Alfimir tossed aside a charred branch with his boot. It flipped over three times before shattering against a blackened root and dissolving into ash. What had once been a grand building, woven elegantly by Eltuthar so long ago, was now little more than a burnt husk of what it had once been. The center tree was still intact, though Alfimir doubted that much of the wood had survived the flames. Bits of all three floors still clung to it, but most of the rubble lay piled on the first floor, hiding where walls and rooms had once been. Countless scrolls littered the burnt wreckage, their papers turned to ash. Eltuthar’s findings were no more.
Alfimir, however, was not pleased. With the sun’s first appearance, he had hunted for Dilmir or Eltuthar, but had been able to find neither. He had implemented many spells, several of Eltuthar’s own design, but had turned up nothing. His only conclusion could be that they had somehow escaped.
Oddly, Alfimir had a shrewd idea how they might have done so, though he thought it unlikely. The spell took far too much energy for Eltuthar to cast in his current condition, and he had seen Dilmir fall to floor, knocked out, before descending into the flames. The girl could hardly have known of the spell, it was far beyond her or even any of the council.
Alfimir frowned. Perhaps Eltuthar had been stronger than he had thought. Sonlen’s curse had robbed him of all magic; what if, after all this time, its power was beginning to fade? Dilmir, Alfimir was sure he could deal with. If Eltuthar regained his power, however, he dared not consider the consequences.
This was not all that tugged at Alfimir’s mind, however, trying to distract him from his search. He had underestimated Dilmir. There was no way around it; he knew it to be true. And yet, Dilmir had let him live, and he had told him why. Though there had been far too much going on at the time to consider it, now that all was quiet, Alfimir had time to rearrange his thoughts.
Had what he had done been right? Dilmir, ignorant though he may be, had posed a worthy question. What kind of an elf was he? He had slain innocent elves, their only crime being related to Eltuthar, and now being interested in his power, and for what? To protect those at Eld’rin? Somehow, killing elves to protect them didn’t seem logical, though it had at the time. Alfimir frowned. He couldn’t let Dilmir’s words distract him. Besides, the elves he had slain had posed a very real threat. Something had had to be done.
Alfimir forced his thoughts back to his surroundings. He stopped his pacing, frowning at the sky. They weren’t here. “Where then?” muttered Alfimir to himself. Almost absent-mindedly, he put his hand to his eyes, and cast an enchantment of Eltuthar’s. Shimmering lines instantly appeared in the sky, a brilliant white, though some were tainted with other colors. The lines were invisible normally, but the enchantment allowed Alfimir to see them for what they truly were, the lines of magic that floated aimlessly throughout Feylund, until they met something to attach to. None of the lines were pure white, meaning that they had been absorbed and then released, likely in a spell. Hanging over the smoking ruin was a shimmering gathering of them, like a rainbow hued cloak. Alfimir’s eyes, however, sought only one trail.
Carrying taints of green, though its edges were red and orange, was a thick line of magic, extending from the ruin and arcing across the sky to the West. Alfimir followed its trail with his eyes, straight, unwavering, until he saw it land at…
“Surely not Eld’rin,” he muttered. He traced the line again. There was no mistake. The magic left by, as he had suspected, Eltuthar, formed a straight line to Eld’rin. He had doubtless taken Dilmir with him. In one burst of light they would have been there, but the trail of magic would have been left behind in the path they had taken.
Alfimir smiled despite himself, removing the magic from his eyes with sweep of his hand. So Eltuthar’s own spell would be his undoing. How fitting.
Very well, thought Alfimir, clearing his path out of the ruin. If they wish to bring the fight to Eld’rin, I shall oblige. It would do the elves good to see the downfall of their enemy.
He cleared a path out of the ruin, and quickly mounted his horse. Then, urging it down the steep and treacherous path, he made all haste to the elven encampment at the foot of the mountain.