This is an ongoing story between the wonderful Anuradha and myself. You can read the previous parts here:
Valhalla - I
Aurora - II


There was something to be said of the warrior blood that ran in his clan. From the time he had been a boy, his father, a veteran-at-war had taught him the art of Earth-Shifting. It all fascinated him at first, trying to focus his energies into the palms of his hands until they started tingling and quivering, and then pushing it from his fingers into the small rock, trying to melt and mold it into a nice, round shape. 
"You should be able to command your energy so well that neither your hand nor your mind waivers when you release it.", he remembered his father's voice speaking it a hundred times over, as he touched the rock and stepped back to see it rumble, crumble and reform itself into a giant winged hammer.
"Remember son, strong as a hammer, and twice as hard."

Endless days and some more nights of parrying with his friends, wrestling each other into the mud and using the same soil to their advantage, he enjoyed it all! They said he was gifted with an imagination that set him apart from most of his clan. While others built up immense pillars of stone with a single punch to the ground, he would raise a column of spiked turrets, not unlike a giant mace, and bend the stone over with a touch to pound whatever was unfortunate enough to be in its way.

He had practiced, beaten, got beaten, bruised, even broken and held down by the veterans of the art. Yet he would get up and strike again. And again. He had some big shoes to fill in his father's prowess and there was neither time nor room for error. How could he have known that the very blood he spilled would be what raised him above everyone else. He had soon grown faster and stronger than the others, and more skilled than most. 

As he peered into the darkness, the control of the years of practice steadying his mind, the cool wind wove through his hair. The word had come as if carried by the wind, bringing a warning that was directed to him, and him alone.

No, it could not end here. He could not end.

The war had started in his family's name, and in his name it had ended. Hundreds had given up their families, their livelihood and their lives to make right the wrong that was done unto him.
He could not buckle now, when peace had finally set in.

He looked upon the horizon that seemed to sink into the darkness of the sea, broken only by the moonlight reflecting off the waves like chinks of diamond skimming the surface of the water. As the clouds cleared off like floating mists along the valleys in the distance, silhouetted against the moonlight, he saw a lone figure standing by the beach, her lithe figure broken only by the wind billowing through her robe, defiant and powerful.

He drew a whiff of energy from within, his eyes aglow with the green-gold power he drew from the earth and tapped his foot where he stood. A cloud of dust flew several feet into the sky. A show of power, and a reminder of who had won the war.

"Damned Wind Keepers", he muttered under his breath and turned around.

It was a warm, balmy night. The wind had just started picking up from a light draft to that high-pitched howl that only you can hear. He stood at the edge of the cliff, looking down into the abyss, contemplating that first step towards the quick embrace of eternal darkness.
He'd had enough. He'd done too much.
He could neither sleep at night, nor would his body allow him to stay awake.
His nightmares had crawled out of his sleep and into a sleepless hallucination of reality.
He wanted no more.

It needed to end.

The past four years had been one big war, from the barbaric tribes invading his homeland from up north, to the mysterious scarred scavengers from the wastelands beyond. Ever since his mine workers had started digging at the foothills of the Grey Hills, it had been one misfortune after another. At first, he'd thought that it was just the alignment of the stars. Why, he'd thanked their stars and the four Gods when they'd unearthed the immense crystal rock underneath a landfall of rocks and rubble. It now sat atop the Central Hall at the heart of his hometown.
That was when it started.

That evening flashed before his eyes as if it happened just a few moons back. He had been resting atop his favourite lookout point - a small overhanging piece of land on which stood a massive lone cypress tree - a sole sentry to the town. A few grey clouds in the sky silhouetted against a waxing moon spoke of a warm night ahead. He'd laid his head against the tree and sat there, staring at the vast, empty sky, the murmur of the townfolk sitting down to dinner not-so-far beneath him. Somewhere in the distance, a solitary seagull called out for the last time before landing his wings down for the night. He looked left and out to the Central Hall, admiring the crystal that had become the crown jewel of his clan. How brilliant it looked in the moonlight!
Maybe a little too brilliant, he thought. The moon is at a wax, not enough light for anything to shine as brightly as it was.
Maybe he was mistaken.
Maybe it was the lack of a sound night of sleep.

He looked back up at the sky, settling back against his seat, ready to just drift off to sleep when he heard something that send a chill down his spine and jolted him back to reality.
It was no wolf howl, neither was it the hiss of a viper. It wasn't even the scream of a drunk ravaging some woman unlucky enough to be caught unawares in a dark alley. That was all known and familiar.
This. This was different. It was closer, much closer. Too close even.
The whisper came with the wind, spoke a silent word in his ear, a shivering breath of syllables put together,

He stood up straight, palms sweaty, clenched against his dagger.

All he saw were clouds.