A discovery, a vision
The gray coated pegasus glided high up in the sky while scouting the ground to see if there was anything of interest to report. The wind tugged her vest and blue mane while snow smattered against her goggles. This high up the air was bitingly cold but she was hardly bothered by it, having grown up in this frozen land of Scania had made her resilient to such things.
“Sigh, why have these rounds been so boring lately?” she said to herself while flapping her wings to make another pass over her designated scouting area. It had been several weeks since any of the scouting pegasi had had anything of value to report and while truthfully that also meant there is no danger around she felt that the boredom was getting to her.
“It’s been the same routine everyday now; fly out, scout around and then return home with nothing new to say and…and who the buck am I talking to anyway!?” she half screamed in frustration. She just wanted to fly home by now but felt that she would probably just end up more irritated if she didn’t feel she did her job thoroughly regardless of how boring it was.
But as she flew on she spotted something moving further down by a cave wall. She glided towards the spot soundlessly and landed just a bit away, sneaking up to hide by some rocks. She peeked over her hiding spot and finally made out what it was.
* A snow griffon! But what is it doing here? This is beyond their own borders!* she thought to herself. Her hoof wandered to the blade by her side as she was tempted to hurl herself at it and punish it for daring to venture into pony land but didn’t as she could hear the griffon talking to someone, which obviously meant it wasn’t alone.
“This better be the right one or I’ll pluck your feathers on that nitwit head of yours! This is the fifth cave we look into.” The griffon said with anger in his voice. Just then another voice replied.
“YES! Yes this is the one!” the other voice replied while coming out of the cave opening. Just as she had expected it was another griffon. “I told you I’d find it again! Oh man the lord will be so pleased with us for finding this huge crystal mine!” the other griffon rambled on with clear excitement in his voice.
“Alright, alright now shut up you nit. Remember we are still in pony territory and we need to make sure we get a head start on this thing; otherwise those ponies will just claim the mine for themselves and get their grubby hoofs on our crystals.” he said while taking off from the ground, flying away with the other one in tow.
Once she saw they were far away she snuck into the cave herself to have a look around and she was amazed. Even though the opening was quite small the actual cave was humongous on the inside and brimmed with crystals.
“I can’t believe it…this kind of mine have been here all along? The Jarl must know of this right away!” and she took off to return to her village, unknowing just what the discovery she had made would bring…
Frosty was standing by the edge of the village, his deep blue mane and coat making him blend in with the shadows that came with the downing sun. He gazed out into the horizon, keeping watch for the last pegasi to return.
"She should be back soon enough," Frosty heard his father say behind him. Frosty wasn't sure how he managed to sneak up on him so easily with what seemed like no effort put into it, only that he did it time after time again.
"Yes father, I know. It's just rare for her to be the last one to arrive," Frosty said with some worry in his voice. "She's been so tense these last days and I just hope she hasn't gotten herself in some kind of trouble."
"Come now son, you of all ponies should now that, as bullheaded as she might be she knows well enough when to fight and when to avoid it."
Frosty’s father, whose name is Bleak Horizon, went to sit next to his son. His cyan coat and white mane almost seemed to glow as the last rays of the sun shined upon his body.
"Well, well, here she finally comes," he said when spotting the form of the gray pegasus which quickly closed the distance and soon landed in front of them both.
"Hey there Frosty, and greetings honored priest," she said to Bleak with a bow while removing her goggles.
Bleak Horizon was a unicorn and had since his early days been trained in the art of magic and had aspired to the rank of Rune Priest, a highly regarded position which gave him much respect.
"Greetings to you Sky Hail, I hope your round went well, you seem to have made my son worry a bit."
"Oh, did I now?" she said with a smug smile.
"Tsk, only because I thought we would soon have to gather a rescue party for ya." Frosty stated jokingly.
"Well regardless, you did take longer than usual to return, did something keep you?"
"Actually yes, something did and I need to report it the Jarl right away!"
"Well let's not tally then." Bleak stood up and started to walk towards the village Longhouse were the Jarl lived.
In Scania a "Jarl" is essentially the village headsman who governs it as he sees fit. Though it offers many privileges it is also an enormous responsibility.
"So you found something? What is it?" Frosty asked Sky as they followed Bleak.
"You'll hear when I tell the Jarl, but trust me, this is big!
“A crystal mine you say?”
The Jarl was now very intrigued and with good right to be so, Arcane Crystals are the most rare and valuable resource that can be found in Scania. Sky was standing in front of the Jarls throne, giving her report.
“Yes my Jarl, but I’m afraid that is not all. I came upon this mine because I spotted a griffon right outside it. I didn’t engage it because I was unsure of how many more there were, it turned out there were two of them. I did however manage to spot their emblem and it seems they are from the Razor Wing clan.
“Hm, then it was wise of you to avert combat. The Razor Wings are especially fierce in battle and in a two against one battle I fear it would not have ended well for you. But regardless, you did a fine job and tonight you dine at my table, you have earned that right.
“Oh thank you my Jarl.” She bowed her head and went to stand next to Frosty stood at the end of the room while the Jarl addressed Bleak.
“The discovery of the mine pleases me but the fact that those cursed griffons have dared into my territory does not, we have not had conflict with the Razor Wing clan for several years, why do you think they would dare such a risky move now?”
“I am not sure, the fact that those two griffons seemed to already know of it, they simply needed to re-find it, means this isn’t the first time they have ventured into our borders. The question is if the discovery of a new recourse mine were their intentions all along or did they just come upon it by chance when on their true mission? We need to take caution against this Strength.”
Before going into the Longhouse Bleak had put on his ceremonial black robe with silver linings which showed his rank. As Rune Pries he acted as the advisor to the Jarl, but they were also quite good friends and had fought several battles side by side, which was the reason why Bleak referred to the Jarl by his given name, Mighty Strength.
“Yes, you are right, but I will not let those feathery bastards cheat us on that mine…Guard!”
“Yes my Jarl?”
“Tell the warriors to prepare, eat well and then rest, for as soon as the sun rises we head out for the mine. We shall teach them a lesson they’ll never forget!”
“Understood!” and the guard rushed out to inform everyone of the coming march tomorrow.
“I presume you have no objections to that Bleak?”
“None, so long as we stay vigilant, those griffons won’t back down from using dirty tricks.”
“Yes, true, but we will be prepared for anything. Now I believe it’s time to feast!”
The Jarl clapped his hoofs together and servants entered with plates of various food.
“Come now; eat up, for in the coming days we will be busy sending those bird brains whimpering back home for daring to try take what is ours!”
The storm was raging around him, the cold harsh winds clawing at his body. He could hear a voice in the wind, a laugh that goaded him. He walked on through the storm until he finally saw something. He got closer but once he could see it properly, fear gripped his heart; before him was a pony incased in solid ice, a look of horror upon the face of the poor soul trapped. Bleak turned away but there was another in front of him, this time a griffon. Everywhere he looked there were more bodies and more and more! All around were scattered weapons and armaments of both pony and griffon kind. They had been useless to save them from the horror.
The laughing was becoming louder and now it sounded like some sort of rambling in an unknown language. It came from above and when he looked up he could see two eyes, burning with hatred and cold fire. The eyes were becoming bigger and bigger until it seemed they were about to swallow him and then…!
“Dear wake up!”
Bleak startled as he awoke, staring into the purple eyes of his wife. He felt his dry mouth from the panting and how the bed covers stuck to his sweaty body. His wife’s eyes shun with worry in them.
“Dear, what’s the matter? You were twisting and turning something fiercely and…I think you were talking in your sleep.”
He grasped his wife in a comforting hug to calm her…and himself. He ran his hoof through her green mane, feeling his heart ease it’s thumping by the familiar motion.
“It’s ok my love, it was just a nightmare…” But even as he said the words aloud he knew it wasn’t true.
A Rune Priests task is learn from the things around them, both living and the things in the beyond, to better understand it and share their knowledge to the lord they served. Bleak had experienced nightmares before, and they had been nothing like this.
“Go back to sleep,” he said “I need to speak with the Jarl. I won’t be long.”
Bleak got out of the bed and put on his ceremonial robe and headed out, while his wife looked on, wondering just what he had witnessed in his dream.
Bleak had entered the Longhouse once more and requested to speak with the Jarl. Anypony else would have been denied as the Jarl was sleeping but Bleaks rank as advisor gave him the right to speak with him at any time.
The Jarl came into the main chamber were Bleak was waiting. The priest could see the sour face his Jarl had; he had been up long planning for the coming march and had most likely only recently gone to bed.
"This better be important Priest," he said with ill hidden irritation in his voice.
Bleak realized he must have woken him from quite the good slumber since he only referred to him by title when in a foul mood, but he didn't blame him since he knew full well how Strength craved good rest before battle of any sort so he could keep a sharp, clear mind.
"I believe it is. I had a dream in which..."
"A dream!? You woke me up over a bloody dream!?"
"Mighty listen to me!"
That caught his attention. Friendly as they might be, Bleak still showed the proper respect by at the very least refer to the Jarl by his last name.
"Please, I believe this is of grave importance. In my dream I saw both pony and griffon trapped in ice by some fierce storm…or something worse. I think it's an omen that if we go to war with them over the mine dire consequences will befall both sides."
"So you would have me give up this mine? Even though you know full well what kind of prosper it can give us? Think of how we could expand our village and increase our well being. Even if we disregard our loss the Griffons will take it and use the trade income from it to fuel their own intents, they could use it to increase their armaments and attack us! No Bleak, we cannot, I won't allow it!"
Both Mighty and Bleak turned to see the form of Sharing Joy, Bleaks wife. This blue coated and purple eyed earth pony made justice to both her name and cutie mark, a hearth surrounded by several small ones, as she was the kindest soul of the entire village. She loved and cared for everypony in the village, though Bleak and her son Frosty held a special place in her heart.
"Listen to Bleak, I beg you. I saw the haunted look upon his face after he had that vision and I have never seen such before. You know there is only one way we can solve this...you must speak with the Razor Wing lord and agree on a sharing of the mine."
“I agree, it’s the only way to certainly avoid combat and thereby this vision,” Bleaks said while going to stand next to his wife.
"Have you two gone mad?! They were to steal it right under our noses and now you want us to share it?!" Mighty roared in anger.
Joy looked at Mighty, still calm. They had been friends since foals and she knew his temper well. His strong will and unbreakable resolve was one if the things that made him such a ferocious warrior, but he was also incredibly stubborn and some say it’s easier to crush stone with your head than to change his mind over something.
"My husband is your adviser and you would not bear permission to place your rump on that throne if not for him. How many times has he advised you in battle tactic? How many times has he guided you in how to govern this village and its trades? He has never had anything but this village and its inhabitants in mind and how to best aid them, why would now be any different?"
Mighty grumbled as he knew she was right. Bleak had indeed always stood by him regardless of the case and Mighty trusted Bleak above all else…now was time to show that trust.
"Very well, I shall send a message to the griffon village regarding my knowledge of the mine, and my intent to negotiate a share of it."
Joy smiled, but Bleak did not. All he could think of was his vision. Is it even correct to call it that? Could it simply have been an overly real nightmare? Even if it was a glimpse of the future, would these actions he had taken have any hope of preventing what is to come? Could it be that everything he did was for naught? These thoughts would haunt him till the day they were finally answered…and he would wish they had never been.