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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

iisbroke

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A Productive Reunion




A letter arrives in Ordivantes, addressed to Einir Tudonii. It bears the seal of House Krestarii (set 18 years into epilogue)
Einir,

Come to Norseland. Meet me at the Bald Mule in Stronghelm. Tell no one.

I need you.


~Narien

He looked at the letter again once more wondering what this was all about. Einir had just recently been named High Chief and had other priorities. Still the letter had seemed urgent even if from a crush he had not seen in years. A light dusting of snow fell around on the wooded hill he stood upon. Small pines sarting up as best they could, yet others bent down toward the earth from the weight of snow.

Incase of danger he wore a battle attire, which was mainly woad war paint all along his body. Unlike his father or uncle Einir had grown up holding on deeply to the older ways of thought in Ordivantes. He too considered these markings magic and able to help protect against wounds as well as full plate armor. He had used his wool tartan cloak to wrap around himself providing exceptional warmth in the chilling surroundings. His trousers were a simple brown, matching his mudded boots.

He saw the Bald Mule in the distance, a tavern by the looks of it. Quickly again he perused the contents of the hastily written letter once more before walking down to the meeting place. The snow falling into his blondish brown hair, and the reflection of the sun in the early light blinding his green eyes.

Some hours pass before the heavy door opens to a swirl of snow. Garbed in a simple cloak, a hood drawn up to conceal her face, a woman enters. She stands for a moment, before slipping back out the door.

Curious, Einir heads to the door. Heading out into the snow, he catches a glimpse of the robed woman disappearing into the treeline ahead. He quickly rushes that position with little thought put behind it, his instincts seemed to just kick in. Boldly forward he sprinted over to the treeline after his peculiar quarry.

A trail of footsteps in the fresh fallen snow lead Einir to a clearing, at the far end stands the woman, facing her pursuer. She pulls her hood from her face, revealing herself to be Narien Krestarii. She smiles wide. “Einir.”

In that single moment he was taken back to all those few but happy times he had dealt with her. Manipulative yes but still something to cherish. A whole lifetime of work to be groomed into a High Chief to restore lost honors and gain new power went away. Like when he last met her a simple hello became “your beautiful.”

Narien flushed and managed a laugh, crossing the clearing in a sure stride to embrace Einir. Resting her arms about his shoulders, she pulled him in. “It’s good to see you. Thank you for coming.”

Managing to compose himself as had been beaten into him he coughs a tad to air out any other unintended responses. “You are quite welcome now what is this all about?”

Narien’s smile quickly fades, her bottom lip quivers and her gaze drops to the ground. “I didn’t know where else to turn. My whole world has been turned upside down, Einir.” She begins to tremble and loses her voice.

It was truly a saddening face even Einir a young man who had already seen much death and caused suffering of his own felt moved. He both loved and hated that some unknown force constantly drove him to her. As his walls melted at Narien’s weeping he lifted her chin p gently to lock eyes with her’s and said “please tell me what I can do for you.”

She took a deep breath, her lips steadying. “Take me away. Away from all this. Not to a life of court gossip and intrigue, not to be sworn oaths and given service, but to a place where I can be free.”

“The only place I could offer is Ordivantes, though we too have our own rivalries. They are just cleaner than court intrigue.” He responded giving the honest answer. He would gladly take her away but there was an important question “why not just leave on your own?”

“Trust me when I say it is not that easy. I… I am a prisoner here.”

A skeptical look briefly crossed his face. Then as if the answer was clear he said “then just leave with me now, you seem well out of the way.”

Narien broke down in tears, pulling Einir close. “Thank you, Einir. Thank you, thank you!” She planted a wet kiss on his cheek as she pulled away, stifling a laugh. “There is just one thing I have to do. Can you wait for me, back at the tavern? I’ll be back before next sunrise.”

“Would it not be best to just leave now…”

Narien placed a hand on his cheek, interrupting him, her eyes boring into his. “I have to see this through. Do you trust me, Einir?”

Nowhere near comfortable with this he reluctantly agreed and said, “no but I think the past has shown I’m willing to forgive you. If you don’t come back I’m tracking you down this time that’s a promise.” Then he ended the line by quickly pulling her in for a kiss on the lips.

Narien returned the kiss, gently pulling away. “Keep your sword arm ready. Should you hear the tolling of bells, unsheathe your sword and watch for my coming.” She walked gracefully through the trees, disappearing in the brush.

“Damn that woman and the feelings she rises in me” he muttered to himself while rubbing the back of his head. With nothing better to do he went back to the Bald Mule as requested and took to sharpening his weapons; a wilder straight sword; alma style war axe; and a boot knife. Beyond that he simply waited for the next sunrise.

The time passed slowly, the patrons of the Bald Mule came and went, some approached the Wilder with curiosity and requests of news and songs, but their queries are soon drowned out by their thirst for drink and he is regarded as nothing more than an oddity within the inn.

Finally, as the hours of night waned and the east began to glow with pre-dawn gloom, there was a quiet rasp at the door of the inn. Einir looked at the door’s direction his hand had already moved onto the hilt of his sword, without even noticing at first it was there himself. Casually he pivoted out of his seat and went to a much more strategic part of the tavern floor, getting an itching feeling fun was about to commence.

The knock came again, slightly louder and more insistent. The door opened a crack, and Narien’s head poked through, she waved Einir to come hither. He followed her request and went to the door. She pulled him through. Outside were two saddled horses.

“Come, Einir. We must ride.”

“Ladies first” he said with a smirk. Then jumped onto his horse after she had climbed onto her’s. “Lead the way.”

Narien took a lasting look over her shoulder, at the grim walls of the castle with it’s rising towers. “I owe you an apology, Einir.” She broke her gaze and fixed her eyes upon the wilder’s. “That dagger you gave me, all those years ago… I left it behind. Buried it in my husband’s fucking neck.” She snapped her reins and her steed sped over the horizon.

He sped after her in kind and once in range of easy hearing asked “did you not cut off his head?” After all to the wilder there was no other way to ensure her husband’s angry spirit wouldn’t immediately go after them. The fact that she killed this mysterious husband he had never heard of before wasn’t that important because he came for her not him, and now he has her.

She muttered a response beyond hearing. Faintly behind them a bell could be heard, and when the wind gusted strongly enough from behind them, it seemed the sound of steel followed, and the shouts of dying men. Einir seemed to notice the sounds while Narien didn’t or just simply ignored them “care to humor me about what that cacophony is?”

Narien’s gaze was fixed ahead. “Half-Moon’s death throes.”

Though momentarily taken aback that she had just killed the king of the nords he simply kept the usual cold facade. With an apathetic shrug “good job. Where to next do you still wish to accompany me back home or stop by your old one of the chasm to depart me?”

With a snort, the horse heeded the reins and slowed to a trot. Narien looked back, as if she would espy a column of Nord soldiers marching for blood. Satisfied they escaped pursuit, she turned to Einir, her face as stone. “We ride straight for Ordivantes. We’ll take the Thaanos pass, and cross from the south. I don’t want… I just want to avoid Galadriel.”

Leaning forward some what with his own stony expression gained from his warrior lifestyle. “By all means then” he motioned for them to continue their journey, and he just casually began to trot ahead.
 

iisbroke

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A Wandering Prince



Set 19.5 years into epilogue


A lone figure in dreary well weathered robes entered the hall. The wanderer was in the center of power for the strongest tribe in the north. Dracona seat of the Tudoniis, once mighty warrior vassals, then kings, then weakened and displaced. Yet still have maintained an aged way of life with strict rules of honor and no other civilized laws to go with it.


High Chief Einir sat at the end of the hall on his chieftain’s seat. Very little natural light was coming in at the moment, meaning only the large braziers that flanked him showed his features in a dramatic fashion, with his silver ducal crown shining subtly. Right at the base of his modest looking ducal throne was a map of Ordivantes built into the floor, with all the major and even minor tries under it stretched out before him. He wore a white tunic with red trimming; tartan trousers or a red and green coloration; his arm held a gold torque around the wrist as a bracelet; his father’s old dragon brooch was pinned to his tattered tartan cloak of the same patterning of his trousers. At the sight of Armas he gave a stoic respectful nod “Welcome my guest.”


Armas approached the wilder chieftain; wearing a simple brown cloak, all that could be seen of his tunic was a dark green collar trimmed with gold. His hair was long and unkempt, covering his distinctive elven ears, and he held a staff made of a twisted branch in his right hand. He smiled slightly as he bowed his head to Einir. “Thank you for receiving me Lord Tudonii. Ordivantes is much different than I remember coming to its festivals as a child. I trust you are well?”


“Many things have changed Elf Prince of Galadriel. Tell me now what is it you seek by coming here.” Einir the wilder chief had spoken in an assertive tone. He wasn’t inclined to dislike any of the elves especially the Coamenels but he was groomed to behave in an aggressive and assertive manner in all dealings of state.


"So I see.” Armas leaned against his staff lightly, looking around the hall to take in the sights. “At any rate, I simply seek to formally request the right to travel through your lands. I am...you might say, I am on a pilgrimage of a sort to learn of the different peoples of Agorath. WIth your permission I would spend time among your people, particularly the Alma and Heiber tribes. Then I will move further west, that is all.”


Einir pondered this a moment. “Very well but I warn you we’re a tad more militaristic than usual. Try to gain some sort of protection other than yourself, your lineage will provide little protection.”


“I will consider that Lord Tudonii, but one man on his own tends to attract less attention than a man with a corp of bodyguards, I explained much the same thing to my mother.” The prince shrugged and tapped his staff on the ground twice, a slight smile on his lips. “I do have some tricks up my sleeve though, should there be an emergency.”


Leaning forward in his seat the wilder eyed the prince critically, trying to determine the veracity of his claim. “I’m not about to risk the consequences of the elven heir dying in my lands.” Leaning back he turned his head to one of the guards and said “You Pyrs shall go with him, if he objects ignore it.”


The large white bearded man saluted in the wilder fashion “yes chieftain.” He wore a chainmail hauberk with a morion helmet, on his person was a claymore with a small tomahawk.


Turning back to the prince who did not seem particularly pleased by this. To allay his concerns the chief explained “I empathize with you Armas for if the situation was reversed I would be quite upset with this invasion of my privacy and find it an insult on my indepence. Yet it isn’t meant to be so I simply wish to ensure a potential ally’s heir is safe. If one man can remain unnoticed surely two can as well. Besides he is from Locburgh and has dealt with Heiber and Alma often making an excellent guide.”


Armas bowed to Einir again, clearly uninterested in arguing the point. "Your hospitality is much appreciated my lord, thank you. May you rest assured that I am far from upset and fully understand. If I may impose on your kindness once again, where might a young traveler find points of interest in your lands, aside from the Heiber and Alma? The libraries in Coal were disappointingly quiet on the subject."


He thought a moment then stood and walked onto the map that laid before them. Signaling to the points on it Einir sounded off. “You are of course here in Dracona. I would advise taking this western path toward the Ordivante pass there the Almorii of Vante can easily shelter you. Once done with that head south into the Helvita valley which will allow you to stop by Helvitan. Moving west from there you shall quickly come across the Quellstrii tribe of Helgolan. They are most knowledgeable having spent centuries raiding the Heiber and they the same. After that simply take this northern road and you shall arrive in Heiholm seat of the Heiber confederation ruled by Juhani the Cunning.” With that he looked back up to Armas having now traversed a few meters away.


The elf prince stared at the map for a moment considering everything Einir had said before looking up at the chieftain. "That all sounds like a fine plan Einir, you have my thanks. Perhaps this journey won't be so bad as I had first thought. You never did answer my first question by the way, how do you fare? It has been quite some time."


Looking around the wilder chief finally said “everyone leave now.” The guards left as did the servants and others that happened to be in the relatively empty hall. Once that was done Einir simply walked back to his seat and wearily collapsed into it. “Tired old friend.”


Armas nodded sagely. “I cannot imagine that it’s easy, on the border of the west, so many tribes looking to you for leadership. You know that should you need something my mother would gladly aid you in whatever way she can.”


The chieftain smirked and stifled a light laugh. “That’s the problem, the east, well one of them. Did you hear about the coup to wipe me and my close relatives out because of our subservience to Ecclestius?” Staring casually at the stunned prince who had yet to respond to this revelation he continued on. “You see many do not consider us a part of the east, especially with the integration of many upheaved western tribes. Indeed a lot think we’re independent so they call me the Grand Chief which is a king, even though I am a legally a duke. Not to say I don’t agree but open revolt is a complicated matter.” He ended leaning further back into his seat. He often thinks that the only reason others did not try to revolt after the failed coup was in part due to his rather harsh, even by wilder standards, punishment to those caught.



Armas shook his head, clearly surprised. "I hadn't heard anything about that Einir, no. Clearly you are in a tougher spot than I realized." He leaned more heavily on his staff. “Azeratii and your tribes with you stuck in the middle...You are more independent than most of the dukes of Ecclestius though, correct? So far from Ares’ influence I mean.”


“Indeed I am solely because of the intense geographical distance I’m sure. That would most likely be the biggest advantage in a war against them. Well that and their general arrogance.” He sat up a bit. “With them as a constant threat and the increasing amount of squalor amongst the tribes something will be giving soon.” Einir chuckled to himself “I guess it is no surprise my whole life has been me being trained to fight.”


"Not to mention that Imperial armies would never be allowed to march through Galadriel to reach you. At the very least that'd buy you time" Armas smirked. "Whatever happens I’m sure the great Tudonii will emerge the victor. If you ask my mother you would think that your family will conquer the entire western half of the continent.”


This made Einir smile which was uncharacteristic for him these days, but to Armas who had known him before it seemed very normal. “I had no idea the elf Queen valued us so highly perhaps I should visit her for business or simply to casually get to know her then. I’ll try and keep the talk of war to a minimum usually puts non wilders off.”


Armas nodded as he began to wonder around the hall, observing the tapestries the walls and carvings on the pillars and rafters. “Oh yes, ever since she got that book from Lord Owain during the Hroniden campaign. The number of times she’s told me about that...Well, anyway, yes, talk of war is not my mother’s favorite subject, but no doubt she’d love seeing you again.”


“Then I shall see to making preparations to visit my neighboring ruler. Ah one more thing it is well known how much you elves generally wish to regain the haunted forest as another forest of light. Do be careful if you give in to that habit, the Almas may be able to guide and protect you but their trading of raids and strikes at the orcs of the northern peninsula are frequent. Don’t get caught in the crossfire.” Seemingly more content then at the beginning of the conversation he said. “Enough of me though what of the grand Armas and his scholarly exploits?”


Humbly the elf nodded. “Thank you for the warning, I’ll be sure to let my uncle know. Honestly, I can’t even say if he even still desires the haunted forests, it’s been so long.” He motioned to his disheveled robes and wild hair with the staff and laughed. “I don’t seem to be much of a scholar anymore these days do I? Nearly three years ago my mother sent me to learn about the rest of Agorath, Ordivantes and some lands in the West are the final legs of my journey. It has been an exciting adventure though, do you know how many pirates there are in the southern islands? One wonders how they haven’t all wiped each other out already.” He fished into the pack resting on his hip and pulled out a worn journal. “I’ve been sure to keep a record of my journeys though, perhaps I’ll send you a copy one day, once I’ve had time to edit of course.”


“Much like how my late father gifted your mother a book of us?” Einir seemed kindly humored, yet intrigued nonetheless. “Indeed I would appreciate that. Don’t worry about your appearance too much by the way. I’m not much of what I was meant to be either. I mean my uncle wanted me to be like Egbryht the Wise, I look like Osmer the Unready, and act like Medwin the Brave.” He ended laughing as though Armas would get any of those references.


Armas politely laughed as well. “As you say my lord, as you say. I am sure you do your uncle proud at any rate.” He bowed to the chieftain again. “If you’ll excuse me your grace, it was good to see you again, but I must be on my way if I hope to be able to return to Coal by Sun’s Shadow.”


“Don’t forget your bodyguard on the way out Armas.” Einir stood up from his seat and gave salute to the elf prince. “Safe travels, may you honor the ancestors and may they watch over you.”
 

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The harbour of Coamenel was typically busy with ships coming and going. The demand in Coamenel, and indeed all of Galadriel was great for all sorts of goods. Even twenty years after the war, the Dark Scourge had left it’s mark. Iron, tools and other crafts from all over Agorath found there way to Coamenel these days, bound to be loaded in carriages and taken all over the Elven kingdom.


This day was busy in particular as a the merchant fleet of Ethelas Haewon, sailing from Ghullkazid, had just anchored in the harbour, and Ethelas himself stood along the piers, overseeing his precious cargo being unloaded from his ships. He wore a cloak of midnight blue, his hair burning with a golden tinge under the high noon sun. His face, with sharp features and pale skin looked on shrewdly as the crates were carefully stacked before him.

Maharan walked down towards to pier, taking in the scent of salt as the sea spat its tears onto the walkway, which he found himself trudging along, with his eyes firmly on the man who stood next to a small fleet of merchant boats. As he walked along he felt the headpiece that marked his position as master of Halam’Shiral weigh down heavily on him, even though he had been master for 19 years now he still had not grown used to it. To him Coal, was a strange and fascinating place unlike his home in every way, an area of urban sprawl amongst the trees, he had only been here once before, when the Emerald Knights had aided the defence of the city. Snapping back to reality he heard and saw people pointing at the two tattoos that marked his face, ignoring them he stepped up to the merchant and tapped him on the shoulder.

Ethelas turned gracefully to face Maharan. The merchant elf smiled and bowed, seeming to recognise the headdress. “I am graced with the Master of Halam'shiral. To what do I owe this honour, benevolent Master?”

Maharon shot him a look, that Ethelas would remember for the rest of his days,“I’m wondering, my friend” the words flowed over Ethelas, and he got a sense of the elf’s age and wisdom, he also could make a hint of a threat as if Maharon was a snake poised to strike at any moment,“If you would happen to have any knowledge about this?” a piece of paper was slid over to Ethelas, bearing an image of a bow, a bow that the Merchant knew very well.

The merchant took the parchment gingerly in his hands, inspecting it closely. “Ah, you seek the Bow of Andarial.” The Elf met Maharon’s steady gaze. “I may have what you seek, honourable Master. Far and wide my ships and I have ventured, and such goods, I fear, do not come cheap. Even for one that holds such a station as yourself.”


“They say a merchants goods never come cheap, even if its just ashes” Maharon laughed, in a coarse fashion, it was pretty apparent he was finding nothing funny about this exchange, “name your price”

“Careful, wise Master,” said Ethelas in an icy tone. “You are not in Halam’shiral.” He hands the parchment back to Maharon. “A piece such as this, very significant to many buyers. I could not part for no less then one thousand gold pieces.

“My friend, relax i would not be here if i was not interested” Maharan smiled, it seemed that his mood could change as quick as a hummingbird’s wing could flap. “Rather I would not want to see a war hero such as yourself, ripped off, but lets say between you and me if this bow was to be waylaid and a fund of 500 coins given as a generous donation for your military service, then no buyers would have to be disappointed”

The merchant clenched his jaw. “I do not doubt your interest, though I do your sense. An Elf is only as good as his word, and I will not give heed to shady dealings, nor do I seek compensation for serving my kin and kind. Eight hundred pieces and the bow is yours, if it will mean I will be free of your presence.”

“It seems you and me may have gotten off on the wrong foot, as you know my people hold these artifacts in high regard, i was hoping to acquire this for my son, he is a fine archer and will be facing his Apprenticeship next year, i was hoping to give this to him to show how proud of him I am” Maharon looked at the merchant before something caught the glimpse of his eyes, “It appears we may not want to be having this conversation outside, since i have approached you it seems those 3 men over there, (Maharon gestures towards his left), and that dwarf behind us appears to be signalling that sword-eater dancing of to our right”

Ethelas grunted in disdain. “Spared from the infinite shadow and still there are those who would squander their mortal years with such dishonour. I have retired my sword, Master Maharon. How would you deal with these brigands?”

“A message, if i was too buy the bow now and leave chances are they would simply mug you and come after me, and i would not like that to happen when we have only just begun our talks,” Maharon Replies, keeping calm giving of no signs, that he is aware of the onlookers

“A message.” Ethelas nods in agreement, motioning sellswords from his barge out onto the pier. Five of the merchant’s men take positions nearby, dissuading the greedy onlookers. “Why shed blood when intimidation will do.” He gives the master a hard look. “This bow belongs in a temple rather than an heirloom. Because I seek favour within your lands, I will part with the bow for six hundred. That is my final offer, Master Maharon.”

“I believe I can find that arrangement acceptable, my friend” glancing over his shoulder Maharon looked back at the merchant, “I would express disappointment i can’t say but I would like to leave before those unsavouries come back” he steps forward and shakes the Merchants hand. Ethelas shakes his hand firmly before returning to his wares, eager to be free of the master.

Maharon walks of with the bow, soon entering the forest, Ethelas see’s two of the earlier brigands walk of after him, Before he can do anything, he hears the sounds of fighting and what sounded like the cry of a wolf and the shriek of a falcon, neither of the 2 came back out.

 

iisbroke

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Lessons in Diplomacy
Set 16 years into epilogue


Anwën was leaning back against the cushions, her lustrous white dress with its gilded seams flowing down towards the luxurious carpet. The amber sun of dusk was drowning the room, and set its marbled floors near set ablaze. For some reason she had immediately grasped Einir’s arm upon seeing him and dragged him into her room. Now he stood across her wondering what this was all about.


“The forests are even greater! The creeks that flow down from the mountains in the west all ebb towards the sea or the Rhill. And you should have seen the different horses they breed! In every colour, in every form, and in every shape… No unicorns, however. I looked hard and I looked everywhere, but nowhere to be seen. A shame really. I wonder, if you glue a stick to a mare’s head, can you call it a unicorn or does it become magical? There is probably a spell in the library’s many books for that. I don’t think it would work very well. Oh, how would my pride if such a thing worked swell.” She tapped her chin thoughtfully, playing with a lock of her hair in her right hand, studying the roof intently. “Perhaps this world isn’t ready for such a thing.” Anwën lowered her gaze and looked at Einir with a curious gaze. “You don’t speak much, do you?”


Einir smirked“Not particularly no. Besides you seemed like you were on track to some great revelation.” My is she long winded, he thought to himself.


Anwën pouted, and raised an accusing finger towards him.“You’re still ashamed by your measly defeat that day many years ago. I heard how the wildlings harbour ill will for generations. Do not fret, young man, for I am a tolerant princess. One who will respect your grudge, and wear it heavily within my chest.” She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “But you will never hear me apologise. It was a victory well deserved.”


Confused for a moment Einir remembered finally that little bout from forever ago in Saxon. “What are you talking… Oh yeah. Forgot all about that but sure I’ll hold the grudge.” He leaned against the wall. “So any particular reason you drug me here my princess? Not that I mind not having to sit in on another meeting of dukes with my uncle.” By the ancestors that is always a bore.


“For what reason do I have not? You came to Azeratii for diplomatic recourse I assume.” She smacked her lips. “And yet, you don’t even have the courtesy to sit? Is my company that appalling, dear warrior? Or is there anything ailing you?”


Lifting himself from the wall Einir walked over and took a seat opposite the princess. “I would not say your company is appalling. I will say I would have preferred you sister though,” he said teasingly. “Now tell me what great treaties shall we write today?”


Anwën, feigning shock, grasped for air as she dramatically reached for a cup of wine.

“I am sure your words are sharpened as well as your sword, for they have left me wounded and my heart a bleeding sieve.” She chuckled and poured a cup for Einir too. “Treaty, distraction, fairy tales or grand tales of old… Speak of whatever you wish. I am only glad to see an old acquaintance in these dull, vast halls.” So she was just bored, well it isn’t a bad excuse to catch up.


Gulping down the dry aromatic wine he decided to play along with her strange speech. “Well I must say it is you now that wounds me. For you see” he paused to think of the next few lines. “Though we had never spoken much I had felt our relationship had…. sprouted like a weed? Yes a weed fastly growing, yet you say we a merely acquaintances.” Einir then displayed a melancholic look on his face.


She swirled the contents of her cup, and stretched her head, most regally. “For such honours, you’d have to earn. Compliments, roses, maybe even a secret meal.” Though her playful mood came down to one of worry soon. “Problems at court? I hope not too heavy on your mind?” Nothing in particular which is the problem usually the hall is flooded with bickering chieftains or their representatives.


This cause his mood to become rather dour. “Thankfully my problems are still somewhat filtered. When I am high chief then yes I will have problems at….” His response is cut off as new people suddenly entered the scene.


Just then, the elaborate doors burst open! A curvy, voluptuous woman steps forth through the doorway, her long blonde hair wagging slightly. She wore light plate, with nordic influences in thick fur, red lipstick gleaming on her lips as she walked sassily in front of her husband. “Now, I want the decorations on the left, to be flowers and banners..” She blinks, seeing as how she just walked in on them. “Oh dear.. Hello.” she smiled softly “Wilhelm, you did not tell me anyone was in this room!” she reared on him. Anwën darted up from the sofa, clearly shocked by the sudden intrusion.


Wilhelm walked up slowly, “This is Anwën’s quarters…. Can we just go back to our room?”


Kalevera frowned, and wagged her finger at him. “I was giving you an description of what I would have done! Apologize to the couple!” This is the great marshal of our realm? He is more depressing than I remember.


Taking another gulp of the princess’ wine Einir looked up and said “Greetings uncle been a while. Who is this?” She seems familiar but I can’t place a name.


“U-Uncle Wilhelm?” Anwën stuttered. “What are you doing in the royal wing?”


“I’m sorry, we’ll vacate the premises later.” Wilhelm sighs.


She knitted her brow and looked at him “Oh please, it is not as if we were interrupting anything of great importance.” I suppose not though the princess would disagree. She looked at Anwën and bowed “Princess, please excuse us.” The nord woman smiled and then looked to Einir. “Oh you don’t remember me, Einir?” She giggled “I’m Wilhelm’s wife.”


“My apologies you must be Kalevera then.” He stood to salute slightly embarrassed that he forgot who she was, even though they only met once before. “I hope you have been well duchess.”


Anwën stood, and gave a polite courtesy, yet her face still not recovered from the brash intrusion. “With all the dearest and humblest of welcomes I offer you both. Yet, still it does not explain your presence here? Me and his lordship were trading diplomatic amusements.”


She grasped the girls hands and shook her own head, “Oh I’m sorry my dear, I was mindlessly walking as I’m oft as not to do. Wandering and all!” she laughed “Wilhelm was on another one of his tangents! You know him.” she winked. Anwën’s shocked expression only intensified, as she forced forward the most painful smile imaginable in a hopeless attempt to keep up appearances.


“He is hopeless, I am sure.” She spoke between her teeth. “Apology accepted.” Einir simply patted his uncle on the back while shaking his head in an amused chuckle. I do not envy you uncle.


She folded her arms behind her back “So, what is this I hear of diplomatic tradings?” she tilted her head, smiling warmly at the two, quite the motherly figure.. If not unaware of her brashness.


“Well…” Anwën started, gracefully aiming her hand towards Einir. “His lordship have travelled from Ordivantis on his uncle’s accord to treat with the crown. An event of friendship, kinship and recognition of the amicable relations between our two families. Nothing in particular, nothing exceptional, but all the more warming and pleasant instead, I am sure.”


“Me and Wilhelm were actually talking of something similar!” she giggled “I was thinking of inviting my sister and Half-moon to a peace accord, to settle their little dispute.. It just pains my heart to see such wasteful fighting, especially of my own people.”


“It saddens us all.” Anwën nodded, contentedly. “Even the crown prince staying here, heavy from such grief he is.” Kalevera’s smirk persisted, but turned more curious, raising her chin slightly. “Ah, so he is here? Wonderful, I had hoped to catch him while he was still in the palace, and not in the city dawdling as some men like to do.” she shot Wilhelm a glare.


“Truly, I think we should meet with him soon.” Wilhelm smiled.


Varian walked past the guards outside and entered the room, as always he was well dressed with expensive clothes, rings and so forth. As he walked forward he took off his coat and threw it on the couch next to Anwén, paying little attention to the others as he walked past. “We need to speak, sister” Before continuing and going over to the window and looking out over the small garden below. “Duke Wilhelm, I know your stance on the issue and I respect, all the same I ask you and your wife to leave the room.” Anwen shrugged her shoulders, and muttered quirk quietly under her breath.


"My quarters. Who need privacy? Knocking was always overrated anyhow." She sighed next to Einir, who just crossed his arms curious about the whole affair. For private quarters this is a rather public place.


Kalevera lifted her eyebrow for a moment, but just giggled and held Wilhelm’s arm with her own. “Oh what a serious boy he is. Come my little duke, let us explore more of the Castle!”


“Alright let us go. My Prince, my Princess.” Wilhelm bowed his head and lead Kalevera out.
[hr][/hr]
Varian rubbed his forehead as he looked ahead. “As you may or may not know then a proposal has been put before His Majesty, involving our sister and her future. As such I have been in support of one course of action and the King another, I need your help to influence him.” Anwën raised an eyebrow in confusion, returning to sit down in the couch.


"He didn't approve of the union, I take it?" She said with a serious tone, returning to sip at her wine cautiously.


“Apologies my prince but could you elaborate.” Einir stated rather perplexed by all of this. One moment he was silently laughing at his whipped uncle. Then Varian stormed in to discuss some mysterious union.


“Yes your lordship, I want you here to hear your opinion.” Varian said before he moved his head slightly to the side looking at him. “Not too long ago the Crown Prince of Norseland asked the king’s blessing to marry Princess Narien, securing a union between our people. Now I am in favour of the union, it can bring stability to the Norseland, it can secure them within our influence and we begin to shape the future of that northern waste. Furthermore than our sister also seems warmly towards it. His Majesty is against it.” Pardon!


Shocked the wilder took a large gulp of wine straight from the bottle before wiping it off his face with his arm. Then he throws said bottle against the wall behind him. “What the fuck! Of course I’m opposed to it for obvious reasons, but from a pragmatic stand point we should just let the damn nords kill each other. After all it saves us the trouble because a united nordlands is nothing but trouble my prince.” Honestly I have no idea why I felt like responding this way but I might as well go with it. Anwën’s eyes shot up in another shocked expression, squealing at the bottle’s impact.


“What in all of creation are you doing?! Do I have to remind you still that this is my room? I sleep in here, you hear? Not staining carpets or step over shards of glass. That isn’t, I can assure you, any favourite pastime of mine.”


Controlling his rage he looked to the princess. “My apologies.” Back to Varian he replies “I’ll just leave then for good.”


Varian looked at Einir surprised. “Still? after all this time.” Varian looks back out over the gardens. “I didn't realise.” Varian shook his head. “Do not worry sister, it will have been cleaned before you go to bed.” Anwën rolled her eyes, and leaned her head against her hand, studying them both with ill hidden distain.


“He needn’t any convincing, brother. She’s part of her mother in her too, you know. A Deep Elf marry for love, court aims or affairs disregarded. They even say it would upset the Light and Dark should it be any other way.” She glowered over to Einir. “You hide it terribly, should you had rather taken his place. For what good does it do to succumb to cathartic rage?”


“All the good in the world princess. Now as I’m sure you don’t mind I’ll be leaving. Have fun easterners.” Einir spoke coldly then walked briskly to leave the room.


“Sit down Einir, considering it education. If this news broke to you in the middle of your court, in front of your vassals, possible enemies. If you cannot control your anger, you cannot control them and they will see it” He said as offered him a small smile before looking back out over the garden.


Logic managing to take hold Einir decides to stop and do an about face. “I shall endeavor to humor you then.” At which he just stand there eyeing both of them his anger somewhat subsided but still plain on his face. Anwën tapped the couch intently, her frown melting back to its state of concern and warm empathy.


“Please, my Lord. Sit.”


He just stands cross armed in front of them. “I will not be doing that as of yet my fair princess.” He ended with a bow of his head in an attempt to remain polite. She sighed, looking over to her brother, her tone yet gentle, but a whole lot more firm.


“I don’t understand why you’d be so upset about this, brother. It’s not your life to be, and you can’t expect father to always ask for your opinion. Did you speak with him, or did you rile as you would here when you arrived?”


“It was discussed in council, and as for listening to me, perhaps he should as I have been fulfilling his duties for the last year while he has been spending time with mother and you. As for it being my life, no perhaps it isnt my marriage but it will still dictate the future of the realm, a realm which I will rule and currently am ruling as well. It is yet another chance of securing the peace and continued influence of the crown, which he is throwing away simply due to his hatred of Nords.” He looked at Anwën quickly before going over to the side and taking a goblet with wine.


Sighing Einir responded with “what makes you so certain that this will help your kingdom? I mean the nords are more battle happy than my ilk. What makes you so sure this half-moon won’t be assassinated or more likely end up in a new civil war. One where your kingdom would then be brought into thus wasting your own resources on a relatively useless bit of land.”


“And mind what the Elves would think, that you’d so easily strike an alliance with the Nords? Their former enemies, in almost all their history? It could be seen as a step towards unity, reconciliation to be sure. Or, it could be seen as the greatest slight.” Anwën sipped at her wine, studying Einir once more. “And his lordship is not speaking all that untrue. But what should matter the most is that it’s her choice in the end, not father’s or yours.”


“Which is all the more reasons that it is important.” He looked at them both. “Half-Moon we can work with, we have been doing since the third year of this age. Tell me what did we have before that, we had civil war, border incursions and small raids. Then we had Ulfrik and Ainniki, I read about them both, Ulfrik was half a beast, Ainniki caused great harm to the light, she almost killed your father.” Varian says as he looks towards Einir. “Before that there was Kalare, he burned, killed, enslaved and raped Elves. This Half-Moon is the first king that has shown any kind of stability in the North, not to mention we are able to actually work with him.” Varian turned back and looked out of the window. “Narien is what, 15, she isn't of proper age for another year. Why does he ask for her hand now. I found the two of them together earlier, two years ago I think, and I fear their relations might have caused certain complications which has forced Half-Moon to act.” Anwën’s face flushed, and her ears came bright red.


“Nothing came out from it. You can trust my word in that. And perhaps you shouldn’t so blatantly walk around speaking of her most private affairs. She’s your sister still… Not some pawn to assert control.”


“I am in private with you and his lordship, we are not in public. As for her still being my sister, yes she is but she is also a princess of Ecclestius, we are not just any family from any place. Do you honestly think that we truly have the final say in any whom we marry?” Varian shook his head. “Still, this marriage could be very beneficial to all in the region.” Anwën darted up from the couch, her face now fully turned to crimson in its stark contrast to her ivory white hair.


“Yes we do! I choose who I’ll marry, and so will she! Don’t you even dare to try assume it is any other way!” She looked over at Einir, her eyes wreathed with a glowing hot ember. “Or are you of his opinion?”


Unperturbed by her glare he states. “Of Course I’m not of his opinion I think people should marry who they love.” The he lowered his head in a sigh. “Sadly marriage amongst nobles has always been different. Nothing but a business deal, even I will have to marry for security or power some day. As much as I detest it.” Anwën snorted, crossing her arms and turned away her head, as if the very sight of them was upsetting her.


“Well then sister, help me convince father to let them marry, Narien likes him, loves him perhaps, she certainly seem to welcome the union. If not then it will be declined due to politics, and she will be forced to marry some other noble to secure an alliance.” Varian said while taking a slurp of the wine.


“Forgive me, brother. For a moment there I thought you were asking your potential bargain chip to do you a service?” Her venomous words spoken beneath her teeth.


Varian looked over at her, not caring about her spite. “I was asking my sister to do me a service, to help do our sister a service to let her marry a man whom she seems to like. That it happens to align with my politics is another matter. And no, you are not a simple bargaining chip, you are the future Therain of the Green Chasm, you will rule different people who have different customs and as such different concerns prevail there.” He said before looking back out the window. Anwën made a shallow grin.


“Don’t forget second in line to the kingdom, dear brother.” She rose from the couch and headed towards her bedroom, but not before turning around and raising a finger. “And your blood and family. Your sister.” Apparently hurt, she left the two men to ponder in her room.


Varian shook his head. “She should be more careful with mentioning that, she has more freedom to pick a husband, it would be a shame to lose it.” Varian turned around to Einir. “Now your Grace, if you will excuse me, I have to go speak to my betrotheds uncle to secure the final details.” Varian said before he left the room. By the ancestors…. Einir considered to himself.
 
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Gorganslayer

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In the Capital city of Galadriel, Coal, life is booming. It has been twenty years since the victory at the Golden City, and everywhere around people are rejoicing as the rebuilding process is mostly done in the developed parts of the world. The Royal Guards patrolled and watched few key points in the city, one of them being Dragonfen Keep, an old tower that stood in the middle of the city and was somewhat out of place in the market district. An rather choice individual, Aeron Turyalon, stood watch, guardsmen were usually the first citizens turned to.. To get directions, tips, or advice and history about the city. This specific Company Captain seemed to be younger then his soldiers, and his elaborate armor dignified his status. He walked around one Bazaar, inspecting some fruits here and there.


Eloen, stared at the market district around her, breathing in the sights and sounds of the many bazaar's and stall, that lay before her, a slight breeze was whistling through the air, while the faint scent of cinamen tickled her nostrils. She had no idea how she had found herself in the market, Eloen guessed it was probably to do with the overwhelming size of the city, nothing of its scale could be found in Halam'shiral and she found her intended destination; the palace had been waylaid by several wrong turns, she frowned as her green eyes scanned the crowd until they came to rest on a young elf in the armour, she recognised as that of the royal guards, "he must know the way" she mused to herself, then with the stride of a person who has one job and one job only she approached the guard and said, "hello"

He turned to her with a faint expression of slight curiosity, and of his usual playful demeanor. He strutted so his body was to hers, and placed his hands on his hips "And why a hello to you, my friend." he bowed, and then raised his head "And what do you require of me, that you must speak out of term to a Guard of Her Highness?"

"I say do you have no respect for the daughter of Master Lavellan of Halam'Shiral? Eloen snapped back, "i was on may way to the palace to meet with her majesty," her voice dropped hinting a tone of failure, "but i appear to have lost my way" she concluded

He snickered "Excuse me, your majesty.. I had no idea." he smiled with bemusement. "Well, do you wish a hand there, or are you capable with spoke directions? I suppose I could fetch a map, if you require... But times are hard, and I would have to charge you for it, less you return it."

A young Elven male with shoulder-long white hair approached the two and rolled his eyes at Eloen. "Come off it Captain, charging a noblewoman for directions? If you need some coin you could surely earn it in a better way."

Aeron turned his head "Oh, do all nobles travel in packs?" he laughed and looked at Cacame "it has been some time, Cacame. I doubt you would know of the hardships in the lower city, sitting in the Palace and all."

"i see you have met," Eloen observed with a slight twinkle in her voice.

"My mother and I and just here in Coal for a visit, Elron." Cacame smiled back. "As for the hardships, yes, it must be terrible down here if even the guards need to scrounge for coins." Looking at Eloen Cacame smiled warmly. "Yes, me and Aeron have known each other for some time now. I am Cacame Mindrilla, son of Evhana Coamenal, nee Mindrilla. I don't believe I've had the pleasure...?"

Extending her hand out towards Cacame, she warmly answered the new arrival " I would be Eloen of Clan Lavallen, my father is Maharon Lavallen, Master of Halam'Shiral, and i must admit I had no idea the size of this place, my father would tell me of the battles he fought here as an emerald knight during the wars, but as you can guess they didn’t focus on the city to much, she finished with a small laugh.”

He looks at the nails on his hand "It seems all you and your mother do is visit the city... But, where are my manners? I suppose the lady needs an escort, and an man in armor is much more suitable then.." he looks him up and down, smiling "Well." Aeron was indeed a good option for an escort, being known as one of the finest swordsman in the kingdom, or so the tales say.

Cacame clasped her hand warmly, and nodded thoughtfully at her wods. "I have heard a lot about the Emerald Knights, and your father as well. They served admirably during the War, sticking to their strengths." Looking at Aeron he gave the older Elf an impudent grin. "And she would also need someone who is actually a known nobleman to show her about." Looking back at Eleon he gestured up the road. "If it is okay with you I would like to tag along with you and Aeron here."

"You would be most welcome indeed" Eloen replied with a hint of excitement in her voice.

"Well that sounds like we have a plan then! Are you ready to move out, Captain?"

Aeron huffed "I'll have you know that many know of my exploits! The Chasm was my home to, you know." he started a brisk pace "I am always ready."

Cacame laughed as he kept pace with Aeron. "Someone needs to have their exploits known. The best heroics I am known for is accidently cutting my hand when I picked up a blade for the first time. I've never gotten much better than that unfortunately." Cacame looked over at Eleon happily. "So you say your father is an Emerald Knight? Is it a family tradition?"

"no, although in every generation at least one of the family has always been accepted" she spoke deep in thought as though recalling a dream of a long lost age, "they are the elite of our ranks, at some point all kids want to be one, they are tasked with the most dangerous challenges, we find, the order lost about half it's members in the war, perhaps you know of them from the wolf companions they have?" she said, looking back eagerly at him

Cacame looked surprised. "I had always thought that was a myth, something to add to their prestige. Do they really have wolves as companions?"

He crossed his arms "Pity, you know, I taught Anwen some tricks, if you wish, you could at least learn to defend yourself." He sniffed, "Ah.. I remember now! You are the heretics, yes?" he turned, walking backwards, to face them.

"aie, that they do, one may not finish the final trials until the do it" her eyes sparkled with a radiant energy, "they say the day it is done a bond is forged that lasts forever, some knights have known to go into depression at the lost of their wolf, many where lost and lay in mass graves around here" she waves her hand out to the forest around Coal, at home they are buried as if they are an elf, here they lie as beasts, it is undeserving of their sacrifice" she said melancholically.

she looked at Aeron her eyes aflame from a storm within, "what did you say about my people?"

Aeron's eyes sparkled "My father would tell stories about the cultists that lived across the river… I never thought I would see one in the flesh."

"Are you seriously saying my people are the same as those who followed the madman birch?" she sighs exasperatedly, "some people" she mutters under her breath

"Stop being rude Aeron." Cacame said disapprovingly. Glancing back at Eloen he gave her another bright smile. "You'll have to forgive my friend, he's good with a blade but not with his brain."

"Well it's good to know he has one at least", she replies with a smirk.

Aeron flipped his hair "You'll have to forgive me, yes, but while your people may be a part of the Kingdom of the Elves, that does not make you one." He glared at her "While some may be content at keeping their mouths shut, others are not." he started to walk at a brisk pace now, turning his back upon them "I shall save all judgements before the queen.."
"Aeron!" Cacame said with a shocked tone. "What is wrong with you? Do you think Nienna cares about their different beliefs?"

With a quick speed that even she was surprised at, Eloena stepped forward and slapped Aeron, hard enough to leave a welt, and a loud ring sailing of over the city.

Her speed was impressive, but a hand met hers, his palm guarding his cheek, as her own slapped against it. After she was done, and the blow was blocked, his sleeked it back "Ow.." he shaked it off "You know, it is quite dangerous to attempt an attack on a royal guard.." he rolled his eyes "but you are warned, this time."

"That's enough Aeron!”

Aeron sighed "Cacame, I do not know why this kingdom is so forgiving, when we should be rebuilding our unity."

"and one should not insult a Master's daughter,"… "are you saying because my people have slightly different culture to your own they are not elves? never have I seen such rudeness! by that means those of the green chasm are not elves, or the tribes,"

"We should rebuild our unity by letting petty matters such as faith divide us?!" Cacame sounded angry. "You are to guard Aeron, that is it. If you are going to insult those you are sworn to protect I am sure I can convince Nienna to put you in charge of the sewers!"

He ground his teeth "I will not lay a hand upon her, but just because I am sworn to protect does not mean I am sworn to like it! I have a free will, and faith are important to some. Less the Darkness bind us." he shot him a glare "Or would you rather be consumed in confusion, and lose your ways? I will not have this discussion here, however, in open ears. Now we must hurry, you have already left yourselves open to pickpockets by exposing your heritage."

"Yes, let us get to the palace. After that you can go back to your rounds, Captain."

"Whatever you think best Mindrilla, lead on.” she says with a laugh

Cacame returns Eleon's smile and takes her hand, happily chatting about life in Coal. It didn't take long for the three to reach the palace, at which Aeron left quickly and Cacame excused himself before hurrying off back down towards the markets.
 

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The baggage train wheeled its way through the green glades, as it strode purposefully towards the southern City of Halam’shiral. Inside sat the ladies Eylinn and Evhana Mindrilla, while riding alongside them, astride a pure white horse sat Solas, although only 14, the young elf was already extremely strong, and a skilled fighter, yet today he had more important duties than sparring with a wooden stick. Up ahead stood his home, turning towards the caravan train he guided his horse closer, before leaning in to speak with the 2 Mindrillas, “Ladies, may i present the city of Halam’shiral, seat of my father Master Maharon and central hub of the Elvenhiem as we call ourselves." Turning back to himself they all looked out at the city. It was a masterpiece of architecture, with stone, wood and fabric all blending in with the forest around in such a manner as if there was no defined difference between the two.


Evhana took a careful bite at her dried boar, and looked over the horizon with a careful chew. Eylinn, who had been half asleep, stretched her back and dressed with a wide and warm smile.
"To think there'd be a whole land growing within these thick forests of such splendour, and so sublime. I thank for this opportunity, milord." Evhana looked upon her sister and stowed away her meal, taking to mirror her grimace.
"One would almost think they'd have nothing to hide. Tell me, where do you fetch your water? And where did you find all this... Stone, this mason, where roads are barely anywhere to be found?"
Solas smiled, “Ah, you are too kind my Lady Eylinn, I am no lord, but it has been my dear fathers pleasure to invite distinguished guests such as yourselves,” he nods towards the two sisters, “As for you lady Evhana i see you quick wits about you and a keen mind, my brother i believe would very much like to meet you, but, we get our water in the same way a tree gets his, we bring it up from beneath the soil, the lands are very rich in that regard, as for stone? Well I can not answer that exactly, but we do have several mines that do supply us, anyway if you would wish to disembark I shall lead you to my father”


"Splendid." Evhana mutters, curtly, while Eylinn give her a stern gaze and sigh.
"I think what my sister hints is that we'd enjoy a bath after such a long journey. It is Deep Elven custom to clean at least four times per day. We're ill fit for journeys we are." She chuckled, while with little grace stepped out of the carriage, adjusting the dress and its folds beneath her slim waist. "It can of course wait."
"I am sure it can." Evhana adds, as she keep to align her hair while following her sister outside.

Solas, moved forward to help the ladies out of the carriage then thought the better of it and gave them space, “If it would please your ladyships to do so, then I would be happy to oblige, however I admit I must train later this afternoon so it will probably be my Brother Abelas or Sister Eloin who greets you, however i can lead you to your accommodation” Solas recited in a well-versed fashion, before bowing deeply and preparing to move on. The women curtsied in unison, and followed his lead.

They all slowly made their way towards the main hall, which stood cut into the base of a small mountain, with two towers spiraling into it’s rocky faces, Solas turned to them, “this is the main hall where our council meets, the left tower is for the Master and the Right is where you’ll be staying,” continuing on Solas lead them into one of the right tower’s rooms, again altering his stance to face the two guests, “ I hope you find these rooms satisfactory” before them lay the room, or should they say 3 rooms, one was split into a bedroom with a lavish bed and a fireplace cut into the mountain to form a little alcove, while the floor was tinted with marble, expensive drapes hung around the room like confetti, the second was equally lavish with a large couch facing a series of stained glass windows which looked out over the city and beyond to the forest, they even saw they could see the plains of Ecclestius it even included a chess table, The 3rd room, contained a bath, which solas explained could be warmed by heating the rocks around the room to create a sauna as well, he stood by the door after the brief tour awaiting further instructions

Eylinn stood with the young Elf by the door, while her sister sported a grin while looking out over the the room with the bath.
“How many years has it been since we shared our ablution, sister? The memories of war cloud them from my sight.” Eylinn rolled her eyes, while her cheeks faintly coloured red.
“Please, Evhana, it’s enough. Don’t torment the boy for every opening you shall find. Solas, was it fourteen springs, or fourteen autumns you had incurred?” Solas suddenly felt very flushed.
“Um I ahhh….. 14 springs,” he finally managed to stammer out, “but um you do realise that you two have separate rooms? unless you want to share…. he regretted it as soon as he said it. So he quickly looked at his feet, clearly feeling very uncomfortable. Eylinn, however, only chuckled and offered him a comforting smile while she placed a hand on his arm reassuringly.

“Would you join us for further talks, or are you in a hurry to leave for training, milord? There are still questions to be made, and wonders of our mind to settle.” Evhana, smiling equally pleasant towards Solas, nodded.
“I am sure the boy would not mind to entertain his father’s guests for a little while longer?”
“I expect that certain circumstance could allow it this time, it is not every day that one of the heroes of the dark wars visits” Solas had clearly found his rhythm again. Eylinn’s smile dissipated and her face flushed. She waved for him to join them by the couch, where Evhana had already taken the liberty to seat, dutily combing the ends of her hair.
“It is part of why we are here. It is unfortunate not much correspondence between our realms was kept during the war, or even that of before. The forests are thick, a maze at the best of times. But the wonders of your city, and the very few arms sent, still lead a lot of questions to be had of the nature of the Halam’shiral Elves.” Evhana shifted in her seat, and picked off a piece of meat behind her teeth with her tongue.
“We don’t expect you to know the answer to these questions, dear boy. That is the questions for your father. But it doesn’t hurt to know what your people think of ours, heard from the mouth of an innocent, and not one trained with the silver tongue of a court.”

“Beware Evhana, the raven that caries the message is still a raven no matter, wether it is blind or Albino” Solas recited the saying his father had told him. “And while i wouldn’t call our contribution little, I believe half of the Emerald Knights at the time now lie in the fields around the Capital, I agree we could have done more, but alas as the custodians of the southern border, we are not used to looking North my ladies, never the less i shall answer your questions to the best of my ability” Evhana raised an eyebrow, and studied him from top to bottom. Her smile was persistent, and her gaze perforating. But it was Eylinn that spoke next.
“As my sister said, we do not ask for politics on your behalf. Only what you know, and how your people feel about your neighbouring Elves.”

“In that I can reveal some knowledge, however limited it may be, we have no grievances with other elves and respect all elves rights to different culture and perceptions, Of the deep elves themselves? all i can say is they are known to be very skilled in their chosen profession, something we believe we instill as well as im sure you can appreciate, on marriage and courtship? all i can say there is that I am aware our views are in fairly stark contrast to your own, im am afraid that is the general overview of my knowledge” Solas explained. Evhana gave a dry chuckle.
“One would think any boy would be cherishing such tradition whenever it came to them served. And how else would one cement allegiance to one another, to one’s family uniting with another’s without marriage?” Eylinn crossed her legs, straightening her back against the couch. She studied him intently.

“The way we see it is, people should be together because they enjoy each others company, why does that need an official name or authorisation? and then if people use it for other means, then it is not being used for its intent, so why bother to name it as such. and if i may conclude in our system once a couple a through they can simply split in a way that is equitable to both parties rather then being forced to stay together and be unhappy because of a few words, we elves live far to long to afford grudges wouldn’t you agree” Solas spoke passionately. Eylinn answered with an endearing smile.
“You have your eyes on anyone yourself?”
Solas eyes opened wide in surprise, “At the moment? unfortunately no” Eylinn chuckled.
“That may not always be an unfortunate thing, milord. It can be quite the ache, especially your age. One where we all are fools, with high soaring dreams, and fantasies so easily undone by our perception of the thing.” She laid her hands upon her dark blue silk dress, one very similar to that of the colour of her eyes. “However, it is that dream that keep us focused in the end, is it not? Wills us to improve and encourage betterment?”

“you are very wise, lady Eylinn” Solas looks over at Evhana, “my lady forgive me for being to direct but i can’t help but notice that you’ve been awfully quiet” She leaned back, and studied him with the same smile dressed upon her face as before. Her lax eyes energetic, as she tilted her head to the side.

“What if I am? These long ears are made for hearing. And hearing is what we both are here for. To learn what people live here, so our Queen are assured to be safe during her visit. As Nightshade, it is my duty to ensure the safety of all Elves, after all. The details may fleet past your eyes should you drown them with your own mouth.” She looked over to the bedchamber on her left, stretching her long neck as a sign to look beyond it. “For all I’ve seen is luxury only rivaled by Coal, and it make me ever curious. How a land could have been left untouched by the Dark wars, even as their deity hurled itself over the land. You’ve been blessed.” She scratched her throat. “Most blessed.”

“Aie, but to hear is not the same as to listen, for that one must prod the object of interest, he paused and sighed, “while it is true we have come of better than others, we are still not at the same level we once where, travel into the heart of the forest, and you will find nought but the beetles in the dirt and the blood of trees. but appearances are everything as i am no doubt you are well aware.” Evhana looked at Solas once more, a wide grin appearing and lingering.

“I think it is time for us to clean ours. You have been a most commendable escort, dear boy. We shouldn’t keep you any longer.” Eylinn nodded.

“We will send word when ready to see your father, milord. Be sure to thank him for this most impressive accommodations.” Solas got up and slowly walked towards the exit, before turning around and bowing, “It has been a great honour to have talked with those of stature such as yourself” Eylinn and Evhana rose to curtsy.
 

Gorganslayer

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The Green Glow of the Forest pervased around the group, as they wound their way through the mess of trees along a marbled road, at times the road would thin out or disappear altogether, However Abelas knew the way, he was only a young elf of 14 yet he knew the forests like the back of his hand, he carefully rode up next to the Queen, “Your Majesty, we shall soon be approaching Halam’shiral”

Nienna smiled, her bright red hair contrasting against the white of her silk dress. “That is good to hear, I look forward to finally seeing it. By all accounts it is quite beautiful.” She looked around taking in the sights of the forest. “Tell me Abelas, you seem to know this forest quite well, are you apprenticed with your people’s emerald knights?”

Abelas, turned round in his seat, a look of surprise on his face, “Apprenticed? No, I am only 14 your Majesty, I will not be apprenticed until next year. And I do not really seek to be an Emerald Knight, No, your Majesty i know these forests, because i have grown up in them and as befitting my people survived alone for a year, you learn quickly where things are then” He concentrated on the road, as a large hill approached them, as the party rounded its rocky face, they caught their first sight of the city, it was large, yet non-invasive as if it blended in with the forest, the white marble and Black Basalt contrasting against the green of the forest, yet designed in such a way the city seemed as if it was grown out of the forest itself, Abelas turned and laughed, “May i present Halam’shiral, he shouted.

Nienna grinned as the city came into view. “Ha, truly words do not do it justice. Now I am even more disappointed in myself for taking so long to make the journey. How many people would you say live in the city?”

“I believe it is something around 15,000” Abelas said, his brow furrowed in thought, “Most of our people live spread out in groups,” Abelas dismounted inside the city gate, as guards ran over to help the group. looking up to the queen, Abelas again spoke, “would my queen like to meet my Father or rest herself after such a long journey?

Nienna dismounted as well, gracefully exiting the saddle. “I would be honored to meet with your father, assuming I wouldn’t be disturbing him that is. I would understand if he were too busy to make the time for now.”

“Nonsense” Abelas snorted, “the raven should have announced our arrival by now, and one is never too busy to honor the queen, come I shall lead you to him” Abelas motioned for the queen to follow as he twisted through the crowds that had come to see the queen, while guards surrounded them, eventually they arrived at the great hall, it was a long building, that stretched out from the back of a mountain, it looked similar to a temple in some aspects, but its most striking feature were two towers that extended up the mountain face, “Those two towers are accommodation” Abelas explained “the left is for the city officials and such, while the right is for guests; thats where you’ll be staying, and i believe Lady Eylinn and Evhana are already there”

“They’ve already arrived? Wonderful, I’m sure they’re loving the city as well.’ Nienna examined the towers with awe. “These towers are not actually so different in their design from some of the ones in Coal, it’s interesting.” She brushed the thought away with a wave of her hand. “Anyway, lead on, let us see your father so that I can tell him how impressed I am.”

Abelas lead Nienna inside, before them stood a hall full of people, they all turned and bowed when they saw the queen, Abelas pushed on however until he arrived at a large desk, where 3 elves sat, one looked uncannily like Abelas and sat with an exasperated look on his face, the two others were older, one was dressed in a green colored Knights Uniform, while the other wore the headpiece of an Elven Master, the Master was speaking to the Knight, “As i said simply leave it alone, I would rather not risk having it angry especially seeing as we are about to have our festival” The Knight bowed, “As you wish Master, i will tell the men”, the boy who had been sitting down noticed the group approaching, and let out a little cough, both of the men snapped to attention, and bowed for the queen, the Master stepped forward, “Greetings your Majesty, I am so glad you make it, I am Maharon, I trust your journey wasn’t too unpleasant?”

Nienna smiled politely as she shook her head. “Not at all my lord, certainly not with such a capable guide leading me here. I am most impressed with the state of the province, truthfully I do not think I could have had an unpleasant journey. And even if I had seeing your city would have made it worth it, it’s truly lovely.” She laughed as she brushed a loose strand of hair back into place. “At any rate, I thank you for your invitation.”

“The pleasure has been all mine, It is rare for one of your stature to travel down this far south” I trust you have met my son Abelas?” He pointed at Abelas, “Well allow me to introduce my other son Solas” he motioned towards the boy who sat next to him, who nodded his head at the Queen, “and this man would be Zathrian, my Commander and leader of our Emerald Knights” The other man placed his hand over his chest, “It is an honour to meet you my Queen” Again Maharon spoke, “Do pray tell is there anything you wish to know or need?”

“Solas...Pride, no? In ancient elvish?” Nienna looked questioningly at the young elf, not yet answering the master’s question. “I believe it would be your majesty, though I dare say it does not truly say who I really am”, the boy quickly responded.

Nienna smiled again. “Tel garas solasan, come not to a prideful place. Good advice, and one of the few lines of the ancient language that I can seem to remember.” She laughed quietly before turning to Maharon. “There is nothing I need my lord, though I am curious as to what this festival entails, I only know the barest of details about it at the moment.”

“As you are no doubt well aware, we southern elves, don't exactly share the same religious beliefs as our northern Kin, basically our festival is held every 25 years, and marks our celebrations to our pantheon, it will last nine days with one day for each god or goddess, there will be feasts, as well as ceremony to ask the gods for blessings or atone for sins, at some point every person attending must present a gift our object they have made for the event whether it be a sculpture or song, the only rules with that is it should represent you and not use magic in any form, on the ninth day when we celebrate the death wolf, we hold a ceremony to remember all those who have left us since the last ceremony, this year it will be very important, seeing as it is the first held since the dark wars” Maharon’s eyes grew dark as he mentioned the last bit.

Nienna nodded solemnly. “Of course. Still, no magic, huh? I don’t suspect that rule was hard to enforce for the past thousand years or so.” She laughed warmly. “I shall have to come up with a worthy offering then…” She shrugged. “Still, it sounds like an interesting affair, I’m glad to get the chance to be a part of it while I’m still young I suppose.”

“No worries, if your majesty has no further questions I would be happy for Abelas or Solas to show your to your rooms” Maharon Spoke with energy that it seemed out of place given his age.

“Of course Master Levellan, thank you for taking the time to indulge me, no doubt a once in every twenty five years ceremony takes a lot of planning. I look forward to getting to know you better in the coming days.” She bowed her head to him quickly.

This time Solas led The Queen to her room, the young elf was evidently very fit, as he climbed the many stairs with ease, eventually the reached the top, Solas opened the door to the Queens quarters, before them lay a beautiful suite, the front arc of the room was split so that the edges were covered in stained glass while the front had normal glass, which allowed a view over the forest for miles. A long couch sat in the middle with two smaller yet no less luxurious seats flanking it, while up against the wall stood a chess set as well as two bookshelves. The rear of the room backed straight onto the mountain face itself and two little alcoves had been cut into it. One held a Bed fit for a queen, while the other was a steam room or bath as Solas explained. Stepping back and ushering in the Queen, Solas turned to her, “I trust everything is up to your standard?”

“Of course, it is quite lovely.” She walked to touch the wall cut into the face of the cliff. “It reminds me of Coal, cut into the mountain like this, in a way at least.” She turned back to Solas and nodded to him. “Thank you for showing me to my rooms Solas.”

“I have never been to Coal, but all the words I have heard say it is truly a place of great beauty, I hope that i may one day visit it with my own eyes, Lady Eylinn and Evhana are on the floor below you if you wish to meet with them. And I shall take my leave if you have no further need from me, nevertheless if you do simply ask for me or my brother and we shall happily help” He concluded with a smile.

Nienna laughed. “Much appreciated Solas, but I’m sure that you and your brother don’t wish to spend your time during the festival watching after me, I’ll be fine. And thank you again, should you need anything from me, do not hesitate to ask.”

“In that case I will leave you now” Solas turns and exits, before quickly popping back, “I would love to guide you during the festival this city is a marvelous place, and at this time doubly so” Solas quickly leaves, and his feet can be heard as he descends the stairs.
 
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Endovelicus

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A cold breeze

Close to the nineteenth year past the events in the Golden City

I stood in the back of the Great Hall, on the elevated ground looking down the hall, awaiting Einir the high chief and his deal. Braziers lit all the way to the front. Banners of both our House and the Tudonii’s hanging from the walls. Royal guards standing by the door, awaiting the high chief. I would receive the chief whilst clad in an auburn coloured dress, with a fur coat and cape keeping me warm for a cold meeting. On my head was the newly forged tiara, it was reflecting the little light that shone into the halls, leading to a faint orange glow of the amber seemingly emitting from it. Making my look all the more heartwarming.

The wilder high chieftain Einir of the Tudonii tribe walked in. He wore a more noble outfit, at least by his people’s standards. A black long sleeved tunic, matching trousers, boots, and a cloak. Around his neck was a golden torc, the usual braiding of metal that wilders placed on themselves, it was an intrigueing piece of art to my eyes.He had his medium length hair pulled back in a ponytail, and I noticed he didn’t wear warpaint, probably due to the diplomatic nature of this meeting. He approached halfway to the throne before giving his typical wilder salute; a fist over the left part of the chest, with the head slightly bowed.

‘’Greetings, High chief.’’ I bowed and gestured him to get closer as the guards shut the front gates. The look on his face was similar to the way I had last seen it, cold.
‘’Your arrival has been a long awaited one, high chief.’’

His eyes darted to the banners on the walls. “It would appear so Queen Wyna of Thaanos.” Moving closer as I had gestured to do so he continued “I trust your recent coronation was pleasant.”

‘’Just like your arrival it had been long awaited, but it was pleasant, yes.’’ In fact it felt like it was the best day of my life, but mentioning it would doubtfully bring joy to the chief.
‘’Word has been that we were to discuss important matters however, words spoken about a treaty, or similar matters?’’

“Indeed after all we do have a minor trade agreement, and have retained it for some years at this point. Either expanding on that or creating a new deal of mutual benefit between our people is worth exploring.” He stated pragmatically.

‘’I would wholeheartedly agree, our current agreement should be expanded upon as the relationship between our two peoples has been beneficial so far.’’ I looked him in the eyes, whilst picking my next words thoughtfully. ‘’How should we further expand our relationship by your thoughts?’’

The wilder rubbed his stubbled chin, it would appear he was trying to grow a beard and rather poorly at that. His apparent pondering finished he stopped the gesture and asked, “How would you suggest dealing with those dwarves that like to raid our caravans who refuse to take their heavily tariffed and tolled trade tunnels.”

I was quite astonished by what I heard. ‘’The last knowledge I have of our trade routes we were still using the Galadriel lands, were we not?’’ The notion seemed foreign to me...

The wilder smirked, which was somewhat unnerving. “Yet would it not be quicker to take the mountain paths? Finding ways to appropriately protect our caravans would certainly allow for a quicker flow of trade between us.”

The smirk was still in the back of my thoughts, though he spoke the truth, the elven paths were not the quickest, however the paths leading through the Highathar mountains were also notoriously dangerous, but would greatly decrease the time it would take for travel. There was a certain feeling however that this was not Einir’s reasoning behind his dislike for dwarves.
‘’So how would you presume we proceed to gain easy access to through those trade routes?’’
I could nearly feel his look upon me.

“Well beyond declaring war and removing them from the equation, the latest generation of warriors are frothing at the mouth. Now obviously they are young and would accept the ability to travel and fight often. Meaning a plethora of guards for all our caravans which should more than likely deter most assaults.” The wilder responded without breaking eye contact with me. It felt like he was judging me, or was it my soul? Either way I didn’t like the feeling, it was a feeling one could never get comfortable with, a feeling only a Tudonii could probably give you.

However, the past few years had also led to some increase in warriors within Thaanos as well, many a man eager to see battle, or at least adventure. It wouldn’t be too bad of an idea to let them blow off some steam either. ‘’My men would probably also be more than willing to guard this new route. And we already have a base along the Deadwind pass, we can easily reinforce any road if there would be a need to.’’

Bowing his head slightly to those words. “A fine idea dear Queen. Of course the dwarves are notorious for their stubbornness, perhaps having more than a mere trade agreement would benefit us more. After all we would already have continuous troop trafficking between our two realms. Should the dwarves attack us too much we would need to protect our trade allies, at least for the sake of preserving our own trade.” It was becoming clear the wilder wanted more than simple trade in this agreement, an agreement I started to feel intimidated by. Would my people be ready for any of this?

I had known very little about the dwarves, a lot of people in Thaanos believed them to be a myth, a legend long forgotten, it hadn't helped that dwarves barely came up to the surface, however if they did it was well know you'd be in trouble. ‘’So a military alliance of the sorts?’’ He had seemed to have this planned for a while now. ‘’Any specifics you’d want to get into, high chief?’’ It would have to be an equally beneficial treaty, or at least I would presume and hope so.

Showing his hands he casually pretended not to have planned this. “If that is your suggestion. a fine one it is too, especially considering your only hope for expansion is through the dwarves, the elves, or worse the imperials.” He said the last one with poorly hidden venom in his voice. Clearly wilder and imperial relations have been rapidly deteriorating, a thing I was all too familiar with.

‘’I had mentioned none such intentions, I want answers, that is all I am looking for, find those responsible.’’ The thought of my father saddened me, but I dared not let that show to the chief.
‘’However all those who potentially stand in the way of my answers should be…. swept aside.’’

“Still you are trapped by several powerful nations with dear Ecclestius being most likely to annex you.” The high chief stated with an annoying amount of truth. “Now I’m sure there is a counter proposal from you, so please tell me what you would want out of such an alliance.”

I once again carefully considered my next words, as he seemed to judge every single letter rolling from my tongue. ‘’All I really desire, as mentioned previously, are answers. I would be grateful enough for any clues leading to answers, it not mattering where they lead me, or lead my people. We would turn every stone, kill every dwarf, imperial or elf around, to find out those who harmed our family.’’ However, land for my people to expand upon wasn't too much of a foreign thought, but I kept that thought to myself.

Einir seemed briefly surprised before slipping back into the usual cold visage I have grown to know from our few and brief encounters. “Yes… Well how do you plan on going about that without some sort of ally, be it a major or even minor one?”

‘’We weren’t planning on going at it alone any longer. I will want what is best for us, an alliance, a military alliance.’’ Now I was only awaiting his proposal, what would a man like him want of us?

“Well we are in agreeance for I need a military alliance as well. Far too long have the Ordivantites been left without allies, or atleast those that can be trusted to help defend us while we die on foreign soil for them.” No doubt the high chieftain referenced the sacking of Dracona during the dark one’s war, as well as the notion that the Ordivantites did no longer seem to be all too friendly with their Ecclestian influences. “Would you like to strike this deal dear Queen Wyna of Thaanos? Simply state how you would want it solidified.”

‘’A marriage might be the way to solidify our deal.’’ But who should be the one…
‘’Are there any potential candidates in Ordivantes?’’ I thought it would be best to hear of the potential people before I’d decide anything else.

Shaking his head he said “Why do you easterners never agree to champion exchanges. Although from what I hear you either don’t have those or don't put them to lead your armies.” Having taken a moment after the slightly rude comment he blurted out he responded to my question. “It would depend on who you want to marry off I suppose. The highest ranking people that Ordivantes can offer are my Tanist Aelhaern, and I.”

‘’I apologize that I would not be able to comply to your champion exchange, high chief. Maut is a valued champion, as well as our marshal and commander of the armies. Especially if this would turn out to become a military alliance we’d need a Thaanosian leading our people.’’ I took a moment of silence, hoping for no sudden returning words coming from the wilder’s mouth as I feared I might've insulted him in a way, but I quickly continued on the next matter. ‘’Whom would you preferably have married to you Tanist, or...’’ I had to think twice before the next word would leave my mind, his cold eyes expecting it. ‘’...you?’’

He coughed off to the side at my mention of him. “Well I would prefer it be my dear cousin Tanist Aelhaern this would of course by your standards be a matrilineal marriage were it to be with anyone of equal standing such as Malisa.” Pausing only briefly he continued “unless you desire a different union.”

I looked around the hall, I had made sure that except for guards it was relatively empty, I more often than not found my sister knew the castle better than me, knowing certain spots she could overhear conversations in. I made a small hand gesture signaling the guards to check the area.
‘’Yes… my beloved sister....’’ The relationship between me and my sister had only deteriorated these past years, I had started doubting her capabilities. ‘’...how about a marriage between your cousin Aelhaern and...’’ I would need to do my duty as Queen sooner rather than later. ‘’...me?’’ I looked into Einir’s eyes, hoping for a positive response.

“If that is what you wish Queen Wyna.” He said with respective nod of his head, which felt remarkably less cold than every other time he has spoken thus far. I felt a certain calmness bestowed upon me once again, this would be it, an alliance, a marriage and possible war...

I still had to tread carefully however, making sure my sister would not ruin anything. She was on her own warpath, a warpath unknown to me, yet endangering all of us.
 

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Destiny Unveiled
16 years after His fall​


Narien stood before a great precipice in predawn gloom, all the Sunrise Sea was before her, far down below and stretching out over the horizon. Looking around her, she saw that she stood atop the tallest tower of Azeratii. In the east, the sun began to rise, it's crimson fingers reaching up into the sky, bathing her in warmth. Soon, as the sun grew higher and bolder against the darkened sky, its once comforting light began to burn, and her skin blistered. She turned to take refuge within the tower, but the great light had burned all the city away, replaced by nothingness. And so Narien fell, helpless against what was arrayed against her.

A sudden bump in the road jolted Narien out of a deep slumber. Rubbing the sleep from her eyes, the young lady yawned, and stretched her limbs as much as the carriage would allow. “Are we almost there, mother? The sooner we are free of this carriage the better.”

"Had you prefered we gone on horseback, my dear?" Eylinn chuckled mirthlessly. The wagon was rocking hard on the abandoned road, a road carrying the memory of thousands of merchants peddling their wares, farmers carrying their grain, and thousands of travellers eager to head for the old imperial capital Narien had read in all those books in her youth. Eylinn was half asleep with Lindarel in her arms, only to wake and throw a heavy gaze out the window ever so often. "The first time I followed this old worn road, I was half your age, if even that old. You saw the oxen graze outside the fields yonder, you saw birds heading for the clearing on the right, you saw people pull their donkeys in the reins, more stubborn for every alm they had trekked. Now..." She smiled as she gazed out the right side window. "Ah... The forest is still there. Look."

Narien followed her mother’s gaze, espying a thicket of poplars and oaks. She looked unimpressed. “What’s so special about that? It is a mere brush compared to the forests right outside the Chasm.”

"It is." Eylinn smiled, a pang of nostalgia apparent on her face. "It seemed larger in those days. All the rides I made during the war was so heavy to trail, and this one were no exception. Qylan, the Fallen, and Jacob, the Light, was set on trial by the powers that be, and convinced the lords of the East be wise enough to pass them judgement. The city's despot had no illusions of letting them go, I reckon. So I set up camp, hidden in that forest, blinded of my naive, perhaps even arrogance, to storm the city and set them both free. For free they were and had become, you see. With Dreagon's fall..." Eylinn narrowed her eyes. "Aye... It had to be. How else could I have believed I was?" The scarred dirt road turned to pavement as they came upon the bridge that led them over the river.

Eylinn’s daughter hung on her every word, captivated as always when her mother spoke of the war. Narien furrowed her brow in confusion. “Mother…?”

"I very much doubt there even be walls left to remind us of that glorious city." But her praising words were lined with a sultry grimace, one of almost disgust. "So many died here. See, the fields?" The previous greens on the carriage's left hand side had turned to a scorched black, that seemed not to have repelled. The earth disturbed, upheaved by thousands of men as they had fought their battles here. "It's like the memories of those days have seeped into the ground, out of the Creator's grace. Yet it was here that the Light finally rallied all together in the end. One would have thought that unity, that calamity, would have humbled those that survived, and respect those who didn't by becoming better than we once were." Eylinn bared her teeth into a growl, speaking beneath them. "But foolish I was it seems."

“Now it’s all gone, they say.” Narien said, mesmerized by her mother’s account. “The sea rushed in with a great wave, washing away the blood stained streets as if the Creator mourned all that died.” She reached for her mother’s hand. “And you have us, mother. Varian, Anwën, Lindarel and me. Take comfort in what we learn from you and father, and that we strive to become good. Sometimes all that is needed is a seed.”

Eylinn gave her daughter a warm smile, squeezing Narien's hand gently in return.
"It's you, and your brother and sisters,that deafen their screams every morning and every night. There is... There is however something you must see. You're old enough to know." She looked down her lap before avoiding her daughter's gaze out the window once more.

Narien willed her eyes to pierce her mother’s thoughts, as if they could pierce a notch in armour, but the smell of the sea drifting through the windows distracted her, and she leaned over to view the water emerging on the horizon. She squealed with excitement. “They say when the tide is low, the rooftops of the old city form a thousand little islands, and one can tip toe right out into the Southron Sea!”

Eylinn grinned, and slowly rocked Lindarel in her arms. "A sword course, perhaps? You remembered to balance your step, and always be on the run? Jumps... If you can afford the stamina it will take. But what good is sallying out against the sea? There's naught but fish, and sea serpents to battle there."

“And likely a million ghosts,” said Narien with a pang of melancholia. “Entombed forever in what was once a marvel, a beacon of Light, turned stagnant. Perhaps it is fitting end, the gold lustre long since turned to rust. Let it sink and be forgotten by generations to come. I don’t know why, but it makes me sad.” she said after a pause. “The city was gone before I could hold a memory. Still though… I guess I would have just liked to see it.”

Eylinn closed her eyes as her lips formed a straight line, her brow sorely furrowed. “I see the spires on the top of the hill. I see the bustling streets, the smokes of workshops and inns. I hear the flutes playing between the quarters of its ringwalls, and I smell the spices from the market square.” She snorts, and looks Narien in the eyes, as the ruins of the city start to appear behind the windowshield. “I also see the squalor our people lived drowned in the shanty. I hear the wailing of slaves carried on carts out the gates. I see them beaten, I see them flogged, I see them used in the inns and workshops for the grim pleasures or whims of Man. And I see the resistance as well, people of all races crying for the end of clamours. How bravery seeped through its grimey spectacle.” Eylinn shook her head. “But no, Narien, it is not a place you would have liked to see. I bring you here, because it is time you knew.”

“Know what?” Narien asked, still looking out the window.

“The truth.” Eylinn tapped her chin and fell back towards the seat as the carriage led them closer to the ruins. The spires of which she had told erected from the surface of the sea, and the great hill upon which the Light Temple had stood was torn as if hit by a terrible bang.

Narien broke her gaze to look at her mother. She was about to speak when the rays of the sun reflected off the Tower of Light in such a way that it appeared the entire bay was afire with a brilliant blaze. Her attention was once again drawn outside of the carriage. “Look, mother! That tower must have been huge!”

Eylinn, with her eyes still shut, brokered a smile from her tired reflection. “The biggest there ever was. It housed clergy, kings, emperors and all would stand in awe, and I was no exception. History is not much my subject, however, but I am sure it took great effort to build it so majestically.” The carriage stopped and her mother rose from the seat. “Let us walk the rest.” She laid Lindarel in the crib seated next to them, gently tucking the babe under the linens.

Narien eagerly hopped out of the carriage, sighing as she stretched her cramped limbs. With a hand shading her eyes from the sun’s fiery reflection, she looked out onto the water stretching out over the horizon. “It must have really been something. I imagine like Azeretii, only much grander. Well mother, where to? Skipping over rooftops into the Southron? Fencing lessons over the sunken tower? Or perhaps a walk along the beach with more war stories? I must know what has this truth you speak of.” Eylinn chuckled mirthlessly, as she stepped out of the carriage and walked towards the city, her leisure green dress dragged into the charred grass.

“Whichever you most prefer, my dear. You took to battles and swordfight with such fancy so swiftly, and I thought you would eventually succumbed as your sister and laid those interests to the side. But it stuck, that much is apparent.”

“I much prefer cold steel in my hands then an embroidery needle, and a war cry on my tongue then court gossip. Not that Anwën goes for those things, but most my age do. Besides I have a lot to live up to, being the daughter of heroes.” Narien walked around to the back of the carriage, opening a trunk tied to the back, producing two sheathed swords, tossing one to her mother. Her hand moved swift like the wind, as it embraced the sword in a perfect grip, swathing it across the air as to feel its weight, looking at Narien with a sly smirk.

“Does the same apply to the Nord boy at court? I wonder, is it his swordplay or his rigid charm that keeps you from the needle work?”

Narien flushed. “Mother!” Eylinn only laughed at her daughter’s reaction.

“Forgive me, but I couldn’t resist. I was young once too, even though it is hard to imagine as such. I may not look that much older, but my mind and memories have aged so much more.” Her mother beckoned for her with the sword, as she strolled towards the flooded walls, leaving the carriage behind them.

Following her mother, Narien unsheathed her sword, slicing through the air in slow but sure swipes. “Danjal is different. I don’t know, it’s like he tries so hard to be one of us, or rather an Azeretii highborn when his veins run with the blood of warriors.”

“Ah, a man of mystery then? Intriguing, exciting, so foreign and curious. Trust me, those are the one’s to look out for with the most care. Be dazzled for too long, and you won't even notice…” Eylinn took a sneaky step to the side, and was suddenly pulling the sheathe over Narien’s swordhand, whacking the blade out of her hand. “...when they’ve had you disarmed.”

Narien laughed heartily, gracefully scooping up her sword. “Maybe it’s good to be disarmed by those close to you once in a while, and made to be vulnerable. A test of loyalty. Will he rise to your defense, or go for the jugular?” She raised her sword, taking a defensive stance. “In such moments you might learn who you really are, and who your friends are too. In any case, I’ll be ready.” For a moment, Narien’s face is like steel, then quickly softens to that of her jovial self. She skips ahead of her mother, kicking off her sandals and letting her feet sink into the wet sand by the shore. “So why bring me out here, mother, and why not bring Anwën and Varian too?” Eylinn, maintaining her smirk, tied up the ends of her sweeping dress to free up her legwork. She joined her daughter on the sandy shore, resting the sword calmly within her grasp, as she basked in the brilliant light radiating from the dead city’s rubble.

“A mother need an excuse to treat with her daughter? There has been quite the commotion in our fragile family over this Nord boy. I thought you deserved to vent, and what better way to resign one’s wits to the calamity of battle on a battlefield of old? I used to retreat from our encampments every day to practice with my sword when I needed to clear my mind. With Alvon, I…” She bit her lower lip, squinting her eyes towards the sea. “He taught me all there was to know. The finest swordsman in the world, I would reckon. He didn’t lose a single melee that man, pitted against the most skilled in all arms, and they had nothing on him. But he also helped me with life, with the burden of our people’s crown, to embrace this responsibility and learn to live with it. He also let me talk. Share my views with him, complain and moan over my existence in peace. I just wanted you to feel you could do all that with me.” She glanced over at Narien with a comforting smile, her eyes lustrous with that ancient sorrow and concern she seemed chronically oppressed by.

“I wish I could have known Alvon, though he sounds much like Danjal, although he could hardly be considered the finest swordsman.” Narien said with the naivety of youth, running her hand up the length of her sword. “I beat him several times and he was so filled with wroth I thought he’d burst. He is a good listener too, and tells me the most amazing things of Norseland. He tells me of Shieldmaidens held in high honour, horrible beasts that stalk the skies and mountains, of a frigid sea that carries the dead to join the Light.” She turns serious, regarding her mother with trepidation. “He will be a king one day, a powerful ally for father.”

“He would be. But why do you think your father is so against it? He cares for you. We all do.” Eylinn aimed the sword against Narien, beckoning her to strike with all her heart and determination.

Narien steps forward with a light strike, testing her mother’s defense. With an upwards cut to the side, Eylinn deflect the strike in a downwards spiral, stepping lightly to the left. Her daughter circles, sticking her tongue out in concentration. She projects her movements to Eylinn’s left, then in an instant, changes direction and lashes out from the right. Eylinn bends over to the side to dodge the blade, coming up behind her daughter’s back and gently tap her with the sword on her calve.

“Good. Make them think they know where your blade will land.”

Narien takes a breath of air. “I don’t know, I just feel like father has his own plans for me, my wants, my will, it all counts for nothing to him.” Eylinn led her sword tip towards the sand, drawing a short figure before slashing at Narien with the dull side of the blade. She brought her guard up just in time, the shock of the meeting steel sending vibrations down her sword arm. Eylinn’s lips curl up with concern, as she swept the sand from her sword against her sleeve.

“Perhaps, perhaps not. What does your heart tell you? Does your heart even care of what he thinks?”

With a furrowed brow, Narien finally speaks. “I… I don’t know. I think I do. Are you saying I shouldn’t?”

“I do not.” Eylinn lunged at Narien with a sudden dash, appearing behind her once more to lightly tap at her calve. “And I do. I know you are my daughter, and that is what I’m telling you now.”

Resting her swordarm, Narien looked intently upon her mother. “I care what you think, Mother, heart and all. Would you approve and talk to father?” Eylinn held her sword behind her back, enclosing Narien as she clasped her daughter's cheek with her hand.

“I live for you, all of you. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for your sake. You want me to talk to him, I’ll talk to him. But in the end, this is a choice entirely up to you. You’re my daughter, and no choice you’d ever make would be wrong in my eyes, and every choice you’ll make for yourself would fill me with pride. If your heart guides you down that path, it is perhaps the path you should take. But the heart is a fickle thing. It whisper sweet honey in your ear, while your mind screams out for reason. Every woman harbours a constant war between the two, and I would not believe for a second it would be any different for a man. I’ve felt the same as you, and I cherish the agony it entailed. In the end, it meant I would have Anwën, Lindarel, and then you.” A mournful smile appeared on her face as she returned to watch the horizon, looking out towards the Tower of Light.

Narien drove her sword into the sand, joining her mother’s gaze. “But you and father defeated the Darkness, scorned his shadow with your love, so the songs say. What agony do the minstrels neglect?” Her mother took a deep breath, as she took a leap towards the wall at the front of them.

“You used to love to climb as a child, bringing my white hair grey of worry. I wonder, do you still enjoy the same?” With a playful smirk, Eylinn started to cross the water, jumping from island of island of rubble towards the spires out at sea.

With some hesitation born of suspicion, Narien trailed after her mother. Her graceful footfalls found their marks firmly, hopping across slick stones out into the bay, gleeful laughter causing her to forget her question. She found her mother climbing the stairs of the tower, its blasted surface making a coarse stairway towards the heavens. The luminous glare ejecting from the high born sun was shielded from the shade of its massive architectural delight. The wind blew hefty as they came closer to the top, the scent of salt and since long left schools of fish filling the air with its cool breeze. They came upon a grand balcony, with scorched walls and paintings of emperors of old, worn out by their naked surface left defenseless against the shore.

“Sit with me.” She beckoned. “Just for a little while longer, and then I am sure you’ll have all the answer you need.” Narien joined her mother, breathless from the climb. Together, the two looked out upon the Ecclestian lowlands, and the great Rhill River as it snaked up the valley like a silver ribbon, sparklin from the light of the westerly sun.

Beneath them, the water churned and rippled, and bubbles began to surface, slow at first then becoming frequent until all the bay seemed to be boiling. Narien gasped at the sight of the seafloor rising to the surface. Blinking back her disbelief, and with a hand clutching at her mother’s arm, she saw that it was scales, and the immense body of some serpent snaking around the tower. A gush of water rose like a fountain, bringing with it a horrid stench that could only be described as rotted fish and other unmentionable meals.

"Aye." Eylinn said with a calm voice. "He frightened me as well the last time I revisited this place. The Guardian of the fallens ashes I am led to believe, to keep the tomb encased and calm for those of their rest well deserved." Her mother squeezed her hand tightly, as to transfer the heat of her blood to Narien in a soothing gesture.

A great eye emerged just below the water’s surface, resembling that of a lizard. It was a narrow slit of black enrobed in a fiery gold, beautiful yet terrifying. There the eye hovered, unblinking for what seemed like hours. Narien gripped her mother’s hand tight, too afraid to breath, until finally, it disappeared back under the deep blue of the water. The creature sinking along with her fear, Narien turned to her mother. “Why bring me here, mother?”

“Because this is where your father died.” Eylinn said in a solemn voice, her eyes fixed out towards the sea.

Narien’s jaw dropped, her eyes studying her mother for signs of a poor jape. “What do you mean?” Eylinn swallowed, hard, as she kept her hand firmly holding Narien’s as she began to talk.

“I never wanted to be queen, never wanted the life we lead. He came as a knight out of every story imaginable, the most romantic tales you could imagine. He protected me, he saved me, looked out for me even as he was sided with the Dark One. But he changed. He came back in the end as your sister grew in my womb. When he told me about what he’d done…” Eylinn closed her eyes and took another deep breath to steel herself. “When Human guards came and called me their princess, I was outraged. I was hurt. He had left me on the side, and I felt so betrayed, kept me in the dark, and he didn’t even mean it to be so. Then he was there…” She sniffled, quelling a tear from appearing before continuing on.

“Jacob soothed me when I needed someone the most. It was now him that cared for me, and heard my depressive thoughts. I swore it wouldn’t continue, and I swore to the Light I would do all to make our marriage be a happy one. One for my child to enjoy, to grow up safe within. So it went on, and it was thorny and grim, but we made progress I am sure. Then Jacob showed me his home.” A tear finally eloped, and ran down her face to join the ocean below. “He had no heirs, no one to again banish the Dark One should he appear. None to save the world from destruction from that jealous, scorn, and hurt god. I did not know how to resist, so I didn’t.” She succumbed to her state, and sobbed. “And all I could think of what I was doing to you, what fate you were forced into. To whose heritage you’d belong, and all the burdens that came with it. You’re my daughter, but also his, and the most brilliant Light that Jacob had to offer, is now coursing through your veins and resting within your chest. And for what?” Her mother’s bloodshot glassy eyes finally took the courage to aim at Narien by her side. “So that you’d have children of your own, and had to. To know their children would have children all tasked in this wretched world to save its every bliss and sin, that every living creature expected you to fulfill this fate. And this pain, it’s been with me all these years, since that very conception, to know what horrible mother I’d be to curse my own daughter with fulfilling this task. To live within a lie from my shame, and to pass down that knowledge, one of her descendents must face the same fate as he did.” What dams had been built up over the many years had fallen, crumbled as Eylinn gave in to her grief. Not even the breeze in her hair could have dampened the sad and upsetting scene, as whatever dignity she had tried to maintain was cast to the side to fester as a corpse under the searing summer sun.

As if by instinct, Narien put an arm upon her mother’s shoulder while her eyes darted from the left and right, as if the questions on her tongue were some tangible thing that bombarder her from all sides. “It can’t be true. How can it be? Father aligned with the Dark. He’s a hero mother, straight from the tales of old. You’re not well. That must be it. You’re not well, mother.”

“There are no heroes from that war, Narien.” Eylinn said with a lump clear in her throat. “It was a tragedy after tragedy, and we all played our part in its resentful tale. He was as mislead as we were, and at the moment he saw what the Dark One really was, he returned.” Her mother raised a hand up to gently grab at Narien’s chin. “Hate me, if that is what you need. But you had to know, before you’d let anyone dictate the terms of the life you wished to lead. You deserve at least that for the horrible things I’ve done to you. The lies I’ve spent countless days weaving to save my own face. Thinking the lies was the only way to protect you, when it should have been me that done so. I’d live, and I’d die for you, my daughter. Your every breath fulfill me, and send me into an undeserved fit of joy, joys I couldn’t ever possibly hope to deserve, or return in kind. And I’m tired to return that favour you do me every day, with leaving you to live under any false pretense. You’re old enough now. It’s yours to manage in any way you please.”

Narien’s hand fell from her mother’s shoulder as she spoke. She looked down as if in a trance upon her palms, her skin glowing with an ebb and flow of Light that shone brighter with each of her mother’s utterances. “I don’t want it.” she whispered before her voice began to rise into a shout. “I don’t want this, any of it! All my life is a lie, down to my very name! Does father... by the Light! Does Ares know?!”

“No one. No one but your aunt and me.” Her mother laid a hand upon her shoulder, trying to invite for what she’d hope be an embrace. Narien deflected her mother’s hand, pulling away. “I want to go home. Is it even my home, or am I just some bastard within those walls?” Eylinn took a firm grasp of both of Narien’s shoulders.

“No! It’s where your sisters and brother live, it’s where you have lived, and I have lived for all these years. You will never be homeless, and never be anything but my daughter in its entire. Never will that be! Don’t ever say again such a thing!” Her mother’s grief struck face was yet determined, and her skin flushed red. The fire in her deep blue eyes hot and glowing, as the many times she rushed to Narien’s aching wounds from her plays as a child, to when the night terrors came to claim her in the night, when she just wanted to have her mother’s ear, the same fierce motherly conviction was residing in there.

Narien collapsed into her mother’s arms, who took her trembling and defeated body hard into an embrace, and clenched her head against her chest. “Just take me home, I wanna go home!” she sobbed.

“We will go home. I’m so sorry… How the children must still live through the pain of their parents sins… I will never forgive myself. I’ll keep you safe, whenever you need…”

The daughter’s sobs persisted and the world around her becomes a dull grey, the visage of naievety sapped from her view. Tales of heroism and great deeds would no longer hold her, nor bring comfort but laid bare as mere words on kindling. Her youthful wonder crushed in the wake of hard truth and responsibility. In that moment she seemed to age a decade or more, walking the halls of the Krestarii palace as a stranger. The girl named Narien Krestarii no more.
 
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Cacame and Aeron on a little date

In a noble district of Coal, which few guards were needed, but the most seen, was an neighborhood of extravagant and decorative houses of the rich. Walking out of one of the lavish homes, waving goodbye to the people inside, was none other than Cacame. Not again, Aeron thought. The boy was such a puzzle, Aeron didn’t dislike him, but his feminine nature often drove the guard to doubts. The girlish boyelf spotted the knight and approached him casually. "Hello Aeron." His voice was as happy as ever, though his expression was more wary than usual.

"Greetings.. I'm sorry about what happened earlier, I have just been taught to hold my faith in very high regard…” Another one of his father’s beatings. “That does make me seem not so hospitable to some, but.. It is who I am." he bowed his head "I hope I did not embarrass you."
Cacame scratched the back of his neck and he studied the apologetic Elf. With a sigh he gave Aeron a small smile. "You didn't embarrass me, although you may very well have embarrassed your Queen. I don't think anything has been said to her though, so you should be alright… Honestly Aeron, what came over you? Of our faith or not, that woman is still an Elf."

Aeron stood, straightening his back, thinking woefully about Nienna, her majesty."Yes.. They are just like the wildsmen, though. Do you not think yourself their ways are strange? Their entirely different from how you and I were raised." He was not wrong, and would not back down from his point.

"I had to learn about my brother's land, back when he was still alive." Cacame said with a shrug, "So I suppose it isn't that strange for me, for others to have different beliefs. But yes, I can see what you are going at. A pantheon of gods is much more Dwarven or Human than Elven in nature."

Aeron nods "I didn't leave the woods, the deep chasm, until I was twenty." He wished to get from this subject however, he did not see it as his greatest achievement. He put on a smirk, and noticed Cacame’s state "What were you doing in that villa? Rabble like you, thats much too fine of a estate."

He snorted before grinning at Aeron. "Yes, the building is much too fine for the son of a Therain and step-son of a Prince!" Cacame blushed and shifted uneasily on the spot. "I was actually there because my mother recommended the family's eldest daughter as a marriage prospect and told me to meet with them..." Shaking his head he snapped out of his reverie. "Well, at least that ordeal is over now."

Aeron raised an eyebrow "Ah, marriage? How did it go? Not well, from your tone, I take it?" he laughed "Perhaps I could approach them myself, and see if they are worthy of my fine friend?" He was thinking awfully about what he would do when he reached Commander.. But a marriage? He felt a bit of envy from him.

Cacame scrunched up his nose. "I don't want to marry yet and I think they got the idea. No loss there. But if you think that you'll enjoy it by all means, go try your luck."
"Was she pretty?" Aeron tilted his head "I guess. I mean, she wasn't ugly or anything." Cacame sighed. "Are you really that in a rush to get married?" Aeron shook his head, and smiled, thinking on something far more sinister.. "How old are you, again?" "Nineteen." Cacame said with a laugh. "But my mom married my dad when she was, I think, fifteen or something."

Aeron knew who she was, and had more then one occasion where he was posted to guard the nightshade back when he did not decide his own posts. "Ah, Evhana, such a spectacle that one is.. I wish I knew more about her, but she's so secretive. The Commander thinks there is something afoot with her, but the Queen never listens.." he folds his arms behind his back "Well, anyways, I wanted to know because I have an particular interest in women, Cacame. A good knight always must prove himself to a maiden!" he boasted, grinning.

Cacame screwed his face up with distaste. "See if you can match my father's appetite for women. If you can, you may need to slow down. I, on the other hand, am more than happy to wait."

Aeron shook his head and looked in the distance."Ah, see, a lady is a flower, Cacame. You cannot have a bouquet with too many of them, less you spoil it. I much prefer to pick one at a time, and take in its fragrance, before moving to the next! One day, I hope to find the perfect flower, no?" He shrugged "But I've no appetite for gardening lately! I have much work to be done, if I ever wish to be commander."

"I never took you to be such a wordsmith." Cacame smiled. "So you want to lead her Highness' armies do you?" The boy was teasing him, Aeron knew. But despite that He still blushed blushed, so close to Nienna? No, that great of a feat would be nothing short of impossible. "Her highness would be such the most exemplary commander.. If she wills it, I would do anything at her command." He spoke with a strong conviction, and did not relent.

"You really are devoted to her, aren't you?" He looked away "And what is it to you? She is the finest woman that I will ever see. In the few audiences I had with her, she displays such elegance, it is not hard to see why she is so beloved." he smiled smally, but then coughed and arched his back

Cacame laughed warmly and nudged Aeron with his shoulder. "You sound like a tad love-struck. I wouldn't get your hopes too high though. Auntie has never expressed any desire for remarrying."

He frowned, his brow showing displeasure "Me? Love-struck? With the Queen? You kid yourself!" he quickly turned "I am but a guard in her highnesses' grand forces. Now, are you hungry? I am." he started to walk away, Cacame would not have the best of him, oh no! He could surely not let him get to him..

Cacame shrugged and followed the older Elf. "I was wined and dined by that family not long ago, but I could use another bite to eat." Aeron Snickered "Excuse me, perhaps I could show you a training yard? My father always said a man needs to know how to wield a sword."

Cacame laughed and waved his hand. "I leave such things to those with the actual skill. Best anyone could hope for when it comes to me is that I cut someone aside from myself." Aeron slowed his pace, and allowed him to catch up "You are too harsh, I am sure it isn't impossible.." "Not impossible, I'll grant you that, but hardly worth the effort. I'm not fit to be a warrior, in more ways than one. I make a decent enough steward, and am a passable diplomat. I am no warrior, nor a general."

He folded his arms behind his back, considering his words. "Do you think you would make an good enough rule? You are heir, after all." Cacame shrugged and laughed, his expression carefree. "My mother is still young, and there is always the possibility that she may very well outlive me, so that would make your question a moot point." Rubbing his hand through his long locks, Cacame's brow crinkled with thought. "But a good ruler by myself? I suppose... I know my strengths and weaknesses, so that's a plus. I am sure I would survive."

Aeron didn’t know if he coul say the same. He was an heir too, but his father was sickly and old.."You seem as if you have not a care in the world, yet your significance is great." he looked at him "How do you keep so light-hearted, in a world so dark?"

Cacame shrugged again. "It's not that dark a place overall. I just don't give it much thought."

He nods, he disagreed, but best not to start another argument. "I seek solace in the fact, that through will, I might someday become strong enough to defeat them." he pursed his lip, and turned heel to a local restaurant of fine dining

"Them?" Cacame questioned as he followed Aeron inside. "You know, dark creatures, corrupt backstabbers, evil beings. Whatnot."

"Whatnot indeed." Aeron was seated, sitting down as the girl working the tables biting her lip at him as she noticed them. "Oh a royal guard! What would you and your sweetheart like today?" she asked

Cacame muttered something under his breath unknown to Aeron before smiling and linking his arm with Aeron's. "Why yes dear, what are you buying me today?" He fumed, and grimaced "Oui.. Just an cream filled danish, with some hot spiced tea, and perhaps an side of figs.." the girl nodded, and went to tell the order, as he groaned and sat down. "And why, heavens, would you do that?"

"Because now you have to pay for my meal." Cacame said matter-of-factly as he sat down. Aeron frowned at him "Do you always act this way?" "Nope." Cacame said happily as he looked around curiously. "I've never been here before anyway, so it doesn't matter."

The restaurant was neatly decorated, Aeron being glad that they were in a booth so they didn't draw too much attention.. "Well, if you are going to pretend to be a lady, at least act like one."

Cacame snorted and raised an eyebrow. "If you're hoping for a kiss, I'm sorry to disappoint you."
Aeron furrowed his brow, but persisted."See, snorting isn't such a ladylike thing to do." he fumed once he realized what he said "I would have you know that I did not mean it like that."

"I'd hope not." Cacame drummed his fingers on the table before remembering his pretend role and dropping them to his lap. "So how have you been the last few days?” Aeron sighed, and laid back against the chair "Bored, mostly. You would not believe how many prostitutes there are, in the market district. Alot of them are even bigger scams... They just try to steal your coins! I've been communicating with some of the local guards to try and organize a crack down.."

Aeron smiled, but it wasn’t all too pleasant, because he had a bit of ire in his voice."All exciting stuff, I'm sure, to one who's so used to court. How are the palaces, and gossip, this time of year?" Cacame shrugged. "Nothing out of the usual. Petty gossip beyond measure, secret scandal after scandal. Nothing too new."

"I heard war in the east is getting worse.. Those Nords, I would have a thought to believe my father, we should fortify mirrorwater more."

"Don't worry about Mirrorwater, my mother knows what she's doing. If any moves are going to be made against her land, she'll know."

"And what when a move is made? Fortifications always help."

"As I said, if she ever gets a hint something is wrong, she'll take precautions." He frowned, and nodded "I suppose everyone is still shellshocked from the war, but the younger races will forget eventually.. And they'll go back to what they do best."

"Killing each other is something all races seem to do well, though I do agree the... 'younger' races, as you call them, have a special liking for it."

He snickered "And what do you call them?" Cacame blinked "Men, Orcs, Dwarves... Whatever they are I suppose."

"You are too kind, Cacame.." by this time their food had arrived, and the waitress noted on how cute they looked, which made Aeron fume on the inside even more.
Cacame laughed as he ate, glancing up at the Captain of the Guard. "You need to learn how to laugh. Who cares what she thinks?" He frowned.. "Well.. I have some bad experiences with laughing!"

"What, one of the whores laughed at you when you dropped your pants?" Cacame teased.
"No, not that. When I had fallen for your cousin, I think I laughed too much.." he grimaced "If I had been more serious.. Perhaps.." he bit his lip, and shut his mouth. He would not talk of those times, with Eylinn and Anwen.."That is behind me, now."

Cacame frowned and scratched his head. "Which cousin? Anwen or Narien?” Aeron shook his head "Anwen. You think I would be involved with Narien? Ha." He then blinked, not wanting to sound off-putting of the girl. "not that she's not a lovely girl!"

"Anwen has a lot of admirers." Cacame admitted. "I think Elu, back when we were kids, had a crush on her. Nothing ever happened of course, but its just what I recall. Anyway, Anwen and Armas seem to be together."

"Elessar is an honorable, and true man. I am happy for them, but there was a time where I may had been ireful." he looked at him "But, such is the way with a lady like that.. Tell me, Cacame, you've never experienced these feelings?" He was generally curious, from his past stance on marriage, it did not seem likely.

Cacame blinked in surprise. "When I was little I had a crush on Narien, but that was a long time ago. Aside from that, not really."

" I wish I hadn't experienced those feelings, I have a.. Much better time at fighting.." he sighed and looked down, having lost his appetite.

Cacame looked at him with concern before smiling and leaning across to grab him by the shoulder. "Lighten up Aeron. You are capable of turning heads where you go, so I daresay you will find someone who returns your feelings soon."

Aeron looks at him unsuredly, taking some time to consider his words, before nodding "Yes yes.. I am not a child Cacame!" He turns his head, but a slight smirk could be seen "I shall believe you.. This day."

Bards Tale: Wait, no bards sing random-ass tales anymore..
 
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Cacame Mindrilla
Set fourteen years after the War of Darkness

Cacame Mindrilla walked along the hallways of the palace in Mirrorwater. Normally the place was a hive of activity, even late into the night, but now not long after the Sun had set all had fallen quiet. Cacame knew why. The servants were paying their respects to the death in the family. The murder of Garhold Elu, Under-King of Yurdaest, Cacame’s brother. Just thinking about it made the young Elf blink back tears. It was strange how one letter from a place he had never been could turn his world upside down. It was even stranger still with how his mother had reacted. Evhana had thrown herself into her work, seemingly intent on drowning her sorrows beneath mounds of paperwork.

It was not long before Cacame found himself before the archaic looking wooden door that led to his mother’s office. He had often played in the room when he was little, while his mother had worked on managing Mirrorwater. The entrance to a room he had used to see as a place of fun was now appearing as something far more insidious. Doing his best to control his unease Cacame knocked on the door hesitantly, calling out softly. “Mum? Can I come in?”

“Enter.” Came her melodious voice. Cacame hestiated, ever so slightly, before he pushed the door open and walked into the office. His mother was where he expected her to be, where she had spent seemingly every waking moment of the day since their return from Coal. Evhana sat at her oaken desk, deeply involved with paperwork. She scribbled furiously, yet her face was calm and composed, stacking leaf after leaf of correspondence, ledgers and journals in droves. She was clad in a simple court dress, not made for public appearance. Yet her hair and makeup as neatly applied as ever. Looking at his mother made Cacame even more aware of how differently they seemed to be taking Elu’s death. Whilst she worked without pause, Cacame had begun to neglect his appearance and studies. His normally handsome appearance was disheveled and the clothes he wore carried stains from clumsy attempts at eating.

Cacame licked his lips as he watched his mother work tirelessly. After a few seconds of awkward silence he spoke out, shattering the icy atmosphere. “Are you okay, mum? Since… , Umm.” He looked down at his feet, clearly uncomfortable and upset, before nervously looking up at his mother again. “Since… Elu… Umm. You’ve just been working…” His voice trailed off and he returned his gaze to the floor. It was far harder to bring up the topic of Elu’s demise than he had thought. Cacame had no idea on how to actually approach the problem, on how to voice his worries.

“Of course, my dear. The realm’s affairs and the ruling of Mirrorwater doesn’t ever rest. So is our lot as to do everything in our power to lead our people with improvement and a healthy, happy, life. We need ensuring they all are fed, all have work, all have opportunities and even distractions throughout their lives. That doesn’t end with any one death, I can assure you, my son.” She placed the low lit candle closer to the workspace, adjusting her spectacles as she rubbed her temples. “Was there anything in particular you wanted to speak of?”

Cacame’s face flushed red, and he again licked his lips. Shifting unhappily he tried to speak, only managing to make a crackling squeak. His flush deepened and he began to shake, tears beginning to run down his cheeks. “I’m sorry Mum. I’m… Scared. I don’t know what to do. I mean, Elu wasn’t here much after he took up his place in Yurdaest, but… I miss him.” The tears flowed freely now and the young boy made no attempt at trying to hide them as he sobbed pitifully. But Evhana’s scribbling only intensified as her voice kept its calm demeanour.

“It is a mother’s job to worry, my son. You are safe, and you can leave the mourning to me. One cannot undo what has passed, and thus it is a pointless endeavour pursuing that grief. It will pass, do not fret.” The feather pen broke under her grip with a loud crack. She tossed it aside, and pulled out a new from her desk, keeping to her scribbles without batting an eye or raising her head.

Cacame sniffled, wiping his nose on his sleeve, tears still running from his eyes. Hiccuping as he tried to speak, he stumbled over to Evhana to grab her tightly in a surprisingly strong hug. “I can’t do it though!” He managed to say between his sobs. “I’m not like you or like, like… Elu! I can’t be like that!” He buried his head into her silvery hair, muffling his cries slightly. His mother stopped her scribblings, and he could feel her warm hand upon his cheek. Her breathing was coarse, determined, yet she still spoke with her eerily calm.

“You do not have to. But it is a mother’s burden to weep for her child, and see? I do not weep, and it is all better now. You needn’t sob any longer. You needn’t cry. It won’t bring him back, and it won’t make you any stronger.”

He still sobbed, but it lessened as he felt her hand upon his face. He held her tight for a minute, trying to calm himself, before bursting into tears again. Shaking violently his embrace of Evhana tightened and he began to speak, his voice coarse with tears. “Why did it happen? He was good! He was a good brother! He was a good person!” The grief in his voice slowly changed to anger, something that was rarely ever heard from the genial boy. “Why did they do this? I hate them! I hate them, I hate them, I hate them! They need to hurt! They need to be stopped, so they won’t do it again!” Evhana hushed in his ear.

“Remember your brother for what he was to you. A good, loving, cherished boy who held you dearly. Now stop shaking, stop sobbing.” Her voice came as much more firm. Ever obedient to his mother Cacame slowly brought himself under control. The shaking gradually stopped and the tears stopped flowing, although he would constantly wipe at his eyes. Evhana nodded, and gently pushed him to the side. “If that doesn’t work, just forget about him.” Her shrill voice, seeming to lack any sorrow at all, as if she had never grieved him.

Cacame gaped at her, tottering on the spot as if he had been struck. “F-Forget about him? How can you say that mum?! Elu was your son! He was my brother! We can’t pretend he never existed!” He took a step away from Evhana, watching her with red-rimmed eyes. “His name was Elu! You can’t forget about him! Elu! He had your nose and dad’s eyes! Elu! Your son!” Evhana clenched her lips, returning to her scribbling, while adjusting the light from the right angle.

“Not anymore. If it helps us sleep, it’s better to leave all of that behind. Whatever comforts you, my boy.”

“You don’t mean that! Would you do the same if I died?!” Hysteria began to creep into the young Elf’s voice. His mother’s reaction was begining to truly terrify Cacame. He didn’t know what to do, what to say. He didn’t want to believe she was saying all that came from her lips, but he couldnt’ shut his ears. “What about Aunty Eylinn and Nienna? What about Anwën or Narien! Or what about Elessar?! Would you forget all of them?”

“Stop it…” She whispered. “What do you want me to say?”

“That he was your son, that you miss him!” Evhana’s hand was shaking, the quill scribbling ink all over the paper, ruining the entire page. Her mouth shook, her eyes squinted, her body turning to a trembling mess. With a dart she flew up from the chair and threw the papers over the room.

“He was my son!” She roared, as she stood before Cacame and her face in upheaval. “For nine months he grew inside me, and now they took him away! A part of me is gone! My blood spilled in that wretched place! You think, for a moment, I don’t mourn and miss him still?! Why… Why are you reminding me of how my life has been drained from me, my every damn waken moment having him filling my mind?! He was my son!” She sobbed heavily. “And I never got to say goodbye. Never…” She fell back in the chair, covering her eyes as they ran wet with tears. “I’ll never cradle him again… Never hold him close to my chest to comfort him, and never treating him sweets after a night of diligent studies. I never will caress his cheek again, as he curled up in bed escaping his nightmares. I never get to see him have children of his own, my blood for him to harbour in his own flesh. Never see him laugh, never see him marry, never s…” The dress was ruined now from the soaked, cloudy tears, as the paint on her face was dripping off to stain the fabric. “He is gone…”

Cacame watched his mother for a few minutes, worry clear on his face, as a dozen emotions fought for dominance. Fear of Evhana’s reaction lessened and was replaced by anger, which was quickly overtaken by grief. Closing his eyes for a moment Cacame tried to slow his mind, to calm himself as his mother often told him. It did not take long for the Elven boy to feel like he was back in control of himself. Slowly he walked over to her and hugged her again, giving her a kiss on the cheek. “So you do miss him. Sometimes you act like you have a heart of stone, and you scare me into thinking it is true… I miss him too mum…” Cacame took a steadying breath and stared at the table before them. “Can… Can we spend some time in Coal? I want to see Aunty Nienna… I think you should see her too. She always knows what to say.”

Evhana, unceremoniously, pulled Cacame into her embrace, gently patting his hair. His face clenched towards her neck, as she leaned her grief struck face over his head. The strong, warm beating pulse of her heart echoing against his skin.

“I lost your aunt once, and she was my whole world. Dead and gone, and I was all alone. Yet I never had time to grief, never had time to say goodbye. But you… You should never feel that way.” She caressed his cheek gently, as her tears ran down her throat. “Whatever you need, my son. Whatever you ask. We will go to Coal again.”

Cacame murmured happily as he returned the embrace. After a few moments he pulled away and sniffled, looking at the messy room. Everything was a mess, just like them he supposed. All this because of a death. Cacame had never worried about death before, not before Elu, but now it gnawed at him. How could he keep it at bay? He had no skill with a sword, could barely fire a bow. Maybe... Maybe he could ask his mother for the kind of way to stave off death that she was oh-so familiar with. “When we get back from Coal umm… Can… Can you teach me about, like… plants? You know all of them and I want to be more like you.” He blinked and turned back to look at Evhana, worry on his face. “And… I want to know how to protect myself. I’m no good with a blade or bow, so that leaves… You know…” Evhana nodded, flooding Cacame with relief. He was worried she would keep him away from such things, out of fear for his safety. He should have known better, known to trust her.

“I’ll teach you anything you need.”

Cacame sighed with relief and gave Evhana a quick hug before going around the room picking up the papers that were on the floor, his thoughts scattered. As he picked up a paper requesting a lessening of the tax on staple grains he heard his mother sniffle quietly. Unable to look her in the eye, Cacame turned and looked just over Evhana’s left shoulder. “Umm, mum… I’m sorry that I was mean to you. I was just… I was upset.” Evhana, clearly shaken, closed her eyes.

“I’ve been the fool, trying to drown myself in work to keep the grief at bay, hoping such a display would help you recuperate faster as well. It’s a mother’s great privilege to worry for her sons. You needn’t feel it to be the other way around.”

Cacame smiled as he gathered the last of the papers and put them on her desk, his eyes still red from weeping. “I want to return your love, so worrying about you is the least I can do. If there is one thing I have learned over the years it is that family is everything.” Evhana looked over the papers on her desk, and then out the window towards the starry sky.

“I think we need both our rest tonight, Cacame. Make sure to pack your things before we head back for Coal tomorrow.”

“Okay mum… Goodnight.” Giving her a quick peck on the cheek Cacame left Evhana alone in her office. He hurried back to his room and quickly changed into his night gown. The trip to Coal was on the young Elf’s mind as he prepared and drank the sleeping draught his mother had taught him. As he settled into bed Cacame hoped that soon he would be able to sleep without nightmares again.
 

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An Unexpected Meeting

Set 19 years into epilogue


The great hall at the palace in Coal was filled with courtiers and servants, all set to whatever task they had been assigned. The hall itself had several large marble columns on either side of a long red carpet which led to the far end of the hall. At the end of the carpet, at the top of a small flight of stairs sat the throne of the forest, and behind that was the wellspring which provided water to the castle. Queen Nienna sat on her throne, her bright red hair just touching the shoulders of her dark green dress, which was covered with golden embroidery on the sleeves. She looked quite bored as a courtier spoke to her about some matter or another.

An alien figure entered the room. It was a human; he had blondish brown hair that fell just below his ear lobes, with a scruffy face slowly growing out into a beard; cold grey eyes; and a naturally furrowed brow. His dress was a loose white tunic, with a small ‘V’ opening to show off his chest to maidens, most likely. His waist is belted with a red military sash, and trousers were of plain black pattern. His usual boots are replaced with sandals for the warmer weather of Coal.He stood off to the side waiting patiently to be received by the elf Queen as any other courier would.

Noticing the man Nienna held her hand up to silence the courtier in front of her. “That will be all for the moment, thank you.” Curious, she waved the new arrival forward. “Please, come forward sir, so that we may make introductions. I don’t believe I’ve seen you in my court before now.”

The man respectively noded and walked forward. Then gave a salute that is only seen in one place. “To be fair I have never seen you in my court either elf Queen Nienna.”

Nienna paused for a moment before a smile came over her face. “Einir? It is good to see you again, it has been far too long! You should have sent a courier ahead so that we could organize a proper welcome.” She waved a hand dismissively at the thought. “It’s no matter I suppose, I’ll inform the cooks that we will have a feast in your honor tonight. How have you been my lord? Well I hope.”

“Please you needn’t go to such lengths for me Queen Nienna.” He said protesting the feast out of simple politeness. “I would have sent a courier if I wanted something so, formal. As for something as private as how I am perhaps a less public setting would be in order.”

Nienna laughed as she stood up from her throne and turned to her steward who stood nearby. “I must see to our guest, I trust you can handle any other matters that need my attention.” WIthout waiting for a response she started down the steps to Einir. “It is easy to forget how private your people are, my apologies. Come, have you eaten lunch? I’ll have some food brought to the dining room while we talk.” She began making her way out of the great hall, motioning for him to follow.

Obliging to her he walked next to the Queen. “I had jerky just a few moments before arriving in Coal, but I suppose it would be rude to deny an offer from a host twice.” Looking back at the great hall they recently left. “It would appear you are far less tasked than first assumed to be able to just leave your court dealings so early.”

“Oh, all the important matters are dealt with early in the day, now it’s just small things that my steward can handle easily enough. And of course, should something dire come up, I’m just down the hall.” She opened the double doors to the dining room, ushering Einir inside and letting one of the attendants know to bring them food. It was a far smaller room than the great hall, but still fairly large, with a mahogany table at its center with room for twenty potential guests. At the head of the table was a high backed chair made of a dark, almost black wood, and inlaid with ivory. “Not to mention that I am happy to make time for an unexpected guest of such stature. So tell me, now that we are in private, how have you been?”

“Alright I suppose, just the usual problems with running a warlike people. My main reason here was to build better relations between our two people.” He paused to see how she felt about that. “Especially after what your dear son Armas told me of your... intrigue over us.” He spoke rather coolly and business like, not the same hyperactive child she had once met.

“Ah, no doubt it is a burden, trying to keep everything in line, but I am sure that you handle the task admirably. I’ve always considered myself quite lucky that the people of Galadriel don’t seem to have much lust for war.” She sat down in her chair, motioning for Einir to sit as all. “As for the state of relations between our peoples, I’ve always felt that Galadriel and Ordivantes are in many ways natural allies. We already do a good deal of trade, and your people have long aided us against slave raids.” She paused for a moment, clearly considering something. “You’ve spoken with Armas? Recently?”

Sitting down near her but not too close to keep a respectful distance. “Indeed just last month when he came asking permission traverse my lands. Some sort of pilgrimage of knowledge, he wanted to go west and I forced him to take one of my Pencampwr to guard him. He says its his last stop so hopefully you will see him soon.”

Nienna’s normally cheerful mood was replaced by a more serious tone. “Ah, that is good news, it had been some time since I received any letters from him. And thank you, for sending him with a guard, he refused to have any of the royal guard with him when I tried to convince him.” She raised an eyebrow curiously, and amused expression on her face as she tilted her head and looked at Einir. “What is it that he told you exactly?”

“When came to the guard I think he was too tired to put up an argument. Also I made it clear he had no choice at all. Beyond that he wants to edit his compilation of his journeys into a book.” The wilder stated clearly to the Queen.

Nienna laughed. “That sounds like him. Still, it is good to hear that he’s doing well, thank you Einir. Actually though, I meant what was it that he said about my ‘intrigue’ as you call it?” As Nienna spoke the attendant returned, carrying two salads, topped with salmon with a brown sugar and honey glaze, as well as a platter of meats and cheeses. He quickly placed the salads before Einir and Nienna, putting the platter down between the two of them.

Einir lifted the salmon up to look underneath it ignoring the utensils. “Where’s the rest of the meat?” Moving on after the Queen’s chuckle he replied to her previous question. “He managed to get me to drop my usual grim strong chieftain facade and I told him of our desire to separate from Eccletisu. His response was surprising. He stated that ‘Whatever happens I’m sure the great Tudonii will emerge the victor. If you ask my mother you would think that your family will conquer the entire western half of the continent.’” He paused then to see how she would react to this all.

“It’s a salad dear, I’m sure you’ve heard about them in stories.” She laughed even as her cheeks reddened slightly. “As for Armas’s remark, well, he may be exaggerating slightly, but truly it would not surprise me to see Ordivatnes expand a great deal. No doubt your people could handle the disorganized tribes and bands to the west.” She lifted her fork, tapping it against her bowl as she thought. “You wish to separate from Ecclestius though? I suppose it makes sense, given their distance, not to mention what I have heard regarding their internal politics. Do you think you would be successful, that they would allow it?”

This caused a rough laugh from the wilder. “They would sooner die than risk the prestige loss of losing an entire duchy. Even if it is one they dislike as much as it them.” He lightly pondered for the briefest of seconds. “Call it a matter of honor, our leaving would be a disgrace that they would have to defend. As savage as they are even they must adhere to such base needs of civilization.”

“I have no doubt. It’s good that you see that though, many people seem to think they can carry out transgressions against someone’s honor without any consequence. And since you do see that, I trust that you have a plan beyond trying to fight the combined armies of Ecclestius?” She speared a piece of salmon on her fork, eating it slowly.

“I assure you I have plans and alliances already in the making, but my dear friend your son pleaded that I keep talk of war to the minimum. I doubt it is a good way to build amiable relations. Now if you want to continue down this path by all means or you ask me any other questions you desire.” He made an odd hand gesture “on my honor I will answer all dear Queen.”

Nienna smiled at that. “Thank you, but I wouldn’t wish to take advantage of your honor young duke. Knowing that you are at least giving this due consideration is good enough for me.” She placed for fork and and placed her hands together, leaning forward on her elbows. “Allow me to say this, Galadriel has been at peace for over a decade, and I would like for things to stay that way. Part of that means that no foreign armies will be marching through my forests, just so that you are aware.” A knowing smile spread across her face as she said the last part.

“I know Armas stated as much but I had to be certain,” he replied coolly. “Now seeing how all you apparently have to go off of when comes to my people is one book what do wish me to illuminate.”

“Well...there have been writings by elven scholars as well, they are just not quite so detailed.” She shrugged, smirking. “You will have to excuse me for not having a list of questions prepared, yet another reason you should have sent a courier. Truth be told, I’ve always been curious about your system of succession, something that Owain’s book was rather quiet about. Nearly every other culture I have seen follows primogeniture to some degree or another.”

“You mean tanistry?” He asked rhetorically. “Well I’m trying to think of a good analogy for it… Fuck it I’ll just describe it and you can figure it out.” He took a moment to choose his words carefully. “A tanist is elected from among the current chieftain’s closest kin. This is mainly due to chieftains often dying in either a champion battle, raid, war, disease, or a trick. Because everyone of that tribe is technically related we don’t have to worry about finding a replacement, and the fact they are elected by the tribe there isn’t a high chance of the people revolting right after succession. What do you think so far?” He asked curious to see if he was explaining it well enough.

Nienna nodded along as he spoke. “Right, but surely a system like that promotes civil war within the dynasty, if two people feel that they should be tanist despite the result of the elections, no?”

Einir gives a knowing smirk. “Which is why we Tudonii had mainly followed the Aodhic model of it. First only the most promising potential tanist, chosen at a young age, is groomed to be the ‘perfect leader.’ Then the others are trained to be not good at leading, if they are it is so they can be traded off as champions or married off. Essentially those the chieftain doesn’t want to rule are cast aside.”

Nienna considered that for a moment as she ate more of her salad. “Ok, but surely the full measure of one’s potential can’t be seen when they are only a child. I can see why it would be somewhat helpful, in certain circumstances, but it almost seems that you only weaken yourselves by making those who aren’t chosen unable to live up to their potential. At that point why not simply select an heir through something like primogeniture succession and then educate all of your people as best you can?”

“Tradition is important and Tanistry is part of that tradition. Also that older model is used far more, especially now with the influx of new minor tribes.” He took a moment to come up with an adequate response to Nienna’s good question. “Honestly it is flawed but it had been used by our tribe for the last century because it kept internal conflicts low. Problem is the recent Tudonii civil war and dark war proved that it was far less effective. Honestly my cousin and I have been an experiment in a new form. More purest in that both of us can lead effectively, except I was given far more training to be more effective. Also we were encouraged to be the closest of kin, with success on that front at least.”

“That’s good to hear I suppose. And of course I didn’t mean to imply that you needed to change anything or ignore tradition, I was simply curious. If the system works in Ordivantes then that’s all that really matters.” She shrugged slightly, before looking at the salad that Einir had barely touched. “Would you like the cooks to make you something else Einir, I’m sure it wouldn’t be any trouble.”

“No I prefer not to impose too much upon such fair host.” He said with a smile and finally took a big bite of the fish, still forgetting to use utensils. “Anything else you wish to know off the top of your head?”

Nienna raised a hand to her mouth to hide her laugh as she watched him eat. “There is one other thing, if you will indulge me, though it is not strictly about Ordivantes, technically.”

“Speak your mind my host.” He commanded as he finished off the delicious salmon then started nibbling on some of the leaves from the salad.

“Well, and do recall that this is my own curiosity more than anything else. When Half-moon was killed, and Narien fled from the Norselands, my records showed that there was a man with her, one who looked like he was from Ordivantes. Do you know anything about that?” Nienna pushed her empty salad bowl forward a little and leaned back in her chair.

He took long sip from his water but never broke eye contact with the Queen. “What if I do elf Queen? I already honor bound myself to answer but I would like to know a reason for such an inquiry.”

She let out a relaxed sigh, her smile returning. “Good. As I said, it truly is simple curiosity. She is the daughter of one of my best friends, not to mention my vassal, and I want to ensure that she is safe. You’re looking after her then?”

He sighed deeply while shaking his head, his previous facade just thrown out the window. “I guess..” He hides his face in one of his hands. “I just don’t know what to do with that girl. She calls for me to meet her at this random place after years of not talking to me. Talks of being a prisoner, and how she wants to be taken away from it all. Pfft… even kisses me.” He rubs his forehead with the same hand he was hiding behind. “Then next thing I know a king is dead and she’s rushing off. I gift her a conglomeration of refugees for her own tribe and then she refuses to treat with me for... some time.”

“I am sorry to hear that Einir, she is likely struggling to get through everything that happened. I expect she’ll come around, given time. And thank you, for telling me the truth, to be completely honest with you, Therain Evhana had already given me a report to that effect. My apologies if this seemed deceptive, but it is good to know we can trust one another.” Nienna sighed. “I do hope that you’ll let me know if she needs anything. Why ever it is that she didn’t come to Galadriel if she felt she was a prisoner, I’ll still do anything in my power to help her.”

He briefly looks angered by the deception but calms down just as fast. “Indeed well then anything else elf Queen? For I have freely given you all I know on precious Narien.” He broke his cold stare at the name and looked down to the side before sighing again. “Damn the vexing emotions she gives me” he muttered.

Nienna laughed at that. “Such is the way of women young Einir, you will have to get used to it I suspect. But I remember when you two were young, I imagine you give her emotions to consider just the same, which may very well be why she hasn’t spoken with you. Her last marriage...was not the best it seems.”

“I certainly got that impression, but what princess would deny marrying a king her age?” He smirked emotionlessly “especially over a distant savage.”

“I’ve never known Narien to be a typical princess, always much more focused on being a hero like her mother.” Nienna smirked back at him. “Besides, in my experience your particular breed of savage is not without its charms.”

“Care to elaborate on that,” he asked with a confused look on his face. Then corrected himself “no don’t that is too private, my apologies.”

Nienna burst out laughing. “I believe you may be getting the wrong impression young duke. I only mean to say that I knew Owain to be quite charming and kind, that is all. It is not unreasonable to understand why a woman may be attracted, despite your ‘savagery’. But perhaps that is enough of this particular line of thought.”

“ I would agree, speaking of such things to woman of your standing or any is inappropriate.” He stated to her glad that he had not angered his host. “I suppose we can keep talking for hours for it seems…” he looked outside to see where the sun had moved already. “We already have spent much time. I am sure I can afford to remain another day incase you have more questions. In the meantime I should not keep you from your duties.” Then he stood to rise and give a salut. Then he pulled out two tomes one with strange markings, and one in elvish. “This book is for Armas for he had seemed interested in learning how to read the writings of the ancestors, and it will help in teaching it to him. This one is the full unabridged version of Bleddyn the Unholy. I will warn you the rhyme scheme is off due to the elven translation.”

Nienna grinned as she took the tomes. “I...Thank you very much Einir, I truly appreciate this. And you see, yet another reason for that courier, now I will have to come up with a gift for you without any time to consider what you might prefer.” She chuckled to herself. “Honestly, thank you. While I finish with these matters of court, an attendant can show you to a guest suite so that you may rest, and perhaps when we speak again you’ll have your own questions to ask rather than let me harass you for hours.”

“Any thing for an ally my dear Queen.” He said in an attempt to give an eastern style bow. He then waited for said attendant to come as she left the room.
 
Last edited:

Korona

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The Pass of Bergolir, 10 years into the epilogue.


A Dwarf in steel armor stands at the Outpost of Barûk-Dir, the cold wind thrashing out at him with relentless ferocity. The Dwarf has his hands grasped tightly around a long axe etched with runes in the Dwarvish language. The thudding of steps grow near, and the bearded warrior turns around to see another Dwarf in similar armor.

"Gamil! Have you come to relieve me of my duties?" The previously mention Dwarf asks.

"You guessed correctly Vali. Get your ass down to the hall and relax, you've been out 'ere for ages." Gamil replies, his tone commanding.

Vali lets out a chuckle. "You forget that I am the Commandant of this outpost Gamil.” He smiles a wide grin, and slams a meaty hand on Gamil’s back. “Thanks for takin’ my post Gamil.” With that, the Commandant walks away, and thuds down the chiseled steps into a
warmly lit barracks. Torchlight is bouncing off the cold stone walls of the barracks, casting shadows across the room. Three wooden tables are set up in the barracks with seemingly no logic in mind, as they are crooked, or in front of windows and doors. Sitting around one of these tables on wooden barrels are four dwarves, each wearing fur coats and boots, protecting themselves from the harsh wind outside.

“What’re you lot doing?” The Commandant asks in a gruff tone.

“Tryin’ t’ pass th’ time in this desolate place.” One of the dwarves replies.

A snort comes from the dwarf sitting across from the one who just spoke. “Shu’ up Fulur, stop gripin’.”

Fulur hits the dwarf. “Be quiet Ira.”

Ira laughs, and hits Fulur back.

Gamili crosses his arms, steel clinking as he does. “Fulur, Ira, stop. Fulur, you have cess duty for the nex’ week, Ira, you have double watch.”

Groans come from the two dwarves, before Vali pounds down the steps into the hall, out of breath. “D-dwarves! From Ghullkazid!”

The warriors in the room look at each other, and begin rushing around. They strap on armor, grab axes, load the crossbow at the top of the tower. Gamil stops, and walks towards a massive horn, one that is supported by the cliffs, and takes a massive breath. He puts his lips to the horn, and blows, letting out a massive sound that thunders throughout the Pass of Bergolir, echoing of the cliffs of the pass.
 

Plutonium95

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Think of the Children

Nienna stirred in her bed, unconsciously pulling her sheets closer as she slowly woke up. She laughed mutedly when she rolled over and saw Evhana staring intently at her. "Good morning. Am I interrupting something?"

Evhana sported a sly grin, hustling closer to Nienna, as she reached a hand up to caress her cheek. “It’s been nineteen years now.” She said with a faint whisper.

Nienna smiled and reached out to embrace Evhana. “Nineteen good years I think, despite some issues at the start. I hope that you’ve enjoyed them as much as I have.”

Evhana pulled herself closer into Nienna’s embrace, gently pressing her lip against the queen’s throat. “Immeasurably. We were young, lost, perhaps didn’t even know what love was. More eager to explore, and I hurt you when I didn’t even know what hurt was. Still…” She started to kiss her from the base of her neck, moving upwards towards her chin. “...the beauty has remained untouched…” Slowly Evhana’s hand disappeared from view, making its way under the covers.

Nienna gasped before giggling quietly. “I’m not quite so sure I would say untouched…” She moved her hand from Evhana’s back to her chin, raising it until their lips met. “We both made mistakes, there’s no need to dwell on them though.”

Evhana closed her eyes as her fingers kept finding their way over Nienna’s skin, and responded eagerly with another deep kiss, breaking it other with chuckling tease. “Long forgotten. A past now left unseen. For we were all young, and that is what youth is for. To try our mistakes. Besides… We had no one to tell us whenever we did them. No one to tell us what was right, what was wrong. My parents were already gone, and my sister was as well. Your father had untimely perished, and war and doom ever looming over our heads. Our children are lucky to have what they do.” Evhana raised her other hand to comb Nienna’s long red lustrous hair from her face, gently leaving a peck on her nose.

Nienna smiled, her face beginning to become flushed. “Of course they are, and that’s why we fought all those years ago, no? So that they could have what we couldn’t?” She laughed. “So far as I can tell they haven’t yet made any mistakes to compare to everything that happened when we were their age, thank the Light.”

Evhana gave another teasing grin, as she found the aim for her hand, seemingly spurred by Nienna’s face blending in colour with that of her hair. “We’ve always kept this a secret for the world, however. Not brash and openly flaunt with our perceived affections. It’s all and only our own.”

“I...it is not as if I wouldn’t want to tell others,” Nienna frowned slightly. She had nearly insisted on just the opposite long ago, but had been convinced otherwise. “You’ve said yourself though that it wouldn’t work politically. It doesn’t mean that I care about you less.” She tightened her embrace slightly as she tensed up, suddenly worried about where exactly the conversation was leading.

Evhana looked into her eyes more focused than before, leaving her hands exploration to hold her hands clasped over Nienna’s cheeks. “I wouldn’t dream of thinking any such thing. It took as long for me to realize I deserved this, and yet, I still lie here in awe over my damned luck. I am wholly and dutifully yours, my queen. I wouldn’t be half a soul without you.” She turned her serious grimace into smirk. “And I am not going to let my liege have an… Unfulfilled awakening.” Evhana giggled. “But not before she had her tea.” Evhana pressed her lips against Nienna’s, the sweet fragrance of her breath escaping into her nostrils. She slowly left her side and stood fully naked before her, as she walked across the room to pull over the dress she had worn for court the night before.

Nienna brushed her hair back from her face as she sat up in the bed and kicked the covers away, clad only in a simple thin nightgown. “So very considerate Evhana.” She laughed quietly. “I do suspect that you’d have gotten along just fine without me though honestly. Now, where I’d be without you, that’s another question entirely, though not one that I’d like to imagine.” The number of times Evhana had saved her from some issue, had helped to protect the kingdom, could scarcely be counted.

Evhana scoffed as she put the kettle over the fireplace. “I had one husband that rather damaged my flesh than actually raise it to any prominence. My second husband haven’t ever shared bed with me once. Clearly, you are rating me too great, and yourself far too abysmally. And it wasn’t the Therain of Mirrorwater that held our people together in those Dark years and beyond. I merely kept them within.” She raised a finger. “I could allure many, but people like your brother? You need a more pleasant touch I would assume.”

Nienna scoffed playfully, reclining against a pillow. “Ah, but you may never have married either of them if not for me. Besides, I’m not saying that you would have all the world at your feet, but I have faith that you would have managed. Still, I will take the compliment I think, so thank you.”

“Unless you’d wish to break my heart.” Evhana said with a grin, impatiently touching the kettle to heat it with her own flame. “I have no grand dreams. I want what is best for my children, and I want what’s best for our folk. Lavish crowns, luxury or fine meals be damned. I care for naught. It’s my blood I’m content to look after for.”

“A good attitude, to be sure, but the fine meals and crowns are quite nice as well.” With a laugh she moved to the foot of the bed, laying on her stomach as she watched Evhana heat the tea. “Honestly though, more people should think that way, I suspect there would be far less conflict if they did.”

By the whistle of the kettle, Evhana forced her mesmerized gaze from the queen and started to pour the hot water in cups, placing them on a gold plated silver tray. She sprinkled the herbs into the water, and brought over it to the bed, lying down with her feet to the left, staring into the ceiling. “I don’t ever think we’ll see a world such as that. We all dream it, but it’ll never come to pass. We’ll never be fully safe.”

Nienna shifted closer to her. “Well of course not, one could slip and fall getting into their bath. But we are safe enough, no? Galadriel has had peace for more than a decade and our people are free to live their lives as they see fit, for the elves from the Golden City that was only a dream.” She shrugged slightly, kissing Evhana’s cheek as she took one of the cups. “It’s not perfect, no, but things are much better than they used to be at least.”

The therain blushed, and with a wide smile leaned her head to the side, patting meaningfully at her own neck open and bare. “It is a small comfort, but how long can we keep that world for them? The more time other realms have had to rebuild, the higher grown has their ambitions. How do we keep ourselves out of their greedy paws, and keep their eyes fixed on other realms? We can’t have commitments, strings attached. And that Dwarf High King isn’t growing any less stubborn. Twice I approached him with parcels of Elven friendship, bartered over Yurdaest beneath any sense of dignity, yet he insist he will sit safe under his mountain, alone, on his cold, throne of quartz, and sand or stone or whatever he now fancy for jewelry.”

Nienna happily took the hint, taking a sip of her tea to heat her lips before beginning to slowly kiss her way along Evhana’s neck. “Is it such a worry? We have friends in both the Norselands and Ecclesitus.” She nipped lightly at the skin near her jugular. “Not to mention Ordivantes. As you say, the dwarves are content to sit under their mountains, and I doubt Hroniden pays us any mind.”

Evhana, gasping, squirmed with delight, as her pulse strongly echoed against Nienna’s lips. Squinting her eyes, she let all her defenses down, as her speech slowed down and hushed in its wake. “It is as we wish it… But we can’t say our neighbours neighbours will say the same. Hroniden may not care for us, but surely not the same can be said for Ecclestius or Highathar? Will the Nords contend with the intervention of my sister’s husband in their civil war? Will Ordivantes stay docile, while the Wildlands lay open for them to take? We inspire for no invasion, but allies? Can we afford sending our people to fight in another’s war?” She gently raised a hand to brush at Nienna’s crimson hair, weak and nearly paralyzed by her lover’s touch.

Nienna continued to kiss her, egged on by Evhana’s reaction, as her hand slowly moved down her spymaster’s body. “You may be right about that, I have no interest in fighting unnecessary wars.” She laughed slightly, pulling her head back to smirk at Evhana. “You’ll recall though that it’s your sister that married the king of Ecclestius, not mine, though she did come close.”

Continuing to enjoying herself, Evhana curled upon the bed, fixed in her place. “We both wish the best for our blood… And we are here to make sure our young don’t make the same mistakes we did. Isn’t my sister the very symbol of mistakes and bad decisions an echo throughout her entire youth? A youth she still suffers from? Those ties are strained for every passing year it seems. I don’t want that for your sister, and I wouldn’t want that for your son or my niece either.” She opened her eyes to seek out those of her queen’s.

Nienna raised her eyebrow, clearly amused as she continued her ministrations. “And what do Armas and Anwën have to do with this? Surely neither of them are seeking Varian’s hand in marriage.”

Evhana giggled, taking a pause to let out a moan. “She’s adorable, my niece, but one thing she’s never mastered is the art of silence. All she talks about seem to your boy, unless nonsense from her imaginations or books she’s been too distracted to fully read. We can’t let that happen. They’d easily fall in the Orc’s clutches I’m sure, used as pawns in his chess game played in a castle out of air. You’d want that for your son?”

“I’d want him to be happy, and to be a good ruler. As near as I can tell spending time with Anwën is the only thing that gets him to leave the library, that or his workshop.” She shrugged. “Besides, Anwën will be the Therain of Green Chasm one day, are simply not supposed to trust her because of who her father is? If anything I’d think that their relationship makes her less likely to be swayed.” She rolled off of Evhana looking at her more seriously.

Evhana sighed, sitting up at the bed’s end, lifting one of the cups of tea and sipping at it slowly. “I would like to think it so. But if we made mistakes in our youth, what prevents them from adhering the same? It only takes a little spark to ignite a fire, a small sidestep, a few encouraging words whispered behind the veil and out of our reach. Anwën still grew up in a Human court, with Human intrigue. You think she’d not be open to her father’s influence? The only thing Ra’Gru has taught us is that he cannot be trusted in any single way. He betrayed whom he fought for twice, betrayed your trust, betrayed his order’s sacred call for a crown, and worked for fifteen years to consolidate his hegemony over his people and their ruling class. You honestly think that should just be forgiven or even forgotten? Elves don’t have the luxury of being so easily fooled as the Ecclestians, so why open our realm to such blatant risks?”

“I honestly think that you worry too much.” Nienna’s grin slowly faded as she considered Evhana’s point. She loved her son and Anwën and wanted to be sure she that she did what was best for them. “But what would you expect me to do, even if I did agree? Tell my only child that he can no longer spend time with a girl that he clearly cares for, a girl who is more than just the child of Ra’Gru mind you. How could I do that to him while you and I sit here together nearly every time you come to Coal?” She sighed, brushing her hair from her face. “Besides, I still think that she’s a good influence on him, a king cannot spend all of his time shut away.”

With another sip, much deeper this time, Evhana leaned herself back towards the bed, looking up at the ceiling once more, growing increasingly interested with a speck of it at a time. “He’s the scholarly sort, isn’t he? Much for reading of history and workings of both magical and natural things?”

Nienna nodded. She had never much enjoyed studying the likes of history and math, though she did at her mother’s request. Armas on the other hand spent nearly all of his time with his nose buried in one book or another, something she just couldn’t relate too. “I don’t mean to imply that it’s a bad thing of course, he’s curious and bright, but yes, scholarly is probably the polite way to put it.”

“What if…” Evhana placed her tea down, adjusting her collar as she started to braid her hair. “What if you’d rather than send him from his point of diversion, to study the things he only read about in reality. A pilgrimage, if you may. A way to sate his appetite for knowledge rather than sating it with her?”

“It would be good for him, yes, but…” She hesitated, considering her words. “I doubt he would appreciate the thought, and it still means separating them, which I’m not entirely sure is for the best. I could not honestly say how close they are, but would you have been okay if my mother had tried to keep us apart. I’d have been furious with her.”

Evhana laughed. “Except for us being an unnatural match? Of course she would had tried to separate us. That’s what makes us work. All we have to focus is us, and our love. Not children, not marriage, not politics or what our families think of us, for we already know what they’d think of it.” Evhana sighed, and threw her hair over her shoulder, as she corrected her sleeves. “We’ve survived countless days apart from each other. It ached, but it survived. And there is no faulting us from setting boundaries for our blood. In that age, they need it, and even more so with such a heavy match… It’s clear that it is too early to trust them with their own emotions on the matter regardless.”

Nienna folded her arms across her chest. “Perhaps...Maybe I will speak with him, discuss the possibility of him spending some time outside of Coal, seeing other parts of Agorath, to further his studies.” She sighed before nodding to Evhana. “I suppose you’re right too, that they could do well to spend some time apart, it may be for the better truthfully. A few months couldn’t hurt a relationship that is actually mean to last.”

Evhana nodded in return, as she straightened her dress. “And let us hope their adventures take a different course…”

The door handle rattled, as the locked door was being approached from the other side. Evhana darts up from the bed, as the rattle is followed by a knock. “An urgent letter from Highathar, my queen.” Said the voice behind the door. “Do you want me to slide the letter underneath the door or would you read it for breakfast?”

Nienna quickly pulled the sheets around herself despite the door between her and the messenger. With a laugh she got out of bed and reached for her discarded dress from the previous day. “Under the door will be fine, thank you.” The letter was slid under the door, its paper brown, yellowed and torn, as if its journey had been tumultuous and in a great hurry.

Evhana sighed with relief. “I won’t soon forget when that Saxon duke rushed into our chambers because of an unhinged door. I’ll go wash my face while you deal with your affairs.” Evhana moved to the side room to clean in the water basin.

Nienna chuckled as she slipped out of the nightgown and pulled her dress over her head before crossing the room to the letter. “Though of the possible alternatives, I’d say that our Saxon friend was really one of the best to have rushed into the chambers. Certainly better than Ra’Gru or Ainikii, no?” With a chuckle she bent down to retrieve the letter, inspecting the seal.

Meanwhile, the splash of water could be heard from the other room. “The Saxon has all the same to hide. He would know what would happen should he had spoken between his lips. And being the friend he is with my sister, I doubt he’d wish me any more harm than I want him. The others… I have no idea what I’d do if they had known.”

Nienna smiled as she began to read the letter. “Nothing good I expect. My self, I’d…” She fell silent as she skimmed through the letter again, shocked. “E-Evhana?” Her voice shook as she spoke, barely above a whisper.

Evhana stepped out of the bathroom, clad in a wide brilliant smile as she had finished adorning herself. “As good as new, for a good new day, don’t you think?” She said as she held out her arms.

“I-I don’t...you need to see this…” She held the letter out, her hand shaking as she did. “I’m sorry…”

Evhana, with a puzzled look, took the letter and started to read it intently, holding it at an arm’s length to compensate for her farsightedness. She sported a curious smile as she continued to read, ending it with a chuckle. “No.” She said, assuringly, before the paper quivered in her hand, dropping to the floor. “No.” In a heartbeat, her knees had given up on her, as she fell down to the floor without a word. Elu was dead.
 

Endovelicus

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A Queens Coronation

End of the eighteenth year after the events of the Golden City.

It was a cold Light's end morning, even in Aingeal's Tower. The sound of music coming from the streets. A long day it would be. A festive day. A day long awaited.

My servants just arrived into my room to get me ready for today. First off I was helped out of my sleeping garments. Winds so icy it felt as if it was cutting through my skin, I shivered, but the thought of today kept me warm enough. My servants fetched me my undergarments, I quickly changed into them. Next came the corset, whilst one servant held the corset on me the other one tied the corset tight. I took a deep breath, the cold air filling my lungs, the corset getting even tighter. The next servants came around with hose already, made of the finest cloth the Elves could've made. The touch of it on my legs was heavenly, it fit perfectly. Next came a girdle, to even further tighten my mid rift, it was hard to breathe by now. I turned around, looked at myself in the mirror.

I am a full grown woman now, it was hard to deny that fact, every feature being shown so far.

Now came the defining clothes, starting with the surcoat, in a royal blue colour, the collar having a golden colour. Another group of servants came in, with my heartstopping gown. It was a matching royal blue colour with some golden trimming. The material was the finest Thaanosian cloth there was. It felt as smooth as Hroniden silk could feel. Next would be my cape, it also being royal blue with a golden trim, with the sigil of Aingeal embroided upon it. I turned toward the mirror once again, my auburn hair against a field of blue and gold. I was ready.

I made my descent down from the tower, with three servants holding the gown up, anticipation was building up the further we came down the stairs. I was counting every step I took. The door opened in front of me, a guard bowing in front of me, escorting me further. Down the second set of stairs into the great hall. The braziers were lit, the guards all bowing as I passed them. As I continued walking toward the entrance gates the guards behind me would stop bowing and follow me. We were walking through the hall in a wedge formation, one could say. As we arrived on the porch Rais stood there, waiting already, with him were two priests, one carrying a crown on a cushion, the other carrying the sword of Thanarios. The guards would continue walking down the stairs to the left and right of me whilst the last two guards would accompany me, Rais and the priests on the porch.

A few moments later my sister and mother came walking in, my sister had not looked me in the eye, my mother had however, with tears in her eyes. My mother and sister dressed in similar fashion, red dresses, with necklaces showing the sign of the Church of Thaanos. My sister, unlike my mother also wore her tiara.

As all three of us stood there, in front of our people the crowds would roar up in cheer. I looked over the crowd, most of the men being in armor, children holding on to their sky lanterns. All of those people in front of me in joy.

I moved toward Rais, the Archbishop and his priests and knelt. Maut had also joined us in the meantime, standing next to Rais, as Rais began to speak, ''We are gathered here today...'' Rais spoke with a quiet tone, so Maut used his thundering voice to convey the message to the public from our vantage point. ''... to crown our Lady Wyna Matilda.'' The first priest took a step forward with the sword and handed it to Rais. ''The sword of Thanarios shall ignite the strength of our people.'' He handed me the sword, I held the hilt in one hand, the tip on the other, in a horizontal fashion. The other priest took a step forward and handed Rais the crown. ''The crown of Thaanos shall ignite the wisdom of our people.'' He spoke as he laid the crown upon my head. ''Rise now, as the strength and wisdom of the people, as the spirit of Thanarios, as the Queen of Thaanos.'' I stood up and looked toward the crowd and took the sword to hand and raised it above my head and the cheering became even louder.

I would be a Queen from now on.
 

BlackBishop

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Ascension Denied
The Day of His Fall





The world sped below the hooves of the steed as the Maegi urged it on. The defilers had delayed her far too long and she was in danger of missing their reckoning. At long last the ancient bloodlines that committed first sin would be extinguished, and all would ascend to join the Light. Cleansing Darkness would wash over all and the world would begin anew.

"Halt!" Cried a challenge that brought her from her thoughts. It was a Dwarf, one of the Ghullkazid. He was clad in heavy armour and bore a great spear twice as long as him.

"News soldier and fast." The Maegi ordered. "How goes the battle, is our time nigh? Speak quickly!"

The Dwarf bowed low. "Your Holiness, I did not know. The High King assaults the city walls. He has breached the gates and his golems crush the defiler troops. The drow attack the Nords and sand-folk at Burnt-Bridge, their victory is assured, so I am told."

"What of our God?"

"A great storm has descended upon the city, never before seen even by the Seven Fathers, I deem."

The Maegi's lips curled up in a smile. "Stay vigilant. We will win this day!" She snapped the reigns of her stolen horse, and like a bolt of lightening it carried her forth.

She soon reached the rear ranks of the Drow army that assaulted the Defiler force, a joint army of Hroniden and Nord forces caught outside of the city. The soldiers saluted and bowed hailing the return of their holy leader. "Her Holiness has returned to us, Free from the grasp of the sinners!" The nearest soldier cried out.

"They should have killed me when they had their chance," returned the Maegi. "Weakness stayed their hand." Her horse suddenly let out a great cry and collapsed, dead from exhaustion. She pulled herself free from the fallen beast and addressed the soldiers. "Who commands here?"

"General Deduis perished yesterday. Captain Drauinid Myep now commands the army." Answered the soldier.

"Take me to him."

As the Maegi and her escorts made their way toward the front line, the priestess admired the beauty of death that was all around her. In the sky above the Dark One rained down putrid rains that reanimated the corpses of his enemies. Great beasts were beckoned from the ground, made of rock and dirt and hungry for the blood of defilers and scattered throughout were the bodies of men.

"There!" Pointed the soldier, toward a great banner that ascended above the heads of fighting drow and men, far ahead where the fighting was thickest.

She narrowed her eyes, then turned toward the soldiers that had gathered around her. "Steel yourselves. We charge headlong to where it is bloodiest. Spears to the front. Swords at their sides with your shields up. Archers get behind me. Now move, move! Drows know no fear!"

The formation trotted forward in a quickened pace, with the Maegi at the center. The men that got in their way run through with spears, then hacked aside by the sworddrows. A column of cavalry threatened to run them down, but a fog of shadow willed by the Maegi rendered the horsemen into screaming skeletons, their flesh melting off their bones.

At last they reached the banner of the Drow captain. He stood atop a small hill, surrounded by his soldiers. There they were making a valiant stand from a Nord counter-attack, though their ranks were beginning to break and falter. Some berserkers had infiltrated their circle, and hacked away at the backs of the soldiers. Captain Myep slew the great Nord, cleaving his body in two with his greatsword.

The Maegi and her soldiers rushed the hill, pushing back the Nord troops until they sounded a retreat, the hill nearly buried in their dead.

"Report, captain!" Ordered the Maegi, her eyes filled with blood-lust.

The captain saluted, recognizing her immediately though she couldn't say that she knew him. "Your Holiness. We have routed the army of men. They cling to refuge in the nearby village, no doubt seeking safety on the east bank of the Rill. I was about to leave a regiment behind to guard the river while we join Birch in the city."

"No," she countered. "Leave them to Darkness, let the Creator feast upon the defilers that seek to hold him there."

The captain nodded. "Then to the village, to finish off the men."

"No Captain."

Your Holiness..." he began to object.

"Hold your tongue and listen. Their is a chance for history to repeat itself, and for Dark's Bane to be wielded at last. In that event, we must be prepared. Keep a regiment to guard the river, but know that should all fall ill, they will likely die. For us, we must prepare for the worst. Shift your forces to the west. We will break for Hroniden in all speed."

"But our victory..."

"Is anything but assured, Captain. You know naught what I know." It was at that moment that a blinding light broke out from the Tower of Light. A deafening roar followed by the slow dissipation of the Dark cloud that hung over the battlefield. The army stood dumbfounded. "Now, Captain! No need to guard the Rill now. We must make haste!"

"It's not possible! I don't believe it!" The jaw of Myep had dropped and he stood as a fool.

"Your eyes do not deceive you, now sound the retreat!"

The attack came swiftly at the hands of the Hronidians and Nords, their resolve emboldened by the victory in the city. Their retreat was slow and halted by the attacks of the men at their rear. Though the Dark One was now banished, his death call echoing across the sky, the Maegi still wielded considerable power, and was able to erect a veil of Darkness that masked their retreat. They were soon joined by the Dwarves of Ghullkazid, and in a great horde, made their way west.

The Dark One was gone and a new age had now dawned, as it was long ago. History had a way of repeating itself, but one lingering thought broke through her pain and grief.

Her time would soon be at an end.
 
Last edited:

Gorganslayer

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Eloen looked out from the window of her accommodation, letting her eyes dance on every little detail that passed her eyes, from the fruit vendor, the ravens flying from the rookery, she was perceptive never missing a detail. she yearned to explore the city, and lose herself in it’s vast alleyways and paths, to have to smell of the city cling to her clothes. she thought to herself for a moment pondering before an idea struck her, as she passed out into the city to look for Cacame.

It did not take her long to find the young Elven boy, as he walked out of a tailors in the upper-class districts of town. His long white hair was arranged into bangs, and his clothing was a rich wine red decorated with swirling silver patterns. Despite his handsome appearance, the young Elf looked displeased with something. Cacame spied Eloen as she walked up to him, and gave the noblewoman a formal bow. “Lady Eloen, it is always a pleasure.”

“Hello, Cacame, I was hoping I would find you! Dont you think it’s a wonderful day today? Eloen said, her voice resonating like clear musical notes on a summer breeze. “I was hoping you could show me this great city? I profess to not having much of a sense of direction” she laughed

The short boy smiled at her and nodded happily. “It would be my pleasure. You’re going to have to forgive me for being over-dressed. There is a small ball of sorts scheduled to happen at one of my mother’s vassals courts, can’t remember his name right now, so I had to get some new clothes!” Offering her his hand, he gave her a bright smile. “Now! Is there anywhere you would like to go in particular?”

“A Ball? she exclaimed with a hint of excitement, “oh how much i would love to go to one, we never had anything of the sort in my home, and if i do say so myself those clothes look very nice.” she continued with a smile. “and I would like to go where ever you would like to go” she concluded

“Then let’s just have a wander for a while then.” Taking her hand in his, Cacame began to lead Eloen along the cobbled streets. “You don’t have balls in Halam’shiral? That’s rather strange! If you’d like you can come along to the one I am going to, as my partner. I must warn you though, the ball is not on the large side but is a bit of a modest affair. The lord hosting it doesn’t have the same wealth to draw on as the Therons, Therains and the Queen.”

“No we have not had the time, most of that has been spent rebuilding and dealing with our own private issues. and i don’t care how private it is it sounds like a lot of fun!!! she said with a small spring in her step.

“It’s a plan then!”

“Well” Eloen said with a smirk, I need a new dress if i'm coming to this ball! you wouldn’t happen to know anywhere?”

“For dresses? Umm, not really.” Cacame admitted. “I know where to find clothes for men, but not for women. Uh, maybe one of the ladies at Auntie’s court will be able to tell you a nice place.” Cacame shrugged slightly before smiling again. “I’m sure you’ll look gorgeous in whatever you where!”

“Well, maybe you can invite me to one of your lady friends, because i don't really feel like going out it this” Eloen said, the smirk still not leaving her face, “because I’m not going out in this” she points at the shirt and skirt she is wearing, which was stained with dust.

“I’ll ask around for you then.” Cacame said gallantly. The two walked in silence for a minute, passing shops and street vendors galore, before Cacame began to speak again. “I gotta admit, I don’t know a whole lot about the sights of Coal. It’s different from Mirrorwater, my home, but aside from that I can’t really tell you all that much.”

Eloen looked over at Cacame, studying his face, “tell me of Mirrorwater, please i have never been but it sounds like a nice place” she asked.

“Sure. Well, the main feature of Mirrorwater is the lake of the same name. If you stand on one of the balconies of the palace there, in the early hours of the morning, you can see the mist retreat from the lake’s surface revealing the beautiful life that thrives within it.” Cacame paused to scratch his chin thoughtfully before he continued. “With my mother as Therain, Mirrorwater has grown into one of the most prosperous areas of Galadriel. Trade between Coal and Mirrorwater is strong, and we also have a quite sizeable Nordic population living in the coastal areas. Despite this Mirrorwater is, ultimately, a place of peace. Banditry is rare and quickly stomped on, in no small part thanks to my step-dad’s role as marshall of the realm.” Cacame laughed quietly. “But here I am rambling on. What can you tell me about your home then, about Halam’shiral?”

“Well, the whole province is basically one giant forest, the last parts of the great forest before the plains of Eccelstius, they say everything in the province is tinged with green, due to history and slavery we tend to be more militarised than most, so there are several forts on the southern side. the cities, well they tend to be a lot smaller, but are often mixed with the forest so they are built as one with the environment, our favourite stone is white marble and i must say it makes everything look beautiful, you should visit sometime.” Eloen explained. “anyway mirrorwater sounds amazing, but i can’t help but wonder what about those nords? aren’t they aggressive towards us?

“Nope.” Cacame smiled. “Oh sure, some don’t like us for having pointed ears, though most don’t give half-a-damn. A fair few of the Nords in Mirrorwater have been born and raised in Galadriel, so they don’t share the thoughts of their kin back in Norseland. Most are interested in business rather than sword-shaking anyway.”

“so where is this place you're taking me?” Eloen asked.

“It’s near the border between Mirrorwater and Coal.” Cacame explained. “Not too far off the main road. I forget the name of the place…” He blushed slightly. “If Mum, I mean Evhana, heard that I was forgetting the titles and names of her vassals she would be livid.”

“Your mum is Evhana?” Eloens eyes lit up, “I know my father has always spoken highly of her, what is she like in person?”

“Uhh…” Cacame laughed and rubbed his free hand through his hair. “She is like my Mum… Sorry, but I’m not too sure on how to answer that. She is a hard-worker, is devoted to her family, and is Auntie Nienna’s best friend since childhood. That about sums it up I think, unless there is something specific you want to know?”

“Nothing unless you have something you want to tell me” she laughed.

“About my mother?” Cacame said teasingly. “Do you have a crush on her?” He laughed and waved his hand. “Kidding, kidding.”

“No, i think i have a crush on someone else” Eloen blushed and looked away quickly.