With a start, Iya's eyes bliked open. She felt safe and warm in Ean's arms. 'What happened?' she asked herself. The memories of Rhen and Lars started to flood back. Then she remembered the ceiling falling. Just thinking about it made her dizzy. She looked over at Ean. He was asleep beside her. Instantly, she noticed there was a huge red mark across his face. She slipped her hand out from under the blanket her and Ean were wrapped up cozily in, and placed it gently on the redness. She breathed in deeply and closed her eyes and concentrated. Her hand started to feel cold. As Iya opened her eyes and lifted her hand away from him, Ean shifted and groaned in his sleep.
"I love you." Iya whispered in her fiance's ear, even though he couldn't hear her. Yet, he smiled in his sleep as if he had heard Iya's softly spoken words.
As she wrapped her arms around him,he blinked his eyes open. He felt weak, laying in bed. When Iya lifted her head and they gazed into each others eyes though, he felt warm and happy inside and strong enough to conquer anything. Iya layed her head next to his and closed her eyes. As he stared up at the ceiling of the cottage, he thought about what had happened before he and Iya woke up. The news that Rhen and Lars had brought still haunted him like a ghost in Ghed'ahre. He was excited and nervous at the same time. He couldn't wait until he could meet his children. However, he didn't want them to get hurt. His thoughts started to scramble when Iya kissed him on his cheek.
"Good morning, sleepy." She said sweetly to him.
Ean smiled affectionately at Iya. As he stretched his his arms outward and yawned lazily, Iya sat up in the bed. She pushed her legs over the side of the bed and noiselessly slipped out onto the floor.
"I'm going to start a fire for the living room and get some water for today, okay?" Iya asked.
"Alright. I'll be up in a few minutes." Ean replied.
Iya smiled at him from the doorway and turned around and walked out of the room. She noticed the clock said noon, but it was dim in the hallway.
"It must be rainy today." She said, half to herself.She tried to cover up her feeling scared. She picked up a large white vase with a green leaf carved into it and glanced out a window.
As he heard glas smashing and Iya scream in terror, Ean jumped out of bed and ran out of the room and down the hallway. Even though the splinters of glass cut his bare feet, he ignored it and went to Iya and held her tight.
"It's alright." he murmered. "Everythings okay."he said reasurringly.
Iya put her arms around Ean and started to cry.
"Oh Ean, what's going on? The sun's gone. All that's there is a black circle. There's an ecliipse, what if it means something? What if it's-" Iya started to say.
"Don't say that! Everything will be fine, it's just an eclipse." Ean said doubtfully, pretending to be strong about the situation.
Iya still cried uncontrolably. Ean peered out a window nearby and looked at the sky. It was dark, and darkness covered the sun.
Just then, both elves mnoticed movement on the table next to them. Iya instantly was quiet and Ean held his breath. The vase full of growing Zinnia's started to shake back and forth. The two gasped as it fell over and dirt covered the whole table. Leters strted to form, and soon words in the dirt, like a child writing in the sand.
It spelled out: "Get out of here. NOW."
Rhen and Lars's faces gleamed on the small part of the table uncovered with dirt. They looked nervous. Ean looked at Iya.
"Grab what we'll need. Take the things that will be most important and put them in the pack. I'll go warn everyone in the village and tell them to hurry too. I'll meet you at the Eldar Oak. Be safe." Ean directed. He kissed her on the cheek. "Please be safe." he whispered as he turned and dashed out the door.
Iya quickly grabbed the large pack Ean had carried on the last journey and looked around. She went into the bedroom and saw her magic orbs and Ean's shapeling figurines on a high shelf above the dresser. She couldn't reach it, so she stood on the dresser and realized she needed cloth to wrap the delicate items in.
She jumped off the dresser and looked for a cloth. She looked on the bed, and she took off the sheet. She ripped it into pieces and held it firmly as she got on the dresser again.
Iya lifted the obs and wrapped them up. One by one, she placed them in the pack. Next, she held the cloth in her hands as she wrapped the figurines, careful not to touch them. Like the orbs, she placed them in the pack and stepped off the dresser again.
She opened each drawer in the dresser. She took out Ean's travel clothes, her neromancer gown, and their money out of the bottom drawer. She put the money in first, the the clothes.
On the bed, she took off the crochet blanket that Ean and her mother had taken the time to carefully make. She hastily folded the blanket and stuffed it in the pack.
She glanced over to the closet. hers and Ean's cloaks were hanging on the inside of the door. As she set the pack down, she put her cloak around her shoulders and held Ean's in her arm.
At the bottom of the closet, was a small locked chest. Hurriedly, she tried to remember where the key was. She then realized it was in a notch that was carved into the one leg of the bed to conceal it without being seen or obvious. She knelt on the ground next to the bed and ran her fingersalong the wooden leg. Her fingers hit something small and metalic. With a little bit of tugging and a click, the key was free from the leg and in Iya's hand.
Once she had the key, she dashed back to the locked chest. She opened it up. First, she took out Ean's Ice Claw that Ean had found in the Ice Caves. She placed it in the pack, careful not to cut herself on the nevermelting ice.
The next thing she saw was her orb staff, already equipped with her strongest orb, the love orb. She firmly held it in her one hand while she digged through the chest.
Iya's hand hit something smooth and glittering. She held on to it and pulled it out of the chest. It was her white gold Snow Princess tiara with blue snowflake shaped diamonds, which was blessed by a Chaos Master, a Mage, an Enchantress, and a Neromancer. The tiara brought protection and strength to her. She set down the staff and placed the tiara on her head. Then she continued digging in the chest.
As she felt a small, delicate box, memories flooded over her. She pushed them away and pulled the small music box out. As she opened the box up, she heard a gracefull tinkling. She lifted a little flap on the inside of the box to see her engagement ring, the necklace that Ean had made in Happily Ever After, and the necklace Ean gave her when she turned nine were still there. She put the flap back in place and closed the box. The tinkling stopped. She stuffed the last item in the pack and latched it shut. She picked up her orb staff and dashed out of the house.
She noticed that eveyone else in the village was heading toward the Elder Oak as well. Thunder started to roll overhead. Just at that moment, an unstable bolt of lightning struck a large Maple tree on the other side of the clearing. Iya heard a sickning snap as the treetoppled down. With a loud crash,m it landed nearly a foot away from her, covering her in ashes. The fire spred from the tree to the ground quickly, leaving the ground it passed charred.
She leapt back in surprise that the tree had come so close to striking her. She breathed deeply to clear her mind and hurried on to the great oak tree.
Once she left Elfwood for the very last time, she remmbered being young and playing with Ean, Row, and Yeni. It was always the four of them. She grew sad that those days of tormenting the talking tree and chasing each other in the village square would never come back.
As she hurried through Oldwoods, she remembered the first time Yeni introduced her to Ean. A smile formed on her face as she remembered that day. She was six years old. Whenever Iya looked at him, he was to shy to look back and looked down instead to hide him blushing, although Iya still noticed it.
Whenever Row and Ean were talking to each other, he always gazed across the clearing at her while daydreaming. She caught him a few times, and his cheeks were redder than ever. She thought it was actually kinda cute though. And now they were getting married soon, she hoped.
She remembered when she turned nine. Yeni and Row were over her house for the party already and Ean was at the door. She answered the door and Ean handed her a small box wrapped in a silver paper with a gold bow wrapped around it. She smiled and blushed when she took it.
"Thanks, Ean."She said shyly.
Ean just smiled at her. She hugged him warmly and by now, the were both redder than Yeni's dress.
After everyone was settled down to watch Iya open her presents, she first took Yeni's. She carefully unwrapped it so she wouldn't seem like a little girl anymore. 'I'm nine. I to act like it.' she said in her mind. When Iya dinished un wrapping it, she saw it was an exquisite sky blue dress made by Yeni and her mom.
"Thank you Yeni! It's beautiful!" Iya remarked.
"I hope it fits, my mom and I tried our best!" Yeni replied.
Next, she started to unwrap Row's present. She noticed it was a book; white with silver lettering the one she liked. It was a long fairytale about song mages and the four Deities.
"Thanks Row!" Iya said to him. "I can't wait to read it!"
Row smiled in acknowledgment.
Lastly, she picked up Ean's present. She carefully untied the ribbon bow and lifted the top off the box, since the box was decorated. Inside was a painted music box. She lifted it out and held it in her hands. It was intricately designed with a world unlike the Vale. She saw tall mountains, some covered in ice and...snow. Then she saw cities with enchanting castles, of one which caught her eye, it was charming, with hearts everywhere. She could feel a strong magical presence when she ran her fingers over it.
There was a mighty desert with sand that looked like gold. She was shocked when she saw a presence of death near the icy mountains. She noticed mighty oceans washing against the shores. In the middle of the ocean was a volcano with big things flying around it; they couldn't be dragons...could they? There was an island of fairytales and magic too.
An island to the right made her confused. There was a village, and it had, yes...elves. Then another sight made her lose her breath. It was a massive stretch of land with gray mountains and dangerous cliffs and monsters lurking behind every shrub and rock. In the center was a city of broken rocks. then she looked back to the biggest stretch of land and when she looked close enough, she saw a great oak tree. It looked hauntingly familiar.
Iya opened the music box and heard a gentle and graceful tinkling like little chimes and bells. She smiled as the wonderful sound filled the air. In the one corner of the box, a piece of cloth was unattached to the box, unlike the other corners. Curious, she lifted the cloth and there was a necklacewith a small golden heart with a tiny heart shapped saphire in the middle. Iya gasped as she lifted it out of the box. Ean smiled, patiently awaiting her response next to her.
"I...I don't know what to say, Ean." she stammered. "I...thank you, so much." she reached over to him and held him close.
"It was nothing, really." He whispered to her.
"Ean..." she started to say when her mom came in the room and interupted her.
"Row, your dad wants you to go home and help him with something."
"Okay, Mrs. Tiki. Bye! Happy birthday, Iya!" Row told Iya.
"Bye, Row." Iya, Yeni, and Ean said.
Yeni sat next to Iya an whispered something in her ear Ean couldn't hear.
"Ean's so sweet to you. He's so in love with you, Iya, you know that right?" her friend quietly asked. Iya blushed and smiled, showing she could tell.
After Yeni left, Iya and Ean sat on the swing in the backyard and looked out at the woods. Iya had her head on Ean's shoulder and her feet on the wooden swing while he had his arm around her. It was a chilly night to be outside, but Iya felt warm, despite the cold breeze.
Iya's mom came out of the house after a while and told Ean his mother wanted him to go home because it was time for bed, then went back inside.
Iya had looked at him. He looked back and smiled and said goodbye to her as they both stood up. He was about to turn around to go home when Iya grabbed his han. They gazed into each other's eyes for a few moments and then Iya leaned over to him and kissed him. Afterwards, he looked speechless and happy at the same time.
"Goodbye. I'll see you tomorrow." Iya told him, breaking the silence.
As they got older, they started to be a little closer. Iya soon reaized she loved him. And he loved her too. Their parents thought it was so adorable and cute back then, but they never thought they would get as close as they are now.
Iya as forced back into the present when she heard a little girl scream. She saw Nisa being pulled into the thick of the woods. She saw piercing red eyes and heard a snarl in the trees. Iya dashed as fast as she could over to her and grabbed the little girl's outstretched hand. Claws gripped Iya's arm and she screamed in pain. Nisa and her were both being dragged into the darkness.
Just then, Iya saw a glimmer, like ice, slicing across the unseen monster that had grabbed the two girls. She heard it scream in pain as it fled away. She looked closer into the darkness as it started to pour rain that prickled like needles where the monster had dissapeared. Then she heard someonne speaking.
"Iya, are you alright!" The voice queried in the darkness.
"Ean! Where are you! I can't see anything. It's too dark." Iya replied while holding Nisa, even though she was starting to get heavy, since she was seven now.
"I'm right here." he answered Iya gasped as he held her arm. "Don't worry, It's just me. Come on, we have to get out of here. Everyone else is already waiting in the Land of Man."
"Alright." Iya said. Together, the three left the thick trees and tried to walk along the path in the pitch black. Soon, they could see the Elder Oak outlined against the black sky.
They dashed up to it and Iya started to sing immediately. The glowing portal opened up as Iya stopped singing. Ean pushed Iya and Nisa in as a person slowly walked up to the tree. It gripped him as he tried to escape into the Land of Man. Ean slashed it across the face and it let go yowling in pain. He took this opprotunity and stepped into the portal. It closed behind him. Three more figures stalked up to the tree.
"How could you let them go you fool! They are safe until we figure out a way into the world now!" one of them snapped.
"You're a failure. You should just leave and never come back" a second snarled.
"Enough!" the third person spoke. "Poawn is staying with us and thats final!"
"Yes, Leanda." The two growled.