We were led up the stairs by Klyo, Nanoria close behind him. As we got to the statues, the elves inhaled, breathing in the musty scent of a thousand years. Junke nudged me with his hoof.
"Goizu," he's whispered, "what's so special about this place now that the keyholes are gone?"
"I don't know," I responded. "Maybe..." my voice trailed off. I had no clue what it could be.
"We were the Valkyrie." Nanoria spoke, her voice low. "The Warriors. The pegasus riders." I saw Saoni flinch just a little at this, and I exchanged a concerned look with Arvid. "The humans hated us. After all, what were we but more beautiful versions of them? One day, their jealousy overflowed and a magician created the Tornado and the Keys. They were pure evil.
They placed the keyhole in our own city, in our old throne room. Mindrali castle was flourishing before them. We had built the Pegasus statue first, so they decided to do the honour of chopping her head off and hiding the key there, in the finest of concrete. She... her name was Saoni. That was the name of every rightful Pegasus queen.
Saoni, if the people discover our escape, they will call for war. Will you, and the rest of Fantasia, stand by our side? Can we join forces as the legendary Valkyrie once more?"
We all stared at Saoni in silence. "I... uhh... but..."
"But?" Nanoria prompted.
"I'm not the queen..."
"Then who is?" the elf responded, concern, sadness, and even a bit of anger tinting her voice.
"My sister, Lolinami."
Nanoria was taken aback. "Did she steal the throne from you? What harm has she done?"
"Nothing! She's completely innocent! And I'd hate being queen anyway. That would leave no time for adventure, or meetings at Ritual, or even my friends!"
Echoes of her voice rang out in the dimness of dusk. Nanoria swallowed hard. "Orders cannot be ignored. If you don't want to be Queen, then you won't be. Take me to your city... Ferustyne, I recall. I wish to meet with her."
"Actually," I said, speaking for Saoni. The whole thing had obviously left her shaken. "Queen Lolinami is at Drakaupi at the moment. We'd have to go there."
Nanoria's brow wrinkled in annoyance. "Eh, okay. But first, can we move in again? We haven't seen the city in so long, it would be a shame if we couldn't call it home."
Klyo took the lead, nodding hesitantly. The elf responded by pulling out a flute and playing a few high pitched notes on it. With that, a huge dust cloud formed on the horizon and one hundred elves pored onto the hillside, running from where the Tornado used to be. The hungry looking civilisation sauntered majestically into the hall. The tall figures loomed over me, so I retreated to the safety of Arvid. As I hopped on his back, I noticed Saoni wearing a look of despair on her face.
"Is this all left?" I scanned the horde, and my heart sunk. It was a lot less than it seemed, maybe sixty elves, all half-starved. Nanoria gazed submittively over her people. "Yes. With enough food and training, they should be fit to be called Valkyrie again."
I sensed some Saoni drama coming quickly as she stared into the blazing red sunset.
"I sure hope so. The humans are likely to attack soon."
And of course, the Saoni drama just about had to be her sealing our fates and quite possibly writing our endings for us.