The realm was at peace.
Elide limped through the stone courtyard of her home. The Lady of Perranth bathed in the sunlight of dawn snuck out of her holdings, just like she'd done every day since returning to her home.
Hidden amongst pine and oak a small stone crypt covered in vines stood, non-descript. The original builder seeing no importance of having it decorated. Elide wondered if that was why it had stood for two hundred years without use. A forgotten empty tomb.
Aelin had seen to it that her father and mother were entombed in Orynth, Elide had prayed and cried in their tombs. Knowing her mother's sacrifice saved all their lives, not just Aelin's. Marion's tomb had filled her with calm and warmth. Elide understood her mother still watched her, peacefully from the afterlife.
The stone tomb hidden on her land was not empty now. Not forgotten. It had taken her days to pull the weeds and wildflowers from the floor. A week longer to clean the old cobwebs from every surface and get the small space truly clean. It left her exhausted, her poor ruined leg left aching. Elide welcomed the pain, embraced it.
Her friends had made the ultimate sacrifice so that she and many others could go on. Her pain was nothing to that of her beloved dead.
Before she entered the tomb Elide sat on the cold granite steps, she rolled up her pant to rub some warmth into her tattooed and ruined ankle.
Graviel, Aedion's father, had inked beautiful ribbons of flame onto her. Inside the flames where the names and stories of her parents, of Manon, of Aelin's court, their sacrifices and that of her Queen. And in the smallest tendril of flame Graviel had inked her own story and how she had survived. All written elegantly in the Old Language.
Elide smoothed out her pants and rolled her shoulders, the icy early winter wind nipping at her as she walked inside even with the protection of the surrounding forest.
The interior of the tomb was lit dimly by the dawn sun. Shadows danced on the ceiling, casting shapes off the unlit wall scones and the small wrought iron chandelier. The walls were made simply of the grey white stone used to build the crypt, the same stone made a small bench for sitting again functional and undecorated. Centred in the crypt a stone altar stood taking up most the tiny space available in the room.
Keeping her eyes away from the altar Elide carefully lit every candle in the room from the lantern she carried. The action of it as hard at it was the first time.
Placing the final candle down Elide turned to face the altar. Leaning back onto the wall so the stone kissed her bare hands coolly.
"Hello Manon." She whispered.
Manon's body was not on the altar, or in the tomb, nor on any other. In that final battle Manon had given herself in the Yielding, taking with her all of Erawan's Valg Princes and a large portion of the Ironteeth offensive. So great was Manon's power.
It left the Cochrans fighting the other Ironteeth with all their valour to avenge their Last Queen. So chaotic was the battle that the witch armies did not noticed that Manon's Second did not fight alongside the army of assassins and thieves and aligned Kingdoms of the new world.
No, Asterin had not been there to watch her friend die. Elide had, and had been the one to tell her what she had sacrificed, and that the little Witchling Asterin nursed in her arms with gold and sapphire blue eyes like its mother and father was now the Cochran Queen.
Manon had saved them all, Erawan so furious of her Yielding he grew careless. Rowan had taken his chance and had banished away Erawan and the Valg, all his unnatural creatures turned to dust as their King left the realm forever.
As newly formed alliance turned to the witch armies that fled, even their most powerful could see that their doom was upon them. The Fae and human army could not let them flee and regather, it led to bloodshed. The Bluebloods were the wisest, swearing to align themselves to the other Kings and Queens of the realm asking for peace so they could return to their beloved Wastes.
Manon's grandmother overestimated her Blackbeak armies, their heir and leader dead to fight against them they understood what had to happen. Many Blackbeak witches avenged Manon and her mother on those killing fields.
It was perhaps the Yellowlegs that were most foolish, so few surrendered and swore peace. It was almost an extermination.
None of the witch clans could know that the Heir to the Blackbeaks and Queen of the Cochrans was mere day's old, hiding and growing into the leader she would become.
Because of Manon's Yielding, what remained of her were only a few of her things. A white wolf pelt, used during the crowning ceremony and the tail of her braid. Tradition to cut off before battle.
Asterin had given Elide these things, keeping a few others to one day hand to Manon's witchling. It was these two items that Elide had placed within the tomb.
Offering up a prayer to Manon and to the witch gods she pulled a hairbrush from her coat and walked up to the knotted mess of white gold hair. Every day she had brushed the hair of her friend, as she had done before, another lifetime ago. The leather tie by whatever will of the gods held the hair firmly as she brushed it keeping it all perfect. Quietly Elide went to work braiding her friend's hair the only gift she could offer the dead Queen.
Without a word more Elide finished her work and brushed her hand down the wolf pelt, it too, clean and perfect. She then set about blowing out each candle until the tomb was lit only by the morning sunlight, smoke whirled around the room reminding her of the magic her friends had had.
Reverently she backed out of the room, offering up another silent prayer. As rays of light pierced through the foliage the Lady of Perranth hobbled back to her holding wondering as she went how she would make the daily trip once the snow settled.
Locran was in the dining room when she arrived for breakfast. Half frozen and quiet. There was no question's in his eyes as he pulled her chair towards the roaring fire. As she sat he handed her a warm mug of tea.
The first day though she had been quiet as to no disturb him as she disappeared at daybreak he had noticed. That breakfast he had only asked her one question. "Would you like me to join you?"
Her answer had been one word. "No."
And that was that.
The next morning was equally as cold yet the light danced with the shadows happily and the wind whispered in the pine trees of joy and peace. Elide did not know what to make of it.
As she glimpsed the tomb amongst the trees the little voice that was perhaps the reason Elide was still alive today spoke again. Listen…Look.
Following the voices instructions she approached the crypt cautiously, wary of any threats. Instead she heard a sound foreign to this quiet part of the forest.
And voices. Voices she recognised.
When she reached the little clearing before the tomb she noticed the golden and orange sunlight beaming down over the stone structure. Soft light poured from the archway and windows. The voices of her friends beckoned from within.
As she reached the archway she saw that inside every candle blazed, depicting Wyverns and Stags and people in the flames. The Wyverns flew from candle to candle, the people danced happily around fires celebrating. Elide could make out the palace in Orynth burning brightly in the chandelier, she could see dancers and their twirling ribbons, musicians and their instruments.
On the far wall orange and gold outlines danced around each other, a temple behind them and a rope bridge to where more figures waited. She looked carefully at the two figures dancing, they were fighting, one with knives the other with nails.
This was how Aelin and Manon had met, and where Aelin had saved Manon. The first life debt between them.
Elide watched the story she knew. Horrified and proud of the way the two fought wickedly. She doubted few would believe from seeing this battle that the two Queens would become allies and friends.
Fireworks of gold, red, orange, white and blue exploded around her.
Falling to her knees Elide knelt before the Queen whose presence filled the room with warmth. The wind howled in greeting, a King outside.
Elide lifted her head and her Queen's voice filled the room.
"Remember, this is not the end of the road. But the beginning of a new one."
With that the flames blazed white, blinding Elide momentarily in a flash the room returned to her view, candles burning normally. The wind had stopped its dancing between the pine but the stone around her remained warmth.
Elide looked at Manon's hair, messed once more. Instead of pulling out the hairbrush she sighed and rolled her eyes.
"Aelin can do your hair for once." She smirked.
In response there was a chuckle from the Queen and an amused huff and the sliding of Iron nails. A sound Elide was no longer fearful of.
Another flash of light filled the room blinding Elide once again, then tomb was only covered in sunlight. Manon's hair perfectly braided.
The tomb swelled with ecstasy and Elide was filled with a sense of serenity. Peace.
She knelt once more and the room filled with the sounds of her friends and family. Her mother, father, Aelin and Rowan, Manon. The scent of her mother hit her and her father as if they were embracing her.
When the feeling faded she picked her way back to her home, instead of searching for Locran or breakfast she went straight to her offices. She picked up her pen and began to write.
Halfway through her letter Locran appeared in the doorway, she told him. And watched as his eyes looked past the walls and forests, looking towards where his friend. King Rowan and his mighty Fireheart, Queen Aelin lay enshrined to be worshipped as new born Gods.
Elide's letter to the King of Terrasen read.
This is only going to be a one shot. It was based on a dream I had and it better not be remotely close to what will happen to all these beautiful characters.
Thank you to Sarah J. Maas for writing this series!