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Neleh was leading Elsaria and Dalyor out of the city. She needed to give them some instructions and leave as fast as possible. Before that, she needed to determine her destination. ‘Elune, is it possible for Satai to stop the dragon attack?’

“Possible? Theoretically. Will he do it? Not a chance. He doesn’t like to take part in the matters of mortals, and even if that wasn’t the case, he feels that the dragons are quite justified in their desire to retrieve their eggs. It might not have been the Sun Elves specifically who took the eggs, but for him that distinction doesn’t matter. An elf is an elf, and some elves wronged the dragons, and now the dragons are making things right in his eyes.” Elune said with a rare serious tone in her voice. Neleh could tell there was more to this than the goddess was telling, and tried to probe further.

‘How did they manage to steal the eggs anyway? One would think the dragons guard their offspring quite closely, seeing as you can’t really call them a very fertile race.’ She asked.

“I’m actually not entirely sure. No-one has managed that feat before, and they have tried. I know that they orchestrated a diversion. In addition they must have had someone with a blessing of Loki, to be able to hide themselves from the dragons, even when the dragons were distracted. In addition, the eggs are protected by numerous spells, so they had to have some serious power to bypass those. Some sort of anti-magic maybe? Even the container they used to hide the eggs had to have been enchanted by one of the most skilled mages in this world. This whole thing has been in planning for a long time.” The goddess was still holding something back.

‘Even so, that all requires advance knowledge of what they would face. How could they manage something like that?’ She asked.

“I think they got help.” Neleh could feel the hesitation in Elune’s voice before she continued. “You are aware of the one known as Fate, right? We had a visit from Fate earlier. It told us that there were a few things that had to happen according to plan. Apparently the attack on Solaris is one of those things.” There was still more. As if the meddling of a cosmic power was not enough, Elune was still holding something back.

‘Don’t tell me, I’m expected to interfere? I’m re-gaining some of my old strength, but I can’t fight two dragons yet. In twenty years yeah, not now though.’ Neleh might be a chosen, but her powers were still in the rapid growth stage. Even normal elves didn’t reach their full strength until they were adults, and Neleh was not a normal elf.

“No, in fact Fate instructed me to expressly forbid you from interfering. It knows you could use your powers as a Destroyer, if you were desperate enough. I know there’s no need for me to tell you, because I know you value your honeybuns Solana above the whole of the Sun Elf capital, and majority of the capital won’t even be damaged. Apparently there are two major reasons why the attack must take place. Firstly, because the attack will be pinned on the Eldarinwe, and will be the spark to ignite the civil war. Apparently the civil war is part of Fate’s plan. I don’t like it myself, but my hands are tied.” Elune’s voice was sad, and somewhat hesitant.

Neleh waited for a moment for the goddess to continue, but was finally forced to ask. ‘And the second reason?’

The goddess sighed. “For the record, I’m against this part, but the second major reason is to separate you from Solana. Apparently a handful of the royal family will survive, but they will be forced to recall all relatively close members of the family to secure the family line. Even ones that were banished like Solana.”

‘Wait, what?! Fate wants to separate us so badly that it’ll send a pair of dragons to attack a city?’ Neleh was stunned.

“Apparently Fate has plans for you, and those plans don’t include Solana. You know Fate can’t control you, because of what you are, but it can still poke and prod you into a direction that it finds suitable. And like I said, you aren’t the only reason for the attack.” You could tell by her voice that Elune felt really bad about the whole thing.

Neleh gave a long mental sigh, not wanting to alert the two people walking beside her. ‘I really shouldn’t be so surprised. Fate has always liked playing tricks on me. Not that I plan to give up on Solana that easily. I quite enjoy her company.’

-----

When they were reaching the gate, Neleh started to give instructions to Dalyor and Elsaria.

“Have one of the mage students send a message to the temple in Solaris, warning them of the attack. It might be too late, but they might be able to save more people if it’s not. Also get a message to the grand temple that the Consortium is behind the attack. They will most likely try to pin this on the Eldarinwe. Aneirin at least should be able to send the messages. I’d rather you didn’t reveal me as an Inquisitor to her, but do as you must. It’s better that she knows, than a random mage student who might spread it around.” Neleh told them.

“I’ll arrange it. Out of curiosity, why aren’t you sending the messages?” Dalyor asked.

“I’m slightly embarrassed to admit, but magical communication is not my specialty, and the message protocols of the empire are something they teach in the academy. One of the few things I actually need to learn there. I could send a message to Rhi’a’non, but anyone would be able to hear it if they are listening. Instead of whispering in the ear of the recipient, I’d be shouting the message for everyone to hear.” Neleh was a bit embarrassed. In her old life she worked alone most of the time. Communication magic was not something she spent time learning as a result, and the different worlds had different methods to reach the same goal. Long range communication was a lot harder than one would think, unless a magical item was used to facilitate the communication.

“Ho-ho! Something my dear sister isn’t good at. I’ll remember this day forever!” Elsaria laughed.

“What about you? What are you going to do?” Dalyor asked.

“Silly question. I’m going to go and save Solana, of course.” Neleh said with a voice that told the answer was obvious.

“Shouldn’t your job as a Chosen be to go defend Solaris against the dragons?” Elsaria asked, and quickly slapped her hand to her mouth. She had forgotten that Dalyor didn’t know Neleh was a Chosen.

“Chosen, eh? This just got even more interesting. I happen to know the spot for Elune is filled, so which goddess?” Dalyor asked with a mix of mirth at Elsaria’s slip-up, and seriousness at the matter at hand.

“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t spread this around.” Neleh said, getting a nod from Dalyor. “The Chosen of Satai, if you must know. As for your question, oh blabby-mouth sister of mine, I’ve just been expressly forbidden from interfering in Solaris.” Neleh said while tapping a finger to her forehead.

“Not that I would be able to fight two dragons currently anyway. I might be able to do something if I caught them by complete surprise, but there’s just a too big of a difference in power otherwise. Besides, when weighing Solana against the city of Solaris, Solana wins on my scales every time.” Neleh finished.

“Chosen of Satai? I didn’t know the dragon god took a Chosen.” Dalyor mused, apparently getting stuck on that point.

They got out of the city, and to a clearing near the camp they had made with the students.

“I don’t know if you’re still planning on doing the hunt for the monsters, but you can get another priest from the temple.” Neleh said while preparing to leave.

“How are you going to get into Rhi’a’non? It took us several days to get here.” Elsaria asked.

“Dalyor, would you be so kind as to turn around for a moment. I need to change.” Neleh asked pointedly.

The man turned around. Neleh quickly stripped, depositing her clothes to her holding ring, and put on a white dress that left the back and sides open.

“This is how I’m planning on traveling.” Neleh said.

Large wings of red flame spouted from her back, her hair turned flaming red and there was a large halo of flame behind her head. Her eyes had turned ruby red, and a single tear of flame was coming from one eye to her cheek, and staying there.

“Oh wow.” Was all Elsaria managed to say.

“Well, now I can see the need for the dress change.” Dalyor commented dryly. Wings needed an open back, even wings of fire.

“I hope to see you later.” Neleh said seriously and suddenly she was gone. A fiery read streak was flying across the sky towards Rhi’a’non.

-----

Neleh felt a bit nostalgic while flying. Some of her powers from her old life were slowly returning. She had started feeling them after the Awakening ceremony, though she wasn’t sure why. It might be that the blessings from the deities were making some of her old powers surface, but that didn’t feel like the answer. Another possibility was that her presence in her old life had been so strong, that some of it carried over to her new life. Her current form was the extent of it so far, which she didn’t terribly mind. She had quite enjoyed her time as a Flame Seraph, because of the speed provided.

Neleh had been born as a fire elemental spirit in the plane of fire, in her old life. The plane of fire she had inhabited was connected to a thousand mortal worlds, and all of those worlds worshipped the elemental spirits as forces of life and creation. Even the fire spirits were seen as a symbol of life and warmth. That was somewhat ironic because the elemental planes were in a constant state of battle, and the spirits spent most of their time trying to kill each other. This was mostly because the spirits changed form according to their level of power, and the best way to gain power was to kill other spirits.

Neleh as a Destroyer was of course very good at killing other spirits, and as such had rapidly risen through the ranks. The form of a Flame Seraph she was using, as incomplete as it was now, was considered roughly to be at the higher end of the mid-tier of power. She had spent quite a bit of time in that form, just because she liked the benefits it provided. It was when the elemental spirit became a high-tier elemental, when they were assigned an aspect of the element they represented. A water spirit might represent flowing rivers, while an air spirit might represent the warm summer wind. On the whole though, almost all spirits represented positive aspects.

Neleh on the other hand represented the destructive power of fire. That was hardly a surprise as a Destroyer, but it made her the Exception. It turned her into an outcast. Unfortunately for the other spirits, the destructive powers of fire are not easily tamed. Each plane of elements was ruled by a king, and the most powerful elemental of all the planes was named the Emperor of all elements. The other elemental kings were shocked when Neleh ripped the position of king from the smoldering dead fingers of the previous king of fire. It was obvious to all the other kings, that it was only a matter of time before she would take the position of emperor from the current holder of the title, a light elemental.

Normally this would not have been too bad, because the previous emperor had also lost the title in battle against the current emperor. However, if a spirit representing destruction was to take over as a ruler, the nature of the elementals as forces of life and creation would change. Thus they proposed Neleh a deal. She would gain a title equal to the emperor, and the powers that came with it, which included unparalleled understanding over the different elements. Neleh later on improved on that understanding by studying the elements from the angle of science. In return, Neleh was to leave the elemental planes and the thousand worlds they were connected to, and never return.

She accepted readily. The only reasons she had even tried to become the emperor, were because she wanted to shove it down the throats of everyone who looked down upon her, because of her nature and because she was really curious what the form of a fire emperor would be. Thus begun her travels as a fire emperor in exile. She was still bitter about her beginnings, but she had to admit she had gained much from it. And it’s not like her life had been filled with happiness afterwards. Gabriel had been one of the few good things, until her current life where she found a real family.

Neleh shook away the nostalgic thoughts and chuckled. ‘You would think the fire emperor would have a better grasp of spirit magic.’ Neleh sent the amused thought towards Elune, remembering that the magic practiced by the humans of this world was her worst affinity.

“Well, to be fair, you might have been the last person in existence who needed that information.” Elune replied while laughing.

Neleh was rapidly approaching Rhi’a’non. She had given Solana a locket as a gift, which would allow her to locate her anywhere. The locket had been a pretty little thing with two adjoined hearts and their initials. A bit cheesy, but Solana had loved it and swore to wear it forever. She could feel the locket moving outside the city, and from a huge distance saw a large group of Eldarinwe escorting Solana. It was a good thing Flame Seraph had very sharp eyes, because she could already see an altercation developing between Solana and the guards. Neleh accelerated her speed more.

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Solana had been teaching a group of students at the academy training grounds, when a large group of guards had come to retrieve her. She was told that there had been an attack against the royal family of the Sun Elves, and all members of the family were recalled to Solaris to protect them, and to ensure the continued survival of the royal line. The guards had been unable to provide any exact details, ostensibly because they had not been told either. Their duty was to escort her to Solaris and to ensure her safety.

Solana had been too worried about her family to pay attention to the situation. She might have been exiled, but that didn’t mean she had no lingering affection towards her family. If something had happened to them, it would be a great loss to her. Somewhere inside of her she still hoped for a reunion and acceptance. She hoped Neleh was here. The young girl had turned her world upside down, and would know what to do. At the very least the girl would hold her until she felt better.

They were already outside the city when Solana’s instincts as a warrior started to push away the fog from her mind, and she finally started to pay attention to her surroundings. All of the guards were Eldarinwe. The Sun Court would never send Eldarinwe guards for anything, especially with the current threat of civil war looming. Clearly there was something wrong with the situation. She wondered how she could get away without getting herself killed. She was probably a better fighter than any in the group, but there were thirty of them.

She started slowing down, hoping that most of the group would pass her by, allowing her to try and make for a break back towards the city. She was almost ready to make the attempt when she heard the leader speak.

“I wouldn’t try it if I was in your place. We were told to bring you alive, but I’m pretty sure bruised and battered will suffice just as well.” The man said in a grim voice.

“You aren’t from the Sun Court are you? Did anything even happen to my family?” Solana asked spitting in distaste.

“Oh, something should be happening to them right now. Now come on bitch! I’m not above beating you into submission.” The man growled.

They all snapped around when they heard a clear and threatening voice. “Oh I don’t think so. I quite dislike men such as you. Hello Solana. Time for you to get rid of this riff-raff.” They saw a gorgeous and majestic being of fire floating in the above them.

The man was just about to order the guards to draw bows, when the being of fire flapped its wings sending waves of fire towards the other guards and dove straight at the man. The being’s flaming spear pierced through his chest leaving nothing but a charred husk behind. The surviving guards tried to escape, but were all cut down by flaming sweeps of the being’s weapon, the being moving between them in a flaming blur.

The being stopped in front of Solana. “Hello honeybuns. I see I made it in time.”

“Hey love. Your timing was perfect.” Solana answered with a tear rolling down her cheek, and a look of awe on her face.

The flames surrounding Neleh disappeared. “Would you mind taking me to the Inquisition headquarters? I have some news, and maintaining that form takes quite a bit of effort.” Neleh whispered and fainted.

Solana was about to panic, but then heard a faint and cute snoring sound. Solana gave a small giggle at the sound that was more like a purr than a real snore.

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Author's note: For the record, I'm saving her form as the fire emperor to a later date. :D I'm evil that way.

In case someone wants to know what the dress looked like, then it's used in the background image of this youtube video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUzPAVR1MPI

It comes with a nice song, so its worth a watch anyway...
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Vihyungrang

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