Stormy – Nightfall

Summary: Set in an alternate universe ending for her Starstone fanfic, this story explores a tragic end for Jewel Riders.

Archival Note from The Jewel Riders Archive: This story is presented as it was originally published on Stormy’s “Avalon” fan site in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It is presented for archival purposes and for the enjoyment of the Jewel Riders fandom. If you are the author of this story and wish to have it removed from the Jewel Riders Archive (or wish to share more!) please email us at archivist@jewelridersarchive.com. Happy Reading!


Nightfall, a Jewel Riders fanfic by Stormdance

Disclaimer: The people I created are mine, the others aren’t. No money is being made.

 

Note: This is not like my other Jewel Rider stories. It is dark and nasty, as much as I can make it. It opens with the deaths of three Jewel Riders, and closes with the death of the fourth. Get the picture what kind of story this is? It is not part of my Trina series; this stuff doesn’t really happen. You have been warned. Oh yeah, and I never said the poetry is any good. And if you liked this or hated in, email me at mbaring@powernet.net and tell me! I had serious doubts about posting this, so please let me know what you think!

 

Nightfall

 

Oh the night falls awfully fast now

And I cannot see the sun

My reflection and the fire tints it golden

Gold and orange the coming

Of an awful final dawn

 

Stone under my hands I cannot shape it

And I can’t recreate the past

We are changed our friends don’t know us

But what is done is ever done

 

She clung to the ridge of black stone as the sun went down. The air chilled, a night wind brushed her gently. She didn’t care. The wind said that she could pull herself up, then throw herself into the crater. Broken on the blasted rock, such an image it would be. The last Jewel Rider. Silver hair spilled on black stone in the moonlight. Yes, she would do it. In a minute.

She didn’t. The moon rose higher. It occurred to her finally that if she wasn’t going to die it might be a good idea to get off this rock and try to find

What? Some trace of the others? The wizard jewels, buried in slag? Or just shelter from the night air? She was shivering violently, her teeth chattering but her hands gripped the ridge as if they’d forgotten how to uncurl. She hurt all over. Climb down. Find a place to stay. If you’re going to live, go do something about it.

Some part of her still had that monumental stubbornness, and it was that part that climbed shaking down from the ridge into the forest. That part also made her gather up a few scattered pearls and sharp fragments of aqua glass. She didn’t think about why she was doing it, just put them in her pouch and stumbled through the trees. She stared at the big oak for about a minute before she realized why she’d stopped there. Oh, the space between the roots. The girl crawled between them and curled up as small as she could. It was warmer there. She fell into sleep instantly, desperately.

 

Oh the night falls awfully fast now

Why should I reach out for

A star I cannot see

When no one’s waiting up for me

 

Who promised you a happy ending

Who ever said the light would win

When the balance is so fragile

Let only one give in, destroy it all

Let the night fall

 

People were in the woods. Search parties from New Camelot. Their voices flew back and forth strangely. The girl had never heard grown-ups sound so afraid before. Not since the night when she was seven, the night when her father hadn’t come home and her mother had paced and muttered until midnight. Then she’d gone out and never come back. But that had been a long time ago, half a lifetime. Why did it seem so close?

Someone was coming nearer. She could hear their feet on the pine needles that covered the ground. A hissing sliding noise whenever they stepped. Then a gasp and someone she didn’t know saying, “Girl? Starstone Rider? Are you all right?” She saw no reason to answer him, and only curled tighter in her little hollow.

“Spirit, she’s sick!” the man muttered, then yelled, “Your majesties! Anybody! Kasan, get the king, I’ve found…”

A long time later… it might have been a long time… a dozen people were gathered around her tree.

“Trina?” asked a voice she did know. “Trina hon, come out of there,”

She turned her head to look up at the Queen of Avalon. Anya was a blur of pale face and golden hair. She looked like Gwen. “All right.” Trina replied in a whisper. Her voice wouldn’t do anything else. She squirmed out of her den, then King Jared was there and lifting her up to sit before him on his wolf. Trina gathered her energy to speak again, “Gwen, th’others… Morgana used the wizard jewels… all t’once ‘nd it… blew up. Gwen, Fallon, Tam’ra…were in there.” She couldn’t say any more. Couldn’t look up at the king and queen. Couldn’t help imagining their faces. But there was one last thing she needed to ask. “Did you find… Silverwind?”

“Trina?” someone said very hesitantly. She slipped down from Goliath’s back and walked three steps to face the man. He was holding something wrapped in cloth, like it was either a holy relic or something horrible. Trina held her breath as he unfolded it. The cloth fell away from a spiraled shaft of aqua glass. Perfect soft curves from the wide base to the rounded point. Perfect, except where it was broken off at the base. Broken. Savagely, so it had crackedall the way up.

Trina could hear her heart pounding in her ears. She tried to scream but couldn’t make a sound. Then she fainted.

 

The night falls awfully fast now

Why do I even try

I tell myself there’s something good ahead

But can’t believe it just now

 

I know what I am working for

A future for those who deserve it

But I will not live in a world I create

And I cannot live alone

 

Trina slept for days, waking only to drink the healers’ potions or when nightmares drove her out of the darkness. She whispered out what had happened to her friends on one snowy night.

She looked like a ghost, faded and drawn except for her eyes which burned the blue like gas flames, fiercely alive. It was a winter night, the sky outside the color of black ice and as friendly. Trina shivered in her blankets, despite the fire the king had built. She’d laughed to see the king of all Avalon doing a servant’s job for her. Then she sat up and the king and queen pulled chairs close to her bed to listen. She talked in a flat voice, it would have been just as emotionless if she had her real voice instead of a fever-scorched whisper.

“They went into Morgana’s castle to get the jewels back. Silverwind and I waited outside as back up. We separated. I climbed up one of the walls and looked in. Morgana had them trapped in a circle, she was doing something with the wizard jewels. Then she lost control, I could see it in her face. The jewels started glowing. I jumped away from the wall, something made me jump. Then the castle exploded. I was blown clear but I hit my head on the way down. When I woke up it was evening and all there was was that crater. I climbed up the side and looked in. There was nothing there. I knew they were all gone. Then I went down and hid in the forest where you found me.”

That wasn’t all, of course. She talked all night answering their questions, just talking, or crying silently into her pillow. “I’m sorry about Gwen. I wish it wasn’t like that, I wish she was here…” Trina whispered. The words were empty, but they were the best she had. Queen Anya cried too, and said the same things. She couldn’t cry like this in public. “I know Tri, I know. Gwen was our light, I miss her every moment. And Fallon, Tamara, Sunstar, Moondance, Shadow…”

“We have lost so much.” King Jared said, “So much.”

 

Oh the night falls awfully fast now

And my tears fall quicker still

The darkness seems to last forever

Is there no way back

 

And I miss yesterday more every moment

Why should I go forward

Is anyone waiting there

But there’s no way out of the maze unless you find the end

There never is

 

“The fact is,” King Jared told the gathered council, “That the Jewel Riders are no more. Gwenevere, Tamara, and Fallon are dead. Their jewels may still exist in that crater, and we must try to find them. The Starstone Rider is alive, but her animal friend is not and her jewel is shattered. The Pack is well able to defend New Camelot for the moment, but we must work to recreate the Jewel Riders.”

Trina was sitting quietly behind the queen’s throne. She hadn’t been up and about for a long time, and she still looked like some kind of mournful ghost. Felt like that most of the time too.

When they went out to look for the jewels, Trina rode behind Drake. She couldn’t hear Thunder telling his rider things, and felt deaf. She hadn’t been alone in her own head since meeting Silverwind, and it was so lonely.

The wizard jewels were in the center of the crater, embedded in a round sheet of black glass. Max said it was volcanic glass, that the heat of the explosion had melted the stone. The Sunstone was found nearby, cracked and covered in soot and dust. Drake took it carefully and left the group. When he returned, the jewel was whole and sparkling. No one asked, but Trina had heard him crying and knew he’d called magic somehow and fixed the jewel. The Moonstone and the Heartstone were found also, and then there was nothing more in the crater.

On the way back to the Travel Trees, Trina suddenly jumped off Thunder’s back and swept in the pine needles that covered the ground. She’d discovered a large piece of her shattered jewel. It was two points of the star across from each other, and the very heart of the jewel. One of the points was smoothly rounded, but for the rest the stone had been sheared away leaving a jagged edge. An aqua dagger as long as her hand. Trina slid it into her pouch.

“You’re keeping that?” Drake asked, carefully neutral, “It’s so… ugh.”

“I’m keeping it.” Trina replied shortly, and let him lift her onto Thunder’s back.

(I fear for her.) the greatwolf told his rider silently, (She’s all air and steel, and either could destroy her.) Drake wasn’t sure what his friend meant under the flowery language, but Thunder’s words carried a ring of truth.

Trina was clenching her hands around her pouch, so tight that the leather was split by the edges of what had once been an enchanted jewel. Her eyes were dry, less fever-bright than Drake had seen them in a long while. But now she looked old and terrible, uncannily like Morgana. Drake put his arms around her; it was the only thing he could think to do.

 

Oh the night falls awfully fast now

And I stumble in the dark

Do I hear you calling

Or am I hearing what I want to hear

 

No one has lit a candle

I’m walking forward in the dark

And I trust my feet to guide me

For my heart is blind

And it is night

 

Tansy had been very excited when the Moonstone Rider came to her house and offered her a place to stay and an education at the Crystal Palace. Nerissa had hinted pretty loudly that Tansy was going to become a Jewel Rider. Tansy had liked the idea then—in fact she’d jumped up and down and shouted for joy. But now she was having serious second thoughts.

It wasn’t the people. Nerissa and her animal partner Lightfoot were very fun people and let Tansy in on their pranks and games with the illusion power of the Moonstone. And the best thing had been meeting the Heartstone rider, Robin, and her little animals. Robin had introduced Tansy first to a young unicorn named Violet, because she was. For Tansy, that was that; they were friends forever.

They were nice. The King and Queen were very cool when they didn’t have to be being royal. The Pack was two boys a little older than Tansy, and a young man named Drake. Drake was going to be king someday, and everyone looked at him because of that. Everyone also knew that he had been in love with Princess Gwenevere, and they looked at him for that too. Tansy felt sorry for Drake because of all the looking and whispering about him, but there was nothing she could do. There was one person at the palace who Tansy really wasn’t sure about. Lady Trina, the only Jewel Rider to survive the fight with Morgana. Trina had stared at tansy from behind Nerissa when the Moonstone Rider welcomed her to the palace. And that was all Tansy had seen of her for a long time. Trina had even more rumors about her than Drake did, mostly nasty rumors.

One morning Tansy had gotten up to find a note had been pushed under her door; the usual way for early risers to communicate with the folks who got up at sensible hours. This note was from Lady Trina, an invitation to meet out in the meadow for breakfast. Trina’s handwriting bore a certain resemblance to chicken tracks, which made Tansy giggle and realize that the Noble Lady was, just maybe, a human being too. She’d gone and chatted with the former Starstone Rider… and decided Trina was definitely human, and pretty cool at that. Obsessed with learning about magic, but human. Trina had started teaching her about magic and enchanted jewels, and Tansy knew she and Violet were good at it.

“But what’s the point?” Tansy asked Violet one evening. They were alone in the meadow, watching the sunset and talking, “Why teach us magic if we can’t be Jewel Riders? All the enchanted jewels are taken except the Starstone and it’s broken.”

(I know. I’ve seen the pieces. How do you fix an enchanted jewel?)

“Ummm.” Tansy thought for a while, “The friendship ceremony I think. Maybe we’ll do it, that would be very cool.”

 

They were being watched. Trina stood in a dark window and looked out over the courtyard wall at the pair running in the meadow. She nodded to herself, and smiled.

“Trina?” said a voice behind her.

Trina jumped, “Oh, Drake, what’s up?”

Instead of answering, Drake asked, “What are you looking at?”

“Tansy and Violet. They’re going to be great Jewel Riders when the Starstone’s fixed.”

“You know how?” Drake demanded.

“Mm-hm. What did you really want to ask me?” She hoped it would get Drake off the subject of the Starstone.

“Well. King Jared is going to hand over the crown to me at midwinter. Don’t tell anyone, it’s not official yet. And it would be best for Avalon if I had a queen… would you like the job?”

Trina was stunned. “Me? You mean, marry you?”

“That is the usual method.” Drake said with a lopsided grin.

Trina just stared at him. “I have to think.” She closed her eyes and thought for a few minutes. Finally she asked, without opening her eyes, “Are you in love with me?”

“…No. But you’d make a very good queen, that’s why.”

Trina relaxed. “Thank you for the offer, Drake. No, I won’t be queen.”

“Oh.” Drake tried again, “Why not?”

She giggled, “Not because of you! But… I know how to fix the Starstone, and after that I won’t be… able to be queen.”

“Tri, what are you up too?” Drake asked, sounding very royal.

Trina just shook her head, “Later I’ll tell you. Maybe. Tansy’s learned all I’ve got to teach her. She’s an amazing kid.” She glanced out the window, but it was dark and the lamps were being lit inside. All she saw was her own reflection. “Goodbye Drake.” She turned and walked away. Drake called after her but there was no answer.

 

The night falls awfully fast now

All good things must end

Sunlight chases dreams away

And nightmares fall apart

 

There is a light ahead of me

My light of hope

I will not live in the world I create

But others will and that’s enough

And I will not be alone

 

Trina knelt on the floor of her room, and looked around one last time. There was her bed, her desk that was still not clean. The shelves of books and trinkets she’d bought or been given in her years here. Her dresser, mostly empty, with a small mountain of cards and letters on top. There was the chair Anja used to use when she came to teach Trina the spells that Trina had just finished passing on to her successor.

(Tansy. Do I really want to do this to Tansy? No, I don’t. But I have to or there will never be another Starstone Rider. And I have to now or I never will.

(Would it be such a bad life? Marry Drake, help rule Avalon? No, not a bad life at all. In fact I’d really like it… though I don’t thing I’d be that great a queen. But Avalon needs the Jewel Riders more than it needs me. And there’s the heart of it.)

She was holding the biggest piece of her shattered jewel. The sharp edged dagger piece. It was sharp enough to cut the wind, and as long as her hand. Long enough. She unlaced her tunic and opened the front. Then she held the shard away from her in both hands, the sharp point in.

Time to go.

She pulled the blade towards her hard.

 

Trina heard herself scream, faint and faraway. The pain was terrible for a very long moment, then it faded too. Then she was standing, looking down at the girl curled on the floor in a fan of blood. She turned away from her body and started to run.

(Trina!) She heard the cry just before Silverwind landed in front of her. (Trina, no! Go back! You can call a healer and–)

“No.” Trina said softly, “We have to renew our jewel. Now, before I die back there.”

(You can’t do this!)

“I am.” Trina said. Then she flung her arms around Silverwind’s neck and began to cry.

 

Tansy woke up to someone calling her name. There was a light in her room. No, a spirit guardian as beautiful as the paintings in her mother’s books. A spirit with silvery fair hair and a white cape over her jewel armor. Tansy blinked. “Trina?”

“Yeah, it’s me.” The Trina-spirit sounded so sad, “I came to say goodbye. The circle is turning. This is for you.”

Tansy held out her hands, and the Starstone fell into them as softly as a raindrop. “Tri—you’re not really there. I can see right through you.” She tried to make her eyes beg for an explanation.

Trina gave her a sad smile, “I know. There’s letters in my room that’ll explain. Only—have someone who doesn’t know me go in first, OK?” She looked over her shoulder at something Tansy couldn’t see. “Oh, my time’s up. I have to go. Goodbye Tansy, good luck. Tell them I’m sorry. Goodbye!” She said in a rush. Then something strange happened. That whole side of the room filled with glowing mist. Trina seemed to get younger suddenly; she was fourteen again and happy. She waved to Tansy, then turned and walked away. It was hard to see through the mist, but Tansy thought she saw a beautiful unicorn come and walk with Trina, away from the world.

Then the mist faded, and they were gone. Tansy stared down at the enchanted jewel cupped in her hands.

 

 

 

 

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