Eltrio and Xia were in love, but fate ripped them apart. Xia's Dragovian father forcing her to return to her homeland. Eltrio has tried to follow.
Another wave of violent coughing hit him. Blood splattered on the stones like little crimson teardrops. Lovely, he thought, it‘s not like I‘m already bleeding enough on the outside, now I‘m bleeding on the inside too. It didn’t matter though, and Eltrio knew it. He was dying and had been dying for quite some time.
The troll’s club had broken his back. If the monster hadn’t lost its balance and fallen into a chasm it would have finished him off on the spot. Instead, the young man was left paralyzed from the waist down.
All in all, Eltrio had made remarkable progress, crawling with only his arms for over a dozen miles. He had continued to crawl even as his hands grew bloody from the continuous chafing on the rocky ground, even when his nails began tearing off one by one he hadn’t stopped. But it was over now. His arms had reached their physical limit. They felt nearly as limp as his legs.
He sighed. Never again would he see the woman whom he loved. He had done his best. Struggling against the colossal odds with his entire force of will, but even so, he would never again see Xia.
From the first time he laid yes on her, he knew that she was special, though, he couldn’t have guessed just how much. They had fallen in love, both of them harboring a secret, each believing their own to be the larger. Eltrio was the Crown Prince of Argonia. Xia was of the ancient Dragovian race.
When their secrets came out, neither had cared. They were still in love. At the time Eltrio hadn’t even known what a Dragovian was, but to him it was a minor detail. Xia was Xia. Dragovian, human, elf, or even some exotic form of slime. It didn’t matter in the slightest. As long as they were together he was happy.
Then fate had intervened, and she was taken away from him. Her own father, Chen Mui, had shown up out of nowhere, and he had taken her back with him. Back to the Dragovian Sanctuary. A place so secret that no human had even heard of it in over a thousand years.
Where Xia had once resided in his heart, now stood nothing but a gaping pit. He was told by Chen Mui that he’d never see her again. To him she was supposed to be dead. He mourned, but the pain didn’t heal. How could it? When a loved one died most people could eventually accept the fact and move on. This was different, because Xia wasn’t dead. She was alive. Beyond his reach, but not dead. That bit of knowledge was wedged inside of the gaping pit in his heart, refusing to let it close.
The pit hurt so much it threatened to drive the young prince mad. It couldn’t close, so instead he filled it up. Eltrio poured an obsession to find her into the pit. His life became one frantic search. A search for a woman he knew existed, and for a place that most believed didn’t.
For nearly a month he searched through ancient tomes in the Argonia castle vaults. When he found nothing he moved on. Using his rank he was granted access to the greatest libraries in the world, yet still learned almost nothing about the Dragovians. It was if they had been stricken from existence.
Then one night while searching in the Trodain Castle Library he stumbled upon a portal to the Moon Shadow Realm. Whether the portal appeared by random chance, or if it was drawn by his desperation to find answers, Eltrio would never know. Inside he met Ishmahri, and like a genie out of a bedtime story the mysterious stranger promised a single wish. Instantly the obsession in Eltrio’s heart mingled with hope, filling him with a relief so profound that he wept.
Ishmahri told him that the Dragovian Sanctuary was protected by ancient magic, and that he could not take Eltrio directly there. He could, however, open the path for him. This was more than enough for the prince.
Armed only with his sword, and his willpower that had been tempered by love, obsession, and hope, he attempted the journey. Nobody knew that he had left, an unfortunate thing, still it was unavoidable. It would have been impossible to tell anyone where he was headed without mentioning the Dragovians. Xia’s people wanted to live in isolation, and Eltrio would respect that. He would not, however, let them force Xia into that same isolation against her will.
The road to the Sanctuary was ridiculously treacherous. Most of it was inside winding caves, and seemingly bottomless chasms were everywhere. It was the most inhospitable place Eltrio had ever seen. The thought of life existing in such a desolate place was as close to insane as a thought could be. Crazier still was that there was life. A lot of it. The entire area was a breeding ground for monsters.
Every type of beast Eltrio had heard of lurked within the caverns. Some he’d only previously known about through books, and several that were foreign even to the knowledgeable prince. Using every bit of stealth he could gather he tried to avoid confrontations whenever possible, but he still ended up proving himself a master swordsmen again and again.
To sleep for even a moment was to invite death. Without resting he pressed forward. Days passed, Eltrio fought desperately onward, time blurred. A small army would have found it difficult to achieve the progress the lone prince accomplished. A heroic feat that would remain forever unsung.
It all ended when a troll landed a single blow.
More coughs wracked his shattered body, and more blood stained the already red stones. The blood now came in copious amounts. His vision rapidly grew dim. He had sacrificed everything on a near impossible gamble. It had failed.
Eltrio couldn’t see anymore. He began taking his last rattling breaths. Even if he had known what the outcome would be, he still would have tried. He didn’t regret his love for a Dragovian --for Xia-- and he didn’t regret giving up everything for his love. He didn’t even regret dying so far away from home, away from everyone he knew. It had all been worth that one in a million chance that he might have succeeded.
There in a land completely foreign to him, Eltrio, the Crown Prince of Argonia, took his last breath of life.
“If I could do it all over, Xia…I‘d try again…”