, and Loki was as powerful as ever.
“Aria,” he boomed throughout the surrounding area. “Surrender now, or all your forces will be eliminated. Do not test me. Do as I say, and you will leave unharmed.”
“You don’t control me, Loki. I have been put through so much already and the protection spell goes until you die. Either way, you will never get me. That I know for certain.”
“There are millions of ways to bypass that spell, curse really. You will not survive.”
“And you will not conquer the nine realms.”
And with that, she sent the last of her troops after his minions that had just arrived. The previous forces had caused a rainstorm to form around Loki’s frost giants. Once they had drenched the giants, Aria’s newest troops on the ground decided to freeze all of the rain that had befallen the giants from Jotunheim.
Out of the corner of Aria’s eye, she saw Zeno performing another spell using his beloved runes. The only issue was that he had already completed two. If he performed this one as well, surely he would die.
She ran to his side and attempted to convince him to not run the Uruz rune’s magic because they were already being protected by a rune that Ze called Elhaz. He cast Elhaz over all his fellow comrades. He now began to start his ritual before casting a rune spell.
“Ze, please. Don’t do this. You won’t survive!” she exclaimed.
“I do what I must to protect the throne and the balance of all the nine realms. If I die doing what is right, I will be proud to go down. Nothing you can say or do will stop me from going through with this. I’m sorry Aria. We lost Cynthia, and now you are going to lose me too. If this could have been prevented, I would have done that. I’m so sorry.”
And with that, he decided to cast his final rune. He was extremely weak after performing it, but he had already said that there was no stopping him. Anybody could tell that that was going to be his final rune to cast.
“Zeno!” Aria rushed to his side and helped him to a peaceful place in the snow that was provided by the snow elves. Aria laid him down onto a soft patch of snow away from the battle. “May you forever rest in peace, Ze. I am proud to have worked by your side over the last year.
She turned and saw that there was an elf the height of two rulers standing in the doorway.
“Your father wishes to see you. Please. He is holding my mother hostage. If you don’t go, he will kill her!”
“Of course. What is your name?”
“Alre, ma’am.” She shied her gaze away from Aria’s.
“I will go get your mother, my dear. You both will be fine. I promise.” Aria wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to uphold the promise she had made to the young girl, but she was going to try her hardest. She walked out the entrance of the clearing that she had created for the death of Ze and headed towards her father.
“Loki, Odinson, you have killed the few things that have meant the most to me over my life. Now, you are here, and we will either bargain, or you will have your fight. What do you choose?” Aria shouted through the clearing.
“I choose to fight.” And with that, he charged at her.
“You chose death.” She unsheathed her ice sword and braced herself for the fight of her life.
Loki came at Aria, weapon ablaze, aiming directly for her chest. She counteracted it and swung at his arm. She slightly grazed his sleeve, doing barely any damage. Loki swung again, this time aiming for Aria’s head.
Aria swung her leg into the air, using her foot to kick his sword down so that she could wield her sword and sink it deep into his abdominal area. He dropped to his knees, and she ripped the ice sword out of his stomach and stooped to his level.
“I told you that you chose death and you didn’t believe me. Next time you want to send a miniature version of yourself, be prepared because I don’t plan on letting you win. Ever.”
Blood began to ooze from his mouth because of the internal damage done. Aria kicked him backward and he lay sprawled out on the icy ground.
The battle was over, but she still felt like something was wrong. She knew that he would be back to threaten the world again. He always will, and he will never give up, and she needed to be ready.
“Your daughter needs you. Let’s get you back to her,” Aria said to Alre’s mother.
“Thank you so much. I am all she has left. Her father died of cancer last year.”