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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:45 pm

Romantic Ride
Location: Haven, Borderlands
Year: 75 F.A.
Status: Late Autumn

The sun rose over the mountains, casting a golden glow over the land. The leaves of the trees were bright reds and yellows, a sure sign that the warm weather would soon leave them, and that before too long, winter would be setting in. Preparations were already underway for those who lived in the Borderlands, for food, wood, and things that the animals would need. Crops were checked daily in anticipation of the harvest that would begin any day.

Roydon and Rose were still living at the ranch, and had been there now for over a year – Elrohir had told him to wait before taking Arwen away from them, and he had every intention of doing exactly what his future father-in-law asked of him. Besides that, Rose was finally comfortable somewhere and with someone besides her brother: Adonijah and Adanedhel had both taken a special interest in her, and she in the both of them. Roydon didn’t want to take that away from her before he had to.

And of course, there was always the fact that though it was common knowledge that he and Arwen would marry, he hadn’t quite gotten around to talking to her yet about it. Technically they weren’t even engaged, though there was no doubt that it would happen. Still, he was trying to think of a way to ask her without making it obvious or expected … which was a challenge.

Or perhaps not. After all, they often went for day-long rides … maybe he could spring it on her when she wasn’t expecting it, when they would normally just tease each other … yes, that would work …

“Catch me!” Arwen laughed, kicking her horse into a gallop and racing through the trees at a breakneck pace. Her long hair fanned out behind her as she disappeared through the trees, and soon only the thunder of hooves and the sound of her laughter were left to tell Roydon where she had gone.

He grinned to himself and gave her a moment’s head start before urging his own horse into a run, chasing after her. He knew where she was going … they always went to the same place, every single time, without fail. Of course, what they did once they got there changed just about every single time: swimming, fishing, hunting, walking, running, more riding … or just sitting and talking. It was almost a daily routine for them by now. Haradhel was good for letting Arwen off chores on most days, though there were some when Arwen had to do all of hers – as well as her brother’s, since he did them for her on the other days. Still, with Roydon’s help, they never took long and they always got a chance to just be together.

When he finally caught up with Arwen – or rather, her horse – she was nowhere in sight. He had learned however that that didn’t necessarily mean that she wasn’t nearby … or right in front of him. There were no tracks by the river … and the grass here was so beaten by their feet that it was impossible to tell if there were any new ones.

“Arwen?” he called out, reining in his horse and looking around. “Where have you gone this time?”

As expected, there was no response, but it didn’t bother Roydon. He was used to Arwen and her games by this time, and he had learned how to find her even when she was entirely invisible … because there was no such thing, he had discovered, as true invisibility. He closed his eyes and spread his arms, losing himself in the wind, listening to it, to the words that it brought to him …

He opened his eyes again, but he wasn’t seeing what was in front of him, not the usual way: his eyes were a milky white, and he was seeing what the wind was showing him, seeing with his Gift rather than his sight. Invisible or not, Arwen was still there, and the wind was forced to go around her just as much as if she were visible, and he could see her shape as clearly as if he were seeing her with his eyes.

He chuckled softly and his eyes returned to their normal brown, and before Arwen had a chance to move somewhere else he reached out with both hands and pulled her into a hug – rather an awkward feeling, hugging someone you couldn’t see, but he was getting used to that, too. He could feel Arwen giggle and hug him back, and a moment later she reappeared, nestled comfortably in his arms.

“I’ll never understand how you can always find me,” she laughed, giving him a peck on the cheek. “No one else has ever managed that except Aragost!”

Roydon chuckled softly and flicked the tip of Arwen’s nose. “That’s my secret,” he winked at her. “It’s no fun if I tell you.”

Arwen scrunched up her nose, then stuck out her tongue at him. “Meanie,” she teased him, letting go of him and wandering off towards the river. “Someday I’ll find out … and then you just wait.”

Roydon was still chuckling as he followed her, letting his horse’s reins drag on the ground so that it wouldn’t wander away.

“So what shall we do today?” he asked her warmly, removing his cloak and hanging it over a low branch next to the river. “Yesterday was fishing, the day before was a walk …”

Arwen turned around and smiled impishly, her hands clasped innocently behind her back. “Swim?” she suggested. “It’s a beautifully warm day; I think it would be great. Besides, it’s nearly Fading, and then we won’t be able to swim again for a few months.”

Roydon laughed. “We could, but it would just be very foolish of us,” he grinned. “But I do agree. It is a beautiful day, perfect for swimming.” He started to unbutton his shirt, but, Arwen giggled and stepped forward, brushing his hands aside and taking over for him.

“You should know by now,” she grinned impishly at him, “this is half the reason why I always suggest it. And of course, once we’re married …”

She laughed again, her eyes sparkling with mischief, but she didn’t finish her sentence. He knew what she was talking about. She pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it to one side, near his cloak. Her fingers danced over the muscles of his arms, her touch turning into a light caress, and she felt richly rewarded when he put his arms around her and held her close again.

“You know,” he murmured softly in her ear, one hand coming up to stroke her hair tenderly, “I just realized this morning … that despite everything … the things we talk about, the choices we make for our future … I haven’t even asked you if you want to marry me.”

Arwen giggled, for some reason rather amused by the idea.

“Well, why would you ask a question if you already know the answer?” she laughed. “Of course I’m going to marry you, silly! Really, how complicated does it have to be?”

Roydon chuckled and flushed faintly. “Well … it’s just that … traditionally, an engagement is begun with that question … so …”

Arwen took a half step back so that Roydon’s hands were resting on her waist, and looked up at him, half grinning.

“Well I thought our engagement began a long time ago,” she replied, “but if you need things to be just so … then Roydon, will you marry me?” And she put on a fake pout and gave him the puppy dog eyes he never refused anything for, even going so far as to put her hands under her chin in a begging manner.

Roydon burst out laughing, stepping forward and pulling Arwen to his bare chest once more.

“You goose!” he exclaimed. “I’m supposed to ask you!”

Arwen raised one eyebrow and looked at him suspiciously. “Does that mean no?” she teased him, pretending to be serious.

Instead of replying, Roydon lowered his head and kissed her warmly, cupping her chin in his hands and lifting her face to meet his. There was something so sweet, so innocent about her, and yet at the same time she was so mischievous and carnal … everything about her, he just loved her more.

Arwen returned the kiss willingly, closing her eyes and slipping her arms around his neck, holding him close to her until at last she was forced to pull away and breathe.

“One of these days,” she giggled, brushing her fingers lightly over his lips. She kissed him again, a quick peck, and then ran her hands over his shoulders.

Roydon sighed softly and leaned his forehead against hers. “One of these days is right,” he murmured quietly. “It’s been a year and a half since I came here … and it was five years before that that we first started seeing each other … we should choose a day to actually do it, just get married …”

Arwen giggled playfully. “Today?” she teased him.

He laughed. “A day in the near future but far enough away that we can give your parents fair notice,” he chuckled. “I can assure you, being married to me will be a lot more fun for you if I’m alive.”

Arwen slapped his arm teasingly. “Don’t be silly,” she admonished him. “Ada would never do such a thing! Though you are right,” she admitted, “we would have to give him notice. And Mama would want to do something special … maybe next week?”

Roydon thought about it. “Do you really think your father would let you leave with me on such short notice?” he asked her softly. “I mean … sure he’s been preparing himself for it for over a year now, but …”

Arwen bit her lip and looked up at him anxiously. “I … was kind of hoping we could stay out here, just for a while,” she murmured. “Just until someone from Gaia visits, so that I can tell them myself where I’m going … and why … and to say goodbye …”

“And where would we live, then?” he asked, puzzled. “Still with your parents? That would be a little … awkward, to say the least …”

“What about the house in the valley?” Arwen suggested. “The empty one. My uncle Lore and Aunt Elnara lived there for a year when they first got married, before they went back to their home … it’s been empty since then, waiting for another happy couple …”

“I thought Adanedhel would be moving in there …”

Arwen shook her head. “It’s for whoever gets married first,” she smiled reassuringly. “So really … we could … and then as soon as we have a chance to say goodbye to the people from Gaia, then we can head down to Namonuito, and you can return to your business.”

Roydon smiled. “You do present a good argument,” he chuckled softly. “And I do have to admit, my business is in good hands … but it’s not like we’re not going to see the Gaians again, Arwen, after all once Lin is grown we’ll be traveling with her and her friend Eärendil …”

“My cousin,” Arwen grinned. “My father’s brother’s son. You’re right, we will see her again … at least her … but still, it might be a while, because of the time difference … who knows how long that might be?”

Roydon looked down at her, his eyes filled with tender love, and he reached up and brushed some of her hair away from her face gently with one finger. How could he say no? All she wanted was to say goodbye to her friends, whom she might not see again for a very … very long time …

He leaned forward and kissed her tenderly on the side of her nose.

“If that is what you wish, my love,” he murmured, his eyes sparkling softly, “then that is how it shall be.”

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:45 pm

Broken Taboo
Location: Tor Karad
Year: 76 F.A.
Status: Late Stirring

Two months had gone by since Arwen and Roydon had left the Borderlands behind for their long journey south. Their travel had been slow – not because of any bad weather, though there were one or two storms, and not because they had any sort of trouble; on the contrary, it had been a surprisingly trouble-less trip – but simply because they were taking their time and stopping wherever they felt like it for a few days, and sometimes up to a week. Nevertheless, by the time they had reached the desert of the Southland, they decided that they would have to pick up the pace a bit. Roydon had already been away from his business for a few years, and it really would be best if he got back to it as soon as possible. Rose had stayed behind – living with Haradhel and Elrohir for the moment, though both Arwen and Roydon were certain it would not be long before she and Adanedhel married and moved to the house they had so recently vacated.

At first they had thought to go straight to Namonuito, the port city that Roydon called home – until one day Arwen pointed out how close they would be to Tor Karad.

“We’ll have to stop and see my great-grandparents,” she grinned at Roydon as they rode. “How could we pass so close to them and not see them? We don’t have to stay long, only one night if that’s what you want … but I can’t pass them by altogether.”

Roydon offered no argument. He of course had met her grandmother’s parents – they owned the inn he had been staying at when he had first run into her all those years ago – but he had never met her grandfather’s parents, and had never thought to do so … considering that they were the rulers of the Southland. Still, he reasoned, it would probably be a good idea to let the king and queen know who their new grandson-in-law was.

Of course, on their way to the palace, they had to stop at all of the places they had used to visit, when they had first met there: the bakery, the sweet shop, the jewelry shop, the market, and more. There were things that had changed, of course, but for the most part everything was the same, and they both enjoyed themselves immensely.

They were just leaving their last place of the day, the book shop, when a tall man stopped them just as they were about to mount their horses once more.

“Excuse me,” he called to them, one arm raised to flag them down. “Forgive me … but …”

He looked at Arwen, and his eyes were curious. “Have we met before? You look very … very much like someone I know …”

Arwen shook her head. “No, sir,” she replied politely, “this is only my second time in this city. I’m afraid you must be mistaken.”

She looked at the man thoughtfully, wondering just who it was she reminded him of. She was so intent in watching him that she didn’t notice the way Roydon moved close behind her, or how his expression and his stance grew suddenly very protective.

“If I may ask,” she murmured, “who are you thinking of?”

She doubted that she would know the person, but she was curious – she always had been. It was as much a part of her nature as her magic was. Nothing would change that.

The man smiled sadly. “My daughter,” he murmured. “Though it’s been so long … I haven’t seen her since before she married. Almost thirty five years …”

Arwen’s heart went out to the man. He looked and sounded so sorrowful …

“I’m sorry,” she murmured softly, reaching out to put one hand on the man’s shoulder. “I wish I could help you.” After a pause, she added, “What happened to her?”

The man shrugged. “She vanished one day,” he explained quietly. “For nearly two, three years I didn’t hear anything … and then one day a young man asked me for her hand in marriage. Since then, I haven’t seen or heard anything about her.”

He sighed and moved to turn away. “If you do happen to hear anyone talk about a woman named Haradhel, where she is or how she is … let me know?”

Arwen was just about to nod when her heart skipped a beat, and she blurted out, “Wait! Did you say Haradhel?”

The man faced her once more and nodded, his eyes curious and suspicious. “Why?”

Arwen felt excitement growing in her chest, and she ignored Roydon as he cleared his throat, trying to get her attention. “Very tall, taller than my husband?” she asked. “Unusually thin? Elemental summoner?”

The man’s eyes grew wide. “Yes,” he breathed. “How did you-”

Arwen giggled, clasping her hands together. “She’s my mother!” she exclaimed. “My mother! And that – that makes you …”

His jaw dropped in shock. “Your … grandfather …”

Arwen was just about to say something else when Roydon put one hand firmly on her shoulder and turned her to face him. “Arwen,” he murmured, his mouth close to her ear, “your parents spoke to me of him … they warned me about him, we have to stay away from him.”

Arwen’s brow furrowed in confusion. “Nonsense,” she replied just as quietly. “Why would they do such a thing? And if they did, why wouldn’t they tell me?” Honestly, they were blood relatives! It wasn’t as if he was some random person …

Roydon shrugged. “I don’t know,” he admitted, “but your father was especially insistent on it.” He nudged Arwen towards her horse and motioned for her to mount it, then turned back to her grandfather and nodded politely. “If you’ll excuse us,” he said smoothly, “we have to be going.”

Arwen watched from atop her horse as Roydon mounted his, glaring at her grandfather. Still completely confused, she deemed it best to follow him silently … though as her grandfather disappeared from her sight, she also decided that she would find out what was going on.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:46 pm

Lessons Ignored
Location: Paradise Valley, Borderlands
Year: 84 F.A.
Status: Summer

Adonijah had met Celebor a few times now since he had moved with his family to the Borderlands, and even spent a bit of time with Niyana, but he had yet to meet any of their children. They had been living there for almost a week already – but for once, his not meeting someone was not entirely his fault.

Construction had begun on a new home for them, and Adonijah had offered to help out from time to time. Of course, the first task – and quite possibly the biggest – was to find trees suitable for lumber, and to fell them and cut them into planks. During this work, Aodonijah got to know Celebor quite well – but Niyana and the children stayed in the lower valley, where it was safer for them and where they would not get lost. Of course, he had seen the children around of late – how could he miss them? – but he always managed to avoid them.

For once, however, this was not out of fear. He had been told stories about Ruran and his hatred of … well, life, it seemed. And he simply had no desire to be near anyone who was filled with so much hatred. Certainly, the boy had changed since his arrival, but that was quite likely due to the threat of no food (Ulani’s policy of no work equals no meals): other than that there had been very little change in him, if any at all.

For Adonijah, other than helping to find, fell and cut trees, life continued as it always had: spending time with the animals, out in the forest, at the ranch, and at their farm (for such it had now become) … yes, life for him was quite comfortable.

But as always, such things were not meant to last.

It happened early one morning when Adonijah was leaving the house to get a drink of water from the river before he would head out to take care of the animals. He chose to go to a different area than where he knew Feng and Ryu slept, simply so that he would not disturb them. But it appeared that he was not the only one who wanted to be alone … Ruran seemed to be out for a drink as well. Adonijah left him alone. He’d heard stories … and he didn’t want to get in trouble so early in the morning.

But try as he might, it seemed his peace was not to last.

“Hey you!” Ruran said, spotting Adonijah as he knelt at the water’s edge. “You’re that chicken guy, the one who’s afraid of everyone!”

Adonijah felt the colour rising to his cheeks. “I’m not afraid,” he replied softly, “I just prefer to be alone.”

Ruran snorted. “Yeah, as if you can find that here. Always someone’s breathing down my neck. Telling me what to do, where to go …” He scowled at his reflection in the water. “I thought elves were supposed to be strong fighters … but you’re all just a bunch of sissies. Even Ulani is just talk. You’re just as weak as humans.”

He scowled at Adonijah. “And you’re the sissiest of them all. You’re supposed to be a man – proud and strong. But you’re just weak and scared of everything. I bet even I could beat you in a fight!”

Adonijah frowned. “Fighting proves nothing,” he muttered. “It should only be used for defense.”

“See?” Ruran spat. “You are afraid!”

Adonijah turned away. He hadn’t gotten his drink, but he didn’t care about that anymore. He just wanted to get away from this foolish and angry little boy. The peace of the morning had been broken. He just wanted to be alone.

But it seemed that wouldn’t happen quite yet.

“Come on and face me like a man, you sissy!”

And then he sensed Ruran’s movements: a fist flying towards his back, the sensitive area just below his ribs. Without even looking, he turned and grabbed Ruran’s fist in his hands, then followed through and tossed the boy over his shoulder and into the river. He stood and watched the boy, his face impassive.

“You wish to show your strength,” he said softly, watching as Ruran struggled to the shore, dripping wet. “Strength is in knowing when to fight, and when not to. When to continue a fight, and when to walk away. It takes more strength to walk away from a fight than it does to start one. You have insulted our race, and you have insulted me, and you have insulted my grandmother. I have every reason to fight you. But I will not, because it will do neither of us any good. Someday, you will learn what this means.”

And he turned to walk away again.

But it seemed Ruran was not content to let things go so easily.

“You’re a coward!” he roared, running after Adonijah yet again. “You’re a yellow-bellied coward!”

Just as he was about to ram into Adonijah’s back, Adonijah turned and dealt him a swift and powerful punch to the stomach, just below the ribs. Ruran dropped like a rock, his eyes wide with shock, kneeling over the ground and heaving as if fighting not to empty his stomach contents.

“Stop this nonsense,” Adonijah said firmly, his brow furrowing slightly now. “Show yourself to have true strength, and just let this be. You know that you cannot hurt me. So stop.”

And he left Ruran sitting there and walked away without looking back.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:47 pm

Deadly Disaster
Location: Namonuito, Southland
Year: 93 F.A.
Status: Early Spring

“Going to find Brian, Mother,” Leyenda called as she ran out the door. “I’ll be back in time for lunch!”

“Be careful!” Arwen called after her daughter as she disappeared. “And watch for ships!” But her warning came too late. Leyenda was already gone. With a sigh, Arwen returned to her chores. So high-spirited … nine years old, sometimes Arwen swore she took the liberties of an adult. If she were honest though, she would admit that it didn’t really surprise her – she had used to be no different at that age.

It seemed that Leyenda was on something of a mission. As soon as she was out the door, she was running at top speed – and with good reason! She had been promised that if she made it early enough, she would be able to go out with Brian on his new boat! If there was one thing that Leyenda liked, it was boats, and she would do almost anything not to miss an opportunity to go out on the water.

“Leyenda!” The boy was clearly pleased to see her. He waved to her from his boat, a little rowboat that was tied to the dock. “Over here!”

Leyenda waved back and ran out to meet him. “I can’t believe your father bought you your own boat!” she squealed as she stepped in. “You’re so lucky! My father won’t let me get one of my own, ever!”

Brian smirked. “Yeah, well my father thinks I’m grown up enough to handle it,” he boasted. “You’re just still too much of a kid!”

“I’m older than you are!” Leyenda shot back at him.

“By two days,” he snorted back.

“Well, my parents don’t believe in spoiling,” she shrugged, letting his insult pass. “They say it makes brats out of kids.”

Brian didn’t have a reply to that, and he puffed out his cheeks, pouting.

Leyenda just grinned. “Now come on, you said we could go out on the river,” she reminded him, and she sat down on the fore bench and waited for Brian to cast them off. With a sigh, Brian untied the mooring line and used one hand to push them away from the dock. Then he picked up the oars, placed them in their locks, and began to row.

“Someday,” he said as they headed out over the river, “I’m going to be captain of my own ship.”

“No you won’t,” Leyenda replied without thinking. “For that, you would have to have your own ship, and even your father doesn’t have that much gold!”

“I will if I get hired to be a captain!” Brian protested. “Then I won’t need a ship of my own!”

Leyenda blinked. “What kind of captain doesn’t have his own ship?” she asked, perplexed by the very idea.

“Then I’ll be the first mate, or the boatswain, or something,” he muttered.

She beamed. “I think you would do a wonderful job of it,” she told him enthusiastically. “And you wouldn’t have as much to worry about, and you would be getting paid instead of being the one to pay everyone else …”

Brian’s eyes lit up hopefully. “Really?”

“Well, sure!” Leyenda laughed. “And you get to do the punishing when the crew slacks off, and you can’t be mutinied against!”

“That is a plus,” Brian admitted.

“Exactly.” Leyenda was looking quite pleased with herself. “And you don’t have to worry about running out of money or losing your ship.”

He looked at her suspiciously. “You sound like you know way too much about it,” he said slowly. “Did you look into it yourself?”

“Heck, no!” she grinned. “I’m going to build ships with my father! I’ve just overheard a lot of people talking about stuff like that, is all.” She shifted and peered over her shoulder. “Hey Brian, you’re getting kind of close to the ship lanes,” she warned him. “You need to go more to starboard …”

“Uh-huh,” Brian grunted, leaning more into the oars.

“Little faster would be good,” Leyenda said, a bit more urgently. They were heading directly towards a ship that had left its port and was heading down the river, towards the ocean.

“I’m trying,” Brian grunted again.

Leyenda looked back at him. “Do you need a hand?”


“Brian, we’re-”

“I know! Shut up!”

“Let me help-”

But it was too late. The larger vessel had very little maneuverability, and it was bearing very heavily down on them. Brian had been too slow, and a collision was now unavoidable.

Jump!” Leyenda screamed, diving over the side of the boat. Before she hit the water, she took a deep breath and held it, but at the same moment the ship plowed through the tiny rowboat, splintering it and sending shards of wood flying everywhere. A large chunk hit her in the leg, and she screamed under the water, the air leaving her lungs in a rush of bubbles. Her body automatically demanded air, and she gasped in an effort to draw some in … but the only thing that rushed into her lungs was water. Her eyes grew wide with panic, and her mouth gaped as she tried once again for air. But there was none to be found …

Meanwhile, Brian had managed to escape unscathed, and was making short, desperate strokes for the docks. There, he pulled himself from the water and sat, dripping and panting on the dock, his eyes searching the water for Leyenda. His eyes grew wide when he didn’t see her, and then he saw the blood in the water around the ship that was still on its way past.

“No!” he screamed, running to the edge of the dock again. “LEYENDA!

He was attracting others to the scene, but no one dared jump into the water after the missing girl. Princess or not, it wasn’t safe, not with a moving ship still there.

The crowd kept growing thicker as more and more people from further away came to see what was going on. Roydon was soon a part of the crowd – how could he not be, the docks were where he lived and worked! At first he hung back, nothing but a curious bystander, but then he heard the name that Brian was shouting so incessantly.

“Leyenda!” he gasped; and he pushed his way through the crowd. “Let me through! That’s my daughter! Move!” He pushed and shoved his way through, using whatever force was necessary, from elbowing to just plain shoving. When he got to Brian, the boy had dissolved into tears. He looked around desperately for his daughter, but she was nowhere in sight.

“Where is she?” he demanded, turning back to Brian. “Where is she?” When the boy didn’t answer, he grabbed him by the shoulders. “Where is she?” he demanded again, shaking the boy roughly.

Brian’s only response was to point at the roiling red water. Roydon paled as he looked. The ship had just finished passing, but its wake would be dangerous nonetheless. Roydon didn’t think about that – he simply tore off his shirt and dove into the water. It wasn’t long before he spotted Leyenda. She was floating upside down in the water, a shard of wood through one leg and keeping her buoyant, while both of her wrists were tangled in the kelp on the river bottom from the turbulence of the ship’s passing.

He surfaced for a breath of air, then took a knife from his pocket and dove. As he cut away at the kelp, his mind worked furiously. The ship would have taken at least five minutes to pass at the speed that it had been going – how long had Leyenda been trapped under the water? He knew that she was an excellent swimmer, but with that plan through her leg, and her hands trapped …

He had to resurface for air twice more before her hands came free of the kelp. He turned Leyenda upright, wrapped one arm around her, and struck out for the surface. Her eyes were closed, water trickled from her nose and mouth, and her limbs flopped uselessly.

“Take her,” he gasped up to the men on the dock. Two of them men helped to lift her up, and then helped Roydon up onto the dock as well. He leaned over his daughter and straightened her head, intent on trying to breathe life back into her; but before he could even start, her eyes fluttered open and she looked up at him.

The crowd gasped in surprise and amazement as Leyenda sat up, every breath she took spilling more water down her chin. It didn’t seem to bother her, though, and as Roydon stared at her in shock, she murmured, “Papa?”

“Leyenda,” he gasped in disbelief, watching as the water continued to pour down her chin. “What – how …”

It seemed as though Leyenda still hadn’t noticed the water. “Papa,” she whimpered, “my leg …”

The plank, it seemed, had gone clear through her calf muscle. Well, that could have been worse … a quick visit to the healer, and she would be as good as new. Still, he knew it had to be painful …

“Someone pass my shirt,” he called out to the crowd. Once he had it in hand, he used his teeth to tear off the sleeves, which he then proceeded to tie around Leyenda’s leg. “It’s all right, sweetheart, Papa’s got you.”

Tears gathered in Leyenda’s eyes and began to fall. “Papa,” she whimpered again, “it hurts …” The trick of water from her mouth was beginning to slow down now, but Roydon was still more worried about that than about her leg.

“We’ll take you straight to the healer’s,” he promised in a murmur, picking her up and holding her close. “You’ll be find.” He cradled her close as they headed off towards the healer’s, and slowly, Leyenda explained what had happened – how Brian had taken them out into the ship lane, and how they had been run down … and how after being hit and sucking in a lungful of water, she couldn’t remember anything.

“Don’t worry,” Roydon murmured reassuringly as the healer’s house came into sight. “You’ll be fine.”

He hoped.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:48 pm

Recuperation and Repercussions
Location: Namonuito, Southland
Year: 93 F.A.
Status: Early Spring

The Aldrich home was strangely quiet. All three of the family were home, and it was the middle of the day, but there was almost a deathly hush over the house. Leyenda was on the couch, where both parents could watch over her while doing their chores, wrapped up in a blanket, one leg heavily bandaged. She was asleep, exhausted from the morning’s ordeals, but though the healer said that she was fine, neither Roydon nor Arwen were willing to let her out of their sight, even for a moment. They had come so close to losing their only child … by rights, they should have lost her. According to the healer, she had drowned. Clinically, she had been drowned. Both of her lungs had been full of water. Yet she had continued to breathe as if it were air …

It was a miracle. Her magic had appeared late, but appear it had, and they were grateful that it was the gift of breathing underwater. Still, they wished there had been another way for them to find out. One that didn’t mean her near death.

In the middle of the afternoon, there was a knock at their door. It was loud and strong, and sounded very angry. Roydon and Arwen exchanged a glance before Roydon moved to answer the door. Arwen stayed at Leyenda’s side.

“Eldoran,” Roydon greeted their caller coolly but politely. “What brings you to my door?”

Arwen frowned. Brian’s father? Had he come to apologize and see how Leyenda was doing?

Apparently not. “It seems you owe me a new boat,” their visitor growled.

Roydon frowned deeply. “Excuse me?”

“Yesterday, I bought a rowboat from you, and at a pretty steep price, too,” Eldoran said angrily. “Today your daughter went and wrecked it.”

Roydon’s blood ran cold. “I think,” he said coldly, “you are mistaken, sir. It was your son who destroyed your boat by taking it out into the shipping lanes, where he knows better than to go, and nearly got my daughter drowned in the process.”

“Codswallop!” Eldoran retorted. “My son would never have gone out there, not unless your daughter dared him to! Brian!”

The boy appeared around the corner of the house and hid behind his father, his eyes on the ground, shuffling his feet nervously.

“Brian!” Eldoran roared again. “Tell them! Tell them what happened! She told you to go out there!”

Brian coughed slightly. “Well … um … she …”

Roydon was furious by this time. “Leyenda knows better than to go into the shipping lanes, and she would never do so or tell anyone else to do so,” he said firmly. “She knows the dangers.”

“Yeah, after what she did today,” Eldoran just about spat in Roydon’s face.

Before Roydon could reply again, Arwen was there beside him, and she was angrier than all of them put together. “Just who do you think you are?” she snapped at him, pushing Roydon out of the way so that she could face the man head on. He was taller than she was, but for the moment it didn’t seem so. “You’re rich, so what? You flaunt your money and you spoil your boy and you’re turning him into the same kind of person that you are! You think that because you’re wealthy you can do what you want? Blame other people for your own son’s stupidity? Because you didn’t teach him well enough?”

“Your daughter-”

“Our daughter is lucky to be alive!” Arwen shouted, stepping forward, her face a bright shade of red. “And you better than the Valar that she is or else you’d be the one with Udûn to pay! Your inadequacies have plagued us far too long already! Maybe if you don’t want to lose so much of your precious gold you should teach your son how to take care of things!”

“Don’t you blame my son,” Eldoran said in a threatening voice. “There’s no one to blame here but Leyen-”

But before he could finish his sentence, Arwen had kicked him in the gut so hard that he fell backwards down the front steps and lay sprawled out on the dock. “One more word,” she growled through clenched teeth, raising one fiery fist threateningly. “I dare you. Just one. More. Word.”

Eldoran climbed slowly to his feet, wincing in pain, his son helping him out as well as he could. Silently, the two turned away, but when they were a safe distance away, Eldoran turned back and shouted, “Just you wait! Your name won’t protect you forever!”

Roydon grabbed Arwen’s hand before she could run after him. “Arwen, leave him,” he said firmly. “He knows he’s the one in the wrong. We have Leyenda to take care of. Come back inside.”

Arwen obeyed, but she was still seething. “One of these days,” she muttered murderously. “I tell you …”

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:49 pm

Generous Return
Location: Namonuito, Southland
Year: 93 F.A.
Status: Mid-Spring

It had been a few weeks now since Leyenda’s near-drowning experience, and though the healer had done a marvelous job of patching up her leg, it was only now that her mother pronounced her good enough to go out and play as she had used to.

“Now you be careful,” Arwen warned her as she dressed herself early in the morning. “And this time, you listen to me. I don’t want anything else to happen to you, do you understand me?”

Leyenda, half dressed, came over to give her mother a hug. “Don’t worry, Mother,” she said softly, soberly. “I won’t let Brian do anything stupid like that again.”

Arwen grimaced. “I would prefer if you just didn’t play with him anymore,” she said dryly.

Leyenda sighed and finished getting dressed. “Mother, if he did something so stupid again, I would be very surprised.”

“That makes one of us,” he mother replied darkly.

Leyenda giggled. “Mother, that is unkind.”

Arwen sighed. “You’re young,” she murmured softly, placing one hand gently on her daughter’s head. “You will learn.” She smiled faintly. “Go on, then. Just be careful. We almost lost you once.”

“It won’t happen again,” Leyenda promised, hugging her mother again tightly. “I’ll be back in time for lunch, I promise!” And with one final squeeze, she ran for the door.

She took her tine this time, and instead of heading straight towards the docks she took her time, wandering about a while and just enjoying the outdoors. Two weeks she had not been allowed outside, and she just wanted a few minutes to herself to breathe. Slowly but surely, she headed down to the docks. She could see many people out there already. Her father, with his men, were working on a ship at the shipyard; fishing boats were already heading out on the river for the day, as well as small pleasure craft; and sure enough, there was Brian, sitting on the dock and looking as though he was waiting for something or someone.

“Brian!” she called out, waving to him as she headed in his direction.

At the sound of his name, the boy turned around, and he smiled widely when he saw Leyenda coming towards him. He waved back, then cupped his hands around his mouth and called back, “Welcome back!” He scrambled to his feet and ran towards her to greet her.

When they reached each other, Brian looked at Leyenda anxiously. “Hey, are you feeling okay?” he asked her. “You’re fine, right?”

Leyenda nodded. “I’m better. I was scared at first, and then I couldn’t walk a whole lot, but I’m better now. Good as new, Mother says.”

He broke into a wide grin. “Excellent! Then come on, Father got me another boat, we can go ou-”

“No,” Leyenda interrupted him. “I’m not going out with you again, not unless I’m the one rowing.”

Brian looked quite disappointed. “And Father said you weren’t allowed to row,” he said sadly. “So now what do we do?”

Leyenda smiled. “We could go see if my father needs any help,” she suggested. “It looks like they got a lot of work done while I was stuck at home!”

“That’s boring,” Brian complained with a frown. “Why don’t we go swimming?”

It was Leyenda’s turn to shake her head. “I promised Mother I would be home by lunch, and it takes too long to get to the swimming hole,” she replied. She dug into her pocket and pulled out some coins, and counted them quickly. “I have enough gold for us to get some sweets,” she grinned, “why don’t we head into town?”

Brian broke out into a wide smile. “Okay!” he agreed. “Come on, I’ll race you!” He took off up the docks towards town.

“Hey!” Leyenda cried out, sticking the coins back into her pocket. “Not fair!” She started after him, but her newly healed leg nearly buckled under her. “I can’t run!”

That didn’t slow Brian down at all, and by the time Leyenda finally caught up with him outside the sweet shop, he was looking bored. “Took you long enough,” he grumbled.

She frowned at him. “You do realize that it’s quite a distance from here to the docks,” she reminded him, “and that I can’t exactly run anymore? You could have walked with me, and then you wouldn’t have waited so long.”

Brian shrugged. “Well, you’re here now, let’s go get something to eat.”

Rolling her eyes, Leyenda followed him into the sweet shop. Brian was an idiot, in her opinion, and in that respect her mother was right – but on the other hand, she had also been raised to return kindness for harm, and so she would not back out of her word to buy him some sweets. Besides, he could be nice – when he really wanted to be. And it wasn’t his fault that his father was horrible. Considering the circumstances, Brian was doing pretty good, she thought. Not that she would ever explain her reasoning to her mother.

“Hey, Leyenda,” Brian said a while later as they were wandering down the street, sucking on their sugar dragons, “you’re not really talking much today … are you mad at me?”

Leyenda blinked at him. “Mad at you?” she repeated. “Why?”

He shuffled his feet uncomfortably, his eyes on the ground. “Well … on account of I almost got you killed,” he mumbled, his face flushing slightly.

She smiled. “Nah. I mean, it was pretty stupid of you, but …” She trailed off slowly.

Brian risked a glance. “Really?”

Leyenda nodded.

“Then we’re good?” he asked, perking up a bit.

Leyenda thought a moment. It wasn’t so much the almost killing her that really bothered her, but the fact that he had run away afterwards and apparently tried to pin the blame on her. Without a warning, she reached out with one hand and smacked him upside the head.

“Ow!” he cried, putting one hand to the spot. “That hurt!”

Leyenda just grinned at him. “Now we’re even.”

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:50 pm

End of a Friendship
Location: Namonuito, Southland
Year: 100 F.A.
Status: Yestarë

Leyenda had never been one to sleep in, and today was no exception. The sun had barely begun to creep over the horizon before she was out of bed, dressed, and on her way downstairs. Of course, today of all days, she would never sleep in – not only was it Coronation Day, but it was her sixteenth birthday! She was now an adult!

But as early as she was, she was not the first one awake, nor even the first one downstairs. She knew this before she reached the landing halfway down: already the smell of breakfast was wafting up to her, and her stomach growled in anticipation.

“Good morning, Leyenda!” Arwen beamed as her daughter entered the kitchen. “Happy birthday!” She wrapped her up in a tight hug that lasted several long moments before she released her again. “Sixteen … so quickly you’ve grown up,” she smiled.

Leyenda giggled. “Don’t worry, Mother, I won’t let it go to my head,” she grinned. She sniffed the air again. “It smells lovely in here … what have you made?”

Arwen motioned for Leyenda to follow her into the kitchen. “Your favourite,” she winked. “Fried eggs with fish. And …” She turned and took a small pouch off the counter. “Since today is the celebration of Ninako’s centennial, the festival is going to be bigger than any of us have ever seen it. This is for you.”

Leyenda took the pouch from her mother, then opened it and peered inside. She blinked. “All of it?” she asked in amazement. “Mother, it’s more gold than you’ve given me … combined!”

Arwen laughed and ruffled her daughter’s hair affectionately. “The condition is that you get something for Celeb as well,” she winked. “He’s too young yet to enjoy it, let alone buy something for himself. So come, let’s have breakfast together, and then you have yourself a wonderful time.”

Leyenda smiled as she took her seat at the table. “I should get something for Papa as well,” she murmured. “Since he can’t make it.” A pained look crossed her face as she began to eat the food that had been prepared for her.

With a sigh, Arwen sat next to Leyenda and put one hand on her shoulder. “You know he would be here if he could,” she murmured, “but if that ship isn’t built to his satisfaction …”

“I know,” Leyenda nodded. “He wants to make sure it’s as good as it possibly could be for our journey. Still.” She smiled faintly at her mother. “I miss him.”

Arwen leaned forward and kissed her daughter gently on the forehead. “He’ll be back before you know it,” she smiled. “You’ll see.”


The festival was indeed far grander than any that Leyenda had ever seen before. The streets were lined with banners and streamers and brightly coloured flags, and on every corner there were street dancers and performers. Restaurants were serving food to anyone who was hungry, much of it free for the day, and merchants were giving away samples of their wares, and had very much discounted prices on their goods. The streets were also filled with people – dancing, singing, chatting, just plain celebrating. No one looked like they usually did – from those of the highest aristocracy to the lowest merchant, everyone was dressed as if they themselves were the rulers of the land.

Leyenda loved it. It was so bright, so vibrant, so different from day to day life. It filled her with a joy that just seemed to bubble out of her.

She gasped as a pair of hands were suddenly clamped over her eyes, and she heard a chuckle from behind her.

“Guess who,” a deep voice said playfully.

Leyenda laughed and reached back to tickle the sides of her aggressor. With an un-manly squeal, the man jumped backwards, freeing Leyenda’s eyes.

“Got you, Brian,” she grinned, turning around triumphantly. “You’ll never fool me!”

Brian was dressed up in the fanciest clothes Leyenda had ever seen. Spidersilk, she was certain, and dyed in the most expensive of colours. Everything, from his pants to his vest and sash, looked as though they would have cost a fortune – and knowing his father, they probably did.

He chuckled at her again. “Well, you can’t blame me for trying,” he winked at her. Then he stepped forward and took her hand, pulling her in for a light embrace. “Happy birthday, Leyenda,” he murmured with a smile. He let her go again, still smiling warmly at her. “Do you have plans for today?”

Leyenda grinned up at him. “Buy something for Celeb and Papa, but other than that, no,” she replied cheerfully. Then teasingly she asked, “Why? Do you have plans for me?”

Brian seemed to find the question amusing, but instead of answering he held out his arm to her. “Shall we dance?”

With a giggle, she reached for his arm. “Let’s,” she beamed.

The music in the area where they were was slow and beautiful, and many elves were already slow dancing along with it. Brian and Leyenda followed suit, and soon the two of them were whirling about in between the others.

“You dance beautifully,” Brian smiled at Leyenda as they twirled about.

Leyenda blushed. “My mother taught me,” she smiled back warmly. “Between all of the other lessons. Though this is admittedly the first time my skills have been tested.”

He chuckled. “Then my compliments to your mother for being such a fine teacher.” He spun her around and then caught her again. “But tell me, Leyenda … when did you have time to learn? You and I have had so many adventures together …”

“Oh, we found the time,” she winked at him. “Believe it or not, I do do some things without you.”

A hurt expression crossed Brian’s face for a moment, but as quickly as it had come up, it was gone, replaced once more by his easy smile. “I see. Well, shall I find a way to change that?”

Leyenda’s brow furrowed in confusion. “What do you mean?”

Brian stopped and grinned, holding one finger to Leyenda’s lips. “Come with me,” he said softly, “and I’ll show you.”

Intrigued, Leyenda could only agree.

Brian led Leyenda away from the festivities and back out towards the docks. Not the area where her parents lived, but further upriver, where only the fishing boats usually ventured, almost out of sight of the city. Of course, being a festival day, and especially such a big celebration as this particular day, there were no fishing boats out at all, which meant that they were isolated and very, very alone.

Leyenda looked around. It was beautiful out there … the sky was the purest of blue, not a cloud in sight … but one thing bothered her.

She turned to Brian. “Why did you bring me out here?” she asked curiously.

Brian was looking around, his sash blowing slightly as he faced into the wind. “Do you remember when we used to play out here all the time?” he asked her softly. “When we were little?”

Leyenda blinked and tilted her head slightly. “Yes …”

He turned towards her, and his smile widened slightly. “Don’t you ever miss it? I mean, just coming out here … and it being just us … nothing to worry about, no cares, no work, no chores … just … us?”

Leyenda turned to look out over the river as memories washed over her. They had played together so much as children … swimming, imagining games, chasing each other … it had indeed been great fun. “I suppose,” she murmured, “when you put it that way … I do miss it, at times.” She turned again to look at him. “We did have a lot of fun together.”

Brian smiled and stepped closer to her. “Sometimes,” he murmured softly, “I look back on all those years … and I wonder what was missing. As wonderful as those years were, there was always something missing. And now,” he smiled down at her, standing directly in front of her, “I think I’ve figured it out. For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt the same way. And I need to know if you do, too.”

Leyenda felt her heart beat a little faster in her chest as she looked up at her longtime friend. Suddenly her mouth felt dry, and she licked her lips slowly. “I … I’m not sure what you mean,” she murmured, wondering if she could possibly be interpreting his advance correctly.

Brian just smiled and cupped her cheek in one hand. “I think you do,” he murmured softly: and then he tilted her chin upwards and leaned down and kissed her lightly on the lips. He held it only briefly, and then he straightened again and brushed his thumb lightly across her cheek and smiled hesitantly down at her.

Leyenda looked back up at him, her cheeks a bright shade of red now, her eyes sparkling brightly, though she felt a little confused. “Brian,” she whispered softly, “I …”

His smile widened, and he brushed his thumb across her lips, silencing her. “Sh,” he murmured back. “No more words.” And he leaned down and kissed her again. It was a stronger kiss this time, but tender, and without meaning to, without even realizing it at first, Leyenda found herself kissing him back. Brian’s free hand came up to cup Leyenda’s other cheek, and he pressed himself against her. His one hand started wandering a bit, his fingers brushing across her throat and down to her shoulder.

Leyenda was getting more and more confused with each passing second, and she tried to speak, tried to break the kiss, but Brian didn’t let her. The moment she tried to step back, he stepped forward again, and instead of holding her face, he held her shoulder and back. She was just beginning to worry a little when he let go of her shoulder and brushed his hand along her collarbone. And then his hand went a little lower, his fingers slipping inside the collar of her blouse …

“Stop it,” Leyenda whispered, pushing him away from her. She looked up at him, surprise and anger in her eyes. “What are you doing?”

Brian smiled back at her as if he hadn’t done anything wrong. “Come, Leyenda,” he said softly, soothingly, holding one hand out to her. “You must see this by now … I love you, I always have … but I have never known how to say it, how to make you see …”

He reached for her again, but she recoiled away from him, one hand at her neck as if to keep him from her. “Don’t touch me,” she whispered threateningly, her voice shaking. “Don’t come near me …”

He smiled again, ignoring her words. “Come, Leyenda, be with me … let me make you mine …”

“Stop it,” she repeated, her voice stronger now. “You’ll regret this …”

He darted forward suddenly and grabbed Leyenda’s arm, and with a cry, she turned and jammed her elbow into his gut, and as he doubled over over her she reached up and grabbed his head and shoulder and jammed her shoulder into his chest, throwing him forward. He landed in a heap on the ground, curled up in a ball and holding his belly.

“You stay away from me,” she told him again, her voice still shaking as she backed away from him. “Don’t you come near me ever again!”

She kept a wary eye on him as she continued to back away, and when she judged that she was far enough away she turned and began to run.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:50 pm

Final Straw
Location: Namonuito, Southland
Year: 100 F.A.
Status: Yestarë

When Leyenda left in the morning, Arwen was also busy. She cleaned up after their breakfast, got four-year-old Celeb out of bed, washed him, dressed him, fed him, and she was just getting ready to take him to the festival as well when the front door opened and closed.

For the life of her, Arwen couldn’t think of who it could be. Roydon was still gone, not scheduled to be back for a few weeks, Leyenda had just gone out less than two hours previous … and who would come for business on such a celebratory day?

“Hello?” she called out, sticking her head out of her bedroom. She was too late to see anyone, but she heard footsteps as they headed up the stairs. Wary now, she motioned for her son to sit still on the bed while she went to see what was going on. She moved silently up the stairs, preparing for the worst. A door closing made her jump nervously. It was a festival day, most homes would be empty … yes, it would attract looters, but … there had never been a thief in the city, not for as long as she had lived there. She was confused, and very worried now.

She swallowed hard once she got to the top of the stairs and cast a glance in both directions of the hall. There was a slight shuffling sound from the left, and she put her back to the wall and edged slowly forward. Her heart was just about in her throat as she pressed onward, following the soft noises that were coming from the direction of Leyenda’s bedroom. She stopped just beside the door and took a deep breath. She was just reaching for the doorknob when she heard a loud crash and Leyenda’s voice uttering a strong curse.

Almost shaking with relief, Arwen knocked on the door. “Leyenda?” she called out. “Are you all right?”

“Fine,” came the quick response – but something about her voice bothered Arwen, and she frowned deeply.

“Is it all right for me to come in?” she called through the door.

“I’m getting changed,” came the answer again. “Just a moment.” There was a bit more shuffling, and then Leyenda called out, “All right.”

Arwen opened the door and stepped inside, peering about a bit. “You worried me when you didn’t reply when you first came in,” she smiled, taking a step towards Leyenda, who was kneeling on the floor to clean up the books she had knocked over. “Why are you home so quickly? Did you spill something on your clothes?”

Leyenda shook her head, but she didn’t look at her mother. “I’m not going back to the festival,” she said quietly, her voice slightly husky.

Arwen blinked and her smile disappeared. “Leyenda,” she murmured, kneeling next to her daughter and putting one hand on her shoulder, “are you all right?”

Leyenda looked up at the touch, and Arwen almost gasped in shock. Leyenda’s eyes were red and puffy, her lashes wet and stuck together.

“Leyenda,” Arwen whispered painfully, turning her daughter to face her directly. “What happened?”

“It’s nothing,” her daughter mumbled, turning away again and shrugging out of Arwen’s grasp. She rose to her feet and headed to the other side of the room to return her books to their shelf.

Arwen followed her slowly, watching her intently. She said nothing, but simply waited, watching as Leyenda continued to move around her room, cleaning this, rearranging that, moving things from one place to another. Every once in a while there was a small sniffle, but other than that Leyenda was silent.

For nearly ten minutes things continued the same, until at last Leyenda stopped. A sob caught in her throat, and she closed her eyes and bit her lip, trying to hold it back. Without a word, Arwen stepped forward and slipped her arms around her daughter, holding her close and trying to comfort her.

At last, Leyenda could hold it in no longer. She began to cry, tears running down her face, her arms wrapping around her mother and clinging tightly to her.

“He- he said he had something to show me,” she cried, “but he just wanted to- to get me alone …”

Arwen closed her eyes and held her daughter tighter, still saying nothing but letting Leyenda get it off her chest.

“He kissed me,” she sobbed, “and he- he wouldn’t stop- and- and then he- he kept trying to- to put his hand- in my shirt …”

Arwen’s jaw clenched with anger, and she had to fight to control herself. “Who was it?” she asked in a whisper, gently rubbing Leyenda’s back and trying to calm her a bit. “Tell me, Leyenda. Who did this to you?”

Leyenda shook her head.

Arwen’s nostrils flared. “Leyenda,” she said quietly, “if you’re going to protect him, he’s going to get away with this. Tell me who did this to you.”

Leyenda bit her lip. It was quite clear that she didn’t want to tell … but what choice did she have?

“Brian,” she whispered at last.

Arwen felt as though someone had poured ice cold water over her. Brian. The boy who had caused them so much trouble over the years. He had seemed to be getting better … but she should have known better. A moor cat couldn’t change its coat. The boy had always been bad news.

And yet she hadn’t thought that he would stoop this low.

“Stay here,” she murmured, squeezing Leyenda one last time and then releasing her. “Keep an eye on your brother.”

“Mother-” Leyenda tried to stop her, to call her back, but it was too late. Arwen was already heading downstairs.

“Celeb,” she said briskly, poking her head into the room that was hers and Roydon’s, “stay with your sister. I’ll be back in a while.”

And before her little boy could even ask any questions, she was gone.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:51 pm

Trial and Punishment
Location: Namonuito, Southland
Year: 100 F.A.
Status: Yestarë

Considering the fact that it was a feast day, and the magnitude of the celebrations that were going on, Arwen was rather impressed by how quickly the city magistrate was assembled and enough witnesses brought together that a trial could take place. Then again, as Eldoran so often pointed out to her, her family name did carry an immense weight – though it was the first time that Arwen had taken advantage of that fact.

The trial began quickly. Arwen sat with Leyenda, her daughter’s hand clasped tightly in her own. She had asked a a friend to watch over Celeb during the trial – he didn’t need to see any of this.

Brian, hands bound behind his back, was brought in between two guards. There was no remorse on his face, only sadness. Leyenda didn’t know if it was because he had finally been arrested for his actions, or if it was because she had rejected his advances.

“Brian, son of Eldoran,” the magistrate said in a clear, strong voice, “you have been brought before this council on the charge of mistreatment of a woman, with the intention of taking advantage of her. How do you plead?”

Without hesitation, Brian replied, “Guilty, my lord.”

Arwen squeezed Leyenda’s hand tightly, trying to comfort her; but her temper was hot. Could the man not even try to pretend that he cared even a little about what he had done?

Apparently the magistrate had the same question. “Do you have nothing to say in your defense?” he asked in sheer amazement.

Brian shrugged. “What would it matter? It wouldn’t change the fact that I hurt her, that I frightened her … and even if it were possible that I should leave this place without judgment, she will never have anything to do with me again. I deserve judgment. I deserve punishment. I deserve to die. But nothing that you do to me, no punishment that you could give me, could ever compare with the pain of knowing that I can never talk to her again. That I can never see her again. And the knowledge that I have brought this upon myself.”

The magistrate sighed. “If this were the first time you were brought before me, such a speech might have bought you some leniency,” he said sadly. “But it is not. Nor is it the second time, nor even the third. You just don’t seem to understand the concept of not being able to do as you please. In part I blame your father for that, but at your age you should bear your own responsibility. You are two days from adulthood – essentially, you are an adult, and especially with your history, you ought to be tried and judged as one.”

There was a general murmur of agreement from the witness bench, and Leyenda squeezed Arwen’s hand tightly. That would mean –

“I understand,” Brian nodded, unexpectedly calm. “Please do so.”

Leyenda was horrified. “No,” she breathed – but then Arwen nudged her gently, cutting off any further protest.

The magistrate glanced at Leyenda, then looked back at Brian. “You are very charismatic,” he said, almost as if it were a bad thing. “But you are a danger to yourself and to those around you.” He paused. “that being said, you have not killed anyone, nor did you succeed in your attempt to harm your prey … there is no precedent for a case like this. I will think about it for the night, and we will reconvene tomorrow at the third hour. Until then, you will remain imprisoned. Until tomorrow, this court is dismissed.

As the room slowly emptied, Leyenda looked up at her mother anxiously. “What will happen to him?” she asked worriedly.

Arwen wasn’t quite sure how to answer. She was certain he would be executed, but she wanted to spare Leyenda the pain of that knowledge for as long as she could. She smiled and put one hand gently on her daughter’s head. “They’ll make sure that he can’t hurt anyone ever again,” she murmured softly.

Leyenda tried to smile. “Let’s go home,” she said quietly. “Celeb will be waiting for us.”


That night, at dinner, Leyenda, Arwen and Celeb were eating and celebrating Leyenda’s birthday together when there was a knock at the door. It was one of the magistrate’s messengers, and it was Leyenda that he asked for. |She came to the door, perplexed. “Yes?”

The man held out a folded paper. “For you.”

“Thank you,” she murmured as she reached for the note. She was a little confused when he didn’t leave right away, but perhaps he had just been ordered to wait for an answer. Forgetting about him for the moment, she unfolded the note and read it silently to herself. It was from Brian.

Brian, son of Eldoran, prisoner of his own
foolishness, on Yestarë of the one hundredth
year of the Fourth Age, to Princess Leyenda
Aldrich, daughter of Princess Arwen and Prince
Roydon Aldrich, greetings and most humble
and sincere apologies. My dear Leyenda, I
know that I have hurt you deeply, wounded
you beyond healing. If I knew of a way to
undo what I have done I would do it, but there
is no way to change the past. All I can do is
assure you that I will never again bother you
in the future. I love you, my dearest, sweetest
Leyenda, and I cannot bear to live with the
knowledge of what pain I have caused you, or
the knowledge that no matter what, I will
never again see your beautiful face, or receive
one of your amazing smiles. And so, my dearest
Leyenda, I bid you farewell. I ask only one
thing of you … please, forget me. Goodbye, my

When she had finished reading the letter, she looked up at the messenger. “Does he await a reply?” she asked, folding the note again.

“No, my lady,” the messenger replied. “He is dead. His guards found him but an hour ago, hanged in his cell by his tunic-strings. This note was in his pocket, my lady, and they bade me make haste to deliver it to you.”

Leyenda was staring at him in shock, his words echoing in her ears. Found … hanging … “Suicide?” she whispered.

The messenger nodded slowly. “I’m afraid so, my lady.”

Numb with shock, Leyenda turned away, leaving the messenger standing in the open doorway.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:52 pm

Kelirahc Aleanath
Location: Nauros
Year: 23755 (95 F.A.)
Status: Dry Season

The dry season was never as dry as it sounded. Kelirahc had known that for as long as he could remember. After all, without rain, their land would not be what it was. The island was not a large one, by any means: it could be crossed in two weeks easily enough. It had been born of the volcano, Kelleshahn, which still towered above the jungle of the western side of the island. Kelirahc’s people were safe on the eastern side, where the lava had not reached in centuries. There, their village was as central to their small half as the great volcano was to the larger half. The soil was moist and perfect for growing all sorts of plants, and the elves made good use of this knowledge.

Kelirahc’s favourite place to be was the beach. He loved to swim, he loved to fish, and he loved to take his two-person boat all around the island. He wasn’t afraid of the wild animals. He knew how to defend himself against them all. In fact there was very little that scared him at all. But then, no one had ever accused him of being overly brilliant. But anyone would freely admit: for being only ten years old, he was a strong and promise-filled elv.

There was no doubt in the village but that he would be just as smart, just as strong, and just as adventurous as his father had been. He looked just like him: his skin the blackest of black, pale yellow eyes, the thick white hair that almost seemed to glow in the moonlight … and even at such a young age, his body was showing signs of becoming just as muscular and as toned as his father’s.

Sadly, Kelirahc had never known his father. Or his mother. His father, Amalirahc, had died tragically two months into his wife’s pregnancy, and Nulldriira, his mother, had died during childbirth. This left Kelirahc to be raised by the villagers, who were more than happy to take care of him. Each and every family loved him as if he were their own. Kelirahc knew the truth of his parentage; no one had ever tried to hide it from him. Son of a hero, some said; son of the saviour, others called him. Even without knowing what they meant, Kelirahc had sworn that he would live up to his father’s name, honouring the man he had never known.

Today was a special day for Kelirahc. Only ten years old, he had been to every place on the island on his own – all but one. Kelleshahn: the one place that no one ever dared to go. To most people, it was suicide. But it wasn’t for a thrill, or for bragging rights, that Kelirahc was climbing the volcano: he would never be so foolish. No, young though he was, he was risking his life for one of the many people that he considered to be his family: Omarerd, the one who gave the people the signs of their houses when they came of age, had been poisoned, and the only known cure for that particular type of poison was found in one place: growing at the very rim of the volcano.

Sweat dripped down the boy’s forehead as he climbed the volcano’s rocky slope. The dry season means it was the hot season, and even though it was the pale moonlight that shone down on him, bathing his black skin in an unearthly glow, the heat was growing closer and closer to becoming unbearable. Of course, this had also quite a bit to do with the fact that he was nearing the volcano’s edge, the place from which so few returned. And then he was there, peering down into the heart of the volcano, where molten rock bubbled and steamed.

For a moment, Kelirahc was gripped with fear. What was he doing? If he climbed down there, he was going to die! And then who would help Omarerd? He was just a boy, what could he hope to do?

Then, with a sudden resolve, he put his fear aside. He was the son of Amalirahc Aleanath, the greatest man the elves had ever known! He had to do this! There simply was no other choice! If he failed, if Omarerd died, so would their entire village! Because who then would give everyone their mark at their coming of age, the mark that gave them their power? He had to succeed; there simply was no other option!

His fingers were sweaty, and he fought to get a grip on the rocks as he climbed carefully down into the outer rim of the volcano. The heat was just about unbearable here …

He paused for a moment and looked around, trying to locate the plant with his eyes before going after it again. It was just barely beyond his reach …

Just as his fingers wrapped around it, a tiny splatter of molten lava splashed up against his lower leg. The boy let out a wild shriek of pain, and as he scrambled out of the crater, plant in hand, he bit his lip to keep from crying. His leg felt as though it were on fire!

Once he was safely out of the volcano’s lip, he sat down to evaluate his damage. Tears filled his golden eyes, blurring his vision. He swallowed back a whimper. His left pant leg had burnt away, and his now-exposed leg was badly burned, almost charred. He took a deep breath, then spit into his hand three times. He rubbed the saliva into his wound, wincing, cooling the skin and stopping further damage. He took his shirt off and wrapped it around his leg. It was the dry season, the hot season - he could strip naked and still be plenty warm. But for now his injured leg needed the protection.


It was five days journey back to the village, but even with his injured leg Kelirahc made it back in good time. And just in time. The village healer used the plant he had brought back not only to cure Omarerd, but also to make a salve for Kelirahc’s leg. For two days, Kelirahc remained in the hut of the healer, lying delirious on one of the cots. His self-treatment of his injury had perhaps saved his leg, and saved the artist, but the burn had become infected without the proper care, and the infection raged through Kelirahc’s body, tearing him apart from the inside out.

It had taken two days for Kelirahc’s fever to break, and then another week for him to recover. He spent the entire week and a half in the healer’s hut, on the cot, and when at last he was well enough to get up, he was surprised to receive a summons from the village council.

Weak and weary, Kelirahc pulled on some fresh pants, checked his bandages, and set out towards the elders’ circle.

Their bonfire was quite large tonight, taller than Kelirahc. He knew something important must be happening: usually the fire was kept low, except in cases of celebration or solemnity.

The nine elders were sitting in a semi-circle just in front of the bonfire. Four men and five women who had been governing the elves for as long as Kelirahc could remember: Belaxle, Wodfryn, Tathimar, Phyxaghar, men of great strength and renown; and Alaundril, Shi’nala, Rylehl, Zylvithra, and Vlontra, women of skill and wisdom. Kelirahc had never been summoned before them previous to this, though he had spoken to all of them unofficially at one time or another. But seeing them like this, wearing their official robes, he felt himself trembling before them. He knew he was in trouble, Zylvithra had told him specifically not to go to Kelleshahn …

Alaundil, the eldest of the elders, highest in authority, sitting in the middle of the semi-circle, was the one to speak.

“Kelirahc,” she said, her expression stern in the moonlight, “son of Amalirahc, of the house and lineage of Aleanath. Do you know why you have been brought before us?”

Swallowing, the boy nodded, his shoulders slumping. “I have disobeyed the order of the council,” he said softly, his white hair falling forward into his face. “Despite being directly ordered not to, I went to the volcano.”

Alaundil nodded. “You did. But you have already been punished for your disobedience, by the fever of your infection. You are not here for punishment.” She paused for a moment before continuing. “Your actions were brave, young Kelirahc. You have done what most people would never dare to do. You have been to the volcano, even gone inside, and returned. You risked your very life for the life of a friend. You have proven yourself to be very selfless, and as a result our way of life has been preserved.” She smiled, suddenly looking very kind instead of stern. “You are indeed your father’s son,” she murmured. “You have earned the right to bear his name – and also your family’s sign.”

Kelirahc blinked. Had he understood correctly? “But Alaundil!” he blurted in protest. “I may not receive my mark until I reach manhood!”

Laughter rippled through the council members. “Silly boy,” Alaundil smiled fondly at him. “You have earned your mark – and indeed, if it were not for you, there would be no more marks given ever again.”

Kelirahc blushed and closed his mouth tightly. He was being shown an honour never given before, he knew that. Young as he was, he knew that he was the first to have the chance to receive his mark before manhood. He bowed low. “Thank you, council members,” he said respectfully. “I only hope that I can continue to be worthy of this honour.”

Alaundil smiled warmly at Kelirahc. “I have no doubt that you will,” she replied sincerely. “Now, return to your rest. In three days’ time, at the rising of the moon, you will receive your mark.”

Trembling with excitement, Kelirahc bowed low, then scurried away as quickly as his still-healing leg would allow him.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:53 pm

Mark Of A Dragon
Location: Nauros
Year: 23755 (95 F.A.)
Status: Dry Season

Kelirahc hadn’t slept much that day, despite the fact that he was supposed to be resting. It wasn’t the sunlight that filtered in through the cracks in the walls of the healer’s hut. It wasn’t the dull ache of his leg, healed but still tender. It wasn’t the noise. It was the knowledge that at last, he was going to receive the mark that his family had borne throughout history, since the marks had first been used and given.

He knew it was an honour even greater than he imagined. He knew great things would be expected of him. And he knew that he would do everything he could to earn that honour.

As the sun vanished over the horizon, Kelirahc arrived exactly on time at the circle of the elders. His golden eyes shone brightly. Despite the lack of a moon tonight, the stars were bright, and the bonfire was once again lit and burning taller than he was.

“Kelirahc, son of Amalirahc, of the house of Aleanath,” Alaundil said as he approached. “Do you know the history of your house?”

Even if he had known, the correct answer would be “no” – because the entire village always turned out to watch a marking ceremony, and it was as much for their benefit as it was a reminder for the person getting marked.

“No,” he said, as he was expected to do. His heard pounded in his chest. He was finally going to learn what it was that made his family so special!

The gathered villagers grew silent in anticipation of the history that was about to be retold. This was how their stories were passed on, generation to generation, retold by the elders time and again every time a member of their village grew to adulthood.

“Long ago,” Alaundil began in a hushed tone, “when Melkor walked the earth, he used all manner of devices to destroy the works of the Valar. We, the elf-kind, were once no different than our elfin kin. But through Melkor’s evil, we were changed. Slaves we were, for but a time: there were many who rebelled against Melkor and his evil. G’eldirahc, one of the Noldor, the first to be enslaved and the first to rise against the evil, used his skill to befriend the great dragon, Ithril. Together, they freed our people and began the tradition of our allies offering us their spirits to aid us when we have need of them.”

She paused for a moment and looked around. “Amalirahc Aleanath was as great a man as his ancestor. Selfless, willing to take risks for the sake of his people. His voice on the council is sorely missed … he gave his life, a sacrifice to the wall, to protect our people from death and destruction.” She looked down at Kelirahc. “And now you, Kelirahc, have done the same thing. Braving the depths of the volcano to save a single life, to preserve our way of life, at no thought of your own safety, no fear for your own life. Kelirahc, you have proven yourself worthy to bear your family’s name.”

She motioned for him to come nearer. “You are worthy,” she said, rising and placing a hand on each of his shoulders, “Kelirahc Aleanath, to bear your family’s mark.”

Beaming proudly, Kelirahc turned to see Omarerd, the man whose life he had so recently saved, drawing near to him. In one hand, he held a shallow bowl filled with a white liquid of a chalky substance, and in the other hand he held a brush.

Alaundir stepped back once more and allowed Omarerd to approach Kelirahc. “Kneel,” the old painter told Kelirahc in a firm voice.

Without hesitation, Kelirahc obeyed. He remained very still as Omarerd painted on his shoulder, his gaze directly in front of himself. The painting did not last as long; as respected and even revered as his family’s mark was, it was a simple one. But that was only the first part of it: now he and his mark had to be united. Murmuring softly under his breath, Omarerd placed both of his hands on Kelirahc’s newly acquired mark. There was a brief flash of light, a sharp burning sensation: and then it was over.

“Kelirahc Aleanath,” Omarerd said, taking a step back, “call forth your spirit!”

Kelirahc touched two fingers to the fresh and still-warm mark on his arm, then swept his hand outward. His mark glowed softly, and then the glow spread outward, as if it were alive, and suddenly a pale dragon appeared in front of him. It took to the air and circled a few times, then swooped over the awe-filled crowd. Kelirahc knew why they were amazed; it usually took at least a few weeks, if not months, to learn how to summon their guardians: but especially for a child to do so on the first try was truly a feat.

He touched his mark again, and with a faint flash, the dragon vanished once more.

Alaundir stepped forward again. “Hail!” she cried out, stretching out both arms over Kelirahc’s head. “Kelirahc Aleanath, the Dragon-Lord!”

Kelirahc was elated. He was an official adult of his village, and would now take part in everything that went on: starting, of course, with the night’s celebration.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:54 pm

Adventures and Consequence
Location: Nauros
Year: 23760 (100 F.A.)
Status: Rainy Season

Life as an adult wasn’t always what Kelirahc thought it was supposed to be. Having proven at a very young age that he had been worthy to bear the mark of the most powerful line of the elves, he had not realized back then that he had also set himself up as the village’s most desired bachelor. Apparently, it seemed that just about every family with a daughter anywhere near Kelirahc’s age – and some even a good deal older than he – were of the opinion that after a day of heroics, he would want a wife to come home to, someone to make his dinner, prepare his bed, and give him strong little elv children. A nice theory, but for three problems:

First, Kelirahc was still only fifteen, and too young to even think about getting married.

Second, when he did think about it, he had to admit to himself that he really liked being alone. Living alone. He simply had no desire to get married.

And thirdly (and perhaps most importantly), the more they tried to pressure him into choosing their daughters as his future wife, the more he resisted the idea of ever getting married at all.

In short, as far as he was concerned, it was never going to happen.

Unfortunately, all of his rejections only seemed to encourage the girls to flirt with him and vie for his attention. Most of the females his age still did not have their marks, and if they could marry him before receiving one, they would receive the mark of Aleanath – the most respected mark there was. If only for the sake of receiving that mark, the competition was fierce.

The only way Kelirahc felt he could escape the chaos was to do just that – escape. Whenever he felt the pressure building up on him, he left the village behind and headed out into the jungle. At first, he had gone to the beach, but it hadn’t been long before he had been found there. Then he had tried the volcano; but even its perilous slopes weren’t safe. Eventually, he had discovered that the further away from the village he went, the more people came looking for him … so at last he decided that he would stay in the jungle only a few short miles from the walls of the village. There, hidden in the dense foliage, no one could ever find him.

Well, almost no one.

On this particular night, he had only been there for about half an hour when a shadow blocked out the starts that he was trying to look at. He sighed, then smiled faintly and lay back, leaning against a tree. “How is it that you always find me so quickly, Haldia?” he asked, even before he could see enough of her to recognize her.

There was a soft giggle, and the shadow dropped from the trees, landing softly next to Kelirahc. “You’re easy to find,” she replied. “When you’re trying to avoid the other girls you get this look on your face, and then there are three places you ever go.”

Kelirahc chuckled softly. “I’m going to have to find some new places, then. If you can find me so easily, then so can the others, I’m sure.”

“Not a chance,” Haldia grinned at him, sitting down next to him. “You know that none of them could ever track anything like I can. Go ahead and find some new hiding places, I’ll still find you.”

He laughed again. “Probably.”

For a few minutes, the two of them simply sat there, watching the stars, until at last Haldia murmured softly, “You know … people are starting to talk about us.”

Kelirahc arched one eyebrow and looked at her curiously. “Us?”

Haldia nodded, eyes downcast. “Every time you disappear, I’m with you when you return,” she murmured. “Some of the girls are starting to get jealous.”

“They have nothing to be jealous about,” Kelirahc replied with a shrug. “The only reason I let you find me is because I know that you have no romantic interest in me. If you were to start talking about marriage, you know I wouldn’t stick around.”

“I know,” she sighed, “but that doesn’t stop tongues from wagging. Even the elders are beginning to question your honour.”

He frowned at her. “Then why do you keep following after me?” he asked, turning towards her. “You’re just adding fuel to the fire!”

“Because I’m your friend,” she replied softly, hugging her knees to her chest. “I want to help you.”

Kelirahc sighed. “How is this helping me?”

“Because someone has to convince you to work towards your place on the council,” Haldia frowned at him. “You know you’re ready for it, and you know you deserve it.”

And in that brief moment, Kelirahc’s temper flared. “No,” he snapped. “Forget it. I can’t join the council as a member until I’ve taken a wife, and I refuse to get married just for the sake of improving my social standing.” He jumped to his feet, his dark face flushed with anger. “All I want right now is to live my life. I’ll do anything to help our people, but I will not be forced into a marriage where I will be miserable for the rest of my life with a woman who I know doesn’t care for me, but for my family name and mark!”

Haldia winced. “I know, Kelirahc,” she muttered under her breath. “I know. But can’t you explain that to the council and see if they’ll make an exception for you?”

Kelirahc had to force himself not to roll his eyes. “Considering that they’re already questioning my honour?” he asked her. “I don’t think so. Besides, if I were to ask that, I would be abusing my position. Why should I get any special privileges just because of my mark? If I do that I’ll be just the same as the girls that I run from!”

He sighed again and passed his hand over his face. “There’s got to be a way that I can get rid of this …”

“Sure there is,” Haldia replied simply. “Get married.”

She ducked before Kelirahc could hit her.

“I’ll just tell them I don’t want the position,” he decided. “If I don’t take it, maybe the girls will leave me alone.”

“Not likely,” Haldia argued. “They would still want your blood in their children, hoping for you power, and your family mark.” She held up her hands defensively at the look Kelirahc shot her. “I’m just saying, don’t do anything rash. If you want to talk to the elders about something, ask them how to get these girls off your case.”

Kelirahc stared at Haldia in amazement. “That’s brilliant,” he murmured softly. “You’re a genius!” With a laugh, he darted off into the night.

Haldia blinked at where he had been only a moment before. “Uhh … right.” She stared. Where was he going? Wherever it was, she was sure she wasn’t meant to follow.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:55 pm

Once and for All
Location: Namonuito, Southland
Year: 100 F.A.
Status: 1 Tuilë (first day of spring)

Arwen didn’t sleep that night, and she was sure that Leyenda didn’t either. Celeb, young as he was, slept as he always did, but Arwen, feeling lost without Roydon by her side, spent most of the night in the kitchen, sitting next to the fire despite the warm night, her hands curled around a steaming mug of hot cider. As silent as elves were when they walked, she could hear Leyenda occasionally pacing around her room, as well as the occasional sob.

She could understand why. Brian, the boy she had grown up with, been such good friends with, had killed himself because she had rejected his advances … as right as she had been to do so. But she had to be blaming herself. She shouldn’t, but Arwen knew that she was.

It was the early hours of the morning, still dark outside, when there was a sudden knock at the door. Arwen blinked in surprise. Who would it be at that time of night? She hoped above hope that it would be Roydon, back early from the construction, but she knew it wasn’t possible. He wouldn’t knock. And she was pretty sure he wouldn’t travel during the night …

She ran her fingers through her hair, trying to regain at least some semblance of composure, before she opened the door.

She stared in shock when she saw who it was.


Brian’s father. What would he be doing here? He looked like he had been through something awful … and he had, really. His son, his only son, had committed suicide … his last remaining family member. Now he was alone, and that had to be hard on a person. His eyes were red, and he reeked of alcohol. His hair was a mess, and his clothes completely disheveled.

“Arwen,” he rasped quietly, leaning against the door frame as if for balance. “I need … to talk to you …”

“Of course,” Arwen murmured, and though she had her misgivings she opened the door a bit wider. “Come on. But please, keep it quiet.” She let him inside and closed the door behind him, then led him to the sitting room, allowing him to choose where to sit. He sat in the middle of the couch, right on the edge of the seat, and leaned forward anxiously, almost as if he were terrified of something.

“Are you all right?” Arwen asked him, worried now. “Can I get you something to drink? Some water perhaps?”

He shook his head slowly, still staring off into space. “No,” he murmured softly. “No … I just … came to … tell … you …”

Arwen waited for him to continue, but when he didn’t she touched his shoulder gently with one hand. “Tell me what?” she asked him softly.

He blinked as if he was just realizing where he was. “Ah … I … just wanted to tell you that I … I don’t … I don’t blame you for my son’s death,” he finished softly, looking up at Arwen. “It’s … a terrible thing … but I … I finally see … that I was no fit father.” He cleared his throat and looked away to hide the tears that sprang to his eyes. “I should have raised him better …”

“Something on which we can finally agree,” Arwen quipped before she realized what she was saying. She bit her tongue. “I apologize, that was …” She sighed. “I’m sorry. And I’m sorry that it took this unfortunate incident for you to realize it. But I hope that it also makes you look more closely at yourself.” She looked at him pityingly. “You have the ability to be a great man,” she told him honestly. “Truly. You have wealth, position, power … you could do great things for this city, for this nation … to squander it all on meaningless trinkets, there’s simply no point to it … by giving your son everything he ever wanted, you taught him that he could have everything he ever wanted, without consideration for others.”

“So what should I do?” Eldoran asked, his voice cracking.

Arwen sighed. “Do something good for once,” she replied softly. “Instead of doing everything for yourself, try doing something for someone else. Help others instead of laughing at their troubles. Fix problems, instead of causing them.”

Eldoran nodded thoughtfully, though he kept his face turned away from Arwen. She heard him sniffle once, and then he murmured, “Then I think … that right now, the best thing I can do … the best way that I can help … anyone … is to leave.”

Arwen blinked. “Leave?”

He nodded, turning to face her again. “I have caused you and your family nothing but pain for so many years … I could never make it up to you. Leyenda … Leyenda especially has suffered because of me. Physical injuries, and now worse … I should leave the city. Leave you and your family. Let you get on with your lives …”

“Eldoran …”

“No, I’ll do it,” he said before she could protest. He rose from his seat, his movements suddenly filled with purpose. “I’ll go somewhere else, start over new. Allow me this, please. I have to do something, I can stay here no longer.” He strode over to the door and opened it before Arwen could stop him, but before he left, he turned back and said, “Please … express my apologies to Leyenda.”

And then he was gone.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:55 pm

Calm After The Storm
Location: Namonuito
Year: 100 F.A.
Status: Mid-Tuilë (Spring)

The days came and went, passing into weeks after Brian’s suicide. Arwen tried to encourage Leyenda to spend more time outdoors, perhaps even help out with the shipbuilding, which had always cheered her up before, but she always only ever shook her head and stared out the window. Even her little brother, who she doted on as if he were her son, couldn’t cheer her up.

Arwen knew why Leyenda kept staring out the window. And she wished that she could warn her husband about what had happened … but ships could not bring messages to other ships, and there was no port where Roydon and his crew were. It simply was not possible. All she could do, day after day, was wait – wait and watch as he daughter wasted away. At first it was just sleep that she lacked, but as her spirits grew darker, she also stopped eating, taking only enough to satisfy Arwen that she was not going to starve to death. Her friends came by to visit every day, sometimes even several times per day; but even they could get no response from the despondent young woman.

One day, almost halfway through the season, Leyenda’s eyes filled with hope. She was sitting in the model room on the third floor (the entire floor had been added as a display area for all of the model ships she had built over the years), staring listlessly out the window, when she spotted a familiar ship coming up the river. It carried the flag of the Southland Elves, as well as the emblem of her father’s business.

“Papa,” she breathed; and in a heartbeat she was gone from the windowsill and racing down the stairs. She ricocheted off the wall at the bottom of the stairs and raced to the front door, whipping it open and running outside.

Arwen was in the middle of making a loaf of bread when Leyenda blurred past the doorway, and she blinked in surprise. “What …”

Celeb, standing on a chair next to her so that he could watch her, looked up at her innocently. At her questioning gaze, he shrugged.

Arwen looked out the kitchen window to see where Leyenda had gone, and she smiled widely when she saw her husband’s ship coming up the river. She saw Leyenda standing on the docks, waiting eagerly for the ship to arrive, and she smiled down at Celeb.

“Why don’t you go outside and wait with your sister?” she suggested to the boy. “I’m sure she’ll enjoy your company.”

Celeb grinned and nodded, hopping off his chair and running towards the door as well.

Leyenda looked down at her little brother as he joined her, then smiled down at him and knelt down to pick him up. “Look,” she pointed, holding him on her hip and pointing at the approaching ship. “Papa is finally home! Soon, the ship will be moored, and Papa will come down, and we’ll be a whole family again!”

Celeb was excited for their father’s return as well, but he was even happier that at last his sister was smiling and happy again. He wrapped his arms around her neck and hugged her tightly. “I’m happy you’re happy,” he told her in a rare moment of speech.

It made Leyenda smile even wider, and she hugged her brother back just as tightly.

It was almost another quarter hour before the ship was moored, and even before the gangplank was in place, Leyenda could see her father at the edge of the ship, first in line to disembark. He seemed as anxious to greet them as they were to greet him, and the moment the gangplank was secure, he was walking down it as quickly and as safely as he could, his bag over his shoulder.

“Papa,” Leyenda whimpered as she threw her arms around him and was immediately enveloped in his arms as well. Celeb was still on her hip, his legs wrapped around her waist, and he put one arm around Leyenda’s neck, the other arm around his father’s, turning it into a group hug. Leyenda lost any control that she’d had until that point, and she broke out into sobs of mixed joy and sadness.

“I’m home,” Roydon murmured softly, holding his children close. “I’m home.” He kissed Leyenda on the forehead, and then Celeb, smiling warmly at the both of them. He was a little surprised when Leyenda didn’t let him go right away – he had been gone for longer before, and she had never been so clingy … “Leyenda?” he asked quietly, cupping her chin in his hand and tilting her head up slightly.

Leyenda just held him tighter. “Don’t go away again, Papa,” she begged him, pushing his hand away and burying her head in his shoulder. “Please don’t go again …”

Roydon didn’t know what to do or say. He had to go again, the ship wasn’t completed … they had basically only come back to visit their families and re-supply … but he couldn’t say so now, not when she so clearly needed him. He kissed her forehead again. “Let’s go see your mother,” he murmured, “and then you can tell me what’s troubling you.”

Celeb squirmed out of the hug and landed lightly on the ground, then reached up for his father’s bag, his eyes bright with excitement.

Arwen met the three of them at the door, and Leyenda finally let go of her father so that her parents could greet each other properly. She and Celeb headed into the house so that their parents could have a few moments alone. They brought Roydon’s bag to their parents’ bedroom and dumped it out on the bed, and Leyenda began sorting through it. Clothes in one pile for a good washing (she had to admit, they sort of stank, though she knew her father did wash his own clothes when he was gone), tools in another pile, books in a third. There was one item that didn’t quite fit with any of the piles, and Leyenda sat on the edge of the bed to examine it more closely. It was a rock of some kind … rather a heavy one. It was very dark, and covered in dirt, but there was a shiny quality to it, almost a golden colour.

“What’s that?” Celeb asked, on his knees beside Leyenda and peering over her shoulder.

“I’m not sure,” Leyenda replied softly, turning it over in her hands, “but I think it might be gold …”

Celeb blinked and held out one hand, and Leyenda placed the rock in his hand obediently. It was only about the size of his closed fist, but he just about dropped it: it was quite heavy, and it surprised him. He looked up at Leyenda, eyes wide in amazement.

She took the rock back from him and weighed it in her hands. “At least five pounds,” she murmured. “Four or five of these would weight just as much as you do!”

He frowned up at her, and she smiled and ruffled his hair affectionately. “All right,” she murmured softly. “Six or seven, then. Still, not many.”

She put the rock back with her father’s things just as her mother and father entered the room. She could tell from the way her father was looking at her that her mother had told him what had happened while he had been gone. She tried to smile at him, but his look was so tender that she felt her tears returning. She took a deep breath, trying to hold them back.

“Leyenda,” Roydon said softly, holding one hand out to her, “come with me. Let’s have a talk while your mother gets things cleaned up here.”

Leyenda nodded and hopped off the bed. Celeb tried to follow her, but Arwen put one hand on his shoulder, stopping him, and shook her head at him. He would have his time with his father later … right now, Leyenda needed him.


It was several hours later when the two of them finally returned from their long walk. They had taken every single street in the city, some of them twice, and even gone around the city and the shipyards, talking all the while. Leyenda felt much better when they returned, and she looked better too: the colour had returned to her cheeks, there was a sparkle in her eyes, and – the biggest difference of all – she was smiling.

“Well,” Roydon smiled warmly at Arwen as they all sat down for a meal – a feast, really, in celebration of Roydon’s return. “We’ve come to a decision. Considering everything that’s happened … I feel it best if Leyenda try being somewhere new, at least for a while, in hopes of laying her memories to rest. A period of healing, if you will. So I suggested, and she agreed, that from now until the ship is completed, she will be accompanying me and my crew to the building site, whenever I am also there.”

Arwen looked a little worried at that. There would be many men there, after all, and Leyenda would be the only woman … and if that wasn’t temptation, what was?

Roydon had anticipated Arwen’s worry, though, and before she could speak up he held up one hand and added, “She will be with me every moment of every day. She will be very well looked after.”

Celeb looked jealous. He frowned and set his fork down, folding his arms across his chest.

“Perhaps we should all go,” Arwen suggested quietly.

Roydon shook his head. “I need you here to watch the business from this end,” he said firmly. “Eldoran caused quite a bit of trouble all those years ago, and I’m afraid I don’t have quite as much trust in my men as I once did.” He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. “We will be back for frequent visits,” he promised. He smiled. “And look at it this way … she’ll take good care of me, and you won’t have to dread my laundry when I come home again.”

Arwen couldn’t help but crack a smile at that. “Then I suppose that it’s set,” she murmured. “But if you think you’ll be leaving us before three weeks are up, you might want to think again.”

Roydon chuckled softly. “We will stay to the end of the month,” he promised.

And so it was decided.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:57 pm

Location: Dwarfish Settlement, Northland
Year: 94 F.A.
Status: Late Fading

It had taken two weeks of hard riding to reach the Northland, but Ahren had wanted to get there as quickly as possible to see if the dwarfs had anything else going on. He had determined early on that the group would keep out of sight of the elven guards – not because they were doing anything wrong, but to prove that it was possible for the soldiers to miss some fairly significant goings on.

Infiltrating the settlement was not difficult. He had gone in himself with Sir Leith, and together they scouted the tunnels. Both of them had the magic of the Wishsong, and any time they heard someone coming, they used their magic to blend in with the walls.

For nearly two hours they explored, and they didn’t spot a single slave. Ahren was beginning to wonder if maybe he had been mistaken, if perhaps they had not been missing something, when Sir Leith motioned for them both to hide again. Just as Ahren hid himself with the Wishsong, there was a soft scraping sound. A section of the wall swung out, and Ahren’s eyes widened in surprise. A hidden door! Of course, if they had elfin slaves, that was where they would be – hidden away where the soldiers, who were at liberty to come down and patrol the caves as much as they liked, would not be able to see or hear them!

A dwarf emerged from the door, and before he could close it again behind himself, Ahren slipped inside.

When the door closed, there was only blackness, and Ahren closed his eyes and took a deep breath to calm himself. He felt trapped, but he knew that he had to press forward. There could be children in here depending on him …

Once he had calmed himself, he opened his eyes again. Night vision had never been one of his strong points, and in here there was no light at all – he was literally blind. Still, he had taken lessons with Adanedhel and Aragost, and even if he didn’t feel safe, he knew a way to see in the dark. It was slow, and not one hundred per cent reliable, but he had used it before. He took another deep breath, calming himself further, and closed his eyes again. Then he strained his ears and tapped lightly on the wall.

It gave him a vague image of an open cavern, a wide tunnel – but it tapered at the far end, and it seemed to him as if there were some kind of door … he shuffled forward slowly, careful to remain silent, and as he drew nearer to the other end of the tunnel, he was startled to hear weeping. A female … but she didn’t sound like a child …

He waited in the darkness, his heart pounding in his chest. He didn’t like just waiting here, he wanted – needed – to go see what was going on on the other side. But he knew that he had to wait. What proof did he have that it was an elven woman, or that she would be alone? For all he knew, the dwarf he had just seen had had a spat with his wife. Unlikely, considering how hidden this area was, but possible. And it was better to be safe than sorry, after all …

Ahren waited for as long as he could force himself, and then, hiding himself once more with the magic of the Wishsong, he searched for a way to open the door. Surprisingly, it swung open silently under his touch, and he blinked in the sudden brightness of the room he had just found. At least, it was relatively light; the cavern was lit with torches, which provided the light of a late sunset: enough to see, but barely.

As the door opened, the weeping stopped abruptly, and a soft female voice called out in the Common Tongue: “Who’s there?”

Ahren stepped into the cavern, still hidden, and looked around. It almost seemed like a storage room of some sort … boxes and crates stacked everywhere, stacked haphazardly … but in one corner there was a mattress of blankets and pillows, and lying in the middle of it, in the process of pulling on some clothes over a scarred and bloody body, was a young elven woman. Her face was filled with terror, every muscle taut as she looked at the door. It was clear what she was expecting, and it broke Ahren’s heart.

“Peace,” he said softly, ending the Wishsong and appearing next to the door. The girl gasped in fright, but Ahren was grateful that she didn’t scream. He reached behind himself to close the door. “I’m not going to hurt you,” he murmured, holding up both hands to show her that they were empty. “I’m going to get you out of here.”

As he stepped closer, she whimpered and pulled her ragged dress up over herself, hiding her body from his view. “Stay back!”

Ahren stopped in his tracks. She was terrified of him … and he didn’t know what to do. “I’m not here to hurt you,” he said again earnestly. “I want to take you to where you’ll be safe, to where there are no dwarfs … please, let me take you from this place …”

The girl looked at him, her eyes filled with distrust. “How do I know that I can believe you?” she asked him in a whisper.

Ahren bit his lip. What could he say?

The truth, he supposed.

“My name is Ahren Aldrich,” he told her softly. “My family lives on a ranch, called Haven … our purpose there is to rescue those who have been taken by the dwarfs.” He hesitated a moment, then stepped closer to her. She squealed and scrambled backwards, away from him, but he didn’t stop until he had halved the distance between them. There, he drew his dagger, the only weapon he had brought in with him, and set it carefully on the floor. Then he stepped back to where he had been before, by the door.

“Take it,” he told her softly. “It is yours now. Come with me, and I will get you away from this life … and if you think that I am in any way betraying you, you have the means to defend yourself.”

Silently, the girl stepped forward and picked up the dagger, and once she had it in hand she finished dressing herself. Only then did she nod at Ahren and come closer to him. He offered her his hand, but she shook her head and pointed at the door.

Slowly, cautiously, Ahren led the girl to where he had left Sir Leith. He hoped the soldier was still there. He hadn’t had any warning of Ahren’s sudden disappearance – but he was sure that Sir Leith would have deduced that Ahren had gone through the door.

When Ahren came through the hidden door again, the passageway was empty - but after a moment Sir Leith appeared in exactly the same place he’d been when Ahren had disappeared. He looked relieved – and then he spotted the girl, and his expression turned confused and then curious. Ahren shook his head and motioned for them to go back the way they had come.

It took them a long while to get out of the underground fortress again. The girl had apparently never heard of the Wishsong before, and though Ahren used it effectively to hide both of them, every time a dwarf passed by them she became petrified with fear. Ahren didn’t dare touch her, not after how she had reacted in her prison, and so convincing her to continue on again was a challenge.

Finally though, they were out and safe, and Sir Leith led the way to where the rest of their party was waiting for them. Sir Boudwin, Halmír and Arthael were gathered under a rock overhand, close together for warmth in the cold night. They blinked at Ahren and the new girl in surprise.

“Rescue,” Ahren explained simply. He went on to introduce everyone. “Sir Leith and Sir Boudwin, formerly of the guards of Queen Atalya of the Southland, and Halmír and Arthael of the West- and Southland armies respectively.”

The others nodded or bowed their heads as they were introduced, but when Ahren didn’t introduce the girl Arthael looked at him quizzically. “And this is …?”

Ahren flushed and turned to the girl. He hadn’t thought to ask …

She rubbed her arms roughly, clearly cold. And no wonder – there was snow on the ground, and her dress was nothing but rags.

“Shiara,” she said softly, her response visible in a small puff of breath.

Arthael dug into her bag and pulled out her blanket, and moved to wrap it around Shiara’s shoulders – but the moment Shiara felt something brushing against her arm she let out a shriek and jerked away. “Don’t touch me!

Arthael was stunned by the intensity of her reaction, and she let the blanket fall to the ground. “Wha-”

Shiara curled up in a ball, hugging her knees to her chest, and cried.

Ahren watched her, his eyes tortured. He wanted to comfort her … but how could he without touching her?

But it was only a few minutes before she calmed herself. She rubbed her eyes with the back of her hands, then reached for the blanket and pulled it around her own shoulders. She sniffled once, and then turned away from everyone, lying on the ground, curled up tightly.

Ahren looked back at Arthael. “Don’t take it personally,” he murmured softly in High Elven, a language Shiara probably would not understand. “The way I found her … is too horrible even to talk about.” He shook his head slowly. “All I can think is, let’s give her time … and see if she calms down.

He cleared his throat softly. “At any rate, we know there are slaves here who are being horribly mistreated … and they need to be rescued. We’ve obviously not been doing our job well enough.”

Halmír looked uncomfortable at the thought. Of course, everyone at the ranch thought that they were doing such a wonderful job … it was sobering to realize that there were still children who slipped through their fingers … and that they were being so badly tortured. Ahren had no doubts that Shiara wished she were dead … he just hoped that he could change that somehow, help her to enjoy life once again – if she ever had.

“We have to get back right away,” Sir Leith said quietly, “and report. Once we have more people, we can come back and focus on rescuing them.”

Everyone nodded their agreement. They had to prevent others from becoming like Shiara.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:58 pm

Location: Westland Forest
Year: 94 F.A.
Status: Early Winter

A week and a half had passed since Ahren and his party had left the Northland, and they were only a few more days from the ranch. He had considered stopping in the Westland on the way, hoping that by returning Shiara to her family she could be helped and healed; but she had at first only been unresponsive when he had tried to ask her where she was from, and then when he had tried to guess she had told him in no uncertain terms that she had nowhere to return to, and not to bother trying … so he really didn’t have a choice.

On the bright side, he supposed it meant she wasn’t as frightened of them as she had been at first, even if she still wouldn’t let any of them, even Arthael, anywhere near her. She still didn’t speak much either, and Ahren had yet to see her smile. Still, he knew that she was glad to be with them. He couldn’t pinpoint any one thing, but there were small changes in the way she interacted with the group, the way she looked at them.

One night, about three days away from the ranch, Ahren was surprised when, while he was sitting apart from the group and keeping watch, Shiara approached him. She was barefoot still, having declined to borrow any of anyone else’s clothes, but she did have Arthael’s blanket wrapped around her shoulders. Ahren watched her silently as she came to stand next to him, and offered her a small smile.

For a while, she did not speak, and Ahren didn’t force her to. He gave her the time she needed, trying to make her feel comfortable. It was snowing softly, and altogether it was quite peaceful. Personally, Ahren loved the snow. He watched as the flakes caught in Shiara’s hair, and though he was tempted to reach out and brush them away, he knew that it would be a bad idea.

“Ahren,” she said suddenly, softly. “I … I feel as though this is coming kind of late, but … I just wanted to say … thank you. For everything you’ve done for me. The rescue, taking me away from that horrible place … for giving me all the time and … and the space that I’ve needed. I … I’ve seen it in your eyes, it’s not easy for you … for any of you …”

Ahren smiled warmly and held out his hand to her. “All we want, all of us, is for you to be safe … and to feel safe.”

Shiara looked at his hand hesitantly, and then slowly, nervously, she reached out and carefully placed her hand in his. Ahren smiled and closed his fingers around her hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. He was pleased when Shiara smiled.

“Thank you,” she murmured softly.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:58 pm

Unexpected Finding
Location: Nauros
Year: 101 F.A. (23761)
Status: Dry Season

Three days now the group had been on this strange island, and Leyenda felt comfortable enough to explore the strange forest that Shiro had called a “jungle”. The plants were so strange here … they were huge, and seemed as though they were more leaf than anything. Some of them were similar in some ways to the plants that she knew – like what Shiro called fronds, they were very much like large ferns.

Leyenda had decided to explore on her own today. Not the wisest decision, she knew, but she planned on keeping the beach in sight. And she was excellent with directions, so she wasn’t too worried.

But as the hours passed, and she grew more and more comfortable with the lay of the land, she ventured further out into the jungle. She kept her trail, making sure that she could find her way back again, and again she wasn’t too concerned.

Yet as she walked through the trees, she heard what sounded like a yelp, followed by a crash. She gasped and ran forward, looking to see if someone had been hurt. She got to the place where she had heard the noise, but she couldn’t see anything. It didn’t help that the foliage was so thick – vines and low tree branches blocked her view, and the grass was so thick and so tall that it was a miracle she could see anything at all.

She had just decided that it had been a figment of her overactive imagination when she suddenly tripped over something. She gasped as she fell to the ground, and she let out a squeal when she landed on something soft and warm. For a moment she thought it might be mud – but it was dry, and warmer than mud. It was black, though … almost like a shadow …

She squealed suddenly as two golden eyes appeared, and then a set of perfect white teeth. It was a person of some kind! It was only then that she saw a shock of pure white hair, and when she looked more closely, she could tell that he was wearing pants the same colour as his skin – a black so pure that it almost seemed blue in the sunlight.

“What are you?” she breathed in shock, simply staring at him. He had ears like hers … he was tall, like her father … if not for the colour of his skin and hair, he could have been an elf …

He tried to sit up, but he moaned softly and fell back to the ground. Leyenda caught him before he could hurt himself further. “Hold still,” she told him, not even certain that he could understand her. “You’re only going to make yourself worse.”

She couldn’t help but wonder if he was some kind of demon as she examined his arm. His skin was so black … she had never seen anything like him before … only heard stories of the black-skinned demons that had destroyed her great-grandmother’s homeland. But he was so quiet, so calm, as she examined his arm (which she determined to be broken) that she knew there was no way that was possible.

She kept talking to him as she set and bandaged up his arm. He didn’t reply, only stared at her, and it was very clear from the way he didn’t react to a single thing she said that he didn’t understand a word. Well, that was hardly a surprise. His race was completely foreign to her, after all.

“We have to get you back to the beach,” she told him, helping him to his feet. She motioned for him to follow after her. “Come, we can get you some medicine so that it doesn’t become infected.”

The man shook his head hesitantly, then ran the fingers of his good arm through his hair. He looked as though he was uncertain about something, and then, as if he had come to a decision, he took her hand and urged her in the opposite direction, into the jungle.

Now it was Leyenda’s turn to hesitate. She had no idea who this person was, or even what he was, for that matter, and she had no idea where he wanted to take her. Could she trust him?

She smiled to herself. He must be asking himself the very same question about me, she thought to herself. But she had just set his broken arm, surely he wouldn’t harm her. Besides, he looked far too kind to be dangerous.

He smiled when she stepped towards him, a warm, grateful smile, and Leyenda couldn’t help but smile back. She couldn’t help but trust this man … everything about him seemed … gentle.

He tried speaking to her a few times, and she tried speaking to him, but they couldn’t find any words in common, and so that idea quickly died. After about a half hour of walking, they stumbled across a tree with fruit that Shiro had been pleased to announce was called bananas.

“Wait,” she called out to the man, and though he didn’t understand the word, the tone was universal. He stopped and turned around, and she pointed up into the tree. “Bananas,” she said. “We should eat, it’s midday.”

The man pointed up at the fruit and said something. Leyenda’s brow furrowed in confusion, and he smiled and pointed again, repeating the word. “Blaneh,” he said, looking at Leyenda.

She smiled. It seemed as though they were making a bit of progress.

He made a climbing motion with his good hand, and moved towards the tree.

“No!” Leyenda cried out, grabbing his shoulder. “Don’t, you can’t climb with only one hand!”

He blinked at her, and he looked very much as if he wanted to ask her something. He couldn’t, of course, so he just watched as she attempted to climb the tree herself. But the trunk of the tree was too smooth, and there were no branches, and she couldn’t even begin to climb. She turned back to the man, her expression completely perplexed, but before she could utter a word, the man burst into laughter. It was a warm, rich sound, and though Leyenda could feel herself blushing, she also found herself laughing along.

Still chuckling, the man knelt on one knee just below the bunch of bananas. And put his good hand on his knee, palm up. He nodded for Leyenda to step on his hand for a boost, and after a moment’s hesitation, she nodded back. She placed both hands on his shoulders to balance herself, then stepped onto the hand he was bracing with his leg. She straightened carefully, making sure she wouldn’t lose her balance, and then she reached up to try to grab some of the bananas. She still couldn’t reach, though, and she sighed. She was about to hop down again when she felt the man shifting beneath her. She gasped softly and wobbled a bit, startled as he suddenly stood up, holding her aloft with only one hand.

She glanced down at him for a moment. He was straining a bit, the muscles of his arm and neck taut, but he didn’t look as if he were exerting himself. Leyenda had to admit that she was impressed – and now she was high enough to pick a bunch of bananas, which she did.

“I have some,” she called down to the man, holding them out to show him.

He smiled and nodded back to her, then slowly and carefully lowered her to the ground. Once her feet were once more safely planted, Leyenda tore a banana from the bunch and handed it to the man. “Here,” she smiled at him. “I’m sure you must be hungry, too. It is lunch time, after all.”

He looked at the banana in her hand, then stared at her, his face thoughtful. Leyenda didn’t understand … she was just giving him the fruit that he had helped her to get …

“Oh, of course,” she realized suddenly, setting the bunch on the ground. “You can’t open it yourself. How silly of me!” She smiled sheepishly and began to peel it for him, but she stopped when he knelt and plucked his own banana from the bunch. He held it in the hand of his broken arm, and peeled it with his good hand. He smiled warmly at Leyenda, then said something in his own language and pointed at the banana in her hand. Leyenda smiled back uncertainly before she took a bite. It seemed he just hadn’t wanted her help …

Together, they polished off three or four bananas each before the man took Leyenda’s hand again and once more began to lead her off into the jungle. Leyenda followed him, but she wasn’t certain how she felt anymore. Had she somehow offended him? Had she done something wrong, that he wouldn’t accept the food from her hand?

Still, it wasn’t as though she had a choice. She couldn’t find her way back to the beach anymore, not after coming this far. And he hadn’t done anything to harm her, so she really had no reason to distrust him. Not yet. And really, he hadn’t done anything to make her doubt him either – only herself, and for all she knew, she was imagining that.

So she followed him, choosing to trust him blindly.

They traveled until well past dark, but even then it seemed as if the man didn’t want them to rest. He gave her a few minutes here and there, but overall they continued walking all through the night, and into the next day. In fact, it was just about sundown when they reached their destination: a collection of huts and shelters that seemed to be abandoned. There was no sign of life anywhere other than the calls of the birds from the trees.

Leyenda looked at the man she had followed so far. She longed to be able to speak with him, to ask him questions, but even if they did speak the same language, she was far too exhausted to attempt to speak at all. She opened her mouth, but all that came out was a yawn. She tried to hide it, but the man took her hand and led her forward once more. She didn’t know where he was taking her, and at this point, she didn’t much care.

She let out an involuntary cry as she tripped over something, but before she could hit the ground, the man caught her in his good arm, and, holding her to himself, he continued forward. It was clear that he was trying to get her somewhere specific.

Ih,” he said, ushering her into one of the huts. Leyenda was too tired to pay any attention to what was inside, and when the man helped her to lie down on a pile of fronds (which she found to be very comfortable), she was asleep before she knew it.

When she woke next, it was light again, and the man was asleep near the door of the hut. There was a covering over the door now, but sunlight was still filtering in through cracks in the grass walls, allowing her to see. There was a wooden bowl next to her, and inside of it was what appeared to be a salad of some sort. Next to that was something Shiro had called a coconut, and though she knew that it was good for food, she had no idea how to eat it.

She didn’t want to wake the man, so she picked up the bowl of greens and sniffed at it. It smelled good – or rather, it didn’t smell bad – and so she tried a nibble of one of the leaves. Her stomach growled, and she blushed slightly, looking over at her host to make sure that she hadn’t woken him. He didn’t move, and she relaxed slightly before she continued eating.

The salad was a bit dry, and somewhat bitter, but she was so hungry that she didn’t particularly care. She kept glancing at the man as she ate, and she was startled when she suddenly realized that his eyes were open. When had he woken? She had no idea …

She smiled self-consciously and lowered the bowl, but the man, sitting up, motioned for her to keep eating. He smiled warmly and reached for one of the coconuts, and taking a blade form a sheath at his waist, he dug the tip of the blade into the coconut and spun it about, drilling a hole into the surface. Then he turned it and drilled another hole. Leyenda watched as he held it out to her, curious. She took it from him, setting the bowl onto the ground, and looked at it, wondering what she was supposed to do with it. The man smiled and made a drinking motion.

“Ah,” Leyenda nodded, looking at the holes. “I see.” She’d had no idea that there was liquid inside a coconut, but she was glad to learn of it. She held one of the holes to her mouth and tilted the coconut upwards. She wasn’t sure what she was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t the smooth, sweet liquid that met her taste buds. She coughed, spilling some of the milk on her chin and shirt, until she had the presence of mind to right the coconut so that it would stop pouring.

Suddenly she realized that the man she was with was laughing at her – and not just a soft chuckle, but a hearty, deep-throated, full laugh. Still coughing a bit, Leyenda wiped her chin with the sleeve of her shirt, blushing hotly. Grinning, the man held the coconut out to her again, speaking to her in soft tones. Once she had the coconut again, he held up a finger as if to say, Just a moment, and then he disappeared out of the hut.

While he was gone, she drank the remainder of the milk from the coconut. She didn’t know if that was what it was really called, but there was no better word for it – it was white, thick, and sweet, very similar to the milk she’d had on her one visit to Tor Karad.

It was several minutes before the man returned, and when he came back, he held up the flap of the door, tossed something in, said something in his language, and then left the flap fall again, leaving Leyenda alone.

She picked up the item he had thrown in and examined it. It was … a shirt. At least, that’s what she thought it was … there were no sleeves, no real neckline … still, it was thoughtful of him to give her a shirt to replace the one that she had spilled on, and she didn’t want to offend him. She quickly changed into the shirt (which, despite how much skin she now showed, was quite comfortable and fit just right). It left her midriff, the upper part of her chest, and her shoulders bare, and she felt rather exposed, though she also felt … somewhat pleased with it. It soft leather, like her own clothes, and was black, with silver trim along the edges.

A moment later, the man returned yet again. He peeked tentatively into the hut, and when he saw that she had changed shirts, he smiled warmly and came back inside. He sat next to her and picked up the coconut she had drained, and after shaking it to make sure it was empty, he took his blade again and cut it in half. Inside, it was lined about an inch thick with a while sustenance, and he cut off chunks of it and offered it to Leyenda. She smiled at him and accepted it gratefully. Without thinking twice, she took a bite and began to eat.

She was startled suddenly when she felt his fingertips brush against her shoulder. She looked at him sharply, suspiciously, but the only expression on his face was curiosity. She followed his gaze, and when she realized that he was looking at her shoulder, she looked at his to see if he had something there that she didn’t.

He did. Tattooed on his shoulder were some white lines that looked very much like a dragon. It was simply, but at the same time, it was elegant.

She looked back at his face, and he was smiling warmly at her. He drew his hand away from her shoulder, and instead placed it on his chest. “Kelirahc,” he said softly. “Kelirahc Aleanath.” Then he reached forward and touched Leyenda on the shoulder, looking at her curiously.

Leyenda understood the gesture. “Leyenda,” she smiled back, placing her hand on her chest as the man had done. “Leyenda Aldrich.”

Kelirahc’s smile grew wider. “Leyenda,” he repeated happily.

Leyenda’s smile grew in response, and she nodded, excited that she had at last learned the strange man’s name. “Kelirahc.”

With a warm smile, Kelirahc picked up the coconut and offered it to Leyenda, along with his knife. She took them gratefully, and, since he had been good enough to cut some of the meat for her, she cut out a chunk and handed it to him. She was pleased when he took it from her hand and began to eat it.

She was really beginning to feel as though she had made a real friend.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:59 pm

Incredulous Interrogation
Location: Nauros
Year: 23761, 101 F.A.
Status: Dry Season

When night fell, Kelirahc left Leyenda asleep in his hut and headed out for the night. He didn’t want to draw attention to her – and with the fact that she couldn’t understand him, it would be hard on her. And as surprising as her appearance had been to him, she had been equally surprised by him, and he didn’t want to overwhelm her.

“Oh, you’re back!” Haldia was there to greet him the moment he left his hut. “Haven’t seen you around for a few nights.” She smiled at him. “I would ask you where you’ve been, but I know you would never tell me.”

Kelirahc chuckled. “You know me well, my friend,” he said warmly.

Haldia grinned at him. “Would I be correct to assume, then, that it was you who came to my hut earlier today?”

Kelirahc cleared his throat softly. “I tried not to wake you …”

Haldia waved it off. “Don’t worry about it. I fell asleep right away again.” She eyed him thoughtfully. “Though I have to admit, I really would like to know what you were doing in there.” She eyed him suspiciously, waiting for his answer.

He hesitated. “I just needed to borrow something. That’s all.”

Haldia stared at him. Her eyes searched his own, searching for what he wasn’t telling her. This was bothering her … he had never hidden anything from her before …

‘Are you going to tell me what it was?” she asked him, arching one eyebrow. “Or do I have to go and inventory all of my belongings?”

“It was a shirt,” he replied quickly. “Nothing else.”

Haldia blinked and stared at him. “Um … Kelirahc … you don’t wear shirts,” she pointed out flatly. “And even if you did, mine would never fit you.”

Kelirahc hesitated further. He didn’t want to treat Leyenda as if she were some sort of display, but on the other hand, Haldia was his best friend, and he couldn’t stand the idea of keeping a secret from her.

“Swear to me that you won’t say anything to anyone,” he blurted. “Not yet, at least.”

Haldia laughed uncertainly. “Okay … what’s going on?”

Kelirahc took Haldia by the arm and guided her gently towards his hut. “I found someone,” he murmured, reaching for the flap.

Before he could pull it back, Haldia stepped him, grabbing his arm. “You found someone?” she repeated incredulously. “You found yourself a girlfriend and brought her to your hut, and then gave her my clothes? Are you serious?”

Kelirahc shook his head and pried her hand from his arm. “No,” he told her firmly. “If you will kindly step inside, you will see what I mean.”

Haldia looked at him through narrow eyes, then slipped beneath the flap and into the hut. There, she stopped dead. It was dark in the hut, but their race had lived in the darkness for as long as anyone could remember: seeing in the dark was no problem for them. But what she saw completely astounded her. There, lying on Kelirahc’s bed, fast asleep, was a young woman. Light-skinned and dark-haired, she was beautiful … but she was the exact opposite of anyone Haldia had ever seen before.


Kelirahc knelt next to Haldia. “Her name is Leyenda Aldrich,” he murmured softly. “She set my arm when I broke it … she offered me food …”

Haldia stared at him. “And did you accept it?” she asked, holding her breath anxiously.

Kelirahc hesitated again. “Not … at first …”

Her eyes narrowed. “Which means that you have since. “She sighed. “And I suppose you offered her food in return. Did she accept it from your hand?”

He nodded. “But she’s not like the girls of this village,” he added quickly. “She didn’t bother looking at my mark until I looked for hers.”

Haldia’s eyes flickered toward the girl’s shoulder.

“She doesn’t have one,” Kelirahc told her.

She looked up at him again. “Please tell me you’re not going to give her yours, Kelirahc.”

He glanced up at her, then looked back down at Leyenda.

Haldia was horrified. “You can’t be serious!” she exclaimed in a hoarse whisper.

Kelirahc looked at her sharply. “And why not?” he asked her harshly. “I won’t force it on her, if that’s what you mean. I’ll make sure she understands what it means, and then ask her if she would like it. I’ll leave it up to her.”

“And then what?” Haldia hissed. “Expect her to stay here forever?”

Kelirahc took a deep breath, trying to keep his patience. “I said I will leave it to her,” he repeated firmly. “That is all.”

Haldia sucked in her breath and looked down at the man. “I always knew you would settle down eventually,” she muttered darkly, “but I did expect it to be with one of our own kind, at least.”

Kelirahc looked at Haldia intently. “How do you know that this isn’t what we were like before our ancestors were imprisoned and changed by Melkor’s minions?” he asked her. He looked back at Leyenda. “We could be looking at a descendant of the original race of elves. Maybe there are more. Who knows?”

Haldia rolled her eyes. “Why don’t you ask her then?”

Kelirahc cleared his throat awkwardly, but he didn’t say anything.

Haldia stared at him. “You’re joking.” When he didn’t reply, she bit the inside of her cheek to keep her temper from rising. Her jaw clenched angrily. “You are thinking of asking a stranger to marry you, not only a stranger of possibly a different race, but a woman with whom you can’t even communicate?!”

“We communicate,” Kelirahc shot back. He bit his lip as Leyenda stirred, and lowered his tone. “We communicate,” he repeated quietly. “Words aren’t everything.”

“This is ridiculous.” Haldia shook her head and turned to leave the hut.

“Remember,” Kelirahc called after her. “You swore!”

Without a reply, she was gone.

Kelirahc glared after her, but his attention was drawn to Leyenda as she stirred again. Her eyelids fluttered briefly, and then she opened her eyes and looked at him questioningly. “Kelirahc?” she murmured, her voice thick with sleep.

Kelirahc smiled reassuringly and reached out to brush her hair away from her face. “Hush,” he murmured softly. “Rest.”

She watched him for a moment, then smiled faintly. Almost immediately, she was asleep again.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 11:00 pm

Mark Of A Friend
Location: Nauros
Year: 23761, 101 F.A.
Status: Dry Season

Leyenda woke again with the rising of the sun to see Kelirahc still keeping watch over her. She smiled up at him, then rubbed her eyes to clear the sleep away.

“Do you ever sleep?” she asked him teasingly, sitting up. “You’re always watching over me.”

Kelirahc smiled and spoke back to her, but she had no idea what he said, as he surely had not understood her either. He held out one hand to her, as if to help her to her feet, and she took his hand and rose slowly. She brushed her hair behind her ears, then cleared her throat and nodded to him. She was ready to go wherever it was that he wanted to take her.

Again, when they left the hut, Leyenda couldn’t help but remark how abandoned the entire settlement of huts seemed to be. Everything was so still … she was used to this being one of the busiest times of day, yet nothing was moving. Was Kelirahc alone here? Had she then imagined the voices of the night before?

He led her through the jungle once more, and this time they ended up at a clearing. There were different kinds of fruit trees there, with different colours of fruit, and Kelirahc reached up and plucked a few of them. They were bright orange in colour, and perfect circles. Kelirahc cut one of them into quarters and handed two of the pieces to Leyenda. She looked at the fruit and looked at him, wondering if there was some way that they had to be eaten. He smiled back at her and bit into the inside of the fruit, leaving only the outside layer, and Leyenda smiled and did the same.

“Wow,” she laughed, slurping up the juice that seemed to want to trickle down her chin. “That’s good!” A bit tangy, perhaps, but delicious nonetheless.

Kelirahc smiled and cut up another one, handing her half of that one as well, and soon they had finished off several of the orange fruit. Once their hunger and thirst were satisfied (Leyenda couldn’t help but admire how most of the food here was so full of water), Kelirahc led her to the edge of the clearing, and motioned for her to sit. Curious, she did as he indicated, watching him to see what he would do.

Kelirahc moved to the center of the clearing and turned towards Leyenda. He looked a bit nervous, which she felt was strange, but she smiled wider and nodded, trying to encourage him. He seemed to take it as encouragement, and he smiled back. Then he raised his hand and touched two fingers to the tattoo on his shoulder, and made a sweeping motion. Blue light glittered in the area of the movement, and a moment later a dragon shimmered into being.

Leyenda gasped and jumped to her feet, scrambling backwards. The dragon was enormous! Longer than the clearing was wide, it had to curl its body slightly to fit. It was white, with icy blue eyes, and long, like a serpent. It had two enormous wings on its back, very much like Shiro’s, but white like its body. It was the first dragon that she had seen, other than the sea dragons, and it was terrifying.

Kelirahc rushed towards her, holding out one hand. He called out to her soothingly, though he was clearly troubled by her reaction. Still she hesitated, and he called up to the dragon, which in turn lay down in the clearing, looking suddenly peaceful and calm.

Leyenda’s heart was racing, and only the touch of Kelirahc’s hand on hers brought her back to the moment. She blinked at him, breathing deeply to calm herself. “S-sorry,” she murmured, blushing slightly. “I … it just … startled me.”

He spoke softly and stepped a bit closer, slipping his good arm around her shoulder and holding her close. She calmed down and pressed closer to him, her eyes fixed on the dragon now. It was truly wonderful and fearsome …

Kelirahc smiled and slowly urged her closer, reaching out and placing his hand on the great creature’s cheek. Leyenda watched him anxiously. It was almost like petting a horse, she thought to herself. What a tame beast it had to be …

She took a deep breath and reached out hesitantly, brushing her fingertips against its nose. It felt like … leather. It was scales, she knew, she could see the interlocking plates … but it felt like soft leather.

Irahc,” Kelirahc told her warmly. “Irahc.” He looked at Leyenda and touched his tattoo again. “Irahc … Kelirahc.

Leyenda blinked, then turned to face him. “Dragon,” she murmured, pointing at the dragon. She touched his tattoo. “Kelirahc … irahc … dragon.”

So his tattoo was a reflection of his name … that was interesting. She wasn’t sure she understood what that meant, but it was definitely interesting.

He smiled at her warmly, his golden eyes sparkling brightly. He nodded slowly, then slipped his hand into hers and gave it a light squeeze. She blushed, but she gazed back up at him, feeling calm, not at all worried about what was happening. She was comfortable with Kelirahc as she had never been comfortable with a man – including Brian, even before he had so suddenly surprised her.

“Leyenda,” Kelirahc said suddenly, softly, releasing her hand and placing it on his shoulder, right on top of his tattoo, “ihn mak du vist kir?

Leyenda’s brow furrowed slightly. “I wish I knew what you were saying,” she murmured softly, her tone wistful.

Kelirahc’s eyes were filled with patience, and he held up one finger again, the just a moment motion. He lowered her hand again, then, using his own hand, he pointed at the tattoo on his shoulder. “Ihn mak,” he said slowly, tapping the tattoo, “du,” he pointed at her, “vist kir?” He touched the tattoo once more, then tapped her shoulder.

Leyenda blinked. “A tattoo for me?” she asked him. “You mean, I could summon a creature like that?”

He smiled and nodded, his eyes dancing with excitement. But before she could answer, he held up his finger again and spoke again slowly. “Du mak kir,” he said, touching his tattoo and then her shoulder, “du mir kint ohn.” He tapped her chest lightly, just above her heart, then tapped his own heart.

That gesture puzzled Leyenda a bit. Was he saying that it would create a bond between them? That it would be a sign of their friendship? That they would somehow become one by sharing a tattoo and a power?

She hesitated a moment. What would it mean if she agreed? Or if she disagreed?

Kelirahc smiled and put one hand on her shoulder, and she understood the gesture. She didn’t need to answer. There was no rush.

They went for a flight with the dragon, and Kelirahc showed Leyenda the entire island. Almost the entire island was covered with thick jungle, but there was a tall volcano in the middle of the western side of the mountain. Its slopes were steep, and steam was coming from the crater in the center. At Leyenda’s request, they did a flyover. She had heard of volcanoes before, and she knew that there was one in the Southland somewhere … but she had never seen one before, and she was curious to know what it looked like inside. There were also two beaches: the one where the Zephyr had moored and her father had set up a shelter, and one on the far western shore, near the volcano.

She felt a pang of guilt as they passed high over the beach where her family was. She knew they had to be worried about her … how many days had she been gone now? She had no idea …

And with that, she came to her decision. Once they were on the ground, she would tell Kelirahc … yes, she would get that tattoo that he had offered her. It would be a way for her to remember him, to think of him always … and to visit him again should the opportunity arise. She didn’t want to forget him, and she didn’t want to leave him … though she knew it was inevitable.

At the end of the afternoon, when they landed in the same clearing where they had taken off, Leyenda watched as he touched his tattoo again and the dragon disappeared. She smiled at him as he came towards her, and she reached out and took both of his hands in her own.

“Kelirahc,” she said softly, “I know you can’t understand me. I wish it weren’t so, but we can’t change that. But I want you to know … I really … really enjoyed my time with you … you’re a very sweet man, you really are …”

She reached out and touched his tattoo, and then touched her shoulder. “I would very much like to have what you have,” she smiled, reaching out to touch the spot above his heart. “I would like to have a part of you with me … always.” And she touched her own heart, as he had done earlier.

Kelirahc’s face split in a wide smile, and he pulled her close and wrapped both arms around her, hugging her tightly. Leyenda was startled for a moment, but then she relaxed and smiled warmly, hugging him back. When he released her, he took her hands again, his eyes sparkling brightly, and he tugged her back in the direction of his home. There was a sense of urgency in his actions, and it was contagious: Leyenda found herself hurrying along after him, though she wasn’t entirely sure why.

When they got back to the collection of huts, Kelirahc led Leyenda to one that she had not seen before. It was bigger than most of them, and seemed better upkept, and she wondered why, if Kelirahc lived here alone, would he not live in that one, rather than the small one that he did live in?

It was not long before she found out.

As they approached the door (an actual grass door on hinges of a sort), Kelirahc called out, and a moment later the door opened and another man stepped out. He was not as tall as Kelirahc, a bit shorter than Leyenda, and he appeared quite old – his white hair was thin and short, his black skin slightly wrinkled. Yet his movements were quite lithe, as if he was still young, and Leyenda’s suspicions were confirmed: these people had to be some sort of elf.

His amazement was clear, and it was obvious that though Kelirahc knew this man, he had not told him about her. It made her wonder … how many people actually lived here? Were all of these huts occupied? Did anyone know about her?

Kelirahc ushered Leyenda forward. “Omarerd,” he said, “Leyenda Aldrich. Leyenda, Omarerd.”

Leyenda smiled and bowed her head respectfully. “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” she told him warmly, though a bit shyly.

The man just kept staring at her. “Aldrich?” he repeated. “Aldrich?” He looked up at Kelirahc. “Aldrich?”

Kelirahc seemed as surprised as Leyenda by the man’s reaction, and he looked to her for confirmation. She nodded at him. “Yes, Leyenda Aldrich,” she repeated.

The old man bowed to one knee and lowered his head reverently. He spoke in his own language, and Kelirahc blinked at Leyenda. She was as perplexed as he was …

“Omarerd, Omarerd,” Kelirahc said, grabbing one of the man’s shoulders and tugging him to his feet. He continued to speak to the man, explaining the situation. He kept glancing up at the sky, as if he were in a hurry, and at length the old man nodded and ushered them both into his hut.

With much muttering, the old man motioned for Leyenda to sit by one of the walls while he prepared something. Leyenda looked at Kelirahc, but he was staring at Omarerd. The old man was talking to him, explaining something, and Kelirahc kept glancing at Leyenda, seemingly impressed. Finally, the man motioned to Kelirahc, and he smiled at Leyenda and knelt next to her, taking both her hands in his. She smiled back, though she wasn’t exactly certain what was going on.

She glanced at the old man as he began to paint on her shoulder with white paint, then looked back at Kelirahc uncertainly. Omarerd didn’t take long to complete the design – but it was a simple one, as Leyenda had noted earlier – but when he finished, he placed both of his hands over it and closed his eyes bowing his head. Leyenda wanted to look and see what he was doing, but Kelirahc was gazing at her intently, and she found that she couldn’t look away. For almost ten minutes, the old man held his hands to the paint, and then finally he let go, and Leyenda looked down at her shoulder. The mark didn’t look like paint … it looked as though it were part of her skin, she noted with surprise. As if it had always been there … more like a tattoo than a painting now.

She was distracted by Kelirahc taking a cup from Omarerd, and she realized suddenly that while she had been gawking at the mark on her arm, the old man had poured two cups of … something … for them to drink. Kelirahc motioned for Leyenda to take the other cup, then smiled at her and lifted his own to his lips, taking a small sip of it. Leyenda took her cup and did the same, and she was surprised at the taste of the liquid. It was like a wine … but … sweeter. Then Kelirahc held his cup out to her, nodding for her to take it, and she did, holding her cup out to him as well. Once they had switched cups, he drank from hers, and so she did the same, drinking from his cup.

Kelirahc smiled warmly and set the cup aside, then reached for Leyenda’s hand and helped her to her feet again. He turned to Omarerd and spoke to him, bowing his head deeply. Leyenda did the same, sincerely grateful for the man’s help. Then, still smiling, Kelirahc laced his fingers with Leyenda’s and opened the door, leading her outside.

It was dark outside now, but far from the inactivity that Leyenda had expected, the little village was full of life. Dozens of black-skinned elves were walking around now, their skin making them blend into the shadows, rendering them nearly invisible if not for their pure white hair …

Ih,” Kelirahc murmured softly to Leyenda, whisking her away into the shadows before any of the elves could see her.

“Where are we going?” she asked him quietly. “Kelirahc?”

He turned to her and smiled, leading her into the jungle again. He put one finger to his lips, motioning for her to keep quiet, and then he turned and focused on their path again.

But he didn’t need to say anything. Leyenda had been in this area long enough to understand the general directions, and she knew what lay this way.

The beach.

He was taking her back.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 11:01 pm

Left Behind
Location: Nauros
Year: 23761, 101 F.A.
Status: Dry Season

The night was bright, the moon full, but Haldia was busy to notice. She was a woman on a mission tonight. The night was already half over, and she had yet to see Kelirahc anywhere. She had even checked his hut – but it was empty. She hoped beyond hope that he was taking that pale creature back to wherever it was she came from, but she couldn’t be sure.

She asked everyone if they had seen him, if they might possibly know where he might have gone, but no one had seen Kelirahc in over a week – no one but Haldia. She sighed, frustrated. There were only a few people left to ask … Omarerd, the Mark-giver, and the Elders of the village.

She didn’t want to bother Omarerd, but if Kelirahc had been telling the truth earlier, then he might have approached the old elf about giving the pale one a mark. She trusted Omarerd to have enough common sense not to allow it – the girl wasn’t even one of them, how would he? – but that didn’t mean that her friend wouldn’t have tried.

She approached the old elf as he was sitting over his fire, preparing a meal for himself. She knelt to one knee and bowed her head respectfully before she approached him.

“Omarerd,” she said softly, sitting across the fire from him.

He looked up at her and smiled. His wrinkles deepening as he did so. “Haldia, my child,” he said warmly. “Welcome. What troubles you?”

Haldia blushed slightly, though it wasn’t visible on her dark face. “You always know when I’m troubled,” she murmured.

Omarerd chuckled. “It is not hard to tell, with an innocent face like yours.”

Haldia blushed more warmly. “I’m looking for Kelirahc,” she said quietly. “I thought that perhaps he might have been here to see you.”

For a moment, the old man just watched his meal as it cooked. He was thinking deeply – not about whether or not he had seen the young man in question, he had, but thinking about how much to tell Haldia.

“He was here,” he said finally. “But that was before night fell, he must be quite far gone by now …”

Haldia’s heart skipped a beat. “What did he want?” she asked. “Something secret, was it? Something about that girl that was with him?”

Omarerd looked up at Haldia. If she knew about the woman, then surely he would not have to keep Kelirahc’s secret from her. Surely she already knew …

“He asked me to transfer his mark to her,” he said softly, slowly, poking at his meal with a stick to test it. “She … is an amazing creature, truly …”

Haldia stared. “You didn’t do it, did you?”

He looked back up at her. “She is an Aldrich,” he said quietly. “And I know, that means nothing to you … but there was a time … when anyone who met an Aldrich … bowed at their feet and worshiped them.” He carefully removed his food from the fire. “I could think of no better woman,” he murmured, “to become Kelirahc’s wif-”

The word wasn’t even out of his mouth when Haldia jumped to her feet, her eyes blazing.

“He didn’t,” she breathed ominously. She touched her mark, and a roc appeared in front of her. She climbed onto its back and settled in just in front of its shoulders. She urged it into the air.

Kelirahc had some explaining to do.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 11:02 pm

Shelter From The Rain
Location: Nauros
Year: 23761 (101 F.A.)
Status: Dry Season (End)

Over the weeks, Leyenda and Kelirahc had both been studying diligently to learn each other’s languages, and now they were at the point where they didn’t need Shiro or Rhea to teach them, they knew enough that they could just teach each other whatever there was left to learn. Shiro was spending all his time with the Night Elves, learning about their culture and writing as much as he could – he had already filled two entire journals with information about them, and was writing more every day.

With Shiro staying at the village, Rhea had taken it upon herself to teach Celeb the ancient tongue, and she had to admit – the boy was a quick learner: faster than either Kelirahc or Leyenda, which was saying something. Then again, he was at that age where he could learn a lot in a short amount of time.

By now, Arwen and Roydon had gotten used to the idea that their daughter was married, and they had also grown fond of Kelirahc. There were still things that they didn’t understand about him, but that was simply because of the different culture he had grown up in, and it didn’t bother them. They trusted him. And they trusted Leyenda alone with him. They knew that he would bring her to no harm – and as they were already married, it really didn’t matter what else they did together. They could not dishonour themselves.

But as the days passed, Kelirahc kept watching the sky more and more anxiously. Leyenda found herself gazing upwards with him, without really knowing why. There were no clouds in sight, so he couldn’t be fearing a storm …

Finally, one day she decided to ask him.

It was a beautiful day, as every single other day on the island had been, and the two of them had gone off alone. Leyenda had used the excuse that she wanted to see the volcano again from a bit closer, but she didn’t need an excuse to ask Kelirahc to go off with her – he certainly never gave an excuse when he asked her to go somewhere with him.

As they headed off through the trees, Kelirahc glanced up at the sky in a manner that had become familiar over the past week or so. Leyenda looked up as well, but she didn’t see anything different, nothing out of the ordinary. She turned towards Kelirahc and asked him, “What are you looking for?” She repeated it in his language, as had become custom for them.

He hesitated as he thought how to answer her. “Soon … rain come,” he told her. “Big rain, for … long time … many moons. Sometimes rain, sometimes stop, but lots of rain … big rain.” He repeated in his own language. “The rainy season is almost here, and for six cycles of the moon it will rain with only a few breaks.

Leyenda was stunned. “That’s half a year,” she breathed. “Has it always been like this?”

Kelirahc nodded, slightly anxious about her reaction. “Do not worry,” he assured her, squeezing her hand. “Is good rain … make things grow big, healthy. Make shelter, be safe.”

“Is it a heavy rain?” she asked him in reply. “Will the shelter on the beach be sufficient for my family? For the crew?”

Kelirahc thought about it for a moment. “Is better if go back ship,” he said slowly, thoughtfully. “Shelter … no root … sand weak, sand move in water, shelter maybe fall, maybe not. Beach not all safe in rain.”

Leyenda frowned, her brow furrowing deeply. “Then we should warn my parents, shouldn’t we?” she asked him. “I mean … if the shelter falls, it could hurt someone …”

He smiled and caressed her forehead with his thumb, smoothing away the lines of worry. “Will tell,” he promised her softly. “No big rain yet for days … maybe week. Maybe little rain today, no big rain.” He leaned forward and kissed her gently. “Safe,” he murmured.

She blushed. “And us?” she asked as he slipped his arms around her. “Will we be safe from the rain if it rains today?”

He smiled and touched his nose to hers. “Safe,” he murmured; and his voice was so calm and so soothing that Leyenda couldn’t help but believe him. He smiled and kissed her again, then took her hand and led her forward once more.

From the beach, it was about a half day’s walk to the volcano, and as they approached, Leyenda noticed that clouds were indeed beginning to form in the sky. She pointed them out to Kelirahc, but he merely smiled at her. “Not yet,” he promised her. “Come … almost there.”

Leyenda kept an eye on the sky anyways as they walked. They would never be able to make it back to the beach before it rained … but where would they find shelter out here?

“Here,” Kelirahc beckoned her. “This way … come. Ih.

He led her up the slope of the volcano, and she followed him quickly. She wasn’t sure how safe it was, but he didn’t seem at all alarmed, and she felt herself growing calmer with each passing minute. Obviously he had no fear of that the volcano would erupt.

“Kelirahc,” she asked him as they climbed, “when was the last time that Kelleshahn erupted?” She was curious – and who would not be? The volcano was active, and yet not feared, and that to her seemed something of a contradiction.

Kelirahc had to think about the answer as he helped her up onto a ledge. “Many … many children,” he replied with difficulty. He tried again in the Ancient Tongue. “Generations. In some families, many. My family, not many … my father … father.”

“Grandfather?” Leyenda supplied for him, and he nodded.

“Grandfather escape from Melkor, bring elves here,” he explained. “Settle … families … Kelleshahn …” He threw his arms up and made an exploding noise. “Many die. Grandfather die. Father … sick. Hurt. Father not die. Father live long … until meet Mother. Then Father die, Mother die … I live, not see Kelleshahn angry. Island beautiful again … no anger.”

Leyenda was touched by his story – it was the first time he had spoken to her about how his family had died, though she had realized early on that the villagers had raised him. Not that he had said anything to that effect, but … the way he interacted with all of them, the way they all looked out for him … it was clear that he was special to them.

She opened her mouth to speak, but before she could say a word, Kelirahc looked at the sky and murmured, “Should find dry place, rain come …”

He took her hand and led her forward, picking up the pace. She ran after him quickly so that she wouldn’t lose him, her heart racing. She had only seen rain a few times before in her life, and it had both fascinated and terrified her. Growing up in the Southland desert had made it a rare occurrence for her, and she still didn’t understand entirely how rain could come from the sky. But the few rains she had experienced had also been like torrential downpours: short, but fierce and painful in its force.

The sky was growing dark quite quickly now, and Leyenda kept looking up at it anxiously. She was about to say something else to Kelirahc when he turned and smiled at her and pointed up ahead of them. She squinted into the sudden darkness, and in the side of the volcano she could see a little hole: a tunnel or cave of some sort.

“In there?” she asked, pointing at it.

Kelirahc nodded. “Safe,” he told her. “Hurry, rain come!”

She turned and began to run at full speed – but it had been a while since she had run anywhere, and she had never run uphill, which meant that she didn’t move as quickly as she wanted to. They still hadn’t reached the cave when the sky suddenly opened and the rain began to fall. It was thick and heavy, and within seconds, both of them were soaked. They ran into the cave – which ended up being a long tunnel, just tall enough for them to stand up in, and equally as wide. It had an upward slope to it, which kept the rain out and kept the water from trickling in, though Leyenda wasn’t entirely sure how that was a good thing, since after all they were soaked as it was.

Once they were safely out of the rain, Kelirahc turned to Leyenda and took her hands. “You all right?” he asked her anxiously. “Not cold?”

Leyenda shook her head, though she knew it was only a matter of time before she would indeed grow cold. “I’m fine,” she murmured. “Though I’m glad we’re in here.” She looked around at the tunnel. “What is this place?”

“Lava tube,” Kelirahc replied, sitting next to her and slipping one arm around her shoulders. “When Kelleshahn angry, lava come up … but now is safe, no lava. Safe for us be here.”

She pressed into his side, laying her head on his shoulder. She was glad for his warmth … she was growing cold faster than she had thought she would.

He frowned and held her closer, wrapping both arms around her. “You’re cold.” He began to rub her back gently. “Why you tell me you not cold?”

“I wasn’t then,” she admitted quietly. “It’s not a big deal …”

Kelirahc frowned. “Clothes wet, wet is cold … should not have wet clothes on. Make you sick.”

“What about you?” Leyenda challenged him. “You’re wearing your wet clothes, aren’t you worried about yourself? Won’t you get sick?”

Kelirahc looked down at her, then let her go and rose to his feet. Before she could say anything, he stripped his clothes off and laid them out on a rock to dry. Leyenda felt herself blushing hotly as he returned to her and held out one hand to her. “There,” he said. “No wet clothes. Now you.”

Leyenda blushed even more hotly, and she was certain her face had to be a very bright shade of red at the moment. She took a deep breath to calm herself. After all, he was her husband, right? What should it matter if he saw her naked or not?

She knew the reason. Even if they were married, they were still in the courtship phase of their relationship, and it just didn’t seem right somehow …

“Leyenda,” Kelirahc said softly, his expression worried, “you will be sick …”

Still she hesitated. He was probably right, she was going to get sick, but …

He smiled faintly, guessing at what her fear might be. “Not worry,” he murmured softly. “If you want, I will keep distance. No touch, no worry. We be husband, wife, but if you not ready, I wait. I wait forever if you want.”

And finally, Leyenda came to a decision. He was right – she was going to make herself sick if she just huddled in her cold and wet clothes for the rest of the day. She needed to warm up, and she needed to be dry.

She nodded. “All right.” She took his hand and pulled herself to her feet. She hesitated a moment, and then, blushing more deeply than ever, she began to undress herself. She was tempted to leave on at least her undergarments, but they were just as wet as her clothes – she had never seen rain this soaking. Even back home, on the river, she had never gotten so wet so fast. Still …

No, she wasn’t ready to go quite that far just yet, despite the fact that he was indeed her husband. She set her outer garments aside and spread them out so that they would dry, and then she moved to sit next to Kelirahc, trying to ignore the fact that he was stark naked.

“Do you come here often?” she asked, leaning against his side. She rubbed her arms, trying to get warm, and he put one arm around her shoulders, holding her to him.

“When I was little,” he said softly, “I come often. Now not so much … too many girl follow, not leave me alone. Hide closer to village. They not leave me alone, no peace. But now …” He smiled down at her and gently rubbed her arm. “Now peace, peace with you.”

Leyenda blushed again, and she closed her eyes and leaned her head against his shoulder. “I can’t imagine it not being peaceful here … it’s so beautiful …”

He smiled and brushed her hair behind her ears. “Aleanath strong name,” he murmured. “Many woman want. Like Aldrich. Many men want, I think. You have many men want your name?”

When Leyenda thought about it, she couldn’t think of anyone who had tried to court her … no one but Brian, but he hadn’t wanted her name, he had wanted her body. Did that count? Probably not, at least not in the way Kelirahc had meant.

She shook her head. “No. No one.” Though when she thought about it, she had left the moment she had become of marriageable age. Gone working on the Zephyr, and then on their journey. She sighed. “I suppose, had I been home longer, they might have. I don’t know.”

He looked at her tenderly. “No peace?” he asked her softly.

She looked up at him. She had been with him nearly a month already, and even now it surprised her, how tender he was. He was tall, he was muscular, and he was strong … at first appearance he looked to be the sort of fellow who might be gruff or stern … and the tenderness that he showed, his gentility, the way he seemed to be able to read her emotions, never ceased to amaze her.

She smiled and tilted her head up to kiss his cheek. “Now that I am with you,” she murmured, “I have peace.”

A slow smile split his face, and he gazed at her tenderly. “And I,” he murmured, holding her closer to him. “Leyenda … I love you.”

Leyenda blushed, but she wrapped her arms around him and held him close. “And I love you, Kelirahc,” she whispered quietly.

It was the first time they had spoken those words, either of them, and it felt good to say it. Awkward, yes, but wonderful. Her heart pounded in her chest, and when she felt him slip his arms around her and pull her closer, she didn’t resist. She turned towards him and placed one hand on his chest, and ran her fingers lightly over his skin.

“Leyenda,” Kelirahc said softly, his accent smooth and seductive, his eyes warm and loving, “you are certain … ?”

Leyenda bit her lip, feeling suddenly shy, but she nodded slowly. “I love you,” she whispered again. “You are my husband, I am your wife … there is nothing wrong with this … there will be no regrets.”

He smiled and ran his fingers over her collarbone. “And your mother? Father?”

She pursed her lips slightly as she thought about it. “They know we’re going to be gone for a day or two,” she murmured, “and we are married … I’m sure they expect it to happen sooner or later.”

“And you?” He pressed his lips to her forehead. “You want it?”

Leyenda smiled and nodded. “I do,” she murmured. “Truly.”

The rain continued for several hours, but it was entirely unnoticed by the two in the tunnel.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 11:03 pm

An Unwelcome Welcome
Location: Amon Darthír
Year: 102 F.A.
Status: Early Winter

There was a slight chill in the air as Haldia and Eärendil flew towards the castle on the cliff. Winter had begun, and even though this island was on the same latitude as Nauros, it did not have the same tropical climate. It wasn’t exactly cold, but it was indeed far from warm.

What do you think they’ll be like?” Haldia asked Eärendil over her shoulder as they approached.

Eärendil’s eyes swept over the city and the palace below them. “Sophisticated,” he replied; and then, seeing the separate layers of walls, he added, “And suspicious.” He looked at Haldia. “We must tread carefully here.

She nodded. “I leave it to you, then.

I just hope we have a common language,” Eärendil murmured softly.

They decided to set down in the top level of the walls, close to the palace – but hopefully not so close that they would appear to be a threat. At least Eärendil reasoned, they would not have to worry about the roc being feared – he had seen a few rocs flying around the island during their flight, some of them with a rider or two. It seemed a part of their culture here, and he couldn’t help but wonder if they also had marks, like Haldia’s people. And indeed, while they were in the air, no one seemed to pay them any mind – but when they landed, there was a shout, and several men in armour ran towards them.

“Here goes,” Eärendil murmured softly to himself, sliding from the roc’s back so that Haldia could draw the spirit back in.

The two of them knelt side by side, their heads bowed as half a dozen soldiers surrounded them, their weapons drawn.

One of the soldiers, clearly their leader, whose armour was more intricately designed than the others, stepped forward, spear pointed at the two who were kneeling in front of him. “Identify yourselves!” he demanded in Common Elvish, the language of the Westland Elves.

Eärendil knew that Haldia didn’t know the language, but in any case it would have been his place to answer anyways.

I am Prince Eärendil Aldrich,” he replied, his head still bowed respectfully, “descendent of Atalya Aldrich, Queen of the Southland Elves, in the Four Lands.

The soldier laughed humorlessly. “Indeed?” he questioned. He reached up and removed his helmet, allowing his fiery orange hair to fall about his shoulders. “It has been a long time since we have had dealings with the Dark Elves. Tell me – what brings you to our country, Prince Eärendil Aldrich, descendent of Queen Alyse Aldrich?

Eärendil was surprised to hear the name of the first queen of his land, and it showed in his face.

Yes, Prince,” the soldier chuckled, “it has been a very long time since our people have had dealings with yours. Or, for that matter, with our own.

Eärendil frowned. “Your own?

The Light Elves.” The soldier scowled. “Bigots. Fools. Always wanting to keep themselves pure, discriminating against anything they didn’t like …

It sounds as if they have changed,” Eärendil commented. “Since the last war, not only have they been accepting of others, but many of them have also begun to marry those of the Dark Elves.

The man laughed again, seemingly amused by Eärendil’s words. “Such cheek!” he exclaimed. “And from the mouth of a prince, no less! Tell me, Prince, do you think me a fool? I know my kind. They would rather die than have any relations with the Dark Ones – especially family relations.

I speak the truth,” Eärendil insisted quietly. “The Eastland is clear of dwarfs, and is now dedicated to those of the Light and Dark Elves who wish to be together.

Lies.” The soldier glared at Eärendil a moment longer, then turned his attention to Haldia, who was also still kneeling, her head bowed respectfully. “Why does she not speak?” he demanded harshly.

Eärendil glanced at Haldia, then looked up at the soldier. “She does not know your tongue, sir,” he explained. “And she speaks but few words of the Common Tongue. Her people know only the Ancient Tongue, unchanged from its original form.

The soldier was silent as he stared at Haldia. She remained silent, motionless, though she could feel his eyes on her. She knew she was being tested somehow, but she didn’t know what she was being tested for, and so she deemed it best if she simply did not move.

Suddenly, the soldier snapped his fingers, and four of his men stepped forward and took Haldia and Eärendil by the arms. Haldia was startled, but a word from Eärendil calmed her.

Where are you taking us?” Eärendil asked the soldier as they started forward.

The man looked evenly at Eärendil. “We will find out the truth of things,” he replied ominously. He nodded to his men. “Take them away.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 11:03 pm

Startling Visitor
Location: Haven, Borderlands
Year: 103 F.A.
Status: Midsummer

It was a hot summer, and drier than usual. Nine years Shiara had been with Haven, and in all those years she had never seen such a hot and dry summer. But her time there had been good for her … her body had healed in ways that her mind might never do. Even still, she had greatly improved since her arrival. She wasn’t afraid in the presence of others. Even Aragost didn’t bother her anymore. The only person she wasn’t terribly fond of was Elberon, and that was because he had a tendency to try to get too close to people, and though she wished she weren’t afraid of him, she knew that she wasn’t the only one, and it made her feel better.

She was grateful especially to Haradhel, Ahren’s mother. In addition to taking her in, allowing her to stay at the main house as one of the family, she had given Shiara more than she had ever hoped. Hot though the summer was, she still wanted to keep as much of her body hidden as possible: and it was through Haradhel’s generous gift of several bolts of spidersilk that she had been able to make herself an entire wardrobe that would keep her both covered and cool. Ahren had warned her about wearing scarves all the time, saying that it was dangerous, but she could not leave her neck open, she felt naked when she did, and so she wore the scarf anyways. Niyana had taught her to dye her clothes, and though her first few attempts had turned out either too dark or too light, she had found a technique that worked for her, and she had gotten quite skilled at it. Then had come her introduction to embroidery, and she had begun to sew little pictures onto her clothes.

And throughout all of it, Ahren remained by her side, helping her to overcome her fears. Slowly, her nightmares had vanished, and on the rare occasion that she did still dream of the time of her captivity, she would awaken in tears only to find herself safe in his strong arms.

Overall, Shiara smiled when she realized – with some surprise – that she was actually happy once more, as she had never thought to be again. It wasn’t just her freedom, she knew that. It wasn’t just that she was in a place where she could feel secure. Nor was it the sea of friendly faces around her, the people who she knew she could always count on.

Or at least, it wasn’t all of them. She could not deny that there was one face that she knew was the reason for her happiness, the one person that she could not do without: the man who had saved her not only from her physical captivity, but also from the captivity of her mind.


And he had done so much more for her than simply acclimatize her to having other people around her. He had taught her to defend herself, to protect herself, to be independent – and to care, not only for others, but also for herself, something she had never dared to do before.

Yes, she thought, smiling to herself, she owed him a great deal. More than she could ever repay him for. But she also knew that she wanted to spend the rest of her life trying. She wasn’t sure how, but she would try.

On this particular day, she was training with Ahren. He had taught her self defense, with and without weapons, and though she felt fairly confident in her ability to keep herself alive in case of an emergency, she still wasn’t comfortable being by herself. Ahren was trying to teach her to sense her surroundings, know what and who was around her, and even to tell the difference between the auras around her. It was an acquired skill, he was well aware, but he wanted her to try anyways.

Shiara had decided that she would go for a walk around the ranch. Watching the horses always calmed her down, she wasn’t sure why; and really it was quite beautiful, even though it was so hot and dry this summer.

Once or twice as she walked, she thought she felt the presence of someone behind her, but each time she looked she didn’t see anything. She tried to shake off the feeling of nervousness that began to creep up on her, but it was difficult. Fear was a hard thing to get rid of, after all.

What made her more uneasy was the fact that Ahren had not allowed her to have any weapons today. She knew she could defend herself just as well without them, but still … the feeling of cold steel at her fingertips did make her feel better.

She came out of the trees just beyond the fence of the horse’s field. She didn’t mind walking in the trees. Even though they could more easily hide people, she knew the woods quite well by this time, and she felt certain that if she needed to hide or run away from someone, she would be able to do so without getting lost. The woods were a comfort to her, a security she had not even been able to dream about during her captivity with the dwarfs.

She wandered slowly up to the fence, glancing around a few times to make sure that she was still alone. She saw nothing strange … she heard nothing strange … she felt nothing strange … Satisfied that she was alone, she turned towards the field and stood on the lowest rail of the fence, leaning against it and watching the horses as they grazed peacefully.

Time passed, and slowly, without realizing it, she forgot about the lesson that she was supposed to be working on. She lost herself in her thoughts, in the peace of the moment, the serenity of the creatures she was watching. Nothing else existed anymore. There could be nothing wrong anywhere …

Suddenly, a voice behind her murmured, “Beautiful …”

Shiara shrieked in surprise, and without thinking, only reacting, she whirled around and jumped off the fence, tackling the voice to the ground. She was startled when there was no resistance, and once she was sure she wasn’t going to be attacked, she got off the person and looked at who it was.

It was a woman … a youngish looking woman with short blond hair in tight curls, dressed in fine clothes, though they showed signs of travel.

Shiara studied the woman through narrow eyes as she stood up and brushed herself off, chuckling softly.

“I can see you’ve changed,” the woman grinned at her. “I would never have expected that from you.”

Shiara just kept staring. “You … seem familiar …” But where …

The woman laughed. “I should hope so! It hasn’t been so long since you and Ahren came to visit my father, has it? You can’t have forgotten me already!”

Shiara blinked. “Princess …”

“Wren Elessedil,” the princess grinned. “I knew you would remember eventually.”

Shiara blushed. “I – I’m sorry,” she murmured, “but it has been so long, and …”

Wren held up one hand. “You’ve had more than enough on your mind,” she said firmly, “don’t you let yourself feel bad about forgetting me.” She flicked a blade of grass from her elbow and smiled at Shiara. “Now. My reason for coming here. Officially, I came to find out how things went in the north … I know, our men have returned and given their report, but I wanted to know how things have changed here. Unofficially, I wanted to see the horses and, if you were still here, see how you’re holding up.”

She looked Shiara over thoughtfully, making the younger woman blush. “You look like you’re doing quite well,” she smiled, reaching out and setting one hand on Shiara’s shoulder. She was impressed when the girl didn’t flinch away from the touch: the first time she had tried to do that, Shiara had screamed bloody murder and run away.

Shiara smiled softly. “I’m … doing much better now, thank you. Ahren has been … is very good to me. He has taught me much, he had shown me much …”

Wren smiled warmly at her. “And I can see by looking at you how much you care for him.”

Shiara’s blush deepened, making Wren laugh.

“No worries,” the princess grinned, winking at her. “I’ll keep it a secret. At least for a while.”

Shiara shuffled her feet uncomfortably. She didn’t want Ahren to know … she had been working hard not to let him know for so long now … and though she knew that most people would think she was being silly, she couldn’t let herself tell him. She couldn’t hold him back. He deserved a wife who could make him happy. She could never do that. As much as she loved him, she could never give him the children that he deserved. It wasn’t that she was incapable; it was simply that she was afraid …

Wren seemed to be able to read Shiara’s thoughts, and she smiled and poked her on the nose, startling her out of her reverie.

“Don’t you be thinking you’re not good enough for him,” she smiled, though she was perfectly serious. “Remember, he knows you. He knows your fears, your history. You owe it to him to be honest. Let him decide if you can make him happy or not. After all, only he could know that for certain. Isn’t that true?”

Shiara blushed again and turned to watch the horses. “I … suppose,” she murmured. “But-”

“No buts,” Wren interrupted with a smile. “I may not know my cousin all that well, but I can say one thing for him. He’s honest. If he accepts your feelings, it’s because he feels the same way. He wouldn’t encourage you just for the sake of making you feel good. He won’t toy with you.”

“But he does do a lot of things just for my sake,” Shiara murmured softly, wistfully.

Wren reached out and smacked her upside the head, not holding back. “Wake up, girl,” she laughed. “If he goes out of his way to do things just for you, it’s because he does feel for you, and he’s trying to win you over.”

Shiara held one hand to the back of her head where Wren had hit her. “What was that for?” she scowled.

Wren moved to hit her again, but this time she was blocked. She just grinned.

“To wake you up,” she replied. “I just hope it worked as well on your mind as it did on your reflexes. Now come on, I promised Haradhel I’d bring you back.”

Shiara blushed again and nodded, and she took Wren’s extended hand and started back towards the house with her.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 11:04 pm

Father-Son Talk
Location: Tor Karad, Southland
Year: 106 F.A.
Status: Late Spring

Three days had passed since the group had returned from their long journey – epic, as some would call it, especially considering what had happened on the journey – and two days had passed since Lin and the other Gaians had returned to their home. Eärendil was finding it hard to get back into the schedule he had once followed. He still woke early, yes, but he found that even with his duties – training and so on – he felt as if he were bored. After six years of mapping, constantly working towards a goal, he felt quite lost without one.

On this particular afternoon, he was in his study, sitting at his desk. Paperwork was spread out in front of him, his inkwell freshly filled, a freshly sharpened quill in his hand; but he had not yet even dipped the quill into the ink, nor were his eyes on the work before him. He was staring out the window, gazing at the horizon. His mind was nearly blank, but one thought that continued to register was the question of what was beyond that horizon.

He was startled when suddenly he heard a knock at the door.

“Come in,” he called, dipping his quill into the ink and turning towards his work for the first time since he had entered his study.

To his surprise, it was Ruel who entered. It was the first time Eärendil could remember that his father had visited him when he was working. Taken off guard, he set his quill down without thinking.

“Don’t ruin your page,” Ruel chuckled, nodding at the splotch of ink that was all over the top sheet of paper on the desk.

Eärendil flushed and picked up the quill, setting it into the bottle of ink, and blotted the page before setting it aside. “Thank you, Father,” he murmured. “I’m afraid I wasn’t paying attention-”

“To anything,” Ruel interrupted with a smile. “I know. I saw you. Your door was open. I only knocked to get your attention.”

Eärendil’s flush grew darker. “I’m sorry, Father. I know I have work to do, it’s just …” He trailed off, hesitating. He just couldn’t concentrate anymore.

Ruel smiled and walked over to his son, setting one hand on his shoulder gently. “Give yourself time. You’ll get back into the swing of things.”

Eärendil chuckled. “Yes, I know.” He stacked all of his papers neatly, then set them on a shelf to one side. “So why have you come to me, Father?” he asked curiously, turning and watching Ruel carefully. “We have already talked at length about the trip … and you don’t usually leave your forge if you don’t have to …”

“Do I need an excuse to talk to my son?” Ruel replied, arching one eyebrow.

Eärendil chuckled again. “Perhaps not. It’s just strange, is all.”

“There are stranger things.”

Eärendil tilted his head slightly. “Such as?”

Ruel shrugged. “Stranger things, stranger people.”

“Would you happen to be referring to Leyenda and her husband?” Eärendil was worried, but only for a moment.

“Not at all,” Ruel smiled. “They are very happy together, and very much in love. I wish them the best.” After a brief pause, he added, “At least he is an elf, even if not the same as us.”

Eärendil blinked. He wasn’t sure why he was surprised that his father had said that, but it was just … different from how he had been in the past several decades. But … in a roundabout way it was a compliment for the couple. Still …

He frowned slightly. “Should I be taking that comment personally?” he asked coolly.

Ruel shrugged again. “I did not mean for you to. I won’t get in the way of your happiness. But if you choose to take it personally, I won’t stop you either.”

Eärendil didn’t quite know how he should take that. Glad that his father wasn’t going to argue with him? Though he had a feeling that his father might not be making a big deal out of it simply because Eärendil himself had chosen to keep silent on the subject of the one he had come to love. He knew Lin did not love him, at least no more than a brother. And he knew that he could not ask her to abandon her own world just to stay here for him. Ruel knew these things as well: perhaps that was why he seemed so nonchalant about it.

But what if he was being sincere?

“Father,” he murmured, sitting down again and motioning for Ruel to sit as well, “I know that … as far as Lin is concerned, you welcome her to the castle as a guest. And though I know you claim to be neutral on the matter of my regard for her …”

Ruel snorted.

“… I can’t help but feel that, if I were ever to say something to her, be honest with her,” Eärendil continued, glaring at his father, “you would change and become as rude as you ever were.”

Ruel shrugged. “I can’t say either way,” he admitted. “Maybe I will, and maybe I won’t. But I do know this.” He leaned forward and looked into his son’s eyes. “You will never say anything to her simply because you respect her far too much to restrict her to one place or one person when you know how she loves to travel and interact with different people. You will not take her away from her family or her friends, or her life in her own world. And that,” he concluded, sitting back again, “is why I don’t worry about you.”

He smiled and rose to his feet again. “Give it time,” he said calmly. “Eventually you’ll come to your senses. You’ll forget all about her and find a good elven woman to settle down with. Trust me.”

“Have I ever?” Eärendil called after him as he left again.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 30, 2015 11:05 pm

Debate Of The Sky Elves
Location: Haven, Borderlands
Year: 106 F.A.
Status: Late Summer

It was the first morning after their arrival in the Borderlands, and the sunrise found Aurin Striate wide awake. In point of fact, he had been unable to sleep. Not because it was warmer than he was used to (it was a very comfortable sleeping temperature, he found), but simply because he had so much on his mind.

For one thing, he had not expected the reaction from Aerin-sol that he had gotten. He had expected … well, he wasn’t entirely sure what he had expected, but not anger. Surprise, perhaps happiness, anxiety even; but not the fury that she had displayed.

Secondly, he was excited to be here, in the valley, in a place he had often heard of but never imagined seeing. The place where his fiancée had grown up. The place where she was.

The fact that he had been allowed to journey with the group back to their home had both pleased and disturbed him. He was delighted that he would not be separated from Rhea, and yet … there was that niggling feeling in the back of his mind that told him that things were not as good as they seemed. There had been that look in the king’s eye … and he couldn’t help but wonder if the king hadn’t expected Aerin to be angry as well.

Well, there was nothing to be done about it until he had another chance to speak with the princess. And that, it seemed, would not happen right away.

In fact, it didn’t even happen until after lunch, far later than Aurin would have liked. But finally, he and Rhea managed to get off without anyone coming with them, walking towards the ranch. It was a beautiful walk, and he was glad that they had decided to leave Skyel behind – the roc didn’t mind, she simply soared through the sky as she loved to do.

When they arrived at Aerin’s door in the barracks, the door across the hall was the one that opened, and Caranthir stepped out. “She’s not to be disturbed,” he said firmly, his eyes blazing in a rare moment of emotion. “She’s asleep.”

“She asked me to come today,” Aurin replied quietly, remaining respectful. “I do not mean to press, but she insisted.”

Caranthir’s eyes narrowed and he brushed past the two and opened the door to Aerin’s room. It was dark in there. It seemed that the shutters were closed to allow her to sleep through the day. Caranthir opened the shutters, then the windows.

In the sudden light, Aerin, half covered by her blanket (which looked brand new, which was a testament to the fact that she had not slept here before) squinted her eyes and shielded them with her hand. Then she rubbed her eyes and sat up. It seemed she was still dressed from the day before, and Aurin wondered how exhausted she had been upon her return to the barracks.

“Aerin,” Caranthir said softly, sitting on the edge of the bed. “Striate is here to talk to you.”

Rhea frowned at the rude manner in which Caranthir referred to Aurin, but she knew that he would have his reasons for doing so. After all, Aurin had been the one to upset Aerin, and Caranthir cared about her …

Aerin looked at Aurin, her eyes still filled with sleep. “Why did the king send you?” she asked him directly.

Aurin cleared his throat. “Your father-”

“The king,” Aerin interrupted him. “Do not call him my father.”

Aurin bowed his head. “As you wish, Aerin-sol. The king was eager to send someone to bring you a message, and to return with news of you to him as soon as possible. As for why me, personally … it is because of the bond that has grown between myself and Rhea.” He looked over at Rhea, then reached out and took her hand, tugging her closer. “You left before we could tell you yesterday … we are to be married.”

Aerin blinked at the couple, who were smiling happily at each other. Her face was expressionless, her thoughts hidden. She looked up at Caranthir, and he nodded, knowing what she was going to ask before she even spoke.

“Rhea,” he said softly, turning to her, “would you mind leaving the three of us alone for a few minutes? We will join you outside shortly. There is a sensitive matter which we must discuss.”

Rhea looked at them thoughtfully. She could read their thoughts as easily as they thought them. She knew what they would talk about. But for her to know it and for her to hear it, that was the difference between a discussion between them, and treason on Aurin’s part.

“I will be in the yard,” she told them with a gentle smile. She kissed Aurin on the cheek, then squeezed his hand and left the room.

After she was gone, they waited a few minutes to be sure that she would be out of earshot, and then Aerin looked at Aurin evenly. “The king cares nothing for what he considers to be a trifle such as love,” she told him flatly. “I only hope for her sake that this is not a charade on your part as well.”

Aurin’s jaw dropped in shock at that statement. He was deeply hurt by it. “I love her,” he replied fiercely, anger welling within him, though he knew he had to calm himself. “Make no mistake about that. If there were a way to keep her from witnessing what she surely will when we return, I would spare her from it in any possible manner.”

Aerin nodded. “Good. I had hoped as much. Now allow me to tell you why the king sent you. It has nothing to do with the fact that you and Rhea are in love. The only reason he would have sent you above any of his other men is that fact that you and Skyel are the only people from home, other than Alena, who could not come, with whom I have any sort of bond at all. You are the only person who I would talk to, listen to, and perhaps even reason with.”

Aurin was surprised by that, but somehow pleased. He bowed his head. “You honour me,” he said respectfully. Then he hesitated. “The king’s message, though …”

“What is it?”

Aurin cleared his throat. “I have two messages for you, one from His Majesty, and one from Lady Alena. They do not fully make sense to me, but I will deliver them as I was asked.” He took a deep breath. “From His Majesty, King Aerennel: ‘My daughter, you must return to me.’”

“Straight to the point,” Aerin murmured. She brushed her hair away from her face. “And from Alena?”

Aurin frowned, but he did as he was requested. “She sends this message: ‘Aerin, our dearly beloved first sol, what tears it brings us to know that you are alive and well. I cannot presume to tell you what to do, but I beg you, for the sake of your kingdom, please return. The king …’”

He hesitated, and his face darkened, as if he were ashamed to say what came next. “‘-the king is mad,’” he went on, softer now. “‘If he continues to rule, our people will die.’”

Aerin stared at him. “Is she proposing that I return and take over the throne?”

Aurin hung his head. “I dared ask no questions. And she dared not write anything down. Your Highness, what she proposes is treason, and I fear for her. Whether anything comes of this or not, she is in a precarious position. She is there to serve the people, and I fear that more and more, that is not serving the king.”

“What about Aethos?” Aerin frowned. “He is older than I am, he is First Sola: can he not help?”

Aurin grimaced. “Forgive me for speaking ill of your brother, Aerin-sol, but he is useless when it comes to ruling. If he were to take charge, the people would suffer greatly, even without the gnomes.”

Aerin frowned. “Explain.”

The captain sighed. “At present, the city is in great need of expansion. The people are crowded. The king would have the city remain the same, and Aethos-sola would have the troops ignore the gnomes and work solely on the expansion of the city. Either way, the people will be destroyed – by themselves in the king’s way, and by the gnomes in Aethos-sola’s.”

Aerin stared at him. “And Alena allows this?”

Aurin grimaced. “I fear that her word is not as it once was. His Majesty has somehow gleaned somewhat of her disapproval of him, I think.”

“Which means that her life could be in danger, even if the king has no proof,” Aerin sighed. She turned to Caranthir. “Why have I been cursed with having him as a father?”

Caranthir gazed down at her, his eyes tender. “Perhaps,” he murmured softly, “so that your people could be blessed with eventually having a ruler who truly cares for them, and who is capable of caring for them.”

He reached over and put one hand on her shoulder. “I of all people do not wish you to return,” he told her softly. “But if it will save so many lives, then I can’t be selfish. If your people are suffering as truly as Captain Striate says, you could not live with yourself if you allowed it to continue by your inaction.”

“I will consider it,” Aerin told them, tossing her blanket aside. “Now please give me some privacy, I’m going to get dressed. I’ll meet you outside. Aurin, Rhea will be waiting for you.”

Aurin bowed deeply. “Thank you, Aerin-sol,” he murmured. He turned towards the door and left, Caranthir following quickly after him.

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