Thirteenth Chapter Jul 3, 2007 22:49:07 GMT -5
Post by Lady Elestirne on Jul 3, 2007 22:49:07 GMT -5
Some years passed and a peaceful state of mind descended on Elentirmo as time went by with no sign of an attack. There were moments were it seemed as though Elestirne's sensing of the magic and Galion's warning of an attack to come were nothing more than barely remembered bad dreams-ones of the sort where nothing remained of them but unsettled feelings and vague impressions of the things the dreams had been about. For now life was good and full of joy, with no fear or thought of dark things-and Elentirmo liked it like this.
He had begun teaching Elestirne how to track, fight and hunt ever since that day he had met Galion in the clearing and the child had come along well in that time. She had become quite adept at stealth and tracking, and fairly adept at knife, dagger and hand-fighting. She had also shown to be a good hand at the bow as well, in that time. He had started her on the sword a little as well, and had begun to train her a little in magic-though a little reluctantly-for he knew she would need to be taught eventually. Sometime soon he would have to teach her a little in her abilities for the foresight…
Elentirmo shook those thoughts off and brought his mind back to the present which-he mentally reminded himself-he should be content with. Why worry about the future when life was good for the present? Even though he knew, ultimately, what awaited him… Once again Elentirmo shook his head; pushing those thoughts to the back of his mind as he allowed his gaze to drift over the grove until they rested on Elestirne. Instantly, dark thoughts evaporated from his mind as he looked on his daughter.
She had grown so much in these last few years. Now she neared Amaurea in height but was still about four inches shorter than her mother. Elentirmo could see already that she was going to be taller than Amaurea when full-grown.
That will be my blood coming through, he mused to himself. The women of the high kindred are taller than our wood-elven brethren. I wonder what blood will be the stronger in her? What kindred shall have the greater influence in her personality and traits? Thoughtfully, he studied her.
It was hard to say. She was going to be at least six feet tall, or a little over-average for a woman of the high kindred, tall for a wood-elven one. The skin of the wood-elves tended to range from a light gold or warm peach to tan. The high kindred on the other hand, tended to have light to fair skin. Elestirne, he was glad to see, was a blend of the two; her skin a light toned peach brushed with soft gold.
Elentirmo smiled as he continued looking at his daughter. She had become such a beautiful child and would be still more beautiful when full-grown, he knew beyond a doubt. Long, night-dark hair sparkling with subtle silver glints flowed down her back; tumbling to just beyond her waist in lustrous, silvered midnight waves. Her eyes were a sparkling silver-grey, as bright and clear as stars. Her face was youthful and innocent, unmarked yet by sorrows or cares-as Elentirmo knew it would eventually become, as he had seen it in his vision of her; a young queen, breathtakingly beautiful and fair, with deep sorrowful eyes full of wisdom, the eyes of one who has endured hurts and cares, and who has seen many things in the world-some good, some ill.
Once again Elentirmo shook his head-mentally rebuking himself. Why cannot I keep my thoughts on the present? Why must they always drift ahead to the future-try as I might to keep them focused on the present? Is it because I am a seer and unable to help it-or is it because I am supposed to be thinking of the future? Why can I not content myself with what is, with the here and now? Why do my thoughts invariably turn to what will be, to what is to come? It is the mark-and curse-of a seer I suppose. We are never able to be content simply thinking of the present and focusing on the here and now, rather we're always thinking of the future and what is to come. A rueful, self-mocking smile appeared on Elentirmo's face. Always thinking of what will come, of what lies ahead. Never able to focus on what is, on what is happening-unable to live in and enjoy the present without also thinking and worrying about the future. Well…it cannot be helped I suppose. I am a seer-it is the job of a seer to think of the future and what is to come.
A slight frown touched his face now, replacing the smile. But it does not mean that I must like some of the things to come that I invariably find myself thinking of… The frown deepened. Like the attack, when it will come, how it will happen, where it will happen…how I will die if Galion's vision was true. None of these things I have any answered to-nor any way of having them answered-but still I find myself thinking of and worrying about them. Galion might know or be able to answer some or all of these, but as for me I am left blind in the dark; trying to grasp and understand things that perhaps I am not meant to, but wanting to nonetheless. His frown gave way to a worried look. What has become of Galion I wonder?
Not that it was unusual-or aught of the sort-but Elentirmo had not seen the seer in quite some time. In fact…not since the last I spoke with him-in that clearing some years ago now as mortals reckon time. Briefly, Elentirmo wondered if the ancient mystic had been hiding from or avoiding him for some reason, but quickly the dark-haired elf discarded that thought. What cause would he have to avoid or hide from me? There are no secrets between us that I am aware of. It may be simply that he is too busy or too preoccupied to come by.
Yet-although Elentirmo told himself this had to be the reason for the seer's seeming absence –his heart told him it was not so. A shred of doubt needled at him. What if Galion had been avoiding him all this time since the two had last spoke? What if the ancient seer had learned and was hiding something and that was the reason Elentirmo had not seen nor heard from him in years? Had Galion seen or learned something in his meditations-something that concern or have to do with Elentirmo-that would give the seer cause to avoid him?
Elentirmo felt a chill run up his spine. If that were so, then had Galion seen or learned something more of the attack? Or had he seen more of the prophecy and Elestirne's destiny? If the first, then why had he not come to him? Unless Elentirmo was not meant to learn whatever the seer had discovered? And the same for the second...if either or both were true-especially if they were important-then why had Galion not come? Elentirmo paused, thinking. Should he fetch Duath and try to seek Galion out and learn why the seer had not come to him since the last time they had spoken?
He considered this for a long moment. I think too much,he decided at length. Why must I always be worrying and thinking? I should focus on the simple pleasures-the simple things in life-and not worry as much as I do. Worrying accomplishes nothing. It only drains away the enjoyment in life and that I most certainly do not need. I have no way of knowing when my life-as Galion said-will be cut short, so why deny myself enjoyment of the life remaining to me? Why waste it in worry? Let come what may: live day by day. Why dwell in the future when you can-and should-enjoy the present? I really do think too much…
Shaking his head, Elentirmo returned his focus to the current time. A smile again touched his face as he resumed watching his daughter. She was a ways off on her own; practicing and honing her abilities with the long knife and hand fighting. The dark-haired elf felt a warm glow of pride as he watched her practice unnoticed.
Her movements lacked the finesse and confidence of the experienced warrior but, looking past the inexperience and arkwardness, Elentirmo saw a hidden beauty and grace to his daughter's movements-a grace and beauty, he knew, that would become more apparent as she grew older. She moved obviously and self-consciously-with little strength-but deliberateness and subtlety would come in time, and her movements would flow one into the other; instead of being painfully separate as they were now.
Watching her, he nodded slightly to himself. She had learned well, and quickly, in the short time he had been training her-only a few years as elven-kind accounted the flow of time, but considerably more as mortals did-and much more than swordplay. Stealth, hunting, and a little magic she had learned from him as well; and tracking, pathfinding, knowledge of herbs in the use of healing and knowledge of the forest and ways of animals from Amaurea. What a remarkable child, and such a precocious one, Elentirmo mused. And in addition to all these abilities she has the foresight. Who would have guessed that her mixed heritages would have blended together so smoothly and given her so many abilities- the best, it would seem-of both kindreds? I do not like to admit it, but I had my doubts when she was younger that she would be strong enough-as Galion said long ago-for the fate ordained for her. Looking on her now though-seeing how much she has grown and matured-I have no such doubts any longer. Now I understand why it must be her, and no one else. It is not just mine and Amaurea's mingled blood in her-though that is a part. Nor is it her abilities-though those will undoubtedly serve her in good stead; the foresight, weapons training, and healing not the least. It is because there is a power and strength in her that, though hidden now, is no less potent;a light that shines bright and steady and will not be falter or go out, though it may dim or flicker now and anon. She will a great queen; a force not to be underestimated, nor reckoned with or taken lightly…
Shaking his head clear of his thoughts Elentirmo looked to the sky. The day was cloudless and clear, mild and balmy, and a light breeze blew through the trees-a perfect spring day. It would be a wonderful day for a ride and perhaps it would serve well to keep his mind off things… Should he bring Elestirne? He deliberated a moment-thinking-then nodded. Yes, he decided. He would enjoy her company and she deserved to take a break from her practice.
"Elestirne. Come here my child." His voice-deep for an elf's-carried easily; disturbing the quiet.
A little startled, Elestirne looked around quickly-for she had not known her father had been watching. At once she abandoned her practice-sheathing her long knife-and came to stand before her father; curiosity in her eyes. "Yes Father?"
Another mark of her maturing, Elentirmo lamented-besides her obvious progress in her training and physical growth-was that she hardly ever called him ' Ada' or Amaurea 'Ama' anymore. He realized that he missed it, for it showed that she was growing up and that was something he resented, for he felt that his childhood was ending too quickly. The dark-haired elf felt a sudden twinge of uncertainty. Hadn't Galion said something, years ago, that the attack would come at the end of her childhood? He had said something about her childhood and the attack to be sure but-however much Elentirmo strained his memory-he could not recall what those words had been. Strange… Shaking his head a little,the dark-haired elf refocused his thoughts. "I was just about to go on a ride through the woods with Duath. Would you and little Isil like to come with daughter?"
Elestirne's eyes lit up and a delighted look spread over her face. She loved to ride-though she was never allowed to go too far beyond the grove-and she loved even more to spend time with her father, whom she held in undisguised awe and wonder. She both adored and revered him. She loved Amaurea also of course-the bond between mother and daughter was undeniably strong-but it seemed sometimes to Elentirmo that she was drawn to him more; perhaps sensing just how like the two of them were to each other. He chuckled as the child ran to collect and ready her palfrey. Amaurea came up as he stood waiting; slipping an arm around his waist. "You are looking pleased my love."
"Do you see her?" he asked his wife; indicating Elestirne as the young elf readied her palfrey. "So young and carefree sometimes, so solemn and thoughtful others. She is as a bright star; radiant and shining. Her light enhances and enriches all about her. So precious. I see myself in her dearest."
"We are both in her,"Amaurea remarked,also watching the child. "We come together in her love. All of our traits meet and are balanced in her. She has my gentle heart, patience, kindness, and compassion, and my love of nature and ability with healing and she has your stubbornness, curiousity, wisdom, nobility of spirit, sense of adventure and thoughtful manner-as well as your aptitude with weapons and skill of foresight. So beautiful too." The wood elf sighed happily. "I could of hoped for nothing less. She will be more than the queen she is destined to be, and the foretold healer the kindreds have been waiting for-she will be a legend in her own time. Her name, together with the name of the realm will become well-known in the lands beyond the mountains and the name of the Starbrow shall be spoken of with respect and reverence." Amaurea's face was joyful and she leaned against Elentirmo contently.
Elestirne came up then; her face eager. "I'm ready Father. Can we go?"
Elentirmo looked at Amaurea, who wore a look of wry amusement. "You have not yet asked your mother dear one. I think she would appreciate it."
"Oh Mother may I?" Elestirne asked instantly, anxiously. "Please?"
"Yes child you may. Just don't go too far."
"Thank you Mother!" Elestirne hugged Amaurea joyfully, and then scrambled into her saddle.
Elentirmo whistled a shrill call and within moments Duath had come up. He readied the mighty stallion and swung astride after kissing Amaurea. "We will not go too far dearest, nor linger too long. It's so nice out though, that I thought it a good idea. Do you want to come with love?"
Amaurea laughed; kissing and embracing Elentirmo as her husband leaned down from Duath's back. "Not this day beloved. Other tasks call me. Herbs need be dried and cut, seeds planted. And there are trails that need be cleared. No, I'll not accompany this time. Enjoy your ride. I will be waiting when you return." On impulse she added, though she did not know why. "Varda bless and keep you and the sun shine on your path and light your way."
She watched as the pair left the grove. A chill wind sprang up suddenly-though there had not been the least breath of one a moment before-and whistled coldly through the trees. Amaurea shivered despite the warmth and brightness of the day; feeling an unaccountable sense of loss as she watched Elentirmo and young Elestirne disappear amid the trees, quickly becoming hidden from view.
Elestirne rejoiced to be out with her father, riding side by side through the sunlight. It had been some time since he had last invited her to ride with him and she loved to spend time with him. Unobtrusively, Elestirne sneaked glances at him every so often as they rode. She adored Elentirmo and revered him in the same instant. Her father, she thought was like the night: deep, mysterious, and a little aloof at times. Her mother, on the other hand, was like the day: warm, bright, and golden; always laughing, smiling or singing. So where do I come in?, she wondered. The thought had never before occurred to her. If Father is like the night and Mother like the day then am I, their child, like the twilight-neither one nor the other but both?
Another new thought struck her and she wondered that she had not thought of it before. Where are the other elves? The child had never seen anyone beside herself and her parents, yet she knew that they were not the only elves, not the only ones of their kind-for she had heard her mother speak of the wood-elves and call them her people, and had likewise heard her father speak occasionally of a 'high kindred'-so she knew that there had to be other elves besides her parents. Added to that, she had begun to have strange dreams; dreams of a white city, a high hill, and a deep, cool forest-though she could not say what they meant. But she knew undoubtedly that there had to be other elves.
But where are they and why haven't I met or seen any? she wondered. The barest hint of a frown creased her forehead. And why is it that I haven't ever been allowed to go too far beyond the grove, or out of sight of it? It's almost as though Mother and Father are afraid of something…but what? What would they be afraid of, and why? Are they afraid that I would get lost? Mother has shown me how to find my way back if such a thing happened so that cannot be it. But what then? Suddenly it occurred to her to question where she had never dared-or thought-to before. "Father?" she called ahead.
"What is it dear one?" Her father answered without looking back but Elestirne knew that he was paying attention.
"Why haven't I seen or met any elves besides you and Mother?"
Elentirmo was completely taken by surprise. When Elestirne had spoken, he had thought that she was going to ask where they were going, or how far-or what some bird or tree was. But not this. He would never have expected this question from her-mostly because he had assumed it would never occur to her to ask such a question. The dark-haired elf was flustered and stunned. His thoughts raced as he scrambled to find a worthy answer that would be believable and satisfactory, yet he was unable to come up with one.
"Well…" he began, then stopped. How to answer her? That is, how to answer her about why she had not met or seen any elves besides himself and Amaurea without potentionally giving something away-either about the prophecy, her destiny, or the traitor? This was a dilemma for Elentirmo. How to answer her truthfully without giving anything away? Could he answer her truthfully? He could, he decided, but it would have to be done carefully.
"There is a reason you have not seen other elves my daughter," he said evasively. "Just as there are reasons for everything. What you asked you will learn eventually." It wasn't a lie, but he felt guilty about it all the same.
"When the time is right dear one. All things have their own time."
Elestirne fell silent a moment then, "Where do the other elves live Father? Do they live in a city?"
How did she guess?, he asked himself; worried. "Some do, yes-but not all."
"Why haven't I been to the city?"
"You will someday Elestirne." Elentirmo was beginning to get unnerved by his daughter's questions.
"When it is time child." Glancing back, he saw a slight frown crease Elestirne's brow. The child fell into silence and Elentirmo breathed a sigh of relief; thinking her questions at an end. They were troubling him-for he had never known her to question things. Never before has she asked questions about other elves, or where they dwelt and why she hasn't met them. Why the sudden questions? It unsettles me. She is usually so thoughtful and quiet. Is the foresight prompting these sudden questions? Or is the prophecy manifesting itself somehow? How should I have answered her?
Another question came to him and he frowned a little. Suppose she asks another question. What do I do? Should I just tell her the truth of everything; of her heritage, destiny, and the prophecy? Tell her about him? For a moment, he was sorely tempted to, but then he remembered that Galion very strictly had said not to and-if nothing else-he trusted the seer. After all, he reflected. I was not told the truth of my heritage and lineage until after I had come of a suitable age, and my parents were not the ones who told me when I at last learned it…
The high elf's frown deepened slightly. Galion was the one that did that…my parents told me nothing about my heritage or history save that I was a noble, of an ancient high-blooded family that-although largely forgotten-had survived the feud and attack following it. It was the seer that had told him that he was not only nobility but royalty. But, he reflected, there had been some sort of truth to what my parents had said-that I was of an ancient family, and high-blooded. I wonder if they were under the same constrictions as I am? Did Galion tell them not to tell me anything until I was mature enough to take it? Of course…by then they were gone and could not reveal my heritage whether constrained or no. But they told me what they could, or were allowed to I think, he decided at length. Just as I am telling Elestirne as much I dare or am allowed to… I wish I could tell her all though-as my parents must have wished they could have told me everything. It is such a heavy burden. Now I know why Father always seemed so solemn and thoughtful, and Mother so quiet…
Why is it that I wasn't told-or supposed to be told-until a certain age? Elentirmo wondered suddenly. Is it because they had not thought that I would not be ready or mature enough to handle the shock such a revelation would cause? Did they just want to wait until they felt it was a good time to tell me the truth? Or…is it because there was or would have been danger in telling me before a certain time? Were they afraid that telling me before a certain time or age would increase the danger, somehow draw the enemy to me? Or were they afraid that I-if told too soon-would go in search of the faithless one and try to take him on myself? I was stubborn and headstrong when I was young; reckless and foolish as my mother was always saying…
A slight smile touched Elentirmo's lips as memories of his youth came to him: memories of his mother's worried scolding whenever he had been gone longer than he should have; 'borrowing' his father's horse and sword and playing at being a mighty knight from the time before the feud and not knowing the first thing about riding and only marginally more about swords. His father had always laughed at the sight, but his mother had been considerably less amused…
"Father?" Elestirne's voice brought him back to reality.
"Yes dear one?" he responded automatically.
"Where are we going today? It has been some time since I last rode with you."
So it has, he realized. When was the last time I took her on a ride with me? It has been some years at least…and Galion told me I should spend as much time as possible with her. There was a twinge of guilt as he remembered that he had not been doing that… Shaking himself free of his thoughts, he answered his daughter's question before his mind drifted again. "I didn't have any one destination in mind this day child. Why don't you choose?"
Elestirne was delighted, though surprised. Never before during any previous rides with her father had she been allowed or asked to choose where they went. This was a rare privilege and she thought very long and hard before answering. Her voice was slightly tentative when she spoke-as though she were afraid that Elentirmo would disapprove of her suggestion, or that it would be too bold a suggestion. "Father…I would like to…may we go to the edge of the forest?" The request tumbled from her, uttered shyly and anxiously-with a tentative glance at her father's back
Elentirmo reined Duath to a halt; taken aback by the unexpected request. He heard Elestirne stop beside him, but she did not speak-waiting for his answer, he knew. He thought for a few minutes-considering the request carefully-but could find nothing wrong with going to the edge of the forest. Normally, he would have said no-especially if she had been alone-but he was with her and it was a bright, clear day. Surely no harm would come of going to the edge of the forest and it would at least assuage some of her curiosity perhaps- for the city could be glimpsed from forest's edge. The tall elf thought a little longer, then nodded. "I cannot see why not. Yes child, we may go to the edge of the forest-I see no harm in it."
"Oh thank you Father!" Leaning from her saddle so much that she was in danger of falling off, Elestirne hugged him tightly-as best as she could-then began talking excitedly to her mare. "Did you hear Isil? We are going to the forest! Do you think that I will see other elves?" The small mare whickered and whinnied softly; the bells on her bridle jingling as she shook her white head.
Duath snorted disapprovingly and shook his head, but Elentirmo chuckled softly; seeing how happy he had made his daughter. Smiling, he nudged the dark stallion forward and beckoned to Elestirne. "Come daughter."